Sam had never felt this sick to her stomach in her whole life. Not even when Niirti almost turned her into a puddle.

Dinner with Jack had been great. Better than great. He looked so good. It really shouldn't be legal for him to wear his dress blues.

They'd laughed the entire time and he had demanded that the sirs and Carter's be left at the office. If it wasn't for the feeling that she could retch at any moment, the night would have been perfect.

Jack could tell something was up. He never asked, thank god. He would look at her every once in a while in a way that clearly asked, 'Are you okay?' to which she would smile brightly and put across as much as possible, 'I'm fine. Great even.' Which was mainly true. But Sam had a determined goal tonight. She was going to confess everything. And dear god, she was terrified.

Jack had invited her back to his place for a beer and to let her see the place, as she'd never been. Sam had been hoping that he would ask. She really didn't want to do this in public.

"So, this is the place. It's not much, and it's definitely not home, but it works."

"This is nice, sir."

Jack sighed. "Sam, am I gonna have to be telling you not to call me sir twenty years from now?"

She giggled. "Sorry. It's a really hard habit to break."

"I can tell. Have a seat. I'll grab us some beers."

After trying to decide whether she should sit on the armchair or sit on the couch where she would be closer to Jack, Sam chose the armchair. I can do this. Confess 9 years worth of emotions over a beer. Sure. What's the problem?

Jack came back into the room and handed her her beer. She was glad to be able to hold something so she would stop wringing her hands together.

"I'm just gonna go get out of this monkey suit. Be right back."

She waved him off. Yes, go get out of those dress blues. Maybe I'll be able to think a little clearer.

When he came back out in a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans, all thoughts of thinking clearer went out the window. Damn. He still looked really hot.

Practically falling back on his couch, Jack popped the top off his beer and smiled, looking completely relaxed. And just seeing him like that calmed her. God, she loved that man. Suddenly, she wasn't so afraid to start this conversation.

"I realized something the other day."

He looked over at her.

"What's that?"

One deep breath. Nope, can't look at him when I say this. "I broke the most important rule."

Needing to see his face, Sam corrected, "No, I broke our most important rule."

He raised his eyebrows and cocked his head slightly to the side in a motion for her to continue.

"I left you behind."

He looked confused. Or maybe like he wanted her to think he was confused.

Letting out a breath, he started, "Carter..."

"I wasn't finished."

Shock would be a good way to describe his face now. It wasn't very often that she asserted herself like that with him.

Sam stared at his coffee table for a few moments, collecting her thoughts. Without raising her eyes, she continued. "I convinced myself that I didn't love you. That I was using you as an excuse to not have a life. Then when Janet…" she stopped, the lump in her throat preventing her from continuing. "When Janet died and you got hurt, I realized how stupid that was for me to assume. I was so scared that you had died that I couldn't even breathe. I almost broke up with Pete after that. But, then, I still couldn't have you. I knew there would always be something. I was content in knowing that I had been able to have a feeling so strong for you, even if I couldn't share it with you. And I was content with Pete." Angry tears welled up in her eyes but she refused to let them fall. "I was so selfish. With both of you. I hurt you when you were the last person I would ever want to, and I hurt him by not being able to feel for him half as much as I felt for you." Finally looking up at him, she didn't try to read his expression. He was still hiding whatever he was feeling underneath the mask and she was too tired to try and delve beneath it right now. "So, yes, I left you behind. I gave up on us. And I'm sorry. For that and a lot of other things. But I'm not sorry for loving you. And I never will be. I don't deserve you and I don't expect anything from you but I felt that you should know that I will love you and only you for the rest of my life. I'm content with that." Setting her beer on the coffee table, she stood as she said, "And now, I'm gonna go."

She didn't expect him to say anything. She would have been surprised if he had. She had come to say her peace, to let him know that everything they had shared together hadn't been a lie and that she had cared for him as much as he had for her.

Sam thought she would cry once she was alone. Afraid that she would never stop. Instead, she sat on her bed in her hotel room, completely exhausted from her emotional confession and for the first time in her life, didn't think of anything at all. The only thing she was remotely aware of was a pang in her heart, but it was one she was growing used to being there.

