Brain Power

by Linda Bindner

Part IV

Sam realized the minute that she woke that she was somewhere in a bed. That meant she was... at home? In her base quarters? Asleep on a mattress on the floor in Jack's room at the SGC? She didn't know, so she accepted the fact that she would just have to open her eyes to look. So she slowly tried to lift her eyelids. Grit glued her lids together. She rubbed at her eyes and stretched her cramped muscles at the same time she drew in a long, deep, relaxed breath.

The smell of... something strong... hit her. What was that smell? She still didn't know where she was. She tried lifting her lids again. This time she was more successful.

Her sight was blurry for a moment, but it finally cleared, enough to see that Daniel was sitting beside her bed, once again reading one of his fat books on Egyptology.

What was he doing in her home? Was she not at home? Daniel? Sam quietly slurred from her position in the bed.

Daniel instantly raised his head at the sound. Sam! he softly exclaimed. You're finally awake!

Awake? Had she been asleep? And for how long? That was when one of the words that Daniel had used registered in her slow brain. What do you mean by 'finally?' she asked. How long have I been here? She looked around her then. And where is here? The last thing she remembered was entering Jack's room.

Daniel was most willing to give her some information. You're in the Infirmary.

Then she was on base, but nowhere near Jack's room. Well, she was near it, but not in it. But she recalled having been on base for days... because of...

With a woosh, she abruptly remembered everything. Her heart pounded. Decisions suddenly loomed ahead. For instance, what should she do about Pete, who hung on to the idea of marrying her like a millstone around her neck? The mountain, and all its accompanying military regulations, weighed down on her. The world was slowly closing in on her. Then there was the General... Jack... She had kissed Jack... What had she been thinking?

Well, actually, she had been thinking at the time that kissing him was mighty darned nice...

Then, urgency took hold of Sam, and she leaned up on one elbow, as if in preparation to clamber out of bed. Jack! she exclaimed. How's Jack?

Daniel was quick to put a soothing hand on her shoulder and push her back down under the covers. Jack's fine, he assured. Worried about you, naturally, but fine.

He's okay? she asked again, concern clouding her voice as much as sleep, now. You're not fooling me, are you, Daniel? she inquired. Just to keep me from worrying?

Daniel smiled a tiny, grim smile. I don't blame you for thinking that way, he reported. But no. He then searched the back of his book for something. I have a note here for you.

From Jack? Sam queried. When did he learn how to write?

Daniel gave her another grim smile. You've been out of it for a while, Sam. Jack's learned to do many things while you were asleep.

Sam wrinkled her brow. 'Asleep?' she repeated. Is that what I was? Not unconscious or injured?

No... You were asleep, not injured or anything serious. Daniel leaned back in his chair, getting comfortable. Why don't I tell you the whole story? Then we'll see if you still have questions.

Okay, Sam agreed. But what story could Jack possibly be part of?

Settle back, Daniel warned. This could take awhile.

Again came the wrinkled forehead. Why? Sam asked. What could have happened? What could have had time to happen? How long was I out?

Daniel sighed. We're jumping ahead a bit in our story, but I'll just go ahead and tell you. The abbreviated version: You fainted in Jack's room, returned to consciousness almost immediately when Dr. Brightman got you back here to the Infirmary, but you weren't very lucid at the time, and you fell back to sleep right away. Daniel stared at her. You've been asleep since the day before yesterday.

Sam gaped at him. Two days!? she half exclaimed and half questioned.

Yep, Daniel remarked. You must have been really tired. And it's no wonder, what with all you had going. It's actually really amazing that you didn't crash before then.

Sam looked dumbstruck, but didn't say anything this time.

Daniel took her silence as a sign to continue searching for the note in his book. He found it near the end, and pulled it out to give to her. Here, he said as he handed it over. This is the note from Jack. He's been waiting for you to wake up just so I can give it to you.

Still feeling slightly perplexed, Sam took his offering, and unfolded a single sheet of notebook paper.

