Title: Learning to Live With It Part 16

Author: Su Freund

E-mail: su freundficwithfins com (insert . instead of spaces in the address)

Website: www ficwithfins com (insert . instead of spaces in the address)

Category: Angst, Drama, Action/Adventure, Romance

Content Level: Age 13+ There is an Adult Only version of this story on my site at the address above

Content Warnings: Minor use of mild language and sexual situations

Pairings: Jack & Sam

Season: Future

Spoilers: General S9 spoilers

Summary: Despite being wholly unprepared for the consequences, after a restless and tormented night, Jack is driven to see Sam

Sequel/Series Info: Sequel to Learning to Live With It Part 15

Status: Completed Series

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Copyright © 2006 Su Freund

Art Credit: The wonderful photo manipulation of Jack and Sam that is used to illustrate this part on my site was created by Jodie Marie and thanks to her for giving me permission to use it, many moons ago. This seemed a suitable fic to use it for. The manipulation was made into a book cover by Fulinn28 and thanks to her for making such a wonderful job of it. You can see it on my site at the address above

Author's Note: 1. Many thanks to Bonnie who has beta read all the parts of this story and, like the reader, has waited a long time for its conclusion. Her insightful suggestions and comments have helped me to make this a better story and how can I not be grateful for that? Of course, any remaining mistakes are entirely my own.

2. Thanks also to all of you who have faithfully followed this story and encouraged me with kind words of feedback, as well as helpfully making suggestions of your own. This final part of the story is dedicated to all of you. I hope I have provided the explanations and resolution you have sought.

3. The story is also dedicated to grooni, particularly the adult version, for various reasons including the Richard Dean Anderson Simpson's episode and her apparently insatiable need for long, hot sex scenes!


Of course Jack couldn't stop thinking, over and over, thoughts jumbled and dark, and he threw himself onto his bed in frustration, sitting curled up and hugging his knees in contemplation. However much he tried, he couldn't get her out of his mind. He could smell her, feel her: lips on his, hands on his body, driving him wild with desire.

She was touching him just there, kissing him right here, licking him somewhere else. She was on top of him, riding him, beating him, forcing him to surrender. The bed was soaked with his sweat and he got up to pace. It seemed he couldn't sufficiently wear himself out. What did a man need to do, for crying out loud? How much of this could he take?

Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he remembered her hotel name, her room number, and so nearly got dressed to drive over there, beat down her door and take her; make her his. He wanted, he so wanted… but in the end, he denied himself. He denied his love and his lust; he denied everything, eventually getting back into bed and falling into a tormented and fitful sleep.

Learning to Live With It Part 16

Jack had given a lot of thought to what Sam had said. He'd tossed and turned, hardly sleeping, unable to stop her words from whirling around in his head. Now he sat drinking coffee and thinking about it all over again.

If all that Sam had said was true, maybe there could be a future for them after all. She might have hurt him in the past but he did not believe that she was lying to him now. What possible reasons could she have for doing that? Could he allow himself to surrender to her, to deny his pain and the bitterness he still felt about their parting?

He was weakened by her onslaught and wasn't sure he cared for a weak Jack O'Neill. Then he questioned whether it was weak to feel all those conflicting emotions about a woman he loved. By denying her he was denying himself and that was probably stupid, making him an uncompromising and obstinate fool. He had tried so hard not to give her an inch and had ended up by giving her a mile.

Now he didn't know whether to regret it or live with it and move on; move on by accepting her into his heart, even if only a little, until he was ready to open up some more. A little? Jack knew he was probably kidding himself. After the previous night, if he once let himself go, he wasn't sure he was capable of merely a little. He would be lost forever; he would give her everything.

Questioning whether that was a bad thing when Sam said she loved him, Jack knew what he must do. He had to see her. He couldn't let her go, not again, not without... something more. He'd spent months despairing over her, trying to shut his feelings away, and now he was letting an opportunity slip by, and one that he had yearned for deep down, but never thought he would have. So dumb!

