"Always ready with a snappy comeback, aren't you, Colonel?"
"Brings a certain consistency to life, Carter." Cocking his head to one side, he favored his 2IC with one of his patented shit-eating grins, then gestured toward the DHD. "Dial us home, Danny."
Even as he watched the event horizon stabilize, Jack O'Neill knew Carter wasn't done with him just yet. Facing the 'gate, the two officers watched Daniel and Teal’C step through. Gallantly, Jack motioned for Sam to precede him. He caught the twitch of a smile on her lips before she stepped up to the 'gate.
"I love you, Jack."
Jumping into the 'gate, she didn't see the look of astonishment on his face, nor did she need to; she knew damned well that those four softly uttered words had thrown Colonel Jack O'Neill for a complete and utter loop, one he wasn't soon to recover from; she wondered what his reaction would be, both once they cleared the 'gate and once he had a chance to get her alone and off the base; she only hoped it would be a positive reaction, and not one that could get her kicked off the project or court-martialed for her smart-assed comment. Kindness, she hoped he'd treat her with kindness, whatever reaction he had.
Landing on the other side, she made her way down the ramp to join her teammates, waiting for their CO. Many thoughts ran through her head about his reaction. Now she wished she'd stayed to see it. **Oh well,** she thought, **I'll know soon enough.**
"Pretty sweet planet, General," came O'Neill's comment as he stepped through the 'gate, the event horizon closing behind him. "Quite a dull mission, if you ask me."
"Report to the infirmary, SG-1. Standard one hour till debriefing."
The quartet moved toward the infirmary in typical fashion, and Sam thought perhaps she'd be spared. Until....
"Very funny, Carter," Jack murmured at her. "What kind of crack was that?"
"X-rays for everyone this time," Janet Frasier said as the team entered the infirmary.
"You think it was a crack?"
"Zelda Rubenstein is funnier," Jack quipped at Sam.
"You'll pay for that, Carter," he growled, rubbing his ear where the rubber band had struck.
"What are you talking about, Sir?" she asked sweetly.
"Very funny," he repeated. Under Frasier's scrutiny, he moved into an exam room and lay down. Trying to forget the physical he hated, Jack thought about what Sam had said before she'd jumped. So, did she really mean it?
**Reality check, Jack, old boy,** he thought to himself. **Quite a fantasy you've got going there about her. Probably just some joke she's playing on you, getting you back for all the smart-assed things you've said to her,** he rationalized, secretly hoping she'd been serious in her words; he certainly would love to be certain that she had feelings for him beyond friendship, and if she loved him, that would be even better; he had to admit that he felt very strongly for the woman who'd proven her capabilities on more than one occasion, on- and off-world; in fact, it was her very capabilities that first impressed him enough to look beyond the officer to the woman inside.
"O'Neill, you're lagging on your x-rays," came Frasier's voice from the other side of the curtain.
"Need some help getting into the gown, Sir?" came Sam's amused reply from his other side.
"Mind your own business there, Carter. Let an old man get into a see-my-butt gown with a little dignity, okay?"
"'Kay," she replied. "Just making sure you're still with us and not still back on the planet."
**I'm going to kill her for that one.** He moved to get his x-rays, passing by his 2IC in the process. "Gonna come over for poker tonight, Carter?"
"For sure, Colonel," she called back. "Every one of you men owes me money from last week, which I intend to collect in addition to the money you're going to give me tonight."
"Don't bet on it, Sam," came Frasier's amused response.
Carter poked her head out of the screen, looking at O'Neill as he passed by her again. Beckoning him closer, she murmured in his ear, "I was serious about what I said back on the planet, Jack."
"And I was supposed to believe otherwise, Sammy?" he replied just as softly, quickly pecking her cheek before going to finish his exam.