About Disclaimer: I don't own them. I made no money on this story. I never make any money for my fanfiction stories, so I'm about as broke as a fanfiction writer can get... So why is it that I always end up buying more junk at Amazon.com? The things that make you go 'Hmmmm.'
The sun was just slipping over the horizon, reflected in the still waters of the lake, as Sam Carter settled with a contented sigh into the lawn chair situated next to General O'Neill's chair on his dock at his cabin in Minnesota. She blinked her slightly sleepy eyes, then looked around with a studied air of indifference that was hiding her sense of rabid curiosity. But she was still trying to appear as uninterested as possible. Beside her, she noticed that Jack, in turn, noticed her piercing stare that was taking in everything about their surroundings. There was the cabin, the deck, the dock, the lake, the way the cabin's smooth lawn sort of tumbled down a small hill to disappear smoothly into the waters of the lake, the canoe resting against the side of the house... It was such an idyllic scene that it was almost unreal... Except that Sam knew for a fact that it was all very real.
General O'Neill had been trying to get Sam to agree to a fishing trip with him for... For years, Sam guessed. For at least as long as she had known him, she imagined. Though the last few months while she had been engaged to Pete Shanahan had seen a dimming of that wish, she had finally agreed to join him and Sg-1 at his cabin two days after she broke the engagement, probably as a reaction to that very engagement of hers. It was her way of saying that she was sorry for possibly hurting Jack's feelings with her attempt at 'finding a normal life' that her engagement had really represented.
The thing was, she had only recently realized that she would never be 'normal,' that she actually preferred not having what everyone thought she should want. The two point five kids and the house in the suburbs, the one surrounded by a white picket fence, was an image that would never be realized by her, thank goodness. Her sense of relief at this subsequent 'dream loss' was more potent than the image of the 'dream reality' had ever been for her. That's where Pete had totally gotten her personality wrong; He had tried to give her what he thought she should want rather than taking the time to find out what she did actually want. The fact that she had pretended for him as much as for everybody else as to what she truly desired was part of the eventual problem. Poor Pete never had a chance against that true reality she wished for herself. However, the idea that she wanted something different out of life than what she was supposed to want had occurred to her as she stared at the beautiful, but generic, house that Pete had bought for her, and that he, as well as the rest of society, thought she must inherently desire.
But she really wanted nothing to do with 'normal.' She somehow realized this at the last possible moment. Had she simply asked, General O'Neill could have told her that he instinctively knew that she didn't want this image of the perfect life that Pete was trying to convince her to accept. But she never asked, and hence, almost capitulated to the worst nightmare that she could ever imagine.
But, she realized almost immediately, this rustic cabin of Jack's, located in the wilds of Minnesota, was actually where she belonged. Another contented sigh tore from her throat, and Jack glanced over at her, a smug smile on his face as he settled beside her in his own lawn chair placed sturdily on his dock leading into his lake.
Told you this was a nice place, he nonchalantly
commented as he got situated with his legs stretched before him
on the wooden dock. He put aside his fishing pole, as she had
done and simply gazed out at the sunrise reflected in the lake
water, and smiled.
Nice?! she half exclaimed, half whispered; It
wouldn't do for her to wake Daniel and Teal'c with a louder
exclamation, as they were still asleep in the cabin. Any sane
person would have to be still asleep at this unearthly early hour
in the morning. But Sam Carter knew that she wasn't the sanest
person in the world, and she was seated next to the second most
insane person on the planet. They had to both be lacking in
sanity to be 'fishing' at such an early hour as they were.
Except that they weren't fishing. They were just staring at
each other in that contented way they had that said that all was
again on kilter in their world. She started speaking once more
as she watched the sparkles on the lake.
You can hardly
classify something as breathtaking as this place of yours as
simply 'nice.' That's almost an insulting understatement,
she announced, her voice still hushed in the early morning
Jack glanced at her out of the corners of his eyes. He
asked himself if she wasn't being a bit..? He breathed a sharp
breath of air as he tried to pinpoint what his former 2IC was
Isn't saying that it's a beautiful place a bit of an
exaggeration, Carter? he asked.
Sam stared at him in turn.
I don't think so, she
lightly argued with him.
This place must be the best kept
secret in the country, if you don't mind me saying so.
No, of course, I don't mind you saying
so. And thanks for the nice compliment, there. He shifted
in his lawn chair so that he was facing her at a better angle.
But I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised by your
reaction... Only Charlie loved this place as much the first time
he saw it.
I didn't mean to remind you of...
Jack interrupted her.
You didn't remind me of anything.
Besides, he told her in a confessional tone.
hurt to be reminded of something like that anymore. It's a...
nice... thing that you already like my cabin as much as you
It is? she asked, then shook her head, and asked
I mean, you're sure? I don't want to...
Carter, Jack cut off her apology before she had the
chance to voice her feelings on the subject.
really. He looked at her once more.
It's kind of...
well... pleasant... actually, he divulged.
I'm glad that
you like it so well.
Sam studied him for another moment.
If you insist...
that I should like it so well.., she doubtfully added.
I do, he said right away, and glanced at her.
Then, all right, she softly said, still studying him,
looking at his features for any hint of the sadness that she
expected to find, as any mention of the son he had lost
inevitably caused a degree of sadness and guilt in him. She
didn't see any, however, so she quickly went on,
On the other
hand, it is rather an unusually early hour to be dragged
out of bed just to go fishing, she jokingly pointed out.
But this is the best time to fish! Jack exclaimed,
defending himself and his actions.
To fish in a pond that has no fish, Sam teasingly
Jack appeared wounded.
Something tells me that you don't
find this venture 'appropriately interesting', he lilted.
On the contrary, she objected.
I find it very
interesting. In fact... And she turned more towards him as
I'm glad that we have this quiet time to talk.
Talk? He seemed mystified.
What do you have that
you want to talk about? he asked, then his voice turned much
more concerned, yet teasing her at the same time.
about work, please! he said, in case that was what she wanted
to discuss. He hurriedly added,
This is a vacation... Work
talk is prohibited!
I know, I know, Sam assured him.
That's why you
said that I should pack 'no computer' and 'no cell phone,' like
you, she dutifully recited.
I understand that. Yet,
in a softer aside, added,
Though I don't see how the head of
the SGC can allow himself to be completely out of touch
Okay, okay, I have my cell phone in my pocket right
now, he admitted readily enough.
