Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters belong to MGM. I just like to poke at them.
A/N: This story is a sort-of sequel to "Zingy," but reading it first is optional. This takes place in 2010. I am not an SGU fan (and, in fact, prefer to pretend it doesn't exist), so I've basically disregarded anything it made canon. Guys, I just really wanted to give Jack a dog.
He was down to beer and mustard again. Major General (Retired) Jack O'Neill regarded the contents of his fridge in resignation. She'd been gone a month. He knew this without looking at the calendar, because that's how long it took him to go through their groceries on his own (he'd restocked the beer). Two years of marriage and nearly that long of her commanding an intergalactic battleship had taught him to calculate the time in this way. They'd both spent so much time in mess halls that grocery shopping together had become a true pleasure, and a tradition—it was the last thing they did before going home the night before she shipped out.
It wasn't as if he was entirely without contact with her while she was gone. So long as she was in the Milky Way galaxy, the USS Hammond could receive messages, and when it was in orbit there was even some visiting back and forth (not strictly by-the-book, but he was a retired Air Force general and still retained Expert Civilian Consultant status with the Pentagon). All the same, it was a long time to go without his Sam.
The irony was that they had spent years alongside one another day in and day out, seeing more of each other and the two other members of their team than anyone else. But as soon as they were finally able to come clean about their feelings for one another, she was offered the captaincy of the USS Hammond, something she absolutely could not refuse. He would have fought her if she'd tried. The results were months of separation followed by weeks of being inseparable. If it was all he could have of her, he would take it.
But it made for some lonely dinners.
His cell phone jingled in his pocket, and he dug it out. He'd yet to upgrade from a flip phone, which caused Carter-the-tech-geek no end of amusement.
"Yup," he answered.
"Jack? That you?"
"Were you expecting someone else, Daniel?"
"Ah, no, sorry. Vala's giving Catherine a bath and it got a little loud."
There was nothing like a mention of his former team member's daughter to distract Jack from any desire to antagonize Daniel. The little girl, named for Catherine Langford, the woman responsible for recruiting Daniel into the Stargate program, was nearing her second birthday and already proving to be as much of a hellion as her mother. "How's she doing?"
"Oh, fine. Listen, are you still coming over for dinner on Friday?"
"Yes, Daniel. I think I established that when you called yesterday."
"Sorry, sorry. Catta's been asking about it all evening, and the only way to get her to stop was to promise her I'd call." Jack could hear Daniel's wife, Vala's, voice in the background. "Hold on, she's asking again. I'm gonna put you on speaker. Okay, go."
Jack cleared his throat. "Heya, kiddo. Lookin' forward to seeing you Friday. Now be good for your mom and dad, okay?"
An incoherent cry that might have been "okay" was his response. "Thank you, Jack. See you Friday—oh, bring beer please!" Vala's voice came clear over the speakerphone.
"Thanks for that. Maybe now she'll go to sleep."
"You should get her a dog."
"You comin' over for T's movie night?" Teal'c would be visiting next week, for their regular man date of pizza and a movie (Teal'c was steadily making his way through every sci-fi movie ever made on Earth, and if he couldn't find something new it would be Star Wars. Again). Daniel and Cameron Mitchell sometimes joined them for that one. Cam had never been his teammate (he had, in fact, inherited Jack's team), but he was a good guy. Usually backed Jack up against Daniel, which was about the only thing one could ask for in a friend.
"Not sure. Vala's off-world that day, so if she's back on schedule, I should be there. I'll call you if I'm on dad duty."
"Sounds good. See ya Friday regardless. I'm gonna go get dinner."
"Okie dokie. Got plans?"
Jack glanced down at the Chinese take-out menu he'd pulled out during the conversation. "Sure."
Jack heard a muffled crash from Daniel's side of the conversation. "Crap. Gotta go." He hung up.
"Bye," Jack said to the dial tone. Proximity to their friends had been one of the primary reasons he and Sam had settled in Colorado Springs. They'd bought a new place together—he'd sold his house when he'd moved to Washington, DC to head up Homeworld Security and Sam had sold hers when she moved to the Pegasus Galaxy. He'd kept an apartment in the DC area for the odd occasion when he was called into the Pentagon, and wondered idly if Sam still had access to her quarters on Atlantis. Now that would be a fun vacation.
Jack realized he'd been starring at a Chinese menu and woolgathering for twenty minutes. What he needed to do was go to the grocery store, but even the thought of it made his chest ache. For cryin' out loud, O'Neill. Of all things to get sappy about.
Enough was enough. He firmed his chin, grabbed the keys to his truck, and arrived at the front door, just as the doorbell rang. He pulled open the door just as Cassandra Frasier raised her fist to knock.
