A/N: Special thanks to AstraPerAspera for the beta. This story contains oddly very few actual Continuum spoiles, but while it will make sense without having seen Continuum, I'd recommend reading it after viewing as it won't make as much sense.
In the history of lame excuses—and over the last few years Sam had come up with enough for spending time with Jack O'Neill to fill several volumes—that had to be one of the worst.
As if anyone was going to believe that. At least the three members of SG-1 behind them seemed too preoccupied with their own conversation to pay much attention to Sam and Jack's exchange, sparing her the otherwise inevitable teasing.
"Moon base?" Jack asked from beside her. Maybe his brain really had been turned to mush during the overly long Tok'Ra ceremony. "Will there be cake?" he asked too-innocently.
She smiled at him. No mush there. "You betcha."
"Sweet." Then he observed, his tone wistful, "I've missed cake."
After her year on Atlantis, Sam couldn't agree more. The urge to reach out and at least hold his hand, to reassure them both that she was really there, standing next to him, was strong. Instead, she settled for saying, "Me too." It wasn't enough, but words never were.
They sank into silence, both knowing further conversation led only to more dangerous territory. For awhile, then, they were again nothing more than General O'Neill and Colonel Carter, saying their goodbyes to the Tok'Ra, waiting for the Stargate to activate, and preparing to follow SG-1 through the now active wormhole to Earth.
But as Sam moved forward to follow her former teammates through the 'Gate, Jack caught her arm, preventing her."Hey, Carter, remember our first time through together?" he asked.
"You never forget your first."
He smiled, but his eyes remained serious. "We've come a long way since then."
Sam wasn't sure if he meant the galaxy, the planet, or they themselves; they were all true, so she took the safest option under the circumstances. "Uh-huh," she agreed, "Who'd have thought, way back then, that one small planet filled with relative primitives would one day help extract the last Go'uld System Lord? And just think of how far Earth's technology has come in the process…."
"Though you know," he observed before she could get up to full steam. "I wasn't really talking about the planet."
"Thought you might not be." She smiled over at him, and was rewarded with an answering smile. "Told ya you'd like me once you got to know me."
"And I told you I've adored you since the day we met."
She snorted. "You were just being sarcastic then and you know it."
"I'm always sarcastic." Which, Sam realized, was not really true. Not anymore. And thank god for that. Jack must have been thinking along the same lines, because he continued after a moment. "Which makes, what? At least two galaxies, multiple multiple realities, the world Teal'c-only-knows how many times, and one old and tired general saved." And, as further proof of change, Jack's words lacked any trace of the self-mocking bitterness they would once have had. Instead, he finished with a teasing smile, "You do good work, Colonel."
She chuckled, . "Why, thank you. Sir. I do my best. It wasn't easy—especially that last part. Though I have to admit some of the saving was mutual."
He looked her over slowly and his grin spread still more. "Tell me about it."
Sam could feel his gaze sweep over her, from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes, and all points in between. She was suddenly, terribly afraid her answering blush was visible even in the harsh blue light of the wormhole.
Jack's low chuckle confirmed her fears. "Not fair," she managed without her voice breaking too much.
Then he really did laugh. "You started it, Colonel." He continued, and the slight catch in his voice confirmed the victory had not all been his. "Now, let's get the hell out of here. As I suddenly recall, we've got ourselves a moon base which needs looking into…."
After all this time, Sam still found that grin irresistible. Laughing, she nodded and, shoulder to shoulder, they stepped through the open Stargate.