The commissary had been relatively quiet when Sam and Janet went for a late lunch as most of the personnel had already eaten. But as they lingered at their table, a couple of medical staff and an off-world team came in, talking loudly amongst themselves. Janet leaned in a little more as Sam quietly updated her about the twenty-week check-up at her obstetrician that morning.
"I can't believe you've already hit the half-way mark," Janet said, smiling at the sonogram. "Look at how perfect he is."
Seeing how much her baby had developed since her last ultrasound had been amazing and Sam hadn't been able to stop smiling afterwards. "Or she," she corrected.
"And you're doing well, too?"
"Doctor Rosenberg wants me to increase my calorie intake and eat more iron-rich food, but other than that she said I'm doing great."
Janet cast a look at her half-eaten plate and the fruit salad she'd been toying with. "And I can tell you've taken her advice to heart."
"Actually, I have," she said, smirking. "This is my fourth meal of the day, not including the spinach smoothie I got on my way over to the mountain. I wasn't sure how long you'd be in surgery, so I already had a salad around eleven hundred. Sorry."
"Don't be. You need the food and there really was no telling how long I'd be… I can't wait until Warner is back."
Sam popped a grape into her mouth and raised a brow, "Is he still at that medical conference?"
Nodding, Janet lifted her cup of coffee. "Due back by the end of the week. Not a day too soon."
"Too thin," she confirmed. "But what else is new, right?"
"Just two more days."
Janet was sipping her coffee when SG-1 – minus the Colonel – entered the commissary. "Well, at least they have been setting a good example for the other teams. Far less injuries than usual, lately."
When Sam turned in their direction, Daniel waved at them and he and Teal'c came over after a quick word with Lieutenant Isaacs. "Hey guys."
"Hi," Daniel said, before taking the seat next to Sam.
Teal'c inclined his head, "Major Carter, Doctor Fraiser."
Janet gestured at the chair next to her. "Take a seat."
"Is Lieutenant Isaacs going to join us as well?" Sam asked, glancing over at where the Lieutenant was standing in line.
"Um yes," Daniel said, "he's getting our food. Jack had to give Hammond an update, so he'll be here soon as well."
Teal'c wordlessly commandeered two chairs from a nearby table before he sat down next to Janet. He looked to Sam, apparently anticipating her question, "Our mission was uneventful."
"I figured as much when Walter told me you'd arrived back on schedule," she said.
"We were just talking about you as a matter of fact," Janet remarked, smirking.
Daniel's eyebrows rose up in surprise. "Oh?"
"She thinks you've been setting a good example for the other teams with your uneventful missions lately."
"You disagree, Major Carter?"
Sam shook her head at Teal'c's question, smiling slyly. "I think perhaps General Hammond has assigned you some easy missions, for Lieutenant Isaac's sake."
"Good point," Janet said.
Daniel looked pensively for a moment. "Maybe. There have been a lot of routine ones, lately."
"Pastry strolls, as O'Neill would say."
"Cake walks," Daniel corrected absentmindedly, as he stole a piece of fruit from Sam's bowl. "Oh, hey, how did your appointment go this morning?"
Subconsciously, Sam placed a hand on her belly and beamed at him. "It went really well. The baby is doing great."
Janet slapped at Daniel's hand when he reached for another piece of fruit. "The baby is healthy, but Sam needs to eat more."
"Sorry." He smiled sheepishly, before turning around to check on Isaacs. "I'm hungry."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "I shall assist Lieutenant Isaacs and return immediately."
As Daniel watched Teal'c head towards their teammate, Janet slid the sonogram back to Sam over the table. She took it and traced her baby's face with her finger, still having a hard time believing she had created that tiny human growing inside of her. When she looked up, she found Daniel's curious gaze on her. "Do you want to see the sonogram?" She asked, leaning towards him.
"Of course!" He took it from her and smiled at the clear image of her baby. "That's amazing, Sam."
She reached out and pointed out the little hands and feet. "Almost everything is present already, the baby just needs the next twenty weeks to fully develop them."
"Teal'c," Daniel said as the Jaffa reached them, two trays in hand. "You should see this sonogram of Sam's baby. It's not a, er, regular photograph, but an image created by ultrasonography."
