Disclaimer: I don't own them, as you know. Instead of making any money off this fic, I would rather be a poor, unpublished author, who only knows how to write for entertainment purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. (What is infringement, anyway? Legalese? Don't you wonder about things like this?)

A/N: Part 4 in the Marriage Series.


by Linda Bindner

Jack sat on the cabin's dock, in a lawn chair that he'd placed specifically so that he would be within touching distance of Sam, a fishing pole in his hand, a hat on his head, the warmth of an early Spring sun on his neck, and he sighed in contentment. Yeah, this is the life, he thought in utter delight. He couldn't restrain the smile that appeared on his face as he drew in his line to cast it one more time into his pond that held no fish.

Sam's voice came softly from his left. What are you smiling about?

Jack continued to smile. Oh, he eventually answered in a studied drawl. I'm thinking about so many things, I don't know where to begin.

Sam grinned, just because he was grinning. Like what? she asked. Tell me, and if you do, we can at least say that we did some talking on this trip, and not just what everybody else thinks we're doing.

Jack turned his grin on her. What if I say that is exactly what I'm thinking about, though?

Sam's grin continued to grow, adding to the blush that now stained her cheeks to a light red. I'd say... She paused her speech so that she could sigh as well, then look at him head on. Even though her voice and expression were shy, she put words to her thoughts, anyway. I'd say 'all right to that!'

Her comment caused Jack to do nothing but smile even wider. There's nothing wrong with that, you know, he pointed out.

No, she agreed. But I have to wonder if even General Hammond was thinking that very thing himself when we asked for another week of leave to come to Minnesota. We do need to talk about being married and all, but...

Jack couldn't stop his smile from splitting his face in two. But what a thing to include in that marriage talk! he said.

Sam smiled. You're impossible, she announced, a bit of fond irritation coloring her tone now.

But you love me anyway, Jack commented.

Sam looked at him for a second out of the corners of her eyes. I do, she gently told him. I know that you wonder why I do, though you've never said anything about it. She turned her head, then, to stare at him. I could ask the same thing about you, you know. She turned back to study the sun glinting off the water in the pond as she quickly went on, I don't have to question myself for a second, though. It's kind of like falling off a log... or breathing... It's as simple as that.

How did we get onto this subject? Jack wondered, but he was more than willing to discuss such a pleasant topic. He sighed, the sound turning sad at the last minute. I wasn't looking for this, you know, he told her, conversationally adding his thoughts to hers.

Neither was I, Sam divulged in a quiet voice. I wanted anything but another entanglement with a guy, she added.

We met right after that Jonas thing, didn't we? Jack asked.

Sam nodded, then grinned. I was so determined not to be bowled over by any of you in that meeting where we met that I might have turned on the toughness a little bit too much.

Oh, I don't know about that, Jack calmly told her. I thought you were cute right from the start.

Sam snorted. Yeah, cute for someone acting like a spoiled, irritating teenager. She heard Jack give a little laugh at the memory of that boardroom conversation between them, and stared at him incredulously. I can't believe that armwrestling comment I made! she groaned. I have to wonder why you didn't throw me out on my butt for insubordination after that!

You have a cute butt, Jack argued.

Sam rolled her eyes. Cute butt or not, I was totally astonished when you requested that I be assigned to SG-1. The last thing I anticipated was being made part of your team, especially considering I was a scientist... which you hated, and you made no bones about letting all of us know that.

Jack shrugged. Well, what can I say? he rhetorically inquired. I was an idiot at the time, he went on. I could hardly help myself... You were in the room, after all.

Sam looked as though she was having trouble believing his comment. No big deal, there, she said. I came, I shot off my mouth, we went, we kicked butt, we came back, end of story. Then, she grinned when she looked at him. Sort of, she added with an impishness to her smile.

Jack had to grin back at her. But that wasn't the end, he said. Not by a long shot, and I thank goodness for that, he added. They were silent, then, remembering, staring at the pond, feeling the sun on tired limbs, basking in the glow of acceptance, and genuine affection. Suddenly, Jack stared at her as she sat in her own lawn chair beside his. When was the exact moment you knew about me? he asked in a gentle, quiet tone.

When I knew that I was in love with you? Sam inquired, and Jack nodded. Sam blew out a gusty breath of a sigh. Promise not to laugh? she asked.

Jack would have promised her the moon if she just asked for it. You know I do, he said as added encouragement.

