NOTES: Last chapter! Thanks for reading!

Twenty Eight Days

Part Four

"Did you know they were going to split SG-1 up?"

He frowned as she pushed past him into the house but shut the door. "No. But it makes sense."

His reaction was all wrong.

"You think so?"

One shoulder lifted and fell in a shrug. "We're most useful to them as a team. But even individually, they can get mileage out of us."

"And that's it?" Her voice was sharp. She'd expected more rebellion from him, more reluctance.

"That's what an organisation like the Air Force does, Carter. If we're not useful to them, we're dropped by the wayside."

The harshness in his voice grated on her nerves and she responded with more than a little sardonicism. "You'll always be useful to the project, sir." She didn't speak it as a reassurance, and he flinched.

"Carter--" It was nearly a plea.

Sam interrupted him. "Mackenzie said you haven't been co-operating with the counselling."

His gaze was almost antagonistic as it fixed upon her. "Would you?"

"Don't you want to be back --?"

He interrupted her before she could say any more. "It'll never be the same, Carter." Dark eyes held hers. "They can psychoanalyse us until the Goa'uld are destroyed. But what was done to us can't be undone." And we'll never forget it.

They both heard the words he didn't say.

"And that's it?"

"That's it."

Sam regarded him. "Who are you and what have you done with Jack O'Neill?" Anger was building in her, an entirely unfamiliar fury. This just wasn't like him. He didn't give up. He didn't.

"Carter, every man has his limit!"

"This is not yours, sir!"

"Who are you to tell me what my limits are, Major?"

She should have flinched at his tone of voice. She didn't. "I'm the one who watched you struggle against them for twenty-eight days. And I'm the one who'll be sent out without my team-mates," she flashed back. "This isn't about undoing what was done - I can't do that, nobody can. Colonel, this is about fighting back."

"I did all the fighting back I was going to do in Pindalyn," he said with a smile that held something terrible in it. The look he turned upon her heated her veins and froze her marrow. "And you don't want me to fight you, Carter."

His words were intense and haunted, both with the memory of what was done to him and what he'd done in return. He'd been a slave in a culture that valued him for one skill only; and he'd learned to use that skill as a weapon to fight back.

How like Jack O'Neill.

Something coursed through her; a tension that quivered her breathing and trembled in her gut. She'd known this was coming since the discussion with Janet on the drive home. If she was honest with herself, she'd felt the first hint of it that day in the locker room when Teal'c had confronted her.

"You don't want to fight me?" Sam asked, narrow-eyed. "Then don't."

Trust issues with women who showed an interest in them.

Her insecurities screamed at her, as she moved into his space. Fear clawed at her belly as she took his head in her hands. Adrenaline raced through her as his mouth closed on hers, neither harsh nor brutal, but without gentleness, without finesse.

Trust issues with women in authority roles.

He wanted this, or something like this. Something to drive out the memory of other women using him; something to show himself that he wasn't only capable of brutality in bed.

Trust issues. With a woman who had the power to hurt them?

Fear flickered in his eyes.

Trust issues. With themselves?

Her own trust issues shrieked at her as mouth moved in mouth, sensuous with the rhythm of desire.

It was in him to be gentle.

It was in her to show him that he could be.


She allowed her fears to be swept away in the pulse of her blood and the slow heating of skin and flesh - then shivered as he pushed her back against the wall. Her fingers bit into his upper arms, but she held herself still as he swept her from supine to fierce.

Panic soared in her. Her heartbeat raced. Adrenaline pulsed through her, making every second a lifetime. Air panted through her lungs and the wall bit coldly into her shoulderblades, but Sam kept herself from pushing him away - just.

His body pressed her back against the wall, hands slipping beneath her clothes, stirring fire against her skin. The world was spinning, although she knew her feet were flat on the ground. Sam let his fingers touch and stroke, and panted into his mouth as her body responded to his unspoken promises of exquisite pleasure.

Her shirt parted sometime between when the Colonel's tongue traced her throat and when his lips caressed her nipple. Sam bit back a moan - or maybe a sob - and let her hands slip around his neck. Her body was in sensual overload, but something in her held back, terrified and unable to escape, trapped by his need for restitution.

She owed him this.

She owed him.

It was the only thing that kept her still.

Her stillness was the only thing that saved her - that saved them.

As though he'd heard her doubts and misgivings, his kisses eased, slowed, stopped. He lifted his head and met her eyes, hazy with desire. Then he dragged himself away, letting her go, his voice harsh. "I warned you."

