They ate pizza in bed, feeding it to each other playfully, almost as if nothing untoward had just happened in their tumultuous lives. Jack drank beer and managed to spill some all over the two of them whilst gesticulating wildly to emphasise a point.
That's so Jack!' Sam thought, bursting into hysterical laughter and spluttering her diet coke everywhere.
It was a sticky mess that required a shower, which they happily took together, interspersed by affectionate kisses and lots of delicious massage. Jack insisted on making the bed, telling Sam that pregnant women shouldn't exert themselves, and Sam rolled her eyes, wondering how much of a fuss Jack was going to make of her during this pregnancy and how she would cope with an over enthusiastic and besotted Jack O'Neill.
Later, she was amazed to find that she had underestimated him. It turned out that he made lots of fuss, of course, which could exasperate her, but he seemed to love almost everything about her pregnancy, including her, and how could she not adore him for that? Meanwhile, however, she had a pretty good idea of what might lay in store for the next few months and suspected that, as she grew bigger, so would Jack's over protectiveness. She was right about that.
That night, however, after their shower, they sat on the couch and Sam showed him the scan photograph. Jack was suitably excited and animated as a man who was in love with the notion of becoming a father again should be.
"Our baby. Wow!" he grinned, staring at the photo in silence while Sam watched his face.
He had such an expressive face, a handsome, but careworn, face. That face had been in her life for many years and she loved every contour, from his high cheekbones, to his thin lips, dimpled chin and dark, glistening eyes. She kissed the nose that so perfectly adorned that face and he turned to look at her.
"She looks just like you." The smile plastered on his face for the last few minutes broadened into a grin.
"I think he looks like you," she laughed.
"You think it's a he?"
"I don't know. I have a hunch. Would you like another son, Jack?" She watched him carefully.
"Baseball, hockey, fatherly advice about women. Sure, I'd like another son, Sam, but a daughter would be good too. I never had one of those. You think I want a son?"
"I don't know."
"I told you, I don't mind. Doesn't have to be baseball. I'll take her to ballet classes instead."
"She might like hockey."
"Not if she takes after mom." Hockey simply was not Sam's thing.
"I bet she'd love hockey because you do."
"Daughters and fathers. It definitely appeals."
Jack wandered into a daydream like state, a small secretive smile on his face as he considered the prospect. He truly did not mind about the gender of his future child and envisaged that future with either. Although he had missed a lot of Charlie's life, he remembered so much; all the big stages of life in a child, and some of the smaller ones; the things they used to do together.
Sam watched his face for a while with her own secret smile, admiring his handsome profile and wondering what was going on in that complicated head. He looked so peaceful, lost in thought, and she didn't disturb him for a long while, happy to simply observe.
Her fears about the baby still lurked deep down, but Jack had helped lessen them and she was starting to realise that all new mothers to be probably had such fears. Sam felt happy, back with her husband, as it should be, and looking forward to that day when they would become a proper family.
She berated herself for imagining Jack would be unsympathetic and dismissive, knowing she should have given him a chance before leaping to conclusions about her husband. They had known each other for a lot of years, but it seemed she was still getting to know the real man behind the mask of General Jack O'Neill.
There were feelings and doubts that remained unexpressed, about him and their relationship, and their baby, but she was reassured by his confidence and tenderness. With still so much to decide, she was not as concerned about it now. Everything would work out. Jack had said so and she believed him. She loved that he was so happy and was determined to put the last few weeks firmly into the past, hoping he would too.
"Penny for them?" she asked eventually.
"Huh?" Jack was startled by her words, "sorry I was miles away." He smiled, turning to face her. "What were we talking about? The baby obviously. Doh!" he slammed his fist into his forehead in a passable impersonation of his dubious hero, Homer Simpson.
"What were you thinking?" she asked.
"You know, baby stuff, kid stuff."
"Care to share?"
"I was thinking about Charlie. Good things, Sam!" he added hastily. "I was remembering all those great things about when he was a baby, watching him change, become a real person, all the things we did as he grew up."
"The first time he smiled at me for instance. Jeez, I thought I loved him so much already, but my heart just about burst with love at that moment. First time I saw him walk too. That was one of the few times I was actually around to see the first time of anything he did; his first steps."
