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26 December 2006 @ 02:49 pm
Fic: What's Simple is True, 8/10 (SG1, 12A/PG-13)  
What’s Simple is True
By Kyizi

Disclaimer:
Stargate: SG1 and all related items do not belong to me. Only the story and all original characters therein are mine. No copyright infringement intended.

All notes etc in Chapter One


Previous Chapters

| Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven |



* * *

What’s Simple is True

* * *



“What happened?”

It was an instinctive response, she assumed. Being woken in the middle of the night by your wayward 2IC who happened to be having problems with her alien children was bound to invoke that kind of response. Given her real reasons for being on his doorstep, she suddenly wondered if it was a good idea to be there after all.

“I…I’m sorry, Jack, I can just see you t-”

“Fercryinoutloud, Carter, get in.” He stood aside and ushered her in the door. Closing it behind her he muttered, “It’s four in the morning, this had better be good.”

“Really, Sir, I can just-”

“Back to ‘Sir’ so soon?”

She shrugged. “Sorry, ‘Carter’ and ‘Sir’ just seem to go hand in hand.” She almost winced at her wording, but couldn’t help smiling when she realised he was grinning at her. Liam’s reaction to their earlier conversation flitted through her mind and she suddenly felt very uncomfortable.

As if noticing her change in demeanour, he ushered her quickly into the kitchen and put the kettle on. They said nothing as he went about the ritual of making their coffee and she tried very hard not to notice that the dishes in the sink appeared to be in twos. There was a very domestic feel to the house, something she hadn’t noticed right away as it was so foreign in his home, but she suddenly felt smothered by its presence.

“I should go,” she said abruptly, standing so fast that the chair she had been sitting on clattered to the floor behind her.

“Sam, you’ll wake your father,” he said, shushing her and she was so taken aback by his words that she said nothing as he righted the chair and sat her back down. “He’s upstairs in the spare room, but the walls aren’t soundproof, Carter.” He crossed his arms and frowned. “What’s the sudden hurry?” he asked. “You’re the one that woke me at oh-four-hundred and then decided to wake the dead from my kitchen.”

“I’m sorry, I just…did you say my Dad was staying here?”

Jack shrugged, turning away from her as the kettle finished boiling. “He usually stays here for a few days before he goes to visit Mark, Cheryl, and the kids. Made sense to stay while he was here to see you. T stayed on base, so he could call Ryac in the morning. Let him know he wouldn’t be back for a while.”

He finished making the coffee in silence. A few moments later he handed her a mug and sat down on the stool next to her.

“You called me Sam,” she said belatedly.

“You’ve been calling me ‘Jack’ since you got back,” he countered.

“I wasn’t complaining,” she said, smiling slightly. “It was just… You know, you used to call me Sam, in the beginning, when we first started working together. How crazy is that? Before we really knew each other we were on more familiar terms than we are now that...well, now.”

“Carter…”

“I don't mind,” she said softly, “really.” Blushing slightly, she gave him a quick flash of a smile. “You always managed to say a lot with just 'Carter'”

“Sometimes too much,” he muttered.

“Sometimes not enough.”

He seemed surprised by her admission and she watched him carefully, watched as the realisation hit him. He finally understood why she was there, talking to him in his kitchen in the middle of the night. They had always needed to be able to hide behind something, whether it was the four walls of a room, or even something as simple as words or names that mean so much more than they appeared. Like that, the night was the only thing they had left to hide behind, because they both knew that too much had happened and there was a lot of anger still to address for anything to be said without being able to lock it away in the morning. Fourteen years might have passed, but still neither one of them was quite ready to have everything out in the open.

“Why did you leave?” he said suddenly and she could finally see all the carefully controlled anger, disappointment, and grief he had been hiding. “Come on, Carter, you owe me that much.”

“No, Jack, I owe you so much more, but I can’t give it to you, I never could. That’s why I left.”

“You went off with another man because of that?”

“No, I left with a man who loved me, a man that I loved, and I lived a happy life that I could never have had otherwise.”

“You could have had anything you wanted, Carter, all you ever had to do was tell someone.”

