O'Neill looked up when he heard the knock on the door

Eight Year

Disclaimer: I am only borrowing the characters. If I owned them, this is what would've happened.

A/N: This is my first Stargate fic! Yay! I've been watching Stargate for five years now and only now got up the courage to write a fanfic about it. I am the biggest Jack/Sam shipper in the world. They are perfect for each other! Anyway, I hated it that Richard Dean Anderson left the show, but I understand he needed family time, but they could have at least gotten Carter and O'Neill together before he left, ya know?

This story is dedicated to Don S. Davis. May he rest in peace.

ENJOY!!

O'Neill looked up when he heard the knock on the door. Standing up and making sure his abhorred dress uniform was straight said, "Come on in." He was mildly surprised when Carter's blonde head poked in. "Carter!" he smiled, and then frowned when he saw the slightly guilty look on her face. "Carter…?" he drew out her name suspiciously.

"Hi, Sir." Carter smiled sheepishly and slipped the rest of the way into the room. O'Neill couldn't help but give her an approving once-over. He hardly ever got to see her in anything other than her SGC uniform. And, while he thought she looked great in anything…there was something about seeing her in her blue Air Force uniform. They made her eyes look bluer, if that's possible.

Carter stepped a little ways into the room, but left the door open just a crack. She and the General were expected at an important awards ceremony. Especially the General…considering it was in his honor. She averted her eyes and knotted her hands behind her back.

"Colonel…" O'Neill teased with pseudo-exasperation. He came around the desk and sat on the edge closest to her. Studying her posture and expression, realization struck. "You were making sure I was gonna show!" He pointed an accusatory finger at her and glared at her with fake anger. He couldn't even remember the last time he had been mad at her for real. 'Probably never.' He realized with faint surprise.

Carter's eyes jerked up to meet his, even guiltier than when she first walked in. Recovering quickly she un-twisted her hands and brought them down to her sides. Squaring her shoulders she took a deep breath. "Yes, sir."

"Yes, sir? That's it? No scientific mumbo-jumbo? No examples to explain why? Carter, I believe I'm disappointed." O'Neill smiled at her and watched as she squirmed. He loved it when he could make her squirm. He very rarely succeeded at it, but, then again, today wasn't a normal day.

"Well, general, you don't have a great track record with these sort of things." She looked somewhere to the left of his shoulder.

"Oh?" O'Neill folded his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow at her.

"Plus," Carter said as if she had just thought of it. "I wanted to make sure you were okay. Today is a…" She took a deep breath. "A big day." She leveled him with one of her Carter-calculating stares. "How are you doing, Sir?"

The general shrugged. "Fine, I guess. Just a plain old zippity-doo-da day." He responded in his trademark flippant manner.

"Sir--," She started, but O'Neill cut her off.

"Carter. I am dressed in these awful starched clothes, I have just finished my last piece of paperwork, I am prepared to face those commanding pains in the asses, and I have my most trusted friend escorting me to the dreaded room." O'Neill paused letting his rant sink in. Before she could comment he continued. "So, I'd say I'm just peachy."

Colonel Sam Carter deliberately tore her eyes from the General's. He was screwing with her. But, he had said most trusted. 'He also tacked on friend afterwards.' She couldn't help but think bitterly to herself. He also sounded sarcastic.

"I'm sorry." Carter said backing towards the door. "I didn't mean to upset you. I just wanted to make sure…" She trailed.

"That I didn't stand you up? Aw, Carter, relax. I'm not upset. I'm touched…really." He raised his eyebrows at her and stood up. Standing next to her he looked out the window into the briefing room. He felt her door the same beside him. "So…this is it."

"Sir?" She knew he was referring partly to the events that were about to take place, but that couldn't be it. His voice sounded heavy. He had other things swirling around in his brain. He turned to face her. Carter felt a blush threaten to creep into her cheeks and did her best to quash it.

"Eight and a half years Carter. We've been doing this." O'Neill did his best to convey his real meaning to her. He wanted her to read between the lines.

"Doing what?" She swallowed. She knew exactly what he meant, but it was dangerous ground. "Going through the gate?"

She saw a conspiratorial glint in his eye when he replied. "Yeah. I can't believe it's over." He made a vague gesture with his hands. "I can't believe SG-1 is…over."

