Story Notes: Never Alone: Email:


Season: 9 and beyond

Spoilers: General for S9

Sequel/Series Info: Sequel to Never Alone Part 19: Fade Out To Black

Status: Series

Copyright © 2006 Su Freund

File Size: 77 KB

Archive: My site, Jackfic, SJD yes, Gateworld, FanFiction Net

Author’s Note: Written in response to Fic Challenge 25 on the As the Stargate Turns Yahoo Group (issued on 28 January) to include the phrase 'All Nations
Under The Sun' and/or word 'multi-faceted' in a drabble or story. As with all my challenge entries, this fic has not been beta read, so I hope I have left it relatively error free.

Never Alone: A Chain of Reactions

Cassie stretched, yawned and blearily looked at the contents of her inbox, immediately spotting a new mail from the man who, by all rights, should be her adopted father – Jack O'Neill. That perked her up a little and she squeezed softly to herself so as not to wake Chris.

'Uncle Jack?' she thought, surprised because he rarely mailed her. She had always believed he had an aversion to computers but here he was. The mail's subject was not illuminating, simply reading Hiya Cassie! Smiling eagerly, she opened it and started to read.

"Before Sam gets her claws into you - I wanted to get in first, and for you to be the first to know – Sam and I will be getting married. We got engaged yesterday."

"Oh my god!" Cassie screeched, "Oh my god! Chris, wake up."

She got up and ran over to the bed but Chris had awoken at her first loud exclamation.

"Do I have a choice?" he asked indulgently, still slightly groggy from having just awoken.

"Sorry, sorry but I'm so excited!" she was practically leaping up and down on the spot in her excitement and Chris sat up, taking her hand and forcing her down onto the bed next to him.

"Calm down, Cass, before you have apoplexy. Tell a now very awake Chris what's going on, huh?"

"It's Uncle Jack! It's Jack and Sam! They're getting married!"

"So the old dog did the deed, huh?" Chris said with a broad smile.

"Looks like it."

"That's great, Cass. Now you need to give me a kiss to celebrate."

"I can do that."

She leaned into him and his lips enclosed hers but her heart wasn't in it and, within seconds, she was scrambling out of his arms.

"I have to read the rest of his mail!" she said, leaping up from the bed, "maybe they've set a date. Maybe I'll be a bridesmaid."

Chris grinned, loving Cassie's happy enthusiasm as much as he loved the rest of her. Lying back on the bed, propped up by pillows, he watched as she sat down in front of the computer again, always happy to simply watch her wherever she was and whatever she was doing. He knew how much she wanted her two friends to be together and her happiness was contagious. Besides, he liked Jack and knew he would be the happiest guy in the world right now. Chris felt he could relate to that because, as this relationship with Cassie developed, he was learning a thing or two about love and what a truly wonderful thing it really was.

Cassie read on.

"I guess I finally went and did it! You were right about Sam loving the ring. She seems happy. I hope so. I can see that huge grin on your face all the way up here in Virginia!"

"He knows I'll be grinning!" she said aloud and Chris laughed.

"Go figure!" he said, continuing to watch the woman he adored with all his heart.

It had been a shock for Chris to realise that he was in love with Cassandra Frasier; so entirely out of the blue and unexpected. He had set himself the task of winning the heart and body of Buttercup Andrews, a stunningly beautiful young woman who he thought had some mutual feelings for him. It wasn't her fault that her parents had the poor taste to call her Buttercup.

Stunning she might have been but she had the brains of a gnat. Chris wasn't interested in love, friendship or brains, but believed he wanted lots of sex and something uncomplicated. Buttercup certainly would have fit that bill.

Cassandra Frasier, on the other hand, was as sharp as a tack and made Buttercup look even more stupid than she really was. Cassie was attractive, but not stunning, and was the most interesting and intelligent woman of his own generation that Chris had ever met.

