TITLE: To Earn Freedom

AUTHOR: Sharim

EMAIL: MissSharim@yahoo.com.au

CATEGORY: Action, Angst, Drama, Adventure.

PAIRING: Sam/Jack, Other

SPOILERS: Minor for: Children of the Gods, In the Line of Duty, The Nox, Tok'ra I & II, Cold Lazarus, Pretense, Serpent Song, Forever in a Day,

SEASON / SEQUEL: Post Fair Game,

RATING: PG

CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence.

SUMMARY: Sometimes, the price of freedom is siding with the enemy.

STATUS: Working on it!

ARCHIVE: Sam and Jack, Heliopolis, My site (when I stop slacking off).

DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. We have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the authors. Not to be archived without permission of the authors.

A/N: So. This is it my fine feathered friends. ;) Thank you very much for all the feedback, hatemail and general comments ;) your response has been much appreciated. Please keep the reviews and feedback coming in! And now I can start writing on *other* fic again without having people threaten to kill me! ;)

Ps if anyone has forgotten what's happened or wants to read it from scratch, then www.fanfiction.net under 'sharim' would be the place to find it, seeing as my website no longer exists ~withering glares at topcities~



Chapter Twenty Five

"Easy, Sam, easy," Janet cautioned, an anxious hand fluttering to rest on Sam's sweaty skin.

"I'm. fine." Sam grunted, gritting her teeth and taking a shuddering breath.

"You're almost there," Janet coaxed.

"Damnit, Janet. I know. that!" Sam muttered, hoisting herself forwards again, her jaw clenched with effort.

"Two more steps, that's all." Janet continued, ignoring Sam's comment.

"Janet!" Sam snapped, her legs cramping beneath her weight. "Shut up!"

Biting her tongue, Janet forced herself to let go of Sam and to let her take the last few steps on her own.

A triumphant grin broke onto Sam's face as she placed one unsteady foot across the blue line. Her arms buckled and she slumped to the ground, breathing heavily.

"I did it!" she whispered, closing her eyes as a few stray tears squeezed between her eyelids. "I did it Janet, I walked!"

"I know," Janet grinned, dropping to her knees and gathering Sam in a hug. "I know. Soon you'll be walking everywhere again."

"Will it hurt like it does now?" Sam asked hesitantly, wriggling out of Janet's grasp and snagging her drink bottle with an outstretched finger.

Janet hesitated. Hurt. It still hurt. "Sam."

"It'll always hurt, won't it?" Sam closed her eyes, fighting disappointment.

"I don't know, Sam. You're recovering wonderfully. It normally takes months for people to be able to do what you've done in a few weeks. There's still time. Your muscles still have to adjust and the neural pathways are still recovering. Just remember that, Sam."

The door opened behind them and the Colonel stuck his head in around the corner.

"How's it going?" he asked conversationally.

"She's doing great, Sir. A few more weeks and I'd be willing to bet she's walking around with you again," Janet grinned at him, standing up and motioning for him to bring the wheelchair and to help lift Sam into it.

"Great," the Colonel grinned, effortlessly hoisting Sam back into her chair.

Janet narrowed her eyes, taking in her friend's thin, pale limbs. "Are you eating right?" Janet demanded.

Sam chuckled slightly. "You think the Colonel wouldn't tell you if I didn't eat all my dinner?" she pointed out.

True. Still, Sam was looking a bit.

"You worry too much, Janet," Sam chided, resting back in her chair. "I'm fine. It's all the exercise I'm doing that's shedding the pounds."

"All the exercise?" Janet raised an eyebrow. "What exactly do you two get up to in that house of yours?" she questioned dryly.

"I help Carter with her exercises, like you showed me!" O'Neill defended adamantly.

Janet grinned. "Sure, like that's all you get up to."

To her surprise, Sam blushed a fiery red and the Colonel almost choked on his laughter.

"You think me and Carter.?" He let the sentence trail off, amusement clearly present on his face. But there was something in his eyes, something sad and regretful.

Janet regretted her innuendo. She'd assumed, like everyone else, that they were more than friends. Obviously she was wrong.

"Sorry," she apologised awkwardly. "Ah. look, I've got to get going, I promised Cassie I'd be home to help her do her health project tonight and."

"Go, Janet, I'll be fine," Sam waved her off. "I have taken a shower before you know."

Janet hesitated.

"I do it all the time at home, Janet. It's not like the Colonel has to-" Sam stopped and snapped her mouth shut, once again blushing deeply.

"Oh, okay. I'll.I'll see you on Tuesday then."

"What about Saturday?" O'Neill frowned in confusion.

"Saturday?"

"The thing in the park. Remember?"

