Disclaimer: This fic was written before the Threads episode. After watching the show, I corrected Kerry's job- spoilers had her be an Oversight Committee Chairperson- but the rest of my story stayed the same. Frankly, I thought Jack and Kerry's romance unconvincing, Pete's meek 'Do you want me to beg' acceptance of Carter's breaking of their engagement out of character, and the writers' use of Kerry to tell Jack to retire and go for Sam an insult to shippers. He should've thought of it himself! I like my version better. Maybe it's all the kissing parts. :D Thanks to Super Sam/Jack shipper GateSeeker2 for telling me about Threads when the spoiler came out months ago and for being a fount of Stargate trivia!

Tangled Threads

Walking briskly out of Stargate Command, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter made a mental note to inquire about the chemical/biological/radiological filters that screened the air drawn from the surface and then utilized by the underground base. During that awful moment, when her conversation with Jack...Brigadier General Jack O'Neill...had been interrupted by that Kerry Johnson C.I.A person, Sam had actually felt faint. The air had seemed to become thin, as if there were not enough to enable breath- much less coherent thought. The very room had appeared to tilt as her head swam dizzily. Perhaps the filters needed updating. Nodding her blonde head decisively, Colonel Carter resolved to bring the matter to the Maintenance Officer's attention on Monday if air quality had not improved substantially over the weekend.

Once outside, Carter slid on her aviator styled sunglasses and headed for her vehicle. The setting sun was streaking the Cheyenne Mountain Complex with gorgeous color, but the beauty was lost on the introspective woman opening the door to her Volvo and preparing to exit the base. Leaving the tunnel and the base behind, blue-gray eyes scanned the road in an automatic defensive driving mode while inside her mind; Sam's thoughts were a whirl of conflicting thoughts and feelings.

Why couldn't she and Jack have one single solitary conversation without getting interrupted? Would it have been too much to ask for the General to invite that person back at another time when his office was not occupied with someone who was trying to share their feelings! Pale, slender fingers gripped the wheel tightly in displacement.

Looking at the radio, Sam didn't bother to turn it on to see if it was once again channeling messages from above. She already heard Connie Francis croon in her mind, Who's Sorry, Now?

Turning down her street, she slowed her speed to enjoy the scenery. Lowering her car windows, Carter breathed in deeply. Her whole neighborhood smelled green, earthy, welcoming- her mood improved dramatically. Arriving home, she was surprised to see her fiancé Peter Shanahan's car in the drive and Pete himself sitting on the front step watching her get out of her vehicle. Smiling his mischievous wide smile, he teased,

"There's just something about a woman in uniform."

Even as she smiled at Pete and returned his hug, Sam thought snidely,

There's something about a man in uniform, too...especially for a little miss what-big-eyes-you-have-the-better-to-stare-at-gorgeous-Generals C.I.A bimbo.

Leading Pete into the kitchen, Carter made a bee line for the refrigerator and the diet coke calling her name inside. Watching her chug it down, Detective Shanahan commented humorously,

"You act like one of the guy's downing a beer at the end of a tough day. You're not going to crush the empty can against your head are you?" Seeing her grab the ever present bottle of acetaminophen out of a cabinet and pop the top before swallowing a few, he frowned, "Do you have a headache? Come on, lie down and let Dr. Feelgood make it all better."

The concern in his voice touched a vulnerable place inside- one that longed for someone else to help share the load, share her life. Carter let herself be led into the bedroom. Sprawled facedown, she muttered, "Don't you mean Dr. Strangelove?"

"Yeah, Yeah, yuck it up brainy babe...wait and see...you'll soon change that tune..." Pete's strong, agile fingers massaged Sam's aching head and traveled down her back. Time slowed as muscles relaxed and troubles drifted away...

Rolling over, the groggily blinking woman focused on the broad frame lying next to her on the bed. Gently pushing sandy brown strands off Pete's forehead, she whispered into his now open dark eyes, "Does Dr. Feelgood make house calls to all his patients?"

"This Dr. is strictly private practice, ma'am. Only one patient gets my specialized treatment."

Warmed by his soft smile, Sam lightly kissed her fiancé and then scooted off the bed and into the bathroom. Raising her voice to be heard through the door, she asked,

"Not that I'm complaining, but I thought we were going dancing tomorrow night?"

