Chapter 22:

I stood on the same balcony I had before and stared down at the courtyard below me. From up here I could see everyone congratulating my parents as the tried to slip away for a quiet moment. I saw Daniel and Janet hiding in the corner eating cake. I saw Teal'c talking to Jacob, although about what I'm not sure. But they both seemed to be enjoying themselves. Even retired-General Hammond was here – and having a lot of fun catching up with Thor it seemed.

The sun was warm as I stood watching my large, extended and noisy family. To see them all gathered in the one place was really great. Even if it always seemed to lead to trouble. Although, it did stop life from getting boring.

"Carter?" a voice called out from behind me. "Can I have a word?"

"Sure, Mac." I said, turning to see Major Conner Mackenzie hesitating in the doorway.

"Thanks." He said, coming to stand next to me at the balcony's railing. "Wasn't sure if I was intruding or not."

"I was just thinking." I replied. "And I find it's much better for the purposes of blackmail to be able to watch everything from up high like this."

Mac glanced at the scene below even as he laughed. "Sounds like you, Carter."

"Actually, it's O'Neill now." I said. "I took my Dad's name too."

Mac raised an eyebrow. "That might take a bit of getting used to." He said. "'Carter' just seems to spring to my lips every time something goes wrong…"

I slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Gee, thanks, sir. You sure know how to flatter a girl." I said dryly.

Mac laughed. "I know. I've even had lessons."

"Why does that not surprise me?" I asked no one in particular.

The two of us stared down at the party below for a silent minute, both seemingly lost in our own thoughts. Until Mac broke the silence. "Shannon, there was something I wanted to say to you." He said.

Shannon? Must be serious. My stomach fluttered as I realised what it probably was.

"Mac…" I said.

"No, please Shannon." Mac continued. "It's taken me all week and several glasses of champagne to get up the courage for this. Please…I have to say it."

I nodded, suddenly desperately nervous. "Okay." I replied softly.

"Well, um…ah…" Mac stuttered. "Hell, I don't know how to say this!"

"Say what, Mac?"

"I…" Mac began again. "Are you still seeing that Alec guy?"

Surprised at his sudden question, I blinked. "No." I said. "I though you already knew…"

"Have dinner with me?" Mac blurted out, interrupting. "You know, after everything is over."

I smiled as Major Conner Mackenzie blushed and looked away. "Sure, Mac." I said. "I'd love to."

"You would?" Mac looked a little surprised.

My smile turned into a grin. "Yes."

Mac let out a relieved sigh. "I was so sure you were going to say no." Then Mac shot me a sidelong look. "I just…I…oh, crap!" he muttered.

I shifted closer to him and knocked him gently with my shoulder. "Take it easy." I said. "I'm not looking for any flowery declarations just yet."

Mac gave me a wry smile, before giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. "Fine." He whispered in my ear before leaning back again.

I couldn't help but smile as I stared down at my family once more. Life was good!

I noticed my parents were challenging each other to arm wrestle for the biggest piece of cake, with Janet and Daniel cheering them on. Teal'c, Jacob and Hammond were all teaching Thor how to play poker. It brought a large grin to my face. My family was definitely unique – and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I thought about how it had been only a year ago – I was about to graduate college and had no idea just how wide and wondrous the universe was. Or that I had such a large and loving family to meet. But I think most wondrous of all was that I now had the father I had been dreaming of since I was a little girl. And no matter what happens now or in the future, that makes everything worth it.

There are more Descended Ones out there, I know that. Our fight is far from over. There are more System Lords and Replicators and no doubt another legion of enemies that will threaten the survival of Earth and humans all over the galaxy. But we'll fight and we'll win. We can't do anything else.

Because if there's one lesson I've learnt more than any other, it's that when my family gets involved, nothing can stop them doing what they set out to do!

And no matter what the future brings, we'll do it together.

The End.