Title: Who They Are

Author: Gail R. Delaney

Genre: Major Angst, Romance

Pairing: Jack/Sam

Rating: PG-13

Length: 5,500 words – give or take

Spoilers: Divide and Conquer – minor.

Timeline: Season 8

Synopsis: Sam is gone, but Jack can't let her go.

Warning: Representation of Major Character Death

Archive: , Sam and Jack, SJfic, , Helio. . . if you'd like to post it somewhere else, just let me know. I'm sure I'll say yes, just want to know where.

Feedback: YES!

Disclaimer: I make no money for this. Wish I did . . . but oh, well. No copyright infringement intended.

Special Thanks: As always, a big 'ole thank you goes to Jenifer. She's the other half of my brain, I swear. Or, we share the same muse. She understands what I want to say, and helps me say it. Thank you!

"Carter, get your ass out of there and get to the Gate NOW!"

"The warhead timer is damaged, sir. It won't go off unless it's triggered manually."

"This is not the time for damn action movie cliché's, Colonel. Set the damn timer and come home, that's an order!"

Jack hunched over the communications console, closing his eyes against the chaos around him and tuning his ears to just her voice through the sound of battle on the other side of the Gate. His heart stuttered between sporadic pounding and seizing painfully in his chest.

Only the blood-chilling sound of distant staff weapon blasts and P-90 retaliation came through the speaker. Jack curled his hands into tight fists, his knuckles white and his lip pulled across his teeth.

"Daniel and Teal'c will reach the Gate any moment, General," came Sam's heavy voice. "When they are safe, shut the Gate."


"Jack--" His name acted like a vice around his chest. "Please."

"Sam. . ." All other words failed him.

The event horizon shifted, and Daniel and Teal'c came through, hit the metal ramp and rolled to the base. Blasts of energy followed them, one making direct impact with the observation glass.

"Sir!" Harriman shouted, his hand poised over the Gate kill switch.

Jack stared through the glass, not flinching when black soot smeared his view. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Couldn't move.


"Close the iris. . ." he forced through a tightly restricting throat. He pressed his eyes closed, pain shooting through his skull. "Kill the Gate."

"Yes, sir."

The Gate disengaged, its final snap of energy sucking all sound and life from the room. Jack looked down to the debarkation room, watched with blank eyes as Teal'c and one of the med-staff helped Daniel to his feet. The green fabric around Teal'c shoulder still smoldered from a blast that made contact, and red blood mixed with charred material. But Jack didn't see it . . . didn't see any of it.

He straightened, his fisted hands dropping to his side. Red spots danced in his vision, his lungs burning as they refused to draw oxygen. On wooden legs, he turned from the command center and climbed the spiral staircase to his office.

"Go away, Daniel."

Daniel ignored him and stepped down into Jack's living room, his hands pushed into the pockets of his slacks, concern creasing his forehead. He stepped slowly into the middle of the room, and Jack could practically feel the younger man's eyes on him.

"I mean it, Daniel. Get the hell out."

"No, Jack."

Jack wrapped both hands around his bottle of Guinness, imagining the cold glass was Daniel's throat. Why didn't they just leave him alone, for cryin' out loud? All he wanted was to get blind drunk, and stay that way, for a very very long time.

Daniel continued into the room, walking around the coffee table to stand beside the fireplace, his shoulder set against the mortared field stone. Jack didn't look at him, wouldn't meet his stare, and drained the contents of his beer. Luckily, he had two more sitting on the coffee table. He leaned forward, set the empty bottle down with a deliberate thud, and picked up the next.

"It's been two weeks, Jack."

"And I see you've healed just fine," Jack ground out.

"Be as nasty as you need to be, Jack. I get it. But don't do this."

Jack did look up then, his head snapping up with a jerk. "Do what, Daniel? Let everyone down? Leave the inmates to run the asylum? Right now, I don't give a f--"

"Don't dirty her memory by destroying yourself," Daniel said calmly, cleanly cutting him off.

