A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm late, I'm late for a very important date! My apologies. Apparently Saturday is not at the start of the week... I was away for the weekend so I had a lot less time to write than I expected. That and this chapter just kept growing and growing. Anyway, thank you very much for all the reviews and I apologise for not replying but I will definitely reply to everyone from now on!

On to the much more important stuff - the story! Italics means it's a flashback (or is it a nightmare? I guess you'll have to figure that out. Mwahahaha...). This is the hurt/comfort-y bit now and a bit of friendship (it's only romance if you read it as such - you have been warned!) :D Hope you enjoy.

Sam shot upright, sweat streaming down her face as she hid behind her hands. She gulped for air, struggling to control her erratic breathing as her heart thundered in her chest. It hammered her ribs so hard it was almost painful. Sam swung her legs over the edge of the bed, resting her elbows on her knees as she continued to hold her head in her hands. A flash of residual memory from the nightmare that had woken her made her breath hitch. She balled her hands into fists and kneaded her weary eyes with her knuckles.

Sam was no stranger to nightmares – seven years at Stargate Command had made sure of that. Many of them had simply gone away, while some were so mild that other dreams engulfed them and she neither remembered nor woke because of them. But this was a new one and it brought forth memories of the countless other times one of them had been seriously injured or even killed. This one was almost the same every time, with only one variable. The exact cause of Colonel O'Neill's death was always changing – Sam's imagination conjuring up dozens of scenarios for her nightmares – but he was dead, and that was all that mattered.

Colonel O'Neill sends me an impatient glance as I scrape dusty soil into sample tubs. "Sir," I say with a sigh. "General Hammond asked all teams to look for possible Naquadah sources as the Pentagon is eager to build more ships like Prometheus." He looks blank for moment and I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "There was a memo, sir. Several, in fact."

"I know, Carter. I just hoped for once you wouldn't have read them," he says, pulling his cap lower as if to sulk like a child, but I know that hidden in the shadows his eyes are constantly checking their surroundings. One hand snakes up to key his radio, the other gripping the FN P90. "Teal'c, any sign of the locals?

"There is not." There is a barely perceptible note of irritation in Teal'c's voice – no doubt due to the colonel checking in with him every five minutes. I duck my head and pretend to be interested in my nineteenth soil sample, hiding my smile. "Did DoctorJackson not say this planet has been uninhabited for many millennia, O'Neill?"

It took a few minutes of forcing herself to take long, deep breaths before Sam felt calm enough to stand up, glancing quickly at the clock that glowed on the bedside table.

It was a few hours before she needed to get up and get ready to go to the base, but although her body craved sleep, she knew it would never come. Certainly, it would not come with fragments of the vivid nightmare still occupying her mind.

She hoped she truly was awake and that this was not just a new permutation of the recurring nightmares.

The situation we are in is not funny. And yet, I cannot help but smirk as Daniel squirms under the colonel's angry glare.

"Uninhabited, you said. No one here, you said. The Goa'uld have never been here, you said." Colonel O'Neill stretches his arms wide in exasperation, and although he is nearly shouting, we all know he is angry at being captured, not because Daniel might have missed something in the ruins he had been investigating for over seven hours.

"Actually, Jack–" Oh, this is going to be good. "I said the Goa'uld have probably never been here. There were no references to gods, deities, idols or anything else related to worship in the few texts you gave me time study. Surely if a Goa'uld had been here and enslaved the planet's population they would have written of their wonder and magical abilities. Right, Teal'c?"Daniel turns to the Jaffa, who has been standing silently a few feet from the thick metal bars that surround us and form our cell.

Teal'c's eyes dart from Daniel to the colonel and back. He inclines his head at Daniel. "That is correct, DanielJackson." Colonel O'Neill is sulking again, arms folded across his chest. I know if I remind him the UAV found no indications of habitation – Goa'uld or otherwise – within its search radius then he will only cast his annoyance in my direction. No thanks, Daniel can take the slack for a while.

