TITLE: "Threshold"

AUTHOR: Little Red (russiandeptwench@hotmail.com)

RATING: PG

CATEGORY: Sam/Jack. Nothin' but fluff. Future.

SPOILERS: "Heroes"

SUMMARY: Just making sure.

DEDICATION: Tammy. I wrote this for her to get out of fanfic debt, and now owe her fanfic until June.

DISCLAIMER: In haiku:

Stargate isn't mine
And really, that's for the best.
Neither is The Tick.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Just something fun. And perhaps a bit of atonement for all the mean things I do to Sam in other stories. I really didn't write it because of the picture (in fact, this started out as a flashback from something else), but Tammy squealed and beta'd and pointed and made me a dust jacket!

COVER ART: by Tammy (besyd@swbell.net) can be found at: (ff.net is evil and strips anything that remotely looks like a link, so, in code. remove spaces.) http : // sachi. arrr. net / thresholdcover. html


***


"Hey."

Sam spun around, startled to hear his voice in the door when she'd been sure her visitor was Cassandra. She capped the lipstick she'd been applying and set it down, grateful she hadn't dropped it in her lap. "God! Jack! You scared me."

He was already in his dress uniform, cheeks even slightly flushed, and she felt her heart skip rather childishly at how good he looked.

Strangely enough, their attire had been the source of the most indecision surrounding the whole affair once they'd actually decided to go through with it. For awhile the game plan had put them both in uniform, for simplicity's sake more than anything else, until her brother had dug up photographs of their parents' wedding and his wife, Caroline, had offered to try and sew her a replica of her mother's wedding gown. The task had seemed monumental to someone with Sam's domestic ability, but Caroline had been making her own clothes as long as any of the Carters had known her and had promised that she could "whip it up over a long weekend." The sentimentality of the gesture, and the fact that the simple gown was in no way gaudy or otherwise horrid, had won them both over, but the question of whether or not he should forsake the uniform for a proper tux had been debated back and forth for weeks.

Daniel and Teal'c, probably sick of their discussing it more than possessing actual opinions on the matter, had finally turned the tide. Teal'c, in an adorably romantic sentiment, had suggested that the uniform might symbolize what had brought them together.

Daniel thought it would be a nice way for them to thumb their noses at the organization that had kept them apart for so long.

Jack had lobbied hard for getting married in jeans and t-shirts.

He seemed to have slightly revised his stance. "Wow. You look..." he eyed her up and down with mouth slightly agape.

"Caroline does nice work, huh?" She stood up to give him a better view, infinitely pleased at his appreciative expression.

"I'm not sure it's the dress."

She did her best to roll her eyes, but probably failed. She hadn't expected him to have such a sappy side and was yet to develop any functional defenses against it.

"Cassie's going to kill you if she finds you in here," she pointed out instead. "It's bad luck to see me before the wedding."

"Yeah, I know. I didn't exactly sleep on Daniel's couch last night for fun." He winced and made a show of rubbing his neck, and she snorted at the memory of twenty-one-year-old Cassandra Fraiser ordering her former Special Ops 'uncle' out of his own house with all the authority of a three-star General.

"I'll make it up to you," she promised with what she hoped was a seductively raised eyebrow. She had a hard time pulling off sexy when she couldn't stop grinning. She wasn't sure whose idea it was that affianced couples already living in sin should spend their last unmarried night apart -- although she was certain Daniel could tell her if she was really that curious -- but it was definitely a bad one. She'd hardly slept at all, and their bed had felt big and lonely and full of unfounded doubts in his absence that seemed especially silly now that he was standing right in front of her with an equally goofy grin on his face. "If you're not going to go away, sit down while I finish this. Cassie's off looking for something blue to borrow."

For not being an Earth native, she had certainly taken up the planet's wedding traditions with gusto in the role of what would have officially been Sam's maid of honour if they were having more of a big, traditional ceremony than getting married by General Hammond in Jack's -- their -- backyard.

