The body pressed against his was warm and soft. He hummed in hazy approval, still caught in the in-between of slumber and wakefulness. Silky hair tickled his nose and he tightened his arm, smiling in his sleep at the familiar scent.
Tension began to creep in to replace the contentment, confusion chasing away the vestiges of laziness as the memories slowly started to return.
That was Sam's shampoo.
Carter's shampoo he could smell.
It was Carter's body his arm was wrapped around, Carter's body his was pressed against...
Jack heard a sound that definitely wasn't Carter - or himself, for that matter - and cracked open an eye, immediately wishing he hadn't.
And that was definitely Carter's dad staring at him with a glare that could kill.
"Have you ever heard of the rekam'chtam?" Sam asked Jacob, pouring him and Selmak a freshly brewed cup of their favourite herbal tea.
Jack - the Colonel, she reminded herself sternly - was leaning against the counter, nursing a strong cup of coffee. He'd told her in a harsh whisper she should've offered her Dad a whisky, but she'd rolled her eyes and pointed out Selmak's presence made it a worthless endeavour. He looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but in her kitchen, and, while she didn't blame him, she was glad that for the moment he couldn't go anywhere.
At least she didn't have to face her father alone.
"I can't say I have," Jacob answered, casting Jack another glare as though that was his fault, too. He spoke through gritted teeth, and Sam was grateful Selmak was at least keeping the irate former General in his seat. "Perhaps you'd like to explain?"
She stifled a sigh and eye roll; the tone of voice was the one she remembered from her teenage years. If she tried, she could almost hear him ask in the same carefully controlled voice what in god's name she thought she was thinking of, letting Jimmy Glendale double dare into riding on the back of his motorbike.
"They live on a naquadah rich planet. P9X685. We weren't part of the first contact mission, but once it was established they were open to a mining treaty with us, General Hammond asked us to accompany the diplomatic team. Daniel made the request, wanting to learn more about their culture and —"
"Carter," Jack interrupted, rolling his eyes but the smirk on his face was amused if not affection. "I think you can skip the mission brief. Dad's not interested in the finer details."
"No, he isn't," Jacob agreed, though continued to glare at Jack. "What I am interested in is finding out how, last time I visited, you were barely on speaking terms and now I find my daughter in bed with her commanding officer."
"We were never not on speaking terms," Jack protested, looking affronted.
"It's not exactly what it looked like, either," Sam added with a huff. She crossed her arms over her chest defensively but couldn't fight the blush that rose in her cheeks. "The last time you visited..."
"Things were weird," Jack finished with a shrug. He, like Sam, suddenly had trouble looking up from the cup in his hand, but it wasn't enough to keep the guilty expression that stole across his face from being noticed.
'Careful, Jacob,' Selmak warned. 'You should be pleased they have been able to put that time behind them.'
Jacob nodded, watching the pair closely. He recalled his last visit to Earth and knew as well as Selmak did that it was his daughter's distress that had brought him back as soon as he'd been able to clear it. He'd been responding to a desperate message from Earth, asking the Tok'ra for help in retrieving the Colonel in front of him from a planet he'd been stranded on, but by the time the Tok'ra had been able to respond, Sam had worked miracles and brought him home already.
All had been far from well, though, and Selmak had shared Jacob's concern that Sam had lost weight and had shadows under her eyes - and that the close-knit team SG1 had been seemed to be fraying at the seams. George had explained all about Jack's extended stay on Edora, and then his undercover stint to find out who was stealing technology belonging to the Tau'ri's allies, and he'd seemed concerned, too, that his top team hadn't been able to bounce back as easily as he'd hoped.
It had worried Jacob to the point that Selmak had gotten sick of him and demanded that they ask the High Council for leave to return to Earth to check on Sam - and, Jacob grudgingly accepted, on Jack, too. So here they were, having left the base to check on Sam with George's permission.
Walking in to find his baby girl in bed with her commanding officer.
Though, thinking back, Jacob vaguely remembered seeing a small smirk on George's face when he'd agreed all too readily to lend him and Selmak a driver for the trip...
"The rekam'chtam have very strong views on balance and equality," Sam was saying, more to the top of the kitchen table than to him. "Everyone in their society is paired up at a young age, using some kind of personality reader that was actually quite fascinating but —"
"Car-ter," Jack interrupted again. "Basically, Dad, the rekam'cham'tam-whatever decide that they'd use their little doohickey on those of us who went to negotiate. Sam and I got caught in the beam-thing, and Danvers and Smith from SG-7, and they decided that was cause for celebration and an excuse to do some kind of ritual or ceremony they don't usually get to do with adults."
"A ceremony," Jacob repeated, his eyes narrowed. "And the two of you were selected by this personality reader?"
"We were matched up," Sam admitted, her cheeks flushing. "It was a matching making thing. They insisted we take part in the ceremony, making it part of the negotiation."
'Breathe, Jacob,' Selmak reminded him, sounding far too amused for his hosts liking. 'It is not their fault an alien device realised that they are compatible as a couple. Perhaps it measured attraction, you should ask Samantha –'
"No," Jacob ground out, causing his daughter and her Commanding Officer to look at him. "Sorry. Private conversation." He cleared his throat and fixed Jack with a stern look. "Just what did this ceremony entail and what does it have to do with you being in bed with my daughter?"
"There was rope," Jack said, shrugging a shoulder. "And a lot of native wine. And beer. It was a very... jovial... affair."
"Affair?" Jacob growled.
