Unlocked Doors by Merkaba
Summary: Episode Tag to Divide and Conquer. I always thought Jack and Sam 'leaving it in the room' was way to convenient and unrealistic for such a pivotal time in their lives. This is my version of what might have happened. Jack/Sam focused
Categories: Jack/Sam Characters: Jack O'Neill, Samantha Carter, Tealc
Episode Related: 0405 Divide and Conquer
Genres: Action/Adventure, First Time, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Holiday: None
Season: None
Warnings: None
Crossovers: None
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 11613 Read: 7111 Published: 2012.01.01 Updated: 2012.01.04

1. Chapter 1 by Merkaba

2. Chapter 2 - Brothers in Arms by Merkaba

3. Chapter 3 - Second Thoughts by Merkaba

4. Chapter 4 by Merkaba

5. Chapter 5 - Answers by Merkaba

Chapter 1 by Merkaba

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. This story is based on the episode "Divide and Conquer". I always thought the series skipped over what was a very important moment between Jack and Sam. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.

AN: For those of you that have read my stuff before, I am back to writing again and trying to catch up! This is a story I promised Gategirl7 for her birthday and it is very late in coming. The chapters are sort of short, but it is done and will be posted quickly. I just finished the last chapter a minute ago so I am rewarding myself by posting.


Chapter 1 - Walls

Colonel Jack O'Neill felt his stomach clench. Was he really going to have to do this? Was he really going to have to admit to having feelings for a subordinate officer, his second in command? Damn what a screwed up mess. He swore under his breath and didn't try to hide his impatience as he listened to the alien woman with only about half his mind. She was asking something, but he was pretty sure he really didn't want to know what that something was so he ignored her. Her voice rose, calling his attention back to her in spite of himself. It must have been the third or fourth time she'd asked the question because the Tok'ra, Anise, had a decidedly irritated air to her voice as she asked it again. That alone lightened Jacks mood a bit but for only a second as he forced himself to listen to the question he was being asked.

"Major Carter was trapped behind the force shield," Anise repeated.

"That's right." Keep the answers simple and to the point; they'd taught him that in his black ops days. If you had to answer questions stick the bare minimum of facts. But that wasn't going to help much today. The bare minimum of facts wasn't going to be enough to prove they weren't Za'tarcs and more than that might just get them court marshaled. That was worse case and didn't seem likely, but any way he looked at this, it was going to change things between he and Sam. His answer was going to change his world and he was pretty sure it wouldn't be for the better.

"You did everything you could." The alien scientist continued.

"Yes," he kept his voice calmer than he felt inside.

"You couldn't save her?"

"No." Jack could still feel the hopelessness and anger he'd felt when he'd realized that Sam was trapped on the other side of the shield from him with Jaffa hot on her heals.

"But you still could have saved yourself," Anise questioned.

"I guess," he relented, his voice subdued. Carter said they had to answer these things, make it the whole truth. 'I guess' wasn't the whole truth by any means. Jack barely resisted the urge to close his eyes against the memories of Sam on the other side of that force field. God, he'd pounded on the control panel, the force field itself, the walls, but he'd known in that moment that she was going to die and there wasn't anything at all he could do for her except not leave her. He'd known about a millisecond later that he was going to die too. No way in hell he was going to leave her and that knowledge had come as a shock. The depth of his feelings for his teammate had staggered him that day. He still hadn't completely come to terms with the knowledge and now he was going to be putting those feelings out for the whole world to see.

"What happened next?" Anise prompted. Jack could see Carter's face in his mind's eye. See the hopelessness in her face, the acceptance of her death as she'd told him to leave. She knew he was not about to just leave her there to die and that look had been in her face too. That look had astonished him. That look had been full of love. At that moment he'd known that Samantha Carter loved him back.

"What were you feeling?" Now that was about as stupid and uncomfortably straightforward as Anise knew how to be, Jack decided irritably as her question pulled him away from his memories.

"Like someone who was about to die," he shot back, willing her to just skip over the whole emotions thing.

"Sir," Carter's voice was sharp with just enough pleading reprimand to remind him that the stakes for them were way higher than admitting emotions he didn't want to put on the table. He met her eyes and held them. He needed to see her face. He needed to see how she reacted to the next few words he was about to speak.

"I didn't leave because I'd have rather died myself than lose Carter." He couldn't read her eyes. Damn, he needed to know what was going on in her head at that moment.

"Why?" Anise's voice felt removed, far away.

"Because I care about her," he admitted in a low voice. Sam didn't look away from him like he half expected. He focused on her, Sam's eyes were the most intense Jack could ever remember seeing them. That might be enough for the machine, but damn it, he needed to know how she was taking his statement. "A lot more than I'm supposed to," he added never taking his eyes from her face. He thought a look like pain washed over her for just a moment. Jack was pretty sure she was going to break eye contact with him and look away, but she didn't. She was looking at him as if she could see right into his soul. Not a very safe place to look, he silently warned her.

"You are not a Za'tarc," Anise declared, actually sounding relieved. The scientist's voice broke the moment between him and Sam.

"Now, retest me," Carter instructed, pulling her eyes away from his. Janet had already started to remove the restraints holding Jack in the chair. He stood and helped her strap Sam in, squeezing Sam's arm in what he hoped would be a reassuring gesture as he finished tightening the last strap.

As Jack listened to Sam answer the same questions that he just answered, in much the same way, his mind raced. What happened now? He knew she liked him, thought she might even be attracted to him, but to hear now that she also cared 'more than she was supposed to,' wow. What now?

He moved forward to help her out of the chair. There were too many people in the room. "Carter," he started, not sure what to say.

"Sir," the title felt heavy to him for the first time in his life. "None of this has to leave the room." Relief hit Jack like a hammer, with disappointment quick on its heels. Is that what she wanted? He wasn't surprised. She was as career driven as he had been at her age and probably way more scared of consequences then he'd ever been, but still…

"We're okay with that?" He couldn't keep the doubt from his voice. He wasn't sure if he was ok with it. If she felt like he did, how could she admit having feelings then lock the away?

"Yes." Her voice sounded so sure. OK, this had to be her decision. After all it was her career on the line. His career was winding down, but hers was still on a fast track to anywhere she wanted to go. He couldn't stand in the way of that. And you're a coward taking the easy way out O'Neill, his inner voice chided, but he nodded to her anyway.

