"Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa la la la la la la la la. 'Tis the season dum de dum de, fa la la la la de dum de daaaaaaa!"

Jack O'Neill couldn't keep the grin off his face as he listened to his wife singing in the shower. She couldn't hold a tune in a bucket and for a woman who could recite the periodic table backwards when drunk, she had a surprising amount of trouble when it came to remembering lyrics. He liked to think it was because her mind was on higher things… and not because she was just a bit rubbish when it came to singing.

Christmas day. The fire was lit, and Jack was seated in his favourite chair, classical music playing softly in the background as he waited for Sam to appear. He was a patient man. After all, he was damn lucky that she was here at all. They had so nearly screwed this up.

Yes, he could laugh about it now, but two years ago, he'd honestly believed that he'd lost her forever. It would have been his own fault if she'd married Pete. Jack knew that he had a stubborn streak a mile wide but he'd surpassed himself when it came to Carter. She'd tried repeatedly to get the message through his thick skull but Jack had refused to listen.

Jacob Carter's death had been the turning point. That moment in the observation room when she'd reached out and Jack had been there. He still had nightmares about what might have happened if he hadn't chosen that moment to check on her. After Jacob had passed away, Carter had cried for an hour and Jack had held her for the whole time. No thoughts about rooms or regulations, just two people who loved each other. When the tears dried, she had looked at him with new strength in her eyes and he knew that it was time.

So he asked her fishing.

Teal'c and Daniel came along, just to silence to gossips, but their friends didn't really intrude. He and Carter talked and talked and talked… more than they had ever done. Even after eight years, there was still a whole lot they didn't know about each other. They both knew that they couldn't afford to make any more mistakes.

Two months later Jack had asked her to marry him and Carter hadn't hesitated before saying yes.

"La la la, la la la, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to la in a la la la la slay!"

The sound of the shower running was soon replaced by that of the hairdryer and Jack knew that she wouldn't be much longer. Looking over at the tree, he checked to make sure that her present was where he had left it. Not that he really expected it to have been abducted by aliens but you never knew. He was fairly sure that Ba'al would love some hot pink lingerie, but Jack would rather see Sam wearing it.

"Do you want your present now or will you wait until the others show up?"

Jack turned his head to see Sam standing behind him.

"Didn't I get my present last night?" he teased.

Sam blushed. He loved it when she did that.

"I thought we were going to wait," he went on.

Sam bit her lip, a nervous gesture and Jack wondered why she was worried. She came around to face him, waiting for him to put his book down before sitting on his lap.

"What's wrong?" he asked as she snuggled against him.

In reply, she handed him an envelope.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Your present."

Curious, Jack ripped the envelope open and an official looking letter fluttered to the floor. Sam didn't seem inclined to leave his lap so he was force to strain to reach the errant piece of paper. Then he read it.

Once.

Twice.

Again.

"You sure?" he asked.

"It's early days… but the test results are positive and…" Sam took a deep breath and nodded.

Moving slowly, in absolute wonder, Jack let his hand rest on her stomach, imagining that he could feel something… could feel the fragile new life within. And he realised that he had nothing left to wish for.

"Happy Christmas," she whispered.