"This is nice," Jack said as he watched the cloud of dandelion spores twirl and dance above him on the breeze. The early summer sun was warm enough to make him feel drowsy. He dropped his cap in the grass beside him, laced him fingers behind his head, and settled back against the trunk of the tree under which they'd spread out their picnic blanket.
"Nice?" Sam, who was stretched out beside him and using his lap as an impromptu pillow, held up another one of those super-sized dandelion clocks that covered the meadow around them in a fine, fluffy snow. She craned her neck so she was looking up at him. "Three weeks of negotiations. Seven hundred pages of legalese, which were revised at least twelve times."
"Thirteen," Jack corrected.
"Thirteen times, then," she acknowledged, not thrown off track. "At least a dozen visits from their Grand High Pooba to the SGC-"
"His name is Chachi."
She squinted at him, feigning annoyance. "Actually, I'm pretty sure that it isn't. And anyhow, that's not the point-"
"Your point is," he plucked the dandelion from her fingertips before she could purse those lovely lips of hers and blow the fluff in his face as she added the number of times he'd just interrupted her to her enumeration, "that it was a lot of work for a few flowers." He turned his head slightly, and with a puff of air, sent the dandelion fluff out on the wind. He handed her back the stem. "All I'm saying, is that this," he waved a hand at the meadow, "is nice."
Sam scowled at the empty dandelion clock, though Jack could see she wasn't putting much effort into it. "These flowers have a huge range of medicinal applications, from possibly-"
She stopped, sucked in her bottom lip and slowly brought her eyes to meet his with a look that left him feeling that she was not chastised in the least.
She rolled over on to her stomach and planted her chin in her hands. "I supposed it isn't all bad," she mused as she idly picked another flower. She rolled the stem lightly between her fingertips. "Fulfilling section twelve, paragraphs eighteen through thirty-four of the agreement is turning out to be quite pleasant, actually."
Jack watched the corner of her mouth lift in that half-smile she got when she was playing with him. He knew that after all those weeks of negotiations, he should know what paragraphs eighteen through thirty-four entailed, but right now while she was watching him out of the corner of her eye as the sun danced through the leaves above and bathed her cheeks in ripples of shadow and light, he was anywhere but at the bargaining table.
"After all that arguing, you don't remember section twelve?" she asked, her eyes meeting his again, mocking him.
"Refresh my memory."
She held up the flower and blew. Jack closed his eyes as the fluff drifted around his face. He heard the rustle of fabric and felt her breath as soft in his ear as the dandelion fuzz against his skin.
"Section twelve, paragraphs eighteen through thirty-four," she emphasized each syllable in a low voice that did funny things to his insides, "describe the fulfillment by the primary negotiation party from Earth in the appropriation of cultural values culminating in an amalgamation partnership in order to strengthen the security of the trade agreement."
He felt her weight settle across his lap, her fingers brushing lightly on his skin, her body warmer than sunlight.
"I don't think it sounded that sexy when Daniel explained it," his voice caught in his throat as he watched her pluck yet another flower, this time full and yellow, and bring it to rest on her mouth like a caress.
"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow. "And how did Daniel interpret that passage?"
Jack took the dandelion by the stem. "He said something like, 'Jack, you're just going to have to suck it up and marry Sam in their ceremony, or the deal will fall through.'"
"Huh," she said, and Jack caught the glint in her eye that reminded him of a cat caught playing with her prey. "That was very big of you to step up and take one for the team."
"I thought so." He tucked the stolen flower behind her ear, letting his fingers linger as they trailed though the wisps of hair that were untamed by the breeze. "Sacrifice for the fate of the human race, and all that." He traced the curve of her ear with his thumb, the sweep of her jaw.
She closed her eyes, pressed her cheek against his hand, and in a whisper filled with suggestion and promise, she asked, "And you're sure that sub-section C had nothing to do with it?"
If Jack had a clever repartee, it was stolen by the brush of her lips against his.
Later, much later, as they lay together under the tree in the waning afternoon light, Jack pulled the picnic blanket up over her bare shoulders. "So," he asked, "you mind explaining what sub-section C is?" He plucked a tuft of dandelion fluff from her hair, held it up, and let the breeze float it away.
Sam shifted slightly and took a deep breath. "Well, sub-section C-"
Jack held a finger to her lips. "Ah."
He felt her smile against the pad of his index finger. "In plain English?" she asked.
"That," she shifted again until she'd settled her head against his shoulder and had her arm draped across his chest, "would be the part about the honeymoon."
He thought he caught a measure of satisfaction in her voice, but whether it was because diplomacy had finally worked in their favor, or because she'd just slid her hand slowly along his flank and made him shiver, he really didn't care.
"In that case," he caught her errant hand and laced his fingers with hers, "remind me when we get back to see about filing for an extension."