Finding Life After

Chapter Three

Based on Stargate: SG-1

I've written all John's lines plainly (except for the first), because I really couldn't write them phonetically, so just use your imagination.

- . - - - . - 33 months Post-Earth

"Colonel Carter to the stargate. Colonel Carter to the stargate."

Sam looked up at the PA speaker, as if it was a person speaking to her.

"Mama, sta-gate. Mama, sta-gate," John parroted, looking up at her. She smiled at him.

"That's right, John." She squeezed his hand before picking him up and settling him on her hip. "Come on." They had been on their way to the mess hall for dinner, but it seemed as if it would have to wait. If the problem at the 'gate took too long, she'd ask someone to take John to dinner. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

When Sam arrived, the stargate was active, and defense teams were poised at the ready. She immediately regretted bringing John.

Sam quickly diverted into the small, protected building they had built around the DHD.

"What is it, Chief?"

Chief Harriman looked up at her. "We had an incoming wormhole a few minutes ago. We've been getting a signal, but no one has come through."

"What's the signal?" she asked, leaning over his shoulder to see him computer display. She shifted John on her hip and he clung a little tighter to her.

"The signal looks like it's coming from one of our GDOs, but it's not any valid code. It's just a series of numbers." He showed her the radio transmission.

"Which was?"

He hit a few controls and brought up the sequence. "Twelve, twenty nine, nineteen, and sixty eight."

Sam's heart skipped a beat. "Tell the teams to stand down, deactivate the pressure mines, and send a go ahead signal. Get Doctor Fraiser down here."

"Ma'am?"

She was already heading out of the room towards the 'gate. "December twenty ninth, nineteen sixty eight is my birthday. It's Colonel O'Neill." She stood at the bottom of the steps that lead to the 'gate, back about ten feet.

The event horizon shimmered and three men stepped through.

"Daddy!" John called out, recognizing Jack immediately. Sam was relieved that she exposed him to enough of Jack's image so that he could identify his own father.

All three men paused and stared at her. She wasn't quite sure what was most amazing: the fact that they were all finally together for the first time in two years, or the fact that she had a baby none of them knew about.

All three had what looked like a few days growth of facial hair. Teal'c had a scar across his forehead that ran into his primta, causing a noticeable gash. He had also had hair, which was more startling to her. Daniel had a cloth around his head, covering one eye. She wondered how long it had been that way, and if he would ever see normally again. Janet would take a look.

As for Jack, he looked alright; tired, but alright.

Sam finally found her voice. "Welcome home, SG-1."

They slowly walked towards her. Jack hung back almost a half step when they stopped in front of her.

Daniel threw his arms around her - and John - and hugged her tight. "It's good to see you again."

She hugged him back, with one arm. "I'm so glad you're okay."

He stepped back, giving Teal'c a turn. He embraced her as well. "Your presence warms my heart, Samantha Carter."

At first she didn't know how to react to that. Teal'c called her by her first name and was more than a little poetically sappy. "I missed you too, Teal'c," she finally settled on.

"Oh my god!"

Teal'c released Sam to see the commotion. It was Janet, obviously shocked to see the entirely of SG-1 for the first time in two years.

"Daniel! What happened to your eye?" Janet started poking around Daniel's head and motioned for one of the nurses to look at Teal'c. "Let's get you to the Infirmary." Janet paused and looked at Jack. "Sir, I'd like to look you over as well, when you have a moment."

He nodded, not taking his eyes off Sam.

"Daddy!" John exclaimed again, suddenly becoming very active. He wiggled in Sam's arms, almost jumping out of them.

Jack reached for him and held him tight, stepping close to Sam. "Hey, kiddo," he said softly.

"Daddy stay?" John asked.

Jack smiled softly. "Yeah. I'm gonna stay now." He put his other arm around Sam and pulled her tight. She wrapped both her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest.

After a very short while, she felt little fingers on her face. She opened her eyes and smiled at John. "It's dinner time, isn't it?"

"Yeah," he replied.

"How about we go with Daddy to see the Doc and then we can all have dinner together? Does that sound good?"

"Yeah," John replied again. Sam left John in Jack's arms and led them both towards the Infirmary.

