Disclaimer: Another story, another disclaimer... I'm starting to lose my creativity after so many stories. But here it is: I intend no copyright infringement, I don't own them... The only thing I own is the land my house is sitting on. Of course, by the time they're both paid for, I'll be too old to enjoy either of them.

Blue Moon Award Nominee

The Birthday Present

by Linda Bindner

Jack slowly sauntered down the corridor. He moved to the right so a group of three SFs could pass him going the other direction, then flattened himself against the wall to avoid being mowed down by a hospital gurney that a group of lab technicians were pushing to its final resting spot in the Infirmary. After the hallway cleared, he continued on his way in seeming nonchalance; he tried to look as unconcerned, as unhurried as possible, but it was hard.

It was really no secret that he was going to Carter's lab. He made this journey at approximately the same time every day. He didn't know when visiting Carter in her lab had become a habit, but it was one that he didn't mind being attributed to him. Of course, he wouldn't want anyone else to notice what he was doing so that they asked about this daily jaunt of his, but he didn't mind it becoming part of his routine, either, as long as it caught no one's particular attention.

And today Jack was smiling to himself as he recalled the birthday party he, Teal'c, and Jonas had thrown for Carter in the Commissary during lunch. They had collected her by walking as one big group into her lab, and Teal'c had said nothing while he'd gently scooped up a surprised Carter into his arms, and thrown her across his shoulder. Jack and Jonas had gotten a delightful view of her behind as she squealed, yelled, demanded, and finally ordered Teal'c to let her go. Of course, he ignored her demands, and once ensconced in the Commissary, she had been seated at the front of the room, in the place of honor, where she sat before a mountain of presents, and the four cups of blue jello, one for each member of the team, that had already been set out for lunch.

Now, several hours later, things were beginning to quiet down. Carter had been returned to her lab amidst many well-wishers, and Jack had been able to congratulate himself on not calling too much attention to Carter's birthday present. The motorcycle helmet he had given to her had been wrapped in its box, and had seemed innocent to everybody else. Only Carter had known that the circle painted on the helmet's side had been added by his own hand, symbolizing the Stargate that had forced them together that first time she had ever gone through it. He'd said nothing, and she'd said only a heartfelt 'Thank you,' but the wide smile that lit up her face was something that he would remember every day for the entire year to come.

And now, here he was, sauntering down the corridor on his way to see her again in her lab. The gurney was gone. The SFs were gone. The corridor was completely empty as he approached the open door of her lab. The emptiness of the corridor aided him in hearing Sam's voice as she talked to herself while she worked in her lab, a habit that he had noticed about two years before. Now, he could hear every word she muttered to herself in the quiet of her lab, the noise filtering out into the deserted corridor of the SGC, and on to Jack's ears as he stopped to lean against a wall, out of her sight, arrested as he was by the discord he was hearing.

Jack heard something slam onto the tabletop, and Sam's voice follow the sound. That's it! she said, her tone filled with disgust. God! she almost sobbed. I'm wearing black, and I'm wearing blue... I'm a damned walking bruise! she said to herself in further antipathy. My face is all red, it's my thirty-ninth birthday, and I'm living the life of a damned monk! Her irritation was growing in intensity, and carried out to Jack without any trouble as he leaned against the wall in the corridor outside her lab, listening while trying not to look like an eavesdropper.

The hallway remained empty, in spite of the way her voice carried. It was a good thing, as her next word was certainly not one she would have wished to broadcast around the base. Shit! she softly exclaimed to herself, her voice sounding gruff now, as if she were fighting off tears as well as a bad mood. This is always how it's gonna be as long as we both stay in the military, so suck it up, Carter! Just... Just get over it! A few seconds later, he could tell by the noise now issuing from her lab that she had forced herself to resume her work, and once more came the sounds of her lifting something from the tabletop, presumably, the object she'd earlier held in her hands. But she must have paused, for she heaved the saddest sigh that Jack had ever heard, muttered, Crap! then sighed a second time. She must have eventually started her work again, for that was the last sound Jack heard issue from the lab. The corridor filled up once more after it's unusual lull, and the sudden bustle of people made it impossible for him to hear more words, even if she were still muttering them into the air of her empty lab.

