Disclaimer: Not feeling very creative right now, so... Don't pwn anything. Don't want to. Would rather die in obscurity than be famous. (Good thing, too, as that is what will probably happen.) Only written for the enjoyment of other fans, so... enjoy!

Home, Sweet Home

by Linda Bindner

Retirement.

Finally!

Sam gazed across the Commissary, where the party was ostensibly being held, while actually, everybody who had placed their bets on Sam and Jack getting together after his retirement from the Air Force were watching her like the proverbial hawk. And, as most anyone who was anyone would admit to wanting to watch, it was as much a meat market as a retirement party. Sam had expected this, but was still unprepared for all the attention she was garnering. She was taking away well-deserved regard from the guest of honor, Jack O'Neill. Not that he seemed to mind, as it appeared that he was one of the prime watchers present in the room.

She caught the General's eye before she moved on from the punch bowl at the table that had obviously been decorated by Walter Harriman, and went to the end of the recieving line that had formed in the last hour. Jack sat at the head of that long line, talking to everybody that he could for one last time. He was currently embroiled in an extensive conversation with General Hammond about where the best place to fish was located, out West, or more East, near Minnesota and Wisconsin. In between his comments, his eyes would flick over to her, but she hadn't spoken to him all evening. Yet, Sam managed to snag two pieces of cake from the food table, one for him and one for her, and tried hard not to look at anyone, especially not at him.

More people had their eyes trained on her, and were talking about her, then were discussing General O'Neill's retirement from the Air Force. Speculation ran rampant throughout the room as to whether she would speak to the General about their odd relationship, or wait for him to say something to her. What most people in the room, and hence, in the SGC, didn't know was that the 'something' had been said a long time ago, and that Sam and Jack were already married, and had been for years. However, what everyone else didn't know would never get Sam and Jack court-martialed, and that's the way they both preferred things.

The last few years had been a test of discipline and fortitude for the two officers, but the thought of what could happen to either of them if the state of their relationship ever became known was enough to temper any yen they'd had over the years. And there had been plenty of times in the past where both Sam and Jack had wanted the throw the towel in, and holler at their loudest through the halls of the Pentagon, as well as the SGC, the current state of affairs between them. It had been incredibly tiring to keep things quiet.

Now, more so than ever, because there were so many people staring at her. But Sam tried to ignore the looks, and enjoy her cake. She liked white cake quite well, and even remembered to save the icing, a cream cheese concoction, for Jack, who loved icing enough to eat it right out of the can from the store he bought it in. As far as Sam could tell, it did nothing but give him a sugar high, but even she had to admit that he could then get an awful lot of work done until he crashed, and slept for days. He'd only done that once since the wedding, on a weekend where they had planned to go fishing, only Jack had slept the weekend away. He had apologizd profusely, and the fishing trip had been rescheduled for another weekend, but Sam had enjoyed the fact that he'd been extra attentive to her because he had thought the need to reshedule in the first place had been his fault. Which it had been. But that didn't mean that he had completely given up frosting. It still called to him, and Sam knew it. She scraped the leftovers of her cake onto the plate that she'd snagged for him, then set the empty plate down on a convenient table, and prepared to stare at the floor for the next half hour as the line slowly moved forward.

At last, the line dumped Sam near Jack, and she was finally able to hand him the plate of cake with its loads of frosting as he laughed, and accepted her gift with a smile in his eyes.

Carter! he jovially said as he took the plate from her. You even remembered that I love frosting!

How can I ever forget? she asked, an answering smile on her own face.

We sat around in the Commissary often enough, I suppose, eating cake and blue jello, he commented as he took a bite of the cake she had given him.

I think they made both especially for SG-1, Sir, Sam laughed along with him.

Hey, Jack said. You up for a drink later? You know... commemerate the old military side of the team, and all that?

She peered at him, then flirtatiously raised her eyebrows. Wonder what everyone will think of that? Sam thought to herself, but aloud, she said, Sure, I'm always up for a beer, Sir. As long as you don't plan to go to...

O'Malley's, Jack finished for her. I doubt they'll let us in, yet, even after all these years.

They're good at holding a grudge, aren't they? Sam inquired.

The best. You'd think that we taught them that, Jack laughed. No, I was thinking of going to that bar a little further on the way down the mountain into town... What's it called?

You mean Herra's? Sam asked.

Jack nodded his head, and chewed. That's the one. Then he smiled, the slow, seductive smile that he knew she loved. Trust you to know the name of the place.

Sam was fully aware of his flirtatious gesture, but ignored it, though it set her insides to melting in seconds. Should I tell Teal'c and Daniel, then? What time were you thinking of?

