A/N: Well, what can I say? This is finally it. The last chapter (cue drumroll). Sincerest apologies for the delay, but life has a habit of demanding my attention. My biggest thanks go to Dena for giving me honest, yet constructive comments right from the start. I'll have a beer waiting at the airport for you!

This one's for Sharim.

Disclaimer: Insert humorous yet disclaimer-like comment here. Use your imagination.


Chapter 20: Epilogue

So it was over, Jack mused as he sat in the briefing room, silently half-listening to Major Carter recount the slightly edited version of their somewhat extended visit to P...whatever.

The funny thing was that despite their being practically kidnapped by the Koleians and forced against their will to stay on an alien world, Jack wasn't exactly feeling overly thrilled at being home.

Not to say that he had wanted to stay on Kolei, and it was definitely a good thing to see Daniel alive and well - if somewhat confused by the events of the past few days, but there had been some major perks to being stranded off world with Major Carter - a blatant disregard for frat regulations being top of his mental list.

He watched her now as she sat rigid in her chair, mechanically answering General Hammond's questions. Her demeanour was once of sheer professionalism, but Jack knew that if he could look directly into her eyes right at this moment he would see the truth. After all, after five years of working side-by-side with the Major, he could read her like a card sharp could read opponent's Poker tells.

He also knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that if she was feeling even a tiny bit of what he was feeling right now, then her emotions were on the roller coaster ride of their life.

In the end Josaf had kept to his word. After drying off and dressing accordingly in his-and-hers hand made purple tunics, Jack and Sam had been led into the great hall and dined on a veritable feast of forest vegetation and some slightly furry tasting meat that looked suspiciously like the creatures Daniel had run from only twenty-four hours earlier.

As they walked into the dining area the humans had been greeted by the indescribable sight of over one hundred familiar faces staring right back at them and Jack had found it a little off-putting to try and eat questionable meat out of sheer politeness when seated between Harry Maybourne and the Nox, Lya, who's leaf-covered hair scratched his arm irritatingly whenever she turned her head.

Carter, on the other hand, seemed to be having the time of her life, Jack mused with a scowl, which he quickly turned neutral as Hammond glanced questioningly in his direction. Oh yeah, she'd been enjoying herself all right. In their infinite wisdom, Calies had placed her for the entire meal between Martouf and that Major from engineering that all the women at the SGC seemed to have a crush on.

Carter was now pointing out to Hammond, Teal'c and Daniel in her own multi-syllabic way, that the conversation at the meal had been friendly, the inhabitants of the planet seeming not to even realise that their 'guests' were not used to being stranded on a planet, knocked unconscious, then 'encouraged' to demonstrate human propagation. As such, both officers had decided it to be within the interests of future planetary relations not to inform the Koleians of their social faux pas and instead leave that delicate task up to the more qualified members of SG-15.

After the meal their fatigues, weapons and backpacks had been returned to them without any qualms and they had be led, almost ceremoniously, back to the now visible Stargate which was once again placed in the centre of a sand dune.

"What I don't understand is why they insisted on detaining you and Colonel O'Neill, but allowed Doctor Jackson to return home," General Hammond asked, perplexed.

Jack watched with some measure of amusement as Carter's cheeks coloured slightly and she bowed her head to avoid eye contact. Feeling more than a little guilty that he had left the entire meeting in her hands, he decided to save her from potential embarrassment and field that question himself. Thinking fast, he finally came up with the perfect answer.

"They wanted to see us...procreate, sir," was the reply that had Hammond's eyes bulging out of their sockets, Daniel's mouth hitting the desk and Carter wishing for a well timed black hole to swallow the SGC.

Of course, Teal'c still looked cool and collected. "Why would they wish to observe Tau'ri mating rituals?" he asked without even a smirk.

Jack shrugged nonchalantly. "Because they don't get many visitors, I guess, and they don't need to have...relationships...to reproduce, they just...do it."

"Do it?" Daniel piped up, his interest suddenly piqued.

"They're made mostly of light, Daniel," Sam explained, relieved that she could hide behind science once more. "They're also essentially asexual and although they can take on the form of humans, they rarely actually feel the need." She took a steadying breath. This explanation was a potential minefield and she had the sudden overwhelming urge to kill her commanding officer.

