Author's Notes: Truly a 'work in progress', this started when I began imagining all the mayhem that could result if the Stargate became public knowledge. So hang on while we explore the possibilities! After the events of Seasons 8, Sam and Jack are in a budding romantic relationship as this fic begins.
Sam's hands gripped the steering wheel so tensely that her knuckles shone white from the force. She drove steadily home from a grueling day at the SGC, if maybe a tad too fast, through the darkening twilight towards her house.
Her dark, empty, quiet, house.
Daniel had come by her lab this morning with the news he was engaged. Great news, really it was, and no one deserved to be happy more than he.
Engaged to Sarah. She deserved happiness too, more than most, after the unthinkable experience of being a host to Osiris, and the unbelievable second chance she now had at a life free of the Goa'uld.
Teal'C had left last week to be with the free Jaffa. He had promised to return, but Sam didn't really believe him.
Janet was gone, forever. Sam missed her today more than usual. But she missed her all the time, every day.
She was almost home when she suddenly decided she couldn't face being alone.
There was only one place left to go, then. Without a second thought, she turned in the direction of Jack's house, desperately willing him to be home, knowing that he was her refuge, even if she didn't know what else he was to her. Yet. Or ever. Whenever she was honest enough to stop fighting it, she knew Jack was her anchor.
He would understand.
As she pulled onto his street, she had to laugh out loud at her unwavering belief in him.
Eight years ago, when she had met the irascible Colonel, he was the last person she would have picked as her rock, her confidante, her best friend, her emotional support. He had seemed, then, like someone to protect herself against, to be strong for in order to prove herself worthy. She couldn't identify how or when their relationship had become this symbiotic dependence that they shared today, she only knew that one day she'd woken up to the truth of how irreplaceable he was in her life.
Dark, no lights.
'Please, be home,' she breathed out loud. Parking on the street, she ran up the drive and knocked loudly on the door. After a few long minutes, she knocked again.
"Is it asking too much to just have someone to talk to?" Sam complained silently, pitying her situation. She sat down on the steps and flipped open her cell phone, speed-dialing Jack's number.
"O'Neill," he immediately answered, his familiar voice quiet and calm.
"It's Sam," she responded in a shaky voice.
"Sam! Hey, you okay? What's going on?" Jack's voice was neutral no longer, but filled with concern and, if she could allow herself to hear it, an undercurrent of something much stronger.
"I'm sitting on your steps, actually," she bantered unconvincingly, " wondering if you're home."
"Oh crap, Sam, I'm in Washington, D.C. I'm working on Homeland Security stuff, for two weeks at least. Probably longer, now that I'm here and finding out what's going on. I guess I forgot to tell you? So, what's wrong?"
Jack definitely heard something off in her tone and wasn't letting go of it.
"I, uh, I remember now. You did tell me. I guess I forgot. Don't worry about it, Jack. It can wait until you get home, I just wanted to see you. To talk, but I don't want to talk over the phone."
"How about you throw me a bone? C'mon, Sam. You can tell me something at least, can't you?"
"I wish you were here," Sam cried softly.
Jack was stunned into silence, his heart beating hard. Sam wasn't an emotional person, and he was having a hard time remembering the last time he'd seen her cry. Even at her Dad's funeral, she'd barely teared up.
"I'll come home, tonight," he responded immediately, without thinking.
"You can't, I know you can't just blow off all those meetings. Look, I'll be fine, really, okay?"
"You fly here, then." Jack suggested earnestly.
"I've got a lot of work here, I can't get off right now."
"Sam," he began, his voice full of care.
"It's funny, I feel better just having heard your voice. I'm okay now. I'll see you when you get back."
"I wish I had that on tape. You almost sounded mushy there for a second," Jack ribbed.
Sam actually smiled. "I can be mushy," she protested. "Sometimes."
"Sure you can. Hey, I'll see you soon, okay? And Sam."
"I just thought of something. I have something for you in my house. The house key is-"
"Under the mat on the deck?"
"Yeah. Let yourself in..."
"I'm doing that," Sam assured him, as she fumbled for the key and turned it in the lock.
"...and go back to my bedroom. You there yet?"
"Not yet." Jack could hear her moving around in the house.
"Okay. I'm in your bedroom."
Jack instructed her, "Open the top drawer of my chest of drawers, and...and you'll see a package. Do you see it?"
Sam saw a small, flat parcel wrapped in tissue paper placed neatly on top of a pile of his T shirts and she suddenly missed him fiercely. His voice in her ear soothed the ache somewhat.
"I've got it."
She carefully removed the wrapping to reveal a wooden frame, delicately carved. Turning it over to see the picture, she gasped at the images staring up at her. Her father, dressed in his finest Tok'Ra robes, had his arms around her and both of them were smiling brightly. The surrounding environs indicated that this had been taken on Vorash, at some time before the fall of that old Tok'Ra base.
Sam didn't remember anyone taking their picture, but now that she held it in her hands, it occurred to her that this was probably the most recent picture of her father that she now owned. And even better, it was the two of them together, with their affection for each other displayed in their carefree smiles.
"Oh, Jack," she whispered tearfully. "This is perfect. Thank you."
"You're very welcome. I've had that picture for almost a year. Finally got it framed last week."