Daniel and Teal'c were sitting on two of the beds in the Infirmary when they arrived. Janet was still tending to Daniel. She had removed his bandana to reveal an ugly looking scar. His eye was multiple colors, none of the ones it should have been. The skin around his eye was grossly disfigured. It almost looked like he had been burned. Other than that, Daniel looked alright. Definitely thinner and leaner, but alright.

A nurse was checking Teal'c's vitals. He looked generally alright. Sam guessed that he gained some weight in muscle mass, if that was possible.

Jack sat down on one of the beds, waiting his turn. After about four seconds, John started to get restless. Sam reached into her cargo pocket and pulled out a 3D wooden puzzle someone had whittled for John and handed it to him. Her pockets always seemed to be filled with things for him.

John started fiddling with it, trying to take it apart. Jack turned to John, asking the standard "Whatcha got there, kiddo?" Sam leaned against the adjacent bed and watched as her son tried to explain it to his father with his limited vocabulary and standard "two year old speech impediment". They played with it together for several minutes, first getting it apart then trying to rebuild it.

Janet came over, interrupting the fun. "Alright, Colonel, we're just going to do a quick once over here so you all can get a hot meal and good night's rest for a change."

"I would kill for a steak or a burger. Or a beer!"

Janet chuckled. "No beer, and base food is a little less American than it used to be, but the mess staff doesn't do half bad. Especially considering what they start with."

Sam reached to pick John up off the table, but Janet motioned her back. "He's fine," she said absent-mindedly as she stuck a thermometer in Jack's mouth.

John looked up from his toy to his father, and opened his mouth wide. "Me too," he said.

Janet laughed. "You need a check up too, Cadet O'Neill?" Janet asked with mock seriousness. John nodded. "Have you been spending time with less than reputable characters?" He nodded again. "Alright." She stuck a thermometer in his mouth as well.

Sam watched as Janet involved John in the routine check up, turning it into quite the experience for him. She had him inflate the blood pressure cuff, and listen to Jack's heart and lungs through the stethoscope. Sometimes Sam couldn't get over how darn cute her son was. He was always so amazed by everything around him. He had a wonderful disposition, no doubt due to the fact that he was the only child in this group and therefore everyone loved him and spoiled him beyond all reasoning.

Sure, there were several other couples now. After two years of being the last of a civilization, people were starting to recover from their losses and look forward to the future, but John was still the only child, and would be for some time.

She couldn't have been more pleased how well he and Jack were interacting. It was almost like Jack had never been gone.

After a few minutes of being idle, John got bored and fidgety again. Sam picked him up and kissed his cheek. "Mama," he whined.

"You're hungry, aren't you?" she asked in an understanding voice.

"Yeah," he whined again.

"I know, we're starting dinner late."

He whined a response and hugged her tighter, hiding his face.

"Sam, we're almost done here," Janet said. "Why don't you to head over the mess and I'll bring these three when we're done."

"Hear that?" Sam asked, twisting her body so she could see John's face. "Do you want to go get dinner now and Daddy, Daniel, Teal'c and Doc will join us soon?"

He nodded, still looking more than a little depressed.

"Say 'good bye.'"

John waved to them all, waving more to Jack, it seemed. "Bye Daddy."

Jack waved back with an innocent smile on his face. "Bye."

Sam and John headed over to the mess. Leaving him on her hip, she got a tray and some food for the both of them. Some fruit - home grown- the closest thing you could get to a barbeque pulled chicken sandwich as you could get without chicken or barbeque sauce, some home grown vegetables that were so like green beans even the botanists couldn't tell the difference, and a glass of juice for each of them.

She sat down at one of the tables and settled John in her lap. He immediately started towards one of the pieces of fruit. Sam cut him a small piece of sandwich for when he was done with his fruit.

He picked at his fruit a bit before moving on to his sandwich.

Just after they sat down, Janet came in followed by the rest of her team. Sam smiled and pointed at them, "Look."

John smiled and waved. "Daddy!"

Jack waved back with that same innocent smile on his face.

Sam had never seen him like this; Jack, happy. It was something about they way he looked at their son.

