Sam wore her own BDUs home from the base when she and Jack could get away later that day. It had been March when she left two months before... cold, wet, snowy... Now, it was May 15th, warm... warmer... but she no longer had appropriate clothes in her locker at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex Locker Room. If she had needed a reminder of how very long she had been absent from Colorado Springs, the sweater and turtleneck that she had stashed on the locker's top shelf were a sharp enough reminder to her. She chose to wear her spare pair of BDUs instead. At least she wouldn't sweat do death while she and Jack were headed to his house together that evening.
She waited at Jack's house while he gathered a few clothes, and his dress blues to wear while seeing The President in a few days, then they both piled back into his truck for the drive to her house, where she would collect clothes and pack as well. He'd argued that even though her car got better gas mileage than his truck did, she hadn't driven for over two months, and he wasn't going to give her the opportunity to survive a Goa'uld infestation, only to wrap her car around a tree on her way home from the base. He'd drive home, and he'd drive to Denver the next day, and he'd keep driving her until they had the chance for her to practice driving in an empty parking lot where there were no trees to hit for miles around. When he put it like that, she couldn't argue with him that she was perfectly capable of driving where she needed to go.
It felt so strange to enter her closed up house after two months of neglecting it that it was almost surreal for her to calmly walk across the threshold again. She was glad that Jack was with her to add his larger, more solid presence to hers as she strolled again into her own house.
She glanced around, but found everything much as she had left it the morning she had accompanied Anise through the Stargate several weeks before. Her plants, she could see, had been removed. Had they died from neglect? The dishes from her last breakfast, few that they had been, were put away, leaving the table conspicuously clean except for the neat pile of mail on one corner.
You? she asked, pointing to the pile of envelopes and
magazines on the table.
Jack shrugged, and stuck his hands nervously in the pockets
of his trousers.
I got the mail for you, even when they told
me that keeping any mail service going here was useless. I know
I shouldn't have come into your house like that, but...
She interrupted him with a grateful smile.
I don't care
what they told you... I don't mind you coming into my
Just to look after things, Jack hurried to say.
felt... closer... to you here, he admitted then in a soft
voice, flushing slightly.
They all said I was being stupid...
Especially after the room was needed at the base, and they
cleaned out your lab... over my very loud protests, by the
way. Jack sheepishly continued,
Anyway, I knew that Pete
wasn't likely to come out here, still living in Denver the way he
was until he could transfer to the Colorado Springs PD,
Sam stopped him so that she could consider all that he was telling her; Jack had collected her mail, though he didn't know if she would ever see it or not? He even knew where her boyfriend lived? Soon to be past boyfriend, she absently corrected herself. Was there anything about her that he didn't know?
Jack continued, still sounding just as sheepish.
you don't mind...
Sam had to agree with his assessment that Pete would not have thought to come and take care of an empty house for her, beyond collecting whatever stuff he had carried into it over the last nine months.
Then Jack confessed,
I got a phone call from Shanahan a
few weeks ago. He asked if he'd been told right by the Air Force
official who had visited him... That you were K.I.A... He
looked regretful now.
I had to tell him...
It's all right, Sam assured. That must have been
when Pete had gathered his stuff, and took it back from her
house. Actually, now that she thought about it, Jack had saved
her the trouble of throwing it all out, or boxing it up and
sending it back to Pete in Denver. She was glad that the
paperwork for his transfer hadn't had time to go through the
system yet, and he hadn't moved yet, and wasn't searching for a
new place to live on top of everything else that had
However, she was still glad that his stuff was gone already. She had no desire now to be staring at Pete's DVD collection spread out on the floor near her TV while she was also thinking about permanently ending her relationship with him. In addition, she didn't want to bring Jack into a house full of reminders of her former alliance with Pete Shanahan, either.
Reminded so starkly of Jack's presence with her, she pulled
him close as she breathed in the stale air inside the house.
No, I don't mind you coming here at all. I'm glad that you
did, actually. Then, she grinned.
If only to get my
Jack grinned as well.
I also watched your movies, too.
I never knew you were an old movie buff, he exclaimed, then,
turning his answering grin on her.
You have some good movies
in your collection.
Sam smiled at his statement, then without ceremony or
further comment to give him a hint as to what she was planning to
do, pushed him forcefully against a wall, and leaned into him.
I don't want to watch a movie, old or new, right now, she
whispered up to him.
I'm tired of watching.... But she
wasn't talking about movies at this point in the
Sam.., Jack slowly said with a shake of his head and
a stupefied look on his face. But at the same time, he wasn't
surprised by her forward behavior at all. His hands had crept up
to cradle her bent elbows now, and there was no mistaking the
seductive, husky sound of her voice, or her passionate demeanor.
There was open passion blazing out of her eyes as she continued
to stare at him. He couldn't help but answer her openness with
his own. However, he went on,
Maybe it's not a good idea to
go into all this right now...
Yet, his voice was sounding weaker and weaker, even to his
ears. He tried to swallow his feelings one more time, and forced
himself to go on,
I mean, there's a good chance that I won't
be able to stop myself from doing something I shouldn't. In case
you want to stop later. I mean, this is your first day
back and all...
Wasn't this all going a bit fast? He helplessly looked down at her, expecting her to back up now that he had mentioned the entire desire situation that they shared, even as vaguely as he had mentioned that particular situation. He was thoroughly flummoxed, not knowing what to do. Or, more specifically, knowing what he wanted to do, but not knowing if he should actually do what he wanted to...
But she didn't appear to want to change anything about the
current scenario that they were playing part in. Hadn't he
claimed only hours earlier that he wanted to marry her? she asked
herself. He had to feel something for her, she deduced.
Is it because I'm technically still engaged? she inquired
of his seeming aversion to being seduced now.
Is that why
you're suddenly so reluctant?
Jack gave an explosive snort. 'Reluctant?' He wasn't
Hardly, he said then.
I don't care if
you're still engaged. I would grab you and kiss you myself if
you weren't doing the same thing to me. Then he cautioned,
But I care about you way too much to ask you to do something
you're not ready for. Or if they began something that he
didn't want to, or couldn't, stop.
'Ready?' Sam incredulously repeated. She drew even
closer to him.
I've been ready and waiting for a long time.
And you wouldn't believe how long that is...
He gazed unwaveringly at her blue eyes.
Oh, I know
perfectly well how long...
Eyes burning now with an intense inner fire that instantly
reduced his resistance to ashes, she continued, whispering,
Every time thoughts of you entered my head...
With that, and no warning whatsoever, Sam leaned the rest of the way into him, and hungrily kissed him.
The second that Sam's lips touched his, Jack felt his desire for her slam into his senses. He didn't have a chance of withstanding such an emotional bombardment. He was overwhelmed in seconds, as if the floodgates on his emotional control had failed, and all the gates were thrown open at once.
He was awash in sensation. She was tossed into him. Or was he pulling her even closer?
He clutched at her, desperate to feel the skin of the one person who he thought just that morning that fate had denied to him.
Sam couldn't fight the roughness of that tide of emotion that she was feeling any better than he could, apparently. She rubbed her fingers across his skin left free between the edge of his t-shirt and his trouser waist band. The subsequent explosion of sensation made Jack think that he honestly might actually faint in this situation. Since that would be the ultimate embarrassment, he resisted the influence of his pounding blood in encouraging him to pass out, but that was all he could resist at this point.
Skin... Hell, who had time to just feel skin? They sank down on the floor, bruising their knees, their butts, the hardwood planks very unforgiving under whatever softer tissue touched it.
Both could feel the all-consuming burning inside them, sense the need for the other that directed their choppy flurry of actions now. There was no comprehension of regulations to guide their behavior, no thought of consequence... No nothing except this raging fire that threatened to explode unless they let the other quench the desire coursing through their veins.
Panting, straining, reaching... There was no sound in the room, in the entire house, except an occasional moan, a groaning of a name...
There were going to be bruises later, they both knew and acknowledged... But they were utterly helpless against this sudden urge to consummate emotions that had been simmering for eight long years.
