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And So This Is Christmas. . .

by HailDorothy
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And So This Is Christmas. . .

And So This Is Christmas. . .

by HailDorothy

Summary: Twenty-five years ago a lonely Air Force pilot asked God for an angel and got one.
Category: Filk/Song, Holiday, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance
Episode Related: Pre-series, 101 Children of the Gods, 715 Chimera, Future Story
Holiday: Christmas
Season: Season 8
Pairing: Daniel/other, Jack/Sam, none
Rating: 13+
Warnings: minor language
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Archived on: 2004-12-19

Title: And So This Is Christmas . . . Author: HailDorothy Email: gwichman1@new.rr.com Category: angst/friendship/humor/romance Warning: Christian theme with a glimpse of Jack's faith. Rating: PG-13 Season: End of S8 Spoilers: minor Sam & Pete, Jack & Kerry Pairing: J/S Archive: Yes! Summary: Twenty-five years ago a lonely Air Force pilot asked God for an angel and got one. Songs: This is Christmas (c) John Lennon: I'll Be Home For Christmas (c)1948.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters and situations of this story are the property of said author. HailDorothy (c) 12/11/04

Feedback: Gosh, darn, don't make me beg! Pretty Please??? Starvation of this writer's muse is no pleasant sight. All feedback is food for thought and well digested. "Feed me, Seymour!" (The Little Shop of Horrors)


USO Hall: Ramstein Air Base, Germany 1980

'This is Christmas And what have you done Another year over And a new one just begun And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun The near and the dear one The old and the young

A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear And so this is Christmas For weak and for strong For rich and the poor ones The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas For black and for white For yellow and red ones Let's stop all the fight A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear

And so this is Christmas And what have we done Another year over And a new one just begun And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one The old and the young A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear War is over, over If you want it War is over Now . . .'

Christmas away from home, sucked!

Major Jack O'Neill sat at a table surrounded by fellow airman and officers but, never the less, strangers. Everyone, even his best buds Kawalsky and Ferretti had managed to get home. Jack had yet to accept 'why' he got stranded in Germany on Christmas Eve. Oh, yeah, the freaking Soviets were at it again, accusing the United States of invading their airspace. Which, they probably did. So not only was there the no fly zone issue, all military personal and aircraft were grounded.

This was his first Christmas away from his wife Sara since they'd started dating, even worse, their first Christmas as husband and wife. Despite that Sara said she understood, he'd heard the hurt in her voice as he told her he missed her and then pledged his love, above the din of officers and airmen waiting for the phone.

Stretching out his long legs, Jack turned in the hard chair and held the second glass of Christmas cheer he'd been toying with for over an hour. Spiked eggnog. He was so depressed he didn't even want to get snookered. A Christmas morning hangover never was his thing. He thought about all the traditional things he'd miss. Decorating the tree, playing Santa to Sara's nieces and nephews and midnight mass to remember the real reason for the season.

Crap! He was home sick. Jack swished the eggnog in his mouth, swallowed and then closed his aching eyes. Holiday music played while airmen, marines, GI's, infantry, sailors and officers with families mingled at the USO sponsored gathering. For most of them, this was home. After all, their families were here and the old saying, home is where the heart is, was never so obvious. Laughter and cheerful voices resonated around him.

Despite his black mood he was moved by the holiday joy. Christmas remained Jack's favorite holiday. Although a closet Christian, he took his faith seriously. But even the Christmas Eve chapel service hadn't lifted his spirits. Now he wondered why he'd come here tonight. He missed his wife, Sara!

"It's not good to be alone on Christmas, Jack." His saintly Irish grandmother once said. "Remember you're never alone. God is with you, son, and if you ask, He'll send you an angel."

"Could use one of those angels about now, Lord." He groused and lifted his lukewarm coffee. Something floated on top. Geez, why did every dust bunny or bug have to crash his caffeine fix? He flicked out the offensive critter, sipped the stale coffee and then cringed. He glanced about for a fresh pot. Nada.

Children's laughter warmed the military base hall and tugged at his heart. He'd eyed several kids smiling faces, but none had caught his gaze long enough to make a connection. Jack loved kids of all ages. He and Sara had been trying but so far no luck. He'd feared something was wrong with one of them. But Sara had gotten an okay from her doctor, so had Jack. His military career was no doubt partially to blame. He was gone so much and Sara had voiced her opinion more than once, that raising a child who's father did covert missions was not her idea of a secure family life. Besides that, she had her nursing career. Meanwhile, Jack pushed the issue to verbal disputes. He wanted a family and insisted he'd be there for her and the kids.

He suspected Sara was still on birth control, but hadn't confronted her. Geez, he hoped he was wrong. He couldn't bare the thought that Sara didn't want children, let alone, his. No doubt the holiday blues were making him doubt the woman he loved. Love! Jack couldn't believe this fantastic woman loved him. How any woman could love Jack O'Neill, was beyond his comprehension, but Sara did and that was enough. Almost. He wanted a family, badly.

