.

Getting A Life by SG1underscorefanficathotmail.com

Category: Drama, Angst, UST, Sam and Jack, Mac and Harm, Thoughts, Ramblings, Dialogue…Crossover: Stargate SG-1 and JAG

Summary: What if… we let the similarities direct the dialogue and actions?

Rating: PG-13

Season/spoiler: mid-season 8 for SG-1, end of season 9 for JAG

Status: complete

Archive: Fanfiction.net and anyone who wants it (where's the queue?:)

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended.


A/N (Author's Notes): This is a –very- different fanfic from my other stories. Please read the following carefully so you won't be offended or disgusted by the trivial places that my muse took me this time.

This story appeared in my head after reading the fanfic 'A New Life' by Brenna (at fanfiction.net). Brenna's fanfic is a true SG-1 epic. I usually avoid crossover fics and don't even give them a try… but the summary for 'A New Life' didn't mention anything but SG-1… and JAG characters didn't appear for many chapters. Since I was already enraptured with the story, I accepted the JAG characters and they worked great. And then, near the end of the saga… in came Clancy's Jack Ryan et. al… Brenna made it all work and I was mightily impressed. 'A New Life' is an amazing piece of work.

So… there I was… with Sam and Jack and Mac and Harm dialogues flitting through my errant thoughts… and then my muse came up with a 'What If" scenario that wouldn't be denied. I had to type it out. For what little it's worth…

This short fanfic is - nothing but fluff.
Mostly dialogue, some of which probably rambles unnecessarily…

There's no plot - I warn you in advance (and apologize).
There's no action or hurt/comfort.

There is -lots- of UST.

There is maybe a just a little suspense and a few attempts at some not-over-the-top humor. Just a few feeble attempts… And the suspense will probably be… why was this written? Don't expect an answer… I don't have one…

Tried to stay IC (in character)… but it is hard to put the characters in new situations and then rely solely on what can become over-used, canned responses.

I also don't know JAG as well as SG-1, so I apologize for any errors or inconsistencies with the characters or events.

Finally – just a little warning… if you can't handle the idea of Sam or Jack ever having relationships with anyone else… ever… and if you can't handle Harm or Mac ever having relationships with anyone else … then this fic isn't for you (and you haven't been watching JAG). Watching both shows over the years, I think that Mac and Harm are definitely going to get together (even to go so far as to show a wedding)… but I can't say the same for Sam and Jack (as disappointed as that makes me). I think that the Stargate writers will keep Sam and Jack's relationship much less definite… and they will probably end the series with their relationship up to the imagination of the viewer.

This fic explores the UST of both shows… and doesn't resolve anything.
Sorry… every time I try to write RST, everything seems too OOC (out of character).

UST = Unsresolved Sexual Tension
RST = Resolved Sexual Tension

I also apologize if BDUs are not actually allowed in the Officer's Club.

With all that said, if you still feel mellow and willing to ramble around a bit…


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GETTING A LIFE

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Part 1: Navy Whites

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He stopped just inside the Officer's Club and let his eyes scan the room quickly. The few marine and navy uniforms stood out amongst the more common air force personnel. Of course, this -was- an air base. Run by the Air Force. It wouldn't bother him, though. He'd worked with all branches of the armed services and found most of them to be basically solid folks.

And then his eyes alighted on a table of air force officers in BDUs.
All male except for one female officer.

Stepping quietly to the bar, he signaled the bartender and ordered a drink. Without touching the drink, he leaned against the bar and sized up the situation.

It only took a few minutes to decide when to…

"How many of those have you had?" he asked from behind her.

All conversation at that table stopped as nine airmen looked up to assess the interruption.

Startled, she glanced up and then retorted, "This is my first – not that it's any of your business…?" and her tone aptly conveyed an annoyed question.

Reaching down as he answered, "Good. Any lady that dances with me needs her mental faculties at their sharpest," and he swapped her beer for the untouched drink that he'd ordered at the bar.

Stunned silence answered him for a few short seconds. The object of his attentions eyed her new dark-brown, fizzy drink while the male officers at the table appeared to be waiting for some signal from her to toss him out.

A quirky smile of amusement played across her face. "Does that line -ever- work on anyone?" And here her tone implied the long-sufferance of females throughout history.

"Well, this is the first time I've tried it out. I'll let you know in a little while," he played up a small suggestive smile and she rolled her eyes.

"Carter, do you want us to get rid of this squid for you?" a silver-haired air force officer across the table asked her.

"Whoa!" he interjected. "Didn't mean to upset anyone," he addressed the table and then turned back to his objective. "I happen to have the evening free and I was just wondering if the lady would like to spend it with a cultured naval officer?" He paused as the air force personnel groaned and made short derisive comments.

Not replying immediately, she sipped the drink that he'd given her and then gave him an approving nod of the head. "Nice choice."

"So… whaddya say… a little dinner… a little dancing…?" he prompted.

And she looked a little disappointed, "Is that it…?" accompanied by a small mysterious smile.

"Well, I just got in a few hours ago… haven't had time to set anything else up… I wasn't prepared for where the evening might be headed...," and he paused and glanced around the table. None of the male air force officers looked amused any longer. No, they were now starting to look annoyed… and protective. He figured that they'd better wrap this up before he found himself in some sort of ridiculous physical challenge.

"Hm…," she was sipping the drink again, "Well, it just so happens that right before you came over, my CO here was telling me to 'Get a Life'," and she tilted her head towards the silver-haired officer.

"Well that's because you don't know how to relax or have fun," the officer retorted. "Spending downtime in your lab or on your computer does not fall into any standard definition of 'F' 'U' 'N'," and he spelled it out with a satisfied taunting tone.

"Sir," she started to object, but the navy officer decided to take advantage of the opening.

"So, then how about we prove him wrong?" he asked with a broad, challenging grin.

She looked at her drink, then glanced at the silver-haired officer that she'd called her CO and then back up at the officer in crisp navy whites.

"So, you really don't have anything specific planned yet?" she asked.

He shook his head apologetically, "Sorry, I just walked in the door… and… then… here we are…"

She nodded, took another sip of her drink and stood up.

"Hey, Carter!" "Sam!" "Colonel Carter?" and the table erupted as her friends attempted to figure out what she was doing.

"I guess it's time I got a life!" she replied to both him and the rest of the table.

He held out his arm for her and as they stepped away from the table, he shot some parting words to the stunned air force officers, "Don't wait up!"

And that got a large, sunny grin from his new companion as they walked out.

.

====o0o==== End Scene 1 ====o0o====

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Part 2: Semper Fi

.

"We didn't even get his name!"

"Well, his shoulder boards put him as a navy commander…"

"And he had air wings on…"

"Jack, this is your fault."

"How is this my fault?"

"You are always torturing her about 'getting a life' or getting away from work."

"So…? She needs to. She works too much," he refused to give in.

"O'Neill, we have seen Samantha deal with such offers before. This is the first time that she has left us after such a simple invitation."

"She's a big girl and she can take care of herself," he protested.

"Yeah, well, if anything happens – it's your fault, Jack," Daniel insisted with disgust.

"How? How would it be my fault?"

"You are always pushing – why couldn't you just leave her alone?" Daniel returned.