Without even knowing how it happened, Jack's pants were gone, Sam's BDU trousers were gone as well, and, hot and pulsing, he thrust into her opening as she kept kissing every part of him that she could reach, even if that area was covered by what he was wearing. Her hands roamed under his shirt, feeling the intense heat of his chest, his hips, his...
With that, Sam lifted her own hips off the floor, and pushed
into his. Her eyes flew open, her head bent backward into the
floor, and she arched into him with a yell that pierced through
the quiet of the house,
Oh, God... Jack!
That was all he could take, even as he tried to helplessly employ his control over the uncontrollable, and hold back, try to slow things down... But he was as out of control as she was, as consumed, as awash in soaking desire, as wanting to give to her as to possess every inch of her being.
It was so furious, so vibrant, so... So consuming. The emotions he was feeling completely captured him, wrapped him up in the heat, the warmth, the all-around thrill of Sam, finally in his arms, in his heart, in his soul...
Jack managed to grunt a whisper in her ear as he burst in an orgasm so strong that it felt like it ripped right through him to his center, his essence blending with hers for the first time.
It was wild, wet, forceful, full of pent up lust, passion, heat, want, need... even of love... and it utterly unraveled them both. They would have never behaved in such a flagrant way under normal circumstances. If they hadn't been apart for nine weeks, hadn't thought the other was either dead, or dead to her in her heart...
Giving, taking, demanding, pounding... Jack's whisper seemed just as loud as her yell, mixing as they were in a symphony that surrounded them, binding them one to the other with a bond that was as strong as naqueda for all its invisibility, and as soft as satin, as unbreakable as silk... Strong, soft, tight, freeing... Pain, pleasure... All stirred into one giant emotion...
Jack and Sam lay very unglamorously on the floor of Sam's
living room, between the couch and the wall, trying hard to catch
their collective breath. Sam was the first to be able to speak.
That was totally, all-around, completely, uncontrovertably...
I don't care if that's a word or not... That was
Jack could only grunt his agreement with her, still unable to form a coherent sentence.
They heaved in air for a few more seconds, the sound of
their attempt at normal breathing blaring loud throughout the
empty house. Finally, Sam wheezed,
God, Jack, I'm so sorry, I
never meant to...
Jack's voice cut hers off.
I'm not sorry, not a
Okay, she admitted then, changing her words of
apology of to words of acknowledgment now that she knew what Jack
I'm not sorry, either.
But Jack went on as if she hadn't spoken,
And I want to
do that again... a lot slower... and somewhere softer... but
immediately, now, instantaneously...
Really? The delight in Sam's voice was unmistakable
He glanced down at her, meeting her eyes, falling into her
blue gaze just like he had always wanted to fall into her gaze.
Really, he told her.
I love you, Samantha Carter, and
I got you back from the dead today, and I want more than anything
to celebrate that fact until the cows come home, and I will...
We will... As soon as I'm able to walk to your
Then let's move there at the earliest
possible moment, she seconded.
Jack rested, still in a state of semi-shock at the powerful
emotions that he had just shared with Sam.
Oh, I plan to stay
in your bed for the rest of the night, until we have to leave
tomorrow... Just give me a minute...
Sam laughed again.
You can hold me like this for as many
minutes as you need, she invited.
Jack innocently queried,
Your butt's not getting numb
from the floor, is it?
Sam quickly answered,
I haven't been able to feel my butt
for several minutes. Then she grinned mischievously.
you can rub it later if you want.
Jack grinned back at her.
I want, he replied.
Later, and later than that, and then for the rest of my
Sam hugged him close, clutching him to her chest.
you, too, Jack O'Neill.
Jack smiled and let his head rest on her shoulder in
You have no idea how great it is to hear
that, he said with sincerity in his voice.
Oh, I have a pretty good idea how nice it
is to hear... Or at least, I know how good it is when I
hear the same words coming from you.
Jack sighed, and smiled when he glanced at her.
gonna say those words all the time, too, or show you,
Sam interrupted him with a brief kiss on his lips.
look forward to it, she quietly said.
* * *
They were in Denver by 1000 hours the next morning, and Sam directed Jack to the police precinct where Pete was employed as a detective. They would have arrived a bit earlier, but the morning had been nicely disrupted by the lovemaking that had earlier consumed their time, a slow, quiet, but purposeful seduction of Sam, who had been just as purposefully more affectionate to Jack because she had already figured him to be a little worried about their coming ordeal in Denver.
She was grateful to him that she didn't have to go through this unpleasant, planned activity by herself. She would be sure to feel unhappy enough as it was when it was over, but at least she wouldn't be alone. She may not feel the right kind of love for Pete in order to marry him, but she didn't want to hurt him, either, and a breakup with her after finding her alive again after so long was bound to hurt.
Jack parked his truck in the parking lot in front of the
police office building, then gazed at Sam.
Are you sure that
you don't want me to wait for you out here? I can...
No, she cut him off.
I'm sure. She took his
hand in hers, and gave it a fast kiss on his palm.
think you should actually come in to see Pete with me... I don't
want you to go through that. Then she glanced at Jack out of
eyes consumed in tragic thought.
But I would feel a little
better knowing that you're waiting right in the lobby for me,
Jack didn't have to think twice about his decision.
Okay. He squeezed her hand in a comforting gesture.
can read fishing magazines, or somethin,' while I wait.
Sam giggled, the noise sounding appreciative of his humor,
and nervous at the same time.
Okay... Let's do it.
Together, they climbed from the truck and headed into the building. Warm sunshine gave way to the coolness of air conditioning as they traversed the two doors and narrow entryway that greeted them and moved through the building. Jack walked a little closer to Sam than he strictly needed to in order to insure her protection, but he couldn't help his instinctual reaction as he noticed that the men and women employed by the precinct kept stopping whatever they were doing to stare at Sam in open-mouthed astonishment as they passed deeper into the office. Jack softly let his hand hover near her back as they walked, guiding her, and unconsciously marking her as 'claimed' as they came to a halt in a tiny anteroom at the apex of several office groupings.
Sam nervously stuffed her hand in her front pocket once
It's just over... She gestured behind her.
Jack did his best to remain agreeable, even as a jealousy
that he had not anticipated feeling suddenly bloomed inside his
chest. He stomped it down in his mind, and turned to her.
I'll wait for you right here, he determinedly said, and
indicated four or five empty chairs sitting in the empty circle
of the apex. He tried to ignore his jealous feelings enough to
You sure you'll be okay?
Sam smiled then.
As long as I know that you're waiting
for me, I'll be fine. She paused in her speech to
More than fine, actually...
Jack sent a smile her way, supporting her in this sure-to-be painful endeavor of hers, then settled down in a chair as she continued on to a door at the end of one of the hallways, and disappeared into the space behind the door. Jack sighed, then looked around, trying to ignore the surreptitious and curious glances thrown his way by the various employees seated at the desks surrounding him. He grabbed a magazine dedicated to... what else?... fishing... and was soon lost in the latest news about lures and bobbins and hooks.
Thus, Jack was very surprised when a slight shadow fell across the article he was engrossed in. Was Sam finished already? She had only been gone for a short time...
Jack looked up, then choked.
Shanahan! It was the
last person he expected to see.
I never thought I'd see you here, Pete admitted as he
fell into the chair next to Jack's.
Where's Sam? Jack instantly inquired as he shut and
tossed the magazine in his hands aside. He looked all around the
police office complex.
Is she all right?
Pete slouched down comfortably in the chair he had chosen to
sit in next to Jack.
She's fine, she's fine, he assured
I saw her disappear in the direction of the rest-room
just now. He was silent for a few seconds, then divulged,
But since I saw you sitting here after she left my
Sam asked me to come, Jack quickly assured.
not like I want to rub your nose in...
Pete interrupted him.
Actually, I'm glad that you
That admittance surprised Jack even more.
Since when had Shanahan ever been glad to see him?
Pete gave a slight roll of his eyes, and a raise of his
I know that we haven't exactly been the best of
friends up till now...
We couldn't even be in the same room together, Jack
So what's changed?
