Chapter 4

The next few days flew by way too quickly to suit Jack. He was dreading the trip to D.C. even before they had become a couple. Now he hated the idea. And the thought of Sam going to Atlantis...to another galaxy for Christ's sake...was just too much!

While a tiny part of him knew she was probably needed there, the larger part wanted to prevent her from going. Maybe if he asked Hammond not to send her. No. If she ever found out, she'd probably kill him, or at least hurt him really bad. She could do it too. Then he had another thought and one that might just work. He'd get on it just as soon as he got to Washington D.C.

By Monday of the following week, Sam was back at work in her lab in Cheyenne Mountain. But instead of running experiments or writing reports on her computer, she was filling in her replacement staff on the location and status of her work there. She was leaving for Area 51 the next day, and she was excited but also a bit sad. This lab had been her home for over eight years, and leaving it was going to be hard. But she had promised Cassie she'd be there for her, and Sam always kept her promises.

The day was going by way too slowly to suit Jack. He had an appointment with Hammond later in the day, and he wished it was time to go see him right now! He was going to ask a favor of him...a big favor, but not to keep Sam on Earth. He was going to ask him to assume Jack's responsibilities, while he went to Atlantis with Sam.

Yep, it was probably the straw that would break the camel's back where his relationship with Hammond was concerned, but he just had to do it. Jack knew that Hammond was thoroughly enjoying his new role as commander of all things Stargate related. In fact he had told Jack he was glad to be giving up Home World Security in exchange for his new position. But Jack hoped their long friendship would be enough to convince Hammond to do this for him. He had to make him understand how important she was to him.

The Generals were relaxing with glasses of Irish whiskey. They were the only people left in this wing of the Pentagon at this late hour. They had chatted briefly about Daniel and Teal'c, relating what they each knew about their current activities, and then the subject of Sam and her reassignment came up. Hammond looked at Jack, wondering why the man was really here to see him. He had a suspicion it had something to do with Sam Carter.

"So Jack, although this visit is nice, something tells me you aren't just here to talk about old friends. Well, let me rephrase that...I think you are here to talk about one old friend in particular, but not Daniel or Teal'c. Am I right?"

"Uhhh...you would be right. George, you know I wouldn't ask you this, if I thought there was another way. Sam told me she's going to Atlantis in a few months, and I want to go with her. I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out how I can pull this off. Now I thought, if you were willing, you could fill in for me here." Hammond's face took on that look that it got when he was about to blow. "It would be just for a few months, or until Sam is finished with her assignment there," he hurriedly added.

"And how are you gonna justify going there yourself, General?" The man was sitting forward in his chair now, turning his glass in his hand. He didn't look too pleased, either, Jack noticed.

"They're working on Ancient technology, which can only be operated by someone with the Ancient gene," he began. "I know Major Shepherd is there, but he's only one guy. And he's needed to lead their defenses if any Wraith, or other threat, comes to visit. I mean, think about it. If there is a crisis, and Major Shepherd is needed to defend Atlantis, their work on the Ancient defense weapons will have to stop. I know that there are other people on Atlantis, the Doctor for one, who possess the gene, but I'm the only person who is also expert in the use of those weapons."

"Jack, you've really got balls, I gotta admit!" He offered Jack another shot, which he refused. Hammond poured himself another two fingers of the golden liquor, downing it in two swallows. "If I do this, you're really gonna owe me. Both you and Colonel Carter!"

"You know I repay my debts, Sir," he offered, reverting to the days when Hammond was his commander at the SGC. If he was reading the man right, his answer was affirmative!

"Okay, Jack. But there's something you don't know; the trip to Atlantis has been moved up. The Daedalus has already returned and is being refitted as we speak. She'll be heading back for Atlantis as soon as the new weapons are installed, hopefully in two to three weeks, not months. And there's more." Jack's mouth opened and formed an O, but no sound came out.

"On one of Shepherd's recon trips to the edge of the Pegasus Galaxy, the long range sensors on the jumper picked up signals from two Wraith hive ships. They seemed to be heading into the galaxy, and could be heading to Atlantis. Weir and Shepherd are afraid that the Wraith may be coming back to Atlantis to learn the location of Earth."

As you know, without the additional weaponry, the people of Atlantis don't stand a chance. And you know what would happen if the Wraith locate Earth. The hope is that once the weapons are up and working in Atlantis, Carter can bring the technology here and set up a similar defense system to protect Earth. So the work on the Ancient weapons must be completed as soon as possible."

"If anyone can save the planet, George, we both know Carter can. And I really want to help."

"But, there's more to it than that, Jack. I may be old, but I'm not that old. You two have finally gotten together, haven't you?" Jack's face lit up, a smile cracking his usually morose exterior.

"Yeah, we finally did, and I just can't stand the thought of being away from her for very long," he admitted, glad that the older man knew his true motives for wanting to go to Atlantis. He hadn't been lying when he said they'd need his help arming those weapons, but he had to admit that wasn't his first and primary reason for wanting to go.

"I respect your reasons for wanting to go, Jack. Both of them. Now let's see if I can get the President to see it our way," he added, picking up the red phone on his desk. "No time like the present, I've always thought," he said, pressing the number one.

