Summary: 200 10x06 tag Prompt: Slightly worn but dignified and not too old for sex
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: I ain't got no money, and nobody'd be daft enough to pay me for this. As it is thought, so let it be said; you make the toys, I play with 'em.

AN: stole the prompt from the Shep-a-thon.. forgive me anuna?
Yes, I'm taking a few liberties with the ep.. what? like they didn't take liberties with the verse in making the ep?
ABBA - When All Is Said and Done

Sam walked with the general toward the lockerroom, not trying to analyze why she'd automatically followed him instead of the rest of her team taking the commissary route.

She finally broke the semi-comfortable silence with an idle tone, "What were you really doing in California?"

Jack shrugged casually, "Long layover. Visiting Pacific Command to settle some ruffled feathers," he rolled his eyes and gave her a pitiful look, "Who started the rumour that I'm good at settling feathers?"

Sam smiled gently, seeing the tiredness he half-heartedly tried to hide, "We all have you on a pedestal, sir."

She wasn't sure how to interpret the quick glance he threw her then. "Sir?" She put a hand on his arm and stopped him. He'd looked almost.. wounded. "I was kidding. You know that, right?"

She wished he'd really look at her instead of just shrugging and staring over her shoulder blankly like that, "Sure Carter. Who wouldn't want to be on a pedestal, anyway?"

Sam's breath caught, thinking of years when everyone had just assumed she could save them and the stress had made her feel suffocated. Had they, *she*, been doing that to Jack? The eyes he'd finally trained on hers were blandly questioning her stillness but she couldn't stop staring, wondering how long it had been since she'd really *seen* her friend rather than that protective mask. Hearing steps coming toward them, she jerked slightly, blinking herself out of the daze. The general turned as though to continue on their way but she wasn't ready to continue being blind.

Sam looked around quickly and then, still holding Jack's arm, she pulled him toward the nearest supply closet, mentally setting herself a timer for how long they could waste before they'd be late for the mission.

"Carter?" He wasn't fighting her tug; sounded amused more than worried, but she kept a solid grip on him as she swiped her card to open the door and then pushed him inside before closing them in. He stood there willingly enough as she found the light switch and turned on the weak, shoddy fixture, then teased with a tone she'd missed hearing on a regular basis, "You realize what everyone will think if they see us coming out of a supply closet?"

He was genuinely grinning when she looked up, and for that alone, Sam was glad she'd done it. It had been even longer since he'd looked happy than since he'd let her see *him*. "Jack," she refused to hesitate when his gaze sharpened at the name, "We- *I* never meant to do that to you."

The silence between them wasn't anywhere as comfortable as it had once been, not even as reassuring as it has been when they'd started keeping their distance after the zatarc incident. This edge of formality, she suddenly realized, dated to her damned engagement. Even at his cabin.. he'd never let her close. Sam looked away, momentarily forgetting where she was, let along who with. Daniel so different after his repeated ascensions, Teal'c's attention focusing on his people; she hadn't even questioned Jack's reserve! Busy dealing with her life getting scrambled out of recognition, she hadn't even tried to see past 'the general'. For more than a year! Damn. Damndamndamn.

"Sam?" She jumped when his hand closed on her shoulder and he interrupted her thoughts softly.

Turning her eyes back to him, Sam really looked for once. *Really* looked. He'd stepped into her personal space to get through to her and was close enough that his eyes were the first thing she focused on. Shuttered even with the concern in them; almost impersonal compared to the automatic connection she remembered sharing with this man -even when they'd been brain-washed strangers! The line between his brows hadn't changed; the same, somehow endearing, scar over his left eye.

The wear of years and his new life were showing though; his cheekbones were padded, like his squared-off jaw, skin a bureaucrat's pale shade rather than the soldier's tan he'd had for years. His hair almost all white now. And then too, once upon a time he would have been smirking teasingly at her for staring at him like this. Now, he waited wordlessly, that grin he'd had just a minute ago long gone under an intelligent, watchful cover he used to take pains to hide the existence of.

There was still the old power in his arms, in the elegant fingers ringing her bicep gently; he stood as straight in his hated dress blues as he ever did in BDUs. He was still very much the man she'd fallen for so long ago, more dignified, less cocky, but still the man she would choose to have besides her in times of trouble; if she were selfish enough to force him into a situation that would push his body's limits now.

And yet.. how had their abandoning each other eased his life? He wasn't being shot at, didn't have to run his knees into agony, didn't get tortured on a regular basis, but she wondered how often he wished for those days back compared to the dangers he now dealt with. With backstabbing, penny-pinching politicians; no backup, and days full of hated meetings.

"I'm sorry." She wasn't sure what precise action she was apologizing for, but she knew she'd done something wrong at some point; they'd left a man behind.

She watched his brows jerk, pleased when the shutters seemed to rise and some of that old O'Neill humour shifted his expression into an older, happier one, "Carter, whatever you're apologizing for, I'm pretty damned positive you don't need to."

