It's always when you least expect it something amazing happens. A few hours ago I was shopping for presents and now here I am talking to someone that still makes my heart flutter, even though it's been nearly five years. Of course when I met him I was rushing around like a mad thing trying to search for the kids presents and being the day before Christmas Eve all the best presents had been bought. It was by the games stand was where I first saw him. His face was still the same, barely showing his age and even his grey hair just made him look more distinguished. I wasn't even convinced at first that it wasn't merely someone that looked like him; I mean he didn't live in Colorado Springs anymore but I just couldn't miss the opportunity to find out.
He turns to face me and I'm utterly relieved it's him but then it dawns on me who this is. My heart skips a beat when I remember our past.
"Sam, great to see you" he moved into hug me and I gladly allowed him to. We held on for a bit too long, as neither of us wanted to let go.
"I didn't realise you were back in Colorado Springs" I commented in curiosity.
"Just for today, I'm getting the last of the Christmas shopping done."
"In the toy department?"
"Well you know me and toys!" he joked and I was reminded of how well I used to know him and how much that's now changed.
"True" I smiled back.
"So who are the toys for?" he asked motioning to my trolley.
"For Luke and Ellie."
"Who are they?"
"My children" he seemed shocked. He did know about Luke, as he came to the christening but that was the last time I saw him and was so long ago. "I'm sorry I never called when Ellie was born it just got so. chaotic."
"It's ok, I know you don't have much time, so how's Mark doing?" He really emphasised his name.
I took a deep breath in. "I left him nearly a year ago."
I'm sure he smiled but then tried to cover it up. "I'm so sorry, what happened?"
"He had an affair with a woman at work." I still hate saying it, I just feel stupid. I didn't mention that I found out later they'd been together for over 6 months behind my back. I just felt so naive about it and hoe I missed all the obvious signs but when you have two kids you generally don't have time to notice. What really hurt was the fact that Ellie was less than a year old when we split and neither of them understood what was happening with their parents. It's just not right.
"What a jerk!" he commented. "How are you coping with it?"
"Its ok now, I was utterly shocked at first and blamed myself but now I'm glad I found out what he was really like. How about you, are you married?" As usual I was straight to the point.
"Nope, I haven't met the right woman." He stared at me and I couldn't help myself.
"Do you want to go for a drink?"
"At 3 in the afternoon!"
I laugh. "Not that kind of drink! What do you think I've turned into an alcoholic!" he laughed. "I meant coffee, I've got some time before I need to be back to relieve the nanny."
"I'd love to."
So that was it, and why I am now in heaven. We've been talking non-stop for hours now but all my feelings are all mixed up as it feels as if I've just stepped back five years. I can't help but stare at his amazing body, I know its shallow but he's nearly ten years older than me and I'm starting to feel old especially in my mumsy outfit. Of course I had to see him when my hair had been swept up by the wind and curled manically round my face. Even my clothes of jeans and baggy blue jumper I am just screaming that I'm a mum. Yet he doesn't seem to notice and the more I talk to him the more I forget that I'm not still working with him. Although neither of us have mentioned what really happened five years ago.
"Jack" I take a deep breath in. "Do you still think of Teal'c and Daniel?" my eyes lower to the table as I remember how distraught he was after their deaths, as we both were but he took it the worst. I know he blamed himself, and no matter how many times I tried to tell him there was nothing he could have done. He just didn't listen. They died saving our planet from takeover and although most people will never know what they gave up for our freedom, those who did will never forget them. Yet, Jack never saw the silver lining, the reason behind their deaths. He only acknowledged the fact that they died under his command. I had tried so desperately to comfort him but he went into solace refusing most of the time to even see me and I guess I just gave up.
"Every day" he replies sadly. Instant guilt fills me, was I wrong to ask him?
"You know now it wasn't your fault, right?" I try to sound hopeful.
He's silent. Way to kill the conversation Sam.
"Jack" I take his hand in my mind. "They died to save us, remember them for what they did. They deserve to be recognised as the heroes they were."
"I know, but.."
"No buts. It was five years ago and I'm not going to let you mope any more about it. I let you once before but I'm not going to take no for an answer." I tell him determined.
"And what was the question?"
I smile. "The question is.." Here goes nothing. "What are you doing on Christmas Day?"
He stops and the smile fades. "Nothing much, I've heard there's a Simpsons Marathon on TV."
"Well, do you mind giving up the Simpsons just this once?" I question knowing, how he still cracks up watching episodes of the show, even though he's seen them all at least 10 times.
