Disclaimer: Obviously not mine, because if it were Jack would have thrown Sam on that briefing room table and...well...coughs

Rating: K (mention on sexual situations, kinda minor but you've been warned.)

Spoilers: Anything and everything! Season 9 and 10 don't exist in this story, however General Landry and Dr. Lam do. I like them.

So I found this on my laptop, thought I'd finish it and post it. I am working on my other stories (in fact, trying to write chapters for ALL my unfinished stories...gah!), but thought I'd give you guys some respite in the mean time.

Basically this kicks off from Moebius and follows them for the rest of their lives...eek! Enjoy, and don't forget to rate it!

Definitely not been betaed, if you want to be my beta reader, drop me a line :)

Oh, and if you don't get it, this is Sam telling a sort of story, like a memoir sort of thing.


Sam's POV

My relationship with Jack had never been what you could (or would) call normal, 8 years dancing around each other, fighting what we felt for each, we got very very good at dancing. To the point where I nearly married another guy, and he had a girlfriend. Someone, Daniel I think, once asked me when it was that I knew that I loved him, of course I could state something really obvious, like when we were trapped on either side of that force shield, or the whole Jolinar incident. Janet told me later that he had been close to tears when they were working on me, I was pretty…dumbfounded to be honest. When did a I realise that I loved him?...I think I can narrow it down to one night on a planet, and whilst most everyone would consider this another day and another mission, but to me it's the mission that changed everything. I was on last watch, Teal'c was kel-nor-reeming in his tent, Daniel was out like a log, and Jack? He was fiddling with the small fire that we were using to keep the cold out, and the sun peeked over the trees…well, the first sun did. He looked up, eying the tree line and I was sitting behind him, and for the briefest moment he was silhouetted in a brilliant orange light, my breath had caught in my throat and I knew in that single moment that I couldn't live without that man in my life, that my crush had somehow turned into love.

After my father died, and after Pete was gone. He took us all fishing, Daniel, Teal'c and myself. I know I wanted something to happen during that holiday and, thinking back, I'm rather proud of our self restraint to be honest. But, I knew that that holiday was important to us…if we wanted a future. Daniel and Teal'c were there in case someone wanted to pin something on us, we were, after all, still in the Air Force, and he still was my CO, but I loved that holiday with him. Seeing him bleary eyed, with mussed up hair fixing the fire in the morning, it made me realise why we were there. He wanted to give us time to get to know each other outside of the SGC, to know each other as Jack and Sam. For some odd reason, I couldn't say Jack. I wanted too, but I had trained myself so well…too well, to say sir and think Jack. It had taken only a day for him to snap, I asked him if he wanted sugar on his oatmeal for breakfast, and this is pretty much how the conversation went…

"Sir, would you like sugar on your oatmeal?" I was in my pj's, ie my old pair of academy sweat pants and an oversized jumper, my hair hadn't even been brushed. Jack was sitting at the rough hewn table, doing a crossword (I mean, actually doing it right…though he had to ask me for the answers a few times), wearing only his own pair of sweats, (have to say, whilst it was a lovely view, it really did stretch my limits of self control.) and sipping at his cup of coffee, his thin reading glasses perched on his nose. He had looked up at me, eyeing me from head to toe in a gaze that nearly melted me into a puddle right then a there (or at least had me begging him to…umm, yes well, let's not go there!) and drawled…

"Carter…I'm in a pair of sweats, you are in your pj's. We are at my cabin in the middle of nowhere, with not another human around for at least 20 miles, and to my knowledge not another Air Force officer for another 50…would it kill you to drop the sir?"

"O…kay, sir…Jack…sorry, old habits die hard."

"Say it again Carter."

"Only if you promise me something."

"Carter…"

"That! My name is S-A-M…Sam."

"Sam."

"Jack."

"Sam, I would love sugar on my oatmeal."

That was probably the first time since…well, since he found out about Pete that he called me Sam, and it was few and far between that he had called me Sam in the first place. Of course, there was that time when I was hallucinating when he called me 'Samantha', and even now, years after the fact it still sends shivers down my spine when he calls me that.

So anyway, I was telling you about…fishing? Oatmeal? Whatever. When we got back to the SGC, Daniel had gone off to work in New York (he had decided to donate some of Katherine Langford's collection to the museum and was helping them to set it up, in a way I felt that this was his way of making sure that Katherine lived on, I think Daniel thought he owed her that…for it was her, contacting him that started it all, I doubt whether I could ever have worked out what the Stargate was for without his help) for a few weeks, Teal'c was off with Ishta, and Jack? He was back at the SGC, and I was pottering around my house, staring at my cacti collection (I figured out that it was better to get cacti rather than normal flowering shrubs and plants, this was after I went through my 15th or 16th potted plant, the gardening centre was starting to think I was a serial plant killer by this stage) wondering when my life had turned into this…needing cacti as plants because I was never home enough to feed normal plants. Anyway, Daniel had called, just wanting to chat, and had casually asked if I was going to Jack's retirement party…

"Wait…what?" I had interrupted.

"He's retiring…didn't you know?"

"No." Okay, so I had been pretty pissed off, I mean, the man was my CO for crying out loud you think he would tell me when he was retiring.

"Sam…" He knew it too.

"What?"

"Don't do anything rash okay, I'm sure he's got his own reason for not telling you yet."

"I'd love to know what that is…in fact…" To this day, I can hear Daniel calling my name frantically down the handset as I had lowered it, before being cut off as I set it down on the base.

It hadn't taken long to get to Jack's house, he wasn't home (naturally!), so I did the only thing I could think off. I broke into his house. Well, it wasn't breaking in technically…I just knew where he kept his spare key (empty beer bottle under the second shrub to the right of his door). And waited. Made coffee. Made dinner as well, with blue jelly for dessert.

The jelly was almost set by the time his truck pulled up. I couldn't keep still to be honest, fidgeting with everything, hair, shirt…coasters, you name it I was playing with it.

"Sir." I had said when he opened the door, not shocked at all to find his 2IC sitting on his dining room table. Daniel…honestly, he really must learn to keep his mouth shut.

"Hey Carter…look about…"

"Why?" I had demanded

"It…I didn't…aww Christ, I chickened out so many times Carter…truth is…I didn't want to put you under any pressure…"

"Wait…what?" I'd been saying that a lot that day…

"Me retiring…it umm, well you see…now that coughs, well, the thing is…"

"Jack." I had by now figured out what this was all about…you know, those secret hidden feelings…that everyone knew about apparently.

"Sam…I just…I wanted to tell you, privately…"

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Jack…when you are ready…gimme a call." I had said, hopping off the counter and walking towards the door (of course most of you are now probably shouting 'what the hell are you doing girl…KISS HIM!...or better yet, the bedroom is two doors down on the right hint hint'…to be honest, it was hard not too), and it wasn't until I was nearly at the door, when I realised that I did want to do that, kiss him I mean, I had turned, eyed him up at down (and it was at this point that Jack had gulped, I think he thought I was going to deck him) walked towards him and kissed him gently…it wasn't an earth shattering kiss, not by a long shot, it wasn't messy, there was no tongue. It was just a gentle brush of my lips against his. But it was still the best kiss of my life. Because it was with Jack. (yeah, corny huh? But that's what it was like...honestly!) We didn't touch each other all, I think we were both afraid that if we took it any further the SF's would come bursting in on us. I simply turned on my heel and called over my shoulder, "Dinner is in the oven, hope you like lasagna, there's jelly in the fridge, and the coffee on the bench is cold, but the machine is still warm so it should be good."

I would have loved to turn back and see his response, but I knew if I did then we would end up doing something that would have the SF's knocking on the door.

At work we were casual, joking, a little flirty, normal for us at times. But there were moments when he would look at me, and…everything else would just fade out. Like he was the only person in the room (horrible when it happened during briefings). But it made me feel wanted, loved even…even if we hadn't done anything.

Of course, the rumour mill was in over drive, the things I caught people saying. It was enough to make…well…let's just say we could have written a few adult rated smut books about them. Though, Jack and I weren't doing anything that we didn't do before his retirement was announced...it was odd. Anyway, the night of his retirement party…it was…wow.

And nothing special happened…well, not exactly.

I was by the refreshment table, Jack was…here I had looked around frantically, talking with a bunch of delegates from…well, I couldn't remember where they were from, but I knew they didn't get whatever joke he was telling. (probably something about a duck putting something on his bill), when he looked up at me and smiled…shy, reserved but I nearly had to grab hold of the table to stop from swooning then and there. Yes, I admit it. Samantha Jane Carter nearly swooned because a man smiled at her. Pathetic I know. But when he smiled, his eyes…those beautiful eyes, just focused in on me…only me. He bade goodbye to the delegates, who did this weird little bow with a hand flapping motion…oh yeah, they were from P7X-389, remember that one vividly. But that's another story entirely. So anyway, he was striding across the floor towards me, and every single person turned to stare at me, then at him…then back at me, and as one they smiled. Oh Christ, how I wished the floor would just swallow me up right then and there.

"So anyway, the duck says to the man (it was the duck joke!), put it on my bill!" he had whispered when he stopped in front of me. His head tilted to one side, a crooked grin on his face as he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket, making a big show of dialing the number. Who was…oh, my own cellphone started to ring now. I got it then, grinning at him, I had pulled it out and flipped it open, answering it with my normal 'Carter'…

"I thought you wanted me to call you Sam?" he had asked into his own, though he stood only a foot away from me.

