Author: Christi (email@example.com)
Author’s Note: Mini!OTP. You think that’s it’s cliché and crazy. And it is. But it’s also one of the more addicting things out there. It’s fic crack. Embrace the madness. So, I have somehow gotten sucked into writing a little mini-series for mini!team.
Dedication: To Little Red, because she not only squealed when she found out about the knitting, but found a pattern so I knew what part of the mitten to make a different color. If you would like to knit like Jack, go here: http://knitting.about.com/library/blmittens3.htm
“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.” –Oscar Wilde
It was January, right around midterms actually, that Jack began to worry. He couldn’t figure out exactly what he was worrying about; it was just a nearly constant nagging in the back of his mind that taunted him.
It didn’t make any sense. For the first time in what seemed like ages, Jack O’Neill was strangely…happy. Sure, there were downsides to his current situation—no beer, no ‘Gate, bad music, and the phrase ‘surrounded by idiots’ had taken on a whole new meaning. But really, it wasn’t so bad. He had his friends with him now, and so it made the strange high school existence that was his life seem like…a weird sort of extended vacation with constant adolescent entertainment to watch and mock.
Jack had needed a vacation for a long, long time.
And so he had taken advantage of it all—for once in his life, he let himself relax and just be. But now, he was worrying, and he couldn’t figure out why.
Most of the time, he managed to ignore it, because there were so many other, more pleasant things to concentrate on. Like trying to help Teal’c find a hobby now that football season was over, or laughing every time Daniel bitched about the Spanish teacher’s grammar, or convincing Sam that yes, he really did need tutoring in chemistry so that she’d spend the extra hour going over it with him.
Still, it was there now. And it didn’t seem to be going away.
No matter how hard they stared at the flyer, the words didn’t change. Go figure.
“What are even the odds of that?”
“Pretty good, I’d think. Lots of people put on Hamlet as a school play.”
“Yeah, but who would have guessed…I mean, it was supposed to be a joke, Sam.”
“I remember, Jack. I was there, after all.”
“…But I mean…he wasn’t actually supposed to be Hamlet!”
She shrugged. “Maybe it’s that overwhelming coolness thing again?”
“Maybe. Doesn’t make it less…weird.”
“No. No, it doesn’t.”
But no matter how hard they stared at the cast list, it still read Hamlet: Daniel Jackson.
“You know, if this is what our teenage demagogue status can get us, I still don’t understand why…”
“Jack, for the last time—there is no way I am trying out for the cheerleading team.”
Around the same time that Daniel was pleasantly distracted by his budding ambitions as a thespian, the new semester schedules were released. Most of their classes stayed the same—except for Teal’c. The first semester, he had a free period that he used to train in the weight room. However, the coach had apparently asked him to cut back on the weight training, as his sheer bulk was starting to be even too much for the other football players to take. As a result, Teal’c was left to find an elective. On his own.
Which is how Teal’c,
At first, Jack had a hard time understanding why Sam and Daniel found this so funny. “Am I missing the joke?” he asked as he watched the two of them trying not to laugh and failing miserably.
Sam grinned at him, flipping a long strand of blonde hair behind her shoulder. “You do realize what ‘Life Sciences’ is, don’t you?”
“…Some kind of science?”
Daniel rubbed the back of his neck. “Not exactly. It’s…well…”
“Home Economics, Jack. Teal’c is going to be taking Home Ec.”
Jack looked at the little printed out schedule again in disbelief. “I…” This wasn’t his normal dumb act. Jack had gone to high school before the whole PC movement. He was pretty sure that in his day, Home Ec was just called…Home Ec. “Like…cooking and sewing and stuff?”
“Yes, exactly like that.”
Jack’s eyes slid up to meet Teal’c unperturbed brown ones. “Did you…realize..?”
Really, it made a lot of sense. He should be used to that, as it was coming from Teal’c. Still, Jack had the feeling that it was going to take him a long time to get over the mental image of Teal’c in an apron.
“So, T, are you enjoying Home Ec?”
“Indeed I am, O’Neill.”