"Okay, so if they're not Zatarcs they're no threat to the President." Frasier's question brought Jack back to the present.

Chapter 2 - Brothers in Arms by Merkaba

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.

AN: Thank you Gategirl7 for being an awesome beta! Any mistakes are mine and mine alone, probably added after I got the edited version back. Thank you everyone that has let me know what you think.

Chapter 2 – Brothers in Arms

Jack welcomed the rush of adrenaline as he entered the Gate room at a run. He registered the location and identity of the occupants before he'd even stopped. Carter's Tok'ra, Martouf, had knocked Daniel to the ground and was turning on the High Councilor Per'sus. It was obvious that the alien was fighting the Za'tarc mind control, that everyone had just figured out he'd been subjected too.

Jack didn't have a clear shot that would end the threat so he did the next best thing and shot the man in the leg. As Martouf staggered and tripped, two secret servicemen fired, but the element of surprise Jack's shot had going for it was long gone. A symbiote gave the host more strength and staying power against wounds, that the symbiote was a Tok'ra didn't matter. He was a brainwashed Tok'ra at the moment so their bullets had little effect. Jack maneuvered for another shot as Teal'c came in the opposite door and zatted the Martouf. Way to go big guy, Jack silently congratulated, willing the downed alien to stay down.

"Hold your fire," Carter called, off to his left side. She had been right on his tail as they'd realized Martouf was the only one that could be the Za'tarc threat to the President. He watched the Tok'ra struggle against the mind control and it chilled him to the bone. That could so easily have been him or Carter.

Martouf's hand was shaking as he fought for control. Jack held his fire, willing to give the man a second before he took his life. He knew Carter felt close to the alien, not to mention the man had helped them a time or two. He deserved a moment to fight the brainwashing. Jack would have wanted anyone in a similar position to give him or Carter a second to fight the programming if the situation had gone the wrong way and one or both of them had been a Za'tarc.

"Samantha?" Martouf's voice was thick with effort. In that moment, Jack could see the man giving up. He wasn't going to win this battle and he knew it, but before Jack could fire, the sound of Carter's Zat stayed his hand. God, she'd had to shoot him. Remorse hit Jack in the gut. He had hesitated because his mind wasn't clear like it should be and Sam had been forced to take the Martouf's life.

There wasn't anything more Jack could do for the situation, but watch. Before the Tok'ra hit the floor, Sam was there, catching him and cradling him to the ground. Jack kept his weapon trained on the man in Sam's lap until she pulled the alien device from his hand and held it up for everyone to see, calling clear. He lowered his weapon, but he couldn't seem to take his eyes off of Sam or the dead man she held close in her lap.

She shouldn't have had to shoot someone she obviously cared so much about. This whole thing had gone so wrong. They'd almost missed the real threat chasing their tails because of the feelings he and Carter had just agreed to leave in the room. Hell, he and Carter both had come close to being dissected in an attempt to save them from their supposed Za'tarc-ness. If Sam hadn't figured it out, Martouf would have succeeded in his programming and Jack and Sam would be dead all because they were hiding from mutual feelings that she now wanted to ignore, and he'd just agreed to that stupid idea. Jack would have rolled his eyes at the idiocy of that conversation he and Carter had just had in the lab if the circumstances were not so dire.

Hammond and the Tok'ra high council were speaking, but Jack was focused on the scene in front of him. Slow tears were working their way down Sam's face and she wouldn't meet his eyes as she gently cradled Martouf's body against her. She didn't seem to notice in that moment that any of them were there. The sight cut him in so many ways he wasn't prepared for the intensity of the reaction. Like hell those feelings were staying in that room! After today, the feelings felt more real than when he'd thought they were just on his part. They were something he'd admitted and now he knew for sure they were mutual. Damn, he swore at himself. Jack glanced up as he felt Teal'c come to stand near him. The warrior had been there to listen to each of them confess to 'caring way more than they should' about the other.

The words they'd spoken about each other rang in his ears. They cared so much a damn machine had read their hiding of the emotions as lies. He'd nearly let his brain be dissected because of those feelings, not to mention the incident that started that whole line of questioning. How realistic were they being to think they could just leave that kind of intensity in a room?

"I promise you, his death will ultimately prove to be a noble sacrifice," Anise was telling Carter gently. When Carter cupped Martouf's face in both hands, her tears falling against his lifeless cheeks, Jack felt a possessive anger surge through him. Clamping down on the unwanted emotions, he turned away from the scene. He didn't have the right to feel this way, did he? He wasn't used to questioning his motives and he certainly wasn't used to wanting to shoot a lifeless body, just because it was pissing him off!

Only half listening to his surroundings, he was surprised when he felt a presence at his shoulder. Looking up, Teal'c's knowing eyes met his. With an imperceptible nod, the big man lent his support. Feeling a little more grounded, Jack slid back into the familiarity of hiding his emotions. He felt his control reestablishing itself. There was a certain comfort in knowing the big guy knew and understood. Hell, half the time, Teal'c got things before he did.

"We are done here, O'Neill," Teal'c was right, there'd finished here, he didn't need to be here for this.

"Yeah, T," he agreed even as the medics came in and Carter released her hold on Jolinar's now dead lover. One last glance their way assured him that Daniel was standing near Carter. She had support, she would be ok and right now Jack needed a bit of distance.

"Thanks Buddy," O'Neill broke the silence between the two warriors as they turned the corner to Jack's office.

"There is no need to thank me O'Neill," Teal'c followed him in and stood near the door as Jack settled himself behind his desk. "At times such as this, I still find the ways of the Tauri confusing." That surprised Jack a little bit. His friend seemed to have a better handle on human society than he did these days.

"How so, T," he couldn't resist asking. He was a little worried when, after a slight hesitation, Teal'c nodded and closed the door to Jack's office.

"On Chulak, there are many matches made between man and woman through various means, some through family connections, some come about in other ways, but a warrior feeling the Kachil in his blood and claiming a mate himself is a rare occurrence. There is celebration. That true blending when a warriors soul calls out for another will bring strength to the Warrior and through him to his people. I have yet to feel Kachil, and have rarely witnessed it." That bit of information surprised him. Teal'c rarely opened up about himself. "I see it now in you."