"What thing in what park?" Sam demanded curiously.

Oh yes. That thing. How could she have forgotten that? "Of course. Sorry, Sir, it just slipped my mind."

"That's cool," O'Neill grinned at her. "You go home now while I get Carter sorted out."

"Excuse me!" Sam interrupted.

"It's a surprise," the Colonel said patronisingly.

"Colonel!" Sam rolled her eyes. "You'd think I was his daughter the way he carries on," she muttered.

O'Neill grinned widely. "I'm old enough to be your Dad," he pointed out.

Surprisingly, a shadow crossed over Sam's face.

"Technically, Sir, only just biologically," Janet pointed out blithely as she gathered up her bags. "Realistically, no. You're not that much older than her."

They were both silent as she turned to face them again.

She smiled brightly and waved. "Bye."

"Bye," they both chorused.

Really, Janet mused as she jogged down the stairs of the USAF Academy Hospital and made her way to the parking lot, those two really should get their act together and get married.

~o0o~

Another quiet evening in the Carter and O'Neill household, Jack mused silently as he shifted on the couch. He shot a surreptitious glance at Carter; she was still reading the same page she'd been reading for the last twenty minutes. He wasn't stupid, he knew she could read quicker than that.

She looked up and caught his gaze on her, blushing slightly before turning back to her page.

It was weird tonight, Jack thought as he sighed and closed his eyes. Usually the TV was on, or the radio, or they sat and talked. Tonight there was a strained silence between them, hardly disguised by the poor guise of reading. She hadn't turned the page for almost 25 minutes now, and he hadn't even bothered to open his magazine.

There was a quiet rustle as she eventually turned the page, but he knew she was watching him. She always watched him when his eyes were closed, the same way she watched him when his eyes were closed.

"What's happening?" she asked eventually, her voice barely more than a reading.

He swallowed, and kept his eyes closed. "What do you mean?" He knew what she meant, but he'd damned if he acknowledged it.

"With. with us."

"Us?" he almost opened his eyes, but remembered at the last minute that he was going to keep them closed. That way, he wouldn't have to see the regret in her eyes again when she turned him down, or agreed again.

He heard her breath catch in her throat and he frowned. "Yes, Sir. Us."

Okay, so this was new. Now there was an 'us' again?

"I was never aware that there was an us," he drew out slowly.

"So.the cabin. you didn't mean any of that stuff?"

He opened his eyes, and then cursed himself inwardly. "So what if I did or didn't? It's over. A lot's happened since then, Carter, and what we both said up there never got taken further than the cabin. It just got left there, the way we left the fishing gear and the deck chairs up there."

The words hurt her, he realised suddenly, their bitterness slicing at her until he could see a tear shimmering in one eye.

He was bitter. He had a right to be bitter.

"I. do you still feel it?" she whispered.

"What does it matter if I do?" he demanded harshly. "Obviously there isn't going to be the type of 'us' we want. If there is, it would have happened a long time ago."

Why was he doing this? Why was he shooting her down, when she was clearly offering up an olive branch?

Because he was scared of her.

Scared of how much she hurt him the last time when she pushed him away. Scared of how much she meant to him. Scared of how much he cared about her.

Scared of getting hurt again. He'd been hurt too much already.

"What happened on Tollana?" she asked, breaking the deafening silence.

He sighed. She was going to ask him one day; he was just hoping it would have been later. Much later.

"Carter-"

"No, Sir. I want to know. I need to know."

"The Goa'uld attacked, and Teal'c died."

"That's not all that happened, and you know it," she shot back.

He sighed. No, there was more to it than that. "They wouldn't listen, Carter. We told them not to trust the Goa'uld, we told them that the ion cannons were targets. But they wouldn't believe us; they believe in themselves." Jack drew in a breath.

She'd been unconscious the whole time. She had no idea what slaughter the Tollans had gone through. She hadn't seen the merciless blasts raining down on the town while people ran screaming, their defences shattered.

"Teal'c and Lya tried to save an ion cannon, but. it was too late. There were gliders in the air already, and they took it out before Teal'c even got close to it."

"How did."

"He die?" Jack sighed. "When they blew the ion cannon the explosion was. he didn't stand a chance."

"He wasn't happy with us. With all of us," Carter said eventually. He looked over at her, and was horrified to see tears on her cheeks. Her eyes were closed, and she made no move to wipe the salty liquid from her skin. "He was disappointed with Daniel-"

"We were all disappointed by Daniel."

"-and with me."

Disappointed with Carter? That was news. "Why?"

"He thought our friendship was too important to let it just drift away like that. He said that. that. that it wasn't often you found family who weren't related by blood. It was a rare thing, and he was.upset."

