A/N: And here is... the final chapter! Hope you all enjoy!
December 31, 2005
Carter-O'Neill residence, Washington DC
Jack walked out of the en suite bathroom with a towel in his hand and one around his hips. A grin slowly formed on his face when his eyes landed on Sam, who was bent over at the waist to blow-dry her long locks upside down. Obviously she hadn't heard or seen him yet because of the noise and her limited view. He continued toweling off his hair while enjoying the view and when he was done he stepped up to her, smirking and twisted the towel to flick her sweet six.
"Jack!" Sam yelped, jumping up and dropping the blow dryer the moment the towel connected with her jeans-clad behind. She glared at his reflection in the mirror in front of her but it didn't have the desired effect – he was still chuckling softly. It was tempting to steal the towel from him for payback but she knew it'd hurt much worse on bare flesh than clothes and she really didn't want to encourage his juvenile pranks right now. "Funny," she muttered instead as she rubbed her hand over the point of impact.
"Want me to kiss it better?" He suggested with waggling eyebrows as she moved to grab the hairdryer from the floor to resume her activities. Sneaking a hand around her waist he pulled her against his front. "Of course these would have to come off for me to reach it properly," Jack murmured in her ear, the fingers of his free hand playing with the waistband of her jeans.
Rolling her eyes, Sam pushed his wandering hand away to continue drying her hair. When she saw his crestfallen look reflected in the mirror, she took pity on him and lowered the blow dryer. "You can make it up to me," she replied as she turned around and pressed her lips against his. Their kiss deepened when his tongue sought entry into her mouth and she gladly complied. Moaning, Sam eventually broke off the kiss to catch her breath. She rested her head against his chest and listened to his racing heart. "Tonight," she promised, leaning back to look him in the eye. "When Mark's gone and Sasha is asleep, because I doubt my brother had this in mind when he offered to watch our daughter so we could shower and change."
"Who knows?" Jack teased with a twinkle in his eyes. "He's married, I'm sure he knows all about-"
"Ah!" She placed a hand over his mouth to stop him from talking. "I don't want to know or even think about that."
Jack pressed a kiss against the palm of her hand before pulling back. "Fine, I'll go shave and get dressed. I just couldn't resist when presented with an opportunity!"
Sam smiled softly and patiently waited for him to retreat to the bathroom before turning back to the mirror and turning the hairdryer back on. These days it seemed to take forever to get her hair dry and at times like this she missed her short hair, which only needed to be toweled dry. With a sigh she bent over again, letting her long locks fall down and used the appliance until her hair was nearly dry. Straightening up she combed her hands through her hair and, pleased with the results, turned off the blow dryer and put it away. A quick glance at the clock told her Jack would be back soon, so she decided to head downstairs already to join Mark and Sasha.
Carter-O'Neill residence, Washington DC
Sam was just finishing up in the kitchen when she heard heavy footsteps coming her way. Glancing over her shoulder confirmed it was her brother and she smiled hesitantly at him. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Mark shook his head as he stepped up to her and leaned against the counter. "I was just wondering if you needed any help."
"Ah, just like old times," she smirked. Seeing his confusion, she gestured towards the lunch she'd prepared. "After Mom died… you'd always only offer to help once I was nearly done. I guess you can get the drinks if you want."
He had the grace to blush and reached for cups in the cabinets, but the coffee wasn't done yet. "You've got a great kid, Sis."
"Yeah, I do, don't I?" Sam retorted, grinning like an idiot. "Thanks again for watching her earlier today."
"No problem," he shrugged it off. "She's an angel, didn't give me any trouble at all. You know, she looks just like you when you were a baby."
"She has Jack's hair color, though."
Mark frowned for a moment before gesturing towards the living room. "You don't have that old baby picture here, do you?" He didn't recall seeing it or any familiar pictures, really.
"No, I took it with me to Nevada and I think it's still boxed up," Sam explained, referring to the black and white picture she'd had in the living room of her old house. "I'm not even sure if those boxes are here already…"
"Well, I'm telling you she's your spitting image," he chuckled softly. "I'll bet she's got your brains too, she already has the same intelligent gaze with those big, blue eyes of hers."
