Title: Valentine's in DC
Sequel to: "Christmas at the Cabin"
Theme: Valenship 2012
Category: AU, Romance, Family
Season: post Continuum/SGU
Pairing: S/J established
Summary: Jack plans a romantic Valentine's Day to surprise his wife. Sam, who is at home with her family on leave, is caught off guard by the date and hasn't gotten him anything. Or has she?
Disclaimer: see profile
A/N: This is the first sequel of many to Christmas at the Cabin in the GW S/J Shippy Holiday series, but they can all stand alone; it's not necessary to read the prequel if you don't want to. I don't have a beta, so any mistakes are my own. I always appreciate feedback and/or constructive criticism or just a comment to let me know why you (don't) like it.
February 13, 2012
Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill strolled down the corridors of the Pentagon, his winter coat and scarf hanging over his left arm, one hand holding his visor cap and the other firmly clasped his daughter's hand. He had hoped to get off work earlier today because he still had some last minute shopping to do and Gracie had been waiting for him, but unfortunately the meeting with the IOA had run late. Luckily his assistant had managed to order everything he needed and had it delivered to the Pentagon, now he just had to pick it up before they could go home. "When's the last time you had something to eat, munchkin?"
Gracie shrugged and looked around the large hall. "I didn't know there was McDonald's at your work, Daddy."
He chuckled softly at the awe in her tone. "Are you hungry?" She took after Sam in that she always got distracted with whatever she was doing or what was around her, and forgot to eat or drink unless she was reminded. "It might be a while before dinner with all the traffic."
"Okay," she smiled at him. "Why didn't Mommy come with us?"
"She had to catch up on some sleep and had some phone calls to make." Jack steered them to Dunkin' Donuts, taking her purple coat with a scarf stuffed into its sleeve to place it over his own. He lifted her up on his left arm, on top of their coats to prevent her getting lost in the crowd of people. He smiled as Gracie immediately wrapped her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder since she usually argued she wasn't a baby anymore when he carried her. But he'd rather be safe than sorry; he was actually a bit surprised at the number of people milling about seeing as how he usually worked much longer hours and more or less expected other people did the same.
Then again the people at the SGC and Homeworld Command were probably all workaholics and with good reason, considering their line of work. His old team, SG-1, was one of the worst, especially Daniel and Carter. Even now, after they'd all moved on from SG-1 Sam was still working her sweet six off; first a year on Atlantis, then nearly a year back on Earth in DC before she was reassigned to take command of her ship. On both Atlantis and Hammond she had literally lived at her job and there was only so much spare time you could get when everyone knows you're around there somewhere anyway. He'd had the same thing with the SGC, only back then he had managed to quickly drive himself back home after a long day.
Gracie looked up at him after he'd placed an order and bit her lip. "Why's Mommy so tired?"
"Because she works very hard, sweetie," he replied, paying the man behind the register and moving to a table to set down their things. "Here, eat your donut," he handed it to her. There wasn't much time left before the shops would close, so he decided they might as well put on their coats and scarves as he took a bite of his own donut.
"She doesn't sleep?" She gasped, wide-eyed as he put her down.
Jack chuckled and ruffled her hair. "She's kinda like Uncle Daniel when she's working." Whenever Daniel would come over to visit or babysit he took books and whatnot with him to study when he had time on his hands and the archeologist usually ended up asleep on his books or laptop, which never failed to amuse Gracie. "Remember?"
"Yes!" Bobbing her head enthusiastically she giggled, nearly dropping her donut.
He smiled and grabbed her coat before taking Gracie's half-eaten, half-forgotten donut and rewrapping it. "Arms," he gestured with his hands and when she lifted them he slipped her purple coat on. "Chin up," he zipped her up before putting on his own coat. "Mommy works hard to keep us safe and when she comes back she needs to recharge at home, in her own bed. You always sleep better at home, don't you?" Jack asked, referring to the times they spent at the cabin, in Colorado or when she was sleeping over at a friend's house.
"Yeah sure you betcha," Gracie grinned. "'Cause there's no place like home!"
Jack laughed as she quoted their favorite movie and wrapped her scarf around her neck, making sure it would cover her skin as it was freezing outside. He slipped his own scarf on, placed her donut back in the bag and munched on his own. "Ready?" When she nodded he picked her up again and held her on his right arm. "Can you hold this, Munchkin?"
