Disclaimer: Not mine. Rating: PG13/R. Sex, language.
Set: AU, where everyone's a fireman.
Archive: Yes, whoever wants it.
Pairing: Sam/Jack (because they were SO doing it, in Teal'c's head.
Notes: Jara and Liz's faults. Well, mostly Liz's for putting the idea into my head. And Chris Judge's for writing The Changeling in the first place (that man is beautiful).

The Little Red Engine That Could by ALC Punk!

She was tall. It was one of the first things he'd noticed about her -- right after the inevitable thought of, "Sam Carter isn't a man?" Luckily, only he was privy to his thoughts, so this tall, slightly intense woman didn't smack him upside the head. Which he was certain she would do, if, say, he acted like an ass.

Right. Back to her being tall. She was tall and slim, graceful and poised, blonde haired and blue-eyed. He didn't doubt her competence, he decided as she sized him up from the other side of his desk. After all, she came with high recommendations, and the men (and one woman) who'd given them didn't do so easily.

"Something amusing, sir?"

"Chief." He paused, "You come highly recommended."

A coolly amused smile touched her lips. "So I've been told." Her eyes met his, "But I'm sure you'd rather see me in action."

For half a second, he considered that she was propositioning him, and the idea of her naked, and on his desk was highly appealing. But that was entirely unprofessional.

He stood and held out a hand, "Welcome aboard. I'll have one of the guys show you around. Tomorrow, there's a routine drill, and I'd like you to attach yourself to Engine Company 1. See how we do things."

She shook his hand. "Thank you, sir." A smile flickered across her lips. "I was told you'd arm-wrestle me. Glad to see they were wrong."

"Oh, Captain, I'm sure you'll do something to piss me off. Then we'll have that arm wrestle."

"Ah."

She proved to be good, the guys had been wary, at first. But they quickly warmed to her. She was competent, smart, and personable. They all fell half in love with her. She was also, he noticed, slightly reckless with her own safety, and she never ate properly. So he had a chat with T, one of his best guys. While the big man admitted to being a little frightened of Captain Sam, he quickly got with the job of watching her back. And making sure she ate properly.

It seemed to be the perfect solution, until she called Jack on it.

He defended himself by pointing out that she wasn't the first person to be a little careless. And if she persisted in not appreciating T's shadowing, he'd assign himself to her.

A speculative look came into her eyes, but she let it pass.

Within another week, she and T were actually friends. He liked his people to get along, and so that made him happy.

And then she did it. The day before they were all due off-shift for a week (three weeks on, one off), she risked her life against a particularly bad fire. She succeeded in pissing him off.

"Captain!" his voice echoed in the large bay even with the engines perched inside.

Her head came up. "Sir?"

She was streaked with soot and sweat, exhausted. He pointed at the nearby picnic bench they all ate meals at. "Sit."

As he sat across from her, he reflected that this was probably unfair. But, damnit, she'd pissed him off. And she deserved it. He stuck out his right arm.

Her blue eyes stared at him for a moment before comprehension had her own arm out. "I see."

"You'd better."

Their hands clasped. "What happens when you lose?"

Ignoring the taunt in her tone, he concentrated on the task at hand. "When I win, you have to take an extra day off, and do three hours of oxygen training with the academy kids."

"Fine." Her lips twisted into a smirk. "If I win, you have to do the same."

Wait. Take time off? Teach the kids? Was she nuts? He stared at her, then redoubled his efforts. He didn't hate the kids, really. But some of them were irritating. And stupid. He'd much rather be here, in his office, planning the next barbecue.

Around them, the rest of the guys were taking bets. And he realized that at least half of them were betting against him.

Those traitors.

It took time, but eventually, her hand forced his down. As exhausted and worn out as she was, she beat him.

He sat there, gaping at her while she looked at him smugly.

"So. Chief." T's hand patted his shoulder, "Did I tell you she beat me, back in the first week?"

No. No he hadn't. And Jack O'Neill felt a sense of betrayal that his good buddy hadn't warned him that she was this good.

"If it's any consolation, Chief," she was still smirking, "I have an older brother. He taught me to be patient."

Yeah. Right. He sighed, "Captain, I'm still not happy with you."

"That's all right, sir." That grin flashed across her face.

"You've made me a rich man, Sam." T announced with a smirk.

"Good." She stood, letting out a wince. "Now, if we're done proving our testosterone, I'd like to invite everyone to partake in a cookout. Tomorrow. On the chief."

There was a brief amount of yells and back-slapping, which he allowed. Some of it was simply tension release from the fire. Some of it was because the men were accepting the Captain fully into their midst. And some of it was because none of them had ever bested him. And they liked that it was her.

