Disclaimer: Don't own 'em.

Spoils: Everything.

Set: Future season.

Rating: PG.

For: A.j., the Evil.

Breathing

by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Sam Carter forgets to breathe, somtimes.

On missions, it's not a problem. Adrenaline, routine, danger, safety--all of these remind her to breathe. Even in a briefing where Daniel bores her to tears, she remembers.

Janet might once have joked about autonomic functions.

Of course, Janet is dead now.

That was the catalyst, of course. The reason she's made this decision. This choice that once seemed impossible to even contemplate.

Janet's death had smacked her in the face with reality.

She, Samantha Elizabeth Carter, could die without warning. Not that this was a new thing. But Janet had been the closest thing she had to a sister. And the glaring harshness of reality was so slammed home to her now.

And that scared her.

It scared him, too.

Not that it was that simple, of course. Things in her life rarely were. She had a boyfriend, for one thing. And Pete Shanahan had been a nice guy, able to satisfy her and make her happy.

Until now. Because if she could die, then so could Jack O'Neill. And that terrified her more than anything had in a long time.

Pete hadn't understood her sudden coldness. The way she withdrew while still talking inanities at him. The stiltedness that overcame her when he tried to caress her, hands sliding over skin that suddenly didn't want him anymore.

Their relationship crumbled, the sand at its base a quagmire that she stepped into with a strange smile.

He objected. He threw tantrums. He tried to bring up classified matters that he had no fucking right to touch. In the end, he hadn't stood a snowball's chance in hell of keeping her. Not when she'd finally faced her life, made the decision.

Jack, on the other hand, had been a hell of a lot more difficult to convince. He'd become certain this was just a rebound thing, or that she was trying to change things for the wrong reasons. For two weeks, she wondered if her battered emotions resembled that melted snowball in hell.

It took Daniel and Teal'c, of course.

Why did these things always seem to require external help? She'd wondered that often, during that third week.

Daniel and Teal'c (collectively) slapped some sense into Jack.

Which had meant that the next time she cornered him (locker room. Friday. Damp from a shower) he didn't stand a chance.

So now she has him, her Colonel.

And he sleeps like the dead (he claims this is the best sleep he's had since the early days with Sara, and that's SO not a comparison she wants to make) in her bed.

But she sleeps good, too.

Only, sometimes, she wonders if this is all too good to be true. If fate will suddenly snatch him away from her.

And she forgets to breathe.

Unbeknownst to her, there are times when he forgets to breathe too.

-finis-