Opening the door and hanging up a hand towel, blond brows rose in an inquiry that had Pete raising his hands and saying sheepishly,

"I know, I know...but something's come up. One of the guys at work, Mike, is having a barbeque tomorrow afternoon and invited us to come...you know, a meet the new guy type thing."

"Meet the new guy's fiancé too, is that it?" Her voice was dry, but her lips quirked in reluctant humor. Pete Shanahan could sell ice to Eskimos with that boyish smile.

"Yeah...but that doesn't mean no dancing." His expression became one of puppy dog sincerity, "Hey...you trudge through the mud saving the galaxy...you deserve to put on a pretty dress and go dancing, have a little fun." He grinned wickedly, "We'll just go dancing tonight, so we can make the cookout tomorrow."

"You seem awfully confident I'll go along with this change in plans, Detective."

Pete waggled his brows as he boasted, "That's because I cover all the angles, sweetheart. But if you'd rather stay home and play doctor..."

Rushing into the closet and hurriedly dragging out a favorite black dress, Sam answered, "Put away that stethoscope mister...we're going dancing."

The jazz club her fiancé brought her to was one recommended by another new colleague. 'Ricky' brought all his dates here and was infamous for his success with women. Dancing slowly with Pete around the small but crowded space near the band, Samantha could see why. This place had atmosphere and romantic music to spare. Swaying to the rhythm, Pete's husky voice sang to her softly,

"It had to be you..."

Still smiling over the romantic gesture, Sam looked toward the band. The piano player was rubbing his upraised fingers together in an unmistakable gesture. Her fiancé gave a short laugh and led her back to their table before going to the player and giving him a folded bill. The men shook hands and Pete returned to the table.

Smiling across from her, he explained,

"Ricky told me that the piano man can be persuaded to pick the songs...and recommended that song to me. It's from that 'Harry Met Sally' movie." His teeth gleamed in a self congratulatory smile. "Romantic, wasn't it?"

"Yes" Sam made herself smile.

It was until you admitted you got the whole idea from your Don Juan colleague and bragged about it like a cocky High School boy. Not to mention paying the guy right in front of me...romantic...yeah...

Shaking off disloyal thoughts- he had learned a song just for her after all - the tall blonde smiled with all the warmth she could muster. Pete, encouraged by the reception his gesture had received, asked,

"Have you given any more thought to the house I bought for us?"

I'm trying so hard to keep a positive attitude this evening. Why does he have to ask that particular question? Her smile faded, and bluish grey eyes tried to convey her seriousness to the man smiling confidently across the table,

"Pete, I love my house. I've spent a lot of time restoring my house. My neighborhood's one of the best...schools, crime rate, centrality, everything. She teased, "And it smells good too with all the trees and flowers...why would I want to give all that up for a house that has none of its advantages for which I feel no the emotional attachment?"

Peter looked like a puppy that had just been smacked with newsprint for piddling on the floor. His face fell.

"I thought you'd want something bigger, something better..."

"Bigger and newer isn't better Pete." Reaching over to cover his hand with hers, the troubled Colonel tried again to smile and lighten the mood, "Let's go down the block and find a couple of espressos with our names on them."

"What about Biscotti?"

Sam's smile became genuine. Nothing kept Pete down for long. "Definitely...chocolate chip biscotti are calling us too. C'mon, let's go. "

Waking on Saturday morning felt like Deja Vu all over again to the former Major. Music spilled through her alarm speakers while she yawned and ran slim fingers through her short, mussed hair and listened to Gwen Stefani's voice pouting over the airwaves.

Something about the words bothered her. Cutting off the angst ridden song Underneath it All and turning to stare at the ceiling, Carter wondered what is was she was eating or drinking on the odd Friday night that led to such bizarre dreams. The one she had just awakened from didn't drive her to tears; it had royally pissed her off- and she was still seething even now. She knew the dream didn't mean anything...it might even seem funny...in the distant future...she didn't take the nightmare personally. Hands clenched into fists, even as the Colonel reminded herself that Daniel had once told her that dreams experienced right before waking had more impact upon the psyche because they were so vivid...

The dream had started off in O'Neill's office. Sam had been staring at the eagle statue behind the General's desk. Before she could make herself meet his understanding gaze and tell him what she really needed to say, his door had burst open.

"Hi there! I'm Kerry Johnson, with the C.I.A...I'm so pleased to meet you General...I've been a big fan of yours for such a long time..."

Ms. Sunshine here sure had some nerve. Colonel Carter challenged the intrusive woman. "How long?"

