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“Do you think we’ll get away with the bunting?”

The newly-appointed General Jack O’Neill turns to the man at his side and grins. Even though Hammond gave him the heads-up regarding Gilmor’s real assignment, Jack has quickly grown to like the man, and is seriously considering asking if he would give up his day job and relocate to the SGC on a permanent basis, when they turn the corner and almost collide with a very flustered-looking Colonel Carter.

“Oh, General. Thank goodness!”

“Carter,” he frowns. “What’s wrong?”

“Ah,” she hesitates slightly, the blush on her face deepening. “Could I talk to you for a moment, sir? Privately?”

He glances at Gilmor who looks uncertain. “We only have a few minutes, General.”

Jack nods in understanding. “We only need two,” he throws over his shoulder as he gestures for Sam to lead the way back to his office. “Wait here,” he adds, not waiting to see if his order is followed.

He closes the door while his eyes are fixed on the woman in front of him. He tries to assess what is going on, but as Sam doesn’t appear to be upset or carrying an injury of some kind, he’s satisfied that she is okay and that the world isn’t about to end. He tilts his head to the side.

“Penny for them?”

Again, Sam flushes at his question and his concern turns to intrigue.

“I, ah, I need your help, sir.”

He’s just about to ask her with what, when she suddenly launches into a speech she hasn’t quite rehearsed about some kind of “unfortunate incident”, but all he hears are the words ‘zipper’ and ‘stuck’ before his thoughts quickly derail, images of a half-dressed Samantha Carter pop unbidden into his mind, and he finds he’s no longer concentrating on a single word the colonel says.

He tries not to let his mirth show at the scenarios his imagination is now conjuring, but his amusement quickly fades when Sam suddenly stops talking and looks at him expectantly.

“Huh?”

“I asked if you could, um… fasten my skirt. Sir.”

It's only then that he lets his gaze shift just to the left of Sam’s face and he sees her holding a safety pin in the air.

“Ah.”

He briefly contemplates that there are a hundred reasons as to why he should help her, but equally as many – if not more – as to why he shouldn’t, and as if Sam can read his mind, she quickly adds: “I would ask someone else, sir, but the President is already here and there’s not enough time to –”

“Carter,” he interrupts, throwing her what he hopes is an easy-going smile. “It’s fine.”

It really isn’t fine, but he suddenly doesn’t like the idea of anyone else on the base – even if it is only Daniel – getting so close to his colonel. Why he thinks that way, he decides to let slide for the time being.

Without a word, he steps closer and takes the pin, his fingers brushing over hers. He hesitates for just a moment as Sam turns around and lifts the hem of her jacket and Jack tries to ignore the smell of her shampoo as he leans in, or the way she jumps slightly when his hands sneak under the heavy cotton material to touch the small of her back where her skirt and shirt meet.

“Fuck,” he utters, realizing he’s just stabbed himself in the thumb, but when he feels Sam freeze, he winces. “Sorry,” he mumbles. “I, uh…”

He thinks he should stop talking right about now, but then he hears himself make a lame joke about this scenario definitely going onto the ‘pro’ list for being The Man and she chuckles softly in response. He feels the movement through every fiber of his body and as he swallows hard, he tells himself to focus. But even though he’s usually good with his hands, all of a sudden, he seems to have lost the ability to get his brain and fingers to work together and he sighs in frustration.

“Look, Carter, if we’re going to do… this,” he grimaces moments later, gesturing vaguely towards her lower body. “I need you to take off your jacket. I can’t see a damn thing with it on,” he adds with a shrug.

Something akin to understanding floods her features and she mutters a soft ‘oh’ before she removes the offending item and drapes it over the back of the chair. Even with the jacket gone, Jack still can’t see from the angle he’s standing, so he involuntarily drops to his knees and before he fully realizes what he’s doing, he’s staring at Carter’s ass. But he refuses to dwell on that little issue, until Sam starts to turn around to ask him how he’s getting on, and – again, without thinking – his hands shoot up to her hips to keep her in place.

He is completely aware of the fact that they are now in a very precarious situation so he carefully loosens his hold, but his fingers gently and traitorously trail along the curve of her hips and down the outside of her thighs before he fully lets go. He hears Sam release a shaky breath and it’s enough to bring him back to reality, so he clears his throat awkwardly and manages to weave the tip of the safety pin through the fabric.

“So,” he offers in an attempt to cut through the unbearable tension that’s filled his office. “You excited for this little shindig, Carter?”

He’s vaguely aware of her nodding before she shrugs and disturbs the material under his hands. “It’s a nice gesture on the President’s part,” she hedges. “But I’m looking forward to our team night more, if I’m honest.”

He hums in understanding because if he’s honest, he’s more excited to spend the evening drinking beer and eating pizza with his former teammates as well. However, as much as he abhors the idea, this meet-and-greet visit is part of his job responsibilities now and deep down he is appreciative of the fact that Hayes genuinely is taking an interest in the Program, and of the work the people under Jack’s command do on a daily basis.

Suddenly, he’s pulled from his thoughts by a knock on the door, seconds before it opens and Gilmor appears. The man’s gaze shifts between the general and the colonel and Jack can’t help but thinks the guy looks more confused at the respective-albeit-possibly-inappropriate positions he’s found both officers in, as opposed to alarmed or surprised, and he idly wonders if he should be more bothered by that fact than he actually is.

“The, uh, President is almost here, sir.”

“Thank you, Gilmor,” Jack answers quickly before he turns his attention back to Sam’s ass – skirt. Her skirt, he reminds himself. “We’ll be right there.”

It takes one final attempt and another quiet curse before Jack breathes out a sigh of relief and secures the pin.

“Voilà.”

He’s getting to his feet just as Sam starts to move, so he places his hands on her shoulders to keep her still.

“Let me, Carter,” he says as he lifts her jacket and helps her into it.

“Thank you, sir.”

She turns to face him, but her attention is on her cuffs, so Jack takes the opportunity to admire Sam in her uniform.

“I don’t know if I’ve told you this before,” he murmurs before he can stop himself. “But you look good in dress blues.”

His words make her blush all over again and as she meets his eye, he decides it’s definitely one of the most beautiful sights he’s ever witnessed.

They hold each other’s gaze for a few more seconds before Sam’s focus shifts to a point just over his shoulder. “We really should go.”

It’s on the tip of his tongue to ask if they could – and should – blow off Hayes’ visit, but he doesn’t think it’d be a good idea for so many reasons, so he just nods in agreement and waits until she passes before he starts to follow, but suddenly Sam stops at the threshold and spins on her heel.

He raises a brow in question and refuses to react as she boldly lets her gaze wander up and down his body. She throws a quick glance over her shoulder before moving to stand just inches from him. A smirk shapes her lips as she meets his eye and slowly she reaches out, her hands hovering over his own jacket, her fingers reverently tracing the star that adorns each of the shoulders.

“I think you look great in uniform too, sir,” she whispers, a glint clearly visible in her blue eyes, but before Jack can respond, he’s standing alone in his office, and really, really wishing he had suggested the two of them skip out on the President’s visit.