STEADY BALANCE

 

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

A/N: Sometimes, some plots just need closure…
A/N 2: I started writing this way before Saramund’s very nice fic: I am. All similarities to that story are purely coincidental.
A/N 3: Okay, sappy it is... blame it on my muse (it was *that* time of the month for her...), and besides I’m trying different things at the moment!

Copyright © Anakin David 2004

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“... Brigadier General O’Neill, Lieutenant Colonel Carter, you both deserve the praise and recognition the Nation has just bestowed upon you.” Major General George Hammond said, thus concluding the promotion ceremony. “I will now detail your new respective assignments. General O'Neill, in regards to your many sacrifices, and aware of your wish to retire soon due to your many years of service ‘under the fire’, the Joint Chiefs and the President of the United States thought you might take pleasure in training and commanding the brand new Space Force the Nations of Earth have decided to create, using the X-302 and upcoming fighters.”

He paused, gauging O'Neill’s reaction, but if the latter was happy or disappointed, nothing showed on his face or in his attitude.

Hammond cleared his throat before resuming.

“... You will therefore be the human link between the now public Stargate program and the military. The home base that has been decided for these squadrons is Schriever Air Force Base. You will train and manage several international teams of pilots, and I insist on the International side of it. You will also be given all latitude to find a capable Second In command, and future replacement, since you’ve made it quite clear that your retirement should occur rather soon. I must add that Major Davis, whom you already know, will assist you in the early stages of your mission there.”

Once again, he paused, and turned towards Colonel Carter.

“Lieutenant Colonel Carter, as a Major, you took commandment of SG-1 in such a most remarkable way, not even the newest member of the team, Captain Cobburn, has complained about. You will then continue as the commanding officer of the unit, as well as being the Chief Scientific Officer. Now on a more personal note, I sincerely hope the two of you will be as happy with your new assignments as you were with the previous ones.” He concluded, smiling broadly.

Jack O'Neill stood motionless for a short while, then stepped forward, saluting his superior officer, before turning towards Sam Carter, apparently still under the shock of the recent declarations from the general.

“With all due respect Sir, I guess I’ll be happier...” was all the excuse Jack O'Neill could muster before gently framing Sam’s face with his hands, kissing her in front of the whole assembly of officers and SF’s gathered in the gate room of the SGC for the occasion. A kiss she returned immediately, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly... And there stood two of the finest officers of the SGC, in full dress uniform, kissing like their very life depended on it, totally oblivious to the world.

General George Hammond smiled, looking alternatively to Teal'c and Daniel Jackson. The latter looked a bit embarrassed at such a display, seeming nonetheless pleased with the final outcome, and Teal'c’s face bore a discreet smile which was enough of an indication that he was also pleased.

When the kiss ended, Sam looked Jack in the eyes.

“Take me fishing, Jack...” she murmured huskily.

He smiled broadly and hugged her, rocking her a little bit, as the shocked assembly finally cheered. Jack felt a large hand patting his shoulder and turned towards its owner, still smiling.

“I take it you like the new arrangements, Jack...” General Hammond asked with a twinkle in the eyes. “I forgot to mention that you both have two weeks downtime...”

“Thank you, Sir. We’ll make good use of it...” he said, as he grabbed Sam’s hand and started walking down the ramp.

He barely gave a glance to his two other friends before disappearing from the gate room, heading straight to the elevator, and not even bothering stopping by the locker room to change. They reached the first elevator and stepped inside. Once the doors were closed, Jack encircled Sam’s waist caressed her cheek with the back of his free hand, and bent to give her a kiss, which she retaliated eagerly.
The doors opened much too soon, but as they stepped into the second elevator, they resumed their gentle exploration of each other’s mouths. They eventually reached the surface and headed for their respective cars, holding hands in silent agreement.

They reached her car. Jack faced her and gave her a quick kiss.

“I’ll pick you up in 30. We’ll go to the airport and take the next flight to Minnesota... I don’t want to drive all the way up, and the plane is definitely faster.” He said a bit apologetically.

Sam smiled.

“I’ll be expecting you, Jack... Don’t be late!”

He smiled and gave her a tender kiss on the lips.

“Yasureyabetcha!” he murmured softly in her ear, making her shiver.

“If you go on doing stuff like that to me, General, I’m going to rip your dress uniform and have my way with you right now and here!” she replied with a sexy wink, causing him to chuckle.

She looked at him, caressing his face gently.

“I like it when you smile like that, Jack... Before you...” Her voice caught in her throat as she remembered the moment she thought she would never see him alive again. “I haven’t seen you smile like that for far too long...”

“That’s because aside of my job, I had nothing to smile about. Now I do...”

She beamed and kissed him.

“Come on, Sam... At this rate we’ll never get to my cabin...”

“... Oh, and I so want to go fishing with you!”

“30 minutes?”

“30 minutes!”