Jack was on his feet, despite his consumption of large quantities of malt liquor, and had Daniel's shirt fisted in his hands before the archaeologist could take a step back. He jerked Daniel towards him until their faces were within an inch of each other. His sharp, quick breath huffed between them, but Daniel didn't flinch. Didn't move. Didn't fight back, but didn't pull away.

Disgusted with himself – with Daniel for not giving him the fight he needed right now – Jack shoved him away. Daniel stumbled, but stayed on his feet, watching him. Jack shoved his hand through his rumpled hair and headed towards the steps leading from the living room.

"You aren't the only one mourning her, Jack," Daniel said loudly as Jack skipped the steps with one long stride.

Jack paused in the foyer, bracing his hand against the wall. But you didn't kill her . . . rang through his mind.

He walked with leaden feet down the hall to the dining room entrance, and dragged himself to the kitchen. Jack waited, his hands braced against the edge of his counter until he heard the front door open and quietly close. A new wave of rage, much like every other wave that had overpowered him in the last two weeks, flooded his bloodstream and he swept his arm across the counter top, releasing the pent up howl in his chest. Moo Goo Gai Pan splattered on the tile, mixing with the frothy remains of warm beer, and amber glass shattered into hundreds of sharp shards.

Jack pressed the heels of his hands against the sink edge and bowed his head. He was suffocating, but he wouldn't let go. Wouldn't truly release the pain. To release it might be to ease it, and he wasn't ready for that. Didn't deserve that yet.

"I hate that you're doing this to yourself."

Jack closed his eyes, pain and joy colliding in his chest at the soft sound of her voice. He forced himself to stand and snuffled his nose with his thumb before turning towards her.

She stood on the other side of the kitchen, clear of the Chinese noodles and spilled beer, leaning her hip against the counter. Dressed in civvies, the knee length skirt and fitted sweater accentuated her feminine form. Jack pushed his hands into his jean pockets and faced her, steeling himself against the onslaught of emotions at seeing her face again.

"You did what you had to do, Jack."

He couldn't open his mouth, couldn't force words from his throat. If he actually starting talking back to her mirage, then he knew he might as well just pack it up and head for the loony bin.

She stepped towards him, her high heeled sandals making no sound when her feet came down on the shattered glass. Sam stopped in front of him, her chin tipping up so she could look into his face. He drew in a breath, and swore he could smell her scent. Not the perfume she wore the Saturday nights they all went out to O'Malley's. The musky scent usually proved to be a potent and erotic aphrodisiac, but it was her natural aroma that always got his blood boiling. The gentle mingle of her shampoo and soap and the way it all came together to simple be 'Sam'.

"I wasn't alone. You were with me. Here." She raised her hand and placed it over her own heart, and Jack let his gaze shift from her face to her fingers.

"Please, Jack. Don't do this."

Jack closed his eyes, and fought the overwhelming urge to raise his hands to her arms. "Sam. . ."

Her name was off his lips before he could choke it back. The air around him turned cold, almost as frigid as the air in Antarctica, and he opened his eyes.

She was gone.

"Your visitation to O'Neill was unsuccessful, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel sank down onto his couch with a sigh. Teal'c paused Star Wars, which he had been watching while Daniel was gone.

"He's slowly killing himself."

One eyebrow arched towards Teal'c hairline. "O'Neill is ceremoniously choosing to end his life? Is this a Tauri custom I have not been aware of?"

"He's not actually killing himself. He's just… not living. I suppose it's only a custom when you lose someone you care about as much as Jack cared about Sam."

"O'Neill once proclaimed that he would rather give his own life than have Colonel Carter absent from him."

Daniel looked to Teal'c. "When did he say that?"

"Four years ago, when both he and Colonel Carter were required to undergo questioning by the Tok'Ra."

"Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"O'Neill and Colonel Carter requested that their disclosure not be revealed to anyone other than those of us present at the time."