Jack sent her a look that would have melted her insides if they weren't already pooling in the toes of her dress shoes. I'm talking military, Colonel, as you well know. And as much as I love Daniel and Teal'c, and always will, they're not part of, or retired from, the Air Force. He scooped up the last piece of cake and frosting, and popped the fork into his mouth. It's okay for us to have a drink now, ya know. No frat rule to adhere to anymore, now that I'm retired. No on can point fingers, or claim that something is going on even when it's not.

Sam stood back on her heels, a bit peeved at his reminder, as if she needed a reminder, anyway. I'm well aware of that, Sir. More than well aware of it, if the gossipers on base had anything to say about it!

Jack stared at her. I know you are, he finally said. Anyone with a doctorate in astrophysics is sure to be more than smart enough to realize how things stand, now.

And how are things, now? Sam asked, aware that she was playing with fire even as she inquired, but as willing as he seemed to be to set the gossip mill grinding away. What do you plan to do with your retirement?

Jack meaningfully stared at her, didn't play around as he licked the last of the frosting from his lips in an obvious show of seductiveness, then said, Well, that's the question of the century, he said. Guess it depends on what Thor wants to do now.

Sam actually choked a laugh at his reference to his small Asgaard friend. Thor? Sam echoed. What does he have to do with any of your plans?

Jack immediately answered, I'm thinking of taking him fishing. Then he added. For an extended vacation. He stared at her head on, and his eyebrows rose so high that time that Sam seriously wondered if Teal'c had been coaching him lately. She had never seen him do that before. But he went on. Just me and Thor... the two of us. Fishing, he said.

Sam was enjoying this little game they were playing at the expense of those she worked within the SGC. I thought your pond didn't have any fish in it, though, Sir?

We'll talk, O'Neill instantly said. A lot.

But what can you talk about with an Asgaard, if you don't mind my asking?

He shoulders lifted in a shrug under his dress jacket. Damn! Why did he have to look so good in clothes that he hated wearing? Thor and I have much to discuss, he enigmatically said. The state of the Universe, for one thing.

I don't envy you that conversation, she announced. It sounds an awful lot like work to me.

I plan to get him drunk, Jack retorted, and Sam couldn't help but throw her head back and laugh.

A drunk Asgaard! she hooted, and Jack laughed with her, his eyes twinkling in the fluorescent glow in the Commissary. Now that's something I wouldn't mind seeing!

I'll take pictures, Jack promised with a chuckle. Now, about that drink I mentioned?... 1730 sound like a good time for you?

Sam kept giggling, but nodded her head. Sounds great, as long as you're doing the driving. You always could hold alcohol better than I could.

Its a deal. See you then, Jack said as she started to wander off, and the person behind her began to take her place. But he called after her. And Colonel?

Sam whirled back around to face him. Yeah?

Jack grinned. No giggling.

She giggled. I'll remember that.

You did that on purpose, Jack shot back, also enjoying the ribbing he was giving to her, if she could judge by the sparkle in his eyes.

But Sam just grinned as well. See you in an hour, Sir, was all she said.

* * *

An hour later, Jack and Sam walked to the car that Jack had rented for his retirement trip in Colorado Springs, and they both climbed in. It's still hard to see you driving a car, Sam commented as he unlocked the doors, and climbed in. I'll probably always think of you as driving your truck.

I had to sell my truck when I moved to D.C.... You know that, Jack commented. The car's engine turned over and began purring the minute Jack produced the keys. Sold to someone anonymous... like my house, Jack said. Todd, my real estate agent, wouldn't even tell me who it was who bought my house. You remember Todd, don't you?

Of course I do, Sam said, distractedly scratching her cheek. But it is weird, if you ask me, she remarked. You never knew who it was who bought either of them?

Jack shook his head. Have no idea, he said. At first I thought it was you and the rest of SG-1. But there's no way you all would have enough money for both the house and the truck.

Sam laughed. Man, that would have been a good idea, too! But, I bet it was some rich person who's so eccentric that he puts even you to shame!

Hey, Jack playfully bellowed. Who you calling eccentric?

Sam laughed again. You're the one who wants to go fishing with an Asgaard!

I'm gonna tell Thor you said that! Jack mock threatened as they passed through the final checkpoint, and headed off the base. But I do miss the thought of going home to that house, he forlornly admitted. It meant more to me then pretty much any where else I lived, and that's including the house I shared with Sara for all those years. He thoughtfully went on, But, I guess there's nothing quite like something you design and build yourself.

I didn't know you designed it, too! Sam blurted. I knew that you had built it, but...