She might have volunteered his wallet, but Carter organized the whole damned thing (with T's help). Jack found himself enjoying it and even went so far as to flirt casually with her.

Which felt weird, but he kind of liked making her grin.

Over the next several weeks they all got used to having her around. Even Feretti admitted to (grudgingly) liking her. And all of Engine Company 1 adored her. Luckily, more in a platonic way, although Kawalski had been heard to say that if she even expressed vague interest he'd do her.

Luckily for Jack's sense of pride, she stayed strictly out of everyone's bed.

Which he'd expected.

Four months after a tall, blonde, scary woman walked into his office to join his firehouse, Jack found that he couldn't remember a time without her. Or didn't want to.

-

Jack was never certain when he started to notice just how sexy Sam Carter was. It didn't matter if she was clean or so covered in soot you couldn't see her. The mind inside the body dazzled, and the body made him think very impure thoughts during briefings. She would probably smack him for the amount of time he fantasized about seeing her naked.

Then again, she was a liberated, 90's woman. Maybe she thought about HIM naked.

The thought made him mentally promise himself another twenty reps on the machines. And maybe ten more laps at the pool. And thirty sit-ups every hour.

Not that Jack wanted a relationship. He'd done the married thing before, and while he'd enjoyed it, he just... It was sad to think that he and Sara had drifted apart because she didn't want children and he did. Even now, it still sort of hurt. And towards the end of their marriage, they hadn't talked much.

He occasionally heard things about her through the grapevine of intermingling familial relations. His sister was best friends with her cousin, and so he knew that Sara was now married to a nice accountant by the name of Robert Drake.

As for the woman now in his command, no, he didn't want a committed relationship. But he liked the idea of knowing what she looked like naked.

-

George Hammond was genial, easy-going man (unless you crossed him). As the district manager, he oversaw more people than he cared to ever lose. Every six months, he threw a huge barbecue, inviting everyone and their families (including second cousins). This month was no exception to the rule, there were kids and adults all over his very large backyard. His granddaughters, as always, were thrilled at the sudden influx of playmates.

It was with interest that he watched the people from his best company. EC-1, and their fire chief Jack O'Neill were some of the most dedicated, resourceful people he had under his command. Assigning Captain Sam Carter to them had seemed the correct thing to do. She was bright, capable, and good at what she did. That she was a woman hadn't bothered him. Although it apparently gave Jack something to think about.

He had never seen Jack really look at another woman -- not since Sara, and even then it had been more of a courtesy.

Now, though, if George didn't know better, he'd swear Jack looked at her like a starving man presented with a nine-course meal. And oddly, she seemed to be returning his looks (though, with a little more discretion).

Deciding to get the scoop on them, he wandered over to T Murray, and accepted the beer the large man handed him. "So. T..."

"George?"

Nodding towards Jack, he slid his eyes towards Carter. "What's the deal?"

"They're kinda cute, aren't they."

"Yeah." He tilted a glance at T.

A smirk crossed the man's face. "Feretti thinks we should lock them in a closet together."

George winced. "Probably not the best plan he's ever come up with."

"Or the worst."

"True. So?"

"Nothing, yet. I don't think they've noticed the fact that they both eye each like ice cream cones."

"Hrm." George sipped his beer. "I think I'll go have a chat with Jack."

"You do that, sir." There was definitely a twinkle in T's eyes. "You do that."

-

"So, Jack, how's Carter workin' out for you?"

Guiltily dragging his eyes away from a portion of Sam Carter's anatomy that he should not have been looking at, Jack turned and half-smiled at George Hammond. "She's doing fine, sir."

"Fine, huh?" There was a smirk on the older man's face.

"Ye-es." Jack shot another glance at Carter's -- back. Not anything else. Really. Dear god, he was thinking dirty thoughts with George Hammond right next to him. "She's smart, quick, smooth--"

"Goes down like a nice scotch?"

"Something like that." He doubted Carter would appreciate being compared to liquor.

A chuckle came from the older man. "You know, Jack, it's not against the rules to find her attractive."

"Sir?"

"It's a new provision -- well, it will be, if this trial run is effective. All men and women under fire chief command will be administered and reviewed by a fire chief they don't know. It's a measure to prevent favoritism in rankings and placements. It also means you can date Sam Carter."

Jack gulped. "Ah."

"Son, I haven't seen you look at a woman like that for a long while." A hand slapped him on the back. "Get to it."

Deciding that yelping and calling his boss a strange old romantic would not be good for his career prospects, Jack settled for gulping down more beer.