Initially he had determined that they would be great friends, steadfastly trying to remain uninterested in Cassie's other qualities, but then he talked with Cassie and Buttercup together a few times and couldn't help comparing them. His conclusion was that looks weren't everything but a good brain was pretty damned important. Sex with a stunner like Buttercup wasn't the be all and end all either.

Before he knew it, Chris found himself falling and it was too late to do anything about it. He tried to resist, knowing that a relationship with Cassandra Frasier was going to be way more complicated then anything he wanted right at that moment. Buttercup was still a temptation and she practically threw herself at him, but he found himself shying away and losing interest.

Chris was a guy who probably could have got almost any woman he wanted. He had looks, a boyish charm, a sense of humor and a lot of brains, but wasn't geeky with it. All his relationships to date, and there had been many, had been superficial and based almost wholly on sexual attraction and, frankly, on easy removal of the girls pants so he could have sex with her. Sex was something that Chris had had in plentiful supply since he was 15. Love? Never.

Therefore, he couldn't quite believe it when he turned down the opportunity to bed the beautiful Buttercup and he wasn't even sure why he'd done it. The realisation had dawned on him very slowly but, once it had hit him, there was no escape. All that time, he had been falling for Cassie.

Chris had tried to examine the tardiness with which this shocker approached. The truth had stunned him with its ferocity while Cassie was away for Thanksgiving and he realised he couldn't get her out of his mind, whereas he hadn't believed he'd been giving her a second thought. She wasn't even his type, who had mainly been fluffy, brainless beauties who would roll over for him and open their legs when requested.

Not a beauty within his normal frame of reference, perhaps, but he had fallen for her brains. Later came the almost total adoration of every single inch of her. Chris realised he'd been a shallow, selfish prig and it surprised him that he didn’t like that person anymore. There was way more to life and he realised that Cassie could give that to him. Right now, he was happier than he had ever been and suffered from a pervasive contentment that he liked one hell of a lot.

As he watched, Cassie continued to read.

"Can't sleep, go figure. Must be all that unpacking the two of us have been doing in the new house ;-) You and Chris must visit. Much better than my apartment. Lots of space, a yard, trees, plants, open air."

"He'd like us to go see his new house sometime," she said aloud.

"I'd like that too. I really want to meet Sam."

"You will."

Chris got up, quietly approaching Cassie from behind and slipping his arms around her and she tipped her head back to meet his, so he kissed her as invited. It occurred to him that he'd never felt the want or need to meet any of his previous girlfriend's folks. Jack and Sam were Cassie's folks, or what passed for them, and his desire to get to know them only served to confirm his genuine feelings for the woman he currently held in his arms.

These days, he was often at a loss to understand the boy he had once been: only interested in one thing and who gave a damn about her conversation, or her background. He wanted to know every little thing there was to know about this beautiful woman, and all of her friends. And Chris did believe Cassie to be truly beautiful. Perhaps not in the Buttercup sense but in his eyes, both her inner and outer beauty grew on a daily basis and left him breathless.

Briefly he wondered if that was what had happened with Jack and Sam and thought that something like that was probably exactly what had happened. Over the years, their feelings had grown and deepened, which had made them increasingly more attractive to each other. He guessed that was probably the way things ought to be with a soul mate, which is what he now thought Cassie to be, just as she believed Sam and Jack to be. She had told him so many times.

"Hey, Mr Man," Cassie said with a smile.

"Hey, beautiful."

"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" she asked.

"The most beautiful woman on Earth."

"That's nice. You're pretty hot yourself."

"Just as well you think so."


She relaxed against his chest, sighing contentedly and Chris started to caress her breasts under her robe.

"Wanna come back to bed?" he asked suggestively.

"Yeahsureyabetchya," she replied, "once I've finished Jack's mail."

"You mean to say you find me resistible?" he joked.

"Not often, but I do right now."

"Have to read Uncle Jack's mail, huh?"

"Are you making fun of me?"

"Would I?"

"Actually, yes."

Chris grinned and looked at the computer screen.

"Jack O'Neill Handbook? What the hell is that?" he asked.

"You shouldn't be reading other people's mail," Cassie replied, slapping him playfully.

