He was being watched, he could feel their eyes on him, men and women alike- both groups equally interested what he and his pillows were doing there alone.
In truth he had no idea what he was doing there, okay so he knew the basic reason, and as he'd been reminded on several occasions lately, he knew this was all his fault. But nothing explained why he and his pillows, who had never been out of their bedroom before this, had ended up with this group of people, all at least 20 years younger than him.
"Colonel Jack O'Neill?" The woman was asking, she was looking at him.
"Retired." He corrected before shaking his head. "Present."
"Good, I see you've brought your pillows, here's your book, it's good to take notes."
"Thank you." He took the book and flipped though the pages before he felt too squeamish. He'd thought battling the Goa'uld had prepared him for anything- he'd been wrong.
Finally the door opened, but it wasn't her, it was a young girl, couldn't have been much older than Cassandra, and she was alone. He watched as she gave her name to the woman and received her book. When she was looking for a seat he motioned for her to join him- he was alone, she was alone, it just made sense.
"Thank you Sir, I was really worried no one would talk to me." She too had brought her pillows; one she sat on while the other went under her feet on the chair Jack had placed in front of her.
"This does seem like a pretty set group." He commented.
"From what I've hear most of the people work here... so they've all met."
"I'm Alicia Jenkins." He took her hand.
"Retired." Had become his automatic response to that phrase.
"You used to come to my elementary school and play with us, you're Cassandra Fraiser's father aren't you?"
"Ah no, I'm just a friend of Cassie's mom and we used to work together."
"Oh, sorry. How is Cassie now? It's been a while since I've seen her."
"How old are you?" He asked ignoring her question.
"17, last time I saw Cassie her boyfriend Dominic had just broke up with her."
"You're only 17 years old? How did you end up here?"
"Dominic broke up with Cassie- for me."
"Oh." Understanding dawned on him. "So where is he?"
"Work." They were silenced; as the woman seemed to make the decision everyone who was coming was there, yet she still hadn't arrived.
An hour later they paused for a break. Ally went to use the restroom while Jack retrieved milk and cookies for the two of them.
Finally she walked though the door, over an hour late yes, but at least his pillows would have a purpose.
"Sorry I'm late, General Andrews needed some paperwork done that just couldn't wait."
"Don't worry, I made friends." She took one of the milks out of his hand without asking.
"Thanks. I miss anything important?"
"Nothing I'm willing to tell you about, but we do have this handy work book that I'm sure explains everything." He handed over the book before eating his cookie as fast as he could before she managed to steal it too.
"How was your day?" She finished his milk and handed the empty carton back to him.
"Pretty good I guess, fished a bit- didn't catch anything." He grinned. "Teal'c tell you he was coming over?"
"I told him he needed to see the new place, didn't mention the lake to him."
"He really didn't seem too thrilled to see it, I think he's going to be offering up his place for get-togethers from now on."
"Guess we won't be treated to his kol-nor-chanting at all hours anymore." She giggled. "The quiet'll be good."
Ally joined them, taking her seat back on the other side of Jack.
"He..." The woman telling the class to take their seats cut her off.
"You're late." She looked down at her book. "You *are* Colonel Samantha Carter?"
"Not that I know of." She looked oddly to Jack who only shrugged.
"He's got your book." She said before standing to point at a flipbook.
"Wait a minute, Ma'am, now you're telling me that is gonna get *that* big?" Jack held up his hands to illustrate his point.
"Yes Colonel- it's nature's way."
"Nature's way? It seems like the most unnatural thing I've ever heard of! And I'm *retired*."
"This process has been going on since the dawn of time, just because you can't wrap your mind around the concept doesn't mean it's not right." Jack sat back with a huff before the woman started a video for the class- real people who had gone through this before them, yeah right, this guy was more fake than Daniel talking about modern weapons.
I've been through all of this before... but they never made me go to any of these classes, I understand why now too, no one wanted to hear my comments on the subject, I was supposed to be a bystander... and now I'm a part of it... and I'm scared.
The next part of the class made Jack uncomfortable, he had to get out of his chair- he knees protested, and then put Sam's chair in front of his while he helped her sit backwards on the chair with her back facing him. He then had to lean forward on his own chair to reach Sam's back, which he was supposed to be massaging. Thankfully their teacher decided to use Ally as an example so he didn't feel so bad about paying attention to the tired Colonel.
"Now you should massage your partner's back, make sure she knows you're there for her- I don't care if you're dying of thirst, you *do not* leave the room." She looked to Jack, having already pegged him as her 'problem' student.
