Story Notes: Sara's Journal - EMAIL:

SPOILERS/SEASON INFO: Knowledge of Broca Divide and Solitudes may help.

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AUTHOR'S NOTES: Follows "Sara's Journal" and "Sara's Journal - Thoughts". Thanks to everyone who sent feedback - it's so encouraging!

Copyright (c) January 2000

February 15th 20X1

I have only one word to describe my first Valentine's Day experience - Wow. I mean a really, really big Wow. It was actually the first time I've had the whole nine yards, so to speak. You know, the flowers, the chocolates, the romantic dinners. I’ve never understood the concept until now, just thought of it as a ploy by florists and chocolate makers to generate more sales. I mean, come on - if you really liked a person you should show it 365 days of the year (well, 366 during leap years) and not just on this one day, when everything you see is red - red roses, stupid floral red chocolate boxes, even red tablecloths on dining tables (okay, maybe the last one was a bit of an exaggeration). I mean, think about it - on this one day, the price of roses goes sky high, you get fat by ingesting copious amounts of discarded chocolate (mom doesn't really like chocolate, although dad keeps on buying them for her every year - you'd think he would've gotten it by now that she's not actually the one who eats them - I am) and feel depressed and lonely in the bargain (that was me before this year - how sad!). I know I shouldn't put so much weight onto it - I mean, I'm still young, I've got my whole life to live, happiness doesn't come with a guy in your life, blah blah - but really, Valentine's Day *does* mean a lot when you are with someone - especially with someone as special as Tom.

Oh there I go - I'm getting terribly moony these days. I didn't use to be this way - I was all cynical, as is the birthright of every teenager in the world - scorning the tradition of giving flowers, chocolates, and other useless confectionary. I never understood it. I mean, *never* understood why the day was so important and all, why couples were so squishly happy about it, never understood why dad would turn into Mr. Romantic this one day of the year and not some other day, never understood why Jake was always broke trying to send stuff to about a dozen different girls.

But this year was different ... because this year I actually had someone to share the day with, instead of sitting at home in our gigantic house feeling sorry for myself. I guess I felt the loneliness more since my family thinks it's such a big deal - you wouldn't think that Air Force Generals and Colonels would take something so blatantly commercialistic like Valentine's Day seriously - but they do. Which just goes to show another of life's fundamental truths - parents are strange sometimes.

Man I talk a lot. But then again, I suppose this is my diary so I can write as much as I want. Although I might get cramps in my hands before I even begin to get to the point I'm trying to make ... Oh there I go again, I've written down like, four lines that mean absolutely nothing ...

Anyway, back to the topic for today - Valentine's Day. It's *such* a big deal with us O'Neills, I don't quite know why. I guess it kinda makes sense for mom and dad though - I mean, they're always telling us times when one of them nearly lost their lives - and I'm sure that's not even a quarter of it, since they don't tell us about the highly classified stuff. Dad told us once how he had to crawl through the desert with a broken leg because no rescue mission was possible. 9 days he said. *9 days.* I shiver whenever I think about it. I mean, I've broken my leg before, and it hurts like hell. Absolutely kills. Man, I couldn't imagine feeling like that and *still* having to crawl around trying to get home. It's times like these that I look at him and wonder how he could've gotten through so much and still be this great dad for us - which is why I *know* I'm lucky to have him as a dad. Only I hardly ever tell him or else we'd never wipe the smug grin off his face.

So every year mom and dad make a big deal out of it (Valentine's Day that is). Dad is such a closet romantic, I swear he is. Usually he'd just swagger around and do that rugged tough guy thing whenever Jake or I played up around the house. I mean, imagine him - he's the beer in one hand, watching sports on TV, culinary challenged kinda dad - cleans whenever mom tells him to, can't cook to save his life - that type. But on Valentine's Day - dad the closet romantic outs himself. Ever since I can remember, dad would do the whole routine. Every year, he'd get up before day break, drive to the market to get the freshest flowers, drive back, and spread them all around the house. He'd put a bunch on the dining table, a bunch in the kitchen, a bunch in the family room - I think one year he even put a bunch in the bathroom (hmmm, questionable hygiene there). Then he'd save one huge bunch beside the bed for mom when she wakes up - if that isn't romantic I don't know what is. I mean, there're not just all the same kind of flowers, the thing that gets me is that they're all *different* - whether it's roses or tulips or whatever - and the mix is never the same. I asked him once why he always chooses different flowers and he said something about seeing mom's beauty in everything - which made my face turn a slight shade of green thinking how gross and mushy it was - I think dad is also a closet poet. Or maybe he just picked up some fancy language from Uncle Daniel. I don't know. I don't *want* to know.