Without any thought of calling her, what he would say or do, or how far he was really prepared to go, he drove to her hotel hoping she would be there. Now he'd made up his mind he had to see her, she had to be there. He strode though the lobby, calling the elevator to take him to her floor. By the time he reached her room his heart was beating rapidly and he was losing his courage to act.

'God, Jack, do something good for yourself, for once. Give yourself a break,' he told himself, taking a few deep breaths before he knocked.

"Hello? Who's there?" her voice called from within and Jack muttered something incomprehensible in response. She was there! His heart didn't know whether to soar with joy or wither in fear.

"Jack?" she opened the door an expression of shock on her face.

Sam had to believe that his arrival was a good thing, that it meant he had changed his mind: no more thinking, no more talking. She stood looking at him in stunned silence for a while and then gestured him in.

"I-I didn't expect… you," she stammered. 'Please be a good thing, please,' she was saying to herself.

"I had to come, Sam. I couldn't simply let you go."

She realised that he was still wary, despite that he'd surrendered so much by coming to her. He made no move to touch her, and she restrained the feelings that prompted her to want to touch him.

"I'm glad. I don't want you to let go, Jack, not ever."

Jack looked pale and gaunt, obviously having suffered a sleepless night, just as Sam had. She longed for him to pull her into a hug and thought he would until he moved further into the room, avoiding her eyes.

"Can I sit?" he asked, eyeing the cosy looking armchair.

"Sure. Do you want me to order coffee or something? Have you eaten? Do you want breakfast?"

"Coffee would be good."

She ordered, perching on the edge of the bed and waiting for him to speak, figuring that after last night maybe it was his turn.

"I thought a lot about what you said. Actually I guess I was awake for pretty much the whole night."

"Me too," she agreed.

"Last night I wanted to hit you, shake you, hurt you, force myself on you. I didn't like that person very much Sam. I think I might have been slightly crazy for a while there." Sam snorted a slightly bitter laugh in response and, from her next words, Jack realised that she was laughing at herself, not him.

"I was so desperate to make you feel, want, accept… I probably would have done, accepted, almost anything. Sounds kind of stupid because I'm not… but maybe I would have deserved… something, for hurting you so badly."

He regarded her with shock and surprise, trying to fathom what lay in her eyes and expression.

"No! You don't deserve… that. I never want to hurt you, that's why I had to send you away."

"I know."

"You know?"

"You think I don't know how dangerous you could be?"

"Probably better than anyone else. That kind of puzzles me."

"It does? You think that isn't part of what I love about you?"

Once again he was taken by surprise. Rising from his chair he walked over to her hotel window, staring out into the street. Sam rose from the bed and joined him, grasping him around the waist from behind and sliding her hands over his chest, burying her head into his back. He turned in her arms and her fingers slid up to his face, which she took in her hands, pulling his lips towards hers for a kiss.

Her fingers coaxed his mouth open and she inserted her tongue. Jack's resulting groan inside her mouth made her shiver and her kiss was filled with such burning passion that it made him dizzy with desire, just as her kiss had the previous night.

One of her hands left his face to roam down his back and Jack shuddered in response. It had been a long time since anyone had touched him like that, as if they cared, as if they wanted to make love to him.

"Sam, what are you doing?" he asked when they prized themselves apart.

"I want us to make love Jack. We never have and it's time we did."

"Oh, god! No, Sam! I…" he pulled away from her, unable to make that leap yet.

"You came here for a reason, didn't you…? "

"I came here because I couldn't stop myself. I didn't know what else to do. I don't know what I'm doing here. I don't know what I want."

Sam's heart sunk, but she tried to hide her disappointment. "You said you'd thought about what I said to you," she said as evenly as possible, her heart beating rapidly, her mind in turmoil, and uncertain what to say or how to act.

"As if I could avoid it."

"So you came to a conclusion? That's why you're here, isn't it? I thought… I guess I should have realised it would never be that easy." Jack's initial response was a snorted, bitter laugh.

