Sometime You Can Go Back Again

Title: Sometimes You Can Go Back Again

by Christina A.

Summary: Jack learns that it’s never really too late to return to what was best in life.

Sometimes, You Can Go Back Again
by Christina A.

The general looked down at the phone on his desk and then at the stack of papers he had to read. He tried to give them his full attention, but even on a good day, they bored him. Today was worse than most days. Today, he had Daniel’s voice in his head. They always spent most of the holiday together. Invariably, Daniel would ask about Sara. Jack knew why he did it too. Daniel, when it came to being covert, was extremely obvious about his tactics. Jack had to admit, though, that Daniel was right about this particular topic. He had pictures in his office and in his home. He had never let go of Sara, the pictures were the proof of it. Daniel always took the opportunity to point that out… in his own annoying way.

He set down his pen and abruptly stood and left his office. He wasn’t going to get anymore work done today. All he really wanted to do was go home and make a phone call… or actually check his answering machine to see if one had been made to him. “I’m out of here, guys,” Jack said as he stuck his head in Daniel’s office. He knew that Carter and Teal’c would be in there. The three were always hanging out in Daniel’s office. He used to hang out there too.

“Leaving early, Sir?” Sam asked, her brows furrowed in curiosity. The general never left early.

“Um… looks like, yep.” He rapped lightly on the doorframe and headed off down the corridor before there could be anymore discussion as to why. Why… well the reasons for his leaving were his own business.

“Jack.”

The general stopped and had to force himself not to roll his eyes. He knew Daniel was intrigued by his early departure. He also knew that Daniel knew part of the story as well. So when Jack turned around, he didn’t wait for the inevitable question. He simply said, “Yes. I called her. But she wasn’t home.”

“Did you…”

“Yes, I left a message and everything.”

The archaeologist smiled widely. “Good.”

“I’m so glad you approve,” Jack quipped before continuing down the corridor. He knew the other man would follow, so he said, “I got to thinking about our little conversation on the way to the movies the other night. So I just picked up the phone and called her. Figured it would get you off my back about it.”

Daniel just shook his head. “Right. Blame me if it makes you feel better. Though, it really is about time you called her.”

Jack’s initial reaction was to shake his own head. “Daniel, it’s not that easy. One message on her answering machine isn’t going to fix everything.” He sighed dramatically before leaning toward his friend and whispering, “I”m going to have to talk to her about my feelings.”

“Whoa!” Daniel’s expression was a mixture of shock and mock-horror. “You poor man. I can only imagine how hard that’s going to be for you.”

“You have NO idea! Like surgery without anesthetics.” He shuddered.

“Not even a local,” Daniel agreed. “But think about this…” He reached out and grabbed Jack’s arm. “A brief moment of pain over having to admit your feelings could heal years worth of wounds. You have a chance… a second chance here, Jack. Some of us don’t have that.” He let go of his friend’s arm and turned to walk away.

Watching him go, Jack sighed. “I only left a message,” he called out. Though, he had to chuckle when Daniel lifted his hand and waved. Jack didn’t talk about his feelings or the pain that went with them. Daniel knew. Then again, Daniel was there when Jack went through the worst of it. It was Daniel who broke through the walls and reminded him that there were still some things worth living for. So when Daniel suggested he make the call, Jack took the advice. It wasn’t easy. Hearing her voice on the machine brought on an onslaught of emotions he hadn’t experienced in a long time. He wasn’t sure what he’d say or what would happen when they talked again, but after all these years, he still loved her and he had to try.

*-*-*

He walked into the dark house and tossed his keys on the end table. He remembered years ago when he would come home and she would greet him. Charlie would too. Life had been so full and complete then. He rarely told Sara that, and he should have. How hard would it have been to let down the walls and talk about the pain with her? It was Sara, damn it. He could tell her anything.

He glanced over at his answering machine and saw it flashing. There was no denying the mixture of excitement and anxiety he was feeling right now. He pushed the play button and nearly froze as he heard her voice.

“Jack.” There was a nervous shake in her voice. “I… well obviously I got your message. Um… I have to admit it’s a little out of the blue… Not that I mind… I mean…” There was a sigh and then a slightly anxious chuckle. Her voice softened as she continued, “I’m glad you called and yes, you can call me back or… come over sometime. It would be good to see you again.”

When the message ended, Jack turned on the light and sat down on the couch. A picture on the side table caught his eye and he reached out to pick it up. It was of Sara, Charlie, and himself. They were all over his home… these pictures. Daniel was right. Jack had never let go, and though he could never have Charlie back, he could have Sara. Picking up the phone, he dialed her number and waited, somewhat nervously, as the phone rang.

