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Enough Real Life! Time for Fic!

I wrote this while Irene was still down in the Bahamas, but then it was late, and I was a bit too tired to get it posted, and then life got busy. Just a little bit of time travel, but not the kind that is all head-hurty.


Title: Summer Mornings
Seasons: Pre-series, Season Eight
Spoilers: Fishing?
Warnings: Sorry Fig. Not gen. Het. Anybody hate Charlie? Good. Then we'll proceed. PG-13 if you read between lines.
Synopsis: A bit of time travel on a summer's morning.



Summer Mornings



Jack wrapped his hands around the mug of warm coffee he'd poured himself on the way out to the dock, and drew his knees up close to his sweatshirt-covered chest, both to keep in his body heat, and to give him a place to rest the mug. Here in Northern Minnesota, even though the mid-August days were still warm, the nights were sliding towards fall, and evening fires in the hearth in the living room and warm woolen blankets and quilts on the bed were now part of the routine. The morning air was still chill, and there was still fog over the pond, curling and drifting in wisps between Jack and the conifers on the opposite bank. This was his favorite time of the day, morning, with the last of the grey light of pre-dawn fading, and a growing rosy glow in the sky. Soon the grasses behind him would be gilt with the first rays of the sun, and everywhere spider webs and grass strands would sparkle with crystal drops of dew and their rainbow refractions. A new day would dawn in hope, and here at his cabin, in peace.

Jack was just lifting the rim of the large forest green mug to his lips to take a first tentative sip of the scalding coffee, strong and bitter, brewed in an ancient percolator that had been in bought the year before his grandfather died, replacing an even more ancient model that had predated Jack's earliest childhood memories, when he heard the light footsteps behind him, and felt the small hand on his shoulder. He turned and smiled.

"Hey, kiddo" he said. "What gets you up so early?"

There was no answer from the small figure in footie pajamas, but the boy leaned in to hug his father's shoulders, and laid a sleep-disheveled head down on one broad shoulder. Jack felt the transfer of a goodly portion of his son's weight on to his back. Three years old and big for his age, Charlie weighed so much more than he had on Jack's last leave, but still, the weight was negligible on his father's big frame. Jack set the mug down carefully at some distance from his right side, and carefully shifting and easing the boy to a stand, so he wouldn't knock him over, he then gathered his son on to his lap.

Charlie cuddled in with a sigh, and when he had settled his right cheek into his father's shoulder, he popped his right thumb in his mouth. Awake he might be, but he wasn't quite ready to squander the energy he'd been recharging sleeping the sleep of the innocent through the night. Jack sniffed the sweet musty kid smell, mixed with a whiff of kiddie shampoo in the boy's hair, and looked down at the damp and grass-stained feet of the rocket and star covered p.j.'s. The O'Neill boys just might be in a bit of trouble over that when Sara woke. Deciding that what was done was done, Jack drew the boy a little closer to share his bodily warmth, and warmed the cockles of his own heart, reveling in a rare quiet moment with his usually energetic little boy.

Charlie was content to snuggle and suck his thumb for a while as Jack sipped his coffee, occasionally making a hum of love and contentment, listening for the answering rumble from this father, and for the quiet steady beat of his daddy's heart, but after a while he popped the thumb out of his mouth, and reached up to run his fingers gently over the dark morning stubble on his father's chin. The hairs on his jaw were almost black, but some of the ones on his upper lip were almost red where they were lit by the slanting light of the rising sun.

"Skritchy!" he said.

"Itchy too, if I let 'em grow a bit!" said Jack with a smile. "You gonna help me shave later?"

The boy nodded eagerly. He loved to stand on the stool from the kitchen, leaning over the back to see his small face next to Daddy's in the mirror. He would help Daddy spread the thick foam from the can all over his face, and then he'd clean his hands by rubbing the remnants on his own rosy cheeks, and Daddy would take his safety razor, the one he must never, never touch because it made owies and start scraping the foam off, and rinsing it down the drain, while Charlie did the same with an old razor with the owie part taken out, that Daddy said had been Great-Grandpa's.

