a/n:With this being the last chapter, I would like to thank everyone who submitted reviews. You took time out of your day to send me encouragement and praise and I am incredibly grateful to all of you! Thank you! I would also like to acknowledge all those who put this story on their favorites list or even just had it on alert. Knowing you were all enjoying the story kept me writing, so Thank you! And, of course, to all those who didn't do any of the above, but, who have still read every chapter, I would like to thank you, too! The large amounts of hits to this story is overwhelming! However, if you haven't reviewed, please review at the end of this chapter and let me know what you thought of the entire story. This is onlythe second story I've written, so your reviewsmean a lot. Okay, now that I've thanked everyone, I hope you enjoy the ending!
"Sam, I'm just saying, I think it might do you some good to talk to MacKenzie."
"Daniel! How can you even suggest I talk to that quack? Have you completely forgotten what he did to you when Machello's goa'uld killers were inside you?" Samantha Carter-O'Neill yelled at her friend, as they stood in the sanctuary of her lab.
"That was completely different, Sam," Daniel argued back with his former teammate.
"Daniel, I'm FINE! I don't need to talk to MacKenzie! I've been back to work for two months. I've been completely cleared for work for 6 weeks. Mentally and physically! I don't need to talk to anyone!"
"Sam, it's been three months now," Daniel announced, in a quiet voice.
"Damn it Daniel! I know how long it's been! Why are you pestering me, Daniel? You're the only one who seems to think I'm not okay?" Sam sniped at him.
"Because I know you, Sam. You threw yourself back into your work before your maternity leave was anywhere close to being over. You spend way too much time in your lab trying to figure out how to unfreeze him. The only time you don't have a haunted look in your eyes is when you're holding Grace. You've been through so much, Sam. You need to talk to someone."
"I need my husband back!" Sam yelled at the unrelenting archaeologist.
"We'll get him back, Sam. But, you can't kill yourself in the process……I just want to help you, Sam," Daniel admonished, trying to talk sense into the air force major.
"Help me by figuring out how to get him back, Daniel," Sam snapped at the man and stomped out of her lab, abruptly ending their conversation.
Sam walked to the commissary to find her baby girl. She had spent a whole month going nuts in her house after Grace was born. The SGC was having no luck contacting the Asgaard and Jack was still frozen in the stasis chamber in Antarctica. Finally giving up on staying sane at home, Sam started bundling up Grace and the two of them headed into the mountain almost everyday of the week.
Dr. Weir didn't have the heart to deny Sam or Grace entrance into the base, and since she wasn't military, she easily made the decision to allow Major Carter and her daughter to do as they pleased on base.
Sam would barely make it into the mountain before someone would swoop in and snatch Grace out of her arms. At first, Sam worried about people taking her, but before long, she realized it was quite a relief to have so many 'aunts' and 'uncles' helping take care of the infant. With some one or another constantly running off with Grace, Sam was able to get quite a bit of work done in her lab. As the weeks passed, there were days on base where she would only see her daughter at feeding times.
Sam entered the commissary and immediately saw her daughter in the arms of Col. Reynolds. He was babbling incoherently to the small infant and the other marines found him quite funny as they were all laughing uncontrollably.
"Colonel," Sam greeted, approaching the marine.
"Oh, hey Sam! Grace has been a little angel. Haven't you little boo-boo, ga-ga," the normally stoic marine babbled to the baby, who immediately rewarded him by babbling back. "See! She speaks my language," Col. Reynolds announced proudly, and then handed Grace over to her mother.
"Thank you for watching her, Colonel," Sam said, cuddling her daughter in her arms.
"No sweat, Major! We had a swell time. Didn't we, girl?" he finished softly, rubbing his finger gently along the baby's chubby cheek. Even the big-bad marine had fallen in love with the cherub infant.
Sam smiled genuinely at the Colonel and said her good-byes for the day as she headed out of the base for home.
Locking Grace's car seat into the backseat, Sam hopped into Jack's truck and started it up. He had never gotten around to that mini-van and her Volvo just didn't have a lot of space, so Sam took over Jack's truck. It wasn't like he was using it at the moment!
Heading out of the mountain towards home, Sam immediately started feeling bad about yelling at Daniel. The truth was, Daniel knew her way too well! She wasn't fine. She wasn't okay. She wasn't happy. She was massively depressed. She was incredibly tired. And, she was incredibly lonely. She missed Jack! She was fully aware of that fact. She loved Grace as much as any mother could, and she was a great mom. But, when Grace was sleeping or 'visiting' with someone else, Sam was miserable. As together as she appeared at work, Sam was ripped apart once she was home and able to strip away her military façade.