"I'm finding it hard to let you in, Sam, that isn't easy, but I know it isn't easy letting you go either. I can't. So I guess I'm out of options."

"You never did like being out of those, did you?"

The knock on the door interrupted them and Sam cursed quietly; room service with the coffee. The pair drank in silence, Jack sitting in the chair again and trying to avoid her eyes, although she caught him looking at her more than once. The fact that Jack had come to her hotel told her a lot, but he was obviously still confused, and ill prepared. Jon had told her to keep pushing, so she did.

"All I'm asking is a chance to prove myself to you," she said eventually.

"I know. I'm here aren't I? What does that tell you?"

"That I made some progress. I'm much further forward than I was yesterday."

"Is that all?"

"I don't know, Jack. I'm scared to analyse it too much."

"So am I."

"Jack O'Neill was never scared of anything."

"Bullshit!" He met her eyes at last, boring into her as if he might read her mind. Sam was disconcerted but refused to pull her eyes away from that dark intensity. "A lot of things scare me. This scares me, for crying out loud!" Sam exhaled a laugh, trying to goad him into opening up to her.

"Little old Sam Carter scares the big bad wolf?"

"Very funny, Sam. You shouldn't mock the afflicted."

"Dammit, Jack, talk to me. Tell me what you're thinking."

Jack sighed, scrubbing his hands through his hair and got up to pace. Sam watched, irritated by his continued avoidance.

"If you can't let me go and you're out of options, what are you going to do about it? Pace around my hotel room for the rest of the day?" She got up and grabbed him, forcing him to face her, and he stilled, but continued to avoid her gaze again.

"If you aren't ready, if you never will be, then tell me now," she pleaded, "Please don't play with me."

"Play with you?"

"If this is all intended as some sort of revenge…"

"No, Sam, not that. Don't think… I'm just… confused, shaken up. There's a lot to take in and think about."

"And you accuse me of over thinking things."

"I'm not…" he started and then chuckled, "Yeah, right."

Then he met her eyes and she saw something in them that lifted her heart: yearning, love, a willingness to submit, if only a little.

Tentatively he reached to smooth her cheek, and she pulled him into her arms. He had to admit that it felt great, although part of him said he had been defeated and that little corner of him was still pissed off, while the rest of him was exhilarated by her. The pissed off part nagged at him and he tried to ignore it. Time to act with his gut, not his brain.

Nonetheless, Jack just couldn't bring himself to surrender totally, so he surrendered only to the longing and lust, not to his heart and soul. Mindful of what she had said about making love he started to strip her, frantic to be sated. If she was surprised by his sudden turn around she didn't show it, but became a more than willing participant in their fumbling desperation.

Jack made short work of discarding her clothing, followed by his own, and he barely even glanced at her nakedness before coaxing her onto the bed. It was as if he were loosing his pent up frustration and rage and, just as she had been the night before, Sam was willing to let him do that if it would lead to something more between them; something she longed for more than anything. In fact, her actions were as desperate as his.

There wasn't much foreplay leading up to their brief, clumsy and frantically aggressive act of lovemaking. In fact, you would be hard pushed to call it love making – more like pure sex - and they were scarcely cognisant of what they were doing, nevertheless their immediate physical needs were fulfilled although the needs of their hearts and minds remained frustrated and unsatisfied.

Jack rolled away from her with almost unseemly haste, staring at a non-existent spot on the ceiling and considering their sexual act. It was nothing like he'd wanted their first time to be, lacking the emotion of tenderness and love that he longed for. He'd been out in the cold for too long and it seemed he was still there. Their union had been soulless and hollow, fuelled by wanton lust, not love.

Sam was silent, also pondering what had just happened between them and disappointed there had been nothing more. She didn't want it to be like that. If it was, they would fail again and that was unacceptable.

"Sorry," Jack said in a voice so low she nearly missed it.


"Th-that wasn't… it wasn't… crap!"