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30 minutes later, his truck pulled up in front of her fence. He honked twice. She exited her house and hopped inside, smiling.

“I hope this fishing trip won’t require too many clothes, I packed light.” She said, waggling her eyebrows.

“Oh, clothes are so not an issue for that trip...” He answered with a waggle of his own.

She chuckled as he started the engine.

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The next morning, a rental 4x4 came to a stop in front of Jack’s cabin. Jack exited, taking both their carry-on’s, and swiftly climbed the few stairs up to the deck, before going to open the door, beckoning Sam inside.

She stepped into the main room, and looked around, taking in the simple but cozy atmosphere. Framed photographs were hung on the bare wooden walls, black and white for the most, but there were also several of -- whom she assumed was -- Charlie in color.

She was so absorbed in her observation, that she hadn’t noticed Jack closing the door. She jumped when she felt his arms encircle her waist and his warm breath on her neck as he started nuzzling it. She turned in his arms and threw her arms around his neck. His lips moved to her jaw, then her mouth. The kiss deepened and he started to slip his hands underneath her jacket, making it fall in a pool on the floor. Taking his hint, she did the same to his leather jacket, and started unbuttoning his shirt, pulling it out of his trousers at the same time. Slowly, as they continued disrobing each other, he pulled her through the corridor to the master bedroom.

When they finally reached it, they were clad in their jeans and underwear.

He took a step backward and looked at her scarcely dressed figure, his eyes full of desire. She looked absolutely beautiful, her blonde hair tousled, her eyes deep blue as her dilated pupils betrayed her passion, her mouth full from their earlier kisses, and her chest heaving with her ragged breathing. Jack smiled.

“Has anybody ever told you how beautiful you are, Sam?” he said, stepping forward, his hands reaching for the waistband of her jeans.

“You just did...” she replied, mimicking his actions and making both his jeans and underwear fall down to his ankles.

He stepped out of them and quickly rid her from her last items of clothing. Not wasting another second, he gently pushed her to lie on the bed, and lay next to her, taking possession of her mouth.

His hands started a gentle and careful exploration of her body, and her reactions to his ministrations, reveling in the perfect swell of her breast, loving the goose-pimples his fingers caused alongside her rib cage, and the deep expanse of her chest as she took irregular breaths.

His mouth left hers then, and started an exploration of its own.

Sam’s sighs and moans were his guide. He had repeated this scene in his mind over and over, during lonely nights when all he could think of to appease his mind, was her, and how he would worship her if she ever were to end up in his arms and bed. But reality was far better than any fantasy he could have had, because now she was actually there, in his arms willingly, and it was all right to have her in his arms.

He wanted to take things slowly, and kept to his promise, softly kneading the tender flesh of her breast while his lips fastened onto its counterpart. Sam squirmed beneath him, causing a sensual tremor in himself. He switched his attentions, and resumed his sweet torture on her senses.

Then his hand drifted lower, tracing idle circles on her belly, loving the firm texture of her abdominal muscles and lower abdomen, before hovering above the golden patch at the apex of her thighs, teasing her.

She thought she was going to die when his fingers reached even lower, stroking the inside of her thigh without touching her where she so wanted him to.

He felt her impatience and smiled. His body followed his hand, and before she had a chance to fully comprehend the situation, his breath was teasing her, closely followed by his tongue as he finally dipped his head to explore her most intimate secrets, his fingers not remaining idle either.

She was overwhelmed so quickly, she suddenly tensed, gasping his name when she felt the powerful wave crash within her, pulling her not down, but to planes she hadn’t known existed until she experienced what this man was capable of, and clutching at the sheets, as he didn’t stop his sensuous assault on her senses.

As she slowly came back to Earth, she felt his lips on her neck, and she realized his fingers hadn’t stopped their delicious work, and were slowly but steadily bringing her back to her previous state of excitement.

She turned her head and brought her lips to his, kissing him with all the fervor she could muster, which had the desired effect, since his hand stopped what it was doing as he was totally disoriented by the force of her kiss. In a swift movement, she pushed him to lie on his back and started delicious torments of her own on his body.

She started with his chest, playing with the few hairs he had there, teasing him just like he had a few minutes ago.

He sighed deeply: years of bottled up feelings and need were finally being let out in the open, and he wanted to imprint those moments forever in his mind. He finally had Sam Carter in his arms, his beautiful, smart, and passionate Sam Carter. He couldn’t even begin to express exactly how deep he felt for her, and what was even greater was that she actually returned his feelings.

Oh sure, they had had their few quirks and bumps on their shared road, Laira for him, and several flings for her, including the latest and most serious, Pete... But somehow they hung to each other, and never totally let go of the prospect of what they might be able to share out in the open one day, and what had taken root so deeply at the bottom of their hearts had always been present, no matter what.

