Disclaimer: I a poor one am. Nothing do I have. Freely do I give.

Summary: There was a reason Jack was so bitter in '2010'. The reason: a marriage proposal, an unexpected visit and butterflies (2010 timeline) S/J

A/N: This story stays within the canon of 2010 and takes place a few years before the episode.

For the first time, Sam felt butterflies.

She looked at the ring. She hadn't seen one up close like this for a long time. Not since Jonas. She swallowed and tried to still the butterflies that were coming to life in her stomach. It was all so sudden.

To be honest, it wasn't all that much of a surprise. Things between her and Joe were getting pretty serious. She supposed it was only a matter of time before they sealed the deal. It seemed to be the craze of the century; sealing the deal. The last details of the Aschen/Human alliance was almost locked in, Janet had just officially moved out of Daniel's apartment and Teal'c was making Chulak his permanent home again in just a few days. It really was the time for certainties.

They were all good changes. Everyone was buzzing about the Alliance Ceremony, Daniel and Janet's split had been completely amicable and it really was time for Teal'c to return to his people for good. There was no reason why marrying Joe Faxon couldn't be among the list of good changes for the human race.

She closed the box with a thud. There was absolutely no reason in the world not to marry him. She felt the butterflies rise up in her stomach again, but she ignored them. They could stay there all they liked. She knew she was making the right decision. She would give Joe his answer tonight.

She flipped out her cell phone and called her soon-to-be-fiance.

Hello, you've reached Joe Faxon. I can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and number, I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Damn. Answering machine.

"Joe, it's me," she said, excitedly into the phone. The butterflies did a little dance. "Let's go out tonight. My shout. See you when you get home."

She resisted adding an 'I love you' to the end. Better to save the love for tonight.

Sam put the ring on her finger and watched as it sparkled in the lights of her living room. Bright specks of colour flared from the sizeable diamond. She looked into it closely, wondering if she could see her face. All she could see were rainbow flashes, dancing lithely off the rock. She shrugged to herself. Maybe a clichéd vision of herself in her engagement ring was too much to ask for. The diamond wasn't exactly the size of her fist, after all.

Sam wondered whether or not to call Janet to inform her of her decision. A month ago, it would have been the first thing on her mind. Nothing beat Janet's excitement when it came to relationships. But perhaps it would be unkind to flaunt her good fortune when Janet was just coming out of a long relationship, regardless of how much she protested that she and Daniel were still as close as ever. Sam knew it couldn't be an easy thing to treat someone you had loved for so long as just a friend. Sometimes it ruined everything.

Sam's stomach butterflies did a perfect somersault before she could even think of stopping them. She laid a frustrated hand over her bellybutton and urged the damned things to be still. She hadn't even thought of Joe that time.

Sam put her phone down, deciding not to call her friend. She would find out soon enough, anyhow.

Sam retreated to her bedroom, thinking about how much had changed between them. Sam and Janet had come along way from doctor and patient. They had bonded so closely during the Hathor incident, and fused their lives together thanks to a beautiful kid named Cassie. Sam smiled. Her adopted niece had come so far from the scared alien girl SG1 had rescued all those years ago. They all had.

Every now and then she wished for the old days, the glory days of SG1. She'd never had more pride in herself, or in the people she had worked with. She tried to miss the flurry of butterflies in her navel as she thought of them. Daniel, Teal'c and the Colonel. Her true comrades. So much had changed. The Aschen had changed everything. Without them, the Goa'uld would never have been defeated. Without them, she never would have met Joe.

She had never realized how stifled she had felt at the SGC till she had met Joe. Or, more precisely, till the SGC was shut down and they had moved in together. So much had happened all at once. The Goa'uld were gone, the Aschen had been hailed as heroes and talks of a formal alliance had started, Teal'c had left for Chulak for what Sam had thought was for good, and the Colonel really had left for good.

An elegant butterfly swan-dive.

She ignored it.

And it had all come down to this. To certainties. To the alliance. To Joe.

Rat tat

To a knock on the door.

"Coming," she called, racing her stomach butterflies to the door. She opened it without even checking who it was.

Butterfly eruption.

It was Jack.

What the hell was he doing here?

"Sir," she said, surprised, choking on the sea of butterflies that were trying to escape up her throat and out her mouth. "What a surprise."

What was more surprising was the sudden anger that was rising in her. She took a breath in and calmed herself down. What on earth would make her so angry about a visit from a friend she hadn't seen in forever?

It was those damned butterflies.

"Retired, Carter." he said, as he had said many times before. "It's Jack."

"Right," Sam said, apologetically. "I keep forgetting."

Jack shrugged his eyebrows as though to agree with her.

"Would you like to come in, si…" She stopped herself before calling him 'sir' again. It didn't go unnoticed. "Sorry."

"Lead the way, Carter," Jack said and Sam led him into her home.