Yeah, Jack said. Thinking up plans, and looking through a million architectural sketches kept me from going totally insane during those months right after Charlie died.

I can't believe how fast you decided on everything, and had it built, Sam said. That would never happen today.

Well, Jack reluctantly admitted, It helps to make fast decisions when you don't really care what you're deciding about.

Sam grinned, in spite of the seriousness of the topic they were discussing. You did a good job for someone who didn't care, then.

Jack snorted. I could so walk through the house, and pick out all the little things I should have done differently, though.

Like what? Sam asked, curious.

Like having a laundry room for the washer and dryer, Jack told her. I would never put them in the basement again. He turned to her. Do you know how heavy a basket full of dirty clothes can be? he asked.

Sam regarded him. I have to say that I've never thought about it, she told him.

You're lucky you never had to, Jack said. A military pack has nothing on a basket full of dirty laundry. He turned right to pull into the bar's parking lot. Here's the place I was thinking about. You'll love the decor.

No beige bricks, right? she teased.

Jack laughed as he climbed out of the car, then joined her as she swung her own door shut. I tried to influence their design when they were redecorating, but for some reason, they had a thing against having beige walls.

Sam stopped suddenly when he acted as if he were aiming for the front door. She held out her hand. I'm gonna need your keys, though, Sir.

Jack grunted in exasperation. I'm retired, Sam. Call me 'Jack.'

Hand over your keys, Jack, she demanded then.

He stared at her, and his sense of suspicion grew as the seconds passed. At last, he asked, What is this? What's going on?

Sam had to answer, It's your retirement present. Now, hand 'em over, and shut your eyes.

Jack balked. You're kidding, right?

Would I ever kid you? Sam asked. Then she amended, I mean, on purpose?

Jack looked at her outstretched hand. No drink then, I take it?

Oh, you'll still get your drink, Sam stated. But not here. I have a better idea.

Jack peered at her. You gonna take me to a hotel, get me drunk, then rip all my clothes off, and have your way with me?

You, wish, Sam retorted with a snort. She hoped that the the gossips who had installed a bug under the dash of Jack's car were getting an earful. Besides, I thought it was Thor who had alcolholic inebriation in his near future?

Jack ignored her comment. He stared again at her oustretched hand. You're really serious here?

Absolutely, Sam said. Keys, please.

Jack sighed then, and handed over his keyring. I don't suppose you want to tell me what this is all about?

That's not my first choice, Sam said. Then she leaned in, ripped off the listening device being held in place by Scotch tape, and dropped it to the ground after she had smiled and intoned, Bye.

Jack watched her with a shocked expression on his face. They were listening to us?

Sam nodded, then pulled the second device out of the glove compartment. She dropped it next to the first one. Every word, she told him.

Huh, Jack said. He always had been the master of understatement, she thought. He went on, Lucky I'm retired, or there would be certain individuals who would be pulling a lot of latrine duty in the next month.

Sam stepped on the devices lying on the ground, just for good measure. There. Get in.

Jack opened the door, and climbed in. Getting awfully commanding, there, aren't you, Colonel? he asked.

Put your seat belt on, then close your eyes, Sam commanded, ignoring him. She looked at his face. They closed? she asked. Jack nodded. Tight?

Jack sighed this time. Just drive.

Sam laughed, and started the car. Oh, she said as they pulled back onto the highway. You love it when I'm commanding. I know it, and so do you.

We can say anything now?

Throw that last bug you find under your seat out the window, and we can say whatever we want, Sam told him.

Jack opened his eyes, and did as he was told. Damn! he said as he looked at the listening device before throwing it out the passenger window. They're good.

You trained them, Sam noted.

But I didn't think they would ever use what they learned! Jack protested.

Now, close your eyes again, Sam said.

Jack closed his eyes, but said, You're killing me, ya know.

I thought I only did that in the bedroom, Sam remarked, and turned a corner.

Who says you don't? Jack asked. Sam blushed. You're blushing right now, aren't you? Jack inquired. Wish I could see that.

I'm glad you can't, Sam said.

Sam, you want to go fishing with me? Jack suddenly inquired.

Sam grinned. Is the beer included?

Jack grinned back. Youbetcha!

Sam laughed, but slowed the car, and turned it into... something. We're here, she said instead of answering him.

Can I open my eyes now?

Sam jumped out of the car, and opened his door for him. Not yet. Take off your seat belt... She pulled him up. Careful of the door. She shut the door while holding her hand over his head so that she was sure the corner of the car door wouldn't clip him in the temple. As soon as the door had slammed shut, she said, Okay... You can open them, now.

Jack opened his eyes, blinked, then looked up. Then, he glanced at her, confused. My old house. What..?