Carter took a step back, shocked. Her eyes crashed into his and she gave him one hell of an admonishing glare. "Sir! How can you say that? You, Daniel, Teal'c and I will see each other all the time!"

"It's not the same Carter." O'Neill looked down at her. She held his gaze.

"Think of it this way; only one era of SG-1 is ending. A whole new one is just beginning." Carter watched him think about what she just said. She could practically see him turning it over in his mind. She was surprised when she felt the prickle of tears at the corners of her eyes. She had been thinking along those same lines for the last few days. Ever since the four of them had that…discussion.

"As usual Carter, you're right. But…" The general broke eye contact and looked out the window again.

"But it's not the same." Carter looked down, swallowing the tears along with the lump in her throat.

"Right."

An awkward silence filled the air between them. They knew they were late, but these were the last moments to pretend that the "old SG-1 era" wasn't ending. That they would all see each other again tomorrow morning and step through the gate into God knows what kind of territory. If Daniel and Teal'c were here it would be perfect.

But…Sam found herself a little happy that they weren't there. She and the general hadn't really talked in what felt like forever. Ever since the gate-going SG-1 was split up. Ever since he became general. Ever since Pete and Kerry and…and her dad. Ever since a lot of things.

But, Pete was gone. Sam hadn't been able to keep up the act anymore. She didn't love him and he deserved to be loved. And, the general had briefly mentioned that Kerry was out of the picture as well. But, what her dad said scared her. He was dead on. Granted, he was her father, so he would be more perceptive than the average person, but she couldn't help but wonder if she was really that obvious.

Jack didn't know it, but he was thinking the exact same things the Colonel beside him was. He knew changes were coming, but he didn't know which ones. Jack took a deep breath, unconsciously inhaling Carter's smell. The smell he had come to associate with her over the last eight and a half years. It wasn't flowery, but a coconut-ty vanilla scent. He closed his eyes remembering all the times he had been unconscious and waking up to smell that smell.

Every time he woke up to her smell he would feel a wave of relief crash over him. She was there. She was alive. Over the last few years he began waking up in the middle of the night when he was in his own bed and missing her scent. His first thought would be those of panic before he realized he was in his home and she was most likely at hers.

He was gonna miss going on missions with the team. Daniel talking about some anciently dead culture, Teal'c raising his eyebrow in different emotions, and Carter…Carter using some techno babble that held no meaning for him except that it made her eyes glow and her voice lilt with excitement. She would look at him, eyes all wide and sparkling like she was expecting some sort of excited response from him. He would usually smile at her, humor her for awhile, but he had to stop it before his brain exploded.

Not because of her techno-talk, but because of her. He would explode from her excitement, her joy, her overwhelming knowledge of…everything. She never ceased to amaze him.

"Carter—," O'Neill started.

"Sir—," Carter said at the same time.

Stopping, they both looked at each other. A few silent seconds passed before they both burst into laughter. Unknowing to each other's thoughts they were both secretly overjoyed to see the other laugh. They didn't do nearly enough of that of late.

"You first." Sam said when the laughter had subsided.

"Ladies first…I insist." Jack leaned against the window, amusement in his eyes.

"Who said chivalry was dead?" Sam copied his stance and expression.

"Ah, Carter! Clichés, clichés. You know how I feel about those." Jack narrowed his eyes at her in teasing frustration.

"I just wanted to say…" Sam trailed off and averted her eyes. Jack raised his eyebrows, waiting. "Thank you."

Jack stood up from his leaning position on the window, his mouth hanging slightly open. "Huh?"

"Um," Sam laughed nervously. "Thank you. I wanted to be the first to say it. I have a feeling you're gonna get a lot of them today."

"For what?" Jack shook his head eyes narrowed. 'What the hell is she thanking me for? I'm the one that owes her a thank you.'

"For…everything." Sam's hands made a vague gesture, reinforcing her statement.

"Everything?" Jack couldn't help it. Now he was curious.

"Yeah. For what you've given, for what you've risked to save the planet. To save us." Sam broke off. It was clear that she wanted to say more.

"Uh-huh…?"

