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Advent Calendar - Day 23 - Fic

Advent Calendar - Day 23 for the advent calendar on sj_everyday

Title: Plan A Never Works

Author: Thothmes

Season: Post-Series, established relationship

Spoilers: Not really. You've been introduced to Cassie, and you know her tendency to... misplace mothers, right? You know that SG-1 isn't just the original four, right? Okay. Good to go.

Warnings: Only for the youngest. It mentions [whispering] sex, but you'd probably get more actual titillation from your average PG rated James Bond flick.

Synopsis: The best laid plans of Colonels and Generals gang aft a' gley. But don't worry, there's always Plan B. Oh, and cake. Plenty of it.

Disclaimer: [wails] What do you mean, they aren't mine and I have to give them back? But I likessss them! They're ssso pretty, and nice, and besides, I wantssss them, I doesss! You have plenty of money in your pocketses, and I'm not getting any money in mine! Yesssss, you owes me a chance to play with them, yessss you do. I makesss them happy, I doessss. I givessss them what they wantsssses!




Plan A Never Works



Jack and Sam had a master plan for the perfect Christmas. They took the long view. They knew that their first Christmas together would not be perfect. Although their years as a unit in the field had taught them to work with each other with almost preternatural synchronization when military matters were involved, when they finally got together as a couple, they found that they had a great deal to learn about each other as people. Given how seamlessly they worked in tandem in the field, it was a bit of a conundrum to them why they seemed destined for collision and confusion when they shared a kitchen. Considering that Jack had tolerated Sam's tightly-wound and perfectionist tendencies as an officer and a scientist, and his backhanded compliments on the subject had even made it clear that he found it... well, Sam liked to hope... she rather thought that he found it endearing, it was a little puzzling why he found it such an invasion of his space and autonomy when she bought him little organizer inserts like she had in her own drawers for his socks, and sorted them by color. He couldn't get why, having gotten further exposure to the joy and wonder that was the Simpsons, Sam just couldn't watch an episode straight through without multi-tasking. No, the first Christmas together was never going to be perfect. They knew that from the moment they launched the first salvo in The Battle Over Tinsel, which was but the first skirmish in The War of the Tree, pitting Sam, who favored using a tape measure to make sure that the ornaments were evenly spaced, against Jack, who believed that spontaneity was necessary or the tree would lack feeling and homegrown appeal.

Eventually they settled on a natural tree in the corner furthest from the fireplace, with a small artificial tree in the little alcove to the right of the fireplace. Sam placed her collection of snowflake ornaments and red and green glass balls on that tree, while Jack spent hours finding the dead bulb in his set of flashing, colored Christmas tree lights, scattered tinsel over the limbs with abandon and childish glee, and rejoiced early and often about the wonder and delight of a house filled with the scent of evergreen. Sam had nearly fled the room, panicked that her face would show all too clearly her heartbreak and sympathy, as he opened an aging shoebox and crowned his tree with a battered toilet paper tube, construction paper, yarn, and glitter angel, but Jack had grinned happily and proudly at this crowning glory, and announced “It's wonderful to have a chance to actually use this. I haven't put up a tree in years, so I've been saving this since Cassie gave it to me. Don't you think it's just what this tree needs?”

Not, mind you, that their first Christmas together wasn't wonderful. It was. It was also chaotic, with Teal'c and Daniel flying in from the SGC to make it in time for Christmas dinner, and Cassie skyping in from her ski trip with a bunch of her fellow college students, and even the occasional intrusion of Air Force business into their day of rest. A great Christmas, but they knew they could do better, and as Jack ripped into the last candy cane, and Sam began to organize her squares of bubble wrap and her boxes to pack up her ornaments, they began to discuss the way that first Christmas had gone, how surprisingly complicated it had been to work it all out satisfactorily, and what they would do better next time. Sam was feeling a bit discouraged (or was it simple post-Christmas let down?) but Jack was undaunted.

“We've got flow where it counts, Carter. If it took this much negotiation to get it together in there -” here he hooked a thumb in the general direction of their bedroom “as it did to work out all this, I might be a little... concerned... well, okay, freaked out. We'll work it out, and we'll get it right next time.”