"Colonel Carter made a similar statement."

Daniel shook his head. "I always knew . . . but seeing him like this. . . Teal'c, I've seen Jack come out of some very dark places before, but I'm not sure he even wants to even try this time.

Jack sat on his patio, beer in hand, as the sun disappeared behind the trees sending an orange-pink glow across the sky. His stomach twisted with hunger, grumbling loudly to be filled, and in answer he took another swallow of bitter-warm Guinness.

"Are you going to starve yourself to death?"

"Put on a couple pounds lately."

"You need to stay at fighting weight."

Jack smiled, despite his acknowledgement that he was quickly racing towards a medical discharge for mental instability. He glanced towards Sam, who sat on the porch railing – legs crossed – wearing that skirt again. Damn, but didn't she have fi-ine legs!

"I wondered when you were coming back."

She smiled the slow and sexy grin he had grown to love over the years. "Bored of me already?"

"Not a chance." Jack grinned back at her, then parted his lips and took a shallow breath. "What do I have to do to get you to stay?"

"I'll stay as long as I can."


She tilted her head. "Nothing is forever, Jack."

"Some things are."

"So philosophical and romantic. . ."

Jack shrugged and took another sip from his bottle. "I guess I find you easier to talk to these days."

She slipped gracefully down from the railing and walked towards him, her steps silent in the dusk of evening. Sam stopped beside his chair, her fingertips brushing the arm of the chair, but not touching him.

"You couldn't talk to me before?"

"I could . . . just couldn't say the things I wanted to."

She crouched down, folding her arms on the chair and resting her chin on her top wrist. The skirt crept above her kneecap, and Jack glanced down to enjoy the view. What could it hurt? She wasn't really there, right?

"What would you have said to me? If you could have said anything you wanted?"

He lifted his gaze to her face, memorizing the sparkle in her blue eyes and the angle of her nose. The way her blonde hair curled around her brow and ears. They were all details he had noticed long ago . . . and long ago committed to memory. But someday, he knew they would fade and he needed to hang on as long as possible.

Jack drew in a breath and shook his head slightly. "I'm not ready to go down that road yet."

"Are you afraid that if you say it, I'll go?"

"There's always that possibility."

Sam shook her head, the breeze through the trees stirring her hair. "I wouldn't have gone anywhere. You don't think we could have worked it all out?"

"It wasn't up to just us. There was more involved."

"And what you wanted came last."

Jack nodded.

"What do you want now, Jack?"

He raised his hand to touch her cheek, but stopped short of contact. If he tried, and found nothing but air, he was afraid it could be the final breaking point to send him spiraling into insanity.

"I want you back."

"He hasn't even come to the Mountain in a week?"

Daniel glanced from General Hammond to Teal'c, and back to Hammond. With a wince, he shook his head. "No, General."

"Has anyone called him?"

"Repeatedly," Teal'c supplied. "From which we have received no response. Visitations to his home have proven unproductive."

Daniel leaned back in his chair, his elbows on the armrests and his fingers linked over his stomach. He was more worried for Jack than he cared to admit. When he met Jack, the man had been in a dark place. But it was nothing like what Daniel had seen in his face that day at the house. Jack had lost too much . . . losing Sam was the final straw. It had hurt Daniel – deep – when he realized Sam was gone. She was more than a friend, more than family to him. But what he felt was nothing compared to what he saw in Jack's eyes.

General Hammond tapped the tabletop with his fingers. "I'm reluctant to report this to anyone, because a mark as black as dereliction of duty could end his career. He is responsible for Earth's front line. We need someone here."

"He needs time, General."

"I'm aware of that, son. And I'm going to give him all the time I possibly can." He linked his hands and leaned forward. "I'm going to ask you this not as a General and not has Jack's commanding officer. But as his friend, and someone who is genuinely concerned for his well-being. Doctor Jackson, knowing Jack as you do, do you feel he is capable of maintaining command of this facility?"