"We were just having fun, Daniel. And she does work too much," he insisted. "Ferretti, what do you think? Carter works too much, right? I mean who couldn't agree with that?"

"Jack, I'm not getting into this one with you," Ferretti replied and then looked consideringly at the door. "I just wish I knew who that guy was. I think I'll ask around and see if anyone knows anything…," and he got up and headed over to the bar.

"She'll be fine, Daniel," Jack reiterated and the archeologist just looked at him.

-----------------

Watching the entrance (as if she was going to come back in and announce that it had all been a joke), Jack saw a beautiful, dark-haired Marine officer enter and walk over to the bar. After ordering and receiving her drink, she turned around and leaned against the bar while idly scanning the room.

He waited until her eyes skipped across their table and then he smiled and raised his glass in invitation.

She looked surprised, but returned the smile and walked over to stand next to the chair recently vacated by his 2IC.

"Major," he acknowledged.

"Lieutenant Colonel now," she corrected with a grin.

"Congratulations," he toasted her with his glass.

"Thank you, and to you to, General," she returned.

"How about joining us?" he invited.

"If you are all sure that you are willing to let a jarhead sit at your table…?" she tossed out teasingly.

"Well, we are always willing to make exceptions, ma'am," and Bates stood and held her chair out for her.

"Um, isn't someone sitting here?" she gestured at the drink in front of the empty seat.

"No, not anymore," Jack explained, "she just left."

"Ahh… so you need another female as a replacement?" she raised an eyebrow with amusement.

"Not until you came in Mac," Jack replied with a smirk.

"Ja-a-ack," Daniel protested.

"So I'll make the introductions," Jack ignored the linguist. "This is Daniel, this is Murray, this is Bates, and this is Ferretti – just ignore him -…,"

"Hey!" Ferretti objected and then muttered something that Jack didn't catch- but Mac did, and she grinned as Jack continued to introduce the others at the table.

"And, this is Lieutenant Colonel Sara MacKenzie, a top-notch JAG lawyer," Jack finished by introducing her to them.

"So, what brings a Marine JAG lawyer to this little air base?" Jack asked conversationally.

"We have some interviews and affidavits scheduled with some of the personnel here tomorrow," Mac returned as the others at the table grimaced.

"Whose 'we'?" Jack asked.

"We as in myself and my co-counsel on this case," Mac replied.

"Ah, great, more lawyers," Ferretti muttered into his glass and then winced and quickly added, "of course, it wouldn't be so bad if they all looked like you ma'am."

"Ferretti, shut up!" Jack ordered. "I told you to ignore him," he shrugged at Mac apologetically.

"It's OK, I knew the risks when I sat down…," she replied, "a marine lawyer amongst a table full of air force…," and Jack deliberately talked right over the top of the last of her sentiment. "So, what were your plans for this evening?"

"Well, I was going to have a drink with my colleague, but he called and cancelled," Mac explained with a shrug.

"Then your evening is looking up! This bunch," and Jack grandly swept his arm around the table, "has got to beat one Marine lawyer!"

"I'm a Marine lawyer, Jack," she pointed out challengingly.

"You don't count," he started and then quickly added, "No, you actually make up for all the rest," he finished proudly.

She gave him an amused smile and sipped her drink, "And my colleague is a -Navy- lawyer…," and she waited through the derisive responses from around the table.

----------------

"So, who wants to go and get some dinner? Mac, you have plans?" Jack asked.

"No, dinner sounds great. Where were you thinking?" she replied.

"There's a great Italian restaurant not too far… how does that sound?"

"Sorry Jack, I have some translations to work on this evening," Daniel replied.

"I too must decline, O'Neill," Teal'c replied.

"But you have to eat?" Jack asked.

"We'll pick something up on the way back to our rooms," Daniel returned and Teal'c nodded.

"Ferretti, How about you? Ready to call it a night here?" Jack asked.

"Yeah," the special ops officer replied. "A bit disgusted though that I never did find out that squid's name."

"I'd have kinda liked to have gotten his name too," Daniel muttered.

Seeing Mac's curious expression, Jack explained, "A too-smooth, over-polished naval commander asked -our- colleague out just before you got here. He used a couple of horrible lines… and then she left with him!"

"I still think she did it mostly because you were on her case, Jack," Daniel stated again.

"That would be the lady colleague whose seat I have now?" Mac asked.

"Yep," Jack responded.

"And this squid was a naval commander… navy whites… about 6'4"…dark brown hair…?" she asked speculatively.

"Yup, that sounds exactly like our guy," Ferretti responded. "Would you know who he is?"

"Well, it sounds like my co-counsel, Commander Harmon Rabb," she answered.

"No, this squid had air wings on," Bates countered.

Mac smiled knowingly, "Yep that's Harm."

"I thought you said that your colleague was a naval -lawyer-?" Jack spoke up.

"He is," and she deliberately left it there to tease them.

"So he's a naval pilot -and- a lawyer?" Ferretti spelled it out with disbelief in his tone.

"Yes," she smiled at the group and then she relented a little, "Although he doesn't get to fly much anymore. He works with JAG core now."

"So she's out with some slick squid lawyer…," Ferretti muttered. "Is your lawyer friend in the habit of picking up women he doesn't know?" he asked accusingly.

But Mac was not intimidated. "Not generally. I doubt that he often goes 'on the hunt' like that… Is your fellow officer a lady who generally leaves with a guy after a slick pickup line?" she sent the challenge right back at him.

"Well, no… at least, I don't think so…," and Ferretti looked disconcerted. "Jack? Daniel?" he turned to the others.

"Don't look at me," Jack muttered and turned his attention to the remnants of his beer.

"No, Samantha generally rebuffs the offers and remains with our group. This was the first time that I have observed her accepting such an invitation," Teal'c intoned.

"Yeah, I've never seen her leave with someone like that before either," Daniel muttered darkly. "We didn't even get his name."

"Yeah, what did you say his name was?" Jack looked back up.

"You're not going to do anything to him are you?" Mac asked them suspiciously.

"Don't think the lawyer can take care of himself?" Major Bates challenged.

"Don't you think your female officers can take care of themselves?" she shot back without heat.

Standoff.

"Give it up Bates, Ferretti… she's a -really good- JAG lawyer," Jack smiled as he finished off the last of his beer. "You aren't going to win any War of Words here tonight, gentlemen. I suggest you simply acknowledge defeat and move on."

Seeing the men backing off, he turned to Mac, "Sorry, we all get a little over-protective. I know it's supposed to be the age of equality and all, but…"

"It's allright. She's lucky to have you looking after her. Even in this age of equality and all," she reiterated his words for effect and gave him a rueful smile.

.

====o0o==== End Part 2 ====o0o====

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Part 3: Dinner

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Ferretti, Bates and the others chose to head into town to a local sportsbar.

Jack turned to Mac, "We could join them if you want…?"

She shook her head though, "Actually a real meal sounds much better than a noisy sportsbar. But if you want to join the guys, don't stay because of me," she responded genuinely.

"Well then, I guess it's just the two of us, because I'm not up for Ferretti and his wild betting schemes tonight," he replied as they headed out. "Besides, I believe that I owe you dinner."

-----------------

"So… this Rabb… is a… good guy?" he asked and then winced.

"You're really worried about her?" she studied his face thoughtfully.