Sam had no idea how long she sat there, in a daze, when there was a knock at her door. Oh, god. Could that be him? Would he really follow her here? Her stomach lurched into her throat.

Her heart beating rapidly, she slowly opened the door.

"Room Service."

Her stomach plummeted. Right. She'd asked for towels before she left for dinner. Of course. Stupid me. Why would he be here?

Taking the towels, Sam shut the door and fell into bed, willing herself to pass out.

Sam was never more thankful in her life that Daniel was off-world with another team the next day. She could not deal with him questioning her right now. And everyone else seemed to know well enough to stay away from her after witnessing her take Cameron out in thirty seconds flat during a sparring match that morning.

Work was so not distracting enough today. And considering she was working on a new prototype for a shield generator while simultaneously writing her report for the last mission to PX5-692, that was saying something. Signing out on time for once, Sam headed to the store. She had a date with Ben and Jerry's tonight. And maybe a mountain of blue jello.

Once home, Sam turned on the tv. The weather channel. Wonder what Jonas is up to these days. Pressing the 'channel up' button, nothing happened. She pressed harder. Still nothing. Sam rolled her eyes. Stupid remote. She didn't have any extra batteries either.

Her doorbell rang. Furrowing her brow, Sam tried to figure out who it could be. Today was Friday. Cassie. Yeah, definitely Cassie. She liked to come down and surprise Sam on weekends sometimes.

Reluctantly setting down her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, Sam shuffled to the door and opened it. And then stared at the very last person she expected to be there. He stared back at her as if he expected her to say something though how he thought she could say anything with her throat constricting the way it was she had no idea.

Jack's eyes were dark yet unreadable. And yet he still said nothing as he stared at her. Still in shock at his mere presence, Sam wasn't uncomfortable under his scrutiny. After all, she was doing the same thing to him. She wondered how long they would stand like this when he spoke.

"I made you a promise."

Okay. Now she was confused. Her expression must have mirrored her thoughts because he continued.

"I told you I would always be there for you."

She still didn't say anything. He didn't appear to be done and well, she had no idea what to say to that.

"I was content to be in the backround. Be happy for you with whatever you wanted. Even if that meant you were with someone else."

He stopped again and just a hint of his barrier was brought down as his expression changed.

"I don't want to be just content anymore."

His declaration shocked her so much, she actually made a quiet gasp.They were back to staring, only now his speech appeared to be over.

Letting go of her death grip on the door, Sam felt like she might actually fall to the floor if she wasn't careful. Her voice barely above a whisper, she replied, "Me either."

He let out a breath forcefully, making her wonder if he'd been holding his breath waiting for her reply. Jack raised his hand and ever so gently caressed her cheek with his thumb, his fingers in her hair. When he looked in her eyes again, the barrier was gone and she was completely overwhelmed with the love in his eyes.

Unbidden, a sob escaped her and she jerked her hand to cover her mouth and try and stop any more from following. The action was pointless as her body refused to be denied the emotional release. Jack pulled her to his chest, her face in the crook of his neck, rubbing her back and holding her close to him.

Feeling a desperate urge to hold him closer, she turned her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his neck. Jack wrapped his arms tighter around her waist, crushing her to him, and dipped his head down to her neck as she let out one last sob.

They held on to each other, both needing this after so long withholding and denying it from each other. Jack pulled back first and wiped her tears away with concern written all over his face.

"You okay?"

She let out a laugh which sounded little more than a release of air. "These are happy tears, Jack. Why can't men understand happy tears?"

Any remaining tension between them completely dissipated when he smiled. He stroked her cheek again and looked over her face as if trying to memorize every feature. Feeling just the lightest pull from his fingers, she leaned forward, lips meeting in a gentle kiss. Even if he would have wanted it to, Sam didn't let the kiss end at that. Gripping the front of his shirt, she pulled him closer to her, deepening the kiss until she felt warm all the way down to her toes. Resting her forehead against his, catching her breath, she whispered, "I love you, Jack."

His voice thick, he replied, "I love you more."

Unable to help herself, she smiled. Walking into her house, they shut the door, forgetting the rest of the world.