She turned onto her side to face him but he didn't look at her, eyes still fixed to the ceiling.

"Wasn't what either of us really wanted? Is that what you are trying to say?"

"I don't know what you wanted, Sam."

"You had the power to make it whatever you wanted. It didn't need to just be about sex; you chose to make it that way. I hope it made you feel better, Jack. Maybe now we can get on with the rest of our lives."

"Yeah, it made me feel better. Much better." His voice held a slightly bitter and sarcastic tone. He felt guilty about his slightly savage molestation and was on the defensive. "You didn't seem to mind it. In fact you enjoyed it."

Sam could have reacted in a number of ways to his gruff roughness, but she chose to be patient, tentatively placing her hand on his chest, and caressing his skin with her thumb.

"I-if we want… more than this, you have to stop fighting it Jack. You have to let go of the past and surrender."

"I don't know if I can do that."

"Do you want to try?"

He chewed his bottom lip as if dubious about how to answer and, turning his head to look at her, placed a hand over hers.

"Yes," he whispered, a simple response but it spoke volumes.

Sam moved closer, bending to kiss him gently on the chest, moving her hand to his face and tracing round his high cheek bones, eyebrows and nose with her fingertip. The gesture held such tenderness that it made his heart skip wildly.

Her lips pressed gently to his, fingers moving down his neck and shoulder, along his arm and stopping to stroke the back of his hand, which she took between her thumb and forefinger, lifting it to her lips and kissing it in a number of places before she rested it on her neck. All the while she kept his eyes captured in her gaze and what he saw in them, and felt in her touch, was something he imagined was called love.

He mentally questioned whether he could trust that emotion; trust his own eyes, his own feelings and what he felt from Sam. She was right; if they wanted a relationship, wanted to make something work between them, he had to let go and open himself to that possibility. He had to stop being afraid. Before their sexual union he'd told her he was out of options but realised that, until this moment, there had still been options; now there were none.

He couldn't run away from this anymore, couldn't hide from it or fight it. Jack wasn't sure he wanted to do any of those things anymore. He wanted Sam - her love, her body, her soul - and he wanted to give her his.

"I surrender," he whispered, moving even closer to her and pulling her into a tender embrace. The hard, rough sexual act had helped to drive away his long held and bitter resentment towards her. He knew himself well enough to realise that, had this happened between them the previous night, his abuse of her would have been way worse. There may not have been any way for them to come back from that, but now there was.

Sam curled a leg over his and they held each other in silence for a while until Jack kissed her, and the kiss was powerful, but affectionate, all the brutality gone. It told her he spoke the truth about surrendering. Holding him close, simply wanting to be there with him in her arms, and her in his, meant so much more than their earlier sexual union and she knew that the next time would be entirely different. Jack would give himself to her, and it would be like what she wanted and dreamed.

"Did you get into very much trouble when you came back here?" she asked, wishing to inject some familiarity into this moment. Sam realised that they were both emotionally drained and work seemed to be a relatively safe topic. Her fingers softly caressed his arm while she waited for a response.

"Nothing I couldn't handle. I'm still here aren't I?" he said, immediately realising that it was an insufficient explanation. Sam would press so he might as well tell her. "I got a lot of crap and there seemed to be as many different views about what they should do with me as there were people involved. Some were for me, some against me. Some of those who were against me wanted to take a tough line." When he paused momentarily, Sam pressed, just as he thought she would.

"So what happened?"

"Believe it or not, my lucky, charmed Irish butt was probably saved by the President. He weighed in on my side. Some folks around here seem to think that I'm still key personnel, for now, and he's one of them, bless him. No accounting for taste, I guess. Must need a brain transplant or something," he joked and Sam chuckled, thinking the comment was so typically self-effacing. Despite support from the highest possible level, Jack still didn't believe he was irreplaceable.

