The phone rings just as Sam takes her first bite of reheated, week-old pizza. The only reason the pizza survived this long is because it's got tomato (which O'Neill has strong feelings about being on anything other than sandwiches) on it and because she's barely been home. The excitement caused by Atlantis' senior staff – minus Colonel Sumner and Lieutenant Ford, plus an Ancient who's taken to styling himself as Major Sheppard – gating back to Earth after their ordeals in the Pegasus galaxy has only just started to die down. While normally she'd be excited beyond measure to lock herself away in her lab so she might be able to study the files they've brought back from Atlantis, she's been feeling off for a while now and thought it best to take some time off before Doctor Lam forced her to take some. Besides, now that she's been slated to head up R&D over at Area 51, it's not like she's not going to have the time to look at it later.
But, apparently, it isn't to be. It's barely three o'clock in the afternoon, and while that doesn't normally mean much in the underground world of the SGC, Sam knows for a fact that everyone who'd be calling her just to talk at this time of day is either a couple hundred light-years away, in talks with the Free Jaffa leadership on Dakara, or else on a plane bound for Nevada, which can only mean there's an emergency for her to deal with.
Giving her pizza a sad, wistful look, she reaches for her cell, cutting it off in the middle of the second ring. "Carter," she says, fully expecting to hear Walter's voice on the other end, asking her to come back to base.
"I figured it out."
Sam's blood runs cold as she pushes back her chair, rising to her feet and going for the gun that isn't at her side. The voice isn't Walter's – isn't that of anyone she immediately recognizes – and those words can only mean bad news for the SGC. Alec Colson-like bad news. Particularly when she's sitting in what is, technically, her commanding officer's house in a pair of shorts and an old Academy shirts.
"Who is this?" she demands, infusing her voice with all of the it doesn't matter that I'm a woman, I outrank you airman relentlessnessshe's built up over the last fifteen years in the Air Force. It's a tone that demands answers and, luckily, usually gets her them. "How did you get this number?"
This appears to rattle her caller, or, at least, surprise him into silence for a fair number of seconds. Then, "Sorry. This is Major Sheppard. Forgot that everyone on this planet doesn't know me by voice."
"Sheppard?" she repeats, surprised herself.
"Y'know, the one you lot call the real, live Ancient."
Sam can't help the smile that creeps onto her face at this, despite the fact that the real, live Ancient is almost certainly not on a secure line. "I know who you are, John. How's Vancouver?"
"A lot like a lot of the places we go, actually, only with more people."
"Well, Earth's a lot more populated than your average planet in the Pegasus galaxy. But somehow I don't think that's why you're calling me while you're suppose to be on leave."
"I prefer to think of this a mission into potentially hostile territory myself, but whatever. Like I said, I figured it out."
"Figured what out?" she asks impatiently, returning to her dining room table and her now-lukewarm pizza. After a moment's thought, Sam takes a bite of it anyway and regrets it almost immediately, partly because lukewarm tomatoes are nobody's friends, but also because John uses the opportunity to say:
"What I've been forgetting about you since I Ascended. At first I thought it was just, y'know, that you and General O'Neill were together, but-"
Sam swallows hastily and cuts him off there. "Wait. Stop, rewind, and freeze a minute. How did you know about me and Jack? Did Daniel tell you?" And, more importantly, how many other people had he told? Their relationship perhaps the most carefully guarded secret on the planet, better kept than the Stargate Program itself, and if the knowledge falls into the wrong hands – the NID's, or IOA's, or anyone, really, who doesn't have very good reason not to care what she and the General do in their off-duty hours, - well, nothing good could come of it.
"No," John says with a huff, sounding almost offended that she'd even think such a thing, "like I said, I remembered it from the three minutes or so I was Ascended. It's kinda like the way I knew Colonel Everett was going to show up and, well, a couple other really bizarre things that don't really have to do with anything, except they're peripherally related to Atlantis. Like the fact that Rodney's sister's car broke down last week, or that one of Carson's nephews broke his arm playing rugby..."
