Author's Note: Big thanks to Channach and Shoe Queen for betaing this chapter! Also thanks to Raven Clark for her editing efforts. As always any mistakes are due to my rewrites after beta-ing, because I am just never happy with my writings.
Guys, this is it. The final chapter of this story. Thank you all so much for reading along, for reviewing and commenting, and constantly encouraging me in your feedback.
If you're interested, there's an ebook version available of this story for Kindle, iPad, etc. Visit my profile and you'll find a link to it there.
Rain pelted down into the thick pine forests, forming little streams as it ran from the roof of the small log cabin to collect in puddles on the muddy ground. Sam picked up her pace, the blankets in her arms clutched against her chest. Mud squished under her feet.
During the past few months she'd forgotten how hostile the climate in Antarctica could be. Icy rain showers, strong crisp winds blowing over from the nearby ocean, and of course much too short days with way too little sunshine.
She hurried up the three wooden steps to the front door of the cabin and ripped it open. Thank God, they'd finished building the first log cabins today. Those cabins would at least provide more resilient shelter against the gusts of wind and the cold temperatures.
She pulled the door shut behind her and shook the water from her arms. They'd moved mattresses and bedsheets in first thing that morning, so at least their bed would be dry.
Arms wrapped around herself, she took a deep breath. The scent of new wood mixed with pine and rain filled her nostrils. Smiling, she looked around. Not much space, but compared to living in a tiny tent, this was a palace.
She strolled over to the bed alcove and glance out of the window above the bed. If she hung the curtains along the front of the alcove, the bed would be separated from the rest of the cabin. She climbed onto the mattress and crawled over to open the window. Crisp, wet air blew inside.
"Where does this stuff go?"
She turned her head. Jack stood at the door, his arms and hair dripping from the rain. So was the box in his hands.
Flinching, she closed the window. "Please tell me this isn't the box with my books."
"Of course not. It's the one with our clothes."
"Oh. Well, we don't have a wardrobe yet, so why don't you put it down against the wall somewhere?" Back against the cold window, she studied him. Her husband. And her new home. Excitement tingled in her stomach.
Jack brushed the water out of his hair and looked up, a twinkle in his eyes. "Whatcha doing?"
"I was just wondering if I should use our drapes to separate the bed alcove from the rest of the room. It's perfect for it, and that way we'd have more privacy in bed."
"Sounds good." He climbed on the bed and moved closer until their faces were inches apart.
She cupped his face with her hands, her thumb brushing over his cheeks. "You're all wet."
"So are you." Before she had a chance to answer, he took her mouth with his. His tongue stroked against hers in a sensual game, and her heart sped up. After their week-long honeymoon, how was it possible she wanted him with an intensity as though they hadn't seen each other for weeks? She sighed into the kiss.
When he withdrew, her breath came fast and the room spun. He brushed his nose against hers. "We should put the bedsheets on, before you soak the mattress with your dripping, wet..."
"Jack!" She smacked his chest.
His eyes gleamed as his gaze dropped to her lips. "What did you think I was gonna say?"
Her cheeks warmed. "Nothing. Never mind."
He smirked and leaned in to nip her earlobe. "Still so much fun to make you blush."
"I miss being on honeymoon with you." She wrapped her arms around him and shifted so she could lie on her back. "You know, spending all day in bed."
"We can do that once we're done with this. The Stargate won't reopen for another month or so until at least half of the cabins are built." He steadied himself on his forearms and brushed the wet hair off her forehead. "That'll give us plenty of time."
"I'd like that."
He took her mouth in a gentle kiss and then turned on his back and lay next to her, their shoulders touching.
"I was thinking about putting a bookshelf up there." He pointed at a point on the wall above the bed. "What do you think?"
"Really? In here?" She beamed at him.
He smirked. "The bed alcove isn't very big, and that's better than you spreading all your books out on the mattress."
"I love you so much." She tangled her fingers through his damp hair and leaned in for another lingering kiss. A knock from the door made them both sigh.
"Guess we're gonna have to get used to being disturbed again," Jack said.
Sam giggled against his shoulder, and sat up with him. "It's open."
The door opened and Daniel peeked inside. "Hey." He grinned. "What are you two doing?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Not much. What's up?"
"We were gonna bring the hovercraft with the furniture up the hill, but we'll need your help to get everything into the cabins."
