Warnings: Angst, Adult topics, S/J established
Summary: Unexpected joy can bring grief as well as happiness…
Season: After Ark of Truth, goes AU before S4 of Atlantis and Continuum
Word Count: 13 648
Disclaimer: Not mine, Stargate SG1 belongs to MGM etc…
Author's notes: This was originally going to be my dayofindulgence fic… but it took an angsty turn and I decided on another story idea. Just so happens this one got finished first! Feedback, good or bad, is very much appreciated.
It was a Thursday morning when she found out.
She'd already arrived at the base late, thanks to Jack who had kept her in bed much later than she had planned for. He'd then joined her in the shower, to speed up the process he had claimed, when in fact it had only doubled the amount of time it had taken. He'd been suitably apologetic about her lateness, but the smugness of his grin and the twinkle in his eye as he'd kissed her goodbye belayed his own satisfaction with his delaying tactics.
Either way, she'd been ten minutes late to the briefing room where she was to give a lecture on the latest upgrades to the GDO armband system to the SG team leaders and General Landry. She apologised to the room, steadfastly ignoring Cameron and Reynolds snickering in the corner, and took her place in front of the projection screen.
She'd been just three minutes into explaining the benefits of a smaller GDO armband when black dots appeared in her vision. She stuttered to a halt, not sure whether it was the lack of food, or the general morning rush that was giving her the rather inconvenient head rush. She'd shook her head to clear it, only to find that it only seemed to multiply the black spots; she vaguely heard Cameron call out her name before the floor suddenly seemed to rush up at her at an alarmingly fast pace and she passed out.
She came to almost immediately, the previously joking Cameron and Reynolds crowded over her, the rest of the SG team leaders' heads bobbing over their shoulders as she heard General Landry calling for a medical team.
"Sam!" Cameron sounded relieved when she cracked her eyes open to his worried gaze.
"What happened?" she mumbled, confused as her sluggish brain tried to catch her up with the last few minutes.
"You passed out," Reynolds answered her cautiously, one hand on her shoulder to keep her lying flat and the other at her wrist, fingers pressed to her pulse, "Medics are on the way, just keep still."
"No, I can…" she tried to push up but Cameron simply put his hand down on her other shoulder and the two colonels pressed her firmly down before she could even lift herself an inch off the ground, "Or I'll just stay here."
"Good idea Colonel," Reynolds said firmly.
"Clear out people," Carolyn's voice suddenly filled the room loudly, "Give her some air, we'll take it from here."
Sam kept her eyes firmly shut as she was wheeled smoothly to the infirmary, the quickly moving scenery only exacerbating her dizziness. Carolyn jumped into immediate action, taking her vitals before she drew blood and ordered Sam to go pee in a cup. Carolyn didn't speak much during the impromptu medical, simply asking her questions quickly before disappearing through the door with her file and specimens. Sam was left alone in the private examination room, only her own thoughts to keep her company while she waited for her results.
She was sure it was just the lack of food and the busy morning. Sometimes she forgot to eat or over the course of a few days got caught up with work and just didn't eat enough; it wasn't often she passed out from it, but Jack had spent the entire week with her, and work combined with Jack was a busy mix. She was probably just exhausted from balancing home and work life. She gave one hundred percent to everything, maybe it was time she slowed down a bit at work, take some of her banked up leave and actually spend it with Jack. She loved her work, but she had reached a time in her life when she finally wanted something else besides her machines and equations for company.
She didn't realize she'd dozed off until a light press of lips against her forehead caused her to open her tired eyes. Jack hovered anxiously over her, his hand gripping hers tightly, "Hey there. Mitchell called and said you decided to take a nap in the briefing this morning."
Sam smiled lazily at him, "Yeah, someone wore me out."
Jack's anxious face eased into a small smile, "Everything okay?"
Sam struggled to sit up in the bed and Jack immediately stood up from his stool, rearranging her pillows and using the little remote control to raise the bedhead, "I haven't spoken to Carolyn yet but she didn't seem too concerned. I bet I just get told to eat more and work less."
Jack's hand drifted back down to hers and gripped it again, "You should come to D.C. for a week, I've got a perfectly good couch that needs some company," he said lightly.
"The couch?" She responded teasingly.
"During the day. Bed gets pretty lonely at night though…"
Sam smiled, "Guess I could keep your furniture company for a week or so."
Jack grinned, "I'll have you on a plane by this evening."
She let her eyes drift close as she thought of another week with Jack, this time in D.C. She could rest up during the day while he worked, and expend all her stored up energy welcoming him home in the evening. She was mentally packing her bag and thinking of things she had to do to close up her house when the sound of heels on the concrete floor disturbed her.
Carolyn Lam walked into the room with an unreadable look on her face, clutching a folder in her hands. If she was surprised at the appearance of General O'Neill at Sam's bedside, it didn't show. Instead, the doctor just came to stand on the other side of the bed and looked at her patient directly.
"I have your test results back, Sam," Carolyn's eyes flicked to O'Neill for the first time since she had entered the room and Sam realized she wasn't going to elaborate unless Jack left or she gave the okay for him to stay.
"It's fine Carolyn, just tell me how bad the anaemia is this time," Sam said, her own eyes briefly catching Jack's so Carolyn would go ahead.
"It's not anaemia," Carolyn said bluntly, "You're pregnant Sam."
Sam's mouth dropped open, "Pregnant?"
At her side, Jack had gone white as a sheet. Sam turned to him, seeking out what, she didn't know, but when she looked into his face, she couldn't read his suddenly walled up expression. She felt her stomach drop: she was pregnant? They hadn't discussed kids; hell they hadn't even discussed marriage. She was pregnant?
"Given the levels of HcG in your blood I'd say you're about eight weeks along," Carolyn said gently, "You take birth control shots but they aren't 100% effective; with exposure to alien environments on an almost daily basis, pregnancy can happen."
"But…" Sam couldn't finish her train of thought; although Jack's hand still gripped hers tightly, his blank expression still wasn't giving anything away.
Carolyn seemed to sense the tension, although given the news she had just dropped and the expressions of both Sam and O'Neill, it was hardly difficult to feel the mounting stress.
"Look, I'll give you time to think this over," Carolyn said softly, "Sam, you don't have to stay in the infirmary, you're free to get dressed and join me in my office when you're ready," she paused and looked at Jack, "Both of you."
Carolyn shut the door after her, and for a long five minutes following her departure, neither Sam nor Jack spoke. Sam could feel beads of sweat begin to appear on her upper lip as the full impact of the news settled on her. She would have to leave SG1, maybe not permanently, but she knew without a doubt Lam wouldn't let her be on a frontline team if she was carrying a baby.
Yes, she could likely still work in the labs, but there would be no more missions, no more combat and no more sixteen hour work days. She'd be confined to her lab while pregnant. Once she had the baby… Sam didn't know what would happen. She loved SG1, loved her work, but the sharp memory of Jacob's absence in her own childhood had left a deep impact. She couldn't see herself ever being the kind of distant parent her dad had been. The rift had healed, but it wasn't until years later. If she was going to have this baby and raise it, she would do it the way she would have wanted for herself. No more SG1.
She could imagine working part time for the SGC perhaps, once the baby was a little older. The Ori were no longer a threat and the SGC had become more of a research facility, exploring the galaxy peacefully, rather than the war zone it had been during the days of the Goa'uld and Adria. Not completely hazard free, but a risk she could possibly accept; she did love her work and couldn't imagine her life without it. However, she could kiss any dreams of her own base command goodbye. Most likely she would never reach the high career goals she had set herself, the dream of one day, possibly, commanding the SGC.
Equality may have been agreed upon on paper, but Sam knew any extended absence from her frontline career, and a 'slide backwards' into R&D, was not exactly the command material experience the Air Force would look upon favourably. It was still very much a competitive boys club, despite the massive leaps it had come in recent years.
However, work aside, she couldn't help but think of the other side to the unexpected news. She was pregnant, she was going to get huge, have cravings, go through a painful labour and end up with a child. A little person that would completely rely on her, that would be her full responsibility, a life directly in her hands.
