The bark of a dog pulled Sam back from her memories into the present. She barely had time to get to her feet and take a step towards the cabin's door before it was flung open from outside. Two small children bounded into the room, noisy in their excitement at finally being freed after the trip to Minnesota from D.C. An equally exuberant mixed breed mutt ran in behind them.
"Mom!" Her eldest Matthew called upon seeing her. "We're here!"
"I can see that—" she began, but was cut off from a voice at the door.
"And hear you," Jack said quietly from the cabin's entrance. "I thought I told you two to keep it down. Your brother is sleeping, for crying out loud."
Jack's concern seemed pointless. Carter stayed quiet in his arms, small blonde head tucked against his father's shoulder, oblivious to the noise in the way only a child with two older and very loud siblings could be.
"Sorry, Daddy," Denny apologized, having turned her own volume down nearly imperceptibly. Still, she'd tried. Sam glanced across at Jack, the sparkle in his eyes letting her know he was having as much trouble hiding his amusement as she was.
She held out her arms for Carter. It had been a long week. "Here, let me take him. You and these two hooligans can unpack the jumper while I get him settled."
Jack winked at her, "Yes, ma'am." Turning to the two older children, he ordered, "Here that, you two. We've got our orders." And he pushed the two kids out the door in front of him, followed closely by the dog.
Sam carried Carter into the kids' bedroom and placed him on his small cot. She finished tucking the blanket around him and as she kissed his smooth forehead, Jack spoke quietly from behind her, "Hey, gorgeous."
She stood up and turned to him, smiling, "Hi." She couldn't help but compare this Jack to the Colonel of her memories. Brown hair had gone completely silver in the intervening years, the lines around eyes and mouth more pronounced, but the quickness of his smile and the sparkle in his eyes made him look somehow younger despite these evident signs of age.
As if reading her thoughts, Jack wiggled his eyebrows at her. "I've got the kids gathering firewood…" he began.
She chuckled softly as she crossed to him, "Don't you ever think of anything else?"
He whined in a perfect imitation of Matthew as he gathered her into his arms. "But… it's been a week…" Then, obviously recollecting the reason behind their separation, he asked, "Hey, ya finish your book?"
She nodded, "Yup. All done."
"Sweet. All about naquadah reactors, right?"
She nodded again.
He asked, too innocently as she later realized, "Do you want me to check it over for you?"
"Jack, thanks, but what do you know about naquadah reactors?"
He smiled down at her, a wicked gleam in his eyes. "As you may recall, a certain hot young Air Force Major once described them rather thoroughly to me one night on P3X--… something or other…"
Her mouth fell open in shock, and his smile grew still broader at her reaction. "I thought you'd forgot—"
Jack interrupted her, bringing his face nearly to hers before whispering, "I could never forget this—" And any response Sam might have made was lost as Jack closed the final distance between them, his mouth claiming hers in a kiss which, even after all this time, still made all rational thoughts impossible.