They sat on his deck, a glass of white wine each on the little wicker table between them, the matching chairs had slightly reclined backs so they could sit back and relax. The sun was setting, and it was so quiet in his neighbourhood Sam could hear the birds saying good night to each other. At least, that's what she liked to think they were saying to one another, in shrill tweets, chirps and the odd squawk that bounced around the garden from the trees.
He had a large back garden and she could imagine the kids playing. She could smell soil, fresh earth, and when she looked around she saw newly planted pansies in the borders on one edge of his lawn. She wondered who did his gardening because she knew he was on base just as much as she was. More so.
She'd felt nervous when first standing on his doorstep waiting for him to answer. She'd worn a skirt, to try and remove herself from the woman he worked with. The apron had helped though. Bright red and white check material over grey slacks and a white shirt had made her feel so much more comfortable and amused.
She had smiled, accepted some wine and relaxed. Now she wanted to close her eyes, she felt a sense of peace sitting with him in silence. They had talked a lot over dinner. Scallops in sauce and ice cream, talking about old times, new developments, her father, his grandchildren but now they were both happy to sit in silence and watch the sunset. At least, she was.
"How you doing Sam?"
His voice made her jump, and when she looked over at him, he was smiling, a little amusement in his eyes. He was relaxed too, his entire posture had dropped an inch, his shoulders no longer held high and rigid.
"I'm okay Sir."
She wanted a hug though, like when she was younger. When she didn't work for him. She took up her wine, having a quick sip. He didn't believe her, she could tell, but normally he would take her word, whatever it may be.
He was giving her that same look he always did though, when she was half dead in the infirmary, or barely able to walk down the ramp. The look that said, I know you're not okay and I'm here for you.
Or at least Dr McKenzie can be.
"Honest Sir, I'm okay."
Her father was off recuperating with the Tok'ra, she'd been married to Colonel O'Neill in another reality and Daniel was mourning for Sha're, but aside from all that, right now, she felt okay.
She needed to do this more often, spend more time with the General outside of the mountain because so few people made her feel like this. She didn't enjoy much time like this. Not on Earth anyway.
She gave into the feeling and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath of cold air and noting the burnt smell that had joined and mixed with the earth. Beside her, she heard him huff with amusement but she paid it no mind. She wasn't going to sleep, she was just going to relax, enjoy the evening air and the wine.
She woke to twilight, and his round face looking down at her, smiling.
"Time to go Sam."
"General." She mumbled. He huffed out some more laughter and she smiled back, sleepy. She had missed the sunset, the orange and pink that would've stood out nicely against the mountain but she didn't mind. He offered her a hand and she took it, standing up, the blanket he had placed over her falling to the floor. She picked it up quickly and handed it to him, thanking him with a nod.
He cared about her, like one of his own. Loved her like his own.
She felt sad though, because, while she was rebuilding the relationship with her father (and it was going well), she still loved George more. She loved her father, or course, but Hammond, there was something warmer there, something more approachable in his demeanour, that made part of Sam want to cry whenever he was around. Because she could guarantee that his love was unconditional, and she still doubted her father too much to trust him.
"Thanks for dinner Sir." She said, the wine was gone, and he started to lead her back into his house.
At the door, she hesitated, her jacket slung over her arm. She wasn't a child anymore, and this wasn't 'uncle' George (not that she had ever called him that herself). She wanted a hug, those arms wrapped around her and that safety, but then, she already felt it so often she realised, with him standing in control room, watching over her as she walked through the gate.
She kissed him on the cheek, thanked him one last time and walked down to her car.
She'd be back, and maybe she didn't need a hug after all.