Risks and Rewards

Genre: Romance/General
Spoilers: Upgrades, Divide and Conquer, Grace

Summary: Sam wakes up with a new lover, only to be interrupted.
Season: Season 7, just after Grace.
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate or anything related to it.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Note: Sam/Jack fans may object.
Special thanks to my beta Amaranth Traces. Go check out her stories. They're better.

Samantha Carter woke up slowly, pleased to be in her own bed and not in a sleeping bag on some lumpy stretch of alien landscape or, God forbid, alone and injured on the Prometheus. She felt good, very good, and for a moment she was puzzled as to why.

She stretched and brushed up against the warm body wrapped around her. Memories of the previous evening came flooding back. She'd never invited a man back to her place after an evening at O'Malley's before. It had always seemed like too much of a risk, though she was glad she'd taken the risk last night.

The team and a few others from the SGC had gone out to celebrate her recovery. She'd stayed long after the rest of them, playing pool and responding shamelessly to the flirting of her surprisingly skilled opponent. She probably should be embarrassed, but all she could think about was how good she felt. She turned into her lover's arms, reveling in the feel of his skin on hers.

Perhaps it was her movement, or maybe it was the light lines Sam was tracing on his chest and shoulder, but the handsome man in her bed soon stirred and tightened his arms around her. He cracked open one eye. "Good mor-mmph" was all he managed as her lips took his in a passionate kiss. It didn't take long for him to respond, and the kiss deepened until they were both gasping for breath.

"Good morning." Sam grinned as she let him pull her on top of his body. She bent down and kissed him again, feeling him pull her even closer. "So, what are your plans for today?"

"Well, I seem to have made love to this beautiful Air Force Major, and I was thinking of doing it again. Possibly twice."

"Hmm," she traced her thumb across the curve of his lips. "Excellent idea."

"I thought so." He pulled her head back down to his, and they lost themselves in each other for several minutes. His mouth had just found her breast when the doorbell rang. He tilted his head back, resting it on the pillow. "Whatever it is, we don't want any."

Sam shook her head, caressing a hand down his bare hip, "Already have everything I need right here." She bent back down over him.

The doorbell rang again, followed by a loud knocking. Sam dragged her lips away from her lover, "God, go away!"

A voice filtered in from outside. "Carter!"

Sam bolted upright. The man she straddled groaned, "You have got to be kidding."

"Carter! I know you're in there. I see both your car and your bike sitting out here. Answer the door. I need to talk to you."

Sam dragged herself out of the bed with a sigh and reached for her robe. There'd be no getting rid of the Colonel unless she spoke to him. Why he had to come here today of all days was beyond her.

Her lover sat up. "Do you want me to-?"

"No!" Even she was surprised by her vehemence. She lowered her voice and fastened her robe. "No. Just stay here. I'll get rid of him."

He nodded, and lay back down. Sam gazed at him for a moment longer, and then closed the door to her bedroom behind her.

Dragging a hand through her mussed hair, she scuttled down the hallway, picking up the discarded clothing trailed along it. She stuffed the clothes into the hall closet and scanned her living room for any other telltale signs. She paused to straighten up a couple of photo frames on the wall near the entrance, suppressing a blush as she remembered how they'd been knocked askew.

Sam drew a deep breath, ensured that her robe was on straight and opened the front door. "Sir, what are you doing here?"

Jack O'Neill's eyes traveled down her form and back up again, undoubtedly taking in her current state of undress. "Uh, hey Carter. Did I wake you? Usually you're hard at work by," he glanced down at his watch, "1100 hours."

"It's my day off, sir. I'm allowed to sleep in on my days off."

He blinked, and she realized her tone may have been harsher than she'd intended. "Of course you are. I need to talk to you. Can I come in?"

"This really isn't the best time, sir."

"It'll just take a minute."

Reluctantly, she opened the door wider and stepped back. The Colonel smiled a thank you and went into the living room. He sat down. She didn't.

"I want to talk to you about this- this thing we have."

"This thing?"

The Colonel sighed. "Yes, this thing. Can you sit down, please? This is hard enough as it is."

Sam sat on the couch opposite him, adjusting her robe for the sake of modesty. "You're going to have to be more specific. What thing are we talking about?" Maybe if she was obtuse for long enough he'd forget all about it and go away.

"Oh, for crying out loud. This thing where we care too much for each other. You know, gets us into trouble with arm bands, Zatarc testers, military regulations."

Guess not. Could this conversation have come at a worse time? Sam glanced over the Colonel's shoulder toward her bedroom. "Sir, I-"

"Just hear me out, would ya?"

"Um, alright."

"Good then. I, uh, I did a lot of thinking while you were trapped in that gas cloud. It hurt that you were out there and there was nothing I could do. Daniel thought to have us check gates near your route, which gave us something, but we all knew it was useless.

"I realized how much I cared about you while you were gone. But I also realized something else. Nothing would ever work between us."

She knew that, of course, but his saying it surprised her. "Sir?"

