Sorry I missed last weeks posting. Things got in the way. My sister got married and I made her wedding cake! Then, of course, on the twelve-hour drive home and about three hours in we got into a car accident. Everyone is fine but my minivan is still in Connecticut and I get to drive eight hours next weekend to go pick it up.

This chapter is a bit longer and has a big reveal... but not all of it!

So... on with the much-needed fluffiness!

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The next day Jack woke up in a much better mood continuing to whistle as he got ready for work. As he signed into the base he casually looked down the list and was shocked to see that Dr. Carter had not signed out for the night. Without a second thought he went straight to her lab.

The lights were off but the door was left ajar so he peeked around the corner. He sighed heavily at what he saw. The beautiful doctor was asleep at her desk, her head resting on her folded arms.

From the panel on the wall he turned on one of the far lights and walked into the lab.

He took a moment to just look at her. He rarely got to just 'look' and take in his fill. Even with her hair a mess and her mascara smudged she was truly beautiful. He was glad that she didn't feel the need to overdo it with the make up and hair spray. He liked that she just wore just a little to highlight her natural beauty.

He tried to keep his mind from wondering to what she would look like fresh out of the shower. He didn't need to go there right now.

He had never touched her before. He hesitated but then lightly brushed one of her long blond locks away from her face. His fingers tingled from the contact of the silky strands. He pulled his hand back before he was tempted to feel just how soft he knew her milky skin would be.

"Dr. Carter," he whispered so not to startle her.

No response.

"Dr. Carter," he said a bit louder.

Still nothing.

"Dr. Carter," he barked in his standard military call.

She shot up eyes still bleary from sleep but then smiled at the handsome colonel. "Jack, what are you doing here so late?"

"It's 0700 Dr. Carter," he said trying to suppress his grin, she had called him Jack. She had never done that before.

"Oh!" she said in shock but then remembered that she had called home around midnight to say that she was not going to make it. If it was 0700 that meant that she had achieved a total of 30 minutes of sleep. She was so tired that she didn't think she could get up. She had been working non-stop for five days now and had gotten maybe ten hours of sleep, total. She leaned her head down onto her arms and closed her eyes again. She knew she would feel better if she got a few more hours of sleep.

"Dr. Carter," Jack called as he watched her collapse.

"Dr. Carter," he called again. She was out cold but she certainly couldn't sleep like this. Without a second thought he scooped the her up off of her stool and into his arms. He almost lost his footing when she wrapped her arms around him and snuggled into his neck.

"Come on Dr. Carter," he said round a small chuckle. "Let's find you someplace to sleep."

He was going to take her to his on base quarters but decided against it when he realized the implications of her sleeping in his bed, both personal and professional. He so didn't need his pillow smelling like her flowery perfume or shampoo. He needed sleep and it was bad enough that she was starting to invade his dreams. Finally he decided on the infirmary. Dr. Frasier always had an open bed and the diminutive doctor would make sure Dr. Carter got at least a good 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Especially when he told her how he had found her.

Of course he had been right. After everyone had gotten over their shock of watching the base 2IC carrying in the head of R&D Janet had ushered him to the nearest isolation room. He thought putting her on a nutritional drip was a bit much but he wasn't a doctor and Sam did look a bit pale. He wondered if she had even bothered to stop for meals.

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After a twenty-four hours in the infirmary Sam was about to lose her mind. She needed to get home and she needed her laptop. Finally after promising to take it easy for another day she was released and allowed to drive herself home.

The following day Sam was in her lab at 0600 hours and back to working on her latest project. She was not at all surprised to look up at 0800 and see the colonel in her doorway holding a breakfast tray.

"I should pommel you," she threatened but Jack could tell it was an empty threat by the doctor's radiant smile.

"Don't blame me," he said as he pushed her laptop out of the way and put the tray down in front of her.

"Thank you for breakfast," she said sweetly, especially when she took the first sip of coffee.

