POINT OF YOU…

 

Disclaimers: I don’t own anything, except my mistakes.

A/N: I thought it was interesting trying to view their relationship under that angle…

There is one *small* reference to Star Wars

Another version of this story is available on the samandjack list, in a PG-15 version.

Copyright © Anakin David 2004

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Catherine Langford was anxious to find out if the new CO of the facility, General Hammond had managed to convince the joint chiefs of the interest of her discovery.

Thanks to the archaeological observations the Abydos mission had brought, Catherine had discovered that the many cartouches found in a special area of the temple, were in fact gate combinations to thousands of other worlds.

After discussing it with several military scientists on base, and their incredulity regarding the possibility of going to other worlds due to planetary shift, she specifically asked for the expertise of a brilliant theoretical Astrophysicist whom she had heard of from her contacts at the university, and who quickly filled in the blanks regarding planetary shift and actually opened thousands of possibilities of visiting other worlds -- theoretically that was.

All these brilliant theories were exciting, but still remained theories, and the entire crew of the StarGate Administration had been somehow wary about actually trying different addresses.

Catherine wasn’t expecting a lot, and she was prepared to hear that the project was to be closed.

Fate decided otherwise when Aliens invaded the top secret base, using the Stargate.

Retired Colonel Jack O'Neill was immediately called back to clarify his report on the first and only mission through the Stargate. Major General George Hammond was indeed convinced that the attack had come from the only alien world they knew so far, and that Ra had not been destroyed, despite what the Colonel’s report indicated.

Catherine Langford for her part, held onto the possibility that the mission to destroy Ra had stirred his fellow aliens, who then could have used any of the combinations she had discovered. Unfortunately as a civilian, she had no saying in military matters. The only thing she could achieve was call upon General Hammond’s wisdom to send a mission to Abydos a second time, and include her fellow scientist in it, the only person who could correctly assess the situation technically, to the best of her knowledge.

That’s when things began to heat up...

General Hammond entered the briefing room from his office, and after receiving the usual salutes, sat down as well as his officers.

“Where’s Carter?” he inquired, looking at Sammuels.

“Carter?” O'Neill quoted raising an eyebrow questioningly, looking at the general.

“I'm assigning Sam Carter to this mission.” He replied, looking straight at the Colonel.

“I'd prefer to put together my own team, Sir.” O'Neill said, sure of himself.

“... Not on this mission, sorry. Sam Carter's our expert on the Stargate.” General Hammond insisted.

“Where's he transferring from?” he asked, resigned.

“*She* is transferring from the Pentagon, and has been a member of the SGA since the beginning …”

Colonel Jack O'Neill felt his life was being shot in slow motion as a feminine figure clad in a dark woman-suit appeared before him, stepping from the corridor into the briefing room. She had longish blond hair and the most sparkling blue eyes he’d ever seen. She must have been in her early thirties and…

His thoughts were brusquely interrupted as she spoke.

“I take it you're Colonel O'Neill.” She extended her hand. “Samantha Carter, sir.”

Still a bit disorientated by her appearance, Jack O'Neill shook her hand back.

“But of course you go by ‘Sam’.” Kawalsky quipped.

Samantha chuckled with a half smile.

“You don't have to worry, Major. I played with dolls when I was a kid.”

Kawalsky bit his tongue and the retort he was going to launch.

General Hammond sighed, slightly annoyed. “Let's get started. Colonel?”

Samantha Carter took her seat as Colonel O'Neill began.

“Thank you. Those of you on your first trip through the Stargate, you should be prepared for what to expect.”

“I've practically memorized your report from the first mission. I'd like to think I've been preparing for this all my life.” Sam said, eager to prove to the Colonel she was worthy of his trust, despite her not being military.

“I think what the Colonel is saying is... have you ever pulled out of a simulated bombing run in an F-16 at 8-plus Gs?” Kawalsky smirked, jumping on the occasion to shut her up once and for good.

“Yes, once with my Dad when I graduated from college.” Sam replied, not flinching once.

To say Charles Kawalsky was a little annoyed and taken aback would have been an understatement, and all he could do was stutter: “Well... it's way worse than that.

“ By the time you get to the other side, you're frozen stiff like you've just been through a blizzard ... Naked.” Ferretti added sarcastically.

“That's a result of the compression your molecules undergo during the millisecond required for reconstitution.” Sam explained.

“Oh, here we go, another scientist. General... please.”

“Theoretical astrophysicist.” She supplied.

“Which means...?” O'Neill asked with a shrug.

“It means she is smarter than you are, Colonel. Especially in matters related to the Stargate.” General Hammond said sharply.

Kawalsky and Ferretti chuckled not so discreetly, making the Colonel frown, but his attention was driven back to her face as she spoke again.

“Colonel, I was studying the Gate technology for two years before you went through the first time. I should have gone through then.” She paused before resuming. “Sir, you and your *boys* might as well accept the fact that I am going through this time.” She said defiantly.

“Well, with all due respect, Miss…” He started.

“It is appropriate to refer to a person by their salutation when they have one. Call me ‘Doctor’.” She said, starting to get annoyed.

“Doctor Carter's assignment to this unit is not an option, it's an order.” Hammond once again said sharply. “... As well as Lieutenant Lawrence Conrad, who will join us in a few minutes.”

“Conrad?”

“He will be your expert historian.”

“At least he’s military...” O'Neill mumbled, not at all happy that he had only willingly chosen half of his team.

“Colonel, ensuring Dr. Carter’s safety is also one of your duties.”

“Yeah, I figured that myself, Sir...”

His latest smirk didn’t go unnoticed by Samantha. “As a civilian, I'm as capable of going on a stargate mission as any military person, Colonel. And just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, doesn't mean I can't handle whatever you can handle.” She added a bit defiantly.

“Oh, this has nothing to do with you being a civilian or a woman. I like women.” He replied. “I've just got a little problem with scientists.” He concluded, totally mesmerized by her, although nobody could tell from his detached attitude. Yep! You got it bad, man... he thought.

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They dialed the gate to Abydos and their success thus confirmed at least one of the general’s fears: that the gate hadn’t been destroyed or buried as O'Neill had ordered the Abydonians when they had left a year ago.

The team set out to the planet cautiously, ready for any possibility as to why the gate was still functional.

Part of the answer was given when they stepped out of the temple trying to find the Abydonians but were ambushed by -- whom they later-on learnt were -- Apophis’s Jaffas.

They were then led to a planet called Chulak and imprisoned with other humans, destined either to be killed or to be hosts to several snake-like parasites which they learnt were the Goa’ulds, Ra’s race.

The prison was managed sharply by a Jaffa whose forehead bore a golden tattoo, Teal’c. O'Neill tried to coax him into helping them escape, but it only resulted in him getting several broken ribs due to severe beating from the Jaffa, who spared his life only because Apophis had clearly designated him to be host for his son Klo’rel. O'Neill wondered a moment why he still had got madly beaten, until one of the prisoners told him that the parasite could heal and maintain its host in good shape.

It slowly dawned upon them that their situation was hopeless: trapped on an alien world somewhere in the galaxy, their weapons confiscated, and without any hope of being rescued by any of their friends.

Suddenly, Teal'c was summoned to Apophis’s side: one of his rivals had just attacked an important outpost. All blending was postponed until the situation got under control again, and Apophis set out to fight the intruder, taking his first prime and most of his Jaffas with him.

O'Neill consulted with his team, wanting to use that opportunity to escape.

“It’s the only opportunity we might get...” he concluded.

Kawalsky agreed as well as Ferretti and Conrad, but something was bothering Sam.