Jack wasn't expecting that statement. "You are a warrior I am proud to call brother, O'Neill. I have seen you claim Samantha Carter and her accept your claim many times."

"There's been no claiming, T," O'Neill rushed to correct, suddenly uncomfortable with where this was going. "Nothing inappropriate has ever taken place.."

"I do not speak of the physical act of claiming her body, O'Neill," Teal'c interrupted, impatience as clear in his voice as Jack had ever heard it. "I speak of claiming her in more important ways than the physical."

The former Jaffa First Prime turned a look on Jack that suddenly made him feel like a teenager in front of his dad. "The claim has been made and accepted, for you to deny your right to claim her physically weakens both of you. Kachil is as rare as it is powerful. Do not allow your fear to weaken you both."

Jack was too stunned to know what to say. He was saved the trouble as Daniel knocked once and entered his office without waiting for an invitation. "Hey guys," he said, pushing past Teal'c at the door and coming around to take a seat in one of Jack's guest chairs.

"Thanks, Buddy," Jack said after a minute. He wasn't sure what to think of what Teal'C had said, but a part of him was screaming that the big guy was right and he was wasting time trying to deny it.

"I will go and check on the proceedings," Teal'c announced. Jack was grateful or his team mates help and support. He should have been the one to suggest they go and check to see how the meeting was going now that Martouf had been neutralized.

"They are taking a break," Daniel informed them. "They are in the main conference room being served food." Teal'c nodded before heading out of the door.

Daniel looked quizzically between the empty door and Jack. "Teal'c was being a little strange when I walked in. What was that all about?

"I think Teal'c just had the sex talk with me." Jack decided.

"That's disturbing," Daniel looked sharply back over his shoulder like the answer would be hanging in the air.

"Yeah, ya think?" Jack agreed. "So what does Kakil mean?" He really hadn't intended to ask, but he couldn't' help himself. Daniel looked at him for a minute, obviously going through his mental files.

"You mean Kachil?" Daniel questioned looking at him quizzically. Jack nodded.

"Loosely translated it means One soul," his teacher face was on. "It is a very old belief among some Jaffa that for every warrior, there is a one perfect mate that is a reflection of themselves and will bring them the strength to live to their most powerful best potential." Daniel glanced down at his phone. "They are out of the meeting," he sighed, "guess I should go." He stood up.

"Did Teal'c just talk to you about Kachil?" Daniel paused at the door to Jack's office.

"Yeah," Jack wasn't sure what Daniel would make out of that, but he wasn't in the mood to talk things out anymore. He willed the younger man to go on without putting his two cents worth in.

"Wow," Daniel's voice trailed off incredulously. "That is a very private, sacred belief among Jaffa. I'm surprised he would have shared it with anyone. He must have felt very strongly to have spoken to you about it." With that statement, Daniel left, leaving Jack contemplating what Teal'c had said

Chapter 3 - Second Thoughts by Merkaba

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.

AN: Happy New Year everyone! Thank you to everyone reading and all of you that have been kind enough to leave me what you thought of it so far. And of course, thank you Gategirl7 for being an awesome beta! Any mistakes are mine and mine alone, probably added after I got the edited version back.

Chapter 3 – Second Thoughts

Sam had never been so glad to walk into her own house as she was at that moment. This day had been as emotionally hard as any she could ever remember. She was on autopilot as she dropped her keys on the table by the door along with her unopened mail.

Comfy clothes, wine, couch that was the mantra that she'd kept going in her head most of the way home. As she settled into a warm bath and laid her head back against the cool porcelain of the tub, Sam felt herself back in the Gate room.

She'd felt numb when she rushed forward and caught Martouf. She'd been fast. Caught him as life left him and he slid to the floor. So many emotions were swirling inside of her. She was glad for the automatic 'clear' that issued from her lips as she retrieved the weapon from his lifeless hand. She was operating on training alone at that moment. Too much was happening. The part of her that had been Jolinar and contained the Tok'ra's feeling and thoughts grieved, almost crumbled with the killing of her lover. The trouble was that those emotions had become intertwined with Sam's since Jolinar's death.

Silent tears slid down her face as a wave of grief flowed over her. It wasn't just Jolinar's grief, she'd come to like the Tok'ra man. Both symbiote and his host had become important to her and they didn't deserve to die this way. Maybe if she and Jack, no Colonel O'Neill, not Jack, she corrected herself, not ready to deal with those emotions yet. Maybe if they hadn't been so busy having inappropriate feelings for each other and denying them, maybe Anise would have focused on the right person. Maybe there would have been the chance to save Martouf.

The trouble was that even when she was consumed with grief and guilt, holding the man she'd just killed, Sam had felt the Colonel's presence at her back. He was there. He was always there, protecting her, them. He'd almost given up his life on the Goa'uld ship because of feelings he had for her. That thought flooded Sam. Jack O'Neill had feelings for her, more feelings than just commanding officer and subordinate. Sam's heart flipped in her chest at the thought. She heard him again as he locked eyes with her and added, 'way more than I should'. It was as if he wanted to make sure she knew how deep those feelings were, not the Za'tarc detector, just her.

Sam smacked her head against the back of the tub. She'd been calm when she'd told her CO that they could leave the feelings in that room, but knowing for sure that he had feelings for her hadn't quite sunk in yet. There had been too much going on then. There hadn't been time to do more than push the feelings to the back of her mind for later. She and the colonel had been in danger of being Za'tarcs, facing death, lifelong imprisonment at the very least. When Sam had realized that she had being holding back and that he must have been holding back as well for the machine to have read them both as compromised, she'd been too elated at finding that she and the Colonel weren't Za'tarcs to think about the ramifications for them both personally.

"Ramifications," she said out loud. There weren't going to be ramifications. They were going to leave their inappropriate feelings in that room. It had been her idea. She shut her eyes against the words that she could still hear ringing in her ears. 'None of this has to leave the room.' Those had been her words. Words she didn't mean the second she said them, but she couldn't seem to stop herself from saying them, but then again, he'd agreed to them pretty quickly. Did he do that because he thought that was what she wanted or because he honestly didn't want her.

