She couldn't believe it.
Couldn't. Believe. It.
Of all the missions she'd been on and this had to be her first after taking a leave of absence from the SGC to help out at the Pentagon?
*This* mission on *this* planet.
With *these* people who were grinning at her expectantly.
Waiting for an answer.
Or, more accurately, a response to Teal'c and Daniel's answer on her behalf.
She could feel Colonel Mitchell watching her. Waiting for her to respond, too. He was curious, she could tell. Wanted to know the story behind Teal'c's oh-so-serious 'Did you not once bite O'Neill, Colonel Carter?'
Yes. Yes she had.
Under the mistake assumption that he was someone else. That he was the enemy.
She thought about saying that, about going with the truth but thought better of it.
These people, these aliens wouldn't appreciate it.
After all, they'd want to know why she'd bitten - got married to, in their culture - someone she thought was an enemy.
It all made sense now.
The looks they'd gotten on walking from the Stargate through the village to the elders house.
The hungry looks. Sam remembered commenting to Daniel, jokingly, that some of the female were staring at her teammates as if they were good enough to eat.
She hadn't meant literally.
Not that the Naporians ate their spouses. Hopefully. They did bite, them, however. Apparently it was a sign of affection - more than that even. A sign of unity, marriage. Unless of course the bitten party went and bit someone else within a year and that bite - claim - didn't go unchallenged in six months. Then they were divorced. Kind of. Maybe.
Okay, maybe it didn't all make sense.
"Colonel Carter?" One of the village elders, the female one, smiled at her kindly if not a little worriedly.
Sam tried to remember her name - Katisha, Katsha, something that sounded like that - but failed so just returned the smile with a weak one of her own. "I'm okay. Teal'c and Daniel are right. I did.. bite.. someone sometime ago."
"Ah." Katisha, Katsha, whoever she was, smiled again, this time knowingly. "Then you are bound."
"Not exactly." Sam frowned, wondering how to get herself out of her supposed marriage. Wondering with a sidelong look at her teammates why they all seemed to be too busy keeping the amusement from showing on their faces instead of helping her get out of the hole she was in.
The hole they'd dropped her in from what felt like a great height.
"Oh?" The male village elder, the partner - the one who'd bitten her or been bitten by her - of Katisha (Sam decided that was probably it and if she mumbled, no one would know she'd forgotten. It was a strategy she'd learned from General O'Neill and had found it to be a very useful one over her year and a half of SG-1's team leader), a man called Laron (and she knew that was his name - was pretty certain anyway) exchanged a concerned look with his 'wife'. "Your chosen partner chose another instead of you?"
Behind her, someone snorted.
Sam paused long enough to throw a random glare over her shoulder.
"No, not really. Ah. It doesn't mean the same thing in our culture." She fixed a reassuring smile on her face as the couple in front of her again exchanged looks.
"Actually, Sam, it would probably be recognised as meaning the same thing back home. They recognised my marriage to Sha're and that wasn't an Earth tradition."
The once sweet, innocent, bumbling archaeologist she could depend on when she went up against General O'Neill and Teal'c in the early days of SG-1.
How she wished, at that moment, if only for a moment, that he'd waited just a little bit longer to de-ascend. Maybe until *after* this mission.
"So you are joined." Katisha beamed her approval. "Then you must send for your partner so proceedings can begin."
"Send for him?"
"Trade proceedings," Laron answered Daniel.
"We can only trade with both partners present," Katisha answered Sam. Again with that damn smile.
For a split second she thought about saying 'bite me' but fortunately managed to hold the words back. Last thing she wanted was to cause a diplomatic incident by proposing marriage to the eligible bachelors in hearing distance - namely Katisha and Laron's two sons who may or may not have appeared disappointed by Teal'c's statement that she was, effectively, off the market.
"Perhaps Colonel Mitchell and Daniel Jackson should return for O'Neill." After watching her imitate a goldfish for the fifth time, Teal'c decided to take charge. Especially since Daniel Jackson was clearly struggling with his mirth and Colonel Mitchell appeared at a loss for words. "I will remain here with you while we wait if that is acceptable."
"It is." Laron grinned at him with more than a little nervousness. "We are happy to offer both Colonel Carter and yourself space in our home until her partner can join us."