"Want me to wait for you in bed?" he smirked.

"No, Chris, stay here. Keep holding me." Cassie turned her head to kiss his bare arm.

"Mmmm… may I?"

"I demand it."

"Then I have no choice, right?"

"None whatsoever."

"I seem to have given up free will since I met you," he joked.

"You betchya. I'm in charge now."

"And I'm loving every minute of it."

"Me too," she agreed, lifting her head to kiss his chin and then leaning into his chest again and grasping one of his arms to give it a squeeze. "You can read it if you like." She was guessing that Jack wasn't giving away any state secrets in an email to her.

"Remember the Jack O'Neill Handbook?" the mail said.

Cassie smiled, as not only did it remind her of Jack but also of their conversation about Chris at Thanksgiving.

"I promised to let you have a copy but it isn't fully formed yet," the mail continued, "My meagre brain just won't spit it out. But here's what I've written down so far. Number 1 is the most important, hence it being number 1, but as for the order of the rest, search me. I'm not sure it much matters.

"Nor am I sure that any of these will be of any use to you. They're just some things that an old soldier has picked up along the way and not exactly intended as life lessons for undergraduates at UCLA! But here goes nothing. I told you I couldn't sleep, right? Too much excitement in one day for an old guy like me. Promise you'll find me a nice retirement home or get me put down painlessly."

Cassie laughed and glanced up to see Chris smiling.

"Jack's so funny," she commented.

"He's quite a guy, Cassie."

"I'm so pleased you two got along okay."

"The minute I told him I could play poker I knew I was in with a shot," he joked, "So, this Handbook thing?"

"It's a bit of a private joke."

"Care to share?"

"Life according to Jack O'Neill."

"Hero and arch cynic," Chris inserted humorously.

"I'll suggest that to him as a subtitle," she giggled, turning back to her PC and the words appearing beneath the title: Jack O'Neill Handbook.

1. Never leave anyone behind (unofficial rule - Jack O'Neill is always right but I have to confess (although don't tell Sam) that I'm not, so you can ignore that one. I do! Except when I am right, of course, which is pretty often.)

2. Shit happens so be prepared for anything, including taking the big risks. No pain, no gain (a cliché, I know, but generally true, although note Rule 3!)

3. Watch out if there's a cliché about! (way more important than the previous Rule 3, which has slipped down to 4)

4. Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake

5. Never rely on plan A. Plan A rarely works (I think it might be something to do with chaos theory, or maybe it's just Murphy's Law). So have a freakin' plan B or C and, if humanly possible, a Plan D, waiting up your sleeve.

6. If all else fails, improvise.

7. Always confuse the enemy (that's the easy part. Capitalizing on it is way harder)

8. First impressions are often right, so use your gut instinct.

9. Playing dumb is only one of the weapons you have at your disposal. Sometimes you just have to play it smart. Choose wisely.

10. You don't need to know how to do everything yourself (your brain would get way too crowded and… oy…! You don't want to know, believe me), just know the people who do.

11. Never give up the moral high ground; you might fall on your butt.

12. If it smells bad, shoot it. Don't wait around for it to stink up the place (don't try this one at home, Cassie!)"

Cassie tittered gleefully as she cast her eyes over them and Chris shivered at the feelings her happy and amused mood provoked in him.

"I think 12 rules is quite enough to be going on with for now," Jack's mail continued, "so I'll leave you to ponder them and sneak back into the arms of my bride to be!

"Say hi to Chris. He's a good man, Cass, and I figure he might not always have been (he's still young so it happens. Take it from someone who knows because I've been there and have the t-shirt, book and scars to prove it) but that you have made him a better man than he was. You seem so good together and I like that I don't have to worry about you being with him in that fatherly way that I might if it was someone else. You know how suspicious I can be of everyone and everything. It's in my nature, but I think you've done good with him.

"I just hope I'm right because I'll kick my own ass (and his) if I'm wrong. I guess that suspicious thing should be one of the rules but I don't want to make them become an unlucky 13. Hah! Here I go cracking myself up at my warped sense of humor again. I think that's my cue to sign off."

