Heavy is The Head

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - November 5 - December 3, 2007
Spoilers:  Stargate Atlantis episodes: Adrift, Lifeline, Reunion, and Doppelganger
Size:  42kb, short story
Written:  January 9-11,15, 2017
Summary:  Newly promoted, Sam goes to Jack and Daniel for some advice.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Egyptian Erotica: Another Ten Months”

Heavy is The Head
by Orrymain

“Needs more seasoning,” Jack opined as he tasted the soup that he and his husband were making for lunch.

“Oregano?”

“And basil.”

Daniel nodded and reached for the spices, adding a touch of both to the pot.  Just then, a knock on the door drew the couple's attention.

“Better put it on low, just in case,” Jack suggested before heading for the front door.  He looked out and cocked his head in surprise.  “Carter,” he called out as he swung the door open.

“Sir, I'm sorry for not calling first, but ...”

“Come on in,” Jack invited, waiting for Sam to enter before closing the door.

“Is Daniel here?”

“Right here,” Daniel acknowledged as he joined the two adults in the entryway.

“Um, the brood?”

“The Mouseketeers are out and the babies are, at the moment, enjoying a midday nap,” Jack answered.

“But Jonny could wake up at any time,” Daniel pointed out.  “He's not crazy about naps.”

“I was hoping we could talk for a few minutes.”

As the three headed to the living room and sat down, Jack in his chair and Sam and Daniel on the sofa with Daniel closest to his lover's location, Daniel questioned, “Sam, is something wrong?”

“No, yes, maybe.  I'm not sure.”  The blonde sighed, “Maybe it's the wings.”

“Carter, you earned that promotion,” Jack opined about Sam's latest increase in rank when she was made a full colonel.  That was a recent happening, the brief ceremony happening roughly a month ago.  ~Wish we could have been there, but we were on vacation.~

“Thank you, Sir.  Um, the thing is, something happened recently.  I don't know if you heard about it.  It happened when Doctor Lee and I were at the Midway Station.”

“The great space hub for the Stargate,” Jack jested lightly.

“We've been working on getting it operational.”

“It's an amazing concept,” Daniel interjected.  “I mean, to be able to go from one Gate system to the next via a corridor is pretty ... amazing.”

“Did you get it open for business?” Jack inquired.

“Almost.”

“But you're not here about the Midway Station,” Daniel surmised from his friend's expression.

“There was a problem on Atlantis.  The first we heard about it was when Colonel Abe Ellis contacted us through the Pegasus Gate from the Apollo.”

“The latest and greatest,” Jack put forth about the spaceship.

“Go on, Sam.”

“Okay, so the Replicators ...”

“Oh, not them again,” Jack groaned.

“More sophisticated than the ones we fought,” Sam advised.  “The Replicators in that galaxy created a satellite weapon that could track Atlantis.  There was nowhere for anyone to hide.  The determination was made that the only option for survival was to relocate Atlantis.”

“They actually moved it?” Jack questioned, leaning forward in his chair.

“Yes, but for a while, we didn't know where Atlantis was or what happened to it.  Bill and I went to the Pegasus Galaxy and were beamed aboard the Apollo so we could assist.”

“Carter, I know you love your toys, but you sure like being in the thick of things.”

“I may be too much in the thick of things now, General.”  After seeing the curious looks on Jack's and Daniel's faces, Sam elaborated, “We did find Atlantis and rescued Colonel Sheppard’s team.  Sir, Daniel, there was a loss.”

It was times like these when Jack and Daniel wished they maintained closer contact with Stargate Command.  There were no regrets in their decision to retire and raise a family, but both were still intrigued by the Program and enjoyed being in the know when possible.

“Who, Sam?”

“Doctor Weir,” Sam answered.  “She was injured by an explosion and was dying.  Doctor Keller actually performed a craniectomy ...”

“That thing where they cut open the skull and let the brain expand out?” Jack asked.

“Yes,” Sam responded.  “She didn't respond to the surgery.  Doctor Keller said even if she survived, she wouldn't the same person anymore.”

