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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:36 pm 
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September 20th, 2014 - At a small downtown café

Unlike his dad, this kid liked to hear himself talk. For most of the two hours they had spent shopping downtown, Liam had not paused to draw breath for more than two seconds. If only the exciting stories he seemed to be telling would make more sense. Most of the talk that came out of the three-year-old's mouth was gibberish. But Sun knew two things: It sounded like Chinese and she managed to pick out about every tenth or so word as such. Most of them still sounded off, but she knew what he meant.

Her mother had said that she had been the same at his age. And she had told her to be patient. Life was not easy for bilingual toddlers. Yet it was a struggle to reinforce the talk and not to resign with a long-suffering groan. Right now, he seemed to ramble on about some girl at the daycare, since and tu-su (his funky word for daycare) were the only two words she had picked out.

"And she did what?" she inquired absently in proper Chinese as she tugged at his little hand to lead him outside the department store. It would be about five seconds until he would reproach her with an emphatic to let mommy know that she was silly and had no idea what was going on in his busy little life. But nothing happened this time around. Instead he suddenly fell silent and gawped up at her with big eyes. This could only mean one thing. Sun sighed, "Are you hungry, sweety?"

Once he had heard the h-word, Liam beamed at her, nodding wildly. Whatever was it with little ones and food? He had had his lunch two hours ago and now he was already starved again. There had to be another growth spurt coming up... Sighing Sun looked around for a place to go. After a moment she spotted a small café, just across the street from them. Perfect. After hours of her beloved son chewing off her ear, she could use a coffee herself. Without thinking twice she shouldered her shopping bags and walked right over, Liam in tow.

The second her son walked in, he spotted the cake display at the counter and broke into a run. "Wàng pài!" he exclaimed happily and it was all Sun could do not to let go of his hand. So, it looked as though they were to admire the cakes.

Once Liam had reached the counter, he disentangled himself and began to marvel at the chocolate cookies. Typical... Sun took the moment to set down her bags and have a quick breather. Running after a toddler all day was no good with a relatively fresh shoulder injury. Right now, she wished she had brought his stroller. But it was too late for that now...

This same moment, Liam found something more interesting than the pastries in front of his nose. Before she could grab him, he bounded off the other way.

"Liam...!" With a groan of exasperation, Sun ran after him. But he had already stopped again. He was standing at one of the tables, staring with fascination at a woman who looked vaguely Asian. Oh no. Inwardly, Sun cringed. He was going to...

"Nǐhǎo!" He chirped at her with his nicest little smile, fully assuming she understood him.

With a mute prayer she stepped forward and tugged at his sleeve. She was speaking English now. "Liam J. P. Sharpe, what did we say about chatting up strangers in Chinese?"

"Oh...", startled he beheld her with the most angelic look in his moss green eyes. But he understood very well. "En-lish?"

"Yes, English", she admonished him as she crouched down to hold both his warm, pudgy hands. "And no chatting up strangers. You know mommy doesn't like when you do that."

It was now she turned to the woman her cheeky little son had just accosted. Feeling a great pang of shame, she looked at her. "I'm terribly sorry for my son, ma'am. He likes flirting with strangers a little too much." At that she nudged Liam a little bit. "What do we say when we are naughty?"

"Sorry?" her son offered with a shy giggle. It was not like a three-year-old to take anything seriously. And he really seemed to like this lady, in spite of only having known her for less than a minute.

Once again, Sun looked at her. She was a few years younger than herself, slender and well built. And she seemed to be keeping to herself. There was nobody sitting at the table with her. Something about her looked vaguely familiar. And then it struck her: This woman was no stranger. They were working together at the SGC. She was one of the Australian officers working with them. But Sun could not recall her name for the life of it. She had seen her in briefings but still, she only managed to remember her rank.

"I know you", she said at last, with a cautious look into her direction. "You are Flight Lieutenant..."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:34 pm 
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This was the first Saturday that Jess had taken off in a over fortnight, having stayed mostly to herself and pulling weekend shifts from those who had other places they wanted to be. She enjoyed being able to immerse herself in her work. It made each bit of progress just that little bit more real, more tangible. To be able to see forward movement was a great motivator. However even she needed a break now and then, especially now that the overarching stress of working inside a top secret facility on a project that she couldn't tell anyone about, where the threat of death was a very real occurrence on frequent basis against enemies that could do things to you that made lifelong crippling look like a pleasant alternative.