-

She was going to have to make the first move.

It was becoming dismally clear to her that Jack O'Neill either didn't have the gumption -- or didn't believe that she could want him. Or some stupid macho crap she wasn't aware of.

So, Sam Carter was beginning to think she was going to have to make the first move.

And it scared the crap out of her.

He was her fire chief, for Christ's sake. She shouldn't be thinking about him naked while running simulations and problems.

But over the last five months she'd grown to know him, she'd found that she liked him. A lot. He was cute and cynical and annoying, and could make her laugh when she least wanted to. He hid his intelligence behind a facade of stupidity that fooled most people. Feretti, Kawalsky, T, maybe a few others saw through it.

And she'd tried thinking about other things. On her second week off, she'd had a brief fling with a friend of her brother's. Martin 'Marty' Toukra was a public accountant, cute, charming, made her laugh, great in bed... and he kept coming up short against Jack O'Neill. After two days, he admitted that he was still pining for an old girlfriend.

They'd agreed mutually not to see each other again, though she felt a little sad about that.

Other men weren't going to work, she decided gloomily. The only way to get him out of her system would be to, well, have sex. Lots of sex. The kind that would make her happy, and him happy. And then they could agree that it was just lust and move on from there.

A brief fling. Perfect.

Now all she had to do was work up her courage to suggest it to him.

She was saved with having to come up with anything really clever by the machinations of T and Mr. Hammond. By the time she realized she was sharing a cab with her fire chief, they were at her place. Maybe she shouldn't have drunk so much courage.

The cabbie left them, without getting paid, and she suspected there was definitely a conspiracy.

"Uh... Chief?"

"Carter?" He looked confused.

Good. She sighed, "Coffee, Jack?"

"Sounds good." For some reason, he felt the need to sling an arm over her shoulders, "Y'know," he leaned against her in the elevator up to her floor. "You smell nice."

Yep. He was drunk. "Uh. Definitely coffee."

They were inside her apartment, the door swinging shut when she threw caution to the wind.

She'd propped him against the wall to lock the deadbolt when his hands reached for her. "Uh, Carter?"

"Shut up." The words had barely left her mouth before she was leaning against him, stretching up to cover his mouth with hers. His hands dragged her tighter against him while hers worked their way into his hair.

Neither of them was in any shape for anything more, but she hazily decided that it was really nice to kiss him.

-

Sam Carter woke up with a headache, Jack O'Neill's hand up her shirt, and the need to pee.

Of the three things, she decided she liked only one of them, and it was, sadly, the one she was going to have to leave behind if she wanted to get rid of the other two.

They'd fallen asleep fully clothed and on top of her covers. She figured that had been more from exhaustion and general drunkenness than because they'd wanted to cuddle. Carefully removing the delightfully-placed hand, Sam dragged herself out of bed and headed for the bathroom to attend to certain needs.

She took a little extra time and brushed her teeth, suddenly conscious that she had morning breath.

He was awake when she got back, still in the same spot, but eyes watching the door. "So you're not a dream."

"No."

A nod. "Don't go anywhere." He dragged himself out of the bed and disappeared.

"The aspirin's on the bathroom sink," she called after him.

Standing in her bedroom, she briefly considered before stripping off her clothes. She felt grimy, like she'd worn them too long. She was considering whether to get dressed or just put on a robe when he returned.

"You're a very resourceful... gah."

She turned, "What?" Oh.

He was staring, eyes wide, traveling up and down and around, "Y'know, every man should wake up to the sight of you naked."

"I'd prefer only one man." She smirked and sat on the edge of her bed.

"Oh?"

"You."

Jack swallowed, visibly, then straightened. "Is that a challenge?"

"Still got a headache?"

"Oddly enough, no."

"Good."

-

"I'll have to remember," Jack mumbled into the warm skin of the shoulder beneath his mouth.

"Hrm?" Sam's hand was playing lazily through his hair. She seemed rather smug about something. Jack personally agreed she had a lot to be smug about. He was rather smug himself.

"You cure headaches."

"Ah." The hand stopped for a moment, and she shifted beneath him. "Jack?"

"Hrm?"

"Is this going to change anything?"

He considered this, his tired, hung-over mind trying to come up with an answer, "No. I'm still going to want to fuck your brains out every chance I get."

"Ah." She chuckled. "Same here."

"Good." They were agreed. He kissed her shoulder and settled himself more fully against her.

"Sleepy?"

"You wore me out."

"Hrm. Guess I'll have to let you recover, then."

"You're insatiable."

"I can't help it," she sounded even more smug. "You're really cute."

"Ah. So I'm being used for my cuteness?"