Sam can hear the pitch of her voice approaching inappropriately excited as she throws her pizza back in the microwave, "Really? You can remember stuff from when you were Ascended? 'Cause, when Daniel was Ascended – the first time – he couldn't even remember who he was, let alone anything about anyone else when he returned to corporal form."
"He's a Descendant," John snorts. "Of course the others took away his memories. Me? I just get stuck remembering random pieces of things that were going on in the universe during those three minutes. Which is about as lame a superpower as one could ask for – even lamer than, well, just about everything I can think of off the top my head."
"Is there a point to this call, Major?" she says when his speech seems to have lost it's way. Sheppard may be an Ancient, but he's the strangest alien she's ever met. Sure, she's met aliens that could blend in with the best of them – Sam sometimes finds herself forgetting that Cassie wasn't born on this planet, and, towards the end of his time on SG-1, it had almost been the same with Jonas – but she's never heard of one before that prefers it that way. It's strange, even by SGC standards, but it does have it's perks. Like the fact that she outranks him, and can order him to get to the point rather than have to deal with the alien ritual that would otherwise surely ensue.
"Yes, well, it's kinda awkward – definitely not something I ever expected to have to say to anyone, ever, to say the least – but..."
"I'm pretty sure you're pregnant."
Sam almost drops the phone. "Pregnant?" she repeats.
"At least two months, if I had to guess, based off what I can sort of remember and, well, I thought you might want to know and get it, er, checked out or something."
"Two months," she repeats, not sure what she's not believing more at the moment: the conversation or its content.
"Er, give or take a week or so. Anyway, this has been, er, weird. Hopefully I'll see you before the Daedalus gets back. If not, mazel tov and, well..."
John hangs up at this point, and, were the situation any different, she'd be laughing to the point of tears at his phone manners. Instead, Sam goes back to her pizza, pulling what has now become a singularly unappetizing mass of bubbling cheese and too-hot crust out of the microwave and tossing it, paper plate and all, into the trash.
Forget pizza. It's just become a Ben and Jerry's day.
The thing is, Sam hadn't really liked O'Neill until after they'd almost died in Antarctica. (The first time, that is, when they hadn't even known they were on Earth.) Sure, she'd respected him as an officer before that, but she really hadn't cared for him as a person until she'd realized he'd been initially so hostile to her involvement on SG-1 not because she was a woman, but because she was a scientist. Which, admittedly, was just as ridiculous, but at least it'd been something she could deal with. And, as soon as he'd realized it was better to have a her on his team, able to help them out on his end if things went wrong, O'Neill had warmed up to her. A lot. Too much, maybe. Enough that her father had thought they were having an affair the first time they met, long before Jacob Carter had ever been read on to the Stargate Program, let alone made host to the Tok'ra Selmak.
They hadn't been – not then, – but there'd always been something inevitable about their relationship, something that everyone around them had been able to see long before they had.
"In here, Sir," she calls out as the front door slams shut behind him. They really need to get out of the habit of calling each other by their ranks and last names, particularly as they've been living together for almost a year now, but it's not something that's going to happen while they're both still working for the SGC. With him leaving for DC, to head up Homeworld Security, and her heading for Groom Lake, for the R&D position, maybe they'll be able to call each other Sam and Jack, like a real couple might, but she doubts it. The habits of ten years aren't so easily undone, and, no matter what they might be to each other now, some part of her will always be the naïve young captain she was when they first met, who'd never think to talk back to a man three ranks and sixteen years her senior.
"What'cha doing in here?" he asks, peaking his head into the darkened bathroom where she's been sitting for God knows how long now.
Sam unwraps an arm from around her knees and points to the test sitting on the edge of the sink and its two damning pink pluses. She's faced down false gods and blown up suns and done a million impossible things, but somehow this seems more terrifying than any of that.