"Well sir, the thing is…"

"yes…?"

"Technically, you've rung me during work hours…"

"Samantha." Oh crap, did he HAVE to say that. And god, it sounded just like it had in my hallucination. Drawn out and sexy, he pronounced it so clearly, drawing out every syllable and it truly was, (and I never admitted this to him) orgasm inducing…(well, not quite, but it could get me pretty worked up in a short amount of time…actually, I think he worked it out after our first time together…)

"Jack." Oh yeah, now that was original…

"You said to call when I was ready."

"Are you?" Still talking into the phone…by now we were getting some very odd looks.

"I've been retired for 3 hours…15 minutes…4 seconds."

"So…"

"You want to go out tomorrow night?"

"Casual or dressy?"

"Your pick Sam."

"Dressy."

"7…I'll pick you up."

"I'll be waiting with bells on." I had paused for the briefest of moments. "Love you…" I had whispered into the phone, my eyes meeting his as he seemed to falter.

"Love you too." He had whispered back before dropping the phone and drawing me into his arms. Holding me in a way that he hadn't since…well, for a long time. Of course it felt very odd since all our friends were watching, and the President…oh god…the President was here…

"Jack…the President is here."

"Hugging isn't against the law."

"I know…but umm…"

"You want to stop?"

"Not really…but it…"

"To be continued then." He had replied, stepping back…but keeping me still in his arms. "Tomorrow." He had promised me, his arms giving me a gentle squeeze before he had disappeared into the crowd again…no doubt off to find someone who would get his duck joke.

I don't remember much of the rest of the night, I felt as if I were walking around on clouds the whole evening, Daniel and Teal'c couldn't stop grinning, in fact, most people that worked at the SGC had silly grins on their faces the whole evening.

I think I spent most of the next day getting ready, waxing, exfoliating, toning…you name it, I did it (Cassie helped with the hair…that girl is a Nazi with a curling iron and mascara brush) By the time 7 rolled around, I had never felt cleaner, or prettier in my life. The dress I had chosen wasn't overly…showy, but it complimented me, as Cass put it. It was short, but still left a bit to the imagination, the front had a cleavage, but I didn't have to be scared about anything…popping out, and the back…well, whilst I would have loved to have worn a backless dress, after so many years in the military I had a few scars so had found a dress that had a back, but didn't at the same time, it was a sort of filmy material. Cass had worked a miracle with my hair, curling and shaping it in a way I never could have, and though short, it fell in wisps around my face. And the final piece of the ensemble, a bracelet with bells on it.

The moment of truth was…spellbinding, the doorbell had rung (causing Cassie to squeak excitedly) and the minute I opened the door, it was like…everything got very slow and clear, it's odd, but for a couple of minutes all I could see was Jack. And god, did he look good! Black slacks, navy blue shirt and a black tie. This man was a knockout in Dress Blues…he was downright sinful in civvies! Of course, the conversation started off like a normal first date…

"Hi…you…wow Sam…you have bells?" He had mumbled, his jaw dropping slightly as his gaze had dropped to my feet, then slowly traveled up my body (with such a lustful gaze that I'm still shocked that we didn't forgo the whole eating thing and start on dessert right then and there…), leaving a wake of goosebumps behind until they had settled on my eyes, that slow, sinfully sexy smile crept over his face as he stepped closer, a hand coming up to trace the line of my collarbone.

"Hey, I think you earn a wow yourself tonight Jack, and yeah…I did say I would be waiting with bells on." I had replied, my voice had turned low, husky as I whispered these words to him, a magical spell weaving around us as his other hand come to rest on my waist, his eyes asking for permission as he slowly lowered his lips to mine…his gaze never once leaving mine…

Of course, neither of us had noticed Cassie sneaking up behind me, not until she coughed and broke the spell, his lips a hairs breadth away from mine…I think she's been spending too much time around Daniel, his bad timing is starting to wear off on her.

"Damn…" he had muttered under his breath as I giggled into his shoulder, my face flushed red with embarrassment as Cassie began her 'motherly' speech.

"Now, you kids behave. Don't break any laws, don't drink too much, and curfew is 11 o'clock."

"Cass…" I had warned, obviously to know avail as she just giggled at us, gave me a little shove out the door and began to shut it firmly behind us before she paused…

"By the way, I'm going to have music on in my room…so I won't be able to hear you come home."

And she closed the door before Jack or I could get a word…not that we could actually say anything as we were so shocked…

"Well coughs, you umm wanna go?" Jack had asked, breaking the silence as he held his arm out in a very gentlemanly fashion, I had simply nodded in response, hoping he wouldn't notice the red blush that had spread down my neck…and beyond…

The restaurant Jack had picked was really…posh would be the only word to describe it, and we had spent a few uncomfortable minutes looking at a menu that we barely understood before Jack had leant over and whispered…

"Sam…this isn't really us is it?" I couldn't exactly argue with that as I put my menu down and stood.

"Pizza?" I had asked, it had been the staple diet of SG-1's team nights, and over the years I had learnt that Jack knew just about every pizza place in Colorado Springs…therefore knew the best places to go depending on what sort of pizza you wanted!

"Sure." He had answered, before grasping my hand loosely with his own, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.

It wasn't long before the pizza was on the backseat, the bottle of cider in a chiller and some plastic flutes that we had bought at a gas station on the floor, and we were driving to a 'mystery spot' as Jack called it.

"Jack, you really aren't going to tell me where we are going are you?"

"Nope."

"You know…I get the sneaking suspicion that you might have planned this."

"Well…it was a back-up plan. You always have a plan A, B, C for every mission."

"Jack's 3 easy steps to dating like you're in the military?"

"Something like that…okay, can you close your eyes."

"Jack…"

"Do you trust me?"

"With my life."

He had paused at my words, a soft smile playing at his lips as he glanced at me for a moment. "Close your eyes." He repeated quietly, before he turned back to the road with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face that I would remember until my dying day.

I closed them, felt the car brake and Jack jump out. All the while I had my eyes firmly closed, trusting him.

"Okay Sam, it's all ready." I heard him say, from outside the car as he opened my door, helping me door. "You might want to take your shoes off…" he added quietly, helping me stay steady as I slipped them off, feeling the soft dewy grass under my feet as I felt his wrap an arm around my waist, leading me…onward.

After about…20 metres or so, he had stopped me, moving around to stand behind me, his hands resting on my hips as he whispered in my ear. "Okay, you can open them now…"

And I did…and it took my breath away, a tent was in the clearing, white with lanterns hanging down casting a soft glow around, jumping off the trees that lay just beyond, and in the middle of the tent was a small table for two, our pizza on top, with the cider chilling in a bucket. Fairy lights were strung through the trees, and Cassie was just lighting the candle that sat in the centre of the table.

"Cass…" I had started, not exactly sure of what I was going to say.

Cassie had simply smiled and walked up to me, pulling me into a hug and whispered into my ear, "Be happy Aunt Sam, you deserve it." Smiling tearfully I hugged her back for all she was worth before she drew away, whistling the whole way as I turned to face Jack, who was grinning rather sheepishly.

"Jack…" I had begun, stepping closer to him. "This is amazing."

"Well, I uhh…"

"Jack…"

"mmm?"

"Shut up." And with those words I pulled him down to me, searing my lips against his, as I poured everything into that kiss. Our first true kiss, I wasn't holding anything back, and neither was he, even though it wasn't our first 'kiss'…it was our first one that we could put all our emotions and feelings…desires into it…it left me breathless. And god what a kiss! It was…it was like I was sharing a part of myself with him, letting him see deep into my soul as his shocked body started to respond to mine, his hands coming to rest on my hips and tugging me closer as my arms wound around his neck. My tongue had just started to probe his lips when he pulled away, looking dazed, aroused and confused.

"Wow." He mumbled, gulping slightly as my chest had heaved, gasping for air. "What was that for?"

My head had tilted, my eyes narrowing slightly before I slowly smiled, pressing my lips to his between each word I told him why I kissed him like that. "Because, I'm in love with you Jack O'Neill." I paused for a second, before saying the next against his lips. "Always." I kissed him again, slowly…teasingly as his hands wound around my waist, before he pulled back, one arm coming to stroke my cheek.

His eyes were so serious, so dark as they focused in on mine in the twinkling, soft light. "I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I'm going to cherish it, and you, for as long as there is breath in this body."

"You were simply you Jack, everything I wished for as a little girl, dreaming of a love that would last for a lifetime, through everything…the good times and the bad." My voice was choked, full of emotion and tears, and pain as I felt his hand gently cup my cheek, brushing away the single that had fallen.

"Samantha, I…" he had tripped and fallen over the words, I know that deep down, he still thought of himself as the beaten old soldier, carrying the weight of the world and his past on his shoulders. To me, he had always been my hero, a man who appeared at a time in my life where I trusted no-one, and stuck by me, through everything. And slowly, bit by bit, I fell for him. For the man he was, the man who joked to hide his insecurities, the man who could hug like no other, the man who would give his life to save those around him…I loved him for all his faults, every one of them. Because they were as much a part of him as the little scar on his eyebrow.

"It's okay." I whispered, smiling softly, reassuring him as I stepped out his embrace. "I'm starved." My hand came down to grip his, squeezing it as I led him towards the tent.

Dinner was fantastic, it wasn't fancy or anything, but it was us…just Sam and Jack. And it was the best first date I've ever been on. Maybe it was because it was with Jack, and we already knew each other so well, but it just felt right to sit across from him at a card table, in a white tent in a clearing at a park, eating pizza and laughing.

