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Beyond Entrapment

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Carter's lab, Level 19
SGC, Colorado Springs
February 13, 2004

Major Samantha Carter was quietly examining a piece of alien technology at her workbench, trying to focus on her work. It was a welcome task after the month she had had. First she had gotten marooned on Prometheus after she had asked Colonel Ronson for a small detour to investigate a nebula-like gaseous cloud and they had come under attack, with her losing consciousness and thereby missing the call to evacuate the ship. By the time she'd regained consciousness everyone was gone and she and the enemy ship were both stuck in the nebula. The concussion had really done a number on her as she'd been plagued by hallucinations of her father and teammates, and some strange little girl, until she came up with a solution and made a deal with the enemy; she got her crew back and safe passage in return for helping the enemy ship out of the cloud as well.

Two days later she had woken up in the SGC infirmary and heard that she had only been stranded for four days, while it had felt like weeks to her! After an overnight stay to monitor her condition she had been released but put on medical leave. Apparently her massive concussion, exhaustion and slight electrolyte imbalance were reason enough to send her home for two weeks! Knowing she wouldn't be allowed on base and get bored at home Sam had called her brother, Mark, and asked him if she could visit him and his family in San Diego. He had been delighted and while his wife had doted on her for the first few days after learning of her concussion, Sam had gotten annoyed.

That's when Mark had come up with the idea to set her up with one his friends, a cop. At first Sam had wanted to protest but then she'd recalled the decision she made aboard Prometheus to finally get a life and stop using her feelings for her commanding officer as a safe bet, to prevent herself from getting hurt. So, against her better judgment she had agreed to meet this Pete Shanahan and they had gone on a few dates while she was in San Diego. To her surprise she had enjoyed herself immensely as he had made her laugh and feel special and feminine again. Things had gone pretty fast and knowing she had to go back to Colorado Sam had tried to be spontaneous but ended up making a big mistake.

She shuddered, not wanting to be reminded of it and silently chiding herself for getting lost in her thoughts.

It didn't matter anymore, anyway, since she had told Pete he was going way too fast when he started talking about transferring to Colorado, maybe Denver, so they could be together – after knowing each other for less than two weeks! Thank God she hadn't given him specifics about her work or where she lived and she'd told Mark not to give his friend her home address or number either. Fortunately she hadn't heard from Pete since returning home and had quickly been distracted from everything when Jonas Quinn had visited from Kelowna, needing their help. Since she had been cleared for duty after a quick checkup that morning General Hammond had given her the green light and she had accompanied Jonas to his home planet. She had returned to the SGC that same day after a successful mission but because of the nuclear bomb they had set off she had once again been kept in the infirmary.

The CMO, Doctor Janet Fraiser, had wanted to take precautions just in case Sam had been exposed to radiation while in the Kelownan deep underground excavation vehicle, after their friend, Daniel Jackson, had died of radiation poisoning almost two years ago. Luckily, Daniel had simply ascended to a higher plane of existence at the time and eventually descended to join them once again. But Janet hadn't wanted to take any risks despite knowing the DUEV would have to be protected against radiation because it was designed to drill into the planet and would be exposed to heat from magma and radiation from the planet's core. Not to mention that Sam hadn't shown any symptoms of acute radiation syndrome.

The next day Jonas had contacted the SGC to tell them his people had gone over the interior of the DUEV with a fine toothcomb and there had been no signs of radiation, meaning there was nothing to worry about. Janet had just told Sam her blood work wasn't showing any signs of radiation poisoning when General Hammond had called down to the infirmary to share the Kelownan's message, so Sam had been free to go… after letting the good doctor take yet another blood sample.

In the past week Janet had insisted on a quick exam and blood sample every day, just in case of delayed effects and it was really driving Sam crazy. She knew her friend had the best intentions and was just looking out for her but she was finally beginning to understand her CO's hatred of big needles!

"Hey Carter!"

Speak of the devil… Sam looked up to see none other than Colonel Jack O'Neill standing in the door opening and gave him a small smile. "Hi, Sir."

"Whatcha doing?" He asked as he strolled into her lab, leaning against her bench and picking up her project.

She frowned at him while he was fiddling with it like it was a toy and had to resist the urge to snatch it from his hands. Right now they had no idea what the device did but she would prefer it if he didn't break it before she had a chance to find out. Or injure himself with it somehow. "I was working on the device you're playing with, Sir."

The Colonel quirked up an eyebrow and quickly placed the item on the bench's surface. "What does it do?"

"I don't know yet."

"Hm," he said noncommittally. "Well, I hate to tear you away from your latest doohickey, Carter, but we have a pre-mission exam to go to."

Oh! She had completely forgotten about their upcoming mission. It was a standard recon and they'd had the briefing late last night after all the MALP data had finally been analyzed and, like her teammates, Sam had been too tired to drag herself to the infirmary to undergo yet another exam to be cleared for the mission. A quick glance at the clock told her they only had a few hours to spare before they had to gear up and step through the Stargate to explore a new planet, meaning they had to hurry and get the exam done or they wouldn't be allowed to go off-world. "Right."

"Excited, I see," Colonel O'Neill said dryly.

"Oh, don't get me wrong, Sir, I'm looking forward to the mission… just not the exam."

He smirked at the face she pulled and looked pleased to know he wasn't the only one who dreaded this part of their job. "That little Napoleonic power monger finally driving you nuts with those big needles of her?"

Sam absentmindedly rubbed the inside of her left elbow, which probably resembled a pincushion by now after all the blood samples that had been taken in the past week, and then got up and straightened out her tools. "I guess. Janet examined me just yesterday, Sir."

"Hammond said Doc Fraiser had called to let him know SG-1 hadn't been checked out yet and that they were waiting for all four of us at the infirmary," he said. Suddenly his face turned serious and he looked at her intently. "You're all right, aren't you, Carter?"

"Of course, Sir. Otherwise I wouldn't be allowed to work. Janet is just overly concerned about possible exposure of radiation, even though all the evidence shows there is nothing to worry about." She gave him a small, reassuring smile, touched by his concern and after a last glance at her workbench she walked over to him. "We might as well get it over with."

The Colonel nodded solemnly and then his expression cleared, a twinkle appearing in his eyes. "I sent Daniel and Teal'c ahead so hopefully they got all the big needles!"

Sam grinned at his attempt to cheer her up as she followed him out to the corridor and locked up her lab. Hopefully it wouldn't take too long and she could finish her report about the alien device before they had to leave for their two-day mission so another scientist could take over.


1417 hours
Infirmary, Level 21

About half an hour ago Sam and the Colonel had arrived at the infirmary, where Daniel and Teal'c were already being examined on their respective beds behind a curtain. As usual Teal'c had remained silent other than uttering a greeting when they had announced their arrival while Daniel had started chattering away, excited as always at the prospect of exploring a new planet. But the conversation – albeit slightly one-sided – had stopped when the nurses came to lead her and Colonel O'Neill away to their own beds for their pre-mission examination.

After several incidents during the first year of the Program it had been decided every mission would be preceded by a quick exam and SG teams would only be allowed off-world if they were cleared by one of the doctors. Blood samples were also taken but simply stored rather than analyzed because of the number of personnel and the expenses of testing it in the lab. After an SG team had completed their mission they had to undergo a more thorough post-mission examination and the blood samples taken then would be analyzed and if something was off, they would use the pre-mission samples as a base line. Of course there were exceptions to the standard operating procedure, like long-term missions or suspicious symptoms.

Either way, Sam had hoped to forego the pre-mission exam today considering all her visits to the infirmary this past week but it seemed Janet was intent on keeping an eye on her. It was a bit silly though, considering the mission would be simple recon and there hadn't been any signs of radiation sickness so far. However, as the base CMO her friend's medical orders and opinion overruled even General Hammond, so Sam had reluctantly changed into one of the less than flattering infirmary gowns behind her privacy curtains waiting for the medical staff.

To her surprise it had been Janet, once again asking her if there was anything she needed to know and if Sam had experienced anything out of the ordinary. The physical exam itself had been more thorough than in the previous days, including abdominal palpation. It looked like Janet was still concerned about gastrointestinal symptoms, even though those would usually show within hours of exposure to radiation if Sam remembered correctly. Janet had kept an eye on her face while doing the exam and Sam had been forced to admit the palpations had felt uncomfortable but not painful, like one would expect. It hadn't seemed to reassure the doctor, though.

Then she had mumbled something about getting Sam's file plus the results from yesterday's blood sample from her office and had left, without even taking another blood sample! Now Sam was starting to feel uncomfortable about the whole situation and it didn't help that her teammates were already talking among themselves. Clearly their exams were done and since they were talking about the upcoming mission it sounded like they had all been cleared, as expected. She didn't like to be the one holding everything up, but it wasn't her fault Janet was being so overly cautious.

Sam was about to ask one of the nurses if she had to stay here when she heard Janet's voice coming from the corridor, followed by the familiar clicking of heels. Finally! Letting out a deep sigh, Sam tried to relax and straightened her gown before sitting up, determined to not take her frustrations out on the good doctor. "Hey Janet," she greeted her, when her friend slipped through the curtains with a chart in her hand. "So, what's up? For a moment I thought you'd forgotten about me."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you wait but I was going over your test results," she replied, her eyes still on the chart. Then she looked up, her face unreadable. "Sam, you're pregnant."

Her head snapped up and she scowled at the petite doctor. "That's not funny, Janet."

But rather than wink and laugh Janet shook her head. "I'm not joking."

"That's not possible," she frowned. "Someone in the lab must have screwed up the test then."

"We ran them several times and they're all positive."

"So they mixed up the samples," Sam countered defensively. "Clearly someone on your staff mistook someone else's samples for mine or the patient codes were switched around." She was referring to the coding system that ensured the patient's privacy to the people in the labs, who were running the tests and thus would not be able to influence anyone's results on purpose; only the doctors on Janet's staff had access to the system and matched the results up with the right patient using the codes.

Janet continued shaking her head and took a step closer, eyeing the bed as if contemplating whether to sit down or not. She remained standing but looked at her. "I labeled them myself and took them to the lab personally. Heck, I even went against protocol and ran some of your blood work this past week just to be sure."

"It doesn't make any sense, I'm not pregnant."

"Are you still adamant there's nothing I need to know?" She inquired with an intense gaze.

Sam huffed angrily. "I'm not lying, Janet! Maybe it's a false positive."

The doctor rolled her eyes and sat down on the bed. "I know you know that's not true. Maybe there would have been a slim chance of that with a home pregnancy test but not when testing for hCG in your blood."

"Well, maybe there's another reason; aren't there certain tumors that secrete hCG?"

Janet looked at her like she was nuts for preferring a diagnosis of cancer over pregnancy but after taking a deep breath she replied. "Yes, there are, but I eliminated all other possibilities. Believe it or not, but you're pregnant."

"That's just ridiculous!" Sam refused to believe it, knowing there was no way she could be pregnant. "I feel fine."

"You were feeling sick and queasy a little while ago," she reminded her.

Glaring at her, Sam threw up her hands. "I had a massive concussion! You said that was normal, especially because of the accumulative traumatic brain injuries I've had over the years."

"A few days ago you also mentioned your jeans were getting tighter," Janet continued in a softer tone.

"Because my sister-in-law stuffed me full of food during my medical leave and I wasn't allowed to exercise yet."

Her friend looked at her pensively. "You seem to have been craving certain foods lately as well, like those new donuts from the commissary even though you normally don't eat donuts."

Sam snorted and crossed her arms in front of her chest to prevent herself from shaking some sense into her. "Those donuts were different and tasted much better than the old ones. Plus I haven't been chased to the 'gate by Jaffa for a while."

"This is going nowhere."

"That's because I'm not pregnant," she hissed.

Janet sighed and leveled her with an intense stare. "Are you saying you haven't had sex with anyone recently?"

Embarrassed, Sam looked away with burning cheeks. She hadn't told anyone, not even Janet despite her being the closest thing to a best friend she had. "No, but-"

"Why didn't you say something?" She questioned with wide eyes, even though she had to have known or at least suspected considering the test results she was claiming were correct.

"It was a mistake and only happened once… I'd rather not talk about it."

Janet jumped up and flashes of hurt, anger and disappointment were briefly visible on her face before she composed herself again. "As your doctor I need to know these things. You know that! I kept asking you if there was anything I needed to know and you denied it. Not to mention that you should know better than having unprotected one night stands!"

"It wasn't like that," Sam countered angrily, "and we used a condom. Besides, that only happened last week!"

"Plus all the other times you had sex these past few weeks and didn't tell me, right?" She said dryly, tapping her foot.

"No! Just that once, I swear. Don't get mad, I would have told you event-"

Janet shook her head and interrupted her, clearly back into doctor's mode. "As your doctor you should have informed you were engaging in sexual activity, Major Carter. You know that's SOP! I need to know in case something happens off-world and I find evidence of sexual activity during a post-mission exam, especially if you have lost consciousness or time during your mission. I would also have to check for STDs or pregnancy-"

"Yes, because you're so good at that," Sam said sarcastically. "I'm telling you, before Pete I haven't… you know, in a long time. I mean, if I had gotten pregnant then I'd be enrolling the kid in school already. Clearly your test is wrong and if it came back positive multiple times then maybe there's a contamination problem in the lab that you should be focusing on right now."

"We can detect hCG just seven days after conception," she continued, ignoring the remark about contamination. "But I'm pretty sure you're already a couple of weeks along."

Sam rolled her eyes again and reached for her pants to get dressed. She'd had enough of this! "I told you; that is impossible."

"The abdominal palpation-"

"For my radiation sickness?"

"You don't have acute radiation syndrome," Janet replied. "Your blood work showed you are perfectly fine and even Jonas said there were no traces of harmful radiation."

Nearly falling over in surprise as she pulled on her pants, Sam glared at her. "That's what I've been telling you for days and yet you insisted-"

"Initially I ordered an extensive blood work up after you came back from Kelowna and told me about the nuclear bomb but the results made it pretty clear you weren't exposed to radiation. However, they did show changes in your hormonal balance and the presence of hCG in your blood. I didn't want to alarm you before I knew what it meant so I ran quantitative blood tests over the past week and the new results I just received prove you are indeed pregnant."

Suddenly the privacy curtain was moved and Daniel stuck his head in, his eyes wide behind his glasses. "You're pregnant?! Oh wow, I had no idea. Um, I guess, er… congratulations are in order then?"

Sam froze, shocked, and sent a pleading look to Janet. The good Doctor immediately pushed their friend back, all the while reminding him these examinations were confidential and private and that he had no right eavesdropping, let alone barging in… but Sam stopped listening when she felt someone's gaze boring into her and after swallowing hard, she looked up and into the brown eyes of Jack O'Neill.

Oh great, he must have overheard Daniel and now he would think she was in a relationship she had kept secret from him. Never mind that a month ago she had decided to move on with her life rather than pining away for the unattainable – her delicious CO – and had finally managed to convince herself that he was merely a safe bet.

If Janet was right, though and she really was pregnant then Sam would have tried to come up with a better, gentler way to tell him the news after getting to the bottom of this matter. "Sir-"

"Pregnant, eh?" His face was completely closed off and not even his eyes gave anything away. "Good for you, Major."

"You gentlemen will keep this information to yourself and leave the infirmary right now. I have to continue my examination of Major Carter and you have all been cleared for 'gate travel already," Janet stated with a shooing motion of her hands.

Daniel shifted from one foot to another with a sheepish look on his face, but nodded in understanding. "Sure, I'll talk to you later, Sam."

"Of course, Doc," the Colonel said. "I'll let Hammond know Carter will have to sit this mission out."

"I shall not betray Major Carter's confidence," Teal'c said with a regal nod, a small smile tugging at his lips.

Before Sam could even respond the trio was gone and it was just her and Janet in this area of the infirmary. "Major, why don't you go to isolation room two while I make a call to our obstetric consultant from the Academy Hospital. Then when I get back we can continue our exam and conversation in a more private setting than the infirmary."

Chapter Text

1441 hours
Daniel's Lab, Level 18

Jack was pretty sure he was still in shock over Carter's pregnancy revelation when he arrived at Daniel's lab but at least he'd managed to inform Hammond about Carter's absence for the upcoming mission without giving anything away. It looked like Teal'c and Daniel had been waiting for him and if he wasn't mistaken, T even appeared to be relieved with his arrival. Probably because the archeologist wanted to talk feelings and stuff. Great.

"Jack! Did you talk to General Hammond?"

He nodded and sat down on a chair. "Told him Fraiser hadn't cleared Carter for the mission yet and he said he would await the Doc's report. I didn't even have to come up with an excuse."

"I still can't believe Sam's pregnant!" Daniel exclaimed, looking bewildered.

Well, that made two of them, Jack thought grimly. Talk about shocking and unexpected news! He hadn't suspected a thing… Hell, he hadn't even realized she was seeing someone, let alone that the relationship was this serious. Not that he begrudged Carter her happiness or a family, but it still hurt. It may have been three and a half years since that damned zatarc test, during which they had been forced to admit to have feelings for each other that were considered inappropriate given their working relationship and military ranks, but he still cared a hell of a lot more about her than he was supposed to. If anything, his feelings had only grown stronger since then, not in the least because of the things they had gone through. Just last month he'd been terrified of losing her when they lost contact withPrometheus and it had only brought his emotions closer to the surface.

Apparently Carter didn't have the same problem as it seemed she had moved on. Not that he had expected anything from her; the fraternization regulations were there for good reason and he would never jeopardize her career. He wasn't stupid enough to think the war they were fighting would be over anytime soon, either. Jack had more or less resigned himself to his feelings for her and the fact they could never be acted upon since neither of them was planning on leaving the SGC anytime soon – as 2IC of the base he would remain in her chain of command, no matter what team she was on – and by the time the frat regs wouldn't apply anymore it would be too late. Their sixteen-year age difference was troubling enough to him but the only possibility he foresaw was him retiring, which wasn't an option right now, and by then they would be in different places in life.

He would never be able to give her what she deserved; a normal life with a family of her own. It was something he had accepted a while ago but it hadn't changed how he felt about her. He should have realized she had moved on already but for some reason he hadn't seen the signs. "A heads-up would have been nice."

"Jack?"

"Hm?"

Daniel looked at him funnily and pursed his lips pensively. "Janet had just told her she was pregnant, so how could Sam have given us a heads-up?"

Oh crap, had he said that aloud? "Er," Jack leaned back and ran a hand through his hair, thinking of a reply. "I meant about her plans to start a family. That way I would have had time to find a replacement for Carter on the team, since she can't go through the 'gate when she's pregnant." He silently congratulated himself on the nice save and shrugged. "You know I don't like scientists – Carter could have helped me with a selection process, or better yet found someone herself to spare me the hassle. Now we'll either get someone forced on us for every mission or get removed from the mission roster until we find a suitable candidate. It was bad enough when you went all glowy but it's going to be worse to find someone to fill Carter's spot."

"I don't think the pregnancy was planned, it was probably an accident," Daniel said.

"Oh come on, someone with Carter's intellect would certainly know how to use protection."

That earned him a glare from the pissed off archeologist. "Still, I'd like to think she would confide something this huge to her friends."

"Carter can be very private when it comes to personal matters," Jack countered. The disbelieving look he got in return told him that was probably only when it came to him, not Daniel. "I didn't even know she was seeing someone."

"Me neither, but it takes two to get pregnant…" Daniel's voice trailed off, still sounding hurt at being left in the dark.

Jack sighed, trying to think if there had been any indications in Carter's behavior lately. Maybe he had purposely stuck his head in the sand because he didn't want to know? "Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised about this; she turned thirty-five over a month ago and probably feels her biological clock ticking." Not that the thought had ever crossed his mind but it was probably different for Carter.

"I do not believe Major Carter is 'seeing anyone'," Teal'c remarked. "I must agree that she would have confided in Daniel Jackson or Doctor Fraiser, yet neither appear to possess knowledge about this supposed relationship."

Trying not to take offense at not being included in Carter's inner circle of trust according to the Jaffa, Jack considered his statement. Not that he really wanted to think about Carter being in a relationship with another man, let alone carrying that man's child, but that was beside the point. "I guess there were several opportunities for her to come out with the relationship, like her birthday or the Christmas party."

"Well, I can't imagine Sam having a fling or a, eh… one night stand," Daniel mumbled, clearly uncomfortable.

"Just because she isn't falling for every off-world damsel in distress doesn't mean she's a nun, Daniel," Jack said pointedly. Although, in his mind, Carter was certainly not doing any of those things. Her being touched by a man or being intimate with some stranger were so not thoughts he wanted to contemplate. Yet he felt the need to defend her here; she had every right to do whatever she damn well pleased without being judged, especially by her friends. You'd think Daniel of all people would be a bit more open-minded about the role of women in today's society, but maybe their resident anthropologist didn't want to think about that aspect of Carter's life.

Teal'c cocked his eyebrow in surprise and then glanced at the man with a small smile. "Indeed. However, I do not believe Major Carter was aware of her condition."

"Really, why's that?" Daniel asked.

"She was not pleased upon hearing the news and did not accept Doctor Fraiser's diagnosis."

Jack's eyebrows shot up in surprise and for a moment he was stunned. "You… were eavesdropping, T?"

"In such a small confined space with so few people I cannot prevent overhearing certain conversations," the Jaffa said.

After all these years of working together Jack had learned to read his facial expressions and he could tell Teal'c had overheard much more than just that with his superior hearing, but he was far too honorable to spill all the details and Jack respected Carter too much to ask for them. Now that he thought about it she had looked kinda piqued but he'd assumed it was because Daniel had barged in on her private conversation with the Doc and then practically announced it to the entire infirmary. The guy was lucky there hadn't been too many people around!

Instead of paying attention and supporting Carter in whatever she did in her private life, Jack had been too preoccupied with his own hurt feelings and upset at hearing the news. Even now he and Daniel were arguing about it while she was left dealing with the shocking news on her own. At the time all he could think of was keeping the hurt and blame from his face and the accusations out of his tone, not once thinking about how this affected her and how small and pale she had looked on the infirmary bed.

"I was under the impression Tau'ri women could not accidentally fall pregnant," Teal'c continued, pulling him from his thoughts.

"Why, have you been watching Oprah again?"

"I have not, O'Neill, I was merely referring to the events that occurred during the infection with the Touched Virus."

Daniel bobbed his head in agreement and lifted his finger as if getting ready to give one of his speeches. "That's right! Female personnel have to be on birth control, right?"

"Um, I guess, yeah," Jack shrugged.

He rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. "As team commander you are aware of certain medical stuff, right? Like my allergies and medication, Teal'c's tretonin-"

"Daniel, we all know about those things."

"Yes, but you would also know if Sam had asked to stop taking her birth control, right? I've never seen her take a pill off-world and Janet told me it's not safe when someone relies on daily medication in case of meds getting lost or the team getting captured – hence my allergy shots and I'm guessing Sam has, er, other… um, methods of birth control."

Jack nodded slowly, finally catching on to what Teal'c had been implying. "Um, yeah. Female personnel on SG teams have to take a reliable form of birth control."

"So, in Sam's case it couldn't have been an accidental pregnancy if she's not taking the pill but a more reliable method that can't be skipped, right?"

"I guess. I think she gets shots every few months," he replied, shuddering at the thought of more needles. Then again, it was probably preferable to having them insert one of those wire thingies his ex-wife, Sara, used to have.

Daniel was wearing his usual pensive mask as he was processing this information and after a minute or two he broke the silence. "How reliable are those pregnancy tests?"

Jack blinked in surprise when two pairs of eyes settled on him. "How should I know?" It had been over a decade since Sara had been pregnant with Charlie and even then he hadn't been there when she got the test; like most of their marriage he had been off on another continent, fighting for his country on some secret mission. "But Fraiser wouldn't have told her if she wasn't sure."

"Indeed, Doctor Fraiser referred to performing several blood analyses and said they had all been positive; there was no doubt in her mind about Major Carter's condition."

"So, if Sam's on birth control and not seeing anyone… then how could she have gotten pregnant?"

"That's a damn good question, Daniel," Jack said.


1452 hours
Isolation Room 2
Level 21, SGC

Now that she was alone for a minute and settled on the examination table after taking off her pants again, Sam slowly hiked up the hem of the infirmary gown she was wearing. She was still reeling from the diagnosis but having a quiet moment to herself to process it helped. After going over everything Janet had told her earlier in her head she realized that denying all the symptoms wouldn't make them go away. Reading the results on her chart had helped as well; she could see the truth in Janet's words after seeing the outcome of all the analyses in black and white.

Sam cast a critical eye on her stomach and had to admit her lower abdomen was protruding slightly, even with her practically lying down. Normally she didn't pay too much attention to how flat her stomach was or if her waistline had increased or decreased and as long as her clothes fit merely focused on her weight and condition, knowing she had to stay in shape if she wanted to pass her physicals and be allowed to work in the field. The fact that her life or that of her teammates could be on the line when being chased by Jaffa or Replicators if she neglected her fitness was quite the motivation as well. However, she always made sure to work out regularly and that included abdominal exercises and running, either on the treadmill or outside.

Therefore her weight had been in the same range for years and only fluctuating when there were extenuating circumstances, like being held captive, having a deadline, a couple of unexpected strenuous missions in a row and getting carried away with a new project in her lab. Overall, it was more likely she was a bit under her optimum weight than above it, sometimes even getting a reprimand from Janet or the other medical personnel for not eating – regularly – enough and thus getting a bit too skinny for their taste.

But Sam couldn't recall the last time her belly hadn't hollowed out with her pelvic ridges sticking up and her ribcage showing when lying on her back. Lowering herself on the table until she was lying horizontally she noticed her abdomen still looked flat but not as concaved as she was used to. Of course, she had noticed she gained weight more easily now as she got older and had just turned thirty-five, but even sucking in her stomach didn't change much. Poking the tiny bump slightly she realized it felt different too, firmer and not flabby or anything.

That really couldn't be blamed on all the snacks her sister-in-law had been feeding her or the commissary donuts Sam had been eating lately…

Sighing, she sat up again and self-consciously pulled her gown down to cover her thighs. She reached for the chart Janet had handed her and checked the results of her blood tests again. It was just too fantastical – and not in a good way – to wrap her head around. How could she possibly be pregnant? The last time she had been intimate with a guy was with Pete and Janet had mentioned something about being able to detect hCG just a week after conception, but Sam doubted the pregnancy hormone's levels would be this high in such a short period of time. Not to mention them using protection. Even if something had gone wrong with the condom without either of them realizing it, she still shouldn't have been able to conceive due to of her Depo-Provera injections – not to mention the abuse her body had been through the past seven years.

Before Pete there hadn't been anyone in a long, long time and not just because she had been too busy at the SGC; her feelings for Colonel O'Neill had stopped her from dating other men and she had been fine with it. Content. But not truly happy. Clearly, jumping headfirst into a relationship with the first guy that came along after her epiphany aboard Prometheus wasn't the answer either. In short, all the evidence seemed to indicate she was pregnant but technically that wasn't possible – as far as she was aware. That frightened her. It simply wasn't possible, not the natural way at least.

Her left hand automatically went to rest on her stomach while the other held the chart. What did this mean? How had it happened? Shaking herself Sam focused on the papers in front of her and browsed through them, hoping to find a clue. It didn't take her long to find another abnormality, something Janet hadn't mentioned yet; not only was hCG present in her blood but the progestogen from her birth control was… absent.

Gone.

How was that possible? Even if she had been at the end of the three-month period there should still be traces in her system, especially after having used it for years. There was a good reason it normally took the body several months to a year to recover from the use of long-term birth control before a woman was able to conceive, yet it almost looked like it had been flushed from her system!

Maybe it had.

Sam was just wondering whether that was possible when the door opened and for a moment she held her breath, waiting to see who it was. She relaxed when Janet entered the room, holding a folder in her hands and walking over to a chair to move it closer to the exam table. The Doctor was still busy going over the file as she absentmindedly sat down, clearly following her routine.

The silence and delay gave Sam the time to analyze her own reaction and she slowly realized that she'd feared it would be one of her teammates, or maybe all three of them. From his reaction it had been clear Daniel was shocked and a bit hurt, probably because he thought she hadn't trusted him enough to confide in him about the pregnancy. If she had known or suspected she certainly would have told him! He was one of her best friends, after all. Teal'c hadn't really said anything at all, now that she thought about it, but she figured that wasn't too surprising.

The Colonel, though… there had been no emotional reaction, at all! That in itself was probably reaction enough, she realized. His face had been blank, expressionless. The mask he usually wore when he… when he couldn't afford to show emotion! Upon Daniel's announcement he had immediately shut himself off from her, simply accepting it as if she had told him the weather forecast for tomorrow. Considering their confessions during the zatarc testing and everything that had happened since – including memory stamps and life or death situations – it probably was to be expected from him. They had never laid a claim on each other or made a promise for some day, even if that was how she felt on the inside.

Wasn't that what her epiphany had been about?

But, she realized, what really bothered her was how he, Daniel and Teal'c seemed to have just accepted it. Congratulated her, even. Sure, they had been surprised but had easily switched gears, without asking any questions. Did they care that little?

Sam had simply expected more from her teammates. If any of them had told her they were going to be a father out of the blue she would have done a double take and asked more questions, like who was the mother, how long had they been seeing each other and why hadn't they told her? She certainly wouldn't have simply nodded and congratulated them, or said "Good for you, Sir!" to Colonel O'Neill.

"… Major?" Janet placed a hand on her knee to get her attention and smiled. "Deep in thought?"

"Sorry."

"That's okay, I was just asking if you were ready to pick up where we left off."

Grimacing, Sam turned fully towards her. "Right, of course."

Janet looked at the chart abandoned on the bed and waved a hand in its direction. "Have you seen the blood work?"

"Yes, and I still find it hard to believe," she said, "but I know that a pregnancy is the only plausible explanation for the hCG in my system. And look at this," Sam lay back again and showed her the miniscule bump she had discovered.

"I had noticed it during the palpation of your abdomen," the Doctor admitted. "I called the Academy Hospital from my office but Doctor Rosenberg, the consultant I told you about, wasn't available at the moment. I left a message for her to call me back to set up an appointment for you. As you probably already know most of the experience I have in this area stems from my days as an intern and resident, so whenever a situation like this occurs I prefer to rely on Doctor Rosenberg's expertise. Not that we often deal with pregnancies on base; despite the relatively high percentage of women there aren't many that end up pregnant due to birth control methods and possibly because this is a once in a lifetime assignment they aren't willing to give up just yet. However, unfortunately accidents still occur and there are, of course, the occasional off-world cleansing or fertility ceremonies or alien influences and viruses that have unexpected outcomes."

Sam nodded in understanding and sat up again. "Speaking of which… have you seen the absence of birth control in my blood panel?"

"It was on my list."

"What list?"

Janet smiled thinly and indicated a paper atop the folder she was still holding. "Just some questions I need answers to, Major Carter. Now, I brought your medical file with me from my office to verify some things. Including your Depo-Provera injections; it says here you haven't missed one since I proposed the policy in the Program's first year and that you received the last one… in the second week of December, is that correct, Major?"

Slightly surprised by her friend's formality, Sam swallowed hard as she realized she was dealing with Doctor Fraiser now and not her friend Janet. Normally she wasn't like this, not even during procedures, but Sam figured it was because of the nature of her condition and the discussion they'd had earlier in the infirmary. "Yes, I'm not due for another shot in three to four weeks."

"And when was your last menstrual period?"

"Um," she looked away as Janet made some notes and tried to gather her thoughts. "In January, about a month ago."

This seemed to get the Doctor's attention. "You're not late yet?"

"No, I don't have my cell phone with me so I can't check the exact date, but I know it's supposed to be next week."

"You have a history of slightly irregular periods, was there anything unusual about your last one?"

Sam shook her head, thinking back. "No, none that I can think of. It looked normal, not just spotting in case that was your next question."

"And when was the last time you had sex, Major?"

"In the beginning of February, during my medical leave, I had safe sex – once," Sam said, embarrassed. "As far as I know everything was in order with the condom," she added, realizing that would probably be asked next with the suggestion she could have been ovulating around that time. If only she could blame that mistake on her hormones at the time!

Janet nodded while scribbling down a few more notes and then stood up to get both of them a cup of water. When she sat back down next to the bed she looked more relaxed, her face a bit softened. "Sam, why didn't you tell me about this guy… what was his name, Pete? You've been back a week and we saw each other every day, yet you never even hinted at seeing someone. Weren't you staying with your brother and his family?"

"Oh, I'm sorry; is this Janet or Doctor Fraiser I'm talking to?" Sam asked snippily, but the moment the words left her mouth she regretted them and covered her face with her hand upon seeing Janet's reaction. "That was totally uncalled for, I'm sor-"

"No, you're right," she interrupted. "I won't deny I'm disappointed that you kept this from me, both as your friend and your doctor, but I had no right to start treating you as some patient I barely know because of it and then change my tune to your best friend. It's just… I don't know, I think it was the shock and I just kept wondering what else you've been keeping from me."

"I know, I think I'm still in shock and you were also right in that I should have told you; if not as my friend then as my doctor. I shouldn't have overreacted earlier in the infirmary and just now."

Janet waved away her apology and grinned. "At least you can use your hormones as an excuse. I don't have one-"

"Oh please, at least it got a reaction out of you," Sam replied. Seeing the confusion on her friend's face she tried to clarify, blushing slightly. "It's just… well, you were there in the infirmary when Daniel barged in; I know it stunned them momentarily but then they just accepted it, all three of them. I can't wrap my head around that reaction. I mean, they're my teammates and I trust them with my life but I also consider them good friends, yet it's almost like they didn't really care. Or maybe they had never expected me to confide in them about my personal life and introduce them to the guy I was seeing? A pregnancy is something big and certainly something I would share with my friends if I had been planning or suspecting it."

"Don't worry about that right now, honey. They were probably stunned by the news and I could tell from Daniel's tone that he was a bit hurt, but I'm sure he'll come around soon. I didn't really have a chance to gauge Teal'c's reaction but I think Colonel O'Neill just didn't know what to say, think or do… so he tried to be as neutral as possible, like a normal and supportive commanding officer is supposed to be." Janet reached out and squeezed her hand reassuringly. "Just give them some time to process it. You were unwilling to believe me until I gave you a moment and some tangible proof to let it all sink in, remember."

Sam nodded and gave a small smile. "I hope you're right." She didn't want to think her teammates didn't value their friendship as much as she did, especially when it came to the Colonel – despite her realization that she had to move on from him. "It's just that if the roles were reversed… I'd want to know and I wouldn't just nod and smile."

"Yes, well, they're men and they don't have your big brain," Janet quipped, trying to lighten the mood. "Now, drink some water and then we can continue."

By the time Sam had explained about how she met Pete and what happened between them they were interrupted by one of the nurses who told Janet there was a call for her from a Doctor Rosenberg, so she left to take it in her office.

Chapter Text

1509 hours
Infirmary, Level 21
SGC, Colorado Springs

Jack was waiting for Daniel and Teal'c as he lingered near the door, the former trying to charm one of the nurses into telling him where Carter or Fraiser was and the latter simply demanding the information from an orderly in his usual gracious way – he wasn't stupid enough to ask it himself, knowing most of the nurses were wary of him because he tended to terrorize the infirmary whenever he was confined to it. Sometimes, ranks simply didn't matter, especially when it came to medical personnel.

After kicking himself mentally for the hasty conclusions he'd drawn about Carter's condition upon hearing Teal'c's explanation, Jack had decided more information was needed. He knew his feelings for Carter were inappropriate and that they had likely contributed to his reaction, but that didn't matter right now; above all, she was his friend and a damn good 2IC and probably in need of some support. Daniel and Teal'c had agreed and the three of them had quickly gone down to this level only to discover neither Carter nor Fraiser was where they'd left them. A quick perusal of the infirmary hadn't helped so he figured they had either relocated to somewhere more private after Daniel had overheard them or left the base already.

He wasn't sure if the Doc's shift had already ended or not but with Carter's situation his 2IC could easily go home on doctor's orders. It didn't seem like a good idea to start calling the checkpoints topside – no need to draw attention to her – and race to Carter's house in case she'd left already without getting more information from Fraiser about her condition and whether Teal'c had been correct. Plus, he figured it was probably inappropriate to drop by her place unannounced, even if he brought the others. Maybe she didn't even want to see them and that was why she had snuck off without apprising him – her CO – of leaving early.

"So?" Jack asked when both teammates returned to join him.

"The whereabouts of both Doctor Fraiser and Major Carter are unknown."

Daniel nodded and pointed his thumb in the direction of the nurse he'd spoken to. "Lieutenant Rush said that Janet was still around here somewhere. She briefly relocated to her office to make a few phone calls and get some paperwork but disappeared again about ten minutes ago. She hasn't seen Sam, though."

"Hmm, so either they really don't know or they're not telling," Jack concluded. "Well, the Doc said she still had to finish up the exam so I imagine they relocated elsewhere on this level after you barged in and announced Carter's diagnosis to the entire infirmary."

The archeologist had the grace to blush before turning to the corridor. "Ah, erm, maybe we should check out the private rooms then."

"I believe the isolation rooms would fit the requirement for a private examination as well," Teal'c said.

"Okay, let's go. No time to waste, we still have our recon mission coming up even if Carter can't join us."

Ten minutes later Jack figured they had found the room in question, since it was one of the few occupied ones and, looking through the door's window, he could see Fraiser's heels underneath the privacy curtain. He was still debating on what to say to and ask of both women when Daniel was ready to enter the room. "Whoa, what do you think you're doing?"

"Oh come on, that's got to be them," he said. "I feel bad about how I reacted to Sam's news, I should apologize. We all should."

"I have nothing to apologize for, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c replied.

Jack had to give the Jaffa credit for his calm demeanor and attentiveness, otherwise he would have still been wallowing in self-pity – well, in his head at least – about the pregnancy thing and Daniel would still be whining about not knowing every detail of Carter's life. "You can't just go in there, that's a private conversation and I think barging in on them once today is more than enough," he said sarcastically. He didn't want to think about what else they could be doing besides talking and he sure as hell wasn't going to interrupt them and embarrass Carter again.

"Indeed, that would only serve your selfish purposes rather than show your support to Major Carter."

"Maybe I could knock and…" Daniel's voice trailed off when they both shook their heads and he sighed. "Fine, I'll just wait here then."

"Yep, they'll have to finish sometime today and we still have plenty of time to kill before we have to gear up." Jack had barely finished his sentence when the door swung open and Doctor Fraiser appeared.

She looked a bit more relaxed than earlier but it was always hard to tell with her capable of easily switching from friend to doctor, and managing a certain calmness and authority at the same time. "Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson and Mister Teal'c, what can I do for you?"

Oy, she was definitely in CMO mode right now! "Um, we, er… we were just wondering how Carter was doing," he managed to say. "Daniel was inconsiderate before and wants to apologize and Teal'c is worried about how Carter is dealing with this. He thought she looked about as shocked as we were."

"I see," Fraiser said. "Well, I guess Daniel and Teal'c can talk to Sam for a minute then, if they're so worried about her, while I make a phone call."

The words had barely left her mouth or his two teammates disappeared into the room and he stood there, awkwardly staring at the Doc. Clearly she had been less than impressed with his own reaction to the news and he couldn't blame her, whether her opinion was as Carter's friend or doctor. Jack winced under her scrutiny and cleared his throat. "I, um, just wanna make sure Carter's okay. She was kinda pale and quiet in the infirmary earlier. So, ah, I'll just pop in and keep an eye on my team until you return," he said, quickly dashing into the room before she could reply and closing the door behind him.

Jack immediately saw Teal'c standing just outside the half-pulled privacy curtain, facing Carter so he figured it was safe to approach. Peeking his head around the curtain he saw Carter sitting on the exam table, her feet dangling near Daniel's knees, who was sitting in a chair next to her. "Hey."

Carter's head snapped up, her blue eyes still a bit wide and her lips pursed together. "Sir," she said hesitantly, almost as if she didn't want to acknowledge his presence.

"You okay?"

"I was just telling Sam how sorry I am for being so inconsiderate in the infirmary earlier," Daniel said while she slowly nodded in reply.

She cleared her throat awkwardly and averted her gaze, looking down at her hands folded in her lap. "It's okay, it was a bit of a shock for everyone."

"Um, yeah," Jack said. He couldn't help but wonder if she included herself in that statement. According to Teal'c she had been unprepared to even believe the Doc and Carter didn't exactly look like she was jumping for joy now either. A quick onceover showed him she felt ill at ease, sitting there on the examination table with only a hospital gown that reached mid-thigh covering her. He forced himself not to linger on the glimpse of her toned legs and focused on her downcast face.

It wasn't in his nature to apologize easily but he also didn't want her to feel uncomfortable around him because of everything, so he slowly made his way over to her and rather than sit, he leaned against the table with his hip. He could feel both Daniel and Teal'c's gazes on him, but his Major seemed to ignore him. Gently reaching out Jack tipped up her chin until she was looking him in the eye. "I heard you had a hard time believing you, eh, were… pregnant." That wasn't exactly what he'd been told but after seeing her here he hazarded a guess and her reaction confirmed it.

She looked away again and shrugged minutely. "It's true, though. Janet and I have gone over the test results and there's no other explanation."

"You don't sound too happy about it," Jack said softly as he leaned towards her and made eye contact again. Guilt and some other undefinable emotions flitted through her blue orbs before she blinked and they were gone. He didn't want to push her but so far she hadn't told him to back off yet and she looked like she could use a friend – or three – so, ignoring his own feelings, he tried again. "What happened, Carter?"

Daniel gasped and glared at him over her shoulder, probably angry that he was so direct but Jack held up his hand to forestall the man's protest. It wasn't like he was asking her for details – he so didn't want to know – she was just looking so forlorn and knowing her, feeling the need to explain herself. So, despite not really wanting to know he tried to give her an opening in case she wanted to tell them but thought it would be inappropriate or something.

"Yeah, we were… um, wondering if you were seeing someone," Daniel said, wincing, when she remained quiet. "But we figured you would have told us if that was the case," he hastened to add when she looked in his direction.

"I'm not," Carter finally replied after a heavy silence. "Seeing anyone, I mean."

For a moment Jack's heart stopped when he saw the troubled look on her face and he feared the worst. "Carter…"

"Honestly, Sir," she sighed, covering her face with her hands, "I don't know how this is possible."

The three men exchanged confused looks while she kept her head down. At least it didn't sound like she had been attacked by someone and had kept if from him, Jack thought with relief.

Daniel coughed to get her attention and leaned forward with his hands on his knees, squinting at her. "Sam, are you saying you, ah, haven't… you know, er, been with anyone?"

Jack's heart jumped a little at this, even though he had no right to expect her to live as a nun, but the moment of elation was short-lived when he thought he saw something in her eyes that indicated otherwise. Before anyone could say anything though, the clicking sound of Fraiser's heels were heard.

"As you probably already know, Sam and I have gone over her test results," the Doc said in her usual friendly tone after exchanging glances with Carter to ask for permission to share this information. "And near as we can tell there is no explanation for her current condition. Of course, we hope to find out more details when Doctor Rosenberg examines her." Then she turned back to her patient and smiled. "I talked to her and she is able to come here Sunday afternoon to take a look at you."

It hadn't escaped Jack that she expertly avoided giving a straight answer to Daniel's question and thereby also saved Carter from having to explain herself. Still, it really didn't concern them, anyway, he thought grimly. He wouldn't like it if he had to discuss his sex life or lack thereof with his friends, let alone Carter. Nor did he want to know what Daniel and Teal'c were up to when he wasn't around. "Rosenberg?" He asked instead, not recognizing the name.

"An obstetrician from the Academy Hospital," Fraiser replied. "She's one of our specialist consultants that have limited clearance."

Teal'c had a slight frown on his face and for a moment Jack thought he was going to ask what the hell an obstetrician was but he was surprised when the Jaffa opened his mouth. "Has Major Carter been impregnated without copulation?"

"Ah, you mean like immaculate conception?" Daniel asked incredulous.

"Well," Doc Fraiser shrugged with a teasing smile, "at this stage I guess we can't rule anything out; it's happened once, after all…"

"Indeed," Teal'c deadpanned, "Darth Vader."

Jack suppressed a groan of frustration at his friend's obsession when he saw the Jaffa's remark had drawn a small smile from his Major. Jaffa in general perhaps lacked a sense of humor and their jokes were awful, but it seemed like T never failed to lift Carter's spirits when she needed it, so rather than complain he shot his friend a grateful look.

"Um, I think Janet was referring something a little closer to home… you know, in this galaxy," Daniel said impatiently.

"I don't know, I've heard church attendance has decreased over the years but this would be an awful lot of trouble to go through just to get Carter back in church," Jack quipped, pleased to see it elicited another smile from the woman in question.

Teal'c cocked his head and raised an eyebrow in reply. "A child with Major Carter's intellect and warrior skills would be a powerful addition to the Dark Side."

"I know you gentlemen are only trying to help but I doubt any divine intervention was at place here," Fraiser interrupted their banter. "Be that fictional or otherwise."

"Then what do you think happened, Janet? I mean, with Sam on birth control she shouldn't even get pregnant, especially not if she hasn't been with anyone," Daniel said in his naïve way.

With his eyes on Carter's face Jack didn't miss the flinch at the archeologist's last words or the slight flush of embarrassment on her cheeks, but he tried to ignore its meaning. It wasn't his business what she did when she was off duty after all. If he kept telling himself that often enough maybe one day he wouldn't get that uncomfortable feeling in his chest when her love life was mentioned.

Still, knowing Carter she would have divulged any relevant information to her doctor and probably more to her friend, so Fraiser and his 2IC would have a good reason to discard that kind of information. They wouldn't lie about something like this; that would simply be absurd. Perhaps the timing was wrong for the pregnancy and Carter's… fling. He cringed at the word choice but figured it was appropriate and he really didn't want to give her sexual escapades any more thought than he had to.

"Like I said, we're still looking into it," Fraiser replied. "Sam and I have been trying to go over the past few weeks to see if anything pops up, but so far…"

"How far along is she, Doc?" Jack inquired, figuring that would help narrow it down.

Carter looked a little peeved at not being included in the conversation but she too turned to the Doctor for an answer. "Janet?"

"I honestly can't say at this time. The only reason we picked up on it at all was because of the full blood workup I requested after her trip to Kelowna and the small possibility of acute radiation syndrome. Major Carter doesn't appear to be suffering from any of the classical early pregnancy symptoms and hadn't even realized she was, in fact, pregnant until I broke the news to her."

"You weren't late?" It wasn't until all eyes turned to him and Carter turned bright red that Jack realized the words had left his mouth. "Um, sorry, that was, er… inappropriate."

Fraiser looked between Carter and him with a small smile on her face and shook her head. "No, Colonel, that's a valid question and the answer is no, which is what complicates matters. For all intents and purposes the Major should only be a few days to two weeks along, but the hormone levels in her blood and abdominal palpation seem to indicate she is farther along."

"What do you mean?" Daniel asked, looking between the two women for an answer. "Can't there be another reason for Sam's hormone levels?"

"Janet?" Carter prodded, when she looked away uncomfortably. "You said you had checked for other possibilities and that tumors had been ruled out."

The Doc sighed and turned to her patient. "There is one other possibility… multiples would increase the hCG levels, but only up to a certain point."

"Oh, you mean like twins?" Daniel asked, grinning stupidly.

Carter looked less than thrilled, all the color draining from her face and her eyes wide. "What?"

"I didn't want to bring this up until I could confer about your results with Doctor Rosenberg and she could examine you further," Fraiser explained.

"But you are certain Major Carter is indeed with child?" Teal'c asked, after letting everyone else do the talking while he observed.

Doctor Fraiser shrugged before elaborating. "Well, a non-pregnant woman would have less than five milli international units per milliliter in her blood and a post-menopausal woman less than nine and a half. Major Carter has more than ten thousand times that in her blood. Over the past few days I've done quantitative blood tests and it looks like her levels are already evening out, meaning she's probably close to her second trimester already."

"Oy!" Jack was stunned. Carter was in her second trimester yet no one had noticed she was even pregnant?! How the hell was that possible?

"See," Carter tried to smile, but it came across as more of a grimace as she shifted on the table. "That's the strange thing about this whole situation."

Daniel pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, as if the whole thing was tiring him out. "And you've been on birth control the entire time?"

"Doc, what about spot checking?" Jack questioned, when both women nodded in affirmation.

"Jack?"

Fraiser's face cleared up and she quickly reached for a folder, no doubt Carter's complete medical file. "That's an excellent question, Colonel O'Neill," she said, while browsing through it. "See, after being assigned as CMO of this base and experiencing all kind of situations with SG teams returning from other planets, I was asked to establish certain medical protocols to prevent the spreading of alien viruses, detect hitchhiking Goa'uld symbiotes and basically prevent any accidents relating to medical matters in the cheapest way possible," the Doctor explained to the others. "One of the things the brass and I agreed on was that we would spot check for pregnancies under female personnel assigned to SG teams because of certain alien rituals, foods, herbs and plant life could theoretically affect their birth control or fertility. Since doing a monthly test on all women would be too expensive and time-consuming we decided spot-checking would be the best alternative. And, when there are certain symptoms that would indicate pregnancy, of course," she added.

"So, when was the last time I was checked out?" Carter asked, looking at her curiously.

"About… Four months ago," Fraiser said, having finally found the data she was looking for. "October twenty-second, to be precise."

"Oh for crying out loud," Jack muttered, dragging a hand through his hair. "Clearly these things should be done more often! That's still not giving us anything relevant."

The Doctor looked at him calmly and placed the folder back on a shelf. "You're more than welcome to take this issue to General Hammond and the Appropriations Committee, Sir. If they can spare the money for more lab personnel or pay overtime I'm sure we could spot check more often."

"I'm sure you and your personnel do the best they can, Janet," Daniel said apologetically. "Jack's just frustrated because we're worried about Sam."

"What about an ultrasound?"

"Sir?" Fraiser and the others looked at him with surprise written on their faces.

Jack made a vague hand gesture to indicate Carter's abdomen, while trying to avoid looking at it directly, and shrugged. "Can't you, you know, check to see how many babies are in there and how far along Carter is?"

Carter looked pale again at the reminder and shifted on the table before she subconsciously placed a hand on her abdomen. "Janet?"

"I would prefer to rely on Doctor Rosenberg's expertise. She mentioned bringing her own, more advanced, equipment with her to do a thorough examination," the Doc replied, looking uncomfortable at the request.

"But you've done it before, you know how to do an ultrasound," the Major urged. The desperate look on her face and her pleading tone made his heart ache; he couldn't image what she was going through now. "Please, Janet, I need to know."

"Sam…"

She shook her head and set her jaw, looking determined yet he couldn't help but notice the vulnerable glint in her eyes. "We have no explanation for this and I need to know when and how this happened."

"If this happened due to some kind of ritual or alien piece of technology it may not even be Sam's, if it's human at all," Daniel chimed in, seemingly oblivious to the effect his words had on Carter.

Fraiser reluctantly gave in after casting a look at her patient and, following her line of sight, Jack could see why; Daniel's careless words had given her a greenish color and he quietly looked around for something in case she was going to be sick.

"Very well. If you gentlemen wouldn't mind giving us some privacy," the Doc said, already moving towards the corner of the room, where an ultrasound device was standing. There were a few of those at the SGC, in case someone was suspected of having a hitchhiking symbiote and then they were placed in an isolation room to scan their neck. If that yielded inconclusive evidence an MRI would often follow.

"No, stay," Carter said. "Please."

Jack's heart went out to her when he saw how scared and small she suddenly looked, her hands wringing in her lap and her eyes locked to the floor. "Sure," he replied, trying to be lighthearted. "We still have… half an hour to kill before we have to gear up, anyway," he added after checking his watch.

"Of course we'll stay, Sam," Daniel said.

"Indeed."

She looked relieved and per Fraiser's instructions went to lie down on the table as the Doc rolled the device over to her. "Thanks."

"Now, I don't want everyone to get their hopes up. Like I've said before, it's been a while since I did this last; I'm afraid I'm more adept at looking for Goa'uld symbiotes. The sonographic scanner has also been adjusted specifically for that sort of use, so the imagery might be slightly unclear when using it to check the womb," Fraiser said.

Jack averted his gaze when the Doc pulled up the infirmary gown to uncover Carter's abdomen and waited until he saw her covering his 2IC's lower body with a sheet from the corner of his eye to turn back. He was surprised when a hand suddenly slipped in his, the grip tight and looking down he saw Carter anxiously gnawing her lip with her eyes locked on the ultrasound's screen. It looked like she had instinctively grabbed the nearest hands for support, seeing as how Daniel's hand was held in an iron grip as well. "I'm sure we'll see a perfectly healthy baby," Jack said with more certainty than he felt in the hopes of reassuring her.

"Actually, Sir," Carter looked at him, seemingly forgetting about her nerves for a moment, "I doubt we can see much of anything. All animal fetuses go through similar stages of development and early on it's difficult to see the differences between them. For example, human fetuses share a remarkable similarity to calves, hogs and even rabbits at one stage."

"Really?"

"Basic high school biology, Sir," she replied with a smile.

Doctor Fraiser grabbed some gel and squirted it on Carter's abdomen without warning and reached for the transducer with her other hand. "Actually, Sam, I think you may already be past that stage if we go by your hCG levels. What you described happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy but the fact that your hCG levels are so high and already appear to even out would indicate you're entering your second trimester."

Jack tried to give Carter a reassuring squeeze when he felt her grip tighten in response to the Doc's words. "Let's see what Baby Carter looks like, eh?"

Teal'c silently stepped closer until he was standing next to Jack and his gaze was firmly fixed on the screen, curiosity written all over his face. It was only then that Jack realized the Jaffa had never seen anything like this and he briefly wondered at the differences between human and Jaffa fathers-to-be. But as soon as the screen popped to life and a rapid heartbeat sounded through the small isolation room, all thoughts were forgotten and his eyes were glued to the monitor.

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, Colorado
February 14, 2004

Sam huddled closer in the blanket she had wrapped around herself when another shiver ran down her back and tore her gaze away from her laptop. She hadn't slept well last night – not surprising after the bombshell Janet had dropped – and now she was cold and tired. Too tired to get up and fiddle with the gas fireplace's settings. Her eyes were burning as well, from the lack of sleep and staring at computer screens and books for most of the day. God, she felt miserable.

Idly she wondered if that was the fault of the fetus growing inside of her and whether she was only experiencing these symptoms now that she was aware of its existence.

The ultrasound from yesterday hadn't given much answers, like Janet had warned beforehand, but at least now Sam knew there really was a fetus in her womb and fortunately it was only one. According to Daniel it "looked human enough" and she had to admit it had looked more like an undeveloped baby than she had expected.

Teal'c had been fascinated by the whole experience of seeing an unborn child on the monitor but she herself had been less thrilled. Of course, with his annoying habit of seeing right through her façade the Colonel had noticed it and tried to lighten the mood by saying the baby was frowning and squinting at its hand the way she looked at a doohickey.

It was nice to know her teammates were supportive and had just needed a moment to get over the shock of her unexpected pregnancy, which seemed to indicate they valued their friendship as much as she did. However, in the end she was the one to whom it was happening. The one who had a new life growing inside of her. Something she hadn't asked for and it terrified her. How had she ended up like this and why hadn't she noticed anything?

There were still too many unanswered questions. Not only had she been unaware of the pregnancy but she also had no idea how far along she was exactly, meaning pinpointing the conception was even more difficult. The fact she had her period less than a month ago contradicted the development of the fetus, even she could tell that with her untrained eye and limited knowledge of babies.

After her sleepless night Sam had slept in this morning and once she'd had breakfast she had gone over her calendar and checked everything in her schedule since roughly three months ago. Nothing had popped up though, no brilliant epiphanies about when this could have taken place. She had also checked her off-duty hours but she didn't really have much of a social life and usually only went out with Janet or her teammates. In the unlikely event she had been drugged and attacked she was also pretty sure someone would have noticed at work, especially with all the exams she underwent and blood tests that were done for every mission.

Her stomach roiled at the mere thought but she wasn't naïve enough to rule it out, although that still didn't explain the lack of birth control hormones in her system. Tomorrow, when Doctor Rosenberg would examine her she could pinpoint the date of conception, which should make it easier to determine the possible methods of impregnation. Still, her schedule for November and even December showed an almost pathetic number of times she had gone out, and those were all with friends and times that she got home safely – spending the night alone. Perhaps that meant it had happened off-world and she and her teammates would have to go over every mission report they'd filed around the time of conception to see if there were discrepancies in their experiences.

When she shivered again she finally got up and started to make coffee, before deciding to take a shower in the hopes of warming up and moved towards the bathroom. Ten minutes later Sam finished up and reached for a towel when she thought she heard the doorbell and wondered who could possibly be dropping by. Pausing, she pricked up her ears but not hearing anything she figured she had imagined it and wrapped the cloth around her body. With a wiper she cleaned the misted over mirror above the counter and then applied some facial cream.

"Carter? Oh, Caaarter?"

Sam froze as she heard the voice of her CO coming from her entry hall and wondered what the hell he was doing at her house. She grabbed the robe hanging on the bathroom door and slipped it on before venturing out in the hall. "Sir? What are you doing here?"

Colonel O'Neill actually looked surprised to see her. "Carter! I didn't think you were home."

"Then why are you here, Sir?"

"Um," he averted his gaze, looking everywhere but at her as he absentmindedly brushed some snow off his shoulders and hair. "Well, after we got back from our overnight recon mission the Doc wanted to keep Daniel in the infirmary. Apparently he's been having trouble sleeping lately and he was so exhausted he fell asleep during his watch," he grumbled. "Something about weird dreams, or something. Anyway, they gave him a mild sedative to catch up on some hours of shuteye in his base quarters."

Sam allowed herself a small smile, realizing that explained the strange and incomprehensible message Daniel had left on her voicemail earlier today. "Okay… but that still doesn't explain-"

"Oh!" The Colonel looked abashed and held up a small bag. "Daniel wanted to swing by once we got back but since he's staying on base he asked if I could drop this off. Teal'c was supposed to join me but he got called away for a meeting with the Rebel Jaffa and Doc Fraiser insisted I check up on you since it's practically on my way home anyway."

"Give me a minute to get dressed, Sir," she said, pointing in the general direction of her bedroom.

"That's okay, Carter. I wasn't planning on staying."

For some reason she felt strangely disappointed but like the dutiful second-in-command she nodded in understanding. "Of course, Sir. I'll walk you out."

"I didn't mean to barge in on you but with all the lights out I figured you were probably on a hot date, so I used my emergency key to leave the bag in the hall," he explained.

"A hot date?" Sam snorted in amusement. Right now, dating was the last thing on her mind!

Colonel O'Neill shrugged and looked ill at ease as he made his way over to the door. "Yeah, you know, it being Valentine's and all."

She frowned for a moment, not having realized the date up until now. It had clicked that it had been Friday the 13th when Janet had given her the awful news yesterday, but she hadn't made the connection with the commercial holiday. That also explained Daniel's present, she thought to herself; the last few years he'd usually gotten her a card and a clichéd teddy bear or chocolates for Valentine's Day. She thought it was cute that he made the effort, knowing the gesture was innocent and didn't have a hidden meaning since he also gave chocolates to the female infirmary personnel, seeing as how much time he spent there. "I hadn't even realized, Sir."

"Must have bigger issues on your mind right now, eh?" He said with a grimace, glancing down at her stomach.

"You have no idea," Sam muttered dejectedly as she reached for the doorknob. To her embarrassment her stomach started growling just as the Colonel was coming up behind her.

"Carter, when's the last time you had something to eat?"

She blushed and turned to look at him. "Um, I had some… er, lunch a few hours ago."

He just looked at her sternly for a minute before checking his watch. Sighing, he seemed to come to a decision. "You like Chinese takeout, don't you?"

"Uh, I guess, Sir."

"Okay," he nodded to himself and then gently grabbed her by the shoulders and moved her aside. "I got myself some takeout on the way over here, there's enough for two."

Realizing he was going out into the snow again to share his dinner with her Sam held out a hand, not wanting to impose on his free evening. "Oh, really Sir, that's not necessary."

"You need to take good care of yourself, Carter," the Colonel countered as he grabbed the doorknob. As if rethinking his decision, he stopped and glanced at her with a sheepish look on his face. "Unless, of course, you don't want the company… that's fin-"

"No! I'd love some company, Sir," she hastened to say.

A boyish grin was shot her way before he pulled open the door. "Okay, be right back!"

Sam watched him go and left the front door open figuring he could find his way to the kitchen, and snuck back into her bedroom to change into something a bit more appropriate. Putting on some clean underwear she caught a glimpse of her body in the full-length mirror and couldn't resist taking a closer look. She focused her gaze on the reflection of her abdomen, twisting and turning from side to side to check it out from all angles. In the dim light she could see the miniscule bump as she rested her hand on it, but she knew it wouldn't be visible to the casual observer.

Not yet, anyway.

Her breathing hitched as realization came down on her in full force, making her look down her body at the offensive change with wide eyes. "What am I supposed to do now?" She hadn't asked for any of this and she certainly hadn't expected or planned for herself to become a single mother at this stage of her career.

And she really, really would have preferred it if Daniel hadn't mentioned the possibility of the baby not being human. Now she couldn't forget about it. Sure, it had looked like a human fetus but how much experience did she have on the subject anyway? Maybe this particular alien race was different from regular humans, meaning she wasn't as far along as she would be with a normal pregnancy. Of course, even if it was her ovum that had somehow been fertilized the product could still be a human/alien hybrid, or something.

God, Sam didn't even want to think about that possibility.

She should probably ask Janet about the security clearance this consultant from the Academy Hospital had, just in case it wasn't a normal fetus inside of her. Sam knew Doctor Rosenberg had some idea of what went on at the SGC because of her previous work at the base but didn't know the extent of the information the woman had been read in on…

A knock sounded on the door. "Carter? Dinner's ready."

Catching her sappy smile in the mirror Sam silently chastised herself for the reaction his simple words elicited. He was just being a good CO and a supportive friend. It was clear he didn't really want to be here but he had still dropped by when Daniel and Janet had asked him. Okay, so maybe he had relied on Teal'c to accompany him to make this less awkward but there was no reason why the two of them couldn't just have dinner together, like normal people.

"Coming, Sir," she called over her shoulder. With three large steps she was near her dresser and quickly got her sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt out. A minute later she was dressed and dragging a comb through her hair.

It was just dinner, she reminded herself. After putting on some socks Sam made her way out of the bedroom and walked into the kitchen. To her surprise there were only a few empty takeout boxes sitting on the counter, along with two glasses of water. "I think I have a couple of beers in the fridge, Sir, or maybe some wine," she called out, silently wondering if he even drank wine.

"Water's fine, Carter," was his distant reply.

She stepped into the living room, recognizing the stacked books on the coffee table as the ones she'd been reading all day – in the dining room. "You didn't have to go through the trouble of cleaning up, Sir," she said, finally spotting him near the set dinner table.

"No trouble at all," he replied, looking at her over his shoulder. "I figured this would be more comfortable than on those high chairs of yours in the kitchen."

"The sofa would have been fine too," Sam protested softly. She hardly ever ate dinner in there, only using the dining room for when she was working at home and needed more space or comfort than her study could offer, just like this afternoon. Only when it had gotten darker and colder and her back had gotten stiff from the dining chairs had she moved to the sofa with her laptop.

Colonel O'Neill smiled impishly at her when she rounded the table and faced him. "Wasn't sure you were the kind of person to eat off the couch… Of course, that was based on how neat, tidy and organized your lab always is and before I saw the books strewn all over the table. I hadn't expected such a mess, Carter. Or all the pictures and knickknacks."

She knew he was only teasing but couldn't stop the flush creeping up her cheeks. He had only been here a handful of times, she realized and it was usually work-related so he probably hadn't paid much attention to the interior design or decorations. Team nights were usually spent at his place, or a bar in town, and Christmas was often at Janet's house. "If I'd known you were coming I'd have tidied up, Sir."

"It's no big deal," he grinned, gesturing for her to take a seat. "Seems like you've had your nose in those library books all day. Fraiser half expected you to be in your lab today, but I can see why you stayed home."

"I couldn't stand the uncertainty and figured I should probably look into this whole…" Sam gestured at her abdomen before sitting down. "… thing. From what I read it seems she was right about me being in my second trimester."

"We'll know more tomorrow, when that consultant checks you out with her fancy equipment," the Colonel said.

Then he turned and went into the kitchen, presumably to get the drinks she'd forgotten to take with her. Now that she was seated Sam was pleasantly surprised to see the effort he'd taken into setting the table. It wasn't anything fancy or romantic but certainly more than she would have done if she was alone. Somehow, this felt more intimate and the fact that this was the first time outside of work that the two of them had dinner together without the rest of the team contributed to that feeling, just like the dim lighting throughout the house and the snow blowing against the window in the darkness.

