Lies and Lack of Regret

Based upon Stargate: SG-1

Rating: T - for sensuality, but there's nothing here that you wouldn't see on TV

Okay, I couldn't help myself. This is a sequel to Chapter VI "Last Time" of Alternatives. You don't need to read that to understand this, but it's relatively short, so why don't you just go for it. This story takes place two weeks after said chapter, which is just after "Beneath the Surface," in an alternate reality.

- . - - - . -

The feeling never went away.

She had thought that it had, at least for a short time. But it didn't take her more than a couple of days to realize that the feeling - yearning, the need - was still bubbling inside her. Seeing him every day didn't help, either.

Seeing him every day and having her mind flooded by images, sounds, sensations, and emotions certainly didn't help at all.

"Sam?"

She jumped at the voice and looked up toward the door of her home office. There stood Janet.

"Sam, are you alright?"

She forced a small smile and nodded. "Janet, what are you doing here?"

She held up a travel mug. "I brought you some tea. I rang, but you didn't answer, so I let myself in."

"Oh," Sam forced a smile. "Thank you."

"Are you alright?' she asked again, handing Sam the mug.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Sam lied.

"No, you're not. You haven't been fine since you got back."

She subconsciously rubbed her eyes, which she could feel watering. "I don't know what you're talking about," she turned away from him a little and back to her computer, which had fallen idle due to her derailed train-of-thought over the past several minutes.

"Yes, you do," Janet said. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," she replied without missing a beat but paused, "and yes. But we can't have this conversation."

"No?"

Sam shook her head. "No." She had broken the rules and if she told anyone about it they would be obligated tell their superiors.

Janet nodded slowly, obviously understanding. "Let's pretend," she said taking a seat, "that I'm not in the Air Force, not your doctor, but just your friend."

Sam folded her hands in front of her face for a second and inhaled deeply. "There's this guy, and we can't be together," she finally said.

"Why not?" Janet asked, even though Sam was pretty sure she knew exactly who she was talking about.

"My job," Sam answered. "I just . . . Everything was fine until we - SG1 - got our memories erased and when I came back and I realized - we both realized - that it can't work." She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. "It's just that -" her voice jumped an octave, fighting the tears in her eyes which had started to fall, "this is the hardest break up I've ever had, and we weren't even really together." She wiped the tears from her eyes.

Janet reached out and put her hand on Sam's knee, tears in her eyes at her friend's pain. "Sam, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was this bad."

"I want him so much," she said through her tears. "I think about him all the time and whenever I do, a shiver starts in my chest and I just need to be with him."

Janet closed her eyes for a second, trying to think of what to say. "Sam," she said after a long pause, "I know this hard, but you know it's better this way."

Sam tipped her head back, closing her eyes in a futile attempt to stop the tears. "I know. I know. I just . . . I hate that it's better this way. I hate it."

"If anyone is strong enough to get over this, you are."

Sam took the hand on her knee and squeezed it. "I wish I could believe you."

Janet stood. "Go to bed, Sam. Get some sleep, it'll do you good."

Sam smiled falsely and stood up. "Alright, Doc."

Janet returned a smile, a genuine one, and headed out. "Good night, Sam."

"Good night, Janet."

Janet stopped and faced her again. "If you need anything, you can always call me."

"Thank you."

Sam walked her to the door and headed to her room. When she finally laid down to sleep, all she could think about was his arms around her and his breath on the back of her neck. She pulled her pillow tight to her body and gently cried herself to sleep.

- . - . -

"Sir, SG-1 is not fit for regular duty," Janet told General Hammond, sitting opposite him in his office.

"Why? Their mission to P9X-811 went well."

Janet shook her head. "No, Sir, it didn't. They all came back dehydrated and, both, physically and mentally exhausted. With regards to their physical health, I can't do anything for them. But they have all experienced a severe emotional trauma recently, and none of them are handling it well. Admittedly, Teal'c and Doctor Jackson seem to be recuperating slightly faster than Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter, but that's beside the point."

"What does Doctor McKenzie say about their condition?"

"Not much, Sir. They won't talk to him."

"Make them."

"We've tried, Sir. They just won't do it. You know SG1, they're a bunch of stubborn oxen."

Hammond nodded with an understanding smile. "What do you suggest, Doctor?"

"They need to be eased back into it. I recommend that we send them on the mission SG17 was supposed to go on next week." SG17 was supposed to return to P8Z-873, a planet with an agrarian society that SG1 had encountered almost a year previous. It was supposed to be a short visit, just to check in and make sure that everything was alright.

