Part 12: Hanging a lantern on it

It had been close, too close. Sam was forced to go through her worst fear of losing Jack and being helpless to stop it. But somehow miracles do happen and she'd been granted a second chance. Jack O'Neill was given back to her.

For Jack it was pretty simple, dying wasn't good but he didn't die. Feel blessed, thank Thor, be happy, and move on. But he knew nothing was that simple for Sam, she had that big brain of hers and it tended to take longer to work through stuff. So, Jack did whatever he had to do to help her though it. Actually, it took less time than he expected.

Samantha Carter was clingy. That was the best word Jack could find to describe it. She'd follow him around the house. Any time he sat down, she'd snuggle up at his side.

The sex was pretty intense– which he certainly wasn't complaining about. Until one night in the middle of it, she began to weep. Jack held her until the river of tears ebbed, then he began to move inside her again, only this time slowly, gently, tenderly. He whispered sweet nothings into her ear, which he never did. But Jack figured she deserved it at least once.

Also, Sam made him go into work with her. That part just about nearly killed him all over again. To be cooped up in her lab for 10 hours– because Jack didn't have clearance to go anywhere else at Area 51– and be forced to entertain himself. A yo-yo and a comic book only go so far.

Sam would be working intently on something and suddenly a split-second of panic would cross her features. She'd look up, searching, until she met his eyes. Then she'd smile. One of those Sam Carter specials, a sunshine smile meant for him and him alone and that made it all worth it. It was worth any amount of torture, including endless hours of technobabble.

It finally passed, as Jack knew it would. As much as Sam loved him, and as much as she'd gone through her own personal hell, she was always going to be the same fiercely independent, capable woman she always had been. Sam began to get engrossed in her work and forget that anything else existed in the universe, including Jack. She stopped following him around and sometimes shoved him away when he was getting really annoying. Yep, she was back.

So, Jack was healed, time passed and now life went on much as before for the rest of the world. But for Samantha Cater and Jack O'Neill, it was as if Earth had titled on its axis. They were together, and they had a future ahead of them. How could anything compare?

Jack decided to make retirement permanent. Sam tried to argue with him about it saying that he would get bored and in an attempt to amuse himself, he'd drive Sam nuts.

She argued but Jack wouldn't listen to her. Now that she was no longer under his command she could be one pushy women, speaking her mind and trying to get exactly what she wanted from him. In bed, that wasn't a bad thing. But otherwise…

As for the retiring issue, Jack was so far holding firm. Until Woolsey showed up at the door to Jack's house one morning.

Jack let him in and offered him a cup of coffee, which Woolsey declined. Woolsey had just gotten out, "…so that's why we're offering you this chance to..." When Sam came out of the bedroom. She was in her robe and her hair was distinctly "bed head."

Woolsey looked back and forth between them, until it all sunk in. "Right. Probably not going to take the job then. I understand, Jack." Woosley let himself out.

Sam turned and raised her eyebrows, waiting for Jack's explanation.

"He offered me a job." Jack shrugged and retreated into the kitchen to get more coffee. It was going to be a long day, and large amounts of caffeine would be crucial.

"What kind of job, exactly?" She asked, following him.

"Sam, we agreed that I would retire. Occasionally doing the laundry and a little fishing, but mostly being your cabana boy."

Sam ignored it. She wasn't going to let him wiggle out of this, change the subject, or charm her into distraction.

Two weeks later, Jack was off to his new job in Washington. With of course, negotiated three-day weekends off in order to spend time in Colorado Springs.

Sam convinced him to bargain and make demands. If they wanted Jack O'Neill back, they would have to do it on his terms. Jack was actually quite shocked at how much they were willing to bend over backwards.

Sam wasn't sure how she felt about being back on SG-1. The threats were real, and had Daniel more concerned than he ever was about their eventual defeat of the Goa'uld.

Going through the gate again was at the same time a thrill and also a burden. It meant that Cassie would worry more, and likely Jack would too. But being there for Daniel, Teal'c, and even Mitchell now, watching their six and helping to find the means to defeat this threat to not only Earth but the entire galaxy, it felt right. At least for the time being anyway.

Sam currently sat in a surveillance truck with Agent Barrett, letting her mind wander through all these recent changes in her life and contemplating bringing up the marriage discussion again. Maybe when Jack came home from Washington this weekend.

Sam wasn't really listening to Barrett, and then suddenly he had her undivided attention. Was Barrett really hitting on her? Sam almost wanted to laugh if the whole thing didn't feel so awkward. Of course her and Jack's relationship wasn't something they were flaunting and certainly with his return to active duty, that would remain so for the time being. It was part of the deal made that allowed for both Jack's return and for their relationship to continue. Yet, she had to let this poor guy off the hook, gently.

"So, you're single then?" Barrett asked hopefully.

"Not exactly." Sam tried to keep a neutral expression and quickly turned back to the task at hand.

Two days later, lying in the dark at Jack's side she recounted the moment. Jack repeated, "Not exactly?"

"Yeah, well, I was taken a little by surprise."

"And yet," Jack reminded, "not single." Sam almost groaned. He was very much enjoying this. "My genius, logical Carter, making no sense at all. Who'da thunk it was even possible?"

"Can we not talk about this, please?"

"I'm all for not talking."

She agreed, "Thank you."

"But I'm just sayin'" Jack rolled over her and ran a hand down her torso. "Maybe all this hot sex is killing your brain cells?"

Sam smiled. "I don't think so."

"No?" He leaned in and placed a kiss on her jawline. "Good 'cuz I wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining a national treasure."

"Oh, you've ruined me all right." Sam shifted her hands up around his neck. Her fingers raked through the short hair on the back of his head. "You've ruined me for any other man. So much that I don't even notice anymore that they're remotely interested. It's the furthest thing from my mind. I was shocked."

"Can we stop talking about him when I'm trying to seduce you, please?"

Sam leaned into him, kissing him softly. She swallowed a moan as Jack moved above her, his weight settling between her legs.

Maybe Jack was right. Maybe it was killing her brain because Sam couldn't think of anything but him as they made love. Perhaps that was all right.

Tomorrow was another mission and there would always be another new threat out there, and then another after that. For right now, right here, they had only each other and they would face tomorrow together. That was a gift.

Fin