Having sex with her was only the next step in their long and complicated relationship, and he didn’t want it to be raw and crude. They were not *having sex*, they were making love, the most beautiful thing that could happen between two people. He was an item of these “two people”, and Sam Carter was the second... Sam Carter... Sam, brilliant-minded, kind-hearted, blue-eyed, long-legged, shapely-breasted, slender-figured Carter...

Engrossed in his sweet musings, he hadn’t realized Sam had reached *that* most sensitive area, and that her wonderful mouth was doing things to it that should be forbidden to do to a man who had observed a strict abstinence for 5 years.
He closed his eyes in concentration, not wanting things to go off hand -- so to speak -- so easily, and gently grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to stop what she was doing, and look him in the eyes.

“Sam, baby... Stop torturing an old man or this will be over way before I can satisfy you like I want to, for this very special time...” he murmured huskily.

“You already have, Jack.” She replied with a dreamy look before kissing him.

He gave her a cocky smile.

“Oh believe me, baby... You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” he waggled his eyebrows.

She chuckled heartily.

“Hmmm, you’re pretty confident!... Be my guest, general!”

He smiled broadly before reversing their roles and resuming his previous ministrations. He eventually positioned himself above her, and took possession of her body and soul, very gently. He felt her tense, despite his cautious movements and was afraid one minute he might have hurt her, but his fears were short lived as he saw the look of utter satisfaction on her face, and he resumed his slow progression in her sweet recesses.

She arched her neck, closing her eyes when he finally stopped and started rocking against her, sheathing and unsheathing softly, as if she were a porcelain doll.

The display of her face and body language was enough for him to resolve on making her experience the best he could give her, and he firmly tried to still his building excitation. If it had been possible for him to go slower, then he would have, but then that would have meant some parts of his body would have ceased to be cooperative at some point, and he definitely didn’t want that. To try and stimulate her sensations, he increased the depth of his sweet invasion instead of his pace, and it seemed to have the desired effect, since she bit her lips moaning his name softly.

Then all of a sudden, she opened her eyes and looked at him mischievously.

Understanding dawned upon him almost immediately as he felt her contract around him.

She was willingly contracting her muscles, which threatened to set him out of control for good.

He closed his eyes, fighting the reaction his too compliant body was entirely willing to give, and gasped.

“Sam!... Oh, God!”

She smiled crookedly.

“A little less sure of yourself, general?... Where’s that Special Ops training of yours?”

“Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, you’re Evil! You know that?!” he said as he resumed his movements more powerfully, cutting short any reply from her, and soon, he was rewarded by her arching her back and moaning his name repeatedly.

She could have felt limp when the powerful tide retreated, but instead, she felt a new energy course her veins. She stilled him and swiftly reversed their positions, taking the lead.

“My turn!” she shushed him huskily as he was about to protest.

All restraint threatened to come loose, but once again, he managed to keep it under control. He was amazed by his own response, considering all the time he had lived that darn celibate life, and the level of need he had for the woman now rocking expertly against him. He wondered if he had managed to give her that unique experience he had dreamt to give her, and if his rivals had seen what he had seen and felt what he had felt in her... All of a sudden, his blood was rushed into one single area of his body, and he couldn’t think coherent thoughts for a moment as the surge of his orgasm swept through him and left *him* numb and utterly satiated.

She smiled, satisfied with herself, and slid next to him, resting her head on his rising and falling chest.

“Sam, you’re incredible!” he groaned, incapable of saying more than these few words.

“What should *I* say, Jack! That was the most extraordinary lovemaking I ever experienced!”

He smiled cockily.

“I take it you’re happy, then?” a flash of the old insecurity re-surfacing.

“Happy?... Boy, Jack, I was beginning to think sex for women meant mechanical pleasure and self-servicing men! You just erased that notion from my mind completely! I just re-discovered what making love really is, believe it or not!” she laughed heartily, hugging him.

He was humbled by her confession.

“I’m glad I did this to you, Sam... You were pretty amazing too, you know...”

She snuggled even closer.

“I love you, Jack...”

His heart jumped at her confession and he tightened his embrace around her shoulders.

“Oh baby! I love you too!” he mumbled, kissing the top of her head.

She raised just enough to reach his mouth and they shared a deep kiss, before slowly letting a much welcome sleep overtake their exhausted bodies.


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Jack felt her soft lips on his.

He stirred, knowing he only had a few seconds before she left the bed, and threw his arms around her shoulders, trapping her in his embrace.

“’time is it?” he mumbled.

“05:30.”

“God it’s early!... Stay a little longer?” he moaned.

She sighed.

“Jack, I’ve got a briefing with the SG team leaders at 09:00 and before hand I have to meet with Daniel, Teal’c, and Cobburn to discuss our next mission!”

“You can stay for another 15 minutes, T’ and Dannyboy will understand...”

She chuckled.

“Jack, you’re impossible! On the contrary to a certain general O'Neill I know...”