He handed her the bag with her donut, held his visor cap in his right hand and his partly eaten donut in his left. "Only two more stops and then we can go home."
Gracie leaned her head on his shoulder and slowly nodded, rubbing her cheek against his scarf. "Where to?"
"The Chocolatier and to pick up the deliveries," he explained, after taking a large bite from his donut. "For Mommy."
"Why?" She asked in a soft tone and rubbing her tired eyes with her free hand.
Jack briefly wondered if his daughter was the only kid who didn't get sugar highs as she yawned and cuddled closer. "For Valentine's Day, remember?" He'd had to explain all about the commercial holiday weeks ago as soon as all the stores started selling candy and hearts and Valentine's Day commercials popped up on television. When he turned his head to glance at her, he realized she'd fallen asleep and smiled softly. She was such a contradiction at times; happy and excited one moment and the next she'd fall asleep despite having just eaten half a donut. He stopped by a trashcan, ate the last of his own donut, tossed its wrapper out and took the bag from Gracie before she'd drop it. Reaching inside he took out a few napkins, cleaned his mouth and hands as best he could and wiped his daughter's mouth and cheeks too.
He smiled to himself as he discarded the used napkins, thinking about Sam and his surprise. She had come back Sunday afternoon and knowing her the way he did, he suspected she had totally lost track of time and had no idea it was Valentine's Day tomorrow. He didn't mind though, at least now he could surprise her with the chocolates, roses and diamond stud earrings he'd gotten for her, plus the fancy dinner. His ex-wife, Sara, used to complain about him not being very romantic and by the time he could finally call Sam his, he had decided that he wasn't going to ruin another relationship and would put in more effort. Surprisingly it all came very easy to him now and he wasn't sure if that was because he'd changed over the years, they'd waited so long before they could get together or maybe he was just getting sappy in his old age. Either way, he enjoyed surprising Sam because she would always get so flustered and grateful, almost as if she didn't think she deserved it – which was just ridiculous.
Sam looked up from her laptop when her husband walked into the living room and smiled warmly at him. "All done?"
"Yep," he grinned, plopping down on the other end of the sofa and lifting her feet into his lap. "I peeked into Gracie's room on my way down; she's out like a light."
"Good, she was exhausted and could barely keep her eyes open when I read her a bedtime story," she replied.
Jack nodded and ran a hand through his hair – still wet from his shower – as he leaned back against the couch. "She had a long day at school and then she had to wait for me at the Pentagon…"
"Yes, Grace mentioned something about that…" Sam let her voice trail off as she cast a glance at him, still wondering what they'd been up to after getting home so late. "What did you do?"
It was clear to her he was lying from his far too innocent expression so she closed her laptop, set it on the coffee table and moved over to him. Sat on her knees, she leaned against his side and used her hand to grab his chin, making him look at her. "Jack?"
"Sam," he smirked mischievously and brushed his fingers over her cheek, before pushing a lock of hair behind her ear. With a sigh he gave in. "Okay, fine. We stopped by Dunkin' Donuts, then I had to pick something up and we went home."
"Pick up what?" She asked. Her curiosity was piqued because she'd seen him with a small bag in his hands when he had come home but he'd quickly gone into the bedroom under the guise of getting his dress blues off. At the moment she hadn't really thought about it, mostly because their daughter had rushed inside like a tornado and started chattering about school. But now she realized the bag had been gone when he'd returned downstairs and he'd mentioned something about Gracie having a nap in the car – hence the energy – as she had been finishing up dinner.
Jack leaned forward, pressing his lips against hers and stealing a sweet kiss. "A delivery," he grinned, waggling his eyebrows. "I'll tell you tomorrow, okay?"
Sam frowned, wanting to know now but found herself nodding her assent when he shot her a pleading look. It was an odd request but she could wait another day. "Promise?"
"Yes Ma'am," he joked, pulling her against his side. "Now let's just enjoy the rest of the evening."
Snuggling closer to him, she rested her head on his shoulder and inhaled his familiar scent. "I'm glad to be home."
"Me too, Sam," he murmured, pressing a kiss on her head.
"I missed you guys," she continued, knowing he felt the same when his breath hitched for a moment and he squeezed her knee. The last time she had been home was around Christmas but ten days later she had already been back on her spaceship and now, another six weeks later she was back. "I have three weeks of leave." The comment was redundant because he knew that as well as she did, but he still nodded.