“Then what, Colonel?” she asked bitterly. “We don’t know exactly the gate address of the world we’re stranded on!” her retort was sharper than she had intended. She had no clue as to how to help the team rather than being the useless *civilian tourist* she felt she was.

“Whoa! Calm down, Carter! We’re in this all together!”

She realized she was being unfair.

“I’m sorry, Colonel... I should never have come on this mission. I’m a burden to you...”

“You’re not, Carter. At least you won’t be... We need brains to figure out how to get back home, and you’re our best shot.”

“I think you’re putting too much confidence in me, Colonel.” She smirked.

He put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“Hey...” he started gently. “You’ve got to believe in yourself, otherwise, how can the others do?” he encouraged her.

She smiled a little and was about to speak again when a woman crept beside them.

“Excuse me...”

O'Neill turned his head sharply towards her.

“... I overheard what you said.” She said, indicating Sam. “I know the address of my home, maybe you can return to yours from there...”

Sam’s mind went into overdrive at once.

“’Think you could, Doctor?” Ferretti asked.

“If I have the point of origin, yes. This could be the solution!”

“All right...” O'Neill started whispering to the woman. “Stay close to us, we’ll try to get you and the others outta here... Ferretti, Conrad, Kawalsky!...” he called. They all gathered and tried to determine which strategy was best.

They finally decided to launch a mini riot inside their cell with the help of the other prisoners, at least those who understood English and the few languages Conrad spoke. It worked so well that it quickly overtook the overly confident remaining Jaffas, and they managed to gate to the woman’s planet, and then back to Earth after a few calculations by Samantha.

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General Hammond was very pleased to see his team back and all in one piece. When they debriefed, O'Neill insisted on the threat the Goa’ulds posed, while Sam insisted on the technological possibilities visiting other worlds could bring. Taking both their recommendations in consideration, General Hammond had a long conversation with the President in Washington, and was allowed to launch what would become the Stargate program...

After that mission, Doctor Samantha Carter mostly remained on base, as the head of the scientific department. She had admitted herself that field action was not particularly HER field of expertise, and agreed to go only on missions of scientific interest...

SG1’s team dynamic was her favorite though, but maybe it had to do with SG1’s CO...

Despite her first impression on the man, she had come to discover several other sides of his personality on the Abydos mission that she liked a lot. Actually, if she was honest with herself, she liked Kawalsky, Ferretti, and Conrad as well, and their interaction with O'Neill made SG1 the best team of all without any doubt. But once again, she had the feeling that if SG1 were Jack O'Neill-less, it wouldn’t be the team it was.

She had started thinking a lot about him almost as soon as she had met him. Her initial shyness before entering the briefing room that day had vanished as soon as she had seen him. She couldn’t tell if it were the uniform or the silent assurance the man radiated, but she had known then that she could trust him with her life.

Every now and then, the Colonel would stop by her lab, and play with what he called one of her doohickeys. She liked these moments with him, when they were almost out of protocol and she could observe him smile.

On his part, Jack O'Neill felt a new energy course his veins, and his unprepared encounter of Dr. Samantha Carter was not foreign to that. After a few months at the SGA, in as close a contact as he could be, he had learned to like her.

Oh, that hadn’t been hard at all. He had been conquered as soon as she had flashed him one of her earth shattering smiles, and even when she happened to accompany him off world dressed in BDU’s, she looked sexy as Hell. He loved the stolen moments of quiet camaraderie they shared when he happened to drop by her lab, and sometimes, when he was not in a foul mood, he even enjoyed hearing her techno-babbling about the latest mineral or doohickey a SG unit had brought back.

He liked her voice, deep and voluptuous, the sound she made when she happened to laugh -- which he had to admit, was probably more due to the fact that he had managed to make her laugh than the actual sound of her laugh -- or the way her eyes twinkled when she was excited about something.

After his divorce, he thought it would be a long time before he would even think of any intimate relationship with a woman. But Sam was different from any other woman he had met in his life. A bright head with a sense of humor, and legs that never ended... He liked almost everything about her, except maybe for the long hair which made her look older than she actually was.

Nothing serious had happened between them of course, he felt he still needed some of that observation phase, but he was really looking forward to an opportunity to see her outside of the SGA, outside of her working environment.

That opportunity presented itself when Hammond granted a week’s downtime to SG1 and Dr. Carter, after a particularly long and tiresome mission on P6F-478. They had encountered people who lived by a very old and complex honor code that resembled some Ancient Far East Earth code, as Conrad had determined.

The interesting thing about them was that the soil of their planet was rather rich in Naquadda. They were friendly enough to introduce them to their *Patriuth* -- their leader -- but their code of living had been so tricky that it had demanded all the diplomatic skills of both Dr. Carter and Lieutenant Conrad, to negotiate a treaty worthy enough for both parties, including severe tests for the men, and some complicated ways of bowing, talking, and dressing for Samantha.

They had come back exhausted but happy that their efforts hadn’t ended up in the trash can. After the usual physical examination, shower, and debrief, they were all sent to their homes with the firm order not to come back before the end of the next week, which had -- for once -- not launched a chorus of protestations.

Before she went home Samantha had a few things to instruct her collaborators to do while she was gone, so she stopped by her lab and wrote some instructions on her laptop.

Colonel Jack O'Neill stepped inside without a sound, and startled her when he said:

“Perhaps I should recommend a month training period in the army to make you realize what ‘order’ means, Dr. Carter?”

She almost shrieked in surprise, but composed herself and not wanting to be left out, she turned towards him swiftly with the most serious expression she could muster.

“Be careful what you wish for, Colonel...” but seeing the smug smile tugging at the corners of his lips, she smiled broadly.

“I was just leaving some instructions for my collaborators. And I promise I’m leaving my laptop here!”

“Oh yeah, and how many files have you burnt on that disk next to it?” he winked.

She chuckled, looking briefly at her shoes.

“Good point... Don’t worry, Colonel. I promise I won’t tear my head off on scientific problems when I get home. I just have several reports to type and as I never get the time to do them on base...”

“All right.” He started leaving, then thought better of it. “Hey, the guys and I were gonna have a team night tomorrow. I know you don’t really belong to the team, but we’d appreciate the company...”

“I doubt, Ferretti and Kawalsky’s rather down-to-Earth humor might amuse me any longer after being treated to it for a week, Colonel. I’m sorry... Plus, I have a girl’s night with Janet tomorrow...”

If he was disappointed, it didn’t show on his face, but she could tell from the brief cloud that showed in his eyes, that he hadn’t liked her answer.

“OK then, see you in a week.” He started down he corridor again, as Sam returned to her laptop, but once again he traced back his steps.

He cleared his throat this time.

“Err... Samantha...”

She was surprised by the use of her name, and she turned sharply to him.

“Yes, Colonel?”

“Since you don’t seem to appreciate the guys’ sense of humor I was wondering if you... Err..” he started rubbing his hands together nervously, which was something she was utterly surprised at witnessing: Jack O'Neill, nervous? ... And in public?

“Yes?” she encouraged him.

“Well, would you care to join me for dinner at Tom’s steak house downtown on Wednesday?” he finally blurted out.

She smiled, bringing hope to his heart.

“That would be nice, yes...”

Relief washed over him and softened his features as a smile crept to his lips.

“Great, I’ll pick you up at 1900?”

“All right, Wednesday 1900. I’ll be expecting you.”

“Sweet! See you then!” He cried as he was already walking down the corridor at a light pace. Then suddenly he stopped and made yet a U-turn...

