Title: Coming to Terms
Author: Annerb
Summary: It wasn't quite as merciless as it sounded in her head sometimes.
Categorization: Drama, Kerry Johnson, Kerry/Jack, Jack/Sam
Warnings/Rating: PG, none
A/N: Huh. I'm not sure where this came from, though I think it might be a combination of reading so much awesome fic over at the Awesome Ladies Ficathon, seeing igrockspock's 'I Have a Story' icon made by lymanalpha, and listening to Carolina Liar on the drive. So, yeah. Minor character fic, ftw! Thanks to Trout for confirming I am crazy. :)

Coming to Terms

Kerry always knew Jack wasn't completely there with her. She knew she only had access to part of him, and a tiny part at that. It didn't bother her. It was the reason she approached in the first place, after all.

She'd just spent the last two years crawling out from under a relationship so all-encompassing that she almost hadn't noticed it was drowning her, suffocating her by moment until she'd barely had the muscle left to stand on her own two god-damned feet. She was never going to let that happen again.

So she didn't need intensity. She didn't need to feel like she was the center of Jack's world. She just needed that look in his eye that let her know he thought she was beautiful, the knowledge that he enjoyed her company, appreciated her wit. He was attractive and carefully impenetrable, with just enough lost hero mystique to titillate that genetic proclivity of needing to be his safe harbor, that girlish impulse she'd stopped bothering trying to suppress ages ago. Indulge it, but don't bow to it. (Never bow.)

And if there were moments when she was foolish enough to see glimmers of potential, she never let herself forget the simple truth: she didn't have any use for potential. She didn't need forever, just for now. Because it was way more important for her to know that she could do this, be with a guy completely on her own terms.

No compromise. (Not her heart, not her sanity, not her self-reliance.)

It wasn't quite as merciless as it sounded in her head sometimes. With Jack there was mutual satisfaction to be found, warmth, and simple no-strings-attached enjoyment. She could feel her bones carefully knitting back together under his convenient affections, his undemanding companionship. She began to recognize only herself in her actions again, unencumbered by a 'them'. (She could finally see where she began and ended, and all without the need of his edges for definition.)

She wasn't sure what he got out of it, beyond the obvious, but didn't spend too much time thinking about it. After all, he hadn't asked her story, and she didn't ask his. From the beginning she'd assumed it was the job that had done this to him, sliced him into sections, held apart by the simple fact that it would always come first—this job that had undoubtedly made him do the sort of things that never let anyone be whole again. Later she decided it might actually be more than that, that maybe the real point of separation was the ghosts staring out of pictures carefully hung on his walls. The ones with the dusty frames that said to her that he needed them, but that maybe he couldn't bring himself to actually look at them. (She knew what that was like.)

It wasn't until Sam Carter showed up on his porch (clumsy in her earnestness, almost painful to watch) that Kerry realized Jack's real problem was actually flesh and blood, and here and now, just carefully out of reach. She recognized it easily, the flash between them that was a connection on the verge of sheer meltdown. For a brief second she considered telling Jack to run the other way, that his flesh and blood demon would only destroy him in the end (it always did). But the moment passed and she held her tongue, mainly because she was pretty sure Jack already knew it. (It explained a lot.)

It was pretty clear that he'd been using her as much as she'd been using him.

The realization eased a pit of guilt in her stomach that she hadn't known she was carrying around (she was supposed to be untouchable, and guilt was just a weapon that she didn't need to wield against herself).

Soon enough Sam Carter was swept away by some emergency on base, but Kerry saw the way Jack's eyes went with her, all of his pieces coming together. She told herself she didn't envy either of them that. (She knew far too well how it always ended.)

Either way, it left only one thing to do and she'd never been one to ignore just out of personal convenience. (Not anymore.)

So she cut the ties to Jack that she'd carefully cultivated to tug apart at the slightest pressure, and she didn't feel a thing, not really.

Not that she didn't wear her favorite color and those heels that made her legs seem to go on for miles when she went to let go of him. Even if her heart was safe, her ego still wanted to remind him just what he was losing. She liked to think he thought about it, sitting there in his office after she left, for at least a minute or two. She didn't let the fantasy linger though, because he'd never been all there from the beginning (not for her), and she'd never been his. Never would have been.

Only her own.

.fin.

I'm coming to terms
I'm starting to learn
This ain't all it's cracked up to be
'Cause I'm using you, you're using me
It's never as easy as we believe

-'Coming to Terms' by Carolina Liar