Just One More Night – No regrets.

Author Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for the following unaired episodes: Line in the Sand, The Road Not Taken. Spoilers have been used to feed the story line, but as the episodes have not been aired, there is no guarantee as to the accuracy of events yet to unfold. Any similarities to the actual episodes is purely coincidental. Read at your own risk.

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Two weeks after turning in his retirement request, Jack was packing up his few personal belongings. One small cardboard box was all it took. Just as he was ready to head out for the last time, Robert Woolsey came sauntering into his office.

'Here we go,' thought Jack.

"General, may I have a moment of your time?" Woolsey asked.

"Just on my way out," Jack responded politely, picking up his box from the desk.

"Really, this'll just take a moment," Woolsey insisted, closing the office door.

Jack took a breath then slowly let it out, trying to keep his annoyance from showing. He put his box back down.

"So, I hear you're officially retired," the IOC representative stated.

Jack just smiled noncommittally. His retirement was to have been kept under wraps until after he was gone. Jack had specifically asked that there be no fuss, thus, the memo was to come out on Monday. As today was Friday, only a select few knew about it. Woolsey wasn't supposed to have been one of them.

"I had to meet with your replacement this morning," Woolsey enlightened him.

When Jack didn't respond, Woolsey decided to continue.

"I just wanted to say that: I know you and I haven't always seen eye to eye on things."

"That's putting it mildly," Jack finally spoke.

"Yes, well, despite that, it has been my honor to have worked with you. I know you don't like me very much," Woolsey hesitated hoping to be corrected. When that didn't happen he went on. "But I have the highest regard for you, and this whole planet owes you a debt of gratitude."

Jack just nodded in acknowledgement, not knowing what to say. Yet another awkward moment. Hopefully the last.

"I also think you've made a mistake," Woolsey advised.

"Excuse me?" Jack asked, taken off guard.

"I'm going to say what I came here to say and hope I leave without any bruises or broken bones," Woolsey smiled trying to joke, but Jack could see the other man was intimidated.

"You told me to drop it, and I've left it at that, until now. But I was there. I heard more than I'm sure you wanted anyone to hear," Woolsey cringed as he saw Jack's expression darken. "The point I'm trying to make, and not obviously as quickly as I had planned, is that there would be no official repercussions for her. It was already believed to have started after you arrived here. There is no suggestion as to previous..."

"I'm sorry," Jack cut him off with false sincerity.

"For what?" now it was Robert Woolsey's turn to be taken off guard.

"Well some how I have given you the false impression that we're friends, you and I," Jack shot at the man with clear malice. "I'd like to remedy that misunderstanding right now. This conversation is over."

Woolsey paled under Jack's glare, and he dropped his gaze to the carpet.

"You're right. I've over stepped my bounds," Woolsey admitted to his feet. "I just thought it a shame that after all you've sacrificed over the years, that you, both of you be denied an opportunity..." He trailed, uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

"I just thought that someone should tell you. That someone being me as I'm the one who seems to know too much. I apologize if I've offended you," he finally managed to finish.

Jack looked the man over. Maybe he did mean well. He wasn't really that bad. Jack had dealt with bigger pains in the ass in his time.

"Yes, well, I'll get over it," Jack decided to relent and picked his box back up.

"You're a good man General," Woolsey said sincerely as he watched Jack open and head out the door.

"You're not so bad either. And call me Jack. I'm retired," Jack replied without a backward glance.

"Coming from you, that means something," Woolsey called after him, a warm smile on his face as he watched the General's retreating back. He hoped the man would finally find the happiness he deserved.

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Colonel Carter sat in her lab staring at Merlin's device. Another weekend gone, off trying to save this and other worlds. Another Sunday night, stuck on the base trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the stupid thing, when all she really wanted was to be with him.

She had been cleared from the infirmary an hour ago, after having been knocked unconscious while trying to get the device to work on Thilana's planet. It should've worked. Why hadn't it worked?

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A day earlier SG-1 had stepped through the gate fully prepared. With the Ori on their way to this particular planet, it had been agreed. It was time a line was drawn in the sand. This would be that place.

Thilana, the village's leader had been very supportive when Cam had briefed her on the threat, and then on the plan. Sam had worked diligently modifying Merlin's dimension device. She had been positive that they could hide the population from the anticipated Prior, and in doing so, circumvent their conversion.

Sadly, things had not gone as planned. The device had failed to work as hoped. Failure. It was becoming more common then success.

Matar, Thilana's right-hand man, began to urge the population to capitulate to the Prior's demand, but Thilana had stood firm. She argued to her people that they fight from being enslaved once again. So recently freed of the Goa'uld, she had vowed 'never again'.

