Title: “Sitting in Silence”
Status: Complete – Part of Series
Category: Hurt/Comfort – Developing romance
Pairings: Jack and Janet Friendship. Will become a relationship later in the series
Spoilers: Anything with Charlie or Cassie, and the previous two stories in this series, “Got to Make it Home” and “Waking Up.”
Sequel/Series Info: “Strength and Courage”
CONTENT LEVEL: C
Content Warnings: none
Summary: Jack has a hard time at the zoo. Janet is there to help him get through it.
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: 42 kb
Archive: Please ask
Author’s Notes: The quote listed is attributed to David Tyson Gentry. This story takes place about 2 – 3 weeks after the events of “Waking Up”.
My thanks to Wendy for her beta-read and excellent suggestions on how to improve my story. I really appreciate it
“SITTING IN SILENCE”
Jack O’Neill sat on the bench at the zoo, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining overhead, and the first warm breeze of Spring caressed his face. The returning song birds sang warm songs of welcome to one another, but that didn’t begin to touch the icy darkness that was grasping at his heart. He knew this had been a bad idea. ‘How did I let Daniel talk me into this’ O‘Neill thought despairingly, followed by ‘How can I get out of here.’
He heard footsteps approaching, and didn’t look up, thinking it was Daniel coming to check on him. He felt a hand on his shoulder – much too small to be Daniel’s – and heard a familiar voice.
“All Right, Colonel.” Doctor Janet Frasier was saying, “How bad does it hurt --- on a scale from one to ten.”
He looked up in surprise then glanced over to where he had left Daniel and Teal’c. Cassie was standing with them, all three looking worriedly in his direction.
“Doc.” Jack said, taken aback. ‘of course.’ He thought to himself. ‘This would happen to me.’ He sighed, and said belligerently. “I’m OK. Peachy.”
“That’s not what Teal’c and Daniel told me.” Janet said, with one eyebrow raised. “When they saw Cassie and me over by the elephant enclosure they ambushed us. Daniel looked scared. They said you complained about being ‘in pain and tired, and that you wanted to sit down and rest’. Then I got scared. I know you, Colonel O’Neill. It would take being at death’s door to make you complain about being tired and in pain. She reached out and placed her cool hand on his forehead. “I was worried about infection setting in, but your temperature doesn’t seem to indicate any fever.”
Dr. Janet Frasier looked at O’Neill. She stood with arms crossed, a slight frown on her face. “All Right.” Janet said firmly. “What gives?”
Jack had been cleared to return to duty after the incident on the planet with Cronus’ warriors only a few days before. ‘Great’. He thought sullenly. ‘Unless I tell her the truth I’m going to be stuck on base until she thinks I’m OK.’ O’Neill looked down at the ground, averting his eyes. He sighed, and then looked up into Janet’s face. “I lied to Danny & T.” He said with a sigh. “I’m feeling fine.”
“If you pardon me saying so, Colonel, I’ll be the judge of that “Janet said, severely. “– I have my doctor’s bag out in the car, and it will take me only a second to go get it.” Frasier gestured to Daniel and Teal’c that Jack seemed to be fine, and motioned to them to take Cassie back to the African exhibit, and move ahead. They nodded, and began to move off, with Cassie running ahead. Janet turned, and was preparing to go to her car for the doctor’s bag when she felt Jack’s hand grasp her arm and stop her.
“I’m fine, Doc.” Jack said forcefully.
Frasier turned, and completed her assessment. The Colonel’s eyes were clear. The grip on her arm showed plenty of strength. There were no pain lines around his eyes. Skin tone was normal – not pale or flushed. There was definitely some incongruity here.
Janet sat down beside Jack on the bench. She looked over into his defiant face, and smiled encouragingly. “All Right, Colonel.” She asked gently, “if it isn’t pain and tiredness, then what is going on?” she asked, unwaveringly.