“That happens when you cut out part of the brain,” Jack opined with a low and eerie voice as he again sat back in his favorite chair.

“Anyway, she, um, was crashing, and McKay ...”

“McKay,” Jack groaned.  “What did he do?”

“He's very close to Doctor Weir.  He wanted to save her.”

“What did he do, Carter?”

“He and Doctor Keller reactivated her nanites.”

“Reactivated?” Daniel questioned.  “You mean Rodney turned on the nanites in the hope that they would ... fix Elizabeth?”

“Yes.  She still had nanites in her system from that time when the Replicators infected her.  At that time, Doctor Beckett was able to use an electro-magnetic pulse to make them inert.  McKay and Keller thought they could program the nanites to repair Doctor Weir without infecting her brain.”

“Obviously, it didn't work,” Jack droned with dread.

“McKay was able to program the nanites not to hurt Doctor Weir and he shut down their ability to contact the Replicators.”

“But,” Jack interrupted.  “I know there's a but in here somewhere.”

With a nod, Sam affirmed, “She would be part human and part Replicator for the rest of her life; but then McKay came up with another option.  He believed he could program the nanites to repair her organic cells and then shut down when they were done.”

“But?” Jack prompted yet again.

“But he needed more time, Jack, and he didn't have it,” Sam said quietly, conscious of the fact that she'd used the general's given name.  “Doctor Weir was about to die.  McKay and Keller decided to proceed, regardless of the risk.”

“What happened to Elizabeth, Sam?” Daniel inquired as he leaned forward slightly.

“The nanites repaired the damage.  She woke up, seemingly healed, and reports are she wasn't happy.”

“Where the heck was Sheppard?  He was in charge, right?” the general queried.

“Yes, he was.  He was working on repairs outside of Atlantis when McKay made the decision.”

“Weren't they in contact?”

“Sir, you know McKay ...”

“He disobeyed orders,” Jack surmised.

“That's pretty much it,” Sam affirmed.  “Uh, I should have mentioned that the ZPM on Atlantis was losing power.  The explosion that injured Doctor Weir was caused by a hit from the Replicator's satellite weapon.  It also damaged the primary conduits around the ZPM and wasn't repairable.  McKay realized where they could find a ZPM.”

“Where was that, pray tell?” Jack inquired.

“On the Replicator homeworld.”

“You're kidding?”

“Jack, we'd do it,” Daniel put forth.

“Huh?”

“We've done it.  We've done whatever we had to in order to save Earth.  Colonel Sheppard and his team were trying to save Atlantis.  You can't fault them for doing what we would have done on Atlantis and have done to protect Earth,” Daniel stated, earning a nod of agreement from his soulmate.

“The team had help,” Sam continued.  “Doctor Weir went with them.  McKay believed that once they closed in on the Replicator homeworld that the nanites in Doctor Weir could be manipulated to hack into the Replicator mainframe.”

“Sam, there's something more,” Daniel opined, his senses telling him that the critical part of the story was still to come.

“McKay created a kill switch.  If the situation got out of control, he could activate the kill switch and neutralize the nanites.”

“Leaving Elizabeth ...” Daniel prodded.

“The nanites would shut off.  She'd die,” Sam answered.  She looked down for a moment, taking in the full story that she only heard herself when it was over.  “She guided them to a ZPM, but then there was something else.”

“This is so familiar,” Jack sighed.  “You go for one thing and twenty other situations pop up.”

“McKay discovered a command code that directed the Replicators to attack the Wraith, but somehow it was deactivated.”

“Wow,” Daniel replied.  “They had to activate that code.”

“That was the feeling,” Sam acknowledged.  “A lot went wrong.  At one point, Doctor Weir left McKay in the jumper and went out on her own.  When they tried to use the kill switch, there was no response.  Uh, they did finally manage to get the command uploaded and confirm that it was working.”

“What happened to Elizabeth, Sam?” the archaeologist asked.

“Colonel Sheppard and Ronon Dex saw her one more time.  She was controlling Oberoth, the leader of the Replicators.  They didn't want to leave her, but she ordered them to go.”

“And they left?” Jack asked.

