Disclaimer: Don't own them... No monetary gain... Buying some land, so monetary gain would be a good thing... This story was just for the sake of enjoyment, then... Oh, and because it's the sequel to my story called, 'Problem.' Sequels are a good thing, especially when a story isn't quite finished.

A/N: High fluff alert, so be warned! Part II in the Marriage Series. (I've got to think of a better name for it than that! Any ideas?)

Family Reunion

by Linda Bindner

It was blessed downtime on the day after Jack and Sam's return from their mission to PRX-138... A day and a half after their marriage... And Jack found himself curiously alone in his house again. On the outside, it seemed as though marriage hadn't changed his life much at all.

Actually, though, marriage had changed his life for the good... Yeah, definitely for good... Jack smiled as he sat on his deck, enjoying the early morning sunshine. He was busy ruminating, and very pleasantly, about his and Sam's altered relationship... Oh, he wasn't necessarily thinking about his very odd, very strange... very surreal marriage... What kind of marriage started by simply touching someone's hand to help her avoid a mud puddle, after all?... But he had to admit to the fact that he and Sam had already signed the special dispensation order that the President had written, and overnight mailed to the SGC, to be ready just in case they decided to honor this strange new marriage of theirs. And, the conversation that he and Sam had engaged in after the news that their odd, and oddly pleasing, marriage might have to become the real thing... Or possibly risk Teal'c's own marriage, whether or not his wife was actually now living or not... But Teal'c's marriage had occurred on another planet, and that made it more important to his and Sam's situation than he, Jack, might have imagined. However... yep, that conversation between Jack and Sam had been downright... cathartic. Cathartic, and... and...

Jack tried to think how he felt about Sam now that all was said and done. One might think it strange that he still called her 'Carter' for one, if she was actually an O'Neill, now. And, he had tried to call her 'Sam,' he really had. But seven years of habitually calling her by her maiden name had ruined his chances of ever calling her anything else. Besides, he was the only person who had ever called her 'Carter' with that mix of professional affection that he had always employed, so it stood to reason that he should continue with his habit.

Ah, he wasn't kidding anyone. 'Carter' was who she was to him. In spite of the way his feelings for her had grown since they'd met, and they both had admitted to feeling more for each other than they ought, given their military positions, he'd had so much trouble calling her 'Sam' that she had finally given up on him, and allowed him to continue calling her 'Carter.' For 'Carter' was who she had always been to him, his smart, delightful, sexy, charming, wife.

Jack smiled; God, he like the sound of calling her his wife! He even liked the thought of that! His... Shit!

Jack jumped up from the deck chair he'd been sitting in, raced inside, and down the hall so that he could grab his jacket and keys from the tiny hall table, and head out to his truck. Only 0930... He'd remembered just in... He had plenty of time to purchase two gold wedding bands if he hurried downtown...

Three hours later, Jack arrived back home, one band nestled in a box in his pocket, the other already glinting in the sunlight that splashed his left fingers to yellow... And the ringing phone intruded into the quiet the second he opened the door.

It was his cell phone, the one he had placed discreetly in his pocket that morning to days before... When he and Sam had embarked on a mission together that had started the ball rolling on this strange, odd, and... well, weird... marriage of his. Yet, he was still smiling every time he even thought about his second marriage. He and Sam had 'talked' at the fireside on 138's night rotation... And something had happened... Their working relationship had somehow changed into something more personal... It wasn't romantic, yet, in spite of those feelings he'd always carried for Sam in his heart, and that she held for him.

No, their relationship certainly wasn't a romantic one, but now they were just as certainly more than professional colleagues to each other. The whole thing would have confused him, if not for the fact that he was smiling every time he even thought of the SGC, because thinking about the SGC made him think about the colleagues he did have... The friends on his team... And those thoughts inevitably led him around to thinking about Sam... Hence, the usual grin then showed up on his face. In fact, he'd been smiling an awful lot this morning...

And, now he was going to be bothered by one of the typical personnel at the SGC...

Or not, he thought to himself. The number on his phone told him that the call had originated in Sam's lab... She might be the one calling him, and that was hardly 'typical.'

O'Neill, he said, thinking that if the caller did turn out to be Carter, she now shared his last name, and that thought made him smile so big that his cheeks hurt.

Hi, it's me, came the first thing he heard over the phone line. She didn't introduce herself by name, but then, she didn't have to. He would know that voice anywhere.

Carter, he instantly chastised. What are you doing at the SGC? We're on downtime right now... You know, to figure things out, and... Time off to come to terms as to what, exactly, their marriage might mean... Two weeks of free time to come to terms with their feelings for each other, or to decide that theirs would be a marriage of convenience, or... Actually, so that, if they decided against convenience, and opted for a more typical marriage, it would give Sam time to pack up her things, to sell her house, time for the both of them to get used to living together...

But he was jumping the gun a bit. Right now, at the outset of this strange union that they found themselves in, they were still living very much apart, still had their own separate things, their own separate houses...

Sam's voice interrupted Jack's thoughts. I know we're on downtime, and I had every intention of just running in here to grab some work that I had going before... She paused, cleared her throat. Before 138...

And? Jack prompted, in order to circumvent the nervousness he heard in her voice, and that he was sharing. When she didn't say anything more, he said, You have to know by now that no one just runs down to the SGC, grabs some files, then leaves, especially not you, our resident 'Gate expert, and brain... He loved talking about her known intelligence. It made him feel somehow... special... that, in spite of all those brains she had, she had still chosen to fall for him... As if anyone could just choose who they were going to fall for... Jack grimaced at the truth of his idea.

Then, there was the sound of Sam's heavier breathing on the line. Sorry... What did you say? I was talking to Daniel... He came in to ask some question about... She paused, then admitted, About some boring technical thing, actually. But, I'm all yours now, honest...

Jack grinned, and couldn't help saying, I know you are.

Sam grinned back... Jack could hear her gesture in the words she next asked, Is that a rhetorical comment? Or are you talking about what I think you're talking about?

It was tacitly understood between them that they wouldn't let the marriage interfere with the work they had to accomplish together... Therefore, it was as if the marriage... almost... didn't exist when they were together at work. Jack would be a bit disheartened by this knowledge if Sam hadn't grabbed his hand on their way to signing the President's dispensation in the Briefing Room yesterday before their downtime was to officially begin. He couldn't help himself... He grinned at the memory...

When he had collected himself more, he inquired, What's up? 'Cause I assume that something is up... Unless your just calling me to be calling me?

Sam was smiling again... Jack could hear it... I did want to call you sometime today... Honest! she protested. Just to talk... But, you're right... I didn't get in and out of the SGC with no problems this morning...

Told ya that would happen, Jack declared.

Sam paused at the interruption to her thoughts. Then, she blurted, Jack, it's pretty bad...

He loved it that she called him 'Jack' now... What's bad? he asked. It can't be as bad as you think it is...

It's worse, she direly predicted. I'm sorry, Jack, but my Dad's here...

Jacob?

He's the only Dad I have, Sam tried to joke.

What's so awful about him being here in Colorado? Jack asked. I've always enjoyed your Dad's visits before...

Sam sighed. It's not just that he's here... Okay, I'll start at the beginning, and explain... She paused to reorient her thoughts. You and I got back yesterday morning. Dad was still sleeping, and then I left the base with you for lunch... That was fun, by the way... But I didn't know that my Dad was here, then... He had come to the SGC the day before, while we were on our mission... General Hammond let slip what the mission was for...