There's awe and uncertainty in his voice when he asks more than states, "You're pregnant?"
"Er, don't take this the wrong way, Carter, but, er, how?"
This really shouldn't make her smile, but it's just so Jack that it makes the whole situation seem that much less frightening. "The usual way, Sir."
"Y'know what I mean," he say, groaning as he sinks down onto the bathroom floor next to her. His knees are going to kill him for it later, Sam knows.
"Birth control only works when you remember to take it, and things have been hectic the last few months."
"Two or so, according to Major Sheppard."
"What does Major Sheppard have to do with any of this?"
"He called earlier and said he remembered me being pregnant from the time he spent Ascended."
"That's just... creepy," O'Neill says after a moment, wrapping an arm around her.
"He seemed to think so."
"Well, that's something, I guess." There's silence for a long moment after this then, "So, a baby."
They rarely talk about Charlie, Jack's son from his marriage to Sara, who's been dead almost longer than he'd been alive now. They've never talked about kids of their own. Their job's been too crazy to even consider it before now. But now...
But now Anubis is gone and so are the Replicators. Sure, there are still the Wraith, but they're a threat confined to the the Pegasus galaxy for the moment. Earth itself is safe and, if there's one thing either of them have learned from all these years on SG-1, it's that you've got to seize happiness where and when you can.
But still. Sam's thirty-six. That's hardly the best age to have her first child. And she'll be fifty-five before he or she graduates high school; Jack'll be seventy-one. Plus he's slated to leave for DC next week; she's supposed to be at Area 51 the week after. Unless they can requisition the use of a 304's Asgard beam, that's a seven hour flight each way. Hardly the best circumstances in which to raise a child.
As if he can tell what she's thinking, Jack pulls her closer, saying. "We'll figure something out. We always do."
It happened the first time on P3X-234. Which was probably the most ridiculous way of saying, after we escaped the Replicator-infested Biliskner, we were so high on adrenaline from saving the world (again) and so far from Earth's fraternization rules that we couldn't bring ourselves to care about them any more, ever, but it had also been true, and they'd both tried to pass their first time sleeping together off as just that and nothing more.
Then Anise had had them try out the Atanik armbands, and then the excuse was the armbands lower inhibitions; if we'd been ourselves, it never would have happened. Again.
And then they'd had their memories stamped on P3R-118, and again it was if we'd been ourselves, it never would have happened.
And so it went, happening half-a-dozen more times over nearly two years, until Ba'al kidnaps him, and then neither of them could really pretend it wasn't what it was any more.
Sam wants to fly out to DC, to be with Jack when he tells the President why he needs to resign commission so soon after making major general, except that she really, really doesn't, and only gets to hear about it on the phone afterwards.
"He refused to let me resign," he says.
She'd expected this. Now that Hammond's retired, he's really the only one for the Homeworld Security job. Her own resignation is already typed up and signed, ready to be faxed wherever it needs to be, and she tells him this.
"Hayes expected that and refuses to let you resign either. Says we're both too invaluable to the program. Had his secretary draw up a ten-page memorandum granting us an exception to the fraternization thing, backdated and everything, so we're golden. You can go ahead and order those sexy Air Force maternity uniforms."
Sam snorts into the phone. "I'm only thirteen weeks. I think I've a while yet to go before I need the bigger uniforms."
"I'm sure everyone will know soon enough."
"Maybe. Gossip seems to travel faster than a light wherever the SGC's concerned... Y'know, I actually had to spend fifteen minutes answering the President's questions about whether or not Sheppard and that McKay guy are sleeping together?"
Sam can't help it; she laughs while Jack huffs quite audibly into the phone.
"I shouldn't have to answer questions like that, Carter."
"I know, Sir. But you've got to admit it's hilarious."
"I don't care if it's hilarious. The only person's sex life I want to be thinking about is mine, and definitely not Rodney McKay's."