Sam blushed again, then. Okay, she reluctantly said. Just remember, you asked for it. She regarded him in speculation, then, and eventually told him. I knew about you before that meeting in the Briefing Room, she proclaimed. I had been reading reports about that first mission to Abydos for at least a year, and I had been working in the Stargate Program for years before that. She looked at him, her firmness in what she was saying growing by leaps and bounds. Part of me thought you were a macho idiot with a big bomb to blow up.

And that part of you would have been right, Jack said.

Sam still studied him out of her wide blue eyes. But another part of me was fascinated by a guy who could claim in one sentence that he hated scientists, then in another show his regret at Daniel's supposed death on an alien planet thousands of miles away.

Jack gazed at her in some astonishment as he finally comprehended what she was telling him. You mean that you loved me before you even met me?

Not loved, Sam corrected, and tossed her line into the lake one more time. But you definitely caught my attention. Enough to take my mind off the Jonas thing for awhile, at least, and there was very little that could do that, she admitted. By the time I finally got to meet you... I requested that assignment, by the way, and General Hammond moved my job from the Pentagon to Colorado Springs... She shrugged. Anyway, by then, I was already half way gone for a guy who pretended to hate scientists, but didn't, no matter what he said to the contrary at the time. When I found out that you had lied in your report, and Daniel was really alive and kicking... well, that pretty much clinched the deal, as far as I was concerned. She continued to gaze out over the water, as if she was embarrassed at what she was saying, but determined to say it, anyway. Anybody who could do that... I was totally gone by the time we got back from Abydos. The big problem for me was keeping it from everybody else, including you. She looked at him again. Apparently, I suck at that, she said, which made him laugh out loud in a short bark of surprise. Maybe you got a really rotten deal, she added. What good is a scientist who can't even keep the most basic of secrets?

Jack laughed again. Then he pulled his fishing line out of the water, set his pole aside on the dock beside his chair, and reached across the tiny amount of space separating them to link his fingers with hers as if he treasured what he was holding onto. I was glad about Daniel, you know, he said.

I knew about Daniel being alive before General Hammond told me that he was, by the way, Sam told him, surprising him again. Or, at least, I suspected it.

Jack gaped at her. You knew, he blurted inelegantly. How did you know? he asked.

Sam grinned. There wasn't any one thing, she said. But I'd read your report so many times, I could quote it when I wanted to. It wasn't much of a stretch for me to start wondering what you hadn't included in your report. So, I just wondered how I would have reacted in the same situation, wondered what had really happened on that planet. When I read about the girl named Sha're somehow connected to Daniel, I took it one step further, and wham, it hit me one night while I was lying in bed, thinking about it. But I never anticipated that he had married her, she said, Only that he and you had met her.

Wow, Jack commented, sounding blown over, now. It amazes me that your brain actually works that way, he added.

What? So analytically? she asked. You shouldn't really be so surprised, she went on. That's how scientists are, after all. Then, she wriggled around in her chair so that she ended up leaning her head comfortably on his shoulder. But what I didn't get is why you went to Abydos in the first place. Why go, taking that bomb with you? And why did you come back?

Jack sighed. He rested his head on top of her blonde hair, and sighed again. What the hell do you see in me? he inquired then, totally out of the blue.

What do you see in me? she echoed.

Are you kidding? he asked. You are one hot scientist! Sam giggled. Jack went on, I'm the envy of every man in the SGC.

Sam snorted a second time. 'The envy' my foot!

No, it's true, Jack tried to convince her. What do you think the guys on SG-2 were talking about a few days ago when I found them in the Control Room, then? he inquired. He amended, Well, it's not actually important to know exactly what they were saying... only that I'm one lucky guy, and why me when it could have been any one of them?

I hate to tell them that it was a lost cause before I even met any of them, Sam added. She reeled her line back in, then set her fishing pole to the left, beside her chair in a mirror action of what he had just done. Her voice indicated that she was simply reporting the boring facts of the situation, as unemotionally as could possibly be imagined. She shrugged again, and Jack felt the movement slide across his shoulder.

I let them know, Jack said. After I beat the crap out of one of them for even looking at you in the first place.

Sam laughed, aware at just his tone that he was teasing her. She took a breath, sighed, then changed the subject by asking, When did you know about me?

Jack squeezed his hand around her fingers. That's the question of the century, he stated with a sigh. It wasn't any one moment for me, either, he confessed at last. But I have to admit to an attraction right from the start. An attraction, he emphasized, But nothing I couldn't handle.

Lucky you, Sam blurted.