Oh... Jack was silent, too, then he asked, Is Jacob gonna kick my ass now, or something? Because you've both told me in the past that no one is the right man for you... Ever.... I think Jacob's words were something describing someone who had to be a sanctified priest, or something, and I know that I don't even come close to that...

Sam's chuckle at his comment cut him off. No, you're not a priest... At least, not that I know of... You're not invested, are you?

No, and it's not gonna happen, either, Jack told her. But what did happen?

You're not going to believe this... Dad sat all day, to get used to the idea of us being married... Of me being married... To anybody... And, then, when we got home yesterday morning, he was asleep, then he was in Hammond's office, calling Mark... This is why I didn't know he was on base...

Mark? Jack asked quizzically. What did he call your brother for?

Sam sighed over the phone. To tell him that I got married.

Jack liked the sound of that... Even if he knew that she had gotten married in a very odd way!

But Sam was going on, And now, Mark and his family want to meet you, of course, and no one wants to wait until Christmas, and... They're all flying out here this weekend from San Diego just to gawk at you, to see if you measure up... Which no one can because no one will ever be good enough for me, according to Dad and Mark...

They're coming here? Jack asked.

Yep, Sam answered. My good old Dad... Had to open his big mouth...

Hey, now, you're talking about my Dad, too, Jack joked.

Ha, ha... I'd laugh, Jack, but I can't find the humor in this situation. I mean, Mark's entire family is coming out just to stare at you... God, that's gotta drive you nuts!

Jack smiled. Actually, I think it drives you more nuts than it drives me. His laugh didn't set her quite at ease... He hated not seeing the expressions on her face, and judging by them what she was thinking. Hey, Carter, listen... I've got something to give you, and while you're here...

Yeah? she noted, perking up. What is it? A present?

Not telling, Jack said. You gotta drive from the SGC straight to my house, then you'll get your... thing... and we'll talk about who's gawking at who this weekend.

Sam sighed, but asked, You're sure, now? I won't be disturbing you and anybody... Will I?

Ah, checking up on him... Jack felt a secret thrill snake up his spine when he thought that he even had anybody to check up on him, now... Actually, he liked being checked up on quite a bit... That anybody cared enough to be interested about what he was doing at the time... Yeah, Carter, he said, not quite able to stop his habitual sarcasm. I have three girls standing in my coat closet right now. He wondered if he even knew three different girls?

Sam laughed. I know by your sarcastic voice that you don't have anybody there right now...

Only because I'm a married man, he said. Have been for about... oh... He looked at his watch. Thirty-nine hours, now.

That comment sent Sam into gales of laughter, which made Jack unashamedly beam at the phone. When he could, he went on, Why don't you come over here... We can grab something to eat... Whatever's in the fridge... And then you can tell me what's really happening this weekend?

Okay, Sam said. But I warn you, no matter what we decide to do, if Mark's family comes this weekend, be prepared to be stared at...

Get your butt over here, Jack playfully ordered. Or the first thing out of my mouth will be to tell them what a spoils sport you are at winning at armwrestling...

You let me win! Sam declared. So, naturally, I had to play it up big to get you back for letting me win at anything...

Is that a 'yes, I'll see you in a few minutes?' Jack asked, choosing to ignore her diatribe.

Sam's smile was coming through the line again. Yes, she said. I'll see you in a few. Bye.

Jack grinned at their banter. Bye. He clicked his phone shut, cutting off their connection. Then he stood in his hall for the next five minutes, just thinking, a stupid grin on his face.

Yep, his and Sam's relationship had definitely changed. That had been the most oddly intimate phone conversation they had ever shared. And though they weren't romantically involved, yet, in spite of their marriage, they were somehow more than the friends that they had been before.

Weird.

But Jack kept grinning, in spite or his thoughts.

* * *

The knock sounded on his front door ten minutes later. Jack rushed down the hall from his living room to pull the door open.

Sam stood in the warming air of early afternoon. Hi! she exclaimed.

Hi, yourself! Jack exclaimed back, then pulled her bodily through his door, and shut it behind her.

What's going on? Sam inquired immediately.

First, Jack explained, I have really nosy neighbors who try their best to stare in my front windows to see who's here. Want to give them something to watch?

Sam gave a shrug. Sure, but I don't... She was going to tell him that she didn't exactly know what he had in mind, but a second later, she didn't have to; she knew what he was talking about.

Jack had leaned down towards her, then stopped about an inch from her face, a grin on his own lips. She couldn't help but smile back at him. He rubbed her cheek in an unprecedented show of affection, whispered, Hi, beautiful.

Sam grinned. No one's ever told me that I'm... well... what you said. She kissed the end of his nose. For that, I think you deserve to give your neighbors a show they won't soon forget. Her grin dissolved into his smile as she closed the last inch between them, and, very gently, kissed him on the lips.

Without needing more encouragement than his answering feel against her own lips, she cradled his cheeks with her hands, and continued kissing him.

Then, her left hand slid around his shoulders to pull him closer to her, and the kiss wore on.

Then, her right hand joined her left to leave a trail of fire as she rubbed up and down his back. Her tongue darted out to ever so lightly slide along his. Jack audibly groaned, and wrapped his arms around her even tighter.

Carter wove her fingers through delectably soft strands of his short, gray hair. She rubbed across the back of his head, and felt a similar caress on the back of her own blonde hair. The groan was hers this time. She felt his tongue against her own lips, and without even thinking about it, opened her mouth wide to his silent request. She felt the entire front of her body touching his, and the feel of it sent sparks to shiver down her spine...

The tip of her tongue touched the tip of his, and more sparks rushed south.

And the kiss wore on... and on... and on...

Oh, my... Holy.., she thought, hazy and feeling deliciously alive for the first time in a long time... She loved it.

And then, with as much gentleness as it had begun, the kiss ended.

Jack actually had to shake his head to rid himself of the fog that had fallen over his eyes. Wow, he appreciatively whispered. His voice was still low when he said, Double wow.

Sam still had him pulled tight against her, and she was breathing... She was breathing... No, she was gulping in air like she hadn't breathed for several long moments... Triple wow, she said into the crook of his neck, the spot where his shirt opened onto the warmth of his skin. His skin smelled... You smell good, she declared. She couldn't help but give him a little kiss on the open skin of his chest.

Wow, Carter, he said. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

The repetition made her giggle.

No giggling, Carter, he said, the habitual joke between them making him say the words before he'd even thought them through.

I should tell you now that I giggle every time I'm kissed, Sam told him, her own tongue running around her lips, still tasting him.

Want to giggle some more? Jack asked.

Sam responded with a definite, Oh, yeah!

His lips descended on hers before she got the last syllable of her words out. He sighed against her smooth skin, claiming what only two days before had been unclaimable. But his affection had been just as steady then as it was now...

Four minutes and twenty seconds later, Jack released her mouth by so gently pulling back...

Sam's eyes were still shut, and her head tilted back so that she could give him as easy access to her swollen lips as possible. She breathed in his smell as much as she could. Quadruple wow, she stated, giggled, smiled, and giggled again.

Open your eyes, Carter, Jack instructed.

Sam's eyes lifted slowly... and focused on the small, brushed velvet box he held before her blue gaze. There was just enough space between them to accommodate what was obviously a jewelry box, and his hand.

What..? Sam spluttered.

Open it, and find out, Jack said to her before she even had the chance to ask.

Sam eyed him suspiciously. Hoping that he hadn't bought her anything too expensive, she released him in order to take the box into her hands, opened it, and...

