DISCLAIMER: I think we all know I don't own them. MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Sci-Fi channel and a host of others have that honor and privilege. Because I love these characters, I borrow them from time to time and play with them. I make no money from this … it's strictly a labor of love and a tribute to those people who have made the show and characters come to life. (Is that enough of a suck up to avoid getting sued? <wry smile>)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm not sure why this little piece wanted me to write it. I only hope it's actually worth reading. At any rate, I realize I'm kinda taking some poetic license with regard to the vegetables and flowers mentioned within … in that I have no idea what normally is ripe or flowering at the same time in Colorado <g>. Just know that I know it might well be wrong … and we'll leave it at that <g>. Anyhow, if you have any thoughts you want to share, you can reach me here.
SEASON: could be any … I'll randomly choose the early part of five.
SPOILERS: relatively minor ones for One False Step.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

An Ordinary Life
By ocean gazer


Janet hummed softly – and somewhat tunelessly – as she walked barefoot across the lawn, headed for the garden. Normally, she would have slipped on a pair of sandals before heading outside, not wanting to risk stepping on a sharp rock or an angry insect. Today, however, the childlike urge to run free had struck her and she couldn't resist its appeal. She was taking a very well deserved week of vacation and it was time to play a little. Time to let go of the starched, crisp, professional persona that had come to dominate her life.

The recently trimmed blades of grass felt soft against the calloused soles of her feet. She stopped walking for a moment, reveling in the sensation. Being a doctor meant that she spent long hours on her feet (despite the plethora of paperwork), which consequentially meant that she was used to them hurting. So it was a delight, really, to be standing barefoot and feeling no twinge of pain, no hint of discomfort. A simple pleasure, but sometimes the simplest ones were the most satisfying.

Still humming some nameless melody, she wiggled her toes, smiling at the way it felt to have the grass rubbing her skin. She looked around her backyard, proud of the neatly mowed lawn and the weed-free flowerbeds. It took a lot of work to keep things looking so nice, but the results were definitely worth it. Janet had always enjoyed the more domestic delights of hearth and home – not just because she liked to have things in order, but also because she derived a great deal of happiness from being in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Sometimes, given that aspect of her personality, it amazed her that she'd not only pursued a career in medicine, but had also gone through the military to boot. She loved being able to heal people … and overall, she enjoyed the challenge of her job. But there were times when she wondered why she'd stayed with it, especially since the long hours and the erratic schedules of the SGC kept her from some of the other things she loved to do. A career in medicine would always involve emergencies and such, but she could easily pursue private practice and have a lot more time for her family. And herself.

She shook her head slightly to chase that thought away, not wanting to spend her time away from work thinking about work. Her eyes roamed around the yard again, taking in the vibrant colors of dahlias, hyacinths, roses, lavender, gladiolas, and zinnias. She'd always loved flowers and was happy to finally have a home where there was ample room to plant them. Looking around, she smiled as she saw three of those white, ubiquitous, nameless butterflies dancing in the air. Yet another thing she loved – butterflies.

The early afternoon sun was warm on her exposed arms and legs. Thankfully, there was a gentle breeze that kept her from feeling too hot under the summer sun. It really was a beautiful day. As she stood there, sounds began to filter into her brain and she was vaguely amazed at all the things she could hear. So much of her life was spent around medical machinery, locked deep in the belly of a mountain, that it was often surprising how quiet the world could be without the steady drone and hum of technology. Even her time at home was often dominated by machine noise – the computer, the dishwasher, the television, and Cassandra's radio.

It was a Wednesday morning in a quiet cul-de-sac, so the rumble of cars and trucks was distant at best. She could hear the soft rustle of wind fluttering through the tree leaves, the low buzz of bees flitting from flower to flower, the excited chirp of birds flying from perch to perch. There was the melodious tinkle of wind chimes and the wooden thud of a pounding hammer. A dog was barking somewhere in the distance and she caught the faint, wind-blown drift of children's delighted squeals and laughter. The sounds of normal, everyday life.

