I know it's been a long time since my sister and I have updated either of our stories. Things have been beyond hectic here! We're writing the next chapter now, so hopefully we'll have it soon. Thank you so much for the reviews! We were very surprised (and very happy) at all the awesome feedback we got!
Chapter 9: A full house
"What the hell is going on here?"
Sam's eyes flew to the doorway. "Dad?
Jack made a mental note to make sure the next time a certain someone invited him to her brother's house for Christmas that it would be just her brother, his family and the two of them. No unannounced relatives. Jacob had only entered the Carter House a few moments ago, Jack was sure it was already Easter.
He shot a surreptitious glance at his second-in-command. Damp and pink, the Colonel was carefully avoiding both his and her father's eyes as she used a towel to sponge off a bit of the water.
"This… this isn't what it looks like," Jack began awkwardly. "We were-"
"Doing dishes," Sam said quickly. "And uh…"
"We spilled water-"
"She grabbed me-"
"And we fell-"
"And…" Sam trailed off. "Good to see you, dad," she said weakly.
"Sam," her dad interrupted, "Can I talk to you for a second?"
"I didn't think you were coming this year- you did radio in and say that the Tok'ra needed you to go on a mission-"
"Excuse us, Jack," Jacob said, grasping his daughter's arm. "We'll be right back." He grabbed her coat off the coat rack as they stepped out into cold evening. "Sam," he asked without preliminaries, "What is General O'Neill doing here?"
She pulled her coat around her. "Dad, we're friends- nothing more. He wasn't doing anything this Christmas, and I thought it'd be polite to ask him to come. If I knew what a fuss everyone would make of it, I wouldn't have."
"What are you talking about?" Jacob asked, his eyebrows rising with surprise.
"I am so sick and tired of everyone telling me how I should live my life! It's my life! Not yours! Why does everyone have to judge me- my life?"
"Sam," Jacob began cautiously after a moment, "I wasn't judging you. I was simply curious why he was here. Whether you brought the General here as a friend or maybe…" he swallowed, "maybe as something more, that's fine. It's up to you. I just wanted to say… I'm proud of you."
Sam bit her lip, feeling a little guilty for yelling at her father. "Why?" she asked after a moment.
Looking into her bright blue eyes, he answered with a small smile, "I am proud of you for so many reasons, Sammie, but what I am most proud of is how you risk your life to save the world everyday." He sighed. "I just want you to be happy, Sam."
"Dad," Sam started, touched, "I am happy."
Jacob shook his head. "No, Sam, you're content. There's a difference." He hesitated and then pulled her into a tight embrace.
"Thank you, dad," she whispered a moment later.
"No problem, kiddo." Jacob replied, stepping away. "Now, why don't we go see that brother of yours?"
Sam nodded and stepped into the living room.
They're just friends… friends…
He tried to calm himself down as he remembered the state they had found them in. After all, Selmak reminded him, it's not like he didn't want his daughter to be happy. O'Neill, Selmak continued, was a good, suitable man.
Except for his daughter. If that man couldn't see love right in front of him for eight years, he didn't deserve someone as good as Sam.
They were on the floor together! Who knows what would've happened if he hadn't walked in? They could've-
Jacob stopped thinking about that right there. He didn't really want to think about that. After all, Sam was old enough to know what she was doing. She wouldn't have done anything foolish- especially with Mark and his family in the next room.
Maybe he should have a talk with Jack…
"Dad! Are you coming?"
Jacob pulled himself back into reality. His daughter was peeking around the door, giving him a quizzical glance. "What?"
"Are you okay, dad?" Sam asked. "You look as though you've seen a ghost."
Jacob smiled reassuringly. "I'm fine."
Sam hesitated before looking back into the living room. "I should warn you- Carol's parents are here."
The Tok'ra stopped in his tracks.
"Dad," Sam said with a small laugh. "Come on, they're not that bad…"
"Grandpa!" Two excited children called, hurrying towards their grandfather. "You made it!"
"Jacob?" Cheryl Bishop rose to her feet. "What are you doing here?"
"Want something to drink, Grandpa?" Emily asked eagerly. "Water, soda, coffee…?"
He smiled at her. "Some water, sweetheart."
Emily dimpled and half-skipped out of the room, followed closely by her brother.
"What are you doing here, Jacob?" Cheryl 'asked' again.
"Came to spend Christmas with the family," he answered her without enthusiasm. "I didn't know you'd be here."
"Neither did we," she retorted.
"It's nice to see you," Jacob muttered after a moment's silence and a meaningful glance from his daughter.
Cheryl laid down her playing cards and stiffly nodded. "Yes… and to see you."
Mark stood up. "I'm glad you could come, dad."
"Sorry about just showing up," Jacob said, turning to his daughter-in-law. "I found out I could come at the last min-"
"Don't apologize," Carol insisted, giving him a quick hug. "We're always glad to see you."
"Indeed." Anthony grinned. "We older men need to stick together."