I met someone else, Pete suddenly blurted, and
Jack was astounded for the second time in the last fifty
What? he asked in a dull voice. This was soooo
not what he had expected to hear. He'd anticipated more that
Pete would be very upset... completely unhinged... at Sam's
ending of their long relationship. Jack hadn't known that he'd
expected Pete to react as he himself would have reacted in the
same situation. But he definitely hadn't expected Pete to tell
him that he had already moved on from Sam.
I mean, I'm very glad that Sam's all right, and all,
Pete readily admitted.
But? Jack prompted.
But... Then, Pete sighed in defeat.
Do you want
to hear the whole story?
Jack wasn't sure that he really wanted to hear it,
no, but he pretended to be affable for Sam's sake.
Pete relaxed into his chair, and began softly talking.
When it was obvious that something was wrong... When Sam had
been gone for... two weeks, I think... Or three weeks...
I get the picture. He didn't
particularly want to be reminded of the memories that accompanied
events that he couldn't help reliving.
Ah, now this is the General that I remember,
Pete told him.
Frowning at me...
It's gonna be more than a little frown if you don't get
on with it, Jack growled in a low voice.
Okay... Pete shifted in his chair, and continued.
Anyway, I called the base, and talked to that Sergeant
Walter? Jack questioned, surprised again.
never told me that.
Yeah, well, he told me what was going on. And I admit
that at first I was kind of a basket case, Pete said.
Then, another week passed, and I was still a nervous wreck...
And some of the guys around here convinced me that I needed to
see a therapist.
A shrink? Jack ascertained.
Pete turned to stare at Jack.
You know, they hate being
How would you know what they hate? Jack ascerbically
It's not like...
Pete broke in on what Jack was saying.
I know because I
went to see someone, talk it all out... And the next thing I
knew, we were talking it out over coffee and donuts at the local
coffee shop. Then it moved on to talking at dinner, then lunch,
I think I've heard enough.
Pete looked down at his knees, a slightly guilty expression
on his face.
I was glad to see Sam today, really I was, and
that she had gotten back okay...
You mean that we found her alive? Jack asked, a
biting edge to his voice.
Yeah, that too. He sighed again.
Two cups of coffee were suddenly thrust towards the two men.
I never thought I'd see the day when you two were talking,
Sam commented as she handed them their coffee, then picked up her
own cup from the table with the magazines on it, and slipped into
the chair on the other side of Jack from Pete.
Jack didn't miss the preference that Sam was very subtly showing in her choice of who to sit by, but he noticed that, according to the bland look on his face, Shanahan missed the entire thing. For that, Jack was grateful. Grateful both that Pete remained oblivious, and that Sam was very subtly choosing him. It was a childish gratitude, perhaps, but Jack still reveled in the feeling of it.
Pete took a sip of his coffee.
Ah, sugar and cream, just
the way I like it. Then he seemed to consider the situation,
as his expression grew ever more pensive.
Though I suppose
you would know that, wouldn't you, Sam? He cradled the warm
Styrofoam cup in his hands.
I was just telling the General
here about Kristin.
Ah. Sam nodded in understanding.
Jack said the first thing that came to his mind to say in
order to distract Sam.
Sugar, no cream... Just the way
I like it. Thanks, Carter.
Sam snorted at the sight of the two men sitting beside her
on the plastic chairs in the waiting area. They both looked like
they could simultaneously be nice to the other man, and happily
throttle him at the earliest convenient moment. She turned to
Jack and said,
I got a drink for you plenty of times on
missions to know how you take your coffee.
Sugar, the same as you, he said in an off hand
That negligent manner of Jack's was meant to cover a nervous
streak, Sam knew. He always sounded mildly sarcastic when he was
upset or nervous.
At least it's not black, like Daniel takes
Now there's a man with a serious addiction, Jack
Pete gazed at them over the rim of his coffee cup.
worry, I'm going, he flippantly said to the General's
unvoiced request to end the interview they were reluctantly
Sam appeared to be aghast.
Don't feel like you have to
run off just because...
Pete interrupted her to say,
If I wanted to feel
uncomfortable, I'd strip and do wrestling as a pastime.
Hey, now there's an idea, Jack sarcastically
Pete gave a little laugh as he rose.
But I don't want to
embarrass you guys, so...
Jack glanced at Sam, and joked as he asked,
Do you feel
embarrassed? He blinked, then swiveled around to glance at
Because I sure don't feel that way...
Boy, are you a rotten liar, Pete said.
Sam laughed then.
The General's an excellent liar,
actually. He must want us to know that he's lying through his
teeth right now, and actually feels embarrassed as hell...
She gave Jack the 'evil eye' expression as she spoke.
Jack's earlier scowl deepened.
I'll thank you to stop
Sam laughed again while Pete just looked like he didn't know
how to react to Jack's and Sam's verbal bantering.
he said at last.
I just wanted you both to know... No hard
Riiiight, Jack said, drawing out the word.
There's no hard feelings, Shanahan.
Pete looked really uncomfortable now.
Uh... Bye, then,
Sam, he said as he backed off towards his office, his coffee
See you around, General... Then he was
Sam took a deep breath in, soaking up the coffee smell, and
the Jack smell all in one gulp of air.
That went better than
I thought it would, she dryly commented.
Jack's voice was almost a whisper as he inquired,
gave the ring back and all?
Jack gave such a tiny smile that it was as if his features
grew lighter rather than he actually gave the gesture.
Good, was all he said.
Sam did smile at him then.
'Good?' Is that all you have
Jack glared at her.
I can't exactly do the dance I want
to do while we're in here... surrounded by cops... now can
Sam grinned again.
Then let's get out of here, she
Jack drained his coffee, and threw the cup into a nearby
I'm all yours, he said flirtatiously.
Sam followed suit with her own coffee cup.
mocked, and rose.
Why, you..! Jack mock threatened back as they
proceeded to walk out of the building together.
* * *
And so, that's the way it is, Mr. President, Jack
ended his explanation the next day to the leader of the country,
and to Generals Hammond and Francis, all conglomerated in the
Oval Office. Jack went on,
I'm not about to give up Sam after
all that we've both been through, and if the military disagrees
with my choice, then I'll retire... Unless the Joint Chiefs feel
that it's necessary to court-martial both of us.
General Hammond sighed after a silent moment had passed for
the gathered men to assimilate the new information they had heard
Jack, he began in a soft, restrained tone of
You know that court-martial is always the worst case
scenario way to deal with a misbehavior of this kind,
Jack had to snort softly at Hammond's comment.
more than 'a case of misbehavior,' though, if you don't mind me
saying so, Sir.
Sam cut in to the conversation then to add,
marriage to me in the 'Gate Room in front of several dozen SGC
personnel. I don't think this is one of those instances that can
just be reprimanded away.
Francis studied Colonel Carter and General O'Neill from his
seat on the sofa across the room.
And there's nothing we can
do to change your minds? he asked.
Or to encourage you
both to wait until one of you has officially retired from the
Sam snorted this time in her interruption of the officer.
General Francis, she said.
With all due respect, I was
pronounced dead for nine weeks. I may not have witnessed Jack's
personal distress following that news, but I certainly know of
it. And I agree with him that the military can do what it feels
it has to do with us, but neither of us are going to be dealt
with like conveniently invisible children who are seen and not
heard. This situation can't be quietly swept under the
proverbial rug. She then added,
We're done being like
Jack took up the commentary.
Throw us in jail if you
feel that you have to make an example out of us... Neither of us
would blame you if you did, even if we wouldn't like it very
well. Although we hope you don't feel that you have do do
that... He glanced at Sam.
But we aren't ashamed of the
way we feel about each other, either. We've felt the same way
for years, have successfully worked together for years, have
chosen not to ever do anything about our feelings for years, and
now we've decided that putting ourselves and our feelings aside
simply isn't an option any longer. He paused to smile at
Sam, and to wrap her hand with his fingers.
nothing worse that can be done to either of us that hasn't
already been done. He glared at the three men.
I've had to announce that the woman I want to marry was
K.I.A... Sam almost completely lost everything she's worked
years for by becoming a host... It can't get much worse
than that, he declared.
