Disclaimer: They're not mine. I made no money off this story. Wahoo, on both counts!

Electronic 'Threads'

by Linda Bindner

A/N: This is very unexpectedly turning into a series which I've named (for lack of a better title) 'The 'Threads' Communication Series.' (I know that in reality, the episode 'Moebius' comes before Jack transfers to DC, but did 'Moebius' really happen, since it's AU, and the AU episode 'Moebius' sort of 'resets' the stage back to the epidsode 'Threads?' I wonder...) So, this series should actually be called 'The Post 'Threads' Communication series,' but calling this 'Electronic 'Threads'' story 'Electronic Post 'Threads'' just doesn't quite roll off the tongue or sound very nice as titles go... Hence, this story is still going to be called 'Electronic 'Threads'' because I say it is, and I'm the author, and what the author says goes... Look on it as my own small way of being a complete despot - the power is already going to my head!

Sequel to ''Threads' Just Keeps Going and Going....'

Eight hours and fifteen minutes after Mark's unprecedented phone call to Jack at the Pentagon found Sam still sitting on her lab stool, and continuing to stare in astonishment at her lab computer sitting serenely in front of her on her workbench. She blinked, thoroughly amazed, and once again asked herself if she'd just read what she thought she'd read. So she blinked once again to clear her eyes of the fog of surprise that had descended on her hours before, and looked again.

Yep, there it still was, in black and white, with a cursor patiently blinking at the bottom of her email program screen, waiting for her to reply.

Except... Sam couldn't reply. She was too... stunned.

Jack had asked her to marry him... over e-mail?!

* * *

Previously:

Subject: Seriously... What did Mark say?

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1432

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Sir,

I've heard through the grapevine that my brother gave you one... or two... or three... phone calls - I'm sorry that he felt he needed to speak specifically to you. His calls were probably a real bother. But I have to admit to being curious... What, exactly, did he say?

Not that you should feel like you have to tell me... It's none of my business... It's just that Daniel wants to know...

Sincerest Thanks,

Carter

Subject: re: Seriously... What did Mark say?

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1440

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter

Daniel? That's getting pretty low, don't you think? It's okay, Carter, you can tell me that you're dying of curiosity, ya know. I won't think any less of you.

And there's no need to be concerned. Mark didn't tell me about what he and his friend Scott did to your dolls that one time...

Seriously... He just wanted to get to know his future brother-in-law better. Nothing important.

Have a good day... rest of the day.

Jack

Subject: What??????

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1445

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

What did you say... Sir?

Carter

Subject: re: What??????

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1459

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter

Ha ha ha! Got your attention, didn't I?

But seriously, he didn't say anything specific.

Oh, except... He did say something about Jacob. Is it okay with you if I mention that, or don't you want to talk about your Dad just yet? Are you going to chew on my brains for days if I tell you what Mark said about you and Jacob?

Thought I should ask before I open my mouth and insert my foot.

Jack

Subject: Just tell me... Sir

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1505

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Sir,

That's really... thoughtful... of you to ask me first before inserting your foot in your mouth. I appreciate it.

But, I really wouldn't mind talking about Dad for a time. You knew him in a way that even Mark never did. He can't share any of his thoughts on the... people that Dad lived with... if you know what I mean.

So, what does Mark say that Dad did... or said... or whatever? Daniel still wants to know.

Carter

Subject: re: Just tell me... and I ain't your 'Sir' - not anymore - call me 'Jack'

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1520

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter

Hey, I can do thoughtful... on a good day...

And we have what's supposed to be a secure server... or so I'm assured... so go ahead and say it - er, write it - Tok'ra Tok'ra Tok'ra...

And speaking of the Tok'ra, don't mention me asking about Dad before I said something stupid - Daniel made me do it - he says that I'm too unsympathetic to people, as if I don't care... But I care! Honest!

I mean 'care' in the... I didn't say that right...

I mean, it is how it sounds, but... you know... This is why I never seem sympathetic! Being sympathetic (emotional) is always how I get in trouble. (Wonder how the T. man is doing? He's about as unemotional as it gets...)

Okay, I can do this... Mark didn't tell me anything Earth shattering, or really, anything that I didn't already know. He just gave me the idea that Jacob kind of made it his life's work to make you feel guilty if it ever seemed like you weren't following Air Force regs... or any regs. I kind of suspected that was what was going on - you are a kind of 'by the book' sort of soldier... not that I didn't like Jacob anyway... and not that you following the rules is a bad thing... it's just an observation.