Not just in her hands though, it would be in Jack's hands too. And judging by the still blank look on his face, he was just as ready for this as she was. "Jack," Sam tugged on his hand, trying to keep the panic from her voice and knowing the high tone gave her away, "Say something."
Jack paused, took a deep breath and sat down next to her on the bed, he eyes flicked to hers briefly before settling on the bed, "Something."
"Ha ha," Sam shook her head, "Don't do that, just… tell me what you're thinking."
"I…" Jack swallowed and she could hear the nerves in his voice, "I'm thinking I'm too old to be a dad again."
Sam felt a cold feeling spread through her; she tugged at her hand in his, suddenly not wanting to touch him. "Oh." She was going to have to do this on her own? Jack didn't want kids… did he expect her to have an abortion? The thought repulsed Sam; she couldn't kill this child. Sure she wasn't expecting it, had never really planned on becoming a mom and it was going to put a grinding halt to her career, but she wasn't going to give up probably her only chance to actually have her own baby.
"Sam," Jack didn't let go of her hand, "I'm also thinking how damn wonderful this is. A baby, Sam, our kid."
Sam's head jerked up at the unrestrained happiness now in his voice; his face was suddenly open and she could clearly see the joy in his eyes. A wide grin practically covered half his face and his brown eyes twinkled in an entirely new manner. Sam dove into his arms, holding on tight as he held her close to him.
"Oh thank god," she hugged him tight, "I thought for a second there…" she trailed off, not wanting to say out loud her horrible thought.
"Can't say it wasn't a shock though." Jack shifted her so she was practically sitting on top of him in his lap. She rested her head against his chest and listened to the steady beat of his heart.
"No kidding," Sam said quietly, "I wasn't expecting… we haven't talked about the future… kids."
Jack pressed a calming kiss to her forehead and said evenly, "Details Sam, we can work everything out. Just… we're doing this together, okay?"
"Okay," Sam pressed a kiss to his lips. "Let me get dressed and we can go speak to Carolyn."
Jack stopped her, tightening his arms, "In a minute."
Sam nodded, relaxing into his embrace. She was having a baby, Jack's baby. They were going to be parents. Yes, the details were an issue. Work was going to have be sorted out, they would need to have the serious relationship discussion both of them had been avoiding, and she didn't even want to think too deeply about the impact her unique body chemistry was going to have on this child. But Jack was with her, they were going to face this together. A baby.
Surprisingly enough, she couldn't be happier.
"I've scheduled you for an ultrasound tomorrow morning at the Academy Hospital. Doctor Albany is the OB-GYN that handles all SGC pregnancies, I'll give her a call and brief her on your case."
Sam nodded, taking in everything as Carolyn spoke, feeling a pang of sadness that it wasn't a tiny brunette firecracker delivering the news. Janet would have gotten such a kick out of this.
"Dr Albany will go through the prenatal vitamins and list of dos and don'ts while you're pregnant, but limited gate travel and reduced working hours are non-negotiable, colonel."
Sam grimaced as Jack gave her a knowing look, "I know." It would be a struggle, but she would manage. Jack would make sure she kept to the rules; when he wasn't around she had a feeling her team would be equally as protective.
"I have to mention the risks involved," Carolyn's voice was cautious, "At your age, the chances of miscarriage are high in the first three months."
Sam nodded; she'd been expecting that, "Okay."
"In addition, the medical stresses your body has undergone," Carolyn looked at Jack, "Both your bodies have undergone, may contribute as additional risk factors. We just don't know what effects the protein marker and naquada will have on a developing foetus."
Sam could see Jack's jaw tighten and she avoided looking him in the eye, "Is there anything we can do?"
Carolyn shook her head, "The only thing to do is wait. If you make it past your first three months, the chances of miscarriage will decline; not completely, but the risk does lessen."
One month, in just four weeks she would be into her fourth month if Carolyn's tests were correct, Sam concentrated on that thought. She only needed to get through the next month; four weeks.
"Don't focus on the negatives," Carolyn's voice lightened, "Think positive, enjoy this time. It should be a happy experience, not stressful."
It was Jack who answered, "Happy thoughts, got it." He gave Sam an encouraging smile, "You hear that Carter? Glass is half full."
Sam smiled at him, her voice suddenly husky, "Yeah, okay."
They left the base quickly. Jack fed the rest of SG1 an excuse about exhaustion and anaemia; aside from General Landry and Doctor Lam, the pregnancy was going to be kept secret until Sam reached three months. She held onto that thought; one month, four weeks. She could do it. They could do it.
Jack stopped on the way home and bought deli sandwiches, stuffed full of good quality meat and salad. Sam was famished and she practically swallowed hers whole as soon as they got home. Afterwards, Jack turned on the television to fill the suddenly quiet room, it wasn't a tense silence, but they both had a lot to process and Sam knew Jack always dealt with things better once he'd had his fill of The Simpsons. Sam twisted around on the couch, resting her head in his lap and closing her eyes. Jack's fingers traced lightly on her forehead before stroking a relaxing rhythm through her hair.
"I love you." Jack whispered just as she was nearly asleep.
Sam drifted off, thinking of a little boy with brown eyes and light hair; he'd be smart and fit and perfect. He'd be theirs. One month, four weeks, they could do it.
Sam stared at the small grainy image on the screen, it looked more like a peanut to her than a person, but it was unmistakably there. She was having a baby.
Dr Albany smiled at the slack jawed looks on both Sam and Jack, "I estimate gestational age at approximately eight weeks. It's a little early to hear the sound of the heartbeat but I can show you a rhythm strip on the screen if you'd like?"
Jack nodded enthusiastically, "We'd like that very much."
The fast beating rhythm of their child's heart rate appeared on the screen and Sam wasmesmorised by the quickly moving beats, "It's fast."
"Yes," Dr Albany seemed unconcerned, "Foetal heartbeats are usually higher than average," She pointed to the screen where a faint flickering could be seen in tandem with the beating, "You can just see the slight flickering of the heart chambers."
Sam smiled, tears in her eyes, "It really is there, Jack."
Jack tightened his grip on her hand and bent to press a kiss to her cheek, his own eyes glued to the screen, "Sure is."
They both stared at the screen for a long moment. Sam took the image in and felt a warm fluttering in her chest. They were going to be parents to this little being inside her. She already had done the teenage and young adult thing with Cassandra, but she had never mothered a baby; she'd scarcely held newborn infants and hadn't been close to her brother's children until they reached their later years.
"I'll print some pictures off for you and get you a copy of the video," Dr Albany said, "Why don't you clean up and meet me in my office?"
Sam nodded, tearing her eyes from the screen as the image cut off when the doctor flicked the switch off. Jack helped her off the table and into her clothes and they were soon both seated in Dr Albany's modestly sized office.
"Gestation appears to be progressing normally, no signs of abnormalities or distress," Dr Albany reassured them immediately, "I'd recommend we increase your prenatal check ups just to be sure, I had a lengthy conversation with Dr Lam regarding your unique physiology, Colonel Carter, and will err on the side of caution."
"Do you think it will have an effect on the baby?" Sam asked quietly. Jack had stiffened in his chair, but his breathing remained even; Sam steadfastly ignored his gaze on her, instead focusing on the doctor.
"I just don't know," Dr Albany repeated the words already given to them by Carolyn, "However, in my opinion, the fact that you were able to conceive is a positive sign. I am a firm believer in positive thinking: concentrate on the facts, not what could happen."
Sam nodded, "Okay." Her voice was still unsure though.
"The tests show a normal developing foetus," Dr Albany stated, "There is every possibility this will progress as a problem-free pregnancy."
"But there is a chance it might not," Sam added pessimistically when the doctor finished speaking.
Jack shook his head and spoke softly for the first time since the discussion had begun, "Think positively Sam." His determined voice soothed some of Sam's anxiety, but didn't completely resolve her worry.
"There is the risk of complications, I won't deny that," Dr Albany said evenly, "But we can plan for the ones we can hopefully prevent. Watch your nutritional intake, get enough rest and limit your exposure to hazardous environments."