Jack laughed. Yeah, I had the luck of being the world's biggest liar, he said. I told myself that it was only a natural reaction to those big blue eyes of yours. The deprecation in his tone was unmistakable. I could tell myself whatever I wanted, though, he eventually admitted. I even managed to believe the lies myself for awhile, concentrated on feeling like I was being unfaithful to Sara. He squeezed her hand again when he mentioned his ex-wife's name so that she wouldn't automatically doubt what he was saying, and develop an unreasonable complex concerning Sara. But I knew, a few months after we met... Or I mean, I was forced to admit it to myself... He sighed again. Remember those Mongol people? The ones who kidnapped you right out of your tent?

Sam rolled her eyes. How can I forget? she asked him. That beating I got for trying to escape made me sore for days afterwards.

It's a good thing you didn't say anything about that until we got back, Jack conversationally went on. Or I would have acted first, and not cared for international relations, or that chief's pride, or anything... I'd have shot him in the head in a heartbeat, he related.

I know, she quietly said. Which is why I didn't say a word. Though, I convinced myself that it was Teal'c's reaction that worried me more than yours.

Jack smiled a bit grimly. Well, I was so worried about you that it made me forget about Charlie for the first time in a whole year. I felt guilty about that when I first realized what I had done, but I had to wonder about what could have made me act that way to begin with. That was when I first knew that I was in major trouble. I started calling you 'Carter' not long after that, trying to hide what I suspected I was feeling. The rest, as Daniel would say, is history.

Again, Sam was silent as she internalized his words, staring out over the water. Finally, she tried to blurt out the question that was on her mind. I'm thinking...

You do that too much, Jack cautioned her. But I wouldn't know what to do with you if you stopped.

Sam smiled against his sleeve. Yeah, you'd know that I was sick the minute I stop thinking about something, she said, sounding as unpolished to him as she ever had before, letting him know how little she had contemplated what she was saying to him.

Jack grinned, but only prodded, You were thinking?

Sam sighed then. Okay... I was thinking... Wondering, really...


Do you ever want to have kids again? she asked in a rush, not giving herself time to ponder what effect she was asking would have on him.

Jack stilled beside her. Finally, he carefully asked, Do you?

Well, Sam said, in a hurry to get passed her original question. I know that you don't exactly associate pleasant memories with this...

'Pleasant memories!' Jack sardonically laughed. You say it so politely, Samantha!

Sam lifted her head, and looked at him in faint astonishment. Hey, you called me by my name!

Jack gently took hold of her chin in his hand, and cupped his fingers around it as he looked into her eyes. He wrinkled his brow. So I did, he softly agreed, as if it wasn't a particularly momentous occasion. But, you know what? he asked, changing the subject again.

No, what? Sam encouraged.

Jack sighed thoughtfully, and ran his index finger across her chin. It was obvious by the expression on his face that he was still thinking about what he was going to say. One more exhaled breath of air, and he began, I've been thinking about kids ever since that night we spent on... whatever the hell that damned planet was called... Tolera.

Yeah? she asked, And?

Aaaaanddddd... Yeah, I'm thinking about it, I admit.

Just thinking about it? she questioned.

Jack shrugged. Thinking... about seeing you too big to look at your feet... taking care of another newborn kid who screams half the night, and won't go to sleep until you agree to read boring math equations to it... I shouldn't want to experience that, but I can't help it... I do.

Sam watched his eyes for several minutes, trying to gauge if he was telling her the truth, or only repeating what he thought she wanted to hear. Finally, she said, Might never happen, anyway, and we could be getting all worked up about nothing.

Maybe.., Jack admitted. Then, surprising her with the abruptness of his ability to change the theme of the conversation, asked his own question. Why did you break McKay's nose like you did?

Sam purse her lips, wrinkled her brow, and tried not to stare at him, but she couldn't help but look into his gaze when he held her head so gently, but firmly, in his grip. I.., she started to say.

The truth, Jack sang to her.

Sam peered at him, looking annoyed that he knew her so well that he would know she would attempt some fabrication right at first. She thought for a minute, then started to say, I couldn't quite help myself... It happened before I knew it, almost like I reacted on instinct...

What did he do that made you so mad in the first place? Jack asked.

Sam heaved a sigh. He didn't believe me when I told him about the... rather unusual... marriage that we had, seemed so disdainful... It seemed to me like what he said made the whole marriage thing sound so unreal... cheap... Sam shrugged her shoulders again. I didn't like that, and it certainly looked to me like he'd dropped my ring down the sink on purpose, and hitting him just... sort of... happened... after that.