The colonel opens his mouth to call Teal'c's loyalty into question but the dull clanking of approaching Jaffa silences him. He waves Daniel back from the bars while we stand just out of sight on either side of the bars. I see Daniel flash his hands at me three times, all ten fingers splayed. Thirty Jaffa, they must have heard great things about us.

There is the buzz of a staff weapon powering up and I see Daniel's eyes widen a little, but that is the only sign of any fear. "All must stand against the wall, or this one will die," says one of the Jaffa. Colonel O'Neill waits a beat and then nods to Teal'c and me, moving slowly out of the shadows to stand at Daniel's side.

"Hi, folks. I think there's been a bit of a mix-up with our travel visas. You see, we're supposed to be going fishing in Minnesota, which this obviously isn't, but I'm sure we can sort this out amicably and–" The colonel yells as the staff weapon discharges and scorches the floor barely ten centimetres from the his feet.

"Enough! You will come. You will bow before your great and powerful god, Wepwawet!" Just as the Jaffa swarm inside and grab our arms, Colonel O'Neill grins at me and mouths something which I interpret as 'Wet rabbit'. The pressure on my arms as they are twisted by the Jaffa stops me from laughing but I manage to roll my eyes at my commanding officer.

That is the end of his diplomatic efforts, then.

Resolutely, she pushed back her tangled hair, running her fingers through it and feeling them shake, then took a deep shuddering breath and made her way out into the hall. As she pulled open the door of her bedroom, part of her mind – the small part not focused on suppressing the images full of blood and pain and desperation – struggled to think of a reason why a picture, which looked like the Andromeda Galaxy in the dim hallway lit only by distant streetlights, was hanging on the wall opposite her.

This was not her house.

If it were then there would be a window with curtains and two small potted house plants growing happily on the windowsill. Plus, there were only a handful of people she knew that hung pictures of celestial bodies next to friends and family, and only one of whom she knew their current home address.

Colonel O'Neill dabs at his split lip with the collar of his BDU jacket as he eases himself to the floor beside me. We have been divested of everything but our clothes, shoes and tactical vests which have been pillaged, leaving only the small bandages we carry for less serious injuries or when we lose our first aid kits and a single canteen between the four of us.

I can feel the heat radiating from him, he is so close. Or maybe it is his intense scrutiny as he watches me shift on the cold ground, catches every wince as I investigate a small cut on my cheek. He did the same thing when Daniel returned – the archaeologist's only injury a cut smaller than mine on his palm from when he had been scurrying about in the ruins – but I cannot shake the feeling that this is more than the usual concern for his second-in-command. He is clearly deep in thought, but his constant staring at my shoulder is a little weird.

"Never seen a woman before, colonel?" I ask, knowing he is too focused on my current health to notice I am teasing him. I smile as his head shoots up and he looks at me blankly.


"You've been staring at me for the past five minutes, sir."

"Oh." He has the decency to look sheepish, although it probably has more to do with being caught than the actual action. "Sorry," he says as he holds my gaze for a moment longer and then, tiredly rubbing his eyes, looks over to Teal'c who is again standing near the bars. "Any ideas, big guy?"

The man in question turns slowly to face us and I make a mental note to check the nastiest of the cuts that pepper his face. One eyebrow raises and I know that is the only answer the colonel will get. Not like we expect to escape anytime soon – we have been here for almost six hours, two of which we were unconscious, and there has been no opportunity.

These Jaffa seem well versed in our various escape methods – maybe they study combat readiness and effectiveness against the Tau'ri too – and there are always more of them than us when we are moved. The only possible flaw I have discovered is that they only have four guards outside our cell at all other times. If we could just somehow disable the mechanism that causes the metal bars to slide and lock in place then maybe– "Carter..." Oh dear, the colonel is using his Earth-to-Carter voice, which means I have not being paying attention nor answered his questions.


