Disclaimer: Not mine.

Rating: PG.

Spoilers: Up through Lost City.

Archive: Eh. Wherever.

Summary: There was supposed to be kissing in the engine room. Damnit.

Set: During Lost City, part two.

Notes: A.j.'s fault. She was complaining about the script alteration. Title comes from Hole's song of the same name. I swear, that band is bad for my brain... So. Angsty. Incidentally, Sam and Jack have to be related to Susan and James of Freedom & Necessity... Now, my head hurts.

Dedication: A.j.! Since this whole SG-1 thing is all her damn fault.

Malibu

by Ana Lyssie Cotton

There's so much she wants to say. Words that she never thought she could allow. And she's still holding herself back, even now. Even having gone to his house (and damn Daniel and his donut fixation), Sam can't take that last step. Not without knowing... something. Anything.

So she's going to stick to business, she informs herself as she steps into the engine room. Jack O'Neill is tinkering with the ship's engines. This should surprise her.

It does surprise her, on some level. On another, she knows it's right.

He looks up as she approaches, his eyes full of thoughts from somewhere far away. Or closer to home. She's not really sure anymore. The alien device he stuck his head into has made him... alien to her, as well.

"Give me your zat." She does, watches as he fires into the crystals. She wants to ask how this works, knows he can't explain. The crystals shimmer and the harmonics change. Almost, Sam can feel the ship move faster. "There ya go."

Business, she thinks. She's supposed to stick to business. Get out the words she doesn't want to say, knowing they have to hurt him. They hurt her, after all. "Sir. I think you should know that General Hammond authorised me to take command of the team if I determined that you..." She can not finish. She doesn't want to finish. It goes against everything that makes her word stable to tell Jack O'Neill that his mental capacity has diminished beyond his ability to function as the leader of SG-1.

"Do it now." The words have no inflection, and she wants to scream at him, suddenly. How can he be so CALM?

"Sir, I don't think that's necessary--"

"I trust you. I'll make it easy for you. I resign. You're in charge." And he waits. Looks at her, and waits.

Some part of her wants to scream still, wants to hide in a closet until all the bad men have gone away and she is not suddenly in charge of the fate of the universe. And this is so fucking unfair! But she can't concentrate on that, because he trusts her. Jack. Trusts. Her. It's one of the most frightening things she's ever realized.

And so she has to say it. Has to get him to understand--even if his brain is so full of Ancient knowledge and lore, "Ok..." But she stalls. Can't figure how to start until he half-tilts his head. As if he knows what's coming. And she straightens her shoulders, "Sir, at your house before Daniel and Teal'c showed up, what I was gonna say was--"

"I know."

The words cut her off at the pass. Effectively close her off from any admission that could cost them.

And it hurts. Dear, god, it hurts. Because he doesn't want to know.

It's like the ultimate goad, really. She's hurt him, and now he's hurting her, and she wants it to end--even if it doesn't end like this. Even if she gets it wrong, and sends the universe into a black hole before breakfast on Tuesday.

"No. You don't."

Jack flinches.

The words are like a blow to some part of him that she can't see, that he won't even acknowledge. Wouldn't ever have. Except this is them. And this is now. And it so doesn't matter anymore. "You really don't, Jack."

She uses his name deliberately, watches it strip away at his calm just a little bit. Feels a sort of thrill.

"Carter--"

"I love you."

The words hang in the air, beautiful, crystalline, and so dangerous their very molecules could rend apart if they breathe wrong.

"Carter, this isn't the time."

Oh, but it is. It's the end of the world as we know it, she thinks. And she's over words, she's over being uncertain. Whether he loves her or not doesn't matter. For his one moment, she's throwing caution to the wind.

Actions speak louder than words.

Daniel liked to harp on that, sometimes, when Jack was being exceptionally stupid or dense.

And so she takes that last step into his personal space, reaches out for his collar. Tugs. And he's suddenly much more willing than she was expecting, and his eyes are closed as if he thinks she'll disappear if he watches.

When they kiss it's not with the passion of a thousand suns. It's careful and contained and so very little that she wants to complain to every romance novel author for the lack of passion.

And then his arms around her, and she's against his body and--oh. There was passion. Lust. The light of a thousand stars shattering behind her eyes. They fit in some ways, are awkward in others, and she scratches his neck when she moves her hand.

"Sorry." The mumble is against his lips.

He pulls back just enough to eye her lazily. "Carter?"

"Yes, Jack?"

"Who taught you the surprise attack?"

"You did, Jack."

A slight smirk, the one she's been missing for the last two weeks, touches the corner of his mouth. "Hrm."

"Jack?"

"Yes, Carter?"

"I believe you resigned. As such, that makes me your commanding officer."

He raises his eyebrows.

"Shut up and kiss me."

"Yes, sir."

She can't ignore the slight thrill being called 'sir' gives her. But there are much more important--and thrilling--things going on. Like Jack's lips. And hands.

It doesn't matter that the universe could fall down a black hole. For the moment, Samantha Carter has Jack O'Neill. And she's counting her blessings.

-finis-