I happen to agree with
you that there should be at least one way to contact me. But I
told Walter that if he called me, it had to be that an emergency
of astronomical proportions was sure to happen, such as the world
exploding. If it was just the dumb 'Gate breaking down, all
teams are to report to the Alpha Site until our return.
Sounds like a sensible plan to me, she
Jack could hear the word 'Sir' hanging on the air between
them, but she didn't say it. He suddenly realized with a start
that she hadn't called him 'Sir' all morning. Of course, she
hadn't called him 'Jack,' either, but he wasn't going to push his
luck this early in the morning.
So, what's on your mind,
Carter? he inquired in a light tone.
And no mention of
work, remember, he warned.
No doohickey problems.
Sam was still grinning at what he had said. He knew her
well if he expected her to bring up 'doohickey' complaints. But
she wanted to talk about something totally non work related this
Work's not what I want to talk about... She
paused, trying to draw in a fortifying breath.
What, no doohickeys? he teased.
Sam still grinned.
No doohickeys, I promise, she
Sam started to squirm uncomfortably in her chair.
Jack grinned at her apparent discomfort.
Out with it,
Carter! I so rarely get to see you this... discombobulated...
Yeah, I guess that's the right word, he added.
discombobulated that you really have my curiosity up now. What's
got you so agitated if whatever it is isn't work related?
She couldn't believe she was about to mention to him what
was on her mind to mention. Actually, she couldn't believe what
she had already done, but... There was no turning back, now.
Determined, she hesitantly went on,
I know this is a bit
uncharacteristic, almost obsessive, of me, I admit, but...
Please, just listen, and be patient.
Jack's grin began to slide off his face at her serious tone.
I'm all ears, he assured.
Her features lightened at his words.
Um, I think I told
you about the house that Pete bought for us...
His face shuttered the minute she mentioned Pete's name.
I'm not sure this is the right time for me to hear.., he
began. He started to rise from his chair. The mention of the
name of the man Sam had promised to marry always unnerved
Sam put a hand on his arm to keep him in the chair next to
hers on the dock.
Please, you have to listen...
Jack grumbled a good deal, but resumed his seat, and waited for her to continue.
I know this isn't what you want to hear.., she
excused. She hung her head, and spoke to the leg of her jeans.
But, please.., she begged.
Jack had so so rarely heard Sam Carter beg for anything that
her tone instantly captured his attention.
All right, I'll
listen, he promised.
Though I can't say that I want to
So Sam went on in a hurry, lest he change his mind again.
Pete showed me the house he bought without consulting me
first... I hated it right away, but pretended that I liked it,
since he seemed so determined that I should like it. It seemed
to make him happy to think that I was happy. She softly
Even though I wasn't.
This information piqued Jack's interest right away. He sat up a little straighter in his chair, his eyes trained directly on her now. It was clear to anybody watching him that he hadn't been expecting Sam to confess what she was currently divulging.
She went on.
I... um... pretended... That's it.
She snuck looks at him through her lashes. Encouraged by the
rapt attention he was paying to her now, she forced herself to
Then, before I went to your house that day last
week, we stopped at a jewelry store that was on the way back, and
looked at wedding rings... And, I... um... She paused
again, looking out over the lake water, as if the reflected sun
gave her the courage to try to hesitantly say,
Her tone prompted him to interrupt.
Carter? he gently asked.
She blushed, played her fingers across her leg, and heaved a
I know that it's pretty ridiculous.., she
started to say. She sighed again as he patiently waited for her
to go on.
We... um... wandered around for awhile. I was
supposed to be looking at wedding rings for... well, you know...
and I was, sort of...
'Sort of?' Jack questioned, his voice still
impossibly gentle, drawing her out.
Yeah, she told him.
I was looking at wedding
sets, and I even found one that I really liked, but...
But... She looked guilty now.
That set that I
found wasn't for me and Pete, she admitted all in a rush.
It... um... it was for me and you.
The look on his face transformed to one of surprise,
followed swiftly by fondness, followed by a much more neutral
expression that was meant to cover him up his regard for her.
Sam didn't blame him for covering up his feelings like he
did. She shrugged.
Yeah. I... um... didn't tell Pete, of
course, but... The next thing I knew, I was sitting in my car,
in your driveway, trying to pluck up my nerve to...
Jack sighed, sounding regretful now.
And then I... and
Yeah, Sam said, just as regretful.
I was at your
house first... and then Dad died... And I didn't think about
those rings until the night of the funeral...
Jack started to say,
You don't have to tell me...
Sam held up a quieting hand.
Jack instantly subsided.
Mark and his family left for the airport
in Denver the next morning... And I broke with Pete later that
day, in spite of the guilt I knew I would feel...
Guilt? Jack questioned her.
Sam snuck another glance at him.
Yeah... I knew that I
would feel some guilt for what I felt I had to do... I
mean, I could never marry him if I was still busy thinking about
you in that way, but that doesn't mean I don't feel badly
Jack stared down at the water of his lake then, intently
studying his own jeans.
I have a confession to make, and now
seems to be the right time to make it, he admitted.
Sam smiled, thinking that any confession General Jack
O'Neill had to make was worse, according to him, than it actually
was. Contrary to his own opinion, he was the most noble man she
had ever known.
Okay, out with it then, she teasingly
Jack appeared completely uncomfortable, but determined to go
I... um... I... Finally, he admitted,
that SG-1 met at Daniel's house to take care of Osiris, and we
ran into... that guy friend of yours... He was just as
determined not to say Pete's name as he was to tell her his news.
I... um... He took anotherbreath before he could go on.
After Hammond granted him clearance so that he could be
treated in the Infirmary, I did a little checking on him...
because I was curious... and a little ticked off to find him in a
place he really had no business being anyway...
Sam felt butterflies twist suddenly through her nervous
stomach in response to his grave tone.
What did you find?
she hazarded to inquire in an abruptly subdued voice.
Jack looked almost green by now.
Um... I found...
He sighed in regret at having to tell her about his discoveries.
That guy must have had some high connections in the
government, or something, because I found in the FBI file
database that he had done a background check of you just that
morning... And there were a few reports that I read mentioning
a restraining order put on him by someone who claimed to be his
ex-wife... Apparently, because he was stalking her... or
Sam gaped at him.
