Author's notes:

This will make more sense if you read the stories Yes!, Oh No!, Shall We Have a Little Talk? and Feet First beforehand. If not, then just enjoy anyway (I hope).

Copyright © 2003 Ted Sadler


Time Out

"They can't do this!" shouted Sam, angrier than she had been for years. "Not now! The one time we really need to do something for ourselves, some lame-assed bastard in The Pentagon thinks we're just available on demand to go fix..." Her more frequent use of colourful language since taking command of SG-1 had been noticed by quite a few people, all of whom blamed her former CO.

"But that's what we are, isn't it?" said Jack in a much steadier voice, gently but firmly removing the flower vase from her hand before it disassembled on the other side of their lounge. "Available. As the Redcoats used to say, 'We took the King's Shilling, and it comes with the territory.' Didn't they?"

Despite her state of mind, Sam grimaced at his mixed metaphor. Jack, no longer combat-fit, was waiting to hear his date of discharge from the Air Force on medical grounds, and she was now the CO of SG-1. They had wasted all of the first three days of her leave before deciding to move in together straight away. His house was the more convenient, with more space and would have the higher resale value when the time came to find *their* place. Three days to decide, two to complete the move and a further one to apply for a marriage license and tell everyone the date. Anyone would think they were rushing into it if they didn't know about the events of the previous seven years.

And here, only one day later, an ex-colleague and good friend in The Pentagon had found a way to let Sam know that they were both to be re- assigned to a new Science and Strategy Reconnaissance and Planning Unit, led by one Colonel J. O'Neill with Major S. Carter as his 2IC. "Because they make such a good team." they had said. "Immediate deployment. Promotions as suited to the positions in the new command."

"I'll resign!" said Sam with some force. "I'll call in now and do it, just you see!"

"No you won't." replied Jack calmly. "We've been over this before. Never mind about your career, saving the world, or walking away from our friends in the SGC. When you think about it, we *are* a damned good team and this way, we get to carry on looking out for each other. Doesn't sound bad to me."

"Jack?" she queried, a sudden note of fear appearing in her voice. "Are you giving up on us getting married?"

"Nope. We're on schedule for next week, just like we told everyone yesterday."

"But how? You'll be my CO again by this weekend. There's no way we can do it in the time available."

With arms outstretched, he held her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. "Sam, Sam... Calm down. I guarantee you that 'we' will happen. I've kinda taken out an insurance policy on it." In anticipation of her puzzled look and impending question, he placed a finger gently on her lips. "Trust me, I'm a moron."

"I'm still plumbing those depths in you, Jack." replied Sam resignedly.


The expected call from General Hammond to report back to the SGC for a critical meeting came on Thursday evening.

"Jack, it's very important that you and Major Carter attend." Hammond had said on the telephone. "I believe you'll find this is excellent news for you both, and I can only stress the importance of it by telling you that two senior Pentagon officers will be here just for this. 1000 hours tomorrow morning, my office."

"Yes, sir." said Jack. "Yes, I'll be sure to tell the Major. I know where to get hold of her. Thank you, sir." He clumsily put the phone back on its stand by the side of the sofa and leaned down to kiss Sam full on the lips, as she lay along the sofa with her head on his lap. They still had to be careful about making even gentle contact like this, as Jack's extensive skin burns on his leg and back were still very tender even though he was making good progress. It made their night-time ballet a dance of intricate and careful manoeuvres, and Sam had found herself longing for the day when she could fulfil her long-time fantasy of throwing him onto the grass outside his Minnesota cabin and ravishing him there and then.

"Consider yourself told, informed, kept appraised etc." he smiled at her. "I guess our news hasn't filtered through to ol' George yet, has it?"

"I suppose not." said Sam, opening her mouth so that Jack could insert another grape. "Do you think he'll still offer us the jobs after he finds out what's happened, though?"

"Who cares? We win either way, either together in the new unit or staying as we are now. But I'd prefer married quarters in the new Unit." replied Jack, trying to drop grapes down her cleavage and then retrieve them.

"Yeah, me too." she sighed, pushing his hand away - eventually. "Come on, let's eat out tonight. I hear there's a new Indian restaurant downtown. They mailed a flier through the door and I want to try their 'Chef's Special Bombay Chicken Tikka Marsala' with cashew nuts and lentils."

"Shall I put the toilet roll in the fridge now, then?" he responded, turning off the TV and following the sound of her giggling to the bedroom.


General Hammond was pleased to see that Jack was using only a walking stick these days, and felt good that the SGC had been able to see its way to offering him command of the new unit. His retirement would have been a severe blow to their effectiveness, and although his front-line combat days were over, his easy understanding of interplanetary strategic and tactical military issues was unmatched. And with Carter continuing as his 2IC, the most formidable team he had would continue to make its presence felt. He felt proud as the two officers stood to attention after entering his office and saluting the assembled senior officers.

"At ease! Please take a seat, Colonel, Major." As they sat down, he introduced the brasshats from Washington. "General Ricciardelli, General Markowitz, and Major Davis you already know." Nods were exchanged all round.