The female USO soloist sang from the stage,

'I'll be home for Christmas You can count on me Please have snow And mistletoe And presents on the tree

Christmas eve will find me Where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams

Christmas eve will find me Where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams If only in my dreams . . .'

"Please don't cry, Major," a soft feminine voice spoke from behind him.

Jack swiped at his maverick tears and shoved upright in his chair. He turned to find himself staring into ocean deep blue eyes. He cleared his throat and waved a hand of dismissal. "Yes. Well. Got something in my eye, that's all."

"Yeah. Whatever." She sounded unconvinced and plopped un-ceremonially into the chair beside him, and filled his empty cup from a fresh pot of coffee. She then fluttered her beautiful blue eyes and smiled, revealing a mouthful of braces she concealed with her fine-boned hand.

Hearing his familiar comeback spouted by a teenager was just plain weird. For a moment Jack watched her watch him. To his amusement it became a stare down as she propped her delicate chin on her wrists and leaned forward. Jack didn't break eye contact, while his Black Ops keenness recalled what he'd already deduced about her.

The teen wore a conservative, blue velvet dress that emphasized her slender torso and youthful breasts, while a silver necklace with a star pendant stood out against the ivory skin of her neckline. She was tall for her age, which he figured was around fourteen or fifteen. Shoulder length blonde hair framed a heart shaped face and a porcelain complexion dusted with freckles and the cutest nose ever. And those eyes! Heaven help her parents. She was going to break many hearts. Jack felt amazed they'd allowed her to flirt with an officer and lucky for her, a gentleman. She was flirting, right, or more realistically being kind to a forlorn flyboy on Christmas Eve. Either way, he'd enjoy the moment. He felt desperately lonely and needed to talk with someone, even this adorable kid.

"So." He broke the ice, but not their stare down.

"So." She mimicked, holding his gaze. 'Wow, she's got balls.' Jack was known for his doggedly glares and stares downs. He and Kawalsky played the game whenever they got bored. Jack always won.

"How long we going to keep this up?"

"Sir?" She discreetly covered her mouth.

"Um, name's Jack." His stare turned threatening, waiting for her to break.

Not a flinch.

Jack was impressed.

"Sir Jack. I like that. My dad's a stickler for addressing officers by sir, Sir Jack. Major Jack O'Neill. Wow! You've got the darkest brown eyes ever. Like are they real or are they Memorex? Now there's a clich, you know. So who ya think's going to win the Super Bowl? Actually I don't like football, hockey's better and-."

"Well that's a load! Geez, I hate clichs. Another chatter mouthed Air Force brat. Figures." Jack rolled his eyes and in surrender tossed his hands skyward.

"And she scores!" She laughed softly and pumped her arm in the air. "Like your dimples, Sir Jack, but your eyes are amazing."

Conniving too! Which took him by surprise. And I like your eyes, he mused. "Bet I'd like your smile if you'd show it."

"Um, I . . ." She closed her mouth tighter and looked away.

"Hey." Jack reached over and gently peeled her splayed fingers off of her face. "Smile? Please?"

Blushing, she slowly opened her mouth, arching her lips upward and met his encouraging gaze.

"Much better. You've a beautiful smile. Don't hide it anymore, okay?"

She nodded and blushed brighter. "Okay, Sir Jack."

"Now that we've established who I am. You are?"

"Samantha Jean."

"Nice to meet you, Samantha Jean. And your parents?" He glanced around the decorated hall.

"My mom died last year." Her gaze lowered. "But my dad and my brother Mark are over there." She gestured to a table, but too many partygoers blocked his view. "You're welcome to join us."

"Ah, thanks, but I'm heading back to base guest quarters." He lifted his green fatigue hat from the empty chair and played with the precision made crease.

"So you're not stationed here?"

"Nope. Just passing through, ma'am." He nodded and then frowned. "Sorry about your mother."

"Thank you." She avoided his sympathetic gaze and Jack sensed her loss was recent. She fiddled with a red napkin and he watched her duplicate the military fold of his hat. She'd obviously been practicing. "We'd planned to be home for Christmas. Guess like you, we're stuck here for the holidays. Personally," she leaned forward as if sharing a secret. "Holidays suck."

Wow! She even thought like him. Jack looked at her, really looked at her, and recognized the walls she had erected at such a tender age. 'What do you know, Jack, despite her outgoing nature, she's as emotionally repressed as you.' "That's just wrong on so many levels."

"What?" She glanced up at him and arched a light brown brow.

"You're too young to be cynical."

"I'm not a cynic, Major Jack, just realistic. Since mom died I don't like holidays. Especially Christmas. Don't believe in God anymore than I do Santa Claus."

"A shame." He sniffed a breath and dragged his tongue over his lips. "We all need to believe in someone or something, and that there's a reason we're here." He gestured around him, thinking he must be having one of his rare physiological moments. 'Really, really, rare, Jack. Must be the eggnog.'