"Which brings me to the more personal stuff. Things you've done for the team. For me."

"Which would be?"

Sam grinned. He had to be the most modest person in the world. "You've risked life and limb dozens of times because you thought it would save us. You never left us behind, sir. You never gave up; even when people told you it was useless."

"Yet you've done the same for me as many times." Jack always hated compliments like this, but when she said them…he actually kind of liked it.

"Not the point, sir." Sam stepped closer to him and looked closely into his eyes. "You have got to be either the most painfully modest or painfully clueless person in the world."

With anyone else she would have held her tongue, but this was General O'Neill. Her rock. Her best friend for over eight years. But…more than that…he was the person she had inadvertently given her heart to. And she wouldn't take it back for the world.

"That's insubordination, Colonel." He teased, smiling at her honesty. Turning so that they were now completely face to face he looked down into her sparkling eyes. "Well, in that case, I feel the irrepressible need to repay the thanks."

Sam looked surprised and raised her hand to stop him, but he caught it instead and held it. "Colonel Samantha Carter, I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for the world and for me. Without you, we'd all be dead." He knew it paled in comparison to her thanks, but it was him. He wasn't good with species.

Carter shook her head, but her eyes were focused on where he was holding her hand. He looked down too. He was surprised to feel a sort of pleasant tingling radiating from where he was touching her. When she shivered slightly he knew she felt it too.

"Carter…" he covered their hands with his other hand and looked at them in wonderment. "Eight years." Was all that managed to escape his quickly constricting vocal cords.

"Yes, sir." She tightened her grip on his hand and looked into his eyes. They were warm and inviting. They always held that same expression when he looked at her. "That is a very long time."

"Yes, Carter, it is." His voice was soft.

"We did it." Sam said just as softly. She saw the hint of confusion in his gaze and smiled. "We made it, alive and whole."

"Yeah." He was looking at her with an intensity she had never seen. 'No, that's wrong. I have seen that expression before. On Apophis' half finished ship four years ago. When…when he wouldn't leave me.'

"Sir, the ceremony…" but her voice trailed when he took another step closer, efficiently closing the distance between them. Her breath caught in her throat, but she kept her gaze locked on his. His face was inches from hers.

"They can wait. We certainly did." He brought his face even closer to hers.

"I--," Her words caught in her throat. She was on fire. He was so close. Physically…and military too. But, it wouldn't matter in a few hours. Soon, he would just be Jack O'Neill, retired General. No rules. No regs. No waiting.

"What?" his voice was a breathless as hers. His lips brushed hers when he spoke and her knees almost gave out.

"I love you." She whispered the words, but they seemed to resound in their ears. She waited for his reaction.

Jack blinked barely allowing himself to believe it. She had said it. She had said it. Pressing his lips to hers he whispered back. "I love you too." Then he kissed her. She responded immediately. It was long and gentle. It was their first kiss.

No alternate realities, no primitive viruses, no time loop, no figments of imagination. It was Sam Carter's and Jack O'Neill's first real kiss. They had done their waiting.

When they broke apart she laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. He, in turn, enfolded her in the hug.

"Sir…" Sam started, but had no idea how to finish.

"I know." He spoke softly kissing the top of her head.

"Can you imagine the Presidents' face if he saw that?" Sam asked.

Jack burst out laughing. Sam listened to the deep rumble in his chest. Closing her eyes she wished this moment would never end. She felt safe. She always felt safe when she was around him. She knew that he would never let anything happen to her…he would fight the galaxy to save her. 'He has.' She reminded herself.

"This isn't how I pictured it." Jack said suddenly. Sam tensed, but didn't let go.

"Sir?"

"I always imagined that we'd be fighting some enemy and I would just shout it. I would shout "I love you!" Then do something really heroic." She felt him smile against her neck.

"You…imagined this?" Sam was almost shocked into silence.

"Carter." He gently took hold of her shoulders and stepped back so he could look into her eyes. "I have imagined this moment for eight years. Ever since you came into the briefing room and made that little reproductive organs comment." He smiled when her cheeks flushed.

"It seemed like a clever thing to say at the moment." She said, embarrassed. "I just wanted to prove to you that I could handle it."