So, dad goes to all this effort for Valentine's Day - but that's only the bit before mom wakes up. What happens *after* will take, like, three million pages to describe in full detail, but I think I'll stick to the Cliff Notes version. She wakes up, smiles up at dad (I know since I used to plonk myself on their bed when I was younger - never knew the whole three's a crowd thing until later) and they exchange gifts. Usually it's mind crunchingly meaningful presents too - but don't ask my why an ice crusher and a midriff tank top are suitable presents for this particular occasion. Again, the policy is don't ask.

It's the same year after year - they'd eventually drag themselves downstairs and make breakfast (or as is usually the case, lunch) together, snuggling up and whispering to each other like they were dating or something - kinda sick to look at, since it's my parents and all, but even a cynic such as I can appreciate true love when I see it ... *just*. Then they'd take off since dad's always got something special planned, like the time when they went camping (is that romantic? A bit unconventional perhaps) or last year, when he organised this whole field trip thing and mapped out every single place they went to together before they were married. You know, like the park where they first kissed, held hands, etc etc. I know, how corny. Hard to imagine him doing such stuff. It's so ... *romantic*.

I told Uncle Daniel once when he came over to baby sit us (well, me in essence, since Jake was kinda old enough to climb out the window by then) what dad did for Valentine's day and he just cracked up. Said it was hard imagining dad being so mushy and moony. Then of course I got into trouble for telling him cos afterward Uncle Daniel just kept teasing dad about it and made him turn about 23 different shades of red. (perfect for Valentine's Day, don't you think??) Dad wouldn't buy me ice-cream for a *month*.


But this year ... this year was different. I mean, I got to spend it with someone - namely, Tom. He came over to pick me up for dinner and brought me the biggest bunch of roses that I've ever gotten in my life (so okay, I'd never gotten a bunch of flowers before, so any bunch would be big in comparison ...) and the obligatory chocolates. Actually it was an extra special occasion since it was also the first time Tom met my parents.

I was so nervous about it ... more nervous than when I'd met his parents, since I knew what a bombshell it'd be to dad, finding out that Tom's mom was his ex-wife. That's so weird. It weirds *me* out, not to mention how dad would feel. How small *is* the world for that to happen?

And I was even more nervous since dad arranged it so that they wouldn't leave for dinner until after Tom had picked me up. You should've seen me - I was practically hyperventilating I was so nervous. I wasn't scared that they wouldn't like him - I mean, Tom's so likeable that he gets along with everyone - but I was scared that dad might scare the living daylights out of him. Dad can be a touch ... aggressive at times. Scary too. Maybe uh ... also a little intimidating ...

You should've seen the expression on his face when I mentioned casually to him that my *boyfriend* was picking me up for dinner. Dad just got this ... stunned fish look (sorry, there's no other way to describe it). I mean, he stood stock still, his eyes bulged a bit (and that's a lot for him, since his eyes aren't the bulging type), then he whirled around to ask mom whether she knew about this, and wasn't I a little young to be dating already? Mom was like, "come on Jack, haven't you noticed she's been going out a lot lately? Talking on the phone ..." and dad was like "Ah ... *no*." That was the only thing he could say for about 10 minutes. You'd think he'd have this ultra quick reaction time since he's military trained and all, but no ...

So, things were tense for a while there. Tom was supposed to pick me up at 7:30pm, and at 7:15pm dad was already sitting out in the hallway preparing for the big showdown. It was a bit strange really ... for one thing he was all decked out in a black suit (he never wears one, I mean, if you don't count his dress uniform - says it makes him feel like he's wearing a straight jacket) since he and mom were going to this fancy restaurant, and for another thing he kept on giving dark looks towards the door. He looked like one of those mafia hitmen or something, except that he wasn't Italian. I don't know why he was so worried anyway - I mean, I'm 15 - it's not as if it isn't perfectly normal for a girl my age to be going out with someone - plus not discounting the fact that Jake has been going out with girls since the dawn of time. Mom says it's because I'm a girl ... his little girl, his princess, whatever. She says he's a little protective sometimes. Um, *a little*? I'd say a *hell* of a lot.