"I–" He is cut off by a loud shout from one of the guards outside their cell, followed by heavy footsteps. The bars retract and Daniel is shoved inside sporting a new cut above his eyebrow, but otherwise fine.

The guard does not even have time to key in the code to replace the bars before a booming explosion rocks the complex. Instantly, the colonel is on his feet, suddenly energised and springing out of their cell like a man twenty years his junior. "C'mon, kids. That's our cue!"

A momentary feeling of something being wrong and Sam's concentration slipped for a fraction of a second. She shivered as a pale face with glazed eyes and blood bubbling over lips filled her mind. Forcing the image away, Sam rushed to the bathroom, stepping inside and pushing the door shut with a slam that seemed somehow louder in the darkness with only a crack of light seeping under the door. So far, she had not dared turn any lights on – already fearing what the sweat on her hands would be twisted into by her imagination. She tried to persuade herself that the metallic smell she inhaled with every juddering breath was just rusty fittings.

She hated this: the constant reminders, the flashes of memory, the disorientation of waking up and trying to work out what was real and what was a lie, but most of all she hated how badly she was coping. It was not like they had never been in that sort of situation before, but this time, no matter how horribly similar it was, it was still infinitely different.

Feeling her hands shaking, Sam reached out blindly for the sink, one hand gripping the counter edge while the other latched onto a tap and twisted it. She turned the tap on far too hard and cursed loudly as freezing cold water splashed everywhere. There was no one who would wake up and complain anyway, but still Sam winced and fumbled to get the jet of water under control.

Explosions continue to shake the ground beneath our feet as we move from alcove to alcove in the medieval town Wepwawet and his Jaffa occupy, avoiding the groups of Jaffa that dash around either trying to find the source of the chaos or recapture us. We scurry from our hiding place and round a corner of a stone house. Ahead of us, Jaffa guard a gatehouse and our exit. Daniel is the first to skid to a halt in the muddy ground and the rest of us follow suit as the Jaffa raise their staffs to point at us.

Suddenly a ball of flame and masonry erupt from one of the houses next to the Jaffa and they are engulfed in its destructive path, flying across what could pass for a narrow street and crumpling in a heap of rubble, limbs and staff weapons. Barely is the rubble settled before Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are jogging forward and taking the staffs for their own use. There is a zat'nik'tel half-buried and I grab it, thankful it is not damaged. "Move out, people," the colonel orders as he and Teal'c cover the way we have come.

The dusty fields surrounding the village have given way to forest, the low-hanging branches and tall ferns with sharp, jagged thorns along the spines of their leaves which we so easily avoided on our short hike to the ruins whipping at us as we race in the direction of the Stargate. Seemingly unaffected by the stinging cuts caused by thorns ripping through his flesh, Teal'c is bounding ahead of us all, clutching the staff weapon he picked up. Over the racket of us crashing through the thick undergrowth I can hear Daniel to my left panting and cursing in some alien language as a leafy branch slaps his forehead.

"Keep going, Daniel! I'll buy you new glasses when we get home," the colonel yells from behind me. I dare not look round in case I trip but I can hear how close he is – despite his dodgy knees and having more than a decade on me I know he could outrun us all if he wanted.

We sprint across a small clearing and I take the momentary relief from the branches to glance left and right. Daniel is still going, feet pounding the earth as he sucks in air, but the view on the right makes me stumble. I feel the colonel's strong hands on my arm keeping me upright and pulling me along. There is a Jaffa patrol chasing us, still far enough away to not bother firing but gaining slowly and on course to intercept us.

"Sir," I begin, but he cuts me off as we enter the trees again, ducking and weaving the more threatening obstructions.

"I know, Carter. Just keep going and we'll make it to the 'gate!" The tone of his voice makes it clear there is no room for argument and I pick up my pace to catch Daniel and alert him while the colonel focuses on getting his breath back and keeping up with us. Teal'c is moving quicker as well, but also keeping an eye on the patrol, I notice. Of course he saw them. He had probably also calculated that we could make it to the Stargate before they caught us.

