Title: All Paths Lead to Rome

Author: Dragonland

Email: PG-13

Summary: I wrote this story when I was angry with the Stargate SG-1 for not giving me a love scene with Sam/Jack. Hello, I've been waiting for oh, only 8 seasons! So I decided to punish Sam and Jack for my lack of lovin'.

Classifications: none

Spoilers: Anything Season 8

Archive: SJD, yes. SJFIC, yes. And anywhere I post my stories. You know where you are.

Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me and either does the show, which is okay because I couldn't afford it anyway. But I get to play with them for free.

Warning: Character death, but it's not the fantastic 4 (Daniel, Teal'c, Sam, Jack).

All Paths Lead to Rome

The sun peered through the curtains in Sam's bedroom. She rubbed her eyes and smiled at the warm body lying next to her. He smiled serenely at her. It was nice waking up next to someone. Especially someone she loved.

"Good morning," he said.

"Morning to you too," she replied.

He sighed pleasantly. "I'm so glad I woke up next to you this morning. I'm so glad that you're name isn't Helga."

"Helga? What does that have to do with anything?" she said laughing.

"Well, someone as beautiful as you should have a beautiful name. I couldn't imagine calling you anything other than my Sam.

"I love you Pete," she said kissing him softly. "What would I do without you?"

"Well, you wouldn't be 'doing' much," he joked.

She scoffed and hit his bare chest playfully. "Come on. Join me in the shower?"

"Sure."

Half-way across town, a woman's arm lay sprawled across Jack's bare chest. Red curls sprinkled the pillow and his shoulders. He awoke first, watching the beauty that slept beside him. For the first time in months, he felt content. He turned to face her and brushed her hair out of her face. He placed a soft kiss on her pouted lips.

"Morning, beautiful," he said gruffly.

She rolled over and moaned quietly.

"Come on, it's time to get up Sleeping Beauty," he said patting her shoulder.

"Jack," she yawned, "Do we have to get up?" she complained slightly.

"You're beginning to sound like me," he joked.

"Guess you're rubbing off on me more than you planned to."

Grinning, he leaned over to kiss her. "You're fantastic, you know that right?"

"I can't get enough of you saying it though," she said returning the kiss.

He leaned over to pull her on top of him. She moaned as his hands ran down her exposed skin. Jack was a quick study learning what kept her happy. He felt it his duty to keep the woman that he was with happy. 'Love?' he asked himself. Yes, he could love her. She filled a void in his life that demanded to be filled. A void without her, his life would have ended.

(Optional nc-17 scene)

(Flashback, insert cool music here)

"Colonel Carter," General O'Neill said sternly. He slipped into General mode to keep his emotions in check.

Sam sat in her lab chair in perfect posture 180 degrees away from him. Her demeanor was clouded with anger, but that hadn't changed since two months earlier.

"General, with all due respect, I am very busy right now. Come back later," she said fiddling with the spherical object.

"Turn around, look me straight in the eye and tell me you don't care about me more than you're supposed to," he said steadily.

Fire shot out of her sapphire blue eyes. "Tread lightly, Sir," she said coldly, refusing to turn around.

"That's an order Colonel," he snapped.

She swiveled around smartly in the chair and stood up. She walked up inches away from his face, her cold eyes burning into his. "A former friend of mine once told me that his career was more important than any romantic relationship, especially one not sanctioned by the USAF. I would be insubordinate to think otherwise," she responded coldly.

The bad-ass General mask that was protecting him was slowly beginning to crumble. Realizing that he wouldn't be able to keep his composure for much longer, he cleared his throat. "Understood, Colonel."

She stood there staring intently into his eyes for a few seconds. When she was satisfied with the vague look of disappointment on his face, she turned around and went back to her foreign toy.

"One more thing, Colonel."

She didn't turn around.

"Please don't let our personal troubles get in the way of the work that needs to be done here."

"I never do," she said bitterly.

He turned and left the room without a sound.

(Reality)

Sam turned the radio to hear the morning news. The weather report said that it would be sunny and unbearably hot. Looking in her rear-view mirror, she saw the easily distinguishable truck of General Jack O'Neill. She groaned loudly. They'd walk in together. He would attempt to make small talk, or even worse, crack a stupid joke. Neither thing she was in the mood for. She adjusted the diamond ring on her finger and pulled into the parking lot. She shut off her engine and made her way to the elevator. The General somehow beat her there and held the door for her. She glanced over at him. He had a healthy limp and a huge grin radiated over his face. Sam knew that grin. It was the unmistakable grin of a man who had mind-blowing sex the previous night. She chucked to herself indignantly.

"Thank you for holding the door Sir," she said automatically, not allowing her manners to evade her.

"Good morning. It sure is a good morning," he replied brightly.

She stood in silence. She stopped trying to have conversations with him because they usually led to screaming matches which didn't solve anything.

"You're not going to ask why I'm in a good mood?" he prodded playfully.

"Your limp tells novels," she replied shortly.

His mood was starting to wear thin. Luckily for them both the elevator dinged and they both walked silently to the co-ed dressing rooms. "It's a beautiful ring," the voice said behind her.

"Thank you Sir," she said politely, obviously forced.

"Are you ever going to talk to me normally again? I mean for cryin' out loud! What is your problem?"

"My problem? My PROBLEM? Jack! You are my problem. Please excuse me, Sir," she spat, walking out of the room.

"Colonel!" he bellowed.

Her heart immediately stopped. The surrounding personnel froze and watched the General in silent fear.

"My office. Now," he growled in a deathly whisper.

"Yes Sir," she said meekly.

Her outburst was way out of line. It was evident, but she couldn't let him move on like nothing had happened. She blinked back the hot tears that had formed. The personnel silently resumed their work. She walked blindly to the commissary to get a cup of strong coffee before she entered the lion's den. When she arrived at his office, she knocked tentatively.

"Enter," he grunted.

She entered quiet as a mouse. She stood at attention, preparing herself for the reprimand that she knew she deserved. His head was bent down reviewing a report. He took his time putting the paperwork back in file. When he looked up, she was taken aback by his brown eyes, tired and worn. This struck her off-guard and left her feeling vulnerable. He noticed the change in her demeanor and switched into General mode.

"Colonel Carter. You will never speak to me in such an unprofessional, disrespectful manner again. Is that clear?"

"Yes," she said quickly. Then she cleared her throat. "Yes Sir!" she said in a stronger voice.

"The talk we had before obviously didn't work. This "funk" is messing with the atmosphere here and I won't have it. 1400, my home. Don't be late."

She merely nodded and waited to be dismissed.

"Sam," he said hesitantly.

She stood still as a statue looking past him. It was very hard for her to keep her emotions in check. It took all of her strength to keep silent.

"You're dismissed," he said exasperated.

She turned and held her head high until she reached her lab. She shut the door behind her to signify to everyone that she wanted to be left alone. Sitting at her desk, she put her head in her arms and began to sob. Everything that she'd kept controlled so well before was falling apart. Her life was falling to pieces. Her father had just passed away. Her professional and private relationship was beyond mend. Life seemed to be swirling around her and she couldn't do a thing about it. A knock on her door shook her from her sobs and made her realize where she was.

"Sam?" a voice asked.

"Pete?" she asked, wiping away a tear. "What are you doing here? How did you get here?" she asked.

Try as she may to gain her composure, he could see the pain etched on her face.

"Baby, what's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing. I'm alright," she said, lying as she put on her fake smile.

"Obviously something is wrong, otherwise you wouldn't be crying," he said in a soothing manner.

She collapsed silently in sobs into his open arms. Neither of them said anything while she clung to him. He ran his thumbs across her cheek to brush away the tears. His mind was racing. "Why is she crying? And better yet, who would want to make her cry?" he thought angrily.

"How about some of that blue Jell-o you're always talking about?" he asked trying to clear the air.

"It must be lunch time," she said absently.

He kissed her softly. "Yep, and I'm starving."

"Are we going to leave the base?"

"We can, if you want. I only have an hour."

"Shit," she whispered, obviously disappointed.

"Hey," he said, turning her face to his, "I'd take you to the moon and back. Just to see you smile," he replied gently.

Jack glanced into her office to see the couple holding each other intimately. He smiled a bitter smile and continued down the hall. He'd called him earlier to get permission to come on base. Of course he approved Pete to come on base. It could've proven to Sam that he was capable of being humane.

"Sam, let's go," Pete said.

