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Season: S9 onwards

Spoilers: Singularity

Sequel/Series Info: Sequel to Never Alone 32: Under the Weather

Status: Continuing Series

File Size: 35 KB

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

Author's Note: Thanks are due to Lynette (Flatkatsi) for taking a look at this story even though it should have a "this fic contains large doses of sap" health warning. That's what I call going above and beyond the call of duty. I am, as ever, very grateful for her suggestions and corrections. Any mistakes or sap remaining is entirely my own.

Never Alone 33: Girl Talk

Jack never had been a man who took to illness or injury kindly, or its treatment and cure. He would whine about being made to stay in bed, grumble about his inactivity and boredom, and generally make some people's lives a misery; particularly the dedicated and hard working nurses in the SGC infirmary.

Man-flu, that's what he'd been suffering – man-flu. Sam had almost been grateful she was in Colorado hidden under a mountain, while he luxuriated in his misery miles away in Alexandria. Men - sheesh! Jack would never have made as much fuss about a more serious illness or injury. How ironic was that? For crying out loud, he only had a cold.

She loved Jack and all, but that for better or worse vow she had to make should not include having to suffer any man laid low with man-flu. What did God take her for? Sam had admonished Jack about whinging and hung up the phone on him more than once, only to regret it immediately, call back to apologise, and leave herself open to more carping.

Actually, she suspected he deliberately exaggerated because he knew it bugged her. Gotta love that guy, but not when he had man-flu. Once they were married, she'd have none of it, or leave him - really she would. Sam chuckled to herself at that notion. As if.

Next time she saw him, maybe even spoke to him, he would probably be full of sweetness and light, as adorable as ever. She wasn't holding out much hope of ever thinking otherwise. Not that she wanted it any other way. Jack O'Neill could be a frustrating and infuriating man, but his smile could make her grin in a heartbeat, and there was no doubt their pheromones were compatible in a big way. The mental bond had been strong for many years, and had strengthened, but now they had a powerful physical bond too.

Mated for life. Sam had no qualms about that, man-flu or no man-flu.

She pondered her last conversation with Jack. In between griping about the cold and how crap he was feeling, he'd told her about Jimmy's proposition. Initially, the notion of Jack part-owning a swanky restaurant amused her. It wasn't something she would ever have imagined. However, he seemed enthusiastic about the idea. Mostly he wanted to help Jimmy out, but she detected his interest ran deeper than merely helping an old friend he felt indebted to.

If the restaurant was profitable, it wasn't like Jack needed the money. They could both retire right now and live well on their pensions if they wanted, but they didn't want. Their work was important, and way more so than most people knew. It wasn't just a matter of saving the planet, they enjoyed their jobs - it was as simple as that.

Jack might grumble about the paperwork, but he'd grown accustomed to his position, the politics, and the power it gave him. Not that Jack either wanted or wielded power for power's sake, that wasn't his style, but he knew he could make a difference. That was very important to him. Making a difference was something Jack lived for, always had. Sure, he missed the action, but now seemed to accept his lot in life. He could do more to help the program than he ever could have before, and he made the most of that.

Of course if the restaurant wasn't successful the loss of money might hit them, but probably not too hard. They wouldn't be left down and out as a result. That risk was Jimmy's. Jack had a tidy pile of dollars pilfered away, and never spent everything he earned because the Air Force paid for so much. The same went for her, and Jack would hardly let her touch her smaller pile of savings when they were together.

Her fiance could be traditional in that respect. Go figure - he was a man and that meant she didn't need to pay for anything. When she insisted, which was frequently, there was no arguing. Jack humored her desire for independence. Actually, he respected and understood it, although Sam had to admit she quite enjoyed the old-fashioned treatment sometimes. Jack made her feel special and what was wrong with that?

He said if Jimmy couldn't make a go of it, no one could, and seemed confident of success, although Jack knew he needed to consider the proposals in detail and do it by the book as his friend suggested. Jimmy might be a friend, but Jack had his wits about him and wasn't blinded by that.

Even so, his enthusiasm radiated down the phone and made him forget the man-flu thing. Sam had been thankful for that. She'd told him she'd support his decision 100%, whatever it was, and could envisage his smile of appreciation for that encouragement.