With this in mind, the team took up positions, ready to help in the fight. In a nondescript hut just off the courtyard, Sam continued to try and get Merlin's device to work. Cam stayed with her, watching out the window. Without warning, the device pulsed, and Sam let out a yelp. Cam turned quickly, weapon raised, only to see Sam crumble to the ground unconscious.

"Who leads here?" Cam heard the Firstman bellow in the court yard.

The leader of the Ori Army stood arrogantly with his warriors around him.

"I am the one you seek," Thilana responded, her voice loud and brave. Her countenance held in defiance.

"Where is the structure that stood there?" the Firstman pointed angrily to the building Mitchell and Carter were hiding in.

Cam looked toward Carter and was relieved to see that she was still breathing. He wanted to run over and check on her, but his heart skipped a beat as he saw Ori henchmen beginning to approach his position. He raised his weapon and prepared to fire.

"Where the hell is Teal'c?" he muttered through clenched teeth.

Teal'c was in the crowd, cloaked in hooded garb, watching as events unfolded. Strategizing on his next steps. When at first Teal'c had seen the building his team-mates were in suddenly disappear he had been alarmed. But quickly he realized that Colonel Carter must have been successful in getting the device to work, albeit on a small scale.

As the Ori soldiers approached, Sam began to moan, then a heart stopping scream erupted from her. Mitchell looked to Sam then to the soldiers approaching. They had not quickened their pace nor did they appear to have even heard her.

Mitchell looked relieved as he realized that Sam must've made something happen to the building. The soldiers were right in front of the window yet they seemed to see nothing. Instead, they proceeded to walk through the walls as though they weren't even there. 'Yup, she'd gotten something to work,' he thought.

Taking a deep breath, Cam quickly made his way over to his partner. Stooping he checked first her pulse. Noting it seemed fine he began to try and bring her around.

"Carter. Sam! Hey Sam!" he whispered loudly. "Snap out of it!"

What came out of her mouth while still unconscious caused Cameron even more confusion and concern. When she finally did come around, he hadn't known what to say so he had left it. No sense distracting her or upsetting her. She had to focus on getting them out of this mess.

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Safely back at the base Cameron had bumbling tried to broach her to talk about her unconscious revelations. Mitchell loved working with Carter. She was an amazing Air Force officer, and an even a more spectacular scientist. He respected the hell out of her. And more importantly, he cared about her as a friend. Sure, she was guarded when it came to her personal life, but if her earlier mumblings were anything to go by, he understood now why.

Cameron's thoughts went back to the day he had sat beside Sam as they watched the psychiatrist try and undo the Ori brainwashing of Daniel. Sam's reaction to seeing General O'Neill had struck Cameron a little odd. He hadn't quite been able to put his finger on it at the time.

He could've sworn though that he had interrupted something, although both had denied it, the night he had walked into her lab and found them both there.

Now though, after calling out for the General by his given name, and her obvious distress while unconscious, along with the other barely discernible things she had said. Cameron wasn't sure what to think or how to deal with it.

Sam was sitting on the side of a gurney and smiled at him when she spied him.

"So, how'd you make out?" he asked her.

"I'm fine. A little shock from unexpected feedback, nothing to worry about," Sam reassured him.

Cameron took a look around and saw that no one was close enough to hear. He told her in his stammering way what he had heard. Sam remembered nothing of the experience.

"Not that it'd be a big deal or anything if there was; I'm just saying though that…" Cameron stammered on.

Sam felt herself reeling. Just what had been going on in her head? Cam really seemed to be struggling with this and was obviously uncomfortable, shuffling from one foot to another. She decided the simple truth would be the best way to handle this.

"Cam," she cut him off. "Nothing inappropriate ever happened while I was under his command,"

It wasn't a lie. Nothing happened until after, and it'd only been the once. She felt she owed him at least that. They had to work together, and she didn't want him uncomfortable or to feel as though he had to keep secrets for her. At least not that kind.

"But you -?" he looked at her with a slight wince.

"Yes, I do," Sam answered honestly, knowing he was going to ask how she felt about the General.

"Ok, to be honest I'm relieved," he smiled. "You know that nothing happened, well, during. What about now though? Gotta admit there's definitely chemistry."

"We both agreed it wasn't possible. Given our circumstances," Sam gave him a small sad smile.

Cam considered her for a moment. 'Wouldn't kill her to get a social life, and who better than O'Neill,' he thought to himself, knowing it really was none of his business.

"So what's stopping you? If nothing happened then nothing happened. Doesn't mean something shouldn't happen now. So what if some idiots talk. Anyone who knows you…" his curiosity was killing him, but he couldn't quite find the right way to make his point. Wasn't even sure what point he was trying to make.

"I admit, if I were in the same position a few years ago, the gossip would've bothered me. But I've changed. I've grown. I'm more sure of myself now. I can handle the 'idiots'. It's more how we could be perceived at an official level. Can we not talk about this anymore?" she requested as she jumped from the gurney and headed for the door.