Jack smiled in anticipation of the cutest ritual of the whole day, and ruffled the boy's hair. He swallowed a final mouthful of coffee that was beginning to border on lukewarm, and put the mug down. The last of the morning fog was trailing away, and the insects tuning up gave promise of a warm day to come. The increasing frequency of the restless kicking of his son's pajama'ed feet began to make it clear that it was time to start thinking of breakfast, before Charlie could get cranky for the lack of it.

"Time to get some food into that big tummy of yours," he said, poking at the rounded toddler belly gently and raising a giggle.

"I want pantakes," said Charlie.

"Okay. Pantakes it is," said Jack amiably. This was one of the things he was comfortable cooking, having been taught the secret O'Neill pancake recipe by his grandfather, the one that had been handed down from father to son through the generations, calling for a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of best brandy. Women weren't allowed in the kitchen while he made them, and Sara was more than a little determined to be the only exception. So far, she'd been unsuccessful. He thought he'd maybe been able to decoy her for a while by his practice of opening a bottle of Guinness and immediately putting a cork in it, and putting it back in the fridge. Her pancakes with beer were good, but they weren't the same as his. Still, he didn't mind polishing off all the failed experiments.

Jack lifted his son off his lap, setting him down on the dock far from the edges, and got to his feet, bending to scoop up his mug and Charlie, then striding through the damp grass to the cabin. He stopped at the screen door to whisper that they needed to be quiet so Mommy could sleep, and then he slipped quietly in the door. He set Charlie down in the living room where there was a box filled with old, battered, much loved cars and trucks, most with shapes that were no longer seen on the roads of today, and reminding the boy with a whisper to be quiet, he set about the task of making breakfast.

The bacon was keeping warm and crisp in a warm oven on an old chipped china plate between layers of paper towel, and Jack was nonchalantly and expertly flipping the first of the pancakes with a flick of the wrist when Sara awoke, the delicious smells of pancakes, bacon, and coffee urging her from her warm bed to seek the source of those enticing aromas. Having not been able to locate her own clothing from the night before, and not wanting to put on clean clothes before she'd showered, she was wearing a plaid flannel shirt of Jack's and his boxers from the pile on his side of the bed, earning her an appreciative grin as he handed her a mug of coffee and opened the fridge to hand her the milk he knew she would want for it.

Sara had just enough time to add plenty of milk and sugar to the vile bitter brew that the ancient percolator produced - Really! She must remember to bring a box of filters and a plastic filter holder up next time they came! - when Charlie noticed that she was up, and rushed over to assail her knees with a hug. She was glad the mug was still on the counter, or he might have ended up with a coffee shower, given the enthusiasm of his greeting. Charlie's rush had taken him right over the tail of Muttley, and the ancient cur that Jack had been unable to resist at the shelter the first year of their marriage added his joyful morning greeting of boy and man, forming arthritic curls through Jack's long jean-covered legs, and sniffing eagerly in the general area of Charlie's rump. To Sara's amusement, he ignored her as always, and would until Jack, his lord and master, returned to duty in two weeks. Then he settled stiffly by Jack's legs, near the source of the bacon smell, and regarded him with dark and soulful eyes.

Jack was having none of that. He continued to build up the stack of pancakes, and ignored the dog's hopeful and adoring stare. Sara, reminded forcefully of Jack's own expression when angling for pie or cake, thought It takes one to know one!, and went to open the screen door, calling Muttley to go out and do his morning business. With an injured sigh of regret, he clambered slowly to his feet, and head down, tail drooping, went out.

"I wish you could have found a younger dog to give your heart to," Sara said.

"The pups had hope. I was Muttley's last chance," said Jack.

It was an old argument, only rarely recycled these days, but Muttley was clearly winding down now, and Sara worried increasingly about how his death would affect Charlie. He was so young to have to face life's hard realities. Sara hated the idea that death could touch his small life, and wound his small heart. Still more unacceptable was the way that Jack had shrugged, and said "Better to experience it first with the dog," leaving Sara with images of two officers knocking on her front door in full dress blues slinking around in her head, where no amount of superstition and sublimated fear could banish them.