Sam... Carter... Sam,

Your name was the first thing I said, though I couldn't (and sometimes still can't) say the 's' to save my life. Your name came out like 'Am.' Just ask Daniel how stupid I sounded. But you're so important to me, I'm willing to sound stupid.

I did something else you'll probably think is stupid, and you can yell at me when you're awake, up, and about. I told Daniel to ask for volunteers (hard word to write... harder word to say, so I just wrote it and ended up misspelling it the other night) Anyway, I asked him to get people to pack and move all your stuff over to my place, then to make sure your house was put on the market. Pete's stuff was still there, but he wasn't while Daniel, Teal'c and the twenty-nine SGC volunteers were there, but none of us wanted to take any chances with him maybe showing up. So I sent two SFs to guard the house while everybody else packed and moved your things. We left Pete's stuff there. Daniel knew the differences between yours and his. We used troop transport trucks to move your stuff. Hey, if you can't pull some strings, then what's the point of being a General?

We'll talk when you feel up to it. I feel up to doing other things, but I can live with talking... for now.

Looking forward to 'the other things,'

all my... you know,

Jack

His writing's so good! Sam exclaimed in astonishment. When did that happen? And when did he remember being made a General?

Daniel replied, He was in a PT session yesterday in the gym when he lost his balance, then fell into an electric revolving fan. Seemed that the electric shock from the fan... minor though it was.... was enough to bring his memory flooding back. He's remembered everything ever since. And he worked on that letter for five hours last night. Kept asking me how to spell things.

Sam gaped anew. He worked at something for five hours?!?

She breathed heavily. And who were those 'twenty-nine' volunteers?

Daniel responded quickly for her, as her tone indicated that she was getting antsy again. He still remembered her foul mood the days that Jack had been unconscious, and he still didn't wish to stir her darker instincts up too much if he could avoid it. Three SG teams were assigned to base yesterday to do paperwork, and they all volunteered right away. I suspect that you saved them from writing their reports for a few hours. Then ten of the science team were there, both Felger and his assistant... what's her name?

Chloe, Sam filled in for him.

That's right... She was there. And five Marines. And two SFs... besides the ones that Jack sent...

There were Marines? Sam asked in astonishment. It was a known fact that Marines and the SG teams didn't mix. Marines helping her move was nothing short of a miracle.

Daniel blithely regarded her. You're a popular person, he announced. Or a whole bunch of people just wanted to get out of their work for the morning, which is always a big possibility. Daniel picked up his book to search through it again. Anyway, I kept the note that Jack wrote to me the other night, so that you could compare his first writing attempts with your own letter.

Danl,

Send email to all. Ask for vlunters to mve Sam's thngs to my hose. We'll worr bot wht to do latr with all our stff. I athrize yu to use troop trnsprt trucks to mve her stff. In fct, use two. Anothr trck to frry peple to hr hose. Just tak cre of it. I'm delgating. Tll Sm Hi and I miss hr voic.

Jck

Srry for the bd wrting. My hand keeps crmping up.

Jck

And how's Jack doing now? Sam asked, almost scared to hear the truth. Is he still stuck in bed? Is he doing therapy? Daniel! Tell me what's been going on! she demanded.

Daniel issued a sigh into the area near the bed. You're not going to believe this, so... just accept that you're not going to believe any of this, and we'll go from there.

Sam's face went completely white. Oh God, he's dead, isn't he? she inquired in a shaky voice.

Contrarily, Daniel smiled when she made that statement. No! he assured. But the day you fainted... Jack purposefully set off his own monitor alarms to bring Dr. Brightman running into his room, by the way. Has that man got it bad, or what? His smile was enigmatic, and he didn't explain what he meant by 'it,' but they both knew. Or at least, Daniel knew, and Sam suspected, if Daniel could read her deep scarlet blush correctly. Anyway, he said, going on, We spent the next morning after you fainted at your house, boxing things up, and taking two trips over to Jack's house. Then in the afternoon, Jack made me stay for his speech session, and Vicki and I talked for the next hour over coffee, and now I have a date for dinner this weekend, so we can talk about language... Jack said he knew that we would hit it off right away.