He could remember it as if it was yesterday. It was a sunny day and he was in the back yard. Sara was weeding, with Charlie playing on a blanket by her side. Jack approached his son, squatting, and Charlie smiled that gummy grin that babies have, bobbing his arms up and down excitedly. Jack held out his open arms and said "Come to poppa, Charlie, let me give you a great big hug," and Charlie got up, balanced himself almost perfectly and tottered towards his dad.
"Sara. Sara!" Jack cried out with urgency, and his wife had turned from her work, wide eyed when she saw what was going on, a huge smile on her face. As she watched, Charlie tottered, loosing his balance and falling. Jack scooped their son up into his arms and she joined them in a mutual hug.
"Wow, Jack, that was amazing. Charlie loves his daddy, don't you Charlie?"
As if to demonstrate it, Charlie turned his face to his father's and kissed his cheek, and then laughed, and Jack's heart melted into a puddle at the pit of his stomach.
Before they had Charlie, Jack never realised what a depth of feeling one human being could have for another. He loved Sara, but his feelings for Charlie were in a whole other ballpark in a galaxy far, far away. What people said about unconditional love was so true, although the often ceaseless crying and diaper changing, the everyday chores that made for raising a baby, could give a lie to that statement. Now he had all of that to look forward to again, both the good and the bad. He looked at Sam and continued speaking.
"I missed way too much, but I loved what I got. This time it's gonna be different. I want to share everything."
"Its going to be so great, Jack. I get to watch you be the best father in the world," she said, and Jack hoped that was true because, in the end, he believed that he'd made a pretty bad job of it the first time around.
"I wish." he looked kind of wistful and Sam saw a sadness pass over his face.
"Don't think about the bad things," she urged, stroking his cheek
"That can be tough sometimes."
"Bad things can happen Jack but we can't live our lives thinking like that. Tell me what else you were thinking."
"Okay. Tobogganing in fresh snow. Pushing him on a swing. Taking him to a theme park or the State Fair. That kind of stuff."
"Sure, cute stuff," he smiled, "you know, Sam, having a baby is a really incredible thing. You can't know how incredible until it happens. You can't even imagine how you're going to feel. They are so small and vulnerable and all you want to do it hold them in your arms, take good care of them and love them, no holds barred."
Sam said nothing, simply taking one of Jack's hands in hers and fondling his fingers. Jack lifted the hand, brushing it with his lips.
"I'll do okay as a mom, won't I Jack?"
"Sure you will honey."
"I have so much to learn."
"So do all first time moms, Sam. I'll be there every step of the way."
"Do you know what to do?"
"I mean change diapers, all of that."
"It'll come back to me."
Jack put his arm around her shoulder and she nestled her head into his neck, feet tucked up behind her.
"If it's a boy, what do you want to call him? Given it any thought yet?" she asked out of the blue.
"We want to think about names already? I only just found out you're pregnant, Sam, give me a break here. Have you?"
"I've tried to avoid it but it doesn't hurt to make an early start."
"Alright then. Easy answer. Jacob. We should call him Jacob."
Jack thought Sam would be pleased at that suggestion so was surprised by her response.
"You really think so? I know you probably think I will go all gooey eyed at the idea, and that you suggested it for my sake, but isn't that a little clichéd?"
"Couldn't be named after a better man, Sam. It's a good name." He stared at her a little shocked. "I thought."
"And that's sweet of you, but I don't want to name this baby as a memorial."
"So Janet's out if it's a girl then?"
"Is that what you were going to suggest?"
Jack shrugged, looking slightly perturbed.
"Only because I thought it would please you, honey."
"I know," she kissed his cheek, "and I don't mean to put you down, but naming kids after dead family and friends is just not what I want. I want something fresh and new, at least for us. If you weren't called Jonathan I might have suggested that, it's a lovely name, but I hate that too. Sons named after their father, daughters after their mother. Ack!"
"You sure are full of surprises, Mrs O'Neill."
"Am I? Is that good?"
"When they're pleasant surprises, yes, it's good."
"Is that a pleasant surprise?"