"Oh, you have no idea," Jack chimed in, overhearing Mark's last words as he entered the kitchen. According to Thor Sasha had already been wise beyond her years before they'd managed to reverse the aging effect of the nanites and with parts of the Ancients' knowledge left in her head… well, he could only hope she'd have Carter's brains because there wasn't enough room for that in his, he'd already proven that – twice! "I'm starving," he added, reaching for the food on the counter.
Sam patiently rolled her eyes and handed him the platter. "You can set it on the table, we'll be right there."
Mark watched his brother-in-law, whistling an awfully familiar tune he couldn't quite place, go and turned back to his sister. "Sam," he placed a hand on her forearm, halting her movements and waited for her to look at him. "I know now that you're happy, with Jack and Sasha and I want you to… but, can I ask you one thing?"
"Sure… as long as it's not classified."
He shook his head slightly in denial and took a deep breath before continuing. "Jack told me you two have known each other for years… that he was your CO," Mark added, the term coming easily to him after his military upbringing.
"Yes, until he transferred here to DC after eight years," Sam confirmed hesitantly. She wondered where her brother was going with this, but she suspected it had something to do with her former fiancé and his friend.
"If I'm not mistaken that leaves less than two months between you breaking off your engagement to Pete and getting married to Jack…"
She sighed and looked him in the eye. "Just spit it out, Mark."
"Look," he held up his hands in a disarming manner at her slightly hostile tone. "The last time I was here I could tell Jack really cared about you and now… well, now that I've seen the two of you together and with Sasha, I see how happy you are and that you return Jack's feelings. It's just that I know you and you don't rush into things, so it makes me wonder why you got married so quickly."
"I love Jack," she smiled softly and ducked her head. It still felt strange to be able to say it aloud. "When our transfers came through we were aware there wasn't much time before we'd end up in the same chain of command again and we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together – I know that sounds sappy and cliché, but that's just how it feels."
Mark nodded, understanding what she was saying as he felt the same about his wife. "I get it, Sammie. But such feelings don't suddenly emerge after eight years," he added. He held up his hand when she opened her mouth to halt her reply. "I know you'd never go against the military's regulations, don't worry. But it does make me wonder where Pete fits into all of this."
Sam grimaced at his mention of the name and let out a deep sigh. "You're right," she mumbled, staring at the counter top. "I'm not sure when it happened but at one point I realized my feelings for him were… well, they weren't appropriate given our working relationship, our military ranks. Around the fourth year I realized he reciprocated and we, uh, admitted that we cared about each other a lot more than we were supposed to."
"Go on," Mark urged her when she fell silent. This was the most he'd ever heard her talk about her personal life and feelings; he didn't want her to shut down now. Even though it probably should, it didn't surprise him in the least that it took her – or Jack, from what he'd seen of the man – four years to admit she fell in love with someone… well, unattainable really. "Sammie?"
"Transferring out of the chain of command wasn't an option, so we basically ignored it and did our jobs," she shrugged casually, yet feeling anything but.
"You tried to move on," he suggested. "Date other people?"
Snorting, Sam shook her head in denial. "I didn't have much of a social life and spent a lot of time on base working, doing research, writing articles and working on my book or I took my bike and went for a trip. Two years ago something happened-"
"Your accident, when you got that concussion?"
She paused, the question bringing her up short before she remembered him calling her after she got back from being marooned on Prometheus and she'd blamed an accident on the concussion she had. "Right… anyway, it made me stop and think with all that time I had on my hands," she smirked at him, "and I realized nothing much had changed, except that people, friends of mine… they'd moved on and I didn't even know if Jack still felt the same way, we had become so adapt at hiding our feelings and not acting on them that I didn't know what I felt anymore. That was when I figured I should try to move on instead of using Jack as some sort of safe bet."
"And you finally took me up on my offer to set you up with a friend of mine," Mark finished for her, understanding dawning on him.