Daniel drew in a deep breath. And that brings us to the 'Jack' part of our story...

Sam wrinkled her forehead once more. 'The Jack part?' Meaning... what, exactly?

Daniel grinned. This is the part you're not gonna believe. He settled more completely into his chair. Okay... The day that you fainted, and everyone went haywire, I got to spend some time with Jack. And that's when I realized that all his accomplishments were coming so fast that it didn't fit the description of a brainstem stroke that I'd read about on the Internet. In fact, it didn't fit by a long shot.

Sam shrugged. He's always been extremely smart... we both know that, even if he hides it. Maybe he's a quick learner.

Daniel snorted. Forgive me, Sam, but nobody retrains their brain how to write and talk in a day. Even Einstein couldn't have done it. So, I spoke to Dr. Brightman, and she agreed to do one more MRI on him, just to see what was going on in his brain. And then all hell broke loose.

'All hell?' Sam repeated disbelievingly.

Okay. Daniel shifted in his chair. We got the MRI results back. He dramatically drew out his story. And the weird thing about those results... guess, he commanded, then said, Oh, you'll never guess this in a million years, so I'll just tell you... Jack's fourth MRI showed the barest shading in his brainstem region. There was hardly any gray at all, especially when Dr. Brightman compared it to his first MRI.

Sam furrowed her brow again. No shading? she asked. I don't get it. Why no shading?

Daniel snapped his fingers. That's what I asked. Dr. Brightman suggested that we call a briefing to discuss our findings with Colonel Reynolds.

Well, Daniel said, going on, It turns out that that morning, Reynolds had flipped out... said he had three separate negotiations going on, ten teams out, three wounded men in the Infirmary, and he didn't know how Jack kept all the details of command straight day in, day out. He had called Hammond the night before, begged his help, then Hammond flew out with Major Davis to assist... or to take over, actually... and Reynolds kissed him right there in the Control Room when he saw him... Hammond, not Paul... So then we called a briefing with Hammond, told him the whole story... in case he missed anything last week... and Brightman showed him the MRIs, and I suggested that we needed to do some more translating on that 429 machine you guys came in contact with, and that maybe me and Teal'c needed to talk to that man again from the 429 planet... Oh, what's his name?

Tardel, Sam filled in for him.

Yeah, Daniel said. Wonder why I can never remember his name? he muttered to himself. Then he was once again telling his story. So, me and Teal'c... Teal'c and I?... Anyway, we 'Gated back to 429, saw Tardel, and asked him if he knew anything about what's possibly wrong with Jack. And it turns out that though the people of 429 used the machine for 'linking' two people who were a couple thinking about getting joined... uh, married... he said at Sam's look of confusion. Anyway, it didn't always work. One person in every 1000 or so who used the machine ended up just like Jack. Tardel said that what's been wrong with Jack sounds just like what his people call 'The Numbing Sickness.' Especially how we described how Jack acted when he first woke up. This disease only lasts for about two weeks, and the effects completely wear off in time, but it's the reason why the people on 429 quit using the machines. Too many people were getting sick, and it was disrupting too many things. It was why we found a machine in their library... or museum... whatever... It was put there for historical reasons. Anyway... again... the machine does warn of this sickness, but the warning's in glyphs, and the glyphs are then on the bottom of the machine. But I didn't bother to look at the bottom... I mean, who thinks to look at the bottom of these things? So, all Jack has to do is wait a week or so, and he'll be good to go again.

Jack hadn't had a stroke? He didn't need to relearn everything?

Sam was so amazed, she was numb. Was she still asleep and dreaming this entire conversation?

Pinch me, she next told Daniel. I think I'm still asleep and dreaming all this up...