By this time Sam was snugged in close on the sofa, her head on his shoulder, and the reassuring weight of his arm pressing down on her shoulder, experiencing again the paradoxical delight of feeling the vast calm that surrounded her in moments like these, when he was so clearly, demonstrably, empirically there, coupled with the inevitable quickening of her pulse and her breathing that his presence wrought. Worries and troubles were pretty far away, for this moment, in a bubble of space and time apart from the push and pull of their working world. They'd work on it. They'd talk. They'd get it right next year.

Well, not exactly.

There was the year that SG-1 were blocked off from the gate, forced to wait for a prior to finish his proselytizing and move on, and there was the year that they all spent in the infirmary before Daniel pulled through. Then there was the year she was in Atlantis, and the year that the Hammond was en route to a distant planet on a mission of mercy. There was the year that the weather in Washington was worse and harder to wade through than the lies and the rhetoric of the politicians, and Jack had been stuck on the ice-slicked tarmac at Andrews, while Sam found herself alone in Minnesota. They'd had plenty of years now to talk it over, and they had a Plan. It was all worked out.

They would meet at the cabin, just the two of them. There was already an artificial tree, left over from Sam's solo Christmas, and Jack had shipped most of the ornaments that year. The fragile ones, and the angel in its shoe box would be packed carefully in the center of his luggage, in accordance with the 3 pages of instructions and diagrams that Sam had sent him. They would harvest a natural tree from the surrounding woods to be Jack's There would be pie (Jack's job – he'd learned from his grandmother) and Sam and her beloved instant-read thermometer would tackle a roast of beef, and golden brown pan-roasted potatoes. There would be eggnog (“There's gotta be nog, Carter!”) and burgundy (“Wine, with dinner, though, Jack! Eggnog wouldn't go with the roast beef. Too heavy!”) and popcorn roasted over the fire. There would be snow (“Minnesota wouldn't fail me in that, Sam!”) and probably a snowball fight or two (“Yeah, well that's what you said about the arm-wrestling, too, as I recall, and look how that turned out!” “You cheated! That smile gets me every time, and you knew it!”) and plenty of cuddling. Gifts were a minor afterthought, although Jack had insisted that here be stockings, because really, you're never too old for stockings. Really the gift would be time, time together.

But something was wrong. Jack heard a certain wistfulness in Sam's voice when she spoke of Daniel's plan to take Teal'c and Vala to New York and take in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, tour around Fifth Avenue and take in all the holiday window displays, and see the Rockettes. Vala was apparently less focused on seeing the sights of Christmas than Teal'c, but was already bouncing up and down like a manic yo-yo at the prospect of getting to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Jack mentioned with careful blandness that Cassie, her husband, and the kids would be staying in Colorado Springs this year, because Lucas was on duty Christmas Eve, and had Sam skyped them recently enough to see how big Little Jack was getting, and how baby Jan was starting a genuine social smile? Clearly the plan, like every Plan A in the history of SG-1, was not going to be a success. They each mulled this over, and they independently came to a clear decision. It was time for Plan B. No time like the present. They each made a call.

So it was that The Plan was modified. Jack suggested that in view of the fact that they had not been together in such a very long time (and the look he gave her as he delivered that word was heated enough to warm the vacuum of space between Homeworld and the Hammond to room temperature!) they wouldn't want to have to worry about dinner every night. They'd make the one big Christmas meal, and then coast on the leftovers for a while. Sam made a counter offer of two big meals, so the menu could be varied enough to stay interesting. The way her voice dipped when she said that word made Jack feel like he must look as lost in a hormonal fog as Daniel had after Sha're had planted one on him in the pyramid at Abydos, to the delighted and teasing hoots of their friends.. So the meal originally planned for Christmas would be prepared for Christmas Eve, and they'd keep busy on Christmas making a second meal, this time with lamb, and mint jelly, wild rice, sweet potatoes, green beans (because Jack had made his feelings about lima beans unmistakeably clear, probably even as far away as the Moon Base), and of course, cake.

To go with all that food there would have to be extra activity. Not just snowball fights, but forts to stage them from. This year they'd clear the pond for skating. They'd go snow shoeing. And they wouldn't skimp on the activities indoors, either. There would be sex. Plenty of sex. Plan B would be perfect.

