Neither of them had spoken for a very long time; the rustle of wind through leaves, the low buzzing of an insect, or the occasional splash as some unseen animal slid back beneath the water the only sounds to break the pond's tranquility. Which was part of the beauty of the thing, really, because even tasks such as helping secure a lure or untangle a line, or passing more bait or another beer, rarely required words anymore. The teamwork grown to instinct through years as comrades-in-arms, both in and out of combat, had quickly translated into this as into nearly every other aspect of their personal lives as well.

Sam pulled her line out of the water, removed the tangles of weed she'd managed to snare, and, reaching back, recast her line. The lure hit, entering the water with a satisfying plop. After a second to let it sink, she began reeling in, the click-whir of the reel giving rhythm to her thoughts.

Fishing would always remain special, though, because, no matter how many other activities now filled their lives, Jack still never smiled anywhere, doing anything, as much as he did sitting out on this pier with a fishing rod in his hand, and the only time he was more relaxed - well, neither one of them was young enough anymore to keep that up all afternoon. Although they'd certainly tried.

She glanced over at her husband who, despite the increasing silver in his hair and wrinkles on his face which even love couldn't blind her to, was still the best looking man she'd ever met. But that, she admitted, might be that love again. As if sensing her gaze - and knowing him he probably could - Jack looked up, returning her gaze.

And smiled. The utterly perfect, utterly Jack smile she was certain most people couldn't even imagine him capable of. The one he reserved for rare moments of complete happiness. Like fishing with her, off their pier, in Minnesota.

Her own smile broadening in response to his, she turned back toward the water. The three weeks of leave they'd both managed to grab - amazingly at the same time for once - shortly after her return from Atlantis might seem like a long time to spend fishing to some, but for her and Jack, it was barely long enough.

Having finished reeling in her line, Sam pulled back and recast it out across the water once more.

-o-o-o-o-

Jack was happy. Drifting up out of sleep, he couldn't even remember why, and he didn't really care. But realization came along with consciousness, an awareness of where he was - and whom he was with.

Sam lay tucked along his side on the narrow couch, her body warm and soft against his. The remnants of a fire still smoldered in the fireplace. Admittedly, it was a bit too close to summer for a fire to be really necessary, but he had wanted to create a mood. It had seemed to do the trick. Not that he had needed 'a trick'…. His arms tightened around the woman in his arms, and he bent his head to nuzzle the top of her hair. It might be a cliché, but at that moment he didn't care. He really was the luckiest man alive.

The movement, however, had been a mistake. The arm which Sam was lying on had fallen asleep, and the muscles clenched painfully as the motion forced blood flow to resume. His neck had been at an odd angle against the sofa's arm, and trying to get it straight again proved both difficult and painful.

He winced, waking Sam from what must have been a light slumber. She pulled away from him a bit to look at him - obviously forgetting where they were. Suddenly unbalanced, she nearly slid backward off the edge of the sofa. She clasped her arms around him for support as he pulled her back against him. In the tight space, with tight muscles, even that much action hurt. On the other hand, he now had Sam clasped tightly against his chest. Which was nice. Very nice. The painfulness of his position seemed suddenly far less important.

Only she somehow sensed he was in pain, because she asked, concern evident in those beautiful eyes, "What's wrong?"

He chuckled, because it really was funny all things considered. "I must be getting old. I remember when sleeping didn't hurt so much."

"Me too," she admitted with a laugh. She stretched slightly as she spoke, arching her back. Which pressed certain very interesting parts of hers against his now very interested ones.

Her gesture might have been innocent, but his response wasn't. Hopefully she wouldn't….

"Jack…?" Her eyes were wide and innocent as she looked up at him. Too wide and innocent.

"I said old Carter, not dead."

"Ah. Yes, sir." She really had been getting better at maintaining a poker face. It took a good five seconds for the giggle to escape. And how anyone could look that hot while giggling was a mystery whose answer still eluded him. It wasn't fair.

But he'd learned his lesson the first time. Catching her wandering hand before things got much further, he asked, "Now, could we please move to the perfectly good - big - bed in the next room?"

She giggled again. Damn her. "You betcha." Twisting away from him, she got up off the sofa in a single nimble motion which left him a bit jealous and a whole lot more anxious to get into the bedroom. She reached down her hand for him. "Coming…?"

He took the offered hand, more than willing to let her help him get to his feet. His present condition was, after all, mostly her fault. Well, considering that his muscles had actually already recovered - he wasn't that old - it was entirely her fault. Not that he was complaining. Definitely not complaining.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, and rising from the sofa, followed her into the bedroom.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Sam thrust the bottle of maple syrup across the table at him. Real, genuine maple syrup - the good stuff - made by a local and sold at the gas station-grocery store-bait shop-only shop in all of Silver Creek.

He took the bottle and sniffed as ordered. "Smells fine to me."

"Don't you think it smells…funny?" Truth be told, it smelled horrible. It made her stomach churn it was so bad.

Jack laughed. "Look, if you don't want to eat 'em, don't. You're not gonna be hurting my feelings. They're just Eggo's." He pointed towards the cabin door. "Throw them outside. I'm sure something will eat them."

"No way. The last thing we need is another family of raccoons living on our front porch." They had ultimately had to hire a local trapper to take care of that little problem.

Jack went back to eating his Froot Loops. "Suit yourself," he answered, nearly splashing milk onto the table as he gestured with his spoon at the over-colorful cereal box. "You could try Froot Loops…." Before she could open her mouth to protest, he continued with a laugh, "Don't worry, I picked up more of your granola and that fruity-flaky stuff you like, Carter."

Which was all very nice, and she tried to act appreciative, but, truth be told, she'd wanted some of his Froot Loops since he'd opened the box and the sweet smell of sugar and artificial flavoring had hit her nose. But she'd die before she'd admit that to him, especially considering all the times she'd teased him about his choice of breakfast foods.

She was just getting up to pour herself a bowl of proper adult cereal and dispose of her waffles in their proper receptacle when she heard the sound outside. Jack did too and they turned in unison toward the front of the cabin. He had already unlocked the gun safe and passed her a rifle before she was sure of what they were hearing. Clear and unmistakable now, they heard the beating of a helicopter blade rapidly approaching the cabin.

"Cover me - just in case," Jack said over his shoulder as, moving quickly, he stepped outside the door.