Mark did say something else, now that I think of it. He said that when you two were young... as in teenagers... after your mom died... you made up rules to everything you did. He said that it was like it made you feel better to do or not do something if you already had a rule about that thing beforehand. It made you feel more secure, or something like that.

This isn't such a bad idea - wish I'd thought of doing that. Some rules could have kept me from putting my foot (crap - my whole body!) in my mouth several times over the years. It would have gone a long way in saving me the trouble of digging myself out of holes to have been able to say 'I can't talk about that or do that' because some rule dictated that I couldn't. That would have been downright nice.

Instead, I just parked my foot in my mouth on a permanent basis - it saved me a lot of time in the long run.

Told ya it was no big deal.

By the way, when are you transferring to Area 51?

Jack

Subject: Transfer

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1530

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Jack,

My transfer: Actually, I've already been scheduled to be off work this week to get everything packed, then I drive to Nevada next week to stay there for the foreseeable future. This gives me time to run the errands that I still need to run, and Colonel Mitchell time to replace me on SG-1 - did you hear that he's been given command, just as you requested?

But, as you can see, I'm not getting very much packing done - I'm in my lab at the SGC, having a lot more fun reading e-mail than packing. This morning I bugged Daniel before he could bug me - I'm supposed to be working on some new doohickeys that... (right, this is a secure server that we're using - I can remember that...) that SG-7 brought back the other day, but I'm having more fun playing, I admit.

How has your own transfer been going? Are you getting used to DC yet?

Carter

Subject: re: Transfer

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1539

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter... I mean Sam... I'm trying out the first name thing... how am I doing? One for one so far,

Packing: You go girl! Play while you can! That's what I always say - which is why the staff always comes back from lunch to find me playing with my yo-yo... I mean, playing solitaire... I mean, doing my paperwork like a good General...

DC is okay - I keep getting lost - and I'm not just talking about when I'm at the Pentagon, which is bad enough, but the roads around here!... How did you ever figure them out on your own when you lived in DC? I can't seem to get them all straight in my head, and end up going the wrong way from what I want to go on one of those circle thingies... which are everywhere... I'm tellin ya, if I didn't get my own driver cause I'm the big bad General, I would never even make it from the house to work.

And If I didn't have your e-mails to look forward to every day, I'd go nuts. This job comes with so damned many meetings with so damned many politicians that my head is spinning. Gen. Hammond never told me about all the meetings - the sneaky old fella. I think the meetings are actually a governmental conspiracy to keep me too busy to know what's going on so that 'they' can then steal satellite time and sit around and watch 'The Simpsons' all day - the lucky _____________ (fill in the blank with your favorite curse word - Daniel says that I curse too much, too, and that I've gotta stop. Howmydoin?)(Not good, if judging by the two uses of the curse word 'damned' in previous sentences.)

Jack

Subject: re: re: Transfer

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1550

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Jack,

It might help to look at the surface of the road to tell you what lane you need to be in - sometimes there are roadsigns to tell you where to go - (literally, not figuratively) - and sometimes it's actually written right on the road itself. It took me almost a year to figure that out - there was no one to tell me how to do it, so I was always just wandering around and not knowing what I was doing - I looked like the biggest idiot, I'm sure. But maybe you won't get so lost now... unless I try to 'help' too much. (I have better luck if I stick with my doohickeys)

I'll agree that you're a big General. But a bad General? Never.

And I'm enjoying our e-mail, too... as is demonstrated by the fact that I'm still not going home to pack. I'm lucky that a lot of my stuff is already packed from when I still planned to move to the house that Pete bought... that awful house that I couldn't stand.

Do you mind me talking about that? That entire situation isn't your favorite topic, I suspect. Though I have to admit that I would like to go over a few things with you... you have a way of making me 'talk,' and I predict that I'll be even more silent than usual on this... um... subject... (this very personal, very emotional subject). Daniel thinks it would be a good idea for me to 'talk' to someone... for closure... (please save me from having to 'talk' to McKensie...)

Subject: Talking

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1610

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter

Just because it's for saving you from McKensie - go ahead, shoot, what's up? (Oh, and tell Daniel to go stick it out his...)