She hadn’t returned to her work yet, watching him with amused eyes.

“Err... Sam?” he asked, leaning one of his elbows on her door frame with a puzzled look.

“Yes?” she asked, getting clearly amused by the situation.

“Where do you live?”

She burst out laughing...

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Tom’s steak house was packed, but as Jack had made reservations, they were led to a secluded booth that allowed them a little privacy.

Once their respective orders had been placed, they started small talks to lighten the rather tense atmosphere between them. They had never seen each other outside of the SGA, and that alone was making both a little uncomfortable. Fortunately, that feeling dissipated soon enough for them to start enjoying the evening.

“So, Jack?” Sam started after a moment. “What were you doing before joining the program?”

“Well not much actually, I was retired. I mean after the first Abydos mission, my personal life was not going well and...” he said, casting his eyes down as a shadow crossed his face.

“I’m sorry.” She said, embarrassed.

“No, don’t... You weren’t supposed to know.” He said, looking at her smiling reassuringly. Then, pushed by some instinct, he felt suddenly compelled to tell her more. He took a sharp breath and resumed. “I was married then. Our son Charlie died of Leukemia when he was 8, prompting my first retirement, and probably the slow downfall of our marriage. Sarah and I never could get things straight between us about Charlie’s death, I didn’t know how to show her my emotions, and I didn’t know how to listen or how to make her feel that I was not as insensitive as she thought I was... I have a lot of trouble dealing with strong feelings... Maybe it’s because of my military training, or maybe it’s just me but... Well... That’s when they first came to ask me to go back to duty, and that’s when the first Stargate mission with Catherine occurred. When I came back, the whole experience had unlocked some doors inside of me, and somehow, I felt ready to rebuild my marriage and sort things out with Sarah... But she hadn’t waited for me to get there, and she’d left home. So instead of rebuilding our marriage, we filed for divorce.”

Samantha had gone quiet. After a moment of awkward silence, he looked at her, his eyes twinkling.

“Hey, don’t let my pitiful excuse for a life put down the mood of the evening!”

She smiled briefly.

“What’s done is done, I guess we would have come to that conclusion one day or another anyway.” He resumed. “Loosing a child is probably the most terrible thing that can happen to a couple.” He added in a soft voice.

Once again, an uncomfortable silence settled.

As if coming to his senses and wanting to wipe away a bad dream, he sighed and resumed.

“Now come on... Let’ talk about you. I know now that you’ve been working on the project even before they pulled me out of retirement?”

Samantha gathered her thoughts, and looked at him, a shadow of a smiled drawing itself on her lovely features.

“Yeah... Well, that’s were my PhD in Astrophysics led me. I was contacted to conduct an extremely classified research over some artifact that had been discovered at the beginning of the century in Egypt. They said they had nobody in the Army that had my level of knowledge and competence and... Here I am...” she summed up, mindful of inquisitive unauthorized ears. “I had just finished my doctorate, and was about to own my own research department at Yale, along with a teaching chair...”

“What prompted you to accept?”

She smiled pensively.

“Trivial as it might sound, a man...”

“Oh?”

“I was involved with an Air Force captain at the time, Jonas Hanson. He was being assigned to Cheyenne Mountain, and the research project was in Colorado. We were engaged, it seemed the good opportunity to start our lives together...”

“What happened to him?”

She hesitated a long moment, then sighed, looking him in the eye.

“Well to make a long story short, after six months living together in the Springs, he became extremely jealous and possessive, and started to become violent. Although I realized I was trapped into one of those hopeless situations, I just couldn’t leave him and take that position at Yale, I was already far too much involved with the project and we were making great progress with it. So I tried to put on a brave face and be as compliant and docile as I could be without loosing it all together. What I didn’t know was that he was cheating on me with a lieutenant on base. When it was discovered, he was court-martialled, dishonored, and as he tried to shoot two MP’s at the audience, sent to a psychiatric unit in Pennsylvania. I learned several months later that he had managed to escape his keepers during a transfer, only to be intercepted and shot when he tried to force a police roadblock a few days later...”

He kept silent for a while, then raised his beer, swaying it softly before her eyes to get her attention.

“... Nice to know I’m not the only one whose life was screwed up...” he said gently.

She chuckled dryly.

“Welcome to the club...” she said, looking him in the eyes, her eyes twinkling at last.

“Why don’t we get out of here and take a breath of fresh air. According to the weather broadcast, the night should be cloudless and it’s the new moon tonight... Have you ever gone stargazing?”

She smiled at the prospect.

“Stargazing?... You mean as in through a telescope?... Strange as it may appear to you, never out in the open air, always through computer calculations!... Well except when I was a kid and my Dad would try to explain the constellations to me. It only served to make me want to go out there one day, but I could care less about the shapes the stars were drawing...”

“Then tonight’s the perfect opportunity!” He said, grabbing his jacket and signaling for the waitress to bring the bill.

A little while later, they were seated on a hill above the city. Jack didn’t want to be so forward as to invite her stargazing on his roof on their first ‘date’, so he decided to point out the summer constellations for her.

“You know, Jack, you’ve just made stargazing a whole lot more interesting than what I remember!” she said after a while.

She looked him in the eyes, their sight now accustomed to the soft darkness of the night.

He smiled softly.

“That’s because you have a handsome teacher!” he teased.

She chuckled.

“Don’t push it...” she replied as playfully.

“What, you don’t think I’m handsome?”

“Well, to put it mildly, I think you’re goofy, irreverent, witty, sarcastic, sexy...”

“All that?!” he smiled broadly.

“... And a jackass...” she concluded almost laughing, which prompted a false offended face from him.

“Very funny...”

“Come on, I said you are... Sexy!”

He smiled again.

She smiled back, the darkness enhancing the intimacy of the moment, then leant her head on his shoulder, hooking her arm with his.

“Can you show me Orion?... I remember vaguely it being my favorite constellation when I was a kid...”

“You’ll have to wait until winter, Sam... Orion can only be seen at night in the winter.”

“What’s your favorite?”

“Well in the summer, it’s Pegasus and Andromeda, which are actually two parts of the same constellation. They are mostly visible in August... And...” he pointed a brilliant star right in the middle of the Milky Way. “There you have one of the most brilliant stars of summer, Deneb, with two other ones...” he moved his fingers while he explained. “Altair and Vega... I like to think Charlie watches us from there...”

She squeezed his arm to show her support.

“You know, I was sincere when I said stargazing with you was really nice.”

“Thank you... I guess...” he said in a low voice.

“I’ve had a wonderful time, Jack... We have to do that again...” she said, raising her head.

“Is it my cue to bring you home?” he asked smiling.

She smiled back.

“Unless you want to carry a sleeping body, I guess it is, yes...”

“Oh, don’t tempt me!” he joked, standing up and helping her up in the process.

He drove quietly back to her place and walked her to the door. She inserted her key in the lock and slightly pushed her door open, then she faced him.

She was a bit startled by his proximity.

“Whenever you would want a repeat, just call me?” she said softly.

She saw him smile faintly in the darkness.

“Oh you can bet on it, Sam...” he leaned over then, and softly touched her lips with his. It was a very chaste kiss but it nonetheless sent butterflies to his stomach. He knew full well that if he didn’t stop right then and there, he wouldn’t stop at all, and he didn’t want that right now. It was too soon for both of them. So he reluctantly took a step back, clearing his throat.

“Next time, if you can handle being on your own in a man’s house, I’ll treat you to my cooking and my roof for stargazing through my telescope...”

“That would be nice, yes...” she said.

“Good night, Samantha.”

“Good night, Jack...”