Daniel leaned in closer to her, but didn't pinch her. You're not dreaming, Sam, he firmly whispered to her. Jack can already talk like normal... mostly... and he can even walk a little. But you need Doc Brightman right now... I'll get her for you. She leaves tomorrow, you know, and this may be the last time you ever see her.

That's right, her transfer, Sam reminded herself. Then she shuddered when she considered the idea that she might not have wakened until tomorrow, when it would have been too late to say...

Sam paused in her thinking. What would she say to Dr. Brightman? What could she say to her? That she had just given back the life belonging to her commanding General? That he owed everything to the fact that she was as cautious as Janet had ever been, in that she had insisted on four MRIs? Who in their right mind called for four MRIs?

Alisen Brightman, apparently.

Brightman's shoes clicked on the flooring of the Infirmary as she neared Sam's bed with Daniel in tow. Colonel Carter! the doctor greeted her. It's good to see you awake! How are you feeling?

Sam considered the question. I'm feeling... rested, was the word she finally settled on. I haven't felt rested in... Sam screwed up her face. How long have I been on SG-1?

Brightman laughed at Sam's perceived attempt at humor, even though Sam had been perfectly serious. Well, we have a few tests to perform... blood to draw... You don't think you're getting out of here without donating at last a pint of blood, do you? she teased. Then you can go back to see the General. He's been calling out for things all day... maybe you can calm him down... or at least distract him. Now that we have him off all his monitors and the IV, we have to leave his room door open all the time to make sure he's all right. Actually, she confidentially said, He's driving us nuts.

Janet had always called Jack the worst patient in history. Sam smiled. Yep, that sounded like Jack O'Neill.

* * *

An hour later, what was definitely Jack's voice called, Hey, someone come and look at thith and tell me if I got the layout right or not!

Sam grinned, stopping just outside his room to savor the moment that she was going to see him again. After every test known to man had been run on her, she had been kicked out of the Infirmary. (And Sam thought Janet had been thorough... Ha! She had a kindred spirit in Alisen Brightman.) Sam had finally been released and allowed to leave. Now, she found herself poking her head into Jack's room.

He was sitting in a chair near his bed, but not right beside it. As in, he would have had to walk the few steps to even reach that chair. He was drawing something in a notebook sitting open on his lap. Even his silver hair seemed to reflect the light from the bulbs above him, making the strands come to life, shining in the light. The sleeves of his civilian shirt were rolled up to his elbows, and the effect was as sexy as all get out. And he would be way too pleased if she told him that, so she opted to bring up another subject instead.

You bellowed, Sir? Sam mentally asked.

His head shot up so fast that he practically dislodged the notebook from his lap. First, he smiled a huge grin. Then he scowled, which was a far more familiar expression for him to wear. It still made Sam's heart skip a beat. Samantha Rynae Carter, he said inside her head. If I ever...

I thought Daniel said that you're already talking, Sam noted, so as to keep him from giving her the reprimand that he undoubtedly thought she deserved for not telling him of her problems several days before. Even though she suspected that he thought she deserved a dressing down, she really didn't want to hear it right now. She was just so... so jazzed... to see him that she didn't want a rebuke from him to mar this first meeting between the two in days.

And apparently, the 'link' between her and Jack was still intact. Though Daniel has said that Tardel had told him that the link from the 'joining machine' was only temporary, it, or at least Jack and Sam's link, was obviously much more permanent than the normal link was found to have been for the people of P2C-429.

But now, in addition to links and joins and whatever else connected them, Jack was gazing at her in... well, like she was the whipped cream topping to his vanilla Sundae... He looked completely thrilled at seeing her again, but as though he was trying not to look completely thrilled. Aloud, he said, Daniel would be right. He continued to gaze at her in open admiration as he continued, I can talk pretty well by now.

Since Jack had spoken aloud, Sam also spoke aloud. She grinned. Sir, she said. It's good to see you so... unchanged, she said at last, letting him know by the sarcasm in her voice that he was more changed than even she had expected him to be. She didn't let him get started on voicing a tirade about her calling him 'Sir' instead of the more familiar 'Jack,' as he had been encouraging her to do for years.

