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Codes 'n Stuff: AU, mirror universe, angst, post-col, Gen. O'Neill/Dr. Carter

Archive: SJD yes; nowhere else, please. You may link to my site if you want.

Season/Spoilers: S1, "There but for the Grace of God"

Feedback: Any and all welcomed.

Takes place about a day before Daniel shows up in the alternate reality in TBFTGOG.

A/N: Halfway through "There but for the Grace of God," I thought: Hey, they all look kind of clean for people who've been in crisis mode for four days. And yes, I am slightly obsessed with the end of the world lately.

Thanks: Julie and Karen.

This story is also on the web at

She followed him into his office after the briefing, closing the door behind her, and he pretended not to notice at first. There were two Goa'uld motherships decimating his planet, Europe and Asia were already overrun with Jaffa, his base was sure to become the front line at some point, and he wasn't in the mood for distractions. Even from her.

He dropped his files on his desk. "You have something to add, Doctor?"

Of course she had something to add. She always had something to add. "Jack, you need to sleep."

Oh, for crying out -- "Have you noticed what's going on around here? I don't have time to sleep."

"Make time." He looked at her more closely, and had to stare a little. Her shoulders and jaw were set the way they'd been when she first walked into his life, onto his base, barely thirty years old, full of big words and a justifiably swollen ego. He was still in mourning then, for his kid and for his marriage, and she'd driven him crazy for months until he smartened up and asked her out to dinner.

She'd said no the first three times.

"Sam, please." He swept an arm through the air above his desk. "I've got work to do here. So do you." That, and he didn't really expect to survive the rest of the week, so sleep deprivation was not at the top of his list of concerns.

"I mean it, Jack. We've both been up for three days and it's only going to get worse from here." Actually, it had probably been closer to four days -- they'd been in a late-night, post-coital haze when the call came. The memory softened him up a bit, and he noticed that her eyes were warm despite her *I don't care if you are a general, General* face.

She didn't piss him off on purpose. At least, not often.

"They do train us for this stuff, you know," he said, more gently now.

"Well, they don't train me."

He tried to stare her down. It'd never worked before. "That's blackmail."

"Yes, it is. And I'm not leaving this office until you leave with me."

He rolled his eyes and collapsed into his chair. It was a very nice chair, comfortable. Authoritative. There were not a lot of people who would argue with him when he sat in this chair.

"A few hours and a shower --"

"You telling me I stink, Doctor?"

Her lips quirked, but she ignored him otherwise. "-- and you'll be better prepared to make tough decisions. Come on, Jack."

"So I don't stink?"

Now she ignored him altogether. "I put a change of clothes for both of us in one of the VIP quarters," she said.

He had to think for a second to figure out what was wrong with this picture. Okay, so maybe he was a little tired. When it clicked, he narrowed his eyes at her. "We don't spend nights together on base," he said slowly.

"You really think anybody is going to notice?"

Yeah. He shrugged, conceding her point, and wondered how many people had died just in the time they'd been talking. The last report had the ships over The Hague.

"You'll thank me for it later," Sam said. "Come on."

"I'll either thank you for it, or I'll fire you."

"Jack, come on." She held out a hand and he gave in, getting up and squeezing it once.

He called Hammond up from the control room, to keep the rumors in check as much as he could. The secretary of defense had once referred to Sam as "O'Neill's little blonde piece of ass," and Sam had had to do a lot of talking to convince Jack not to ruin his career over it. They'd both been obsessively discreet since then.

"Colonel," Jack said to Hammond, "I'm gonna try to catch some shut eye. We'll be -- where will we be?"

"VIP room 3 on 25," Sam supplied. Jack tried not to feel guilty about this -- Hammond was their friend, after all. He'd understand.

"Yeah. There. You'll call if the situation changes?"

"I'll try very hard to avoid it, General." The colonel shot a glance at Sam. "Should I have the security camera turned off, sir?"

Jack was grateful that he hadn't had to ask. "Might be a good idea," he said. "And George? When I come back, you're next. Catherine too." The lower-ranking airmen were already working, and sleeping, in shifts, but Sam was right about those at the top.

"I'll tell her," Hammond said, with a grim sort of smile. "Sleep well, sir."

They walked together wordlessly and Jack nodded at his troops as they passed, hoping he looked encouraging. They were just kids, most of them.

Sam swiped her ID to unlock the door. Once inside, he leaned back against it. Three -- or four -- days without sleep had suddenly caught up with his aging body, and his legs felt a little weak. "Toothbrushes in the bathroom?"

"I think so," she said. "Might only be one, though. I didn't think that far ahead."

"We'll deal."

He let her go first. By the time he came out, he was already pulling his uniform off, and she was already undressed and in bed. Her clothes were in a pile on the floor, which was unlike her.

"No," she said, reaching for his t-shirt when he moved to throw it on a chair. "Give me that. I'll sleep in it."

"Thought you said I stank." He turned off the overhead light and checked to make sure the power to the camera was really off.