"Nice place you got here, Carter," Jack said, looking around. "Joe around?"

Second wave of the butterfly attack. Damn, those things were getting nasty.

"Joe's not around, no," she said, so finally.

"Oh," Jack said, knowingly. "I'm sorry."

Ah, wait! Sam thought, biting her tongue. Not around, as in not here…right now! Not as in, ever! She didn't put her protest into words. She supposed it didn't really matter either way. He hadn't even contacted her in the last three months, why would he care?

"What brings you here, Colonel?" she asked, not really bothering to apologize for the use of his rank. Jack seemed to have noticed her slightly snarky attitude.

"I'm sorry I didn't call or anything," he said, uncomfortably. "Gotta make it out in the big bad world on my own," he said with a lopsided grin. Sam couldn't help but smile. She hadn't seen that grin in a long time.

The butterflies crooned.

"Why now, sir?" Sam asked, not unkindly.

"It's three days till the formal alliance," he said.

"Three days," she repeated.

"Look, I didn't come here for a fight, but…"

"But we need to have this fight again anyway, sir?" Sam asked, understanding.

"Yeah, we do."

Before he had gone off into the wilderness, in what Sam could only describe as Jack O'Neill's version of a tantrum, he had approached each member of SG1 separately, trying to convince them that he was right, and the rest of the planet was wrong about the Aschen. She'd never really talked to Teal'c and Daniel about what had happened then, and she never intended to. She wasn't really sure she even remembered it that well anymore.

"You're making a mistake" Jack said. "This isn't a quick fix, Carter. Trust me."

"Well, I don't think we're making a mistake, sir. And neither, might I add, do the rest of the humans on planet Earth."

"Trust me, Carter. Don't you trust me?"

"Don't pull that on me, sir. You know I…trust you."

"Then listen! We can't just ask the Aschen to kill off the Goa'uld and pretend they're not going to ask for anything in return!"

"We're giving them gate addresses. That's hardly nothing."

"To a race like the Aschen? That's peanuts Carter, and you know it."

"Why are you so against this? Don't you understand what this could mean? For all of us?"

"Do you understand, Carter? What are you going to do when the Aschen scientists don't need you anymore? When your job is completely obsolete?

"It's not about me, sir. Do you really think I'm that selfish that I would want my job at the SGC more than this planet's safety? Is that what you want?"

"Carter, you're twisting my words!"

"No, I think I get this now. You like things just the way they are. Going out, playing the hero."

"You know that's not true, Carter!"

"Why are you so afraid of change? What do you think you're going to lose?"

Sam felt the butterflies in her stomach fighting each other. Maybe she did remember their last encounter after all.

Jack had never answered her last question. She never knew what was so important. He had left before she could ever ask him again.

"Do you want to throw the first punch or should I?" she asked, with a frustrated smirk.

"Sit down, Carter," Jack said, soothingly. "I just want to talk."

Sam sat.

Jack sat opposite her and looked at her full in the face. The butterflies mobilized.

"I've missed you," he said uncomfortably, and Sam could tell it was taking a lot of courage for him to say it. Who'd have thought? The man who showed no fear when it came to being two feet away from a zat was afraid to tell a friend that he missed her. A year or so ago, she wouldn't have given it a second thought. She would have understood exactly. Now? She had no idea. Had she asked the persistent butterflies, they would have told her, but she hadn't the sense to ask. She had ignored them for too long now.

"That's what you get when you run away for three months." She didn't want to say she missed him to. She hadn't, really. Of her former team-mates, she missed Colonel O'Neill the least and she had seen him the least.

"Well, I won't be going back," he said. "Too much is happening here."

"I'm glad to hear it, sir," she said. The butterflies high-fived.

"You might not be so glad," Jack warned. "I'm not giving up without a fight."

"You were never one to be proven wrong," Sam teased.

Jack rolled his eyes. "Look, Sam – all I need is ten minutes. Just let me explain."

Sam pretended not to notice the use of her first name. "You won't convince me," she said.

"Once upon a time, you would have done anything I asked of you."

"Well, sir, someone once taught me that there were more important things than following the leader." She took the briefest of moments to smile and remember their first bout of serious insubordination. It had been a long time since they had donned their black ops beanies and set off to kill Apophis.

"Touché," Jack said. "But hear me out anyway."

Sam nodded with a sigh and signaled for him to continue.

"I've heard some strange things while I've been gone," he said. "You know General Hammond has had his doubts?"

"No." Sam furrowed her eyebrows. The general had seemed so positive about the whole thing.

"Yes. Apparently he tried to do some digging and got completely fire-walled."

Sam didn't say anything.

"And doctors all over the country have been forced to close their practices. Did your Aschen buddies tell you that?"

"I'm sure that's an exaggeration, sir. Forced?"


"Look, I know some people are feeling obsolete with the new changes, but it's all for the better."

