CHAPTER 8

Having reluctantly finished her blue jello, Colonel Samantha Carter turned her assault onto the less than spectacular looking potatoes. Not for the first time, she wondered if this concoction could even be classified as food. Luckily this evening she wasn't in the least bit interested in how it tasted, but rather how long she could go avoiding eating it. If it were anything like the jello, she estimated she could drag this meal out for another twenty minutes - tops. That simply would not do. Once they were finished eating she would have to let go of Jack's hand, and that quite clearly was not an option right now. Her hand was right where it had sought to be for eight long years, and it was putting up a fight not to be ripped away from its rightful place. Sam wasn't about to argue with it to let go, because frankly, she was completely with the hand on this one.

"I'm going to make a formal complaint sir." Sam threatened, trying her best to appear as serious as possible. Apparently her acting was a little too good, as Jack looked slightly taken aback. Surely he would never think she meant a complaint against him? The only complaint she had against him was that he wasn't touching her nearly enough. "These meals aren't nearly big enough."

The momentary look of concern faded from his expression, much to Sam's relief.

Jack rewarded her efforts with an incredibly sly, and knowing - not to mention sexy - smile. Proving to her yet again, he wasn't nearly as slow as he pretended to be. Or perhaps it was more that he read her intentions as well as she could read his.

"I think you're right Carter." Jack played along. "I really should get on the red phone about this."

"The president really should know about this sir."

"Something has to be done."

"Perhaps we could get second helpings?" Sam shrugged as if the idea just came to her.

"We are the planet's number one line of defence. It's only fair we get an extra jello at least."

"Absolutely." She smiled at him again, thrilled he had picked up on her obvious excuse to remain sitting in the commissary for another half an hour. Unfortunately she still needed to tackle the seemingly insurmountable task of relinquishing his hand, to get her hands on that jiggly blue excuse. She could think of a few other things she'd much rather get her hands on…Any part of Jack O'Neill would do quite nicely. She was still having trouble believing this was all happening. She never thought she'd see the day when General O'Neill would put his hand on her thigh in the middle of the commissary. Just one of the many little desires that she shoved down over the years. As much as she wanted to indulge in those fantasies, the consequences were far too painful to live with. His presence, his smile, his voice – those all in sighted some pretty unbearable yearning as it was. Bringing in ideas of what his skin felt like, what his eyes looked like when full of desire, what his lips tasted of …That was just asking for trouble.

As hard as she'd tried to convince herself, her heart refused to believe the lies her head told. But she feared the moment she stopped lying to herself, the overwhelming longing might just become unbearable. Possibly prompt her to do something she'd always wanted to do, which when it came to Jack O'Neill was a lot of things.

Jack turned his attention away from Sam for a moment – a feat indeed - and to the airmen sitting at the table about six yards away. One of them at least, appeared to have finished his meal and was rising to his feet. Jack watched eagerly, awaiting the actions of the rest of the company. Dare he hope?

Sam followed Jack's gaze across the room. She soon realised what had caught his attention. Once the airmen were gone, they would be completely alone. Well apart from the ever looming security cameras. But at least they could have some freedom to say what they wanted, and truly enjoy each others company.

Much to the disappointment of both Sam and Jack, only two of the young gentleman rose to their feet, greeting their fellow soldier's goodbye, before exiting the commissary.

They both eyed the two remaining airmen, with a distinct look of resentment written on their faces. Although Sam had to wonder if it wasn't all for the best. She was having difficulty keeping her rising desires in check, even with their presence. Once they left, she was concerned she might snap entirely.

"So? Blue or green? That is the question." Jack announced, smiling at her in a way she found entirely sexy. "Need I ask?"

"I'll get it sir." She offered.

"I really don't like that word Carter." That was an understatement - he truly despised that word, always had. At least when it was coming from her perfectly kissable lips. Every time he heard it, it was a stabbing reminder of their military rankings. Not a day since he met her had he thought himself in any way superior to Samantha Carter. He wanted to hear her call him Jack again. The way she would if things were the way they always should have been.

"I know." He could see in her gorgeous blue eyes that she truly understood why. "But I'm sure you'll be hearing me call your name soon enough."

Jack's breath hitched for a moment and his hand tightened involuntarily in her own - just the reaction she'd been hoping for. Sam quickly reprimanded herself. Although the obvious way his breath quickened with her somewhat suggestive comment made it hard to completely regret it. Still, she quickly averted her gaze to the massacre of potatoes before her, far less compelling than the beautiful brown orbs of General Jack O'Neill.