"I've got something else to show you…follow me." He told me after the last of the pizza was gone, that boyish smile on his face as he waggled his eyebrows, he lead me through the tunnel of trees to another small clearing where a rug lay on the ground. Helping me sit down (wasn't easy in that dress) he had sunk down next to me, before laying back, gesturing for me to do the same thing, using his arm as a pillow I had stared up at the ceiling of stars.

"See that star there…that's Abydos." He had told me, pointing into the star filled nights sky. "That's the star that…that bought me you. Every night, at least every night on Earth, I would look up into the sky and thank that star. It changed my life…it gave me my life back Sam. It gave me you."

To say I was shocked at his was an understatement, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Jack O'Neill could be that open about his emotions, but I'd only known 'Jack' for a few months by that stage, up until then I had only known him as The Colonel…The General…sir, and not Jack. Oh sure, I had seen glimpses of Jack underneath those personas, but never would I have thought that he would have so many levels. Jack O'Neill is an onion. A big one, with lots of layers. I knew what he meant, only too well. The…Stargate program was (at the start) both the worst thing that happened to me, and the best. The worst, was because of Jones, when had found out that I was in the line to be transferred, possibly promoted he had…flown off the handle, landed me in hospital, a black eye, bruised ribs, a…well, I won't go into much, but he did something that was pretty low, he got his wish, I didn't get transferred…at least not then, and I didn't get promoted. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone on that first mission, would I have still been with Jones, would I…would I have still felt the same way about Jack, would something have happened between us, before the second mission…so many variables, so many things to consider. Fork in the road stuff huh? Hopefully, somewhere in some reality, there's a Sam Carter that's been an O'Neill for about 8 years now, who knows. Anyway, Jonas…it was hard, after what he did…knowing he got away with it. He was a loose cannon, but…he had friends, lots of them…apart from my word they couldn't pin a thing on him. Guess that's how he ended up at the SGC. General Hammond knew what he'd done, but someone wanted Jonas at the SGC.

"Sam?" His voice had broken through my train of though so suddenly I had jumped in his arms, his tone of voice was soft, but laced with worry as he blinked at me, silently asking the 'are you all right?' question.

"Just thinking…" I had answered evasively, rolling onto my side, my head resting on his chest. "About…about before I got into the program." The last I had said so quietly, I wasn't sure he had heard me, for all I could hear was the soft rustling of the trees, and could only feel the gentle rise and fall of his chest beneath me.

"Tell me."

And I did, everything. I told about my mum, and my dad, and all the crap that that had bought into my life, the resentment I felt towards my father when Mark had left, to him always…always trying to 'help' with my life and my career, to what Jonas had done to me. I told him my feelings, the ones I never talked about, how it hurt…how I never trusted men, especially military men who sometimes thought of women in the force as a joke…how I began to trust him when I first saw him with Ska'ra, the first sparring match aside. He was different to other military men, he may have worn the uniform…but it didn't make him think like them. Act like them. By the end, Jack was holding me so tightly in his arms, as if he never wanted to let me go. I had felt him shudder with silent tears when I told him about Jonas, felt his arms squeeze me softly, reassuring me as images flashed through my head, causing me to trip and falter over my words. I hadn't even told my therapist about these…I hadn't trusted her…Christ even Pete had no idea that I had even been engaged before, maybe knowing deep down that he just wouldn't have 'got it', I dunno the whole Pete thing I don't get even now, looking back.

After I had finished it was awhile before any of said anything, we just held onto each other, listened to the crickets chirps, the leaves rustle…an owl hoot in the distance but neither of us had wiped away our tears, letting them run their course, until we had no more to cry. And then he began to talk, soft and low, in a voice I hadn't heard before, it was wistful…sad, full pain but not regret. He told me about Charlie, what had happened that day, and the months afterwards, how many times he had looked at that same gun…thought that it would be so easy to make the pain go away, just…put it to his head and pull the trigger, he'd done it so many times by that…kill without thought, could he do the same thing to himself. The Stargate program had saved him, it had given him hope for the future…and then the whole Daniel not being dead debacle, Apophis coming through the gate. It had given him hope, his life back…friends and a family, a reason to keep living. And it had given him me. He explained, that he knew it was wrong to feel how he did about me, he knew it could hurt me and my career. But just having me as a friend had been enough to keep him warm at night, hoping and praying for that day where we might get a shot at finding each other, at having a chance to be together, a simple dream…something as simple as that, had been very humbling to me.

He fell silent again, his hands coming up to run through my hair, the soft strands falling through his fingers as I practically purred in his arms, it felt wonderful, being in his arms like that, free to talk about us, without fear, without boundaries and without regulations, and it was a rather romantic setting, alone in a forest clearing, the stars and the thin moon the only light, I had sighed and sunk further into chest, seeking his warmth.

"You cold?" He had whispered against my hair, his fingers stilling for a moment.

"I didn't want to say anything, but I am a little. And before you go blaming yourself, I just really liked this."

"Really?"

"mm hmm, definitely."

"Well, it is past midnight, your curfew was hours ago." There had been laughter in his voice and, remembering Cassie's words, I had giggled into his chest.

"Hey…what did I say about giggling!"

I had simply rolled my eyes, pulling away from him and instantly feeling the loss of his warmth, I had folded the blanket up before we walked hand in hand back to the clearing, where we had both taken care of the lights, and secured the tent.

It was a quiet ride back to my place, every few minutes we would glance at each and smile. It was the best first date of my life, and it was ending far too soon for me, but all too soon he had pulled up in front of my house.

"Sam…"

"Would you like to come in for coffee?" I had asked shyly.

"Coffee." His was burning red…oh…my…god…coffee! He thought…god, he…um…

"The drink, you know…in a cup." Had I wanted to beat myself about the head right now...maybe crawl under my doormat for a decade, strand myself on a planet without a Stargate for eternity…heck all of the above! You bet I did.

He had reached over, softly touching my hand in reassurance. "I would love too."

"Just make yourself at home." I'd told him as I stepped into the small kitchen, flicking the always full coffee machine on (you never want to be in a house with two coffee addicts and only enough for one cup, it can get very ugly very fast). I was breathing deeply at this stage, trying to calm myself down. It was just coffee after all. Just coffee.

By the time the coffee was humming, I had managed to calm myself down enough to face him, piling some chocolate biscuits onto a plate (was shocked that they had survived a night alone in a house with a teenager) and then onto a tray with the coffee, I had stepped into the small living room, the breath catching in my throat as I saw him. His jacket was already off, his shoes long gone as well, he was standing in front the fire (lit by him, as it had really started to cool down, maybe even the first frost of the season) and his figure was surrounded in a flickering golden and orange light, it was a scene that was so familiar to me, I'd seen this in my mind for years, dreaming of it, but in my mind it would go further, he would turn around and smile that soft, gentle smile…the one that told me how he felt about me, and that everything would be okay.

"Hey." I had whispered, and he did it…he turned around, and smiled that smile, and my heart had stopped in my chest. He had a picture in his hands, my favorite one actually.

"I never saw this photo before…" he said softly, his fingers moving over the glass in the frame.

"It's my favorite…I had, for years, kept it in my room. I didn't think it would be a good idea to keep a photo of us, like that, in the open with you still being my CO." It was of us, in the park that day with Cassie, Daniel and Teal'c were in the background with Cass on Teal'c's shoulders, and Daniel was demonstrating how to use the playground equipment, Jack and I were in the foreground, his hand was on my elbow, and we were both looking into each other's eyes and smiling, laughing, sharing a joke. There was nothing overly…sexual about the photo, but the underlying current was there. Like it had always been. Never forgotten, just…hidden in a corner, or a room…coming out only in special moments, moments that got us through the tough times.

"Favorite huh?" He asked quietly, smiling at the photo for a minute before placing it back above the fireplace, in the centre of the mantle, softly brushing away an invisible speck of dust on the photo.

"It's my family, SG-1 and Cass, the only family I've ever had, the people that I love the most are in that photo, it had pride of place on my night stand, saw it every night before I went to sleep, saw it every morning when I woke up." I had shrugged, placing the tray on the small table in the middle of the room before sinking into my plush couch. "Reminded me why I did it, why I had to keep doing it…" I had added softly, knowing he would understand.

He hadn't said anything, perhaps knowing words weren't enough, but had made his way around the table and sunk down next to me, his arm immediately wrapping around me shoulder, and I had leant in to him, savouring his warmth and support, silent…but saying so much at the same time. It had been worth it, what we went through, the blood and the sweat and the tears, pain, heartache, lonely nights (both here and off world), so close, and yet so far, it had been worth.

"It was worth it." I had whispered to him suddenly. "Everything, it was worth it, the adventure of a lifetime…several lifetimes actually, now we get our reward. We made it through, we survived…now we get the spoils of war." My voice was low, husky, full of emotion…remember the people that hadn't made it, the people that had lost along the way. From the men who had died when the Abydos gate came under fire on that second mission, to Kawalsky, to Janet, and to every other man and woman who had died, never to see the galaxy rid of the Goa'uld, oppressors of the masses. Never got to get their spoils of war, but had died hoping that their friends, family…children, grand-children, would live to enjoy a life without fear.

"A chance." He had responded quietly, obviously caught in his own thoughts, leaning back against the couch and taking me with him as well, we had held onto each other, in the flickering light from the fire that was spreading warmth throughout the warm…but could not be held responsible for the warmth that was spreading through my heart and my soul. No, that was all Jack, being in his arms, was warming me…from the inside out, and it was the best feeling I'd ever had.

