The Conversation Continues by Su Freund
Summary: Sam's revelation that she's pregnant causes more turmoil and doubt
Rated: PG13
Genres: Angst, Romance
Original Archive Date: None
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 | Word count: 6243 | Completed: No | Published: Sep 04, 2009 | Updated: Sep 04, 2009 | Read: 2344
Story Notes: Sequel to Changing Conversations.

Spoilers for Threads and S8 in general, plus references to S9 spoiler rumours.

Eternal thanks to Bonnie for beta reading this fic and her many helpful suggestions that improved it for the better.
Chapter 1 by Su Freund
The Conversation Continues

"You knew in Washington, didn't you?" His tone was accusatory.

"Yes." Sam felt ashamed.

"And you never told me. Christ Sam! How could you do that? Probably worse, you came back here, putting your life at risk, and our baby's life too."

Pain hit him again full-force and he pushed her away, rising from the bed as he spoke, and reaching for his t-shirt and pants and getting dressed. Sam sat up.

"No, Jack, never that. Never! I haven't been on any missions. I've only gone through the gate to the Alpha Site. Gate travel won't hurt the baby, we know that now."

Jack wasn't listening and Sam could see he was devastated.

"You should have told me, damn you!"

"I know. I'm so sorry."

"Sorry? You think that cuts it? You don't even want it, do you?"

Sam was hurt that he believed that. Jack was reeling from the shock, the implications. What should have been a joyful occasion seemed bittersweet.

"That's not true! How could you think that?"

"What am I supposed to think? You left me in Washington without saying a word about something that we should share, as if somehow my opinion doesn't count for anything. I'm your husband, the father, for crying out loud! I thought you respected me more than that."

In his anger and pain he so nearly questioned that fact, that he was the father of the child, but deep down he didn't truly believe that Sam had been unfaithful. In that respect, and many others, he trusted Sam implicitly, and it would have been his irrationality talking. If he snapped that accusation at her he would live to regret it and they might never recover, so he bit his tongue, pleased that he retained a modicum of good sense. He needed that now if they were going to survive this testing time in their marriage.

"Respect you? Of course I respect you. Dammit, Jack I don't believe you just said that. You know better, know me better."

"Yeah? So why the hell didn't you tell me? Wanted to be alone to make up your mind whether to get rid of it?"

His tone was harsh and he was trying hard to calm down but finding it difficult. He simply could not understand why she had kept such a momentous thing from her own husband, the father of her baby. Why would he? She hadn't explained it to him yet. Sam badly wanted and needed to do that, if he would ever give her the chance.

She was stung and angered by his words, but held her temper. She was the one in the wrong here, and she knew it. Jack had a right to be angry. He was still recovering from the pain she had caused by their hurtful parting, and now she had given him cause to feel hurt and bewildered all the more, just as things had been going so well between them again. She took a deep breath, thinking about her words before she spoke.

"I had my reasons, none of which had anything to do with not respecting or loving you, or whether or not I wanted to have this baby. Maybe they were foolish reasons, illogical reasons, but it all seemed so logical and reasonable when I came back here. I do want this baby, Jack, and never doubted that for one minute. Please don't ever believe I don't want it. This is our baby, yours and mine. You think that isn't important to me? You think I don't want to start a family with you? I do, I really do." She was sobbing, upset that she'd hurt him, "Jack I want you to be the father of my children. I love you, you'll be a great dad, and I couldn't make a better choice." Now, she got up, reaching out to him, but he shied away. "You have to believe me."

"Then what? You blame me for that too? You're upset at the change it will bring to our lives? You think you'll have to give your life to our child, that this is the end of the career, freedom, everything?"

"Stop! All of those things, Jack, and more. I know I should have told you. Let's just say I'm a little hormonal and that isn't helping me think straight, and hasn't been for weeks. My emotions are up and down like your damned yo-yo. Don't be angry. I'm scared, Jack, don't you understand?"

"Scared?"

That confession shocked him. Sam was scared? Why? She never seemed to be scared of anything much, so the declaration caught him off guard. He knew he had to listen to her, be reasonable and give her a chance to explain it all to him. Clearly she was upset, and so was he, but he'd had experience of the cussed unreasonableness that could go hand in hand with pregnancy, and the wayward hormones that were a part of it. This was only the beginning. He could be in for a bumpy ride.

