Beyond 'Moebius' - A Novel

Version One

by Linda Bindner

Part V: The Main Event

Rehearsal

That was the fastest two weeks in history, I think, Daniel quietly remarked to Teal'c, who was standing beside him, who was standing beside a nervous Jack, who was standing 'at the altar' (i.e. the front of this unreligious room that had been dubbed 'the chapel of the SGC').

The time was not unnaturally rushed, DanielJackson, Teal'c whispered back in a hushed voice. I do not understand such a comment.

Daniel gave a grimace: sometimes Teal'c could be so literal! I didn't mean that some invisible source affected the timeline, Daniel patiently explained. I meant that so much happened in such a short amount of time that the last two weeks seemed to have gone by very quickly. But I know that it was just an illusion, nothing more. Time was completely normal - I was just busy.

As you say, DanielJackson, Teal'c replied out of the corner of his mouth.

That was when Jack tapped the watch strapped to his wrist, then glared at the timepiece, and cut Daniel's answer off to ask, Is she late? I don't suppose anyone has a watch or anything?

Daniel pointed to the watch on Jack's left wrist and inquired, Is something wrong with the watch that you're wearing?

Jack shook his left hand, watch included. No. It just seems like it should be later than my watch says it is. I was wondering if it had stopped or something.

Nooooo, Daniel said as he gazed at the watch on his own wrist. I seem to have the same time that you do.

Which meant they had some time yet to wait before Sam's side of the wedding party arrived in the room so that the rehearsal could commence. Jack heaved a sigh.

Teal'c glanced at him out of the other corners of his eyes. You have nothing to fear, O'Neill, he stated in a flat tone. ColonelCarter will be here, and on time.

Daniel leaned in to whisper to Teal'c It's obligatory for the groom to think the bride is late for her own wedding.

I thought this was just the wedding rehearsal, Teal'c objected. Am I incorrect? he asked.

Nope, Daniel informed him. But if you're thinking that something will happen, like it did at Car'ryn and Ry'ac's wedding rehearsal, you have nothing to worry about.

It's not that, Jack answered for Teal'c. I'm just concerned that the 'Gate will choose this moment to break down or something, and the SGC will desperately need Samantha Carter's amazing brain in order to solve the problem.

Teal'c once again stared at Jack. The Stargate is an inanimate object... How can it 'choose' this moment to break down? he curiously asked.

Jack sighed, then did a little jump in order to work off some of his nervous tension he was feeling. It's a figure of speech, Teal'c, he said. Then he looked at his watch again. Are we sure that it's only 1530?

Teal'c sighed as well this time. Looking at your time piece will not cause time to move faster, he sagely stated.

It's called a watch, and you know that, Jack told him, then jumped again.

Well, we could be like regular guys, and talk about the latest football game, Daniel suggested after another silent moment had gone by, and Sam still hadn't appeared.

We've never been regular guys, Jack instantly objected. Do you suppose she changed her mind?

Teal'c gave a long-suffering sigh. That is the third time you have asked such a question, O'Neill. ColonelCarter would not change her mind at this late date, he repeated his soothing promise once more.

She's wanted this forever, Daniel next informed. Why would she skip out now? he rhetorically asked.

Teal'c went on in a firm, knowing tone, She will be here.

Just then, the door to the chapel burst open, and Jonas Quinn appeared, walking quickly up the aisle at his usual hurried clip.

Behind him, at the door, Cassie Fraiser loudly stage whispered, Slower, Jonas! This isn't a race!

Jonas smiled, and slowed to almost a crawl. Like this?

Cassie could be seen by the three men standing at the 'altar' to roll her eyes and instruct Jonas, A little faster than that, you alien geek from another planet!

Jonas was seen by those at the front of the room to grimace. Like you can talk! he retorted.

Hey! Cassie retorted back. At least I don't watch The Weather Channel!

Jonas seemed to take offense at that statement, for he stopped walking and turned to face Cassie. Hey yourself! he stage whispered back to her. There's nothing wrong with watching The Weather Channel, I'll have you know! he put his hands on his hips in aggravation. Sam rigged up a whole machine to take back with me so I can watch some of the recordings that she made of The Weather Channel, so she doesn't think it's so weird! Why do you?

Yep, Jack was busy thinking. They'll end up getting hitched. They've got the fighting-as-flirting thing down already.

Cassie scowled back, but looked like she wanted to smirk at Jonas. Oh, just walk! You're ruining Sam's wedding!

Sam's wedding? Jack had been under the impression that he needed to be here at the rehearsal for a wedding to happen, too. I guess that I don't count, he thought.

Jonas did smile back at Cassie then. I'm walking, I'm walking! he sang out to he walked backwards down the aisle at a double-quick pace, then took his place on the side opposite 'the guys' when Jack pointed to it with his index finger. Thanks, Colonel, he whispered, then shook his head, grimaced again, then corrected, I mean, General. Then he shook his head again, and added, Jack. Then he looked quizzical. What am I supposed to call you now?

Old married man, Daniel quipped.

Jack scowled at a smirking Daniel, then told his alien friend who had only just stepped through the Stargate in the SGC that afternoon, 'General' is fine, Jonas.