Inside, she found a single golden wedding band nestled into the slit carved into the box's tiny blue insert. Oh, God, Jack... She pulled the ring from its resting place. It's more beautiful than... She paused her words, feeling them pile up at the back of her throat. I don't know what to say.

I figured that we had better wear these, or someone could get the wrong idea about this marriage, Jack tried to explain. We don't want to be court-martialed. Here's mine. He held up his left hand for her to see the gold band circling his fourth finger. I wanted something that screamed to the world that I was taken.

Sam's eyes blurred for a second, and she blinked rapidly to force the tears in her eyes to clear away before they fell. But... No, I shouldn't mention that...

No secrets, Jack said. There's nothing you can't ask me, tell me, or mention, so go ahead...

Sam blushed when he said that, but she complied when she stated, Okay... I wanted to ask what about the ring you already have in your locker at the SGC, but then, I thought that maybe I shouldn't...

Carter, Jack firmly, but tenderly, said, That's a reminder to me of my first marriage... That ring will always be there, but I confess that I haven't even looked at it for years... Since not long after I met you...

Sam did cry a few tears when he whispered those words. Sorry, she muttered, embarrassed.

Jack's voice carved through the water falling from her eyes, I wanted something that was you without a doubt...

Me? Sam sniffed, and echoed, not understanding.

Look at the inside, Jack told her.

She tilted the ring so that it caught the sunlight slanting through the window beside the door. Framing the word 'Always,' something he had said to her several times over the years, were the 'Gate address for Abydos, and the address for Earth on the other side of the word. That was all, but that was more than enough. Jack.., Sam whispered. That is... She tried again, That's... She wanted to say that it was the most romantic thing she'd ever been given, but then, she thought that saying such a thing would be too obvious, and hence, too dumb, as she had never worn a wedding ring before, and she knew that he knew that, and... So, Sam just sighed, smiled, and slipped the ring onto her fourth finger. The ring fit, but was one size too big... But she decided not to mention that fact to him. She hugged him, then, as tightly as she could. Thank you, she breathed into his ear. Any more words would have been inadequate.

My pleasure. Jack responded to her embrace by giving her a hug of his own. Neither of them said anything more until the rumble in his stomach told them in no uncertain terms that food was as required as wedding rings.

Sam laughed, and released him. Jack's stomach rumbled again. I think that we should be thinking about lunch, and soon, she noted.

That brings me to the second thing I wanted to tell you, Jack said.

What's that? Sam asked.

Jack grinned at her. That since we just got back from a mission yesterday, and I forgot to buy groceries, there's nothing in my refrigerator except some moldy mashed potatoes that I don't even remember making... How does going out to eat sound to you?

I can't say that I mind right now, Sam told him.

Then going out it is. Come on... There's a nice little place just at the end of the road...

Do they serve hamburgers? Sam asked as they both pulled on their coats.

Yes, Jack answered. Why? Is that what you're going to order?

Don't tell anyone at the SGC, especially not my Dad... I swore when I was a teenager that I would hate hamburgers for my entire life, since he made them so often...

Jack grinned down at her, then ushered her out the door. As he locked his front door, he decided that he'd never felt more content than he felt right this minute...

Still shy, even with the wedding bands to connect them now, they headed out to his truck, and lunch... both grinning like idiots.

* * *

Later that afternoon, Sam felt more like an idiot than she ever had before. She certainly felt more highlighted than she ever had before. The image of a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, prepared to meet its maker, is what actually came to her mind.

Mark, can't you just leave well enough alone? she asked into the receiver of her phone, standing beside her living room sofa, speaking to her brother in the privacy of her home.

I just think this is one heck of a strange marriage, that's all, Mark commented. I mean, you aren't even living with the guy, and...

Mark, Sam testily replied, do you really want me to give up my house? Give me a break, will ya? I've been married for less than three days, and you want me to live like I've been married for...

A pounding on the front door cut her off. Look, Mark, I gotta go... There's someone at the door.

This conversation isn't over, yet, you know, Mark Carter said. I think...

Jack's nice enough to offer to have you and your family over for the entire afternoon on Saturday so that you can feel free to size him up, and all you can do is act like he's got some suspicious, hidden motive, she pointed out. I think he's being extremely understanding about the whole thing.

Yeah, Mark muttered. He's being too understanding.

The pounding came again, fortunately cutting him off.

Mark, I gotta go. I'll call you later tonight to get your flight information, and everything, promise. Until then, try not to be so irritating!

I'm just worried about my little sis, came the reply over the line.

Well, this little sis is darn thrilled about what's happened to her, and if I don't get the door, I think whoever's there is going to have an aneurysm or something... Bye. Sam rose from the couch, and put the receiver into it's cradle, then hurried over to the door, calling Coming! as she went.

Janet Fraiser greeted her when Sam opened the door, standing on the steps to her house.

I heard voices... You got company? Janet asked, peering beyond Sam's shoulder, and into the house.

Mark, Sam answered. On the phone, calling to check up on me in that unlovely way that he has.

Brothers, Janet declared with a shake of her head. I thought for a minute that the Colonel would be here with you. I don't want to interrupt, or...

Sam suddenly smiled what had become known as her million watt smile. It was as if the sun had come out that day. She said, He took me to lunch, and... Oh! Sam held up her left hand. He bought this for me, too. You should take a look.

Janet's cool fingers held Sam's as she inspected the new wedding band. Nice! she exclaimed over the new acquisition.

Read the inscription, Sam suggested. She removed the ring from her finger. Janet took it, and as she wandered over to one of the living room windows, Sam shut the door on the quickly cooling Spring air. She waited silently for Janet to read.

At last, the doctor said, I would have never pegged the Colonel as a closet romantic...

Don't you dare tell anyone, Sam demanded. He'd never let me live it down.

Janet kept studying the ring. This is a lot nicer ring than I had when I was married, that's for sure, she announced. After another minute of perusing, she handed back the ring. So, girlfriend, what's been happening?

That's the question of the century! Sam sarcastically thought, if thoughts could be sarcastic. With a shiver, Sam decided that she had been spending a little too much time with a certain sarcastic Colonel lately, but she wasn't entirely convinced that it was a bad thing. Sam ran a hand through her hair. What's been happening? she rhetorically asked. My Dad's in Colorado Springs... He found out about the marriage snafu we had. He then called my bother in San Diego, and now the whole family is coming to gawk at Jack on Saturday during the cookout he's having at his house... Can you and Cassie come? It would mean that Jack and I can at least have someone there for moral support. Sam gazed pleadingly at Janet. Please?

Janet blinked. 'Jack?' she echoed a bit incredulously. When did you start calling him that? she inquired. And your Dad's here? When did that happen?

Sam sighed. Jack and I both decided that 'Sir' was rather a formal thing to call my own husband... Sam shuddered at the comment she had just made. It's still so weird to be saying that!

Janet's hand went out to Sam's arm in warm support. Hey, give yourself some time to get used to all this! It's only been two days... Marriage is a big life change, after all.

Sam snorted. So was the kiss he gave me this afternoon.

Janet's eyebrow went up. The Colonel kissed you?

Sam nodded. Twice.

When Sam didn't add anything, Janet prodded, And? How was it?

Sam couldn't hold back her smile as she remembered. Nice, she said. It was... really... nice.

Nice, Janet repeated, staring at Sam. Then, she shook her head, and grinned. Okay, I've got to find out for myself what you two are really like together, after that little tidbit! Expect us both on Saturday... What time?