Sam had been thrilled to hear about Jimmy's marriage plans. She had taken a liking to both of them: Jimmy's natural charm was irresistible, and Jane exuded a certain something that was hard to pin down, but made her very congenial company. They were a couple worth spending time with and she hoped Jane would say yes to Jimmy's proposal. Jack didn't seem to have any doubts on that score, and he knew them better than her so Sam had high hopes for the pair.

Francine had called round to fuss over Jack too, and he hadn't even complained about it. Sam knew how much he liked to hide himself away and lick his wounds when sick, so his forbearance surprised her. He'd actually been quite flattering about the woman whose relationship with Daniel had given him cause for concern.

Jack had often said he thought Francine wasn't right for Daniel - too overbearing, too flirtatious, too much of almost everything. Sam realised he was being protective and didn't want to see Daniel get hurt. Now it seemed he had changed his mind about her and thought she was good for their friend, and Sam didn't disagree. She wasn't sure what had won him around, but Jack appeared to believe Francine had genuine feelings for Daniel. She didn't disagree with that either. Why wouldn't Francine feel that way? Daniel was a good man, one of the best.

Almost any woman should be happy to spend time with him, enjoy his company, and even love him. He was a loveable kind of guy, and very good-looking with it. Sam wasn't attracted to him in that way herself, but this didn't mean she couldn't see the appeal. She loved Daniel, platonically for sure, but she loved him nonetheless.

He wasn't the same man she had met so many years ago, but they'd all changed, mainly for the better, and partly because of their influence on each other. Daniel had toughened up, Jack had mellowed, Teal'c had become more human, she had gained confidence, and these changes were just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Sam wondered if she would have been ready for a relationship with Jack all those years ago when she'd first become aware of their mutual attraction. She doubted it, and Jack probably wouldn't have been either, or certainly not for the relationship they now had – the deep, abiding kind. Sam figured it would have been more about sex than love, and wouldn't have lasted.

Besides, he'd still been in love with his ex-wife, and probably loved her to this day, in his own way. That was Jack – loyalty was his middle name, unless you let him down, in which case he could be as unforgiving as they come. Sara had never let him down, never betrayed him. Jack believed it was him who had let her down, so he remained loyal to Sara's memory.

Sam loved that loyalty in Jack and might have felt more twinges of jealousy about Sara if she wasn't so confident of Jack's love and loyalty to her, She was certain of that despite the recent, painful Chicago incident. They belonged together. Of course, she did get the odd twinge about Sara, but what wife to be didn't feel that about their partner's ex? That surely had to be almost as natural as breathing.

On reflection, Sam was pleased they hadn't gone for it back then. Not that either of them had been prepared to breach the regs, or give up the work they both loved and needed to do, so it was a moot point.

Those changes had prepared them for each other, made both of them ready, and that made her very happy indeed. Maybe the changes wrought on Daniel meant he was ready too, for Francine if that was what he wanted. He sure deserved a life just as much as she and Jack did, preferably a happy one.

Now Sam thought about it, that last conversation with Jack had been pretty positive, much less man-flu moaning involved. Maybe he was over the worst. She hoped so. He might even be up to a little hot phone sex next time they spoke. That would be really nice. She missed his physical presence, but he knew ways to talk dirty that she had never dreamed about, and Sam had learned from his mastery. A phone sex session with him might not be as good as the real thing, but it was pretty damned great.

She could envisage it, because his words would make it seem so real. Sam could see him in her mind's eye, naked and hard and powerful, his long delicate, sensual fingers and hot, wet, rough tongue exploring and prodding, soft and smooth, hard and strong – whatever he wished them to be, whatever she desired. She could almost feel him making love to her, smell his sweat, see his ecstasy. Oh, man!

Picking up the phone, she stared at it with way too much longing than an inanimate object deserved. But Jack could make it come alive. All it needed was his voice, and the right mood. She sure was in the mood; all she required was the voice. Pressing the speed dial, the phone rang a few times, but then the doorbell chimed and shattered her fantasy. Cussing under her breath, she hung up. Who the hell…?

Reluctantly, she went to the door to answer, wanting to quickly get rid of whoever it was so she could call Jack. But, when she opened it, her surprise and delight made such thoughts disappear.

