Jack appeared, but didn't enter her room. Instead, he chose the diplomatic option of leaning against the door fame.
Sam was surprised, but really she shouldn't have been. She expected him to wait. Then again, she expected him to have no patience whatsoever because he was, well, Jack O'Neill. Because it had been 8 years of waiting already. Because didn't they finally deserve this?
"I was wondering if," Sam whispered in the dark of the bedroom, "or when you were finally going to work up the courage to come in here."
"It's not what you think," Jack replied.
"Well…" He broke off, and she smiled. "I… we… need to talk."
Sam pulled the blanket up a little higher. "Now?"
"I want to say this before I loose my nerve."
She wondered if Jack was going to say he had made a big mistake coming here with her. Or perhaps, dear God, he was about get down on one knee. She wasn't sure which one terrified her more.
Jack took a deep breath before he spoke. "Thor beamed me up on his ship about 45 minutes ago."
Sam was totally thrown. Thor was the last thing she expected to be a subject of conversation right now. This was Jack's cabin, after all, and they were on the fishing trip long promised and just as long anticipated. They'd spent days talking about the past and ever so carefully broaching the subject of a possible future.
The surprise turn of topic made Sam stumble through her question, "Is everything OK?"
"Peachy." Jack thought for a second and amended, "Sort of peachy. The world isn't about to blow up or anything."
"That's always good," she said.
"It was more of a… personal conversation. Thor's got this technology that can predict stuff. Like my life after making a choice, what will happen as a result of that choice…ah… outcomes measure, he calls it."
"How does it work? Is there a direct interface with the hippocampus that sends data through–"
"Carter," Jack cut her off, "focus here."
He sighed. It was so slight that Sam wasn't sure if it was just her imagination. But then he got that tone, the one she'd heard only a few times. It was used only on rare occasions, when Jack was serious, when he was worried that he was about to impart painful news. Sam steeled herself for what was next.
"It seems," Jack said, "that if I keep going as I am, working at the SGC, I will be killed in the field three weeks from now."
There was stunned silence.
"What?" She sat up, clutching the sheet and blankets around her as if hanging on to safety.
"No, I heard what you said," Sam replied. "But, I mean… so don't go out on a mission three weeks from now."
"I don't think that's how it works. It will be inevitable that I will have to go and whatever happens is… what happens."
Sam shook her head. "But I don't believe our lives are predestined like that. As if we have no choice in the matter at all."
"We do have choices," Jack agreed. "But once we choose, apparently, certain repercussions are inevitable."
"So you have a choice?"
"Thank God," Sam sighed relief. "Don't scare me like that. After all this time, don't tell me we only have three weeks for us to…" She trailed off.
Though they'd talked, they still weren't in a place that Sam felt comfortable finishing her statement. It didn't really matter; Jack seemed to hear the unspoken anyway.
"Yeah." Jack smiled ever so slightly and his eyes met hers.
There was a beat. The kind of moment that always existed between them. There were times Sam was positive the connection was so palpable that others around them must surely see it, feel it, and hear it too.
"So," Jack finally broke the link by looking down at his feet. "About a month ago they offered me a position in Washington–"
She responded even before he'd finished. "You'd hate it."
"I turned it down."
Sam sensed that something wasn't right. That this wasn't the whole story. "But?" she prompted.
"Thor showed me that though D.C. has a downside, there's an upside too." Jack seemed to struggle in finding the right words. "The 'thingy' doesn't really go into detail. Just shows you a moment in time that will happen if I make that particular choice."
"But the moment will happen only if you take the job in Washington?" she asked, making sure she understood where he was going with this.
He nodded. "I saw you and I together, here at the cabin. In that bed, under my Grandma's quilt."
"Sir, please tell me you and Thor weren't watching us…"
Jack fought a smirk. "No, you were asleep."
"Ah," Sam replied, grateful the darkness of the room hid the blush that now painted her otherwise pale complexion.
"Well… you were sleeping," Jack said, his voice growing a little uneven. "Until our two kids crawled in with us because they were afraid of the thunder outside."
"One boy and one girl. Don't worry, Carter, they got your looks."
"Oh," was all she could come up with. Not particularly profound, but who could blame her? An alien just showed Jack his children. Hers. Theirs. "Oh, God."
"You seemed so incredibly happy. I watched an older version of myself look at you and our kids and I..." He stopped. The brief quiet in the room was deep and rich. "I want that," Jack admitted softly.
Tears gathered at the corner of Sam's eyes. "Me too."
"Hey, none of that." Jack now finally crossed the room to her, and he placed a hand gently on her cheek.
Sam closed her eyes and leaned into it. "Good tears, I swear."
"This isn't going to be easy," Jack admitted. "I won't be near you everyday."
"But it will be worth it, eventually."
"I think so too," she said. "I love you."
"Loving each other has never been what's held us back."
"No… no more holding back?"
"Nope," Jack replied.
"We're really going to do this?"
He sat down on the bed beside Sam as he whispered, "Looks that way."
She smiled, "Finally?"
"If that's what you want. Then, yes."
Jack looked down, this close to her and at the new angle allowed him to see– Holy Mother of–
"Crap, Carter. You were naked under there this entire conversation?"
"And you failed to mention that from the beginning?"
She cocked an eyebrow. "If I mentioned it at the beginning, would we have had any conversation at all?"
"You said you wanted to talk," Sam reminded.
"Done talking. Talking's overrated."
"Com're," she used his password.
He felt obligated to ask, "You sure?"
The irony of the question was not lost on Sam. They'd just planned out their future together, including having children, and yet he was asking if it was OK to kiss her. They really were messed up.
Sam gave him a look. "I wouldn't have been laying here naked, waiting for you, if I wasn't absolutely sure."
"Carter, this is the third night we've been here at the cabin."
"I missed…?" He started to ask as she snorted a laugh. "Damn."
Sam ran a hand through his hair. "I hear that it helps to practice, you know, before starting the baby-making for real."
"Ah. Well. Practice makes prefect, I always say."
"Really? She questioned. "Because I'm pretty sure I've never heard you say it before now..."
"Cheeky little brat," he murmured.
Sam moved even closer in his embrace. "And yet, you love me anyway."
"I do," Jack said between kisses and giggles. "And I always will."