Warning: Another chapter that earns the story the "M" rating.
When I first suggested a family vacation Sam flipped her lid. I mean I suppose it was a little crazy. Especially since with a broken leg I can't actually help her with the driving. But, we could use a little break before we both head back to work next week. I've been working for the last three weeks of course, but only paperwork and I've been doing it at home. Sam thought my fear of computers was so ridiculous that her scoffing at it alone cured me. Sam's maternity leave is up. And when she goes back I'll be going back to the base, for another month of paperwork before this blasted cast comes off. Plus, I really want Dad to meet the kids, and although he sounds better (at least on the phone) I know he's probably not going to be coming to us.
"You sure she'll be ok?" Sam asks looking at Serendipity.
"There is a hospital only fifteen minutes from the cabin, Sam and she's been off antibiotics for a while. Besides, she's technically not a preemie anymore. Her due date was two weeks ago."
"I know, but…"
"You worry, I get it, we don't have to do this Sam."
"Family vacation," she smiles vaguely.
"You ever went on one, Carter?"
She shakes her head, "I guess the whole family vacation thing isn't quite as awesome when you are moving every couple of years."
"But our kids, they'll get this whole normal, family thing," she says with a smile.
Bill comes out of the cabin when he hears our wheels on the driveway.
"Grandpa?" Cassie asks.
He nods his head and she runs into his arms. A grin crosses his face, but it's one of those grins that's only in the mouth. Jack has that kind of grin sometimes, other times it's real.
I get out of the car and go to get Serendipity out of her car seat while Jack walks over to give his dad a hug.
"And this is the other one," Bill asks looking into my arms.
"Yep," Jack says practically bursting with pride.
"Wow, she's got hair!" he explains. That's people's most common comment when they see our little thing. She does have a lot of hair for a baby. It's gotten a lot lighter. She's going to be a blond just like her Mom. I just hope she never gets called a dumb blond like I did.
"Yeah, gorgeous," Jack says and he ruffles Cassie's hair as he says it, "both my girls are gorgeous." I love the way that Jack always includes Cassie in the things he says about Serendipity. No way the child could get jealous of the baby with Jack around.
Cassie pulls on his shirt making him lean down so he can hear her better. He grins as he stands back up, "that's right Cass, all three of my girls are gorgeous."
"Well, I think it's time for Dipity to have another meal," I say. The one day drive fest was transformed into a two day odyssey by the addition of two children. We had to stop every two to four hours or so to feed and change the baby and let Cassie out of the car.
Then, there was stopping to eat. Before, we just drove through a drive-through and called it good. But I've really been big on not letting Cassie eat fast food. Partly because, it would be quite a shock to her system considering the homemade food she's used to. Also, I've read enough to realize that fast food is an evil that is destroying our society as well as our health. Good enough for me, not good enough for my kid.
Also, fourteen hours is too long of a day with little kids, so we split the journey into two days and still I think the kids are pretty jetlagged.
"Ok, you go feed the baby, we'll get our stuff unloaded and then I'll show Cassie the lake."
"You know, Jack, you can feed Dipity, this time" I remind him. I'm going back to work next week, so we're getting Serendipity switched over to formula. Janet recommended a gradual switchover, and this next feeding is formula.
"Sweet," Jack says with a grin. He loves feeding Serendipity. He says it lets him have a closer relationship with his daughter. I can understand that. I've always thought that feeding my daughter was pretty much the most amazing experience ever. He reaches for the diaper bag. He's gotten really good at carrying things with crutches. But I decide that my carrying the kid in is going to be easier than rigging her up to the Mei Tai this time.
"Grab your bag, Cass," I tell her as she tries to run into the house without doing anything. I've been trying to teach her to be more responsible, but it's been an uphill battle.
Cassie goes back and grabs her suitcase with an eye roll she doesn't think I see and that I pretend that I don't see. Sometimes I'm just too tired to fight the battle. I grab my bag with my spare hand and Bill grabs a bag of food. Without being asked. I lay Dipity down on the couch with blankets on either side of her so she doesn't roll off. Then I show Cassie her bedroom and drop off the bag in mine. By the time I come back from the bedrooms Bill has half of the food bags unloaded. He's definitely doing better. He showered and cleaned the place up. Those two things could have been in preparation for us coming, but the cleaning looks like more than a superficial fixing up. Like anyone would do for company, not like someone who was starting with fifthly. It looks like…he's becoming functional again. As he opens up a cupboard and I see that there is actually food in them. Mostly canned chili, but still, that counts as cooking after a fashion.
After I'm done with the loads, I start working on setting up the portable crib. Cassie and Dipity will be sharing a room for the next week. It's not ideal. But Jack informed me that family vacations are not supposed to be ideal. "Go on and unpack, Sam, I've got this," he says.
