Don't Take the Girl
By Mickey

Status: Completed 9/16/2010

Word Count: 2199

Author's Notes: The title comes from the song of the same name by Tim McGraw off the album "Not A Moment Too Soon". I love this song and thought it would make a great "early Jack" fic, taking a look at three possible key points in his life. I've played with the time line of the last part of the song to better fit in with the series. The full song lyrics are at the end of the fic. Thanks to Cheryl for the beta.

Johnny's daddy was taking him fishin'
When he was eight years old

Jack bounced around excitedly as he help his dad pack for the trip. Three whole days of just him and his dad fishing! What better way to spend a long weekend? He ran from the house to the garage. "Here, Dad," he called out as he came to a skidding stop beside his father at the tailgate of the truck. "Mom made us some brownies for the trip."

"Yum," his dad said, patting his belly and making Jack laugh. "Put 'em up front."

Jack did as he was told and then went back to his Dad. "I think we got everything now, right? We got our poles and tackle boxes and a cooler with drinks and stuff."

Laughing, his father's said, "Don't forget your new fishing hat Grandpa gave you for your birthday."

Dodging easily as his father reached out in an attempt to ruffle his short hair, Jack slapped his forehead and replied, "Right. I almost forgot!" The he raced off to his room to grab the hat. Rummaging through his top dresser draw, he found the hat quickly and put it on. He headed for the door then stopped and went to his closet. "Can't forget my mitt," he mumbled to himself. Hopefully, between fishing, and eating and talking about guy stuff, they'd have time to play a little catch too. Snatching up the baseball glove, careful not to let the ball fall out, he dashed down the stairs and out the front door, throwing a "Sorry, Mom!" over his shoulder as she yelled at him for running in the house. Again.

As he came to a stop beside his dad, he saw something that made his jaw drop open in shock. What's she doing here? he wondered as he saw Sara Jamerson approaching the gate, a fishing pole in one hand and a small tackle box in the other. "No way!" he grumbled. Sara was almost six years old, and ok for a girl. After all, she wasn't afraid to touch bugs and didn't cry like a little baby if she got a little dirty like the other girls did and she actually liked baseball too. But still, this trip was supposed to be for just him and his dad! It was supposed to be a guys only weekend.

Apparently seeing the look on his son's face, Jack's dad looked down with a smile. Placing a hand on Jack's shoulder, he said, "We can't leave her behind."

Why not? he thought. He was about to ask his dad just that when his father spoke again.

"Son, I know you don't want her to go, but someday you'll change your mind."

Not likely. Jack thought. Out loud, he pleaded, "Take Tommy Thomson. Take Jimmy Johnson, or take my best friend, Bo. Come on, Dad," he implored. But his dad wasn't listening, just looking down at him with that same stupid, dopey smile grown-ups sometimes got. Feeling desperate, he begged, "Take anybody that you want as long as she don't go. Take any boy in the world. Daddy please don't take the girl!"

Scowling as Sara smiled and put her pole in the back, Jack said nothing when she waived and said, "Hi, Jack!"

With one last pleading look at his father, which was met with the same knowing smile, Jack gave up and quickly climbed into the front seat of the truck before the girl took his seat.

Same old boy
Same sweet girl
Ten years down the road
He held her tight and kissed her lips
In front of the picture show

Exiting the theater, Jack pulled Sara to the side, holding her close to him as he kissed her. Breaking the kiss after a moment, he continued the conversation they'd been having before the movie had started. "I have to leave tomorrow morning. I don't have a choice, Sara. The Air Force isn't like any other job where you can just call in sick. I was only given two weeks leave. I report to the base tomorrow, and then it's off to Vietnam for at least a year."

"I know," she sighed, and Jack could see the sadness in her eyes, "but I'll miss you. I'm afraid for you. It's so crazy over there right now. So many of our soldiers are coming home in body bags. Young men, barely older than boys, like yourself."