“Retired!” he interrupted groaning.

“My point, exactly!... *I* am *still* in active service, *still* have missions to go on, and *still* have a CO to report to!” she said playfully, poking his ribs to make him loosen his embrace.

He let go of her and sighed.

“All right, *Colonel* Carter. I’ll go and prepare breakfast while you hit the shower...”

She gave him a quick peck on the lips as she grabbed her robe and went to the bathroom.

Jack rubbed his face with his palms, threw the bed linens aside, and got up, heading to the kitchen.

They had breakfast together, listening to the radio, and having small talk. Jack watched Sam with a twinkle in his eyes.

“What?” she asked after a moment.

“Nothing.” He replied smiling.

“Jack O'Neill, I’ve never seen you watch something with that look on your face if it meant nothing... Last time you did it, you had just kissed me in a time loop!” she said playfully, raising her eyebrows.

He sighed, breaking eye contact.

“The way you take your breakfast...”

“So?”

“Just this: the way you take your breakfast. First you pour coffee into your mug, add precisely two drops of sugar, then you add milk... Then you take two toasts, put butter on ‘em both, and slice them in the diagonal... Every morning the same ritual.”

She looked at him amused.

“You’re writing an essay on breakfast habits?” she joked.

“No.” he said, leaning his head into his hand smiling tenderly, drowning in her eyes. “I’m just happy to be the lucky bastard sharing breakfast with you every morning.”

She beamed broadly.

“Who knew Jack O'Neill could be so romantic?”

“I love you, Sam.”

She took his free hand, and squeezed it.

“I love you, Jack.”

He grinned, bent over the small table and kissed her.

“I gotta go now.” She said softly as his lips left hers.

“No mission today? I should expect to see you home for dinner?”

“Unless there’s some major emergency... When’s your next consulting visit anyway?”

“Oh you know, they always call me last minute, or when a certain Colonel Carter doesn’t report on schedule...” he winked, tugging at her sleeve.

She swatted his hand gently, then hopped down her stool.

“See you in the evening, then... If you go to the drugstore, there’s a list of things that are close to missing on the fridge...” she said, halfway to the door.

“Okay...”

“Oh, and Mrs. Johnson asked me if you could go check her plumbing, she said she heard weird noises.” She continued, putting her boots on.

“Oh for crying out loud! How many times will I have to tell her I am NOT a plumber!”

“Well, I wasn’t the one bragging about how I redesigned the entire plumbing of my cabin in Minnesota!” she said laughing, grabbing her BDU jacket.

“Me and my big mouth...” he grumbled. “You know that’s your fault, Carter! Before you I was perfectly happy with Mrs. Johnson NOT talking to me! And then you came along and started playing the nice neighbor with her and suddenly my retirement didn’t seem so appealing anymore!” he cried as she reached for her keys.

“Oooo I’m ashamed to be the one responsible for that! Maybe you would prefer her to warm up your bed?!” she said, opening the entrance door on her way out.

His only response was to send a bagel her way, which ended on the door as she closed it hurriedly in a fit of laughter catching a glimpse of his offended look.

“This will not go unpunished, Carter!” he shouted playfully from the deck as her car passed it.

She smiled broadly, waving evasively, and then she was gone.

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Jack was mowing the lawn when he noticed her car going up the driveway. Surprised he checked his watch and stopped what he was doing to go greet her.

“You’re home early!” he said before kissing her lightly.

“Surprise, surprise!... I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t decided to try my suggestion about Mrs. Johnson...” she replied with a wink.

“Well, you missed her by five minutes!” he played along.

She poked his ribs, causing him to chuckle and tighten his embrace. He kissed her forehead before resuming sexily.

“The only woman I want warming up my bed has gold instead of hair, sapphire instead of eyes, and brains that outclass more brains than I can imagine, along with the sexiest body I’ve ever seen!” He muttered against her lips, tightening his embrace, before giving her a deep loving kiss. “You haven’t replied to my question...” he said as his lips left hers.

“What question?”

“Why are you home so early?”

“I don’t remember you asking that question!” she said with her tongue in the cheek, her eyes twinkling.

“For crying out loud, Carter!”

She chuckled, bumping her forehead against his chest before letting go of him.

“The briefing was shorter than scheduled, and I really didn’t want to hang out in my lab forever afterwards. So I did a little paperwork and decided to head home.”

“Mmmm, good thinking!” he said smiling, before kissing her once more. “You know I was not joking when I said you missed Mrs. Johnson by five. She came to bring me one of her sinful apple pies.”

“... In exchange for fixing her plumbing?”

“Nope... ‘gave her a good plumber’s number for that...”

“What then?”

“... Bodily exercise...” he said cocking his eyebrows suggestively with a twinkle in the eyes.

She swatted his forearms.

“She asked me to trim her hedge, and I also took out an old stump from the back of her garden.” He said.

