Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc

Author's Note: Sam/Jack Est. Set just after SGA's S4 episode 'Trio' mild spoilers for that episode and SGA S4. There is some crossover but as this is essentially a Sam/Jack story I'm keeping it in the SG1 category and I don't think you necessarily need to know the Atlantis characters for this to be understood. This is a sequel to previous Flowers stories 'Flowers' and 'Flowers Remembered' although you don't need to read either to read this. Written for the Gateworld Sam/Jack Ship Day.

Flowers in Atlantis

'Sheppard or McKay?' Vala Mal Doran stepped away from the infimary bed with a sly grin.

'Vala.' Samantha Carter's tone held a warning note but the dark-haired woman looked back at her unrepentant.

Daniel Jackson shook his head sadly from the other side of the private room as though in sympathy with Sam but his laughing blue eyes gave away his amusement. The SG1 leader, Cameron Mitchell wasn't even attempting to hide his glee, and, although Teal'c remained impassively stoic, Sam knew him well enough to know the Jaffa was also enjoying the light-hearted teasing she was being subjected to by Vala.

Sam blamed herself. After all, she had been the one to confide about her whole experience of being trapped with Rodney McKay and Jennifer Keller in a mine back in the Pegasus galaxy while the former thief had healed Sam's broken leg. Sam regretted that she had rashly included the 'who would you rather kiss' game she and the others had played in her anecdote. Perhaps, though, some teasing by Vala and the others was only fair payment for avoiding months of convalescence. Sam had in the end only endured a short trip through the wormhole via the Midway Station to the SGC where Vala had done her magic, and, in less than an hour, she would take the wormhole back to the Midway Station for the first leg of her journey back to Atlantis.

'As if you haven't considered it already.' Vala said. 'So come on: Sheppard or McKay?'

'I'm not playing who would you rather about Sheppard and McKay.' Sam said firmly. 'They're my command staff. It's not appropriate.'

Vala gave a huffy sigh but acquiesced when her gaze met Sam's determined blue eyes. 'Fine. Well, I say both. After all, why choose?' She winked and Sam hid a smile.

Sam pulled on her leather jacket with its Atlantis insignia and decided offence was a better strategy. 'What about you, Daniel?'

Daniel blinked, startled out of his amusement. 'What?'

'Sheppard or McKay?' Vala repeated as though she was talking to a very dense child.

'Man!' Mitchell smirked, rubbing his chin as he looked at the archaeologist. 'I can't wait to hear the answer on this one.'

'You'll be waiting a long time.' Daniel muttered. He glared at Sam who smiled back at him innocently. 'I'm not answering that.'

'Why not?' Vala teased. 'McKay played with Jennifer and Samantha which means he's obviously comfortable with his sexuality, and your refusal to play rather suggests...'

'Sheppard.' Teal'c's bass rumble interrupted Vala effectively. He looked back at them evenly as they all turned to stare at him. 'He has proven himself a formidable warrior.'

'O-kay.' Mitchell said slowly. 'See that right there? That's an image I did not need, big guy.'

Teal'c raised an eyebrow.

'And not really helped by you calling Teal'c 'big guy'.' Daniel pointed out dryly.

Sam and Vala exchanged amused looks at Mitchell's mock look of outrage.

'Having fun, are we?' Jack O'Neill's voice had them all turning to the doorway.

Sam's face lit up with pleasure and she stood up to greet him. 'General.'

'Colonel.' Jack smiled back at her warmly. His brown eyes ran over her, drinking in the sight of her.

Daniel cleared his throat. 'I think this is our cue to leave.' He walked over and hugged Sam gently. 'It was good to see you.'

Sam felt the emotion catch in her throat. She missed her friends – her SG1 family – so much out in Pegasus. It felt wrenching to be leaving again.

Teal'c replaced Daniel a moment later. 'Perhaps your next visit will not be as brief.' He murmured in Sam's ear.

Mitchell nudged Teal'c aside to give his own hug goodbye. The boys wandered out as Vala hugged Sam fiercely.

'It's just not the same without you, Samantha.' Vala complained.

'Thanks, Vala.' Sam said gratefully. 'For everything.'

Vala released her. 'Any time.' She took a step towards the door as Jack walked up to Sam, ignoring Vala completely as she quietly sneaked out of the room, sending Sam another large wink before closing the door on the couple.

Jack leaned in and kissed Sam; it was loving, and tender, and gentle, and just everything else she had yearned for when she was a galaxy away from him. They both broke the kiss, needing air.