Sam slid off the bed. "Really? We're gonna bring the rest of the furniture in today?"
Jack nodded. "Yeah, for the few folks who are here already."
Daniel brushed through his hair and little droplets of water spilled to the ground. "We only have couches and tables so far. We'll have to get the rugs and shelves from town tomorrow."
"No problem, I'll be right out," Jack said.
"I'll help." Sam straightened.
"I'll handle that. Can you get the last coupla boxes from our tent?" He leaned in to her ear and dropped a warm kiss right under it, before he lowered his voice. "And start with the curtains. When I make love to you tonight I don't wanna have to worry about somebody bursting in."
"Okay." Her skin buzzed with his closeness. She grazed her palms up and down his arms. "I'll get the bed ready, too."
"Now there's an idea."
Daniel stuck his hands in his pockets. "Vala said when we're done we could all have dinner together at the food tent."
"Yeah." Jack flinched. "Let's move the food tent into the food cabin first, though."
Daniel groaned. "Today?"
"It's not gonna take long if we all help."
Sam grabbed the plastic sheet she had used earlier to shield some boxes from the rain. "I'll give Siler a heads up. Maybe we can get started while you guys do the furniture."
"Sounds like a plan." Jack nodded. "All right, kids. Let's get to work."
Shivering, Sam dropped down on the couch in front of the small fireplace in the corner. "You know, I don't think we thought it all the way through when we picked this cabin."
Jack peeked out of the alcove. "Why? It's close to the lake."
"But far from the bath house." She dried her hair the second time that day.
"Aww, Carter, don't tell me a two-minute run through icy rain ruins your mood." He grinned and waved her over. "Come here for a sec. See if you like this."
She got up from the couch and walked over to the bed alcove. When he pulled the curtain aside, her breath caught. He'd fixed two wooden shelves on the wall behind their pillows. "Those are great."
"I can fix another one."
"Two's more than enough. I don't even have enough books to fill one of them."
"That'll change soon." He slid down the side of the bed and placed the hammer and screwdrivers back in a box to the side.
"I wouldn't be so sure of that. Kinsey made it clear he doesn't want me working in the science department." She swallowed against the knot in her stomach. If only Kinsey didn't have so much influence on the POA.
Jack linked their fingers and drew her with him to the couch, where he pulled her to sit between his legs, her back against his chest. "Don't worry about that goon so much. The POA put me in charge of Stargate Operations, so I get to make the personnel choices."
"Yes, but Kinsey ordered the science department not to let me work on anything related to science. And even though McKay keeps me up to date, if I were to work with them, all the accomplishments would go on record under his name. I know it's not about reputation, but still…"
"Kinsey's an ass who won't change his ways. His standing order said not to put you in the existing science department. But we'll need a department of alien technology as soon as the Stargate's officially reopened for missions." He nuzzled her temple. "Guess who's gonna be heading that?"
She straightened in his arms and turned. "Isn't that science too?"
"Sorta. But Kinsey's order was about the current science teams working with human or Aschen technology. He never mentioned any future sections, or alien technology. As head of that department, you'd have to cooperate with McKay, of course. You know, to stay in the loop and all," he said.
"Kinsey's never gonna allow all that."
"He doesn't have a choice 'cause I already got the written confirmation from the POA."
She stared at him. "How did you do that?"
"If there's one thing Faxon's good at, it's handling the POA." He tangled his hand in her hair and pulled her to him. "A skill I lack entirely."
"You're good at getting things done. He's good at getting you permission for doing it." Smiling, she stared into the calm flickering of the flames. "You two are a good team."
"Sometimes I miss the days where we didn't have to get permission for every single thing. Seemed so much more effective." He sighed and leaned back, hiw face growing serious. "Faxon's gonna run."
He chuckled. "To become the leader of the POA. If we ever have elections, Faxon's agreed to run against Kinsey to become president and head of the POA." His warm lips dropped a kiss on her nape, and then a second one on where her neck met her shoulder.
She trembled and linked their fingers. Every muscle in her body ached from carrying furniture and boxes all day, and yet his tender caresses stirred need inside her. "Kinsey's not gonna like that."