"Cassie! Oh my god, what are you doing here?" She grasped her adopted daughter and pulled her into a hug. "Are you okay? Is there a problem?"

Cassie grinned, kissing Sam on the cheek. "No problem. Can I come in?"

"Of course, sweetie. Why didn't you use your key? That's what it's for." She opened the door wider to let Cassie enter.

"I didn't want to use the key when you weren't expecting me," Cassie replied, wafting along the hallway into the living room and throwing herself on the couch, swiftly followed by Sam.

"No Chris?" Sam asked, concerned about the reasons for Cassie's unexpected visit.

"I left him in LA. I wanted to see you alone for a change."

Sam's eyes widened, her concern made more palpable. "Are you two okay? You haven't had an argument have you?"

"We're always having arguments, but then we make up," Cassie responded with a wistful grin. "No, we're fine, great even. Nothing's wrong, Sam. I just got a little homesick is all."


"Yeah. The Springs, you, Daniel, Teal'c. I don't suppose you're expecting Uncle Jack to visit are you?"

"No, honey. I'm sorry, you probably won't see him this time around." Cassie looked disappointed. She hadn't come to the Springs with that expectation but it would have been the icing on the cake. "Want a drink or something?"

"No, I'm fine. It's so good to see you." Cassie's tone was enthusiastic and Sam sat next to her, placing an arm around her shoulder and pulling her into a brief hug.

"You too, Cassie."

Sam was thinking the young woman must have an ulterior motive for this unannounced visit, but didn't question it further. It would all come tumbling out eventually, of that she had no doubt.

"How are you and Uncle Jack? How are the wedding plans?" Cassie's eagerness was infectious.

"Everything is going great. Have you been worried?"

Cassie hung her head sadly. "A little. After LA… how's he coping with his mom's death? I haven't heard much from him lately."

"He's been very busy, and he got a cold at the moment too. Cassie, Jack and I are fine, really we are," she said reassuringly. Clearly the young woman was in need of that assurance. "His mother's death, well, there have been some issues, but he's getting there. It hit him worse than he thought."

"He's okay?"

Sam smiled and nodded. "I think so. Perhaps you should have gone to visit him."

"And miss out on interfering with the arrangements for the wedding? You're kidding, right?"

"So that's why you're here," Sam responded, chuckling. "Should have guessed."

"We have to shop until we drop. That's what life's all about isn't it?" Cassie said with a laugh, much to Sam's amusement.

"I'm not sure what's left to buy."

"We'll think of something. You got the wedding dress. It's here?" Sam nodded. "Can I see it? What about your bachelorette party? I'm so excited. Only a few weeks and you'll be Mrs O'Neill. It's like a dream come true." Cassie sighed wistfully, her mouth forming into an inane smile.

"For me too, sweetheart," Sam agreed with a grin, amused by Cassie's exuberance.

"Oh, Sam, I'm so happy for you. Isn't Jack a dream? If it wasn't for Chris, and you of course…" She winked teasingly. "You have to tell me every detail of the wedding. I'm way too far away and I've been missing out. Can we see Daniel and Teal'c while I'm here? Can we have them over to dinner or something?" It seemed Cassie was on a roll, an indefatigable whirlwind. Sam felt dizzy and exhausted trying to keep up with her non-stop questions and demands.

"All in good time. You've only just walked through the door. How long are you staying? We have some time for all of that, don't we?" Cassie nodded a response. "Phew, I'm worn out already and we haven't done anything yet."

"Sorry. I'm just keyed up about the wedding. And sooo happy." She beamed brightly.

"I know, honey, me too."

This time it was Cassie who folded an arm around Sam and pulled her into a hug. "You've loved Jack for years, you deserve to be happy," she whispered in her ear.

Smiling at the hug, and squeezing Cassie's hand affectionately, Sam was curious about her comment. "Were my feelings always so transparent?"

"Not to him, apparently. He took long enough to do something about it." Cassie's tone was slightly disgruntled.

"He couldn't," Sam replied defensively. "Neither of us could."

"But even when he could, he didn't. I so wanted to kick his butt."

Sam laughed. "I feel the same way, frequently. Jack is the kind of man who needs a regular butt kicking."

Cassie grinned at the humorous remark. "You two so need to make up for all that lost time."

"We try our damnedest."