He shrugged, "She's my 2IC. An excellent officer."

"Mmmm…," and Mac let that stand as her response while studying the General across the table.

"Yeah, I'm a little worried. I may have kinda pushed her into going…," and he sighed. "I didn't mean to… but she works all the time – even on days off… and she doesn't pay enough attention to sleeping, eating, and that kind of… stuff… so, yeah, I worry a little." And then he added defensively, "We all do – you heard Daniel, Ferretti and the rest!"

Mac nodded with an amused smile. She had a feeling that there was a little more going on here. And if so, she felt sorry for them. Mac knew what it was like to have 'those kind' of feelings for your CO. Mac had been lucky though… she'd had her relationship and she still had her career. Most were not so lucky. It was best not to enter that arena. Military regs were military regs.

Shaking herself out of her reverie, "You shouldn't have anything to worry about with Harm. I've worked with him for years and he's an officer and a gentleman."

"He picked her up with a smarmy line," Jack countered.

Mac winced. "I have to admit that I haven't seen Harm use pickup lines before… He usually doesn't have to. Women seem to fall all over him."

And something in her tone made Jack look at her speculatively. "You know him pretty well?"

And she caught the question in his question. "Pretty well – as a colleague – and a friend," she defined.

Jack started to ask something and then stopped and looked at his wine. "You trust him then?"

"Yes."

"Would you go out with him?" he came in tangentially.

"Yes…," she admitted and then continued, "but the circumstances haven't been right."

"Circumstances…," he mused.

"Timing… and all that… military life… you know…," she elaborated a little. "And Harm has had a difficult life… issues and such to work out." And then seeing the alarmed look on Jack's face, "His father was MIA since Vietnam, he lost his flight status due to night blindness…then he got it back a little while ago, those kinds of issues," she kept it brief.

"But… you said that you trust him…?" he asked again.

"Yes. Harm is… Harm is just solid. True blue. Always fighting for what's right. He's actually a bit of a Boy Scout," she added.

"So, I shouldn't worry?" He was giving her an amused smile.

"I don't think so. If your 2IC falls for him, then she's fallen for one of the good ones."

He was studying -her- again and she blushed a little while inspecting her own wine glass.

"And -you're- OK with that?" he asked. "If she falls for him and he falls for her?" he elaborated.

She blushed again and looked up, "I'll have to be. We each want what's best for each other. We each date. And we've had some serious relationships. My boyfriend was recently killed in action…"

"I'm sorry," Jack spoke respectfully and she nodded.

"I'm still trying to figure it all out. Can't get the whole story. Classified…," and she sighed in frustration.

"Been there," Jack gave a small, rueful grin and she nodded her understanding.

Forcing herself to move the conversation along, "Harm isn't in any long-standing relationships now, at least not to my knowledge. And I don't think he's into one-night stands… at least not as a rule," she offered.

"Neither is Carter," Jack replied.

Carter? She ran that through again. Carter… Harm had spoken of a…, "Sam Carter?" she blurted out.

"Yeah, Lt. Colonel Sam Carter, do you know her?" Jack returned.

Mac just stared at him for a few moments while she pulled out the memories of Harm's tales. "No, I don't know her, but Harm has mentioned a Sam Carter several times when talking about some of his previous missions as a carrier pilot."

"Well, she's an air force pilot, not a naval carrier pilot," Jack countered.

Mac shrugged. "All I can tell you is that Harm has mentioned a Sam Carter several times…"

"Humph," Jack let out a low snort as he sat back and thought about it.

"She played us," he finally broke the short silence.

"?" Mac's face questioned for an explanation.

"Carter pulled one over on us… well, -me- actually," he growled but there was a hint of admiration in his voice. "She knows this squid, but she played it all off like she was gallivanting off with this random guy…"

"From what the others were saying it sounded like you sorta asked for it," Mac added helpfully.

"Thanks," Jack scowled at her.

Mac gave him a smirk and then a shrug. "If it's any consolation, you weren't the only one surprised just now – I always assumed that 'Sam' Carter was a guy."

"Yeah, I made the same mistake myself once," Jack admitted ruefully. "You'd never make that mistake if you saw her though," he added and then regretted letting that slip out as Mac was studying him intently again.

"So… I've told you what I think of Harm… general Boy Scout and all… what can you tell me about Sam Carter? I should probably look after my colleagues too, you know," she asked.

"Are you worried that she'll take advantage of the 6'4" commander?" he teased.

"Maybe, it is the age of equality and all that," and she sent his earlier words back to him and he acknowledged her acumen with a small nod and a smile.

"Carter… Carter wouldn't take advantage of anyone… 6'4" or 4'6"…," he started and got a grin from her. "Carter works too much to have a lot of opportunities to date 'em and dump 'em."

"Ah, yes, that was Deep Space Radar Telemetry, right? Mmmmm, yeah, I can understand how she wouldn't have much time for a social life," Mac mocked what she knew was clearly a classified cover.

"Yeah, Deep Space Radar Telemetry – and Carter is -real- good at it… All that radar and telemetry stuff… out there in deep space…," he mugged it up and raised an eyebrow and a small smile.

"Mmmmm… that must be what Harm sees in her," Mac sent back.

"Yeah, just like the lawyer thing is what she sees in him," he muttered loud enough for Mac to catch.

"Diet Coke!" Jack suddenly blurted out.

"What?" Mac asked.

"Diet Coke – he switched her beer for a diet Coke!" Jack stated as if he'd discovered the Rosetta Stone.

"Um…still not following you," Mac returned.

"When your Commander delivered his 'line', he also replaced her beer with a diet Coke," he explained… just a little bit more.

"I see," Mac said with a tone and expression that made it clear that his explanations so far were falling short of the mark.

"She likes diet Coke – says she likes the taste… and your Boy Scout knew that little fact… and none of us picked up on it," he explained. "That should have been a give-away that he knew her. And we missed it."

Mac just smiled and shook her head having no immediate response for that.

"So, what else can you tell me about her? Remember, I am watching out for my colleague and friend here," she prompted.

"Well, I don't know if Carter was ever a Girl Scout, but she would probably have been a stellar one," he admitted. "She's a brilliant scientist, a more-than-competent officer, she's professional and has a strong sense of duty and honor. She'd die for her country, her family and her comrades," and finished sounding proud yet wistful.

Now Mac was studying him intently -again- and he shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny. They were both flying dangerously close to admitting unprofessional feelings for their colleagues. And yet, neither of them could let go of the line of conversation either. Like moths to a flame… he thought… how cliche… and he sighed.

"They sound well suited for each other," Mac put it out there courageously.

"Yeah, they do," Jack said it quietly.

.

====o0o==== End Part 3 ====o0o====

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Part 4: Breakfast

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-0600 the next morning. Base commissary-

"Jack?" Daniel asked for his attention.

"What?"

"Have you seen Sam this morning?" the archeologist asked.

"No. Why?" Jack looked up from his oatmeal.

"Well, she didn't come back last night, and we're worried," Daniel admitted.

"We?"

"Teal'c and I," Daniel growled back.

"Teal'c?" he asked the Jaffa.

"I am concerned O'Neill. Colonel Carter's actions last night were not typical of her usual behavior," the Jaffa admitted solemnly.