“I couldn’t tell anyone! There are rules and regulations and-”

“No.” The hard edge to his voice suddenly tripled and she instantly stopped talking. “You do not get to blame this on the Military. You do not get to blame this on the Rules and Regulations, Sam, because we both know that if it was what you’d wanted then we would have found a way.”

They were no longer even pretending they were talking about her leaving anyone other than him. Somehow that made it easier to let go of everything.

“It didn’t matter what I wanted, because you didn’t want it!”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You left it all in that room, Jack. You agreed that was where it had to stay,” Sam said, her voice suddenly void of any anger. “You didn’t want to discuss it, you didn’t want anything more to do with it, so I was left hanging on and pretending that it didn’t hurt and that it didn’t matter and that I didn’t care that I had nothing but my work. I didn’t just lose the possibility of there ever being an ‘us’ in that room, I lost my friend. You barely spoke to me after that, not if it wasn’t to do with work, or Daniel, or Teal’c. We barely even hung out as a team. God, even Janet didn’t know what to say to me.”

He was staring at her and she was suddenly unnerved by how still he had been and how silent he was still being. When he didn’t so much as move, she decided to continue, decided to get it out whilst she still could…before she started to feel as if she was betraying the very memory of everything she’d ever shared with her husband.

“When Orlin showed up, my life got more complicated than it had ever been and…you didn’t believe me. No one did. I’d helped you save this planet so many times and I’d always been there for you all when I was needed. We’d seen so much by then and still you didn’t believe in me. You all thought I was stressed and imagining things and…he was real and he saw me. He didn’t see Major Carter who did nothing but hide behind her work and try to pretend she wasn’t in love with her CO, he just saw me. And he loved me. And I was so lonely.”

She tried not to focus on the fact that she was crying, or even on the fact that she had just admitted she had been in love with him, instead she found herself focussing on the fact that his eyes were somewhat bright.

“I loved him, Jack. Maybe not the day I left with him, because God knows I barely knew him, but I fell in love with him. It wasn’t a fairytale, but he wasn’t a replacement. Even when I tried to leave him and come back to you all, I loved him and making that decision almost broke me. Liam helped put that back together and so did Alice and Sarah…but I could never let you all go. Never.”

They sat in silence, just staring at each other, almost having a conversation with their eyes. But she had been gone a long time and they had both changed, had both gone through so much, that there were words missing from that silent communication they had once possessed. It was as if she was trying to remember the fragments of a foreign language she had once spoken fluently, but just hadn’t used in a long time. It was almost there, but they were both struggling with the intricacies. And it was the intricacies that had defined them. It was what hadn’t been said that had told them everything. And it was maddening to be unable to find the translation.

“Start at the beginning,” Jack said softly.

He wasn’t ready to speak just yet. This was one thing he needed all the details for before he could even begin respond. And that she understood.

“He gave me a choice,” she began. “When he came back in that light, he didn’t offer to fix everything for me, or to be my knight in shining armour.” Jack snorted and she smiled, both of them knowing that she was the last person to willingly play damsel in distress. “He just…offered to take me away from it all. He didn’t even say that I had to be with him, he just…he told me he loved me and that he just wanted me to be happy.

“He was always so open about everything. Frankly, Sir, it bugged the crap out of me most of the time. But…it just sounded so good. I was so tired of everything, so tired of pretending that I was okay with everything when I wasn’t. I missed you and Daniel and Teal’c. When we left everything in that room, it didn’t just affect us. We played the part of SG1, but we weren’t the same. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to be happy and…I was going to resign my commission. I was going to become Doctor Samantha Carter instead of Major Carter. I was going to do that for you and it terrified me. I never wanted to be in that position, Jack, I always promised myself that I would never let anything get in the way of my dreams and…and I was willing to give it up for you.”

“I wouldn’t have let you, you know.”

She smiled sadly at him. “I know that. I knew that then. That was the problem. You didn’t want me. Please, Jack, don’t interrupt me. Not until I…let me finish while I can.” He nodded, but didn’t look particularly happy about it.

“When Orlin offered to take me away, I was just so tired of it all and I said yes before I could really think about it. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to be happy.”

She took a long drink of her coffee and continued.