"Nope." Another kiss right under her ear. "But I told Faxon, the resistance is behind him. I didn't like him at first, but now I think he'd be the guy we need to bring stability to Earth. He wants to make politics for everyone, he's diplomatic, and a large majority of non-gifted people support him."
"A few won't rest until a non-gifted person is in charge," she said, thoughtful.
"Who knows, maybe Fraiser and Beckett have success with the cure for infertility. Then that wouldn't matter anymore."
"That'd be nice."
He chuckled. "Enough politics for now. What do you say we try out our soft new bed? We'll close all the curtains and leave just one of the safety lamps on." He grazed his mouth along her skin, his warm breath washing down her neck. "And then I'll count every single one of your freckles with my mouth. All over your body."
A pang of heat stabbed at her. "I'd like that."
"Why don't you get comfortable while I put out the fire?"
Skin buzzing with anticipation, she strolled over to the bed and dropped her robe to the floor. After she had pulled the window curtains closed, she sank into the soft mattress and stared at the wooden ceiling. Head of the alien technology department… Definitely a position she'd like.
The mattress shifted when Jack climbed onto the bed next to her. He pulled the curtains closed so that only the safety lamp on the shelf bathed them in a soft light. She trailed her fingertips along his shoulder and down his biceps, tracing his muscles.
His gaze heated when his gaze dropped. He trailed his palm down over her bare stomach in a light caress, and goosebumps danced down her arms. "Jack…"
When he trailed his lips down along her bare neck and towards her breasts, all thoughts vanished from her mind.
The rest of the world could wait. Tomorrow would be another day.
2 weeks later
Head lying against the armrest of the couch, Jack shielded his eyes from the sun leaking in through the curtains. Damn headaches and flashbacks. These ones were definitely stronger than the last. And the pills Keller had given him weren't working.
He shifted his head to loosen his neck muscles. If the strength of the side effects were any indication, his nightmares would be worse this time. Last time he'd been able to manage them. He'd woken up, and after a stroll through camp and a cup of hot tea with Sam on the porch, everything had been fine.
Groaning, he sat up and stretched. The pain grew slightly weaker. Maybe the pain meds were kicking in after all.
When the door opened, he lifted his head. Sam entered, face and arms covered in grease and dirt. He raised his eyebrows. "What on earth happened to you?"
"Jack." She stopped. "I didn't know you're back so early. What time is it?"
She paled, then swallowed visibly. "Oh. How was the session?"
"Kinda sucked. I think they reactivated more than one memory this time."
She flinched, undoubtedly in sympathy, and took a few steps towards him. "Do you need anything?"
"No, Keller already gave me a pill. I'm just waiting for the headache to stop so I can take a nap." He straightened and waved at her. "So, what happened to you?"
"Well…" She shifted from one foot to the other and fidgeted. "I'm working on the hovercraft."
"Still?" Realization dawned on him. He groaned. "Carter… Don't tell me you took it apart."
Another flinch, this time clearly from guilt. "I didn't. Not entirely. I just wanted to look at the engine and…"
"I said check the rudder." He pressed his palms to his eyes.
"I know. And I did. But when that was done, I wanted to see if I can optimize the air flow and increase thrust to make it faster. Since I was already at it and have nothing else to do…"
Jack sighed and lifted his head. "Promise me this isn't gonna be another refrigerator incident."
"That was an accident. I asked Siler twice if he'd unplugged the generator. And he still insists he did, so maybe someone else plugged it back in. Siler's usually very reliable."
He stared at her. "I don't care whose fault it was. The damn thing blew up and set the entire kitchen on fire."
"I know. But we got it under control."
"Yeah." He gave a sarcastic chuckle. "We had to rebuild half the room. And order new appliances."
She bit her lower lip. "I know. It's just…" She blew out a breath. "I'm going crazy here. I have nothing to do since McKay was instructed by the POA not to let me anywhere near the science department. They won't even let me look at Aschen technology from afar. I know the Stargate will be officially reopened next week, but right now I feel like I'm completely useless."
She dropped her arms, an epitome of misery with her skin darkened with grease.
Sighing, he held out his hand. "C'mere."
"I'm gonna get you all dirty." Visibly hesitant, she took a step toward him.
"I don't care." He took her hand and drew her close enough so he could bury his face against her stomach. Her fingers ran through his hair in a gentle caress when he lifted his head to look into her clear blue eyes. "The situation's not ideal at the moment. It'll get better, I promise."