"I have a better idea," she said shutting the door.

(OPTIONAL NC-17 SCENE)

Jack continued down the hall with a stony expression. He uttered a strain of profanities under his breath. He remembered only a few months ago when she would come to him if she was sad or just in need of comfort. He knew that it was because he was her superior officer, but he had hoped that it was something more. But now she had found comfort somewhere else. He had nothing to offer her that she couldn't find elsewhere.

"Where you going, Jack?" asked the woman behind him.

"Kerry," he smiled. "Want to grab a bite to eat?"

"I'd love to," she said smiling.

(Pete and Sam)

They both slowly slipped back into reality. Their fifty nine minutes of heaven was over and life had stepped in the way. It was time to get back to work.

She laid her head on his bare chest, pleasantly exhausted. "That was great," she whispered.

"I'll say," he murmured. "I'd better go, love," he whispered as he nibbled on her ear.

She nodded and kissed his neck. He stood up and began to gather the discarded clothing. He ran his fingers through his sweat slicked hair. It spiked up in all directions, a sure sign of their activity. Sam giggled and smoothed it back down.

"See you tonight, Sam." He put his hand under her chin and bent down to kiss her.

"Bye," she said dreamily as she watched him leave her lab.

As he left, she remembered the appointment that General O'Neill had made with her. It sort of left her feeling empty. She wasn't really looking forward to a night of relived pain and hurt. She heard a loud knock that woke her from her musings.

"Yes, come in," she said.

The General stood in the doorway looking at her accusingly.

"Sir?" she asked.

"I don't think that this evening is going to be good enough. We need to do this now," he said.

"Please. I'm in a good mood," she said shuffling some papers, trying to avoid his persistent gaze.

"Well, I was in a good mood this morning," he growled. He shut the door behind him and locked it. "Tell me why you've been so upset recently."

She scoffed, looking at him in disbelief. "Are you serious, Sir?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

She took a deep breath and sighed.

"This is about the night two months ago," he said sighing.

She chuckled resentfully.

"I don't see anything funny about this," he retorted.

"It's nothing, Sir. You got what you wanted from me. I'm just disappointed that I allowed myself to get attached to someone who didn't feel the same way. Actually, I'm extremely embarrassed that I allowed myself to get attached to a superior officer."

"That's not true. You know that I care deeply about you."

"Well obviously not enough, Sir," she said, enunciating the Sir.

The remark stung deep. He knew she was right. He was a stupid selfish bastard. But this could not be helped. It's who he was.

"Fair enough. I can't change the rules, even for the two of us. We're Air Force even though we work in the SGC. We don't deserve special treatment."

"Are you asking me to leave?"

"What?" he exclaimed

"The program. I will if that's what you want, Sir," she challenged.

"No that's not what I want!" he said, his temperature rising.

"You're going to have to tell me then, because obviously I can't read you."

"I want to work with you without you being so distant. I can't change the past. The 'Carter' I work with has disappeared. Can't we move on?"

"Allowing 'Carter' the so-called honor of falling in love with you ruined her working relationship. She'd never think that he would just use her and expect her life to continue as if nothing ever happened. I'm not going to just 'move on.' I hate what you did to me, Sir," she said struggling to choke back a sob.

"I'm sorry it had to happen that way. We didn't have a choice," he said softly.

"Bullshit we did!" she yelled. "At least now I know that you don't care about me. I'll never let you cloud my judgment again. You got what you wanted. I hope it was good."

"You know that wasn't how it happened. We would have lost everything," he shot back angrily.

"You were more important to me than a job, Jack."

"Were?"

"Yes."

He stood in silence with his head down, sighing softly.

(Flashback, insert cool music here)

The wind was blowing furiously. It was late when she arrived home. Miraculously, she arrived home at a reasonable hour. She came in and made herself a cup of peppermint tea. Several hours later she awoke to severe knocking at her door. She mumbled and pulled a robe on. Turning on the porch light, she saw the familiar silhouette of her commanding officer.

"Sir?" she asked.

She watched him shift uncomfortably. The rims of his eyes were red with unshed tears. Seeing her confused sleep-deprived face, he turned to leave. He must have been drinking.

"Sir, wait. Please come in and have a cup of coffee," she offered.

He nodded and followed her inside. Sam rattled around in the kitchen and finally came into the dimly lit living room. He had his head in his hands, attempting to hold back his tears. Sam sat next to him on the couch and pulled him into a warm embrace. He held to her waist tightly and sobbed.

"It's… it's…" he stuttered through the tears.

She stroked his head and tried to console him. "You don't need to say anything. I'm here. I'll always be here."

His rigid body began to relax. Sam continued to cradle his head against her chest. Their position soon became uncomfortable. When she shifted her body, he grabbed her for dear life. She was shocked that he was so attached to her, but brushed it off.

"I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I just need to adjust a bit," she said smiling.

He loosened his grip around her waist as she repositioned herself. He settled down in the comfort of her soft arms. He sighed contently. Adjusting slightly, Sam attempted to break the silence.

"Sir, umm… is there anything I can do for you?" She could immediately feel his body tense up. "What I meant is, do you want to stay with me tonight?"

He merely nodded and snuggled up close to her. His behavior was extremely out of character, even for being intoxicated. But she could feel the sadness radiating out of him and decided to continue comforting him.

"We'd be more comfortable in my bed- Uh, if you're okay with that," she offered.

"Okay," he croaked.

He stood up and pulled her into a hug. "Thank you, Sam," he whispered.

"Anytime."

She guided him through the dark hallway and opened the door. A desk light was the only thing that illuminated the room. She took off her robe and turned off the light. She suddenly felt uncomfortable and awkward. Was she really going to climb into bed and sleep with General O'Neill? But when she heard him call her name, all uncertainty melted away. She climbed in next to him and held him in her arms the rest of the night.

The next morning, she noticed that she was alone. He heard him haphazardly try to leave and she watched him with a crooked smile.

"Sir?"

"Carter. Well, I… I need to get back to the base. SG-3 is due back in four hours and I need to be back to debrief," he said avoiding her eyes.

She nodded and climbed out of bed. "Do you want to try again with the coffee?"

"I'd better not. I'll come by and see your progress on your recent gizmo that's kept you occupied for so long."

"I've only had it for a week," she said in playful defense.

"Bye, Sam," he said walking away.

(Reality)

"I'm going to marry Pete. I love him. He makes me happy," she said.

"Just don't settle."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"You deserve more than what he can give, that's for sure."

"Don't flatter yourself."

"I wasn't talking about myse-," he said cutting himself off.

"What do you expect me to think? I've found someone who wants me, and not just for a one night stand."

The knife twisted in his heart. "What about SG-1?"

"What about it?"

"Never mind. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

"So you think I'll be worthless to the program as soon as I start having children? Lose control of all brain function because of the 'hormones'?" she said raising her voice.

"Once you have children, your priorities are elsewhere."

"You were able to do it just fine," she said sarcastically.

"That was over the line, Colonel," he growled.

"I've given up everything for the military! I lost my father. I can't have a normal relationship to save my life. And now, I've found someone who wants me because I'm me. Not Lieutenant Colonel, Not Doctor Carter, but Samantha. Someone with normal desires and dreams. I'm human and I need to be loved, just like everyone else does.

"I'm sorry Sam. How many times do I have to say it?"

"Until you mean it."

(Flashback, insert cool music here)

It was weeks before he went back to her house. Something about the environment of her house and being alone with her drew him there. It was late again. He hoped that she wouldn't turn him away. He'd been crying that night. Memories of Charlie flooded his mind like a cruel dream. The alcohol wasn't doing much to stabilize his emotional state either. He knocked solidly on her door. He heard scuffling and saw the light turn on. He hung his head, waiting for her to open the door.

"Sir?" she asked, sounding irritated.

'Damn,' he thought to himself. He knew he should've just stayed home. 'The whiskey would have made me pass out eventually.' He turned to leave and she called out to him.

"Sir, come in," she sighed. "Would you care for a glass of milk? I'd offer coffee, but it took too long last time."

Her comment made him smile. "I'd love a glass of milk."

It was like déjà vu. The house was dimly lit. He made himself comfortable on the couch waiting for her. He tipped his head back and closed his eyes.