After standing there, letting the calming sound of running water wash away the fragments of memory replaying in her mind, Sam cupped her hands and splashed her face, almost gasping at how shockingly cold the liquid was. This was most definitely not a dream, especially not a dream in which she lived in solitude in the house of her commanding officer. That realisation shocked Sam – she wondered just when she had gone from barely coping in her own house to barely coping in Colonel O'Neill's.

Warily, torn between avoiding the possibly blood-stained hands and deciding where exactly she was, Sam reached up and pulled the toggle that she knew controlled the shaving light. If her other hand had not still had the edge of the counter in a vice-like grip she felt sure she would have jumped about a foot in the air at the sight that confronted her. It looked like her – Major Samantha Carter, United States Air Force, PhD in theoretical astrophysics – but at the same time it did not.

The skin on her face was sheet white and deep lines stood out starkly where her jaw was set tightly, stubbornly refusing to waver. Similar lines radiated from the corners of her eyes – only her closest friends would recognise this as a sign of her pain and the effort it took to keep the majority of her emotion from her expression, the effort it took to prevent the tears she could not afford to let escape. The dark rings from lack of sleep under her eyes made her look vaguely like a panda – the thought of the endless remarks the colonel could come up with brought a grim half-smile to her lips that did nothing to improve her bleak reflection.

Slowly, as she managed to drag her eyes from her reflection, Sam realised that this was definitely Colonel O'Neill's house – his shaving brush and disposable razor sitting next to the sink and the basic, practical decor convincing her. She reached for a towel she recognised as her own and pressed it to her face, blocking out the dim light.

The rattle of a P90 in burst-fire mode spurs me on as the colonel and I dodge the Jaffa's weapons' fire. For a second I thank General Hammond for sending a team after us and then realise to my horror that the P90 is not being fired from ahead of us but behind us. They are using our own weapons against us!

As I race out from between the trees I can see Daniel sprinting to the DHD, Teal'c providing covering fire as the few Jaffa guarding the Stargate challenge their approach.

I dive behind a large boulder, coughing in the dust as I land and then scrambling to my knees to peer over the boulder. Colonel O'Neill drops down beside me with a hastily-covered wince, grabs my jacket and pulls me down just as a ball of energy zips overhead. "How many?" he shouts over the noise of discharging staff weapons.

"Maybe seven, sir," I yell back. He nods in agreement and I can see the cogs whirring as he decides on a strategy. He swings the staff weapon he has been carrying into a better position to fire over the rock and then signals me to move on three. I nod back and he starts counting down with his fingers.

One, I crouch on the balls of my feet, ready to move.

Two, I make sure I have a firm grip on the zat and that it is ready to fire.

Three, I push up and run toward the next boulder with a start my TI would be proud of.

I fire the zat in the general direction of the attacking Jaffa, Colonel O'Neill doing the same to keep them occupied while I scramble for cover. My heart pounds fiercely in my chest while my legs pump like pistons in a well-kept engine, carrying me quickly over the ten metres of hard ground. I slide behind another boulder just as a strangled cry erupts over the sound of staff weapons. A hurried glance from behind the rock allays my fear that the colonel had been hit. Instead, as I scan the area, shouting at the colonel to tell him I am in position, I count only five Jaffa remaining.

I am close enough to the DHD, Daniel and Teal'c – maybe twenty metres away; easy distance to cover at full sprint with the encouragement of a band of Jaffa raining staff blasts on your position – to hear the start Stargate spinning as Daniel dials the alpha site. A short rattle from the P90 in the enemies' hands peppers the boulder the colonel is crouched behind and a few staff blasts tear chunks out of it, spraying slivers of rock in every direction. From the grim, determined expression on the colonel's face, I know exactly what he is thinking.