'Hey.' Jack said gruffly.

'Hey.' Sam replied softly. 'I was wondering if you'd be able to get away.'

Jack waved away her concern. 'My wife turns up from another galaxy with a broken leg; I think I can spare five minutes.' He said dryly.

'Not broken anymore.' Sam said. She patted her healed limb.

'Yes. Well.' Jack put his arms around her waist and tugged her closer. 'How'd it happen anyway?'

She grimaced. 'I fell.'

Jack raised both eyebrows. 'That's it?'

'The less embarrassing version.' Sam admitted. She sighed and filled him in; she knew he'd only read about in the reports anyway. 'Anyway,' she concluded, 'when we dialled in for the usual report, General Landry suggested I come through and let Vala heal me so here I am.'

'McKay.' Jack said in disbelief as he zeroed in on the one thing he felt was of importance. 'McKay saved you?'

'Yeah.' Sam smiled at him. 'It took me by surprise too.' She bit her lip. 'But actually I think McKay's found his place in Atlantis. He's different there; part of a team.'

Jack looked at her searchingly. 'And what about you?'

'I miss Earth.' Sam admitted. Her voice dropped to a whisper. 'I miss you.'

Jack stroked a strand of blonde hair back behind an ear. 'I miss you too, Carter.'

She cupped his cheek in the palm of her hand and kissed him again.

'So.' Jack said with a grin as they moved to sit on the infirmary bed. 'Playing who would you rather, huh?' He looked at her teasingly. 'Anyone I should be worried about?'

She laughed in response and shook her head. 'Teal'c chose Sheppard.'

Jack's eyebrows shot up. 'What were the choices?'

'Sheppard or McKay.' Sam admitted ruefully.

Jack pulled a face. 'Who'd you pick?'

'Neither.' Sam said firmly. 'I'm not going there.'

'Wise.' Jack agreed easily.

'So,' Sam said mischievously, 'who would you rather: Sheppard or McKay?'

'That's easy.' Jack claimed with his brown eyes lit up with laughter.

'It is?' Sam asked.

'Sure.' Jack tilted her chin up. 'I choose Carter every time.'

She smiled up at him and her arms tightened around him. 'Good answer.' Her voice wasn't quite steady.

'I thought so.' Jack grinned and kissed her again.

o-O-o

'Uh, Colonel Sheppard,' Zelenka's voice sounded in Sheppard's ear, worry emphasising his Czech intonations, 'could you come to Stargate Operations, please.'

Sheppard sighed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he checked his watch. Six am. He groaned.

'Colonel Sheppard...'

He hit the reply button on his earpiece. 'I heard you the first time, Radek. I'm on my way.' He swung his legs off the bed, brushed his hands through his askew hair and congratulated himself on not having bothered to undress. Of course, it hadn't been a conscious decision. He'd just been too tired when he'd finally stumbled into his room four hours before after dealing with a minor argument between a scientist and a Marine over which of them should have the last sandwich made with real ham from Earth rather than a Pegasus substitute. He had solved the problem by eating it himself which in hindsight has simply incurred the wrath of both expedition members. Still, he hadn't eaten all day until the sandwich so he felt more than justified requisitioning it.

He couldn't wait for Carter to arrive back so he could hand her the command of the City back. Six more hours, Sheppard reminded himself as he made his way through the Ancient corridors to the gate room. Only six more hours until she was due to arrive.

'What's the problem?' Sheppard asked as he approached Zelenka's console. He nodded a greeting absently at Amelia Banks sat next to the scientist.

'Someone is attempting to break into Colonel Carter's personal quarters.' Zelenka hurried out. 'See!' He pointed at the display on the monitor.

Sheppard frowned at the dot in front of the outline of the room. 'So they're hovering...'

'No.' Zelenka refuted immediately. 'I have tracked several attempts by someone to override the door controls.'

'OK.' Sheppard cleared his throat. 'So I'll just go down there and have a chat with...' he waved at the dot.

'It is Rodney!' Zelenka hissed.

Sheppard's eyes narrowed. McKay? McKay was trying to break into Carter's quarters? That was not good. He knew the scientist had some kind of crush – OK, obsession about the Colonel but surely he wouldn't go so far as to break into her private space. Of course, McKay had been slightly off-key because of the break-up with Katie Brown. It was possible it was some kind of twisted reaction to that.