"I'm glad," Jack spoke softly. Then, in his typical fashion he tried to lighten the mood. "And I'm not just saying that because you cooked."
Sam snorted and playfully hit his chest. "You're such an ass."
"But seriously, Carter, dinner was great…"
Never having been very good at accepting compliments Sam just shrugged. She was well aware she wasn't the best chef but she could cook decent meals. When she'd still been single and on SG-1 she hadn't bothered most of the time because it had been too much effort or she'd had too little time to cook, but she didn't mind cooking for her family when Jack was working long hours and she was at home, on leave. After spending several weeks in space and eating nothing but ready-made commissary food it was actually quite relaxing to prepare her own meals. Lately her stomach had been a bit upset too and she figured it was down to the food aboard Hammond, something she was going to address in her upcoming meetings. "You're just saying that because you like the idea of me being the good housewife and having dinner ready when you come home," she teased.
"Housewife?" Jack turned to look at her with a raised brow. "Hell no! Then who would save the planet when it needs rescuing?" he grinned and caressed her cheek. "Trust me, I'd much rather do the cooking if it means I won't be responsible for the end of the world… but I'll be the first to admit I wouldn't mind having you around all the time instead of only seeing you every few weeks."
Seeing the sincerity in his dark eyes, she briefly closed hers. "I know," Sam whispered, locking her gaze on his and giving him a loving kiss. "It won't be forever…" They both knew that at the moment there simply wasn't a suitable assignment for her that would keep her in or around DC. Hell, at this point she would even take Nevada but she'd gotten her orders and, as head of HWC, Jack was perhaps even more aware of this than her.
What it came down to was that she was simply overqualified for other positions and while she loved commanding Hammond there were days – and even more so nights – aboard the ship when she would briefly wonder if it was all worth it, being away from her family so much after having waited eight years to be with Jack. Sometimes she thought it would be easier if she wasn't so damn good at her job. But then she'd feel guilty for being so selfish; service before self wasn't an empty motto and though she had never dreamed of the possibilities the Stargate had given them, protecting her country – now planets and galaxies too – was why she'd joined the Air Force to begin with.
Instead of giving her false hope he simply nodded in acknowledgment. "What were you doing when I came in earlier?"
"Catching up," Sam replied, jumping on the change of subject. "Personal emails mostly, news in general…"
"… and work?"
She could hear the knowing smirk in his voice and reluctantly admitted he knew her too well. "Just a few projects that I was asked to look at."
Jack leaned away from her slightly, to look her in the eye and gestured at the laptop. "You want to continue?"
"No, I can do it tomorrow after the debriefing at HWC."
"Want to watch a movie or something then?" He was already reaching for the remote as the words left his mouth.
Sam placed a hand on his arm, stopping his attempt. "Can we just… stay like this for a while?"
"Ah," he replied smugly as he settled back. "Colonel Samantha Carter-O'Neill, PhD wants to cuddle…"
Despite his teasing tone she knew he didn't mind, especially when he snuggled up and pulled her even closer. "I've never heard you complain," she retorted. "Besides, I'm not 'The Man' or the one with the hard-ass reputation, Lieutenant General O'Neill."
"No one would believe you if you told, Carter," he mock glared at her.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that after you dragged our daughter all over the Pentagon today," she giggled softly, turning her face into his neck and pressed a kiss against the tanned skin.
Jack growled lowly in defeat, before turning to her with a lopsided grin and standing up. "What do you say we move this cuddling to the bedroom, Mrs O'Neill?"
"Good idea," Sam replied, accepting his hand and letting him pull her up. Yesterday she'd been too tired to do anything more than snuggle up to him and sleep, but she had definitely missed him.
Jack was busy going over paperwork, hoping he would be able to finish most of it today before he left when a knock sounded on his door. "Enter."
"Hello Jack!" Daniel greeted him, smiling brightly.
"Hey Daniel," he grinned and gestured for him to sit. Shoving the file he'd been looking at to the side, he focused on his friend. "You're done early."
He shrugged and pointed over his shoulder. "I just finished up a few minutes ago. Is Sam here?"
"No, she left over an hour ago," Jack replied. "She wanted to be home for when Gracie gets out of school so she left the minute she was done with her debriefing."
"Oh," he frowned pensively. "How much longer are you going to be? I mean, I can wait and then we can drive back together."
