Title: Puppy Love

Author: petite_stars

Series: Changing Faces of Love

Summary: The first time Sam fell in love.

Spoilers: None, tiny season 2 spoiler.

Rating: Kid friendly

Disclaimer: Not mine! Just borrowing the characters, Stargate Sg1 belongs to MGM, Rob Cooper and Brad Wright etc.

Author's notes: This is the first story in a series detailing the times Sam falls in love. Thanks to wandering smith for the beta. All mistakes are my own. Each story will be able to stand alone or can be read in a series.

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The first time Samantha Carter fell in love, she was five years old. Her dad had missed Christmas, and when he returned from his deployment, he presented her and Mark with the most adorable little puppy. They called the little black lab Joey and, before long, Sam had taken to sneaking him inside the house so he could sleep in her bed at night. Mark lost interest in the puppy quickly, getting angry when Joey tore apart his socks and buried his favourite toy car. Sam, however, loved the puppy and barely spent a minute away from it.

Her mom had warmed to the little guy although she much preferred cats, so it was her dad that helped her to feed, walk and clean up after the dog. They spent hours caring for Joey; took long walks in the park, bought him special chew toys, and laughed together when bathing the puppy meant getting a bath themselves. She enjoyed the precious time spent with her father as much as she did spending it with Joey.

Four months after getting the puppy, Sam was sitting in the backyard playing fetch with Joey when her dad came outside and sat next to her.

"You wanna play too?" Sam laughed as Joey dropped the wet ball in her hand and nudged her to throw it.

"Can't today sweetie. I have to go to work."

"Oh okay. When you get home, can we go to the park with Joey?" Sam lobbed the ball in the air and Joey shot off after it.

"I won't be back for a while Samantha. I'm going away for a bit." Her dad's voice sounded sad and Sam looked up at him with wide eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"Just for a few months. I'll be back before you know it."

"I don't want you to go!" Sam grabbed onto her daddy's arm. His frequent trips away always left a dark shadow on the house. Her mom tried to hide it, but Sam could sense the worry in her eyes whenever her dad went on a work trip.

"I know," Jacob picked up the ball that Joey had just dropped before them and threw it, "But this is important Air Force stuff."

"Who's going to help me with Joey?" Sam turned to watch her puppy, now quite a bit bigger, chase the ball down past the trees.

"Mark will. That's what big brothers are for."

"He doesn't like Joey," Sam crossed her arms and pouted, "He calls him stupid."

"Sam." Jacob cautioned her.

"If you stay, I promise I'll pick up his doggy poos without you having to ask me, and I won't leave his bowl on the floor where the ants can get it." Sam tried to bargain with her dad but he just shook his head slowly.

"You be a good girl and look after Joey. When I come back we can build him a big dog house."

"Daddy, stay." Sam used the last weapon she had, whining with her big blue eyes.

"I can't, Sam."

Joey once again dropped the ball in front of her and nudged her with his nose. Sam kicked the ball away and ran into the house, ignoring the barking Joey who was disgruntled at the abrupt end to their game.

Later, when Sam was in bed, Joey snuggled to her side, she heard her parents saying goodbye. Her dad went to Mark's room before opening her bedroom door. She squeezed her eyes shut tight and covered Joey with the blanket so he wouldn't get put outside.

Her dad pressed a gentle kiss to her head, then leaned down and uncovered Joey. He scratched the puppy under his chin, then left the room with whispered words.

"I love you, Samantha."

For three weeks, Sam took care of Joey; she cleaned up after him, fed him on time and walked him after school with her mom. It wasn't the same; not even Joey's wet kisses could take away the weight in her tummy from her dad's absence.

As Sam was playing in the front yard, two figures in Air Force uniforms opened the gate. Sam jumped up excitedly running to greet them, she recognized one as her dad's friend Captain Hammond, and she was sure the taller figure was her daddy.

"Dad!" She ran towards them, but stopped as the men looked down and she didn't see her dad's smiling face.

"Is your mom home, Samantha?" Captain Hammond asked, his kind eyes seemed sad as they flicked from her to the little black puppy next to her.

"Yes."

"We need to talk to her."

Sam turned and ran inside calling for her mom. Later, she sat hidden under the stairs after her mom shooed her away and sat with the men in the living room. She only heard snippets of the conversation, but, combined with the sound of her mother's tears, she could guess what they were telling her.

