AN: NC-17 version available at helio2. Same author, same title.

Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter and Doctor Daniel Jackson left the briefing room together. Sam's arm still smarted slightly where Cameron Mitchell had slapped the SG-1 patch back into place, although, if she were being honest with herself, the physical sensation was long gone. The emotional sting, however, remained.

Daniel, who understood the personal cost of Sam's rejoining SG-1, was watching her face intently as they moved down the hall. "Sam, you okay?"

She smiled sadly at him, touched by his concern. "I will be. It's just – you know."

"Yeah. Is he okay?"

That was the real question, wasn't it? She knew Daniel had been wanting to ask for days. Now was as good a time as any, she supposed. "Yeah. He's not happy about it, but he understands." Jack's exact words had actually been, 'When you're married to a national treasure you can't expect to have her all to yourself,' but his attempt at a smile had done a terrible job of hiding his pain. She understood him too well for that.

"The good news is," Daniel began, smiling as he changed the subject, "I'm pretty sure General Landry just ordered us to go to Washington!"

"Yeah!" This time, Sam's excitement wasn't faked. "Pretty cool, huh? And, if you don't want a hotel room, I know a guest bedroom you can stay in."

"Oh, I wouldn't want to intrude. You know, three's a crowd –"

She hit him playfully on the arm. "Daniel, not you. Never. I'm sure he'll be happy to have you."

"Sure." Daniel was clearly not sure. "Although when you show up, he probably won't even notice little ol' me."

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As it turned out, Daniel's prediction was correct, at least for the first fifteen minutes or so after they'd arrived at the Pentagon.

Sam had the Prometheus beam them straight into the Department of Homeworld Security's anti-chamber. General O'Neill's secretary, Sergeant Bourne, was expecting the two arrivals.

"Welcome to the Pentagon," he said as soon as they had orientated themselves to their new surroundings, "You're here to see General O'Neill?"

"Not exactly," Sam explained, "But I thought we'd check in with him before our other business."

"Yes, ma'am." Bourne was a bit confused by this unusual request, but he knew better than to argue with an officer. Long practice allowed him to quickly gather Sam's identity from her blue dress uniform, but he had to ask while reaching for the intercom, "It's Lieutenant Colonel Carter and--?"

Sam ignored the hint. "Is the general alone?"

"Yes, ma'am. He's doing paperwork."

Sam looked at Daniel and smiled. "Then we'll just duck in there and say 'Hi'."

"Ma'am, I can't allow that, there are rules and proce—" He didn't know who this light colonel thought she was, but at the Pentagon, you had to be a full bird just to make the coffee. She was barely qualified to shine the general's shoes.

Daniel cut off the flow of words. He leaned across the front of the desk and asked, "Sergeant, how about this once you just ignore those rules, okay? If the general has any problems, I'm sure he'll realize you can't be blamed for the actions of a superior officer. Right?"

Samantha, however, was not there to hear the sergeant's response. She had already stepped behind Daniel and into General O'Neill's office, closing the door firmly behind her.

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"Hey, general."

Major General Jack O'Neill looked up with a quick start at the familiar voice so unexpectedly in his office. His smile spread uncontrollably from ear-to-ear as he tried, unsuccessfully, to sound casual, "Hey, colonel. Whatcha doin' here?"

"Can I borrow your phone?" It was the last thing he expected, and it threw him off completely.

He shook his head, blinking in confusion. "Phone, Carter?"

"Yup. General Landry wants me to coordinate with the NID on this whole Ba'al incident, and as I knew someone here whose phone I could borrow…."

He actually laughed when he repeated, "Phone, Carter? I've never heard it called that before. But sure, yeah, anytime." He waved her towards the phone on his desk.

Jack O'Neill was in a very good mood. It was all Sam could do to keep her face straight. She walked around to the front of his desk and perched on the front edge. She swiped his hand away as he playfully reached for her, "No! Phone call…"

Forced to look but not touch, Jack's eyes followed her every move. The hem of her uniform skirt slowly slid up her thigh as she sat to reveal just a hint of the lace-edged thigh highs beneath. She slowly reached across his desk for the phone, her jacket tightening across her breast centimeters from his appreciative gaze. Samantha punched a number into the phone and, with a toss of the head necessary to flip her hair away, put the receiver to her ear.

Jack attempted several more times to reach for her while she waited for a response, but she slapped his advances away. "Hello, Agent Barrett?" She asked into the phone when the other end of the line was finally picked up after several rings. With her thus distracted, Jack managed to push past her defenses. Strong hands met soft skin, the contact electric. One hand brushed the hem of her skirt, fingers teasing the lacy elastic beneath. The other slipped behind her head, exposing the smooth flesh of her neck to his lips and teeth.

