It had been a long day. Sure, the rebel Jaffa his team had been meeting with were technically friendly, but that didn't mean their talks had been trouble-free. In fact, if there were one aspect of his job as SG-1 leader Jack O'Neill truly despised it was these types of negotiations. Besides, given the recent problems between the Jaffa and the Tok'ra at the Alpha site – not to mention to occasional Goa'uld assassin – he could hardly blame these guys for wanting to remain relatively independent.

Still, he was exhausted and had had about as much as he could take. And this celebration the Jaffa were throwing supposedly in SG-1's honor was doing nothing to improve his mood. Loud and discordant drum beats weren't really his idea of dance music, though it was clearly a cultural thing, since the Jaffa dancing in the space before the fire seemed to be having no such problem. In fact, a growing number of couples seemed to be having quite a good time.

Jack couldn't resist glancing over to where Carter was sitting on a nearby log next to Jonas. From the animated conversation between the two of them, she clearly had plenty of energy left despite the long day behind them….

As if sensing his gaze, she looked towards him suddenly, her smile growing momentarily brighter as their eyes met. An answering smile tugged up the corner of his own mouth. Sam looked away almost immediately, glancing towards the fire and the dancers while continuing to speak with Jonas. Jack's eyes followed the direction of her glance, out towards the dancers. Bad idea. The music had slowed, and the dancing couples were now locked tightly in each others arms, swaying to the music. Jack found himself imagining what it would be like to hold her in his arms, pull her against his chest, feel her relax into him…

He looked quickly away, and out of the corner of his eye saw that she had done the same. Even in the firelight he could see the slow flush which spread across her features as she turned her attention back to Jonas.

Crap. He wasn't supposed to look at her like that. To have those kinds of thoughts. To give her those kinds of thoughts. It wasn't fair to her. More importantly, it wasn't safe for her. Things were just so… difficult. Groaning to himself, he shut his eyes to free himself of the sight of her. He forced another image to replace that of her sitting before him, lit by the fire, eyes bright as she looked across at him --

Another place and another time, but those same eyes. Her eyes -- only not her. Her body -- only not hers. His two shots left it an empty shell, hooked up to everything and the kitchen sink, kept going by technology alone…

Resolve hardened, he opened his eyes. This time when she looked at him and smiled, he managed to keep from smiling -- managed to nod curtly, the perfect CO. Her smile died almost as quickly as it had formed, but the hurt left behind was nothing compared to the pain he knew he could cause her. This pain he could live with. And she sure as hell could.

But he'd be damned before he'd spend the night in that tent the Jaffa had prepared for his team. Lying right next to her, too impossibly close to be so impossibly far away. He'd been there before, staring up into the dark, hearing each breath and each rustle of her bedroll in the night, knowing she was less than an arm's reach away. Imagining how it would feel to pull her towards him, her blonde head beneath his chin, her back warm against his chest, his arm draped across her shoulder, holding her as they both slept….

He stood up suddenly, having made his decision. He crossed to Carter and Jonas. "Guys, I'm gonna go see what Teal'c's up to." When Carter moved as if to join him, he waved her back down. "No, stay here. You kids have fun." And, with a final wave over his shoulder, he headed in the direction his Jaffa friend had taken a few minutes earlier.

Jack had trouble finding Teal'c in the maze of the Jaffa encampment. However, others didn't seem to have his problem.

"Oh, Colonel O'Neill," a feminine voice called from behind him.

Oh, crap. He knew that voice. Turning towards its owner, he tried to smile. "Hey, My'ra."

"Hello, Colonel O'Neill." The female Jaffa glided towards him, slender hips swaying in an obvious attempt at seduction.

Oh, crap. For once, his instincts had served him well, and he hadn't been imagining the looks she had been casting him all day over the negotiating table. Or maybe it was the looks a certain blonde Air Force Major had been shooting her back in return… Either way, she was clearly after him now and the last thing he needed was another complication. She reached towards him, rubbing his arm. He tried to back up, and her arm closed around him.

Oh. Crap.


Samantha Carter really did want to pay attention to Jonas as he talked, but out of the corner of her eye she couldn't help but watch Colonel O'Neill leave the campfire and head after Teal'c. Unfortunately, that meant she didn't miss when My'ra, who had set her sights on the Colonel much earlier that day, followed after him.

Damn. Not that she cared. It wasn't really her business. He'd made that abundantly clear more often than she cared to remember. And as recently as a few moments earlier. But still. Damn.

She tried to turn her attention back to Jonas, who was discussing… what? Was Jack talking to that woman? She could barely see them where they stood together across the campfire through the narrow opening in the tents.

"Sam?" Jonas asked, catching her attention again. "What do you think?"

"What?" He glanced in the direction she'd been looking, to where the Colonel and My'ra were still talking. His smile was too gentle when he looked back at her. "Look, Sam…"

She smiled at him, giving him her full attention. She didn't want him to get the wrong idea. "It's okay, Jonas. I just wanted to make sure the Colonel didn't need our help."

Jonas's expression made it clear he did not believe her. "Uh-huh."

"Really. You were saying…" What was it? Oh, that nurse… "You weren't sure about whether you should ask her out. Right?" He nodded, and she continued, "We have an old Earth saying, Jonas. 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'"

"Yes… but… Do you think—"

Despite herself, she couldn't help chuckling at his hopeful expression. "I think, Jonas, if you don't ask, you'll never know."

Her companion looked thoughtful for a moment before his face broke into a smile. "Thanks, Sam. When we get back – as soon as I get a chance – I'll ask her."

She couldn't help smiling at his enthusiasm, even though she'd heard him make the exact same declaration half-a-dozen times in the past. "Great, Jonas. You'll let me know—" Her attention was suddenly diverted by movement in the direction the Colonel had last been headed. Sam instinctively looked towards it, but it wasn't Jack. Instead, it was several Jaffa she didn't recognize coming to join the celebration. The space between the tents was now empty. There was no sign of either the Colonel of that Jaffa woman who had been stalking him all day.

Which could just mean he had managed to escape and was on his way to find Teal'c. Or it could mean…

"Sam?" Jonas asked softly. That concerned look was back on his face.

"I'm okay, really." Really. Really. "I'm just a bit tired. It's been a long day." He continued to stare at her, his concern evident. She couldn't handle it anymore. "Look, Jonas. You stay here, have fun. The Colonel said something about cake… I think I'm going to turn in early."

"You sure?"

She nodded, attempting a smile. "Sure. I'll be fine."

"Okay…" he still sounded doubtful, but at least he was no longer arguing. "Have a good sleep, Sam."

This time, touched by his concern, her smile was genuine, "Thanks, Jonas. See you later." And, standing up, she headed away from the celebration and towards SG-1's temporary tent quarters.

She didn't fall asleep right away, of course, but lay in the dark listening to the noises of the party around her, refusing to imagine what else might be going on out there in the dark. Just because she had been unable to move on, to successfully keep her feelings 'in the room' and in the past where they belonged didn't mean she was deluded enough to believe a man like the Colonel didn't -- But that was really none of her business.

Sam was still awake, though she pretended to sleep, when Jonas stumbled in many hours later and, still later, when Teal'c came in, lighting his candles to Kel'no'rim in the company of his sleeping friends. When, later yet, exhausted, she finally managed sleep, Jack's bedroll still lay empty next to her. And she refused to care.