Jack leaned against the wall, too stunned to move as he watched with unseeing eyes the way the crowd surged in a steady rhythm around him. The sound of her disembodied voice echoed in his head, her words flowing through his mind over and over again. What repeated the most was, admittedly, her confession that she was living the life of a monk, and the sob that had accompanied that confession.

For a moment, the fear he felt washed over him, causing goose pimples to rise on his arms under his own BDUs. The drab, olive green material reminded him of her confession of looking like a human bruise, and he grimly smiled at nothing.

God, he thought to himself as he tried to breath with some semblance of normality. How can I keep doing this to her? How can I make her wait so that she... Damn!

Jack felt more fear slide over his senses, like an evil, slick, oily film filling his heart, and it squeezed tight until he was afraid his own sob would sound in the corridor.

He had to get away from here, had to think someplace in peace and quiet...

In something of a daze, Jack stumbled slowly in the opposite direction from her lab. His stealth, learned after years of fighting more enemies than most people could even imagine having, allowed him to slink away from her lab, and she never knew that he had been there at all.

* * *

Later that evening, an hour after Jack knew that Sam had left the SGC for home, he sat outside that home of hers in his silent truck, watching the house belonging to one of his best friends in all the world. She had obviously ordered something to eat for supper, for a delivery person hurried to her door. But the delivery girl never saw him as Carter answered the knock on her door, and paid for her food.

The girl hurried away, oblivious to his presence. Carter was about to shut the door on the falling darkness, but squinted through the gloom straight at the place he'd parked his truck beside the curb in front of her house. His head was lowered onto the steering wheel as he contemplated what he felt he had to say. Sam set the food on her hall table, then pulled the door shut behind her. She walked in curiosity across her own yard until she was standing in the street beside his driver's door.

Jack heard the sound of his truck door opening, and jerked upright just as she poked her head inside the cab, and touched his arm in tentative curiosity.

Colonel? she asked, and concern dripped from her voice. Sir? What are you doing out here? Is something wrong?

Jack blinked as he stared at her worried expression, thinking that even the fact that he had come to her house had been a stupid, impulsive decision on his part. Now that he was here, staring straight into those innocent, blue eyes of hers, he knew that he could never say the words that he had convinced himself that he needed to say to her. He had planned to tell her that he thought she should see other men, as he'd been considering all afternoon. But now that he was facing her, he found that he couldn't voice such cruel words. His heart shifted tightly inside his chest, and the pain he felt at the thought of her with someone else was almost unbearable, even though it was the only real decision either of them could make at this point in their lives.

It had been over a year since those damned Za'tarc tests that Anise had insisted on, thirteen months since Sam and Jack's confessed feelings for each other had become known. So much had happened in the meantime, that Jack often forgot his emotional divulgence in that room. But Sam's confession, even though it had been made under duress, had become everything to him since hearing of her feelings put into her own words.

Yet, he had to tell her that it would never work out between them, that the regulations were too much of a hurdle to ever get around. He had been repeating this order to inform her of his new decision all afternoon, but now that he was faced with saying the dreaded words, he found that he couldn't do it. So he just stared at her in a sense of helpless agony.

Sam studied him as he sat behind the steering wheel, a useless lump. Finally, he sighed, and gripped the wheel with his hands until his knuckles turned white. I'm sorry, he whispered.

This, of course, just confused Sam even more. For what? she gingerly inquired.

He was acting so strangely that she must have wondered if he were drunk. Um.., he said, trying to decide what to say. At last, he decided to tell her the truth. Carter, you know when you were in your lab after your birthday party? he requested that she remember.

Um... Yeah, she told him. I still don't know what you're getting at, though.

I'm trying to tell you, he told her in a testy tone. Much calmer, he went on, Do you recall what you said when you were... um... talking to yourself?

An expression of guarded understanding shot through her eyes. Yes, she hesitantly said.

I was in the corridor just outside your lab, and heard every word that you said, he told her. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but the corridor was empty, you were talking, and I just couldn't help it.

She huffed in surprise. You heard everything? she asked.

Jack looked down at the steering wheel so that he wouldn't have to see the hurt that he knew must be steeling across her features. Like I said, I didn't mean to hear any...

She interrupted him. Standing outside a...

Then, he interrupted her. You're right, I should have said something, or told you I was there. At least, I should have made some noise so that I wouldn't have heard what you said.

What I said was private! she exclaimed, glaring at him.

