8.

God the thought of it sent shudders through Jack, more than one of the evil bastard was bad enough, but versions that he couldn't recognise? THAT was what nightmares were made of. He made a note on the legal pad on his desk to check on the new security measures in the Hoover building, and see if they were any closer to finding out who had used the machine to try and hack into the SGC.

"Sir… General O'Neill…" Jack came back to himself with a start

"Sorry Barrett, what did you say?"

"I asked if you were sure the symbiote infecting Shanahan was Ba'al and not something, someone else?"

"I'll make a note to have him asked"

"Hows Sam… I mean Colonel Carter, taking the fact that her ex is infested?"

"She doesn't know as yet, and Malcolm…" he waited a second "She doesn't find out either, not yet"

"Why not sir? She could be a great help interrogating him, and she has a right to know, after all they were engaged"

"Barrett! I said she does not need to know, there's a chance we may not be able to remove it, would YOU like to see someone you cared for in that situation?" He flashed back to when he found out that Sam had been infected by Jolinar, even when he couldn't admit to anyone how he felt, it was almost as bad as losing Charlie. Though the feelings didn't run quite that deep back then, knowing she was lost, but still seeing her there in front of him, caused a special type of anguish.

Malcolm was quiet on the other end of the phone line, thinking about how he would react if it was someone he cared about, unfortunately the only person who he could think of to put in the lead role was Sam Carter, O'Neill was right, she may be better off not knowing.

"Where is Colonel Carter at the moment anyway, Sir? I've been meaning to get in touch with her ever since that Seattle deal, but being on full time surveillance of this snake has stopped me"

"She is busy working out how to make a bridge between realities at the moment" Jack told him, "I am sure she would love to hear from you"

"Oh?" Jack smiled at the lift in Malcolms voice, the hope that 'not exactly' may now be 'available'

"Tell you what, why don't you come around for dinner next time we can all get to the same city at the same time? I'll let her know you asked and see if she can arrange something"

"Erm, yes sir, I would love that," now the man was definitely puzzled wondering why Jack was making it a threesome.

"MICHAELS, GET MY WIFE ON THE PHONE WILL YOU!" Jack shouted, not covering the mouthpiece but moving it away slightly "I'll get her to call you Barrett, and keep an eye on that snake!"

He put the phone down, sniggering to himself as he pictured the agents face, serves him right for asking a married woman out on a date, Jack hated the fact that he couldn't shout it out across the whole world, but he knew Sam trusted the NID Agent, and he also knew that they were all scanned daily if on snake duty to make sure none of them were infected.

He frowned at the thought, it was too late, Ba'al, through Pete and Mark knew that Sam and he were married, luckily the system lords were not known for freely sharing the information.

"Colonel Carter on line two general" the intercom said, Jack shook himself again, damn it was catching, he was overthinking everything of late.

"Sam, all your visitors gone home yet?" They spoke for several minutes, and he had a laugh with her over Malcolms probable reaction, and then came the question he had been waiting for…

"Any word on Pete yet, Jack?"

"He seems to have dropped off the map love" he said, which was the truth at least, if not the whole truth

"I want to go home Jack, Derek and Michelle are home and have rung a couple of times to ask if everything is OK. I'm running out of toiletries as well and every time I ask Vala to get me some she brings back everything but the ones I want, she must have hundreds of different smells to chose from now!"

"Would you be terribly upset if I asked Teal'c to go with you love? I know you can look after yourself normally, but don't forget the force shield that stopped him being beamed out, he could have a zat, it looks like he may have been in contact with Ba'al in Seattle, it was about that time that he left the force" He held his breath slightly, glad she couldn't see his face, he had always prided himself on his 'poker' face, but she had learnt how to read every expression, and there was no way he could get away with the stunt he pulled back on Tollana nowadays, she would see straight through the deception.

"Ok Jack, I'll take our tame Jaffa with me… I suppose I better just water the plants and clear out the fridge, and then head back here, we don't want people thinking I'm having an affair with Teal'c" He relaxed a bit, and decided to get hold of the big man and Daniel and let them in on all that had happened in DC, to make sure they looked after her without worrying her, on second thoughts, maybe just Teal'c, Daniel easier to read than a primary school book!

As soon as he had put the phone down from her he rang Ts phone, and quickly filled him in on everything, Teal'c had a very interesting suggestion, threaten to use the symbiote poison to kill both Ba'al and Pete to get information, and that would mean that Jack would have to do it in person. Not many people could make a threat like that and make someone like Pete believe it, he was, after all, a cop and good at reading folk.

Jack left his wife in the warriors care and got hold of the president to arrange a visit to '51, getting the go ahead after a small discussion, after all Henry could see the point of knowing just how many 'Ba'al's there were out there. Jack then got hold of the security wing at '51, only to be told that the prisoner had been transferred to a NID base for further interrogation and had escaped, again a vital communication had gone astray and he had an eighteen hour head start!

Sam was wandering up and down the isles of her favourite drug store when Teal'c's phone rang, he fell behind by no more than 10 yards when she turned the corner and he heard the sound of a zat! "COLONEL CARTER!" he shouted, dropping his phone and causing Jacks heart to jump into his throat. Jack heard the discharge once again and his heart rate increased to an alarming speed. He shouted down the phone over and over, Michaels rushed in and in between shouts Jack filled him in, he rushed out to get the SGC and the Odyssey on the line a Jack continued to shout into his handset, hoping someone would hear him and pick up the phone Teal'c had dropped and answer his frantic questions.