Daniel drew his lips together and focused for a moment on a ring left on the table by someone's coffee cup. He huffed and rubbed a finger along the side of his face. "Right now – in his current frame of mind – no. General he's only human and he's just lost. . . " He paused, stumbling over his phrase, but saw in the General's face he knew the words before Daniel said them. "He's just lost the woman he loves more than life itself."

General Hammond nodded and sighed. "I can give him another week, but after that he's either here – or I will have to take steps."

"Understood, General."

"We shall endeavor to assist O'Neill in returning to his duties, General."

Daniel looked at Teal'c, at least some part of his mind accepting the fact that Jack might never step inside Cheyenne Mountain again.

The afternoon sun was warm, and Jack dozed with his face turned to the heat and sunglasses shading his eyes. He snapped awake as the half-eaten apple held in his fingers slipped free and fell with a thud to the deck.

He raised his head and looked around, taking in his surroundings and remembering all too quickly where he was and why. Jack shifted with a groan against knees and hips that had begun to ache with inactivity, and curled his fingers around the wide armrest of his wooden Adirondack chair. His fingertips brushed the glossy paper he had left resting there. Jack picked up the photo and held it up, setting his elbow on the armrest.

He had found the photo rummaging for one of his last remaining clean shirts, stuffed in the back of his bureau drawer where he had put it months before – to hopefully forget it. But he couldn't forget, would never forget.

Daniel had been fiddling with the timer on his new digital camera, and wanted the Team to stand together. When they were still a team. Just after his 'defrost', and before his promotion. They were still SG-1.

It was the four of them, but as far as Jack was concerned the only two people in the picture were him and Sam. He could still feel the warmth of her hand on his shoulder and her leg brushing his.


He smiled.

"Aren't I the one who usually sneaks up on you, Sam?"

She came around the chair to stand beside him, leaning over to look at the photograph held between his fingers. "I had Daniel make me a five-by-seven copy. It's in my bedroom. Or, was in my bedroom. Do I still have a bedroom?"

Jack nodded, slipping off his sunglasses to see her with no obstruction. "I haven't touched a thing. Pissed Pete off, by the way, that you left the responsibility to me."

She winced. "I bet."

"It's been two days since you were here."

"Did you miss me?"

"Yes." Why lie now? What purpose would it serve and whose ego would it protect?

Sam walked around the chair to sit on another perpendicular to him. The natural curve of the chair forced her to recline, and accentuated her curves and peaks as she crossed her legs. She turned her face into the sun, her hair shining golden beneath its rays.

"Is this what it would be like?"

"Is this what 'what' would be like?" He soaked in every detail, realizing this was a moment he never would have known otherwise. Sitting in the sunshine on his back porch with Samantha Carter.

"You and me? Enjoying each other's company? Just . . . talking."

"Among other things. . . "

She smiled with understanding. "Yes, among other things. I wish . . . " Her voice trailed off, but he didn't need to hear the rest.

"Me, too."

Sam looked sideways at him and stretched out her arm towards his hand, her long fingers begging to be touched. A powerful energy pulled at his chest, demanding he reach out to her. He saw the pain in her eyes when he didn't reach out to her, and hated himself for it. Even now – with her gone – he couldn't reach out. Couldn't trust she'd be there.

"All you ever had to do was say it."

He shook his head. "I didn't want to put you in that position."

"What position? Of saying it back?"

"What if--"

"What if I didn't feel the same way? You know I did."

"It's too late now."

She watched him, her lips curling between her teeth in deep thought. "Is it, Jack."

He shifted his head against the wood, angling himself to see her better. Her hand still stretched across the space between them, palm up, fingers unfurled waiting for his touch. Jack swallowed and took a deep breath, reaching out for her. He held his hand above hers, their palms a breath apart, his skin itching for the contact. His lungs burned as he held his breath.

"I love you, Sam," he finally said, and lowered his hand.