Jack looked back and forth between the two men. So different in backgrounds and temperaments. And yet together on this… not that they usually argued… but still…

"Look, you don't have to worry, OK. Mac said that the squid was a real 'Boy Scout', so I'm sure that Carter is fine," and he paused before continuing. "And how do you know that she didn't return last night?"

"We stopped by her room before coming over here – and she didn't answer," Daniel explained.

"So… maybe she went for a run or something," Jack returned.

"Well, we… uh… when she didn't answer… we picked the lock and went in…the bed wasn't slept in and it didn't look like she'd been there since yesterday," the archeologist spilled it out.

"Daniel... you -picked the lock- to her quarters?" Jack asked incredulously.

"I picked the lock, O'Neill," the Jaffa corrected.

"Teal'c?" Jack asked with surprise.

"Samantha showed me how it is done and I have practiced," Teal'c stated with obvious pride.

"Sam actually gave him a lock-picking set for his birthday," Daniel added.

"And, I didn't know this because…?" Jack asked. And he just got a shrug from Daniel and an unblinking stare from the Jaffa. Right, well, Jack figured he'd revisit that question at another time.

"So, Jack, she didn't come back. What are we going to do?" Daniel returned to his objective.

Jack sighed.
Carter hadn't come back.
Mac said that Rabb was a Boy Scout.
But Carter hadn't come back.
Well, maybe they spent the night together.
And that thought hurt.
But he squashed it.
He had his relationships and she had hers.
And that's how it had to be.
And that sucked… he had to admit.

So what was he going to do?

No, he corrected himself as he looked at Daniel and Teal'c, 'What were –we- going to do?'

"Look guys, Carter is an adult. A woman free to make her own choices. And we have no right to demand that she check in with us. She'd kill all three of us if we busted in on her when nothing was wrong."

"Of course, she is also a military officer who is scheduled to be on duty in just under 2 hours. If she doesn't show up then, we can decide how to track her down. I'll be trapped in meetings but you two could probably shake free of your appointments for the morning?" Jack proposed.

"Good morning gentlemen," Mac stepped alongside their table.

"Morning Mac, why don't you join us?" Jack invited and Daniel scooted his stuff over so that she'd have room for her tray next to him.

"Expecting your naval lawyer for breakfast this morning?" Jack tried to ask casually.

Mac started to answer and then glanced around and looked back at him knowingly, "Yes actually. How about your Colonel?" she returned.

He shrugged a non-committal response and they shared a look and then returned their attention back to their breakfasts.

"Well, speak of the devil," Daniel breathed while staring at the commissary entrance.

…from where the two officers in question were rapidly approaching their table.

"Good Morning Sir, Daniel… Murray," came from Carter.

"Morning Mac," came from Rabb.

"Morning, Sam." "Carter." "Good Morning, ColonelCarter," came from the seated men.

"Good Morning, Harm," Mac shook her head with a small smile.

"Looks like your people met my people, Sam," Rabb quipped.

"I'm -your- people?" Mac challenged quickly.

"Hey, Mac it was just a form of speech, a turn of phrase," and he tried to smile boyishly at her but she just scowled at him. Ouch. Great start to the morning, Rabb.

"OK, I think some introductions would go great here?" Rabb deflected the topic. "Sam, this is my co-counsel, Lt. Colonel Sara Mackenzie, Marine JAG lawyer. Mac, this is Lt. Colonel Sam Carter, astrophysicist." The two women nodded in acknowledgement to each other.

"And this is Commander Harmon Rabb, Navy JAG lawyer," Sam picked up the introductions, "General Jack O'Neill, Doctor Daniel Jackson, archeologist and Murray Teal, special ops."

"Why don't you two go and grab some chow," O'Neill instructed.

"Yes, sir," Carter responded and Rabb nodded as the two moved off.

--------

"There, she's fine, are you two satisfied?" Jack asked the other two men.

Silence answered him.

"Well?" he prompted.

"OK, so I'm glad she's allright, but now I'm pissed that she got us all worried," Daniel admitted.

"Welcome to the world of having kids," Jack tossed out sarcastically.

"I believe that Samantha would be very angry if she felt that we were treating her as a child, O'Neill," the Jaffa stated seriously.

"No kidding," Mac tossed out with a look in her eyes that told them that they were in dangerous territory.

"Well, you can worry about close friends almost the same way that you would worry about your children," Daniel argued.

"Why don't you tell her that then Daniel," Jack suggested.

"I do not think that would be a wise course of action DanielJackson," the Jaffa instructed.

"Tell her what? And why wouldn't it be a wise course of action?" Carter and Rabb took the two empty seats at the table.

Daniel's face turned a nice shade of pink but he did not answer her question.

"Daniel? T...Murray?" Sam's curiosity was evident and she glanced at O'Neill.

"Don't look at me, I'm just enjoying my military oatmeal," and he waved his spoon at her and then noticed all of the food on her tray. "Carter! What's with all that?"

"Sir?"

"All -that-," and he waved his hand at her heavily laden tray.

"Oh, just a little hungry this morning, sir," she looked slightly embarrassed but then recovered with, "And you -are- always telling me that I don't eat enough. Sir." The 'sir' was an added afterthought and therefore made its own statement.

He narrowed his eyes at her and then noticed that Rabb's tray had more stuff on it than hers. "Do you always eat that much for breakfast Commander?"

"No, he doesn't," Mac supplied and then gave Harm a shrug and a small grin.

Sam simply began tucking into her food, but Harm decided to try and explain. "We didn't get a chance for dinner last night and I guess we are both just starving."

Oh, that helped.

The entire table was quiet now.

All three airforce men stopped eating and looked up to stare at him.
Mac… Mac was also looking at him expectantly.

Sam winced and gave him a frustrated look. "Smooth, real smooth Rabb," she muttered and then a little more clearly, "I'm glad you weren't one of my high school boyfriends who had to face my father. He'd have eaten you alive."

"You're not helping here, Sam," Harm pointed out.

"Didn't intend to," and she turned back to her breakfast.

The three men looked disconcerted by her nonchalance. Well, at least two of them did, the larger man simply turned his intense gaze on her. Better on her than him, Harm admitted to himself.

"So, you two put one over on us last night, Carter. Well done," Jack commended.

"It just sort of happened, sir. It wasn't planned," Sam admitted.

"That's true. We hadn't seen each other for years – and I just couldn't resist…," Harm let that trail off.

"Then I'm even more impressed, Carter you took the opportunity and played it to the hilt. Nice job," he reiterated.

She looked at him quizzically, not accepting his words at face value. "You -did- tell me to 'Get A Life', sir," she reminded him.

"Guilty as charged," he put up his hands in defense but then made the mistake of continuing. "I was thinking more along the lines of something like… fishing… or some such… not something like disappearing with the first dashing young naval officer that throws down a smarmy pickup line…," and then he realized that he probably shouldn't have said that all out loud…

Everyone was staring at –him- now.

"I can go with dashing," Harm broke the pregnant silence. "What do you think Mac?"

"Sometimes…you could be described as dashing," she agreed and he exaggerated a preening expression, "but sometimes smarmy too," she finished and turned back to her breakfast.

Harm exaggerated a hurt expression in response.

"So where do you and Sam know each other from," Daniel finally spoke up.

