"Sam?" Pete called through the door. When she didn't answer, he slowly opened the door. Sam sat with her head in her hands. She didn't acknowledge his presence.

"Sam, I'm so sorry," he said as he came to crouch beside her chair. "I know I only made it worse. I just couldn't handle the idea that they were trying to take you away from me."

"They couldn't take me away from you," Sam said through her tears, "because you never really had me. I'm the one who's sorry Pete. All of this is my fault. I thought what you and I had would be enough, but it isn't."

Pete stood stiffly and looked down at her with the cold, harsh expression of a wounded man trying to hold on to his pride. Without a word, he turned and walked away. Sam was alone.


It was a gorgeous day. A perfect day for a wedding, Jack reflected wryly. He sat on a bench in the chapel garden trying to control the wild rush of his emotions. He was alternately hopeful and despairing. Hopeful he would die, despairing that Pete wouldn't. He didn't dare hope anything in reference to Sam. Where she was concerned, he couldn't have screwed up worse if he tried, and not just today. He had screwed up every day of every year he'd let this state of limbo continue.

"Hi," came a soft voice behind him.

He watched her unblinkingly, trying to read her expression as she swept around the bench and sat down beside him. She had been crying -- that much was clear -- which stood to reason considering she had to decide whose heart to break today.

"So," Sam said.

So?"

"So, you had to wait to say it in front of General Hammond, huh? Don't you think it would have been more prudent for the two of us to decide what to do about that whole fraternization thing before we went public?"

Okay. Now he was daring to hope. "Yeah, well, it wouldn't have had that Days of Our Lives quality I was shooting for, but prudent? Definitely."

"What do we do now, Jack?" she asked, slipping her hand into his.

"Some couples date."

"Dating would be really awkward for us, don't you think? We know each other too well. It would just be a prelude to...physical...stuff."

"And who needs a prelude?" Jack smirked.

"Right," Sam agreed.

"Right?" The smirk was gone, replaced by the look of someone met with shockingly good fortune.

"Right," Sam said decidedly (and also rather clearly pleased with her ability to shock). "I think we've earned the right to skip some steps." Moving closer, she rested her head on his shoulder. He raised the hand clasped in his to his lips.

"Can we skip to this?" he said, gesturing their joined hands toward the chapel.

"Not a chance in hell," she said with a laugh.

He pulled away slightly to give her a quizzical look. "Are you refusing to marry me?"

"No," she said, reaching to pull him close again. "We've obviously got issues to work out first, but I'm just saying when we do, we're eloping in Las Vegas. It will be just you, me, and Elvis."

"How are you going to break him out of Area 51?"

Sam laughed and snuggled closer. Jack bent to kiss her, ever so softly. "Vegas, huh?" he asked.

"Yes!"

Sneaking a hand up her thigh he asked, "Can the stockings and boots come, too?"