Jack looked down at his feet again. “I shouldn’t have come here.” He whispered harshly. “I never should have agreed to bring Teal’c here today, but Daniel wouldn’t take no for an answer. His car is in the garage, and he had promised Teal’c. Daniel even approached General Hammond to get permission to take Teal’c off base for the day.”
Janet was exasperated. Jack was still talking in circles. Something wasn’t right and she couldn’t put her finger on it. ‘What would be the reason that Jack O’Neill didn’t want to go to the zoo?’ she wondered. It came to her in a flash. “Charlie.” She said simply.
“Jack sighed, and nodded, defeatedly. “Charlie” he confirmed.
He leaned forward with his face in his hands again, then looked up at the African Exhibit entrance in the distance. “You know I don’t have that many memories of times Charlie and I spent together, just the two of us. The missions the military had for me meant I was out of town a lot.” Jack took a deep breath, and looked over at Janet. “Charlie knew I loved him more than anything, but sometimes he wished I was like other Dads who were home more. But we loved to go to this zoo. Charlie especially loved the African animal exhibit.” Jack gestured to the path that Daniel, Cassie and Teal’c had just gone down.
The Colonel stared blankly towards the entrance of the African exhibit as he continued, “The week before Charlie died I brought him here. It was one of the best times we had together. Sara had to work, so it was just the two of us. It was one of the last good memories I have of the two of us together.” Jack looked back at Janet, then averted his eyes over her head. “When the time came to go down that path today, I realized that if I did I might lose some of that memory. It wouldn’t be as clear to me if I remembered that place with someone else in it. I couldn’t do it – so I lied to Teal’c and Daniel. I told them I wasn’t feeling well, and that I wanted to sit down here while they went ahead.” Jack looked over at Janet’s face grimly, and shrugged despondently. “I couldn’t do it. I was going to tell them that I would take the bus home when they got back, and let Daniel have the keys to the truck. But the truth is that I just want to get out of here, and keep the memories I have of Charlie in this place clear.”
“Why,” Janet asked, earnestly. “Why is this place so important to you that you would scare Daniel and Teal’c that way?”
Jack looked over at her uneasily. He knew Dr. Janet Frasier was Tenacious. He had seen that part of her in action many times. Janet wasn’t going to give up until she was sure that there was nothing wrong with him. O’Neill averted his eyes for a moment, and then focused on a sign over her shoulder. When he spoke it came out in a harsh whisper. “Sometimes it helps to have a good memory to hang onto when bad ones come knocking.” He looked over at her to see if she understood. Janet still looked slightly bewildered. Jack breathed out harshly. ‘She wasn’t going to make this easy on him.’
O’Neill leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees and looked down at the ground. The next sentence was spoken so quietly that Janet had to lean forward herself to hear it. She saw Jack take a deep breath in, and breathe it out slowly. Then he admitted. “Sometimes I can’t help but remember that day – seeing the blood, holding Charlie in my arms – seeing the life fade out of his eyes. When I start to remember Charlie like that, I make myself stop by remembering this. I remember this place and him over by the lions on that last day here. His face was so happy, and joyful – and alive. I need this memory. I’m not ready to risk over-writing it by remembering this place with someone else in it. “
“Ah” Janet said in a sound of understanding and comprehension. “Good Tool, Colonel.”
O’Neill looked up at her, turning his head with a quizzical expression. “That’s not what the therapist Sara was seeing said.” he griped.
“Anything that helps you to survive a trauma like that is a good tool.” Janet said firmly.
Jack looked at her thankfully. He sat up, relieved that she had understood, knowing also that he could trust Janet to keep this between them. It was as if a burden had been released from his shoulders.
“You know.” Janet said quietly. “I think I’ll just stay here a while, too. I was on my feet all day yesterday. It was time for annual physicals. I could use a rest.” She leaned back on the bench, and stretched her legs out in front of her. “I think I’ll just wait here and let them do the walking. It will take them a while.” Janet chuckled as she explained, “The reason that I brought Cassie here was that she was asked to do a report on elephants, and of course being from” Janet looked around, and rolled her eyes, “Toronto --- she had no idea what they were. I tried to describe them, but she just wasn’t getting it. It seemed easier to come here and show her.”