"I liked Pete, he made me feel things I hadn't felt in a long time and I never meant to hurt him," Sam continued. "I was fond of him but it moved too quickly. I wasn't sure if I was ready to get married-"
He chuckled softly as he poured the coffee. "It did take you two weeks to accept…"
"I know, it was… complicated," she frowned at the memory, remembering how she'd asked Jack's opinion about it only to be left wondering. "Then Pete bought a house without asking me and things were moving even faster, the wedding date rapidly approaching and more doubts were voiced in my mind. I still felt something for Jack," Sam finally admitted, blushing. "I went to talk to him, but then I got the call about Dad." She purposely left out the part where she'd been confronted with Jack moving on too, with Kerry Johnson.
Mark put sugar in his cup and squeezed his sister's hand in silent support. "It must have been hard for you, I would have come but-"
"It's okay," she interrupted him, blinking back tears at the image of her father lying in the SGC infirmary. "Jack and my other friends were there and I had a good talk with Dad before he died." Sam looked up at Mark and gave him a watery smile. "He told me to follow my heart and not to let rules stand in the way."
"He was a smart man," Jack chipped in as he leaned into the doorway. "So, Carter broke it off with Shanahan and we lived happily ever after," he quipped. "Is the coffee done? For a moment I thought the beans still had to be ground and the food is getting cold."
Carter-O'Neill residence, Washington DC
Mark was settled comfortably on the couch next to his sister after lunch with another cup of coffee before he had to go back to Pennsylvania, to join his family at the ski resort. Sam and her husband had taken the dishes to the kitchen, with Jack offering to clean up so Sam could spend some time with him. "So, do you have special plans for tonight? New Year's Eve," he added, when Sam stared at him.
"No," she shook her head and gestured towards Sasha across the room. "We're still adjusting and have finally settled into a routine that works last week, so nothing exciting. I'm more than happy for a quiet evening on the couch and heading to bed early. Daniel, a friend of ours, is coming over this week before he's going on his next assignment, eh, abroad and he's very… talkative."
Done in the kitchen, Jack walked into the room and overheard her last words. "He's exhausting; we'll need all the rest we can get before he gets here."
"Holy Hannah! Do you always sneak up on people like that?" Mark exclaimed, startled by Jack's sudden voice behind him.
"Years of training," Sam smirked.
Mark rolled his eyes and tried to ignore their amusement. "Well, I should probably get going soon," he muttered, before taking a sip of his coffee. "There's bound to be a lot of traffic and I don't want to be too late or the in-laws will start complaining."
"Relax," Jack made a dismissive wave at him. "You Carters are all so tense; you need to take some time to relax."
"Says the military guy," he countered.
"Hey, I'm just flying a desk these days! The only things that make me tense are slimy politicians that want to talk about budgets, campaigns and golf scores."
Mark chuckled softly, reminded of the higher ups at his firm. "You don't like golfing?"
"It's nice but you need enough… space to do it and I haven't been able to beat my record from a couple of years ago, when I was teaching our friend, Murray to golf," Jack replied with a small grin. "But nothing beats fishing!"
Sam nodded at her brother, while Jack went over to Sasha to pick her up. "Jack has a cabin in Minnesota where he likes to go fishing."
"We have a cabin in Minnesota," he corrected her and sat down in a chair to feed the baby.
"Oh, I lost track of time," she replied, glancing at the clock. Surprisingly Sasha hadn't even let them know she was hungry and Sam quickly moved to get up.
Jack held up his hand with a bottle in it and shook his head at her. "I told you, Carter, you can take it easy while I'm on paternity leave. Besides, I need the practice for when I'm finally allowed to retire."
"If you ask me you don't really need that much practice," Mark commented as he gestured towards the happy and comfortable little girl. "I've seen you with her today and yesterday, you're a natural Jack considering the short amount of time you two have had with Sasha so far. Trust me, I remember how awkward I was when Ryan was first born, wasn't that much better with Amy either in the beginning. Friends of Laura and mine have adopted and it certainly took them more than a few weeks to connect with their babies… not that I'm implying that's the same situation but if I understand it correctly you hardly had any time to bond or even prepare for Sasha's arrival… Unless of course you've done this before? I mean, are there more Jack O'Neill offspring out there? Older ones, perhaps going to college already?" Hearing a sharp intake of breath from his sister, he stopped rambling and looked from her to Jack. "What, is it something I said?"
"Ah, it's complicated," Sam after a moment of silence.