'Jovial?' Selmak laughed inside his head. 'It sounds like there's a story there.'
Sam sighed, and Jacob didn't miss the Look she threw Jack.
Exasperated, frustrated, tinged with affection.
Not at all appropriate for a subordinate officer to give her superior.
'More like the look a woman gives to her mate,' Selmak pointed out gleefully, as Jacob did his very, very best to ignore it.
"The ceremony itself was like a hand fasting, Daniel could tell you more about its significance and the meaning behind it." Sam waved her hand dismissively. "What we didn't realise at the time was that there was something in the incense they used, combined with the ceremonial wine that was only given to us and the others involved. Basically speaking, we were drugged," she said flatly.
Jacob knew his daughter well enough to know the expression on her face was one she adopted when she was trying to conceal what she was thinking and feeling. "Drugged," he found himself repeating.
"With the really good stuff," Jack added, sounding too gleeful about it to be helpful in anyway.
As Jacob rewarded him with yet another glare, Sam continued the explanation. "We were later informed that there are certain side effects, mostly likely on a temporary basis. We don't know how long they'll last in humans, but in the simplest of terms, we need to be near each other or we start to suffer from withdrawal."
"Yes, Dad." Sam heaved another sigh as Selmak teased him about being a parrot. "We didn't realise it at first, but if we get too far apart, we start to suffer from some serious side effects. It takes a while to happen, but long story short, we ended up in the infirmary having passed out on base because we were too far apart for too long."
As Jacob processed that, he noticed that despite the matter-of-fact way she'd said it, Jack seemed to grow serious, his expression pained as the Colonel edged towards Sam. He stood behind her chair and, although Jacob couldn't see it, he surmised from the way that Sam's shoulders relaxed a little that Jack had let his hand stray to rest on her back or shoulder.
"We were lucky we hadn't tried to leave the base," Jack murmured.
"The other couple...?" Jacob asked gently.
"Smith stayed in her quarters. Danvers left. He crashed his car when he lost consciousness. They're both in critical care. Janet's doing her best but it looks like it's literally till death do us part for the moment."
It was a sobering thought, one that even chased away Selmak's amusement of the situation.
"You're okay?" Jacob asked, looking first to his daughter and then to the man behind her.
"As long as we stay relatively close," Sam confirmed. Giving up the pretence of needing to maintain some form of contact with Jack, she lifted her hand to her shoulder just as he shifted his to become visible to Jacob's gaze. As their fingers laced together, Sam relaxed and leaned back in her chair.
"Doc Fraiser thinks it'll wear off. It does in the rekam'chtam, usually after the initial honeymoon period, which Daniel thinks lasts between two weeks to two months. He's a bit hazy on the details. But we're already able to go a little further away from each other, for slightly longer periods of time."
And damned if he didn't sound a little sad about that, Jacob thought. He caught sight of the slightly wistful smile on his daughter's face and stifled a sigh of his own.
'She loves him, you know,' Selmak pointed out unnecessarily. 'And it is entirely mutual.'
'Yeah, I got that.'
"How long since you were..." Bound. Mated. Married. "Y'know," Jacob finished lamely.
"It'll be a week tomorrow," Sam answered quietly. "We've spent most of that time in the infirmary. Janet wanted to run every test imaginable to see if there was a way to severe the connection or mitigate its effects, but she found nothing."
And it was telling, Jacob thought, that Sam wasn't asking him - the Tok'ra - for help in doing so.
"Well," he said after a long moment. "Looks like I'll have to rearrange the father/daughter vacation I was hoping to take you on."
"I'm sorry, Dad." Guilt passed over her face but Jacob didn't miss the way her fingers tightened over Jack's.
He got the feeling she was apologising for more than the strange alien ritual she'd taken part in, for more than the plans he'd made that would have to be put off.
His heart clenched at the expression on her face, at the end at Jack's jaw tensed and the younger man gazed down at the woman in front of him.
'She thinks she's let you down by falling in love with her commanding officer,' Selmak pointed out gently, solemnly. 'I know it's not ideal, Jacob, but can you think of another you would rather have protecting your daughter?'
That was indeed the question, and the answer one Jacob would grudgingly admit.
Her father stayed until just after lunch. It was still a little awkward but less so than it could've been. They tried to keep the physical contact to a minimum, tried not to let the other side effects of their unanticipated bond show.
But they'd both have been lying if they'd said they weren't relieved when Jacob and Selmak opted to return to the base, leaving them alone once more.
Almost as soon as the door closed behind him, Sam found herself wrapped in Jack's arms, her head tucked under his chin as they cling to each other in the hallway.
'You didn't tell him everything,' Jack thought to her, unwilling to break the silence that fell by speaking aloud.
'He doesn't need to know,' Sam returned just as softly. 'We agreed we'd keep this element of it to ourselves. Smith and Danvers —'
'Might have decided not to mention it,' Jack finished. 'Or their bond might not be as strong. We were told this side of things was rare, so rare the rekam'chtam almost didn't mention it.'
'Only the closest of pairings get this gift,' Sam recited mentally, recalling the words of the Priestess who'd overseen their binding and hadn't realised at the time that the couple in front of her were one of those rare pairings. 'Even when the rest of it fades...'
He pulled away just enough to kiss her forehead, a sweet and almost innocent gesture. 'We'll still have this. We'll always have this. For better or worse, Carter, you're stuck with me.'
She smiled at his choice of words, tilted her face. The next kiss he bestowed on her landed on her lips as they'd both intended. 'I wouldn't have it any other way.'