“Turning into a gardener, are you?”

“Yeah. See what all those years of military training have done to me! Look, it’s a beautiful afternoon, why don’t you go to the deck, sit back and relax, while I warm up the pie, and then I’ll bring a piece to you.”

“Mmmm, that would be nice, thanks.” She said leaning her cheek against his chest, closing her eyes in contentment.

They remained tenderly hugging a short moment, then Jack went back inside the house while she went to sit on the wooden chairs of the deck, leaning back and closing her eyes blissfully.

A familiar step on the wooden deck made her smile. She started speaking, her eyes still closed, until she felt his shadow dimming the light in front of her.

“Already? That was fa...” her voice caught in her throat as she finally opened her eyes. “... Jack?!” she stood up sharply, almost sending her chair tumbling back behind her.


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“Hello, Sam...”

Before Sam’s bewildered eyes, stood a very young Jack O'Neill, smiling.

From the French doors leading to the deck, Jack arrived with a tray carrying two plates and two steaming mugs. He hadn’t expected a visitor, much less the young man who turned toward him grinning as he heard someone approaching from behind.

Speechless for one moment, he quickly recovered, putting the tray on the wooden table.

“Jack?”

“Actually, it’s John... An acceptable alternative to Jonathon, since ‘Jack’ was already taken.” He said grinning.

Sam sat back on her chair, still trying to get over her shock.

“Take a seat then... John... I’ll go fetch another piece of pie... Coffee?” Jack said, as casually as he could muster.

“Yeah, please.”

“Milk?”

“Black, two sugars...”

“Of course...” Jack smirked, disappearing inside.

John took a chair opposite Sam.

“That’s a surprise...” she said in an awkward tone.

“I was in the vicinity. Important stuff is happening in my life at the moment, and I thought maybe it was time to catch up a little bit.” He paused then smiled warmly at her. “You look great, Sam...”

“Thank you... I guess...” she said, a bit embarrassed at the young man’s compliment. “You’re not bad yourself either.” She managed to say playfully.

Jack came back with a plate and a third mug, and sat down next to Sam.

“So... John... This is rather unexpected...”

“As I explained to Sam before you arrived, I was in the area and I wanted to give you an update on what’s going on with my life... important things as it occurs...”

“That’s... Sorry if this is awkward, but...” Jack started frowning.

“I know...” he interrupted “... I hesitated a long time before coming to see you, but... an old common friend told me you’d like to know from me rather than from the rumor mill...”

“An old common friend?”

“George... He asked me to tell you he’s fine, by the way.”

“Nice to hear that, thanks.”

“Anyway, I am not a man of speech, as you know, so let’s cut to the chase. I’m getting married next month, and I’d like you to attend. Both of you.”

Jack and Sam looked at one another, then back at their visitor, before smiling at the same time.

“You’re getting married, wow!”

John chuckled at their bewildered faces.

“Yeah, I’m full of surprises, thank you.” He snorted. “Jack, Sam... I may look, talk, walk, and do almost everything like Jack, I’m a different person now. I’ve been given a second chance and I’ve tried not to spoil it. Sure I was bitter and mad at first, because I felt I had been robbed of my life, but once you get to analyze the situation in a whole, there are more upsides than downsides. Like I told you 10 years ago, our paths separated the day you dropped me in front of that high school.

There was an awkward silence that Sam ended, beaming.

“I’m truly happy for you, John. Jack, what do you say we all catch up over Chinese take-outs tonight?... Still your favorites, right?” she asked John.

He nodded.

“Then I’ll leave you two together while I order and take a shower...” she said as she hopped down from her chair and headed inside.

“Sure, why not?... It’ll give me an interesting insight at how my life could have been...” Jack muttered.

John snorted.

“In case you don’t remember, we have almost fifty years in common, Jack! I’m sure it was far easier for you to live from then on, than from me!” John replied a bit angrily.

Jack sighed apologetically.

“Yeah, sorry... I know it must have been hard.”

“Believe me, seeing your life time expanded for more than half a century is not as glamorous as it might appear! It’s just like I’ve had to start again from scratch, except I had all the knowledge of a fifty year old without my friends and my job, so keeping up appearances was the toughest thing I’ve done in my life!’

“I know. I was being selfish.” Jack amended.

John calmed a little.

“Yeah... Well, let’s not dwell on the past, shall we?... Look, Jack... I know what you feel, but I always thought that there was a reason why you asked Thor to mend -- for lack of a better word -- my DNA, and ... Well, I just wanted to let you know that you did well... Take that as my way to thank you.”

Jack sighed.

“You don’t have to thank me, and you’re right. I’m the lucky one...”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Jack. As I told you, it took me some time to come around, but with a little help from the Air Force and a kick or two in the butt from common friends, I finally realized that it was a chance for me and I looked on the bright side of it... I don’t mean to take an important part in your life, Jack. I just wanted you to know of my whereabouts, that’s all.”