She thinks about this for a moment, then rather wishes she hadn't. "You may have a point there."
"You're telling me. But no, we had to talk about whether or not the last Ancient in existence is really having sex with a very male, very Canadian astrophysicist and whether or not he might be willing to support his party's candidate for President whenever the Stargate Program goes public. I told him I don't even know what his party is, and, well, things kinda snowballed from there..."
They'd used the weekend Hammond had given them off after O'Neill had downloaded the Repository of Ancient Knowledge on P3X-439 into his head to drive up to Vegas with Cassie and Daniel. Everyone had figured that, should Jack even be able to lead them to the Lost City of Atlantis, he wouldn't survive the process, not a second time. So Jack, being Jack, had suggested they get married, ostensibly so someone would be able to make use of his death benefits, but it'd been more than that too. A way of saying, this is where I'd hoped we'd wind up, eventually and I'm sorry for doing this to you and I love you without all the words that would've tripped him up even if he hadn't been slipping into the Ancient tongue by the end of it.
She'd protested, of course, but mostly only because she didn't want to acknowledge that, this time, she would lose him for good. She went through with it in the end, though, in a small chapel Cassie found on the outskirts of the city – one that did Wormhole X-treme-themed weddings as part of one of their normal packages. It'd been all she could do not to laugh through the whole ceremony, with it's camp rental outfits and unrealistic sound effects.
Later, it'd been all she could do not to tear up every time she passed the stasis chamber keeping her husband alive in the Antarctic Outpost. Such were the dynamics of their gate team that, luckily, no one had thought to question it.
Despite the faster than light nature of gossip in the Stargate program, it's almost November before anyone at the SGC realizes she's pregnant. Sure, she's really not going out of her way to advertise it and, yes, she's only just now starting to show, but she'd rather expected some speculation on the matter. After all, she'd heard rumours about the state of her and Jack's relationship based off far less while she'd still been posted at the SGC, back when they'd been doing their best not to have a relationship. Sam would've thought that a little bit of weight gain would've sent the rumourmongers into a tizzy on the subject, but apparently the people at Area 51 either hadn't noticed or just don't care.
Still, it's understandable that, when she gets a video call from Cameron Mitchell asking if she might rejoin her old team, she laughs for a long moment before realizing, "You're serious."
"Why the hell wouldn't I be serious? Listen. General O'Neill gave me the choice of any posting I wanted. I chose SG-1. That meant you, Teal'c, and Doctor Jackson. Not two letters, a dash, and a number."
Sam bites her lower lip before shaking her head and smiling slightly at the man on her computer screen. "That's very flattering, Cam, but-"
"I'm not trying to be flattering. I'm trying to have the best team possible," he says flatly.
"I know, and maybe I'll come back after the baby's born, but, right now-"
"Whoa. Wait a minute. What baby?"
She blinks at the screen disbelievingly. "Mine. Didn't General Landry tell you?"
"No one here's told me a damn thing, Sam. Hell, I didn't even know the band had broken up until I got here yesterday morning, and that's the kind of thing you'd think would be front-page news around here."
"Well, I'm due at the beginning of February, so ask me again after. And if the world needs saving before that, I'm only a phone call away. Anyway," she finishes, noticing her phone starting to ring, "I've got to run. We're still trying to work out all the kinks in with the Prometheus' new hyperdrive generator, and- Well, got to run."
The news somehow manages to reach the Prometheus before she does, and her inbox is flooded with emails about the same by the time she gets back to her office. Feeling vaguely irritated, she sends out a mass reply telling them to direct all further questions to General O'Neill.
The only email Sam gets about her pregnancy she gets after that is from Colonel Sheppard three weeks and a dial-in from Atlantis later, and even then it's little more than a post script to a message asking her if there's some way she could make Daniel stop sending him questions about his people. It says: Ishachus was my paternal grandfather's name, if you want to go with a family name for your kid.