Grimacing, he looked at the pile of paperwork next to him. "I'll be at least another hour, maybe two. Besides, Gracie will be home soon and we have to leave around 1800 hours to make it to the restaurant in time; if you go to my place now you can at least spend some time with Sam before you have to share her."
"Good point. Did you tell her I was coming?" Daniel asked in a worried tone.
"Yep, I told her on Sunday but she was dead on her feet at the time so I reminded her at lunch today."
The archeologist threw him a speculative look. "Does she know why?"
"Nah," Jack grinned. "I mentioned you were coming to DC for a few meetings here and that we thought it'd be nice if you would stay at our place because we don't know when we'll get to see each other again." He was pretty sure Sam had been a bit disappointed when she'd mumbled something about hoping it would be just the three of them, but he wouldn't share that with him. They all loved Daniel and he was always welcome; it was just because she had only been home for two days and adapting to their family life, instead of being the commander of her ship...
"Good," he bobbed his head. "Gracie?"
He smirked as he twirled a pen in his fingers. "Oh she knows, but I told her not to say anything to Sam because it's a surprise."
"Great, then I'll just get my stuff and go over to your place. Do you want me to have Sam get ready if you're going to be late?"
"No, I'll make sure to leave on time," Jack replied, scowling at the mountains of paperwork. "Even if I have to finish some of this tomorrow. Just catch up with Sam and entertain her until I can whisk her away for a romantic dinner."
Daniel smiled in understanding and got up. "I can do that!"
"Oh and Gracie needs a bath before she goes to bed," he reminded him. If he would leave it up to his daughter she probably wouldn't say a word about it until it was time to go to bed, just so she could stay up a bit longer and he was afraid it'd slip his mind tonight.
"Okay, I'll see you later Jack!"
"Hey Gracie, why don't you show me what you got for Christmas?" Daniel suggested after exchanging glances with Jack.
She jumped up from her mother's lap and smiled at him. "Okay!"
Jack grinned when his wife turned to him with a puzzled frown as the two went up the stairs to their daughter's room. "What?"
"What's going on? I saw that look between you and Daniel."
"Nothing," he replied as he ran a hand through his hair. He had run into more traffic than expected so he had only gotten home twenty minutes ago and barely made small talk, before he'd run upstairs for a quick shower. He had just gotten back, in his sweats before sending Daniel away with Gracie.
Sam sighed and rolled her eyes. "Fine, don't tell me. I'll just go see about dinner," she muttered, getting up from the couch.
Jack quickly dashed back to the front door where he'd left the flowers he'd gotten her. "Don't worry about dinner," he called out as he made his way to the kitchen.
"Why not?" She replied, turning to look at him as he joined her at the counter. "What are those?"
"Flowers," he replied with a frown. "I know I don't bring them home often enough but I would have thought you'd at least recognize them…"
Sam gave him her patented patient expression, one she often used in combination with 'with all due respect, Sir' and crossed her arms over her chest. "Why are you bringing me flowers? Does this have anything to do with that look between you and Daniel and that mysterious delivery from yesterday?"
"What did you do, Jack?"
"What?" His gleeful expression fell at her accusing tone and he dejectedly lowered the bouquet. Suddenly he wasn't so happy anymore that he'd been right about her losing track of the date. "It's for Valentine's, Carter."
Sam frowned, canting her head pensively. "What?"
"Happy Valentine's Day, Sam," Jack said brightly, despite the awkwardness and offered her the bouquet of roses again.
"It's not Valentine's yet," she countered, but automatically accepted the flowers. "Is it?"
He grinned at her befuddled expression and gave her a sweet kiss. "Yes, it is! Don't worry about it; it's okay," he hastened himself to say when she turned red with embarrassment. "I had more or less expected you not to remember, although I thought you might have realized it was the fourteenth today when you worked on your report or went to the debriefing."
"Oh… I'm so sorry, Jack! I-I didn't even get you anything."
"It's fine," he smirked and placed both hands on her shoulders. "Now, you go upstairs, take a shower and put on that sexy little black dress of yours because I've made dinner reservations."
Sam meekly let him steer her towards the stairs and automatically took two steps before turning back to him. "What about Gracie?"
"That's where Daniel comes in!"
"Oh! Right… Can you put these in water?" She awkwardly handed him the flowers back.
