Sam unwrapped her scarf from around her neck as she walked into the Colorado Springs home that she shared with her husband, retired Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill, after the end of her shift as the SGC commander. The newly promoted Brigadier General felt tired and weary from all of the meetings and alien encounters she'd had to endure again. Two years as the commander of a ship and six months of leave had made the face-to-face contact with aliens and politicians, alike, somewhat unfamiliar to her again.
She sighed as she pulled her coat off and hung it on the coat rack, revealing her dress uniform. "Jack, I'm home."
"Long day?" Jack asked, walking into the living room.
She closed her eyes, pinched the bridge of her nose, and nodded. "Yeah."
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Not really." She said with a sigh.
"Need a hug?"
Tears welled up in her eyes as she thought about the events of the day. SG-16 had missed a scheduled check-in by several hours, and she'd sent another team to determine what had happened. The team had radioed back almost instantly to tell her that they'd found the bodies of the team strewn throughout the forest, eviscerated by a wild, alien beast. Three months into her time back at the SGC, and she'd lost an entire team. "That," she managed around the lump welling up in her throat. "Would be great..."
He walked over, and wrapped his arms around her waist. She wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder as she cried softly.
"That bad, huh?"
She nodded slowly.
"You're doing a great job," he assured, holding her tightly. "You always do a great job."
It was several minutes before she finally let go, and it broke his heart to see the tears slipping down her cheeks. "We lost a team today," she whispered as she wiped away her tears with her fingers.
He nodded, soberly. "I assumed as much."
She bit her lip as she looked upward, grateful that he hadn't needed to ask if she was all right because he could read it in her face. "I...I wish I could tell you what happened," she sighed.
"I know." He said, sympathetically. "National Security and all that jazz..."
She nodded, pensively, before she inhaled deeply and exhaled. "How was your day?"
"Not too bad, actually." He admitted. "Grace had to be picked up from school. She had a little fever..."
"Is she okay?" Sam asked, worriedly.
"Fine. I gave her a children's Tylenol, and sent her to bed."
"I wish I'd been here," Sam sighed softly.
"I told her that you'd go in and give her a kiss when you came home," he said, leading her to their daughter's bedroom.
She smiled tiredly as she slipped inside for a moment. She walked to the six-year-old's bed and gently brushed the hair from her daughter's face. Just as she had expected, Grace's forehead was back to a normal temperature thanks to the Tylenol.
"Mommy?" The little girl murmured.
"It's me, sweetheart," Sam said, softly. "Go back to sleep."
"Hug?" She asked, her eyes still closed as she reached up with both hands.
Sam leaned down and hugged her adopted daughter with a small smile before she kissed her forehead gently. "Sweet dreams, Grace."
"Um-hm..." She murmured, snuggling into her covers as Sam stood and walked toward the door. She paused for a moment, blowing a kiss to the little angel who lay in the bed asleep. "Love you, sweetheart."
"Love you too, Mommy," Grace whispered, causing Sam to smile contentedly as she closed the door behind her.
"There's lasagna in the oven." Jack said from the kitchen. "And garlic bread too. Tried to keep it warm for you."
"You're the best husband I could ever ask for, you know that?" She asked as she leaned in to kiss him affectionately.
"Don't get to excited," he teased, trying to lighten the air a little. "It's frozen lasagna, and the garlic bread came from Wal-Mart."
She smiled appreciatively. "I think I'm gonna get out of these clothes before dinner."
"Want some help?" Jack asked, raising an eyebrow in playful seduction.
She chuckled. "Maybe later. I'm a little tired right now..."
"Yes, ma'am." He winked.
She smiled softly before she turned to leave. She paused as she reached the archway between the kitchen and the living room that led to the hallway at the end of which was their master bedroom. She took a moment, just to watch her husband putter around the kitchen. They'd been married for a little more than two years, and in all that time, they'd probably only spent a few months truly together because of her tour on the "George Hammond".
"Jack?" She asked, looking over at him.
"Yes?" He asked, looking up from his sauce.
"It's nice to come home to you every night." She said with a tender smile.
"It's nice to have you home every night." He admitted, looking up at her affectionately.
"I love you."
He smiled as he blew a kiss to her. "Love you too."
The fire crackled faintly as Jack finished stoking it. He looked over at his wife who sat on the couch, dressed in form-fitting cotton pajamas, with a lap blanket settled over her legs. "Warmer?"
She smiled a rare relaxed smile as she looked over at him. "Yeah. And it'll be perfect if you come up here and join me."