"You have. There is no one I trust more in the universe, Carter. You kick major alien butt, you're a literal genius, and you have got to be the most beautiful person I have ever seen." He spoke honestly. Lord knows he had made that his personal mantra over the last few years.

Sam blushed and buried her face in his chest again. She ran her hand along the lapel of his dress jacket and felt the tears start again. "Thank you, sir. Right back at ya."

Jack grinned. "Only 'sir' for a couple more hours, Carter."

"Only Carter for a couple more hours, sir." She shot back and chuckled.

"Geez, then what am I supposed to call you?" He replied teasingly.

"I guess you'll have to call me Sam."

"Then you'll have to call me Jack."

"Fine, Jack."

"Great, Sam."

A slight pause.

"Man, that feels weird to say." Jack said shaking his head slightly.

"But good." She said so quietly that Jack had to strain to hear.

"Yes, Sam. I've wanted to for eight years."

"I hate that number." Sam said suddenly.

"What?" Jack was taken aback.

"The number eight. I've never realized how long eight years can be."

"I know what you mean…but, you don't think it was worth it?" he hooked his finger under her chin and lifted her face to his.

"No." she pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. "It was definitely worth it."

They stood in silence for a few more minutes, just enjoying each other. Just enjoying not having to pretend or hold back anymore.

"We should go. They'll be wondering where you are." Sam said finally, stepping back.

"Right. But they'll also be wondering where my," he paused glancing her up and down. She blushed, but smiled. "Oh so beautiful escort has gone to."

"Well, I'm assuming Daniel, Teal'c, and General Hammond have figured it out by now." Sam said walking behind him towards the door.

"What do you mean?" He asked. He stopped at the door and offered her his arm.

She took it, enjoying the contact. "They've all implied they know about our…feelings for each other."

"Yes." Jack smiled fondly. "Yes, they have."

"Sir, what happens now?" she couldn't help herself. She had to know.

"Well, we meet with these holier than thou hotshots, then you, Daniel, Teal'c, and I will go back to my place and hang for a few days. Then they'll go home…and you and I will hang for a few days." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at her.

"Sir!" she gasped, her voice uncharacteristically high.

"Oh, and I have a surprise for you too." He continued as they reached the doors to the gateroom.

"Oh?" she said doing her best imitation of him.

"Yeah." He slid his card through and the doors opened. As expected all the 'holier than thou hotshots' were there, as were General Hammond, Daniel, Teal'c, most of the SG teams, some of the Tok'ra, Ry'ac and his wife, and some of the Jaffa leaders. There was also a cake, which General O'Neill had insisted on.

But something was off. All parties present wore identical 'barely contained' smiles and couldn't meet her eyes without grinning stupidly. "Uh, sir? What's going on?" she looked up at him and saw he was wearing the same silly grin.

Still holding her arm in his he walked a little further into the room. When he turned to face her again his eyes were glowing with mischief, but there was also a hint of trepidation and…could it be…nerves?

"Sir?" a hint of nerves had crept into her voice as well. She looked around at everyone again, unnerved by their smiles and their silence. "Daniel? Teal'c? What's going on?" she asked when her eyes caught Daniel's.

He smiled warmly at her, but shook his head. Teal'c raised an eyebrow and bowed his head. Now Sam was really starting to freak.

"Sir!" Sam said again, turning to face him. She was met with empty air. She felt his hand grasp hers and she looked down. "General, why are you…" she trailed off when realization struck.

He was on one knee. He was holding her hand in his right and an open box in his left. Inside the box, nestled on a bed of silk was a gorgeous diamond and sapphire ring. 'The Stargate.' She thought. The ring was designed to look like the stargate. The ring.

"Oh my God." She breathed when the last wave of shock hit her. "Are you…?"

"Samantha Carter…will you marry me?" Jack's voice was low, but everyone heard it. His tone was warm and slightly husky.

Sam stared at him. This couldn't be happening. In front of everyone? He wouldn't…he couldn't…he was!

"I…but…" she used her free hand to gesture around the room at all their superiors.

"Carter." His tone was lightly admonishing.

She looked back at him and couldn't help the smile that burst forth. "Sir…" she pulled him to his feet and looked directly into his eyes. "Yes."

