All the Fun of the Faire
“Thank you again,” Janet said, helping load Cassie’s bag in the back of Jack’s truck. She pulled an envelope from her back pocket and handed it to Sam. “The hotel reservation and the faire tickets plus spending money for you guys and Cass.”
Sam glanced over to Cassie and the Colonel, who were working off some pre-car trip energy by chasing and throwing a doggy football for Cassie’s dog. “Where’s Bozo going to stay?”
“The neighbours can watch him for the weekend. He can’t go with you and he can’t come with me to Groom Lake.”
“He probably wouldn’t like the trip, even if we could have a dog at the hotel.” Sam, Jack and Cassie were facing an eight hour drive to Kansas City. Sam wasn’t looking forward to eight hours in the car with the Colonel. She was quietly glad they weren’t taking the dog as well.
Speaking of the Colonel. “Sir, we should probably get going,” Sam suggested to her CO.
“In the car, Cassie,” Janet called. Sam was amused that Cassie was the first to respond while the Colonel was still wrestling Bozo.
“C’mon now, Sir. Otherwise you’ll have to sit in the back.”
“It’s my truck,” he complained, but he did get up and start walking towards them.
Janet gave Sam a hug and then kissed Cass before shutting her door. “Have a great time, guys.”
At the two hour mark, they paused at a rest stop to stretch and change drivers. Cassie had been poring over the road atlas Jack had on the back seat and he took a few minutes to help her trace their journey.
“When I lived in Canada,” Cassie engaged their code for talking about her home world, “How far from my town to the next one?”
Jack indicated a distance of about 12 miles, which was barely out of the Springs. “Since we left your house, we’ve gone ten times that far.” He turned to the table of distances in the back of the atlas and looked up Colorado Springs to Kansas City. “It’s 586 miles from your house to Kansas City, so that’s ...” Jack paused, looking for a pencil so he could work out how many times 12 went into 586.
“Nearly 49 times the distance,” Sam chimed in from behind them. “Ready to go?”
Cassie nodded and climbed into the back seat, turning back to the map showing their current part of the trip.
Jack walked behind Carter and she heard him mutter, “Freak,” as he passed. She grinned and climbed into the driver’s seat and waited for Jack.
“Check!” She called from the back, always enjoying this part of their driving routine.
“Check!” Jack answered just as cheerfully.
“Then let’s go.” Sam pulled out on to the highway and Jack fiddled with the radio while Sam tried to ignore him.
About fifteen minutes later, Cassie asked, “Sam, why do you call Jack ‘Sir’ and not ‘Jack’?”
Sam was puzzled, she had discussed this with Cassie before. “Well, because it’s tradition in the Airforce to show your superior officer respect. So we call people above us in rank ‘Sir’ or, if they’re a woman, ‘Ma’am’.”
“I know that,” she said in that way kids have when they think you’re treating them as dumb. “But why now? You’re not wearing a uniform or anything and we’re not on a mission.”
Sam looked at Jack. He could give her some help, here.
“Uh, well, I’m still Colonel O’Neill and Carter’s still Major Carter, even though we’re not in uniform or on a mission.”
“But aren’t you guys friends? And why don’t I have to call you ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’? You’re superior in rank to me.”
Smothering a laugh, Sam couldn’t even glance at Jack or she would lose control. She left him to come up with an answer.
“Well, that’s a good point. We’re just friends having fun, this weekend. What do you think, Sam?” Jack looked at her, eyebrow raised in that way that made her stomach drop.
“Sir?” Sam asked, surprised.
“Jack,” Cassie corrected her.
“Yeah, Jack, Carter,” the Colonel told her, in a sing-song voice.
“Sam!” Both Cassie and Sam corrected him and they all started laughing.
When they stopped to fill up the truck, Sam returned to the car with a mixed bag of Hershey’s minis and three plastic soda cups. She found a pen and wrote one of their names on each. The two that were labelled Jack and Sam were put in the front cup holders and Cassie’s one she put behind the park brake.
“Right,” she began, when they were all back in the truck. “When someone says Sir or Carter or Colonel or Major when they’re not supposed to, the other two get a mini in their cup. The game is over when we’re out of minis or when we get to Kansas City. Deal?”