"Is it good, the sex?"

Sam pulled away from the hug, eyeing her young charge with horror, and surprise. "Cassie! I can't talk about that with you!"

"Why not? We're just two girls together, aren't we?" Cassie seemed unperturbed by the shocked reaction and Sam remembered the girl she once knew was now a young woman. "Oh Sam, don't be such an old prude," she admonished.

"A prude? I'm not a prude!" Sam exclaimed defensively, not liking to be considered that way. Jack had told her she was too uptight many times over the years. On the other hand, he'd fallen for her anyway, so what the hell did it matter?

"You so are. Jeez, is it that mother, daughter thing? I bet mom would have talked about it."

Sam shot her a wide-eyed look, turning thoughtful. "I'm not Janet, and could never hope to replace her. Wouldn't even want to try."

Cassie noticed her tensed body, and the way she started fidgeting with her hands, and looked down at her feet. For some reason she couldn't comprehend, the topic of Janet and motherhood seemed to make Sam nervous. "No, you can't replace her, but you've come pretty close for me. We always had something, didn't we?" she asked, wondering if Sam felt she'd been inadequate to a task she believed Janet had bequeathed to her.

"Yes, we always did," Sam responded affectionately, meeting Cassie's eyes and recalling that fateful trip to Hanka and the consequences. If her circumstances had been different, Sam knew the young girl might have ended up as her daughter, not Janet's. She had always envied Janet that relationship, had yearned for such a daughter.

"It's like having an older sister," Cassie suggested. "Wouldn't sisters talk about that kind of stuff?"

Sam kind of liked the sister analogy, which implied a different set of rules to mother/daughter. But, having believed herself a substitute mother to Cassie since Janet's death, she wasn't sure she could adjust.

"I always just considered myself a poor substitute for Janet," she said with a sigh.

"No, never that, Sam. Not poor, not at all poor." She was surprised to see Sam's eyes getting watery, as if she might cry. "Sam? Are you okay?"

Sam sniffed. "I'm getting emotional in my old age. I was just thinking how envious I was of Janet, getting to adopt you as her daughter."

Cassie was taken aback by that comment. "I-I… really? You envied mom?"

"You know I would have wanted it if things had been different. I always loved you, Cassie."

"Backatchya, sis," Cassie retorted with a huge smile. To her delight, Sam returned the smile. "You don't have to be my mom. I'm old enough to look after myself now."

"Your never too old to want a mom. Sometimes I still miss mine."

"Okay, but the older sister role suits you very well. I've had two moms but I don't have a sister."

Sam smoothed her hand through Cassie's hair. "We can try for sisters if you like. See how it goes. I never had a sister either. Believe me, a brother so isn't the same thing." She rolled her eyes at thoughts of Mark, recalling the last visit and her brother's reaction to Jack. At least her charismatic fiance had won him around.

Noticing the mischievous grin that appeared on Cassie's lips, Sam cocked an eyebrow, querying what her new sister was thinking.

"So, Jack? Sex?" Cassie arched her eyebrows and, not for the first time, Sam realised how much of Jack young Cassie had picked up and taken as her own: mannerisms, verbal expressions and humor. She genuinely loved Jack, and Sam knew he loved her right on back - the daughter he never had.

"You still want an answer?" Sam said with feigned shock. One of these days Cassie's curiosity would get the better of her, but Sam settled herself into the notion of being sisterly. What had seemed so wrong moments before seemed okay now.

"What do you think?" Cassie replied, sounding like Jack. Sam grinned inanely.

"Okay. One word. Hot!"

"I thought so. I would have bet my future life's earnings… He's kind of cute, isn't he, for an old guy?"

"Very cute, and not so old. Old to a mere whippersnapper like you, maybe, but to us more mature women…" She tailed off, exchanging a look with Cassie that made them both laugh. "Don't you dare ever tell Jack you think he's old."

"Hey, if you jilt him, I'm stepping in," Cassie joked, "so I can't think he's too ancient and decrepit."

"I don't think Chris would like that much. How is Chris?"

Cassie smiled in a dreamy manner. "He's so great. Don't you think so? I was so pleased you had the chance to meet him and get to know him over a few days. You do like him, don't you?" She looked up into Sam's eyes as if the thought Sam might not like him had only just occurred to her.

