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Sam glared at the phone in her hand, psyching herself up to dial his number. She’d had yet another argument with her fiancée and it had to end and she knew that she had to be the one to do it. Punching in each digit, she hit the call button and took a deep breath as the number connected.

It rang four times and she felt a sense of relief that he wouldn’t answer and she wouldn’t have to have this conversation now. And then she heard the click of the connection.

“O’Neill,” his answer was short and sharp.

“Uh, hello, Sir, it’s C-“

“I can see it’s you on the caller ID, Carter. Aren’t you in San Diego for the long weekend?”

“Uh, no, Sir. Well, yes, Sir, I am supposed to be in San Diego, but -“

“Carter,” he admonished, “I told you to go, in fact, I walked you off base myself. No sneaking back to work on that thing from P3C-420, it can wait until Tuesday.”

“Yes, Sir, I understood that and I did go home -“

“When’s your flight?”

“In an hour, Sir. But that’s not why -“

“Ok, then. Should I escort you to the gate?”

Sam took a breath. If he would just let her get a word in edgewise, she could do this and make the flight. “No, Sir, that’s why I’m call-“

“Right, that’s it, I’m escorting you. No way is Shanahan going to blame your boss for this. Where are you?”

“Outside your house,” she raised her voice, desperate to just get this over with. “I’m in my car, outside your house. Jack, just listen to me.” Sam shouted the last three words and held back a sob of frustration.

“Jack?” He asked her, the same way he’d asked her after Prometheus.

“Sir. You weren’t listening to me, Sir. I’m sorry.” Deep breaths, steady yourself, you just yelled at a superior officer.

“Carter? Sam?” He almost whispered her first name and she felt it tear a little at her insides. She would never have that, never have him and after this conversation, she most likely wouldn’t have him as a friend, either.

“Sir,” she closed her eyes, hoping that would make it easier. “Sir, I have a problem and I need your help.”

“Ok, Carter,” He was back in CO mode. “What can I help with? Do you want to come in?”

“Uh, no thank you, Sir. This should only take a moment. Sir, as you know, for many years, there have been rumours about us. You and me,” she clarified.

“Yes,” Colonel O’Neill sounded puzzled and now a little wary.

“Well now that Pete is living here, in the Springs, he is encountering people who know of those rumours and, he is finding them hard to deal with.” Ok, she was getting to the bits of the conversation she had thought out and it was getting easier.

“Hard to deal with? I am assuming that he is aware that if any such rumours were true, you or I, or maybe both of us, would be out of a job.” He was getting a little steamed and Sam knew it. She hated having to defend her fiancée to her CO, but this was what she had to do.

“Yes, Sir, I, and a few others, have explained the UCMJ to him and he, he has trouble accepting that you or I would take words on a page that seriously.”

“Words on a page? The UCMJ is not just ...” the Colonel took a breath and she could hear him pacing. “Carter, UCMJ aside, are you telling me that he doesn’t believe you when you tell him there is nothing to those rumours?”

Sam stopped dead. That was what Pete was saying. That was why, for the third time, they had stood in her living room and he had yelled at her while she begged him to trust her, to believe her. It was starting to hurt, really hurt, that he both questioned her as a person and as an Officer. “It is difficult for him, Sir, when he knows that you and I go back a long way and then he hears the scuttlebutt and ... He’s never really gotten over the secrecy that I had to maintain in the beginning.”

“Carter. Sam.” She heard a muffled thump through the phone and then he spoke again, “Look at me,” he demanded.

Sam startled and looked around her. Then she saw him, standing at the side of his house, looking at her. His body language, his face, told her that he was well and truly worked up. “Yes, Sir.”

“Sam, what are you doing with this guy? I’ve held my tongue through all the stupid, childish shit that he has done, but this. This is enough. You are better than this, you deserve better than this.” He started out charged, but by the end, he was almost begging. “Sam.”

Sam felt tears prick her eyes as she looked at him through her car window. “Because of you.”

“Because of me?” His voice hit a whole new octave on the last word. “Why are you with him because of me?”

“I, I couldn’t wait any longer, I thought I’d missed it. Missed the chance to have a normal life.” Sam pressed her forehead against the cool glass. “I waited, I waited for you to say something, and then he proposed and when you didn’t do anything I figured I was right, that I had missed our chance and so ... I’m thirty-six years old, Jack. If I want all the normal things, I need to be working on it, now.”