"No, you said you stank."

He smiled a little, handed it to her, watched her slip it on. She curled up under the covers, and he crawled in to face her. "How're you holding up?" he asked, brushing the hair off her forehead with one hand.

"I'm okay, Jack." Tired, though. He could hear it.

"You did just point out that you're not trained for this stuff."

"That was only to get you in bed," she said slyly. "I'm okay, really. At least, no worse than anybody else."

He kissed her once and settled his palm on her neck. "I'm glad you're here," he said, though it still wasn't easy for him to say that kind of stuff.

"In bed? In the VIP quarters?"

"Here," he said. It was too important to joke about. "I'm glad I don't have to lie to you. 'Go home, sweetheart, everything's okay.'"

"I'm glad, too," she said. "And you have never called me sweetheart in your life. Now sleep."

He rubbed her shoulder. And because he knew he might not get a lot more opportunities to voice it, and he'd probably never said it enough anyway, he said, "I love you."

"You, too," she said, and sniffed. "So much."

"You gonna cry on me?"

"Maybe a little. It's just exhaustion, really."

She didn't cry. Her eyes drifted shut and he played with her hair. He'd always loved her hair. "I thought we'd have more time before they came for us," he said.

"I know." She cuddled up to him and he kissed the top of her head, rubbed circles on her back. "You're not sleepy at all, are you?" she asked.

"No. It'll hit me in a bit. You go ahead."

"Love you," she murmured.

"Yeah. Sleep."

He listened to her breathing slow and started counting exploding death gliders. He got up to 426.

When he woke up, his right arm was asleep, he had a wimpy hard-on, and his nose was buried in coconut-scented hair. He slid one hand down her hip. She wasn't wearing anything under the t-shirt, and twenty-seven years of military training warred with the knowledge that this was probably his last chance to see her naked.

They were supposed to have more time.

He checked his watch in the glow of the exit sign. Shit, it was after oh-eight-hundred. They'd been out for nearly five hours. Military training won out and he started to slip his arm out from under her.

She inhaled sharply as she woke up. "What are you doing?"

"Shower. Go back to sleep."

"No." Her breath warmed his chest as she spoke. "Just a few more minutes. Please?"

He didn't often think of the age difference between them, but right now, she seemed very, very young. "Someday I'm going to learn how to say no to you."

"No, you're not." And though he knew it wasn't what she meant, he thought that, yes, the goddamn Goa'ulds might just prevent that.

She knew him. She hadn't said anything, but she had to know that he would go down with his ship. He would die defending this mountain, and with any luck she'd make it out to the Beta Site, alone. Without him.

Neither of them spoke for a while, but he knew she was wide awake now. Her fingers were tracing through the hair on his chest.

"Sam?" he asked finally.


He'd been thinking about this for two days. He'd also been hating himself for it for two days. "Maybe it's better that Charlie didn't live to see this. To die this way."

She shifted at his side, her body suddenly tight. "Oh, Jack."

"He'd have been terrified. Of course he'd be eleven by now and I might already be the enemy."

"Jack, don't."

"You thought about your brother? Your father?"

"I'm trying not to," she said, irritation sneaking into her voice.

He only debated it for about two seconds. "Call them."

"Jack, I don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Get them here right away. I'll put them on the list."

She pulled back, staring at him in the faint red light. "You can't do that."

"The hell I can't. Come on, your niece and nephew at least."

And now she sat up, arms crossed and tears in her eyes. "And are you going to tell them why their other grandparents and their cousins can't come? And what about everybody else on the base? Walter Davis has three kids -- are you going to invite them, too?"

He rose to face her. "Sam, will you quit arguing with me for once?"

"Dammit, Jack! Do you think I don't want to do it? You need these people. You need their loyalty to defend this base and you need them to trust you when we get to the Beta Site and why the hell do I have to explain this?"

"Sam --" He didn't even know what he was trying to say. *I'm not going to the Beta Site and you know it* was probably not the right thing.

"Dammit," she said, her voice cracking, and started to push the covers off her legs. "We'll probably never be alone together again and it wasn't supposed to end this way. I'm going to go take a shower."

He reached for her, grabbed her arm. "No -- Sam -- not like this. Wait."

She glared at him expectantly and swiped at her eyes with her free hand. But then the phone rang, and she fell back on the bed, groaning.

"Sorry," he said. She covered her eyes with her hands while he crossed the room to pick up the receiver by the door.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, sir," Hammond said, "But the president is on the line."

Hammond gave him a quick update -- there'd be a Goa'uld ship on the east coast in less than two hours -- and Jack rubbed at his forehead with the heel of one hand. "Yeah, put him through."

Sam was looking at him again, so as he waited for the line to connect, he mouthed the word "president" to her. She nodded and pointed to the bathroom. He hoped he'd still have time to make it into the shower with her, but he doubted it.

"Good morning, Mr. President," he said, watching her walk across the room.

Behind the door, the water started.



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