Chris chuckled at these last comments.

"He's right, you have made me a better man," he said.

"Uncle Jack always was way more astute than he liked to pretend."

"I guess I should feel flattered that he likes me."

"Yes you should. He isn't always so accepting of people."

"So it seems."

"He can be overly protective sometimes, particularly of the people he loves. That's in his nature too. My ex-boyfriends… You really don't want to know!" she said with a huge grin.

"Probably not."

"It's is a wonderful thing to be loved and cherished by him, Chris. We haven't always seen eye to eye, those boyfriends you know, but I love him to bits."

"I know. I'm jealous!" Chris quipped. "You gave up being in bed with me to read his mail for Christ's sake!" Cassie giggled in response.

"I'd do one whole heck of a lot more than that for General Jack O'Neill. He's the best."

"That gives me way too much to live up to Cass."

"No, because no one could live up to that, so I don't expect it!"

Chris rolled his eyes and kissed her.

"Right. So are you finished with the mail and happy now? Can I drag you into bed, and the clutches of your tame sex maniac?"

"Once I've replied. Do you mind?"

Chris shook his head and squeezed her gently, recalling the first time they'd had sex. It had been a big occasion. Cassie was a tough nut to crack and he found that he didn't mind when she didn't fall into his arms and drop her pants as soon as he tried. She had been so worth the effort and he figured that maybe all the really good things took effort and were worth the wait.

Initially, Cassie had resisted his sexual advances, firmly and tactfully. She had wanted to be sure of him and he respected that, when he might not have before. Any other woman and he might have given up trying and dumped her. Then, one day she had decided that the time was right, told him she wanted him to make love to her and damned near seduced him on the spot. As that happened right in the middle of the street, it raised a few eyebrows, including his.

So they had rushed back to his apartment and had a long, athletic, crazy and totally blissful sex session, making love as many times as their stamina and bodies would allow. That had been shortly before Christmas.

Chris realised that he would have waited for a long time to bed this woman, and would still be waiting if that were what she wanted. He was, however, pleased that she had wanted him too and had never felt more flattered by a woman's attentions in his life.

That was a little disturbing sometimes, but mostly he didn't think about or analyse it too much and just enjoyed it, and Cassie's company. He considered himself to be a very lucky man indeed to have found his way into her heart. Simply put, she was the best thing that had ever happened to him and he was grateful. What he felt for her could be overwhelming and downright scary but made him feel great.

Cassie knew all about his past. Although worried that she might decide she didn't trust him anymore and be put off, Chris had been unable to stop himself being honest with her. This was another surprise. He'd never had problems lying to a woman before, but he wouldn't lie to her. She was too important to risk losing.

Much to his relief she had accepted it: accepted that, with her, he was different and not merely interested in sex and casual uncomplicatedness. He loved her all the more for that; loved her more with each passing day.

Chris watched fascinated as she drafted her response and then asked him to read it over before she sent it. It read:

"Congratulations Uncle Jack!!! I thought you'd never ask! I'm so happy for you, and me. I've dreamed of this moment for a long time. :-) Bet you're happy too right know, and I know that Sam will be. She was so hoping you’d ask and was never going to say no.

"It is the right thing to do, I promise. You are going to be so happy together. It's where you both belong and what you both deserve. Trust me on this. I can't wait to speak to you both, so will call later – or you call me and save me the money!

"I want to be a bridesmaid, btw, but tell Sam to make my dress sexy rather than pretty – yuck!

"Cool rule book. One can never have too many life lessons, even from an old soldier like you ;-) I will treasure it always, and follow the Jack O'Neill code as much as possible. Do I have to take an oath or something? Send more as and when they occur to you. I'll happily put them into my own priority order, and adapt them for use accordingly.

"Love you and Sam lots and lots. Kiss her for me, and give her a big cuddle. I doubt that will be too much trouble! :-D Chris sends his congratulations too. We're both thrilled!!!!