In the kitchen, Sam pulled two glasses from the drying rack and poured the milk. 'What is he doing here?' she wondered. 'Maybe this time we'll have an actual conversation," she hoped. She glanced into her cupboard and found some cookies. She placed them on a plate and put them into the microwave to soften them. The cookie aroma filled the house. She brought the cookies balanced on the two glasses of cold milk.

"Hungry?" she asked.

"Thanks," he said.

They sat in silence while they ate their cookies. As they finished, Sam stood up and took the dishes to the kitchen.

"Carter," he began.

"I'll be right back. I just want to put these dishes away."

He nodded and watched her walk into the kitchen. He knew he owed her an explanation. Hell, he didn't really have much of one. He knew that he would have to come up with something. She walked into the room with her signature smile. He patted the seat next to him, motioning to her to sit down. She was learning the drill and sat down beside him.

"Sam, I can't really explain what I'm doing here. All I do know is that I'd rather be here with you than anywhere else in this world."

"Does it have to be so late at night? We do actually have day jobs," she joked.

He laughed roughly and then quickly sobered up. "I'm sorry. It seems I need you the most at night."

He tried to gauge her emotions. Determining that it was safe, he intertwined his fingers with hers.

"With all due respect, Sir," she started.

"Jack."

"I can't call you that."

"Why not?"

"I'm not comfortable with that. I could slip up at the most inappropriate time."

"Call me whatever you want."

She smiled gently and nodded. "You're always welcome here. I want you to know that."

"What would I do without you?"

"I'm sure if not me, you would have someone else."

"I'm glad it's not 'someone else'," he said putting his head on her shoulder.

(Reality)

"General. You know how important this program is to me. I've dedicated everything I have into it and I don't regret it. What I'm trying to say is," she paused and waited for him to plea. It never came. "Sir, I really need to go."

"Meet me tonight," he said.

"No, Sir."

"To prove once and for all what that night was. Think of it as an experiment."

"With all due respect, Sir, I don't owe you anything in that regard. I will honor the relationship I have with Pete."

"Then one night together won't ruin a relationship that is bound towards marriage."

"Sex, isn't just about sex. No, Jack."

"I need to know."

"You've had enough successful attempts at breaking my heart. I'm not willing to let you do it again."

"Please, Sam."

"I don't know why I bother talking to you. It's like talking to a brick wall."

"Then you'll meet me?"

"No! I knew that I'd never get through to you."

She looked at her watch and sighed. They'd been talking for over an hour. "May I go?"

"This conversation went nowhere," he grumbled.

"No, it didn't go in the direction you wanted it to. If you're not comfortable with me here, I am willing to take a transfer."

"No. I'll figure something out. Well, I'll see you around then?"

"For now, Sir."

"Okay," he sighed. Dismissed."

"Bye, Sir."

When Sam arrived home, she was overwhelmed with the scent of a home-cooked meal. The aroma immediately calmed down her tense body and enveloped her in a wonderful sense of security.

"Pete," she called.

"I'm in the kitchen, I'll be right out," he replied.

Stepping out of the kitchen, she saw him wearing a checkered red and white apron. "Hiya, Honey! How was your day?"

"Better now that I'm with you," she said with a fake smile.

"Am I going to have to have a talk with the boss about harassing my girl?" he joked.

"No!" she yelped.

"Sam?" he asked seriously.

"No, sorry. I just have a lot on my mind. I didn't mean to snap at you."

"What's bothering you?" he said cupping her cheek and kissed her softly.

"This is exactly what I needed after today," she said totally disregarding his question. "The food smells wonderful."

"Well, I hope so. I haven't been slaving over a hot stove all evening for nothing."

They both ate their meal and had a mindless conversation. As their meal ended, Pete jumped up to grab dessert.

"Blue Jell-o! I love Jell-o," she exclaimed.

"And whatever makes Samantha happy, makes me happy," he replied with a smile.

"You're too good to me," she said leaning over to kiss him.

"I'm just treading lightly so you won't kick me to the curb," he joked.

"I wouldn't do that. I care about you."

"Of course, honey. But sometimes I wonder what higher being would ever convince you to be with me."

"Oh, Pete," she said grinning, "Although I love to hear you talk, I can find another use for that tongue," she replied.

She put her hand behind his neck and pulled his head toward her with such force that he fell on top of her and pushed the two of them to the ground. She groaned softly as she hit the ground.

"You okay?" he asked, obviously worried.

"Less talk, more action," she said as she pulled his head closer to her mouth. She ran her fingers through his short brown hair, too distracted to continue what she had started.

"Oh… Sam," he said, tipping his head back.

She stroked his cheek and stared into his eyes intensely.

"Sam?" he said, realizing that they weren't fooling around anymore.

When she reached up to start again he stopped her.

"We obviously need to talk."

'What in the hell does he want to talk about?' she thought to herself. She scrunched up her face playfully and looked at him with question. He began to stand up and she groaned involuntarily. He stretched out his hand and helped her up.

"What about?" she asked sweetly, almost too sweetly.

"Let's go to the couch," he replied.

"Okay," she agreed.

"I don't mean to prod, but I know something is bothering you," he began gently.

"Well, I've been really busy at work. You know how that goes," she said smiling weakly.

"Anything you want to go into detail about?"

"You know I can't," she said.

"It's classified," they both said together.

"I'm sorry. You know the rules," she said.

"It's Jack, isn't it?"

"What?" she snapped.

"I knew it. What did he do to upset you so much?"

"Pete, I don't really want to talk about him," her voice warned.

"Babe, I can't just stand by and watch him keep hurting you," he said through clenched teeth.

"Well, it won't be for long. I plan on resigning in a month or two anyway."

"What?" he said obviously surprised. "Why would you do that?"

"We're getting married. I need some sort of normal routine. I can't raise a family and work at the SGC."

"I never knew that you wanted to have children," he smiled.

"Yes, well…" she began, blushing. "Why wouldn't I?"

Pete smiled broadly. "You'd want to have babies with me? Are you sure you'll have enough time while you're still raising me?"

She brushed a soft kiss across his lips. "I'm willing to give it a try. Do you want to start a family?"

"Yes! Of course. You may not know this, but I've always thought pregnant ladies were hot."

"I don't know about that. Isn't that kinda weird?"

" Maybe. I want to keep you happy. You mean everything to me, Sam."

"Kiss me now."

Just as he leaned over to kiss her, her SGC cell phone rang. Groaning, she read the number that flashed. She put on a professional demeanor and answered it.

"Hello, this is Colonel Carter speaking."

The caller informed her that there was a technical malfunction and she needed to be there ASAP. As she hung up, she looked at Pete longingly.

"I have to go," she said.

"'Kay. Want to try this again tomorrow?"

"That would be great. I love you Pete."

"Love ya."

She grabbed her keys and drove slowly to the SGC. She was glad to avoid the conversation about Jack and what he had done to make her so upset. It wasn't like she was going to tell him that anyway. She just wanted to forget about it and move on with her life. The life that didn't include Jack O'Neill.

Pulling into the parking lot, Jack's truck was parked in the same place when he arrived earlier that morning. She probably wouldn't be able to avoid him, but she was mentally prepared now. Spending time with Pete had reassured her that the decisions she was making were right. As she walked down the hall, she met up with Daniel to get a recap of the situation.

"Daniel, what's going on?"

"What? I thought you left hours ago. Why are you here?"

"The gate?" she asked.

"I… as far as I know, the gate is fine. SG-6 just came through an hour ago."

"Well, someone just called me twenty minutes ago. It better not be under of the direction of who I think it is," she said through clenched teeth.

"Sam, you and Jack need to figure this 'thing' that is happening between you. It's affecting more than the two of you."

"Jack and I don't have anything to figure out," she said flippantly.

Daniel gave her a sideways glance. She never called Jack by his name. 'Her attitude is a bit dangerous,' he thought to himself.

"Sam, what happened with you two?"

"He didn't want a relationship. Just sex." she said bluntly.

"Oh, Sam," his voice apologized.

"No," her voice was firm. "I'm fine with it now. It's taken a while for him to realize what he has lost. Now he's trying to make up for it. I will not go back to him Daniel. I deserve better than that."

"I always thought you two had a special connection. Soul mates, even. In all of the different realities that we've experienced, you're together. That's got to account for something."

She scoffed bitterly. "If he's my soul mate, I think I'd rather stay single until I die."

"He was, IS your friend. We all are. We worry about you."

"I'm fine. Really. I'm just moving on to a more important part of my life. Not to say that my life's work up to this point hasn't been important. Daniel, have you ever wanted to raise a family?"

