Story Notes: NOTES: J: means Jack's lines, S: Sam's lines etc etc.

J: Carter, next time Daniel even attempts to talk us into helping him retrieve a rock, hold me back before I kill him.

S: Sir, Daniel is busy cataloguing the stuff he's already found and Teal'c is scouting for the other site on the map, so that left you and me.

J: OK, so what's so important about this rock (catching her gaze) sorry, artefact, that we have to absail about 20 stories and end up getting lost 'cause our wonderful archaeologist couldn't draw a map to save his life!

S: The main element of the rock is composed of a Naquada like ore, but it is much easier to split into it's separate parts. Let's just keep walking, the ropes should be easy to find.

J: Major, you said that nearly 3 hours ago, and guess what? We still haven't found the damn ropes.

Sam didn't think that an oral reply to that last comment would necessarily do her military career any good, considering the mood her CO seemed to be in. Her thoughts were an entirely different matter though. He really was giving her a hard time about everything, what she wanted to do was to tell him to shut his sarcastic mouth and just give her a break. He'd been like this ever since the incident in the locker room. It made no difference how many times she tried to reassure him that it didn't matter, I mean she was covered (albeit minimally) but covered non the less. If she could repeat the situation, hell, she'd probably not even have took a shower in the first place.

For goodness sakes Sam, who are you trying to kid, if you'd have know he'd walk in you'd have made sure that you not only had that shower, but would be wearing precisely nothing when he came in! She wanted him to see her naked, his reaction to "nearly naked" had given rise to a little flutter of hope, one which she ruthlessly buried deep inside. It was suicidal to her sanity to allow herself to think that Jack might reciprocate her dearest wish.

Jack mentally chastised himself, why *was* he being so hard on her? As usual she was doing her very best to get them out of the situation, but he knew why. The image of her semi-naked form in front of him haunted him even now. Everytime he had seen her since, he kept imaging what was *under* the towel. That's it, frustration, I'm angry at her for making me feel like this. Oh for Christ's sake, I'm Special Forces trained for torture and brainwashing, yet my own Major can crack me! Just as he was about to deny all knowledge and retreat to his safe ground of sarcasm, he heard Carter's strangled cry.

Before he could respond he found himself in the middle of tonnes of falling rocks.


A few hours later...

J: Come on Carter wake up. Just like a woman, always sleeps late.

Sam wasn't quite focused enough to take in *that* comment.

S: What happened? Are you hurt?

J: No, we both got a bang on the head, but nothing serious. I'm not sure what happened, all I know is that we are pretty much penned in so we'll have to wait for our resident archaeologist to come and put his rock digging skills to a proper use. The flash flags are up through that small gap, so they should find us easily. So for now, get comfy.

S: Gee, the feel of hard rocks, how compelling!

J: Careful Major, I'm the sarcastic one remember.

How could she forget, no matter how much he could irritate her with his flip comments it was also one of the things she loved most about him. As she sat there her mind began to wander over her favourite subject. His hair, greying but distinguished. His long, lean body that was far too sexy for it's own good. His eyes, well the least said about them the better. The phrase "drowning in a sea of chocolate" came to mind. But it was him, the personality that made up Jack O'Neill. The soldier, the friend, the confidant. The man who was hard and demanding one minute, and caring and vulnerable the next. A man of hidden depths that she wouldn't mind spending eternity exploring.

As he watched her gazing into space, the change in her face worried him. Had he upset her earlier? Was his last wisecrack one too much? He noticed the change in her face then too. The control she'd shown over the urge to punch him, had impressed him, but she did that a lot. He felt bad for watching her so much, all the sly glances and longful gazes, but he couldn't help it. She revealed so much with her face, plus she was *beautiful*. Didn't she realise he could tell how she reacted to every situation just by looking at her crystal blue eyes? How they sparked when she laughed (sometimes she laughed because of him) they could also turn fiery when she was angry or shimmer when she was sad. Jeez Jack, obsessive! He didn't care; his thoughts were his own. He noticed her lips twitch in a half smile, oh those lips! They were just too goddamn beautiful, but then so was she, all of her. Her wit, her intelligence, her patience with him. She scared him too, all his training was worthless when faced with *his* Major. How could he take the risk of loosing all that by telling her the one thing that would give him the chance to keep her forever? How he wished he could tell her.

He cursed his own fear. He hated fear, he hated frustration. He'd been through both emotions too many times before. He had a simple choice: bury his feelings, or be the soldier, the man he was. No guts, no glory right?