Hammond nodded again. "That sounds like a good idea, I will make the arrangements. We can take it step by step after that."

"Yes, Sir. I think they just need to learn how to work as themselves again."

- . - . -

Sam sat in her car, justifying her actions. She had come because that mission had simply been horrible. None of them had really slept. They had all jumped at every random sound. She had almost shot Teal'c when he had come around a corner. The Colonel had almost left behind his spare magazines. Daniel had make four mistakes in translating a pillar near the gate. It had taken them nearly an hour to figure out it was simply a "You Are Here" sign.

She was here, really, for the both of them. They both needed a pick-me-up, she told herself. They just needed to reset their systems so they could get a good night of sleep and return to work the day after tomorrow revitalized and ready to go.

She wasn't starting anything. She wasn't doing anything wrong. She just needed her fix.

Sam got out of her car and walked into his house without knocking. He was sitting on the couch, watching a hockey game. She knew that he wasn't really watching it, simply using it as something to stare at. She circled the couch, as soon as she entered his field of vision, he turned off the television and set the remote down, not taking his eyes off her.

Straddling his hips, she sat down on his lap and slung her arms around his neck. His hands found all-too-comfortable positions on her hips. For a long time, neither of them said anything, they just stared at each other, thinking the same thing.

This wasn't like last time.

They were done.

This was just a pick-me-up. They needed to wean themselves off the other. Now was a great time because of the horrible mission they had just gotten off of. Then they could go home, not see each other for a day and come back to work like nothing had ever happened.

The stress melted away as he slipped his hands under her shirt and slid them up her back. For a moment, she wondered why she had thought this was a bad idea.

Sam helped him strip her shirt off over her head before she leaned forward and kissed him gently. Yeah, she thought as his grip tightened and the caress turned into a massage, this is exactly what I need.

- . - . -

That was exactly what I needed, she thought to herself.

She could hear and feel the gentle rhythm of his breath on her neck. She felt fantastic. She felt like she could take on the entire galaxy single-handedly.

Her train of thought was derailed and she let out a small moan as Jack kissed her neck and ran his hands across her skin.

"This can't happen again," she said.

"Nope," he agreed, "it won't." The movement of his hands became a little more vigorous.

"We just needed to recover from that mission," she said as she reached back and cupped his neck, holding him to her.

"Yeah," he agreed again.

"I should go," she said, though she made no effort to get off his couch and out of his arms.

"Probably, but you could stay a little longer."

She didn't have to consider it, not when his hands were on her skin. Staying a little longer wasn't wrong. It's not like she was going to spend all day with him. She was just going to be there a little longer. She was just going to spend a few more minutes in the safe comfort of his embrace.

He started to turn her in his arms, working his lips around her neck towards her chest.

Maybe, she thought, staying all day would be a better idea. After all, they weren't doing anything wrong.

- . - . -

A group of small children was running toward them, laughing, yelling, and screaming their names. Most of them stopped in front of them, jumping up and down in excitement. The few who didn't stop, leapt onto Teal'c, screaming his name with exhilaration.

"O'Neill!" one of the younger children yelled in his local brogue, reaching out for his hand. "You said you would not be back! We're glad you lied!"

He took the little boy's hand, and allowed the boy to attempt to drag him towards the village. The Colonel looked around at his team. Teal'c was pulling the children off him as more jumped on. Daniel had picked up one of the shy little girls whom he had made friends with the last time they had been there.

Sam smiled at one of the young children she didn't recognize, who was being pushed forward by one of the older children, whom she did remember. "This is my wee sister," the boy said, smiling with his big teeth from behind his freckle-covered face. The girl fiddled with her red braids as her brother nudged her closer. Sam petted the girl's head, "I like your hair," she said with a smile.

The girl met her gaze and a big smile matching her brother's burst onto her face. Sam offered the siblings her hands and followed them to the village, the rest of the gaggle of children running circles around them.

Sam smiled to herself, today was a good day. She wasn't going to need a 'pick-me-up' later, neither of them were.

By the time they made it to the village, a few of the children had told the adults that they were coming and they were met with hugs and plates of food.

The woman who had gotten married when they were on the planet last, approached Sam with a newborn infant. Sam commented on how beautiful the baby was, and how much she looked like her father. Unbidden, a thought about a prospective child of her and the Colonel's appeared in her mind. She shook it away immediately and took the pastry offered to her.

