Stargate SG-1 Sam/Jack Fanfiction

Previous Chapter                    Chapter List

Sam/Jack Fanfiction, Sam/Jack Fanfiction, Sam/Jack Fanfiction

Rating: R

Sexual situations.

Big thanks to Channach for plot-editing this chapter and to Raven Clark for style-editing this chapter with me. Also huge thanks to Shoe Queen, who worked as a third beta for this chapter!

Sam/Jack Fanfiction, Sam/Jack Fanfiction, Sam/Jack Fanfiction

Sam looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath. Concealer covered the rings under her eyes and the remnants of the bruise on her cheek. Almost as though nothing had happened. If only…

Somehow her entire life was falling apart. What was she doing wrong? Her fingers tightened on the sink. The past two days Jack hadn’t come home. Even Daniel had no idea where he was.

She closed her eyes. When she’d told him she loved him he hadn’t said it back. Did he want to end their relationship? Her stomach clenched. After all that had happened, she wouldn’t be able to handle that. She’d only just gotten him back.

She looked at the clock on the nightstand. The party would start at seven. She had no idea whether he’d show up, but Daniel and Vala had gathered everyone from the resistance currently in Powhatan. If he didn’t show…

Her throat tightened. Where else was she supposed to look? Maybe he didn’t want to be found. If he didn’t want to open up to her, there was nothing she could do. She couldn’t blame him for not trusting her anymore. Who would after what she’d done, after how she’d failed him?

Heart heavy, she straightened out her black dress and practiced her smile in the mirror. It was six thirty. Time to go.

Hand at the door, Jack paused a moment. After what had happened two days ago, would Sam be here tonight? Would she be willing to talk to him? Would she give him another chance?

He took a deep breath before he entered the bar. Soft music played in the background. The scent of stale beer almost nauseated him. No beer for him tonight. He’d stick with sodas or water for a while.

Thanks to the Tok’ra procedure, most of the past four months was a blur. As though in a fog, there was something there, but he couldn’t grasp it. He often had to remind himself of how much time had passed since he and Carter had gone to the Aschen homeworld.

He looked around in the bar. Daniel and Vala argued at a table near the window, McKay hovered over a buffet in the corner, his arm around Keller’s waist, and Sheppard played cards with a few guys from former resistance Cell 1. When Keller spotted Jack, she withdrew from McKay and walked over.

“Colonel. How are you feeling?”

Feeling. Everybody kept asking him that these days. Maybe he’d have to get used to it. At least for a while. “Good.”

“Nausea? Disorientation?”

“None. Except for the occasional confusion when I realize how much time has passed.”

“That’s to be expected.” She gave him a smile. “Go easy on the alcohol. Doctor’s orders.”

“Won’t touch it.” He looked around. “Is Carter here yet?”

“I saw her over at the bar earlier.”

“I’ll see you around.”

“Colonel.”

Jack faltered and raised his brows.

“Your memories will return, and you will have to deal with them. If you don’t, it defeats the purpose of the treatment.”

“I know that.” He wished people would stop reminding him. Fine, so he had occasional problems relating his emotions to others. He just wasn’t willing to spill his guts out to everyone. He’d talk to Carter, and if she wasn’t willing to listen to him, he’d go talk to Daniel. Nobody else had to know what he’d been through. Not the details at least.

He looked at the counter, but Sam wasn’t there. He strolled around the barroom to the back, where he finally found her in a corner booth by herself. A bottle of beer rested on the table. She was peeling the label off the front.

Guilt stabbed at him. No smile. Not even that gleam in her eyes that always made his day better. “You know what they say about beer bottles and peeling off the label.”

Her head jerked up and she held his gaze. Still no smile. All right, attempt at humor failed. He sat down opposite her.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d show up tonight.” Caution flashed across her features.

Had he really gone so far over the edge that she felt she had to walk on eggshells around him? He had to make this right. Somehow.

“It’s a resistance gathering after all.” Silence. “Are you okay?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I don’t remember the last time I was.”

His stomach tightened. “Sam, what happened the other night… I can’t even remember, when I…what I… I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He scraped his hand through his hair. “You gotta believe me.”

She glanced down at her bottle. “I know, it wasn’t your fault. You were asleep. You’ve been through a lot.”

Right. She had to say that. “So have you.” She lifted her gaze to his.

Another silence fell between them.

This content is property of http://www.kimberley-jackson.com.

“I wish…” Her voice broke.

“What?” He gentled his tone and leaned forward.

“I wish we could go back to how it used to be.” The wet shimmer in her eyes almost broke his heart.

He grazed her hand with his fingers. “If you wanted to, we could try.”

