Disclaimer: Don't own nothin, and made no money off this fic. Plus, I have a headache. There is no justice in the universe. Do you suppose SG-1 would come by and save the world.. uh, galaxy... uh, universe... for me? Just askin.

A/N Fifth in the 'Relationship Series.'

Relationship Series - Wise Words from a Wise Man

by Linda Bindner

Jack, Sam said, a serious note in her voice as she closed her front door behind them. I want to talk about what happened today.

Jack tried to avoid her eyes in the dim light in her entry hall. Really? he asked. He hung up his coat on the provided hooks near the door as he went on to say, I can't imagine what you could possibly have to talk about. I mean, we went in, we got captured, we escaped, we kicked some major Goa'uld ass, then we went home. The end, do not pass 'Go,' do not collect 200 dollars...

Sam grimaced in his direction, and hung her coat next to his. She brushed his leather coat as she went by, noting how evenly it was hung on the hook he had installed himself by her door, and nearly smiled at the fact that it was hanging there at all.

What had it been? Six months? Nine? Sam had lost count, knowing only that June 12 was hers and Jack's one year anniversary, and that it was only two months away, now. It was near enough for her to start thinking about what gift she wanted to give him.

Not that her mind was on gift possibilities right at this moment. She was too irritated with him now to consider giving him a gift. She tried to hold her temper, and diplomatically said, No, I'm not wanting to talk about what we ultimately did today... But, actually... What I'm talking about is...

Jack cut her off as he crossed to the table and pulled out a chair. I know what you're talking about, so you don't have to say a word, he gruffly admitted, then sat down with a huge sigh, as if he felt glad to finally get off his feet. It had been a very rough day.

Sam regarded him with her hands on her hips. You ordered me to stay behind on that mother ship today so that I wouldn't go into a dangerous situation, didn't you?

Jack bristled the minute she spoke her words, but he made a huge effort, and reined in his natural sense of fear. That was a tactical decision that...

'Tactical,' my butt, Sam said, sounding almost kind in her commentary. You had me stay behind because you were concerned... Admit it...

He should know by now that it was impossible to do anything behind Sam Carter's back... All right! All right! Jack gave in with a wave of his hands. Geez, what do you want, to pull a confession through my nose, or what?

Sam sighed, an aggravated sound. Then she sighed again.

Jack spoke up before she could say anything. I just didn't want you to get hurt, or nothing.

Sam sighed for a third time. That's a noble sentiment to have, Jack, but we agreed months ago that attempting to keep the other one out of danger wouldn't be an issue with us. That you would have no preferences, that you would treat me just like Teal'c, or Daniel, or Feretti, or...

I get the picture! Jack exclaimed, a scowl of unhappiness at her correct commentary on his face. He looked into his lap to hide most of the expression from Sam. He didn't want to hurt her any more than he already had. After a silent moment, his breath hissed out between his teeth. It's just... He stopped to helplessly stare some more.

Sam wanted to prompt him by saying Just what? but she stayed silent, knowing that prompting him would do nothing but shut him down, and, then, he wouldn't say anything more. So, she waited quietly for him to gather his inner courage in order to continue.

At last, he wriggled his thumbs together, and screwed up his facial features. It's just that you mean so much to me, Sam, and the idea of sending you through that closed door and into a possible Goa'uld trap gave me the creeps, almost as if you might have become a sacrificial lamb, or something. And having you stay behind in that ring room was just...

I understand why you did it, Sam gently told him. But I was the best person on the team equipped to handle the information that was coming to us from my sensors, she said. I should have been the one to go first, not Teal'c.

Jack sighed again. Teal'c knows about Goa'uld vessels from when he was First Prime; You don't have that knowledge.

Which is why I use my sensing equipment in the first place, Sam argued.

But Teal'c just inherently knows that stuff, Jack argued back.

Sam sighed. Jack sighed.

She glared. You're not going to give in on this one, are you?

Sam, Jack began in a quiet vice full of a need to explain his actions earlier that day. He pulled her to him until she bumped his leg, needing to feel her physical presence against him as he prepared to spill his guts to her. Yeah, I thought about sending you into that room, he admitted. But we didn't really know what was in there waiting for us. All I had to go on was Teal'c's 'best guess.' And a 'best guess' just isn't good enough for me to risk the life that's by far the most precious to me right now. It would have been like... He thought for a moment for an appropriate comparison. Like me throwing Charlie into a lions' den. I didn't hold you back because of who you are, but I was scared of what I had the potential to lose. He sighed again, this time making it a sad sound. I'm sorry... It won't happen again...