"Well, yes. I did at one time. If I found someone who I loved and trusted enough."

"I think I've found that in Pete. We've even started talking about raising a family," she said smiling.

"Sam, wow. That's wonderful," he said giving her a fake smile.

"Yeah. Well, I'd better go and take care of that problem. It won't fix itself."

"Okay. If you're still here, will you meet me for a cup of coffee tomorrow morning around seven in the mess?"

"Sure. I'll see you then."

She walked to the control room to find her assistants and Walter avidly working in the Gate room.

"What's the situation?" she asked.

"The dialing computer locked us out after SG-6 came back through. We've ran some diagnostic tests, if you'd like to see the results."

"Thanks, I would."

She looked over the sheet and immediately found the problem. It wasn't surprising why they couldn't find the problem. There was a reason they called in the genius. She called Walter over and gave her assessment. He saw the glitch as she pointed out, and immediately gathered people to assist her. On the walk to her lab, she bumped into the General. He offered her a tired smile.

"So did you find the glitch?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir. I'm on my way to my lab to get some tools."

"I don't know what we'd do without you. We should get Thor to clone your brain. Thank you for coming back in."

She nodded her head and continued to her office.

"Colonel, if you're still here, would you meet me for coffee this morning?" he asked casually.

"I've already promised Daniel that I'd meet him at tomorrow morning."

"Oh. Well, you wouldn't mind if I stopped by to chat?"

She hesitated, and then gave a weak smile. "No, Sir."

"Then I'll see you then."

"Okay, Sir."

She immediately put the thought of coffee with Daniel and the General out of her head and went back to the Stargate. Hours passed her by. When she decided to take a look at her watch it was 0245. The technicians were just finishing up. Wiping off her hands off, she headed over to the shower area. She fell into bed exhausted. She felt that she needed a few hours of sleep before her coffee date. Her alarm woke her 20 minutes before 0700.

The General watched Sam walk into the commissary. Daniel and Jack were already there with coffee in hand. She still had the look of sleep on her face. He smiled in spite of himself. She looked beautiful. He felt a pang of jealousy that Pete would get to see her like that every morning.

She saw both Daniel and Jack sitting together. She still felt tired, but she gave them both a smile.

"Morning, Daniel, Sir."

"Get much sleep last night?" Daniel asked.

"A few hours," she said suppressing a yawn.

"Well, you should get some rest today Carter," the General said.

"You know as well as I do that there isn't enough time for that," she paused, "Sir."

"After your coffee, I want you to take the rest of the week off," he said.

"Sir," she protested.

"Carter," his voice whined, "Do I have to make it an order? Take the weekend off."

"No, Sir. Thank you."

"I remember how hectic it is planning a wedding. So much detail involved. Enjoy your time off," he said as he began to stand up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, the mountain paperwork is calling to me."

"You didn't even finish your coffee Jack," Daniel protested.

"Thanks, I almost forgot," he said reaching for the cup. He smiled at the both of them. "I'll see you around, Daniel. And you on Monday morning, Colonel."

"Thank you again, Sir."

He turned around and headed back to his office.

"Sam, what are you going to do during your time off?"

"My forced time off?" she said sarcastically, "Sleep! But really, Pete is staying until tomorrow. Then, I'll be at a loss of what to do."

"You could always catch up on reports," he suggested.

"I'll consider it," she sarcastically responded.

"Talk to you later, Sam."

She stood up and gathered her files to leave. As she left the commissary, she saw General O'Neill charging toward her. His expression was grim. Her stomach did flip flops as she tried to remain cool.

"Colonel, my office, now," he ordered

Her semi-happy mood was quickly diminishing. "What is the problem?" she asked.

"I'd prefer not to say it right now. We need privacy," he said quickly.

He led her to his office and shut the door behind him. "There is no easy way to say this, Sam. It's Pete. Earlier this morning he was called for backup to a scene. It was a set-up. He didn't make it."

She stared into his eyes and began laughing. "Is this your idea of a joke?" she asked. "Is this your idea of a fucking joke?" she yelled.

"What? No, Sam. I would never-"

"Okay, Jack. The joke is over. It wasn't funny the first time," she growled.

His face clouded with anger and hurt. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. "Samantha!" he shouted. "Pete is dead! This isn't a joke."

"No!" she screamed. "He can't be dead! I don't believe it."

Her arms tensed up and she began punching at his chest. "He can't be! I was with him last night! I love him!"

Her body sagged as she collapsed on his chest, sobbing. He pulled her into a tight hug trying his best to comfort her.

"I'm so sorry, Sam," he whispered into her hair.

His renewed dedication made her cry even harder. He tried to continue comforting her by stroking her soft hair in a soothing motion.

"Let me take you home," he said.

She nodded slightly, to weak to protest. He wanted to take her in his arms and carry her away to safety where she wouldn't have to feel such pain. But the drive home would have to be enough.

He made a few quick arrangements so that he could leave for a few hours. Holding her gently, he led her to the elevator. She walked in a dazed manner. In forty minutes, she was parked outside her home. He shut off the truck and unbuckled her seatbelt.

"You're home," he said.

Sam merely nodded her head, but didn't respond. He stepped out of the truck and opened her door. Hazily, she walked up to the front door and fumbled with the keys.

"Here, let me help you with that," he offered.

When he let her in, she wandered to her bedroom and plopped down on the bed. Jack went down to his knees to untie her boots. Both of them came off with a dull thump. When he stood back up, he evaluated her frail and emotionally battered body. It hurt him to see her this way, knowing that at one time, he had made her feel that way once before.

"Sam, I've gotta get back. Either Daniel or I will stop by to check up on you tomorrow. Call me if you need anything," he said as he turned to walk out.

"Jack?" she asked.

He turned to look at her.

"He's really dead, isn't he?"

His grim features silently assured her. "Yes. I'll call you tomorrow."

He walked out of the house quickly and quietly. His emotions were all over the place. So he decided to call Daniel and give him a heads up on the situation.

"Daniel, this is Jack. I'm on my way back to the SGC."

"Yeah, I just heard that you just left with Sam," he replied.

"I took her home. Someone from Colorado Springs PD called and said that Pete was killed."

"That's terrible. Well, how is she doing?" Daniel asked.

"Well, she almost killed the messenger. She needs time to digest. She's just lost her father and now her fiancé."

"That's devastating enough for a normal person to deal with."

"She's strong, Daniel. She'll pull through."

"Who's going to take care of her unfinished assignments?"

"I believe this is a perfect opportunity to introduce Hailey into the program."

"Just sort of 'throw her in and hope for the best' theory, Jack?"

"She's smart. She'll adapt and learn quickly."

"So who's going to check up on her tomorrow?"

"I told her either you or myself would."

"Okay, good. Now you have a perfect opportunity to fix what you screwed up."

"I've already tried to fix it. She loves Pete, and now he's dead. How can I compete with that?"

"Have you told her that you love her recently?"

"No."

"Well, no wonder she's pissed."

"Even if I did tell her, it's not like I could act on it anyway."

"Well, leaving her after admitting that you loved her doesn't really help your case."

"What? I didn't tell you that."

'Whoops,' he thought to himself. 'Didn't mean for that to slip out.'

"Anyway, she feels used. She loves you Jack. I can see it in her eyes."

"She needs a friend. That's what I can offer now," he replied. "I have to go. I'm at the first security checkpoint."

"Bye, Jack."

Jack wondered how he was going to get back to work without the thoughts of Sam's heartbreak haunting him.

(Flashback, insert cool music here)

Sam sighed contently. It made her heart soar that the man she adored for so long was here with her now. His fingers twined with hers and his head on her chest. She looked down at his well-defined face that had been etched through his life. She took her hand and gently outlined the contours of his face. His heart stopped dead in his chest.

"Do you realize how handsome you are Jack O'Neill?" she asked softly.

He held his breath. Her eyes were filled with tenderness and love. He took one of his large calloused hands and caressed her neck. She shuddered slightly under his touch. She closed her eyes, afraid if she opened them that he would disappear.

"Jack," she whispered.

"Yes?" he groaned.

"Kiss me. I need to know this is real."

"Sam…"

"Please, Jack," she protested softly. "I need you just as much as you need me."

"If I start, I don't know if I'll be able to stop," he warned.