He stalked her!? Then she paused,
Is that what would have eventually
happened to me?
Jack looked grimly determined.
Not if I could help
it, he stated quietly, but the force in his tone left no
doubt to his listener that he had never been more serious.
Sam gaped at him.
Yet, you never told me about any of
this? she incredulously asked.
Jack pursed his lips, and stared at the lake again, trying
to stay as calm as the water currently was. At last, he
My promotion to 'General' went through soon after
that, and it drove what I had found completely from my mind.
He sighed, a sad sound that wrapped around them sitting on the
But I remembered everything about it all right after
you decided to get engaged... But, by then, I... He had
tried to be diplomatic and polite while he had to explain his
reasoning behind his actions, and finally gave up the attempt.
Look, Carter, I knew that my hands were really tied on this
one. If I said anything to you about what I had uncovered, you
would only get mad at me, and say that I was being malicious, and
Sam looked at him, trying for the sake of propriety to hold
back her natural rise in temper at what he was revealing. He had
been a close friend to her for a long time, if nothing else, and
she struggled to remember that.
Yeah, I probably would have
been darned angry, she was finally able to admit.
Jack gazed again out at the lake, letting its calm soak into
And I couldn't order you to look at the
governmental records yourself, as the idea of such an order, one
that would have such a huge effect on the personal life of
someone under my command... in addition to it being someone I
considered a close friend as well... He paused before he was
able to say,
It would have been downright reprehensible of
me. He eventually was able to go on.
And then, as it was
you in this particular case... I knew that I wouldn't
want you to do anything just because I ordered you to do it,
anyway, and... Understand? There wasn't anything that I could
do to help you, even if I wanted to...
Sam grimaced then.
And you had to sit there and watch me
and him for almost a whole year, and not do anything. And I know
perfectly well that to not do anything about something you see as
needing fixing must have been really hard for you, and...
She swallowed, but her mouth was so dry that there wasn't much to
dislodge the lump at the back of her throat.
That must have
been horrible for you...
It wasn't so horrible, Jack interrupted her, not
wanting her to feel any pity for him.
Still.., Sam said, a smile beginning to lift her
You telling me about all this now does make me feel
a bit less guilty, she admitted.
Less guilty? he questioned.
She definitely smiled now.
Yeah.., she answered.
Actually... She smiled even wider.
I feel a whole lot
better about all of this.
Better? Jack scowled.
Sam kept grinning.
This whole time, she explained,
I've been feeling like I hurt... the person I was engaged
to... She didn't want to mention her former fiancÚ's name to
him if he so obviously didn't want to hear it in the first place.
I mean, it felt to me like I had used him to pretend...
She grinned again.
And this whole time, I was being a total
idiot about... She turned to face him.
That's the best thing anyone's
ever told me!
Jack appeared surprised, according to the totally flummoxed
look on his face as he stared at her.
Uh... Sure, he
said, as if he had done what he'd done for him instead of for
I'm glad I could be of some help...
Sam kept smiling.
Don't you see? she asked, turning
back to face forward so that she could stare in contentment at
the lake again.
I don't have to feel so bad about the entire
Jack raised his eyebrows in disbelief, but he endeavored to
control his first reaction of utter surprise.
Any time... He stared at the lake again.
But, I feel
like I should point out that it's not quite okay for you to feel
like it's all right for him to have done what he did if it isn't
all right for you to break off the relationship with him because
of it. You had no reason to feel guilty in the first
Sam turned back to stare at him.
drew a deep breath, then continued,
Well... You're right...
How I felt is sort of a reaction that says it's okay to be the
victim of something, but not okay to have instigated any return
action of my own. She thought for a moment, and finally made
I guess you can say that we both acted pretty
poorly, and... and the way we treated each other kind of makes us
Yeah, she suggested.
We were both pretty awful...
We should both feel guilty... But I doubt that he feels guilty
at all for what he did. So I don't have to feel guilty, either.
Our bad behavior cancels each other out.
Oh. Slowly, Jack smiled too as he continued to
consider things from her point of view.
Sam watched him then from her peripheral vision.
wouldn't have let me marry him, not knowing everything about him
the way I didn't, would you?
Jack squirmed, growing more and more uncomfortable. At
last, he admitted,
No, I wouldn't have let you do that, no
matter what telling you would have done to me personally. I had
just decided that I would wait and see what happened, but that if
you were determined to go ahead and marry the guy, that I would
show you what I had found in your lab on your last day of work
before the wedding, no matter how it made me look.
So..? she asked.
Yeah, he uncomfortably said.
There was no way
that I was ever going to let you walk into something like that
without knowing everything, no matter what choice you thought you
Now it was her turn to be totally surprised. What he was
That's practically personal suicide, though,
Jack heaved another sigh.
Well... Yeah... I guess you
could phrase it like that... There was very little chance that
you wouldn't come out of that kind of a conversation without
hating my guts.
And you would have done it anyway? Sam appeared
Jack just appeared even more uncomfortable.
It was only
because I care about you, he quietly reminded.
Sam seemed inordinately pleased to hear him say this again.
Jack glanced at her, and thought about adding that he cared
about her as a friend would, but when he gazed at her trusting
expression, he knew that he couldn't pretend to be just her
friend. That would have been as uncool as what her former fiancÚ
Sure I do. Didn't I say that I did?
Sam practically choked. He was talking about the Za'tarc
tests they had been forced to undergo four years before.
Well... Yeah... I guess you did say... But you said that
you cared years ago! she finally protested.
And yet... He stared at her.
Nothing's really changed.
Sam was silent for a moment as she looked at him. Was he
referring to his feelings for her, or their relationship as a
whole? Sam preferred to think he was talking about his feelings
for her, and she decided to be equally as open. She whispered,
Not for me, either.
After a moment spent first in grinning like an idiot at her
whispered divulgence, then in collecting himself so that he could
encourage her into going on with the reason behind their original
conversation, he cleared his throat, and prompted,
You were in
the middle of telling me what you did that day... with
what'shisname... at the jewelry shop..?
Oh... yeah... Sam shook her head, then continued her
Anyway... Fifteen minutes after he left me at my
house, I was back at that jewelry shop...