She decides it's better not to ask how he knows she's having a boy, and politely suggests to Daniel that he save his questions for when he can talk to the Ancient in person.
After the Asgard had removed the Ancient database from Jack's brain for a second time, they had gone together to tell Hammond why Jack couldn't accept the post of Head of Stargate Command.
When the General had finished expounding on how their marriage was the most stupid, reckless thing they'd ever done, he'd clapped them on the shoulder and told them how happy he was for them both. And then, together, they'd come up with a plan that would allow everyone to stay in the jobs they'd been placed without too much fallout. They'd figured, if they could keep everything hidden for one more year, General Hammond could retire. Then O'Neill could be moved out of Sam's direct chain of command and they could come out into the open with their relationship without the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
It'd been a good plan, a solid plan, and might've worked if she'd not gotten pregnant before the end, but Sam doesn't regret a thing.
Sam ends up going into labour a week early, while Jack's still in Washington and there are no ships in orbit to beam him to Area 51's infirmary. Daniel and Teal'c are off-world with the new SG-1, and even Hammond's halfway around the world, dealing with some minor crisis that's popped up between two IOA nations, so there's no one there, really, but the base's chief surgeon and a couple of nurses when her son's born.
She must fall asleep afterwards while waiting for Jack to arrive, because, next thing she knows, she's waking up to find her husband standing over the bassinet the nurses have placed beside her bed, staring down at the child within like he's the most amazing thing he's ever seen.
She spends a long minute just watching him and trying to burn the scene into her brain so that, no matter what might happen later, she could always look back at this memory and think in this moment, I was happy. Then, when Sam thinks she just might bubble over from all the feeling welling within her, she whispers, "Morning, Sir," just loud enough for Jack to hear.
He still starts at her voice, though, and smiles self-depreciatingly. "How long you been up?"
"A few minutes," she admits. "When did you get in?"
"About half-an-hour ago."
"How did it manage to take you twelve hours to get here from DC?"
Jack snorts, softly, and settles on the edge of her hospital bed. "Took me a while to get your message. My plane – one with a pilot who'd been read on to the program, thank goodness – was halfway here when Thor beamed me up to his ship to – get this – apologize for his people visiting Atlantis without asking us first."
"That's... wow," she says at last. The Asgard are many things, but good-mannered they are not. She doesn't think she's ever heard of them apologizing to anyone for anything, and wonders what brought this on."
"I think Sheppard shamed them into it – something about treating us as allies in more than name. I'm not sure. I was kinda distracted, and it took the little guy a while to manage it."
"Speaking of little guys..." Sam says pointedly.
"Yeah. I saw. Jacob Daniel, huh? Should I be worried?"
Sam rolls her eyes. "I know we'd agreed on Alexander, but..."
"But you were alone and thinking about your family," he finishes for her. "But still. Jacob Daniel?"
"Well, Sir, I figured one Jack O'Neill was enough for the universe to deal with."
"Hey! I resemble that remark," he says a little too loudly, causing Jacob to stir.
Sam starts to sit up, but Jack beats her to it, lifting their son out of the bassinet with a grace that surprises her until she remembers that he's done this before, with another woman. It's so easy to forget how hard this must be for him, to wonder how much he sees of his other son in Jacob even now. As much as it must hurt her to think about, it must be twice as painful for him,
"Hey there, Jake. Why are you crying?" Jack says, for once not trying to hide the emotion in his voice, "Daddy's sorry he wasn't here when you made your big entrance earlier, but I've got presents for you in my jacket pocket from the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet, the President of the United States, and the universe's last living Ancient. You're kinda the most wanted kid in the entire universe, so that's got to make up for me being a little late to the party."
Amazingly enough, Jake stops fussing at this, and just looks up at Jack with big, blue eyes.
"See Carter? What did I tell you? Nothing we can't handle."