Jack didn't argue with her. You're right, he emphasized by repeating. Then he swung his legs towards her as if to get out of the truck, but remained on the seat, sitting sideways, facing her as she stood near the open truck door. But the fact is that I did overhear you, Jack went on. Perhaps I shouldn't have heard any of what you said to yourself...


Jack continued as if she hadn't interrupted. He knew that if he didn't vocalize what was on his mind right now, he would think twice about his desired proposal, and say nothing in the end. But the truth is, I can't change what happened, Carter, no matter how much I might want to. He went on in a hurried voice, I drove over here to try to tell you that I... He paused, and had to look down, and nervously clear his throat. When he was ready, he said, I... um... didn't want you living like a monk any longer, so if something better or... more immediate... comes along, that you should grab it with both hands, and go with it. But... Jack stared as her eyes grew wide in amazement that he would even make such a suggestion, and he didn't blame her for feeling that way. He had never voluntarily talked about the way he felt for her, or the way she felt for him. He hadn't even alluded to it in the past. Now he spoke of it as if he had been talking about his emotions for years. But, he said again, then looked down at his hands clasped in his lap. But... I couldn't do it, he admitted on a soft voice. The thought of you and anyone else... Jack was still staring down at his hands, and missed the expression of naked fear, followed by relief, that shot through Carter's eyes as he spoke about letting her be with someone else. He shook his head. It was just too much... To be without the idea that maybe, someday... He lifted his head, and stared at her again. So I came up with... with an alternate plan on the way over to your house. I was sitting out here, thinking it through one more time when you came out yourself to buy your supper...

I got Mexican, Sam told him on a whim of a thought that he might care, that it might matter. It wasn't important what she said, if she only talked enough to fill up the space so that he couldn't mention his first idea for her future again...

Mexican food.., Jack replied, considering. That sounds fairly good right now, I admit.

You said that you had another plan? Sam reminded him by asking, still hoping to keep him talking.

Jack sighed, and looked like he was trying to screw up his courage. I do, and I'm not giving myself much time to think about it, in case I think about it too much, and...

What is it? Sam inquired, cutting into his speech.

In response, Jack blurted, It's another birthday present... Then, calmer, he added, A birthday makes a good excuse, doesn't it? Sam remained silent, staring at him, so he continued, explaining, I'm offering one night... You... Me... Together... Sam stared at him some more, only this time her eyes grew to the the size of saucers. But she was speechless, for once in her life, shocked into silence. Encouraged, sort of, by her silence... (at least, she wasn't laughing him all the way to Denver...) Jack went on, I stay with you for one night... no strings attached, I swear... and you can at least think that you're not living like a monk anymore. Jack paused as Sam's eyes grew wider yet.

A silence so thick that they could cut it if they had wanted to engulfed them. He sat in his truck, regarding her, careful not to influence her decision to such an unprecedented proposal one way or another, and she continued to stare at him in wild amazement. Finally, she breathed in a shallow gulp of air, and whispered, You're kidding, right?

Jack shook his head. Happy Birthday, he said instead of answering her question.

Sam gazed at him out of suddenly deep blue eyes. No strings attached? she questioned in a whisper.

Jack nodded this time. None, I promise. Can I really do this? he asked himself then, but didn't ponder the question too deeply. Or, at all, actually. He was afraid that if he gave himself time to think about his suggestion, he would chicken out at the last minute. Instead, he looked at her hopefully this time, in spite of his determination not to influence her one way or the other.

One night? she ascertained.

One night, Jack firmly repeated. Then we go back to the way things were. He didn't confirm with himself that he could, or would want to, return to the hiding and denying that had been part of his and her daily life after a night spent alone with her. The idea was so scary to him that he pushed its eventuality to the back of his mind, promising to deal with it later.

You're kidding, she stated again in a whisper.

Dead serious, Jack negated.

Sam looked at her feet. After a quiet minute passed, she said, I need to think...

Ah! Jack cautioned her, one of his fingers in the air to stop her. This isn't a time to think, he said. You think too much as it is, I'm always saying, and it's true. Stop with the thinking for a minute. Just concentrate on what you want instead.

What I want? Sam echoed in a faint voice. She turned her head to look away, down the quiet street of early evening, but then stared at him again in palpable indecision. I don't know what I want.., she half whispered in motionless agony.

Jack went on gazing at her again, but didn't say any more.