Carter.., Jack tried to stop her from explaining any
more to him, suddenly scared of what she might tell him, despite
that he had asked her to tell him in the first place.
Sam dropped her head into her hands.
I know, that isn't
exactly the behavior of a sane person! she whispered in quiet
Jack's hand immediately found its way to her back, where he
massaged it in comforting swirls over her sweater.
owe me or anyone else any...
Again she interrupted him.
I know I don't owe an
explanation! She fiercely went on,
But I want to tell you
about... She let her voice trail off to nothingness.
Jack sat back again in his chair, prepared to listen to her
once more. She had never used such an insistent tone of voice
with him before, and he instinctively knew that he should do as
she had originally asked.
All right, I'm listening.
Sam blushed once more. Still talking to her hands, she
Thanks... Um... Anyway... I couldn't help looking
again at those rings... By some insanity, the next day, at work,
I made sure I was alone, then went into the men's locker room,
and I... um... I locked the door, broke into your locker, got out
your old wedding ring, and compared it to the sizer that I had
borrowed from the jewelry shop the day before. She glared at
nothing for a second.
I had to give the sales guy my credit
card, and my personal I.D. card, just to convince him to
let me borrow that sizer for a day.
Jack felt that he had to scowl at her a little for her
deliberate intrusion of his privacy. That ring of his had been
hidden away from sight in a cigar box for a reason... He didn't
want his personal life to be known to just anybody, to become
nothing but base gossip...
How did you find it in the first
place? he asked, though, instead of chastising her for her
Remember that crystaline alien entity who impersonated
you a few years ago? she asked miserably as way of an
That was more than a few years ago! he did harshly
chastise this time.
She looked uncomfortable.
Yeah, well, I saw him go
through your stuff... Not that I saw any of it! she
Except... that ring of yours... And I
remembered... She sighed again.
Anyway... I measured
the size of your ring, added one size, cause I think you've
gained some weight with this desk job that you have now... Not
that you're not doing a great job of it!
Carter, Jack interrupted again before she could make
any more comments about any weight he had supposedly gained after
his promotion to General.
Just... go on, he ordered.
Sam was blushing furiously by this point. She simply
couldn't help herself.
If you have gained any weight
over the years,.. it... Her ears burned red.
really good on you, she blurted.
That surprised Jack.
It does? He had always had it
drilled into his head that, according to military standards, a
thin person was automatically in better shape, and had struggled
with a five to ten pound weight gain all year. But he didn't
need to tell her that.
Thanks... I guess, he pensively
Um... Anyway.., she went on,
After I thought I
knew what size ring to buy, I bought those rings from the jewelry
store last week... Which is totally insane, I know, and so out
of character for me, and.., she protested. Then, she stared
at him, her face a mixed expression of agony, indecision, and
hope, all wrapped around an obvious feeling of softness for him
that she couldn't quite cover up.
I know this is insane,
but... She sat forward in her chair, then plopped back hard
against its back.
Hell... Will you marry me?
Such a proposal was certainly not what Jack was expecting to
hear at this point in the conversation. He expected more
apologizing, to be fair, more groveling... Instead, he got the
most sincerely affectionate, honest proposal... not to mention,
the first... he'd ever heard.
Uh.., he stuttered
Sam dropped her head into her hands again in order to hide
the expression that she knew must be showing on her face.
Uh! she grunted.
You don't have to answer that! Uh!
Don't listen to me! I don't know what I'm saying!
Jack's hand again slipped to her back one more time before
he realized that he had even made the movement.
don't mean... what you just asked? he beseeched.
Sam lifted her head, though Jack continue to rub comforting
circles over the sweater she had on. She stared at him in what
could only be described as abject hope. It blazed out of her
eyes at him.
Um... No... I mean 'yes...' I mean, I was
serious, though I think I'm being kinda stupid...
You're not being stupid, Jack quickly assured.
But don't you want to take things a bit slower than sudden
marriage? I mean, we have had feelings for each other for
a long time... Or at least, I have...
Sam interrupted him to firmly say,
So have I... I mean,
for you... feelings for you...
Jack grinned when she said that, and his heart beat faster
in his chest, but he tried not to get too carried away with his
response to what she had just proclaimed. He raised his brows at
her, and asked,
Sam dropped her head again into her hands in embarrassment,
then still spoke to her fingers as she hesitantly agreed with his
Maybe... You're right... I think... But this is a
matter of time.., she finally said.
I'm only on that
military leave you gave me for a week... I thought I'd better
ask now, and...
'Slow' was a nice concept, but it appeared that it was also
a luxury that they weren't going to get, Jack realized in a flash
of insight as to what she was arguing. And there was no way that
he was going to let Sam slip away from him this time! Making a
quick decision that they had several things to work out between
them, but that he would rather have her safely married to him
before they took the time that was necessary for those decisions,
he sent her a full smile, then admitted,
That proposal... That
was... Jack sighed, and kept gently smiling at her as he
tried again to say,
That was really incredible,
Sam looked at him through her fingers held over her face.
It was? she blurted.
Jack let his smile grow even more.
I haven't gotten many
marriage proposals in my time, he admitted to her.
Usually, I'm the one asking... I'm not nearly as practiced at
getting them as you are.
She shook her head still buried in her hands.
have say anything, she said sounding defeated now, and
He cut her off again by pulling her hands down, and saying a
'Yes,' in a voice of finality.
Sam looked up, jerking her head aloft to stare at him.
Jack shrugged, then smiled as charmingly as he could. For
the first time, he didn't try to automatically stifle his
emotions for her from showing in his eyes.
Yeah... I mean,
'yes...' I mean, sure, youbetcha, I'll marry you, how can I be
more direct than that?
You're kidding! Sam blurted out, and her forehead
wrinkled in sudden disbelief.
No, I don't think I'm kidding, Jack responded to her.
I mean, you did ask me, didn't you? He tilted his
head as he looked at her.
How did you expect me to
Well... For the first time ever, Jack witnessed Sam
Carter stumble over her words.
Well... I... Her voice
trailed helplessly into silence.
Sam, Jack said with a tender sigh.
You were great
on the asking part, but your accepting part needs a little
work. He studied her as she blushed a deep crimson at his
Why don't you show me these rings you bought if you
have them handy...
Sam blushed again.