President Hayes thoughtfully and quietly spoke for the first
time during the interview, asking Jack and Sam,
opposed to changing your minds?
Sam smiled a bit tolerantly.
We don't want to
change our minds, Sir, she corrected him, deliberately
emphasizing the proper word in her statement.
But I'm more than willing to retire if
you want me to.
I am, too, after a pause had silenced
those on the room.
Eventually, Hammond broke that silence, and sighed a large
gust of air.
You might not have a choice in the matter,
Son, he admitted, though reluctance colored his voice.
Either of you.
Hayes went on,
And you may not know it, or admit it
yourself, but you are the best man we have to run the SGC,
Jack's face was cast a deep shade of red, and Sam grinned as
Thank you, Mr. President. That means a lot to me
Hayes went on,
And I'm well aware of what a fine soldier
and scientist Colonel Carter is... We don't want to loose either
of you to retirement.
Jack nodded a second time, but refrained from speaking. He only gripped Sam's hand all the tighter as they both nodded at the other man.
Francis asked again, just to make certain,
nothing we can do to tempt you to..?
Sam interrupted him to firmly state,
Hammond added a recap of the situation,
Jack, you wish to
retire, and Colonel, you plan to retire as well? She nodded,
so he continued,
And you don't want to go off world with SG-1
any longer? he added.
There is no SG-1 any longer, Jack reminded
It's not quite fair to expect Sam to die, then be
resurrected, only to be forced by our own ignorance of the matter
to go off world with a new team, he pointed out.
after everything that's happened.
Hayes sighed his frustration then.
Well... And he
slapped his knees to draw everyone's attention to him.
to talk this over with the Joint Chiefs, he said, then spoke
directly to Jack and Sam,
And I can't promise you anything at
Just promise to discuss the issue, Jack told him.
That's all we ask.
Sam poked at Jack's ribs, then.
The Tok'ra.., she
Oh, Jack said, and perked up a bit.
reminding me, Carter... er, Sam. He turned to face Hayes.
I turned future relations with the Tok'ra over to Colonel
Reynolds. General Hammond appeared confused, so Jack went on
I'm a bit too... He fished through his
conscious mind for the correct word to describe his current
feelings on the Tok'ra issue.
Too... too angry.., he
decided on saying.
Too angry with the way the Tok'ra chose to
to handle this situation to insure that future relations between
Earth and the Tok'ra won't be... strained... to say the
Hayes interrupted him to ask,
What are you saying
Jack colored red a second time during the short interview,
I'm saying that I'm afraid I might destroy our
future relations with the Tok'ra, Sir, that I'll say something
irreverent someday, and royally tick them off. I thought it
would be prudent of me to turn over those relations to Reynolds
before I have the chance to do any damage that can't be
Hammond grimaced, and sighed once more, but admitted,
Well, that was probably wise of you, if a bit
Sam broke into the conversation to say,
We realize that
this entire thing is inconvenient, Sir, but the military's desire
for simplicity isn't enough for us to change our minds
Jack burst out with,
They made Sam a host, for crying out
loud! The Tok'ra conscripted her without her knowledge or will,
and sent her off to capture a group of really bad-assed people.
And though she knew that she and her father might not succeed in
the long run, she went. And then, to really make matters as
awful as possible, the Tok'ra didn't bother to tell us at the SGC
about any of it! We couldn't even think of mounting a rescue
mission because we thought she was dead! Now, if the Joint
Chiefs feel that she... that any of us... should be punished more
than going through that, then they should go ahead and do what
they want to do. Then his voice lowered.
But don't you
think we've all gone through enough? He turned his question
into an appeal as he spoke.
Don't you think that she's
been through enough?
Three sighs of reluctant agreement, colored with irritation
at Jack and Sam, as well as at the Tok'ra, for creating this
unfortunate situation to begin with, sounded simultaneously
throughout the room. It was Francis who broke the following
We need to read your reports of the occurrence
Thank you for bringing those reports with you, by the
way, Hayes interjected, talking to Jack and Sam, who only
But I have to remind you both, General
O'Neill, Colonel Carter, that there's no guarantee
We know, Jack said, not allowing him to finish his
We know that we're both acting very
inconveniently, but we're tired of just being a convenience, two
officers who can always be counted on to risk their lives over
and over again without some kind of compensation. He turned
his grim visage towards the President then.
You can look on
this as me finally calling in the favor you mentioned a year ago
about granting, if that helps.
Hayes appeared to be lost in thought, but he responded to
Jack's suggestion anyway.
I might have to do that..., he
mumbled, still contemplating.
Thank you, Sam said then. She lifted her head to
glance at everyone in the room.
To all of you.
Again Hayes slapped his knees, then rested his arms on his
Well... If that's all..?
Jack had to laugh at the President's formal query.
think we've already given you enough to keep your thoughts busy
for a few days, at least.
Without missing a beat, President Hayes smiled and said,
Hopefully, a half hour will do.
Then we won't keep you, Jack said as he politely
gestured for Sam that he would follow her lead from the office.
Thank you. They smiled their good byes, then walked to
the door concealed in the semicircular wall.
Don't thank us yet, Hayes told them as they moved to
leave. Then, to the underling/intern/secretary who entered the
office as Jack and Sam crowded through the door, said,
need to talk to any of the Joint Chiefs that you can assemble on
short notice, and can you get a detachment of Secret Service
Agents to stay with General O'Neill and Colonel Carter for the
next... He glanced at the other two men in the office with
him, then decided,
For the next half hour, or forty-five
minutes, or so? He turned to Jack and Sam as they were
leaving. He explained,
This detachment of Secret Service is
for your own protection, you know, while you wait for us to make
some kind of decision about what to do with you... He didn't
finish his comment, almost as if his reference to Jack's and
Sam's special behavioral problem was plenty loud enough already.
Then he glanced again at the other men gathered in the room.
George, Francis... I want you both to stay. I have the
feeling that I'll need your expertise in this matter before it's
all over. Then he smiled at everyone in the room.
give me five...
Without another word, they were all ushered out of his inner office into the outer room, where a collection of desks met their combined forms. Jack tried not to bang his shins on any desk corners that might leap out to grab his unsuspecting legs in the following crush of people as they all filed out. He was busy considering that Hayes' last smile had been the first time that he had seemed like a true politician to Jack, and he didn't want to add an injury to his sudden perception.
Jack was stopped by the look of gloom and doom adorning both
Generals' faces as they left.
Don't look like that, he
told them in a subdued voice.
You're making me worry.
General Hammond sighed, then grinned.
Well, at least
your sense of humor hasn't changed, Jack, he commented.
Jack glanced at Sam.
It's the only thing that got me out
of bed every morning for the last two months, he noted. His
sigh echoed his one-time CO's.
At least I had
Yes, well.., General Francis muttered.
Jack interrupted him.
Think I'll take a walk, leave you
guys here to decide the fate of the Universe...
I'll go with you, Sam volunteered after taking one
look at her austere surroundings, and the gloomy expressions on
the people still in the office.
Another person whose name Jack didn't know opened the outer
office door for them. Jack and Sam moved as one through the door
and into the hallway.
How about outside? Sam asked then,
and a man... presumably of the Secret Service detachment...
pointed them in the right direction. As Jack and Sam trooped
down the corridor, the Agents followed them, remaining a discreet
distance behind the strolling couple. As they moved down the
hallway, Sam noted under her breath,
Do you think they're here
to keep us out of trouble, or to keep us from causing more
Jack had to grin at her inquiry.
Both, maybe, he
quietly said. Louder, he added,
But I have to admit that I
like your idea of waiting outside. If this is my last free half
hour, it would be nice to spend it in the sunshine of the planet
I've risked my life for so many times.
What do you want to talk about, then? Sam asked as
they pushed through a set of double doors, and suddenly found
themselves facing the green expanse of the White House lawns.
If we talk about what they're talking about... She
I might deflower the back yard at the
'Deflower?' Jack repeated in an awed tone.
don't think I even know what that means, but I have the sneaky
suspicion that it doesn't have anything to do with the plants in
Sam snorted again to hide her immediate laughter at his comment. She wasn't sure that laughter was entirely appropriate in this situation they found themselves in. Yet, at the same time, she was just so happy at finding herself in Jack's company again that she couldn't be as dour as she felt she should be.