"God, I am such a coward," she told her bathroom. She'd felt so uncomfortable about what they'd just revealed, in such a public way, that she'd done what she always did, she'd hidden from the feelings. "I can face a planet full of Jaffa trying to kill us with less fear than talking to my CO about my feelings," she said in disgust. The water was getting cold and the bath hadn't soothed her. Standing, she reached for a towel and stepped from out of the water onto the bathmat.

As Sam leaned in and pulled the plug to let the water drain, the clothes she'd hung on the towel rack caught her attention. There was blood on the leg of her pants. She hadn't seen it. She'd been in such a hurry to escape the mountain and the emotions of the day, she hadn't changed, just taken off the shirt she'd had on over her black t-shirt and pulled her jacket on.

It was Martouf's blood from where he'd been shot. Grief hit her. She'd killed the man she'd liked and a part of her loved. Her grief for him was real, but her grief for herself was just as real. As much as the emotions around Martouf hurt, the ones she was holding at bay about Jack hurt too. She'd effectively killed any chance there as well. Not that there had been any chance.

"He is your commanding officer," she told herself in the mirror. "No future there." She remembered how uncomfortable Jack, Colonel O'Neill, she corrected herself, had looked when he'd met her eyes as she'd helped release him from the chair.

The sound of her doorbell caught her off guard. She actually jumped at the harshness of the sound breaking the silence. Glancing at the clock, Sam was surprised to see it was only 6:30 in the evening. It was that time of year when the school kids were just starting back. All kinds of fundraisers had them knocking at her door these days. She usually didn't mind. Sometimes it made her feel a little connected to the world. Knowing the things she knew because of the Stargate made her feel removed from the world she fought everyday to save. Spending a little money on terrible frozen pizzas or the latest gift wrap and cookies reminded her that people had normal lives and hopes, hence she tended to be an easy sale. Her house was a popular stop for the kids these days.

Pulling on a fuzzy pink robe Teal'c had gotten her for Christmas last year and belting it securely around her, Sam padded to the door in bare feet. The robe made her smile lifted her spirits a bit. Teal'c had discovered the Home Shopping Network the year before last. He'd bought everyone presents with no help from anyone. Jack had Simpsons' slippers, Daniel had a no-spill coffee cup that held an amazing amount of coffee and kept it warm on top of that. He'd even gotten Hammond a furry hat with ear covers. For Sam, Teal'c had gotten a Pampered Kit. The kit contained a fuzzy soft robe, bath salts, candles and a pillow for the bath. All in all, the former first prime had done an amazing job of getting them all thoughtful gifts they'd laughed over and loved.

"Coming," she shouted to the door. This time, the fundraiser was going to be out of luck. She just wanted them gone. She wanted to be alone to lick her wounds and somehow get herself together so that she could face the Colonel in two days when she had to go back to work. How was she going to look at him, treat him like nothing had changed? Nothing can change Sam, she told herself as she reached for the door. Their ranks, their careers, the regs all stood in the way. Even if those things didn't stand in the way, she'd just assured the Colonel that she was fine with things they way they were. Now all she had to do was find a way to actually be ok.

"I'm sorry," she started as she opened the door. "This really isn't a good time,"

"Sorry, Carter,"

"Colonel," Sam stammered, shocked to see him at her door. He'd never come there alone before. Actually, he'd only been to her house a few times in the years that they'd worked together. "I thought you were one of the neighborhood kids."

"Fundraisers?" he questioned. He didn't look any more at ease than she felt. "They've been hitting my house hard the last couple of weeks."

"Yes, Sir," she smiled slightly. "What are you doing here, Sir?" She didn't mean it to come out that bluntly. He winced.

"Thought I should check on you," he started, and then seemed to reconsider. "Can I come in?" God, she'd been so disconcerted, it hadn't even occurred to her to ask him in. All she could think was that her hair was wet, she had no makeup on, and she had a pink fuzzy robe on, bare feet, and he could probably tell she'd been crying. The man had perfect timing.

"Sir, this really isn't the best time," she started. She couldn't face him being nice to her about Martouf. Why was he here anyway? He'd never come alone to check on her before. "I'm ok. Thank you for checking on me."

She was surprised to see the Colonel's face darken. "No problem, Major,' he snapped, "glad to see you're ok." He was already turning away. He was mad. "Sorry to have troubled you." Sam got the feeling that things had just gotten a lot worse and this wasn't going to stay in the room. She wasn't sure what had just happened, but she knew she didn't want to let him walk away.

"Colonel," she called, taking a step toward him, but he was already down the steps and headed out of her yard. He held a hand up in acknowledgement of her, but didn't stop.

"See you at work, Major." He'd come to her house alone and she'd dismissed him. She'd basically told him that ignoring any feelings they might have was what she wanted and then he'd shown up at her door and she'd told him to go away. God, she had made things such a mess and if he reached his truck she wasn't sure if she'd have the guts to try face him again.

"Jack," she called. Swallowing hard when he stopped in his tracks, she held her breath. She'd never called him by his name like that before. That had gotten his attention, now what. He was the one that had come to her door. She had no idea what he wanted. She had no idea what to say now, but she knew she didn't want to watch him walk away from her, especially not angry at her.

"I'm sorry," she almost whispered. She let out the breath she'd been holding when he turned and came back to her. He was still mad, she could see it, but at least he wasn't walking away.

Chapter 4 by Merkaba

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.

AN: Thank you for reading! And thank you for all of the comments and reviews! I enjoy hearing what everyone thinks. Of Course thank you Gategirl7 for being an awesome beta! Any mistakes are mine and mine alone, probably added after I got the edited version back.

Chapter 4

"No Carter, don't apologize," he said, the anger gone as quickly as it had appeared. He looked sort of deflated. "It's OK," he assured her. "Strange day and all, I should leave you alone."

Seeing him unsure, it suddenly occurred to her that maybe he was as unsettled with things as she was. Maybe if they got the weirdness out of the way now, going back to work wouldn't seem so hard, awkward.

"Don't leave, Sir," she said, stepping aside. "Please come in." He studied her face for a second before seeming to come to some decision. He nodded once, stepping by her, but didn't go very far into the house. The Colonel looked less at ease than she could every remember seeing him. Sam shut the door and turned to where he stood in her front entry. The space suddenly felt very small with his 6' plus frame hovering. Jack was a big man. She didn't think about it much considering all of the guys on her team were big men, but having him taking up the space of her small hall while she stood with only a robe on, Sam couldn't help but feel the power radiate off of him. She suddenly felt small and vulnerable. Her body reacted instantly to the new thoughts. Warmth pooled in her belly. She fought the urge to pull the robe tighter around her.