"Huge honking hugs, Cassie

"PS I'm sooo excited!!!!"

Chris laughed and said it was perfect, so she sent it and then got up and kissed him. Grabbing his ass, she pulled him close.

"Mmmm… why bother going back to bed?" she said.

"You want to do it here?"

"Right here on this chair. Why not?"

Chris waggled his eyebrows appreciatively.

"Why not indeed?"

"Then sit down, Mr Man, and lets get to it!"

Chris grinned happily thinking that he had definitely chosen the right woman to be his lifelong mate and hoping that she wanted him to be hers too. One day he'd tell her how he truly felt, and ask her to spend the rest of her life with him, but he didn't want to do either yet just in case it scared her off.

Then, right at that moment, he stopped thinking altogether and let his body take over. It was going to be quite some ride!


"Teal'c, old buddy!" Daniel exclaimed eagerly, virtually running towards his teammate. He had a broad grin on his face and was obviously keyed up about something. "I just got a text message from Sam. You are never gonna believe this, but Jack and Sam got engaged!"

"And why should I not believe it, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c replied with a smile.

"Ack! Just a figure of speech, Teal'c. So what do you think?" he asked excitedly.

"I do believe that it is a cause for great celebration," Teal'c responded with an even tone and deadpan face.

"Well, whatever you do, don't get too enthusiastic." Daniel said sarcastically, disappointed by Teal'c's low key reaction to news that had him leaping around like an over excited schoolboy. "You know, sometimes having a Jaffa as one of your best friends isn't all it's cracked up to be."

Teal'c smirked and bowed slightly, amused by Daniel's reaction and understanding entirely why he was both enthusiastic and disappointed.

"Indeed," he said.

Daniel furrowed his eyebrows and looked at his friend thoughtfully, stroking his chin with his right hand.

"You knew already, didn't you?" he queried.

"O'Neill telephoned."

"He called you but he didn't call me?" Daniel said dejectedly, his disappointment growing.

"I am certain that O'Neill would have wished to have told you himself."

"But he didn't."

"Perhaps he was unable to contact you. Or perhaps Colonel Carter wished to do so."

"But she sent me a text message! She could have called," Daniel pouted

"Perhaps she tried. I am confident that no insult was intended, Daniel Jackson."

"I'll call Jack."

"I believe that O'Neill and Colonel Carter would prefer not to be interrupted. It is a time of celebration for them, is it not?"

The smirk on Teal'c's face surprised Daniel, although his responding grin was followed by a frown. He was frustrated about not to be able to talk to either of his friends first hand, but tried to put himself in Jack or Sam's position and realised that Teal'c was right: this was a time when they probably wanted to be alone in the most intimate ways possible to a couple. In the fullness of time they would wish to celebrate with friends.

Daniel figured that for now it was probably enough to know that his hopes and dreams for the pair were coming to fruition at last. He guessed that he and Teal'c were lucky to be amongst the first to be told the good news, particularly given how secretive Jack could be about his personal life. Resigning himself to sending a text massage in response to Sam's, copied to Jack, in which he sent hearty congratulations and a hint that they call when they were free, he sighed and thumped his Jaffa friend on the back.

"It's a pity they're all the way up there in Virginia and not here in the Springs but maybe we ought to celebrate for ourselves, huh, Teal'c?"

"If you wish, Daniel Jackson. What did you have in mind? How do the Tauri celebrate such things?"

"What do Jaffa do?" Daniel countered, curiously.

A wistful smile lit Teal'c's face as he thought about it before responding.

"We fight."



"You mean you blast each other with staff weapons?"

Teal'c eyed his friend with a sardonic glare, shaking his head.

"We do not fight in order to kill each other, Daniel Jackson, but to rejoice in good tidings. There would be little point in that if we harmed each other. The closest Tauri custom I can relate it to is wrestling, or perhaps jousting."

Daniel screwed up his eyes in disgust.

"Doesn't sound like much of a celebration to me. Generally speaking we Tauri have a party and drink copious amounts of alcohol."

