Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs, CO
February 6, 2000
Just a little over a month ago they'd come up here as a family for the first time, but it felt like a lot more time had passed since then. Sam took a deep breath of the cool mountain air and snuggled deeper into her scarf. It wasn't freezing quite yet but it was close and she hadn't gotten any better at handling the cold since their last visit. Ife and Jack didn't seem bothered by the chill at all, neither of them wearing scarves but it was possible that chasing after each other amidst the picnic tables was keeping them warm. Sam smiled when he swung their little girl around and Ife giggled uninhibitedly.
Long gone were the times when Ife had to remain quiet for fear of being caught by the wrong people and Sam just couldn't look away from the look of pure joy on Ife's face. Jack was grinning and it warmed her heart to see him so happy. The man was born to be a father and she couldn't find the words to describe what it felt like to be the one giving him a second chance at fatherhood.
Jack hugged Ife to his chest, both of them trying to catch their breath in between laughter, and beckoned her over. "Ready, Sam?"
She looked down at the table in front of her and quickly threw the last of their trash in a bag. Then, she got up and tossed the bag in one of the bins a few feet ahead, before making her way over to the two most important people in her life. "Yeah sure, you betcha," she said, winking at him while wrapping an arm around his waist.
"Going home?" Ife craned her neck to look at her after Jack shifted her to his other hip and pouted a little, as if she didn't want the fun to end.
"Yeah, we are, sweetie."
Jack slung his free arm around Sam's shoulders and pulled her into his side, while simultaneously pressing a kiss to Ife's temple. "When we get home we can have some hot cocoa before it's time for your nap, munchkin."
Ife seemed to accept that and rested her head against his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"I was thinking," Sam said as they walked down the trail, "that maybe we should make visiting here a monthly thing."
"I'd like that."
She looked up to find his dark gaze on her, his eyes warm and soft. She'd briefly wondered if he would be okay with that considering the place held special memories of him and Charlie, but one look at his face told her all she needed to know. "Yeah?"
He smiled at her, dimples and all, his grip on her tightening momentarily, "Yeah. It'll be good for Ife and hell, I'm gonna need the exercise now that I'm out of the field."
Somehow, she doubted it. He'd probably end up chasing recruits in his training scenarios – he wasn't one to sit still, after all.
"Maybe," he said softly, "Ife can become a Junior Ranger in a few years."
Her breath hitched and she snuggled a little closer, burying her nose in the crook of his shoulder and pressing a soft kiss against his neck. "I'm sure she'll like that."
Their walking made it impossible to stay pressed up together and after a moment he pulled slightly back, a small smile playing around his lips. "And hey," he said lightly, "just think how much less awkward it's going to be calling this the Garden of the Gods with the Goa'uld gone."
"They're not all gone," she replied, recognizing his need to change the subject and letting him. "Yet."
"Yet." He parroted. "Well, I'm pretty sure Bra'tac and his Rebel pals will take care of the rest of them soon enough."
Sam nodded, although she wasn't sure she agreed with the plan. Sure, the Jaffa were champing at the bit to get rid of all the Goa'uld after seeing how easily the Asgard destroyed the System Lords, but they still needed symbiotes to survive. "Hopefully, Teal'c and Bra'tac can temper them a bit until the Nox and Tollan can find a substitute for their need for symbiotes."
Jack grimaced at the mention of the symbiotes, never having been a fan. "I suppose there's that."
She hmmed noncommittally and reached out to caress Ife's cheek after realizing their daughter had fallen asleep in Jack's arms. "Guess our little hike really wore her out."
"Good thing the truck isn't that far away."
They arrived at the parking lot a few minutes later and Sam unlocked the truck so that he could place Ife in her car seat while she put their backpack away. When she rounded the vehicle to reach the passenger side Jack just finished strapping Ife in and turned around to face her, smirking. Reaching out, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and let his fingers linger on her cheek.
Sam closed her eyes at the touch and leaned into his hand as he moved to cup her cheek. The warmth of his palm spread through her body and suddenly she no longer felt cold. He tugged her a little closer with his free hand on her hip and she readily fell into his embrace, wrapping her arms around him.
"So, today was fun," he muttered into her hair.
Smiling, she tilted her head back to look at him. "It was."
He smirked, "Now that Hammond's approved my request to transfer out of the field, we'll have more time to do stuff together as a family. I mean, neither of us will be working nine to five, but at least there won't be regular off-world missions for me."
"You'll probably be flying a desk for the next few weeks."
"Yeah, until the training program is definitive I'll just be haunting the base corridors or something."
