"Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high. Like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are."

With each word, Sam's throat grew tighter and it was harder and harder to speak past the lump of emotion that threatened to choke her. She swayed back and forth, just as Jack had taught her, and stared down at Lorelei. Big blue eyes stared back as the little girl sucked eagerly on her fist.

"Sam, are you going to be okay?" Janet asked as she approached from the other side of the guest quarters of the SGC.

Sam just nodded, a fat tear falling from the tip of her nose to leave a damp spot on Lorelei's blanket.

"Are you sure this is what you want? Sam, truly. If you want Lorelei, I can to talk to General Hammond right now, and—"

"No," Sam managed to force from her throat.


"No, Janet. This is the right thing. For her. I can't – I can't take her. Not right now."

Janet's hand touched her back in a soothing attempt, but nothing could assuage the rioting emotions in her chest. She brought Lorelei up onto her shoulder, resting her cheek against the baby's downy hair, and continued to sway. After Janet walked away, Sam sang again.

"Twinkle twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are..."

The door opened and Sam turned enough to see Jack step in. Their gazes connected for one brief moment before his dark eyes slid away to look at Lorelei. He nodded slightly, then stepped aside for their guests to enter. Sam quickly swiped a hand across her cheeks.

"Carter, this is my brother – Bob Cambridge – and his wife Jean."

Behind Bobby and Jean were Madeline and Ed Cambridge. General Hammond had given authorization for them to be included in the process. Sam stepped forward and extended her hand to each of them. She made sure to make direct contact with Jean, remembering what Jack had told her about his sister-in-law reading lips.

"It's nice to meet you."

But Jean's gaze was already on the baby nestled against Sam's shoulder. Tears welled in the woman's eyes and she covered her lips with a trembling hand.

"This is Lorelei?" she asked, her voice rounded and halted.

Sam nodded. "Yes."

It had taken less strength and will power to complete her last ten missions than it did for her to lower her hands and give Lorelei to her new mother. As soon as the comforting weight was gone, Sam crossed her arms over her body and took a step back, bumping into Jack. She should have moved at that point, but couldn't. She just wasn't that strong right now.

"She's beautiful," Jean whispered.

Bobby looked up at Jack. "This has been so much to absorb. I'm still in awe, I can't quite believe it."

"Believe it," Jack said, and Sam heard the same heaviness in his voice that she felt on her heart.

Bobby and Jean stepped away to sit on the nearby couch, studying their newly adopted daughter, and Madeline stepped towards them.

"You have no idea what this means to them," she said as she laid a hand on Jack's arm. Then she rested her other hand on Sam. "Thank you. Both of you. And someday, I want to hear more details about just what it is you two do."

"Ma..." Jack began, and his mother smiled.

"I know, J.J. Top Secret stuff. But you've told me enough to stir my interest." She squeezed Sam's hand and looked at her. And Sam knew where Jack got his brown eyes. Eyes that could say everything without saying a thing. "Lorelei will always know the special role the two of you played in bringing her to us. As much as we can tell her, of course. She will know her Uncle J.J.—"

"Jack—"he slipped in, and she smiled.

"And Aunt Samantha loved her very much."

Sam's heart swelled and she drew in a breath. "Oh, no. I'm not family. She shouldn't call me Aunt Samantha..."

Madeline squeezed her hand and smiled, a definite I know more than you realize kind of grin.

Sam managed to keep it all in control while Janet spoke to Bobby and Jean about Lorelei's medical status, and the fact that Jack had put her on the soy milk. She explained that, as Lorelei grew older, they may find some unusual developments that couldn't yet be determined, and that they should call the SGC with any concerns. Lorelei cried out at one point, and every fiber of her being wanted to reach for the baby. But she clenched her fists, her nails digging in to her palms, and held her place.

All too soon, it was time for them to leave and take Lorelei with her. They all stood and moved to the door, but Sam held her spot. Unable to move. Barely able to breathe. She was vaguely aware of Jean stopping in front of her, and leaning down to kiss Lorelei's soft skin, and then they were gone.

Silence enveloped her. And her heart broke.

She was still standing in the same spot when the door opened again and Jack stepped through. How long she had been standing there, she didn't know. Sam looked up and their gazes locked. The damn broke and a sharp sob ripped through her. Her knees buckled, but Jack was there and wrapped her in his arms.

"No, no..." she protested, trying to move back. This was the SGC. This was forbidden territory. She couldn't. They couldn't...

"Shhhh," he whispered against her ear, holding her tight to his chest.

Giving Lorelei up had taken all the willpower she had. She curled her fingers into the front of Jack's tee shirt and let the tears come. His arms wrapped around her, pulling her so close it was hard to take a deep breath. But she needed to be held... to be held by him. He bent his neck and pressed his face against the curve of her neck. For one brief second, his lips touched her skin, and she drew from the fleeting intimacy every bit of strength he had to offer.

He whispered against her throat, and her heart clung to the words.