They started seeing each other more often then, between team nights, movies, and restaurants. She brought fresh air into his life, her infectious smiles and laughter a cure for what his life previous to their encounter had been. And one day, he simply realized that he had fallen in love with her...

They had all decided to celebrate Kawalsky’s birthday at an Italian restaurant downtown, and once again, Jack had used the excuse of the special event, to ask Sam to come with them. The three other members of SG1 were getting quite used to having her around when they were sharing what should have been exclusively team nights, but they didn’t mind. Sam was funny and witty, and they had learned to respect her, and appreciate her company. But they were no fools either and they had long ago realized the special relationship their CO shared with her. As it seemed to do more good to the team than bad, they were happy about it too.

Jack had volunteered to pick her up, and hence, he was the one driving her back after the restaurant. He pulled up in front of her house and stopped his truck. They had ridden in silence, not needing words to convey the nice feelings of just being together. Sam pulled the handle of the door, then before exiting his truck, looked at him a little hesitantly.

“Care for a cup of coffee, Jack?”

He looked at her intensely, then shut his engine off.

“With great pleasure, Sam...”

She smiled and exited the car going up to her front door. He locked his truck and followed her inside.

She went to her kitchen, opening one cabinet to fetch two mugs, and set her coffee machine on after adding the powder and water. As she was busy facing the counter where the machine was, he came behind her, he startled her a little when he encircled her waist from behind.

He buried his face in her blonde mane at the back of her neck, and murmured.

“Let me make love to you, Sam... If I don’t, I think I’m gonna go crazy...”

She turned in his embrace, facing him and looked him in the eyes, a silent conversation starting between them. Before long, she smiled tenderly, brought her hands to his face, and kissed his mouth softly.

He tightened his grip on her hips, moving then his hands to her shoulders and drawing her body even closer to his as he intensified the kiss.

Still respectful of her, he pulled back, leaning his forehead against hers, and licking his lips as if he didn’t want to loose any drop of her sweet taste.

“I don’t think I’ll take that cup of coffee, Sam...”

“... The machine switches off automatically...” she said, kissing him again and dragging him through the corridor to her bedroom.

She opened the door and went to switch on the lamp on her bedside table, never letting go of him, then she faced him.

He brought a hand up to caress her face, pushing some of her hair behind her ears to reveal more of her beautiful face. He seemed mesmerized by the simple feeling of her soft skin underneath his fingertips as he caressed her temple lightly, then he bent slightly, as if asking permission, and gently laid a kiss on her mouth.

She surprised him when she grabbed his head with both her hands, and pulled him harder against her, her mouth literally ravishing his -- oh, no doubt he would have a bruised mouth the next day!

“Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that, Jack?” she managed to murmur in his ear as she tugged at various parts of his clothing.

“Probably not as long as I...” He replied huskily, slowly surrendering to the spiral of passionate feelings erupting between them.

“I wouldn’t bet on that...” she breathed shakily as she pulled him in yet another bruising kiss.

Then suddenly, he got a hold of both her hands and steadied her.

“Not like this, Sam...” he managed to say between pants.

She didn’t know whether to be offended or not by the sudden change in his attitude, but any thought of being angry at him vanished altogether when he took her mouth between his lips and gave her a deep kiss.

“Let me...” he said, slowly unbuttoning the blouse he had so urgently tugged out of her trousers a moment before.

She took a deep breath in and finally decided to let him take the lead.

Soon the blouse lay discarded, casually thrown on the armchair at the end of her bed.

He took a moment to absorb her pale silhouette and bury it in his mind, wanting to carve her gracious features in his memory.

He stepped closer, kissing her neck, then jaw then mouth as his agile fingers reached the waistband of her pants and worked on the button holding them.

Without her even processing the information to her brain, she was standing in front of him clad only in her white lacy underwear.

She looked so feminine, he thought.

“I don’t want to embarrass you, Sam, but you are beautiful...” He murmured huskily. “... A perfect model for Rodin or Camille Claudel...”

She felt a wave of shyness overflow her at his words, both surprised at hearing that he had at least once taken some interest in European 19th century sculpture, and hearing him actually say this to her.

“I didn’t know you were interested in European artwork...” she murmured, her eyes shining.

He smiled briefly.

“You have much to learn from me, Sam...” he said, as he stepped towards her again, and grabbed her slender waist. He brought his lips to her face, kissing her on her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks, her mouth, then went down to her neck, softly forcing her to tilt her head backwards to allow him better access.

As he reached her collarbones, he slipped one arm underneath her thighs, lifting her in a swift movement before laying her on the bed covers.

He broke the contact, looking her in the eyes, before starting on the buttons of his shirt, quickly getting rid of the garment. Then his hands went down to the buckle of his belt, and soon his jeans were lying on the floor next to his shirt, as he had disposed of his shoes unceremoniously upon entering the room a while before.

Still in his underwear, he sat on the bed next to her. She had snuck underneath the sheets while he was taking his clothes off, and she had that eager look on her face that told him how much she wanted him.

He grinned at her, bringing the back of his finger to her cheek and caressing it softly.

“Before we go further...” he started as a means to get her attention. “... I want you to know that I’m serious about this, about us... I love you.” He admitted in a voice constricted by emotion.

She smiled broadly, reached up and attracted his head to hers, her lips seeking his.

“I love you too...” she murmured between kisses.

He slipped under the covers and finished disrobing her, expertly getting rid of her underwear, and then his lips were everywhere on her body.

He wanted to treat her as the most precious thing he had ever laid his hands on, so he tried and listened to her body’s reactions.

He started softly kneading the perfect mounds at the top of her chest, so round, so full, neither too small nor too big, just as he liked them, firm yet tender under his ministrations. He flicked his tongue over one dark pink bud, watching it react promptly, Sam’s sighs his clue that she liked what he did. Not wanting its twin to be left over, he gently squeezed it between his index and thumb while he went on paying the other a devoted homage. Then he switched and continued his teasing.

Encouraging him, Sam wrapped his head in her hands, clutching at his hair, forcing more pressure there and then. When she couldn’t wait any longer, she pulled him up and attracted his lips to hers in a deep kiss.

As he kissed her soundly, not wanting to end his exploration of her body, his hands glided down her side, only to discover she was ticklish as she giggled in his mouth when he reached a certain area. He smiled inside, deciding to store that information for later.

He left her mouth to trace a slow sensuous path along her torso then abdomen and lower, his head hovering above her as he took his time to imprint her scent in his mind, musky, sweet and what made her this very special woman to him.

He looked at her as if asking permission, before inebriate his senses with her. His hand and fingers wound their way through her secrets, searching what aroused her and what didn’t, seeking that special area that made her spasm in rapture when he finally found it.

He kissed her sweetness softly several times before going up to kiss her mouth again, mixing her essence with her saliva, tasting yet another flavor.

He looked at her tenderly as she finally came back to Earth, stroking her cheek softly with the back of his finger.

“I hope you liked it?” he said with a note of amusement.

“Jack, I had fantasies about it being good with you, but never that good!”

He chuckled.

“And that’s a boost for my male ego!” he joked, kissing her softly on the lips.

“You don’t think you’re done, there, do you?”

“Nope!”

“Well I think you need a rest, flyboy!” she said, sitting up suddenly and pushing him on his back before tracing soft kisses down his chest.

He smiled as he felt her teasing lips, but as much as he wanted it, he knew his desire was far too powerful for him to hold long and resist the sweet torture, so he gently pulled her head up to his despite her slight protest, and kissed her lips softly.