Shifting her wicker basket from her right hand to her left, Janet uprooted her feet from the grass and started walking again. Her garden wasn't very big – just three raised beds holding a few crops each. But she was proud of it nonetheless. She'd wanted a garden ever since she moved to Colorado, but between working and adopting Cassandra, this was the first year she'd actually managed to get one planted. It was a promise she'd made to herself – that she was going to make the time to do some more of the things she enjoyed. Sam had helped her – building the wooden beds and setting up an irrigation system that was far more complex than the little garden (not to mention the simple flowerbeds) really needed.

At the thought, Janet smiled. That was so like her Sam.

Reaching the first bed, she squatted down, methodically checking to see if there were any late-growing green beans still on the vine. Her fingers sifted through the leaves and came up empty, which wasn't really a surprise since the crop had already come and gone. Still, it was in her nature to make sure. Straightening up a bit, she moved a little farther down the row, then squatted down again to check her carrots. Gently prying one out of the ground, she inspected it critically. It didn't look quite full-grown and ready, but she put it in her basket anyhow, figuring that since she'd picked it, she should keep it.

She straightened up again and then moved over to check her zucchini, not surprised to find three plump ones ready to pick. It wasn't a vegetable she cared for particularly, but since Cassandra – surprisingly – liked it, she'd planted one. It never ceased to amaze Janet just how prolific a single zucchini plant could be. She chuckled to herself, remembering that when she'd visited her grandparents as a child, she often was sent door to door in the neighborhood trying to give away the extra produce from their garden.

Thankfully she'd learned from their mistakes and planted only what she thought her family could eat. Of course, for her, this was a luxury … something she was doing to nurture herself. It wasn't a necessity for survival. And since her time was already fairly full between long hours of work and her other chores and responsibilities, there was no way she could have dealt with the half-acre garden her grandparents had tended. Even if she'd had room for it.

Moving on, she bent to study the lettuce, deciding to let the few remaining heads grow a little larger before picking them. Then she moved on to the tomato plants, standing mutant tall in the center of the garden bed. She had no idea why they'd grown so big, but chalked it up to the unpredictability inherent in growing things. One of the joys of gardening – one that she'd forgotten since childhood – was watching plants sprout, of knowing that she was nurturing life. And it was fun to watch the plants grow and produce, of knowing that she'd had a hand in that. Not that Sam or Cassandra shared her joy at the growth cycle, but that was ok. It was her hobby, and at least Sam would help with the work as she had time, even though she didn't get any particular satisfaction from it.

Janet smiled as she looked at the ripe, red-orange tomatoes waiting to be picked. The plants, in their own way, were as bounteous as zucchini. But here she hadn't tried to limit her planting to just one plant. She'd opted for one each of four varieties – Roma, Heirloom, Italian Plum, and cherry. What she, Cass, and Sam couldn't eat fresh, she planned to make into marinara sauce and freeze. And she'd managed, with no little bit of luck, to take her vacation during the week she had a bumper crop to pick. Not that it would have mattered – had she been working, she simply would have done her cooking around her work schedule. It was just nice to know that she didn't have to, that she could take the time to really enjoy her time in the kitchen, rather than racing through it to get done.

So much of her life was spent racing from thing to thing – rushing between work, chores, and Cassandra's activities. It felt like a luxury to just have this week away from part of that, where she could take her time and really be present in the moment. Lord knew that didn't happen often enough.

She just wished that Sam could have taken the time off too. Unfortunately, while they both worked long hours, her lover's schedule was extremely erratic and ironically was marred by more emergencies than hers. The conflicting schedules and Sam's overriding sense of responsibility to the SGC had been a huge difficulty in their relationship. Janet was just thankful that they'd managed to come to a compromise where she'd stopped harping on Sam for being so devoted to her work and Sam had started scheduling at least two days of downtime a month to spend exclusively with Janet.