"Back to Sir?" Jack questioned, rocking back on his heels and jamming his hands in his pockets. Sam's heart picked up. She wasn't sure how to answer that. She'd been the one to tell him that it was ok to leave things in the room, but he certainly hadn't argued about it. He'd seemed almost relieved. She had sort of assumed that's what he wanted. If it wasn't, he would have said something, approached her in some way. Either he didn't think things would work enough to try or the regulations kept him at bay, either way, leaving their newly admitted emotions hidden had obviously been what he wanted, so she'd taken the easy way out and assured him it was what she wanted too.

"Colonel?" her voice rose as his question caught her off guard. She didn't know what he was getting at or how to take what he'd just said. Was he holding against her that she had used his name to get him to turn around? Was he going to call her on it? Sam dismissed that thought. He wouldn't do that to her. It was her own jumbled emotions reading too much into the man's words.

"I don't know what you're asking me, Sir," she finally answered honestly. Sam watched him for a moment, trying to read him. She'd never been very good at it when he didn't want to be read, but today was different. He was intense. His body language was uncertain and tense. His emotions were swirling close to the surface and that was not the Colonel O'Neill she knew. She could see them in him as much as she could feel them in her. That intensity in him was making her nervous and her state of undress wasn't helping any. She needed to move, not stand so close.

"Would you like a beer, Colonel?" she asked. She didn't wait for his answer. Sliding carefully past him, Sam headed for her kitchen. He was right behind her. She reached the refrigerator and pulled two bottles from the shelf.

"Thanks," Jack took the beer she offered him and parked himself behind her breakfast island, leaning his arms on the counter. He rolled the bottle in his hands a few times before finally taking a swig.

He obviously wanted something or he wouldn't be standing in her kitchen, but Sam wasn't sure what to think. She'd learned to wait him out when he was thinking through something and besides she really had no idea what to say. God, had he decided he couldn't work with her considering what they had admitted? Had General Hammond reviewed the transcripts of Anise's interview and the team was being broken up? There were a lot of reasons for him to be coming to her house alone and most of them were not very good.

Sam put her beer down without drinking. The Colonel had his head down, intently studying his bottle. It gave her time to study him. He was a good looking man. He made her heart skip a beat sometimes, especially times where they were away from work. The words he'd said during the Za'tarc testing flashed through her mind. He cared for her way more than he should. Jack O'Neill had feelings for her. Sam closed her eyes. She had to stop thinking about him like that. Colonel Jack O'Neill was her commanding officer. That was all that it was ever going to be. He might harbor a few feelings, but that was a far cry from wanting to take a chance on being court marshaled by doing something about the feelings.

"I'm sorry you had to shoot Martouf, Carter." Jack finally met her eyes as he spoke. "It shouldn't have gone down that way. I should have stopped him." Sam's head popped up in surprise. She'd never have guessed he'd go there. Disappointment spiked through her, but she fought to not let it show. If she was being truthful with herself, she'd been hoping that he might be there for a more personal conversation.

"Not your fault, Colonel, we all did what we had to do. I was in the right position. I did what I had to do," she repeated, still not sure what he was getting at. "He wasn't the first person I've had to shoot in the line of duty, Sir," she pointed out, keeping her voice as normal as she could.

"Damn it, Carter," he sounded frustrated, and she could feel anger in him, see his body tight with tension. Unsure what she'd said or how to react to his mood, Sam couldn't help jumping when he slammed his beer down and rounded the corner of the kitchen bar. His movements were stalking, like a sleek jungle cat. Her body tightened in response.

When he stopped only inches from her, her heart sped up and bits of electric current fired down her spine to pool in her belly. She sucked in her breath at the reaction of her body to his. This is your commanding officer, she reminded herself, fighting to keep her thoughts professional. She'd never seen him like this before. He's your commanding officer, she reminded herself again. She was having a lot of trouble remembering all the reasons why she shouldn't touch him.

"Colonel, Sir..." he repeated harshly. "Is this how you want to see me?" He seemed to take a breath and pull back. She searched his face, but the emotion she'd glimpsed for a second was replaced with the mask she was used to seeing when he was protecting his thoughts. "That's not how you saw Martouf. Were you in love with the Tok'ra?"

"Jolinar was." Sam knew that was not exactly the answer he was looking for, but she was at a loss as to what he wanted or where he was going with all of this. Too many emotions were churning around inside her and she wasn't prepared for how strongly she was reacting to Jack O'Neill.

"That's not what I asked you." He wasn't going to let her get out of answering the question. Since when had her commanding officer pushed anyone when it came to feelings?

"I liked him," she started, considering her words and trying to explain how she felt to herself as well as to him. "I could feel Jolinar's love for him and at first it confused me, but no, I wasn't in love with him. But he didn't deserve to die like that." Jack seemed to accept her words. He nodded slightly before stepping closer to her. She didn't take a step backward, but she wanted to.

"What about me, Carter?" Jack's voice was low, but he was focused on her so intently that she couldn't have missed his words even if they'd only been a whisper.


The words were out of his mouth before Jack could stop them. Sam's face was the picture of confusion, but her eyes were dilated and her breathing had sped up the moment he'd stepped into her space. He registered her reactions automatically and they gave him hope. He wasn't sure what he was doing here or what he was going to say, but he knew he wasn't ok with leaving their newly confessed feelings locked away in some room. He needed to know why she wanted to do that. Was it because she didn't want him, his age, just the regulations, or another reason? He'd just ruled out Martouf.

"Sir," damn, there was that title again, her way of keeping him at a distance. He was beginning to hate that word, but he wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't really a man of words and less so when it came to feelings.

If the confusion in Sam's voice was any indication, she was as bad at this as he was. He searched his mind for something to say, anything. "Ah hell," Jack muttered, deciding words just weren't going to work. He needed to do something before Sam could finish her sentence and say something that might lead them in some direction he didn't want to go. Jack reached a hand to her cheek and brushed his thumb across her lips to silence her. The little half moan she made at his touch made him smile and his body tighten but more importantly, it gave him hope. He was in love with this woman. He'd realized that full force while watching her hold Martouf.