That was when Cassie joined the growing group of people at the front of the room. Hi, Jack! she enthusiastically whispered, and giggled before moving to stand next to Jonas.

Hey! Jonas instantly objected. How come she gets to call you 'Jack?'

Jack took in both Cassie and Jonas standing beside him. He eyed Cassie, then asked Jonas, And how successful were you at telling Cassie what to do when you lived here?

Jonas remembered for a moment, then said, Ah, I see your point, General.

Call me 'Jack,' Jack said then.

Jonas rolled his eyes this time. The higher rank didn't scramble your brains, I see, he said. They were already scrambled: You haven't changed a bit.

The rank didn't do that; the Ancient Downloads did that scrambling part, Daniel whispered.

Jack turned on his friend. Daniel! he hissed. So not good memories to be dredging up right now!

Daniel leaned over to whisper, Just give me another minute, and I'll bring up Ba'al! he said with mock menace in his voice.

Threats are inappropriate at a wedding, Teal'c reminded them. If you do not desist, DanielJackson, I will have to sit on you in order to make you watch another Star Wars marathon.

Yeah, what he said! Jack told Daniel in a low voice. And I'll help him with the sitting part!

Well I.., Daniel began to retort, but that was the time that Sam and General Hammond stepped around the corner to begin their slow walk up the center aisle. Sam was dressed in her long-sleeved black t-shirt, and a long burlap sack.

Jack burst out laughing the second he saw Sam. God, I don't believe you remember me saying that bit about the sack in the Briefing Room! he yelled, still laughing so hard that he had to wipe tears from his eyes.

Sam smiled up at General Hammond walking beside her, holding her arm in his, and also smiling. I think the sack thing was a big hit, Sir.

Hammond continued to grin: he couldn't help himself. As long as you don't wear it at the wedding tomorrow, I'd have to agree with you, Colonel.

No ranks! suddenly bellowed Master Bra'tac, who was standing in front of Jack, Teal'c, Daniel, Jonas, and Cassie, ready to begin co-performing the ceremony with Daniel. He turned to closely regard Jack. If I recall, that is what you asked, O'Neill of Minnesota, he said.

So I did, Jack spluttered, bending over now, still laughing.

Hey! Jonas then objected, but no one paid any attention to him.

Still laughing, Jack moved down the aisle to meet General Hammond and Sam. He hugged Sam, sack and all, and laughed in her ear. That was great! he declared. I just hope... Splutter splutter laugh laugh. ... you listen to... Full out belly laugh. ... to George... Gasp. ... and wear something more appropriate tom... Laugh, gasp, laugh again. Tomorrow! he finally got out.

Jack's laughter was infectious, and Sam giggled, though she'd had two weeks since she'd first thought of doing 'the sack thing' to get used to the idea. Don't worry, she said. I have a normal wedding dress for tomorrow. Just ask Cassie if you don't believe me.

You're gonna love it, Jack! Cassie enthused. It has...

Daniel cut her off. Don't tell him! he screeched. It's bad luck! Then he looked around in puzzlement at everyone gathered in the room. Isn't it? He asked. Cassie shrugged when he looked at her. Jonas shrugged. Ah, you're on alien: you wouldn't know, Daniel said, dismissing his opinion. Besides, you watch The Weather Channel.

Cassie smirked at Jonas out of knowledgeable eyes.

But Teal'c shrugged as well when Daniel next glanced at him. So Daniel gave up. Jack needs all the good luck he can get, he said then as a defense for his question.

Thanks, Daniel, Jack managed to say as he drew Sam up to the 'altar.' Then he turned back. Oh, the General is supposed to give you away or something.

Sam quipped, Well, that giving me away part is better than throwing me away, I suppose. She smiled.

But Jack was going on, Thanks, George, he said as an afterthought.

But General Hammond was still grinning. Oh, don't mind me, he suggested. I'm just the man who's handing the Colonel over to you. No one of any importance... until I decide that you're an unfit scoundrel who doesn't deserve her.

I already know that I don't deserve her, Jack said back. For some reason, she's taking me anyway.

Bra'tac loudly cleared his throat. This isn't going to end like Car'ryn and Ry'ac's rehearsal, is it? he boomed, then asked another question, You aren't going your separate ways, are you?

Not a chance! Sam called back.

But Bra'tac was watching her in suspicion Are you certain? he inquired. Is there something that I should know?

Nope. Sam pulled off her sack, then unrolled her pant legs. She threw the burlap contraption to Cassie, who caught it, and tossed it into the corner. We'll be good, we promise, Sam said to Bra'tac.

Once more, he eyed them distrustfully, but went on to begin the ceremony. I call us to attention, then remark on my first impressions of O'Neill, an arrogant youngster who I 'whipped' at hand combat.

Hey! noted Jack. This isn't 'bash the General' day, ya know!

Daniel and Sam laughed out loud, and even Teal'c smiled. Remember Jack, that 'whipping' he gave you wasn't bad for an 'old man,' Daniel said.

Master Bra'tac is not.., Teal'c began.

Daniel cut him off to say, I was talking about Jack.

Sam snorted more laughter.

Jack scowled. All right, all right! he growled. Let's get on with it!