This conversation had become much too personal for her, especially as she was still pining. Something she'd admit only to herself.

Taking the cue, Cameron followed and tried to lighten the mood, "Hey, wanna play a game of pick up after the briefing? Teal'c bailed on me and Vala won't leave Daniel's side."

Mitchell made a gagging noise.

"You're just jealous," Sam laughingly threw at him as she headed down the corridor.

Cameron stopped, taken aback.

"Hey, I told you, it wasn't what it looked like," he jogged to catch up.

"Ya, sure. A bed, handcuffs, and whipped cream," Sam teased.

"I'm never gonna live that down am I?" he retorted with mock offence.

"Nope," Sam chuckled.

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And now here she sat, Sunday night, with her date. A stupid piece of technology. She was so tired and frustrated. Sam lashed out and hit the damn thing. Unexpectedly it lashed back and she felt the explosion throw her from her chair and into the wall. Closing her eyes against the sparks and the bright flash, she felt herself slide down the wall but she remained sitting.

"He'll see you now Major," she heard a woman's voice.

Sam opened her eyes and shook her head in confusion. She was sitting in a large lavishly furnished office. The only other occupant was the woman, her desk near another door. She appeared as though she were in her early to mid fifties, with beautifully coiffed short dark hair.

Sam looked around. She didn't recognize the room or the woman. 'Did she just call me Major?' she wondered. Looking down at herself she saw that she was wearing her dress blues. On her shoulders were her Major leaves and not her Eagles.

"I said, The President will see you now ma'am. Not nice to keep him waiting," the woman spoke to Sam again.

Sam stood. Still unsure of her surroundings. She tried to quickly review the events in her mind. Let's see, she'd been in her lab at the SGC staring at Merlin's gadget. When she'd hit it, it had - 'Oh no,' she thought and closed her eyes. She must've shifted to another reality. It was the only explanation that made sense.

"Major, are you alright?" the woman asked.

"Uh, yes, I think so," she answered, already trying to think of a way to undo this.

The woman smiled at her. "First day jitters?"

Not understanding, Sam just nodded and headed for the door.

"Samantha, may I call you that?" President Hayes greeted her warmly, rushing to her and taking her by the shoulders. "So, how's your first day going? Have you been to your new office yet?"

Sam opened her mouth. She wanted to try and tell him what was happening. To explain. He didn't give her the chance though.

"Look, I was wanting to spend more time with you, but I have to run to a committee meeting, budget screw ups," he smiled broadly, letting go of her shoulders and walking back to his desk. "But I just got off the phone with Jack. He says he'll be over this afternoon to help get you settled, and to go over some of these suggestions you passed on."

The President held up a folder to indicate what he was talking about. Sam was still at a loss as to what to say. She thought it was probably best to hold off explanations. Jack apparently was on the way. She could explain it to him, he would help.

"Yes sir," she answered respectfully.

Again he grinned at her.

"I can't tell you how good it is to have you here. A true American, no, World Hero. I hope there's no hard feelings. Gotta tell you though, the way you kicked those Alien butts. Impressive, could be a promotion in it for you. If only people could know. Well gotta run. We'll schedule something for later this week," the President came up to her again, and, putting his hand on the small of her back, ushered her out the door before she could say another word.

Sam left the office, the President's secretary smiling brightly at her. Well, no wonder, apparently she was a hero. She had no idea where she was supposed to go, it seems she had an office somewhere, but didn't have the first clue as to where it might be. Jack, however, was supposed to be meeting her there this afternoon. Sam looked at her watch and saw that the time was11:30. She began to head down the corridor and came to a sudden stop just four doors down from where she had started.

Ok, so finding her new office hadn't been that difficult. Sam had found a door with a plain silver name plate with 'Maj. S. Carter, USAF' in black lettering.

It was as good a place as any to hide out until Jack showed up. Then she'd have an opportunity to explain what had happened and enlist his help in setting things straight. Sam opened the door and found another woman sitting at a desk in a small office, this one looking as though she was fresh out of her teens. A door on the far side likely lead to yet another office, probably her own.

"How did it go?" the woman asked her cheerfully.

"Good," Sam replied hesitantly. 'Who was this person?' she wondered more confounded then ever.

The phone began to ring and the woman, Sam supposed must be her secretary, answered.

"Major Carter's office," the secretary hesitated. "Yes General, she just walked in, I'll put you through."

After placing the call on hold the woman advised Sam too sweetly, "Your boyfriend's on the phone. Line 2."

Sam gave the woman a surprised look, and inwardly bristled at the obvious insinuation, but decided to play along. With a tight smile she headed to the other door, hoping that's what she was supposed to be doing.

Stepping inside she was surprised to find a beautifully furnished office. Almost as nice as the Oval office. Stunned she stood there and looked at the beautiful artwork, the lush carpeting, and the antique walnut desk. The large office even had a comfortable seating area complete with a luxurious love seat and two matching arm chairs.