"Wouldn't that be the point?" she said with a sly grin. "Please don't make me beg, because I will if I have to."

He moved his hands under her chin. Lowering his head painfully towards hers, she closed her eyes in earnest. The touch of his lips on hers took her breath away. She quickly regained control of her body and put her hands around his neck to draw his warm mouth closer to hers. Before he let her come up for air, he placed a soft sweet kiss on her swollen lips. Her stomach tingled with excitement.

"It was better than anything I could have imagined," she sighed breathlessly.

He grinned and kissed her forehead.

"Thank you," she murmured.

"Whatever for?" he said kissing and nipping at her neck, making her moan softly.

"Jack, don't stop. Please," she choked out.

(Partial NC-17 scene)

"Oh, General!" she moaned.

He thrust deeper. The way he angled his hips to penetrate was doing wonders to her thought process.

"Jack," she moaned as he pumped faster.

His tense body shook as her hard release pushed him into his own. She was first to awake from her post orgasmic haze. She brushed her fingers through her hair. His eyes continued to stay closed and his breathing erratic. As she leaned over and kissed his cheek, his eyes fluttered open. When they adjusted, he saw the blonde beauty lying beside him. He smiled. A real Jack O'Neill smile.

"Oh Jack," she sighed. "I love you so much."

His body became immediately tense. He pulled out of her and she moaned softly at the loss. He stood up and walked around the room gathering his discarded clothing.

"Jack."

He seemed too distracted to comprehend her voice.

"Jack!" she said a bit louder.

He didn't respond. His body and emotions were shutting down. He couldn't even stand to look at her.

"God, what have I done?" he said under his breath.

He walked blindly to the door.

"Jack. Jack. Don't leave. Please," she said.

He looked back at her. She was trembling, on the verge of tears. It was too much for him to bear.

"I have to go," he said in a monotone voice.

"Why?" she managed to choke out.

"Sam. Carter," he said clearing his throat. "We shouldn't have done this. I've made a horrible mistake. I have to leave."

He pulled his pants back on and carried the rest of his clothing. A few minutes later, he heard the squeal of tires roaring down the street. She was in shock. He'd left. The man she loved so much, who'd just made such sweet love to her, left. Her body shook and her stomach clenched. She felt like she had been brutally beaten. The bliss and fulfillment that she had felt only moments ago were smashed. She felt nothing less than a prostitute. She sat silently in the middle of the bed, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

(Reality)

Jack worked hard all day. There wasn't much to do, other than the mound of paperwork he was so fond of doing. He couldn't stop thinking about Sam.

"Jack?" a male voice asked, awaking him from his daydream.

"Come in. What's up?"

"I called Sam."

Jack's eyebrows rose. "How is she?"

"Miserable. She needs you there. She'd never admit it, but she needs to be comforted."

"You're much better at that stuff than I am. Why don't you go and see her?"

"This is a perfect opportunity to show her that you value her and her friendship."

"I'd have to admit, it's been hard to work today with her not here."

A knock on his door cut their conversation short.

"Enter," he said.

"Hello, General. I was wondering if I could interest you in some lunch."

He smiled warmly. "Yeah, yeah. That'd be great. Kerry, have you met Daniel?"

"The famous Doctor Jackson? I've heard and read great things about you. It's nice to meet you."

"I wouldn't believe everything that you hear," he smiled. "It's nice to meet you too. Oh, Jack. Don't forget to check up on her."

Jack gave him the death glare. With that, Daniel left his office. Jack stood up and pulled Kerry close to his chest and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

"That was a little out of character, Jack," she grinned. "I missed you last night," she said reciprocating the kiss.

"The feeling is mutual. I'll be home tonight if you'd like to come over."

"Let's go and get some food. I haven't had a good meal for a while."

"Sorry to disappoint you, but you won't get a good one here."

Her comment brought a smile to his face. Before letting her go, he hugged her tightly.

"What was that for?" she asked.

"I'm just really glad to have you, Kerry, that's all," he replied.

"Me too. Now, let's go get something to eat," she said rubbing his stomach.

'Jack's with Kerry?' Daniel thought. She was beautiful, smart, witty and lucky for him, not in his same chain of command. If Sam would've married Pete, he wouldn't mind seeing them together. But now things were different. Sam needed him. Daniel understood the reason the two of them weren't together for the past eight years. They both had great respect and honor towards the Air Force. Times were changing. The fates were finally giving them a chance to be together.

"How about some pie?" Kerry suggested.

"I like your thinking. Dessert first," Jack said.

"Now, you need to eat something of nutritional value."

"Going to order me around? he joked.

"Someone's got to do it. How about a slice of pizza?"

"Where is the nutritional value in that?"

"Lucky for you, I'm pretty relaxed on what 'healthy' is."

"True. I'll take one slice," he told the server.

"I'll take one also. We also would like some pumpkin pie."

"Yes, of course," the server replied.

"I haven't seen Sam around. Is she okay?" she asked.

"Actually she isn't. This morning she found out that Pete was murdered. I took her home this morning."

"That's terrible. And just after losing her father."

"Yeah… But she's tough. She can handle it. I've ordered her off the base for the weekend."

"What about yourself?

He looked puzzled. "What about me?"

"Are you taking some leave also?"

"No."

"Jack, she needs you."

"Wha-?"

"You are one of her best friends. Not to mention her commanding officer whose responsibility is to take care of those under him."

"I'm planning on visiting her tomorrow. I want to spend time with you."

"I want to also, but my world isn't falling apart around me. If you won't do it because you care about her, do it because you know that you should."

"I will, I promise. I think she's had enough of me for a while. I'm the one that had to break the news to her."

"Better from you than someone who didn't care about her."

"I guess. She almost beat me to a pulp afterwards. I am now quite familiar with the phrase, 'Don't kill the messenger!'"

"Though I understand her anger and frustration, I wouldn't want to bruise an inch of your body," she said patting his hand.

"Kiss it better tonight?" he asked with puppy-dog eyes.

"Oh, Jack. Yes, I'll see you tonight."

A grin washed over his face. "Sweet! I'll look forward to it."

"I'd better go. My lunch hour is about up."

"I enjoyed myself today."

"Even more tonight?" she asked in a low and seductive voice.

He felt a stirring in his groin. "Yes," he groaned quietly.

"Later then?" she asked brightly.

"Yes, later."

His day made a 180. He had a jump in his step and something to look forward to. Around 1400, he was out of the mountain. He picked up his phone to make a call to ask Kerry what she wanted for dinner. But before he could call, his cell phone rang. 'Who's calling me?' he thought to himself. He looked at the caller id and recognized the phone number.

"Sam, are you alright?" he asked, his voice a little panicky.

"Yes," the voice whispered hoarsely.

"What can I do for you?"

The phone was quiet on the other line.

"Sam?"

"What? Oh. I need my car. I have errands I need to run."

"You're supposed to be resting. I'm nearby. Can I pick you something up?"

"No, thank you," she said and hung up.

"Sam? Sam!"

He couldn't believe it. 'Fine,' he said to himself. Quickly realizing that he was pouting, he stopped and drove directly to her house. Before he went in, he gave Kerry a call.

"Hey, it's me. Something is up with Sam. I'll be there in a while. Do you want me to pick something up on my way home?" he said.

"Hi… Umm, yeah. Whatever is okay. Actually, why don't I order something so you'll be here quicker?"

"You're reason enough. Steak anything would be awesome. Thanks for stickin' around."

"See you tonight."

"Bye."

He opened the door to his truck and walked up to her house. He knocked his signature knock and waited. There was some quiet shuffling and the door opened.

"Sir, what are you doing here?" she asked groggily.

"You hung up on me. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

"Yes, I'm just tired. If you'll excuse me General," she said punctuating his rank, "I'd like to get some sleep before I have to call Pete's family and prepare for the funeral."

"Carter, I'm here. Please, if you need anything," his voice pleaded.

"I'm fine. Really," she smiled weakly. "You'll stop by tomorrow morning?" she asked hopefully.

"Yeah, if you want me to."

"Okay."

He drove home quickly, not wanting to miss a moment of time with Kerry. Leaving Sam's house left him feeling in a funk. He couldn't pinpoint it, but it felt weird. When he arrived, he walked in to find her curled in a ball on the couch napping. He watched her silently, a soft smile appearing on his lips. She was beautiful. He bent down to brush a stray hair out of his face. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled.

"Jack, you're home," she said sleepily.

