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Chapter 1

Colonel Jack O'Neill looked out at the vast expanse of beach and ocean. Statues were in various positions along the sand. They were of fairly typical Goa'uld build. He'd come to expect and dread the Egyptian theme they seemed to dress all their planets in. He slowed his pace a bit and noticed that Teal'c was outdistancing he and Major Carter as she slowed to match his pace. The big guy could take care of himself and O'Neill knew he wouldn't go far.

Feeling hopelessness edge up his spine, Jack tried to push it away. He knew it was the effects of the Goa'uld light room, but he couldn't shake them. Glancing over at his 2IC, he was surprised to find her staring at the ocean, a single tear sliding down her cheek. "What?" he barked, too uncomfortable with his own emotions to feel charitable about seeing them reflected in his 2IC. Besides, Major Samantha Carter didn't cry when she was being tortured by Jaffa, it was unsettling to see her upset.

"I guess the reality that we may never go home is setting in." Her answer surprised him. But it really shouldn't, he reasoned. He was fighting the same feelings. He searched for something to say to reassure her. She meant a lot to him, more than he cared to admit, he didn't like seeing her giving up hope.

"Oh, Hammond'll keep us supplied with everything we'll need until we can figure this out." OK, lame O'Neill, he thought, barely able to keep from wincing at his own words. She dropped her head and turned partially away from him. The sea breeze caught her short blond locks and pushed them against her face. He wanted to reach out and offer her comfort so he shoved his hands into his pockets and looked for something innocent to say.

"It's a nice beach." He tried again, and this time he did wince at his inept tongue. He watched his Major's back tense. Looking closer at the officer beside him, he could see the anger barely concealed on her face. What was that about? His words might be a little lacking in the comfort department, but he couldn't see any reason for her to be mad at him. It wasn't his fault they had gotten stuck on some snake den of iniquity.

Without warning, Carter spun on him so fast that he had to check himself to keep from stepping back. "It'd be a good excuse for you, wouldn't it?" she almost shouted at him. What the hell did she mean by that? Her behavior made no more sense than her words. He'd have bet his eye teeth that Sam Carter didn't have an insubordinate bone in her body. She'd stand up for something she believed in, he had no doubt about that, but not just to be ornery.

Jack studied her for a moment. He really didn't understand. "Huh?" Eloquent as usual O'Neill, he berated himself. What was it about this woman that caused some of the stupidest things to come out of his mouth before he was aware he was speaking?

"To do nothing for a while," she clarified. Her eyes flashed angrily at him but he could see that she was trying to rein in her temper. At least she was making an effort to remember who she was speaking to, but the tone of voice was getting to him as quickly as the confusion. He didn't tolerate insubordination and he hated not understanding what was happening with one of his team.

"What?" Jack questioned again, trying to remain reasonable, but feeling his own aggravation spike up a notch. This woman didn't go off for no reason, it had to be that damn machine.

"Forget it." The disgust in her tone snapped the last bit of hold he had on his irritation. He hadn't earned the eagles on his shoulders by being easy to push around. If she wanted a taste of Colonel O'Neill she was damn well going to get it. His hand snaked out and he spun her around to face him before the thought fully materialized in his brain.

"That would be, ‘Forget it, Sir'," he said, his voice dropping dangerously low. Machine or no, he would not tolerate her pushing him. The chain of command was not there to be ignored because the going got tough and he certainly didn't take challenges to his authority well. She should know that.

"Oh, please-you think I'm keeping that up if we're stuck here forever?" Sam shot back, attempting to pull her arm from his grip. He didn't give an inch. She'd started this little battle and she damn sure wasn't walking away from it until he was done.

"Listen, Major..." he started.

"No way," she shot back interrupting him. She'd stopped trying to pull her arm from his grip, but she hadn't calmed down. Instead she took a step into his space and tilted her head back defiantly. She was breathing hard. He wasn't sure if it was their walk across the beach, her anger or something else. Challenge radiated off of her in waves. Was this how she looked when she fought with someone not in her chain of command? Was this how she looked in a lover's quarrel? He'd never seen her look so wild and sexy. The thought hit him like a runaway train. He felt his body tighten in response, but he didn't back off or allow her to.

If Major Samantha Carter wanted to play at this little game, he wasn't going to be the one to give ground. Jack grabbed her other arm and hauled her across the few inches that separated them. He'd been braced for the impact of her weight against his chest, but he hadn't been prepared for either of their reactions to the contact of her soft flesh pressed against his chest. It left him fighting for control of his body. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew they were both a bit out of control. A voice nagged at him to let go and take a step back, but feeling her pressed against him in challenge, her eyes flashing, her fingers curling into his shirt, Jack's body leap with interest. He fought to keep from pressing his growing erection against her. Damn her for putting them in this position.