"I know you're doing your best, and I didn't mean to complain."
"You have every right to. The only reason you're not in charge of the science department is that Kinsey thinks women shouldn't work. If I were in your place, I'd go nuts. Unfortunately, the POA has the last word when it comes to human and Aschen technology." He scraped his hand through his hair as a thought occurred to him. "Have you talked to the Tok'ra?"
"About what?" She cupped his face with her hands and brushed her thumb along his lower lip.
"Well, since Kinsey's such a pain in the ass, and you don't have anything to do, it'd be a great opportunity to brush up your knowledge of Goa'uld technology. I'm sure Jolinar or your dad would let you play with some of their doohickeys."
Her face brightened. "Would that be okay?"
"Yeah, sure. Why not?"
"The POA's standing order was not to cooperate with them until further notice, and I don't want you getting in trouble."
"They relieved you of all official duties, and what you do in your spare time isn't any of their business, is it?"
Her lips pulled into a beaming smile. "No, it isn't." She inched closer. "I love you more every day, you know that?"
He grinned. "I'm just trying to keep my camp in one piece without you dismantling everything you get your hands on."
She nipped his lower lip, and then pulled him into a lingering kiss. The faint scent of motor oil and lemon shampoo filled his nostrils. An enticing mixture that definitely shouldn't stir a physical reaction in him. When they broke apart, she brushed her nose against his. "I promise, tonight the hovercraft will be as good as new."
"I expect at least a ten percent increase in air flow… Or whatever it was you were working on."
"Yes, sir." She stole another quick kiss before she straightened. "You want me to get you another pill for your headache?"
He sat back. Surprisingly, the dull pounding in his head had ceased. "It's getting better. I think I'll lay down for a moment. Who knows how much sleep I'll get tonight."
She gave him a soft smile. "Okay. Tell me if you need anything."
"Will do. You have fun with the hovercraft. And remember, at seven we gotta leave for town to attend the team party at O'Malley's."
"I'll be ready." She grabbed a book from the shelf.
Smiling he watched her leave the cabin. How was it that whenever she entered it felt as though the sun were rising in his life? He glanced down at his hands and noticed faint black stains on them. Motor grease. Smirking he got up from the couch and picked one of the dirty towels out of the laundry basket next to the door. She truly was one in a million.
"This place hasn't changed a bit." Happiness tingled in Sam's stomach as she looked around O'Malley's. The bar room bustled with people. Some soldiers from camp that she knew, some new people who'd been assigned to the Stargate program, some townspeople.
"O'Neill." A tall man approached them.
"Caldwell." Jack shook his hand. "I didn't know you'd arrived already."
"Earlier today actually, but I'll stay in a guesthouse in town until tomorrow."
"Carter, you remember Steven Caldwell from resistance Cell 1?"
"Yes, good to see you again, sir." She smiled at the colonel and shook his hand. Starting next week, he would be Jack's second in command, and that made him her superior officer. Back on their first mission to the Aschen science fair in Powhatan, his gruff way of snapping orders at his people had intimidated her. Now she would have to learn to get along with him.
"Aren't you the one who messed up the mission in Powhatan a while back?"
Her cheeks flared. Oh wonderful, so he remembered that. "Yes, sir."
To her surprise, Caldwell chuckled.
Smirking, Jack slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her close. "Took a while to straighten her out."
"Hey." She nudged him with a smile. "I wasn't that bad."
Caldwell's eyes sparkled. "From what I heard, you beat up a commanding officer in your first month as a recruit. Don't worry, I like spirited subordinates, Carter. And I think your mission to the Aschen homeworld makes up for any initial shortcomings. Dr. McKay says you're a genius."
"He does?" She held her breath. McKay rarely acknowledged the wits of anyone but himself.
"Yeah. The other day he admitted you were the smartest scientist he knew. After himself of course."
"Of course." She laughed.
"As long as you don't try to beat me up, we'll get along well." He stretched his hand out to her.
"Yes, sir." Smiling, Sam took it. Maybe he wasn't as strict or scary as she'd thought. After all, many resistance members who didn't know Jack thought of him as gruff and strict, too.
"Jack. Sam." Sheppard's voice drifted from somewhere. She turned. The younger colonel pushed through a group of soldiers, a grin on his face. "Wasn't sure if you two were gonna make it on time after Sam took your hovercraft apart."