In this fallen world, nothing is ever completely perfect. It began on Christmas Eve morning when Sam, bleary-eyed and bed-headed at the early hour of 10 a.m., came in as Jack was just pulling the last of the pies out of the oven. She simply could not believe that Jack actually thought that they could eat that many pies over a period of five days, because of course the other five were to be devoted to cake, and there was already more cake in the mouse-proof wire-meshed section of the pantry than anyone could expect them to go through.

“Apple, Key Lime, Blueberry, Cherry, and Pumpkin” Jack had replied indignantly. “Variety is the spice of life, Carter!”

Between the allure of the fresh coffee he brewed her, and the other kind of variety they'd delighted in not too long afterwards (“This plenty of sex thing, Carter? Soooo working for me!” “Mmmmm, yes!”), things went quite smoothly after that until Sam pulled out the roast to start to get it all trimmed and seasoned before putting it in the oven.

“That's not a roast, Sam! That's a side of beef! D.C.'s been cruel enough to my girlish figure! Are you trying to finish an old man off with a fatal heart attack?”

Sam countered that he might not be as lean as he had been in the field, but his vitality was doing just fine as far as she was concerned, and how about he started peeling the potatoes.?

Jack considered this for a minute, and decided that preening was vastly more fun than yanking her chain, so he hauled out the massive bag of potatoes, and began working smoothly, almost choreographically with Sam to get the huge meal ready for the table. They'd learned some things along the way

They were both regarding the table with consternation, and wondering how to handle this challenge, an obvious failure of planning, when they were saved by the bell. Someone was clearly leaning on it, while someone else was knocking. They both fled from the table like saints escaping mortal sin, and fled for the door. Sam, having been nearer, flung open the door and cried “At last! I've been expecting you for hours!”

Her voice trailed off almost imperceptibly at the end, and she looked out into the winter darkness behind them.

Teal'c bowed his head regally, and Vala, awaiting no invitation, skipped quickly in the door.

“You have?” asked Daniel, perplexed, looking at Jack, who shrugged. “Cam sends his regrets. He's visiting his folks instead.”

“What can I say? Carter's smarter than the average bear, I guess,” said Jack. Then addressing her directly he said, “You seemed a little left out of the fun your old team was having, so I decided to ask them to stop here for Christmas on their way, and they'll go do the tourist thing a couple of days late.”

“You should join us, darling!” added Vala. “Bring your General along. Maybe if he wears his uniform he can dazzle his way into getting us better seats!”

“Ahht!!! No Class A's on my time off!” was all Jack said, and then the hugging, the cheek kissing, and the back patting began in earnest.

The first frenetic exchanges of news had just begun to die back and the table issue was about to rear its ugly head again, when there was a second knock on the door. Jack, clearly startled, and not a little perturbed, was first to the door, and opened it abruptly, only to be attacked. His assailant went right for his weakest point, that oft-injured knee, and nearly bowled him over. He might have succeeded if he'd been larger, but at 2 ½ years of age, Jack still outweighed him by a considerable amount. Having not yet brought down his prey to his own level, the assailant began an alternate attack, jumping up and down in the general vicinity of Jack's socked feet and yelling “G'ampa Dzack! G'ampa Dzack! G'ampa Dzack! I'se here! I'se here!” Reinforcements, in the shape of Lucas and Cassie, with little Jan were right behind him.

If anyone was ever delighted to have his borders overrun, it was Jack O'Neill. He swung the excited boy up to where he could pat his Grampa Jack's cheeks and kiss him on his nose, and his entire posture radiated that sense of peace and delight that children always brought out in the man. Shifting the boy so he was supported only by his left arm, he freed his right to shake hands with Lucas, and gather Cassie and her precious bundle in with his right arm. He beamed over Cassie's head at Sam.

His victory complete, his small assailant gave the impatient wiggle that is universal among children to signal when they want to be put down again, and Jack released him to go and greet “G'ama Sam”. He looked down at the face of the baby girl in Cassie's arms, and recognizing a human face, Janny smiled. He was lost, completely, utterly, totally, lost. He was now a wholly owned subsidiary of Janet Carter Williams.