“They didn't have much of a choice, General,” Sam responded.  “We believe Doctor Weir used her connection to keep the Replicators frozen.  Colonel Sheppard noticed that when she turned to look at him, to order him to leave her behind, the Replicators began to move again.”

“Not leaving her, making her look at him, broke her concentration,” Jack suggested.  ~No victors there.~

“That's the assumption,” Sam replied.  “The Replicators attacked and Ronon Dex pulled Colonel Sheppard away.  The last they saw of Doctor Weir, she was being surrounded by the Replicators.”

“So, she could be alive,” Daniel put forward.

“I don't know, Daniel.  After the puddle jumper launched, the Replicator ship appeared and was arming its weapons when the Apollo approached and opened fire.  Once the jumper was aboard, we went to hyperspace.”

“We?” the general echoed pointedly.

“I was on the ship.”

“I thought you were on the Midway Station,” Daniel interjected.

“I was, but I thought we, Doctor Lee and I, could be of help in searching for Atlantis.”

“Glad you're okay, Carter,” Jack spoke more quietly.

“Thank you, Sir, but we really weren't in any danger.”  Sam paused for a moment, reflecting on the apparent loss of Elizabeth Weir.  “After that, McKay searched for a new home for Atlantis and came up with M35-117.”

“Don't know that one,” Jack responded.

“Stable atmosphere, big ocean, and you might be interested in this, Sir.”

“I'm all ears.”

“The mainland is host to a very large snake-like creature, that may or may not be venomous.”

“Danny, take M35-117 off our list of family vacation locales.”

With a small chuckle, Daniel bobbed his head up and down a couple of times and returned, “It's off.”

“Colonel Sheppard used the chair and landed the city safely on the surface of the ocean.  The ZPM retained power, the shield was working, and it looks like Atlantis has a new home.”

“But Elizabeth is dead, or a Replicator,” Daniel noted sadly.

“Carter, you didn't just drop by to tell us about Weir,” Jack interjected.  ~But I'm glad you did.~

“No, Sir, I didn't,” the blonde admitted.  “I have been offered command of Atlantis.”

“Wow,” Jack and Daniel expressed at the same time.

“I haven't accepted the position yet.”

“Why the heck not?” Jack asked.

“Well, I'm not sure how long I would be there.  I made you guys a promise about Egypt and ...”

“Sam, we appreciate that you want to help us on this dig in Egypt, to be with the brood, but Teal'c is going and we can make other arrangements.  You can't pass up a chance to go to Atlantis because of us.  Please don't do that.”

Well aware of what Atlantis meant to Daniel and the magic it held for him, Sam felt the sincerity behind his remark.  Still, she knew that if she couldn't go to Egypt with the family, that it would be more difficult for her friends since the entire family was going and they were relying on her and Teal'c to be with and protect the eight children and two beagles.  Then again, if she passed on Atlantis for the trip, Daniel's guilt would be huge and he probably wouldn't have as good of a time as he would have otherwise.  He'd always regret and feel responsible for Sam's decision and the opportunity she'd missed.
 
Nodding, Sam looked away for a few seconds as she process her feelings.  It wasn't just letting her teammates down with the upcoming trip overseas, but also her doubts about her own leadership abilities in a military situation that was gnawing at her.

Finally, the colonel admitted, “Sir, I've never been in a command situation quite like this.  SG-1 was always your command.  I was a substitute at best.”

“Carter, get over yourself.  You're a full bird now.  Part of it is because you're a genius with doohickeys; the other part is because you're fast on your feet, a better-than-average strategist, and you fight, fight hard, for survival.  Do *not* limit yourself.”

“There's a first time for everything, Sam.  You can do this,” Daniel encouraged.

“What if I don't want to do it?  Colonel Sheppard didn't want the command.”

“Did they offer it to him?”

“Not to my knowledge.  Scuttlebutt has it he hasn't been ... cordial in his communication with the International Oversight Advisory regarding their treatment of Doctor Weir.”  Sam chuckled, “I heard McKay wants the job.”