"Sam participated in a navy-airforce 'exchange' program. All volunteers – and not very many of them made it far enough through the training program to get out to real carrier flights," Rabb explained. "Sam and I met when she came out for a month of carrier flight duty."

"Carter? You landed a jet on an aircraft carrier?" Jack asked. He'd read her file, but he hadn't scrutinized all of her flight duty assignments.

"Yes, sir," and she grimaced. "And I hope to never have to do it again. Those brownshoes are certifiably crazy!"

"Brownshoe?" Daniel interjected.

"That's slang for a squid pilot," Jack supplied.

"We prefer to call ourselves naval aviators," Harm finished.

"I somehow managed to get the plane back down on that concrete postage stamp at the end of each flight, but it wasn't pretty," Sam continued.

"Don't let her kid you. She did just fine. Caught a wire every time!" Harm countered.

"-A- wire. As in -any- wire. The three-wire is what the top pilots aim for. If I hit the three-wire, it was by accident," Sam shook her head.

"You were always too hard on yourself. Very few pilots hit the three-wire every time they come down during their first month. I still say that if you'd been out there longer that you'd have been one of our top pilots," Harm insisted firmly.

Sam was just shaking her head 'No' at him. "Not interested, thank you. I'll stick to nice long runways that don't have any wires and that don't pitch and roll 50 feet while I'm landing." Then she got a faraway look in her eyes, "You remember when I smacked the deck coming in at dusk?"

"Oh, yeah," Harm winced.

"I hit the deck so hard that I figured the wings and tail must have fallen off. The crew chief made me help him check every bolt and seam on that plane over the next couple of days."

"Sam, I told you that all pilots do that occasionally," he told her what he'd told her years ago. "It's generally frowned upon and definitely not encouraged, but it does happen when landing on a pitching concrete runway. And the crew chiefs always light into the pilot afterwards. Especially the newbies…"

"My teeth cracked together so hard it gave me a headache!" she countered.

"Been there," he returned evenly and then turned to the rest of the table. "You see, Sam's problem was that she was only there for a month. She never got to go beyond newbie greenhorn status."

"And I finished with no regrets," she stated evenly. "I like flying and I like flying jets. But I'll leave the aquatic landings to those with more courage and a less of a desire for living," and she finished with praise and a taunt.

"Oh, and going into space sitting on the end of the planet's largest Roman Candle is for those more cautious?" he tossed back.

"I never went up in the Space Shuttle," she replied with no telltale inflections.

"But you would have," Harm accused and he realized that the good-natured ribbing had gone where he hadn't truly intended and he winced and tried to prepare an apology.

But Sam didn't seem offended and she just shrugged, "Yeah, I would have. But things didn't work out that way."

Harm glanced at the others and saw that most had finished their meals and were quietly watching and listening. General O'Neill, in particular, was watching Harm very intently.

"Sam, I'm sorry… I…," he started to apologize, but she cut him off.

"Don't worry about it Harm, I -chose- to do something else," and Deep Space Radar Telemetry silently floated mockingly above the table. No one said it, but everyone heard it. "I admit, it was a risk and my father couldn't believe it when I told him that I'd taken myself off the astronaut track. It's all I'd talked about since I was a kid and it took him years to understand that I'd made a serious, considered choice to do something else."

"But he finally came around?" Harm asked.

"Uh, yeah, but not until the Air Force agreed to show him what I get to do… with Deep Space Radar…," and a small smile played across her face.

"So that's how you and Rabb met?" Jack brought them back to the original question.

"Basically, sir," Sam replied. "Our paths have crossed occasionally since. There were a couple of joint missions," and she shared a look with Harm. "Haven't seen each other since I worked at the Pentagon, though."

Deciding to change the topic away from him and Sam, Harm asked, "So Mac, how did you end up with these airmen for breakfast this morning?"

"We met at the O-Club last night after you left," Mac replied. "The General and I first met around… 11-12 years ago…?" and she looked at him for confirmation and he nodded. "The General invited me to join his group last night. Through a little conversation, it came out that their 'smarmy squid' was actually 'my' naval co-counsel. Does that about sum it up?" She asked the other three men.

"Fairly accurately, counselor," Jack agreed and Daniel nodded while Teal'c remained impassive.

"How did you and the General meet, if you don't mind my asking?" Harm glanced at both Mac and O'Neill for their permission.

Mac stayed silent and deferred to Jack for a response. Jack shrugged, "It's mostly classified, but I'll just state that Mac is one hot-shit lawyer and I owe her dinner every time we meet."

"Right… more classified stuff…," Harm mused, "Anything to do with Deep Space…?"

"Nope, and you're not getting anything more," Jack shut down that line of conversation. "Besides it's time for Carter and I to head over to a meeting that will be starting shortly."

"Yes, DanielJackson and I also have appointments that will begin shortly," Teal'c supplied.

"As do the Colonel and I," Harm agreed as they all stood up. "Sam, 1630, right?"

Sam nodded, "I'll call if we're running late."

And the six split up as they exited the commissary to tackle the day's tasks.

.

====o0o==== End Part 4 ====o0o====

.


.

Part 5: Conversations

.

"So Carter, you and Rabb have plans for this evening?" Jack tried to ask casually as the two of them walked across the base for their first meeting of the day.

"Yes, sir," she replied respectfully, but supplied no additional information.

"Hummworthy?" he ventured and then held his breath and kept his eyes scanning the buildings ahead of them.

"Sir, you did tell me to 'Get A Life'," she reminded him again.

"How many times is that going to come back to haunt me Carter?" he blurted in exasperation.

"How many times have you said it to me? Sir." There was that 'sir' added as a definite separate statement. Ooooo.

How many times had he said that to her?
'Get A Life, Carter.'
How many times over the years?
A lot… that's as far as he could quantify it.
But, knowing Carter, she probably remembered a much more specific amount.
How many times had he said it?
A lot.
Oh, shit.

So he just scowled his reply while continuing to keep his eyes on the buildings ahead of them. Out of the corner of his eyes he was pretty sure that he could see her grinning, but he refused to acknowledge it.

---------------------

"So…, you and Sam Carter?" Mac opened with while they waited for their first interviewee to arrive.

Rabb tilted his head and replied, "Sam and I go way back. We're good friends."

"You know, I remembered that you'd mentioned a Sam Carter a couple of times… but I'd always assumed that 'Sam' was a guy."

"Yeah, lots of people make that mistake until they meet her," Harm echoed Jack's words from the night before.

"So… are you two serious?" Mac asked. She was uncomfortable with the question, but their relationship allowed them this openness. Uncomfortable that it may be, but they had always allowed it to each other.

"Well, that depends on how you define serious…," Harm started.

"Those three men that she works with were very concerned that she didn't return to her room last night," Mac supplied.

"Oh," and he looked a bit uncomfortable.

"Last night I vehemently told them that you were an officer and a gentleman… a genuine 'Boy Scout'… and generally just not a guy who picks a woman up for a one-night-stand," she added pointedly.

"Sam and I kind of have an agreement," he tried to start again.

"Anything like ours?" she asked circumspectly.

"No… kind of the opposite actually," he admitted and both of her eyebrows rose in response as she processed that.