“No, Samantha. Not this time. This time it’s for you, my mission is to please you first, and if you had gone on like this then I would have been unable to complete it... And you know how much of a good soldier that would have made me...” he winked.

She chuckled softly, kissing him. “You know you are the most selfless man I’ve ever met?” she said softly.

“Once again, there are so many things you need to know about me, Samantha...”

And then he swiftly turned her on her back and began his earlier ministrations, before finally uniting their bodies in the age old dance of love.

He didn’t have to wait a long time before she threw her head backwards panting his name, and her release triggered his own. The intensity of his orgasm surprised him, even if it had been a long time, he had seldom reached such heights. He smoldered a groan until he felt her soft hands on the nape of his neck.

“Let it go, Jack... Let it go for me...”

“God Sam!” he moaned before kissing her as if he were a desperate man seeking salvation in that kiss.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

Samantha was busy preparing dinner. She had never been much of a cook, but had taken a new interest in the topic since she and Jack had decided to move in together, making their relationship official to the rest of the base at least.

Jack was due any minute now, he said he had a few errands to go after work, but work was supposed to have ended an hour and a half ago.

She was so busy trying to concentrate on her sauce that she didn’t hear the front door open and close, and his footsteps as he came softly behind her.

“Whatcha cooking?!” he asked softly kissing the back of her ear, making her jump.

“Jack!”

“Were you expecting anyone else?” he asked softly chuckling as he turned her in his embrace to give her what he called a proper kiss.

“Wait a sec, would you? I’ve tried three times to make this sauce good!” she said as she went back to her stove.

“’Know what? I’ll wait for you in the lounge. I have something very important to ask you...”

“I’ll be there soon, I promise.”

After a while indeed, Samantha made her entrance in the lounge. He was reading a Hockey magazine, but put it down as soon as he heard her footsteps.

She was carrying two glasses of wine, and she gave him one as she sat down, setting hers on the coffee table.

Jack looked at her smiling. There was an aura of happiness around her face that made it glow even stronger than when he had first met her, and he seemed to be responsible for that! He couldn’t feel prouder...

He took a gulp from his glass before putting it next to hers on the coffee table. Then he took both her hands in his, moving on the couch so that he could face her entirely.

“So, what is it you wanted to ask me?” she asked.

“Samantha, we’ve been seeing each other for what?... Nine months now?”

“Nine months, 3 days and a few hours...” she replied playfully.

“Do you think you could bear to see me 24/7 for the rest of your life?”

“What?” she asked grinning, not understanding exactly the meaning of his words.

He picked a small black velvet box in his Jeans pocket and popped the lid open before her eyes.

“I am asking you to marry me...” he said a bit clumsily.

“Oh my God, Jack!” she said, letting go of his hands to raise hers to her mouth.

With trembling hands, she then took the box from his fingers and took the ring before slipping it on her finger, playing her hand before her eyes to admire the beauty of the jewelry.

“I... I hope you like it...” he said a bit unsure.

“Jack, it’s gorgeous!”

“I couldn’t think of anything else than a sapphire, like your eyes, and gold, like your hair...”

She silenced him with a deep kiss.

“Jack O’Neill, it’s the most amazing ring I have ever seen, and you know what makes it perfect?”

“Tell me...” He said, kissing her knuckles.

Her eyes sparkled with love and happiness.

“... The simple fact that you love me enough you want to marry me...”

He smiled broadly and pulled her in a deep embrace, before kissing her mouth with renewed passion.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

The ceremony that bonded Samantha Carter and Colonel Jack O'Neill in holy matrimony was simple and only their closest friends attended, including SG1, General Hammond, and Major Janet Fraiser, which amounted to a small number of people.

The couple beamed with happiness as she threw the bouquet. Kawalsky took a picture of them as a rain of flower petals descended on them. Dinner afterwards was held at Jack’s who had hired the services of professional caterers, and a band took care of the music.

Her feet sore from dancing with almost every man present at their wedding, Samantha took a much needed rest on a bench next to the house, enjoying the music and the sight of their friends and family having fun. She felt the happiest woman on Earth as she caught sight of her husband dancing with Dr. Janet Frasier. Her *husband*... She liked thinking of Jack as her *husband* she decided.

She was so engrossed in the warm feelings that coursed through her mind, that she hadn’t noticed her father had come to sit next to her.

“You look happy, Sam...”

She started a bit at his voice.

“Dad!...” She exclaimed smiling at him broadly.

He returned her smile briefly, but she couldn’t help but notice a trace of sadness in his look.

“Dad? You okay?”

Jacob Carter sighed.

“Sam... I have cancer...” He blurted out.

In a nanosecond, Sam’s happiness was clouded with darkness. “What?”

Jacob smiled bitterly. “Lymphoma.”

“That's bad.” She breathed.

”Well, it's not good. But it's not the worst. Don't you worry, I'll be around for a while…” he said, trying to be reassuring.

“Oh God, Dad!” She said, standing up to face him.

Jacob looked straight at her.

“Look, Sam. I’m sorry to tell you this on your wedding day, but I was hoping to stick around long enough to see you become an astronaut.” He seemed to gather his thoughts, then resumed. “Sweetheart, I don't care what it is you do in that mountain nothing in the world can live up to the chance to actually go into space. Not for you - it's something you've wanted your whole life. And I admit it, I want to see you fulfil your life's dreams before I die.”

“It's my dream, doesn't that make it up to me?” Sam shot back, a little stronger than she intended to.

“Fathers have dreams too.” Jacob said softly.

“Sorry, I can't...” Sam said, sitting back down.

Jacob stood up, smoothing his dress uniform.

“Alright. Like I said, this thing's going to go on for months, so you don't have to check up on me tomorrow.”

Sam looked at him with a plea in her eyes.

“Dad, please don't go like this...”

But Jacob was already heading for the house, and then his car.

“Congratulations on the wedding, Sam... I guess Jack is the one...” he said, not even looking at her, with a wave of his hand.

“Dad!” She shouted one more time, standing up.

But he was already inside the house. Sam sat back down and tried to understand fully what had just happened, when she heard soft footsteps behind her and knew immediately whom they belonged to.

“Something wrong with your Dad?” he asked softly, sitting down next to her, facing her half turned back.

She quickly wiped her cheeks underneath her eyes, checking on her fingers her mascara hadn’t smeared them too much, repressed a sniffle, then turned to him.

He looked concerned.

“Hold me, Jack.” She simply asked.

He opened his arms and she took shelter in his warm embrace. They remained silent for a few minutes before she spoke.

“Dad has cancer.” She simply said.

Not too good with words, Jack just tightened his embrace, kissing the top of her head, and murmuring sweet nonsense to soothe her.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

Sam woke up with a start.

“No! Martouf!” She cried.

Jack was next to her in an instant, cradling her in his embrace.

“Sam!” came his muffled voice in her ear. She was trembling. He just held her long enough for her shaking to subside, then gently turned her so he could face her.

“You were dreaming...” he stated.

“Yes... Jack... I’m...”

“Shh...” He said, caressing her hair.

“These are not *my* dreams...”

“What do you mean?”

She took a deep breath and a gulp of water from her glass on the night stand.

“I guess it has something to do with Jolinar.” She started. “I saw a man, his name was Martouf. He wore clothes I didn’t recognize as things we would wear on Earth, and somehow, I know he was close to the symbiot I once carried, Jolinar. There were people running everywhere, and Jaffas firing their staff weapons at us, it was like some kind of evacuation... Martouf was trying to earn some time, I dialed the DHD, and we gated to his home planet, I guess... Then... I woke up.”

He kissed her brow.