It was a good two minutes before Teal'c came back to the phone, he had been zatted enough times over the years that it no longer made him unconscious, just stunned for a minute or so "O'Neill, I have failed you, Pete Shanahan has Colonel Carter"

Jack fell back into his chair a look of despair on his ashen face. He put his head into his hands and for the first time in years, tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Sir," Michaels burst into the room, and seeing the state his boss was in ground to a halt.

"He's got her" Came the soft voice, it sounded to the sergeant as if a ghost had whispered it, there was that much pain and sadness in the words that he could feel his own heart break.

"The Odyssey has them on the scanner sir, he can't disappear the same way this time, he would look odd walking through a shopping centre with an unconscious woman, and the Colonel is not likely to go quietly if she is awake, Sir," All Jack could think about was the threats that Pete/Ba'al had made, about making her a host and being physically intimate with her! He ground his teeth in his jaw so hard that the sergeant was afraid he may break them.

Less than 15 minutes later a dishevelled Sam appeared in a flash of bright light in Jacks office, it seemed that Pete/Ba'al had left her in the car when he went to open the door to a warehouse so he could drive in, and he travelled JUST far enough away from the vehicle that the shield stopping beaming didn't cover her.

Jack got up as quick as he could, with the cast still on his leg, and made it to her before the light of the beam had totally disappeared, he grabbed her and held her very tight.

"Jack! Let go! Jack! Need to breath!" he loosened his grip, but not by much, he buried his face in her shoulder, the tears running openly down his face and soaking her blouse, Michaels backed out of the office and started phoning people, Teal'c first, to let them know she was safe.

"Jack, Pete is a Goa'uld! We have to go get him, he told me that he was taking me to his base of operations, he must have meant that warehouse!" Jack did not seem to be listening to her, he just held her tight and focused on breathing in her scent, he knew his staff, the warehouse would be surrounded in no time, and so would Pete unless he gave them the slip once more. "Jack, are you listening to me? Jack?" Sam moved slightly and her leg brushed the cast on his. "Jack, what happened to your leg? Please love, talk to me. I'm OK, I'm here, please Jack"

He pulled himself together and limped back around his desk to his chair, dragging her with him and pulling her down on top of him as he seated himself.

"We know Pete is a Goa'uld, he has a Ba'al symbiote in him we think, and they will have the warehouse in a few minutes, and hopefully him too. We had him once, but he escaped,"

"You 'had him', what do you mean you HAD him? How long have you known Jack? Why didn't you tell me? What have you done to your leg?"

"Come on love, just sit down here and let me fill you in" It was a difficult conversation for both of them, he was trying to justify his actions, and she was hurt that she had not been told, it didn't matter that she had had other things to do, she had thought that they had put all the secrets behind them, she knew very well that it was not a question of trust, he trusted her, probably more than anyone else in the world. It was a question of protection, and while it may have thrilled her when he played alpha male, she was upset that he had known something like this for so long, and that he had not had her informed after the car crash. She felt a distance between them that had not been there before, and he felt it too.

His heart started to pound in his chest, this was how he had lost Sarah! God please don't let it happen again! He was trying to protect her, not drive her away! She saw the look of abject fear on his face, and realised what he was thinking… "Jack NO! You are not going to lose me over this, but we have to work it out. You cannot protect me like this, not when I have a job to do, and you especially can't keep me from your side just because it may be a bit dangerous. If you start like this you are going to end up stopping me going offworld, and I can't live in a cocoon! I won't! You didn't fall in love with me because I avoided danger, because I was safe and warm while you were risking your life! I was right there, next to you, we work as a team, not as a woman and her bodyguard"

He knew she was right. He had always been proud of how strong she was. How brave and clever, never stunned into immobility by their situation. He really should have told her before, he could have explained the trap to her, told her he was OK and guarded, that the danger of more than one possible Ba'al symbiote meant that she had to be on guard more. All the decisions he had made regarding the two of them over the last few weeks flew through his mind, and yet he could not honestly say that he would not do the same again, she was too precious to him! If he wanted to keep her, he had to allow her a freedom he didn't want her to have. She was watching him closely and saw him start to retreat from her. He was going to push her away, this time deliberately, give her freedom from HIM and his over protectiveness. She decided to act.

She got up and locked his door, and came back to him, she sat on his lap and started kissing him, "Don't you dare Jonathan O'Neill. You are NOT going to push me away. If you really love me you will learn, and change, as I will for you. I don't want to be free from you, I want to be stood shoulder to shoulder, or touching in any other way" she giggled a bit, moving her hands south, following the blood in his body, heading for one place. He groaned into her mouth as she nipped at his lips. He had no defence against this attack, and no matter what he had decided while he thought he was being rational, it all went out of the window as she got off his lap and knelt on the floor, unzipping his fly and popping the button on his uniform trousers.

Michaels tried the door to his bosses office, only to find it locked, he could hear them talking in low voices, and a slight giggle from the colonel. He looked at the report he had written on the pad, the capture of 5 men, Shanahan, a couple of FBI agents and one NID and someone unidentified as yet. He debated internally whether to use the intercom when he heard a low groan, and decided to wait a bit. He stood at attention exactly three feet from the door, making sure no one else got close enough to hear what was happening in the room.