Notes and disclaimers: I don't own anything about SG-1. A humongoid THANK YOU to Su for beta-ing this for me and discussing (in DETAIL) facts and opinions that I otherwise wouldn't have known about. You've got to know before reading this fic that it's my first non Lost World (yay!) story and that I've seen about 60 of SG-1 episodes. So any mistakes in here are my own fault because I'm stubborn and probably didn't listen to Su. I have NO clue when this is supposed to be set, because I don't know when Pete came in to the picture in relation to everything else. Anyway, thank you for taking time to read this and I hope you enjoy the story.

TLWROX 2004

What Would They Say?

Jack O'Neill can't take it anymore. For close to eight years he's had to conceal his feelings towards his 2IC. Yes, yes; regs… Stupid, bloody useless regs that have made his life unbearably hard to endure. Every day he's had to work beside her, fight to survive beside her, yell at her, fight for her, choose to live or die to save her. And every day he's reminded that he can't step over that line- that fine line that he's come so close to falling over. He's had to repress all romantic feelings toward one Samantha Carter for one reason alone: she was Major Samantha Carter; Major to his Colonel. Always with the titles. Always with the "Yes Sir's" and "Colonel O'Neill's" and never with simply "Jack".

That's all he's ever wanted from her- to be her Jack; to forget those damn suffocating titles and just be Sam and Jack for one moment in their lives. It wasn't his fault that he had been made commander of SG-1; nor was it his fault that Sam had to also work on SG-1, and certainly not his fault that he had to fall in love with her. He had admitted that fact to himself years ago.

So here he is; standing on Sam's doorstep, trying to gather up his balls and knock on her door at 11pm.

He knows she'll be home. He knows she'll be home alone and awake and he's terrified because that actually doesn't give him a good reason to walk away. He's come this far and he knows that he's never backed down from a sure thing.

But was she a sure thing? Would she actually open the door and invite him in? Would she sit real close to him on the couch or a safe distance apart in an uncomfortable silence while they sipped their beers? Would they talk and laugh and tease for hours or would his uninvited visit be cut short by an excuse that they had an early briefing?

He can't stand here all night in the cold thinking up possibilities- it would give him a headache- something he didn't need on top of the knotted stomach and sweaty palms. Jack raises his fist to the door and raps the start to 'Shave and a Haircut', cutting himself off in the middle when he hears jogging footsteps on the hall.

Her door flies open and she is wearing a tank top and fuzzy pajama bottoms, her feet bare and her hair just a bit mussed.

Sam looks surprised at first, not expecting to see her commanding officer on her doorstep so late at night. She is also a bit embarrassed to be so underdressed; she can feel his gaze waver from her face as he takes in her appearance.

With out being invited in, Jack steps through the threshold causing Sam to retreat farther into her house. He closes the door behind him, never breaking eye contact with her. She opens her mouth to speak, her brows furrowing in question, but he silences her with an opened palm.

Taking his jacket off, he walks to her den, throwing the coat on the back of a chair and flops down on the couch. Sam follows him, confusion still evident on her sleepy features having dozed off on the sofa only moments before. The TV is still on, and Jack picks up the remote, switching through the channels until he finds a program that he likes.

Sam scrunches up her brows a little more, but walks around the couch and flops down at the end, placing her elbow on the armrest. Jack glances over at her, a momentary frown creasing the lines around his mouth. She questions him with her eyes, but he turns back to the TV, leaving her even more confused and worried.

What was he doing here so late and with out an explanation? Usually he always gives an excuse to popping by unexpectedly- most of the time it's a bad excuse, but he gives one none- the- less. His silence makes her wary of his presence- Colonel O'Neill was never one to be taciturn- at least not when it came to unexpected house calls in the middle of the night.

Turning back towards him, Sam finally questions his arrival but all he does is move closer to her on the couch, smiling hesitantly, and turns back towards the TV.

She assumes he is just forlorn and in need of some company- he has been at his cabin all week and it can get pretty bleak up there by himself. She knows that a friendly face is all that he needs to soothe his lonesomeness. Sam shrugs her shoulders in answer to herself and leans back into the sofa, reaching over and placing her hand on Jack's knee in a friendly gesture.

"Friendly gesture". That's all she is ever allowed to show. She wants more than just an occasional pat on the shoulder or brief, empty hug. They have lived through so many traumatic and potentially fatal occurrences and when they barely come out alive; they give each other a brief once- over and act like it was as easy as pie. That living through something so horrific doesn't deserve any consolation. If Jack- or Sam for that matter- can be truthful, they'd say that every time they came out on top, they would like to be able to grab each other in a big bear hug and not let go until their hearts stopped pounding. They never stop to realize how dangerous their lives are- how on any given mission, it is possible that they will not return. Why can't they just act like real people and comfort each other when times get hard? Why, whenever they get one of their team members back, can they not hug them for dear life instead of a friendly "Are you ok?"?

Just once, Jack and Sam would like to be able to simply hold each other and thank whoever was looking out for them that they'd survived.