I do, actually. I've taken to
carrying them around in my pocket, you know... Just in case I
might ever need them... She reached into the front right
pocket of the jeans she was wearing, and carefully pulled out two
wedding bands, and handed them to him.
He took them both, careful not to brush her fingers or touch her in any way, as he was at his personal danger point where she was concerned. If he inadvertently felt her skin, he wouldn't be able to deny himself further stroking said skin. So, as long as he didn't want to ravish her right there, on the dock, in broad sight of anyone happening to pass a back window of the cabin (i.e., being seen by Daniel or Teal'c), he thought prudence was the best course of action at this point.
Jack carefully scrutinized the rings he now held in his larger fingers. They were both gold, both brushed until their dulled surfaces glinted in the morning sunlight, and each encased a tiny sapphire, surrounded by a ring of diamonds on either side, thus symbolizing 'married,' while simultaneously indicating with the blue stones his and Sam's many years in the Air Force, which would also be shown by wearing their dress blues... Always blue, Jack thought in delight. It was his opinion that Sam looked good enough to eat when she wore the color blue... But that was just his opinion...
Jack flipped the rings over and over, then on a whim, tried the larger of the two on the fourth finger of his left hand. It fit perfectly, which didn't really surprise him, as Sam claimed that she had measured his ring size before she even bought these rings.
Sam chose that moment to add,
I already printed out a
marriage license that I found on the Internet, too, and had it
notarized by Lieutenant Gates from Tech. Support... I fixed her
son's motorized scooter one day when we were all on downtime, and
she figured that she owed me a favor for saving her from having
to endure his whining all week... I also have a marriage
license... just in case... She was beginning to nervously
ramble again, as he hadn't said anything yet about the rings, the
license, the certificate... any of this. So, her voice trailed
off again until there was nothing left of it to break the silence
of the early morning around them.
But Sam need not have worried. Jack hadn't said anything
because there was too big of a lump in his throat to speak
around. Now, he forcefully cleared away the obstruction, but his
voice came out more like a croak when he was finally able to say,
You've come prepared, haven't you?
Sam gazed at him, beginning to get worried at his silence on
the subject of the rings. Instead of bringing up the topic right
away, though, she answered his comment,
I figured I had better
be as prepared as I could be, since I really only have this week
if I want to... to do anything. At his questioning
expression, she explained,
I'm on leave from the entire
military this week... I probably don't need to remind you of
that, since you're the one who said that military leave was the
only way that you can be sure I will totally escape my lab this
week so that I can take care of all my business concerning Dad's
estate... This is the one week that you won't be my direct CO in
all our eight years together... And as I put in for that
transfer to Groom Lake, which was accepted, and I start at R&D on
the twelfth... She grunted an apologetic sound from the back
of her throat.
I knew that this week might be the only
opportunity that I get...
Jack gazed at her, and his love for her pierced the air between them when he did so much as blink in her direction. He drew a shaky breath, and slowly exhaled, fighting to maintain control of his body as he did so.
Jack, Sam hesitantly said then.
You haven't said
a thing about those rings yet... Do you like them, not like
Jack took a second to be impressed with how easy she had
made the transition to saying his first name aloud. It was like
she had crawled out of bed that morning, ready to begin a new
habit of calling him 'Jack' instead of the 'Sir' she had used for
the past several years.
You called me 'Jack' just now like
you've always been doing it, he commented in an offhand way.
I'm impressed, he ended in a low, strained voice.
Sam reached for his hand, and he jerked back when she barely scraped his fingers curled around the two rings laying in his palm.
She was hurt by his actions... He could tell by the
expression on her face. He dropped the rings in her waiting
palm, then held up a warding hand while he tried to breath
systematically through his nose.
Sorry, he quickly said.
Sorry. It's not you... Don't think that, and I love the
rings... I doubt that I could have done any better if I had
A smile slowly lit up Sam's face, shining in her eyes. She
had no idea how the sight of it twisted through Jack's insides,
turning all his internal organs to liquid.
asked, not hiding the pleased sound in her voice as she returned
the rings to her front pocket.
Jack grunted, then shifted in his chair, trying to find a
more comfortable position for the enhanced state of his emotions
for her that he was suddenly having to battle.
repeated her for emphasis.
Sam looked much happier now.
I'm glad that you do. I
admit that you had me worried there when you didn't say anything,
and then jerked away from me just now...
Sam, Jack choked.
You don't understand... He
went on in a strained voice.
Unless you want me to jump you
right this second, you won't do anything to me... like touch
me... or anything. I think we'll both be a lot safer if you
Sam instantly raised her hands into the air, as if to say
that she was unarmed, but the gesture also worked very neatly as
a way to keep her hands from mistakenly coming into contact with
his skin. She studied Jack carefully as he sat beside her in his
lawn chair, not moving, trying hard to draw steady breaths in
through his nose in an attempt to regulate his breathing and stay
in control of himself. Damn, Sam said to herself.
Does he want me that badly? Stunned, Sam had to
admit to herself that she had never been faced with this
particular dilemma before now.
Uh... Jack? she
Maybe I shouldn't say anything about
this... I mean, it might not be any of my business...
Sam! Jack grunted.
Just spit it out! he
ordered, now gasping for breath.
Right, Sam said, closed her eyes, opened them, then
How do you plan to make it all the way
into town for a wedding if you're already..? She gazed at
him, her sympathy showing clear in her features.
already... in this condition? she asked as delicately as she
Jack closed his eyes, too, but that made his predicament
worse, as closed eyes meant that he lost the distraction from his
emotions that sight afforded him, and his emotions, and their
effects, instantly doubled, if that were possible. Now wondering
if he could even stand without assistance, he grimly smiled at
I think I have a solution to that.., he groaned.
Daniel? she repeated, not understanding.
does he have to do with any of this?
Jack laughed, the gesture still sounding strained, but
stronger as he retained better control over himself.
mind, he told her. Then he changed the subject.
don't you go inside and use my shower, he suggested.
know that you skipped taking a shower this morning when I dragged
you out here at an ungodly early hour...
I didn't mind, Sam immediately stated, but cut
herself off when he held up a hand to silence her.
You want to get married now, right away, correct? he
inquired. Sam vigorously nodded.
Okay, Jack continued.
I'll take care of everything... Just run and take a shower...