"To be honest, yes."
"So you haven't got your heart set on Jacob or Janet?"
"You would rather we didn't then?"
"Umm." Jack reddened, "yes."
He was beginning to regret suggesting it until Sam snuggled up to him, saying how much she loved him for it. She was moved that he had been willing to give their child a name he wasn't necessarily happy with because he thought she would want it.
"Maybe we should wait?" he asked, "we can discuss it if you like, but I'm betting that once the baby is born he or she will tell us it's name."
"Is that what happens?"
"Kind of. It's what happened with Charlie. Sure Sara and I went through lots of name ideas, and I bet we will too, but we never made up our minds until after he was born. I think kids are born with their name and it's when parents refuse to see it and call it something else anyway that the name doesn't fit."
"Okay, I'll buy that. It's s-so sweet." She kissed him tenderly.
"I'm getting into bad habits. It's all your fault."
Sam chuckled and Jack turned to kiss her forehead.
"I hope he's handsome, smart, strong and brave, just like his dad."
"I hope she's beautiful and brainy, just like her mom. Though two geniuses in the house could spell trouble. You'd run rings around me."
"But we'd both adore you."
"That would be cool. I'd dote on you too. Whatever the sex, this child is going to be spoiled rotten, you know that, don't you?"
"You are a big softie, General O'Neill."
"Dang, you found out? How'd you guess?" He looked at the photo again. "God, Sam, we're having a baby." Jack was over-awed already. "I can't see a third leg. Must be a girl," he kidded.
"Jack! You couldn't see that with the baby in that position."
"I guess not."
Not long after that Sam drifted off to sleep, propped against Jack. He caressed her lovingly, unwilling to move and wake her unless his body told him he needed to. When Sam awoke in the early hours, it was to the strains of Jack snoring peacefully, his arms enfolding her, and she smiled.
When Jack returned to Washington and laid it on the line he was called to see the President, who insisted that he couldn't afford to lose the O'Neill expertise so he would not accept his resignation. Jack argued a little half heartedly and then came out with it straight.
"So what's in it for me?" he asked.
"In it for you?" countered Hayes, stunned by the question.
"Yeah, if you want me to stay on, what am I getting for it? I want to spend more time with my wife and support her through this pregnancy. I don't want to miss a thing. No way! And I'm certainly not risking my marriage for God and country. I don't owe anything anymore because I've already paid, in full. So what do I get out of it?"
"Are you talking money, promotion. what?"
Hayes couldn't quite believe the downright gall of the man sitting in front of him. Only Jack O'Neill. the man could be a whole heap of trouble, but was worth it. His country still needed him and, more to the point, so did Hayes.
"Money or promotion? You're kidding, right. Mr President."
Jack added the latter to show a modicum of deference to his Commander in Chief, but was almost past caring. What were they going to do, clap him in irons?
"What do you want, Jack?"
Hayes settled back and stared Jack in the eye, waiting for a response. The Hayes stare could be unsettling and had won him many an encounter, but the General just stared right on back, not looking in the least discomforted. Instead, it was the President who shifted awkwardly in his seat, but he continued to maintain the eye lock.
"I want to spend way more time in Colorado. I want to be there for as many of Sam's medical appointments as is humanly possible. I want to be there when the baby is born, even if the whole universe is falling apart."
"Is that all?"
"All? Isn't it enough, at least until the baby is born? " he sure hoped Sam would think so.
"And what about after?"
"I want to be there to see my baby growing up. I don't want to be a part-time father who spends all his hours at work."
"And if I can't resolve these pesky little issues for you? What then?"
"I guess I could go AWOL; ask Uncle Thor to beam us up and take us away from all this."
"I wouldn't put it past you Jack, although your wife might not agree."
Hayes grinned and Jack wondered if his teeth were about to sink into the O'Neill butt. He had to admit that the President had a point, but continued to stubbornly meet Hayes' piercing eyes. This was a man used to getting his own way, by persuasion or coercion, and he wondered which way Hayes would leap. They sat silently regarding each other like two bulls in the same field about to lock horns, and Hayes eventually broke the deadlock.