"We are sorting out Sam's work situation this afternoon," Jack volunteered, "I'll make sure she eats and rests." His face was determined, "Everything that we can do, we will."
"Excellent, a good support system will go a long way," Dr Albany smiled at Sam, "You've picked a good one there."
Sam gave Jack a tremulous smile, still feeling the weight of carrying such a precious gift inside her but knowing he would be with her every step of the way, "I sure did."
Sam lay on the bed in Jack's arms, staring at the printout of images of the ultrasound that Jack held above them.
"Maybe we should stick them to the ceiling," Jack suggested jokingly, "And to the fridge, and above the television and on the front door and on the car windshields."
"I think it might be a little dangerous to have them on the cars Jack," Sam laughed, "I could look at them all day though."
Jack passed her the photos and shifted down on the bed until his head was level with Sam's stomach. He pulled up her shirt and put a tender kiss on her belly, "Listen up kid, you stay in there'till we give you the all clear to come out."
Sam closed her eyes at Jack's tender tone. He rested his forehead lightly against her side and Sam reached a hand up and let her fingers stroke through his hair, "I'm not sure he's old enough to understand you."
"She has a super genius for a mom and an advanced specimen for a dad… she'll be solving world hunger at the age of two, Carter."
Sam chuckled, "I think that might be a little bit much pressure for a toddler, Jack."
"Perhaps," Jack shrugged, he propped himself up on his elbows to peer at her still-flat stomach, "But boy or girl, this kid is going to be brilliant."
Sam nodded, "Naturally."
"I have to go back to D.C. tomorrow," Jack said bleakly, the sudden change of tone throwing Sam a bit. She recovered and continued running her fingers through his hair as he stared at her belly.
"I know," Sam said gently, "I'll be fine."
"You know I'm going to put a rush on my retirement date," Jack poked at her stomach lightly, "I'm not missing this, no matter what job perks I'm getting."
"Are you sure?" Sam asked: Jack was due to retire in eight months, "With any luck your retirement would coincide with the baby's birthday."
"As good as our luck has been in the past," Jack shook his head, "I want to spend as much time as I can seeing you get fat, feeding you strange food and buying a completely unnecessary amount of baby stuff."
Sam laughed, "I guess I wouldn't mind having you hang around to cater to my every pregnancy-induced whim."
Jack pressed another kiss to her belly before sliding up the bed so he was level with her face, "Retiring early has other perks too."
"Oh?" Sam asked lightly, not knowing what he meant.
"Yeah, I figure since you're having my baby and all, maybe we should make this official," Jack said, his voice soft but serious.
Sam's heart skipped a beat as she fought to catch up, "Do you mean..."
"White dress, big cake and an expensive reception," Jack said casually, but the depth in his eyes gave away the emotion behind the light words.
"Jack." Sam could barely catch her breath, "Spell it out for me."
"Will you marry me?" Jack asked instantly, a wide grin across his face.
Sam wanted to answer, but something held her back, despite the sheer happiness that was coursing through her body, "Do you only want to get married for the baby?"
Jack took her face in his hands and locked his gaze on hers, "I love you, Sam; baby or no baby. I was going to ask as soon as I returned my uniform."
Although their relationship wasn't illegal, neither of them felt comfortable advertising it widely while they were both still in the military. Too many years of prying eyes and nosy gossip meant it was kept mostly to their own small circle of friends and the top brass who had agreed that any fraternization was acceptable, providing O'Neill no longer had any say in her career.
"I…" Sam still found herself hesitating, she wanted so badly to say yes, but, "We've never talked about marriage."
Jack was starting to look worried, "Do you not want this?"
"No, I do," Sam winced at her choice of words, "It's just… I guess maybe… I imagined it differently."
"You wanted a nice meal, a tux and a diamond ring?" Jack asked disbelievingly and Sam shook her head, that wasn't exactly her style.
"No," she replied quickly, "I don't know what I was imagining."
Jack kissed her gently, "If you're not ready, Sam, that's okay."
Sam dropped her eyes, confused at her own conflicted feelings. On one hand she was thrilled; marriage and a child with Jack. A family. On the other, she already had two failed engagements, she didn't think she could handle it if this one ended badly as well.
"I've been engaged before. Twice. Neither time ended prettily," Sam said quietly, keeping her eyes firmly on her own shirt.
"Sam," Jack still had a firm grip of her chin and he waited until she looked him in the eyes before he spoke, "I don't care whether we get married, but like it or not, you're stuck with me, for life."
Sam felt tears prick her eyes, "Why'd you ask me then?"
"I thought that's what girls wanted… a wedding to match the brand new baby." Jack shrugged, looking sheepish, "Not that I don't want to be married, but… it's not an ultimatum."
Sam felt stupid for her small freakout, although she could always blame it on the hormones. She loved Jack, she'd dreamed of this moment for years; he loved her too. Why couldn't she have her fairytale? So what if it was a little out of order, it definitely wasn't their style to be conventional. "A short engagement; three months. And just a registry wedding, nothing big."
"Spell it out for me Sam," Jack said softly.
"Yes," Sam said firmly, "I will marry you."
Jack pulled her close and kissed her with almost bruising force. When they parted, Jack rested his forehead against hers, "Had me worried for a moment there, Carter."
Sam chuckled, "Blame it on the hormones."
"You really don't want a big white wedding?"
"I really don't, conventional wedding stuff isn't what I want," but then Sam added quickly, "Unless you do?"
"The only thing I'll miss will be the cake."
"We can have cake," Sam said with a smile, "Dinner, at our place, with the rest of the guys, afterwards."
"Sounds like a plan," Jack said and he pressed another kiss to her lips, "You'll be Mrs O'Neill."
"Nu uh," Sam said giggling, "You'll be Mr Carter."
Sam made it home by 1630, as was agreed in her new work roster. She was to work a five day week, with a solid two days off. Any high risk, potentially damaging experiments were transferred to Doctor Lee and she was reassigned to the labs from her position on SG1. It was a bittersweet feeling; she loved the team, but over the past few weeks she had settled into the idea of having this baby, of being a mom. Of starting a new phase of her life; the team had been her life for ten years and she had been wanting something else without even realizing what it was until she'd discovered the pregnancy. The sadness of missing out on missions was tempered by the gift she would receive in roughly six months time.
She suspected the rest of the team knew exactly the reason for her sudden 'medical' need for time off from SG1, but they never said anything to hint that they were aware. However, the way Teal'c ensured she ate a full meal for lunch and Daniel stopped by at least three times in the morning to ply her with cookies and milk suggested that they suspected a baby was on the way.
It had been three weeks since they had found out about the pregnancy and she had clung to the date a week away that would mean she had reached the second trimester milestone. It was also an important date for Jack, who would officially be retired and fly back to Colorado Springs to live permanently. They had a date booked a couple of months later at the registry for their marriage to be made official, although they had yet to tell their friends of that particular decision either.
Sam had just made it through the door to her home when the phone rang. Dropping her briefcase on the couch, she rolled her eyes and picked it up, "I haven't been home late once in three weeks, at least give me a chance to change out of my BDUs before you call."
"Hello to you too," Jack's amused voice answered her, "I'll be more than happy to wait and listen on the phone as you get naked."
Sam snorted as she carried the cordless phone into her bedroom, "Change my clothes, not get naked, and how will listening on the phone do anything for you."
"Rustling clothes sparks my overactive imagination."
"I see," Sam pressed the speakerphone button as she got to her bedroom, throwing the phone to the bed, "Can you hear this alright then?"
Sam pulled her shirt off, taking care to rustle the fabric loudly.
"Oh yeah baby," Jack chuckled, "Just like that."
Sam pulled the rest of her clothes off and changed into comfortable sweat pants and a loose shirt, then frowned as the pants' waistband dug into her belly slightly. "My pants don't fit properly," she said indignantly.
"Is there a bump?" Jack's voice sounded excited for an entirely different reason, now.
Sam pulled up her shirt and lowered her pants, going to stand in front of the mirror; she stroked soft fingers against the slight swell of her belly, "Yeah, a small one." Her voice was hushed in amazement.