Some of the older children run up to the Colonel with a wooden disc in their hands. "O'Neill," one of the girls asked, "Will you be on our team?"

"What are we playing?" he asked.

"Come on, it's easy," she grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the playing area.

"Then we get Teal'c!" one of the other children, obviously on the other team, shouted.

"Hold on," the Colonel laughed, removing his weapon and vest. He set them, along with his blouse, on the table. "Keep an eye on that for me, Carter," he said, hurrying away to join the game.

She and Daniel made the rounds, reconnecting with the people they had met and made friends with the first time. They explained that they were visiting because SG-1 had warranted some light duty, for once. Everyone laughed, claiming it was because they worked too hard. Sam and Daniel just smiled and nodded, agreeing.

After a while, things started to calm down. The athletes took a short break for some sweets and a drink, before they turned back to the field with a full vengeance. Sam and Daniel just sat down, side by side, on one of the tables, sipping the sweet cooled tea they had been given.

Sam watched Teal'c and the Colonel play with the young teenagers. It was a game similar to soccer, but with a Frisbee-like wooden disk. The children also considered it fair to attempt to tackle both of the adults. Though, Teal'c tended to make his way down field with three or four children hanging on him.

She watched the Colonel laughing and playing, and - once again - briefly entertained the thought of him playing with children that would belong to the both of them.

"We all knew about you two," Daniel said, breaking her concentration.

"What?" Sam met his gaze, water jumping to her eyelids.

Daniel's eyes shifted around as he wrung the mug in his hands. "Everyone knew. In fact, that's one of the reasons Kegan didn't like you. . . . She thought you were flaunting it."

"Daniel, I didn't-"

He cut her off, "I know that, now." He paused, thinking. "I know that you would never have wanted to make something like that the talk of the plant - or even public, for that matter. At least, I know that now that I remember you."

Sam wanted to respond in some kind, but she really had no idea what to say.

"You still want him, don't you?"

Sam was taken back by words, she felt like she had been slapped in the face.

After a few long seconds, Daniel spoke again, "Have you guys talked?"

Sam's eyes slipped closed. No, what they did definitely did not qualify as "talking."

"Sam, you guys really should talk."

"Daniel, I can barely look at him without . . ." she trialed off, thinking of the words. "I can barely look at him," she finalized.

"Sam -"

"No, Daniel," she said. "I can't," she cleared her throat against the rising lump. "I can't just walk into a room and have that conversation with him. It's just," the tears started to drip from her eyes. "I can't, Daniel. It's too hard."

Daniel put his arm around her shoulder comfortingly. "I know, Sam, I'm sorry."

She sat up a little straighter, wiping the few tears away. "No, it's okay. I'm over it," she knew she was lying, but wasn't sure whether she was lying to Daniel, herself, or both of them. She was pretty sure Daniel didn't believe her. "It's fine. I just need some time to get over him."

"Why don't you ask for some time off?"

Sam forced a sharp laugh, causing Daniel's arm to drop from her shoulder.. "And do what? Sit around at home, thinking about him?"

"Go to work at stare at him?" Daniel returned in the same sarcastic tone.

"I just need some time," she insisted.

Daniel shrugged, letting her alone.

She just needed time, she told herself. She could get over him. She was weaning herself off him. They hadn't been together since she had gone to his home a week ago, and she felt fine. She missed him, sure, but she didn't need him like she had needed him a week ago. It was a great deal of comfort knowing that if she had a relapse, a craving, she could go to him. She didn't have a craving, but knowing that he was available helped.

So, she was fine. She was getting over him. Slowly, but surely, she was getting over him.

- . - . -

Sam lay in her bed at home and stared at her phone. Col. O'Neill, it read. After several seconds, the light on the phone went dim, then dark, leaving her in the darkness of her room alone. She closed the phone, opened it, and hit the speed dial on her phone. Col. O'Neill, it read.

She didn't call him, but she wanted to.

It's not that she was having a relapse. It was just that she missed him. Missing him was alright. Missing him was allowed. Once again, her phone went dark and she repeated the procedure to see his name.

She wanted to hear his voice. It didn't really matter what he would say, she just needed to hear his voice. He had sounded so happy today, playing with those children. He would always be happy with their children, were they to - if they ever could - have children together.

She didn't need to hear his voice soft in her ear, she just needed to hear it. Yeah, it was okay to call him. Talking to him on the phone was fine. She was just weaning herself off him. It was fine.