"Similar to what is used to scan for hitchhiking Goa'uld," Janet added, as he reclaimed his seat.
Teal'c placed one of his trays in front of Daniel, keeping the one laden with fruit for himself before he took the offered sonogram. An uncharacteristic, almost tender smile appeared on his face. "This is quite remarkable," he intoned gravely. "May the remainder of your gestation continue in good health, Major Carter, and may your offspring be favored with your stamina and fortitude upon entering this world."
The emotion she heard in his voice was visible in his eyes and she had to swallow against the feelings that welled up inside of her before she could reply. "Thank you, Teal'c. That means a lot."
"Major Carter, Doctor Fraiser," Lieutenant Isaacs said, as he joined their table. "Uh, Ma'ams."
Sam didn't know the man very well yet but really, all that mattered was that he watched her team's six – and he hadn't gotten them in any serious trouble yet. Before joining SG-1 she hadn't known the true importance of building strong bonds among teammates and she was well aware that the guys, especially the Colonel, would continue to treat Isaacs as a temporary teammate if they feared she felt threatened by him. They all had a part to play and hers was not excluding him from impromptu team get togethers or it might result in problems in the field. If she decided to return to SG-1 after her baby was born, the Lieutenant would still be her placeholder for the next six months after all. She fought the urge to roll her eyes at his stammering and instead smiled at him. "Take a seat, Lieutenant."
"Thank you, Ma'am," he said, smiling broadly. "Uh, Colonel O'Neill said he would be here soon."
"So, Sam," Daniel started, in between taking bites of his meatloaf. "Have you heard anything from your dad yet?"
She made a face and noticed Janet and Teal'c looking up from going over the sonogram together, as well as Isaacs looking in her direction. "We received a message from the Tok'ra yesterday. My message has been relayed to him but he's currently still undercover. It will probably be a few more weeks before he can drop by."
"Did you mention-"
"I didn't mention specifics in my message," she said, cutting Daniel off. Telling her dad about her pregnancy and its circumstances was going to be difficult enough; she was not going to reveal the news in an encrypted message while he was lightyears away. "I just asked him to contact me."
"Did you tell him it was urgent?"
Frowning, she turned more fully towards him. "Why?"
Daniel let that sink in for a minute, before giving her a sheepish look. "Guess it's not really something that requires his immediate attention…"
Janet chuckled as she handed Sam the sonogram back, "That baby will arrive whether or not Jacob Carter knows about it."
"Jacob Carter," Lieutenant Isaacs repeated slowly. "He's the Tok'ra liaison, right? And your father, Major Carter?"
"Yeah, my Dad was a retired two-star who joined them about three years ago, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer." She frowned, recalling the mission. "We'd just met the Tok'ra and wanted an alliance to fight the Goa'uld together, but they had a more immediate problem in that they required a host for a Tok'ra whose host was dying."
Isaacs' fork froze mid-air. "So, he's really got one of those things in his head?"
Daniel jumped in when Sam nearly choked on her juice. "Um, if by 'one of those things' you mean a two-thousand-year-old Tok'ra symbiote, yes."
"Isn't that… you know," the Lieutenant shrugged, "weird?"
"It takes some getting used to," Sam settled on. He wasn't wrong, it had been strange, unsettling even in the beginning. But it was either losing her dad or possibly saving him and brokering an alliance at the cost of rarely seeing him. Besides, like her dad had said, it was one hell of an assignment for an old soldier. It wasn't something that was really talked about, though – it was simply a fact that Jacob Carter was the liaison to the Tok'ra.
Daniel seemed to take pity on Isaacs, who looked like he still had questions and started telling him more about the alliance with the Tok'ra and how they differed from the Goa'uld.
Sam was relieved with his interference and checked her watch, figuring now was as good a time as any to retreat to her lab. After exchanging a look with Janet, she pushed her chair backwards and announced she had to get back to work. Janet also started collecting her things and offered to walk with her. Sam slipped the sonogram into her jacket pocket, grabbed her tray and said her goodbyes, while Janet followed.
"He seems like a good kid," Janet said, as they left the commissary. "Just not… very experienced in the art of diplomacy."