Janet was laughing at the dilemma, and Jack found himself laughing with her. Before long they fell into easy conversation. They spoke about other incidents with Cassie at school, the soccer team, and the astronomy club. Soon the conversation moved on to cars (Janet thought she needed a new one), to what Sam was working on, to hockey (which Janet liked, to Jack’s surprise. She was a big fan of the Calgary Flames), and to the plaque that Janet was designing for Daniel to go above his bed as a practical joke the next time he was injured.
Jack began to relax. He even began to smile. They bought a coffee from a passing pushcart, and enjoyed the sunshine and conversation. After a while, they fell silent. Jack was astounded that he felt no pressure to talk. He looked at Janet where she sat with her eyes closed, listening to the birds in the background, and with the sun warming her face. A quote heard in some long past and ill-remembered university course came unbidden to his mind. ‘True friendship comes when silence between two people is comfortable.” That was what sitting with Janet felt like. It was like something sacred was being born.
Jack closed his eyes himself, and felt his soul at peace. The muddle of dread that had surrounded him earlier washed away as he sat in pure companionship with Janet Frasier. After a while Jack opened his eyes, and turned to look at Janet.
“Thanks, Doc.” O’Neill said, placing his hand lightly on her forearm.” Her eyes opened, and she responded simply “No problem.” Janet looked over at Jack, into his eyes, and she almost gasped when she found there a reflection of the deep bonding that she herself was feeling.
They sat there, silently for a moment, his hand on her arm, looking into each other’s eyes. For a moment time froze for the both of them, their minds going to other places – other possibilities. To hidden desires and yearnings for more, but before they could say a word to each other in confirmation or comprehension, they the far off laugh of a child, and the sound of approaching footsteps. They turned to see Cassie, Daniel and Teal’c exit the gateway. Daniel and Cassie were chatting animatedly as the trio walked down the path towards them.
“Are you well, O’Neill?” Teal’c enquired.
“Yeah – we can take you home.” Daniel chipped in worriedly
Janet broke in. “I think the Colonel just needed to rest for a moment, gentlemen.” She said with a raised eyebrow. “He didn’t take me seriously yesterday when I told him to take it easy this weekend. He’ll be fine.” She turned to Jack, and said with a wink “But I want to see you in the infirmary first thing Monday morning.”
Jack O’Neill’s eyes opened wide, then he smiled in recognition of what Janet was doing. She phrased things in a way that Daniel would not ask about what the problem had been earlier. He gave a small nod of thanks as he spoke the expected complaint. “Aw, Doc. I feel fine now.”
“You do look better, Jack.” Daniel said with relief.
Teal’c nodded. “I agree. I am most pleased to see you looking better O’Neill. Let me tell you about this ‘zoo.’ I have seen the most amazing warlike creature O’Neill. It was spotted with a long lean body. And so silent. I believe that it must be a formidable warrior.
O’Neill asked with upraised eyebrow, “A leapord?” he mouthed to Daniel.
Daniel grinned at him with childlike humour – “It was a giraffe.” He chuckled.
Janet smiled at Cassie, and said “There’s a new area of the zoo. It was built only last year to house animals from the Artic and Antarctic. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it.” She turned towards Jack and asked “Would you like to join us Colonel?”
Jack smiled. A new area of the zoo would be making new memory, not rewriting a precious older memory. “I’d like that.” he said with sincere thanks written over his face. “How about you guys? Danny? T?”
Soon all five of the friends were walking off together to see the polar bears & penguins. Cassie smiled at Colonel Jack and grasped his hand. A moment later she also grabbed Janet’s, and so the two of them followed Daniel and Teal’c towards the polar exhibit, one holding each of Cassie’s hands, in easy and companiable silence.
They were aware of the friendship they had with each other, and the affection each of them had for this precious survivor of a far off planetary disaster. They were not aware of the warm smiles they received from the strangers who passed by them, seeing what they perceived to be a loving couple taking their child to the zoo.