And felt nothing but air.

Every muscle in her body jerked, and Sam sucked in a sharp breath – her eyes opening after over three weeks of barely a movement. She fought for equilibrium even though she was on her back, taking in the details of the animal-hide tent around her.

"She has awoken. Colonel Carter, are you able to hear me?"

Sam blinked, confused and disoriented, into the face of Malachi, a rebel Jaffa soldier among those who had fought on their last mission.

Last mission . . . bomb . . .

"Where am I?" she choked through a throat as dry as Vorash.

"We are on Talcetti, a nearly decimated planet on the Stargate network. The Goa'uld have no interest in this place, and we will be safe for a time."

"What happened?"

"You detonated the explosive device, nearly destroying Ba'al's entire facility. We found you in the rubble, and brought you here to recover."

"Earth. . ."

"We have been unable to make contact for fear that Ba'al might learn our whereabouts. And you have been in too weak a condition to travel. You have been lost in a fevered delirium since we brought you here."

"I've been here?"

Images and moments collided in her mind, and Sam couldn't understand or separate them from one another. In bits and pieces, the battle came back. Sam remembered the bomb – asking Jack to let her go and close the Gate. Remembered MacGyvering the timer and gained a few seconds between initiation and detonation, then running like a bat out of hell.

Then the explosion.

And she remembered Jack. And sunlight. And talking to him as if neither had a care in the world.

I love you, Sam.

She blinked, sudden hot tears burning her eyes. It had to be the fever – dreams twisting her memories.

"I need to go home."

Jack wandered aimlessly through his empty house. He stood for awhile in the living room, staring at the black screen of his television, debating whether he wanted to sit and mindlessly flip through the hundred or so channels available. In the end, it wasn't worth the effort.

He walked to his bedroom, stared at his rumpled and unmade bed and the laundry scattered on the floor.

He walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, taking inventory of the half-case of beer and the large pizza he had eaten half a slice from.

Eventually, he ended up on the back patio, staring out over the expanse of green grass that spread out from the south side of his house to the tree line. On a clear day, he could see the top of Cheyenne Mountain. Not today. There was some low cloud cover, and a damp chill in the air.

Jack walked down the steps leading from the patio, his boots thumping loudly in the heavy silence. Where he was going, he wasn't sure, but he was going nonetheless.

He walked away from the house about a hundred feet and stopped, his hands pushed into the pockets of his jeans. The air was heavy and fragrant, and filled his senses.

Jack closed his eyes and tipped his head to the sky.

The weight of the Earth sat on his chest, suffocating him.

His heart was slowly being sucked into the black hole that had taken up residence in his chest.

He was dying, beat by beat, moment by moment. Maybe not physically . . . but this was a worse death.

Living death, when he would welcome the quiet peace of eternal sleep but knew he didn't deserve it. The peace. The escape.

Two hot tears, the first he had allowed, forced their way from his eyes and ran down his cheeks.


He turned on his heels, and found her standing ten feet away. Her arms were crossed over her body, and her head tilted as she looked at him – seeming to study him.

"I didn't think you'd come back," he said, sucking back the emotion in his throat. He had to be certifiable now – thanking God that the figment of his imagination still haunted him. Praying she'd never stop.

She took another step towards him, a small and cautious smile on her lips. "I always come back."

Jack chuckled without humor and looked down at the wet grass, slipping his hands into his back pockets as he dug his toe into the soft earth. "Not always, Sam."

When he looked up again, her lips were curled between her teeth and her eyes shined bright with moisture. He had to look away. Yup, he was definitely insane. Gonzo. Bonkers.

"Three days," he said, mumbling more to himself.


"Three days," he said louder. "It's been three days since you came to me. I thought you weren't coming again."

Her breath hitched, and he steeled his nerves to look at her again. Her eyes were wide, her lips parted, as if she had just realized some great mystery – solved some frustrating puzzle.

"I've been coming to you . . ."