Briefly, he reflected on Sara's pregnancy and some of the arguments that had invoked. It had been worth every single one of them and, in the end, had brought them closer together, not driven them apart. So he started to soften, thinking he'd probably misjudged her, too quick to leap to wrong conclusions, still too raw from their recent problems.

Sam sensed the change and could see his internal struggle as he took some deep breaths, fighting to control his emotions and biting back the anger that still dwelled inside; opening himself up to reason. Recognising that this was an important moment for them, their relationship and the rest of their lives, he decided that if Sam said she was scared then he really ought to pay attention.

Sighing deeply as if in resignation, he leaned against the bedroom wall and slid down it to a crouch on the floor. Maintaining his physical distance from Sam, he eyed his wife expectantly, waiting for her explanation. He tilted his head against his hand, as if to cock an ear to hear her words.

His t-shirt had ridden up to expose his abdomen. If Sam had been in a better frame of mind she might have considered how unintentionally sexy her husband was. Most of the time Jack wasn't even aware of the effect he had on her. Under normal circumstances she might have gulped back the sudden thud of her heart beneath her breast, and the flip of her stomach in appreciation, but these were not normal circumstances.

The pose did not go unnoticed by his wife, she recognised that she needed to seize the chance he was giving her, but the raw sexuality that radiated from Jack in that moment was lost amongst more pressing concerns - the desire to mend what had so recently been broken.

"Yes, scared, Jack. Is that so hard to believe?"

"No, I guess not. Okay, I'm listening. What are you scared of?"

"Everything. This changes it all."

She was right, of course, and he began to appreciate what had happened between them and why. Her life had changed beyond her ability to control it. She had wanted him to love her enough to make them stay together, while also wanting to wrest back control of her life. She misread his desire to make her happy, not realising that he loved her so much more than that, enough to let her go if it would make her happy.

Somehow, to her it all seemed to be his fault. Maybe it was, but she was confused and frightened, her hormones playing havoc. Her logical mind told her one thing while her hormones and doubt told her something else.

"I think I understand. A little, anyway," he said reassuringly. "What do you want to do? I'll support you whatever. You know that, right? I'll always be here for you."

"I want everything, but know I can't have it all. That's what's tearing me apart."

She walked over, crouching alongside him and taking his hand, stroking his arm with her other hand and staring into his soulful dark eyes as if her actions would give comfort, which they did. It seemed that Jack was coming back to her and she knew in that moment that he would understand and accept. Reason was restored and, although it might not always be apparent, Jack was a reasonable man.

"Come, lie down with me? Cuddle me?" Her tone was a plea.

He nodded and let her lead him back to their bed where they spooned together, with Jack holding her in his arms.

"Tell me what you mean by wanting everything, Sam," he whispered in her ear.

"I want this baby, very much. I want us to be perfect parents, raising perfect kids in a perfect world."

"I guess that might be asking a little too much, but we can do our best. I want the chance to do my best this time. It's all any of us can do."

"I know. I'm being unreasonable. See, there's the hormones."

"Sam, should we have done, well, what we've just done?"

Jack was trying to recall how it had been when Sara was pregnant with Charlie. It was such a long time ago and he had missed so much of it that he couldn't quite remember.

"You mean have sex? Sure. We just have to be careful, choose our position, you know? Particularly as I get bigger. But that's another thing, you hear that women go off sex, the baby is a distraction, all that. I don't want to lose what we had, Jack. I want it to be just the two of us, enjoying each other's company. I want us to continue having great sex. I want all of that too. We've only been together such a very short time. We need more time for ourselves."

Jack knew from experience that some of what she feared was true. Things change so completely when you have a child. A baby disturbs the previous balance of a relationship, but that doesn't mean it is a bad thing. He had to convince her of that.

"It may not be just the two of us, Sam, but that doesn't mean we won't be happy or great together. Of course, this changes everything, but it just evolves us into something different."

"But we were so special and now we'll just be like everyone else."

"No, you're wrong. We'll still be special. All three of us."

"That would be nice, Jack, but I'll grow fat and horrible and you won't want me anymore. I won't be special to you."