Slowly! So I have a few minutes here... Jack smiled
And I'm really sorry about this, Sam,
Don't be, she said as she rose from her place in her
lawn chair, and prepared to head inside.
I can't say that I'm
particularly sorry, either, right...
Jack chuckled, but most of his attention was turned
internally as he still struggled with his emotions.
I have everything under control... Except me. He laughed a
tiny, strangled gurgle of sound.
Jack, I didn't mean for you to...
He interrupted her speech.
Just go... Please...
She took off up the dock, but stopped when she stepped onto
I hate to tell you, but... I thought of the
license, the certificate, the rings... But I didn't think to
bring along a dress of any kind...
Good, as I don't have a suit just hanging in my closet,
either, Jack told her.
Jeans are fine...
Sam smiled at him.
I have to say that I would never have
anticipated wearing jeans to my own wedding... Her voice
held amusement, now, and humor.
Go, he ordered her.
I'll be waiting for
Sam took the opportunity to flee into the house.
Jack sat still, drawing in deep, cleansing breaths, and when he felt like he could move, he carefully stood up and made his way into the cabin.
Without knocking, Jack entered the room that had been
assigned to Daniel and Teal'c for the weekend. He shook Daniel,
who was still asleep in one of the twin beds.
Daniel rolled onto his back and stared bleerily at his
Jack? he asked.
What's up? He blinked
and lifted his head off the comforting pillow.
happen? He looked wildly around the room.
Jack was immediately soothing.
She's fine, she's fine...
She's in my shower right now... Using it... Don't worry...
He peered at the sleepy Daniel.
Do you remember that day
Teal'c and I were in your office, and we were all thinking of
becoming an online minister? That it would be really funny
Daniel squinted his eyes to look at his friend that he was
certain had gone insane.
Um... Isn't it a little early in
the day to be thinking about that?
Daniel! Jack harshly whispered.
That day we were
all talking about... Well, you and Teal'c did most of the
talking, if I remember right...
Um... Yeah, I remember...
Good, Jack said.
Now, did you ever finish filling
out that certificate thingy on that website?
Daniel squinted his eyes even narrower.
Um... Yeah, I
got something in the mail a few weeks later... But then Janet...
um... He swallowed against the pain of this memory.
Janet died that week... And I forgot to mention it...
But you're ordained, aren't you? Jack asked
Um... Yeah. Did you want me to bring along my
certificate or something?
No, Jack breathed.
That's not really necessary...
As long as this is legal and everything.
Legal? Daniel squinted again at Jack.
That was when Jack bit the big one, and told Daniel all
about his current, self-imposed mission.
Sam and I want you
to marry us... Right now, he added for good measure.
Marry you! Daniel bellowed so loud in an incredulous
voice that he woke Teal'c in the next bed over, and the Jaffa was
almost impossible to wake now that he was taking Tretonin.
Daniel! Jack said in a low voice.
Do you want her
to hear you? he grunted.
Yes, marry us, here, now, by the
lake, at my cabin...
You're kidding. Daniel looked as closely at Jack as
Jack had been earlier staring at him.
You're not kidding,
Daniel eventually stated. He raised himself up on his elbows,
now fully awake.
Jack, are you guys insane?
Jack suddenly grinned at the man in the bed.
We're in love. Then he yanked the blankets off
Now, get up! We don't want to disappoint her...
He turned to sqa next to Teal'c's bed.
wakey! He smiled in pure delight as Teal'c threw a pillow at
We'll see you guys in five... And don't be
In the end, it took the two of them longer than five minutes to get moving. But then, it took Sam longer then five minutes to decide on what she was going to wear for the occasion, anyway. They all met up on the smoothly clipped lawn fifteen minutes later.
Okay, I'm here, she said to her friends.
Daniel? Sam nervously started as she stared at him.
Jack explained to her what was going on before Daniel could
say a word.
A few years ago, we were all in Daniel's office,
shooting the breeze, when we suddenly got it into our heads that
it would be really funny if we became ordained ministers.
Daniel picked up the explanation then.
We tried to get
Teal'c ordained first... You have to admit that the idea of a
Jaffa who can perform marriage ceremonies is rather ironic. But
we found out that a person who wants to become ordained has to be
a U.S. citizen...
And that kind of pointed then towards Daniel.., Jack
added, jumping in.
Daniel smiled then.
Yeah. You're looking at the High
Priest of Dying, Ascension, and Alternate Realities of the Church
of Elvis in Baton Rouge, Louisiana... Don't step on my blue
suede shoes on your way back into the cabin...
Sam instantly began laughing uproariously.
kidding!? she hooted.
Why does everyone think I'm joking when I say that?
Daniel nonchalantly interrupted her, asking his mild question of
Teal'c, who was dressed in slacks and a matching shirt, the
nicest clothes he had brought with him, standing a little behind
Jack on the lawn. He was to act as Jack's and Sam's witness as
well as Jack's best man during the ceremony.
They all looked at each other, uncomfortable now.
Well, Daniel went on, nervous due to Sam's initial
laughter at his news.
Let's get started, I guess... He
picked up a book, The Evidence of Mummified Couples In Ancient
Egyptian: Love Through Time, just in order to look
official, and inquired,
Do you have rings?
Oh. Sam patted her pocket.
Damn... I left them
in my other jeans...
She sprinted back in the direction of the cabin's front
door, leaving the three men to stand around and try to look like
they knew what they were doing.
Are you sure about this,
Jack? Daniel asked the second Sam was out of hearing.
mean, this is a bit of a drastic step, if you ask me...
I wasn't asking, Jack instantly shot back.
Daniel sighed with a roll of his eyes.
I mean, marriage
is a tiny bit permanent...
Jack shook his head.
Doesn't matter. As long as you
guys aren't bothered by the fact that you two are dressed better
than the bride and groom are at their own wedding ceremony, then
I'm okay, too, Jack quickly replied.
You don't want to wait, and do this... Daniel
paused, then judiciously added,
Do this the more normal way,
in a church, or a courthouse... Or even in Vegas? he
We wait, and I might explode, Jack said.
I'm scared that she'll change her mind.
Teal'c commented then,
ColonelCarter is not as changeable
as many women are reputed to be, O'Neill. He went on to
She is one of the few people I have met on your
planet who is what your people refer to as 'stubborn as a
That's 'mule,' Teal'c, 'stubborn as a mule.' But
Jack didn't look convinced by his friend's argument, and shook
his head back and forth.
