AN: This is a Secret Santa Request from achairsomewhere: no smut or anything like that but a good fic would be nice :) um...sam/jack of course, some team - post jack being a general so team could mean old or new (or both which is probably preferable), romance but not clichéd or slash and in character. and some off world actionI've been writing a series of stories all involving the different ways Sam and Jack get engaged.

AN2: After I read this assignment, I started two other stories which I thought would fit the prompt and then the idea for this one hit me- and I thought "This is the best one of the bunch!" Hope you enjoy and that it isn't too clichéd or too lacking in action. If it is… well sorry but there's no "no cliché/lots of action or a new story guarantee" =) Now on with the story!

Jack O'Neill sat in his office, wondering if once again someone was out to get him. He had made plans to spend Christmas with Sam and well, everyone, but it seemed the Asgard had a different idea. So instead SG-1 and Landry were quickly speeding across the galaxy towards the Asgard homeworld.

He hadn't had much time to prepare for their departure, so he had been forced to make a quick decision- one that he was now not really regretting, but definitely doubting.

Jack had decided to send Sam's Christmas present, really all of SG-1's presents, with them by personally making sure that the carefully packaged and wrapped box was beamed aboard the Odyssey prior to their departure.

He could vaguely remember being nervous when had asked Sara to marry him, but right now, he was terrified, and rightly so. He had to wait only a few minutes to hear Sara's "Yes" but it was going to be months before he heard from Sam again.

Briefly, he wondered what Sam had gotten him for Christmas that he still had to go to Colorado to retrieve, but put it out of his mind. He had paperwork to do and budget requests to sign, or else he would never get out of here tonight!

o

Vala looked longingly at the box in the corner of the room which Daniel had claimed for his own personal lab. She just knew it contained a present for her. After all General O'Neill had said he liked her, right?

Not even looking up, Daniel said, "Don't even think about it."

"Daniel! Come on- General O'Neill sent those presents last year! I don't understand why we can't open them now!" Vala complained.

Daniel sighed, giving up his attempt at work. He already knew that he could spend a lifetime and not learn everything the Asgard left behind. "Jack sent that box to Sam, and if she says we can't open it until Christmas, we aren't opening it until Christmas."

'Time for a change in tactics,' Vala decided. "What do you think it is?"

"What do you think what is?" Cam asked for the doorway of the lab, Teal'c right behind him.

"The box from General O'Neill," Vala explained, pointing to the corner of the room where Teal'c had put the box.

Teal'c had located the large box two weeks ago during his continued work of inventorying the ship. He had taken it to Sam immediately.

She had opened it to find several wrapped presents. After great thought, she had decided they should wait until Christmas to open it. After all, the instructions on the boxes specifically said "Wait until Christmas to Open".

Cam shrugged his shoulders. "I just hope it isn't something that was alive- because I don't think it will be anymore!"

oo

Jack stepped into Sam's house, still confused as to why he was here. It wasn't like Sam was going to be able to make the trip home and surprise him. If he was lucky, she'd be back and they'd be together for Valentine's Day.

He flipped on the lights, taking note of the decorated tree in the living room with only one present under it. Unable to resist, Jack picked up the present, and noticed it was addressed to him.

The box was wrapped carefully in Simpson's paper- and was quite light. Even though it was still a couple days until Christmas, Jack tore into the box, opening it to reveal an envelope on the inside- it wasn't like Sam was there to chide him about being unable to wait!

He quickly opened the envelope, wondering what kind of message Sam could have left him.

Jack-

If you're reading this, then I guess I'm not here for Christmas because I wasn't there to stop you from opening this present early!

Jack smiled. Only Sam would know him well enough to know that he couldn't wait to open his Christmas present.

But I guess since you couldn't wait, I'll have to make you work to get your present. Call the number below and ask if your present is ready. I hope you like it.

Love always,

Sam

Unable to wait, Jack pulled out his cell phone to make the call.

ooo

Sam stared at the box.

It was Christmas morning on the Odyssey. With great care, Sam began to pull the wrapping paper from the box. The wrapping was too neat for Jack to have done the job himself, but she still wanted to take her time enjoying the present. It would be the only one she would get from Jack for who knows how long.

oooo

The phone call had been rather mysterious and had left Jack with more questions than answers. But Sam had left him instructions, and Jack was going to follow them.

Which was why he had driven almost an hour to this rather remote location.

He got out and then he realized that he could hear noise coming from the back of the house.

With a sudden spring to his step and a smile on his face, he walked to the front door and rang the bell.

ooooo

Now Sam was confused. As far as she could tell the only thing the box contained was packing peanuts. Why in the world would Jack send her a box full of packing peanuts?

