Chapter 1: Leave

The sound of "Wild Blue Yonder" came from Sam's phone as she cooked the spaghetti. She smiled softly. Sometime since she'd been deployed on the Hammond, someone had taught him how to program ringtones into cell phones, and he'd used his new skill the moment they'd turned her service back on.

She reached for the phone as she took the wooden spoon from the red sauce she'd been stirring. "Carter," she greeted, efficiently.

"Colonel Carter, it's Dr. Montgomery. I was hoping to speak to you about the maintenance work on the George Hammond."

She stopped what she was doing before resting her backside against the counter. She perched the phone between the crook of her neck and her ear as she wiped her hands on the hand towel. "Of course." She finished with the towel, and put it back on the rack before she caught the phone with her hand again. "What's going on?" She asked, soberly.

"Between the repairs we need to make to get it back like new and the upgrades we were already planning on making, it will take an extra month."

"A month?" She asked as her eyebrows shot up.

"Unfortunately, yes."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"I recognize you're a talented engineer and scientist, but…"

"I got it." She grinned. "Your team's got it under control."

"Yes, ma'am, we do." He chuckled.

"Keep me updated." She smiled.

"Will do."

She hung up the phone with a small sigh as the door to the town home opened.

"Honey, I'm ho-ome!" Jack announced in a sing-songy voice as he walked into the kitchen.

"Hi, Jack," Sam smiled as she leaned in and kissed him quickly.

"Hm, spaghetti." He said, inhaling. "My favorite."

She turned back to stirring the spaghetti sauce with a pensive look on her face. "It'll be ready in a few minutes."

"What's wrong?" Jack asked, noticing the look on her face.

She looked over, about to deny that something was on her mind before she sighed. "There's nothing…wrong…per se…"

"Okay…"

"But the George Hammond needs some pretty extensive repairs and upgrades."

"Oh? I thought you were doing pretty well on the "not getting shot" front."

She smiled appreciatively. "It's true, but we're still not perfect."

"So, what's the problem?"

"We're going to be here for an extra month."

"Again, I say, what's the problem?"

"Ten total weeks of leave?" Sam asked with her brow furrowed. "Don't get me wrong – I love to spend time with you, but…"

"You're afraid you'll have nothing to do."

She winced. "I'm not good with free time."

"What free time?" Jack teased.

"My point, exactly," she smiled.

"You know, you need a hobby."

She raised an eyebrow. "Um-hm…"

"What? You do!"

"I already started playing the cello, Jack. What else do you want?" She asked with an amused smile.

He laughed. "Something that doesn't screech when you practice."

She playfully hit him with a wet dish towel. "And what exactly do you recommend, o genius one," she teased as she returned to stirring the spaghetti sauce.

"I don't know. Painting. Knitting."

She looked up at her husband. "Knitting…"

"What? I hear that some women like it."

"And you can picture me…knitting…"

"Um…"

She offered him the wooden spoon from the spaghetti sauce. "Taste this."

He did so. "Yum, that's good."

She tasted it herself with a critical look in her eye. "I just, I don't know…it's missing something…"

"Maybe a little salt?"

"Could be," she said, nodding. She retrieved the salt shaker and quickly added another dash before stirring the sauce and tasting it again. She nodded in approval before she looked back at him after a moment. "I'm just teasing you. I was actually thinking of volunteering at the local elementary school."

"That's a good idea." He agreed.

"It wouldn't be too weird?" She asked, curiously. "I mean...since I don't have kids, and it would just be a temporary thing?"

"Hey, I used to volunteer at the school in the Springs even after Cassie moved up to Middle and High school."

She nodded somewhat pensively.

"Besides, I think it would be good for you."

"I think so too." She agreed. "I could tutor some of the kids in science or math."

"Watch out world. The test scores would be through the roof almost instantly."

"Stop." She laughed as she pulled down a couple of plates. "Come on, let's have dinner."

He grinned as he wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her neck. "Have I told you how much I love you, Mrs. O'Neill?"

She bit her lip with a smile. "Not today," she grinned.

"Or how much I miss you when you're gone," he murmured as he trailed kisses up to her ear.

"Stop that," she giggled as she tried to wriggle out of his reach. "I spent all day cooking, and you have one thing on your mind…"

"Never bothered you before," he whispered with his hot breath on her ear.

"I told you before," she chuckled as she turned around to wrap her arms around his neck. "Things tend to burn around me…"

"Then, let's take stuff off the stove. And heat it up in the microwave later." Jack murmured as he reached for the saucepan, pulling it off the heat. "Much later…"

"This is where I melt and say "Take me, I'm yours", isn't it?" She teased.

"Wouldn't hurt." He chuckled.

She shook her head with an amused smile. "Come on, General," she said as she turned around and switched the stove top off before she reached for his hand.

"Yes, ma'am," he grinned, excitedly.

She snickered as he followed her into the bedroom.