Following his instinct, Jack leaned in and settled his lips on hers. He intended to take things slowly, let her make the decision if she wanted the kiss to become more. At first, Sam didn't react like he'd hoped. She didn't move, just allowed him to kiss her. Disappointment hit him like a brick wall. Maybe he'd been wrong, maybe she was asking that they leave their feelings in that room because she didn't want him.

When Sam moaned low in her throat and stepped a little closer to him, Jack felt a weight lift off of him. He should have known she'd take a moment for her brain to hit neutral and her body to take over. The feel of her hands sliding tentatively around the back of his neck made his pulse jump.

Jack slid one arm behind Sam and flattened his hand at the small of her back, encouraging her against him as he deepened the kiss. It was Jack's turn to moan as Sam came willingly. She pressed her soft curves against him and opened her mouth to him in the same moment. All of his thoughts of being gentle and keeping things light flew out the window. Suddenly he felt like a man caught in the desert suddenly finding water. She felt so good in his arms and tasted like heaven. He slid a hand into her hair and angled her head to allow him better access.

The robe she was wearing was soft under his other hand and made him wonder at just how much she had on beneath it. Jack moaned and dropped his hand to her butt to pull her center closer against him as an image of them on top of her furry pink robe, naked, him buried to the hilt in her soft body assailed his senses.

Stop it O'Neill, he chided himself. God, if he didn't get hold of himself he was going to bend her over her kitchen counter and... Damn, he needed to get control of himself. As amazing as she felt in his arms, he couldn't just take her to bed. There was way too much at stake for them both. Reaching deep, Jack summoned all of his self discipline and pulled back from the intensity of their kiss. It had answered questions for him. It gave him the encouragement. They needed to talk.

Stepping back, Jack's heart skipped a beat at the dazed look on Sam's face. "Jack," her voice was as shaky as his insides felt.

"Better than Sir," he told her, unable to take his hands off of her completely. He liked the feel of her hair in his fingers almost as much as he liked hearing her call him by his name. At least they'd progressed that far. "I don't think keeping this in that room's going to work for me, Sam. I need to know if you really want us to leave this thing between us buried. It's up to you, but I thought you needed the facts."

Chapter 5 - Answers by Merkaba

Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.

AN: Happy Birthday (belated) Gategirl7. Thank you for being such an awesome beta! Any mistakes are mine and mine alone, probably added after I got the edited version back.

IMPORTANT: I am attempting to keep this a little tamer than I usually manage in my writing in keeping with the rating. I think I have accomplished it, but if I haven't and anyone is offended I apologize ahead of time. Let me know how I do if you are feeling kind. Thank you for reading!

Chapter 5

"You want me to call you Jack?" she questioned. Her brain was still a little slow from the intensity of the kiss, but she even so, she was fairly sure she wasn't getting his point.

"Colonel O'Neill doesn't want to have this conversation, Jack does," he pointed out slowly, a smile on his face. His hands were still on her. She was finding it really hard to think beyond the feel of his fingers at the small of her back, stroking her through the softness of her robe. "I'd like to have this conversation with Sam if she's in," he prompted, his low sexy voice sending shivers up and down her spine. Smug bastard, she decided, not mad. Actually she sort of liked that he was proud of making her brain into mush.

"I liked it better when we weren't talking and you were kissing me." Oh God! Where had that come from? His smug smile turned into a supremely male smirk that made her blush. She could feel her skin turning warm as the color spread across her face.

"Me too, but I was thinking we might need to talk about this." He looked almost hopeful as he leaned in and kissed her nose. Were they really going to do this, talk about them?

"What about regulations?" she asked. "How do we have this conversation?" She could see him starting to withdraw again. This was such a touchy subject for both of them she realized clearly for the first time. Maybe they both were assuming too much about the other's motives. Maybe he was right; it was time for them to both put their cards on the table.

"I want this, you, Jack," she hurried to assure him. She needed him to know that she was trying to solve problems and find a solution, not rejecting him. "I just don't know how to make that happen."

"I'm not sure either, Sam" he stood a little straighter and took a step back. "Maybe we don't manage it," he acknowledged. "Your career is not anything I want to hurt."

"Neither is yours for me," she answered. This wasn't one sided. She wouldn't let him shoulder anything alone, not the decision or the responsibility if things went badly.

"I've been through the retirement scenarios in my head. I don't see them letting either of us retire or transfer right now." Jack's voice was full of resignation, "Not with the level of threat being so high right now." He reached toward her and adjusted her robe closed a little at the neck, tying the belt a little tighter. She shivered a little at the closeness of his hands to her. "I'm sorry, Sam." His voice was so emotionless, like he was giving up. It scared her. "This wasn't fair. I shouldn't have come. Nothing has changed for us except the cat's out of the bag."

Sam's stomach dropped. Jack was giving up. She could see it in his eyes and the stance of his body. He was pulling back right in front of her and closing himself off. They'd spent years closed off. More than anything, she knew she didn't want to go back to that again.

"No, Jack, it has changed," she insisted. He wasn't physically moving away from her, but she could see him closing himself off mentally. He wanted her; that thought thrilled her and gave her hope as much as his trying to protect her scared her.

"I've been through every scenario in my head, Carter," he told her, pushing a hand through his hair. "This isn't fixable without hurting you. We can't be on the same team and have a relationship." He captured her eyes before continuing. "Us not being on the same team is not an option." Sam couldn't argue. She'd thought through the possibilities also and she didn't see any legal ones either. "I'm sorry," Jack told her. He set his beer back on the counter. "I should go before I make this any worse." He looked as defeated as she felt.

If he walks out now, I've lost him. That thought crystallized in her head. She watched him take a step away from her, but wasn't sure what to do to change the situation. Everything he said was right, but it's not as simple as that, she thought.

They'd almost died today. She'd killed a man she had memories of loving deeply. Life turned too quickly. Living in fear, wasting life wasn't an option either, she decided. "The only way you can make this worse is walking out of the door." There, she'd said it. She'd put her feelings on the line for him. What they were doing to protect their world, their corner of the universe, was important and vital, but she had a hard time believing that she and Jack didn't deserve some happiness to go along with all of the sacrifice and danger they experienced on a day to day basis.