Jack was having an awfully hard time convincing himself he didn't desperately need to kiss Carter's neck. For the first time since they entered the commissary he was grateful there were other personnel present, as he wasn't sure he could hold out otherwise. As it was he estimated one or two more comments like that could push him completely over the edge, other personnel or not. He'd held out on temptation for eight years, but last night had opened the flood gates that were now threatening to wash him away. Nothing he'd felt in his entire life could compare to the way he felt about Sam. He'd loved before of course, but this… This was Carter. The woman who had stood beside him, fought beside him, laughed at his stupid jokes for eight long years. He'd never shared with any woman what he shared with her. Jack wasn't sure if he believed in soul mates, but if he did…She was his.

"So? Umm…" Sam paused. Jack could tell she was regretting the comment she just made. Jack didn't want her to regret the comment she just made, because the comment she just made was entirely hot. Regret could easily put a dampener on any further comments of that nature. "Would you like more green jello?…Jack?"

Now that was hot.

"No, I think I'll go for the blue this time around. That is, if you're willing to share?"

She was still playing with the mash potatoes on her plate, in what looked to Jack, like an attempt to avoid his gaze. He gave her hand slight squeeze. She gave in and turned to look at him.

"With you?" Sam pretended to consider him for a moment. "Always."

Sam's grasp loosened from his fingers, and he could sense the reluctance she had in letting him go. He wasn't at all pleased about it himself, and hoped it would prove worthwhile. She treated him to that gorgeous smile of hers as she rose to her feet. Jack had to use every drop of self control he had, not to turn and enjoy the sight he often enjoyed as she walked away. Under normal circumstances, he could allow himself that little luxury once and a while. He tried to keep himself in check the majority of the time out of respect for her; although he knew she didn't mind, she'd caught him at it many times and it was usually met with her rolling her eyes and that beautiful smile. But currently the incredibly gorgeous sight of Carter's perfectly shaped six posed too much risk to the some what tenuous grip he had on his self control. Jack drummed his fingers on the table top, trying in vain to distract himself from how empty his hand felt. He was beginning to see what Carter found so fascinating about mashed potatoes.

Within a moment - although it felt much longer to Jack - Carter was standing beside the table handing him another round of dessert. He wasn't in the least bit hungry, but he'd stuff down a hundred jello's if it meant being able to stay close to Carter. He really wanted that hand back.

It appeared as if that wasn't going to happen anytime soon though. Sam was busy seating herself on the opposite side of the table, the way they would sit on your average day. Jack suspected it was an attempt to distance herself from the situation, and he completely understood why that was a very good idea. He could always count on Carter for a good idea. Still…He missed that hand. He tried not to let the disappointment show on his face. Given that he was known for his cool exterior, he was pretty sure he could pull it off okay.

"Something wrong?"

Doh! Apparently his attempts to act nonchalant were a bust.

"Yeah, I just…This table is awfully wide don't you think?"

She beamed at him, well aware that he was missing her already.

"I do. It's quite ridiculous." Sam reached for her spoon, ready to tuck into her second helping of blue jello. Finding herself unable to tear her eyes away from Jack's, she accidentally bumped the spoon off the table. When she bent down to retrieve it, the somewhat famous Carter light bulb went off. Once Samantha Carter had an idea she was compelled to run with it…She had to know what the outcome would be. Too bad she couldn't run any simulations to test run this particular idea.

When Sam's head peeked back up from its brief escapade under the table, she beamed at Jack with a hint of something he couldn't quite read. He returned the intoxicating smile all the same. A gorgeous smile was a gorgeous smile, who was he to question what it was she was so happy about?

There was a flurry of movement from the ever-present airmen a few tables away. Within a few moments they had risen to their feet and exited the commissary. Jack wouldn't have thought it possible, but Carter looked even happier than she had before. He was pretty chuffed himself. He had no idea what he wanted to say to her, or even if he should say anything at all, but he deemed having the opportunity to be alone with the woman of his dreams a good thing.

"I never asked you about your day." Sam was still smiling, but much to Jack's disappointment it had faded somewhat.