Once again, she hit his speed dial, but this time, sent the call through. Calling it said Col. O'Neill.

"Hey," he answered in a soft tone. He either checked the caller ID for once and saw it was her, or he knew she was going to call. Either way, he sounded wide awake.

"Hey," she echoed, rolling onto her side and pulling her legs up a little.

"What's up?" he finally asked.

"Couldn't sleep," she said.

"Me neither."

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Driving."

"Where?"

"No where."

She paused, and neither of them said anything. They just listened to each other breathing for several long moments.

"I was thinking about today," she finally said.

"Yeah, me too."

"I had fun today. For the first time in a long time, I had fun."

She could practically hear him smile. "Me too," he said.

"I was thinking," she started. She was going to tell him about how she thought he would play with their children. "Never mind." No, it wasn't a good idea to give him that image too. They shouldn't think about kids. She wished she could talk about it, but no.

Again, silence reigned. She heard him slam the door of his truck. At least he was going home, she thought. Maybe he would stay on the phone when he got in bed and it would almost be like they were laying next to each other.

She imagined his arms around her. "I had fun, but it was hard today."

"I know," he said. "I know what you mean."

She imagined his breath on her neck, matching his words. A knock at the door disturbed her imagination. "For cryin' out loud," she groaned, getting out of bed.

"What?" he asked.

"There's someone at the door." She glanced at the clock. The entire damn planet better be blowing up if someone was at her door at 0230.

"At this hour?" he asked. "Be careful."

She smiled at his concern. "I will," she said, mocking him.

She turned on the hall light and opened the door. She froze when she saw him standing on her porch. "I'm gonna have to call you back," she said into her phone, dropping it.

He dropped his own phone on her floor as he took one step and engulfed her into his embrace. She grabbed both sides of his face and pulled his lips down to hers as he kicked the door shut behind him.

Okay, so she was dancing him backwards into her bedroom. It was just this once. There was nothing wrong with that.

- . - . -

"How's the team?" General Hammond asked Janet as he walked into her office.

"Incomparably better, Sir," she answered.

"Really, Doctor?"

"Yes, Sir. When they returned from P88-344, not only were they all completely healthy, SG-3 commented on how improved SG-1 seemed from simple encounters here in the Mountain. Colonel Reynolds said that everyone was 'on top of their game' and completely focused."

The General smiled. "I am relieved to hear that, Doctor. Do we have any idea what facilitated this dramatic change?"

Janet shook her head. "None at all, Sir. I recommend one more joint mission and if it goes as this one did, SG-1 will be fit to return to regular duties."

- . - . - Eight Weeks Later

"You need to leave."

"I am leaving," Jack said.

From what he was doing, she was certain that he wasn't planning on leaving any time soon.

"You're going to be late," she told him.

He chuckled against her skin. "No, I'm not." When she let out an involuntary moan at his ministrations he chuckled again. "You were saying?"

It took all her mental fortitude to not simply melt into him. "I'm going to be late." She put her hands on his shoulders and gave him the slightest pressure.

He groaned, accepting defeat, "Alright." While his hands and lips fell idle, he made no move to distance himself from her. She ran her fingers through his hair a few times before he groaned again and pushed himself up.

When he smiled down at her, she couldn't help but smile back. He leaned down and kissed her sweetly.

Sam savored his taste as he rolled off the bed. She propped herself up against the headboard, pulling the sheet up over her chest, watching him as he got dressed. Once dressed - mostly - he sat down on the side of the bed and playfully nibbled at the column of her throat. She tilted her head to give him better access and fiddled with the hair at the back of his neck.

Finally, he broke off leaving a few breaths of space between them. "See you later," he said quietly before leaving a chaste kiss on her lips and getting up.

She watched him leave with a smile. Usually they didn't spent the night together if they had an early morning. But, he had showed up at her house last night, and she wasn't about to turn him away.

So what, she thought as she got out of bed and made her way to the shower, it was okay. It's not like they were in a relationship or anything. They were just sleeping together, and not even on a regular basis. It was every night that they didn't have a mission, or an early meeting, or if she had to finish a research project. So, really, it wasn't anywhere near every night.

And, plus, sometimes they actually slept. Either they would have a quiet dinner and go to bed, both reading for about a half hour, or one of them would go to the other's house and collapse into bed, falling asleep instantly.