Jack smacked Sheppard's shoulder. "Oh, we did. She did a great job. Ours runs faster than yours now."
She rolled her eyes with a laugh. The same old competition that they'd had going with the puddle jumper, when it was all about who'd break whose speed record. She glanced around the room. So many new faces. And so many old ones. She nodded towards Felger, Lee and Walter.
At a table close to the wall, McKay and Jennifer held hands while she whispered something in his ear that made them both laugh. They looked so happy. And Joe had kept his word about not forcing Jennifer into a relationship with him. Would he be here tonight?
Her stomach clenched. She hadn't talked to Joe since the day she'd broken up with him. From what she heard, he and Jack got along well, but still, she wasn't keen on the awkwardness that would undoubtedly ensue.
Sheppard's laugh pulled her out of her thoughts. She turned her attention back to the conversation.
"So Jack, guess you're off the market now. Means I have free range tonight," Sheppard said, a twinkle in his eyes.
Jack's face remained blank. "As long as you keep your hands off Carter, I don't care what you do."
"Actually, I set my eyes on the diplomat who arrived yesterday."
"Elizabeth?" Sam turned to him. Who would have thought she'd be Sheppard's type…
Sheppard nodded and took a sip from his beer. "Yeah. Already talked to her earlier. She's cute. And smart." He raised his brows. "Why, is she with someone?"
She shook her head. "Not that I know of, but I've only met her briefly. Daniel knows her better."
"She's a remarkable woman." Caldwell turned and looked at Elizabeth Weir, who stood at the counter talking to one of the barkeeps.
Sheppard pointed the neck of his beer bottle at him. "Don't even think about it."
"What?" Caldwell raised his eyebrows and lifted his hands. "It's not my fault if she's interested in me."
"Interested?" Sheppard scoffed. "She talked to you to introduce herself. Talk being the operative word. There was no interest."
"Oh God." Sam chuckled. "I'm gonna grab a beer while you guys do your competition thing. Do we have a pool table?"
"Yeah," Sheppard said. "Mal Doran and Jackson have been playing all evening. And he's still losing."
Jack scraped his hand through his hair. "Time to relieve poor Daniel of his torment." He leaned in to Sam and nuzzled her cheek. "I'll buy the drinks. You go save us seats upstairs in the lounge."
"On the couch?" She pulled him close and cupped his face, their lips so close that their breaths mingled. "I'll challenge you to a game of pool. You still owe me that rematch from last time."
His eyes gleamed. "You think you got a chance this time?"
"I can try." She bit his lower lip.
He swallowed visibly. "Keep doing that, and you're gonna find yourself on the bed in one of the guesthouse rooms next door in a minute."
She bit her lower lip on a chortle. "No self-control."
"Oh really? We'll see who of us has more self-control."
God, she'd missed this place. The fun, the exuberance, the informalities. As though they'd never been gone.
As Joe's voice drifted from behind them, her stomach tightened. She turned and Jack lifted his head. Joe gave her a courteous nod, and then looked around. "So this is the place you told me about."
Jack and Joe shook hands. Wow, awkward. She cleared her throat and swallowed hard when Joe turned to her.
Jack gave her arm a gentle squeeze. "I'm gonna go get our drinks. I'll meet you upstairs?"
"I'll be there in a moment."
The hint of a smirk pulled at his mouth. "Don't take too long, or I'll have to play a game with Daniel."
She stifled a chuckle and turned back to Joe. Their gazes locked.
"How are you?" she finally brought herself to ask after a long, awkward pause.
"Good. How are you?"
A woman who had to be a few years older than her approached from behind. "I saved us seats near the wall over there."
He turned and slipped his arm around her waist. "Sweetie, come here for a moment. I want you to meet a friend of mine."
The woman turned and brushed a lock of her long black hair behind her ear as her gaze stopped on Sam.
Joe smiled. "Darla, this is Sam. Sam, Darla."
"Sam Carter? It's such a pleasure to meet you." Darla's dark eyes sparkled with excitement as she took Sam's hand with both of hers. "In my village so many young women want to fight for a right to visit a university to become scientists because of you."
Sam felt her cheeks warm. "Wow, that's… I don't know what to say."