There was a long silence and Sam continued to stroke her fingers against her belly, a small smile on her face.
"Carter?" Jack's voice called from the handset, his voice sounding soft and happy.
"Sorry, still here." Sam righted her clothes and grabbed the phone, switching it back to its normal setting and curling comfortably on the bed, "How was your week?"
"More meetings and handover of duty crap," Jack sounded tired, "Boring stuff. One more week of this dress uniform and then I swear I'm never getting out of my sweats."
Sam laughed, "I hope you wear something a little more classy than sweats for our wedding, Jack."
"I'll consider it," Jack said, "Perhaps if you agree to wear that little red number I'll put something more appealing on."
"Jack, I'll have enough of a bump that I won't be wearing anything as tight-fitting as that red dress."
"Low-cut then?" Jack asked hopefully.
"We'll see," Sam appeased, then changed the subject, "I have my next ultrasound appointment the day after you get back to the Springs."
"I know," Jack said softly, "One week Sam."
"One week," Sam closed her eyes and focused on taking a deep breath, "Do you want to know the sex of the baby?"
"Do you?" Jack asked.
"No fair, I asked first." Sam argued.
"I don't mind either way," Jack said truthfully, "I'm painting the room air force blue no matter what gender the baby is."
Sam laughed, then lowered her voice, "I kind of want to know."
"Okay," Jack agreed, "Whatever you want, Carter."
"It'd help to narrow names down," Sam said, "Have you made a list yet?"
They had decided the week before that they would each choose three names for a boy and three for a girl. Sam had already nixed the idea of naming the baby after Jacob; she didn't want to look at her baby's face and see her dead father. Jack had agreed and Sam knew he was thinking of Charlie.
"Yep, was kinda hard to narrow it down."
"No Simpsons names or naming after famous hockey players," Sam reminded him of the rules.
"I know. Nothing from the periodic table, a famous geek namesake or more than four syllables long either, remember?"
Sam smiled, "I kept my side."
"All right, lets hear your names, girls first."
Sam reached over to the nightstand and pulled out her notebook, "The first name I liked is Ashleigh."
She could hear Jack make an agreeable noise and she continued, "Then Ruby."
"No way I'm naming my kid Ruby," Jack said firmly.
"It's pretty!" Sheprotested.
"No." Jack didn't elaborate and Sam sighed and scratched it off her list.
"Last name I saw that I liked was Leah."
Again Jack made an agreeable noise, then he started on his list, "Number One is Amy."
"Mmm," Sam was noncommittal, she didn't love it, but didn't hate it.
"No name who's shortened version can be unisex," she said firmly, her own name was exactly that, and although not a horrible curse, it was one that as a gawky teenager she had hated.
"It's perfect," Jack argued, "She'll be a little tom boy during the day and we'll stuff her in a pink dress at night."
"Jack," Sam said sternly and he moved on.
Sam frowned, "Did you not read past the letter A in the baby book?"
Jack was silent for a moment, "I might require a little more time."
Sam chuckled, "Okay. I'll give you another week to come up with three names beginning with B."
"I did find a boy's name I liked," Jack said softly and this time Sam could hear that he meant it.
"All right lets hear it."
"It still starts with A but that's not its appeal," Jack said.
"Jack." Sam let exasperation fill in her tone.
"Adam. It means 'Of the Earth.'" Jack's voice was gentle, "Kind of fitting, don't you think?"
Adam. The name was perfect; they spent so much time travelling to other worlds, but the one they always fought to save and return to, was home, Earth. "I love it." Sam whispered.
"I guess you're wondering why we brought you all here today," Jack announced loudly to the small gathering in their backyard. Sam had reached her third month two days earlier, and Jack had arrived on her doorstep that very same evening. They'd decided to wait a couple of days before holding the small impromptu announcement BBQ with only the members of SG1 in attendance, "We have news."
"Really?" Daniel said, rolling his eyes.
"Yes Daniel, really," Jack tugged Sam closer to his side, "We're pregnant!"
Surprisingly, it was Teal'c who reached the beaming couple first, he put his large arms around both Sam and Jack and pulled them to his chest, "Congratulations."
Jack chuckled as the big Jaffa pulled away, "Not finished yet."
"Don't tell me it's twins," Daniel sounded cautious, "We kinda guessed on the pregnancy thing."
"Obviously, Daniel," It was Jack's turn to roll his eyes, "But no it's not twins." He nudged Sam to deliver their second announcement.
She laughed, "We're getting married."
Again Teal'c stepped forward and embraced the couple in a warm hug. Cameron and Vala followed quickly while Daniel hung back slightly until the hub bub died down. He waited and pulled Sam close, hugging her tightly, "I'm so happy for you, Sam," he pulled away and whispered softly so only she could hear, "You are happy right?"
Trust Daniel to make sure this was what she wanted, Sam thought, he knew her career meant the world to her, and that a baby would slow it down tenfold, but she was completely and utterly thrilled, "I am Daniel," Sam whispered back, "More than I ever thought I could ever be."
When Daniel pulled back they both had tears in their eyes, "Good." He pressed a kiss to her damp cheek and turned to Jack who had a mock frown on his face.
"It's kind of rude of the best man to steal the bride, Daniel," Jack clapped Daniel on the back as the other man's face went slack-jawed.
"Best man?" His voice was awed.
"Can you really see T giving a speech? He'd go on for hours; kind of figured you were a safer bet."
Daniel laughed, "I accept if that's your weird way of asking."
"Excellent," Jack mimicked Mr Burns, "Wedding date is October 25th, just a registry thing then a small party here."
"You aren't going to have a big wedding?" Vala's face dropped, "You mean no big party like they have in the movies?"
"No big party," Sam said firmly, "Just us, small and quiet."
Vala huffed, "Don't think this gets you out of dress shopping, I'll make sure you look fabulous for your wedding day, big party or no big party."
Cameron suddenly disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared with a bottle of champagne and glasses. Teal'c followed him, bringing back a small bottle of juice.
"We prepared for an announcement," Cameron said, happily popping open the bottle, "Juice of course for the pregnant one."
They raised their glasses in a toast as Daniel spoke, "To a happy, loving, lasting marriage and a beautiful baby."
Sam clinked her glass with the others and sipped the juice, holding back more tears, Jack's warm arms around her, their baby still growing within her and their friends by their side; she couldn't be happier.
"Look Jack," Sam held up a small teddy bear dressed in an Air Force uniform, "Isn't this just gorgeous?"
They had spent the last two hours trawling through the largest baby store in Colorado Springs and Jack was starting to feel the tiredness that only shopping with an excited pregnant lady could cause, "Yeah, cute."
Sam patted him on the cheek, "We just have to pick out a cot and then we can go." She put the teddy back down and they walked hand in hand over to the large selection of cots.
Sam had had her latest ultrasound the day before and although it had shown normal development, the doctor had been unable to determine the sex of the baby. Sam didn't mind, she was just happy everything was as it should be. Dr Albany had suggested having an amniocentesis, to gather more information as to the baby's health, given Sam's medical history, but they had declined. Putting a big needle into her belly was not something Sam was prepared to do despite the advanced procedure's relative safety. Peace of mind be damned, there was still a risk; she was more than happy to proceed with the pregnancy without the test.
Jack had agreed with her. They were both clinging to the success of reaching the second trimester. Dr Albany had given them the stats on down syndrome and other genetic disorders, but as worrying as they were, Sam knew that even if something was wrong they would never be able to abort this child. Jack had already taken to reading the baby books at night when they were in bed.
When she would arrive home from work, she would find that Jack had somehow procured another child's storybook. She suspected he spent his days alternatively browsing for strange and new storybooks to read while he did the normal day to day things his life now entailed. He spent most of his retirement time fixing up the various little quirks her small house had developed over the years; namely the dodgy pipes and the mess that her backyard had become. However, he still managed to help out coaching the local junior hockey team from Cassie's old primary school and make time to visit Sam on base and fuss over her or annoy Daniel in his office.
