The first time Jack sneaks his own Valentine's card into Carter's lab at some godawful hour of the morning, he's thankful that Teal'c has already positioned the team one against her computer monitor and that he's actually managed to get there before Carter starts work.
At lunch, she smiles at him softly and lets him steal the last of her cake. It should be enough of an acknowledgement; he shouldn't expect Carter to reciprocate (because she's a junior officer and there are those damn regulations), and he doesn't (not really), but there's still a nagging hope inside of him that wishes she would.
He's in the locker room changing back into civvies to head home when he spots it. A small sheet of paper the size of a playing card tucked into the folds of his leather jacket. Jack was certain that his locker had actually been, well, locked. Not that a lock would ever stop Carter, he thinks with more pride than he should since it's his locker she's broken into.
He's alone so he examines the paper carefully; it's a homemade effort decorated with two childish stick figures, one with blonde hair and one with a green cap, holding hands with a lopsided heart drawn above them. There's nothing else; no words or signature but something bubbles up in Jack's chest; it might just be happiness.
Jack pops it into his box of keepsakes. He shrugs into his jacket and closes his locker. He'll invite the guys and Carter over for pizza and beer. After all, it's hardly a romantic Valentine's date if Daniel and Teal'c are tagging along, right?
It's been a hell of a day.
Jack snorts as he yanks open his locker. He's bottled up his feelings for Carter ever since he'd almost killed her thanks to an invading computer entity. He'd gotten too close; failed as her CO to maintain the proper distance that was necessary to keep her safe. It's his responsibility to take the step back and she seems to understand.
His mind wanders to the Valentine's card that he'd bought anyway; the one with a picture of two birds fishing in a well. He hadn't given it to her although he had debated with himself for hours before he had decided that he shouldn't. He'd still participated in the team card but it's not the same.
A small piece of card flutters to the floor when he pulls his jacket out and his heart almost stops. He picks it up and turns it over; two more stick figures have joined the blonde and green-capped figure of the previous year; one stick figure wears glasses, the other has a gold tattoo on its forehead. They're all sitting around a campfire.
Friendship. Team. It's all they can be to each other. The card crumples in his hand at the thought as his heart aches with loss. He quickly smoothes it out again and places it carefully in his box. It's not a lot but it's all he has and he'll keep it safe; he'll keep her safe.
Jack finds the sheet of paper tucked into the box which holds his fishing gear. He smiles sappily at it for long minutes – it's been years since Carter gave him a Valentine's card. He'd given her the ones he'd bought but never sent the day before. She'd loved them – had spent a significant amount of time showing him just how much she'd loved them.
He turns the paper over and finds the usual stick figures: they're both fishing off a deck, a familiar looking cabin in the background. There's no Daniel or Teal'c in the picture, but the lopsided heart is back and the sight of it warms Jack's like the heat of a home when it's been cold outside.
He tucks the Valentine into a pocket as Daniel calls a good morning to him and Teal'c mutters about mosquitoes. Jack sighs heavily because, unlike the picture, the reality is that he and Carter are not alone.
Although…maybe he could send the guys for more beer, Jack considers with a smirk.
And then he can show Carter just how he loved her picture of them fishing by taking her…fishing.
Vala has been Trouble ever since she'd attempted to steal their space ship. Even showing up some months later and handcuffing herself to Daniel hadn't endeared her to Jack despite the fact that she had handcuffed herself to Daniel. Then she had saved the galaxy which had earned her some brownie points. Coming back and joining the fight against the Ori had won her some more.
Jack thinks she might have just lost those very same brownie points because it's her fault that he's in a cell on some godforsaken rock instead of enjoying the Valentine's date that he had planned with Sam – Sam who had been lucky enough to miss out on the mission thanks to having to deliver a lecture on wormhole physics at the Academy. He absently touches the latest card that Sam had tucked into his pocket just before he'd gated out; stick figures enjoying a romantic meal.
To be fair, he's not the only one glaring at Vala; Daniel, Mitchell and Teal'c all wear the same annoyed expression.
'Did you have to proposition the Mayor?' Daniel hisses at Vala.
Vala rolls her eyes. 'How was I supposed to know the woman standing beside him was his wife?'
'Maybe because he introduced the woman standing beside him as his wife?' Jack drawls dryly, waving his cap at her.
'See!' Daniel declares loudly. 'Even Jack got that she was his wife!'
Before Jack can retaliate for the implied insult to his usual observational skills, the lock in the door clicks open and Sam stands silhouetted in the doorway, SG3 guarding her back and looking smug at rescuing SG1 yet again.
'This is the best Valentine's present ever.' Jack declares loudly, overjoyed to see his wife.
Sam smirks back at him.
It seems like the universe is never satisfied; there are always more battles to fight, more bad guys attempting to take over the galaxy and dial the ninth chevron before Earth can do it.
Although, apparently Earth (or rather Doctor Rush) just had, and apparently it led to some Ancient dust-bucket on the other side of the universe.
It really hasn't been a good week at the office.
Still, Jack smiles as he heads home. There are a couple of hours of Valentine's day left and he knows Sam will be there waiting for him, having beamed down from the General Hammond earlier after completing her report about the Lucien Alliance attack and an exploding planet.
He finds her asleep on their battered sofa. The team card she gets from SG1 every year is tucked around a photo of Daniel and Teal'c. She's holding his card to her against her heart, a cupid fishing off a cloud, like it's a teddy bear.
His Valentine from her sits waiting for him on the coffee table. He turns the small card over and traces over the stick figures. The blonde stick figure is kissing the green-capped figure under their lopsided heart.
Jack kisses Sam awake.
And when her smile lights up her eyes and tells him she loves him without her having to say a word or even draw a picture, it's everything he's ever wished for.