Title: Paradox

Author: Gail R. Delaney RmceWrtrhotmail.com

Rating: G

Pairing: Sam/Jack – though Sam is 'absent' from the piece

Summary: New joys revive old pain

Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate, Jack, Sam, Teal'c ... none of them. I just have a muse that won't be quiet until I get this down 'on paper'. Then maybe she'll let me get back to my manuscript. I don't write these for money, just my own satisfaction

Genre: Romance

Timeline: Future

Feedback: Absolutely!

Archives: At my site, ff.net. Here. Anywhere else, just ask. I'll probably say yes... just want to know where.

The autumn wind that whipped through the trees, twirling fallen leaves into miniature tornadoes, stung against Jack's face. The air smelled of earth, and foliage, and green. He loved the smell of green.

He tucked his hands into his jacket pockets, squinting through his sunglasses at the quiet landscape. Hills of well-kept grass rolled away, broken only by the neat rows of granite and marble monuments to lost loved ones.

Leaving his truck behind, he walked along the familiar path to a place he knew well, and wished he didn't know at all. Five rows over, forty-five steps in. Charles O'Neill.

Jack crouched in front of the stone, running his fingers over the deep grooves in the cold granite. How many times had he come here in the last decade? Had it really been that long? Time could move so fast, yet so slow.

Paradox. Or would it paradoxes? Paradoxi? Despite the heaviness of his heart, his mouth tipped in a small smile. He'd have to ask Sam later. She'd know. She was, after all, the brains of the operation.

The emotions that fought for control in his chest were yet another paradox. One he wasn't sure how to handle. Never before had he dealt with the dark emotions that overtook him when he thought of his lost, while at the same time happiness like he hadn't experienced in a long time threatened to make his heart explode in his chest.

"Hello, Jack."

He rose to his feet, startled yet not really surprised to hear Sara's voice. Jack turned to face her.


She held a fresh bouquet of flowers in her arms, and he bent to remove the dead basket so she could put them in place. They stood side by side, strangers who had once loved each other, and stared down at the cold reminder of a loss that would haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

"How have you been, Jack?" she said after several moments of silence. "I heard through the grapevine you were promoted to General."

"I was," he said, holding off on answering her question. He did know how to answer. The right way to answer.



Silence settled again. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, they had grown past that years before.

"How is Steve?" he asked, proud of himself for remembering her new husband's name. He tried to remember the names of Steve's children, Sara's stepchildren, but they eluded him. And he decided it best to not try them than to mutilate them.

"Good. We're good."

Sara turned to him, and he did the same to look down on her. Why was this so hard? He wanted to shout from the top of Cheyenne Mountain, and probably would when the time was right. Okay, he'd probably just use the intercom... but the effect was the same. So, why couldn't he tell her?

She stared up at him, and he didn't pull back when she reached up to take his sunglasses off his face. He just looked down at her as she seemed to examine him. A small smile tipped the corner of her lips.

"You have something you want to tell me."

Jack chuckled and took the sunglasses from her, fidgeting with them. Fold the arms in. Unfold. Left one. Unfold. Right one. Unfold. Both.

"What is it, Jack?"

He took a steadying breath, preparing himself to say it out loud for the first time. It was good that it was to her. Jack met her curious, encouraging gaze.

"I'm going to be a father... again."

Tears immediately glistened in her eyes, but a genuine smile bowed her lips. Sara stood up on her toes and wrapped her arms around him, and he didn't resist the embrace, folding her in his arms.

"Oh, Jack! That's wonderful!"

She pulled back and wiped her cheeks. He hated seeing her cry, but knew her well enough to know they weren't tears of sadness. She was happy for him. For them.

Him and Sam.

"Thank you."

"Is this with Samantha? That woman I saw you with at O'Malley's awhile ago? When we bumped into each other."

Jack nodded. Just the thought of Sam warded off the chill of the wind and spread through his body like a shot of adrenaline to his blood.

"She's beautiful, and..." Sara trailed off.

"Young. Yeah, I know. I can't believe it myself most of the time. That she'd want an old warhorse like me."

Sara touched his cheek. "Jack, you are still one of the most attractive men I have ever known. I thought that when you were twenty-four, and I still think it now that you're—"

"Do we have to actually say it?"

She smiled, slow and thoughtful. "Jack, I'm so happy for you. For both of you. Are you going to..."

"... get married? If she'll have me."

"She'd be a fool not to. You're a good man, Jack."

He took her and hand kissed the palm, finding comfort in the familiar touch. Eventually, Sara pulled away and crossed her arms over her body. "Is that why you came today?"

"To tell Charlie," he answered simply.

"He'd be happy, too. You deserve to be happy, Jack."

Jack just nodded. He wasn't really convinced of it. Hell, half the time he was pretty sure that Samantha Carter in his bed was just a figment of his overactive imagination. And pretty much the majority of the time he held his breath, just waiting for the bubble to pop and for it all to end. Yet, an incredible lightness and peace had penetrated his soul. Light and Dark. Joy and Loss. Life and death.

"What are you thinking?"

Jack pulled himself from his thoughts. "A lot of things."

"Babies help put it all in perspective."

He smiled. "I remember."

Sara linked her hand through his and squeezed gently. "I'm glad you told me. Now, go home."

Jack nodded and slipped his sunglasses back on. "Yeah, I'm supposed to be at the store buying orange sherbert and chocolate sauce."

He kissed her cheek and walked away. Jack reached his truck and climbed inside. On the seat was one of Sam's sweaters, soft pink with little buttons that she had worn two days before when they went to the lake. It looked out of place against the black vinyl seat, beside a BDU jacket he had worn off base and a dirty baseball cap. Yet, it belonged.

Jack picked it up and held it to his nose. Her perfume clung to the yarn, mingled with the citrus and melon scent of her shampoo and something more sublime than any manufactured scent. It was just... Sam.

His Sam.

The mother of his child.

Jack cleared his throat against the sudden rush of emotion and quickly put the truck in gear and pulled away. Time and Orange Sherbert waited for no man.