Snorting, Sam shook her head. "It's fine. I know it must sound weird to newcomers, I just don't feel like talking about it."
They stopped for the elevator and Janet swiped her card through the reader. "Does it bring back memories of Jolinar?"
"That too," she admitted. Not actual memories belonging to Jolinar, but ones of when she forcefully took Sam as a host. But even if that hadn't been the case, she simply didn't feel comfortable talking about her private life – her family – with people she didn't know well.
The doors to the elevator opened to reveal Colonel O'Neill, two scientists and an SF. "Carter! Just the person I was looking for," the Colonel said, beckoning her in.
Sam and Janet waited until the others got off the elevator before joining him. "Sir."
"Yes, Sir," Janet affirmed.
The Colonel hit the buttons for levels nineteen and twenty-one and smiled at them. "So, what did I miss while SG-1 was out exploring planet Boring?"
Janet shrugged. "The usual, Sir. No casualties, not even an outbreak of any kind. SG-12 and -16 came in hot this morning, though."
"I heard," he said. "Hammond said they're okay?"
"Lieutenant Woeste has a mild concussion and has to stay overnight. Colonel Reynolds wasn't as lucky and needed surgery, but he'll make a full recovery."
The Colonel nodded and turned to Sam when they reached level nineteen. "Our stop."
They said their goodbyes to Janet, got out and headed for her lab. "I've been working on a couple of simulations to determine what Tollana's fate is."
"Think they survived that attack, Carter?"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out, Sir," she replied. "I've processed all the information SG-1 gave us and what we know about Goa'uld motherships… I won't bore you with the details, Sir."
He smirked and bumped her shoulder with his as they rounded the corner. "That's why you're my favorite, Carter."
Rolling her eyes, she got out her card to unlock her lab door. "Yes, Sir."
"I had to update Hammond about the most boring mission ever," he said as he followed her inside.
"I know, the guys told me."
"Oh." He stopped at the workbench, fingers tapping on the edge, while she went around it and logged into her computer. "Took forever to get cleared in the infirmary."
She nodded absentmindedly. "They're understaffed."
"Yeah, Hammond's working on it."
"Good." She looked up from her screen and found him watching her. "Was there anything else? Sir."
The Colonel stilled, fingers no longer tapping and he glanced away briefly. "So, um… you had an appointment this morning?"
Surprised, she simply stared at him for a moment. "Oh, yes. It went well."
"Good," he said, nodding. "Baby doing okay?"
"Yes, Sir." She couldn't help but smile and looked down, placing a hand on her abdomen. "Everything in order."
He returned the smile, dimples showing. "That's excellent news, Carter."
She held his gaze and felt a fluttering in her stomach that had nothing to do with her baby, but everything to do with the way he was looking at her. He was the first to look away and she cleared her throat, "Yes, Sir."
"So, boy or girl?"
"I don't know yet."
Frowning, he started tapping his fingers again. "I thought they could tell that on their fancy ultrasound machines nowadays?"
She nodded, "They can-"
"Huh, I would've thought you of all people would want to know. Be prepared and stuff."
"The baby wasn't cooperating," she said, making a face. "Doctor Rosenberg tried to check several times but…"
The Colonel smirked as she trailed off. "Stubborn, eh? Wonder where the kid gets that from?"
Sam gamely rolled her eyes at his teasing, although she was mostly relieved by his seemingly genuine interest. "Really, 'the kid', Sir?"
"Well, boy or girl is out. Briefly considered 'Junior'," he said, grimacing at the nickname he used for Teal'c's symbiote.
"With all due respect, Sir, you will not be referring to my child as 'Junior'."
"Baby Carter is such a mouthful. Mini-Carter?" he continued, as if she hadn't spoken. "Figured 'kid' was the best option."
She moved to take a seat when she experienced a brief stabbing pain at her hip and hissed. "Oomph."
"Carter?" The Colonel moved around the bench before she could even react and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay? Is the baby okay?"
"Yeah," she said, through gritted teeth. Reminded of her obstetrician's advice earlier that day, Sam took a deep breath and rubbed at her belly. "I'm fine. It's just my ligaments."
