Updated A/N 3/31/09: This is not a new story. The new story is Torn, which is Chapter 4 of this series. I am going back in and putting in Campfire possibilities that I missed the first time around. So, if this looks familiar, it is. Go and read Chapter 4, thanks.

A/N: Another mini-campfire (Sterno) story. I still think they count. Included in CS-Season One because it ties up the two-parter from season one to season two.

Set during Serpent's Lair with reference to Enigma, Within the Serpents Grasp, and Politics

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Connection

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The scrape of the match sounded loud to Carter and she winced, automatically glancing behind her toward the door. Her eyes were still not fully recovered from the Goa'uld flash-bang device, but they'd recovered enough that she could function. From their position along the adjacent wall, Daniel and Teal'c both looked over at her and O'Neill before returning their attention to their own dinners and continuing their quiet conversation. The Colonel had ordered them all to eat some rations and catch some sleep while they could. He'd started his Sterno and when there'd been no reaction from the guards, he'd slid it over to Daniel to heat his and Teal'c's dinners. Carter had immediately pulled out her own small stove in order to rehydrate and warm up her and O'Neill's pre-packaged rations.

With the water warming, Carter settled back against the wall, automatically positioning herself to face the door. O'Neill paced the length of their cell once more before joining her, sliding down the wall and stretching his long legs out before him. Carter watched as he fiddled with the zipper on his vest, his long, graceful fingers playing with the plastic tag, his gaze far away. She checked the water and, deciding it was hot enough, began carefully pouring it into her MRE bag. Across the cell, Teal'c blew out their Sterno and began to kel'no'reem while Daniel settled himself down against the wall, preparing to sleep.

Daniel. He saw too much...heard too much sometimes. Heard even when the words weren't spoken aloud. Sam remembered being in that cargo hold with him, telling him they were going after Teal'c and the Colonel.

-

"Daniel, we're going to go after them."

"Wait a minute, when are we going to blow the ship?"

"We'll detonate only as a last resort."

Sam avoided Daniel's eyes, her attention determinedly focused on loading a new clip into her weapon.

Daniel studied her, his gaze intent upon her face. She set her jaw and checked her weapon again before looking up at him. She knew he'd heard her breath catch, had seen her eyes close when they'd heard Klorel say he had both of their teammates. She hadn't been able to stop the flash of fear that had shot through her and was sure it had been evident to him. She turned away, checking her pockets for more ammunition as he tried again.

"Listen, I wanna save them as much as you do, but if we get captured or killed, there is going to be nobody left to blow this ship before it gets to Earth."

She knew what Daniel was doing. Sam had argued with O'Neill earlier about going after Skaara, almost accusing him of making an emotional decision, yet here she was, doing the very same thing. She knew it. Daniel knew it. She knew that Daniel knew it. Too bad. If the Colonel could make a command decision based on emotion then so could she. Daniel could think what he wanted, but they were going to do this.

"That's why I'm setting a timer. If we don't deactivate it in 24 hours, it'll go automatically. Okay?" Sam squinted up at him, her face blank, refusing to give anything more away.

The understanding in his eyes was almost too much for her. She tilted her head and met his gaze almost defiantly, carefully tucking away any other emotion that might betray her thoughts.

Finally he nodded, his all-too-intuitive look speaking volumes. "Okay."

-

Carter blew on her meal, trying to cool it down. She kept her voice low, trying not to disturb her teammates.

"Sir? Where's your MRE?"

"Don't worry about it, Captain."

Sam turned to him, concerned. She knew he was devastated by the death of Skaara. Once again he'd lost a boy he loved. Once again by his own weapon, but this time by his own hand. She wondered briefly if General O'Neill of Daniel's other reality had lost a his son too, or if he'd even had one. So much in that other universe had been similar to their own, yet so much had been different. Sam refused to acknowledge the flutter she felt when thinking of one very obvious difference between the two universes, her–or rather Doctor Carter's–engagement to said General.

"Colonel, you need to eat."

"No, Captain, I don't."

Carter sighed, knowing that once again she was pushing that boundary. It was pretty much hammered into you from day one of your plebe summer at the Academy, never, ever argue with a senior officer. Somehow, given the circumstances, Carter thought her Academy instructors would forgive her this time.

"Colonel. I'm sorry about Skaara, but–"

She flinched slightly as O'Neill turned his eyes to hers. The harsh pain on his face stole her breath for a moment before the Colonel's impassive mask slammed into place. Determined, she pushed on. In for a penny and all that. She set her dinner aside and glanced back at Teal'c and Daniel before daring to lay a hand on her CO's arm.

"Sir, I know...I mean, I can't know, but I'm... Damn it." Carter sighed, her own sorrow and fear making her voice shake slightly. "Sir...please."

At her words O'Neill's mask slipped slightly and some of the light returned to his eyes. Carter kept her eyes on his, watching as his gaze left hers to move over her face, down to her hand on his arm, then back again. Very slowly he covered her hand with his own, giving her fingers a slight squeeze. Her hand felt chilled when his fell away again to reach into his own pack for a vacuum-sealed bag, his eyes never leaving hers. She took it from him with a nod, handing him her already warmed meal in return. She wasn't taking any chances that he'd change his mind while the meal was rehydrating.

O'Neill slowly took the bag from Carter, halfheartedly digging into the unappealing meal. He'd eat, if only to keep his Second from turning those huge blue eyes on him again. More and more often he found himself unable to resist them. Resist her. And when she added a soft 'please,' he simply had no defenses at all. It would be easier if he could make himself not feel, to block it all out. He'd done that successfully after Charlie...and had been on his way again when she'd stepped in the way.

Carter. A fumbled attempt at expressing her sympathy and a hand on his arm, and she'd stopped that spiral. He tried not to think about what that meant as he watched her slowly stir the warm water into her own meal.

"Carter."

Sam looked up, glad to see her commanding officer had eaten some of his meal. She raised an eyebrow in question.

"Thanks."

Carter ducked her head, then looked up into his warm brown eyes. There was even more light in them now, more warmth. She smiled softly and whispered, "You're welcome. Sir."

O'Neill held her gaze for a moment longer, then returned to his own meal. They ate together in silence, listening as Daniel's soft snoring echoed through the chilly room. When they finished he gathered their trash and tossed it into the far corner of the room. He shrugged off her look with a shake of his head. It's not like they'd fine him for littering.

"Time to turn in, Captain." O'Neill waited for Carter to settle her back against the wall, one arm tucked under her head as a cushion. He stretched out, mirroring her position, his head hear hers. She was good for him, this brilliant, eager scientist. All other things aside, this young woman was a hell of an officer and he was damned lucky to have her in his command. Jack knew it was the "other things" that could potentially cause trouble between them. For them. But that was for the future. For now he was glad that "other" tenuous connection was there. It was that connection that had pulled him back tonight. He'd needed that. Needed her. After a minute, he reached over and gently nudged his Second, waiting for her to look at him.

"Sam?"

Jack quirked a small smile at her as she tried to hide the flush that rose at his use of her name. If he had any doubts that she was aware of that other–not-quite-by-the-book–connection, they were wiped away by that soft blush.

"Sir?"

"Ah...remember...if someone comes in..."

Carter smothered a small giggle and replied, "Yes, Sir, I know. Bite 'em in the hand."

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END

More Camfire stories to come for season two. Thanks for reading and reviewing!