"Coffee is getting cold."

"Coffee I can live without at the moment, I just want to hold you Sam."

And I let him, and I held him right back. My arm had worked behind him at one stage and was wrapped around his waist, the other was holding his hand with my own, stroking the long lean fingers that seemed so out of place with the warrior. They were well groomed the nails, short and clean, but with calluses on the pads, the odd scar marring the tanned skin, but they weren't the hands of a man who had spent half a life killing, they could have easily been the hands of a gardener, or a mechanic, maybe even a musician the calluses formed from a lifetime of working over the strings of a guitar. The skin on the back was so soft under mine, and up towards his wrist the start of a few hairs. This may seem strange, but I was in love with his hands. They fascinated me. Hands that could hold you so safely, protect you, guide you, could also pull the pin on a grenade, make a signal that would spell the end of a mans life, push the button that could destroy a planet. They were like the man himself, full of layers, each one more baffling than the next, seemingly out of odds with the previous layer, but each was just as special, just as unique as the man.

I guess at some stage we fell asleep, because the next thing I knew it was morning, and I was laying sprawled across his chest, covered by the blanket that had covered the back of the couch. I was warm, and snug and secure…and being watched. A grinning Cassie was standing off to the side, a mug of steaming coffee in her hands, she had inclined her head, smiled again, and left without a word. Humming softly the whole way to her room.

"She gone?" Jack asked suddenly, I hadn't even known he was awake, his eyes were open now sparkling up at me.

"Yep." I responded, shifting myself slightly so that I could see him properly, feeling the hands that had been resting on my back slide over the material, downwards…stopping just before the swell of my butt and back up again, the feel of his hands like that…through the material was incredible. Tingly, I was humming myself, my whole body on edge. One hand had stopped over my shoulder, and was drawing soft circles over the skin, the other was on the back of my head, threading through my hair.

"Excellent…now I can do this." He whispered mischievously, pulling my head down to meet his, his lips so gentle against mine, soft and warm, just like I remembered. He tasted like…like him. It wasn't something you could define or break into specific tastes…it was just him, musky, strong and powerful. And when his tongue had probed gently against my lips, I was lost in his touch, his feels, his smell…I was lost in him, my brain just popped and fizzled…overload I guess. My hands were gripping his shirt, twisting it as I sucked him into my mouth, needing more…always needing more. He was addictive, everything about him and I didn't want to quit, or give him up, I knew I couldn't…he was a part of me, always had been, someone who…was just…I dunno, it wasn't completion, it was more like I was finding home, a place where I was loved, and needed and wanted, safe, secure…he was all that to me, and so much more. He was my rock…he would catch me if I fell, he would help guide me, teach me, and learn from me…because I would catch him, and guide him.

Somewhere, deep in my brain I knew we couldn't take it further not here, and not so soon into this fledgling relationship so, with a groan and a heavy heart, I had pulled away him my eyes meeting his, as he nodded in understanding.

"Good morning to you too." I whispered, leaning for forehead against his as he smiled up at me.

"It certainly is." He answered, the hand that had been holding my mouth to his coming round to stroke my cheek briefly.

"You want breakfast?"

"Umm…well, yes but I umm…need a minute." A deep flush creeping over his cheekbones as he averted his eyes from mine, only a brief second, but it was there and when the flicked back to mine embarrassment filled there depths, along with an apology.

"You do…oh…ohhh…" Understanding dawned on my suddenly, the kiss…his shyness all of a sudden, he was umm…well, 'happy' to see me. I reached out, softly stroking his face. "It's okay…don't ever be embarrassed by that Jack. Pancakes?"

"What?"

"You want Pancakes for breakfast?"

"Umm sure." He was obviously confused, I could tell here I was on top of him, both of us fully clothed and only having shared a kiss (okay, explosive and mind blowing kiss) and he was hard, and I wasn't fazed by it all.

"Are you okay staying in these clothes?" I had asked, gently sliding off him, mesmerized as his eyes closed and the muscles along his jaw tensed, but they snapped open at my words.

"What?"

"You've been in those clothes all night, you can shower…shave, though I kinda like this." I had said, brushing my fingers over the stubble.

"It's…okay if I do?" God he was cute when he was shy, he was fiddling with the blanket the was still covering him, pulling at a thread idly.

"Sure, I've got some stuff…from when Dad would stay with me, haven't been able to throw it out yet." My voice had dropped to a whisper at the last. "It's all boxed up in the spare room, I'll see if I can find you something." I reached down to softly ruffle his hair, before stroking his cheek and smiling. "Wont be long." I added as I turned away from him, grinning stupidly the whole way.

"Hey, I found a pair of sweats and a shirt that should fit okay." I had called as I stepped into the room, having already changed myself into a pair of jogging pants and a loose jumper. "Also found a razor and some cream, you'll have to make do with my shampoo though. Everything is on the bench in the bathroom…umm, in my room. The uhh, guest room one doesn't have a lock and Cassie is in there anyway." Jack had blinked at me wide eyed from his position on the couch, now sitting up with the blanket back over the couch. "Jack?" He looked like…like well a sad and lost puppy, it was probably the saddest and most depressing expression I'd ever seen on his face. I had sat down on the coffee table in front of him, carefully shoving aside the now cold coffee from last night and reached over, cupping his face with my hand. "What is it?"

"I can't get up." His voice was deathly quiet, as understanding dawned on me.

"Back?" He nodded dismally in response, averting his eyes.

"C'mon, I'll help you up…if you're a good boy you might even get a massage."

He had perked up a tiny bit at the thought, I had looped my hands under his arms and helped him stand, wincing as one every time a vertebrae popped, it was slow going getting him to his feet, but after a couple of minutes he had both arms wrapped around my waist, waiting for the initial pain to reside. "Okay?" I asked him softly, he nodded slightly, still looking like a 5 year old who had just lost his puppy.

"C'mon, lets get you into the bedroom."

"Waited 8 years to hear those words…never thought it would be like this." He had mumbled when I helped him sit down on the edge of my bed, his voice was full of self recrimination and disgust at himself. "What do you see in me…" he added softly, wringing his hands in his lap as I pottered around the room, looking for the cream that I used to cure all ailments.

"A funny, smart, hot looking man, one who I happen to be very much in love with." That should shut him up, which it did as he gaped at me.

"You think I'm hot?" He had finally asked, when I was standing in front of him, tube in hand and a bemused expression on my face.

"You're my guy Jack, I love you…even with all your faults, I still love you." I had paused here and knelt in front of him so that we were at eye level, dropping the tube on the bed beside him I had cupped his face gently, but at the same time forcing him to look me in the eye. "Now Jack, I'm only going to tell you this once, so you had better listen. I Samantha Jane Carter love you, Jonathon Charles O'Neill, I have for a long time and I, for one, will not stand for this 'I'm not good enough for you' speech. What happened to the spoils of war thing huh? Jack, you are my reward remember, this is what we fought so hard for." Okay so maybe I was a bit forceful, but it got the message through to him as the sad look slowly disappeared, only to be replaced by a look of hunger, my fingers, still up until that point, were sweeping over his face, memorizing every line. My lips had been slowly gravitating towards his, and before either of us could stop it, they were brushing softly over his, deepening for just a moment before I had wrenched my lips of his with a groan. "I have to stop doing that."

"Why?" He was grinning now, a cocky grin, smartarse knew what he could do to me, how he could make feel.

"Because, it makes me…it makes me want to take it further. I've made that mistake before, leaping into a physical relationship, without thinking about it, without knowing them. I don't want to screw this one up, this is it for me Jack. I just want to wait a bit." God, I have been so nervous telling him about that, a lot of guys wouldn't have understood my reasoning

"I understand Sam, when you are ready, you make the call okay." I had opened my mouth to protest. "I don't want to pressure you into anything, we've waited 8 years, we can wait until we are ready. Both of us." If it were at all possible, I think I fell in love with him all over again at his words.

I had kissed him quickly, thanking him for understanding, and for waiting so long already, he had just smiled, tucked a lock of hair behind my ear and replied that the best things in life were worth waiting for. Cliché I know, but that's what he said.

I had given him that massage too, he had taken his shirt off (and god was I regretting my earlier words!) and had lain, face down on the bed for me. At first I was kneeling by his side, I was trembling so hard, hands shaking as I first touched his skin, starting off softly, warming the muscles gently before starting to work on his spine. I had needed more leverage than this, so had eventually ended up straddling his upper legs as I kneaded the muscles, working the pain away with my hands. It had taken nearly 30 minutes before I felt the soft pop and click of the vertebrae popping back into place, and Jack's low moan of pleasure that sent bolts down my own body. "Better?" I had asked, my hands soothing his muscles now, lightly fluttering over the defined ridges of his shoulder blades.

"Much better…god where did you learn to do that?"

"Dad had back problems when I was a kid…after Mum died, I had helped him out on occasion."

"Ahh…"

"You'll be right to shower and shave now?" I asked him gently, lifting off him and repressing the urge to replace my hands with my mouth, knowing that that would get me in a world of trouble.

"Yeah, um…my uhh, problem is back."

I hadn't said anything for a few moments, a little shocked that he was…you know, aroused by me massaging him.

"Sam?"

"Uhh sorry, yeah, the bathroom is the blue door, and if you need anything just call." He had rolled over at that stage, and it had been hard to avoid looking at anything lower than his upper torso, but I had done it, avoided looking at it I mean, as I leant over to kiss him again. "I'll be in the kitchen."