Sam gave up on having this conversation outside, in the street, and encouraged him to her house, then. Let's take this inside... Um... I'll tell you then... um... Clearly befuddled, she turned away, and led him to her front door. She didn't even turn to see if he was following her.

He was. Though she hadn't heard his truck door shut, he had shut it quite firmly. He only had to wait for a second as she opened her house door, still studying the floor, obviously thinking as fast as she could, in spite of his cautionary words against thinking at all. She simply couldn't help her own nature to analyze every option that came her way...

Jack stood in her entryway, just beyond her place near the closed door. She remained motionless, her hand still on her doorknob, as she wrinkled and unwrinkled her pensive expression. He hung up the coat he had been wearing near the spot she had hung her own jacket, though it was only just cool enough for him to need a jacket to begin with. The warmth of her house still felt good on his chilly skin, he noticed when he turned back to regard her. Carter, you okay? Jack asked, getting worried when she continued to be so... speechless. Sam Carter was never speechless.

I'm probably going to regret this, Sam whispered as she stared at the floor. But I can't... Then she flew at him with such a burst of speed that he was almost surprised at her hasty decisiveness. I don't need time to think, she said, as she hugged him close, her voice muffled against the shirt he was wearing. I only want to feel... She looked up into his brown eyes. Even if I regret having to endure memories of this one night... Even if I know I shouldn't... Damn, I want this!

Sam sounded like she had made up her mind; she was more than determined to push away reality, for just that one night...

Oh, God, Sam, Jack whispered tragically into her shoulder. That's what I was hoping you'd say, I admit. He wrapped one hand around her waist, his other trembling as his heart started to race in his chest.

Jack, Sam whispered, her voice colored now with wonder, as if the film that she always peered through to hide from her own feelings was gone. For the first time, she was those feelings.

Love blazed out of their eyes, the careful restraint gone... Jack stared at Sam, Sam stared at Jack...

Then, in the next blink, he was kissing her, she was kissing him... It didn't matter what they individually thought on most days... It only mattered what they wanted right now. And right now...

Oh, Lord, Jack thought in a languid haze; Sam's hands were roaming under his shirt, crossing his stomach, making lazy circles on the skin of his chest. She nibbled at the wrinkle just under his ear lobe, driving him absolutely crazy with the tiny swish of her tongue as it stroked and teased him to the point of blissful agony.

Sam pushed with her hips on the hard swelling that strained against his pants, rubbing on him in the most exotic way that he had ever experienced. She continued to explore his face, then kissed him in a splendor of tempestuous emotions. A wave of desire washed through him, leaving him trembling, and feeling weak enough to be at her mercy. It happened so fast that his breath was sucked away, and he found that he couldn't say anything to her, so he groaned into the deep recesses of her opened mouth.

Sam had just enough air left to murmur, Jack, God Jack, please... She didn't finish her comment, so that Jack didn't know what she was begging him to do. He didn't quite care, either, as her tongue darted into his mouth, causing them both to groan again. I love you more than anything else in this whole world, Sam whispered into his ear when she could. You have to believe that...

Sam.., Jack interrupted her, his brain only marginally penetrating the desire soaking it. Sam... Oh, sweet Jesus, Sam, I... Then she was kissing him again, and pulling him down the hall to her bedroom, where she was far from apologetic as she removed every stitch of his and her clothing just prior to drawing him down to join her on the bed.

God, I love you, Sam, Jack whispered in her ear as she wasted no time in guiding him into her. She moaned, arched up into him, driving him to further emotional heights than he was already experiencing. She hissed in approval as he scraped against her skin, and all her secret places that he wanted to revel in.

It was fast, it was furious, it was wet, it was utterly amazing when, after only a few thrusts, he felt her tense, and mutter his given name in hushed tones, dripping with an emotional release so deep as to touch her soul. Jack felt himself plunge with her over the edge of sanity, felt his very being screw up in a pleasure that was almost painful. He was so replete with the sense of her that he could only grunt against the skin of her shoulder, and hang on as he experienced the hardest, most satisfying orgasm of his life.

He and Sam lay unmoving on the coverlet of her bed, both heaving in air, trying to recover some semblance of normalcy after so much intense emotion. It was a few moments later before Jack had regained enough strength to mutter, Wow.

That's what I was going to say, Sam whispered to him.

