Chapter 15: Happy Endings
A couple of weeks later
The night air was warm and comforting, as a refreshingly cool breeze filtered across the mountaintops of Castlewood Canyon State Park. The amphitheater glowed with the golden light of what seemed like hundreds of lanterns hanging in the trees, providing a stark contrast to the dark chasm of the canyon floor below.
The rumble of conversation and jovial laughter echoed through the air. Guests filled the round tables dispersed on the edges of a large dance floor. They all seemed to be having an enjoyable time if the cheerful atmosphere was any indication.
The ceremony had been lovely. In the glow of a red-orange sunset peeking over the distant outline of Pike's Peak, Jack and Sam had renewed their vows with their closest friends and family in attendance. Daniel and Teal'c had served as Jack's best men, Cassie had stood by Sam's side as her maid of honor, and the best surprise was that Jacob had arrived earlier that week and was there to give Sam away.
After the ceremony, everyone had gathered around a nearby dance floor surrounded by several round tables lit only by colorful paper lanterns hanging in the tree branches above and the natural light of the moon and the myriad stars that shone brightly in the night sky. With the stars above, unhindered by the light pollution of the city, little other decoration was necessary for the celebration. In one corner of the dance floor, a string quartet played one melodious love song after another as the guests enjoyed their evening meals.
Suddenly, the tinkling sound of a knife clinking on a crystal goblet broke through the blanketing noise of chatter. The guests' voices died down and all turned their attention to the main table set up on the other side of the dance floor in front of them.
Doctor Daniel Jackson put down his knife and smiled awkwardly at the guests whom were now all staring at him intently, patiently waiting for him to speak. Daniel, dressed resplendently in a dark suit embellished with a large yellow rose in the lapel, stood slowly and addressed the crowd.
He cleared his throat before beginning. "Honored guests… When I first met Jack O'Neill over nine years ago, he was not the man you see before you today. Without going into too much detail, the light in his eyes had very tragically been extinguished."
Daniel glanced at the man sitting beside him. He noticed a shadow of grief pass over Jack's face, as his friend seemed to recall that darker time in his past. Quietly, a small smile alighted on his face as the woman sitting next to him took his hand in her own. At this action, Daniel smiled and continued his speech.
"Year after year since that day, I have watched as Jack slowly came back from the void with renewed purpose in his life. More importantly, I happily witnessed as, day by day, the light in his eyes gradually returned. The source of that light, I believe, was and is his growing love and devotion to Sam."
Daniel once again turned to look at the two friends sitting next to him as they smiled at his words.
"And what can I say about Sam? She is my best friend…the sister I never had. She has a way of brightening the lives of all those around her. Her infectious enthusiasm and her undying faith in the basic goodness of people are the qualities that make it very easy to be her friend. I believe it was these qualities that Jack was first attracted to. The question is, and I quote an old friend here, what could she possibly see in a loser like Jack?"
Jack's head popped up and he immediately shot Daniel an irritated glare. He almost looked as though he were getting ready to strangle his best man when the crowd erupted into bellowing laughter. Daniel returned Jack's glare with a sheepish grin of his own before he continued.
"True...Jack can be gruff and sarcastic…impatient and cantankerous. But he is also one of the most loyal and decent men I have ever known. He always stands up for what he believes is right and I cannot even find words to describe his strength of character. In fact, I don't think you could ever find two people with more integrity than Sam and Jack. That fact, along with their unyielding ability to love one another with their entire being makes them perfect for one another. Sam and Jack have loved each another for a very long time. I'm just happy that they can finally be together and that I am actually around to see it."
Sighs of delight and happiness emanated from the crowd of guests. Daniel once again glanced at Sam and Jack, only to find them looking into each other's eyes, each completely absorbed in the other.
"I thought it only fitting that I end my speech with some words of advice for my two best friends. And being an archaeologist, of course, the words I have chosen come from an Ancient Egyptian poem dating from the 11th Century B.C.:
So, seize the day! hold holiday!
Be unwearied, unceasing, alive,
you and your own true love;
Let not your heart be troubled during your sojourn on earth,
but seize the day as it passes!
Put incense and sweet oil upon you,
garlanded flowers at your breast,
While the lady alive in your heart forever
delights, as she sits beside you.
Grieve not your heart, whatever comes;
let sweet music play before you;
Recall not the evil, loathsome to God,
but have joy, joy, joy, and pleasure!
O upright man, man just and true,
patient and kind, content with your lot,
rejoicing, not speaking evil --
Let your heart be drunk on the gift of Day
until that day comes when you anchor. "
"Ladies and gentleman…please raise your glasses to Mr. and Mrs. O'Neill."
The crowd readily compiled with Daniel's request and raised their glasses to toast the happy couple.
Daniel's smile widened as he addressed his friends, "Now…Jack and Sam if you will do us all the honor of gracing us with your first dance as husband and wife."
Jack rose and offered his hand to Sam who gladly followed. As he escorted his wife to the dance floor, the first strains of 'Il mio bel foco' soared from the string quartet. Ever since that night, the night when they first went out to dinner as a couple, the song had come to mean so much to them. They danced alone, under a canopy of stars, as those attending looked on the joyous couple with satisfaction.
After the song ended, Jack handed his wife off to her father who was waiting patiently by the side of the dance floor. Jacob, who had arrived earlier in the week only to find his daughter and Jack already married, was pleased that he did not miss out on this event. Ever since she had been a little girl, he had imagined this moment…dancing with his daughter at her wedding. As he took Sam into his arms and led her out to the center of the floor, he marveled that this moment was even better than he had ever imagined it would be.