“Deal!” Jack and Cassie agreed, and Jack guided the truck back to the highway.
Sam decided that the drive was turning out to be a lot more fun than she had anticipated.
With about an hour to go, Cassie had fallen asleep in the back and Sam was glad Janet had thrown in a pillow for her.
“It’s a strange kind of birthday present,” Jack mused.
“Hmm?” Sam asked, keeping her eyes on the road ahead. “What do you mean?”
“Ren Faire tickets,” Jack clarified.
“From what Janet tells me, Cassie’s great uncle is a strange kind of person. The reason she had already booked a hotel was because he had no room for them to stay with him. She told me his house is like a badly kept museum - crammed full of historical knick knacks and replicas.”
“So, like Daniel’s place but worse.”
Laughing, Sam added, “45 years worse, yes. Janet did allude to a commonality between the two.”
“So explain again why we don’t have to meet this guy?”
“He refuses to let us anywhere near his house. Janet says he is paranoid, bordering on full blown hoarder, and is concerned that we will steal his treasures.” Sam made a mental note to make sure Daniel kept his work or social life up, so he didn’t end up the same.
“But doesn’t he want to see Cassie?” Jack was surprised that there were people in the world who wouldn’t want to see Cassie.
“Janet had convinced him to have dinner with them tonight, but once she couldn’t make it, he refused. The main reason Janet had accepted his invitation at all was to check in on him.” Sam felt sad for the elderly man, living in a city with no one close by. According to Janet, she was the only one of his few relatives who kept in touch.
“We could at least check he’s ok,” Jack suggested.
“Janet’s going to fly out next weekend for the day. Cassie was having a sleepover with me, anyway.”
“Ah,” Jack acknowledged, his fingers beginning to tap a pattern on his knee.
Sam recognised the beginning of a spell of the fidgets. “Open the glovebox,” she told him.
Jack leant forward and pulled out a paper bag. Inside was a packet of paper clips. “For me?” He asked, excited.
She couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes. And I’ve got something else for when you’re done with those.”
There were already four paperclips joined together. “What?” He asked her.
“If you’re good, I’ll tell you later.”
Jack’s bottom lip protruded in a pout but he was humming under his breath.
Paperclips and rubber bands - $5.
Peace from a fidgety Colonel - Priceless.
Uh, sorry, some angst slid in. I’ll make it up to you with the last chapter, promise!
Cassie was the first awake, beating both Jack and Sam out of bed. They had shared the double hotel room comfortably, Sam and Cassie in one bed, Jack in the other. It was, after all, luxurious compared to their usual off world accomodation.
While Jack took the first morning shower, Sam braided Cassie’s hair and they chatted about the kind of costume she hoped to get. Janet had suggested Cassie rent a costume at the gate and Cassie wanted her hair braided ready to match.
“Maybe we can buy a flower crown. That would really go with braided hair and a special costume,” Sam suggested
Cassie bounced on the bed, giggling with excitement. “You should get one too, Sam, then we’ll look like sisters!”
“Your very much older big sister,” Sam pointed out.
Jack emerged from the bathroom, fresh shaven, hair damp. “Not that much older, Car-, Sam.”
Both Sam and Cassie turned their heads, eager to catch him out, again.
“I caught myself!” Jack declared. “I have no chocolate left give, anyway.”
“We should think of something else,” Cassie suggested.
“I think we’ve had enough chocolate,” Sam mused. “Aside from the fact that it is 8 am.”
Cassie leaned in to Sam and whispered in her ear. Sam looked at the Colonel while she listened, a smile growing on her face. When Cassie was done, Sam reluctantly shook her head. “I don’t think so,” Sam met Jack’s eyes and he could plainly read her amusement. “But we’ll think of something.”
Wrinkling her nose, Cassie bounced on the bed again. “Get dressed Sam, I don’t want to miss anything.”
“I was helping you, silly. And Jack was using the bathroom.”
“And I’m hungry,” Cassie added.
“Me too,” Jack copied Cassie’s tone and she high-fived him.
“Ok!” Sam disappeared into the bathroom. “Hold your horses.”