She started digging through them, like a kid in a sandbox, and eventually her hand hit something hard, that wasn't a packing peanut. She dug a little bit more until she could see it.

She gasped in surprise as she looked at the box she had uncovered, hardly bigger than a few of the packing peanuts put together.

Tears welled up in her eyes and in that moment she rededicated herself to finding a way off of this ship.

She carefully put the box containing the box off to the side, unable to do anything else with her Christmas present right now. Instead, she headed to her lab; Sam had a problem to solve so she could go home and have Jack slip that ring on her finger himself.

oooooo

Jack was sitting on the floor, being swarmed by puppies. His casual mention that someday he would retire and get a dog was all he had ever given Sam. Yet somehow she had known he would want a lab.

A yellow lab too, if the woman who owned the puppies could be believed! She said that Sam had been to visit shortly after the puppies were born and had instantly reserved the only yellow lab in the litter for him.

The little guy was friendly, licking at Jack's fingers as he tried to pet the puppy.

A puppy was the perfect Christmas present.

Now if only Sam was there, and it would be the perfect Christmas.

ooooooo

Samantha Carter could never bring herself to wear the ring. She slipped it on the chain, next to her dog tags, because wearing it on her finger would forever be a reminder of how she was continuously failing in her attempts to get her and her teammates home.

For the past fifty years she never told anyone about the ring that hung on her dog tags. She had lied years ago and told them that the box had contained some of her favorite foods- chocolate bars and blue jell-o.

Even now as she prepared to reverse the time dilation, she did nothing more than offer a fleeting touch to the ring that hung around a neck, offering an 'I love you Jack' to the stars as she pushed the button that would hopefully send her back to him.

oooooooo

Even with the new Asgard technology, it was still going to take too long for them to get home, which was why Jack called in a favor to go out and meet them.

A few seconds by Stargate and Jack was to be beamed aboard, directly to the bridge of the Odyssey.

Or at least that was what the plan was… but considering he was an (honorary) member of SG-1 and things were never went as planned for them, it didn't go that way.

Instead of beaming to the bridge, he found himself in Sam's quarters.

Looking right at her.

"Ya know, for some reason I don't think I was supposed to end up here," Jack stated in a casual manner, like he had just dropped by for pizza and a movie.

"Ooops!" Sam said halfheartedly, even though she had obviously done some hacking to reprogram the computer and beam him here rather then to the bridge.

Jack smiled, slinging his P-90 behind him so that he could pull Sam into his arms and hug her. They separated and Jack tried discretely checking her hand and dog tags for a ring, but found none- and got caught.

"Jack, what are you looking for?"

"Nothing," Jack said, a little bit too gruffly, before softening his words with a smile.

Deciding a change of topics was in order, Sam asked, "So what did you think of your Christmas present?"

"He's… perfect. Likes to hog the bed though," Jack admitted.

"What did you name him?"

"Ralph."

"Ralph?"

"He didn't look like a Thor," Jack claimed, like that explained everything.

Sam couldn't help herself as she giggled.

The moment ended though as Jack was paged to the bridge and Sam to the lab.

ooooooooo

It took almost a day for Jack and Sam to find some 'alone time' and for Jack to ask the question that had been bothering him since his arrival.

"How come you're not wearing your engagement ring?"

"Engagement ring?" Sam squeaked, reaching a pitch that Jack didn't even realize that she could.

"Yeah, you know, the thing you wear on your finger, shows everyone that you're engaged to a man, that you want to get married… that kind of engagement ring," Jack explained.

"What engagement ring?"

"The one I got you for Christmas," Jack explained, like he was talking to a small child.

"I didn't get a ring for Christmas."

"You didn't?"

"I didn't."

"I sent one."

"I didn't get it."

"Obviously!"

"What does that mean?"

"It means that now I understand why you weren't wearing the ring."

"What makes you think I would want to marry you?" Sam demanded.

Jack stood there at a loss for words. He had never expected that sort of a response from Sam. They had broached the topic of marriage before and usually it ended with them using the vaguest terms like 'someday'.

"Sam?" Jack whispered, feeling his heart start to break.

Realizing what she had said, and how it had sounded, Sam explained her words. "I wanted you to ask- not just send me a ring."

"Marry me?" Jack quickly asked.

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Usually when a man asks that, he comes with a ring in hand," Sam reminded him.

"I have a ring!" Jack protested. "It's here, just not right here, right now."

Sam smiled at his obvious fluster. "Find the ring Jack, and then ask," she suggested, heading for the door.

