Chapter Two

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis or any characters related to said programs.

Jack O'Neill was mildly surprised when he heard the crunch of gravel as someone nonchalantly made their way toward him. Based on how long the car had idled, he had assumed it was a lost tourist trying to make heads or tails of a convenience store map before heading back to town and getting a motel room for the night. Still, it didn't surprise him. Most people seemed to be less than proficient at map reading and it wouldn't be shocking for someone to meander over to him to ask directions.

What was shocking was when he heard a familiar voice call to him before reaching the start of the pier.

"Hey." Sam had raised her voice to announce herself over the short distance. She didn't use his name, he noticed, but it would have been unusual if she had. Still, before his promotions there had at least been some modicum of familiarity in her reference to him as Colonel. His new title, however, being entirely too long for casual conversation, was dropped entirely and she tended to just avoid addressing him at all.

She drew in a breath, this one a little tighter than the others, as she contemplated this predicament just as he was doing. Oh, she called Daniel and Teal'c by their first names – Cameron even had a nickname – but she couldn't seem to will herself to use the first name of the man who was her superior. He'd never invited her to do so, for one. Still, even more indicative of the invisible wall they'd erected between themselves was the fact that he'd always called her Carter. In her dreams, her first name was on his lips, even in her nightmares. Most certainly, those ever-embarrassing fantasies were filled with him huskily whispering her name.

Feeling a wave of heat pass over her at the thought, Sam shook her head. Jack had removed his feet from the ice chest in front of him abruptly when she had spoken. Now he sat up straight and twisted in his rickety lawn chair to watch as she slowed her steps toward him. Plain shock showed on his face for a moment, dulling as he collected his thoughts and formulated speech.

"Hi," he answered jovially, if rather delayed in reply, and a wan smile splayed across his face. Samantha was exactly the person he wanted to be with right at that moment and that was just what worried him. His will was anything but iron; he had intentionally limited the amount of time the two of them spent alone over the years for that reason. He wasn't sure what would happen if he lost his willpower. 'That's not true,' he thought.

He knew precisely what he would do to her, with her, if given half a chance, and that's what made him wary.

She stood awkwardly at the cow-licked grass growing ungainly over the edge of the dock. He hands, clasped in front of her, rose to cross over her breasts, but as soon as they got there she released them, resting them on her hips for fear she looked annoyed in the previous position. Finally, Sam dropped them at her side, irritated with her own nervousness. "I didn't know you were here," she admitted.

Intrigued, he pulled the chair next to him to a different position, more as a gesture to offer her a seat than because its location had been inadequate, and he removed the box of grocery-store donuts that had been resting on it. Turning back around, he recast his lure and asked, "Then why are you here?" Understanding, she walked forward and sat slowly.

"I come here a lot," she responded. "When I'm on leave, anyway. I didn't think you'd mind. It's a good place to clear my mind for a while and just… be. You know?"

Looking over, his breath caught. The fading light caught the curve of her jaw as her head inclined in question. Her blonde hair, longer than he remembered, appeared amber for the moment. He wondered, for a moment, what tricks candlelight would play with the soft strands before gritting his jaw and thrusting away the images that thought had invoked.

"Are you sure you didn't just miss me?" His voice held that characteristically cocky and teasing tone. A smirk was on his face, but his eyes held a full on smile that she couldn't help but mirror on her own face.

"Maybe," she admitted skeptically, though she knew it held some truth. "But I just like your pond."

"My beautiful, peaceful," he emphasized the word as he recast his empty lure for the hundredth time, before finishing his sentence hollowly, "pond."

She chuckled a moment, knowing the friendly mockery he had endured at his ceaseless fishing in an uninhabited body of water. This hobby, like many things for Jack O'Niell, was not about the destination so much as the journey. It was one of those things she loved about him. 'Liked,' she mentally corrected herself. Uncomfortable with the turn of her thoughts, regardless of the fact that he was unable to hear them, Sam shifted in her seat and crossed her legs. "You knew I was coming back today," she stated matter-of-factly.

"I did?" His tone was so innocent.