"Yup."

"Cool."

Another chuckle. "Go to sleep, Jack."

"Yes, ma'am."

-

It changed things and it didn't. Both were a little more conscious of the other, both definitely noticed the looks the rest of the firehouse gave them. And both resolutely ignored them. T occasionally teased her, and Feretti went around wearing a smirk for a while (he'd apparently won the pool).

He tried not to worry more, but he knew he did. And he didn't let it get in the way of making decisions about when and where to send her.

For that, she was grateful.

Of course, when they did have an argument, it usually ended one of two ways. They went their separate ways still pissed off and didn't have sex for a while (three days was the longest they'd lasted), or they ended up having explosive sex on his desk. Explosive, mostly silent sex, which almost made it hotter. The walls of his office were very thin, after all.

After three months, he stopped lying to himself about what he felt and admitted (if only in his own head) that he was in love with her. And probably would be until he was dead.

She was young and bright and he didn't have a clue what she saw in him. She could have any man she wanted, yet she chose him. It boggled his mind.

Of course, the few times he suggested she stop dating him (translation: no more sex), she scoffed, rolled her eyes, or demanded sex right then and there. One time had been in the grocery store, and several people in the aisle had snickered with amusement when she'd blocked him against the cart and the shelf and kissed him.

"I don't know what you see in me," he'd said once.

She'd leaned into his chest, her naked body pressing against his. "I see a man who is really damn good at pissing me off."

Which hadn't answered his question, but since she'd then proceeded to do rather memorable things with her hands, he didn't press the issue.

Then they were all distracted with the new kid and training him. And then with T and the situation with Bray. They all had to support T and Shawna and Bray, which was weird in a way (especially when T began hallucinating). But then the doctors figured out the problem, and put Bray on different medication. He stopped rejecting the kidney, T stopped hallucinating. And Shawna announced she was pregnant again.

"You're thinking about it, aren't you." T had cornered him at the celebration barbecue.

"Hrm?"

"Asking her."

"Her who?" He was good at playing dumb.

T snorted, "I can see right through you, old man."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"She'll say yes, you know."

"She will?" He tried to keep the hopeful tone out of his voice, and failed.

T snickered.

"Listen, DAD, I don't need you mocking me, too."

"Right, right. Look, man. Just ask her. Get it the hell over with. It'll do wonders for your disposition."

But she might say no. And that would NOT do wonders.

-

Jack had been putting it off. One week, two. Then a month went by and he still hadn't worked up the courage to ask her.

They had lucked into sharing the same weekend and they were both sleeping late on a Saturday morning.

She woke first (she usually did) and when she came back to bed, she propped herself on one arm and looked at him. "Jack?"

"Hrm?" He was trying to decide if he had the energy for morning sex or if he needed a shower first. "What?"

"Will you marry me?"

He blinked. He had not -- seriously, he decided to himself, he needed to get his ears checked. Because he had SO not just heard Sam Carter ask him to marry her.

Really. That was supposed to be his thing. Wasn't it?

"Jack?"

"Huh?"

She looked impatient, her finger poked his chest. "Asked you to marry me. An answer would be nice."

"Where's my candle-lit dinner?"

"Huh?"

He shifted, eyeing her, "And aren't you supposed to go down on one knee and declare your undying devotion for all eternity?"

"Jack?" Her tone was dangerous. "Answer the question, or there will be no sex for a month."

"Sure you can hold out that long?" He taunted.

"Yup."

Damn. She did look sure. "Um..."

"You don't have to say yes."

But, suddenly, he realized that this was important to her. That she was scared he would say no, that he would keep this at the level it was. Friends, with benefits. And despite the fact that he was irritated about her stealing his thunder, he knew his answer. "Yes."

"I mean, you--" She paused, eyeing him.

"Yes, Samantha Carter, I will marry you."

"Good." But the nonchalance of her tone was eclipsed by the happy smile on her lips.

He pulled her against him, deciding he was definitely awake enough for morning sex, and kissed her. "Although," he mumbled as his hands began sliding here and there, "I am irritated that I didn't get to ask first."

"Oh." She stopped kissing him, and smirked. "I always did like to be ahead of the game."

"You--" he gasped as her hand wrapped around him. "Are definitely that."

-

It was a long engagement (because they needed to get two weeks off at the same time, and their schedules were suddenly screwy), but eventually, they settled on a date.

The wedding of Samantha Carter to Jack O'Neill was a small affair. T and Shawna were witnesses, while Jonas Quinn gave the bride away, and George Hammond and Dr. Daniel Jackson gave cold feet advice and mockery.