J: Major, er, Carter... Er, Sam?

Sam was startled, not by his calling her by her three titles, but at the deep insecurity in her CO's tone.

J: Hypothetically speaking, if someone close to you were to reveal a secret "admiration" for you, how would you react?

Completely misinterpreting his motives, she replied.

S: Sir, if you are trying in your not-to-subtle way to hint about Lt. Simmons, then forget it. I'm am *really* not interested. Besides there is someone else...

As her words trailed off a shaft of sunlight caught Jack by surprise.

D: Jack, Sam, you guys OK?

T: O'Neill, we will extract you immediately.

Timing, Jack thought.

J: (to Daniel) Yeah yeah, take your time Space Monkey, you need to think of your preferred way to die, *I* really don't mind as long as it's slow!

As they were dug out, Jack could tell that his question had confused Sam.

J: Sam, I wasn't talking about Simmons, but if you have already found someone else, then it doesn't matter.

God even saying the words made him feel like he was dying. How could he deal with *seeing* her with the other guy. Lucky Sonofabitch.

He turned his back on her so quickly that he didn't see her expression, but she didn't miss his.

They didn't get time alone until later that night at camp. Even though Daniel had stayed well out of Jack's way, there was always something that needed attending to. Plus Jack had purposely kept his distance from her and she had noticed. For a brief moment before, she had thought she had seen disappointment, no desolation, in his eyes when she said that there was someone else. She wished she could tell him that it was him. Hell, why not? What had she got to lose? "A hell of a lot" part of her reminded, but she couldn't carry on like this. At least this way it would be in the open and they could deal with it together. What was the saying about faint heart never winning fair lady? Surely it would apply to the opposite sex too? With that she went to find her Colonel.

When she found him, she stood stock still, hit by the wave of wanting that hit her. He was lay with his arms as a pillow, chewing a piece of grass, just staring at the stars. Wow.

S: Sir, may I join you?

Startled from his rather erotic daydream by the very subject of his dream was just a little disturbing to his sanity, so while he fought to regain control of his breathing (which given her proximity was no easy task) he just nodded his consent.

S: Sir, hypothetically speaking. What would you do if someone of a lower rank to you found you attractive?

Stunned, Jack completely forgot about breathing. What was she getting at?

J: Depends, please don't say Daniel has a new idea for a cultural experiment!

Sarcasm was always his favourite form of self-defence.

Oh, he could be so annoying thought Sam. OK, time to take a leaf out of the Jack O'Neill Manual of Straight Talking.

S: Sir, what if the person was me... What if I said that I love you, sarcasm and all. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Jack felt that if his heart beat any harder he would look like the cartoon cat, just before the cartoon bulldog caught him. Oh, my God, she loves me, he thought. The sweetest joy bubbled inside his once dead heart. He looked at her, understanding the courage she had had to say this, and he loved her for that.

J: Well Carter, hypothetically speaking, I would do this...

He leaned into her and brushed his lips softly over hers. As the kiss deepened it revealed the passion they had both buried inside and it left no more secrets and no more doubts. Jack forced himself to pull away.

J: I'd then hypothetically ask the Major to be my Lawful wedded wife...

The look he saw on her face filled his heart with joy and love for the woman he stared at. He kissed her once more, both feeling the smile on the others lips.

Sam pulled away abruptly.

S: Please tell me that we can get rid of this "hypothetical" stuff Jack.

J: Oh, I think that's possible. Sweetheart, I love you. Your heart, your mind and your soul, not to mention that delectable body! You are the only person who can melt me with a glance, break down my defences with a smile and you are the only one who can complete me. I love you so much it scares me, I lose control when I'm near you and when you smile I forget to breathe.

Sam couldn't stop the tear from rolling down her cheek, the beauty of his words stunned her. This man needed her, just as she needed him and she had to tell him just how much he meant to her.

S: Jack, I Love you too. Your strength makes me feel indestructible, your courage inspires me. Your humour never fails to make me smile and your depth and sensitivity make me cry. You make me who I am, and you are the only person who can make me who I'll be.

Jack was lost. From the moment she started to speak to the second she stopped. He was lost in the beauty of his Sam. So as ever he used his best weapon...

J: Well then, how about we see just exactly what was under that towel? I mean as the future Mrs/Dr/Major Carter-O'Neill I have a duty to my country to give you a thorough inspection... for security purposes...

S: Security purposes, anything you say.

The End.

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