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Happy Birthday Zip, You Wild Thing!

This is a little something for ziparumpazoo's birthday.

Title: Wild Things
Season: Post Series. Jack is retired. Sam is still stationed on the Odyssey. Talk about a long-distance marriage!
Spoilers: None that I can think of, really
Warnings: There is an actual person in this. It kinda had to be that way for the idea to work, but if RPF is too upsetting, don't read.
Synopsis: Jack's team need help, and Sam comes through.

Jack looked at the letter in his hands, and gave a huff of frustration. He picked up a folder from the coffee table by his feet, and thrust it in with unnecessary force, and frowned unseeingly in the general direction of the television, which was currently dormant. His fit of pique attracted Sam's attention, and she looked up from the journal she was reading with an expression of concern.

"Something wrong?"

"Yes!" (vehement indignation) "No!" (swift denial) "Sort of..." (resignation mixed with mild puzzlement) "I don't wanna just sit here on my duff waiting for you to get leave and going nuts with boredom, so I do a bunch of volunteer stuff when you're... (here there were emphatic air quotes) 'out of town', and last year one of the things I did was coach a Squirts team."

Sam was clearly puzzled.

"Hockey. Squirts are the 10 and unders. This year they've got a new system for the 'Springs area, where kids can try out for an elite league, and they've asked me to coach one of those teams, at the PeeWee level. PeeWees are 12 and under. They asked me to give them a team name. I said we should call them the Wild."

Sam nodded, fighting a grin. Of course he did. Even now, in late August, his beloved Minnesota Wild cap was on his head, with its green and maroon emblem of a snarling creature's head built out of a wilderness scene. When October came, and the NHL was back on TV, it would be joined by one of two jerseys, depending on whether it was a home or an away game. Sam had been shocked to learn how much one of them cost. And yet he had insisted that she have one of each too.

"Love me, love my team!" he'd insisted.

Privately, Sam thought that the Canucks had the nicest color scheme of all the teams, but was wise enough not to mention this in front of her husband. She'd mentioned it almost under her breath to Teal'c once when Jack was fetching another cold one, and he had agreed with her.

"Indeed, and their standing in the division is superior this season." he had said.

But Jack was plowing ahead, his face scrunched up in disgust.

"Well, some idiot in the Youth Hockey Association's offices screwed it up, and we're the Wild Things instead."

Sam waited patiently. She understood that he'd rather have them named after the team he favored, but other than that, she didn't see the problem. She thought it was kind of cute.

Clearly, Jack thought the problem was self-evident. He made no move to explain.

"I think it's kind of cute. I loved that book when I was little!"

This derailed Jack for a moment.

"That was published already when you were a little kid? Damn, Carter! Sure you're not jail bait? I feel old! But anyway, that's the problem. They're 12!"

"You said that."

"The creatures in that book are cute. Twelve year-olds don't do cute. Not voluntarily. And especially not boys. The current roster has only two girls. But the Association secretary sent me some mock-ups of the jerseys to chose from, and they have fake wild things on them. Kinda like the book, but kinda not. Those guys are gonna be unhappy enough with cute monsters, but fake cute monsters is a step too far. So I've been writing to various corporate shrubs, the publisher, the merchandisers, the movie studio, to see if we can get the rights to a real Wild Thing for our jerseys, but I've had no luck. All dead ends."

He rose and handed her the folder, moving to the window beyond to gaze out, absently kneading the back of his neck with one hand, and drumming the fingers of his other hand on the window sill in a tattoo of frustration. Sam flipped quickly through the series of letters with Jack's request, all smooth flat sheets but unsigned, since they were copies. The replies had not only the creases where they were folded for mailing, but random wrinkles that were testament to Jack's frustration as he read them.

"Let me try. I think I might have a solution. I just need to do a little research," said Sam, pulling up her laptop bag from its place to the side of her chair, and breaking out her machine.