Had circumstances been different she might have even enjoyed it.


"Oh and Carter?" Jack leaned over the back of the sofa to look into the dining room. "This," he held up a plate with two pieces of toast that were barely nibbled on, "does not constitute as lunch." She ducked her head in embarrassment but didn't say anything, so he figured she got the message. He'd found the 'meal' underneath the books on the dinner table to his surprise. From the looks of it she hadn't been very hungry and more or less just forgot about her toast after placing a book atop the plate.

It hadn't escaped his attention that the books had all been about getting pregnant, pregnancy and the development of the fetus but nothing so far about once the baby came out. A quick peek at the laptop's screen before closing it had shown all the notes she'd made, comparing the information Fraiser had provided with what was in the books and Carter's very own timeline for the past couple of months. If there had been even the slightest doubt in his mind about whether she was telling the truth about not knowing how she'd gotten pregnant all the work she had done today was enough to convince him. The number of books and the details of her notes indicated how frantic she'd been researching the matter since leaving the infirmary yesterday.

Grabbing the glasses of water he made his way back to the table and set them down, taking his own seat across from Carter. Jack tried to ignore how natural it felt to be sitting here having dinner with her as she gave him a small smile before digging in to her meal. After a moment of silence he decided to tell her about the recon mission she'd been forced to sit out as he slowly ate his meal, knowing Carter would probably try to read up on their mission reports anyway.

Conversation was soon flowing naturally and he even managed to draw out a few genuine smiles from Carter, which pleased him immensely after how quiet and more or less withdrawn she had been since yesterday. She was looking tired too, dark circles present under her eyes and he figured she probably hadn't slept well, so Jack took it upon himself to do most of the talking even though he normally wasn't that talkative. To his surprise Carter actually cleared her plate before he did, so he offered her the rest of his food but she claimed she wasn't hungry anymore. He knew she'd eaten quite a bit so he accepted her answer and quickly finished up his own meal.

She got up and started collecting their plates and glasses, intent on clearing the table apparently. "I made some coffee before I took a shower but it's probably already cold. I could make us-"

"I'll do it. You go curl up on the sofa," he said, taking the dishes from her and making his way into the kitchen before she could protest. Five minutes later he joined her in the living room, dishwasher filled up and two steaming mugs in his hands. "There ya go."

"Hot chocolate?" Carter questioned, her nose scrunched up in confusion.

Jack winced, knowing she wasn't going to like it. "Um, the Doc said you probably shouldn't drink too much caffeine. Coffee contains at least ten times more."

"Oh great."

A long silence followed during which he sipped his hot chocolate and he was pleased to see Carter slowly relax again as she pulled a blanket from the back of the couch and placed it over her lap, tucking her feet under her. He knew he was no good at talking feelings but his gut instinct was hardly ever wrong and even before he came here it had been telling him that his 2IC was – understandably – less than pleased with the situation she found herself in and he was even more convinced of that fact now. So he figured this wasn't the right time to bring up Fraiser's question about whether Carter had picked up the prenatal vitamins she had prescribed.

After placing his now empty mug on the coffee table he leaned back in his seat and studied Carter's profile in the dim lighting as she breathed in the scent of hot cocoa, eyes closed and lips resting on the mug's rim. Dinner and the hot beverage had brought some color to her face but she still looked tired, almost troubled even. Jack couldn't begin to understand what she was going through; he'd had a mild panic attack when Sara told him she was pregnant and they'd been married and planning a family at the time!

Carter, however, was a career officer – a pretty damn good one, too – and a single woman, who'd had no intention of having a kid and raising it on her own. Yet here she was, clearly still reeling from the news that she was expecting a child whose conception, and parentage even, was a complete mystery. Jack could still remember how Sara had often been complaining about practically raising Charlie alone, since he himself was away on missions so often but he had still been there when it mattered, and Charlie had been loved and wanted…

Samantha Carter hadn't asked for any of this and Jack couldn't help but recall the expression on her face during the sonogram. The Doc had indicated everything as best she could and just like the guys he'd been transfixed by the image of that tiny baby, but one look at Carter had sobered him right up. She had bravely tried to paste a smile on her face but he saw the misery and fear in her eyes, how her trembling lips had formed a wan smile when everyone looked at her all excitedly. Even Teal'c had looked excited compared to her and Daniel had been positively giddy in that somewhat naïve way of his, clearly not thinking about the impact this would have on her.

Jack hated that someone had done this to her without her consent and knowledge, causing her eyes to lose that sparkle and dimming that bright smile of hers. He silently vowed to do everything in his power to find out the truth and support her in whatever way possible. She deserved a whole lot better than this!

"So, how are you really dealing with all this, Carter?" He asked quietly, waiting for her to look up and meet his gaze.

"Honestly, Sir? I have no idea…"

Jack's heart clenched at her soft tone, laced with defeat. It scared him to hear her use those words because she always had an idea, even when the fate of the planet was at stake. "You know I'm no good at this crap… but I want you to know that we're here for you if you need us, okay?"

She smiled a little and nodded. "And I appreciate that." But it was almost painfully obvious that she felt she was in this alone – and in a way she was, he realized.

"Whatever you decide," he tried gently. When she turned her attention back to her beverage without so much as an acknowledgment of his statement, Jack tried to see this through her eyes. There she was, once again, forced to share her body with something that could quite possibly be alien and one way or another would change her irrevocably. Okay, it wasn't a snake wrapped around her spine or an alien entity downloaded into her brain hell-bent on taking her over her life and body, but she had still been violated, used and left to deal with the consequences alone.

"Thank you, Sir," Carter said, after a moment of silence.

Jack nodded and moved to get up. "Maybe I should get going. It's getting late and no offense, but you look like you could use some sleep."

"Dinner was great, thanks."

"Don't get up, I can walk myself out." He held up a hand to forestall any movement from her and when she relaxed into the cushions again, he grinned and leaned over to properly tuck the blanket around her. "Oh and don't forget Daniel's present, or you've put up with me all evening for nothing."

Carter held out her hands when he retrieved the bag and placed it on her lap, a blush gracing her features. "It's just a silly Valentine's Day gift, it doesn't mea-"

"I know." And he did, he knew Daniel always got her something for Valentine's and all the other holidays that were considered inappropriate to give your 2IC a little gift, so he never did. Not because he didn't want to but because he didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to her and his inappropriate feelings. Apparently civilians like Daniel could get away with small things like those, especially with him giving half the female personnel on base chocolates for the commercial holiday even though technically the frat regs applied to relationships between civilian contractors and military personnel as well.

"Wait, Sir," she called out when he moved to leave. "Sometimes there are chocolates in here and you might like one for the road."

Jack replied to her shy smile with a lopsided grin of his. Shoving his hands in his pockets he impatiently rocked on the balls of his feet. Hey, he'd take what he could get and if that meant Carter was inadvertently giving him chocolates for Valentine's Day then he'd be a happy man. "Sweet!"

Carter looked up at him from underneath her lashes as she dug around in the bag and her smile widened. "A card," she muttered, lifting the item. It had one of those standard Valentine's greetings on it and he was pleased to see her only glance over it briefly to check the message on the inside before putting it aside again. "Daniel wrote another apology on it."

"Ah," he nodded. "He ordered it online yesterday before we left for the mission and wrapped it up today." Jack had been there, feeling slightly envious that Daniel could just order a card and gift online for her when he himself couldn't even afford to show any affection to Carter and had brusquely stalked off to gear up. Then he'd been confronted with it again this afternoon when the archeologist asked him to drop by his personal quarters on his way out. Daniel had shown him the neatly wrapped package before stuffing it in the bag and making him promise to deliver it to Carter personally. "I think there were even two gifts."

"Ooh," she said, locking eyes with him, "chocolate and a teddy bear maybe?"

He chuckled, even though he realized her enthusiasm was mostly show. But at least she was trying. "Who knows. Maybe it's all the guilt over eavesdropping."

Carter quickly unwrapped the first gift, showing a corny stuffed bear holding a red heart in its paws. "It's cute," she said, briefly holding it up for him to see before taking the last item out of the bag. ""I'm really sorry"," she read aloud from the small attached card.

"Hmm, maybe he's really sorry," Jack said dryly. But she didn't respond and taking a closer look he realized all humor and color had been wiped from her face as she stared at the opened gift.

Baby booties.

Five pairs of tiny knitted booties with cute little furry animal heads on 'em. Christ! "I'm gonna kill him," he muttered, scrubbing a hand over his face. God, why did Daniel always have to put his foot in? For someone so smart he sure could be stupid!

"No," Carter cleared her throat awkwardly and blinked a few times. "It's okay, Sir. He's just…"

"… being Daniel?" Jack asked acerbically.

"He's just being nice and supportive," she said, absentmindedly collecting the discarded wrapping paper.

"Gimme that," he muttered, tossing the paper aside and placing the offending booties on the coffee table out of her reach. Seeing her draw her legs up even further to wrap her arms around them Jack plopped back down onto the sofa next to her and put his arm around her shoulder. "C'mere." Carter didn't really cooperate, her muscles tensing against the move but she didn't fight him as he awkwardly pulled her into a hug.

They sat like that for a while and at some point she finally relaxed against him, letting her head rest in the crook of his neck and he simply held her. After an hour he realized she had fallen asleep and gently caressed her cheek with his thumb, but she didn't stir.

"Carter?" Not getting any response other than her soft snore Jack pulled away slightly and maneuvered her limp body so that he could easily lift her, leaving the blanket behind. The sofa was no place to spend the night, certainly not in her condition so he quietly carried her to her bedroom, where he placed her on the covers and took her fluffy socks off. From the other side he pulled the covers down and laid her on the mattress and was surprised she remained fast asleep.

It probably wouldn't be very comfortable to spend the night in her clothes but he so wasn't going to remove anything else. He leaned over to the nightstand to disable the alarm, hoping she would take the opportunity to sleep in and after casting a last glance at her still flat stomach, he pulled the covers up to her chin.

"G'night, Carter," Jack whispered, leaning down to give into the urge to press a kiss to her forehead before leaving.

Chapter Text

Isolation Room 2
Level 21, SGC
February 15, 2004

Sam hadn't really been surprised to find her teammates waiting for her when the elevator doors opened on this level, ready to escort her to her next examination. It was a nice gesture of support but while she'd been grateful to have them present when Janet did her ultrasound on Friday, she wasn't sure how to feel about their presence today after the reactions the experience had elicited from them.

Last night the Colonel had made it clear he was really trying to help her deal with the situation she'd found herself in despite the awkwardness it had created between them and quite frankly, that was more than she could have hoped for. There had been some subtle hints about her having to take good care of herself now that she was pregnant – like the gentle rebuke about lunch, eating a proper dinner and drinking too much caffeine – but overall he had just been there and offered his support, no matter what. It was nice. This morning she realized his thoughtfulness extended even further when she woke up in her own bed fully dressed with no memory of getting off the couch last night and because of that gesture she had more or less expected him to be waiting for her once she got to the SGC for her appointment as well.

Teal'c could always be counted on to support any of them and whenever he was unsure of what to do when it came to Tau'ri matters, he seemed to follow Colonel O'Neill's lead, so his presence made sense too. Not to mention how intrigued he'd been during the sonogram, something that had briefly made her wonder about the role of fathers in Jaffa culture – in particular during pregnancy. The only reason she could come up with for him possibly not being there was the matter with the Rebel Jaffa the Colonel had mentioned at her house. Hopefully it was a good sign Teal'c was back already, but her questions about that matter would have to wait until after her exam.

Daniel had done everything he could to show his support, in his own way. Under normal circumstances Sam probably would have welcomed his overzealous nature, however her current condition was anything but normal and he seemed to fail to grasp that. Or maybe he purposely ignored it. Perhaps he simply was that naïve. She couldn't fault him for being supportive but at the same time his blind acceptance was frustrating. His blunt comments about the fetus and its parentage for example had only caused her more apprehension about this whole… thing. And the baby booties had been like a kick in the gut, even though she knew Daniel had nothing but good intentions. From his tentative manner today and the dark looks the Colonel threw his way every few minutes, Sam figured her CO had already spoken to Daniel about his attitude and probably warned him to back off or perhaps just to be more thoughtful and considerate rather than so enthusiastic.

Either way, Sam was grateful for it but slightly apprehensive about what today's exam would bring.

In spite of all the research she had done yesterday to determine what exactly had happened to her to end up pregnant she still didn't have a lot of answers, which only served to make her more nervous about her appointment with the obstetrician. She had never met the doctor Janet had contacted and considering she'd never been pregnant before this was completely unfamiliar terrain for Sam. She felt a little out of her depth if she was honest. Her closest friends were her teammates and Janet and none of them had ever gone through a pregnancy themselves.

Teal'c had a son but she didn't think the Jaffa would be of much help on this subject and while the Colonel had been a father, she didn't feel comfortable broaching the subject with him after the heartache and grief he must have gone through losing his boy. Not to mention that the experience would have been different for them as men and Sam doubted either of them could relate to her situation. Janet was a mother but she had adopted Cassandra when the alien girl had already been twelve years old, so she also didn't have any experience being pregnant.

Sam was just starting to feel uncomfortable with the silence in the room and the three pairs of eyes on her, when the door opened and Janet came in, followed by an older woman with dark hair tied back in a ponytail and both of them wearing a doctor's coat. Teal'c quietly got up to hold open the door while the two women pulled in some heavy-looking equipment behind them. It was on wheels and had one of those anti-static frosty clear vinyl covers over it, making it unclear what kind of device it actually was for which Sam was glad.

After the sonogram on Friday she and Janet had informed General Hammond about her condition and because of the mysteries surrounding it he had agreed to keep it under wraps for now. She knew Janet's staff was discreet when it came to medical matters but she was also aware of the fact that Doctor Rosenberg had to be checked in – equipment and all – topside, then change elevators and go through another security check before finally reaching level twenty-one, meaning there was plenty of personnel the woman would encounter on her way in. If anyone saw the prenatal ultrasound machine and heard Sam Carter was in the infirmary for unknown reasons with her team flanking her every move the rumor mill would be working overtime, especially if someone recognized Doctor Rosenberg or knew where her expertise lay.

"Sam," Janet said once they were all in the room and the door was closed, "let me introduce you to Doctor Rosenberg, the obstetric consultant from the Academy Hospital I told you about. Doctor, this is Major Samantha Carter."

The dark-haired woman smiled pleasantly and shook her hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Major."

"Ma'am," Sam replied, unable to express anything remotely akin to pleasure at meeting her due to the circumstances. "My teammates, Daniel and Teal'c, and my commanding officer Colonel O'Neill." She watched as the guys all nodded at the doctor, who returned the gesture and started to remove the cover of her device.

"Doctor Fraiser was just bringing me up to speed on the circumstances surrounding your condition," Doctor Rosenberg said once she was done. "She informed me of some of your test results as well as a few discrepancies in her findings, so I would like to start my examination with another sonogram. There's no need to get changed into a hospital gown."

Sam smiled her gratitude and handed the gown she'd already picked up from the exam table over to Janet. "Okay," she nodded and lay down on the table.

"If you gentlemen would please leave and close the door behind you," the woman continued, "we can begin."

"Doc-" The Colonel said, looking at both of the women wearing a white coat.

"Um, can't we stay?" Daniel asked simultaneously.

Doctor Rosenberg simply shook her head as she made her way over to Sam. "This is a private and confidential examination, where I might have to ask the Major some sensitive and personal questions. As I understand it, Colonel, you will be updated on her medical condition as her commanding officer by the CMO and base commander and if Major Carter wants to share the details of the exam with any of you once we're done then she is free to do so. However, I would prefer the actual examination take place with just my patient and Doctor Fraiser present."

Daniel was about to argue with the woman when the Colonel placed a restraining hand on his arm and turned to her. "You gonna be okay, Carter?"

"Yes Sir."

"Fine," Daniel said with clear reluctance, "we'll wait in the corridor for you."

Teal'c raised his brow before correcting him. "The commissary will be more circumspect. Perhaps Doctor Fraiser can notify us when Major Carter is finished and able to inform us of Doctor Rosenberg's findings."

Janet cast a quick glance her way and nodded. "Of course. Make sure to save Sam some lunch."

"Okay," Colonel O'Neill said, "we'll see you in a bit, Major."

"Thanks guys," Sam replied, watching them slowly move towards the door to leave.

Doctor Rosenberg came straight down to business, already having turned on the ultrasound device and looked at her with a gentle smile once the door closed behind the men of SG-1. "Doctor Fraiser told me she informed you to drink plenty of fluids before the ultrasound?"

"Yes, I had a bottle of water about an hour ago."

"Very well, if you could just unbutton your pants and lift your shirt a bit, Major Carter…"

Sam did as she was told and lay back again, sharing a nervous smile with Janet who was standing on her other side. It looked like her friend was mostly keeping to herself, acting as if she wasn't there and allowing the consultant to take the lead. For some reason it made Sam feel better, almost as if instead of being just the base CMO Janet was here as her friend too. "Jan- eh, Doctor Fraiser performed a quick ultrasound Friday on my insistence to check whether I was really pregnant-"

"She already told me," the dark-haired woman interrupted. "Just relax, Major. I'm just going to squirt some gel on your stomach to eliminate any air pockets between your skin and the transducer I am going to use, because those can block the sound waves from passing into your body."

"Major Carter is a theoretical astrophysicist," Janet informed her colleague.

Doctor Rosenberg nodded in understanding and proceeded to place the transducer onto her stomach. "In that case I don't think I have to explain to you how an ultrasound works, Major. So, let's see what we have here… Oh, the pressure on your bladder might be a bit uncomfortable after drinking so much water," she said when Sam winced, "but the less air present in your bladder the clearer the image will be at this stage."

"It's fine," she reassured both women. There was hardly anything visible on the monitor as the consultant moved the transducer over her abdomen, clearly searching but she couldn't help herself. "Can you tell how far along I am?"

"Doctor Fraiser told me the, er, origin of your pregnancy was undetermined," the woman said. "You haven't had sexual intercourse as far as you're aware?"

Sam shook her head in reply, clenching her teeth when suddenly the fetus' heartbeat could be heard. "According to Janet," she looked at her friend, "I'm about three months along and I am absolutely certain I haven't been with anyone around that time."

"As I've told you before, Sam, Doctor Rosenberg is one of our consultants from the Academy Hospital and has helped us on several occasions when her expertise was needed; therefore she has been granted security clearance for section 11-C-9 of the National Security Act," Janet said.

"Really? Everything?"

Doctor Rosenberg chuckled softly at her disbelief. "I'm sure it's not everything, but I am aware of what goes on under this mountain; wormholes, other planets, aliens…"

"I wasn't sure," Sam said shyly.

Janet smiled reassuringly at her and squeezed her hand. "You know there has been some female personnel that have ended up pregnant over the years and we have also had pregnant alien refugees or alien infants that needed medical care, so I pleaded with General Hammond to let me get an expert aboard. I can't just put a classified stamp on everything and tell people to forget about what they've seen."

"Let's see, there is the fetus," Doctor Rosenberg suddenly announced, exerting a bit more pressure with the transducer and pointing at the monitor with her free hand. "Here is the head and its body… limbs and joints are intact and moving too, active and flexible from the looks of it. Look, two small hands and two little feet…."

"Strong heartbeat," Janet commented.

Her colleague nodded in agreement and held up her finger, silently asking for some quiet as she hit a key on her console before she spoke again. "Those wooshing sounds you hear are echoes of blood flowing through the umbilical cord, blood vessels and the fetus' heart."

Sam swallowed hard and looked away from the monitor when she recognized a tiny thumb going in the direction of a small mouth, still unsure of how she was supposed to feel about all of this. She hadn't asked for any of this, damn it! "Doctor?"

"Well," Doctor Rosenberg sighed and fiddled with the machine's console with her left hand, keeping the transducer on Sam's abdomen with her right and appeared to studying certain areas and notes appeared on the screen. "Near as I can tell, you're about fifteen, maybe sixteen, weeks along, Major Carter."

"Fifteen?!"

Janet quickly placed a calming hand on her arm and turned to her colleague. "You're certain? It's not possible that the baby is bigger than normal…?"

The woman looked at both of them and shook her head slowly. Then, after exchanging glances with Sam, she turned the monitor aside and beckoned Janet over. "Here, let me show you…"

Sam's mind was racing light-years a minute as she tried to process the information. Fifteen weeks. That was almost four months! Holy Hannah! She could hear the two doctors talking about developmental markers and whatnot in hushed tones but tried to tune it out, grateful to the consultant for removing the image of the fetus from her field of vision. The sound was gone too, she realized, even though the transducer was still firmly pressing on her lower abdomen. "Fifteen weeks?" She asked quietly when there was a lull in the conversation. "That's earlier than we thought… November?"

"The conception date, you mean?" Doctor Rosenberg questioned, turning back to face her. "Yes, I'd say… about mid-November. The development of the fetus also jibes with the hCG levels Doctor Fraiser just showed me; it has been evening out this past week and will slowly but surely decrease throughout the rest of your pregnancy from now on. Does this change anything, in regards to your sex life?"

"No," she said slowly. "I mean, up until last week I haven't been with anyone in months."

Catching the look between her and Janet the dark-haired woman moved her chair closer to the examination table. "Are you afraid something more… sinister has happened?"

Janet shrugged uncomfortably and went back to Sam's other side, rounding the table. "I think we can't rule anything out at this point."

"But I've gone over my schedule for the past few months, including November just to be sure, and I swear there hasn't been a time I've gone out to a bar or anything on my own," Sam argued. "I was always with someone, usually Janet or my teammates and I always got home safe. If someone had drugged and raped me I think there would have been evidence of that in my physical exams or blood work too, considering we go on missions at least once a week."

She listened as Janet explained the standard protocols for pre- and post-mission exams, blood analyses, spot-checking for pregnancy and the regular physicals with her colleague and waited until the two had gone over her medical history for the past four months. Sam breathed a soft sigh of relief when the transducer was lifted from her body and closed her eyes as she tried to tune out the discussion between the two doctors, in the meantime blindly wiping the gel from her stomach with a tissue Janet had absentmindedly handed her.

"Major Carter?" Doctor Rosenberg intruded on her thoughts. "What about the missions you have been on? According to Doctor Fraiser there have been no abnormalities in your blood work up until recently but is there anything you can think of that might account for your current condition?"

"No, I've spent most of my day yesterday going over everything and nothing came to mind," she replied as she sat up on the table, straightening her clothes. "Janet and her staff are usually very thorough so I'm sure they would have found something even if none of my teammates and I couldn't remember for some reason. However, I still have to go over my mission reports with a fine toothcomb and Colonel O'Neill has assured me earlier this morning that he and the guys are going to pull all the relevant mission reports so we can compare everything."

"For lost time or discrepancies in their experiences," Janet explained to the puzzled consultant.

Doctor Rosenberg nodded slowly and then seemed to brace herself. "Major, what about your teammates?"

"What about them?"

"Doctor Fraiser told me your team often encounters problems on these… er, other planets you visit, being the flagship team of this command and that first contact with the natives as well as overnight missions are par for the course," the woman elaborated. Then she took a deep breath and looked at her intensely before continuing. "Is it possible one of your teammates is responsible for your condition – without your knowledge perhaps?"

"What? No!" Sam exclaimed, horrified at the suggestion one of her friends was capable of such a thing. "Janet…?" She looked at the CMO, silently urging her to back her up; they both knew these men well. But to her astonishment her friend averted her gaze, as if she didn't want to be involved and looking relieved for not being the one having to ask the question. "No," Sam reiterated, clearing her suddenly dry throat. "They would never do such a thing; I trust them with my life-"

The dark-haired consultant held up her hand and interrupted her. "I understand that has to almost be a requirement for the work you all do, but I have to ask these questions. I don't know your colleagues and if you say they are honorable and trustworthy men then I believe you, but under the circumstances I have to give you the opportunity to speak out in case you have been victimized but are too afraid to come forward. I am just a civilian and in this case my only concern is you."

"I know," Sam nodded slowly, trying to rein in the anger on her teammates' behalf now that she understood the behavior of both doctors, "but I swear nothing, um, untoward or against regulations has ever occurred between me and my teammates. We have been sharing close sleeping quarters or arrangements for years now and even if one of them would have been under some kind of alien influence and attacked me – whether in my sleep or during watch – the others would have known and stopped it. Up until a few months ago Teal'c hardly required sleep and would usually spend the night meditating when it wasn't his turn to be on watch and Colonel O'Neill is the lightest sleeper I have ever met; he can detect the slightest movement in his sleep and wakes up at the smallest disturbance. Not to mention that we rotate watch between the four of us, so someone is always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary."

"I can attest to that," Janet finally chimed in. "Like I told you before, I cannot imagine the three of them letting anything happen to Major Carter or being responsible for doing something to her."

Doctor Rosenberg seemed relieved and stood up. "Well, I'm glad we can rule out that possibility but that still doesn't bring us any closer to an answer." She looked at the two of them and pulled at her collar, seemingly ill at ease. "Are there any, um… alien methods or technology you can think of that could be responsible?"

"There are alien varieties of date rape drugs that could theoretically account for Sam's lack of memory but those would show up in her blood work. Other than that… Well, there have been some cases of teams losing time and insisting on only having left the gate room moments ago, while in fact they have been gone for hours," Janet started. "Then there have been a few that were apparently knocked unconscious and basically brainwashed to kill important political figures of Earth and our allies, but we managed to detect and prevent that in time and it seems that whoever was responsible for the technique realized their flawed method and abandoned it because we only encountered that once a few years ago." Janet exchanged a knowing glance with Sam, obviously recalling the zatarc testing and the subsequent events. "Memory stamps have also been used on occasion, making our people think they are actually someone else and forgetting about their former lives but it didn't seem to hold very well on us Earthlings. Hypnosis and conditioning have also been used to implant a false memory and prevent a return to the planet where it occurred."

"And Urgo," Sam added disdainfully, reminded of the advanced microscopic device that had miraculously been implanted in her brain once. "But that all worked out in the end."

Janet looked like she had a moment of insight and after explaining who and what Urgo was to her colleague, she came to a conclusion. "While we've never encountered any mystery pregnancies – in our people or our off-world allies – we have seen several examples of memory manipulation, some of which would seem impossible to us without invasive brain surgery but there are some species or individuals that have the technology to operate on patients without leaving any evidence of scarring behind. Or maybe they could have used a healing device or sarcophagus to fix the damage without undoing the goal of the surgery."

Doctor Rosenberg appeared to be a bit overwhelmed with all the new information and sagged on her chair. "In that case I'm afraid I would be of practically no help in determining who could have done this to you, Major Carter. However, from what Doctor Fraiser described I assume some of these aliens you have encountered could certainly impregnate a woman without her knowledge, either the natural way or by some form of in-vitro fertilization in which they could extract your ovum to fertilize it and place the embryo back without leaving any evidence behind."

"Then scanning our mission reports seems like the next step," Sam concluded, a bit dejected at the news.

"But the fetus is in your opinion human?" Janet questioned, voicing one of the main concerns since learning of the pregnancy.

The obstetrician was quiet for a moment as she pushed her chair away and glanced at the monitor, where presumably the last image of the sonogram was still visible. "There is nothing that would indicate any abnormalities, if that's what you're asking. It's difficult for me to say with absolute certainty that it's a normal pregnancy, considering I have never seen an alien fetus and from what General Hammond and you yourself, Doctor Fraiser, told me I was under the impression many aliens are of human descent."

Sam nodded in understanding and looked at the dark-haired woman. "Humans were taken from Earth and placed on other suitable planets centuries ago, either via spaceship or Stargate. Since most of the planets we've visited are within the Stargate network we encounter mostly human aliens in various Earth-like cultures but we have met different species as well," she explained and looked at Janet for confirmation.

"Jaffa, like Teal'c and the Asgard, of course," her friend supplied, before turning to her colleague. "The ones you would probably recognize as the Roswell Grays. Then there are the Nox, who are humanoid but more advanced than anything evolved on Earth…"

"Unas, Reetou, Reole…" Sam added, ticking them off on her fingers as she went over her mental list. "… The Giant Aliens, with whom Daniel's grandfather is staying, the Serrakin, reptilian humanoids living on Hebridan in a racially mixed society with huma–"

Doctor Rosenberg held up her hand and smiled. "I get the picture. Is it safe to assume you collect genetic samples from them?"

"Depending on the missions SG teams often come back with alien samples, which are processed in the labs. Several of our allies and friends have allowed us to take blood or hair samples to study the evolution of their species and to see if their ancestors can be traced back to Earth," Janet replied.

"Since you're fifteen weeks along, Major Carter, I could perform an amniocentesis to collect a small amount of amniotic fluid, which contains fetal DNA. Then we could see if the fetus is indeed yours and hopefully determine whether it's human. If the test is inconclusive we could use the stored alien samples to compare it with after you have narrowed down the species you've come in contact with during your missions in the relevant timeframe," Doctor Rosenberg suggested.

She breathed a sigh of relief and bobbed her head in agreement. "Yes, that would be excellent."

"What about complications?" Janet questioned, ever so cautious.

"The risk of miscarriage as a direct result of amniocentesis is about one in four hundred and only slightly higher than the normal risk of a miscarriage in the second trimester. Considering you recently turned 35, Major Carter, most doctors would suggest undergoing the procedure anyway to check for possible chromosome abnormalities, Down's syndrome for example, and open neural tube effects, like spina bifida," the obstetrician replied.

Sam suddenly felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, despite the low risk of miscarriage Doctor Rosenberg had mentioned. Besides, she still hadn't decided what to do about the pregnancy anyway. It really wasn't something she wanted to think about at the moment, not until she knew what exactly was growing inside of her and how it had come to be there. "When can you do it?"

"We could do it now, if you want; I have everything I need with me, except for a local anesthetic but Doctor Fraiser already mentioned you need specific drugs because of your high tolerance…"

Chapter Text

1322 hours
Carter's Lab, Level 18
SGC, Colorado Springs

Jack plopped down on Carter's desk chair and watched as Daniel put the tray with Carter's lunch on her workbench and took up position on the other side, next to Teal'c. "So, what couldn't you tell us in the commissary, Doc?"

"Yeah Janet, you said Sam was fine, right?" Daniel asked, looking worried.

Doc Fraiser closed the heavy blast door of the lab behind her and joined them, leaning on the bench with her elbows. "Yes, Sam is fine and as far as Doctor Rosenberg could tell the baby was also doing well and appears to be human. However, there is only so much she can tell from the monitor so Sam has agreed to let her perform an amniocentesis."

"What is this procedure you speak of, Doctor Fraiser?"

"Basically she is going to insert a hollow needle through Sam's abdomen into her uterus to collect a sample of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac, which contains fetal DNA, for further genetic testing."

"I see," the Jaffa replied, looking a bit perturbed.

Daniel scrunched up his face, whether in disgust or discomfort at the idea Jack couldn't tell. "Isn't that painful? And what about the baby, won't it hurt the baby?"

"She's getting prepped with a local anesthetic now and when I get back I'll assist Doctor Rosenberg during the procedure," the Doc reassured him. "As for the risks… well, there is always a small chance of complications but the risk of miscarriage is about one in four hundred, and with her age an amniocentesis is always advised, since women who are thirty-five years or older at the due date are at higher risk of problematic pregnancies, like certain chromosomal abnormalities."

"How long will it take?" Jack asked, already reaching the ends of his patience after waiting in the commissary for nearly two hours. After Friday he hadn't expected today's ultrasound to take so long and he'd been getting worried the longer it took without a word from the Doc or Carter herself. Now the thought of how big a needle had to be to reach the uterus was causing him discomfort as well.

"Not long," Fraiser reassured him. "Sam just wanted me to let you know she was fine, Sir, and that it would be a while longer. Once the sample has been taken she's going to have to stay under observation for about an hour, to monitor her and the baby's vitals and then I need one of you to drive her home to rest."

Before he could respond Teal'c stepped forward. "I will escort Major Carter home and ensure she rests for the remainder of the day."

"Carter can ride with me in my truck, that's more comfortable for her. T can follow us and drive her car home," Jack quickly suggested. He wouldn't be able to get any work done anyway until he knew for sure she was okay. She had seemed fine when arriving on base but the memory of her reaction to Daniel's baby booties was still fresh in his mind. That first sonogram had upset her as well so he could only imagine how she was feeling now, after a much more thorough one with that fancy device from the Academy Hospital. Presumably the image of this ultrasound would be cleaner too and the device was probably capable of printing a picture of the baby, unlike the old ultrasound-turned-hitchhiking-Goa'uld-detector machines here at the SGC.

Daniel frowned and was wearing his usual pensive expression. "Janet, is there anything we can do for Sam in the meantime?"

Jack was pleased to see the archeologist be a bit less enthusiastic about Carter's pregnancy after their little 'talk' this morning, during which he'd made it pretty clear to Daniel that he had to back off and give Carter some time to wrap her head around the news and decide how to deal with it. No more baby presents until she gave the green light, and was back to being her bright-eyed bushy-tailed self.

"She gave me permission to tell you she's fifteen weeks along and was hoping you could start collecting all the reports from missions she was involved in around the time of conception," Fraiser replied immediately, as if she had been waiting for the question.

"Fifteen weeks?!" Jack let out a low whistle, wondering how the hell they – and she – had missed it for nearly four months! He wasn't entirely sure but weren't most women already showing by then?

Teal'c bowed slowly, clearly accepting the task he had been given. "Then Major Carter approximately conceived at the end of October or early November?"

"Ah no, more like the mid-November, T."

Fraiser nodded in agreement and then started to explain to Teal'c about how humans count the number of weeks a woman is pregnant starting with her last menstrual period… That was when Jack zoned out and started to recount their last few missions mentally. November had been a slow month for them mission-wise, with Hammond ordering everyone to get their mission reports and other paperwork in order before Thanksgiving, Christmas and the end of the year. Carter and Daniel had been busy finishing up with their… um, respective science projects or whatever it was they did when he wasn't paying attention and Teal'c been busy with the Rebel Jaffa, while he himself had been catching up on his paperwork and duties as the base's second in command. All in all, that meant it probably wouldn't be hard to find the mission responsible for the condition his 2IC was currently in.


1420 hours
Isolation Room 2
Level 21, SGC

Sam startled awake when she heard the door opening and blinked sleepily when Doctor Rosenberg entered the room. God, she must have been really tired to fall asleep like this! Then again, she had been sleepy badly since Janet first told her about the pregnancy and now that her amniotic fluid was off to the lab Sam felt a lot better knowing she would have some answers soon. "Sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep," she apologized when the obstetrician walked up to her.

"That's quite all right, Major," the dark-haired woman said. "I just came in to check your vitals again and if all is well you'll be able to go home soon. Doctor Fraiser said she would round up your teammates after she had dropped off the sample of amniotic fluids at the lab."

"The guys know everything is fine, right?"

Doctor Rosenberg nodded reassuringly as she took Sam's vitals. "Yes, Doctor Fraiser informed them prior to your amniocentesis, remember?"

Sam dragged a hand through her hair and sighed. "Yes, of course. I completely forgot-"

"It's understandable; you've had a lot to process today. Now," the obstetrician jotted down some notes on Sam's chart, "I would like to check the fetal heart rate a last time, Major Carter."

She obligingly pulled her shirt up again to expose her abdomen, not having bothered with refastening her BDU pants since the procedure because of the periodical checkups in the last hour or so. Besides, her standard black shirt covered the top of her pants when she didn't tuck it in and the only two people who had entered her room were her two doctors. She watched as the obstetrician picked up the Doppler fetal monitor and waited as patiently as possible for her to do her thing, not even reacting anymore at the cold gel applied to her stomach. When the handheld gadget was turned on and pressed against her tiny bump, followed by the rapid fetal heartbeat coming out of the loudspeaker she winced, though.

"Sorry," Doctor Rosenberg apologized, fiddling with the device's settings to turn off the sound, "it reverts back to its standard settings after it's turned off."

Sam waved her apology away but silently wondered what the woman thought of her. Her instinctive reactions were to ignore the presence of the fetus growing inside of her and she'd rather not be confronted with its image or heartbeat, which made her feel terribly guilty. After all, while she hadn't asked for any of this neither had the fetus. She didn't know if she could do this, even if it turned out to be human. If she already felt like this and kept using her scientific reasoning about the unwanted pregnancy, then how could she be a good mother? Maybe she just wasn't cut out to be a parent.

Sure, she loved kids and usually got along with them but she had never given the idea of becoming a mother – starting a family – much thought. Not seriously at least. Perhaps she should have, considering her age but she simply hadn't. She'd just never had that strong urge to become a mother.

The closest thing to maternal feelings for her was probably the way she felt about Cassandra Fraiser. Sam had loved the alien orphan quite fast after she had arrived on Earth but it hadn't been enough to give up her job and adopt the child. The fact that she was single or had no experience with parenting had nothing to with her decision – Janet's situation wasn't that different after all – it had simply come down to loving her job, her career and the Air Force and unable to make such a huge sacrifice…

Now, almost seven years later, Sam found herself in an almost impossible and perhaps slightly similar situation; she was pregnant with quite possibly something alien, had no serious relationship and was still focused on her career. Her work was important to her, she loved the Air Force and couldn't imagine notbeing part of it. She wanted to contribute, help make a difference fighting the war and do her duty as an Air Force officer to keep not only her country but her entire planet safe.

If it would were easy for her to give up the fight and her career in the Air Force then she could have done so the moment she realized her inappropriate feelings for her commanding officer were more than an infatuation and that he felt the same way. Then there had been no need to keep their feelings locked away in the room; she could have just turned her back on the Air Force and tried to make a relationship with him work, while staying on at the SGC as a civilian with most her lab time spent in her lab and maybe some off-world missions when her expertise was needed.

But the Air Force was part of who she was; if she couldn't go out into the field, get her adrenaline rush and be challenged both physically andmentally… well, then she might as well resign and she had no intentions of doing so. Perhaps it would have been different if she had never gotten a taste of the action – during the Gulf and at the SGC – but now she couldn't imagine fulfilling her duty by staying safely in her lab.

"… Major?"

Startled from her musings Sam looked up to see Doctor Rosenberg smiling at her patiently. "I was just…"

"Miles away?" The obstetrician didn't seem upset as she put away the Doppler and made some notes. "It's okay. I just wanted to let you know that everything is fine and that when your team gets here you can go home. Now, do you remember what I told you about what would happen after the procedure?"

"Eh, no strenuous activity for the rest of the day and basically taking it easy to prevent any complications," she replied.

"Yes, rest at home for at least the next twenty-four hours and notify me or Doctor Fraiser immediately if you suspect something is wrong. As for the results of the test, I'm not entirely sure how soon you will get them; Doctor Fraiser said she would leave instructions at the lab to make your sample a priority-"

Sam nodded, remembering what Janet had told her after the procedure. "Yes, Doctor Sheffield is the head of our genetics department and Janet told me she's the most qualified to run the tests."

"Excellent," Doctor Rosenberg said. "Normally I send such samples to a private research lab because I can't do them at my own practice or it goes through the Academy Hospital's own lab for my military patients and depending on the workload the rapid test's results can take a few work days and the full karyotype two to three weeks. However, technically the results of the rapid test can be obtained within twenty-four to forty-eight hours; it's the full karyotype that takes at least a day or ten because they need to grow cells to have enough material to study."

"And it's the karyotype that is important," Sam finished wearily. A full karyotype would look at the number and appearance of all the chromosomes for any abnormalities, she knew.

"Yes, the rapid test will tell us if there's an extra copy of chromosomes thirteen, eighteen or twenty-one present in the fetus' DNA and is almost one hundred percent accurate when it comes to the three syndromes caused by this genotype. Oh, and it can examine the sex chromosomes too. Do you want to know the gender, Major?"

She covered her face with both hands as it sank in she would be forced to wait almost two more weeks for any definitive answers and shook her head. "No, I don't care whether it's male or female; I just want to know if it's human."

Doctor Rosenberg pulled up a chair and sat down to face her. "Very well. They'll also run a DNA test to see whether your ovum was used and if the fetus is related to you. I just want to remind you that even if we learn the fetus has forty-six chromosomes in two weeks' time that it doesn't automatically mean it's human; that would depend on how many chromosomes other alien humanoid species have."

"I know," she said softly. "Heck, it could still be a hybrid."

"Yes, so hopefully we can compare the DNA to the SGC's database but that too might take a few days."

Sam sighed and dragged a hand through her hair, wondering what else was on the woman's mind. "Yes, I know this. Why?"

"By the time you will have all this information you will probably be eighteen or even nineteen weeks along," the obstetrician said slowly, with an intense look in her eyes. "From what General Hammond told me you are a real asset to this command, Major Carter. Doctor Fraiser also gave me a bit of background information when reading me in on your case and mentioned you were unattached and quite the workaholic."

She blushed at the words from General Hammond and while they were flattering, combined with Janet's description, Sam had a pretty good feeling as to where this conversation was heading. It wasn't like it hadn't crossed her mind on several occasions already. If anything, she should probably be pleased her obstetrician was steering the conversation in that direction rather than having to broach the subject herself. But all she felt was disgust for herself and guilt. Guilt that she was even considering this and that she was so easy to read for this woman, whom she had only met a few hours ago. "I guess there's some truth in both of those descriptions…"

"Have you given any thought as to how this pregnancy will affect you? What a baby will mean to your life?"

Sighing, Sam looked at the doctor. "Honestly? I have no idea… I mean, I didn't plan this. I wasn't even consultedand now there's something growing inside of me and we have no idea where the hell it came from!"

"Do you think it would be easier to handle if you knew what happened and what the fetus' parentage is?"

She had to admit to herself that even that might not change the way she felt. Of course it was important to her to know whether it was human but would she suddenly be okay with having a child if she knew that to be the case? Probably not. It didn't really change anything, did it? She would still have to throw her whole life around to accommodate a kid she didn't even ask for. "I don't know," she said after a minute or two. "Maybe it would have been different if I was in a relationship or at least had gotten pregnant through my own fault, by getting careless with contraception or something."

"Because that would force you to take responsibility for your own actions?"

"I guess," Sam said slowly. Not that it would change anything career-wise if it had happened that way but at least she wouldn't have anyone other than herself to blame.

Doctor Rosenberg looked at her pensively. "That way you would also have someone else to rely on; the father of the child. Are you worried about raising a child single-handedly? Because from what I've seen of your teammates it looks like they'd have your back. I know it's not the same but it's more than a lot of single parents can say."

"No, it's not that; I just never thought about having kids," she confessed. Seeing the other woman's narrowed eyes, Sam sighed. "Okay, maybe I've thought about them but more in an abstract way. You know, all these years I've been concentrating on work I just assumed that one day I would have a life. Possibly with a kid or two. But now? What, do I take maternity leave and then come back? Do I drop the baby off at daycare on my way to some unexplored planet on the edge of crab nebula?"

"A lot of people have children, Major Carter, even those in high-risk careers like law enforcement and the military. I'm sure there are lots of people on this base with families."

"But if I go back to SG-1 there's a good chance I'd get killed off-world someday," Sam countered. "Then the kid would end up in foster care or something."

The woman shrugged and seemed to regard her for a moment. "You wouldn't have to go back into the field."

"If I don't, I would be stuck in the lab for the rest of my career. My team would go off-world without me watching their six and I would have to stand idly by rather than participate in the war to protect my planet."

"Well, after hearing your credentials and some of your accomplishments I doubt your work in the lab wouldn't contribute to the fight…"

Sam groaned, realizing that was true. What was really bothering her was how it would affect her career, but she was almost ashamed to admit it. There were so many people who'd love to be parents and even in her mind her reason sounded… almost trivial. Then again, her obstetrician was a woman with a successful career, so maybe she wouldunderstand. "Still, it wouldn't be the same. I might be able to get one more promotion but I would never be able to fulfill my goal of becoming a general officer. No matter what I would do in the lab or what kind of technological breakthrough I would have they wouldn't be able to justify more promotions if I become a mere scientist, rather than remain a field officer."

Doctor Rosenberg shot her a sympathetic look and sighed. "Then I guess what I'm really asking is if you are prepared to make some changes in your life or if you are… considering other options?"

"I- I don't know," she stammered. "I guess… maybe, eh, maybe I am."

"That is nothing to be ashamed of, Maj- may I call you Samantha?"

"Sam, I prefer Sam."

The dark-haired woman nodded in acceptance and continued. "You are not the first woman with an unexpected pregnancy and your reaction isn't that uncommon, Sam. I've had my fair share of patients considering allof their options in similar situations. It's not something someone considers lightly but having a child is a serious and lifelong commitment."

"Am I that transparent?" She asked with a wan smile.

"No, you're simply not my first patient dealing with this dilemma," Doctor Rosenberg reassured her. "Their situations might not have been as unique as yours but some of the signs are very similar and in those cases the nature of the fetus wasn't even in question. I could tell you were struggling with this when you averted your gaze from the monitor during your ultrasound and just now with the heart monitor."

Sam ducked her head in embarrassment and guilt, not sure what to say. "I-I never thought I would be considering this… I mean, considering my pathetic love life this could very well be the only chance I have at pregnancy."

The obstetrician reached out and stilled her hand, which was tearing the paper sheet covering the examination table in frustration. "Sam, you have every reason to be considering this; not just because of the impact a pregnancy – a child – would have on your life and career but also because someone did this to you, without your consent. Perhaps you weren't overpowered and physically raped but this pregnancy wasforced on you without your knowledge."

"I guess," she said slowly. It was true that she had been shocked and outraged that someone had done this but until now she hadn't really thought of likening it to rape, but the doctor had a good point. Not that it made her feel any better but at least she understood her own apprehension better now.

"The situation you've found yourself in is a personal and moral dilemma, Sam, and I'm not trying to influence your decision one way or another because I think this is a choice every woman has to make herself," Doctor Rosenberg said calmly. "However, if you are considering it there are certain things you must keep in mind; for one, military hospitals are forbidden from providing abortions, with the exceptions of rape, incest or life endangerment. Federal funding, however, is only available for the latter. If it would come to that I wouldclassify your case as rape but it still means you have to pay for it yourself. Secondly, your complete test results will probably be available when you are around nineteen weeks pregnant, meaning there won't be much time for you to get an abortion by then since a lot of hospitals refuse to do so late into the second trimester, even if it technically isn't illegal in this state. Within the first sixteen weeks it is accepted but it gets difficult by the time you're twenty weeks along, even if it is due to rape. Twenty-four weeks is hardly done unless continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in a child born with grave mental or physical retardation or endangers your life."

Sam swallowed hard, trying to process this information and nodded slowly in understanding. "All right, thank you. I guess this means I, eh… I have a choice to make."


1445 hours
Corridor, Level 21

"So, we can take her home?" Daniel asked as they headed towards Carter's room.

Fraiser nodded but still managed to give the archeologist a reproving look for talking about it in the middle of the busy corridors. "Yes, she's been cleared."

Jack was pleased but tried not to show it too much. "Excellent," he muttered. He had been worried sick when it had taken another hour for the Doc to show up and tell them they could come see Carter now, since he had expected to hear something from her right after the procedure, which was only supposed to take a moment! But fortunately everything was fine with his 2IC and her baby, otherwise she wouldn't be allowed to leave the infirmary. He would stay at her place for a bit today, just to keep an eye on her and then they could also discuss what they had discovered in the mission reports.

"Indeed," Teal'c affirmed.

The Doc knocked on Carter's door and then opened it. He impatiently waited for Fraiser to stick her head in and give the all clear, before following Teal'c inside and letting Daniel close the door behind him. "Hey Carter."

"Hi Sir," she replied with a small smile.

"Are you okay, Sam?"

She nodded at the archeologist. "Yeah, I'm fine. Doctor Rosenberg said I was good to go before she left."

"Everything looks in order," Fraiser murmured as she went over some paperwork. "Now, you have to take it easy for the next twenty-four hours, lots of resting. I want you to notify me immediately if you have fever, chills, severe abdominal pain, cramps, or are bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid from the needle puncture site or from your va-"

"Yes, thank you, Janet! Doctor Rosenberg already went over the list of side effects with me."

Jack suppressed a chuckle at Carter's indignant cry but hey, at least now she had some more color on her cheeks. "So, the procedure went okay?"

"It went fine, Colonel," the Doc replied. "I've dropped off the sample at Doctor Sheffield, who said she would get right on it and talking to her gave me another idea."

"What kind of idea, Janet?"

Fraiser smiled and turned to Carter. "Well, I offered to get her a sample of your blood for DNA testing but she said that wouldn't be necessary since they already have your stored blood. Or at least, blood samples from the person with the same personal code, since no names are used. Then I realized that your samples would be among the stored pre- and post-mission blood samples from personnel and I could test what was left to see when the hCG was first in your system. That could narrow the time of conception down even further."

"I thought you could only store that up until a month or so?" Daniel questioned, puzzled.

"Forty-two days for blood if properly refrigerated," Fraiser corrected.

Jack frowned, wondering what the heck good that would do. "But she's fifteen weeks along…"

"That's true. But what you probably don't know is that they separate the components in the lab within hours of us taking the samples. That leaves them with red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate."

"Cryo what?"

She rolled her eyes at him. "That doesn't matter, Colonel O'Neill. What doesmatter is that the blood plasma contains a lot of important things, like dissolved proteins, mineral ions and hormones and that's why, when the samples aren't used for testing, they're put in the freezer for storage and can remain there for a year."

Carter nodded along with the explanation, a small smile forming on her face. "Oh, you think you can find hCG in my older samples?"

"Exactly."

"But why would they keep such small samples for so long?" Daniel questioned, voicing Jack's own doubts. "I mean, wouldn't they just throw them out after a while?"

"Normally, yes. Plasma transfusions can be important but the amounts of those blood samples are too small. However, Sam's plasma also contains naquadah and the protein marker left by Jolinar. As you can probably guess some of the scientists use the naquadah for research and the protein marker has already proven to be successful against Ma'chello's Goa'uld killing devices, so just in case any of his technology is encountered off-world and Sam isn't around to donate blood, we keep plenty of her plasma stored in the freezer," Fraiser explained.

"That appears to have been a very wise decision, Doctor Fraiser," Teal'c complimented.

Jack bobbed his head in agreement, pleased that something finally seemed to go their way. "All right, if that's everything then off you go Doc and run your little tests, while we take Carter home."

"Yes Sir," Fraiser said patiently before saying goodbye and leaving the room.

Jack turned to Daniel. "Teal'c and I will take Carter home, while you check the sign-in sheets, logs and tapes for the relevant timeframe like we discussed, just to rule out anyone on base." That would teach Daniel to keep his thoughts and well wishes to himself, he figured. Plus it would ensure he wouldn't blurt out something else around Carter today. "T, you can get Carter's car keys and clothes from the locker room, so she doesn't have to walk all over base."

"Thank you, Teal'c," she said gratefully as the Jaffa bowed and left.

"Ready to go, Carter?"

She was already nodding when she seemed to change her mind. "Oh, can you give me one of those paper towels? I think there's still some gel on my stomach."

Jack did as requested and handed her a handful of them. He realized he should probably look away when she lifted her shirt up higher to expose her abdomen and he caught sight of the top of blue panties peeking out from behind the opened zipper of her BDU pants. Just as he turned he noticed the tiny bump she was wiping clean and his breath caught at the evidence of her pregnancy. Seeing her hand movements slow he tore his gaze away, figuring she would be uncomfortable if she caught him staring.

But his eyes landed on something vaguely familiar, lying on a side table. Walking over there he picked up two small pictures, the corners of his mouth quirking up when he recognized the first as being very similar to Charlie's ultrasound from when Sara was a few months pregnant. The other was different; rather than the traditional coloring and grainy image of a baby in the womb it was yellow-orange and showed the baby in surprising detail. It was probably one of those fancier techniques they had these days, he realized. Turning around he spotted her near the trashcan. "Where do you want to these, Carter?"

She looked up after tossing her used wipes away, clothes all in order, and shrugged. "I, um, haven't really looked at them yet, Sir. But I don't really care; I already saw everything I needed to see on the monitor. Doctor Rosenberg said she would perform another sonogram when we got the full results of the amnio. I'm sure she could print out a new picture then if I change my mind."

He frowned at her answer but was saved from a reply when Teal'c knocked on the door and entered. Jack knew he shouldn't have been surprised given the circumstances but against his better judgment he'd hoped she would be convinced to keep the baby after today's ultrasound; she would be a great mom, no matter how the baby had been conceived.

Casting one last glance at the ultrasound pictures he shrugged and surreptitiously pocketed them, knowing she would regret discarding them later on – no matter which choice she made. "T and I will wait outside in the hall while you get dressed in your civvies, Carter."

Chapter Text

1745 hours
Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Jack went back into the kitchen to check the timer when he heard some noise coming from the hallway. To his surprise it was followed by a sleepy Carter entering the kitchen barefoot. She was dressed in what he assumed to be her pajamas; long flannel pants and a strappy top that showed far more exposed skin than he was used to from her. Her blond hair was now even more mussed up than when she'd been running her hands through it in the infirmary and he had to suppress a smile at her bed head. "Hey Carter," he greeted, slightly uncomfortable.

"Sir… what are you doing here?" She frowned and quickly crossed her arms in front of her chest.

"Teal'c and I figured we'd better stick around while you got some rest." He refrained from telling her they wanted to keep an eye on her, not just to make sure she didn't overdo it and ate properly but also in case there would be complications from her procedure. After driving her home he had waited for the Jaffa to arrive in her car, while Carter had excused herself to get some rest – probably assuming he and Teal'c would leave once he got there. Instead, they had made themselves comfortable in her living room after putting away the groceries T had bought for her. "He's worried about you, you know."

Her lips quirked in a soft smile as she leaned against the doorpost. "He is?"

"Oh yeah, I think the thought of that huge needle freaked him out," Jack said, grinning. "I even thought I heard him mutter something about those crazy Tau'ri and their medical procedures."

"Is that right?" She questioned, to which he nodded. "Then where is he, Sir, and what are you doing in my kitchen?"

He smiled sheepishly and gestured at her oven. "I'm making dinner and Teal'c left about fifteen minutes ago to buy himself some new candles. We didn't think you'd be awake so soon."

"You're… making dinner?"

"Yes Carter, I'll have you know that I am quite capable of making dinner," Jack teased her. "It's just pizza, though, so don't expect anything fancy."

She came further into the kitchen and stood on the other side of the kitchen island, peering at the leftovers from some of the ingredients he'd used. "Homemade pizza?"

He smirked smugly at her surprised tone and nodded. "Yep. Teal'c's been watching some of those cooking shows and he wanted to give it a try, so we made two large pizzas. Daniel wasn't sure if he could make it tonight but hopefully we have enough food for at least the three of us. God knows how much food Teal'c can eat in a single meal."

"I thought you guys had already left…"

"Sorry to disappoint, Carter," Jack said, not really meaning it. "The Doc gave us clear instructions to make sure you would take it easy, otherwise you had to stay in the infirmary overnight. This way you could relax in the comforts of your own home, without having to worry about doing groceries and making dinner."

She gave a small smile and went over to the fridge to get herself some bottled water. "I don't know what to say, Sir. I mean, I'm glad you managed to convince Janet that I could go home but I don't want to impose on your time off. I'm sure you all have other things to do."

"Don't worry about it. Right now, you and uh… er, your condition are our main concern," he said awkwardly. "We're gonna get to the bottom of this, Major, and support you however we can."

"Wow, that's, um, very swe-"

"Ack!" He held up his hand to forestall her protests, knowing his 2IC sometimes had trouble accepting help when it was offered. "We figured we could all discuss what we've found so far tonight, after dinner. Right now Daniel's going over the footage from the corridor of your on-base personal quarters to make sure nothing, um, happened to you when you stayed there around mid-November. I also told him to check it with the security logs of your door, to make sure those two add up and no one gained access to your quarters without your knowledge."

Carter took a sip of water before replying. "Well, in that case I'm sure Daniel's not a happy camper, Sir."

"Yeah well," Jack shrugged dismissively. It would keep the guy busy for a while and was suitable punishment for upsetting Carter. Not to mention how boring it would be if Jack had to go over all that footage himself. "Oh and Teal'c has decided he's crashing in your guestroom tonight. Even brought a sleepover bag from base… although he didn't bring any candles, hence his trip. About an hour ago he suddenly decided he wanted to kelno'reem tonight before going to bed, so I gave him directions to the nearest store selling candles."

"Again, that's very sweet, Sir, but I don't think it's necessary."

"I know, right? I tried to tell him but you know what T is like when he's made up his mind," he lied, throwing up his hands. Teal'c had suggested it and Jack had immediately told him it was an excellent idea. Just in case something would happen in the middle of the night or Carter got the crazy idea to work on her computers or something until the early hours of the morning once they had left. "He'll probably tell you it's his duty or that it's some kind of Jaffa tradition. Besides, he hardly leaves the base so you'll probably be doing him a favor, too."

She grinned and ducked her head. "Okay, fine, Sir."

Score! Jack wasn't sure if she believed it or was just humoring him, but either way he was glad there would be someone here to keep an eye on her just until her body had convalesced from the amnio. "Excellent," he said. She just smiled conspiratorially, making him realize she saw right through him. Ah well, too bad.

After about a minute he realized they were still staring at each other and awkwardly cleared his throat, averting his gaze from her face. He noticed her top had ridden up a bit and exposed about an inch of her lower abdomen when she took another swig of water. Cocking his head he thought he could see her faint bump but decided not to comment on it when she looked at him questioningly. "Um, dinner will be ready in about fifteen minutes and I'm sure Teal'c will be here soon as well, so you might want to eh… get dressed, unless you want him to see you in your PJs, Carter."

"Right," she blushed. "I'll just go take a quick shower and put on some sweats, or something."

"Take your time," he called after her when she left the kitchen, "it's your house and we made dinner for you, after all."

A distant "Yes Sir" was thrown his way before he heard what he assumed was her bedroom door slam shut.

Jack checked the timer for the pizza again and waited until he could hear her turn on the shower before pulling Carter's sonograms from his pocket and putting them on the counter in front of him. He traced the tiny baby's outline with his finger on the classic grainy sonogram and felt the same sense of wonder looking at Baby Carter as he had the first time he'd laid eyes on Charlie's ultrasound almost two decades ago; the baby was so tiny and yet almost a miniature human. At first glance at least, because he knew the internal organs weren't fully developed yet and the baby would need some finishing touches on the outside – like hair and nails, probably – too before it was ready to come out.

His eyes traveled to the other picture, the yellow-orange one. That was probably what they called a 3D-ultrasound, he thought to himself. It showed a full body shot of the baby; its legs stretched up and out with their feet crossed and its hands seemed to be resting on its chest. Jack wondered if the baby was sleeping or if it took after Carter and was quietly thinking up schematics for its first spaceship or something. He chuckled at the thought but quickly sobered when he heard a car pull up in front of the house. That was probably Teal'c, or maybe even Daniel if the archeologist was done early. Grabbing both pictures Jack took one last look at them before carefully sliding them in his pocket – he would keep them safe until Carter was ready to see 'em – and quickly pretended to be going about business as usual.


The pizzas with their fresh ingredients had been a big success, not just with Carter but Teal'c had been immensely pleased that their attempt had turned out so excellent. Jack had been forced to admit it was good but had put his foot down when the Jaffa suggested that from now on they would always make their own pizza instead of ordering in. Teal'c had tried to convince him otherwise while managing to eat one whole pizza, much to Jack and Carter's astonishment; they had only managed to eat about half of the other one – together.

Still, their little argument had been worth it to see Carter smothering a smile while watching them. Jack had missed seeing her hide her amusement over their antics, even though realistically he knew her mood had only done a one-eighty since she'd heard about the pregnancy on Friday. Just two days ago. It was strange how her life had been turned upside down in such a short period of time and how much it affected him and the rest of the team as well. Maybe he was just more aware of it because of all the time they'd spent together since Friday…

Now, they were all trying to unwind a bit sitting in Carter's living room, Daniel munching on a slice of leftover pizza and Teal'c, Carter and himself drinking hot cocoa. Jack figured it was only fair they all had hot chocolate rather than coffee since Carter had to drink less caffeine because of the baby and Teal'c hadn't objected, which was probably because symbiotes didn't seem to like coffee at all. The only time they'd seen Teal'c drink it was when Urgo had been influencing them and Selmak didn't want Jacob drinking it either.

"So," Daniel said in between bites, "I couldn't find anything on the tapes. I checked the whole month of November just to be sure and you only stayed in your quarters a few nights in total, Sam. But you were the only one to access it during that time, according to the footage I watched and the security logs." He reached out and grabbed another piece. "This is really good, you guys."

"And no one could have tampered with those logs or the footage?"

"I don't think so, Jack," the archeologist said. "You know there are only so many people with the proper access codes to watch saved surveillance footage and there are even less people that have access to the security logs that register when a pass is used to open the door."

Carter looked up from her mug and nodded. "He's right, Sir. There are probably less than a dozen people at the SGC who could pull that off without anyone noticing irregularities and even then they would have had to find a way to keep me from waking up while they… um, impregnated me," she grimaced and leaned forward to set her mug on the coffee table.

Jack also felt a bit sick at the thought but at least now they could rule out anyone doing this to her on base. "Yeah, okay. I'll buy that. Any drugs they could have used would've probably shown up in your blood work, especially in the high doses you need them."

"Indeed," Teal'c said. "Not only would they have to obtain this medicine from the infirmary but they would also have to be aware of your medical history and the consequences of your blending with Jolinar of Malkshur."

Daniel bobbed his head in agreement as he polished off the last piece of pizza. "Yeah Sam, the medical staff are probably the only ones that know about your high drug tolerance and what would be a safe but effective dose."

"And none of them would do such a thing, even if they would have been capable of hiding their tracks," Carter said.

"Okay, so that's off the list," Jack said. He took a deep breath and turned to face his 2IC. "That leaves off-world. We went over all the mission reports of November that involved you, Carter, and we found… diddly-squat."

Her eyes widened in shock and a flash of panic crossed her lovely features. "Nothing? How is that possible, Sir?"

Daniel, who was wiping his mouth with a napkin after having eaten all the leftover pizza, immediately protested. "Not nothing, per se, Sam."

"I must concur, Major Carter," Teal'c said. "In early November we went to Hebridan where you participated in the Loop of Kon Garat-"

"Right, the "diplomatic mission" Hammond approved so Carter could join their space race," Jack interrupted, making little air quotes with his fingers.

"-in return for an ion propulsion system," the Jaffa finished.

Carter grinned at the reminder, clearly remembering how much fun she'd had in that deadly race while the rest of them had been worried sick about her – and Warrick's – safety after finding out what the challenges really were. "But we were only there for a few days, right?"

"Four in total," Daniel replied. "We returned on November tenth."

"Then you played with your ion doohickey for the next eleven days until that idiot Folger screwed up that test with the space gun and Hammond ordered you to help that little brownnosing weasel."

"Uh, that wasn't the only project Sam was working on during those days, Jack. And it's Felger, not Folger."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow, clearly also unimpressed by that good-for-nothing scientist. "Indeed, the next six days Major Carter attempted to aid Doctor Felger in redeeming himself."

"Yeah, fixing his mess that affected the entire Stargate network-"

"Jack, that wasn't his fault!"

He shook his head in disagreement. "Can it, Daniel. That idiot only caused trouble and I don't care whether it was him or Ba'al who did the actual adjusting, it was still Feljer who provided Ba'al with the opportunity. If it hadn't been for Teal'c and me getting our hands on that sweet alkesh Carter would have been Jaffa toast."

"To be fair, Sir, I hadn't foreseen the possibility of Ba'al adapting the Avenger for his own purposes either."

"Not your fault, Carter. You weren't the one to come up with that harebrained scheme in the first place," Jack said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Anyway, what it all comes down to is that you weren't off-world in mid-November and there's no sign of anything happening to you while on base."

She looked up at him with a small frown on her face, clearly puzzled by this turn of events. "That doesn't make any sense, Sir," she said. "I spent most of my hours on base during that time, working on the ion propulsion engine from Hebridan and wrapping up some of my other projects after General Hammond insisted on clearing our schedules before the end of the year. When I went home I usually went straight to bed for a few hours of shuteye and then went back to base again in the morn-"

"Oh yeah, I know; I went over the sign-in and sign-out sheets for that time," he replied, smirking when she turned crimson. More than once had he told her to take it easy and to forget about pulling an all-nighter in the past unless the fate of the planet was at stake or something, but it looked like his 2IC hadn't kept her word.

Carter grimaced and looked down. "I know I made some long hours in November, Sir, but I had to finish up my ongoing experiments and to do so I had to stick to a certain schedule. Sometimes that meant a simulation had to ru-"

"Don't worry about it," Jack interrupted her. He wasn't happy with it but he understood, having made some long hours himself the last two months of the year to catch up with all his paperwork. "Just… don't let it happen again, Carter."