Grace was always Sam's primary concern. She would spend every day at home cuddling her little girl, talking to her, telling her stories about her daddy. She told her how much her daddy loved her and how he couldn't wait to finally see her, to hold her, to kiss her.
Sam would take Grace on tours of the house, showing her each room, each picture, each important item and explaining them to her. Now that Grace was three months old, she would reply with goo's and gaa's and other baby babble, making her own contribution to the conversation.
Once Sam put Grace to bed for the night (well, for the first four hours of the night, anyways), Sam would no longer pretend to be brave and tough. Rummaging through Jack's closet, she would pull out one of his old shirts or sweaters and throw it on so she could inhale his intoxicating scent. Then, clutching the photo of their impromptu wedding, Sam would crawl under the covers of her bed and cry herself to sleep, praying for Thor to finally show up and save her husband.
Sam had just gotten back to sleep after Grace's 4am feeding when the shrill cry of the phone pulled her from her dream. "Damn it, this better be important," she muttered before reaching for the phone. "Carter," she said, putting the phone to her ear.
"Major Carter, this is Dr. Weir. I'm sorry to wake you, but I thought you would like to know, SG-1 was just beamed out of this facility."
"Thor?" Sam groggily asked, trying to fight the sleep away.
"That's our guess," Weir replied.
"Jack?" Sam asked, excitement entering her voice at the thought of her husband coming home.
"So far, he's still in Antarctica. When we hear more, I will contact you immediately," Weir informed her.
"Uh, that's ok. I'll just bundle up Grace and head in now. If Thor revives Col. O'Neill, I want to be there when he returns."
"Of course, Major. I guess I'll see you when you get here," Weir replied, then hung up the phone.
Sam quickly dressed Grace and herself and headed, eagerly, to the SGC.
Jack opened his eyes very slowly, the incredibly bright light adding pain to his already massive headache. "Oy! My head," he complained in a low voice.
"Jack! Jack! You're awake! Do you remember anything?" Daniel excitedly asked.
Jack looked at his friend with his usual annoyed look. "What's going on?"
"What's the last thing you remember?" Daniel interrogated.
Jack thought for a moment. "Uh, I remember getting my head sucked by that Ancient…..sucky-thing."
"O'Neill," Thor said, approaching the pod Jack was currently laying in.
"Thor, buddy. Got any aspirin?"
"Your headache will fade and your memories will return in time," Thor replied.
Jack looked around the room. "T, what's up with the hair?" he asked after seeing the always bald jaffa with a head full of hair.
Teal'c just looked at Jack, making no attempt to answer his question.
After a few more words were exchanged and Jack, once again, asked Teal'c about his hair, Jack managed to climb out of the pod. He leaned against a wall. "Where's Carter?" he asked out of habit, at not seeing his former second-in-command in the room.
Daniel and Teal'c exchanged worried glances.
Jack, seeing their glances, got frustrated. "WHAT?" he yelled at them.
"Uh, Jack, Sam hasn't gone off-world since we found out she was pregnant," Daniel stuttered out, looking with concern at his friend.
Jack looked at Daniel for several minutes with a blank expression on his face. Daniel started to say something to Jack, but Teal'c stopped him by placing his arm on the archaeologist's shoulder. "I believe O'Neill is attempting to retrieve his memories, Daniel Jackson. We should avoid interrupting him."
"Oh," Daniel replied with a confused expression as he continued to stare at his friend's blank face.
"Sam?" Jack finally spoke. "She was pregnant. Daniel, where is she?" Jack asked frantically, a scared look upon his face.
"She's at home, Jack. She's fine," Daniel answered, trying to reassure his friend.
"The baby! Did she….did she…?" Jack couldn't seem to form the words on his tongue.
"Major Carter gave birth to your daughter just before we destroyed Anubis and his fleet, O'Neill," Teal'c announced.
Jack closed his eyes as his memories assaulted his mind. He remembered sitting in the Ancient chair as Hammond's voice broke through all the Ancient muck in his head. He remembered the joy that filled his heart at hearing his daughter was born. The intense feeling of relief at hearing Sam and Grace were fine. At knowing he had saved them. He remembered the overwhelming feeling of love he felt for his wife and newborn daughter as his body and mind were frozen in the stasis chamber.
Jack opened his eyes. "How long? How long has it been?" he asked. Images of Sam raising their little girl by herself popping into his head.
"Three months," Daniel answered sheepishly, guilt still plaguing him for not getting Jack out sooner.
"Oh God," Jack groaned, covering his hands over his face. "Sam!"
"She's done a great job with Grace, Jack. She's an incredible mom," Daniel announced, trying to reassure Jack. "She misses you very much, though," he finished, remembering his conversation with Sam the day before.