He gave her a few seconds to get her breathing under control before gently squeezing her shoulder to get her attention. "Are you sure? I can call the Doc."
Reaching up, she briefly patted his hand to reassure him and lowered herself on the lab stool. "It's okay, Colonel. Honestly. It's nothing to worry about. Doctor Rosenberg said it's perfectly normal."
"You talked about this with your obstetrician?" He asked, leaning against the workbench. "So, this has happened before?"
"Just a few times over the past two weeks."
He frowned at her. "And you didn't think to mention this before?"
Taken aback, she raised a brow at him. "I didn't realize I had to disclose all my pregnancy discomforts. Sir. But if you want, we can start with my bladd—"
"Okay, okay," he said, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "I didn't mean… It's just-Sheesh, you scared the crap out of me, Carter. I thought something was wrong."
"Sorry." His concern was actually kind of touching, she thought. "The ligaments supporting my uterus get stretched to accommodate the increasing weight now that I'm getting bigger."
Smirking, he glanced down at where her BDU jacket was practically straining over her belly. "Really? I hadn't noticed."
She huffed a little laugh and tugged at the jacket, trying to pull it down a bit further. It tended to bunch up a little when she sat down – soon, she'd have to switch to a bigger size. As she straightened the jacket, she was reminded of the sonogram in her pocket and carefully pulled it out, flattening it on the workbench. When she looked up at him he quirked an eyebrow, gaze briefly dropping to whatever it was she held under her palms. "It's the sonogram," she said softly, carefully watching his face. "Do you want to… I mean, it's okay if you don't want to but I showed the guys and I don't want you to thi-"
"Gimme that, Carter" he said, holding out his hand.
Slowly, she uncovered the sonogram and reached out, placing it in his warm palm. His gaze fell on the image and she bit her lip, nervously watching him or a reaction.
The Colonel was quiet for a moment, completely focused on her sonogram. A smile appeared on his face and he almost reverently traced a finger over the outline of her baby. "Well, will you look at that," he said softly, briefly glancing up at her with a warm look in his eyes. "Pretty damn near perfect, Sam."
"Thank you, Sir." She felt herself flush and ducked her head, smiling. His reaction was unexpected and while she hadn't been sure how he'd react to the sonogram – if he even wanted to see it – looking at it tenderly and touching the picture much in the way she had, hadn't been it.
"Here," he handed it back to her. "Should get it framed."
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him if that was what he did, but his son wasn't something they talked about and she wasn't even sure if they had similar sonograms fifteen years ago. Instead, she took the sonogram, propped it up against her monitor and smiled at him. "Maybe I will."
"Well, I should probably get to the commissary," he said, after a beat. "Before all the good stuff is gone."
He'd almost turned around when he swiveled back on his feet, casting a speculative glance in the direction of her abdomen. "You're sure you're okay though?"
Touched by his concern, she rubbed at her belly. "The ligaments only protest on occasion, usually when I change position too quickly or at the end of a long day. I just need to be more careful."
He nodded slowly, as if weighing her words. "And Doctor Rosenberg said you were otherwise fine?"
Avoiding his gaze, she turned to her computer. "Yes, Sir."
"Honestly, I'm fine," she said, turning back to face him. "She just wants me to gain a little weight and make sure I eat more iron-rich food. "
He gave her a critical onceover and nodded, seemingly satisfied with her answer. "Okay, but I want you to take it easy. I can talk to Hammond about your hours if-"
"Really, that won't be necessary, Colonel," she said, interrupting him.
"Okay." He pushed off the workbench and walked around it. "Let me know if that changes, Carter."
She rubbed her belly, smiling as she felt the baby move and looked at him in earnest. "I will, Sir. I promise."
With a final nod, he turned around to leave her lab and Sam settled in to put her focus on the simulations she'd been running.
It was late in the afternoon when Jack passed by the house on his way back from dropping Cassie off at a friend's house for a sleepover. It took another five minutes before it really registered in his brain and he made a mental note to tell Carter about it. From the glimpse he got driving by it kinda looked like the type of house she said she wanted.
