A/N: I was minding my own business when Sam Carter poked me in the shoulder and said, "write this, please." So I did. This is not related to Approaching Normal but could very easily work as a companion piece for One Year. Feedback and reviews are always answered and very much appreciated. This is not a Campfire fic, although I will be posting one of those before Monday.

Enjoy.

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Life, Now and Again

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Sam Carter sighed as she carelessly dropped her groceries onto the counter, trying to force herself to care as the contents spilled haphazardly out of the plastic bags. She toed off her shoes and listlessly began to sort through the mail she'd brought in with her. Newspaper, junk mail, 'welcome to the neighborhood' junk mail, 'get your degree here' junk mail. God, more junk mail. Not even a single bill to distract her. Not that she ever had to worry about bills, or even read them, apparently. The living allowance the Navy had so...graciously...provided took care of her needs. Her financial needs.

Sam thought back to that lonely bus ride from the base, her handler's dry and impersonal reading of the rules for her new life.

...you will be provided a suitable home, vehicle, and a living allowance which may be augmented, without penalty, should you choose to seek employment in any filed other than the following: astrophysics, aerospace, engineering...

God, why hadn't they just put her in a cell? Tossing the junk mail into the recycling bin, Sam grabbed her groceries, still in the thin plastic bags from the store and threw them into the refrigerator. She couldn't bring herself to care whether the items she put in there even needed cooling. She snagged a Guinness from the upper shelf and watched the condensation pearl on the bottle as she pried the lid off. Wandering through the tastefully decorated home she'd been provided, Sam forced herself to focus.

I need to find something...anything...to do, or I'll go completely crazy. Maybe math...they can't stop me from doing math, can they? I know I'm not allowed engineering, but...maybe something computer-related? I guess I could go back to school...

Giving into the despair that had shadowed her since she'd moved into the small suburban neighborhood, Sam felt the long-denied tears begin to leak down her cheeks. She sighed and turned on the couch, stretching her long legs out and settling in for the evening. This was her life, now, and she'd have to make the best of it. She knew...knew...deep in her heart, that Ba'al would be here someday. Someday soon.

Ba'al.

Jack.

Jack. Oh God, not now. I'm not able to hold it in, not now...not today. The horrific memory of that moment in the extraction chamber played out in her mind. Again.

His face, quickly draining to white as he ordered her to get to the gate. His beautiful, chocolate eyes on hers, quickly losing their bright, inner light and taking on the glossy sheen of death. His lips moving, saying something too faint for her ears to catch, words she only heard deep in her heart.

I love you.

Feeling the last flutter of his heart beneath her fingers, and feeling the stuttering of her own in response. How she'd wanted to simply lie down beside him and disappear...

The shrill ringing of the phone startled Sam so much that she bobbled the now warm bottle of beer in an attempt to answer it. Fumbling for the portable, she snorted in disbelief as the woman on the other end asked her to participate in a survey about her recent car purchase. Sam simply hung up. The call, so ordinary, so...colossally normal jarred her as nothing else had done today.

This ends today, Samantha Carter. You owe it to yourself, to...Jack, to be ready. You must be ready for when it all comes down. Someday soon this 'normal' will cease to be.

With a new determination strengthening her resolve, Sam slid her laptop over from the end table and onto her knees. Sam Carter functioned best when she had a plan, and it was time she made one of her own. She was tired of dancing to everyone else's tune. She couldn't work in astrophysics or engineering? Fine. She'd find another way to be ready. Bypassing the folder in which she'd begun to make journal entries, she opened her web browser and began searching.

Sam absently turned on the television while she worked, automatically tuning it to the hockey channel. She paused as the announcer excitedly called the game in his comforting Canadian accent, his enthusiasm reminding her of afternoons spent at Jack's; she working on her laptop while he officiated the match from the couch. For the first time in weeks the memory of their time together–their newly built life together–wasn't accompanied by the burning ache in her chest.

This may be her life now, but it wouldn't be for always, and when that change came, she'd be ready. Ready to reclaim the life, and the love, she'd had before. And would have again.