"I told you so in LA. And the normally cynical and mistrustful Jack thinks he's one of the good guys, so who am I to argue?"

"What if Jack didn't like him?" Cassie asked inquisitively.

Sam seemed to ponder the question. "I'd be more wary."

"You think so highly of Jack's opinion?"

"Of course!" she exclaimed emphatically. Cassie looked puzzled, and Sam wondered Cassie thought she merely shared Jack's view without considering her own. "I don't agree with him for agreeing with him's sake, Cassie, it's just that… I've learned to trust him, and his judgement. But it's irrelevant. I like Chris, okay."

"I just wondered…" For the first time she looked slightly awkward with the direction of their conversation. Sam peered at her enquiringly and Cassie continued, but looked the mirror image of how Sam had looked a little earlier wringing her hands and staring at the floor. "I always wanted you guys to fit, but I hope he doesn't dominate you, Sam."

Sam's eyebrows shot up with surprise. "Dominate me? Did he give you that impression in LA?"

"Not really, I just… he was your CO for a long time. You're used to obeying his orders. I don't want you to go repeating your mistakes." Sam knew she was thinking about Pete and control freakery, but Cassie never had understood that relationship or that it hadn't been quite what she'd imagined. "I guess I need to know I was right to wish for you two to be together. You know… before you get married. I love Uncle Jack and all but…"

Sam interrupted her flow by grasping her chin and forcing Cassie to look at her. "We fit way better than I ever dreamed, and you were right to hope we'd get it together. We've gotten over the CO thing. Jack doesn't try to be controlling." Her tone turned more flippant. "So if you think you're gonna put me off just so you can marry him, think again young lady."

Cassie went with the more frivolous flow and pouted. "Aw, shucks!" They both giggled. "You got any beer?" The question was so out of the blue, and un-Cassie like, that it caught Sam off-guard. Cassie didn't drink much alcohol, and not normally beer.

"You want beer?" she queried, wondering if the younger woman was channelling Jack. "There's always beer in the fridge for Jack. Help yourself."

"Okay, I'm getting a beer, I'm going to unpack, and then you are going to show me that wedding dress," Cassie said decisively as she rose from the couch.

Sam grinned. "Yes ma'am," she responded, offering a mock salute. "The bed's already made up."

Cassie turned to eye her with astonishment. "It is? But you didn't know I was coming."

"It's always made up, just in case."

"In case of what?"

"In case you need to come home."

The deeply touched Cassie smiled softly, her eyes tearing up a little, and returned to the couch, hugging Sam and giving her a peck on the cheek. "That's so sweet," she declared with genuine feeling. "And kinda cool." She liked the idea that Sam thought she was home when there. "Give me ten minutes, okay, then come take me to that dress."

"Right," Sam agreed with a head nod, and Cassie was gone, leaving her to her own devices.

She tried to suppress the thoughts suddenly popping back into her head in the quietude – thoughts of Jack and phone sex, of hearing his voice whispering graphically in her ear and making her tremble with desire and convulse with ecstasy. Shit, she was feeling horny. Sam loved that Cassie was there, but was beginning to wish she'd arrived after that phone call she'd been going to make. Maybe later, when Cassie wasn't around…

"I thought we'd agreed ten minutes," Cassie whined, poking her head around the door.

"What?" Sam said, shocked out of her reverie. "It's been ten minutes already?" She realised Jack could happily occupy her mind for a long time and she wouldn't notice it passing. "Sorry. I was thinking about Jack. I miss him. I want to marry him, be with him. We live so far away from each other."

"Aw, Sam. What are you going to do once you're married?" Cassie asked, entering the room and approaching. She held the bottle of beer in one hand and raised it to her lips while awaiting a response. This was yet another gesture that reminded Sam of her fiance.

"Same as we do now. See each other as much as possible."

"You should be together."

"I'd love that, of course I would, but we both have our work. It's just the way of things. It won't always be like that. Besides, we might live apart, but we aren't apart. He's always in here." She indicated her head and heart and Cassie smiled and nodded.