“Yes. I find cooking especially to be most appealing. The instructor is currently attempting to educate us in the art of soufflé creation.”
“Uh-huh. And how is that going?”
“Very well, O’Neill.”
“Good! Good, good, that’s good…hey, Sam likes those things.”
“I am aware, O’Neill.”
“…How hard is it to learn, exactly?”
While Teal’c was some kind of cooking savant, Jack…wasn’t. However, in his Home Ec explorations with T, he did discover a disturbing proficiency with knitting needles. In no time at all, he could make anything from socks to hats to blankets. Teal’c apparently saw it as some kind of great accomplishment, while Daniel laughed and laughed and laughed. Sam, though, just smiled and said she wasn’t surprised.
“I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
She shrugged. “It makes sense. You’ve always liked to keep your hands busy. At least this is something productive.”
As a reward for making him feel less strange about it all, he knitted her a winter hat. A blue one, because Sam in blue made him happy. It had a pom-pom on the end that he could play with and everything. He felt a little ridiculous when giving it to her, but she just pulled it on over the long hair that he was quickly becoming enamored with and hugged him tightly.
As Jack buried his nose in the warm softness of her neck, he wondered if he could figure out how to make matching gloves.
“Remind me again how I got roped into making scenery for this stupid play?”
“…You signed up for art class?”
He had. Damn him for wanting to improve his pottery skills.
“Still. If I have to hear Daniel make one more stupid long-winded speech about the meaning of life, I’ll…I’ll shrink his costume tights.”
“Go ahead. I think that might earn you the undying gratitude of every girl attending this thing.”
“Too much information, Sam. Way too much. Hey, why aren’t you helping?”
“Jack, you’ve seen my artistic skills. You know, the non-existent ones.”
Stick figures. He remembered now.
“Awe, I don’t know, I thought she was cute, with her little blonde curls and smiley face…”
“Shut up and paint, Jack.”
He didn’t manage to figure out what it was that had been bothering him until Sam’s three-ring binder filled with astrophysics scribbles was discovered by the science teacher. Suddenly, Sam was in the Principal’s office for hours on end, surrounded by science teachers and college advisors and other intellectual types who were looking at it and generally going ‘ooooh’.
It took the better part of three days before she was free of them all and rejoined the lunch table with nothing more than air of slight annoyance. “Can you believe all that? The nerve! I mean, Mr. Spelding didn’t even have the right to look at it in the first place, but then to have everything passed around like that…it’s a good thing I keep all the classified stuff at home…” she snorted as she opened her lunch, but her rant didn’t ease the knot of panic that had curled up inside of Jack’s stomach.
“Sam…what did they all want?”
She looked at him blankly for a second before catching on. “Oh, nothing.”
“Sam, three days of meetings isn’t nothing.”
She shook her head, sharing a look with Daniel. “It was stupid.”
Feeling slightly betrayed, Jack turned his gaze to Daniel. “You know?”
“I could guess,” the former archeologist replied nonchalantly.
“Well, tell me!” He was bordering on petulant and he knew it. But damnit, he was fifteen again. He was allowed to be petulant sometimes.
Sam sighed. “It was stupid. They just wanted to skip me a few grades is all.”
“…How many grades?”
She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, as I told them in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t going to happen.”
That seemed to be the end of the conversation as far as she was concerned, but it was enough to hit Jack with all the worries he had been burying the last few weeks, trying to pretend didn’t exist. Because they knew now about Carter and how brilliant she was. If she wanted, Sam could be out of this cement block institution before the next bell rang. And while she shrugged it off as nothing…what if it wasn’t?
The existence of the three-ring binder and Daniel’s sudden urge to participate in performance art and T’s new preoccupation with The Food Network were all little hints, signs that his friends were searching for something to keep them entertained while they were stuck here in limbo with him. Because that’s what they were—stuck. It wasn’t so bad for Jack on an intellectual level—he had pretty much retained the mentality of a teenager for the majority of his life. But them? They were all brilliant and talented and driven. They deserved better than this...replacement life.