“Neighhhhh,” Jack whinnied as she shut the bathroom door and he and Cassie collapsed into giggles.
They stood in the costume line, talking about what Cassie wanted to wear. Her eyes were wide as they watched Faire goers and performers wander by in a range of beautiful and interesting outfits. One minute, Cassie was admiring a long, flowing princess costume, next she was in love with the pixie pants and wings of a fairy. Then she saw a pirate with an eye patch, big golden earring and a wooden leg. Cassie was leaning toward a fairy, but it was very hard to make a choice with such an array of people passing by.
Sam was amazed by the costume choices. She had been expecting something a bit more historical, but was getting caught up in the Faire mood - anything goes as long as it’s fun.
When Cassie’s turn came, Sam helped her dress in a fairy outfit and it wasn’t until they came out of the changing room that she realised she had lost the Colonel. Thinking that she might have to put out a lost ‘child’ report over the speaker, Sam was saved by Cassie’s shriek from behind her.
“Ahoy me hearties. I be Captain Jack.”
Sam had a good inkling of what she would see once she heard his voice and that terrible accent. Sure enough, Jack was wearing a tattered tri-corn, a blousy white shirt and tight black pants. He was wearing his own boots, which almost looked the part, and the requisite black eyepatch.
She should have known that he couldn’t resist. Children - Sam was at the Faire with two children, and she couldn’t help but reflect that Cassie was the better behaved.
“Sam, you should get a costume,” Cassie tugged on her arm.
“Yeah, come on Sam. You could be a pirate wench!” Jack suggested.
“Uh, no thank you,” Sam replied, firmly.
“What about this one, Sam? Then you really would look like my big sister.” Cassie was pointing at a costume that looked much like a grown up version of Tinker Bell’s, from Peter Pan. Green leggings under a short green dress with glittery, pale blue wings.
“You’ve got the hair for it,” Jack suggested from right behind her. He bumped her shoulder with his, “Go on.”
At first, she really wanted to say no, but with Jack and Cassie already excited and in costume, Sam began to feel like she was letting an opportunity pass her by. “Alright,” she agreed. “Wait for me and don’t go wandering off,” she told the other two.
The Colonel, and Daniel, got them into all kinds of scrapes and she was used to being adaptable around him. Even getting into costume in order to fit in with the natives wasn’t out of their mission mandate. Sam couldn’t recall, though, having worn a skirt shorter than her knees around her CO. If it weren’t for the leggings, she would have refused, but then that was the point of the leggings, after all.
Stepping out of the changing booth, she looked around nervously for Cassie and Jack. Cassie bounced over to her, followed more slowly by Jack.
“This is perfect!” Cassie declared. “Now we are fairy sisters.”
Sam looked to Jack and he was smiling, a smile she had seen before, the one he used when he allowed himself to look at her as a woman. It made her blood warm to see it here when they were off duty. Maybe the costume idea would work out to be fun, after all.
Cassie took her hand and started dragging her towards the rest of the Faire, Jack letting them catch up to him and then turning, taking Cassie’s other hand. Just as they were turning the corner to the main entertainment area, they were stopped.
“No, no, no, this will not do. Your fairy godmother cannot allow it.” A large woman, dressed in fluffy layer after layer of tulle, satin and ribbons stopped before them. “How can a fairy fly without fairy dust?”
Cassie looked up at the woman, squeezing Sam’s hand and minutely stepping into her side.
“A fairy can’t fly without fairy dust,” Sam said to Cassie, guessing at what the fairy godmother might suggest. “What should we do?” She asked the performer, trying to play along.
“Don’t worry my little winglets,” the large fairy said. “I have flying dust right here.” She showed Cassie a pouch of glitter, “Do you want some?”
Sam squeezed her hand and Cassie nodded, eyes wide. “Ok. Please,” she remembered to add.
“Close your eyes,” and with a flourish the fairy godmother sprinkled the glitter over Cassie’s hair and shoulders. “There you are, now you can fly. How about you, Tinker Bell?” The woman asked Sam.
“She forgot her fairy dust,” Jack chimed in.