"Cassie! Whatcha doing here?"
"Thought you might be hungry." She nodded at the paper bags at her feet, and Jack could see milk, eggs, bread, and yes—more beer.
"Uh, yeah. I am. How'd you know?"
Cassie smiled slightly. "It's been a month," she said simply.
"Ah. Well, come on in, kiddo. I'll make you dinner."
Between the two of them, they got everything put away. Cassie, who was in med school in nearby Denver, was the other main reason he and Sam had chosen to live where they had. When Sam was home, Cassie was over for dinner all the time. She knew the kitchen as well as Jack.
"I assume Carter had something to do with this?"
"Why do you assume that? I might be psychic now."
Jack paused in pulling eggs out of the fridge. "Are you?"
Cassie laughed. "You don't know. I'm an alien."
"Ha ha, alien girl. How old are you now?"
"Plenty old enough for a beer omelet, soldier man."
"Well, they are my specialty."
"They're awful." Before Jack could retort, she laughed again. "I'll have two."
Jack pulled out other ingredients while Cassie popped the tops off of beers for both of them.
"How's doctor school treating you?"
"Not too bad. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Starting to think about how the residency's going to work. I wish I'd known this was what I wanted to do before I lost Mom. There are so many things I'd have asked her."
Jack looked up from the mushrooms he was chopping. Cassie had had trouble even mentioning her adopted mother for a long time after Janet Frasier's tragic death, but med school had actually seemed to smooth the rough edges of her grief. "Have you ever met Dr. Lam?" Cassie shook her head. "She's the current head doc at the SGC. I'm sure she'd be happy to give you some advice, if that sort of crazy medicine is what you're interested in."
Cassie shrugged ruefully. "Well, it would have to be, wouldn't it? I mean, I can never go through the gate, but it's about as close to my…well, roots, I guess you'd say, as I can get."
"Hey," Jack pointed his knife at her for emphasis, "you've got a long career ahead of you, kiddo. If off-world's where you want to be, then trust me, off-world's where you'll be."
"Maybe someday I'll be on the Hammond with Sam."
Jack smiled at her. "Now wouldn't that be a thing?"
Cassie cleared her throat. "So…there's another reason I dropped by."
"Did my wife have anything to do with this one?"
"She may have calculated the day you ran out of food, but this other thing is all me. Okay, I ran it by her, since it will affect her, too, but…I should probably just show you. Hold on a sec." She grabbed her car keys and headed back out the door. Jack cracked some eggs into a bowl, took a pull of beer from his bottle, and then tipped the rest of it into the bowl. He heard a soft clinking sound and glanced up, expecting to see Cassie.
"Well, hey there." The large German Shepherd sitting patiently in his kitchen thumped its tail in response.
Cassie came running up behind the dog. "Oh, here she is. She must have followed the scent of food."
Jack had knelt down to pet the dog. "Will she be joining us for dinner?"
"Well, that sort of depends on you, I guess." Jack glanced at her in question, but said nothing. Cassie sighed. "After Obi died, I always meant to get another dog. I mean, since it is the rule." When Cassie had accepted the puppy that Jack had given her, she'd asked the gang for the names of other people who weren't from the planet Earth. Teal'c, ever the fanboy, had immediately suggested the entire cast of Star Wars. Cassie had like Obi-Wan Kenobi best.
"It's a very important rule."
"Yes, well, med school. So I suggested to Sam that maybe you might like to have a dog to pal around with and maybe I could visit it on the weekend. Sam agreed, because you're apparently still terrible at locking doors?" Cassie wasn't sure what that was about, but Jack nodded sagely.
"So…what do you think? She's a rescue, but is super well trained. Her name is Lulu, but I think we'd better change it to Leia, don't you?"
"Must we?" Jack was using the tone of voice he usually reserved for Daniel, but he was still on the ground with the dog, who'd flopped over to give him easy access to her belly.
"Unless you know the name of another lady not from Earth—well, who isn't me. Please don't name the dog after me." She thought a moment. "Or Vala. Don't do that, either."
"What do you think, is Leia acceptable?" The dog who'd been Lulu thumped her tail enthusiastically. Jack sighed again. "Do you think she eats beer omelets?"
Cassie grinned. "I think she eats the dog food I have in the car. Oh, this is wonderful! You and Sam are going to love her. I'll be right back." She rushed out the door, again.