"And then?"

"And then… we'll see," Sam assured him with a 10,000 watt smile.

oooooooooo

Sam's words, of course sent Jack on a hunt for the missing box. It took quite a bit of doing, but he did finally find it, tucked away in a storage room, sitting on a shelf that was even out of his reach.

"General O'Neill to the bridge. General O'Neill to the bridge." The communications officer called over the ship's intercom system, startling Jack who had been precariously balanced on a rather unsteady stool he had found in the corner.

He was pretty sure he did a rather good impression of a windmill before loosing his balance. The last thing he remembered was the strange look he got of the ceiling as he fell.

ooooooooooo

"And he says I get into trouble off-world?" Daniel asked from where they were all gathered in the infirmary. "At least I've never been taken out by a storage room and a stool!"

Laughter ensued at the truth of that comment.

"I believe O'Neill fell from a stool Daniel Jackson and his cranium collided with the floor," Teal'c corrected.

"But what was he doing standing on a stool in the first place Muscles?" Vala asked.

"Searching for a box," Jack grunted from his position, lying in the bed.

All eyes turned to him, even though Jack only had eyes for Sam, and in return Sam only had eyes for him.

"Don't you have people to do that for you General?" Vala asked and received an elbow in her side for the comment. "What? He's a General! You don't do work like that when you have people to do that for you!"

"Why were you looking for a box?" Daniel asked curiously even as he received an elbow to the ribs from Vala to match the one he had given her.

"I was looking for a box," Jack explained. "It has your Christmas presents in it."

""Presents?" Vala asked excitedly. She had been stuck on this ship for so long now that she was about to lose her mind. Any shift from what had become the daily grind would be great. One could only have so many 'birthday' parties before the crew started to ignore her insistence that they celebrate- again.

"Yes presents," Jack confirmed.

"Shall I retrieve them O'Neill?"

"Yeah, that'd be great Teal'c. They're in a box-"

"I may have aged, but I still recall where the box is," Teal'c cut Jack off as he went for the door.

"I think you meant 'I'm old, but I haven't forgotten' Teal'c," Jack called after his friend.

One word floated back to them as they waited for Teal'c to return.

"Indeed."

Which of course, sent them all into fits of laughter as they waited for the arrival of their Christmas presents.

Jack managed to amuse them all with stories, and even a picture of his beloved new puppy Ralph until Teal'c returned. The large Jaffa donned a Santa hat and proceeded to pass out the presents, one at a time and they watched each other open them.

It didn't matter that it was now February, this was Christmas to them.

Daniel opened his first to reveal a book. "This is a shock Jack," Daniel said sarcastically as he flipped through the first few pages of the book.

"That's me, Mr. Unexpected," Jack returned with a smirk. He had gotten Daniel a different book every year for Christmas as long as he had known him.

Vala went next, ripping into her present with the kind of impatient joy that usually belonged to a child. Of course it was just a box with an envelope containing a gift card to one of her favorite stores. "I won't even need to borrow your credit next time Daniel," she said quite happily, leaning around several people to give Jack a hug.

Teal'c's gift revealed a gift card to his favorite hat shop.

"I didn't want to pick one out for you Teal'c," Jack explained.

Mitchell was quite surprised when Teal'c offered him a present from Jack, and even more surprised to find a couple of tickets to a baseball game. Of course, he thanked Jack profusely for the gift.

That left Sam with the largest of the boxes. She took quite a bit of time opening the box, prompting threats of assistance from several in the room.

A full blown smile threatened to shine through as she opened the box to reveal packing peanuts and proceeded to dump them all on to Jack who was sitting up in his infirmary bed.

"Hey!" Jack protested, surprised that Sam would do something like that.

Sam giggled while the civilians laughed at Sam's actions and Mitchell looked on with interest.

"No giggling Colonel," he ordered as he began searching the mess on his bed for the box he knew had to be there.

"Interesting choice of gifts, Jack," Daniel commented, wondering exactly what his friend had been thinking giving his… girlfriend for lack of a better word, a box of packing peanuts for Christmas.

Sam stopped giggling when a ring box was unceremoniously shoved in her face.

"Will you marry me now?" Jack asked impatiently.

Sam smiled, nodding as she permitted Jack to slip the ring on her finger. They shared a short kiss, somewhat of an irregularity considering where they were.

Amid the congratulations from their friends, Sam took the time to make one thing very clear.

"There is one condition to all of this," she began.

"What?" Jack asked worriedly, wondering what kind of condition Sam was about to name.

"I get to name all the kids."