“When he took me back, the others weren’t very happy. I couldn’t see them, of course, but, after a while, when they realised that Orlin was keeping me around, some of them started to speak to me. They…they’d come to whatever planet we were on and take corporeal form for a while. We’d talk about anything and everything and…it was nice, but it wasn’t home. Asha was the most curious about me and I guess we became friends of a sort. I think it was her who told Orlin I wasn’t happy.

“We were on P4X 898 when you came…you, Daniel, Teal’c…and Lieutenant Fairgreave.”

“He lasted about a month…which is a month longer than McKay.”

Sam laughed, remembering Daniel’s stories about the man who hadn’t even made it through one debrief before Jack had yelled, ‘Next!’ and refused to even acknowledge that the Astrophysicist was still in the room. McKay had apparently stormed off in a huff and refused to return until he received a written apology from the then-Colonel O’Neill. Daniel had forged the signature and McKay had joined SG2. She’d really have to ask Paul how that was going.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts, realising that Jack was waiting for her to continue. “When I saw you all, I just knew that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I watched you all interacting and I just missed it. I missed it so much that it hurt and…I needed to go home. If I’d thought I could just come back to you then, I would have, but I didn’t know how you’d react if I suddenly…no, that’s a lie, I knew exactly how you’d react and I just couldn’t handle that.

“We followed you back through the Stargate and waited on the base until you left. I don’t know why Orlin didn’t just take me away himself, he had the power, but…I guess he knew I needed to see you all and make sure you were all okay. When you saw me in that lift I…how did you know I was there?”

Jack shrugged, but didn’t answer. She shook her head and continued.

“We moved from place to place, but everything reminded me of home. By the time we arrived in California I’d had enough moving about and we stayed there. I tried to be a teacher for a while,” she said, smiling as he tried not to laugh. “Yeah, it didn’t work out so well. Orlin kept changing my credentials when I got bored and felt the need for a change of career and we changed our names a lot, moved when we could. We didn’t…we weren’t together at first. That happened after we came back to Earth and settled down. I tried to be happy, but it was so hard and I missed you all…” she trailed off, not sure if there were some things that just weren’t meant to be shared.

“Sam.” His quiet prompt was enough.

“It was Charlie’s birthday,” she whispered, glancing up at him. “I couldn’t get the date out of my head. All I could think about was that I wasn’t there for you. You never really let any of us in, but I always knew it was enough that we were there. I lost track of time before we came back to Earth, so the previous year I hadn’t even thought about it and when I realised that I felt even worse. I just…snapped. I packed my bags, booked myself on the next flight, and headed straight to the airport.”

“But you didn’t come back.”

“No,” she said softly, “I didn’t. I collapsed at the airport and was taken to hospital. I didn’t know I was pregnant until they told me I’d almost lost the baby. After that…we never spoke about it again and we just tried to be a happy family. I loved him, Jack, and I love my son…I just wanted everything to stop being so complicated.”

“Why did you call him Liam?”

“I wanted to remember you all, but somehow I thought Orlin might not appreciate it if I called him Jack Daniel.”

Jack smiled. “Hey, that’s a good whisky.”

Sam groaned. “That wasn’t what I meant. That never even occurred to me. And it’s not even a proper whisky.”

“True.” Jack’s smile faded and he cleared his throat. “Did Orlin know?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so…I think he suspected, but I have no idea if he actually knew for sure. I didn’t call him Liam because of…I just wanted to remember you all. I was thinking back to all our time off world and I remembered those days we spent on P4Y 742. We spent two days just sitting around while Daniel tried to translate that rock carving and…I think that was the best time we’d ever spent off world. The night’s lasted so long and we actually talked. All of us. It was the only time I you ever really spoke to me about your past. I remembered what you said about always wanting to call Charlie after your grandfather and…naming my children after you all was the only connection I had left to this life. I thought about calling him after my dad, but I couldn’t. I knew it’d hurt too much.

“We moved to North Carolina before Liam was born,” she continued, picking up her narrative again and absently wondering how he felt about the fact that she’d changed so much; the ‘old Sam’ would never have felt comfortable talking about herself for so long. The new Sam wasn’t exactly thrilled with the fact either.

