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A Bloody War of Attrition

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Sam knew she couldn’t keep relying on the suggestion of food to change the subject with Jonas. And while she liked Jonas, the team felt off-balance without O’Neill.


O’Neill should be bitching about Jonas and his endless facts and his boundless enthusiasm, and then Sam would defend him, and Teal’c would raise the eyebrow of judgment. That was how things were supposed to go.


Instead she’d been stuck investigating a Goa’uld outbreak, spearheaded by the Trust, and nearly got infected by a symbiote, and all without O’Neill or her boyfriend.


Because, really, Sam would have asked for Jim and Blair’s help—they’d been detectives, after all—but Jim was still on medical leave, and she didn’t think it was fair to ask Blair to come with Jim on the bench.


She spotted Jim and Blair across the crowded commissary and felt the smile curve her lips. “You don’t mind if we eat with Major Ellison, do you?”


“No, of course not,” Jonas said immediately. “You two are—dating, I think is the word, right?”


Sam sighed. “Yeah, we’re dating.”


“Is that weird?” Jonas inquired innocently. “Dating someone you work with?”


“Since we’re not on the same team, it’s more nice than weird,” Sam countered. She grabbed her food, opting for the generally palatable Swedish meatballs over the slightly more suspect vegetable lo mein, and made her way through to commissary to plop down in front of Jim. “Hey.”


His face was still bruised, but his smile was genuine. “Hey, you. How was the mission?”


Sam hitched a shoulder. “We were successful.”


Jim raised an eyebrow, a silent question, and Sam appreciated the fact that they knew each other well enough to communicate nonverbally. She gave a quick shake of her head, and he nodded.


That meant the subject had been tabled for now, but not forever.


“Congratulations,” Blair said. “I heard you brought home a nifty spacecraft.”


“Well, it’s at Area 51,” Sam replied. “But yes, that part was pretty great.”


“You would have been a big help in our case,” Jonas said. “You were both police detectives, right?”


Jim’s expression clearly read, “Is this guy for real?”


“Jonas,” Sam groaned. “Major Ellison’s team is on stand down because he was captured and tortured on his last mission.”


Jonas blinked. “Is that why you have those bruises? I thought that with your sparring with Teal’c maybe you were injured in a fight.”


Blair actually slapped a hand over his face, and Jim started laughing. “Teal’c is a little more careful than that,” Jim said. “He knows better to damage my pretty face when he knows how much Sam likes it.”


Sam snorted, caught Blair’s eye, and started giggling.


Jonas looked bewildered. “Well, you’re still a very attractive man even with the bruises.”


Sam closed her eyes to avoid looking at either Jim or Blair, just so she could exert some control. It wasn’t that funny, but she knew the laughter was a safety valve. She was tired and stressed, but she really shouldn’t be laughing at Jonas’ expense.


“Thank you,” Jim replied gravely. “That means a lot to hear.”


When Sam looked up, Blair’s eyes were dancing, but he wasn’t laughing. Sam managed to choke back her giggles with some effort. “He is very pretty,” Sam agreed, her voice strained.


“Was it impolite to say that?” Jonas asked.


“Of course not,” Jim said. “Compliments are always appreciated, Jonas.”


Blair put a hand over his mouth, and Sam closed her eyes briefly, wishing O’Neill were present. He’d be dying.


“Well, thank you for your candor, Major Ellison,” Jonas replied. “I don’t always understand the social niceties.”


“You’re doing fine, man,” Blair managed to say. “It takes time to adjust.”


They kept the conversation light for the rest of lunch, Blair picking Jonas’ brain about Kelowna and Langara and the various cultures.


It was something of a relief to allow Blair to carry the conversation with Jonas, to bear the brunt of his curiosity, because Blair met his curiosity with equal enthusiasm.


Jim tapped Blair’s leg when Sam finished her lunch, and Blair tapped back, and Jim and Sam rose while Blair had Jonas distracted, allowing them to escape.


“That was neatly done,” Sam commented as they left the commissary.


Jim shrugged, then winced. “Well, Blair and I had to go to our fair share of shindigs for the police department. Depending on who drove who crazy, we tended to divide and conquer.”


“Jonas doesn’t drive me crazy,” Sam said quickly.


Jim snorted. “Sam. Pull the other one.”


Sam sighed. “I miss O’Neill.”


“Yeah, I know,” he replied, following her into her lab. “Everything is off balance without him here.”


“Exactly,” she replied. “Plus, it was—I got infected with a Goa’uld during the mission, and O’Neill’s situation is hitting a little too close to home.”


Jim stiffened. “You were infected?”


“For a very short period of time,” Sam assured him. “There was a vaccine, and that prevented the symbiote from taking full control.”


“Is that—will it work for everyone?” Jim pressed, his eyes intense.


Sam suddenly realized why he was asking, knowing that Jim had been threatened with implantation during his last mission. “Just against immature Goa’uld,” she replied. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t extrapolate and create something that works even better.”


Jim shook his head, clearly trying to exert some control over his emotions. “No, I’m sorry. That was—I’m glad you’re okay.” He pauses. “Are you okay?”


Sam swallowed hard. “I don’t know.”


He went and locked the door, and then sat on a stool. “You want a hug?”


“I really do,” she said, and stepped into his arms.


Jim held her tightly, running a soothing hand up and down her back. “You’d come back from that,” he said. “You have before.”


Sam clutched him closer. “So would you. You know I wouldn’t stop working on the problem until you were okay. I wouldn’t.”


“I know,” Jim replied. “Same here.”


He kissed the top of her head, and Sam pressed her lips to the side of his neck, and she felt protected. She felt stronger with him than without.


“I needed this,” Sam admitted, her voice muffled. “I can’t keep distracting Jonas with food, but he really was starting to drive me crazy.”


“Just sic Blair on him,” Jim replied. “He’s good at distraction.”


“I might take you up on that,” Sam replied, and continued to lean into him. With Jim anchoring her, she didn’t feel quite so off-balance. “How are you doing?”


“I’m healing,” Jim replied. “It looks worse than it feels at this point.”


Sam pulled back. “Some scars aren’t obvious from the outside.”


Jim smiled. “Yeah, I’m working on that, too.”


Sam figured that’s all anybody could ask.