I'm not taking any chances here,
Just then Sam returned, out of breath, but holding the two
rings in her hand. She gave them to Daniel as she leaned over,
trying to catch her breath.
There... you... go! she
And I grabbed... the license and... the
certificate... while I was... inside.
Daniel studied both documents before handing them back to
Sam, who replaced them in her back pockets.
Where did you get
those? he asked out of curiosity.
Did you apply for them,
No, I printed them off the Internet.
At Daniel's surprised and amazed expression, went on,
find anything on the Internet.
Next, still looking slightly dubious, Daniel studied the
rings he had been handed, his interest piqued.
these out? he inquired.
Me, Sam responded, now able to speak and breathe at
the same time.
Daniel's eyebrows shot up to his brown hairline.
Really? he asked, genuinely intrigued.
I would have
thought that Jack picked them out... But these are too nice, too
elegant for his taste...
Funny, Daniel, real funny!
Didn't that church on the Internet instruct
you on how to perform a marriage ceremony?
Daniel shook his head at the same time that Sam muttered,
I don't believe I'm doing this... Wouldn't Dad be
furious! But she wore a grin of pure delight on her face, as
if she were thoroughly enjoying herself.
Daniel cleared his throat to get everybody's attention
Okay... First SGC wedding I've ever heard
Jack broke in one more time to entreat,
anything, okay, guys? Both Daniel and Teal'c stared at him,
and Jack went on,
I mean, this is completely all right... But
only this week while Carter's off on military leave... Next
week, it's status quo... And as we don't want to be the most
discussed topic around the water cooler... He let his voice
trail off, but his insinuation was clear.
It was clear to everyone but Teal'c, who took his comment
literally enough to inform,
There is no water cooler at the
SGC that I am aware of...
Nevermind about the water cooler, Jack quickly said
in a fast aside.
But Daniel nodded his head in understanding.
Then, after he had made certain that he wasn't going to be
interrupted again, he started.
Okay... He turned to a
previously marked page in the book he was holding.
I'd start off with a quote... Of myself, ironically
Sam interrupted to ask,
Are you reading that book to see
how wrong the author is about..?
Daniel let the book fall to his side as he regarded Sam, his
face alight with an expression of childlike inquisitiveness that
his team mates were very familiar with.
I noticed that the author spends at least half the
Jack kept frowning.
Kids! he sharply called.
Later! Right now, we have a job to do, he reminded in a
more easygoing voice than he'd used so far.
Both Daniel and Sam appeared contrite.
Sometimes I get carried away.
Jack fondly peered at her. Sam fondly grinned back at him.
I know, he finally said.
Daniel pulled the book back to right before his eyes,
opening it to the correct page as he went on,
paused again, and looked at them all expectantly.
Daniel! Jack growled.
Daniel instantly began reading his own words.
quote... me.., he said without preamble.
thought that love can span many generations and much length of
time. It's my fervent belief that nothing can come between
something so invisible, yet so strong as the love between two
people. I hope that's always the case, and always will be.'
He lowered the book from before his eyes.
Daniel, Jack said, sounding surprised.
quite... um... knowledgeable... of you!
Daniel rolled his eyes again.
Don't act so surprised,
Jack. I do think about these things from time to time, you
It was Teal'c who then broke in to say,
I believe that
O'Neill wishes to let you know that he never thought of you as
such a romantic, DanielJackson.
Jack gestured at Teal'c.
Yeah, what he just
Daniel gave an exaggerated sigh.
Oh... Sorry, Jack quickly told him.
Daniel nodded his head once more.
Okay... He looked
like he didn't entirely know what to say. He finally settled on
Join hands. Jack and Sam took hands, then
they both visibly swallowed to hold back the emotions that their
touch inadvertently released.
Daniel went on,
Jack, do you promise to... uh... to love
Sam, and honor her, and... and be with her... in sickness and
health... for as long as you guys should live? he ended
It was obvious that Daniel was making his lines up as he
went along, but Jack certainly didn't mind as he answered,
Yeah, sure, you bet I do.
Daniel turned next to Sam.
And do you, Samantha Carter,
promise to honor and love this man, in... uh... He thought
of what he was supposed to say next, then remembered,
sickness and health, as long as...
She didn't let him finish, even though he had actually
remembered the right words... sort of... before she responded,
You had better believe I do!
Daniel's eyebrows went up again at the enthusiasm of her
response, but he endeavored to ignore it.
Okay... Um, the
rings then... Hey, Teal'c, you should look at these... He
held out the rings towards his friend.
Daniel! Jack barked, his remonstration sounding
gruffer than he felt. He knew his friend too well, however, and
Don't get sidetracked.
Yeah... Right.., Daniel said. Looking like a kid
performing adult rights that he didn't quite comprehend, Daniel
continued to speak as he held the rings aloft in his hand.
Let these rings be symbols of... of faith and love... and all
things the SGC stands for...
It was Sam who gently prodded him this time.
Daniel handed the smaller ring to Jack.
Jack slid the ring onto Sam's finger.
Shouldn't I be
saying something here? he asked Daniel.
Daniel just shrugged.
Say 'With this ring I thee wed,'
or something like that, he suggested.
Jack grinned when he heard Daniel's suggestion.
this ring I thee wed,' he dutifully recited as he slipped the
ring the rest of the way onto her finger.
Sam grinned, grabbed the ring out of Daniel's waiting palm,
Ditto, as she did the same for Jack.
Well, Daniel said overly brightly, but still managing
to sound uncomfortable the entire time.
I guess this brings
us to a close. Oh! The license...
At Daniel's reminder, Sam dug in her back pockets, pulled out the marriage license and certificate she had printed off, and a pen to write with. When the pages were unfolded, they all turned their backs in order to offer a more solid surface for the signatures they wrote at the appropriate places.
Once the last signature had been taken care of, Daniel went
on as if he'd never been interrupted,
Um... I now pronounce
you guys married... Uh... Husband and wife... Uh... You
But Jack and Sam weren't waiting for him to announce anything. Grinning, they had tenderly rubbed cheeks for just a second before joining their lips in a hesitant kiss that turned into a deeper display of affection, that in turn changed again into...
