TITLE: None the Richer AUTHOR: Matt, Nov 2005 - January 2006
SUMMARY: Perhaps there were alternate realities out there. An AU Jack and Sam ponder the thought.
RATING: PG
DISCLAIMER: Original universe characters are not mine. But we never saw this scenario play out so I guess that makes it mine.
NOTE: I came up with this concept a short while back when I was wondering if we would ever get our empty propane tank filled. We did get it filled eventually, and now I've got this written as well.
THANKS: To Allie as always
FEEDBACK: Is always welcome.


As he slid into bed, he couldn't help but wince as his cold feet connected with those of his wife's.

"Sorry, hon," he muttered, but the damage was done; her body had instinctively inched away from him upon contact.

"It's okay," she replied softly. "Everything go okay?"

"I think so." He sighed. "The kid'll take good care of it, that's for sure."

"Well, that's good."

Was it? He'd just sold his prized telescope to some fifteen year old kid who evidently had more money than they did.

"Jack?"

He hadn't answered her. How could he answer her? He couldn't even answer himself.

Her body slid across the bed and he felt her head rest on his chest. "It's okay, Jack."

"I wish I had your confidence."

"You'll get work again."

Jack wasn't so sure. "Companies ain't looking for a man near retirement age, Sam. They want young blood."

Her head lifted and he felt her shift so she was propped up on her elbow. "They want experience, and you've got more than any 'young blood' in that department, Jack O'Neill." He could feel her looking down at him. "Give it time."

"We've not got time, Sam," he reminded her. "The reason I sold the telescope was because the unemployment didn't come in and the propane bill did. Damn it!" he groused, thumping a fist down onto the mattress. "I'd been with that company since high school and they have the nerve to move operations to Mexico."

"Jack."

"No, Sam. It's not right. I put in thirty years with them. Thirty wasted years of my life."

"They have not been wasted."

"How do you know?"

He hadn't wanted to fight with her. All he'd wanted to do when he came home was sleep, but it seemed sleep was going to be unobtainable in the short term. He should have just accepted her platitudes. But damn it, his pride was hurt.

"Because you've been with me for ten of them."

"And you still know nothing about me." He thought back to the decisions he'd made in high school. "I wasted my life, Sam. I had the opportunity to do a lot more and I didn't."

The recruiter had been so encouraging. According to him, Jack had a chance of rising high if he'd become career military. The tales had been enticing: fast planes and exotic countries. But something had held him back. Maybe it was his parents' increasing frailty, maybe it was Sara's love and attention and his desire to be with her forever.

His parents had lasted longer than his marriage had.

Sometimes… sometimes he wondered what might have happened if he had joined the Air Force. Where would he be now? Would he be married to Sam? Or still to Sara? Would he be with someone completely different or on his own, heading up some unit somewhere in the middle east?

Maybe she could read his mind; he often joked that she could for all the times she said something that followed his line of silent thought. "I read this book today," she began.

"Oh?" She loved to read.

"About alternate universes and realities."

"And?"

"You ever wonder if there's another universe out there, with us in it?"

He laughed hollowly. "Then I hope that Jack O'Neill hasn't made the same mistakes I have."

"Do you call marrying me a mistake?"

Her father had thought it a huge mistake, especially given that he was so much older than her. But no, marrying Samantha Carter could never be classed as a mistake. "No, sweetheart. I could never think that."

"Oh. Good."

"But I wonder what might have happened if I had gone to the Air Force Academy when I'd had the chance. Maybe there's a me out there that did."

She lay back down and snuggled close to him. "Do you think he met me?"

He laughed. "Maybe you're in the Air Force as well."

Sam laughed. "Sure, Jack." It sounded as though she didn't quite believe him.

"Hey, it could happen. We could be out there somewhere saving the world…"

"From hostile aliens."

"What exactly was in this book you read?" he asked in disbelief.

"Actually, it was on the cover of Weekly World News. I saw it when I was at the store today. Apparently, the military is supposedly fighting off alien attacks everyday."

He chuckled. "Little gray men wanting their comrades' bodies returned to them after all these years?"

"The report said they were pretending to be Egyptian gods."

"Who? The military?"

"No, stupid." She reached out and lightly hit his arm. "The aliens."

"And you read it," Jack jokingly scolded her. He pulled his wife close to him and kissed her forehead. "I guess anything's possible, isn't it."

She nodded against his shoulder. "Including you finding work," she said sleepily.

No more words were said and it didn't take long for him to notice the change in her breathing. Sam was asleep.

He thought about their conversation. His wife was a voracious fiction reader, mainly for romances but occasionally for thrillers and political espionage as well. As a consequence, her imagination knew no boundaries. This time it appeared she'd ventured into the realm of science fiction.

Alternate realities. He thought about it for a bit and wondered about the other Jacks and Sams out there. Were they together in other realities or were they complete strangers, unknowing of the other's existence? Were they colleagues as he and his Sam had been before she got laid off in the first round of job cuts? Or, as they'd joked, were they military where one was of a higher rank than the other?

Wherever they were and whatever they were doing, Jack just hoped they were as happy as he was. Sure, he didn't have a job, and he'd just had to sell his precious telescope to pay the bills, but he had Sam.

That counted for a lot.

FINIS