“Oh, Carter, you can't.  You *cannot* allow that neurotic egomaniac to have command of Atlantis.”

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, I know you like the man, why I don't know, but he's not rational enough to have a command like this,” Jack insisted.

“You know, the IOA was so adamant about having a civilian in charge originally.  I wonder why they didn't choose another civilian?” Sam pondered aloud.

Jack replied, “They probably want more control.  Since things are ramping up out there, Atlantis could end up being a military outpost.  They wouldn't want a civilian going against their goals.”

“I think they wanted you because you have the experience,” Daniel told the blonde.  “Think about it.  You've helped defeat the Replicators here.  You're an expert on the Ancients and their technology, and you're probably the smartest scientist in the program.”

“Now that you're retired,” Sam quickly returned.

“We worked different sides of the science equation,” Daniel put forth with a smile.

“No one knows the Ancients like you, Daniel, and I learned most of what I know from you.”

Daniel nodded, grateful for the credit and yet not really needing it.  He was secure in his role with the Stargate Program and its history.  None of what he did was for recognition.  Rather, everything he did was due to a passion deep within his soul.

At that point, Jack stared straight into Sam's eyes as he challenged, “Are you up for it, Carter?  Can you stand your ground against a committee that thinks it's the grandest organization in the universe?  Can you protect your people?”

“I've seen the best in action, General.  I can't tell you how much I've learned from you over the years.  We've defeated the Goa'uld, our Replicators, and the Ori.  You led us to victory, Sir.  I think I'm as prepared as anyone could be.  The Wraith and the Replicators in the Pegasus Galaxy are strong, but Atlantis can survive.  Atlantis can take them down.”

“Then you're good to go.”

“I guess I am.”

“One thing, though,” Jack began.  “McKay, all the time.  Are you sure you want to do that to yourself?  This is the man who imagined you naked and, let's face it, he's the real meaning behind the phrase, 'a pain in the mikta'.”

“Jack!”

“Just stating facts, Daniel.  No one would blame Carter for not wanting to be around McKay day in and day out.”

“I can handle McKay.”

“That's what he wants.”

“Jack!”

“Geez,” Sam chuckled nervously as she looked down and shook her head.  She quickly grew serious again as doubts still circled her mind.  She couldn't say what she was about to say to anyone other than Jack and Daniel, and even with them it was difficult to confide her inner thoughts.  “There's a comfort in being a subordinate.  You don't risk anything.  You follow orders and do your job.  If I take the command of Atlantis, I'm the one responsible for hundreds of lives within the city and potentially countless more in the galaxy.”

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” Daniel spoke softly.

“What?” Sam asked.

“Uh, Shakespeare used a similar line, 'Uneasy lies the head that a wears a crown.'”

“'King Henry IV,'” Jack noted.

“Yes,” Daniel affirmed lightly.  “Uh, it's been altered over time, but basically it means that the person in charge has great responsibilities and that with that comes ...”

“A great big headache,” Jack offered.  He raised his hands over his head and gestured forward while adding, “And more worries than you knew was possible.”

“Something like that,” Daniel confirmed.  “Sam, just do your job.  You don't need to think about being the leader.”

“I just need to make the right decisions and the right orders,” the colonel stated soulfully.

“I have confidence in you, Sam,” Daniel asserted.

“You'll make a great leader, Carter.  It's time.  Let it happen,” Jack urged.  “If you need advice, call me.”

“I'm not sure there's a long distance plan available,” Sam chuckled.  “But, thank you for the offer.”

====

Roughly three weeks later, Sam was again at the Jackson-O'Neill home.  She spent some time with the triplets and the twins and enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee and a pastry while visiting with Jack and Daniel.  Finally, Jennifer, David, and Chenoa entered the living room to speak with their aunt for a while.  They were visibly sad knowing Sam was leaving.

The three children were told that Sam was going to be the new base commander at a facility in Antarctica.  The location made it plausible that Sam would be hard to reach and not readily accessible.

The time came too soon for all when Sam needed to conclude her visit and finish her goodbyes with the Mouseketeers.  Jack and Daniel walked away, keeping their distance as they looked on from the entryway.

