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 The Devil In the Details


Jack dropped down at his desk. He was going to check his email, and then meet his kids at O'Malley's. He reached into his pocket for the key to unlock his desk drawer, almost missed seeing the piece of paper that fluttered to the floor. He picked it up. Two words were scrawled in Ferretti's handwriting...

Hell! He'd forgotten all about her in the aftermath of the afternoon. He ran a hand over his jaw, stared at the piece of paper as if it could offer him the solution to his dilemma. No doubt she wanted to know what was going on. What was he going to tell her?

He contemplated for a moment. Sometimes, it was best to say things face to face. This was one of those times. He grabbed his jacket, headed for the elevator. He was dialing his cell phone when he was finally in the parking lot, walking toward his truck. "Sam? Yeah, I'm gonna be a bit late. Order the usual for me...no, everything is fine. There's just something I need to do. I'll tell you about it later...me, too, honey. With all my heart."


A  A  A  A  A  A


The house looked the same. He leaned over the steering wheel, so that he could see the windows on the second story. The window to the room that had been Charlie's. He had trouble being near the house. She couldn't leave it.

There was an extra car in the driveway...Mike's truck was parked on the street, Sara's car was up by the garage. Maybe she had company. Of the male variety. He paused mid-step. Waited for the pain that thought always brought with it. Frowned slightly when it failed to materialize. If she could find a nice guy who could give her what she needed...

He hesitated. Maybe he should just wait...call her tomorrow. No, O'Neill, do it now. Do the right thing by her for once. He marched up to the door and knocked loudly. Fought back the memories of the days when he would have simply thrown the door open, stepped into the hall, and hollered out, 'I'm home!'

Sara's eyes went wide when she opened the door. "Jack?"

"Hi, Sara."

She glanced over her shoulder. Didn't know whether to be pleased or annoyed when Matt stepped up behind her.

"I can see that you have...company," Jack said, nodding at the man. He held up the slip of paper. "Ferretti said you wanted to hear from me."

She turned to the man she thought she might actually fall in love with. "Matt, I'll be right back. Go pour more wine."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure." She pushed against the screen door, waited for Jack to back up enough for her to step onto the porch. "I don't know why I'm asking. Why I even bother. I know you can't...or won't...tell me anything."

"I always told you as much as I could. Trust me, Sara, you don't want to know the details."

She studied his face. The haunted look she had seen so many times was in his eyes again. "It's bad."

"It's interesting," he countered. "And so important. I don't know how I managed to land this particular job, but I did, and I can't imagine not doing it."

"Is it...dangerous?"

"Sometimes," he replied honestly.

"So what was today about?"

Jack shoved his hands into his pockets. Looked out over the lawn. Mike was doing a great job of keeping the crab grass at bay. He'd worked like a fiend to get rid of it. "It was really bad, Sara. I couldn't-" He stopped, cleared his throat. "I had to keep you safe."

She wrapped her arms around herself, nodded slowly. "I figured it had to be something...big."

"Bigger than you can imagine," he said softly. Smiled when the curtains moved in the window beside them. "You should get back inside. Your friend is waiting."

She smiled. "You even sounded sincere."

He smiled in return. "Does he make you happy?"

"Yeah, he does."

"Good. You deserve to be happy."

"What about you, Jack. Is there anyone who makes you happy?"

He looked down at his feet.

The movement, the color that filled his cheeks, was endearing. "It's all right, we're divorced."

"Yeah, there is," he admitted.




"Not as young as you're thinking."

"She makes you happy?"

Jack smiled. "She makes me very happy. She understands me."

The comment poked, but didn't hurt, nor did she feel overly defensive about it. Proof that she had indeed moved on. "I'm glad," she said softly.

"Look, I need to get going-"

"She's waiting?"

"With my team...our friends," he replied.

"Thank you for...thank you for taking the time to talk to me in person...to tell me what you can," Sara said softly.

"I owe you."

"No, Jack, you don't."

He gave her a lopsided smile. "Yeah, I do. But that's my problem." He stepped off of the porch.


He turned around, looked up at her.

"Be happy."

He smiled. "You, too." When he climbed into his truck, he felt better than he had in a long time. He would always love Sara. And if the planet was threatened again, he'd make certain she was with the other families to be spirited off world. Even if that meant her new lover...or husband...would be joining her.

The small grocery store on the corner caught his eye. He stopped. Sam would probably think he was crazy. Or had broken something. Or had screwed something up. But tonight he was going to try to be that guy who could make flowery speeches. Real flowers just might help. He sniffed the bouquet before pulling back out into traffic. Certainly couldn't hurt!


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