“Do you want to try?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“I let you down. I didn’t have your back on the Aschen homeworld. And because of that…” She tensed and bit her lower lip.

Was that why she’d put up with his mood swings for so long? Because she thought she deserved to be punished for leaving him behind?

“Carter. I ordered you to leave. If you’d stayed you’d be dead now. I’d still be alive.”

“I should have considered the possibility of a force field. If I’d known what we were up against, I might have been able to disarm it. Maybe someone more experienced—”

“Nobody knew. McKay and Felger didn’t think of it either. We relied on faulty intel. Nothing indicated there’d be a force field. You can’t predict everything.”

“Wasn’t that my job, though?”

Affection pulled at him. The need to draw her into his arms grew almost unbearable. Would she welcome his touch?

“Sometimes missions go wrong. I never blamed you. Not even for a second. I was an ass the past few weeks. That had nothing to do with you.”

“It didn’t?” She bit her lower lip and played with the half-loose label on her bottle. “What about Joe?”

He cleared his throat and straightened in his seat. Not a topic he wanted to discuss, especially with his most recent shortcomings where his man parts were concerned. “I understand why you agreed to marry him. I’ve been in a breeding facility. Any option is better than having to go through that, so I don’t hold it against you.”

“Really?”

“Carter. From what I heard, you thought I was dead. And besides, it was just a marriage of convenience. It’s not like you two… you know.”

She closed her eyes and flinched. “We did.”

He swallowed hard as his stomach tightened. So she and Faxon had… “Oh.”

“Only once. I missed you so much and couldn’t stand being lonely anymore.”

“I see.” Maybe he should have gotten a beer after all.

“I’m sorry.” She looked down at her bottle again. “If it helps, it wasn’t very… you know. And I had to concentrate not to think about you.”

“Helps a little.” Damn male pride.

She looked miserable, with her head lowered, her shoulders slumped, and her fingers tightening around the bottle. Sympathy pulled at him.

In many ways, her torture had been worse than his. He’d known she was alive. But she must have felt as though she’d lost everything. Would he have been able to make it through the torture if he’d thought she was dead?

He got up from his seat and slid onto the bench next to her. Who cared what she’d done in the past months? He was home, and on the way to getting back to his old self. Now all he wanted was to make things right with her. “C’mere.”

Her breath hitched as she wrapped her arms around him. He buried his face in her neck and inhaled the sweet, feminine scent he’d missed so much.

He dropped a kiss to the side of her neck. “After what happened the other night, I thought you’d never wanna see me again.”

Her fingers played at his nape. “I was so worried about you. Why didn’t you come home the past few days?”

He took a deep breath and linked their fingers. Time for the truth. “I was with the Tok’ra at Antarctica.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”

“I went to see Keller on Wednesday. I should’ve consulted a doctor earlier, but I wanted to handle it myself and couldn’t accept that I needed help. But after what I did to you…” He tangled his hand in her hair. Even if she forgave him, he’d never forgive himself for hurting her. “I underwent a Tok’ra medical procedure.”

She leaned back to look into his eyes. “What kind of procedure?”

“They have a device that can control memories. They place it on your temple, or behind your ear. Keller thought it might work to treat post-traumatic stress. She consulted with Jolinar, and they said it’d be worth a try. But since they’ve never done it on a normal human, they wanted to keep an eye on me in case there’d be side effects.”

Concern flashed in her eyes. “Jack.”

“I couldn’t go on like that. Not having control over my life—or myself. Waking up and finding out that I hurt you.” He closed his eyes. “Can you ever forgive me?”

Her eyes welled as she shook her head. “There’s nothing to forgive.” She cupped his cheeks with her hands. “I just wish you’d talked to me.”

“It was so immense, I didn’t know where to start. Besides, after what happened, I wanna make you happy. You shouldn’t have to deal with—”

“Jack.” Her index finger on his mouth made him stop. “I don’t need you to make me happy. I just want to be with you. Through the good and the bad times. We’re a team, remember?”

A slow smile pulled at his lips. How did he end up with such an incredible woman? “Yes, we are.”

For the first time since he was back, the sun rose in her face. His stomach lurched.

“I love you,” he whispered into her ear.

She sobbed and grabbed him tighter.

His stomach tightened in momentary nervousness. “What?”

“Nothing. It’s just…” A tear rolled down her cheek. He brushed it away with his thumb. “For a while I thought… Never mind.”

He’d make sure she never doubted his affection again. He leaned in and grazed her mouth with his. She parted her lips for him. He teased her, keeping the caress almost chaste, until she pulled him closer, and he couldn’t resist darting his tongue into her mouth. Her taste mixed with the faint aroma of alcohol. She still used the lemon shampoo. Its fresh scent tingled his nose. God, how he’d missed her. When he drew back, her breath quickened.