"It would have to be a good offer."
"It depends on what you view good, would coming to spend the day with the kids and I better?" I smile and hope for an answer.
"I would love to but.."
"Didn't I say no buts!"
"True, but then are you sure I wouldn't be spoiling your day. I mean the kids have never even met me before, how would they react to someone new at Christmas?" I'm touched by his concern.
"You think your going to get out of that easily.wait I know what the reason is, you don't trust my cooking do you?"
He laughs. "And why would I not after you're past masterpieces!" I giggle as I remember the last time I cooked for the guys and Jack. One very burnt chicken followed by blackened vegetables finished with some obscure wine which no of us could work out what it tasted like. The meal yes was my fault, but the wine was all Teal'c, somehow he'd found this old wine shop the other side of the market and being Teal'c this hadn't struck him as odd!
"Give me credit it was Charred-grilled chicken!" I quipped. Ok I admit it. It was a bad pun.
"Now that wasn't too bad, but still not as bad as that wine Teal'c bought!" he joked
"So what do you say? Come about 12?"
"Sure, why not. I can always record the Simpsons! Wait where do you live?"
I give the address and leave happier than I have been in a long time.
"It's Chrissmass!" I roll over to where the shouting came from and open my eyes to see my four-year-old son with a grin from ear to ear.
I smile and move to get out of bed. "So what did Santa get you this year?" I ask him as I kiss him on the cheek. I look over to Ellie, who is luckily still asleep in her cot.
Luke is literally bobbing up and down as I get the wrapped gifts out from the sack. "Cool, a red racing car and set." He's beaming because I know his love for cars. Typical boy.
"Aren't you a lucky boy? Now open the rest of the gifts."
I leave him to shred the mass of wrapping paper and walk into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. A few minutes later I hear crying from my room.
"Shh" I tell Ellie as I hold her in my arms. She quietens from the attention and I take her into Luke's room.
"Look who's awake?"
Luke, the amazingly caring brother he is, truly my friends are amazed by how much he loves his sister, kisses Ellie on the cheek and tells her. "Happy Chrissmass".
I put her on the floor. "Now do you want to help your sister open her present while mummy gets dressed?"
He gladly nods and now I'm faced with the awful decision of what to wear. I want him to remember I'm not just a mum; I'm still Sam just a bit older. I glance through my wardrobe and spy a tight red top and my black chords. I glance at my watch and realise the time. It's nearly 10 and I rush into see how the kids are.
Of course Ellie is covered in wrapping paper and smiling as she throws her new teddy bear at her brother. I'm impressed by her accurate shot. "Mummy, can we open our presents from you now?" Luke asks innocently as I pick up Ellie and gently remove the bits of paper attached to her
I laugh. "Haven't you opened enough presents?"
"You can as soon as I get you and your sister out of your pyjamas."
"Why?" he's got to that awkward stage where everything is questioned.
"Because one of mummy's old friends is coming and I don't think he wants to see your pyjamas"
Luke looks curious as to whom I'm speaking about but realises that the more time he wastes asking me, the more time it will be till he gets his presents. Or at least that's what I assume the cheeky little grin means and how quick he is to he help me to dress him.
The dinner is on and I put one of the new Disney video's on for the kids to watch. I glance at my watch and I can't believe it's nearly twelve, where has the time gone?
The doorbell rings as I smooth my hair down as best as possible and check the subtle makeup I've just applied. I open the door and he stands there gorgeous as ever. I still can't believe he's here.
"Was the invitation to get into the house or just to stand on the doorstep?"
I laugh. "Well, as nice as the doorstep in you might like to come inside."
"I think I just might."
Luke rushes to the door and stops in his tracks when he sees Jack. He wavers then ducks to my side.
Jack smiles and then looks at Luke. "Now what's your name? I'm Jack a friend of your mum."
Luke remains fixed on the spot and I'm surprised at his shyness. Jack then reaches into his pocket and produces a wrapped gift. Instantly Luke's eyes light up and I know he's won over.
"I bought this for you, would you like to open it?"
Still Luke looks to me to confirm that this present isn't a trap. I nod and he moves towards Jack. Ellie wondering what the fuss is waddles in and tugs at my leg. Luke doesn't notice her entrance and continues to rip the wrapping paper off so quickly I'm amazed. His face lights up as he sees a remote controlled toy car, a special one for kids.
"What do you say Luke?"