They all joined her with a tray of food of their own, Daniel's and Teal'c piled particularly high. Usually they had rations, but the mess staff was wise to ignore that point in their case. Jack sat down next to her, on the side John was sitting on. Daniel, his eye again covered by some bandages, took a large bite of his sandwich. "This is delicious," he said with a full mouth.

All three men ate a lot and quickly. It was obviously the first good meal they had all had in a while. Finally, taking a brake from his feast, Teal'c spoke. "Samantha Carter, what is the name of your son?"

Sam was taken back by the question. Jack didn't even know the name of his son yet. "John; short for Jonathan," she glanced at Jack with a soft smile.

Janet chuckled. "Several of the Marines just call him 'Little Jack.'"

"Me!" John piped up.

Everyone at the table shared a chuckle. Sam tickled him a little. "That's right, you."

"Done Mama," he said, up turning his hands to her.

"Alright. You can play, but don't go outside."

He responded with an okay before he toddled around the floor, and away from her. He wandered towards a group of airman, sitting and laughing on the other side of the mess hall. One of them picked him up and started to play with him.

Sam smiled before turning back to the rest of the table. "Story time?"

"Sam, I think you should start," Daniel offered.

"I guess I could tell you about how we've been developing our own culture here. How we've set up trade with numerous planets, started farming for ourselves as well as being a sort of private security firm to raise some revenue. We've replaced most of our tents with buildings, but right now we're focusing on irrigation and farming equipment for the crops. We've mined the stargate with de-activatable pressure mines in lieu on an iris. I could tell you a lot of things, but I'm sure that's not what you care about.

Sam glanced back at her son, her tone turning soft. "What can I say? Jack left the day after Goa'uld destroyed Earth. Eight months later, a little early, our son was born. And he is . . . smart, and curious, and fun, and happy, and he loves to giggle and play with anyone who can give him a minute, and he's everything to me."

Jack gently took her hand and squeezed it tight.

"He's sweet; a good lookin' kid, Sam," Daniel said with a soft smile. "Jack," he added almost as an afterthought.

"The child is most endearing," Teal'c added.

"Yeah, he's my baby." She squeezed Jack's hand. "Our baby." After a moment or two, Sam cleared her throat. "Daniel? Your turn."

He began his tale with he and Teal'c getting captured by Cronos. They were traded around for some time before having a pair of Tauri was simply a novelty. Due to the tastes of the Goa'uld, it was little less than a year after the planet was destroyed. After all, what good were famous warriors if their planet had already been destroyed? They had quickly been sold into slavery and changed hands a handful of times over a few months.

Teal'c took over the story for a moment. He had been sold to a man who ran a ring of death matches. The scar on his forehead was from one challenging opponent who had gotten quite close to taking Teal'c's life. However, his symbiote had prevented the wound from festering and threatening his life further. All the while he was fighting, he attempted to find Daniel, with little success. He wasn't even sure if they were on the same planet - which, in the end, it turned out that they weren't.

So he fought, attempting to earn freedom, or escape. He was paid a small wage, which most of the fighters spent of alcohol and women, but Teal'c frugally saved, in hopes that he could buy his freedom.

Daniel resumed. He had been enslaved to a land owner, as not quite a field hand, not quite a house servant. The mistress of the house enjoyed beating him. Once she got a little carried away and hit him across the face with a hot iron fire poker. It had caught his eye and festered. He had been sick with a fever for some time. Thankfully - though it didn't seem so at the time - it had healed, but left him blinded in that eye.

Jack took over the story with his long and arduous tale of searching. He had been all over the galaxy, at least twice, he claimed. He had stayed put for only as long as he had to, long enough to earn enough money or get enough information to move on. He had been a bar tender in a grimy trader and smuggler post for the better part of six months when he got a lead.

He finally found Teal'c and, between the two of them, they were able to buy his freedom. Then, they tried to find Daniel. Another three months of bar tending led to another clue and a long hunt until they finally found him. Showing up with weapons, they took him by force and made an escape.

For two days they traveled around, going through multiple stargates to multiple places, creating false leads where ever they could or had to. They knew they didn't want anyone following them back to camp . . . New Earth? . . . What were they calling this planet? After about a hour's rest, about as much as any of them could stand, they stepped through the stargate to what would become home.