But before Sam could think of anything to say to distract him, Jack took mattress into his own hands. He openly studied her, again perusing her form as she stood in her blue BDUs in his door. It's good to dee you at all, he finally announced. Then he shook his head in remorse. That damned letter 's' sound... only cometh out right about half the time. He gave an apologetic shrug, as he couldn't do anything about how he spoke besides to concentrate really hard... which he was already doing, so...

Sam interrupted his speech, Talking out loud will give you the chance to practice saying the letter 's,' she helpfully pointed out.

Jack glared at her. Thid issss one thing I can do without practicing, he declared.

Sam just laughed at his bad mood... she was the only person who had ever seen a secret reason to be amused by his dark scowls...

He cut in on her desire to speak again by abruptly telling her, And don't thay that the practice will be good for me.

I wasn't going to say it! Sam protested, and smiled again even wider that before.

Hmph! Jack continued to scowl at her, but finaly relented a little to explain, That Brightman character can tell you that I've been in a hell of a bad mood ever ssssince you fainted. He pointed a finger at her. And don't you ever do that to me again. It nearly gave me a heart attack... literally.

Sam snuck the rest of the way into his room, almost as if she were afraid to be in there, as if she had no right.

But Jack firmly beckoned her closer to his chair. He unhesitantly held out the notebook that he had been drawing in earlier. What do you think? he asked. Have I got thid right, or should I put two tablesss in your office, and one in thiddd... He tried to say 'this little room off the kitchen' and gave up, deciding instead to just point his finger and say, ... in here? He went on as if nothing was wrong. Will that be enough to hold all your computer thingth and your work, too, or am I getting too into this decorating busineth, and doing overkill?

Sam had begun to lean in to take a closer look at his notebook, but then balked at his words, and stopped half up and half down. Why are you worried about what I want in my office? she asked him. Am I moving? What are you doing?

Jack once again had bent his head over his drawing, adding another desk in the corner of the room he was sketching. I'm designing our new housssse, he told her. And I would really love your input, now that you're awake and can give it.

'Our house?' Sam repeated him... or approximately what he had said. Why would you be designing a house for us?

Jack's head remained bent down, but he said, Oh, call me crathy, but I'd like to have a houssse to share with my wife. Then he slowly looked into her blue eyes. If she'll have the houthe, that is, he added.

Sam inherently understood that the 'z' sound was giving him about as much trouble as the 's' sound, but she was too preoccupied with what he had said to remark on how he had said it. She earnestly gazed at him as her heartbeat went crazy the second he uttered the word 'wife'. And what about a husband? she was finally able to croak. She cleared her throat, and in a stronger voice, tried to sound nonchalant as she inquired, Does this mythical house come with one of those?

Jack paused in his drawing to critically stare at what he had created so far. He didn't meet her eyes again as he answered, Well, that's if the wife... and that better be you... wantth a husband... and that better be me... If she wants to share this houssse with him... the huthband, he self-consciously ended. His tone was hopeful now, hardly sounding like the 'General bark' that she had grown to associate with him.

Without actually referring to it, the lack of his bark made Sam recall the time when he really did lack everything, even the voice that he'd used to produce that roar. And at that time, Jack had been reduced to tears because... Sam had thought he'd cried because of the emotional lability that Dr. Brightman had predicted that he would have. But that hadn't been the case, Sam suddenly realized. He hadn't had lability at all, because he hadn't had a stroke to begin with. Yet tears had streamed from his eyes... she'd seen it or she still wouldn't believe it if someone else told her about it.

And the reason he'd been silently crying, alone in his tortured, tumultuous world, was because he'd dreamt that he was... that they were... only to find out that they never had been...