Sam tried to absorb the realization that crept through her, sending goose bumps over her flesh and bubbling in her veins.

The 'dreams' that had come back to her, in bits and pieces, as she traveled back to the Gate to return to Earth. The moments that flashed in her mind at the oddest moments – as Daniel embraced her, and Teal'c told her how good it was to see her. As she showered and changed, and Daniel drove her home. As she stood in her own dusty and forgotten living room.

They weren't dreams. They were real.

In her fevered and near-comatose state, she had come to him. Come to Jack across thousands of light years of space. Her lost mind, her fractured and panicked soul, had sought him out.

And he thought she had been a ghost, a figment of his imagination.

Jack shook his head. "Perfect. I don't even believe myself."

His strained and heavy voice pulled her back from her thoughts, and she took a moment to really see him. He looked tired, drained. At least two days worth of stubble peppered his cheeks, and his short hair stuck out in haphazard spikes. The jeans he wore hung loose around his hips, and his black tee shirt didn't fit as neatly as usual. He wasn't emaciated, but he was . . . fading.

Sam swallowed against the thick emotion that choked her words. "Yes, I've come to you. I came to you after Daniel left that day. I asked you not to blame yourself. And I came to sit with you on the patio."

"Yeah." He nodded, studying her face. Sam caught the movement of his fists flexing by his side.

Even now, he didn't know it was her. Sam's heart ached, her lungs tight in the grip of an unseen fist. Realizing the tender moments she had thought weren't real had actually happened, even if not in flesh and blood, both broke her heart and left her overjoyed.

"And in your bed. I slept beside you."

"You did?" He arched his eyebrows and tilted his head.

She nodded, loving the momentary flash of 'Jack' in his eyes. The slightest hint of a cocky grin tipped his lip. "Yes," she said softly. "You didn't know I was there."

Sam took another step towards him, the overwhelming need to touch him almost too much. She didn't understand what had happened, and knew there would be no scientific explanation. It was just . . . them. Who they were, the way they were, the way they always had been. Jack had joked that sometimes he thought they shared a brain, the way they could guess each other's actions and words. But they shared more than that . . . and never had she believed it more than she did right now.

"Jack, you're not crazy."

He chuckled, popping up one eyebrow. "That's what all imaginary dead 'never-was-lovers' say."

"I'm not dead."

"Stop," he snapped, stepping back when she moved closer. Sam paused, holding her place. "Just . . . quit screwing with my head any more than you already are."

Sam crossed her arms over her body and looked up to the sky, biting down on her lower lip. "You don't understand, Jack."

"I do understand," he shouted, and the boom of his voice made her jump. "You're dead. You're gone—" His voice faltered, and Sam snapped her head down to look at him. Her breath caught, her heart seizing for a moment in her chest when she saw the sheen in his eyes and the unsteady line of his jaw. "Ah, hell. . ."

He turned away, his hands set at his waist and his head bowed. She heard him clear his throat and sniff softly.

"Jack. . ." Sam walked around him on shaky legs until she faced him again. "Jack, look at me."

He did, and the raw emotion in his face forced hot tears to her eyes. "Do you trust me?" she asked.


"Touch me, Jack." She knew what she was asking, remembered as clear as she knew he did that last moment together when he had reached for her. Remembered her own sadness when his hand was denied the contact, and the rush of euphoria at his words. I love you, Sam.

He shook his head, one quick jerk. "No."

"Touch me, Jack," she said more firmly.


He tried to retreat, and it was at that moment she understood he was too far into his own pain to see. Sam grabbed his arm, stopping him short, and before he could yank himself free she brought his palm to her cheek.

"Feel me, Jack!"

Shocked brown eyes stared down at her, his chest heaving. Sam held her breath, waiting until she knew he understood. His fingertips pressed into her hair, turning slow circles. She saw the shift in his eyes, the slight parting of his lips.