"Why else would you have come back at the same time?"

"Ever heard of coincidence?" he offered.

"I don't believe in coincidences." Yet there was this small voice nagging her from the back of her mind. If he'd returned at the same time as her and done so intentionally what was his reasoning? Her stomach tightened a bit at the thought.

"Who doesn't believe in coincidences?" he scoffed, sipping his beer lightly.

"A scientist," she answered simply.

"Astrophysicist," he corrected, emphasizing the word and mocking her gently. Jack gazed up at the stars for a long minute, just appreciating the twinkling lights in the sky. "Ever wonder what's up there?"

Sam only gave him a look of amused doubt.

"I felt obligated to ask," explained Jack. Reeling in his line, he placed the pole on the dock beside him and took his feet off the cooler. "You want a beer?" he asked, taking one out for himself and twisting off the cap.

"No," she replied emphatically, placing a hand to her roiling stomach. She always got so nauseas when she was nervous. "I wouldn't say no to a glass of water, though."

"Sure." He stood. Walking toward the house, he waved an arm forward and invited, "Come on in." When he reached the porch, however, Jack noticed she had not moved. With his hand on the door, he thought he realized why. It was safer for the two of them to remain outside. While dangerous for them to be alone, it was much more dangerous for them to be inside together. All manner of situations flew threw his mind in an instant. Sam kissing him on the couch. Sam threading her fingers through his hair, her legs wrapped around him, as he pressed her against the wall in the hallway. Sam lying naked on his beige cotton sheets and writhing beneath him. Sam moaning his name as steam fogged the mirror in the bathroom.

Lord have mercy.

His fingers grasped the doorknob slowly and he turned it, pulling the door from the frame. Why not just bring out a glass of water? Then they could stay outside for hours in the cool night air and talk about anything. Because then nothing would ever change. In that moment, he realized for the second time that, more than anything, he wanted things to change between them. Jack turned his head over his should, careful not to let her catch sight of the arousal that turn of thought had caused. His voice sounded immensely more casual than he felt when he asked her, "You coming?"

Sam lingered a moment, unsure. She knew, just as he did, how chancy it would be to enter his house. She felt it in her – that willingness to take a risk in hopes of winning. That feeling scared her. A woman who prided herself on her cool head and use of logic, moments of wild abandon terrified her. Whatsmore, wanting to have those moments of reckless and wanton pleasure left her petrified.

She linger another moment, her stomach passing tense and emerging into the roiling stage. How could this situation have emerged from a glass of water? Still, she couldn't very well say never mind. Focusing, she stood. 'Be sensible,' she told herself. 'Going inside doesn't mean you are committing to have sex with him…' But it was one of those cultural differences. It isn't a commitment and yet it might as well be. If she went in, wasn't she letting him know she was considering sleeping with him?

And wasn't it more obvious, the longer she waited to make a decision, that she knew precisely what it meant to follow him into his home?

"Coming?" he asked harmlessly, though his tone indicated he knew precisely the unspoken conversation they were having. He had come to terms with it.

Pressing her lips together, Sam felt a rush of lust come over her as she followed. She hadn't committed to sleeping with him. That was what sealed the deal. She could reserve that decision for later. For now, all she was doing was getting a glass of water.

Shutting the door behind her, Jack took a glass from the cupboard and rinsed it to get off any dust. Doing the same with a second, he asked, "What do you want?"

"What?" questioned Sam, lost in her thoughts. When he merely held up the glass he had been drying, she understood. "Oh, just water. That'd be great." Silently, she wished she could distract herself somehow. Maybe conversation would be enough. God knew she had to get her mind off the track it was heading down.

Jack handed her a glass as he took a sip from his own. Placing it behind him, he leaned backward to rest on the counter. The silence stretched on. Sam drank nearly her entire glass before she ventured to ask, "If you knew I was coming back, why didn't you stay to say hi?"

He didn't answer. Not right away. He couldn't admit that he had chickened out. He reached for his glass, spilling a bit on the counter due to the awkward angle. He took a long drink, tipping his head upward as he drained it, then stood upright and walked to the sink where he deposited it. With his back toward her, he said softly, "I knew it would end up here."