“Hold her, Jack!” said Cassie, transferring her into his arms. Sam, with Little Jack in her arms, Teal'c looming comfortably behind her, and Daniel by her side, watched with delight as big, tough, gruff Jack O'Neill let his inner teddy bear come out and play, right there in front of everybody, all unashamed. Vala's eyes might have been a little extra shiny at the sight, or maybe it was just the lighting.

And then, with the table problem all solved, now that secrecy was no longer needed and the requisite place settings could be laid out without giving away the surprise, there was feasting (“Unco Teek can eat lotsa-lotsa pie, Mommy!”), explaining (“When Sam said you seemed sad that you hadn't gotten to see the munchkins recently, Luke said he'd see if he could switch duty with Captain Birnbaum, and here we are!”) and laughter (“So lemme get this straight, Jack. You were trying to make enough food for SG-1 to come without Sam knowing, and you were trying to do the same for us without Jack knowing, and each of you thought you'd pulled the wool over the other's eyes? This was your big Plan B?” ) and corn popped in the fire place, and stories (“Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house...”), and stocking hanging, and finally there was bed time.

Sam and Cassie, without needing to say a word to one another, both drifted silently to where they could overhear that.

“Knot, knot! Sleep, tot! Don't let the bed bugs... bot.”

“No, G'ampa Dzack! Dats wong!”

“Oh. Huh. Oh, I got it now. Note, note! Sleep, tote! Don't let the bed bugs boat!”

“Nooo! Stop the sillies! Do it wight!”

“ I think you're going to have to help me! How does it go, again”

“Night-night! Sleep tight! Don't let da' bed bugs BITE!”

“They wouldn't dare, you sound so fierce! I'm going to sleep soundly tonight, knowing you're here, I tell ya'. Now you close your eyes and lie very still and quiet, so Santa can come!”

Then the grown-ups chatted far into the night, and gave Santa material aid and assistance in the matter of filling nine hopeful stockings to the brim (and finishing off an offering of milk and some pie). There were jokes (“and so then she said 'Don't worry it's just a little rain, Dear!” “That's it, Daniel, no more nog for you tonight!”) and reminiscences (“Mom told me once, that if you two ever found a way around the regulations, you'd be something special, something rare. She was right you know!”) and a great deal of companionable silence. Finally, reluctantly, but inevitably, given that Little Jack would be clamoring to see his stocking all too soon (Big Jack was almost as bad and had been caught trying to peek twice already, but had only gotten as far as the hard candy lumps of coal at the top) there was bed time.

And then, quietly, so none of the other couples would hear, there was sex.

And then, in the quiet afterwards, there was cuddling. This was, in fact, Jack's favorite part, although not even Ba'al and his sarcophagus could get him to admit something so unmanly in so many words. And there was a quiet exchange of whispers in the dark.

“Ya' gotta love that Plan B. Works like a charm!”

“I like it better than Plan A. Alone together is nice. We had that before Christmas, and we'll have it after, but Christmas alone is lonely. This is perfect.”

“Gonna hafta hit the grocery store though. The T-man sure can eat! I forgot how much.”

There was a deep silence. It was warm under the covers, wrapped in each others arms. Sam was just drifting off to sleep when she heard one last low whisper:

“Thanks, Sam. Thank you for the perfect Christmas.”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And may all your hearts be filled with peace and joy, whatever holidays you celebrate, and wherever you gather to celebrate them!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
wanderingsmith
Dec. 23rd, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
awwwwww!! :D warm fuzzies :D:D thank you
no plan survives First Contact. Plans are like rules, they are there for guidance, not to be followed to the pixel ;)

PG rated James Bond flick.
-rolls eyes- can't believe they rated that PG without even 13!! that's crazy

lolz @ disclaimer. been to see Hobbit, have we? ;D
thothmes
Dec. 23rd, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
Actually, I haven't seen The Hobbit yet, but we have a family policy that you have to have read the book to see the movie (for those movies where the book came first. No one needs to read the novelization of a Star Trek movie before they can see the film!) so I've been wearing out my voice reading to The Whirlwind so she can see it while it's still in the theaters. The disclaimer was more just because it would give people a good laugh though.

Needless to say, I won't be rushing off to see Anna Karenina anytime soon. Family policy, don't you know, well, that an an allergy to Tolstoy's grim view of families. Poor man must have come from a real corker of a one!