She snuggled a little closer and voiced an idea that had been on her mind since talking to her brother a while back. "I was thinking, with my Dad's birthday coming up, maybe we could take some leave and go to Arlington to pay our respects. Mark could join us there and I could finally introduce you."
Jack quirked a brow, "Ooh, meeting the family? Guess things are really getting serious now."
"I'm just kidding," he said, squeezing her hip. "I'd love to go."
Sam reached up and pressed her lips to his, smiling into the kiss. "Thank you."
The contact was light at first but then he slid a hand in her hair and exerted a little more pressure on her lips. She opened her mouth, blood rushing through her veins as their lips moved against each other. A moan escaped her when he traced his tongue along the seam of her mouth, silently requesting entry. Desire bolted down to her core as he took his time exploring her mouth and she tightened her grip on his coat. Tongues tangled together, lips glided wetly against each other and soon they were running out of breath.
"Maybe," Jack said, panting as they broke apart, "we should follow our daughter's example and take a nap of our own when we get home."
"Maybe," Sam smirked and took a step back, creating more space between their bodies, "we shouldn't waste our time sleeping."
He wiped his fingers over his mouth, eyes nearly black. "Maybe we should stop wasting time altogether and get the hell home already."
She chuckled as he nearly ran to the driver's side of the truck and pulled open the passenger door to get herself settled. "That sounds like a plan."
Bar and Grill Downtown
Colorado Springs, CO
February 11, 2000
The place was packed with military and civilians, all from the SGC, and the occasional alien. Jack was surprised at the turnout but Hammond had reassured him there were still plenty of people on base in case of emergency. With the defeat of the System Lords, the chance of an attack by the Goa'uld was unlikely, though. The aliens' feudal system was on the brink of collapsing with all the major players gone and their power-hungry nature was rearing its ugly head. According to the latest reports from Bra'tac's rebel pals the Goa'uld were in a disarray, fighting and killing each other while a lot of their Jaffa were starting to question their godhood, with some turning towards the Rebel Jaffa already.
Jack figured that was good enough reason for a party but everyone at the SGC had insisted on a disbandment party to celebrate SG-1's accomplishments instead. He didn't really like being in the limelight but… "Didn't you promise there'd be cake?"
"I did," Sam said, grinning. "And there is."
He peered around, gaze moving over the crowd but there was no sign of a cake. There were plenty of friendly faces though, people he'd worked, fought and died with over the past four years. And after everything, they were all still here – and the System Lords had been blown to oblivion. He let his eyes settle on Sam, his heart beating a little faster over the way she was looking at him and he found he was most grateful that she was still there, after everything she had gone through. Who'd have thought this was where they'd end up two and a half years ago? Standing side by side in another bar and grill, their little girl at home with Cassie babysitting and SG-1 going their separate ways…
Daniel stumbled into him before straightening up and smiling goofily – definitely tipsy already. "This is a great party!"
"The celebrations are indeed well organized and most enjoyable," Teal'c, who'd followed Daniel with their tray of drinks, said, showing a rare smile.
"I thought you didn't have anything to do with it?"
Jack could tell from the look Sam was giving him that she hadn't believed him the first time he said it and wouldn't buy it now either. Damn. "Well, I may have given Walter some instructions."
She chuckled and took two beers off Teal'c's tray, handing him one and taking a sip from the other herself. "The bunting is very you."
"I told him no bunting," he said, scowling at the decorations on the wall.
"O'Neill, did you instruct Sergeant Harriman to include baked goods as well?"
"I did," Sam said.
Jack looked over his shoulder to follow Teal'c's line of sight and let out a contented sigh at the cake that was being brought to the center of the room. He held up his beer and quirked a brow, "Ahh, beer and cake. My two favorite foods."
Walter called for everyone's attention but to Jack's surprise it was Hammond who stepped up and turned in their direction. "I would like to thank three of the finest men I've ever met for their efforts in keeping everyone safe. They went above and beyond the call of duty and have shown us what true loyalty, bravery and fearlessness are…"
Sam leaned into Jack's side as Hammond continued, talking about the first time he met them, mentioning some of their accomplishments – although censored because they were in public – and how they had changed over the years and the effect they'd had on others. It was a nice speech, Jack thought. A little too long for his taste but then he'd never been one for speeches.
Everyone erupted in cheering, applause and some of the Marines were whistling when Hammond concluded his speech. "Now, I believe Colonel O'Neill has been waiting impatiently all night for a slice of this wonderful cake," Hammond said, gesturing at the treat. "It's with great pleasure that I give SG-1 its final order: Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, Teal'c, join me up here and say a few words."