It was clear by her tone that she was feeling contrite about the whole incident, wishing it hadn't happened in the first place. But she was going on, I didn't mean it, of course. But he was teasing me about asking me out for dinner, and I said I couldn't, he asked why, and that's when I showed him my ring, and...

Samantha, Jack interrupted her with an expression of astute gravity on his face, Is that ring really all that important to you, or something? 'Cause I can always get another if I have to. I mean, accidents happen, and...

Yeah, but that's my ring, Sam said, struggling to put words to a feeling that she didn't entirely understand, herself. I don't want anyone to not take this marriage bit as the real thing, because that's not how it is even though it may have started out that way, and...

You're rambling again, Jack stopped her.

Sam stopped, but shrugged her shoulders once more. I don't see it as anything but real, and I don't want anyone else to see it that way, either. I guess that's what I was thinking, and the way he was talking frustrated the hell out of me, and before I knew it, I...

Jack's forehead wrinkled. Has this happened to you before that time with McKay in your lab? he asked with sudden insight. Have you been getting attitude where you weren't expecting it?

Sam looked like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar; guilty. Some, she answered. I didn't think it bothered me any until I got the same spiel from McKay. I guess I just flipped out after that.

Ahhh. Jack nodded his head in understanding. Now I get it... And he looked like he really did 'get it' for the first time in a long time. Still staring at her, his gaze burning in intensity, he whispered, And what do you think?

That question surprised Sam; it seemed like such a simultaneously innocuous and personal thing for him to ask. She was only able to splutter at first, Well, I... um...

Jack was so close to her face now that she could smell his particular scent; coffee, after-shave, and masculinity, all rolled up into one enticing package. 'Cause you know what I think? he inquired. With a sharp flick, his gaze leapt from her eyes to her mouth, then back up again.

What? Sam asked, also in a whisper. Do you want me to punch him in the eye next time?

Jack grinned at her. That's a good idea, he suggested. But you better wait 'till I have the chance to... His next words were cut off when she took the initiative, and kissed him too deeply to give the effect that she was just pretending. Sam deepened the kiss, and there was no doubt left in Jack's mind as to exactly the way she felt about him.

His lips felt arm, and soft, and delectable.

Jack smiled when she released him just a fraction so that she could catch a breath of air. He said, Oh, yeah, this is soooo worth a broken nose or two...

Or three.., Sam said before kissing him again, leaning over the arms of the lawn chairs so that she could haul him as close as possible. Her hand wrapped around the back of his neck was equally as encouraging to keep him close.

Oh, yeah, he thought. This marriage stuff is so way underrated! But, he took a moment to rear back and look straight at her once what she had said had infiltrated his consciousness. You mean there are other people's noses that you've broken? he asked in incredulity.

Sam looked a bit guilty. Well, have you ever heard of the fan club that I seem to have..?

* * *

A week later, when Jack and Sam had returned to the SGC, they walked into the 'Gate Room, fully prepared for their first mission as two single team members, and one married couple. General Hammond was momentarily engaged as he spoke to Sergeant Harriman as they stood beside the dialing computer in the Control Room. Daniel and Teal'c were quietly discussing the objective of their coming mission when Jack and Sam, a very noticeably married couple, entered through the blast door leading to the corridor and the elevators, holding hands, teasing each other, and huge smiles on their faces. They simply exuded 'taken' to the others in the room. Sam leaned up towards Jack for just a second, and whispered something to him that made him laugh hard enough to wipe tears out of the corners of his eyes. Sam giggled at the effect she was having on the Colonel, and swung their arms for a few swings that unintentionally captured everybody's attention.

Teal'c glanced over at his two team mates, and commented, It appears as if Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter were able to come to some sort of an agreement with each other during their time spent in Minnesota.

Daniel glanced at the married couple who were oblivious to everybody else in the 'Gate Room. He grimaced, and said, Makes me think of Sha're.

Teal'c added, And it causes me to ponder all that has happened between Dre'yac and I over the last few years. They were silent as Jack and Sam approached, then dropped their hands in order to lift their weapons into a position of battle readiness in preparation for their scheduled trip through the 'Gate. However, they continued their conversation as if nothing had interrupted it. The sight made even Teal'c sigh, and say, It is quite enough to make one ill... Do you concur, DanielJackson?

Daniel had to cover his grimace at the last minute so that neither Jack nor Sam could see it. Oooooh, Daniel heartily said, I concur, Teal'c... Definitely concur.

Sequel: Reality Bites

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