Title: Ripples

Author: Andraste

Category: Missing Scene/Romance

Disclaimer: Not mine, but I promise to put them back when I'm done.

Spoilers: Ripple Effect (S9)


"What?"

The voice on the other end of the line was decidedly grumpy. Sam belatedly remembered the time difference and realized someone had been sound asleep.

"Oh God, Jack, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to wake you up."

There was a grunt, then a yawn. "S'okay. Haven't talked for a couple days. Miss you."

Sam leaned back in her desk chair and glanced quickly at the open doorway of her lab. As late as it was, the corridors were blessedly empty. "I love you, Jack."

He must have heard something in her voice, as his response was considerably more alert. "Sam, what's wrong?"

Great. She'd woken him up, and now she was probably scaring the crap out of him. "Nothing. I can't call to just tell you I love you?" She tried to inject a little lightness into her tone.

"I love you, too. Now what's wrong?"

And apparently, she'd failed. She sighed deeply. "You've gotten the reports about what's been going on here?"

There was a snort. "Sam, this is the first time I've been home since that mess started. All the shrubs here were freaking out about security and crap. I tried to tell them that a dozen or more Carters was a good thing, but they just didn't see it."

"One Carter isn't enough for you, Jack?"

There was a long pause. He must have been considering what answer wouldn't get him killed next time they saw each other. "Uh… Well… I can barely keep up with just one. I was thinking more in terms of the planet's IQ. With that many Carters, just think how smart we'd look."

Sam bit her tongue to keep from laughing. "You keep up with me just fine, Jack. Actually, it's me who usually can't keep up with you, General Bundle O' Energy."

He chuckled, and the sound warmed her. "Wonder if I can get a nameplate for my desk with that." She could practically hear the smile through the line. "Now, Sam, you gonna get to what's bugging you?"

Nine years, and one would think she'd be able to pull one over on him. "Jack… You know that there was an alternate Janet. And Martouf."

"Yes. After your dad, Martouf was about the only Tok'ra I really trusted. And Janet…" His voice trailed off, and she heard him clear his throat.

Sam had a feeling they'd all be dealing with the repercussions of that visit for a while. The wound in their souls from her death two years ago had only just begun to scab over. Now, it was fresh and painful once again. At least this time, in some fashion, they'd been able to say goodbye. But that wasn't why she was talking to Jack at midnight.

"Jack, I did something stupid. Or almost did something stupid. God, I could kick myself. What the hell was wrong with me?"

"Sam? You wanna try breathing?"

She paused in her rant and took a deep breath.

"Good. Now, what the hell is going on? You're freaking me out here."

"Jack, I almost kissed Martouf."

There was another long pause. "Ohhh… 'kay…"

"Jack, I'm so sorry. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I wasn't thinking! He was telling me about his Sam… Did you know after he joined the SGC they had a relationship? Even lived together. But it didn't work out, because they realized that I… that his Sam was in love with someone else. We were standing there, and all this stuff was going through my head, flashes of me, Martouf, Jolinar, even though that hasn't happened in years… We were… so close, and then Kvasir interrupted… I'm sorry, Jack…"

All she heard was breathing on the other end of the line. "Jack?"

He sighed. "Sam. Relax."

"Relax? How can I relax? I'm telling you I just about cheated on you, and you tell me to relax?"

"Sam, you wouldn't have cheated on me. It was a moment. You got caught up in it. For crying out loud, you're human. How many times do I have to tell you that?"

He sounded angry, but not for the reason she was expecting. "Jack…"

"Sam. Shut up. Geez, let me talk. You can't throw a jumbled mess at me like that, especially not at… Whatever the hell time in the morning it is, and expect a prompt, coherent reply." She could hear the rustle of bedclothes in the background, and the click of Jack's bedside lamp snapping on. "Just because you haven't had any flashes of Jolinar in a long time doesn't mean she isn't still there. And Martouf, our Martouf, died in your arms. Minutes after our somewhat public confession of our feelings for each other, I might add. Jolinar might have been the one in love with him, but you cared for him, too. He was your friend. Now, after all these years, he's there, living, breathing, and right in front of you. God, Sam, if you hadn't reacted to him at all, I'd have worried."