I admit, using e-mail for this is much easier than going at it face to face, ya know what I mean? Daniel suggested this way of 'talking,' too. I swear, that guy should have gone into psychiatry instead of archaeology - he has enough head cases to keep him busy for the next ten years...

So I'll just sit here and do my paperwork like a good boy who would rather be playing solitaire (I still need to finish the game that Mark interrupted today when he called) while you type... er, 'talk'...

Promise to hear you out before I go ballistic,

Jack

Subject: re: Talking

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1635

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Jack,

Okay, I'll keep this brief... I think...

The house was awful.

Well, okay, not awful awful, but... I guess it was the idea of that house... I guess I sort of liked the idea of having that life outside the SGC that you kept telling me that I needed to find... that 'normal' life... The house made 'normal' look like 'This is getting way too scary to live with!' and 'Run for the hills while you still can!' I know that me running like I did disappointed you - I never ran from Jaffa as fast as I ran from that house - but I just couldn't stand it... ya know? (You're right - this talking over e-mail is so much easier than a face to face conversation. I should thank Daniel for his ideas - right after I tell him to stick his 'you know what' up his 'you know where' for butting in yet again.)

This 'talking' is taking me too long - maybe I don't really want to 'talk 'after all. McKensie would have a field day trying to get me to tell him why I don't want to 'talk'... as if I know why...

And you never told me if Mark told you about Scott and 'the doll thing...'

Carter

Subject: the doll thing

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1645

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Carter

Ah - the doll thing - safer subject...

'Talk' over the 'air waves' is soooooo much easier!

I never saw 'the house' so I don't know if it was nice or not. Sounds like the idea of getting married was not so right up your alley just then.

And I'm not disappointed in you - As if! (shades of Cassie there) But if you felt like 'the house' represented a Jaffa Army, who am I to argue? Come up here to hide out from McKensie until you have to leave for Area 51 if you want - I won't tell...

Nope I didn't say if Mark told me about Scott and 'the doll thing...' Who was Scott, anyway? And no, Mark never actually told me about 'the doll thing,' either. What is 'the doll thing?' He only mentioned 'the rule thing.' You never explained that 'rule thing' of yours, either... either.

Jack

Subject: Alright... 'Jack'... I can do this (both talk and call you 'Jack')

From: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1655

To: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Jack (Though I've noticed that it's already gone back to 'Carter'... not that I mind, really... I'm 'just sayin'!')

The idea of getting married has always been a nice idea - you might have guessed that from all the engagement times that I've had. But maybe I had the wrong time? Or the wrong guy? Or the wrong house? The wrong guy with the wrong house? Your guess is as good as mine - which I won't be telling to McKensie anytime soon. (I may need to take you up on your offer earlier than you anticipate...)

'The doll thing' - so not a big deal, but I bet Mark made it look like a big deal. The truth: Mark likes to tell it as if the dolls were mine - they weren't... they were his... and Scott was his best friend when he was young. I was even younger... of course. One day I was hanging around, bugging Mark too much - he told me to go away and get a personality - like any descent older brother would have done. And I got mad. (Actually, I got even after I got mad) While he and Scott were busy doing 'guy things,' I stole all of Mark's old A-Team action figures (the dolls) and took their heads off, and then put the heads back on to the wrong body. You should have seen Mr. T. with a dark head and white body - he looked so... wrong... I can't help but think of that every time you say 'T.' instead of 'Teal'c'...

And 'the rule thing'... Yeah, he's right - I did used to make up rules and things when I was young - are you picking my brain for information, S... Jack? I was a different person when I was a teenager (weren't you and Mark talking about us Carters when we were teenagers?) Anyway, you wouldn't have liked me very much, especially after Mom died. I was so busy being mad at the world that I wouldn't even have noticed you - I didn't notice anyone. I didn't notice Mark all that much either. Guess he was part of my 'anyone.' I studied instead when I could, and cooked and cleaned, though I didn't have to do much of those things, either, since Dad wasn't home all that much, and Mark wasn't home much more often... Not much to clean if no one's there to mess it up. (So, Where was Mark all the time? I'll let you torture it out of him)

I feel like I should ask... what's this thing about the 'future brother-in-law' part? Do you and Mark know something that I don't know? Want to fill me in?

Subject: Curiosity killed the cat... even if it's a cliché

From: General Jack O'Neill: oneill@pentagon.net.us.gov

Date: 9/12/2005 1715

To: Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter: fishinganyone@sgc.net.us.gov

No, there's nothing going on that you don't know about. Mark did say that thing about 'future brother-in-law,' but I'm just yanking your chain by repeating it, I admit. Though it's a nice thought. Whadyasay? It could work.

