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Catch and Release

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It had been over a week since they'd gated to P3X-234 from Thor's ship, just minutes before being eaten alive by Replicators and crashing into the Pacific Ocean, in no particular order.  Since then, they'd been waiting patiently for the SGC to get the second Stargate transferred to  Cheyenne Mountain, trying each day to dial Earth with no success.  Still, they were optimistic that it was just a matter of time before Hammond would have the other 'gate up and running. 

Teal’c had lasted exactly two days on the planet before deciding that he might as well use the down time to visit his family on Chulak as originally planned.  Yet he traveled back to P3X-234 each afternoon to try dialing the SGC and to check on the well-being of his teammates, bringing with him everything Sam and Jack might need for their impromptu camping trip.

He’d invited the two of them to join him on Chulak, of course, but Jack had declined for reasons that were still unclear to Sam, though she had her suspicions.  After all, P3X-234 was a beautiful  planet, one that looked extremely similar to the Northwestern United States, complete with snow-capped mountains, temperate green valleys, and a gorgeous lake that was, apparently, well stocked with fish.

They were sitting at the edge of said lake now.  Teal’c would be checking in soon so they could make their daily attempt to contact the SGC.  But for moment, Sam was content to lie back on the grass and enjoy the sunlight while her CO dangled the line of a makeshift fishing pole in the water.  She took a deep breath of the wildflower-scented air and let out a contented sigh.

Jack shot her a sideways glance and smiled at her relaxed repose.  "Ah, now, see, this is almost as good as being at the cabin."

Sam plucked the closest yellow flower and twirled the stem between her thumb and forefinger, as she thought about his statement. She'd all but forgotten that Jack had been heading to his cabin in Minnesota before being interrupted by the latest planetary crisis.  But she immediately recalled their exchange in his lab before he left. 

She hadn't had a chance to work through the meaning of his invitation then, but now that they were literally lightyears away from the SGC and had ample time to kill, she couldn't think of any reason she shouldn't try to find out.  Well, other than the fact that he was her superior officer, she supposed.  That, and the possibility that his offer really hadn't been anything more than a polite invitation extended to a fellow colleague.  Of course, she would be mortified if that was all it was, so she couldn't ever let him know that she believed, hoped even, that it meant something more.  She would have to play it cool.

"So, this is what you do at your cabin?" she asked in what she hoped was an innocuous tone, still flat on her back, watching her flower spin.

"Yep," he drawled.

"You fish?" she added, for the avoidance of doubt.

"Yep."

"The whole time?"

He eyed her again, somewhat suspiciously this time.  "Pretty much."

Sam sat up slowly and stared out over the water.  For a moment, she considered ending the conversation there; it was certainly the safest thing to do.  But in the end, her curiosity got the better of her. 

"So," she began with all the nonchalance she could muster, "when you asked me to join you at your cabin, you just wanted to...fish with me?" 

There was a long pause as he considered her question, and Sam could feel a knot beginning to form in the pit of her stomach.  Oh god, she thought, had she really just asked him that?  Did it sound as brazen to him as it did to her?  What if he was insulted?  Or worse, what if he was trying to figure out how to let her down gently?

Fortunately for Sam, though, her concerns were short-lived, as a somewhat devious grin slowly crept up the corner of Jack's mouth.

"Oh yeah," he replied in an unmistakably suggestive voice.  "We would have done lots of fishing, Carter."

With that, the knot in her stomach morphed into a completely different feeling all together, the same feeling she'd had, in fact, when he'd asked her to his cabin in the first place.  Except this time, she had little doubt that he was flirting with her.  And she had absolutely no doubt she was enjoying it, which was why she decided to take the bait and play along with his innuendo.

She dipped her toes in the water.  "Do you ever fish in Colorado, sir?" she asked, coyly.

Jack kept his attention on his line, but the half grin remained.  "Not in a really long time, Carter.  I much prefer fishing at the cabin.  It’s nice and secluded."  He paused and the grin turned into a full-blown smirk.  "You can pretty much fish all day and all night there, without any interruptions.  And believe me, you don’t want to be interrupted when you’re in the middle of some good fishing."