Obliging, Master Bra'tac turned to Sam. And after I finish recounting how I 'trounced' O'Neill... He bowed his head in Teal'c's direction. And thank you, Teal'c, for teaching me how to use that word, and more importantly, what it means.

Teal'c bowed his head to Bra'tac in response. You are most welcome.

Bra'tac continued as Jack kept scowling and Sam kept giggling. No giggling, Colonel, Jack whispered out of the side of his scowling mouth, beneath what Bra'tac was saying about duty, love, regulations, the Air Force, the SGC, Hammond-of-Texas, the original team of SG-1, and their all around nobility.

Sam didn't feel very noble just then. She was too conscious of the man standing near her, and that just standing so close to him was making her blood hum. She restrained her urge to do some nervous jumping herself, and ignored what Bra'tac was saying long enough to whisper back a responding challenge to Jack, I'll stop giggling if you'll slap Daniel's butt when he walks up to take Bra'tac's place.

Jack smiled at her comment. I'd do it, but it might shock him so much that he might trip and break his ankle, and the whole time thing would be all messed up, and... Can't do that at your wedding, Colonel.

That's 'Colonel O'Neill' to you, buster, Sam intoned. As of tomorrow at 1600.

To cover up the grin that Jack sported then, he asked, Aren't we supposed to be paying more attention to our own rehearsal?

Sam immediately replied, We can pay attention tomorrow.

Daniel will never let me hear the end of it if I don't listen to him, Jack predicted. It might be the only time that he's sure I'm actually listening to him.

Sam groaned. Ever since he got ordained yesterday, it's gone to his head.

Jack leaned closer to her and whispered, I hardly think that Universal Ministry On-line...

That's 'The Universal On-line Group of Balance Lovers,' Sir, Sam corrected.

Jack rolled his eyes this time. I don't think that the universe actually meant for it to go to his head, though.

Sam leaned in even closer yet to him, all the while thinking, I won't do any jumping! I won't do any jumping! Did you hear that this group advertised that he would be ordained in 24 hours, but when a week had passed, and he wasn't ordained yet, Daniel and General Hammond flew to this group's Pasadena headquarters and the General scared them into ordaining Daniel on the spot, even though there were still 200 applicants in front of him?

Jack quietly chuckled. A week? Why was it taking them so long if they promised 24 hours?

Sam explained, The on-line ordination data entry was being done by two little old lady volunteers who only spend winters in Florida, and who can't type.

Jack finished for her. And slow typing meant slow going.

The way Daniel told it, the two ladies were so stunned when a three-star General wearing his dress uniform walked into their tiny workplace, they nearly coughed out their false teeth.

Jack did laugh at that, a loud guffaw that caught Bra'tac's attention. He glared at them and yelled, Will the two getting married be silent!

Jack innocently asked, If I'm silent, how will I say 'I do?'

Bra'tac instantly asked back, What is this 'I do?' What do you plan to be doing, O'Neill? He quickly looked at the gathered personnel. I thought this was a bonding ceremony... am I wrong? Is there some crisis going on?

Jack laughed helplessly. Only aliens could help produce such a memorable rehearsal for a wedding ceremony. Coughing in order to cover his fit of hilarity, Jack looked to Sam to help him deal with this situation. But she only sent him a stare that was so blank, she might as well have said 'You're on your own with this one.' So he tried to say the right thing, and explain everything, but what came out was a sputtered, Uh... Sam continued to gaze at him, and raised her eyebrows this time. You're no help, Jack finally mumbled, feeling more helpless as time went on. He turned from staring at Sam to staring at Bra'tac, to staring helplessly back at Sam again, to gazing at Bra'tac... Uh... What was a wedding ceremony without the 'I do' part?

Daniel stepped in to save him. The 'I do' part... that's where I come in...

* * *

'T' Minus Twenty minutes and Counting

Exactly twenty-three hours and forty minutes later, Sam sent another critical look to the image of herself in the full-length mirror that she had plastered to the back of the door leading into her SGC quarters. The full length, cream colored wedding dress she wore set off the pale tone of her skin to perfection without completely washing her out. The sleeveless underskirt rustled when she moved, and the lacy overskirt of pearls and eyelet caught the light in a most entrancing way.

But still, she stared. Something wasn't quite right... Sam smoothed one hand down the outside of the dress, peeked at the toes of the shoes she was wearing for the wedding that Cassie had insisted that she buy to go with her dress, claiming that they would drive Jack wild, though the teenager had neglected to impart how badly such shoes were sure to hurt Sam's feet by the end of a busy day.

But something still wasn't right. Sam moved one lock of blonde hair just a smidge further back from her forehead, then smoothed down the strands that lay tucked behind her ear.

Sam wrinkled her nose. She thoughtfully turned her head first one way, then the other. After another pensive moment, she grinned, then carefully untucked one lock of hair that had lain behind her right ear. Still grinning, she gave a firm nod of her head. I'll leave that one out for Jack to stare at the entire wedding, she murmured to herself. Still staring, she took an appreciative breath. That lock of hair is gonna drive him crazy, she predicted. Samantha Carter, you are too cruel. One more look, and she was forced to draw another appreciative breath. Then, she amended her last comment to whisper to her image, Cruel, but sexy.

