A/N: This final chapter of Life Goes On takes place about one month after Janet and Daniel's wedding.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
The familiar lyrics drifted softly from the family room as Jack and Sam cuddled together by the fireplace, singing along with the latest vocal rendition of White Christmas. Outside, the yard was appropriately whitened by the heaviest Christmas Eve snow Colorado Springs had seen in five years.
It was a peaceful sight. Seeing this couple together in their quiet, secure home, merrily decorated for the season, it was difficult to imagine the sometimes dangerous, stress-filled lives they led. Indeed, tonight, the O'Neills had nearly forgotten the ongoing search for one or more still unidentified strangers who seemed to be stalking their children. After all, it was Christmas Eve, and for a few magical moments, all was right with the world.
It was almost midnight now. Husband and wife cherished this time together, especially on this very special night. After playing Santa yet again, Jack would have been happy to call it a day an hour or so ago, but he had the feeling there was something Sam wanted to tell him. Actually, he was beginning to get a bit concerned.
Traditionally, Jack and Sam exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve once the children were "nestled snug in their beds". This year, Jack had surprised Sam with a lovely pendant version of a mother's ring, sporting the birthstones of each of their three children.
He'd been unprepared for the strength of Sam's reaction. Sure, she'd exclaimed over the beauty of the exquisite piece of jewelry, but there was definitely something more behind the tears that slowly gathered in her eyes. She'd kissed him sweetly and asked him to hold her. As she relaxed in his arms, Jack could feel her holding tight to the necklace he'd fastened about her neck just moments ago.
He was grateful when Sam began to stir, pulling away just enough to sit up and face him. She leaned in gently to stroke his face, smiling all the while.
"I have a present for you too, Jack," she began. "I wasn't sure how to tell you about it at first, but I think I'm ready now."
"Good, you had me a little worried there," he said, trying to keep it light. "I thought maybe old Santa had left some coal in my stocking this year," pointing to the family stockings hung on the mantle.
"I think we're going to need another stocking next year," Sam said softly, watching as her meaning dawned on her husband.
"You're not talking about getting that puppy Jake wants, are you?" Jack stated, more than asked, carefully watching his wife's face.
"Nope, not exactly," Sam said tentatively.
"I thought we couldn't …"
"Have any more babies?" Sam completed Jack's thought. "So did I. Seems I'm not as old as I thought I was. As Janet says, 'surprise'."
"Wow, you can say that again!" Jack said, a gentle smile creeping onto his face.
Sam studied her husband intently. "I'm sorry. I know I told you …"
"Sorry? Sam, there's nothing for you to be sorry about," Jack said, gently holding Sam by her shoulders. "We're having a baby! That's a good thing, right?"
Finally a small smile lit Sam's face as she took in the happiness of her husband. "So we're ready for a fourth little munchkin?"
"Yeahsureyabetcha!" Jack said happily, pulling Sam towards him gently for a kiss.
As they slowly ended the embrace, Sam couldn't help but notice a change in Jack's expression.
"What is it?" Sam asked.
"It's just… well…it occurred to me, maybe you don't want this baby. After all, you had some pretty hard months last time. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to go through that again."
Sam took a few seconds to consider her response, encouraged by the unwavering love and support she saw in Jack's eyes. "Honestly, I wasn't planning on another child, Jack," Sam said sincerely as she continued to sit close to the man she loved. "But this morning, when Janet told me I was pregnant, I was so happy. I could hardly wait to tell you. Then I remembered, you weren't planning on this either."
"Ever hear of Plan B, Carter?" he asked with his familiar smirk.
Rewarded with a giggle and his favorite smile, Jack O'Neill continued. "My only concern is for you, Sam. I want you to be healthy. I don't want to see you suffer like last time."
"I think Janet and I have that covered. We know what might happen this time around. We're prepared and if necessary we can treat the depression earlier. If it becomes an issue again, and that's a big 'if'. Frankly, I'm not planning another trip to save the world or another pre-term delivery, you know."
"Glad to hear it Mrs. O'Neill," Jack replied. "And another thing…"
"I love this baby already," he said.
Sam simply smiled at him adoringly, grateful at her core for the faithful husband and father she'd chosen over ten years ago.
"Thank you for the most wonderful Christmas gift ever, Sam," he said. Clearly, come what may, this fourth little O'Neill would be welcomed with open arms.
A/N: As I said at the beginning, Life Goes On was intended as a transition piece. It covered some important family events for the O'Neills and has set the stage for the next part of the Alone series.
Thanks for reading. Hope you come back for Part 8, which I'm hoping to start soon.