"It's not about feeling obsolete, Carter. It's about being forced out of their livelihood," Jack persisted.

"I highly doubt the Aschen forced anyone to do anything," Sam said sarcastically.

"Of course," Jack scoffed. "Believe them before you believe me."

"Why should I believe you? You're the one that left!"

"Are you even listening, Carter? I left to get more intel. I didn't leave you."

The butterflies egged Sam on.

"Left me? You think I've been pining for you while you've been gone?" She tried to stop herself, but the words came out like vomit. She didn't know she could be so mean. Not to the Colonel. Jack.

"Well it's good to know you didn't miss me," Jack spat.

The butterflies cried out in protest.

"What right do you have, to burst in here and tell me what to do? You're not my commander anymore, Jack and I can make my own decisions."

She wasn't even listening to him anymore. She was venting mindlessly, tossing out hurt feelings she didn't even know she had.

"How do we keep coming to this?" Jack asked, defeated. "We don't fight. I don't hate you, Carter," he said, so unable to understand her.

Sam couldn't respond like the accomplished woman she was. She was waging a war within herself. All she wanted to do was scream at him, and her mind couldn't catch her mouth fast enough to stop it. All she could hear were the beating wings of those butterflies, pounding away in her stomach, or was it her heart that was beating so loudly? She was so angry, angrier than she had ever been before and she couldn't understand why. She didn't want to understand why.

"Of course you don't hate me," she practically yelled. Her blood was boiling. Her heart rate sped. She was losing the battle. She noted, her mind ever busy, that Jack was turning red too. The butterflies cheered. He was going to fight back.

"No," he fired. "I love you."

And then many things happened at once. The butterflies exploded, her heart lurched and her desire to scream became focused to a fine point.

Directly onto Jack O'Neill's mouth.

Before she could stop herself, before she even thought to stop herself, she was kissing him. Mindlessly, feverishly. She kissed him hard and fast and after a moment of shock, Jack came to meet her. Sam was in a frenzy. How had she gone so long without him? She suddenly knew exactly what her butterflies were. They were a warning. They were Jack, they were all for Jack. She was all for Jack.

Her tongue shot out to reach his, and he didn't put up a fight. He groaned in her lips and she pressed him against her. God she missed him.

There was nothing else now. No Aschen, no anger. It was like they had never been apart. How could she not have understood before now? How could she have not recognized that feeling, in her stomach; in her heart?

She wanted to look at him, memorize his every feature, but she could not pull her lips away from his. Her hands were everywhere. On his neck, on his chest, in his hair. They were furious and passionate and insane.

"I've missed you," Jack growled into her hair. "So much."

Sam moaned in agreement and kissed him again. Who could have known that after so many years of denial they would come together like this? With no preamble?

She didn't want to think about it. She didn't want to think at all.

A series of hot, short kisses down her neck answered her wishes and she couldn't think about anything but him, anything but this. Anything but…

The phone ringing.

"Leave it," Jack growled. Like he needed to.

The answering machine beeped.

Sam, honey, it's me. I've got to work late tonight, babe – but how about I take you out tomorrow? My treat. I'm sorry. I know it's been a long time since we had a full night together. Tomorrow night, I promise. Love you

Sam froze.

Oh god.

Jack sprang back from her. Sam didn't want to look at him, but she couldn't help herself. She saw exactly what she thought she'd see. Jack stared at her, a look of disgust on his face.

Oh god.

"Joe?" he whispered, though his voice nearly squared her ears out.

She nodded. She couldn't even speak.

He laughed. Just once. It wasn't a nice laugh. It was a horrible, painful sound to her ears. Sam clenched her fists in front of her, anxious. She felt like she was going to throw up. A flash of colour danced off her hand and caught Jack's eye.

The ring.

Oh god.

She looked up at him, hurriedly. He stared at her hand.

"I…" she flustered. There was nothing she could say.

He laughed again and marched out of her sight. She chased him to the door.

"Jack, wait!" she called out, desperately. This couldn't be it.

He turned around, looking at her like he didn't know her. "That's it," he said. "I'm not fighting anymore."

"Stop!" she commanded. Jack looked her square in the face.

"Good luck with the alliance."

She watched, frozen as he turned and left, slamming the door behind him.

She didn't even wince at the sound. She was paralyzed. Her body and her mind were paralyzed. If she her brain was functioning, she would have raced after him. She would have explained everything. That she had loved him for so long that she had forgotten what it had felt like. That she had stayed with Joe because she had felt so free to be away from Jack and the constant ache that their positions had left her with and that she had grown too angry to remember how much she loved him.

But she couldn't. She could feel herself resenting him again already. Resenting him instead of herself, just like before. And she didn't stop herself. She needed to resent him. She needed to not need him ever again.

She got her wish.

The next night she accepted Joe's proposal. She accepted the Aschen.

And she accepted that she would never feel butterflies in her stomach again.