"Now that's just being downright silly. You'll always be special. Besides, I love pregnant women. It's incredibly sexy."

"It is?"

"Oh yeah! You really think I won't find you desirable anymore? You're kidding, right? Sam, you are a very beautiful woman, but I love you for you. I love what is inside of you."

"That's cute."

"If you say so. It's also true." He paused, giving her a gentle squeeze, "What else do you want, Sam?"

"To have the career, stay at the SGC, lead the team, go on missions, spend lots of time in the lab, and enjoy what I do."

"Why can't you have that?"

"With a baby?"

"A baby has two parents, not just one. You aren't alone, you know, I'm with you every step of the way. Okay, I realise there are some things I can't do without you, but there's plenty I can do."

"You're in Washington."

"I don't have to be. I'll come home. I want to come home. I can retire. I'll bring up the kid while you go out there and save our asses from those pesky alien guys."

"I told you, I don't want us to have to give it all up. Neither of us."

"Well you were right about not being able to have everything, but I would give it all up for this. I was considering doing that just for the two of us, but for three of us? Try stopping me."

He stroked her stomach, wondering how he hadn't noticed she'd put on a little weight. Too preoccupied, he guessed, engrossed in his pain and sorrow, and with good reason.

"I'm going to be a dad. Do you realise how much that means to me?"

"A little bit, I think. It means a lot to me to be a mom, too. See, I want to be the perfect mom. How can I do that and leave my baby at home everyday to do my job?"

"Millions of women do that, Sam."

"Millions of women haven't got a job like mine."

"Yeah, admittedly you're pretty unique. I'm so lucky. All those millions of women and I met you. And then it turns out that you love me. What are the odds of that, huh?"

He kissed her shoulder and neck and Sam turned around in his arms to face him.

"I think I'm the lucky one, Jack." He could see tears in her eyes and bent to kiss her eyelids.

"Don't cry."

"I can't help it. Damned hormones! I'm not used to being this emotional. So there's another thing."

"It kind of suits you, although I love you just the way you were."

"There, you see, and I'm changing Jack."

"You think I won't love you anymore? Is that something else that scares you?"

"Yes."

"That ain't gonna happen."

"How do you know? It happens to other folks."

"I just know. I'm not going to let that happen to us. We're special, remember?"

"I know you are, but I'm still just plain old Sam Carter."

There it was, a plain and simple truth. Sam didn't believe that she was special any more than Jack thought he was. It came as a revelation and he wondered why he'd never considered it before. He'd always believed that Sam was the special one and that he wasn't good enough for her. She obviously thought the same thing about him. It provided Jack with a wholly different perspective on their relationship. She was vulnerable, just like him.

"And I'm just ordinary old Jack O'Neill," he said, keeping those thoughts to himself, "You are anything but plain or old, Sam."

"And you're anything but ordinary."

"Hey, you forgot the old." He prodded her playfully, a smile on his lips.

"No, I didn't," she giggled.

"Ouch!"

"Just kidding. In no way are you old, Jack O'Neill. You are one sexy hunk of a man: super fit, athletic, handsome, gorgeous actually, courageous and intelligent. I love you."

"But?"

"There are no buts."

"There's always a but."

"Not this time."

"Cool!"

They lay together in silence for a while before Sam spoke again.

"Jack, I'm so sorry. I've been such a fool. I should have talked to you about this a while ago."

"Yes, you should, but we'll survive. We'll be okay. You never have to do anything alone again, Sam. Tell me about our baby."

"I'm around three months pregnant."

"Whoa! Three months? You don't look it. Three months?" he was surprised and pondered that for a short while, "So another six and I'm a dad again, huh?"

"Yes. You always were great at the math," she teased and he laughed.

"Is everything okay with the baby?" he asked on a more serious note.

"Yes, Jack. Everything's fine."

"Great, that's great. Sex?"

"We've just had some."

"Oh, very funny, Sam. Isn't that my kind of lame joke?"

"Yeah, well you've taught me too well." She said with a grin and he cocked an eyebrow, trying to look innocent as if saying "Me? You're kidding, right?"

"I don't know the baby's sex yet," Sam continued, "Do we want to know? I'm not sure if I want to. Do you mind what sex it is?"