"So you buy this baby Jesus stuff?" She thrust out her chin and then tucked it in, which reminded him of a cooing Turtledove. 'Cute kid. Geez, now I'm thinking cute. Just what was in that eggnog?'

"Yeah, some days, more than others. But yeah, I believe in God and that tonight and tomorrow we celebrate the birth of His son, Jesus."

Samantha Jean held Jack's self-assured gaze then nodded. "It shows, you know."

"What?" He glanced around.

"That you've got faith. Even though I don't believe in God I believe in faith. To believe in someone, trust that person with your heart and your life, to watch your six, no matter what. My dad taught me that. Just don't tell him I don't believe in God anymore?" She glanced at the table she'd indicated before. "He'd kill me."

"Promise. Wouldn't want your blood on my hands." He smiled and got another metallic grin in return. "Just hope you change your mind and give God another chance."

"What's that suppose to mean?"

"I suspect you believe in God. You're just angry at Him and that's why you deny He exists."

"You're very spiritually deep, Sir Jack."

"Yeah, well don't advertise that either, Samantha Jean." He was tempted to ask her last name, but didn't. Besides the odds of them ever crossing paths were slim to none. A comfortable silence passed between them. Jack didn't feel alone anymore. He liked the teen and hoped that someday he and Sara might have a girl just as pretty, sweet, and straightforward. That would be nice. Yeah.

"You're a pilot?" She pointed at his wings and her eyes seemed to brighten even more if possible.

"Yep." He drummed his fingers on the tabletop and exhaled, wondering if daddy was a major, colonel or general. Either way he should head back to the barracks.

"So what you do for real? Special Ops? My Dad was until Mom died."

Jack gaped. She asked too many questions and was way too close to the truth for Jack's comfort. So he gave her 'the look.'

"Yep, got the pokerfaced expression down pat."

"You don't say."

"Come on, tell me something? Anything?" she asked with those persuasive eyes that could steal a man's heart and soul.

"If I did, I'd have to shoot you." He said in his bite me tone and then grinned, to assure her he was kidding.

"Man, oh, man, I hear that all the time." She snorted.

"Sorry." He patted her forearm. "Well, young lady, this pokerface's going to call it a night." He motioned to stand, but she snatched his right hand and turned it palm up, examining it. Jack intended to pull free, but concentration brightened her face and he relaxed. 'What harm can a few more minutes do?'

"Confusing, huh?" He chuckled and waggled his brows.

"Amazing." She focused and trailed her index finger along his calloused palm. "You have an extreme long life line, sir."

"Irish genes." He smirked, not believing in palm reading but deciding to humor her. "What else ya see?" He cocked a brow and leaned forward, intrigued by her studious expression.

"Danger. Adventure. Romance. Covert operations, Germany, Central American-"

"Oy!" Jack winced and she looked up at him wide-eyed.

"Holy Hannah! I'm right?" Her baby blues twinkled with astonishment.

"Gotcha!" His mouth twisted into a mocking grin, but his gut ached with her accuracy.

"Humph!" She let out a sigh and refocused on his palm. "I see you traveling to galaxies far, far away." She giggled.

"Fighting the evils of um, Dark Vader, hey?" Jack snorted and their gazes locked and held, until Samantha returned hers to his hand. Her silky hair cascaded over his exposed wrist making him starkly aware that she was a blossoming woman and his mind wandered into forbidden territory. Like how she'd look in a few years. Awesome! 'Yep, time to go, Jack.'

"I see a brilliant blonde in your future, Sir Jack."

Present, Jack mused about Sara. "Cool." He winked and waved his free hand.

"But many years will pass before you meet her, again."

"Ah, if you say so." Jack frowned his confusion and eased from her warm grasp, ending their palm reading session. "So what you going to be when you grow up, Samantha Jean?"

"An astronaut."

"Sweet." He reached over and fingered the star shaped pendant. "A star chaser, huh?"

"Yeah." She glanced to where he held the pendant and smiled.

"Air Force?" He recognized the set of wings inside the silvery star pendant as he examined the fine metalwork before letting go.

"Is there any other?" She revealed more braces, which made him smile.

"Ah, um, don't let those Marines hear ya." He winked. "I don't do brawls on Christmas Eve."

"'I'm not stupid, Sir Jack." She glanced at the dozen Marines. "Besides they're jarheads, we could take them hands down."

Swallowing his coffee, Jack almost choked. When he looked up she was smirking like the cat that ate the rat or was it canary? Geez, another clich!

"Ya think?" He grinned, liking the way this very pretty teen kept him off center.

"My dad says I think too much."

"I think I doth agree, fair maiden."

"Never met a knight before." Her full mouth lifted and a stain of crimson swept up her neck.

"Me either." He snorted. Amazed by the sparkage between them Jack shoved back in his chair. This was getting downright weird. 'Hit the road, Jack!' And yet, he didn't, but felt his smile flat-line. Arms akimbo, he tried to rationalize the irrational going on inside his head and heart. Not that it was romantic or sexual. Just that he felt an emotional link with her, like they were bonded. Weird!