He didn't say any more, and she watched him as well as she could through the mirror while fighting with eyeliner. Perhaps she should have allowed her sister-in-law to do her makeup after all. She had never been good at not stabbing herself in the eye.

"Why'd you sneak in here, anyway?" she asked without turning around. "It's not like you aren't going to see me in ten minutes."

His reflection in the mirror looked up. "Just wanted to make sure you were ready."

"I will be as soon as I finish this," she assured him, rooting around in the bag of makeup either Caroline or Cassie had donated to the cause for the blush she'd tried on the night before. Her heart skipped again as she calculated the approximate number of minutes before she would actually be married to him. The event was supposed to start at three o'clock, but, given the casual nature of the affair, it might take a bit longer to get everyone in place, so-

"No." Suddenly he was standing right behind her, and he dropped a hand on her shoulder. "Ready. To do this. If you want to wait longer... you know I'm okay with that."

The butterflies that had been dancing around frantically inside her for so many weeks that she'd all but forgotten about them left her in a great rush as he smiled down at her, kind and completely serious. Her eyes welled up unexpectedly.

"I'm sure," she told him, her voice suddenly barely a whisper as she grabbed his hand. "I'm ready." She had been the one to hold back for so long, unwilling to believe right away that, with all her imperfections, when he said forever he could possibly mean it.

He bent down to kiss her head, but stopped a few inches away and stood back up, studying her like she was some sort of alien curiosity that she and Daniel hadn't yet explained to him. "I... don't want to mess up your hair," he said, waving a hand at the flowers and curls her sister-in-law had adorned her with earlier. Between that and the makeup, she really didn't look much like herself. It wasn't surprising Jack couldn't figure out where was safe to touch her.

She beckoned him closer and kissed his cheek just shy of his mouth. "I'm glad you came." It felt so right to be doing this with him. She couldn't imagine how terrified she'd be to be marrying anyone else. As strange as it sounded, the fact that she'd been into battle with him more times than she could count and he'd never left her stranded made crossing this threshold seem a lot less daunting.

He hovered over her and she opened her mouth slightly, ready to kiss him properly regardless of what it would do to the color she'd just applied to her lips when an enraged squawk made them jerk apart like they'd been caught doing something horribly wrong.

Three years, and they still had something of a guilt reflex when it came to kissing in front of other people.

"Jack! I told Daniel and Jacob to make sure you didn't sneak in here!" Cassie was in the doorway, all but flailing her arms at them.

As cowed as he ever got in the face of disapproval, Jack backed away from his bride, making excuses, while Sam incurred her own Cassandra-glare by bursting out laughing at the show-down.

"Get! Get!" Cassie insisted, bodily shoving him out the door.

"You've got lipstick...!" Sam called after him, pointing toward her own mouth while Cassie turned a frighteningly maternal glare on her, hands on dress-clad hips.

"Are you ready, then? Everybody's waiting for you."

She tried to sober her laughter but couldn't quite manage it. "Yeah, hang on." She wiped at a bit of color that had escaped her lips with her thumb and stood up.

"Put this on," Cassie said, thrusting something bright and plastic in front of her.

"It's..." she took it from her in order to properly examine the item, "a watch." Not only was it a watch, but it featured some sort of blue cartoon character with antennae and a scarily psychotic grin that she didn't think she had ever seen before.

"Your nephew's letting you borrow it."

"It doesn't really... go with the dress..." Now that she'd gotten started laughing, she was having one hell of a time stopping. She'd be lucky if she didn't crack up when it came time to recite her vows.

"You live here, Sam. I was sort of hard up for things to borrow. It's this or you walk down the aisle holding a tupperware container that General Hammond's daughter packed tuna sandwiches in. Wrist. Now."

With as little actual laughter as she could muster, Sam held out her arm and let Cassie fasten on the timepiece. "Better?"