Jack nodded his head and made a shooing gesture with his hands. "Go, get ready! We leave in forty minutes." He made his way back to the kitchen and took care of the flowers. After five minutes he made his way upstairs, peeked inside Gracie's room and giving both occupants the thumbs up signal he moved to the master bedroom. Sam was already in the en suite bathroom and even though he knew she would usually take her time when she was preparing for a date, he still changed into his black trousers and sweater quickly.
Going to his side of the bed he pulled the earrings and chocolates he'd brought home for her yesterday out of his nightstand's drawer; he knew it wasn't a smart hiding place but at the same time he figured she wouldn't go looking in there. He pocketed the earrings and placed the box of exquisite chocolates – with his note attached – on the pillow and went back downstairs to make sure everything was ready.
Less than half an hour later Sam came downstairs, looking gorgeous in her little black dress and heels. Her long blond hair was reaching down her shoulders and she had some light makeup on her face. She was holding the box of chocolates in her hands but appeared to be deep in thought when she stopped in front of him in his chair.
"Wow, you look absolutely beautiful, Carter," he complimented her as he looked her up and down – twice.
She snapped out of her trance, held up the box and gave him a shy smile in thanks before placing it on the coffee table. "I'm late."
"No, you're not," he made a dismissive gesture with his hand.
Sam sat down on the sofa in front of him and focused on him with an intense look in her blue orbs. "No, Jack; I'm really late."
"Nah," he jerked his thumb in the direction of the clock. "See? Besides, we don't have to leave until 1800 hours so you can even say goodbye to Gracie and Daniel," he had the grace to blush, knowing she didn't like it when he lied about the time, but he didn't want to risk losing their reservations.
"Jack," she sighed, gnawing her lip and reaching for his hand. With their fingers interlaced, she glanced up at him from under her lashes. "Not that kind of late…"
"What other kind of la–Wait, what?" He jumped up from his chair and she followed his lead, coming to stand in front of him. "Are you saying you're-you're…?" He made a vague gesture at her body.
Sam looked at him with a pained expression and nodded slowly. "I think I'm pregnant."
"Oh crap!" Jack exclaimed as he turned around, running a frustrated hand through his hair. "Christ Sam… are you sure?" He asked as he swiveled back to face her, eyeing her abdomen warily. "I mean, how late are we talking here?"
She flushed even deeper and glanced away briefly. "Three, four weeks... Maybe five," she added when his eyes bored into her.
He covered his face with his hands and let out a deep breath. "You didn't realize this sooner? Never mind," he held up a hand, knowing it wouldn't have made a difference if she had found out a week or two earlier. "I thought you were on birth control?"
"I am," she said defensively. "We both know that's not a guarantee. Research has shown that the effectiveness of drugs declines in space so maybe that's why it didn't work, maybe it's my screwed up body chemistry or something else entirely… who knows? It doesn't really matter now anyway, does it?"
Jack nodded slowly, realizing she was right of course. Hell, she had been on birth control when she'd gotten pregnant with Gracie too and while it had been totally accidental – medication had interfered with her birth control – he'd been more than happy with the news. Back then he had immediately proposed and while she'd been wary of his motives he'd explained he had known for a long time he wanted to marry her even though they'd only been dating for a few months and that there was a reason he already had a ring; the news of the pregnancy had just moved everything along a bit quicker. "I'm sorry, it's just so unexpected. I mean, I didn't think we'd… you know, after Gracie?"
"Tell me about it," Sam groaned. "God Jack, I just turned forty-three; I'm too old to have another baby."
He snorted, shaking his head. "I'll be turning sixty this year, for crying out loud. If you're too old, then I'm ancient."
"Hey now, just because you have their gene…" she smiled weakly, trying to lighten the mood with a lame joke.
Jack grinned despite the seriousness of the situation and took a deep breath. "Okay, we just need to let this sink in. Let's go see Daniel and Gracie upstairs and then we'll go to the restaurant; maybe it'll seem less daunting on a full stomach."
"I don't know if I can eat anything, but you did go through all this trouble…" Sam mumbled, following him up the stairs to their daughter's bedroom. "I'm really sorry, Jack; I didn't realize until you mentioned the date and I checked my calendar after I put on my dress and makeup."