His body was reawakening. Thank God. After no reaction during the past two weeks, he’d wondered whether the Aschen had inflicted permanent physical damage on him.

Blissful relief flooded him. He took her mouth in another heated kiss.

“So no more nightmares for now?” she asked breathlessly when they broke apart.

“No. At least not for a while.”

“You’re feeling better?”

“Better than ever.”

Eyes sparkling, she beamed at him. God, she was beautiful. How did he not notice that during the past two weeks? How hadn’t he noticed anything around him?

He became serious. “My memories will return during the next months, and then I may have occasional nightmares. Keller said they shouldn’t be dangerous, though. Apparently it’s important that I talk about whatever I remember. A lot of what I’ll tell you then might be very upsetting.”

“We can handle that. Right?”

He tangled his hand in her hair and kissed her temple. Affection flooded him. “Right.”

“I’m so glad you’re home.”

“So am I.” He took her hand and dropped a kiss to her pulse point. “Will you be my date at the party tonight?”

She gave a little laugh. “Yes, I will.”

He got up and reached his hand out to her. With a smile, she took it.

The bar emptied out. Sam glanced at her watch and looked around the room. Daniel and Vala danced in one corner in front of the music box. Sheppard, Mitchell, and two other former resistance members played cards at one table. Other than that, the guests had left.

“Finally alone.” Jack’s deep rasp right next to her ear sent pleasant shivers down her spine. She turned in his arms. He took her hand and drew it to his mouth, before he stepped backwards, drawing her with him.

She cocked her head. “What are you doing?”

“Following Dannyboy’s example.” He stopped and drew her close until his nose brushed hers. “I’ve wanted to take you out dancing for a while, remember?”

“Now? Here?” Her cheeks warmed. There wasn’t even a real dance floor.

“No time like the present.” He pulled her against the hard planes of his chest. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his neck. A smile played around his lips. “See? You know the basic position.”

Giggling, she stepped closer until her breasts brushed against his chest. His warm hands tingled her skin when he ran them down her sides. Faint, long-forgotten anticipation built inside her.

She bit her lower lip, fingers playing at the collar of his shirt. “You know, there are a few other basic positions I really have to brush up on.”

“Do tell.” Her surroundings spun when his mouth grazed her neck.

As he swayed them to the slow rhythm of the music, she leaned her head against his shoulder.

“I fantasized about this.” His warm breath fanned her neck. Goosebumps danced down her arms and back.

“Dancing with me?”

“Yeah. It kept me sane while I was with the Aschen.”

“And what else did you fantasize about?”

“Oh, Carter, let’s not go there.”

“Why not? Nobody’s listening.” She leaned back and gave him a cheeky smile.

“No, but I’m gonna need to borrow your jacket to avoid an embarrassing situation later on. ”

Butterflies awakened in her stomach as she held his darkening gaze. She laid her head against his shoulder again, and closed her eyes. Her skin hummed with his closeness and every touch burned right through her clothes. Who would have thought that life could turn around so quickly? That he’d pick up the shards of her heart and put them back together with such ease.

Time stopped as they swayed through the song, then the one after that, and two more.

Jack trailed his mouth along her jaw to her ear, and whispered, “Want me to take you home?”

There was nothing she wanted more.

Lips locked, they stumbled into the apartment building and up the stairs. Sam wasn’t sure how they stayed on their feet, but then again, who cared. In the middle of the stairwell, she steadied herself against the wall and let her head fall back. His kisses seared a path along her jaw and down her neck. Her blood burned with need.

Moaning, she pulled him up the last few stairs and along the hall. At the door to their apartment, she fumbled with the keycard. She slipped it through the reader. Nothing happened. Jack nipped her earlobe and her legs almost buckled under her. Damn card reader. Whoever made these lock mechanisms sure hadn’t had simplicity in mind. She moved the card through the slot, slow and deliberate this time.

Mercifully, the little light lit up green and the lock snapped open. She nearly fell inside, Jack’s arms around her waist the only thing preventing her from falling.

He chuckled against her mouth, and giggling, she smacked his chest before her hands moved lower to fumble with his belt. Once they were inside, he gave the door a nudge and it fell closed.

When he pushed her up against the wall, the air left her lungs. “God, Jack.” Fingers trembling, she cupped his cheeks.

His hands roamed along her waist, down over her hips. He inched his face closer and so did she, and their lips met again in a desperate rediscovery. She’d never let him go again. Ever. And if next time that meant sacrificing a mission, so be it.

She yelped when he shoved the dress up to her waist. Panting, she broke the kiss and leaned her head back against the door.

He gave her chin a tender nip. “Bedroom?”

