TITLE: How Do You Like Me Now?
AUTHOR: Matt, October 04, August 05
SUMMARY: He might not have married the crush of his teenage years, but he got someone so much better. Oneshot.
SPOILERS: for Fragile Balance in season 7.
DISCLAIMER: The characters in this piece are not mine. So far, MGM et al have not come knocking on my door demanding I stop playing with their characters. Until they do that or start paying me, I continue to write for nothing but entertainment.
NOTE: This is, I'll admit, inspired by the Toby Keith song of the same name. It was begun in October of 2004 and then sat, unfinished, on my hard drive for another 10 months until I accidentally discovered it. Since it was so close to being complete I figured I might as well go ahead and finish it off. So, here it is.
WITH THANKS: To Allie, as always, for the beta. You make me think.

Jack O'Neill didn't normally like shopping, especially during the run up to Christmas. However, this Christmas was different and he'd been persuaded to set foot in the mall by one Sam Carter. Of course, he reflected, it was much more enjoyable to shop when you were with the woman you loved; you could always try tempting her to sample some of the delights in stores such as Victoria's Secret.

So far, however, he was failing in that department. Sam's cheeks became an even darker shade of pink when he suggested she try on a few select items for him. He had finally decided to resort to more subtle tactics, although subtle was certainly not how his companion would describe them. While she protested out of sheer embarrassment, Jack slid his arms under her jacket and around her waist, pulling her close to him. As she continued to squirm, he kissed her neck and whispered into her ear just what exactly he would do to her if she wore lingerie like that in front of him.

"Old people these days," said a sarcastic teenage voice close behind him. "It's disgusting." The words were accompanied by a girlish giggle.

Jack had a nasty suspicion that he recognised the voice and, as he slowly pulled away from Sam and turned around, he realised his suspicion was absolutely correct.

"Jack," he said slowly. His gaze fell on the blonde teenager who appeared glued to his clone's side. "Found a friend?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. Because if 'junior' was attempting to embarrass him, he could certainly return the favour.

The girl giggled again, and the giggle sounded oddly familiar – which was strange since he didn't remember meeting her before.

"More like, re-found a friend," the younger version of him replied.

"Don't you recognise me, Sir?" Junior's girlfriend asked.

He blinked, blinked again, and his jaw dropped as he swung to face the woman he'd been kissing just a few moments before. "You knew about this?" he managed to burst out.

Sam nodded. "Of course I did."

"Let's just say Thor has a soft spot," young Jack commented with a smirk. "And he was getting sick and tired of waiting for the two of you to get your act together. Don't you know how important our genes are in furthering the human race?"

"It's not that easy, you know that," Jack retorted.

"Well, apparently you two managed to find a way around it. Finally."

"A little thing called retirement," Jack grimaced, remembering the minor heart surgery that had put him out of uniform for good.

"We never wanted to be a general in the first…" Young Jack's words trailed off as he began staring at a point somewhere behind his older self.

"What is it?" Jack asked. His clone had definitely spotted something, or was that someone? Was it someone from the SGC? Was it Sara? Or was it someone that was only known to a teenage Jack?

"Victoria Goss," the younger breathed.

Jack's head swung around, as did the heads of the two women. His eyes fixed on a tall greying brunette walking close to them. She looked haggard. In her arms were multiple shopping bags, and she kept turning to snap at two young children who trailed behind her.

"Who is she, Jack?" the adult Sam asked gently.

"The girl of my dreams," Jack the younger replied, seemingly transfixed by the sight.

"In high school," Jack clarified.

"She was smart…"

"And popular…"

"She made valedictorian…"

"And she hated me."

"Thought I was a loser."

"Married into money."

"And look what became of us. If only she'd known."

"Her loss."

Sam the elder confidently tucked her arm through Jack's. "And my gain. I got a General," she said with a smile.

"And she got a couple of whiny brats by the sounds of it," Junior observed. "I think I'm glad they're not mine."

The woman passed by them, never noticing that four people were watching her.

"Funny how things work out," the young Sam said quietly. "She doesn't look too happy, does she?"

"That she doesn't," replied Jack.

"And yet it worked out well for all of us," Junior responded cockily. "I think we had a very lucky escape."

The brief silence caused by his statement ceased when a party of teenagers hustled past them. One of the boys recognised Junior and nodded to him. That was the extent of the communication, but it was enough to break the moment.

"I think it's time for us to move on," Junior said swiftly. "It's just embarrassing being seen with old people." He glanced at his Sam and was rewarded with a small smile.

"Just remember your real date of birth," Jack told him sagely.

"Yeah, but you're only as old as you feel," his clone replied. He swung his arm back around his girlfriend's waist. "And right now," he added with a grin, "I'm feelin' sixteen years young and lovin' it."

"Goodbye, Sir," Sam the younger said politely. "It was nice to see you again."

"Ah, yeah."

Jack watched the youngsters move into the crowds. Life hadn't worked out the way any of them had wanted, but they'd all made the best of it. He might not have married the crush of his teenage years, but he got someone so much better.

"So, Sam," he drawled, pulling his wife close to him again. "What do you say about that lovely little ensemble in the window there?"