The sharp rap on the door cut off her critical study. Unless you're Jack, come in, she called through the closed door, and stepped back so whoever was visiting her could enter.

General Hammond peeked into the room from around the door frame. He smiled when he caught sight of Sam standing gravely at the foot of her bed, and entered the room. He soundlessly closed the door behind him.

Sir! Sam said, smiling, her gravity disappearing in the hug she gave him.

Colonel! Hammond said appreciatively. He returned her hug, and added, Sam! to what he chose to call her. Your father would be stunned to see his little girl in the beauty you've become!

Sam rolled her eyes even as she hugged him. You've been talking to Jack, I see, she deadpanned.

Hammond chuckled. Only a little, he admitted. But even in that little bit of conversation, Jack was able to worm in three compliments to you in particular, and two for the dialing program for the 'Gate that you and Dr. Jackson wrote all those years ago.

Sam laughed, her tone ironic now. You're probably lucky it was only three compliments that he gave me. It's usually more than his listener wants to take the time to hear.

Hammond leaned back to give her a good, assessing look. Yes, Jacob would surely be proud, he told her. And I'm not talking about what we can see on the outside, though that's turned more than one head over the years, too, he divulged. No, I'm talking about all the good that you've done for the world... are still doing for the world.

Sam peered at him through her lashes. Now, General, you have to know that Jack proposed before he was ordered to do it by President Hayes, and...

A puzzled expression on Hammond's face cut her off. He stared at her in confusion. But Hayes never ordered Jack to do anything.

Sam continued to look as if she were dealing with a recalcitrant child who refused to mind. She heaved a breath, then said, The Joint Chiefs gave the order then. She shook her head as if to clear it of an overlying fog. At any rate, whoever he talked to should be...

Hammond interrupted her again. But Jack didn't take orders from anybody concerning this wedding. He gazed at her in confusion. I thought you knew that.

Sam felt the ground under those damned shoes that Cassie loved, but were killing her feet, shift just slightly with the news he had imparted. What?... What do you mean? she stuttered as she asked.

Hammond continued to peer at her as she stood at the end of her bed in her cream colored wedding dress. I mean, he slowly explained, That... He tried again. The President and the Joint Chiefs were unable to come to any decision regarding this marriage/timeline problem posed by Dr. Jackson. They decided that, even for the good of the country, even the entire world, they couldn't expect to ask two people to marry if they might be opposed to such a union. He gave a sympathetic grunt. It smacked too much of an arranged marriage for a good many of the Joint Chiefs to be comfortable with such an order. So they instructed the President to tell Jack that it was entirely up to the two of you, that no officer under their command should have to worry about any marriage for the good of the country as well as defending that country.

But... the timeline, Sam weakly protested. Aren't we risking..?

That was a risk that everyone decided to take, Hammond explained. There's a possibility that this timeline will vanish, as it did in Dr. Jackson's two previous experiences. There's also a chance that nothing will happen at all, and getting Dr. Jackson ordained was just one attempt by those of us involved to help create the desirable outcome of this whole mess.

Sam was momentarily too flummoxed to speak. But, she weakly protested again. Her mind was spinning now, and she had to concentrate just to focus. Jack spoke to President Hayes on Tuesday morning. I know he did.

Were you in the room at the time? Hammond gently queried.

Sam thought back to that morning. Well, no, she admitted. I was in the Briefing Room with Daniel and Teal'c while Jack was on the phone in his office... She turned her attention back to Hammond. But, Jack said...

Jack never said one way or the other what your orders were, if I recall, Hammond reminded her.

True. Sam looked taken aback by this information. We all just assumed that he... that we... She floundered on, I mean, Jack was sure to tell me and Daniel that he had proposed before he'd even spoken to the President that Tuesday morning. But... Sam stood still for a moment, again too dumbfounded at the General's news to finish her sentence. Finally she asked, Sir, can I ask a huge favor of you?

Perplexed but willing to be of any use he could on this busy day, Hammond said, You know you can ask me anything, Sam.

Sam licked her lips. She and Jack needed to talk about what had really happened last Tuesday morning before this wedding could take place, she had realized. Could you get Jack for me? she asked. I need to talk to him about something.

But Hammond negated, Isn't it bad luck for the groom to..?

Sam sent him an exasperated glare. I'm not the superstitious sort, she said. Mom and Dad were never superstitious, either, she explained. I'm just carrying on Dad's illustrious tradition of the Non-superstitious Carter Legend.

Hammond stared at her, and saw how serious she was being. Finally, he gave in. All right, if it doesn't bother you, he doubtfully said.

Sam smiled a tiny smile that she sent his way. It would bother me a lot more to go through with the wedding before this point is cleared up, she said. Thank you, Sir.

Hammond nodded, then strode to the door. But with his hand on the doorknob, asked, If you don't mind explaining it to this understanding-challenged old General, what should I say that you want to talk to him about? He eyed her suspiciously. You're not planning to leave him at the altar, are you?

Sam rolled her eyes again. There isn't any altar that I know of, she said under her breath. Then she gave her reply. True, that would be like something I would do, she agreed with him. But no, my forté deals with breaking engagements, not ruining weddings. She smiled. I just want to ask him a few things, she assured.

Hammond nodded again, then disappeared through the door.

* * *

Inside the room set aside as the SGC version of a chapel, Jack once again stood with Teal'c and Daniel at the front of the room, waiting for the arrival of the bridal party so that they could begin the ceremony and get the events of this long-awaited day started. If Teal'c had thought that the tension was high the day before at the rehearsal, it was nothing to how O'Neill was behaving this time around.

Except, oddly enough, the higher the tension level, the calmer O'Neill grew. After anticipating so many battles, the warrior in Jack O'Neill had taken over when his nerves threatened to explode an hour before. By moving into combat mode, Jack had successfully managed to slip into his dress uniform that he was wearing for the ceremony, and to calmly wait for Sam and General Hammond to appear. He looked the picture of the placidly waiting groom. Only his two friends knew him so well that they weren't fooled for a minute.

Jack, try to breath, Daniel cautioned in a whisper that even Master Bra'tac standing a few feet away couldn't overhear.

Yes, came Teal'c's rumble of agreement. It would not be advisable for you to faint at this time.

Daniel continued, Not to mention that it would be a bit embarrassing.

Jack spoke then, forcing the air passed his lungs. I'm not gonna faint, he told them, then added a much more uncertain, I think.

That was when Jonas Quinn, standing at the open door to the chapel, motioned with his index finger that Jack should follow him into the corridor outside the room.

The rest of Jack's meager breath left his body in a one whoosh. His heart stopped, and for one terrifying second, he thought that he really was going to faint. Then his eyesight tunneled down to focus only on Jonas standing innocently in the doorway. He was able to send an interrogatory message that still managed to convey the question, 'Me?' When Jonas nodded, Jack moved to walk down the side aisle to the door.

Daniel's forehead was wrinkled with consternation. Uh-oh, he said as Jack tried to move passed him and Teal'c.

I'm sure it's nothing, Jack said in the most unconvincing voice either Daniel of Teal'c had ever heard him make. I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere, and... Don't start without me, he helplessly instructed. Then he was gone, meeting Jonas at the door with a questioning expression on his face.

Daniel sighed, and stuck his hands in his pockets, even though he'd been specifically told that he should avoid the action if he could. What I wouldn't do for a cup of coffee right about now, he mumbled to Teal'c at his side.

* * *

Jack gave a hesitant knock to the door of Samantha's quarters, and called, Can I come in, or should I go far away and never show my face around the SGC again?

Sam's low laughter carried out into the corridor and surrounded Jack and General Hammond in soothing vibrations. The sound relieved Jack in an instant. Come in, she called. I'll wear my cloak in case you're the superstitious type and don't want to see my dress.

Well, that was something. Then Jack did a double-take. Wait... Her what? You're what? he inquired in confusion.

Sam pulled open the door, but didn't wait for him to enter behind her. Instead, she ran to the middle of the room, pulling a black velvet dress cloak closer about her body. You can feel safe to come in, ya know, she called.

Jack cautiously entered the room. I'm not gonna see your dress and be reduced to smoking cinders for it, am I?

Sam giggled. I hope not, but stranger things have happened around here, she reported. You can open your eyes, too.

Jack slowly complied with her suggestion. Okay, he said while he blinked at the sudden light, and the sight of Sam dressed from head to foot in black velvet. I don't even want to ask why you have that thing on a military base, do I? he sarcastically continued. So... I heard that you wanted to talk to me?

Um... Sam squinted her eyes at him for just a minute.

Jack cut her off before she had he chance to go on. Samantha, if you're planning to 'leave me in the lurch,' shall we say, just tell me now and get it over with, so I can go drown myself in a convenient pool and...

Smiling, Sam instantly said, No pools, no drowning, no 'leaving you in the lurch,' I promise.

Jack peered at her, mystified. Then... what..?

Sam drew breath, then blurted, Were you ever ordered to marry me?

Jack stood silent for a moment, carefully regarding her, looking as if he expected her to spontaneously combust at any second, then was finally able to sputter, Uh... No... Uh... I said as much... that day... to you and Daniel.

Sam rolled her eyes. That's not what I mean.

Still confused, Jack asked for clarification, Then what do you mean?

Sam answered as quickly as she could, for she could sense the Jack's patience with her and with this issue was beginning to crumble. I mean with the Joint Chiefs, after you spoke to President Hayes last Tuesday morning.

Jack was befuddled at why she was interested in those events now, of all times. Uh... No, he managed to say. There was never any order to... Why the questions now? he asked, and stared hard at her. He still couldn't quite make himself believe that she didn't plan to duck out at this last minute.

But Sam smiled at him, her heart filling with unmarried affection one final time. If he hadn't been ordered to agree to this wedding, then that meant that his proposal was just as genuine now as it had been when he had asked her. Still grinning like a maniac on drugs, she shook her head. I didn't mean anything by asking, she told him. I was just curious.

Jack gaped at her. Curious? he queried, and she nodded. Now? Sam nodded again. Huh. That certainly hadn't been expected... Jack vigorously shook his head in order to clear it. Well...

You look great, by the way, Sam cut him off to say.

Still slightly befuddled at her earlier questions, Jack blinked. Uh... Thanks, he gruffly said, then went on, I'd say the same about you, but I haven't seen you yet to...

Daniel suddenly rapped on Sam's quarters outer door, and called, Is everything all right in there? You're not killing each other, are you?

Jack couldn't help grinning now as he answered his friend. 'No, we're both fine here... How are you?' he quoted.

Daniel didn't sound amused by Jack's antics. Very funny, Jack. Maybe I should just tell Sam to go ahead and maim you for life, he suggested.

Sam giggled at Daniel's reply. For the sake of the doctors on duty in the Infirmary, I'll resist, she told them.

Daniel went on. Well, if you guys are ready..? he hinted. There are a lot of... uh... aliens... who have traveled about a billion miles or so to see you two get hitched, and...

We're coming, Daniel! Jack assured in a yell through the door. Just keep your pants on!

In a low voice, Sam said, He would look awfully funny performing a wedding ceremony without any pants. Maybe we should suggest it...

Jack scowled, but the smile that instantly took over from his scowl ruined the effect of the negative gesture. I won't tell him of you won't tell him.

I promise to be good, Sam said, then added, For now.

Jack gave her an appreciative laugh. I love the way that your evil personality is coming through, he told her.

Just don't tell Daniel about it, Sam said, laughing with him.

Ah, the poor guy, Jack said as his hand reached for her door knob. He probably already knows. Then he blinked. Though he probably would have figured it out quicker if it was written in some dead language or something. Sam giggled again. So, you're sure that this was all you needed? Jack asked again before he left.

Sam nodded. I was just curious, she assured him. I didn't mean to scare you.

Rats, Jack whispered as he pulled the door open again and prepared to exit. And I thought I was doing such a good job at covering all my feelings up. He smiled one last smile back at her. See you in a few minutes... dress and all. Before she had an opportunity to reply, he was gone.

* * *

Daniel hopped up the steps that had been installed several years ago at the front of the SGC 'chapel' room. Hey, folks! he said as he regained his balance and beamed at the gathered crowd. With just a quick glance, he noticed Ishta sitting with Car'ryn and Ry'ac near the back. He blinked, and this time caught sight of Thor with Heimdal and two more Asgards, all of them seeming to look alike in the fast glance he was able to give them before going on. I know that Jack and Sam don't remember us ever doing this wedding thing before now, but I remember things well enough to try to do things right this time. So.., And he turned to face Master Bra'tac standing a little behind him and to his right. If Bra'tac can keep me from tripping..? At all costs..? The Jaffa master nodded, though he had a slightly perplexed look on his whiskered face.

Is this some Tau'ri custom that I am not aware of? Bra'tac inquired in a low voice, though he moved marginally closer to Daniel, watching so closely for a bob in Daniel's balance that he nearly looked cross-eyed.

Daniel shook his head. No, no custom, he genially answered. I'm just glad that this marriage is finally going forward, and as Sam can attest, I'm as clumsy as a Jaffa on marijuana, so...

But Jack couldn't keep from asking, How clumsy is a Jaffa on marijuana?

Bra'tac still appeared confused. What is this 'marijuana?'

Sam grinned for the thousandth time in just that last few minutes. Ignore him, Bra'tac, she suggested. He's just Daniel being Daniel.

Daniel carried Sam's comment a bit further. Just make sure I don't break my ankle, he instructed the Jaffa Master.

Another strange ritual? Bra'tac inquired, to which Daniel simply grimaced and replied to his question.

It's a ritual only to me! Daniel turned around to face front again, but said to Bra'tac, Stay ready! Then, smiling, he said to the mostly quiet crowd, Okay, I think we're ready now...

Daniel, Jack warned.

Going on, Daniel quickly said. Dearly beloved... Uh.., Daniel stuttered.

I thought you had the wedding ceremony memorized, Sam hissed through her teeth at her hesitant friend.

Daniel looked at her in apology. In all the excitement, I forgot to memorize it. Sam rolled her eyes in irritation, but Daniel was too thrilled at even being there to let something as little as Sam's irritation get to him. Even Jack's sarcastic comments can't ruin my mood today, he teased.

Hey! Jack bellowed back in annoyance. I'm only a little sarcastic... every now and then! he explained.

Daniel rolled his eyes this time. Whatever, Jack, he muttered. But... Dearly beloved...

You already said that, Jack reminded him. Or am I being too sarcastic already?

Silence! Bra'tac then thundered, and he glared at the humans before him. Then, without saying a word, he only motioned to Daniel to continue.

Thank you, Daniel politely told Bra'tac. Then he went on, Now, if there will be no more interruptions from the floor..? He waited, but both Jack and Sam remained quiet this time. So he went on. Half to the crowd, and half to Bra'tac, he said, And this is the part where they say 'I do.'

Bra'tac grimaced. It better be a quick 'I do' before it turns into an 'On second thought, I don't' when an army of free Jaffa come through the 'Gate, demanding to know my location.

Okay, Daniel agreeably said. Going forward...