"Ahem," Sam heard from the young woman in the outer office. Then in a musical tone, "He's waiting. Don't want to make him cranky."

Sam shook her head. She did not like this woman, not at all. She walked over to the desk and picked up the simple black multi lined phone. Pressing the button for line 2, she spoke, "Col...Major Carter."

Almost forgot.

"Took you long enough," she heard Jack's voice bark.

'Uh, sorry Sir. I'm so glad..." she began only to be cut off.

"Sir, huh? You know how much I like when you do that," he drawled seductively. "Does that mean we get to play in uniform tonight?"

Sam bit back a choke and tried to continue, but he never gave her the chance.

"As much as I like where this is going, something's come up. Besides that," he snickered. "Keep your mind outta the gutter. So anyways, I'm not gonna be able to make it this afternoon. I'll fill you in later. Sorry. But hey, I'll see you tonight at your place. I'll bring Chinese. Still at 18:00 right?"

It was too much for Sam's confused mind. The only thing she could process, which fortunately came out as a question, was, "My place sir?"

"Yes, Sam, you know that new place of yours where we plan on sleeping from time to time?" Jack laughed. "C'ya then."

'Oh great,' Sam thought a little annoyed, 'yet another Universe or dimension, or wherever the hell I am, where we're together. Figures. And I don't even know where I'm supposed to be going to see him at 18:00. What should I do now? '

Sam took a seat at the desk and looked around. There were a number of thick folders on her desk, but no computer. She decided to kill some time and read what was there.

She became fully engrossed. From what she could gather, she was involved in the Stargate program in this reality as well. About one month ago, she, along with SG1, had been on a planet whose inhabitants had been wiped out by mysterious aliens. Only a few survivors had been left and they were understandably terrified.

Major Carter had been separated from the group when she had gone to investigate what had sounded like a child crying. It had been a decoy. She had been captured by several armed men and taken aboard an orbiting ship.

Sam read the description of Major Carter's captor's over and over. The Ori. They were close, and had captured her alternate. Not just their soldier's, not just their Priors or the Doci, them. The Ori. And they were headed straight for Earth, original home to the Ancients.

It was during this point in events that Sam noticed Major Carter's reports were lacking in depth and detail. There should have been much more. Technical specifications of the ship, layout, troop estimates. But no, nothing. Just some vague nonsense of how she had tried to convince them that Earth was not worth conquering, the Ancient's were gone, if they'd ever been there, etc., etc. Sheer nonsense.

The rest of the report indicated that she had single handedly saved SG1 who had also been captured and then had blown up the ship. No mention of just how she had accomplished this feat, or how the team had escaped the ship. Colonel Carter felt the acid begin to rise from her stomach. Something was very wrong here.

She reached for another one of the folders. It contained collaborating mission reports from Mitchell, Teal'c, and Daniel. There was nothing from Vala. Skimming through other reports she noted that there was no mention of Vala in any of them. She was not part of the team, nor apparently known to the SGC from what Sam could gather.

In yet another folder she found information concerning the Major's reassignment. She had been appointed Special Advisor to the President of the United States one week ago. This being her official first day. Her job: to strategize against a future incursion of this, or any other alien species.

She really needed to speak with Jack in order to warn him.

"Your car is out front ma'am," the young girl poked her head into the office.

Sam threw her a surprised look.

"Your car. To take you home. You have a date, remember? Listened in by accident," the woman revealed smugly with a wink.

Sam was aghast at this woman's audacity. Who did this girl think she was? Or more aptly, who did she think she was talking to?

"You will not listen in on my calls. Or you will be out of a job!" Sam snapped.

"Sorry, ma'am," the woman had the decency to look contrite. She obviously wasn't expecting to be chastised.

'Why bother,' Sam thought briefly of laying the law down to this girl, but with any luck she wouldn't be in this reality long enough to worry about it. At least she had a car to take her home. A stroke of luck as finding Major Carter's residence would've posed quite a problem. She glanced at her watch and was shocked to see that it was 17:30 already. The day had flown.

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Sitting in the back of the limousine, Sam's head was in a twirl. Obviously things weren't as they seemed with Major Carter. Sam had a sneaky suspicion that somehow SG1 had been influenced by the Ori, to what end she wasn't sure.

And what of Jack? Was he involved? No, she doubted it. Not if he was anything like the General Jack O'Neill from her reality. And what of their relationship? It seemed to be out in the open, if the Major's secretary was any indication. How had they pulled that off? Was it why she was still a Major in this reality? She was she being black listed in some way? Is that what the President had meant when he said he hoped there were no hard feelings?

Before she had more time to think about it the car came to a stop outside a luxury building complex. Oh no, thought Sam. Now which apartment am I in? The car door opened and she looked up to see Jack, extending one hand out to her, his other holding a bag of Chinese Food.