"God, no! I just wondered. I'm happy to be surprised. Boy, girl. I'll love him or her whatever. Have you got a photo? You know, from a scan or something?"

"I got one, yes. I'll show you. I'll go get."

"Later. Later will be okay." He wanted to keep talking, keep bringing them back together. "I'd like to see it. I'd like to hear it. I want to be there, Sam, for every appointment, scan, whatever. Can I be there?"

"Jack, you're the father, and my husband, of course I want you to be there."

"I've missed too much already."

"I'm so sorry."

She was, indeed, very sorry. Sam knew how much fatherhood would mean to Jack and yet she had shut him out of it altogether. Her own selfish concerns had caused her to push him away. She regretted that, but what was the point of regret?

All she could do now was make it up to him as much as possible. They had to move on with their lives and she wanted to move on with him, not without him. She wanted to be happy again and, despite her fears, knew Jack was a huge part of what would make her happy. She loved him so much that sometimes she wondered if it was too much.

Jack said nothing, a little upset that she hadn't told him before. He had sworn that, if and when Sam got pregnant, he would be there for everything. He had been powerless to do that when Sara was pregnant and had missed so much of it. Sam peered at his face, aware that he was upset.

"Jack, I really am sorry. How could I hurt you like that? How could I shut you out of something so important?"

"I know you're sorry. Yes, it hurts, Sam. It hurts that you didn't trust me enough to tell me; that you kept your fears a secret. Just don't shut me out anymore, right? I need to be there for this. Do you understand?"

"Yes. It wasn't anything to do with trust. I trust you completely Jack. Totally. You shouldn't believe I don't trust you anymore than you should believe I don't want this baby. I've just been scared and confused, that's all. I thought I should work it out on my own, but I was wrong. Maybe I'm just too used to being alone. Living together, marriage, it's such a huge adjustment. You've done it before and I haven't.

"Anyway, whatever stupid reasons I had, in reality I needed you to help me but I couldn't see that. I was too blinded by my own confused feelings to think about yours. It was selfish and cruel. You're my husband, the love of my life, and I want us to do this together. Tell me you believe that."

Jack peered at her silently and her lips briefly caressed his while her thumb gently stroked his cheek.

"Okay, I believe it." Staring into her eyes, he asked, "Am I really the love of your life?"

"Yes."

"That's pretty cool." A grin cracked his face wide open and he kissed her.

"Will you forgive me?" she asked.

"Sam, I love you. We can't live without forgiveness. I'll forgive you if you'll forgive me."

"Forgive you for what?"

"For whatever it was I did wrong. For all the things that made you scared and reluctant to talk to me about what was going on."

"I just told you, that was my fault."

"Was it? Maybe, or maybe the blame needs to be shared. I don't know. All I know is that we need to be together now. We need each other."

"Yes, Jack, I do need you."

"Me too."

Although he had been upset and angry, gone through emotional turmoil, now what Jack felt was a contentment that was dispersing those negative feelings. Sam loved him, needed him and was pregnant. He couldn't ask for anything more than that. He figured that his nightmares might fade again now. Life was getting back to normal, or his kind of normal.

Things had been difficult for the last few weeks or so. He believed that what had happened between he and Sam provided the opportunity for the nightmares to plague him again. They'd seen misery and self-torment and fed on that to make themselves stronger.

The worst, and ironic, thing was that she hadn't been there to hold him and help him make them go away. When they woke him up, he was alone, and empty, with nothing but the nightmares for company. Once upon a time he'd been used to that, but not since Sam. He had missed that so much: Sam holding him, comforting him, calming him, crying along with him and wiping away his tears. He shook those thoughts away with steely determination.
"Have I waited too long, Jack? Am I too old for this?" Sam nuzzled at her husband's neck, needing some reassurance and he gave her a comforting squeeze.

"You're not too old, honey. Is that bothering you too?"

"It worries me sometimes, I guess. That and we've been through so much shit over the years. No one really knows how everything that's happened might affect a baby."

"No one's given any indication anything's wrong, right?" he asked and Sam shook her head. "Sam, lots of women your age have perfectly healthy babies, don't they? Women that are way older than you, too. You've got nothing to worry about. You're probably a lot fitter and healthier than most of those women." He kissed her brow affectionately, "I can't deny you've been through a lot of crap, we all have, but you've always been given a clean bill of health."