"Sir," I yell, popping up from behind my hiding place and firing the energy weapon in my hands as many times as I can and as quickly as I can before they manage to adjust their aim. Two more Jaffa go down under my spray and Teal'c's accuracy. I duck again and can see Colonel O'Neill waving frantically at me. He wants us to go. He will provide covering fire while we all go through the 'gate. Will he hell! That is one order I will not be relaying to Teal'c and Daniel. We outnumber the Jaffa now, although they have the slim advantage of a P90 even in inexperienced hands.

"Sir!" More insistent, this time. I know he understands everything I am telling him just from the tone of my voice. His mutterings as energy shoots from the tip of his staff weapon are just congratulations on my making a wonderful discovery in the field of energy weapons. Or so I like to pretend. I spring up once more and lay down covering fire for him as he darts towards me – faster than I expected given the blood dripping from his arm where a staff blast had clipped him – throwing me a mutinous glare as he passes and keeps running. Teal'c takes down another Jaffa with pinpoint accuracy even as there is another burst of gunfire. Dirt kicks up around me – I have to drop behind cover to prevent being hit – and then the bullet spray moves on.

Glancing back, I can see the colonel is almost at the next boulder, turning around to be able to provide immediate support for me, when dust explodes at his feet. I hear him grunt, my ears finely tuned to the sounds of the others in the team, and a fine red mist bursts from his chest. As he collapses to the ground, Teal'c looses another blast from his staff which catches the Jaffa holding the P90 clean in the chest, sending the heavy armour flying back in a flash of smoke and yellow light.

I am screaming. Screaming obscenities at the Jaffa who shot the colonel as the last remaining Jaffa turns tail and fleas into the woods, unaware of the double zat blast I fire his way. Screaming at Daniel and Teal'c to check on the colonel. Screaming at the colonel himself. I do not wait to see if the energy from the zat finds it target, already on my feet and racing towards Colonel O'Neill.

Shaking her head to clear the images away, Sam just wanted to scream, to shout the house down and drown out the pain of reliving the mission over and over again. In that instant, as she flung the damp towel onto the floor and scrubbed her face with her hands, she knew exactly what she needed, and wanted, that would take away the nightmares and flashbacks, if only for one night so she could get some sleep. Maybe then, with a fresher mind when she woke up she could deal with her grief properly.

Sam pushed open the bedroom door as quietly as she could, peering through the crack as soon as it was big enough to put her head through. She just wanted to check, to make sure that it had all been a horrible nightmare. She just wanted to see where he slept – that would convince her one hundred percent.

Dawn was creeping closer and in the faint light sneaking through a crack in the curtains Sam could just make out the lump on the bed under a thin quilt. She could see it rising and falling regularly, could hear the slow, soft snores. Sam caught the smell of the infirmary – the medication, the disinfectant, the bedding – and found it oddly comforting in a room that smelled like Colonel O'Neill, the most anti-being-in-the-infirmary person she knew.

She just wanted to stand there and bask in the relief that flooded her.

There was a quiet grunt and then an incoherent mumble from the bed, and Sam felt a smile tug at her lips.

She had not woken him and that was ideal. It would give her time to just sit and observe, to soak up the energy of life that rolled off him, even if he was exhausted and pale. Carefully, Sam picked her way across to the side of his bed, biting back a curse as she stubbed her toe on the foot of the bed, and lowered herself gently into the chair. He lay on his back, probably about the only position he could get comfortable with his injuries. She studied his face as he slept peacefully. Watching him sleep for a few minutes before waking him for his watch had become a habit while offworld and sharing a tent, especially since they had found Daniel and the colonel's nightmares had become less frequent and disruptive.