"Thanks," I say kissing him on the cheek. He looks up with a startled expression on his face. Maybe I went too far with that.
"No problem Sam," he says.
Jack brings Dipity in from the kitchen using the Mei Tai after she's been fed. He spreads a blanket down on the floor and deposits Dipity on it, "tummy time, baby girl."
"Your dad seems to be doing well," I tell him.
He looks kind of uncomfortable.
"Don't you think so?" I ask.
"Yeah, look Dad didn't necessarily want me to share this with anyone, but he's…"
"Taking medicine?" I ask.
"You might have saved him."
"Let's talk about something else."
"Right, you probably feel like you're betraying some confidence here. Just know that you're a good man Jack O'Neill," I say kissing him.
After we've unpacked, I strap Dipity up in the Mei Tai. I've taken to wearing Dipity when Jack isn't. I like the feeling of having her close to me, especially when she's sleeping. Dipity really likes to sleep cuddled against one of us. I hope it isn't going to be too much of a shock for her when I go back to work. I didn't expect to feel guilty about going back to work. Amazing how different it is to have a baby than what I thought. Even with all the planning I did before the baby came.
Jack has a chair and a rod for each of us out on the dock. He put a worm on Cassie's hook in a way that she didn't have to see it, but left my worm for me to do. He knows both of us so well.
I reach over and grab Jack's hand; he turns and grins at me.
"What does hand holding mean?" Cassie asks.
"Love," Jack says.
We sit there fishing in the lake with no fish for the hours that remain before bedtime. I had a tiny warm baby curled onto my chest and there is laughter and jokes and love. And Bill is acting different, more I suspect like he used to act before he battled depression for the first time. I like this Bill. Not that I didn't like the other Bill. But this one is so much healthier, so much happier. I like family vacations.
The bed at the cabin is a full, a small feeling full, so we're practically on top of each other. Not that I'm complaining. I like cuddling.
"It's been six weeks since I had a baby," Sam whispers.
"I know," I say, not quite sure where she's going with this.
"You don't make a face when someone hugs you anymore, even when Cassie sort of slams into you. Your ribs must be better."
"Carter, you're going to have to give me a cheat sheet to this conversation."
She presses her body against me, inch for inch. She wraps an arm against me and starts nuzzling my neck.
"You sure Samantha?" I ask.
"Very sure," she says as she wraps her legs around me. I feel her wet and ready against me. I feel my temperature raising. I reach under the t-shirt she's wearing, one of mine, and stroke her heavy breast.
"Surer than that," she says rolling me under her. Her fingers run across me, barely touching me, bringing me into a state of arousal very quickly.
She guides me into her, and based on how quickly things have been going so far, I expect that this is going to be over fast. But as soon as I'm inside of her she does this thing where she squeezes tight around me. We are held in a perfect second.
"Jack, you make me feel so full, so fulfilled," she whispers.
As much as I'm enjoying this compliment in the first part I know that I have to deal with the deep issue in the second. Even though I'd rather not right now, when I've got so many glorious sensations distracting me.
I lean close and whisper in her hear, "Sam, you don't need a man to fulfill you. You're perfect. You're a genius, gorgeous, hilarious, brilliant."
I actually have more compliments for her, but she's whisper screaming my name, and spasming around me.
"God Jack," she whispers when laying on me spent a few minutes later.
"I think I need to talk more," I say.
She laughs, "You really believe all that stuff you said?"
"That and more, Samantha," I say rolling us over so we're both cuddling on our side, "You have to know how amazing you are. No one can make you whole, because you were born like that."
"I love you so much Jack," she says nuzzling her head into the crook of my neck. She kisses me, "I know you're not done, just give me a minute."
"Hey, Sam, I'm perfectly content with this…it was amazing from my end too."
"I lasted like eight seconds," she says with a laugh.
"Which to a guy is a compliment," I tell her.
She trails a hand down my belly in slow motions until she reaches lower. "Thought you were going to talk, Jack."
"Not sure I can when you're doing that," I mutter.
I smell and hear coffee perking in the kitchen. I hear the sound of eggs cracking, and frying up in a pan. Plates banging together. At first, I think its Dad; he's usually in charge of breakfast. But Dad went home a few days before the trip. I figure it's got to be Jack. But I roll over, and he's still there.
I'm really hoping it doesn't involve Cassie and hot surfaces.
I slip to the edge of the bed, and slip on pajama pants. Jack says I use them like a robe. I sleep in just a shirt and underwear, but wear pajama pants until I slip under the covers, and as soon as I crawl out of them. Since the baby came this has been a couple times a night, but I still can't stand to leave them on.
I head into the kitchen to see Bill cooking.
"Good morning," I say.
"It is," he responds handing me a cup of coffee.
