A/N: The boredom of Study Leave produced this. That, and I watched the episode where Grace tries to stay the week with Sandra but they can't do it, so this is set the morning after Grace leaves.
Sandra walked into the office looking very upset. Like she'd been crying last night, and perhaps had a few glasses too many in an attempt to forget what upset her in the first place. Jack followed her into the office and closed the door, silently demanding an explanation for the red puffy eyes and more than slight hangover.
"Why does she hate me so much, Jack?" she asked tearfully. It wasn't very often she shed tears for her mother, but she was at the end of her tether. "She hates everything about me. Everything I do. Everything I say. Everything I am."
"She doesn't hate you, Sandra," he reassured her gently. Sandra just glared at him as she wordlessly accused him of lying to her. "She doesn't," he insisted. "She just..." He didn't know how to explain it. He didn't even know what the problem was, but there had always been an unpleasant tension between Sandra and Grace Pullman, even while Sandra was a teenager. "Do you hate her?" he asked her interestedly.
Sandra hesitated. Did she really hate her own mother? The woman had a criticism for everything...her cooking, her work hours, her lack of a family, even how she folded her clothes. There was no pleasing her. There never had been. Grace had knowingly withheld the nature of her father's death from her. But so did Jack, and Sandra didn't doubt that she was very fond of him, and she would trust him with her life. "She makes it so hard for me to love her," Sandra finally admitted. "It's like I'm not good enough to be her daughter."
"Sandra," began Jack carefully, treading very cautiously so as not to make a bigger issue of this. "I don't know what she wants from you. Part of the problem is that you don't know how she feels about you."
"She makes it pretty bloody clear," Sandra spat suddenly. "You know something, Jack?" she asked rhetorically. "My dad might have been a right bastard towards the end of his life, cheating on Mum, using prostitutes, having a son he never bothered to say anything about, killing a man, committing suicide rather than face up to his mess," she listed, but her eyes glazed over with tears again. "But I love him a hundred times more than I could ever love my mother, and I always will."
"And why is that?"
"He made sure, every day, that I knew how much he loved me," she replied. There were tears on her cheeks now. "Every night before I went to sleep, he said, "I love you," and kissed my hair," she revealed. "But I don't think I've ever heard her tell me she loves me. I used to tell her all the time until I was about nine, and I gave up on it because she never said it back."
"Grace is a very...stoic person," Jack told Sandra. "You saw how she hid your dad's life from you, without even the blink of an eye. She's never liked being alone, though. And you've always liked being alone, ever since Gordon died. She hates that you know how to survive with no-one, and she can't."
"That's not an excuse to hate me," she answered. "I don't hate her. I love her, but she really makes me want to hate her. Actually, it would be so much simpler if I could let myself wash my hands of her," she added bitterly. "I'd love to to leave her alone, but I can't let her go."
"If you could let her go, she could let you go and everyone would be fine," Jack told her. "She loves you but she has no clue how to tell or show it to you. That was always your dad's area." He could see the angry, frustrated, disheartened tears welling up in her electric blue eyes. He pulled her into a tight cuddle, knowing that she had distanced herself from other people after her father died, especially her mother. This situation was unfortunate, but inevitable. It was bound to happen, mainly because Grace criticised her daughter and Sandra had given up on trying to please her mother.
"How can she not see I'm trying my best to love her?" demanded Sandra. This wasn't fair. She was not the only one at fault here. If her mum wanted to be close to her, she would have stared trying the second her dad was out of the picture. Instead, though, she had expected from Sandra everything that she wasn't.
"Why can't I just have a Mum who accepts what I am?" she whispered. "Why?"
Hope it was OK!
Please leave a review annd tell me what you thought!