As one general and then the other started their description of the new unit's roles and tasks, Hammond was somewhat perturbed to see O'Neill glancing at his watch every half minute or so, the intervals reducing as time went by. Major Carter seemed distracted as well, glancing across to him from time to time, as if waiting for a cue.

"So, Colonel O'Neill, we're appointing..." General Markowitz started to say, when a startling but somehow familiar white light flooded the room. The effect was instantaneously blinding, but as vision returned seconds later, Major Davis saw the Colonel swing his fist in a short sideways movement.

"So close." said Jack quietly, as Sam exhaled for the first time in a minute. Looking up at Davis, who was now the only other occupant of the room, he continued, "So, Major. It seems that being a General round here is a passport to the stars right now. You gotta wonder where they've gone, don't you?"

And seeing the perplexed look on Davis' face, Jack shrugged his shoulders and started to get up. "Carter, looks like there's no point in trying to second guess what they were going to tell us. Let's go to a wedding."

"Yes, sir." she replied, smiling briefly at Davis as they left. "Bye, Paul. See you next time." It was a few minutes before the Major remembered to close his mouth.


Since it had been organised at short notice, their wedding the following Monday was a civil affair, attended by their closest friends, but Sam was so pleased that her brother Mark and his family could attend. Nerves and tension had abounded at the ceremony, but the bride and groom looked so relaxed and happy together at the reception held in Daniel's new large apartment. Jack had succumbed to the cries of "Speech!", but had mercifully and quite touchingly only referred to his great good fortune in meeting, loving and marrying "the woman of my dreams for many years now".

Daniel's reply, on the other hand, was a tour de force of wit, innuendo, sarcasm and most of all, a demonstration to everyone present of just how close a team they had been, and how much he loved and respected them. It had been quite difficult to disguise the locations of their many adventures together, and several civilians present were left wondering why so little had been published about the archaeological wonders of downtown Miami, and why the warring tribes of Sweden were so hostile to foreigners, and most of all why deep space radar telemetry left so many workers injured.

As the evening wore on and the first guests started leaving, Jack felt the need to sit down and rest his aching leg. After a while Sam joined him on the leather sofa, while Teal'c and Daniel sat before them on the floor. Champagne, beers and spirits had given way to coffee, and the conversation was easygoing.

"So, where's the honeymoon, then?" asked Daniel. "I take it you are going away?"

"Well, yeah - tomorrow actually." replied Sam. "We're going to Jack's cabin for a while - there wasn't time enough to organise anything else that we wanted."

"Not quite true, Carter." said Jack, reaching into his jacket pocket. "You're gonna need this for a start." He offered her passport to her, followed by a travel documents wallet. Clearly puzzled, she opened the wallet and saw the itinerary and tickets.

"Jack?" she exclaimed excitedly as she saw the itinerary. "Is this.. Oh Jack! Oh God, Jack, thank you! Thank you! I've always wanted to go to The Isle of Man!" She put her arms round his neck and kissed his cheek.

Daniel was looking at the tickets and was clearly mystified. "What, that rainy place between England and Ireland? What's so special..?"

"Only a whole week of the best motorcycle racing in the world!" Sam replied. "They race right round the island, you know - just three laps is nearly 120 miles! And we're staying in Douglas, so we're bound to meet the racers and go partying with the other bikers who'll be there!" She suddenly looked at Jack with slightly less of a smile. "Are you going to be OK with this, I mean, a whole week?"

"Did I mention the harbour and deep sea fishing that goes on there?" he smiled back. "But I quite like the racing too, you know. I just thought it would make you remember this week for a while."

"You fool, Jack!" she laughed. "Why on Earth did we ever wait this long?"

And Daniel looked at Teal'c, and Teal'c looked at Daniel, and they both wondered the same thing.


A second flash of white light deposited the trio of Generals back into Hammond's office. They all blinked and gasped in surprise, as 2.8 seconds in their time-line had passed since the first white flash, and during that time, the Colonel and the Major had changed places across the table. Major Davis was still in the same place, but looked oddly relaxed.

"What was that?" asked Hammond, looking to O'Neill for an answer, but receiving none as Jack just shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of incomprehension.

"Probably the Asgard, sir." said Sam. "It's characteristic of their calling card when they need something or someone urgently."

It was then that Hammond started noticing the changes that had occurred in the last few seconds. Carter and O'Neill's hair was longer, and they were suddenly more suntanned than before. Her nametag no longer said 'Carter', but was now identical to his. And the matching rings on their fingers were all too obvious.

But he wasn't the SGC's commanding officer for nothing, and smiled despite his initial annoyance. What he couldn't deduce, he could guess at. After pacifying his fellow Generals, he merely turned to his subordinates and said, "Well, *Mr. and Mrs. O'Neill*, do you want the job or not?"

"Yes Sir!" they replied in unison. The SGC had just stepped up a gear in its fight to defend Earth and defeat their oppressors.