"Speech, speech, speech!" Someone called out.
Jack scanned the room and quickly ID-ed Ferretti as the one calling for a speech. Clearing his throat, he waited until everyone looked at him to speak. "And my final act as team leader of SG-1 is to give our resident linguist the floor for an obviously much wanted speech. Daniel?"
Daniel stumbled forward as Teal'c gave him an unceremonious shove in the right direction. "Oh, well, um…" He stammered a little and took his glasses off, fiddling a bit with them, before looking up at the sea of people. "Over four years ago, I was approached by a woman called Doctor Langford…"
Jack caught Sam's gaze as Daniel started at the very beginning of the adventure that brought them all here and shared a smile with her. She'd already been brought aboard Project Giza at the time, he recalled from reading her file. That was a long time ago though, and a lot had happened. He took a swig of beer and wrapped his free arm around Sam's waist, pulling her into his side. She came easily, resting her head on his shoulder while listening attentively to Daniel's story. Jack was only half listening, well aware that he wouldn't be able to top Daniel's speech, and buried his nose in her hair. They hadn't kept their relationship a secret on base per se, but they hadn't flaunted it either – now that he wasn't officially Hammond's 2IC anymore and would soon spend at least seventy per cent of his time training recruits elsewhere, he felt more at ease with showing his affection to Sam among their coworkers.
"… and I'll really miss it," Daniel said. "I won't be gone forever though, as Abydos' ambassador to, um, the SGC, I'll come by regularly and I'll always be available if my expertise is required. I'm just a, er, phone call away."
People chuckled at Daniel's censoring, especially when he cast a furtive glance at the bar. Walter had made a deal with the owner to close the place for their private goodbye party, but the staff weren't from the SGC and even if they were such classified things couldn't be freely discussed in public.
Teal'c took a step forward and easily commanded everyone's attention with his mere presence even before he opened his mouth. He spoke of his decision to change sides and his surprise that he was welcomed – by most – when he returned with Jack. How they'd all fought side by side to defeat a common enemy but that it was now time for him to return to his people. "My people are free and although our ways differ from yours, I learned much from each and every one of you. I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to you all." He bowed deeply, in that customary and almost regal way the Jaffa had, but then he straightened and looked from Hammond to Jack and placed his fist over his heart. "It was an honor serving with you."
As always, Teal'c was brief and to the point. Jack let go of Sam with a final squeeze and walked up to his friend. "The honor was mine, T."
They did the Jaffa forearm shake and clasped the other's shoulder. "We will always remain brothers, O'Neill."
"Yeah, we will," he affirmed. Daniel was one of his best friends as well, but the bond he shared with Teal'c was different. They were true brothers-in-arms, both having seen and done too many despicable things for God and country, albeit in different ways.
Teal'c then moved onto Hammond and saluted in the same way he'd also done on his very first mission as a member of SG-1. The General smiled slightly and returned the salute, despite it not being protocol. "Our door is always open, Teal'c."
Then, all eyes turned to Jack. Grimacing, he made his way over to the center of the room and stepped up next to his CO. He hadn't really prepared anything, mostly because he'd hoped to get away with saying nothing at all. "I'm a man of very few words and since many of you know how much I love speeches, I'll keep this short," he started and looked around the room, at all the attentive men and women surrounding him. He recognized most of the faces from off-world missions, training exercises, briefings, meetings, infirmary stays and just wandering the halls of the SGC. "I wish I could say I didn't owe anything to anyone. But the truth is, I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for the courage and support of each and every one of you.
"The past four years we've seen and done some unimaginable things and I couldn't have asked for finer men and women to have my six." He paused for a moment, glancing at the smiling and relaxed faces surrounding him. It was a side of them he wasn't used to seeing, but he liked seeing his people enjoy themselves after all the sacrifices they'd all made over the years. He glanced at Sam before he continued, "And in conclusion, I'd like to say… that there's cake. Not my idea this time!"
Laughter erupted among the men and women from the SGC, most of them undoubtedly familiar with his sweet tooth, and Hammond beckoned Walter over to do the honors.
Jack managed to get hold of two plates – Walter didn't even ask him if they were both for him – and walked over to Sam, but got stopped along the way by several people thanking or congratulating him with his reassignment. By the time he got to hand Sam her plate, the frosting was starting to look a little sad, but hey, it was cake.
"That was a nice speech," she said around a mouthful of cake. "I also liked Daniel's censored retelling of some of your missions."