“This Martouf... Is he as handsome as I am?” He asked jokingly.

“Jack!” she said, swatting his arm gently. “I’m serious!”

“Sorry...” he said, hugging her again. “I was just trying to diffuse the tension.”

“Jack... I saw the dialing sequence...”

“So?”

“So it means maybe we can find those people...”

“Oh for crying out loud Sam! They’re Goa’ulds!”

“They’re not! And you know it!... What Goa’uld would give its life to save its host?! I mean yes, I was a host, but from our own experience, the Goa’ulds just change hosts when theirs are dying, they’re not trying to save their lives!”

“Okay, you’ve got a point...”

“Jack, let me try to find this planet... Let me try the combination...”

He sighed, lying back down with a hand on his forehead, obviously deep in thought. After a moment, he sighed.

“Look Sam, it’s not up to me to decide these kinds of things. We’ll go talk to Hammond and we’ll see what he decides. For what it’s worth, I trust you... I don’t trust the snake, but I trust *you*.”

Sam relaxed at last and lay down against his chest.

“Thank you, Jack.”

“Hmmm...” He mumbled against her head. “I just want to check for myself who this Martouf is, and why he sends dreams to my wife while she’s asleep...” he joked, which was rewarded by a playful swat on his chest.

“Jack!”

“Come on, don’t you like a little jealousy?” he teased her.

She chuckled and kissed his chest.

“What kind of a name is Martouf, anyway?” he concluded, earning himself another slap on the chest.

“Now Dr. Carter, that’s so not fair!” he said, reversing their positions swiftly, and pining her to the mattress below him.

“It’s ‘O’Neill’!” She managed to groan as Jack’s mouth left hers to trail soft kisses along her jaw towards her neck then collarbones.

“What?” he mumbled, not stopping his actions one second, his mouth fastening onto a pink nub as his hand started teasing the other.

“Doctor... O’Neill...” she choked as what he was doing to her senses registered with the rest of her body.

“Oh yeah!” he said, his voice muffled by the contact of her soft skin. “’can’t seem to acknowledge that the most brilliant mind on Earth chose to marry such the dumb ass I am...” he chuckled.

She stilled his movements and brought his head up so she could look him in the eyes.

“Jack! You are *not* what you call a ‘dumb ass’... Don’t call the man I love a dumb ass.” She said forcefully.

He smiled.

“I guess that’s that self deprecating streak talking again...” he said as means of an apology.

She smiled and gave him a soft kiss that quickly transformed itself into a much more heated one.

“Make love to me, Jack...” she asked huskily.

“Yes Ma’am!” he replied as huskily, resuming his previous ministrations on her body.

After that, Samantha forgot entirely about her bad dreams...

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

They had been held in those tunnels for God knew only how long, and Sam didn’t see the end coming. Why couldn’t the Tok’ra trust them, for crying out loud?!... Why couldn’t they let her go see her dying father? Did they have no feelings at all?...

“He doesn't even know why I'm not there for him. He thinks I'm off somewhere working on some damn satellite dish or something.” She said in a fit of despair, her arms hanging loose at her sides.


Jack touched her shoulder reassuringly.

“We're gonna get you back there Sam. The good news is, there's eight of us now.”

“That's good news?” Conrad asked, bewildered.

“Yes!” Said Jack as if stating the obvious “More manpower!”

“Is this another one of your strange jokes?” Kawalsky quipped.

“Ah, no.” Jack replied.

“It would be impossible.” Kawalsky resumed “There is only one way out, via the rings. We would then have to elude hundreds of snakeheads.”

“I for one don't want to hurt any of them.” Samantha said vehemently.

“Look, I'm not too thrilled about hurting anyone either. But keep in mind these people wanna make you a host, and as I recall you said that whole 'Jolinar Goa'uld in the head' deal was one of the worst things that ever happened to you!” Jack said, getting a little upset at their lack of enthusiasm for what seemed to be their best shot at getting out of there.

“That's before I understood it better. If I wasn't fighting her and I knew what it meant for Jolinar to be a Tok'ra, it might have been, I don't know, enlightening.” She replied, anguish turning her insides into jelly. She had to admit Jack had a point, she found the Tok’ra’s contempt towards the alliance they offered disgusting, and their lack of humanity made her feel like retch. The only interest the *Tau’ri* held in their eyes was that they could become hosts... *hosts*? Just like cattle! Christ, it was disgus.... Wait a minute... That could be the solution for her dad, and a solution for their dying Selma’c too, and ultimately, it could very well help them conclude that alliance and be a peaceful way out of this!

Samantha didn’t think the whole thing over twice. “I need to see Garshaw!” she exclaimed, stepping before a bewildered Jack O’Neill.

“What? He asked.

“What is the one thing that they need the most?” she asked him expectantly.

“Well, hosts, which we can't give them.” He replied.


At that moment, Garshaw entered, followed closely by Martouf.

“What is it?” the distinguished woman asked.

Samantha stepped forward.

“You said that the symbiot can cure most problems in a human.”

“Yes.” The Tok’ra replied.

“Does that include cancer?” she asked, hopeful.

“What is cancer?” Martouf asked, not understanding.

“It's a disease in humans where the cells grow out of control, you get tumors...” Jack supplied.

“Oh yes, it's a common ailment amongst your species. We cure it all the time, it's no problem.” Garshaw responded.

“Colonel, I think we should at least try to offer it to my Dad?” Samantha asked him.

Jack was beginning to see where Sam was headed.

“We might have a host for you.” He said, thus concluding Sam’s thought and showing her his understanding.

“You have a host for Selma’c?” the Tok’ra asked.

“Yes. My father. He's got cancer and if Selma’c can save his life I think he'd be willing to try it.” She said enthusiastically.

“But you have to let us go back.” Jack warned.

“I will let two of you go. But the rest will remain to ensure that you will return.” Garshaw said carefully.

Samantha and Jack nodded and were led to the rings.

A few hours later, and after much convincing, General Hammond and Dr. Carter-O’Neill reached her father’s bedside.

“Clear the room, people.” General George Hammond said as he entered Jacob Carter’s room.

“I told you not to recall her.” Jacob said weakly, obviously upset.

“Happy to see you too, Dad.” Samantha said in a heartfelt attempt at sarcasm.

“You wanted me to tell you what your daughter does underneath Cheyenne Mountain, so I thought maybe she could tell you herself.”

“Yeah? What happened to the classification?” Jacob replied bitterly.

“It's still classified. But you just got clearance.” Hammond replied cautiously.

“Why?” Jacob asked, sighing.

“Well, believe it or not, we need your help, Dad.” Samantha told him.

“What? The Pentagon wants me to deliver a message to God when I get up there?” Jacob smirked.

“Not exactly.” Hammond answered, seriously.

“Well I don't plan to see the other guy.” Jacob quipped.

Samantha decided it was time to take the plunge.

“Dad, have you ever heard of the Stargate program?”

“No, is that one of your satellites?” Jacob asked.

“I don't work with satellites, Dad, that was just a cover.”

“No kidding. I never would have guessed. So tell me, what do you do that's so great you don't want me to get you into the astronaut program?” he said, unmoved.

“Well, this is gonna be a lot for you to take in at once...” she started.

Jacob had had enough... “Stop beating around the bush. What do you do?”

“I travel to other planets. Much farther away than any astronaut goes... That is, when I’m not working in my lab on some piece of Alien technology.”

“So you're not going to tell me the truth.” Jacob smirked.

“She is telling you the truth, Jacob.” Hammond confirmed.

