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The Language of Flowers

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When Sam arrived at her lab that morning, she found a vase of purple hyacinths sitting on her workbench. The tag read 'Dr. Samantha Carter, PhD' in standard computer type, with no signature.

Not that Sam needed a signature to know exactly which arrogant, obnoxious Air Force general had sent them, and if O'Neill thought he could buy her forgiveness with a few flowers, he had another thing coming.

She pulled off the tag and dropped it into the hazardous materials disposal, then made her way through the still-deserted corridors to set the whole vase in the center of the briefing room table.

The flowers were still there when she arrived for the afternoon staff meeting, but O'Neill didn't comment, and neither did she.

The next morning, when Sam got to her lab, she found a bouquet of bright yellow daffodils on her workbench. This time, the tag read 'Narcissus pseudonarcissus'— the plant's scientific name— in familiar, scrawling letters.

She dropped the tag into her waste paper bin and took the flowers to the infirmary.

Janet set the vase on a tall file cabinet and asked where she had gotten them, just as O'Neill walked through the door. Sam smiled but didn't say anything, and neither did he.

On the third morning, Sam found a vase of pink camellias sitting on her workbench.

"And what's this?" asked Catherine Langford, coming into the lab right behind her and spotting the flowers immediately. "A secret admirer?"

"Hardly," snorted Sam, looking for the tag and wondering idly what ridiculous tactic he'd tried this time.

"Well, he says he adores you."

Sam's head shot up. "What!? Where does it say that?"

"That's what the flowers mean," said Catherine. "Pink camellias mean 'I adore you'."

Sam blinked at her, and the older woman smiled warmly.

"Flowers have a language all their own, Sam. When I was a girl, a man didn't just ask a woman out like you do nowadays. He courted her. It was like a dance, with rules and steps. I remember when Ernest and I began seeing each other, he would send me the most beautiful..."

She trailed off, and Sam rested a hand on her arm. Catherine's fiancé had been lost in an early experiment with the Stargate almost fifty years ago, but she still loved him deeply.

"Well," Catherine continued. "Your young man is clearly a romantic."

Sam snorted again. 'Romantic' was the last word she'd use to describe Jack O'Neill. "A few flowers are not getting him off the hook," she said.

"How many has he sent you?" Catherine asked. "What kind?"

Scowling, Sam thumped into her desk chair and started up her computer. "Two bouquets."

"The bouquets that were in the briefing room and the infirmary?" Catherine asked knowingly.

Sam hit the keys on her keyboard rather harder than necessary. "And what do those mean? That he wants to get in my pants?"

Catherine rolled her eyes. "Daffodils mean respect, chivalry and unrequited love. And hyacinths, purple ones, mean... let me think... they mean 'I'm sorry'."

Sam stared at her computer screen. O'Neill couldn't have known what the flowers meant... could he? I'm sorry and I respect you and I adore you...

"Go talk to him, Sam," said Catherine softly.

Five minutes later, she knocked on the general's door. "Dr. Carter," he said, expression carefully neutral. "What can I do for you?"

All of the carefully-worded things she had planned to say vanished from her mind and she blurted, "What exactly are you apologizing for?"

O'Neill blinked at her, but didn't feign ignorance. "I'm apologizing for upsetting you," he said. "But I am not apologizing for calling you hot, because I meant it."

It was Sam's turn to blink at him. "You— you did?"

"Well, yeah."

"Oh."

He came around the desk to stand beside her. "Did you think I was messing with you?" he asked, voice low.

"Well," she began. "You're not exactly the type I usually attract."

"Why the hell not?" he demanded, as though he could not even imagine anyone not finding her attractive, and Sam blushed.

"I don't know what to say," she admitted.

O'Neill grinned. "Say you'll join me for dinner? I hear the commissary has blue Jell-O."

Sam grinned back. "I'd love to."

The next morning when Sam got to her lab, she found a bouquet of pink roses, a single red rosebud and a book titled The Language of Flowers. The tag on the vase said 'Pink roses mean grace; red mean desire. Lunch in the commissary, 12:00? —Jack'.

She tucked the tag behind the frame of the white board where she wrote her equations and moved the vase to where she could see it from her desk, then picked up the book.

She wondered which flower meant let's skip lunch.

THE END