He nodded as he shoved a forkful of cake into his mouth. "He's good at that."
"I'm sure the Abydonians will love it," she said. "Cultures like that are usually very fond of storytelling."
Accepting the beer she pushed his way, Jack took a swig to wash away the cake. "Yeah, they're into that sort of thing. I, for one, won't miss Daniel's monologues," he said, just loud enough for Daniel to overhear as he came over to join them.
Daniel rolled his eyes and plopped down on an empty barstool. "Very funny, Jack."
"You sobered up quickly."
"I may have forgotten to eat dinner, the cake helped," he confessed. "I was going over this text SG-"
Jack made a dismissive wave with his hand, "Yeah, yeah. I actually don't want or need to know, not anymore. God, my life will be so much easier now."
Sam scraped off the remainder of her frosting and offered it to Jack – and he gladly took it – while Daniel frowned at the two of them. "Do you want the rest of this slice, Daniel? Might help you feel better."
"That was a nice speech, Jack," Ferretti said as he came up from behind them. Then he looked at Daniel, who was starting to dig into Sam's leftover cake. "You too, Doc."
Dixon and some others followed. "Yeah, those were nice words. Four years, damn. That's a long time," he said.
"So, think we can vacation to Abydos some time, Doctor Jackson?" Casey asked as he took a seat next to Daniel.
"Um, I don't know," Daniel said, looking up. "You'd have to ask permission from the General-"
"Sure Casey, you go vacation in a primitive desert," Ferretti teased, slapping him on the back. "I'm sure the good Doctor can spare you a mastadge and maybe a tent."
Casey patiently waited until they'd all finished laughing to make his comeback, "Hey, I've seen those native girls. And look at Doctor Jackson's wife! I'd gladly suffer heatstroke for a girl like that. Right, Colonel O'Neill?"
Jack chuckled and exchanged glances with Sam, before looking back to the young airman. "Sure they're pretty. But the sand," he made a face, "it gets everywhere."
"Everywhere," Dixon emphasized, as he pointed his beer bottle at Casey. "Shelly and I honeymooned to a tropical beach. Trust me, you don't want that…"
"You'll be staying on this end, right Jack?" Ferretti asked, looking between him and Sam as if to point out their relationship.
He nodded, "Yeah, gonna be training recruits. Don't you worry, Lou, I'll be back with some new kids for you to break in."
"I doubt they'd need much breaking in after you've put them through the wringer, Jack," Dixon said, shaking his head.
"If there'll be any left standing at all," Ferretti chimed in, grinning. Then, he turned serious. "Jokes aside, I think it's a great idea. We need the best of the best, but we rarely have time to prepare them by the time we need them. The Academy or even years in black ops isn't the same."
Dixon waved his beer bottle around again, indicating Sam and Jack. "As you two probably already know, my wife wants to have another kid. So, maybe, by the time number four gets here, I'll be ready to retire from the field as well. Don't suppose you'll need some help getting those recruits in shape, eh?"
Jack shrugged, "Hey, you never know."
"With the Goa'uld gone, the galaxy will be a hell of a lot safer. We'll probably get more teams solely to explore and some geek squads…" Ferretti's eyes widened almost comically as he realized what he said and he sent an apologetic look to Sam, then Daniel, "No offense."
"None taken, Sir," Sam said, smiling.
Before he could reply, Teal'c and Master Bra'tac joined them. Bra'tac had returned to Earth with them from Thor's ship to continue to negotiate an alliance with Earth. He kept in contact with Shen'ems and Moac with one of those little orb thingies. And apparently, he'd decided to come to the party tonight. Jack didn't know who'd gotten the Earth outfit for Bra'tac, but he fit in more than Teal'c usually did with his outlandish clothes.
"Tek'ma'te, Sām," Bra'tac said, holding out his arm to Sam.
She grabbed his forearm and inclined her head, "Tek'ma'te, Bra'tac."
The guys all mumbled a greeting to Bra'tac and Teal'c before leaving their table, probably figuring it was becoming a little too crowded.
The old Jaffa smirked and turned to Jack, "O'Neill."
"Bra'tac, welcome to our little shindig."
"A celebration for your accomplishments, hm?"
"And a, um, goodbye party," Daniel chimed in. "Teal'c is leaving for the Rebel Jaffa and I'm going back to Abydos."
Bra'tac clasped Daniel's shoulder and narrowed his eyes. "Soon, the Goa'uld will be no more. Your wife and the boy need you now."