When Jack called on Monday night, Sam was sitting at her dining room table, boxes stacked around her on the floor and on the table. Her household belongings were going into Jack's garage, and her house would be sold. Originally she had planned to keep the house, planning to return to Colorado one day. But now, with Jack's bigger house in the picture, she wouldn't be needing her little bungalow.

Sergeants Siler and Owens had offered to move the boxes to Jack's house over the next weekend. She had given keys to her house to Siler and to her real estate agent. So now all she had to do was finish packing the clothing she was taking to Area 51. Those she would take to Atlantis as well.

She'd have to sort through her household stuff and get rid of what she and Jack didn't need, but that would have to wait until she returned. The trip to Atlantis was drawing nearer each day, as technicians installed the new weapons on the Daedalus. She was going to Nellis, near Area 51, to supervise part of the installation, and she was due to arrive at the base at zero fifteen hundred the next day.

Sam picked up the phone on the first ring, hoping it was Jack.

"Hey," he said, sounding happier than she'd expected. They both had been down when they parted, and she could tell he was really not okay with the idea of her going to Atlantis for a lengthy stay...for any length of time for that matter.

"Hey, yourself, Jack! So how was your first day back at the old grind," she asked, teasing him about his desk job.

"Same old stuff. I don't even read the papers they put in front of me anymore, I just sign them," he joked, not far from the truth. Actually, his assistant read all the documents and summarized them for Jack, leaving little post its on the lines where he was to sign.

Hell, he wondered at times why he was even needed; his assistant could do the job just as well, if not better. If it weren't for his connection with the Asgard, he really doubted there would be a place for him here at the Pentagon. Maybe what he could do in Atlantis would be far more rewarding than what he was doing here. And then there was the whole being-with-Carter thing.

"But I do have some news for you which you might like," he began, dangling the carrot.

"What?" She wondered what had him in such a good mood.

"I'm going to Atlantis with you," he said quickly. He waited a couple of beats before he heard her reply.

"Jack, what did you do?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, trying to sound innocent.

"You know what I mean, Jack," she said, sounding more than a bit perturbed.

"What? George and I were just having this little chat, and I suggested that Shepherd would have his hands full defending the city. And what they really needed was someone else who had the ancient gene and was a weapons expert. And naturally my name came up," he said, knowing how silly that sounded.

"Jack, you didn't!"

"Sam...okay, the truth is I couldn't stand the thought of being separated from you for months, and by zillions of light years. So I asked George for a little favor. He's gonna cover for me here in D.C. The President has okayed it. Hammond will tell Weir tomorrow. So we're all set," he finished, taking a breath.

"Jack, are you sure there's not more you should tell me," she asked, wondering if he had asked Hammond not to send her at all.

"No. And I know what you're thinking. If Hammond or the President had turned down my request, I was NOT going to ask them to send someone else in your place. Besides, there is no one who could take your place. You're the best, and everyone knows it. Carter, I just miss you so damned much already. I couldn't stand not seeing you for months!" His mind envisioned her naked, lying under him, and he groaned. He wanted her so bad right now.

"I miss you too, Jack. And I'm really glad you're coming with me," she told him. "And, I'm glad I won't have to punish you for sticking your nose in my assignment," she said, grinning to herself.

"I'm glad about that too. I know you could probably hurt me."

"I'd like to do something else to you right now," she said, her voice taking on a sultry tone. His voice had made her wet the minute she heard it.

"It won't be long before you'll get your wish, Carter. Just a couple of weeks, and I'll be joining you at Area 51. Oh, and we'll be getting 48 hours of down time before we leave for Atlantis. And I have a special surprise for you, all of which I'll tell you more about when I see you," he added.

"What else have you got up your sleeve, Jack?" She was feeling his excitement now, her skin tingling at the thought of seeing much sooner than she had thought possible. And spending months with him in Atlantis, not to mention the long trip there aboard the Daedalus, well, that was almost too much to take in!

"You'll see, Carter. You'll see. I think you'll like what I have planned," he said, teasing her even more. "So, Baby, I hope you don't mind if I tag along?" He knew her answer, but he just had to hear her tell him one more time.

"Mind? No! This is great! But, Jack, what are you not telling me," she begged. God, she hated begging. She never thought she'd be the kind of woman who begged any man for anything. Then she had been made love to by Jack O'Neill, and her values had changed. Now even whining didn't seem so wrong. "Jaaack,' she whined.

"You'll just have to wait and see, Carter. I'll let you know exactly when I'll be there, so be ready to drop what you're doing and escape for two days to civilization. That's all I'll tell you for now. Gotta go, honey, the Chief is on the other line. Love you," he said, before he hung up.

She was still in shock as she got up to finish her packing before calling it a day. Maybe she would rethink what she was taking with her; gotta have a few nicer outfits for their downtime, she thought, a chill of excitement running through her body. And she'd be spending weeks on the Daedalus with Jack! And months in Atlantis with Jack! They would be working side by side...more closely than ever before! Either their relationship would get stronger for it, or this would be the thing that ended it.