They definitely weren't in a relationship or anything. Okay, so last night had been the first time that - when the time came - she said his name. But that didn't mean anything. Sure, someone might say that it meant that she had finally realized that their actions were no longer the echoes of the people they had once been but the indulgence of the desires - the fix for the addiction- of the people they were now. But they would be looking too deep into it and neither she nor Jack were anywhere near that deep.

They weren't doing anything wrong. They were over their addiction. They could quit any time they wanted to.

- . - . -

"Hey," Janet's voice pulled Sam from her computer.

"Hey, Janet," Sam said with a smile.

Janet perked up instantly. "You're doing a lot better," she observed.

Sam nodded, turning toward her advancing friend. "I am."

"So, how did it go with . . . that guy?" she asked, leaning against Sam's desk.

Sam paused for a minute, considering how to respond. It's not like her and Jack were doing anything wrong. They were just sleeping together, but Janet might not see it that way. "Things . . . went out on a high note."

"Really?" Janet didn't sound as if she believed her. "Not that I'm not glad that you're doing better, but you were having such a difficult time before."

Sam shrugged. "We both reexamined who we were and what any kind of involvement would mean, and - uh - we came to a mutual decision." She mentally patted herself on the back. That wasn't even a lie in any sense.

Janet smiled again. "I'm happy for you, Sam. I really am."

Sam smiled. "Know what, Janet? I am, too, really."

- . - . - Five Weeks Later

"But, you've seen it, too, right?" Daniel asked as he picked up a pair of free weights.

"I have, indeed," Teal'c answered, his voice not at all strained by the weight on the bench press.

"Do you think we should do anything about it?"

Teal'c continued to press, "What would you have us do, Daniel Jackson?"

Daniel shrugged, throwing the weight up in a bicep curl. "I don't know. Tell someone?"

Teal'c did not respond. Not because he was unable, but simply because there was nothing to say, Daniel knew.

"I mean, we could tell General Hammond, but - really - what would that accomplish?"

Once again, Teal'c didn't answer. Daniel sort of felt like he was talking to himself, but he knew that Teal'c would respond when it was prudent. "It would ruin both of them. The military doesn't tolerate this kind of thing. I don't want to see that happen."

"None-the-less," Teal'c said, "if we have noticed something, there is no doubt that someone else will notice."

Daniel sighed, resting the weights. "Right. And if someone else goes to Hammond first, things are going to hit the fan. Do you think we should tell them?"

"What would we tell them?" Teal'c asked.

Daniel thought for a moment. He didn't know. Hey, Jack, we know you and Sam are sleeping together so you should cut it out before someone finds out. Yeah, that would be great. They obviously knew that what they were doing could ruin both of them. They knew the risks.

Daniel wasn't about to pretend that it was a passing affair. For one, he had known that there was something between his two best friends for some time now - years, in fact. For two, Daniel remembered the look on Sam's face when he told her that everyone in the plant knew about Jonah and Thera.

Daniel knew - knew - that she was in love with him; and he was in love with her, too. Daniel knew his friends, probably, better than they knew themselves.

So, he didn't know. Daniel had no idea what he would say to either one of them. "I don't know, Teal'c. Do you think anything we said would stop it?"

Teal'c considered the thought for a moment. "No," he said at length, "I do not."

"So there's nothing we can say," Daniel concluded. He glanced at Teal'c, from his silence, he knew the Jaffa concurred.

- . - . -

Sam walked into Jack's room to find him fast asleep. She smiled at him for a moment before changing into some pajamas and climbing into bed next to him. He didn't wake, which meant he was either in a deep sleep and dreaming or that he was pretending to be asleep. Since he didn't roll over and throw his arm over her without opening his eyes, she suspected the former.

She shifted her hips a little, stretching her back before fully relaxing into the mattress.

Without warning Jack started with a sharp inhale. He just breathed quietly - but rapidly - to himself for a second before rolling over. He rested his head on her chest and settled his arm over her.

"I like having you here," he mumbled, clutching at her night shirt.

He had had a bad dream, a nightmare that he couldn't remember. He had told her once that he liked listening to her heartbeat. He said that he liked it because it was regular and constant. She wanted to think it had something to do with reminding him that he was alive, but that would have been cliché.

She kissed the top of his head before settling her arms around him, listening to his even breath.

Okay, so there were in a relationship. It wasn't as if she was in love with him or anything. Sure, relationships weren't allowed but that was mainly because they tended to disrupt a good working environment. That definitely wasn't true in their case. If anything, they worked better together now that they were together. They both slept better than they had before, case and point: this evening. She - just plain - felt better. They communicated better while in the field, etc.

