Characters are being borrowed for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended and non-profit only. This fan fiction is an original work created by the author.

S/J Pairing

SETTING: Following Season 8

SPOILERS: Threads

Chapter 1.

Jack looked at the page he had been holding for the past ten minutes. He sat motionless, his brow furrowed, his mind wading through events of the past eight years and slowing to a crawl as he reviewed the past month. He gingerly laid the paper down on the desktop and reached for the envelope in which it had arrived. Carefully he slipped it back inside, opened his right desk drawer and dropped it inside. He leaned back in his chair and rested his head against it dwelling momentarily on the comfort the soft warm leather afforded him. Standing abruptly, he headed out of his office and into the observation room where he stood, hands in the pockets of his fatigues, staring silently at the gate.

Walter appeared at his side almost immediately with a questioning look on his face, "Something I can do for you, Sir?"

"Hum? No…nothing, Walter, carry on."

"Yes, Sir."

Walter stepped aside to leave the General to his thoughts, but not without a second look trying to determine exactly what was on the General's mind. Something had changed since his arrival at 0700, his mood was darker, his brow furrowed, his face somber and his eyes were missing the mischievous gleam that normally resided there. His mind searched for any occurrence that might have so drastically changed the General's mood, but he could think of nothing. In many ways, and excluding SG1 of course, he was closest to the man. He knew his moods, his schedule, received all his classified communications, opened and delivered his mail. He was privy to all save the most guarded secrets of the base, but today he couldn't put his finger on the changes in his boss. He thought of approaching the General again but as he studied his posture decided against it and returned silently to his station.

Three days later Jack paused outside the door to Carter's lab, hesitating, turning away, then back again and finally, grasping the door he opened it and stepped inside.

"Carter!"

He smiled brightly at his 2IC as he saw her bent over her workstation, barely aware of the world around her.

She raised her head at his voice and returned his smile, "Hi, Sir."

"You busy, Carter?"

"Working on the energy source that SG11 brought back on their last mission, Sir. What can I do for you?"

"How about lunch?"

Carter's face took on a surprised look as she glanced down at her watch.

"Lunch? Already?"

"You do tend to forget the time, Carter. Come on; let's go get Danny. He's probably wrapped up in some relic and hasn't eaten either. I can't have the two of you passing out from malnutrition, now can I?"

She slipped gracefully off the stool and crossed the small space between them.

"Yes, Sir. You're probably right. What about Teal'c?"

"No need to worry about Teal'c. He never forgets a meal, he's probably already there."

Carter smiled and nodded her head in agreement as they walked out of her lab and down the hallway to Daniel's office.

O'Neill smiled as he felt the warmth of her smile penetrate every pore of his being and light up his soul. 'I'm going to miss her. I'm going to miss all of them.' Regret began to creep up on him again and he violently pushed it away. 'Too late, it's done- now deal with it.' His smile faded as he continued to walk silently beside Carter down the long lonely hallway.

"O'Neill!"

Teal'c greeted his friends with a bit more enthusiasm than normal as the three approached his table with their lunch trays. It had been a while since all of SG1 had met for lunch and Teal'c along with the others had missed their camaraderie.

"Teal'c! How's it going?"

"It goes well, O'Neill."

"Hey, Teal'c!"

"Colonel Carter, Daniel Jackson."

Teal'c greeted the remaining members of his team as he stood and bowed slightly. Jack slid into the chair next to him while Carter claimed the one across from Jack and Daniel sat at her side. Teal'c revealed the smallest of smiles as his team joined him for the first time in many days.

"It is good to have your company again." He looked to each one of them, leaving the small smile on his face. "It has been many days since we have taken sustenance together."

Carter took in his smiling face, then turned on a serious stare and uttered, "Indeed!"

Daniel chuckled lightly as their familiar banter and teasing returned to them easily. It seemed no matter how long they were separated they returned automatically to the comfort and familiarity of friendship built through years of team interaction. They had been through so much together, they had relied on each other for their very lives, trusted each other without question, more than they trusted anyone else in the universe. They had formed a bond that could not be easily broken.

"Guys, what do you say to pizza and a movie at my place tonight?"

"Um, sounds good, Jack."

"Indeed, it would be a most pleasant way to spend the evening hours."

Jack smiled at his two friends, "Carter, have plans already?"

"Um, well I was trying to finish my report for a certain General, but if I focus on it, I should make good progress…should I expect any interruptions this afternoon, Sir?"

"What? Why…no." Jack looked confused until he looked up to see Carter's teasing smile. "Ok. I'm not that bad, Carter!"

"Really? Could've fooled me, Sir, but yeah, sounds good."

She smiled brightly at him, her eyes sparkling with long absent mischief and returned to her meal.

Was it just his imagination or was she acting differently today? That look, that smile…was she…flirting? They had drifted apart since her engagement to Pete and their friendly flirting had dropped to almost non-existent, as had the breakfasts and lunches they'd often shared.

Daniel looked up to see Jack momentarily frozen, his fork in mid-air.

"Jack?"

"Um?"

"You okay?" Daniel pointed toward the fork that Jack held immobile.

He dropped it quickly to his plate and cocked his head to one side, "Yeah. Yeah, Daniel, fine."

The other team members exchanged momentary quizzical looks as O'Neill hurriedly finished his meal and avoided their stares.

"1900 hours then, ok?" Jack looked to each of them as they nodded in agreement. "Ok, then, gotta go. Lots of work waiting for me."

He practically chirped with excitement as he jumped up from the table, set his tray aside and was out the door before any of them could react.

Carter looked after him frowning while Daniel squinted his eyes and Teal'c raised one eyebrow in surprise. Daniel turned to Sam with the question still on his face.

"What was that?"

Carter shook her head as she swallowed a mouthful of food, "Weird."

"Yeah, I've never seen Jack anxious to do paperwork! What's going on?"

TBC -