"Getting a power nap before the big event?" he teased.

"I'm always ready for you," she replied in a sassy voice.

"What'd you order for dinner?" he asked casually as he took his coat off.

"Fried rice and chicken. Sorry, they didn't have any steak."

"Ah," he said, slightly disappointed. "It's alright. Chicken won't kill me."

"Well I would hope not. It's spicy though, so it should be good."

"Okay, let's dig in!"

"Jack…"

"Yeah?"

"What if, theoretically speaking of course, the woman you invited over for dinner didn't actually order out, but instead secretly hoped that this really hot General would whisk her off to his bedroom and make love to her until the wee hours of the morning?"

He paused for a moment and responded. "Well, that depends."

"On what?"

"On whether this General is me or some other guy you haven't told me about."

"You catch on quick, Jack."

He scooped her up in his arms and begun to carry her to his bedroom.

"Jack!" she squealed, "Your knees!"

He kissed her to stop the protests coming out of her mouth. Carrying her blindly to his bedroom, he tossed her onto his bed.

(Optional NC-17 scene here)

He awoke slowly with the sun in his eyes. Stretching his arms, he looked at the clock and yawned. 0600. When he looked beside him, he found the spot empty. He stretched again and went to the bathroom to find his robe.

"Kerry?" he said.

He looked out in the living room and everything she had brought the previous night was still there.

"Ke-rry?" he called out in a sing-song voice wandering through the house.

"I'm on the deck," a muffled voice replied.

He climbed the ladder to see her watching the last few minutes of the sunrise.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" he said wrapping his arms around her waist.

"Yes, it is," she replied.

"I'm so glad that it's the weekend. I get to spend it with you."

"What about Sam? You said that you'd see her today."

"Now why would I- Oh. That's right. What time did I say I'd be there?"

"I don't remember. Probably some time this morning."

He groaned and rubbed his temples. A whole day he could have spent with Kerry was sabotaged by Pete. 'That's two for you Pete,' he griped to himself.

"Come on, let's get you cleaned and presentable."

"Will you be here tonight?"

"No, I need a decent night sleep before I go and visit my sister in California."

"Oh! I forgot. How long are you going to be gone again?"

"Four days. You're becoming forgetful in your old age," she joked.

"Now why'd you bring that up?" he pouted.

"Oh Jack," she said patting his chest, "I'm just teasing. If it's any consolation, you look much more attractive now than when you had the brown hair. You've aged well."

"So I'm like good cheese. Aged to perfection. Never did like that sharp cheese."

She laughed out loud. "Yes, exactly like cheese. Now come on, we need to shower."

"You may have to wash in the places that I can't reach, seeing that I'm so old," he sarcastically replied.

"It would be my pleasure."

They took their time showering together realizing it would be a while before they could do it again.

"Jack?" she asked.

"Hmm?" he replied.

"I'm going to miss you while I'm gone. I wish that your position allowed you to have a little more vacation.

"You didn't seem to mind my position when you were screaming in my bed," he snapped.

"I'm sorry. I knew that this wasn't going to be easy. I just wanted to spend more time with you."

"No, I'm sorry I'm such an ass. I guess I'm not really excited to go and visit Sam."

"It's not about you, Jack. It will mean a lot to her."

"Alright, alright. When are you going to the airport?"

"10:00 am tomorrow morning. You plan on taking me?"

"Yeah, I'd love to. Just let me write it down so I won't forget."

"I hope you wouldn't forget about me."

"I don't think I would, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Especially knowing that my mind is slipping in my old age."

"You should bring something over to Sam's house."

"Like what?"

"I don't know what she likes. Maybe some comfort food or something like that."

"Isn't that kinda weird to just bring something over?"

"She's your friend. I know that I would appreciate it if someone did that for me."

A light bulb turned on in his head. "Ahh! I know what I'll get her!"

"Care to share?"

"Oh, you'll think it's stupid. But she loves blue Jell-o. And that's what she'll get."

"Well it won't be morning for long. We'd better get going."

"Okay. I'll see you in the morning then," he said bending down to give her a kiss.

Jack walked to the closet and pulled out his trusty leather jacket. He decided to stop by the local supermarket to pick up his necessary supplies to make his friend happy. He began by throwing random things in the cart. Whipped cream, mushrooms, strawberries, Alfredo sauce, blue Jell-o, pasta shells and a bouquet of Gerber Daises. All these things combined together would create the perfect lunch. Of course, he knew the way directly to this woman's heart. He then threw in a couple bags of dark Dove chocolate. As he drove up to her home, he was surprised to see Daniel and Sam sitting on her front steps having what seemed to be a cheerful discussion.

"Jack, hi," Daniel said.

"Mornin'," he replied.

"So, uhh… I've gotta go. But if you need anything, you know where to find me."

"Thanks, Daniel. I really do appreciate it," she said giving him a friendly kiss on the cheek.

"See you later Jack," he said.

"Later Daniel."

"What are you doing here Sir?"

"Just here to visit you."

"Come on in."

"Well, wait a minute. I've got some stuff in my truck I need to bring in."

"Setting up camp, Sir?"

"Not exactly. I'll be right back."

He organized the bags and brought them into her house.

"What have you got here?" she asked.

"I went out and bought some comfort food. I also got you these," he said handing her a bouquet of Gerber Daises. "I was thinking they could brighten up the table."

"Thank you, Sir. They're lovely."

"What've you have planned for today?"

"I don't know. I feel like I need to go out for a run."

"Sounds exciting."

"Well I haven't really planned anything out."

"Do you mind if I go out with you?"

"No Sir."

"Good. It will be good for me to stretch my legs."

"You're running in those clothes?"

"Oh. It should be okay. I always keep a change of clothes in my truck. Be prepared, I always say."

They walked in silence to the park nearby her house. Sam started the pace slow, to make sure that the General could keep up. He was hardly breaking a sweat. She then decided to pick up the pace. She ran hard to purge her reoccurring thoughts. Thoughts of the night Jack left her. Preparing herself for the wedding. She pushed harder. Thoughts of her handsome, witty fiancé. Him kissing away all of her pain and loneliness. She was now sprinting at full speed. She choked on her air and began to slow down. Clenching her hands to her stomach, she fell to the ground on her knees and cried loudly.

Jack was a few meters behind, watching her fall. His first instinct was to run as fast as he could and scoop her up into his arms. But under the circumstances, he decided against it. She was going through her emotional roller coaster again. He didn't have what she wanted. He jogged up behind her and waited silently for her to speak to him.

"You must think I'm nuts, don't you?" she asked sarcastically.

"No I don't, Sam. You're hurting and there is no one who can possibly know how you feel. I'm not here to offer you false condolences and to reassure that all is well when I know everything is falling apart around you. I'm not a genius, but I'm not stupid."

She looked up at him questioningly. "You're not going to sugar-coat the truth?"

"Would you expect me to? You know me better than I know myself Carter."

She stood up and dusted off her knees. "I'm done here. Let's go home."

"Alright."

They walked to her home in silence. She had nothing to say to him. Jack didn't want to say anything because he knew he was walking on proverbial eggshells.

"Carter?" he asked.

"Yes?"

"Why did you start out your run slower than you'd regularly run?"

"I wanted to make sure you could keep up."

"Is that it?"

"What else could it be, General?"

"Not again. Carter, would it kill you to call me Jack?"

"That would be unprofessional, Sir. The last time I was asked to drop the formality act, I was publicly reprimanded for my insolence. I only make a mistake once."

"Look, I'm sorry about that. Can we talk about this over a cup of coffee?"

"Coffee and vodka?"

"Well, usually coffee is used to rid yourself of a hangover, not enhance it."

"It's up to you. I'll make the coffee. Add whatever you want."

"Sam?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir?"

He cringed involuntarily. This was going to be harder than he thought. He had no idea what he was going to tell her. Carter was one of the strongest women he knew. 'What to do?' he thought to himself.

"Who's taking care of the arrangements?"

"Pete's brother left me a message this morning. The Denver PD wants to give him a service in Denver. I don't know what I want. His family is scattered around the United States. His friends at the department want him buried in Denver. They want to take a family vote on where to bury him. Half of them want him buried in Denver, while the other half want him buried in his hometown of Carson City Nevada. That's where his father was buried, or so his message said. I don't know why I'd have a say in all of this. Yes, I did love him. But I wasn't married to him. I don't know what to do."