They did massage and breathing for a very long time, everyone was starting to get a bit worn out from it all- thankfully Sam's cell phone startedringing.
At that magical ring tone Sam was up and out of her chair so fast Jack would have sworn she was wearing an armband again. As quickly as she had left she came back- apologizing to their teacher and dragging Jack and their pillows out of the room.
"Who called?" He asked out in the parking lot.
"Rya'c, Thor's here and he wants to see you, but as per your agreement he won't beam you up until you tell him to."
"Oh. So we're going to the SGC?"
"Yes." She let him drive her car; she knew he really loved it when she let him play male chauvinist.
"Did Thor happen to say what he wanted to see me about? Despite the fact that I'm the liaison between the Asgard and Earth I made it very clear to him last time that I'm retired now." She giggled quietly at the memory of what had spawned his tirade that night that Thor got the urge to talk to his human buddy.
"I don't know if Thor said or not... Rya'c didn't mention a reason... and you know how he usually is about details."
"He'd better not need any more stupid ideas, you're not going back out there for a while." She pouted and he knew he'd hit on yet another sensitive subject. "Sorry."
The SGC was crowded with vehicles as the two parked and then took the elevator down to their facility. They didn't see another person though after they signed in... it was creepy, especially considering there was an alien ship orbiting the planet just waiting to beam one of their people up.
When the pair made it to the control room Lieutenant Rya'c Jaffa was the only one on duty, not even Walter Davis was waiting around for Jack's big moment with the little gray man- nice to know he was loved so much since his retirement... again.
"Good evening Rya'c, where is everyone?"
"I do not know Sir, my father returned through the Stargate this morning and I have not seen him since that moment." Rya'c's decision to join the US military had pleased his father to no end, and due to Rya'c's 'unique medical condition' he was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain indefinitely.
"I saw him earlier... we fished... but he left without mentioning anything about his plans, he was kinda in a hurry." The young man shuddered involuntarily at the mention of the pastime the humans referred to as *fishing*.
"Where's my Asgard cell phone?" Jack asked looking around the familiar control room that hadn't changed much since he'd retired.
"Here Sir." Rya'c opened his hand to show the over grown crystal.
"Ah, thank you Riles." He took the crystal and pushed it- Jack was beamed up just in time to see Rya'c's disgusted face at his nickname.
"I *know* that wasn't right." Sam said as she turned circles in the empty Asgard room with Jack.
"Hum... maybe we were standing too close?"
"I don't think so," She had to fight the urge to add Sir to that sentence. "Asgard technology isn't like Goa'uld technology- the Goa'uld need rings and a specific area, the Asgard on the other hand can beam up anything anywhere. Like that crystal in your hand Jack, they could just beam it up and leave your hand, which would be good for you." Despite the fact that there had been some sort of technical glitch and they'd ended up on an Asgard ship with no little gray butts in sight, he still let her rattle off her science speak.
"So Thor wanted you up here too?" He opened the door for them and led the way out into the corridor. "Makes sense I guess, we have kinda become a package deal."
Jack knew his way around Thor's ship 'the Carter' better than he did their new house and soon he had led them to the bridge.
The place was dead silent and darker than usual, especially considering Thor had just flown in from who knows where.
"Thor... buddy?" He called.
"SURPRISE!" The lights came on to reveal the missing staff from the SGC including the errant Asgard and some very welcome Tok'ra faces.
"Am I having a heart attack?" Jack asked Sam idly as as the crowd pressed in on them.
"I don't know about you, but I am." She laughed as she received a hug from her father. "What're you doing here Dad?"
"Thor called me, he was stressing about how his relationship with Jack was going to change- it was right after Jack had broke the news to him. After we talked about it he decided to do something nice for you."
They looked around at the pink, yellow, and blue balloons dotting the massive Asgard command center. The whole place was decorated with the three colors in the exact same amounts.
"Still not going to tell us?" Daniel asked joining the group.
"Nope, we know, we'd just like it to be a surprise for the rest of you."
"Selmak claims to know, but she's not telling me anything." Jacob added resting his arm around his daughter's shoulders.
"No one is going to know- I want it to be special."
"Yeah well in the meantime you're making yourselves very hard to shop for." Cassandra pulled Sam into a hug. It seemed that these people were just materializing out of thin air, and knowing Thor that was probably true. "I can't even get the information out of mom."
"Ya see, she knows if she told you that we'd be forced to kill not only you but her too... and if she's dead who's gonna be around to bring this Space Monkey back to life?" Jack said before ruffling Daniel's hair.