“She goes to other planets. What, like in simulations?” Jacob asked, beginning to feel uneasy.

“No. In reality.” Hammond replied, amused.

“We discovered a piece of alien technology. It can send us to thousands of planets all over the galaxy.” Samantha resumed, beginning to feel amused at her father’s discomfort.

“You're not kidding, are you.” Jacob asked his daughter as it began to dawn upon him that they were telling the truth.

“No.” She said simply.

“Holy Hannah! So what do you want me to do?” Jacob felt the stirs of adventure pulling at him despite his current situation.

“Well, we'd like you to travel to one of these planets with us.” She stated simply.

“Why? So I can die there?” he quipped, trying to understand.

“No. Actually, I'm hoping what we want you to do will cure your cancer.” She said, confident.

“They have a cure there? What's the catch?” Jacob asked, suspicious: this looked too good to be true...

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

Jacob Carter was pacing the briefing room a worried frown on his forehead.

George Hammond and Jack O'Neill were watching him warily, Samantha O'Neill sitting quietly in one of the chairs.

Jacob finally sighed and grabbed the back of one of the chairs around the table.

“George, we’ve got intel that Apophis is gathering his forces, and his target is Earth.” He finally blurted out.

O'Neill and Hammond looked at each other briefly.

“You’re sure about your information, Jake?”

“Yeah. He didn’t appreciate your little escape from Chulak, the riot that Colonel O'Neill started among the prisoners, and the resulting death of his mate Amonet. He knows the Stargate is protected. The only way to come to you is through space, and believe me, he knows how to hold a grudge. He’s coming for you, Jack...”

“Well that’s one more on my list... What can we do?”

“The Tok’ra cannot be of any help on that.” Selmak said. “Our field is covert actions, we don’t have enough people for an army, and even if we did, we couldn’t engage in any action against Apophis. The only thing we can do is keep you up to date with his progress so you will know when...”

“Not much of a choice, have we?” Jack quipped.

“What about the Naquadda generated shield Samantha’s working on?” Jacob asked.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to ask her... I’m not a science buff myself...” Jack said, raising his eyebrows.

“It’s far from even being conceptualized, dad...” Samantha said dejectedly.

“In any case, I don’t think a shield would be enough to stop these guys.” Jack resumed “We’d need weapons... Big honking guns or canons to kick their asses and send them back where they come from...” he looked at the Tok’ra with expectant eyes. “’Think you can spare a few like that, Selma’c?”

“We do not have such weapons, Colonel O'Neill. You know that. The best we can do is help you design a shield powerful enough to protect you the time you’ll need to find how to destroy his fleet.”

“Yeah... Buying some time... talk about some good strategic choice!” he said dejectedly. Then he looked at Sam as an idea flashed though his mind. “Sam, what about that Quantum Mirror we found on P3R233?”

“What would you want to do with that?”

“We could go to another reality and try to find some technologies or anything that could help us fight back? ”

“Provided we had time for that, Jack... I mean think of the thousand possibilities that exist, and who are most probably at the same level of technology that we are!”

“We could send several teams?”

“No... We can only send one at a time, we only have one remote, and even if I could figure out how it’s built to try and reproduce one, it would take me too much time, along with the fact that we do not know the consequences of sending several teams in several different realities.”

“The other option is not very appealing either...”

“Jack, I can’t be working on several things at the same time, and I’d rather try to concentrate on how to either protect us or defend us.”

Jack cast his eyes down, then looked back at Jacob

“Well our best shot is Sam and her brains, then... ”

Sam snorted at that. “Don’t expect too much from me either. I’m not a magician.”

“I am truly sorry, Jack.” Jacob said sadly.

“Yeah, me too...” Jack replied, coldly, before turning to the general. “Sir, you might want to start thinking of an evacuation plan to the Alpha site, who, how, what... and so on...”

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

6 months later, Teal’c, first Prime of Apophis, took a peculiar pleasure in firing his staff at Colonel Jack O'Neill, holding a personal grudge towards the man, whom he felt was responsible for his punishment after they had escaped from Chulak. He left the man dead in the corridor, as he passed the last blast doors preventing them from reaching the core of the SGA.

Fortunately, Earth’s finest scientists had managed to escape to the Alpha site, while Samantha and Major Kawalsky stepped through the Quantum Mirror...

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

Colonel Jack O'Neill waved one last time to the woman on the other side of the mirror just before it shut down.

He turned to General Hammond and nodded before saying:

“Mission accomplished, Sir...”

“Well done, son. Report to the infirmary with Dr. Jackson and Teal'c. That’s a nasty blow you received on your face, Dr. Jackson.”

“Yes, sir.” Jack said as his CO disappeared down the hallway.

He patted Daniel’s shoulder as he headed in the same direction.

“Well done, Danny-boy. We owe you one for finding our reality so quickly.”

“No problem, Jack... I... ahem... I think you should talk to Sam...”

“Why is that?” he asked the younger man as he saw his 2IC discreetly taking the opposite way from theirs, from the corner of his eye.

“She... errr... Well, let’s say she was a bit troubled by her double’s interactions with you... Well I mean the other... you...”

“Yeah well, so was I... But she’ll get over it, as I will.”

“Jack.” Daniel stopped to frown at his friend.

Jack stopped too and sighed.

“Okay, I’ll go talk to her... It’s not like I have much of a choice for tonight’s entertainment schedule anyway.” He quipped.

Daniel shook his head in resignation, but kept his mouth shut. As far as he was concerned, his job was done.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

Jack opened the door of the VIP suite, just like he had when Dr. Samantha Carter had been their guest: softly.

Sam was sitting on the bed, her back to him, making his memories resurface, except her BDU’s were green. He stepped closer and sat next to her in silence.

The other difference with the previous picture was that *his* Sam wasn’t crying... Oh, and there wasn’t that troubling picture of him... *her* Jack... and herself at their wedding.

They remained silent for a moment, then Sam took a deep breath.

“That was... weird...”

“Yeah.” He said simply.

“May I speak off the record, Sir?”

“We *are* off record in here... Since the Asgard treaty, the VIP rooms have no cameras, remember?”

She chuckled.

“I didn’t mean that...”

“I know what you meant, and yes.”

“Okay... Don’t you sometimes wonder?”

“About what?”

“We... I mean our... other selves were more than close in the alternate realities we encountered...”

“Yeah.”

“I was wondering... If I was working at the SGC, but not in the military...” she said, letting the question hang in mid air.

“I’d be crazy not to ask you out on a date, at least.” He said softly, a bitter smile tugging at his lips.

She was a bit surprised at his admission.

“You mean that?”

“Of course I mean that, Carter. Have you ever heard me say something I didn’t mean?”

“No... Not in my presence anyway.”

“You find it unsettling?”

“No... If anything, I find it... sweet.”

“Sweet?” he smiled cockily watching her with a twinkle in his eyes.

“At least now I know where I stand...” she said looking at her boots.

“I don’t.” he replied seriously.

She took a deep breath, still not watching him.

“I would be crazy not to accept...” she said softly.

A small silence ensued.

“You’re sure about that?” he asked.

“Positive.”

“Wow...”

“Yeah, wow...” she snorted.

“That’s... nice.”

“Was it why you kissed her?”

“Huh?”

“Samantha...”

“Well I... err... Somehow, yes... I think that might be one of the reasons, but I did it above all to give her the strength to go on... Like a parting kiss...”

“I can’t begin to imagine what she must be going through...”

“I know...”

“I can’t imagine my life without you...” then realizing what she’d just said, she blushed and resumed. “I mean I can’t imagine not seeing you everyday on missions and...” realizing she was only getting in deeper and deeper she blushed and stopped talking. “... Well, you know what I mean.”