They had done this for him—he had known that from the moment they had appeared in the cafeteria. And while sure, they seemed okay with it all so far, what if it was all adding up? What if, one day, they came to school and looked at him and only saw the reason they were condemned to this half-existence?
What if they finally realized that he hadn’t been worth the sacrifice?
That was the fear that had subconsciously burrowed its way into his heart, the one that kept him awake at night when they were gone and he was alone. Because he had no doubt that they could do this without him if they were so inclined.
But he had no idea how he’d survive this without them.
“So, really. How many grades?”
“…Why do you want to know?”
“I just do. How many?”
“…No. Forget it. I’m not telling you.”
She rose an eyebrow at the old name. “Don’t even try it.”
Damn. She had gotten out of the ‘sir’ habit a little too quickly after all.
“No! Why are you pressing this? What does it matter?”
He didn’t have an answer. Not one he would share, anyway.
Despite his newfound fears, or maybe because of them, he did actually try to figure out how to make matching gloves for Sam’s hat. But as it turned out, gloves were a nightmare involving four needles and prongs and other crazy things that he did not understand. So he made mittens instead. Sure, the top of the left one was green because he had run out yarn right at the end, and the thumbs looked about two times longer than they needed to be. But they were mittens. Sort of.
He gave them to her on the opening night of Daniel’s play, as they were heading inside the building. Sam just fingered them for a moment before slipping them on and hugging him again.
This knitting thing definitely had its advantages.
When they pulled apart, she kept an arm slung around his waist. He didn’t protest. Maybe they would resent him someday. All the better reason to enjoy this now, while it lasted.
“You know, I’ve been thinking,” Sam said finally.
“When aren’t you?”
She rolled her eyes. “We should talk to the Air Force.”
Oh. Oh shit.
No, his voice did not just crack. Really.
“About buying a house.”
Jack blinked. Of all the many responses he had been preparing himself for, no version of that had been on the list. “…Huh?”
She glanced up at him, an almost nervous expression on her face. “Well, it’s just that right now, they’re spending money to pay the bills for four separate apartments. That’s got to be a waste of money. A house would be more expensive initially, but would even out after awhile. And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could just be…” She sighed. “I mean, the four of us are always together anyway…and I…going home alone at night…I mean, it wasn’t so bad you know, back when we were…but now…”
She was actually rambling. About something other than science. It was so…damn…cute. Her blue eyes were wider than normal and her face pale except for her nose which was red in the winter cold, and with the blue hat and mittens, blonde braid, and nervous expression she looked about eleven. “…I mean, if you think…you could put up with us all the time.”
Was she nuts? This was…this was…perfect. Maybe they wouldn’t end up hating him after all. In fact, now that he was really thinking about it, he realized that if Sam had been privy to his thoughts the past few weeks, she would have decked him. And he would have deserved it.
But she didn’t need to know all that. So, Jack just smirked and replied, “Oh, I think I could manage. I mean, Teal’c can keep us fed, I can keep us in warm socks, you can fix things…” he stopped, thinking. “What would Spacemonkey do?”
Sam grinned up at him, edging a little closer. He happily tightened his hold on her shoulders. “Oh, he’d be there purely for entertainment value.”
“So, I think I’ve narrowed it down to three houses.”
“Already? That was quick.”
“Well, I just narrowed it down by a system involving price range, location, and physical components, ranking them from the most important to the least, with the most being things like size and the condition of the property…”
Only Sam could turn house hunting into a scientific formula.
“Sam. Just tell me about the houses.”
“Okay. Well, this one is nice, good sized backyard and garage, new appliances in the kitchen. And this one just got a new roof put on.”
“Let me guess, you like the third one.”
She smiled a little. “Well, it’s closest to school. And while it doesn’t have much of a backyard, the front yard is nice, with trees and a little porch in front of the house. There’s a full basement…we could put a game table down there or something. And it has a fireplace, which I kind of thought might be nice.”
It would be nice. But… “Sam, this is only a three bedroom house.”
When he looked back at her, she was blushing. “I know.”
Jack was pretty sure his stomach had flipped right over. He looked down at the paper, then back at her, a grin spreading across his face.