"I love it." Her voice wobbled with emotion.
"Well...I love you."
Sam was stunned. It was so like Jack to say those three incredible words to her for the first time, with such simple ease, without any build up or warning or fanfare. Her heart was about to burst with joy, in spite of the overwhelming emptiness she'd felt when she'd first called him.
She suddenly realized she hadn't answered him. She was crying.
"I'm on the next plane home," he warned her, waiting for any response besides the faint blubbering he could only just make out.
"No, I'm okay, it's just-- you're amazing," she cried as she wept more. "And... I love you, too," she eventually managed to blurt out. "Jack?"
"Thanks. You reminded me tonight about real happiness, and what's really important, and...and ... stuff like that."
"Wow, that's Ph.D. level material," Jack teased the almost incoherent woman. "And you're very welcome, I'm just glad you feel better now. But you still need to tell me, when I get back, what started all this tonight. Deal?"
"I promise. Good night, Jack."
"Good night, Sam. And Sam? I meant what I just said. Hey! What's going on? Is that you...are you crying again?"
The next morning Sam awoke early to the sound of persistent knocking on her door. She dragged herself out of bed and willed her body into motion towards the front of the house. As much as she had wanted to sleep last night, she had been unable to until just these past few hours and was punchy with fatigue.
She peered through the peephole.
Sam swung the door wide and launched into his arms.
"Jack, I told you not to worry..."
"And I told you I was catching the next plane..."
He allowed her to grab him by the arms and yank him into the foyer.
"But you said you couldn't get away..."
"Well, I'm flying back tomorrow. I just really wanted to see you."
"I'm okay, really. I didn't mean to worry you. I just got lonely last night, after Daniel told me..."
"He called me too. Great news, huh? I'm happy for him."
"Me too." Sam didn't look convinced.
"But..." Jack probed.
"Oh, it's so selfish I'm embarrassed to say it."
"I think I can say it. Too much change. Our SG1 is no more and you miss it."
Sam nodded, watching Jack as he moved even closer and put his arms loosely around her shoulders. Leaning his forehead against hers, he closed his eyes and sighed sadly.
"I felt the same way when he called me. Happy for him- but. I miss it. All of it. You know what I miss the most?"
He didn't give her a chance to say anything before answering the question himself.
"You. Seeing you every day, knowing where you are every minute. I miss you so much, Sam. Right before you called last night, I was in my temporary quarters at Andrews. Completely alone, and I forgot where I was for a second and turned around and started telling you something." He laughed bitterly.
Sam's arms tightened around him, and for a long while they both silently relished the embrace.
"What's got you so tied up in D.C.?"
Jack let go of her arms at her question, and turned around, walking into the kitchen. Sam knew from years of experience that he was going to forage through her fridge and pantry.
"The congressional oversight committee for the Stargate program has decided it's time for the program to go public, and the President has approved," he answered over his shoulder, holding the refrigerator door open with one hand.
"Public?" Sam was stunned.
"I know," Jack agreed. "I can't believe it either." After some consideration, he grabbed a beer and shut the door.
"How much will be revealed? I mean, there's so much information, I can't believe the President would allow all of it out."
"The amount of information to be released is still to be determined."
Sam thought for a minute, a familiar furrow appearing between her expressive blue eyes.
"I just hope the President doesn't live to regret this decision," she finally said.
"He will," Jack predicted darkly. "He will."
Jack and Sam spent the rest of the day talking. Jack was to go back to Washington the next morning, but had no idea when he would return to Colorado. Sam was finding this difficult to accept. After all, she hadn't even known that he'd left the Springs in the first place because it had all happened so abruptly. The more time she had to chew on the idea of the Stargate going public, the more concerned she became. She had a horrible gut feeling about the potential outcome of such an act.
Finally, at close to three in the morning, Jack yawned loudly and collapsed onto the couch.
"I'm beat," he announced. His eyes were already closed.
"Me too," Sam moaned. She stood up. "What time do you need to get up?"
"Could you wake me at 0530?"
"I still can't believe you flew home just for the day. I'm so glad you did. I'm really, really glad that you're here."
His eyes popped open at that, and seeing sincere gratitude in her smile, he extended an arm.
"Come here," he commanded familiarly. He encased her in a strong, warm hug, pulling her onto the couch with him.
"Sam," he mumbled contentedly into her shoulder.
Both soon fell asleep on the couch together, comfortable and oblivious to the surrounding world for the few short hours they had left.
It was late the next evening and Sam's eyes were beginning to burn from fatigue as she labored over endless research files when the phone in her lab rang.
"Carter," she answered shortly.
"Hey, Sam, it's Jack. I figured you'd be here when there was no answer at your house."
"I was just leaving," Sam countered, always on the defensive about her workaholic tendencies.
"Good to hear, I just have some stuff to run by you, though."
"The timetable for, ah, the disclosure, is being pushed up way too quickly. I was hoping I could talk you into coming to Washington to help advocate for the SGC. I could really use help with this. The General has already agreed to send whoever I ask for- this is really important to the SGC."
"Yes, it is, Jack. If we aren't careful about what information is kept classified we could be looking at some serious consequences. Let me wrap up the projects I've got going. It may take me a few days to get ready."
"You haven't got a few days. President Branson has called a press conference for Wednesday morning."