Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As she heard the front door open, Sam O'Neill quickly minimized the windows on her laptop. Now nearly nine months pregnant, she'd taken advantage of this quiet morning and Jack's absence to do quite a bit of on-line Christmas shopping. Between doctor's orders and her naturally expanding girth, she'd become a couch potato lately; point and click had become the extent of her physical exertion. Disgusting, she thought. Worse yet, she had three to four weeks remaining before her projected delivery date. By then she was sure to be totally incapable of any movement whatsoever.

"Anybody home?" Jack's teasing voice echoed through the house. He knew as well as she did Sam wasn't going much of anywhere these days.

"In here," Sam called, not bothering to get up. She'd deftly hidden the evidence of her gift buying indiscretions beneath yet another page of the astrophysics text she'd been writing. What Jack didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

As usual these days, Jack knew right where to find her.

"Hi, beautiful," he said smartly, bending to bestow a tender kiss as soon as he entered the room. "How are you and junior feeling?"

Sam scowled at him.

"Okay, I know, not Junior," he apologized.

"I suppose we should decide on a real name before he arrives," Sam said.

"Yeah, we should," Jack agreed, falling onto the sofa and putting his feet up. "Speaking of which, how's his mother doing?"

Sam carefully pushed up and away from her computer desk. Holding her hand against the small of her back to counterbalance the weight, she walked over to the sofa. Jack held out a hand to ease her down. Even with the assist, Sam exhaled with a huff as she landed next to her husband.

"I hope this little guy comes soon," she said. "I'm big as a house."

"But it's a beautiful house," Jack quipped.

"You…!" she spat, playfully hitting his arm.

"Hey, no fair," he said. "I can't hit a pregnant woman, even if it is all in fun."

"Hmfff!" Sam snorted. "Do you know what I want for Christmas?"

Jack wrinkled his nose and furtively looked around the room. He'd recently completed what he'd believed was a major shopping coup, commissioning a beautiful piece of jewelry he was sure she would love. He hoped he hadn't totally missed the boat. But what the heck, whatever Sam wanted, he'd get it for her.

"Nope, you never wrote me a 'dear Santa' letter," he said. "What do you want for Christmas, little girl?"

Sam didn't miss a beat as she answered with a straight face.

"I want you to take a turn carrying this baby."

Jack's eyes got very big. His mouth opened, but no words came out. And beneath the ever present tan, Sam could swear he went pale.

"You mean after he's born, right?" Jack queried.

Sam nearly choked trying to maintain her composure.

"No, right now," she said.

"Have I missed something about the male, female gender thing?" Jack asked tentatively. He knew enough by now not to put anything past his brilliant wife. For all he knew, she'd figured out a way to do this.

Generously, Sam decided to put him out of his misery. She really hadn't expected him to take her seriously.

"I'm kidding," she said.

Jack breathed deeply. He didn't even realize he'd been holding his breath.

"Good," he said. "I was worried there for a minute."

"Don't think you could do it, do you," she teased.

Jack could tell she was trying so hard not to giggle.

"Go ahead," he said, "laugh. I can take it."

And she did, her shoulders shaking with the effort, one hand holding her greatly distended abdomen.

"I can't believe you thought I was serious."

"I always take you seriously, Doctor-Colonel Carter-O'Neill," he said. "Besides, I never argue with a pregnant woman."

"Right," Sam smirked.

"Do I hear sarcasm?"

"Learned from the best," she quipped.

Time to change the subject, Jack thought.

"So, do you think we'll be parents by Christmas?"

Sam's eyes lit up. "Could be," she said. Oh I hope so, she thought.

"Okay," Jack said. "That's what I call the 'most wonderful time of the year'."

Sam smiled, laid her head on his shoulder, and was satisfied. He might not be able to carry this baby for her right now, but Jack did a darn good job of loving and supporting her every step of the way. And that was the best Christmas gift of them all.

The End

A/N: Best wishes for a great holiday season!