Dragging her reluctant gaze to the taller woman, Ms. Perky had chirped, "Oh ever since I set eyes on him." She laughed in a way that reminded Sam of Minnie Mouse on helium, "Three Weeks ago!"

The rugged General laughed along with the annoying Ms. Johnson. Firmly maneuvering the woman from the room with a gritted, "Come back later- the General's in a meeting." Carter leaned against the closed door and took a deep breath. O'Neill moved around the desk toward her and she met him halfway. About to express her true feelings, the Colonel was interrupted again.

"Oh My Gosh! I can't believe I forgot to give you these I'm-so-thrilled-to-be-working-with-you brownies!" Putting the- artistically arranged in a basket lined with an Air Force blue napkin - baked goods on the General's desk right by his red phone, Ms. Martha Stewart on crack trilled, "My brownies are famous! Why I've won fifteen blue ribbons at fourteen State Fairs!"

"You mean fifteen?" Carter ground out.

"NO, silly, one year they were so good I was awarded two ribbons!"

Wrapping her capable hand around the peppy woman's squishy little arm; she bared a facsimile of a smile and began to inexorably drag Ms. Toothpaste commercial teeth to the door. Giving a satisfactory shove to unlatch dainty fingers' leech like suction on the doorjamb, Sam once again closed the door.

With a sigh of relief, the Colonel turned to open herself up to the General- only to find him sitting on the edge of his desk munching a brownie.

"These are damn fine brownies!" O'Neill exclaimed through a mouthful of chocolate.

"Jack...I...I...wanted you to know..."

"My brownies won two ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair! I wanted you to know that, General, because the Land of a Thousand Lakes is my favorite state in the whole nation!" The human jack-in-the-box was back, but Sam was almost sure she had locked that door...

Spewing crumbs, the General cried, "Holy Hanna! I've got a cabin in Minnesota! I'm there every chance I get to go fishing!"

"I love fishing!" Ms. Cheerleaders are people too gushed with a grin that displayed every capped tooth.

Sam had had it. Glaring daggers, she accused, "You've never fished a day in your life Ms. French Manicure!"

"But I'd love to if Jack...pardon me...General O'Neill would teach me..."Long lashes fluttered as Ms. Scarlet O'Hara's got nothing on me gazed entreatingly at the distinguished man brushing brownie crumbs off his uniform.

"Call me Jack...there's no pesky fraternization regulations for you to worry your pretty little head about..."

Carter wrenched open the door and slammed it shut with enough force to hear several photographs shatter satisfyingly on the other side. Stalking down the corridor, she met Teal'c, who calmly raised his shirt and asked if she thought his abdominal muscles were toned enough. Reaching back, the enraged woman punched the large man's middle with all her strength. Bending over and moaning, Teal'c said faintly, "Indeed, they are not."

Sam awoke with the same urge to hit something, NOW. At first, she tried to deny the urge, rationalizing that the feeling was a natural by product of the vision and one that would pass without resorting to unnecessary violence. After a tooth grinding moment of reflection, Carter thought What the heck , I can be Martha too...Violence...it's a good thing... Grabbing her pillow from behind her head, she sat up and punched it as hard as she could. White feathers exploded into the air and drifted down like surreal snow. Sighing in relief as the dream induced rage subsided, Carter rolled out of bed to go get a broom.

Standing in her kitchen and reaching past the muesli box for the Fruit Loops that had somehow fallen into her shopping cart on her last trip to the store, the jeans clad woman poured a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table to eat. She smirked while she looked down at the latest shirt Cassie had sent from college.

It was black with a yellow happy cartoon bunny on it. Over the bunny read the caption 'School Prepares You for the Real World,' Underneath the bunny was the phrase 'which also sucks'. Cassie had assimilated into American culture...perhaps a bit too well...

Thinking of Cassie reminded Sam to check her email. Rinsing her bowl, she left it in the sink and went to turn the computer on.

Checking her inbox, there was indeed a message from Cassie. The young woman Sam would've been proud to call her daughter emailed,

Dear Sam,

I've tried calling but you've been out saving the...world...or something. Did you get the package? I hope you actually wear these T-shirts I send- a little subversive humor is good for you- look at Jack! Speaking of Jack, I won't say again that you're making the biggest mistake of your life and may regret it bitterly until the day you die.(ironic smile) I'll just tell you that I want you to be happy and I support you if not your decisions. So, I'll be a bridesmaid if you don't come to your senses, but I refuse to wear one of those frilly dresses. As usual, I'm acing my classes and making lots of new friends. One girl, Mary Catherine, is Catholic like you and tells me to 'Let Go and Let God' when I worry too much. I think I'll take that advice.