About halfway through their story, personnel started coming in, hearing that SG-1 had finally returned. They all pulled up chairs and listened intently, many of them with dinner, or the remarkably sweet tea they had learned to brew. John wandered back over and crawled into Jack's lap, dozing lightly against his chest.

"Well, Sir," Major Tomlin, who had joined them in the middle of the story, said. "I think I speak for all of us when I say 'welcome home.'"

Jack rubbed John's back absent mindedly. "It's good to be home."

Noticing John was almost completely asleep, Sam stood. "I think it's time we all get some good sleep, don't you?"

Daniel's face lit up like a kid in a candy store. "That sounds like a wonderful idea."

"Let's go find Master Sergeant Gray, she can get you guys some clean clothes, toiletries, and linens," Janet said, standing as well.

"Come on, Little Man," Jack said to John, standing.

"No. Big," John said, almost too tired to keep his eyes open.

"Big?" Jack repeated.

"Big," John insisted, his head starting to bob from exhaustion.

"Alright, Big Man," Jack chuckled, "let's go."

The small crowd that had gathered broke up and Janet led Daniel and Teal'c out, Sam and Jack bringing up the rear. Master Sergeant Gray had already gotten things together for them, having heard of their arrival.

"You can either sleep in the barracks, or a tent to yourself. You can decide," she told them.

"Barracks," Teal'c and Daniel replied in unison, no doubt wanting to sleep in a warm, heated, dry building for once in a long time.

The Master Sergeant laughed. "Okay, then." She handed them both a small stack which included a towel, a pair of BDUs, linens, and a tooth brush. She handed a similar stack to Sam for Jack.

"Where'd you get this stuff? They don't exactly have a Public Exchange around here?" Jack asked.

Master Sergeant Gray laughed. "You'd be surprised to see some of the things we brought with us. You know we emptied out most of the base. Some items of note include 45 pounds of red skinned potatoes, which we promptly planted and continue to do well for us, 38 gallons of chocolate ice cream, which unfortunately is gone, six gross of boot socks, that was an overstock issue, and six pounds of paper clips, I really can't explain that one."

Jack nodded slowly. "I'd like to look at that supply list sometime," he said.

Gray smiled. "We tallied everything everyone had. Doctor Jackson, you'd be surprised the amount of literature we saved, on everyone's hard copies and e-readers. The list makes for good reading."

Everyone shared a chuckle and left. They paused right outside the building.

"How about we drop John off in bed and Janet can show you guys the barracks and the showers," Sam suggested.

"Ah! Showers!" Daniel released a groan. "Like real indoor plumbing?"

Janet chuckled. "Yes, Daniel, it's like it's the future."

They walked to Sam's tent where Sam and Jack switched his supplies for their son and she went inside, leaving Janet to take care of them.

- . -

A shower and a shave felt great. Jack kept running his hand along his jaw. Razors were a wonderful thing. Shaving with a straight blade wasn't too bad, after he learned not to cut himself on that little patch of skin behind his jaw, but there was a reason the safety razor had been invented. And soap. God bless the invention of soap. And clean clothes. Clean Earth clothes. New boots. Oh, it all felt wonderful. He felt like a human being again.

Teal'c had been in and out, shaving his face, putting on his new clothes and heading off directly to bed.

Daniel was lingering in the shower, enjoying the hot water. Janet had told them they were on water rations, though not strict, but told them to take as much time as they wanted. Jack called Daniel's name a minute ago, just to make sure he hadn't fallen asleep. He responded and said he was almost done, so Jack bid him goodnight and headed off to Sam's tent.

She was sitting on the edge of the bed, a real live wooden double bed (quite the upgrade from what they'd last shared together) staring at her feet.

He swallowed hard as he tied the tent shut behind him. She was wearing a pair of little teeny tiny shorts and a skivvy shirt. Apparently that's what she slept in. "Yowza" was probably the proper response, but he said nothing. He glanced towards the side of the tent curtained off. "He asleep?" He dropped his blouse on a chair and ran his fingers through his hair.