"Okay. We can work something out. I'll get you an office and staff in Colorado," Hayes offered, taking Jack by surprise. "You can spend half the week there and half here although you will still need to continue to go to Antarctica, and all those other places as usual. And, like anyone else in the US Air Force, you are on call and when I do call I expect you to come running, is that understood?"
"Jack I know you'll do your duty, much more than just your duty, and you won't let me down. If I didn't trust you to do a good job we wouldn't be having this conversation. If there's a crisis, I need you more than your wife does. I can't endanger this country, or planet, because one of my Generals has to get home to his wife, is that understood?" Jack nodded, "I will make sure there is cover for you when you aren't there, and I'll get you to that birth even if I have to move mountains to do it. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes, Mr President. I would never let you down, sir."
"I'll have your ass in a sling if you do, Jack. We'll just have to see how it works out. If it doesn't, I can and will revoke our little arrangement."
He eyeballed Jack to ensure he knew who was in charge, and Jack remained expressionless but a slight nod of his head indicated acquiescence. He didn't have a lot of options and it was more than he had hoped or dreamed for, so silence seemed the sensible course. Satisfied, Hayes continued.
"One of my people will sort out the details with you. Have we got a deal?"
"Yes Mr President."
Hayes nodded and got up, walking to his intercom.
"Is the car ready for General O'Neill?" he asked and when the answer was in the affirmative, Jack was hurriedly ushered out of the Oval office as another visitor was ushered in.
When Jack reported this conversation to Sam she was dumbfounded.
"I-I don't know what to say!" she exclaimed.
"Me neither. I didn't expect that to happen. Don't quite know what I did expect, but not that. I guess me and the Pres will have to see how it all pans out. And you, of course, my darling."
For the most part it worked pretty well. Sometimes he took work home and sat with Sam while he wended his way through it, a couple of SFs on duty outside to guard the national secrets. Sometimes they might not see each other for a week or more because of pressing business, and at other times they were together way too much and it could lead to conflict.
Generally speaking, they managed. Sam grew bigger, and often crankier, and Jack's awe continued to grow right along with it. He was attentive, loving, kind, and frequently gave her the most wonderful back rubs ever created by mankind, for which she was truly grateful.
He was also mainly stoic about Sam's moods and constantly concerned for her welfare. Sometimes they fought about it, with Sam trying to assert her independence and get him to stop fussing, but they were rarely big fights. There was one heck of a humdinger, however, and it had more repercussions than they even realised.
It happened one day when Jack was fussing around Sam like a mother hen, trying to get her to sit and take it easy. She snapped.
"Stop it, you're driving me crazy!"
"I mean it Jack. You're suffocating me. I might be having a child, but I'm not one! You're treating me as if I were. You follow me around like some lovelorn puppy dog, watching over my every move, making me eat sensibly when I don't want to, sit down when I want to get on with things, forcing me into inactivity. I wish you'd stop! I don't even get any privacy anymore!"
"I'm only looking after the welfare of my wife and child," he countered defensively, hurt by both her tone and words.
"Yeah? Well stop. Don't touch me!" she shrieked as he reached to try calming her, and he sprung back as if stung.
"Don't Sam me you stupid son of a bitch!" her use of that particular turn of phrase shocked him, "You can be such an asshole, Jack O'Neill. Sometimes I damned well hate you! Why the hell did I even marry you? I must have been nuts!"
Jack was stunned into silence, and stood perfectly still, staring at his wife in disbelief for a while before turning on his heel and stomping out, angry and distressed at her harsh words.
Sam was way too worked up to realise what she'd said at first and by the time she did it was too late. As she rushed out of the house after him, all she saw was the screeching wheels of his truck as he drove off like a maniac. He didn't come back that night and Sam was frantic, calling Daniel, who rushed to her aid.
"He hasn't called you?" she asked.
"You really think he would in these circumstances?" Daniel eyed her curiously.
"He might. He talked to you last time we had a problem."
"That was different. He didn't talk to me when it all first happened. He let it simmer on the O'Neill back burner for a while until it had stewed long enough for him to be desperate. That's what he's like, Sam, you know that. Jeez, sometimes you are just plain nasty, you know that?"