She was crying openly now, curling up on the couch, her slowly recovering legs pulled up against her chest as she clutched at them and sobbed.

"We couldn't reason with him, Carter."

"I know. But. us too. He knew, Jack. He knew."

Jack. She called him Jack. She never called him Jack.

"What did he know?"

"He knew that I loved you, and he knew I was scared. He said I should take the risk.but. I couldn't, Jack. Not then, not while I wasn't whole."

He was over, sitting on the couch next to her before her sentence was finished, holding her tightly in his arms while she cried. She was grieving, Jack realised dumbly, grieving for a best friend who'd died six months earlier, for a lost friend, and for what they'd been through.

"Carter?"

She sniffed against him, her fingers digging into his skin as she held onto him.

"What I said, up at the cabin?"

Her whole body tensed up as she waited.

He brushed her cheek with his lips, letting the singular scent of her skin cloud his senses. His breath whispered across her ear. "I still mean it."

Her lips were soft and warm as they met his, the salty tang of her tears bitter against his lips while his hands slid over her hot, damp cheeks and brushed the tears from her face. She moaned against his lips, her hands crawling up his back and her fingers combing through his hair while he parted his lips.

She was soft and warm in his hold as he lowered her carefully onto the couch, kissing away the last salty tracks of her tears and stroking the soft skin of her cheek tenderly with his fingers.

Her eyes opened at last, and she looked up at him, her expression unreadable.

"Carter?" he whispered, drawing in a breath as she traced a gentle finger along his eyebrow, moving her legs against his.

"Sam," she whispered as her eyes fluttered closed and she searched his lips out for another kiss. "My name is Sam, Jack."

He pulled away again and smiled down, cradling her face between his hands, revelling in the feel of her body pressed against his. "I know, Carter."

She grinned and he kissed her again.

~o0o~

They were staring.

No just looking, not just sneaking peeks. Openly staring.

At them. At her and him: them.

Sam smiled smugly and snuggled back against his chest, resting her head on his shoulder and pressed against his neck.

"You're looking very pleased with yourself," he commented, bringing a hand up to rest on her throat.

She sighed in satisfaction and closed her eyes, pressing a quick, chaste kiss against his neck. "I know. I have a reason to be."

She could feel him smirking in her hair. "So you were impressed then?" he asked cheekily.

She sighed; if she let him get a big head now, she'd never hear the end of it. "Actually, Sir, it was a bit quick for me."

He snorted. "Quick? Carter, all night does not qualify as-" he swallowed roughly, his whole body stiffening behind her.

Lazily she opened her eyes, and then sat bolt upright, banging her head painfully on his jaw. "Dad!"

Her Dad was standing in front of them, staring down darkly at the Colonel.

"O'Neill, what the hell are you doing to my daughter?"

Guiltily the Colonel's hand dropped from her arms as though she was red hot to touch. Her Dad raised an eyebrow.

"Surprise," the Colonel said weakly, his breath brushing against her ear before he pulled away.

"Dad, what are you doing here?" she demanded, picking nervously at the grass.

"Surprise," her Dad repeated grimly. "George organised a visit for us. That was the surprise."

Oh.

Damn.

"Uh.how are you?"

"I'm fine. I heard you're doing better."

"Uh. yeah. Watch!" Proudly, anxiously and darn determined to get his attention away from this new and interesting situation with the Colonel, she carefully straightened her legs out on the grass in front of her, and wiggled her toes. Her muscles still ached and complained bitterly, cramping regularly, but she could move her lets, and she could feel. She could feel the cold leathery blades of grass scratching the back of her calves, feel the ant wandering across her foot, and she could move her legs.

He grinned at her proudly, crouching down to give her a hug.

Which brought him to eye-level with the Colonel again.

Uh oh.

He cleared his throat, and she recognised the look in his eye. She had to resist all temptations to yell for the Colonel to run as fast as he could. If her Dad had a shot gun handy she knew he wouldn't have hesitated to use it.

"Jack, what the hell are you doing with my daughter?" he asked again, his voice deceptively neutral.

"Ah.."

"Dad?" she interrupted again.

"Stay out of this Sam. If Jack has something to tell me, he doesn't need you putting ten syllable long words in his mouth."

Wow, that was harsh!

"Uh. General Carter."

"Didn't you used to call me Dad? Or Jacob even?"

She could feel the Colonel's unease and awkwardness from where he was sitting behind her, and she closed her eyes in sympathy.

"Okay then, *Dad*, Carter and I are. well. we're. We're getting married."

Sam blinked. They were?

"Since when?" Her voice chorused perfectly in tune and time with her father's.

"Uh. you will, won't you Carter?"