There were candles lit, there were vows shared, there were rings traded, there was a sudden 'Gate activation, for which General Hammond apologetically left the room at a trot. When General Hammond didn't immediately return, Daniel said, I have the really bad feeling that the 'Gate just malfunctioned and Sam will be called away soon, so I'll just skip the middle stuff and say that by the power that really is invested in me this time, I now pronounce you husband and wife, and I'd say that it's time to kiss the bride, but I know that you already know that part, and Master Bra'tac, please don't let me..! And that's when Daniel took one step back, tripped on the step just behind him, and...

But Master Bra'tac wasn't known as the oldest, wisest, and most famous Jaffa of skillful reflexes for nothing. His hands shot out the second the Daniel stumbled, and he easily caught the SG-1 team member before Daniel could stumble any further, before Daniel could hit the floor, and definitely before Daniel had the chance to do any damage to his ankle bone at all.

Daniel teetered in Bra'tac's arms for a second, then steadied himself. Thanks, Bra'tac, he automatically said. I've got it now. He heaved himself back onto his feet, and pulled his suit coat back down over his hips. Then he gave a breathless pause, and looked up towards the ceiling of the room.

Is something still amiss? Bra'tac wanted to know. Is there something more that I'm meant to do?

When that breathless moment had passed, and nothing more than Siler poking his head through the rear door to the 'chapel' room, and saying, I'm sorry to interrupt, but... Then the Sergeant turned to Sam. Colonel Carter...

I knew it! Jack exploded in a yell. He grabbed onto Sam's lacy and bejeweled arm. We're not quite finished here... you can't have her yet!

Then Siler broke out into a huge grin. Just joking... Congratulations Sir, ma'am! With that, he was gone.

Why, I oughta.., Jack began to threaten under his breath.

Later, Sam told him. By then she had grabbed his own coated arm and pulled him close. I have a General to kiss, she explained.

And that's exactly what she did.

Epilogue

The second wedding ceremony held two days later at the Academy Chapel was a much more solemn event than the one held at the SGC, but Jack at least said that he was allowed to see Samantha in her wedding dress one more time. The ceremony would not have been any fun at all except for the big smiles on the bride and groom's faces during the entire time of the short ceremony performed by the usual Academy chaplain.

Another spark for Jack was finally meeting Mark and Penny Carter and their two children.

You're much taller in reality than you are over the phone, Penny said to him with a hand shake and smile. Welcome to the family.

The reception was duly attended, where Jack and Penny talked a great deal more, and even Mark had a nice time, spending an hour talking to Sam about the happier times he and she had spent in their childhood on the many military bases around the world. Less than a nice time was when the rice was dutifully thrown by relatives and friends who were none the wiser that Jack and Sam had already been married for several days by the time of the second wedding ceremony. Jack was still diggin rice out of his hair when he and Sam returned to the SGC the next day after a brief get-a-way vacation at an undisclosed location. Jack grumbled at the security personnel who met him and Colonel O'Neill - Sam giggled every time she heard the name uttered by anyone - at the first guarded entrance. Don't say anything to us! Jack immediately demanded of the guards. The first person to talk to us can look forward to six months of latrine duty!

With that threat still ringing in the air, lest anyone forget, Jack and Sam instantly became known as General and Mrs. O'Neill with only a tiny amount of tradition and pomp. By then the SGC personnel were all used to the stabilizing of the timeline, and their worried looks went unnoticed by the couple who had eyes only for each other as they departed for their new quarters.

Just let me see if I have any mail, Jack told his new wife later that day, long after the wedding, long after the reception, and when latrine duty-or-else loomed before everyone's else's eyes. Then we can leave for the honeymoon I promised you the other day.

Sam grinned at him from the bed where she sat in the new 'married' quarters that General Hammond had gifted them with, on approval by President Hayes, and suggestively muttered, Don't be gone too long.

Jack considered that he had helped to create a monster as he pushed through his office door and entered the room that he had spent the minimum amount of time in lately after the first wedding. He'd much rather spend time with Samantha than do paperwork any day! But one last peek...

And that was when the single envelope sitting innocently in the middle of his desk caught his eye. It bore the greeting 'Starsky... or Hutch... I can't remember.'

Jack quickly made a lunge for it, his heart in his throat at seeing two names that could only mean that this envelope was from Maybourne, or Jonathon, his clone made by the Asgard Loki.

Either way, Jack didn't waste any time in ripping the envelope open, afraid that something that could only mean complete and utter doom to him, to Sam, to them together, or to Earth as a whole was hidden in the confines of the innocent looking envelope.

A piece of paper and a computer disc tumbled into Jack's waiting hand. He quickly unfolded the note and read,

Watch the disc. You're lucky I saw the announcement in the paper the way I did. You owe me.

Starsky... or Hutch... #II

A chill swept over Jack, but he did his best to reign in any feelings of terror that he was suddenly experiencing. Without further contemplation, he booted up his computer, inserted the disc in the video player, then sat back in his chair to watch the drama unfold.

The scene was clearly of the second wedding ceremony that had been at the Academy yesterday. The camera... the video shot by Sergeant Siler on the SGC video camera from the rear of the chapel... was clear and unwavering as it was suddenly juxtaposed with a view of the same scene from one of the rear Academy security cameras. The images flickered for a moment, then stabilized, as the sounds from Siler's taping of what had been a fairly dignified event in spite of the two grinning idiots who had participated in that event filled the office for a moment. Then, a figure moved into the range of the camera at the back of the chapel. That figure was too small for Jack to identify who he was, but then another, smaller figure slipped out of the last pew and approached Siler, unseen by the sergeant, but clearly captured on the security tape for posterity.