Okay, pancakes…I could do pancakes…hadn't made them since we first bought Cassie home, I was ferreting around in the cupboard looking for the ingredients when Cassie had stepped into the room. "Aunt Sam?" she called, giggling as I bashed my head against the ledge in my rather empty pantry. "What are you doing?" she asked as I came out, a bag of flour in one hand and a jar of maple syrup in the other.

"Making Pancakes." I had replied, setting them both on the counter. "Do you know how to make them?" I had asked, desperately.

"There's a packet mix on the second shelf." She had replied, confused as she grabbed a juice from the fridge, I had grinned at her then have dived back into my pantry "Uncle Jack still here then?"

"In the shower." I responded, pulling the box triumphantly off the shelf.

"So you guys…you know?"

"No!" I put the box on the counter. "No…we just…we want to know each other outside of work, before we…go further in our relationship."

"Really?...wow"

"Wow what?"

"It's just, I've never known two people to be so in tune with each other, I mean, you know how he likes his coffee, he always gets a second thing of blue jell-o for you, you order each other's pizza. You can have entire conversations just by looking at each other. I just figured you guys would…be all over each other."

"Cass…" My voice was full of warning as I leant against the bench, before I softened it. "Knowing how you take your coffee isn't something you can base a relationship on, especially when it comes to sex. You need something deeper than that."

"You love him don't you?"

"Well yeah…"

"You are IN love with him aren't you?"

"Yeah…"

"Would you die for him…"

"Yes but…"

"And he would for you."

"Possibly, but Cass…"

"You two…don't you think 8 years is enough?" When she put it like that, it was pretty hard to argue with her. I was still suffering from the same problem that I had always suffered from. I over think things, I analyse and explore all the possible variables…it's what scientists do, and unfortunately we sometimes tend to do this outside of the lab as well, just as I was doing in this case.

"Well…I…just…do you know how to make pancakes?"

"Yes why?"

"Well…"

"Go Aunt Sam."

I had no idea that the little girl from Hanka had grown up so much, I had hugged her briefly. "You sure this is okay?" I asked her, a little embarrassed that she was well…encouraging us to have sex when she was in the house.

"Aunt Sam, you two deserve happiness…go…umm, I'll take care of breakfast."

He was still in the shower when I slipped into the steamy bathroom, my clothes dropping in a trail behind me as I made my way over to the shower, smiling as I saw the fuzzy outline of my man in my shower, humming as he washed his hair. As I slid the door open he had whirled around, fists at the ready before they had dropped in shock. Afterall, not 10 minutes ago I had been asking to wait and now I was stepping into the shower with him, my hands caressing the muscles of his chest as he continued to gaze at me.

"Sam?" he finally asked, or…groaned out, my tongue having found his collarbone and I was nipping and sucking and licking at every inch of skin.

"Yeah…" I mumbled against his skin.

"You sure…I mean…you really sure?"

"Positive."


Author's Note:

Insert Possible sex scene here, if people want it I'll write it. Actually, it is mostly written I just wanted to make this story more...age appropriate? So, if you want to read it, drop me a line and I'll email it...if I get around to finishing it. All you need to know is that at some stage they migrated from the shower to the bed.


"God…"

"Yes?"

"So, does that mean we can pet names in bed…you could be…Ra?"

"Sam!"

"Apophis?"

"Oh, you are so going to get it."

"Jack…no oh…no!"

"Say uncle!"

"No…I refuse…uncle!" I had paused, breathing hard as Jack looked up at me innocently, and yet with the most smug expression I had ever seen. "Bastard." I had added, he had merely grinned and chuckled at me, as he bent his head again to kiss my breast one final time, before rolling to the side and tucking himself against my body.

"But you love that didn't you?" He had whispered as his fingers worked over my belly.

"Yes…bastard." He had chuckled again. "We should really get up…poor Cassie…"

"I need to shower again…and I still need to shave."

"I'll join you."

"You sure that's a good idea?" He had asked as he pulled out of my arms, stretching like a giant cat, his muscles moving under his skin had had me licking my lips. "Sam…?"

"Oh right…I'm sure we can manage just fine, we are adults after all."

"Speak for yourself." He had said cheekily over his shoulder as he walked into the bathroom.

Showering with Jack was…interesting, he had insisted on washing me, and he was so gentle, soft as he ran the loofah over my body, washing away the sweat and the scent of him on my body. And after I was clean, I had washed him, my fingers gliding over his body as I worked the soap into his skin, before scrubbing it away with the loofah. We had carefully dried each other as well, and it wasn't until I was sitting on the bench watching as him that I asked to do something that I wanted to do for awhile…

"Can I shave you?"

"What?"

"I umm…want to do that…" I had expanded, pointing at the razor on the edge of the sink.

"Really?" he asked as he spread the last of the cream over his top lip, I had nodded in response, a bit shyly I must admit as he handed the razor over. "You know what to do?"

"Yep…Dad broke his arms when I was 15, Mark was long gone by that stage so I had to do it for him." I had told him, dipping the razor in the water and reached up to run it over his stubble, he had opened his mouth to respond. "Do you want me to cut you?" I asked jokingly, pulling the razor away from his skin as he shook his head. "Be quiet." I added as I went back to work.

As I wiped the last of the cream away from his face he had grinned up at me, before reaching to feel his face, . "Pretty good." He told me, dipping me so that he could kiss me softlyly.

"Only Pretty good?" I questioned when he let my lips go.

"Really good." He added softly…sexily, as he slid his hands over my shoulders, caressing the skin under his fingers.

"Mmm…Jack…breakfast…Cassie/" I told him, shying away from his hands as I slipped off the bench, holding the towel that was wrapped around my body.

"More like lunch actually. "He told me with a smile on his face.

"Lunch?" I questioned, my eyes wide with shock as I stared at him. "How long were we…"

"Almost 2 hours."

"Wow…"

"Not bad for an old man huh?"

"Well, like you said, you aren't exactly an adult are you?"

"True…hey!"

I giggled as I ducked under his arm, walking towards the door I had let the towel slide down my body to pool on the floor. A loud groan and thump was all I heard, followed by 'Sam, you're killing me here!'.

I just smiled and grinned deviously as I stepped into my room, before turning slightly so that I could see him. "Get dressed Jack."

Jack was still dressing when I had walked into the kitchen, fully expecting to see Cassie there, grinning smugly over a cup of coffee, but all I found was a note propped against the empty fruit bowl. Picking it up, I read Cassie's tiny scrawl.

'Aunt Sam Uncle Jack,

Thought you guys might want some time alone, most new couples don't want kids hanging around so I've gone to see a movie with friends, I'll be back mid afternoon, you know my cell number if you need anything. Pancake batter is in the fridge, I'm sure you can handle cooking it.

Love,

Cassie. (PS. Save some pancakes for me!)'

I folded the note in half azs I felt two arms wrap around my waist, and a body press against me, a kiss pressed to my exposed neck. I had leant back against him as it struck me how well we seemed to fit together, it was (and this is such a cliché!) almost as if we were carved from the same matter, not split in half…more like split in two so that we could compliment each other. Like two jigsaw puzzles, different in both size and shape, but the fit together so perfectly you couldn't see the join.

"I really like this." He whispered suddenly, his breath washing over my skin as I suppressed the urge to shudder in his arms.

"Me too.: I answered, tilting and twisting my head so that I could see him. "It almost makes me bitter…"

"huh?"

"That we had to wait so long…deny what we felt, we could have had 8 years of this."

He gave my waist a gentle squeeze. "I know Sam, we…we had a job to do, to free the Jaffa, to make the Galaxy safe, to ensure our continued survival and all that."

It was hard keeping the whine out of my voice as I huffed. "I know that, the military part of me knows that, accepts that it was what we had to do, because if we didn't…who else would…we opened that door, and we had to fix it. Colonel Carter understands that. Samantha Carter, the woman who spent so many years coming home to dying plants and an empty bed and longing for a man she couldn't have… I put my life on hold for the Stargate Program for a long time…"

"Sam, I know…" He said, holding me closer. "I know." He whispered quietly, his dark eyes flicking to meet mine as we continued to stand in my kitchen, I would have loved to stay like this for the rest of my life, but…my stomach over-ruled me as it gave a loud rumble. "Hungry much Sam?" he whispered saucily as his eyes glittered down at me.

"For food…but who knows how hungry I could get later." I replied, my voice turning low and husky (a tone that I had already learnt was a killer for Jack) and smiled impishly at him as he gulped and his breathing hitched in his throat.

Jack had ended up making the pancakes, whilst he had me in stitches with his impersonations of various people that we had met through the Stargate Program over the past 8 years, and I had to say his 'Mollusk' (Mollum) impersonation was incredible, and if I didn't love the man so much I probably would have found his McKay impersonation just as aggravating as the man himself. We spent most of the that afternoon on the couch, talking, laughing, kissing…a lot…just…enjoying being together in a way that we had never been allowed to before. We talked a lot, especially about things that had happened during our time at the SGC, clearing the air I guess, a lot of things had happened that we never really dealt with…we just put it into that room (you know the one), moved onto the next mission, and never talked about it again. It was…cleansing in a way, there were a few tears from both of us, especially when Jack started talking about the crystal clone Charlie. By the time Cassie arrived home, it was already past 4 in the afternoon and Jack and I were curled up on the couch, watching tv and eating popcorn, Cassie had grinned at us, before settling in the chair and joining us.