"Cute. Sappy, but I can live with some sap. Okay, so let's channel all those thoughts into something positive. The wedding dress… wedding plans… yadda, yadda, yadda…"

Rolling her eyes, Sam chuckled to hear her use that O'Neillism and Cassie grasped her hand, pulling her up from the couch. "Do you want to see it on?" she asked, digging her heels in and forcing Cassie to stop dragging her out of the room.

"Oh yes please!" she replied excitedly.

"Then sit," Sam commanded. "I'll go put it on and give you the fashion show." Cassie grinned and did what she was told.

A while later she was twiddling her thumbs impatiently when Sam's disembodied voice spoke from just outside the living room door. "Of course I'll be having my hair done, and the make up… all that. You have to imagine that part."

'Duh!' Cassie thought sarcastically. "For crying out loud, Sam, just get in here and let me take a look!"

"Jeez, you've picked up all Jack's bad habits."

"Get your ass in here!"

"See what I mean," Sam said, chuckling, and appearing from her hiding place with a huge grin on her face.

"Oh my god, Sam, that's fantastic!" Cassie cried out when she saw her in the dress. "Give me a twirl. You look gorgeous."

It wasn't like any wedding gown Cassie had ever seen or imagined. When she pictured wedding dresses she saw billowy and lacy and… icky. This was so much the opposite she was stunned by the vision. It was so plain and simple, but beautiful at the same time, and it showed off Sam's slender, long frame to perfection.

The dress was made from off-white satin and held on her shoulders by two narrow straps; so narrow that, at first glance, it almost looked strapless. The bodice encircled her breasts with a panel of small, tasteful, embroidered flowers and glittering sequins, all the same colour as the dress. Pure plain satin curved into her waist, hugging her hips and upper thighs and gradually starting to flare out. A wide border at the hem matched the detail on the bodice.

It looked more like movie star style evening wear than a wedding dress and Cassie thought it wouldn't look out of place on the red carpet at an Academy Award ceremony. Or it might have fit that role if not for the long train that flowed out from the back, which matched the bodice and hem of the dress.

On her head sat what appeared to be a narrow circlet of silver, and a veil swept over her face.

"There's a zipper at the back, but it looks like it's done up with small buttons, I can't do those myself," Sam said, twirling around.

Cassie got up and walked over. "Allow me," she said, and started to do the small satin covered buttons up, which hooked into loops made from the same cloth as the dress. They were tricky to handle, but Cassie finished and stepped back.

"Lovely!" she exclaimed. "That band on your head, I thought it was plain, but it isn't. What's that?" She couldn't make out what the pattern carved into the metal was.

"If I told you I'd have to shoot you," Sam replied mysteriously.


"It's an alien language, Cassie. It says 'O'Neill' and 'Carter', or as close as we could get, and the words 'never alone' a couple of times. It kind of matches the necklace Jack gave me," she replied, indicating the pendant she wore around her neck. Having planned similar surprises for each other, if either Jack or Sam had known what both Daniel Jackson and Siler knew they would have laughed their asses off.

"O'Neill and Carter, not Jack and Sam? Oh boy! Old habits die hard, huh?" Cassie rolled her eyes and Sam suppressed a giggle at the reaction. Cassie was right in some ways, but to Sam using the surnames had somehow seemed the right thing to do. She thought Jack would get it, and wasn't really bothered if no one else did. "Exactly how are you going to explain all that alien stuff to curious wedding guests?"

"I'll just say it's a private Jack and Sam thing, and that wouldn't be lying." She smiled brilliantly.

Cassie stepped away, asking Sam to twirl again, which she did, walking up and down a little to show off the dress from all angles. It shimmered and glistened in the light, the shape perfectly capturing each sway of her hips, and every movement she made. "You think Jack will like it?" she asked in an eager, girlish tone.

"Are you kidding? He'll love it. You'll be lucky he if he doesn't fall into a dead faint when he sees you in that. Even better, he is so going to love taking it off you…"

"Cassandra Fraser!" Sam declared with mock outrage. "I think I'm going to enjoy that part too. I'll probably be so nervous and excited heaven knows if I'll even remember the rest of the day, but that is one thing I surely will remember. Jeez, it's only a few weeks away."

Cassie approached and grasped her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I'm excited, so you must be getting delirious by now," she said with a small smile. "What are you going to do with your hair?"

"I'm having extensions put in."

Cassie's eyes widened with surprise. "You're going to have it long?"