“What?” Sam looked at him, startled and turned back to see the woman’s glitter filled hand about to sprinkle her. She just had time to close her eyes before she felt the dust descend. Brushing it off Her face, Sam gave the Colonel a narrow look and he laughed. She’d have to find a way to get back at him, glitter was the worst to get out of anything and it ended up everywhere. It was still going to be in her hair when they turned up for work on Monday.
“Thank you,” Cassie chirped from between them and she began towing Sam and Jack away.
“Just a little love dust in there for you too, dear,” the woman said to Sam as she turned to follow Cassie.
Surprised, all Sam could think to say was, “Um, thank you,” and the woman beamed after them.
Jack wanted a turkey leg, so Sam and Cassie settled down to watch the first performance and Jack returned with a leg for himself and one for Cassie.
“Figured she won’t finish it,” Jack murmured to Sam, sitting on her other side.
“Probably not,” Sam agreed. She could have whatever Cassie didn’t. “Your ass is grass,” she whispered to Jack.
“What?” He looked like he was trying to work out which thing he had done had caused her ire.
“Do you know how hard it is to wash glitter out of your hair?”
“Oh. No?” He grinned at her. “It sure looks pretty,” he remarked, fingering a shiny lock.
“I’ll still be wearing it when we go off world on Monday,” she hissed.
Jack giggled at the thought.
“It’s not funny,” Sam nudged his arm, trying not to smile.
“If we find any inhabitants, I could get Daniel to convince them that you’re a fairy,” Jack suggested.
Sam rolled her eyes and had to look away, lest her smile encourage him. “You will not.”
“And then he can tell them that you know how to fly.” Jack leant closer so his whisper could still be heard, despite her turning away from him. His warm breath brushed over the short hairs at the nape of her neck and an involuntary shiver ran down her spine.
Reaching up, Sam rubbed the back of her neck, trying to squash the feeling of arousal. She turned to face front, again, so that Jack would move back. Despite the agreement to use first names for the weekend, he was still Sam’s CO and she couldn’t react to him like she just had.
Perhaps he had noticed that she seemed uncomfortable, because Jack had settled back against the bench seat. He leaned close again, but careful not to touch her. “Besides, Teal’c is still shinier than you. Maybe Daniel can get them to think he’s a fairy, too.”
Involuntarily, Sam laughed out. “We should take him back some wings,” she suggested to Jack.
He turned to her and winked and Sam was reminded how handsome he was when he laughed. Forcing herself to look forward, she watched the entertainers. It was a Jester act, they were telling jokes and singing songs that edged on bawdy in between slight of hand tricks and juggling.
“Now, is there anyone here who thinks that they can juggle?” One of the jesters called.
When no one volunteered, Jack put up his hand. The performer waved him on down and Jack made his way on to the stage.
“Jack can juggle?” Cassie asked.
“I don’t know,” Sam replied. “I guess he thinks that he can.”
The performer made a few jokes at Jack’s expense that had the crowd tittering. Then he handed Jack three juggling balls. “Now, Jack, if you can juggle all three at once, I have a prize.”
The crowd oohed in anticipation.
“Ready?” Jack asked, cockily rolling the balls between his fingers.
The performer queued the musicians and then counted them all in, “1, 2, 3!”
Two recorder players burst into a jaunty song and Jack started with two of the balls, moving them back and forth. Once he was settled, he tossed the third into the air and the crowd cheered and applauded.
“I guess he can!” Sam exclaimed to Cassie who was clapping madly.
“Can you do more, Jack?” The performer asked.
“Can you do more?” Jack shot back.
“I think I can,” and the man grabbed three more balls and got them moving. “Ready?” He asked Jack.
Jack nodded and then the balls were flying across the stage, back and forth between the two men. The crowd was cheering them on and even the performers looked impressed.
“Big finish,” the performer called and Jack caught on, sending the balls in a long, slow arc so that each could be caught in turn. As Jack turned to bow, Cassie whooped and dashed to the side of the stage, bursting with excitement. Sam followed her more carefully and made it to her side as Jack was presented with an envelope.