He looked up at the rearview mirror but couldn't see it anymore and he wasn't familiar enough with the area to know the address. The For Sale sign had caught his eye, but he hadn't looked beyond that. Even if managed to describe the area close enough for Carter to find, what else could he really tell her about it?
Glancing at the dash, he noted the time and decided he might as well turn back to check it out. It wasn't as if he had anything pressing to do. Fifteen minutes later he'd made his way back to the house and pulled up to the driveway. He rummaged about in the glove department for a pen and piece of paper and got out of his truck to write down the contact information.
Up close, he could tell the house probably needed a bit of renovating, although the outside looked decent enough. There were two broken shingles on the ground and he wouldn't be surprised if there was some damage on the roof. It had probably been a while since any major home improvements. Knowing Carter, she probably also wanted double-glazed windows and Jack couldn't really blame her. She had said she wouldn't mind a house that needed a little work, though.
Just as he was making some additional notes about his observations, the front door opened and an elderly man with a cane in hand stepped out. The man waved at him and Jack nodded, patiently waiting until he reached him.
"You interested in the house, son?"
Jack figured the man had barely two decades on him but bit his tongue. "Um, yeah, maybe. Jack O'Neill."
"Harold Brown." His handshake was firmer than Jack expected. "Well, come on then. I'll show you around."
"Oh, uh, that won't be necessary."
The man frowned. "Of course it is. Have you ever bought a house before, son? You can't just look at it from the outside, you know."
"Yeah, sure, okay." Jack figured a quick tour wouldn't hurt – and this way he could tell Carter more about the house and if she wasn't interested, then she wouldn't have to waste her time. "Just thought I could come back another time."
"You're here, I'm here." He shrugged. "Neither of us is getting any younger."
Jack gestured for him to lead the way and followed.
"Or is the missus waiting at home, Jack?"
"Nah, I've got time."
Old man Brown gestured at the roof. "Some of the shingles were displaced a few months ago, but I'm too old to get up there."
Jack followed him inside, noting the dark colors on the walls. Carter wouldn't like that, he thought. She'd want something lighter. He smiled as an image of her in overalls wallpapering the entryway popped into his head, but quickly shook it off. They moved into the family room, larger than his own and definitely larger than hers. She would like the fireplace, but it would have to be childproofed. That wasn't too difficult though – he'd done it himself when Sara was pregnant with Charlie.
The furniture was dated but the room itself looked to be in good condition. The wallpaper showed some discoloration, probably from years of smoking if the pipe on the coffee table was any indication. Jack took a deep breath but fortunately the expected stale smell was only faintly noticeable – getting rid of the carpet, curtains, furniture and wallpaper should do the trick.
"My late wife always complained of my smoking cigars and pipe," Harold Brown said, as he gestured at an open window. "Even now, I still keep the window open."
They moved onto the kitchen, which was pretty old-fashioned – bland colors, lots of dark wood, faded flowery curtains – and the lack of natural light due to two small windows made it seem small. The refrigerator and freezer hummed loudly and from the looks of it were probably close to two decades old. There was a crack in the counter top and no sign of a dishwasher or a microwave. Carter's lack of culinary skills were infamous at the SGC and Jack wasn't sure she knew how to cook a meal without a microwave. The kitchen would definitely need an upgrade.
The owner indicated a door almost hidden at the back of the kitchen. "Through there is the laundry room. One of the pipes burst last winter though."
Jack took the liberty of checking out the room and noticed a lone washer. No dryer and no rack to hang clothes on to dry. There was some staining low on the wall and it smelled a bit dank, likely from water damage. "Did you fix the pipe?"
"What, you think I use this cane for fun?" He harrumphed and pushed him aside, walking over to the washer. "I turned off the water and haven't used the washer since. My youngest cleaned the place up but he's got no business fixing pipes – two left hands, didn't get them from me. He's a paper pusher at a company in Denver and couldn't fix a pipe if I gave him instructions. My eldest son isn't as bad but lives in Florida. No, my daughter picks up my laundry every week at Sunday dinners."
Mold could be more of a problem than refitting a pipe. Jack didn't know how extensive Carter's DIY skills were but there were plenty of people on base capable of fixing it for her if necessary. Jack jotted it down in his notebook as a reminder.