'Right.' Sheppard tried to smile reassuringly at Zelenka. 'I'll just...'

Zelenka nodded solemnly. 'Good luck, Colonel.'

Sheppard repressed the urge to sigh and headed off in the right direction. He seriously couldn't wait for Carter to get back so someone else could handle all the weirdness he'd had to handle in the last two days. Like the whole day of negotiation he'd just done for some kind of protected rock from M3Y945 that Doctor Xavier thought could cure cancer. He could do without McKay trying to break into Carter's quarters, Sheppard mused as he rounded the corner and spotted the scientist sat on the floor and hunched over his laptop which was connected to the door panel. A bouquet of purple and pink flowers rested by McKay's left foot.

Sheppard closed his eyes. Why him? Why did he have to deal with this?

McKay's head suddenly snapped up and swivelled in his direction. 'S...Sheppard.' He stuttered.

Sheppard sighed and ambled over to his team-mate. 'McKay.' He looked pointedly from McKay to the door panel to the flowers and back again.

McKay hugged his laptop closer with his bandaged hands as he scrambled to his feet. 'This isn't what it looks like.'

'Then you're not trying to break into Colonel Carter's quarters to deliver a bunch of flowers.' Sheppard said dryly.

'No,' McKay denied before he paused abruptly, and waved a hand at Sheppard, 'well, yes, I guess technically that's what I'm doing...'

'McKay.' Sheppard glared at him.

'This isn't my fault!' McKay hissed frantically. 'It's his!'

'Who?' Was McKay hallucinating invisible people? Maybe that explained the behaviour; alien influence.

'Him!' McKay gestured as he bent over his laptop again. 'General O'Neill.'

Sheppard stilled. 'General O'Neill?'

'Yes! Him!' McKay muttered as he started to tap instructions on the laptop again. 'He sent me a communication when we reported into the SGC; said it was a mission of importance although why he's allowed to order me to give flowers to...'

'General O'Neill gave you a Flower mission?' Sheppard interrupted McKay's rant.

McKay's head shot up and he stared at Sheppard open-mouthed. 'A Flower mission? He does this a lot?' His voice rose with each word.

'Mitchell may have mentioned something.' Sheppard muttered gesturing at him.

McKay went red. 'Is that even right, no,' he held up a hand, 'no,' he bent back over the laptop, 'don't even tell me. I mean, I know they're married but...'

'You know they're married?' Sheppard broke in.

McKay's head snapped. 'You didn't know?'

'I knew.' Sheppard claimed adamantly. 'Who told you?'

'Sam. Who told you?' McKay demanded furiously in response.

'Mitchell may have mentioned something.' Sheppard waved a hand as though dismissing who'd told him as unimportant. 'Look, it's supposed to be an honour getting a flower mission.'

'An honour?' McKay squeaked in disbelief.

'Yeah.' Sheppard nodded. 'A sign that the General trusts you.'

McKay puffed up at that. 'Really?'

'Really.' Sheppard frowned. 'Actually I was kinda hoping he would ask me to...' he trailed away abruptly at the emerging smug look on McKay's face. 'Never mind.' He waved at the door panel. 'So how's it going?'

McKay pulled a face. 'She's set up some kind of encryption in addition to the usual Atlantis security protocols.'

Sheppard wondered briefly why Carter had thought to set up additional security before he shook the thought away. 'But you can break it right?'

'Of course.' McKay scoffed.

Sheppard stared at him evenly. Not that he didn't believe McKay exactly; he just didn't believe him.

An uncertain look entered McKay's eyes. 'Maybe.' He qualified.

Sheppard closed his eyes. Maybe if he wished hard enough this would all go away.

'Look,' McKay said determinedly, 'I can break the encryption but it'll take time...'

'How much time?' Sheppard pressed.

'I don't know!' McKay shot back.

'Well, guess!' Sheppard retorted.

'You always do this.' McKay waved wildly. 'Give me a time! Guess! As though it was that easy and...'

The laptop beeped.

They both stared at it.

McKay pressed a few buttons. 'Uh-oh.'

'Uh-oh?' Sheppard repeated.

'It's asking me for a password.' McKay looked at him helplessly. 'It'll only accept one attempt!'

'Well, don't look at me!' Sheppard raised his hands. 'I don't know it.'

'Your friend Mitchell didn't just happen to mention it?' McKay said snarkily.

They glared at each other.

'So what's going on here?' Ronon's low growl had them both jumping.