Jack rolled to the side, but didn't rise or move any further from her, as they were both still breathing in short bursts of air. Sam followed his movement by shifting to her side, then kissing his chest and neck in slow, indolent circles of obvious affection. Twinges shot straight down his spine at her gestures, and his hands automatically rubbed patterns into the skin of her back.

I don't think I've ever been this relaxed, Jack commented to her on a whisper of discovery, and went on with his cuddling.

Sam curled up close to his warm skin, reveling in his simple touch, and grinned. This was a good idea that you had, I admit.

To his personal horror, he giggled at her comment, which made her giggle at him... What did I say about giggling, Carter? he joked.

She grinned, and placed her cheek so that it would rub against his. You told me in not so many words that I should avoid it at all costs.

How right you are, Jack commented.

But Sam wasn't quite finished, and she went on, However, I seem to be having trouble with being so happy right this minute that not giggling doesn't appear to be an option. So I guess you're going to have to live with it.

Jack smiled as she grinned at him. I'll adjust, he said.

Sam smiled, giggled, and said, I always knew you could do it.

Jack sighed in appreciation. I can do anything when I'm with you.

Anything? she mischievously asked. Shall we make sure of that claim?

Whatever you request, Major, Jack teased. Tonight, I'm all yours.

Sam carefully regarded him. A person can accomplish amazing things in just a few hours, she thoughtfully said.

Wanna find out how amazing we are? Jack teasingly whispered.

Sam's grin slowly worked itself across her face. You bet! she exclaimed.

Jack's answering grin was lost when she tenderly kissed him again, lending him the irrefutable idea that she had more than just snuggling on her mind.

Sam giggled into the gloom descending on the room.

* * *

Jack woke slowly the next morning, an unusual experience for him. Typically, he was wide awake in seconds, hardly having moved much from the position in which he had gone to sleep. Now, however, he was lying almost diagonally across the bed, and something soft was currently pressed into his side. The warmth of the sun shining onto the bottom of the bed made his feet warmer than his head, though his entire body felt utterly relaxed, sated, and pulsing with heat. But the odd warmth of the sun caught his attention enough for him to finally force his eyes open in order to look at his surroundings.

A strange configuration of even stranger furniture greeted his eyes. It was obvious that the room he was in was not his bedroom. He always pulled his curtains across his window and this window was clearly naked of any coverings of any kind.

'Naked.' The word clued him in to the fact that he was completely naked, his skin rubbing much more enticingly than normal against the sheets. Jack looked to his right. A head burrowed itself into his side. A purely feminine sigh filled the room, and echoed off the walls.

That was when Jack remembered everything about where he was, and the night before. He was at Carter's, and they had made love so often during the dark hours of the night that they hadn't fallen asleep until the early hours of the morning. Only the fact that it was Saturday had saved them both from being embarrassingly late for work.

Carter... Sam... For just a moment, a smile crept across Jack's face to blaze out into the empty room, reflected back at him from a mirror hanging on the wall above her dresser in the corner. But the conditions of his being in her house, in her bedroom, in her bed, in the morning, totally naked, came surging into his mind the second he became more coherent. His subsequent sorrow crept through his chest at the idea that he would now have to leave her, as he had promised that he would, and they would need to return to the patterns of pretending and denial that they had established after the infamous Za'tarc tests.

Careful not to disturb her in any fashion, he brushed his lips across her hair. Her answer was to burrow even deeper under his arm, eyes still closed, and sigh once more. Jack also closed his eyes, trying to shut out the reality he himself had pledged the evening before. He wasn't ready to tear himself from her side, though he saw the necessity of it. He tried hard not to give in to the feeling of the tears that threatened to erupt in his chest.

Languidly, Sam began to blink after the few hours of sleep that she had received the night before, forcing the grit caused by the lack of sleep from her blue eyes. Very slowly, she grew aware of him, their situation, and their location. When she was fully awake enough to recall why he was in bed with her, and why she was burrowed into his side, she whipped her head up to stare at him.

Hi, Jack whispered to her, denying himself the good morning kiss he wanted to plant on her forehead. He didn't let himself touch her in any way, conscious of the parameters of the relationship he had promised the preceding night outside her house.

Jack, she said, her voice slurred with sleep, and completely enchanting to hear first thing in the morning.