He gave another grunt, harsher this time and Sam did not need to be able to see his face properly to tell that he is in pain. His hands grabbed at the quilt, bunching it in his fists, and Sam could not help reaching out to prise the fingers of his right hand open and slipping her hand into his. She was surprised when he flinched at the contact and snatched his hand away, but his eyes were not open so she assumed he still asleep, trapped in one of his god-awful nightmares.

Reluctantly, trying to decide if she should wake him or let him sleep restlessly, Sam withdrew her hand, placing them in her lap with a frown and rubbing them subconsciously.

"Sir, listen to me! I need you to open your eyes. Please, sir." My voice shakes as I squeeze the colonel's hand. I refuse to call him Jack, even if I want to, because using his first name means he is dying. That is not an option. I look up as a dusty hand holds an even filthier jacket out to me. "Daniel, finish dialling the 'gate!" I know I sound harsh and callous when he is being helpful and is just as concerned as I am for the colonel, but Daniel nods as I take the material from him – ripping it into three large pieces – and hurries back to put in the other six symbols of the Stargate.

"MajorCarter, we must hurry before reinforcements arrive," Teal'c calls from where he is watching our six. I turn back to the colonel. His eyes are still shut but I can tell he is alive by the gurgling audible in his throat as he struggles to breathe through the blood. "Sorry, colonel," I mutter as I press the shredded jacket to one of the bullet wounds, eliciting a low groan. His brow creases into a deeper frown as his breathing hitches, dissolving into weak coughs that spatter my uniform with blood.

Someone shakes my shoulder and I start at the sudden warmth in the touch – Colonel O'Neill already feels cold and clammy. When I stare up at him, Daniel has a grim smile on his face and the Stargate is shimmering behind him. "Come on, Sam." Beneath my hands, I feel the colonel tense as he manages a shuddering gasp and then his eyelids drift open and he stares up at me with unfocused, glazed eyes. The pain spears me and I cannot break the contact. He is communicating as we always do – with our eyes – but this time I refuse to read the message in them. I shake my head vehemently.

"Leave– only sl– down," he gasps between wet coughs.

"No, sir! It'll all be OK." If I have told him once, I have told him a thousand times, we will not leave him behind. Period.

"Carter, I– ah god..." His back arches and I can almost feel the pain running though his body, fresh blood bubbling at his lips as my heart aches at his suffering. Daniel's voice shocks me back to reality.

"Jack, we're at the 'gate. Janet'll have you in her clutches in minutes. Sam, come on!" I know Daniel means it as encouragement for the colonel, but I do not think he heard it. He is still staring up at me, fighting to draw breath. "Please... Sam." My eyes, soft and pleading up until then, take on a hard, determined edge – he is not doing this to me, no way.

"We are not leaving you, sir. You're going to be fine. So shut up and let us get you home. Sir." Eyes sliding shut, he nods weakly and then Teal'c lifts him carefully and they set off to the open Stargate.

The blood was everywhere. It was always there. Even scratching at it with her fingernails had not helped. A larger, scarred hand slid over hers as she continued to rub them together, wrapping around her agitated fingers and stilling them with its warmth. "S'OK, Carter." His soft voice, thick with sleep, reminded her she was not alone, making her jump. She had been so focused on her hands that she had not noticed she was muttering to herself, or that the colonel had woken.

She refused to meet his eyes as she looked up and anywhere but his face. "I didn't mean to wake you, colonel, sorry," she said softly, hoping he would just go back to sleep so she could avoid getting into a conversation she did not think she was ready to have. "Carter..." All traces of sleep gone from his voice, he drew out her name to make sure she knew it was a question. Nope, no escape now. Sam slid her gaze to his eyes, frowning at the concern she saw in them. "I'm fine, but shouldn't I be the one asking you that?"

"Carter, I'm fine," he replied automatically, grimacing as Sam scowled at him in disbelief. "OK, I will be fine," he added with a huff that pulled at his stitches, making him wince. "A little tired, maybe. Some stiff muscles, nothing major, Major." He smirked at his own attempt to lighten the mood. Sam wanted to scream at him.