Sam had to try hard to suppress a grin of her own, as the obvious question popped into her head.  "I assume that you usually fish alone, then?"

"Well sure, everyone does from time to time," Jack replied without missing a beat.  "But it's a lot more fun with a partner."

"Huh," was about all she could muster, as his sparkling brown eyes briefly met hers and her brain turned to mush.  She could feel her cheeks color, so she turned her attention to his rig and was quickly fascinated by the way his long fingers manipulated the line.  Damn, the man had sexy hands.

But he wasn't done with their conversation.  "Surely you've been fishing before, Carter."

"Hmm?  Oh, yes, I've done a little fishing."  She was so distracted that she'd forgotten they weren't being literal, which was really the only explanation her next statement.  "I just never found it all that much fun."

Jack's eyebrows shot to the top of his head.  "Really?  That’s too bad."  And the grin was back, in fine form.  "Clearly, you've never done it with the right person." 

Sam turned a deeper shade of pink but concentrated on keeping her tone neutral.  "Oh?"

"Oh yes.  To really enjoy it, you need to do it with someone who's got some experience."

"Someone like you, I take it?" she asked, trying her best to sound skeptical, though she had no doubt he was far more experienced than most men she knew.  With fishing, of course.   

"Not to brag, Carter," he began, oozing arrogance, "but I am a bit of an expert.  Over the years I've learned what it takes to create the most enjoyable fishing experience." 

His easy self-confidence was doing funny things to her insides.  But there was no way she was going to let him know that. 

"Such as?" she asked as dispassionately as possible.

He rubbed his chin with his free hand and screwed his face up as though deep in thought.  "I'd say the most important thing is patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  You can't rush things, Carter.  If you're fishing with someone who just wants to get it over with quickly, then you won't have any fun.  Heck, you might not even catch a fish."  

Sam felt all the blood in her body head south.  "That would be bad," was all she could manage to say.

"That would be very bad," he agreed.  "Of course, you also need the proper equipment."

She sat up a little straighter and concentrated on getting herself under control.  "What kind of equipment?"

"Well, for starters, you need a good pole." 

Now it was Sam's turn to smirk.  "I'm guessing the bigger the pole, the better the fishing..."

"No!"  Jack interjected.  "No, that's a myth, Carter.  You don't want more pole than you can handle."

She narrowed her eyes and intentionally let her gaze drift downward.  "I see..."

"Now don't get the wrong idea, Carter," he quickly added.  "I'm a big guy, so my pole is probably larger than most--"

"Ah."

"But really, it's more about technique."

She had to concentrate to avoid losing her what little self-control she had left.  "And what is your technique?"

"I have several.  I like to switch it up a bit.  Keep things interesting.  Let's see, there's back trolling, spin casting, live lining...."  He paused for a moment and the cocky grin returned.  "Bottom bouncing--"

"You're making that up!" she accused, laughing. 

He feigned extreme offense.  "I am not!  Bottom bouncing is one of my favorite techniques, just like chumming, jigging, pitching, flipping, drop-shotting..."

"Wow, that all sounds very...intriguing."  Her brain had clearly decided to take a hiatus, because even she could not believe what she said next.  "So, will you show me some of your techniques?"

He instantly turned to face her.  "Right now?"  

He was still smiling, but beneath the humor in his eyes Sam saw fire, and she found that she couldn't look away.  In fact, she couldn't do much of anything other than slowly nod her head.

"You sure, Carter?" he asked, leaning toward her, his voice low and rough.  "Once you start fishing with me, you might never want to stop." 

A spike of desire shot through her core.  "That’s a chance I’m willing to take," she replied in an equally seductive tone.

Jack let his rig fall into the water as his eyes traveled down to her lips, and he moved to close the distance between them.  Sam felt her heart threaten to beat out of her chest when he brought a hand up to cup her cheek.  She closed her eyes and leaned toward him and--

"I have returned," came a booming baritone voice from behind them. 

They immediately jumped apart, somewhat guilty.

"Teal'c!" Jack exclaimed, as he looked around to be sure there weren't other people that he hadn't noticed standing right next to them.  "So, uh, when did you get here?" 

Sam was wondering the same thing, but Teal'c didn't bother answering the question.  "It is time to attempt to contact the SGC." 