Jack thought that sounded oddly like approval from the man who thought Jaffa warriors leaving their families to fight a war for their God was normal. Then again, Bra'tac had seen up close what Sha're went through with Amaunet and Apophis, and he'd helped find Shifu. Not to mention how he'd taken care of Jack's own child when Sam and Ife had been living off-world. "Let me guess, Jaffa don't do parties?"
"Once we have defeated all Goa'uld and retaken Dakara, home of the Jaffa, we will celebrate. You may join us to experience a true Jaffa feast."
"That would actually be very interesting," Daniel said, in that wondrous tone of voice he had.
Bra'tac simply inclined his head and turned back to Jack. "Teal'c tells me you will be a warrior no more."
Jack shrugged indifferently. "I suppose you could say that. The back and knees aren't all that anymore, you know."
"You will become Sbai, hm?"
"It means wise man," Sam supplied when Jack turned to her for clarification. "A teacher or instructor."
Teal'c seemed to agree, "All Jaffa Masters are Sbai."
Jack exchanged a quick and surprised glance with Daniel, before nodding in response to the Jaffa Master in front of him. "Um, yeah, I guess. Someone's got to teach the recruits who to piss off and how to charm their way out of danger."
"Indeed," Bra'tac said, eyes crinkling. "Before, old warriors would die for lack of a new prim'ta. Now, perhaps the experienced warriors can guarantee chal'tii are well prepared for a life without false gods."
"That sounds like a plan."
Bra'tac smirked and clasped Jack's forearm. "You accomplished what we could not, O'Neill. And for that the Rebel Jaffa owe you a debt of gratitude."
Jack returned the gesture, "It was a team effort, really. But hey, I'll take what I can get."
"Hmm." Bra'tac huffed and turned to Sam. "Tomorrow you will bring the sefi before I take my leave, hm?"
"I will," she said. "Ife's excited about seeing you again."
The old coot actually smiled, clearly Ife had wrapped him around his little finger too, Jack thought. Sam had already discussed it with him and he'd agreed to take Ife to see Bra'tac. Hammond had approved the visit as well, which could coincide with a check-up by Fraiser in the infirmary. The initial request from the old Jaffa Master had surprised Jack before reminding himself that Bra'tac had taken care of Ife since before she'd been born.
"Master Bra'tac, Teal'c." General Hammond joined their table and nodded in greeting to the others. "I believe it's time we return to the SGC to finalize our treaty agreement."
The two Jaffa and Hammond all bade them goodnight, leaving just Sam and Daniel with him. "We should probably go mingle," he muttered.
Sam smiled brightly at him, her blue eyes practically shining with mischief. "Actually, I just spotted a pool table over there. Do you want a rematch?"
It took him a moment to realize she was referring to the night they met for the first time. A grin broke out on his face at the challenge, "Yeah sure, you betcha."
"We'll be back later, Daniel," Sam said, before pushing off the barstool and heading into the direction of the pool table.
Jack heard Daniel say something about catching up with someone but he wasn't paying much attention, his focus on the woman he was following and the way her hips swayed. She was wearing jeans and they drew attention to her long legs and perfect ass. She turned around to hand him a cue stick, smirking as if she knew exactly where his gaze had been lingering. "I haven't played in years," he admitted, not since that night.
"I've been told it's just like riding a bike." Her tone was flirtatious but low enough that it was clearly for his ears only.
He couldn't help but watch her as she took up position. The low light brought out the gold in her locks and the way the jeans stretched over her ass… He cleared his throat and tore his gaze away, quickly scanning the room to see if anyone had noticed him blatantly checking her out. Not that there was anything wrong with it, they were together after all. Most of the personnel were off to the sides, but they were definitely being watched. Sighing, he returned his attention to the pool table, only to find her blue eyes settled on his face.
Sam quirked an eyebrow. "You gonna stand there observing everyone all night or do you wanna play a game?"
A/N: That is it! The Survival Series has come to an end, after about a year and a half. Wow. I could not have foreseen it would take me this long to finish writing it, although I knew from the start that it would be four parts, each taking the place of a season from the show. It turned out better than I'd hoped and I couldn't have done it without my awesome beta, Amara D'Angeli, and all my faithful readers and reviewers. A huge thank you to all. I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did. I would love to hear from you, good or bad.
On another note: don't forget to nominate your favorite fanworks (fanfiction, fanart, fanvids) for the Sam and Jack Multimedia Awards! The nomination period is open through October 15th. You can submit noms and check out past nominees/winners on samandjackawards dot com.