Title: “Pizza at Luigi’s”
Status: Complete – part of series
Category: pov – mild hurt/comfort
Pairings: Jack and Janet Friendship. Will become a relationship later in the series
Sequel/Series Info: “Strength and Courage”
CONTENT LEVEL: C
Content Warnings: none
Summary: A rough day at the SG leads to conversation
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions This story has been written for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. All original characters are my own - yada yada yada - In other words - I don't own these guys. I never will....I just like to play with them now and then.
Feedback: Yes Please. Constructive Criticism to improve my craft is appreciated. Flames are not.
File Size: 47 kb
Archive: Jackfic - Others Please ask
Author’s Notes: My thanks to Wendy for her beta-read and excellent suggestions on how to improve my story. I really appreciate it
Pizza at Luigi's had become a semi-regular occurrence for Colonel Jack O'Neill, Doctor Janet Frasier and her daughter Cassie. At first Janet would invite the Colonel out for coffee or a bite to eat if he was still helping out at school when Janet arrived to pick up Cassie. Janet knew it helped Cassie to be able to talk about the cultural difficulties she was having. The Colonel really seemed to understand, and explained some of the lingo so that Cassie would not seem so out of the loop with the rest of the kids. She caught on to lingo a lot faster than Teal'c did. As Cassie began to fit into school, she found a lot of things about earth she was good at, and did really well. She was a quick study who caught onto games and strategies with few problems. Cassie soon found herself surrounded by friends and began to join clubs left, right and center. She joined the chess club, the choir, the dramatic review, and she especially enjoyed the astronomy club.
The other children in the club were awed when Cassie brought a real astrophysicist in to talk to them. Sam Carter's appearance made an impression, especially when she gave out signed copies of her book, even though the group could barely understand a word of it. Sam was great, but she wasn't anywhere near as big an influence on the astronomy club as the man they all called Colonel Jack. Jack O'Neill soon found that he was bringing his telescope to the school on any Wednesday night that he was in town. The kids brought their little telescopes, and he instructed them on how to use their sets to find amazing and awesome things. Most of the kids didn't know where in the sky to look to see Saturn, or Mars, or the Milky Way, but that was only the beginning of Jack's astronomical knowledge. While it was hard for most adults to find a comet, it seemed easy for the kids to find them when Jack gave instructions. He told them exactly where to look, and after they had found the treasure, they could come and look through HIS telescope, and everything looked so much bigger and clearer. Before he knew it Jack was the main attraction. The science teacher who had started the club was happy to let him captivate the kids' interest, stepping in to do his best on those days when Jack was unable to make it.
During the fall and winter Colonel O’Neill, Janet Frasier and Cassie had the regular habit of going out for 'coffee' after the Wednesday night sessions, even after Cassie no longer needed the listening ear of the Colonel. As spring moved towards summer, and the length of days increased, they started meeting before the Wednesday night sessions to prevent Cassie from being up too late. Without ever realizing it Jack and Janet began to look forward to these Wednesday night pizza dinners. Jack O'Neill began to keep his schedule clear as much as possible, although sometimes he would bring one of the team along. That didn't happen too often. Teal'c looked decidedly out of place, almost as if he was keeping guard over the playground. He received a few nervous glances from parents, until they realized that he was with the Colonel. He came once or twice, but seemed to compare stargazing with fishing, and stayed away. When Sam came, she spent most of her time with Cassie, but her mind was primarily on whatever "doohickey" she left back in her lab on base. The few times Jack was able to drag Daniel away from his artifacts; he surprised Jack by gathering the kids' attention and telling them the classical myths about the constellations. He made the constellations come alive for the kids those nights. Then one night in late spring Jack found himself alone when he stopped off at Luigi's, leaving the telescope covered up in the back of the truck.
Jack had just come back from a trip to
Finally, Jack reached out, and placed one hand on her shoulder. "Hey, Doc." He said tentatively. "Where is Cassie?"
Janet started, looking up into Jack’s face, shocked to see him. "C-colonel." She stuttered. "You weren't expected back until tomorrow. I phoned the school to let them know you were out of town." She gestured to the chair across from her, inviting Jack to sit down. "Cassie went out for dinner at a friend's, and I was too tired to cook, so I stopped in here."
Jack explained, "I took an earlier flight. There is a pretty amazing view of the red-spot on Jupiter tonight. I thought the kids in the club would like to see it." He sat at the table across from her. "Rough day?" he asked quietly, taking in her demeanor.
"The worst!" She said wearily. "It was a red-alert day." She spoke in the code of the SGC, and O'Neill knew at once that it meant an SG team had been under fire off-world.
He searched his memory to recall which teams were in the field that day. "7 or 19?" he asked tightly?