Siler's camera view swiveled back to center on the first figure, and the scene zoomed in to focus on the that figure. The suddenly jiggling camera settled onto the form of Pete Shanahan.

Another chill swept over Jack, this time one that was decidedly malevolent, but he forced himself to not react in any way except to watch the scene unfold as the minister finally reached the point where he said If anyone has any reason to object to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Jack watched in increasing dismay as he wondered how the detective had even been free to attend his and Samantha's wedding. Only those quests with an invitation had been allowed entrance to what had been a highly secured event, and Pete had most definitely not been invited.

Whatever the case was behind Pete's inexplicable appearance, he now took a step forward, and had just opened his mouth to make some kind of an objection when Jonathan-the-clone sedately walked up to Pete's form. He threw an arm around the cop's shoulders, arresting his attention enough to make him hesitate for just a second. The chaplain's pause ended, and his voice droned on at the front of the sanctuary, unseen by Jack as he just barely heard Pete stutter to Jonathan, Who... who the hell are you?

Before he had time to get too incensed at the man for cursing at his wedding, Jonathan replied in a slightly louder voice, I'm no one of any importance, but don't mess with me, Jonathan warned. Just hear me out before you go objecting to this union and all. You better take a look at this... unless you actually like being embarrassed to death.

He dug in his front pocket, then pulled out a single sheaf of paper, which he also unfolded and held out to the detective. He didn't let Pete take his paper offering, but held it up so that Pete could undoubtedly read the words on whatever he was showing to him. A moment later, after Pete's face had begun to grow a pastier shade of white, Jack heard Jonathan mumble, Read the date.

Pete did. And then Pete's face finished fading to a very pasty white, and an utterly horrified expression fell over his features.

Shanahan didn't say a word, but Jonathan clapped the man lightly on his shoulder, saying, And Dr. Jackson is an ordained minister... I checked. So you can see that you're two days too late. Sayanara, buddy.

Jonathan returned to Siler's side, where he whispered something into the man's ear, and the camera slid back around to take in the final comments of the ceremony until, the wedding ended, the picture shut itself off.

Feeling slightly sick to his stomach, but grateful for Jonathan's 'interference' at the same time, Jack calmly stopped the player in his computer. Then he rose, gathered the envelope, the letter, the disc, and headed back down to his and Sam's quarters. He was already there when he realized that he had forgotten to go through any mail that had collected over the last few days prior to leaving for his much-publicized honeymoon.

The second he opened the door, he said, Samantha, you have to see this.

She was sitting on their bed, actually wasting time reading a magazine and relaxing, all while in the confines of the SGC... If Jack hadn't been so flummoxed by the sudden events that he had just witnessed, he would have marked this day down on his calendar as astonishing. But he was too amazed himself to notice what Sam was... or was not... doing.

Look, was all Jack said as he immediately crossed to sit beside Sam on the bed. His new wedding ring flashed in the dim light, but he ignored it as he handed the package he had found in his office on to Sam.

She took the envelope, read the note, then watched the DVD, all without saying a word. When the DVD was finished playing, she ejected the disc, returned it to the envelope, then powered down and shut off her computer that was never very far from her at any time. She calmly regarded Jack sitting beside her. After a moment of this silent contemplation, she said something that Jack had never anticipated. I kind of thought something like this might happen.

Jack gaped at her. You mean that you knew?

Sam heaved a sigh, and slid her computer over to the small table beside the bed. No, I didn't know, Sam explained to him. But I suspected that something like this might happen. And I prepared for this eventuality. If it didn't happen... She gave a graceful shrug of her shoulder. No big loss.

Jack stared at her in consternation. What did you do? he asked, almost afraid to hear her answer.

Sam gave another disarming shrug. Nothing much. I just asked Thor if he had enough of my DNA to clone me, but that he needed to halt the aging process at about twenty Human years or so. Then I asked him to beam both this new clone and your old clone to your cabin in Minnesota, and... She shrugged a third time. What happens next is up to them.

Jack stared at her in thunderstruck amazement. Finally, he found enough of his voice to ask, Uh... Pete?

Sam did grin when he uttered that name. Pete... She sighed, and looked very pleased with herself. It was a frightening thing to behold. Pete met the small squad of SFs that I had asked to wait for him outside he chapel. Since he must have had some kind of an invitation to get into the Academy Chapel in the first place, they couldn't arrest him for stalking again. But they did put the fear of my wrath into him if there's ever the case that I hear of him again. Then she looked a tad contrite. But I am afraid that we need to decide where else we would like to spend our honeymoon. She settled further onto the bed. I know how much you like beaches and sun and sand... How about Hawaii?

Afterward

Ten days later, Jack found another white envelope that had somehow found its way onto his desk in the time between when he had left his office to see off SG-7 off to PCX-441, and the time he returned. He grabbed at the envelope, ripped it open, and read the single note that had been included.

Carter, you rock!

That was all it said, and it wasn't even signed. But then, it didn't need to be.

The End


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