"Yes, I do. I know just how untenable pedestals are. I can't believe I went and did that-" Her eyes widened when Jack pressed a finger across her lips. He had to have felt the way her breath stuttered; but then she saw him react too. And be either too surprised at himself to hide it; or else he didn't want to.

Ignoring his new attention on her lips as though it wasn't important, he watched her consideringly as he spoke, once again making her realize how much of the diplomat he'd become, "I take it I owe *you* an apology then." She shrugged silently, her arm moving under his hand in a fake caress. She'd made her peace with her role; it was still stressful, but she accepted her fate. He nodded acceptance of her response, a little humour lightening his eyes as he drawled, "Okay. And why the staring?"

She shrugged again, answering quietly but honestly, still reeling from realizing everything she'd missed and just how deeply she'd fooled herself into turning her back on friendship, "Because I haven't stared enough in the last few years."

He blinked in surprise, then pulled back, stepping out of her personal space as the impersonal mask dropped over him again. "Ah. Yes, well, time *does* pass. You're the astrophysicist, Carter, you should know that." His shoulders twitched in a shrug as he looked away from her surprised expression, his hands finding a pen on a shelf to start fiddling with, "Anyway, I can handle the white hair well enough these days, but if you find out Vala was putting me in the role of father to her bride or some equally depressing thing, would you mind-"

Sam's hand flew up to grab his collar before he got any further, glaring in annoyance. That he would even *think* that.. that.. that-! Damned, infuriating- She just caught sight of his eyes widening in shock before she gave in to the attraction she refused to ever deny again and closed the distance between them, crushing his mouth under hers and taking full advantage of his parted lips to slide her tongue between them. She hadn't planned this; even when she'd grabbed him a second ago, it had been to shake sense into him. And before that, there had been no plan beyond a vague wish to recapture an old friendship.

*This* wasn't an old feeling. Goading him into kissing her back as she kept an iron grip on his shirt with one hand, the other on the back of his head. There had hardly been a second between sliding her tongue along his and feeling his hands land on her ass and pull her into his crotch, but she wasn't taking chances. Even when he returned the possessive exploration and moaned as she suckled him, stroking and losing herself in the mutual need, she held him firmly, her only concession to his participation to slide her hand from his collar to his jaw. Her thumb played with the corner of his mouth, feeling prickles of hair tantalize her skin where his razor had missed, shifting her mouth to lick at his sweetly tender inner lip, as thoroughly aroused by the soft flesh as by the subterranean growl that vibrated against her chest as the fingers on her butt dug in and raised her. Her hold on his head meant nothing as Jack's solid body twisted and pressed her into the one uncluttered wall, her breasts crushed as he jerked against her pelvis, his kiss pushing her into the wall with nowhere to go.

The only thing that snapped them out of the fireball of desire was the too-sharp pleasures of aroused penis on throbbing clit; dress blues and BDUs no shield to pressure. Jack pulled his head back, staring at her wide-eyed as he panted. His hands still held her shuddering body against proof-positive that he still wanted her after all these years; hers framed his face and she stared back, just as shocked, just as breathless.

"Wow."

Sam tried to giggle at his whisper, melting for the boyish wonder in his eyes, then happened to remember what had started the wild kiss and changed her grip so he couldn't escape, glaring as she hissed. "I *missed* being able to stare at the *man* I've loved for damn near 8 years." She didn't let up her grip or her glare as he froze. If she did, she knew very well that Jack would pull back again, protecting himself or his idea of her, or whatever, and she wasn't willing to let this feeling go. Whatever he'd once felt for her was still there, in the arms that had gripped her, in the passion that had exploded in their kiss. In the almost desperate light in his eyes even now. She gentled her grip, sliding her hands to the back of his head, holding him tenderly. Gentling her voice too, "There'll never be enough *time* for me not to want you. And the only wedding I'm letting you in is the one where you are the damned *groom*."

She wasn't sure if he didn't believe her, or if he just didn't know what to do, but he stayed unmoving. Holding her tightly and staring at her as though she was about to die in front of his helpless eyes; but unmoving. If she hadn't had so many years to get to know him and his ways of *dealing*, she'd almost certainly have panicked at exposing herself so much. As it was, Sam finally smiled, her internal chronometer beeping that they were going to be late. "Jack? How about we get you off this pedestal?" she tugged at the jacket he wore, "Get you in a more useful outfit?" Maybe the two of them side by side in field-gear would kick-start him -and her too- into acting like their old selves again.

Her voice seemed to jerk him awake and he started to relax, a grin growing slowly at his lips until it covered half his face and Sam almost stepped back with a salute at how much he reminded her of her colonel with that expression, the years disappearing as his un-shuttered eyes pulled her attention and locked it into the man that had been hiding inside. Only she couldn't remember her colonel ever sounding so awed, "You love me?"

She nodded silently, smiling just as wide and he bent his head, lips just over hers, whispering teasingly as his body pressed her into the wall again, "Not too old for sex?