* * *

And that's when Sam became too stunned to write another e-mail or do anything, for that matter, for the next several hours.

She was still lost, staring into the space of her lab, when Daniel found her at 2210, looking as if she hadn't even bothered to go to bed...either in her home, or in her base quarters.

Hey, Sam, Daniel said, rounding the corner into her lab, not bothering to glance up until he had managed to finagle the stack of papers that he was carrying into the file folder he was also carrying. Have you got..? Then he did have time to glance up... And what he saw stopped him cold. Sam? he queried, pushing up his glasses so that he could better see the sense of indecision and agony on her face. Is something wrong? When she didn't immediately answer, he went on, I know that I've been at that conference for the last few days, but... Did something happen while I was gone? You're beginning to scare me here. He nervously jiggled his file. Is it Teal'c? Did something happen to Colonel Mitchell before he could even get to the SGC? What?

Sam slowly exhaled the breath that she'd been holding. It seemed like she'd been holding her breath for hours. Still, she considered not telling him, as it was far more like her not to talk about personal things. But she was just so... stunned... and puzzled... and uncertain... She felt that if she didn't talk to someone about this... and soon... her entire mind was going to swirl away in the eddy of the confusion that Jack's question had started. So she turned to Daniel, gave a sick grin - the best smile that she could produce at this time - and announced, Jack asked me to marry him... I think.

Daniel's eyes instantly widened. You're kidding! he breathed, his voice infused with the instant excitement that he was feeling. When did that happen?

Then Daniel cocked his head in a pause before Sam could even answer him. Wait... Isn't this all a bit sudden? he quietly inquired in a skeptical tone of voice. As far as I know, you and Jack weren't even dating at the time I left for my conference. He found himself muttering, I'm gone for a few days, and... But he stopped himself and looked at her with suddenly piercing blue eyes. Wait a minute... You 'think' he asked? You aren't sure?

Again Sam let out a slow breath. Then she explained, No... I'm not... We were e-mailing, and... Helpless, her voice trailed away.

Daniel filled the following silence with his explanation, He proposed over e-mail? He looked wholly disbelieving now, as if he suspected that he'd surely heard wrong. Even Jack knows better than to do that.

Sam finally was able to again look at him. You would think so... but I'm not even really sure that he asked. She turned back to her computer sitting before her. I've been staring at his mail for hours, and I still can't decide.

Daniel gave a start, then walked toward where she was seated on a lab stool. Here, he instructed. Let me take a look - I'll tell you what I think. Belatedly, but before he'd seen anything that was typed on the computer screen she was staring at, he added, That is, if you don't mind me looking at it?

Sam blinked, the only movement besides shifting on her stool that she had seemed capable of doing for the last hours. Uh... no... go ahead, you look. It might be nice to get another perspective on this.

So Daniel looked. And he looked again. Then he coughed and shook his head in a seeming mix of regret and a sense of astonishment that matched Sam's.

Sam screwed up her eyes, unable to read Daniel's expression. You don't see a marriage proposal there? she asked, worried now that she had misinterpreted the entire situation. If she had, it wouldn't be the first time that she'd misinterpreted something in her personal life.

Daniel coughed again, sounding more and more embarrassed the longer they spoke. He assured, Oh, I see a proposal alright. Then he shifted his file to his other hand so that he could lean in a fraction closer to her screen. He read through the mail again. Jack didn't even greet you... or sign it. He straightened. How do you know this is from Jack?

Sam pointed to the 'subject,' 'from,' and 'to' lines. It says that it's from him to me - that's how I know.

Daniel balked. E-mail can be faked - you know that, Sam. He gave another start. You even taught the process to me a few years ago.

Sam did smile this time. And you had to write all the commands down because you claimed that you would never be able to recall any of it on demand - I remember.

Daniel gave a roll of his eyes. Well, we're not all computer programmers, you know. He grimaced. And I lost that paper almost as soon as you gave it to me - when I die, my estate managers will find it hidden in some obscure Ancient Egyptian dictionary, or something. He rolled his eyes again, silently commenting on his tendency for forgetfulness. Finally, he just gestured at the e-mail displayed on her screen. This mail could say that it's to you from Jack, but really be to you from who-knows-who, and would you ever really know?