“Aunt Sam, for you,” two-year-old Chenoa said softly as she handed the woman a picture of her in a frame.

“Oh, Noa, that's so sweet,” Sam responded, leaning over for a hug.  “Thank you so much.  I love it.”

“We have a picture for you, too,” David announced, handing the blonde a photo Kayla Armentrout recently took of he, Jennifer, and the family beagles.

“It's wonderful.”

“No forget us,” Chenoa requested tearfully.

“I could never do that, and I won't be gone forever.”  Sam reached out and held the little girl's hand as she promised, “I'll be home for the holidays.”

“That's a long time,” David opined sadly.  ~I guess it's not really that long, but it feels like it.~

~Holy Hannah!  How do parents ever say goodbye to their kids?  That's only a month from now.  I feel so guilty,~ Sam thought.

“Oh!” Chenoa gasped.  She pointed at Jennifer, signaling for her sister to lean over.  After whispering something in Jennifer's ear, she added, “Aunt Sam need; no forget.”

“Um, excuse me for a minute.”

Jennifer headed for her parents, but bypassed them.  She went into her dad's study and removed something from his desk.  She went upstairs to her own room and selected an object and then she walked by her parents again and headed upstairs to her daddy's den where she removed an item from his desk.  When she returned to the living room, she glanced at her parents, gave them an apologetic shrug, and then looked to the woman who was about to leave on an assignment.

“Aunt Sam, Chenoa is very frightened that you'll forget us, all of us.  We'll reassure her, but she's scared.  She wants you to take these so you'll remember everyone -- Dad, Daddy, and the babies.  I guess we should have thought to give you a family portrait, but these are the ones I could find just now.”

As Jennifer again looked at her parents, Jack and Daniel exchanged a look.  Both realized Jennifer took the pictures they had of the other from their desktops.  Fortunately, they had copies and could replace them.  Neither were upset at Jennifer's actions.  Chenoa was so young and vulnerable that they understood her need to not have her family be forgotten.

“Geez, I could never forget any of you.  Noa, I'll take them all with me and I'll look at them each and every day that I'm away.”

“Promise?”

“With all my heart.”

“Cross your heart?”

Kneeling down, Sam crossed her heart and replied, “I cross my heart.  I love you, all of you.  I won't forget.”

Chenoa threw her arms around her aunt, causing the photos to fall to the carpet.  Fortunately, none of the pictures or their frames were damaged.

“I really have to go, but I will be back.”

Sam gave last hugs to Jennifer, David, and Chenoa and then gathered up the photographs and placed them in her purse.  Inwardly, she was glad she had a large bag with her so she could carry the Jackson-O'Neill images safely.

“Woof!”

“Bye, girls.  I'll miss you, too,” Sam said, leaning down and accepting a few doggie kisses from the beagles.

“Carter, one more look at the babies?” Jack offered about the five little ones who were upstairs in the nursery.

“Sir, if I do that, I'll never leave,” Sam answered.  ~I think I'm right about that.  I'm feeling ... mushy and that feels very odd.~

“Sam,” Daniel called out, reaching over and hugging her.  “Take care.”

“You, too,” Sam returned.  Looking at the man whom she still considered to be her commanding officer, she vowed, “I'll do my best to make the right orders, General.”

“I have no doubts,” Jack responded.  After a moment, he drew Sam in a hug.  “You'll do great.”

“Thank you for the confidence,” Sam spoke as the hug ended.  “Well, I'd better go.”

“We're here if you need us,” Daniel assured.

Sam nodded and then hurried out the door.  She was excited to be heading for Atlantis, but she was also sad that she was leaving behind, if only temporarily, an extraordinary family she loved and cared for deeply.

====

One week later, daily life for Jack and Daniel continued in a way that wasn't even imaginable a few years ago.  Gone were the days of missions through the Stargate, translating alien languages, and training new recruits, replaced by warming bottles of milk for the infant twins, learning about David's love of rocks, and enduring countless hours of Britney Spears' music since Jennifer was fascinated by the pop star.