“Sam.” His voice was heavy with sorrow and regret. She heard the crunching of his feet on the gravel of the drive, saw him walking towards her. He stopped at her car door and put his palm against the glass. “You are anything but normal. You deserve the most amazing, spectacular, phenomenal life. Normal isn’t what you were made for.”

“It’s what I want,” she answered, feebly.

“It’s what you’re settling for.”

When she started to cry, he ended the call and opened the car door. “C’mere,” He urged her, taking her hand.

She followed his lead, as she had done since the day they met, and Jack pulled her into his arms, hugging her against him.

“You deserve better,” he said softly into her hair. “I don’t care who with, but he’s not for you.”

“You don’t care who with?” She asked him through her tears.

It wasn’t true, he knew he cared who she was with, but he could put his own desires and hopes aside if it meant she was happy.

“No.” He answered.

“What does ‘no’ mean?” Her voice was trembling, her body was trembling.

Jack stroked her hair and she pulled back in his arms, to look him in the eye.

“What does ‘no’ mean, Jack? Just tell me this one thing.”

Her eyes were wet with tears, some of them must be on his shirt, he thought. Her tears. Jack stroked her cheek, just meaning to feel if it was damp, but then his lips were on hers and she was leaning into him and then she opened to him and put her fingers in his hair and her tongue in his mouth.

He was pressing her body against the car and her tongue was demanding, his was answering and his hands, his hands were where she wanted them, pushing up her shirt, then pulling on the cups of her bra, freeing her breasts. Then his mouth was on her, kissing and sucking and biting and all the pain and the anger and the shame of Pete was converted into something white and hot in her centre and she needed Jack, she needed him to help her breathe.

Her hands reached for his belt, unbuckling and then he was on her other breast and the first one was cool - cold - with evaporating moisture but it didn’t matter because the white hot fire was burning inside her. The button on his jeans came free and she pulled at his fly, tugging the zipper open and plunged her hand inside his boxers, going straight for his erection.

“Oh, fuck,” Jack swore as his hips bucked into her hand and then he was picking her up, carrying her the short distance to the hood of her car, all the while her hand was around his rock hard cock.

Jack set her down and he was pushing up her skirt, letting it settle around her waist and then his fingers were over her underwear. Judging her wetness by the soaking fabric, he pushed the cotton aside and slid two fingers inside her, his thumb swiping juices from her lips and then searching for her clit. When he found it, he set the pad of his thumb just below the tight bundle and stroked her fast with his fingers.

Sam groaned and cupped him with her hand, trying to keep her strokes even, but she could feel the white hot heat coalescing and knew that her climax was just beyond it.

“Jack, Jack.” Her free hand gripped his shoulder. “Fuck me. Now.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he growled and with one hand each, they pushed at his pants and boxers until he was free. Jack pulled her closer with a hand on her ass, she gripped his shoulder. For a moment she felt him and his fingers pressing at her entrance and then he was inside her, completely inside her and she thought it possible that her mind had broken and that she would never be able to finish an equation ever again.

He grasped her chin and pulled her to his mouth with his fingers sodden with her juices. As her tongue thrust against his, they moved to cup her jaw and she felt the cool evaporation of her own lubrication like ice against the fire burning under the surface.

Once done fucking her mouth, Jack pulled back and she wrapped her legs around him as he began to push into her.

“Harder,” she demanded and he sped up, becoming less careful, sometimes jarring her, sometimes digging too deep but, right now, that was all fuel to her fire. Sam turned her face and chased his fingers, soaked with her flavour and sucked them into her mouth, tongue stroking, mouth moving over him until she felt her first flashes of orgasm.

Sam released his fingers and pulled herself tight against his chest and moaned. “Fuck, god, Jack!” She cried out his name as her heat went supernova and she barely noticed as both of his hands dug into her ass, jamming her hips into his and he lost himself inside her, shooting hot and white, an echo of her star.

It seemed forever before she could breathe again and then her hearing began to return and he was panting in her ear. His shirt was soft and smooth under her hands and when she stroked his face, his end of day stubble was rough on her palm. She stroked her palm against him, losing herself in the sensation.

His hand trailed up her back and then he was gently putting her back together, tucking her breasts in her bra, settling her shirt, brushing soft fingers through her hair, removing tangles, straightening wild locks. Lastly, regretfully, he slid himself from her, tugged the crotch of her underwear back in place and smoothed her skirt down. When he’d buttoned and zipped his fly, he kissed her gently.

“No. I do care who you’re with. But I can live with it not being me, as long as it isn’t him.”

Sam raised her eyes to his, palming his stubble again. “It’s always been you, Jack. Always.”