Colonel O'Neill had had multiple blood transfusions and the bullet wounds had required complicated thoracic surgery, after which Janet had placed him in a medically-induced coma so that his body could begin to heal while on a mechanical ventilator to support his damaged lungs. It had left him completely drained, drawn and pale despite his blood levels being replenished, and after two weeks of bed rest confined to the infirmary – five days of which were spent unconscious before they felt it best to remove the ventilator to reduce the risk of pulmonary complications like pneumonia.

They sat in heavy silence, staring at each other as if daring the other to speak first.

Sam broke the silence first. "Do you trust me, sir?" she asked quietly.

"Of course I do, Carter. How could I not?" he shot back, confused and concerned.

"You– You called me 'Sam'. Back there on P4T-975 when you..." She cut off with a wave of her hand that swept over his chest, indicating his injuries. The colonel hoped his confusion did not show as – not quite sure how to respond – he replied simply, "Oh." As Sam's face darkened with a glower in the dim light of his room, he realised that had not been the response she had expected.

"'Oh', is that it?" Her anger was barely controlled, and the colonel knew it, keeping quiet. "You only use my first name when you're dying. You weren't and you didn't believe me when I said you were going to be fine."

"In hindsight, I suppose not," he said softly. "But it sure as hell felt like it at the time, Carter. I'd lost a lot of blood. I was–"

"Yes, sir," Sam said sharply, making it clear that she did not think that was an excuse.

"Carter," the colonel started with a deep sigh, gingerly propping himself up on his elbows. "I'm sorry. I do trust you, believe me. I trust you with my life, as do Teal'c and Daniel." His arms were shaking, the wound on his shoulder left by the staff blast aching, but he needed to make sure Sam heard what he said. "But more than that, Carter, I trust you to do the right thing, even when I can't. And I think you more than proved that out there when you got us all back safe and sound."

They sat staring at each other, Sam with a glare plastered on her face, O'Neill with a grimace as his chest tightened and it became more difficult to breathe. Eventually, he sank back onto the comfortable bed with a pained hiss and closed his eyes, willing away the short stabbing pain from his stitches.

Sam thought he had fallen asleep once more when he relaxed and his breathing evened out, but a soft murmur proved her wrong. "Can I call you Rascal instead, then?" He sounded like an exhausted four-year old and Sam instinctively reached out to hold his right hand, rubbing her fingers over his knuckles soothingly. Still, his remark was puzzling. "Sir?"

"He's a racoon from a kid's book I read to Charlie. You look 'bout as bad as I feel and a little like Rascal." He definitely sounded half-asleep, and to have mentioned his son with no flicker of sadness was another indicator, but he still managed a smirk. Sam smiled in return – clearly his painkillers were maximum strength and long-lasting this time if he was comparing her to a racoon. Janet never did trust him to take his medication on time, if at all. "Thanks, sir," Sam said, voice layered with playful sarcasm. Colonel O'Neill grinned lopsidedly back at her as his eyelids began to droop. "Night, sir," Sam whispered, still rubbing his knuckles.

When she looked down at her hands she saw they were completely clean and not even flashes of their most recent trip through the Stargate turned them blood-red. "Thanks, sir." Sam smiled again and then leant back in the chair, falling asleep almost instantly.

A/N: :D I'm pretty sure this chapter benefited from making it about 3000 words longer than I intended, and hopefully the wait was worth it. Let me know what you thought of this, please :) Plus, SamJack romance is quite possibly the only believable romance I have found in any of my favourite shows but I personally will not write their relationship as such, at least not intentionally... Oh and one last thing - I never thought I would use the word 'period' in its American usage, but there you have it...

I have another H/C/Angst/Whump story floating around... and then, ya know, another one which is an alternative ending to Torment of Tantalus. Probably, depending on if I find a job or not, I'll get those done and dusted by the end of my very long summer holiday! :D