Jack, Sam interrupted as she sat on his lap, We all know that it's possible that one of us won't be coming back every time we go through the Stargate.

Yeah, Jack said as he played disarmingly with a string hanging from the hem of Sam's shirt. And that simply terrifies me on my best days, ya know? he asked, not being doubtful at all, now.

Me too, Sam quietly confessed, thinking of her conversation with Janet a few weeks before, and what she had divulged in the safety of her friend's car. And I would never have guessed that you feel this way just from watching your behavior. You're always so cool..

But I'm not, Jack protested. I'm cool on the outside, but on the inside, I'm a mess. I constantly wonder if this mission is going to be 'the one,' or will we... you... live to fight another day. He hung his head. I guess this is why the frat regs exist to begin with... to stop this kind of worry from happening over and over again... He ran a hand through his hair. God, I'm a mess just thinking about it!

Sam laughed at his comment. Well, just so that you don't give me any special consideration, or anything...

But, how can I not? Jack softly inquired.

Sam sighed again. Well, at least you get to make all the big decisions, she pointed out. All I can do is sit there and see what happens. Talk about a passive existence! It's driving me nuts!

Jack stared up into her face. I never thought of it that way before, he said to her. You're not exactly the type of person to sit back, and let others take control of things, are you? But I suppose that's exactly what you have to do...

Day in, day out, mission after mission after mission.., Sam interjected. And I can never show how much worry it causes me. You just put yourself in harm's way without even thinking about it...

Sam, that's my job, Jack said.

I know, and I wouldn't have you changing jobs for anything, Sam negated. Then she sighed again. I just wish I didn't have to worry about you so much.

Were you worried before? Jack suddenly asked.

Sam turned to him. Huh?

A year ago, before that movie we went to, Jack clarified. Were you worried then?

Well, yeah, Sam said. But it seemed like it was more manageable worry back then.

The worry's no different now, Jack told her.

She looked as if she didn't believe him.

It's still pretty darned consuming, I bet, isn't it, though? he asked then.

Sam thought for a moment, then was forced to nod.

And what did you do about it then... before? Jack awkwardly asked her.

Sam blew out her breath. Well, I tried to just get through every mission that I could, and then I pampered myself afterwards until I relaxed enough to do the whole thing all over again.

You pampered yourself?

Yeah, Sam said. You know, hot baths, girl's night out, watched sappy movies until I cried at all out, that kinda thing.

Then how come you don't do that anymore? Jack asked.

Sam grinned. She kissed the end of his nose. Because I would rather stay in, now, if you know what I mean.

Jack grinned back. I do know what you mean, he said. But you might want to think about...

And that was when the front door suddenly opened, and Jacob stood in the rectangle of light, the sun at his back, perfectly highlighting him in the entryway.

Ohhhh, Sam noted at last. I take it I forgot to lock the front door again.

You might say that you forgot to do something, Jacob commented. He firmly shut the door, then locked it behind him. He turned back around. No, don't get up, he said when Jack and Sam started to rise to a standing position. That's not necessary.

It's not? Jack asked, wondering if Jacob then planned to beat him to a pulp in the chair he was already in, for obviously breaking regs by having his daughter sitting on his lap.

Jacob nodded towards the Colonel. He inclined his head in greeting. Jack, he said. Then added, Sam, almost as an afterthought.

Dad, Sam said. It appeared that they all knew each other... Then she wrinkled her brows. Dad, what are you doing here? Then, she did a double take, as if just then realizing how rude her words sounded. Not that you can't just drop by anytime you want to, but...

Jacob grimaced. Do you realize how hard it's been to catch you two in... He waved at them, taking in Jack's and Sam's locations. In a compromising position.., he added. Without giving you away to everybody in the entire SGC?

That rhetorical question caused both Jack and Sam to stare at him in dumbfounded shock.

So Jacob continued without waiting for an answer to his question. It's darned hard, that's what! he suddenly exclaimed. You two should get a reward for your professional behavior, or something. He stood beside the couch in the connecting living room/dining area, and regarded the two before him. Then he waved a hand, encompassing the both of them with his action. Well, how long has this been going on?

Jack and Sam were silent, then Sam asked, 'This?'

Jacob waved his hand again at them. Yeah, he said. The two of you... together, he added. I know that nothing happened when Anise was here doing her Za'tarc thing...

That was a moment when we were under duress, S... Jack started to say, but Jacob cut him off.

Oh, I know all that already, Jacob interrupted. Tell me something I don't know, he commanded, then.