Sam was relieved when Jack turned back to her. He didn't say anything, but she could see him fighting with himself. He was bound and determined to take the decision out of her hands and protect her. That wasn't what she wanted. "Have an affair with me, Jack." The words were out before she could make them stay in. The surprise on his face was quickly replaced by a naked desire so stark it sent waves of warmth and wetness sliding through her body to pool between her thighs.

"We do this, have an affair and get found out, you have to know Sam, your career will be over, your reputation shot." He took a deep breath. "This will hit you more than me, Carter. You know that," he told her. "I can't do that to you." He was right. Sam knew that when she suggested the affair. He wouldn't be able to do much of anything to help her if they got found out either. Sam knew that also, but she wanted him. He was worth the risk.

Sam could see how hard it was for Jack to pull back, but he was doing it. She knew all the reasons why, but the rejection stung. They'd done this dance between them for years, just never in the open. If he withdrew now, Sam knew she would too. It would be over. They'd go back to friends, but there would be a distance they couldn't breach between them. This admission had changed them. There was no going back, just the choice of which path they took going forward.

"That's my decision," she informed him. "My career, my reputation, my choice," she could see he was about to argue. "In this, Jack, you are not my commanding officer and it is not your responsibility to protect me from a decision I understand as well as you do." She wasn't sure if she was reminding him or herself. "If you don't want me or you don't want to take that risk with your career, then say so, but don't make decisions for me." The surprise on his face almost made her smile, but the fact he still wasn't saying anything was scaring her.

Jack's eyes were intensely dark as he stood silently looking at her. The moments stretched, making her incredibly uncomfortable. Was he going to reject her anyway? She half expected him to turn around and leave without saying another word. That would be like him when he felt like he was doing the right thing but the right thing was something that hurt him to do. He wasn't above ignoring everyone else and going with his gut.

"This can't change anything between us at work or in the field," he stated finally. His voice and stance didn't give away anything, but his words gave her hope.

"These feelings aren't new. We've been hiding them for years without it affecting the job," she informed him, bristling slightly. He should know that.

"Yeah," he agreed, "just needed to say it." Jack's stance lightened slightly. "You absolutely sure about this, Sam?" he asked one more time. Relief spiked through her at the same time her heart started to beat loud in her chest. They were going to do this. They were going to take a chance and do this.

"I'm sure, Jack," she told him, hoping he'd reach for her again. When he didn't move, she could see him still questioning himself. If either of them thought about this anymore they would back out.

"For two people that suck at talking, we've been doing a lot of it," Jack pointed out. Sam smiled, that really said it all. They did suck at talking. It had taken the threat of death for them to admit to the feelings they were discussing now. She smiled ruefully, that was the story of her life. His answering sheepish grin helped. He could always make her feel better and that lopsided half grin of his tended to melt her from the inside out.

When Jack made a step toward her, she knew he was going to pull her into his arms and kiss her again. The excitement pulsed through her at the same time as the knowledge that she needed to start to establish her place in their budding relationship or he'd take the lead there just as he did in their professional lives. She didn't want that. She needed this thing between them to be on equal footing. That was the only way it had a chance of lasting.

"We do suck at it," she stated, sliding her hands down the front of her robe. "I think it's best if we stop talking." In one fluid motion, she released the belt and shrugged her shoulders, sending the soft, furry garment sliding down her body to pool at her feet.

Jack's reaction was all she could hope for. He stopped in his tracks. "God, Sam," he breathed. Jack's hand touched her cheek before he lightly skimmed down her skin, running his hand between her breasts and down across her belly.

She closed her eyes and sighed at the waves of sensation racing across her skin. When Jack's lips met hers, Sam wasn't prepared for the intensity of his kiss. The careful tentative tasting he'd started with before was gone. His hands in her hair held her still while his lips and tongue devoured her mouth. She felt surrounded by him, safe, wanted, possessed. A whimper low in her throat slipped out as his hand slid low across her back, pressing her softness more firmly against his hard body. She felt Jack smile against her mouth before he deepened the kiss once more.

Sam shivered, there was something erotic about being completely naked with Jack fully dressed, holding her tightly, kissing her until she wasn't sure if she was breathing in air or him. She caught her breath in surprise when he slid his hands lower until he was cupping her butt and lifted her easily onto the counter behind her.

Breaking the kiss, he framed her face with his hands. Sam took in several deep breaths trying to calm her body as she met his eyes. "I don't do things halfway, Sam," he told her. "I don't think I'll survive loosing someone else I love." Her heart melted at his words. This amazing man had lost so much in his lifetime and given so much, she felt humbled by his admission and intensely protective.

Sliding her hands along the back of his, she laced her fingers into his and held on. "I love you too, Jack. You're not going to lose me." Releasing his hands and reaching for his face to pull him to her, Sam tried to put everything she felt into her eyes. "I'm with you. I'm going to protect you, me, us, with everything I have Jack. I'm in this as long as you want me."

The relief that was in his face was quickly replaced with a fierceness that made her shiver at the intensity. "Always, Samantha, that's how long I want you." Jack pulled her to him, sliding her across the counter and catching her against the hard planes of his body. Instinctively, she wrapped her legs around his waist at the same time he took her mouth possessively and stepped away from the counter.

"God, Jack," she moaned, pulling back from his kiss. "Take me to bed, please."

"Tired, Sam? Need to rest?" The teasing lightness of his tone was betrayed by the breathlessness of his voice. Jack slid a hand down and flattened it against her lower back, holding her tightly against him as he thrust his hips against her, pressing the hard length of his pant covered body into her answering wetness. Sam couldn't help the moan that escaped her. Sam tightened her legs around him and pressed herself hard against the ridge of Jack's erection.

The pressure against the bundle of nerves protected by her nether lips sent jolts of electricity through her body, threatening to send her over the edge. The feeling was so sudden she wasn't ready for intensity and cried out. She felt as much as heard Jack's moan as he pressed himself harder against her core.

God, if he didn't stop she was going to climax without him even entering her. "Please, Jack," she begged, not entirely sure what she was asking him to do. She buried her face in his neck when he thrust against her again and tightened his hold on her as pleasure threatened to overwhelm her senses.

"That's right, Sam," Jack encouraged. "Come for me," he instructed. "Let go." His last statement was punctuated by another thrust. Sam cried out and pressed her center harder against Jack as she broke and crested.