"My hairdresser used a wig to persuade me. I've had it short for so long I'd forgotten what it looked like; so different, more feminine. I'm wearing it up for the wedding, of course, but later…" She smiled dreamily and Cassandra imagined Jack's wonder and delight while he let loose her long hair in the privacy of their own room. "Jack will be so surprised. I hope he likes it. If not, I'm screwed."

"I bet it'll look great, and he'll love it. You could wear sack cloth and ashes and he'd still be nuts about you."

"Ya think?" Sam said with a grin, echoing her lover's turn of phrase.


She sighed wistfully. "I guess I'd better get this stuff off before it gets ruined. Come help?"

They tottered off to the bedroom together, joshing with each other and giggling like schoolgirls.

"While you're here we can go check out your dress, get a final fitting done and see if it needs to be altered," Sam said as Cassie carefully undid all the buttons again.

"I love to do that." Cassie was excited by the prospect.

She hadn't seen the dress, as such, although Sam had sent her a picture and it was the kind of dress that could double as an evening gown. Cassie was pleased Sam had taken this simple, tasteful approach and she didn't have to wear some awful fluffy creation.

"By the way," Sam said, suddenly changing the subject, "how did you know I was going to be in Colorado when you arrived for this surprise visit?"

"Um, I, um, checked your schedule, spoke to Daniel."

"He knew you were coming and never told me?" Sam asked with astonishment.

"I made him promise. Don't be mad at him."

"You think I'm mad?"

"He told me not to tell."

"He thinks I'll be mad?"

"I guess… don't tell him I told."

"Cassie, I'm not mad. I can't imagine why Daniel thinks I would be. That man is so devious sometimes, it can be surprising. Jack I expect to be devious. Daniel, well…" She shrugged. "He used to be so guileless. I suppose I should probably stop being surprised by how much he's changed."

"Good change or bad change?"

Sam stepped out of the dress and hung it up, removing her headdress and smoothing her hair. "Good, mainly. We've all changed, we had to."

"All that saving the planet and universe stuff?"

"Yeahsureyabetchya," Sam responded with a grin, putting her jeans and blouse back on. "Come on, talking of Daniel reminds me I need coffee," she urged, leading Cassie into the kitchen. "Want some?"

"Yes please."

They stayed silent while Sam sorted the coffee. Cassie lolled against the kitchen counter appearing to be deep in thought until, abruptly, she spoke animatedly. "I'm just thinking… are you two going to have babies? Mini Jack O'Neills. Wouldn't that be fantastic?"

"Mini Jacks? Oy!" Sam joked, mimicking her fiance. "Can you imagine the handful?"

"Bet you'd love a mini Jack, or Jackette."

"Jackette?" Sam laughed gleefully. When she stopped, her lips retained a smile and there was a slightly wistful look in her eyes. "Sure I'd love a mini Jack, or a Jackette, but there's a lot to consider. It's a bit of a scary prospect, the idea of becoming a mom at my age. I haven't got a clue how to be a mom. And then who knows if I can conceive? I'm way past my childbearing prime, and who knows what impact all that alien crap might have had. Then there's my career… I guess we'll just have to wait and see."

Perturbed that Sam doubted her ability to bear or raise children, Cassie drew closer to kiss her softly on the hair. "You'd make a terrific mom, Sam. You and Jack would be great parents. Don't leave it too late to try."

Smirking as the thought occurred, Sam answered teasingly. "Oh, I'm pretty sure I won't get sick of trying." She winked at the younger woman.

"You say he's hot, right?" Cassie retorted with a giggle, nudging Sam's arm knowingly.

"The hottest."

"Then screw having kids. They'll suck all the fun out of it."

"You know, I never thought about that." Sam grinned, once again reminded of Jack, and they both laughed, enjoying the girly banter.

Cassie's exuberance reminded her of Betsy. When they'd met up in DC, they'd both reverted to being very like the young teens they'd been together so many years before. Once Betsy started giggling, she'd set Sam off, and they kept on sparking against each other all night. The memory made Sam smile. Betsy was as close to a sister as Sam had ever come - until now.

She pondered Cassie's excitement about shopping until they dropped. Yessiree, the next couple of days playing sisters with Cassie were going to be a lot fun.



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