“I wanted a fresh start and I didn’t want to start my child’s life with the fact that I’d almost walked out on his father.” She smiled suddenly. “Orlin was so sure it was going to be a girl. He decorated the entire room in purple; I’d warned him that if he painted it pink I’d hurt him,” she said, smirking at Jack. “When Liam was born, he spent the two days I was in hospital visiting and the nights redecorating the entire room and getting rid of the dolls and ponies.” She laughed. “He was so excited and…I was happy, Jack. I wasn’t complete, but I was so happy. I spent years doing research at the local university, filling in for lecturer’s teaching first year Physics and Astronomy…it wasn’t perfect, but it was close.

“When the girls were born I…I thought that was it. My life was perfect. So when they were old enough to go to Kindergarten, I decided it was time to maybe get back into…well, as close to what I wanted as I could. It was…life was good and then…”

“What happened?” Jack asked when she trailed off.

“There was a fire. Orlin had worked as a vet since before the girls were born, he loved animals, and…he was on call at the stables a few miles outside of town and…there was an accident and…Orlin had already become mostly human again, he retained only a little of his power, so when the whole building went on fire, he…he tried to save everyone, all the horses, as well…he thought he’d be fine, that he’d be able to heal. He used up the last of his energy to become human again…hoping that it would give him the strength to…but his injuries…he was… His face Jack, he…”

“Come here.”

Jack tugged on her arm and pulled her into his embrace. Something about it struck her as inappropriate, but more than anything she just needed to be held. She’d cried openly for her husband only once since he had died. That night in Liam’s room after the funeral had been the only time she’d truly let her emotions take over. Now, almost two years later, having reached that point where she felt she had told the last of her secrets, she was finally able to let go.


* * *


“Should we wake her?”

“Nah, let her sleep. I spoke to Daniel this morning. The girls couldn’t find her and all Liam knew was that she had someone she had to speak to.”

“How’s she doing?”

“She’s…Carter.”

“Thanks, Jack, that explains everything.”

“What? You were eavesdropping, you know as much as I do.”

“I wasn’t eavesdropping, you two were making enough noise to wake the dead.”

“Yeah, well…she’ll be fine.”

“She always is.”

Sam smiled slightly as she debated how much longer she should wait in the hallway. She was actually glad her father had overheard her the previous night, it was one less time she had to go through everything. Finally letting go of everything had completely drained her and it hadn’t taken much persuasion on Jack’s part to talk her into staying. She’d refused to take his room, however, and had insisted on taking the fold down couch in his den. Somehow, despite the circumstances, she’d had the best night’s sleep she could remember having in a long time.

Deciding she’d waited long enough, she took a deep breath and entered the kitchen. “Morning,” she said, smiling at her father. She hugged him briefly, instantly relaxing when she caught Jack’s eyes. He smiled at her a little and nodded.

“So, kiddo,” her dad said, pulling out of her embrace. “I was thinking I’d quite like to take my Grandkids to the zoo today.”

She smiled and accepted the coffee Jack was handing her. “The girls would jump at the chance, but Liam has too much of his father in him; he thinks zoos are inhumane and if you mention it to him he’s likely to chew your ear off for few hours.”

“And he wants to be in the Military?”

Sam grinned. “He’s a very complicated boy.”

“Takes after his mother,” Jack said, indicating that they should sit. He finished making breakfast and handed out the plates, before sitting opposite Sam. They chatted amicably throughout breakfast, making sure not to touch on anything to do with her situation and, just as they were clearing away their plates, the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Jacob said, quickly excusing himself.

Sam stood and started clearing the table, ignoring the fact that Jack was watching her quietly. She started to fill the sink, jumping when his hand covered hers. She hadn’t even heard him coming up behind her.

“Leave it, I’ll get them later.”

“Okay.” She cleared her throat and stepped away from him. There was nothing to hide behind and she was well aware of the fact that he was planning on saying something that was best left unspoken.

“Sam.”

She stopped fidgeting and looked at him. He didn’t speak, instead he let his eyes do the talking and she smiled, realising that she knew exactly what he was trying to say. For the first time since her return, she was truly able to believe that everything would be okay.

“Momma!”