"There's a basement down these steps. We outfitted it for the grandkids, but they all have their own lives now. One's got two kids of her own, even. Go ahead, check it out."
He went down the steps and flicked the light on. It was a big space, divided into three rooms. Two looked like bedrooms with a couple of old bunkbeds, two desks, a couple of chairs and a bookcase. The other was a small bathroom in need of a good scrub with a low sink, toilet and shower. He doubted Carter would pop out a couple of more kids to require all the room, but he figured she could easily transform the basement in her own little workshop.
The owner was waiting for him at the kitchen table when he came back. "Do you want a drink, son?"
"No, thanks. I'm good."
The formal dining room had a classic design and furniture but didn't look lived in. Jack figured the old man had his Sunday roast and every other dinner at the table in the kitchen. The china in the cabinet probably hadn't been used in years. The room was clean, though. No layers of dust or fingerprints on the glass surface of the table. Upon a closer look, he noticed some scuff marks on the floor near the chairs and the leather on the seats had some wear and tear. Even so, the room appeared well maintained and it wasn't like Carter would buy the furniture.
There was another bathroom near the staircase. Slightly bigger than the one in the basement and cleaner. Another room next to it was used for storage, but Jack could easily picture as Carter's study. The staircase was creaky and it took the old man a while to get upstairs. The master bedroom was pretty spacious but didn't have a connected bathroom. There was some damage to the doorpost and the wallpaper needed replacing.
"There are three more bedrooms," Harold Brown said. "Our two boys shared one and our daughter had the one next to the bathroom. This one was originally the guestroom but it turned into my wife's, she always said she couldn't sleep through my snoring."
The last one had large windows and the old faded curtains were pulled aside, letting a lot of natural light in. Ideal for a nursery. The other two bedrooms had some more everyday use damage and there were carvings in both doorposts.
"My wife used to mark our kids' heights," Harold Brown said, a small smile on his face. "MIght have been better if she'd used the wall rather than the doorpost."
Jack thought it was a nice touch, a sign of a family home. It reminded him of his son and how excited Charlie had been when Sara would tell him how much he'd grown over the summer. He briefly wondered if Carter would create a similar tradition with her kid.
The upstairs bathroom was similar to the downstairs one. A bit small for a family of five, but more than enough for a single parent with an infant. There were a couple of built-in closets and cupboards that were in need of repairs, an unhinged door and some of the window frames appeared to be rotting. The bare bones of the house seemed to be in order though, as far as he could tell at first glance.
The owner steered him in the direction of a rickety ladder to access the attic, but Jack only popped his head in for a quick look.
"The last renovation… I think it was the seventies," Harold Brown said, as they sat down at the kitchen table. "After the children moved out, I believe."
Overall, the house was a bit dated and in need of renovations but nothing too serious, in Jack's opinion. Then again, he wasn't the one who was twenty weeks' pregnant and he had no idea how much money or time Carter was planning to invest into her new place.
"So, son, are you always this enthusiastic or is there something on your mind?"
"Just thinking about the possibilities, required repairs, and timing. There's only a couple more months at most before renovations will be too much to handle. I mean, I can help but…" Jack trailed off, realizing he'd said too much. He shot a glance at Harold and sheepishly admitted, "It's—a friend is looking, actually."
The owner nodded knowingly. "A lady friend?"
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "A good friend."
"Well, why don't you give your girl a call and get her over here so she can take a look for herself."
Jack didn't bother correcting him and got out his cellphone. He waited impatiently for her to answer after hitting the speed dial for Carter. When she did it was with a "Colonel O'Neill?" and it threw him for a moment, expecting her to answer with her own name. "I think that's my line."
He could hear her smother a laugh. "Caller ID, Sir."
"Right." He turned around and walked into the family room for some privacy. "Look, this may sound a bit… odd, but I drove past a house that I think you might like. It has a big FSBO sign outside, couldn't miss it."
"Oh, no realtor involved?"
"Nope." Jack gave her the address and gave her a brief summary of the house, including the asking price. "See, I was listening when you and T went on and on about your house hunting the other day."
"I never doubted it, Sir," she replied cheekily.