They hadn't bought much, despite the long time they had spent browsing through the large store. Jack had suggested they only buy the big items; their friends would surely populate their house with enough teddy bears and onesies for ten babies so Sam agreed that perhaps just getting the furnishings would be a smarter decision.
They browsed through the selection, Sam frowning at the modern-looking cots with their tacky, bright colours designed more for look than functionality. Soon they passed through the more traditional cots and she stopped by a large wooden one; it looked sturdy and big, with a matching changing table. Sam pressed her hand in Jack's and stroked the other down the soft mattress, "This is perfect."
Jack turned to the eager-looking sales assistant who had been following them around like a little puppy and handed her his credit card, "We'll take it."
Sam groaned, feeling the press of nausea as she woke. She'd barely had any morning sickness in her first trimester, yet as she entered her fourteenth week she'd suddenly found herself surviving on a diet of crackers and warm tea before 0900.
Crackers suddenly appeared under her nose and she heard the sound of a mug being placed softly on her bedside table, "Morning." Jack's voice was warm, "Maybe you should take today off."
"No, I have to give a briefing on the latest dialing protocol updates to General Landry," Sam said, accepting the crackers and nibbling on them slightly, "I'll do that first thing and see how I go."
"Come home if you need to," Jack sat down on the bed next to her, "Call me when you get to the SGC."
Sam rolled her eyes, "I will, like I do every day."
Jack grinned, "You know how I worry."
"I know," Sam muttered, "Daniel and Teal'c barely leave my side, these days."
Jack shrugged, a suspiciously innocent look on his face, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Later, as Sam was standing in front of General Landry, and Colonels Reynolds and Mitchell, the two secondary officers of the SGC, she felt the first hints that something wasn't quite right.
Her body was sweating, despite the coolness of the SGC air conditioning, and the nausea had returned despite it being well past 0900. She stopped mid-speech, apologising as she poured herself a glass of water, then frowned as her hand shook.
"Colonel?" General Landry's voice was concerned, "Perhaps you should take a break."
"I…" Sam was about to agree when a sharp pain lanced through her lower belly. She gasped in surprise, dropping the glass to the table. She bent forward, pressing her hands into the now wet surface of the briefing room table as the pains increased, "Oh God."
"Sam?" Cameron's hand clenched tightly around her arm, "What's wrong?"
She heard General Landry call for immediate medical assistance and breathed deeply as the pain continued to lance sharply through her belly. To her horror she felt warmth flood her pants; she looked down and felt waves of dizziness when she saw the red stain on her pants. "No," she moaned as her body sagged. Strong arms eased her down and she grabbed hold of the supporting bodies, "Please. My baby."
Colonel Reynolds pressed a cool hand to her cheek, "Just hold on Sam."
Then she blacked out.
Jack was by her bedside when she woke, feeling groggy and sore. She moaned and Jack leapt up from where he sat slumped over in the chair next to her bed, picking up her hand and kissing it softly. She could read the utter bleakness in his eyes and Sam felt as it her heart stopped beating.
Jack swallowed hard and shook his head, "I'm sorry Sam."
She closed her eyes and felt the thickness of tears press against her throat, she dropped her head back down to the pillow as the sobs tore free of her chest, "No," she moaned weakly, "I did everything right. No."
Jack hugged her tentatively, putting his arms awkwardly around her body on the infirmary bed, "It wasn't anything you did, Sam, it happens."
"It shouldn't have happened," Sam said angrily, pulling away from his touch and swiping roughly at the tears on her face, "I want to see Carolyn."
Jack pressed the call button, not making a move to touch her; her tense posture screamed 'stay away'.
Carolyn appeared quickly, a solemn look on her face, "Sam," she greeted her softly, "I'm very sorry."
"Why?" Sam asked stiffly, "Why did I lose my baby?"
Carolyn shook her head, "Initial examinations of the foetus have showed nothing to suggest a genetic cause. We don't always know why miscarriages occur Sam, they are uncommon this late into the pregnancy but they do happen. I'm very sorry it happened to you."
"Examination of the…" Sam's voice held barely restrained anger.
"I gave permission Sam." Jack touched her briefly on the wrist, "The remains will be cremated."
Carolyn voice was soothing as she added, "It's normal procedure Sam."
Sam dropped back down to the bed, the rush of anger had pushed the tears back for a moment but now the utter despair and coldness was back, pressing her body into the mattress, making it hard for her to breathe. She vaguely heard the soft click of heels as Carolyn left the room as she curled up onto her side away from Jack, buried her face in her pillow and sobbed.
Jack's hand hesitantly pressed against her shoulder; he didn't move away even when she didn't do anything to acknowledge his presence.
All she could concentrate on was the sudden emptiness inside her and the grief that overwhelmed her entire body.
Jack drove her home in silence, she was allowed to come home the same day but Sam didn't care. What did it matter where she spent the night? Her baby was still gone.
She crawled into bed as soon as they got home, pulling on her nightclothes and the warm covers over her body, then burying her face again in the pillow. She felt Jack settle beside her, not speaking as she shuddered as the tears overwhelmed her. She didn't know how long they lay there, not touching, before there was a knock at the front door. Jack got up and she heard murmured voices in the hallway before Jack returned to the room. This time he came around her side of the bed; Sam heard his knees crack as he knelt down and touched her hair lightly.
"Daniel's going to stay with you for a bit," Jack said, "I'm going out, I won't be long."
Sam nodded into her pillow, she felt Jack lean over her, like he usually did to press a kiss to her head, but he paused and pulled away, leaving the room as silently as he had entered it.
Daniel called softly through her closed door, not long after Jack had left, "I'll be in the living room if you need anything." Then his soft footsteps padded back down the hallway.
Sam rolled over onto her back, wiping away the tears from her damp cheeks and taking a long slow breath. The need to cry seemed to be fading, instead it was replaced with a cold numbness that she found much more disturbing. She'd rather feel the sharp pain of grief than the horrible nothingness that had settled inside her.
She thought of Jack, how she couldn't even look into his face, offer him any comfort as her own distress was so overwhelming. She wondered where he had gone, he rarely left her side when she was ill usually. A sudden horrifying thought occurred to her; did he blame her? Is that why he had gone away? She covered her face with her hands, fighting to keep her breathing even as the nothingness was replaced by strong waves of guilt. She had failed to carry his child, it was her fault. He must blame her, just as she blamed herself.
Sam had fallen asleep by the time Jack crawled back into bed beside her. She cracked her eyes open and stared at his drawn, exhausted face. She forced the words out of her mouth, wincing at the hoarse weakness of her voice, "I'm sorry."
Jack shook his head, reaching out a hand and stroking her cheek gently, "Don't be sorry, it wasn't your fault."
"It was my fault," Sam swallowed against more tears, "I lost our baby."
Jack pulled her into his chest, "It wasn't your fault."
"I lost our baby," Sam sobbed into his chest, clutching him closer as her tears wet his shirt, "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault." Jack pressed soft kisses to her head, repeating the words until she drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
Sam's eyes felt gritty when she woke the next day, wrapped warmly in Jack's arms. The grief was still ever-present in her chest, a solid weight that made it difficult to swallow, but it wasn't as overwhelming as it had been the previous day. She breathed deeply, listening to the steady thrum of Jack's heartbeat, remembering his whispered words as she'd fallen asleep, "It's not your fault."
She wanted to believe him but the feelings of guilt still swelled through her mind; she suddenly didn't want to lay in Jack's arms as though everything was okay when in reality it felt as if her life was being torn apart. She slid stealthily out of his hold and disappeared into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later she crept past a still-sleeping Jack, in her uniform, intending to head into work and the relative sanctuary of her lab.
At 0600, the base was relatively quiet. She swiped her card into the door by her lab and jumped when she spotted a figure placing something on her lab bench.
"Shit," Colonel Reynolds swore softly as he turned and caught sight of her startled expression, "Sorry Sam, I was just dropping these off."
Sam focused on the vase of flowers on her bench and the card that leant against it, the brightness of the flowers seemed too stark a contrast to her bleak mood but she forced a weak smile on her face, "Thank you."