As she tore her mind away from the last tendrils of dark thought, and back to the sunny ever-warming morning, Charlie began to make insistent growling noises, providing motor sounds for one of the trucks, and Jack handed her the mug, his fingers lingering under hers a little longer than strictly necessary to effect the transfer. The sun smeared like honey over the wood floors and the rag rugs, and at the table there was now a plate piled high with griddlecakes, the edges festooned with crisp bacon, and Jack's delectable firm rump was showing its finest form, in spite of the dishtowel that was tucked in the waist of his jeans, as he bent over to get the maple syrup out of the fridge. Sara went to get Charlie into the chair with the encircling arms and the seat full of old phone books, and began the process of tying a bib on a moving, flailing target.

By the time Sara had bibbed Charlie and pushed his chair close to the table, Jack had his plate all ready, with two of the smaller griddlecakes, and one slice of bacon. Sara went to fetch the orange juice from the fridge and milk for Charlie, who didn't like orange juice any time before noon.

"There you go, buddy. Pantakes, just like you wanted," said Jack.

"Pantakes," agreed Charlie happily, watching his Daddy swirl syrup on them, and cut them into bite size pieces.

"Charlie makes k sounds, Jack," protested Sara.

Jack cocked his head to one side in a gesture eerily reminiscent of Muttley, who was currently resignedly waiting curled up on the other side of the screen door, where he would remain until breakfast was done, and he would be let in to lap up Charlie's spillage and get a bowl of kibble.

"Yeah, you're right. He does." Jack said. "How come they're pantakes, not pancakes?"

"Mommy makes pancakes. You make pantakes," said Charlie.

"How are mine different?" asked Jack.

"Yours are better," said Sara, to Jack's pride and delight, while Charlie spoke almost on top of her to say "The way you make 'em."

"You like the way I make them?" asked Jack, with almost insufferable smugness.

"Yeah," said Charlie. "Mommy just uses the cooking shovel and puts them over. You take the pan," and he did a fairly creditable imitation of the brisk flick of the wrist Jack used to launch the pancakes in the air to flip them with his fork, narrowly missing his sippy cup.

Sara hid a smile as she watched Jack's smugness momentarily deflate somewhat on the realization that it was not his O'Neill Secret Recipe that had carried the day, followed by a rapid reinflation as he realized that his son admired his physical skill. She suspected that one day in the future she might regret the sharing and confidences that having a daughter would have brought, but moments like this were priceless.

Jack took a swig of his second mug of coffee, and savored the crunch and tang of his first piece of bacon. Sara's entrancing blue eyes were twinkling. Charlie's small mouth was chewing industriously in that odd front-of-the-mouth way that small children have, one hand waving his sippy cup about, while the other waved the fork. The kid was fully awake for the day, and from now until naptime some part of him would be constantly in motion bleeding off excess wells of energy. A whole day in Jacks favorite place in all the world beckoned, and life was good.

***************

Jack wrapped his hands around the mug of warm coffee he'd poured himself on the way out to the dock, and drew his good knee up close to his fleece covered chest, both to keep in his body heat, and to give him a place to rest the mug. Here in Northern Minnesota, even though the mid-August days were still warm, the nights were sliding towards fall, and evening fires in the hearth in the living room and warm woolen blankets and quilts on the bed were now part of the routine. The morning air was still chill, and there was still fog over the pond, curling and drifting in wisps between Jack and the conifers on the opposite bank. This was his favorite time of the day, morning, with the last of the grey light of pre-dawn fading, and a growing rosy glow in the sky. Soon the grasses behind him would be gilt with the first rays of the sun, and everywhere spider webs and grass strands would sparkle with crystal drops of dew and their rainbow refractions. A new day would dawn in hope, and here at his cabin, in peace.

Jack was just lifting the rim of the large black mug to his lips to take a first tentative sip of the scalding coffee, strong and subtle, brewed in an ancient Mr. Coffee that had replaced the percolator bought the year before his grandfather died, which had finally perked its last, when he heard the light footsteps behind him, and felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He turned and smiled.