That was an idea that she hadn't considered before now. Quickly she brought up the hidden e-mail commands, and they both read that the computer script declared the mail to be from General Jack O'Neill, to Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter. Sam frowned as she looked through the mail - there were no nefarious clues in the script as to tell who the e-mail letter was from except the completely obvious ones - from Jack to Sam. Still... Jack and I had been talking all afternoon, she semi argued. I can even show the e-mail to you. If this last e-mail letter isn't from him, like my mails had been all afternoon, then I don't know who this mail would be from.

Daniel stood next to her, staring intently at the screen of her computer. Finally, he stood back up straight and regarded her with a serious expression on his face. There's only one obvious way to clear up this whole thing, he announced.

Sam was caught up in reading the message again, and was only vaguely aware of what her team mate was saying. Oh? What's the obvious thing to do? she inquired of him as she perused the message from Jack for the millionth time.

Daniel shrugged. That's easy, he answered, ignoring the way that she ignored him. Be like a tree and leave... for DC, he said when she didn't immediately prompt him to to explain his cryptic response. Ask Jack directly if he wrote this, then tell him your answer. He looked at his watch. It'll take you all night to fly to DC, though. Isn't it a seven hour flight from here?

Ummm, Sam said, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with him. She was too busy being occupied by the image in her mind of her storming into Jack's office, demanding that he tell her what he'd been thinking when he sent that mail, and wondering what her answer would be to his... 'request.' But at last she was able to turn her attention back to Daniel and what he'd just said. We don't even know if any planes are bound for the East from Peterson... She hesitated, giving Daniel time to jump into the conversation and cut her off.

Daniel latched his fingers around the receiver of her workbench phone and hauled it towards him. There's only one way to find out, he said, then dialed a number and waited for his ringing to be answered. When his call was picked up, he brightened. Hello, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson at NORAD, and I was wondering if you have any scheduled flights heading to the East coast in the near future? He listened, then brightened some more. You do? It leaves at 2300 you say? He paused, and curled the chord around his finger as he continued, I have a... friend... military... Air Force friend, he inelegantly stuttered. She really needs to get to DC soon, by tomorrow, hopefully, and is it possible for you to find a place for her on your 2300 flight? Daniel listened while Sam fidgeted beside him, unable to hear the response. You do? You can? Then his face fell. You can't? he asked, sounding like he was repeating whatever he heard.

Sam leaned into him. Can't what? she asked, feeling a sudden and inexplicable sense of urgency take over her insides. She had the new and burning desire to be on that plane. What?

Daniel turned to her and rested the receiver against his chest. They have a plane going out, to Rhode Island, tonight, but it's a cargo plane. You'd have to sit for seven hours and listen to the 'cargo roar' that we all know and don't love - surely you don't want to do that. Daniel grimaced. What a headache!

But Sam didn't mind the prospect of a future headache. She shook her head. I don't mind. I'll take whatever I can get at this point.

Daniel narrowed his eyes. Are you sure? he tentatively asked.

Sam nodded. Yeah. Say that I'll take it.

Daniel gave a doubtful shrug. Okay. And he turned his attention back to his phone call. She said that she'll take the space that you have, he said into the phone receiver again. Yeah - we'll be there. Don't take off without us - oh, it's Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter - yeah, that's right. He grinned. Thanks for this. He hung up the phone, and regarded Sam. I was talking to Captain Ben Phillips - he says that they'll hold a seat open for you if you can be there by 2235. He glanced again at his watch. That's only ten minutes from now... And it'll take you almost that long just to get to the surface - if you hurry. Then he looked at her again. That is, if you really want to do this?

Sam was already printing out that final cryptic e-mail on her printer. You bet! she said, not truly considering the fact that she was about to embark on a journey that would inevitably end with her staring straight at Jack. She abruptly wanted more than anything to ask about her final e-mail from him, and to give her answer in person. Get me to Rhode Island, and I can drive from there. She grabbed the printout of the last e-mail from Jack from her printer, then folded it, crammed it into her BDU pocket, then grabbed her purse in one hand, and Daniel by the other, and firmly said, You're driving me to Peterson - let's go!

Practically dragging Daniel along behind her, they raced out of the lab, leaving the lights and computer on in their haste to reach the surface, and hence Sam's flight, in time.

The End

Sequel: The 'Threads' of DC


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