Reynolds scuffed his foot on the floor, "I'm sorry, figured you'd get right back to work so I thought maybe some flowers would be a nice idea."
She nodded, "They were… are. Thank you."
Reynolds moved past her as he made to leave the room, "It's okay to take some time off," he said softly, "Spend it at home."
Sam shook her head, "I need to work." She hoped he couldn't hear the desperation in her voice.
"Alright," the other colonel said gently, "But go home sometime today."
He disappeared through the door and Sam blinked back tears. Home wasn't what she needed. She needed work, maths, science, her gadgets and experiments. Business as usual, work, work, work, it was the only way she knew how to deal.
Three hours later Sam carried a stack of completed experiment reports in her hand as she made her way to General Landry's office. She avoided people's sympathetic gazes as she walked up the stairs to the briefing room. Just as she entered the empty room, she froze. Her eyes locked on the oak table that she had leant against in agony only the day before. She remembered the lancing pain, the wetness of blood against her thighs and the horrible knowing feeling that she was losing her baby.
Sam spun around, hurrying down the stairs and practically running back to the elevators. She made it to her lab before the tears returned, choking her and making it difficult to breathe. She slid onto the floor on the other side of her lab desk, bending her knees and dropping her face onto her folded arms as she cried.
Suddenly strong warm arms gathered her close and she smelt the familiar scent of incense as Teal'c pulled her to his chest and engulfed her in his warm embrace. She clutched him tightly, holding him close until the tears stopped. He didn't say anything as she pulled away and straightened, opening her eyes to see that Daniel sat on the cold floor opposite her, a look of grief in his own blue eyes.
He held out his hand and Sam grasped it tightly, "I'm sorry Sam."
She nodded, and said quietly, "I want to go home, I want to see Jack." Work wasn't working, she could finish as many outstanding reports as she wanted but it wasn't going to take away the pain. She wanted Jack, the only other person who could truly understand.
Daniel squeezed her hand, "I'll take you home."
Daniel offered to come inside as he pulled up to her small home but Sam shook her head, "It's fine, thanks for driving me home."
"Anytime," He paused then said quietly, "Talk to him Sam, don't shut Jack out. Don't let him do the same."
She nodded, taking a deep breath and getting out of the car. She opened the door to their home and walked inside and saw Jack in the kitchen with his back to her and one hand to the phone at his ear as he spoke softly.
"Thanks again Sara."
"Sara?" Sam said loudly, Jack spun around at her angry tone.
"Have to go," Jack hung up and nodded at Sam, "Yeah Sara."
"Why were you talking to Sara?" Sam snapped, the desire to see Jack and talk to him had disappeared, replaced with an all-consuming anger. She'd lost his baby and the first thing he did was turn to his ex-wife, "No, you know what, I don't want to know," she snapped again.
She dumped her bag on the floor as Jack stepped forward with his hands up, placating her, "I can explain."
"No," Sam pulled away as he reached for her, "Leave me the hell alone."
She stormed off, heading for the spare room, she didn't even want to see the bed they shared. She had just gotten her hand on the door when Jack called out to her, "Sam no!"
She ignored him, opening the door and stopping in shock at what she saw. The single bed was gone, the room empty of the old furniture. In its place was the cot and matching changing table they had bought together the week before, the small Air Force teddy bear resting inside the cot.
She stood, frozen in the doorway, feeling the heat of Jack's body as he stepped behind her and stopped, "I didn't want you to see that," he said softly.
"When?" Sam stuttered, "When did you do this?"
"Yesterday morning, before…" he trailed off, "The boxes came just after you left, I thought I'd set it up to surprise you."
Sam spun around and hugged him tightly, "Oh god Jack."
He held her closely and pressed his face to hers and Sam felt the wetness of tears that weren't her own, opening her eyes to see Jack's grief. She pressed a soft kiss to his lips and tightened her arms around him as they grieved together for the baby who would never lie in that perfect wooden cot.
"I really do have an explanation for calling Sara," Jack said later as they both sat curled up together on the couch. Sam stiffened in his arms but he just held her even closer, "Sara had a miscarriage when Charlie was five. It was the beginning of the end of our marriage," Jack said softly.
Sam glanced into Jack's face, startled. He rarely talked about his previous marriage and child. She'd seen the pictures he had added to her own collection when he'd moved in, but he hadn't commented on them, so neither had she.
"I started taking more and more black ops missions; she didn't seem to even care. If it wasn't for Charlie, we would have split up," Jack sounded sad, and Sam shifted closer to him.
"Eventually though, we… got better. Not the way it was before, but for Charlie we stayed together. I didn't want to make the same mistakes twice. She told me some things that might help."
"Like what?" Sam said, her anger at the phone call had faded at the sincerety in his tone.
Jack pressed a kiss to her hair, "I asked what I did wrong last time… the hiding, the distance. Last night, in bed, as much as I needed to hold you, all I wanted to do was leave and just… be alone. When you left for work this morning I should have stopped you, I was awake but I let you go because in some way I wanted you to go."
"Oh." Sam's voice sounded small.
Jack hurried on, "Not because I blame you, but because… grieving," he said the word with difficulty, "Is not something I'm used to sharing. I shut Sara out when she needed me, it nearly destroyed my marriage the first time. With Charlie… it did destroy it."
Sam nodded, "Okay, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have gotten angry like that."
"Shhh," Jack hushed her, "Stop saying sorry."
"It wasn't your fault," Jack said firmly, "You're smart Sam, you know it wasn't your fault. Believe me for once, okay?"
Sam felt a small part of the guilt detach itself at the genuine tone in Jack's voice, she nodded slightly and Jack sighed in relief.
"I think you should take some time off," Jack continued, his voice soft but determined, "This isn't going to just go away, work isn't the answer."
Sam agreed, willing for Jack to take the lead; she was floundering, barely keeping her head above water. Maybe Jack could guide her through the waves of grief. They could get through this together, "Okay."
Jack let out a relieved sigh, "One day at a time Sam."
A week passed. Sam felt the grief slowly fade; not completely, but its heavy weight lightened and she started back at work, mornings only. Taking things slowly as both herself and Jack spent time in each other's company; sitting comfortably, watching a movie or a game on the television. They didn't speak much, Sam didn't really feel like she needed to, but his closeness was more soothing to her than anything he could have said. She hoped he was gaining the same comfort from her own presence. He seemed to be following through on his resolve not to shut her out. She could sense sometimes his need for solitude when her own tears and grief broke through, yet despite his obvious discomfort, he stayed and was even starting to drop the blank, walled up expression he wore whenever the memory of the loss hit home.
She hadn't broached the subject of Charlie with him, she didn't want to compound his grief any further. She was struggling with the loss of a baby she had yet to meet, she hadn't even felt the baby move, yet the grief was at times all consuming. Like nothing she had felt before. It was different to the grief of losing her dad, and her mom all those years ago; she couldn't give words to the difference, but nothing could have prepared for the feeling of emptiness inside her. She couldn't even begin to imagine what Jack had gone through when Charlie had died; he had loved and known his son for years before he had lost him cruelly.
Sam was sure Charlie's death had taken a large part of Jack with it, yet he had gotten past the grief, moved on with his life. He had never forgotten, never completely stopped blaming himself, but he had learned to live with it. If Jack could get through it, she was determined to do the same.
Sam pulled on her running shoes on Saturday morning, determined to ease herself back into her usual fitness routine now that the physical effects of the miscarriage were easing away. She gave a still-sleepy Jack a quick kiss goodbye, then headed out on her usual route through the park across her home.
She set an even, steady pace, letting the cool morning air and fresh smell of the grass push through her as she jogged by. She rounded a corner, passing the nearly empty playground which was usually filled with children. She slowed, watching as a young mother pulled a rugged up toddler out of his pram and set him on the grass. He stumbled on the uneven surface, giggling as his bum hit the ground lightly.
His happy face made Sam pause, and she felt the grief return in force. Ignoring the image of her own baby, with brown eyes and light hair that forced itself into her mind, she started running, at a much faster pace. Running, faster still, until the images faded and she thought of nothing but the burn in her lungs and the painful stretch in her thighs.
