A series of Snapshots will provide a look into family life for Jack, Sam, JJ and Grace. Follows Mother's Love series. As of now, I have no real plot in mind, just a sequence of events that will give us a closer look at life for the Carter-O'Neill's. Mostly fluff and fun...but possible a few angsty moments thrown in; because afterall, whose life is a bed of roses?

Please let me know what you think! I love hearing from you!


Home Sweet Home

Jack O'Neill sighed in relief as he finally turned down his street, the gray weathered house coming into view. He was finally home. An off-world three day diplomatic mission that had felt more like three months was finally over. The two factions that resided on Verzona had lived for centuries in a state of uneasy tension. When several teams had visited that planet on a fact-finding mission, tensions had come to a head, with outright war being declared between each side. Although the SG teams tried to ease tensions and assured each side that they were not there to assist either in asserting their domination over the other, neither party had believed them.

Colonel Jack O'Neill, retired and no longer leader of the infamous SG-1 but now Ambassador and Off-World Operations Specialist, had been sent to the planet in a last ditch effort to stave off a full scale civil war. Although he was technically considered an Ambassador to the Asgard, Jack was often asked to help resolve diplomatic problems that had nothing whatsoever to do with the small gray aliens. This had been one of those times. He sighed once more as the realization that he had been successful seeped into his tired brain. Had he not, things could have gotten very ugly, very fast.

Pulling into the driveway, Jack smiled for the first time in days as he spotted the small riding toy lying on its side at the edge of the grass. JJ absolutely loved his little red car that Grandpa Jacob had given him on his 2nd birthday, which they had celebrated last month. He would ride it on the driveway under the watchful eyes of his parents, making zooming noises as he propelled himself along with his feet. Jack duly noted that his son was going to be just like his mother, with that Carter-like need for speed.

A small stroller lay abandoned as well, though this item was at least upright. Sam or Jack would often use the smaller stroller for 6 month old Grace. She loved the out of doors as much as her big brother and would sit content for hours, just watching him play. Of course, there was no doubt in either Sam or Jack's minds that once she was mobile, she would give it her all to keep pace with said older brother.

As he got out of his truck, Jack noticed various other toys strewn across the grass; balls, a push toy, a stuffed animal near the stroller, and a large foam bat. Sam must have been outside recently with the kids, he thought to himself. Normally, the toys would be picked up once the children went back indoors. But when Sam or Jack had the children by themselves, it was just easier to clean up once the children went down for a nap.

Jack checked his watch; 1300 hours. They could be down already but he really hoped not. He was eager to see his children, and his wife – three days away from them was three days too much in his opinion. Grace was still so small that it seemed as if she changed daily. And JJ was becoming so vocal now, not to mention fun to play with! He was definitely a daddy's boy, though he loved to cuddle and be read to by his mother. Sam; well Sam he could spend every minute of every day with and never grow tired of her company.

Jack was thankful that it was a Saturday…at least he would have the rest of today and all of tomorrow to spend with his family before Sam returned to work on Monday. As the lead scientist, she was in charge of a group of at least 20 other like-minded souls. She oversaw a variety of science projects at the SGC that made Jack's head spin just thinking about. He didn't know how she did it but was glad that, for the most part, her work kept her on base. Her forays off-world were few and far between, which didn't bother her one bit. She was busy, challenged, and held a position of high importance. And though she still put in long hours, she was sure to be at home with her family most weekends, and in the evening by 1800 hours, if at all possible.

Jack was likely to have the next 5 to 7 days off, for which he was eternally grateful. His schedule was fairly flexible, until the next crisis came along of course. But in the meantime, he had more time than most to spend with his young children. Maybe he'd try to talk Sam into taking a few days off as well…they could head up to the cabin. The fall leaves would be beautiful this time of year in Northern Minnesota.

Opening the back door, Jack was a bit surprised to find the absolute silence that greeted him. The kitchen was clean; no evidence of a recently eaten lunch lay on the table. Grace's half empty bottle stood next to the sink, at least confirming to him that they had eaten lunch. Frowning to himself, he set his bag on the kitchen table and moved into the living room.

He took in that deserted room as well. A few toys and magazines strewn haphazardly around the room attested to the fact that his family had recently been here. But it was presently devoid of life. The silence in the house was deafening. Even if the children were taking naps, Sam usually had the stereo playing soft music. Jack was a bit puzzled by what he was seeing and not hearing.

"Sam?" he called out quietly, not wanting to wake the children should they be asleep. When he received no response, he moved down the hallway, intent on checking each bedroom as he went. When he saw both of the children's rooms empty, he began to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Unconsciously clenching his fists, he made his way to his own bedroom and entered quickly, his eyes scanning the room for any sign of his wife or children.

The bed was neatly made, laundry folded and stacked on the bed, ready to be put away, but no signs of Sam. "Crap," he said out loud to the empty room. "I told Davis to call and tell her I'd be home sometime today…didn't she get the message?" He knew she would not have left if she'd known he was coming home. Of course, he hadn't been expecting to show up until dinnertime, but still!