"Does it matter where he's laid to rest to you?"

"Honestly? No. Wherever they put him, he'll still be dead. I hate this so much."

"Then what I'd do is ask the family to leave you out of it. Tell them how you feel and let them deal with the family issues."

"Easier said than done. Family politics and all of that."

"No. It is that easy. Tell them that you loved Pete and you don't feel comfortable being involved in the selection of where he is buried. You feel that it should be up to his family rather than his fiancé."

"His brother Rob wants him buried in Carson City. I don't know. If he was buried here, I don't know if I could handle visiting him."

"It was hard, the first few years when we lost Charlie. Sara would leave in the dead of night to the cemetery to be with him so he wouldn't be lonely. She never knew that I knew. I'd watch her drive there every night for the first six months. As time went on, she visited less and less. I hated it there. I didn't want to remember him in a place filled with other dead. It seemed so impersonal."

"I'm so overwhelmed."

"Understandably so. Why don't you go and bathe while I make us something to eat?"

"Is my body odor that offensive?"

"I find that the shower is a good place for reflection."

"I will. Thank you Sir. For more than you know."

"Anytime, I'm here for you."

"Thanks."

She went to the shower, ready for a half-hour of relaxing in the tub. Time was relative. She needed more time to digest the information she now had. Unfortunately, time was a luxury only given to the dead. 'What a harsh cliché,' she thought to herself bitterly. Instead of a comforting bath, she opted for the more practical shower. Though she was emotionally unstable right now, that didn't mean that she couldn't be a hospitable host.

Jack rattled around in her kitchen to find something edible to eat. Normally speaking, she wouldn't have any perishable items in her refrigerator. Since Pete had waltzed into her life, she seemed to go home more often after missions and eat at home with him. He found a couple of cans of tomato soup and put it in a pan to warm it up. He also found some bread and cheese to make sandwiches. 'Comfort food to lead up to the real meal," he thought to himself.

Sam finished up quicker than she intended. She dressed and watched from the hall Jack making the two of them lunch. He was whistling the tune of 'Lady' from Tom Jones. She didn't know how long she could stand there and watch him without being caught. With this in mind, she walked into the kitchen.

He stopped whistling immediately. She was looking radiant. Her skin glowed and her hair was out of control. Just lovely.

"Umm, lunch will be served in about 10 minutes. I didn't know if you liked tomato soup. But then why would you buy it? So I decided to make it."

"It's okay. I like it alright. I have to leave at three o'clock this afternoon and I won't be back until Monday morning."

"Where are you going?"

"I have a flight out to DC. I made the arrangements last night."

"Oh," he said in a disappointed voice.

"Yeah. I need to go. I-"

"Sam, this is not about anyone but yourself. No one else matters now but you and you doing what you need to do to help yourself."

"I really need to do this."

"I understand. Do you need a ride to the airport?"

"I was going to take a cab, but…"

"Say no more. I'll take you."

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it."

Lunch was served and they both sat at her table to eat. The bridges that were burned before were beginning to be rebuild. He knew that he had a long road ahead before they were anywhere close to the friendship that they had before. They ate at a languid pace, enjoying the flavors of the food.

"So are you all packed and ready to go?"

"I'm a light packer. I was ready last night."

"You were always prepared when we'd go off-world. When we went on our first mission I thought that we'd have to wait forever for you, when actually it was Kawalsky who took forever."

"I was eager to go. I felt that I'd waited for that moment forever."

"It was a ride, that's for sure."

"Agreed."

"When does your flight leave again?"

"3 o'clock. We'd better get going."

"You get ready and do what you need to do. I'll clean up in here."

"Just leave it. I'll take care of it on Monday."

"I can't leave this. It'll smell."

"I'll give you my house key and you can take care of it sometime this weekend."

"Okay."

They left their dishes on the table and went out the door. He dropped her off at the terminal and went back to her home. They didn't say much when he dropped her off. A quick good-bye was all she offered him. He was okay with that.

The thing that kind of set him off was leaving her house a mess. She never did that. She was meticulous to the point of being anal. Something was up, that was for sure. 'These dishes won't wash themselves,' he muttered to himself. He took the washcloth and began to wipe them down. When he had finished the dishes, he decided to hang out for a while. Normally he'd feel uncomfortable just staying at her house, especially alone. But being there now wasn't weird to him at all. It actually felt right. He took a blanket from the linen closet and fell asleep on her couch.

His phone rang loudly and woke him from his dreamless sleep. He squinted his eyes to read the caller ID. It was Kerry. He rubbed his eyes and answered it.

"Hello?" he said groggily.

"Jack? Where are you?" she asked.

"Uh, I'm over at… Where are you?" he said, trying to avoid the question.

"You said you'd take me to the airport."

"What time is it?"

"It's nine o'clock. I have a taxi waiting outside. I'll talk to you when I get back"

She hung up on him immediately.

"Kerry?" he said. "Kerry!"

'Damn it,' he thought to himself. 'What am I doing here? I blew off Kerry to spend the night here. She probably assumed that I slept with Sam.' He mentally kicked himself and dialed her number again. It went to answering machine the first two times he called. On the third attempt, she answered it. Her voice was full of annoyance.

"General, I'm late and don't have time to hash out our problems right now. We've only been at this a week. We shouldn't these have problems! I told you I'd call you back. Please don't call me."

"Kerry…just listen to me!" he pleaded.

"Goodbye Jack," she said and hung up.

He slammed his fists on the coffee table. His was in a funk. Kerry had given him something that he needed. It filled an emptiness inside that seemed could never be filled. But there was something missing with her. There was something that he couldn't trust himself to be truly authentic with her. And he wasn't. He knew that he couldn't have a lasting relationship with her. It was based on a lie. Of course the first few months of a relationship were fun. The sex was hot. And you hide all your personality flaws. If they were slipping out this early in their relationship, he knew it was doomed. He clenched his teeth and threw himself back against the couch.

Sam arrived in DC in a matter of hours. A car was waiting for her at the airport. She didn't want anything fancy or need it for that matter. She parked the car in one of the Pentagon's large parking garages. This was her old stomping grounds. A feeling of familiarity washed over her and calmed her nerves. She walked to the Washington Monument to sit in reflection. A school-aged class walked by as the tour guide rambled on about random facts on the surrounding landmarks. With all the noise, she wasn't able to have the reflection time that she was searching for. Driving back to the airport, she hopped onto a plane and began the flight home.

Kerry didn't call him back as soon as she landed. She was more disappointed that he didn't call her than angry. The structure of their relationship was delicate. She was well aware that he didn't love her. After the initial giddiness of the relationship had worn off, she noticed the change in him. He was never clingy, and for that she was grateful. She wasn't really into that aspect of a relationship. The sex with him was fantastic. He knew exactly how to make her squirm and scream. That was one of his more endearing qualities. But naturally sex with him wasn't enough, and it was only a matter of time before they both realized it. She took out her cell phone out of her purse and called his number.

"Kerry?" he asked hopefully.

"Jack. I really hate to do this," she said hesitantly.

"Do what?" he said, playing dumb.

"Jack. You know what I'm talking about. You and I, we aren't working."

"What exactly isn't working for you?" he asked.

"I think you know."

"I don't. Care to enlighten?"

"You don't love me. I can't be in a one-sided relationship. You're a great guy. But I'm not the woman for you. I wish that it wasn't the case, but I would be lying to myself if I let myself believe otherwise."

"So, it's over?"

She exhaled slowly. "You could say that. It was fun. Really. I just…I really need to go. We won't let this get in the way of our working relationship, right? You know how much I love the SGC."

"I do. Don't worry about it. Just one thing. I didn't sleep with Carter. I can't have you thinking that's how things went down."

"I know. You have too much respect for her. It would've made this whole situation a whole lot easier. But life isn't easy. It's what makes it interesting. Goodbye."

"Bye, Kerry."

He slowly closed his cell phone and sighed. There was no point of putting up a fight. What she had said rung true. He wasn't in love with her, but it was fun while it lasted. There were a lot of choices to be made now. He knew that he only had a few more hours before time would run out.

Sam's flight arrived around 7:30 PM. She took the car and drove to a local supermarket to buy flowers. There was a small selection of the same flowers but of different colors. Looking around a little bit deeper, she found a miniature rose plant. The bloom color was a vibrant yellow, as bright as the earth's sun. She smiled and took it to the check out to purchase it. Yellow was the color of happy memories.