"Colonel Carter?" Malcolm Barrett asked from the other end of the phone connection.

"Yeah. Hi Malcolm. It's Sam." Sam hoped Malcolm wouldn't notice the slight catch in her breath as Jack's hand moved from her neck down her back, slipping underneath jacket and blouse to gently rub the small of her back. "Listen, General Landry asked me to coordinate with you in finding Ba'al."

"We've got teams searching for him at this very minute, Sam. Still haven't turned up any solid leads, though. Sorry."

Sam might have felt sorry herself if Jack's hand hadn't roamed still further beneath her skirt. "Uh, that's fine. Listen, Malcolm, Daniel and I are here in DC already. Why don't you give me a call on my cell if anything turns up?"

It was rather hard to tell for certain with Jack nibbling her other ear and his hands busy beneath her clothing, but she was fairly certain Barrett's next question had something to do with her and Daniel joining him for dinner. "Um… No, that's okay. We've actually already made plans."

"Oh, okay." Even she couldn't miss the disappointment in his voice. "Well, I'll see you later then, I guess."

"Okay, later Malcolm," Then fairly rudely, though she hadn't the presence of mind to realize it at the time, Samantha hung up the phone. Thus freed, she was finally able to devote her full attention to the attractive and terribly distracting man who had been demanding it so thoroughly.

Several long minutes later, Major General Jack O'Neill and Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter stepped from his office. Everything was once again tucked into its proper place and presentable, and even if Daniel Jackson noticed the slight flush to his friends' faces, he wisely decided that some observations were best left unmade.

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Jack and Daniel sat side by side on the sofa in Jack's DC apartment. While they waited for Sam to finish getting ready for dinner, Daniel looked around the apartment appraisingly. "I would have thought you could have afforded someplace a little bigger, now that you're a major general and all."

"Hasn't Carter told you about the house?"

"House?"

"Yeah. Back when — you know, when she was still at Area 51 -- we bought a farmette outside of town. We're renovating the farmhouse." Jack raised his eyebrows and smiled significantly before adding, "Lots of bedrooms."

"Really? And now…?"

Jack looked the younger man directly in the eyes. "The future won't be put off forever, Daniel."

Daniel smiled. It was nice to see his friend so happy. "Good. You guys deserve it."

Jack laughed, "That's what the president said." A noise coming from the direction of the bathroom made both men turn. Daniel could see the expression on Jack's face grow suddenly serious as he looked in his wife's direction. He turned back to the younger man. "Daniel. Tell me the truth. How is she doing?"

"Sam? She's…" he paused for a moment, the sincerity of Jack's expression refusing a simple answer. "I think, more than anything, she's worried about you. How you're handling her coming back. She knows you, Jack." Daniel peered intently into his friend's face. "It's got to be killing you, letting her come back, not being able to be there for her yourself."

Typically, Jack tried to make light of his concern. "Well, last year…"

Daniel cut him off. "That wasn't the same, and you know it. She knows it. You were still at the SGC, immediately available, even if you weren't offworld with us. Now, everything is different."

"Yeah." Jack looked back towards the bathroom, the hint of a smile crossing his features. "But not all change is bad." Turning suddenly back to his friend, he added, as serious as Daniel had ever seen him, "Look out for her, Daniel."

Daniel smiled. "Promise."

"Ready?" Sam interrupted the two men from where she stood behind the sofa. Daniel wasn't sure how much of their conversation she had overheard, but he suspected it had been enough.

"Waiting for you," Jack replied, getting to his feet. "Daniel?"

Daniel stood to join his friends, and their talk moved to the more mundane topic of Italian or seafood for dinner as they left the apartment together.

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The next morning when Agent Barrett called Sam to let her know the NID had managed to locate Ba'al, all he got was her voicemail. She was in the shower at the time, and when she reached for the curtain to get out and check her voicemail, strong arms grabbed her waist and dragged her back under the water. "But it could be Agent Barrett with news on…"

Jack's body slid tantalizingly against hers as he pulled her into his wet embrace. He bent down, whispering into her ear to be heard above the spray of the water. "The rest of the world can wait, Samantha O'Neill. For the next thirty minutes, you're still mine." His hands slid lower as he spoke, cupping and lifting her to him, emphasizing his words with his need. Her legs circled his waist, and for the next few minutes at least, they belonged completely to each other.

Daniel and Sam arrived at Ba'al's location nearly an hour after the NID agent, but they hadn't missed anything important. When, sometime later, Malcolm Barrett delved too deeply into her personal life, Sam tried to be gentle. Unfortunately, the best part of her was still back in the shower with Jack, and when she thought about the conversation later, she was afraid she'd done a terrible job of putting poor Malcolm down easy.