Jack smiled sympathetically.

“That’s nice of you, John... Now tell me about this bride of yours...”

John’s face brightened.

“Lucy?... Well, I would love to tell you about her right now, but first, let me give you the invitation... You can R.S.V.P. now!” he winked.

Jack chuckled, taking the envelope from the young man’s hands, but did not open it.

“When are you getting married, and where?”

“July 17th, here in the Springs. As a coincidence, Lucy’s from the Springs, as is my next assignment...”

Jack looked straight into his eyes, frowning.

“Assignment?”

“Come on, Jack... You didn’t think the Air Force would let me slip through their hands like that, did you?”

Jack raised an eyebrow, looking dumbfounded.

“No, of course not but...”

“Look, I’m dying to tell you all the details, but I think it’s best Sam’s here too, so why don’t we wait until she comes back?”

“OK, but you piqued my curiosity there... It’s strange that you’d be assigned here... On the other hand, not that much I presume. Is it Stargate related?”

“Somehow, yes...”

“You’re assigned to the mountain, then...”

John smiled broadly.

“Nope! Be patient, Jack... I’ll tell you!”

“Okay...” he sighed, knowing full well the young version of himself would keep his word. “... Why don’t you try that pie, Mrs. Johnson made it...”

“You socialize with Mrs. Johnson now?” John asked, obviously amused.

Jack gave an aggravated sigh.

“It’s all Sam’s fault! Before she came to live here, I was a happy man passing for an old solitary bear to my neighbors! One day she met the woman, she was having problems with a set of shelves. Sam told her she would ask me to come and fix it and... Well now let’s say that I’m Mrs. Johnson handyman...” he finished sulkily as John couldn’t contain his laughter any longer.

“It’s not funny...” Jack scowled.

“Maybe not to you, but you have to give the woman credit! Her pies are excellent!”

“Yeah, that’s why I put up with her actually!” Jack smiled crookedly.

“I bet it has something to do with a hot blonde too!”

Jack straightened up frowning.

Realizing how it sounded, John shook his head.

“Relax Jack... I’m marrying Lucy, remember? I’m not here to steal Sam... Okay, I admit I was jealous for a long while when I learnt about you and Sam but... These feelings are buried deeply and I’m marrying Lucy, you don’t have to worry... Besides, I don’t think Sam would go for a 25 year old!” he added playfully. “She obviously prefers mature men...”

“A 25 year old with the experience of a 60 year old, John... Who knows? She might want to play a remake of ‘Harold and Maud’...”

John chuckled.

“Don’t be ridiculous... and, hey, I wouldn’t do that to you! I mean you know me, right?”

“Yeah, well... let’s drop the subject okay?”

“Just one last question, Jack...”

“What?”

“Are you happy?”

Jack’s features relaxed and he beamed dreamily.

“Oh yeah! Sam’s everything I’d ever dream she would be, and even more!” he started enthusiastically, then upon seeing the shadow briefly darkening John’s eyes, he subdued his mood, and coughed lightly. “Yeah, I’m very happy. Thanks for asking.”

John took a bite of pie and a gulp of coffee in silence.

“She’s as beautiful as I remembered her.” He started softly. “Her eyes... You know, age suits her well...”

“Yeah.” Jack replied, a dreamy look on his face.

They remained silent, enjoying the warm atmosphere of the ending afternoon, until Sam sauntered down the steps to the deck and took her seat next to Jack, resuming her previous position.

“So, guys... No black eye, no bruise... I can see you behaved!” she started jokingly.

“Only for your sake, Sam!” Jack replied playfully, then turned to John. “Now you know I’ve never been a patient man...”

John chuckled.

“Yeah... Something else I had to learn again: be patient!” he muttered. “Okay, I’m gonna put you out of your misery... I’m Lieutenant Colonel John O'Neill, and I am to be second in command on the Prometheus 2...” he said with pride in his voice, waiting a moment for the information to sink in.

Always practical, Jack frowned.

“And you’re to be stationed in the Springs?”

“Well, yeah... As 2IC, I am responsible for commanding the fleet of gliders so I spend half my time in Schriever, half my time in Arizona... Well officially at least, since I guess I’ll be out there” he made an evasive gesture towards the sky “... most of the time...”

“You’re commanding the fleet?! Have they gone insane?!” Jack exclaimed, standing up.

John chuckled even more.

“Not *your* fleet, Jack! Only the one on the Prometheus.”

“Geez!”

“I guess that about summarizes the reaction I got the first time they saw my name...” John resumed. “You’ve left your mark there Jack, and when they saw me... Well suffice to say that it was fortunate I had a moustache at that time... Now some people tell me the resemblance to my *uncle* is far from being striking! But then again, it all lies in the conviction you put in telling them...”

“Uncle?... Is that what they said I am?”