"They took on the physical form of people we knew, but it's not as if they could access that person's mind. They had questions, sir," she said, addressing the General. "They were curious."

"About sex?" Sam nodded.

Hammond rubbed a weary hand across his face. "But why that subject in particular?" he asked with a frown. "Why not about Earth culture, or history? And why you and Colonel O'Neill? Why not you and Doctor Jackson?"

Jack shrugged again. "You got me, General. I guess they were just pervy little guys who liked the look of us."

It was Carter's subtle scowl that shut him up. It was bad enough that they were coming dangerously close to revealing the whole story of their impromptu vacation, but did he have to make jokes about it?

"That's a question I can't answer, sir." Sam murmured. "I'm pretty certain it was just innocent curiosity. They obviously don't have the same stigmas and reservations surrounding procreation that humans do."

Hammond nodded sharply. "Well we'll let SG-15 return there in a month or so for follow-up talks with their leaders. In the meantime, I want reports on my desk ASAP, then you're all due for some downtime. Dismissed."

The four members of SG-1 rose from their seats and began to gather up their paperwork. Daniel made it out of the room first, followed closely by Teal'c who headed for the commissary, mentioning something about having had cravings for ice cream and French fries since he had been away. Jack turned to leave whilst Sam was still sorting her papers into a neat little pile, but Hammond stopped him. "I'd like a word with you both before you leave," he said gravely and Jack stopped dead in his tracks, turning slowly to face the General.


Sit down for a moment Jack," Hammond said politely before dismissing the guards and closing the door behind them. Jack took the opportunity to glance at Sam's face. She had gone a sickly shade of white and was nervously stacking and re-stacking her papers, her eyes intently staring at the pile before her.

Hammond took his seat once more and folded his hands in front of him. "I know this will be a difficult question for you both to answer considering the situation you were put under on Kolei, but I'm afraid I have to know the full story before submitting my report to the Pentagon." He paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts. "I need to know exactly what happened when you were asked to demonstrate human mating rituals."

Sam's shaking hands dropped the pile of paperwork on her desk and cursed silently, whilst Jack just froze for a moment.

"I understand that in order to maintain relations with these people you must have answered their questions in one way or another, but my concern is that, considering your history, you may have both been tempted to take the opportunity to...explore your personal relationship beyond the realm of attraction."

Jack nodded thoughtfully. "I can't in all honesty say it wasn't a temptation, sir," he replied slowly, "but both Carter and I have maintained a professional relationship since the incident with the Zatarc detectors and, despite their interest in our personal feelings, we both managed to avoid incidents of that nature with the Kolieans as well."

Hammond nodded, apparently satisfied with the answer. "Well then, there will be no need to mention any of this in my report and I think the President will be very pleased we have made another ally."

Both Jack and Sam rose respectfully as Hammond left the room, then they turned to face each other.

"Thank you, sir," Sam muttered as she once again gathered up her belongings.

"What for?"

Sam simply smiled in response and moved towards the door. "Carter?" Jack called out as she stepped into the hall. She paused and turned to face him. "Sir?"

He walked over to her and placed his hand on her shoulder, murmuring quietly in case anyone came by. "Do you think we'll ever be able to pick this up again? I mean when this is over."

Sam smiled gently and glanced at the security camera, watching as it slowly moved away from the pair to focus on another part of the hallway. As soon they were out of it's range of vision she reached up and kissed Jack softly on the lips, her eyes closing automatically and her senses coming alive.

"What was that for?" Jack asked shakily as they parted once more.

Sam grinned again. "Consider it a deposit, sir," she replied cheekily. "A down-payment on a certified future."

She turned on her heel and began to walk away, glancing over her shoulder at Jack as she moved. "You do realise," she said loudly, recklessly, not caring if anyone heard as she continued down the corridor, "that a down-payment means you're my property now, don't you?"

She winked brazenly then turned the corner, leaving an astounded Air Force Colonel staring after her.

Jack stayed that way for a few minutes before wandering off in the other direction, whistling happily as he walked.

The end.


Footnote: I want to thank all of you guys for reading this piece of nonsense, and for being so cool as to actually want to read more (of course, the death threats weren't *entirely* necessary...).

I'm glad it's over so I can concentrate on new Stargate projects (not to mention my new passion for CSI...), but I won't deny it's been one hell of a ride!