"No, Sir."

"You know," Daniel spoke up, "the fact that Sam made such long hours actually works in our favor here because it means she was conscious for all that time and thus nothing could have happened to her without anyone knowing."

Teal'c nodded in the affirmative. "Indeed, if something had befallen Major Carter while she was working in her laboratory it would have been noticed by the security forces in the corridors."

Jack silently agreed, knowing Carter only closed the thick blast door of her lab when she had a serious experiment going on and even she knew better than to do those in the middle of the night. Not to mention that she would warn whichever SF was guarding the corridor. "Someone in the security station probably would have noticed any abnormalities too."

"You mean on the security monitors from the cameras in her lab?"

"Yeah, and no one has reported anything so I think we can safely rule that out too," Jack concluded. Looking around he was pleased to see his teammates – including Carter – were nodding in agreement. Not that it brought them any closer to finding out what did happen to her…

"Hey Sam, did Janet or Doctor Rosenberg tell you when the results from the amniocentesis will be in?"

Jack saw her tense and, although he couldn't be sure due to the dim lighting, he thought her face also paled. Smooth change of subject, Danny Boy, real smooth! Damn. "They'll come in when they'll come in," he said, inwardly cringing at his lame reply. "I mean, getting all nervous and worked up about them won't make it happen sooner. At least we know everything seems to be in order and Carter's healthy," he added, avoiding using the word 'baby', having picked up on his 2IC's preference for the scientific term.

"It's okay, Colonel, I don't mind," Carter said with a tight smile. "Doctor Sheffield – the head of the department of genetics – promised Janet the tests would have her priority, so we'll probably get the first results tomorrow or the day after."

"Oh, that's fast!" Daniel said excitedly and Jack, too, was surprised at this.

"Yeah, but that only checks for trisomy thirteen, eighteen and twenty-one," she said dismissively. "Uh, those are the genotypes for Patau, Edwards and Down's syndrome respectively, the three most common types of autosomal trisomy that survive to birth in humans."

Jack could feel a headache coming and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment. "Carter…" He sighed and, looking at their teammates, saw two more blank faces aimed in her direction. "You've lost me…"

She blushed and ducked her head for a moment, before sitting up straighter and settling into her familiar techno-babble pose. "Trisomy means something went wrong during cell division of the gametes – the eggs or sperm – and rather than each having one copy of a chromosome, one has two and when this gamete results in fertilization the embryo will end up with three copies of one chromosome, instead of two. Trisomies can occur with any chromosome but often result in miscarriage. The ones that are brought to term can be associated with birth defects, mental retardation and shortened life expectancy," Carter rattled off in her usual way.

"What are these chromosomes you speak of, Major Carter?" Teal'c looked genuinely interested and Jack had to bite his tongue to stop form interfering.

"Chromosomes are basically coiled and supercoiled DNA, which holds the genetic information we call genes. You can compare it with a thread and spool, where the thread is the DNA and the spool a chromosome. Or a book with twenty-three chapters, which represent the twenty-three different chromosomes humans have, with each containing up to hundreds of million letters without spaces that are the genetic information," Carter explained in her usual techno-babble tone. "A book or a spool can be easily transferred and takes up less space than when you have to string all the letters together or unwind all the thread, right? So, chromosomes coil and supercoil to package the DNA as compact as possible."

"Janet used the book analogy to explain it to me once," Daniel said, which didn't surprise Jack in the least. "She said the book would contain over three billion letters, that's how big our DNA is and that one book fits into one tiny cell."

Carter nodded and looked to Teal'c again. "And the human body is comprised of about ten trillion cells, each one containing our entire DNA in the form of chromosomes."

"That's a lot of DNA in total," Jack commented dryly.

"It is, Sir. The total length of DNA present in one adult human is the equivalent of nearly seventy trips from the earth to the sun and back!"

"Hmm, that's just fascinating, Carter."

She rolled her eyes in exasperation and Jack decided to blame it on her hormones rather than take offense. "Humans are diploid, meaning we have two homologue copies of each chromosome, one set from the mother and one set from the father, and thus twenty-three pairs of chromosomes or forty-six in total; two sex chromosomes and twenty-two different autosomes, to be more specific."

Yeah, 'cause he needed her to be even more specific, Jack thought grimly. "Well, thank you, Carter, for this advanced biology lesson."

Daniel shot him an annoyed look before jumping in to explain things even further. "So, our sperm and," he glanced at Carter, "eggs only have one copy of the book, or chromosomes. So upon fertilization the resulting baby will have forty-six chromosomes in total, Teal'c."

"Oh for crying out loud," Jack muttered, unable to believe he was actually listening to Daniel giving Teal'c the talk about the birds and the bees – albeit on a scientific level. "I think T gets it now, Daniel."

"Indeed." Teal'c gave one of his almost regal bows and smiled. "Thank you, Major Carter."

"You're welcome. If you want to know more I could show y-"

"I swear to God, Carter, if you start drawing diagrams…" Jack said in a threatening tone.

She had the grace the blush, at least. "That won't be necessary, Sir," she said with a sweet smile. Too sweet. "I have books with very detailed pictures, some drawn and others are micrographs."

"Perhaps you could show me," the Jaffa said. Then, after Jack scowled at him, he grinned. "One day."

"I would love to, Teal'c. Now, to get back on topic…"

Jack's head was still spinning with all this unnecessary information and he had completely forgotten what they had been talking about in the first place that lead to this subject. "Yes, please."

Carter smirked at him and this time she wasn't even trying to hide it! "During the rapid test of amniotic fluid they can spot trisomy for the three chromosomes I mentioned, as well as the sex chromoso-"

"They can tell whether it's a boy or a girl?" Daniel asked gleefully.

Clearly the guy had a death wish and had completely forgotten about their talk earlier this morning, Jack thought to himself as Carter's face darkened. "Daniel…"

"I told Doctor Rosenberg I don't care about the gender, I simply want to know whether the fetus is human," she said stoically. Her measured words had the desired effect and a tense silence fell between them. "Now, as I was trying to say, the rapid test doesn't have a lot of information I need. Doctor Sheffield will culture the cells for a day or ten and then she can perform a karyotype; it's a collection of all twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, which they study in several cell cultures for any abnormalities in appearance or number."

"So that's when you know if it's human," Daniel concluded in a timid tone.

"Well, DNA comparisons will probably still have to be done even if it has forty-six chromosomes, because a lot of human aliens have forty-six chromosomes."

Teal'c raised a brow in curiosity. "Then if the fetus does not have forty-six chromosomes you will know it is alien, Major Carter?"

"Yes, Doctor Rosenberg will also perform a DNA test to see whether my ovum was used and that could tell the difference between, eh, completely alien and alien/human hybrid."

"But Sam, if a baby with trisomy often isn't viable then how could an alien/human hybrid with a different – perhaps even uneven – number of chromosomes be carried to term? Is that even possible?"

Carter shrugged, looking decidedly uncomfortable. "Well, we know that donkeys and horses can interbreed and produce viable offspring, despite having a different number of chromosomes. And lions and tigers, who have the same number of chromosomes but are different species, are also capable of providing offspring."

Daniel frowned and rubbed his chin. "But I thought mules and ligers were infertile?"

"I too believe that is the case in the majority of these offspring," Teal'c said. No doubt he'd been watching too much Animal Planet or Discovery in his quarters.

"True," Carter admitted, "but take the Serrakin for example; humanoid reptiles that are most likely hybrids themselves somewhere down the line. We've even seen Serrakin/Hebridan hybrids, but I don't know if they are fertile."

Jack had no idea either; it wasn't something you'd ask your new allies in between trading a Stargate for an ion propulsion engine. "You don't think…"

"No, Sir," she was quick to reply. "There would have been no opportunity to do so if they had malevolent intentions towards me."

"Doctor Fraiser said the conception took place at the end of the second week of November, which also does not compute with our stay on Hebridan," Teal'c added.

Well, at least that was a relief, Jack thought. Even if Carter would be open to keeping her baby he could see how having a half – or would that be quarter? – reptilian, half human child would complicate matters. Besides, Doc Rosenberg had said it looked human on the ultrasound. Hell, he still had the sonograms in his pocket and that little baby looked as human as Charlie had on his own ultrasound. Surely there would be some differences at four months gestation if it wasn't entirely human? "You're right, it looks like we'll just have to wait until those test results come in in… two weeks?"

"Something like that, Sir. Perhaps Janet will discover something in my old plasma samples before then," Carter said.

"Right, let's hope so. Well, Daniel and I should probably get going, Carter. You need your rest and Teal'c looks tired. We'll see you two tomorrow, good night!" With that Jack got up and indicated for Daniel to do the same as he went over to the hallway to collect his things.

Chapter Text

Briefing Room
Level 27, SGC
February 17, 2004

It had already been late in the afternoon when Sam received a phone call from Janet, telling her Doctor Sheffield had the results of the rapid test. Normally Sam would have already been on base but because of the circumstances of her condition and the amnio two days ago, General Hammond had given her a few days off to rest at home. SG-1 was on downtime anyway, having been taken off the mission roster with her unable to go off-world and trying to find out what had happened to her and when, but they were slowly running out of ideas.

Yesterday Teal'c had taken her to the mountain with him so Janet could do a quick checkup to make sure there weren't any after effects from the amniocentesis and after updating General Hammond, he had sent both of them home. Apparently Janet had had the past weekend off as well but because of the pregnancy she had been forced to work, so he figured she deserved some peace and quiet as well. Janet had insisted on given Sam a ride back home and had stayed for the rest of the day. Cassie had joined them for dinner and after later that evening they had said their goodbyes, after which Sam had enjoyed a bath and then called it a night.

But after receiving Janet's call about an hour ago, Sam had gone to base and together they'd gone over the report from Doctor Sheffield; there had been no trisomy in the fetal DNA, meaning Patau, Edwards and Down's syndrome had all been ruled out. Sam had been surprised at the relief she'd felt upon hearing this, even though she hadn't really expected any other outcome. Not to mention that she wasn't even sure if she wanted to continue with the pregnancy. Right?

She had spent hours thinking about what she should do next since her talk with Doctor Rosenberg and knew she had to decide quickly, before there were no other options available to her. Of course, if the fetus was human she could always follow through with the pregnancy and give it up for adoption once it was born. But that had always seemed like an impossible situation for any woman to Sam; she was all too aware of the hormones that were produced during pregnancy, intended to create a bond between mother and child. Adoption would also mean another five months before this whole thing was over and by then her body would probably be unrecognizable after all the changes it had undergone to accommodate the fetus and the continued pregnancy would still impact her life and career. The hormones and awareness of the fetus' movement, plus the birth, would probably also make it more difficult to give it away when the time came.

Her body chemistry had already been screwed up after the whole experience of Jolinar dying inside of her and being absorbed into her body… afterwards Sam had fallen into a depression. Not because she missed the symbiote or mourned its death but simply because of the effects of her hormone imbalance. Now she feared that, even if she could somehow motivate herself to continue with the pregnancy, it would be the same after she gave birth. There were plenty of healthy women who suffered from postnatal depression, right? And most of them didn't have to deal with the guilt and other accompanying emotions of giving up their kid.

Sam wasn't sure if she could go through such a confusing, emotional and depressing period again. Last time it had been Cassie who had gotten through to her but the teen was almost off to college by now. Probably would be by the due date. Perhaps her team and Janet would be there for her but she wasn't sure if their support would be enough in that case; from everything Daniel said and did he seemed to think she should keep it, Teal'c hadn't really given an opinion and Janet probably wouldn't voice hers but Sam was pretty sure she felt the same way as Daniel. That left the Colonel… she knew he meant it when he said that he'd support her any way he could, but she wasn't sure if she should lean on him when she was probably very emotional. Not to mention how painful it would probably be for him, after the heartbreaking loss of his son.

Adoption would also mean she would have to live her life knowing she had a child somewhere. A child that quite possibly would want to know why it had been given up for adoption and who its biological parents were. She would have to look into what kind of adoption procedures there were and if she could prevent the kid from ever finding out who she was if she decided to go down that route. But would that be fair? And what if it also had naquadah in its blood? They would probably have to find someone with the right clearance to adopt it then, like they had done when Cassandra had come to Earth but that meant someone from the Program – someone Sam knew and worked with. That was just too weird and awkward.

Basically, she had three options and it looked like she would have to wait for the results of the full karyotype before she could make a decision. If the fetus was alien or a hybrid there was no way adoption would even be possible unless she wanted it give it up to the NID or a research facility. And if she were honest, Sam wasn't sure she could even go through with the pregnancy if the fetus wasn't human.

Abortion was still an option but she had no idea where to turn to; Doctor Rosenberg hadn't really elaborated on the specifics, merely informing her of her options and of what to keep in mind. Yesterday Sam had briefly broached the topic with Janet at home but her friend had made it clear she thought that Sam should wait until she got the test results. Janet had also mentioned she wasn't qualified to perform a surgical abortion – which was the only option at this stage – and had more or less told her to speak to Doctor Rosenberg about her options, since the woman had more experience. It hadn't escaped her attention that Janet seemed to disapprove of that course of action, so their conversation hadn't lasted longer than a few minutes.

Still, if the fetus wasn't human and Doctor Rosenberg was unable or unwilling to perform an abortion Sam couldn't just go to a clinic and any other military doctor would need the right clearance too. Perhaps Doctor Warner could do it since he at least had the right security clearance but Sam felt oddly uncomfortable about that possibility. Abortion also meant the fetus would probably still end up in a research facility or something and she wasn't sure if she was comfortable with that, either…

The report Doctor Sheffield had given Janet had also included a note, saying that the full karyotype would be done in seven or eight days if all went well with the cell cultures. So, either way, Sam still had another week to go before she had to make a decision. It was an unnerving experience since she had nothing to do but wait after General Hammond had told her to take the rest of the week to process everything. She wasn't even sure whether she'd be able to focus on a project right now anyway, but hopefully she could get back to her regular hours and research in the weekend. At the moment she would welcome any kind of distraction but seemed unable to actually focus on anything other than the sudden awareness of her pregnancy and its consequences.

Sam shook herself when she noticed General Hammond coming out of his office. After she and Janet had read the results of the rapid test they had called him and he'd asked for a meeting. Now that she looked around she realized her teammates had also joined both her and the doctor at the briefing room table while she'd been lost in thought.

"SG-1, Doctor Fraiser, I'm glad you're all here," Hammond greeted, waving her and the Colonel down when they rose to attention. "Please, take a seat. Gentlemen, Major Carter informed me you are all aware of her condition?"

"Ah, yes General," Daniel quickly replied.

"Indeed."

Colonel O'Neill grimaced and looked between her and the General. "Yeah, she told us, Sir."

"Very well. I'm sure we can all agree that we have to get to the bottom of this situation and if the Major has no objections then I would like for you all to be present during this meeting."

"It's fine, Sir," Sam said.

General Hammond nodded and looked at her three teammates. "All right. As you all no doubt know Major Carter has undergone an amniocentesis and has received the first results toda-"

"What did it say, Sam?"

She chanced a glance at Hammond, who seemed a bit peeved about being interrupted by Daniel but nodded for her to answer anyway. "Trisomy of any kind has been ruled out and if everything goes well in the lab Doctor Sheffield hopes to have the rest of the results in a week."

"That is indeed good news, Major Carter," Teal'c said, a smile gracing his lips.

"Yeah, that's great," Colonel O'Neill murmured. "Gonna be a long seven days, though."

Sam couldn't agree more but when she looked in his direction he seemed to avert her gaze, instead looking at Hammond. Perhaps the pregnancy itself was already unsettling to him? She daren't wonder whether it was because she was pregnant with someone else's child or simply because she hadn't made up her mind about the pregnancy yet, too afraid that he was somehow disappointed in her. Realistically she knew he really would try to support whatever decision she made but that obviously didn't automatically make him agree with it. Knowing she was contemplating an abortion couldn't be easy for someone who had lost their beloved child far too young in a stupid accident – especially with his inability to forgive himself over Charlie's death.

The Colonel hadn't seemed too pleased with her two days ago either, she recalled. When he'd found the sonogram pictures Doctor Rosenberg had left on the side table for her. He probably didn't agree with her decision to ignore and forget about them. Then again, she really shouldn't concern herself with what her commanding officer thought about her pregnancy. Right? Just a month ago she had decided to move on from her feelings for him and she really should stick to that decision. They merely had a professional relationship and, naturally, after seven years in the field together a good friendship had developed as well. That was all. It couldn't be more and she had to stop hiding behind her feelings for someone who was unattainable simply because she was afraid to get hurt emotionally by getting involved with someone else.

"Doctor Jackson," Hammond spoke up, "two days ago you requested permission to go over footage and security logs around the time of, eh… around mid-November."

"Ah yes, but there wasn't anything that indicated something had happened to Sam. No one had tampered with anything and no one bothered her when she was in her quarters," Daniel replied.

"Didn't find a thing in the mission reports either, General," the Colonel chimed in. "We went over our own reports and compared them with Carter's when she was in the infirmary and there was nothing incongruous. There were only two off-world missions Carter participated in and neither fit the timeframe. The "diplomatic" one to Hebridan was too early and nothing suspicious happened. The other time she headed into Ba'al's territory with Folger to fix his stupid DHD virus. They were under fire from almost the moment they set foot on the planet until Teal'c and I provided aerial assistance from our alkesh."

Sam nodded in agreement. "As you know, Sir, I spent most of the time on base working with Doctor Felger and his assistant Chloe. The trip off-world was short and the whole assignment took place outside of the timeframe."

General Hammond looked troubled as he made some notes, no doubt he'd been hoping for better news. Although, he should have known she would have come to him if they'd found the answer instead of waiting to make a big reveal during this meeting. "What's our next course of action?"

"We have explored all avenues to no avail, General Hammond," Teal'c said.

"Colonel?"

He grimaced and sent an apologetic look her way before facing his CO. "Well, Sir, he's right; we're kinda running out of ideas. We were hoping the Doc would have something…"

"Doctor Fraiser?"

Janet cleared her throat and sat up a bit straighter in her chair. "I managed to find some old plasma samples belonging to Major Carter in the freezer, Sir. They're running tests on them now in the lab, hopefully that will give us something to go on, like finding out when Major Carter's birth control disappeared from her blood or when the hCG first appeared."

"Um, have we tried contacting any of our allies?" Daniel asked.

"Daniel?" Sam frowned, wondering where he was going with this.

He shrugged and gestured blindly towards the 'gate behind him. "Well, it's worth a shot, right? Someone may have heard something or have an idea about who could be responsible."

"We were contacted by the Tok'ra earlier this morning on an unrelated matter…" General Hammond said slowly, as if contemplating requesting their help.

"Yeah, with Dad asking about you, Carter, you might as well contact him to see if the Tok'ra know of anyone who'd want to do this to you," Colonel O'Neill said suddenly.

She looked at him, horrified. "My Dad?! Yeah, that'll go over real well… Sir," she added belatedly. "Wait, why has Dad been asking about me?"

"Something about wanting your input on a doohickey to kill Anubis' Super Soldiers," he explained. "I'm guessing the Tok'ra can't figure it out on their own without that zombie device Daniel found in the jungle, so they're dressing it up as a Tok'ra/Tau'ri collaboration in the spirit of our wonderful alliance."

"Indeed, the Rebel Jaffa have been worried about the Kull Warriors as well. A weapon effective against them would greatly change the odds in our favor," Teal'c commented.

"We haven't given them an answer yet, Major," Hammond said reassuringly.

Sam shifted in her seat, feeling uncomfortable with the idea of confiding in her father. She could just imagine his reaction! But Teal'c was also right and she'd been itching to work on the theoretical weapon she had discussed with the Tok'ra after discovering Anubis' drone army on Tartarus two months ago. "Well, if they want to work together they're going to have to come here since I obviously can't go to them," she said, suddenly reminded of her restrictions.

The Colonel winced too as she voiced her frustration, probably also having momentarily forgotten that she wasn't allowed to go through the 'gate. "I'm sure they wouldn't mind coming here. Dad suggested the Alpha Site, didn't he, Sir?"

"Yes, the Tok'ra thought a semi-neutral area would be best and since we have the facilities as well as security there Jacob suggested it."

"Um, Doc, would it be safe for Carter to work on that zombie device?" The Colonel asked suddenly, looking at Janet.

"Sir?" Sam questioned, frowning at her CO. He merely shrugged, as if it was a normal question. "It's a reanimation device, Sir. It's not going to, eh-"

Daniel shared amused glances with Janet and Teal'c. "Zombify the baby, Jack?"

"Is that even a word?" The Colonel asked sharply.

"Indeed it is," Teal'c said.

Daniel bobbed his head in agreement. "It's been around since the fifties or so–"

"However fascinating that may be, gentlemen, I would also like an answer from the doctor," General Hammond interrupted.

"Well, considering we've never worked with this technology before I can't be a hundred percent certain, Sir, but I doubt it would affect Major Carter's pregnancy."

The General narrowed his eyes and sighed. "We'll ask the Tok'ra, just in case. It can't hurt to err on the side of caution, Major."

"Yes Sir," Sam replied with a wan smile. Their so-called allies would probably laugh at the suggestion but it wasn't her call to make.

"General, if I may?" Daniel asked, appearing slightly apprehensive.

"Go ahead, Doctor Jackson."

He rubbed his chin and seemed to be contemplating the best way to phrase his suggestion. "Considering, um, recent events it might also be a good idea to contact Thor. Maybe he knows something."

"I don't think the Asgard are involved in this, Daniel," Sam replied. "Thor seemed genuinely horrified by Loki's actions."

"Well," the Colonel drawled, "I never thought they'd be making a mini-me either! Danny's got a point."

Teal'c regarded him with his customary raised eyebrow before speaking up. "Thor assured us Loki was a renegade Asgard and would be dealt with properly."

"Yeah well, Loki managed to sneak under Thor's radar once and the Asgard are even busier with the Replicators now. I say it's worth a shot to give Thor a call and see if Loki is still where he's supposed to be," Colonel O'Neill countered.

"Maybe, Sir, but one of the other projects I was working on at the end of last year was a jamming device," Sam said. Seeing their confused looks, she elaborated. "It jams the frequencies the Goa'uld and Asgard use for communication and the remote control devices to activate ring transporter or beaming technology. I finished the prototype in, um, October but we wanted to make it smaller and portable, so it's been on the backburner for a while. As a matter of fact, it was one of the projects I handed over to someone else in December because I was too busy with off-world missions and other more important projects, like the ion propulsion engine."

General Hammond looked at her intently, his eyes narrowed. "So… what you're saying is that even if Loki escaped he wouldn't have been able to beam you up prior to late December, Major Carter?"

"Not from my lab, at least, no Sir."

Daniel's face cleared, as if he suddenly had an idea. "The bright white light would have been visible under your door on the footage of level twenty-five! I didn't see anything like that and there have been no reports of Sam suddenly disappearing in the corridors, commissary, 'gate room or-"

"Yeah, we get it, Daniel. No one stole Carter when no one was looking," the Colonel said irritably. "Still, I wanna contact the Asgard to see if they have any idea who's behind this."

"I agree with Colonel O'Neill's assessment. Right now that's the only idea we've got, until Doctor Fraiser's people have finished testing those samples," General Hammond concluded. "Major Carter, I assume you will want to tell your father the news yourself, so I won't say anything to the Tok'ra just yet. This is not something we need to broadcast across the galaxy, no matter how secure the Tok'ra seem to think their subspace communications are."

"Thank you, Sir," Sam said gratefully. Not that she was looking forward to telling her dad about her current condition, but it would be better coming from her. He probably wouldn't come right away, so she still had time to come up with something… Besides, there was still a chance they would send someone else, if they even agreed to work on the project here in the first place!


1834 hours
Daniel's Lab
Level 18, SGC

As usual Jack didn't bother knocking and just walked into Daniel's lab, knowing the archeologist would probably be too engrossed with some kind of artifact or translation to notice. "Hey," he greeted and his eyebrows rose in surprise when he saw Teal'c was present as well. "What'cha doing?"

"Daniel Jackson was informing me of the vivid dreams that have been disturbing his sleep these past few days, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"Oh, right," Jack nodded. "Well, I think Carter's situation is a bit more pressing than you having trouble sleeping."

Daniel frowned, appearing upset at the implication that he worried more about his own situation than their teammate's unexplained pregnancy. "Of course it is! Teal'c was just wondering why I kept yawning all day and tried to analyze my dreams once I shared them."

"Indeed, since I now require sleep, I have developed an interest in the concept of dreams. There is much research to study on the matter."

Jack had to admit even he had welcomed Daniel's vague descriptions of his dreams earlier today after being so preoccupied with Carter's situation. He didn't like feeling helpless but at the moment there was nothing anyone could do for her, with the exception of Doc Fraiser who was busting her six off in the labs last he heard. "Maybe it's just your mattress; you probably spend more time in your sleeping quarters here than you do at home, so you're not used to your own bed anymore."

"I guess I could stay here for the next couple of nights until I'm caught up with my sleep," Daniel said pensively. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Just checking up on you," he replied nonchalantly.

Teal'c did the eyebrow-thing again and cocked his head to the side. "O'Neill, have our allies answered our communications yet?"

"Nope," Jack shook his head. "Hammond contacted the Tok'ra after our meeting this afternoon and I did the same for the Asgard, but we haven't heard back from either of them."

"All this waiting must be killing Sam," Daniel muttered dejectedly.

"Indeed. While Major Carter can exercise extreme patience under difficult circumstances it is understandable for her to struggle in her current condition."

"I'm just hoping the Doc finds something soon, so she'll get some answers instead of having to wait another whole week," Jack said.

Daniel looked up at him and sighed. "Well, Janet is doing her best and I don't think there's anything Doctor Rosenberg can do for Sam right now…"

"Maybe, maybe not."

"What's that cryptic answer supposed to mean, Jack?"

He shrugged, feeling ill at ease. If he had to spell it out for them then clearly they hadn't thought of it yet. "Just that Carter has a lot of things on her mind and I think she's weighing her options."

"What kind of options do you speak of, O'Neill?"

"You know…"

Daniel frowned at him and gestured with his hand for him to continue. When he didn't the archeologist rolled his eyes. "No, we don't know. What kind of options could she be considering? She's still waiting for the test results."

"Yeah well, I don't know if you've noticed in between geeking out over the baby and wondering whether it's a boy or a girl, but Carter doesn't exactly seem to be thrilled to be having a kid, Daniel," Jack said sharply.

"Oh," the younger man said slowly, realization finally dawning on him. "You think she might, um, give up the baby?"

He made a vague hand gesture and grimaced. "Or… get rid of it."

Teal'c's eyebrow almost reached his non-existent hairline at this. "What does giving up an infant entail and how would one 'get rid' of an unborn child?"

"Um, giving up the baby means someone else can adopt it, like Janet did with Cassie. And the other option means that Sam undergoes an abortion, which basically, eh, aborts the pregnancy. I know that might sound cruel, but both options are available to expectant mothers who are dealing with an unwanted pregnancy," Daniel explained.

"On Chulak there is a concoction of herbs that some pregnant females ingest to terminate an unborn child," Teal'c said in a grave tone. "There was also another method, performed by the priests at the temple whenever Apophis decided his subjects were unworthy of a child. It is much cruder and painful for the woman, but is often deemed an appropriate punishment for an expecting father who has failed his God in battle."

Jack shuddered and was once again glad Apophis was dead. Hopefully his cousins would follow suit soon, so they could set all Jaffa free and prevent something that cruel from ever happening again. "Well, in this case it's up to Carter to make a choice."

"See, Teal'c, an abortion might sound cruel but in some cases women see it as their best option. It's a safe procedure and performed by a doctor," Daniel said gently. "I'm not sure on the details but I think women even get a sedative so they hardly feel anything during the procedure, but might experience some pain or discomfort afterwards."

"I see."

"I guess we'll just have to wait to see what Carter's gonna do and in the meantime support her however we can," Jack said.

Daniel nodded emphatically, a sudden determination shining in his eyes. "I hadn't really considered that Sam might not want the baby if it turns out to be okay… God, she must think I'm insensitive. I should go talk to he-"

"Um, actually, I was thinking we could go out for dinner. The three of us. I'd invite Carter too, but I heard Fraiser and Cassie were with her most of yesterday so she might need some breathing space."

"I concur, O'Neill. Major Carter could benefit greatly from some private time to decide whether she will continue her pregnancy," Teal'c said as he rose from his seat. "Some distraction for us might be beneficial as well. Perhaps we can visit another establishment where humans perform battle in a ring of Jell-o."

Chapter Text

Briefing Room
Level 27, SGC
February 25, 2004

Jack shifted in his seat, anxious to know if this next meeting was because Carter had gotten the full results of her amniocentesis. Daniel, on the other side of the table, looked even more nervous and sitting beside him was Teal'c, who seemed impatient and slightly tense. Looking through the window on his left Jack could see Hammond was still in his office, which was kinda crowded with Carter and Fraiser there as well as an African American woman in a white coat he assumed was Doctor Sheffield, the head of the genetics department. Surely that meant the woman had something to report?

The past week had been nerve wrecking as they waited not only for the test results but also to hear something from their allies. The Asgard hadn't responded yet but the Tok'ra had reluctantly agreed to send one of their scientists to the SGC next week so they could collaborate on a weapon against the Super Soldiers. However, the week had especially seemed to pass excruciatingly slow for Jack after Carter had left. Initially Hammond had given her the rest of the week off but Jack had more or less expected to see her at least pop in to check on some project or another, but there hadn't been any sign of her on base. At the same time he hadn't wanted to bother her too much at home, knowing how much she hated to be suffocated with kindness whenever she was injured; so on Thursday he had decided an impromptu team night with some takeout was what they needed and they had all enjoyed it, but no one had broached the topic of her pregnancy.

Then, on Monday, there still hadn't been a sign of his 2IC on base! So Jack had gone to see Hammond, who kindly informed him that on Saturday he'd approved Carter's request to temporarily work at Area 51 for a few days. Apparently the geeks over there were going to remove that alkesh hyperdrive from Prometheus now that all the other damage to the ship had been fixed and upon seeing the progress report Carter had volunteered to help out, since she had been the one to come up with the plan of temporarily using the alkesh's hyperdrive engine to get Prometheus home in the first place and had overseen its implementation on Tagrea months ago.

For once Jack had actually checked the daily progress reports from Area 51 he had at his disposal but was disappointed when Carter decided to stick around after doing her thing. Something about wanting to make sure the alkesh's hyperdrive engine was properly put back in the alkesh as well as overseeing the installation of Prometheus' new hyperdrive engine, the one the scientists at Area 51 had been working on since the previous one had been damaged during its shakedown cruise. He understood that she wanted to ensure everything was done properly, especially since he and Teal'c were the ones who had, er, acquired the alkesh in the first place – and this time they finally got to keep a Goa'uld ship, even if was just an alkesh – but he also knew this was Carter's way of not dealing with her current condition.

Not to mention that he'd been worried about her – or more like the baby's – safety with all the chemicals, alien materials, heavy lifting and welding and whatever it was that had to be done to get a ship fixed. Pregnant women really shouldn't be around a spaceship's construction site in his mind. But when he'd gone to check with Doc Fraiser she told him it wasn't her first choice either but that Doctor Rosenberg as Carter's obstetrician had given the okay after speaking to Hammond and Carter. At least Fraiser had also sounded kinda peeved at not being consulted about Carter's change in work schedule, so he wasn't the only one.

Another thing that had bothered Jack was that it meant he couldn't keep an eye on Carter himself. He knew Daniel had almost daily phone calls with her and that if something was wrong she would probably tell them, but he hadn't been able to push the thought of her sneaking off to avoid her team – him – checking up on her while she was considering her options out of his mind. For a moment he'd feared she might even have an abortion while she was away, even though he had no right to worry about that; he'd always been a firm believer that ultimately it was a woman's choice since it concerned her body. And since he and Carter weren't involved in any way and it wasn't even his kid he really had no say in what she did. Even if he was… or, well, he thought the father had some rights so he'd want the mother to be talking to him about stuff rather than make the decision on her own. But that wasn't the case here, so… Still, he couldn't help but fear Carter might make an uncharacteristically impulsive decision before even getting the full test results.

But after literally bumping into her this morning near the locker rooms Jack realized he had nothing to worry about; Carter had been coming out of the women's locker room, head down and completely focused on buttoning up her BDU jacket without looking where she was going and he'd caught a brief glimpse of her bump. No wonder she was buttoning up her jacket – she normally never wore it like that on base – because now that she was almost four and a half months along she was definitely showing. There was a chance no one would notice or maybe they'd think she had gained some weight since her medical leave last month and being off the mission roster for now, but if you knew she was pregnant you could certainly tell. Or at least he could and, considering she was covering up, so could she apparently.

Carter had looked up at him, eyes wide when she realized she hadn't been paying attention and literally walked into him but then she'd apologized with a shy smile. Jack had waved it away, telling her it wasn't her fault; he could have easily sidestepped her but had been too amazed – and relieved, if he were honest – by her small bump. But instead of telling her that he'd quickly brought her up to speed about the past week, about how he and Teal'c had caught Osiris after the Goa'uld had tried to influence Daniel's dreams again and that the Tok'ra would drop by next week to work on a weapon against Anubis' soldiers at the SGC, and also to take Osiris back to remove the Goa'uld from Sarah Gardner. In turn, Carter told him that Prometheus was good as new and the alkesh he and Teal'c had acquired was intact again as well, but before he could ask her anything else she informed she had to go report to Hammond.

Now, an hour and a half later, Daniel, Teal'c and Jack himself were waiting for Hammond to tell them why SG-1 had been called to the briefing room. With Carter, Docs Fraiser and Sheffield present he figured it was about the test results from the amniocentesis. From this vantage point he really couldn't tell whether it was good or bad news, since all three women had their backs to the window and he could only see the top of Hammond's shiny bald head over Fraiser's shoulder, which probably meant the General was seated behind his desk. With both Fraiser and Carter being excellent military officers their postures were ramrod straight and Jack didn't know Sheffield so he couldn't really tell anything from her body language.

"What do you think they're talking about in there?" Daniel asked, voicing Jack's own thoughts. "I mean, it's been over a week since Sam got the first test results…"

"General Hammond would not request our presence if he or Major Carter did not have something of importance to tell us," Teal'c replied.

Jack nodded in agreement and looked towards Daniel. "Hey, is that Doctor Sheffield?"

"Could be," he replied. "I've met her a few times but never really spent much time looking at her… er, back…"

"Hmm," Jack muttered.

Daniel frowned at that, as if he wasn't sure what to make of it. "Didn't Sam say anything to you before the meeting? I saw you two talking in the corridor on level twenty-five this morning; you were still wearing your-"

"Civvies, yes I know, I remember," he replied irritably. "And no, she didn't mention anything other than how much fun she had playing with her spaceships at Area 51. Are you sure you two didn't talk about this meeting during your daily phone calls?"

"There's no need to be so snarky, Jack."

"Indeed, I do not believe this conversation will give us an answer about the purpose of this meeting," Teal'c scolded. "However, General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser appear to be ready to join us now."

Jack's head whipped around to the door connecting the briefing room and Hammond's office, and he was pleased to see the Jaffa was right. He quickly rose when Hammond entered the room and waited for Carter and Fraiser to take a seat on his side of the table. Sheffield was nowhere to be seen and Jack figured she had probably done what she'd set out to do and went back to her lab via the other door in Hammond's office. He didn't mind, because he would hate to be outnumbered by a bunch of scientists with PhDs or MDs coming out of their sixes. "Sir, Carter, Doc."

"Sit down, son," Hammond said in his usual manner. "I think you all know why we're here, gentlemen."

"You have the results?" Daniel asked eagerly, looking between Carter and Fraiser.

Jack looked to his right, hoping to get some kind of sign from his 2IC but her face was completely unreadable. "Carter?"

"Why don't we let Doctor Fraiser do the talking, people."

"Thank you, Sir," the Doc said with a nod to Hammond. "Doctor Sheffield tracked me down earlier this morning to share her results with and Major Carter. From the blood samples for comparison she had already figured out the Major was my patient, since she is the only personnel member on base with naquadah in her blood, so after getting the Major's approval the three of us sat down to go over the analysis."

"… and?" Jack urged, motioning with his hand for her to get to the good part.

Fraiser shot him an annoyed look before glancing down at the paper in front of her. "And, Colonel, the full karyotype showed twenty-three pairs of perfect chromosomes."

A collective gasp of relief was heard in the room and Daniel even muttered a "thank god", but Jack couldn't help but notice that Carter's mask was still in place. Was there more to it or had she secretly been hoping for a different result to make the choice easier for her?

"However," the Doc continued after a beat, "while the number of chromosomes seems to be in order and all forty-six have a normal appearance, there is a slight abnormality in certain segments of DNA that create a gene we've never seen before and the protein it expresses has an unknown function."

"So… what does that mean?" Jack asked warily. "Just because Sheffield doesn't recognize it-"

"Doctor Sheffield is the best in her field, hence why she's the head of the department of genetics here, Colonel," Fraiser said sharply.

Daniel immediately jumped in, no doubt trying to prevent it from escalating. "Then what are you saying, Janet?"

Jack rolled his eyes and briefly wondered if Daniel really thought he'd start arguing with the Doc in these settings and in front of Hammond. Perhaps if it had just been the team off-world but not here, not now. "Carter doesn't have the same abnormality? 'Cause it might explain her genius, ya know."

Ha! Even the Doc's lips quirked at that and it seemed he was forgiven. "A DNA comparison showed Major Carter is indeed the biological mother but no, she does not share this abnormality."

He chanced a glance at Carter but she was still stoically staring at the table, not even responding to anything that was said. Obviously she'd already heard everything about the results, probably read the entire report, but there was no reaction at all from her, which was rather unusual. Maybe she was more affected by this than he'd thought. Or perhaps she was trying to distance herself from it even further now that she knew the baby was hers. "Could it be something that snake left behind or maybe a consequence from Nirrti's DNA machine?"

"No Sir, we've ruled out the possibility of Jolinar being responsible for this and according to your reports at the time one of Nirrti's subjects undid whatever it was she had done to Major Carter."

"Or would you like to amend your report for that particular mission, Colonel O'Neill?" Hammond suddenly questioned in a tone reminiscent of the first time they'd met.

He quickly shook his head. "No, General, I was just trying to come up with a reason for this abnormality."

"Could it be a laboratory error?" Teal'c inquired calmly, but there was concern in his eyes.

"Or a cataloging one?" Daniel offered, his voice full of hope. When the Doc shook her head the archeologist frowned. "But it could be an undiscovered gene, right?"

Fraiser glanced at Carter before moving her gaze to Hammond and cleared her throat as she sat up straighter. "Doctor Sheffield has years of experience with this, not only with human or animal DNA but as you probably already know," she said, although Jack thought she cast him a doubtful glance, "also with alien DNA from all her years here at the SGC. Her department has created a database with all the genetic samples we've collected off-world, for research purposes and genealogy, so she's quite the expert."

"And what is her expert opinion on this, Doc?" Jack questioned, as he leaned his elbows on the table and looked at her, all the while wondering if he really wanted to know.

"That it's alien, Sir."

"But, eh, what about the um, the chromosomes?" Daniel spluttered at the curt answer. "I thought you said all forty-six were perfect?"

Teal'c's dark eyes looked at Carter before traveling to Fraiser. "If this gene does not belong to Major Carter and is, in fact, of alien origin then what meaning does this have for the fetus?"

"That it was fathered by an alien, Teal'c," Carter said in a surprisingly calm tone.

"You mean it's a hybrid?" Daniel squeaked.

Jack's breath caught in his throat at the implication and he switched his gaze back to his 2IC. From how he was leaning on the table he had a better view of her lap and only now noticed how tightly she had intertwined her fingers, their knuckles turning white, but all the while her hands were – no doubt subconsciously – resting on her bump. It was a telling gesture, but he wasn't sure how to interpret it. "Carter…"

"Not exactly," Doc Fraiser said, "near as we can tell the baby was fathered by an alien human, meaning that for all intents and purposes it is human. She just has some unknown – alien – genes that are responsible for producing a variety of unfamiliar proteins in abundance and was fathered by a human who is not from Earth."

"She?" Jack inquired, his voice surprisingly rough and he quickly cleared his throat. Daniel shot him an accusing glare, no doubt trying to remind Jack of the lecture he'd been given after being too enthusiastic about the baby but he couldn't help himself.

Carter nodded beside him. "Yeah, tests said it's a girl, Sir," she said softly. She didn't really sound happy, more like resigned, and he hated that he couldn't read her and thus didn't know what to expect from her or how to react to this news.

Hammond cleared his throat and waited until all eyes were on him again before he spoke. "That is quite the news and I understand you are all surprised by this, especially Major Carter for whom this must be extremely shocking. However, I believe there were some other matters we needed to discuss. Doctor?"


Sam looked to her right where Janet was sitting, sifting through some of her files. She already knew what her friend was going to say, having been shown the results by her and Doctor Sheffield prior to visiting General Hammond. Her own mind was still spinning with the implications of the test results and her own discovery at Area 51. It had seemed so far-fetched and quite frankly impossible when the thought first occurred to her but something inside of her urged her to go check it out anyway.

At first she had discarded it, blaming her hormones and confusion for even considering it but after taking a few days to think things over she had come by the base in the weekend to check on her projects. That was when she saw the progress reports about the repairs on Prometheus and realized that it couldn't hurt to look into it. She had already told the guys over at Area 51 that she wouldn't mind helping out with the hyperdrive engines a few weeks ago and that was her chance. She hadn't told anyone of her theory, knowing how ludicrous it sounded and clearly recalling what had happened two years ago when she told everyone there was an alien at her house – they had all assumed she was burned out, stressed or plain crazy and she had been sent to MacKenzie for a psych eval.

Of course, she needed approval to go to Area 51 so, having formulated a plan, she had gone to Hammond less than an hour after seeing the report. A few days was all she needed, she'd told him. The General knew the importance of getting Prometheus up and running thus he had been quick to give his okay – as long as her obstetrician cleared her – since SG-1 was still on down time and she was unable to go off-world anyway. But he had also realized there was something else, so Sam had mentioned having a hunch and wanting to look into matters further before speculating. The base commander had accepted that explanation, especially when she had suggested this was also an excellent opportunity for her to retrieve the data from Prometheusshakedown cruise, something that hadn't been analyzed as of yet since the repairs took precedence.

"… only seven plasma samples," Janet said. "Unfortunately there was only one from early November, three from December, another three from January and the last one from early February. At first I thought something had gone wrong when all but two came back negative for hCG and positive for progestogen, some kind of mix up or error in the lab."

"But that wasn't the case, Doc?" Colonel O'Neill inquired with a speculative look in his eyes.

"Well, I wasn't entirely sure, Colonel," she replied. "Most of the samples were too small to repeat the test with any accuracy, so there was no way of telling, really. Until this morning when I told Major Carter about only finding the hCG in the two samples from late January and February, which coincidentally are also the ones negative for birth control hormones; the five older samples all showed the opposite."

Daniel frowned and looked between her and Janet. "Why, what did Sam think?"

"Carter?" Familiar brown eyes were suddenly searching her own, but before she could respond Hammond spoke.

"Let me first say that Major Carter came to see me on Saturday, requesting to assist the scientists at Area 51 with the hyperdrive engine for Prometheus," the two-star general said. "She told me she had her reasons for wanting to take a second look at the ship while making herself useful. I gave her permission to go to Nevada for a few days, knowing how eager the higher-ups are to get our battle cruiser back in order and this way the Major could further investigate her idea as well."

"Did you uncover anything of significance, Major Carter?" Teal'c questioned, with a raised eyebrow and more concern on his face than she'd ever seen before.

Sam nodded an affirmative and when General Hammond gestured for her to take over she took a deep breath. "I had a theory about… um, what had been done to me and when," she said. A quick glance around the table showed everyone was hanging on to her words so she quickly continued. "At first it was just something in the back of my mind but I knew it didn't make any sense, so I ignored it. Then, when I saw the report from Area 51 it came to the forefront again and even though it was less than an… an inkling, I couldn't help but entertain the idea. Something inside me was urging me to investigate, call it a gut feeling if you will," she amended when she saw the skepticism in Colonel O'Neill's eyes and knew she had to use terminology he could relate to in order to convince him. Gut feelings and instinct were things he could understand but she wasn't so sure about inner voices, flashes of insight or whatever it had been. The last thing she needed was for everyone to think she was hearing voices or something.

"Okay, so you had a, um, a hunch about what had happened," Daniel summarized. "And you thought it had something to do with Area 51?"

"I knew that was where I could find answers, one way or another," Sam replied.

The Colonel seemed wary but he also had that look on his face that was often directed at her or Daniel and said he would indulge them for a moment to see if their ideas were going somewhere. "So you went to Hammond and he gave you permission to see if your… theory, would lead somewhere. Okay, go on, Carter."

"Yes Sir," she mumbled. The next part was going to be the hardest to sell, especially to him and Teal'c but at least she was more confident now that she'd been given all the test results. "After overseeing the removal of the alkesh hyperdrive engine from Prometheus I downloaded all the recorded data from the ship."

"Why, Sam?"

She gave Daniel a wan smile and continued. "The ship's repairs were first priority and none of the data collected during its shakedown cruise and the trip home from Tagrea had been taken yet, let alone reviewed and analyzed."

Teal'c appeared as confused as Daniel. "Were you hoping something had been discovered during your medical examination aboard the ship after you had managed to retrieve the crew, Major Carter?"

"No, I think it happened aboard," Sam said.

"What are you talking about, Carter? That happened a month ago and the Doc just told us some alien did this to you; last I checked Prometheus' crew is human and from Earth."

Janet backed her up, thankfully. "But the timing matches the results from her plasma samples, Colonel."

He leaned back in his chair, arms crossed and had a dark look on his face. "So, and, therefore? Correct me if I'm wrong but even if this had somehow happened only a month ago then how could Carter be almost four and a half months along? You said yourself, Doc, that the baby is related to her so even if some alien had managed to implant her with a three month old fetus then how could it possibly be hers?"

Sam looked down at her hands, which were folded over her abdomen. Knowing it was really her baby growing inside of her hadn't made her feel any less conflicted about the whole pregnancy. But the pieces were finally starting to fall into place! Why couldn't he see that? Of course, she had left some details out of her report, like her hallucinations. But the girl… it made sense now, didn't it? Or was she merely grasping at straws? So desperate for an explanation that she was making connections without any proof? "Sir…" She waited until she had the Colonel's undivided attention and he calmed down a bit before she tried to explain. "Do you remember when I woke up in the infirmary two days later?"

"Yeah, sure," he said slowly, cautiously.

"I asked you how long I was out there, didn't I?"

He nodded, narrowing his eyes warily. "Yeah, I-"

"You joked about the time-space continuum thing," she said, smiling when he looked abashed. Daniel even glared at him, no doubt upset that he'd made a quip while she'd been lying there with a serious concussion but she knew better. It was the Colonel's way of deflecting attention and trying not to show how worried he'd been and how glad he was she was back in one piece. "You said four days and-"

His eyes widened in realization and he gasped silently before finishing her sentence. "And you could have sworn it was weeks…"

Chapter Text

Briefing Room
Level 27, SGC
February 25, 2004

Weeks?! How could Carter have been marooned aboard Prometheus for weeks? They had been only been incommunicado for four days! Then, after she had saved the day in spite of her concussion, the ship had slowly made its way home – the whole trip from Tagrea to Earth had only taken six days in total! It simply wasn't possible… maybe that bump to her head had affected her more than the Doc initially thought? Perhaps two weeks of medical leave hadn't been enough time for Carter to recover and they'd sent her off to Kelowna with Jonas too soon. Could her pregnancy hormones be affecting her judgment? "But Carter… you really were only gone for four days."

"Four very long days," Daniel corrected. "Colonel Ronson and his crew were a bit vague on the details of their capture but none of them mentioned anything about it feeling like they'd been held for much longer. They all still had their own clothes, tools, gear and everything, including their watches."

"Perhaps your head injury affected your perception of time, Major Carter," Teal'c suggested.

Jack was glad he hadn't said it first because the glare she sent the Jaffa in reply was chilling. "C'mon Carter, the Doc did say you had a massive concussion."

"Doctor Fraiser," Hammond drawled, "do you have any thoughts on this matter?"

The Doc shifted in her chair and appeared uncharacteristically uncertain, looking between Carter, the General and the file she'd brought along. "Well, Sir, my initial reaction was… er, very similar to that of the rest of SG-1. However, after Major Carter and I discussed it in further detail and compared notes I have to say I wouldn't discard the possibility."

"But you're basing all this on some negative results from tests you can't repeat?" Jack asked, grimacing at the flimsy evidence. Seeing the looks the two women shot his way, he coughed and amended his statement. "And on Carter's, um, hunch. Right?" It wasn't that he thought his 2IC was imagining things… okay, maybe he did. But considering her unexplained pregnancy and the lack of theories surrounding its conception it wasn't out of the realm of possibilities that she was, erm, grasping at straws here. He didn't blame her; what she was going through had to be terrifying and apparently any explanation was better than none. No matter how insane.

"Not just a 'hunch', Sir," Carter said curtly. "There are simply some things that don't add up."

He sighed and glanced at her. "Like what?"

Oh, now he'd gone and done it! Her eyes narrowed at him and he could see from the set of her jaw that she was pissed. Crap. "Like how up until two weeks ago there was no sign I was pregnant. Sir."

"But Sam," Daniel said gently, in the tone he used when encountering angry natives, "lots of women don't realize they're pregnant right away."

"I wouldn't exactly call four months right away, Doctor Jackson," the Doc said. "In none of Major Carter's previous exams were there any signs of pregnancy, up until the post-mission exam upon her return from Kelowna. Even her menstrual cycle appeared normal up until last week."

Carter flushed at that but she just bit her lip and let Fraiser finish before speaking up. "Colonel, you have gone over the mission reports and there is nothing that could explain when this could have been done to me. The only time I was separated from anyone on the team off-world and completely on my own was when I was stranded aboard Prometheus."

Jack tried to ignore the way his heart skipped a beat at the memory of realizing Prometheus was late for their scheduled contact and that she was most likely lost to them when there was no sign of them along the ship's route. It had been yet another reminder of how inappropriate his feelings for her had become and when they got her back he'd told himself he would have to take a step back, create some distance between them – as soon as she woke up. "Okay, I'll give you that," he admitted. It was true, they had gone over this a million times already in the past two weeks and this actually sounded like the only opportunity whoever was responsible for her condition would have had to get her alone. "But if you were there alone, then who his behind all this?"

"And how do you propose they executed their plan, Major Carter?"

He bobbed his head in agreement with Teal'c and waved his hand in the direction of the Jaffa in a silent question to Carter. "Exactly."

"I-I'm not sure," she admitted, her eyes downcast again. "I don't have all the details; I told you, this was all just a-"

"Hunch, yeah, you said that."

"-theory, Colonel," Carter said sharply. "All I know is that's when it was done to me."

Daniel was rubbing his chin pensively. "Are you suggesting it's got something to do with that nebula, Sam?"

"Um, yes. I mean, it has to." She looked slightly taken aback that he seemed to take her theory seriously. "There was something off about it; the untypical density of the gases and the way they interfered with the ship's systems – it just wasn't normal."

Jack felt like a bastard at seeing her pleading look. Carter wouldn't have suggested this theory if she didn't feel strongly about it. Or was desperate, a small voice reminded him. But she obviously believed it and considering how many times she'd saved all their asses and entire planets – including Earth – with what seemed like an impossible idea, he really had to give her the benefit of the doubt. Plus the amateur astronomer in him had to agree with her on the nebula's properties; it had been studied for years via telescopes and there had been no indication it was anything unlike a regular gas cloud. "Okay, let's say you're right…" He cleared his throat awkwardly when she looked at him all hopeful and continued. "… and something happened to you while you were alone aboard Prometheus. Why are you the only one affected?"

"Indeed, the enemy vessel was also present in the nebula," Teal'c said.

"Yeah, and the ship's crew was still there, too. On the, um, enemy's vessel, I mean," Daniel added. "You weren't the only woman, were you?"

Fraiser shook her head before Carter could even respond. "No, the Major wasn't the only woman of childbearing age aboard Prometheus."

"Has the other female personnel been double-checked, Doctor?" Hammond asked, suddenly looking a bit panicked.

"Once we realized the nature of Major Carter's pregnancy was unexplained I had my staff recall all female personnel for pregnancy tests, General," she replied. "Major Carter was the only one who tested positive."

"Lucky me," Carter muttered under her breath, but not low enough to go unnoticed by Jack.

Her misery and obviously conflicted feelings about the pregnancy made his heart go out to her but he knew he couldn't offer her any support or comfort. Not right now, in front of the base commander. He would help her by finding out what had happened to her and catch whoever was responsible! And if she would still accept it after this meeting he would also support her any way he could, no matter what decision she'd make. "Okay, but that still doesn't explain why Carter's the only one who experienced her time in the nebula as weeks rather than four days like the rest."

"Well, Sam was all alone on the ship. Maybe someone, possibly even the alien vessel, targeted Prometheus and thus she's the only one affected," Daniel suggested.

"But why?" Hammond said in a loud voice. "What could anyone possibly gain by doing this? Do we have any explanation as to motivation, people?"

Teal'c raised a brow and looked pointedly at Carter's abdomen. "Perhaps whoever is responsible stood to gain something from Major Carter's pregnancy."

Jack blocked out Daniel when the guy started theorizing about an alien species wanting to spread their wings and settle roots on different planets to leave a genetic footprint or whatever the hell he was rambling about. The only thing that came to his mind was that, if it had happened while she was all alone, injured – possibly unconscious – and defenseless aboard Prometheus, there was a good chance the guy responsible for this was just some sick pervert and he really didn't want to voice that thought just in case it hadn't crossed Carter's mind yet. She was brilliant and certainly not naïve so if she hadn't thought of it yet then she didn't want to entertain the possibility. "Okay," he said loudly, interrupting Daniel's chattering. "We can theorize about the why later. How about the how?"

"The how, Sir?"

"Yes Carter, the how; how could someone have done this to you a month ago while you're almost four and a half months along now," he replied.

She blinked at him and seemed to search for words. "Well Sir, remember how you joked about that whole space-time continuum thing and how all time was relative…?"

Oh crap. "You mean… I was actually right?"

"Time dilation is certainly a good possibility and not out of the realm of science as we have learned over the years," Doctor Fraiser pointed out.

Daniel immediately jumped in. "But the only ones capable of that technology are the Asgard-"

"That's what we get for saving their little gray butts?!" Jack asked, fuming at the possibility that they were responsible. As if messing with him wasn't enough they had to go after Carter?

"-and the Replicators," the archeologist finished.

"Oh," he said slowly, trying to calm down, "well the part about their gray butts still applies. To the original ones, at least."

"Anubis could also possess the knowledge to create a time dilation after his ascension or through probing the minds of Thor and Jonas Quinn," Teal'c said.

Jack's eyes wandered back to Carter again and he wondered what the introspective look on her face was all about. Was there more to her theory than she was telling or was she just preoccupied with the pregnancy? "Still, what could any of them gain from… um, doing this to Carter? What's in it for them?"

"I thought you said the motivation could wait until later?" Daniel questioned.

"Well, it's later now," he replied lamely.

Teal'c looked at him oddly before turning to Fraiser. "Doctor Fraiser, is it possible these alien proteins you uncovered could be of value to the Asgard, Replicators or Anubis?"

The Doc sighed and looked between her patient and the Jaffa. "Well, at this point we have no idea what kinds of proteins are produced or what their function is, but I guess it's possible. Doctor Sheffield assured me she would look into it further, by culturing more cells and hopefully manipulating them into expressing more proteins for further study."

"Um, we probably shouldn't rule out the Ancients either. I mean, after Orlin tried to look into Sam's mind he basically descended for her." Daniel said, before quickly shooting an apologizing glance towards Carter. "I'm just pointing out that it's a possibility."

Just the mention of that alien was enough to make Jack's hackles rise but he tried not to show it. He couldn't really blame the alien; it seemed all unattached alien males who got to know his 2IC a bit fell for her. Not that she seemed to notice or anything. "But I thought they had to take on human form before they could… you know, touch stuff. So, what happened to your Ancient and why wasn't he still aboard Prometheus? Or did he conveniently ascend again before anyone saw him?"

"The Colonel has a point, Daniel," Carter said, much to his surprise. "At the time, Orlin implied that as an ascended being he was very powerful and considered how Oma Desala controlled the forces of Nature as easy, but all those powers disappeared when he retook human form. So, an ascended being would be unable to interact, um, physically with a human but upon retaking human form they would be unable to use their former powers for, say, altering one's perception of time."

"Thank you, Carter. So, that's ruled out. Replicators aren't much of an option either since the DNA is human and not half technobug," Jack said, with a vague gesture towards his 2IC's abdomen. "Considering Anubis is in between planes of existence at the moment, I think we can all guess why the Asgard haven't gotten back to us yet."

Hammond cleared his throat loudly and sent a glare his way. "I think it's a bit too early to make assumptions and point the finger at one of our allies, Colonel O'Neill."

"And they're not human either," Daniel piped up.

"I was also under the impression they were incapable of meiosis," Fraiser said, turning to Carter. "Major?"

"Um, yes, that's right. Sexual reproduction, Sir," she added with a nod to Hammond, who colored slightly. "They survive through means of transferring their consciousness into a younger, cloned body."

Right. "Okay, there's that," Jack admitted reluctantly.

"I believe the enemy vessel has not yet been ruled out," Teal'c said. "According to the descriptions Major Carter and the crew of Prometheus gave of the vessel we have yet to identify the race."

"And the nebula," Daniel said.

Jack frowned at him, trying to rack his brain about what he could possibly mean. "What're you talking about?"

The archeologist looked at him as if it was plain as day but he still didn't get it. "From what Sam said about it not behaving like a normal nebula… what if it's actually a sentient being and, um, and maybe Prometheus and the other ship offended it when they flew into it?"

"I'm sorry," he said slowly, "are you suggesting the nebula got mad and impregnated Carter? Why, out of some kind of nebula-revenge thing? It's a nebula, a cloud of dust and ionized gases, for crying out loud!"

"We've seen stranger things," Daniel replied petulantly. "Why not a, um, space born entity?"

Sighing, Jack looked around the table. Hammond seemed a bit perplexed and even Teal'c looked doubtful. Fraiser seemed cautiously pensive and Carter… "See, even Carter thinks it's crazy!" He said, gesturing at the look on his 2IC's face.

"Sam?"

"No, no, not really," Carter said softly, almost hesitantly. "It's just… um, there are certain things I didn't really mention in my report and-"

"What?!" Jack cried, stunned. She had left something out of her report? Carter?

"Come again, Major," Hammond said sternly.

She visibly swallowed, looking nervous. "I didn't lie or anything like that, Sir. I just left out some details."

The two-star general narrowed his eyes at her, not in the least appeased by her answer. "Like what, Major?"

"I mentioned I was suffering from hallucinations, but I didn't go into specifics about them," Carter said.

"If I may, Sir," Fraiser piped up and Hammond nodded his okay. "Under the circumstances hallucinations are not uncommon and they can vary wildly. Major Carter mentioned experiencing them due to her concussion and exhaustion but she made it clear that she knew they were merely figments of her imagination and after making a note of it, we both felt any further explanation was unnecessary."

"But clearly you now feel otherwise, isn't that right, Major Carter?" Hammond questioned.

Carter gnawed her lip and looked up from her lap. "Yes Sir. My hallucinations consisted of several people, among them Daniel and he basically said the same thing to me. At first he urged me to study the cloud further but later on he suggested the cloud was alive."

Jack snorted at that but a look at Daniel showed the archeologist clearly agreed with Carter's mind. "Oh, come on. "It's alive"? Really?"

"My reaction was similar to that of the Colonel," she admitted wryly. "But 'Daniel' used many of the same arguments about it being sentient and offended when I tried to figure out why it interfered with the ship's systems and why it was corroding the hull."

"That's amazing," Daniel said slowly. "I mean, that definitely sounds like something I'd say."

"Something you did just say," Jack reminded him. "So, who else did you imagine there, Carter?"

She blushed and ducked her head briefly. "Um, Teal'c was there first. He warned me to stay awake, that I'd die if I were to fall asleep because of my injury. Then, when he appeared again, he told me not everything was as it seemed and that the enemy was possibly probing my mind, meaning I might inadvertently help them while trying to fix the ship and that I should prevent that from happening."

"A judicious and," Teal'c raised his eyebrow at Daniel, "most helpful advice."

"Anything else, Major Carter? Something useful to your current situation, perhaps," Hammond said irritably.

Her cheeks colored even more at the rebuke and she looked in the General's direction. "Sorry, Sir. There was a, um… there was this little girl. Everyone else that appeared I knew but I didn't have a clue who she was."

"A little girl?" Daniel questioned, his curiosity clearly piqued.

But Jack wasn't going to let this go just yet. "Hey, what about me? Didn't I say or do something useful?"

"Um, you do realize you weren't really there, right Jack? It was all in Sam's head, so everything 'we'," Daniel used air quotes, "said was what she imagined we would say."

"Major Carter knows us well," Teal'c said with obvious approval.

Jack rolled his eyes and gently prodded his 2IC in her arm. "Carter?"

"Colonel O'Neill, please," Hammond said in an exasperated tone.

"Come on, Sir," he whined, "just le–"

Carter sighed loudly and interrupted him. "Yes, Colonel, you and my Dad were there as well. You told me to go save my as– um, myself. To go save myself."

"And you did! See, I was he-"

"You were very helpful, Sir," Carter said curtly. But she said in a funny tone, like she didn't mean it. Or appreciate it. Which was weird, since it was her imagination that had come up with it. "However," she continued, "in the end it was something the girl did that gave me the idea to escape."

"Really?" Daniel asked, clearly surprised.

"And you didn't think to mention this, Major? A strange, unknown girl, gives you the answer to escape a hostile situation and means for negotiation to get your crew back… you didn't deem that important enough to warrant a mention in your report?"

To Jack's surprise Carter didn't look abashed at Hammond's rebuke and a glint of anger appeared in her eyes. "With all due respect, Sir, the last time I reported a genuine alien encounter on downtime, instead of being taken seriously, I was sent for a psych eval and treated like I was burned out, crazy or seeing things. This time I had a head injury, was exhausted and very much aware of the fact I was hallucinating. However, I still reported the fact I had experienced hallucinations to the doctor on duty in the infirmary aboard Prometheus and to the base CMO when I was back on Earth. Both of them assured me that it was completely normal and harmless."

Jack winced at her little tirade and he couldn't really blame her for being angry; they had treated her poorly when she'd first reported seeing Orlin. He himself had been downright condescending at one point as he was still coping with the aftermath of having to zat her twice – basically kill her – when she'd been taken over by that alien entity a few weeks earlier. His emotions had risen dangerously close to the surface, threatening to overwhelm him. At the time it had seemed like a good idea to distance himself from her, having once again been reminded of why the frat regs existed and that he had hesitated in taking her out despite Earth being at stake – all because of his feelings for her.

"Very well, Major. I can see why you didn't feel it necessary to mention the specifics of your hallucinations after getting the reassurances of two professionals," Hammond said, with a disapproving look at Fraiser. "Could you please elaborate on this… child, you saw?"

"Um, she was just a little girl that suddenly appeared. She was asking me to play with her, sang a song, told me to eat to keep my strength up and was blowing bubbles…"

"That's what kids do, Carter," Jack couldn't help but say. But when her soft smile at the memory faltered, he realized it had been a mistake; she wasn't ready yet.

She cleared her throat and looked down at the table. "The girl, I guess she was trying to appeal to my inner child. It wasn't until she made me blow bubbles that I realized I could still use the hyperdrive – albeit with an adjusted power flow – to create a partial shift into hyperspace; basically taking both ships out of the cloud's space-time by creating a hyperspace bubble around them. In that brief moment I could use the sub-light engines to fly out of the nebula."

"Neat," Jack commented with an approving nod.

"Yes Sir," Carter said slowly, looking slightly bewildered.

Teal'c canted his head in curiosity before addressing her. "You believe this child was not merely a figment of your imagination but a projection of the fetus you carry, Major Carter?"

"Or she could have been the physical personification of the cloud, a, er… a way to communicate with you," Daniel suggested.

"With everything we've seen these past few years I guess both theories are possible," Hammond said when Carter just shrugged in reply. "I believe you mentioned some hard evidence to back up your theory earlier in my office, Major?"

Surprised, Jack turned to her and silently wondered why she hadn't mentioned anything before. Some solid evidence could certainly make this theory a bit more believable. "Carter?"

"Yes Sirs," she nodded and retrieved some papers from the folder in front of her. "As I mentioned earlier, I retrieved all the data of the trip from Tagrea to Earth and took a close look at all the collected information from the moment we reached the nebula."