He grinned as he quickly put the fireplace tools away, closed the grate, and slipped over to sit beside his wife as he wrapped his arm around her. She curled up next to him, resting her cheek on his shoulder as she drew from his strength.
"Feeling better?" He asked after a moment.
"Yeah." She said, nodding. "You do wonders for my state of being."
"Backatcha." He said, softly.
She stared into the flames with a small sigh.
"Something still on your mind?"
"I'm turning forty-three in a little over a month," she whispered.
"Yeah." He said, nodding. "And you just keep getting better with each passing year."
She turned a grateful smile to him, but he noticed the sadness in her eyes.
"Hey, you've never worried about your age before," he observed gently. "What's different this year?"
"It's silly." She said, shaking her head.
"Silly?" He asked, raising an eyebrow. "There are a lot of words in the dictionary that describe you, but silly isn't one of them."
"I'm a Brigadier General, who has had an illustrious career in astrophysics and the Air Force," she began as if trying to convince herself that the troubles she faced were virtually nothing in comparison with her many blessings. "In almost fifteen years, I've done things that most people can't even imagine. I've stood on the frontiers of exploration, engineering, and scientific discovery."
"But..." He prompted gently, recognizing her rant for what it was.
Her lips parted as she inhaled deeply. "I want to try again to have a baby," she said with a single tear slipping down her cheek. "I think I'm ready...I mean, I love Grace, and if we didn't have any other children, I'd be happy, but..." She paused. "We never got to see her first steps. Never got to hear her first word..."
"Then, we'll have a baby." He said, gently caressing her cheek as he wiped her tear away.
She looked back at him with a sober smile, realizing how much it meant to her that he hadn't even hesitated – even with his dark past and the fear that had arisen when she'd miscarried nearly a year earlier. "If it's even possible..."
"Haven't you learned anything in the last fifteen years?" He asked, kissing her neck tenderly.
"A lot." She said with a faint smile.
"Yeah, but there's one lesson I'm talking about in particular."
"Yeah." He said, nodding. "Never say never, Carter."
She managed a small smile as she curled closer to him.
"Do you remember when we first met?"
"Could I ever forget how humiliating that first meeting was?" She asked with a smile and a blush.
He chuckled before he sobered. "I looked at you, and I thought that there wasn't a chance in hell that you would ever look my way. Especially with your military rank and our working relationship."
She looked up at him, listening carefully.
"And then...came the sweet, little tank top number."
She couldn't help but laugh at the memory of attacking him in a fit of primal need and desire.
"But by then, I knew how dedicated you were to your job."
She tensed, and he rubbed her arm in a comforting gesture.
"When we admitted our feelings in front of that za'tarc detector," he sighed. "I knew we were never going to be together."
She swallowed as she remembered each instance.
"And then, Jonah fell in love with Thera not two months later."
She swallowed. "And we left that behind too," she whispered.
"Pete was the final straw."
She bit her lip.
"And then, you came to me, asking what would have happened if things had been different for us..."
"And you said, "I wouldn't be here"." She quoted, softly.
"I never told you what I meant by that, did I?"
"You meant that you would have retired four years earlier rather than let me bury our feelings in a cement room with no hope of ever letting them out again," she whispered in perfect understanding.
"I didn't piece that together until after my dad died," she said, softly. "Until I realized that our relationship had always been in my hands. Not because you weren't willing to take the first step, but because you respected my space, my dreams and my ambition."
"After all of my fears that we would never be together," he whispered, allowing his warm breath to tickle the flesh on her ear. "We're together."
"Yes, we're together," she said, nodding.
"And we may find ourselves with a little uphill battle when it comes to having kids, but Sam, it's not impossible. And even if we have doctors who tell us that we're past our prime, and that we can't have kids of our own, there are kids out there – in our world and in the worlds around us – who need parents. And I think we've proven in how much we love and care for Cassie and Grace, that we'll never have to worry about whether or not we can love them enough."
"That's true." She said, nodding seriously.
"I love you," he whispered, kissing her jaw gently.
"I love you too," she whispered, turning around and kissing his lips softly.
"If you want to do this, we'll do this." He assured.
She managed a grateful smile. "Thanks."
"Hey, I'd give you the world if I could."
"I don't want it, Jack." She said, seriously. "But I do want you, and I want to be the center of your world."
"You've got me now," he whispered, nibbling at her lips. "And you've been the center of my world for more than a decade now."
"Yeah," she whispered as she felt her heart melt as he held her in his arms and kissed her with the fire of passion and tenderness of love.