The opposite of… just -what- did she and Harm have?
What -had- they agreed to?
Well, one easy answer was their spoken agreement to have a baby together if neither of them were married after 5 more years. And that time had come, and passed. With its own issues and complications.

"So, you agreed -not- to make a baby together after 5 years?" Mac asked in jest and confusion.

"No…," Harm let his tone express the equivalent of rolling his eyes. "This is kind of hard to explain…"

"Do you love her?" Mac did not put any venom into the question. Just honesty.

"Ye-e-ss…, but not in the way that… not… you see, Sam and I, we… oh, this is going to sound stupid," and he paused and gauged her expression. "You have to promise not to laugh or scoff."

"OK," and she shrugged, that seemed simple enough to agree to.

"Well, Sam and I, we get along great and… we do love each other… but we just never felt like we were supposed to be married… you know husband and wife, with kids and a minivan… all that."

"Your feelings about family commitments have changed a lot in the last couple of years, Harm. Have you reconsidered what you and Sam have?" Mac asked.

"Yes. Especially when you were with Webb," he admitted and she looked down at the table at the still-raw pain over losing the CIA agent from her life. "But Sam and I weren't meant to be. I've always felt that Sam had a destiny… somewhere… I used to think it was to be a NASA astronaut and fly space shuttles… but I know that in the long-term, it's not with me. To be honest, I was stunned to see her yesterday… and without a wedding ring."

"The deal that Sam and I made was to be there for each other, and to just be ok with what we are together… until one of us gets married," and he paused. "Like I said, kinda the opposite of what you and I…," and he let that trail off unfinished.

And she understood and met his eyes and they let a few moments of silence pass unbroken.

----------------

They didn't get another chance to talk until lunch. For most of that time, the conversation centered around the content and implications of the statements that they had heard that morning.

And then, again waiting in the interview room for their next arrival, they had a few free moments to talk.

"You know, I would have never have figured you for one to have… the kind of relationship that you have with Carter," Mac opened with and her tone was free of condemnation and full of curiosity. "And going by the words and expressions of her three colleagues, I don't think they figured her for something like that either."

Carefully considering how to respond, Harm did not reply right away.

"It just seems a little out-of-character from the personas that you each project," Mac clarified.

"For the roles that we have now, yes. Navy lawyer and Air Force scientist. But that's not all we are – and it's not where we started. When we met we were both military jet pilots… and the relationship we have is -not- out of character for who we were or who we really are now," and he gave her a rakish look. "I'll always be a pilot… and you know that I've fought the system on several occasions. I'm not always the proper, button-down armchair lawyer."

"Nahh…!" Mac mocked him as only a friend can and he gave her a disparaging look appropriate for her comment.

"Sam, on the other hand, almost always plays by the rules. She rarely displays anything but proper military decorum for the chain of command…," and he paused again and looked into the distance. "She really did want to go into space. That's why she volunteered for the cross-discipline exchange program with the Navy. To expand her qualifications…"

"However, while she may abide by military rules, she is definitely willing to push other things as far as she is allowed. Things like a jet aircraft… or a motorcycle. There's a fiery streak in her that few get to see."

"So, our relationship may fall outside that expected between a dignified lawyer-type and a militarily-correct science researcher… but our relationship -is- correct for who we really are…"

"Pilots leading other lives?" Mac offered.

"I do like being a lawyer you know," he returned.

"And you're very, very good at it," she reminded him.

"But I'll always be a pilot. And want to ride my cycle. And cut loose… in very non-lawyerly type ways," he said it with a seductive smile.

"So, you sound perfect for each other. No military regs in the way…," she said softly.

He glanced at her and then let his gaze drift off into the distance again. "Sam and I weren't meant to be together for the long haul. And we knew it. I don't think we've ever even had an argument. But we knew it. We talked it out years ago. And we ultimately decided to just be what we were to each other. We respect each other. We… love each other. But we know that we are each going to move on, eventually. But neither of us knew how long eventually really was," he ended with a twisted smile and a small shake of his head.

"So once either of you gets married?"

"Then we just become friends. Just like with any other past relationships," Harm replied. "And I really do hope that she finds someone. She deserves to be happy."

"And how about you?" Mac probed.

"Oh, I definitely deserve to be happy," he replied with a broad grin. "I'm just waiting…"

"For what?"

"For when the time is right," and he met her eyes evenly.

.

====o0o==== End Part 5 ====o0o====

.
.

Part 6: Flying

.

And then, after they'd finished the last interview of the day, "Isn't 16:30… a bit early… for…," Mac couldn't help asking.

"No-o-o…," and he drew it out and then relented at her obvious consternation. "We're going flying out at a local air field. It's light until 20:30 or so these days, so we'll have plenty of light."

------------------

And their evening flight had been beautiful. Perfect flying weather. Just a few clouds on the horizon. Light winds. And the setting sun lit up the clouds in fiery shades of vermillion and orange. They'd only rented a simple two-seater prop plane. Certainly nothing approaching a jet.

But they'd gone flying.

And let their spirits loose for awhile.

------------------

"Sam?"

"Hmmm?"

"It's been a good couple of days, hasn't it?"

"Mmmmhmmmm..," and she looked up from her veal piccatta. "It always is…," and their eyes met. "Kind of weird though this time – with Mac and the guys being around," she admitted. "I envy the openness that you have with Mac."

"Not as 'open' with 'your' guys?" he teased as he worked on his vegetarian lasagna.

"Not hardly," she sighed. "Daniel is like a brother… and T..Murray is like an older brother or uncle… They both cornered me at lunch and it almost felt like I was a 16-year-old who'd broken curfew."

"Something tells me that they see Colonel Carter a whole lot more than they ever get to see Sam Carter?" he asked it as a question, but it was truly more of an assessment.

She sighed. "We have a complicated work set-up. We all have different specialties and different backgrounds. I trust them all with my life, but we don't really cut loose together on down-time."

"No cutting loose in jets?" he asked knowingly.

"Not very often. Daniel obsesses with his translations and excavations, T… Murray often visits family, the General likes to go fishing…," she trailed off.

"Fishing can be fun," he offered.

"I have it on good authority that there are no fish where he goes fishing," she rebutted… although she knew that the presence or absence of fish had little to do with why she could not join General Jack O'Neill at a certain cabin amidst the woods of Minnesota.

"Good authority?" he asked.

"Murray went with him once," she elaborated. "He came back with tales of mosquitoes and a decided absence of fish."

"Ah," and then he ventured, "so Daniel works, T… Murray," and she glared at him for that, "goes home, the General goes fishing… what do you do?"

"Work on my research, ride my motorcycle, spend a little time with Cassie if she's around." Seeing his questioning look she elaborated, "A good friend of mine passed away just a little while ago and Cassie is her daughter. We were always close and now I try to be more available for her when I can."

"Ah," he said again, and then, "Flying?"

"Don't get to fly as much as I'd like to anymore," and the wistfulness was evident in her tone. "Today was fantastic though, thanks."

"Anytime," he returned easily.

-------------------

And their conversation wandered through assorted topics.

Bringing each other up-to-date on the major events of their lives over the past 8-9 years.

Interspersed with reminiscing over people and events from their shared pasts.