Jack took the copies she handed him, kept one for himself and passed the rest onto Hammond before taking a look at the paper. "Why don't you just tell us what you've found, rather than show us, Carter." That way he wouldn't have to hurt his brain by trying to interpret all the digits, readings and other stuff she had given them.

She flashed him a brief smile. "Of course, Sir. I made a summary of my findings and the first part contains some of the readings from Prometheus' sensors. They were unable to identify the actual content of the gas cloud, meaning we got zilch. Not some unknown gas that's not in our database but literally nothing, not even a chemical makeup or breakdown yet the sensors were clearly working."

"What does that mean, Major Carter?"

"I honestly have no idea, General," she replied, wide-eyed. "It's unlike anything we've encountered before. We do know whatever the cloud's makeup it affected the ship's ability of transferring power at an even rate to some vital parts, like the hyperdrive emitters and the sub-light engines. Not to mention the corrosive damage it did to the hull. Now, the damage has all been repaired and we have made some adjustments to the ship's sensors and their software, basically upgrading them in the hopes of reexamining the nebula and obtaining the information we set out to retrieve."

"You want to go back, Sam?" Daniel asked, incredulous.

Carter nodded and gestured at the report she'd given everyone. "As you can see in the second part I've referenced to the flight data recorder. The FDR for Prometheus isn't unlike what is used in regular aircraft; it's just more sophisticated because of the enormous amount of instructions sent to any electronic system that is recorded on the device's storage crystals. It's also easier to access than a regular FDR as long as you have the correct equipment."

Nodding, Jack skimmed over the listed information but he couldn't make heads or tails of it. Most of it looked like gibberish to him but no doubt all the abbreviations, numbers and coding meant something to her. "What are we looking at, Carter?"

"I made a selection of the relevant data, starting from around the time I came to; you can see the first line is the initial systems review I performed, which is followed by the results indicating that the hyperdrive was operational but the sub-light engines remained offline…"

Jack sort of zoned out as she rattled on about what everything meant but her explanation did clarify a few of the lines and to his surprise her techno babble wasn't that hard to follow. Not that he knew what it all meant but at least he got the gist of it. "What are these digits here?"

"Um," she looked startled and he wondered if he'd unwittingly interrupted her, but she still leaned over to see what he was pointing at. "That's the time code, Sir."

"These are all time codes?" He asked, letting his finger trail down over the column.

"Maybe you could let Sam finish her explanation, Jack," Daniel said irritably.

A look around the room told him the archeologist was probably the only one who had been actually actively listening to Carter, so he didn't feel too bad about unwittingly interrupting her. Not that everyone else was ignoring her but sometimes she was just difficult to keep up with when she got all excited and went off on a tangent about one thing or another; it was his job to make her get to the point.

"No, it's all right. The Colonel actually makes a good point," she replied. "The time codes are important. Everything I tried, from system reviews and diagnostics to simulations and power diversions… even the distress signal I sent out detailing Prometheus' situation and the attempts at opening a hyperspace window are listed. Just like the measures I had to take to keep hull integrity. Here," Carter leaned over again and pointed at somewhere halfway the page, "you can see my attempt at generating enough propulsion to move the ship by venting several levels of pressurized air. At the bottom is where I created the hyperspace bubble; you can tell I contacted the enemy ship here to negotiate… That's actually from the BVR, not the FDR, but–"

"BVR, Major Carter?" Hammond questioned with a puzzled frown, his gaze still locked on the paper.

"Bridge voice recorder, Sir."

Jack smirked at that. "I see what you did there, Carter," he quipped. "Clever." She blushed at his remark, which only confirmed to him that she was the one suggesting the alternative term for an aircraft's cockpit voice recorder. It made sense and at least it wasn't something complicated… but she still wasn't very good at naming things, like Schrödinger or the Super Soldiers.

"The BVR also contained the voice recordings I created, logs of the events per standard operating procedures," she continued. "Those entries are also time coded and…"

As she trailed off about her recordings Jack's blood ran cold. Of course he'd read her report about the whole thing – like he always did even if he said otherwise – but he hadn't paid much attention to her mention of following SOP and making a log, detailing what had happened aboard the ship since they lost contact. They were fairly new, Prometheus being their first real spaceship and all, but it was something crew would resort to when all else failed, when they didn't think they were going to make it home again. Naturally Carter had pulled off the impossible like she always did but the realization of how lost she must have felt to do such a thing hit him like a ton of bricks. Then again, if she was right, which she usually was, then months had passed while she was there, all alone – and he thought he'd felt miserable for those four days she'd been missing!

"As interesting as all that is, Major Carter, could you please cut to the chase?"

"Of course, General," she said, abashed. "The time coding of the flight recorders prove I couldn't have been there for just four days, Sir. Here's a list of just the converted time, showing that I was there for weeks."

Jack immediately snatched the paper from her hand, his eyes scanning the timeline she had created and there was no denying it was true. "She's right, Sir," he admitted, passing the list over to his CO.

"I also checked the supply list from the ship and that combined with the data I retrieved indicates I was there for two months tops," Carter added, pulling out another list.

"If you were trapped in some kind of time bubble for two months then how could you come back three months pregnant?" Daniel inquired, with a curious look on his face.

"Considering Major Carter's head injury, exhaustion and electrolyte imbalance there's a good chance she was there longer a bit longer," Doc Fraiser chimed in, "but because of her concussion and irregular sleep pattern probably didn't ate normal meals at set times."

General Hammond looked from the Doc to Carter and back. "Would it account for a whole month, Doctor?"

"Well, perhaps ovulation was induced, seeing as how Major Carter's birth control hormones also appeared to have been flushed from her system. That means we have to adjust for gestation time, since we usually estimate conception takes place two weeks after the last menstrual period," Fraiser elaborated in her usual efficient tone. "So, while four days passed for us, Major Carter was trapped aboard that ship for two and a half months."

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
February 28, 2004

Sam startled when she saw something moving from the corner of her eye and quickly pulled her head from under the hood of her Volvo to look over her shoulder, ready to defend herself if necessary. To her surprise it was her commanding officer, with a light dusting of snow covering his winter coat and black beanie. The howling wind and her attempts at fixing her car had prevented her from even hearing his car approaching! "Colonel!" She said loudly, in an attempt to be heard over the wind and snow whipping around them. "What are you doing here, Sir?"

He peered over her shoulder at her Volvo's engine and, seeing her shrug in response, moved to close the hood. "Can we go inside?"

"Sure," she nodded and pushed him out of the way to do it herself. She was just pregnant, not an invalid and perfectly capable of opening or closing the hood of her car herself. Then she walked around the car to grab her bag off the passenger's seat and locked the doors with her key fob. "Let's go."

Colonel O'Neill walked a few steps until he was standing near her hedges, his feet disappearing in the inches of snow, and watched her warily. "Careful, Carter."

"Yes Sir," she muttered, holding back an eye roll at his overprotective behavior from the last few weeks. Of course, she didn't do herself any favors when her boot slipped on the snow as she stepped onto the sidewalk and nearly lost her balance. "Whoa!"

"Gotcha!" The Colonel said, one arm wrapped around her waist and his right hand holding her left arm in a bruising grip. "Christ Carter, you've got to be more careful," he scolded her.

She shuddered as his warm breath hit her cheek and tried to pull away from him, but he wouldn't release his hold on her. "I'm fine, Sir," she replied irritably. It was just that her balance had been a bit off since a few days, no doubt because of her changing body and overall it went fine, unless she had to walk on uneven ground – or snow apparently. He made it sound like she wasn't paying attention to her surrounding or safety and had nearly hit the ground, but it had been just a small slip. If anything, his sudden movement towards her and subsequent grabbing had made it worse because she had been startled and tensed up. Not to mention that his close proximity made her uncomfortable due to the hormones racing through her and her changing body; up this close, with his arm wrapped around her stomach he could no doubt feel it.

"No, you're not," he grumbled.

Sam could tell from his expression that he was as stunned by his reply as she was – he normally never called her on it – but then his eyes widened in surprise and he leaned back a bit, putting more distance between them. He looked down her body and she flushed involuntarily when his gaze rested on her abdomen, which definitely wasn't as flat as a few weeks ago and it especially showed with the long-sleeved shirt she was wearing and her coat hanging open. The soft dark blue cotton shirt had become formfitting while it used to be somewhat loose, but was one of the few items in her closet that still fit comfortably and didn't scream she was pregnant, like a lot of her blouses that stretched too tightly around her body or her woolen sweaters that made her look even bigger and farther along.

A look of amazement appeared on the Colonel's handsome face. Her cheeks burned under the attention and his close proximity put her senses in overdrive but he didn't seem to notice as he didn't look up once. Sam, however, became intensely aware of his scent and could feel his body heat slowly seeping into her. Up until now she hadn't really been cold hence the open coat but damn if she wasn't heating up right now!

Suddenly the warmth around her waist was gone when he removed his arm but just as quick his left hand was resting on her bump. Heat shot through her at the contact, his palm only separated from her skin by her shirt and the top she wore underneath it. It didn't help that her abdomen and breasts had been sensitive to touch since last week or that she had been having some pretty erotic dreams the past few nights. The unexpected touch made her hold her breath as she looked at him looking at her. He was clearly enthralled by her slightly rounded belly and his awed little grin spoke volumes. A part of her envied the emotions the pregnancy evoked in him because she still had trouble seeing it as something other than inconvenient and an invasion of her body and privacy.

"Oh crap," Colonel O'Neill muttered, frowning. His grip on her left arm tightened but his other fell away and, blushing, he looked up at her. "I'm sorry, Carter. That was… inappropriate," he took a step back, but still held her upper arm. "Completely inappropriate. I just…"

"It's okay, Sir," she said, reaching up to squeeze his right arm. "You got carried away, I get it, Sir. It must be weird seeing me like this," she added, looking down at herself.

He looked at her oddly before shaking his head. "Let's get you inside."

Sam was tempted to tell him she could walk on her own and didn't need him holding her arm but it looked like he wouldn't take no for an answer. Besides, with her luck she'd probably slip again and just prove his point. She should have taken better care of the path to her house, making sure there wouldn't be so much snow but General Hammond had told her to take the last two days of the week off, since she had already worked the weekend in Nevada. She had a sneaking suspicion he wasn't going to let her work her usual hours even though she was perfectly fine, just pregnant. For some reason that meant no overtime or being present on base at odd hours, apparently. Anyway, she had done her groceries on Wednesday after leaving the meeting and hadn't gone out since, not enjoying the idea of plowing through the snow.

But today she had an appointment with Doctor Rosenberg so she had to leave the house. That also meant it would be in her best interest to just cooperate with her CO and accept his overprotective behavior as he almost dragged her to her front door, because she didn't have a lot of time left before she had to go to her obstetrician's practice. "Door is open," she said as they climbed the steps.

"Do you have a snow shovel around here somewhere?" He asked as he stomped his boots on the mat.

"You don't have to do that, Sir. It's fine, there isn't even that much snow."

He frowned at her before opening the door and walking inside as if he owned the place, still pulling her along. "Snow shovel. Where is it?"

She rolled her eyes as she shrugged off her coat. "I have one in the coat closet, I'll get it."

"Really?"

"Yes, Sir, really," she replied as she made her way over to it. The snow shovel was neatly stacked against the wall so, after hanging up her coat, she retrieved it and gave it to him. "Please don't tell me you came all the way over here to do this?"

The Colonel smirked at that. "I did not come all this way to shovel your snow, Carter. But now that I'm here I might as well do it. Why don't you make us some coff- um, hot cocoa while I take care of it, eh?"

Knowing there was nothing she could do to stop him she sighed and watched him go back outside, before turning to the kitchen. She still had almost an hour left before her appointment but since her car wasn't working and she didn't have the time or patience to fix it right now, that meant she would have to call a cab. But first, hot cocoa!

A few minutes later she poured the drinks just as the front door opened again and her CO came strolling into the kitchen, minus his boots. "Everything go okay, Sir? Hot cocoa is done, here."

"Thanks Carter," he grinned and took the mug from her. "Path is all clear now and I also did part of your sidewalk so you should be able to get safely to your car."

She smiled her gratitude – after all, she hated shoveling snow – and took a sip from her hot chocolate. "Well, looks like I won't be using my car since it wouldn't start but I do appreciate it, Sir. I'll take a closer look once it stops snowing and hopefully get it up and running again. I don't want to use my classic Volvo in this weather and my bike–"

"Isn't safe with all the snow," he interrupted. "I could give you a ride. Where to?"

Sam refrained from confessing that her bike had crossed her mind – the snow wasn't that bad and she was a good driver – but that her leathers probably wouldn't fit her anymore. They were already tight on a normal day and difficult to put on if she was bloated or had a big lunch, so she doubted she could get into them now. "That's okay, Sir. I'll just call a taxi. I don't want to impose," she added quickly when he was about to protest.

"That's ridiculous," he said, ignoring her protest. "Besides, my truck doesn't think twice about all that snow. I'd feel a lot better driving you than wondering if some idiot driver and his taxi can handle the snow. The main roads haven't all been cleared yet, you know."

Oh, she hadn't known that. "Sir, I really don't think-"

"Ack! Don't worry about it, Carter. Trust me, this is much safer for my blood pressure," he quipped. "So, where to?"

"Doctor Rosenberg's practice," she admitted with a grimace.

His eyes clouded over and then the mug obstructed her view of his face as he drank the last of his hot cocoa. When he looked up again there was understanding in his face, but his eyes were distant. "Ah. I see."

"It's just a checkup. She told me she'd do another ultrasound and check my vitals and everything once we had the results of the amniocentesis," Sam explained quickly. "General Hammond said it was okay for me to go to her practice since the DNA showed the fetus is human – mostly – and the sonogram is non-invasive. It would probably be more circumspect than having her come to the SGC again with all her equipment."

"Yeah, the only ones on base that know are Hammond, Fraiser and maybe some of her staff, Sheffield and SG-1, right? Rumors might get started if people see you disappearing into a private exam room with Rosenberg again."

"And Doctor MacKenzie," she said. "Janet and Doctor Rosenberg both thought it would be best for me to talk to someone who knows about the SGC and the nature of the pregnancy rather than some regular counselor who could never begin to understand what happened because they don't have security clearance."

The Colonel nodded slowly and looked at her intently. "Have you spoken to him?"

"Not yet, I might, later. But Janet figured he'd have to be prepared for this before I come barging into his office," she said with a wan smile. Doctor Rosenberg wasn't qualified to act as her counselor and probably wouldn't even have the time with her own practice and her work at the Air Force Academy Hospital. Janet would have the time but she had made it pretty clear that she wasn't the right choice in this case; she was available as a friend but not as a counselor. MacKenzie was a psychiatrist, an Air Force officer and had dealt with tons of crazy situations at the SGC, and he was very professional.

"When's your appointment, Carter?"

"Um," she looked at the clock, "almost forty minutes from now, but it's at least a twenty-minute drive. I should probably call a taxi now."

Colonel O'Neill reached out to still her hand when she reached for the phone. "Don't be ridiculous, I'll drive you. Ack," he held up his hand, "I know this isn't very, um, appropriate and probably not the best of ideas but I can just drop you off. I'll wait in the truck and then I'll drive you home again."

Sam reluctantly nodded and pulled her hand back. It wasn't that she didn't want him there… the problem was that she wouldn't mind it at all! And that was bad. Not to mention that the rumor mill would go crazy if someone saw them together at her obstetrician. At least the whole team had been there the first time Janet had done the ultrasound, so that hadn't been too out of the ordinary. "Okay, fine. I'll put the mugs away and then we can go."

"Excellent!" He slid from his barstool and headed down the hallway. "I'll put my boots on, get the truck started so it can heat up and then I'll come back for you."

She figured it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference if she were to object to him escorting her to the car so she just let it go and cleaned up. Then she made her way to the entry hall, got her bag and coat and put on her boots while waiting for him to get back to the house. By the time he got back she had already put the snow shovel away as well and was standing on the porch, house locked up and ready to go. "Thank you, Sir."

"For what?" The Colonel asked, lending her his arm.

"The shoveling and the ride," she said as he led her down the path. Even if she hadn't wanted his help she was still grateful to him for offering. Besides, they both knew she was an independent woman who could take care of herself, accepting his help didn't change a thing.

He smirked and opened the door for her. "Think nothing of it."

When she was seated he slammed the door closed and she straightened her coat before putting on her seatbelt. "Sir," she started when he got onto the driver's seat, "why did you come to my house?"

"Oh, I just wanted to let you know that Hammond finally convinced the brass to let Prometheus reexamine the nebula. We're leaving for Nevada in a few hours."

"'We'?" Sam questioned, turning to him. Not that she wasn't pleased that the General had finally gotten the green light – for a moment they'd been worried the presence of the unknown enemy vessel was enough to deny a second mission – or that Colonel O'Neill had taken the time to tell her in person, but…

He averted his eyes and coughed awkwardly. "Um, yes, Daniel, Teal'c and I got permission to accompany Colonel Ronson and his crew. It's the best I could do, Carter, you know space is off-limits for women, um-"

"In my condition," she finished bitterly. As if being barred from the Stargate, even the gate room, wasn't bad enough she didn't even get to investigate the thing responsible for her current condition herself! She had known and expected this of course, but it still hurt to hear it. "Well, I guess you guys going will have to do. Sir," she added belatedly upon seeing him looking at her oddly. "I'll make sure to write down some instructions for the kind of readings I need from the nebula."

"Um, yeah. Okay. I think Ronson has some scientist or another aboard as well, who'd probably understand better," he said, still looking oddly at her.

"Okay," Sam drawled. "Maybe we should go now, to see Doctor Rosenberg, Sir? I don't want to be late."

The Colonel frowned and turned even more towards her. "I, um… don't take this the wrong way, Carter, but your, um, seatbelt…"

"What about it?"

He made some vague, incomprehensible gesture with her hands that left her completely puzzled and finally sighed in defeat. "Just… sit still, okay?"

Suddenly he leaned over and pulled the lap portion of the seatbelt down so it was under her bump and drawn snugly across her hips, but his proximity made her take a sharp intake of breath. God, her nerve endings were already tingling at the brief touch of his hands and when he looked up she realized just how close he was; their noses were only a couple of inches apart and she felt like she was drowning in his dark brown eyes. He lifted his left hand and she swore she could feel the heat radiate from it as it nearly brushed her cheek. "Sir," she gasped.

"Sorry," he murmured, leaning back and pulling the upper part of her seat belt with him in his left hand. "It's the shoulder harness," he said, pulling the thing down the belt. "It should go between your, um…" He blushed and made a vague hand gesture at her chest and grabbed her hand to put the belt with the harness in it. "… you know."

Sam finally let out the breath she'd been holding when he leaned back, sure that her coloring was even worse than his. Those damn hormones were driving her crazy! "Thanks," she said in a rough voice and resettled the belt so that the shoulder harness was snuggly between her breasts. "I didn't mean to, um, overreact-"

"That's okay," he said dismissively, suddenly focusing all his attention on the steering wheel.

"No, it's just that I'm… my skin," she gestured at the small bump visible under her shirt, "it's a bit sensitive."

The Colonel nodded and pulled away from the curb before looking at her with a genuine grin. "Yeah, Sara had the same problem with Charlie. Something about the stretching skin making it sensitive or even itchy."

Well, that answered one question, Sam thought to herself. Unsure of how to respond and needing a moment to herself, she gave him the address and he surprised her by saying he knew how to get there. That allowed her a blissful twenty minutes of comfortable silence to pull herself together. In the past two weeks he had been very supportive, even more so than Daniel and in a way it had caught her by surprise. But there was no denying that recently he seemed to acknowledge her pregnancy more. He wasn't the only one, her other teammates had been very accommodating and protective as well and even Janet had acted similarly.

Of course, it wasn't entirely strange considering she was starting to show now – more each day it seemed – but she was pretty sure the turning point for everyone had been the DNA results. Not just because they now knew it had been her ovum that was used to impregnate her but probably also because the fetus' DNA was human. Well, almost. At least it would probably look human, just like Jonas Quinn was an alien human. Put him in a random mall on Earth and no one would suspect he was from a different planet. And he was entirely alien – although his ancestors could probably be traced back to Earth – while the fetus was only part alien since she herself was completely human and from Earth.

Today was a perfect example of the Colonel's considerate behavior, down to adjusting her seatbelt because he obviously had more experience with this than she did. It hadn't even crossed her mind to accommodate for her bump and even when he'd tried to point it out she didn't have a clue. God, she would be the worst mother ever. Even now that the baby was still inside of her she didn't feel an ounce of protectiveness or love; she would probably forget the kid in the hospital after the delivery. If there was anything Sam Carter hated to admit it was that she wasn't good at something and she just knew this mothering thing would be the worst mistake she could ever make – for her sanity, her career and even the baby itself.

"… Carter? We're here," the Colonel announced.

She blinked and tried to shake off the depressing thoughts. "Sorry, I was just thinking," she apologized with a small smile.

"No problem. Look, I'll just park the car over there," he gestured at the row of empty parking lots, "and wait until you're done, okay?"

Sam looked out the window and realized he'd stopped in front of the door, so she wouldn't have to walk that far. The parking lot was deserted with the exception of one car, which probably belonged to Doctor Rosenberg. It was a Saturday and there wouldn't be any other patients the Doctor had assured her on the phone. This would certainly help prevent running into someone she knew, even if she wasn't aware of any of her friends or coworkers expecting a baby… then again, the same could be said by them about her. She released her seatbelt and opened the door. Turning to the Colonel, she smiled again. "Do you want to come with me?"


0857 hours (MST)
Prometheus, Hyperpace
Milky Way Galaxy
February 29, 2004

Jack eyed his cards carefully even though he was already kinda bored with the game, but he was determined not to let Teal'c win again. Besides, it kept his mind somewhat off the fact that he was in a tin can cruising through space, heading for a nefarious nebula that could stop time and impregnate unsuspecting women. Normally he didn't mind being on a spaceship but that was because they were built by Asgard or even the Goa'uld, both races that'd had centuries to perfect their spacecraft. This was Earth's first real spaceship and the shakedown cruise hadn't really gone down smoothly, now had it? Then the thing with the nebula and Carter had happened…

Not to mention that he could oh so clearly remember what had happened when he and Teal'c had done a test flight with the X-301, or even his little trick with the 'gate and the X-302. Like he'd told Carter at the time, the fact that the Titanic had been completely manmade hadn't helped that ship from sinking. At least those passengers had had somewhere to go! It wasn't like he could float around space until someone could rescue him. Even the escape pods wouldn't help if there wasn't an inhabitable planet or moon for them to land on nearby. That was assuming they'd manage to survive the hyperspace in one piece. He could only hope that naming the ship after a Greek tragedy hadn't jinxed it…

"O'Neill, I believe it is your turn," Teal'c intoned.

"Hm? Oh yeah," he muttered, glancing at his cards again. "Sorry."

The Jaffa raised an eyebrow in inquiry. "You appear troubled."

"Nah, just thinking," Jack replied.

"Are you concerned for Major Carter?"

He shook his head as he got himself another card. "Nope. She'll be fine," he said with more confidence than he felt. Yesterday, when he'd witnessed her ultrasound she had appeared slightly less apathetic than the previous one but he could tell she was still conflicted about the whole pregnancy. Doc Rosenberg had been very tuned in to Carter and had kept things to a minimum and after the ultrasound had been over, she'd sent him out of the room so she could talk privately to Carter about what kind of changes to her body she could expect and whatnot.

Jack had been pleased that Carter had allowed him to join her despite her initial misgivings and he couldn't deny he'd been a bit excited about seeing the baby on the monitor again, but fortunately he'd kept it to himself; by the time Carter had come out again he'd seen the stuff she stashed in her bag and caught a glimpse of the words pregnancy, options, choices, abortion, information and adoption. Now he was hoping they'd find something useful by investigating the nebula although he had no idea what, just something that would put her mind at ease about her baby and make it easier for her to decide what to do. And that they would be back in time before she made said decision. He didn't want her to regret whatever decision she would make but he wanted her to have all the information before she made it; he feared she'd make it soon, with her body already changing and the baby growing.

Teal'c also got himself another card and looked at him over his hand. "Then perhaps your thoughts center around the nebula and what we might discover."

It sounded more like a statement than a question but Jack nodded anyway. "Yeah and from what Carter and Ronson reported it sounded like Prometheus was dwarfed by that other ship. Just hope we won't run into them while we're there."

"We should reach our destination shortly."

"Guess we'll have to wait and see then," he replied. "How long did Daniel say it'd take again, nine, ten hours?" After reaching Nevada last night they'd been forced to wait until it was dark to make the launch of Prometheus less obvious and shortly thereafter he had told the guys to get some shuteye.

"Nine and a half," Teal'c corrected. "The nebula is approximately two-hundred and fifty light years from Earth."

Jack nodded slowly and checked his watch again. They could arrive any moment then. "Maybe we should get going then, join Daniel and the others on the bridge."

"I concur."

Clearly neither of them had been enjoying their card game, he thought as he got up and discarded his cards. "Let's hope Ronson's geeks remember the instructions Carter wrote down for them. They better not screw up because I doubt Hammond can get approval for another mission out here and the guys at Area 51 were whining about getting proper feedback from their newly upgraded sensors."

"I believe you are correct, O'Neill," Teal'c said as they entered the corridor. "General Hammond was adamant this would be our only opportunity as he could not justify barring all females from the ship again for another investigation into this gas cloud."

"Yeah and the brass aren't going to be happy if we get attacked by that enemy ship again," Jack added. He stumbled when they rounded the corner and was grateful to Teal'c to keeping him upright. "Thanks."

"We have exited hyperspace."

He rolled his eyes at the obvious statement. "No kidding," he said. They entered the bridge and he nodded to Ronson and Daniel. "A warning would have been nice."

"Sorry about that, Colonel O'Neill," the ship's commander said with a grin. "Nice of you to join us, though."

"Our quarters were a bit cramped," Jack said, referring to the room with double bunk beds they'd been assigned. "You know, Teal'c, I seem to remember a time when high-ranking officers were given the best accommodations possible."

"Indeed," the former First Prime replied disdainfully.

Colonel Ronson chuckled and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, it's one of the few rooms available and you were the ones insisting on coming along…"

"About that… are we there yet?"

"Um yes," Daniel said in a tone that forebode trouble. "We just reached the coordinates."

Jack looked out the 'window' and raised his brows. "Really? Where's this big bad nebula then?"

The archeologist grimaced and looked from the window, to Ronson and back to them. "That's the thing. It's… it's gone."

"That's impossible! Nebulae don't just get up and walk away, Daniel."

"Indeed."

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
February 29, 2004

It was already light by the time Sam woke up, which was unusual since she was used to getting up at the crack of dawn. Then again, she had been having trouble sleeping lately so she wasn’t entirely surprised. If she wasn’t waking up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night it were her vivid and, more often than not, erotic dreams that had her tossing and turning until she woke up, all wired and sexually frustrated. Up until yesterday she had wondered if maybe it was because of her fling with Pete a few weeks ago that her body had suddenly remembered that it enjoyed having sex, but Doctor Rosenberg had told her that it was very common to have such dreams during pregnancy. Something to do with her hormones and her feelings about the pregnancy could possibly influence her dreams. Baby animals signified nurture and nesting and menacing animals were a sign of conflicted feelings or something, but there had been nothing about the creepy aliens Sam had been dreaming about.

For some reason, she didn’t think creepy aliens were a good sign, although the hot sex dreams were a nice change. It would be nice if the latter hadn’t started featuring Colonel O'Neill for the past few nights, though. With them and her senses so sharp she’d started to feel awkward and uncomfortable around him, worried that he would magically guess where her thoughts were heading when he was near. She groaned, reminded of the day before when the slightest touch of his hands had sent her heart rate racing and her temperature had skyrocketed.

Leaning up, Sam looked over her shoulder at her alarm clock and was surprised to see it was already past 0930 hours. She rolled onto her back and tried to recall what the Colonel had said yesterday after they’d come back to her house and he’d quickly fixed her car per her instructions. Hammond had arranged a military hop for him and the guys to Nevada and Prometheus would take off around midnight. The nebula was approximately two-hundred and fifty light years from Earth and with the new hyperdrive the ship could cover about forty light years in ninety minutes, meaning… it would take nine hours and twenty minutes. Or thereabouts. She wondered if they had already reached the coordinates and if her instructions would give them the answers she needed.

Sam sighed and tried to stop thinking about it. It wasn’t like she could do anything for them from here. Then again, General Hammond hadn’t mentioned anything about her not being allowed to drop by the base this weekend to check if he had heard something from her team… If they happened to need assistance or a reminder of what readings to take then she could always help them if she was already there. Not to mention that Janet probably wanted to know everything had checked out fine with Doctor Rosenberg and if she wasn’t mistaken, the petite doctor had to work in the infirmary today.

After a big breakfast – her obstetrician had told her to eat a bit more – she would take a shower, get dressed and make her way to the mountain. Maybe take a closer look at the brochures Doctor Rosenberg had given her too, she thought. Last night she had started reading the one about what to expect in her second trimester but she had quickly put it down and went to sleep, knowing she had an important decision to make soon. That’s where the other brochures came in…

Seeing the sonogram yesterday had been difficult, knowing that baby was hers and that it could very well grow up to become the little girl she had seen in the nebula. For a brief moment Sam had almost grasped the Colonel’s hand for support but had stopped herself in time, the whole thing… sharing the experience of seeing the baby on the monitor with him, it had been surreal and to her dismay it hadn’t taken much effort to imagine the two of them being there under normal circumstances, like any other couple that were expecting a child.

Asking him to accompany her had been a bad idea and she’d known it but he’d been so sweet and protective that she had gotten carried away and thrown caution to the wind. His excited grin in reply hadn’t helped and only served to remind her that everyone but her seemed to think this was wonderful. Just as she had been about to say something or look away from the screen Sam had felt his hand brush hers, his callused fingers briefly sliding over the back of her hand in silent support. Then he’d rested his hand next to hers on the exam table, his knuckles barely touching her little finger – the contact had been electric and illicit but had also given her the strength to pull through, especially when she’d looked up to him and his gaze remained on the monitor as if he was unwilling to acknowledge the meaning of the gesture. Her heart had sped up and to her embarrassment her breathing had become shallow too but when Doctor Rosenberg had looked at her meaningfully, the woman had casually mentioned that at this stage of the pregnancy Sam’s heart was working twice as hard to pump all the blood around so she shouldn’t be surprised to find herself slightly out of breath sometimes!

Sam chuckled to herself at the memory; Janet had certainly made a good choice by picking Doctor Rosenberg as her obstetrician. She was really starting to like the sensible and non-judgmental woman and she should probably thank her friend for it later today.

Rolling to her side she reached out to her nightstand to pick up the brochures and pondered which one to read first; adoption or abortion? Opening both Sam lay back on her back and was just skimming the part about consent from the father for adoption – which obviously wouldn’t apply in this case – when she felt something strange…

Bubbles? Staying still and even holding her breath Sam waited until she felt it again. Oh God… the baby! She pulled down the covers and lifted her pajama top to look at her rounded belly and felt it again; different this time, stronger. It was just like Doctor Rosenberg had warned her yesterday after the Colonel had stepped out into the waiting room; butterflies moving around inside of her. It was kind of similar to what she’d felt yesterday when Colonel O'Neill ‘caught’ her on the sidewalk, a nervous jumping of muscles or something. Her obstetrician had told her she could become aware of it any day now, especially because she was slim and her bump was pretty small for someone this far long due to her fitness and strong abdominal muscles.

This wasn’t supposed to happen! Not now, not like this! She was supposed to have dealt with it now, made a decision as what to do before she would be confronted by the baby’s presence even more than just a slightly protruding belly. Sam quickly sat up and got out of bed, determined to get a quick breakfast and put on some clothes – the shower could wait until tonight – but before she could go to the kitchen and make herself some toast she was suddenly dizzy and stumbled into the wall… Damn it! Doctor Rosenberg had warned her not to get up too fast because of her low blood pressure or she might get dizzy or even faint.

“Okay, okay,” Sam muttered to herself, “I’ll just take a minute.” She leaned against the wall until the room stopped spinning and then made her way to the kitchen. She really needed to talk to Janet right now…

 


Prometheus, Space
C. 250 ly from Earth
Milky Way Galaxy

Jack looked around the bridge but no one seemed to have any answers. “Well? What’s going on here?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Colonel O'Neill,” Ronson said with a shrug. “These are the exact same coordinates we stopped at on our trip home.”

“Um, are you sure?” Daniel asked, casting a wary glance at the unfamiliar pilot. Hammond’s decision to have an all-male crew just in case meant Major Gant, the pilot on the shakedown cruise and trip back to Earth, had been replaced with a newbie.

“Positive, Doctor Jackson,” Colonel Ronson replied after leaning over to double-check the pilot’s screen.

Frowning Jack took another look out the ‘window’ but there really wasn’t any trace of a nebula or anything else really. Just… space. How the hell was this possible? “Anyone else find this odd?”

“I do,” Teal'c said in his deadpan manner.

“Well, isn’t it possible for it to, er…”

Rolling his eyes Jack let out an exasperated sigh. “For it to what, have taken a stroll around the block? No, it’s not, Daniel.”

“Are you sure? I mean, I don’t really know all that much about nebulas-”

“Nebulae,” he corrected the linguist with a grin. “And a nebula doesn’t just disappear without a trace, certainly not in five weeks’ time!”

Teal'c nodded an affirmative as he took up position near the window. “I must concur with O'Neill. Not once have I seen one of these phenomena disappear in my lifetime.”

“And he’s over a hundred years old,” Jack chimed in.

Daniel appeared pensive while the rest of the crew seemed to be waiting for instructions. “But what if this, er, nebula just happened to have… um, died? Its time could have just been up, right? Very coincidental but those things can happen.”

“The only way a nebula is going to disappear is if all its gases have been used up by stars, it was sucked into a black hole or a star went supernova,” Jack listed, ticking them off on his fingers. “I don’t see any new stars here, I think we would all notice a big black hole sucking everything in and, while it would take about two-hundred and fifty years for the light and radiation of a supernova to reach Earth, I don’t see any evidence of a supernova or its remnant here.” 

“There are no signs of extraordinary gravitational forces indicating a black hole nearby and the same goes for the extremely high amounts of radiation associated with a supernova, Sirs,” some lieutenant at a console called out.

Jack gestured toward the airman. “See, there goes that theory, Daniel.”

“You’re saying it can’t die and wouldn’t disappear without leaving a trace,” he said slowly. “But that’s all theoretical, right? I mean, we’ve never had the opportunity to investigate, um, phenomena like this up close because we didn’t have the means. What if we were wrong all along?”

“Are you once more suggesting it was a space-born entity rather than a nebula?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean it is any different from other nebulae, Teal'c.”

Jack groaned in protest. “Oh, here we go! Now you’re saying every nebula is actually a space-born entity, Daniel?”

The archeologist seemed nonplussed at his little outburst. “Well, think about it; we’ve never really interacted with one because we could only study them through telescopes on Earth and images that our space telescopes send back to us.”

“For crying out loud, they’re nebulae, dust clouds of ionized gases, interstellar maternity wards… star nurseries!” Jack exclaimed, gesturing wildly in frustration. There was no way he was buying into the theory that the thing was alive, not even after what had happened to Carter; there had to be some other reason!

“Wait, what?”

Teal'c looked back over his shoulder at them and raised a brow. “I believe O'Neill was enumerating various descriptions of nebulae.”

Daniel crossed his arms and got that pensive look on his face again. “Yes, but what does it, um, mean? I know they are supposed to be these special and intriguing space clouds but… maternity wards? Nurseries?”

“That’s what they’re called,” Jack shrugged and, seeing his friend was about to open his mouth, continued. “Of the stars.”

“Colonel O'Neill,” Ronson called out, “do you have any other ideas? We were supposed to come here to check out this nebula again, although no one would tell me why-”

“Can’t you use those fancy new sensors of yours? That’s why the geeks in Area 51 upgraded them, isn’t it?” He questioned, knowing he couldn’t elaborate on the goal of their mission – or why Ronson hadn’t been allowed to take any female personnel aboard – since they were trying to keep Carter’s pregnancy under wraps.  There had to be something they could do; he couldn’t go back home and tell Carter they’d failed to turn up anything at all! He looked at the people sitting at their computer screens and waved with his hands. “Go on, use them and… sense things.”

The ship’s commander nodded and signaled for his people do their thing. “Very well, I guess it won’t hurt if we stick around for a while, as long as we don’t run into that alien ship again. I must say, though, this probably would have been easier if you had brought Major Carter along, Colonel. She seemed to be very excited about studying this gaseous cloud.”

Jack grimaced at the mention of Carter and how happy and eager she’d been before… stuff had happened. “Yeah, well, Carter couldn’t make it. That’s why she gave your people those instructions, after all.”

“Sir?” The Lieutenant from behind the console spoke up again. “Anything specific we need to be scanning for? Major Carter’s instructions were specifically for close-range readings, not a situation like this.”

“Colonel?”

Jack looked at Ronson and sighed, dragging a hand through his hair. What had been in Carter’s report about the nebula again? “Do we know what kind of nebula it is? You took readings when you first dropped out of hyperspace last time, right?”

“Yes,” the other colonel said slowly. “Major Carter said they didn’t know what made it different from a regular nebula, hence our little pit stop here to investigate. But before we could do a thing that alien ship came and started firing at us. I have no idea what was in those readings, if they were even completed or if she deduced what kind of nebula it was.”

“Okay, so most nebulae are made up of hydrogen, helium and other gases,” Jack replied, relying on one of his favorite hobbies to provide him the answers they needed since no one else was making any suggestions. Didn’t anybody on this spaceship do their homework? Looked like he’d need to have a talk with Hammond about educating personnel about space phenomena if said personnel was going to be aboard spaceships. “They’re usually formed from the gravitational collapse of gas in the interstellar medium and the massive stars that form in the center ionize the surrounding gas with their ultraviolet radiation. So, search for any traces of hydrogen, gas, plasma, radiation and charged particles from solar winds since the nebula’s central star often causes a chain reaction of stellar births within the nebula, hence the terms maternity wards and star nurseries. Check the FDR to see if the initial results from the previous trip are stored on it, if so compare them to see if we can find out what happened to this nebula.”

“Do it, Lieutenant Marks,” Ronson ordered with a nod of approval.

Daniel was gaping at him and even Teal'c’s eyebrow seemed to be raised particularly high. “Oh boy, Sam would have loved to hear you say that! You know, Jack, you could probably give her a run for her money.”

“Oh please,” he muttered with an eye roll. “Carter is way smarter. She could have told you all that in much bigger words. That’s just basic stuff every amateur astronomer knows.”

“Sure it is.”

Teal'c looked mildly amused yet intrigued as he stepped closer. “Perhaps all is not yet lost,” he said before lowering his voice. “We cannot return to Earth without satisfactory answers for Major Carter.”

Jack nodded in agreement and stepped over to Ronson. “Colonel, can you make contact with the SGC? Hammond is awaiting an update on our situation and while this might not be what he wants to hear, we should probably give him a heads-up.”

“Last time our long-range communications were disabled, either by the attack or the nebula’s interference, but they are operational again right now,” the commander replied and gestured towards a console.

Walking to the other side of the bridge Jack listened to the instructions of one of the airmen, all the while casting speculative and hopeful glances towards Lieutenant Marks who was scanning their surroundings for any nebular activity. When he received the go-ahead he fiddled with the terminal. “Stargate Command this is Sierra Golf one-niner, calling from Prometheus. We have arrived at our destination but target is missing. I repeat; target is missing,” he said into the microphone. Waiting for a few minutes he exchanged puzzled glances with his teammates from the other side of the bridge. “Crap, this thing is slower than when Armstrong walked on the moon, you’d thi-”

“Sir, you’re, um, still online,” the Airman stammered.

Of course he was! He cleared his throat and decided to just leave a message. “We’re going to take a look around the neighborhood before heading home. O'Neill out at,” he glanced at his watch, “1000.”

“No response?” Daniel asked from behind him.

Jack double-checked whether he’d turned it off and when the Airman nodded the message had been sent, he turned around. “Nope, left a message. Not like there’s anything Hammond can do for us, anyway. But seriously, after cannibalizing all those alien spaceships and reverse-engineering their tech you’d think the geeks could get us some proper long-range communications systems.”

“Perhaps the features will be improved in a future upgrade,” Teal'c suggested from his position behind Marks.

“A fat lot of good that’s going to do us… Hey Marks, you got something for us?”

The Lieutenant looked from Jack to Ronson and, after getting a nod from his CO, replied. “Um, I’m not entirely sure, Sirs. We are picking up some radiation and gases that seem to match the ones of the nebula on the FDR but it’s a weak signal. Almost like a… fading trail.”

“Hmm,” Daniel said, “maybe it did go for a walk then?”

Ronson got up from what Jack thought of as his throne to cast a look at the Lieutenant’s monitor. The two men spoke in hushed tones before the Colonel looked up again. “Jack? It’s your call, we’re only the transport.”

“Well then, let’s follow the yellow brick road!” Jack watched as the commander instructed his pilot to plot a course and sighed. “How long is this gonna take?”

“ETA is nine minutes, Sir.”

Daniel was peering over Lieutenant Marks’ shoulder at his monitor before gesturing for Jack to check it out. “Lieutenant, can you pull up the data on the nebula on the FDR?”

“What are you looking for?” Jack questioned as the airman did as asked.

“I was just thinking that maybe we could take a look at it to learn more about it.”

Jack wearily scrubbed a hand over his face and nodded reluctantly. “Fine. Let’s take a look.” He skimmed through the information on the screen, trying to recall everything he knew about the different kinds of nebulae. Most of it came from books and other literature but unfortunately he hadn’t had much time to observe a lot of nebulae or other space phenomena with his telescope lately.

He had seen lots of pictures though, something that had started his love for astronomy years ago when Charlie had started asking him about the moon and the stars during a vacation at the cabin. At first Jack had tried to explain it as best he could with his limited knowledge and had mostly stuck to constellations but soon they were borrowing astronomy books from the library together. It hadn’t taken long until they were taking their first stargazing camping trips, as Charlie used to call them. A year later Jack had bought his first telescope and after a while he had been the one to read about all the difficult phenomena to explain it in simple terms – and with pretty pictures – to his son. Now, years later, Charlie was gone but he still found comfort in stargazing on his roof.

“Can you narrow down what kind of nebula it is from this, Jack?”

He glanced at Daniel before returning his attention to the monitor. “Well, there are basically four different kinds; diffuse nebulae, pre- or protoplanetary nebulae, planetary nebulae and supernova remnants. Most nebulae can be described as diffuse nebulae because they extend and have no clear boundaries. They can be huge structures, holding enough gas sometimes to create 100,000 stars the size of our Sun.  That doesn’t seem to be the case here, though, since Carter said she could clearly see where it ended. Still, it does emit light on its own so it could theoretically be of the emission subtype, but those are often predominantly red colored.”

“I think Sam mentioned it was very colorful. Are there more subtypes?”

“Yeah, but reflection nebulae are blue and reflect the light from the stars around it, rather than emit it themselves,” Jack replied with a frown.

Teal'c had quietly joined them and nodded his head in agreement. “Indeed, I have seen these colorful clouds you describe, O'Neill. However, I do not know what these planetary nebulae you speak of are. I was under the impression nebulae were what one might consider a prenatal molecular cloud for stars, not planets.”

He shook his head and made a dismissive wave with his hand. “Nah, they’re not really planets. They came up with that terminology because those nebulae used to look a little like planets through small telescopes. They’re formed when a white dwarf goes nova and the expelled outer shell of gas becomes the nebula. Makes for very pretty pictures because of all the varying shapes and colors. A preplanetary nebula phase is relatively short, only a few thousand years, before the hot remains of the star in the center heat it up and excites the gases, thereby becoming a planetary nebula.”

“Okay,” Daniel nodded in understanding, “so it can’t be a preplanetary nebula becomes then there would still be a planetary nebula left.”

“Yeah and those things don’t change overnight – or six weeks.”

“Then it was most likely a preplanetary nebula, was it not?”

Daniel immediately jumped in before anyone else could get a word in. “But it could also be a supernova remnant, Teal'c.”

“Supernova remnants are usually a few light years across and any star that goes supernova in our galaxy would be visible with the naked eye on Earth. The supernova that created the Crab Nebula for example was visible for about two years in 1054 AD and that nebula is about sixty-five hundred light years from Earth and has a diameter of eleven light years. The last supernova in our galaxy was observed in 1604 at a distance of about twenty-thousand light years from Earth and still visible with the naked eye, so one this close to our planet would have made it into the records,” Jack explained. “There have been no indications at all that a star in this vicinity has gone supernova in the past. Plus we know this nebula has been observed through telescopes for years, already.”

“Major Carter would undoubtedly have mentioned any indications of the star’s instability if they had been present during her visit here,” Teal'c added.

Lieutenant Marks looked up at them from his seat and cleared his throat. “Sir, initial scans showed trace amounts of a collection of gases, including carbon, oxygen, neon and small amounts of helium and metals if that helps.”

“Does it, Jack?” Daniel questioned impatiently.

“Well, yeah, but that’s very basic. But hopefully we’ll know soon,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at the ‘window’. “If it’s a planetary nebula its relatively small, a diameter of about zero point three to two-and-a-half light years, which fits with Carter’s initial assessments.”

Teal'c clasped his hands behind his back and turned towards the pilot’s chair, but stopped. “What of its color, O'Neill?”

“Well, they’re known for their stunning beauty because of all the colors, but I think it’s mostly green… ish. Greenish, because of something with oxygen ions,” Jack replied. “Are we there yet, Ronson?”

“Almost, a little more than minute,” the commander answered over his shoulder. “Well… will you look at that?”

Jack did and he gasped as the colorful display of gases came in view. “Whoa, cool.”

“Sure looks like the same one to me,” Ronson helpfully remarked.

“Are you sure, Colonel?” Daniel asked and, when the man nodded, he smiled. “Well, Sam was right; I see purple, yellow, blue and… green.”

Teal'c bowed his head in acknowledgment. “It is indeed a fascinating sight.”

“Colonel, a bogey just appeared on our sensors,” the pilot spoke up.

“Damn it,” Ronson muttered. “Please tell me it’s not the same enemy vessel.”

“I’m not sure, Sir,” the man replied. “I think it’s smaller… yes, definitely much smaller.”

Jack stepped up next to Teal'c and peered over the pilot’s shoulder. “But it’s still a lot bigger than us,” he said disdainfully.

“Sir, our sensors are indicating the ship is using some kind of cloaking device,” Marks called out.

“Then perhaps they are technologically inferior,” Teal'c replied with a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Shrugging, Jack looked at the monitor. “I guess sometimes size really doesn’t matter, eh?”

“It’s scanning us, Sir.”

“Okay, let’s raise the shields and arm our weapons,” Ronson said, in a slightly different tone. Like he was imitating some cartoon character, Jack thought.

“Wait!” Daniel yelled. “We can’t just shoot it! Let’s try to communicate with it, see who it is and what it’s doing here.”

Jack rolled his eyes but indicated for Ronson to go ahead. “I think we already know what they’re doing here, Daniel. I’ll bet that ‘little big’ ship was hiding out when Carter was here as well.”

“I concur, it may have lain in wait until Prometheus and the enemy vessel were trapped in the planetary nebula to strike,” Teal'c concluded.

 

Chapter Text

 

Prometheus , Space
C. 250 ly from Earth
Milky Way Galaxy

Jack peered over the pilot's shoulder as he listened to Ronson trying to make contact with the bogey over a wide frequency broadcast. The monitor indicated the ship was almost twice as long as Prometheus but Teal'c was right; the vessel was most likely technologically inferior – at least in some respects – since it had appeared on their sensors in spite of its cloak. The bogey probably thought no one would notice them hovering near that nebula, or whatever it really was. "Can you ID the ship?"

"No Sir," the pilot replied. "Its energy signature is unknown and the ship's outline isn't in our database."

Well, that wasn't much of a surprise considering how limited their database was, Jack thought. Over the years they had met several races with spacefaring capabilities but they hardly ever got the opportunity to make notes and catalog them. Hopefully that would change now that they had their own battle cruiser that would automatically save the information of any ship it encountered. "Well, what can you tell me?"

"Sir?"

"How many life signs are aboard, what kind of shields, weapons…?" He summed up, all the while keeping an eye on Daniel who had now joined Colonel Ronson in an attempt to communicate with the bogey. So far they hadn't received a response yet, but it was possible the aliens simply didn't understand English so now it seemed the linguist was going to give it a try. Jack just hoped Daniel wouldn't go through all the two dozen languages he knew because that might give the enemy enough time to prepare an attack.

"Um, I can't… Sir, we can't tell, our sensors aren't that sophisticated," the pilot answered. "Oh, it's coming towards us now. Fifteen hundred clicks and gaining."

Jack frowned and was once again reminded why he had been uncomfortable being in a tin can flying through space. "But it's not Goa'uld or Replicator?"

"No, Sir. Those we can rule out… The hull appears to be made of naquadah, trinium, carbon and an unknown element," the man added, after checking another screen. "Nine hundred clicks."

"And all we have are missiles?" Suddenly the prospect of engaging the enemy didn't seem like such a good idea now that the bogey was closing in on them and didn't answer their calls. "Can we take them?"

"No, Colonel," Ronson said, "armament has been upgraded since our last trip. After losing our hyperdrive and the attack near the nebula six weeks ago, the people at Area 51 have not only fixed the damage and installed the newly upgraded hyperdrive engine they had created but also managed to install the Asgard weapons Thor delivered a few weeks before the shakedown cruise."

Jack smirked, suddenly feeling a whole lot better about their chances. "Cool. What took so long?"

"The old naquadria-fueled engine couldn't sustain both the Asgard shields and weapon system," the commander replied. "Weapons officer, be prepared to test our new weapons."

"Yes Sir!"

"No, wait!" Daniel cried again. "Maybe they don't understand what we're saying; you can't just shoot them!"

"Four hundred clicks!"

Sighing, Jack turned to his two teammates. "Daniel, maybe they don't want to reply. Ever thought of that?"

"Indeed, you have attempted to communicate with them in ten different languages," Teal'c said. "The ship is of similar size to a ha'tak vessel and tried to conceal its presence; we must be ready to defend ourselves."

"Sir, thermographic sensors are showing a rapid build-up of energy coming from within the ship," the weapons officer reported.

"See, they're powering up their weapons," Jack said, gesturing in the general direction of the window.

Daniel huffed in anger. "Only in response to us doing it first!"

"Oh, for crying out loud, they're the ones that are coming at us at high speed! Not the other way around. Ronson, have you warned them that we will defend ourselves?"

"I have and Doctor Jackson has translated it in a dozen languages, too."

The bigger ship was now coming into view according to the radar but it was obviously not visible with the naked eye because of its cloaking ability. Jack was starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable and was tempted to shout out orders for attack but he knew he wasn't the ship's commander. Ronson could be heard relaying a last warning over the communications before the weapons officer called out that the energy build-up from the enemy ship was continuing but seemed to even out, meaning it was probably almost ready to fire. "Ronson…"

"Weapons officer, prepare to fire once on lowest setting; just a friendly warning that we can see them and aren't going to be sitting ducks," the commander instructed.

"Yes Sir, settings adjusted and prepared to fire!"

Jack clenched his jaw as Ronson gave the command to shoot off a warning shot. Suddenly the ion cannon fired and two seconds later the shot hit the alien ship's shields, which were briefly visible as they rippled on impact. Ronson immediately opened the communications again but before he could say anything, two white bolts of energy came heading their way. "Oh crap."

"Initiate evasion maneuver delta, now! Weapons officer, return fire at will, maximum setting."

A chorus of "Yes Sir!" could be heard and suddenly the ship shook.

"One strike, shields down to ninety-two percent," the pilot reported.

Jack grimaced as the firefight continued, all the while holding onto the back of the weapons officer's chair to keep steady. Daniel was hanging onto a console and Teal'c just stood in the middle, feet set apart and his hands clasped behind his back. "Aim for the goddamn armaments," Jack called out in frustration. "We want them alive, not blown to smithereens!"

"It appears the enemy vessel only has two cannons; it should not be difficult to disable it," Teal'c concluded.

Ronson called out more instructions to evade the ship and its weapons while Daniel made another attempt to communicate with the enemy, telling them they wouldn't be harmed if they surrendered. Prometheus' shields appeared to be holding despite numerous impacts and the weapons officer had apparently managed to either disable the cloak or make enough damage to divert the enemy's power to weapons and shields rather than cloaking because suddenly the ship was visible.

"Whoa," Jack muttered at the sight. It was definitely bigger, especially up close like this! But it wasn't as imposing as some of the other ships they had come across over the years and while Teal'c was probably right about the length being similar to that of a Goa'uld mothership, it wasn't as imposing or massive. It was dark gray colored and smoothly streamlined, far less clunky than Earth's first battle cruiser. "Looks like their shields are failing. Don't do too much damage to critical areas; we might need to board it."

"Shields at eighty-five percent," the pilot called out when they were hit again.

"Yes!" The weapons officer yelled excitedly as he hit the second cannon. "Uh, I mean, enemy ship's weapons disabled, Sirs."

"This is Colonel William Ronson, commander of Prometheus," Ronson said over the communications. "Your weapons have been disabled and your shields are failing; surrender now and you will be spared."

Jack exchanged glances with Teal'c, who was smirking slightly, and knew the Jaffa was ready and more than willing to board the ship with him. Hopefully they would find something related to what had happened with Carter because why else would they have been hovering near the nebula and attack them for no reason? There had to be more behind this than mere territorial urges. "Ronson, if you could spare three of your best men I will lead them and my team aboard the ship to investigate."

"Of course, Jack. You and your team get geared up and my men will be waiting when you get back."

"Sirs, there's an energy spike on the alien ship," the pilot reported.

"They better not be thinking about self-destructing," Jack muttered darkly. No way in hell was he going to let them get away with what they'd done to Carter that easily!


Carter's Lab, Level 19
Stargate Command
Colorado Springs, CO

Sam stared at the slightly damaged surface of her workbench, her mind still going light-years a minute after informing Janet of what had happened earlier that morning. Her friend seemed excited but was visibly trying to rein it in, something for which Sam was grateful. She was still conflicted about the whole pregnancy and had very mixed emotions about what she'd felt in bed. Hopefully her teammates would return soon or at least contact Earth to let them know what they'd found; so far they hadn't reported in yet and she knew the return trip would take at least another nine and a half hours.

It didn't help that Janet had clearly already formed her opinion but at least the doctor gave her the courtesy of listening to her doubts without trying to force her own opinion on her. Over the past few days it had become pretty clear to Sam that her friends all seemed to think she keep the baby, knowing now that it was human. But just because it wouldn't have pointy ears or a tail didn't mean having a child wouldn't have an impact on her life. For as long as she could remember she had been driven and competitive – no doubt helped by her father's own competitive streak and encouragement – and joining the Air Force had become her dream after her plans of becoming an astronaut had fallen through because of the suspension of the Shuttle Program. Climbing the ranks and challenging herself, physically and mentally, while serving her country had slowly become her life.

About a decade ago, when she had first been assigned to the Stargate Project at the Pentagon, her career had become even more important to her; now she was fighting to keep her planet safe and explore the galaxy. It meant the world to her and she wasn't sure if she could give up her position on SG-1. Not even for a child. Not to mention that being a single mother had never been one of her dreams, if she had ever even seriously contemplated the idea of becoming a mother. Another thing that worried Sam was that she would grow to resent the kid for basically taking over her life; she had seen it happen often enough with people who had become parents – like her brother and sister-in-law – to know that you had to throw your whole life around to accommodate a child. There was no way she could just drop it off at daycare or school and do her job like she had always done in the past, only to come home and take over the role of mother again.

She also knew what it was like to feel unwanted, even if the circumstances had been different; after her mother had died when Sam was just a teenager her dad hadn't known what to do now that his wife was gone and he was left with two grieving teens. He hadn't really tried to change his life around to be there for her and her brother, but had simply carried on doing the job he always did and being away from home, leaving her and Mark to fend for themselves. When he had been home the house had often been filled with arguments… Sam didn't want to turn into her father and become an absent parent who didn't have a clue about what her daughter wanted or needed, make the girl feel unwanted and in the way of her career and life in general. Or worse, end up like her own mother and leave her child an orphan because she was too stubborn to give up 'gate travel, simply got killed during a foothold situation after giving up SG-1 or died in some kind of lab accident.

In short, she didn't think she really wanted to be responsible for someone else, someone who couldn't take care of themselves and would heavily depend on her for everything in life. Certainly the first few years and those were exactly the ones Sam had expected to use to fight the war and make lieutenant colonel, or even full bird, so that she could eventually become a general officer. If she gave all that up now to do research she would not only be confined to her labs all day – while her old team went through the 'gate without her – but effectively give up on future promotions and career advancements because lab geeks simply didn't put in enough, if any, field work and hardly ever made it past lieutenant colonel.

"Sam," Janet said, reaching out to squeeze her hand, "it's not the end of the world. Trust me, I never thought I could love someone as much as I do Cassie. She's my whole world and I have never regretted adopting her, not even when she turned into a real bratty American teenage girl. These days you would never guess she's actually from another planet where they had very simple lives and didn't know what an iPod was."

Sam chuckled along, knowing Janet was exaggerating. Sure, Cassie had gone through a phase and there had been issues about her origins and Nirrti's experiments but she was a great kid. "I know, Cassie is great but…"

"But I chose to have her," the petite doctor finished. "And you didn't have a say in the matter."

"I know there are plenty of people who would love to have a baby and I feel selfish for even considering my options," she replied.

Janet shook her head in disagreement. "You're not being selfish, you are being very realistic. Unlike some people you're actually taking the time to think what an effect a child would have on your life and how your child could be affected by your job and misgivings about this pregnancy."

Sam nodded slowly but she still felt so conflicted. Why did this have to happen to her? Why not to someone like Janet who would welcome a baby in a heartbeat, no matter where the baby came from. "I don't know what to do," she confessed. Not only was she scared about what an impact a child would have on her life but she also worried how her friends would think of her if she decided not go through with it. Janet and Teal'c both had kids, Daniel had been torn about leaving Shifu – who wasn't even his, but the product of his wife's torture and rape – with Oma Desala because it would be best for the boy and the Colonel… Well, he had lost the most precious thing to him when Charlie had accidentally shot himself. Could he ever look at her the same way again if she had an abortion? She knew her friends had all said they would support her but she was all too aware that you couldn't change what you felt in your heart, even if you wanted to.

"There are other options," Janet offered. "Have you thought about adoption?"

"Yes, but that would mean another five months of… this," she replied, gesturing at her abdomen. "Doctor Rosenberg gave me some brochures and I might still make an appointment with MacKenzie," Sam added hastily when Janet was about to open her mouth.

"Okay, well, let me know if you need to talk," the Doctor said. "I have to go back to the infirmary, my coffee break is over and two teams are due back within the hour."

Nodding in understanding she smiled hesitantly as her friend got up and walked to the door. "Thanks."

"Not a problem, you know you can talk to me about anything. That's what friends are for," she replied, before slipping out into the corridor.

An hour later Sam was still deep in thought, not having gotten any work done. Not that she had really been thinking about doing a lot of work, but she would have liked to at least get caught up on the reports and memos in her inbox. Instead, she had been going over all her options and trying to rationalize and imagine every single one of them. By the time she heard a knock on her doorpost she didn't feel like she had made any progress at all. Looking up, she was surprised to see General Hammond standing in her door opening. "Sir!"

"At ease, Major Carter," he said, waving her down with his hand.

"Is there something I can help you with, General? I know you said to take it easy but I thought-"

He chuckled as he entered her lab and interrupted her. "Don't worry about it, Major. The security guards on the surface gave me a call when you arrived; to be honest, I'm surprised you managed to stay away this long."

Sam smiled weakly, suspecting he knew the reason behind it. "I was wondering if there had been any news from my team and I also had to talk to Doctor Fraiser."

"Are you all right?" Hammond asked, concerned. "I heard you'd dropped by the control room but if I'd known something was wrong…"

"Oh no, I'm fine, Sir," she reassured him. "I just, um, had to let the CMO know that the checkup with my obstetrician had gone well and that my vitals and everything were normal."

"I see," he said slowly. Then he got a considerate look on his face and, to her surprise, sat down on the chair Janet had vacated an hour ago. "I understand this must be a very difficult and confusing time for you, Sam. Not just because of your current, ahem, condition but also because your team is out there looking for the answers you want – and you have to sit by the sidelines, which is not something you enjoy."

Momentarily stunned in silence by not only the use of her first name but also the fact that he had broached such a personal subject, she looked down at her hands that were lying atop the workbench. "You're right, Sir."

General Hammond nodded, a small smile on his face. "I can't even begin to imagine what you must be going through with, um," he faltered for a moment, gesturing in the general direction of her abdomen, "your unexplained pregnancy. Just know that you're not alone; you have your team and Doctor Fraiser and I'm sure the rest of the personnel will have your six if you decide to continue with the pregnancy. We're a tight-knit bunch here and we've seen strange… Well, I was going to say we've seen stranger things but I'm not sure anything actually qualifies," he muttered.

"Thank you, Sir," Sam said, grateful for his little pep talk.

"And I wanted to tell you in person that I will do anything in my power to accommodate you, Sam. This is not something you chose for yourself and if you decide to have the baby, I want to assure you your spot on SG-1 will still be yours when you get back after maternity leave. Unless you want to switch to a different team, with a less busy schedule or fewer risks, or even if you decide to forego off-world missions in favor of a scientific role… I will make sure you get the position you want," Hammond elaborated.

"I appreciate that, General."

The Texan smiled and suddenly she could picture him as the doting grandfather he undoubtedly was to his granddaughters, instead of the base commander she normally got to see. "If you decide against keeping the baby and need some leave that can be arranged as well. No one will think any less of you, no matter which decision you make, Samantha."

Again caught by surprise she could only watch as he got up, patted her hand and moved to the door. "Thank you," she said quickly.

"You're welcome, Major," he said. "Oh and there was one other thing; we received a subspace communication from Colonel O'Neill about fifteen minutes ago. Apparently the communications system still needs some fixes because there was quite a delay and it wasn't entirely clear. However, he informed me Prometheus had arrived at the coordinates but the nebula was nowhere in sight."

"What?" Sam cried in disbelief. "That's impossible! A nebula doesn't just disappear, Sir."

"I know and I'm sure the Colonel is aware of that as well. He said they would take a look around, investigate the immediate vicinity for any clues before heading home… and of course he was complaining about the slow comm link."

"Yes, of course. Thank you, Sir," she said. Now she was even more confused than ten minutes ago!


Alien Ship, Space
C. 250 ly from Earth
Milky Way Galaxy

Jack was walking cautiously through the abandoned corridors of the unknown ship, his team behind him and Major DeLuise's team had gone left where they'd gone right after arriving via the back door. It had actually taken Ronson and his crew a bit until they'd gotten close enough to the ship to investigate it and determine a point of entry. The shields had been lowered and all the lights had been out, and it appeared as if whoever was aboard had simply turned off the ship in surrender after the initial energy spike. They had yet to encounter someone, though.

Nothing had indicated the use of an escape pod and even if someone had jettisoned out of the ship without it somehow being detected by Prometheus' sensors, then there was nowhere to go! There wasn't an inhabitable planet or moon nearby for anything to land on, after all.

Still, it gave him the creeps to be roaming around in the dark on an unknown ship with only the light on his P90 and the two flashlights Daniel and Teal'c were carrying. At least when they were on a Goa'uld ship they knew where to go and what to expect but this was completely unfamiliar. He hated surprises in the field almost as much as he hated clichés. The two of them combined were just unthinkable in Jack's mind. He signaled for Daniel to guard the corridor so he and Teal'c could recon the latest room they had just come across.

"Teal'c," he hissed, signaling for the Jaffa to go left on three. When he received an affirmative nod he silently counted down using his fingers and then they both jumped in. There was an eerie silence and no signs of life in the room… it was the bridge! Well, at least they had found the bridge, Jack thought smugly. He could even see Prometheus' six through the 'window'.

"O'Neill, it does not appear as if anyone is present."

"Maybe you scared them away," he quipped, having come to the same conclusion. "Daniel! Get in here."

The archeologist walked in, his flashlight already swinging from left to right as he tried to take in as many details as he could. "Hmm, wow. This looks kind of familiar, don't you think?"

"Indeed."

"Yet different somehow," Jack muttered. "Major DeLuise, come in," he said into his radio. "We haven't seen anyone but we did find the bridge."

