At midmorning, Sam and Jack finally dragged themselves out of bed, to get ready for their flight. After a hurried breakfast, they left for Denver, to go to the airport.
The flight was a pleasant one, they enjoyed each others company, and it turned out to be a good opportunity to talk about themselves, their hopes, and about the future.
That evening, after their flight, they finally reached San Diego, where they were met by Mark.
"Hey, Sam," Mark welcomed her, taking her into a hug.
"Hi Mark", after they broke apart, she introduced Jack and Mark to each other, "Jack, this is my brother, Mark. Mark, this is my fiancÚ, Jack O'Neill."
They shook each others hands, and said the standard "Hi, how are you going? I'm good, thanks." greetings.
"So, I finally get to meet the famous Jack O'Neill. Dad have told me a lot about you, and as for Sam, you're all she talks about!" Mark commented, grinning widely.
Jack glanced at Sam, who was blushing.
"Don't believe a word of it... I'm exactly the kind of guy you'd want your sister to date." Jack remarked back.
Mark chuckled, "Yes, Dad did warn me about your sense of humour. Alright, I suppose I'd better get you two home. The kids are just about jumping of the walls waiting, but I thought it might be easier just to come by myself to pick you up."
It was a nice, balmy evening, and the three of them had enjoyed the ride to Mark's. Now that they had arrived, Mark helped them with their luggage, and led them inside, where they were immediately greeted by Mark's wife and kids.
Mark began the introductions, "Jack, this is my wife Stephanie," he said, indicating to the attractive woman with light, sandy-brown hair, "And this is Matthew, he's ten and a half," He continued, indicating the brown-haired boy, who was the image of his mother, "And this is Larissa, she's seven and a half." He concluded, indicating the cute blonde girl, who was the image of her Auntie Sam.
"Hey there." Jack greeted them.
Larissa giggled, having sometime during the introductions, been picked up by Sam, "If you marry Auntie Sam, does that mean she'll have a baby?"
"Larissa, don't ask questions like that!" Stephanie admonished, biting back a giggle, then continuing to apologise, "Sorry, she's at that stage where babies are fascinating to her."
"That's quite okay, no offence taken," reassured Jack, continuing on, the speak to Larissa, "So, you'd like a cousin then?"
Larissa nodded, and reached out for Jack to pick her up out of Sam's arms. Jack complied.
Matt made his presence known by asking, "So you work on all that top secret stuff with Auntie Sam and Grandpa?"
Jack smiled, "That's right. So, do you play sport?"
Matt enthusiastically replied, "Yeah, baseball! It's my favourite!"
Jack took that as an encouraging sign, "Yeah? I like baseball too. Maybe we could play some together, while I'm here."
Sam was pleased that the meeting was going so well. She was a bit worried about how things could have gone, but things were running smoothly, and Mark and Jack were on their best behaviour.
Stephanie interrupted her reverie by announcing, "I thought you two might be hungry, so I've left some lasagna in the oven for whenever you're ready."
Jack's stomach chose that moment to loudly growl. "Yeah, now might be a good idea."
The lasagna and salad turned out to be terrific, and both Sam and Jack wolfed it down, finding it much tastier than the food that had been on display in the airplane. Much to Matt and Larissa's dismay, Stephanie had sent them to bed for an early night, after reminding them that they had school the next day. So, Sam and Jack were left to talk to Mark and Stephanie. Inevitably, the conversation soon turned to the approaching wedding.
"So when do you think you'll have the wedding?" Stephanie questioned them.
"We though we'd like to organise it for April, probably after Easter. I know that it's only February now, but we only want a small wedding. I personally don't want a huge fuss, and Jack's already been through the big wedding thing." Sam explained.
"Will you need help with anything?" Mark asked.
"Thanks, but we should have everything covered. You could come a couple of days before the wedding and stay, though. If you can both get the time off, though." Sam offered.
"Hey, it's not everyday my little sister gets married! I'm sure we'll work out something!" Mark exclaimed.
Stephanie continued where Mark had finished, "Well, I can always work it out easily enough. One of the advantages of working as a part-time substitute teacher are the hours."
"Yeah, and the pit-falls are the kids themselves." Jack quipped.
They all laughed.
The conversation soon dwindled, as tiredness caught up with Jack and Sam, and they wanted to go to bed. Stephanie led them to the guest bedroom, and then she and Mark went upstairs to their bedroom, to watch some TV there, as not to disturb them.
Jack groaned and rolled over. What time was it, anyway? As his eyes focussed, he saw that the alarm clock read 8:37, but he sure as hell didn't feel that way. By the look of the empty space next to him, Sam must have already gotten up, and beaten him to the shower. In the meantime, he decided he may as well unpack a few things, and put them away, for easy access. By the time Sam came back in, Jack had just about organised his belongings.
"Good morning," Said Sam, walking over to him, and placing her arms around his neck, "Sleep well?"
Jack put his arms around her waist, and replied, "Not too bad, as I recall, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I guess everything from the last few days has caught up with us."