"It needs some work, though. Hasn't been renovated in about thirty years."
He could hear her write down some notes on the other end before she spoke again. "It wouldn't hurt to take a look, I guess."
"Yeah, about that…" Jack winced, not sure what to expect. "I'm standing in the family room at the moment and the owner would love to meet you, Carter."
He frowned, trying to recall if she'd mentioned anything about her plans for the weekend. "If you have the time, of course."
"No, it's fine. My chess game with Cassie got canceled, so…"
"Because of the sleepover," he said, nodding. "Cassie asked me to drive her since the Doc has to work. So, how about it, Carter?"
"I'll be there in twenty minutes, Sir."
Jack rejoined Harold at the table and told him Carter was on her way. They talked a bit more about the house and Harold told him how he was getting too old to live on his own, the house was too big for just him and while there were many good memories, there were also the bad memories of his wife's long deathbed.
"My children have tried to persuade me to sell ever since my wife died. My sons think I should go to a retirement home, but my daughter has been begging me to move in with her for a few years now," he continued. "And after that pipe business and all the snow this winter, I figured it was finally time. She and her husband have a big house and two of their kids still live at home. It'll be nice to have some more people around, you know? Get to know my grandkids a bit better."
"Sounds like you made the right decision then."
"And this way my sons will stop telling me it's time to move into an old people's home," he said, chuckling. "My wife always said a son's a son 'til he gets a wife but a daughter is a daughter all her life – and she was right, as usual."
Jack mumbled something appropriate sounding and discreetly checked the time, hoping Carter would show up soon. He wasn't sure how much more small talk he could take. "So," he said, clearing his throat and searching for something relevant. "What's the neighborhood like?"
It took another ten minutes, a long story about the Brown kids' education and some neighborly gossip before the doorbell rang and Harold Brown welcomed Carter into his home. After the pleasantries were over and she was cradling a cup of tea, the homeowner slyly asked whether her husband would be joining them.
"I'm not married," Carter said quickly, one hand resting on her abdomen. Jack wasn't sure if it were the civvies or the past two days but her bump looked bigger than the last time he saw her. "It's just me."
"Ah." Harold threw him a meaningful look, barely refraining from nudging him, but to his relief Carter simply looked amused by the old man. "And a child soon, from the looks of it. Congratulations! How far along are you?"
She practically beamed at the man – and Jack couldn't help but notice the difference compared to a few weeks ago, when her smiles had all been similar to the 'please the natives'-kind upon inquiry about her baby. "Thank you," she said. "Almost twenty-one weeks."
The homeowner turned to him. "And that explains the time constraint you mentioned, yes."
"Speaking of time," Jack said, "maybe we should get started?"
"I'd like to start with the electric panel or the water heater," Carter said, turning to Harold.
He suggested Jack show her the basement where the panel was located, since the steps weren't easy for him to navigate.
Jack took her through the dining room and she took a moment to take it in. He shared his observations about it probably being the best maintained – or least used – room in the house. "The kitchen on the other hand…"
"I'd probably replace the whole thing," Carter agreed. "Maybe even put in some new windows, if possible."
"Bathroom," Jack said as they reached the staircase. "And that space is being used for storage, but would make a great home office."
She peeked inside the bathroom, but entered the storage room and walked around for a closer inspection as best she could. "The bathroom can use an upgrade, maybe retile it too," she said. "And I could easily fit my computers and books in the study."
Down in the basement he showed her the small neglected bathroom and two bedrooms for the grandkids. "Figured you could turn one of them into a workshop for you to tinker around in."
"I'm not sure how much tinkering around I'll be doing once the baby arrives, but it's not a bad idea. How many bedrooms are there, again?"
"Four upstairs," he said. "One a bit smaller than the others. Why?"
She headed for the electric panel and water heater and glanced at him over her shoulder. "Well, aside from my room and the baby's, I want a guestroom – and maybe I can keep one of these rooms in case Mark and his family come over."
"Or the guys," he said. "You know Daniel can barely finish one beer without getting buzzed and Teal'c enjoys a sleepover more than Cassie does."
"Like a team night, you mean?"