Harm told her what he could about what they'd discovered about his father and then his new-found brother Sergei Zhukov. Sam just listened. Harm knew all about her mom, and she couldn't tell him about her dad… and the Tokra…

Sam told him about Pete Shanahan and Harm told her about Renee Peterson.
Both of those relationships now in the past.

Harm told her stories about Mattie and Sam told him stories about Cassie.

They talked about their motorcycles and the latest road trips they'd taken.

Harm described his upkeep and maintenance of his beloved antique Stearman biplane.

Sam described her work on her vintage Indian… and her Volvo.

.

.

.

And with all that…
… and with all that, they knew that they were not destined for each other.

Not for the long haul.

And neither of them was bitter or resentful.
They accepted what they had with each other,
…because they didn't dare lose something so special.

-------------

"So… Harm, when are you and Mac going to give it a real try?" Sam finally asked as they dawdled over their after-dinner coffee.

Harm just shook his head, "I don't know… I asked her awhile back, but she… wasn't ready… and she didn't think I was either."

"Are you?" Sam studied him.

"Yeah, I am," and he smiled self-deprecatingly. "I really am, but I don't know how to convince Mac. Any advice?"

"Hah!," Sam gave a soft snort, "you know that I am the wrong person to ask about how to pursue a personal relationship within the military…"

"Sorry," he quirked a knowing, sad smile at her.

"But if this helps, I really do think that you and Mac will make it," she offered. "You have that… looseness… or 'openness'… I guess what I'm trying to say is, I think that you two will eventually talk it through and figure it out," and then she paused. "But the regs… you're in different branches of the service… how do you handle that anyway… do either of you have official rank over the other?"

"Well, things get a little confusing there…," Harm admitted. "Right now I outrank her as a Naval Commander to a Marine Lt. Colonel, but not too long ago she outranked me before I got my promotion to full commander. When we started, she was a Major and I was a Lt. Commander, so I outranked her…," and he paused and gave her a deliberately goofy grin.

"Errr… sounds confusing…?"

"Not really, it all happened over many years and we just had to adjust… And then there have been times when our CO Admiral Chegwidden has had to be out of the office for days or weeks and he has left me in charge a few times and Mac in charge a few other times," and he was grinning. "Keeps us on our toes, I guess. Oh, and I almost forgot, there have been a few times when Mac has had to sit as presiding judge over cases I've argued. And I've had to do the same for cases she's argued."

Harm was now enjoying the incredulous look on Sam's face.

"So, do you two get together every morning and map out who's in charge?" Sam asked jokingly.

"Well, I suppose it's better than calling each other to figure out what color clothes we're wearing for the day," he pointed out with a large grin and he could see that she regretted having told him that anecdote about Jonas, the 'new kid' on their team awhile back.

"At least we don't have to get dressed up in monkey suits for our every-day work," she countered.

"I'll give you that," he allowed, still grinning.

"Getting back to what we were originally talking about… Perhaps the complicated nature of 'who's in charge' between you and Mac… perhaps that could be played to your advantage?" she suggested.

"How?" he quickly returned.

"I don't know – you're the hot-shot lawyer. You want my help, you need to find a way to blame your relationship on black holes or some other celestial body," Sam sent back.

And a few moments of silence passed as they both thought through the options.

"And what about you, Sam?" Harm asked. "Is it going to work out for you?"

"Not any time in the near future, not like I think it can for you and Mac," she said regretfully. "I'll always love him with my entire heart and soul… but neither of us has figured out the right way to make it work between us. There always seems to be other things we have to take care of. If we're both unattached when one of us retires… but I can't even be sure that he feels the same way that I do… so… the chances seem remote…," and she let that trail off.

She never said who 'he' was, but Harm thought he knew. He and Mac had spoken a bit more before he'd headed off to meet Sam for their late afternoon flight. Mac had let on a bit of what she caught from General O'Neill and his concern for his 2IC.

Military regs.

The reason why she hadn't said who 'he' was.
So her omission of his name actually added evidence to his supposition.

Military regs.

And Sam was right. Harm and Mac were the lawyers, so if anyone had a chance to work this out, they should be the ones with the tools to figure it out. But, did they have the relationship that Sam cited? He hoped so, he so fervently hoped so.

Military regs.

"Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"If you ever need a lawyer… you know who to call, right?" he made the offer and saw her eyes widen as she thought through his implications.

Shaking her head and giving him a frustrated look, "I sure hope it's never necessary."

"Yeah, well, just in case, make sure you call me, OK?" he insisted.

"Sure, if you insist," she was still shaking her head but she couldn't stop the rueful grin. "And, if you're ever… wondering about black holes or stellar dark matter or some such… feel free to pick up the phone," she balanced his offer jokingly.

"Wouldn't call anyone else for those answers," he replied.

.

====o0o==== End Part 6 ====o0o====

.
.

Part 7: Where It Goes From There

.

-06:00 the next morning. Base Commissary-

"Mind if I join you?" and Rabb looked up to see Sam's CO standing next to him with a breakfast tray.

"Certainly, General, be my guest," Rabb replied as he started to stand up.

"At ease, keep your seat," O'Neill responded quickly as he took the seat opposite the naval officer.

Silence descended over the table for a few moments and the men struggled with how to approach a conversation.

"So, Sam said that you and your team are headed back to NORAD this afternoon?" Harm went for an opener.

"Yes."

"Ah."

OK, so that could have gone better.
Or at least somewhere.
Because it had gone nowhere.

"I don't think that I've ever met a military lawyer who also retains current flight status," O'Neill commented.

Harm wondered how to respond…, "I… uh… well it wasn't my original plan, sir."

O'Neill studied him intently. "Mac says that you're a top-notch lawyer."

"I'll try and remember to thank her, sir," because he couldn't think of a better reply.

"And I understand that you are also a top-notch pilot… for a brownshoe," O'Neill added.

"I've done my job, sir. Been in the right place a few times and been lucky enough to make the right calls," he answered self-effacingly.

O'Neill answered him with silence and a continuation of the intense scrutiny.

"The law is what I do now, but flying is a part of me that will never go away," and Harm paused. "Sir, you were a pilot, too, correct?"

And he received a nod and a small smile from the General.

Gathering his courage, Harm barreled ahead, "Do you get a chance to fly much anymore, sir?"

And the same wistful look that he'd seen on Sam's face last night morphed onto the General's face. "Not very often," O'Neill admitted.

OK, there was his opening. Was he man enough to take it? "Sam said the same thing last night, sir." Ha! He did get it out.

And the look on O'Neill's face spoke volumes about the mental connections made.

Jack did not respond to Rabb's comment, he just let it stand as he mulled over the implications and possibilities. Jack suddenly got the uneasy feeling that Rabb was trying… to help…

And what he said next confirmed that idea.

"Flying isn't against military regs."

Harm said it and then held his breath. He'd gone out on a limb. Even if the General didn't yell at him, Sam just might kill him if she found out what Harm had just said to her CO.

Silence answered his statement and he wondered if O'Neill had heard what he'd said. Until he looked up from his plate to meet the officer's eyes… which were apparently trying to burn a hole through the naval aviator's skull.

Harm froze for a second. Waiting to see what was going to happen.

And the seconds ticked away. In silence.

OK, enough bravery… or stupidity for this early in the morning… Harm quickly decided to beat a hasty retreat. "I, uh, need to get prepared for our morning interviews. General," and he nodded as he picked up his tray and headed for the commissary exit.

