The Other Side

Title: The Other Side

by Christina A.

Timeline: Changeling AU
Disclaimer: I only own Grace and Suzanna.
Archive: At my website and on medie’s Changeling AU page if she wants it.
Author’s Note: The topic came up on LJ recently about writing what you know about. Someone commented that if we did that, there wouldn’t be much fanfiction that anyone could really write. So I got to thinking… being the family member of a firefighter is something I know about. I know how it feels to know that someone you love is putting his/her life on the line to save someone’s home or property. The group that Grace started in this fic is based on a group that actually does exist here in my city… only difference is that the group assists a volunteer fire department. It’s to these people, family members and loved ones, that I dedicate this tidbit of a story because this IS what I know.

Summary: Someone fairly important once said “Write what you know.” In this fic, I did. I am the family member of a firefighter, and I have been there while my father fought fires. The ‘support’ group illustrated in this fic is based on the one that was created by my ‘second’ mother.

The Other Side
by Christina A

It was a life that wasn’t suited for everyone. Being the spouse of a firefighter had its ups and downs. The bond and kinsmanship between the firefighters was undefinable, but it wasn’t just the firefighters who felt it. The families shared in the comraderie as well.

As the wife of the chief of the CSFD, Grace felt a certain responsibility toward the new firefighter’s families. Several of the wives would get together and talk about their concerns and fears or to share silly stories about their spouses. It was a way of bonding… a comfort zone. Everyone understood because everyone went through it. They’d recently included the newest firefighter’s wife into their group. Suzanna Quinn was a bright and bubbly woman who wasn’t ignorant of the dangers her husband faced. Both of the Quinns were excellent additions to the family.

Through this group, Grace recruited Suzanna to join the FDSG, Fire Department Support Group. This group made dinners for the firefighters while they were on duty and even went out to fires with water and food. It wasn’t uncommon for some fires to take six to eight hours to fight, especially the bigger homes and barns. After hearing her husband complain about certain conditions, Grace had talked to the city and set up the group. She’d wanted to help and this was the best way she knew how.

It’s what they were doing now. Grace had just orchestrated the set up of the rest station and was now looking toward the house fire. Her heart always went into her throat when she heard about a house 10-70. The family, fortunately, had all gotten out, so at least they had their lives. She wasn’t so sure they were going to be able to salvage the home. The firefighters were trying, but flames were starting to lick the roof and smoke was rolling out of the rafters. It definitely did not look good.

“Is it always like this?” Suzanna asked, her voice quiet and full of emotion.

Grace could hear the concern and fear. They were emotions she still carried with her. “You mean, do I ever stop worrying? No. Jack may not have to go into many burning buildings anymore, but I still worry. I worry about all of them.” She folded her arms over her chest and watched as Carter and Quinn climbed a ladder to the roof.

“What are they doing?” Suzanna asked, trying not to let her voice quiver as she watched her husband.

Grace reached out and rested a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “Ventilation,” Grace explained. “They go up on the roof and cut holes into it.” She pointed with her free hand to where Jonas was swinging his axe. “Helps them put out the fire actually.”

“That really helps? Isn’t it dangerous? What if they fall through?”

The anxiety was something Grace understood. “They’re very careful about where they walk, Suzanna. They avoid the hot spots and always go in pairs.” She guided the other woman’s eyes to where two other firefighters were coming out of the house. They watched as Jack approached them. He spoke to them and then pointed back to the women. “Well,” Grace said, offering her a pat on the back, “it’s time for us to go to work.” She took the woman’s arm and led her back to the rest area. She put Suzanna to work, helping to get her mind off the fact that one of the people risking their lives was her husband.

It was something she couldn’t completely deny, however, when Jonas and Sam came over for water. He took off his helmet and accepted the water from his wife.

“You okay?” she asked, sitting beside him.

“Oh yeah,” he nodded and took the piece of watermelon another wife offered him, “just hot.”

Grace smiled over from where she was giving Sam a cool towel for the back of her neck. “Turnout gear,” Grace said, giving him a towel as well, “protects you from the fire, but easily causes heat exhaustion if you aren’t careful.”

“That’s why we have you guys,” Sam said with a grateful smile.

“You were taking care of one another long before we came along. We just make it easier.” Whatever else Grace was going to say was interrupted by the sound of one of the EMT’s calling for water.

“I got it,” Suzanna said, leaving her husband’s side to assist the EMT with water for the injured fireman.

“Then there’s always one or two,” Grace commented. She’d done enough of these to know that some firefighters were just more susceptible to the heat than others. Right now, Suzanna was helping to provide care for two such firemen. It was her first time out, and she was definitely getting ‘her feet wet’ on this one. They were always a safe distance from the actual fire so they were never in any physical danger, but they had to witness the effects first hand on those they cared most about. It could be very difficult for some people mentally.

When Suzanna returned, she was a little pale, but she took the towel from Sam as she watched her husband suit up again and put on his MSA. As he headed back to the fire, she whispered, “Be careful.”

Grace put her arm around Suzanna’s shoulders. Those fears… the way the pressure locked up in your chest and sat there… they were all things Grace understood with everything that was in her. The ache of it never went away. But there was pride in there too. She could see it in Suzanna’s eyes. That, more than anything, told Grace all she needed to know.

*-*-*

The next night, Jack and Grace sat down to dinner in front of the fireplace. Grace had started the fire because Jack couldn’t get it to cooperate. If he was miffed by that, he didn’t let on. Instead, he asked, “So, she gonna survive, ya think?”

“Who?”

“The Probie’s wife?”

Grace sighed and shook her head. “Jack, you know I don’t like that. Tradition or not, he has a name, he is a person. If you’re asking me about Jonas’ wife, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I don’t know.” It was something she was adamant about. She loathed that ‘tradition’ of calling someone a ‘probie’. It rankled because he was a person and if anything happened to him, they’d feel his loss just as strongly as they would any of their other brethren.

Jack shook his head. His immediate retort was lost as he saw the seriousness in her eyes. He could face down a burning barn and bark orders to other firemen with ease, but he couldn’t stand up to that look in his wife’s eyes. “Okay, fine. Yes, I meant Jonas’ wife.”

“Then yes,” she said with a smile, “she will survive. It wasn’t easy, though. She reminded me of my first time. It’s hard enough sitting at home and worrying. Seeing it first hand, it’s completely different. She’ll do well though. She actually has a knack for taking care of people.”

Jack reached out and took his wife’s hand. They didn’t say much else. There really wasn’t a need. The support group that Grace had put together had been a Godsend. The number of incidents of heat exhaustion and overexertion had decreased by three-fourths, and it didn’t cost the city a penny. Everyone was happy all the way around with the FDSG.

The downside was that it was difficult for some of the spouses. Some would show up for one fire and never be able to go to another. Some plowed through no matter how hard it was. Some had to watch their spouses be pulled from a burning building injured. The fear was a real one, and Jack O’Neill admired them for facing it as they did.

Jack even had to admit that he liked the Probie… Jonas… and was glad that his wife was going to be able to play an intregal role in their family. It was a family too, one that faced things head on and took care of one another whatever happened. It wasn’t just the firefighters who took risks. There was a whole other side to it that the public didn’t see, but that side was the most important to those on the front lines. He was very grateful and lucky to have his wife leading it… they were all lucky to have them involved.

The End

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