"What do you mean that's not allowed?"
Feet propped on the coffee table, notebook open in his lap as he scrawled across the pages, Jonas Quinn looked up to his friends who stood across the room. Weight shifted to one side, Sam Carter stood with her arms folded across her chest. There was an unmistakable arch to her eyebrows. Opposite her stood Jack O'Neill, hands on his hips. His lips were drawn taut and he watched Carter Sam with a hint of frustration in his eyes which filtered into his voice. He repeated his question. "What do you mean that's not allowed?"
"I mean, this is *my* tree, and I'm *not* putting that gaudy tinsel on my tree."
"It'll add a *sparkle.*" O'Neill gestured enthusiastically with his hands, indicating invisible bursts of sparkle with his fingers. He glanced back at Sam, and even Jonas could read the smile that twitched across his lips. It was an expression Jonas had become familiar with, one that O'Neill used often to diffuse Sam's temper... and it worked. Again.
Blushing, Sam shook her head. Her eyes drifted down to the floor, and her hands came to rest on her hips. When she looked back up at him, her chin remained low and her eyes covered the distance to meet his, deep blue sparkling up into glowing hazel. Her voice was almost a whisper. "A *little*."
"Sweet!" O'Neill cleared the strings of tangled lights in a single leap, landing before the box of decorations.
Grinning, Jonas looked down at his notebook. A chuckle brought his attention once more to O'Neill. The colonel knelt beside the large brown box which Teal'c had extracted from Sam's attic. In his fingers, O'Neill twisted a small twig, marked with thick green leaves and white berries; a bright red ribbon danced as the twig rolled between the colonel's fingers. Jonas furrowed his brow. "What's that?" he asked.
"This," O'Neill began slowly, resting back on his haunches, "is what is commonly known as mistletoe." He raised the specimen for closer inspection.
"Mistletoe? Is it an herb of some kind?"
O'Neill shook his head. "Nope. Matter of fact, it's quite poisonous."
"Then what good is it?"
A lopsided grin slipped across the colonel's lips. His eyes slipped past Jonas to Sam. She busied herself, untangling a long strand of white lights from a longer strand of brightly colored lights. "Oh, it has its uses."
"Don't even think about it." Sam didn't look up from her work.
Jonas watched as O'Neill's grin slipped fully across his face. "Too late."
Sam eyed O'Neill warily. "Colonel..."
Still twirling the mistletoe between his fingers, the colonel leaned to his right, bracing himself with his free hand. He arched his arm and the mistletoe dangled from his hand, swinging in the air above them. "Colonel?"
"Sir..." The lights lowered to the floor.
"Sir?" He regarded her with brows raised.
Sam's blue eyes clouded and she swallowed. "Jack," was the plaintive whisper.
On the sofa, Jonas shifted slightly. He averted his eyes, ostensibly proofing his own work. Out of the corner of his eye, however, he watched as O'Neill leant forward and brushed his lips lightly across Sam's Carter's; the intimacy of the moment was bittersweet at best, and not lost on Jonas. After what seemed an uncomfortable lifetime, he finally heard O'Neill speak. The colonel's voice was rocky, taut with emotion. "All I wanted for Christmas, Carter," he said. "All I needed for Christmas."
"Someone ordered kung pao chicken?"
Jonas, Sam, and O'Neill each gave a start. Turning, they found Teal'c, Janet, and Cassie standing in the doorframe, arms burdened with brown paper bags. From the aroma and grease spots, Jonas guessed they had returned with the promised Chinese food -- payment for helping Carter decorate for Christmas.
He looked to Sam and O'Neill. The spell between them was effectively broken. Rising to meet the others in the kitchen, however, he watched as Sam caught O'Neill by the hand, the others busy filtering into the kitchen. She gave his hand a squeeze, lips twitching into a rueful smile. He returned it, then cleared his throat. "Yeah, well... I never much liked the mistletoe stuff anyway." Rubbing a hand over his matted hair, he looked to Jonas. "So, Jonas... lemme tell you about egg nog...."