It was all part of the Master Plan. Grinchy story on the 12th, and warm fuzzies as the holiday draws nigh!
wanderingsmith
Dec. 23rd, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
...and the Plan survived?? ..rare..

eh. only problem with having read hte book, is the movie then often comes up short. I still rant about the lack of Battle of the Shire; was one of my fav parts of the book!!

and now this **extending** on the Hobbit... rather like double insult :(. grrr

oh well hope you enjoy the movie!

...can't say I've actually read tolstoy.. but I must have had some exposure to him because, yeah, grim, is definitely the impression I have
sjhw_tolerance
Dec. 23rd, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, how lovely. Their Christmas sounds wonderful and just perfect. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
thothmes
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. They'd forgotten, until right at the end, that Christmas is about family, and not just about giving!

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and enjoy your day with your parents!
ami_ven
Dec. 24th, 2012 07:27 am (UTC)
Of course they never use Plan A! But that's all right, because Plan B was just so awesome.
thothmes
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. As much as they enjoyed their time alone, I'm certain that time with family will make it even better.
rdamel
Dec. 24th, 2012 04:38 pm (UTC)
Great story, so perfectly "them" (meaning ALL of SG1 and their extended ranks), and a perfect Christmas Eve present for me.

Off to rec to friends, then must get busy baking for tomorrow.

Happy Holidays!
Melissa M.
thothmes
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC)
I'm envisioning you surrounded by wonderful smells wafting around, and then by happy people delighting in eating what you made. What a wonderful thing to contemplate.

Merry Christmas, and I'm glad to have brought joy!
nymaeria
Dec. 24th, 2012 09:25 pm (UTC)
oh, this is so great! I love how they each try to surprise each other at the end :) also, it gives me hope - my husband and I seem to be having trouble figuring out what our own christmas patterns should be like. too many years spent at family, doing things their way. these things do take negotiation! :)

the scene where Jack is putting Little Jack to sleep is so cute! and lol on Jack's view on cuddling! :)
thothmes
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC)
We had no trouble working out Christmas once we worked out that in my family, Christmas is a matriarchal tradition! We've had a few Christmasses with just us and the kids, when my husband was on call and could not leave the area, but for the most part we all congregated at my grandmother's and subsequently at my mom's where I am now.

Still, it does take negotiation. We had our own tinsel discusssion (handled by getting some twisted tin strips that hang from the branches, and can't endanger the cats), and my husband needed to accustom himself to the fact that our family simply refuses to have a big elaborate meal at noon. Our Christmas has been enlivened by his tradition of much carol singing, and listening to Handel's Messiah.

The bedtime scene happens often in our house, but it works really well for Jack too, I think.

Glad you enjoyed!
sharp2799
Dec. 26th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Plan B was perfect.
thothmes
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:10 am (UTC)
Yes, I think that they spent so long being parted by the regs that they assumed that time alone together would be what was perfect. They'd forgotten that Christmas is really a holiday that's all about family, and that being able to be openly together, and have family around them was what they really wanted.
holdouttrout
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:21 am (UTC)
They should know by now that Plan B is always the better option. :-)
thothmes
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
Well, if it had been a military matter, I'm sure that they would have taken it as an axiom, but they are both, I think, aware that civilian life works a bit differently, and thus they are hesitant to draw the conclusion that it would be so in civilian life too. They're fast learners though. I doubt they'll make the same mistake twice!

(Anonymous)
Nov. 23rd, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)
Just spent the day reading your Stargate fic. Your Sam/Jack gives me all the warm fuzzies! <3 Thanks for the enjoyable reads. :)
thothmes
Nov. 23rd, 2014 07:16 am (UTC)
You are very welcome. I'm glad to have amused. And of course Christmas fiction exists to cause warm fuzzies!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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A Few Words from the Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.

-The Maxims of Ptahotep

~~~~~~~~~~


In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.

- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

~~~~~~~~~~


But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.


-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

~~~~~~~~~~


To Know the Dark


To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.


-Wendell Berry

~~~~~~~~~~


Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.

-Robert Burns

~~~~~~~~~~


Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui


Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.


-Ch'ien Ch'i

~~~~~~~~~~


Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.


-Pindar

~~~~~~~~~~


Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.


-Nathalia Crane

~~~~~~~~~~


I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.


-Samuel Coleridge

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