"I think the President's intervention probably ruffled a few military feathers," he continued, "but I'm safe for the moment. I'm guessing that some people are watching close and hoping I'll make another slip. Let 'em. I can only do what I can do, and as well as I possibly can. It feels good to have the President's confidence. He seems to believe that the person in my job needs to think outside the box so I'm it. That, along with my experience, makes me the only one fit to do the job, apparently. I kinda like that." He grinned shyly.

"That's great, Jack. I wanted to call but… I lost the nerve, I suppose. The only way I could talk to you was by making it face to face. We knew that you hadn't been retired or relieved of your command, of course, or not yet, and we wondered what had happened. I'm so relieved everything's all right."

"If you count a security breach at Area 51, and all the implications of queen snakes, and Ba'al and his shadowy little network right here on Earth as okay, sure, everything's fine."

"Maybe that wasn't such a great subject for me to pick."

Jack noticed her troubled expression and kissed her hair, trying to reassure her. "It's alright, Sam."

"It was a stupid thing to ask right now. I know how the whole Ba'al thing must make you feel."

"One of these days we'll grab his pretentious, snaky butt. I just hope it's one day soon. Man, would I like to kick that glorified ass of his all around the SGC."

"Down every corridor and up and down every stair?" she said trying to lighten the tone on an issue she really regretted bringing up in the first place. How could she have been so stupid? Obligingly, Jack chuckled.

"I like the visual," he said, grinning. "I so hate that guy."

"You have good reason to."

"Yes, I do. At least we got Connelly and the rest and shut down that nauseating operation. We're still working on trying to find out more about Ba'al's network."

"We'll get there Jack."

"We always do, eventually. So, for the longer term I'm confident."

"Me too."

"As am I," Jack joked in a low-pitched voice, a reasonable impersonation of Teal'c, and Sam giggled. Trust Jack to make a joke out of the whole mess of a situation. It was so like him. He used humor to cover so many things, particularly when they troubled him deeply.

She smiled, pecking his cheek and stroking his neck, and then giving him a gentle squeeze. Once more they remained silent for a long while, simply holding each other. Jack had to admit to himself that she made him feel way better, about everything. He just hoped that they could make this thing work, but if they didn't it wouldn't be for want of trying.

"I hope you can learn to trust me again," Sam said, breaking their silence.

Trust? At this moment it almost seemed irrelevant to Jack because he knew he was helplessly bound to her forever. Nevertheless, he hoped he could too because he wanted this to work and without trust it never would. Sam had said that if she'd broken him she wanted to fix him and it suddenly seemed to Jack that she had that power; together they had that power. He would be alright, they would be alright, and everything would work itself out.

"Give me time and I will, Sam."

"Time for me to prove that I'm trustworthy? I'm lucky that you trust me enough to get this far. I know how you feel about betrayal."

"Betrayal? I think I've got a fair idea of what you were going through before Sam. Not sure I fully understand it, but I kinda get the point. I guess you had good reasons. And you're right; I never would have listened even if you'd been able to explain it. It hurt too much and I'm way too pig-headed for my own good. But it was never really a question of betrayal was it?"

"I hope you mean that."

"Why would I say it if I didn't? The fact that I'm here proves it, doesn't it?"

"Jack I know we can't build something good on bad foundations and I don't want to end up hurting you again."

"Maybe the foundations aren't so bad. All those years we worked together count for something, right? We couldn't just wipe out everything we built up for so long within the space of a few weeks. What happened recently proved that. I mean the friendship, trust, respect and admiration, Sam, not anything to do with being your CO, and you being my Second in Command. There's been more to us than just that for years. What happened before, that was just bad timing. I think maybe we're both more ready for it now. This is something good, or it's something good for me."

"It's something good for me too," Sam replied, kissing his hair and smoothing his face with her fingers, "Even when I walked away I was breaking my own heart. The last few months… I dated a few times because I was asked and flattered that I was, but I was never that enthusiastic about it. You were always there, in my heart, and I couldn't break away, couldn't let go, however much I tried."

"Didn't stop you from screwing Ed James, did it?" Jack said in a flash of anger.

