Pairing: Sam/Jack

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The story chronicles a possible outcome of Sam's life, from age 16 to joining the SGC. When Sam's father and brother leave, a young Jack O'Neill is hired to look after her. First a friendship then a romance blooms.

Spoilers: I'll go into the '94 movie a bit, maybe even COTG. I might keep it going, rewriting certain episodes/scenes to incorporate the Sam/Jack relationship. I'll warn before any spoiler.

Season/Sequel: Pre-show, alternate universe of Sam's late teen years +

Archive: Anywhere

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters; I'm just borrowing them. I do, however, own this particular version of their lives, so don't steal. I promise I'll give Sam and Jack back after I've played with them for a while

Author's Notes: Every little choice we make decides how the rest of our lives pan out. In this story, one simple choice is made that brings Sam and Jack together, and they don't have to worry about military regulations preventing a relationship. I just wanted to see a world in which they come together at a convenient time, and I love fics about the characters' early lives, so this is the result of my obsession. I started this a long time ago, abandoned it, rewrote it, abandoned it, rewrote it, abandoned it, and I'm finally continuing it. Hopefully after all that it won't have many discrepancies.

Feedback: I love it! Anyone who wants to can email me with praise, flames, or whatever. Okay, please no flames. You'll make me cry.

Dedication: To all of those whose undying desire to see Sam and Jack get together drive them crazy while watching the show. If only the official writers of the show were as good as some of you fanfic writers out there are. To the constellation Orion, my unusual source of inspiration.

Sam sat on her front porch as the sun set low right behind where the American flag that was lit from all around, the luminous bulbs switching on as the up-coming darkness crept ever closer. She sighed as the few minutes of true beauty she was able to glimpse in this coldly impersonal place slipped beyond the horizon, and street lights popped on, one after another. Usually the dark made things seem more intimate, she thought, but here it just added to the starkness of the clone houses up and down the street.

She hated living here. Her house looked like everyone else's, no one seemed to add color and individuality to the place, and worst of all were the blasting horns every morning. No, this wasn't boot camp, it was life on a military base and everyone had to not only live the same way and sleep in identical homes, but they also had to all wake up at the same time. Even weekends.

Of course, her view of this life was biased by a vehement dislike of the military: it wasn't really all that bad. Nevertheless, for now, she simply hated it. 'It's not as if I have a choice,' she thought as she returned to the kitchen where her father tried unsuccessfully at cooking. She walked past him and up the stairs to her room, yelling behind her that she wasn't hungry.

'This is all there is', she thought as she paused by the doorway of her brother's room. He seemed to hate it even more than her. He blamed the military for their mother's death, and perhaps that was the root of Sam's own dislike of it. However, he was rebellious at heart, and he hated getting up everyday, calling their father 'Sir', and going off to school where he was ridiculed mercilessly for being a military kid on top of everything.

He sat on the edge of his bed now, headphones on his ears blasting rock music loud enough for Sam to understand. He didn't talk much anymore, only when Sir was gone.

She sighed again as she closed the door to her own room. With Mark withdrawn to himself and Sir being Sir, she had no one to talk to. It was times like these that she really ached inside for her mother. She always thought a young woman should have a mother to talk to, or at least someone who could maybe be a surrogate mother and give her advice when it was needed and be her friend.

She had no woman friends, and after seeing the few female military personnel she had met, she was sure she didn't want to even imagine their hard, stoic faces covered in green goo while they painted their toenails and laughed and cried as they watched all the best chick flicks.

The last thought she had as her eyes closed and the sweet unconsciousness of sleep took her was of her one true desire in life – a friend who could make her laugh without trying, and who, when they looked into her eyes, would see her as she was, and accept, even love her. Little did she know, a man on the far side of the base was thinking the very same thing.

Promptly at 7:00 in the morning, Sam rose with the sound of the morning alarm. Military life was always very punctual, she learned, and those who ran this base saw it fit that instead of staying up all night and sleeping all day, one should rise early and go to sleep early to produce a top amount of productivity. Right. Because there's just so much productivity to be made here, Sam thought as she made her way to the bathroom.

She had no problems with getting into the bathroom first in the mornings anymore. Dad's room and bathroom were downstairs, and Mark had learned to sleep with his music playing so loud he never heard the morning call.

After brushing her teeth and pulling her hair back into a braid so she didn't look like Frankenstein's bride, she made her way downstairs in her favorite faded blue nightgown. Her father said it wasn't appropriate for a 16-year-old girl, as it revealed too much for his taste, but she'd never give it up for anything. It had been her mother's. She wore it now in remembrance, a reminder as she drifted off to sleep at night that she wasn't alone, and though her mother wasn't there physically, she would always live on. Just as long as Sam kept the memory alive.