Sam's features wilted into a puddle of relief. Thanks, Jan, you won't regret this.

Or, at least, you won't, the doctor predicted. We'll be there.

At 1300... And, oh, Janet, can you pick up Daniel and Teal'c from the base on your way over? They're coming, too, and if they ride with you, they won't have to clog up Jack's driveway with all those extra cars.

Janet raised her brows again. 'Jack,' she thoughtfully said. This I gotta see...

* * *

Sam zipped out of her house on Friday afternoon on her way to pick up her Dad on base. She turned around from the door, and ran straight into Jack.

He caught her before she could fall into an embarrassing heap on the ground. Whoa! he exclaimed, a steadying hand on each of her arms. What's the rush?

Sam righted herself, then grinned. Hi, Sir! she said.

Jack held up his finger, but didn't even have to open his mouth before she was correcting herself.

I mean, Hi, Jack!

Carter, Jack observed. How will your brother take it if you call me 'Sir' for half the day tomorrow?

Sam giggled. He's already gonna boil you in oil... I don't see what more he can do to you if I call you 'Sir.'

Jack grimaced. Boil me in oil? I don't think I like the sound of that.

Sam hurried down her walk to her gate. I'm sorry... I'd love more than anything to stay and chat, but I'm late already to be picking up my Dad at the base, and then we're going to swing by the airport in Denver, and pick up Mark and his family...

They won't all fit in your car, ya know, he remarked. Want me to come with, and add a few more seats?

Sam smiled again; the airport was hardly a good place to meat family for the first time, especially with all the bustling people hanging around the place. That's all right.. Mark's going to rent a van... And besides, you don't need to be driving to the Denver airport to pick up my family members...

Jack shrugged. I don't mind, especially if you're going to be there, but if you were planning on spending time alone with your Dad, I totally understand...

Sam bit her lip. Actually... Jack peered at her questioningly. His look prompted her to continue. You're not doing anything this afternoon?

Talking to you, Jack conversationally stated. But I don't have any other plans, no. He stared at her. Why? You want me to referee between you and your Dad?

Sam sighed, then grinned at his remark. Dad, Mark...

Ah, the clash of the Carters, Jack said.

Something like that, Sam remarked. You would be great support...

Let's go, Jack affably said, and headed for his truck parked at the curb in front of her house.

Sam stared at him. When did you get to be so agreeable?

Don't tell the guys, or they'll take advantage of me, Jack instructed with a laugh. Then he shrugged. I don't know... I guess I'm just... happy.

His answer surprised Sam enough for her to raise her own brows at him. You are?

Jack nodded, and unlocked the front passenger door of his truck for her. You would make anybody happy.

Oh, Sam blurted. She didn't know what to say after such a nice compliment. Thanks.

Sure, Jack said. He went around the truck to the driver's side, and let himself in. It's the truth, too, ya know. He shrugged again. I would certainly never have predicted it... Then, he realized how his comment must have sounded to her, and added, About being happy, I mean... just don't tell anyone... They wouldn't believe you, anyway...

A moment went by as Jack steered the truck into the stream of traffic. Finally, Sam shyly smiled at him, too. I'm... happy... too, she admitted in a quiet voice as cars zoomed past as they made their way to the base.

Just as shy, Jack looked at her sitting in the passenger seat of his truck, and smiled.

* * *

Exuding happiness ended the minute that Sam spotted Jacob impatiently standing at the base's first guard gate, waiting for her.

She sighed. Told you I was gonna be late, she grumbled. Here goes nothing. She climbed out of the truck he'd parked next to the roadside curb, then watched as Jack started to move to join her. You do realize, don't you, that no matter what you do today, it won't be the right thing? she asked as they walked the few feet to the gate.

Jack smiled. So, if I kiss you, it will make me look like an old lecher. If I don't kiss you, it will make me look as affectionate as a rock.

Mischievously, Sam grinned. I always thought Daniel's rocks were very affectionate.

Don't I know it! Jack exclaimed. As he took her hand in his again, he was debating whether or not to grab Sam right in front of her Dad, and give her a quick kiss, since they weren't technically on base, yet, and large displays of affection weren't 'technically' prohibited. But he wasn't sure he would survive the attack that Jacob was sure to give him after that.

He and Sam moved to the sidewalk, and he was still deciding. One look at the twinge of disapproval that shot across Jacob's face was enough to stir up the devil in Jack, and make him lean heavily enough towards giving her a quick kiss, that he did give her a short brushing of his lips against her cheek. He then had the pleasure of watching Jacob grow red in the face as he picked up a small bag from where he had set it on the sidewalk.

Jacob glared at a smirking Jack. I'm trying to keep an open mind about this, but you're making it awfully hard.

Jack grinned his trademark grin, and waved at the man waiting on the walk. But I do so like to push your buttons Jacob, he told him. You're almost as much fun to rile up as Carter, here.

Jack! Sam exclaimed, a bit shocked at what Jack had just confessed, but laughing at the same time.

Jack still smiled as he moved to stow Jacob's bag in the back of the truck. I'll be good, promise.

You better, Sam said, Or I'll kick your ass!

That comment made Jack laugh, reminding him of what he had said to the personnel in the Control Room three days before, while he and Sam had been seeing about what provisions the Tolerans had made towards annulments.

But Jacob wasn't smiling. I don't know if I can live with this all the way to Denver and back, he admitted as he yanked open the door to the truck's rear seat, and climbed in beside his bag.

Get used to it, Dad, Sam advised. It'll probably be this way for a long time to come.

Jack, are you sleeping with my daughter? Jacob asked point blank as they joined the traffic headed towards Denver.

Dad! Sam objected, horrified.

But Jack was hardly phased by the question. You don't waste any time, do you, Jacob? he mildly inquired. Are all you Carters the same way?

But Jacob was not going to be distracted. Well?

Jack chuckled a laugh as Sam's face turned beet red. Jack quietly enjoyed the view of a scarlet Sam, and bent to answering Jacob's question. I don't think that's any of your business, really, Sir, he said over his shoulder to the back seat.

I'm her father! Jacob insisted. Of course it's my business!

But Jack was just as determined not to back down as Jacob was to stick to the subject. No, he repeated. That's for me and Carter to know about, not for her father.

Jacob's glare intensified. You better rephrase that comment, and rephrase it quick, or...

Did you sleep with your wife? Jack shot back, wondering if Jacob was enjoying his 'rephrasing' as much as he was.

That's none of your damned business! Jacob declared.

Precisely, Jack commented.

Oh. Jacob had been outmaneuvered in his interrogation, and he knew it. Well done, he commented.

Thank you, Jack stated in the same mild voice he'd been using for the entire conversation.

Sam glared at both men. Are you guys done embarrassing me, yet?

Jacob answered. Just helping him practice for the interview that Mark is sure to give him on the way home, he stated, matching Jack's mild tone. He turned to the younger man, and suggested, If I were you, I'd ask Mark to ride along with us on the way back to Colorado Springs, just so that he can ask his questions without embarrassing you in front of everybody.

Good idea, Jack said, while Sam just groaned.

This is gonna be a fun weekend, she sardonically predicted, and groaned again.

* * *

Mark's entire family was already waiting at the gate when the two Air Force personnel, and one retired General, arrived. Mark's mood matched their apparent abandonment, and he was understandably cool when he greeted his sister and father. Then, he turned to Jack. You're older than I thought you would be.