Um.., Jack stuttered, then blurted. It's going to be a year in just a few more months... But... I don't suppose you want to hear something like that... He paused before he could say anything even more damaging.

Jacob's brows rose. I didn't know that, he said.

Sam piped up then, This isn't Jack's fault...

It's not? Jacob mildly inquired.

No, Sam went on, It's not. After we saw that Challenger movie together... She shrugged. Well, we talked.

A lot, Jack added.

Sam nodded. That's was a few days after the Za'tarc incident, and one thing led to another, and...

Jacob sighed. I really don't want to hear the gory details, he said.

We saw you at the theater during that movie, by the way, Sam informed.

Jacob looked briefly interested. You did? Sam nodded. Then how come I never saw you there? he asked.

Sam shrugged a little shrug. Because we were sitting behind you, and left before you did, about half way through.

Jacob looked surprised now. That was you? he asked, a bit incredulous.

We ate ice cream and talked instead of watching a movie, Sam told him.

Oh, Jacob finally said. At last, after thoroughly remembering that day of the movie for a moment, he moved to sit down in a chair across the table from Jack. He put his hands on the tabletop in front of him, and seriously regarded again the man holding his daughter on his lap, taking them both in with his gaze. This pleases me more than punch, ya know, he blandly commented then.

His blasť attitude surprised Jack so much that it spurred the Colonel to utter a broken, Wh... What? Excuse me?

On his lap, Sam was too bowled over to say anything at all.

Jacob went on, I've been listening to the rumors for years, by the way, and I was beginning to wonder if they would ever have a grain of truth in them...

Sam and Jack were still too astonished to say much of anything.

Too blown away that I know, and that I'm not killing either of you? Jacob pleasantly inquired. Good. That means you'll listen to what I have to say rather than interrupt me with stupid questions, comments, and things. Jacob drew in a deep breath. First... I don't have to tell you that, officially, I have to utterly despise what's obviously going on. Unofficially, I think it's about time, but I will deny saying that to mine or Selmak's dying breath. Second... Everybody knows what's going on, but nobody's saying anything, and it will never change, either, unless you start flaunting your relationship in their faces... Everyone only wants you to be happy. Third... Even George is willing to turn his eyes the other way... for the time being. Don't make him regret this decision. Fourth... And here Jacob turned to Jack, seriously glared at him, and said, If you don't make an honest woman out of my daughter after all this, I might actually have to harm you... With Selmak's help, if you follow me. Don't take this as a threat, but as a sincere promise. I only want what's best for Sam, and right now, that seems to be you... Though, God knows why... You have enough emotional baggage in your past for ten guys. But, I also know that you'll take excellent care of my little girl, and you'll make her happier than anybody else will. He studied the couple before him. Sam, this would make your mother mighty happy, because you're happy. He rose from the table, and started to wend his way to the front door. Oh. He turned just before he reached the front entry hall. And I was never here... Got it? With that, he left the house, crossing the yard to where he had parked Daniel's car in front of the house. He steered it into the stream of traffic around Sam's house as quietly as he had driven it out of the stream. Just as nonchalantly, he drove to Patterson Air Force base, said hello, and thanks, to a buddy who owed him one, and boarded a transport plane that was bound for somewhere in the Midwest that Jacob didn't want to know about, where he was going to borrow a car that his friend had arranged for him to borrow, drive around until he found a mail box, mail a letter that he already had prepared to mail in his jacket pocket, drive back to the landing field, where he would board another transport that would fly him back to Colorado, where he would arrive back at the SGC before anybody even knew he was gone. The entire trip would take about an afternoon, he figured.

Back at Sam's house, Jack and Sam could only stare in dumbfounded bewilderment at the closed front door. Neither of them was capable of saying a word. But, then, that's the way Jacob had planned for it to be.

It was probably the only time in their adult lives where either Jack or Sam could ever remember that he or she had been rendered speechless. And Jacob had not even had to club them over their heads to get their multiple attentions. Yep, it was a good day, a momentous day... A day of truth, where a Tok'ra actually did something good for two humans. And there were no casualties... Amazing...

Four days later, George Hammond received a letter postmarked Minot, North Dakota, and he briefly wondered who the heck he knew from North Dakota. Upon opening it, he found a one page letter with no greeting and no signature, and only the message:

As per our conversation August 27, 1999, the answer to your question is 'yes.' May God help us all.

That was it. Hammond carefully burned the letter and its envelope in his sink when he got home that night. According to anybody who was anybody in the U.S. government, the entire event never happened. Period.

Sequel: Celebration?


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