We could decide what we want to do for the wedding,
We might never see it all come to fruition,
but that doesn't mean that we can't plan anything, he pointed
Good idea, Sam instantly agreed, even as she secretly
marveled at Jack knowing the definition of a word like
'fruition,' to say nothing of him being able to use it correctly
in a sentence. Jack was far more intelligent than even she had
realized, Sam was beginning to understand.
What do you have
in mind? she asked him then. They started strolling down a
sidewalk, as the grounds were wet from a rain the previous day,
despite the May sunshine now blazing down on them.
The SGC chapel? Jack hazarded to suggest.
That's a bit on the small side, Sam cautioned, then
went on to add,
Not that small isn't fine with me, but we need
to decide then if we want a big wedding, or a small
Jack looked toward Sam, clearly considering his options.
Either is fine with me, he finally told her.
planning on having the entire SGC attend the ceremony? he
Or do you not care about that? He glanced at her
That depends, she said with a wrinkle to her nose.
Do you want to invite... She paused to say,
people with high enough clearance?
But that leaves out your brother and his family, Jack
And that also leaves out... Sam hesitated to mention
the person she was thinking about.
Yeah? Jack prompted her once more.
That was when Sam stopped to peer down at the pavement under
her feet. Her face burned red, but she blurted,
Jack, did you
want to invite your... She ran out of air as she let it all
out in a whooshing sigh, and had to take in more. She tried
Sam, will you just spill it, already! Jack exclaimed
then, irritated with her indecisiveness. Which was unusual for
her, he realized. She was so rarely indecisive. But once she
had told him of who she was thinking about, her indecisiveness
was fully understandable.
Sara! Sam blurted to him on a second whoosh of air.
Were you thinking of asking her?
Jack was surprised once again by Sam's courage in mentioning
his ex-wife in the first place, and also proud of her ever
forgiving nature in thinking that he might wish her to attend his
second wedding. He paused on the path to gaze questioningly at
Sam. At last, he inquired,
Do you want me to ask her?
I hadn't thought much about it, Sam confessed,
squinting up at him in the strong sunlight.
We can't have any wedding in the SGC if we
invite people like Sara, who don't have the proper clearance,
he reminded her.
Maybe we should choose to have it at the
Academy Chapel? he suggested then.
But Sam wasn't going to be sidetracked by his change of
You didn't answer my question, she accused in a
mildly annoyed tone.
Do you want to invite Sara?
Instead of answering, Jack asked, hedging,
Sam stared pensively at a tree full of the white cherry
blossoms of late Spring.
I don't know, she haltingly
replied at last.
Wouldn't that be like throwing my old life in your face
on the day that should be just about you? Jack gently
His asking such a question let Sam know that it was still
more important to him to know that she had even thought of this
issue than the issue itself meant. Sam had to grant a tiny smile
at his query and its subsequent unspoken commentary.
day that's about you, too, she argued.
And it can hardly
be about you if we don't acknowledge that this is your
second marriage. She turned back to squint up at him again.
As awkward as that situation might be...
Jack hesitantly admitted that she was right with a nod of
Okaaaay, he carefully intoned.
But if we
invite Sara, then we can't invite... You know. Jack didn't
want to speak Thor's name in public, but he did wish to
acknowledge the small alien.
He is my 'little buddy,'
We may not be dumb enough for him,
anyway, she teasingly warned.
I'm going to tell him you said that, Jack warned
Sam gave a soft laugh, the sound tinkling across the expanse of yard to the Secret Service agents behind them, who perked up at the sound.
Careful, Jack whispered.
You're making the protector
Sam glanced behind them in the direction that Jack was
staring. She softly commented in his ear,
We wouldn't want
that, would we?
It had been a rhetorical question, Jack knew, which was
good, as he was suddenly too consumed by the delicious feel of
her lips next to the skin surrounding his ear to answer a louder
question. He couldn't let anyone, but especially not the agents
behind him, know that he was affected in such a way by her
nearness to him, especially as they were both currently wearing
their military uniforms, and had to behave accordingly. So Jack
only cleared his throat, smiled charmingly at the group of people
now staring at both him and Sam with suspicious gleams in their
eyes. Then, still smiling and looking as friendly as possible at
them, whispered to Sam,
You're going to either kill me, or
really embarrass me in front of Secret Service goons on the White
It was a statement made in such a desperate sounding whisper
that Sam gave another laugh. Still giggling, she lowered her
head to stare at the bland cement color of the sidewalk they were
standing on. She purposefully chose to place her hand on Jack's
stomach, and let her laugh tinkle again across the lawn.
Well, we are talking about our wedding after all,
If they think... certain other things... are
being discussed, who are we to dissuade them?
Jack's smile was now turned full beam onto Sam.
so evil... I love it, he told her in hushed tones. But then
he cleared his throat again, forcing his mind to remain fixed on
such boring things as wedding details when what he really wanted
to do was think of other things.
Okay, he said anyway in
determined, louder tones.
Maybe we can have the wedding
further up the mountain, in the outside air? he suggested
next to Sam.
Will that be a big enough place for everybody,
and one that won't have anything to do with everyone needing high
security clearance, like the SGC?
Sam was still grinning, especially at the discomfort that
she saw in Jack's eyes, looks that she had become more then adept
at reading over the past several years.
We can dress 'your
little buddy' in a long overcoat and a hat, like a fedora, I
guess, she said.
We can ask Teal'c what he might suggest
as far as hats go.
Jack sent her an appreciative look.
Dressing him up is
an idea that might work, he said.
I hadn't thought of
Just then, something made a slight beeping sound, its
insistent peel splitting through the air between the Secret
Service agents and the couple they were... guarding?...
protecting?... vigilizing?... Whatever they were actually doing
didn't really matter to Jack as he watched one man speak into a
radio, then listen, then nod to his unseen informant a moment
later. With no warning, he separated himself from the group, and
approached Jack and Sam further along the sidewalk than them. He
didn't smile or give the military personnel any indication of his
own personal pleasure or disappointment with his words as he
The President will see you now.
Thank you, Jack told him as the man turned away. He
found that he desperately wanted to take Sam's hand in his own
then for a comforting squeeze, but knew that a 'comforting
squeeze' on the hand of his second in command wasn't exactly one
of the auras that the Air Force would want one of their Generals
to project, especially when both he and Sam were wearing their
dress uniforms that represented that same elite military
organization. So, he settled for simply turning and gesturing
for Sam to precede him in the direction that would lead them back
to the Oval Office. He let his hand guide her by hovering just a
bit over her lower back, but he wouldn't touch her, no matter how
much he wanted to.
Together, they made their way back to the office they had
been invited to earlier, a space that was now crowded with men
and women in and out of blue uniforms. He looked around at them
until he spied the familiar, friendly face of George Hammond, and
he didn't look away again as he asked,
So, you've reached a
decision about us already?
Hammond gave a grim nod.
Yes, he said, speaking for
everyone gathered in the office.
That was fast, Jack commented under his breath,
though the others gathered together heard every word he had to
say. No one spoke, though, so finally Jack went on to comment,
Alright, the suspense is killing me... What did you
decide? he asked.
Is it acceptable for Sam and I to
marry, or are we spending the next five years staring at the bars
in the cells at a minimum security prison?
Hammond sighed again, showing his unhappiness at speaking
his next words, but duty bound to say, no matter how unpleasant
he personally found the task,
General O'Neill... Colonel
Carter. His voice was formal as he intoned the titles of his
Please stand up so that everyone can see
Sam spoke as she and Jack rose from the seats they had
formerly occupied on one of the sofas,
Why am I getting the
impression that this has turned into formal proceedings whether
we want them to be or not?
George Hammond sent her a brief smile.
proceedings are as formal as we can make them on such
short notice, and in the wrong venue. Then he continued as
if he hadn't just spoken,
We've discussed the situation among
ourselves, and I feel that I need to point out that there are
those among us who favor locking you both up for several years,
and throwing away the keys. And he glanced around the room
at the others gathered together, but his gaze wouldn't land on
any of them, incriminating no one.