They turned to stare at the Satedan. He'd sneaked up on their position and was casually leaning against the wall just behind them.

'This isn't what it looks like.' Sheppard and McKay said in unison.

Ronon let his gaze drop to the flowers. 'Looks like a Flower mission.'

Sheppard and McKay exchanged a look.

Sheppard shrugged and tilted his head. 'OK. So this is what it looks like.'

'How do you know about the flower missions?' McKay asked suspiciously.

It was Ronon's turn to shrug. 'Walter told me.'

'Walter?' McKay frowned.

'Works at the SGC. Glasses.' Ronon expanded.

'Sergeant Harriman.' Sheppard supplied when McKay continued to look blank.

'Apparently it's some big deal to be asked.' Ronon commented, unwittingly bringing another smug smile to McKay's lips. 'You going to pull it off?'

'McKay needs her password to get into the room.' Sheppard explained.

Ronon looked past the scientist toward the door. 'I could blast it open.'

'It's supposed to be a surprise.' Sheppard replied before McKay could launch into a reply. 'I think she may notice her door has been blasted open.'

Ronon shrugged. 'Bet she'd be surprised though.'

'What are you all doing outside Colonel Carter's quarters?'

McKay yelped in surprise and Sheppard just about managed to cover his own startled reaction as all three of them whirled around to greet the fourth member of their team. Teyla gazed serenely back at the three men. Sheppard couldn't quite believe Teyla had managed to sneak up on them given her heavily pregnant condition.

'Flower mission.' Ronon responded succinctly.

'Ah!' Teyla nodded wisely.

'You knew?' McKay blurted out, his eyes wide.

'Major Lorne informed me of the tradition when I caught him performing such a mission for General O'Neill soon after Colonel Carter's arrival.' Teyla explained. Her dark eyes twinkled. 'It is very romantic, is it not?'

'How does everyone know about this but me?' McKay complained loudly.

'Why Lorne?' Sheppard asked out loud. 'Why wouldn't General O'Neill ask me? I mean, I did rescue him from the Replicators and...' he stopped as he realised the other three were looking at him. 'Never mind.' At least, Sheppard mused, the fact that Lorne had already delivered flowers once explained why Carter had added the security to the door.

'I take it there is a problem in completing the mission?' Teyla rubbed her protruding belly unconsciously as though to settle the child within.

'We need a password.' Sheppard admitted.

Teyla frowned thoughtfully. 'Are not most passwords personal to the individual?'

'Yes, yes,' McKay nodded frantically, 'but she would have already thought about that. She wouldn't use something too obvious.'

'Perhaps you should try fishing.' Teyla suggested.

The three men looked at each other.

'Fishing?' queried Sheppard.

'The photo in her office of herself with the General clearly shows them fishing.' Teyla pointed out.

'There's a photo?' McKay said morosely.

Sheppard sighed heavily and gestured for him to try it. McKay scowled but complied.

The door slid open.

Teyla beamed in satisfaction as the three men looked at the open doorway.

'OK,' McKay reached down and picked up the flowers, 'so I'll just...' he halted in the middle of the doorway.

'What's the matter, McKay?' Sheppard hissed. 'Leave the flowers and get out.'

'I, uh...' McKay shot him a desperate look. 'It's her quarters.'

Sheppard grabbed the flowers from him and marched in. He found an empty vase on a side-table and hurried into the bathroom to put some water inside it before he plonked the flowers in. He placed it on a table, his eyes catching on a picture of the General that the Colonel had displayed prominently on a bookshelf. He picked it up and placed it by the flowers before he turned on his heel and marched out. The General so should have asked him.

He was still sulking when Atlantis dialled in for its usual report to the SGC three hours later. Sheppard was slightly surprised to see General O'Neill and automatically straightened. He felt McKay freeze beside him.

'Gentlemen.' Jack smiled down the monitor at them. 'Anything specific to report?' His eyes slid meaningfully to McKay.

McKay looked desperately at Sheppard.

'The mission you assigned to McKay was completed successfully, sir.' Sheppard replied, trying to keep his own disappointment at not being asked out of his voice.

'Excellent.' Jack actually smiled at him.

'Uh, Sheppard and the rest of the team might have assisted a little.' McKay piped up, waving a hand at his team leader.

'Of course.' Jack's eyes slid to Sheppard. 'Good job, Colonel.'

Sheppard nodded, suddenly getting the impression that O'Neill had never meant for McKay to break into Carter's room on his own; it had been a mission for McKay and his team. He smiled. 'Thank you, sir. And if you ever need...'