Jack leaned down and kissed her, after which, he headed to have his own shower.
By the time Jack reached the breakfast table, Sam had almost finished eating hers, but was deep in conversation with Stephanie (as everybody else had already left for the morning).
"Good morning, Jack," Stephanie greeted him, "Did you sleep okay?"
"Like a log, I was more tired than I thought." Jack replied.
Stephanie smiled, "Glad to hear it. Help yourself to some breakfast, by the way."
Jack did exactly that, and soon joined them at the table with a mug of coffee in one hand, and a plate of toast in the other.
"Did you have any plans for today? Do you want to stick around, or do you want to go into the city?" Stephanie asked.
Sam looked at Jack, then turned back to Stephanie, "Well, we could check out some of the shops, and meet you for lunch somewhere."
"Great, that would be fine - I'm not working today. The biggest thing I had to do was some housecleaning." She grimaced, "Something that could've waited if necessary."
They all smiled at that.
They made plans to meet at a lunch bar at the near-by mall, and Sam and Jack soon left to do some shopping.
Jack started to whine, "Shopping can be so boring. How long is this going to take?"
Sam grinned, "Well, Cassie will never forgive us if we went away for a few days, and didn't bring back anything for her!"
"Yeah," Jack admitted, "But when can we look at something interesting? I wanna check out the hockey equipment and the sports store!"
"We can do that after lunch. Besides, if you behave, I'll make it up to you later." Sam promised, suggestively.
"Okay, in that case I'll be good." Jack quickly agreed.
They actually had a surprisingly good morning, and Jack learnt how much fun, certain toys on the shelves could be, after he set off a whole shelf off 'Bouncing Tiggers'.
They found presents for Cassie, Janet, Teal'c, and at Sam's insistence, Jonas. For Cassie, Sam chose a few postcards (a new fad she had started), and a box of multi-coloured assorted hair accessories. For Janet, she chose some perfume. For Teal'c, she chose a baseball cap, emblazoned with 'San Diego', and a 'Star Wars' poster. Lastly, for Jonas, she selected a mammoth sized atlas. Jack, less wisely, bought Cassie a teddy bear; Janet, a book of medical jokes; Teal'c, one of the 'Bouncing Tigger' toys, he had taken a liking to earlier; and only by force, did he choose a gift of a stupid-looking mooing cow toy, for Jonas. Sam smiled, and rolled her eyes, but refrained from comment.
Before long, it was half past twelve, and they met Stephanie for lunch. They all bought delicious looking meat and salad rolls, and went to sit down to eat and talk, and showed off their purchases.
"So what are you planning to do on Friday?" Stephanie asked them.
Jack looked blankly at her, "Friday? It's Monday today, isn't it?"
Sam caught on, and added, "It will be the 14th on Friday."
Jack grinned, embarrassed, "Oh... it's Valentine's Day then, isn't it? I'd forgotten about that. Hmm..."
"To be honest, we hadn't planned anything. That being the case, especially as we've be invading your house, you and Mark could go out for dinner or something like that, and Jack and myself could watch the kids." Sam offered.
"Yeah, we could do that. It'd be great opportunity to get to know the kids." Jack agreed. Thinking that, even though it wasn't what he or Sam might have envisioned, there could still be advantages to it.
Stephanie shook her head, "I couldn't ask you to do that. You're our guests. You're not supposed to be doing our child-minding."
"Look, we hadn't even planned to do anything, we may as well do it, I mean, for all I know, you two could have planned something, which was interrupted by our arrival." Sam told her, "Go! Do something, stay out for the night if you want to, we wouldn't mind."
"I'll see." Stephanie relented, "I'll talk to Mark about it later."
The rest of the week passed quickly, and Sam was surprised by how much she had enjoyed herself. Normally she would have worked through her leave. However, they had changed their minds about the length of time they were going stay, and were planning to leave Saturday, so they could spend sometime with their friends from the SGC before their break ended. They had spent Tuesday at the San Diego Zoo, Wednesday at Sea World, and had spent Thursday at the San Diego Museum of Art, (Sam's idea, not Jack's), and at the Science Centre.
Friday had arrived, and Stephanie and Mark had decided to take up Sam and Jack's offer of watching the kids, while they went out for the night. They left at 6:30 for their dinner reservation, leaving some chicken casserole on the stove top.
After a games on the play station, Matt had announced it was time for his program to start. So they packed it up, and assembled in front of the TV, except for Larissa, who had brought in a book about insects to read (it appeared that Larissa had inherited more than just her Auntie Sam's looks). Jack and Sam were very surprised to discover that Matt's favourite Friday night program, was in fact, 'Wormhole X-Treme'.
"Cool!" Matt declared as the show began, "That must be so fun for Colonel Danning and his team."
Jack's lips twitched. How ironic was it? "Oh, so this did make it to TV. I worked as their Air Force technical advisor for awhile."
Matt's eye's nearly popped out of their sockets, "REALLY?" He exclaimed, "That is so cool!"
"Oh yeah. But of course, I soon had to go back to my regular assignment, along with your Auntie Sam." Jack answered.
