TITLE: Perfect Day
AUTHOR: Matt, March 2004
SUMMARY: Sam's day takes a turn when Jack comes to visit
DISCLAIMER: Gekko, Double Secret, MGM... they make the money and own the characters. I'm just playing.
THANKS: To Ky, Jodi Marie and Allie for the betas.
Normally, if she couldn't be working, Sam knew there was nothing she'd rather do than sit on her front porch and watch the world go by. The comfortable wicker chairs, the table that was stable enough so it didn't rock, and the outdoor power outlet all meant she could work and take in fresh air at the same time – something her team mates and superior officers frequently begged her to do. So now, although she was still typing away at her laptop, she could at least say she was getting out.
The activities in the park across the street frequently drew her attention. Kids played soccer – shouting noisily to one another – and families gathered. Some people walked the paths, while others jogged.
It was a good day to be sitting outside. Even while the roof covered the porch, sunlight still snuck under to warm the area. Summer was beginning to creep in, but it hadn't got to the height of its heat yet. Consequently, the metal casing of Sam's laptop wasn't hot to the touch.
The work she was doing had the potential to develop into something good, but Sam found her heart simply wasn't in it on this day. Something was nagging at her, distracting her mind away from her theories and hypotheses. She'd not be able to settle while it was still on her mind; so with a sigh she clicked save and put the laptop in standby mode.
The downside of that action meant her brain now had all its energy to think about the 'something' – frustrating Sam further. This 'something' was something she shouldn't have known about, but there had always been room at Cheyenne Mountain for gossip. This time, the rumour was that a certain someone was planning to retire. Sam knew that, logically, this rumour had to be false – because surely HE would have told his team first. But then Sam had a distinct feeling she was being kept out of the loop more and more these days. Even certain members of her team were shutting down some of their conversations the moment she stepped into the room. Not all, mind you, just some – enough to make her just a little paranoid.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a familiar looking truck pulled up at her gate, just behind her car. Sam narrowed her eyes at it, wondering what it was doing there. The owner of it had been expected to stay on base all day, even though the team had been given some downtime. She watched as he got out and approached the her gate, smiling slightly as he stopped to grab the mail from her mailbox – trust him to do that; the porch was the furthest she'd been since getting home in the early hours of the morning.
"Bills," he said by way of greeting, "and junk."
"Wonderful," she replied sarcastically. Then she noticed the case in his other hand. "Planning on getting me drunk, Sir?"
"Us, Carter," he replied. "Planning on getting US drunk." He tucked the mail under his arm, thereby freeing a hand to open the front door. Moments later, she could hear sounds emanating from the kitchen. No doubt he was rearranging the contents of her refrigerator to make room for the beer he'd brought with him. Jack O'Neill was one of the few people Sam had ever met who would walk through any house as though it was his own. Plus, it didn't matter if he'd only been in a house once or twice before – he could always remember, without fail, where everything was. At times it could be annoying, but right now it meant she didn't have to move.
He reappeared with two cold bottles in his hands, one of which he passed to her. He took the seat beside hers, unscrewed the cap off his bottle and raised the drink to his lips. Sam did the same, utterly confused.
She wanted to ask him what he was doing at her house, if the rumours were true, why he favoured one brand of beer over another – anything – but it was as though her brain couldn't – or wouldn't – connect her brain to her mouth to form a coherent sentence.
"So," she finally managed.
"So," he repeated.
Both of them stared across at the park, taking occasional sips of their beers. Cars went by, children shouted, tree leaves rustled from the slight breeze that had sprung up.
Finally, Sam could take it no longer and the words came out in a rush. "What are you doing here, Sir?"
He didn't look at her. "I've retired, Carter, you can lose the Sir." He took another gulp of beer.
She stared at him in shock. So, the rumours had been true, had they? Still, she needed to make sure. "You're kidding?"
So why hadn't she known this was coming. "And you didn't think to tell your team before you saw General Hammond?" The last part was a guess, but it was a fairly safe bet that was why he'd been on base during downtime. Normally he was the first to leave.
"I did tell my team," he replied calmly. "In fact, I consulted them pretty thoroughly over it."
That meant either Sam's memory was going, or... She felt her temper beginning to rise and was unable to keep a lid on it. "You didn't consult with me, Colonel," she snapped.
Her beautiful day had just disappeared, not because of his news, but because apparently she wasn't as important a voice as Daniel and Teal'c had evidently been. Thoughts of all she'd done for him and the team ran through her head, only to replaced by the realisation that she simply wasn't ready to be without him.