She stumbled through the door home, rushing past a concerned Jack, who was still lying in bed. She jumped into the shower, holding onto the tears, until the shower was running full blast, its hot water stinging her chilled, sweat-soaked skin. She sobbed into the spray, letting the water wash away her tears.
The shower curtain pulled aside and Jack slipped inside, still in his boxers and t-shirt, and gathered her into his arms, holding her close and getting drenched in the process. Sam pressed her face to his dampening shirt and just let herself cry. After a little while, the tears abated and she shifted so Jack could pull his wet clothes off and toss them to the floor. He pulled her back into his arms, both still standing under the warm spray. He reached for Sam's bottle of jasmine shower gel and massaged the sweet smelling soap into her skin. Sam groaned as his fingers eased her tense muscles and kissed her wet cheek.
"Yeah," Sam murmured, "I saw… I saw a toddler with his mom in the park. I guess, I just…"
She stopped, trying to block the images of her own baby out of her mind. How she wanted that to be her, laughing as her own child struggled to get his feet underneath him.
Jack ran his hands down her arms as she shook, "It's okay to feel sad," he paused, "Jealous even."
"It's not fair," Sam whispered.
"I know," Jack said, "But don't run away from it Sam."
They stayed in the shower, holding each other until the water went cold.
Sam's only morning meeting ended early so she left work and made it home just before twelve. Opening the front door, she frowned when the house greeted her with silence. She knew Jack was home, his car was in the driveway and his running shoes in the hall, yet whenever he was home he always had some kind of noise running in the background. Either the television would be going or he'd have his favourite opera CD softly filling the air with its deep tunes.
Yet today, only silence met her call when she entered the living room, "Jack?"
She dropped her bag on the couch, heading to the back door. A quick glance showed that the backyard was quiet and empty. As was the kitchen and it seemed the rest of the house was too as she moved from room to room. She stopped finally at the spare bedroom; the door was closed and Sam listened for the sound of movement behind the door. She hadn't entered the room since the day after her miscarriage; the memory of the assembled cot and tiny Air Force teddy tore at her stomach. She hadn't been able to face the image of what she could have had. She wasn't sure if Jack had moved the furniture out when she'd been at work and she hadn't asked.
She could hear the faint sound of rustling through the door, Jack was in what should have been the baby's room. Reminding herself of the strength Jack had shown her, and her desire to be there for him in the same steadfast way, Sam opened the door.
Jack sat on the floor against the wall, knees bent slighty, a soft, worn-looking bunny in his hands, the newer Air Force teddy resting against the wall next to him. The cot and change table had been disassembled and half put away into the boxes they had arrived in. He'd obviously spent the morning trying to put away the last reminders of what they had lost.
"Jack?" Sam called his name softly, moving to his side and sliding down the wall next to him. She placed a hand on his arm, "You okay?"
He took a while to answer her, his hands gripping the soft toy in his hands tightly, his eyes focused on the worn bunny, "Yeah." His voice was gravely.
"What is that?" Sam asked gently, pointing at the bunny, though she had a vague idea who the old toy must have belonged to.
"It was Charlies," Jack said painfully, squeezing the toy tighter, "Gift from the guys in my squad when he was born. Was his favourite toy, wouldn't go to sleep without it."
Sam smiled, "It looks like it got a lot of use." The yellow bunny had faded in colour and was missing a button for an eye. The whiskers stitched onto his face were missing bits of thread and Sam suspected that a fluffy tail had once existed where now only a rough white circle occupied the space on the bunny's backside.
"Yeah," Jack smiled, the pain still present but his eyes not as heavy, "Called it Mobi. Took the darn thing everywhere. Wouldn't even let us wash it."
Sam reached past him and picked up the Air Force teddy bear, the softness of its fur smoothing out against her worn hands, "Every kid has their favourite toy. Mine was a little toy dog, I called it Stoofy." Stoofy had survived six long years before being lost in one of their many moves. She'd cried for nearly three days straight until her dad had taken her to an air show; she'd watched excited as the planes performed stunts overhead and forgotten, at least for a little while, her favourite little blue dog.
"Timmy the snake, got him when I was two," Jack lessened the grip on the bunny, "Was a long ropey soft toy. I used to have great fun swinging it around and smacking the neighbourhood kids, until one day it swung out of my hands and got stuck in a tree. I climbed up to get it and got stuck… mom was furious, dad thought it was hilarious."
Sam laughed and shifted closer to him, hugging the bear to her chest. They sat in silence for a long time. She didn't press him to talk, she just rested against him, stroking the fake medals on the teddy bear's uniform.
"I was packing away the stuff and I forgot I put Mobi in here," Jack spoke quietly, "I… was going to give it to the baby."
Sam nodded, her eyes watching Jack's face as he swallowed his grief. He had been so strong for her, not letting too much show; he must have been hurting too, the loss of another child must have been a heavy blow to him, despite the strength he projected for Sam's sake, "That would have been nice, a memory of a big brother."
"Charlie would have loved a sibling," Jack said sadly, "Guess it wasn't meant to be."
"No," Sam swallowed, hard, "I'm sorry you had to lose another child, losing Charlie must have been… and now another miscarriage, it's not fair, for either of us."
Jack shifted the toy to one hand and looped his arm around her, pulling her close, "Not your fault," he murmured, "It's not fair, but I guess… we deal."
Sam moved so she was tucked into his arms closely, "Together. You don't have to be the strong one all the time."
"You've always been stronger than me, Carter," Jack murmured quietly.
Sam shook her head in denial, "If you need… anything. Just let me know."
Jack sighed softly, "Okay."
Sam curled into his arms, hoping that since he clearly didn't want to talk, her presence was helping soothe some of his pain. He breathed slowly, his heartbeat thudding against her cheek on his chest in a steady rhythm. She thought of Charlie, of the photos of a boy with his father's cheeky grin and brown eyes. How different had Jack been before he had lost his son? She would probably never know. After a long while, he stretched and Sam slipped out of his arms when he indicated he needed to stand.
She pulled him off the floor as he groaned, "I'm too old for this sitting on the floor crap."
Sam raised an eyebrow but didn't comment, she just waved a hand at the unfinished packing, "Do you need a hand to finish this?"
Jack frowned, "Nah, I can do it later."
Sam moved forward and bent down next to one of the boxes, "No, let's do it now."
"Together okay?" Sam cut him off. No doubt he was trying to protect her. But she wouldn't let him do this on his own, no matter how much her heart ached at the sight of the brokendown crib.
Jack looked at her for a long moment before nodding, "Okay. Together."
"Sam?" Jack called out to her from the couch to where she was typing on her laptop on the living room table, "Mail just got here."
"I'll go get it." She stretched, grateful for the chance to get some sunlight, she'd arrived home in the early afternoon from work, still on light duty.
Only one letter was sitting in the mailbox, addressed to both herself and Jack, it was a large heavy envelope. She carried it back inside, sitting down next to Jack on the couch and tapping him on the thigh with the letter, "We got a letter."
Jack took the envelope smoothly out of her hand and examined it. He suddenly gave Sam a worried look and she frowned, "What?"
"It's…" Jack sighed and just opened the letter, "Don't be angry."
Jack pulled the contents of the letter out to a confused Sam. She grasped the covering letter skimming through the words until they settled into her brain.
Please find enclosed the details and coordinates of the star dedicated to your son Adam Carter O'Neill. We are deeply sorry for your loss, and hope that knowing there is a star named for his memory will…
Sam closed her eyes against the tears, "A son?" She hadn't asked for the details of the post mortem examination done on their baby. She didn't want to face the cold hard facts of exactly what she was missing.
"Yeah," Jack breathed out slowly, "The day we… lost him. I went back to the base when Daniel came over and talked to Lam in more depth."
"And?" Sam thought maybe she was ready to hear this, maybe.
"He was a perfect little boy," Jack smiled, "She still doesn't know what caused the miscarriage."
Sam nodded, "Okay. Why the star?"
"It was Erik Reynolds idea actually," Jack said softly, "I saw him on the way out, that night. He and his wife lost a baby two years ago."