Her grasp on calm was disappearing rapidly. She ran a shaky hand through her tousled hair. "Jack, I can't –"

"What? Have feelings? If mini Spock, Thor's buddy, hadn't interrupted, what would have happened? You'd have kissed Martouf?"

She squeezed her eyes shut. "Probably."

"Made out with him?"

She shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know…"

"Thrown him to the floor and had hot monkey sex?"

She nearly choked. "God, no!"

If it were possible to hear a smirk, that was the sound being translated. "There you go. I'll say this one more time. Then we drop it. It was a moment, Sam. Your feelings, Jolinar's, and Martouf's thrown into very close proximity in a very odd situation. Can we be done with this now?"

The sob was fighting to get out, but she choked it back, and he heard it. "Jack, I still feel like I did something wrong."

There was an exasperated groan. "Sam, you're not the only one who's gone through this. It happens. I'm sure you could come up with a formula or equation to explain it. Look, the more history you have with someone, especially someone of the opposite sex, the more likely something like this is to happen." There was a weary sigh. "Sara and I… We've had a few of these, well, moments. We have a history, and chemistry. It happens. We were married, pretty happily for the most part. We had a beautiful child. We lost him. The marriage ended. But the feelings didn't. We've both moved on, but whenever we run into each other, we have a moment. And honestly, we're both okay with it. After… After Charlie died, and Sara left… We had every reason to be nasty. Me because of how close to the edge I was, and her because of how I shut her out. But our feelings, our history, and yes, our little moments, are what's kept us friends. Is that something I should feel guilty about?"

Good Lord, that was about the longest speech she'd ever heard him make. And the most elegant. "No," she replied softly.

"Feel better?"

She cleared her throat and sniffled. "A little. I'm just really confused, I guess."

"No other Carters there to help you out?"

The sniffle turned into a snort. "No."

"Sam, do you believe I love you?"

There was no hesitation. "Yes."

"And, though I still haven't quite figured out why, other than you're insane, you love me?"

Finally, she smiled. "Yes."

"So… What's there to be confused about?"

For a man who didn't say much, Jack O'Neill had a remarkable way with words. "Good point."

There was another sigh, this one considerably happier. "So, now that that's cleared up… Wanna have phone sex?"

At last, the laughter bubbled out. "Jack! I'm in my lab!"

"So?"

"I'm going to go get some sleep. General Landry has offered to give us a three day weekend. Would you like some company?"

She could almost see the look of glee on his face. "Let's see… Phone sex, or the real thing. Gee, tough call."

She snickered. "Well, you think about that. I'll call you tomorrow… Well, later today, I guess, with my flight info." This time, the words were heartfelt and not tinged with guilt. "Love you."

She heard the lamp click off, and more rustling. She guessed he was settling back into bed. "Love you too. Always."

She sat there for a while after hanging up, staring off into space. Despite her glaring ineptness for sustaining romantic relationships, fate seemed determined to keep her and Jack together, no matter how much either of them screwed up.

With a smile, she remembered what Martouf had whispered in her ear as he'd hugged her goodbye, an answer to her unspoken question after Janet's declaration that their Sam was on maternity leave. That she'd given birth to a baby girl named Grace, and that Mom, Dad, and Baby O'Neill were healthy, happy, and content.

In reality after reality, Sam and Jack were together. As she closed up her lab for the night, Sam finally relaxed and let go of the last vestiges of guilt. She'd had a moment, as Jack called it. She loved Jack, he loved her, and that was what mattered most. Neither of them was perfect, and she was slowly beginning to accept that that was okay.

Love wasn't blind, but it did forgive.