The last four words had the grateful smile freezing on her face. Somehow, Sam managed to nod her agreement and sealed the deal - and her fate. "Sounds like a plan."
A plan that was going to lead to humiliation and tantrums and way too many jokes in the locker room.
At her expense.
"Colonel Carter. It will be some time before O'Neill and the others can return." Teal'c watched her from one of the two crates that would serve as their beds in the small room. "Do you think you can maintain your silence for the full duration?"
'Yes' hung from the tip of her tongue but she had to settle for throwing him a glare.
Two hours and eleven minutes. The longest she'd been able to withstand Teal'c's company without babbling about something in the whole time she'd known him.
Good for her.
At least something was going her way.
"Is it so bad to think of O'Neill as your partner, Colonel Carter?" She could feel him watching her. His keen eyes missing nothing. Not even the flush thinking of that very thing made creep over her features. "Is that not the direction in which your relationship is heading?"
"What? No!" Forgetting her silence - hey, she still beat her record - Sam paused mid-pace and spun around to glare at him fully, her hands resting on her hips. "Is that what you think? Is that what *everyone* thinks? Geez. We've had four dates. *Four* dates! The cabin doesn't count. You guys were there. What makes you people think we're heading *that* way after four dates? Not that they were bad dates because they weren't but come on. *Four* dates. That's all. Marriage and everything else is still a long long *long* way off.."
Teal'c just looked at her.
She could tell he was thinking that she was over-protesting.
Hell she was thinking it herself.
"Okay. Maybe it's not *that* far off but you can't say that to a person. Not to him. God, definitely not to him." She imagined the look on his face once he found out they were, apparently married and had been for oh, seven out of the eight years they'd been married and found she couldn't. His reaction was a mystery to her and she had to admit, part of her was wondering what it would be. Especially now he was.. ah.. her former Commanding Officer and current.. whatever it was when someone her age was dating. 'Boyfriend' was simply *not* a term she could apply to Jack O'Neill. *Ever*. "It's not something that should be taken lightly and I don't think either of us are ready for that kind of *thing* right now."
The way he said it had her rolling her eyes. "Of *course* you do. Why am I not surprised by that?"
"I do not understand."
"Of course not. You don't understand that your attempts with Daniel to play matchmaker haven't exactly been subtle. Teal'c. You took three hours longer to reach the cabin than we did and you left *at exactly the same time*. Then you insist on having the guesthouse - on sharing it with Daniel and I think I know you pretty well to know it isn't because you just love his company and I am so not going where my mind wanted to take me there - and then Daniel spilt his beer all over the couch leaving Jack and me to share. It wasn't subtle in Minnesota and it wasn't subtle in DC when someone from the SGC *accidentally* cancelled my hotel booking so Jack felt that he had to offer me a place to stay."
"I do not believe O'Neill would begrudge offering you accommodation, Colonel Carter."
He hadn't, anything but in fact, but she wasn't going to tell Teal'c that. Or Daniel or any of the gossips at the SGC for that matter who were just dying to know what the situation was.
God. *This* situation wasn't going to help *her* situation when she got back to the SGC. No doubt rumours were already spreading that she and the former base CO had eloped on a mission seven years ago - without even knowing it.
"That. Is not. The point. Teal'c."
Teal'c stared at her gravely. Inclined his head. "I see."
"No. No you don't." She sighed, a deep sigh that went with the pressure building behind her eyes and she sat down heavily on her 'bed'. Let her head fall back against the makeshift pillow. "Wake me when it's all over."
It wasn't all over but she still found herself awake.
Not by Teal'c, either, so she couldn't inflict any bodily harm on him despite the irrational urge she had to do so.
No. She was rudely awoken by stomach cramps - she hated being a woman sometimes - and the oh-so-familiar gaze resting on her face.
She opened one eye and groaned, closing it again.
Yup, she thought she recognised that gaze.
General Jack O'Neill, alive and in the flesh.
Wearing that smug self-satisfied grin that he *knew* drove her crazy. Okay, okay. Maybe he didn't know but after eight plus years, he should really suspect as much at least.
"Don't. Even. Say it."
"You bit me." The warning, forced out through ground teeth, went carelessly ignored. "Seven years ago. Apophis' ship."