Sam jumped and turned around, grinning and only just managing to catch Alice, who had thrown herself into the air. She settled her daughter on one hip and turned to ruffle Sarah’s hair. Liam was standing in the doorway, eyeing Jack warily and she inwardly cursed, wishing she’d thought to warn Jack that Liam wasn’t likely to be overly friendly with him today.

“Momma,” Alice said, tugging on her hair, which was still hanging loosely around her face. “Liam said that man was our Grampa.”

Sam grinned at her father. “That’s because he is.”

“Really?”

Sam nodded.

Sarah tugged on her trouser leg and she looked down at her other daughter. “What is it, sweetie?”

“Why is there a lady inside Grampa’s head?”

Sam groaned. If there was one thing she hadn’t wanted to deal with today it was Sarah’s sudden willingness to talk about her abilities. Before Sam could answer, however, Sarah giggled.

“She’s funny. She said Grampa Jake’s a stick in the mud.”

“Hey!”

Everyone laughed, but there was a strange undercurrent of uncertainty in the room with them now. No one was quite sure how to handle the sudden realisation that Sarah could talk to the alien inside her grandfather’s head, least of all Sam.

“I need to sit down,” she said, feeling as if that phrase had been uttered more in the last few days than it ever had during either of her pregnancies. However, with Sarah still wrapped around one of her legs, she couldn’t really move.

“Can we go to the zoo with Grampa Jake?” Sarah asked, seeming unperturbed by the fact that her mother looked rather like she was about to faint.

Jacob seemed startled. “I hadn’t even asked them yet,” he said with a smile.

“Zoos are-”

“Not now, Liam, please,” Sam said and Liam glared at her.

“Whatever.” He turned his glare on Jack, then turned and headed back towards the front door.

“Daniel’s trying to get Katie to put her shoes on,” Jacob said when Sam made to go after him. “He’s still out there. I’m sure he can handle it.”

“Auntie Amy had to go to work,” Alice said, loosely braiding one side of her mother’s hair. “And Katie said she didn’t want to wear shoes today. Or pants, but Uncle Daniel wouldn’t let her leave the house without them on.”

“Momma,” Sarah asked quietly, not waiting for Alice to finish before speaking over her and Sam almost missed what she was saying. “Why is Liam angry at Jack?” She closed her eyes and, given that she didn’t want to spell out the answer to her six year old daughter, tried her best to close off her mind as well.

“Liam’s just…upset about a lot of things at the moment. It’ll be okay, Sarah.”

“Is it ‘cause he goes invisible?”

Sam sighed and nodded.

“Why can’t you ask the glowy people for help?” Alice asked, frowning. Her tongue was sticking out of one side of her mouth as she tried to get the end of Sam’s hair to cooperate.

“The glowy people?” Sam asked, glancing briefly at Jack and her father. She had a bad feeling that she was about to make a discovery about her other daughter.

“The ones that look after us.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “See, Ali thinks silly things.”

“I do not!”

“Do too!”

“Not!”

“Too!”

“Girls!” Sam was determined to stop them before they got right into the argument. She knew from experience they could last for hours. “Alice, what do you mean?”

Her daughter shrugged and took the hair tie from her own hair with one hand before starting to wrap it around the end of her mother’s braid. “Sarah said you wanted help to fix Liam and Darnal and Asha are good at everything.”

“Oh, my God,” Sam whispered, turning Alice so that she was holding the girl right in front of her. Ignoring her daughter’s protestations about finishing her hair, Sam held her in place. “Alice, please tell me what you mean. When did Darnal and Asha visit you?”

“They didn’t, I go see them sometimes.”

Sarah giggled. “Ali has a stupid diner and a park in her head and she goes and talks to silly glowly people all the time.”

“They’re not silly! Mommy, can we go to the zoo now?” Alice asked.

“Sam, why don’t you let me and Daniel take the girls out,” her father said, stepping forward. “I think you need some time to take this all in.”

Sam nodded mutely and allowed the girls to hug her goodbye. She took a seat at the table again, not saying anything as Jack sat next to her, eyeing her warily, as if waiting to see how she was going to react. She wasn’t really sure how she was supposed to react. It seemed that every time she made headway with one thing, something else had to fall apart.