She grinned at him. "If you're still alive by the time my Dad's through with you, sure."

He glared at her before turning back to her Dad. Behind her Dad she could see both General Hammond and Janet grinning broadly at her, evidently having over heard the conversation.

"General Carter, Sir."

To her surprise, her Dad chuckled.

"Sir?"

"Dad?"

"I'm not stupid, Sam." He smiled then. "Selmak has been predicting it since we met you, and when the two of you were linked. well. It was inevitable."

Inevitable.

She liked the sound of that.

Grinning, she leant back against the Colonel's chest, sighing in satisfaction. "So, how long are you in town for?"

Her Dad dropped down onto the grass in front of them easily. "A few days."

"Great! That means you can see our house!" Sam enthused.

"You have a house already?" Jacob looked surprised.

"Yeah, we bought it a while ago, before the Tollana mission. We needed a place with ramps so Carter could use her chair."

"You've been living together?"

Sam hesitated. "I stayed with the Colonel because I needed someone to look after me, and we couldn't really be separated for long periods of time."

"Even on Earth?"

Sam blushed, and she knew that the Colonel was also turning slightly red. "No, not really. It doesn't really matter on earth, the distances are too small to really be significant."

Jacob grinned. "So I can still steal you away for a father-daughter break every now and then?"

She nodded. "Of course, Dad."

To her surprise, his eyes glistened. "Good."

"And I'll look after the kids while you're away," the Colonel promised.

"The kids?" Again, they had a father-daughter choir going.

"Sure. We're gonna have lots of kids. Of course, they'll all have your looks and brains, and my charm and personality."

~o0o~

Sighing, he adjusted the sunglasses perched on his nose and leant back on the bench.

He watched as they all laughed together, sprawled on the grass in the sunshine and enjoying one another's company.

His family.

He missed them, he really did.

Maybe one day he'd go back. Maybe one day he'd be welcomed into their lives again. Maybe one day he could forgive himself for what he'd done to her.

He watched as she stood up slowly, her face drawn tight in concentration and her fingers clutching tightly at the man's arms for support and balance.

She took a step, and beamed proudly as she sat back down.

She stared at him. She looked straight at him, her eyes wide and innocent. Her eyebrows furrowed in recognition and her lips parted, almost as though she was going to call out to him.

He stood up roughly and jammed his hands into his pockets before striding off down the path.

"Daniel!"

He ignored her call, increasing his pace.

"Daniel!"

Her call was fainter.

Not yet. Not yet, Sam, it was too soon to have her forgiveness.

A hand grabbed his arm and he turned to face the person it belonged to. Jacob Carter. Her father.

"What the hell are you doing Daniel?" he asked quietly, his eyes almost bemused as he gazed at him.

"Leaving. Or am I not allowed to do that?"

"She doesn't blame you, Daniel."

Daniel closed his eyes. "I know that, Jacob, I do. But right now.right now."

Footsteps.

And she was behind him, her eyes begging him to wait as she held tightly onto Jack's neck, his arms curled protectively around as he carried her towards him.

"Daniel, please!" she called.

He stood then, and waited as they approached.

Awkwardly they stood, the four of them uncomfortable in the silence.

"Where have you been?" she asked eventually.

He shrugged. Here and there, floating from one place to another, lost and agitated, reluctant to do anything.

"Why don't you come home?" she whispered, her voice strangled.

Home. Yes, it would be nice to go home.

But not yet. Not now, he wasn't ready.

"Maybe some day, Sam."

She looked like she was going to argue, and so did Jack. But she closed her mouth and placed a hand over Jack's, stopping him from arguing.

And he thanked her for it.

"Come and visit sometime, okay?" she said gently.

He nodded, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

"We're getting married," Jack added.

He smiled broadly at them, truly happy for them. "That's great. When's the big day?"

"Soon," Jack replied, shrugging. "You going to be my best man?"

Daniel hesitated. "I."

"For crying out loud, Daniel, just say yes!"

"I can't Jack. Not yet."

Jack didn't understand, and he made not pretence at understanding. Daniel understood that. Sam didn't understand either, but she was willing to let him go and wait for him.

Shrugging, Daniel turned to go.

"Daniel?" Sam called.

He turned to her, waiting for her to continue.

"I miss you."

He smiled and nodded, before turning and continuing down the path.

Yeah, he missed them too. But he couldn't go back yet. Not just yet. Maybe one day he'd go back and see them with their kids, watch them laugh and flirt with one another like they'd always done, be welcomed back into the family.

But right now he needed to go. He needed to go find his own family.

~o0o~

There ya are. Corny, I know, clich├ęd, I know, fluffy, I know. But so what. Thanks for reading it all and I'm glad you've enjoyed it.