However, Hammond continued at last.
have your supporters, the President among them... Here, he
glanced once at Hayes, then back at Jack and Sam as he went on,
And this is the compromise we reached in the short notice we
were given in discussing this matter. He eyed Jack and Sam.
General O'Neill... Colonel Carter, he repeated.
the will of the organization to which we all belong that you both
meet several requirements before given the opportunity to further
your personal situation. General... He turned to face Jack.
It's been decided that you will retire from the military, as
you desire, but that, due to your unique knowledge and abilities
concerning Earth's continued defense from intergalactic...
He seemed to search for the word he wanted. At last, he said,
Intergalactic whatever, you will retain command of the SGC.
In retiring, you will gather your pension, but your future salary
will be docked for a year by no less than a sum of $10,000, and
no more than a sum of $20,000, and there will be no contact with
the Air Force beyond your dealings with the SGC, which will
probably be enough for you to handle, anyway. He turned his
head then to take in Sam.
Colonel Carter... Here,
Hammond gave a regretful sigh, a gesture that sent chills of
foreboding up Jack's spine. However, he remained silent, and
Hammond went on,
It's been decided that your bid for
retirement from the military has been denied. You're far too
valuable as the 'Gate expert to let you go. You will report
under Dr. Lee for your future job position, your salary will also
be docked by the sum of $10,000, not to exceed $20,000 in a year,
and you will continue to lend your personal experience and
knowledge to the military as concerns the Stargate, and anything
discovered by means of said Stargate. Your future personnel
evaluations will be handled by Colonel Reynolds, so that your own
husband will not be in charge of holding such power over you in a
work situation. He took in both Jack and Sam then.
either agree to all this, or face a court-martial, which may or
may not find in favor for your continued happiness at the SGC.
How do you respond to all this? he inquired then, the sense
of formality dropping out of his tone.
Is there anything you
wish to request a compromise on?
Jack's hand did gravitate over to Sam's then, and he wrapped
his fingers around the ends of hers.
Um.., he said, just
beginning to understand the implications of Hammond's words.
Then he looked to Sam, gauging her expression, then looked back
at the gathered throng.
Sam squeezed his fingers then, willing him to silence as she
Everything seems fine... acceptable... more than
fair... Then she beseeched her former Commanding General
with her blue eyes narrowed to inquiring slits.
Can we run
now before anyone changes his or her mind?
Hammond had to chuckle at the question.
That's what I
would do, I admit, he noted.
Just as long as neither of you make a
habit of this... He waved his hand around at the other
people in his office.
Now get the hell out of here while we
hold back the hoards who want to prosecute you instead...
Sam tugged on Jack's hand.
Yes, Sir. Then, she
pulled Jack out of the office like the Wraith were hot on their
tails, and not until they were relatively alone in the outer
office did she let the breath out that she had been holding.
Sam! Jack then declared in an aggrieved, irritated
tone of voice.
You didn't give me a chance to respond at
Sam sighed in relief despite Jack's words.
she said at last.
I planned it that way.
That statement made Jack jerk back.
Before you could say something that might invite that
court-martial that seemed to be hanging over our heads.., she
explained. Then she rolled her eyes.
Jack, you have to admit
that your temper, once it's started, builds pretty quickly to
near boiling point. I wanted to get us out of there before you
could say anything that might make anyone change their
Jack seemed to be considering her words, but he felt he had
But you didn't let me say anything!
Now Sam was getting irritated herself.
You might have
said something that could hurt you, me, us..! She placed a
calming hand on his arm despite both of them still wearing their
I didn't want too give you the chance to
commit vocal suicide. I know you, Jack.., she warned.
Jack balked a second time.
But don't you think that all
that money that we agreed to give up is... well... is quite a bit
Maybe, Sam muttered, looking around now at the office
workers who refused to meet her gaze, thus lending her and Jack
some privacy in a public setting.
But as opposed to a
possible prison term, I'll take it, even if the next year proves
to be financially pretty hard on both of us. She then
dragged him out into the deserted hallway. There was no sign of
a Secret Service Agent now. For that, Sam was glad.
ready to head home, Commander?
Jack reared back again at the unfamiliar title.
Let's go, before something more happens, Sam
suggested, cutting him off.
We have a wedding to
Jack didn't respond to her comment, but he did give a slow
smile as the fine details of their situation dawned on him.
Yeah, he said in a brightening tone, as if he had just
discovered something exquisite.
* * *
A Week And A Half Later:
Daniel calmly gazed at Sam over the artifact still in his
hands as he stood at the desk in his office. He met Teal'c's
gaze as the Jaffa stood near his office shelves, then returned
his gaze to his former team leader.
And what happened
then? he hesitantly asked Sam, as if he weren't sure that he
truly wanted to know, but that he had to ask in order to fully
understand the events of all that had happened to Sam and Jack
the week before.
I mean, you were only back that one day
before you were off to the wedding.
Sam's eyebrows rose on her creamy white forehead.
or after Jack was able to commandeer places for both of us on a
transport plane heading from D.C. back in the Colorado Springs
direction? she queried.
Sam nodded too.
We figured that finding seats for us on
the plane might be Jack's last act as a General, you know. He
figured that we might as well enjoy the privileges of his rank
while that rank lasted... And he was right...
Daniel had to grin at Sam's cheerful attitude about all that had transpired for her, and he was secretly marveling at how much money Sam was willing to give up so that she could be with Jack. Together, their combined salary losses equaled a possible $40,000. He suspected that they wouldn't be buying a new car anytime within the next year or so...
Daniel encouraged her with another nod, so Sam continued,
Well, after we returned to our hotel, changed out of our
uniforms, made wild love on the floor...
Too much information! he suddenly
Sam giggled for such a length of time that Daniel looked
like he wondered if she was telling him the truth or not.
Sorry, guys.., she said, glancing between Daniel and
Teal'c, and back to Daniel.
I don't want to make you
uncomfortable, after all... She calmed, cleared her throat,
then went on,
We caught a cab to the airfield... Jack didn't
feel right about calling for a car since he was going to pull for
a spot on the next plane out... and then we flew to the Springs,
and here we are. Sam shrugged as if to note that their
journey had not been as big a deal as it had seemed.
After spending a fun-filled five days filled with a
wedding and honeymoon in Vegas. After the... I don't know what
we should call it exactly. Daniel still looked as if he was
trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Jack wasn't going to
be his friend, General O'Neill, for much longer, when Teal'c's
voice broke through his reverie.
Do you plan..? What are your plans now,
ColonelCarter? asked the Jaffa.
Still smiling at her friends' inquisitiveness, Sam
Well, Teal'c... Then she seriously regarded
her alien comrade.
We don't quite know, Teal'c, she
We still want to get married here, in front of our
friends, someday, and now that we can, we...
She was interrupted when the phone rang. Daniel reached for
it, since it was his phone.
Daniel Jackson, he smoothly
said into the receiver. He listened for a minute, then handed
the receiver over to Sam.
It's for you.
She took it.
Thanks. Then, into the phone, said,
This is Colonel Carter...
* * *
Jack's black phone rang from where it was resting off to the
side on his desk. He finished signing the form under his pen,
glanced at his watch, noted that he had about five minutes before
he had to run down to the 'Gate Room in order to see SG-9 off on
their next mission, then answered the insistently clanging phone.
O'Neill, he tiredly said. He fervently hoped that he
would not be told of a new crisis that would require reams of
paperwork from him. Nothing could wear him out faster than
paperwork, he admitted to himself. But then a large,
introspective grin lit up his face, and he had to change his
recent assessment of life: Nothing could wear him out like
paperwork except for Sam, that is...
Jack listened for a moment, then his face blanched a bit.
