Sam was waiting for Jack in the living room of their Virginia farmhouse when he got home. Since he'd believed her to be traveling out there somewhere in the darkness between the galaxies, and she knew that now with the Milky Way finally mostly at peace he didn't pay attention as closely to exactly where she was as he once did, she'd hoped finding her at home would surprise him. It did.
His entire face lit up as he saw her sitting on their sofa, but, typically, he suppressed the greater part of his smile. "Hey, Colonel, whatcha doin' home? I thought you were up there somewhere," he said, pointing upwards and trying to sound casual. Despite his best efforts, the corners of his mouth turned up as he spoke.
She stood and crossed the room to stand next to him. She didn't want him to get too close to the sofa. He gathered her into his arms, pulling her to his chest. She wrapped her arms around him, closing her eyes to savor for one brief moment the scent and warmth of him surrounding her.
But she didn't dare let the moment stretch too long. Breaking regretfully from his embrace even after years of marriage, she smiled up at him. "We returned early and I gave everyone a pass. Besides, I got you something and it couldn't really wait…."
This time, weakened both by her smile an her touch, and intrigued despite himself, Jack didn't even try to hide his own smile. "What?"
"C'mere…" Grabbing his hand, she pulled him towards the sofa. She reached around the side to where she'd hidden his gift. As she dragged out the sheet draped object, it emitted a high pitched, frightened squeal. Or rather, she corrected herself, its occupant did. Well, she'd been about to show him, anyway.
"What the…?" Kneeling down quickly, Jack pulled off the sheet. A small fluffy mixed-breed puppy sat looking soulfully up at them from inside the dog carrier the sheet had concealed. Jack looked back over his shoulder at her, amusement and confusion playing across his features. "You got me a dog?" he asked incredulously.
She squatted down next to him. Gently, she removed his hand from where it rested on the dog carrier and placed it on her abdomen. Shaking her head, she explained. "No, Jack. It's not for you. Like you said long ago to Cassie, every Earth child has to have a dog…"
She waited, watching breathlessly as the confusion in his eyes slowly gave way to wonder. And then, though she knew him well enough to know she'd have to help guide him through his self-doubt in the days and months and years ahead, the wonder dissolved into joy as full comprehension dawned. "You mean…?" he finally asked.
She nodded, laughing with relief at his obvious delight. "Uh-huh."
His laughter – precious for its rarity – joined hers as he grabbed to pull her to him. Unbalanced by the sudden movement, they fell tangled together onto the carpet. The puppy barked. They laughed harder.
And, deep in the darkness of her womb, pressed safe between his or her parents, the tiny life they had created together continued to grow.