"Not your fault," he countered. After all, he'd been there as well! "But let's continue this at dinner; I really don't want to discuss this in front of Daniel and Gracie…"
It hadn't taken them long to say goodbye and they'd reached the restaurant in time after which they had been escorted to their table in a secluded little corner. They hadn't spoken a word since kissing Grace goodnight though, with the exception of greeting the staff here and ordering – she'd just picked the first thing on the Valentine's menu that sounded good. Sam was nervous as she sat across her husband and absentmindedly tore her paper napkin to pieces. Her inner turmoil made it hard to even swallow and her stomach was upset – or maybe that was the 'morning' sickness.
The realization that she was pregnant had come as a shock to her but now she finally understood why her stomach had been so upset lately and why she was so tired all the time; she had suspected it was because she hadn't been sleeping enough and that it had just been the space variant of a jetlag that kept her in bed for most of Sunday. Now the pieces all fell into place as she recalled it had been the same with Grace in her first trimester.
She felt stupid for not realizing it sooner and when she had been in the shower getting ready it suddenly hit her after processing that it was Valentine's Day today. As she'd been washing her hair she had tried to recall her last period and was mentally calculating the weeks, but even then she'd taken the time to get dressed, do her hair and makeup before she'd gotten up the courage to check her calendar. Even now she couldn't recall how she got downstairs but suddenly there she was and Jack was looking so excited for their night out. She had briefly entertained the notion of not telling him until after dinner, or maybe tomorrow after she had bought and done a pregnancy test, but she knew he would be upset if she kept it from him and she wasn't even sure if she could act like nothing was wrong.
What were they going to do? She hadn't been lying about feeling too old and if she were honest she hadn't thought about having another baby – they hadn't even really talked about having kids in the future when it turned out she was pregnant with Grace. She knew Jack hadn't been joking either; though the age difference between them had never bothered her she knew it had bothered him, especially when Grace came into their life. He never spoke much of Charlie but it didn't take a genius to figure out his late son would've already been an adult by now and that Jack probably thought the only babies that should be in his life at his age would be grandkids…
Plus, if she was pregnant – and she was pretty sure she was – they would never let her go back in space, not until after the baby was born. Could she even do that again? It had been hard enough when she'd had Grace and went back to SG-1 and a few weeks in she had already requested a transfer to HWC to work on General Vidrine's BC-304 Program and other research projects from DC, so she and Jack could be together with their baby. Gracie had been almost a year then but at least they had been able to move back and forth between DC and Colorado Springs at the time because of the Asgard's transportation device Thor had given them.
Then the promotion to full bird and command of Atlantis came… God, that had been the hardest year of her life. It had been difficult because Jack and their daughter were in DC and she was in another galaxy but they'd managed by her taking leave on Earth or Jack and Grace coming to Atlantis if she was unable to make it. But now she was basically doing tours in space and was only home for a week or so if she was lucky! Could she cope with that after the baby was born? Would it be fair to Jack? Again, he would be left holding the baby - literally!
Startled from her thoughts by Jack's hand on hers, she realized he and their waiter were both looking at her expectantly. "What?" Seeing the bottle in the waiter's hand, she shook put her hand over her wineglass. "Ah no, I don't think that's a good idea. Just some water please." She gave the man a small smile as he filled her glass and waited until he was gone to focus on her husband again.
"Are you okay?"
Sam nodded slowly, trying to muster up a smile. "Yes, just thinking. I'm sorry, you've gone through so much trouble and I-"
"I'll retire," Jack interrupted her in a determined voice.
"What?" She gasped, completely taken by surprise. "No, you can't!"
He frowned and squeezed her hand. "I can and I will."
"Jack, that isn't going to solve anything," Sam argued, frustrated by the situation.
"It does," he nodded to himself. "After your maternity leave you can go back to work and I'll stay at home with Gracie and the baby."
She shook her head, unwilling to let him make all the sacrifices. "No…"
All of a sudden Jack paled and let go of her hand as he leaned back in his chair. "Unless you-you really don't want this baby… I mean, I know it's not what we had planned but we can make it work, Carter," he sighed. Suddenly he looked older than when he had offered her the flowers and told her about the dinner. "But, I guess… I mean-it's your body and if you don't-"
"That's not what I meant, Jack," Sam said quickly, realizing what he was stammering about. "No, I could never do that. It's just that I don't know if I can do it all over again, you know?"
"So, I'll retire and you won't have to worry about anything," he replied. Reaching for her hand again he seemed to understand her fears and smiled gently. "I'm not saying it's going to be easy and if you don't want to keep… doing tours," he chose his words carefully and glanced around to see if anyone was listening in on their conversation. "You can always ask for reassignment."