"Would you like me to show how it works?" Luke nods and with that Jack had won over Luke. Ellie is far harder to crack as she refuses to leave my side until Jack pretend to be a popcorn machine. Meaning he makes a very funny face and mimics the sound a popcorn machine makes. It doesn't sound like much but it obviously has a lasting impression with Ellie!
Finally its lunchtime and I can show Jack what being a mother has made me.
"Wow, Sam this is really good" Jack comments as I put a succulent non-burnt turkey with an array of vegetables on the table which Jack compliments with a bottle of wine.
"I took some cookery classes with a friend, before Luke was born." I admit.
"Well it certainly worked" he replies while eating his second slice of turkey.
"Thank you" I smile as I watch Ellie being too playful with her food and Luke eating it up far quickly so he can get to pudding. He's already spied the chocolate ice cream.
"Finished" Luke replies two minutes later and even Jack looks amazed.
"More turkey?" I joke.
"Do you think you can wait till Jack and your sister finishes?"
"But Ellie takes forever, she's not even eating she's just moving her spoon around!" he complains whilst looking desperately at the ice cream.
"Its ok. I'm finished" Jack tells him a minute later. Luke looks as if Jack is now his best friend as he beams straight at him.
"Ice cream?" Luke asks hopefully.
"You sure you don't want Christmas cake instead?" I tease.
"Ergh!" he replies. He had insisted on trying a bit of it the other day and hated it. "I want ice cream!"
I serve up ice cream for Luke and Ellie who escape quickly from the table and cake for us. God I love saying us. Even though by the way we've been acting with each other no one could have been able to tell we'd been anything more than friends. Maybe that's all he wants but.what if its not? Do I want more? I used to, but five years is as long time. Now I have two kids to think of and even though I don't think I'm different than I was when I last saw him. I know I am. I no longer think that my work is the most important thing, I still love it but my children are what I look forward to seeing. Playing with them is like nothing else, even if they do drive me crazy half the time.
"Deep thought?" I shake my head and look up at Jack.
"Sorry, just thinking about how much I've changed since I last saw you."
"In two days, that's amazing!"
I laugh. "You know what I meant."
"You're right, you have, and you're more relaxed. Its nice." He finishes.
What does he mean it's nice?
"I guess it's the kids, I had to change when they came along. It really prioritises you."I stop when I really how often I've been speaking about them. When today of all days he would have been thinking about Charlie. He would have been an adult by now. Strange to think but god now I feel terrible. "I'm sorry Jack."
"For what?" he questions
"For talking about my kids so much, I know how much losing Charlie hurt you."
"I admit I do still think of him especially seeing you with your kids but you should never be afraid to speak about them with me. Their great kids, you've done a good job raising them and I can see how much you love them. Please speak about them because if you don't I miss hearing about a big part of you.Sam?"
"I know it's a long shot but is there anyway we could go for a walk alone?" he asks me.
I pause and think for a minute. "I think so, I'll just have to check with Janice, she's the neighbour and has two kids of her own. I know Luke and Ellie would love it."
I phone her up and she agrees so here I am walking with Jack in the park. Its empty and all the trees are glistening with snow.
"Sam" he turns to me as we sit down on a bench. "I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to. I know it's been five years and a lot has changed since then but I never forgot you. I've spent a long time regretting letting you go and I admit when you married Mark I've never been so jealous" Oh my god! "I know you have two kids." He stops.
"Jack" I take his hand in mine. "Just because I have children it needn't change us."
"Sam.I.. I.. I love you" he finishes looking straight into my eyes.
"I love you too Jack."
"Yes, when I saw you in the supermarket my heart leapt."
"But you married Mark?"
"I never loved Mark, the way I loved you" I told him honestly.
"Sam I know we've only just met again, but I don't want to be ever away from you again" he moves down onto one knee.
Oh my God.
"Will you marry me?"
Marriage, so soon? What about the kids, how will they feel? I love him, but am I ready for marriage? Has he changed, he doesn't seemed to have but I've only spent two afternoons together with him.
I feel his lips on mine and I know what my answer is.
I love Christmas, but this one has to be the best one yet. Luke is running through the house and Ellie is sweetly trying to dance to the Christmas music. I can't believe so much has changed in a year, but I don't regret any of it.
"Yes" I look at him lovingly and remember how just a year ago, my dreams came true as I became Mrs Jack O'Neill.
"I love you" he tells me and moves in for a kiss.
"I love you too" I reply and smile as I remember how one chance meeting in a supermarket was the reason for my happiness, but I like to think of it not as a chance but that it was destiny or just a wish finally fulfilled.
Merry Christmas everyone!