As her fingers plucked tomatoes from the vine, she smiled at the thought of that compromise. Most people would likely have thought they were insane for making so little time for each other. Then again, most people didn't have the same kind of jobs they did, where the fate of the world was often resting quite literally on their shoulders. It was one of the reasons Janet occasionally wondered just why the hell she was still at the SGC, when it was so overwhelming.

She rolled her eyes as she realized that she was once again spending her vacation time thinking about work. Concentrating on the task at hand, she wrenched her attention back to the tomatoes. Reaching out, she held one in her hand for a moment, marveling at the sun-warmed weight of it against her palm. She placed it gently in the basket and then grabbed a deep red cherry tomato and popped it in her mouth. Biting down, she savored the warm sweetness that washed over her tongue. God that tasted good. Nothing could compare to fresh produce, right from the garden. She felt a profound sense of contentment.

As soon as she'd swallowed, she began humming again as her fingers moved slowly and deliberately among the vines. It didn't take long before she settled into a rhythm – pulling the fruit from the vine with one hand and using the other to transfer it to the basket. She paused when a bee fluttered next to her hand, her eyes tracking it as it danced erratically from blossom to blossom. As it finally flew on, she resumed her work, attention totally captivated by the plant in front of her.

Finally, she sighed in satisfaction that she'd gotten everything that was ripe, and pulled her hand out of the web of vines. She smiled at the telltale greenish-yellow stains that colored her fingers. Only tomato plants seemed to leave that particular mark. Bending at the waist, she picked up her basket, hefting it experimentally for a moment to gauge its weight. She shifted it from left hand to right, then turned and walked back towards the house.

The grass felt cool and soft on her feet after standing in the packed dirt that surrounded her garden beds, but this time she didn't stop to savor the sensation. Wiping her feet on the mat, she used her free hand to open her sliding glass back door. Entering the house, she stopped for a moment, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the lack of direct sunlight. Then she swung the basket up onto one of her ample kitchen counters and went to the sink to wash her hands.

Within moments, she felt a cold nose pressing into the back of her leg. She yelped in surprise, even though she knew she should have expected her visitor. "Get off me, you mutt," she said in her best I'm-trying-to-be-stern-but-failing-miserably voice.

The dog didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to her order and she couldn't help but chuckle at the pathetically eager brown eyes looking up at her. She reached down and patted his head, and was rewarded with another nuzzle. How Colonel O'Neill had talked her into keeping the pet he'd gotten for Cassandra, she had no idea. But the girl's dog had grown on her, even though she'd never admit it to anyone.

She walked out of the kitchen, patting her leg as she went. The gesture was completely unnecessary, as the dog followed readily, knowing with some special canine sense where they were going. Opening the side door, she let him out into the dog run, knowing he'd been cooped up in the house too long. The dog responded with an enthusiastic bark before running off along the wire enclosed side yard.

Shutting the door behind her, she made her way back to the kitchen. As if the appearance of the dog reminded her of her daughter, she went over to the answering machine, remembering that she'd asked Cass to call her by noon and let her know whether she was staying the night at her friend's house. Sure enough, the red light was blinking, and the dispassionate, sexless voice of the machine told Janet that the teen had only been about an hour late in calling. She chuckled as she listened to her daughter's breathless explanation as to why she was late, which concluded with a hasty, "I'll be at Jen's tonight … thanks … love ya."

Ah, to have the energy of a teenager without once again having to be one. She smiled at the thought, then smiled even more as she realized she would have the house to herself until Sam got home late that night. While she loved both her daughter and her partner very much, time to herself was almost an unknown quality and she fully intended to enjoy her day puttering around the house. Even though she wished Sam could spend more time away from the SGC – more time with just the two of them being women in love – she still valued her time alone. It helped her decompress from the stress that went hand in hand with her work.

Just the thought of it made her roll her shoulders, still vaguely surprised that just a couple days of being away from Cheyenne Mountain had already made most of the knots in her muscles disappear. And maybe when Sam got home, she'd talk the blonde into giving her a massage. She'd often thought that if the woman ever got fed up with the politics and demands of the military, she could have a wonderful career as a massage therapist. Her lover could do amazing things with her hands.