"That is a celebration of betrothal? How curious."

"Each to their own Teal'c."

"Indeed," he agreed, thinking about it and adding, "You wish to party, Daniel Jackson? As you are aware, I do not partake in alcohol and, as I recall, you are severely limited in your intake."

Daniel looked chagrined by that comment and then laughed. Teal'c was right. He couldn't take his booze. Rolling his eyes in dismay, he wondered how best to celebrate the news with his Jaffa friend.

"Maybe we should get some of the guys together and…" he started, only to be interrupted.

"O'Neill gave instructions not to inform others."

"He did? Wants to tell folks himself, I guess." Once again he felt some disappointment, but at the same time understood Jack's reticence. Reticence was his friend's middle name. "So much for that idea. I guess Jack will celebrate with his friends when he's good and ready and not before. So what else did he say, Teal'c?"

"Very little. It was O'Neill."

Daniel smiled at the perceptive comment. How true, it was so like Jack to say very little. Once again he considered himself lucky to have been told about it at all, imagining the brief conversation that his old CO and the silent Jaffa warrior might have had on the subject. It had probably consisted of about three sentences.

It occurred to Daniel that maybe Jack had deliberately avoided being the person to tell him the good news. His friend knew that he would prod and probe, trying to elicit as much detail as possible, and that was probably the last thing he wanted. No wonder he had chosen to call Teal'c, who he knew would accept the situation with stoic calmness and very few words to convey his pleasure.

Both of the men could be frustrating friends to have in their own different, and similar, ways. They were dogged, devoted and loyal and would do anything to help a friend, never letting you down, but they could be tiresomely silent and secretive. He pondered whether Sam, too, had deliberately chosen to text him rather than speak to him, for similar reasons. Was his inquisitiveness so bad? The answer to that was probably that it could be infuriating to all of his friends at times. No doubt this occasion was one of those times.

"You are dissatisfied, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c queried, a quirk in his features and an arm squeeze denoting some sympathy for Daniel's position.

"A little, but I'll get over it," Daniel responded with a smile. "So as I'm not gonna be fighting and you're not gonna be drinking, how else can we celebrate the good news?"

"I am certain that you will think of something Daniel Jackson."

"Yep," the archaeologist replied, his grin broadening as he considered, "I'm sure I will."


Betsy Sheridan's face was one huge smug grin. As she lay in her husband's arms after their own unique kind of celebration, she considered her friend Sam's announcement and wondered how long it would be before the couple would get around to tying the knot now that they'd made the decision to do so. She hoped that General Jack O'Neill would make her friend very happy and, if he didn't, she'd have a thing or two to say that would not be fitting for someone of his rank.

Sam would probably be deliriously happy right now. Betsy knew how much her friend had dreamed of and longed for this moment to come. She figured Sam wasn't quite so worried about the wedding part at the moment, but was simply basking in the fact that he wanted them to spend the rest of their lives together and had asked - finally.

Betsy, herself, however, was thinking about the wedding and dreaming up various scenarios for how that nuptial might go. Would Sam want the full military thing, she wondered? She imagined Sam in a beautiful white dress, walking down the aisle with the deliciously handsome Jack O'Neill waiting for her with a huge smile on his face and wearing full dress uniform. That was quite some picture. They would look so wonderful! Betsy was quite excited by the prospect.

Then she got to pondering children and whether Sam and Jack would want them and if so how many and whether she might become their unofficial Auntie Betsy. She liked that idea very much. If Sam and Jack stayed in the area, she could envisage the kid's parties, the barbeques in the yard with their respective families, the shopping trips for all the kiddie essentials and luxuries. It set her mind on a whole new trail of fantasy.

Her mind came to Earth with a bump when she recalled that Sam was assigned to Colorado Springs and she wondered what the couple would do about that. Sure, military folk got used to long distance relationships, they had to, but she rather hoped Sam might decide to try for a posting in DC. It would be so good to have her friend living close again after all these years.