Well, that took care of that problem.

"Am I glad to see you," she uttered in relief.

"Good to be seen," he grinned in response. "Come on, let's go in and eat. Things have been stepped up a bit. I'll explain inside."

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Once inside the apartment Jack had led her to, Sam recognized some of the furnishings as being the same or at least similar to pieces she had in her own home. It seemed she and her Major self had similar taste.

Jack made himself at home setting out plates for the food while she watched.

"Sir, I really need to talk to you. This is urgent."

He smiled, "Oh I so love it when you do that."

He stopped his ministrations with dinner preparations and strode over to her, grabbing her in a bear hug. He bent his head and began to kiss her neck.

"Sir, please," Sam tried again, but it felt so good.

"Anything you want," as his hands reached behind her and he began to undo the zipper of her uniform skirt.

Gathering her strength she pushed him away from her. He in turn looked at her with annoyed confusion.

"What?" he exclaimed.

"I need to talk to you. I'm not who you think I am," she tried yet again.

"Oh get off it Sam, I'm too tired for games and I have to leave for the Mountain in an hour. If you don't want to, just say so, but don't play games. At least not this kind." he spat at her.

She wanted to explain, so much she had to tell him, but instead she blurted, "You're leaving?"

"Ya, that's what I need to talk to you about. I was contacted by the Doci. They've pushed up the conversion. I have to be there to make sure the Iris is open by 01:30 in the morning," he explained, frustration evident in his tone. "Let's just eat!"

He spun around and stalked back to the table where he began to angrily put food on the plates. She watched him open mouthed. She had guessed that Major Carter was involved in something with the Ori, brainwashed maybe like Daniel had been, but never would she have thought any version of Jack would've gone along with it.

Sam felt trapped. Her befuddled mind struggled to make sense of this. If he was in on some sort of Ori invasion plan she had to stop him. And then the realization hit her. If he was compromised, he wouldn't be able to help her get back to her own reality. She needed to go to the SGC with him and hope Merlin's device was there. Maybe then she could -

"Well, are you at least going to eat with me?" he cut off her thoughts. He'd already taken a seat at the table and was starting without her. He still seemed upset at her having rebuffed his advances.

She knew she had to think quick. Sam made her way to the table and sat at the place he'd set up for her.

"I need to go with you," it was statement, yet she said it softly enough hoping he would take it as a lover's request.

He took a bite of beef fried rice and eyed her with a frown.

"You can't. You know the plan. You'll need to be back at your office for when hell breaks loose at the White House. He trusts you. Hell, he thinks you're a hero. You can get into the Oval Office without a shake down by the secret service. Once word gets out it'll be mayhem. You take care of him and the other leaders will be more complacent. Just think, after tonight you and I will become redundant. No more wars. No more need for a military. The Ori'll look after everything. Gonna take some used to saying 'Hallowed are the Ori' all the time though."

He smirked at her.

"You ok?" he asked, finally noticing how pale she had become.

Sam looked down at her food. She was at a complete loss as to what to do.

"Come on Sam," he cajoled, seemingly over his earlier irritation with her. "Listen, I know you're still pissed about not being promoted. Hell, you deserved it. I'm sorry we were caught. I'm sorry I was promoted even after the reprimand and you've been stuck at the same rank. But it's not going to matter anymore. After tonight, it won't matter."

Sam couldn't take anymore. She stood and quickly ran, not knowing where she was going. She just had to get away from him. Do something. She couldn't just sit there any longer listening to this man who had Jack's voice, Jack's face. This was not Jack.

She had meant to run from the dining area to the apartment door but somehow landed up in the kitchen. She felt her stomach acid begin to rise again and knew she was about to throw up. She ran to the kitchen sink and began to retch.

Her mind insanely noticed that Major Carter was not as particular as she. In the sink were still some dishes, from breakfast probably. One of the objects was a long, serrated, and sharply pointed kitchen knife. From the looks of one of the plates, Major Carter had used it to cut a grapefruit.

She heard his footsteps as he followed her into the kitchen.

"Look!" he said tersely from behind her, "I'm involved because you came to me for help. You involved me. It's too late to turn back now."

"What if I asked you to? Turn back that is. To stop this," she pleaded still looking into the sink.

"They almost killed you Sam. The innuendo," he said.

"What?" had she heard right. Without thinking she picked up the knife and slowly turned to face him, keeping the weapon behind her, hoping he hadn't noticed.

"I said they almost killed you. The Ori," he looked at her with pain showing clearly on his face. "And if I don't go tonight and let them pass, they will follow through with it. And if they do, it will mean that I'm responsible, thus, I will have killed you. Did that once, remember?"