Jack hardened his heart against the natural pull he felt at hearing those tones. Don't say anything, he instructed. I know I need to leave, and I'll...

Stay, she interrupted him, her voice cracking though the room.

Jack stared at her in surprise. What? he finally managed to croak.

I can't do this, she then negated with a slight shake of her head. She closed her eyes to shut out the regret she knew must be showing in her gaze. A quiet moment passed before she could look at him again. I said that I would probably regret the decision that I made last night, and I was right. She turned a suddenly beseeching gaze on him, unapologetic. I'm sorry... Well, no, I'm not, she admitted. And I know that you probably want to get out of here right away, but... The tears he had felt prick his eyes earlier ran down her cheeks, just two, making tracks that tugged at his heart until it swelled with emotion. I... With a quick movement, she buried her head in his shoulder. She shook.

Was she actually crying? Jack didn't think he had ever seen her cry, and for one panicked moment, he didn't know what to do in order to get her to stop. Then, in a blur, he knew instinctively what she needed. Hey, he soothingly whispered, his voice as soft as he could make it. I don't have to go right this minute...

Sam violently shook her head. No! She pressed even harder against his side. I don't want you to go at all! she sobbed. And I know that's totally against regulations, and so not what we agreed to last night, but... I can't do that!

Jack paused. Sam... I...

I'm sorry, Jack! she blurted. I know it's not what you expected to hear this morning, but can you please stay? Stay with me, stay here, stay...

You're joking, right? Jack asked. Any minute now you're going to tell me that you've changed your mind...

Never! Sam vehemently declared. I will never change my mind after last night! She sniffed against his shoulder. How could I? I love you too much to...

Jack suddenly drew her as close to his chest as he could, halting her protests. Sam! he said, as if her name were an explosion inside him. He closed his eyes again, relief flooding through his frame like the swell of an ocean. Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank... He had to stop, as his voice gave out at the last minute, and refused to work right. But he continued to clutch her body to his. He was even incapable of kissing her as he simply attempted to get his breathing under control. Oh, my God... I'm so relieved you think that way!

You are? she tentatively asked. Jack had never heard such an uncertain tone come from her. I know this isn't anything like what we agreed to, or...

Forget what we said! he ordered. Forget about everything!

They were quiet for another minute, broken only by her attempts to bring her crying under control as they held each other so tightly, it was as if they never wanted to let go. But at last Jack moved his head back to look at her.

Sam, he whispered. Do you know what it means if I stay?

She nodded.

In spite of her affirmative response, he continued, It means changing everything that we've sworn to uphold, going against Air Force regulations, a court-martial if we're ever caught... And you have so much more to lose in the long run than I do that...

Jack, she interrupted in a plaintive voice. I'm so tired of being alone! I know I'm asking you to risk a lot for me, even your career, but I can't be alone any more! She studied him again out of blue eyes tinged with sadness. I've already lost my career... I've decided that I can't keep up this farce any longer... I'm going to retire if...

Jack burst out a fast, Don't you dare!

But I can't pretend that I don't care about you any more! she wailed. It's so untrue that I...

Please don't leave me, Sam! Jack blurted, fear squeezing his heart. Not now! Not just as it's a possibility that this could be true!

Sam shook her head. I won't, unless the situation makes me! She brushed at the tears on her cheeks with a negligent swipe of her fingers.

Jack stared at her snuggled beside him. Are you serious? he asked in a small voice.

Sam nodded her head. I've never been so serious, she whispered.

Can you do what needs to be done, then? Jack breathed, barely daring to hope that he was hearing her right. Can you go against regulations, hide..?

Sam sniffled. I can do anything for you, Jack, as long as you stay with me.

Jack slowly shook his head. This is not even close to how I expected this deal to end...

But you'll stay? she entreated, sounding desperate.

Jack's sigh shot through the silence of the room. You bet I will, he finally promised into that sun-drenched Saturday silence. If you'll stay with me.

Sam smiled through her tears, enough to light up her eyes with emotion, and make them shine. Teal'c's wild horses couldn't drag me away! she exclaimed.

Jack wrapped her in his arms, embracing her tightly against his chest. He swore to himself that he would never let her go, no matter what happened in the years to come, she would always find a home in his heart. Another grateful sigh of hers split through the room, and he gathered her close to his heart. I'm yours, Sam, always, he whispered. Whatever it takes, I'm always yours.

The End

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