He was visibly amused.

“I do.” He said, patting her shoulder.

Somehow, the contact switched something on inside her, because she looked at him, their eyes locking.

He reveled an instant in watching her face: the brightness of her blue jewels, the straightness of her nose, her mouth slightly opened, her hair a little disheveled... She was beautiful. Without thinking, he brought his palm to her cheek in a soft caress, causing her to lean her head into it and to close her eyes.

He bent and laid a chaste kiss on her lips.

The moment was over all too soon, as he drew back, but she understood his gesture. He had just given her a silent promise, and she was not going to jeopardize what it held for them in an uncertain future.

“You’re really all right with that?” he asked, still a little unsure. “It could take a long time.”

“More than all right.” She replied without hesitation.

“Then I’m glad.”

“Me too.” She said, giving him *that* smile again. “Maybe we should...”

“Yeah. Hammond wants to hear my version of the story at 1900, you wanna come?” he said, standing up and making an inviting gesture with his hand.

“Sure!”

She followed him outside, and their eyes met as he closed the door, sending shivers down their spines, and tugging the corners of their mouths in a soft smile.

“We’re gonna be okay, major.” He said in a soft voice.

She smiled brightly at his, that special smile that was seriously beginning to do strange things to his body, then turned on her heels, and headed for the elevators, O'Neill following.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤

The SGA had suffered much damage from the Goa’uld attack, and they had some extensive works ahead if they wanted to render it functional again, but they had faith and General Hammond didn’t need to ask for good wills. Dr. Samantha Carter-O'Neill toured her lab dejectedly, or what remained of her lab. Most of her research equipment was broken, and her latest works were shattered here and there in the room. She sighed and sat on the nearest stool that she picked up from the floor. Then the tension of the previous days and hours washed over her and she started sobbing uncontrollably.

That’s how George Hammond found her. His heart squeezed at the sight: that brilliant woman had lost everything in a snap of the fingers, and yet, she was the one who had saved their world.

He sighed, hesitating at the threshold of her lab door, then knocked softly on the frame.

She straightened her shoulders and looked at him with red rimmed eyes.

“You should go home, Samantha.” Hammond said gently, stepping forward.

“Home?” she asked between two sobs. “I don’t know where’s home anymore... Jack won’t be there, it may even be destroyed...” she sniffed noisily before reaching for a box of tissues, strangely untouched on the top of her desk.

George Hammond stepped forward again and offered her his embrace. She immediately accepted his silent invitation, and reached for him, letting her tears run freely.

Look, Sam... You’ve got to know what’s happened to your house. You cannot remain secluded deep under a mountain forever. You have friends, and we’ll all help you through your mourning. Jack was a very dear friend of mine, you know that. Despite his antics and frequent insubordination, I loved him like a son. He was a great soldier and a loyal friend, but most of all, I don’t think he would have liked you to bury yourself in your work, and never see the light of day anymore. If you want, I can drive you home and see what remains of it.

She sniffed once more, then simply nodded.

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George drove slowly through the streets on the outskirts of Colorado Springs.

The city itself bore the marks of heavy bombing, and much of the center was a pile of ashes, but the outskirts and the suburbs were relatively intact.

Samantha’s heart jumped when she caught a glimpse of their house.

It was untouched, like the others in the vicinity.

Hammond slowed down and prepared to turn up on the driveway, but Samantha stopped him.

“No, George...”

He looked at her questioningly.

“I’ll walk from here... I want to be alone.” She simply said.

“You sure you’re going to be all right?” he asked, concerned that she might do something rash.

“Yes. Don’t worry, I don’t have any suicidal impulses. I’ll be fine. I just want to collect my thoughts and be alone. I’ll call you tomorrow morning so you can pick me up on your way to Cheyenne Mountain.”

“All right.” He said, accepting her need for solitude. “If you need anything...”

“I’ll call you, I promise. Now go check on your own house and relatives, George. Thank you for the lift.” She said, smiling sadly before exiting the vehicle.

She watched as the car departed and disappeared around the corner, then looked at the pathway leading up to their entrance door, and the large windows of their dining room.

Her heart skipped a bit.

Suddenly, the flicker of a soft light appeared behind the glass. She frowned, trying to understand. Maybe they had left a small light on when they had left in a hurry. This was ridiculous, the electric power was out!

She felt her heart beat more rapidly, wondering if it was wise to go inside: maybe it was a burglar thinking the house was abandoned, like so many they had seen while they had driven through the city. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed a stone from one of their flowerbeds, and went to open the door.

Closing it behind her, she stepped cautiously inside the entrance hall and headed to their dining room.

A man was lighting the half used candles on the table, his back facing her.

Her heart skipped a bit, and her hands rose to her mouth, dropping the stone, and she stifled a gasp.

The man straightened when he heard her, and slowly turned.

Samantha thought she had gone insane.

Jack O'Neill, dressed in combat BDU’s, was standing before her, smiling cockily.

“Ja... Jack?” she managed to gasp.

His smiled broadened.

“What are you doing here? I thought...” she swallowed. “I thought you were going to destroy the mirror!”

Jack raised his eyebrows, visibly confused, before frowning, shaking his head.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, stepping towards her.

Utterly upset, Samantha took a step backward.

“Who are you?”

He closed his eyes briefly, inhaling sharply, then bowed his head in acknowledgment, before sighing.

“I take it our new Asgard friends didn’t let you in on their little surprise?” he muttered, putting his hands on his hips.

He looked at her. Her eyes were wide open as she was desperately trying to understand.

“Look... I know I was *dead* but... Well, I don’t know how they managed to retrieve my body from the battlefield, but they did... As it turns out, I was still alive, barely but still, even after three days. The wound had weakened me immensely and I don’t think I could have waited another day, maybe less, and I was in a rather deep coma due to the loss of blood... I guess my skin is tougher than I thought” he quipped. “The Asgard put me in some kind of *bacta tank* and healed me. They said I was important to them because of something in my DNA, and here I am. Me... Jack... *your* Jack.”

He stopped talking and looked at her expectantly.

She exhaled cautiously.

“Who is my father?” she asked, looking straight into his eyes.

“Huh?”

“Who is my father?”

“Jacob Carter, ex General in the United States Air force.”

“No, *who* is my father.”

“He’s a Tok’ra... ‘carries a nice snake inside of him, and before you ask, it was to prevent him from dying from cancer, which he announced to you at our wedding party. Is that enough?”

Samantha still needed convincing.

“Where’s my mole?”

His eyebrows skyrocketed, as well as his eyes went wide.

“God, Sam! This is ridiculous!”

“Where’s my mole, Jack?” she asked again, stepping forward.

Jack sighed, waving his hands in dismissal.

“It’s on the inside of your right groin, up front... there... Happy?”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she closed the last steps between them. She stood in front of him, her lips trembling, her blue eyes getting redder by the second.

“It’s you? It’s really you?”

He smiled and opened his arms for her to step forward, which she did in slow motion. Once she was securely settled within his embrace, he rested his head on top of her head as she let her tears flow freely.

“Yeah, baby... It’s me...” he cooed, caressing her hair gently.

They remained hugging until her sobs subsided, then she raised her head and her eyes met his. He drowned himself once more in her blue orbs, gently stroking her cheek, and softly laid a deep loving kiss on her lips.

It felt good to be home, so good... Yes, they had a world to reconstruct, but with Sam by his side, he knew he could overcome almost everything life threw at them.

Hell he had even overcome death!

THE END

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