"I just wanted to say, kiddo, that I am so glad that you have found the happiness you have been seeking," he whispered to Sam. "It will make it a little easier for me while I'm out there in the galaxy, so far away from you, to know that you are not going to be alone anymore…that you are going to be with someone you love from now on."
Sam looked at her father, slightly surprised at his words. "I thought you wouldn't approve…I mean about me and Jack."
Jacob shook his head slightly and then honestly replied, "Sam…there are things about Jack that do bother me - he has a lot of emotional baggage, he's too old for you, and he used to be your commanding officer. But all of those things are minor compared to positive things about him. I know he would never intentionally hurt you. More importantly, I know he has the greatest trust and respect for you. You know, you just can't ask for any more than that for your only daughter."
"You know what's even better, Dad?"
"He loves me…completely and unconditionally. And I feel the same way about him."
Jacob leaned towards her and kissed her cheek. "Then you've got everything you could ever want or need."
Sam rested her head on her father's shoulder as they continued dancing around the floor. As they swirled around in time to the music, she suddenly caught sight of something strange out of the corner of her eye. At the edge of the dance floor, she spotted Jack talking animatedly to a rather young and attractive woman. Sam was shocked with her reaction to the sight of her husband amiably chatting and laughing with another woman.
She felt irrational tendrils of jealousy building up in the pit of her stomach and quashed them quickly, embarrassed for feeling that way. She concentrated once again on her father's face, determined not to let jealousy spoil the lovely evening she was having.
Soon after, the song ended and Sam was surprised when she turned around to find her husband once again at her side. Jack held out his arms, silently asking her for the next dance. Sam went without question or hesitation into his awaiting arms.
"Who was that woman you were talking to?" Sam murmured, trying to seem nonchalant as Jack tightened his arms around her.
The music then began and they started to sway in time to the music. When it appeared as if Jack was avoiding the question, Sam prodded him in the shoulder with one finger and then stared sharply up into his eyes.
"Who?" he asked, clearly unaware of what she was talking about.
"That woman…you know, young, brunette, very attractive." Sam nodded in the direction of woman.
Jack smiled deviously, suddenly realizing the reason behind his wife's question. Although she was doing a pretty good job of disguising it, he knew instinctively that she was jealous of the attention paid to him by the other woman.
"Oh…her. That's Kerry Johnson," he answered casually. "She's the CIA agent that's going to tie up the loose ends on Operation Bellerophon. She's been assigned the task of interrogating Doc Brightman and hunting down the remaining members of the Trust here on Earth."
"Oh…" Sam sighed in relief, now embarrassed that she had ever been jealous.
But Jack, who was secretly pleased that he had elicited that emotion from Sam, wanted to continue this little game. "You know…she asked me out when we first met…" he noted.
"Who?" Sam, attempting not to rise to the bait, tried to remain calm and indifferent.
"It was quite flattering actually…to have such a young and attractive woman take an interest in me like that."
"I'm sure it was," Sam stated, a hint of resentment rising in her voice. "What did you tell her?"
At this, a wide grin broke out upon Jack's face. "I said, and I'm quoting here…'I'm sorry, Agent Johnson, but I am very happily married to the most beautiful and brilliant officer in the U.S. Air Force.'"
"You didn't…?" Sam chided in disbelief, her cheeks turning the slightest shade of pink, both embarrassed and secretly elated at her husband's compliments.
"I certainly did," Jack responded. He paused for a second in thought. "What I didn't tell her was that she doesn't hold a candle to you."
The blush on Sam's cheeks deepened as she drew closer to the man holding her in his arms and rested her head tenderly on his shoulder.
"Hey… aren't you going to return the compliment, Mrs. O'Neill?"
"You know I would, Jack. But somehow I just don't think your ego needs to be puffed up anymore right now. But I would be happy to oblige later on this evening."
Sam shot him a cheeky grin. He responded with a sexy smirk of his own, "I'm looking forward to it, Mrs. O'Neill."
The celebration continued for a few more hours. There was more dancing and laughing. And then it was time for the evening to come to and end. The remaining guests gathered to see the bride and groom off. In a shower of birdseed, Sam and Jack quickly got into their awaiting limo and drove off into the darkness.
As the car made its way to their rented honeymoon cabin, Jack noticed that Sam was staring out the window contemplatively.
"Whatcha thinking about?" he asked.
Sam turned to face him and smiled at him tenderly. "Just about all we have gone through in the past year and a half. There I was, finally trying to move on with someone new, trying to deny my feelings for you…and then it all fell apart. And you were there to pick up all of the pieces."
Jack reached out his hand to gently caress her pale cheek. "Fate has a funny way of working things out in the end."
"Do you believe in fate, Jack?"
"Of course. It brought you into my life."
"And you into mine." Sam placed her own hand softly over the one Jack still held to her cheek.
Sam sighed and leaned into Jack's comforting body as he wrapped his arms around her.
"It's going to a whole new adventure for us," Sam noted quietly. "No more pretending, no more hiding what we feel. We can finally be together openly for the first time. You know what?"
"What?" Jack asked as he placed a single kiss on her forehead.
"It feels really wonderful," Sam confessed with a wistful smile.
Jack's arms tightened around her as he leaned down to kiss her lips. "As usual, Colonel…I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly."