Title: “Conversation in the Kitchen”
Status: Complete – Part of Series
Category: Hurt/Comfort Romance
Pairings: Jack/Janet Janet developing Romance
Sequel/Series Info: “Strength and Courage”
CONTENT LEVEL: C
Content Warnings: none
Summary: A rough day for Jack O’Neill deepens his relationship with Janet Fraiser
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: 63 kb
Archive: Please ask
Author’s Notes: My thanks to Wendy for her beta-read and excellent suggestions on how to improve my story
As Janet Fraiser walked towards the seedy bar, she wished she was anyplace but here. Fraiser’s internal sensors were on high alert. She knew that this was a bad area of town, but she didn’t have a choice. Her car had broken down a block away, and this was the only building that had any lights on. Janet had already phoned AMA on her cell phone, and then called a cab. AMA promised to pick up her car first thing in the morning, but while the bar seemed on the seamy side, waiting for a cab alone in the dark seemed like a much worse idea.
The night had started so pleasantly. Cassie had arranged a sleepover at a friend’s house, and Janet’s friend, Samantha Carter had decided that they needed a girl’s night out. They had a nice dinner that did not include mystery meat or blue jello – Sam specifically ordered fish – she had muttered something about everything in her life tasting like chicken. Then they had gone to see a romantic comedy at the theater. The night rounded off about , with both of them knowing they needed to be at
Janet Fraiser had been in enough combat zones in her military career that her first instinct when entering a strange place was to look around and assess the situation. There weren’t that many patrons in the bar, but Fraiser’s petite stature had attracted notice from some of the less-desirable clientele. Janet had less worry than many women would have in her place. While she didn’t plan on being here for long, she also knew how to handle herself if it came to that. Janet had been advised to train in hand-to-hand combat before her deploy to
As Janet analyzed the situation, her eyes settled on a silver haired man sitting facing away from her at the bar. The leather jacket was familiar, as was the body-build. If Janet didn’t know better she would think it might be Colonel Jack O’Neill, and if the number of glasses in front of him was any indication, a very drunk Jack O’Neill. But Fraiser knew the Colonel well enough to know that getting himself totally hammered in a bar was not something that he would ordinarily think of doing. Getting totally plastered in the privacy of his own home --- maybe --- but NOT when he knew that a meeting with the brass was scheduled for the next morning. She looked at the mirror over the bartender, and winced. She had hoped it was a case of mistaken identity. The face looking back at her in the Mirror was either Jack O’Neill or his twin. Janet took a quick look outside again. Yes, that was Jack O’Neill’s truck half-way down the block.
“This is not good. This is SO not good.” Janet muttered, under her breath. She wondered what might have brought this on. Janet ran through recent conversations she had with the colonel, and recalled a talk they had few days ago after one of Cassie’s soccer games. O’Neill had mentioned that his ex-wife had asked him to come over tonight. The Colonel had told Janet that he had been working on having a better relationship with Sara. “I know we’ll never get back together.” he had said. “There’s been too much water under the bridge, and she’s been dating someone else pretty exclusively --- but I hope we can be friends again. I think Charlie would like that.” Janet looked up at the ceiling and sighed. She began to walk forward. The conversation with Sara must not have gone well.
Janet Fraiser approached the man at the bar. “Colonel O’Neill”, she said quietly. “What are you doing here?”
Jack turned and looked at the little doctor with masked eyes. “Well, now. Doc! What a pleasant surprise” he said, genially. “Max.” he said, turning to the bartender, “Bring the lady a drink.”
Max looked at her questioningly. She shook her head. Max nodded, and said “I don’t think so, Colonel. And I already told you – you’re cut off for the night. You can pick up your truck tomorrow.” He nodded to a glass bowl filled with keys on the shelf behind him. “You know you’re not getting your keys back.”
Fraiser made a quick decision. She had to get him sobered up before meeting the guests from the Pentagon tomorrow morning. The only way to do that was to take him to her house, and to call his team. “Colonel.” She said. “I’ve already called a cab. It’s time to head home.” Janet did not like the flash of brittle anger than passed over his face when she made that statement.
“Home, Doc!” Jack snarled. “That’s a laugh! Don’t you know that you can never go home again?” He rubbed one hand quickly through his hair, and turned away. “I’m going to the can.” Jack got up, and walked to the back of the bar. Janet knew he had been drinking a fair amount, but although he lurched once, he still had a measure of control.
Max looked after him with sympathetic eyes. “Do you know him?” Max inquired.
“We work together.” Fraiser said. Her voice softened. “He’s a friend.”
Max nodded, understandingly “I thought he’d gotten better,” he said, as he cleared away the glasses and wiped the bar. “It’s been a long time since he was in here. Tonight must be the first time in more than three years.”
Janet looked over at Max, wondering what had brought Jack here, tonight. “He used to come in here a lot?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah – a lot.” Max confirmed, leaning on the bar. He sighed, heavily. “Right after his kid died. I don’t know what happened.” He shrugged, as then leaned back, as he checked to see what was going on in the rest of the bar. “Only thing I knew about it was that he blamed himself.” Max continued distractedly. “Then one day, it was like he got a new lease on life. He came in, and settled up his bar tab. Said he was off to save the world. I figured he got religion, or joined the Peace Corps, or something. That’s the last I’ve seen of him until tonight. Looks like life kicked him in the teeth again.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Janet said sadly. Then she said more forcefully, “and I don’t think I want to let it. I’ll take his keys, and drive him home.” She held out her hand for them.
Max nodded. “Can I see some ID first?” he asked.
Janet flashed her military ID card at him, and his eyes raised slightly. “Doctors have gotten a whole lot prettier than when I was in the service.” He said dryly as he fished the keys out of the bowl. Janet smiled wryly.
”Can you cancel the cab I called?” Janet asked.
Max laughed harshly. “No need.” He said. “Cab companies don’t make pick-ups in this neighborhood after dark.”
Janet looked at him sharply, but then noticed Jack coming back towards the bar. She nodded her thanks to Max, and went to meet him.
“Jack,” Janet said. “Let’s go get in your truck. I’m taking you home.”
She grasped O’Neill’s arm and began to steer him towards the door. They got only two steps before Jack began protesting, saying that he could walk from here, and something about ‘conduct unbecoming.’ Janet was about to respond, when her internal alarm sounded loud and clear. She looked around quickly, feeling Jack become alert beside her. “Oh Crap!” she murmured. The door was blocked the 6 undesirable patrons that had been ogling her when she had first arrived.
“Where are you going pretty lady?” One of them sneered. “I’m twice the man that he is.” The others drunks closed ranks, leering heavily. Janet felt, rather than saw, the transformation that took place in Jack’s personality beside her. Tough but loveable Colonel Jack O’Neill was no longer present. Black-Ops colonel had taken over. She nodded quietly, and drew herself up to full-height (small as it was) and ran through her own combat options. The men fell back for a second. They had seen the transformations, too. Any one of them would have backed off – but they thought that 6 of them ought to be able to take on one old soldier and a tiny little woman. The thugs looked at each other smugly, and then they all attacked at once.
The attackers never stood a chance. Janet had taken out one, and Jack had taken down two before they heard Max behind them saying “THAT’S ENOUGH”, and heard the unmistakable cocking of a double-barreled shotgun. “You three, move over there.” Max said harshly to the standing thugs. “You’re cut off. You will settle your tabs TONIGHT – and you WILL NOT come back to my establishment again.” Then Max gestured to Jack and Janet. “You two get out of here. I will wait 5 minutes before I let these idiots leave. Be gone before then.”
Janet Fraiser’s mind was working a mile a minute. Perhaps she could turn this situation to her advantage. She would appeal to the Colonel’s protective nature. Janet reached over and touched Jack’s arm. “Perhaps you would be good enough to see me away from here safely?” she asked quietly. “I’ll drive, and you keep an eye out.” The Colonel nodded. “Good idea,” he said, fiercely. Black Ops Colonel had not left the building, and O’Neill fixed a glare on the remaining thugs. They blanched, stepped back, and moved to the spot Max had indicated very quickly. Jack and Janet moved out of the bar, and got into his truck. They were both a bit on edge, with adrenalin keeping them alert to possible dangers. Janet turned the key, and began driving towards her house.
Janet’s house wasn’t really all that far, but she took her time, knowing that they both needed to calm down. When they arrived at Janet’s house, she thanked him for protecting her, then invited him inside for coffee, and so he could get cleaned up. Janet pulled on her professional persona, and said “I am going to tend to that cut over your eye. This is not how you want to look when we meet with the brass tomorrow.”
Janet sent Jack to the bathroom to wash up, and asked him to bring her doctor’s bag from the front closet. While he was doing that Janet made a quick call to Sam and left a message on her machine explaining the situation. Janet knew that Sam would get back to her as soon as she made it home, and would contact anyone else she needed. By the time Jack came into the kitchen a moment later the coffee (extra strong) was brewing in the pot. He pulled a stool up to the counter and sat as she poured both of them a cup of coffee.
“It looks like you had a rough night.” Janet said, kindly. “Whatever Sara wanted to talk to you about must not have gone well.”
O’Neill looked shaken for a moment, and then remembered their earlier conversation. He sighed, and slumped down on a stool by the counter. Then he shrugged, and looked down into his coffee cup. “Oh, I think it went very well for her.” Jack said grimly. “She is getting married to a periodontist from Denver, and wanted to let me know that she sold the house. She’s moving next week.” He snorted, and stood up brusquely, facing away from Janet as he continued, “The house that we raised Charlie in.” The tone of his voice was so brittle it could cut glass. “She cleared out his room, and donated most of the stuff to good-will. She called me over to give me a handful of photos, his glove and ball, his old ball cap, a father-son fishing trophy we had won. Everything else was already gone.”
Janet winced. ‘yep. Kick in the teeth time.’ She thought, silently seething at the woman who had hurt him like this.
Jack rubbed one hand over his short hair, and looked over his shoulder at Janet. He didn’t see any pity --- just a caring friend. He turned around, and leaned on the counter. “I forgot all about the meeting tomorrow,” Jack continued, wearily. “I was stunned. I looked around the yard, and I saw so many changes. The tree-house I built Charlie was gone. The realtor told Sara it was an eye-sore. The rose bush I planted for him had been replaced by a cherry tree. It was like losing Charlie all over again. The last place that I had remnants of his life had been ripped away.”
Jack looked down at the floor for a moment. “Stupid of me to try and get drunk, though” he said, frankly. “Getting drunk doesn’t change anything.” He looked over at Janet, as if checking for judgment on his lack of common sense. “It doesn’t even make you forget anything. It just makes you maudlin. It was an old defense mechanism.” His eyes focused on the wall above her, and he frowned, obviously angry at himself. “It was like I was on auto-pilot. I got in the truck and started driving, and that was where I found myself.”
Janet reflected for a moment. In the back of her mind she mused ‘Jack O’Neill must be really upset to lose the ‘dumb colonel routine’. While others might be fooled by his act, Janet knew enough of his jacket to know that he could speak a fair number of languages, and had the usual education required to reach his rank. He was also much too hard on himself. She shook her head, and knew how she had to handle this.
“Yeah, that wasn’t the smartest thing you’ve done, Colonel.” She said sagely. “But I think it was understandable. Now, let’s take a look at that cut.”
Janet opened her doctor’s kit, and moved around the counter to make a brief assessment of the damage. Jack sat on the stool, and waited while she turned to get some items out of her kit. “If this isn’t too deep, and if I handle it right, it may not even be visible tomorrow morning --- but I’ll have to redo it properly after the brass leave. Are you okay with that?”
“That would be good. “ Jack said. “I get in enough trouble with the brass, as it is --- and they know I haven’t been off-world this week. He reached for his coffee cup and took a large sip. “This was a good idea, too.” He said, motioning to the coffee. “Thanks.”
Janet took a sip of her own, wondering how she would get to sleep tonight. But she needed to be awake, at least until this problem was resolved. Janet turned to him, and laughingly commented “Fortunately, those morons didn’t have any fighting skills. That appears to be the only damage. It would have been bad for both of us to show up tomorrow morning with black eyes “
Jack almost spat his coffee out, when she said that. He began to chuckle, picturing the diminutive doctor with a shiner. Janet smiled at his reaction, and took another mouthful from her coffee cup. She had barely put the cup down when the telephone rang. It was Sam Carter, returning her call.
The conversation was brief. Janet hung up the phone and turned back to O’Neill. “I called Sam while you were cleaning up.” Janet explained. “She and Daniel are coming by to pick up you and your truck in a few minutes. They’ll drive you home after you’re done here so you can get some sleep and a clean uniform for the morning.” Janet looked over to see Jack nodding in agreement.
Janet Fraiser realized that it was time to get a move on. She smiled briskly, and commented. “It will be a while before they’ll get here, though. I want to take another look at that cut, now. I need to see how deep it is.”
Janet walked around the counter, and moving his face to get a good angle for the light, she leaned close to take a good look at the cut. As Janet leaned back and looked Jack in the eye, she realized just how close she was to him. She had a moment’s temptation to kiss the cut and make it better, but shook it off. Janet closed her eyes and took a deep breath, stepping back into her doctor persona, she repeated the mantra. ‘This is my patient. I am his doctor.’ three times over in her mind, and then opened her eyes to face a bemused Jack O’Neill.
“I do appreciate this Doc.” Jack commented. “It’s a lot better than showing up bruised and hung-over.” He looked at her flushed face, and laughed “Man, I wish I could read minds right now.” He chuckled.
‘I’m glad you can’t’ Janet thought to herself, as she began to dress the wound, using a topical anesthetic, and then putting a few stitches inside. She used the new glue that they were trying out instead of stitches on field-wounds, and covered that with a bit of make-up. Finally she held up a small mirror for Jack to see. “Barely noticeable” he whispered. It seemed as if he was having a hard time breathing evenly. Janet flushed, realizing that while the outfit she wore out tonight was modest, it was a lot more form fitting than the uniform and white lab-coat she wore during the day.
She turned around hastily, and went around the counter. “I think I need some more coffee.” She said, quickly. “How about you?”
Jack nodded. He got up and paced the kitchen as she refreshed both their cups. Janet knew that he was still processing everything that happened tonight. Jack turned, looking over at her defensively, and said, “Janet. I may have started to drink pretty heavy – but I’m not that drunk. I wouldn’t drive anywhere. I’m not a total idiot!” He hesitated, as if still unsure of his words. “But inside I knew that it wasn’t doing any good to get drunk. If Max hadn’t cut me off, I would have cut myself off. This was all just” - he gestured with one hand as he sat down on the stool, and stared at the countertop. “It was just a shock to the system.”
Jack took a sip of the fresh coffee, and went on, wearily. “It went bad tonight. I knew that it was over with Sara, and that she had moved on to a new guy. I even met him. He seems nice.” His eyes were down-cast for a moment as he stared into his cup, but then he looked over at her with a lost expression on his face, and sighed. “I guess I hoped we could be friends. Now, I know that’s impossible! I think we can be” Jack laughed harshly. “Good acquaintances. But I don’t think that friendship is in the works. Not after this.” Jack grabbed a spoon and stirred his coffee. When he looked up his face was full of resignation. “When Sara told me the room was cleared out, she looked almost relieved. It was as if she was moving on from Charlie. I can see moving on from me --- but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave Charlie behind. I could never leave that part of my life behind.” Jack declared adamantly, pounding one hand on the counter so hard that it made his cup jump, and slosh over the side.
Janet grabbed a rag and handed it to him. Then she looked him in the eye, and said firmly, “I don’t think you’d be the man you are if you could.” Her tone softened, and she reached across the counter to place one hand on top of his, as she continued. “You don’t leave people behind. Not even in your memories.” Janet tossed the rag into the sink, and turned away for a moment. When she turned back Jack was surprised to see anger on her face. Janet’s eyes narrowed, as she declared, bluntly “And I don’t think much of how she did it. If it were me, you would have known before the house even went up for sale. This was not the way to do it.”
Jack nodded, struck by the futility of it all. He honestly could not understand how Sara could have changed so much. But then he was a much different man than the one she married, he reflected. ‘Experiences change us. Not always for the better.’ he thought. Jack took another sip of his coffee, thinking back over the evening. He averted his eyes from Janet, and continued miserably. “When she told me she looked almost like she was gloating. As if she was choosing how I got to remember Charlie by the things she was allowing me to have. Funny thing is, that it was mostly what I would have chosen. But I would have liked to have been able to choose.” He slumped over the counter, resting his face wearily in his hands.
Janet’s heart was filled with compassion. She reached over, and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I know.” She said. “When my Mom died, I was in Bosnia. My sister’s closed up the house, and divided everything between them. I was given a dresser, a couple of side-tables, and a box with a few items, but I didn’t get to choose.” She leaned back and closed her eyes, remembering the arguments she had had afterwards, but continued, “Some of the things that meant the most to me were sold or given away. All it would have taken was putting things into a storage unit for 6 months until I returned from duty – but they didn’t do that. And it hurt. Not near as much as this I expect, but it still hurt.”
Jack nodded. He could tell that she understood. But he hated talking about this stuff, and couldn’t understand why he was sharing this stuff with her. “It must be the alcohol” he thought, forgetting for a moment that this was just one of many conversations they had shared recently. He decided it was time to change the subject, and lighten the mood. “By the way, where did you learn to fight like that?” Jack asked.
Janet Fraiser chuckled. “I’m in the military, Colonel”. She shrugged, self-dismissively. “I was in the gulf, Somalia, and Bosnia, and a few lesser actions. Going into a war zone it just made sense to have a bit of hand-to-hand training. Working at the SGC, it made a whole lot more sense to keep it up. And going off world?” Janet smiled as she raised both hands in an expressive all-encompassing gesture. “Well, as much as I trust the SG teams I go with, I am a doctor, and I don’t like to be unprepared. I am there as a physician, but I can also handle a P90 and a handgun if the need arrives – although I hope it never does.” Janet leaned forward with both hands on the counter. “I swore two oaths to my professions – my oath as a soldier and my oath as a physician – and I try my damnedest to fulfill both.”
Janet walked back to her medical bag and began to clean up, putting away the items she had used on Jack. He was still sitting at the stool. He looked over at her, then reached out and touched her arm. “Thanks, Doc.” He said sincerely. It was as if an electric shock ran up through her shoulder. When she looked over into the rich brown eyes, her heart began to beat faster. Jack caressed her arm with his thumb, his eyes focused on her lips, clearly thinking about what it would be like to kiss her.
Janet’s mind began to run a thousand miles a minute. ‘I want this. No, I don’t’ Oh, who was she kidding! ‘Yes, I do – but I want it when he is sober, and not going to regret it in the morning.’ She put on her professional face, and walked back around the counter. Jack stared for a moment, a bit uncertain. Then he got up, and followed Janet, standing very close to her on the other side. He put his hand on her arm, and stared into her eyes. As Janet looked into his smoldering brown eyes, she knew what he was seeing when he looked into hers. Jack smiled, putting one hand on her waist, and beginning to pull her just a bit closer. Their lips were almost touching when they heard the front door open.
When Sam and Daniel entered the kitchen they found Jack back in his seat, taking a long sip from his cup of coffee, and Janet putting away the remains of her doctor’s bag. Jack looked at her over the top of the cup with a mischievous glint in his eye. She wondered how he would feel about this in the morning. She knew that there would be more to this conversation, even if it was just denial, and blaming it on the alcohol. But that would have to take place another day.
As the team left her house she reminded him to drop by the infirmary in the morning, and she would touch up the cut with a bit more glue before meeting the brass. Then she handed him some extra-strong analgesics to help any hangover problems.
Jack got into his truck with Daniel at the wheel, and Sam got into her jeep. As they drove away Janet saw Jack throw one glance back at Janet standing in the doorway. She shook her head, and repeated the mantra “This is my patient. I am his doctor” in her head. It wasn’t quite working. She knew that her behavior tonight wasn’t totally professional, but it was becoming harder and harder to put on that façade around Jack O’Neill. It felt like he could see right through her. She knew that whatever it had been that had drawn them together wasn’t going away, either. If anything it was getting stronger. Janet couldn’t kid herself either. She wanted it. She sighed, as she shut the door. She would have to wait and see what tomorrow would bring.