A/N: When the Bough Breaks can be read as a stand alone story or as part of the Alone series. For those of you following the Alone series, this story follows the end of Saving the World.


Somewhere over Chicago, Jack O'Neill sat scrunched up in a military transport, speeding home to Colorado Springs in the middle of the night.

As a three star General in the United States Air Force, Jack was entitled to more comfortable transportation. But he'd been unwilling to wait. As soon as his final command performance as head of Homeworld Security was over, he'd made his way to the nearest military airfield and hopped the first transport to Peterson Air Force Base. He wanted to get back to Sam and the children as soon as possible. Despite assurances from Janet earlier that evening, he had a bad feeling about what was going on at home.

Married nearly seven years now, Jack knew he was a lucky man. He'd been blessed with three incredible children and a wife he loved more now than the day he married her. Grace and Jake, their twins, had recently turned five and were looking forward to kindergarten this fall. Baby Jon was just eight weeks old. Born eight weeks early, Jack suddenly realized that today was the baby's original due date.

The past year had been unbelievably stressful for the O'Neill family, especially for Sam. Only six months after a miscarriage, Sam had learned she was pregnant again. At the same time she'd begun to suffer with intractable headaches. Shortly after this, the twins, who'd been born with surprising telekinetic abilities, had been called upon to help in the battle against the Ori. And Sam, well in the end, she'd been so ill, she'd died and ascended. Oh God, none of it even seemed real now, Jack thought. For much of that time, even he'd thought they were all in some sort of bad dream.

Finally, just two months ago, the battle against the Ori was over, Sam had rejoined her family on the mortal plane and Jon was born. The baby had been delivered unexpectedly at home. Although he did very well for a baby that premature, he'd stayed in the hospital six weeks before the doctors felt he'd gained enough weight to be discharged.

Sam hadn't been the same in the few weeks since Jon's birth. While Jon was still in the hospital, Jack and everyone else chalked up her moodiness to nothing more than the 'baby blues'. He'd never known Sam to be 'blue" before, but these weren't normal circumstances. She'd been through hell and back recently; she was certainly entitled to some down time as far as Jack saw it and he was determined to give her whatever she needed.

Jack was surprised; he'd thought Sam would feel better once the baby was home. But after Jon left the hospital, Sam withdrew even further, spending more of her time alone, avoiding Jon as much as possible and not paying much attention to the twins for that matter. Something was wrong. It had to be more than the 'baby blues'. He'd mentioned his concern to Sam but she'd insisted she was fine and just needed a little rest.

To make matters worse, Sam was pulling away from him as much as everyone else.


At the O'Neill houseā€¦

Sam awoke to the sound of her infant son's persistent crying. He was always crying. Why wouldn't he just sleep through the night?

That's all she wanted to do right now, sleep. In fact since Jack had left for what he promised would be his last weekend trip to Washington, she hadn't gotten out of bed very much at all. She knew something was very wrong but she didn't have the energy to do anything about it. Jack had been so worried he'd asked Janet to stay with her for the weekend. But Janet had been called in to the SGC on an emergency an hour ago, leaving Sam home alone with the children.

"Mommy, Jon's hungry. Are you going to feed him?" Grace said, slowly entering her mother's bedroom. Grace sensed something was very different about her mommy these past few days and she really wished Aunt Janet hadn't gone.

Sam turned in bed to face her little girl, just barely registering the fear on the small child's face.

"Grace, Mommy's tired. Why don't you feed Jon? There's a bottle in the refrigerator," she said.

"But, I don't know how to feed him Mommy. He's little," Grace protested.

"I know you can do it, Princess," Sam said, smiling weakly at her daughter. Although she knew what she was saying was wrong, her mind couldn't think of an alternative. And she couldn't pull herself out of bed. It would be okay, Grace was a big girl now, she thought.


Thirty minutes later, Jack was home. After arriving at Peterson he'd found an airman from the motor pool to drive him home. As he opened the front door, he knew there was trouble. It was Monday morning, 0700 hours. The house should have been in its usual barely controlled chaos, getting the twins ready for preschool, feeding Jon, folding laundry.

Instead all was unnaturally quiet.

The only lights on were in the family room. As he entered, he saw a sight that broke his heart. His usually animated preschoolers sat sullenly side by side on the couch.

Grace was holding baby Jon awkwardly on her lap with a bottle held to his lips. Much of the milk contained in the bottle had drizzled over both Jon and Grace as the baby had fussed at Grace's well intentioned, but somewhat inept attempts to calm and feed him. Jake sat by her side, holding a washcloth, trying his best to clean things up.

Where is Sam? Jack thought, barely restraining his growing panic.

"Daddy .." came a plaintive, clearly relieved greeting from his daughter. "I'm glad you're home."

"I called Aunt Janet, she's sending someone over," Jake added, jumping up to run to his father's side.

"Where is Janet? Where's Mommy?" Jack asked as he gently took the baby from Grace's arms.

"Mommy's still in bed and Aunt Janet had to go to work very early", Grace added. "And Jon won't eat at all."

"It's okay, Princess. Jon's going to be just fine," Jack said as he sat down next to Grace. Holding Jon in one arm, he pulled Grace to him with his free arm. She was clearly beside herself, frightened by both her mother's behavior and the responsibility she knew she couldn't handle. As Jack checked out baby Jon and reassured Grace, Jake sat close to his father as well, his eyes reflecting his own uncertainty.

Less than five minutes after Jack's arrival, Daniel came running in through the front door. Jack had failed to close it in his rush to see to the children.

"What's wrong? Janet said to get over here right away," Daniel said.

"That's what I'm gonna find out, Daniel. Sit with the kids for awhile, will you? I need to talk with Sam."