"Even if the regulations didn't exist or if one of us resigned, it just wouldn't work. Not in the long term. You need someone who would truly appreciate that brain of yours, who could be enamored with your technobabble. I need someone I can relax with, who can appreciate the simple things in life. Someone who can take a vacation." He smiled at her gently. "Let's face it, we'd drive each other crazy within a few months."

His argument was sound. Of course, she had come to the same conclusion herself not long ago. After hearing it come from him though, Sam wasn't sure whether to be hurt or amused. She settled on amused. It seemed more fitting, given the circumstances. "Are you dumping me, Colonel?"

He winced. "Uh, I was going more for letting you down easy. Not that there's anything for you to be let down from. We need to get past these feelings, Carter." Actually, what 'Carter' really needed to do was keep her face straight. Hurting his feelings was the last thing she wanted. She won her inner battle in time to hear him continue, "They're holding you back from something that could be great."

Okay, that last part was confusing. "Excuse me?"

"Look, Carter…Sam. I've known for a while that I'm not the only one that has…inappropriate feelings for you. I don't think he'll ever tell you, but you should know."

"Know what?" A mischievous thought struck her. She couldn't resist. "You're not saying that Teal'c loves me?"

"Er, no. At least I don't think so." He looked uncomfortable at the idea, but his face cleared quickly. "How do you feel about Daniel?"

That was the last thing she'd expected him to say. "Daniel?"

"You know. Daniel. 'Bout 6 feet tall, glasses, way too smart, talks too much?"

"Uh, he's my best friend, sir."

"There you go. That's what he always says about you, too. But I know he cares a lot more for you than that."

Sam leaned back in the couch. "Did he tell you that?"

The Colonel frowned. "Well, no, not in so many words. But I'm not an idiot, you know. I just play one on T.V." He smiled briefly, and then sighed. "While you were stuck on Prometheus, Daniel scrambled for something – anything – he could do to help you. He was so relieved when you got back. The party last night was his idea, you know. And you should have seen the way he was looking at you."

He shook his head. "The problem is that he will never tell you how he feels, Carter. Daniel is a brave man. Hell, he's probably the bravest man I know, but he's a coward when it comes to opening up. He just can't deal with emotional vulnerability."

'And you can?' she almost asked, but held it back when it occurred to her that that was exactly what he was doing. Instead she shook her head. "Daniel's always been open with me." Well, relatively speaking, anyway.

"Not about this. He's afraid to risk your friendship on the chance that you could have something more. Something he desperately wants." He paused for a moment, then smiled again, "He's going to string me up when he finds out I've told you this."

Sam sighed. "Yes, I imagine he will."

"Well, it's worth the risk if I can see him happy, if I can see you both happy. He loves you, Carter. He cares for you far more deeply than I ever could, and he's a much better fit." The Colonel stood up and headed towards the door. Sam didn't follow him, and he turned back around to face her. "Just think about it. Any problems it might cause for the team can be worked out. It would be good for both of you." And with that, he left.

Sam sat on the couch for a few more minutes, staring at the door the Colonel had just left through. That had been…unexpected. She'd examined her feelings for him closely while she'd been on the Prometheus. She had come to the conclusion that although she found her CO to be attractive and she cared for him deeply, he was a safety net. Nothing could ever happen between them, and allowing herself to believe she loved him had prevented her from having to risk loving someone else. She was very proud of herself for figuring that out, though she should really credit her hallucinatory father and commanding officer for the revelation. She didn't know why it surprised her so much that the real Colonel had figured it out too.

It had been that revelation that had finally allowed her to risk bringing her guest home last night. A guest, she realized with a start, who was still waiting in her bedroom. Naked. She grinned and made her way back to him.

He was sitting up, his back propped up against the headboard, the sheets bunched at his waist. He turned to look at her as she entered. "I was beginning to think I'd been abandoned permanently." He hesitated, looking down into his lap, "So, uh, what did he want?"

Sam smiled, and sat down on the edge of the bed. "He came to tell me that my best friend is in love with me."

That brought his eyes back up to hers. "He said that?"

"He said 'Daniel will never tell you how he feels, he's afraid he'll lose your friendship.' I believe the word coward may have been mentioned."

He sighed, and turned his head to gaze out the window. There was a faint smile on his lips, though none in his voice. "Jack always did underestimate me."

She cupped his cheek in her hand and turned his head until he was looking at her again. "He might, but I never do. I know you too well and I love you too much." She brushed her thumb across his lips once more, and watched the emotion in his clear blue eyes turn from irritation to desire. His mouth parted into a sultry smile, leaving her no choice but to lean into him for a kiss.

He drew back after a moment. "You do realize I'm going to have to kill him for spilling my secret to you?"

"He seems to be aware of that. He's probably already planning his escape through the gate."

He slid back down to lie on the bed and pulled Sam with him, rapidly relieving her of her robe. "I'll have to let him get a bit of a head start. There's something I promised to do first."



"You promised to do it twice."

Daniel grinned, a beautiful sight as far as Sam was concerned. He rolled over so that she was under him, and brought his lips down to hers. "Yes ma'am!"