Chapter Sixteen

Beth had fallen asleep with her face pressed against his chest, right over his heart. But sometime during the night she had rolled over onto her tummy, and now at 5:00 her breathing sounded loud and labored. Jack moved her onto her back, and then he went out to get a drink of water. He was surprised when he saw Carolyn coming out of her office.

"Jack, how's she doing?"

"I'm not sure. Her breathing seems to be louder, and she's still hot. I'm worried," he admitted.

"Let me take a look at her," she said, and then she hurried back into her office to get her stethoscope, while Jack waited. He followed her into Beth's room then, watching while she listened to Beth's lungs. When she was finished, she shook her head. "The antibiotic should have helped by now, but it hasn't. I'll have to try a different one."

Carolyn hurried out of the room and was back two minutes later with a small bottle and a syringe. She quickly administered the antibiotic, and in doing so she woke up Beth, who immediately started crying. "Sorry, sweetie, but I had to do it," she said, as she patted little Beth's leg. "I think you should hold her. I don't want her getting too upset."

Jack picked Beth up and walked back and forth with her, and it wasn't long before she stopping crying. And since the room wasn't equipped with a comfortable chair, he piled blankets up against the wall and sat down with his back against them, while cuddling her to his chest.

He sat with her all that day and the next and the next. At 5:00 on the third morning he was just getting back from a quick shower, when he heard the klaxons sounding, and the sergeant on duty announcing that there was in incoming wormhole. Naturally, since no one had been willing to tell him anything about Sam's whereabouts, Jack wondered if it was her team returning from their mission. So first he made sure Beth was still asleep. She was, and after making certain the blankets were in place to keep her from rolling off the bed, he crept out of the room and headed straight for the elevator.

The SG teams had walked for three days, until it was safe for the Prometheus to get close enough to the planet's surface to use the rings. Then they had flown to the Alpha base, where they had been able to gate home.

Along the way she'd had time to think about how terrible her life would be without Jack in it. She missed him more than she could say, and she finally realized that he was the good person she had always believed him to be. Not many men would have changed their lives so drastically in order to take care of a baby, but Jack had done just that. And he had expressed his love for her too. Therefore he deserved another chance. So now all Sam wanted to do was get home and see her daughter and Jack.

Sam had just gotten through turning over her firearms to the Marine on duty, when she saw Jack standing in the corridor just outside the blast doors. She rushed over to him.

"Jack! Why are you here? Is Beth okay?"

"No, she's not. She's in the infirmary," he told her, and then he took her hand and looked at her lovingly. "Sam, I'm so glad you're alright. I couldn't stand losing you again." She smiled at him, knowing she was right to forgive him, and then they hurried hand-in-hand to the elevator.

Only Daniel charged forward, eager to know what was happening. He caught up with them at the elevator, where he hopped on. "Jack, what's going on?" Daniel asked.

"Beth has pneumonia."

"Pneumonia! I wonder where she got it," Daniel said, and Jack's mind immediately went to the week before when Beth had played at the park with Kate's daughter, Jessie, and her friends. Was that when she'd caught the bug?

"Well, don't worry. Antibiotics should knock it right out," Daniel continued, smiling cheerfully. Jack felt like punching him. How the guy could always be so damned cheerful was a mystery to Jack, who frequently found that life was way too disappointing and unfair to smile about. This was definitely one of those times. He hadn't wanted Beth at first. Now she was like a part of him, a part he couldn't live without, and he prayed he wasn't going to lose her.

When they reached Beth's room, Daniel wished them well, before he headed toward Carolyn's office. Jack and Sam went inside, where a nurse offered them masks, which they put on. Then the nurse left them alone with Beth.

"Beth's gonna be just fine. You'll see," Jack said for Sam's sake, as he looked down at their sleeping daughter.

"She looks so small," Sam said as she brushed a lock of hair out of Beth's eyes. Next she touched the baby's cheek, and then she turned a relieved face to Jack. "She feels a little warm but definitely not hot."

Jack felt Beth's forehead. Sam was right; she was definitely cooler. Feeling relieved, Jack pulled Sam into his arms then and hugged her. "I'm really glad you're here, Sam." Sam didn't pull away, and for that Jack felt grateful and somewhat optimistic. He needed her now, maybe more than ever before.

Behind them the door opened and Carolyn Lam walked in. "Sam, I still need to do your physical."

"Okay." She turned and looked up at Jack. "I'll be back as soon as I can," she said, and Jack let her fingers slowly slip out of his.

"I'll be here," he replied, hoping she understood what he really meant. He would always be here for her and Beth, no matter what she decided to do about their marriage.

Sam was back, poked, prodded and showered, in under an hour, just in time to see Beth open her eyes. "Mama, Daddy!"

"Yes, sweetheart, we're both here, and we'll stay here with you until the doctor says you can go home," Sam promised. "Now go back to sleep," she said softly. Beth closed her eyes and Sam tipped her head back and looked Jack in the eye. "I'm sorry," was all she said, and Jack gave her a puzzled look.

"For?" he asked quietly, raising both eyebrows inquisitively.

"For not trusting you. For being so hard on you. I know you love her. And I understand why you were afraid to have her. I've been wrong to blame you, but you should have had more faith in yourself. You're a really great father. You always were," she declared, knowing he would understand what she was telling him.

"What happened to change your mind?"

"YOU changed my mind. I saw how you are with her. I saw how much she loves you and how devoted to her you are. And when I was away this time, I realized I missed you just as much as I missed Beth."

"Wow! Then I guess I'll have to let you go off world from time to time, so you'll appreciate me more when you come back."

"No, I won't leave either of you ever again." Sam motioned for him to move to the other side of the room. She didn't want to disturb Beth.