"Oh," Sam thought back to the bright flowers on her desk and the knowing look in his eyes when he'd spoken to her the day after, "I didn't know."
"Neither did I," Jack held up the letter, "I thought maybe, it might help, having something up there, dedicated to… him."
"To Adam," Sam said softly.
Sam took a deep death, "It does… help I mean."
"We can go out on the porch tonight, set up my telescope and go work out which one it is," Jack suggested.
Sam shrugged, not quite ready to take that step, "Maybe another night."
Jack gathered the papers up, placed them carefully back into the envelope, and said gently, "Whenever you're ready Sam."
Sam kept a steady, running pace as she jogged through the park in the early evening. She rounded the corner leading to the playground and nearly turned back around, as she had been doing all week, avoiding the happy, smiling faces of the children that played on the swings. Instead she kept running forward, slowing her pace as she passed by.
She slowed to a stop, hands on her knees as she regained her breath. She glanced up as a ball rolled on the ground near her feet. Reaching down she picked it up, hearing the running of excited feet come towards her and standing up quickly.
A small girl, no older than five, stopped, wide-eyed, in front of her, staring at the ball in Sam's hands.
"Is this yours?" Sam asked, holding out the ball.
The little girl nodded, casting a worried glance behind her. A young boy waved at her and called out, "Just get the ball Katie!"
Suddenly brave, the little girl reached up and took the ball from Sam with a smile, "Thank you." She said, then turned and ran back to her playmate. Sam stood still, watching them play for a while before returning to the path, jogging again at a steady pace, a smile on her face as she thought of the smiling children in the playground. Maybe one day she'd have her own child, but if not, she was beginning to realize she'd still be okay. Both her and Jack would be. A baby would have been wonderful, but she could still be happy, still make a life with Jack despite the loss. It would all be okay.
Sam didn't remember what day it was until Jack came out from the bathroom dressed in his nicest slacks and shirt, his hair combed neatly and smelling of expensive aftershave.
"So, how do I look?"
Sam gave him a confused look, "What?"
Jack sat on the bed next to her, "You said you'd be pissed if I got married in sweats."
Sam glanced at the calendar, October 25th, their planned wedding date. She'd forgotten about it completely, "I…" she stuttered and Jack kissed her warmly.
"C'mon Sam," Jack pulled her up off the bed, "Go get ready, we're meeting the guys at the registry in a couple of hours."
"You still want to get married?" Sam whispered, feeling like she was detached from her body. She hadn't given much thought to their relationship since they had lost the baby. They seemed strong; Jack had been wonderful, dedicated to her and always there. They didn't really talk much about the incident but they didn't shut each other out.
"Of course I do," Jack said gently, "Do you?"
Sam waited for a moment, giving herself time to process her tumbling thoughts. She thought of the baby, the grief, the anger and the pain. Then she thought of Jack's arms, of his steady presence and ever-present smile, "Yes, I do."
"Save the 'I dos' for later Sam," Jack beamed at her and pulled a dress out from the back of the closet, "Go get ready, Vala picked this out for you."
Sam eyed the simple blue cocktail dress, relieved at the low cut, but still tasteful neckline and delicate fabric, it was practically nun-like compared to Vala's usual attire of leather and short skirts, but the alien woman knew that Sam didn't share her taste. She took the dress from Jack's hands and disappeared into the bathroom. She took care to shower quickly, apply her makeup, twist her hair into an elegant knot and then slipped into the dress.
The knee-length dress dipped into a V at her chest, and fit her slim figure snugly, but wasn't too tight. A small silk sash tied up in a small bow at her waist. She stepped out of the bathroom, Jack held out a pair of matching heels and a clutch that Vala must have bought to match the dress.
"Gorgeous," he flashed her a quick smile and held up a box, "I uh, picked these up."
Sam took the box from his hand, snapping it open to find a matching pair of gold wedding bands. One slimmer than the other with a tiny engraving on the inside, Jack picked it out and read out the words, "Sam, For Always, Jack."
Jack's ring read a similar phrase, "Jack, For Always, Sam." She read the words from his ring, smiling at him, "They're perfect Jack."
Sam was surprised when they returned home to find her small house decked out in fairy lights, her backyard crowded and noisy, and a crowd of SGC personnel having made themselves at home, starting up the BBQ and setting up a large table of refreshments. The wedding had been a small and private affair, with only Daniel, Teal'c, Cassie and General Hammond in attendance. Vala and Cameron grinned at her from the porch, their absence from the ceremony suddenly making complete sense.
"Hope you don't mind," Vala cooed as she hugged Sam tightly, "We invited a few friends to celebrate."
"Don't worry Sam," Cameron held up a beer, "We'll do the clean up."
"Damn right you will," Sam laughed and kissed the blushing colonel's cheek.
"Hey Mitchell, hands off my wife." Jack pulled her out of Cameron's embrace and hugged her close.
"It's not consummated yet," Ferretti joked as he came up and shook Jack's hand, "There's still time for an annulment Sam, leave him and marry me."
Sam laughed andthen blushed wildly as Jack scoffed, "Consummated? I do believe we accomplished that in the car."
"Jack!" Sam shoved him, "He's lying. And very soon to be single if he doesn't shut up."
"Shutting up." Jack smiled at her and Ferretti rolled his eyes at the mushiness and kissed her on the cheek in congratulations.
Erik Reynolds and his wife, Louisa, approached next, wide smiles on their faces as they exchanged hugs and congratulations, "You can thank me for the cake Sam," Erik said with a smile, he winked at her, "You'll understand when you see it."
The night flew by; Sam was overwhelmed at the amount of happy smiling faces who hugged and kissed her in congratulations. She felt content as she sat next to Jack, a plate of char-grilled meat and salad in her lap as the laughter of her coworkers and friends washed over her.
The speeches followed the food; Sam both laughed and cried as Daniel recounted ten years of memories and sexual tension between Sam and her former C.O.. Eventually Jack got sick of the embarrassing stories and ordered Daniel to 'finish it up.'
"So let's all raise our glasses and toast to the star crossed lovers. To Jack and Sam," Daniel said, a warm loving smile on his face.
Teal'c brought the cake out from the kitchen next and Sam marvelled at its three tiers. Instead of the usual white icing and delicate decorations, it was encased in Jack's favourite chocolate-flavoured icing. Sam laughed as Teal'c brought the cake closer and she spotted the small cups of blue jello that rested on the surface of the cake. Barely an inch wide and deep, the little cups seemed to sparkle with the blue coloured dessert as it jiggled in the light. She laughed even harder when she read the inscription on the cake.
Congratulations to the happy couple - Mr and Mrs Carter
"Reynolds!" Jack yelled out, "Get over here."
Sam pressed a kiss to Jack's lips, silencing his yells, then they cut the cake and Sam tipped a cup of blue jello over his head as he crushed the chocolate cake against her lips. They both laughed as he bent down and licked the chocolate off her lips, ending in a rather all too passionate and deep kiss for the public setting.
"Get a room!" Daniel called out.
Jack tugged on Sam's hand, leading her towards the house, "No problem, you can let yourselves out."
Laughter, cat calls and whistling followed them into the house as Sam winked back at the gathered crowd before turning and gracing her husband with a cheeky smile, "Let's go consummate this marriage."
"Thank you," Sam put a mug of coffee into Jack's hand as she stepped out onto the porch. The night was cool, and she sipped her own hot coffee as she slipped into her chair.
"You brought me the coffee," Jack said confused, "Why are you thanking me?"
It had been three days since their marriage and Sam still glanced down and smiled at the gold band on her finger, "For the wedding… and everything else."
"It was nothing, Carter," Jack shrugged.
"I'm an O'Neill actually." Sam poked him and Jack shook his head.
"You'll always be Carter to me."
Sam smiled at him indulgently, "Is it all set up?" She pointed to the telescope, sitting pointed at the sky.
"It is," Jack's voice was soft, "If you're ready."
Sam glanced up at the sky, the twinkling stars seemed to smile at her from the darkness. She was ready, she wanted to see which one was their son.
Jack drew her close, "Then let's go find Adam."