“Jonny, covert is great, but when Dad or Daddy calls you, you show yourself.  Is that understood?” Jack asked the fourteen-month-old baby as he held him in the nursery.

Jonny let out a giant burp, causing Jack to grimace.

“Hey, well, stop hiding under the sheets.  You'll give your old man a heart attack.”

Meanwhile, Daniel was downstairs playing the horse to Chenoa's jockey.

“Horsey, whinny.”

Daniel did as directed while thinking, ~I can imagine what some of my foster families would say if they saw me now.~  He smiled.  ~They're loss and definitely my gain.~

Hearing a knock at the door, Chenoa noted, “Horsey, door.”

“Actually, Sweetie, I think the horse needs some rest.  Why don't you see if Dad needs help with the babies.”

“Okay.”

Daniel stood as Chenoa went up the stairs.  He reached for his back and felt a kink.

~Ouch!~  The archaeologist went to the door, opening it to see an airman at the door.  ~This can't be good.~

“Doctor Jackson-O'Neill?”

“Yes.”

“This is for you,” the airman said, handing Daniel an envelope and then leaving before he could say a word.

~Hmm.~  Daniel saw his name on the envelope and smiled.  ~That's Sam's handwriting.~

Daniel walked over to the couch and sat down.  He opened the envelope and pulled out the paper that was inside.  He smiled at an enclosure and the verification the note was indeed from Sam.

“Dear Daniel,

I can't believe I'm sending you this all the way from the PG.  I've only been here a week, but it's a huge change from what I'm used to.  Don't tell the general I just ended a sentence with a preposition.”

Daniel chuckled.  Most everyone, including Jack, did that with prepositions, even if only occasionally.  It was always a humorous point for the Jackson-O'Neills and their friends.

“I was greeted on my arrival by McKay informing me that he was seeing someone else.  He was worried I'd be upset.  The only thing I'm upset about is that I couldn't bring my bike here.  I miss tinkering on it.”

Again, Daniel let out with a tiny laugh.  Sam was always working on her motorcycle.  It was more than maintenance; it was a passion for her and a great source of therapy when times were tough.

“Teal'c said goodbye before I left.  I was still dealing with my doubts and admitted to him that I wasn't sure I should go.  Daniel, there's still so much to be done.  Is that how you felt all those years, like you'd be leaving things unfinished if you left the Program?  I understand that now because it's how I feel, too, but I am excited.  Well, I wasn't so excited when on the first day here, Ronon tried to intimidate me.  Have you seen Ronon Dex?  You think Teal'c has some guns?  You need to see Ronon.  You'd be proud of me.  I didn't flinch.”

With a smile, Daniel raised his right hand to scratch his chin for a moment. He'd heard about Ronon from Major Lorne. Ronon was a large man, about six-feet, four-inches tall, and very muscular. Lorne told Daniel that Ronon could be frightening, not just because of his well-built body, but also due to his hair, long and thick dreadlocks that couldn't be missed.

“His hair could be a weapon,” Lorne had mused when talking with the archaeologist about Ronon.

Like Teal'c, Ronon was forced to do the bidding of another alien species, the Wraith. While his planet was destroyed and most killed, Ronon was implanted with a tracking device and allowed to roam the galaxy as a runner for the Wraith until the Tau'ri were able to remove the device. Ronon decided to stay at Atlantis and work with his new friends.

“I know Teal'c is tough, Daniel, but my money is on Ronon, if they ever meet up,” Lorne had said, only half teasing.

Daniel wondered who would win a fight or wrestling match between Teal'c and Ronon. He mused that such a match would be exhausting for both men. At any rate, from Lorne's description, Daniel easily imagined Ronon towering over Sam and trying to stare her down.

“I keep remembering what my friends said to me before I left.  Teal'c told me a saying his father had: 'Draw from your past, but do not let your past draw from you.'  Sound advice.  Right away, Colonel Sheppard wanted to search for Doctor Weir.  I hope she's alive, but I can't authorize a rescue mission without something solid to go on.  Daniel, am I being a hypocrite?  How many times did we go back for the person left behind?  How many times did we break the rules because it was the right thing to do, in our minds?  If General Hammond wasn't bald already, I think we would have made his hair.  Is this what being the man is about?  I thought the general, your general, was overly concerned with that when he was promoted.  Now, my eyes are opened.  You can't study for this.  I'm not sure it's something you can even prepare for.  I think it's something you have to experience and pray that the decisions made are the right ones.”