Sam was grinning, but Jack clearly didn't get it. I bought it for you. Years ago, when you sold it. Actually, it took a lot of us to...

Jack's eyes had grown wide as he stared at her. Then he pointed with his index finger. You? Sam nodded. You're the anonymous buyer? She nodded again. Jack gave a start, whipped his head to stare at his house, then turned back to look at her. It was clear that he was still totally confused. But... How..? You didn't have enough money... Did you?

No, Sam admitted. I had a lot of help... People gave what they could... You should look in the garage while you're gaping like a guppy out of water.

Jack walked slowly, as if he were in a dream, to the garage and pulled open the door. Inside, sat his old truck, newly washed, shiny, and waiting to be driven. Hey, my truck! Jack exclaimed.

Daniel bought it, and has been using it for two years. Then she grimaced. Sorry about the soda stain in the passenger seat, she said. The lid fell of Teal'c's drink one day... We couldn't get the entire stain out of the cushion.

Jack stared at the vehicle, his mouth slowly falling open. You did this? he blurted.

Sam smiled so much that the gesture couldn't stay just in her eyes, and poured out onto her cheeks so that they hurt. Yeah. Do you like it?

Like it!? Jack couldn't quite form the words that were crowding into his brain. Holy...

My dad would have loved this, Sam told him then. Keeping a secret like this is so up his alley. She sighed. It's too bad he died before any of this could happen.

Jack walked around to the front door. Yeah. Then, he glanced back at Sam. But... How..? he spluttered. How..?

You know, I don't think I've ever seen you so surprised, Sam finally admitted, still grinning.

Jack pulled the envelope down that had been taped to his front door. But... He couldn't finish his thought.

So Sam helped him out a little. I worked with Todd to buy the house. People from the SGC, and a few other places, chipped in money when it was damned clear that you were asking more for your house than I could afford... What were you thinking, anyway?

Jack spluttered again. Uh... Well, I did build the place.

Your contractors built the place, Sam reminded him.

But I chose everything in it, he said. There's a lot of sweat that went into this house.

Sam brows rose again. Well, you can thank Teal'c for the upkeep. I knew I couldn't be in charge of it when I got reassigned to Area 51.

But that only lasted for a month or so, Jack said.

I know, Sam told him. But I didn't know that it wasn't going to last at the time. She indicated the envelope in his hands. You gonna read your card now, or am I gonna have to wire your hand to it until you do?

Jack looked at her. You know me well.

I should, Sam said. I've been married to you long enough to know that you are hardly a card reading person.

Jack shrugged. I can't help it... I was born than way.

Sam rolled her eyes, but didn't comment this time.

Jack pulled the card out of the envelope. Inside, it had been blank, but now it was full of writing.

General,

Unauthorized activation! Incoming Wormhole! Not!

Have a great retirement.

-Walter


Sir,

Beware tall guys holding big wrenches in your new/old house. And happy retirement!

-Siler


Don't forget to water your plants... Oh, that's right, you don't have any plants! Enjoy all that free time, anyway!

(you don't know what you're missing!)

-Sam


I didn't do it! Honest!

May your times in your house be joyful nonetheless.

Retirement couldn't happen to a nicer guy - we'll miss you!

-Daniel and Teal'c


Enjoy your retirement. Now, marry that girl! And that's an order.

-George Hammond


The Program will miss you in more ways than one. Now get off your butt, and go save the world!

-Harry Hays


(transcribed by Daniel)(from the original Asgaard)

We cannot go fishing, O'Neill... We must first save the Universe. Then we can fish as much as you wish... (He's kidding, right?)

-Thor


Jack,

I'll live at your house if you ever decide to leave. In the meantime, have a wonderful retirement... You've earned it.

-Hank Landry


General, Sir,

I wanted to move into your house, keep it aired out, ya know, but everybody else figured that I'm too messy... Now, why do you figure they thought that? (Pay no attention to the ice cream stain, there) Happy retirement!

-Mitchell


To whom it may concern,

You don't know me, but I'm on Sam's team, and you would be doing me a great favor by keeping her... That would eliminate my competition, if you know what I mean. Thanks!

-Vala Mal Doran

And at the bottom was another message that simply said:

Enjoy the house or else!

Jack grinned as he stuffed the card into the pocket of his jacket, then reached to draw Sam over the threshold after he had unlocked the front door. Oh, there will be plenty of enjoyment, I can guarantee it! he said.

There's beer in the fridge, Sam told him with a smile.

Later, Jack answered. Then, as Sam giggled, and Jack cautioned her about the noise, he mischievously grinned, and closed the front door behind them.

The End


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