"Well, I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you very much." Elizabeth Weir said,
her voice warm.

"Hey, you came back to rescue me." Jack responded.

Elizabeth smiled slightly. "Hmm! Yes, we did."

Jack decided it was time to say what had been on his mind since he heard who was on his
rescue team. "Of course, next time, consider bringing Carter with you." Elizabeth smiled in
earnest now, and Jack added a sincere, "Welcome home."

Jack moved to walk past Elizabeth, but she reached out and put her arms around him.
Surprised, Jack hesitated for a moment, then brought his own arms up and patted her on
the back gently.

When Elizabeth released him she smiled up at him. Jack returned the smile and walked
past her. Heading for the quarters he had been assigned. As he rounded the corner the
alarm that signalled the activation of the stargate began to sound. He turned as Elizabeth
drew level with him. "Expecting someone?"

"No," she said.

Jack cocked an eyebrow and swept out an arm, "Shall we?"

--

"Who is it?" Elizabeth asked the technician monitoring the gate.

"Receiving identification code now," the technician looked confused, "SG-1?"

"SG-1?" Elizabeth repeated. She looked questioningly up at Jack, who shrugged. "Lower the
shield," she ordered.

A few seconds later a puddle jumper exited the gate, but instead of disappearing upwards
into the bays the jumper set down on the gateroom floor. Puzzled, Jack and Elizabeth
shared a look. They heard the door of the jumper open and watched as Lieutenant Colonel
Samantha Carter exited. Once she was clear the jumper flew upwards into the bays.

Elizabeth and Jack headed down to the gateroom.

Sam Carter was standing in the gateroom, her hands by her sides. It didn't go unnoticed by
Elizabeth that her eyes snapped to Jack as soon as he entered the room. An old suspicion
about these two reawakened in Elizabeth's mind.

"Carter?" Jack asked.

Sam Carter didn't respond immediately, merely remained where she was, staring mutely at
Jack.

"Carter?" Jack prompted again, "What ya doin' here?"

"I'm on downtime," she said finally, her tone devoid of any clues as to her presence.

Elizabeth took in the other woman's appearance. She was wearing green SGC BDUs, no
battle vest, no weapon, not even a pack. She must have come directly from the SGC.

"Downtime, you say?" Jack asked, "Must've missed the memo about you moving to
Atlantis."

"General Landry told me what happened,"

"Yeah," Jack said, "I was just sayin' to Elizabeth here that she shoulda brought you along
for the rescue."

"I was offworld."

Elizabeth found her attention flickering between the two of them, amazed at the weight of
the words not being said here.

"Carter…" Jack began, a question in his voice.

He was cut off by Sam's sudden movement. She was across the room and standing less
than a foot away from Jack in milliseconds. However, before she got any closer she came
to a dead stop.

Elizabeth suddenly felt like an intruder in her own home. The reasonably large room felt too
small to hold the three of them. She considered edging out of the room, but just as she
plucked up the courage, Colonel Carter's eyes flicked to her, then back up to Jack's face.

"I just came to offer you a lift home, sir," Sam said, the searching look she was giving
Jack belying the nonchalant tone she affected.

"Cool," Jack said, "I still have some packing to do. Toothbrush, socks… you know," he
paused, "wanna come help?"

"Sure," Sam said.

They turned and marched out of the room, looking for all the world like they were on the
parade ground.

"That was… interesting."

Elizabeth turned at John Sheppard's comment. "It was, wasn't it?"

Neither Jack nor Sam spoke on the walk to the room he'd been given to dump his stuff in.
Just before they reached it, Richard Woolsey appeared.

"Ah, General O'Neill I was looking-" Woolsey did a double-take, "Colonel Carter, what are
you doing-"

"Not now, Woolsey," Jack said gently but firmly as he and Sam swept past the little man
and into his quarters.

Sam walked to the centre of the room and stood looking out of the window, her shoulders
tense. Jack locked the door and stood with his back to it, watching her.

When it became apparent that she was neither going to speak or turn around, Jack sighed
and said, "What are you doing here, Sam?" When she didn't respond he closed the gap
between them and with a gentle hand on her shoulder her to face him. Her eyes were
bright with tears. "Sam?" Jack asked softly. Still no response. "C'mere," Jack murmured,
pulling her into his arms.

She buried her face in his jacket and he felt her hands dig into the material too, pulling
herself closer to him. He felt her take several quick breaths to calm herself. After several
moments he released her, stepping away from her and over to his case where it lay open
on the bed.

Truth be told he had already finished packing, and had been more than ready to get the hell
outta dodge when she arrived. So he just moved things around in the case, hoping she
would talk if he ignored her for long enough.

"I should have been here," she said finally, her voice sounding remarkably small and unlike
the Sam Carter he knew.

"You couldn't be here," he said reasonably. "Did your mission go well?"

"You could have died and I wouldn't have known about it until long afterwards," she said,
ignoring his question.

"Well, I am in another galaxy, its understandable."

"How can you be so casual about this, Jack?" she demanded.

He turned to look at her. "Because I go through this every time you go offworld," he sighed
and ran a hand through his hair. "It's the nature of what we do."

She looked momentarily guilty, obviously she hadn't thought about how he must feel when
she went through the gate. "You're supposed to be safe." She mumbled finally.

"Is that what this is about?" He asked.

She nodded. "This was supposed to be a nice diplomatic mission and you were supposed to
be safe."

"You're being ridiculous, you know that, don't you?" He asked softly.

She glared at him, then dropped her eyes and nodded. "I was relieved when you took the
job in Washington," she admitted, "because I thought I wouldn't have to go through this
again." She looked up at him again and walked towards him, not stopping until the material
of their uniforms met.

"I'm still here," he said, his voice soft and reassuring. "I'll probably never want to go
swimming again, but I'm here. My career hasn't managed to kill me."

"So far."

"Yes," he said, "lets be as melodramatic as possible."

"I can't lose you. Not now," she said, ignoring the teasing tone in his voice.

"You won't," he sighed. "Do you know what got me through this whole thing?" She shook
her head. "Knowing that if I got out of this, I was coming home to you. That's what
stopped me just giving up."

"That and the fact that you had Atlantis to save," she pointed out.

"Screw Atlantis," he said seriously, "I just wanted to get home." She chuckled softly "You
know, if being with me is going to cause you this much worry…" Jack began.

"What?" She demanded, fear crossing her face.

He shrugged, "I guess you're gonna have to get used to it." She rolled her eyes. "And so
will I," he continued, suddenly deadly serious. "It's not easy for me either, you know. Every
time you get hurt on a mission I have to resist the temptation to have you transferred back
to Area 51."

"Jack!" She said reprovingly.

"Hey, I've resisted it, haven't I?" She smiled tightly and nodded. Then her hand slid up his
side and to his neck, pulling his lips down to meet hers. Just before their lips met, Jack felt
compelled to add, "so far."

--