"Wow." Sam breathed, "These are fantastic!"
Bonnie grinned, "You really think so?"
Sam nodded, "Yes I do. Have you ever tried to sell your work?"
Bonnie looked at the floor as if fascinated by the linoleum. Sam saw a blush on her face. "No, I didn't think that anyone would be interested."
"They're gorgeous, they really are. Have you ever been to the ocean?"
Bonnie shook her head, "No, I paint from images in my mind."
Sam put her hand on Bonnie's shoulder, "You have an amazing gift." she said, "My mind doesn't work like yours. I can see diagrams for engines but I can't visualize the ocean and paint it."
"What do you do Lisa?" Bonnie asked, "Are you a mechanic?"
Sam pursed her lips, "Not a mechanic per se, but I do repair things. I like to figure out how things work."
"But you're not working?"
"No, when Charles and I got married, we decided that he would work while I stayed at home. We're planning on starting a family soon."
Bonnie's face lit up, "That's wonderful! It'll be so nice to have children in the neighbourhood!"
Sam's brow wrinkled, "You mean there isn't any kids here now?"
"No, not any more." Bonnie said, with a touch of sadness in her voice, "There used to be a family living across the street from me, they had three beautiful children. One of them was killed about a year ago. Police said it was an accident, he didn't look before he ran out into the street. After that, the parents decided to move."
"That's so sad." Sam said, "It must have been awful for them to lose a child. It's no wonder they left."
"Enough of this depressing talk!" Bonnie said. "I'll put the kettle on. You don't mind instant coffee do you? I just hate those percolators."
"No, instant's fine with me. No point in going to anymore trouble than you have."
"My thoughts exactly." Bonnie replied as she set the kettle down on a burner.
"So, Bonnie told me today that there used to be children living here, but one of them was killed a couple years back."
"Hit by a car from what I could gather. Apparently his parents decided to move after that. Bonnie said they had two other children."
"Did she say who hit the child?"
Sam's eyes widened, "No and I didn't ask her either. It would been awfully insensitive of me to ask that."
Jack ran himself another glass of water and gulped it down, "It's gonna be another scorcher." he said. "I'm feeling sweaty already."
"I haven't called the air conditioning guys yet. You're not thinking that Stan ran over this child are you?"
Jack shrugged, "Who knows? Maybe the kid saw something that he shouldn't have. Kids are naturally very curious you know."
Sam sat down with a thud, "This is getting too weird," she said, "You coming up with all these theories regarding Stan, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that you were channelling Fox Mulder."
"What can I say? Undercover work just brings out the best in me."
Sam cocked her head to one side, "Have you done undercover work before?"
Jack pushed his glass around the counter, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."
"I see. Maybe you'd better keep it to yourself for now. You feeling any better now after your bath?"
"A bit. The head still hurts a bit, but the Advil seems to be keeping the worst of it at bay."
"Feel up to going for a walk?"
"In this heat?"
"We visit desert planets all the time, and you complain about this heat?"
"Fine." Jack said, "Just let me find a bottle I can fill up with water so I can take it along with me."
Sam was standing by the door with her sandals on, smearing sunscreen over her face when Jack finally found a bottle and came to put on his shoes. "Have I got it all rubbed in?" Sam asked pointing to her face.
Jack looked at her face and reached over and rubbed the side of her nose, "You missed a tiny blob."
"Thanks. Have you seen my hat?"
"I think that it's with your bikini in the bedroom."
Sam gaped, "My what?"
"Your bikini. You know, that little black stringy thing."
"I don't own a bikini."
Jack shrugged, "Apparently you do now."
Sam felt herself blushing again and hoped that Jack would think it was just from the heat, "I'm going to kill Janet." she muttered as she stomped towards the bedroom.
Sure enough, Sam's hat was sitting on top of a little black bikini. Sam picked up the scraps of material and examined it - it was her size. Making a mental note to 'thank' Janet the next time she saw her, Sam grabbed the hat and went back to the door.
Jack looked at her, smirking. "So Sam." he said, calculating his words carefully, "When do we go swimming?"
"After I buy you a Speedo." Sam said, opening the door.
The warmth of the morning was quickly turning into the humid heat of the afternoon. Sam and Jack walked down the sidewalks, looking at the houses and speculating upon who might live there.
"This is a nice area." Jack said, "At one point in time, I might have actually considered living here."
"It's so quiet." Sam commented. "Except for the birds that is."
