Disclaimer: Not mine. Episode insert: Redemption. Rating: PG. Archive: SJFic yes please, others certainly. Notes: There's a nice gap of time right after McKay's bit, and before Jonas'... And they couldn't stay awake the whole time... Title comes from Something For Kate's song 'Twenty Years' which kind of embodies this fic. Sort of.

Path of Least Resistance by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Frustration had covered their mutual exhaustion until now. But they had both been too long without sleep. Staring at the gate, working the problem from every angle. Sam wasn't sure which of them had arrived first. She simply knew that Janet had cornered her and sent her to sleep. By subconscious choice she'd ended up on Level 19 in the small set of quarters. It was just down the hall from a storage closet she was fond of.

Perhaps, she considered tiredly as they curled up, his arms around her waist and his hands splayed against the skin under her shirt. Perhaps it was simply that they were weary of this pretense.

They would be called for soon. Someone would page him or her and they would have to leave their cocoon.

"Can't the world end without us?" Her whisper was soft, and she hadn't meant to say it, but didn't take it back.

The arms tightened around her, his face burying itself into the side of her neck.

She hadn't had a shower in god knew how long, but he didn't seem to care. Neither had he, and she realized that she didn't care, either.

Her right hand ached. The electrical shock still had her nerves on edge, her senses raw. If she wasn't used to him, to this, to knowing she craved this connection, she would have been on the other side of the room huddled in a ball while her skin crawled off her bones.

Sam knew when he fell asleep. That slight bit of vigilance in the arms around her relaxed, his breathing deepened. In a way, she was glad that one of them could sleep. Even if she was jealous of his ability to drop off at the drop of a hat.

For a fleeting moment, eyes open in the dim light spilling under the edge of the door, she considered her options. Considered handing in her resignation and walking away from all of this. From him. Or for him.

Anything to hang on with both hands to this feeling.

Ironically, she knew that when she'd had sleep and was out in the sunlight (or buried in her lab), she knew she would wonder what the hell she was thinking right now. Did she crave this? Yes. Was it worth giving everything up? It hurt to know that she didn't need this enough.

Or maybe she just didn't want to believe it could ever be real.

Not that a man like Jack O'Neill would ever be perfect. But Sam Carter wasn't particularly sure she wanted 2.3 kids and a white picket fence and two dogs and a cat and children that took care of her in retirement.

She hated it when she started thinking about this sort of thing.

The phone rang, distracting her. She listened to it for a moment, then sighed. Janet knew her too well. She stretched, snagging the handset without leaving the comforting warmth of the bed. "Carter."

"I'm sorry for waking you, Major."

Ah. Lieutenant Simmons. "What is it?" Not that she'd actually fallen asleep. Not with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

"They're asking for you, Major. McKay was threatening to lead a base-wide search for you."

She sighed. "Tell them I'll be about ten minutes, Lieutenant."

"Willdo, ma'am."

There was no point in trying to get the phone back in the cradle.

"Don't go."

"I have to."

"Sleep better," he paused to yawn and she felt his breath ruffle her hair. "When you're here."

"And I don't sleep at all."

Silence, and she didn't want to leave. But they would eventually come looking. And poor Simmons, who apparently knew her too well (or Janet had told him) would try to stop them. Hopefully.

"Meet me for cake later?"

"'k." Lips pressed against the nape of her neck, and then he let her go, his hands sliding out from under her shirt, his arms flopping to the bed as he rolled onto his back.

It took a lot more willpower than she wanted to admit to to get out of the bed and find her boots and pull them on. She wasn't stupid enough to look back until she was at the door. "Try to get some sleep, sir."

"Right." One hand waved at her.

Time to go come up with a brilliant plan that would save the planet.

She would rather be back in bed.