"Yes, Jack," she said, nodding. She ran her hand down his other arm until their fingers met, bringing his hand to her other cheek. "Yes."

The fierce need of his kiss, his mouth crushing hers, stole all strength from her body and tore a purred moan from her throat. When his tongue probed her lips, she opened to him, unwilling and unable to do any less than give in totally. Jack groaned, the sound a sweet vibration that moved through both of them. Sam wrapped her arms around him, savoring the flex and bunch of his back muscles beneath her palms as he tilted her head and deepened the kiss.

When her head swam, and her knees threatened to give way beneath her, Jack broke the kiss and buried his face against the side of her throat. Sam sucked in oxygen, smiling through the tears that would not stop.

"Oh. God. Sam," he whispered against her skin, his voice rough and forced. "I don't know how. . . I don't care. . ."

Sam pulled back, raising her hands to touch his damp face. "I'll tell you, but not right now."

He smiled, nodded, and kissed her again – the touch of his lips sending fire and ice through her, turning her insides to liquid and bringing every part of her body to life. Then Jack's hand found hers and he linked their fingers, leading her towards the house.

Jack lay on his side, his head supported against his fist and a pillow bunched beneath his arm. The last rays of sunlight streamed in through his bedroom window, leaving a golden stream across the rumpled bedcovers and the sleeping form beside him.

Her face was turned towards him, her shoulders and arms laid bare with the edge of the blanket barely covering her breasts. Her eyes were closed in sleep, her features relaxed and peaceful.

Now, after the shock had worn off and he was close to possibly – maybe – accepting that she was real, he recognized the signs of what might have happened to her in the last few weeks. Her cheeks were thinner, her skin paler – almost translucent. Fading dark shadows lined her eyes, and the remains of a healing gash along her hairline was just visible when he brushed back her hair.

But he had seen her in worse shape, and she was still beautiful. Still Sam. His Sam.

Jack drew in a long, deep breath, savoring the way her scent permeated the air. It filled him, wrapped around him, and left his blood warm.

If this was insanity, he never wanted to be cured.

If this was real – and oh, God let this be real! – he would be in the nearest church come Sunday. On his knees. Thanking God.

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to her cheek. Sam moaned softly, shifted deeper into the bed, and smiled in her sleep. Careful not to disturb her, Jack slipped from beneath the blankets and stood to pull on his jeans. Not bothering to actually fasten them, he crept from the bedroom and down the hall to the living room.

With a glance over his shoulder to make sure she hadn't woken up and followed him, he picked up his phone and dialed.

The line connected after the second ring. "Daniel Jackson."

"Hey, Daniel," Jack said, and then cleared his voice. Just how do I broach THIS subject . . .

"Jack, hey! It's good to hear from you. I kinda hoped you'd call."

"Yeah, I just – I thought I'd check in." Jack winced, squinting his eyes. He glanced back to the hall. No sign of her. Course, that could be because you imagined her – imagined the best sex you've ever had – imagined that she's sleeping in your bed. Idiot!

"Oh. Yeah. You haven't heard?"

"Heard what?"

"Wow, I thought she might have gone to see you. Or maybe called. Jack, Sam is—"

Jack didn't hear another word, hanging up on Daniel mid-sentence.

Hot Damn!

He bounded up the steps out of the living room and jogged back the bedroom, a smile on his face. As he stepped through the doorway, Sam sat up, holding the blanket against her breasts. She smiled and shook her head.

"You called Daniel, to make sure, didn't you. . . "

Jack set one knee on the bed and leaned down on his hands, silencing her words with his mouth. Sam's arms circled his neck and they both eased back into the pillows. As he explored her throat and shoulders with his mouth for the second time that day, Sam moaned softly and urged him to look up with a gentle touch.

"What?" he asked.

"I love you, too, Jack."

Jack smiled, taking a moment to memorize the gleam in her eyes and the glow in her cheeks, wanting to hold on to this moment forever. Then he covered her mouth and took full advantage of his second chance.