"I'm glad you're…better," I offer. I know he probably doesn't want to talk about it, but I feel like he should know how happy I am.
"I'd forgotten how amazing the world was. It's been a long time…" he offers.
"I'm glad you're back in the world," I say giving him a hug.
Serendipity cries, "I'll be back to enjoy that coffee in a little bit," I tell Bill.
I pick up my daughter. It's a breastfeeding turn. It suddenly occurs to me that this is one of the last times I'll ever breastfeed her. There aren't any chairs and the only bed in the room is the one Cassie is sleeping on, so I sit down on the floor.
I watch Serendipity as she drinks. She's so perfect. I'm so lucky. I think back to what Jack said last night. I don't need someone to fulfill me. And that is something that I need to hear. Something I needed to believe. But it's not entirely true. I do need Jack to be whole and my two little girls too. But I also know…I don't need them like I've needed other people. My whole life I've been dependent on others. For approval, for affection, to tell me I'm good enough. But now I'm interdependent. I still rely on them, but they rely on me just as much. And one of my most desperate needs is to be needed. My daughter right now is relying on me for food. I'm going to miss this. This intimate way of meeting her needs.
I want to stay with her. Before she was born I thought I was going to miss working so much. But now that I have her, and have Cassie, I really don't want to go back to work. I'm going to miss so much. But I know I'm going back. I miss that too. It's complicated.
The world is so beautiful, Bill is right. And it's been a whole lot more beautiful in the last almost year that I've been part of a family again.
Cassie opens up her eyes, "Morning, Mom," she says with a tired smile and her eyes only half awake.
My heart soars. She's never called me that before, but I'm not sure if she's awake enough to mean it. "Morning Cass," I say.
She stretches and opens her eyes completely, "Geez, Mom, you could warn someone!"
She meant to call me Mom! "Sorry Cass, I thought you'd be used to this by now."
"Just think, in one more week I'll never have to see it again."
I try to hide the fact that that makes me a little sad.
"Are you going to miss being home with us?" Cassie asks.
"Yeah, I am sweetie," I say, "but I miss the Stargate too."
"You get both things this way," she says cheerfully. "You can go to other planets, and then at night you can come home to us."
"You're right, Cassie, I am one lucky woman. Now, your Grandpa is making breakfast, go and get some," I say giving her a nod, "We'll be in after your sister is done with her breakfast."
"You're missing breakfast," Sam says handing me a cup of coffee.
"You made breakfast already this morning?" I ask in sleepy shock.
"Your dad did," she says.
"What?" I ask.
"He thinks the world is wonderful, you did a good thing," she says grinning at me. I start to get out of the bed, "Jack, do you think the world is wonderful?" She rushes on even faster, "I mean…are you happy? I'm not talking about your depression right now. I mean this whole…family thing…how do you feel about it?"
"Sam, I can't believe you have to ask. It's…better than anything. I am happy. You make me happy. I love you, and I love our kids, and I wouldn't change it for anything."
"Ok, just checking. I wouldn't want my happiness to come at the price of yours," she says.
"Our happiness kind of goes together."
"That it does."
We walk out and sit down to a breakfast Dad prepared. I don't ever remember him making anything like that when we were growing up. It's probably a skill that he acquired in the decades since I knew him.
"So, Sam, I heard you're going back to work next week," Dad says.
"Yeah," she nods, "back to a front line team."
"SG-1," I say casually, even though this sort of borders on classified. But I'm not sure if she knows.
"No, Jack, SG-2," she says sounding confused.
"No, Sam, I told you when you went back to work you'd have your old job back."
"But Siler has been doing my job for awhile," she protests.
"He wants to go back to his old job. Major Ferretti is excited to get command of SG-1 and Casey, Vernon, and Coburn will be my team.
"Jack, can I speak to you in the bedroom for a minute?" she asks.
"Your food is going to get cold," I warn.
She just stands up and walks into the bedroom. I follow her.
"Jack, you can't do this," she says.
"Sam, your career is not suffering, because we had a baby. End of story."
"Yours shouldn't either," she says.
"I've had my whole career. I'm a Colonel; I'm probably going to retire a Colonel. You're a Captain who will probably retire as a General. You need this more. And every time SG-1 goes through the gate without an astrophysicist they risk never coming back. They need you."
"They need you too."
"Soldiers are a dime a dozen. They could find a hundred people to do my job. Hell, Sam you could do my job."
She shakes her head, "No, I couldn't even come close to doing it."
"Not yet, maybe, another year or two with that gate, and you'll be able to do it no problem. You need to do this for me…please.
"Thank you," she whispers giving me a hug. "Does…Hammond know?"
"Everyone does, I even though you did."
"I know you said that…months ago, but I thought, now that it was real…"
"SG-1, Samantha, that's yours."