The radio crackled for a minute. "Colonel O'Neill, we've found the engine room and as far as we can tell there is minimum damage. The cannons are totally fried, though. We also came across some hull damage and have closed off two corridors, but it looked like someone had already done the heavy lifting…"

"That's odd," Daniel commented. "I mean, if you're going to surrender I can understand sealing off damaged areas but if you're planning on hiding out or escaping somehow… why bother?"

"Perhaps it was a trap," Teal'c suggested.

"Then they did it wrong," Jack quipped. But he was also worried. He'd had this strange feeling of unease since entering the ship and he could tell something was bothering the normally stoic Jaffa as well. "DeLuise, you and your team double-back and meet us on the bridge, while we check out this puppy. O'Neill out," he said into his radio before turning to his teammates. "Any ideas about the on switch?"

Daniel walked over to a console of sorts near the window and in front of a huge computer screen and shrugged. "This looks like the, um, keyboard."

"Don't touch anything just yet," Jack warned, wary of the archeologist's track record. "DeLuise and his men are trai- Daniel!"

"Oops, sorry."

Suddenly the lights turned on and a whirring sound, like a giant computer was booting up, was heard and Jack could tell the archeologist didn't look sorry in the slightest. "What just happened?"

"Um, I accidentally leaned on this… console and it turned on, so I turned this ninety degrees and then, voila!"

"Get away from there," he grumbled, walking over to push him aside. Well, well, well… this certainly looked familiar, indeed! "Let's see…"

Daniel was hovering to his left, curiously following his actions. "I thought you said not to touch anything?"

Letting out a sigh of exasperation, Jack glared at him. "Yeah well, at least I know what I'm doing."

"You do?"

"This isn't my first rodeo."

"O'Neill, I believe something is missing here," Teal'c said, standing in between the console and the window, indicating the floor.

Frowning, Daniel padded over to inspect it himself. "Really, what do you think it was?"

"I do not know, it is missing."

Jack cast a glance at his teammates as the monitor in front of him turned on. With a few quick finger movements he called up the ship's blueprint and scanned for life signs. "Okay, I see three life signs heading our way and the three of us here. There's no one else aboard this ship."

"That's strange," Daniel said. "Wait, what did you just do?"

"Nothing," he replied, guiltily looking down at where he'd just placed his elbow on the console, to rest his chin in his hand. "Why, something happened?"

"Indeed," Teal'c replied, beckoning him over to the window. "The nebula is no longer, O'Neill."

"Well, I'll be damned!"


Infirmary, Level 21
Stargate Command
Colorado Springs, CO

Sam walked down the corridors, looking for Janet. Her mind had been spinning since General Hammond had delivered the Colonel's message. How on Earth could a nebula simply disappear? It didn't make any sense at all! She didn't know which scientists if any were aboard Prometheus but she hoped Colonel O'Neill's knowledge of astronomy would help him convince Colonel Ronson that something wasn't right. Still, even if they would check out the area that still didn't guarantee they would find something that could help her!

Why couldn't she have just come along and check it out herself? It wasn't that she thought the Colonel or the rest of her team couldn't do their job without her but to be fair, the outcome of their mission affected her a hell of a lot more than anyone else! Maybe something near the coordinates would give them a clue but she didn't think it was realistic to hope for something. If she was honest, even the mission to the nebula had been grasping at straws. Sam still believed that was where it happened but how could they possibly find out more about the motivation and method by checking out a space cloud? Perhaps there was more to it than a regular nebula but she doubted they could magically find the answers she needed.

Sighing, she turned the corner and looked around the main infirmary until she spotted Janet. Sam beckoned her friend over and pulled her into an empty bay. "General Hammond came to see me just now and he told me the guys arrived on the coordinates."

"Oh, that's wonderful. Hopefully we'll learn something soon," Janet replied, although she sounded a bit absentminded. Probably too busy with her patients.

"The nebula was gone, that's what the Colonel said in his message."

The petite Doctor frowned. "What? I thought those things lived for thousands of years?"

"Something like that," she said curtly. "There was no explanation other than that there was nothing to be found. They're going to take another look around but I'm not holding my breath."

"Okay," she said slowly. "So… Now what?"

Sam shrugged and shifted on her feet. "Now… there's nothing else to go on."

"You don't know that, they might find something out there," her friend said, but it didn't sound very convincing.

"It's okay, Janet," she said, fiddling with the hem of her buttoned-up BDU jacket covering her slight bump. "I've decided to go home and give Doctor Rosenberg a call."

"What, why?"

Grimacing, Sam looked away, not wanting to see the panicked expression on her friend's face or the accusing eyes. "I'll have her arrange an abortion. I simply can't do this," she said, before turning around and walking out.

Chapter Text

Alien Ship, Space
C. 250 ly from Earth
Milky Way Galaxy

Jack yawned and rubbed his eyes, wondering how much longer it would take for Major DeLuise's team to get the entire ship operational. They had been going at it for hours already and according to his watch it was very late back home. Saturday had been a busy day with lots of emotional stuff as he'd gone to see Carter and ended up taking her to her checkup with Doc Rosenberg. Afterwards he'd dropped her off at home, fixed her car as she gave instructions and then he'd gone home to pack his things, grab a quick bite to eat and fly to Nevada with Daniel and Teal'c. Aboard Prometheus he had tried to sleep but hadn't been very successful, only catching a few hours of shuteye and waking up unrested. Then they had spent the entire day stressing over the missing nebula and finally coming across this ship.

It had been almost twelve hours since the six of them had boarded it and there had been no sign of whoever had attacked Prometheus. Not even the computer system had picked up other life signs. Jack had taken Teal'c with him to investigate all the rooms and corridors in person while Daniel had stayed behind with DeLuise's team while they tried to get everything back in working order. His little tour had shown him enough to be absolutely convinced about this ship's involvement with Carter's pregnancy. The fact that he'd been able to turn the nebula on and off at will by using the bridge's main console had been a dead giveaway as well. One that still left him puzzled hours after the discovery.

"Are you almost done?" He asked before taking another bite of his power bar. They'd eaten their MREs earlier but with nothing to do except occasionally playing with the console to assist, Jack found it difficult to ignore his hunger pangs. It didn't help that earlier this morning he'd seen they were serving vanilla cake in Prometheus' commissary and had been looking forward to the treat all day, but now he was stuck on this alien ship and missing out on dessert.

"Well, Sir, we've managed to get most of the systems operational again, I think," Major DeLuise reported after exchanging glances with his men.

Jack sighed and cast another look at his watch. "So… what are we still doing here? Let's grab what we need and blow this Popsicle stand!"

Daniel scrunched up his face as he looked up from his notebook. "The problem is that we don't know what we're going to need from the database."

"Why not?"

"Um, because there's tons of data in there and I have no idea how to make a selection of the information we're looking for," he replied.

"And my men and I have no idea how to copy the information or remove the "hard drive", for lack of a better word," DeLuise added, using air quotes.

Groaning silently Jack found himself wishing Carter was here for the umpteenth time today. At least she would probably have an idea about how to access the information or open up the computer and retrieve whatever data storage stuff was used. "Could you find it with a few more hours?"

Daniel shook his head. "No, I have no idea where to begin. I mean, translating it alone would take-"

"But it's Asgard, isn't it?"

"Well, I really can't tell," he replied.

Jack sputtered and gestured at the text on the screen. "But we've seen that before, plenty of times!"

"You're right about it being a runic alphabet but that doesn't automatically mean it's Asgard since there are several runic alphabets and I would need my books and other reference material before I can start translating. Just like how text in Latin-derived alphabets aren't necessarily written in English, even if you do recognize some words. For example, there are English words that have a completely different meaning in–"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Jack interrupted. "But come on, they are the only ones we've seen that use these kinds of runes and would be capable of this level of technology," he added, waving his hand around to encompass the ship. It made sense to him after learning of Loki's cloning experiments, the time dilation bubble Carter had apparently been trapped in, the freaky nebula, the advanced ship and some of the rooms he and Teal'c had discovered aboard. They certainly looked like rooms where science experiments of some sort were conducted. Reaching for the console he grabbed the jewel thingies both he and Daniel had initially used to start up the ship. "Look!"

Teal'c cast a glance at the stones he held up and nodded in that regal manner of his. "I must concur with O'Neill. We have seen and utilized these stones on several occasions aboard Supreme Commander Thor's vessels as well as the one of Loki we recently boarded. The technology appears similar and they would be capable of such an elaborate scheme."

"Sir?" Major DeLuise questioned, looking confused. "I thought the Asgard were our allies?"

"Yet they have not replied to our most recent communique," the Jaffa said with disdain. "It is possible the renegade Asgard Loki is behind this."

Daniel clearly didn't agree and shook his head. "But I'm pretty sure Thor would have warned us if Loki had escaped custody and he'd be pretty stupid to do this, er…" he cast a wary glance at Major DeLuise and his men, who were unaware of Carter's condition and the reason behind this mission, "to do something when a member of SG-1 is involved, since we know about him and already reported him to Thor the last time. Besides, this ship doesn't look like any of the Asgard ships we've seen before."

"Well, it looks like it was used for science experiments or something," Jack explained, looking to Teal'c for confirmation. He wasn't going to bother defending Loki or Thor because he wouldn't put is past Loki to do this to Carter and Thor had already proven that the Asgard couldn't keep tabs on their own. Besides, last time the renegade Asgard had been banished and still snuck back into the galaxy to make a mini-me of him! For all they knew Loki had simply been banished again, Thor had never elaborated on what kind of punishment was considered appropriate for the unsanctioned experiments on humans.

"Indeed. The Goa'uld and other races have various classes for their spaceships, it is plausible the same applies to the Asgard. A scientific research vessel would not require a size similar to that of a battle ship for the Supreme Commander of the Asgard fleet."

"Exactly! It's only because of the Asgard tech that Prometheus managed to pick up on the ship's energy signature or whatever, right?"

DeLuise nodded as he gathered his tools and stuff. "That's true, Colonel. Our normal sensors wouldn't have been able to pick up on the ship's presence because it was cloaked. A Goa'uld ship wouldn't have even known there was a cloaked ship like this around."

"Then wouldn't the Asgard know about this?" Daniel questioned stubbornly.

"Unless one, let's say an unnamed Asgard who's been banished for centuries, wouldn't be up to date about the Asgard/Tau'ri relationship," Jack countered. "Those on the Asgard High Council are probably the only ones aware of the specifics of the technology Thor has given us."

Daniel grudgingly admitted he had a point there and Teal'c also seemed to agree. DeLuise and his men remained quiet until they had packed up everything and were ready to call it a day. They still didn't have a solution about how to access the data Jack wanted but even he could see they all needed a break. A few hours of shuteye and maybe then they could get started again.

"Perhaps," Teal'c suddenly spoke up, his voice booming against the walls, "we could simply use this vessel to return to Earth."

"You mean steal it?"

Jack shrugged at Daniel's shocked response. "Well, it is deserted and we beat it fair and square in a firefight."

"All the systems appear to be operational, Sir," DeLuise added. "Only the weapons are beyond repair and the shields aren't up to a hundred percent yet, but that shouldn't be a problem if both ships travel through the same hyperspace window back home."

"Yeah, Prometheus can cover our six if we run into some baddies and taking it home means Carter can take the Area 51 geek squad to pull it apart while you, Daniel, can get your books and references to get the translating done," Jack elaborated. "Okay, DeLuise, you and your team go stand over there," he waved in the general direction of the slightly raised platform he'd seen and waited until the three men were standing there with puzzled expressions, "and off you go!"

Daniel was still staring at him when his eyes had finally adjusted from the bright light. "How did you know how to do that?"

He shrugged and held up the jewel thingy from the console. "I just used the same trick I always use on Thor's ship to beam stuff up and away."

"Please tell me you sent them to Prometheus…"

"I did," he grinned. Then he focused on the console again and tried to recall how to operate the shields, engines, hyperdrive and communications. "Daniel, why don't you make contact with Ronson and inform him of our plans, in case DeLuise hasn't done so yet. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the communications of this ship online."

"Perhaps you could use the long-range communications to contact Stargate Command as well as Supreme Commander Thor," Teal'c suggested.

Jack was nodding at the suggestion but wasn't having any luck so far. Carter had been the one to contact Thor directly from Loki's ship last time and this ship's console was slightly different from what he was used to from Asgard ships. He still hadn't found the communications or the hologram function but at least he got the shields and engines online. Daniel could be heard ending his little talk with Ronson and nodded towards him to indicate they were in agreement, so Jack started the engines the minute a hyperspace window appeared in front of Prometheus. "Hey Teal'c," he said as he directed the ship towards the window, "does this make us space pirates?"


Alien Ship, Hyperspace
Milky Way Galaxy
March 1, 2004

A good night's rest had done wonders for Jack and he couldn't help but wonder if that was because they were going home, taking the ship with them. There weren't any guarantees but he was pretty sure they could find the answers about what had been done to Carter and why in the ship's logs. Hopefully Daniel would be able to figure it out once he got his hands on his dictionaries and whatnot.

Right before jumping into hyperspace last night Ronson had contacted the SGC again to let them know they would be arriving at Area 51 later today, with an extra ship. They hadn't heard anything back yet but Jack figured that was because of the time delay of Prometheus' long-range communication. It was only when they had entered the hyperspace window that he had discovered how to use the communications and he'd been able to reach Ronson on it, but hadn't had any luck with the SGC or Thor. Traveling at hyperspeed require huge amounts of energy from the generators, which left nothing for the weapons and shields and perhaps the same went for communications. It was the only reason Jack could think of as to why he was only able to contact Ronson – they were traveling in the same hyperspace window – and not anyone outside of it. Or maybe he was doing it wrong, who knew?

Ronson's pilot had noticed another energy spike coming from their ship right before Jack had sent Major DeLuise and his team – who had all arrived safely aboard Prometheus – back, which had led to Teal'c speculating that the first spike they had registered was the ship's owner beaming out. Escaping. It certainly sounded like something Loki would do, knowing capture would mean another stern talking to and banishment from Thor and his fellow Asgard. Not that it seemed to have much of an effect, if that little gray bastard was behind all this.

It was only a few more hours until they would arrive on Earth but Jack was too alert and anxious to get any rest. He had sent Daniel and Teal'c to get some sleep last night while he'd remained on the bridge, just to make sure nothing would go awry. They had no idea about Asgard protocol for abandoned ships, after all. For all they knew it was possible that one of them would suddenly show up, beam themselves aboard, to get their ship back. Then again, everything seemed to indicate unsanctioned experiments – which once again made Jack wonder what their sanctioned human experiments entailed – so it was likely this ship had been stolen or at least would remain unreported. Either way, Jack preferred to keep watch and that way they wouldn't miss any communications either. After a while Teal'c had relieved him so he could get some sleep and then Daniel had taken over.

They had shared a late breakfast this morning and Daniel had made another attempt at an impromptu translation since there really didn't seem to be any buttons to change the logs and instructions to English – which made sense if this was some kind of rogue operation – while Jack and Teal'c had played around with the console and they had even gone on another tour of the ship. About an hour ago they had left Daniel on the bridge to keep an eye on things while they rested some more after their broken nights.

But sleep wouldn't come and Jack had to keep himself from pacing. Not just because he was at least resting this way but also because Teal'c had given him the Jaffa eye after a few minutes. Apparently it was disturbing his kelno'reem, even though they all knew he didn't need it anymore after losing his symbiote.

"O'Neill, you appear perturbed."

He shrugged noncommittally but Teal'c simply raised his eyebrow and pinned him with his dark eyes. "Well," Jack sighed eventually, "I was just hoping we'd find the answers Carter needs and that they will help her…"

"With deciding what course of action she will take next," Teal'c stated, but then he cocked his head slightly. "Or in accepting the child she carries within?"

"Whichever," he said casually, feeling anything but. "It's her decision to make."

"Indeed."

Jack's head snapped up at the Jaffa's tone and he paused, wondering what his friend was trying to say. Not that he wanted to talk about this, or anything. He wasn't the talkative kind, especially not when it came to feelings and in particular when it was about Carter. Or a combination of both. "What's that supposed to mean?"

The corners of Teal'c's mouth curled up in satisfaction as he rose from his seated position. "It was you who informed Daniel Jackson and myself about Major Carter's contemplations, O'Neill."

"Yeah…?"

"Yet both you and Daniel Jackson seem to be of the opinion that you know best for Major Carter."

Frowning, he held his tongue and thought about that statement. It was absolutely clear to him that he had no say in what Carter did about the pregnancy and neither did anyone else, but he couldn't deny that he had his own ideas about what she should do. Not that he would tell her; he had no claim on her or her baby and it meant a lot to him that she was letting him in, even allowed him to accompany her to her ultrasound, while she could have easily ignored him and their teammates and deal with it in private.

But the fact that she had let him get involved to a degree meant Jack was now also feeling involved. He had seen that tiny girl move on the monitor, heard her heartbeat and still had those two sonograms at his place – keeping them safe for Carter – and he'd felt Carter's rounded belly under the palm of his hand, knowing there was a little baby growing inside. Even after everything he had seen throughout the years he still thought pregnancy was something magical and kids – and dogs – were his favorite people.

At the same time he also believed in a woman's choice, considering the woman was the one who had to carry the baby for nine months and in Carter's case it was even more complicated because of the mysterious nature of conception and her unawareness of the pregnancy itself. Carter hadn't made a mistake with some idiot who was too stupid to recognize a good thing and bailed on her when she turned out to be pregnant… There really wasn't a situation Jack could compare it with but figured rape would be the closest thing. Rape victims understandably had a hard time coming to terms with a resulting pregnancy and he couldn't fault any of them for choosing an abortion but while Carter hadn't consented to anything, she hadn't been violently violated by some disgusting excuse of a man in the normal sense of the word either.

"O'Neill?"

He grimaced and scrubbed a hand over his face. "Just… thinking."

"You believe Major Carter should continue with the pregnancy," Teal'c said with a knowing eye.

"I don't know… but that baby is innocent."

"As is Major Carter."

Jack nodded in acknowledgment and started pacing around the room. "I'm afraid she'll regret it down the road if she'd get an abortion."

"Perhaps she fears she might regret it if she does not."

"Aw, come on. Carter would be a great mom," he protested, gesturing wildly. "She loves kids and she's great with Cassie and all those alien kids we've met as well."

Teal'c had moved across the room and was sitting in his usual meditative pose, as if he was hoping the different location would help him concentrate. "All those children were of advanced age," he said, with closed eyes. "It is possible Major Carter thinks she would be incapable of caring for an infant."

Now that Jack thought about it he had to admit she had never really seemed all that comfortable with babies. Not that they had encountered a lot of babies, but there had been a few over the past seven years. She seemed to do better with older kids, ones that could talk and were sort of independent rather than needing constant attention and care. "All parents-to-be think like that and it's completely normal. It would be strange if the thought hadn't crossed her mind once or twice, but she would do fine."

"Have you entertained the possibility that she is concerned the child might be taken from her, would she accept the pregnancy and birth the female, O'Neill?"

"What? What do you mean, like the NID or Trust because of those alien genes?"

Teal'c shook his head minutely and opened his eyes, raising a brow. "No, I do not believe that to be the case since General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser have agreed to keep the nature of the child's conception a secret. I was, however, referring to whoever organized this stratagem; what else could they have gained by impregnating Major Carter?"

Jack was suddenly worried, wondering why he hadn't thought of this yet and if it had been weighing heavily on his 2IC's mind. Perhaps those strange proteins or whatever Fraiser had been talking about could be used to track the child – and in extension, Carter! "You think they'd steal the baby?"

"It is a possibility, one we must consider."

"But why then let Carter go in the first place? If they already had her in that time dilation… bubble-thingy, why not keep her a few months longer until she'd deliver the baby and then send her on her way without ever knowing what had happened?"

"Perhaps Major Carter escaped and we have now thwarted another attempt at retrieving her by acquiring this vessel," Teal'c replied solemnly.

Well, it certainly wouldn't be the first time she had out-maneuvered the bad guys and thwarting evil plans was what SG-1 did on a daily basis, after all. Jack nodded slowly as he processed this and gently lowered himself on a crate of some sort. "But Carter would know we'd do everything we can to protect her and the baby, right?"

"We cannot always protect her, O'Neill. In the end it will be Major Carter and her alone that will be responsible for the child's welfare, something which might give her cause for trepidation."

"I know," he said softly. When he'd told Carter that he would support her in whatever decision she would make he had meant it, and he was more than willing to help her out with the baby if she decided to keep it, just like the guys, but at the end of the day she would be the one raising the girl all on her own. "It's just… I saw her, on the monitor, Teal'c." When the Jaffa simply nodded he continued, searching for words to explain why he was suddenly feeling so protective of the baby. "And Carter," he grinned, in spite of himself, "she's really starting to show now. When I dropped by her house to tell her our mission had been approved and we'd be leaving for Nevada in a few hours, she needed a ride and I took her to her doctor's appointment."

"Not at Stargate Command."

He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. "Nah, at Doctor Rosenberg's practice. Hammond had approved the ultrasound being performed off-base since it was non-invasive and the baby is basically human anyway."

Teal'c looked at him sharply and nodded, either in acknowledgment or sympathy. "You have grown attached to the unborn infant residing in Major Carter's womb."

"Um, yeah, something like that, I guess," he shrugged. "She, Carter I mean, invited me in and I saw that little girl moving on the screen. I could tell Carter was conflicted about the whole thing but I could have sworn she smiled slightly when the baby was kicking its little legs in reaction to the pressure of the Doc's wand… won't be long now until she will be able to feel it, too."

"Perhaps Major Carter is seeking to prevent such awareness of the fetus."

Jack looked at him questioningly, wondering what the Jaffa had noticed about his 2IC that he hadn't seen. "You think she's gonna get an abortion – and soon too?"

"I am uncertain as to what decisions she might have made. However, I do believe she is concerned about her ability to raise a child. Alone."

"I think she's gonna regret it, especially if she still hasn't gotten a life in a few years and is unable to have another baby… I mean," he cast a glance at Teal'c, "I don't know what it's like for Jaffa women but on Earth a woman like Carter would only have a few years of fertility left if she's lucky. Carter's too caring not to be a great mom." Jack sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and letting his hands dangle in between his legs. "Being a single mom probably isn't what she had imagined but the same probably goes for thousands of women and they all manage. Doc Fraiser did an excellent job with Cassie. I know kids are expensive but-"

Teal'c shifted on the floor and folded his legs once more. "I do not believe Major Carter foresees pecuniary difficulties. Do Tau'ri infants not require a vast amount of nurturing and care?"

"You think it's about her career?" Jack asked, even though he already knew the answers. Hell, he was more than aware of her dedication to her career! "She could always come back after her maternity leave, I'm sure Hammond will agree that SG-1 is the best spot for her."

"The child would instantly be orphaned if something were to happen to Major Carter on a mission. I do not believe she would wish her own daughter to lose her mother at a young age, after her own tragic loss as a teenager."

"She could work in the labs, I guess," he replied pensively. If he were honest, he hadn't given it much thought; he hadn't dared to think further than a few weeks at the most, but knowing Carter she had thought of it. "We can work something out."

The Jaffa let out something that sounded suspiciously like a sigh before closing his eyes, signaling the conversation was coming to an end. "Have you considered that Major Carter might not wish to rear the child on her own, O'Neill? Her own childhood has been troubled and her relationships with both her father and brother have been strained for a large part of her life; perhaps it is time for a meaningful relationship with someone who cares greatly for her and already feels responsible for her unborn daughter."


Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO

Jack rang the bell for a second time, wondering what the hell Carter was doing that prevented her from answering her phone and the door. He was still confused about the conversation he'd had with Teal'c aboard the ship, less than an hour before they had reached Earth and then when he'd finally come back to the SGC, Fraiser had told him Carter had left yesterday after telling her she was going to get an abortion! He couldn't believe she had snuck off like that!

Hopefully he wasn't too late and could convince her to change her mind – or at least postpone – now that they had brought the alien ship back. Daniel hadn't needed any encouragement and had immediately gone to his lab to get his books and whatnot to get started on the translations. Nyan, that Bedrosian refugee that had become his research assistant, had already been called in to assist and even Teal'c had offered his services. Jack himself wasn't very good at Asgard or whatever runic language Daniel claimed it was.

While they had been gone Thor had contacted the SGC to let them know that the Asgard High Council was unaware of any activity in the region of space where they'd found the nebula and had assured Hammond that Loki was still in their custody and could not possibly be involved in anything since they had captured him after the cloning incident. Still, Jack's gut was telling him the ship and technology had to be Asgard. Ronson's message about them taking the unknown ship back had arrived only a few hours earlier and from what Walter had told him, he figured no one had told Carter at the time.

Suddenly the door swung open and Carter was looking at him, wide-eyed. "Sir! What are you doing here?"

"Just got back," he mumbled, his eyes going over her frame. Unfortunately the bulky robe she was wearing didn't give anything away; he'd hoped to be able to tell whether she'd had an abortion. "We, um, brought you something."

She licked her lips and blinked at him. "Really, what?"

Rather than her usual enthusiastic response she sounded somewhat suspicious and not very interested. Then again, she looked like she'd just rolled out of bed or maybe gotten out of the shower in a rush, despite it being early in the afternoon, so maybe she was simply tired. "We found the nebula-"

"You did?!" Her eyes grew even wider and she looked genuinely shocked.

"Um yeah, took a bit of searching but those sensors picked something up and we located it. Wasn't a regular nebula, though."

"It wasn't? "

Okay, now he was getting a bit tired of her parroting. "No, it wasn't," he said, rolling his eyes. "We found a ship hovering nearby. Tried to cloak but your upgraded sensors picked up on it anyway and then we engaged in a firefight… we won, they lost. They got away."

Carter frowned and her shoulders sagged a bit. "Oh."

"We got the ship, though."

"What?"

Jack smirked and nodded in affirmation. "Yep! We boarded it but we think they beamed out right before, something about an energy spike or something. Well, and the fact that there was no one aboard the ship."

"Beamed out? You mean like-"

"Asgard tech, yeah," he grimaced. "Thor had contacted Hammond last night and told him they knew nothing about the nebula or what had, um, been done to you. But the ship definitely looked Asgard. A bit small but lots of fancy tech and those little jewel thingies on the console. Unfortunately we couldn't find a translation button so Daniel's trying to figure out what alphabet to use to decipher everything."

"I… I don't know what to say," Carter murmured, a small frown on her forehead.

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 1, 2004

Jack was drumming his fingers on the armrest of the chair he was sitting in while waiting for Carter. He had more or less invited himself in to explain what had happened when they went looking for the nebula and when she had simply kept frowning at him he'd pushed her in the general direction of her bedroom and told her to get dressed. That had been almost ten minutes ago. Unable to sit still any longer he got up and perused the family pictures on the walls, smirking at the one of Carter and her brother as babies. Carter definitely took after her mom he decided after spotting the picture of a teenage Carter, Mark, Jacob and an attractive blonde woman. He couldn't say that came as a surprise since he had never seen much of a resemblance between her and her dad, although she definitely had his stubbornness.

It didn't take him long to circle the living room and check out the pictures in the hallway as well. Suddenly Jack found himself back in the open kitchen and for the first time he noticed the pint of ice cream and wine glass sitting on the counter. So, Carter had most likely been taking a bath, he decided. Not that he would have pictured her as the type of woman who enjoyed relaxing in the tub but considering her appearance and the half-eaten pint of ice cream, Jack thought it was more likely she had been bathing than sleeping.

The ice cream was partly melted so he put the lid back on and set it back in the freezer and then hesitantly reached for the wine glass. It had a clear lip print on the rim and was empty except for a tiny drop of red… what, wine? He knew Carter drank wine on occasion, both white and red, but after learning of her pregnancy she had abstained from alcohol and coffee for the baby's health.

Trying to make sure Carter hadn't soundlessly entered the hallway Jack cast a glance over his shoulder before lifting the glass to his nose. He sniffed, trying to determine what had been in it and he could smell the sweet scent of grapes… grape juice! Oh God, it was juice, not wine. He let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and set the glass back on the counter. Turning around he opened the fridge just to double-check and was pleased to see there was indeed some kind of fruit juice with grapes on its label inside. Of course, that didn't mean she hadn't had the abortion yet; she could have simply wanted fruit juice rather than wine, which was understandable considering it was only a few hours after noon. But it wasn't like he could come right out and ask her.

Could he?

Heck, he didn't even know whether Doc Fraiser was allowed to tell him about Carter's abortion. Didn't that sort of thing fall under doctor-patient confidentiality? Or had she told the Doc as a friend and was that why Fraiser thought she could share it with him? More than likely the petite woman had wanted to prepare him for the very real possibility that Carter wasn't pregnant anymore…

"Um, sure, help yourself, Sir," a slightly surprised voice sounded from behind the opened fridge door.

Jack partially closed the door and found himself looking into the nonplussed face of his 2IC. "Carter! Oh, um, I was just, er… checking to see if you needed any groceries," he was quick to say.

"It's fine, Sir. I should have offered you something to dri-"

"No, really," he said. "What with the snow and all… thought I could help you out. You know my truck handles the snow much better than your little Volvo."

She nodded and surveyed the kitchen before taking the glass from the counter and moving around him to put it in the dishwasher. "I don't need anything, Sir."

Closing the fridge Jack leaned against it and took a good look at her as she continued to load some dirty dishes from the sink into the dishwasher. She was wearing dark stretchy jeans that emphasized her long legs and a red turtleneck. The woolen sweater made her look slightly fuller figured but she had always been athletically built so it didn't make much of a difference, nor could he tell whether the slight bump he'd seen and felt a few days ago was really underneath it. The stretchy jeans could be a way to accommodate her fuller waist but for all he knew Carter just liked them. He didn't really see much of her in civvies anyway, meaning this could be a normal look for her. Besides, would her abdomen be instantly flat again so soon after an abortion?

Jack had no idea and quickly averted his eyes from her abdomen when she turned back to him with a questioning look on her face. And, oh God, was it just him or did her breasts look much fuller than usual? It was probably just the sweater and the fact that she wasn't wearing a BDU jacket to cover her torso he told himself as he turned back to the living room. Clearing his throat awkwardly he made his way over to the sofa and heard her follow a minute later, before sitting down on the chair next to him.

"So, um, I should probably start at the beginning. When we reached the coordinates the nebula was nowhere to be found. We contacted Hammond while testing Prometheus' new sensors and…" Jack continued, summarizing their entire mission up until the moment they had managed to land the newly acquired spaceship in an empty docking bay originally intended for Prometheus' future sister at Area 51. "And Teal'c agreed with me that we could now consider ourselves space pirates. Successful ones too, considering we still have the ship unlike all those Goa'uld motherships we've lost… I think Daniel is still upset and shocked that we took it but hey, we won it fair and square! And how is pirating this ship any different from taking Goa'uld ships I ask you. I mean, whoever is behind all this is just as much an enemy of us as the Goa'uld. Even if it could be an Asgard, right? Carter?"

She blinked at him, obviously still playing catch-up. "Sorry, Sir. I'm still trying to process… you brought me a ship? An Asgard ship?"

He shrugged dismissively but couldn't keep his pleased grin from showing on his face. "Well, I heard all the cool kids have 'em."

"But Sir, don't you think it sends a bad message to the Asgard? I mean, they're still our allies and-"

"No ally would do such a thing! Besides, they abandoned ship and it was kinda old looking. Not in a bad way but, you know, like it's an early version of the ships Thor's had. Like Prometheus is now our first battle cruiser, while the Enterprise will be so sleek, large and advanced that it makes this one look old-fashioned and out of date."

"Enterprise, Sir?" Carter questioned in a slightly amused tone.

Jack nodded enthusiastically and made a vague hand gesture. "Yeah, our future battle cruiser. You know, once we run out of Greek tragedies and have more advanced technology."

"I see."

"Anyway, it would have been a crime to leave such a cool and abandoned doohickey all alone in the middle of nowhere," he concluded. "Not to mention how bad it would be for us and the Asgard if a Goa'uld or Replicator would come across it. I mean, sure the weapons have been disabled but the damage probably isn't beyond repair."

She grinned softly at that. "So, you're saying that you actually did the Asgard a favor by taking their ship? For safekeeping, Sir?"

"Exactly! This way the Asgard don't have to worry about their precious technology falling into the hands of one of their enemies and we don't have to worry… much, about one of them attacking us if we can get this ship's weapons up and running again. That way the entire galaxy is kept safe."

"Just until Daniel has translated the data we need, right, Sir?"

Jack grimaced in disgust. "You want me to give it back? No way," he shook his head. "Look at it as a, er…" he almost said 'a baby present' but quickly coughed to cover it, "compensation. We could call it the Carter."

"Sir, that's a terrible name."

"Well, at least it's not a Greek tragedy," he replied. "We can work on the name, I guess…"

Carter shook her head with a gentle smile on her face, clearly indulging him and a comfortable silence descended upon them. Jack was wondering how he could broach the subject of her pregnancy without letting it slip that he knew about the abortion or upsetting her. In the end, though, she was the one who broke the silence. "So, Daniel is looking into it?"

"Yep, he immediately went looking for his books and research assistants when we arrived at the SGC. I think Teal'c followed him in case he could help, too. I figured I'd be of more help by checking up on you and telling you about the ship," Jack elaborated.

"Thanks, I appreciate it, Sir."

He nodded in acknowledgment, not having expected anything else from her. "Hammond said I could ask you if you wanted to help. I know he gave you a few days off but I really think you'll like working on the ship. You know, taking it apart and getting the data to Daniel to translate because I have to tell you Major DeLuise wasn't all that confident about being able to do it… He didn't even know where the data was stored or how to extract it, for crying out loud!"

"Um, I don't know… I mean, it's a great opportunity but I don't know of how much help I can be. I haven't been able to focus much on work lately, Sir," Carter said shyly.

Jack waved her argument away. "Nonsense… Unless of course you're not, you know, feeling up to it with the…" he wordlessly gestured at her abdomen. He was concerned but not trying to show it, silently wondering what this could possibly mean.

"What, Sir? The pregnancy?"

He broke under her suspicious stare and groaned, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Sorry… It's just that Fraiser told me what you said to her yesterday before you left. I'm sure she was only concerned about me saying something insensitive to you and not trying to betray your confidence, or anything," he hastened to say.

Carter sagged in her seat and sighed. "So you know about the abortion?" When he just shrugged, she squirmed and looked down at her lap. "I called Doctor Rosenberg to arrange it…"

"How did it go?" He asked cautiously.

"It didn't," she said.

His heart almost skipped a beat and he looked at her, trying to catch her gaze. "You mean…?"

Carter shrugged and briefly glanced at him. "Yesterday was a Sunday, Sir. I only called her this morning and Rosenberg asked me whether I was sure. I, er, I-I told her I was," she averted her gaze again and blushed, "and she said she would schedule it at the end of the week, so I would have a few more days to think it over. But I don't need them, I know what I want," Carter quickly added, although she didn't sound very confident. Almost as if she was trying to convince not him, but herself.

"So, the end of the week, eh?" He said with a heavy heart, thinking about the baby's sonograms at his place.

"She said she normally didn't schedule them for at least a full week but since she was aware of the circumstances and knows how far along I already am… I'm expecting a call from her in the next few days as she tries to work out the details with Janet and General Hammond, since he insisted it had to be done in the infirmary because of the baby's abnormal genome."

"I see," Jack murmured, rubbing his eyes. "Well, I was planning on going back to the SGC and see what I can do to help. Wanna come with? That way you can tell Hammond yourself about whether you feel up to going to Area 51 to help out with the data retrieval and general examination of the alien spacecraft." Not to mention that he had to tell Daniel he had until the end of the week to come up with answers!


Level 18, SGC
Colorado Springs, CO
March 2, 2004

The moment the elevator doors opened, Jack stepped out of the car and headed for Daniel's office. He had just come from the level below for the data burst Carter's team at Area 51 had sent, which was only accessible on the computers of the research labs for some reason. Something to do with secure networks and the data storage capabilities of the supercomputer with alien technology incorporated down there. He had decided against asking an explanation when Carter had called to notify him of the newly extracted data and some footage she had made of the ship.

There was no time to waste, after all. Her appointment was for the end of the week and he had made sure Daniel understood that meant he needed results ASAP, before Carter would go ahead with the abortion. It may not influence her decision at all but at least she wouldn't regret rushing into it without all the facts later on, he figured.

Jack turned the last corner and looked down at the flash drives he was holding; one was data for Daniel to decipher and the other contained the footage Carter had shot, which Teal'c had apparently requested in the hopes of identifying the ship. The two little doohickeys looked completely normal on the outside but he knew they contained reverse-engineered parts on the inside, like most of the data storage devices that were used on the lower levels of the SGC and over at Area 51. Something to do with encryption software and the enormous amounts of data they often used here.

When he reached Daniel's lab he stopped in the doorway, looking on approvingly as both Daniel and Nyan were busy making notes in between casting glances at their respective monitors and books. Teal'c was nowhere to be found but he had no doubt the Jaffa would stop by soon enough. "So," Jack said, clearing his throat loudly, "how's it going? Any progress?"

"Jack," Daniel said irritably without looking up. "We're going as fast as we can but it's not that simple. You see-"

"Ack! I don't want to see why," he interrupted. "Just dropped by to give you this." He entered the room and placed the data flash drive on a thick and complicated-looking opened book. "Carter called; she arrived safely at Area 51 last night and got an early start this morning. This thingy contains a new extract of data for you to decipher."

That got the attention of both geeks and they almost raised their heads simultaneously.

"Thanks, Jack."

"What's on the other flash drive, Colonel O'Neill?" Nyan asked, looking at him curiously.

He tossed it from one hand to the other and sighed. "Oh, just some footage Carter took from the ship. Teal'c apparently asked for it. He should be here any minute now."

"Indeed," sounded the Jaffa's deep baritone from the door opening. "You requested my presence, O'Neill?"

Jack turned to him and held up the flash drive. "Footage of the ship." He remembered Teal'c mentioning how familiar the ship looked but figured it had been down to the fact that it was most likely Asgard. "Well, I'll let you guys get to it. Hammond needed me for some paperwork for the mission and our new doohickey." With that Jack turned around and told himself he'd be back within a few hours for a progress report and maybe bring them something to eat so they could continue working. Right now he had stuff to do; he still couldn't believe Hammond actually had paperwork for a stolen ship.


Daniel's Lab, Level 18
SGC, Colorado Springs, CO
March 3, 2004

Jack slowed to a stop when he reached the open door of Daniel's lab and looked inside wondering at the noise he was hearing. "What'cha doing?"

"I'm looking for some reference material for Teal'c," Daniel replied as he rummaged through a bookcase, not even bothering to greet him. That wasn't entirely surprising considering he dropped by at least once every two hours.

"Oh, found something, T?" Jack asked as he strolled into the room and set down the two coffees for the scientists and turned to place a pack of OJ on the other desk.

Teal'c nodded his thanks but still kept a wary eye – and a highly raised eyebrow – on Daniel. "Indeed."

Surprised, in spite of his question, he almost did a double take. "Really? From the footage Carter sent for you?"

"As I was informing Daniel Jackson and Nyan of Bedrosia prior to your arrival I have identified the vessel, O'Neill."

"I didn't really expect you to find anything," Jack admitted as he grabbed some papers off a chair and relocated them before taking a seat in said chair. "I mean, I got you the footage over twenty-four hours ago." The Jaffa had certainly taken his time unless Carter had been very thorough in filming every inch of the ship and T had dutifully watched everything before arriving to a conclusion.

Teal'c inclined his head and reached for his drink. "The knowledge was long forgotten and I required a certain amount of kelno'reem before recollecting the memory," he explained. "I remembered having seen it once before, many decades ago. I was still a chal'tii in bashaak training under Master Bra'tac, not much older than Rya'c is now."

"Yeah, yeah," Jack said impatiently, gesturing with his hand for him to get to the point. They didn't have all day.

"Master Bra'tac and other Jaffa masters had taken their pupils to a lush planet for training," the Jaffa continued with a disapproving look thrown in his direction. "We were honing our tracking skills when suddenly an unknown space vessel, slightly larger than a ha'tak appeared in the sky and initiated a landing. A horn sounded, indicating all Jaffa were to retreat to the chaapa'ai and it was evident the Jaffa masters were distraught and panicked. They were talking among themselves, wondering what they had done to incur the wrath of the Reenlokia. Master Bra'tac had not yet shared his view of the Goa'uld with me and was hesitant to explain what was occurring. In the end he assured me we need not fear the Reenlokia when they appeared in their Sessrúmnir-"

"That word," Daniel interrupted. "It sounds familiar. It's from Norse mythology and means something like seat-room or seat-roomer, if I recall correctly…"

Jack raised his brows and gestured between the two men. "Ah! So that definitely means it's Asgard, right? Reenlokia, Norse mythology… what more proof do you need?"

"Found it," the archeologist exclaimed, turning around to face them. Collecting the books he had selected he started stacking them. "Here," he said, lifting the stack and taking the two steps to Teal'c's desk. "Read."

"Um, Daniel?"

"What? I can't look into the mythology and translate all this! It's difficult enough as it is."

Nyan nodded in agreement and reached over his desk. "Oh, speaking of difficulty… Could you send this back to Major Carter, Colonel O'Neill?"

Taking the flash drive the alien handed him he frowned. "Why?"

"It's technical stuff, like a manual or something," Daniel replied instead. "More Sam's expertise. We can't make heads or tails of it."

"Fine, I'll send it to her."

"Janet said she'd come over in, um…" Daniel looked at his watch, "about twenty minutes to help us out. There's some medical stuff here as well and we could use her expertise."

Jack grimaced at the implications, wondering what kind of unsanctioned experiments this particular Asgard had been doing and whether they would like the answers by the time Carter and Doc Fraiser deciphered the scientific setups. "So, definitely science experiments, eh?"

"We think so," Nyan said. "There is so much data and we don't even have half of it yet; the number of experiments they've performed must be in the thousands."


1943 hours
Briefing Room, Level 27
SGC, Colorado Springs, CO

Jack was scowling at Daniel, the tray with coffee in his hand already forgotten. "You can't just give up, Daniel!"

"I'm not saying I'm giving up-"

"We still have two days," he argued.

Daniel sighed and cast a longing glance at the coffees just out of his reach. "Look Jack, I'm doing the best I can-"

"Then that's not good enough," he replied stubbornly. "You're gonna have to step it up if you want to get Carter the answers she needs."

Hammond loudly cleared his throat and waited until everyone was looking at him. "Doctor Jackson, what were you saying?"

"I'm saying that Nyan and I have done the best we can with what we got. Now, if we would be allowed to have direct access to the data we might be able to find out more. But right now all we have are snippets of texts and we're having a hard enough time to translate everything – even with Doctor Fraiser's help – that we don't need the added trouble of having to piece everything together. I spoke to Sam on the phone about an hour ago and she assured me that they're sending us the data in the order that they've extracted it but she couldn't be sure if that was chronologically ordered or if there was some kind of system to it," Daniel explained hurriedly.

"Direct access?"

He nodded eagerly and pointed at the thick folder in front of him. "Yes, General, if we could do the translating on site we might be able to make connections we can't see right now."

Sighing, Hammond looked around the table. "What do you think, Colonel O'Neill?"

"If that's the way we're finally gonna get some answers then I'm all for it, Sir," Jack replied truthfully.

"Okay, Doctor Jackson, I will authorize a transport for you and Nyan to Area 51 and get you clearance to work on-site," the General said.

"I will remain here to continue my research into Norse mythology," Teal'c said.

Jack nodded his approval and turned to his CO. "I know Fraiser is needed here but I'm sure one of the geeks at Area 51 or Carter herself can help out Daniel and Nyan with the medical stuff, Sir. If you don't mind, I would like to accompany them since there isn't much I can do here anyway."

"Very well, I suggest you gather all the research material you will need while I make arrangements," General Hammond concluded. "Dismissed."


Docking Bay
Area 51, Nevada
March 4, 2004

Sam smiled at her commanding officer as he regaled her with stories about what he and the guys had been up to the past few days while she had been here in Nevada. He had just finished telling her about the horror of paperwork one had to deal with when acquiring a ship and had been complaining about how unfair it was because real space pirates never had to deal with paperwork. "Can you imagine the mountain of paperwork if the Asgard demand their ship back, Sir?" She asked teasingly after handing over the tray with lunch for Daniel to him as they reached the coatrack.

"That alone is why I'm going to refuse them their request," Colonel O'Neill said. "No man is supposed to deal with such an amount of paperwork for a stolen ship, Carter!"

She nodded obligingly as she shrugged off her BDU jacket. After their arrival she had ushered Daniel and Nyan away in a makeshift office with large tables for all their reference materials and with access to the entire database of the ship and then she had shown her CO around the docking bay, explaining him about various parts of the ship. The tour had taken longer than she had expected as she had gotten caught up in excitement until the Colonel had pointed out that it was lunchtime already so she had reluctantly exchanged her lab coat for her BDU jacket and shown him to the commissary. They had only gotten a quick bite and decided to take two trays with food back for Daniel and Nyan so they wouldn't have to leave their research for long and could simply eat while translating.

Reaching for her lab coat again Sam flushed when she felt Colonel O'Neill's eyes on her. Or, more specifically, on her stomach. She knew it was protruding a bit more than when he'd last seen her and with the steady temperature in the docking bay she had opted for a black synthetic long-sleeve shirt under her lab coat. The shirt was more than formfitting now and clearly showed off her rounded abdomen but the coat and BDU jacket could still easily hide it. She could have sworn she felt herself get bigger by the day and the baby was getting more active as well – or perhaps she was getting more aware of the movements.

"We, um, should probably check on Daniel and Nyan," the Colonel said, averting his eyes when he realized his staring was making her uncomfortable. "It's been… whoa, it's been almost five hours since we left them. I can't believe they managed so long without coffee."

"There's a coffee maker in the corner of their room, I made sure of it," Sam replied with a small smile as she buttoned up her lab coat and hid the evidence of her pregnancy to the outside world.

"Ah," he nodded in understanding and handed her one of the trays back. "Ready to go check on their progress?"

"Yes Sir," she said, and moved to lead the way. "Have you heard anything from Teal'c?"

He shook his head as he came up beside her. "Nah, but I'm sure he's busy checking into the mythology stuff from Daniel's books. Who knows, maybe the big guy has to 'kelno'reem on it' for a few hours, again."

Sam chuckled softly at his sarcasm, already having heard him complain about Teal'c's methods of research. But at least it seemed to have paid off, even if it took a bit longer than they would have wanted. If this would lead the Jaffa to another discovery about the original owner of the ship then they could pass that on to Thor, if he ever responded to the Colonel's last message.

As they neared the tent she had dubbed Daniel's office they could hear the two occupants discussing something in raised voices. They sounded almost… excited! Sam exchanged hopeful looks with her CO before entering the room. "We brought you guys some lunch," she said.

At the same time Colonel O'Neill also spoke. "How's it going?"

"Maybe it's a number?" Nyan suggested, clearly oblivious to their entrance.

Daniel was frowning before his face cleared. "Well, I know that in the Vikings' runic inscriptions numbers have been written down, spelled out as whole words, but it's very rare. On even rarer occasion the first letter of the number-word was used to stand for a number-"

"Yes," the other nodded excitedly, "that's what I was referring to. See? If you look at these runes as numerals then it's like… like, um, like a code!"

"But for what?" Daniel questioned aloud, glancing down at the table again and browsing through a bunch of notes and papers. "I agree that it makes the most sense but it's very different from what we've seen before. See this?" He held up a paper and showed it to the alien. "We had already determined that it was in reference to Sam's name, her file so to speak and…"

Sam's eyes widened and she gasped in shock; they had found a file on her? Daniel rambled on and Nyan was bobbing his head in agreement but a look to her left told her the Colonel was just as surprised by this news as she was. Up until now she had still been wondering if they were even getting somewhere. Not necessarily in relation to the translation but about what had been done to her. Even after their arrival last night it had felt like they were grasping at straws and considering her abortion was scheduled for the early evening on Saturday – because of the skeleton crew at the SGC – she had more or less been resigned to never finding out what had happened to her in the nebula and who was behind it. "Daniel…?"

"No, no, I think I've seen it before," Nyan was saying.

Daniel's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he ran a quick hand through his hair. "Really? Where? Do you remember when you saw it; I mean here or back when we were at the SGC?"

"No, definitely here. I think it was on the computer though…"

Colonel O'Neill looked at her with a puzzled frown but didn't say anything, clearly thinking along the same lines as her; let them ignore us if it means they're getting somewhere. "Carter?"

"Oh," she handed him the tray she was still holding so he could set it on an empty spot in the table.

In the meantime Daniel and Nyan had moved to the console her team had removed from the ship, with the data intact, and placed against the far 'wall' of the room. Nyan was already expertly moving the stones around, seemingly browsing through the different pages of text when he suddenly stopped. "Aha! Do you see it?"

Daniel held up the notes they had been arguing about earlier and nodded vehemently. "Yes, yes, you were right. It's exactly the same. But do you see how out of place these numbers of yours look? I mean, everything else is in the same, um, style and format but that section there," he indicated a portion of the screen, "is different."

"I hadn't noticed that but you're correct… Maybe it's copied from something else, like a reference to an original document?"

"Can you, um, I don't know… click it or something?" Daniel suggested, waving his hand around. "Maybe that will take us- yes!"

Nyan laughed and made a fist pump. "I can't believe it was that easy! Looks like we figured it out! This is great-"

"No, no," Daniel said, looking shocked, "this is not good!"

"What do you mean?"

"Daniel?" Sam and the Colonel voiced simultaneously, but he still didn't acknowledge their presence.

"Look here, at the entry," he said to Nyan. "That's a different file from the one we found for Sam. See? The style and format… the phrasing is different too. Like it was made by someone else."

"Loki," the alien said, gesturing at some kind of footnote. "That's what it says here."

Daniel swallowed visibly before taking off his glasses to rub his eyes. "That's Jack's file. From when Loki abducted and cloned him, to see if his DNA was the answer to the Asgard's cloning problem-"

"Was it?"

He shook his head and Sam suddenly felt queasy. "No and the other Asgard were already aware of this and safeguarded his genetic code for his own protection…"

"Then what is it doing here? And why was there a reference to it in Major Carter's file?"

"Because Loki didn't just examine Jack's DNA; he also took samples. The DNA in his sperm wouldn't be safeguarded and using it to fertilize an ovum could possibly be another step forward on the evolutionary path," Daniel elaborated in a subdued tone. "Whoever is behind this used Jack's sperm to impregnate Sam."

"What?!"

Chapter Text

Docking Bay
Area 51, Nevada
March 4, 2004

"What?!"

They simultaneously cried out in shock and Jack immediately looked in Carter's direction, only to see her sway slightly and he barely caught her in time when she faltered. "Whoa! Let's stay upright, Carter," he said, tightening his arms around her to bring her back on her two feet. Her body, however, went limp in his hold and her head lolled to the side, resting against his shoulder. Panic gripped his heart and his concern for her and the baby's wellbeing skyrocketed, pushing his shock over Daniel's discovery to the background. "Carter?"

"… Sir?" She mumbled softly and he could feel the change in her body.

Jack looked around and spotted the chairs the scientists had just vacated. "This is no time for a nap, Major," he teased in a soft tone. He hauled her up a bit higher in his arms and he could feel her struggling as she tried to stand on her own, but he more or less dragged her over to the chair. A loud bang was heard when he stumbled into the table and a heavy book was knocked to the floor, quickly followed by flying papers and another bruising encounter between his shin and the chair, but at least he managed to settle her into it. "Just take a seat, Carter," Jack said encouragingly when she continued to sway in the chair. She looked a bit dazed so he kept one arm over her shoulders and the other around her waist to keep her in place.

"Jack!" Daniel exclaimed in surprise. "Sam!"

He cast a glance in the direction of the two archeologists and wasn't surprised that they had only noticed them now after they had turned around to, no doubt, see what all the racket was about and finding their precious books and papers were strewn on the floor. "Daniel," he started, but the younger man was faster.

"Oh, you guys are here, already. We found something but, um, you're probably not going…" His voice trailed off as he took in Carter's situation. "What's going on with Sam? Is she okay?"

"Yeah, we came in a few minutes ago and witnessed your discovery," Jack grimaced, gesturing at the database. "Carter, um… fainted, I think."

Daniel's eyes widened behind his glasses and he quickly came over, careful not to step on anything important on the floor. "Sam?"

"I'm fine," she murmured softly. One hand came up to her face to rub her forehead and then she screwed up her eyes, groaning softly. "Really, Sir."

He coughed self-consciously when she looked up at him and then pointedly down at his arms around her. Letting go of his 2IC and standing up straight, Jack looked around the room. "You should probably eat or drink something. Maybe it's low blood sugar, you only nibbled at a bland sandwich and sipped from some water in the commissary," he muttered. His eyes quickly spotted the OJ on the tray with lunch they'd brought for Nyan, having learned in the past couple of days that it was one of the few drinks the Bedrosian liked because it ostensibly reminded him of home – where they didn't have sodas. "Nyan, could you bring me that orange juice?"

"Just lean down, Sam," Daniel said, pushing her head between her knees with a helpless shrug at Jack. "Are you feeling better?"

"I'm fine," she repeated, straightening up and shrugging off Daniel's hand.

Nyan joined them and held out the OJ. "Here, Major Carter."

"Ack!" Jack said, holding up his hands to forestall her protests when she rolled her eyes. "Drink it. No arguments, Carter; you don't normally faint and you haven't had any dizzy spells up until now, either."

"If I'd known you guys were, um, here, I, er, would have…" Daniel said apologetically, and gestured vaguely. "It must have been a, er, shock."

Jack exchanged silent glances with Carter and just nodded slowly in response. She was looking far too pale and while, yes, it had been a huge shock to him he really wanted to make sure she was okay first before allowing himself to deal with these new findings. "You two," he looked at the two men, "finish translating those files on Carter and me; I want to know everything they did to Carter and whatever details you could find about Loki's notes from when he made a mini-me."

"Where are you going?" Daniel questioned with a frown, looking between him and Carter as if to say she shouldn't be left alone right now.

"I'm gonna get these geeks to beam the two of us," he gestured between him and his 2IC, "back to the SGC so Fraiser can check her out."

"Sir, that's really not necessary," Carter protested.

Jack ignored her and left the room, looking for whoever was in charge of her geek squad. The guy protested at first, saying they weren't supposed to use the beaming technology and that he could arrange for a transport back to Colorado but after mentioning that Carter had a, er, underlying medical condition and was under medical supervision by the SGC's CMO the problem was resolved, fortunately. It saved Jack from having to pull rank and arguing with Area 51's base commander. Their 'leader's' health was apparently a great motivator for Carter's geek squad and Jack had no problem being creative with the truth if it meant he'd have his pregnant 2IC back under the Napoleonic power monger's care.

There was no time to waste in case there was something wrong with Carter or the baby, after all. Even if she claimed an abortion was what she wanted he knew her own health could still be endangered if she somehow lost the baby now – and that was something he really didn't want to deal with, or even consider, at this point. Especially not after what Daniel had blurted out only minutes before…

Quickly making his way back to Carter Jack tried to stay focused on the situation at hand and to keep from getting ahead of himself. First things first and then he could ask Doc Fraiser to do another DNA test to compare his to Baby Carter's. An intuitive leap made by Daniel based on some incomplete translations wasn't enough proof to establish paternity, he told himself. Never mind the fact that Loki had deemed him important enough to abduct and clone him last year or that whoever was behind Carter's pregnancy appeared to be in cahoots with the imprisoned Loki. Or had at least somehow managed to get their thumbless hands on Loki's research and the 'samples' he had taken!

"C'mon Carter, let's go. Daniel, I want you and Nyan to figure this out ASAP," Jack once again reminded them as he hauled his 2IC up by her arm.

"I'm fine, Sir," she said irritably, shaking off his hands. "I'll go with you but I'm walking on my own," she added reluctantly.

He rolled his eyes but let her go and watched her as she took a few hesitant steps. Everything seemed in order so he exchanged one last meaningful look with Daniel, telling him to keep his mouth shut and hurry up at the same time, and followed Carter out into the docking area. "Where's the beaming platform?"

"This way, Sir."

Jack walked cautiously behind her, one hand hovering near the small of her back. He knew he couldn't place his hand there but he still wasn't entirely convinced that she was fine, even though she seemed to have no problems staying upright or walking now. He kept an eye on her as she stepped onto the platform and then joined her. "To the gate room, Scotty," he ordered the airman at the console.

A bright white light enveloped them and before he knew it he was standing in the middle of the 'gate room, with Carter at his side. Black spots were still hindering his vision but not so much that he couldn't see the SFs pointing their weapons at him. Perhaps he should have called ahead to let Hammond know they were coming, he thought idly. "Oh, lower your weapons for crying out loud. We just dropped by from Area 51," Jack said loudly, trying to be heard over the alarm blaring through the compound, and waved them down. His eyes sought out Hammond's portly figure in the control room and he raised his brows. "Sir?"

The General looked annoyed and seemed to let out a deep sigh before turning the intercom on. "Stand down. Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, to what do we owe your unexpected arrival?"

"Carter here," Jack indicated her with a sweep of his hand, "wasn't feeling too hot and since our job at Area 51 was more or less done, I figured we'd come back so Fraiser can have a look at her, Sir."

"Very well, report to the infirmary and afterwards come see me in my office, Colonel," Hammond said.

Carter looked a bit annoyed at the implication he had to escort her to the infirmary but she went anyway, although clearly reluctant. Her face was actually kinda thunderous, Jack thought to himself and he wondered if it was because of his interference and insistence that she'd see the Doc or because of Daniel's revelation. If what Daniel had said was true then it would change… everything. No matter what would happen – what Carter would choose to do – their relationship would be affected and perhaps even irreparably damaged. Was that what was on her mind as well?

She hadn't really said anything about the discovery or its implications. Was she waiting for him to make the first step? Or maybe she too wanted it to be confirmed by the Doc first? As a scientist she would probably need more than Daniel's ramblings, she'd want tangible proof. Hell, he wanted actual proof! He couldn't let himself even think of the possibility of Carter's baby… No, not going there, not until he had it in writing!

"Hold it," Jack called out as they neared the elevator and the doors were about to close. He quickly ushered Carter in, nodding gratefully at Siler for keeping the doors open and kept an eye on his 2IC. She was still looking a bit pale but definitely seemed to avoid looking at him directly. That couldn't be good. The ride up to the infirmary was short but there was a thick kind of tension in the small car between him and Carter, and he was glad when the doors opened again and they went into the corridor. His hand shot out when her step faltered after rounding the corner but she quickly regained her balance and made her way into the infirmary.

"Colonel O'Neill, Sam, what are you doing here? I thought you were at Area 51, is something wrong?" Fraiser asked after making a beeline towards them the moment they stepped inside her domain.

"I'm fine, Janet," Carter said, briefly glaring at him. "I just lost my equilibrium for a moment and the Colonel is overreacting. My obstetrician warned me that my center of gravity is changing and that might need some readjusting. There's nothing wrong with me and in a few days I'll be back to normal."

Jack snorted and shook his head at the Doc. "You didn't lose your balance, Carter; you keeled over and passed out."

Fraiser's eyes widened and she gave her patient a quick onceover. "Did you injure yourself when you fell? Hit your head? Are you in pain or-"

"I caught her before she hit the floor," he said reassuringly, but challenging his 2IC to contradict him with his eyes. "She zonked out on me and I dragged her over to chair, made her sit. Daniel pushed her head down and I got her some orange juice, which she reluctantly drank."

"Was this preceded by anything else, Sam? Nausea, cramping, dizzy spell-"

Carter shook her head and lowered her voice. "No, I was just feeling a bit queasy as Daniel and Nyan relayed some of their translations from the file they found on me…"

"Okay," the Doc nodded, although she still looked concerned. "Let's get you into a private room for a quick exam. Lieutenant Rush!"

Jack watched as the nurse walked up to them and took his 2IC away after the doctor's instructions and reassurances that she would be there soon. He reached out a hand and grabbed Fraiser by the arm as she was about to leave, no doubt to check on the poor schmuck she'd been treating prior to their arrival. "Doc…"

"Colonel?"

He dragged her over to the wall and made sure no one was around to eavesdrop on their conversation. "You still have the baby's DNA on file, right?"

"Yes," she said slowly, clearly confused.

"I need you to run another test on it."

"Sir, I already explained that Doctor Sheffield is doing everything she possibly can to determine what the function of those alien proteins is. Her research was delayed because of some kind of electronic malfunction in the lab last week but she should have some results in a few days," Fraiser explained patiently. Then she sighed and frowned a bit. "Not that it'll matter much considering Sam's abortion."

Jack shook his head and subconsciously tightened his grip on her arm. "No, I need you to run a DNA comparison," he said. Seeing her confusion he took a deep breath and continued. "Against one of my samples."

"Sir?!" Her eyes were like saucers and she gaped at him.

"It's something Daniel and Nyan found in the ship's computer. There was a reference to Loki's file on me and Daniel thinks that Assgard collected a, erm… sperm sample from me and used it to impregnate Carter," he elaborated, with burning cheeks. Which was ridiculous because he hadn't done anything wrong! "Doc?"

She nodded slowly and cleared her throat awkwardly. "I see. I'll run it as soon as I can get out of here for a minute," she jerked her head in the direction of the crowded infirmary beds. "I'll let you know as soon as I have the results, Sir."

"All right, I'll go and inform Hammond."

"I'll make sure to notify him and you of Sam's exam, but I don't think it's anything to worry about. I mean, I take it she fainted right around the time of this new discovery?" Fraiser grimaced when he nodded and then she shrugged. "Can't say I blame her. Must have been one hell of a shock. Just don't go making any rash decisions, Colonel. Let's await the test results before you and Sam do or say something you'll later regret."

Jack wasn't sure what to make of that as the CMO turned around and left him standing there in the corner. What did she expect him to do, follow Carter's every move and argue with her about the baby? He was pretty sure she – and everyone else who was in the know of Carter's pregnancy – knew he was against the abortion but he hadn't voiced that opinion to Carter, thinking it was none of his business. If Daniel was right, though, that had just changed!

But bulldozing over Carter wasn't going to get him anywhere. If that was his baby she was carrying he needed a hell of a lot more arguments to make her see his way other than it having been his seed that was used to impregnate her. What he needed was a plan. A strategy, with a backup plan. Plan A never worked anyway. And, God, what he really needed was a drink. Shaking himself Jack turned on his heel and went back to the elevator and rode down level twenty-seven. He made his way to Hammond's office, all the while wondering why his hands were shaking.

A baby.

His baby.

Carter was carrying their baby; a little girl and he'd seen her kicking her little limbs on the ultrasound. He had heard his daughter's heartbeat. Unbeknownst to them at the time he had shared that moment with Carter, just the two of them and Doctor Rosenberg. He suddenly realized he had his baby girl's sonograms at home. To keep them safe for Carter, for when she was ready and had come to terms with the baby and pregnancy, one way or another.

Jack blinked and tried to stop his train of thought. There was no proof other than Daniel's guessing that the baby was his and here he was, getting carried away with it already. Hell, he had never even seriously considered having another kid. Not after Charlie and the hell he'd gone through after losing his son. The only thing he was hoping for the future was getting rid of all the Goa'uld, setting Teal'c's people free and maybe, just maybe being more than just friends with Carter. Sam. Although lately that chance had gotten slimmer and slimmer; he didn't even know if she still felt something for him and he had no idea if a relationship between them would even work. He loved her but sometimes love wasn't enough; he knew that from first-hand experience. Had learned it the hard way as his marriage crumbled after Charlie's death.

"Colonel!" Hammond's voice rang out and to his surprise Jack found himself standing in the briefing room, his legs having automatically brought him there. "Let's go into my office."

"Yes Sir," he murmured, following the man.

The General sat down in his chair and gestured for him to take a seat. "I take it you didn't just bring Major Carter here because she, and I quote, wasn't feeling too hot?"

Grimacing Jack nodded slowly, his mind still on the baby and what it – she – would mean for him. "She, um, fainted."

"Fainted," he reiterated, blinking. "Major Carter fainted? Is she all right?"

"The Doc seems to think so. I don't know if it was just a coincidence or if she hadn't eaten well and there's something wrong with her or the baby…"

Hammond nodded pensively, rubbing his chin as he leaned his elbows on the table. "I guess it's not uncommon for pregnant women to get a dizzy spell," he murmured.

"I just wanted to make sure she and the baby are fine," he said.

"I was under the impression Major Carter had an abortion planned two days from now," his CO said cautiously.

Jack scowled at the shiny desk and shrugged. "We'll see."

"You believe otherwise, son?"

Frustrated, he leaned back in his chair and scrubbed both hands over his face. "Sir, there's something you need to know…"

"Oh…?" Hammond said in a deceivingly calm tone, but they both knew it meant he was suspicious at best and more than likely wasn't sure he really wanted to know. Not if it meant certain lines had been crossed, rules had been broken or disciplinary action was in order.