Cassie spent a moment brushing invisible wrinkles out of Sam's skirt before taking a step back to look her over. Her face relaxed into an almost misty smile.

"You look great. Really."

For a strange instant, Sam felt as though she were the daughter figure, and she had to take a deep breath to keep from slipping into grieving memories of Janet, and of her own mother.

It felt more unfair than usual that neither of them were there.

A tentative knock at the door was followed by her father's voice. "Can I come in yet?" He, too, sounded amusingly afraid of Cassandra. Sam could only imagine what the girl had said to render her father -- two-star general with the healing powers of a Tok'ra symbiote -- afraid to cross her.

"Yes, Jacob, come on in," Cassie welcomed him magnanimously. "She's all yours." The girl -- almost too old now to really be called that anymore -- squeezed Sam's blue-watched hand and nodded towards the door. "I'll be outside keeping an eye on your future husband."

As Cassandra dashed off to terrorize Jack, Sam was left alone in front of her father. He said nothing, only stared at her with an expression she'd rarely, if ever, seen before.

Uneasy in the face of his unusual scrutiny, her voice came out nervous and breathless, sounding almost nothing like the voice she was used to. "How do I look?"

His features broke into a warm, nostalgic grin and, to her slight horror, he looked like he was fighting back tears. She had seen her father cry exactly twice in her life, and that was nowhere near often enough for her to be used to it.

"Dad?"

"You look beautiful, Sam," he all but whispered. "You look... just like her." He was still smiling sadly at her, and Sam felt her heart squeeze in sympathy. Her almost uncanny physical resemblance to her mother was offset, most of the time, by her short-cropped hair and the oversized duty uniforms she could typically be found in. Despite her ability to completely rewire any kitchen appliance or automobile while balancing a squirming toddler on one hip, the late Beth Carter had almost always dressed in softly feminine blouses and skirts.

"Ready?" Sam asked, putting on a brave smile. She had gotten better at emotional connection over the past few years of being in a committed relationship, but the thought of anything substantially deeper than casual father-daughter bonding was still a bit daunting.

He reached up to touch her cheek but, like Jack, paused before actually making contact and risking smudging her look. A moment of indecision later, during which she could almost hear the thoughts running through his eyes, he pulled her into a gentle hug anyway. "Thanks for waiting for me."

The wedding had been postponed twice already due to unavoidable emergencies among the Tok'ra. Mark had, predictably, thrown fits both times for having to change his plane tickets and had given their father a good, often-heard dressing-down earlier for putting his work ahead of his family, but Sam understood.

It wasn't like she was new to waiting out galactic disasters. That was a running theme in her relationship.

Jacob pushed her to an arm's length away and gave her a reassuring smile she hadn't known she needed. "You'll do great, kiddo."

To hide the choked feeling that might be showing in her own eyes, she busied herself checking the bright blue watch on loan from her brother's son. Assuming her nephew kept the right time on the thing, it was five after three. "We should probably get going." She had a rather amusing mental image of Jack trying to get around Cassie to sneak back to the bedroom and find out what the holdup was. He might be Special Ops, but she wasn't sure that would guarantee him victory.

"They'll wait for you, Sam."

"No, I'm ready," she said, and she meant it. She offered her arm to her father, but instead of taking it, he pointed at the plastic watch in confusion.

"You wearing this on purpose?"

She could take it off, she supposed. Cassie wouldn't actually chase her down the aisle once the ceremony itself had started to make sure she was wearing something blue, would she?

Or she could wear it. Jack would probably not only recognize the cartoon character if she showed it to him but find it absolutely hilarious that she was wearing it to their wedding. It was the least she could do after talking him out of jeans and t-shirts.

"Cassandra," Sam explained it, as no other reasoning seemed sufficient, and her father accepted that with only a bemused shrug. She took a breath. "Shall we?"

"All right." Jacob accepted her still-outstretched arm. "Let's get you married off." He held the door open for them and walked her through.

*end!*