"Actually," she didn't seem disturbed by his deadpan expression. "First, I'll get my doctorate in astrophysics, become a pilot and then an astronaut." She stated so confidently Jack didn't doubt her.

"Oy! Just what the Air Force needs is a blonde, blue-eyed geek." He scrubbed his hands over his face and through his military cut, followed by an indignant groan. When he glanced over, she was so not smiling. He liked teasing her-way too much. Time to leave.

"Don't like scientists, huh?" She glowered.

"Don't like techno-babble." He answered honestly and winked.

"In order to be a pilot, you've got to understand and speak techno-babble." She disputed.

"Yes, well, I've a knack for simplifying all that crap." He sniffed and scratched his lower back.

"One of those." She waved a hand for emphasis.

"Excuse me?" He felt the indent between his brows deepen.

"Smarter than you act. You're black and white. Don't like nothing complicated, drawn out explanations or surprises. Am I right?"

Jack's brow hitched a notch up his forehead and his temples ached. She was so in tuned with him it was scary. "That's me, a lot'sa nothing. Basic Jack. And, you sound like you've got your life all planned out, and thrive on the problematical." Had he just used a word with more than three syllables? 'Stop it, Jack, or she'll know you really are smarter than the average bear.'

"Love puzzles. Taking things a part, putting them together better they were. When I was five I dismantled our dishwasher and reassembled it, eliminated a rinse cycle, washing the dishes in half the time, cleaner and more efficient."

"Why does that not surprise me?" Smiling broadly, Jack shook his head. The girl was a genius. Way too smart for the likes of him.

"It did my parents, especially dad." She looked reflective. Yep. A geek. "Life's only complicated if we let our emotions interfere, Sir Jack. I won't let that happen."

"So no boyfriend?"

"Never!" She snorted.

"Never, ever, say never, Samantha Jean."

"Boys don't like me. Besides, all I've ever seen of love in the military is heartache, Sir Jack." She tented her chin on her fingers and sighed with regret.

"Ah, yes, you are so old and so wise, for one so young." He chuckled only too see her eyes brim with tears and she looked away. "Wow! Sorry. I shouldn't have . . ." He reached over and stroked her trembling hand.

"That's all right." She sniffed and sat upright. "Romantic love is highly over-rated. Not that maybe someday . . ." She blushed, causing heat beneath Jack's tan. He let go. "But he has to be someone who'll love me unconditionally and as his equal, and not be intimidated by a smart woman let alone, one who likes to arm wrestle and usually wins."

"Arm wrestle? Well, now you're talking. Won lots of arm wrestling matches in college. Still do. I'll have to take you up on that someday."

"Not now?" she sounded disappointed.

"Um, perhaps another time." He glanced around and made a face that said, this isn't the best place.

"Understood, Sir Jack. Another time, and less witnesses when I whip your butt."

"Pretty sure of yourself?"

"Have to be."

"Well, next time we meet, you make sure to challenge me, okay?"

"I will, sir." She lowered her gaze as if embarrassed by her forwardness.

Jack chuckled, sniffed a breath and smiled. Brassy and shy. Cool. "If it's any consolation, I don't think you're the least bit intimidating, Samantha Jean. If anything you're a lovely rare flower and whoever ends up with you as his girl, is going to be one very happy camper."


"Yeah sure yabetcha. You've got a big trusting heart to talk to a lonely stranger who needed his soaked spirits lifted."

"You mean dampened spirits."

"Whatever." He shrugged.

"And did I lift them?" she asked warmly.

"Oh, yeah. I needed an angel and got you. Believe me, Samantha Jean, one day you'll meet someone who will appreciate your beauty and brains as well as your generous heart." He stood to leave, taking up his hat.

"Man, oh, man!" She stared at him as if he'd two heads.

"What? Got broccoli between my teeth?" He dragged a fingernail between two teeth and grimaced.

"No. Just besides my dad, guys never say I'm pretty, let alone that they aren't intimidated by me."

Jack smiled down at her and slipped a silky blonde strand behind her delicate left ear, then cupped her chin. "You are a special person, Samantha Jean. Don't let anyone or any man keep you from chasing those stars. That's an order!"

"I won't, Sir Jack." Sam smiled up at him and initiated a sharp salute that she held until he nodded.

"Well, there you go." He saluted back, winked, and marched away, feeling better than he had in days. Jack stepped outside, lit up a much needed, cigarette and took a long drag. As snow kissed his face, he took in the white wintry wonderland of fresh falling snow, one more thing to be thankful for. Yeah.

"Sir Jack?" A firm hand gripped his forearm.

He pivoted to find Samantha Jean had rushed out into the cold winter night. "Hey! Get inside, before you catch a cold." He exhaled the smoke and ordered in a paternal tone.

"I will. Just um, wait, huh?" Shivering, she unclasped her necklace and placed it in his free hand.

"What?" Jack glanced down as the parking lights revealed the shimmering silver, star necklace.

"Merry Christmas, Jack. Promise to give this to that brilliant woman? I'm sure you'll know when the time comes. "

"Ah, you okay with this?" He winced at her.