"Missing in action" - "We can't release where." - "General Monetti will contact you about…"

Sam went outside, tears running down her face and stared at her little black puppy. She didn't want to believe what the Air Force men were saying, but even as young as she was, Sam knew that her daddy's job was dangerous. The last time her daddy went missing he didn't come home for months, he'd missed her birthday and the house had seemed cold, sad and empty, her mom never seemed to smile and Mark became even meaner when her dad wasn't around. Joey picked up the ball and dropped it at her feet. All Sam could see as she looked at the puppy was her dad, telling her that when he got home, they could build a big dog house. At that moment, she didn't want to think about her dad, she didn't want to be reminded.

Picking up the ball, Sam threw it out of the yard and down the street. Joey shot off after it, slipping through a small hole in the fence and Sam turned around and ran inside, slamming the door behind her.

It was dark when the regret started to sink in, and Sam went to sit outside, escaping the room, full of relatives, military wives, and officers who had come bearing casseroles and support for the Carter family. She walked to the edge of the yard and called for Joey. When he didn't come back she began to walk down the street, calling his name.

She didn't know how long she walked, or how far, but soon she turned around and realized she didn't know how to get home. She stopped walking, worried that not one of the nearby homes looked familiar. Then, out of the darkness, a car pulled up and stopped beside her. Sam knew that she should run, but when the figure got out of the car and called her name, she froze.

"Samantha?"

Sam recognized the young Captain Hammond. He was still wearing his uniform, and had a deep frown on his face.

"What are you doing out here? Your mom must be worried sick."

"I lost Joey." Sam started to cry; she didn't know how to get home, her daddy was missing and she'd gone and lost Joey too.

"Joey?"

"My puppy. Dad gave him to me."

"Ah, well actually I can help with that." The man opened the car's passenger door, and out leaped Joey. He jumped up onto her legs and Sam bent down so he could lick her face happily.

"Joey!"

"Found him a mile back. Was going to drive over to your place and bring him back to you."

"Thank you," Sam picked up the squirming puppy and kissed him, "Can you tell me which way is home?"

"How about I give you a lift?"

Sam nodded, "Okay, Captain."

The young man laughed, "How about you just call me George?"

"Mom says it's rude to call adults by their first names."

"Hmmm, how about Uncle George?"

The drive home was quick, and Sam got out the car dreading going inside. She had just walked into the yard, Uncle George behind her, when Mark opened the door.

"Where've you been? You are in soooo much trouble."

"I-" the words caught in her throat. Her dad was missing and her mom must have been so worried about her. She felt terribly guilty.

Then Uncle George put a warm hand on her shoulder, "Let *me* talk to your mom, Sam."

Whatever he had said to her mom, it worked. She wasn't in trouble, her mom just gave her a hug, and even petted Joey on the head. She pressed her face into Sam's hair and whispered, "Just don't do that again, Sam."

Before he left, Uncle George stopped by her room, "How about we make a deal, Samantha?"

"A deal?"

"Yes. A deal. How about, if you promise me not to go out in the dark and away from home again, I'll give you something in return."

"Like what?"

"Anything you want."

Sam thought hard before she decided what she wanted most of all, "A job with you."

Captain George's eyebrows rose, "You want a job with the Air Force?"

"Yes, so I can go and find my daddy." Sam said emphatically. She would find him, she was always finding missing things, like her mom's keys and Mark's shoes. She could surely find her dad if she was only allowed to look for him.

"You really want to join the Air Force?" George had a strange look on his face, "You're a little young."

"How old do I have to be?" Sam shrugged, "I turn six soon."

George looked into her serious face, "You have to be even older than six."

Sam frowned, "How old?"

He laughed, "Tell you what, *I'll* look for your dad if you concentrate on staying home at night, and then I'll give you a job when you're old enough."

"How can I know you'll find daddy?"

"I can't promise anything," he smiled sadly, "But I did find Joey."

Sam looked at him for a long moment then nodded, "Deal."

They shook hands, Uncle George's large hand swamping Sam's tiny one.

Her dad came home just in time to celebrate her birthday, he looked tired and a little skinnier, but he smiled just like she remembered. Sam hugged him tight and pointed to Joey waiting obediently at their feet, wagging his tail in excitement.

"Look how big he is!" Joey was nearly twice the size he had been when she had gotten him.

Jacob knelt down and patted the dog on his head, "He *has* grown. You both have." He regarded her with warm eyes, and smiled, "I'm sorry I was gone for so long."

"That's okay," Sam smiled, "But you still owe Joey a dog house."

Years later, when General Hammond was sorting through personnel files for his new command at Cheyenne mountain, he came across the file of one Captain Samantha Carter. Images flooded his mind of a young blonde girl crying for her dog, and now they merged with the more distant memory of a grown-up, confident woman in green BDUs that he met on a strange transport trip when he'd been a Lieutenant.

He smiled, thinking of a deal made long ago that he could finally keep, "Consider yourself hired, Samantha."

***

The End

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