"You think I'm overreacting?"

"I don't think you've got anything to worry about, but you aren't overreacting. That's normal, a symptom of pregnancy. Oy! I guess we'd better get used to it."

Sam chuckled, her mood lightened considerably by her husband's reassurances and support and they snuggled together quietly for a while until Jack spoke.

"So I guess when I go back to Washington I'd better sort it out pretty damned fast," he said, "I want to come back here real quick. Come back here and be with my wife and our future child. Maybe become a house husband and look after our baby when it's born so you can go universe trotting and get on with your career."

"A house husband? Are you serious?"

"Sure."

"Jack.!"

"I'm just saying it's an option. Not such a bad one, actually. You think I wouldn't want to do that? Sam, you are giving me the one thing in this universe that I might have wished for apart from you. You said it yourself, someone has to look after our baby."

"You'd really do that?"

"I just said so, didn't I? There might be other options. We'll talk about it some more when I know what those are, okay? I'm not letting you give up or spoil your work, or your career. No way!"

"Okay, we'll talk about it. Promise?"

"Yes, I promise. I'm not risking a repeat of this, Sam. Not our marriage, our love, nothing. It's too important and you are too important to me."

She softly stroked his face, wondering how she had managed to marry such a wonderful guy. What a very lucky woman she was to have this man in her life. He really would give it all up for her. Not many women could say that. She didn't want him to have to and hoped there might be a compromise solution that would suit them both.

For all his outward cockiness, and both inner and outer strength, Jack was insecure in so many ways, and Sam knew it. She also knew that her love, and their relationship, had helped lessen those insecurities, but over the last couple of weeks she'd done nothing but bring them all back to him. She hated herself for that. What had she done? Had she wrecked this wonderful thing they had together? She sincerely hoped not and vowed to make it up to him, believing she was already doing so.

Jack might think he was a liberated man, and in many ways he was, but he still liked to be the man; that meant be strong, protect, and try not to show his weaknesses. He was, however, coming round and revealing himself to her in a gradual kind of way. The insecurity was so obvious when you looked closely. Many people never bothered to look that close, but Sam did. She was his wife and loved him to pieces.

She pondered Jack's protective and self sacrificing nature, wondering whether loving someone so much that you would die in her place, which he would, or would rather die with her than without her, which he also would, was a weakness. If so, Jack was a very weak man indeed. In her opinion, of course, this was one of his strengths and one she had seen amply demonstrated during their years on SG-1.

How could she ever have doubted him? A surge of emotion ran through her at the thought and she fought to control it, struggling to keep her voice even and light-hearted.

"General Jack O'Neill, retired; house husband, huh? It has a ring to it," she said.

"Yeahsureyabetchya. I'll get cards printed," they both chuckled, "I'd probably love it."

"You might not like the mush for brains that motherhood apparently brings."

"That's surely something to do with the hormones. There's one thing I can't do for you, Sam, carry your hormones."

"I think being stuck at home all day with only a baby for company makes them mush, as well as the hormones."

"Well, as my brains couldn't get any mushier, I'm pretty safe." Jack joked and Sam giggled. "Besides, stuck at home, you're kidding, right? I can go to all those clinics and mother/baby groups and stuff. Just think of all those pregnant and hormonal women I'll have for company. Ummmm." He smiled dreamily, exaggerating his reaction to amuse her.

"Just make sure they don't become too close, mister," she kidded.

"As if. There's only one woman I want and she's right here."

"You'd better believe it!" Sam grinned and he returned the smile, but quickly turned more serious.

"You'd better believe it too. Never scare me like that again, Sam. I might have lost you. I've been so unhappy for the last few weeks."

"Me too. I'm so pleased you came. I really wished for you to. I wanted you to come here and tell me how much you love and need me, and sweep me off my feet."

"Hormones!" he commented, rolling his eyes, adding, "I did all that, didn't I?"

The question in his eyes held way more significance than the words on his lips, as if he needed reassurance that he'd met her needs.

"Yes you did all that; and more. Are we okay?"