That was our first date, and I guess you could say the first day of the rest of our lives. General Landry joined the SGC, hand picked by Jack, who ended up taking on an advisory role at the SGC (and of course the Asgard requested that they deal with him), working with the X303 pilots, it was only a few days every month but it kept him in the loop. At first I thought he would go crazy from boredom, but Jack had other plans, he started fixing up my place, starting with the backyard, he had trimmed the neglected rose plants, planted trees that he promised would provide excellent shade over the gazebo, when I had 'What Gazebo?', he had grinned and told me what he was planning to build. And he did, it took Daniel, Teal'c and Jack a month of weekends to build, but it was beautiful, they had used recycled wood, old wood from train lines you know, and it had a hanging chair and he planted climbing roses over the supports. Over the years it became one of our favorite places to spend the evening, sitting in the chair, talking…reading, or just being together, surrounded by the beautiful smell of blossoming roses. Anyway, Jack did find plenty of things to do, he repaired a lot of the interior of my house too, just little things, repainting walls, replacing rusted pipes, that sort of thing. He also started coaching the local under 10 ice hockey team, and he loved every minute of it (it gave him an excuse to act childish).

I guess it wasn't until…3, maybe 3 and a half months later when we had realised that Jack hadn't been home in two weeks, he had more clothes in my closet than he did at his one at his home, and no-one called his house to reach him anymore…somehow Jack had moved in with me. And I didn't mind it all. It was nice coming home to him, somehow he knew when I had had a stressful day at work, and he would have the bath drawn (complete with bubbles and candles) by the time I walked in the door. When I eventually emerged, dinner was on the table and after we ate, he would let me vent at him about whatever was on my mind. Then he would carry me off to bed and make me feel a whole lot better!

Anyway, it was after this whole 'my god he's moved in with me' realization that we sat down and had a talk, eventually we decided to sell Jack's house, lovely though it was (especially the view) it was simply too small for 3 adults to live in full-time. And though neither of us mentioned it at the time, it wasn't big enough for 3 adults 1…if you get my drift.

Work was the same as usual, though my duties on SG-1 had been scaled down since the Jaffa rebellion, we still went off-world every few weeks, mostly on diplomatic missions and to visit some of our allies. I was still working a lot in the labs too, with the end of the Goa'uld it had given us a big chance to study some of their technology. I guess you could say my life was…great, but I felt like I was missing something…but I just didn't know how to talk to Jack about it. In the end, it turned out I didn't have to broach the subject with him at all, I remember that conversation like it was yesterday…it changed our lives forever so it would be hard not too…

I was getting ready for bed, Jack was already in bed propped on his side as he eyed me with a sexy grin when I had reached for the foil packet of pills on my side table he had suddenly whipped his hand out, stopping me from popping it out.

"Sam…" he said, fidgeting slightly as he sat up. "Can I…can I ask you something?"

I had put the packet back down, my heart already thumping in my chest as I turned to face him on the bed. "What is it?" He was so nervous, tugging at the blanket slightly and chewing on his lip as he glanced at the foil packet then back to me, then back to the blanket.

"What if…what would you say if I asked you if it would be okay if you stopped taking that?"

My eyes had widened as I realised what he was asking, and I swear that my heart stopping beating for a second as I drew a deep shaky breath. "You…you mean…a baby…you want us to try for a baby?"

"Well, uhh…yeah…" His face was full of such hope as his eyes flicked to mine…and held this time.

My response had been to get off the bed, breaking eye contact with me as I heard in groan slightly in frustration at himself mumbling 'too soon…jack you idiot', I knew he had misread my actions as I turned back to him, picking the foil packet up and dropping it in the waste basket. He had literally choked, gulping deeply as he realised what I meant…

"Is that a yes?" he asked timidly as I climbed back into bed, this time under the covers and immediately cuddled into his side.

"I'm not getting any younger…the expiration date on these eggs is fast approaching. I've been wanting to ask you…talk to you about this for awhile…I just didn't know how. I have…wanted this for a long time you know, longer than I think I should admit to." I had paused here, taking a deep breath I had forged on. "Pete wanted a family…but every time I closed my eyes to imagine our kids, they kept looking like you."

"And you wanted that…kids looking like me?"

"More than anything Jack, you always had been, and always will be the only man I could consider having children with."

"Really?" he asked, slightly shocked by my admission as I tilted my head to look up at him. "Not even you know…Harrison Ford?"

"He's with a stick."

"Brad Pitt?"

"He looks like a Ken doll"

"…Cary Grant?"

"Isn't he dead?"

"Good point…really…me?"

"uh huh" I responded sliding my hand up his chest. "Your handsome…brave, intelligent, caring, gentle…you are also the man that I am madly…passionately in love with." I had whispered seductively as I latched onto his neck, sucking gently as he pulled me even closer with a groan.

"Wanna make a baby Sam?" he asked, slipping his hand under my shirt.

"Takes a month for the pills to stop working." I mumbled as I trailed my lips up his neck.

"Practice Sam…you gotta practice these things."

With a giggle, and a smile, I had turned fully in his arms, straddling his waist as he smiled at me, a full on Jack O'Neill smile, one that lit up his eyes, making them sparkle and dance as I leaned in to hug him, my face pressing into his shoulder as I breathed in his unique, intoxicating scent. "So…we really going to do this?" I asked him softly

"If you want too Sam…only if you want too."

"Oh I want too…I so want too."

We had practiced that night, it was good I have to tell you, mind you sex with Jack was always good (and often explosive, he may not be too good with the words at times, but he sure knows how to put his feelings and emotions into touching and kissing). We both knew the odds of us having children were…low, very low. To be honest, Janet had never been able to test whether I was even capable of having children, a few tests by the new base CMO, and with the aid of the Asgard, they were able to determine that whilst it was possible, the chances were indeed low. They both likened it to something like PCOS, where the body doesn't produce the hormones in the right amounts, but weren't quite sure how to treat it. It was a blow to our dreams of starting a family, a big blow to be honest, and I had spent the next few nights crying into Jack's chest as I saw the future that I hate fought for…that I had sacrificed so much for, slowly slipping away from me. General Landry was very understanding, up until then SG-1 had still been going on regular missions, though I knew it worried Jack no end, even if they were standard meet and greets, and going back to visit old friends who we hadn't seen in a few years, it was wonderful really, seeing people that we had freed from the Goa'uld free to live their lives how they wanted too.

Our first anniversary was fast approaching, and Jack was being very secretive, I asked for a weeks down-time, which Landry accepted without hesitation. Jack had blindfolded me as he led me out to the car, asking me if I still trusted him, which of course I did, before he had bundled me in and drove me to the airport. We ended up in Minnesota (not that big of a surprise actually, but it was sweet the way he was treating me), the cabin had a trail of roses leading towards the bedroom, the fire was dancing in the hearth, the champagne was chilling in the bucket, and the pizza was heating in the oven. All in all, it was a very romantic setting, and it was…beautiful, he was so caring and attentive. He knew that the news about my fetility (or rather lack off) had really knocked me around, and he had sort of taken it upon himself to remind me just how much he loved me (at every possible chance). I mean, yes we were trying for a child, but the sex never became…mundane, or felt like a chore, he was always gentle, loving, sometimes he would set the mood with a bath, surrounded by candles, then followed by dancing before he would lead me to bed (spending HOURS going over my body, touching, tasting, always as if for the first time), sometimes he would surprise me as I walked in the door. As I said, it was never a chore making love with Jack, he was skilled and loving, and though sometimes he had a few…problems, he never failed to make sure I enjoyed it. Though the first time he had a…what did he call it at the time…ignition problem I think it was, I had found him later in the bathroom staring morosely at a packet of blue pills, cursing his own stubbornness at not taking them. Turns out that he had been needing them for the past few years, his mind had been willing, but his body would always fail him when it came to crunch time. That was into our…7th month I think, maybe 8th, I'm not sure, but he had never once used them with me (incredible ego boost that was!). I had helped him off the floor, led him towards the bed and showed him that he didn't had to use them at all. Sometimes he would just need a hand…or mouth…to help him out, and that I was always there to help him out if the problem arose (or didn't) again.

So, that week up at the cabin was…incredible, we went for walks around the lake, we fished, we went swimming, and we spent nights in front of the fire cuddling, kissing, talking and making love. For 5 days, Minnesota had become our bubble to the outside world. It was on the 6th day that it burst, and the shockwaves from that would be felt for the rest of my life…Jack's too, not that it was bad. It was both an incredibly painful period for me, but at the same time…it was such an joyful experience, and something I could never regret happening. Not for one single moment…I can recall the events so clearly in my mind, even to this day, those days after the phone call will always be imprinted on my memory. This day, and that call, changed my life forever how could you forget something like that?

It was morning, the sun having barely broken over the treeline and the cabin was bathed in a breath taking orange glow, and I was curled in Jack's arms as he softly stroked my hair, it was longer now, I had started growing it out when I got involved with Jack, and he loved threading the strands through his hair. The quiet still of the morning (you know the cliché…it was too quiet really) was broken by the ringing of my cell, only to be used in dire circumstances so I knew it was important I had disentangled myself from his arms with a groan and picked up the vibrating cell.

"Carter."

"Colonel Carter, this is General Landry…theres been an…accident, you are needed at the base."

"Sir…I'm in Minnesota, I will try to get back today, but I can't make any promises."