“I…I don’t even know what to say,” Sam muttered as the front door closed and the sounds of her children faded. “What am I meant to do with all this?”

“Am I supposed to answer, or…?”

She glanced at Jack and smiled. “I just wish…”

“You wish Orlin was here.”

“Yeah, I really do.”

“Mom?”

Sam turned around so fast that she almost fell off her chair. Somehow, even thought she knew Liam wouldn’t set foot in a zoo, she had assumed that he had left with his grandfather and Daniel.

“Liam.”

“Hey, kid,” Jack said. He could clearly tell that there was something up with her son, something that had to do with him, and Sam was pretty sure that he had a fair idea of what that was.

“Hey, Jack.” Liam shifted on his feet and stood awkwardly in the doorway. “Who’s Orlin?”

“That was your father’s name,” Sam replied. “Before we got married and decided to stay on Earth.”

“So…what’s my name?”

“You’re still my Liam.”

“Okay…is my last name Carter now?”

Sam frowned. “Why would you think that?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. If Dad’s real name wasn’t Kevin Walker, then that’s not my real last name, so what is?”

“I…I never really thought about it, I guess. Your dad chose it, he thought it was nice and easy and…he liked it.”

“Can I keep it?”

“Of course you can, Liam.”

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Liam looked at Jack again. He was clearly trying to make up his mind about something and Jack was looking particularly uncomfortable about what that something might be. A moment later, however, Liam seemed to have come to a decision.

“Do you have any computer games?”

Jack grinned. “Follow me.”

Sam watched them leave the room, knowing that she was going to have a hard time dragging Liam away from Jack’s den when they had to leave; the man had more computer games than Liam and his friends put together. Sighing, she decided to take her mind off things and focus on something she should have done days ago.

She reached into her bag and pulled out her cell phone. Not really sure she was ready to see how many messages she had, she braced herself as she turned it on for the first time since she had left North Carolina. It took a few minutes, but she wasn’t disappointed when it began to beep repeatedly, as it clocked up her missed calls and saved messages.

Sighing, Sam decided it would take more time than she really had to go through them all and just dialled the one person she knew she had to talk to first. She drummed her fingers on the table as her nerves finally hit her and almost forgot to breathe when the call was actually answered.

“Hello? Hello?”

“Terri?”

“Oh, my God, Annie? Are you okay? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, where the heck are you? Is everything all right? Are the kids okay? Jamie said that Liam got into a fight at school and-”

“Terri!”

“Sorry, sweetie, I’m just so glad ya called. I’ve been ringin’ for days. What happened?”

Sam sighed. “It’s a long story, Terri, I don’t even know if I could begin to explain it. We’re safe and the kids are fine.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in Colorado Springs.”

“What the heck are you doin’ there?”

Sam laughed and leaned back in her chair. “I…I came to visit my father.”

“Oh…is he okay? Izy said you had a family emergency and that she hadn’t heard from ya for over a week.”

“Yeah, his best friend passed away last week and…we were all close.”

“You never really talk about your family. In fact, I thought Kev said they were no longer with us.”

Sam sighed again, feeling as if she was going to have to do nothing but explain things and lie for the rest of her life. “I…I’ve been in witness protection for the last thirteen years,” she said, using the cover story they had come up with over the last few days.

“Oh, my God. What happened?”

“Well, I’m a Major in the Air Force and let’s just say I saw a few things that certain people felt I wasn’t supposed to. I can’t really go into details. It’s all classified. But everything’s being sorted out as we speak,” she said, feeling as if that was perhaps the only truth she’d ever be able to tell her friend. “We’re safe.”

“Wait a minute. I’m sorry. You’re in the Air Force?”

Sam grinned. “I am.”

Terri whooped with laugher. “Wait ‘til I tell Mike! I can tell him, can’t I?”

“Yeah, you can. And you can tell him that it took him years to get my son over to the dark side, but it only took us three days to get him back on track,” she said with a grin. Just talking to her best friend was enough to lighten her spirits and she wished she’d had the sense to do it days ago.

“Hey Mike!”

Sam grinned, knowing that Terri hadn’t covered the phone for the specific purposes of Sam hearing the conversation she was about to have with her husband; a man who had been in the Marine Corps for over twenty years.