"Daniel and that Bedrosian guy, Nyan, they discovered something in the ship's logs," Jack started hesitantly.

"Go on, Colonel."

"They're pretty sure they found some kind of file on Carter, which definitely proves whoever is behind Carter's condition was somehow involved with the ship. Meaning it's most likely an Asgard pulling the strings."

General Hammond nodded slowly, clearly waiting for the other shoe to drop since they had already more or less assumed this to be true. "What else, Jack?"

"There was some kind of, um, note or reference in her file…"

"Yes?"

Jack swallowed hard and looked up to his impatient CO. "It linked to another file… on me. Daniel thought it was from Loki's cloning experiment. Anyway," he said quickly when Hammond's face started turning slightly red, "he thinks that Loki extracted some, um, samples from me. Apparently those samples were used to," he took a deep breath to steel himself and just blurted it out, "impregnate Carter."

"Oh dear God," Hammond uttered, falling back in his chair. He held up a hand when Jack opened his mouth again and averted his gaze, staring in the direction of the door. Silently. A hand slowly came up to rub his eyes and then he rested his chin in his hand, his elbow leaning on the armrest. "Jack," he said slowly, "do you have any idea what this means?"

"Um, maybe a… er, an inkling," he said cautiously. "Sir."

"Please, please, tell me nothing untoward ever happened between you and your second-in-command, Colonel. Off the record," he was quick to add. When Jack remained quiet he sighed. "Can you assure me there is nothing going on between the two of you, or has in the past? I need to know if there's anything about this situation that can give the likes of Kinsey ammunition, Jack."

Dragging a hand through his hair Jack tried to think of a reasonable answer. He and Carter had never gotten romantically involved with the exception of that time they were Jona and Therra over three years ago and they had received mind stamps that made them forget who they really were. And fortunately they had never gone beyond some cuddling and a few tentative kisses; it had all seemed so new and exciting yet illicit at the time that he hadn't wanted to rush it. None of that could be used against them, he knew, but it also made it difficult to answer Hammond honestly. Then there was the fact that his feelings for Carter had only grown stronger since and he knew he didn't just care more than he was supposed to; he loved her and was in love with her. That definitely wasn't appropriate. Hammond knew about the zatarc confession, there was no doubt in Jack's mind about that, especially not after the way his CO had behaved towards him when that alien entity had taken over Carter's body…

"Jack?"

"We never crossed the line, Sir. Not… physically, at least," he admitted reluctantly. There was no denying that zatarc confession and he would only make it harder on himself if he tried. "Not while we were in our right minds."

Hammond had that pensive look in his eye again. "Some might say people who are in love – or lust – aren't always in their right mind…"

Jack heard the silent question in his statement and shook his head. "I'm talking off-world out of our minds, Sir."

"Well, at least there's that," he muttered.

"Look, Sir, you know our teams aren't like other combat teams, not with what we face out there," he started. "The relationships we form aren't covered in the rule books and according to regs we've probably all crossed the line between professional and friendship. Carter is a valuable member of my te-"

"Oh, cut the crap, Jack," Hammond interrupted him. "We both know your feelings for Major Carter are of a more romantic nature than, say, your feelings for Teal'c." He was silent for a moment, almost introspective. "Maybe I should have done something about it sooner but I always thought the way you four feel about each other is what makes SG-1 so successful. Why you work together so well, even though you shouldn't on paper. I know both you and Major Carter are good and honorable officers and I trusted you to not let your feelings undermine your working relationship after that confession of yours with the zatarc detector. Both of you proved me right not long after when you of all people was the one who shot Major Carter when the Entity had taken over her body and was threatening our planet's safety. I knew then that I wouldn't have to worry about either of you and your commitment to the service."

Jack nodded, trying not to outwardly show how Hammond's words were affecting him as he dredged up those painful memories again. "Sir, I swear to you there is nothing of a romantic nature going on between Major Carter and me, nor has there in the past been an affair. She did absolutely nothing wrong here and we don't even know for sure yet…"

"When is Doctor Jackson coming back to present his findings?"

"I left him and Nyan instructions to translate everything ASAP," he said with a shrug. "After dropping Carter off in the infirmary I asked Doctor Fraiser to run a DNA paternity test; she said she'd get right on it the moment she could get away."

"Jack," Hammond sighed, then shook his head. "Never mind, I don't want to know. We'll just await these test results and hope to keep it under wraps for a bit longer."

He looked up and held his CO's gaze. "Sir, if that baby is mine…"

The General grimaced and gave him an understanding look. "That's what I was afraid of. Have you spoken to Major Carter about this?" When he shook his head in response Hammond ran a hand over his bald head. "I imagine a positive test result means the abortion will, at the very least, be postponed."

"More like off the table," Jack muttered under his breath.

The phone rang, interrupting their conversation and General Hammond quickly picked it up. The conversation was brief and less than a minute later he hung up again. "That was Doctor Fraiser; there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with Major Carter or her baby and she has been released from the infirmary."

"Sir?"

He shook his head with a sad smile. "She went home, son. This can't be easy on her either; leave her be, give her the rest of the day to process this and then when we get the DNA results in the morning you can talk to her."

Chapter Text

Briefing Room, Level 27
SGC, Colorado Springs, CO
March 5, 2004

Jack was nervously waiting for the others to join them as he sat drumming his fingers on his thigh. Well, if was honest it was mostly Carter and Fraiser he was waiting for. Carter because he still had no idea where her mind was at since Daniel's discovery and he'd been more or less ordered by Hammond to leave her be after she left the base yesterday. Fraiser because of the DNA tests. What the hell was taking so long, anyway? He'd been waiting for a call ever since going home last night but nothing until he was called in for a briefing less than an hour ago. Still, he hadn't heard anything yet about the results, even though he figured it wouldn't take that long to compare DNA samples since they already used the baby's to compare it to Carter's DNA and his own was on file, wasn't it?

Then again, after the Alpha Site got hit by one of Anubis' Kull Warriors in the middle of the night most of the SG teams had been sent out for search and rescue and the infirmary was dealing with lots of wounded people. So, realistically he knew the Doc was probably too busy to sit in on this briefing. If it hadn't been for Carter's pregnancy they would have been out there searching too. Hell, Carter would have probably been present on the Alpha Site, working on a weapon against the Super Soldiers! Well, that didn't bear thinking about. Not after she had recently been marooned aboard Prometheus and he'd gone out of his mind worrying about her…

His eyes fell on Teal'c and Daniel who had just taken a seat across from him, both having a folder in front of them. That wasn't very strange for Daniel but it was for Teal'c. But the Jaffa certainly seemed proud of his recent research and Jack hoped that meant he had succeeded in getting information about the ship's original owner. Not that Daniel's fairy tales always proved to be correct but a lot of stuff from Norse mythology certainly seemed to match the Asgard.

Daniel himself had been called back to the SGC by General Hammond after he and Jack had finished their conversation. The General was obviously making sure everything was in order in case there would be fallout for the Program, Carter and Jack himself if it was revealed Carter was pregnant with his kid. There were plenty of enemies in DC and on foreign soil who wouldn't hesitate to twist this whole thing around in their favor; claiming he and Carter had an illicit affair which resulted in her pregnancy and to cover it up they invented a story about aliens being behind it. The ship's logs would discredit that theory but in spite of Daniel's reputation as one of the SGC's philology experts, his work could easily be discarded because he was another member of SG-1 and they were all good friends. Nyan, on the other hand, wasn't as strongly affiliated with either Carter or Jack and was next to Daniel the only one at the SGC capable of reading Asgard, simply because they hardly had any Asgard writing on Earth and the only ones with experience of Asgard writing, technology and spaceships were the off-world teams, SG-1 in particular.

That was also why Carter had been pulled from overseeing the work on the Asgard ship at Area 51, despite her being the foremost expert on Asgard technology. She was probably pissed about that, Jack mused, but he couldn't blame Hammond. He knew Daniel had been upset when he'd been beamed back to the SGC yesterday and had to leave Nyan behind, but from what Jack had heard the archeologist had quickly gotten absorbed with Teal'c's research. Then again, Carter probably had enough on her mind already and probably wouldn't be able to get any work done now, anyway. Not to mention that she had a standing appointment for an abortion tomorrow, he thought grimly. The Tok'ra who was supposed to work with her on that Kull Warrior weapon – probably Jacob and Selmak – would also arrive on Sunday or Monday, Hammond had told him. So, there wouldn't even be that much time left for her to work on the Asgard ship.

Footsteps were heard on the spiral staircase leading down to the control room and Jack sat up straight, trying to catch a glimpse of who was coming up. He didn't recognize the footfall but the blonde head that was suddenly visible was all too familiar to him. Carter. She was still wearing her BDU jacket buttoned up but Jack thought he could see the faint outline of her bump when she pulled on the jacket's hem after reaching the top of the stairs. Her face was closed off and while he wouldn't admit it it hurt that she had shut him out after Daniel's discovery. He knew it had to be a shock for her but it was just the same for him, too! She looked tired and drawn as she rounded the table, barely giving him a nod of acknowledgment before gracefully sitting down in her chair next to him.

Jack couldn't help but worry about whether she had gotten enough sleep last night. Probably not, if she was as affected by the news of paternity as he was. But hopefully she had at least rested her body enough despite her tired appearance. Glancing to his side he was a bit peeved she looked the other way but then his eyes fell onto her barely visibly swollen belly and he wondered if the baby had kept her awake. Could she feel the little girl's movements and kicks already or was Carter trying to ignore her too?

Suppressing a yawn his mind wandered back to the sonograms on his desk at home. He was pretty much convinced the baby was his because – let's face it – Daniel usually wasn't wrong about stuff like that, but Jack knew he still needed Fraiser's confirmation and was pretty sure Carter needed it too. Still, that hadn't stopped him from spending most of the night at his desk and researching everything there was about a father's rights online with the two sonograms next to him. It was the first time he'd ever drained his laptop's battery to the point he needed his charger to continue his work…

The door to the base commander's office opened and Hammond entered the briefing room. "Now that all of SG-1 is here, let's begin," he announced, taking his seat at the head of the table.

"Sir," Jack spoke up, "have we heard anything back yet from SG-2, -3, -11 and -21?"

The General shook his head. "They're still searching for survivors on the Alpha Site but so far all the injured people have been sent through the 'gate. I called down to the infirmary a few minutes ago for an update and so far everyone is still hanging in there. Doctor Fraiser would try to join us as soon as possible but she had her hands full at the moment."

"I wish to travel to the Alpha Site and offer my assistance later today," Teal'c said.

"I was hoping you'd say that, Teal'c," Hammond replied. "You have finished your research?"

The Jaffa inclined his head and glanced at Daniel. "Once Daniel Jackson returned to Stargate Command I shared my initial findings with him. Together we have come to the conclusion the Asgard ship belongs to the one known as Freyja."

"Freya?" Jack questioned, grimacing at the thought of that snakehead. "How did the Tok'ra get involved in all this? I can't believe Jacob would go along with this! Those good for nothi-"

"I spoke of Freyja of the Norse mythology, O'Neill."

"What's the difference?"

Daniel sighed and shot him an irritated look. "In Norse mythology Freyja is the sister of Freyr. You remember Freyr, don't you, Jack? You made some inappropriate references to his mother when the Asgard High Council refused to intervene when Anubis' asteroid was on a collision course with Earth."

He grunted, reminded of the little 'talk' he and Hammond had had about his diplomatic shortcomings afterwards. Normally the General didn't seem to mind it much since SG-1 had Daniel and the SGC had specific diplomatic teams but for some reason the Asgard often just wanted to talk to Jack and considering the powerful allies they made Hammond had requested he would put in a little more effort when dealing with the Asgard in the future. Obviously that hadn't helped him any, considering Loki had subsequently abducted and cloned him and now one of those little gray bastards had impregnated Carter against her will! "Well, obviously I was right about her if his sister is behind all this."

"What makes you think this Freyja is behind all this?" Carter asked, speaking up for the first time and looking at both their teammates. "I mean, do we even know whether there is a Freyja among the Asgard?"

"From the photographic film you recorded for me I recognized the Asgard vessel as one I had seen in my youth, Major Carter," Teal'c said. "I had only seen it once when I was not much older than Rya'c is today and Master Bra'tac confided in me it was a sessrúmnir of the Reenlokia. I believed it to be a smaller class of spaceship than the Biliskner or O'Neill class."

"I take it from your tone of voice that wasn't the case?" Hammond questioned with a curious gaze.

Daniel shook his head and tried to explain. "No, it's not. You see, Teal'c assumed it was just like a teltac, alkesh or even a ha'tak considering the Jaffa hardly knew anything about the Asgard other than that even the Goa'uld feared them. But according to Norse mythology the name of Freyja's hall is called Sessrúmnir and some say the name of a Norse God's hall also applies to their ship. We know from experience with the Asgard that this was the case for Thor whose hall was called Bilskirnir according to mythology and as we know his former mothership was named Biliskner."

"Perhaps that is just a coincidence, Doctor Jackson."

"Um, I don't think so, General. Freyja is the Norse goddess of love and fertility and war and death and patron goddess of birth."

Teal'c dipped his chin in acknowledgment when Daniel looked to him to continue. "She ruled a meadow where half of those who fell in battle go upon in death whereas the other half goes to the God Odin in Valhalla to prepare for Ragnarok. The field Freyja rules is called Fólkvangr."

"Field of the host, army-field," Daniel supplied, making vague hand gestures, "or people-field."

"You're saying that's what the whole fake nebula was about," Jack guessed with narrowed eyes. Those damn skinny-assed Asgard!

Carter paled even more if that was possible and her jaw was clenched in a sign of anger when she spoke again. "It was a trap all along! Stupid humans wanting to inspect a shiny colorful nebula and get trapped inside of it so… what, Freyja can experiment on them? Impregnate them, why?"

"Doctor Jackson, Teal'c?" Hammond prompted, looking expectantly at both men.

"I am unsure, General Hammond."

Daniel was rubbing his chin and glancing at the folder in front of him, browsing through some papers. "Well, at this point we can only guess, of course. But what we know of Norse mythology is that there were originally two different groups of Gods; the Vanir, a group of wild nature and fertility gods and goddesses and their sworn enemies the warrior gods of the Aesir, who were considered to be the bringers of health, youth, fertility, luck and wealth, and masters of magic. They had been at war for a long time and decided to make peace. To do this they exchanged hostages; the Vanir sent their most renowned gods, the wealthy Njord and his children Freyr and Freyja. The Aesir tried to trick them by sending Honir, a big handsome man who they claimed was suited to rule. He was accompanied by Mimir, the wisest man of the Aesir and in return the Vanir sent their wisest man Kvasir."

"Yeah, so, and… therefore?" Jack questioned, growing tired with the history lesson.

"Um, well, Honir wasn't as smart as they claimed as it was Mimir who gave him the advice. The Vanir grew suspicious and eventually figured it out and beheaded Mimir and sent his head back to the Aesir. Fortunately this didn't start another war and eventually all the gods of the Vanir were integrated with the Aesir in their homeland, called Asgard."

"The Norse deity Loki is regarded as one of the Aesir but is on occasion their enemy," Teal'c said. "The Goddess Freyja was a former Vanir. Perhaps she and Loki were at one stage collaborating to perform what the Asgard Ruling Council decided were unsanctioned experiments on humans, against the wishes of the Asgard High Council."

Jack scrubbed a hand over his face and shook his head. "I guess it's possible Freyja and Loki were in cahoots. It's not likely Loki could have performed all those experiments on his own and flown his ship, all the while staying under the radar of Thor and the others."

"Daniel, I thought you and Nyan said there were thousands of experiments in Freyja's logs?"

"Yeah but we managed to narrow them down until we found the file on you, Sam. And from there we found what we assume are Loki's notes on his findings on Jack. But it makes sense for Freyja to have been able to collect so much data over the centuries if no one suspected her. We know her brother, Freyr, is a highly influential member of the Asgard High Council so she could have used his position to gain insider information, so to speak."

"By using a dated and small yet formidable Asgard vessel she ensured her research would remain undetected," Teal'c said.

"Like a mobile lab," Carter muttered under her breath, just loud enough for Jack to hear.

Hammond slightly turned in their direction. "Major Carter?"

"Er, I think they're right, Sir," she said quickly, a blush creeping up her cheeks, "it makes sense; we've seen the lab Heimdall was using in the Adara System and it was much smaller than Freyja's ship. A mobile lab like hers with the ability to cloak is a much safer and secretive option to a planet-based lab, even if said planet falls under the Protected Treaty. In her case she probably wanted to keep the research to herself or likeminded Asgard like Loki until she had accomplished what she'd set out to do, which could be the same goal Loki had."

"To advance the Asgard's cloning technology," the General concluded.

"In Norse mythology Heimdall and Loki were age-old enemies, too," Daniel added, almost as an afterthought. "There isn't much known about Freyja's relationship with Loki although she seemed to look down on him, yet they have helped each other out once or twice when necessary."

Jack glanced down at his watch, silently wondering if the Doc was going to make an appearance any time soon. The research Teal'c and Daniel had done was very interesting, no doubt, but at this point it was all still a theory and he really was more interested in the DNA results than what some old fairytales were saying about the Roswell Gray. "Daniel, this is all fascinating but why would Freyja target Carter? It's not like she lured Prometheus there or that Carter was the only female aboard either vessel in that nebula."

"Perhaps it was an unlawful act of advantageous circumstances," Teal'c suggested.

"Um, I don't know. I mean, maybe Sam was the most promising candidate for her experiments? Or perhaps she tried the same thing with the other women aboard but their bodies rejected the embryos?"

"But why… you know?" Jack waved between him and Carter, trying to indicate the most likely parentage of her baby. "Us?"

Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the scowl on Carter's face before looking his way. "Was it not Loki who said you were legendary among the Asgard, O'Neill?"

"That's right," Daniel nodded in agreement. "Perhaps the same thing goes for Sam. She was the one who saved Thor's homeplanet with her stupid idea, after all."

"Perhaps we should wait for Doctor Fraiser's test results before speculating," Hammond said in response to Carter's groan. Just as he rose from his chair the telltale sound of heels running up the stairs were heard. "Doctor," he greeted when the petite woman came in view. "I was just about ready to call down to the infirmary. What's the status?"

Fraiser quickly went over to the empty chair on Carter's right and sat down. "My patients are all stabilized but Doctor Warner is still in surgery with someone. I don't know half these people from the Alpha Site, Sir. Last I heard from Major Green was that eighty-two people are still unaccounted for."

Jack sighed, still unable to believe the Alpha Site had been attacked and that SG-1 wasn't out there trying to find the survivors. But there were other SG teams doing search and rescue, even people from the Beta Site were helping out and treating injured people on their base. Normally he would have insisted on his team helping out but Carter was grounded because of her pregnancy, Daniel had been working day and night on the translations and Teal'c had already been given permission to help out later today. Right now the blast doors were lowered so they couldn't look through the window into the gate room and with the flurry of activity from people – medical and S&R teams – going back and forth between the Alpha Site and Earth that was probably best; all other 'gate activity had been rescheduled and the constant activating of the 'gate and klaxons would only be distracting and possibly distressing for the personnel present on base.

But he also knew this meeting was important as well because if word got out that Carter was pregnant with possibly his kid then those goons in DC opposing the current SGC administration or mandate would be the first to exploit it. Under other circumstances he might have asked his CO to reschedule the meeting but Jack needed answers as badly as Carter did and with her abortion scheduled for tomorrow there really was no time to waste in his opinion. Besides, it wasn't like the S&R couldn't be done without him; there were plenty of skilled SG teams, including one specialized in search and rescue missions. "What about Reilly?"

"The Alpha base commander?" Fraiser questioned, leaning on the table to look at him. "He's still unaccounted for as far as I'm aware, Colonel."

Hammond nodded gravely, no doubt distressed over the fact that he couldn't be out there either. "Well, let's just get this over with as quick as possible so you can go back to your patients, Doctor."

"Yes Sir," she said, opening a folder. "Doctor Sheffield has performed a DNA comparison between the baby and Colonel O'Neill and it's a match, Sirs."

Jack sucked in a deep breath, feeling like he'd been sucker punched in the stomach despite having expected it. Carter actually sounded like she'd stopped breathing and he wasn't even going to chance a glance in the General's direction. "You're sure?"

"Positive, Sir," the Doc replied. "Doctor Sheffield triple-checked."

"Yeah well, considering she said the baby had been fathered by an alien I'm not so inclined to believe her," Jack huffed.

"I checked the results myself, Colonel, and I'm in agreement with her."

Carter cleared her throat and seemed to sit up a bit straighter. "But then how do you explain that alien DNA you found, Janet?"

"Um, I might have an idea about that," Daniel said cautiously. When all eyes were on him he quickly glanced down at the papers in front of him and pulled out some notes. "One of the things Nyan and I had been able to translate before I was recalled was from Loki's file on Jack. Remember how he said he thought your genetic code was the key to their cloning problem?"

Jack nodded slowly, suspiciously. "Yeah, but Thor already said that wasn't the case."

"He also said your DNA was safeguarded for your own protection, O'Neill."

"Teal'c is right," Daniel said. "But that doesn't apply to your, um, sperm cells. It's feasible Freyja thought she could get that missing evolutionary link Thor spoke of by using Sam's egg because of her intellect and your DNA because of your advanced physiology. There was a mention about a particular piece of your genetic code in Loki's files, Jack, that suggested it enabled you to access, download and utilize the knowledge of the Ancients via the Repository."

"We thought it didn't work on Teal'c because he was Jaffa," Carter mused aloud.

Hammond looked to the Doc for answers. "Doctor Fraiser?"

"Well, Sir, I guess it's possible that piece of technology is somehow gene-locked the way we use fingerprints or iris scans as safety guards for certain technology. Instead of enabling one individual to operate the device the Ancients could have ensured only their own race could use these databases. That piece of DNA is clearly translated into a specific and, to us, alien protein."

"Janet, those proteins were produced in all the cells, right?"

She turned to Carter and nodded. "Yes, but there appeared to be an abundance in brain and skin cells."

"Perhaps the proteins in the skin unlock the device for use by someone with this… um, Ancient Technology Activation gene," Carter suggested. "And they somehow enabled the Colonel's brain to deal with the huge amounts of data from the repository after he accessed it."

"Through touch?" Jack questioned, figuring it would be best to not comment on her ability to properly name things if he wanted to remain in her good graces now that he knew her baby was his.

"Not literally, Sir," she said curtly. "It's probably not like something you could apply to your skin to fool the technology, but maybe the proteins somehow create some kind of electro-magnetic field at the right frequency to unlock the device."

Fraiser's eyes widened in realization. "Oh! That could explain why Doctor Sheffield's lab equipment kept malfunctioning when a certain number of samples were used."

Carter was nodding in agreement but upon looking at the General she quickly explained. "The EM field could function as an EM pulse and the resulting rapidly-changing electric fields and magnetic fields could produce damaging current and voltage surges of certain Earth-made technology, Sir."

"Wait a minute, are you saying I'm alien?!" Jack said in horror.

"Well, it's not uncommon for certain species to interbreed," Daniel said calmly before elaborating, "and if the Ancients once lived here among the humans then their descendants could retain certain genetic traits over millennia, right?"

"Yes, that is correct," Fraiser replied. "It would also explain why your physiology seemed advanced to the Asgard compared to 'regular' humans, Colonel."

He grunted in response, not sure what to say. He was naturally outraged about what had happened; first the experimentation on him and, God, he so did not want to know how Loki had obtained a sperm sample from him for his merry friends to use to impregnate Carter. But at the same time he couldn't deny that he was actually a bit excited about becoming a dad again, especially if that little girl was part of Carter too. "And how come you didn't find this out sooner?"

"Colonel?" Hammond questioned with a puzzled frown.

"I thought she had done a DNA comparison test after Carter's amnio, Sir," he answered. "Then why did my name not pop up earlier? Doc?"

She took a moment before looking at him and he thought he could see a trace of guilt on her face. "Sir, we can't just run it against everyone in our database; we only checked it with Major Carter's DNA to establish maternity. The other stored DNA samples of SGC personnel are part of the Department of Defense DNA Specimen Repository and these specimens can only be used for identification of remains and routine quality control, they cannot be used without consent for any other purpose such as paternity suits or genetic testing. The exception to the military's policy is when the DoD is subpoenaed following an investigation or prosecution of a crime," Fraiser explained patiently. "Granted, I would be the first to testify that in my opinion Major Carter's pregnancy is a result of rape but she has not reported a crime because of the mysterious circumstances of conception. Without a formal charge there is no way a subpoena could be produced to get access to all the SGC's DNA samples, Sir. Her own sample was volunteered but there was no way to ask for any male volunteers without making the Major's pregnancy public and before we could consider that option we had already concluded the father's DNA sample was alien."

"She's right, son," Hammond said softly. "Doctors Fraiser and Sheffield are in no way to blame for not having performed a paternity test sooner."

"It's all right, Sir," the Doc said with a gentle smile, "I understand where the Colonel is coming from."

The General nodded and glanced at the clock. "Well, I think we all have enough to process for today and Doctor Fraiser needs to check on her patients. Dismissed, people."


Sam quickly got up from her chair, her heart still racing at the DNA results and she ran from the briefing room. She felt like she was getting sick and there was no way she could face the Colonel now. He had been so sweet and supportive about the whole pregnancy and despite him keeping his opinions to himself she knew he'd been excited about the baby – and that was before he knew it was his! What was she supposed to do now? There was no solution to this situation without it making their lives infinitely more complicated.

Her earlier queasiness and dizzy spell from yesterday forgotten she ran up the stairs rather than taking the elevator and went to SG-1's locker room. She had to get out of here, get home before Colonel O'Neill would find her and try to persuade her otherwise. It was an impossible situation! She had decided to move on with her life, move on from her inappropriate feelings for him and now she was pregnant with his child without even doing the necessary things to get pregnant with him! All because of some lousy Asgard with a lack of morality who thought they could play with human's lives to further their own agenda. To think she had been so excited to finally get to study that nebula up close after watching it through a telescope on Earth for weeks… it wasn't even real. It had all been a lure to catch some human guinea pigs and she doubted it had mattered to Freyja who they were or what their lives were like. All the Asgard had seen was an opportunity to play Doctor Moreau by setting a trap for unsuspecting, curious people like Sam.

Freyja's trap, Sam thought as she opened her locker and changed into her civvies. By impregnating her against her will it had become more than that; entrapment. But by using Jack O'Neill's sperm to do so it went even further.

Beyond entrapment.

"Sam!"

She startled when the door slammed against the wall and Daniel barged in. For a moment she'd feared it was the Colonel who'd come looking for her before she realized whose voice it was. "Daniel, I'm about to head out."

He watched her as she donned her winter coat and zipped it up. "Um, don't you think you and Jack should, oh I don't know, talk?"

Trying to ignore him, she collected her things and turned towards the door. "I've really got to go."

"Wait!" Daniel placed a hand on her arm and held her gaze. "This is huge! I mean, you're pregnant with Jack's baby," he said in a lowered voice, as if someone might overhear them. "I know you weren't sure of what to do and were planning for an abortion but this changes everything, doesn't it? You two care about each other and Jack loves kids! This could be a good thing-"

Was he crazy? "How could this possibly be a good thing?!" God, why couldn't he see how bad this was? The fact that her baby's father was Jack O'Neill only made it worse than if it'd been some random human alien! "The Colonel is my commanding officer, for crying out loud! I can't have his baby, Daniel!"

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 5, 2004

Jack marched up the steps of Carter's porch, still pissed off at her for sneaking off after the briefing. He'd barely turned his back to her after being dismissed to confer with his CO and the CMO about the Alpha Site and the wounded personnel and she had been gone! As the base's 2IC he had been required to go down to the control room with Hammond next to dial up both the Alpha and Beta Site for a sit rep and before being granted permission to leave the base, the General had pulled him into his office for a quick chat about the repercussions of the DNA results. Shit would hit the fan if the news of the baby's parentage became public knowledge Hammond had warned him, so for now the Texan would try to keep it quiet.

That would only work for so long though, Jack knew. It was why he'd gone looking for Carter, figuring she'd had enough time to process the possibility of him being the baby's father since Daniel's revelation and now it had been unmistakably proven by Fraiser. But, surprise surprise, his 2IC had already signed out at the checkpoint topside! Jack had run into Daniel on his way to the locker room and the archeologist had informed him of his brief conversation with Carter, only adding to Jack's concern.

With no time to waste he'd quickly driven over to Carter's house, determined to finally talk to her about this whole thing. If she thought ignoring him – or the baby – would make everything go away she was sorely mistaken, he decided as he knocked on her front door. For a minute or two there was no indication that anyone was home but he'd parked his truck right behind her Volvo so he knew she had to be in and stubbornly banged on the door again.

Then, he could see a shape moving in the hallway through the curtain-thingies behind the door's window and five seconds later the door was roughly pulled open by Carter. She looked weary and in the daylight he could tell she had dark circles under her eyes, and a spark of fear and annoyance was visible in those big blue orbs. But Jack pushed down on any feelings of sympathy after how she had treated him these past two days; after all, he knew he looked like crap too after his sleepless night spent behind his laptop researching his options online.

"Sir, I really don't thi-"

"Right now, I really don't give a shit about what you think, Carter," he said brusquely and pushed the door open further. "We need to talk and I'm not leaving until we do."

She obviously hadn't expected this and just stared at him for a few seconds, giving Jack the opportunity to brush past her and walk into her house. "Colonel," she started but he interrupted her again.

"Don't think you can just ignore me and go ahead with the abortion you've scheduled for tomorrow," he warned her as he leaned against the back of her sofa, waiting for her to join him.

Carter took up position opposite to him, with her back to the kitchen and her arms crossed over her stomach. "I've made my decision after thinking about it long and hard, Sir. You know that I didn't make it lightly and all this honestly hasn't made it any easier."

"But running away has?" Jack retorted skeptically. "You could have at least had the decency to talk to me about this instead of ignoring me and sneaking off the minute I turn around."

"What's there to say, Sir?"

He narrowed his eyes at her and had to make an effort to rein in his anger. "Well, considering you're pregnant with my kid I think there are some things that need discussing, Sam."

Carter's eyes widened at the use of her given name, which he hadn't called her by in years but she adamantly shook her head. "Colonel-"

"No Sam, this is something between you and me," he said, gesturing between them with his hand. "Ranks have nothing to do with it."

"But they do!" She protested in a raised voice. "You can't honestly expect me t-to… to-"

"To not abort my baby?" Jack finished for her with raised brows. "Call me crazy but yeah, I was kinda hoping you would hear me out before killing an innocent little baby – our baby!"

Carter averted her gaze, her jaw clenching in suppressed emotions before she spoke again. "You're my commanding officer, Sir. Ranks do play a role in this and we can't pretend they don't."

"Oh, don't get me wrong, Carter," he said softly, menacing. "Unlike you I haven't stuck my head in the sand and I'm very much aware of how our ranks complicate this, especially after my conversation with Hammond yesterday and the little reminder I was given after today's briefing."

"What?"

He shrugged at her obvious surprise. "I figured at least one of us had to take their responsibility and since you were too busy running away that pleasant little task fell on me."

Carter paled and swallowed visibly. "What did you tell him, Sir?"

"Nothing he didn't already know, Major," Jack replied. "I didn't think lying would be in either of our best interests."

For some unfathomable reason she looked even more nervous now. "What did he say?"

"Well, for starters he didn't seem too impressed by your disappearing act," he couldn't help but mention. "I think I managed to convince him that it was a combination of hormones and being overwhelmed."

"Thank you, Sir," she said softly, abashed. "I didn't think-"

"Yeah, I figured that part out already. Don't get me wrong, normally I would find it amusing that you were, for once, not thinking but this really is no laughing matter, now is it?"

Anger flashed in her eyes but she seemed to rein it in. "I don't know what you want from me, Sir."

"No? I think that's pretty obvious, Carter," Jack said, holding her gaze. "Don't have the abortion."

She huffed and ran a hand through her hair in frustration. "It's not that simple, Colonel."

"But it is-"

"No, it's not!" She shouted, her face colored in anger. "It took me a long time to decide what was best for me and knowing whose spermatozoon was used to fertilize my ovum doesn't change the situation-"

"Like hell it doesn't!" Jack roared, pushing off the sofa in anger and frustration to pace the floor between them. "And what is best for the baby, huh Carter? And for me? This doesn't just affect you anymore!"

Carter actually seemed a bit taken aback at his outburst but quickly regrouped. "But I am the one carrying it-"

"Her," he corrected her.

"-and it will be my life that gets thrown upside down," she continued, ignoring him. "I will be the one who has to accommodate everything around a child I never asked for to begin with! All my dreams and ambitions will have to be set aside since I could get killed any day if I'm on the frontline team and it would be selfish to continue off-world mission because I know what it's like to lose your mother at a young age. And all that was before we even knew the paternity!"

"Yeah, and now we know I am the father, so don't I get a say in this too?" Jack questioned, trying to keep the hurt out of his voice at being considered a mere sperm donor. If she was more than an egg donor then he was too!

Carter sighed and lowered her face into her hands, either because she was at a loss for words for now or needed a moment to pull herself together. Then she shrugged and looked up again. "I don't know… Sir. You're my CO, for crying out loud! Do you have any idea of the repercu-"

"Yeah, Hammond told me shit will hit the fan once word gets out," he replied, also trying to calm down. "Don't look so surprised, I told you we'd talked yesterday already. You know that's why he pulled you and Daniel off the case, right? Next to Daniel Nyan is the only one who can translate Asgard and he's much more impartial since he's not on SG-1 with us. Hammond decided precautions were in order, just in case and he's right; whatever's going to happen," Jack vaguely gestured at her abdomen, "word is gonna get out sooner or later because it always does and until we make contact with Thor and he can back up our explanation of Freyja's experiments we're screwed. Not just you and me, but Hammond and perhaps the entire SGC, Carter."

"Then why are you fighting me on this?" She asked as she sagged into one of her barstools, her shoulders slumped and her gaze on the floor. "If I have an abortion no one needs to know and everything will go back to normal."

Jack let out a mirthless chuckle and shook his head. "You're not really that naïve, are you?"

"But no one knows except for General Hammond, Janet, Doctor Sheffield and SG-1," she argued with a panic-stricken look on her face.

"For now," he said. "Hammond promised to keep it under wraps for now but…"

Carter looked horrified as he simply shrugged, obviously realizing that he was right and apparently that hadn't crossed her mind yet. "But if I do this tomorrow then the risk of anyone else finding out is minimal; Doctor Sheffield doesn't even know it was your DNA sample she tested, Sir."

"And you don't think the higher-ups will find a way to get around the military's policy on DNA testing and doctor-patient confidentiality if they hear about a human male with part alien DNA? Or that someone will want to know how we came across such an advanced ship and keeping it from the Asgard in spite of them being our most advanced allies?"

"All the more reason for me to-"

"No! You will not abort our daughter because it's convenient or an easy fix, Carter!" Jack all but shouted, barely refraining from using the word 'killing' but knowing how heavilyy the guilt of killing your child weighed on a person he managed to keep his control.

She slid from her seat and turned her back to him, leaning on the kitchen island. He could tell from her posture that she was agitated and probably a bit emotional as well, hopefully from their conversation and not just her hormones. "Without the pregnancy there is no evidence to indicate anything inappropriate has occurred between us, Sir. The DNA samples could be destroyed and the SGC, Hammond's command and both our careers would be safe."

Jack took a deep breath and steeled himself, knowing he had to be harsh, maybe even cruel to drive his point home. "And what about our baby's body, hm? They'll probably put her in a jar to conserve her for scientific experiments after the procedure, since she has that alien gene and probably your naquadah and protein marker too. Not unlike what Adrian Conrad had planned for you, Carter. I mean, Freyja created her for a reason and the fact that the Asgard are interested in our baby alone would be enough for her to be of interest to some. You can't really think they'll just discard of her body after the abortion, that's just naïve."

"No, Janet would never let something like that happen!" She cried after turning around to face him.

"Oh, you and I both know that the NID or Trust, hell maybe even Freyja herself, would find a way to recover the baby's body before they've disposed of her." He knew he should feel some satisfaction at Carter's passionate reaction but he was feeling sick to his stomach at his own words and if her sudden pallor was anything to go on his 2IC felt the same thing.

Carter stubbornly shook her head, her hand subconsciously resting on her bump in a protective gesture. "No, Janet and General Hammond would ensure something like that wouldn't be possible."

"There are spies everywhere and it's impossible to keep something like this a secret forever; Fraiser would have to mention the abortion in your medical file and that would certainly raise some flags for certain people, considering your unique physiology," Jack said with a shrug.

"By the time they would learn of the abortion it would be too late and no one would ever have to know an Asgard was behind this and used your sperm for it," she argued heatedly. "That way your alien DNA remains a secret and no false accusations would be made about an illicit affair between us, meaning our careers and Hammond's command are safe, Sir."

"You know what, Carter? I don't care, not if it costs me my child. I don't give a rat's ass about what could happen to my career if it means sacrificing our baby. I've retired before, I can do it again."

She looked shocked for a minute but suddenly there was a fire in her eyes. "And what about my career, Sir? I've worked my ass off to get where I am today and you can't make that decision for the both of us!"

"Oh, but you can? You can decide to have an abortion because of your career despite how I feel about it, but I'm not allowed to want to see our daughter grow up because of how it reflects on your career?" Jack retorted in an accusing tone.

"That's not fai-"

"Life isn't fair but you take your responsibilities and deal with it," he said, interrupting her. "Well, most people do, anyway."

She glared at him and for a moment he wondered if she was about to snap or inclined to start throwing things, but then she took a deep breath and clenched her fists. "Even if Thor can back up our explanation as to the nature of conception the fact remains that you're my commanding officer, Sir. It's not like I could actually explain the situation to anyone without clearance and to outsiders looking in it would still look like we had an illicit affair and-"

"Oh, trust me; I know you can't get past the fact that I'm your CO and I'm all too aware of how important your career and appearances are to you," Jack said snidely, unable to keep the bite from his tone as he was reminded of her quick offer to keep their zatarc confessions in the room. Realistically he knew there had been no other option, certainly not back then, but would there have been any harm in at least discussing it? If not at that time then at least broaching the subject at some point in the past four years or alluding to dealing with it in a way other than burying – and ignoring – it. In this case it was extra painful because he had no idea if she still felt something for him and considering how she couldn't seem to bear the idea of having his baby…

"Sir-"

"Give her to me," he said impulsively. "I'll retire."

Carter was taken aback and stared at him for a moment. "What?"

"If you don't want her, then I'll take her. Hell, I'll retire to Minnesota and no one would have to know! All I'm asking is what, five more months? Five months from you and you'll never have to see her or me agai-"

"That's insane, Sir!" She yelled and he could see her control was fading.

"Why?" Jack gestured wildly as he started pacing along the sofa. "Or are you afraid I'll kill her too, like I killed Charlie? Is that why you are you so set against having my baby, Carter? Is that it?"

"Of course not!" Carter shouted angrily. "Sir…" She sighed and seemed to take a moment to herself, her eyes cast down. "You know that's not true. What happened with Charlie was an accident," she said and glanced up at him from under her lashes. "We've all seen how great you are with Cassie and alien kids and I can tell you were a great father. Any kid would be lucky to have you."

Clenching his jaw, he tried to calm himself. Why did he have to bring up Charlie? For Christ's sake he already knew he didn't have a leg to stand on legally, not until after the baby would be born so why would he give her even more ammo? "Just not your kid, right? Our kid."

She shook her head and was blinking rapidly. "That's not fair. You know why…"

"Then why not let me have her, Sam?" Jack tried again, searching her face and desperately trying to convince her. "What do you want? For me to plead and beg? Because I will if it means you'll let our daughter live…"


"No, Sir. It's just… I don't want to hurt you but I just don't see how that could possibly work! People would still know I'm pregnant and handing the baby over to you would be as good as admitting you're the father!" Sam explained, trying valiantly to keep her tears at bay. It killed her to see him this desperate but there was no possible way all this could work out with a happy ending. "We couldn't tell anyone the truth because they don't have clearance and everyone will think we've trampled all over the frat regs! It's not like I could claim I was simply a surrogate or something; we both know enemies of the SGC will twist the truth and make us look bad! You said it yourself that even General Hammond and the SGC's mandate could get in trouble over this, Sir!"

"For Christ's sake, Carter! This isn't one of your simulations that went wrong and you can just delete or some kind of project to put on a shelf because you're too busy," the Colonel raged. "You're talking about an innocent little baby – our daughter – and I don't care what anyone thinks! You can't really expect me to be okay with you getting rid of her because someone might use her to discredit us. Hell, even Hammond is willing to go to bat for us if it comes to that!"

Sam flinched at his harsh words and had to make an effort to not step back when he came closer. Her heart was pounding and for the first time she was actually a bit frightened by him. She didn't think he would hurt her but she had never seen him like this and it scared her. "Th-the General said that?"

"Yeah, strangely enough he seems to have more faith in us and the higher-ups than you do," he replied snarkily.

"I can't…"

"Then I won't acknowledge her!"

Frowning, she looked at him trying to understand what he was suggesting. "Sir?"

The Colonel ran a hand through his hair as he continued to pace a hole into her floor. "We'll destroy the DNA results and no one would know I'm the biological father. If there's no father you won't need his consent to give her up for adoption-"

"What?" Was he saying he wanted her to put the baby up for adoption rather than abort? "I don't understand, Sir."

"We'll arrange a private yet closed adoption and I would take the baby with no one the wiser," he explained, with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. "Please, Sam."

She had to look away from his pleading eyes and averted her gaze, all the while shaking her head. "It wouldn't work, Sir. They'd never let you retire when Anubis, his Kull Warriors, the System Lords and the Replicators are all still out there and we have no means of defending ourselves. You're needed on SG-1, Colonel and-"

"What," he huffed, "you really think we can just go back to working together after this?"

"What's that supposed to mean, Sir?" Sam questioned, with her heart suddenly in her throat. Was he going to punish her for her decision? Had she already done irreparable damage to their relationship? Ever since finding out about the pregnancy she had been worried that her decision would affect her relationships with her friends and she had known Colonel O'Neill was against the abortion, but she had believed him when he told her he would support her no matter what. "What happened to supporting me in whatever decision I'd make, Sir? What, that doesn't apply anymore because we now know Freyja used your extracted sperm to fertilize my ovum? If we hadn't found out the paternity you wouldn't have tried to stop me because it would have been someone else's child then?"

"That's my kid, Carter no matter how she was created. So no, of course I'm not okay with you aborting her! And yeah, maybe that's hypocritical but you're not the only one who's been victimized here!" Colonel O'Neill growled at her and then he shook his head and shrugged before continuing in a calmer tone. "You're smart enough to know Hammond would never allow us to go back to working on the same team, whether you keep the baby or not. Besides, I don't know if I would even be able to work with you anymore if you go ahead with this."

Gasping she stared at him. "Are you trying to force me to do-"

"No, I'm just saying that if you abort our baby tomorrow because you think it will solve everything you're sorely mistaken, Carter. Even if Hammond would be foolish enough to let both of us back on SG-1 it would eventually break up the team because your decision impacts my life too, and Daniel and Teal'c will undoubtedly pick up on the tension between us as well. That could get us all killed out in the field and I don't know if I could still trust you to watch my back."

Sam sagged into her seat and screwed her eyes shut as she felt tears overwhelm her, knowing he was right; she was the younger – female – officer with less field training so naturally she would be the one transferred off the team. "And there's no guarantee I would be allowed to join another off-world team," she mused aloud. Not only were all the off-world teams full and they had newly trained recruits chomping at the bit for a free spot, but she was already supposed to start working on a weapon against Anubis' Kull Warriors next week with the Tok'ra… and they still didn't have a defense against Anubis himself, the other System Lords or the Replicators and with the Asgard being incommunicado there was a good chance the brass wasn't willing to risk her life by sending her out in the field when she could be working on defense technology or space guns from the safety of a lab… "God, the irony," she muttered under her breath.

"I want you think about what I've said, Carter," the Colonel said in a strained voice. "This isn't over yet but I know you'll need time to wrap your head around it. I'm gonna go now before either of us says something they can't take back… I want that baby, Sam."

She looked up when she heard him walk away and was surprised to see him pause in the hallway. "Sir?"

"What was her name?"

"What?"

"The girl you saw on the ship. What was her name, Carter?" He growled when she didn't answer immediately, "Just tell me!"

Swallowing hard, Sam glanced at his tense shoulders before fixing her gaze on the floor. "Grace…" She said softly, relenting, "she said her name was Grace, Sir." She had barely finished her sentence or he was out of her house and she found herself walking over to the front door that hadn't closed properly. With a sigh, Sam gently pushed it shut and straightened the window's curtain, resting her head against the flimsy fabric to calm herself and collect her thoughts. The glass beneath it was cool and she briefly wondered if it was still freezing outside. They had warned it might snow again later today so maybe she should put her Volvo into the garage around back, she mused. When she lifted her head to look outside Sam was surprised to see the Colonel's truck still parked at the curb.

She pushed the curtain aside for a better look and it was only then that she realized he was hunched over the steering wheel… crying.

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 5, 2004

Sam's breath hitched at the sight of the Colonel in emotional distress. Now she realized why he'd beat such a hasty retreat even though it had sounded like he wasn't done arguing yet, or why he had kept his back to her in the hallway… He clearly didn't want her to see him break down and had sought the refuge of his truck. The only reason she'd laid eyes on him now was because he'd forgotten to close the front door properly in his haste.

Her mind was still running light-years a minute, trying to process all his angry words and heartrending pleas as she stood there watching him hesitantly, with one hand resting on the cold glass of the door. Sam's fingers twitched with inaction, aching to reach out to him. Comfort him. But she couldn't. Couldn't promise him the one thing he wanted, could she?

In theory his compromise made sense but was it realistic to think she could just carry on with the pregnancy for another five months, give birth and hand him the baby? Without anyone noticing anything? It was impossible. He'd said it himself; Doctor Sheffield knew they had at least one DNA sample of the man who fathered the baby and thus had to know who he was, even if Janet's coding system meant the geneticist didn't know the man's name. Certain enemies of the SGC – NID, Trust – would also be interested in any offspring of a former host and certainly wouldn't let a mere closed adoption prevent them from finding out more. Not to mention that Colonel O'Neill's retirement probably wouldn't be approved and even if he somehow managed to retire, then the timing was awfully convenient.

And what would happen if Earth's safety was at stake? She would probably be with maternity leave in the last few weeks of her pregnancy and then recuperating physically from the delivery, meaning she wouldn't be helpful at all for a few months and the Colonel wouldn't be there either! He may grumble a lot about diplomacy and whatnot but the truth was many of their allies liked, or at least respected, him as one of 'Earth's' leaders. The Asgard for example preferred to deal with him and he also seemed to be Thor's personal favorite. Then again, there was a good chance Earth's alliance with the Asgard had been compromised considering Freyja's actions, Sam thought angrily. Her Dad also liked the Colonel, as did Garshaw of the Tok'ra. Bra'tac respected him as well and she wasn't sure if Teal'c would even stay on Earth if not for "O'Neill", seeing as how the Rebel Jaffa and Bra'tac could certainly use Teal'c's help too.

But, lowering her hand from the window, Sam wasn't sure she could just turn her back on the Colonel either. Not when he was so overcome with emotion because of her. He was crying because she threatened to take away his second chance at fatherhood and it tugged at her heartstrings to know that she was the cause for his misery and couldn't give him what he wanted. The whole situation was so unfair because, God, she really did love him but she was realistic enough to know she could never have him. It was why she had decided to move on after coming back from Prometheus in the first place, only to find out she was pregnant with his baby.

Up until their confrontation the thought that he would be unable to trust her in the field had never crossed her mind and now not only would she lose his friendship and trust, but also her position on the team no matter what she would decide – he was right, General Hammond couldn't afford to place them back on the same team after this. Did Freyja have any idea what she had done by impregnating Sam with her CO's child? As if their working relationship being affected wasn't enough, their personal relationship had been irrevocably changed as well and Sam had no idea how to handle that.

As the curtain fell back in place, obscuring her view of the Colonel, she wondered what to do next; go back inside and pretend she hadn't seen him or go out to him and face the possibility of even more anger from him because he didn't want her to see him like that? Maybe she should just give Daniel a call and have him check on Colonel O'Neill…

No, she couldn't betray the Colonel like that; he probably didn't want anyone to know how affected he was by this, not even Daniel who had already seen him at his lowest during their first mission to Abydos together. It might make Daniel overreact as well and make it even worse. No, this was between her and Colonel O'Neill and he was right about her running away, she grimly admitted to herself. So, could she really turn her back on him now or should she show him some of his angry words had hit home and act accordingly?

Sam was in dubio for a moment, her gaze darting from the Colonel's truck to her coat closet and back again. Before she could overthink it her hand involuntarily opened the door and the movement must have caught Colonel O'Neill's eye because suddenly he looked in her direction, embarrassed and teary-eyed. "Colonel," she called out from her doorstep, her voice unsteady.

But rather than acknowledge her and reply or open the truck's window, he brushed his eyes and moved to start the car. Obviously he was going to pretend this had never happened because he didn't want her to see him this vulnerable.

"No wait," she cried. It was only when she stepped out that she realized she wasn't wearing a coat and, looking down, no shoes either. His car's engine had started though and he was stubbornly looking away, fiddling with something… probably the radio so he could claim he hadn't heard her protest, she thought. Glancing back over her shoulder, Sam wondered whether she should get her coat and shoes to stop him because she couldn't let him drive like this, not when he was so distraught and probably not thinking clearly! He could easily cause an accident on the slippery roads!

She was momentarily distracted by what she suspected was a swift kick from the baby, causing her to gasp. "Oomph!" It kind of hurt, actually and Sam wasn't sure if that was normal because from everything she had read and been told it would probably be a bit longer before she would become aware of actual kicks rather than mere movements. Placing her hand on her abdomen where she'd felt the little jab, she pushed a bit and was surprised to receive another kick.

Figuring it was a sign Sam went back into the house and pulled open the coat closet. As she bent over to put her snow boots on she heard the sound of the Colonel's truck pulling up and panicked, slipping her feet in the nearest pair of shoes – sneakers – and blindly grabbing a coat. Her keys were on the side table in the hallway and after pocketing them she shrugged on her leather jacket and quickly made her way over to her car. Fortunately her Volvo started right away in spite of the cold weather and as she pulled away from the curb she could just see the Colonel's taillights disappearing around the corner at the end of the street.

Sam kept telling herself she was only doing this to make sure he got home safely as she pursued his truck, all the while silently going over and over his arguments in her head. She was almost ashamed to admit it but she knew he'd been right about her running away. These last few days hadn't been her proudest moments but could he really blame her considering the circumstances? The moment Daniel had discovered the Colonel's semen had most likely been used to impregnate her she had known the situation had just become a thousand times more complicated. Just when she had come to terms with the knowledge that some alien had violated her body and had made the difficult decision to opt for an abortion, her whole world had been turned upside down again!

Wait… why was Colonel O'Neill going onto the interstate instead of taking the exit leading to his neighborhood? Puzzled, Sam signaled and followed his truck, figuring she had already come this far and still wasn't convinced he was in any state to be driving right now. It didn't take long for her mind go back to their confrontation in the silence of her car. Maybe, she reluctantly admitted, she had been in denial about how the paternity would affect everything. That was the very reason she had been avoiding the Colonel after all. But she should have known he wouldn't take it lying down and now she didn't know what to do; she didn't want to hurt him even further but how could she possibly give him what he wanted?

Frowning, Sam shook her head to clear her mind of the jumble of thoughts as she could feel a headache coming up. He'd made a good point about letting everything sink in today before continuing their argument tomorrow. Obviously he wasn't going to just let her go ahead with the abortion, that much he had made clear and she wouldn't be surprised if he'd be waiting for her at the mountain. Or maybe even drop by her house in the morning to pick up where they had left off, hoping she had changed her mind overnight. But if it had been that simple she wouldn't have had such a hard time dealing with everything up until now, right?

Half an hour and a headache later her mind was still racing and she had come to the conclusion Colonel O'Neill wasn't just avoiding her because she had seen him break down; he was heading to Denver. Initially she'd assumed he had recognized her Volvo and her intentions so he'd gone onto the interstate to lose her or perhaps discourage her before going home to lick his wounds, but that didn't seem to be the case. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all? It looked like he had somewhere to be and he might not appreciate her following him…

A few minutes later he took another exit and figuring she had already come this far, she followed him. However, with the three cars she'd tried to keep between them at all times she ended up having to stop for a traffic light while he went down a slippery and somewhat abandoned-looking road on her left. Her gaze shifted from the road to the traffic light and back until she got the green light and took off after him. As she made the turn to her left she realized she had to slow down because of the leftover snow on the road, which clearly hadn't been cleared unlike all the major traffic roads and the interstate. It also looked like the only tracks in the snow belonged to the Colonel's truck so she tried to keep her smaller Volvo on the same path, once again wondering why she hadn't just stayed at home.

A small voice in her head reminded her it was because she cared about him, a lot more than she was supposed to.

Sighing, Sam continued to follow the tracks, wondering where they would lead her as the few signs she'd spotted on the side of the road were either damaged and in disrepair or covered in snow or ice. Only when she cautiously made another turn on the slippery road did she see the Colonel's truck on an otherwise empty parking lot. After making her way over there she chose the spot with the least snow to park and quickly got out of the car. Even if she hadn't known Colonel O'Neill's military boot prints by heart after working beside him for the past seven years, they were easily recognizable considering they were the only tracks leading from his truck to a somewhat neglected gate on the other side of the lot in the otherwise pristine blanket of snow.

She grimaced as she followed the tracks, feeling the cold and wetness seeping into her sneakers but didn't see a reason not to follow. Not until she had entered the gate and was overlooking the snowy landscape with a few hills, trees, a small pond and… some indistinguishable blobs of snow every few feet, in straight rows.

Damn.

There was only one reason she could think of for the Colonel to visit a cemetery after their argument. For a moment Sam contemplated heading back to her car and waiting for him there but then she saw him, cutting a lone figure among all the snow-covered headstones on the north side of the place. Before she could decide what to do next her legs were already carrying her towards him, her sneakers following the same path his boot-clad feet had taken. No one else appeared to be around on this side of the cemetery but there were plenty of other shoe prints in the snow indicating others had been here before them in the past few days, she realized as she stopped a few feet away from her CO, at a respectable distance.

Charlie's grave turned out to be at the end of a row, with some shrubs and a tree a few feet away serving to separate the rows of graves from the nearby hill. The icy lake was only about fifty feet away and Sam could see this particular area was probably nice and quiet in the spring and summer without the snow, almost peaceful. She briefly wondered why the Colonel and his ex-wife had chosen for this out-of-the-way cemetery in Denver rather than something closer to Winter Park, where their family home had been but figured they had their reasons to pick something about an hour away. Perhaps the serenity and the low risk of running into someone they knew – who had known their son – was why, she mused. Not that it was any of her business, really.

"Loitering around a cemetery is frowned upon, ya know," the Colonel said suddenly, breaking the natural silence hanging around the cemetery. "People come here to pay their respects to those they've lost."

Sam hung her head at the rebuke, berating herself once more for looking for him rather than waiting in the car. Foolishly she had hoped he wouldn't notice her presence, having made sure to tread lightly in his boot prints to prevent the snow crunching underfoot, and allowing him the time he needed at his son's grave. But the man proved to be just as sharp grieving at a cemetery as he was off-world exploring hostile territory. A glance upward showed he still had his back turned to her, his shoulder tense and posture rigid. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to intrude, Sir," she said in a raised tone to be heard over the wind.

"Yet," he said sharply, waving his hand around to encompass their surroundings, "here you are." Then he turned around with a scowl on his face. "It's not enough that you're gonna abort my daughter, now you won't even allow me a moment with my dead son?"

She winced at his biting tone and shook her head. "I-I just…"

"You just… what, Carter?"

Her eyes darted to the grave he was visiting, now no longer obscured by his large frame as she wasn't sure she wanted to see the anger on his face. The headstone was one of the few around without a few inches of snow resting atop of it and Charlie's name was clearly visible too, suggesting the Colonel had brushed it off the memorial stone with his fingers before she had arrived. Not that it would help much as she was already seeing the first snowflakes descending from the sky… Moving her gaze to his hands she could see he wasn't wearing gloves, his fingers still red from the action. Sam felt his eyes on her form, nearly burning a hole in her and a shudder ran through her. She grabbed both ends of her coat to wrap it tighter around her to cover herself up as well as fight off the cold, as her growing bump meant she couldn't zip the leather jacket up anymore. "I shouldn't have come, I'm sorry."

"So, why did you?" He asked brusquely, his tone almost demanding she look at him. "Hm?"

"I was worried about you," she admitted softly, chancing a glance at his dark eyes. "I saw you… er, in your truck. You had left the front door open so when I went to close it, I saw you," she shrugged.

"How touching."

Sam winced at the sarcasm dripping from his words but tried to explain anyway. "Seeing you so upset… I don't know, I guess I was concerned you were too distraught to drive."

There was a flash of surprise and embarrassment on his face before his expression became neutral again, his cheeks remaining slightly pinked. Apparently he hadn't expected her to bring up his 'moment of weakness' as he no doubt saw it, but then he cocked his head and had that inscrutable look of his in his eyes. "Yes, normal people tend to get emotional when their kid's life is threatened, Carter."

He waited for a reaction with his lips twisted in a grim smile, but when she refused to take the bait he nodded almost imperceptibly and crossed his arms. "It's a nice spot, isn't it? Charlie used to love climbing trees… heck, I think that goes for about any kid, but that's why Sara and I picked this one," the Colonel said, gesturing at the trees at the end of the row. "He loved the pond at the cabin too."

Sam automatically glanced towards the nearby lake and nodded in agreement, albeit puzzled at the sudden change of subject. "Yes, it's a ni-"

"So, how about here, eh?" He pointed at the empty space between Charlie's grave and the trees.

"Sir?"

"A tiny little grave for our baby girl," the Colonel said angrily.

She gasped at the venom in his voice and felt sick at his heartless tone, no doubt intended to shock her. "S-"

"Oh, don't worry, Carter," he snarled, "I wouldn't use your name, because you never know what people might think, right? No, I'll just get her one of those pillowed markers and have it engraved with Grace O'Neill. That way no one will be the wiser and ever suspect she was yours too."

"That's not fair!" Sam cried, clenching her fists.

"Taking her from me isn't fair either!"

She reeled as his yell echoed over the deserted cemetery and burrowed deeper into the collar of her leather jacket, her arms tightening around her waist involuntarily. "I didn't come here to fight," Sam said softly, her voice muffled in her coat. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right and-"

"Well I'm not!" The Colonel shouted, breathing hard. Shaking himself he ran a frustrated hand through his hair, simultaneously getting rid of the snowflakes in his silver hair. "For Christ's sake, Carter," he muttered. "You know how I feel about kids, how can you expect me to… to be okay with you aborting my baby?"

"This isn't easy for me either, Sir," she said defensively. "You have no idea h-how violated I feel! To know someone did this to me while I was unconscious, trapped and helpless! And I don't remember what happened but that doesn't stop my mind from conjuring up awful scenarios in my sleep. I didn't ask for this! I never even seriously contemplated having kids and now there's something growing inside of me… I can feel it move, my body is changing and everything is a constant reminder of what is happening to me!"

"It's not some thing," he said, frowning. "There's a baby inside of you, our baby."

Sam blinked rapidly, feeling the tears burning in her eyes as she shook her head. "Do you really think this is what I had planned for my future? Getting a life with someone and maybe starting a family one day is one thing, but getting impregnated by aliens, Sir?! With my commanding officer's baby? Do you have any idea how hard I've worked to get where I am today?"

The Colonel's anger seemed to have melted away together with the snowflakes from his hair and now he just looked puzzled. "Of course I know how hard it is in the mili-"

"Do you, really?" She questioned heatedly. "With all due respect, Sir; you're a guy and you have no idea what women in the military have to deal with on a daily basis. You think the rumor mill and the gossiping about me as the only woman on the flagship team at the SGC is bad? That's nothing compared to what I and other women have had to deal with over the years, Sir."

"Carter, of course I know that it's tougher for women but-"

"No! It's not just tougher, Colonel," she bristled. "Being a woman in the military means you have to work twice as hard to get half the appreciation. And if that's not bad enough, think about what it's like to have a general as your father or being a 'geek'. Every single time I got any kind of recognition it was because my Daddy the General had pulled some strings or I was sleeping my way up the ranks! You… you're a maverick, Sir, and you're irreverent and disobey orders on a semi-regular basis but that's fine, because you're one of the guys!"


Jack gaped at her for a moment, caught off-guard by her tirade and very honest opinion of him. "Look-"

"I'm not saying you're not a good officer, Sir," she quickly amended. "You are and you're a great CO, but a woman could never get away with the same attitude and still attain your rank. All I'm saying is that I've had to work my ass off to get where I am today. That includes not making any mistakes and keeping my distance from male officers I serve with because appearances do matter, especially if you're the younger female officer."

"I know that, Carter," he replied, a bit offended. "You're not the first female officer I've worked with and I've seen your file; you've deserved every recognition, award and promotion you got and many more."

"My record was spotless until I joined the SGC and it had to be or I never would have been assigned there," she said, then let out a humorless chuckle. "But someone like Jonas gets there effortlessly and is made a team leader, in spite of checkered past, black marks and questionable psych eval that all led to him being a mere captain again."

Jack winced at the mention of her dead ex-fiancé, knowing she was right. He also suspected the fact that she had been passed over for the first mission to Abydos still stung, even though it was because she'd been deemed too valuable. Not that she had lost any value by the time of the second mission, yet there had still been a high risk of not getting back alive because they'd thought Apophis had come from there. "I know it's still unfair on women but you also know that we're trying to change that at the SGC; men and women are treated equal there and our percentage of female officers and enlisted is much higher than any other base."

Carter huffed and rolled her eyes. "That's beside the point, Sir. What I was trying to explain is that I've planned my career in the Air Force since I was in my early teens; I wanted to apply to NASA as an Air Force nominee but all that changed with the Challenger Disaster so I had to readjust my goals and expectations but I knew I still wanted to join up. I wanted to show my Dad that I was a Carter too and make him proud by following in his footsteps."

"Yeah, I get that. Dad would have had high expectations, hence your drive and competitive streak and why you're such a perfectionist," he concluded.

"No, that's because I had to work three times as hard to get where I am today, Sir," Carter said curtly. Then she seemed to hug herself tighter and looked down at her… sneakers? Before he could wonder why she wasn't wearing boots like normal people she continued. "I have always played it by the book and kept to the regulations, Colonel. I never took any chances that could complicate my career plans and that includes lifestyle choices in my personal life, like safe sex to prevent unwanted pregnancies."

"Carter," Jack started, but she just ignored him.

Spreading her arms she grimaced. "And now here I am, pregnant with my commanding officer's baby and we didn't even have sex!" Her eyes widened at the end of her statement and suddenly she was blushing profusely. "That came out wrong, Sir! I meant that I didn't even have any part in the conception. Hell, my consent wasn't even asked before they impregnated me!"

He scrubbed a hand over his face as he tried to process everything she had just told him. Of course he had known why she was such a stickler for rules; every airman had at least heard of one couple caught fraternizing in their career and it usually was the woman who paid the price. That was exactly why he had never made a move on Carter despite his feelings. He respected her and her career too much to endanger it and undo all the hard work and ruin her reputation. "God Carter, I know that; do you think I told Loki to "go ahead, experiment on me and sure extract some of my sperm while you're at it as long as I get to catch up on some sleep"? Or that I gave permission for him and his friends to use my samples to impregnate you?"

"No, of course not," she said with a roll of her eyes. "But it's different for you, Sir. You'll be the silver fox who bagged the blonde junior officer, while I'll be the slut who slept her way up through the ranks to those without clearance!"

Jack felt his hackles rise at her blunt statement but he knew there was some truth in it; he had been responsible for her promotion to major and had already recommended her for her next one to Hammond a little while ago, so that one wouldn't be much longer either. But that didn't mean he agreed with her decision to have an abortion! "You know Hammond would go to bat for us, Carter."

"I'm not talking about the brass, Sir. Not even everyone at the SGC or Area 51 has the clearance to know the truth so to them it would look like we had an affair and I got pregnant as a result. General Hammond would be forced to make changes considering our prominent positions on the flagship team, even if he knows the truth! And what do I tell my brother, Sir? Mark might not like the career choices I've made but as a military brat he knows fraternization with your direct superior is out of the question!"

"Maybe, I don't know," he admitted. "Perhaps I'll leave anyway – retire – and you can have the team."

"That would be awfully convenient," Carter replied. "People would still talk and there's no guarantee your request for retirement would be approved."