Sam gave an abrupt start, then finished her thought. He'd been crying because he'd thought he had been married to her. And when he'd found that this dream marriage of theirs, their family, the last mythical five years of his life... that it had been nothing but a fantasy, air that had no substance... then he had cried silent tears of agony over what he perceived to have lost.

But that sense of loss had not made it seem less real to him. And he had cried over the loss of all of them, his wife, their two kids... But especially of her. It had been the one time in almost eight years that she'd ever seen him shed a tear.

He loved her that much.

Quietly stunned, Sam gazed at him, too awed to speak at first. She kept staring first at him, at his drawing, then at him again. She willed her errant heartbeat to calm, her eyes to clear of the fog that had shrouded them... She finally said in a low voice, Don't you think we should talk about all this first? This relationship thing?

Nope, Jack decisively said. You sssscientistth... alwayth wanting to talk things through. If you ask me, talk just maketh thingth worse.

But what if..? Sam began to ask.

Jack cut her off when he shoved the notebook aside, and abruptly pulled her down into his lap. Let me put it to you in plain termth, using words that are simple. I love you. You love me... right?

Sam evilly took a moment to answer him, and when she did, said, I tried... hard... not to. I did everything I could to change my own feelings. Then she grinned. But I think you're stuck with me... Jack. Then she emphatically nodded, setting his mind at ease.

Good, Jack said, relieved, but trying not to look relieved. Then it'th thettled... Unless you want to continue to be mitherable, and let me go about my daily business, alone, and in a houthe full of your stuff.

I come with my stuff, Sam informed him. You have to take the whole package, or none of it at all.

Hmm, Jack said. All or nothing. He seemed to consider that idea, then came to a snap decision, quickly agreeing with everything she asked. Okay, he firmly said then. Can I get a dog? he asked.

Can I get a cat? she asked back in a form of retaliation.

Do you mind if I keep my truck? he inquired instead of answering her.

Does this house you're designing have three bedrooms, or four? she wanted to know.

Jack replied, That dependth on how many kidth... children... you want. Half of him couldn't believe he was holding Samantha Carter on his lap, proposing marriage, and the door to his SGC room was wide open, so anybody could see them if they happened to walk by.

Jack, Sam said then as she wound her arms around his neck. It was almost like she could read his thoughts about being worried if anybody should walk by and see them. She asked, What about the regs? Have they morfed into invisibility while I was asleep? How do you plan to get around them? Her brow puckered in consternation. Have you even thought of them?

Jack was quick to respond to her questions. I've thought of them, he assured. I thought of them for eight yearth. The fact that I'm finally not thinking about them is a good sign, dontcha think? he asked. Anyway, don't worry about the regth. I already took care of that.

Sam was surprised. You did? How did you manage that? she asked. When did you manage that?

I managed it thid morning, Jack nonchalantly told her, as if he were describing his breakfast and not military-altering deals. I went to thee you thid morning... in the wheelchair! he testified, making sure she knew that his safety had been paramount to him after getting zapped earlier that day by a stupid revolving fan.

Sam looked puzzled. What wheelchair?

The one that Kris left in here yethterday so that I could use it if I needed to be ssssomewhere. They pop the betht wheelieth, ya know.

Sam sternly glared at him.

Irascible, he offered, I'll let you take a ride in it later.

How magnanimous of you, she dryly stated.

Don't tell anybody about my partiality to letting you sit in my wheelchair, or the next thing I'll know, everybody will think I've gone thoft - not for you, but thoft in the head, offering rideth to sssscientists.

You mean I can't take it for a spin in the SGC hallways so that we can save your fierce General reputation? she teased.

Jack considered. You can take a ride if you sit on my lap, he agreeably stipulated.

Do you want more kids? Sam suddenly asked.

To his credit, only a flash of pain crossed Jack's eyes before the emotion disappeared. Then he gently smiled at her. It seemed like it had been far too long since she had seen him smile. She smiled back just because he was smiling. He answered, You bet I want kidth, fifty...

Fifty! Sam gasped.

Or none, Jack finished. Long ath you come along for the ride...