But things turned out fine ... thank God. Tom came at precisely 7:25pm, dressed in a pair of respectable pair of pants and a tightish black top (yum, yum ... okay, not dwelling too much on that image, or else I'd hyperventilate again ... ) that made him look very very *good*. I mean, good as in respectable good as well as attractive good you know ... He handed me my bunch of roses while mom beamed at him - I could tell she liked him straight away. I think they're sort of the same kind of person - very open and friendly, easy to talk to and stuff. Anyway, I did the introductions - Tom did the whole "Mr and Mrs O'Neill, what a nice house you have" sucking up thing, and he and mom talked about the weather (or something like that - I wouldn't know, since I was mentally biting my nails at the time trying to gauge dad's reaction), while dad was giving Tom the obligatory evil eye all dads give to potential suitors for their only daughters. I'm rolling my eyes at the very thought of it. I mean, it's just such a *cliché* ... dad can be *so* predictable sometimes ...

And then what do you know ... after silently trying to intimidate him with his General's glare for about 15 minutes, dad started the interrogation ... uh, I mean *conversation*. I swear he is so old fashioned sometimes! I think the whole dad interrogation routine ended sometime in the nineteenth century, but ... I guess not. There was the whole "So, you're a junior at Colorado Springs High Tom? You play any sports?" to gauge his sporting prowess. Then the "What do you plan to do at college?" to gauge his academic suitability and sense of responsibility ... I was meanwhile getting more and more nervous since all his questioning would inevitably lead to Tom's parents, and in particular, his mother ... I was dreading it, although I was sort of also morbidly fascinated by it. I mean, there *was* a slight chance that dad would actually drop down dead with shock after hearing it, you know? Or maybe not.

Well, he was surprised. Extremely, gigantically, enormously surprised. I mean, if there was a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being extreme shock, then dad would've hit ... about 316. He asked Tom about his parents, and Tom happily launched into his story on how dad already knew his mom. The *look* on dad's face - I was right before, it was absolutely *priceless*. Now why hadn't I prepared the camera before? It was like, the second big shock of the night, and he'd just gotten used to the whole boyfriend thing ... he practically fell off his chair. Actually I'm sure he would've if mom hadn't held on to him ... she was surprised too, since she got this funny look on her face for a while, but then it disappeared when she started talking to him again. But dad ... he barely choked out "How's your mom these days?" before shutting up. I think he was thinking about Charlie ... apparently Charlie looked a lot like his mom, and from what I could tell, Tom looked a lot like Mrs Ryan, so ... I guess there had to be some resemblance ... But it's a bit icky to think about it that way, since Charlie's my brother and Tom's ... well, he's not.

I'm laughing out loud now just thinking of dad's face. It was such a riot!

The rest of the time went quite well too. I mean, once dad partially recovered from the shock (full recovery wasn't possible I guess) I think he actually didn't mind Tom ... which is, I guess, the best thing that could've happened. There was *no way* that dad would've welcomed him with open arms, so to speak. Not for stealing his little girl away ...

So, Tom and I had a cool night. We didn't have much time since dad pretty much insisted on me getting back before midnight ... actually he wanted me to get back before 9pm, but then mom subtly reminded him that, ah, we couldn't actually have dinner and a movie in an hour's time ... dad's a bit bull headed sometimes. But you know what? I kinda like that, in a way. It shows he cares ... Call me a softie ... I think I'm more like mom than I thought!

We went to this nice Italian restaurant ... well actually the food details are pretty much secondary here, since the most important thing that happened was ... *He gave me a ring.* A ring. Wow. I mean, we haven't really been going out for that long ... let me see, counting from Halloween (our first date) it'd be about ... (this is where my ineptitude at maths comes out - I blame my dad for this!) three and a bit months (best I can do without a calculator and without making my brain hurt). So now it's hanging on a chain around my neck (I don't like wearing rings, since I'm always doing stuff with my hands ...) and I love to feel the weight of it against my skin. Hmmm ... What does that say about me? I guess ... I like to be loved.

After that we went to the ice-cream place and well, had some ice-cream. Yum. I love ice-cream, although I guess one day I'd regret having so much of it. Let's hope that chubby is *in* by the time I reach that age ... Anyway, he walked me home. He is so dreamy. And cute. And handsome and gorgeous and adorable and a thousand different superlatives. His blue eyes actually *gleam* in the moonlight ... makes me breathless just imagining it!