“Well, Jack... what did you want them to say?... I mean it’s a fact, we DO look alike...” he said, a note of amusement in his voice.

“You’re already Lieutenant Colonel?” Sam chimed in.

“Oh, that too!” Jack exclaimed, causing another chuckle from John.

“Yeah... Well my Masters degree in Air tactics and strategy may have impressed a few, along with my other Masters in Fluid mechanics... Plus my impressive military record, in spite of my young age... Add a few encouragements from people high placed in the Air Force... They shortened my way to promotion. I guess they were afraid a frustrated ex-colonel might become increasingly dangerous if he had to go through the entire promotion road till full bird Colonel again...” he said with a self-satisfied grin.

“Masters in Air tactics and strategy *and* Fluid mechanics?!” Jack asked frowning.

“Well Jack, you’re far smarter than you let out...” John teased. “I already *had* my Masters in Air tactics and strategy... well *you* have... they kept that because what you wrote is still up to date, Jack... I wanted to educate myself in something that was not only military, and fluid mechanics seemed an interesting topic according to the career moves I was about to make.”

“Ya think?” the older man replied in a surly tone as he spotted Sam barely containing her laughter from the corner of his eye. “You’re a scientist now, for crying out loud!”

John sighed.

“Yeah well... I told you I would pursue high school and you know how stubborn I can be...”

“Well, I am certainly impressed!” Sam said smiling.

“You make me look like my IQ is no higher than GI Joe’s!” Jack moaned.

“Oh, come on! What were you trying to achieve all those years on SG-1! Besides, I’m sure Sam’s found other aspects of your personality that she likes, don’t worry!” John said, patting his thigh grinning.

Sam nudged his shoulder affectionately before giving him a peck on the lips.

“Okay, changing the subject... How did you meet that Lucy-girl?”

“Lucy? Pretty name!” Sam commented.

“While I was studying at the Academy, I once had to accompany one of my professors to a seminar about molecular and cellular experiments in space, although I have no special interest in the subject. There was that girl completing her PhD in molecular biology who did an interesting lecture about a paper she had written. I went to ask her a few questions afterwards. We shared drinks, she was impressed by my dress uniform...” he cocked his eyebrows suggestively, causing Sam to look affectionately at Jack.

“The O'Neill charm...” she agreed.

“... We had a nice evening, talked about other subjects and ... we got along pretty well. We promised to see each other again and... Well... we started dating. She’s a little older than I am actually, but then again, I don’t look like my real age. She’s brilliant, funny, caring, and when I learnt that she was to be attached to a top secret research project in Cheyenne Mountain, I requested my transfer... and here we are...”

“So I take it she’s to work at the SGC?” Sam asked.

“She’s your new civilian expert in molecular biology, yes... Lucy Simpson...”

“Simpson? Lucy *Simpson*?! Now this is a joke, right?!” Jack said burying his face in his hands.

“I had the same reaction when I learnt her full name, Jack... But I have the firm intention of making it Lucy O'Neill!” he laughed.

“My, that is gonna need time to get accustomed to!” Sam exclaimed. “I’ll have an O'Neill *under* my command!” she joked.

“Oh for crying out loud!” Jack exclaimed, standing up and shaking his head. “Do you all want my death today?! A hand device would have done less damage to my brain!”

“She’s looking forward to working with you, Sam. Although you obviously don’t share the same fields of interest, she’s heard a lot about your work and achievements.”

“Why don’t you bring her over for a drink tomorrow?” Sam innocently asked, earning a dark glare from Jack.

“Well thanks but I can’t... I have to be on base tomorrow and I’m afraid I won’t have any down time until my wedding.”

At that moment, the door bell rang. Jack was on his feet before Sam.

“Jesus! Saved by the bell! *Thanks!*” he said, clenching his fists and looking skywards. “I’ll get it, ‘must be the delivery boy...”

Sam and John remained silent for a while, then John leant back on his chair.

“So?... When are you and Jack going to take the plunge?”

“What plunge?” Sam asked.

“Tie the knot?”

“Oh we... We never discussed it... We’re okay with what we have...”

“Jack told me he’s happy...”

“I am too... Our relationship is based on extreme complicity and trust... I guess that’s the cement of it. We’ve known each other for a very long time, we’ve seen our best and worse moments, actually, it’s like we’ve been married for almost 18 years!”

John chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Jack asked as he was returning from the house.

Sam turned towards him beaming.

“I was just telling John that all in all, it was like we’ve been married for 18 years!”

“Except we didn’t consummate it for the first 8 years.” He snorted.

“That proves how much of a gentleman you can be...” Sam replied matter of factly.

“That proves how faithful I am to Air Force regulations! If it were not for that, you’d had ended up in my bed much sooner, Missy!” he said playfully, encircling her shoulders in a possessive manner.

John smiled at the picture.

“You look good together...”

