"I wanted to take him," the older man murmured, "but my life back then ... It was no life for an eight year old."
Sam shook her head, sad for the gulf that had opened between the two archeologists. "Talk to him, sir," she said.
The old man's eyes wandered over to the door. "You're very sweet, young lady, but talking never did any good."
"What?" Sam jerked out. "You can see me?"
"Yes, my dear; I can see you," Nick said sadly.
"You have to tell the Colonel!"
"Tell him what? Just another hallucination."
Sam sighed. "Mister Ballard; I'm not an hallucination."
"Hallucinations always say that." He gave her a smile that reminded her of Daniel. "But at least you're a lovely one."
Sam sighed again. "When you encountered the giant aliens, you were thrown out of phase. I've been thrown out of phase too, but I can't get back. We need to go back to P7X 377."
Nick blinked. "Could your people not name these planets something easier to understand?" he complained.
"It's based on a binary code the computer uses for extrapolation," Sam said automatically.
Nick blinked again. "Not an hallucination?"
Sam stood next to Nick at the briefing table, where Daniel, General Hammond, Teal'c and her favorite smart ass Colonel sat - hair all on end as usual. She smiled fondly; he had no idea how endearing he looked like that.
"We have to go back to the planet," Nick said.
The General looked over at Colonel O'Neill. "I swear; not a word, sir!"
"What 'planet'?" Hammond asked.
"The planet where the giant aliens live," Nick said. "She is here. Samantha is here."
"What?" Daniel said.
"Say she's standing right beside me," Sam instructed.
"Standing right beside me," Nick said obediently.
The Colonel looked over the table. "She's lost a few pounds," he said.
Sam groaned. "God, Colonel; don't be such an ass," she muttered.
"God, Colonel; don't be such an ass," Nick echoed.
Now Sam knew for sure that she wasn't a ghost. Could a ghost want to kill itself?
Daniel snickered and the Colonel sat up from his slouch. "Carter?" he barked.
"Carter; I could swear I ordered your ass off this base," Jack O'Neill said, upon entering the commissary and seeing his favorite brainiac toying with a piece of pie.
"Sir," she said, going pink. "I only finished typing up the briefing on the skull an hour ago. It wasn't worth going home when we have to report back in six hours."
"Ah." He sat down opposite her and filched some of her pie, ignoring the warning tilt of a slender eyebrow. He'd forgotten that Sam could be pretty defensive over pie - not as bad as one Jack O'Neill, but she was possessive over the stuff.
"Sir ...," she began hesitantly, "I owe you an apology."
"Calling you an ass," she forged ahead. "I wasn't expecting Nick to repeat that."
Jack snickered. Although he hadn't been able to see her at the time, he'd been able to imagine the hot blush suffusing her lovely features. "Think nothing of it, Carter," he said. "I can be an ass at times."
She smiled at him. "Thank you, sir," she said.
A silence fell, but it wasn't uncomfortable. They'd known each other nearly three years - seen each other during some of the lowest and highest points of their lives. Despite the barrier created by their ranks, they'd become pretty good friends.
"Sir?" Carter's softly voiced inquiry brought him back to his surroundings.
"So ... Carter; what was it like being invisible?" Jack asked his 2IC curiously.
Sam ... No; Carter! ... dug her fork into the pie she was working through and appeared to mull over the question. She wrinkled her nose slightly then a small smile appeared. "It was ... interesting, sir," she said.
"Ah, c'mon, Carter!" Jack complained. "You telling me you didn't get up to anything stupid while no-one could see you?" That was entirely possible, actually, he admitted to himself. Although fifteen years younger than him, Carter was a lot more mature.
"I didn't do much that would be considered stupid," Carter said. Then she gave him one of her Carter-patented gigawatt smiles that sent his heart rate into dangerous territory. "I ... ah ... gurned."
"Gurned?" He was so proud. "Who'd you gurn at?"
"At whom did I gurn." She smirked then added, "Sir."
"Hey, it's your job to be the genius and mine to be the smart ass," Jack complained, enjoying this rarely-seen silly side of Carter.
She beamed at him again, absorbing a mouthful of her pie, snaking her tongue out to lick some of the cream off the corner of those full red lips. And Jack felt ... things stirring to life downstairs. He coughed slightly. "So, Carter; at whom did you gurn?"
She snickered. "Everyone," she admitted. "No-one escaped - not even General Hammond."
"Damn, Carter; I'm proud," he said fondly. "So ... anything stupid besides the gurning?"
Carter shook her head. "Nothing stupid," she said.
Jack looked at the young woman. Her face was straight, her big blue eyes wide and steady. She couldn't lie worth shit, but he didn't exactly trust her choice of words. "Okay," he said. He was probably better off not knowing, anyway.
"So ... what's next on the mission roster?" Carter asked, that pink tongue coming out once more to capture some crumbs.
Jack's attention span - never the greatest - diminished even further at the sight of that pink little tongue. Major Samantha Carter was a beautiful young woman with a giant brain, and she had no idea how hot she was. Which made her even hotter, of course. "Huh? What?" he croaked.
Carter snickered. "What's next on the mission roster?" she said in a slightly less than subordinate tone. Damn; he was proud! He'd taught her well.
After discussing their upcoming mission for several more minutes, Sam and the Colonel went their separate ways - he to wade through mission reports, she to hit the sack.
"Good night, sir," she said.
"Night, Carter," he replied, patting her shoulder.
Sam smirked as she watched the Colonel's retreating backside. Very, very nice. Then the smirk changed to a snicker as she recalled his stunned reaction to her play with the whipped cream. Good to know the lust wasn't all on her side.
Sam Carter couldn't lie worth a hill of beans. Never had been able to. And she hadn't been lying when she'd told the Colonel that she hadn't done anything else stupid. Checking out the handsome, sexy older man in all his naked glory - and boy, was it glorious! - wasn't stupid. Hot, lusty, crazy-making, maybe. But not stupid. Never stupid.
"Hey, Carter!" the man himself yelled.
"Sweet dreams," he offered.
Sam snickered again. Her dreams had been anything but sweet the last few days. They had, however, been 'sweeeeet'.