Jack mumbled something incoherently and scooted his body down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. He pulled his knees up and balancing his elbows on them, buried his face back in his hands. "Three months," he mumbled to himself. "I lost three months!"
Sam had been at the SGC for 36 hours. They had heard from Teal'c close to 20 hours ago when Jack was beamed aboard the 'DanielJackson', but since then, they had not heard a word from the flagship team.
Grace was not happy at all with her current surroundings and was making her feelings known. Sam had been trying to soothe the baby for the last 6 hours with no success.
Grace was incredibly cranky and Sam finally admitted that the only thing that was going to work was taking her daughter home to her familiar bed. So, after packing up her things and triple-checking with Dr. Weir that she would call Sam the second she received anything on SG-1, Sam, reluctantly, departed for home.
Grace's colic ended the second Sam carried her into their house. After feeding Grace, Sam filled up the big tub and the two enjoyed a warm bath. Grace splashed around in her mom's arms, gurgling at the bubbles and noises she was creating for a good half hour before Sam finally washed them both up.
Sam had just barely finished dressing Grace in her pajamas before the baby girl was fast asleep, completely worn out after her long hours of crying. She carried her to bed, and then, realizing she was absolutely exhausted herself, decided to take advantage of being home and crawled up in her big, cozy bed. She quickly fell asleep and dreamed of the moment she would finally be reunited with Jack.
It was 0200 when Jack and the rest of SG-1 were finally beamed back to the SGC. After a quick check-up, Jack eagerly headed home. Dr. Weir had told Jack about Grace's tantrum and Jack had insisted Weir not call Sam, but, allow him to go home and surprise his wife and child.
Jack, channeling up his old black-ops training, stealthily unlocked the front door of his home and walked inside. He looked around, taking in his familiar house.
His furniture and possessions were still there, however, baby items littered the entire living area. A baby swing stood next to his favorite chair. A bouncy seat was pushed up next to his couch. A soft pink baby blanket was laying sprawled out on the middle of the living room floor with several baby toys settled on it. The normal magazines that sat on his coffee table had been replaced with nursery rhyme and picture books. A laundry basket full of baby clothes sat on his dining room table and the car seat was sitting against the wall. Jack smiled.
He was home at last!
He walked down to the nursery and quietly pushed open the door. Softly walking over to the crib, he peered over the railing and was surprised to see two tiny brown eyes staring back at him. "Goo!" Grace said to her father as he looked down on her.
"Well, hello there, Gracie," Jack whispered happily. "Have you been a good little girl for mommy while daddy's been away?"
"Goo!" Grace replied, getting excited at her late-night entertainment and waving her arms up and down.
Jack laughed softly and reached in to pick up his little girl. As he held his daughter in his arms for the first time, a single tear of happiness escaped his eye and slid down his cheek. Not even bothering to wipe it away, Jack leaned down and kissed his baby girl softly on the cheek. "We have three months of catching up ahead of us, Gracie Lou," he whispered to her as he sat down in the rocking chair.
He sat in the chair, rocking his daughter slowly while talking softly to her. She, happily, babbled back to him, which he thought was the greatest thing ever. He lifted her out of the crook in his arm and sat her on his lap so she was facing him.
"Let me get a good look at my little princess," he softly said to her as he memorized every detail of her. She had thick blonde hair that seemed to stick out in all different directions. "Well, sweetie, it looks like you got mommy's color, but, I'm afraid you've got daddy's unruly hair," he said to her while trying to smooth her hair down, with no luck.
"Ga-ga goo!" Grace exclaimed, bouncing on her father's lap. Jack laughed at her again and pulled her into a soft hug. Feeling nothing but pure love and adoration for his beautiful baby girl.
They continued to rock in the chair until Jack had finally lulled her back to sleep. He gently settled her back down into her crib and then creeped out of the room.
He was still completely overwhelmed with emotions at finally meeting his daughter when he walked into his bedroom. The excitement shooting through his veins at being home again caused him to forget about his stealth and Sam immediately sprang out of bed when he entered the room.
The room was dark when Sam awoke. The only thing she could see was the silhouette of a man standing in her bedroom. A million possibilities of who this man was in her room shot through Sam's mind. An NID agent trying to kidnap Grace? Someone from the trust? A burglar? An alien? There were so many possibilities! Sam immediately went into attack mode and launched herself out of bed.
The last thing Jack expected after his sweet encounter with Grace was being jumped by Sam. But, that is exactly what happened and he was totally unprepared for the assault.
Sam knocked him to the ground yelling something about a bastard? Jack really wasn't sure. He felt her fist connect with his jaw, once, twice, he grabbed it before she managed to get in three. Her other fist was pounding into his side. He kept grabbing for it, but the room was dark and Sam was freakishly quick.