What was so wrong about it?

Neither of them were any less concerned about Daniel or Teal'c. They weren't any more or less likely to leave each other behind, for the sake of the rest of the team. SG1 had always had a bit of an unspoken agreement that no one would ever get left behind.

So, really, the only changes were positive changes. They had seen no negative side effects. Sure, they weren't telling anyone. They were keeping it all to themselves, but they liked not having to share. This was their thing.

Sam was sure that Jack had fallen right back asleep. She wished she could help more, but maybe just being a warm body and a steady heartbeat was enough sometimes. She knew that she liked listening to his heart. She enjoyed the simplicity of fundamental periodic motion. Ah, periodic motion. One of physics' most basic concepts.

She wasn't in love with him, but she - sure as hell - did love their relationship.

- . - . -

"You wanted to see me, Sir?" Jack asked as he walked into General Hammond's office.

"This can happen one of two ways, Colonel."

Jack stood up a little straighter, Hammond was upset. It didn't take him long to figure out what he was upset about.

"Either you can tell me what's been going on right here and right now, or I can open an official investigation and find out for myself. Either way, you're done with the Air Force." Hammond paused to let his ultimatum sink in. "However, the future of the second party is greatly dependant on the action you take right now."

Jack knew that if he admitted everything right now, Carter's career could at least be salvaged. She'd get some of the heat, but he would bear the brunt. "Sir," he said in his best officer's voice, "for the past five months -"

"Five months!" Hammond blurted out.

Jack paused for a second, obviously Hammond didn't understand the scope of the situation. "For the past five months," he began again, "I have been involved in an unprofessional relationship with a direct subordinate in my command."

Hammond just stared at him for a moment. "Jack, you should have told me," he finally said, the anger in his voice having faded. "You should have trusted me and told me. I would have transferred one of you and saved both of your careers. I would have saved this program, but . . ." he took a deep breath. "No one is too big to fall, Jack."

Jack knew that he and Carter's weren't too big to fail. They weren't the heart and soul of this organization, as some people may have thought they were. He knew that, Carter knew that. They could both be removed, but Jack couldn't let that happened to Carter if he didn't have to. "And if I say that Carter was acting completely against her will?"

Hammond forced a short laugh. "You and I both know she'll never let you do that."

Jack nodded. Hammond was right. Carter would never let him claim that he used his position as her superior to control her. That would save her ass, but put his in Leavenworth for a few years.

"Just," Hammond said, trying to formulate words. "What were you doing?"

"I was doing the only thing I know to do anymore."

"Which is what?" Hammond snapped. "Please, tell me. I would like to know what is the only thing you know how to do anymore? Because it sure as hell isn't anything the Air Force has been teaching you for the past 25 years!"

"Loving Samantha Carter," he said simply.

Hammond fumed for a second, unsure how to respond. "Get out," he finally said, in quiet frustration. "Your clearance is hereby revoked. Remove all your belongings from the premises and be completely out by COB today. Prepare to receive your discharge papers shortly."

Jack turned to leave, but paused at the door. He looked back at Hammond and considered him for a second. "You're wrong, Sir," he said. "I did learn that from the Air Force."

- . - . -

Jack got up from the couch when he heard a knock at the door. He opened it to see Carter, holding two duffle bags. "Since when do you knock?" he asked.

"I love you and I think we should live together," she blurted out, not stepping off his doorstep.

Jack held out his hand and took one of her bags. "Okay," he said. He hadn't said it surprise, or relief, but simple recognition and acceptance of her statement. Stepping aside and letting her into his home, he took her other bag and dropped them in the hallway. While he did, she grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. They met back up on the couch.

As he put his arm around her shoulder and she leaned against his chest, they turned their attention to the Discovery Channel show he'd been watching about "Big Foot."

"I'm sorry things got so screwed up," he said after several minutes of comfortable silence.

"Yeah, me too," she said.

"What's gonna happen to you?"

"I'm being reset to a junior Major, and I'm being put on training duty for the next nine months. Plus, I probably won't ever have my own command at the SGC."

He kissed the top of her head. "I'm sorry."

"No, it's my fault. I - . . . I didn't think I could stop, but I could've."

"I don't ever remember telling you 'no,'" he said.

She tucked her head back into his chest and fell silent for a few moments. "I'm not sorry," she said finally.

He knew that she meant she wasn't sorry about them. And - truthfully - despite that they completely ruined their careers and disappointed their friends, he wasn't sorry either.

- . - - - . -