"7." She confirmed.
"And? Jack inquired, tersely, looking at her face with intensity.
Janet sighed heavily, and looked down at the table. "3 down." She said wearily. She looked up, sadly. "two of them should be okay – but Senior Airman Whitman is," Janet paused, and looked around carefully. The rule was that what went on at the mountain stayed at the mountain, and even with a friend you had to be careful about what might be overheard. "You know." She finished wearily, and then looked up at the Colonel to make sure he had understood that Whitman hadn’t made it. By the look on his face, Janet knew he had.
"The young guy with the new wife." Jack breathed out with a wince.
"Yeah." Janet averted her eyes, remembering that Jack went over the personnel jackets of every person assigned to an SG team. Of course he knew who Thomas Whitman was.
Jack breathed out a long sigh. "Rough." He confirmed. He leaned forward over the table slightly, ensuring that he had Janet's attention. Jack reached over and touched one of Janet's hands lightly, before saying firmly "But I know you, Doc. You did your best. You know you did. You always do!"
"Yeah." Janet sighed, looking over the table at him, tears threatening. She rubbed her face with her hands, and then went on. Her voice seemed to express weariness, sorrow, and resignation all at once. "We all did our best." Her voice almost broke, as she thought about what his young wife must be going through. She continued resolutely, looking openly into Jack's eyes. "I know that there wasn't anything that we could have done differently to save him. We tried, but Whitman was dead before he hit the gate, and we couldn't resuscitate him. But that doesn't make it any easier." She looked over at Jack, as if requesting reassurance that he understood.
Jack nodded, wearily. "I know." he confirmed. He looked over her head for a moment, looking world-weary, as if the weight of command was bearing down on him. He had seen enough death in his career. While General Hammond had the big chair at the SGC, a lot of responsibility fell to him as the 2IC over the facility. Every time a team went though the gate there was every chance they wouldn't make it back. Jack felt responsible for a lot of those deaths, even the ones that he could have done nothing to prevent. There were always questions about enough training, or enough drills and preparation. But sometimes there wasn't anything that could have been done. Jack looked down at the table for a moment, then looked up solemnly, and caught Janet's eye. "I know!" Jack said seriously, then leaned forward over the table, speaking quietly but emphatically, "but Lord protect us from the day it ever gets easier, you know?"
Janet looked down at the table and sighed. She knew what he was saying. She nodded slowly, and then looked up, straight into Jack's eyes. "I know." She confirmed through unshed tears.
Jack had several unwritten codes of honour that he lived by. One was 'Nobody gets left behind.' Everyone knew that one. One that remained spoken only in his own heart was 'If it ever gets easy to lose a man under me - that is the day I'll retire!' He had known too many commanding officers to whom men were only statistics in battles that had no meaning. He would not be one of them. Janet understood that.
Jack and Janet spent the rest of dinner talking over heavy topics. They had both been in the military for a long enough time to experience things better left forgotten. Janet Frasier had been a young doctor during the gulf war, and had been stationed behind the lines in Kuwait. She had also been in Somalia and Bosnia. She had saved a lot of young lives, but lost a lot too. Jack O'Neill had saved a lot of lives, but he had also caused a lot of deaths. They both knew about the inevitability of loss in the lives and careers they had chosen. By the end of the meal their conversation turned to other casualties of their chosen lives; their marriages. It was those experiences in far off places that had chipped away at the foundations of both of their marriages.
"If I hadn't made a habit of locking away everything about the black-ops missions from Sara---" Jack admitted, "---I might have been able to talk to her about Charlie. In the end, I think she could see what was going through my mind, ---" Jack hesitated and looked around, averting his eyes as he remembered just how close to taking his own life he had been after Charlie's death. He faltered for a moment, then continued "on that first mission. She asked me not to go - but I did, and when I got back she had changed to locks on the house. All my stuff was in a storage locker." O'Neill closed his eyes for a second, remembering the pain of that time. He tried to excuse Sarah's actions. "In her mind she believed she had already lost me, and that she had to protect herself from the pain of another loss. It hurt like hell at the time - but I know why she did it." Jack shrugged, and cast an unfocussed glance over Janet's left shoulder. "I wonder, sometimes" he said quietly, "if I had built up trust with her by letting her in to help me though my bad times - then when the really bad hit - could we have worked it out?" Jack looked across the table.