Jack shrugged even though she couldn't see it facing away from him to focus on the electric panel. "Why not? Daniel's apartments are always filled with too much crap for anyone to even really live in them, never mind host the team and your apartment is on the small side too."
"I never really considered it, actually," she said. "But you're right."
"And, you know, it would be easier for you and the baby. You wouldn't have to get a sitter or drag the kid to my place."
She threw him a smile and stepped back from the panel. "Good point."
He watched as she moved on to the water heater. "How's the wiring looking?"
"It's dated but seems in order. You mentioned on the phone there's no air-conditioning, right? All the circuits are taken and it would need its own. There aren't any specific labels here and I haven't checked out the garage yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'd need to add another."
"Possibly one more for the study and workshop," he reminded her. "And replacing the kitchen would also require some rewiring."
She nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I don't know yet how extensive the job would be, but I could keep the costs down by doing some of it myself – and Siler and a couple of others also offered their help."
Jack wasn't sure how he felt about her doing the work itself while pregnant, but she was a big girl and would be more aware of the risks than he was so he kept his concerns to himself. "And the heater?"
"Old and needs to be replaced."
They went back upstairs and Jack showed her the family room. "You'll probably need to strip it bare, but look at the space and the big windows. There's plenty of potential."
Carter walked around the room and he knew her well enough to notice her making mental notes about everything she looked at. "Pretty sure it's bigger than my entire apartment," she said, turning back to him. "And I love the fireplace."
"It'll need some childproofing," he said, running his hand over the mantle.
"The whole house does."
He chuckled and followed her over to the windows, looking out over the backyard. "Good point."
"That's a big yard."
It was obvious the yard had seen better days, but the immediate area around the house was well maintained aside from some empty flowerbeds. "Kids need room to play," Jack said. "You could put a swing over there, maybe build a treehouse in that big tree."
"Getting a little ahead of things, Sir," she said, smiling. "I'll have few more years before there's going to be any tree climbing."
"We planted that sycamore when we bought the house," Harold said as he entered the family room. "And a couple of maple trees on the other side of the house."
Carter raised her brows, "No wonder it's so big."
"The trees in front of the house were planted later, when the kids were teenagers, I think. There used to be more, but we cut a couple down and removed a few of them when they got too big. Too dangerous when the weather got bad."
"I'm thinking a backyard barbecue for your housewarming, Carter," Jack teased, as he peered through the door into the yard. He knew she wasn't big on barbecues and, for some reason, didn't enjoy his steaks as much as he did, but it elicited a smile from her.
"I think I should probably see the rest of the house first before deciding on anything, Sir."
Teal'c had told him all about Carter's reaction to the other houses she'd checked out – the big guy insisted on being kept in the loop to be prepared when his support and home improvement skills were needed – and informed him that she was pretty critical. Shocker. But unless she was just being nice, she seemed genuinely interested in Harold Brown's house. Jack had no idea about her budget though and how much she was willing to spend on the renovations.
Harold led the way upstairs and showed her around the bedrooms while telling her about his own children and grandchildren. Jack pointed out the nursery possibility for the room next to the master bedroom and pretty much held his breath for the time it took her to climb the rickety ladder to inspect the attic – and again when she came back down.
The garage, it turned out, was a later addition to the house and in better shape than he'd expected. Carter seemed to approve as well and told Harold all about her Volvo and Indian. Jack reminded her they hadn't looked at the laundry room yet, so they went back through the dining room and kitchen and he could tell she gave both rooms another critical onceover as they passed them. She asked Harold a couple of more questions as she moved through the laundry room and Jack wrote a couple of things down, although he was pretty sure she'd retain the information in that big brain of hers anyway.
"So," Jack said, as they were standing next to her car. "What did you think?"
"I think-" She laughed when her stomach suddenly rumbled loudly.
"How about we discuss it over cake? I passed a diner on my way over here," he suggested.
Carter stopped laughing and her eyes widened. "Sir-"
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged, "It's just cake, Carter. And you did say the Doc told you to eat more."
"I'm pretty sure she wasn't referring to junk food, Sir."
"It's cake," he said. "They probably have some with fruit in it."
She rolled her eyes playfully and a smile tugged at her lips. "Okay, you win."