Gnawing her lip and swirling the water in her glass, she thought about it, but it all came down to the same problem; she was still overqualified for other assignments. "But we both know they won't let me do something else, Jack. Maybe…" she swallowed hard, her eyes darting away for a moment before she looked back into his dark gaze. "Maybe I should resign."
"Hell no," he countered, already shaking his head in disagreement. "You're military through the core, Carter; it's in your blood. I'm already past the thirty-eight-years in service mark and you know the President only deferred my retirement because there wasn't anyone suitable to take over HWC at the time and we were dealing with enough enemies already. It's a lot quieter out there now…" Jack smiled slowly and looked at her with pride. "You know, by the time the baby is born it's been five years since your last promotion…"
Sam had been about to take a sip of water when he said that and quickly lowered her glass. "What? You know it's not that simple even if the President would consider promoting me," she said in a resigned tone. When he snorted she glared at him. "It's not funny, Jack. There are requirements and promotion boards, not to mention the limited number of vacancies."
Jack smirked, seemingly pleased with his ideas. "Please, the President loves you and you more than qualify after Atlantis and Hammond. So, I'll retire then Hank can get another star and take over HWC… I'm sure there's a one-star schmuck we can promote too and then you can get your star; problem with the vacancies solved and as a brigadier general you can take over the SGC for Hank. We can move back to Colorado Springs and if being a stay-at-home Dad is too boring I'm sure I can help out at the SGC, maybe give some classes or help out with the training scenarios for the recruits…" He winked at her and caressed her fingers. "I can be your advisor, personal assistant… love slave. Whatever you need, Carter!"
"My, that sounds interesting, Sir," she laughed. The moment was interrupted however when the waiter came back with their plates and they both focused on the food. Sam still wasn't hungry though and glanced back at Jack. "I have to admit your idea sounds good, but I can't ask you to retire."
"You're not asking, I'm offering," he countered in the same determined tone as before. "It's the best solution. And I won't deny that I'd rather spend my retirement in Colorado Springs than Washington DC. Changing schools might be a bit hard on Gracie first but most of our friends live there too."
She nodded slowly, still a bit reluctant at the idea. "Maybe, but we don't know if it's even possible."
Jack made a dismissive wave with his free hand as he took a bite from his food and shrugged at her. "Trust me; if we go to the President and tell him you're pregnant and that either he can let me retire, promote Hank and give you the SGC or you'll resign – and I might still retire then – I'm sure he'll see the benefits of our plan. I told you before, Carter; you're one of this country's national treasures and the Air Force doesn't want to lose you."
"Perhaps," Sam mumbled with a small frown. "But I would feel guilty about asking special treatment…"
"You'll get over it," he replied deadpan. "Look, there's nothing we can about it now. I'll check my schedule tomorrow to see when my next meeting with the President is and then we'll tell him, okay?" When she nodded, he breathed a sigh of relief. "Good, now let's eat something."
"I'm not very hungry," she said with a grimace as she continued to move the food around on her plate.
Jack's eyes fell on her, taking her in from head to toe as best he could from their seats and he grinned softly. "You have to think about the baby, Sam."
She nodded and took a bite, munching slowly before swallowing it. "I know." They continued to eat in silence until her stomach started rebelling and she shoved her plate to the side. "I'm stuffed, but it was delicious. Thank you, Jack. You've gone through so much trouble and I completely forgot!"
"Don't worry about it, I knew you wouldn't remember," he grinned. When the waiter came to take their plates they both leaned back in their chairs, but as soon as the man was gone Jack started shifting in his chair, even moving it closer to her. "As a matter of fact, I have something else for you."
Puzzled, Sam watched as he dug around in his pocket and, letting him take her hand, placed a box in her hand. At his silent urging she opened it and gasped. "Jack, they're beautiful!" She took another moment to admire them and with a big smile took the diamond stud earrings out of the box and put them in her ears. With one hand she pulled back her hair so he could see them clearly and with the other she caressed his cheek. "Thank you," she murmured, slipping her hand down to his neck and pulling him close for kiss. "I'm sorry," she said as she they broke apart and rested her forehead against his. "I didn't even get you anything."
Jack's face lit up with a big grin as his eyes dropped to her abdomen. Placing a hand on her still-taut stomach, he looked up. "I beg to differ, Carter."