Carol's mother scowled at her husband who seemed unperturbed. After a moment, she spotted Jack who had slipped in only moments ago. "Jacob," she began slowly, "Have you met Samantha's new boyfriend?"
Jacob barely glanced at his daughter before answering lightly, "Jack? I've known him for years."
"Oh." Cheryl fixed her eyes on Sam. "It's been going on for years? Samantha, the last time we talked, you said you weren't dating anyone."
Sam silently sighed. "I wasn't- not," she corrected. "Jack and I are not dating now."
"I don't see why you're trying to hide it," Cheryl muttered. "It's not like he's anything to be ashamed of. And it's obvious the two of you are deeply attracted to each other- they can't stop looking at each other."
"Cheryl!" Anthony reprimanded as everyone automatically glanced at the couple. "Leave them be."
"Mom, drop it!" Carol snapped, massaging her forehead as she spoke. "Please?"
"Fine." Her mother sniffed and picked up her playing cards. Carol studied her mother for a moment and then began with a sigh,
"Mom, I'm sorry, it's just-"
"No, no- I understand." Mrs. Bishop said, waving her off. "Next time you invite me over, why don't you include a note saying that I can't have a casual conversation? Tell me, Carol, what may I talk about? Can I say 'hello' to Samantha?"
Carol rolled her eyes. "First of all, I didn't invite you- I didn't even know you were going to be here this year! And second, I would say this conversation is far from casual! You've been attacking poor Sam the moment you got here. Can you just leave this topic alone so we can try to enjoy the remainder of this Christmas?"
Sam sank deeper into the small loveseat.
"Very well. Carol, would you like to start the conversation?"
There was a long period of silence before Anthony muttered somewhat uncomfortably, "How 'bout them Dodgers?"
Jack didn't think he had been so relieved to hear a simple word before.
Carol had disappeared twenty minutes ago to make up the guest room for her parents. When she had shown her parents the room, Cheryl had made little remarks about the hardness of the mattress and general comments about the room until Carol, with gritted teeth, offered her own room. Sam, with many apologies, was moved into Emily's room; Derrick was sent downstairs to sleep on the couch, leaving his bedroom for Jack and Jacob.
"I am so sorry," Sam whispered as they stood in the hallway. Reaching for her cell phone, she continued, "We could call a hotel and see-"
"It's fine Carter," Jack said easily, gesturing for "It's not like your father and I haven't slept together before."
Sam arched an eyebrow as she tried to repress her giggles.
"No!" He said belatedly, "I mean, when we're on missions for the Tok- you know that I-"
"Of course sir." She gave him a demure smile. "After all- you're not his type."
Jack did a double take, causing Sam to release her laughter. As he watched her, a small smile spread across his face. "What is his type?"
"Short. Thin. Hairy."
Another giggle escaped her. "Exactly, sir," she agreed with as serious face as she could muster.
There was a moment of companionable silence, which was broken when the bathroom door swung open and Derrick immerged. They realized simultaneously how close they were and stepped back. "I'll uh... see you later, sir," Sam began, slipping around her nephew.
He nodded. "Night, Sam."
She looked over he shoulder. "Good night… Jack." She disappeared into the bathroom.
Derrick glanced at the closed door and then at the man he aunt had brought with her. "You really like her," he cheerfully informed the General. "Night."
- - -
Jack generally welcomed it. For the most part, it meant peace, quiet. Things he liked.
Right now, the silence in the bedroom was suffocating him.
"How was the flight?"
There was a grunt from the Tok'ra on the bed.
"Tok'ra doin' okay?"
"We both know you don't care how the Tok'ra are," came Jacob's bemused reply. Jack didn't bother to deny it. In his opinion, the Tok'ra were trouble with a capital T.
"Is the something you want to talk about, Jack?"
There was another long period of silence. "So… you retired now, O'Neill?"
"Not to my knowledge," Jack answered slowly.
"No? What about Sam? Did she forget to mention the fact that she had resigned?"
Jack saw where this was heading. "Jacob-"
"I will not let you continue something that could potentially lead-"
"You've got the wrong-"
"-to a court martial!"
"I'd advise against speaking," Selmak's deeper voice warned him. "My host is very upset."
"Tell him that Carter and I aren't doing anything against the regs!" Jack pleaded desperately. Jacob had once casually mentioned that the Tok'ra knew ten ways to kill someone without leaving a mark, and he didn't plan on being a test subject.
"Why have you accompanied Colonel Carter to her family's house?"
"Mark was trying to set her up with some guy. She thought by bringing someone, she'd escape another set-up-"
"And she picked you," Selmak finished.
"I was the last guy she asked," Jack rather reluctantly informed the Tok'ra. He would never have admitted it, but Carter's decision to invite him last hurt him a little. She asked Siler before approaching him. Siler. "Nothing's going on, Jake."
Both symbiote and host were quiet.
"All I want is for Sam to be happy," Jacob said suddenly. "I don't want her to get hurt."
"I'm not going to hurt her."
"Good. Nice chatting with you."
Jack let his head hit the air mattress with a thud. Who knew what the morning would bring?
I hope you liked it!