The sun was about to set when she arrived to the cemetery. It was empty, just the way she wanted. She needed to have a conversation with her father without the disruption of anyone else. She found his plot relatively easy and knelt down next to the headstone. She brushed the dirt off the marble and placed the flowers delicately in the vase.

"I guess I'd better start this conversation. How are you dad?"

She sat in silence for a few minutes and continued.

"I'm in a bit of a paradox. I just lost Pete. I know that you didn't like him as much as your other selection, but I loved him. I've been thinking about him a lot recently. Everything was going so fast and I couldn't…"

She paused to take a breath, and listened to the silence. She continued and slowed down.

"It was like I was running in circles and getting nowhere. But didn't you tell me that's what love was like? Before that was Jack! Damn him! If you even knew. Of course you know now. Dad, he broke my heart. Everyone says he's the one. Every alternate reality we're together. Are they right? Should I just accept the fact he screwed up and take him anyway, flaws and all? I knew that I loved him before. But then I found Pete and he took all my pain and loneliness away. I could've had a tangible future with him. But the more I think about it, I begin to question if I even loved him at all. It's weighing heavily on my conscience. What attracted me to him? Would we have gotten married if he was still alive today? I don't know. Dad…"

She wiped the tears that slid down her cheek.

"I could really use a hug. I need you so badly."

She sobbed silently and ran her fingertips methodically over the cold marble headstone.

"Sam?"

"Sir, what are you…?" she said clearing her throat.

He kneeled down next to her. Leaning into her, he brushed the tears away with his thumbs and pulled her into a gentle hug. She let go of her controlled composure and sobbed in his arms without restraint. He held her close to his chest, unwilling to let her go for anything.

"I… miss him… so much," she said between short sobs.

"I know. I do too. It's been hard knowing he isn't out there anymore."

She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to wipe the tears away.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

An honest question. He didn't know why he was there. He didn't like cemeteries. But tonight he had a feeling that he needed to be there. He hadn't been out there to visit his son for a number of years. He didn't talk, but rather sat next to his headstone and enjoyed the silence. He heard Sam drive up a couple minutes prior, but decided to leave her alone. He was there for his own spiritual well-being, and Sam needed her space. When he heard her sobbing, he felt prompted to get up and take care of her. Even in the afterlife, Jacob needed to continue to kick him in the behind to realize what he needed to do.

"I needed to be here," he replied.

She sniffled a bit and continued. "I thought you hated the cemetery."

"Not hate, just dislike. I haven't been out here in years. Sara would come out here daily to make sure he was well taken care of. Now she's lucky if she comes out here monthly. I could never handle being out here longer than 30 minutes. The memories were too strong and painful."

His lips quivered but he made no attempt to stop the tears that slid down his cheek. "I loved him so much. But I'm sure he's much happier now. Jake will take care of him," he said shakily.

"He will," she gently reassured him.

She tightened her arms around him. It felt right to be with him, but she wasn't ready yet. Her dad sent him here for a reason. She needed his comfort. It wasn't time for them to get together. They both had issues. She needed to forgive him. Their friendship had been rocky from the beginning, and now it wasn't any different. It had gone through hell and high water. Somehow she knew that they'd get through it. Probably not as lovers, but friends. She cleared her throat to continue talking.

"Thank you for being here. You seem to have an uncanny way of being at the right place at the right time," she said smiling through the tears.

"Sam, I don't know how to say this but-"

"Don't." she said pressing her finger against his lips. "I know what you're thinking. Give it time."

"Will you join me for dinner?" he blurted out.

She nodded slowly. "I think that would be fine," she replied.

"I'll pick you up at seven o'clock."

"Uh, I'd prefer if I could drive myself. It's not you, it's me."

"Alright, that's fine. I'll meet you at Frankie's Pizzeria at seven?"

"Okay."

They both went their separate ways. Sam went home to wash her face and to change her clothing. She had extreme jet lag and only had twenty minutes to clean herself up. Jack wandered around his house, not able to sit down for less than a minute. Adrenaline was constantly shooting through his veins. He was jittery and nervous. This night would probably determine their future. Instead of waiting, he went into his truck and waited at the restaurant. When he arrived, it was only ten minutes till seven. He scanned the parking lot looking for her car. It was already there. He got out the truck and walked into the restaurant with his calm, cool, collected façade.

Jack looked around the restaurant for her and spotted her almost immediately. She was turned away from him, anxiously fidgeting with her straw wrapper. He didn't want to startle her, so he came up besides her.

"Hey, Sam," he said in a low voice.

She looked up and smiled. "I didn't expect you yet," she said looking at her watch.

"You know how I am. I couldn't sit for more than ten minutes. Ordered yet?" he asked.

"Not yet. I told them to wait until you got here."

"Great."

They both sat in the booth in an awkward silence. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, beside the fact that they were under extremely different situations.

"Are you ready to order?" the perky waitress asked.

"Yeah," Jack said gruffly. "Carter, why don't you order first?"

She looked at the menu blankly. "Any recommendations? I'm drawing a blank here."

"Pizza maybe?" he joked. "We'll have a slice of pepperoni and a cheese pizza. I'll have a beer and Sam'll have a diet coke. Is that alright, Sam?" he asked.

"Sure, that's fine."

The environment of the restaurant was upbeat. A jukebox was playing oldies in the corner. In hindsight, she wished that they would've chosen a place that was a little more intimate than this. But this would have to work. No matter where they were, they were going to have to repair their already shattered relationship.

"I've missed you, so much," he confessed softly.

"I know. I've missed you too," she replied.

He reached across the table to gently hold her hands. She flinched slightly, but caught herself before Jack could notice.

"What are we going to do?" he sighed.

"Jack. I've been reassigned to Area 51. I really think it would be for the best if I did accept this assignment. We both need some time apart to figure ourselves out. I need to be available for Cassie. Being here isn't allowing me time to spend with her. You'll still be at the SGC in a year, right?" she asked hopefully.

"Actually…," he trailed off.

"Sir?"

"Hammond is reassigning me to Washington. I don't have a choice in the matter. A friend of mine, Hank Landry will be heading up the place in six months. Just enough time to get packed up and to rid myself of my worldly possessions that keep me here in Colorado," he said.

Sam's eyes were brimming with tears again. He stroked her palm with his thumb in a soothing motion. He felt just as she did, but decided to keep his emotions under wraps. They both were moving on, in the physical sense and emotionally.

"We wouldn't be in the same chain of command," she mumbled absently.

"I know," he replied.

"I'd better get going. I haven't told anyone that I'm leaving," she sniffed.

"Sam, before you go, I have something to say."

She took one of her hands to brush away the tears that slid down her cheek. "What?" she asked.

"If you need anything, and I mean anything, just let me know. You're my best friend. I love you Samantha," he whispered.

She choked on the air and let it out in a sob.

"I should go."

"Sam? Please," he begged.

She sniffed again and cleared her face. "Sir, you know how I feel about you, but not now. Thank you for everything."

She left a ten dollar bill on the table and stood to leave. She wasn't ready to hear that he loved her. "How could he love her? How could she love him?" she asked herself.

"Sam, wait. Just wait a second," he said getting up.

She turned to face him. "What, Sir?" she said with tears streaming down her face.

"Meet me out in the parking lot," he said.

He dropped another ten dollar bill on the table and turned to leave.

"Sir," the waiter asked, "You're leaving?"

"Yes. Keep the change."

She looked puzzled at the money on the table and the food in her hand. This was a first for her.

Jack found Sam leaning against the driver side door with her head tilted back.

"Carter?"

She snapped back to attention, but immediately relaxed when she realized where she was.

"I wanted to tell you goodbye," he said leaning in to give her a kiss on the cheek. "Please keep in touch. Though I hate email, I'll always reply to you. I'll approve the transfer first thing tomorrow morning."

"Thank you Sir," she mumbled.

"Anytime. Talk to you later then," he said casually.

She nodded briefly. "Goodbye for now, Jack," she whispered.

FIN

THE END!

End: to bring or come to an end; conclude, terminate, finish, complete.

To make a long story short, this is the end. I like it this way and I didn't want them to get together in this fic. That is why I left it sorta open-ended for those who can't handle them not being together. Call me crazy, but that's just how I am. So for a recap, I'm not writing a conclusion. I say, no sequel, so don't even beg.

FEEDBACK: IT DOES A BODY GOOD