Sam eased her breast back into the cup of her bra, and her fingers found her lips, swollen and bruised. Her eyes found his face and she saw him flinch. "You did."

Colonel O'Neill coloured and his gaze dropped to the cleft of her breasts before he realised what he was staring at. His jaw set and he turned away. "Go." It was an order.

She disobeyed it. "No."

He turned on her, and the yearning in his eyes was like a shot to the belly. "Carter, don't let me do something I'll regret." His fingers curled at his sides, like he was fighting the instincts to seize, to take.

Every nerve in her body screamed at her to flee, to run, to hide. But no amount of running would make her forget the feel of his mouth against hers, could erase the memory of his expression. And neither he, nor Daniel, nor Teal'c would ever move past this unless they were pushed to it.

Trust issues. With women in authority. With women who showed an interest in them. With themselves.

But not with her. Never with her.

She had to make them face the issues they had with her. And the only way she could was to push them beyond their limits - to drive them hard before her, relentless, whatever the cost.

"You have to face it sometime, sir."

"Face what, Carter?"

"That you can't push this away forever."

"What happened in Pindalyn?" His smile flashed swift and sharp, cutting through the air between them. "Or us?" The 'us' they never mentioned, never spoke of, never acknowledged.

Not the way they were doing now.

"Both," said Sam, swallowing her fears.

He turned in the corridor like a feline in a cage, feral beauty and dangerous. "It's not that I want to push it away," he said, gritting out the words like they caused him pain. "It's that... Carter... Sam." One hand reached out, caressed her cheek, retracted, and closed into a fist with a trinium will. "You don't want me to use you like that."

The words were torn from him, sound waves in air but painful as chunks ripped from his soul.

And here would begin either the rending or the mending.

No fear in her voice. No uncertainty. Not now. Not ever. "You won't."

"So sure?"

Sam lifted her chin and looked him in the eye. "Try me." The challenge hung in the air between them.

He nearly did. His cheek brushed hers and the quiver jolted through them both, electric. "No." He stepped back.

There was no need for her to move, no need for her to push him any further. "You won't, sir."

"I could."

"But you won't." She knew him. She trusted him. And although he'd nearly given in to the violence that lurked inside him, he hadn't. Sam had tested his control with her actions, and he'd passed with flying colours.

The result was worth it. Even if there was a hollow ache between her thighs now and would be for a long time.

She touched his cheek, brushing the backs of her fingers along his skin.

Dark eyes ignited with flame. "Carter..." He turned his head and brushed his mouth against her hand. "You should go."

Sam nodded and stepped away, buttoning up her shirt and running her hands through her hair. She'd pushed his limits enough this time. No need to go further - not yet.

But at the open door, she paused, and looked back. Face to face, no hiding, no fear - only her belief and trust in him. And her determination that she wouldn't give up on him - or Daniel or Teal'c. "You should fight. Sir."

He looked down. "Maybe."

But when she turned to leave, he moved so fast, she barely saw him coming.

Fingers clung to her shoulders, pulling her close. His mouth came down on hers, neither tender nor cruel, but fierce and firm. And in his kiss, she tasted sunshine and fresh water, clean air and stringent pine, fresh-clipped grass and burning wood, and no bitterness at all.

The ache in her belly grew piercing, and she gasped when they broke away.

A promise - or a threat? Sam dragged up a tremulous smile and caught the brief flash of the old Jack O'Neill grin. "Go," he said. And this was an encouragement, not a plea.

His fingers traced down her nape and shoulder as she walked away from him, and she could feel his eyes on her as she made for the car.

She would make the guys face their trust issues: with women, with her. Not all in the same way at the same time, perhaps, but she would do it. She owed them that.

And when it was done, she would pay the piper. Whatever the price.

- fin -

FINAL NOTES: The request was for:
1) a cliche turned upside-down, (it looks like a cliche for a moment, then surprises you),
2) a reason or a precipitating stressor that causes breaking the regs (they don't have to have regs-breaking sex - it could be an episode tag for Within The Serpent's Grasp or Sam might violate orders in a future-fic), and
3) S/J touching, could be sexual or not. Porn is fine. No sex is fine, too

Just as a personal note: if you ever ask someone to write something for you as a gift or as a ficathon, or if someone ever ascribes you as the inspiration for a story, thank them for it. There is nothing more heartrending to an author than to put time and effort into a story, artwork or design at someone's request and receive absolutely no thanks, recognition or appreciation for it. Even if you don't like it, find something nice to say about it, because it may not be to your taste, but they put effort into something for you. At the least, that deserves thanks.