'Understood.' Jack said quickly. 'Actually, there is one more task.'

'Anything, sir.' Sheppard replied.

'Well, not anything.' McKay corrected.

Sheppard and Jack shot him identical looks of exasperation.

McKay looked from one to the other in bemusement. 'What?'

o-O-o

Sam gave a weary sigh as she walked the final distance to her quarters. It had been a long day; arriving from Midway and debriefing with Sheppard who had looked as if he knew something she didn't all the way through, and McKay, who had been really weird with her. Then there was some catastrophe to do with a protected rock that apparently had suddenly started talking and was actually an intelligent life-form. She shook her head as she opened the door to her quarters. It was good to be back even if she did miss...

Her eyes landed on the vase of flowers.

Jack.

A grin crept across her face as she walked over to the delicate purple and pink blooms. She sniffed tentatively at the fragrant perfume. They were beautiful.

She really didn't know how he kept managing to sneak flowers into her quarters. Maybe she should...

Oh no.

Jack wouldn't have, would he? Oh but he would and it would explain McKay's awkwardness and Sheppard's knowing smirk. Sam sighed. She had told McKay herself about her marriage to Jack but she guessed she'd have to have a quiet word with both of them and ask for their discretion. She and Jack weren't keeping their marriage secret but neither did she want it turning into a topic for gossip around the City. It was why she had refrained from telling Jennifer everything when they'd strayed onto the topic of dating.

She turned on her computer and was unsurprised to see a new video message from Jack waiting for her. She'd bet he'd included it in the data burst from Earth when Atlantis had dialled in to report and asked McKay or Sheppard to see she received it privately when she was off-duty.

She sat down and pressed play. The image came into view almost immediately; an empty stool. Jack hurried into it and nodded at the camera man.

'Are you sure this is on, Daniel?' Jack asked, peering into the camera lens as though it would provide the answer.

'It's on.' Daniel said faintly off-camera.

'I don't think it is.' Jack said, frowning heavily.

'Yes, it is.'

'No, it's not.'

'Is.'

'Not.'

Sam raised a hand to her mouth to hide the smile even though tears glimmered in her eyes at the rush of longing that filled her. It was so them.

'Jack.' Daniel muttered. 'The camera is recording.'

'You're sure?'

'Yes.'

Jack leaned forward, looking past the camera to Daniel. 'Then why are you still here?'

'Oh.' Daniel's chagrined response could be heard clearly. 'So I'll just, uh, leave you to it.'

Jack waved him away. There was the sound of a door opening and shutting before Jack settled again on the stool and looked into the camera.

'So,' Jack began, 'hi, Carter!' He gestured down the lens. 'I'm hoping you've got the flowers.'

Her hand drifted to the screen to trace his features.

'I didn't want to leave a note with,' he stopped suddenly and wary caution entered his brown eyes, 'the person, or persons,' he waggled his eyebrows, 'who I asked to break into your room,' he paused again, 'and I'm guessing you're going to need a new password for your door again,' he added before he continued, 'so anyway, I'm having this sent to you later.'

She smiled at his image.

'So firstly, take care of yourself in Pegasus; try not to break anything else. I happen to like you in one piece.' His smile faded; a serious look entering his chocolate eyes.

'I, er,' he stumbled over his words and wet his lips, 'I just want you to know,' he gestured at the screen, 'that I meant what I said before you left: I'd choose you every day of the week and twice on Sundays.'

Her heart bumped unevenly in her chest.

Jack smiled again but there was a hint of sadness around his eyes. 'I love you, Carter.'

'I love you too.' Sam whispered.

Jack sat looking back at her awkwardly through the camera before he got up suddenly. The sound of a door opening could be heard on the video as it continued to record.

'Hey, Daniel! How do I switch this thing off?'

More sounds filtered through – a bump and a crash, a muttered curse that sounded suspiciously like 'd'oh' and then the screen went blank.

Sam brushed the moisture from under her eyes and picked up the picture of Jack she kept in her quarters. She'd wait until she wasn't so choked up and record a reply to him; thank him for the flowers.

She looked at the picture. It was an old shot of Jack taken long before she had recognised she'd fallen in love with him but it was one of her favourites. She considered Jack's words. 'I'd choose you every day of the week and twice on Sundays.' She'd learned long ago that there wasn't a choice for her: it was and would always be Jack.

The End.