Before Jack had the chance to answer, Sam spoke. Trying to ignore her brother's obvious hostility about the 'marriage' situation, she said, Sorry we're late. She tried to be cheerful when she kissed the entire family.

Trying to do too much, as usual? the man inquired sardonically of his sister, and Jack assumed that it was Mark who was speaking. However, he didn't know if he cared very much for the tone the man was using with his wife.

Sam just rolled her eyes, as if she were used to this kind of behavior. You know me, Mark, she noncommittally said. Then, she indicated Jack. Everybody... This is my husband, Jack, the guy you've come all this way to stare at all weekend. Sam turned towards him. Jack, this is Mark, whom you've heard so much about over the years, his wife, Andrea, and their two kids, Nathan, and Jessica.

Jack held out his hand, and smiled, particularly when he remembered that Mark's behavior was strikingly similar to his own occasional pouting sprees. The comparison made him feel much more tolerant towards Mark than he had a moment before. Nice to meet you, he said, and grasped Mark's hand in a handshake. In actuality, Jack moved from the guilt he felt at behaving a lot like a kid in the past, to being thrilled at what Sam had just called him. He could have been shaking the tail end of a Goa'uld, and not known it. He shook hands with the others, as well, and even had enough presence of mind to ask both Nathan and Jessica how old they were. But when they each answered twelve and ten, respectively, he was still so flummoxed that he instantly forgot the numbers they told him.

Jack was so dazed that Sam pulled him aside while Jacob was asking Mark and the others how their flight had been to inquire, Is everything all right? Her voice sounded low, and concerned.

Jack suddenly turned his dazzling smile on her, and exclaimed, Couldn't be better! Then, in a much softer voice, added, Keep calling me that, and I'll become putty at your feet faster than even Daniel can make a comment!

Sam studied him with a slightly befuddled expression on her face, clearly relieved that he hadn't suddenly been taken over by an alien virus, or something even worse. Putty... is that a good thing, or a bad thing? she asked.

Jack grinned. Oh, good, definitely good! he enthused.

Sam smiled back, though her gesture was a bit more tentative than his. Okay... Jack, she shyly added. They were still smiling, and stealing peeks at each other as they moved away from the gate as one, big group.

They all headed towards the baggage claim area, and Jack found himself undergoing a quick, though subtle, grilling by his new sister-in-law, Andrea. Jack, I hear that you're in the Air Force as well as Sam?

Yes, I'm a Colonel. Carter and I... we work together, Jack replied, his smile only slipping for a moment when he irrationally feared a reprimand for telling them who he has was and the realities of his and Carter's working relationship.

On the other side of Andrea, Mark scowled. I heard you're a lot closer than just work related colleagues.

Mark! Andrea hissed at his not-nearly-as-subtle comment.

But Jack's eyebrows just rose to his graying hairline as he glanced at Mark. You could say that, I suppose. I'm her Commanding Officer.

Andrea spoke then, scrunching up her face in question. But, isn't being married to a Commanding Officer against the rules, or something?

Jack nervously cleared his throat, and answered, Yeah... technically... But since Carter and I sort of... married by mistake... the President made everything all right for us with what's called... He couldn't remember the name of the document that he and Sam had signed the day before. He turned to Sam. What's it called? he asked. Something about a special... something.

Sam's smile was both irritated and affectionate. A special dispensation, she immediately answered.

Jack snapped his fingers. That's it! he said. Knew you would know, he went on to tell her.

But Andrea was peering at them both with widened eyes. The President? she squeaked. Of the United States?

Uh... Yeah, Sam nodded, clearly wishing that they were discussing anything else. That's him.

Sam had opened her mouth to go on, probably to change the subject, when she was cut off by her nephew wondering, Did you get to meet him, or anything?

Sam grinned. No, nothing like that.

Jack finished for her. But he did write up that dispensation thing, which we both signed, so I guess you could say that we sort of met him. Or, at least, we met his stationary.

Nathan's face took on a look of amazement. Wow! he exclaimed reverently. That is so neat!

But Mark obviously didn't think it was 'neat' at all. You said that you got married only because of a mistake... What's that all about?

Suddenly Jacob laughed, the gesture sounding easy and relaxed. Give them a break, Mark! he said. You sound like I did when I found out.

His comment made Andrea laugh, but the scowl etched deeper lines onto Mark's face. All I want is a simple explanation, Dad! he objected. I don't see what's so wrong... or so strange... about that!

Sam laughed as well, only the sound of her gesture was more forced than her father's. It's all right; I don't blame Mark at all for wanting to know. I'd be curious if I were him, too. She regarded him as they reached the baggage carousel and stood, patiently waiting for the family's luggage to appear. As they waited, she explained. Jack and I were conducting... business... for the Air Force in a foreign country, where, among other things, we didn't know much about the customs of the area we were visiting.

Carter tripped, and I took hold of her hand to save her from a bath in a puddle, Jack added, sounding tired of the entire subject, now, but remembering to stick to the cover story that General Hammond had devised the day before.

Sam wanly smiled at her brother's family, and nodded. Yeah, that's about it, she said. Nothing too exciting, really.

You got to see the President for that? Nathan inquired, as if he were disappointed in the whole affair.

Sam looked like she wanted to explain more, but Jack said to Nathan, You got that wrong on purpose, didn't you? Only we're not fooled! You know that we didn't get to see him.

Ah, you're as quick as my teacher! Nathan complained as he grabbed at an overstuffed blue suitcase.

Nah! Jack negated. I've just been listening to Carter for so long... I mean, your Aunt Sam... I've learned to pick up a few things here and there.

That's when the quieter Jessica broke into the conversation. How come you keep calling her 'Carter?' That's so weird!

Jessica! Andrea admonished.

But Jack wasn't phased by that question, either. No, it's all right. It's a good question, really. And deserves a good answer. Then, Jack grinned down at her. Too bad I don't have a good reason to give you. I just started calling her by her last name because everybody does that in the military... right, Jacob?

Sure, Jacob quickly agreed. And we've all been in the service plenty long enough for habits to form.

Nathan scrunched up his nose. Then, how come you don't call Grandpa by his last name? he asked.

They all laughed, and Jack looked slightly sheepish as he replied, Because when I met him, Jacob was already retired. It was only later that he became a consultant, and started to travel for the Air Force. And has anybody ever told you that you ask too many questions?

That query made Jessica laugh. All the time, right, Nate? Remember, he's quick, and you can't fool him!

Then, Andrea halted the teasing conversation by yanking on Mark's arm. Grab that suitcase, quick, before it gets away and we have to wait for it to come around again! She pointed at the brown suitcase that she meant, just now coming into sight.

Mark reached for the case, and nearly got his arm yanked off for his troubles. Ouch! he yelped.

Where is Janet Fraiser when we need her, Jacob nonchalantly joked.

Jack quickly retaliated with the statement, He only needs her if he wants to be poked with really big needles!

When Andrea looked at them in confusion, Sam explained, She's a friend from work, a doctor... You'll meet her tomorrow.

Rubbing his shoulder, with a foul mood now to match his aching arm and scowling expression, Mark frowned even more. He said, Well, it still seems a bit weird to me, getting married just because you don't know the customs of a foreign country.

Jacob chimed in. Didn't they have provisions set up in case this kind of thing happened someday?

Sam rolled her eyes. Listen, you guys, we looked into annulments, all right...

And they wouldn't give you one? Mark incredulously asked.