"That is not from our cafeteria," she exclaimed in delight.

"Nope," he said with a grin. "That is part of Danny's private stock. I thought if you are going to be burning the candle at both ends you deserved the good stuff."

"I promise never to yell at you again for butting into my life as long as you tell me where he hides this."

Jack smiled, "I'll think about it."

Sam smiled back and then took a bite of her scrambled eggs.

At lunch Jack tried to look as casual as possible as he dropped by Dr. Carter's lab to make sure that she was going to lunch. The next day he finally gave up pretense and just strolled into her lab, made sure whatever she had been working on would not blow up the mountain and then grabbed her hand and steered her towards to cafeteria.

Jack had thought he was being covert with his attentions until he overheard some of the guys in the locker room.

"It's good to be back," said the first guy.

Jack could tell it was a Marine just by their voice, he chalked it up to a lifetime of military experience.

"Life was awfully dull staring at a wall for six weeks. That is the last time I volunteer for duty rotation outside of the SGC."

'You haven't missed much," said Marine #2, "the most exciting thing I can think of is that they started putting hot mustard in some of the MRE's."

"Are you kidding," said Marine #1, "Have you seen the new CD of R&D? That's one hot blond with a killer rack. You know how I love the bookworm types, they are usually wildcat's between the sheets. You think she's a real blond?"

Jack heard some shuffling and figured it was the other Marine looking around.

"Are you crazy!" he said in a loud whisper. "If O'Neill hears you talking about Dr. Carter that way you'll find yourself permanently stationed in Antarctica."

"What?"

"There were a few major surprises I forgot to mention while you were gone," whispered Marine #2, "Fist was the departure of Dr. Smith, who no one was sad to see go. It seems he was caught dipping his quill in the wrong ink pot and he'll now be cataloging bacteria samples for the rest of his career. No big loss there, if you stupid enough to be caught screwing a higher up's daughter in your own office, you shouldn't be running a research lab at the world's most top secret facility. Second was the arrival of Dr. Carter, who yes is extremely hot in that naughty librarian type of way. But the third and most surprising of everything is Colonel O'Neill's interest in Dr. Carter. I didn't think the man was capable of smiling and now he almost seems happy and we all want him to stay that way. If I were you I would watch what you say about her and drag out those Sunday manners. O'Neill may not look like he could bench more than his own weight but I know for a fact that he could kill you without having to think real hard about it."

Jack had to hold back a chuckle. So the rumors had started already. Well, at least he didn't have to worry about Dr. Carter being hit on and if the Marines had figured it out it was throughout the base by now. Some Black Ops Officer her turned out to be. It was probably the whistling...

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Jack was suffering through Janet's horrid little pen light test and ice-cold stethoscope when Dr. Carter was brought in.

"Dr. Carter!" said Janet in surprise as she rushed over to her new patient.

Eager to get away but just as eager to see what was wrong with the lovely Dr. Carter Jack hopped down from his cot and followed.

"Hello, Dr. Frasier," she said with pained moan, "And please call me Sam," she said with a wince as she sat down on the nearest cot and lifted her already swollen ankle.

"Well, then please call me Janet," she said with what Jack thought was an uncharacteristicly sweet smile. At least he rarely saw them.

"So tell me what happened?" asked Janet.

"I was stupid!" moaned Sam in frustration. "I was trying to reach something on a higher shelf and I slipped off a rolling chair because I didn't have a ladder."

"Well, being as tall as you are you probably don't have to use one very often. I on the other hand can't function without several step stools at my disposal."

Sam laughed, but then groaned as her foot was lifted and inspected. "The chair fell on top of my ankle," she winced, "I think I might have sprained it."

Janet looked at Sam and smiled, "I don't think it's a sprain," she said as she pressed in different places noticing something suspect, "I think you broke it."

"What!" exclaimed the frustrated scientist, "I can't have broken it I have too much to take care of…."