Janet shook her head. "I don't know. Mine was the opposite problem." She said sadly. "Bob was --- totally self-obsessed, although I didn't realize that when I married him. He could be very romantic before we were married. He liked the fact that I worked as a Doctor, but I think what he liked was the money he thought I would bring in when I went into civilian life." Janet paused, and looked up at the ceiling for a moment. "He hated the fact that I stayed in the military after he left the service. He kept telling me I could make more money in private practice, and couldn't understand why I would stay in." Janet leaned forward, resting on her elbows. "When I tried to talk to him about the stuff that I saw in Bosnia he went ballistic. He said that the forces had shrinks that could help me deal with that stuff, and that he didn't want to think about it. Bob spent 8 years in the paymaster's corps and had never been in a combat area." Janet's voice took on a brittle tone, as she continued. It was obvious that was a painful memory for her. "He couldn't stand that I volunteered to go on the peace-keeping missions. He thought I went to get away from him - but they needed women doctors." Her voice was filled with passion for her craft, and Jack could not help but be awed by her obvious dedication to her work. "There were so many Muslim women being injured that male doctors were not allowed to examine because of the religious beliefs of the region." Janet's voice was forceful. "I know I made a difference. I saved a lot of lives. It was the right thing for me to do."
For a moment both of them were silent, thinking about what had just been said. There was a lot to think about. Janet paused for a moment, then looked over at the silent Colonel, concentrating on his pizza. "Colonel" she said, thoughtfully, reaching over to place one of her small hands on his arm. "I know what you're saying, but it only works if they really want to hear about those experiences. Do you really think Sara could have heard about your experiences in Iraq and looked at you the same way after? Did she really want into that world?"
O'Neill looked up, and into her face, then shook his head. "I don't know. I know that the scars from my," Jack paused, as if searching for the right word "injuries in Iraq horrified her. I know that when she asked about my missions." He said simply. "I couldn't give her answers. But when I think about it, the questions she asked were about why I had to do the things I did, not about how I got injured or where it happened." Jack sighed heavily, and admitted, "The marriage was on shaky ground before what happened with Charlie. I couldn't talk to Sara about what I did because it was classified, and she didn't ask questions I could answer. She seemed to think that life would always stay the way it was when I was in the Academy --- that I would stay the way I was.” Jack looked down at the table as he continued. "But I was in Black-Ops. You can't stay the same. And what I was doing was important and necessary. I knew that." Jack looked over at Janet, and saw total understanding in her eyes. She had been in the gulf, and understood more than she let on. He continued, "But that didn't stop the nightmares, or the fact that she wanted me to be around a bit more than I was. After Charlie was gone it seemed like there was nothing left holding the marriage together. I guess I'll always wonder what might have been."
"I won't." Janet said firmly. "Bob has been married twice since me. I don't think it was in his nature to try and work things out. I think he thought that marriage was like being in love all the time." She grinned wryly. "You know - flights of fancy, whisps of romance, and googly-eyed worship all the time. But life doesn't give us that." Janet toyed with her fork, wondering how to continue. "Real love has romance and dreams - interspersed with weariness, drama and obstacles. It has passion, and fireworks - but it also has respect, honor and integrity. It takes staying power." Janet dropped her fork, gesturing emphatically. "Both people must be committed to each other to make anything work. It took me a while to learn that." She shook her head sadly. "I thought if I worked hard enough I could make it work for both of us. Bob made me feel so insecure. In some ways he was emotionally abusive, but I couldn't see that at the time." Janet shrugged. "He was belittling me---always pointing out what he thought I needed to change, but he saw himself as perfect." Janet's eyes became dark with anger. "When I caught him cheating, and he tried to blame me, I knew I couldn't stay. I think the experiences I went through in Bosnia made me strong enough to leave. I know I made the right choice. And if I hadn't, I wouldn't have Cassie right now." Janet's face lit like a beacon at the thought of her adopted daughter.
Jack stared at her shining face, drawn to her quiet beauty. So often he looked at her as Doc, not as Janet. Janet Frasier had a beautiful smile. It warmed his heart to see her face so vibrant, like the sun pouring though the dark clouds of her day. Jack pulled himself together, and looked out the window. "Speaking of which," Jack said "I hadn't realized how late it's gotten. It's already dark, and I need to get the scope over to the schoolyard. Are you coming?"
"No," Janet smiled resignedly. "I need some rest. And I want to phone the mountain to check on the rest of SG7. I'll see you tomorrow, Jack." Her face flushed, and she looked away quickly, realizing what she had called him. He didn't even seem to notice.
They got up to pay their bills, and went their separate ways.
'Funny,' Jack mused on his way over to the schoolyard. 'In some ways Janet knows me better than Sara ever did. She knows my whole medical history. Every mission I was ever injured on.' Sara had looked at his scars in distress. Doctor Janet Frasier looked at them like a soldier, as evidence of a soldier's life.
Jack O'Neill put those thoughts aside as he got to the school ground and found a herd of children and parents --- and one very relieved teacher -glad that it would be Colonel Jack giving the instructions.