Situation Normal: Bad Timing
by Amy L. Hull
A story for notazatarc who wanted fic with Jack whump and happy endings in the s/j everyday secret santa exchange.
Thanks to Partly, Seldear, Abby, and Tricia for the brainstorming chats, betas, suggestions, and support.
"I'm telling you, Carter, this place has the best chili dogs."
Sam smiled with pursed lips, nodding silently.
"You're humoring me."
"Yep. Often. But I'll have a diet soda with mine."
"What about beer?"
"Well, if this weren't so far from your place... Why do all of your conversations devolve into Simpsons jokes?"
"Just lucky I guess. And are you insinuating that I'm dragging you around for no--" Jack's gaze shifted past her and he tensed into alert and pulled her into a squat, gesturing for silence as the bell on the doors jangled and loud, angry voices filled the shop.
A voice shouted, "Ev'ryone! Get your hands where I can see them!" A pistol slide clicked into place.
A gasp and a couple of stifled screams came from the other patrons then Sam heard the pump-action of a shotgun and there was more shouting. "Open the cash register, asshole! Do it! Do it!"
The other voice shouted simultaneously, "Get on the floor! Get on the floor! On the floor!"
At the first weapon sound, Sam had reached for her own weapon and felt only soft folds of skirt. Her heart pounded in her chest and ears and she felt naked, exposed. Even so, she had already fished her cell from the small purse that hung at her hip, set it to silent and dialed 911 by the time Jack had peered around the aisle and silently relayed that there were only the two assailants, both armed.
"911. This is Jeremy. What is your emergency?"
Sam pressed the phone to her ear to muffle the operator's voice and tried to speak clearly but quietly enough for her voice to be drowned out by the ongoing commotion. "We need officers sent to the Sheetz in Woodbridge. There are two armed men and approximately eight hostages."
Jack gestured for her to stop speaking.
"Who's over there?" one of the voices demanded loudly. "Who's there?"
She could hear the 911 operator asking for more information as she set her phone on top of a box of Cheez-Its and kept her head down.
The other voice continued in the background, "Open the register! Open it or I swear to God I'll blow your head off!"
"Who's there? Come out of there! Hands where I can see them!" The other man was so near that Sam could smell the reek of old cigarettes. She looked at Jack, but he gestured for her to stay down as he slowly began to rise.
"It's just me," he said evenly, placing one hand in view. "I'm the only one over here. I'm standing up."
Even over the ongoing shouting Sam heard his knees creak as he straightened, noticed muffled sobbing in another aisle. Jack assumed a deliberately casual non-threatening manner with hands relaxed, face neutral, shoulders down, posture exuding unperturbed calm. She hadn't seen this stance in nearly two years but he put on Colonel O'Neill with an ease that was like shrugging into a favorite old t-shirt.
"What are you doing there? Get over here! Get on the ground! What's taking so long! Get the cash and let's get out of here!"
"This asshole is still opening the register!"
"Are you stalling, man? Give us the money!" The nearer voice got louder again; his head must have turned toward her, as his voice was even louder, "What are you doing there? Get your ass on the ground!"
"Let's just keep things calm," Jack said evenly. "We'll give you whatever it is you're asking for. He's opening the register. Just get your money and leave quietly."
"You trying to tell us what to do?"
"I'm just saying there's no need for anyone to get hurt."
"I told you to get on the floor!" Sam heard a hint of uncertainty in his voice and it sounded like he was fidgeting with the gun. "Oh, God. Fuck! Shit, man! Look how he moves, how he stands. This guy's a cop!"
"I'm not a cop," Jack's voice betrayed his annoyance and Sam bit her lip at his tone. "I just want everyone to walk out--"
"Shut up! Shut up! I told you to get your ass on the floor!!"
"I'm doing it--"
"Get your ass on the floor! And don't any of you move either!"
"Put it in a plastic bag! Now hand it over. Give it here!"
"Hurry up! We gotta get out of here!"
The voices were nearly interchangeable at this volume and adrenaline level--theirs and hers--especially without a way to monitor the situation visually. She picked up a can of ravioli and felt the weight in her hand to get a sense of how it would fly. She considered the comparative danger to the other hostages of acting and remaining hidden. She didn't like the odds either way.