"My god Jack, you really are angry with me about him, aren't you?"

He let out a huge sigh and looked into her eyes, his emotions still seesawing in a way that he had hoped he'd got under control. This situation wasn't straightforward and Jack wasn't a man who surrendered easily. It went against his nature, for better or worse.

"I guess so. We never even got to first base, for crying out loud, and we barely even touched that."

"If you stay angry then this is never going to work."

"Jeez, you really are the grown up, aren't you?"

"Jack, you mean much more to me than a million Eds. I-I guess I was hurting too and needed something in my life. I longed to be wanted and sexy and attractive, and yearned for the contact, comfort, and warmth. But in the end it was sex and that's all, and we were dating for Christ's sake. I don't make a habit of leaping into bed with the nearest man, and you know it. I never loved him but, at the time, I needed him… or someone."

Jack remained silent, cursing inwardly at his ridiculous outburst. He knew he was being childish. When he failed to respond, Sam gently stroked his arm and was relieved that he didn't flinch away. Instead, Jack covered her hand with his and squeezed.

"I'm sorry," he said, "What you did after we split up isn't any of my business, Sam, I know that. It's illogical but nothing about my feelings is logical. I guess it will take a while."

"I suppose it will." She snorted a small laugh and added, "If only you knew how much I longed for it to be you. It was always you Jack, or for a long, long time it was you. When I was with Pete, when I was with Ed, I still loved you."

"With Pete?"

"I believed I was in love with him because he loved me and I wanted to believe it. But then it got close to the wedding and-and I knew it was wrong. It was part of why I broke it off, although that wasn't all of it."

"Poor bastard. And yet despite that we never worked out."

"That was my failure."

"No, our failure."

"Oh, Jack, I so don't want us to fail again."

"Me either."

"Ironic, isn't it?" Sam said, kissing Jack softly on the cheek, "I owe Ed and Connelly a debt of gratitude. I don't know if I would ever have plucked up the courage to try making amends if it hadn't been for needing your help. I thought about it, often, but imagined exactly what your reaction would be, and I was right. I wasn't sure I would have the nerve to keep at it, to break you down for long enough to listen to me, and hear what I was saying, and understand.

"But then you treated me like a friend and were there for me like you'd always promised, and that gave me hope," she smiled, "And Jon and I talked about it a little. He's so like you in many ways, unlike you too, but he gave me some insight and encouragement. I realised that I could break through to you if only I could find the right words, the right way to show you how I really felt. That gave me my chance and I was damned if I was going to miss it."

"There's something a little disturbing about the idea of you and Jon talking about me. That whole Jon thing was a little weird, wasn't it? It's pretty strange to face a younger version of yourself."

"It was weird for me too, but imagine what it was like for him. I wish there was something we could do for him."

"Maybe there is. I'll think about it," he said pondering that for a while and then returning to their original subject while he smoothed her skin almost absentmindedly. "Look, I'm still not sure I fully understand what you've told me, Sam, but I'm trying, and I'm listening. If you didn't care about me you would never have shown up at my place last night. That took a lot of guts when you must have known how I'd react. But after what you said I'd have to be a fool to let this chance pass me by.

"I might be a stubborn, dumb assed Irishman but I'm not a fool. I so nearly was, but lying awake at night sometimes lets you put things into perspective and, after about the 100th time of having thought it, I finally admitted to myself how stupid I was being. Even when I came here I didn't really know what I was doing, just that I would be an idiot not to. Now? I want to try to make this work, I really do. And this time I don't mind admitting that I'm scared. It scares the hell out of me."

Surprised but elated by his willingness to be more open with her, Sam smiled, tenderly stroking his arm with her fingertips, and kissing the tip of his nose.

"I'm scared too. I don't want to screw this up again. My success rate with relationships isn't that great."

"Then maybe we need to promise each other we'll work at it, at getting it right."

"I don't know about you, Jack, but I get the feeling that we're starting to get it right already."

"Me too."