"Yeah. For the first time since mom died, I've never been so certain about anything."

"And just what are you certain about, Samantha Jean?" Filled with his own uncertainty, he held her genuine smile in his eyes. 'She's something else! Whoever got this girl for life, will be one lucky SOB.'

"That you're a safe bet, Jack O'Neill. And whoever she is, that woman's very lucky."

"Oh," he mouthed concluding Samantha Jean had a crush on him. 'Crap! Way to go, O'Neill! You are so dead. Not to mention, a court martial offense. Oy!' "Wish I had something to give you in return." He patted his empty coat pockets with his free hand.

"You already did, Sir Jack. I felt alone and depressed before. I don't anymore." She smiled warmly.

"Back at ya, Samantha Jean." He grinned.

Samantha hugged her chilled arms and glanced at the burning cigarette dangling from his right fingers. "But if you want to do me a favor, you could give up that nasty habit before we meet again." Her breath misted the air between them.

Jack coughed at her brashness, and ditched the cig, grinding it out with his boot heel. "Don't ask for much, do ya?"

"Just want you to live up to your lifeline, Sir Jack."

"Promise." He smiled back and wondered if she was an angel, after all.

"Hey kiddo, whatcha doing out here? Who you talking too?"

Jack looked passed Samantha to the bald headed officer in the open doorway. Double crap! A full-blown colonel!

"Coming, Dad." She called back and then pushed up on her toes and kissed Jack softly, but firmly on the mouth. "Till later, flyboy." She giggled and turned away. Jack watched her long, legged sprint back into the hall and the arms of the man standing there.

For an unnerving moment the colonel stared at Jack, who kept his cool and saluted before turning on his heel. Nervous, Jack strode off praying daddy didn't send the SFs after him. Jailbait was so not his style. Feeling the star pendant in his hand, he decided to give it to Sara. Yeah, she'd like it, a lot.


2005: Christmas Eve

O'Malley's Bar and Grill

'This is Christmas And what have you done Another year over And a new one just begun And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun The near and the dear one The old and the young . . .'


It took years, but Jack kept his promise. He stopped smoking.


Tipping his second bottle of Guinness to his lips, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill leaned back in the booth as he toyed with the remainder of his cold steak and French Fries, and observed the small crowd of patrons. There weren't any familiar faces, let alone from the SGC. Why should there be? Most were home with their families. If there hadn't been fires to put out at the mountain, Jack would have been at his cabin, sitting in front of a roaring fire making love to his wife, Sam- Ah, whom was he kidding? He was here for one reason and she was dancing with Daniel. Samantha. And she wasn't Mrs. O'Neill. Yet.

It'd been four months since she'd split with Pete. Thank God! The same time Jack split with Kerry. He and Sam had taken it out of the room and come to a no holds bard, understanding. They loved each other! Always had! Always would! For the first time in almost five years they'd kissed, hugged, held hands, and talked out their future like a real couple. Wedding, honeymoon and yes, making babies! Though they'd yet to agree on the perfect number. Sam said two. Jack said four. No doubt, they'd compromise. He'd get the three he really wanted. Jack grinned. Hey, all was fair in love and war, especially with Carter.

'Slow down, Jack. Duty and regulations are still in your way. And like it or not, you and Sam are honorable Air Force Officers.'

For weeks Jack had been trudging through the endless paperwork to make his retirement official, but the Pentagon and President were not letting him off the hook. So much for him having saved the world dozens of times, and calling in his markers. How could retiring and agreeing to manage the SGC as a civilian be so freaking difficult? Politics! Humbug! The issue being, Jack wanted to transition from retirement into the position of civilian and boss of the SGC in one fell swoop. Apparently, it'd never been done before, so there was tons of fresh paperwork.

Considering how they'd reassigned Hammond's butt sixteen months ago and filled his post with a civilian in one day, Jack didn't see the problem. But George assured him this was different. So Jack waited, far more patient than he'd have thought possible. Apparently, so had everyone else at the SGC.

At least he and Sam had Presidential permission to publicly take it out of the room and there were no qualms about their wannabe-lovers relationship. Boy, were greenbacks exchanged when that happened. Teal'c, the lucky man took in over five thousand dollars. Who'da thunk the Jaffa was a gambler? At least he'd bet on the right horse.

Well, after keeping their mutual love, desires, and plain old lust on hold for eight years, patience was highly overrated. Which meant Sam was not a happy camper. Nor was he. In fact, the tension between them was stronger than ever, especially sexual. They'd been snapping at each other a lot of late. All those years, often twenty-four seven with the same woman and he'd never known she had such a trucker's mouth. Which made him smile and realize they still had a lot to learn about each other.