"Yes, Sam, we're okay. We're great, and we're gonna stay great. We're gonna be the best parents in the world, just like you want to be."

"I'm beginning to believe that. With you, anything seems possible, Jack."

"That's one heck of a compliment." He blushed a tinge of pink and looked a little boyish.

"Well, I'm lucky enough to be married to one heck of a guy."

"Sweet!"

Jack was back to cocky again. Sam thought she'd never known so many different facets in just one, so called, simple man. So far, she loved nearly all of them, although there were the more irritating traits that she tried not to let irk her too much. Who doesn't have those?

They hugged with huge affection, happy to be together and at ease in each other's arms again. Jack felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders; they both did.

Sam was pissed with herself that she hadn't spoken to him about all of this before. He was there for her and she should have known he would be; she should have kept faith. It might have saved so much misery for both of them.

'I'm only human,' she thought, 'we both are. Nothing and no one is perfect and I'm a fool to even think that it might be, but this is pretty damned close to perfect. I love him so much, and I don't deserve him.'

"I love you Jack," she said aloud, feeling the need to reassure him of her feelings, "and I am so in love with you. You still make my heart skip a beat when you walk into the room, do you know that?" Jack smiled crookedly, thrilled by the compliment.

"I do now. Same here, Samantha."

He kissed her with a passion that, as ever, expressed those feelings in so much more than words, his fingers caressing her gently as he tongue explored her mouth.

"So, six months and it will be Mr and Mrs O'Neill, and son, or daughter. three of us." He sighed wistfully.

"Four actually." Sam said, teasingly.

"Four?" he gulped.

"Oh, didn't I tell you? It's twins!" Seeing the shocked look on his face, she quickly added, "Only kidding!"

"Gee, that's some sense of humor you got there Mrs. O'Neill."

He was relieved. He could have lived with twins, of course, but imagined that two of the same age would be more than merely two handfuls. That might be tough.

"Yeah? I get it from an ex-CO of mine. It kind of rubbed off on me over the years."

"Damned nerve!" He swiped her playfully. "If you weren't pregnant, I'd tickle you in penance. Now I'm gonna have to think of other suitable punishments. It's so not fair." He frowned and pouted, bottom lip stuck out like a recalcitrant schoolboy.

"You could tickle me a little."

"Ya think?"

"Just don't get too rough. Actually I quite enjoy it."

"You do? Spoil my fun, why don't you woman?" he kidded and started to tickle her gently.

Her words about not being rough brought back a bad memory and he had to speak. This seemed to be truth time, after all, although he was reluctant to get the conversation back on the serious track, given they seemed so normal again with their easy bantering. He had to get everything out of his system.

"Sam, that night in Washington, before you left, when you made me screw you so hard it hurt, I could have harmed our baby. You should never have made me do that. You knew you were pregnant then, didn't you?" She nodded, ashamed. "Why?"

"I know it was stupid. I wanted you to hurt me, and I wanted to hurt you Jack. Don't ask me why. There isn't any logic to it."

"If it was your aim to hurt me, you succeeded. I needed. I needed affection, not sex."

"So did I really. I was confused. You were so great about the idea that I wanted to come back here. You wanted me to make my own choices and I love that you respect me like that, Jack, but I was also upset that you didn't beg me to stay, that you didn't declare your undying love and need for me, that you didn't try harder but were just willing to let me go on without you. So I wanted to hurt you, and make it easier to leave. Hormones I guess. Well I'm blaming them, anyway. It gives me some sort of excuse for being such a prime idiot."

"Sam, you've got my undying love. I can't imagine my life without you in it and I don't want to. The last couple of weeks forced me to think about that. They were pretty miserable and lonely thoughts." He paused, unsure what to say next, "I wish you understood that I love you enough to let you go if that's what you need, however much that hurts me."

Sam stared at him silently for a long time without saying anything, absentmindedly twirling his short grey hair in her fingers.

"Jeez, Jack, I don't want you to let me go. You already tried that once, when Pete and I. Look where that got us. Neither of us were really happy. I never wanted you to let go then, and I don't now. I want you to hold onto me as tightly as you possibly can. I've been pretty miserable without you around too. You are a big part of my life as well, you know?" She smiled softly, tenderly kissing his forehead.

