They followed behind Ruby as she kept up a running commentary about anything and everything. After a story about old Bob's ingrown toenail, Sam tuned her out and glanced around the neighborhood. The yards were all immaculate as they passed them on the sidewalk, with perfectly green grass and shrubs that were trimmed and shaped; she grimaced at the thought of how far their yard still had to go to catch up to these.
Sam removed her hand from Jack's grasp and wiped the sweat from her face with her arm. It was sweltering; she wasn't used to humidity and she found that she absolutely hated it. She glanced at Jack and saw beads of sweat forming at his temple and was glad she wasn't the only one; she didn't reach out to take his hand again, and he didn't either.
They passed by Mavis' house and Sam interrupted Ruby's story about her husband's bout with the flu. "Uh..Ruby, is the BBQ not at Mavis' house?"
Ruby stopped and turned around with a smile. "There were so many people who wanted to meet you that we decided to hold it at the Lutheran church. They have a huge grassy area with lots of shade, so we figured that was the perfect spot. Oh, and Eric? They want you to help with the grills, is that ok?"
Jack grinned and nodded. "There's nothing else I'd rather do, Ruby." Ruby smiled back and blushed; she was taken with Jack and it was adorable. Sam rolled her eyes internally as Ruby turned and continued walking; she knew Jack's skill on the grill and started trying to think of a way to tell people about the possibility of a little crispiness to their hamburgers and hotdogs.
As if Jack could hear what she was thinking, he narrowed his eyebrows at her. "What?"
Sam hid a smile behind her hand and looked at him innocently. "Nothing. Nothing at all, Si—Eric."
Choosing to ignore her almost slip, Jack looked at her for a few more seconds then shook his head and sighed. "I'll have you know that I'm an excellent griller. Just ask anyone I've ever grilled for."
She bit back a laugh and looked at him. "I have experienced your "expertise" and I-"
Sam was cut off by a man's voice yelling from behind them. "Ruby! Ruby, wait up!"
They all stopped and turned to see an old man moving slowly towards them with a walker. It was going to take forever for him to reach them. Ruby rolled her eyes and said to them, "That's my husband. He said he wasn't feeling up to going, but it looks as if he's changed his mind. The church is just on the next block over, so why don't you two go on ahead and we'll catch up."
Sam silently thanked the Lord. "Are you sure?"
Ruby nodded as she passed them. "I'm sure, honey. See you soon!"
They both waved and watched Ruby approach her husband. Jack placed a hand on her lower back lightly and began to lead them away from the older couple. "I'm so glad she's not making us wait," he murmured out of the corner of his mouth. "It would be over before we got there."
Sam nodded her head and gave him a small smile. "That's for sure."
They walked the rest of the way in comfortable silence. He didn't remove his hand from her back, but he didn't move it to wrap around her waist or shoulders either. She was beginning to feel a hand shaped sweat spot on her shirt, but she didn't want to say anything to cause him to move it. It was almost as if he was claiming her as his own, and while as a strong woman she didn't particularly care for that, she found that she didn't mind it so much with Jack. He knew how independent she was and accepted that. She wouldn't have ever allowed it with Pete. Again, there wasn't a pang of sadness when Pete entered her thoughts.
The arrived at the BBQ ten minutes later. They were greeted enthusiastically by many people; Sam noticed that not one of them was under the age of sixty, and there had to be at least 100 people milling about on the green grass. The men led Jack away before he could tell her he was leaving, and Sam watched him go with apprehension. She was being left alone to deal with the onslaught of questions that were sure to come her way. It wasn't Jack's fault, but it still worried her.
They led her to an area were lawn chairs were sitting unoccupied and told her to take a seat. She sat in an ugly green and brown striped chair and prepared herself for the questions to come. About thirty women gathered all around her and smiled. Sam gave them a shy smile, reminiscent of the one she gave the camera when she had been interviewed about the SGC, and introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Audrey."
Most of the women continued to smile politely, but didn't say anything more. "Um..we just moved over by Ruby." Sam shifted in her seat and crossed her legs; they obviously weren't going to make this easy for her.
One older woman with short, poofy hair as white as snow smiled and said, "We're glad you're here. We haven't had a move-in for years." Great. Just great. They were going to be observed closely.
Sam nodded. "Well, we're glad to be here. Ruby's been really helpful."
There were a couple of snorts and another woman spoke up, "Ruby is nosy, and is the neighborhood busy-body." She said it in a teasing matter, and Sam joined in with the laughter.
Sam looked over to where the men were grilling fifty yards away and sent internal daggers at Jack for leaving her to do this. They must not have reached him, because he didn't look her way. Damn.