"Colonel, just get here as soon as you can." He had all but ordered me, but quickly sobered. "It's personal." He added softly. My breath had caught in my throat as I shoved Jack into a state of alertness.

"Oh god…Daniel…Teal'c are they okay?" I asked, dreading the answer that I knew could very well come down that phone line.

"They are fine, so is Cassandra, as well as Mark and his family." He added, alleviating my fears for them. "Colonel, it would be best to discuss this in my office. Bring Jack."

With a soft click, General Landry was gone but my fears were full blown as I scrambled out of bed, throwing my clothes on as Jack closed the cabin up, leaving a note for the maid and screeching out of the wilderness in under 30 minutes.

We had barely said a word of the way back to Colorado Springs, the car filled with tension as we both went over every possible scenario that could have happened. Each one worse than the other, and in our time at the SGC we had seen some pretty bad stuff, so what we were imagining was pretty…bad.

I left Jack at my quarters he was still allowed on base however he wasn't allowed on the Stargate level, so squaring my shoulders I had tried to ease the tension in them as I impatiently waited for the elevator to reach the designated level.

General Landry was waiting for me, obviously having received word that I had signed in.

"I am sorry for calling you back Colonel…but I need to inform you of something." He said softly, guiding me towards his office and closing the door behind me, sitting down behind the desk that I was so familiar with, he had looked up at me with tired eyes.

"Colonel, you are friends with Dr.'s Alex and Michael Durham?" He asked me folding his hands together as I leant forward, panic immediately gripping my chest once again.

"Yes, she's one of my oldest friends, we went to College together." I explained, knowing that he probably already knew this. "I hired her to work in the labs…is she okay, is Mick okay?" I asked hurriedly as I saw the look flash across General Landry's face. "Oh god…no…no, but…no, they work in the labs…no…" I whispered as I sunk into the chair, tears coming to flood my eyes.

"I'm sorry Colonel…they were called off world 4 days ago to investigate some technology. When they went over their contact time, we dialed the planet…we aren't entirely sure what happened, but it appears as if something blew up. There was nothing alive for a 100 miles in every direction. I'm so sorry Sam." He had switched to using my given name, knowing that this was a time (and a conversation) that didn't involve the military.

"Nothing?"

"Even the trees were gone. All that was left was the Stargate."

"Oh god…"

"I understand that you have some decisions to make now…I can extend your leave for a month."

"Thank you sir…and…" I had broken down then, a sob rising in my throat as I covered my face. "Sorry sir." I mumbled out as I got up, swiping at the tears in my eyes as General Landry got up from his chair, coming to stand before me.

"You should go talk to Jack." He said quietly, touching my shoulder gently as I nodded.

I'm not even sure how I got to my quarters, it was like I was on automatic pilot as I slipped in through the door, not even noticing Jack on my bed, playing with the yoyo that I kept here…just in case…as I slid to the floor and cried. He was up in a flash, the yoyo forgotten as he wrapped his arms around me, holding me against his body as I cried and cried, he didn't make any of those annoying shushing noises, he just held me against his body, one hand on the back of my head, the other on my spine as he brushed his lips over the skin on my neck, over and over again.

"I…Jack…it's…Alex and Michael." He stiffened in my arms for an instant, he knew what those words meant, he had been a part of this program for long enough to know what they meant.

"What happened?" he had asked me softly, beginning to move his hands soothingly over my back.

"They…God Jack…they weren't supposed to die like this…they were supposed to grow old together…raise a family together. Not like this…not like this." I had whispered into his neck as he held me tight, the tears flowing as I scrunched my hands around his shirt, fisting it tightly. And he had just continued holding me, until the tears were gone.

"There's…something I have to tell you Jack." I had begun, my voice muffled against his shoulder as he pulled back. "I'm Grace's guardian. I'm her only family now."

Grace was their daughter, 3 years old and an absolute angel, she had come to see both myself and Jack as her second parents, especially Jack, he just adored her (really I think it was because she gave him an excuse to act like a kid). She knew her parents worked a very demanding job, and she cherished every minute she could spend with them and Alex had confided in me that Grace spent many a night curled up between them in bed.

"We are her family now Sam." He had responded gently.

"We?" I questioned him as I pulled back, my eyes red with tears as he smiled softly.

"Of course…I love you Sam, and I adore that little girl…and Alex and Michael, they…" he broke off then, closing his eyes in frustration. To him that had always been a sore point, his inability to express his feelings with words.

"It's okay." I reassured him, touching his face gently. "I…have to go pick her up, she's at a friends…will you come with me?"

"Always Sam…you know that, I will always be with you. No matter what."

Telling Grace that her parents weren't coming home again had been one of the hardest things I had ever had to do in my life, she had cried and screamed for hours before falling into an exhausted sleep in my arms, whimpering occasionally as I slowly rocked her, my own tears falling steadily down my face as Jack held me, his face buried in my neck as he whispered soothingly to me, occasionally kissing the slope of my neck until my own tears finally dried up. We ended up crawling into bed together, all 3 of us, Grace was snuggled between us as Jack wrapped his arms around us both.

"Sam…can you sing my song?" Grace suddenly asked softly, her voice wavering slightly as she looked up at me with her wide blue eyes.

Every night, since the day they had bought her home from the hospital, Alex had sung her favorite song to her child, no-one else had ever been allowed too it was a song between mother and daughter, with a special meaning for just the two of them. Being asked to sing it for Grace was a big step, and one I had never thought she would take by herself. I had gently brushed my lips over her forehead before I began to sing softly.

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand Hold it tight

I will protect you
from all around you
I will be here
Don't you cry

For one so small,
you seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry

'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always

Why can't they understand
the way we feel
They just don't trust
what they can't explain
I know we're different but,
deep inside us
We're not that different at all

And you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Don't listen to them
'Cause what do they know
We need each other,
to have, to hold
They'll see in time
I know

Here, my voice had broken as tears overcame me and I choked on my tears as I clung to Grace with everything that was in me. To say I was shocked when Jack joined in with his deep voice to finish the song for me was an understatement, I had never heard him sing before…hum yes, but never sing and I was surprised to find he had a beautiful voice, soft and gentle it washed over us both, calming us both into sleep.

When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you've got to hold on
They'll see in time
I know
We'll show them together

'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on,
Now and forever more

Oh, you'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be in my heart, always
Always

As his voice quieted we both looked down at Grace, her face resting against my chest and her hand curled tightly around my own as she slept soundly. We had both looked up at the same moment too, our eyes meeting…and in that moment a thousand words were said, from 'I Love you' to 'everything will be okay'. As I settled down against the pillow Jack had leant across, somewhat awkwardly I must say, to brush his lips over mine.

"Always Sam…always." He had whispered against them as I teared up once more, knowing that it was true…always had been.

Grace's transition into our family was…life altering, for all of us. I gave up my off world expeditions, though by that stage I was hardly off world anyway and worked solely out of the labs, so that meant giving up leadership of SG-1, Daniel and Teal'c took it well which was good, Daniel loved the opportunity to spend more time in his lab, and Teal'c began working with Jack out of the Academy, training and finding young men and women who could be potential SGC personal. I even started teaching at the Academy 2 days a week. Grace did find it hard at first, settling into a new home, we did keep her in the same daycare centre, though it was on the other side of town, we didn't want to take her away from friends at this time, if ever if we could manage it. She often would come into our room at night, dragging the pink bunny that went everywhere with her behind her, her nose red as she sniffled, asking if she could sleep with us that night. We would eagerly lift the covers up and invite her in, sometimes we would sing 'her' song, sometimes we would simply hold each other, other times Jack would become the tickle monster and tickle us until we were giggling and crying 'uncle'.

Jack and I, after a long talk, decided to put our baby making plans on hold, at least until Grace was settled, we both knew it was a risk, neither of us were getting any younger but we both felt that to bring a baby into our household at that time was not a good idea. It wasn't until two months later, two months after Grace came into our lives, two months after our anniversary and 6 weeks after we had our talk that I knew that everything was about to change.

Jack was picking Grace up from daycare, on the way home he would take her to the park for their afternoon ice-cream, and to play on the playground equipment. I was home early, in shock I have to say as I sat in the lounge chair, waiting for them to walk in the front door. My heart was pounding, and my palms were sweating as I continued to sit there, until I heard the crunch of tires on the gravel in my driveway where my heart had (well, it felt like this anyway) literally stopped beating for an instant. And before I knew it a giggling Grace covered in chocolate ice-cream and carried on Jack's hip were pushing the door open.

"Miss Gracie, you are just trying to get me into trouble aren't you?" he said as he looked into her giggling face, as she cried in joy at seeing me.

"Sam! Jack bought me ice-cream and then I fell over and it's all over my bunny shirt."

"I can see that missy…someone needs a bath I think." I responded with a bright smile, it was fake…Jack could tell as he frowned at me slightly.

"Gracie, can you go change your shirt?" he asked as he sat her down on the floor.

"Sure!" she had cried before charging for her room as Jack crossed to where I was sitting, hands folded in my lap, my lips pressed into a thin line as I stared at the coffee table in front of me.

"What is it?" he asked softly as he knelt in front of me, effectively meeting my gaze as I let out a sob.

"I'm pregnant." I told him simply as his mother opened in shock, before a grin slowly appeared, breaking into a fully fledged Jack O'Neill smile.

"Really?" he asked as his hands came up to grip mine.

"I fainted at work today, Dr. Lam ran some tests, I'm two months pregnant." I stated, fear still entrenched deep within me.