She wasn't aware they were moving until she felt the world shift as she was lowered onto her bed. She reached out as he untangled himself from her, her arms feeling empty for a moment before the bed dipped with Jack's weight and he settled himself back over her.

The velvety hardness of his body pushed at her still shuddering entrance. Sam tilted her pelvis to allow him better access at the same time as he thrust forward, burying himself in her depths. "Oh God, Sam," he cried as he pushed up on his arms over her and took her mouth once more. Sam's body hadn't completely returned to earth after her first climax. She gasped in surprise as he started to move within her and she realized how close she was to making the jump again.

Jack's generous build was stretching her body and filling her in a way she'd never felt before. As his pace became more erratic, Sam was already halfway back to breaking apart again. She could feel Jack holding back, like he was scared he'd hurt her.

"Harder, Jack," she instructed. "I'm yours, don't hold back. Make me yours, Jack," her voice broke as he picked up the pace, fusing their bodies with each powerful thrust.

"Mine," his cry was more moan than word as his movements became less controlled.

"Always," she answered, her body building impossibly high as she matched his pace, adding her power to his own. She needed to feel him soar with her. She needed to know he was hers too.

"Let go, Sam, fly with me," Jack instructed, his voice harsh with effort as he buried himself in her one last time and twisted his hips in a way that brought him against her sweet spots, creating friction and pressure all at the same time. Sam couldn't help the cry that tore through her as her release hit her in powerful tidal waves. She was dimly aware of Jack's answering shout as he emptied himself against her womb.

As she came back to earth, cold air brushed across her left side. Jack was to her right, half covering her. Sam had never felt anything so right. The weight of his arm across her as he pulled her closer into his side felt safe and secure.

"What's going on in that head of yours, Carter?" Jack asked without moving. She shifted slightly to look at him. He had his head propped on the arm he had half under her and he was watching her intently.

She had to smile at him slipping back to his pet name for her. "I was thinking that this feels right," she told him, snuggling into him deeper, enjoying his warmth.

"Ah, ok," Jack relaxed the tension that had started to seep into his body. "So it feels right?" He picked his head up and was studying her, "just right, not amazing, or fireworks, or angels singing?" His voice was petulant bordering on whine. "Wow, I better start over. I'm losing my touch." The man made her laugh.

"Well you know, now that you mention it, maybe everything happened too fast and I'm not remembering correctly." Sam yelped as she was rolled over and smacked across the butt.

"Too fast, Sam, really?" his voice was incredulous, but also lighter than she could remember hearing him. "I can do slow and steady," he declared, nuzzling her neck from behind and kissing down her shoulder blade. Shivers spiked out across her skin. God, the man seemed to be able to make any spot on her body an erogenous zone.

"That sounds like a challenge," she pointed out.

"Maybe," he murmured between nips of his teeth and flicks of his tongue. Sam couldn't help squirming a little as the feeling built, sending warm molten liquid pooling in her belly and between her thighs.

When he reached the curve of her butt and began to trail nips and kisses down her sensitive flesh, investigating every nook and cranny with lips or tongue, the feelings were becoming incredibly intense making her press her center into the mattress looking for anything to give added pressure to where she wanted it.

"You're squirming a lot, Sam," Jack pointed out as he pulled back from her to flip her onto her back. "Let me know when you're satisfied I've been at this long enough. I want to make sure I've gotten it right this time." The evil look in his face did not bode well.

He bit the inside of her ankle for good measure, pulling a gasp from her as he soothed the flesh with his tongue. By the time that he had kissed and licked his way up her legs, across her thighs and was hovering over the apex of her legs, she was literally shaking with need.

"God Jack, I want you. I need you inside me," she told him, slightly embarrassed by the pleading tone in her voice. Sam barely contained a scream when Jack finally connected with the center of her being. He pressed the little bundle with his tongue rhythmically. Relief coursed through her as she built toward climax. All the desire he created and passion he'd built in her flowed toward release with the intensity of a building storm.

Sam's eyes flew open when she felt his tongue replaced by his open palm, soothing her. The gathered energy banked and stilled. She wanted to scream. "Jack," she shouted, trying to wiggle to press herself against his hand with the added pressure he was denying her. The need to climax was almost painful.

"What is it, Sam?" he asked, calmly, as if he wasn't pushing her to the brink and pulling her back again. She wanted to punch the covers, the bed, Jack, anything.

"I give, you win, there were fireworks, light shows, exploding suns," she agreed. "Please, Jack."

"Good girl," he commented as he settled himself on her. One thrust was all it took for her to be sailing again. The man was going to be the death of her she decided as she began to calm. She wasn't prepared when he flipped them both over and she found herself on top.

"Thought you might want first seat for a while," he told her, settling his hands on her hips and helping her to move. As Sam adjusted to her new position, she realized that life had changed fundamentally for them in such an amazing way. The flood gates of their emotions they'd both held shut by force of will for so many years were open now. Whatever came, she knew they'd fight together. Sam slid her hips forward and reached behind her to grasp Jack's sack and roll it toward his body.

"God," he cried, thrusting up into her as she slammed herself down, taking him as deep in her body as possible. "Your turn, Jack," she said, rolling her hips again even as she used her calves to bring her down and back before seating him as far inside her body as she could take him. Her move elicited a primal grow from him as Jack peaked and spilled himself deep in her.

Sam collapsed over him and would have rolled to the side, but Jack held her in place with a muttered, "mine." It was her turn to chuckle. "Any regrets?" he asked her out of the blue as they lay quietly, his breathing returning to normal slowly alongside hers.

"That we didn't do this sooner," she answered with a smile, enjoying the sound of Jack's heart beating strong against her ear. Why hadn't she tried sleeping on him before, she mused. It was much more comfortable than a sleeping bag on the hard ground. She briefly wondered if she could get away with it next trip off world. "I love you, no regrets here," she told him, fluffing the hair on his chest with her fingers and making lazy circles. She liked that his skin would erupt in gooseflesh when she hit certain spots.

"Right back at you, Sam," he told her stroking her back lightly. With a contented sigh, Sam allowed her body to relax into sleep. They'd be ok. Whatever came, they had each other's backs. She was right where she belonged.

The End.

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