"Anyone seen Teal'c?" Jack ignored the frustrations of his friend.
"I am here O'Neill, I was tempted not to attend- it does take me quite some time to recover from fishing."
"Teal'c buddy! Glad ya made it, did Riles come up too?"
"He does not appreciate that appellation O'Neill, and no, Rya'c could not attend, someone must supervise the Stargate."
"Oh yes, I know how bad those 'gates are for getting up and walking away."
In the 10 years the group had known each other not a single person had changed much... sure they're grown apart and together over the years but nothing was really that much different from the first time SG-1 had stepped though the Stargate.
SG-1 was no longer SG-1, the team was now entirely composed of 'new blood', even Sam had been reassigned recently... along with Daniel and Teal'c who had left a year before when Jack had decided it was time to retire again and stay that way.
Teal'c was still fighting for the freedom of all Jaffa on Chulak, and doing pretty good if the amount of non-goa'ulded children was any indication. He was now living on the planet with Drey'ac and only coming back to earth to assist in important maneuvers or visit his son and friends.
Daniel had decided he liked being out in the field and was now only doing off world excavations- he wasn't dying as much any more much to the relief of Doc Fraiser.
Cassandra had finally made it to college... with out the benefit of Dominic... her exact words on that subject, after Sam and Janet had introduced her to their best friends Ben and Jerry, had been 'Good Riddance'.
Sam and Jack had come together with his final retirement and were now, more than ever, joined at the hip. The two had started a new life together and were in the process of creating a new life too. All things in the land of the SGC were finally going their way, of course there were still losses and battles and bad things... but they all knew that bad things happened and there was nothing any of them could do but overcome.
The whole SGC, minus Rya'c of course, moved to a chair Thor had set out for the happy couple... it was gift time.
"Presents!" Jack half way squealed as they were each handed one, they looked at the gift tags and exchanged their gifts before starting to open them. Jack finished with the ripping of the wrapping paper before Sam, as she had to save it and fold it all nice and neat. "Uh Teal'c buddy... I don't think this'll fit."
"It is not for you O'Neill." The little blue outfit had fish and fishing poles dotting it with the words 'Fishing is life' on it, the next thing out of the bag gained a whole room worth of laughter... Teal'c had picked out a bib that proudly stated 'Grandpa's Fishing Buddy'.
"Gee thanks Teal'c."
"It is also not for you O'Neill... Jacob Carter has also expressed an extreme urge to fish on several occasions. I'm sure he will enjoy these gifts more so than you." Jack nodded and moved on to the next gift... he could always go back to the grandpa implication later.
They received quite a large amount of clothing... with toys and other necessities added for good measure.
"O'Neill... one last gift." Thor joined them, looking for all the world like a four year old child giving his parents some piece of treasured art work. Thor opened a blue case and handed the medallion inside to Sam.
"Oh Thor, it's beautiful."
"It is more than that Samantha, it is a Protected Persons Medallion, your child will not be harmed by the Goa'uld if it is wearing this."
"Thor Buddy... ya think you could mass produce these things for every person on Earth?"
"I am sorry O'Neill... there is only one, and your child has been chosen to receive it."
"Thank you Thor, you really have no idea how much this means to us." The little gray man walked away... he had done his duty and he was proud that after the exhaustive search for the recipient of the Protected Persons Medallion O'Neill and Carter's unborn child had been chosen.
It was hours later when the party finally seemed to be winding down, they'd eaten, they'd talked, they'd done presents (the best part) and they'd even had a very special gift given to them from the Asgard High Council, things finally seemed to be going their way.
"So Jack... you still haven't told us how the class went." Daniel all but asked as they readied for beam-down.
"Oh you know how they are... you've been to one you've been to 'em all."
"Jack, you have only been to one." Jacob reminded.
"Yeah yeah... all I'm saying is that most of the stuff they say in there is just to scare the guys."
"You seemed to be the only one disturbed." Sam taunted as they found themselves in the 'gateroom.
"It's creepy... not to try and freak you out or anything," He put an arm around her waist and kissed her temple. "I'm just *very* glad you're the woman... I'm not brave enough to take on that challenge."
"Are you saying O'Neill, that the course 'Prepared Childbirth' did not make your preparations for your child complete?"
"I'm saying that I will never be prepared... but I'll be happy with what I can get." The group was already tired and partied out but they still managed to go out to dinner with the reasoning that despite the fact that they were all the same people their lives took many twists and turns, and none of them ever knew what was going to come at them around the next bend... weather it be children or Goa'uld only time would tell.