Daniel nodded.  He sensed the hardship his friend was going through.  It was growing pains, as the follower became the leader.  Jack never liked being the man.  He did it, for a while, and very well, but when he had an out, he took it and was happier for it.

~You can do this, Sam.  Don't bail out.~

“You and the general might be interested in this.  Do you recall the Unity crystal?  I think we found its evil twin.  I can't say much, but Colonel Sheppard touched one and everyone started having nightmares.  It was pretty scary for those affected, but we figured it out.  We lost someone, Daniel.  Kate Heightmeyer died.  I've lost teammates and we've all lost friends and colleagues in the Program, but this was the first time under my watch.  Help me out here.  You're not around to remind me it's okay to not be military all the time.  I guess I do have to be military all the time now.  I'm the man.”

Now, Daniel was frowning, feeling Sam's pain from her first loss of personnel under her command.  He knew the psychologist wouldn't be the only loss, not while Atlantis was still at war with the Wraith and the Replicators and, apparently, facing danger during the simple process of exploration.

“The good news is that these are great people.  They've welcomed me.  Even McKay's gotten over his disappointment at the IOA's decision.  I miss all of you.  Give my love to everyone and tell Noa I have all the pictures with me and I'm looking at them every day like I promised.  Oh, it feels great not to wear BDUs every day which reminds me of another benefit of being the man.  I don't have to order myself to get a haircut.  I'm loving my ponytail look.  Do you believe that?”

The archaeologist smiled as he finished the letter from his friend.  He was happy for her and believed the experience as the commander of Atlantis would be a positive one.  However, there was one thing he knew she needed.

Rising from the sofa, Daniel called out, “Jack!  Jack!”

“Something wrong?” the general queried as he met his lover at the top of the stairs while holding Aislinn in his arms.

“Hi, Sweetie,” Daniel greeted the youngest Munchkin.

“Daniel!”

“No, there's nothing wrong, but we need your star power.”

“I'm certain you don't mean my singing ability.”

“I love your singing, but I was thinking more of those stars on the uniform.”

“Why?”

Daniel smiled as his eyebrows went up and down.

“Danny, what's going on?”

“Well, first we have to break in to Sam's garage ...”

Jack listened with admiring ears and soon went about making Daniel's idea a reality.

====

“Colonel Carter, it's the SGC,” a technician called out about an incoming wormhole.

Sam quickly left her office, went to the control room, and asked, “Is there a message?”

“Incoming traveler,” the technician responded.

“Open it,” Sam ordered and watched as the kawoosh of the Stargate thundered.  She, and others watching, were amazed at what they saw appear through the Gate.  “That's my bike!” Sam exclaimed, looking around the room and shrugging at the odd looks sent her way.  Ignoring the stares, she hurried down to the gate room where the motorcycle was, having been transported from one galaxy to another via a rolling platform on which it was secured.  As she touched the bike with a huge grin on her face, she noticed the note on the seat.  “Daniel,” she stated softly while picking up the envelope and opening it.

“For tinkering, de-stressing, and remembering,” the note read.

“You own a bike, Colonel?” Sheppard asked.

“It's my baby,” Sam responded proudly.  “Um, I need a place.”

As Sam sought out a suitable home for her motorcycle where she could tinker to her heart's content, her face was bright.  She was thankful for this new opportunity in Atlantis, one that would add nicely to her military jacket.  That's the one thing she still knew for sure, that the military was her life.  As hard as it was to leave SG-1 behind her, she still had years to expand her place within the Air Force.

At the same time, Sam remembered her friends, family really, and was glad to have them in her life.  Who else would think to send her what she needed most, her motorcycle.  She knew it was Daniel's idea and was positive Jack must have used his general power to get her motorcycle to Atlantis.  She never even questioned how they got it.  After all, they were SG-1.