"Calm down Sam," consoled Janet, "Let's get an x-ray to make sure. If it's broken we have some great colored casts for you to choose from, I think the purple one is adorable."

Jack couldn't help but interject, "What do I have to do to get such great treatment from you Doc," he joked. "All I get is a bright light and a cold stethoscope while Dr. Carter gets the royal treatment."

Janet looked up from her chart and smiled sweetly at Sam, "Jack O'Neill is the reason I should have been a pediatrician like my father wanted." She smirked at Jack, "Though with the way you carry on I get plenty of practice dealing with children." She snapped her chart shut and turned back to Sam. "Hang tight Sam and let the ice do its work. An orderly will be here in a minute with the x-ray machine." She looked back at Jack, "Try not to let your bad attitude rub off on others, ok colonel."

Jack sat down next to Sam and took the bag of ice and adjusted it, "So you and rolling chairs don't mix, eh?"

"That stupid piece of equipment was just out my reach and I just had to have it," she said dramatically realizing how stupid she had been. She knew that she should have called for a ladder but she was too impatient.

"Don't worry about it Dr. Carter you're not the first person to make that mistake and I am sure you won't be the last. Call it a bad side effect of being tall."

"Thanks Colonel," she said with a smile that made Jack's pulse speed up, "and please call me Sam."

Jack just smiled and retained his cool exterior as his insides flipped upside down and inside out. "Ok, Sam, than I insist you call me Jack."

"Jack it is," she said with that radiant smile that Jack was convinced had melted his hardened heart just a little bit more each time he saw it.

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Jack was a mess. He was a forty-one year old ex-black ops Air Force Colonel standing on a woman's front door step holding a bouquet of flowers in his sweaty hands and afraid to knock.

Finally he worked up the nerve took a deep breath and went for it.

He looked up when an older woman answered the door. "Hello," she said with a kind smile.

"Does Dr. Samantha Carter live here?" he asked tentatively.

"Yes," the woman eyed Jack and then smiled again. "Oh, you must work with Samantha at Cheyenne. I can recognize a soldier anywhere," she chuckled. "I'm a retired Army nurse you know."

"Colonel Jack O'Neill," he said a bit more confidently.

"Please come in Colonel O'Neill, it's a pleasure to meet you." She stuck her hand out and confidently shook his hand, "I'm Molly Winterbourne, Samantha's nanny and housekeeper."

She noticed the bouquet of flowers, "Oh good Samantha loves daisies," she said as she took the bouquet, "I'll go put them in water."

"Is Dr. Carter at home?" he asked.

She nodded and led him into the living room, "Dr. Carter you have a visitor," she said a bit too sweetly.

Sam looked up from a tome of a book, "Jack," she said with a wide smile, "What a great surprise." She was sitting on the sofa with her purple casted ankle resting atop several pillows on the coffee table. She had obviously been reading, exactly what Jack couldn't tell. He noticed it looked like a textbook and had very large words in the title.

"Well I thought you might want some company," he said and then tried not to look too nervous as Mrs. Winterbourne put the vase of flowers on the coffee table.

"I do thank you," she said trying desperately not to blush when she noticed the flowers. "How did you know daisies were my favorite flower?" she asked.

"Just a guess," he said with a shrug as he sat himself in an overstuffed chair next to the sofa. "You don't look like someone who gets excited over roses, too cliché. So I figured daisies. My mother loves them and has them all over the yard back in Minnesota."

"Your mother lives in Minnesota?" she asked. In all the lunches they had shared at the base he had never really gone into detail about his life outside of the Air Force. "Isn't that where you have your cabin?"

Jack must have realized his slip and quickly tried to change tactics. "So how long are you out for?"

"Oh, no," she said with a laugh. "I am not going to let you get away with giving me that juicy tidbit and not tell me more."

"Come on Sam," he gruffed, "I'm not that interesting."

"Let me be the judge of that," she said, "Every time we have lunch you constantly keep me talking about anything and everything except our lives outside of work."