God, how she’d missed him. How she’d missed their closeness… And this. Arousal pooled between her legs. Her stomach tingled when he buried his face in her neck.

“I wanna make love to you.” He nipped her earlobe.

Drunk with his closeness and scent, she nuzzled his temple. “I love you.”

Once they entered the bedroom, she took her time pulling his shirt over his head, opening his pants and pushing them down. After months of longing, this had to last. She wanted to give him all of herself tonight and show him in every kiss and every caress how much he meant to her.

After he’d pulled her dress over her head and the cool air hit her bare nipples, he took a step back and studied her. His hand trailed along her collarbone, down over her breasts. Her cheeks tingled and she bit her lower lip.

Four months was a long time, and after what had happened with Joe…

He drew her closer and sank down on the bed. Fingers tangling in his hair, she groaned when he leaned in and pressed a hot kiss right over her belly button. “Jack…”

Eyes twinkling he looked up at her. His eyes pooled like the endless darkness of space in the dim moonlight leaking in through the curtains. He tightened his grip around her and pulled her down onto the bed.

Smiling, she turned onto her back and wrapped her arms around him. He leaned over her and held her gaze. His skin heated under her touch. Her fingers trailed along his biceps, over his shoulder and down his back. So familiar, and yet her stomach fluttered as though every inch of his body were unknown.

Time slowed and then came to a complete standstill. His lips caressed and trailed, and then grew more impatient, more intent on igniting arousal. Eyes closed, she surrendered her body and mind to him.

Every fiber of her being hummed with his nearness, his caresses, his kisses. Such slow, deliberate touches. Who would have thought it could be like this? Not passion that washed her away like a blazing summer storm, but a calm, serene afternoon at a lake where she floated in a sea of pleasure and the intensity of it made her head spin. She fell into him, hands clasping his shoulders and arms.

When he finally took her with the same conscious sensibility reflected in every touch, her mind blanked and her entire universe shrank to the awareness of him.

If it could stay like this between them, she’d never ask for anything else again.

Much later, when they lay on their sides facing each other, Sam trailed her fingers over his damp skin. A slow smile played around his mouth.

She leaned in until her forehead touched his and trembled when his fingers grazed her breasts in a slow caress. Their breaths mingled. His chest hair tickled her skin with every move. Somehow, they’d reached a point of understanding that went beyond words.

Strange how things changed. Until four months ago, most of their relationship had been about sexual desire and fulfillment. And now… Physical lust still persisted, but there was something else. Something deeper. Was it possible for distance and pain to strengthen the bond between two people?

She captured his lips, gentle and loving. A sigh escaped her when his warm palms ran across her back.

“What time is it?” She opened her eyes and met his gaze again.

“Not sure.” He brushed his nose against hers. “Don’t care, to be honest.”

She pulled him into another deep kiss. Then she pulled back and blinked at him, curious. “So, you remember nothing of the past four months?”

“I have a vague idea of what happened. Nothing specific. Except…” He swallowed visibly.

“What?” Her gaze trailed down his face, from his eyes with their soft wrinkles, to his nose, and then down to the hard line of his mouth.

“I kept having these dreams of you. Maybe they were hallucinations. They’re the only thing I remember in detail.”

Realization finally settled in her mind. He was back. He was with her, and everything would be okay. Her throat constricted and his face started swimming. “Jack.” Her breath hitched on a sob.

“Shhh.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek, her nose, her chin.

“Please tell me this isn’t just a dream.” She fisted her hand on his back and clutched at him. “I’m so scared I’ll wake up and you’ll be gone.”

“It isn’t a dream. I promise.” Didn’t people in dreams always say that?

Her body shook as she succumbed to the tears that spilled down her cheeks. Please don’t let this be a dream. Please don’t let me wake up now.

His hot breath washed down her neck as he held her close, unmoving and without a word. Even as the first beams of sunlight leaked into the room, she didn’t let go of him.

She’d never leave him behind again.

Sam’s eyes fluttered open and she blinked against the bright light. Deep satisfaction made her stomach tingle. This was the second night Jack hadn’t woken up screaming. She shifted closer and nuzzled his shoulder.

Before they’d fallen asleep, he’d told her a little about what he remembered from his interrogations. What his cell had looked like, and how they’d moved him to a white room to question and torture him. After his escape from the Aschen prison, the details became clearer. He’d told her about the hospital, and how two Aschen doctors had treated his wound, believing he was an Aschen.

He hadn’t stayed longer than necessary. When he left the hospital, the Goa’uld still hadn’t stopped their attack. He’d remembered that the Tok’ra sometimes had undercover operatives on Goa’uld motherships, and so he’d waited for a new attack. One of the ring platforms had enabled him to get on the mothership, where he’d been captured by Ba’al.