“Thank you, Jack! From all of us here at Kansas City Ren Faire, we hope you and your family have a wonderful Romance and Revelry weekend!” The crowd clapped as Jack accepted the envelope and made his way off stage to Sam and Cassie.
“That was amazing, Jack. How’d you learn to do that? Can you teach me?” Cassie was bouncing on the spot.
Jack was laughing, and hugged Cassie. “I probably could teach you. It takes lots of practice, though.” As the show ended, they began to move away with the crowd.
“So where did you learn that?” Sam asked.
“We were on stand down in Eastern Europe for two weeks, stuck in a seedy apartment. We didn’t have much else to do so me and one of the other guys learnt to juggle.”
“This was in the 80’s?” Sam wondered, using their shorthand for Jack’s Black Ops period and all the missions that he wasn’t allowed to talk about.
“Yup. Not all of it was sneaking around on secret missions. We had some fun, too.”
“I guess so. Never would have guessed that juggling would be your secret party trick.”
“Oh Carter, I have more secret party tricks than you could poke a stick at.”
“Penalty, Jack!” Cassie declared.
“What for?” He asked, unaware of what he had done.
“You called Sam ‘Carter’. What about it, Sam? Can we do it?”
Sam looked between the Colonel and Cassie and recalled the glitter that was now in her hair. “I think, Cassie, that maybe we should.” Sam looked around and saw a signpost for the vendors lane. “Let’s try down here,” she suggested.
Jack, sensing something was up, dug his heels in, “Not until I know what you are up to.”
Behind him, Cassie put two hands against the small of his back and pushed. “Help me, Sam!”
Laughing, Sam reached for Jack’s hand and tugged him. “Come on, Jack. It won’t hurt, I promise.”
Relenting, Jack let Cassie take his other hand and they walked down the vendor’s lane, Sam looking on one side, Cassie on the other.
“Here!” The young girl called and they stopped before a stand festooned with wands, wings and fairy crowns.
“You pick,” Sam told Cassie and she remained standing besideJack, watching him trying to work out what was going on. Half forgotten, they were still holding hands.
“See one you like?” The lady asked Cassie.
Cassie took her decision very seriously, picking out three. The first was made with ivy leaves and red berries, the second looked as if it were dusted with frost and made with berries of ice and the last had a beautifully woven band of ribbons that joined together in a long trail at the back.
“I’m getting one for everyone,” Cassie told the lady.
“Oh,” the woman looked slightly surprised, turning to see if Jack or Sam had something to say. “One for your mom and dad, too?”
“Oh, they’re not my parents. That’s Jack and Sam,” Cassie informed her, matter of factly. “This one is for Sam,” Cassie gave her the frosted one, the blues matched her wings.
“Nice choice, Cassie,” Sam complimented, realising at that moment that she was still attached to Jack. She let go of his hand and made a show of walking over to the mirror and adjusting the fit of the crown.
Cassie handed Jack the one made from ivy and red berries. “This one’s for you, Jack!” She giggled.
“This is my penalty?” He asked Sam and Cassie. Both of them nodded. “Ok,” he conceded, putting the crown on his head. Sam was pleased that he didn’t look too put out, although he was now stuck carrying his costume hat.
“Come on Cass, show us yours,” Jack prodded.
Cassie put hers on in front of the mirror and turned, trying to catch a glimpse of the ribbons running down the back.
“It looks great,” Jack told her, moving in to help settle it securely in her hair, weaving a few of the ribbons through her braid.
Impressed, Sam watched him with half an eye while she paid the vendor.
“Did you learn how to braid in the 80’s?” Sam asked him as they walked together down the row, Cassie a stall or two ahead, inspecting all the wares.
“No. In Minnesota.” At her querying glance, Jack replied, “I have four sisters and they were all older. I learnt a thing or two.”
An image of a brown haired young boy braiding his sisters’ hair and making daisy crowns came to Sam’s mind. It was both cute and endearing. “Hard to believe the hardened Black Ops Colonel knows how to braid.”
“Need to know basis, Sam,” Jack replied, his tone cheeky. More soberly, he went on, “I always hoped I might have a little girl.”
Sam tried to school her face and hide her surprised expression. “Just the one?”