You haven't told me how you plan to go on that ride just yet, she reminded him.

Oh yeah... got thidetracked talking about wheelchair rideth.., Jack remarked. Anyway, thid morning... early... before Brightman got to work... that woman ith a meneth with needleth, by the way... and I thought that Doc was bad!... Anyway, I was visiting you in the early hourth of the morning... or actually, in the middle of the night... to avoid that doctor... and I ran into Hammond also visiting you.

Hammond?

Yeah, Jack said. He loveth you, too, and wanted to see how you were doing. Go figure. Then again, everybody loveth you... Anyway, after we correctly watched you ssssleep for awhile, Hammond asked me if I wath looking forward to going back to leading the THGC... Jack paused, shook his head in irritated regret, then replaced the word 'SGC' with, I mean 'here'... The idea that I would be happy to lead here again, after all this sick sssstuff ith over. And I said that the only way in Netu I wath going back to leading the ETHGC... here... again wath if I could marry you and have you leading right there alongside me.

Sam stared wide-eyed at Jack. You actually said that... to Hammond?

Jack nodded. Yep. And he stood real quiet for a minute while we both went back to staring at you lying in your Infirmary bed, looking like an angel who liketh to kick one foot out from under the blanketth, which I have the notion she ith going to hog... Jack grinned at her, a twinkle in his eye as he squeezed her middle. Then he continued, Anyway, Hammond finally said 'Okay,' and that he wath going to have to think about my idea. And I told him that he better get the Prethident thinking on my idea too, so they would have plenty of time to come up with a solution, or else I wath going to have to retire and become a housssehuthband to get you to marry me. So George... General Hammond... said that he would see what he could do. Then he left. Jutht like that.

Just turned and left? Sam asked, perplexed again.

Yep. Didn't even say goodbye.

Hmm. That was strange. Then what happened?

Jack went on, Thid morning Hammond came into my room while I was eating breakfassst... I even like Commithary food now! he reported. Living for days on end on an IV giveth a body a real taste for Commissary mashed potatoth.

For breakfast?

Hey, at least Brightman okayed mashed potatoth, Jack told her. I figured I shouldn't complain, or she'd put me back on an IV. He glanced around the room, and muttered, All right... Where wath I?

General Hammond came into your room, Sam prodded.

Oh yeah, right. Hammond came into my room during breakfast, and he said that the ssssolution they had come up with ith to sidewayth promote Colonel Reynoldth into being the military head of the... He screwed up his face in concentration. The SGC... and that they would then let me retire as long as I agree ahead of time to take over as the civilian leader of the... the SGC. Then the regs would no longer be a problem, you would report to Reynoldth as the new military head, you and I can get married, and...

Wait a minute, Sam said. Sideways promotion? She blinked. What the heck is that?

They'd make him head of the... the SGC... but not a General. He's only been a Colonel for a few yearth, after all. I wath a Colonel for... a lot longer, Jack lamely ended.

And what did you say to General Hammond's idea? Sam again prompted him.

I said that I would need a few minuteth to think it over, and then after thinking for only about a minute, I sssaid that their ssssolution was okay with me, as long as you don't mind getting a retired, has been, washed up General with bad kneeth. You don't mind, do you? His voice again held that same slightly worried tone in it when he had asked about the house.

Sam set his mind at ease once again. Only if you don't mind getting a fainting computer geek who's a scientist to boot, who owns a motorcycle that she takes apart just for fun every now and then, and who always forgets to take out the garbage until the house begins to smell funny.

What are you doing, ethperimentth on mold? Jack asked.

Hey! Sam said. That's actually a good idea. Then she added, Or at least we can tell people that's what I'm doing.

Then you agree?

You're the one retiring, Sam replied. Won't that drive you crazy?

I'm already a little crazy, Jack replied. I choothe to work in the... the SGC... after all.

And it helps to be a little crazy, Sam informed agreeably. It's in the job description.