Sam knew he didn't mean that he was sorry they were alone in his house. He was just nervous – the same as she. They had been avoiding these circumstances for years, but here they were anyway. This time seemed more dangerous, though, because there was such thick tension in the air. Sam was feeling like taking a risk, like going after what she wanted, and she wasn't sure that Jack didn't feel the same way.

Jack returned from his short trip outside with his small cooler in hand to find Sam seated at the table. He placed the cooler on the kitchen counter and removed one of the beers it held. Twisting off the top, he pitched it at the garbage can and hissed when it connected with the rim, bouncing into the recesses of the dusty space behind the entertainment center. Sam looked over as he set his beer in front of the empty chair beside her.

"Want a refill?" he asked without sitting and took her glass when she lifted it, nodding. He detoured to the living room where he plucked the remote off the arm of the couch. Turning the television on, Jack didn't bother to check what station it was tuned to before setting down the remote on the table and waling to the sink. Sam looked lazily at the set as it came back from commercial, ignoring the increasing pitch of water filling her glass.

She felt him closing the distance between them a moment before he put the glass in front of her. The muscles in her back tightened in anticipation. It was unlikely that he would touch her, but still it felt as though each and every one of her muscles pulled her upright and closer to the object of her desire. That treacherous flesh rose in goose bumps as one long, ragged breath pressed her onto the firm wood of the chair behind her. Her eyes slid closed as she imagined he would lean over, kissing the nape of her neck. As the chair slid smoothly over the tile floor and Jack sat adjacent to her, Sam let out the breath she had been unwittingly holding.

"Is the news ok?" Jack asked, not knowing the effect he'd had on her merely by standing behind her. He was trying to coax her into conversation. Silent as things were between them in that moment, he felt rather awkward. He couldn't very well kick her out, nor did he want to do so. Still, if they were talking maybe he would be able to concentrate on her words and stop thinking about those petal pink lips.

"Yes," she replied, noticing the line of his sight. Unable to help herself, her tongue flew out and moistened her lips. "I'm not exactly up to date in current events."

"Shouldn't have cancelled your newspaper subscription," he replied smartly, taking a sip of his beer as he watched the screen. His eyes glazed over as he gave the pretense of listening to the newscaster's words. All he could think about was the woman beside him and how, if things went his way, she would be underneath him and letting loose a throaty moan. His butt wriggled in his seat, trying to make room for his aroused expansion. They fell silent again.

He heard her open her mouth again and lick her lips –was she trying to tempt him? He closed his eyes in silent prayer before taking a swig of amber liquid. She paused, collecting her thoughts, or perhaps simply hesitating, before asking, "What did you mean when you said you were afraid things would end up here?"

Caught by surprise, he turned in his seat to look at her. She wasn't being timid or catty. Those things he would have expected of other women. She was confident and, god, did that turn his on. Her world in no way hinged on his answer. This was merely curiosity. "I thought we had an agreement not to sleep together so that we could both keep our jobs."

His honest and blatant words surprised her. Stunning her, though, was her own bodily reaction to them. His implication of desire added fuel to the cheerily burning embers of her lust. It now threatened to roar out of control and overtake her. Blood pumping quickly with adrenaline, her head swam a bit in that pleasant, heady way she hadn't felt in entirely too long. Her boldness astounded even her as she found herself replying, "I'm getting tired of that particular rule."

Jack's chest seized in the midst of inhalation and he held that breath a long moment before his lungs forced him to exhale, though he tried to do so with some tact. His mouth parted slowly, unconsciously and, before he realized it he found himself gaping, mouth ajar. Licking his lips slowly, his eyes widened a moment in expression of stunned uncertainty and he ran a hand through his hair, stalling for time.

"Uh…" he gesticulated, closing his mouth before making a fool out of himself. Samantha Carter eyed him, trying to hide a sly smirk, as she waited for him to speak. God help him, he had no idea what to say.


uthor's Note: Sorry to leave you at a cliff hanger, but… oh, I guess I did that purposefully.