She chuckled under her breath at the unintended innuendo in her own mental meanderings.

Shaking her head at herself, she turned her attention back to the wicker basket full of produce. Quickly and efficiently, she washed it all, then draped a dishtowel across the counter and spread out the cornucopia of tomatoes and zucchini and the lone carrot. She glanced out the window that was situated over the sink – looking over her backyard where vibrant reds, pinks, purples, whites, yellows, oranges, and blues had caught her eye – and decided to leave the vegetables to dry while she cut some flowers. While she had the time off, she may as well pretty up the house with some colorful bouquets.

She pulled the kitchen shears out of a drawer and headed out the backdoor, still barefoot. It was hard to describe just how good she was feeling at the moment. And it was no little disturbing to realize just how much she'd needed the break from work. Was it healthy, she wondered, to let one aspect of life so overtake the other aspects? She'd debated it before, and had never come up with an answer. Even though she knew what she did was important, she wasn't always sure it was worth it.

And here she was again, thinking about work. Ruefully she shook her head, turning her attention back to the various flowers lining her fence. She moved methodically from plant to plant, neatly snipping the stems of roses and dahlias, once again humming tunelessly under her breath. Soon her hand was full of stems, but she paused in front of a low-lying fern and cut a few fronds from it. While she was far from being a florist, she'd always liked having greenery in her flower arrangements.

Heading back to the house, she glanced around the backyard again, amazed at just how peaceful it made her feel just to be out in her own little corner of nature.

She'd left the door open just a crack and she used her foot to slide it open. Depositing her collection of flowers in the sink, she set the shears on the counter and opened a cabinet door to retrieve her vases. There were three of them in easy reach, and she took all three down from the shelf.

She set the vases carefully next to the sink. Picking up the shears, she began trimming off the ends of the flower stems, occasionally holding a flower up to the side of a vase to gauge the effect. Before long, the bottom of the sink was lined with green debris and she turned her attention to sorting the flowers. Smiling, she gently placed three of the red roses in the smallest of her vases and added a bit of fern for contrast. That bouquet was for the bedroom that she and Sam shared.

The other two vases were much larger – more than ample room for all the remaining flowers. She took a step back and surveyed her work with a critical eye, then rearranged a couple dahlias in each vase so that the various colored blooms were grouped attractively. Filling each vase with water, she took the two larger ones to their destinations – placing one on the dining room table and the other on the living room mantle in between two sets of candles.

Janet picked up the smallest vase and padded off to their bedroom. She looked around for a moment, debating where to put it so that Sam would actually see it, since her lover tended to be oblivious in terms of noticing little touches like that. While the blonde was amazingly able to negotiate the world of theory and abstractions, she needed the occasional hit with a two-by-four to see the obvious. With a sudden grin, she placed the vase right in front of the alarm clock on the end table next to Sam's side of the bed. Considering that it was now impossible to see the green digital display because of the flowers, she knew her lover would have to notice it.

Still grinning, she made her way back to the kitchen. She headed straight over to the portable CD/tape player that sat next to the answering machine on one of the counters. Sorting through the few CDs that were stacked next to it, she pulled out Enya's "Watermark" and popped it in. Within moments, the soothing strains began filling the kitchen and she turned the volume up a touch, fully intending to take advantage of the fact that there was no one else home to make fun of her. Sam and Cassie both teased her about being "new-agey" because of some of her taste in music. Then again, what did they know? Sam rarely even listened to music and Cassandra's preferences ran to screeching guitars and incomprehensible lyrics.

Humming along to the music, she pulled out a kettle, a cutting board, and a chef's knife. Then she busied herself with putting away the zucchini she'd picked earlier, though she left the tomatoes on the counter, knowing she was going to use most of them. She stowed the zucchini in the fridge and pulled out carrots, mushrooms, fresh oregano, and fresh basil – setting them on the counter next to the tomatoes. Then she moved to a wire basket hanging from the ceiling and pulled out a head of garlic and a couple large onions. Last, but not least, she pulled a bowl out of the dish drainer and filled it with cherry tomatoes, figuring that they could be left out on the counter for people to snack on.