The room immediately broke into applause. There were hoots and cheers. They distinctly heard General Hammond yell, "It's about damn time!" and Daniel hollered louder than anyone else. Teal'c remained silent, but he was wearing the biggest smile.

Jack smiled and slipped the ring on her right finger. "Eight years, Sam."

"No more waiting, Jack." She whispered back. Hooking his finger under her chin again he kissed her lightly. They still had to remain somewhat professional. They turned to face the crowd and were immediately engulfed in hugs and handshakes.

Daniel hugged Sam tight and whispered, "Congratulations. You two deserve it." She hugged him back, thanking him with all of her heart. He hugged Jack next and Sam distinctly heard him say, "If you hurt her, we'll be coming after you."

Jack laughed and Sam hid her own grin. Teal'c was next. He hugged her and congratulated her warmly. As did General Hammond.

"T!" Jack drew out his name and hugged him also. Then came the handshakes and fond congratulations from their superiors.

When Sam was able to break away ten minutes later, she pulled Jack with her. "How?" she asked still in disbelief.

"I called in a favor. I got our resignations processed early. Technically, we've been retired since yesterday." He smiled. Sam just stared at him. "You know, they were a bit confused when I handed them yours. They knew I was going to retire soon, but they figured you'd be staying on."

"I couldn't." Sam said. "It wouldn't be right without you here. The Stargate will go on without us. And we can go on with us."

Jack smiled sheepishly. "So, I suppose you've figured out there's no retirement ceremony."

Sam laughed and raised and eyebrow. "I did. But, trust me…I much prefer this." She took a step closer to him. He lightly rested his hand on the small of her back, pulling her to him.

"Oh?" he smiled and kissed her again. Harder and longer than their last. A resounding "oooooh!" went up around the room, orchestrated by Daniel.

Jack and Sam broke apart and laughed. "What are you? Twelve?" Sam asked jokingly.

They all shrugged still smiling and letting out the occasional chorus of "Jack and Sam sitting in a tree!"

"Hey." Jack said softly bringing her attention back to him and taking her hands in his.

"Hey." She responded, smiling softly.

"This is it." He looked past her towards the stargate and at Daniel and Teal'c. Sam kept her eyes on him. She felt the same nostalgia he did and felt he tears gathering, threatening to spill over. She didn't fight them.

"Yeah." She nodded, sniffling. "But we are still here. Daniel and Teal'c are still here. We'll always have one another. I know for a fact that I'm not gonna let Daniel or Teal'c go to far."

"Me neither." He agreed, gently brushing the pad of his thumb over her tear-streaked cheeks.

"We're a family." Sam knew she sounded sappy, but it was true. Daniel and Teal'c were her brothers and Jack…Jack was hers. And she was his.

Daniel and Teal'c ambled over each carrying two glasses of champagne. They each handed one to the couple and toasted them. After each taking a sip they looked at each other.

"So…" Daniel said.

"So…" Jack copied.

"Hard to believe we'll never go through again." Daniel gestured to the big ring in the center of the room.

"Ah, Danny-boy…never say never." Jack smiled and clapped him on the shoulder.

"But, you have just said 'never,' O'Neill." Teal'c furrowed his brow.

Jack's eyes crinkled with laughter. "No, I didn't. I would never say never."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. Sam and Daniel both shared a pseudo-exasperated glance and laughed.

"What do you mean, Jack?" Daniel asked, when chuckling had died down. "You and Sam are retired, and Teal'c and I are leaving too."

"Yes, but we're SG-1. We say the word and they'll have to let us go through." Jack spoke confidently.

"Sir, I don't—," Sam started, but Jack cut her off.

"We've saved the world dozens of times. They owe us that much." Jack said, still smiling.

Sam smiled too. She looked at each of them, loving them all in different ways. Her heart swelled with emotion and he grasped Jack's hand. This team, their team…wasn't over. They were all closer than friends. They would all stay relatively together for the rest of their lives. They had relied on each other for the better part of eight years and they would continue to do so forever.

"To SG-1." Daniel said raising his glass. Jack, Sam and Teal'c did the same.

"To SG-1!" They chorused.

Draining their glasses they moved off as a group to do some more mingling.

A/N: Please R&R! No flames though, thanks!