He'd always said he'd get a dog eventually, hadn't he? It hadn't been fair when he'd been off-world every other day, but he supposed a dog was a fine companion for a retired air force general who was only occasionally in Washington and frequently without his battleship captain wife. He scratched the dog under her collar, which was a cheery Air Force blue with gold stars, and noticed her tag. It read "Leia Carter O'Neill." He barked a laugh, and Leia barked back. "Yes, yes, I guess you're staying. We'll see what your…erm…mom has to say about all this."
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter wasn't sure what to expect when she beamed down from the Hammond into her own living room. It was late, so she wasn't surprised to find the house dark. Jack wasn't expecting her until tomorrow. She'd heard about Leia from Cassie, but Jack's messages had been amusingly empty of information about the dog. One had ended with "Dog can speak and shut up on command. Should have replaced Daniel with her years ago," and another with "Dog prefers bacon to kibble. Good taste." But aside from those tidbits, she was at a loss.
She peered around the room and noticed a large pillow on the floor where none had been before. That was her bed, she assumed. In the kitchen, a leash had been hung over the back of a chair. There was a large metal bowl on the wall next to the pantry, with a bucket of water sitting next to it. Sam supposed a large dog required a lot of water. The bucket was an inelegant solution, but it would do. But that was enough exploring in the dark. Sam wanted to see her husband.
Upstairs, a light was visible under the bedroom door, belying her initial assumption. Sam quietly opened the door and was met with two pairs of brown eyes peering at her from the bed.
"As you can see, you have been replaced." Jack was sitting up with a book in his hands. The dog was curled up next to his legs, completely taking up Sam's side of the bed.
"Oh yeah, that's gonna change." She approached slowly, but Leia stayed prone. Sam reached out a hand for the dog to sniff, which she did politely, wagging her tail. "Aren't you sweet," murmured Sam.
"Cassie chose well." There was a question in Jack's statement and Sam answered it with a glance.
"It really was her idea. But I'm glad she suggested it. We needed some company." Sam sank down on the bed and buried her hand in the dog's fur.
"I needed company, you mean." Sam simply looked at him. "You're not wrong. As you know," he grumbled. His wife chuckled.
"I wish I could be here and there at the same time. I love the Hammond and being out there, but I love you more and sometimes I wonder…is it worth it, Jack?"
"Carter." He rarely called her that these days, and then only for emphasis. "C'mon. It's totally worth it."
She laughed. There was a reason he was the man she'd chosen. She took her hand off the dog and reached it out to Jack. He grasped it warmly. "Have the others met her?"
"Oh, yeah. Teal'c was thrilled about the name. Did the toothy smile and everything. Said something about bringing the grandkids to meet her. I dunno, I'll let Landry wrestle with that one. Catta went ape for her and has apparently not shut up about getting a dog since." Jack couldn't keep the grin out of his voice. The man was one of his best friends, but the day he didn't find joy in bedeviling Daniel would be the day he died.
"Daniel and Vala?"
"Daniel is Daniel. Vala loved her."
"She is a very attractive dog."
"That must be it. Cassie's been by to visit and took her for a couple runs, which they both seem to like."
"Has she been fishing yet?"
"Nope. We were waiting for you."
Sam smiled up at him and squeezed the hand she held. "How about this weekend?"
"They've cut you loose already?" Sam was sometimes caught up in debriefings for days after returning to Earth.
She nodded. "I'm yours for the next two weeks."
"Well, Lt. Colonel Mrs. Carter O'Neill, you'd better rest up. We've got a lot of fishing ahead of us."
Sam sat up and rolled her shoulders. "Mmm, that sounds perfect." She glanced at the dog. "I assume she does have another place to sleep?"
Jack's voice changed to the one he'd used with marines back in his command days. "Leia, bed." The dog obediently hopped off the bed and headed to a darkened corner of the room, where she curled up on a pillow Sam hadn't noticed.
"Good dog," she said. She rounded the bed to her husband, who was marking his place in the book, and leaned down to lay her lips on his. "Good Major General Mr. Carter O'Neill." He knew she was exhausted, but there was a flattering amount of hunger in her warm kiss.
She walked into the bathroom and he could hear the shower running. He tossed his book on the bedside table and rested his head on the headboard. Was it really worth it? Did the weeks she was home really make up for the months she was gone? She was seeing the universe and he was absolutely the last person who would begrudge her that.
The shower cut out, and Sam emerged wearing a towel. She didn't even bother with a nightshirt, just tossed back the covers on her side of the bed and crawled in, towel and all. "C'mere," he said, and she snuggled in next to him. Seconds later, she was asleep. Jack touched the wet ends of her long hair. Okay, yes, the hours sucked. But in the end, any discomfort was worth the chance to spend the rest of his life with her. They'd go fishing. They'd be fine.
Leia, sprawled in her bed, snored loudly.
All of them.