"Look, I'm friends with you both and that makes me piggy in the middle, an unenviable task that someone else is welcome to take off my hands, if anyone is crazy enough to take on the job. Sometimes it just seems you deliberately set out to hurt him. Exactly, how do you expect him to react if you say something like that to him? You hate him? You shouldn't have married him?
"You know Jack. He always thought he wasn't good enough for you, Sam, and never understood why you wanted him or loved him. His personal worst nightmare is probably that you'll wake up someday and realise what a huge mistake you made. He's kind of expecting that to happen. To him, it probably just happened."
"I don't know why I said something so stupid. The words just seemed to come out of my mouth. I was so angry; he was driving me crazy, fussing around me all the time. I have never regretted marrying him, Daniel. I love him; he'll never understand how much."
"I know that. It's him you should be telling."
"Where the heck could he have gone? He's not answering his cell. He left like a bat out of hell. What if he's had an accident? Oh, Daniel, what have I done?"
Sam was distraught. Daniel was right about her; she was horrible to Jack sometimes. What drove her to do that? Was she still so scared of that commitment? She'd married him, hadn't she? So she had committed to him; heart and soul, his always. Surely he must know that's how she felt about him? It seemed that even her own subconscious mind didn't always recognise that, so how could Jack?
What was her subconscious trying to tell her? That she hadn't been ready for all of this? Sam knew she had some issues. She'd kept her heart caged up way too long and then she had seemingly committed it to entirely the wrong man, and not for the first time. Those were false commitments, but this one was very real. What was wrong with her? Was she secretly desperate to wreck their marriage? She didn't like the notion that she was on a countdown to self-destruct.
"What do I do? Tell me what to do Daniel," she pleaded after she revealed those thoughts to him.
"Find him and tell him everything you just said to me."
"If we can find him."
"He's a General, Sam, and can never be too far away from a phone. He has duties. No matter how he feels, he won't abandon those. I'll call the SGC."
Jack hadn't been there, nor had he called in, but he wasn't expected until the following day. Daniel rang around a few places, trying to find him, but didn't. Then he hit upon the idea of getting someone in the SGC to call him.
When Jack heard it was Daniel trying to reach him, he knew exactly why. He wasn't ready to talk about it to either Daniel or Sam. He was too busy alternating between seething angrily and licking his wounds. Lying in a flea bag of a motel outside of Colorado Springs, where he would never be found if he didn't want to be, Sam's words kept replaying in his head and tormenting him.
When he drove away from their home he'd almost been numb, too shocked by her hurtful words, but once they had time to kick in properly, he pulled over to a liquor store, bought a bottle of scotch and drove off to find a bolt hole to hide away in and drink it.
That's what he was doing now, intent on drinking every last drop and getting as drunk as a skunk. He downed one after another, and was brought back to himself only briefly when his cell rang and he saw it was the SGC calling. Up until then he'd ignored it. Sam had tried getting through a number of times, but he refused to answer; didn't wish to speak with her right now. Then Daniel kept trying, and he felt exactly the same way about speaking to him, guessing that Sam was sitting right next to him crying her crocodile tears.
At the moment in his mental ramblings, this was what he was thinking, that Sam's love was all a sham and always had been. He'd been a fool to believe she'd ever loved him. She'd just been in love with the idea of being in love with him but had seen the error of her ways, at last. It had been inevitable.
He vacillated between that super-negativity and the more positive 'she's tired, overdoing it, hormonal' excuse for what had happened. In that version he didn't doubt for one minute that she loved him and he was going to get up and drive home any minute now. Kiss and make up - that was always good.
Of course, as he gulped his way down the bottle, the negative version was winning hands down and when the SGC called for Daniel, he was so not in a receptive mood. If the universe bit them in the ass and they needed him, he would have managed to sober himself up and step up to the plate, but it wasn't, so he didn't. Instead he told them not to disturb him unless it was urgent and that that no one else should either. Daniel got a second hand brush off and Jack settled back to making himself increasingly depressed.
Daniel stayed over with Sam that night to make sure she was okay and they talked like only good friends can until the wee hours. When Jack didn't turn up next morning they knew he would be at the SGC and, although Daniel wasn't due to go in that day, he took Sam.