Not that Sam was angry with him, but her frustration with the paper chase made Jack, her sounding board. And on the days he was equally frustrated, they stayed clear of each other. So had gone this day. Although he had caught her under the mistletoe that Walter had strategically hung over his doorway. Jack grinned. Ah, yes, the perks of being General. However, he'd been certain his career change would have happened tonight. The President had promised. It was after all, Christmas Eve. But by1900 hundred hours his phone had not rung. So Jack called it a day and decided to spend the remainder of it with his SG-1 family, Daniel, Cassie and Sam. Jack wished Teal'c was here, but two days ago, after wishing Jack and Sam the best, Teal'c had opted to go home to Chulak for the holidays.

Jack was glad Cassie was home. She spent most of her time between his place, Sam's, and the SGC. Having finished her first year of college, Cassie decided to become an Air Force MD. Go figure! Jack and Sam couldn't restrain their pride that she'd chosen to follow in Janet's footsteps, nor the fact, she wanted to be assigned to the SGC. Jack would do his best to make her wish come true. Of course, Cassie would never know nor would Sam, although he suspected his colonel was one up on him. And then there was the issue that Cassandra had never been subtle about wanting him and Sam together. Her reply when they told her was, "Geez, about time! Now get hitched, and have some babies so I can play auntie!"

Speaking of aunts and uncles. The last couple of months, Daniel had hooked up with Cassandra whenever she was home from college. Jack didn't like the way they looked at each other. Somewhere, somehow, Cassie stopped calling him, Uncle Daniel, and he'd stopped calling her, Cass. Daniel now addressed her as Cassandra and when he said it, he got this goofy look. Talk about robbing the cradle! Jack had already hinted crassly and parentally that Cassie was only nineteen and jailbait to Daniel. Payback was a bitch! Cassie had gotten in Jack's face and told him she'd be twenty next month and to chill, that she and Daniel were just good friends. Daniel insisted the same.

Jack so didn't believe them. Nor did Sam. After all, he knew that love sick expression Daniel was sporting better than anybody. The same look Jack had been trying to conceal since Carter walked into the briefing room almost nine years ago!

"Penny for your thoughts, Uncle Jack?" Cassie slid alongside him and took up his hand, turning it over as if to read his palm. Something he'd not experienced in a very long time gave him a reality check.

"Don't think so." He flinched. "Excuse me, wilya, Sunshine?"

"Sure thing." She smiled and nodded at the couple on the dance floor where Daniel was mashing Sam's feet. "Go get'er."

"Plan too." He winked and strolled up to the Juke Box, inserted coins and then weaved through the handful of dancers. Walking up on Sam and Daniel, he patted the linguist's left shoulder. "Mind if I cut in?"

"About time." Daniel kissed Sam's cheek and winked at Jack. "Behave yourself, Jack."



"I have permission to not behave myself." He grinned at Sam and then frowned at Daniel. "You don't!"

"Excuse me?" Daniel scratched his blue shadowed jaw.

"You touch Cassie intimately and you die." Jack pushed Daniel's glasses back up his nose with enough force to make his point.

"Um. Well. Yes." Daniel held up a hand of submission. "Okay."

"Good." He watched the linguist walk away muttering.

"A bit hard on him aren't, you, sir?"

"Don't see you waving your maternal flag of displeasure about Danny robbing the cradle, let alone Cassie's. Geez, Sam, he's eighteen years older than her!"

"Um, we're the last ones to be lecturing Daniel about cradle robbing, sir." She blushed in the soft strobe lighting.

"Hey, there's only fourteen years between us and well, we're mature adults, Sam."

"And what constitutes mature?" She eyed him up accusingly.

"Well. Hey. Give me a minute, I'll think of something." He rubbed the back of his neck. Dang! Nothing.

"Yeah, this coming from a man who eats Ice Cream and Jell-O with a fork, carries a yoyo and Game Boy in his back pockets and believes Homer Simpson should be president." Sam snorted.

"Um, point taken, Colonel." He winced.

"Thought so, General. So leave them be. If they are falling in love, I can't think of anyone better for Cassie, than Daniel." She grinned when Jack reluctantly nodded, drew her into his arms, and then led her into a waltz. His colonel fit perfectly into Jack's possessive hold and he made sure certain body parts came in contact. Sam hummed. He loved when she hummed. Coz now he knew it was him who made her hum. Hum worthy indeed!

When his firmness meshed with her soft tummy. Sam's finger dug into his shoulder blades.

"A bit bold aren't we, sir?" She glanced up at his calm veneer.

"Chill, Carter. It's Christmas Eve. We're on holiday through the fifth." He got bolder and kissed her forehead, cheeks, and then nuzzled the soft curve of her neck solely reserved for him. "Have I told you lately that I love you, Samantha Jean Carter?"

"Yep. But you've got eight years to make up for, so keep telling me." She sighed at his intimate touch and words.

"Yeah sure yabetcha." He murmured against her warm skin.

"Man, oh, man, I love you, Jack O'Neill. And I don't want to be alone tonight. Don't want you to ever spend Christmas without me again."

"I won't, Sam. Besides, my Irish grandma once said, no one should be alone on Christmas."

"No they shouldn't."

"I also believe even though we may pick the path we walk, we never walk it alone, Sam. God is with us."

