Spoilers for Outcast and Quarantine, and I guess series four in general… but mostly Outcast and Quarantine.
Well, this is a random conversation that came to me yesterday – let me know what you think! Sorry about the crappy title… I couldn't think of anything better!
Amanda pressed the standby button on her remote control and stretched out on the sofa, sighing. It was the quiet moments like these that had to be cherished, because they were so few and far between. She closed her eyes and just listened to the quiet – all she could hear was the distant rumble of the dryer in the basement, and the soft snores of her son, asleep down the hall.
Amanda groaned and sat up. Of course the phone would ring. Phones were invented for that very reason – to interrupt quiet moments. She stood up and walked over to the small table in the corner, upon which stood the ringing phone.
She looked at the clock over the table as she picked up the receiver – it was almost ten thirty. Who would be calling at this time?
"Hello?" She answered.
"Amanda?" Replied a man's voice. "Hey, it's John. John Sheppard."
Amanda almost dropped the phone. "Oh my god."
"Well, not quite…" He said cheekily. She could practically hear his smirk.
"John? I – I haven't heard from you in… like five years!" She exclaimed, still shocked beyond belief. John had joined the airforce straight out of college, and he'd kept in pretty regular contact with her and her husband, Karl. He tried to see them whenever he was back in America. But then he'd been transferred to Antarctica just under six years ago and they hadn't seen him since. And they hadn't even heard anything from him in five.
Amanda was just so relieved that he was alive. She and Karl had worked under the assumption that no news was good news, but still – you did wonder.
"I know," said John now. "I'm sorry, I've been… well…"
"Doing something so highly classified that if you told me, you'd have to kill me?" Amanda quipped, remembering how cagey he used to be about his assignments.
"Got it in one," replied John. "How are you? And Karl? And the kids?"
"We're all good. All of us," said Amanda warmly. "Susie's just started Junior High, Tom's obsessed with little league, and Hailey's going to be a filmstar when she grows up."
John chuckled. "She doesn't wanna be a pilot anymore?"
Amanda laughed, remembering how the last time John had visited them little Hailey, all of three, had decided then and there that she was going to be a pilot. "I'm sure if you come visit she'd change her mind back in about thirty seconds," she said.
"I wish I could, but I'm only around for a couple of days – I'm heading back tonight," said John.
Amanda could have hit her head against the wall for forgetting… and now she felt like an idiot, jabbering on. "I heard about your dad – I'm sorry," she said seriously, without any further preamble.
John cleared his throat a little. "Yeah, thanks," he said quietly.
Amanda knew that John and his dad hadn't had the best relationship – at college it had been rocky just because John had gone to Stamford and not Harvard, so when he'd joined up they'd had a huge falling out. John had always shrugged it off, but she had always suspected it hurt him more than he let on.
"Did you see him before…?" She started, unsure of how or even if she should breach the topic.
"No," said John shortly.
Amanda bit her lip. "I'm sorry," she said.
"It's okay," said John, sounding quiet.
Okay… change the subject…"So where are you heading back to? McMurdo?"
"No, I haven't been stationed there for years," said John, his voice back to a normal volume.
"I figured – when you were at McMurdo we heard from you every now and then," Amanda said, unable to stop the slightly accusatory edge to her voice.
"I really am sorry," said John seriously. "I know I've been even worse than usual."
Amanda shrugged, even though he couldn't see it. "It doesn't matter, it's just so nice to hear from you now!" She said warmly.
"Yeah, well I… I was thinking about you a few weeks ago," said John.
"Yeah…" Said John. He paused for a moment before continuing. "A friend of mine is pregnant, and the father is… he's gone. Anyway, she was worried about coming back to work – she's a civilian but she works with me and she still has to do some dangerous stuff, and she's worried about it. I mean, she's off active duty now, but we were talking about her coming back after the kid is born and she's kinda unsure about whether she should, so I told her about you."
"Really?" Said Amanda. Now this… this was strange. She thought she knew what John was talking about. Amanda had joined the police force just after Freddie was born, and she well remembered the look on John's face when she'd told him. He had thought she was nuts.
John cleared his throat again. "Yeah – I just told her that you have three kids and you still go out there every day…"
Amanda couldn't help herself. "Something you told me was totally insane," she said. She wasn't angry – she hadn't even been angry at the time. And after saying that once, John had never mentioned his thoughts on her career choice ever again.
There was a moment of silence before John answered. "Yeah… yeah I did," he said. Amanda heard him sigh, and imagined how he would look, if he were standing in front of her. John had always hated talking about anything too personal, and got uncomfortable when conversations turned too serious. He would smirk at her and change the subject.
"I guess…" John began. "I guess I'm calling to say that I get it. I get why you – I get the whole wanting to protect your family. And I'm sorry I ever doubted you."
Amanda's jaw dropped, and she stared at the framed picture of her parents on the wall in front of her, not knowing how to respond.
"Wow," she said eventually. She grinned. "A moment of emotional honesty from Major John Sheppard?"
John chuckled, and Amanda was glad the seriousness had dropped away. "Don't get used to it," he said. "And it's Lieutenant Colonel, thanks very much."
Amanda laughed. "No freaking way!" She exclaimed. "Why?!"
"Hey!" Said John indignantly. He started to laugh along with her, and for a moment it felt like they were back in college again, making fun of their lecturers. Amanda shook her head, grinning. It had been so long ago.
"Listen… I've gotta go," said John regretfully.
"Right," said Amanda. "Don't be a stranger."
"I'll keep in touch this time, I promise," said John seriously.
"Make sure you do," said Amanda. "Seriously John – it's like you fall of the face of the planet!"
John snorted. "Kind of is, yeah," he said.
Amanda grinned. "Well, next time you're on Earth, come over," she said. "The kids would love to see you. Karl probably wouldn't mind either."
John laughed now. "I will, I definitely will," he said. "Tell him I said hey. Take care Amanda."
"You too, John," she replied.
The line went dead. Amanda replaced the receiver slowly, hardly able to believe that that conversation had just happened. Not only had John been the last person she'd expected to talk to tonight, but what he'd said had been so… well, surprising.
John had been so shocked when she'd told him she was training as a police officer – something she understood, since she'd never mentioned that she'd even been considering it. And before she'd been a part-time translator, spending all her free time with her children. She was devoted to them – and it was part of the reason she did what she did. Karl had understood from the very beginning. John had told her she was insane.
Amanda hadn't minded – she really hadn't. John had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, but he didn't have a family to protect. He didn't understand the drive she had to protect her children. He had supported her though – after his initial reaction he had shut up and given her a couple of pointers on how to disarm an armed suspect. Luckily she'd only had to use his tips once. Successfully, she might add.
Amanda wandered out of the lounge and down the hall towards her children's bedrooms. Freddie's door was slightly ajar, and his snores got louder as she got closer. She smiled to herself – he was just like his dad. Susie and Hailey's door was tight shut against their noisy brother.
Amanda smiled again and shook her head. She hadn't thought about why she'd joined the force in a long time – recently the job had kind of just become that: the job. It was nice to be reminded why she did it.
She heard the front door open and walked around the corner, away from the bedrooms. Karl was taking off his coat, and smiled when he saw her. "Hey sweetie," he said.
Amanda grinned and leant her shoulder against the wall. "Hey there," she said. "You will never guess who just called…"