Getting colder and more frustrated by the minute Jack rubbed his hands together and scowled at her. "Well, I don't know what else to say! All I know is that's not a good enough reason to abort our baby, Carter. But if that's really what you want to do regardless of my feelings then you're not the person I thought you were," he added bitterly. Seeing her surprise he shrugged and decided he had nothing left to lose but everything to gain. "I don't know, maybe I put you up on a pedestal or romanticized the image I had of you but I can't believe I fell in love with someone who values her career over the life of our child."

Chapter Text

Cemetery
Denver, CO
March 5, 2004

Jack watched her, waiting with bated breath as that big brain of hers processed his words. The moment it hit her, those blue eyes widened in shock and a nanosecond later Carter was frowning, an incredulous look reminiscent of that time he’d ordered the iris closed to make Hitler II splat against it crossed her face before she averted her gaze and looked down. She seemed at a loss for words and he wondered if he had been wrong about her. Perhaps he had made the wrong kind of assumptions about her feelings for him since that zatarc test.

Her admission back then had matched his in vagueness but he had, perhaps foolishly, interpreted it as her reciprocating his feelings at some level. Could his battered yet hopeful heart have misguided him all this time? No, he found that hard to believe; there had been definite flirting, lingering glances, and some stolen – and inappropriate – moments that all said this wasn’t one-sided. Of course there had also been distance lately, purposefully created by both of them since then. It had been well over a year since he’d last invited her to come fishing, for example and even longer since anything… tangible, like that kiss she returned – and can’t remember – in the timeloop he and Teal'c got stuck in over three years ago.

Right now he was banking on her feelings for him being at least a fraction of the way he felt about her in the hopes of getting her to reconsider. But what if it was just about sheer physical attraction on her part, rather than deeper feelings?

“I-I um, I don’t…” Carter stammered, glancing up briefly with flaming cheeks. “You j-just… I, I-I don’t know what to say.”

Well, this was awkward. But hey, right now he would take anything he could get and if that meant mere sympathy or even pity for making such an embarrassing confession he’d gladly take it as long as it would make her change her mind about the baby. “Yeah, I got that,” Jack said dryly.

She looked at him, wide-eyed and flushed even more if that was possible. “I-it’s just that I, um… I had n-no idea.”

“Really?” He asked with a wry smile, holding her gaze. “Too many concussions made you forget about that little Xanax detector?”

“N-no-not t-that,” she said, shaking her head wildly. “I-I knew y-you c-cared… once.”

Jack frowned and stepped closer to her as her voice became softer. Besides, he didn’t want to fight with her in front of his son’s grave. He wasn’t very religious or anything and could hardly make himself visit the grave but even now, he couldn’t bring himself to continue this argument in front of his boy. He figured the baby couldn’t be aware of the fights between him and Carter yet. “I can’t just flip a switch, Sam. If I could there would have been no need to keep it in the room,” he added, rubbing his hands together again and blowing on his icy fingers before stuffing them in his warm pockets.

She looked at him with an intensity he’d hardly ever seen in her eyes, let alone directed at him. “W-we n-never-”

“Hey, you were quick to suggest to keep it in the room and I obliged,” he said, interrupting her. “You must have known or at least suspected my feelings for you weren’t exactly the same as for Daniel or Teal'c,” he said with a mirthless chuckle. “Or you wouldn’t have made the offer.”

“I-it’s been y-years,” Carter said with a puzzled frown, tightening her arms around her waist as if hugging herself in discomfort. “I d-didn’t know y-you still had f-feelings.”

Taking a closer look Jack realized she wasn’t just overcome with embarrassment and stammering like an idiot because she was too tongue-tied to discuss the sensitive subject; she was actually shivering and her teeth were chattering from the cold! It shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering the sneakers she was wearing and the unzipped leather jacket but he simply hadn’t really looked at her until now. The snow was falling more heavily now and got caught in her blond hair, making it fizz and curl a bit and her sneakers looked soaked. The only color on her face was the flush of embarrassment but even that was slowly diminishing and her lips were pale. He closed the distance between them and reached out a hand to brush her cheek, but she flinched in a jerky movement. “Sam,” he said calmly, eying her as he slowly reached out again.

She didn’t move, holding his gaze and let him push a lock of hair – drenched from the melting snow – behind her ear. “W-what-t?”

“You’re freezing,” Jack murmured as he caressed her cheek before dropping his hand. Frowning, he grabbed both her hands with his and was startled by how cold and pale they were – her nails were already devoid of color and would probably turn blue soon!

“I-I’m f-fine,” she said, pulling her hands back.

It was clear to him she wasn’t fine and all his other thoughts vanished as he felt concern well up within him. There were still some snowflakes on her shoulders and he brushed them off, feeling how wet and slippery the leather had already become. The part of her pink sweater’s neckline that was peeping out from under her jacket’s collar also had wet spots all over it, darkening the fabric and no doubt making her feel even colder. Why the hell wasn’t she wearing boots and a winter coat in this weather? More snow had been forecast and if they stayed out here much longer her health would undoubtedly be affected by exposure to the elements, Jack thought to himself. “You’re not fine. C’mon, we’re leaving,” he grabbed her by the elbow and headed towards the gate.

“B-but we’re not d-done y-yet!”

He raised his brows in surprise at her strong reaction. Considering the topic of conversation and how they had always avoided talking ‘feelings’, he hadn’t expected her to want to continue their little talk. “We can finish it on our way back.” Seeing she was about to protest he shook his head. “There’s already a new layer of snow on the roads and it will only get worse. Besides, you’re still shaking and your extremities are stiff from the cold; I’m not going to let your drive back in that little tin can of yours.”

“W-what?”

“I’ll take you home in the truck and we can get someone to pick up your Volvo tomorrow,” Jack elaborated as he escorted her out of the cemetery. He wasn’t about to let her endanger her own life or the baby because she was too stubborn and leaving her out here in the cold wasn’t a good idea either.

“F-fine,” Carter relented, meekly letting him guide her over the parking lot.

He smirked and opened the door for her when they reached his truck. After she was seated he quickly rounded the vehicle and slipped onto the driver’s seat, turning on the engine and the heat. Hopefully she would warm up soon and stop shivering. “You okay?” She nodded before burrowing deeper into her jacket so he gestured at the window. “I’ll be right back, just gonna get rid of the snow and ice.” With that he collected the tools, got out of the truck again and started cleaning the window. Fortunately they hadn’t been here long enough for much ice to form, meaning he was done quickly. By the time he got back into the car he was pleased to see Carter had a bit more color.

Jack steered his Ford out of the parking lot with practiced ease and it wasn’t long before they had left the cemetery. Ten minutes later Denver was behind them as they drove down the interstate in silence and after another five minutes Carter’s teeth had finally stopped chattering. “Finally getting warm?”

“Yeah,” she replied with a quick smile. “Much better.”

He nodded in agreement and chanced a quick glance at her; she definitely looked better, with some color on her cheeks and the last remaining snowflakes were gone too. For a moment he contemplated suggesting she take her jacket off, knowing it was probably damp and clammy and her sweater and pants might get dry sooner without the wet and cold leather, but he decided against it figuring she would probably balk at being told what to do – even if it was in her and the baby’s best interest. So, he returned his attention to the road and the worsening weather conditions. However, he was acutely aware of her gaze on him. “What?” He finally asked after a handful of minutes had passed.

“What you said earlier… at the cemetery,” she said hesitantly, as she smoothed her hands over her pants.

“C’mon Sam,” Jack said with a wry grin, his eyes finding hers. “You didn’t think there was a reason as to why Jona and Therra found each other? Or why I kept inviting you to come fishing with me at the cabin?” He waited with his heart thudding in her chest, wondering whether she really hadn’t known or was still hiding behind her military persona.

Carter blushed and he felt relief flooding through him. She glanced at her lap, wringing her hands and looking uncharacteristically nervous. “You… I wasn’t… Um, I didn’t know what to think. That memory stamp happened years ago, not long after that whole zatarc incident,” she muttered. “And you invited Daniel and Teal'c up to the cabin as well.”

“Appearances,” he said with a shrug. When she looked at him incredulously, he frowned before returning his eyes on the road. “Would you have accepted if I had only asked you? I knew Daniel probably wouldn’t say yes and Teal'c was doubtful, especially after his first time fishing but at least I had asked them too and if they were unavailable… well, that would have left the two of us, going fishing, as co-workers, friends if you will.”

“I had no idea.”

He felt his eyebrows climb up in spite of himself, surprised at her reply; was she that naïve or had he been that good at fooling everyone, including her? “About…?” He prodded as he changed the settings of the windshield wiper to maximum to combat the heavy snowfall that was trying to obscure his vision.

“Your motivation,” Carter admitted slowly after a moment of silence. She shifted in her seat, trying to get comfortable and continued when he chanced another glance in her direction. “I wasn’t sure whether I was ascribing my own reasoning to it while your intentions differed or if I read between the lines correctly.”

Jack would have thought it amusing if it wasn’t so damn ironic, considering they hardly ever needed words to communicate; most of the time when there were feelings involved they didn’t use words. “Oh?”

She averted her gaze when he looked at her and shrugged. “You stopped inviting me…”

“You were never gonna say yes, Sam,” he replied. It was true that he’d stopped asking, not willing to set himself up for another rejection and figuring it was for the best anyway as they had both been trying to create some distance. Heck, he’d needed it as much as she did; she had gone above and beyond with that whole Kinsey thing and then kinda snapped according to the guys when Jack had gotten stranded off-world with Maybourne of all people, while he had nearly watched her succumb to the DNA re-sequencing at Nirrti’s hand… Too many close calls that had made both of them all too aware of their closeness, or so he’d always thought. Then Skaara and all of Abydos had been lost, which had taken him some time to come to terms with. A little while later Daniel had come back to them, just without his memory and so Jack had focused on helping the archeologist regain his memories. And slowly but surely Carter had taken a few steps back as well…

“You don’t know that,” she said defensively.

He was slightly surprised at the vehemence in her words and quirked an eyebrow at her. “Appearances,” he reiterated.

“I needed…”

“I know,” Jack said as her voice trailed off. “Your career is important to you, I get that, I really do. Otherwise why would I have bothered keeping up appearances, eh? I know how easily a career can be ruined, especially for a woman if there’s even the appearance of fraternization.”

“No-”

He interrupted her without taking his eyes off the road. “Yes! I respect you and your career too much to endanger that, Sam. I thought you knew.” His own career would have suffered from it as well and in spite of his occasional irreverence he really did love the Air Force, so there were some rules even he wouldn’t bend. Fraternization in the form of a romantic relationship with a subordinate was one of them. There was too much at stake, not just for her but for him and someone in his position – as the SGC’s 2IC – too. Jack would have retired first before pursuing any kind of relationship with Carter but so far he hadn’t felt ready yet for retirement; he still felt needed and didn’t think she was ready – if she ever would be – for a relationship with him either. But now, with the baby on her way retirement sounded like a good choice; not just because Carter was his 2IC but also because, in hindsight, he had missed too much of Charlie’s life and he wasn’t going to let that happen again.

“No,” Carter repeated and he could see her shaking her head from the corner of his eye. “I meant that as long as you issued an invitation… I-I don’t know,” she stammered, blushing, “I thought it meant you still… cared.”

“And then I stopped,” Jack mused aloud as they neared Colorado Springs. Had he gone about this all wrong? “I didn’t stop caring, Sam.”

She didn’t acknowledge his last comment but sat up a little straighter. “Sir, where are you taking me?”

“My place,” he replied, taking the exit to his neighborhood and silently wondering why she had to start calling him ‘Sir’ again. “It’s snowing like crazy in case you hadn’t noticed and I don’t feel comfortable driving all the way to the other side of town in this weather when it’s getting dark.”

“But-”

“I have a perfectly fine guestroom and we still have a lot of talking to do,” he said with a vague gesture in the direction of her bump. “Besides, you don’t have your car so it’s not like you can get some groceries or whatever even if the roads weren’t such a mess.”

Carter muttered something incomprehensible under her breath but remained silent for the remainder of the drive and got out once he’d parked the truck in his driveway. The snow wasn’t too bad here as he had already cleared most of it yesterday and now there was just a thin white sheet on the asphalt and the path up to his door. He couldn’t help but notice the shudder racking Carter’s frame as she opened her car door to get out and quickly followed suit, figuring the sooner they were inside the better.

Jack opened the front door a few seconds later, ushering her inside first and closing the door behind himself. He shook his head wildly, trying to dispel all the accumulated snow from their brief moment outside from his hair and then shucked his winter coat and put it on a peg. “C’mon, let’s get this wet stuff off,” he encouraged Carter, trying to help her out of her jacket.

“Look, I don’t need-”

“What you need is to get these wet things off and take a hot shower before you’ll catch your death,” he said, interrupting her. When she rolled her eyes he took a step back, holding up his palms in a universal sign of surrender and focused on his boots. Fortunately the drive home had warmed his fingers considerably so he didn’t have too much trouble with his laces, although he would have preferred just slipping them off like he would his snow boots. Of course, in his hurry to catch up with Carter earlier today he hadn’t taken the time to take off his BDU pants or military boots and instead had changed his shirt and jacket for a sweater and his coat. At the memory of her escape from base and in particular her avoidance of him and just her general behavior from the past two days he could feel his hackles start to rise and his anger slowly bubbled to the surface…

But now was not the time; they could yell and argue once she was warm and dressed in dry clothes. It was that darn protective streak he pretended not to have. Right now it demanded she was safe and not hypothermic before they could continue their argument. Besides, it would be better for the baby too if Carter’s body didn’t have to work overtime to keep her warm and healthy. When Jack finally pulled his boots off and looked up he could feel his anger melt away like the snow on his boots… She was just looking so damn pitiful in her soaked socks and wet-stained pants and sweater. Not to mention her hair.

“Sir?”

He was tempted to tell her to call him by his name considering he’d just confessed to being in love with her but figured it would be a waste of time and energy, so he just grabbed her by the shoulders and steered her towards the bathroom. “You go take a nice hot shower while I’ll make us something warm to eat. I’ll get some towels and sweats for you and you can just toss out your wet clothes for me to put in the dryer,” he concluded before disappearing into his bedroom to retrieve the things he’d promised. By the time he’d found something that he hoped would fit her he could hear the shower was already turned on. “C-Sam, I’m putting your stuff in front of the door,” he yelled after knocking on the bathroom door.

Jack figured if he kept calling her by her given name she might just return the favor at some point, or at least forget for a moment that he was technically still her CO. For the time being at least. He’d told her there was no going back on the same team after this, no matter which choice she would make and he could only hope she had finally realized and accepted that too. If he remained on SG-1 and as Hammond’s 2IC then she would be transferred elsewhere, probably to the labs considering her genius and the current state of the universe… but he wasn’t sure if he could go back to seeing her every day if she aborted their baby. Not to mention how everything from the SGC to their allies would remind him of what had been done to them by this Freyja.

Retirement certainly had its benefits and who knew, maybe he was ready for it, even if he wouldn’t get his daughter. It might be the best option for him. Especially if Hammond or Fraiser thought he would need counseling to deal with losing yet another child because he could clearly remember the tremendous success that had been after Charlie’s death… Hadn’t Carter mentioned that MacKenzie was already in the know, in case she wanted to talk? Then the guy would probably hound him until he would agree to a sit-down. Jack had no doubt he could win out of sheer stubbornness but of course that would be a moot point if MacKenzie or Fraiser convinced Hammond he was mentally unfit for duty until either of them had cleared him. And considering he already had one strike against him after his son died… well, like he said; retirement had its benefits.

As he moved through the kitchen Jack started making some soup and two omelets, remembering just in time that his secret ingredient wouldn’t be good for the baby. His thoughts went back to Carter’s arguments at the cemetery as he stood behind the stove, waiting for her to join him. He had always known her career was important to her and how hard she worked at the SGC, having been responsible for kicking her out of her lab after midnight on more than one occasion, but he had to admit he had never really thought about what she’d done prior to arriving at the SGC. Well, not after he’d checked out her file and got to see her in action, having gotten to know everything he needed to be able to work with her in the field. Of course he had been impressed by the spotless record and academic achievements at her rank and age, but he’d always ascribed it to her genius and how driven and enthusiastic she always seemed to be. The same went for the by-the-book officer she was, or so he had assumed in the beginning; he’d quickly learned that she was willing to break some rules if the fate of the planet was at stake.

It saddened him to know that would all change the moment news of the pregnancy would break; her reputation would never be the same again. Jack wasn’t stupid and he knew there had been rumors about him and Carter for the past, oh, seven years or so and there were even people who suspected she was or had been involved with Daniel and Teal'c and… well, basically there would always be people who begrudged others their success and they would think the worst of someone like Carter – he really didn’t want to think too much about the rumors about SG-1 and Carter’s role in it. But most people he knew didn’t believe those things and knew what an asset she was in the field, having seen her in action at one point or another. However, news of the pregnancy would change all that. She would be transferred off the team anyway, which would undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows and more than some questions.

Maybe Hammond could make it look like she was needed – which she really was, in a way – to help focus on weapons and other technology to defend themselves against Anubis, his Super Soldiers, the Replicators and every other power megalomaniac bent on galactic domination. Jack knew people would think whatever they liked but in this case it would seem like Carter was being punished for something, especially if she was transferred to the labs. She had been right in that respect; it wasn’t fair on her.

He was startled from his thoughts when he heard footsteps coming his way and quickly turned off the stove. “How was your…”

“I hope you don’t mind but I grabbed a different shirt and your robe,” Carter said shyly when his voice trailed off and he simply stared at her.

“No, of course,” Jack said quickly, tearing his eyes away from her to focus on the food instead. He had just grabbed the smallest pair of sweatpants he had plus an old Air Force sweater, but now she was wearing his bathrobe over said sweatpants and one of his long sleeve button-up shirts. The robe’s sash was tied just around her waist, emphasizing her small bump. With her skin pinked from the shower and her hair combed back she looked so… right. Here, in his home, wearing his clothes and carrying his baby. “Um, I made soup and omelets.”

They ate in silence and afterwards Carter went to put her clothes in the dryer, probably thinking it would be inappropriate for him to handle them or something, but Jack didn’t mind. It gave him a moment to think of how to proceed here. Clearly he had gone about it wrong; well, not entirely as some of the things he’d said she needed to hear but since admitting his true feelings for her they had actually talked. Carried on more of a conversation and they had both listened. Granted, he seemed to have done most of the talking but he already knew there was no going back for him anyway; might as well throw everything out there because he had nothing to lose and would submit a request for retirement within a few days, he had decided.

“Sam,” Jack called out from the living room when she appeared in the kitchen. “I think we should, er, talk.”

“Sir, quite frankly I’m tired, exhausted even,” she replied with an apologetic look.

He could tell she looked tired too and nodded. “I know… the briefing this morning was a lot to take in and then I came by your house and we ended up fighting,” he said. “And well, we basically continued that at the cemetery. But we didn’t really talk.”

She plopped down on the sofa and sighed. “I don’t know what there’s left to say, Sir. I appreciate your, um, honesty in the car but-”

“You appreciate my honesty?” Jack parroted, incredulous. That was it? She had clearly indicated there were still feelings on her side too but she was just going to ignore that? “As in thanks but no thanks?”

“I didn’t mean it like that, Si-”

“Ack! Stop ‘Sir’-ing me, Sam!”

She frowned and seemed ready to jump up again but then he lowered himself on the coffee table opposite her. “I told you before that our ranks do matter in this situation.”

“And I thought I made it pretty clear that one way or another we’re not going back to the same team, right?” Jack questioned and, when she nodded, he continued. “So, with you on leave and the rest of SG-1 on downtime there really isn’t much commanding to do for me.”

“But we’re still in the same chain of command,” she oh so helpfully reminded him. “Even if I am reassigned to work in the labs… for now,” she hastened to add, gesturing at her abdomen. “You’re still General Hammond’s 2IC.”

He rubbed his eyes tiredly and sighed. “Yes,” he said slowly, “but Jack wants to talk to Sam.”

“What?”

“Jack,” he repeated, tapping his chest, “wants to talk to Sam. Since you’ve found out about the pregnancy you’ve been rationalizing everything and approaching your ‘condition’ and ‘the fetus’ in your scientific manner, Doctor Carter. This morning and afternoon I’ve spoken to Major Carter… now I want to talk to you, Sam,” he said, pointing in her direction.

She looked utterly confused and a bit abashed when she spoke again. “I’m not sure I understand…”

“… Jack,” he helpfully supplied.

That at least got a smile from her and she nodded. “Yes… Jack.”

“I’m saying that I want to know how Sam feels about all this, not Doctor or Major Carter.”

“But I am Major Doctor Sam Carter,” she replied.

He sighed, wondering how she could be so… obtuse for someone so smart. “Fine, I’m asking Samantha, the woman.”

“Look, Jack, I’m not sure I understand what you want from me,” she said in a confused and impatient tone, jumping up to pace in front of the fireplace. “Without the doctor or major there isn’t much Sam left. There aren’t three personalities inside of me; it’s one package, Major Doctor Samantha Carter.”

Jack was watching her and suddenly the pieces started falling into place. She really didn’t think there was anything to her without her titles, without her military and scientific career! He had never realized how much she identified herself by her rank or academic title, simply because she wasn’t one to insist everyone refer to her by them or brag about her accomplishments and genius mind. But now her strong reaction this afternoon at the cemetery made sense; she had worked towards her goals since she was a kid and, as a military brat, probably didn’t know anything outside of the military.

Her scientific career had been pursued alongside her military achievements and, come to think of it, she didn’t really have many – if any – friends outside of the SGC. Not that his social schedule was overflowing or anything but considering Jacob’s career they had probably moved around a lot when she was young, then she had lost her mother and decided to join the Air Force herself, all of which made long-lasting friendships difficult to maintain. Even her former fiancé had been military…

“I know you don’t have three personalities, Sam,” he replied. “I’m just trying to get you to talk to me about what you want. Not what you think is strategically best for you or what is needed for you to stay on your career path; frankly, Major Carter is already screwed by this and I think we both know it.”

“What? No, that’s not-”

“But it is true, Sam!” Jack argued, raising his voice. “You know the truth about the pregnancy is going to come out anyway, too many people know about it already. Or have you forgotten that Nyan is still translating Freyja’s files on us at Area 51 or that MacKenzie is still patiently waiting for you to drop by? If you go ahead with the abortion it will go into your medical file and the wrong people will find out. You can’t expect everyone to bury the evidence! It’s too big for that, especially if Thor or one of the other Asgard drops by the White House to apologize for the inconvenience one of their own caused for the two of us, for crying out loud!”

Carter was shaking her head, wringing her hands in the robe as she paced up and down. “But if there’s no baby then-”

“Then it will look even more like a cover-up,” he argued. “There are notes aboard Freyja’s ship that clearly state that you’re carrying our baby. If you think getting rid of her will magically make it all go away then you’re mistaken, Sam! Once Nyan has submitted his findings everyone will know and DNA tests can still be done after the abortion on the baby’s tissue to proof paternity. That, combined with your reassignment and our strained working relationship will have everyone thinking we had some kind of affair that blew up in our face.”

“I can’t believe this,” she muttered. “How can not having my commanding officer’s baby possibly be worse than having it?”

Jack gasped, feeling like she’d slapped him in the face. “For Christ’s sake, Sam; this is about you and me and our daughter. Not about how it will reflect on your career. Yeah, Freyja screwed ya over and now we’re dealing with the fallout. But you can’t honestly tell me that deep down you didn’t already know this. You of all people would know the impact this has on your career; you’re a freaking genius and you told me yourself that you’ve always made sure to keep your distance because you knew all about how appearances could ruin your reputation. No, it isn’t fair and people without clearance will speculate that you’ve slept with your CO and that you’re being reassigned because of it, but it’s time to stop living in denial, damn it!”

“But-”

“No buts,” he interrupted, closing the distance between them and grabbing her by the shoulders. “Major Carter is screwed either way; but what do you, Samantha, want? It’s time to stop putting your career first and consider yourself for a moment. You’re more than just an Air Force officer or a brilliant scientist, Sam and I don’t know how you can’t see that. Do you really think people only like you because you’re smart or can wield a P90?” Jack could almost feel his heart break a little for her. “Yes, you’re smart, a pretty good shot and can blow stuff up like no one I’ve ever met,” he said, squeezing her shoulder and returning her watery grin. “But you’re also nice, friendly, caring, funny, sympathetic, and loyal and you have a smile that can light up a room… need I go on?”

Carter shook her head and dipped her chin. “I don’t know… How could I ever be a good mother? I don’t know the first thing about parenting and my first thoughts upon hearing I was pregnant were how to undo this… I’ve seen what my dad was like when I was a kid and I never really thought it was possible to combine a military career with a family. Dad was hardly ever around and after Mom died he just worked more and he encouraged me to be ambitious too.” She paused her ramble to let out a mirthless chuckle and ran a hand through her hair. “I hardly know how to have a hobby outside of my work, how could I possibly have a baby? You know that I had a bad relationship with my dad prior to Selmak and it was the same with my brother. Now it’s a bit better but still mostly shallow and superficial because it’s not like I can actually tell Mark what I do for a living and I don’t have much chitchat about a social life to share either. I hardly date and you’ve met Jonas… well, let’s just say I don’t have the best history with long and personal relationships. Hell, my relationships with you, Daniel and Teal'c are the longest and closest I’ve ever had!”

“Relax, it’s okay. C’mere,” Jack said reassuringly when she finally ran out of steam. Then he wrapped his arms around her and rested his face in the crook of her neck. He could feel the tension in her slowly fade as she hugged him back. “You’re just scared, Sam. That’s perfectly normal. But don’t make hasty decisions.”

“Scared?” She questioned, her broken voice muffled against his shoulder. “I’m terrified. I don’t know if I can do this, or if I even want to.”

He tightened his grip on her and pulled her even closer, until she was flush against him. One of his hands rubbed over her back in what he hoped was a soothing gesture and he just let her voice her fears and muse aloud. It was tempting to jump in and say he’d be there for her but he knew that wasn’t what she needed. He had already made it clear he wanted her to have the baby and that he loved her, but she had yet to return in kind for either statement and it was time for her to really think about what she wanted, without his arguments. Right now she just needed to let go and be Sam for a while, without worrying that someone might judge her or what it would look like for her to be sniffling in her CO’s arms.

Wait, was that…? Jack tensed for a moment, waiting to see what was going on and then he felt it again; the unmistakable touch of her cold nose rubbing against his neck, slowly followed by the press of soft lips against his skin. Oh god, what was she doing? “Sam?” He pulled back, expecting to see a devastated Carter with red, watery eyes and a sniffling nose but instead two clear yet intense blue eyes were looking back at him with a shy smile. Trailing his hand down her cheek he gently grabbed her chin to tip it up and agonizingly slowly brought his lips closer to hers, until they were touching. The first contact was feather light but then the pressure increased and he felt her soft lips move against his.

She tasted just like he remembered from that stolen kiss years ago and he couldn’t help but intensify it, his tongue tracing the outline of her lower lip until she opened her mouth and he could slip it inside. Hers was hesitant against his, almost submissive and he didn’t want that; didn’t want any reminders of their unequal working relationship, he just wanted to be Jack kissing Sam. Moving his hand to cup the back of her head Jack pulled her impossibly closer, pressing his lips harder against hers while simultaneously withdrawing his tongue into his own mouth. Soon hers followed, the tip curiously exploring along his teeth and gums before it slowly tangled with his tongue.

Then, before he could fully enjoy it Carter pulled back and looked at him with dazed eyes, her lips swollen and glistening from their kiss. “Jack,” she breathed heavily, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

 

Chapter Text

O'Neill Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 5, 2004

Sam was breathless after their intense kiss and had a tough time keeping her desires under control, but she didn't want to lead him on. Her fingers flexed against the back of his neck, itching to slide back into his hair to pull him close again and resume the kissing. However, she was afraid that he would hate her and feel betrayed if they continued their intimate caresses only to find out this didn't mean he had convinced her to keep the baby. The abortion was still in the back of her mind and while their conversation had given her food for thought, she hadn't been swayed entirely. It was true that she needed to decide what it was she wanted and not what she thought was expected of her or required to do to further her career; she realized now that her military career had already been affected by this and the impact couldn't be undone no matter which choice she made.

His confession of love had touched something inside of her too and she felt incredibly drawn to him, knowing he still loved and desired her. Yet, she was also acutely aware of the timing of his confession and the reason he had said anything at all; the pregnancy. If he had been anyone else she would have thought it manipulative but knowing how rarely Jack O'Neill expressed his affection, let alone admit to any deeper feelings, she wanted to believe he was telling her the truth. After all, the last time it had taken the threat of a brain autopsy to get him to admit to caring for her so it wasn't that far-fetched that the threat of aborting the pregnancy would have a similar effect, right? She also feared he might walk away and never look back if she was the one responsible for making him lose another child…

The Co- Jack's hand caressed her cheek and he kept a hold on her chin, his thumb slowly stroking her bottom lip as he looked her in the eye. "Sam…"

"I don't want you to think th-"

"Shh," he hushed her, his soft breath making her sensitive lips tingle.

Resting her forehead against his Sam briefly closed her eyes and took a steeling breath, knowing he had to know the truth before they took this any further. "Bu-"

"No more thinking," Jack said, placing his fingers on her lips to stop her from speaking. "Just…" He leaned in, removing his fingers and gently tasting her lips again with his, "feel, Samantha."

She gasped when his free hand settled in the small of her back and pulled her flush against him, their breaths mingling in the few inches between their faces and being pressed up against him this closely she could tell he really did want her. His eyes had become impossibly dark, his breathing was as heavy as hers and there was an almost tentative grin tugging at his lips. Sam felt herself returning it, before it grew into a breathless smile on her face when his arm tightened around her and, after placing her hand on his panting chest, she could feel his heart racing under her palm. Jack's unique scent filled her nostrils and she inhaled it greedily instead of turning away like she had trained herself to do over the years.

A short huff of breath touched her lips when he smirked at her reaction, quickly followed by him slowly moving closer with his gaze flickering between her mouth and eyes. She was mesmerized by his dark and almost feral look and being so close to him that she could almost taste him… and then she did, his mouth having found hers again. Sam reacted instinctively, her lips moving against his in a leisurely manner as if she hadn't been dreaming about kissing him for years, waiting for a moment such as this when she could ignore that little voice in her head telling her this was wrong. Sliding her hand up his neck into his hair she pulled him closer, intensifying the kiss as her other hand bunched his sweater to ensure he wasn't going anywhere.

Jack growled low in his throat before inserting his tongue into her mouth, igniting the desire for him she had kept bottled up for so long. Sam met him stroke for stroke, completely caught up in the moment with her blood rushing through her veins. Her heart was pounding and suddenly she could feel his arousal pressing against her when he swiftly untied and opened her robe one-handed, but it wasn't enough for her. She needed more so she abandoned his hair and chest, her hands blindly finding the hem of his sweater and pulling it up. Sam broke off the kiss to divest him of his shirt, giggling softly when he made a noise of protest against separating until he realized her intention.

"Oh," he mumbled as she pulled the sweater over his head. To her annoyance he was wearing a shirt underneath it but Jack beat her to it by yanking it off in a nanosecond. Her robe quickly followed and he had roughly pulled her back in his arms before it even pooled at her feet. "Okay?"

Instead of verbally replying she responded by putting her arms around his neck and pulling him down for another kiss, her tongue immediately delving between his lips to taste and explore. His reaction was to tighten his hold on her until there was not even a sliver of space between their bodies and responding eagerly to the invasion in his mouth with his own tongue, tangling it with hers. Passion flared up inside of her as her aching breasts pressed against his toned chest, his bare skin warm and welcoming with its heat seeping through the long-sleeved shirt she was wearing.

Sam moaned in approval when his warm hands slipped inside of her sweatpants, cupping and squeezing her rear and pulling her harder against his body. His erection was poking her lower abdomen insistently, just underneath the swell of her bump and she had to admit to herself it was a welcome pressure against her otherwise sensitive skin. Some days just the fabric of her shirt or pants would be too much on her bump or breasts but feeling his arousal pressing against her elicited a small thrill up her spine. It simply felt right.

"Whoa," she muttered, breaking off the kiss, when he suddenly pulled her sweatpants down and cold air hit her bare legs. But before she could complain Jack lifted her off the floor and she quickly wrapped her legs around his waist. With where his hands were and the intimate position she now found herself in – all wrapped around Jack O'Neill – she suddenly wasn't cold anymore and protesting was the last thing on her mind, Sam decided as she took her opportunity and started nuzzling that tanned neck of his.

"Oh God, you better stop," he hissed when she nipped on the skin, "or I might drop you."

Sam smiled against his neck, tightening her arms and legs around him just in case as he walked up the steps and down the hallway leading to the bedroom. "You wouldn't dare," she replied in a husky tone and emphasized her point by pressing a kiss on his skin. Undeterred by the soft growl this elicited from him she gently brushed her lips up and down the tanned column, licking and nipping at his pulse point, jugular and tendons until her world suddenly tilted and she lying on the bed, with Jack hovering above her.

"Tsk tsk, Samantha Carter," he scolded playfully, "smiling in the face of danger! You're a real daredevil aren't ya?" With a grin he leaned on the mattress and bent down to kiss her, his lips touching hers briefly before quickly pulling his head back as she tried to return the kiss. Then he did it again and again, smirking as she reached up to follow his lips. Suddenly he stood up again and started unbuttoning his pants, all the while holding her gaze with smoldering eyes.

Breathlessly she watched him as he undid his zipper and pulled the BDU pants and his boxers down his toned legs. Sam bit her lip in anticipation as he straightened up and then she got her first good look at a naked Jack O'Neill. Oh, her imagination had not done him justice! She briefly wondered how the heck he got an all-over tan as she gave him a thorough onceover, starting with his calves and up his long legs – which were muscular but not overly so – before letting her gaze rest on his groin. He was almost fully erect and impressive, with dark and silver wiry hair around his cock and leading up to his navel in a thin and seductive trail.

"Crunches," he joked, and if he hadn't already known what she was really looking at her immediate blush betrayed her. "I think you're overdressed, Sam."

She shrieked when he quickly and completely unexpectedly grabbed her ankles and pulled her down the mattress, towards him. "Jack!"

He waggled his brows at her as she laughed and then lifted her legs higher as he rested his own knee on the bed between hers and slowly started pulling off one sock. "Don't worry," he said, looking into her eyes with a heated gaze and smirked before returning his attention to her foot, "I'm slowly working my way up."

Normally Sam wasn't entirely comfortable to be in such a position and would feel too vulnerable to be lying there, basically opened up with her legs spread and wearing nothing but her skimpy panties to cover her intimate parts, especially for a first time with a guy. But while she had initially tensed as he lifted her ankles higher, she quickly relaxed as Jack seemed to fully concentrate on toeing off her socks and wasn't ogling or leering at her, instead he was much more lighthearted and playful than she had expected whenever she imagined what it would be like to be with him. Then again, she wasn't really feeling as uncomfortable in a bedroom with her naked CO standing between her legs as she had always expected either…

Jack tossed one of her socks over his shoulder and pressed a soft kiss on her ankle, grinning madly when she gasped loudly. "Sensitive spot, eh?" Holding her gaze he leaned in again and pressed another kiss in the exact same spot but this time he let his tongue dart out to caress the sensitive skin.

Sam felt a jolt of pleasure run up her leg at the touch and let out a deep sigh when he lowered her leg back down to rest on the mattress next to his thigh. If it was possible he seemed to be focusing even more intently on slowly toeing off her other sock with the thumb of the hand holding her ankle gently brushing over the identical spot. She knew he could tell she'd tensed up from the devilish look he sent her as her sock went flying to join its twin.

"Relax, Samantha," he murmured with his lips against her skin.

Despite herself she held her breath again as his lips moved over the sensitive area of her ankle and Sam found herself gripping the bed's cover as he took his time, licking and nipping gently on the skin. "Jaaack," she whined softly and poked his toned chest with her free foot, although she wasn't sure if she wanted him to stop or continue… God, she might die of unfulfilled desire before they would even get to the really good part if he kept up this pace! Taking matters into her own hands she leaned up to quickly rid herself of the shirt she'd been wearing.

"That's… whoa," he mumbled, his eyes moving up her legs and over her panties to stare at her abdomen and bra-clad breasts. Visibly shaking himself he moved his smoldering gaze up to look her in the face, his smile almost shy and it was accompanied by a definite blush on his cheeks. He cleared his throat and mockingly glared at her. "That's, um, cheating."

Returning his smile tentatively Sam was acutely aware of his lingering gaze on her torso and for the first time in a long time she felt insecure about her body. She had always been fit and mostly satisfied with her figure but since the pregnancy it had changed and what he was looking at wasn't the body she'd had for the past seven years. He would have expected to see some of the scars she had collected over the years but the bump had changed her usually flat stomach and slim waist. Of course he'd known about it but so far it had been covered and mostly hidden by her shirts, and it had grown quite a bit since the last time he'd paid a significant amount of attention to it. Not to mention her unflattering underwear; if she had known this was going to happen she would have chosen something a bit sexier than the regular cotton panties and simple bra, or at least a bra in which her swollen breasts fit properly.

Jack looked up at her with a look in his eyes she couldn't quite place and then slowly but surely slid his warm hand up her leg. He briefly but gently stroked her knee before skimming up her thigh and eventually laid his hand on her hip. Lowering his head he gazed at where his hand was resting and moved it to lightly brush over her bump, circling her navel with a smirk on his face and then trailed his fingers up in a feather-light touch. A shiver ran through her when the callused pad of his index finger ran over the sensitive skin of the valley between her breasts and a tingle shot down to her center when he purposely brushed his finger along the inside of her breast. "You're beautiful," he complimented her as his fingernails caressed her neck, "Samantha Carter."

"So are you," she said in a throaty voice, licking her lips. Reaching out she snaked her hands around his neck and pulled him down, catching his lips with hers in a passionate kiss. Their tongues tangled and she moaned at the taste of him. His arm slipped around her waist and suddenly he lifted her and she clutched at his back to ease the task of moving her up on the bed until he lowered her on the mattress again and she cradled him between her thighs. As their kiss came to an end, both of them panting, she rested her head on the covers, overcome with emotion and sensation at the feel of him atop of her, skin on skin with her underwear being the only barrier between them.

"God Sam," Jack whispered, his forehead lowered onto her shoulder.

His harsh breaths against her neck sent her nerve ends on fire and she could feel a shudder running through him as she roamed his back with her hands, exploring the strong muscles covered by smooth tanned skin. "Oh," she gasped when his lips suddenly latched onto her neck, his five o'clock shadow intensifying the sensations as his face brushed against her skin. Her core temperature skyrocketed when his hands stopped being idle and started stroking her side, starting at her hip just above her panties and stopping when he reached her bra. Sam needed more, though and arched her back to push her front against him.

There was a soft clang when their dog tags pressed together but before she could react Jack's hand slipped between them and pulled her tags over her head before discarding his own, tossing both chains to the side. His eyes found hers and he gave her a crooked smile. "Just you and me," he murmured, before capturing her lips again. "No ranks," he added between kisses.

Sam was too breathless to respond verbally but agreed entirely and was pleasantly surprised by his actions. Tightening her arms around him she pulled him closer against her body, yearning for more contact and impatient for more. "Jack," she moaned when his mouth moved down her cheek, rotating her hips against him.

He growled in her neck and ground his erection against her. Then he lifted his torso up with his hands on the bed, looking down at her face with a wolfish grin and dark eyes. Jack pressed a brief kiss on her lips before moving lower and held himself up on one arm. His other hand traced her collarbone and found its way to the swell of her breast, gently caressing it. "So beautiful."

"More," she encouraged him, arching her back to bring her chest up.

Grinning, he seemed only too eager to oblige and cupped her breast, brushing his thumb over her already erect nipple. Jack's mouth retraced the path his fingers had made and then his tongue ran over her sensitive skin, eliciting goose bumps.

Without hesitation Sam slipped her hand back up his neck and rested it on the back of his head, using it to steer his mouth to her aching breast. Her breath faltered when his lips closed over her covered nipple, his hot tongue wetting the cotton of her bra. "Please…"

"Shh," he hushed her and pulled down the fabric to expose the swollen mound to his gaze.

"Oh God," she moaned at the touch as he took as much of her breast as he could into his mouth. "Don't stop!" Sam panted, keeping his head firmly in place with her hand, while her free hand ran down to his rear.

Jack bucked against her when her nails sank into his flesh and she could hear and feel his muffled groan, the vibration causing tendrils of pleasure in her breast. "Evil," he muttered as he glanced up at her, but he still smiled and one his hands slipped underneath her and undid the clasp of her bra. "Gorgeous."

Sam flushed at the compliment as he pulled off the restraining bra and immediately sought out her other breast. Tightening her legs around him she tried to grind herself against his erection but he shifted, clearly wanting to take his time. It surprised her, as she had expected him to undress them to get inside of her as quickly as possible. He certainly wouldn't be the first guy to rush things along in the heat of the moment but, God, she was grateful for his slow torture. Her body was on fire under his skillful hands and mouth and just the anticipation of what else was to come had her growing wetter by the second.

"Hmm, Samantha," he murmured, releasing her nipple with a soft plop and looking up at her face. His hand came up to cover her heavy breast, kneading it gently but insistently as the cold air hit her wet skin. Suddenly he moved one of his legs over hers and stretched out beside her.

She blinked at him, dazed by arousal. "Jack," she whispered in a hoarse tone, wondering why he was putting the brakes on it when she could clearly feel how aroused he was. Trying to encourage him she slipped her feet around the leg still lying between hers and burrowed closer into his chest. She raised her hand and fingered the smattering of silver chest hairs, gently tugging on them.

He chuckled and tipped up her chin to kiss her. "You tease…"

Glancing down she stared at his chest for a moment, circling one of his brown areolae. "No," Sam shook her head and brushed her thumb over his taut nipple, before glancing up into his dark eyes. "I'm not teasing. I want you, Jack."

Heat flared in his eyes and he closed the distance between them immediately, his hungry kiss almost bruising her lips and his tongue forcefully working its way into her mouth before she could even react. Then he gently pushed her on her back again without breaking the kiss. His hand resumed its caressing but soon found its way down her abdomen and, using his knee, he spread her legs a bit more to slip his hand between her thighs.

She welcomed the passionate assault on her mouth but squirmed against his hand as his fingers brushed over the crotch of her panties. The fabric was soaked and she was slightly embarrassed by her arousal but Jack didn't seem to mind as he stroked her firmly, the rough wet cotton heightening the sensations as it rubbed over her sensitive flesh. "Oh, don't stop," she moaned when his mouth broke off and his lips trailed down her cheek.

Jack, however, seemed to have a plan of his own and started working his way down her body with his mouth, while his fingers intensified their caresses. As his lips trailed down her chest, softly nipping at her full breasts before his tongue eased the erotic assault, he spread her legs wider with his hand and rolled back atop of her.

Cradling his weight between her thighs Sam just lay back on the bed, enjoying his caresses with her hands on his neck and grinding her hips against him. His erection was pressed against her, hard and throbbing insistently and she was once again amazed by his patience. She knew he was more than ready and could feel his pre-cum on her thigh but yet he was holding back and taking his time, almost as if he wanted this to last. It wasn't until he was pressing soft kisses on her stomach and his hand went from stroking her through her underwear to her hip and started tugging her panties down that she realized his intent. "Jack, you don't have to…"

"But I want to," he said in a confident voice, looking up with nothing but desire and adoration in his eyes.

The strength of his emotions hit her in full force and for a moment she just lay there, while he pressed a kiss on her bump before sliding her underwear down her legs. He gently parted her thighs to reveal her to his eyes and instead of her usual discomfort, Sam felt safe and wanted as he slid down on the bed. "Are you sure?" She asked, knowing from experience – albeit limited – that many men performed oral sex more out of obligation rather than out of desire.

"I want to," Jack reiterated, with his hands under her knees. Then he slowly started kissing his way up her thighs, licking and nipping at her sensitive skin until he reached the apex of her thighs.

Sam gasped when she felt his breath on her center, fisting his hair as his fingers moved to expose her flesh. Her eyes fluttered closed when his lips descended on her and she nearly came from the touch of his tongue alone. "Oh God," she murmured, spreading her legs wider to allow him as much access as he wanted. With all the foreplay it didn't take long until she could feel tingling spreading out from her core down her legs and shamelessly pulled his head closer.

He nipped and sucked at her aroused flesh, his tongue circling her clit and even dipping inside of her every now and then. She blushed when she felt herself gush at his caresses but he simply licked up her juices and hummed, the vibrations intensifying the quickly building orgasm inside of her. When his lips closed around her clit she bucked off the bed, pressing herself against his face and he growled in response. His tongue immediately started working her sensitive bundle of nerves and suddenly he inserted a finger in her opening, quickly joined by another.

Panting she arched her back and clamped her knees around his shoulders as he moved his fingers inside of her. "Jack," she gasped, screwing her eyes closed as she came, hard. "Oh, God… wow."

Jack chuckled as he let her ride out her orgasm and gently extricated herself from her legs, his fingers still stroking her swollen flesh. He brushed his lips on her abdomen in the meantime, kissing her sensitive bump every now and then. "You okay?" He asked smugly after a minute or so had passed.

Sam tugged on his hair to get him to move closer and kissed him as soon as his mouth was within reach. "That was amazing," she whispered against his lips. Pulling him down with her she waited until he'd settled his frame atop of her to roam his back. She enjoyed the way his muscles tensed under her hands before they relaxed again, but quickly slid them lower to squeeze his rear.

He groaned in reply, his head resting in the crook of her neck and ground against her. His cock throbbed against her thigh as his own hand moved up to knead her breast. "Sam…"

She smiled at the way he murmured her name and pressed a kiss to his temple, not surprised at the salty taste of his skin. With the self-restraint he'd been showing it wasn't strange he was sweating and it only endeared him more to her. Feeling his insistent erection prodding her she slid a hand down his hip and to his front, slipping between their heated bodies to grasp him.

"Ohh," Jack moaned, burrowing his face closer and nibbling on the skin of her neck. "You better be careful there…"

Giggling she poked him in the side with her free hand. "Jack, please. Stop teasing, I want you," she said, locking gazes when he looked up at her. "Inside of me, now," she added, tightening her grip on him.

He flashed her a smirk and slipped a hand under her knee, opening her up for him and then let her guide him into her opening.

"Oh, that feels…" Sam gasped as he slowly slid inside of her, stretching her. "… really good."

"Feels," Jack said as he tensed his muscles and thrust completely inside of her, "right, Samantha."

She lost the ability to speak as he filled her and simply nodded in agreement, clutching at his back with her nails. When he withdrew she emitted a sound of protest from low in her throat, using her calves to urge him to move deeper inside of her. He got the hint and plunged back in before sliding out almost completely again. Soon, they had established a rhythm with him moving hard and fast inside of her, and she clenched her inner muscles around him when he was buried deep within her. Turning her face into his shoulder she panted against his neck as her second orgasm started building and she could feel him start to lose control, his movements getting jerky. "More," she urged him, moving her hands to his ass to pull him in deeper and digging her nails into his skin.

"Sam," he muttered, sliding his hands under her back. Grasping her shoulders he used them as leverage and started thrusting into her erratically, until his entire frame tensed and he came inside of her.

She welcomed his orgasm in her body and tightened her legs around his waist and ground herself against him, rubbing her clit against his pelvis until she too reached her climax.


Jack awoke a few hours later, his arms tightly wrapped around Samantha Carter and their bare legs entangled. He scrubbed a hand over his face, still unable to believe they had actually finally made love. Well, he had made love; he wasn't sure what it had been for her, as she had never spoken the words. But he doubted it was mere attraction and pregnancy hormones that had her writhing underneath him in pleasure…

She was still fast asleep and considering how tired and exhausted she had looked today and most of the week, actually, he wasn't at all surprised. Looking down at her face, peaceful in sleep, he brushed her bangs away from her forehead and caressed her cheek. She really was beautiful and he wasn't sure if there was ever anything she – or he, for that matter – could do to make him stop loving her, but he did know that he had to leave if she aborted their daughter. Fate was cruel, he had recognized that many years ago but never had he imagined that his second chance at fatherhood could be taken away from him by the woman he loved. Still, love alone wasn't enough to keep him here, working with her at the SGC on a daily basis.

He knew his confession of love had been ill timed and that it could have worked against him rather than in his favor, but he figured even Carter was aware that it would take something like this to have him even contemplate the possibility of admitting his feelings to her. Normally there was too much at stake and this time he'd taken a chance, by putting everything on the line in the hopes of making her reconsider.

His biggest fear was that he'd failed.

She had even protested at taking it further after initiating the kiss herself and he was pretty sure he knew why. But, selfishly, Jack had wanted at least one night with her. If showing her how much he loved her wasn't enough to change her mind then at least he would always have the memory and they would have had a proper goodbye. Still, he was worried that maybe he'd taken advantage of her weakened emotional state and he knew her pregnancy hormones could have contribute to her decision…

A glance at the alarm clock told him it was in the early hours of the morning, dawn visible through the window and he was surprised at how long he'd slept considering his issues. Then again, the past two days had taken an emotional toll on him as well. He was even lying on the wrong side of the bed, remembering from when Sara had been pregnant that it was best for a pregnant woman to lie on her left side and that snuggling up together had often proven a comfortable position.

Disentangling himself from Carter with a deep sigh Jack pushed the covers down to their hips and gently rolled her on her back. He rubbed one over her small bump before grabbing the hem of the long-sleeved shirt she had pulled on again their lovemaking and pulling it up to uncover her abdomen. A quick check showed she was still sound asleep, so he slid down on the bed until he was eye-level with her navel.

"Hey baby," he whispered, resting his cheek on Carter's bump. "I don't know if you can hear me…" he paused, frowning to himself, "… or if you even have ears yet, but I wanted to tell you that your daddy loves you very much."

Jack swallowed hard and rubbed his eyes as he tried to figure out what to say. "I think mommy likes you but is too scared to admit it, even to herself. I've seen the way she cradles her bump or puts a protective hand on it without her even being aware of it." He blinked against the tears welling up in his eyes and caressed Carter's stretched skin absentmindedly. "It's just that, well, I don't know what she's going to do but I'm afraid we'll never get to meet, sweetie."

He stilled when Carter suddenly moved but looking up he was sure she was still asleep as her hand came to rest on her abdomen, rubbing the swell of her bump in her sleep and he wondered if the baby was moving. Picking up her hand he raised it to his lips and pressed a soft kiss on it before placing it back on the mattress. Then he gently placed his own hand at the exact same spot of her abdomen and pressed slightly until Carter stopped moving in her sleep.

Taking a deep breath Jack wiped away a stray tear and put his head back down. "So, I think this is…" His voice trailed off when he felt movement under his hand and after pushing back, he felt a responding kick. He swallowed against the lump in his throat and leaned over to kiss the bump. "I guess this is goodbye, Gracie."

After the kiss he slipped out of the bed and blindly started looking for his discarded clothes. In the end he gave up as he wiped his eyes and grabbed some clothes from his closet before leaving the bedroom.


Sam let out a shuddering breath as she heard the door click in place and slowly opened her eyes. As the baby's movements increased she placed a calming hand on her abdomen and wasn't surprised to feel the wetness of Jack's tears on her skin.

Chapter Text

O'Neill Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 6, 2004

By the time Sam had freshened up in the bathroom and retrieved yesterday's clothes from the dryer, she had made up her mind. A sense of calm had come over her at reaching a decision and now all that was left was to tell Jack.

She had no idea how, though.

After waking up from the baby's active movements and the pressure on her bladder she had almost interrupted Jack's whispered goodbyes to the baby and it had taken all her self-control to feign sleep and allow him the stolen moment. Upon hearing the emotional distress in his voice Sam had known he needed his privacy to pull himself together and she too had needed some time to process everything that had happened from the moment they'd kissed up until finding him curled up against her side and crying on her stomach.

However, time was up. They had to talk sooner or later and it looked like it would be the former, considering she was famished after having eaten very little all day yesterday. Making her way through the corridor she noticed it was chilly in the house and she felt a sudden sense of dread when Jack wasn't in the dining room or the adjoining kitchen. A quick glance over the low wall showed he wasn't in the sunken living room either!

Had he already left without saying goodbye to her?

Had spending the night together been his way of saying farewell, without actually saying it? Was that why there had been so much feeling and emotions in his caresses and why his touch had left her with a sense of finality? Running a hand through her hair in frustration she silently berated herself for taking her time getting ready and making a decision. Sam turned on her heel and exited the dining room, heading to the hallway. Her breathing hitched when she noticed the empty spot where he'd left his snow boots yesterday and she took the few steps to the front door, peering at the driveway through the blinds. His truck was still here!

Sam let out a deep sigh and sagged against the front door for a moment. Where could he be? Maybe he had gone back to the bedroom when she had been getting her clothes from the dryer and his snow boots had simply been put away? It was then that she spotted the robe and sweatpants he'd loaned her last night on the side table in the hallway, neatly folded and stacked. She frowned and walked over to the items, wondering if they symbolized their relationship to him – taken care of and ready to be put back in the back of his dresser – or if maybe he'd let a note on it for her.

"Carter."

Her head whipped around at his brusque tone and she spotted him in front of the door leading to the deck. "Jack," she greeted him softly, simultaneously overwhelmed with relief that he was still here and apprehensive about the mood he was apparently in. Giving him a quick onceover she realized he must have been outside on the deck for quite a bit, considering the snowflakes in his silver hair and on his black sweater. His jeans were stuffed in his boots, which he was now stomping on the doormat, and she concluded that he had purposely gone out without a coat to clear his head and get a grip on his emotions. But if his tone and stony expression were anything to go on she feared he had forced himself to be distant again.

"I see you're all dressed and ready to go," he said, after casting an impersonal glance at her. "If you thought you could just sneak off I have to disappoint you; your car is still at the cemetery. It stopped snowing overnight but it just started again, so dropping you off at your car probably isn't wise."

Stunned, she watched him for a moment as he came towards her, went up the steps and sidestepped her to enter the dining room. It looked like all his walls were firmly back in place! "No, I wasn't trying to sneak off-"

"Really? I figured you were getting your jacket and sneakers," he threw over his shoulder as he entered the kitchen.

"No," Sam protested, following him. "I was looking for you, Jack."

He looked at her with narrowed eyes, as if gauging her and then shrugged. "Whatever. Doesn't matter anyway; Daniel just called to tell me Hammond scheduled a briefing at 0900 hours," he said, while cleaning up his breakfast items. "So if you want to swing by your place before going in then we should leave now."

She frowned and nearly had to flatten herself against the doorpost when he brushed past her, clearly upset. "Are you sure General Hammond wants me present? I mean, I'm not allowed to travel off-world and we already know I'll be transferred off the team soon, anyway," she said bitterly.

"It's not about an SG-1 mission but Freyja's research. Apparently Nyan has finished his translations and I imagine you'd like to know what has been done to you and why, too," he explained curtly. Then he made his way to the coatrack and looked at her. "Don't worry, I'm sure it'll only take a few hours at the most and you can easily make your appointment at the end of the day," he snarled.

"Jack, wait," Sam pleaded, crossing the distance between them.

He turned his back to her and snagged his winter coat and her jacket from the rack. "I told you we have to get going if-"

"I don't have stop at my house, I have clean underwear at the SGC and will have to wear BDUs anyway," she interrupted him impatiently. It wasn't like people really took note of her civvies the few minutes she would wear them from the entrance to the locker room and vice versa, so no one would even notice she was wearing the same outfit as yesterday. "We should talk."

"I was under the impression we already did the talking thing yesterday." He raised a skeptical eyebrow and thrust her leather jacket at her. "I'm not sure what there's left to say."

Sam awkwardly grabbed the jacket and folded it over her arm, all the while trying to search for words that were suddenly eluding her. "Last night… what you said, it was true."

His other eyebrow shot up too, this time in surprise. "What, exactly, are you referring to? That your career is already irrevocably affected by this, that you're scared…?"

"No," she shook her head and glanced at her jacket. "Well, that too." Blushing, she shrugged and looked up at him through her lashes. "But that's not what I meant."

"Oh?" Jack said, in an oh so innocent tone as he put on his coat. "Please do elaborate, Carter."

Taking a deep breath she squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye just as he was putting on his beanie. "About it feeling right between us," she admitted shyly.

His eyes widened in surprise and suddenly she had his complete attention. "What are you saying…?"

"I didn't tell you everything about my hallucinations aboard Prometheus," she said. "There were some personal things we discussed… well, the you I hallucinated and me. Our relationship, for example. 'You' said we were friends and I asked 'you' if anything would change if I would quit the Air Force."

"I would never ask you to give up your career," Jack said, frowning.

Sam chuckled mirthlessly. "That's exactly what 'you' said back then. I wondered if it was because 'you' didn't feel anything for me and 'you' were evasive, so I said I'd let you go right then and there if I knew."

"What did 'I' say?" He questioned, using finger quotes.

"'You' asked me if it would be that easy and if so, what was stopping me. When I said that I was trying 'you' basically told me you weren't that complex and that it was me. That you were my safe bet and I realized that as long as I was setting my sights on you – someone unattainable – there would be no chance of getting hurt by someone else."

He narrowed his eyes at her and his lips thinned. "Sounds like quite the conversation."

She couldn't read him and shrugged. "So, you see, I was determined to move on from my feelings for you once I got back."

"… and then you turned out to be pregnant with my baby," he concluded, after a moment of hesitation – almost as if he'd wanted to say something else.

"That moment on the ship I realized I had been hiding behind my feelings for you," Sam said. "Even though I knew I had always wondered if it would actually work between us. Were the frat regs just an excuse?"

He scoffed and looked at her skeptically. "And… what? You took the opportunity last night to find out and were shocked to realize the sex was actually good?"

She shook her head slowly and tried to find the right words. "It wasn't just good sex… we made love and it felt right, Jack."

"Love, eh?" He questioned sarcastically, but he couldn't hide the glimmer of hope in his eyes.

"Yes," she nodded and placed her free hand on his arm. "I love you… and I don't want to be the one to destroy your heart."

Jack visibly swallowed and regarded her with an intensity in his eyes she hadn't seen before. "What does that mean?"

Sam reached up and placed a hand on his cheek, gently caressing it with her thumb. "It means that I don't want to be responsible for you losing another child and having to say goodbye… to our daughter."

"What are you saying, exactly?"

"You were right about my military career and the fallout of Freyja's experiments… either way people will talk and make assumptions; my plans for advancement through the ranks are unattainable, but instead I can have a life. With some strategic maneuvering you could become attainable… I could have you," she said hesitantly, "and the baby, if you'll have me."

He grabbed her hand and held it, scrubbing his face with his free hand before averting his gaze and letting out an emotional sigh. "No abortion?"

"No abortion," she affirmed, tightening her fingers around his. "I don't want you to end up hating me for taking everything away from you… I can understand if you don't want me anymore but this morning I realized I couldn't take the baby from you, no matter what would happen between us." Sam briefly thought back to his tearful goodbye but she knew he'd only done so because he'd been under the impression that there were no witnesses, so she would keep it to herself.

"You're sure?" Jack asked shakily, his grip on her hand almost painful.

"Positive."

He rubbed his eyes with his free hand before searching her gaze. "You're not scared anymore?"

"Still terrified," Sam admitted. His eyes were glassy from emotions and suddenly she found herself blinking back tears. "But I want to try this – us. I think we can do it, together. I'm willing to make sacrifices, Jack; last night I put everything on the line because I had to know if our feelings were real. I risked my career by initiating that kiss and sleeping with you and I don't regret it. I've always done everything by the book and look where it got me; we've been fighting our feelings for years and never crossed the line physically yet I still ended up pregnant with your baby! So, why not stop fighting, give in to our feelings and get together, become a family?"

"You're sure you want to do this, Sam? Go the whole nine yards?"

She nodded, giving him a tentative smile. "I don't think I can do this on my own… and after making love to you I can't give you up, not anymore."

Slowly, a rare full-blown smile appeared on Jack's face and his brown eyes twinkled. "I guess that means we're really gonna do this!" Cupping her cheeks he leaned in and sealed the deal with a searing kiss.


Briefing Room
Level 27, SGC

"… so, from what we can tell Loki had indeed collected Jack's, um, semen during his cloning experiment and from the research notes on file it seems Freyja and some other Rogue Asgard were present during the research and they each took some samples for their own studies on the first few days and by the time we caught Loki his accomplices were long gone," Daniel concluded his brief overview. "Nyan mainly focused on Sam and Jack's files but also glanced at some of the other experiments Freyja had performed and it looks like they all have a similar set-up and end goal."

"Impregnation for her female subjects," Teal'c concluded.

Daniel nodded in agreement and started to explain. "Freyja has been doing these experiments for at least a couple of centuries and seems to be searching for favorable genetic combinations in different species, but mostly humans – from Earth and other planets. However, it looks like she focused on Jack right away after capturing Sam, possibly because of Loki's findings and knowing SG-1's, uh, reputation."

"What about captured men?" Doc Fraiser questioned. "Or did she only capture women?"

"No, she was a real opportunist and used her 'nebula' to catch unsuspecting explorers," Daniel said. "Obviously the kind of people who would investigate an unusual nebula in the first place are advanced and intelligent enough to have space-faring capabilities and scientific interests. Upon capture she would study their physique, genetics, reproductive systems and intelligence – quite possibly with the help of other like-minded Asgard as we now know Loki did, too."

Jack grimaced at the realization that his people had walked straight into the Asgard's trap. "So, she only likes scientists?"

"Well, it makes sense, Colonel," Fraiser said.

"How so, Doctor?" Hammond inquired pensively.

The Doc glanced at Carter – Sam – before looking back to the base commander. "Major Carter and I have theorized about certain aspects of the Asgard on a few occasions and as we know they only 'propagate' through means of advanced cloning. However, the process is slowly failing them after centuries of downloading their consciousness in younger, newly cloned bodies, hence their unsanctioned experiments with humans like Colonel O'Neill and Heimdall's research into the Asgard's genetic history after finding one of their ancestors, perfectly preserved."

"The Asgard can't reproduce like normal, um, people," Carter added. "But they can obviously clone themselves and humans, but clearly regular human clones who could theoretically reproduce sexually aren't equipped to deal with their vastly superior intellect."

"Right, that's why Loki came back to make a mini-me; because that head-sucking thing had managed to download its database into my brain." Jack chimed in.

"Jack is right and that is exactly why Freyja chose him to impregnate Sam, General," Daniel said. "Many of the Asgard know Jack was capable of handling the knowledge of the Ancients, however briefly, and they are also aware of how Sam has saved their planets from the Replicators. For human standards Sam is considered a genius and in spite of not being anywhere near the level of Asgard intelligence, she is capable of understanding and applying superior alien technology. By using Sam's egg and Jack's sperm Freyja was hoping their offspring would be another step forward on our evolutionary path and thereby bring the Asgard closer to their missing link."

Teal'c raised his customary brow before speaking. "Did the Asgard Freyja succeed?"

"Um, in a manner of speaking, yes."

"What?" Jack questioned, suddenly concerned about the baby, especially now that he and Sam had decided to give a romantic relationship a go.

Hammond also cast a worried glance in their direction. "Can you elaborate, Doctor Jackson?"

"Well, from Nyan's findings it appears she harvested several eggs from Sam and all fertilized them with Jack's, um, DNA and it was only after she had run further tests on the embryos and Sam that she picked the best one and placed it back. The baby's DNA wasn't the key but it was supposedly very advantageous to Freyja's research."

"What kind of experiments were performed on Major Carter?" Doc Fraiser questioned, concern lacing her tone.

Daniel browsed through his folder until he found the relevant papers and started to explain. "Um, Sam wasn't aboard Prometheus the entire time she was trapped in a time dilation bubble. Freyja kept her aboard her ship while doing her research and apparently placed Sam in a sort of stasis pod. Not a regular Asgard stasis pod, though; it wasn't unlike the Keeper's machine in that it placed her in some kind of virtual reality where she had to escape a certain scenario. In this case she had to solve the problem with Prometheus, its missing crew and the enemy ship trapped in the nebula."

"But that doesn't make any sense," Carter protested, frowning. "There is evidence that I spent weeks aboard Prometheus as I tried to find a solution, like the missing food and the ship's logs."

"After you lost consciousness and the rest of the crew used the escape pods Freyja beamed you into a sort of stimulated stasis pod. She proposed a problem and had you solve it to see how your mind works," the archeologist explained. "Apparently she deemed you worthy once you managed to get out alive and get your crew back as well as safe passage from the enemy in your simulation, so she went ahead with the research and impregnation…"

Jack could tell that didn't sit well with Carter either. "So, what you're saying is that Freyja basically treated humans like lab rats in a maze? And instead of getting a reward at the end they get impregnated?"

