Colonel Jack O'Neill rushed in Daniel's office. Daniel look up at him from his computer desk and sighed.
"Won't you ever learn to knock, Jack?" he exclaimed.
Jack knocked. "Happy?" he exclaimed.
"Not now, before stepping in!"
"For crying out loud! You really think that it is the right time for those little ethical lessons of yours? It's getting old Daniel!" Jack protested.
Daniel frowned and pushed back his glasses up his nose. He sighed again."So?" he said.
"I must consider that you came here to ask me something or at least to tell me about something," the archaeologist proposed. "What is it? What's the big rush?"
"Well, it's hard to explain," Jack said, falling on the next chair.
"I have no other choice." Jack winced and let his arms rest on his thighs. He put his head in his hands and mumbled between his fingers.
"You're not assuming that I can hear you, are you?"
"Sorry. I don't know where to start."
"Take your time. It's not as if I have anything to do Jack."
"Don't go there Daniel or I will lose the point."
"Oh… you will?" Daniel said jokingly. "I was going to have some tea. Would you like some?"
"No thanks. Do you know if Teal'c is around?" Jack asked. "I was kinda looking for him in the first place," he said while starting playing with a stapler.
"Then I'm your second choice? I bet that Sam will be the third? Am I right?" Daniel answered taking the stapler from him.
"Nope smart ass. All the fuzz is precisely about Carter."
He stood up and began pacing, hands shoved in his pockets.
"It's Tuesday already!" he hissed.
"I see. It explains it all."
"Sorry. Go ahead."
"Well it is Tuesday, February 12th…"
"Could you be more specific Jack? Unless that's all you're getting at…"
"Can't you see it will be Valentine's Day next Tuesday? I have no idea how to invite Carter out, or even how to send her a bouquet of flowers. There must be a way though," he sighed.
"What's the big deal Jack? Just make the bouquet delivered to her place! Unless you want the poor guy to spend the whole day inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex trying to explain he must deliver it to major Samantha Carter, who works for a deep radar telemetry program which doesn't exist anyway. In your military world, without the right security clearance, it is mission impossible."
"The problem is that we won't be off world on Tuesday. And I was sorta hoping that you guys could give me a hand there."
"Remember when you drew straws to decide who will go and see me home when I resigned on account of that Tollan-Nox-Asgard black ops thing, way back?"
"Yes. I recall. But I fail to see any connection with Valentine's Day…"
"There is not!" a very frustrated Jack exclaimed. "Just the straw part."
"You're crystal clear today Jack."
"That's why I was looking for Teal'c."
"Of course! I should have known!"
"Are you making fun of me Daniel?"
"No, no way!"
"You know that Teal'c practised for more than a year to put together a magic act for last Christmas party?" Jack asked.
"Everybody at the SGC knows that Jack! He's been raising rabbits in his quarters for almost two years now!"
"OK. So," Jack slowed his pace, "do you think he could perform that straw act for me?"
"The straw act? Sorry Jack, but you're not making any sense!"
"Like he did when you got the shortest straw and had to visit me at my place," Jack stated.
"Oh… you're sure he cheated?"
"Not a hundred percent. But yes, I'm pretty confident he did."
"You, errr… you're probably right. I should have… huh… known better," whispered Daniel, frowning. "Well, why don't you ask him anyway?" he added.
"Because I can't find him! I told you that already," Jack said, waving his arms frantically. "And because I'm leaving and won't be here tomorrow. I have this meeting in Washington."
"You'll ask him on Thursday then," Daniel concluded.
"Thursday's too late…" Jack sighed. "Let me explain," he said.
"As you were!" major general Hammond snapped entering the briefing room.
Teal'c bowed, Daniel set his files and folders aside and a troubled major Carter straightened. Hammond sat heavily.
"Anyone may tell me what keeps colonel O'Neill from attending this meeting?" he said bluntly. He crossed his fingers and stared at Sam. "Has he been back from Washington? Major Carter?"
"I wouldn't say, sir. I haven't seen colonel O'Neill since Monday."
"Well SG1, I postpone this briefing until you get your hands on the colonel," the general said. "I bet he's still in DC," he whispered for himself. "Let me know ASAP," he added standing up.
"I will call him right away sir!" said Sam. She looked concerned. She winced to Daniel and he winced back.
"I don't know," his lips shaped the words without uttering a sound.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow and nodded negatively. "We should attempt to reach O'Neill on the phone. He is still most likely in Washington."
"Would you do it for me Teal'c?" Sam asked. "I have plenty of work and I could use some extra time."
"I will, major Carter," Teal'c answered. He was slightly smiling.
Why did she ask Teal'c to call him in the first place? And why did they use that straw thing again? She knew that he would cheat again. After all, she was the one who asked him to cheat, last year. Only fair, she thought, pulling over in O'Neill's driveway. No truck. He was definitely in DC, she cursed, and she was losing her time. She put her helmet on the motorcycle and took a sneak peak at the backyard. Brr… Pretty cold today, again. Cautiously, she walked on frozen snow to the front door and stopped under the porch. Her eyes fell down to a two dozen red rose bouquet. On top of it, there was a pink envelope, with a hand written mention: "Major Samantha Carter" "What the…" she whispered and took it. She looked around and put her finger on the doorbell while trying to get the card out of the envelope with her teeth. As she expected, no one came to the door. She glanced inside, her hand over her eyes to protect the window from the blinding reflection of the snow. She finally managed to take the card out and read.