“Hello,” her voice came over the phone and Jack nearly froze. “Hello,” she said again.

“Sara,” he finally managed to say.

“Jack?”

“Hey,” he began, leaning back against the couch. “How have you been?”

“Over the past several years? A little bit of everything. Right now, a little surprised, happily confused. Jack…”

“Why have I called… now?”

“Pretty much.”

He chuckled. “I’m getting older… a little less bull-headed?”

“Oh, I doubt that,” she responded with a laugh.

“True.” He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. It would hurt only for a moment. “Okay, how about this? I miss you.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. Jack was fairly certain she was crying. “Sara,” he said softly.

“I’m here,” her reply was nearly a whisper. “I miss you too,” she finally admitted.

A small smile spread across his face. “Do you think,” he paused and nearly laughed at himself. He was about to ask his ex-wife out on a date. “Could I maybe come pick you up and take you to dinner?”

“Tonight?”

He heard a rustling on the other end of the phone and sat up a little. “Unless tonight isn’t good for you.”

“Oh no! I mean, tonight is fine. I just… well… I need to get ready.”

“How about an hour? I need to change as well.”

“Yeah. Hour’s good. And Jack…”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad you called.” With that, she hung up the phone.

“Me too,” he said softly.

*-*-*

The drive to Winter Park, Colorado took much longer this time than it had in the past. Anticipation maybe… lots of nerves for sure.

And their home… It was strange but in his eyes, this would always be their home. He turned off the truck and sat there for a moment, thinking about everything and nothing at the same time, before sliding out and heading up to the front door.

She opened the door just as he was preparing to knock. She hadn’t changed much. Sara didn’t prescribe to the same old addage that women had to keep men waiting. If she was ready, she met him at the door. “Want to come in?” she asked, standing aside.

“Sure,” he nodded. He smiled lightly and presented her with the flowers he bought before driving up here. “I’m sure it’s cliche’, but I know how you like these.”

He watched as she took the flowers, put them to her nose and inhaled deeply. “I’ll just put them in some water.”

He stepped inside and watched as she headed into the kitchen. The place hadn’t changed in all the years he’d been away. This was still home to him. It looked and felt like home… his home… his wife. Why had he left? The pain? He sighed and moved further into the living room. Looking back, he should have stuck it out, worked it through instead of running from her. Their son was gone, but there was still love here. He bent over and picked up a picture. It was one of the two of them… at the lake. They had been so happy then.

“I couldn’t bring myself to put them away,” she said softly.

He put the picture down and offered her a smile. “I have them at my house too.”

Her eyes opened a little wider and she sat down on the couch. “You do?”

Sitting down beside her, he had to fight the temptation to brush the stray hair from her eyes. There were other urges as well. Lord help him but he didn’t want to go out to dinner now. Even though his stomach protested, he wanted to curl up with her on the couch, watch TV, drink coffee, and talk. Yeah, as surprising as it seemed, he just wanted to talk to her. He wanted to come home here every night, and just be with her.

“You’re staring,” Sara said softly, reaching out to touch his arm.

“I am,” he agreed. “You’re beautiful.” Well, that didn’t hurt at all.

Her face colored immediately and she dropped her head to look down at her lap. “Jack…”

He put his finger under her chin and lifted her face so that she had to look at him. He needed to see her as he said it. “It’s true. You are, and I was the biggest kind of fool to walk out of this house…”

“Jack…”

He moved his hand from her chin, letting her talk. If it was too much, too fast, he’d back off.

“I shouldn’t have let you walk out. I should have fought, forced you to talk… something.”

“You really think you could have forced me?” he asked, one brow raised in question and an amused grin on his face.

“Okay, no I couldn’t.” She gave him a smile in return.

“Sara, do you really want to go out? I was thinking we could stay in… talk…”

“Talk?”

“Yeah. It’s surprising, I know. But you see, I have this friend who likes to talk things to death.”

“Wears on your patience, but you can’t help but like him?”

“Exactly.” He sat back on the couch and draped an arm around her shoulders. He wasn’t surprised when she nestled in beside him. “He’s sort of been nagging at me for the past seven years about talking. Still not great at it… but I’m better.”

She nodded. “I’ll have to thank this friend if I ever get to meet him.”

“Daniel? Yeah, you’d like him.”

“I”m not sure,” she said softly.

“Huh?”