Jack O'Neill would probably appreciate that but, from everything Sam had said about him, she suspected that he would never ask it of her. He would respect her career, and that she make her own choices, and would sacrifice a lot to that end. Betsy admired that about him, along with some other fine attributes that Sam had both hinted at, and that she had seen for herself in their brief meeting at the Pentagon.

The man was one heck of a dish and possessed a kind of lopsided charm to go with those good looks. She thought about the email that Sam had sent to tell her the news.

"He asked! We got engaged yesterday. I'm still in a fog about it, but it's done. Of course I said yes – go figure! I wanted you to be one of the first to know, but don't go spreading it around yet as Jack is such a private person and I respect that. It's up to him to tell whomever he wants to at the Pentagon. So hush that big mouth of yours, Betsy!!!

"The proposal was so sweet. We were unpacking boxes at his new house and the words "marry me?" just kind of slipped out as if he was almost totally unaware of them. I could have hugged him. In fact I did hug him, and a whole lot more, but I won't go into that. :-) Once he asked, he was so nervous, poor guy. I think he wasn't sure I'd say yes. I guess that is a burden men share in that situation. Of course I said yes, does he think I'm crazy? I'd have to be to turn him down.

"He's just so cute when he'd feeling vulnerable; quite the cutest and more sexy than ever. I never thought THAT would be possible! I love him to bits, Betsy, and am so very happy. Some day I'll be Mrs O'Neill and that is quite some thrill to anticipate. I never realised how much I truly, deeply wanted it until he asked.

He's calling me back to bed, so I must go and satisfy the man's seemingly never ending needs! Can't say I'm complaining. No siree, far from it. I'll call soon and tell you all about it. Not those parts of course, but I'm betting you won't be able to wipe this big smile off my face for some time to come.

"Btw, you'll be pleased to hear that I told him all about my teenage crush. I think it disturbed him at first but now he seems to be flattered by it and the whole thing has gone to his head. I'll probably never live it down."

As she read the mail, Betsy had become increasingly delighted by the news, excitedly telling her husband immediately and then settling down to her response.

"At last! Congratulations!!!!!!!!" she wrote, "I'm so happy and thrilled for you Sam. So teen dreams do come true after all. That's kind of nice. I can't wait to find out more detail. Did he give you a ring? If so what's it like? If we don't see each other, take a photo and send it! :-) What about the wedding? Any idea when you'll tie the knot? What kind of wedding do you want? I'll help you plan it if you like. Oh dear, I'm getting a bit over excited here and guess I have too many questions and so many ideas that it's probably best if I wait for you to call. Send the darling man my congratulations and tell him I think it's about time! All those years… at least they didn't go to waste! ;-)"

After that, Betsy persuaded her husband back into bed and that's when they had their own happy celebrations.


"So what kind of wedding do you want, Sam?" Jack asked, kissing Sam's neck as he read Betsy's mail at his fiancée's invitation.

"I don't know."

"You must have thought about it. Dammit, you were planning your wedding to Pete for months."

"Don't remind me."

"I just mean you must have had something in mind."

"That was him, Jack, and this is you. It's different."

"Is that good?" he asked with a happy smile.

Not even thoughts of her previous fiancée could spoil this moment. Sam had said yes! He was still befuddled and awestruck by the events of the previous day, as well as being deliriously happy. Jack kept telling himself to get a grip, but he couldn't. Cloud 9 just didn't cut it and he figured he must be on cloud 109!

At over 50 years of age you don't anticipate that you could still feel like a giddy teenager, but he did, and had done for months now, ever since he'd started seeing Sam romantically. Their engagement was the icing on the cake and served to make him even giddier.

Jack had wondered if he really cared whether they actually got married or not. In some ways it was enough for him to know that she wanted to marry him. All he wanted was spend the rest of his life with her, wedding or not. In the end, however, he realised that the marriage itself was important to him. He wanted them to exchange vows because they meant something to him no matter that other couples might treat them too lightly. It all came down to the Jack O'Neill character: duty, honor and the American way.