Jack had asked her if she wanted a church wedding, or something lavish, and she'd looked disturbed, "Hell, no. That would take time away from having sex. Can you imagine having to plan it?"

In truth, he couldn't. And since she'd mentioned sex, he happily diverted his attention to that.

The reception, however, was planned by other people (namely, George Hammond and her brother, Mark), and they snuck out as soon as possible. Though, not before he'd had a 'talk' with her brother about how he really didn't approve of Jack, but Sammie was allowed to make her own decisions.

"Her name is Sam. Or Samantha if you're being formal. Not Sammie."

"She's my sister, I can call her what I want."

Deciding that punching his brother in law would not be good for future marital relations, Jack let it go. This time.

Five minutes later, though, he was revising his opinion of his new bride yet again as she punched her brother. "Stop calling me that, dipshit."

"Sam--"

"No." Her hand closed on Jack's, and she snorted, "This is the man I chose. Not one of your stupid accountant friends or your cop buddies."

"But Sam," her brother learned fast, and his nose was still bleeding. "He's, he's..."

"Old?" She shot him a glance, eyes assessing. "You're right. He is. I still wouldn't trade him in."

"What would Dad think of you marrying your fire chief?"

Knowing her dad was a sore subject (he'd passed away the year before she joined his firehouse), Jack winced.

"He would be glad I was happy." Then she turned from her brother and smiled. "C'mon, Jack, let's play hooky from our reception."

"Yes, ma'am."

Hooky included finding out that George's bathroom counter was sturdy. Very sturdy. And that they were still good at being silent. Mostly.

Afterwards, she slumped against him, panting softly. "God, I needed that."

He rubbed her back, not yet capable of speech.

"Jack?"

He grunted. Ah. There. Speech might be returning soon.

"I love you."

The beautiful, sexy, goddess of a woman who was now his wife and was sitting in his lap after having fucked him into oblivion, had just told him she loved him. The power of speech was definitely gone. He tried a grunt.

She chuckled, "You don't have to answer, Jack. I just... wanted you to know."

Finally, he found something that wasn't a grunt. "Love you, too."

A sigh escaped her. "We're saps."

"You're naked on my lap. Does that make us saps?"

Her lips curved upwards. "Guess so."

They cleaned up and returned to the party. A few of those from the stationhouse gave them smug looks. T, especially seemed to know exactly what they'd been up to. They didn't blush (two years of having sex with the guys somewhere in the vicinity kinda made the blushing get old real quick).

Eventually, they escaped the well-wishing and the reception, and headed back to his house. Her apartment was going to be emptied (half her stuff was at his place, anyway) soon. And his bed was bigger.

It was as good an excuse as any.

-

Six months after discovering that he kind of liked married life, Jack made the mistake of getting himself injured. He'd gotten a little too close to some flying projectiles at a fire and next thing he knew he was waking up in bed with an angel glaring at him.

"You idiot."

"Sam?"

"You. STUPID. Idiot."

"Uh..."

She paused, eyeing him. "If I didn't love you, I think I'd kill you. Do that again and I just might."

If the flying firewood didn't get him first.

"Anyway." She settled back into the chair, "There was something I wanted to ask you -- I've been thinking about it for a while, and I was talking to Hammond the other day." She paused, then took a deep breath and said in a rush, "What do you think about kids?"

"Huh?"

"Us. Having kids."

He blinked. "You would... have to leave the stationhouse."

"George was thinking of seconding me to the academy for a while, give me some time as an instructor there anyway." She looked away, then looked back at him.

"I don't want you giving up your career."

"Wouldn't be. The teaching track adds depth for when you apply to become a fire chief." There was a smirk around the edges of her mouth.

"I always knew you were after my job."

"Yup." Now the smirk was evident. "So. Kids?"

He wondered if he could claim a headache. Nah. She knew him too well. "One or two?"

"I wasn't sure. I was thinking, maybe, two?"

Two. Kids. With Sam Carter. Shit. His life was so weird, "Yes, please?"

She chuckled, "Get some rest, old man."

"I'll old man you," he tried to get up, and bits of him protested. "Ow."

"See?" She mocked him. "You got injured."

"Noticed that."

She moved to kiss him on the forehead, then sighed. "Do it again and I'll kill you myself."

"You already said that."

"Emphasis. Repetition for emphasis."

"Ah." He snaked a hand under her shirt and groped her.

"Hey!"

"What?"

"You're injured." She pointed out.

"You're not."

"Point."

He continued groping her for a moment, then stopped. "Kids, huh?"

"Kids."

Funny. When she'd first walked into his office, he'd never suspected this would be the result.

-f-