"You won't?" he asked as he sat down on the rollaway bed next to her.

"No. I'm going to retire. I've given twenty-three years of my life to the Air Force. I think that's enough."

"Hey, I'm okay with you staying in. Don't quit and then blame it on me!" he said, more loudly than he intended. Sam held a finger to his lips.

"Shhhh! Jack, relax! I won't blame you for anything anymore. I want us to be together all the time, not just occasionally when I can get away from my job. I want to enjoy raising our daughter with you, and I want to grow old with you," she whispered.

"I hate to tell you this, but I've got a head start on you in that department," he said, frowning.

"Stop it! Stop worrying about your age!"

"I'm not worried. Just stating a fact."

"Well, forget the facts," she said, as she tugged on his shirt collar. Then she pulled down her mask and his, leaned in and gave him a short kiss on the mouth.

"Mmmm, I don't want to forget the facts, Sam, 'cause the fact is, you make me feel young. If you want, I could show you how young I feel when I'm around you," he suggested, smiling and wagging his eyebrows at her.

"Here?!" Sam wasn't sure if he was joking or serious.

"Sure, why not?"

"Because, first of all I don't think this bed would hold the two of us. Second, I wouldn't want Carolyn or anyone walking in on us."

"Then I think it's time we got one of the nurses to sit with Beth, while we go have a quick fuck in the storage room."

"Jack O'Neill, you are incorrigible!"

"Yep! And that's one reason you love me."

"Yes, yes, alright. Now come on before I change my mind."

Using Sam's access key card, it didn't take them long to find a place where they could be alone together. Jack could barely wait to get her pants off, before he was pushing her down on the desk in his old office. He'd never used the office much back in the days when he was a colonel, but now it was coming in very handy.

With her hands gripping the cheeks of his ass, Sam opened her legs wide as Jack filled her like a stallion in the breeding barn. Just as she'd always been, she was impressed by his strength and his staying power, and this time she came so hard she nearly blacked out.

"Whoa!" she exclaimed, putting one hand to her face. She suddenly felt a bit dizzy.

"You okay?" he asked, as he stopped moving. He really needed to come, but now he was more worried about Sam. She looked a bit pale.

"Uh…I'm not sure. Carolyn said I'm alright, but I feel funny."

Jack pulled out of her and helped her sit up. Then he arranged his clothes and helped her get dressed. And by the time they were back in the infirmary, his erection had gone away. Now he was wasn't horny. He was just worried about his wife.

"Carolyn, I need to talk to you," Sam said the instant she saw the doctor.

"And I need to speak to you…to both of you. Sam, you're pregnant."

"I am? But how can I be? We've only had sex once since I got back from Lord Yu's palace."

"Twice," Jack said under his breath, but Sam chose to ignore him.

"Besides, I'm almost forty-two," Sam replied. She knew the sarcophagus had made her look a bit younger, but she had never really expected this.

"Yes you are, but you're also in very good health," Carolyn assured her.

"I guess I just thought we were too old to have anymore kids, at least not without a lot of trying."

"Hey, I may be a bit out of practice, but my guys still know what to do. Just give 'em a chance and they're in there doing their job!" Jack bragged, as he punched the air with one fist.

"So it would seem. So…you're happy about this?" Carolyn asked, looking directly at Jack.

"Yah, sure, you betcha!"

"You ARE?!" Sam asked. After what had happened the last time, she was very surprised by Jack's reaction.

"Sure! It'll be great for Beth to have a little sister or brother. Besides, having kids keeps a person young," he said, running his hands through his hair. He was preening, and Sam thought he was so cute!

"If you get any younger, I'll be raising three kids," Sam said, and then she put her arms around Jack's waist and hugged him. He was so dear, and at last she felt like they were on the same page.

Jack smiled to himself, happy in the knowledge that their marriage was not only saved; it was even better than before. He had been afraid that a baby would ruin what they had, that he'd make some horrible mistake that would end catastrophically. But Beth had turned out to be the thing that kept them together, instead of the thing that tore them apart. Their lives WERE going to change now, but for the better. Soon there would be another little O'Neill, and he'd be the father of two children, and Jack couldn't recall ever being this happy.

"I don't know about you, Jack, but I'm hungry," Sam announced.

"Sure, I could eat," Jack said. "How's Beth?"

"Her temperature is normal, so I'd say it won't be long before you can take her home. Captain Sims is with her now, if you want to go have something to eat. Well, I've got rounds to do. I'll see you two later," Carolyn said, and then she hurried off.

Jack and Sam headed to the commissary to have breakfast, and on the way there they discussed what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives, or at least until the kids were grown. Sam was surprised to find out that Jack had something very unusual in mind.

"Where will we live?" she asked. Now that neither of them would have ties to Colorado Springs, they could live anywhere they wanted.

"I think we should move to the cabin."

"To Minnesota!" She knew how much Jack loved the old house by the lake, but she was worried that it wasn't the right place to raise a family.

"Sure, why not?"

"Do you think we can? I mean it's so far away from everything, and it's so small."

"We'll home-school the kids, and I can add on a room or two. Growing up where the air is clean and where they can learn about nature first-hand will be great for them!"

"Yes, I agree, but… I don't know, Jack. Do you really think we can make it work?"

"I have faith in us, Sam. Together we can do anything. I feel it! I know it!" he crowed happily. For the first time in a long, long time, Jack was feeling positive about life, and he knew it was all because of Sam and Beth. And now they were going to have another baby. He was one lucky son-of-a-bitch!

"Okay, then let's do it!" Sam cried happily. Suddenly she didn't feel worried. Suddenly it felt like old times. Jack was planning the mission, and she was prepared to follow his lead. Things were once again as they should be.

THE END