Sam stepped away from Jack, a bit awkwardly, sensing the younger man’s discomfort.

Jack raised an eyebrow, but patted John’s shoulder.

“I know what you had to go through, but... Like you said, it’s a second chance. Don’t screw it, John, or I swear I’ll personally come and kick your butt from here to Chulak!” he said, seriously.

John was about to reply with a jibe, but thought better of it when he caught a furtive glimpse of Jack’s look. Yes, he too had lost a son, but his young age allowed him things that were now difficult for Jack to obtain, if he knew the man well, and of that, he was sure.

“Yeah, Jack... I promise I won’t...”

Jack smiled, his arm once again reaching for Sam’s shoulders.

“Hey guys, why don’t we continue this over dinner?” Sam said.

:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:¤:

About an hour and a half later, they were amiably chatting over coffee. John decided to breach the subject that had kept bugging him since Jack had threatened to kick his butt.

“Jack, why didn’t you and Sam ever have children? I’m sorry to bring that up, but knowing you, I guess at least at some point it was one of your priorities if you found the right woman...”

Jack and Sam looked at one another, silently communicating, then Jack sighed and looked at John.

“When Sam... When we started living together, Sam was in charge of SG1 and I had to travel quite a lot at first. We talked about it, maybe if we’d been 5 years younger then, we’d have given it a try but... I didn’t want Sam to jeopardize her career by being forced to step down because of a child, and... well... It was also shortly after Janet’s death, and Cassie found in our coming together some sort of ideal image that helped her go through her ordeal. It was like we were her foster parents, like we actually have a kid...” Jack concluded softly.

“Yeah, ‘tastes like the real thing but it’s not the real thing...” John commented more to himself than for the couple to hear.

“I had the real thing once, John...”

“Me too, Jack.” He interrupted. “But what about Sam?” he said defensively.

“She had a career!” Jack said, rising his tone dangerously.

“Oh, don’t bullshit me with her *career*, Jack! She...”

“Hey!” Sam interrupted standing up. “Don’t you guys think it might be *my* problem?!” she said on the verge of anger. Then she sat back down. “Look, I appreciate that you both defend me, but I can take care of myself, thanks. John, Jack has always been very understanding and supportive of my decisions, even when they hurt him, and I know some of them did... He tried to save me the embarrassment of actually telling the truth.” She paused, then took a deep breath. “The protein marker in my blood already had lessened my abilities to become pregnant. I knew that, but when it happened, I was still in my early thirties and it didn’t bother me so much, add to that the fact that my love life amounted to zero, having a kid was definitely not my priority. Then Nirti used her machine on me and although Eggar brought me back to normal, it didn’t arrange the situation. What Jack covered up with his sweet story, is that we tried, we tried very hard to have a kid but I couldn’t. I underwent several tests and it appeared that along with the fact that I was over 35, although my hormonal rates and organs were absolutely normal, the rate of abnormal reproductive cells was very high...”
she left the sentence hanging for him to come to the conclusion by himself, which he did, looking at his feet.

“I’m sorry...”

“It’s okay...” Sam said softly. “We knew from the start that it was not going to be easy given our past experiences.”

John nodded silently, then looked at Jack intensely.

“That’s when I realize I’m the lucky one, Jack.” He said with a catch in his throat. “Thank you for giving me a second chance.” He made to stand up, his gesture imitated by his two hosts. “I should get going... It was nice seeing you both.”

“Yeah, nice to know what’s become of you, Colonel.” Jack said with a hint of sarcasm.

John chuckled.

“Things never change, do they, Jack?”

“I guess they don’t... not really.” He started at the young man intently. “Make them change, John...”

“I’ll do what I can... But your biggest chance is Sam, Jack...” he said humbly. “... And my advice, if you’d take it, is to get her to the closest church and make her an honest woman!” he said with a wink, lightening the atmosphere.

Jack smiled and shook his hand.

“See you at the wedding, folks... And I want dress uniforms!” he said above his shoulders as he made to his car.

Sam and Jack watched him leave, waving at the departing car, their arms wounded around each other’s waists.

Jack kissed Sam’s hair and tightened his embrace.

“Why don’t we do just that?” Sam mumbled against his chest.

“What?”

“Get married?”

He looked at her.

“You’re sure about this?” he asked, a little surprised, but she knew it was because he still doubted his abilities to make a marriage successful.

“Positive...” she smiled against his chest.

“Wow!” he exclaimed genuinely.

She looked at him with amusement.

“Come on, Jack... 9 years is not enough for you to realize the curse is broken? I should be the one worried. After all, I had a habit of leaving a trail of dead boyfriends or potential boyfriends behind me!”

He chuckled and crushed her against him once more.

“Life sure is an adventure with you, Carter!” he said, kissing her soundly. “Now why don’t we take this inside?” he murmured huskily against her mouth and between kisses. “After all, we still have that wedding to discuss...”


THE END.

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