"You fainted…are you okay, is the baby okay?" His voice was full of concern as his eyes flicked from mine to my stomach and then back again.

"The baby is fine…you…you aren't upset?" I had asked, my voice wavering slightly as shock flashed briefly through his dark eyes, his brow furrowing for an instant.

"Upset…why would I be upset…this is fantastic, brilliant…I mean Sam…absolutely incredible…god I can't think straight." He finally admitted, chuckling as he covered my lips with his own. "God I love you." He whispered against them as I started crying again. "Hey, stop with those tears." He said softly, wiping them away with his thumb just as Grace came bounding back into the room.

"All clean!" she proudly exclaimed as Jack and I looked over, both laughing when we realised her shirt was on inside out. "Sam crying?" she asked, scurrying over to sit in my lap and wrapping her arms around my neck. "Don't cry. Don't be sad."

"I'm not sad sweetie, I'm crying because I'm happy."

Grace looked at me for a second, thinking hard. "Cry because you are happy?" she finally asked, obviously confused by the whole thing.

"Uh huh, sometimes, when we get so happy, it just has to come out and sometimes it comes out as tears."

"Ohhhhh!" Grace said, smiling broadly at finally getting it. "Why you so happy?" she asked, with all the innocence of the 3 year old that she was.

"Well," here I had paused, looking at Jack for guidance as he smiled encouragingly, "I'm going to have a baby."

"A baby?"

"Yeah. A little brother or sister for you." Jack had grinned at my words, I had said the right thing to her as she smiled up at me as well.

"Can I have a brother please Sam. Please, I'll…I'll even keep my crayons neat if you do!" she begged me as I chuckled.

"We'll see Gracie, we'll see."

My sons birth was a bit of a haze, one minute I was tinkering with my computer in my lab, the next I was doubled over in pain and thinking that I had either a) developed a sudden incontinence problem b) sat in a puddle or c) my water had just broken. A guard had heard my screams and come rushing to find me on the floor of my lab, my elbows braced on the cold concrete as I panted through a contraction. Within minutes Jack was by my side as I was wheeled to the infirmary. What followed was 18 hours of pain as my son resolutely refused to get out of me, and though I love him dearly, sometimes I wonder if it was really worth it. Like when he dismantled my fully restored Indian at age 8 and glued all the pieces together in some abstract sculpture that could only make sense to an 8 year old. Jack had found me sobbing in the garage, holding the few unglued pieces in my hands (the parts that had been too big to glue to anything incidently) whilst I cursed at Ra, Apophis and all things holy (and unholy).

"I hate you." I panted out between contractions, gripping Jack's hand tightly as he smiled at me.

"I know honey."

"You're a bastard…you did this to me and…holy shit!"

"Shhh…"

"I swear Jack if you 'shh' me one more time, you won't be able to try and get me in this position again!"

"Sorry."

"Yeah…you better be…oh crap…shit, I hate you!"

"I love you." He had whispered as I burst into tears again, before near breaking his hand as another contraction hit.

"That's good, coz if I went through all this and you didn't…shit…oh fuck…love me, I would kill you."

Jacob Carter O'Neill was born after 18 hours of labour, I had been tired, sweaty, covered in blood and god only knows what else, but Jack stated that I had never looked more gorgeous as I stared at the crying red newborn in my arms, before I promptly burst into tears again. Pregnancy really had screwed with my hormones, Jack spent most of the 7 months that we knew about it, either holding me as a cried or hiding from me as a I yelled at him. He really did put up with a lot during those months, and I always felt so bad afterwards, especially after I threw the bowl of vegetables at him (carrots hurt too) that I had begun sobbing right there in the kitchen.

After a short nap (for all of us) and after the nurse had shown me our to feed my son, Jack was sitting next to me on the bed, gazing at his son in amazement when Daniel stuck his head in the door, asking if Grace could meet her baby brother as she was getting a little restless in the hallway. Quickly nodding at him, he had led Grace to our bedside (obviously he had given her another 'you have to quiet and gentle with your brother' talk) and she peered up at him, curiosity on her face as she looked at me.

"Up?" she asked, indicating that she wanted to see him better. Jack had hauled her into his lap with ease and she had reached over to gently hold his tiny hand. Smiling when he gripped it tightly in his fist and blinked up at her before closing his eyes. "Can I hold him?" she asked quietly as Jack and I looked at each other, before nodding slightly.

"Okay." I said as Jack carefully adjusted her in his lap so that whilst he was technically in Grace's arms, Jack was really the one holding him. As I handed him over Jack had near split his face in two, his grin was that huge. Grace was matching him as well, she may not have been ours biologically, but she was so like Jack in every way. She was so gentle with him, softly touching his face bending to kiss his forehead gently before he started wailing loudly.

"My mum and dad used to sing this song to me…I'm going to sing it to you too…"

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand Hold it tight

I will protect you
from all around you
I will be here
Don't you cry

For one so small,
you seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry

Grace's POV

So often the best part of ourselves comes from the people we love. I can say that that is true about mum and dad, she was never the same after we lost Dad. She was still mum, she still laughed…but it wasn't 'that' laugh and she still smiled…but it wasn't 'that' smile, the one that Dad had called her megawatt smile. The best part of my mum died along with my dad, there's truly was a love that existed beyond life…beyond anything we could comprehend. They had been through so much together, both as a part of SG-1 and later on, when he was a General, and even later after he had retired, after everything they had been through…they became a part of each other.

It may surprise you to learn that my parents never got married, though I know everyone expected them, something cliché like Dad proposing in the briefing room and them getting married on the gate ramp. It just wasn't them. They didn't need the rings, or the ceremony to show the world how much they loved each other, you could see it every time they looked at each other, every time Dad would hold Mum against his chest in front of the fire, or when Mum would shake her head at his really bad jokes, but smile and giggle anyway. They loved each other deeply, something a lot of people look to find, a love that can stand the test of time and tribulation, that can withstand adversity and regulations. No, they didn't need to get married…I think in their minds they had been married for a long time before they became an 'official' couple, a ceremony was just not needed for them.

Evidently, I did get a brother, and I did keep my crayons neat. After Jacob was born, my little brother and my parents only biological child, Mum went back to active duty, she got another promotion when Jacob was 4 and became the CO of the SGC. That had lasted about 6 months, in the end she missed her family too much, she had 7 year old and a 4 year old who barely saw their mum and missed her. She had resigned her commission, and the new CO had hired her back as the head of the Scientific department, which was her true love. She loved her new job as it was a basically 9-5, 5 days a week job. She would see us off to school then go and tinker with alien technology, and would come home to help us with our homework. (I must say it was always a bonus having a Math whiz as a mother).

My parents were together over 30 years and whilst it was not always a bed of roses, I knew (heck anyone with half a brain cell knew) that they were devoted to each other. Dad was well into his 80's when he passed away and, like I said, Mum was never the same after losing him…and then Uncle Daniel died not long after, and mum just seemed to shrink into herself, losing her two best friends in the space of a few months was hard on her, and she never truly recovered from it. We lost Mum almost 5 years after Dad, we were all saddened by that, Cassie was distraught and inconsolable for a long time, Jacob was a lot like Dad, he kept his emotions in check, but I knew he felt her loss a lot harder than we did. He wanted so much to be like her, a great scientist and a wonderful officer.

Cassie ended up working at the SGC, as the base CMO and she did her mother proud, she worked on, and achieved so much in the medical field that a hospital was named after her. Though she insisted that her mother's name was to go on the plaque as well, Cassie always said that Janet was the better doctor…she had so little to work with when it came to alien diseases that she really did pioneer a lot of what Cassie had finished (Nanotechnology especially). Jacob joined the Air Force as well, he was a brave and distinguished officer and my parents had been so proud when he received the Purple Heart. When he was promoted to General, (third generation General!) he had been so proud to discover that both his parents had left one star each to pin on his shoulders, though they never got to see those stars on his uniform I know they would have been so proud of him.

I ended up teaching at the Academy, I too joined the Air Force, and reached the rank of Major Doctor (physics and chemistry) before I retired due to an injury I received in the field, like my mum, I wasn't all that upset when I retired, I had a job I loved and a husband that I adored, Nicholas Jackson (Yes, I know clichéd, I married my parents best friends first child…) was never part of the Air Force (just like his parents) but was always a part of the Stargate program in some form, and I know Daniel and Sarah would have been proud of him too.

My parents never had a normal relationship, but then again, they didn't exactly have a normal life. I once asked mum if she would have changed anything, she got this far away look in her eyes, smiling wistfully before she answered with a resounding 'No'. She had been saved by the Program, she had met Dad, and Daniel and Teal'c. Together they had traveled the stars, and found each other, they had found Cassie. It bought my birth mother and mum together again, and in doing so, they created me (Yes mum did have a little bit of a hand in getting my birth parents together…crafty little match maker), they saved the world, freed a galaxy from the rule of the Goa'uld. Mum had re-united with her father, and forgiven him, and they had grown so much closer because of it. Closer than they ever could have been if Grandpa had died. They gained so much from the program, they lost a lot too, but in general they gained so much more. They gained each other. It might not have been a normal relationship (8 years of love and devotion hidden behind 'sir' and 'Carter', mum nearly marrying someone else because she was too stubborn to realise it was a mistake…the normal problems really…parents, honestly!), but it wasn't a normal life either. I may not know much but I do know that, despite everything, they wouldn't have changed it for the world…


I congratulate you for finishing this story, at 18,000 words it's a monster. Please, please review as I would love to know what you think of it!