Love, Cassie

A bittersweet smile spread across Carter's face as she emailed a short message confirming that she was wearing her T-shirt as she typed and was duly appreciating the subversive humor. Thanking Cassie for her support even without approval, she promised not to pick out anything frilly for the wedding...whenever in the future that might happen to be. Sending her love, Sam sent the message and scanned the others in the inbox. Nothing was urgent, so she logged off and got ready to leave the house and run her errands.

Later that day, the Colonel was putting away the last of the groceries when the cell phone rang. Cutting the Star Wars theme off mid chime, she smiled reflexively upon hearing Pete's voice. He was calling to remind her of the cookout they were attending- he would pick her up in a couple of hours.

Getting dressed, Sam wondered what to wear. It was a backyard cookout, which meant casual. It was also a new guy shows off his fiancé occasion, which meant dressing to impress. Nothing in her closet was anything close to casually impressive. On an impulse, the tall blonde checked out the closet in the double duty Cassie/Guest Room. Sure enough, the closet was half full of clothes. Shifting through the items remaining on the rack, Sam came across a bluish grey sheer blouse with a matching silk tank. It almost matched the color of her eyes. Imagining the set paired with her favorite jeans, she had a winner.

Pete was bowled over when Sam answered the door. Wagging his eyebrows, he said playfully, "Wow. Are you Samantha Carter or a Stepford Wife?" He grinned as he took a not so playful punch in the arm. Rubbing his sore limb- his sweetie sure packed a punch, he begged, "Forgive me, you look amazing..." He was much happier with the kiss he received in reward for that remark.

Driving up to the large tri-level home of Pete's co-worker, Sam stated dubiously, "Mike affords this on a cop's salary?"

"Nah...he's a golden boy whose daddy who owns a mining company. Lucky for us, he likes to entertain..."

Admiring the clean lines of the Arts and Crafts furniture and the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired stained glass windows they passed on the way to the enormous back yard overlooking a golf course, Sam was glad she had dressed up more than usual. Her definition of a cookout and the 'golden boy's' were far different. A vision of O'Neill grilling on a Hibachi flashed into her mind and was firmly shoved into the isolation chamber that kept a legion of inappropriate thoughts safely locked away.

"Shanahan, my man!" cried a hearty voice by the bar. Wearing a gaudy Hawaiian shirt and a big smile, the host of the catered 'cookout' greeted his colleague with a handshake. After being introduced, he engulfed Sam in a hug. "What's a goddess like you doing with a guy like Shanahan?"

Smiling at his infectious good humor, Sam dryly responded, "It's nice to be worshipped Mike."

"If you want to be worshipped, darlin', you need a man who knows how to do it right...Pete here is still learning remedial lessons..."

The white smile flashing from a darkly handsome face had to be the infamous 'Ricky'. As the player kissed her hand during Pete's laughing introduction and gave her a heated look from his dark Latin lover eyes, Pete gave the other man a look that had Ricky smiling pleadingly,

"Don't be gettin' your Irish up, Shanahan; I remember your little speech to the guys about what you'd do to any 'rat bastard' who tries to take 'your woman'. Chill" Called away by a bikini clad girl emerging from the heated pool, Ricky winked at Sam and sauntered off.

After exchanging names and greetings with a myriad of colleagues and an assortment of girlfriends, wives, and in cases like Ricky's dates for a day, the mentally exhausted woman was happy to sit in a comfortable chair and pick over the wide selection of food Pete had considerately piled on her plate. Nibbling at a slice of melon, she had to admit the laid back detective really knew how to throw a party. Sipping her sparkling water awhile later, Sam smiled at Pete and excused herself to go 'powder her nose'. Climbing up the wide staircase to find an unoccupied lavatory, she passed a dark haired woman who was on her way down.

"There's a bathroom upstairs first door on the right." the dark eyed woman said helpfully before asking, "Are you Pete Shanahan's fiancé?" After hearing the blonde's affirmative, the woman's lips curved wryly, "I guess you must have passed the background check, then, unlike Pete's first wife..."

"What do you mean, 'background check'?" Sam's intimidating glare took effect as the woman backpedaled,

"Hey, I thought you knew about Pete's past, but if he hasn't explained his suspicious quirks or told you about his pal in the F.B.I. far be it for me..."

