Title: There Is Life Out There
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG.
Notes: For Eileen in the summersfling ficathon over at LJ, who wanted Scott/Jean, respected!Scott, and happiness. More of the two.

Summary: It takes Scott a long time to realize that his life isn't all some fantastic dream.

---

It takes Scott a long time to realize that his life isn't all some fantastic dream.

It kind of hit him on an odd Tuesday while he was finishing clearing up and washing the breakfast dishes. It hadn't been an exceptional morning. He'd gotten up early for a run, leaving Jean crashed out and snoring softly (not that she'd ever admit to something as normal as snoring) in bed. The sun hadn't been overly cheerful or indicative, but the run had been pleasant. He'd waved at Sam who'd been double-timing it in the other direction and ended up jogging in place while going over a few questions the young man'd had. It had been a good conversation, and he'd jogged away from it pleased.

He'd even made it back home before Jean had drained their rather small hot water heater. As much as he enjoyed the privacy that the boathouse ensured them, there were times he missed the industrial water heaters back up at the Mansion. Those times were usually in the mornings, when Jean beat him to the shower. His wife, while amazing and creative and gorgeous, had never met a short shower outside of a crisis situation.

Clean and slightly damp, he'd padded into the kitchen and started breakfast. It was Tuesday, so both he and Jean had some time. His first training session was at eleven thirty, and her only real appointment had been a vague promise to stop in at the local food bank for some volunteer hours.

He'd been happily chopping fruit and waiting for the timer to go off on his Dutch pancake when Jean had stumbled into the kitchen, rumpled from sleep and rubbing at her eyes.

"Hey, hon," she'd murmured before shuffling her bunny-slipper clad feet over to the refrigerator and fishing out the juice. Moving back through the kitchen, she'd kissed him hello before stealing behind him for a glass out of the cupboard and a few slices of the strawberry he'd just finished with.

She'd tasted of morning breath and herself, and it had been just as every other quiet morning of their marriage, barring location and minor details like running water.

"Any reason that you decided to cook?" She'd raised an eyebrow and gestured at the lit oven and various fruits and yogurt containers spread out on the island. "Or just feeling adventurous?"

He'd smirked and kissed her again. "No reason. Just felt like it."

She'd nodded, stealing a grape from one of the bowls before wandering out to grab the paper. He'd finished slicing the fruit just as the timer dinged and after a few busy minutes of setting food aside and putting out dishes and condiments, Jean'd had her head buried in the Metro section of the Times, while he'd been working his way through the crossword.

The lack of conversation hadn't bothered him in the least. He and Jean had never been all that chatty over meals, outside of the group gathering. They'd finished their food in relative silence, save for the occasional "Pass the melon" or "Napkin, please". He'd cleared and scraped the dishes before she'd finished with the classifieds, so it hadn't been a surprise when, after he'd finished the flatware and glasses, she'd padded over for a quick word. They'd always done most of their catching up during cleanup time.

Jean'd wrapped her arms around him from behind and given him a soft kiss at the base of his skull before snuggling into him aggressively. "Good food, hon. Remind me to make you cook the next time everyone descends, demanding pancakes and bacon."

He'd grinned and rubbed her forearm with his own, trying not to get her soapy. "If it gets me out of having to haul Hank out of our tub again, sold."

He'd felt her snort and giggle. "Fine. But you're still the one who has to go to Home Depot to get the new shower rail."

"You really need to get over your fear of Home Depot."

She'd pinched him, quick and hard. "I am not afraid of Home Depot."

"But?"

"But, good god, all those boxes stacked over your head on pallets and..!" She'd squeaked and swatted him, hard, as he'd flicked bubbles in her direction. "Mean!"

"You're a telekinetic." He'd run the scrub brush over the last of the plates and gave it a good rinse before setting it in the drainer. "It's not like you're helpless in the face of falling pallets full of power tools."

"I don't mock your fear of lemons."

"Okay, that's a huge lie because you always mock my fear of lemons."

He'd glowered at her as she'd moved up next to him and hauled herself up onto the counter, flopping her feet and wagging her bunny slippers randomly. She'd just grinned and patted down his cowlick a few times before giving up. "Well, they're just lemons, Scott. It's not like they'll kill you."

"We could be attacked by killer lemons. Stranger things have happened."

She'd laughed then. Thrown her head back and given him one of her true, loud laughs. The laughs that'd always made his heart clench and thud before it let itself continue in its natural rhythm. For some reason, he'd looked up in that moment and realized that this was it. This was reality. This was his happy ever after in brilliant technicolor. And even if it didn't last, it was okay.

Because there was this moment.

Carefully, he'd set the last pan in the sink to soak, and moved over and between his wife's knees. He'd reached up and framed her face between his hands and just stared at her. Had taken in all of her delicate features and the beginnings of laugh lines around her eyes.

"This is real," he'd whispered, awe tingeing every word. A smile like the sun through a bank of clouds had broken across Jean's face, and then she'd kissed him, long and deep. Because she'd never had to ask what he was talking about. She'd always known.

Somewhere in the middle, he'd started to laugh, deep and true, and then the sparkle and fire of Jean was in his mind as well as his arms, laughing with him. Happy.

And they'd kept laughing as he tossed her over a shoulder and had gone back to bed. They'd had a few hours before they had to be anywhere. In the end, it hadn't been nearly enough.

-fin-