It's part of the proposal, too, Jack reminded her. Think you can put up with a part crazed retired General?

Think you can put up with a female scientist?

You better be female! Jack growled. I only take candidatth whose reproductive organth are on the outsssside. And who offered to arm wrestle me in our first meeting.

How can I say 'no' to that? Sam rhetorically asked, her voice as dry as dead leaves.

Jack answered her, even though her question didn't require a response. You better not say 'no,' 'cauth I don't know if I can get my courage together to ask you a ssssecond time.

Then I better say 'yes' the first time you ask.

Yeah, you better, Jack agreed with her.

Sam gazed meaningfully into his eyes. Then we have a go.

Jack looked adorably surprised. Really?

Sam firmly nodded. Really.

Jack suddenly hugged her to him. Tightly. Thor will be thrilled, he predicted.

We're not naming any girls 'Teal'colette,' she announced then as her only stipulation to the deal.

That's what we're naming the dog, Jack announced right back to her.

Teal'c will be thrilled to be named after the dog, Sam predicted.

That'th the other way around, Jack said. We're naming the dog after him.

Better call the cat 'Daniel' then, she told him.

We're not allowing the cat onto the bed, Jack stated. That'll be the dog's domain.

Not if you want to do those 'other things,' she seductively said.

That'll be the bessst part, Jack predicted, and grinned. The dog can't miss that.

He'll adjust, Sam promised.

And so will I, Jack promised right back.

And so will I, Sam promised back again.

Do you want three bedrooms or four? he asked, repeating her initial question.

Does it matter?

In dreamth? Yeah.

Sam suddenly smirked. Let's just stick the kid in the closet under the stairs, and leave it at that.

That would be a problem, Jack said then as he began brushing his lips across her neck.

Why is that? She groaned. That man could be so distracting sometimes!

It's a one story houth, Jack told her. There aren't any stairth.

There's the basement, Sam suggested.

Jack answered just as his lips landed on hers. That'th where we're keeping the motorcycle... which we'll name 'Thor.' He kissed her then, a deep gesture that sent shivers down to her toes.

Sam spoke when he gently released her lips and smiled in pure satisfaction at her. To distract him from his sense of happiness at this situation, and to clear her head from the tingles he had caused, she spoke. We can name the motorcycle 'Thor' as long as it's written in Ancient, she next declared. Sprawled across the motor. She started to explore the skin of his neck with her own lips, much to his delight according to the grin that spilled across his face.

But Jack went on, Hey, if Thor can name a ship after me, I get to name a thycle after him.

Sam moved back to grin at him. That sounds fair, she whispered then. And no, we're not naming the kid, or one of the kids 'Thoretta.'

I didn't suggest it, Jack reminded her. At leassst I didn't suggest 'Hammond'.

Jack!

Tham!

That's 'Samantha' to you.

Jack retaliated to remind, That 's' only cometh out right every now and then, remember? How about 'Ham?'

How about 'Ack?'

I see your point, SSSSamantha.

I thought you would. Sam stared critically at him then, and finally said, You know, I think your esses are coming out better and better all the time.

Jack sent her a half grin and a half frown. Don't get any ideas about me 'practicing' all the time. Now his half grin became all frown. You're the only one I want to 'practice' for, anyway. His glare immediatly lightened as a thought struck him. I'll practice right now... I love you, he whispered.

There are no esses in that sentence, she pointed out. But... I love you too, she whispered back.

And that's all that really matterth. All this naming crap...

We can decide it later.

Want to have a luau for the reception? he asked.

And what are we gonna call the reception? she wanted to know.

Jack replied without missing a beat. We'll call it 'Thank the Gods they finally did it!' With that, he referred to the fight with the Goa'uld that had brought him and Sam together without really naming it at all.

Sam smiled at his comment. I like your style, Mr. O'Neill. She hugged him.

And I like yourth, Mssss. Carter. Jack enjoyed being hugged. I always have.

And they said the next word together. Always.

The End.


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