"Mark," she cut him off in her most commanding tone. But it was already too late, as Jack silently got up and walked out of the living room, smoothly adjusting his hold on Sasha in the meantime. "Damn," Sam muttered, shaking her head softly.
Mark was confused and looked at her for an explanation. "Sammie, what just happened? Was I right, does Jack have other children? Wow, I mean… well, I guess these days it's not that surprising. He's been married before, or-"
"Shut up," Sam hissed, grabbing his arm in a painful hold when he opened his mouth again. No wonder Daniel often reminded her of her brother… "It's a long story, okay?" When he simply raised his brows, probably afraid to speak, she let go of his arm and leaned back against the couch. She was just about to try and explain when Jack returned and walked straight up to Mark. "Jack?"
"Here," Jack held out his hand to his brother-in-law, while holding Sasha in the crook of his other arm still suckling on the bottle. "Take it."
Hesitating for a moment, Mark finally took the frame and turned it right side up. "I don't understand…"
"That's Charlie," he replied, as he sat down on Sam's other side. Adjusting his hold on Sasha he placed her in his other arm before resuming the bottle-feeding. "I was married a long time ago, before we," he jerked his head in Sam's direction, "knew each other. Sara, my ex-wife, and I had a son, Charlie. He accidentally shot himself with my gun; that's his last school picture."
"Oh my God," Mark muttered, looking at the smiling fair-haired child in the picture, before glancing back at the couple next to him. "I-I don't know what to say. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to bring up painful memories."
Jack shrugged, looking at his wife before staring off in the distance. "That's okay, you didn't know. Besides, there are good memories too," he added, the corner of his mouth lifting in the ghost of a smile. Shaking himself, he turned back to his brother-in-law. "I can understand if you're worried about Sa-"
"Don't," Sam interrupted him. She turned towards him and cupped his cheek. "It wasn't your fault and you're an amazing father, don't ever doubt that, Jack."
Mark looked the other way when his sister leaned into her husband and got up to give them some privacy. It wasn't long before he had to hit the road again, so he muttered an excuse about getting his luggage – he doubted they were listening – and went upstairs. It was clear to him now that he'd misjudged Jack and he was amazed the man was still sane after everything he'd gone through. Losing his son, then Sam got abducted and their baby had been missing. It was hard for him to imagine what it must have been like for his sister and brother-in-law, struggling with the amnesia and then finding out they had a baby and it was in enemy hands… he shuddered and quickly pushed it to the back of his mind. If anyone could handle it, he figured it would be the two of them. Mark was big enough to be able to admit it when he was wrong and it seemed like Jack and Sam really loved each other and, perhaps just as important, they complemented each other and had already lived through one of the worst imaginable scenarios and came out stronger.
He didn't know how they coped with it but it seemed like they had a handle on everything. It was one of the reasons he'd always admired his big sister and apparently she'd found the right guy to stand by her. Even if he was still a bit wary of Jack's obvious military past it made him happy that she had someone strong she could rely on. It was clear to him that the two's story about deep space radar telemetry was most likely a cover for something far more dangerous, but knowing that Sammie had a family to return to at the end of the day made him feel confident she'd do anything she could to keep herself safe, whatever it was she really did for a living.
After ten minutes he dropped his bags off at the door and peeked into the living room. Sammie and her husband were curled up on the couch, with Sasha asleep in their arms. "For what it's worth from what I've seen so far, I have to agree with Sam, Jack; you're a good guy and a great Dad."
"Uh, thanks," Jack mumbled, moving to get up.
"Don't get up on my account; I have to leave or I'll be late," Mark quickly said, walking towards them. He shook Jack's hand and leaned in to give Sammie and Sasha a kiss. "We'll call."
"Yes we will," Sam said confidently. "Give my love to Laura and the kids. Drive safely!"
"Will do, bye! With a small wave he moved, got his bags and coat and went out to his car.
Everything was going to be just fine and the new year would be off to a great start.
A/N: Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you liked this short sequel. Please let me know if you prefer the date, location, time for future fics or not. Oh and I totally forgot to thank everyone for nominating and/or voting for two of my fics for the GateFic Awards 2011 in the last chapter. They've both won in their respective categories, which was a pleasant surprise!