SNOWBOUND: ADVENTURES IN PARENTING
Summary: Three teenagers, a sensitive nine-year-old artist and a major winter storm. Jack and Sam have weathered the onslaught of alien invaders, but are they ready for this?
A/N: Can be read as a stand-alone (just think married Jack and Sam with their four snow-bound children) or as part of Alone series (the first sequel).
Eight feet of snow! In a period of forty-eight hours, Colorado Springs, no stranger to winter storms, had been buried under a virtual avalanche of the cold white fluff. Schools were closed, places of business were shut down, shopping malls looked like ghost towns and even the top secret Cheyenne Mountain facility was running with essential personnel only.
On the bright side, everything on the intergalactic scene had been calm recently. Here in the year 2020, Goa'uld, Replicators and Ori had been brought to heel and allied forces had won the day. The heftiest parts of the O'Neills' current military assignments were research and peaceful exploration. Fully four years after Jack and Sam's last joint mission, family was truly their top priority and they were no longer risking their lives on a regular basis.
And so, at 0600 Monday morning in the O'Neill household, alarms went off as usual, alerting the family of deadlines for work and school. Only today, there would be neither. Weather and highway reports made it clear that save for an intervention by the Asgard, no one would be leaving home today.
"Hey, Mom," Jake hollered from the den. "I can't find my sneaks. I'm due at Rick's by seven. I'm gonna need some help here," he announced as though it were an intergalactic emergency.
"I don't think we're going anywhere today, Jake. Take a look outside," Sam said, shaking her head as she took in the full extent of the storm's fury in their little neck of the woods. First floor windows were just about covered. It was going to take some doing to get out the front door, let alone make it to the end of the driveway.
"Oh, crap," Sam heard her eldest exclaim as he got a good look at the piles of snow. "We've got physics projects due today and practice this afternoon," he complained. "I'm gonna get Dad, we'll dig out. You'll help too, right, Mom?"
Sam smiled to herself as her enthusiastic, seventeen-year-old son ran toward the master bedroom and proceeded to bang none too gently on the door, hoping to rouse his father. He was so going to be sorry! And disappointed! There was no way the most enthusiastic snow removal team was getting them very far today.
"For crying out loud!" the anticipated explosion sounded from the bedroom. "I'm trying to sleep here! What are you, four-years-old?"
Sam rolled her eyes, joining the other kids who'd found their way into the hall, summoned by their father's indignant shout.
"Sorry," Jake called through the still closed bedroom door. "But Dad, I'm gonna be late. It's gonna take awhile to dig out. Come on!"
"I'll help, Jake," Jon, his thirteen-year-old brother volunteered, emerging fully dressed from his room. "But there's no school today, bro! Everything's closed."
Sam watched her eldest son's face fall at the news. This was, after all, a big day for him.
"Can't be. Too much happening today!" Jake protested. "You sure, Jon?"
"Yep, I'm sure alright!" the younger boy replied. "No school," he repeated, clearly less than disappointed.
"So are you helping or not, Jon?" Jake asked, getting a bad feeling about their chances for success, but determined to give it his best shot.
"Sure, Jake," he said, "but remember, no funny stuff."
Jake rolled his eyes in an expression strangely reminiscent of his mother's, knowing his little brother was referring to the temptation to use his telekinetic ability. Didn't the little guy know anything?
"Jon, don't be ridiculous," he berated him. "I'd never do that no matter how much I wanted something." The twins' telekinetic abilities had faded with age. In any case, they'd long ago agreed with their parents that short of truly life threatening situations, those abilities would never be used.
"Okay you two, tone it down a bit!" Jack commanded as he stumbled out of the bedroom, awakened at a pitch he did not appreciate. "If you guys are gonna start digging out, get to it. I'll be out and start the blower, soon as I get some coffee."
"While you're at it, let Grace know she's needed too," Sam added. "I'll be out with Beth as soon as I get the coffee on for your dad," she said, reaching over to kiss her grouchy, sleepy husband. Jack sighed and gathered Sam close to his side as he watched his two boys barrel into the storm, literally plowing their way out the front door.
"Close the door…" Sam called after them, "and don't forget your hats!"
Now it was Jack's turn to smile and chuckle as quietly as he could. She would mother them until they were old and gray; he wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's better," Jack suggested as the noise level dropped precipitously with the departure of the boys. "Don't look now," he whispered in Sam's ear, "think I spoke too soon."
