A/N: One shot, Sam's point of view –her musings on her first July 4th as a married woman with children.


Growing up in a military family, I learned early on that life had rules.

The rules got in my way at first. I wanted to make my mark, to show everyone I had the right stuff. But the rules said I had to start at the bottom, the lowest of the low – a cadet at the Air Force Academy. So I did. My dad was proud that I chose a military career. He was sure I was following in his footsteps. He didn't know I was making my own choice, because it was what I wanted to do.

In the Academy, there were more rules. The rules that said respect your senior officers, keep your rooms neat, always arrive on time and salute snappily. Of course there were the more important rules that many of us learned, like 'never leave a man (or woman) behind'. I was pretty good at keeping rules. For the most part I wanted to do things perfectly so everyone would like me, especially at the beginning.

An unwritten rule I learned early on at the Academy was 'be one of the guys'. I know, that one's not on the books and no one would say it out loud, but it was clear from the beginning that being a woman in 'this man's Air Force' was still an unfortunate mistake. Those of us who learned to downplay our femininity and act tough as nails were the ones with a chance of moving up the ranks. So I learned to verbally demolish anyone who even thought of treating me differently because I was a woman.

Few people knew how really insecure I was. I was smart, usually too smart for my own good. A bona fide "egg head" as one of my favorite people would say. I think I scared a lot of people away. My favorite topic of conversation was quantum physics; not many cadets in my class shared that particular interest. Then again, physics had its own set of rules, laws we called them. The laws of physics became my friends; I certainly spent enough time with them.

If it weren't for instructors at the Academy constantly calling me away from the books and into more active pursuits as part of my training, I may never have honed the leadership and physical skills that have served me so well in the past few years of active duty. As it is, I learned more rules, the rules of engagement and strategies to stay alive in battle. And I learned well.

In the process I discovered many abilities I never knew I had. I'd been so seduced by science I'd ignored some of my natural abilities with people. I found out that when I let the conversation wander from Astrophysics Today, I was pretty good at making friends. I learned to enjoy other people, even when they had different interests and obsessions. I started to stretch the rules to accommodate new and even 'way out there' ideas. To my surprise, this openness actually helped my research and understanding of science. In fact, it was my willingness to let go of the accepted rules of science that allowed me to pioneer ideas in wormhole physics, the same ideas that led me to the Stargate program.

And then my life exploded. My understanding of the world was shaken by new discoveries – alien races, new power sources and unimaginable threats to the security of the planet. As an Air Force officer I was committed to defend the security of my country; assigned to the SGC, the security of the planet became my priority.

Of course with Stargate Command, more rules entered my life. Everything was secret. No one outside the command and those with Top Secret military clearance could know what I did at work. It was important that I adhere to this rule. As much as I knew this, it was difficult. This particular rule distanced me from my brother and made it nearly impossible to have any meaningful relationships outside my chain of command.

For the most part, the classified rule became a given in my life. It was a life that revolved around the program from the fateful day I'd first been recruited to macgyver a dialingsequence for the Stargate. But it was the program itself that presented my biggest challenge when it came to keeping rules. In honesty, it wasn't the program so much as it was my Commanding Officer. Despite my best efforts to avoid any thoughts, behaviors or appearances that might seem inappropriate or distracting to the mission, I knew from the beginning that I was in trouble.

Jack O'Neill was a threat on so many levels! Jonas and Pete, they'd never been threats. I was in control. Those relationships were on my terms and when they stopped being that way, I stopped the relationships. But Jack O'Neill? He was a different story altogether.

Giving in to the traitorous feelings that slowly infiltrated my heart would threaten my fiercely guarded independence. Loving Jack O'Neill would break the rules, hell, it would shatter them! I could kiss my career goodbye. Maybe it would be the end of the world, who knew. Needless to say, as the years went by, ignoring the feelings got harder and harder. Holy Hannah! Avoiding is what got me almost married to Pete. What a disaster that would have been!

Now here I am. It's the fourth of July -- Independence Day in my country. It's a day of celebration. I'm home, making breakfast for my husband, getting ready to feed two babies and planning to finish a work project this afternoon before going out to watch fireworks with family and friends. I've never been happier.

It was a surprise at first, when I finally gave in to those traitorous feelings. They broke the rules. Then again, they let me see the really important things in life. My freedom is complete now. I'm free to love and be loved in every way that matters. Married to a man who respects my abilities and loves me with all his heart, none of this is a chore. Sure my attention is divided now; work isn't everything anymore. After all, I have a life. But in my humble opinion, the quality of my work is better than it's ever been. It comes from a woman who cares at a whole different level. What better reason to 'defend the planet' than to defend the people you love, your family.

Jack O'Neill is no longer a threat. He's my husband, the father of my children and one of my three favorite reasons for defending the planet to the best of my ability. It's been nearly a year since I broke the rule that said I couldn't have all I wanted in life and the world as we know it is still intact. And I am truly free.

Hope you liked it. Happy Independence Day!