Washing her hands and donning her apron, she mused that it had been entirely too long since she'd done any intensive cooking like this. With the erratic schedules her household kept, dinner often was either take-out or a main dish from the supermarket's deli counter coupled with a salad or vegetables. Which was all fine and good, except for the fact that she liked to cook.

With deft motions, she set to work chopping tomatoes and then scooping them into the kettle. It might have been a while since she'd done any real knife work, but her fingers hadn't entirely forgotten their skills. She quickly became absorbed in her work and the music, her mind pleasantly focused in on only the task at hand, rather than busy thinking about everything under the sun. Her lover wasn't the only person who made thinking into something of an art form.

She had to pause a couple times to restart the CD once the last track had played, but other than that, she worked away. Before she knew it, her kettle was full of tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, fresh herbs, and a few miscellaneous seasonings. The mushrooms sat in a separate bowl, to be added once the sauce had cooked down a bit so they wouldn't completely disintegrate.

She ran her hands under the water in the sink, then picked up the kettle and set it on the stove to simmer. While she waited for the heat to start doing its trick, she washed the knife and cutting board, setting them in the dish drainer to dry. Then she wiped down the counter, as she'd always been a firm believer in the clean-as-you-go school of cooking. Rinsing out her cloth, she wrung it out and draped it neatly over the edge of the sink, then grabbed up her trusty wooden spoon.

She peered into the kettle as she began stirring the mixture. As silly as it probably sounded, she felt very content just to be doing such mundane things on her vacation … not just because she enjoyed them, but because she had the time to really savor the experience. She chuckled to herself as she remembered Colonel O'Neill's reaction to her idea of spending her vacation at home. He clearly thought she was nuts. Of course, she took his reaction with a grain of salt, knowing that if he'd had his way, she'd be sitting in front of a lake for hours on end – completely present in the moment as she waited for some stray fish to actually find her hook and bait. At least they both had ideas of recreation that involved utter relaxation. Daniel and Sam both thought vacations existed so they could catch up on the work that they couldn't get to in the course of a normal day.

She supposed that in the end, what mattered was that people could do whatever nurtured them, no matter what form it took.

Absently, she watched the kettle as she stirred, seeing how the tomatoes were beginning to break down under the heat, bubbling gently as they cooked. Stirring the mixture one last time, she placed the spoon on the stovetop, knowing that now it was just a matter of letting the sauce simmer. She'd still need to keep an eye on it and stir it from time to time, but the bulk of the work was done. Then, once it had cooked down to her satisfaction and she'd added the mushrooms, all she'd need to do would be wait for it to cool and then portion it into plastic containers for freezing. Her grandparents had always canned things, but she'd never had the patience for learning how to do it. Obviously, her domesticity only went so far.

Moving back to the sink, she rinsed some stray splatters off her hand, eyes staring through the window at the yard. Clouds had moved across the sky while she'd been occupied, and yet somehow, the mild grey of the sky made the colors of her flowers and plants stand out even more starkly than they had under the glare of the sun. It was beautiful.

She just stood there for a moment, lost in both the sight in front of her eyes and the timeless melodies filling her ears. Then she started in surprise as she felt strong arms circle her waist and she was pulled back against a lean body.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I thought you'd heard me come in."

Janet relaxed against her lover's body at the words whispered against her ear. "It's ok. My mind was just wandering."

She heard a soft chuckle and a teasing, "Apparently."

Janet chuckled too at the gentle gibe. She knew that her lover understood what she was doing. Sam was actually one of the few people who didn't seem to think she was weird for wanting to be more in the moment – which was just plain weird when she thought about it, since the blonde tended to be oblivious to the mundane.