Jack had one hell of a hangover and tried to soothe it with Aspirin, settling down to bury himself in his work and forget about his woes, and his headache. He wasn't really surprised when Sam turned up at his office door, but wasn't particularly receptive either.
"What do you want, Sam? I'm busy. I've got a meeting downstairs with Hank in 10 minutes and I have to read this report first," he said, coolly and businesslike. He didn't look up, but knew it was her without looking. He always knew.
The President had provided him with an office in the mountain, and staff, and Jack had to work hard to keep out of Landry's way. It was tough, but he understood that it was not a good idea to step on Hank's toes just because he was located inside the mountain rather than miles away in Washington. Always one to provide his team with enough space to give their best, this was no exception. Every time the off-world activation sounded, he was already out of his seat before he managed to reign himself in and try to ignore it. That wasn't his job; it was Hank's.
Jack knew how he would feel in this same situation, tried to act accordingly, and Hank appreciated that. The situation with Jack had worried him at first: his CO almost sitting right on top of him for half the week, able to watch his every move, and it was someone who had done this job and worked in this mountain for years, so was way more qualified than he was.
His old friend promised he would keep out of it unless Hank asked, just as he might expect Landry to call him in Washington if he needed to, and he was as good as his word. Hank realised how hard that must be for Jack and admired his self restraint. They rubbed along together very well and their friendship had blossomed again since Jack's return to the Springs. These days they got together regularly to play chess and drink a few beers, talking through old times, and new.
"I owe you a big apology Jack," Sam said as she invited herself in and closed the door so that over eager ears could not hear them. She knew that Jack would be pissed if any of this got around the base, and so would she.
Jack tried to contain himself, not sure of how he really wanted to react to her at the moment, and so not wanting to confront this in his office. It was something they should discuss at home, if and when he felt ready to discuss it. Right now, he wasn't willing or able to do that without anger and pain. He needed to keep a clear head. He was on duty, and that must come first.
"You probably do, but now is not the time, Sam."
"I know that, but someone's got to make the first move and I think it's down to me."
Despite the sarcasm he was overly calm and cold, which probably meant he was very, very angry and even more hurt. Tightly controlled and in full work mode, he wasn't going to let her divert him. She understood how important that was to him and had no intention of angering him further by trying to persuade him differently.
"Will you come home tonight, Jack, so we can talk? Please?"
At last he looked up from the report, which he wasn't actually reading, of course.
"Yes, I will. Now please leave."
It was perhaps more than she could have hoped for. At least he had agreed to talk to her, that was something. She tried to ignore his curt words and tone and turned to leave.
"Jack, no matter what my voice or yours says, never believe that I don't love you," she said before opening the door and leaving him alone once more.
He stared at the door for a few moments, beginning to wonder if he'd overreacted to her cruel words, and then thrust those thoughts from his mind, turning back to read the report before his meeting.
After the meeting, Jack headed back to his office but bumped into Daniel. He wondered if his friend had been hanging around waiting to make it look like a co-incidence, and wouldn't put that past him.
"Oh, Jack I was hoping I might bump into you," Daniel said.
'Definitely a set up,' Jack thought.
"Daniel?" he looked at him curiously as if he had no idea what he might want to talk about.
"Can we talk?"
"I'd rather we didn't." Jack continued to stride purposefully towards the elevators with Daniel keeping pace.
"What if I make a damned nuisance of myself?"
"Yeah you would too, wouldn't you?"
"You know me. Dog with a bone."
"I really haven't got time Daniel."
"What, even for a quick cup of coffee?"
"Not right now."
"Yes we will."
Daniel continued to follow him, getting into the elevator and, once it was on the move, pressing the stop button.
"She doesn't need you to speak on her behalf, Daniel, "Jack said angrily, "she has a mouth and is quite able to use it; all too eloquently. Now if you don't mind, I need to get back to my office."
Daniel refused to budge from the controls and Jack was seriously tempted to punch him out and force him to move, but refrained. It was unbecoming for a Major General to act in that way, and a disciplinary offence to boot, although he might not have cared so much about the latter. Besides, Daniel was his friend, no matter how insufferable he could be on occasion.