"How do you know anything about Pete?" the angry demand cut into the woman's speech.

"His ex is my cousin...so I know enough to pity..."

"Honey, we've got to go...Matt could only cover for me so long..."

Sam watched numbly as a tall man she didn't remember being introduced to nodded his head politely and led the woman whose brows were still drawn in concern away.

After she had returned to Pete's side, Carter still didn't know what to make of the bizarre conversation that had taken place on the stairs. The woman had seemed so genuine in her emotions, but...

"Looks like Jim had to leave...good." the Lt. Colonel's attention was drawn to her fianc's wry expression, " Jim's an okay guy, but his wife's my ex's cousin...small world, huh...she never liked me, so I'm glad she left before trying to poison you against me somehow..." He laughed shortly, "Janice should change her name to something without the word 'nice' in it."

The relieved woman decided not to mention that the woman had poured her poison into Sam's receptive ear before leaving. Obviously, Janice had an axe to grind on her cousin's behalf and nothing she said had any credibility whatsoever. Guilty over momentary doubts, the reserved Colonel threw herself into being sociable and outgoing in reparation for her unfounded misgivings.

Later that evening, Carter was shamefully thankful that her fiancé had to leave and cover a colleague's late shift in payback for his taking Pete's duty last night. She needed time to think about certain issues and the good Detective was all too skilled at making rational thought impossible. With a last lingering kiss, the smiling woman waved goodbye. Stepping inside, she locked the door and turned off the light.

Waking up on Sunday morning, Sam stretched, reprieved from the usual musical morning wakeup. Humming the catchy tune O'Neill had once remarked on in an elevator once, she bounded from the bed and hit the shower, feeling at peace with herself.

Over a bowl of oatmeal, the Colonel debated whether to go to Mass and light her own candle. Remembering a certain old Russian lady from the park, she smiled, and then frowned at the knock sounding at the front door. Who could be visiting this early on a Sunday morning? She padded barefoot to the front door.

Upon seeing the familiar rugged face on her porch, Sam opened the door and joined the General outside. He had driven over in his big fossil fuel guzzling green truck. Dressed as casually as she was, deep dark eyes twinkled at the sight of her T-shirt.

"Looks like Cassie strikes again."

She smirked down at her favorite rebellion tee- a drawing of an alien and spaceship with the caption 'Maybe WE don't believe in YOU' over it. Looking up to meet the eyes so seriously studying her face, Carter agreed,

"Yes...She knows I'll wear anything she sends. I miss her so much."

"Me too" Running his fingers through his short gray hair, O'Neill looked ill at ease, but determined. He blurted, "Look...You were going to say something...in my office...and you got cut off..." Dark eyes skirted away then back, "I just wanted to apologize for that...I'm here to listen if there's something you want to say..."

"I don't know what to say..." Sam admitted to Jack. "You...Pete...Jacob...I don't know what to think, to feel, to say..." Pale eyes grew shiny with suppressed emotion.

"Say what you feel, Carter...stop trying to think about what everyone else deserves...what about you and what you need?"

"I think I need to go to Mass and light a candle...maybe every candle in the church."

Mobile lips widened in a rueful smile, "I was going to suggest fishing. Kerry Johnson asked me to give her a lesson at the pond behind her place and I thought she'd like another woman to keep her company..." His voice trailed away at the strange expression on the Colonel's face. He asked uncertainly, "Not interested?"

"I'm interested, General...today's just not the day...can I get a rain check on that offer?"

A boyish sparkle lit the dark eyes and widened his infectious smile, "Carter, you know damn well I'm never gonna stop asking you to go fishin'."

An unexpected, unreasonable, and unexplainable sense of joy welled up inside the woman as she promised, "One day, O'Neill...one day I'm going to take you up on that offer."

"And then what?"

"And then I'll land the biggest fish of my life, General."

"Big words, Carter"

"Big fish, O'Neill"

With a smiling shake of his head and a wave goodbye, the General drove off. Heading to her bedroom to change and get ready for Mass, Sam happily wondered if Father Ryan still presided over a welcome tea after the morning service. Her mouth watered thinking about the tempting array of baked goods all the little old ladies lovingly assembled. Except a brownie...anything else would do, but she couldn't stand the thought of a double-damned brownie.

A/N Well, I feel better...except for the urge for a damn brownie! lol.Review and let me know how you liked the story! Any excuse to dance a happy dance...!