Sure enough, the couple turned to see their seventeen-year-old daughter, Grace, emerging from the upstairs bathroom, her long blond hair neatly tied back and a gentle sheen of makeup already tastefully applied.
"What's all the noise, Dad," she asked. "There's no school today and all the roads are closed. So what's the big hurry?"
"See," Jack answered grinning and smiling towards his oldest daughter, "at least one of our children understands how I think! What's the big rush, anyway?"
"No rush at all it seems," Sam answered, now from the kitchen, where she'd gone to start coffee and call into the SGC. "Seems the landlines are down, heavy snow they say. I barely got through to the SGC on my cell. They're running a skeleton crew, keeping the airmen already on duty at their posts, Jack. Seems they're not expecting either of us to make it in today," she said, sounding almost disappointed. Something about the fact they were no longer considered absolutely essential personnel didn't sit right for her or her husband these days.
"Sounds like we may all be stuck home together," Jack said, stretching and taking a long, hard look out the back windows. "It's not good out there, Mrs. O'Neill."
With that the recently freed front door swung open, caught by a gust of frigid air, admitting two slightly frozen teen-aged boys, covered head to foot in snow.
"Hey, that's enough for now," Jake called, never one to give up easily. "It's really bad. The drifts are over my head!" the lanky six foot tall basketball point guard announced. "We're gonna need more than the shovels and a blower, Dad."
"Probably right, Jake," Jack said, wondering if the plow he'd recently mounted on the truck would be up to the task. "Hey, dry off you two. We'll get some breakfast and figure out what to do."
"Where's Beth?" Sam asked, finally thinking of her quiet youngest who'd managed to avoid the early morning hubbub.
"She couldn't have slept through the boys screaming through the house," Grace proclaimed, giving her twin a meaningful, accusatory look.
"I'll get her," Jake volunteered.
Seconds later, the one who'd woken the whole house in the first place, knocked and slowly opened his little sister's door. He was right. She wasn't sleeping. Instead, the petite nine-year-old sat peacefully in front of her window, paint brush in hand, starting to capture the beauty of winter's latest fury on canvass. Hating to disturb this sight of perfect peace and harmony, he stood silently and watched her work.
It was hard for either parent to remember the last time the whole family had spent more than an hour at a time together. These days, each of their four children had hectic school and social schedules; they were out of the house much more than they were at home. Gone were the days of regular family outings and talking about everything that happened at school and with their friends. In fact, those days were long gone. Jack, for one, wondered when things had changed so drastically.
In any case, today would be different. For that matter from the report they'd heard during breakfast, the next few days might be different. For the time being the O'Neills and most of Colorado Springs were snowbound, held hostage to a state of emergency these two members of the military knew would be taken very seriously by local law enforcement.
"Well, Jack," Sam said gently as all four children were preparing to brave the elements for one more snow clearing attempt, "it looks like today will be the perfect opportunity to have that talk with Jake."
"Suppose so," he said, huffing a huge breath. "So not looking forward to this. He's a good kid, Sam, what are we supposed to do with this?" he asked rhetorically, holding up the roach he'd found the other night when he'd moved Jake's car for plowing.
Sam regarded her husband lovingly, as she pulled Grace's down parka out of the closet, deciding it was the warmest thing she could wear for the snow removal adventure. She'd bought the warm coat for Grace earlier this year, but apparently her daughter thought it was cooler to freeze than bundle up like her mother.
"We talk to him about it, right?" she suggested. "It's not like we haven't had the talk about drugs before, you know."
"Yeah, but not when we thought he was actually using," Jack said, knowing this would be different from all the generic warnings of the past. "What?" he asked, seeing Sam's nose wrinkle up with confusion as she pulled something out of the pocket of Grace's coat.
"If it makes you feel any better, I'll be having a talk with our daughter about this," she said, gingerly holding up a neatly wrapped item she knew would shake her husband's world.
"That's not. Tell me, that's not," Jack said, his eyes pleading.
"Yep, it is. Rough Rider brand to be exact," Sam announced, watching the color drain from Jack's face.
A/N: Okay, the past few weeks, we've had lots of snow where I am, so this story just came naturally. Plus, since it was school vacation week, most of my mental health/chemical dependency intake interviews at work were with adolescents. So, voila: the first of two sequels to Alone.
At the end of any week spent largely with adolescents at work, I'm left with an overwhelming sense of awe about any parents who successfully help their children negotiate those years. So this is my take on how Jack and Sam might deal with some of the normal challenges of parenting teens.
No more than 3-4 chapters.
Hope you review and let me know what you think! Thanks.