Jack moved to the stereo, and soon the sounds of Mozart's Requiem filled the room. He flopped down on the couch, told her to be his guest, and leaned back, closing his eyes and stilling his restless body as he lost himself in contemplation of the familiar but loved music.

Jack was startled out of his listening a few minutes later, by Sam's triumphant cry.

"Got it!" she said. "I've sent off a request, but I had to offer a quid pro quo. I hope you weren't planning to use that song about 'wild thing you make my heart sing' as your theme song!"

"Nope. Twelve year old boys aren't big on singing hearts either. I thought maybe 'Born to be Wild' or something."

"Well, if this works, it'll be the 'Dies Irae' from that Requiem."

Jack gave out a huff of irritation.

"Are you sure you really had a brother?" he asked. "Carter! That's classical music!"

"You're a big bad Lieutenant General - "

"Retired!"

"A big, bad retired Lieutenant General, and you like it!"

"Big, bad, retired, and old enough to be a fogy and listen to fogy music!" he said, but there the conversation ended, and the subject didn't come up again. Really, he had more pressing issues to pursue during the all-too-brief period of Sam's leave. Like pressing his lips to that spot on her neck, pressing her up against the counter, pressing down on her...

He thought no more of it, until three weeks later, a mere 2 weeks before he would have to make a final decision as to which of the fakey monsters he was going to go with. The mailman - no Jack, they're mail carriers now, even when they're still men - showed up at his door, and instead of slipping the usual collections of bills, advertisements, and magazines through the door slot, he rang the bell. First he handed over the usual suspects, bound together by a rubber band, then he asked Jack to sign for a package, sent registered mail from an address that Jack did not recognize in Connecticut. Jack's life had made him inclined to be suspicious of unexpected packages coming out of the blue, but he figured if the NID wanted to blow him to Kingdom Come, registered mail was a bit too easy to trace, so he signed, took the large mailing tube that the postman...er, person...offered.

Jack looked through the regular mail first. The credit card bill, two requests for charitable donations, three credit card offers, and the latest Sports Illustrated. He really needed to ask Carter to do that thing she did with her computer that stopped all the junk mail dead in it's tracks for a while, the next time she was around. Then he looked over the package. Finding nothing suspicious except for it's very existence, Jack opened it. Inside was a drawing, and a note.

I don't usually do this, indeed I try very hard to avoid it, but your wife is very persuasive, and it is for a good cause. I hope this will do. You have my permission to use it on the team jerseys, and for fund raising to benefit your local Association. It does my old heart good to know that a new generation will be introduced to the beauty of Mozart's music.

The drawing was of a Wild Thing, sporting a hockey jersey and skates, an old-style facemask-less helmet on his head, and a similarly attired Max, his wolf suit on, its tail poking out the jersey, grinning mischievously, both bearing down on an alarmed looking opponent. The Wild Thing had obviously only just taken up the sport, and was not yet quite clear on the rules. His stick was held high and about to descend like the mallet in that fairground test of strength where one was required to ring the bell.

Teal'c had actually bent the bell out of shape at the Colorado State Fair one year. And Sam had used physics to ring it more loudly than Daniel. Good times.

A month later, in an old farmhouse in Connecticut, an elderly man contemplated an unexpected package that he had just opened. Inside was a note, and a DVD in a slim plastic case. The DVD was labeled "The Wild Thing's first game of the season" in an angular scrawl. The note, in the same hand, simply read:

Thank you for your help. The boys all liked the drawing so much that they voted to keep it for now, although if the Association is ever in financial difficulties, they agree that it should go to help keep it afloat. We thought you'd like to see some highlights of their first game. These elite teams make a big deal over the games, almost like a varsity game, so there's a bit of folderol at the beginning that especially ought to interest you. - Jack O'Neill, coach.

The man removed the DVD from its case, slipped it into the computer he still wasn't entirely comfortable with, but his nephew had insisted that he needed, and sat back to watch the screen. It showed a team of kids skating onto the ice, followed by their coach. Their jerseys read "Bisons" and showed a fearsome snorting, pawing beast. Their coach was a portly man in a loud plaid jacket that strained to button over his belly, with a dark hairline receding at a gallop. They skated in to the music of a raspy voiced rock musician singing "Gonna win, gonna win..."

