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She delivered the lines with gravitas and a reasonably straight face.

"And just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside doesn't mean I can't handle anything you can handle."

Straight but not too straight. She didn't want them to think her humorless. But she didn't want to let them, let him, walk all over her either. That was a bad precedent to set. He was a superior officer, her commanding officer, but that didn't mean she had to take shit off him.

Maybe he wasn't completely on board with a female on his team - or, if he was to be believed, a scientist - but she didn't think he was going to be a problem. The utterly charming, if not disarming, smile he'd flashed her as he'd manipulated a pen between long, distracting fingers, wasn't quite enough to make her take a deep, cleansing breath. It was, however, enough to allow her to guess he might not be prone to giving her any shit that wasn't good-natured.

All that, though, didn't make it any easier to accept what she'd said as she replayed the conversation in her head. Had she honestly offered to arm-wrestle him? She was afraid she had. He wasn't the first man, nor were the entire team the first group of men, to under-estimate her while also pigeon-holing her. Men had some basic misconceptions about smart, driven women. Like the momentary assumption she'd seen flash across Kawalsky's face - the one that screamed he was positive she didn't like men.

She grinned to herself. If the colonel liked women, then she most certainly liked men. Of course, if she'd used that tone of voice to say so, she'd have been immediately sexualized and labeled. Then again, that was what she'd done to Colonel O'Neill. He'd practically poured that line on the table in front of her, a smooth, sticky substance she felt a strong urge to wriggle in.

She'd never taken a second look at a superior officer, so it was more than a little disconcerting this one made her want to push him up against a wall and show him exactly how adept she was at breaking the laws of physics. It could have been the irreverent smirk, or the obviously manufactured laissez-faire attitude, but something about the way he presented made her want to watch him tighten up. She was positive there was a little edgy-darkness hidden away inside that spit-and-polish. The laid-back affectation didn't fool her.

He was older. But for her, older was always an attractive quality. Thousands of dollars and several shrinks later, she had a wholly unsatisfying reason for such an attraction. She tried pretty hard to put it - and her last relationship that was colored by it - out of her mind. What had happened with Jonas was specific to Jonas and had nothing to do with her underlying attraction to older men, irrespective of the fact he was, indeed, an older man.

As she shoved Jonas as far out of her mind as she could manage, she found herself making more room for the mental images of her CO she shouldn't be having. She'd always known she had a vivid and active imagination, but really, the images her mind was producing were visceral enough to elicit pronounced physical reactions.

~*~

There was something different about the compelling young captain. She had a sharp edge to her beneath that sweet, if defiant, smile. He thought it had something to do with coming up through the military dealing with guys like, well, him. He figured he'd have had the same sort of reaction if a CO had come at him the way he'd come at her.

He hadn't checked the smile that wanted to erupt when she offered to arm wrestle him. And It had taken all his years of military reserve to keep from guffawing when she'd made that crack about reproductive organs. She was sharp, witty, and apparently brainy enough that he found he was captivated despite her youth.

He'd never been one of those guys whose attractions had gotten younger as he'd gotten older. He'd married a little later than most of the guys he knew, and Sara had turned thirty almost eleven months before he had. He hadn't picked from the tree of youth the first time and he found, in the short year since his marriage had imploded after the death of his son, his eye, when it strayed - and it did stray - tended towards women with a little experience around the eyes.

But Sam Carter was a whole different situation. And that situation was undeniably intriguing.

She was his type - tall, slim, blonde, sassy and smart. Though, he was fairly certain he'd never actually met anyone as smart as her. She likely out-classed Daniel and the guy had been, well, a kind of smart Jack hadn't fully appreciated at the time.

In all Jack's years in the military, in those years before he'd married, he'd never seriously considered what it would be like to take a particular subordinate officer to bed. But since the moment she'd wondered if she was tough enough for him, he'd found himself wondering the very same thing. A part of himself he'd always held back, even from his wife, was a little darker, a little sharper, a little more demanding than was generally considered acceptable.

He thought he could have met his match. And what a damn shame it was she was out of his reach. Because he was a lot of things, but bad wasn't one of them. He wouldn't do anything to jeopardize her sure to be exemplary career.

Everything inside him was screaming at him to make a pass at her. Something about the glint in her eye gave him the impression she wouldn't have said no - and not because there was pressure to perform to her CO's specification. No, he was certain what he'd seen cross her face had been genuine intrigue.

That only made it harder to do the right thing. But he would do the right thing. Because that was who he was. Of course, his definition of right didn't always match up with that of his superior officers. But still, he was always able to draw a line in the sand and stand on the side labeled morality - even with all the bad he'd done in his life, he'd always done what was right, even if he had to chalk it up to the greater good. Right decisions were often hard, and often messy. Which was why it was so familiar to put her in the "do not touch" column.

She might be everything he'd always been looking for, but he'd never have a chance to know for sure.

~*~

The things she'd learned about him on the mission to Abydos that had ultimately taken them to Chulak did little to dispel the notion she wanted him. Beyond physical attraction an actual emotional reaction was taking place inside her. It was like was a neon sign flashed above his head: "this is one of the good ones".

She didn't, not for one moment, believe he'd be light and easy. She was sure there would be layers inside him that would bend her to the point just before breaking. And that was intriguing.

She would not say or do anything that would illustrate to him, or anyone they served with, her interest in knowing him better, in knowing him biblically. And she would not, absolutely would not, let the ember that had ignited inside her grow into a flame that would consume her.

~*~

Her mettle, and her greenness, had been highlighted by their mission. Her mettle made him want her more - want him in the way he'd always wanted to want. Her greenness, on the other hand, made him want to get to know her and that was a far more frightening undertaking. She was smart and strong, and there wasn't a doubt in his mind she was going to be a fantastic addition to the program. But damn, if she didn't have those wide blue eyes that made everything seem just a little bigger, a little more daunting.

He wondered what she'd be like in a few years, wondered if he'd still want her or if the time that passed would ease the heavy pull of desire. It probably would; it usually did. Feelings of this magnitude didn't burn on for long. They were short-lived things, because feeling something so strongly for that long would tear you up inside.

She represented a quality he'd previously thought unattainable. And while it was difficult to imagine such qualities could be reproduced, he'd been around long enough to know they frequently could. So he'd hold himself back. And he would not, absolutely would not, give into the pull to find out if she was everything he hoped she was.

Anyway, he was afraid he already knew.