====

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jack and Daniel were spending time with their brood when Chenoa unexpectedly asked, “Aunt Sam 'member us?”

“It's only been a week, Noa,” Jennifer replied.

“She sent a note today,” Daniel told the children who were unaware of the letter.  “She sends her love and she especially wanted you to know that she has all the pictures and she looks at them every day just like she promised.”

“Home soon?” Chenoa questioned.

“Not for a while, Princess.  She has a big job to do in Antarctica.”

Chenoa wasn't happy about the answer, but she was happy to know her aunt hadn't forgotten her.

“She sent you something,” Daniel told the little girl.  He pulled out the item and handed it to Chenoa.  “Aunt Sam wants to make sure you don't forget her, either.”

“Never,” Chenoa responded as she took hold of the picture of Sam in her new office.  “She pretty.”

“We need a frame,” Jennifer pointed out.

“I'll bet we have one around here,” Jack replied.

“Send Aunt Sam new picture?” Chenoa requested.

“I think we can do that,” Jack answered.

“Goodie,” Chenoa spoke gaily.  “She no forget me.”

Jack and Daniel weren't certain why Chenoa was so concerned with Sam forgetting her, but this was something simple they could do for their daughter.  Later that night, they talked about it for a couple of minutes.

“Noa was so excited to get that picture of Sam,” Daniel noted.

“This could be the start of something big.”

“Big?” Daniel questioned, clueless to his husband's meaning.

“The remembrance photo exchange,” Jack quipped.  “Every week a new picture.”

“You're laughing, Babe, but if you were Sam and you received a photo of Noa, arms opened wide, signed with 'Miss you this much', what would you do?”

“Send another picture.”

“Exactly, so you're joking, but you could be right.”  Daniel noticed a change in his lover's expression.  “What?”

“Ah. nuttin',” Jack responded a bit playfully.

“You're proud of her.”

“I'm proud of all our kids.”

“I wasn't talking about our children,” Daniel claimed with a pointed look.

“Yeah, okay.  Carter's always been a little insecure about command, but even with her doubts, she's already running the show there.  She's said 'no' and she's taking the lead.”

“Jack, what do you know that I don't, and *why* do you know it and I don't?”

“I dropped by the Mountain this morning.”

“You were checking up on her.”

“I wanted to see how she was doing.”  Jack cocked his head slightly as if to say, “Shoot me,” and then he added, “Landry told me what went on since Carter took over.  She had a couple of tough calls, Danny.”

“But she made the right calls, right?”

“Yeah.  I would have handled things the same way.”

“And you're proud of her.”

“Sure.  Look, I didn't train her ...”

“Yes, you did.  Jack, she had combat experience.  She could, can, fly and shoot down the bad guys, but what she's taken with her in command skills, she learned from you.”

“Yeah, how to get in trouble every other mission,” Jack teased.

“How to make the tough decision, even when it's a costly one, and when to walk away, which isn't too often.  Sam's a courageous woman and you've helped her to be a courageous leader.  When you led SGC, you said 'no' to us, and that wasn't easy.”

“You never listened to me.”

“We tried; we really did,” Daniel responded as he scrunched his nose a little.  “I'm sorry, Babe.  I've never been good with orders.”

“Don't I know it!”

“If it helps, I'll follow your orders now,” Daniel offered with a sultry tone.

“You will?”

“Every one.”

Jack looked at his watch.  He figured they might get lucky and have another full hour before one of the twins began singing out at full blast.

“Daniel, examination time.”

To Daniel's delight, Jack gave him lots of orders, and he was happy to obey every one.  It was the perfect way to end the day, a day like most any day, full of love and joy for the parents and their eight children plus beagles and fish.  They all missed Sam, but were happy for her career advancement and opportunity to explore Atlantis and the Pegasus Galaxy.  They weren't sure how long she'd be gone or if she'd be able to join them on their Egyptian adventure, but she remained in their thoughts with wishes for all good things to come her way as good things continued to bless their lives in Colorado Springs.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

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