A woman next to her with many wrinkles and with hair that was dyed brown patted her arm and said in a raspy voice, "So how long have you been married to that hunk?"
Sam bit her lip to stop herself from laughing as she heard other women agreeing with the sentiment. "We've been married for about five years."
And so it went for the next fifteen minutes; she was grilled about everything. There was no holding back. Of course they worded the questions so it didn't sound like an interrogation, but it still felt that way to Sam. She was rescued from answering a particularly embarrassing question about their sex life by Ruby's arrival. Sam stood up quickly and said loudly, "Ruby, so glad you finally made it!"
Ruby sat down in a sweaty mess in a chair to the side and sighed loudly. "I was beginning to wonder if we ever would."
Sam sat back down in her chair reluctantly and braced herself for more questions, but before someone else could ask one, the men approached them carrying plates of food. Jack walked behind her and handed her a plate with a hamburger and some chips, then said quietly so no one could hear, "I wasn't sure what you liked on your hamburger, so I guessed. If you don't like it then I can eat it and you can get your own."
Sam craned her neck to look up at him and smiled. "This is perfect. Thanks."
Jack nodded, then said as he walked away, "I'm going to go make my own. I'll be back." She watched him retreat and had to remind herself not to stare. She pulled her eyes away from Jack's ass and looked around at the group. Everyone was eating and had their mouths full; which was a good thing for Sam because she was tired of talking about herself.
There was small-talk among the group as they ate, but there weren't any other questions directed at Sam. Jack returned a few minutes later and sat down on the grass in front of her. The women began to ask him questions, which he answered smoothly and efficiently. They all finished minutes later and sat back to let their food digest. Jack took her plate and put it on top of his, then set it in front of him on the grass. He didn't touch her or lean into her legs, and Sam worried about him being too distant from her in front of others.
She had just let her guard down when the oldest woman in the group spoke up in a voice so quiet that Sam had a hard time hearing. "Are you two really married?"
Shit. If a ninety-five year old woman could tell they weren't, then they were in trouble. Jack cleared his throat and fake laughed. "Of course we are. Why would you ask that?"
The old woman sat forward a little and narrowed her white eyebrows. "Because you don't ever touch, and you seem shy around each other." Sam didn't think she had been acting shy, but she obviously was. She glanced around the group and saw a few women nod in agreement. They had to do something quickly.
Sam reached forward and ran her hand over Jack's soft hair. "We're just not big on public displays of affection. I promise you that's all it is." Her hand stopped at the nape of his neck, and she left it there and played with the short hairs there with her fingernails. She felt him shudder involuntarily.
Ruby stood up and motioned to Sam with her hand. "Audrey, can I talk to you for a minute. In private?"
Sam nodded and stood up, making sure to run her fingers over Jack's hair as she walked away. She followed Ruby to a big tree twenty feet away, then stood and waited expectantly. Ruby didn't disappoint. "I think you should kiss him."
Sam narrowed her eyebrows in confusion. "I kiss him all the time." She flushed at the thought of actually kissing Jack.
"I don't mean a peck, I mean an all-out kiss, maybe with tongue." She was serious. This old woman wanted her to make out with Jack in front of 100 people.
Sam looked at her incredulously. "What purpose would that serve?"
Ruby rolled her eyes and swatted Sam's arm lightly. "It would shut up the old busy-bodies over there that are gossiping about you. Don't you want them to stop?"
Sam sighed. Ruby had a point. "Ok, fine. I don't have a problem with kissing my husband."
Ruby gave her a piercing look, then finally nodded after a few moments. "Don't do it right away, but do it before everyone leaves."
Sam nodded and shrugged. "Fine by me." She sounded confident on the outside, but was a nervous wreck on the inside.
Ruby patted her arm and walked back to the group. Sam took a deep breath and followed her and returned to her seat. Jack hadn't moved from his spot, but looked at her with something akin to concern in his brown eyes after she sat down. She shook her head and gave him a reassuring smile. She could tell he didn't believe her.
They all sat around for the next fifteen or twenty minutes talking about someone who had recently died until someone announced that it was time for dessert. They all stood up to get some pie, and Sam knew this was her opportunity.
She stood up, then reached down and helped Jack up. He groaned as his back cracked, then she watched as he stretched his arms over his head. Before she could second-guess herself, she grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him down to kiss her.
AN: I know this is a little cliffie, but it'll keep you coming back for more right? I'm so sorry that its taken me so long to update. This chapter is dedicated to Major John for asking me very nicely to continue this. I would love to hear what you guys think, thanks for reading! :)