Apparently, Ba’al had tortured him some more, because the details had grown woolly at that point. He just remembered his new prison on the Goa’uld’s mothership. Luckily, he’d been correct about there being a Tok’ra operative on the ship.

How many lucky coincidences his escape had depended on… If the Tok’ra hadn’t given Ba’al the notice about the Aschen Stargate, and he hadn’t attacked, Jack might have died during the Aschen torture.

Her stomach clenched. She couldn’t think about the what-ifs. Now they had to focus on the future.

She closed her eyes again and buried her face in the blanket. Just a few more minutes of sleep.

Warm lips grazed her temple, then nibbled her earlobe. “I know you’re awake.”

“I’m not.” She yawned and stretched, then snuggled back against him. Blissful warmth. Mornings like this should never end. Her mind drifted off again.

“How about I make us coffee?” His breath seared her neck.

“Sounds great.” She was pretty sure she mumbled, but who cared. “What time is it?”

“Clock says seven thirty.”

She dropped a sleepy kiss on Jack’s shoulder, before she released him. The mattress shifted as he got up.

“You’re not gonna fall asleep again, are you?” His voice dripped amusement.

“Uh uh.” Probably not convincing. Especially not with her eyes closed.

The curtains opened and bright daylight stung her eyes. Groaning, she turned and buried her face under the pillow. “Jack.”

A moment of silence. Then, “Say, Carter?”

“Hmm?”

“Is there any chance we crossed into an alternate dimension at some point last night?”

Blinking, she lifted her head. “Alternate universe. No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“Explain this to me, will you?” He kept staring out the window at the sky, then down at the street.

Still sleepy, she sat up. She knew that look. Something was off. She wrapped the sheet around her naked body and crawled out of bed. God help her, if this was just a trick to lure her out of her warm, soft…

She froze, staring out the window. Thick snowflakes tumbled down from the sky, covering the street and buildings in a white blanket. Snow flowers had grown on the edges of the window, and a thin sheen of ice covered the glass from the outside.

Impossible. It never snowed in Powhatan. The climate was supposed to be mild. She held her breath, her stomach plummeting. Their harvest. Was this happening elsewhere on Earth? If the Aschen weather control systems failed…

Jack turned to her. “Any chance something’s wrong with the weather control units?”

“There has to be. Judging from the amount on the street, it must have snowed half the night.”

“Let’s get dressed and find out what’s going on.”

When he’d left the room, she opened the window. Crisp air and icy snowflakes hit her cheeks and arms. She shivered. Like Antarctica during polar night.

So much for their lazy Sunday morning.

Jack nodded at two men passing them by in the hallway and opened the glass door for Carter. “Not sure if I’ll ever get used to the fake friendliness in these halls.”

She gave him a smile as she passed him. “Maybe that’s what these people need. Someone who doesn’t get used to it.”

He smirked and pulled the door to Robert Kinsey’s office open. He’d heard about the guy, but so far he’d only briefly met him. The older man definitely had some narcissistic tendencies.

Jack entered after Sam. A big oak desk stood in the middle of the room and expensive bookshelves lined the walls. What decadence. Especially considering the riots and destruction going on in some of the rural areas.

He raised his brows. McKay stood at the side of the desk. Apparently, he and Kinsey had been involved in some kind of debate. Jack knew the distressed expression on the scientist’s face too well. Not a good sign.

Seated behind the desk, Kinsey frowned at him. “Here in Powhatan it’s courtesy to knock before one enters a room.”

Was the guy kidding? “You gotta excuse my lack of manners. Down in Antarctica we were too busy handling situations to insist on formalities.”

“Rodney, what’s going on?” Sam asked, turning to McKay.

“We’re not sure yet. The weather control systems failed yesterday. Maybe some kind of security mechanism, or a failsafe. We’re thinking we missed some kind of periodic maintenance, so it’s shutting down. But we know too little about the system to—”

“Dr. McKay.” Kinsey’s voice carried a sharp undertone.

McKay swallowed visibly and straightened. “I told you before, she could—”

“That’s all. Keep me informed of your progress,” Kinsey said.

“With all due respect, I don’t think you understand the severity of—”

“I think I’ve made myself clear. If you can’t accomplish the task, I’m sure another scientist will gladly volunteer to take charge of the science team.” The older man lifted from his chair.

McKay glanced from him to Sam, then his shoulders slumped. He turned and marched from the room, grumbling something.

Jack brushed some snowflakes out of his hair. “I know he can be annoying sometimes, but you should listen to what he has to say.”