“Annie says to tell ya that Liam’s signin’ up with the Air Force.”

“What? Annie’s on the phone? She okay?”

“Hey, Terri, put him on,” Sam called into her phone, hoping her friend could hear her. Whilst she could make out what Mike was saying, his voice was distant and she did want to talk to him.

“Okay, but I better get to talk to you before ya hang up, sweetie.”

“I promise,” Sam replied, grinning. She heard them passing over the phone and in the background she could hear Terri calling Jamie and Kara, no doubt to tell them that she and the kids were safe.

“Hey, Annie-pie,” Mike greeted and she rolled her eyes.

“Hello Michael.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Terri will explain everything later when she has all the details,” Sam said. She then listened patiently as Mike asked her the same questions she knew she’d get from Terri, despite having been told his wife would fill him in. The conversation, however, swiftly moved on to a healthy ‘debate’ about the armed forces and Sam couldn’t help but smile as she realised that, for the first time since she had met them, she was finally able to truly be herself with her friends.


* * *


“Everything okay on the home front?”

Sam turned to face Jack as she put her cell phone back in her bag. She nodded and groaned, stretching as she stood up. She’d spent over two hours on the phone. Whilst most of the time was spent talking with Terri and Izy, which she was feeling all the better for, a quick call to her kids schools had been followed by a long and heated conversation with her boss, who was more than a little upset that she had left on such short notice and even more annoyed that she wouldn’t be returning in the foreseeable future.

“I guess you heard some of that?”

Jack shrugged. “A little. We came through for a few minutes. Liam thought you were talking to his Uncle…Mike?” Sam nodded and he continued, “But you’d already called someone else by then.”

“Izy, my assistant.”

“So, how did the cover story go?”

“Surprisingly well,” Sam replied, moving to boil the kettle. “I think Terri was scared to death that we were still in danger, but I- What?” she demanded.

A grin continued to play on his lips. “Nothin’.”

“Jack.”

“What?”

“There is nothing different about my voice.”

“Then how did you know what I was laughing at?”

She growled at him before getting two cups out of the cupboard. She pulled out the coffee and retrieved the milk from the fridge, all the while studiously ignoring the smug look on his face.

“So,” Jack finally said. “Liam’s talking to me again.”

Sam froze for a moment. “Yeah, sorry, I meant to let you know he was-”

“It’s okay. Although, it might’ve been nice to have a little warning before all the questions started.”

“Questions?” she asked, turning to face him. “What questions?”

Jack shrugged. “Military protocol, stuff like that.”

Sam closed her eyes and leaned back against the counter. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal, Carter, he’s got every right to want to know.”

“I should have told you he’d asked me about you.”

Jack sighed. “It was my own fault. Never even occurred to me to stop calling your dad, ‘Dad’. Guess I should’ve realised that your kids would pick up on it.”

“I think he picked up on more than that,” she said softly.

“Mom?”

She turned to the doorway and smiled at Liam. “Yeah?”

“Is Uncle Mike mad?”

Sam frowned. “Why would he- Oh, you mean because of the Air Force thing?” Liam nodded and she grinned. “No, Liam, he’s not mad. And even if he was, I can take him.”

Liam laughed, but Jack raised his eyebrows. “She’s not joking, you know.”

“What?”

“Your mom’s pretty good at defending herself when she needs to.” Somehow she just knew that twinkle in his eyes had something to do with a fight that had been preceded by her wearing a certain blue dress… “She could show the marines a thing or two.”

“More than Uncle Teal’c?” Liam asked suspiciously and they all laughed.

“Liam, I think Teal’c could take us all out at the same time and not even break a sweat,” Jack said with a smirk. “I’m sure if you ask him, he’d show ya.”

“You think so?”

“Why don’t we hold off on the violence for the time being,” Sam interrupted, turning to make the coffee when the kettle finished boiling.

”Oh, Mom!”

“Oh, Mom, nothing. We’ll talk about it some other time.”

“You always say that,” Liam said, rolling his eyes.

“And I mean it.”

“Hey, kid,” Jack said with a conspiratorial wink. “Best not to argue with her; she blew up a sun once.”

“Jack!”


* * *

Part Nine

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