Would you meet me at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings for a late breakfast or an early lunch? I'll be waiting for you. Jack
That was the cherry on the cake! How dare he?! Snapping his fingers right at her. He must have been really confident she would come to his place to begin with. He probably settled things down with Teal'c and Daniel before leaving for DC. Hammond? Nope, not a chance.
"Ego centred son of a…" she cursed between her lips.
She took a look at her watch. Almost 10:00. Hell! She lost already half her morning work tracking O'Neill, she could use the time left until noon to get his record straight once
and for all. It was perfectly understood that the zatarc incident was to be kept in that test room. Janet was so right. She told her only yesterday that he would take advantage of Valentine's Day to give another try. He doesn't respect our arrangement, she thought, kneeling down by the door. She took out a Swiss army knife from her pocket and severed one rose from the bouquet. She buried briefly her nose in the flower then headed back to her motorcycle. She shuddered, shoved the rose inside her pocket and proceeded to get to the Dwellings by Highway 24.
By the time she got there, the sandrocks were sparkling under the winter sun. Ochers, bright and yellow. She was caught in the magic of Anasasi architecture and in the stunning scenery.
That was before she spotted O'Neill's truck. Instantly she was submerged by a flow of anger.
"Carter," he waved at her, "that's about time! What took you so long for crying out loud! I'm starving," he winced.
For a split second, she was startled, but she regained her composure and walked straight to him, outraged.
"Would you mind if we take a stroll, first, Sir?" she said dryly.
"I'm fine, thank you Carter. You sure? I was voting for a cappuccino myself," Jack started jokingly before seeing the flash of anger in her eyes, "but a stroll will be nice," he answered hastily.
He retrieved a brown bag from the chair next to him and followed her to the looking tower. She rapidly combed her hair back with her hand and stared at him, infuriated.
"How dare you?" she snapped. "Is this your idea of a joke? Or am I supposed to leave everything to have a cup of coffee with you in the middle of nowhere?" she added.
"Why should I do that sir? Is there any kind of emergency? Are you in any current danger? Or is it simply in order to fulfil your romantic desire of having a semblance of relationship going on for Valentine's Day?" she shouted at him.
"Wow, wow, Carter. Calm down. I take it that you're still mad at me 'cause I kissed you in that time loop," he said, his voice low, looking around to make sure that none of the few tourists were interested in his fight with that pretty woman in fatigues. "But you didn't seem to find it that bad at the time," he said stepping away from Sam.
She somehow seemed to be marvelled by her shoes and took a deep breath, her foot playing back and forth in the sand. "Let us say you never said that Sir," she hissed. "I assumed that we had an agreement but you always seem to infringe it, don't you?"
"Look Carter, I'm sorry. I only wanted to have a special moment with you outside the base. I guess I was wrong. I have no right to ask you anything nor to offer you anything," he added. "Here's for you anyway," he said handing the brown bag to Sam. He shrugged. "I got it for you in Washington, go ahead, it won't bite."
"I can't sir," she said stubbornly, avoiding his gaze.
"Carter! Would you please stop it! Aren't we friends at least? Life is too short for that kind of stuff. I want to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I want to watch a child and be happy. I want to fall in love again. I want to have that perfect morning break with my friend, would you mind?" he said raising his voice.
They were almost up the tower. She turned around to conceal a grin. That man knew exactly what to do to make her fall head over heels, she thought. She looked away in the distance. What a peaceful morning. He was right. She was her friend.
"OK," she smiled at him. "I give up."
She took the bag from him.
"Don't I get a kiss?" Jack asked.
"Don't push your luck!" she smiled again.
He smiled back and shoved his hands deep inside his pockets. She opened the bag and saw a stuffed toy inside.
"What is it? A cat?"
She took the toy out and faced a perfect replica of Thor. Only softer. She hugged the toy and gave Jack one of her bright smiles.
"Don't I get a kiss now?" Jack said.
She waved the toy at him.
"OK, OK, just kidding! What if we put your motorcycle in my truck and go to your place for coffee instead?"
"I… I would…" she faltered.
"Or my place?" he pushed. "It won't be the first time that you sleep over. We could rent 'A Love Affair'. I'm sure that you would cry as much as when we watched 'It's A Beautiful Life' together at Christmas for the umpteenth time."
"But sir, it's not even lunch time!" she exclaimed.
"I mean you could sleep over. In the meantime, we could do everything I want… you want," he shrugged with an evil grin. "I'll manage to arrange things with Hammond for today. It's not like we're having any off world trek scheduled. The day is young and you need a leave from the base anyway. And I am your CO… you're not discussing a direct order Carter!?" he winced. "What do you think?"
"I was planning to study the decay of naq…" Sam said, weakening.
"On Valentine's Day? No way if I have anything to do about it!"
"Still fancy a stroll sir?"
"Only for a kiss then. You see my back is aching and my knee is not…" he stopped, his mouth captive under hers. She threw her arms around his neck and Thor bounced against his shoulder. He kissed her back oblivious of their rank and agreement.
"Stop acting like a teenager, Jack," she whispered in his ear, "if you still want me to be your Valentine."