I came home at 11pm and yep, dad was already patrolling the front door to check that I came back on time. He and mom must've had a pretty quick dinner ... I was just glad that my cell phone didn't ring more than a few times ... dad has a habit of checking up on people. Actually, it's just me and mom. After twenty years, you'd think he'd know that mom can pretty much take care of herself ... but no. He rings her whenever she's late from work or wherever. I guess it could be force of habit. I mean, he was her CO for a while ... it makes sense.

Luckily mom kinda knew that I didn't want to get quizzed by dad about what I did, so she whispered something to him and pretty much pushed him up the stairs before he could get more than a few words in. Thank god mom is so cluey. But then ... I sort of found out what she said to him to get him upstairs so quickly ... bad *bad* noises started filtering through to my room. I mean, you'd think that beds nowadays shouldn't *creak* ... and you'd think my room was sufficiently far enough away from them to not hear the moaning, but no ... why oh why did my mind have to go *there*?

Ah, okay ... think of something else ...

I spoke to Cassie today and she told me she's going out with someone too! Wow. (okay, so I'm using the word a lot ...) The whole world is in love. I was so surprised. I mean, she's always been this woman on a mission, career minded gal so we (as in my family, Aunt Janet, Uncle Daniel, Uncle Teal'c etc) never wondered why she didn't really go out like 'normal' teenagers. Mom told me she was a bit like that too when she was a kid. Uncle Mark used to tease her about being a geek cause she studied so much ... I could definitely imagine that ... I mean, you don't get to be this astrophysics expert without doing a bit of studying, right? But for me personally, it makes my head ache to think of spending *any* extra time to study ... I'd rather be playing hockey, or basketball, or helping dad to fix the car ... Yeah, I think the whole thing about me being my "father's daughter" is actually pretty accurate. Dad and I do heaps together ... I think it's because we like so much of the same stuff. I've always liked the outdoors ... physical stuff, where you can really get your hands dirty. I mean, even when I was a kid, dad would catch me pretending to be a soldier in the back yard ... rolling around, jumping off trees ... Which is, incidentally, very different from the usual preoccupation with *dolls* that most girls have ... I know I know, I'm just weird ... oh wait, that would be *special* ...

So anyway, about Cassie. I was really surprised ... and very happy for her. She's so nice and smart. I wonder what he looks like? She says that if all goes well, she'll probably bring him home with her sometime this year. (they've apparently been going out for 4 months ... hmmm, nice of her to *not* mention it!) Aunt Janet was over here just before telling us about it (ah, I don't think she came over *especially* to tell us ... at least I *hope* not ...) and from what I managed to overhear .... I mean, hear (of course) she's pretty pleased. His name's Brian and he's also at MIT (figures) ... doing some complicated physics stuff that I didn't quite catch the name of ... I think they'd get along pretty well. I mean, if all else fails at least they'd have the whole science thing in common ...

I think this is what people would call gossiping. Oh man ... now I'm gossiping ... Could I possibly get *any* more girly? Dad would be ribbing me about this if he knew. He's *always* teasing me whenever I put a dress on ... he'd ask me with that sly grin of his where I was going that was so *special* (that's how he says it, I swear) ... as if it wasn't my absolute *right* as a member of the female species to wear a dress ... hmph. I think he gets me a little confused with Jake sometimes. I mean, besides the whole he's a guy and I'm a girl thing. Jake's pretty much an indoor person (that is, whenever he's not out with some girl or some buddies of his). He'd rather stay at home fiddling with his computer than go out fishing with me and dad ... sometimes mom would come too, but mostly, she's too busy.

Can't believe that I've written so much already. I mean, I've practically forgotten about this diary for months and months ... always mean to write in it, but somehow I've never gotten round to it. I think I'm just a little too excited over the whole Valentine's Day experience. Yeah, it's pretty good to write everything out like that ... no wonder Uncle Daniel likes it. Hmm (thoughtfully pondering here).

Oh man, is that the time? I've got to get to bed ... gotta wake up early tomorrow to meet Tom for breakfast. I'm smiling about now. Hee hee. I'm always smiling when I think of him ... I think I'm going to have sweet dreams tonight! At least I hope so ...

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