TITLE: Out of Control

CHAPTER TWO

There was definitely something wrong with this picture, Jack decided as he sat in his car and looked over at the house. He was the General, for crying out loud. He should be giving the orders, not obeying orders given out by civilians who didn't even work for him.

Kerry's words had finally got through his thick skull. The SGC was not a calm place; his life was anything but peaceful. Daniel was missing and there was no obvious evidence that he'd be returning this time. After all, no Goa'uld or replicator had laid claim to him. Jacob had been expected to outlive them all, but that had turned out to be a wrong presumption on all their parts. What if one day Jack sent SG-1 on a mission and she didn't come back? What if she found someone else who was a better match than Pete and she did marry him?

He had to say something to her. After all, he really didn't have anything to lose. If the worst happened then perhaps Hammond would take pity on him and reassign him to another part of the Stargate Project. Or maybe the SecDef would send him out to the middle-eastern theater. Perhaps Thor could beam him straight to a planet far, far away where there were plenty of fish and creatures that looked like dogs and absolutely no alien threats from anywhere else in the galaxy. Hell, maybe they could even find a ZPM and he could take a one-way trip to Atlantis and join the fight against the Wraith.

Jack slammed his hand against his steering wheel, wincing slightly when the horn went off with a staccato toot. He hoped he hadn't woken up the neighbourhood with that. A glance at her house revealed that a small light had gone on in one of the rooms; he'd woken up one person anyway. As soon as she looked out the window she'd see his car parked outside. There was nothing else to do but seize the moment.

The front door swung open as he approached and she appeared from behind it. "Sir?" she questioned with a slight gulp.

It was immediately obvious that she'd been crying - something she'd tried so hard to refrain from doing in public – and his heart sunk. Instinct won a subconscious battle against self-control and, with a couple of strides forward, he gathered her into his arms with the two words to which he knew she responded so well. "Come here."

It was as though she knew there was no need for pretence with him. She sagged into his arms without a second's thought and he tightened his arms around her, never wanting to let go. He stepped over the threshold of her home and kicked the door behind him with his foot. Then he just held her silently as she let loose all the emotion she'd been holding back.

Eventually, he managed to walk her through to the living room and sat them both down on the couch. She sniffed and hiccupped against his now-damp shirt and he stroked her hair and back lightly until she gradually quietened. At last, there were no sounds in the room other than the tick of the mantel clock.

"I've made such a mess of things," she said, the words muffled by the material.

"No, you haven't."

"Yes, yes, I have." She pulled back and stared up at him. "He asked me if I was happy, and I said yes." The sobbing began again. "I lied to my own father and he was dying. How could I have done that?"

"Shhh," he whispered, pulling her back against him. "You let him die thinking you were happy and that was the main thing." To Jack, the important part wasn't the lying, but letting Jacob die with peace in his heart.

"But he knew," she burst out. "He knew I was lying. I lied to him and he knew and now he's gone and there's no way I can make it up to him."

She was hurting badly and he couldn't think of a way to remove that hurt. "Sam," Jack asked quietly. "Are you happy?"

Sam sat upright and scrubbed at her eyes. "No," she replied. "I thought I was, but I wasn't. But it's like I didn't know I wasn't happy. I had my job, and a man who thought I was worth it, but I wanted more."

Jack nodded. "You did say you'd been having some second thoughts about the wedding. Was it because of the house?"

"No," she said with a gulp. "I don't think so. Pete took a chance on me, you know. He was willing to change his entire life because he loved me. But I didn't love him back, not in the way he wanted me to."

"So, it's over?" Jack didn't want to reveal that he'd heard from someone other than Sam, but figured that a guess was a safe bet.

She nodded. "I gave him back the ring, told him he deserved more than I could give him."

"Well," he began with a wry smile," at least you got to be the one to do the breaking up thing."

Sam looked at him quizzically.

"Kerry broke up with me. Didn't even see it coming."

"Oh, Sir, I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "She's CIA, you know, able to make some damn fine observations about things. Things I hadn't even noticed until she said so."

"What did she observe?"

"That I wasn't as invested in a relationship outside work as much as she was."

"Oh."

"Yeah, you see, it's a funny thing, but I guess our situations are alike in some ways. We were both settling for second-best, even though we didn't realise it." He took a deep breath. "We thought we could be happy with other people instead of with each other. Fact is, Sam, I don't know that I could be happy with anyone else."

She smiled shyly. "I… I don't think I could be either." There was a pause and a long-missed sparkle returned to her eye. "When did you get so smart?"

He shrugged and grinned. "I guess I just got some sense knocked into me. Either that, or the rank is getting to me!"

"So now what?" she whispered.

Jack reached out to hold her again. "Tomorrow," he said quietly to the top of her blonde head, "we look at our options. Kerry pointed out a few things to me that I hadn't really considered. But, for now," he shuffled so that they were both lying down on the couch, "we sleep."

FINIS