There had been that time she'd been taken over by the entity. He had shot her twice with a Zat as the invader, unbeknownst to him at the time, had been uploading her consciousness into a mainframe. But what did that have to do with-?

"Don't ask me to do that again," he choked, cutting through her thoughts again. "Because I won't. I can't. I care about you…..a lot more than I should."

"Hold me before you go," she asked him, tears streaming down her face. She knew he wasn't her Jack, but he was Jack nevertheless. And what he was planning to do, he was doing for his version of her.

He slowly approached, ready to comply. As soon as he was close enough, close enough to touch, to caress, to hold, she plunged the knife into his heart.

Jack gasped and stepped back, blinking in disbelief as he looked down and saw a dark stain begin to creep along his shirt. His hands instinctively flew to the knife hilt, but he knew enough not to pull it out. The blood began to flow through his fingers. He looked up at her, a soul wrenching pain in his eyes.

"Why Sam? I did it for you," he didn't even try to hide the hurt he felt at having been betrayed. "I would've done anything for you. Held on forever. It's always been to protect you, always. Why'd you have to rip my heart out? Was this the closure you were looking for?"

Then in a dying whisper he added, "Sam, I - love you."

Jack dropped to the floor dead. In complete shock she stared at his lifeless form. And then Colonel Carter began to scream.

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"Sam! Sam! It's alright, wake up," Sam heard a familiar male voice in a haze.

Sam's eyes flew open as she sat bolt upright. She was back in her lab. In her chair. Her head had been resting on her desk. Daniel was beside her looking worried, one hand on her shoulder.

"Wow, must've been some nightmare. You must've been here all night. I was walking down the corridor and heard you screaming," Daniel enlightened her softly.

"I killed him!" Sam exclaimed in a panic.

"You didn't kill anyone," Daniel soothed.

Sam slowly shook her head. It all started to come back to her. She'd been in her lab, sulking if she admitted it. She must have put her head down and fallen asleep. It had just been a dream. Yet it had seemed so real.

"What time is it?" she asked sheepishly.

Daniel smiled, "It's only 7."

Coming out of it she remembered the conversation she'd had with Mitchell the evening before. It came back to her in a flood. This was the same dream she'd had back on Thilana's planet when she'd been knocked out. Only in that one she hadn't rebuffed Jack's advances. The end result had been the same though. Her horrifically killing Jack then losing her mind.

"You've been under a lot of stress lately," Daniel comforted as he pulled up a stool next to her. "We all have. Want to tell me about it?"

Sam smiled weakly at him and then unburdened herself. She told him everything, from her one night with Jack right through to the horrible dream.

"Doesn't take a psychiatrist to analyse this one," Daniel laughed.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked. To her the dream seemed to make no sense at all.

Daniel put his hand on her arm and looked at her warmly.

"You two have had a connection for years," he began. "I saw it when I first met you on Abydos. And it's been there ever since. Sure you both tried to hide it. I know, you had to. Air Force rules. But there it was."

He watched as she flushed ever so slightly before continuing.

"Don't ya think this dream of your's is trying to tell you something?" he asked quietly.

"Like what, the Ori are coming," she laughed.

"No. Dreams are symbolic, and reality sometimes gets muddled up in them. I was thinking more along the lines that you need each other. Ok, it's Jack we're talking about. Not one to open up about what he feels. But you know don't you? Deep down you know he feels the same for you and that he'd do just about anything for you."

"You always were his favorite," he teased with a smile. Then more seriously he added," All this talk about how it could affect your career, or the gossip. Maybe this dream is telling you it wouldn't be as bad as you think, or that you could handle it. Come on Sam, you've more than proved yourself to everybody. Over and over again. No one's gonna doubt that you deserve to be where you're at professionally. And any who do, do they really matter?"

"What about killing him?" Sam choked back the tears.

Daniel moved his hand from her arm and took her hand in his.

"You did what you did months ago looking for closure. To cut free of that connection you have with him. That was probably what stabbing him symbolized. And your horror at having done it, well isn't that how you're feeling now? Horrified that you could want to kill what you two have?"

"I think you've been hanging around Dr. Mackenzie too much," Sam smirked at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears.

"Think about it, that's all I'm saying," Daniel patted her hand. More cheerfully he added, "And speaking of Doc Mackenzie, he thinks I'm almost ready to go back out there. And I agree. Getting bored wandering around this place."

"I told Cameron I'd meet up with him," he said as he stood up. "I'll see you later?"

Sam just nodded.

After Daniel had left she thought about what he had said. It made sense. Her dream brought to the surface her deep seeded and complicated feelings surrounding one Major General Jack O'Neill. Mixed up with her unspoken fear that they weren't doing well against the Ori.

She wanted to be with him. Needed him. But she had been afraid it would affect her career, directly or indirectly. They had waited so long, and instead of holding on to hope or trying to find away to make it work, she had pushed him away. Tried to kill what was between them. She was running from what they both wanted instead of fighting for it. Letting fear of reprimand or innuendo steal away their only chance.