"Wow." Matt breathed, "So, what do you do? Do you do anything like what the WX-1 team does?"
Sam had to bite her lip, 'If only they knew the truth!'
"Um, well, they have some adventures, don't they? Do you really think it might happen in reality? It is, after all, science fiction." Said Jack, choosing his works carefully.
"Yeah, I know... it would just be great if something like that were real, that's all." Matt replied, slightly downcast.
Now Jack felt bad, he didn't want to kill the kid's enthusiasm, "Well, maybe one day, you'll find yourself working for a program that does exactly that."
"Yeah, you never know!" Sam couldn't resist adding.
Larissa looked up from her book, and added her piece, "I think Major Monroe is cool. She's really smart."
Sam smiled at that, and Jack guffawed. Both of them were having way too much fun with the kids fondness of the show.
Jack and Sam got up at 7 o'clock the next morning, so they could pack for their flight later in the day. Sam was finished pretty quickly, but Jack kept being distracted by Matt and the play station. So, at 9:30, when Mark and Stephanie came home, Sam was in domestic mode, doing some cleaning up after the night before. They were enthusiastically greeted by Matt and Larissa.
"Mommy, Daddy!" Larissa exclaimed, who was then picked up by her mother.
"Hey honey, did you have fun with Auntie Sam and Uncle Jack?" Stephanie enquired.
"Yep! And Uncle Jack told us about how much fun fishing is. He says he'll take us sometime!"
"Really?" Mark commented, "Is that so?"
"It depends on your version of the story." Sam remarked, "He still hasn't convinced me!"
"Well, we'll see." Mark said in typical parent fashion, as he started to take up his and Stephanie's bags upstairs.
---Later in the day---
After lunch, Sam and Stephanie sat down to talk, while Jack hurriedly packed his luggage, having finally realised time was marching on.
"I still don't believe you're actually getting married!" Stephanie exclaimed.
"I know!" Sam grinned, "I keep looking at my ring, and think 'wow! Is this for real?'"
"You've known each other for quite awhile, haven't you?" asked Stephanie, thinking back to what Sam had mentioned about him during previous visits.
"Mm hmm, since mid-1997, which is nearly six years. Although, at the time, he was separated from his now ex-wife. And even though we've only just 'gotten together', and engaged, this is something that has been growing for a few years now." Sam told her.
"I kinda figured that." Smiled Stephanie "The way you're always talking about him."
"I do not!" Laughed Sam.
"I'm merely observing. So... what type of wedding do you think you'll have?" Stephanie asked.
"As I think I mentioned, we only want a small wedding, one with just our closest friends and family. I'd like to have it in a church, which is partly why I want to wait until after Easter, probably just a morning wedding. And we probably won't have a honeymoon straight away, at least not a big one. And what else we'll probably do is just have a small reception, straight afterwards, which will be lunch." Sam said, telling her all the plans she and Jack had come up with.
"Wow, you have put a lot of thought into it. I'm impressed." Stephanie said, "I remember how chaotic it was planning my own wedding... and I had a mother and two sisters helping me!"
"Well, I've had to... especially with how busy my work keeps me. I've just had to use the free time I've had. Opportunities like this don't always happen." Sam explained.
"So, have you two talked about the future?" Stephanie queried.
Sam summed up what she and Jack had talked about since starting their relationship. "Yep, neither of us have had easy lives, and we feel we can continue to grow together by getting married... as it is we've waited so long for this. We know each other better than anybody else in the world. And besides, I'm probably the only person who has the patience to put up with him!"
They both laughed.
"So, have you talked about having kids at all?" Stephanie asked.
"No. However, I know that we would both love to have a family. I think the main issue would be a matter of 'when'." Sam told her.
"I noticed he's taken to the kids really well." Stephanie remarked.
"Yeah, he's great with kids. He's a big kid himself, though!" Sam chuckled.
Jack chose that moment to walk into the kitchen, where the two of them were seated, talking. "I heard my name. You were saying good things about me, I hope!"
"Only the best." Sam said, giving him a kiss.
"Well, believe it or not, I'm now packed." Jack told her.
Sam got up and hugged Stephanie, "Thanks for the chat."
"Anytime!" Said Stephanie, hugging Sam back.
Sam and Jack, now that they were both packed, had to go to the airport to catch their flight. They were sad to leave, and the San Deigo Carters were sad to see them go. This time, everybody escorted them to the airport, which meant that it was a very crammed car!
At the airport, the said their farewells, and promised it wouldn't be long until they'd see each other again. Larissa was downcast, and tore herself away from her book (this time, it was about... magnets!) long enough to throw herself at Sam and Jack and tell them that she didn't want them to leave... ever! Matt's reaction was less dramatic, he merely promised Jack that he was going to kick his butt next time in whatever play station game the two of them had been playing. Stephanie hugged them both, and told them she'd ring them soon, and Mark shook Jack's hand, hugged Sam and promised they'd help her in any way with the wedding.
Jack and Sam soon had to leave them, for the flight back home.