"Of course it's good. It's you!" she replied with an equally blissful smile. "All those years, all these months… Jack this is pretty unreal right now. I don't think I've got a practical thought in my head at the moment."

"You, Carter? Now surely that is not possible. Your head is way too cluttered with the practical."

She chuckled, leaning over to kiss him, and Jack willingly obliged by fighting with her tongue in the most glorious manner.

"Not right now, it isn't," she commented as they gasped for air.

"I so hope the future of humanity isn't put at risk as a result of my proposal," he joked. "So, all these years, huh? You mean like all these years since you were 13?" His smile was a quirky, amused smirk.

"I was right when I told Betsy I'd never live that down."

"Absolutely. You know me, Sam. And yet you still said yes!"

"Yep. Perhaps I ought to be making an appointment to see old Doc Mackenzie."

"Sheesh, there's no need to go that far! Although I have to agree that you've got to be nuts to want to marry me."

"Not nuts, Mr Scarecrow, just besotted."

"Besotted? I like the sound of that Dorothy."

"Do you think we've told everyone we need to right now?" she asked, returning the gentle squeeze he'd just given her.

"See, what did I say about being practical?" he responded, rolling his eyes. "Who cares? We've dealt with the folks who would never forgive us if they thought they weren't the first to know. The rest can wait. At the moment, all I care about is spending as much time as possible alone with my brand new beautiful fiancée."


"Yeahsureyabetchya! When it comes to you, Dorothy, my brain turns to mush."

"It must be catching, Mr Scarecrow."

"Befuddled but happy?"

"Very happy. You know, you don't have to marry me to prove that you love me, Jack. And we don't need to be married to be together."

"That's not what marriage is about, is it Sam? It's to prove to everyone else that we love each other, and about spending the rest of our lives together. I want that. I want all the nations under the sun to know that I love Samantha Carter, and that she loves me back. Lucky me! General Jack O'Neill, the man who captured the heart of the brainiest and most beautiful woman on the planet, and will be fortunate enough to grow old with her by his side."

"Sweet! I'm just sayin'…"

"I hope that doesn't mean you're having second thoughts, Sam. If it does, I'll understand. Really I will."

He didn't really doubt that she wanted what he wanted, but wondered why she had given him the let out clause.

"Second thoughts? No way! I just wondered about you," she replied.

So that was it. She wanted him to be sure it was what he wanted. Jeez!

"You have got to be kidding. Not a chance. Never alone, remember?" he grinned, clutching the pendant she wore around her neck.

"Never alone and always together?"


"We're both saps," she said, nuzzling up to him, and pausing to consider what a complex man her future husband could be.

Sam figured life would never get boring with this man. Jack could be so full of surprises, even after all the years she had known him. He was such a multifaceted man that his multi-facets had multi-facets of their own. She loved that about him. In so many ways they were like chalk and cheese, so different, but despite that they seemed to fit.

She knew that life would not be a bed of roses for all time, it didn't work like that, but there was no way in which she could envisage a life without him. There would be dull and annoying moments, she didn't doubt that because it was the nature of life, and relationships. Nothing was perfect. But he was the only man she had ever met with whom silences were normally comfortable, who she could communicate with without words, who she could imagine growing old with and still being content with her choice.

It wasn't the first time that she'd conjured an image of them sitting out on the porch at his cabin, old and grey and no longer so physically or mentally able. The image held no fear for her, no dread or regret. Instead it suffused her with contentment because she knew that, no matter what, they would still be good friends and companions and, when it came down to it, these were the fundamental building blocks of a lasting bond.

Unbeknown to her, Jack's thoughts reflected her own. There was a long way to go before they'd get there but he knew that they would get there. They could make it; despite any doubts and despite everything that life could throw at them. He also knew that they would argue and get bored and that not everything would be perfect for the rest of their lives. The fact was, though, that they would have the rest of their lives together and, overall, they would be content with each other's company. They had built such a solid foundation and it would take much to shake that foundation or bring it tumbling down.

Man, was he looking forward to that!

*************** TE

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