She smiled up and nodded. "Anyone ever tell you, that you are very spiritually deep for an ornery, old General, General?"

"Yep, about twenty-five years ago when I was an ornery young major." He chuckled.

Sam laughed softly against him. Jack kissed her cheek and embraced her, wishing he could do more, but for now this was all they had. They'd deal and spend the night together on the couch or maybe his bed holding each other until they fell asleep. That'd been their routine the last few months. How they'd managed to not make love still amazed him. He didn't know how much longer either of them would hold out though. Eloping to Vegas looked better all the time. Sam nestled her blonde head on his chest and they danced in silence until the next song began. She stared up at him with liquid blue pools of intimate understanding. After all these years, they'd never talked about it. Maybe it was about time.

'I'll be home for Christmas You can count on me Please have snow And mistletoe And presents on the tree . . .'

Eight and half years ago when Major Samantha Carter had challenged him to arm wrestle, he'd known she'd not forgotten a lonely flyboy in Germany. Neither had he forgotten a lonely teenager. Jack concluded it had been a God thing. God's timing and this was it, the perfect time.

Jack winked down at the only woman besides Sara he'd ever fought to live for. "Twenty-five years ago tonight in a land far, far away, there was a lonely Air Force pilot named Jack."

"Sir Jack." Sam sighed against his jaw and he felt her shiver.

"Yeah." He trembled as tears stung his eyelids. "Anyhow, this emotionally repressed Sir Jack guy asked God to send him an angel to keep him company."

"He did?" Sam gawked.

"Yeah sure yabetcha." Jack nodded seriously. "It's that faith thingy, I've got."

"Oh. So did He send you one?"

"Yep. Not what I expected. The angel was female."

"Excuse me?" Sam glanced up. "Does God discriminate against female angels?"

He chuckled. "Nope. Angels are asexual."

"Really weird."

"Yeah, tell me about it." He lifted a brow. "Anyway, not a wing or trumpet in sight. But she had a halo of blonde hair that left me breathless. This angel was a long-legged, blonde teen with braces and attitude."

"Real heart stopper, huh?" Sam snorted.

"You have no idea," he said sensuously. "If I'd been twelve years younger . . ."

"Yes?" She winked as he glided her across the floor.

"We'd be home surrounded by rug rats and never have heard the disgusting word, Goa'uld."

"Hum, Sir Jack, honey?"


"You'd have been seventeen and not in the Air Force."

"Oh. Right. Dang."

"Well, we can dream." She kissed his blue shadowed jaw.

"Yeah." His hands caressed her hips and urged her closer. "And I've done of a lot of dreaming especially about us."

"And I never forgot, Sir Jack." Sam gripped him closer, her fingers pressing into his shoulders blades.

Jack's heart quickened. "Nor did I, Samantha Jean." He lifted his head and glanced at her. "And though I didn't have romantic thoughts about that brilliant kid, the day you walked into the briefing room, I saw a tall skinny blonde with braces, all grownup and then I knew . . ."


A tear escaped Sam's eyes and Jack captured it with his fingertips and pressed them to his lips, relishing the salty taste of her tears.

"Why I never gave this to anyone else." He reached into his back pocket and retrieved a black velvet pouch and handed it over. No, it wasn't an engagement ring. That was locked in the glove compartment of his truck for when nothing would stand in their way. But tonight, on this most, holiest of nights, Jack knew this was meant to be.

"Merry Christmas, Samantha Jean."

Sniffing back tears, Sam opened the pouch. When her gaze took in the necklace her mouthed opened then closed. "I thought, assumed . . .Sara-" She stared up into his smug gaze.

"Sam, Sara never saw or knew about this or our meeting that night. I'm not sure why, but a small voice told me to keep my word and keep it for the future. So I did." He took the necklace from her and then slipped it around her neck and secured the clasp.

When their fingers touched, Sam held on and her voice clogged with emotion. "Man, oh, man! You may not know it but you've just repeated a Carter tradition."

"How's that?" He cradled her heart shaped face and gazed down.

"My grandfather was Air Force and gave this necklace to my grandmother and then my dad gave it to mom on Christmas Eve. When she died, he'd said, I was his only girl and gave it to me and then I gave it to you."

"Geez, Carter!" Jack swallowed. "Glad Dad doesn't know."

Sam choked and blushed.

"What?" he whined out.

"Dad knows."

"Ya gotta be kidding?" Jack stopped dancing, stood back and dragged his hand through his hair.

"No. I told him the clasp must have broken and I'd lost it in the snow."

"So why would he know about us back then?"

"Hey, Dad didn't become a General for lack of ingenuity. He'd been watching us that night, but didn't recognize you or get close enough to read your ID. He questioned me, but I never said your name. Apparently he realized I got hung up on you."

"Really?" Jack felt his dimples tuck deep.

"Yeah, so he kept watch over the years. The day you and he first met at the White House function, he'd figured it out and did a background check on you. He kept his mouth shut until after he blended with Selmak."