Looking irritated now, Sam sighed, and ran her hand through her hair, indignant. Mark, for the sake of propriety, we looked into it. But I'm just as glad that they couldn't do anything for us... Can you drop it now, all right? You are starting to be as suspicious as Dad.

Hey! Jacob exclaimed. I'm not that bad!

That's not what I meant.., Sam began.

Jack interrupted her. Stop while you're ahead, Carter. That's my advice.

Jessica smiled. Go, Aunt Sam! There are already too many boys to pick on me in this family. It's great for someone to get a good one in on them every now and then.

They all laughed, but Andrea got distracted again when another of the suitcases slipped onto the carousel. Grab it, Mark!

As the Carters did their collective best to rescue the case from the conveyer belt, Jack pulled Sam a few steps back from the group. You all right? he softly asked.

Sam took a deep breath, and sighed. Yeah. Or I will be, as soon as this nightmare weekend ends.

Can I ask you something? Jack inquired instead of responding to her comment.

Sam rolled her eyes. It was an expression that Jack was very familiar with. Jack, aren't you asking questions already?

Jack helplessly shrugged. Well... He stopped himself, then asked, Did you mean it... what you said a few minutes ago... about being glad we couldn't get an annulment?

The question took Sam a little by surprise, but once she got over her shock that he'd felt like he had to ask in the first place, she gave a shy smile, and admitted, Yeah, I think... yeah.

Smiling then, his own gesture matching hers, Jack muttered, Curious... Just curious.

* * *

When they reached the parking lot of the car rental agency to pick up the van for the California Carters... (Jack kind of liked the sound of that... It had a nice alliterative ring to it...), Jack decided that he should be the first to invite Mark to ride with he, Sam, and Jacob back to Colorado Springs. You can interrogate me to your heart's content, he added.

Mark's brows rose. That's an idea that has merit.

It's a terrible idea! Andrea exclaimed. Jack, do you realize what he might ask you? She was clearly horrified at the thought of her husband being turned loose on a new family member.

But Jack just as clearly thought it was still a good idea. Yeah, he may ask me all those embarrassing questions that I would rather not answer, but this way, he can do it where no one who doesn't already know certain things can hear, and I won't be so embarrassed!

Andrea's forehead wrinkled. Well, okay, she reluctantly agreed. If you're sure?

Mark had to intervene, then. Andrea, he joked, You sound like you don't trust me, or something.

Suddenly, Jack smiled. If he's too awful, I'll just turn Carter loose on him.

Andrea laughed again. I still say you're crazy... but it's fine with me if you go crazy together!

Nathan and Jessica instantly vocalized their objections. But Jack has such a cool truck, and we won't even get to ride in it! Nathan complained.

Yeah! Jessica seconded.

Jack was ready for that concept, too. You'll get a ride even if we have to take the truck out special, and waste the gas to do it.

That promise seemed to appease the younger Carters, for they climbed into the van with a minimum of fuss, leaving the adults to amble over to the truck together.

Jack unlocked the doors, they climbed in, and were off. The minute they were heading back to Colorado Springs, Mark started his first question. Jack, have you got enough money for two?

Mark! Sam was already embarrassed enough for both her and Jack combined.

Carter, you just visit with your Dad, and ignore us, Jack advised. It won't be so bad. He glanced again at Mark, sitting beside him in the front passenger seat so that he could be sure to hear better.

Mark shot an appreciative look in Jack's direction.

Sam must have listened to Jack's advice, because she just shrugged, then turned away from Jack towards Jacob.

But that left Jack to answer all of Mark's questions alone. I have more than enough money, he said to Mark. And so does Carter, for that matter.

You guys gonna share money, or what? was Mark's next inquiry.

Jack gripped the steering wheel tighter as his reaction to what he thought was a fairly personal question, but only said, We haven't had a chance to discuss that yet.

Okay... You gonna live together, or what?

Holding onto his temper, and being nice to Sam's only brother was harder than Jack had expected it to be. We haven't talked about that, either, he said.

Mark stared at Jack. Are you a Conservative, or Liberal?

Jack sighed, but held on tight to the wheel. Liberal.

You talked about kids, yet? Mark next inquired.

An image of Charlie with blood dripping off his fingers flashed through Jack's mind, and the thought of possibly having more children for him to fall in love with, only to be brutally ripped from him in a similar fashion, left him cold enough to sweat and grow dizzy. Only the feel of Sam's hand calmly brushing his elbow from the back seat saved him from being engulfed in the sensations. He sent her a grateful glance through the rearview mirror when he had better control of himself, only to find that she was deep in conversation with her father. But, she snuck him just one glance as they barreled down the road.

Well? Mark asked, and it was clear that he didn't know what his question might personally mean to whom he was asking it. Jack tried not to be too shaken when he cleared his throat and answered in a small voice, Um, no, we haven't had the opportunity to talk about that particular subject, yet, either.

Oblivious, Mark continued. Man, you haven't talked about much, have you?

Jack turned to look at him, and the scowl on his face grew even deeper. How can we talk about things that are basically private when we're busy going to a public airport, and toting you around?

Mark laughed at Jack's answer. You do have a good point there, Jack, he admitted.

Well, at least you know that I can think, Jack said, half complaining, and half justifying himself with his argument.

True, said Mark. He leaned back into the seat and said, Okay... Next question: Are you in love with Sam?

At that question, so innocently asked, but not so innocent in design, Jack shot another look towards the back seat via the truck's rear view mirror. He caught sight of Jacob immediately.

A hush had fallen over the cab. He could well imagine that those present very much wanted to hear the answer to this question, all for reasons of their own.

To Jacob, Jack asked his one question instead of replying to Mark. You planned this, didn't you? he asked. This is the special torture designed by Jacob Carter of all men who want to even approach his daughter.

Suddenly, Jacob grinned, his expression decidedly evil. And I didn't have to do a thing, he said.

It was a wholly aggravating plan, Jack decided with a grimace. But Mark was already continuing by prompting, Well? his impatience loud in the tone of his voice.

Jack gripped the steering wheel even tighter, and vowed to get Jacob back for this, but all he said right at the moment was a softly muttered, Yes. Maybe, that would shock everybody into silence for a moment!

Mark's eyebrows went up, but that was his only reaction to Jack's response, But his following question hit a little too close to Jack's own discomfort level to be answered. You sleeping with my sister? he blithely asked.

Jack glanced at Mark, at Jacob, and frowned, his face red, as much from fury as embarrassment. All right, this is getting a bit too personal! Jack exclaimed.

Mark only laughed again at the response he'd gotten out of Jack. I wondered how long it would take for you to crack, he said.

Not long! Jack clarified, the frown growing. Jacob only chuckled from his place in the back seat.

Jack's frown deepened; Sam had been right... it was going to be a long weekend!

* * *

Once at Sam's house, where the Carters had chosen to meet before heading off to find their hotel rooms, Jack left Sam at the door. Jacob was planning to stay the night with Sam, and spend time with his daughter, so Sam was obliged to remain at her house, for one more night, at least. It seemed that Mark's question about sleeping with his sister was a bit premature in the asking. It was a pity that its being premature hadn't stopped him asking his question, Jack groused to himself, though he didn't vocalize any misgivings to Sam when he and she stood quietly next to his truck to say their goodbyes for the day.

Thank you for ferrying around my family today, Sam said a tad formerly, falling back again on politeness to deal with her nervousness.

You're welcome, Jack said as sincerely as he was able, given the circumstances. Mark's question about sleeping arrangements was still ringing in his head, and talking about sleeping arrangements wasn't helping, either. You visit with your father tonight, and I'll see you tomorrow at the cookout, he said, then couldn't help but mutter, If your Dad lives to attend the cookout, that is.