"I'm so happy that you want to take the chance. I know it's a risk, but all relationships have some risks."

"Risk? In one way or another I've been a risk taker for most of my life and then I find myself unable to risk my heart? What kind of life is that? It isn't one. This flash of O'Neill brilliance struck me at somewhere around 5 am, but even then I was unwilling to give myself to that feeling without reservations. But I don't want to end up a bitter, lonely old man. I still want a shot at life. And I'm not the only one taking a chance here. If you have that courage then so do I."

He softly caressed her back, a small grin on his face, and Sam kissed his forehead, and then his lips. She merely touched her lips to his at first and then pecked gently round his mouth while her thumb stroked his cheek. As the kiss developed, their tongues clashed in a magical dance, and suddenly Jack's mouth wasn't the only part of him that was responding. Sam's hand slowly wandered down his chest to his groin and, as the kiss stopped, he looked into her eyes.

"You want more sex?" he asked breathily.

"Not just sex, Jack."

A brief nod signalled his acquiescence and this time their lovemaking lived up to the word. Jack was just the opposite of what he had been like earlier: gentle, loving, and considerate. Sam responded in kind, encouraged by his actions.

He knelt up on the bed, urging her to do the same, and they faced each other, eyeball to eyeball. Jack wanted to focus on Sam, slowly exploring and getting to know her. When before he had merely glimpsed, this time Jack took long moments to gaze at her nakedness, the hunger and delight in that look making Sam shiver with anticipation.

"Like what you see?" she asked.

"Damned right!" he said with a smirk, lifting his fingers to her face, brushing her hair off her forehead, and smoothing them over her features. Bending forward, he kissed her, gently exploring the recess of her mouth and, pulling back, slid his hand along her jaw and neck down to her shoulder, and onwards to her chest and breasts. This was as far from frantic fumbling as he could get and his feather like touch made Sam tremble.

Reaching up to his head, she ran her fingers through his short grey hair, willing to let him discover each contour of her body as unhurriedly and tenderly as he desired. While he caressed her, Jack held her eyes captured in his own, hypnotic and seductive. Sam felt she could fall right into those mesmerising dark globes, unable, and unwilling, to break the spell that held her captive.

Jack cupped a breast, squeezing gently, and his other hand wandered over her midriff and belly, marvelling at the smooth softness of her skin. Then he moved closer, still kneeling upright, and delicately kissed and nipped at her face, neck and shoulders, while his dexterous fingers roamed gradually over her back, along her spine, down to her buttocks and along her outer thighs.

"You're dazzling, Sam," he whispered in her ear, "Totally beautiful. Going too slow?" he asked.

"No, Jack. It feels wonderful. Makes me feel special."

"You are special."

After their slow and tender lovemaking, Jack wondered if it really was the best sex he'd ever had, or whether his love for Sam was what made it seem so perfect. It didn't really matter, because the outcome was the same. Sam pulled him to her, kissing his brow, face and hair, and then wrapping her arms around him happily and stroking his back with tender adoration and, as he lay beside her, he took her into his arms to return that warmth of affection.

Neither of them commented on the ferocity of emotion borne from their lovemaking, or the physical peace and wonder that their bodies shared as a result of it. They both knew that it had been wonderful for each of them and didn't need words to confirm it.

"God, I'm whipped!" he declared, tenderly stroking her skin with his fingertips.

"Me too. Want to go to sleep?"

"Here with you?"

"Why not? Can't think of a better place to sleep than in your arms. No more talking, not for now, let's just catch up on all that sleep that neither of us have been getting lately."

"I like that plan."

They held each other lovingly and, before long, their breathing slowed and their minds and bodies relaxed together.

"I love you, Jack O'Neill, never forget that," she whispered before finally allowing herself to slumber and, although Jack said nothing, he gave her a gentle squeeze, so she knew he had heard.

Love? Although it seemed she knew how he felt about her, he wasn't prepared to speak those words yet, but he was pretty sure that one day he would be; one day, and maybe soon.

The End