Jack looks at Sam. Sam looks at Jack. They smile knowingly at each other and just as if they had been thinking the same exact thought at the same exact time, they wrap their arms around each other and lay back on the couch.

No words are needed. Jack strokes Sam's hair, kissing the top of her head as it rests on his chest. She holds the lapel of his shirt between her fingers, rubbing the fabric as she buries her nose against his heart, kissing him there, thanking him for coming tonight; knowing that she's needed this for a long time.

Jack traces the edge of Sam's ear, holding her lobe between his thumb and forefinger, loving that it's as soft as it looks. He always finds himself gazing at her ears when she goes on and on during the morning briefings. Those are hard times to be able to keep himself in check.

She takes her hand down from his chest and wraps it around his waist, holding his ribcage in her hand, running it up and down his side. Sam smiles when he jerks suddenly; her roaming hand has hit a particularly sensitive area. She lifts her head to look at him, and seeing the longing that is mirrored in her own eyes; she raises herself to her feet, and holds out her hand to him.

Jack looks at her hand. He thinks over all of the rules and regulations that are written, it seems- just for them. Then he looks into Sam's eyes and knows that he will never again be able to abide by the laws that have kept them apart for so long.

For years they couldn't so much as touch each other in an unprofessional manner. Times when they need that contact, need the assurance that they have someone looking out for them; someone that they love.

She almost thinks that he is going to turn down her silent invitation. She almost feels mortified that she has crossed the line and will never be able to look at him again. Then, he takes her hand and stands up, bringing her knuckles to his lips as he wraps his arm around her waist and kisses her fingers gently. Sam turns an appealing shade of pink, the blush creeping from her chest up her neck and sprinkles over her cheeks. He thinks it looks adorable and wants to be able to do that to her every day from now on. Jack lets go of her hand and with his forefinger, touches her cheek, brushing his fingers over the rosiness, tracing it. He then traces around her deep azure eyes, down the bridge of her nose, around her mouth till he rests his thumb over her lips, brushing the underside of her chin.

She kisses his thumb, closing her eyes, loving that there are no cameras here; no harsh regulations, no one to kick down the door and separate them. They are finally going to, after all these years, throw caution to the wind and show what they feel towards each other.

Sam reaches around and grabs the hand that is on her lower back and leads Jack to her bedroom. Both can't believe what is happening. They can't believe that they are actually going to disobey strict military laws and start a relationship.

A relationship? Are they really going to start a relationship? What about SG-1? What about their ranks and the Stargate program? What about his house at the lake and his problems? What about Sam's father, and this new thing with Pete, and what would General Hammond say? Not to mention Janet! How are they ever going to have something when every day they are fighting for their lives against some alien race? How will they be able to step back if they have to sacrifice the other to save everyone else?

Jack can see it in Sam's eyes as he follows her onto the bed. Suddenly, her long awaited invitation starts to seem like a bad idea. She sits with her head against the backboard, these questions in her brain clouding over her features, making her frown momentarily, worry and guilt and apprehension bleeding into her brain as she weighs the options. She knows she always thinks too much- mixing her scientific reasoning with her feelings and she hates herself for it. She wishes she could be more like Jack; he goes with his heart and his head almost always agrees.

He can see the gears turning in her mind, even as he leans over her and places a tender kiss to her cheek, then rests his head on her chest, listening to her heart beat incessantly. Sam doesn't think she can sacrifice everything for this. For this- thing- they have that seems so right. What if it doesn't work out? How would they be able to keep working on the Stargate program? What if one of them- heaven forbid- should die during battle? How would they go on?

Jack can feel Sam's forbearing body tighten as her mind thinks up every awful possibility. He raises himself up on one elbow and gazes into her face, brushing it over with his hand, trying to smooth over the creases in her forehead, the worry lines around her mouth.

"I love you."

As clichéd as Jack thinks it sounds- how often it is used to fix every tiny problem in a couple's life, he feels like it is the only thing he is able to say. No matter what words of comfort float through his head, what consoling lines he tries to piece together, that is all that comes out of him. That is all he came here to say tonight and that is all he will let himself say.

Sam just looks at him- not with shock or surprise, for she has known for a long time that it is what they both feel.

She smiles at him then, and looks down at the hand that is placed over her stomach. Her own hand closes down over his and suddenly, everything seems like it is going to be ok.

Sam settles herself down on the bed, bringing Jack down with her, holding his head above her own and places a gentle kiss to his lips before pulling it down to rest on her chest once more.

She loves the way his head feels between her breasts. She loves the way he grazes her shoulder with his knuckles, playing with the strap of her tank top. She loves how his hair smells and how he breathes low in his chest and she can feel his eyebrows tickle against her skin and it all seems perfect.

Jack is sure that he has done the right thing tonight. That these years of dancing around each other have all led up to this one moment and he is glad that she did not turn him away. No more games to play; no more excuses as to why she can't come to his lake house. No more lying to themselves and each other. He knows that this is it.

They stay like that for hours, content in each other's embrace, but she knows that they will have to forget tomorrow what they've learned tonight.