"You have no idea how much you inspired us. After we learned that a woman came up with idea of a virus that disabled the Aschen Stargate, we couldn't believe it."
"I… I didn't do it by myself. A lot of people helped."
"Yes, but you made a lot of us realize that we don't have to be content with the roles society forces on us. We can be scientists too, if we want to be. Esepcially with the current situation." She squeezed Sam's hand again. "I can't believe I'm actually meeting you."
Joe chuckled. "Sam, I told you about Darla."
She scrunched her brows, her gaze darting to him. He had?
"She's the woman from my village whom I wanted to marry before I learned I was gifted."
"Oh." The knot in her stomach loosened. "Yes, of course."
"After I signed the marriage contract with Jennifer, I searched for her." Joe looked at Darla, a gentle expression on his face as he tangled his hand through her long hair. "I'm safe from remarriage for now, so Darla and I can be together even though she isn't gifted."
"I'm so happy for you." Excitement flooded her. Joe had found the woman he once loved. And here she'd thought meeting him again would be awkward. "Jack told me you're thinking about running for POA leader if we have elections."
He nodded. "Somebody has to go up against Kinsey. And with the resistance behind me, I might have a chance."
She waved at the stairs. "I've been challenged to a game of pool. Why don't you guys join us?"
Darla's face lit up. "Oh, I love pool."
Sam's amazement grew by the minute. "You know how to play?"
"Sure. In my village we play all the time. We have a barn which we use as a village meeting point in the evenings. There's dart games and a pool table. And usually lots of alcohol." She flinched on a laugh.
"You'll feel right at home here. Come on," Sam said.
"Is it all right?" Darla looked at Joe.
When they entered the lounge upstairs, Daniel and Vala were just finishing a game. The lounge was still moderately empty, and Sam sat down on the corner part of the couch. Joe and Darla went over to some of the barstools. He whispered something in her ear that made her blush and giggle.
Who would have thought Joe would go back to his village to find the woman he'd once loved? A smile pulled at her lips. Maybe she'd been wrong. Maybe their revolution had changed things. Little changes, for now. But maybe those small ripples would grow bigger over time.
Her stomach tingled when Jack entered, two bottles in his hand. One beer and one soda. Eyes gleaming, he handed the beer to her as he sat down.
Half-kneeling on the couch, she turned to him. "You knew about Joe and Darla, didn't you?"
Chuckling, he leaned in. "You think I would have left you two alone otherwise?" His breath washed warm down her neck.
She gave him a disbelieving look. "Don't you trust me?"
"Oh, I trust you unconditionally. I wouldn't have trusted him, though." He nibbled her earlobe. "I have a policy not to leave my wife alone with a guy she… you know…"
She chuckled. "I happen to have the same policy."
"Just that given your history I'll probably have a lot more to do keeping all those sexy women away from you."
"Such as?" He searched her face.
"Kerry Johnson, for starters."
His mouth pulled into a slow, lopsided smile, then he leaned in and buried his face in her neck. "Carter, I'm not interested in looking at other women as long as I get to look at you." He dropped a searing kiss right under her ear.
She clasped at his shoulders and sighed. Her head swam with his scent and his warmth.
Abruptly, he got up from the couch and held his hand out to her. "Now, let's see if I can kick your ass at pool."
An abrupt movement next to her instantly pulled Sam out of her half-sleep. Jack sat up, his chest heaving, his skin covered in a soft sheen.
Drowsy, she sat up and nuzzled his neck. He wrapped his arm around her and clutched her to him, burying his face in her hair. They both remained still for a minute or so, until he released her. Without a word, he pulled open the curtain and slid out of bed. She sank down to the pillow and watched as he pulled on his pants and shoes. Then he left their cabin.
Yawning she turned onto her back and stretched. His behavior was nothing new.
When he had a nightmare, he needed to leave the house for a while to order his thoughts. Sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes half an hour. When he returned, he usually had two cups of coffee or tea—depending on what the nightshift in the kitchen had prepared—and they sat on the porch together until he felt ready to tell her about his memories.
She glanced at the clock.
Early enough to get a few hours more sleep later.
She threw the covers back and shivered when the crisp air in the room hit her bare skin. She pulled a shirt over her head and opted for a comfortable pair of khakis.