The last time she'd seen Jack was the night he had come to Daniel's aid. It had been awkward for both of them. He could've left without seeking her out. But he didn't. He came to her lab and struck up a conversation, as uncomfortable as he seemed at the time. She knew now what he had been about to say. The same thing he had said in the dream just after she had stabbed him. He had been about to tell her that he loved her.

Sam heard her laptop ding, indicating new email and broke from her reverie to read it. What she saw shook her to the core.

From: Gen T. Morsley, Chief of Staff

TO: Homeworld Security- all staff; SGC all staff; A51 – all staff

Subject: Retirement, Maj. Gen. J. O'Neill

Action Required: None

To all concerned Air Force and Civilian personnel, effective immediately be advised that Maj. Gen. Jonathan (Jack) O'Neill (USAF) has retired from his position as Director, Homeworld Security.

I have assigned Maj Gen. T. Van Loan as Acting Director in the interim.

As per Maj Gen. O'Neill's request there will no retirement celebration. Jack's service record speaks for itself and he will be greatly missed. On your behalf, I have extended our sincerest appreciation for his contributions to the service over the years.

Gen. T. Morsley, Chief of Staff, USAF

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Retired? But? Sam couldn't believe it. Her mind brought her back to their one night together, as Sam and Jack. Not that it had far to travel. That night was never far from her thoughts.

Had she misread what he had said? Didn't he say something about being addicted to the program? Ok, no he didn't say that, she had come to that conclusion after his one liner. And now. Now he was gone. Did his experience in Atlantis have something to do with this? Or was it her?

Sam picked up her phone and dialled home. When her answering machine clicked on she keyed in her remote code. She had no new messages. He hadn't even called her to tell her himself. Why not? Should she try phoning him? They could still be friends, couldn't they? What if he needed her? She should call. She picked up the phone again and stared at it.

Her old self doubts began to resurface. What if he had simply decided to move on? That had been the plan hadn't it? So it had back fired for her, doesn't mean that it didn't work for him. What if he didn't want to hear from her? She put the phone back down.

She needed to clear her head. She'd meant to head for the showers, but instead found herself walking aimlessly through the halls of the SGC. She never noticed the odd looks she received from passing personnel, so in a daze she was.

Sam stopped suddenly and looked around. Her face lit up in a broad smile and her blue eyes flashed. Unconsciously she had headed straight for "the room". The same room where she and Jack had agreed to "leave" their feelings for each other in years ago. 'That's it!' her mind yelled. She knew what to do, and this time she really would have no regrets.

Her first course of action was to stop in to see General Landry. That visit had taken only five minutes. He didn't try to stand in her way and gave her a weeks leave. Then she headed full steam to the elevator. While she waited for the doors to open, Daniel and Cameron stopped her.

"Hey, just heading for some breakfast. Wanna join us?" Cameron said, stopping beside her.

"Nope," Sam grinned at him. "Got some leave. Have some swooping and sweeping to do."

Cam looked at her as though she was losing it. Kinda nice to see that grin back though, he thought to himself. Out loud he asked, "Did you get that memo about General O'Neill?"

"Yup," Sam was dancing from one foot to another still smiling broadly. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of it sooner. And everyone thought she was so smart.

"Where are you going?" Daniel asked, almost laughing. Sam's mood was contagious and he was sure he knew just what her cryptic comment implied.

The elevator doors opened and Sam stepped in. Turning to look at the two men she gave them her brightest smile. As the doors closed they heard her answer. "To Oz."

Daniel looked at Cam, a wide smile on his face.

"What was that all about?" Mitchell asked Daniel.

From out of no where Teal'c appeared.

"Was that Colonel Carter just departing?" Teal'c enquired, hands behind his back, an inquisitive look across his features.

"It was," Daniel smiled.

"I see," was Teal'c's thoughtful response. And then with an uncharacteristic grin, "I hope she remembers to pack the insect repellent."

With that he continued his saunter down the corridor.

"You mean…" Cam began.

"You heard the lady; she's off to see the wizard. Only I think this one will be found in Minnesota," Daniel chuckled.

"That's –nice," Cam smiled. "Ok, well let's go eat. I'm starving."

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Jack pulled the canoe back up onto shore and set it against the cabin. It usually relaxed him to take the small craft out into the pond and fish out there. He'd been at it most of the day. But like most days, he was finding it hard to unwind. It had only been a weekend since his departure. He knew he had to give it time. Addictions weren't easy to get over, and this one could prove to be damn near impossible.

He'd had lots of time alone to mull over Woolsey's well intentioned bumbling. It didn't change anything though. Even if she didn't have to face official consequences, there would still be the Air Force rumor mill. She'd hate people gossiping about her, speculating. No, nothing had changed.