----

"Good morning, General."

O'Neill looked up to see Carter standing next to the seat recently vacated by Rabb. "Have a seat, Carter," he answered the unspoken question and she set her tray down with a puzzled expression.

"Wasn't Commander Rabb here just a few minutes ago, sir?"

"Yeah, he said he had to go and take care of some lawyer-stuff or something," O'Neill supplied.

"Oh, I'm sorry I missed him," with a slight tone of disappointment.

Jack bit back a few snide comments about the long hours that she'd spent with Rabb over the past 2 days. Instead, he studied his oatmeal and then glanced up. To catch her studying him with a puzzled expression. Which she quickly averted down to her own breakfast with a slight look of embarrassment.

Over the next few minutes, Carter tried a few attempts at conversation. All of which Jack answered with one word replies that didn't invite further conversation.

And now there was silence again.

Carter shifted uncomfortably. "Sir? Would you prefer that I leave?" she asked respectfully.

He looked up to meet her eyes and she waited for his reply.
But he just stared at her.

"Sir?" she asked, wondering if she'd done something wrong.

"No."

She looked nonplussed by his terse reply.

"Ohhkaaayy…," she replied, her puzzlement still obvious.

The seconds ticked into long minutes of silence as the two officers ate their breakfasts with their own thoughts. Sam was wondering what, if anything, Harm had said to her CO. Jack, on the other hand, was wondering what to do with Rabb's statement and implications.

"Just thinking."

And she just looked at him, wondering how to reply to that non-sequiter. "Oh." Impressive, she mentally kicked herself. OK, how about this, "I thought that was my problem, sir?"

His eyes met hers again and she was totally at a loss for what was going on.

"Guess you're rubbing off… or you're contagious or something, Carter," and he gave her a small grin.

She felt a little relief sweep over her. She still didn't know what was going on, but at least he seemed a little more relaxed now. "Sorry sir," and she sent back a grin before returning to her breakfast.

"I was just thinking about something that Commander Rabb said," he expanded a little on his earlier comment and watched her eyes widen with uncertainty. Jack wondered what Sam had told the Commander and just what the naval officer had figured out for himself.

"Oh?" she returned a non-committal question.

"Mmmm… Just got me thinking is all. That Commander is sharp. Bet he's great as a lawyer," Jack tried to make it sound casual.

"Yes, sir. I've never seen him in the courtroom, sir, but the Commander is highly intelligent and perceptive and I would not like to have him as opposing counsel," Sam replied carefully.

"Yeah! Well, I have a few things to take care of, Colonel," and Jack stood up to leave, "I will see you at the meeting."

"Yes, sir," she replied respectfully and he could see the bewildered look on her face return as she tried to make sense of her morning 'conversation' with her CO.

---------------

.

18:00 Friday, Three and a half weeks later. SGC, Cheyenne Mountain.

.

He stood quietly in the doorway watching her.
She was intently working on some alien doohickey.
Her laptop shined quietly off to the side where she could type up notes or run simulations.

Stepping quietly into the lab, "Whatcha doin'?" He broke the silence.

She looked over at him and he couldn't tell if she was startled to see him there, if she'd just gotten used to his 'visits', or if she'd heard him earlier and was simply allowing him to dictate the start of the conversation.

"Sir," she nodded to acknowledge his presence. "I'm trying to figure out this artifact that SG-7 brought back yesterday," and she studied his reaction to determine if he really cared to hear anything more specific. Obviously deciding (correctly) that he didn't, she left it there and waited for him to reply.

"Going anywhere fun on your downtime, Carter?" he asked and saw her wince.

"I, um, was planning to work on this and some revisions to the gate dialing program, sir," and she waited with knowing dread for his reply.

"Sounds… 'fun'," and his tone clearly belied his facetious words.

"Yes, sir," she answered respectfully but gave him a reproving look.

"Daniel's going to visit some archeological exhibit in Denver…, Teal'c is going to visit Ry'ac…, I figured I'd head up for some fishing."

"Yes, sir, have a good time, sir," she returned sincerely.

"Any chance you'd care to forego the doohickeys for a little fishing, Carter?"

She looked startled. She hadn't expected that invitation again. He knew that she had work to do… and he knew that she liked working on this stuff… And he was trying to set it out there so innocently. In front of everyone. Therefore it must be honorable, innocent and above-board, right?

But she knew what her feelings for him were and she knew that she couldn't handle spending time with him isolated in a cabin in the Minnesota woods. Not and maintain their professional relationship. Not and stay within the regs.

She was tempted by his offer.
So sorely tempted.
And flattered.
And tempted.

But she also resented it.
Because it placed her in the position of having to say no. Again.
She soooo didn't want to have to be the responsible one.

She idly wondered what he'd actually do if she accepted.
Because he knew she wouldn't.
He knew that he was safe in spite of his offers.

So, what if she did? Accept.
That would throw him.
What would he do?

Suddenly find an excuse for why they couldn't go?

Or… take it as a challenge… and… then they'd be… –there-.

No, she'd have to say no.
Damn.

And he saw her answer in her eyes.
No.
Again.

He let his disappointment show a little and then, "Yeah, probably for the best, right?" he said softly. To show her that he knew and understood – at least some of it.

"Yes, sir," and she didn't venture more.
She was afraid to.
Afraid to damage what they -did- have.

"Well, I was thinking that maybe I didn't really want to go fishing…," and he paused.

"Sir?" she prompted.

"Mmmm, well, I was thinking that it's been a long time since I've had any pilot's time in a jet…," and he glanced at her face to see curiosity, "and General Dearbourne said that he could make a couple of ships available for me over the next few days…,"

"A couple of ships, sir?" she questioned.

"Well, I had mentioned that I thought a certain Lt. Colonel might want to come with… but apparently there are doohickeys and gate stuff that have to be done," he answered.

"Ah…," and she let her gaze wander over the dissected equipment on her lab table. Jet planes on an air force base… not alone in the Minnesota woods. Jet planes on an air force base… Much, much safer. "You know… I think that Dr. Lee could probably work on these doohi… artifacts," and she gave a small grin.

"And the gate programming?"

"I think it could wait," she replied simply.

"Ah," and he grinned mischievously. "I guess I'll let you know whether I decide to go fishing or not," and he was rewarded by her brows furrowing in consternation.

"Sir?"

"Yes?" overplaying the innocent look on purpose.

She let loose a sigh, "When do you think you will decide?"

"Two minutes ago."

She stared at him. He was toying with her and she was vacillating between frustration and amusement.

"What did you decide, sir?" she kept her tone controlled, and was very proud of herself.

"Well, let's see. What was the question?" he drew it out and she was rolling her eyes again, "Ah, yes, Option One, Peaceful fishing in Minnesota. Quiet, solitude. No worries. Or, Option Two. Flying with an unabashed workaholic…," and he turned to the door and sent the last over his shoulder,

"Flying won hands down."

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====o0o==== Fin ====o0o====

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Again, all of my thanks to all of the other Stargate fanfic writers out there.
I hope that you enjoyed this ramble.

Thanks again to Heliopolis, Gateworld.net, Fanfiction.net, The Stargate Novel Archive and all other Stargate SG1 fanfiction websites.