"And are allowed to live," Daniel said. "If her subjects couldn't save themselves in the simulation she would beam them back to their ship and they would eventually die in the nebula."

"Was there anything about how this stasis pod works and why Sam can't remember anything of it?" Fraiser inquired, clearly intrigued.

"No, but it seems like she administered some kind of drug to Sam before beaming her back to Prometheus. The drug is supposed to suppress the memories of the experiments but would slowly allow ideas from the simulation to surface. If Nyan's translations and deductions about the used time units are correct then Sam spent a little less than two months aboard Prometheus itself after being returned to the ship by Freyja. During that time she was monitored to check her progress but also her health and whether the pregnancy had taken and was going well."

"It appears the Asgard have much to answer for once they return our communication," Teal'c said with disdain.

Jack huffed and briefly wondered whether Thor or one his fellow Asgard would even bother to respond if they were already aware of what Freyja had done. "You got that right, T. You know, there's one thing I still don't understand."

Daniel blinked owlishly as he started putting away his notes. "Just one?"

"Yeah, if the Asgard have such vastly superior intellect then how come they can't overcome their cloning problem? I get that they don't have, er… the right equipment, but can't they simply extract some of their own DNA, fiddle with it and create a baby Asgard? Can't they just take half their chromosome thingies and make, um, artificial eggs and sperm and put the resulting embryo in an artificial womb or something?"

"I thought you once said the Asgard haven't had sex in a thousand years, Jack," Daniel said. "So it's likely that Thor, Heimdall, Freyja, Loki and all the other Asgard are the last generation that has been born. So wouldn't it be possible that they don't even know where to start making an artificial womb?"

"Would they not be able to deduce the organ's function and recreate it from their many experiments on other species capable of sexual reproduction, like the Tau'ri?"

Jack nodded in agreement and waved his hand around. "Yeah and they have to grow those human clones somehow too, right?"

Hammond's curiosity seemed piqued and he turned towards Carter and Fraiser. "Any ideas, Major, Doctor?"

The two women exchanged glances and then the Doc replied. "Well, those are all good questions, Sir. However, Major Carter and I suspect the Asgard don't use the cloning techniques scientists on Earth are still trying to perfect. Instead of using an enucleated ovum – a female's egg without genetic material – and inserting DNA from a subject's skin cell into the ovum to place the ovum into a surrogate to carry and birth the so-called clone, it seems more likely the Asgard use something akin to creating a person's replica. They all look the same and the human clones they've created and sent back to Earth to take the original's place were identical, which is simply impossible for our cloning technique. Well, with the exception of Colonel O'Neill, but they were still able to clone him…"

"He just didn't mature to the right age," Carter added with a shrug. "The only thing that seemed to have gone wrong was the aging and therefore the clone could not take the Colonel's place without suspicion, but the cloning itself succeeded and he was still a fully functioning human – not a baby or 'aborted' because of the marker Thor had placed in his DNA."

"So, you're saying they don't need an artificial womb for that?"

"That's right, Colonel," the Doc said, nodding. "The reason we suspect they don't have them or artificially create little baby Asgard from their own DNA as you put it, is because they don't have any."

Jack knitted his brows together in confusion, looking at Carter for a simple explanation. "Don't have any… what?"

"DNA, Sir."

"Um, how can they not have DNA?" Daniel questioned, puzzled.

"Well, Heimdall's research was about a thirty-thousand-year-old ancestor that still had the capability to reproduce and looked more, um, human than today's Asgard. However, their brain capacity would never match up to a modern Asgard, whose intellect is vastly superior. So they basically need a combination of those two; the reproductive capabilities of their ancestor with their own mental capacity. Yet, they haven't made any attempts at creating such a hybrid, or even experiment with Asgard babies or Asgard human hybrids as far as we know. Now, it's possible such things also fall under the unsanctioned experiments like Loki's cloning studies did but I doubt Loki or his like-minded Asgard would let such rules stop them when they are already performing illegal experiments," Carter elaborated.

Doc Fraiser was bobbing her head in agreement while everyone else looked even more confused to Jack. "Major Carter and I came to the conclusion the Asgard haven't attempted any of these things because they can't; their bodies are no longer real bodies as we know it – no blood or their own DNA. Instead, their bodies are like some kind of organic vessels, mere packaging to contain their massive brains and allow them to move around."

"It would certainly explain a lot," Jack muttered, earning him a beaming smile from Carter.

Chapter Text

Briefing Room
Level 27, SGC
March 6, 2004

The briefing was slowly coming to an end as General Hammond asked some more detailed questions from Daniel and Janet helped him to explain some of the medical things Nyan had found, all the while Jack was drumming his fingers on his thigh and Sam had to suppress the urge to grab his hand and still it. That would probably be frowned upon by the General, though. Besides, she needed to remain professional while at work, even if she had decided to get romantically involved with her CO and have his baby. Something that required changes to be made and unfortunately mostly from her. Still, after talking everything over with Jack she was pretty sure that these changes were less drastic than the ones that would occur if she were to proceed with the abortion. Not to mention that she would be with the man she loved from now on; no more denying and locking things away.

"… would like the final report of the translation on my desk as soon as it is finished," General Hammond said. "And I think Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter and Doctor Fraiser would want a copy as well. If that was all…"

Recognizing her cue Sam straightened up in her chair and cleared her throat. "Actually, Sir, there is something else," she said nervously and she could feel everyone's eyes on her. Even Jack was giving her an appraising glance, no doubt wondering where she was going with this. The General himself looked surprised but motioned for her to continue. "I would like to informally request to be transferred off SG-1-"

"What? No, you can't leave, Sam!" Daniel protested, wide-eyed. "Is this because of Jack and, um, what Freyja did? Because it's not fair for you to have to bear all the consequences. I mean, you've worked so hard to-"

"Doctor Jackson, please let the Major finish," General Hammond said sternly.

She smiled weakly at him and could feel Jack's dark eyes watching her intently. "Thank you, Sir. I think it's safe to say that due to circumstances Colonel O'Neill and I can no longer work together in the capacity of team commander and 2IC. I hope to have the paperwork on your desk by the end of the day, Sir."

The General was watching the two of them with narrowed eyes as his face slowly colored red. "We better continue this in my office, Colonel, Major. The rest of you are dismissed."

With that he stormed into his office and after exchanging glances with her Jack followed the base commander more sedately. Sam could see Daniel was about to protest some more so she shook her head but was surprised to find Teal'c's twinkling eyes resting on her fondly; clearly the Jaffa had already come to a conclusion after observing her and Jack throughout the briefing. It wasn't entirely unexpected as their friend was very astute and she did feel like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders since this morning. Janet was gazing at her with suspicion but didn't say anything. "I'll see you guys later," Sam said before quickly making her way into the connected office.

"Major Carter, please have a seat," General Hammond said, gesturing at the free chair matching Jack's.

"Thank you, Sir," she replied and doing as she was told. Jack, seated beside her, appeared wary and she hoped that was merely because of the outcome of this conversation and not because he was still doubting her.

The Texan leaned forward in his desk and gazed at them alternately. "I'm not going to lie and say this precaution is unnecessary; I think we all more or less know what the fallout of Freyja's actions will entail, regardless of the way Major Carter decides to handle her current condition. However, breaking up my flagship team is not something I look forward to irrespective of the circumstances and while I sympathize with both of your situations and how the impact all of this has had on your friendship and working relationship, I cannot blindly accept this transfer request. There is no doubt that Colonel O'Neill is our most experienced officer in the field and," he looked at Jack, "you have done a remarkable job commanding SG-1 since the beginning of this Program. Your strategic talent, command experience and outstanding fieldwork make you a real asset, son. However, Major Carter has served as your second-in-command for nearly seven years and is not only our expert on alien technology but also an excellent field officer, who has shown tremendous growth over the years and quite frankly is more than ready to command a team of her own."

"Sir-" They both said simultaneously.

"Please, let me finish," General Hammond urged them with a raised hand. "I think we are all aware that when a young female officer falls pregnant with her commanding officer's child under normal circumstances it is most likely the woman who gets transferred and will bear the brunt of the consequences. Of course, over the years I have learned that when you're in command of a base with the sole purpose of space exploration by travel via Stargate nothing ever really is 'normal'. In this case it is clear what happened was beyond your control and was done without the consent of either of you. I don't want you two to be under the illusion that I have a solution that will be satisfactory to everyone involved, yet I do think we need to go over our options. I hope it is unnecessary but I would like to point out that you," he looked at her, "cannot be ordered or pressured by your CO to submit a transfer request."

Sam smiled wanly at the base commander and quickly glanced at Jack but he was not giving anything away with his stony expression. "General Hammond I appreciate your concern but let me reassure you that Colonel O'Neill has in no way pressured me into making any professional decisions, nor do I believe he would ever order me into taking such action." She was pleased to see Jack's shoulders relax almost imperceptibly and wasn't surprised at the General's obvious relief or the approving glance he sent Jack's way. "That being said, we discussed our situation yesterday and have come to the conclusion that we are both willing to try to pursue a relationship of a more intimate nature-"

"Come again, Major?!" General Hammond gasped, in shock or disapproval she couldn't tell. "Colonel?"

"Um," she swallowed and could feel her cheeks burning, "I have decided against an abortion and Colonel O'Neill and I would like to raise the child together, Sir."

The General took a deep breath and nodded slowly as he exhaled, his eyes darting between them. "This is a mutual decision then?"

"Having the baby together, yes Sir," Jack said, speaking up for the first time. "I was, however, unaware of Carter's plans to request a transfer but cannot say I am surprised by it."

"Seems like you two need to work on your communication," General Hammond muttered, although he also seemed pleased. "Well, in light of this revelation I can see why you, Major, want to be transferred out of field work. As a matter of fact, it is mandatory for pregnant personnel and considering Jack here is apparently keeping his position as commander of SG-1, it would make sense for you to transfer to lab work. I'm sure your colleagues at the science department and some of the brass will actually be pleased with that part of the changes."

"I offered to retire but…"

The Texan smirked as if it was a good joke. "It wouldn't have been accepted, son. Not at this time at least, considering the enemies that are still out there. That is also one of the reasons why removing Major Carter from field duty is undesirable but fortunately we have plenty of projects for her that could help other teams off-world." He chuckled softly to himself and turned to her. "I guess in a way I should be grateful for you taking a difficult decision out of my hands. Nonetheless, I hope you understand that this move will not quell the rumors once your pregnancy is made public."

"With all due respect, Sir," Sam started, "I believe this might reflect better on our situation than me being reassigned by the higher-ups, which could imply a more scandalous reason rather than both of us being victims of an alien experiment. Still, either way people will talk and action will be taken." For a moment she hesitated before doing something uncharacteristic; she grabbed Jack's hand in full view of the General. "I'd much rather request a transfer to the labs and try to create a life with Jack and our daughter than ending up with nothing but a ruined relationship," she briefly glanced at Jack, "guilt and regret over an abortion I thought I should have, no career to speak of and still be the subject of malicious rumors."

"I see," the General said slowly. "Well, on a personal level I am pleased to hear you two will try to find happiness together and with your baby, but on a professional level I am sad to see you give up your ambitions, Sam. However, I also know that unfortunately you are right in that it is impossible for either of you to come out of this unscathed and you in particular," he told her. "Of course I will go to bat for you, knowing what excellent and professional officers you both are, but I am afraid that some, if not all, will be a waste of effort, as there will always be rumors and especially when it involves good people like yourself and classified missions and events."

She nodded in understanding and was pleased when Jack squeezed her hand in support. "Nevertheless, we're grateful for your support, Sir. Under the circumstances I would also like to request to report directly to you, General, as it is possible albeit unlikely for the Colonel as your 2IC to-"

"Of course, consider it and your transfer request approved, Major. I will still need the paperwork to make it official but I think it will save my superiors a headache the size of Texas to know you have left Colonel O'Neill's chain of command by the time I will be forced to inform them of your pregnancy and the story behind it," General Hammond said. "And I would also like to offer my congratulations for the baby as well as your new relationship."

"Thank you, Sir," they said in unison.

"I think it goes without saying, though, that you two should keep up appearances at least until the transfer is officially approved and in place," he gently reminded them. "That being said, I appreciate your honesty and the fact that you came to me with this."

Smiling, Sam tried to explain her decision without going into her personal reasons for doing this – for showing Jack she was committed to making it work between them. "I thought it prudent to inform you, Sir, considering the full ramifications of our decision and because some of the SGC's enemies from DC would probably jump at the chance of using this as incriminating evidence of an unprofessional relationship once they learn of the pregnancy."

"Unfortunately, you might be right about that, so I'll make sure to process your request as soon as I receive the paperwork, Major," General Hammond replied. "Have you informed Doctor Fraiser yet?"

"No Sir, I haven't had time," she admitted, only having seen Janet upon entering the briefing room this morning, "but I have contacted my obstetrician to inform her of my decision."

"You have?" Jack questioned suddenly.

She frowned, wondering why he was acting so surprised. Although, thinking about it she couldn't recall telling him… "Yes, I did. I left a message on her practice's answering machine after I got up this morning." His eyes widened and she knew he made the connection, realizing she had already made the call before informing him of her change of heart this morning.

"Very well," Hammond said in a concluding tone, "if that was all, I think you two should probably inform your teammates of the changes or at least Doctor Fraiser so she can remove the procedure from her schedule and change your medical status. Dismissed."


Jack couldn't help but smirk as Carter explained her decision to their friends and told them they were keeping the baby and would raise her together. Teal'c had a satisfied grin on his face and knowing him, the Jaffa had already known the moment he and Carter had arrived on base this morning. Daniel was chattering excitedly and even the Doc was smiling when she offered her congratulations before leaving. He had to admit that hearing Carter inform Hammond of the change in their relationship had been, besides scary and nerve-racking, a relief. He wasn't proud of feeling like that knowing she wouldn't backtrack now, not after her confession this morning but there had still been doubts in the back of his mind.

Learning she had already canceled the abortion prior to talking to him had erased all doubts, however. That meant she would have continued the pregnancy no matter what he would have said, although he wasn't sure what she would have done if he had decided against a relationship; perhaps she would have expected him to take full custody of the baby in that case because he didn't think she was quite ready to be a single mother. But none of that really mattered, now did it? They were going to do this, raise their daughter together. He was going to be a dad again!

His inner joy was short-lived however when there was suddenly a blinding white light in the briefing room and Jack quickly – and perhaps foolishly – jumped in front of Carter, shielding her with his body while keeping a hand on her arm. As the light and the black spots in his vision faded he realized they were all still present but Thor had joined them. God, for a moment he'd worried Freyja had come back for the baby! "Thor!"

"Greetings," the Supreme Commander of the Asgard said, blinking his large black eyes at them. "I must apologize for not returning your communiques sooner but I was otherwise occupied as the Replicators are gaining territory within both of our galaxies."

"I guess that also explains why one of your little Rogue Asgard snuck under your radar and experimented on Carter, right?" Jack asked angrily.

The alien lowered his head in acknowledgment or perhaps embarrassment. "Indeed, I am aware the one known as Freyja has performed unsanctioned experiments on Major Carter." Then he looked up and walked over to them, stopping in front of Carter. "If you wish, we could rectify the situation immediately."

"Get that thing away from her," Jack yelled, slapping the doohickey lifted to Carter's abdomen out of Thor's four-fingered hand.

"O'Neill!" Thor said, appearing stunned as he looked at the doodad a few feet away.

"What's going on here?" Hammond questioned loudly as he opened the door to his office. "Thor, I didn't realize you were here."

An awkward silence descended upon the room but after a minute Daniel broke it. "Um, he just arrived, General. He, ah, offered to fix-"

"There's nothing to 'fix', Daniel," Jack growled.

"Colonel," Hammond admonished him as he entered the room and picked up the thingamajig from the floor. "Is this yours, Thor?"

"Indeed," the Asgard said, making his way over to the base commander to retrieve his doohickey. "I apologize if I have offended you, O'Neill."

Before he could reply Carter squeezed his arm. "Jack…" She whispered, before she stepped forward and grimaced at Thor. "He was just afraid you would harm the baby."

Thor blinked at her. "I was not. I merely attempted to acquire data on your offspring and your health, Major Carter. However, I was sincere in my offer; if you would return with me to my ship I could remove the result of Freyja's experiments with a painless procedure and undo the changes to your physique."

"She's staying right here," Jack said menacingly. "You're not gonna get your thumb-less hands on the baby, we're keeping her."

"I do not understand; your communique implied you were unhappy with the situation yet you will not let me undo the mistake one of my own has made."

"Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter have been placed in an impossible situation," General Hammond replied, "but they have decided to keep the child and raise it together."

Daniel was still smiling as he tried to explain. "Just because Sam and Jack have accepted the baby doesn't mean they're not still upset about what Freyja did. You can't just treat humans as lab rats to further your own goals and hold and impregnate them against their will. The Asgard are supposed to be friend and protector to all except the Goa'uld, yet one of you trapped Sam and experimented on her without her consent."

"By impregnating her without her knowledge Freyja endangered not only the Asgard treaty with the Tau'ri but also Major Carter's health and that of the unborn child," Teal'c added.

"And by making me the father she ruined Carter's career!" Jack yelled, gesturing wildly with his hands. "I hope you, Freyja and the whole gang are happy now! Carter is off SG-1 and won't be able to save your little gray butts from the Replicators in the future!"

Thor looked as worried as Jack had ever seen an Asgard and turned to Hammond. "This was not Freyja's intention; she was merely trying to find a solution to our cloning problem, albeit by using unsanctioned experiments, General."

The base commander frowned at the alien. "And how exactly did you know Freyja was behind this? We didn't know that yet when we sent the message."

"Freyja approached the High Council with her findings, which are quite extraordinary but she did not reveal the methods by which she had obtained them. It was only when she was requested to elaborate on her experiments that she eventually admitted to what she had done. She also confessed to engaging in to battle with a Tau'ri vessel and leaving her own ship behind after you had defeated her; she had not been aware of the recent upgrades to your vessel and used our beaming technology to escape."

"So I guess you're not just here for the baby but Freyja's ship as well?" Jack questioned skeptically.

"The Asgard High Council has requested I return with the extracted data of the unsanctioned experiment and the computer recordings," Thor admitted.

He nodded and crossed his arms. "Good, 'cause you're not getting your ship back. Look at it as a baby gift."

"So, um, what's going to happen to Freyja now?" Daniel inquired, curious as always.

"The Ruling Council will review her actions and decide on a proper form of punishment. I was asked to relay any arguments from O'Neill and Major Carter but I am confused about their reactions."

Jack sighed and looked at Thor, trying to explain the situation. "Well, we're keeping the baby but that doesn't mean it's all forgotten and done with. Freyja violated Carter and since I'm the father we can't work together in the field anymore. You see, the military has rules against a commanding officer getting involved with a subordinate and for good reason; we can't afford to show preferential treatment to someone under our command as it could endanger others – and in our case the planet – in life and death situations, or just help them climb the ranks. Now, everyone will think Carter and I had an affair and she got pregnant, meaning she gets transferred, her reputation is ruined and her career is effectively over as it's unlikely she'll get back in the field after giving birth and lab geeks simply aren't promoted to ranking officers when there are already limited placements."

"You see, Thor," Daniel started, walking over to the alien, "in our culture…"

Tuning the cultural babble out Jack turned to Carter, concerned about how she was taking all this. He knew she considered Thor a friend as did he, but hearing the Asgard talk about Freyja's actions like that couldn't be easy for her, especially if – as he suspected – Freyja would get off light if she even got any punishment at all considering her apparent breakthrough. "You okay?"

Carter nodded and tried to raise a smile. "Yeah, I just…" She let out a quivering sigh and grabbed his hand, surprising him for the second time in less than an hour with her display of affection on base. "I just froze." Her fingers slowly slipped between his and the sensations of her smooth skin gliding against his elicited goose bumps on his arms. "I was scared," she softly admitted, her gaze on their hands but she glanced up before continuing. "When he raised his hand and you slapped it away. I didn't… I-I guess I finally realized that I couldn't… Not your baby," Carter said, placing their entwined hands on her small bump.

"Our baby, Sam," Jack gently reminded her. Her sweet smile in response had his heart racing and he had to remind himself Hammond had warned them only minutes ago to keep things professional until her transfer was through! Turning away from temptation he realized Daniel had finished his little monologue and now Hammond and Thor were apparently negotiating access to the Asgard ship at Area 51.

"Thor?" Carter called out hesitantly. "I was just wondering," she said as she got his attention, "if you know what happened to the other embryos and materials Freyja took during her experiment?"

"And mine too," Jack added, suppressing a shudder at the idea of Loki and his band of merry rogues using his, um, genetic material to impregnate other unsuspecting females of whatever race.

Thor narrowed his large eyes briefly before replying. "All the genetic materials in Freyja's possession have been destroyed and she admitted to being the one who retrieved Loki's materials prior to his capture, therefore we believe all of their samples are no more."

"That's good to know," Hammond said and invited Thor into his office to continue their negotiations.

Jack couldn't help but wonder if Thor had spoken the truth – if he even knew the truth – or that Freyja's findings were deemed important enough to justify keeping the materials and perhaps doing more experiments on unsuspecting people. After all, Heimdall had admitted that the Asgard were a dying race and if they believed there was a solution out there… "So, what are you guys up to this weekend?" Jack asked when just he, Carter and their teammates were left in the briefing room.

"Well, obviously I have a report to finish," Daniel said, gesturing at the table where they'd had their meeting.

"I am contemplating visiting a camp of Rebel Jaffa and perhaps my son and Master Bra'tac," Teal'c said.

He nodded in response. "Sounds like fun."

"We should probably go see Janet, to work out the details of my exclusions of fitness tests and start planning maternity leave and everything," Carter said. "Unless you don't want to-"

"I want to," Jack hastened to say, wanting to be as involved as possible.

She beamed at him and then smiled at the guys. "Well, we have to go. Have fun this weekend. If you need me I'll be at Jack's or you could try my cell phone."

"You are?" He questioned, surprised.

"Um, well, I-I um," she stammered, blushing. "Y-you said the whole nine yards, right? And, um, if you don't want to miss anything from the pregnancy we shouldn't be living on the opposite ends of town…"

A hesitant grin broke out on Jack's face. "Are you saying you want to move in with me, Samantha Carter?"

Carter flushed even deeper at his teasing tone. "Maybe not, um, right away but I thought I could get some stuff and spent the weekend at your place. Then, you know, we could just try, um, dating and spend time at each other's places."

"But you do want to move in with me, right?"

"Well, your house is bigger and we could turn your guestroom into a nursery," she said, still looking unsure. "If that's okay with you. I mean, if I'm going too fast or-"

Jack quickly shook his head and tried to ignore Daniel's snickering in the background. "No, no. You're the smart one and we are having a kid in about five months, so… yeah, we should grab some essentials from your place after visiting the Doc."

Chapter Text

Carter Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 7, 2004

The insistent and loud sound of the doorbell rudely awoke Sam from her slumber and it took her a moment to reorient herself, finally realizing she had fallen asleep on her own couch amid all kinds of papers. She blinked blearily as she tried to collect the papers without crinkling them too much and simultaneously wondered who could be at the door. It was only when she rubbed her eyes and got a good look at the clock that she recalled Janet was supposed to come over after her shift!

Sam quickly got up and made her way to the door as the bell rang again. Before opening the door she scrubbed her hands over her face and ran a quick hand through her hair in front of the mirror on the wall. As she swung the door open she realized Janet looked a bit piqued and wondered how long her friend had actually been standing on her porch. "Janet, hi!"

"Well, finally," she replied. "I was starting to wonder if you were even home."

Smiling sheepishly, Sam stepped aside to let the other woman step inside. "I fell asleep on the sofa."

Janet shot her a sympathizing look as she shrugged out of her coat. "Oh, I'm sorry. Did I keep you waiting? There were some complications in the infirmary after my meeting with Thor, so…"

"Is everything okay?"

"Oh, yeah, it all worked out fine. Doctor Warner had to take someone from the Alpha Site into surgery but when I left he was just closing up and was confident they would make a full recovery."

"Good, good," Sam muttered and gestured for her friend to take a seat in the living room. "Want something to drink?"

"No, I'm fine," Janet said.

Joining her on the couch she blushed when the doctor raised an eyebrow at the documents on the table. "I was working on a schedule for when my transfer comes through," she explained.

"I can see that… all the way up to your maternity leave?"

"Well, I'd like to be prepared," Sam said. "Of course, there will be plenty of technology and other project that will come up from future missions but that's where the-"

"Empty spaces come in," Janet finished teasingly. "You do know you might be medically forced to take maternity leave earlier than you'd like, right? Or feel fine up until the day of delivery…"

She shrugged and started collecting the papers, making a neat pile of the ones regarding her schedule. Now that she would soon be working in the labs full time she'd have more time to dedicate to her projects, pull out some of her shelved ideas and take another look at some items she just never got a chance to study carefully before being called away on a mission. A lot of technology had been passed on to other scientists after her initial exam but there were some that had been deemed decorative, unimportant, unknown or simply useless and were more likely to have functioned as decoration. Soon, she could take another looksee and maybe there were some abandoned projects that no one had been able to figure out in the beginning of the Program that she could now recognize or at least make a more educated guess about its purpose. In a way, Sam was looking forward to having more time to do research but she also feared it would grow old quickly. Hopefully she had found her way by then or had the baby to keep her occupied…

"What's this?" The petite doctor asked, holding up some financial statements.

"Oh, I just want to get everything in order for the baby," she replied. "Up until now Dad and Mark were my only blood relatives and I didn't have any dependents in case something were to happen to me, but I figured I should probably start looking into those things because you never know what might happen and it would make sense to set up a trust for the baby and such."

Janet nodded, obviously having experience with that area because of Cassandra. "You're thinking of selling your house? Why? You can turn one of the guestrooms into a nursery and perhaps even turn your seldom-used basement into a guestroom or two."

Sam shifted on the sofa and reached out for the rest of the financial papers on Janet's side of the coffee table. As her friend handed them over she started filing them away in the appropriate folders. "Well, if Jack and I are having a baby together we should probably, you know, live together."

"Live together? You and Colonel O'Neill?"

She looked away from the Doctor's scrutiny and tried to think of a way to explain the situation. After the meeting with General Hammond and Thor yesterday she and Jack had gone up to the infirmary to talk to Janet but they had barely had time to update her status before the CMO had been called away, so Sam and Jack had left the base and gone to his place. "Yes."

"Really?" Janet questioned, clearly still not over her surprise. "Where?"

"We haven't really discussed it yet," Sam said. "His house is bigger and in a better neighborhood but maybe we'll eventually decide to buy something together, who knows."

"Together as in together?"

She blushed and shrugged awkwardly. "You know how we feel about each other, Janet…"

The petite brunette nodded slowly. "Yes, I just hadn't realized you two were actually acknowledging your feelings and discussing them. Last I heard you left them in a room and you refused to talk about it ever since."

"The current situation kind of forced the issue," Sam said dryly.

"I know," Janet replied, "but wow. I hadn't expected for you two to just get together."

"Why not?" She asked defensively, even though it was something that had been on her mind a lot too recently. After all, she and Jack had only just admitted everything and committed to each other and the baby.

The Doctor shrugged helplessly. "I don't know… it's just that you two never seem to do things the easy way. Most of the time you're denying there's anything more than friendship or even a working relationship between you two."

She sighed and glanced down at the folders in her lap but then her small bump caught her eye. "Things are different now."

"They certainly are," Janet said with a soft chuckle. "I just wasn't sure you would acknowledge it. I mean, you've been hell-bent on having an abortion for the past week and then yesterday you did a sudden one-eighty and now you're telling me you're going to move in with Colonel Jack O'Neill!"

"Not right away," Sam said. "I mean, eventually we'll move in together as Jack wants to be as involved with the pregnancy as possible but right now we're just taking things slow. You know, spending time together outside of work and at each other's homes and if that goes well then I'll probably move in with him in a few weeks."

Her friend laughed and she realized that 'taking it slow' probably didn't mean 'a few weeks' for most people, especially not her. "Don't get me wrong, Sam. I'm happy for you, heck, I'm thrilled you two are finally getting together but are you sure this is what you want?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you've always had good reasons not to pursue this. You've felt strongly about him for years now and yet you never even seemed to consider starting a real relationship," Janet elaborated slowly. "Not even when one of you was close to dying. One of the major reasons was your working relationship, military ranks and your career and reputation; aren't those still valid reasons? The fallout of not only a romantic relationship with your CO but also being pregnant with his child is going to be huge! Especially in your respective positions, with him being the highest-ranking officer next to General Hammond and you're his 2IC. You're the only two military members of the flagship team and because you're supposed to be role models to lower-ranking airmen the fallout will be even worse as this will reflect badly on the base and the service itself."

Sam listened to her passionate speech and she knew Janet's reasoning was valid; hell, many of the arguments had crossed her own mind and she had been terrified of what it would mean to her career and reputation. It wasn't at all surprising Janet came up with the same as she too had worked hard for her career in 'this man's army' as her ex-husband had oh so eloquently put it. If anyone of her friends could understand what this would mean to her it would be Janet Fraiser, fellow airman and major with a successful medical career and an important position on base. "Believe me, I know."

"Then are you sure this is worth it? I'm not trying to change your mind about this, Sam, I just want to make sure you're not doing anything impulsive; just a few days ago you were determined to have an abortion and you had no intention of becoming a mother any time in the near future – if at all – but now you're ready to play happy families with your commanding officer?"

"Janet…" She sighed, trying to find the right words. It was difficult to explain without telling her everything that had happened and even though they were best friends, some things were simply too personal to tell her. Sam wasn't even sure if it was her place to share some of the things Jack had told her or the private moments she had witnessed when he thought she wasn't looking or asleep. "I'm not denying those are valid reasons and yes, they were a big part of why I never pursued anything with Jack. But I also wasn't sure of my feelings for him, I didn't know if I really loved him or if I was just hiding behind it and using him as a safe bet in order not to get hurt by someone else because I knew nothing could ever come of it – he was unattainable. I also had no idea if he still felt the same way as he did during the zatarc testing…"

"Well, obviously he does," she said dryly.

Sam allowed a brief smile before continuing with her explanation. "Once you confirmed the paternity test I knew we had to talk. However, I tried to deny it as I was trying to deny and forget everything; I simply wanted everything to go back to the way it was before. But Jack didn't let me get away with that and we ended up talking… well, arguing mostly. Eventually, we did talk though and after that I just knew I couldn't go through with it; my career is already ruined once the news of the pregnancy comes to light, no matter what decision I make. If anything, it would probably look more like a cover-up if I had an abortion."

"Maybe," Janet muttered hesitantly, not entirely convinced.

"But in the end I realized I do love him and I could never forgive myself if I took away his second chance at fatherhood."

The Doctor nodded in understanding but still frowned. "Sam… are you sure you're making this decision for the right reasons? If you're just doing this for him… well, I don't think any relationship based on such a huge sacrifice is going to last, not when you're not just changing your entire career to accommodate the relationship but also get a child you didn't want thrown into the mix."

"I don't know," she admitted softly. "The only thing I do know is that I don't want to look back on my life in forty years and only have a semi-successful career to show for it, especially not when it's marred by a pregnancy scandal, rumors of an affair and it cost me the man I love. You of all people should know what losing Charlie did to Jack, I don't know how he could cope with losing another child… by my hand."

"But what about you?" Janet questioned cautiously.

Sam knew her friend was only trying to look out for her and that, to her, the sudden change of heart would seem odd and perhaps out of character. But she was also aware of the fact that Janet had been against the abortion from the start, no doubt because she was a mother herself and had done everything she could to accommodate Cassie in her life – something which had also taken a toll on her social life. "I couldn't picture myself as a mother, I'll admit. Certainly not a single mother raising a child whose existence was the result of an alien experiment, but I do like kids; Cassie, Mark's kids, the various alien children we've met over the years… But I've never felt what I feel for Jack for anyone else and I know he's certainly not perfect, but if I were to someday end up married and with a family then he's the only man I could imagine in that role."

"So what you're saying is that you're not only doing this for him but for yourself too?"

"Careers don't keep you warm at night, Janet," Sam admitted. "We both know I'm ambitious and that's one of the reasons I never seriously contemplated having kids, as I have been the child of an ambitious Air Force officer who was mostly absent and distant; I always wondered if maybe it would have been better if my Dad hadn't had kids, that way he wouldn't have had to feel guilty about never being there for Mark and me or our Mom and we wouldn't have to live our lives wondering if he would be coming home and there wouldn't have been so many disappointments and broken promises. But my military career is as good as over anyway, it's not like the President can make an exception for Jack and myself without revealing the nature of the situation to those without clearance."

Janet nodded and her lips slowly grew into a smile. "So you figured if people are thinking you're sleeping with your CO and having his baby no matter what you say or do, you might as well start sleeping with your CO and having his baby as you're already paying the price for it?"

"Something like that," she said, grinning. "Jack and I are trying to make the best out of a bad situation… It's not like this is the way he had pictured his career to go or how we would eventually get together. And well, if we happen to find personal happiness along the way then at least something good has come out of this."

"Good, I'm glad," the petite brunette said with a smile. "I just wanted to make sure you were sure about this and doing it for the right reasons. Not just because of you but also because of Colonel O'Neill."

"You're a good friend, Janet."

She smirked and got comfortable on the sofa. "That's right and I think you should reciprocate…"

Sam frowned, wondering what she was getting at. "I just told you-"

"No, no, I mean I want details!"

"Of…?"

"Oh come on," Janet said, rolling her eyes, "don't tell me you, Major Doctor Samantha Carter, had this epiphany without good reason. How could you possibly know you and the Colonel could make a personal relationship work and are compatible without testing the merchandise? I know you would have been skeptical at the least if Colonel O'Neill suddenly declared his love for you when he was trying to make you reconsider having an abortion yet something obviously made you change your mind…"

Sam knew her suddenly flaming cheeks had betrayed her before she had even spoken a word and buried her head in her hands. "Um, until my transfer is official Colonel O'Neill is still my commanding officer, so even if something untoward had happened between us I couldn't possibly put you in the difficult position of keeping it to yourself or reporting it to the base commander by confiding in you."

The Doctor groaned and threw a pillow in her direction. "That's just mean. Once you're reassigned to the labs I want details, Sam!"

"We'll see…"

"That," Janet said, pointing at the bag on the dining room table, "does look suspiciously like an overnight bag."

"Test run," she said quickly, grinning. "I just grabbed a few things so can see if this whole new living arrangement would work between us. He does have an excellent guestroom, you know."

She chuckled and shook her head. "With the unresolved sexual tension that's been hanging between the two of you for the better part of a decade there's no way you'll be spending the night in the guestroom! Not alone, at least."

Of course Janet was absolutely correct in her assumptions, but Sam wasn't about to admit it. Things between her and Jack were still so new and special that she wasn't ready to share it yet. Not to mention that she'd never been big on confiding every intimate detail of her relationships with friends. There were simply some things she preferred to keep to herself, or between her and Jack as it were. The only reason she was even at home was because they'd been delayed in leaving the base yesterday so they had decided against stopping by her place and instead Sam had taken an extra change of clothes from her locker. Jack had dropped her off here earlier today while he'd been on his way to the SGC to continue his talk with Hammond and Thor, so she could pack up some things and tidy up around her house.

"Your car also wasn't in front of the house when I got here," Janet mused aloud.

"Jack and I talked a lot on Friday and it was snowing heavily, so he didn't want me driving back home in my Volvo. He said he'd take Daniel with him today to retrieve my car," she explained, purposely not mentioning their visit to Charlie's grave.

"Daniel and I had lunch today and he said he'd be busy for at least a few more hours," she replied. "Why couldn't you and the Colonel simply pick up your car?"

Sam shrugged and got up to put her folders away. "Well, Jack figured he could drop Daniel off at my car who could then drive it back here or even the base where I could pick it up tomorrow, while he himself would go up to Winter Park to talk to Sara. He knows she still has a few acquaintances in the military or is friends with their wives or something and he figured she might get to hear about him knocking up his 2IC through the grapevine or even the news, depending on how severe the fallout is going to be. I told him it would probably be better coming from him, considering Charlie and their former marriage. Not that he can tell her the truth but she knows there are some strange things going on with our work after meeting his double and Crystal Charlie."

"Ah yes, I can see how that would be awkward if he'd be dropping you off at your car while he drives up to his ex-wife," Janet mumbled. "So," she said, taking a deep breath and looking around the house before changing the subject, "do you need help packing?"

"I'm not going to move right away, so that would be a no. An overnight bag will be just fine," she said. "You could give me a ride to Jack's place, though, if Daniel isn't going to show up in the next ten minutes with my car."

The Doctor nodded in agreement and followed her into the kitchen, where she watched as Sam put away her used dishes in the dishwasher. "Sure, I can drop you off there."

"So, how did your meeting with Thor go? Did you learn anything new from the information he could provide about Freyja's research?" Sam questioned once she was done.

"Unfortunately, there were still a lot of things I simply couldn't follow as it's too advanced for our understanding of genetics and medicine in general," Janet reluctantly admitted. "I made notes, though. Who knows, maybe someone like Doctor Sheffield can grasp some of the concepts, leading to a new scientific breakthrough."

She nodded in understanding, reminded of the time Thor had asked for her help in defeating the Replicators and how she hadn't been able to even grasp the concept of the metallic bugs because she didn't know what a keron pathway was. "But Nyan's translation was correct?"

"I believe so," she replied. "Thor also reassured me that your baby is completely human, despite the alien DNA we had found. He confirmed that was part of what makes Colonel O'Neill advanced and that you were right about it basically being an Ancient technology activation gene, producing proteins that allow interaction with certain gene-locked Ancient technology so to speak. Freyja simply created several embryos and tested the most favorable genetic combination, which was formed by several processes but the only one we know would be chromosomal crossover or recombination during meiosis, where homologues sites on two chromatids can exchange genetic information during the sexual reproduction process we call meiosis. The rest was beyond our understanding but it all resulted in the baby you're carrying."

"And they're not going to come after her?"

"No, they basically have all the genetic information they need from the tests Freyja did prior to implantation," Janet said.

Sam let out a sigh of relief at hearing this. "Well, that's good news. If you're ready to go, I'm just gonna grab a winter coat and some shoes," she said, already moving down the corridor. By the time she got back, dressed in a proper winter attire, Janet was standing in the living room with a mysterious grin on her face. "What's going on?" She asked cautiously as she went to get her overnight bag.

"I think you forgot to pack something…"

For a moment Sam wondered if her friend had somehow managed to find some sexy nightwear but that was impossible considering she hadn't left the living room… "What is it?"

Janet's grin widened and she pulled her hands from behind her back. "I think you're gonna need these for the baby."

Baby booties.

Sam immediately recognized the five pairs of tiny knitted booties with cute little furry animal heads Daniel had given her for Valentine's Day. Somehow, she had forgotten to throw them out… or maybe she had held on to them subconsciously, who knew? "Daniel gave me those a few weeks ago…"

"I know… he told me how the Colonel had given him hell for upsetting you," Janet said cautiously. "But I figured that you could get started on transforming the Colonel's guestroom into a nursery starting with your very first baby gift."

"You're right," she said, going up to her friend to take the booties from her. "I should probably thank Daniel for these later," she muttered to herself as she walked back to her bag and put them inside.


O'Neill Residence
Colorado Springs, CO

Jack slowly and methodically made his way through his house, searching for his intruder. He'd seen her coat and snow boots, items that hadn't been here when he'd driven her back to her place this morning before going to his meeting at the SGC. It was a pleasant surprise to come home to find her already here, he admitted to himself. Especially in this case, as her car hadn't been parked on the driveway so he had assumed she was still tidying up at home before dropping by. After his emotionally tense conversation with Sara he could certainly use some relaxation with Carter.

Sara had tearfully handed him the books she had used to read to Charlie when he'd been a baby as she had congratulated him on becoming a dad again. Jack had tried to refuse them but she'd insisted, saying that at least now they would be put to good use for Charlie's baby sister. He'd been too busy fighting back tears to come up with a retort or even a thank you and had numbly accepted the worn books before leaving. They were now lying on a side table in the corridor where they would remain until he'd find the courage to bring the topic up with Sam…

By the time Jack reached the bathroom he had tried to relax as best as possible before opening the door. "Hey you…"

"Jack," Carter said with a blinding smile after looking up.

"I almost skipped the bathroom expecting to find Goldilocks in my bed…"

She chuckled, the water in the tub making little waves as her frame shook with laughter, but the large amount of foam still managed to protect her modesty. "I'm sorry to disappoint."

Jack frowned and closed the door behind him before stepping up to the tub she was lying in. "Who says I'm disappointed? I can get used to finding a hot, gorgeous and naked Goldilocks in my tub," he said, reaching out to caress her cheek.

"I didn't mean to intrude; Daniel was just taking so long that I figured he'd taken my car back to base and I had Janet drive me over here only to find you weren't back yet either…"

"Hey, don't worry about it," he murmured, giving her a quick kiss on her crown. Odd how comfortable and normal that felt, he thought to himself. "You have a key and you're gonna move in here sometime soon anyway."

"I am?" Carter said teasingly.

"You better," Jack retorted as he straightened up. "Now, scoot over."

Her eyes went wide as he quickly started to undress himself but by the time he was standing in front of her naked, her shock had been replaced by admiration and she made room in the tub. "I never imagined you as enjoying a nice warm bath," she said.

"Well, I'll admit it took a while before I got over my sudden aversion of hot tubs after Hathor but a nice bath can do wonders for my knees and aching muscles after a long mission," he said, stepping in behind her. "I never should have insisted on watching the surveillance tapes, ignorance was bliss," he muttered as he lowered himself into the hot water.

"Hmm," Carter hummed as he sat down and pulled her back against his front. "This is nice."

Jack nodded in agreement, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his nose in her hair. "It is…" He took a deep breath, her scent and presence calming him. Silence reigned for a peaceful and comfortable moment as they both soaked up the warm water and each other's presence and Jack slowly let his hands descend until they rested on her bump. After a few seconds he could feel the baby move against his hand, eliciting a smile from him. "How were things with the Doc?"

"Fine," she said slowly. "Janet was a bit surprised to find out we were together now but she was happy for us."

He doubted that was all the little Napoleonic power monger had said on the matter but that was between the two friends; he knew the Doc had been aware of their feelings since the zatarc test and maybe even earlier about Carter's feelings for him, but he figured Fraiser wouldn't have told Sam she was happy for them if she hadn't meant it. And if she had problems with it he was sure she would take it up with him sooner rather than later; it wasn't like the petite woman was afraid to tell him what was on her mind or anything in spite of their respective ranks. "Good."

"She said Thor had reassured her the baby was fine too, completely human," Carter added.

"Well, that's a relief. It's been a while but I don't think they sell baby clothes that accommodate tails," he joked, even though it was a weight off his shoulders.

"Jack," she groaned, elbowing him in the ribs.

He chuckled in response, his breath ruffling her hair and ear, making her shudder. "Sorry," he mumbled, leaning forward to brush his lips against her neck. "When I was at the SGC Hammond got a message from the Tok'ra; apparently Jacob and Selmak were going on a new mission requiring their expertise so they won't be dropping by this week to help you with the weapon against the Kull Warriors."

To his surprise Sam merely sighed and snuggled closer against his chest, her head leaning back on his shoulder to give his mouth all the space it needed to continue its exploration. "Ah well, that's one thing less to worry about for now. At least this way I'll have more time to come up with a good way to explain the situation to Dad."

"True," Jack muttered between kisses.

"How was your visit with Sara?" She asked hesitantly, her hand gently squeezing his knee underwater.

He stopped his ministrations and tried to look her in the face as best he could. "It was…" He'd been about to say 'fine' but he knew that was a lie. "… okay. Difficult, but okay. She, er, gave me something. For the baby," Jack continued cautiously, unsure of how Carter would react to the gesture.

"What?"

"Some books, stories she used to read to Charlie when he was a baby… I couldn't refuse them but if you don't want-"

"That's very sweet and generous of her," Sam said softly, interrupting him. "I'd be honored to read them to our daughter."

Jack smiled, not just because of her acceptance but also because hearing her refer to the baby as their daughter still made his heart jump. "Thank you, Sam," he said, kissing her temple.

"You should put them in the nursery, next to our first baby gift," she said as she settled back in the tub.

"We have a nursery?" He questioned with a puzzled frown. "And another baby gift?"

"Your guestroom and remember how mad you were at Daniel at Valentine's Day?"

It took him a moment but then a light bulb went off in Jack's head. "The baby booties! Wait… you kept the booties?"

She smiled sheepishly and nodded. "Apparently I did; I had already forgotten about them but Janet found them before we left."

"Sweet!"

Chapter Text

O'Neill Residence
Colorado Springs, CO
March 7, 2004

Sam stretched languorously in the large bathtub, her hands resting on Jack's thighs and her head was lying on his shoulder while he was massaging her lower back. It probably wasn't the most ideal position for him to rub the sore muscles in her back but his chest was so firm, warm and comfy to rest against that she couldn't make herself lean forward to give him more room. Besides, he wasn't complaining either, although that could have something to do with how preoccupied his lips and tongue were with her neck and ear… "Hmm, this is nice," she murmured, flexing her fingers and playing with the sparse hairs on his thighs.

Jack chuckled in reply, his breath hitting her ear and eliciting a shiver that ran down her back. "I know, you've said that before… a couple of times, actually," he said in a smug tone.

"I think the pregnancy is turning my brain into mush," she retorted, smiling. It was definitely changing her body and heightening some of her senses but Sam was pretty sure it was his presence and those strong hands of his working their magic on her sensitive skin and sore muscles that had a detrimental effect on her cognitive functions.

"Well, we can't have that, now can we?" He questioned, pausing his ministrations.

She grunted something incomprehensible when he rested his chin in the crook of her neck. "Jack…"

He smiled against her skin in response to her complaining tone and placed his hands on her hips. "Guess that means you were enjoying what my fingers were doing," he muttered and she could feel his smile growing wider as she blushed. "Good thing I like having my hands on you then, eh?"

"Hmm," Sam murmured in agreement as his hands slid from her hips down to her thighs. After scooting back against him she pulled her legs in and placed her feet flat on the tub's bottom, to let her knees fall open with her outer thighs resting against his hairy legs. She smirked when she felt the evidence of his arousal poking against her lower back and pressed her rear against him. "Good things all around…"

Jack drew in a sharp breath at the contact, his fingers reflexively digging into her skin before he relaxed his hands and rested them on her inner thighs. Then he pushed back experimentally, grinding his erection against the swell of her six. "Carter," he growled against her shoulder.

She smiled against his instinctive reaction and turned her head towards him, catching his lips with her own over her shoulder. The kiss deepened quickly as she reached up to slide her fingers into his hair, pulling his mouth closer to hers. He rested his forehead against hers after they broke apart, both of them panting after the breath-stealing kiss that had left Sam's blood zinging through her body. "That was–" She gasped when one of his hands had found its way to her center and his fingers lazily started exploring her folds.

"Nice?" He asked teasingly, while his smile showed his dimples. His other hand slowly started its journey north again, trailing over her bump until he reached her breast and cupped it.

"Oh yeah," Sam said hoarsely. "It's really, really good." She arched her back, pressing her ass back against him while pushing her breast further into his hand, enjoying the way he was kneading it and playing with her hard nipple.

"Thought you might like it," Jack whispered against her lips. One of his fingers was teasing her opening, circling it, while he used his thumb to rub her clit.

Her own free hand came up to cup her other breast, heavy with arousal and yearning to be touched as well. She copied his movements and simultaneously circled her hips, wanting more from his teasing fingers. "Jack," she moaned, making a conscious effort to regulate her breathing as he intensified his ministrations but failing miserably. "Oh, don't- Ow!" Sam huffed, wincing at the sudden kick.

"Are you okay?" He asked worriedly, immediately removing his hands from her.

She grimaced as another hard kick followed and placed her hand on her abdomen, hoping to calm the baby. "It's just… the baby. Damn," she gritted her teeth at another kick. Doctor Rosenberg had warned her about the baby becoming more active soon on the phone when Sam had cancelled the abortion and the obstetrician had also requested she'd schedule an appointment for a new ultrasound and check-up this week. The woman had assured her that the baby was probably fine and the fact that she had already been aware of the baby moving and even Jack was able to feel it sometimes was most likely down to the placement of the placenta and a lack of space for the baby, as Sam's bump still wasn't very large. "I think she's stretching or maybe just trying to break out," Sam muttered, as she got another kick at the exact same spot.

"But you're okay, right?" Jack repeated, sounding scared, as he placed a hand near hers.

"Yeah, I'm… fine," she replied slowly. "The doctor said this was to be expected as there isn't much room in there. We're both fine," she reassured him. "It's just…"

He moved around to get a better look at her. "What?"

"I've got to pee."

"What?" he reiterated, frowning.

Sam rolled her eyes and pressed back at where she felt the baby. "She's kicking my bladder and now I've got to pee."

"Now?"

"I can make it to the toilet," she said irritably, trying to get up. "I'm sorry…"

Jack supported her as she stood and climbed out of the tub. "Not your fault," he said, smiling as his eyes roamed her body.

Sam made a shooing motion at him before sitting down on the seat, not really wanting or needing an audience. "It kind of ruined the mood, though," she replied.

"We'll just have to wait until she's asleep or at least quieted down a bit," he said, shrugging. "Besides, it is somewhat cliché," Jack added with a smirk, waving his hand around to encompass their surroundings. "The water is also cooling down, so I'll just turn on the shower."

Huffing in reply she tried to relax and empty her bladder in the hopes of calming the baby. Trying to focus on something else her gaze soon landed on Jack as he slowly rose from his seated position, the water and suds slowly dripping down his toned torso and muscled calves in what Sam could only describe as a mouth-watering picture. She only got a brief glimpse of his impressive erection and the wiry dark and silver hair surrounding the base of his cock before he turned around to start the shower. However, the view of his six was almost equally appealing, especially as some of the suds from his shoulders were still making their way down his tanned back at an impossibly slow rate.

It was only when the water from the shower hit the tiles that Sam snapped out of her hormone-induced haze, for which she also blamed the baby – or more like the pregnancy itself. Fortunately, now that her bladder was empty and she cleaned herself up the baby had stopped her acrobatics as well. Feeling relieved Sam got up, flushed the toilet and cautiously walked over to the sink to wash her hands, all the while aware of the fact that she was leaving behind an equally wet trail of water as the one from the tub to the toilet. By the time she had made her way back to the shower without slipping on the slippery bathroom tiles she was disappointed to realize she had missed Jack lathering up and rinsing off; soapsuds were circling the drain and Jack himself was just wet and slippery – and tanned all over.

"Hey," he smirked at her over his shoulder, stepping aside to give her some room. "I was just ensuring all the water wasn't going to waste without you," he said, grabbing her hands and pulling her against him.

"I'm sorry," Sam apologized again, aware that he was still aroused with the way she was pressed against him with the water hitting her back.

Jack shrugged dismissively and gave her a quick kiss. "Won't be the last time the little munchkin is gonna interrupt us," he replied. "Although I was kinda hoping it wouldn't start until after she was born. Our precocious little girl clearly takes after you, eh?"

"She clearly has your impatience and the need to bug me when I'm doing important stuff," she quipped.

"Making out with me is important stuff?" He asked, smirking.

Sam narrowed her eyes at him but the effect was somewhat lost when her stomach growled loudly. "I do believe we were doing a little bit more than simply making out, Jack O'Neill."

His smirk turned into one of those rare smiles as he brought her hands up to his chest. "Maybe," Jack drawled, placing his hands on her hips. "And while I would love to pick up where we left off," he said, emphasizing the word by grinding against her, "I think it might be best if I start dinner before you pass out in the middle of more 'important stuff'."

"But-"

"You finish your shower," he said, pressing a quick kiss to her forehead.

Sam had barely blinked before he'd wrapped a towel around his waist and dashed out of the bathroom…


Jack had quickly dried off in the bedroom and put one of his many black long-sleeved shirts and a pair of sweats, knowing that if everything went according to plan he wouldn't be wearing his clothes for long anyway. He'd also gone into his home office to collect some stuff before moving into the kitchen to start on dinner. As far as he could tell Carter was still in the bathroom and probably still finishing up her shower for as long as she had hot water, but he really didn't want to dwell on that too long – if he hadn't gotten out of there when he did he would have taken her right there up against the wall. Not that he would've expected her to object to it and he certainly wasn't averse to hot and steamy shower sex, but considering how tired she'd been lately he thought the bedroom would be more appropriate and then they would just call it an early night.

Even though he might have some trouble falling asleep or wake up way too early after having rested long enough in that case, he also knew he wouldn't mind passing the time simply lying in bed with Samantha Carter snuggled up to him. At least she would get plenty of shuteye that way, which was good for both her and the baby. Besides, who said they couldn't have hot and steamy shower sex in the morning? After all, they were finally in a relationship and as far as he was concerned they would have the rest of their lives together – and that would include many hot showers.

Shaking himself he tried to forget about how hot she'd looked completely naked, with the pregnancy undeniably visible on her slim figure because of her swollen abdomen and full breasts. Jack started to chop the vegetables more aggressively as he tried to block the image from his mind, only barely keeping his arousal under control. When he was done he added the veggies to the frying pan, put a lid on it and turned down the stove. After clearing the counter and wiping it clean, he double-checked the stove's settings and collected the items he'd brought with him. Then he went into the corridor to retrieve the old books Sara had given him and made his way to the guestroom.

The room itself was a bit bare, with simply a dresser in one corner, a desk and chair in the opposite one and one of those easy-to-stow away fold-out beds on the left of the door opening. It had been a while since someone had used the room but he always made sure to clean it afterwards and strip the bed… he just never really made the effort to actually stow away the foldable bed and it was still right where he'd left it, nothing covering the bare mattress except for a bare pillow but upon taking a closer look he saw the difference; right there in the middle of the bed.

Baby booties.

One pair of yellowish knitted booties with little lion heads with brown manes atop the feet. Smirking Jack entered the room and picked up the tiny-sized booties, taking a good look at them for the first time. Seeing something pink in his periphery he turned and noticed the little piglet booties lying on the pillow. After a quick look around he noticed another yellowish pair sitting on the dresser and upon closer inspection he realized these booties had a giraffe head.

Jack put the three pair on the dresser and placed the other items he'd brought with him next to them. With his hands free he went over to the bed to fold it up and stow it away. It took him almost five minutes – and nearly cost him a finger – before the darn thing was folded up correctly and now he remembered why he'd never bothered in the first place. Not to mention it weighed a ton! Easy to fold up and stow away, yeah right! For now it would just have to sit there, he decided. Maybe he could store it in the basement or something, later. Perhaps make a new guestroom there for when Cassie or Teal'c were staying over… or Carter's family once she had moved in here! Oy! He hadn't really thought about having Jacob and Selmak under the same roof… Ah well, once they would finally come to Earth and learn of these new, er, developments between him and Carter good ol' Jake might not even want to stay over. Ha!

Okay, that probably wasn't fair to Carter. Clearly they still had some things to work out before the baby got here. Like when she was moving in here and how they could possibly fit all her stuff into his house. Didn't she have bookshelves in every room of her house? And all of them filled with actual books? The thick and heavy kind? Hum, maybe they should look into transforming the basement into a library for her. He had no doubt that if anyone could work their magic on fitting their furniture and other crap together it was her, though. Knowing Carter she probably had some kind of formula to decide who got to keep what and how many things…

Besides, if sacrificing some furniture, closet space, his basement and guestroom meant he got to have Samantha Carter and their baby in his life then Jack O'Neill certainly wasn't going to complain!

"Jack?"

Startled by her voice, he silently chastised himself for getting lost in thought and not hearing her exiting the bathroom. "Coming," he called out, taking a last look at the dresser before leaving the soon-to-be nursery. The door to the bathroom was open and he could see some droplets of water on his wooden floor, leading to the master bedroom. Apparently she either hadn't noticed him in the guestroom or she hadn't wanted to disturb him until now, he thought to himself as he made his way over to her. "What's up?"

"Oh, hi," she smiled shyly at him from the center of his bedroom. "I can't find my overnight bag." Frowning, she glanced around for no doubt the umpteenth time and held up her hands in a helpless gesture.

"I put it away," he explained.

She had an adorably confused look on her face and he knew he was enjoying this far too much. "I had put it on the bed for when I got out of the bath," she said. "I was going to put it away later, honest. But I don't understand where the clothes I laid out have gone." She gestured at the oversized robe she was wearing now as if to explain why she had borrowed it. "Did you put them back in the bag or something?"

"Er, no," Jack said, suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable. He strode over to his dresser and opened the second drawer. "Here are your things."

Carter suddenly appeared at his side. "Oh, okay… um, why are they in there?"

"Because."

"Because… why?" She questioned, scrunching up her nose in confusion.

Jack shrugged shyly and gestured at the dresser. "Because I got you a drawer."

"You got me a drawer?"

"Yes, I got you a drawer," he said patiently.

She frowned uncomprehendingly. "Why?"

"So you can, um, put your things in here instead of dragging an overnight bag with you every time you come over," Jack explained awkwardly. "I promise to, er, make more space for when you decide you're ready to move in but I thought, you know, that a drawer would do for now."

"Oh…"

"If you need more space I can probably empty another one," he hastened to say.

She smiled brightly and shook her head. "No, this drawer is perfect," she reassured him. "For now."

"For now," Jack agreed with an impish smile. "We should probably go to the kitchen before dinner burns or you faint from eating too little today, whichever comes first."

"I had lunch," she protested. "Besides, I'm not dressed yet."

He smirked at her and tugged lightly on the robe's sash. "You look absolutely perfect to me."

"Jack…"

"Oh c'mon, we both know you'll be naked and in my bed soon after dinner anyway, goldilocks."

She rolled her eyes in mock exasperation and grabbed his hands to lead him out of the room. "Well, when you put it like that…"

"Exactly!" Jack replied, squeezing her hands and bringing them up to press a kiss on them. "Aw, look you're all prune-y. How long had you been in that tub before I got home?" He questioned as they walked down the corridor and towards the dining room.

"I honestly don't know," Carter said, shrugging. "Long enough to enjoy your vanilla-scented bubble bath."

"Ah," he murmured. "Why don't you sit down while I get us some dinner." He waited until she sat down at the dining table to grab some plates and get the food off the stove. A moment later he was back and placed the stuff on the table before dashing off to get both of them a glass of water.

She was grinning when he finally took a seat opposite her. "Omelets, again?"

"Well, it's not like I had a lot of time to do some grocery shopping," he said sheepishly.

"Can you even make something else?"

He huffed mockingly at her teasing tone. "Hey, I'm only doing this for you, ya know? I could have a nice juicy steak in a few hours because I've got those in the freezer but I figured that would take too long for you and it might be a bit cold with the grill on the deck… but I didn't want you to starve. Besides, I added some pathetic-looking vegetables to the omelet, just for you and the baby."

"Gee, thanks," she grinned, shaking her head.

"I could order takeout," Jack offered cautiously, unsure whether she was being serious or not.

Carter's eyes widened in surprise. "No, don't be silly! I was just teasing. I actually really like your omelets… Oh!" She gasped, putting a hand on her abdomen. "I think that means we both like your omelets."

"Excellent," he smirked, rubbing his hands together in glee. "Now, let's eat."


After dinner Jack told her he wanted to show her something and dragged her off to the guestroom. Sam barely had time to wonder whether he had already been in here and seen the baby booties she'd placed there or not before he opened the door and led her inside. To her surprise the fold-out bed was neatly stowed away in a corner with the pillow lying atop of it and the knitted booties she'd placed on them were now sitting on the dresser, along with a stack of worn children's books and… two picture frames.

With two steps she was standing in front of the dresser and picked up the frames. Both were framing a sonogram, the classic black and white picture in a dark brown frame decorated with childish strokes of paint spelling out 'dad' at the bottom and a few colorfully painted stars and what looked like a baseball, bat and glove on the other sides while the yellow-orange 3D ultrasound picture was in a black frame with Jack's name painted in white letters at the top and seemingly random stars on the other three sides. Upon closer inspection of the frame Sam recognized the Pisces, Aquila, Cetus, Equuleus, Centaurus and Sextans constellations – the glyphs to dial Hanka, minus the point of origin. "Cassie made you this," she said, holding up the black frame but still confused about the sonograms. "I don't understand…"

"I took the ultrasound pictures with me after your amniocentesis three weeks ago," Jack said from behind her.

She turned around in surprise and tried to read his face. "But… we didn't even know she was yours at the time," Sam replied slowly. "Or even mine, for that matter."

He shrugged and took the pictures from her. "After you told me you didn't care about keeping the sonograms I figured you'd end up regretting that decision, so I pocketed them before taking you home."

"But you knew I was already contemplating an abortion at the time, so how could you-"

"I suspected you would regret not having the pictures no matter which decision you'd make in the end."

Sam smiled warmly at him. "So you were going to keep them safe for me?"

"Yeah," he smiled shyly, "I thought that once you had processed everything you might want them back."

"Doctor Rosenberg wants me to make a new appointment this week and she said she'd perform another ultrasound then. We should ask her to print it and then we can add it to our little collection here," she suggested.

Jack's smile grew and he neatly placed the two frames back on the dresser. "I'd like that."

"In that case we're going to need more frames," she said pensively.

"After Fraiser gave us the results of the paternity test I got these two frames out for the sonograms, but if you want different ones then-"

Sam placed a hand on his arm and interrupted him. "No, I think they're very fitting. I know Cassie made you the black one and I'm guessing the other one was made by Charlie?" She asked gently, never sure about how to broach the topic of his late son with him. But she hoped him showing her the frame meant he was trying to let her in.

"Yeah, for Father's Day… Charlie was on the baseball team and we used to play catch in the backyard all the time," Jack explained, gesturing at the painted frame, "and he was the reason I got interested in astronomy. We did a lot of stargazing together. Cassie made that one for my birthday a couple of years ago."

"I know; she gave all of us homemade picture frames for our birthdays that year."

He righted the frames and placed the booties around them. "Well, I'm sure she wouldn't mind me using it for this picture."

"She doesn't know about the baby yet," she cautioned him. "Janet and I didn't think it was a good idea to tell her unless I decided to keep the baby."

"She'll probably be thrilled," Jack said, smirking. "I wouldn't be surprised if she offered herself as babysitter."

Sam nodded in agreement, knowing the alien girl had experience babysitting from before she had lost her planet and had started doing it part-time on vacations or in the weekends for a couple of people in Janet's neighborhood. At least that meant someone would be happy with the news after they told them, as she doubted her Dad and brother would be very happy about it once she screwed up the courage to tell them. Fortunately those closest to her and Jack seemed to be excited about the news, she thought to herself as she glanced at the booties. Daniel would probably be pleased to know he gave them their very first baby gift. "Did you see the other two pairs?"

"Pairs of what, booties?"

"Yes, two white ones," she explained. Looking around she spotted them a few feet away, the bunny pair on the desk and the elephants on the desk chair. "Ah, there they are."

Jack followed her line of sight and quickly retrieved them, adding them to the collection. "Well, it's definitely a start… we might need to do some painting and maybe buy some more furniture and clothes, but I guess we have plenty of time to prep the nursery."

"About four months left," Sam said, suddenly feeling a bit anxious.

"Don't worry about it, Carter," he said gently, sliding his arm around her waist. "I know it's gonna take some time for you to adjust after… you know. So, there's no rush, we'll just slowly but surely transform this room into a nursery. Baby steps."

She smiled and tried to relax as she leaned into him. He was right and she briefly wondered how he'd known that the idea of going shopping for baby things as soon as possible was scaring her a bit, but then she realized he probably just knew her very well. Or maybe the idea was a bit daunting to him too; after all, neither of them had expected things to take this turn and for them to end up parents-to-be. "Baby steps," Sam agreed.

"We're all going to have to readjust," he said. "Not just you and me, here, in our personal life but everyone at work too once your transfer is through and you feel comfortable announcing your pregnancy."

"I know."

Jack nuzzled her hair and pressed a kiss to her temple. "No matter what happens, though, you and I are going to be just fine. Or hadn't you noticed how smoothly we've transitioned from CO and 2IC to just Jack and Sam?"

"I was pretty amazed at that," she admitted with a soft smile. It was true that she was surprised how easily the change in their relationship had occurred and how comfortable they were together. It didn't feel strange or forbidden to reach out and touch his arm or lean into his chest. The real test would probably be when they both got back to work and their romantic involvement became public knowledge but for the moment Sam was still reveling in how right it felt to be with him.

"Amazed, eh?" He asked with twinkling eyes. "Then maybe it's time we go back to that 'important stuff' we were doing before we were so rudely interrupted by our little one…"

Sam grinned after he briefly touched her bump and grabbed her hand to tug her towards the door. "We should probably move it to the bedroom this time, though."

"Yeah sure, you betcha!"

 

The End…