She nodded. "He was pretty out of it before we left the mess hall. He was practically asleep before we got his pajamas all the way on," she answered with a soft smile. Sam swung her feet around and wiggled underneath the covers.

"Feetie jamies?" he asked. For a brief second, an image of Charlie in a footed jumpsuit with airplanes on it cross his mind.

Sam laughed and shook her head. "Not quite, but he likes them."

He sat down on the other side of the bed and removed his boots and socks. He then stood up and shucked off his pants, leaving his boxers and skivvy shirt. Turning off the light, he slid into bed next to her. The bottom sheet was more like flannel than the cotton he was expecting and there was no top sheet, just a fleece blanket under a wool one. A standard scratchier-than-scratchy military issue wool blanket.

"Cold, Carter?" he asked.

She smiled softly through the darkness. "It gets cold at night this time of year."

"Oh." He laid back and took a deep breath. They lay there for a moment or two, in an almost comfortable silence. "Sam," he began.

"Don't." She propped herself up on one elbow and leaned over him. "Don't apologize."

"I should say something," he countered.

She was quiet for a moment, almost as if she was afraid to voice her next statement. "Say that you want us."

He closed his eyes. He had been gone for so long, and when he had left it wasn't as if they were had entered into some kind of permanent relationship - though he knew they would have. Now they had a kid. He wasn't at all surprised that she was a little needy.

"I want you," he said softly, but firmly, "both of you."

He saw her smile, and she rested her head on his chest. "That's exactly what I needed to hear." Jack wrapped his arms around her and placed a kiss on the top of her head.

"I love you," he said, not allowing her to stop him like she did the first and last time they had slept together.

"I love you, too" she responded, squeezing him ever so slightly.

He was sure he had fallen asleep, because he was sure the sound woke him. Jack lay silently, listening, holding Sam to his chest. He heard it again. It was John, he was restless. Sliding out from under Sam, he bit back a curse from the cold. She wasn't exaggerating about it getting cold at night. He slid his pants on and found his son, ready to wake up in tears.

Jack crouched down, "Hey, kiddo."

John looked up at him with big, tear-filled eyes. Brown eyes, he noticed, like him.

Jack scooped him up. "None of that," he said gently, "we don't want to wake up Mom, do we?"

John shook his head. He gripped Jack's shirt with one hand and stuck his other thumb in his mouth. Jack pulled John's fleece blanket off his bed and wrapped it around both their shoulders and stepped outside, hoping not to wake Sam.

"What's the matter?" Jack asked.

"Scary," the little boy muttered without taking his thumb from his mouth.

"You had a scary dream?"

John nodded.

Jack rubbed his back a little, looking around the darkened camp. He could see a few people on patrol, but it was otherwise quiet. "Yeah, I have those sometimes, too."

John looked at him with an expression that said really?

He nodded. "Yep. Do you know what I do when I have scary dreams?" John shook his head. "I remember that they're not real, and they can't hurt me. But I usually still feel bad. So, to make myself feel better, I think of you and your mom."

Okay, so that was a lie. He had always thought of Charlie - and Sam in recent years - but now that he knew about his second son, he would think about him after nightmares.

"So when you have a scary dream, you can remember that it's not real and it can't hurt you. And you can think about me and Mom, and how we will always be here to protect you from anything."

"Always?" John asked.

Jack smiled and kissed his forehead. "Always."

John dropped his thumb from his mouth and threw both arms around Jack's neck, holding him tight. Jack hugged his son tight. "How about we get some sleep?" Jack suggested.

"Yeah," John answered.

He carried his son back into their little tent as quietly as he could and tucked him in tightly. He kissed his forehead. "Goodnight, Son," he whispered.

"Goodnight, Daddy," John said in the closest thing to a whisper he could manage.

Jack ruffled his hair a little and turned back to the rest of the room. He shucked off his pants again and climbed back in next to Sam. She had kept the bed nice and warm.

"Everything okay?" she mumbled as he pulled her back to his chest.

"Bad dream, he's fine. Asleep."

She didn't answer, having already fallen back asleep.

It was then Jack realized, after Sam fell back asleep without a second thought, that for the first time in a very long time, he had a family, and he loved it.

- . - FIN - . -