Kinsey scowled at him, then sat back down. Jack plopped down in the chair in front of the desk. He ignored the older man’s deathly glare. Who’d put him in charge anyway? As far as Carter’d told him, the majority of people opposed him as the leader of their new government. “What’s going on out there?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, O’Neill, but you don’t have any business even being in this building.”

“Just tryin’ to stay in the loop. Why don’t you explain the situation to Carter? She’ll understand the technobabble better than I will anyway.”

Miss Carter’s duties are in file administration.” Kinsey looked up. “Which begs the question, why isn’t she in her office right now?”

“Oh for cryin’ out loud, Kinsey.” Jack leaned forward. His patience with this guy ran thin. “Just tell us what’s going on, will ya? Maybe Carter can help.”

“She can’t.”

“Sounded like McKay’s out of options.”

“Dr. McKay is qualified to handle the situation. So are at least a dozen other scientists.”

“Are they?” Jack folded his arms. “Funny it’s still snowing outside.”

Kinsey slammed his hand down on the desk. “I don’t care for your sarcasm.”

“I don’t care for your attitude. What’s the harm in letting her try? I’m sure the files’ll still be there in a coupla days.”

Kinsey rose from his chair. “She isn’t even a scientist.”

Next to Jack, Carter took a sharp breath. He got up. He knew the expression on her face. As much as he’d enjoy letting her redecorate that idiot’s face, it’d hardly solve their problem.

“Carter.” He straightened in front of her, so she had to look at him instead of Kinsey. “Why don’t you go to your office. I’ll meet you there in a few.”

Anger flashed in her eyes. “But—”

“That wasn’t a request.” Technically, he wasn’t her superior officer anymore. And yet…

“Yes, sir.” Jaw clenched, she turned and marched out of the office.

When she’d closed the door behind her, Jack turned and leaned forward, his hands on the desk. “Let me make something clear here, Kinsey. I don’t care who you are, or who you think you are. I won’t let you waste Carter’s potential on filing when we need her help elsewhere. She’s one of the smartest scientists we got.”

Kinsey lifted his chin. For a split second, Jack considered wiping that condescending smirk off his face. “I understand why you of all people would want to advance her career. Why don’t you leave the personnel choices up to me?”

“Oh, get off that high horse, Kinsey. Give her a chance. And what do you mean, me of all people? I worked with Carter for over a year.”

Kinsey gave a chuckle. “So I’ve heard.”

Anger flared up inside him. “If you’re insinuating what I think you are, you’re way outta line.”

“I’m insinuating you’re biased,” Kinsey said. “She’s never attended a university. Nor does she have a degree.”

“Last I checked, neither do McKay or Felger. Carter’s knowledge of the Aschen systems and her ability to figure out new technology are unparalled. Even McKay admitted he needs her help. That should tell you something. If I didn’t think she was up to the task, I wouldn’t suggest it.”

“She’s a woman.”

“Now who’s biased here?” Jack frowned at him. Smarmy, self-righteous bastard.

“I advise you to remember who you’re talking to.”

“Oh, I know exactly who I’m talking to.”

Kinsey’s jaw tightened. “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that I’m not in the mood to stand here arguing semantics about what being a scientist means. Especially not with a collaborator who supported the Aschen regime.” Jack held his gaze. If Kinsey thought he’d be intimidated by his pompous demeanor, he’d be in for a disappointment. “I’m putting Carter on McKay’s team.”

“The hell you are. You may have been some kind of leader at your little camp down in Antarctica, but you have no authority here. Up to now I’ve been patient with Miss Carter, and granted her a job in file administrations. But we can easily do without her.”

“What’s your problem, Kinsey? That she’s a woman? Or that she’s smarter than you?”

A knock at the door interrupted him. Kinsey took a deep breath, then straightened and fixed his tie. “Come in.”

“I’m sorry, Bob. Am I interrupting something?”

Jack turned. Faxon. Great. Just the person he needed.

Kinsey waved him in. “Not at all. I think we’re done here.”

“No, we aren’t,” Jack said.

Faxon raised his eyebrows and buried his hands in the pockets of his expensive looking suit as he walked in.

Jack turned to him. “Mr. Kinsey here apparently thinks Earth can afford not using the skills of an excellent scientist because her reproductive organs happen to be on the inside instead of the outside.”

Kinsey scowled. “I want professional scientists, people with experience on the job. Not some female hobby scientist.”

Faxon cleared his throat. “If this is about Sam Carter, she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Let’s not forget she’s the one who wrote the alien virus that disabled the Aschen Stargate.”

“Yeah. With the help of an alien called Ba’al,” Kinsey said, apparently unimpressed.

“That’s because nobody on Earth was qualified enough to help. Which kinda makes my point,” Jack said.