Jack spotted what looked like a park up ahead and so they continued along the sidewalk, instead of turning around and heading home. The park was obviously well maintained, the playground equipment looked shiny and new and the grass was well cut and the bushes well trimmed.
"Doesn't look like anyone ever comes here." Jack said gesturing to the gravel around the swings. "The gravel is smooth and there's no foot prints."
"Bonnie did say that there was no children in the area."
"But why keep this place so well maintained? Surely they have better things to spend money on."
Sam shrugged, "I guess not. They're probably keeping this place up so that when children move back into the area, they'll have a good place to play."
Jack walked a few yards away from Sam and looked behind a building that wasn't so well taken care of. "Looks like there used to be a pool here!" he called to Sam. "Come take a look!"
Sam joined Jack and gazed into the shallow hole in the ground. "Couldn't have been more than a wading pool." she said.
Jack took his bottle of water from his pocket and drank almost half of it. "This place must have been crawling with children once upon a time." he said, wiping his mouth. "You don't build a wading pool for adults."
Sam suddenly whirled around and stared at the bushes behind them. Jack looked at her curiously. "I thought I heard something." Sam whispered.
The bushes rustled and the two froze. Jack signalled to Sam that he was going to look in the bushes and that she was to stay put. Sam watched as Jack nudged them with his foot and then jumped back as though the bushes had bitten him.
A mangy looking dog leapt out from the bushes, baring its teeth at the humans. The dog growled, it's thin sides trembling. "I think it's afraid of us." Sam said.
"It looks sick. You can see her..." Jack bent over and looked under the dog, "His ribs."
The dog continued to growl at Sam and Jack, occasionally throwing a bark in for good measure. "You think we should take him with us?" Sam asked.
"Are you going to carry him?"
"We can't just leave him here!"
Jack looked at the dog and noticed something. "He has a collar on Sam, he must belong to someone. If I can look at the tag without getting bitten, we might be able to get this little fella home."
"You think his owners would still want him? He might have rabies."
"There's only one way to find out. Can you distract him or something?"
Sam picked up a stick and waved it in front of the dog's face. The dog clamped its teeth down on it and Jack quickly looked at the dog's neck. Jack shook his head, "There's no tag."
Sam threw the stick down and the dog chased after it. "So, we just leave him here?"
"What else can we do? I don't have a cage handy, do you?"
The dog tackled the stick and picked it up in his mouth. Sam looked over the dog and noticed that it was running back to them. "I think he wants to play fetch with you now." Jack said, with an amused expression on his face.
The dog dropped the stick at Sam's feet and growled at her. Sam smiled at the dog and picked the stick up, keeping her hand well away from the bared teeth. The stick was covered with dog drool. Sam threw the stick over towards the swings and the dog ran after it.
Jack wiped his brow, "I think we'd better get going. I don't want to get heat stroke."
"You should have worn a hat."
"I can't find it."
"Did you pack one?"
"Of course I did. I just can't find it."
As the couple walked out of the park, the door to the old change house opened. A figure cautiously exited, looking around suspiciously. "Here boy!" the person called. The dog came running, stick in mouth.
"Were those nice people playing with you?" the person asked, as though the dog were going to answer him. "Was the lady pretty? I bet she was pretty. Her voice sounded real pretty."
The dog panted, looking eagerly from his owner to the stick and back again. "You're a good boy, you know that? You're a good boy. They wanted to take you away from me, but I won't let them." The voice was harsher sounding now.
The dog began tugging on his owner's pants. The person kicked the dog away. "I don't have time to play right now. I have work to do."
A week passed. The air conditioning guys came and hooked up the machine. Jack no longer complained about the heat, instead he complained about boredom. Sam had unpacked most of the boxes and had begun to contemplate decorating the house. She had asked Bonnie about maybe purchasing one her paintings, Bonnie had told her that she'd think about it.
No one contacted Jack about a job. Jack was considering trying in the next town over. It wasn't far, only about 15 minutes down the road. Stan invited Jack to play baseball again during that week. Jack had politely refused, saying that he had pulled a muscle while moving the sofa. Stan had nodded knowingly and left, making Jack promise that he'd come again next week.
The General had called several times for progress reports. He told them that Janet and Daniel had received their identities and were making the final preparations for their trip. The mission was proceeding as planned.
"What time are they supposed to be arriving?"
"Whenever they get here. Stop asking me that question."