Sam snorted. That's my Dad for you: sneaky and clever. Welcome to what I've been living with for... well, forever, come to think of it, Sam answered.

Jack didn't lean in for a goodbye kiss on her cheek, or any other kind of endearment. He was still too angry at Jacob to meet out any form of affection for a Carter. He figured it was better than giving in to his feelings and yelling at Sam, but that was a small consolation, he thought with a scowl.

Sam began to walk up her lawn towards her house then, but she abruptly turned before she had gone two steps. Jack? she said, stopping him.

Jack regarded her, and one startled look into her blue eyes was all it took for his anger to start melting away. Still, he wasn't able to do more than say, Yeah?

Sam looked as if she wished to ask something of him, but didn't quite know how to go about that asking. She stared at him, at the ground, at him, at the ground again, and finally took a deep breath, and blurted, What you said... The way you answered Mark...

Which time? Jack queried.

Sam stuffed her hands in her pockets, a sure sign for either of them that he or she was nervous as hell. Um...

Jack wanted to goad her into hurrying her asking up, as he had things to do before his house became Grand Central Station the following day, but he reminded himself that what her father and Mark had devised for his personal torture wasn't her doing. Heck, she hadn't even known about it until it was too late! So, he tried to rein in his shortness. Yeah? he asked in a softer voice.

The softness seemed to lend her the courage to finish her line of questioning. Um.., she began, still flustered. That bit about...

What is it, Carter? he asked.

Encouraged again by his voice, she went on, About... She squinted at him against the late afternoon sun, and inquired, That bit about how you feel... I know it's been years... but... was that the truth... still? she asked in a voice that grew smaller with every word.

The rest of the anger drained from Jack at her uttered question. Instantly, his own nerves started to jangle in his chest. Uh.., he tried to utter. Well... Then, he smiled into the afternoon light. Uh... Yeah. He glanced at Sam's face as she stood beside his truck. It's not exactly how I envisioned you being reminded of that, but... yeah, it is.

Sam stared at him for a moment. Thanks, she whispered so that he barely heard her. Thanks for being honest, she repeated.

Jack was caught by her magnetic blue gaze, something he had avoided doing for years, but now relished the feeling of the loss of control. He suddenly wished that he and Sam were alone, not standing in her yard, surrounded by her family. Sure, he found himself saying back in a low voice. Anytime.

With the precipitateness typical of the last hour, Sam's smile suddenly blazed out at him in a brusque change. Smiling enough to rival the sun, and melt his insides into a mess, Sam shyly told him, I think so, too. She studied him a second. I mean, I do... too. She turned suddenly, beating a hasty retreat into her yard, and to her congregated family.

Jack slowly returned to inside his truck. But, now, he was grinning large enough to rival the Stargate in size.

* * *

The cookout itself started on time But, it also started without Sam.

Jacob answered Jack's questioning look the second he climbed from her car. She got called in to the SGC right before we were supposed to leave to come here. She changed into that leather outfit that she has, and jumped on that motorcycle of hers, and headed off.

Without speaking a word to Jacob, Jack whipped out his cell phone, and dialed the SGC switchboard. Control Room, he requested just as the Mark Carter's van turned into his driveway, and rolled to a stop. Nathan and Jessica jumped out to stand beside Jacob, but Jack was only host enough to wave once at them in a vague manner. Just then, he heard the familiar voice of Walter Harriman answer the ringing phone.

Harriman, the man said.

It's O'Neill, Jack said, his voice short as it came over the phone line. I...

Walter didn't let him finish his statement. You don't need to come in, Colonel. There's something wrong with the dialing program, and Siler can't unravel the code that Major Carter left as part of her instructions in case we had problems with the program...

Another car pulled into Jack's driveway, and Janet, Cassie, Teal'c, and Daniel piled out onto his drive. Their concerned expressions immediately ratcheted up another notch when they noticed that Jack was on his cell phone, which meant that he was speaking to someone at the SGC, which usually meant that something was wrong at work.

But, Jack was ignoring everybody in lieu of who he was speaking to. You can have her for an hour, he said, congenially, he thought. She has her family here from California, so the Sam Carter fan club will have to take a back seat this time.

But, Colonel, Walter was protesting, You know how it always takes more than an hour to do anything with the computers, or...

But Jack was relentless. So prioritize, Walter, he suggested. Fix it so the... At the last second, he remembered who was listening to him, so he rephrased his comment. Just let her get it working, and the rest can stay broken until Monday.

But.., Walter was saying.

It's nonnegotiable! Jack said. One hour Walter.

She's not even here yet... Scratch that, Sir, Walter corrected himself. She just walked in... What the heck is she wearing?

Jack grinned at the man's amazed tone. What's wrong, Walter? Never heard of motorcycle leathers before? he asked.

Uh...

Just remember... One hour. Then Jack snapped the phone shut, severing the connection before Walter had any chance to protest. He looked up, into the faces of those surrounding him. Welcome, folks! he greeted, trying hard to at least sound cheerful, and not let his disappointment at not getting to see Sam show on his face. All the fun's around back, so after you... He gestured to the side of the house. Janet, show them.

Janet Fraiser shut her car door, and, after gaping for a second, said, This way for anybody looking forward to eating burned and undercooked burgers.

Daniel snorted, but dutifully followed.

It was Cassie who asked the question on everybody's mind. Where's Sam?

At work, Jack answered. But I took care of it. Just don't ever tell her... You know how stubborn she is about people interfering with her schedule...

Oh, so that was the reference to the Sam Carter fan club, Cassie said, and she looked relieved. For a minute there, I thought you had some competition.

Jack skewered her with his eyes for a moment, wondering how much she knew about the odd marriage that he and Sam were sharing. But, he scoffed, and said, Competition? Me? Never! That remark made Cassie laugh. Who could compete with me, anyway? he rhetorically inquired. He turned to Jacob. Don't answer that, he instructed, and Nathan laughed this time. Come on, Jack invited, following Janet to his back yard where the grill was located. The warm Spring air was as welcome as Jack was trying to be. We don't have to wait for Carter to eat... She wouldn't want us to wait for her, anyway. But Jack found himself wanting to do just that. In fact, he wanted to jump in his truck and run to the SGC, just so he could be close to her. He wasn't worried about the fan club members... He'd had to live with their drooling, and innuendos for years, after all, but that didn't mean he was all for sharing her among the general rabble, either.

Jack grinned on the outside, but on the inside, he was much more ruffled than he appeared.

* * *

Daniel met Sam an hour and ten minutes later as she pulled the cycle into Jack's driveway, and shut off the engine.

He's pretending to be fine, but we all know him better than that, Daniel reported before she'd even had the chance to climb off her bike.

Janet greeted her first as the two sidled slowly around the house. He has it bad, she remarked as her way of greeting her friend.

Real bad, said Cassie as she gave Sam a kiss on her cheek in hello.

Andrea leaned in, and gave her sister-in-law a hug. Got any pointers for Mark? she asked.

Uh.., Sam stuttered, but was cut off when the football game paused long enough for Jack to yell over to her.

Hey, Carter! he said. Got that computer fixed?

It's fixed enough for now! she yelled back.

Walter says 'Hey!' he called next.

I know, and I also know what you did... That wasn't necessary, but thanks!

Jack smiled a huge smile. Any day!

Then, Nathan lost his small amount of patience with his new family member, and yelled, Are we gonna play, or what!

