Title: The Strength Within

Category: angst, romance, humor

Pairings: S/J

Summary: When characters are being stubborn, try putting them in mortal danger. Hopefully it will knock some sense into them.

Spoilers: Anything before the episode "Ex Deus Machina" is fair game

Disclaimer: Pure fun. Not written for fame or fortune so please don't sue.

Part 1: Storm's a-brewing

Sam checked her watch. The misty rain had been falling for almost 3 hours now. While Daniel and Teal'c where examining the obelisks and SG-4 was back at the gate keeping watch, she was traipsing through another off-world forest alongside her commanding officer. It was like hundreds she'd seen before.

Sam was miserable and it wasn't just the rain. They hadn't really been alone, just the two of them in a while. Well, there was always the distinct possibility that someone or something could jump out at them from the trees any moment. But until that happened, Sam was alone with Colonel O'Neill. And while typically it was a rare treat, the problem now was being alone with Colonel O'Neill in his current mood. He hadn't said more than three words to her since they started their trek checking the perimeter and searching for signs of life, or of trouble.

Sam was soaked, tired, and his glum silence wasn't helping the situation. Rain-soaked clothes and a gloomy O'Neill added together, equalled one very miserable Carter.

Finally out of the blue he spoke. "So, date tomorrow, huh?"

"What?" Sam was truly caught off-guard. She wondered if he had hit his head somewhere along the way and she hadn't noticed.

"Lancaster. Daniel said-"

"Oh, that," Sam replied quickly, "No."

Since both her and O'Neill were turned away from each other, surveying the brush on each side, Sam added a roll of her eyes. So this was what his grumpy mood was about.

Earlier that morning, O'Neill had walked in her lab just in time to observe Master Sergeant Lancaster bringing Sam a cup of coffee. By the time they were preparing to go off-world, Daniel was full-out teasing Sam about it, as usual. O'Neill overheard parts of Daniel's innuendos. Lancaster's little crush on Sam was well known on the base, but these kinds of things typically took longer to get to Jack O'Neill's ears.

"You know what they say, Carter." Jack waited a beat. "Birds do it, bees do it, even over-educated PhD's do it."

This time, she abandoned the survey of the trees and met his eyes, giving him a wry look.

"Sir, he's barely 20." Sam felt the need to point out. Just for starters.

O'Neill picked up the pace again, re-focusing on the task at hand. But he added lightly, "Maybe he's only lookin' for you to buy him beer."

Sam snored a little laugh. She fell in step with him again, glad that his mood seemed to lift a little. If only the rain would do the same.

"Sir, even if he is looking for more than beer, I'm not interested."

"No?" O'Neill's voice was guarded. "He seems to me exactly the type you'd go for. Young, smart, eager, and big beefy muscles."

Sam didn't want to dignify that with an answer. Either he was egging her on, or he was fishing, and Sam knew how much he liked the latter. But even if she wanted to answer, she never got the chance because their radios came alive.

"Jack." It was Daniel, sounding very excited. "These obelisks are amazing. Some of the etchings tell the history of this place. The first inhabitants and a second group, a newer culture of people that was brought to this place through the Circle of Pe'ty, had to learn to co-exist peacefully. Despite the fact that the new inhabitants had some kind of technology, I'm guessing weapons of some sort. I haven't determined yet how advanced they were."

"Yeah, OK, Daniel. Get to your point."

"We have to stay and study this."

"Fine," Jack groaned. "24 hours, that's all we're allowed."

"I'll need a few days." Daniel started to argue with almost a whine to his voice, "at least."

"Well then I suggest you shut up and get as much done as you can. O'Neill out."

Jack turned and motioned for Carter to follow. It seemed they had better establish camp for the night.

If Jack thought Sam looked miserable before, now that they were staying on this wet planet for the full extent of the mission, she seemed to sink further into herself. She hated being wet. Muddy, dirty, bleeding, those Sam Carter didn't bat an eyelash at. But being wet turned her usually sunny disposition to downright dismal. Plus, to bring in all the extra equipment on this mission, they'd opted to leave out the tents as they often did.

O'Neill silently cursed Daniel for finding something. He hated having to do this to all of them. It would be so much better to just get home and get dry. Sitting in front of the fireplace, curled in a blanket, she would be all warm and soft snuggled up against…. Whoa.

Time to turn those thoughts around, Jack ordered himself. Glancing a side-ways look at Carter, he tried to determine if she was smart enough to read his mind. If she were, she'd probably have hit him by now.

O'Neil sighed. He'd gotten pretty good at not allowing the thoughts and fantasies to interfere when they were in the field over the years. It was mostly just when he was alone, especially at night. Lancaster wasn't the only one with a crush. But he was the lucky SOB that was allowed to actually do something about it.

Daniel found abandoned buildings not far from the stone obelisks. The dwellings had shoji screened rooms. Jack took pity on all of them having been in the rain for hours. He ordered the SGC team members to take advantage of having shelter for the night, out of the weather.

It was the middle of the night, the storm and wind had picked up. Sam could hear heavy rain on the roof. But even though the shelter was a blessing in one way, she was also cursing it. If only there had been regular walls, she wouldn't be in her current predicament. The screen's design being thin, frail, and opaque meant the rooms were hardly private and she could see the shadow of O'Neill on the other side.