The day finally came when Jack arrived in Nevada. Of course Sam was on base to meet him. In fact, she had been there for two hours, eagerly awaiting his plane, which was late because of the bad weather in Colorado.

"Thought I wasn't coming?" he asked her, pulling her into his arms.

She still felt a little uneasy, kissing him in front of military personnel. So she gave him a quick peck on the lips, leaving him wanting much more. He just looked at her and grinned, knowing exactly what she was thinking. Carter always found it more difficult to live on the edge, unlike him.

He spent most of his career stepping across that line, or ignoring it entirely. So he cut her some slack, realizing it would take her a little longer to be comfortable with their new freedoms.

"I was a little worried. I heard all flights were grounded. So how did you get out?"

"I drove to Denver and hopped a ride with a friend." Jack pointed to the pilot, who was just getting off the plane. Jack introduced them. And Sam couldn't help but notice the bills that Jack handed the man, which he adamantly refused. Then the man offered to fly him anywhere, anytime, before he sauntered off toward the motor pool.

He saw her questioning look, so he explained, "He owed me a favor."

"A favor for what?" she asked, wondering how much there was about this man that she still didn't know.

"For getting him out of Iraq," Jack stated simply, climbing into Sam's new SUV. He tossed his duffel bag into the back, settling into the passenger seat, content to let Sam drive. "Let's stop by your quarters and get your things, then I'll drive," he told her.

He sat in the living room/kitchen of her two-room, officer's quarters, flipping through the pages of a Physics Today magazine, while Sam packed for what he said would be two nights in the big city. Thirty minutes later they were on their way off the base, and Jack was doing the driving.

She thought she knew where he was taking her; the base was only an hour from Las Vegas. And while she'd always wanted to go there, she had to wonder why he was being so secretive.

"Jack, it doesn't take a doctorate in theoretical astrophysics to know we're headed for Las Vegas," she said, sounding slightly irritated.

"Yes, Miss Know-it-all, we are headed for Vegas. But, you don't know what we're going to do there," he told her, raising one eyebrow. She was reminded of Teal'c for a second, which made her laugh.

"Okay, Jack, you've got me. I guess I'll just have to wait and see," she said, looking at Jack who was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

Sam had never been to Las Vegas before, and she thought her neck would break due to all the whipping about it was doing as she tried to take in all the wondrous buildings and marquees. The place was truly amazing! There was something different on every corner, and the hotels were bigger and more elaborate as the blocks passed by. It must take a huge amount of electricity to power such a place. If she had time maybe she could tour the power facility while they were here.

Finally they pulled up to one of the most splendid buildings she had ever seen, here or on any planet. The hotel was called The Bellagio. Sam and Jack got out of the car, leaving it for the valet to park. Jack grabbed his bag and hers and headed into the huge lobby. Sam hurried to catch up, trying not to trip on the stairs, while taking in all the wonders of the place at the same time.

They were checked into a suite on the top floor and heading up in the elevator before Sam could catch her breath. While Jack had registered them, under the name of Mr. and Mrs. Smith … she couldn't help laughing at his choice of names … she had been watching the people at the nearby slot machines and gaming tables.

The excitement of the place of was catching, and she felt herself become more and more eager to change into something more appropriate and join the people in their fun. It had been way to long since she'd had some real fun, she decided, putting her arm through Jack's as they rode up to their floor.

The room was very luxurious, and Sam had to wonder how much Jack was paying for it.

"This suite is too expensive, Jack," she said, running her hand over the antique-looking triple dresser in the bedroom. The bed, which was a king, was covered in one of the most exquisitely beautiful comforters that she had ever seen.

"Nothing's too good for you, Sam. Besides, I got a military discount," he said, grinning at her. "Now, get changed into something nice. We're going out to lunch, and then we have an appointment to keep."

"An appointment? Jack, what are you up to?"

She sat down on the bed, pulling him by the hand till he stood directly in front of her. Then she separated her knees, so he could stand closer to her. Her face was so close to him, all she wanted to do at that moment was unzip his pants and pull him out. But she didn't. Instead she looked up at him, laying her hand flat against the slight bulge in his pants.

"Let's leave that till later," he suggested, knowing what was on her mind. "Later you may want to make love to your husband, and he wouldn't want to be too tired to accommodate you," he told her, looking down into her face.

"My husband? Jack, what are you saying?" He got down on one knee and took hold of one of her hands.

"What I've wanted to say for over eight years, Sam. Will you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?"

Somehow her shocked mind noticed his other hand. It was resting on his left knee and in his hand was a dark blue velvet box. 'Oh, my God!' she thought as her mind finally grasped the truth, 'he's proposing to me!'

"I … I don't know what to say," she said quietly. Sam was truly speechless, a situation in which she rarely found herself.

"Well, you could say yes or no. But I warn you, if you say no, that would probably kill me, and then you'd have to spend your time in Vegas alone," he joked, only to ease his concern.

Fortunately, he didn't have long to wait for her answer.

"Yes! Yes, I'll marry you!" They kissed, and even though they had an important appointment to keep, it was many minutes before they left the room.

THE END