"SAM!" he managed to yell out. "Sam, it's me! It's Jack! STOP! CARTER!"
Her fist connected one more time with his side before his voice registered in her mind.
"Jack?" she asked, a quiver in her voice as her body slowly started to relax into his.
"Yes, it's me, it's me," he repeated, letting go of her hand and cupping her face. He pulled her closer to him and pressed his own face against hers. "I'm home," he told her softly, and then wrapped his arms around her, pulling her completely into his body.
"Oh Jack," Sam cried, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tight. She turned her face into his neck and inhaled deeply. The smell of her husband seeping into every pore of her body. "Oh Jack," she cried again.
They stayed that way as the sun started to rise and cast an eerie glow into the bedroom. Finally being able to see her, Jack cupped Sam's face and stared lovingly at his gorgeous wife. He leaned in and captured her lips in a delicate kiss. "I love you," he softly stated when he finally pulled away from her mouth.
"I love you, too," she answered just as softly and captured his lips again. "I'm so happy you're back. We've missed you…..Three months……"
"I know, I know," he said, cutting her off as he began kissing his way down her neck. "I promise to make up every second to you."
"Every second?" Sam asked seductively as her hands wandered up the back of Jack's shirt.
Jack growled. "Oh, yes, every second!" he answered, gently pushing his wife back into bed.
Sam woke up to a very bright bedroom, the smell of coffee and an all-way-too-quiet house. Grace always woke her up hours before now.
Sam rolled over and the smell of Jack wafted into her nose. She inhaled once again as her face broke out into a huge smile. They had made love as the sun rose. Letting out the last three months of pent-up emotions in a whirlwind of passion. She had fallen asleep wrapped up in his arms, at peace for the first time in months. Her perfect life, once again, falling into place.
She sat up in bed and wondered what Jack and Grace were doing. Climbing out of bed and dressing after a quick stop to the bathroom, Sam quietly walked through the house, looking for her family.
The nursery door was open a crack and she peeked her head in. Jack was laying on a blanket on the floor with Grace laid beside him in the crook of his arm. The blinds were closed, causing the room to be dark. Jack was pointing to the fiber optic lights on the ceiling and explaining each constellation to Grace. Grace, totally enthralled by the attention, babbled along with her daddy.
Sam giggled at the door.
"You finally woke up," he said, arching his head to look at her.
"Yeah. How's she doing?" Sam asked, nodding her head towards Gracie.
"Great! She's so amazing, Sam. She definitely takes after you," Jack exclaimed excitedly, pulling his little girl closer to him. "I fed her one of the bottles in the fridge. That was okay, right?" he asked, a slightly worried look on his face.
"Yeah," Sam answered, smiling and laying down next to him on the floor.
Jack wrapped his other arm around Sam and pulled both his girls closer to him. "I know it's a cliché, but I am definitely the luckiest man in the world," He said, kissing his daughter and then his wife on their heads.
"And, I am the luckiest woman," Sam responded, rubbing her hand up and down Jack's chest and cuddling into his side.
"Ga!" Grace added.
"Are you happy da-da's home, Gracie?" Sam asked her baby girl.
"Da!" Grace answered, amazing both her parents into speechlessness.
"OhmyGod!" Sam exclaimed, seconds later. "She's never said that before!"
"Well, I take it she's happy to have her da-da home," Jack laughed, kissing Grace on the head again. He was pretty sure that at this very moment in time, no one else anywhere, could be as happy as he was.
"DA!" Grace said again, louder. Excited over her parents' reaction to her new word.
"Like I said, luckiest man in the world," Jack exclaimed again.
Grace Louise O'Neill sat on her Grandpa Jacob's lap in her pretty dress, mesmerized by all the people in the room. The 9-month old looked at her mommy and daddy at the front of the room. She had no idea what was going on or what was being said, but she could tell everyone was happy and excited, so she was too.
The Pastor spoke at the front of the room, "Brigadier General Jonathon O'Neill, do you take Lt. Col. Samantha Carter to be your wife, to have and to hold………………….."
The entire church, especially all the members of the SGC, exploded in applause and "hoorays," when the pastor announced, "You may kiss the Bride."
Jack and Sam walked hand in hand, down the aisle, stopping in front of Jacob and scooping up Gracie on their way. Jack held his little girl in one arm and his wife in the other. "I've said it before, and I will probably say it for the rest of my life, I am the luckiest man in the world."
Jack walked out of the church with his wife and daughter, heading towards their mini-van the marines had decorated with balloons and confetti. Turning to Grace in his arms, he asked her, "So, Gracie Lou, what do you think about a little brother?"