"Okay, so you got me trapped. What do you want to say, Daniel? Spit it out and then I can go get on with some work."
"She loves you Jack."
"You know she didn't mean what she said."
"Yes, you do." Daniel was determined not to let Jack's tone put him off. "You should have seen her last night."
"Yeah, she can talk the good talk alright."
"You know it's more that that. She was distraught."
"Do I? And, yeah, she's good at that too - in that order."
"Daniel, now is not the time or the place for this. I already told her that."
"She came to see you?"
"I told her what I just told you. This is a workplace Daniel and, not only that, but a US Armed Forces base. This is not an appropriate topic of conversation. Nor is it appropriate to hold up the business of this base by commandeering this elevator."
"Jeez, Jack, you like to play hardball don't you? But I know you're torn up inside by what she said to you."
"You know she's always had some issues."
"Yeah, and I don't?" Jack retorted sharply, "hers are all about me, seemingly."
"Hers are about commitment, control, all that."
"Well, perhaps she shouldn't have got married."
"But she did. She did because she loves you and wants to spend the rest of her life with you Jack. Don't believe that crap she spouts when she's feeling vulnerable. She can be just as defensive as you are."
"Is she feeling vulnerable?"
"You know she is, don't you?"
"Yes, but maybe I am too. Ever thought of that?"
"Yes I have actually."
"Oh? Is that all you're going to say."
"Okay, fine! Just don't let your insecurities ruin your marriage and happiness, Jack, or hers. Search your heart. You know the truth of it, deep down."
"I think so."
"Daniel, I signed up for better or worse. I take those vows very seriously. And, she's having my baby. What do you think I'm gonna do, desert her? I love her."
"And she loves you. Never forget it."
"I'll try not to, but maybe she should be the one who is telling me all this."
"She will if you give her a chance."
"Then I'll give her the chance. Later at home, not here. Will that suit your highness?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"So can we get this elevator moving so I can go get on with some work?"
"Sure thing Jack."
Daniel turned to the controls and the elevator started off again, stopping on Jack's level. Daniel didn't follow him this time, satisfied with their brief but relatively positive discussion. Jack turned back to look at his friend before the doors closed on him again.
"Yeahsureyabetchya." Jack smiled and Daniel realised that he was not being sarcastic as he had first suspected.
"You're welcome. Happy to help, anytime."
The elevator door closed with Daniel even more satisfied than he had been a moment ago. Jack was going to fix it with Sam, and she was going to fix it with Jack. All would be right with the world, until the next time.
Sam left early that night so she could be ready for her husband's return. She took a bath, dressed in her best maternity clothes and made one of his favourite dinners. When he eventually came home she felt prepared, and was surprised when he looked at her, smiled and immediately took her into his arms for a hug.
"You look great, Sam, and something good is cooking." He sniffed the air and kissed her tenderly.
"I-I, are you alright, Jack?" She was stunned that he was behaving as if nothing had ever happened.
"Yeah. Sam, I know you love me and that you don't really regret marrying me, so we don't need to have a post-mortem, okay?"
"Y-you. will you at least let me apologise?"
"If you must."
"I'm so sorry Jack, and you are so full of surprises. I wasn't expecting this. I've had words going around my head all day, how I was going to say sorry, explain, all that."
"You don't need to. Daniel and I had a little chat today. Got me thinkin'. Told me to search my heart so I did."
"You did? Thank you Doctor Jackson." She grinned. "I love you so much Jack. I really do. And I can be such a b."
"Ah, ah, ah," he wagged a finger at her, "not in front of the baby," he rubbed her belly proudly. "So what's for dinner?"
He let her lead him into the kitchen and they never discussed what had happened. Perhaps they should have because that would come back to haunt them, particularly Jack.
From that moment, he stopped fussing over her, taking to heart her words that he was suffocating. They maintained a certain physical distance, while still close in many other respects, but they stopped demonstrating their feelings in their usual tactile way.
It wasn't until much later that he realised the connection but, not long after this argument, his nightmares returned to torment him and, a while after that, their relationship would face yet another test.