She turned slightly in the secure hold, nuzzling against Sam's neck, and murmured softly, "I thought you weren't going to be home until late." After a moment's pause, she added, "Not that I'm complaining."

She felt the hands around her waist tighten fractionally, pulling her closer. "I didn't think I was going to be either. But Siler came down and helped me install the new instruments on the MALP – the ones to help more accurately test atmospheric conditions. Then we both tested and calibrated them." There was a distinctly amused note in her lover's tone. "I don't think he wanted to wait for Conner and Davis to get around to running the tests so that we could do the final calibration. It went a lot faster with us just doing all the work."

Janet smiled at that and pulled out of the woman's arms, turning to face her. "Anxious to get home to his girlfriend, was he?"

She saw the glint of humor in Sam's eyes as she responded. "Oh yeah. Of course, I can't exactly blame him there. I know the feeling … I've got a pretty wonderful girlfriend to come home to myself."

Janet laughed softly at that and curled her hand to the back of Sam's neck, pulling her lover's head down for a tender kiss.

When their lips parted, she brushed Sam's cheek with her hand. The blonde turned her head slightly, kissing her fingers, and asked, "Have you had a good day?"

Janet smiled. "It's been a good day. Very relaxing. Just what the doctor ordered." She sighed in rich contentment, and then added, "Though I've still got some tension in my shoulders … they're still kinda sore." Even she could hear the pathetically hopeful note in her own voice.

She didn't get any farther before Sam leaned down and kissed her again. "Tell you what, Jan … I'll go get cleaned up and you can finish up in here. Then I'll take you out for a nice dinner and we'll spend a quiet evening together. And then before bed, I'll give you a full body massage. I know you've been really stressed lately and I just want to help you relax. I … I've been kinda worried about you recently."

There was a note of embarrassment in her lover's last words at the confession and Janet once again brushed her fingers tenderly across the woman's cheek. "I know you have. But I'm ok … I just needed a break, I think. And you have no idea how good that sounds … to spend an evening with the woman I love … just us being together without work following us." She broke off for a moment and then sighed, "Not to mention the idea of getting a massage."

She was graced with a soft laugh at the last words, a 100-watt smile, and another kiss. "It sounds good to me too."

Then, without any great need for further discussion, Sam headed out of the kitchen to get a shower, while Janet turned back to the sauce merrily simmering away. She stirred it a few times, vaguely aware that the CD had stopped again and that she could now hear the faint sounds of her lover moving around the house. The scrape of a dresser drawer, the thud of the clothes hamper lid shutting … just normal sounds of daily life that she'd heard hundreds of times.

She took a spoonful of sauce and let it cool, then tasted it. After a moment's contemplation, she grabbed the salt and pepper, adding a liberal portion of each to the kettle and stirring them in. Distantly, she could hear the faint sounds of water running, telling her that Sam was in the shower.

It was nothing more than an ordinary moment that was probably repeating itself in thousands of other homes at that very moment. But coupled with her very ordinary day, it suddenly struck Janet as being important. Something about that one moment in time triggered a revelation …gave her the answer to the question she'd been chewing on all day.

This was why she stayed at the SGC, why she continued with her work despite the personal toll it took on her.

It was so that people around the world – the ones who had no idea that such a thing as the Stargate even existed – could live their ordinary lives and go about their daily routines, untroubled by the threat of being enslaved by the Goa'uld or annihilated by some of the other aliens they'd encountered. It was so that other couples could spend evenings together … so that other children could hang out with friends … so that other women could enjoy a day spent puttering around the house. It was so other people could enjoy their gardens and other people could enjoy their lovers … so that the little routines of daily life could continue the way they had for thousands of years.

That's what she was working for … not just the grand goal of saving the planet, since it was all too apparent that humans might well blow it up themselves some day. She – like the others at the SGC – carried the burden of their jobs so that other people wouldn't have to. Because she did her job, other people could carry on their normal lives, could do the things that made them happy.

After all, if that wasn't worth working for and fighting for, what was?

The End

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