At this the man frowned and turned the sound down. But when the next team entered, he turned it up again. These kids were wearing jerseys with his design on it, and were followed by a tall broad-shouldered man wearing a bigger version of the same over a button-down shirt and tie, with a remarkably independent-minded head of grey hair, and the music was Mozart's glorious "Dies Irae".

Then something happened that the man did not expect. The audience and the first team began laughing and catcalling. The kids of the Wild Things looked upset, or aggressive, or mutinous, each according to their character, but when it looked like things were about to get rough, the coach could be heard calling out "Ahht! In line. Now!"

The Wild Things skated into formation in what was clearly a drill, and the coach made eye contact with one boy, and gave him a nod of encouragement. The boy handed his stick to a teammate, took off his helmet, and skated forward. He stood there, quiet, his fiery red curls matted by the helmet and already sweat-dampened, his head held high, and waited for the sound to die down.

Soon all was silent, and some spectators could be seen leaning forward, the better to hear through the glass of the rink.

"I'm Finn McCarty. I'm the team captain. That music" said the boy, "Was the 'Dies Irae'. It means 'the Day of Wrath' in Latin. It was written by Mozart, and comes from a mass for the dead. We're here to bring that Day of Wrath to you! And with that he turned and pointed at the opposing team, as his teammates all raised their sticks in raucous agreement. The boy skated back to the line, and his coach patted him on one shoulder and grinned approvingly.

Then both teams lined up for the singing of the national anthem, and the game began. The recording only included the highlights of the game, with periodic shots of the scoreboard to make it clear that the match was hotly contested, but in the end, The Wild Things won. Both teams skated past each other in a line, shaking hands, and the meeting was clearly amicable for the most part, as players on the Bisons thumped their counterparts on the shoulder or the helmet congenially, and the two captains conversed. The Bisons' coach looked a bit sour, and didn't seem to take kindly to the way the Wild Things' coach in his skates, standing at least seven inches taller once the blades were added, carved rings around him and his black, shiny street shoes.

The screen faded, and then brightened again, and the team, helmet-less now, with dry un-matted hair and their coach, with a dark ball cap on his head faced the camera and called out "Thank you Colonel Sam, and thank you, Mr. Sendak! We love you!"

The man pushed the button to eject the DVD from the machine, and placed it back in its case. He was smiling. He reached around and slipped a CD into the expensive stereo, and into the room flowed the mellow sounds of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. He sat back down, ran a hand gently down the back of the big dog sitting by his left arm and closed his eyes to listen, still smiling.

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Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
thothmes
Feb. 13th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Mainly I was just trying to find a way to work in some themes that ziparumpazoo would enjoy into a plausible framework that was within character, and could bring a small grin.
ziparumpazoo
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness! Thank you! Whenever did you have time to write this with the week you've had? This was adorable, sweet, but not sappy. I can picture Jack spending so much time trying to get the *right* logo, and Sam knowing exactly what to do about it. It feels perfectly in character that Jack would do something like coach hockey in all his spare, retired time.
Again, thank you so much for this. I love it. Now I'm going to wolf down breakfast because we have, you guessed it, hockey practice to get to. :D
thothmes
Feb. 13th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
You are welcome.

I'm a night owl, and I'm afraid I write quickly, or not at all. This in spite of the fact that I have a dad who teaches Creative Writing, and growing up with the concepts of multiple drafts, revision, and editing encouraged and expected! I wrote all my college papers the night before they were due on the typewriter (Yes, I'm old enough that it was definitely a typewriter!). Wite-out used to be my BFF.

So, when? I mull over general plot directions as I do my daily exercise, and if it seems to be working, then I sit down and start writing. I watched the opening ceremonies, sat down, and wrote.