He turned to face her, but with those sunglasses he insisted on wearing she couldn't see his eyes at all. "I didn't think you'd mind, Sam," he stated simply, before returning his gaze to across the street.
How could he remain so calm, Sam wondered, while she was a complete mess? "Not mind?" she spluttered, deciding to put her beer down on the table before she did something stupid like slam it down, drop it – or worse, throw it at him.
"I'm sick of it, Sam," he said, keeping his face straight ahead. "I'm sick of busting my backside for a cause that's never going to end. There's always been Goa'uld and Jaffa crazy enough to follow them. The goddamn Tok'ra have been around a lot longer than you or I have, and Anubis didn't just come out of nowhere. Earth's just become another planet in the conflict, and ultimately it won't matter whether I'm there on not."
"Of course it matters," she commented softly. It would matter to her. It was also an interesting change in viewpoint. He'd always been the keen fighter, a man of action rather than thought.
"I want a normal life," he continued, as though he'd not heard her. "I feel like several years ago I was given a second chance at life, only it came like a gift I couldn't unwrap." He took another drink from his bottle before it joined hers on the table. "God, what a cliché, but it's true. Seven years ago, a beautiful and intelligent woman walked into the room and showed me what it could be like. I was shown I could do over what I'd screwed up so badly the first time around." He turned away from the park and finally took off the sunglasses. "It's all I want, Sam. A normal life," he said, "with you."
Sam was floored. Even if she'd fantasised about a day such as this, she'd never really expected it to happen. Sure he'd been retired before, but how could any woman have expected this man to retire again for her? It was a lot to comprehend in such a short space of time.
"Hey, don't worry about it, Carter," he said with a half smile. "If you don't want the same, I know there's some fish in a Minnesotan lake I can annoy."
She realised guiltily that she'd not said anything in response to what he'd said, and that therefore he thought it meant she didn't want him. Of course she wanted him, how could she not? How could he possibly think otherwise?
"It'll hardly be a normal life, Jack," she said, finally in a position to say his first name without feeling insubordinate.
"I know," he said with a grimace. "You'll still be out there, and I won't exactly be able to forget about all those Goa'uld out there either. I'll worry every time you go through the 'Gate without me." He picked up his bottle again and shook it, frowning. "Empty," he muttered. "Want another one?"
"You moving in?" she asked with a grin. He was certainly acting as though he lived there.
He smiled back at her. "I could."
"Your place is bigger."
"Is it?" He inclined his head slightly. "I like this place better. Besides, we've got the park. Be handy to take the kids to."
She watched in surprise as he stood up and gathered up the two bottles. This time when he went inside she followed him. "Kids?" she echoed, trailing him down the hallway to the kitchen.
"Sure," he called back cheerfully. "Don't you want two of your own we can annoy your dad with?"
"Like my brother's aren't enough?" she asked.
"You can't beat having your own children, Sam," he replied earnestly, and she knew he was right. Children with Jack – what a concept.
"As long as they don't take after you," she retorted. "You really are serious, aren't you?"
He put the empty bottles on the counter and turned to face her. "Yes, yes I am. Sam, if you don't want this, say so. I won't be hurt - well, yeah, I will, but I'll live. But for God's sake, just tell me the truth."
She laughed lightly at his words and stepped closer to him. "I want this, of course I do. You just caught me off guard, that's all. I feel like I'm two pages behind you on all this."
He smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."
She stepped closer still and enjoyed the feel of his arms slipping around her waist. They'd hugged before, but this was so different. "Don't be," she said softly. "I'm sure I'll catch up."
Then she leaned in to kiss him, and realised that a real kiss from Jack O'Neill was far better than any she'd imagined. That they fit well together was her last coherent thought for a while.
It was after they'd pulled apart and Jack was fishing in the refrigerator for more beer that another thought struck Sam. "So how did General Hammond take your news?"
He straightened up and closed the refrigerator door. "Well, let's see. First he stared like I'd completely lost my mind..."
He continued his narrative while hunting around her kitchen, evidently on the lookout for something to eat. Finally, he discovered a bag of sunflower seeds, a few of which he then proceeded to drop into his mouth in between sentences. Sam could only watch in amazement, marvelling at how he really did belong in her kitchen, in her home and in her life.
"Hey, give me some of those," she said, as she crossed the floor and stood beside him, Her arm crept around his waist and soon she was laughing as he held the seeds up high and dropped them down into her waiting mouth.