"I'll miss you too, but I'll write to you everyday. Besides," he assured her, "my job let's me work from a distance. I won't really be all that close to the action." Which wasn't really the truth, but it wasn't a total lie either. He'd done exceptionally well on the firing range, earning top marks all the way through basic. Then, he'd gone on to Aviation school. The main reason he'd joined the Air Force, other than to follow in his father's footsteps, was to become an aviator.

Unfortunately, flying was not what he'd be doing in Vietnam. He'd done so well on the firing range in basic that his drill sergeant had pushed for him to be made a sniper. No sooner had he graduated Flight school and prepared to be sent to Germany, he'd been called into his unit commander's office and had been informed of the change in his orders. But he couldn't tell Sara that. No way. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that he was going to tell his girl that he was to basically be the Air Force's own personal assassin. She'd never understand.

He relaxed his embrace and slid his hand into hers. "Don't worry," he told her, "I'll be back. I promise." And if there was one thing that could be said for John Charles O'Neill he never went back on his word.

Glancing at his watch, he realized they needed to get going. He'd promised the Jamersons' that he'd have Sara home by ten o'clock and it was almost a quarter to. They'd have plenty of time to drive slow and talk some more as long as they left right then.

No sooner had they started walking towards Jack's car, when a stranger stepped in front of them and pulled a gun. He grabbed Sara by the arm and pressed the gun to her ribs. "If you do what I tell you to, there won't be any harm," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. His voice sounded horse, as if he didn't use it much.

Jack pulled out his wallet as he said, "Take my money, take my wallet, take my credit cards." Keeping his hands in front of him, he dropped the wallet in the strangers extended hand. Then he removed his watch -the one his grandfather had given him just before he'd died not even a year ago- and dropped it onto the wallet. "Here's the watch that my grandpa gave me." Fishing in his pockets, he pulled out one last thing. During the whole ordeal, he never took his eyes off the stranger, or the gun. "Here's the key to my car. Mister, give it a whirl, but please don't take the girl."

The stranger pocketed Jack's belongings, except the wallet. Gun still jammed into Sara's side, the stranger thumbed through Jack's wallet. Jack clearly saw the hard look in the guy's eyes -the bobbing Adam's Apple would have given him away, even if his deep voice hadn't- and he just knew that it wasn't enough. Sure enough, the man closed the wallet then shoved it into his pocket, stuck his hand back out and demanded, "Where's the rest of your money, boy?"

"That's all I have," Jack replied truthfully. Or at least, that's all he had on him. After all, he was leaving for a foreign country in a few days, what good would carrying around a wad of American cash do him? Before the gunman could say another word, Jack grabbed the man's outstretched hand with one hand and the gun hand in the other. In one swift move, he snapped the guy's wrist and pinned to the ground, barely even breaking a sweat. His deadeye aim wasn't the only thing that had caught the drill sergeants' attention.

Looking up into Sara's terrified face, he assured her, "It's okay, baby, go get the cops."

As she nodded numbly and took off down the street, he prayed that, after the shock wore off, he wouldn't see that fear in her eyes when she looked at him again.

There's going to be a little one and she says it's time to go

Sara, smiled and said, "It's time to go."

Frowning, Jack asked, "Go? Go where?" His wounds from the nasty little parachute incident over Afghanistan had healed well. He'd been back on light duty for a month now and was nearly finished with his physical therapy, but the doctors weren't ready to put him back on active duty yet, so he still had two months of medical leave left. Thinking about Sara was the only thing that kept him going during those nine days of hell. Seeing her sweet smile, holding her tight again were the only things that kept him moving despite the intense agony of nine broken bones and a concussion, and the scorching heat.

It still amazed him that he was having a son, and that he'd almost died without even knowing it. Sara had been nearly three months pregnant when his team had left for Afghanistan, but hadn't realized it yet. Her periods had always been irregular and it wasn't uncommon for her to miss it for a month or two. By the time she'd found out and had gotten a hold of his unit commander, Jack had already been plummeting to the ground, his parachute failing to open correctly.

Sara patted her large, round belly.