And just like every day since that night, he was haunted with thoughts of her. He wondered if it would eventually drive him nuts, not knowing what was going on in her life. When she went off on missions. If she made it back ok.

Maybe he should call, he thought. He wondered if she'd seen the memo yet, and if so what her reaction had been. Maybe she was relieved? Jack took a deep breath and let it out.

What the hell was wrong with him? They were still friends. That hadn't changed. Ok, sure, she wanted to move on and get over whatever it was they had. Didn't mean she still didn't think of him as a friend. Friends could call friends, couldn't they?

He pulled his cell phone from his cargo pants pocket and began to dial. What the hell, if she wasn't home he'd hang up. If she was, well just an old friend calling to say 'Hi'. No big deal. Doesn't mean anything. Out of habit he pressed the speed dial for her cell phone. Well, that's ok. If she was off world, he'd get the message thingy. He would hang up without leaving one.

He heard the phone begin to ring and was startled to hear a simultaneous ringing coming from around the corner of the cabin.

"Colonel Carter," he heard, both from the phone and from around the corner. He felt his heart skip a beat.

"Hey," he said, speaking into the phone while walking around until he saw her.

"Whatcha doin?" he asked, a wide smile brightening his handsome face.

Sam laughed and closed her phone. He did the same. They stood there for a moment, staring into each other's eyes. A million things raced through Jack's head. From what was she doing here, to oh thank God she's here.

"We need to talk," Sam began. "I've been thinking."

"Really?" Jack asked with mock surprise. His heart now racing with anticipation.

"Smart ass," she quipped, still smiling. "You know, I've always wanted to say that to you, Jack."

Jack just shrugged then chuckled. "Glad I could be here for you then."

"So let's go back a few months," Sam continued. "The one thing we agreed keeping us apart, even if you retired- which you have - is that my conduct could be called into question officially. Well, there's a solution. In two words –Za'tarc test. We still have the equipment and it's better than a lie detector. I could prove we never broke regulations while working together, without a doubt."

Jack nodded with a slight cock of his head.

"Never thought of that," was his response, knowing that the official perception was no longer the issue. "What about the 'unofficial' gossip grapevine? The innuendos? That wouldn't get to you?"

Sam tilted her head and gave him a seductive smile.

"I'm a Colonel in the United States Air Force mister. I haven't run from a fight yet. And there's no way I'm going to let some gossiping nits keep me from you. If it's a fight they want, I say Bring it on".

"Nits, you say?" he was openly amused. Walking slowly towards her he added, "You have no idea how that little speech of yours just turned me on."

Sam laughed, "Good, because that's what I was going for."

More seriously she added, "I love you Jack O'Neill. I made a mistake. I was wrong. I could never get over you. I don't care what people say as long as I'm with you. I've proved myself enough."

Jack put his arms around her waist, pulling her close so that their bodies were melded. He wanted to believe. Needed to believe. He looked searchingly into her big blue eyes.

"And you know," Sam said slyly, knowing she had to convince him still. "It's not like I'd be the General's wife now would it? More like you'd be the Colonel's…."

She let it hang, a mischievous grin on her face.

Jack's head snapped back slightly and he looked at her with something akin to awe.

"Was that your idea of a proposal?" he goaded with a boyish grin. "Gee Sam, even I coulda done better than that."

"Does that mean you accept?" she held her breath.

"On one condition," he drawled teasingly.

"That is?" she chuckled, she knew the answer.

"One night. Then another, then another, always," he whispered as he began to bend his head towards her's.

Just as their lips were about to touch she turned her head away.

"Well look at that!" she exclaimed in surprise.

Jack tried to follow where she was looking. Somewhere out over the pond. He didn't see anything. At least nothing worth breaking away from a long awaited kiss. 'Way to break the mood Sam,' he smirked inwardly.

"What?" he asked aloud.

"A sunset," she answered simply, looking back at him, her beautiful blues twinkling in the dusk.

Just before claiming her lips in a slow drawn out kiss she heard him mutter, "So it is. So it is."

It was to be the first of many.

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Author's Special Request: If you have enjoyed this work of fiction, please click on my name, then on my home page link. It will bring you to youtube where you can watch the wonderful video, Rooftops, created for this chapter by Hope Leslie Hermnharry. It's amazing and goes perfectly with this chapter.

Each chapter has a video. You'll find them by selecting her name then choosing: Just One Night, created for ch 1, Tonight I wanna cry, created for ch 2, and Who Knew, created for Ch 3. They truly capture how the characters felt during each of these chapters. Please give her fb or post a comment to encourage her muse. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: "Stargate SG-1," "Stargate Atlantis," and its characters are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp., Showtime/Viacom and USA Networks, Inc. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations and story are the property of the author(s), and may not be republished or archived elsewhere without the author's permission.