Looking up at him, she clarified, “I meant, I’m not sure where we should start talking. Not that I’m not sure about Daniel. Anyone who can get you to talking is alright in my book.”

“Oh geez, thanks,” he quipped.

“Jack, don’t change the topic by picking on me.” She rested her hand gently on his abdomen.

All the muscles in his body tensed before he willed them to relax. This felt so good, so familiar… so right. “Can’t blame me for trying. I honestly have no idea where to start.”

“Then I will,” she offered. At least, if she could open dialogue, maybe he’d follow along.

He shook his head. “No,” he whispered, “I’ll start.”

It was difficult, but once he started talking, he couldn’t stop. There were moments of laughter, moments of silence. There were a lot of tears. They held onto one another at certain times so tightly it hurt, and he knew Sara was shocked at the level of emotions he expressed during their talk. He couldn’t do this with everyone. In fact, it was a very, very short list of two people that he could be this open with. One, he was holding tightly right now, and the other had pushed him back to her.

He lost track of time, in all honesty. He didn’t get up to leave, and she didn’t ask him to. Somewhere in the midst of all of it, he kissed her forehead. She kissed his cheek. Before either could think of consequences, they were kissing in earnest. But he didn’t press her for more. They didn’t move beyond that, not that he didn’t want to and not that she didn’t… but they needed to take their time with this. It had to be about more than sex. He wanted more than one night with her. As kissing returned to simply holding, he knew what he wanted most… he wanted everything.

*-*-*

“Leaving early again, Sir?”

Jack sighed. If the elevator had been just a smidge faster, he would have made it out without an incident. “It’s 1800 hours, Lt. Colonel. I’ve been here since 0700. That’s not leaving early.”

“Sorry, Sir. It’s just that you used…”

The elevator dinged and the doors opened. “Oh look, elevator.” He gave her a smile. “See ya later, Carter.” Jack waved as the doors closed. He just wasn’t quite ready to talk to a bunch of people about this. Not that Carter was a ‘bunch of people’, but he just wasn’t ready… yet. He watched the numbers as they clicked off and nearly swore when they stopped and the doors opened. The frustrated look was replaced by a smirk upon seeing his best friend. “Daniel,” he greeted.

“Jack,” was the archaeologist’s response.

“Is there something?”

Daniel raised a brow in curiosity and looked around him. “Noooo… Should there be?”

“You tell me. Carter’s thinking I’m shurking my responsibility.”

“Oh she is not!” Daniel retorted. “She notices things and since you share nothing… unless coersed…”

“I do too share,” Jack defended. “I just don’t think I need to be here sixteen hours a day. Besides, all the paper pushing is done.”

“Then you should go… home.”

“I am… you know? Going home.”

Daniel faced his friend, nodded, and then turned back to face the doors of the elevator.

“Just home isn’t where it was before,” Jack admitted to Daniel’s back. It was much easier that way.

“For how long now?” Daniel asked. He was still facing forward, in case Jack needed the barrier for his own personal comfort.

“A couple weeks after I went over that first night. I started going over every night after work.” Jack sighed.

Daniel took that as a cue to turn around and looked at his friend. “You okay?”

Jack nodded. “Fantastic really. I got clearance last week to tell her everything.”

“How’d that go?”

Jack chuckled. “She swore I was a raving loon.”

“You are.”

“I am. She wants to meet you.”

Daniel was nearly shocked at his friend’s cheerful agreement to his smartass comments. Jack was definitely… well… happy. “Great. I’d love to meet her. I mean, I saw her that once but we didn’t get to talk or anything.”

“Daniel,” Jack interrupted as the elevator stopped and he got out. He used his hand to hold open the door and said, “Saturday. Help me move, okay?”

“Sure. Want me to recruit Sam and Teal’c too?”

Jack nodded. See, now this was how Daniel was so helpful. If *he* told Carter and Teal’c about Sara and their reunion, then Jack didn’t have to. “Extra hands would be good and Daniel…”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.” He moved his hand and let the doors slide closed. If it hadn’t been for Daniel, he’d be going home to a cold house in Colorado Springs. Instead, he was driving to Winter Park and a warm home filled with love and second chances. He wasn’t a man given to sentimentality, but to have Sara back… It filled a huge hole inside of him. He would forever love her and now he could share that with her. And who knew? Maybe sometime in the near future he could put his ring back on and there could be a Mrs. General O’Neill.

If working at the SGC and being friends with Daniel had taught him anything, it was that sometimes, you could go back again. Anything was possible.

The End

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