When she stepped outside onto the porch, a cool breezed welcomed her. The ground shimmered in changing colors. Arms wrapped around herself, she lifted her gaze. Curtains of green and pink danced slowly across the sky with stars sparkling between them like tiny gems.
Smiling, she sat down on the stairs that led up to the porch and leaned her head against the wooden banister. As hostile and unpleasant as the climate of Antarctica was at times, moments like this made up for it.
Footsteps approached from somewhere. Her body tensed in intuitive alarm, but then relaxed when she recognized Jack. He carried two cups in his hands.
"Hey." He handed one of the cups to her and sat down next to her on the steps.
They remained quiet for a long time. It wasn't an awkward silence. They hardly ever were anymore with him. It was comfortable to be with someone without having to say anything.
She leaned her head against his shoulder, her gaze fixed on the sky as she warmed her fingers on the cup.
"One of these days, I'm gonna take you up in the jumper so we can watch we aurora from space," he said.
"I'd love that." She brushed her palm along his arm.
"Soothing, isn't it?"
"Yeah." She closed her eyes. "I sometimes wonder if we destroyed paradise with our revolution, but in moments like these I know it was worth it."
"Earth was never paradise." He blew some air onto his steaming cup and then took a careful sip. "It may have looked like it was from a distance, but looks can be deceiving."
She turned to him. "Do you sometimes wonder if…"
"What?" he asked, meeting her gaze. His eyes gleamed with tenderness.
"Earth may not have been paradise, but at least there was peace. We weren't on the verge of a civil war. What if the POA is right? We call ourselves revolutionaries, but what if we really are terrorists?"
He kept his face blank.
Thoughtful, Sam looked back up at the sky, her fingers linking with Jack's. "I just wonder how history will judge us. Will people in two-hundred or three-hundred years say we did the right thing? Will we be remembered as revolutionaries or terrorists? It's such a fine line. Maybe there isn't even a difference."
He shrugged. "We are what we are. All we can ever do is follow our conscience. Earth wasn't a peaceful planet before. The Aschen tried to destroy us slowly. Now we have a chance."
He wrapped his arm around her and chuckled. "Sometimes you gotta stick your fingers in your ears, hum loudly and wait. Things'll get better by themselves. Give it a few months. Maybe half a year."
She snuggled up against his warmth. "Everything is always so simple with you."
Brows raised, he tangled his fingers in her hair. "Is that a good thing?"
"Oh yeah. You take the situation as it is and make the best of it." She leaned her head on his shoulder. "It's comforting and puts things back into perspective. It's part of why I love you so much."
He dropped a kiss on her forehead, and she closed her eyes. Maybe he was right, maybe they just had to wait it out.
After a long pause, he shifted and cleared his throat. Keeping his voice low, he began to talk. "So… earlier, I had this memory return…"
She linked their fingers when he started to talk.
Whatever the future would bring, they'd face it together.
They were free.
Don't forget to check out the ebook version (link in my profile!) It has lots of bonus content for you all to enjoy.
STARGATE ASCHEN – EBOOK
Read the full unabridged story on your Kindle, iPad, tablet, smartphone or computer.
Original 1st Publication Version of Stargate Aschen (Chapters 1 - 35)
Inside the Aschen Universe
Stargate Aschen Timeline
Illustrations: Antarctica, Book Covers, exclusive "Stargate Aschen" Sam/Jack illustration
REVIEW RESPONSE TIME!
ALIMOO1971: Thank you! I'm so glad you like it! :)
LadyOthala: I'm glad you like it. The traditions were a mix from all kinds of different parts of the world that I remembered. With the history and everything, the Western culture didn't really rise to such prominence in the Aschen universe, so a lot of different cultures merged into the present day one. ;) I figured it would just be logical.
I sometimes think I could have gone more out, but I wanted people to still feel the romance and if the customs are too weird or unknown it might have estranged readers. ;)
dpdp: Thank you! I'm glad the different wedding traditions weren't too estranging.
LadyMo: I'm so glad you like the wedding ceremony. I slaved so hard over that because I wanted it to be perfect since we never got to see one on the show. :P
fanka77: Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! ;)
Rudy P: Thank you. Unfortunately there isn't much more, just this one chapter 51. But I'm still glad you enjoyed it. :)
Thank you everybody for your kind reviews, and for reading this story all the way through! You guys were incredible!