Title: Worth It

Rating: PG

Pairing: S/J

Author Notes: This is my first fic for years so be gentle. I've missed writing for the fandom so thought I would give it another go!

There were never any angry fireworks or confrontations.

He had always imagined that there might have been. Drama and repression had been rather present during their joint past.

Maybe some tears or angst or even some latent guilt somewhere within him. Within them both.

But instead, there is just...Them.

It isn't dramatic or sudden and there's certainly no feeling like he is straying into dangerous territory.

He retired and they fell into their relationship, almost as if by accident. Yet both of them knew that this was no accident. Theirs was no relationship of convenience – they both knew that they wanted this more than pretty much anything. He knew that of himself at least. He would rather one day of her than his favourite team win the Stanley Cup. Every. Single. Year.

She stood on the decking of his porch, looking over the garden that he now had copious time to tend to. The slight cool breeze in the air drifted through the evergreen trees at the bottom of the yard, their branches waving slightly.

She cut an elegant figure, even in one of his baggy shirts and faded boxer shorts; the only attire available. The sunlight ebbed away slowly and he knew there was a bottle of ice cold beer clutched in her right hand.

And he just watched her from the porch door.

"I know you're there," Her voice surfaced over the quiet. She didn't turn round but merely continued to look over the garden and took a lazy sip from the beer bottle

There was a smile on his face, his usual wry smirk graced his features, "They don't hand out doctorates for nothing then," He replied, his ever present sarcasm unable to be restrained. He knew that she would roll her eyes at the retort. He liked to make her do that; it usually meant that she found him endearing. He liked that a lot.

She slowly turned round, leaning her back against the wooden railing as she faced him. She had no make up on - he could tell. She looked more beautiful, more herself without it. Her slightly grown, now bob-length blonde hair was vaguely scruffy, owing to the lazy Saturday that they had spent together, "I hope you don't mind," She lifted the bottle slightly, "There's still a six pack left..." She trailed off her sentence, her voice quietening.

"No worries," He replied. She could pretty much do anything and he would still be there, amazed at how a woman so goddamn amazing would choose to be with him, of all people, "You okay?"

He ventured the question almost hesitantly. Their month-old relationship was burgeoning but he found himself wary of her occasional silence, as though she was reconsidering their intimacy, despite the ease at which it came.

She sighed, looking down at her bottle, swirling the amber contents.

All he can do is think how beautiful she looks standing in his old white shirt and shorts, complete with ruffled hair and biting her lip.

"You know I love you, right?" She said it almost nervously, her piercing blue eyes looked into his and for a moment, he couldn't speak. Which was useful because the infamous Carter torrent of words erupted with force, "Because I do, you know. I really do," The words came at him almost without a breath. She broke for a moment and the second's worth of silence was too much for her, "I don't want you think I'm here because..I don't know because..because this is just fun to me. Or, or.. that I'm settling for this." She stops again with a sigh, "I love you Jack. I want you, this, us."

He walked towards her and her stance relaxed further. She looked down at her toes, almost girlishly although never a word he usually associated with her, "I guess I can't believe I'm happy." She said finally as he stood next to her, leaning against the railing along side her casual form, "Things like this don't usually happen to me."

"What, standing on a back porch with an old man?" He joked and she smiled at him slyly, that side smile he loved so much. Like everything else.

"Don't be obtuse," He knew she wanted to roll her eyes again.

"Sorry, sorry," He apologised, nudging her shoulder. He sighed as he turned around to face the garden and she followed him, both their gazes admiring the view. There was a moment of silence, uninterrupted as he listened to the last of the birds tweeting in the dusk, "I know what you mean Carter." He looked at her side profile, watched her and couldn't believe she was his. "All the years were worth it. For this." His hand snaked into hers, holding it as though it were the most natural thing in the world. His face was grave as he thought of all they had endured; the loss, the pain, the almost decade long denial. "I'm not letting you go."

She leant her head against his shoulder, "Me neither."

They stood in silence.

"I love you Carter."

She squeezed his hand in response.

Definitely worth it.