(Time: About four weeks after the events of Line in the Sand.)

The sun was rising. Though the superheated bringer of daylight had yet to cross the horizon, the muted pink glow that graced the eastern sky assured him dawn was imminent.

His timing was perfect, as always. Once he'd seen her, assured himself she was alright, he'd start his self appointed task. By then, there would be more than enough daylight.

Stealthily, the well trained soldier turned a key in the lock, opened the front door and walked in. Even now, after more than a year of regular visits to this residence, the layout of her home surprised him. Fortunately, the pre-dawn light illuminated the darkness enough to provide safe passage without benefit of artificial light. If she was still asleep, he didn't want to wake her.

God knows, she needs her sleep, he thought to himself as he made his way toward the bedroom. Sleep, rest, a balanced diet and freedom from stress had been the doc's orders. She wasn't one to follow orders very precisely, but she didn't have much of a choice as far as he could tell. Last time he'd seen her, it was all she could do to move from the couch to the bedroom.

Grateful for his long years of military training, he opened the bedroom door silently and crept towards her bedside, his breathing controlled, nearly non-existent. Sure enough, she was fast asleep. From what he could see, she had no idea there was an uninvited visitor standing over her. That worried him. Still, she was sleeping peacefully, a look of serenity on her beautiful face.

Resisting the nearly overpowering urge to lie down beside her, Jack O'Neill smiled softly at the sleeping figure of his wife. She is so beautiful, he thought. I can't imagine how I'd go on without her.

In spite of himself, Jack pulled away from the bed and made his way back out the bedroom door. It was time to start the project he'd laid out for himself. Without further ado, he made his way to Sam's garage and found the tools he needed. Wheelbarrow, shovel, rake, a smaller shovel and a trowel; that should do it for now, he thought.

As he gathered the materials he'd brought with him, starting to open large bags his friend had left for him, Jack flashed to his last conversation with Sam before the ill-fated mission. On a particularly nasty March afternoon in Colorado Springs, they'd been looking forward to spring. Sam had begun to recall some of her favorite childhood memories. Before she knew it, she was describing in detail her mother's rose garden, a source of wonder and joy during her early childhood. He'd seen the happiness in her eyes as she described the magic times she'd spent tending the flowers with her mother. From what he remembered now, it seemed planting a garden had been a spring tradition for Sam while her mother was alive.

On that miserable March afternoon, while sleet and snow pounded against the windows and Jack wondered if he'd ever make it back to Washington for his Monday morning meeting, Sam decided this was the year she wanted to have a garden. She was forty years old and so far, as an adult, she'd yet to plant a single flower. But now, for the first spring of her married life, she longed to have a garden of her own. And on that, their last day together before her near fatal injury, she'd shared that simple dream with her husband.

Even now, more than a month later, with his wife well on the road of recovery and definitely out of danger, Jack cringed to recall his less than enthusiastic response.

While Sam waxed poetic on the beauties of a spring garden, Jack had told her in no uncertain terms that gardening was not an activity he enjoyed. "I don't have the patience to wait for things to grow" were the exact words that had made their way from his mouth. Stupid, stupid, stupid, he thought. All Sam wanted was a garden and a husband who'd love it as much as she did.

Of course, Sam had laughed off his scorn, chalking it up to the same ignorance that had kept her away from fishing for so long. (Not exactly, but he knew what she meant!) And he'd gone back to Washington, not really giving the conversation a second thought. Hey, Sam would plant her garden and he'd tell her how nice it was, but Jack O'Neill wasn't one for digging in the ground.

Then everything changed. A phone call from Hank Landry had rocked his world. Sam had been hit by an energy weapon on a nameless planet SG1 was defending. It didn't look good. He'd been back in the Springs as soon as a transport could get him there, furious that Thor hadn't been available and trembling inside at the thought of his wife fighting for her life. By the time he'd made it the SGC, Sam was out of surgery, but not out of the woods by a long shot. He'd sat by her bed for days, occasionally taking a five minute break, but most often eating meals by her bedside and sleeping with his head on the side of her bed, waiting for her to wake up.

When she had, he'd been relieved. He'd been given a second chance. They'd been given a second chance. How could he have started to take her for granted so soon? He'd asked himself. An incredible woman, the love of his life, how had he assumed she'd always be there. Sure they'd been lucky enough to finally get together. But even for the miraculous SG1, there wouldn't always be a tomorrow, he realized

Three weeks after surgery, Sam had been home and doing well. After a week, she'd insisted she was well enough for Jack to return to Washington and catch up on his Homeworld Security responsibilities. Reluctantly, with Janet's assurances, Jack had agreed.

For the past week, he'd called, or Sam had called, at least twice a day. To Jack's way of thinking, it wasn't nearly enough. Originally he'd planned to return in another week, but missing Sam got the better of him. Besides, she'd sounded so sad. It was finally spring but it would be weeks before Sam would be in any shape to clear the ground and plant her garden. She'd sounded sad. He'd been worried.

So here he was. The fifth of May, 0600, the sun just clearing the horizon, garden tools scattered around him, bags of topsoil, fertilizer and mulch piled in the driveway, and a variety of roses and other flowers arranged over to the side. The Major General had to admit he had little idea where to start, but operation Sam's Garden was underway.

A/N: I was clearing some annual beds this afternoon. Every muscle aches right about now, so I decided writing was the thing to do. Jack might as well suffer with me!

Hope you like. One more chapter to come: Sam wakes up!