Well, Daniel brightly commented, though he knew that
only Teal'c was listening to his words at this point.
our job here is done... Sam and Jack still weren't paying
any attention to him. So Daniel went on,
Think Teal'c and I
will take the rental truck and drive to the airport, and...
He turned to face Teal'c
Come on, I don't think we're needed
Or wanted, Teal'c softly added on a wry note, and
followed his friend to the vehicle parked in the cabin's
The newly joined couple were both too busy to be anything but oblivious when their friends quietly left them alone to commune with nature... and with each other.
Two hours later, Jack's cell phone started insistently ringing. Jack groaned, grumbled, and grouched, but reached for the jeans he had earlier discarded on the bedroom floor while he still managed to keep his other arm around a very relaxed Sam lying next to him on his bed.
O'Neill, he gruffly said into his phone once he had
managed to wrest it from his jeans pocket. Then, without giving
the person on the other end of the line a chance to talk, he
And Walter, so help me, the world better be
coming to an end, or...
Jack was quickly interrupted.
Jack, it's Daniel.
Jack furrowed his brow, though he had again settled onto the
pillows next to Sam.
Daniel? he questioned.
you doing calling me? I thought you guys left hours ago... And
thanks for that, by the way...
Jack, Daniel said again in order to stop his friend's
tendency to ramble and mutter into the phone.
leave. I'm at the airport right now, and me and Teal'c are
waiting for the 11:00 flight...
Daniel, Jack warned.
Quit being so aimless, and
say something that makes sense...
Jack. Daniel's voice was grim now.
met... Off line, he asked,
What's your name
Kevin, came the reply of an unknown male voice.
Yeah.., Daniel said, speaking into the phone once
We just met Kevin, who's waiting for a flight to
Chicago... Anyway, he had his laptop computer out, and I was
curious anyway, and... To make a long story short...
It's already a long story, Daniel, Jack wearily
stated. He fell back against the pillows behind him while Sam
absently rubbed his stomach with her fingers. He silently kissed
her on the forehead, then played absently with those fingers
currently rubbing enticing circles into the skin of his abdomen.
What do you have to tell me?
You're not gonna believe this.., Daniel said.
looked up this whole marriage license thing..? I don't know
what Sam printed off the Internet, but... Jack, she couldn't
have gotten a Minnesota marriage license, because there's a five
day waiting period for a marriage license in Minnesota.
Jack sat up straight in bed with a start. Sam's hand, as
well as the sheet and blanket, fell away.
Um.., Daniel went on.
Um... You have to come
back to Colorado today... now... and apply for a marriage license
at the county courthouse this afternoon... Good thing it's only
Friday, and they're still open today... But you guys need to
apply for a license together... And you both need to bring some
form of I.D.... And also Jack, not to bring up a delicate topic,
or anything, but you also might need proof of your earlier
What? Jack scowled into the phone.
Daniel sighed into the phone.
Jack, just fly back to
Colorado right now, go with Sam to the county clerk's office at
the courthouse, and apply for a real marriage license, he
Bring I.D., proof of your earlier divorce, just
in case, twenty dollars... the license costs twenty dollars...
and I'll meet you back at your house, where we can perform the
ceremony again... And you don't have to worry... I'll take care
of the other witness...
Jack's scowl was beginning to etch itself into his features.
What do you mean, 'other witness?'
Daniel sighed a second time.
Teal'c's not an American
citizen... Sorry... I didn't think about that... Should
Sam gazed into Jack's worried face, growing more and more
worried herself be the second.
Jack, what's wrong? she
Jack didn't have a chance to answer her question because
Daniel was already going on,
Oh, and Jack?
Yeah? Jack answered as he threw the covers of the bed
off them both and began to get dressed as quickly as he could one
Daniel went on,
You owe one Kevin Saunders 120 dollars...
I kind of offered him a free flight to Chicago if he would let me
use his computer to double check this stuff... I'll give you his
name and address when you get here... The sound of a female
voice said something indistinguishable over the airport loud
Gotta go, Jack, that's our flight... See you
this afternoon. He disconnected the line as he hung up his
Jack snapped his own phone closed, then gazed at it for a dumbfounded moment before he buttoned his jeans.
What is it? Sam drowsily asked.
Jack turned his cloudy gaze on Sam, the person he now
erroneously thought of as his new wife.
Did you go to a
courthouse for that marriage license, by any chance?
Sam's expression was genuinely befuddled.
I told you that I got it off a website on the
Internet... Which surprised me, actually, that I could just
print off an official document like that, but I wasn't going to
kick a gift horse in the mouth at that point, and... She
stared at a half dressed Jack.
Why? Did I sign something
wrong, or... What?
Jack gazed at her, his hands propped grimly onto his hips.
Her tousled hair lay all around her head, and there was a sheet
wrinkle embedded into her right cheek. He took in the sight of
her for a moment, then, all of a sudden, he started to laugh.
Guess what? He didn't give her time to answer.
gotta get married again! And we gotta do it right this time by
getting a real license, at a real courthouse, at the real county
seat in Colorado!
Sam stared at him, totally confused now.
she echoed in bewilderment.
Jack laughed again.
Yep. Now, let's get dressed, and
get onto the first flight we can... I want to marry you right as
soon as possible...
Sam jumped out of bed and began to dress as she hurriedly
Okay, Jack, slowly... Tell me... What did Daniel
Jack told her as much about the situation as he knew as they traveled first to the airport, then flew to Colorado, then went straight to the courthouse once in Denver, by way of the Denver branch of his lawyer's office to grab his proof of earlier divorce, after first retrieving his truck, which was resting in the airport parking lot, then met Daniel in his back yard in Colorado Springs, and...
Well, Daniel declared as he stood in front of Jack
and Sam, who were standing next to Teal'c and Siler, the one man
in the SGC who had sworn he could keep a secret, after Daniel had
told him that he would know who had leaked information about the
wedding in the event that information was leaked in the first
place, as he already knew that the original team members wouldn't
tell a soul... And if information got out about the wedding,
Daniel couldn't predict exactly how Jack would react, other than
to guess that 'angry' would not even begin to cover his emotional
response, and, if Siler valued his life, he would... That was
when Siler stopped the archaeologist from explaining any more,
saying that he 'got the picture,'
Daniel went on as the sun was just beginning to set on
Jack's back yard.
Well, let's try this again...
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