"Oh," he exclaimed, realization dawning on him instantly. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he asked, "But I thought you still had over three weeks to go?"

"Tell that to your son," Sara told him, still smiling. "Seems this little guy is just as impatient as his daddy."

Moving quickly, Jack grabbed the bag he knew Sara kept packed in the hall closet and the car keys. Immensely glad he'd already installed the car seat and that the nursery had been completed just a few days earlier, he helped Sara to the car.

"Slow down, Jack," Sara exclaimed, clutching the armrest. "Labor can take hours, sometimes even days.

Looking down at the speedometer and seeing he was pushing ninety miles an hour, Jack swore softly and slowed down. "Sorry," he mumbled.

After what seemed to Jack like an eternity, but was actually only a few minutes, they were in a delivery room.

"Come on, baby, you're doing great," Jack said as he supported Sara's back while she began to push again,, barely even registering the vice-like grip she had on his other hand. Seeing the baby's head come out, he informed her, "There's his head!" He watched in awe as the doctor suctioned out the baby's nose and mouth.

"A few more pushes and he'll be out," the doctor told Sara encouragingly.

"Sure enough, three strong pushes later, Charlie came into the, arms flailing and screaming at the top of his lungs. Jack whooped loudly then leaned down and kissed Sara on the head. "He's beautiful," he announced proudly as the doctor held the baby up for the proud parents to see. Watching as a nurse took the baby to a nearby table, Jack didn't see the worried look on the doctor's face, nor did he notice that Sara had suddenly loosened her death grip on his hand. "I'm going to go see him," he announced as he laid Sara's hand on the bed and hurried over to the table.

Jack looked on as the nurse cleaned his son up then weighed and measured him. Eight pounds six ounces and twenty two inches long! His boy was big. Gonna be tall just like his daddy, too. Suddenly remembering the camera around his neck, he snapped a few pictures. Turning to face Sara and tell her the news, he noticed the doctor looking at him and nodding to a nurse. Instantly, warning bells went off in his head.

Before he could ask what was going on, the doctor said, "The baby's fine, but you'll have to leave."

Jack made no attempt to move and shrugged off the nurse who gently grasped his arm.

The doctor's expression softened as he said, "His mom's fading fast, son, you'll have to leave now." Without another word, he turned back to Sara. Jack's attention was on the rapidly growing puddle of blood on the bed.

This time, with one last glance at his wife's too pale face, Jack allowed the nurse to lead him out of the delivery room. She left him outside the door and hurried back in to the room. Numbly, Jack walked towards a waiting room. Halfway there, and not caring who saw or what they thought, Jack hit his knees and prayed. "Take the very breath you gave me, take the air from my chest," he whispered into his folded hands, "I'll gladly take her place if you'll let me, make this my last request. Take me out of this world, but please, God, don't take Sara."

Johnny's daddy Was taking him fishin' When he was eight years old. . .


Johnny's daddy was taking him fishin'
When he was eight years old
A little girl came through the front gate holdin' a fishing pole
His dad looked down and smiled, said we can't leave her behind
Son I know you don't want her to go but someday you'll change your mind
And Johnny said "Take Jimmy Johnson, take Tommy Thompson, take my best friend Bo
Take anybody that you want as long as she don't go
Take any boy in the world
Daddy please don't take the girl"

Same old boy
Same sweet girl
Ten years down the road
He held her tight and kissed her lips
In front of the picture show
Stranger came and pulled a gun
Grabbed her by the arm said "If you do what I tell you to, there won't be any harm"
And Johnny said "Take my money, take my wallet, take my credit cards
Here's the watch that my grandpa gave me
Here's the key to my car
Mister give it a whirl
But please don't take the girl"

Same old boy
Same sweet girl
Five years down the road
There's going to be a little one and she says it's time to go
Doctor says the baby's fine but you'll have to leave
'Cause his momma's fading fast and Johnny hit his knees and there he prayed
Take the very breath you gave me
Take the heart from my chest
I'll gladly take her place if you'll let me
Make this my last request
Take me out of this world
God, please don't take the girl