With that, he turned on his heel and headed in the direction of the Stargate.  Exchanging a quick  and slightly embarrassed look, Sam and Jack got up to follow him.

The two of them followed the Jaffa all the way back to the gate in silence, leaving plenty of time for Sam to ponder the events of the last ten minutes, particularly the fact that she almost kissed her CO.  With an inward groan, she suddenly realized that she almost did a whole lot more than kiss him.  

Holy cow, she was in trouble.

Though she’d always thought the Colonel was attractive, and she knew they had always flirted more than was probably appropriate, and while yes, she did have a bit of a crush on him, she'd completely refused to acknowledge that it went any further than that -- at least until he'd asked her to accompany him to his cabin.  Alone.  That was the first time she'd suspected that maybe her feelings for him ran a little deeper, and that maybe, just maybe, he felt the same way.  And now those suspicions had been confirmed by their exchange at the lake.

She sighed.  Starting an intimate relationship with her superior officer was likely the worst thing she could do at the moment.  As much as she’d like to test his "fishing" experience and technique, it could very well mean the end of SG-1, and that was not something she was willing to risk no matter how much she...cared for him.

Sam was roused from her thoughts once they approached the Stargate and Teal'c began punching in the address for Earth.  It dawned on her that none of them had said a word since they'd left the lake, and though she assumed Jack was likely as caught up in his thoughts as she was, that didn't explain Teal'c, who had also been strangely silent.  Well, at least more silent than usual.  Apparently, Jack thought so as well. 

"Everything okay, there, T?" he asked.

The Jaffa paused and turned to look at the Colonel.  "I am troubled, O'Neill."

"Oh yeah?  Why's that?"

"Did you not first ask me to accompany you to your cabin for the purpose of fishing?" he dead-panned.

Without waiting for an answer, the Jaffa hit the large orange crystal in the middle of the DHD, causing the 'gate to spring to life.  He immediately turned and began walking toward the event horizon, leaving Jack and Sam unable to do anything other than stare after him in shock.

Sam was the first to realize that they had finally established a connection to the SGC.  "Uh, sir," she said to Jack, indicating the active wormhole.

"Wha--" he began.  "Oh, yes!  Finally!" 

Teal’c was waiting for them stoically at the top of the stairs.  As they moved to join him, Jack muttered to Sam under his breath, "He was kidding, right, Carter?"

"I'm sure he was, sir," she replied.  Pretty sure, anyway.

"Right."  Jack grinned at her.  "So, any interest in going fishing with me when we get back?"

If Sam had learned anything that afternoon, it was that she clearly could not trust herself to be alone with him and certainly not in an intimate setting like his cabin.  For that reason, she resolved at that moment to put her duty ahead of heart, though she desperately hoped it wouldn't always be that way. 

"As tempting as that is, sir, I think it would be better if I passed."

“Okay,” he replied.  Though his tone was light, she was sure she saw something akin to disappointment flash across his features.  But whatever she saw was quickly replaced by his trademark smirk.  "Hey, this isn't about Teal'c, is it?  I'm sure he'd understand."

“Indeed I would not,” Teal'c said, refusing to look at them and staring at some point on the horizon instead.

“Come on, T," Jack teased, as they approached the 'gate.  "Don’t be like that.”

She almost laughed, but stopped short instead when she realized what was happening.  The Colonel wasn't fooling her.  She had worked with the man long enough to know that he often used humor to mask his real feelings, and in this case, she was fairly certain he had the wrong impression.  She knew then she needed to make her intentions clear. 

“Sir?”  She called after him.

He stopped and turned back toward her.  “Carter?”

She walked up to him so that they were standing toe to toe, and for a moment, she felt her resolve waiver.  “One day...”  She took a deep breath and looked up at his handsome face.  “One day I…I’d really like to go fishing with you.”

He met her eyes, and the love and desire she saw there made her heart skip a beat.   “Just say the word, Carter,” he replied softly. 

They stared at each other for a long moment, and she knew that had reached an agreement:  not now, but someday.  Then Jack inclined his head in the direction of the 'gate and gave her smile. 

“Let’s go home.”  

The End