Now if the Muse would only fork over those other plots she owes me, but keeps being so darn vague about!
not_a_zatarc
Feb. 14th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
Hehe, this was awesome. :D I love the image of Jack coaching a PeeWee hockey team, and the part about him skating rings around the obviously out of shape coach from the other team. :) And yay, Wild Things! :)
thothmes
Feb. 14th, 2010 05:18 am (UTC)
Well, in defense of hockey dads (and that's what most coaches are), most of them are in fact lean and trim, and they drive too fast and in the most ridiculous weather conditions, because they got into the sport because they were thrill-seekers by nature. The exceptions that prove the rule (like the opposing coach) are just that - exceptions. And many of the ones I've met have been a little truculent and push their sons a bit too hard.

Jack? Miss out on a chance to rub it in? Never!
not_a_zatarc
Feb. 14th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
LOL. Oh yes, you get those scary crazy coach moms and dads. I remember them. *shudders*
thothmes
Feb. 14th, 2010 06:00 am (UTC)
Yep, and I was am one suitable for your icon. I teach swimming! :)
not_a_zatarc
Feb. 14th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
HAHAHA! XD lol.
a_loquita
Feb. 14th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Very cute!
elle11elle
Jun. 5th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
ha. i'm really liking this story. it was different and interesting
thothmes
Jun. 5th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
So glad you liked it! ;)
artaxastra
Jun. 5th, 2010 11:19 am (UTC)
Reading back over some older stories, and enjoying every one!

I love the wild things, and I love getting Sendak into it! Yes!
thothmes
Jun. 5th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
I wrote this in large part because Zip loves both Where the Wild Things Are and hockey. As a general rule I have a bit of a RPF squick, and will only write it/read it if it is basically respectful of the privacy of the public figure. I just kind of feel that in becoming famous you sign up for being recognized and interviewed and needing an unlisted number. You may even sign up for starring in folks lurid fantasies. But to have those published on the internet is above and beyond. This only mentions Mr. Sendak liking the things he's gone on record as caring about, so I figured it didn't cross any lines.

Glad you're enjoying what you're finding!
artaxastra
Jun. 5th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
I usually have a problem with RPF, but this was charming. I thought it was very well done and perfectly tasteful.

How much public persona authors have is an important question, one that's made even harder now by publishers pushing authors to blog blog blog! I certainly find it a fine line to walk on my pro lj about how much information is too much information, vs. simply being impersonal.

Lovely story!
thothmes
Jun. 5th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Why thank you.

I can see that it would be a very fine line to walk between sharing enough to personalize it for the readers and sharing enough to enable you to be tracked down.

My brother in law recently had a crazy who was trying to disrupt his life, and when sending a poisonous and hateful letter to my sister didn't work, we think that all it took was a relative's obituary and FaceBook accounts to track down further siblings to be recipients of the horrid thing. They were unable to do the same for me only because my name is more conventional, which gives me some anonymity.

My dad published his first novel in the late '70's, and People Magazine wanted to review it. He was horrified, and was finally able to get his literary agent to quash that idea. I knew then that he was not destined to be a runaway commercial success, but knowing what some of his good friends who were willing to do anything, including make their lives an open book in order to be very successful have gone through, I'm pretty sure he did what was right for him. I'm just a little sad that his work will never achieve that wider recognition that it could have had.
artaxastra
Jun. 5th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
That's why I don't do Facebook! I feel the need of a few layers of anonymity!

I'm happy to blog in my pro identity, but I try to keep that separate from my fannish persona as much as possible. Not that it's entirely possible anymore, but.... I try to make sure that the two names aren't linked anywhere except under friendslock, at least!
rdamel
Jan. 16th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
May I ask your father's name and what he wrote? As a former public librarian, I might recognize it.

I loved this story! Did you ever read the one by Surrealis (I think, I'd have to go back and look for it to be sure) about SG1 and their try at hockey against another SG team? It was fun, too.

Melissa M.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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