“As far as I’m concerned, carrying out a terrorist act hardly qualifies her to handle sensitive Aschen technology.”

Jack raised his eyebrows. Interesting. Maybe Carter being a woman wasn’t the only problem. “You got something to say, Kinsey? Say it.”

“Oh, I got something to say—“

“Gentlemen.” Next to Jack, Faxon cleared his throat. “Bob, we have a situation. If the weather control units aren’t fixed within the next twenty-four hours, we’ll lose a huge amount of our harvest and have a shortage on our hands. I see no harm in having another brain working on the problem.”

Now that was unexpected. Jack glanced at the man next to him. And to think he’d been determined to dislike him.

Kinsey jumped up. “All right, let her help. But she’ll work on one of the teams and report to a senior scientist.”

“Thank you, Bob.” Faxon smiled. “I’ll reassign her immediately.” He glanced at Jack. “Does that resolve the issue?”

“For now.” Jack gave Kinsey a dark stare, then turned.

“O’Neill.” Kinsey’s voice cut like a laser beam through steel. “You have friends on the POA, which is the only reason why neither you nor your little girlfriend have been transported to a breeding facility yet. I’m warning you, though. I’m the one person you don’t want to cross. For her sake, and your own.”

Anger slammed into him like a hammer. Fists clenched he spun. “Kinsey, you—”

Faxon stepped in his way and put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Let’s go.” Jack glared at him, but Faxon’s face remained blank. “We have all we came for, don’t we?”  His gaze bore into Jack’s insistently.

Jack relaxed against his grip. The guy was right. Kinsey was just waiting for him to do something wrong. “Yeah.”

He turned and marched out the door to the corridor.

Outside Kinsey’s office, Faxon turned to him. “You know, next time don’t hold back.”

Sarcasm? Wasn’t that his field of expertise? Jack glanced at him. “Diplomacy’s not one of my strong points. Thanks for the support though.”

“I didn’t do it for you. I did it for her.”

“Ah.” Jack pushed his hands into his pockets. An awkward silence fell between them.

“What are your plans now?” Faxon asked.

“Well, I was gonna go find Carter and tell her—“

“I meant in general.”

Jack shrugged. “Not sure yet. I was hoping they’d reopen the Stargate at some point.”

“We need a man like you on the POA,” Faxon said.

“After what just happened in there? Politics aren’t really my thing.”

Faxon chuckled. “You have the practical experience. And you’ve become the face of the resistance on Earth. Are you even aware that you’re considered a hero by many of the general population?”

Jack swallowed. “I just did my part. Carter and McKay deserve the credit. It was their idea. They made it work.”

“This is about a vision and giving people hope. If we want to reopen the Stargate, we need strong, charismatic people on our side who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Think about it.”

“I will. Don’t get your hopes up though.”

Hands fisted at her sides, Sam paced back and forth across her office. She couldn’t believe it. Dismissed. Just like that. After the self-righteous, arrogant bastard had diminished her accomplishments, Jack had just dismissed her. Why had she even followed the order? They weren’t at Antarctica anymore. He wasn’t her superior.

The door of her office swooshed open. She turned her head. Jack strolled inside.

“I can’t believe you did that. You made me look like a stupid little girl in front of him. You think you can just order me around like that?” She lifted her hands and shook her head. “I’m not even mad at you. I’m mad at myself for following the order.”

“Yeah.” He smirked. “Surprising considering how insubordinate you used to be.”

“You think this is funny? Kinsey’s an idiot. He’s just waiting for every chance to show me that in his eyes I’m less qualified than the dumbest male on Earth, and that it takes a man to tell me what to do. And then you play right into that.”

“You done?” Jack sat down in a chair. “If not, why don’t you pack up your stuff while you rant?”

She stared at him. His eyes gleamed.

“You’re on the science team. For now. Until the weather control system’s fixed. After that we’ll see what happens.”

She held her breath. Science team. He was putting her on the science team? “Jack, you can’t just—“

“I didn’t. Kinsey did.”

“Oh.” She shifted.

“Next time, try not to look like you wanna smash your fist into Kinsey’s face. Not that I don’t support the notion, but you think beating the crap outta that guy would get you anywhere? That self-righteous son of a bitch is just waiting for you to cross some line, so that he can fire you.”

She swallowed. She had wanted to smack the guy. Had it been that obvious? “You talked him into letting me work with McKay?”

“I didn’t. Actually I pretty much got to the point where I wanted to shoot him. Faxon was the one who convinced Kinsey.”

“Joe?” She stared at him.

“Yeah. Apparently, I gotta learn a thing or two about diplomacy.”

She bit her lower lip to stifle her smile.