He glanced again at his watch, muttered,
Crap, under his
breath, then said to the unknown guard on the other end of the
Have her sign a Nondisclosure Form, explain the whys and
wherefores to her, and then show her to my office... I have to
see SG-9 off in about two minutes. Tell her I'll be right with
her. With that, he rose, hurried out of the room after
closing the door behind him, pushed the button on the wall that
would lower the shield over the blast window in the Briefing
Room, then hurried down the stairs and into the corridor outside
the 'Gate Room. He was self-consciously twirling his new ring
the entire time, still not entirely used to its presence on his
finger, but reminding himself that it was a good presence,
whether he was used to it or not.
SG-9 was already suited up and standing ready in the 'Gate
See you in two days, he said as he drew near them.
Don't harm any trees while you're there.
Major Jans smiled her warm smile.
Yes, Sir, she said
to O'Neill's parting warning.
I think the trees on PRX-973
are safe from us, she told him.
We'll be back with that
Bring me a t-shirt, he said.
See you in
With collective grins on their faces, the five person team headed up the ramp towards the activated Stargate. As a final thought ghosted through his mind about a having another female team leader under his command, he considered how his wife had set the precedent for such a thing. He jauntily turned back to the open door behind him as soon as the 'Gate deactivated. It's good to be back in business, he thought, though he had immensely enjoyed his honeymoon, even as short as it had been. Now for... He headed back to his office, and the person waiting there for him.
Sara! He jovially greeted as he opened the Briefing
Room office door.
What brings you here? he asked, then
You never call, you never write...
Jack! Sara O'Neill exclaimed as she rose from one of
the chairs fronting her ex-husband's desk to lean in and give him
a quick hug.
I can't believe this is all... She paused,
caught by the glint of his new ring in the light cast from the
fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling.
When the hell did
you get married again?! she half screeched, half
whispered in complete awe.
Jack nervously fingered the gold ring on his left hand once
Sorry about not telling you before now, he said.
It was all pretty sudden, or I would have said
Sara gazed at him in astonishment.
Jack! she loudly
It's not like you to..!
Suddenly, Jack grinned a huge grin.
I know it's not,
he told her.
Great, isn't it?
Sara peered at him in astonishment as if she didn't know quite what to say.
It was during this silence that Jack was able to get the
quiet he needed to study his ex-wife, and that was when he
noticed several key details.
You let your hair grow
longer, he noted.
I like it.
Sara self-consciously brushed a lock of blonde hair over her
shoulder. An awkward few seconds ticked by, and then Sara broke
the quiet with a question.
Well, when did all this
happen? she inquired, gesturing at his left hand as she
Jack again fingered his ring.
Um... He hesitated.
About one week ago...
Is that all? Sara blurted.
Why wasn't I told
about all this?
Jack had the decency to color a deep shade of red.
It wasn't like we were trying to keep it a secret or
anything, he explained.
The day after we got back from
seeing the President...
Sara gulped and gave a squeak at the mention of the leader of the country, but didn't interrupt Jack's explanation.
Anyway, Jack continued.
That morning, she came
running in here, asking how I felt about a Vegas wedding, since
we couldn't figure out a way to combine those with security
clearance, and those without security clearance, and...
Suddenly Jack brightened.
We had it all videotaped... I'll
send you a copy if you'd like.
Sara continued to stare with a shell-shocked expression on
Uh... I didn't have any idea you had become so
important.., she said, again appearing to think of Jack's
meeting with President Hayes.
I was a General, Jack explained.
But now I'm
Um, Sara went on.
Yeah, I'd like a copy of that
tape... or I'd at least like to see it...
Okay, Jack told her.
I'll have Sam make a copy
right now. He picked up the phone, dialed an extension, and
waited only a few seconds before the receiver at the other end
Hi, this is the Commander...
He waited again while whoever had answered the phone handed
the receiver to the Colonel without him even asking to speak to
her. She said something, and Jack grinned.
Hey... You got a
minute to make another copy of the tape? He paused, then
Send it up with T. I want to see him before he heads
out anyway. Jack laughed at something she said to him, then,
and he responded,
I don't know about you, but I vote for those
sandwiches from the deli on Main Street... He paused again,
I don't know about that, he hedged
I don't know if I can handle a non work
related meal. Then, the subject clearly changed, for he
brightened and added,
Already? Man, I didn't think your house
would sell that fast! He laughed again.
No, I'll wait a
year on that selling of mine... He listened again.
know that you don't think... Listen, we'll talk about it
tonight... Well, we have to eat sometime... We can talk
then... Okay, see you soon. Then he hung up the receiver
and turned back to Sara.
Never a dull moment, he quipped
with a grin.
You don't need to make this video if it's a bother,
Sara began to say when Jack stopped her.
It's no bother! he assured her.
Sam said that she
would just throw it in the machine while she calibrated...
Jack took a breath of air while he considered.
something about something with a really long name.
Something to do with Science, if you don't remember it, I
bet, Sara said then, a grin on her face.
Well, thanks for
the video. I appreciate it.
Jack grinned as he sat down behind the large desk in the
No problem, he said.
Now... What can I do for
you? he asked.
Well... Sara sat down heavily in one of the chairs
across from Jack.
Wedding's are kind of what I need to talk
to you about, she admitted.
Jack... Then she drew in
a big breath and blurted,
Jack, I'm getting married in another
Jack beamed at his ex-wife. His attitude had greatly
improved since his own wedding.
Sara, that's great! he
I admit that this isn't how I expected you
to take this news. I was pretty nervous coming over here,
But I wanted to tell you face to face,
and... She swallowed once.
That seemed to make Jack even happier.
great... She peered at him,]unconvinced.
Really, he protested.
And you said something about selling a house? she
politely inquired, spurring his explanations then.
Oh, yeah, that. Jack gestured towards the phone on
We were talking about Sam's old house... My
wife, he said, then looked as if he thought it strange that
he was speaking of his current wife to his ex-wife. He noisily
cleared his throat so that he could go on.
Sold it to some
medical student on rotation...
Well, Sara said with a smile in his direction.
Tell me about... Jack pointed at her engagement
Your new fella.
Sara looked down as if she had never seen her own fingers
before. She grinned then.
Oh! she exclaimed.
he's a lawyer, works for that downtown firm, Barnes and Stowe...
In fact, he's the 'Barnes' part...
A lawyer, Jack appreciatively said.
Where did you
happen to meet a lawyer?
At a Church trip for singles, she told him. Then her
We don't all have the same lack of experience with
religion as you do, Jack, she said with a roll of her
Well, Jack said this time, trying hard not to give
too much classified material away with the dour expression on his
face, as Sara used to be good at reading his looks.
I say? he rhetorically inquired.
We can't all be
Just then, a knock on the door sounded, and when Jack
Come in! Walter entered his office, followed by
Sam, without Teal'c.
She handed over a video tape.
Here it is, Jack! she
Signed, sealed, and with all the right 'i's'
Jack just as smoothly handed the tape on to Sara as she
stood up as the new people entered his office.
go, he said.
'Sam!' Sara exclaimed.
Your wife's name is Sam?
I just thought...
Sam rolled her eyes a bit, and grinned.
I get that a
lot, she said, then held out her hand to shake.
Sam, and you are..?
I'm Sara, she said.
Sara O'Neill, soon to be
Sam's face fell in a comical swoop as she realized whose
hand she was shaking.
A voice over the PA system interrupted her.
O'Neill, to the Control Room, Colonel O'Neill, to the Control
Sara looked back and forth between Jack and Sam and back
Boy, that's weird to hear, she muttered under her
Well, Sam said, and shrugged.
That's me, so I
better... She began heading back out the door she had come
in, but Jack stopped her.
Go this way, he said, and pointed to the Briefing
Sam made for the door.
Sold my house, Jack, she
called back as she went through the door.
How much? he asked.
We close next week, but it looks like it pulled in
For that little thing?
Sam snorted her laughter at his comment.
So Jack went on,
It's good that you sold the
Sam giggled, and interrupted,
No, it's sweet! she
Hey, that's my line! Jack yelled after her. When she
was gone, he turned back to Sara.
That whirlwind was my
wife, he said.
Colonel Carter.., Walter began, then corrected
himself by saying,
'Colonel O'Neill' is quite busy.
Jack looked at his aid, askance.
That's the first time
I've ever heard you mess up on something like that, he noted.