Sam had awoken several minutes before due to sounds. O'Neill seemed to be disturbed, and she became worried. She stood weapon ready, about to draw back the screen and attack whatever creature was on the other side. But just then, Jack rolled onto his back.

The shadows on the screen made it perfectly clear what he was doing, his hand moved up and down rhythmically at his pelvis. Sam gasped and froze.

Jack moaned and whispered, "Carter."

Her heart began to pound with realization, he was thinking of her while he was… doing that.

Sam scrunched her eyes closed, trying to block the image. But just as O'Neill seemed to be reaching a crescendo, he grunted, "Sam," loudly. Sam's eyes flew open.

Daniel, Teal'c, and a member of SG-4 were at the screens to Sam's room within seconds.

Sam knew she was the only thing standing between O'Neill and mortification. It was bad enough that she knew, but at least others didn't have to know. Sam stopped Daniel as he started to slide her screen open. They would have to go through her room to get to the Colonel's room, and she decided to do anything to stop them.

"He's fine, Daniel, just a nightmare."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Daniel also seemed a little skeptical.

"You're sure?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah," Sam whispered, "he was mumbling in his sleep something about Charlie. I'll check on him. You guys go back to sleep, we've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

Daniel agreed, "Yeah, OK."

Sam closed the screen, crossed the room, and slowly slid the next screen open. It revealed O'Neill sound asleep on his back, fly open.

Sam considered closing the screen and going back to sleep, but she was worried that others wouldn't heed her advice, that they would come back anyway and check on the Colonel.

Sam crossed to his side, knelt down and whispered into his ear, "Sir, you um, might want to-"

O'Neill turned in his sleep and rolled Sam underneath him.

"Carter," he said groggily while nuzzling her neck. "Forgive me, I have to have you again." His tone was very different from any other she'd ever head him use: soft, sincere, warm, and very sleepy.

Sam desperately fought her body's natural reaction to his words and the hot, hungry kisses along her neck. If circumstances were any different…


But he didn't seem to hear her.

"Jack, you have to wake up. Sir!"

Suddenly his eyes flew open and he looked at her. It was one of those juxtaposition moments they often had. Only centimeters separated them but when their eyes met, it seemed like the Grand Canyon was between them.

It all dawned on him. "Oh, God." He backed away from her like she was a Goa'uld.

Jack saw the sticky mess all over the front of himself and knew that the dream he was having wasn't only a dream. He had fallen asleep thinking about Carter in the next room, a tiny screen between them, and it had obviously played with his mind.

She was wearing clothes, so at least that part must have been a dream. But the rest… Jack wanted to hide.

"Oh, God." He said again for good measure, sounding wounded, and turned away from her.

"Sir, really I only-"

"Don't!" He cut her off. "Just don't. Don't say anything at all. Go."

"Sir, I think if we just-"

His voice took on an edge of anger. "I said go, Major, that was an order."

Sam stiffened. "Yes, sir."

He went the opposite way. Outside, Sam assumed, to find the rain bucket and clean himself up.

She didn't get much sleep the remainder of the night. The next morning, O'Neill pretended as if nothing had happened. He ordered the units around dispassionately all day. After being so desperate to get home yesterday, O'Neill almost seemed happy to delay it as long as possible today. Finally, as nightfall came, he ordered everyone through the gate.

"But," Daniel protested, "at least let me have a look at the markings on the other stones SG-4 found this morning."

"Another time, Daniel. There are more important things going on than your little scratches in stone."

After they stepped through the gate, General Hammond greeted them. They were given a clean bill of health from the infirmary and had some time to shower, change, and grab something to eat from the mess before the debrief, which was quick and to the point. Daniel would go back with SG-11 in two weeks to further investigate the obelisks and other structures they found.

"Sir, a moment." Jack requested of the General, following the debrief.

Once in his office, Jack took a seat and seemed to search for the right words to begin. Just then, Sam knocked on the office door.

"Major Carter," General Hammond said, "come back in a few minutes."

Sam risked, "No, Sir."

Hammond turned his head suspiciously. He got up and opened the door, half-considering reaming her out, half-worried there was a crisis. Why else would the normally by-the-rules-Major Carter interrupt?

"Sir, I believe what I have to say relates to why Colonel O'Neill is here."

Jack wouldn't look up. "Carter, I think you should go."

"Did you tell him yet?" She asked cryptically.

Hammond asked, "Tell me what?" Looking between his two officers.

Sam answered, "It's nothing, we had a little misunderstanding on P2X-577. It's nothing that the Colonel and myself can't handle once we have a moment to talk."

Hammond looked as if he were waiting.

Sam clarified, "In private, Sir."

General Hammond gave a curt nod. Grateful that whatever it was, it was one less thing he had to handle. "Dismissed."

"Carter," Jack started in, following her into the now empty briefing room. "I appreciate what you're trying to do here. But-"

"Not here." Sam hissed, lowering her voice. "This is a conversation to have off-base. Mel's Bar in an hour."

She walked off without giving Jack a chance to respond.