“I may have called him arrogant. And a few other things.” He rolled the chair to her desk. “He offered me a job.”

“Kinsey?”

“Faxon.”

“Oh.”

“He wants me on the POA to make a case for the Stargate program.” He played with a pen from her desk.

“That’s great.”

“Is it?” He looked up.

“It isn’t?”

“I don’t know. You know me, Carter. I’m not exactly a patient guy. I’m used to a command structure. Giving orders. Not debating them.”

She sat down in her chair and took his hand. “I know I’m not entirely unbiased, but as a leader down in Antarctica, I always trusted you. Even when we had our rough patches, I never doubted you were professional and competent, and that I could put my life in your hands.”

“I don’t think those qualities count for much here.”

“But they do for the majority of people on Earth.” She sighed. “People are protesting the current regime everywhere. The majority of humans don’t want Kinsey and a government consisting of only gifted people.”

“I’m gifted.”

“But you’ve always fought for all people on Earth. If someone like you were in the government, maybe we could undermine Kinsey. Or maybe, we’d just be able to reopen the Stargate program. Either way, we’d win.”

He gave her a lopsided smirk. “You’d have to follow my orders again.”

“I can live with that.” She leaned in and gave his lower lip a nip.

Jack drew her closer and took her mouth, his tongue delving deep inside. Too soon, he broke the kiss. “Now, go help McKay.”

She struggled to regain her composure. “Yes, sir.”

Her heart raced. Science. Finally, she’d be working in the field she loved again. Even if it was just for a short time.

Sam handed a box over to Jack and then bent over another one standing against the wall in their living room. She moved some books out of the way. “You think Kinsey will change his mind about putting me on a science team now that the weather control is fixed?”

“Don’t think so. I think you’re not the problem. It’s what you’ve done.”

“Oh?” She glanced up at him. “What does that mean?”

“To him, we’re terrorists.”

“Well, at least that means he doesn’t think I’m unqualified, but that he’s scared of me.” She looked into the box again. Where had their chess set gone? She was sure she’d seen it somewhere. She shoved two more books out of the way. “Found it.” She held up the box with their game.

“You know, we should unpack all this stuff.” Jack waved around at the boxes.

“I didn’t know how long I’d be here, so I didn’t bother. I always wanted to go back to Antarctica. Come on.” She took his hand and pulled him into the kitchen.

“You miss it?” He sat down on the table and set up the board, while Sam took two glasses from the cupboard and filled them with soda.

Even though Jennifer had given Jack a green light to drink beer again now that he was out of the critical phase of his treatment, they always bought soda at the store. The first nightmares had yet to come back, and they’d agreed to be safe rather than sorry.

“Yeah.” She sat down opposite him. As always she had the black pieces. He insisted he didn’t need the advantage of the first move, but their game scores told a different story. Not that she’d ever point that out. “It’s become my home. I miss O’Malleys. And camp. Dad’s there most of the time. And there’s the aurora.”

“Polar night?” His eyes gleamed.

She laughed. “Yeah, even that.” She took a sip from her glass as Jack made the first move. She mirrored his pawn with one of hers. “At camp, you knew you could trust people. Here, you never know who to trust.”

“What if you had the chance to go back to Antarctica?” He moved another pawn.

She shrugged. “I’d do it if we went together.” She mirrored his move again and stifled a smile. He didn’t like when she used the mirroring approach. It was so much fun to challenge him.

“Since I took the job on the POA, we might be stuck here for a while,” Jack said, taking her pawn with a triumphant smile. Undoubtedly an attempt at undermining her strategy.

“You need someone to have your back.” She moved another pawn. “Besides, as long as we’re here, they’ll see that we’re together, which will hopefully prevent them from sending us any more orders to report to a breeding facility.”

“You know, Kinsey insinuated that we’d be safe from the breeding facility as long as I don’t cross him. I don’t like the implications of that. I don’t trust that guy.”

She glanced up. “He wasn’t serious. Was he?”

He held her gaze. His face remained blank, but the expression in his eyes worried her.

“Jack?”

“There’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you for a coupla days.”

“What?”

“Give me a minute.” He got up and left the room.

She got up and took grapes out of the fridge. Fresh fruit still felt like a luxury. One of the downsides of Antarctica had been that fruit and vegetables were strictly rationed.

When Jack stepped into the kitchen again, she raised her brows at him. An off expression on his face, he held her gaze. Her stomach tingled at the intensity in his eyes. “What’s going on?”

He took her hand and brushed his thumb over her pulse point. “Please don’t think I’m just doing this because of what Kinsey said.”

“Doing what?”

“Here.” He placed something in her palm. Sam glanced down. A roll of paper with a silver ribbon tied around it.

An engagement contract.

Next Chapter