"That means, what, we're coming up to our eighth anniversary? Kind of impressive since you only just agreed to date number five."
"I *know*, Jack."
The grin grew. She didn't know how she knew it without looking but she did. "Actually it's Sir. Again. Technically."
"So *technically* I'm not only married to my commanding officer but I'm dating him, too?" Her eyes opened again. Stayed that way when he moved. Narrowed suspiciously when he moved closer to her. "What?"
"You're cute when you're pretending to be annoyed."
"You won't be saying that when I bite you again."
The glare and the threat failed. Jack's grin widened. Again. Bastard. "Promise?"
Something in her voice must've got through to him. The grin faded. Slightly.
"Landry said we have to play along. Apparently the samples you sent back with Daniel and Mitchell had something good in them. Don't have a clue what," he added cheerfully at the interest that appeared on her face. "So. Married. Us. Because you bit me."
"Yes. Unfortunately I am aware of that."
The look on his face fell - slightly - and she felt bad. Instantly. His gaze skittered away from hers and he shrugged, looking awkward. Crestfallen even.
Damn it all to hell. *Again*.
"I didn't mean it like that. I just meant.."
"Meant what, Carter?"
Ouch. The tone and the familiar use of her surname. Double ouch.
"Jack." She moved, awkwardly, and sat up. Reached out for him and let her hand rest on his arm. Funny how that still felt odd. Wrong. Touching him. She wondered if it'd ever stop - well, it didn't feel wrong when they.. She shook herself mentally. Not going there. *So* not going there. "Ignore me. I'm just.. not dealing with this very well." She thought his snort was a pretty good sign that he agreed with her. "Blame it on hormones. Lack of sleep. Whatever. Please?"
She flushed when he looked at her, the kind of awkward embarrassment on his face the kind that appeared on men's faces when they realised it was a certain time of the month. She didn't know why it surprised him - surely if he'd failed to notice when they served together that she was a woman he should really have noticed in the last few months. *Really*. And damn, he couldn't be as embarrassed as she was at having to use it as an excuse.
"So the thought doesn't.. Forget it."
The embarrassment on his face turned into a fully-fledged blush, one that deepened when her grip on his arm tightened.
"What were you going to say?"
"I don't want to forget it. I want to know. *Jack*. What were you going to say?"
"It doesn't matter. I just.. You were going to marry Pete but the thought of *us* being married.."
"You thought I didn't like it? Crap." Sam glanced briefly up at the ceiling. Praying for patience or the right words or to be anywhere else in the whole goddamn universe but there. "I suck at this. I was going to say bite but that's not really a term I want to take in vain here. God, I almost said bite me before in front of Katisha and Laron and their sons. Can you imagine the trouble *that* would have caused?"
The flash of amusement on his face seemed to suggest he did but he stayed quiet, apparently content to let her finish.
Maybe because he enjoyed seeing her grovelling or trying to dig herself out of a hole or whatever it was she was doing. Sam suspected personally the world - universe - had gone mad and she was the only one unaffected but she wasn't going to say anything.
"I thought the idea would, I don't know, make things awkward. Between us. Which it has. We're not ready for this kind of thing, Jack. Like you said, we only just made plans for date five and that might not even happen depending on whether you can still get to Colorado for the weekend since you're here now and.."
The look in his eye changed and one of his hands came up to cup her cheek and then..
Had it really been a week since she'd seen him?
"O'Neill. Colonel Carter. Your presence is required."
Parting, they looked at each other regretfully.
"I guess we're needed."
"We'll finish this.. conversation.. later."
"Damn right we will." The grin was sappy. She knew it was sappy. Still, she couldn't get it to leave her lips so figured she might as well just go with it. Sam stood and offered him a hand.
"Never figured you'd get stuck with the old guy, did ya?"
She saw the grin, heard the tone. Smiled softy and kept hold of his hand. "I kinda hoped I would."
The smile faded - slightly - at the grin on Daniel's face. And the satisfaction on Teal'c's.
"Let's get this over with."
"I don't know why but it feels like we should be singing or something. What do you think, Teal'c?"
"I believe the song 'here comes the bride' might be appropriate, Daniel Jackson."
Jack chuckled. Sam growled.
Of all the missions she could've had..