After pouring a bowl of cereal, she noticed the note stuck to the refrigerator door. It's clinical, precise handwriting couldn't belong to any other than one General Jacob Carter, or Sir.

"Sam, Mark," the note read, "I'll be leaving at 0600 hours this morning and might not return for months. Mark, don't forget you leave for the Academy soon; until then, take care of your sister. Sam, I've sent for a Lieutenant to watch over you while Mark and I are away. I'll be home as soon as I can. Stay out of trouble."

Stay out of trouble was probably the closest to I love you that they would ever hear from Sir. She threw the note away irritably and sat down hard in the stool by the breakfast bar.

"I can't believe he didn't say goodbye in person!" she said, tears already brimming her eyes.

"You know him. Goodbyes aren't his best thing. Now, being a cold-hearted bastard, he's good at that. Just not goodbyes," Mark said from the doorway. Sam jumped at the sound of his voice and turned to see him standing there, anger apparent in the lines of his face and set of his jaw. "He could have at least said goodbye to you, instead of surprising you like this."

She turned around in the stool again and played with food that suddenly didn't seem very appetizing. "I didn't know you were going to the Academy."

He sighed and grabbed a banana, then leaned on the counter in front of her. Though he really did act resentful to everyone most of the time, when it was just the two of them together he was the best big brother anyone could ask for. "I didn't want to go. But you know, there are many job opportunities for people who graduate from the Academy. Being in the military isn't my only option. I didn't know that I'd go while dad was gone though. I had no idea."

She smiled at his worry. Sir may not have been the attentive father she wanted, but she had a brother who would definitely die for her in a second. "It's fine Mark. Besides, didn't you hear? Sir got some fancy to do military person to watch over me while you're gone!"

Mark laughed as he playfully punched Sam's arm. "The Academy is only a few hours away from here. You ever need me, just call."

"Yeah," she laughed, "Mighty Mouse is on the way!"

They finished breakfast laughing and talking, and the day turned out to be a good one. 'Not absolutely everything is terrible and drearily boring in this place', Sam thought to herself.

Later that day, Mark went off to spend some time with his friends and Sam stayed home. The rest of the week was much the same. Mark spent a lot of time with his few buddies who would be going off to college, although none of whom would be going to the Academy. Evenings they'd watch a movie and order a pizza, or Sam would laugh at Marks attempts at cooking (the men of the Carter family weren't exactly known for their culinary skills) before interceding and making dinner herself.

In all, it was a peaceful week, that is, until Monday morning came and Mark finished up his final preparations for leaving to the Academy. She helped him carry his luggage down to the front hall so he could move them out to the cab easily when it came, and was just joking with him that he packed more than she would've when the phone rang.

"Hello?" Sam said, a laugh in her voice as Mark tripped over the suitcase she dropped by the phone.

"Sam, what in the world is going on over there?" Jacob said as a crash and giggle sounded through the phone. "Where is your brother?"

"Mark's right here," she said, calming down a bit, "do you want to talk to him?"

Hearing this, Mark shook his head in an exaggerated manner that spoke clearly to Sam, 'no freaking way'.

"It's fine Sam, I just wanted to make sure he wasn't still sleeping." Sam rolled her eyes at that. Sir never did trust them much. "That lieutenant will be by later today, he's a good boy. General Carrin recommended him. I have to go now Sam. I'll be home in a few months yet. Tell Mark I said good luck at the Academy."

Without giving her a chance to respond, he hung up the phone. A good luck from Jacob Carter was like a hug from any regular father. Because of the suddenness of his absence and the lack of communication, Sam supposed he was on a very important life or death mission, and he actually wouldn't be back for months to come. She sighed and placed the phone back in it's holder.

After they had all his bags downstairs, they sat down in the living room for one last brother to sister talk for what could be quite a while.

"I'm sorry for maybe not being the best big brother to you these past two years, Sam. You know I love you, right?" he said, with an almost…was it tenseness in his voice?

"Mark," Sam said, slow tears filling her eyes, "you've been the best big brother anyone could ask for."

Mark blinked when his eyes became embarrassingly moist and said, "Yeah but, I know that keeping hold of hate towards dad and the military, and being so ridiculously angry towards everyone couldn't have been a good influence on you."

Mark jumped in surprise as he was slammed by a hug from his little sister. A real hug, full of all the love they acknowledged in each other the past few years, but never really, openly expressed. A stubborn, errant tear fell as the barricade he'd built up over the past two years fell down.

Sam's own tears now flowed freely as she answered, "No, I understand. It wasn't fair, and you were grieving. Don't apologize for that. I love you, big brother."

"I love you too, kid."