The Other Side
He'd known it would happen, of course. He'd known the time would come when he'd make a decision she didn't agree with. A decision that turned her stomach. He'd show the other, darker side of him that he liked to keep buried under thick layers of humour and sarcasm.
He'd just hoped it wouldn't happen so soon.
She'd always known it was there. She knew what was inside him, what he was capable of, what he'd done in the past. Maybe not specifics, but she wasn't naive. She knew what the blanks in his file represented.
But she'd never been faced with it head on.
There was something to be said for the relative protection of being the average military wife. Sara, her own mother, both had had their own issues to deal with. But sometimes not knowing could be the easier option. Sam would have to cope with not having that luxury.
She had to cope with watching her husband order another man's death.
"Sam, we're not at the base now."
"No, we're not."
"Can I come in?"
Sam stepped aside and let him through, but said nothing.
"What are you doing here?"
"Last I knew this was still my house."
"I thought you'd be at home when I got there."
"You thought wrong."
"So I see."
"Was there something you wanted?"
"To see you! You left the base without saying anything."
"I'm not sure I have anything to say."
Jack paused. "You didn't like what you saw, did you?"
"No. It wasn't necessary."
"In your opinion."
"That's all that matters."
"How can you say that?"
"Because it's true. It's my command, my decision to make. I made it."
"But you're not the only one who has to live with it. Especially not now."
"Sam, you know that-"
"I know, I wouldn't want your decisions to be altered in any way out of consideration to me as your wife. In fact, the moment you start doing that, we have a problem."
"Seems to me we have a problem anyway."
"There's a difference between wanting you to consider my feelings, and agreeing with what you did."
"And there's a difference between our relationship in the field, and our relationship at home."
"You want me to leave this at work?"
"Well our marriage isn't exactly the best place for it."
"Do you think I left work problems behind when I came home before?"
"Forget problems, you never leave any of your work behind."
"So nothing's changed."
"Everything's changed. We're married."
"But we have to accept that not only is our marriage not legal, it's not conventional. In a perfect world I could bring my problems with work home, and talk to my husband when my commanding officer does something I believe was wrong. You see where I'm going with this."
"So you can't talk to me about me, that doesn't mean you need to shut yourself away! We didn't keep our own houses so we can run away when it becomes too much, that's not what marriage is about."
"You're going to lecture me on marriage now? I suppose this is where you point out that you've done it before. Well, look how that turned out."
"I wasn't going to mention it, but now that you have I could bring to your attention that if Sara and I hadn't shut each other out we might have lasted longer."
"Well, I'm not Sara! And if this is going to work one of the first things you need to learn about me is sometimes I need my own space. If we lived together, I'd shut myself in my office and that would be enough. But as we've already established, we don't. We can't. I can't have a room in your house, I can't leave my things in your house."
"As far as I'm concerned, it's our house."
"It can't be. We knew the situation when we got into this, now we have to live with the limitations it gives us. I need my own space, and the only place I can get it is here."
"I don't like it."
"You don't have to like it. You just have to accept it. Believe me, it's better for you tonight to not be in my way while I work through this."
"Don't you mean this evening?"
"No, I mean tonight. I'm staying here tonight."
"Going home. Your home."
"And what happens the next time I make a decision you don't like?"
"Honestly? I don't know."
"I'm not changing my mind on this."
"So what, I see you on the base tomorrow morning?"
"Is that really so bad?"
"It's the same situation I've had to live with for long enough by now." Deflating slightly, Jack added, "I've been enjoying the change."
His change in demeanour pulled at Sam somewhere his words hadn't been able to touch, so she reached out, covering his hand with hers. "So have I. I need this, Jack, but I promise you I'll be back."
Jack's only response was to lift his eyes to hers.
"Now go. Give me time to think, to get things straight."
Jack remained silent as he walked to the door, leaving Sam following and wondering exactly what he was thinking. She almost didn't notice when he reached out and tried to pull her in for a kiss. Almost.
She closed the door behind him, and collapsed against it.