"Hey, Sam," he said, as she eased herself down next to him, leaning in to his side, and drawing up her knees and encircling them with her arms. Jack shifted his coffee mug to the opposite hand and put the free arm around her shoulders, drawing her in, and sniffing surreptitiously and happily at her hair. She grinned up at him briefly to let him know he was busted, and then leaned her head obligingly back into range.

"Penny for them," she said.

"Not worth that much," he said. "Priceless," he amended. "I'm getting hungry, and if we want to get some fishing in before the boys get here, we'd better get breakfast. You ready for something?"

"After all the energy I wasted last night? You bet!"

"Wasted?"

"Enjoyed expending?"

"That's better. Just for that I'll make you my O'Neill Secret Recipe pantakes!"

"Would that involve Guinness, by any chance?"

"Maaaaybe. You just wait. You'll love 'em. But no peeking. Only males are initiated into the secret!"

"Jack, everything you cook has beer in it! That's no secret."

"Ahhht! This far and no farther. No peeking. That's an order!"

Jack stood in the doorway, watching with amusement and delight as indignation chased laughter across Carter's face, her eyes wide and oh-so-blue, accentuated by the bulky blue sweater she wore. Behind her sun fell golden on the wooden floors and rag rugs, and a whole day in his favorite place in the universe beckoned. Soon Daniel and Teal'c would arrive, and he would be able to share it with nearly all of his nearest and dearest. Life was great.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
ansostuff
Aug. 31st, 2011 11:09 am (UTC)
Oooh, nice! Very lovely imagery.
thothmes
Sep. 1st, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
Thank you.

I love your icon, mainly because I agree with the sentiment so wholeheartedly. Naturally I had to respond with my only coffee icon! ;)
ansostuff
Sep. 1st, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
Hehe. Love your coffee icon too. I don't have many Jack icons so this one fitted. I really need some new SG-1 icons I think. One day I'll sit myself down and make some...

I meant to post it here, lol. I have not yet woken properly up I guess. And I have had coffee
sjhw_tolerance
Aug. 31st, 2011 11:43 am (UTC)
Ah...nice, in that sort of wistful, melancholy way of what might have been for all of us.
thothmes
Sep. 1st, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Yeah. After so many years of building the relationship, hinting, and leading us on, it would have been so simple just to make the nod, even if just in passing.

Sigh.

I guess that's what an imagination is for...
traycer_
Aug. 31st, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC)
Wow! You should post this at the jack_sara comm. I loved the imagery depicted in this fic, but you know I love the family scenes better! :) So much love and happiness... Really great stuff!

thothmes
Sep. 1st, 2011 04:34 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'll have to consider doing that. I've always thought that Jack loved having a family, but that if he ever got a second chance, he'd appreciate it so much more, because he'd be really living in the moment and trying to wring every last bit of enjoyment out of it, because he knows what it is like to lose that, and he'd feel so lucky to have it again.
rdamel
Sep. 1st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Good one, though as I was reading, I thought, "oh, Fig could read this one, I think she's fine with Jack/Sara" then I got to the end, and realized no, she couldn't. Too bad. I love gen and team, but I also love good Jack/Sam and Jack/Sara, so thanks for this!

Melissa M.
thothmes
Sep. 1st, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I like to give fair warning to those of my flist that I know wouldn't appreciate reading it, and I knew this wouldn't be one for Fig. In this case, for readers who would be inclined to like it, I think it reads just a little better if one is unwarned, but then it would be tantamount to entrapment for those who wouldn't be so inclined. I decided it was kinder to warn.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 25th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
Summer Mornings
This was beautiful and so comfortably real. It felt like you were describing our old family farm house when we were young and visiting. The fishing pond is a walk through the woods but everything from the old peculator to the sparking spider webs I well know.
thothmes
Mar. 25th, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Summer Mornings
My dad's side of the family has a cabin in the mountains where we spent summers every year, so I'm very familiar myself with the rhythms and traditions of a family summer place, with customs that persist and reoccur even as the world around us changes and the details shift.

I'm glad that you enjoyed this. :)
( 11 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

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I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
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