"Down! Get all the way down!"
"Come on, I got it! Let's get out of here!"
Sam winced as she heard a loud blow and Jack's groan. Then there was the report of the gun and Jack's sharp cry. As she stood to begin a counter-assault, she heard sirens approaching and saw lights reflecting off the freezer case doors. She had raised a food can when the two men started shouting about the cops and getting caught. She heard them run for and open the door as she was pocketing her phone.
As she rushed to where Jack lay, she could see through the main doors to where the police handcuffing the two men. They looked not a day over nineteen in the odd night light.
"Is everyone okay?" she called as she reached for napkins on the chili dog counter and started applying pressure to Jack's wound.
Various affirmations sounded from around the store, and the sobbing grew louder and was accompanied by the soft, reassuring voice of another customer.
"Gen--Jack?" Sam asked. "Someone call an ambulance! Man down," she shouted as the first officer came to the door, gun at the ready. "That was all of them. We have a GSW, medical assistance required!"
"Carter, do you have to order them around? Command seems to be going to your head."
"Jack, shut up. You're bleeding." She grabbed another handful of napkins to the wound in his butt cheek. Blood had already seeped through the first set.
Jack groaned loudly. "Gee, Carter, you THINK I'm bleeding? I just got shot!"
"Yes, sir." The police were requesting medical backup over their radios and Sam felt split between the woman who was here having a casual evening, and Colonel Carter, who recognized the police jargon and felt the physical movement as they activated the walkie talkies at their shoulders, checking in and calling for medical assistance."
By the time Jack had been transported, stitched, and medicated, it was already 0300 hours and Sam, tired from the flight from the Springs earlier, was fighting to keep her eyes open. She was pacing, blinking, standing and sitting, keeping moving, anything to stay awake. She finally heard a familiar fuss from the hallway and they wheeled Jack in, set the bed in place, adjusted the equipment, and left in what seemed to Sam like a hurry.
He lifted his face from the mattress and called, "Thanks for everything, guys! Just send the discharge nurse along!" He let his head plunk down then winced at the jolt to the bed.
"New medical staff to torment, huh?"
"Civilian doctors," Jack groused, clearly deliberately being loud enough to be heard out in the hallway. "Now, Janet--JANET would have let me go home with some little flesh wound like this."
Sam blinked at him, not quite laughing, but unable to control the smirk she once would have hidden. "I think you may be idealizing your memory of her, Jack."
"Naw. Short, scary, Napoleonic power-mongerer, best bedside manner in the whole damn USAF and possibly the U.S. I mean...she could manage me. All four of us, in fact."
She smiled. It felt good that mentions of Janet finally felt warm and calm with only a tinge of sadness instead of the aching emptiness that had lasted over a year and a half. "Not many could pull that off, could they?"
"Nope. She was special. One of a kind."
There was silence for a moment, but silence was not awkward, just comfortable, and she stroked the gray above his ear.
At length he said, "So, are you heading back to my place till you have to leave tomorrow?"
Sam shook her head, yawning. "I think I'll stay here and protect the nurses from you. Scooch over, will you?" She folded herself into the bed so she could face him as he lay on his stomach. "Anyway, I came to see you, not to sit or sleep alone in your condo."
"Ow." Jack winced and made a few undignified sounds as he shifted to make room for her. Once he settled, Sam began brushing her fingertips against the hair at his temple again.
"How long did they say they wanted to keep you?" she asked softly, tracing his lower lip with her thumb.
"Long enough to ruin this visit. They want overnight observation to make sure I stay flat and don't ruin their repair job."
"So, they've heard of you, then?"
He just glared at her.
"Or maybe there was a note in your medical records?"
"There will be other visits," she smiled at him. "And I plan to come back when grabbing your ass doesn't get my hands all bloody. Not nearly as enjoyable this way. Also, I never got my chili dog."
"I'm just glad no one else got hurt." He looked closely at her.
"Me too. I wish you hadn't either, though."
"Well, Carter, that makes two of us. And could I just mention one more thing?"
"What is that?"
"This getting shot business. I'm officially done: getting shot is a pain in my ass."
Sam rolled her eyes but giggled and leaned forward to kiss him.
"No giggling, Colonel," he murmured into her lips.
ooo end ooo