Unable to keep her irritation at Cameron Mitchell's enthusiasm for near-death experiences completely out of her voice, Samantha Carter managed a quick "I'm going to go hit the showers," before rushing out of the Gate Room.

Of course, she had washed up a few hours earlier on the Odyssey, and the short time on Ba'al's relatively clean ship hadn't left her desperate for a shower. Instead, she felt an almost desperate need to find the nearest phone and make a quick call. Any minute now the Odyssey's latest report might be crossing the desk of a certain major general working at the Pentagon. It was all very well and good for Cameron to take such delight in risking his life and the lives of his team, but just because he had no one anxiously awaiting his safe return…

Sam had to get to a phone.

She had hoped to avoid this sort of situation by transferring to Area 51, and had dreaded it since returning to the SGC. Hopefully, General Landry's message would reach the Odyssey before they could send in their report, but she knew the realities of sub-space communication better than anyone, and it was unlikely.

Getting to the privacy of her office, she grabbed her phone and punched in the familiar number. Without realizing the significance, Sam was making the same call thousands of servicemen and women had made before her upon returning home from missions or training: 'I'm back, I'm okay, and I'll see you soon.' Strange, and a bit sad, that this was the first such call made by any member of SG-1 after nearly a decade of service.

As the phone rang, she couldn't help but pray under her breath, "Please, pick up."

The private line was answered on the second ring. "O'Neill."

"Jack. I…"

He casually interrupted her, but she couldn't help noticing the catch in his usually smooth masculine tones. "Carter. Good to hear from you. You'll never guess what I've just been reading."

"Damn." She had been too late.

"Actually, I was thinking more like, 'Thank God', but to each his –or her -- own."

She couldn't help but smile despite herself. "Yes, sir," she teased back, trying to let him know despite the miles that everything really was okay. "But I was hoping I'd reach you before that report."

"No real harm done. Assuming the earlier report was correct, of course. Otherwise, I'm going to need to go have a few words with certain members of the Lucien Alliance."

"No, I'm fine. Really. Just a few cuts and abrasions. I've been worse." She immediately regretted her words, realizing he knew full well how bad worse could be.

"Yes, well, I'll have to see for myself." He paused for a long, uncomfortable and painful moment before adding, "Any idea when that might be?"

"After this mission, I should be able to finagle at least a 3-day pass. We're debriefing General Landry in about an hour. I should know after that for sure. What about yourself?"

He chuckled ironically. "Gate-lag, Samantha? It's only Tuesday. I have to brief the President tomorrow morning and after that I've got an afternoon full of meetings. Not to mention I have a feeling I might find a file of reports on various activities involving a certain criminal alliance and activities again Ba'al on my desk tomorrow morning."

"Oh." Disappointment, sharp as her need to see him, sliced through her.

"But…" She could hear him smiling over the phone, his tone intentionally light for her benefit. "I could rearrange my schedule a bit, maybe take a long lunch, take some paperwork home early. I'm sure the President would understand. And I am allowed to go home and sleep sometime." He emphasized the word 'sleep' slightly, and she couldn't help but give him the answering chuckle she knew he was seeking.

"All right, it's a date. Assuming I can get the time off." She glanced at her watch. 1500 hours Mountain Time meant 1700 hours in DC, and she wouldn't be able to catch a flight for at least 3 hours. If she was lucky. "I'll give you a call after the debriefing to let you know if I'll be in."

"When, Carter. When you'll be in."

"Yes, sir." She glanced at her watch. "I gotta go, Jack. I need to take a shower before the debriefing or there'll be questions."

"See you later." It was an order.

"Yes, sir. You betcha."

Much later that night, or early the next morning, depending on what time zone you were in, Sam finally made her way out past the security checkpoints at Dulles International Airport. Despite her reassurances to Jack in a phone conversation shortly after SG-1's debriefing with General Landry that she could catch a taxi to the apartment, she couldn't quite keep herself from scanning the terminal as she passed out of the secured area.

And there he was, leaning casually against the wall, ubiquitous baseball cap riding low on his forehead. His eyes found hers from across the corridor and his smile deepened, but otherwise he didn't move.

He straightened up as she approached, reaching for her carry-on as he spoke, "Hey, gorgeous. Need a ride?"

She handed him her bag. "I told you not to wait up. I could have caught a taxi."

He smiled, gesturing around the nearly empty airport, "And still, you looked."

She returned his smile, nodding as she hugged his free arm. "And still, I looked. A girl can hope."

Together they set off down the corridor. Towards the end of the hall, Jack suddenly pulled her into the secluded corner between the Men's and Women's restrooms. Setting down her bag, he pulled her into his arms.

"I missed you, lady."

"I missed you, too, Jack."

After a long moment, he pushed her away. Keeping both hands on her shoulders, he studied her face intently. Letting go of one arm, he reached up to gently trace the cut across her cheek.

She felt her heard skip a beat at the intensity in his expression. His eyes again met hers, concern mixed with anger and – worst of all – fear flashed within their depths.

She sought to reassure him, "I told you, I'm okay."

Still wordless, his hand slid to the back of her neck, pulling her face towards his. His mouth found hers in a deep kiss, thoroughly claiming her as his and acknowledging himself as hers in this private moment as they were prevented from doing in more public situations.

Finally, reluctantly, they broke the embrace.

"Oh, one more thing…" Jack said, smiling.

"What?"

Reaching up, he tugged the cap off his own head and slipped it onto hers.

"Jack! You're lucky hat. I can't."

"Please, Samantha. You don't have to wear it. But I'll feel better just knowing you have it with you."

She opened her mouth to protest further, but the pleading look in his deep brown eyes silenced her. Nodding wordlessly, she tucked herself into his willing arms for another embrace. Then, arm-in-arm, they headed out towards the airport doors, their car, and home.