In the fireplace, a log popped on the grate, sending bright sparks dancing up the chimney, but Sam hardly saw the fire before her. Her thoughts were turned inwards, trying to make sense of the day's events.

She had known for as long as she could remember how temporary life was. That in the blink of an eye everything could change: a line drawn between past and present, what life had been lost forever to what life had become.

Sam has expected such a moment today – had prepared herself for it since returning without Daniel and learning the replicators had taken Atlantis. She had known what Jack's orders were in that event and what the Daedalus would do when it arrived in the Pegasus Galaxy. She had expected the worst, but knowing Jack for ten years had her at least partially prepared for what had actually happened.

Still, when she'd stepped into the control room behind Landry and seen Jack on the monitor – and she'd known instantly and completely that it was Jack and no other – the sudden rush of relief had been nearly too much. If it hadn't been for Teal'c's hand on her arm providing silent support, she might not have retained her composure. As it was, it was all she could do to remain silent until General Landry had given her the opportunity to talk.

Once Jack had severed his connection to the SGC, Sam had headed to her lab to call Brenda Woolsey. The resulting conversation had been surprisingly difficult. Having to pretend not to completely empathize with the other woman was harder than simple sympathy could ever be, while at the same time Sam was thankful that at least she knew where her husband had been and they could still share their experiences fully, without the secrecy which necessarily clouded most SGC personnel's private relationships. She never wondered if it might be it easier not knowing and not worrying until the worse suddenly happened. She knew the answer to that question.

This was why Sam didn't fully relax until she heard Jack's limo pull up outside their house, a few muffled words to the driver, the slam of the car door, and then his footsteps heading for the door. She was on her feet and at the door before he turned the knob.

As he stepped into the front hall, one corner of Jack's mouth twitched in a barely concealed smile. "You weren't at the SGC," he accused.

Sam shrugged and nodded, suddenly too weary to respond in kind. "Yeah. I just couldn't find the energy to be the Colonel to your General."

Understanding her more than her mood, Jack's only reply was to spread his arms for her. Sam stepped forward into his embrace so quickly that his, "C'mere," became a sigh into her hair 'Me, neither," was what he actually said.

Sam and Jack stood clutched together mere inches from their front door for many long minutes. She let herself be filled with the soapy just-showered smell of him, the feel of his warmth surrounding her, and felt him relax into her as well. Finally , regretfully, they released each other.

"Hi, Sam," he said.

"Hi, Jack. Welcome home… Which reminds me…" She turned towards the kitchen. They had a bet to settle, and she'd put the whiskey and other ingredients out on the counter all ready for his return.

He caught her arm and pulled her around to face him. "Jack?" she asked, but the heat in his brown eyes left no question as to his intent. "We had a bet…"

"I thought you said…"

"Later," he said, and his mouth descending on hers would have swallowed up any protest she might have made. Though, for once, Sam had no intention of arguing with him at all.