"I'm just sayin'. I just need you to know how I feel."

"Okay. I want to know, Jack. You don't open up so often that I want to miss that opportunity when you do."

Jack smiled at that comment. He realised that his normal reticence to confide his thoughts and feelings must be frustrating for her, but she could be the same.

"I tell you more than I've ever told anyone. You know me better than anybody. I know I must be really annoying; women like to think men will tell them everything, but I do the best I can. Sometimes I just can't."

"I do understand, Jack, really I do. I can be as bad as you."

"You got that right!"

She was silent again, staring into his eyes and waiting for him to reveal more if he was willing to. She saw both pain and happiness in those dark brown depths and wondered how the two lived side by side.

"I haven't been sleeping well since you came here," he declared, finally.

"Nightmares?"

Jack nodded and she enfolded him in her arms and held him close, giving him a consoling squeeze.

"I'm sorry if I was the cause of those, Jack. I should have been there." He snorted in response.

"If you had been they might never have come back. It's been pretty bad, but they'll go away again now."

"Are you saying I help keep them away?"

"Yes, I guess I am."

"I'm glad."

"I really missed you being there just to hold me, Sam. I felt so alone."

His voice sounded bereft, as if all of those feelings had come flooding back, so Sam pulled back to look at him and he saw moisture forming in her eyes.

"Hey, don't get upset," he said, his thumb tracing under her eyes, "that's not why I'm telling you this. I just wanted you to know, that's all. I don't want to upset you, honey. Please Sam."

Sam sniffed, smoothing his cheek with a finger, and he smiled at her. It was a happy smile, and the happiness reached his eyes, driving the pain she had seen there away, at least temporarily. Breaking free of his black thoughts, Jack good-humouredly ruffled her hair.

"So," he said, changing the subject, "do you think we should get up, Mrs. O'Neill? Get dinner or something? Got any cravings that your loving husband can help you satisfy?" His grin broadened.

"I've got some cravings for a certain tall, handsome, grey haired, Air Force General I know. How about that?"

"That describes half the Generals in the Air Force. The other half is short, fat and balding." Sam laughed.

"It only describes one of them to me."

"Really? Anything more you can tell me about this guy so I can narrow it down?"

"Are you fishing?"

"Hell, yeah!"

"Brave and daring."

"I don't know any Generals like that." Sam laughed again, her eyes twinkling with mirth.

"Sexy and cute."

"Generals so aren't sexy, Sam, and they certainly aren't cute. Ewww!" he turned his nose up at the notion.

"This one is. He's also loving, generous and understanding."

"You did say Air Force General, right?" he winked, "Since when have Generals had any of those traits?"

"This one does."

"Does he indeed? Sounds like a paragon."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far."

"Shucks! I guess I should quit while I'm ahead."

"How wise. Oh, wise, did I mention wise?"

"Wise? Huh! Now that's kind of funny."

"Intelligent, bright, brilliant?"

"That sounds more like you than any General I know," he was chuckling, enjoying the game.

"Witty. He makes me laugh."

"Oh yeah? Now that I can relate to."

Sam nuzzled into Jack's neck, giving him a gentle bite.

"I am hungry. Pizza, I'd love pizza. Double cheese and pepperoni," she said.

"Ummm. sounds good."

"I want pizza and I want to eat it in bed, with you right next to me eating yours."

"Sounds even better, but don't pregnant women suffer from indigestion?" he teased.

"I don't care, I want it anyway."

"Okay, I'll go order. How about a drink? Diet coke?"

Sam smiled and nodded and Jack made a move to get up, but she pulled him back.

"Quick kiss?" she asked.

"Anything my pregnant wife wants, she gets," he replied, obliging with a short sweet kiss and briefly running his hands through her hair before getting up.

"Jack!" she screeched a little too shrilly as he reached the door. He turned quickly, thinking something was wrong. "Ice cream. Chocolate ice cream." Jack grinned, relieved.

"I can live with cravings for pepperoni pizza and chocolate ice-cream, by the way. They are definitely my kind of cravings," he said as he ducked out of the door.

Sam sat back, a huge smile on her face. Everything was going to be fine. Oddly enough, as he padded along the hallway to make the call, Jack was thinking precisely the same thing.

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