"That's not true," he protested. "I know that you are General Carter's daughter and you have a brother named Mark who's married to Lisa and they have two kids who you don't get to see that often."

"Wow," she said impressed, "You were listening."

Jack stuck out his tongue at her and crossed his arms as he leaned back into the chair.

"Very mature Colonel O'Neill," she teased.

Jack was looking around the room trying desperately to find something to talk about, anything to change the subject of his past. She already knew he was divorced, just not why. She didn't need to know any more. While looking he started to notice several things that looked a bit out of place for a single woman's house. And now that he wasn't so nervous he put two and two together and came to a shocking realization. He felt like an idiot just blurting something out so he thought about it for a second. Just as he was about to say something a slight whimpering came from the baby monitor on the coffee table. Within moments the whimpering became babbling.

Sam made to get up from the sofa and looked up to see a very shocked Jack O'Neill.

"Don't get up," called Mrs. Winterbourne from the kitchen, "I'll get her." The spry older lady made her way up the stairs and down the hallway.

"Ma Ma Ma Ma," babbled the little voice on the other side of the monitor.

Jack couldn't take his eyes away from it. He was in complete shock. He heard Mrs. Winterbourne enter the room and make her way over to the child.

"Well hello dear heart," she sang, "How did our beautiful Grace Elizabeth enjoy her nap?"

"Na Na!" called Grace Elizabeth as she saw her nanny enter her room.

The little girl continued to babble as she was picked up. Jack listened as she was obviously brought over to a changing table and put into a fresh diaper. He listened in wonder as Mrs. Winterbourne blew raspberries against the little girl's skin and sang her a happy little tune about getting her diaper changed and put into new clothes.

"Jack," said Sam tentatively. "You must have a lot of questions."

"What?" he asked, his attention drawn from the monitor.

"Look who woke up and was asking for her mama," said Mrs. Winterbourne cheerfully from the landing. It was obvious that the colonel was quite surprised. Being an Army nurse there was one thing Molly Winterbourne was great at and that was putting frightened and shocked people at ease. She walked directly over to the colonel.

"Colonel O'Neill I don't think you have had the pleasure of meeting Grace Elizabeth."

"No, I," he stammered.

"Grace Elizabeth Carter, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill. He works with your mama. As you know it is all very top secret, but I am sure the colonel would love to tell you everything he can."

Sam stared on in shock as Mrs. Winterbourne handed Grace Elizabeth to Jack. She was definitely going to have a talk that little Molly Matchmaker. She was not surprised when Molly turned to her and winked. Why was this woman such a great nanny! Sam had no excuse to fire her on the spot for meddling. She knew it was her own fault for talking about Jack over late night cups of tea.

"I am just going to warm up a bottle for Miss Grace and if you two behave I just might come back with a few slices of that apple pie I made this morning to go with our tea."

At the mention of pie Jack looked up from the baby in his arms, "Pie?"

"She's the reason I run five miles each day," sighed Sam. "Molly is an amazing cook."

"And Mrs. Winterbourne is Grace's nanny?" asked Jack.

"Yes," said Sam. "Grace Elizabeth is my adopted daughter."

"Oh," said Jack now even more confused. Why would a young aspiring Doctor adopt an infant in the prime of her career?

"Confused?" asked Sam trying to hide her amusement.

"Yes," admitted Jack as he let Grace grasp his fingers and stand up in his lap. Jack O'Neill may be a hard ass Colonel, but he was a sucker for children. He hadn't held a little girl since his sister had her youngest five years ago.

"It's a very long story," said Sam breaking him from his thoughts.

"I did come for a visit," he said with a sly smile, "and if I am not mistaken I heard mention of apple pie. I think I have time."

T.B.C.

The next chapter is so AWESOME if I may say so myself... Haha... I love to tease. Call it retribution for all those cliffhangers I have to wait through. Points for anyone who can guess the story. If someone gets it right I just may have to post it early...