See, Cassie noted. Like I said... Bad.

Sam argued, He just said 'Hi.'

Yeah, Cassie responded. And has he ever done that before? she asked.

Well.., Sam answered. Uh... no.

Just then, Jack called out again, Hey, Carter? Walter says that he loved seeing you in leather!

Cassie's eyebrows rose, but she didn't bother to say anything this time until Janet socked her on her arm, bringing the brows down. Cassie! she admonished.

Mom, I may be young, but I'm not stupid! Cassie exclaimed. And I think that's it's a good thing that Sam's taken, and taken by Uncle Jack. Then she turned to Sam before she could disappear into the house to change out of her 'leathers.' And he's been in such a good mood today... She eyed Sam speculatively. Wonder why? she asked nobody in particular.

Sam noticed the sparkle of mystery in Cassie's gaze. I have no idea, she said, then turned away.

But that wasn't entirely the truth, Sam admitted to herself, and smiled as she recalled the little scene she had shared with Jack the day before by his truck. She had thought of little else since yesterday, though, and the happy glow that had begun in her chest at that moment grew again for the millionth time. She grinned, then went in to change. And she smiled even more.

* * *

Sam was at Jack's house for exactly one hour before being called in to the SGC again. She was there just long enough to whisper to Jack that he looked as good in the sweat from playing football as he thought she looked in leather before she was back in those clothes, and was pulling on her motorcycle helmet. Nathan and Jessica had seen her bike before, but they thought it was 'neat' that their aunt was a cycle fiend. But then Sam had to go, and she roared away with a vision of a sweaty Jack still burned in her brain.

They didn't see her again for the rest of the afternoon. The Carters had to finally leave, and feed their cranky children supper, with a promise of a dip in the hotel pool as a reward for them. They left, with Jacob in tow, as he was planning on spending the night with Mark and his family that night.

Janet left soon after, taking Teal'c and Daniel with her, to be deposited at the Base, and Jack found his house empty for the first time all afternoon. But that wasn't exactly the way he wanted it to be.

Jack heard Sam's approach before he saw her out his front window about an hour later. He pulled open the door as she swung wearily off her bike. Everyone's already gone for dinner! he loudly stated to be heard over the last of the cycle's engine noise.

Sam turned off the engine, replaced her helmet in the back box, and said, I suspected as much. God, I'm sorry, Jack. I didn't mean for you to entertain my family all afternoon by yourself, she apologized.

Give me a kiss, and all will be forgiven, Jack suggested. Grinning, Sam bound forward to kiss him on the end of his nose. That's not exactly what I meant, Jack told her conversationally.

Sam grinned at him again in tired amusement. It was Janet's idea, she told him. She told me that Cassie suggested it. Hey, at least it's physical contact, she noted. I still can't get used to the idea that it's legal, and even expected!

I know. Jack smiled at her.

Sam took a deep breath. You smell like fresh, outside air... and grill, she said.

I should, Jack told her. I cooked, and then we played three games of tag football... Hey, Jessica is such a fast runner for a ten-year-old!

I wondered how well you'd like her, Sam noted. Since she's ten...

Jack nodded, and finished Sam's thought. And that was the same age Charlie was when he died.

I didn't say a word about that, you know, Sam said.

You didn't have to, Jack told her. Daniel mentioned it.

Daniel! Sam swore softly. Well, I guess it's our fault for not telling him to keep quiet on that score, she said. Then she peered at him in the slowly falling darkness. Jack, what do you think about having more kids someday? she quietly asked.

Um... Jack glanced up the drive. Maybe we should move this conversation inside...

They slipped into the house, out of the rapidly cooling air. Jack led the way to the living room, where a snapping fire greeted them. Cools off at night in here, was the only explanation he gave.

Sam studied him in speculation. Uh-huh, was all she said, as if she didn't entirely believe the excuse he had given.

Jack plopped down on his sofa, and Sam joined him. Well, he said, I'm not sharing you tonight, not even if the 'Gate explodes...

Jack! Sam said, protesting, and laughing at the same time.

We need to 'talk,' Jack explained in that quiet, serious way that he had.

Sam sighed, then leaned her head back to rest on the couch cushion. I suppose you're right.

Jack looked at her. You don't want to 'talk?' he asked.

Oh, no, I do! Sam protested. The idea of 'talking' just makes me a bit nervous, that's all, she admitted.

Well, here, Jack invited, holding out his arms so that she could snuggle into his side. It was a position that he knew she liked, as she had voluntarily adapted that position just two nights before, on Tolera. Feel better? he asked.

She placed her arms tentatively around his middle. Um... Yeah, she answered.

Feels weird, doesn't it? he asked after a quiet moment had gone by.

But very good, she said, and squeezed him just a bit tighter. Sam sighed in contentment.

Jack couldn't quite stop himself from kissing her on the top of her head. He ran his fingers down her hair, mussed from the bike helmet. Extremely, he said, his voice appreciative. Extremely nice.

Jack.., Sam started to say, but Jack was leaning in, and the next thing she knew, he was kissing her in a deep show of affection and fondness.

Sam's response to his gesture was quick. She placed both her hands on his cheeks, and drew him tighter to her side. When they parted in order to gulp in much needed air, she said, To hell with 'talking...' We'll 'talk' later.

Much later... Jack couldn't quite bring himself to believe that he was sitting on his couch, making out with Sam Carter. Then, he felt her hands snake under his shirt to touch his stomach, leaving a trail of fire along in their wake, and he could think of nothing but the fact that he was no longer making out with Sam Carter... He was making love to her. She moaned, and he moaned. He hadn't wanted to push her too fast, but it seemed that she was as ready for that 'next step' as he was.

I have been wanting this all day, she panted into his ear, and bit down ever so gently on his ear lobe. I love you too much to...

Whisper that to me again, he ordered.

Sam grinned into his neck. I love you, she obediently said.

Ah! sighed Jack. How many years have I been wanting to hear those words?

Probably as long as I've been waiting to say them, Sam told him.

The wait is over, he said. I love you, and need you, and I don't care one way or the other if we ever have any kids, but if you don't make love to me right now, I may explode before the 'Gate does.

That would be unfortunate, she paused long enough to say.

You sound like Teal'c, he noted, then kissed her shoulder after he'd unzipped her leather jacket and pushed up the t-shirt she was wearing underneath it. Walter isn't the only one who loves you in leather, he remarked.

I know, she said, her face flushed with passion now. She leaned in, and kissed him on his chest. He drew in a quick breath, and hissed in her ear.

Carter...

Jack...

There was a silent moment again as he kissed her, or she kissed him... They were too busy drinking from the other to do much more than to whisper nonsense to each other. This marriage is waaaaaaaaaay sweet, Jack proclaimed, and she grinned in between her kisses to his lips and chest.

Love me, Jack, Sam said. Love me like you've always wanted to. And let me love you...

How can I not? Jack ground through his teeth clenched against his raging desire. He wanted to move fast, but he tried to control his emotions so that he would move more slowly. Yet, this was what he'd wanted ever since yesterday afternoon, standing beside his truck... He had wanted Sam Carter, and the entire nation now proclaimed that his feelings were perfectly acceptable...

All right! he thought with a grin as big as the Stargate.

And he had Sam's own father to thank for it. How twisted and ironic was that?

Jack didn't know for sure that he cared. All he cared about was the fact that Sam Carter was in his arms, right where she had always been meant to be.

Sequel: Offworld


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