Jack took out his cell phone and flipped it open. He found his wife's number in the address book and quickly pressed the button that would dial her phone. When he heard a distant ringing coming from the vicinity of the living room, he snapped his phone shut in irritation and went back out to that empty room. He found it increasingly disturbing that there was no sign of his wife and that she had left her cell phone at home. She never went off without it; it was both a necessity for her work and a safety concession she had made to Jack before JJ was born.

Maybe she had taken the children to see Janet and Cassie, he thought to himself, before quickly brushing that thought aside. Sam's car had been in the garage when he'd pulled up. Janet lived a good five miles away. Sam enjoyed long walks but, with two kids in tow, that was beyond reason. Still, he flipped open his cell phone once again to make a call to the doctor's residence. After a brief conversation, Jack ascertained that Sam hadn't gone over for a visit. In fact, Janet hadn't heard from Sam since Friday morning at work. At that information, a feeling of panic began to set in.

Unbidden, the memories and feelings associated with Sam and JJ's disappearance on the planet Moval over a year ago came to mind. The utter sense of desolation that he had experienced on that planet was one that Jack never wanted to undergo again. Taking several deep breaths, Jack resolutely forced the images from his mind as he tried to concentrate on the present.

He walked to the front door, glad to see that it was still locked…though the back had been left open, he reflected with dismay. Opening the door, Jack checked and saw that the day's newspaper was not lying there, so she had definitely been home this morning. In addition, the mail was sitting on the end table as he passed it in the hallway, so Sam couldn't have been gone for long.

Jack stepped onto the porch, his eyes scanning up and down the street for any sign of his wife and children. Seeing nothing and feeling more disturbed with each passing minute, he reached again for his phone, intent on calling Daniel for help. If that didn't pan out, he would request the aid of at least a dozen of the SGC's finest Marines to start combing the neighborhood.

Jack's hand was scrolling through the numbers in his cell phone when, from the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of blond hair come into view. He looked up and off to his right, where he saw something that made his heart skip a beat in recognition. Turning onto their block from the path that led from the park was none other than Samantha Carter-O'Neill. And she was moving at a fairly brisk pace.

Snapping his phone closed, Jack moved off the porch and down the sidewalk to the front walk, feeling a load of relief overtake him as he watched the progress of his wife.

Sam was jogging at a moderate pace, pushing a large, three wheeled stroller in front of her as she ran. Her attention was on the road in front of her and on the two passengers within the covered stroller. As such, she didn't notice Jack watching her and he was given the opportunity to admire the way she moved without her awareness. Even from this distance, he could see the way her jogging shorts and shirt hugged her form. Though her figure had softened somewhat with motherhood, it only enhanced her beauty as far as Jack was concerned. In fact, her softly rounded hips and full breasts caused many men to take a second, or even third, glance her way; something that caused Jack no end of annoyance.

He frowned as he took in the sight of a male jogger doing just that. The man had been running the opposite direction as Sam, but when she passed, had turned around and jogged slowly backwards, a wolfish grin on his face. Feeling a strong sense of irritation arise, along with a good dose of possessiveness that he usually kept well hidden from his dear wife, Jack began to stride purposefully toward her.

Sam slowed her stride as she reached their street. She breathed deeply, the exertion of her workout showing itself in the sweat on her face and upper chest. She glanced down into the stroller as she slowed, smiling softly at the picture within. Both children were securely strapped into the overlarge carriage and sat side by side. Grace was slightly slouched down, her head resting on her older brother's shoulder. Her eyes were closed, the long lashes resting against the chubby cheeks, and her chest was rising and falling in a deep sleep. JJ too was asleep, his teddy bear held in his arms as he leaned against the side of the stroller. His light brown hair was standing up in spots from the static caused by the nylon enclosure. Sam couldn't suppress a grin at how much he resembled Jack at this moment.

Grace as yet didn't have much hair. The little she did have was pressed tightly to her head, its light brown coloring similar to JJ's. Jack often joked that, the more hair he lost, the more Grace would get. Sam certainly hoped that wasn't true…she loved the short gray hair that her husband sported and didn't want to see him losing it anytime soon.

At the thought of her husband, Sam glanced toward their home, then stopped abruptly in surprise. For coming toward her was the handsome man she had just been thinking about. Sam smiled warmly at him as she began to move once again. As she came closer however, the smile died on her lips to be replaced by a look of concern. Something was wrong; Jack was not smiling in greeting but frowning fiercely. Feeling a sense of unease, Sam pushed forward until she stopped three feet in front of him, a questioning look in her eyes.

"Jack? What's wrong? Has something happened?" she asked quietly, not wanting to wake the children.

Jack's frown deepened as he looked at her. The sweat covering the upper portion of her shirt only accentuated her ample chest. No wonder that guy had been ogling her! His possessive instincts kicked into high gear, causing him to state without preamble, "You always go running through the park looking like that?".