“One would have been great. Sara,” he took a breath and then went on. “Had a lot of trouble getting pregnant, so Charlie was it. But I did hope for a little girl, too.”
Sliding her hand into the crook of his arm, Sam wrapped her fingers around Jack’s bicep. “Coming from a big family, that’s not surprising.”
“In the end it was a blessing,” Jack reflected. “Losing Charlie was hard enough for Sara and I, but for her to lose her brother ...”
He kept walking, so Sam kept pace, her hands still on his arm. She felt her throat tighten in sympathy.
“At least then, when Sara and I split, there was no one else to hurt.”
“Jack,” Sam said, softly, unsure what else she could say. She sometimes forgot that he carried the pain of Charlie’s death and his divorce around inside him. She could forget, but he never could. She stopped, forcing Jack to, and turned towards him. Looking up into his face, Sam saw the black cloud gathering behind his eyes. Sometimes it faded but it was never truly gone.
“Hey,” she told Jack, slipping one arm over his shoulder and the other around his waist, pulling him into a hug. His arms immediately grasped her tightly and he pressed his face into her shoulder. Sam searched for something to say, finally settling on, “You’re a good man, Jack.” Sam wanted to tell him that she knew he would be a good father, too, but that was too close to what must be his thoughts about his role in Charlie’s death.
The quiet time of day allowed them to stand in the middle of the lane for as long as Jack needed. When Cassie came up behind them, calling, “Guys, come and see this!” they broke off, turning towards her.
Jack’s hand reached for Sam’s and she let him take it. Whatever comfort he needed from her right now was his. Jack put his happy mask back on and they followed Cassie, letting the girl’s joy and excitement soothe them both.
While they were watching Cassie choose between polished stone necklaces for Janet, Sam remembered Jack’s prize. “What did you win?” She wondered.
“I didn’t look.” Jack reached into his shirt where he’d tucked the envelope. He opened it, Sam watching.
“Romantic Afternoon for Two,” Sam read out loud.
“What did you win?” Cassie asked, just noticing what they were looking at.
Sam looked at Jack, wondering whether to laugh or run away. “Value $75?”
“Champagne and chocolates,” Jack replied.
“And cake!” Cassie exclaimed leaning over Jack’s arm to read. “This is perfect. You guys should definitely go.”
Jack met Sam’s eyes and shrugged. “Cake?”
Deciding that he could use some food therapy, Sam smiled. “Sure, why not?”
“I don’t want to be late,” Ellie called.
“We won’t be,” her Aunty Cassie reassured her from the other side of the back seat.
“I’m going to be a fairy,” The five year old told her, “Just like you was.”
“Were,” Cassie corrected her. “How did you know that?”
“Mommy showed me the picture from when you was fairy sisters. You had ribbons in your hair and wings and Mommy had blue wings! Will I have blue wings?”
“Maybe,” Cassie said, “Or pink, or purple or even red. There’s lots to pick from.”
“You should pick blue,” her father suggested from the front seat.
“Or red,” her mom added.
Ellie considered the suggestions very seriously. “I like the blue wings. I dunno about red ones. Do fairies have red wings?”
“Surely do,” her dad responded. “Who else was in that picture?”
“You, daddy!” Ellie called.
“And what colour crown did I have?”
Ellie scrunched her nose up, trying to remember. Cassie leaned over and whispered to her. “Green and red!” Ellie called out.
Sam laughed. “Cassie told you.”
“I did not,” Cassie winked at Ellie and held a finger to her lips.
Ellie giggled. “Can I get a red costume and red wings?” She asked.
“If you do, I have something else for you to wear.”
“What?” Ellie asked, excited. “Tell me, daddy!”
“Cass,” Jack asked, “There’s a box in the footwell in front of Ellie. Could you pass it to her?”
Sam turned in her seat to look back at her daughter as she opened the box.
“Ooohh!” Ellie exclaimed, her mouth forming a perfect O. “These is your crowns! I see daddy’s red one and your blue one, mommy.” Cassie helped her lift them out of the box. “Can I wears one?”
Jack turned to Sam and smiled. “Of course, Ellie. Why else did I braid your hair?”
And there we are, folks. <3