"Argh! Why don't I like the sound of this?" He scrunched his face and peered down at her evil grin. When Sam smiled at him, the world stopped for Jack, but when she donned that devious look, he usually got a gut ache.

"Because Selmak told me that Dad saw the sparks between us when I was a teen and then when he found out I was under your command he saw it stronger than ever. He'd decided he was going to be a pain in your butt until he knew for sure you loved me enough to respect me, keep the regulations and if not, retire and make an honest woman out of me."

"You mean all those years I suffered at his expense because he was testing me?"

"Yep." She giggled.

"Peachy." Jack sulked and stalked back toward their booth.

"Jack?" Sam latched onto his wrist. "Dad told me he liked and trusted you watching my six the first time he met you. But he kept up the charade because we had to. If he'd let on that he knew how we felt about each other, it would have complicated matters. We had to come to terms with each other in our own time, when we were ready."

"You took a huge risk giving that to me, Sam." Jack fingered the necklace at her throat. "I mean what if we'd never, I mean-" He closed his eyes and sighed out.

"I didn't take a chance. You were my safe bet. Someone, maybe God told me. I faked your palm reading. I'd never done it before or knew those things about you. It was as if someone was whispering in my ear. And I obeyed your command, Sir Jack." She smiled. "Although I stumbled and fell a lot, I never settled for being with someone who didn't treat me as his equal or wasn't intimidated by my brains. How could I, when I'd already met my safe bet?"

"And yet you still have doubts about God's existence?"

"Let's say I'm becoming a believer, General O'Neill. The only thing that could make that a 'Yeah sure yabetcha,' would be if the President calls to say you are officially a civilian before midnight."

Jack chuckled. "Let's make a deal then."

"As in?" Now she took a cautious step back.

"If I officially retire tonight . . . you go to midnight mass." He winked.

"Deal." She snorted, covering his hand that held her necklace.

"Sweet." He locked her arm with his and they strolled back toward the booth where Daniel and Cassie conveniently sat in the same bench. Sam scooted into the opposite one and Jack was just about to join her when his cell rang. Once. Twice. Sam turned and stared at him.

"Sir?" She indicated the phone.

"Oh, yeah." Nervous, he flipped open the cellular and brought it to his ear. "O'Neill here. Oh! Yes, Mister President!" Jack cleared his throat and glanced at the three sets of curious eyes and lowered his voice. "Certainly, sir. Of course, January 5th will be fine. Thank you, sir. And you have a blessed Christmas too. Yes, I-we will. Goodnight, sir." He snapped the phone shut and back on his belt.

"Well?" Daniel insisted.

Jack kept his blank expression and let out a long sigh. 'Yes!'

"Hey, don't keep us in suspense?" Cassandra whined.

Snatching Sam's leather jacket off the bench Jack flung it at her. Her gaping mouth was evidence she knew what had just happened. He picked up his jacket and then thumbed Daniel and Cassie to follow. "Me and Carter are going to midnight mass, wanna join us?" He tugged his black knit cap over his head just above his brows.

Sam's hand flew to her open mouth.

"Miss those braces." He chuckled, grabbed her other hand and started for the door, dragging his stunned lover behind him. It didn't take her long to grin from ear to ear or keep up with his determined strides.

Obviously dumbfounded that Sam would go to church, even with Jack, Daniel and Cassandra shrugged on their coats and followed the couple.

"Um, Jack?"


"Did I miss something?"

"Hope not." He smirked as they stepped outside and he snaked his arm around Sam's shoulders and gazed down at her.

"Then you wanna tell us what just happened?" Daniel asked.

"Just one of God's many miracles, Danny. But tonight we celebrate the greatest miracle of all, right, Babe?" He smiled at Sam, who nodded.

"Babe?" Daniel took off his glasses and looked at Jack's boyish smirk.

"Yeah sure yabetcha." Sam uttered through tears as fresh snow drifted down over them.

Jack drew Sam close and stared lovingly upon her glowing face. "Merry Christmas, Samantha Jean." He felt his throat tighten with emotion that he rarely displayed, let alone in front of Sam.

"Merry Christmas, Mister Jonathan James O'Neill."

"Well I'll be!" Daniel exclaimed and hugged Cassandra who cried openly.

"So after church you two feel like a trip to Vegas?" Jack tossed over his shoulder.

Daniel and Cassie nodded and gestured at the astonished look on Sam's face.

"Oy!" Jack looked back her. "Carter, I mean, Samantha Jean Carter, will you marry me tomorrow morning, Christmas morning? Ring's in the truck." He thumbed toward his pickup.

"Yes!" She breathed out and then murmured, softly, "Yes, Jack, I'll marry you!"

With Daniel, Cassie, and God as witnesses, civilian Jack O'Neill did what he'd wanted to do forever. He kissed Samantha Jean Carter in public and beneath God's glorious Christmas sky. Even better, she kissed him back. Cool!

Yeah, Jack was home for Christmas and this time it was no dream.


Have a blessed Christmas, Campers!

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