Sam frowned in confusion; he had never made comments about her choice of clothing before. "What?" she questioned, an edge to her voice.

Jack caught her tone and wisely backed off. "Never mind," he stated, then looked down into the stroller at his sleeping children. His face softened as he stared at them; sometimes he couldn't believe they were his and they took his breath away. Getting down on his haunches, Jack unzipped the protective nylon slowly, then reached in and softly touched first JJ's head, then Grace's much smaller one, his lips quirking into a smile as he listened to their soft breathing..

Sensing the change in him, Sam tried again. "Jack, what's wrong?" She asked quietly, waiting for him to look up.

He glanced up at her then, brown eyes meeting blue, and read the confusion and slight hurt in her blue depths. Jack sighed, zipped the outer covering closed, and stood to his feet. He ran a hand through his unruly hair before replying. "I came home early, expecting to find you and the kids there. When I got inside, there was no sign of you. Nothing." His gaze narrowed on her. "You didn't have your cell phone with you," he said in a slightly accusatory tone. Yet behind the accusation, Sam could hear the underlying fear that made him use a tone of voice that he rarely used with her.

Sam frowned in puzzlement at him, but still replied calmly, "And where do you suggest I put it?" She held out her arms and looked down at the outfit she wore.

"Yeah, that's another thing all together," Jack replied, the gruff tone back in his voice. "Don't you think you could wear something more…baggy? And with pockets; lots of pockets for a cell phone, some mace, maybe a small knife…," he added.

Sam crossed her arms over her chest and regarded him carefully. "Jack, you've never been bothered by what I wear when I'm out jogging. Or about me not being able to protect myself. So please tell me; what is this really about?"

She stood patiently, watching the emotions playing across his face. Jack met her stare head on, then finally tucked his hands into his pocket and looked down when he realized he was acting like a jerk. Sighing loudly, he pulled one hand out and ran it once again through his hair, making it stand even more on end. Sam felt a strong desire to straighten it out, but refrained from approaching him until he told her what was going on.

"Ah, hell Sam. I'm sorry," he looked at her, an apologetic grimace on his face. "I guess I just…panicked when I couldn't find you and the kids. The house was open, your cell was left in the living room, Frasier hadn't heard from you since yesterday…"

"Wait a minute. You called Janet?" Sam asked in surprise. It wasn't like him to go jumping to conclusions like that.

"Yeah. I called Janet," he stated a bit defensively. "I was just on the phone to the SGC, ready to call in the Marines as well, when I saw you jogging down the street. For crying out loud, Sam, my stomach was in knots when I couldn't find you! It was that damn Moval incident all over again, but this time even worse! Now we have Gracie too." His eyes still held a glimpse of the panic he had recently been feeling as he gazed back into the stroller holding his sleeping children.

Sam finally approached him, resting her hand on his arm. "I'm sorry, Jack. I didn't expect you until dinnertime. Grace has been fussy for the last few days; I think she's teething. I thought the fresh air might settle her down again, and give me a chance to work off some stress. I never meant to worry you," she assured him, now reaching up and stroking her hand down his cheek.

Jack captured the hand and brought it to his lips, kissing her fingertips gently. "It's OK. I just missed you all so much, then to find you gone when I got home, the place abandoned,…well, I guess I overreacted a bit," he conceded sheepishly.

"Ya think?" Sam teased softly, raising her eyebrow for emphasis.

Jack released a grin. "Just be quiet and come here, woman," Jack growled playfully as he pulled her closer.

Sam put her hands on his chest to stop the forward progress. "Jack, stop. I'm all sweaty!"

"You think that's going to bother me? I kind of like the way the sweat…accentuates things right now," he replied, gazing down at her sweat soaked shirt, his eyes darkening with desire.

"That's not how you felt a minute ago," she reminded him, eyes narrowing as she recalled his comments about her attire, or lack thereof.

"Yeah, that," Jack sighed dramatically as he too recalled his earlier comments. "I was being an ass then too, I guess. I just hate the thought of other men staring at you, Sam. Like that guy who jogged past you a few minutes ago."

Sam's brows knit in confusion. "What guy?" She looked behind her shoulder, half expecting to see someone standing behind her.

"The guy that was…never mind," he said with a wry grin as he realized that Sam hadn't even noticed the other jogger ogling her. Truth be told, if she had, she probably would have given him an earful!

Sam shook her head in disbelief. "Jack, you know you're the only man I care about. We waited a long time to be together; we have two beautiful children. Nothing is going to change that…not your insecurities and overprotectiveness, my going running in non-baggy clothes…nothing. Do you hear me?" she finished a bit more firmly that she had planned.

Jack grinned again and gave her a mock salute. "Ma'am, yes Ma'am!"

Sam chuckled softly. "I have to agree with you on one thing; you really are an ass," she said with affection.

"Yeah. But you love me anyway," he declared, pulling her close and hugging her tightly.

This time, Sam didn't pull away, she just put her head to his chest and whispered, "Yes, I do love you, Jack O'Neill. Now take us home."

Jack happily complied with the request.