"Oh, you know. Same old, brink-of-having-our-asses-kicked day." Sam gave him a quick smile and turned her attention down to her dessert. Something seemed to have changed her mood all of a sudden. She looked bothered by something. Not that there wasn't a hell of a lot to be bothered by at the moment. Her father had only been gone a day. Daniel was still missing. She'd hopefully just called off her wedding. Jack was almost certain Sam wouldn't be here with him if she hadn't, but she was yet to confirm, and he wasn't about to push the subject. The subject of Pete Shanahan could never be visited again and he'd be glad of it. He didn't like to think of her with anyone el-…Oh crap.

"Carter…" When Jack said nothing more she looked up from her jello. "Would you like to come to my place for a barbecue sometime?"

She smiled. Could he really know what she had been thinking about?

"I'm not sure sir, from what I've seen you aren't too good with the grill."

"Pish posh Carter. I'll use extra beer on yours." She giggled at him, but he could see the sadness was still there. "It'll be great…Just the two of us…No distractions."

"Distractions?"

"None. I promise you that. I'm one hundred percent certain of it. Nothing will ever distract me from you again."

That's all she needed to hear. She could read in his eyes that whatever he'd shared with Kerry was well and truly over. She'd already suspected it was nothing much to begin with; she just needed that confirmed before she took things any further.

"Hmmm. I'm still not sure sir. I might need some more convincing."

"Oh?" Jack raised his eyebrows at her, in a manner Sam found incredibly sexy. "And what exactly would that entail Carter?" He smiled his utterly gorgeous smile.

That utterly gorgeous smile was the go signal she'd been waiting for. Time to put her light bulb idea into action.

"You tell me sir." She said, slowly sliding her foot across the floor until it found Jack's boot. She could see him flinch slightly at the contact.

"How does a nice couch sound to you?" He offered.

"A couch?" Sam questioned. She decided to leave her foot where it was for the moment, hoping he might consider it an accident, rather than the strategically placed weapon it was.

"Yes. I have the best couch from here to P3X-774. You can have it all to yourself if you want."

"P3X-774? I'm not sure the Nox even have couches sir."

"Well then they can hardly be called a superior race can they?"

"It does sound appealing sir. But I'm not sure I'd like sitting there all by myself."

"I could join you if you'd like?"

Sam pointed her toe out, and ran the side of her foot up the inside of Jack's leg, enjoying the involuntary gasp it incurred from the man she loved. She stopped half way up his calf, not wanting to push him too far. She smiled with satisfaction as she saw his hands clench on the table in front of her.

"That sounds great sir." She thought her voice sounded pretty natural; considering her heart was racing like she was fleeing from enemy fire.

"I may even let you choose the movie." Jack was exerting all the will power he could muster in an effort to remain calm.

She slid her foot up his leg again, but ran it all the way to the top of his knee this time. She quickly concluded that this was the most comfortable footrest she'd ever come across in her life. Granted she rarely put her feet up…But after this little escapade she decided to rethink that policy.

"May?" She asked, with a look that said she knew exactly what effect she was having on him.

Currently Jack was having trouble remembering that he needed to breathe.

"You choose." He surrendered, the look of utter defeat in his eyes.

Sam smiled, rather pleased with the results of her little experiment.

"How about The Simpsons?" She suggested, with a slight hint of embarrassment in her voice.

"You want to watch The Simpsons?" Jack had a very hard time believing Carter could get any more amazing.

"I would really like to analyse your 'Burns as Goa'uld' metaphor."

Sam's foot slid a little further down the inside of his thigh. Jack was pretty sure at this point she was trying to kill him. Not that he minded at all. He could only hope it was a really, really slow death.

It wasn't just the physical contact that was driving him mad, but the idea of sitting on the couch with a beer, with Carter in his arms, watching the Simpson's. She really was the most insurmountably perfect woman in the entire galaxy. And the fact that she wanted him…Yeah, that pretty much knocked his socks off.

"You've got yourself a date Carter."

"I'll bring the beer."

She'll bring the beer? There really wasn't a word in existence that could adequately describe how damn perfect she was…

Just at that moment, the commissary loudspeaker decided to pipe up with the voice of Sergeant Harriman.

"GENERAL O'NEILL PLEASE RETURN TO LEVEL 28. I REPEAT, GENERAL O'NEILL TO LEVEL 28."

Jack couldn't help but feel the timing was entirely typical. He really ought to fire that guy.

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I posted a video on YouTube during the week to accompany the prologue. In all honesty it was just an excuse to watch the Grace kiss in slowmo over and over. :) You can find it via my profile.