Sam exhaled slowly through her nose, "I just need to know what time so that I can have the house ready!"
"Oh my God." Jack said and backed away, "You're turning into my mom!"
Sam cuffed Jack lightly on the shoulder. "Why don't you brush off the patio chairs?" She handed him a damp rag. Jack took the rag and headed outside.
Daniel and Janet were supposed to be arriving sometime today. Sam had no idea who they were going to be, the General hadn't revealed that much to them. This puzzled Sam a bit. She would have thought that the General would have fully briefed her and Jack on the situation.
Bonnie had dropped by earlier in the day. Sam had told her that they were expecting company. She didn't want to tell Bonnie that some friends were coming by, because it might turn out that Daniel was her brother or Janet was her sister.
Sam looked out the living room window at Stan's house. He was at work, or at least Sam assumed that's where he was. His grass was little long, he'd need to cut it soon and the weeds were coming back in. Their own lawn was full of weeds, but Sam hadn't had the time for weeding. It was looking a little brown too, she'd have to water it soon.
"Can you come out here for a second?"
Sam left the window and found Jack out on the deck. He was poking at something with a stick.
"What is that?" Sam asked, hoping that it wasn't another dead cat.
"I think it's a squirrel."
Sam peered at the pile of grey fur. "Probably killed by a cat." she said. "We should bury it."
Jack stopped poking the dead animal and looked at Sam. "What's with you and burying everything?"
"Well we can't just leave it here!"
"I wasn't suggesting that we leave it on our deck. We could throw it out on the lawn, I'm sure something would eat it."
Sam felt mildly ill at Jack's suggestion. "I think we should bury it. I'll get a plastic bag."
"Hello?" called a voice that sounded like Janet's.
"They're here." Jack said and looked at his watch, "Right on time too."
Janet appeared at the door and stepped outside, "The door was unlocked, so we just let ourselves in." she said, "I hope you don't mind."
Sam threw her arms around Janet, "I'm so glad you're here!" she said.
Jack looked around, "Where's Daniel? Did you put him in your purse?"
Janet laughed, "No, he's dragging our luggage out of the car. Is that a dead squirrel?"
Jack nodded, "Yep, I hope you're hungry."
Janet made a face, "I hope you're not serious."
"Actually, we were just going to bury it." Sam said, "It must have been killed by a cat."
"Or maybe it took a look at the colour of your house and just curled up and died." Janet suggested.
"It's pretty terrible, isn't it?" Sam said laughing, "We're going to get it repainted."
Jack went to help Daniel with the bags and Sam gave Janet a tour of the house. "So Janet." Sam said as she showed her where the bathroom was, "If Janet is indeed your name, we weren't told anything about your new identity. Who are you?"
"The General didn't tell you?"
Sam shook her head, "No, he didn't. I was kind of surprised myself."
"My name is Raylene Goodwin, I'm your sister-in-law and Daniel is Patrick Goodwin, your brother."
Sam nodded, "Okay, Raylene and Patrick, got it. Have fun playing a married couple."
"How are you and Colonel O'Neill making out?"
"It's going fine, I guess. We've had a few awkward moments, including an incident with the vacuum cleaner that I won't elaborate on."
"The vacuum cleaner, really, that sounds kinky."
"We bought another bed the other day, you and Daniel can share it or one of you can sleep on the floor."
"What about the sofa? Can't one of us sleep on that?"
Sam shook her head, "No, it's Jack's sleeping on that. And don't look so surprised Janet. You didn't think that Jack and I were going to sleep together, did you?"
Janet shrugged. "Can I get something to drink?"
"Yeah sure," Sam turned around the headed for the kitchen. "We have water, or there's orange juice."
"Don't you have anything with alcohol in it?"
"I'll get Jack to make a run to the liquor store later today."
Sam poured herself a glass of water and handed another glass to Janet, who had asked for orange juice. Jack and Daniel soon joined them, both of them were sweating. Jack looked pointedly at Janet, "Did you pack rocks or something?"
"No, I brought along some medical testing equipment."
"For what?" Sam asked, taking a sip of her water.
"The General really didn't tell you anything did he? We're going to extract the Goa'uld from this Stanley La Grupa guy."
"Excuse me? Extract the Goa'uld? Won't that kill him?" Jack asked, looking alarmed. "You don't think that anyone will notice?"
Janet shrugged, "That's what our orders are sir."