Walter, you're getting soft.
Walter solemnly regarded his Commander.
It won't happen
again, Sir, I promise, he assured.
Jack glanced at the determined expression on Walter's face,
I don't doubt it.
Walter remained seemingly unaffected by the words.
I've come to tell you that it is time for.., He threw a
glance at Sara, and finished by saying,
For Murray to return
to out of town.
Right now? Jack inquired.
Walter gave a nod of his head.
Okay, okay, Jack muttered, then shook his head and
added in barely a whisper,
Like running a zoo for traveling
Walter only glanced at the former General, and declared,
We all know that you enjoy your work, so there's no use in
The General's 'demotion' to Commander had made Walter
entirely too cheeky, Jack decided. Yet, he cheerily cast a
glance at his friend and aid.
You can see right through me,
can't you? he jestingly inquired.
But Walter answered the jest as seriously as he used to
answer a question.
You're still as... readable... as one of
Dr. Jackson's reference books, he proclaimed.
Not to worry, Walter added.
I don't understand
Sara had watched the exchange between the two coworkers with
Well, Jack, at least no one around here takes you too
seriously. They must know you too well.
Jack tried to send a smile towards his ex-wife and warn
Walter at the same time,
When they think they know me too well
is when I throw them a curve ball.
Heaven help the military, Sara declared.
Well said, Mrs.
Jack then used the trick that he'd seen President Hayes use
just a few weeks earlier, and clapped his hands together to bring
their attention back to him.
Well, kids... He turned to
Hey Walter, I don't suppose you can escort Sara back
to the surface for me? That will give me time to meet... He
Time to meet Murray, and to say good bye before he
Walter only nodded his head, then gestured to Sara towards the door into the corridor.
If there isn't anything else..? Jack asked. Sara
shook her head, then rose to join Walter at the door.
Enjoy that tape. If there's any problems... which I doubt, as
Sam made the copy and not me... just let me know so we can do it
Sara had time to wave and say,
Thanks, and the wedding
invitation will be in the mail.
Excellent, Jack commented, then added,
there, he promised. He didn't feel nearly as aggravated as
he had always expected to feel at Sara' news.
Sara managed a nod, then Walter was walking into the corridor, and Sara followed, closing the door behind her.
Well, that went well, Jack said to no one in
particular, then headed back down to the Control Room, where he
found Sam staring in perplexity at the dialing program. Jack
Isn't she cute when she's all confused? he
rhetorically inquired to a suddenly red Lieutenant Davis seated
next to her.
Don't embarrass him, Jack, Sam instructed in a light
It isn't nice.
Hey, I'm being nice, Jack said back.
isn't embarrassed, are you? Lieutenant Davis dutifully shook
his head while looking embarrassed as hell.
Sam rolled her eyes.
Didn't we talk about being nicer
while at work?
This time, Jack's response wasn't so quiet, nor so affable.
I am nice! he protested.
Sam turned to Davis, who only stated,
Don't ask me. I'm
not getting in the middle of this.
Wise move, he declared. Sam pushed
several buttons on her keyboard, then examined the new
configuration of data on her screen. At the same time, she said
You'll never guess who I got a phone call from today.
Go on, guess.., she ordered.
Santa Claus, he suggested.
Sam rolled her eyes.
I had to tell him you don't deserve
anything this year.
Hey! Jack exclaimed.
I'm being good. He
nonchalantly studied the 'Gate for a moment, then softly added,
I'm good for me, that is.
But Sam heard him anyway.
I told him to call back in
another month to ask again.
You didn't! Jack exclaimed, horrified.
Okay, you caught me... I didn't...
Sam..! Jack warned her with his voice.
Guess again, Sam instructed, then cut him off before
he could say anything.
No, you'll never guess.
How do you know? He inquired.
You won't let
Pete called, Sam bluntly told him.
Jack grimaced the second he heard the cop's name.
right... I never would have guessed that... And I would have
been perfectly happy never hearing his name again.
Sam didn't listen to him, but added,
He's not getting
Jack was surprised to hear this.
He's not? he
Nope, Sam let him know.
He said that she
said that on second thought, he had gotten over me waaaaaay to
quickly, and that he had a rejection problem.
Rejection! Jack loudly snorted.
that tiny detail about you being dead.
Yeah, Sam agreed.
There was that. But he said
that she said...
This is beginning to sound like a soap opera with all the
'he said,'/'she said' crap.
Wait, Sam told him then, continuing to type in
commands to the program on the computer in front of her.
gets better, she told him.
It seems that Kristin told him
the wedding was postponed as long as he checked himself into a
voluntary behavioral rehabilitation hospital, or the wedding was
off if he refused. So he wanted to tell me that, if I needed him
for anything, I can reach him at the SafeZone Rehab. Clinic until
I'm told otherwise.
Jack leaned into the back of her padded chair and laughed.
Good place for him! he exclaimed, still laughing.
told him that you won't need anything now, right, Sam? She
didn't respond immediately, and he queried again,
Sam seemed to come to her senses, for she said,
right, that's what I said...
Jack grimaced again. He chuckled evilly. She chuckled
because he was chuckling. At last, he said,
This could become
that embarrassing moment that you've been secretly fearing for
ages. I could say...
Don't bother.., Sam quickly interrupted him before he
could say something specific and reveal all sorts of confidential
matter about her.
The people at the base wouldn't believe you
anyway, she said without taking her eyes from her computer
They're too smart for that. Her voice was so
blas‚ that it was instantly intriguing all by itself.
least, they wont believe anything they hear about me. But
That's it, Jack declared. He pulled Sam, still in
her chair, away from her computer terminal.
Grab your coat,
and let's go. Then he stared at Sam with her fingers still
poised in the air as if she had been about to type something on
her keyboard. He added,
And if I have to make that an order,
Sam replied immediately,
You can't technically give me
... or anybody... orders anymore.
Jack's comeback was quick and decisive. He ignored his
wife's comment, and turned instead to Davis.
Get Siler to
take a look at the 'Gate, he ordered, in spite of the
After T. leaves... again, I might add... we'll
be at the deli at the bottom of the mountain for the next hour...
I have a date.
Davis' face turned red again, but he intoned,
Sam huffed, and pretended that she disliked having her
computer time interrupted, but everyone on base knew that for the
Commander, she would gladly interrupt just about anything, even
her work on the new naqueda enhancer she was currently building.
Okay, she grumbled, though.
Meet you in the 'Gate
Room. She stood and left the Control Room to retrieve her
coat in the lab assigned to the Science department.
Jack grinned, openly watching her leave. He was getting
used to this open admiration he could show to her now. He
sighed, grinned again, then clapped his hands together one last
time just as he saw Teal'c enter the 'Gate Room at Daniel's side,
wearing his robes that denoted a trip to Dakarra.
muttered as a parting comment to Davis before heading down to
join his friend's.
It's time, I think, for a whole new
Yes, Sir, Davis said, because he didn't know what
else to say. He cleared his throat at the uncomfortable silence
Dialing the 'Gate for Dakarra, he
announced, punching the correct address into his keyboard.
Briefly Jack wondered how the man could anticipate his
requests before he even made them, but ignored his own wonderings
Do that, Lieutenant. The 'Gate began spinning as
steam hissed out into the room. From the stairs, Jack called
And have a message sent to the Tok'ra while I'm gone to
tell Jacob that we sold Sam's house, so if he comes around in the
future that he needs to come to my house instead of hers...
And... He glanced at his aid when his personal aid was
Can I bring you anything from the
No, Sir, Davis crisply added to the personal request.
Though the thought is appreciated, Sir. The Commander had
become more personable since his 'demotion,' and few at the SGC
quite knew how to handle it yet.
Suddenly Jack grinned, astonished at how happy he was at
this suddenly innocuous moment in his life when only a month
earlier, he had been so miserable. But it was time for him to be
happy, he decided. More than time.
Later, Davis, he
called, and ran down the stairs after grabbing his own coat,
ready to see his friend off on yet another grand adventure.
The right time, he muttered to himself, and joined his
friend's in the 'Gate Room, right where he was supposed to
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