She had been worrying. Worrying how she might react when she finally got asked to step through that wormhole into the shit, instead of short hops over to the Alpha Site to get used to the sensation. The stress had been getting to her, so much so that she had actually gone out and bought a packet of cigarettes, something she hadn't done since... forever. That was part of the reason she was out here right now. The other had been to get a decent cup of coffee. The barista who had made it looked like he knew what he was doing and the first sip had backed up that sentiment.

And just like that, her moment of solitude was ruined. A young boy, a toddler really probably no more than four years old, rushed up to her table and stared at her. Jess watched him from the corner of her eye, wondering what it was exactly he wanted and where his parent's were.

"Nǐhǎo!" She about jumped out of her seat at the loud, cheerful greeting. A chinese speaking child away from his mother's apron string? Either he had beat a very hasty escape or asian parents were lot more lenient in this country. She suspected the former. Might as well be nice.

"Xin chào anh chàng ít." The boy's mother bustled up, looking rather harried. And very much euro. Odd. She looked at the child again, this time really looking. He was euro too. And he spoke chinese? This was getting bizarre.

The woman was giving the boy a dressing down, in english at least so she could understand that, about not bothering strangers while speaking an asian language, instead reproachfully impressing upon him the necessity of using english. The boy's reactions were cute, something she rarely thought of anything. In fact he seemed genuinely ashamed that he had not pleased his mother. If only...

And then the kid had to go and ruin his careful charade by giggling. Jess sighed. She had been a master of pulling the wool over her parents eyes. You kept the act up for as long as necessary, even through the coming days and weeks. This kid had a lot to learn.

"I know you." Oh, here it comes.

"You are Flight Lieutenant..." Jess broke in here, to spare both parties as much embarrassment as possible.

"Flight Officer Jessica Nguyen, currently working on attachment with NORAD out of Cheyenne." A rehearsed story, more for the benefit of the general public than the woman in front of her. Of course the SGC couldn't leave her properly alone for even one day. It was like a malicious shadow, following her around when she least wanted it.

"Was there something you wanted, ma'am? Other than to stop your son from attempting to start a conversation in a foreign language with random passers by, I mean." It would pay to be polite here. She had no way of determining the other woman's rank, so playing on the safe side would be best. An introduction would be forthcoming soon either way.

"Either way, may I say your son is adorable. He'll have everyone wrapped around his fingers before too long I should imagine." Kids were nice. A little piece of innocence that reminded her why she fought. It's hard to see redeeming qualities in adults. Most hid them behind a veneer of cynicism. Children didn't have that.

"You wouldn't mind sharing your name, would you?" To the point. Jess hoped that the woman wouldn't find offence, at least not if she was a senior officer. Anyone else she would tell to go blow it out their arse. Okay, that wasn't true. But she would ask them to leave her be. Maybe the same could be accomplished here, provided she could rein in the child's enthusiasm. Here's hoping.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:02 pm 
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"Flight Officer Jessica Nguyen, currently working on attachment with NORAD out of Cheyenne."

Of course... Sun wondered where she had left her head. Probably back home, with Liam's stroller. Usually she had no issues knowing non-US ranks, but today was not usual at all.

"I'm sorry." Slowly, Sun got up, dusting off her skirt. "Major Desiree Sharpe, I work upstairs from you." For a moment, she wanted to extend her hand, but it did not feel proper. Not because she outranked the other woman, but because she had just disturbed her on her day off. Things were embarrassing enough already. And the little one was not helping. "And this is Liam."

On hearing his name, her son waved at the other woman, beaming as though Christmas had just fallen on Easter. He almost seemed enamored of her, whyever. Children were weird like that, not caring about manners or reservations. In the meanwhile, the two adults were carefully circling each other. Nguyen was still polite, probably because she had a major before her, but it was clear she wanted to be left in peace.

"Was there something you wanted, ma'am? Other than to stop your son from attempting to start a conversation in a foreign language with random passers by, I mean." But then again, she was sending other signals as well. Liam seemed to have made an impression on her after all. "Either way, may I say your son is adorable. He'll have everyone wrapped around his fingers before too long I should imagine."

"Not really, no. Please forgive the intrusion. And thank you. He can be the sweetest kid in the world when he chooses to. But sometimes, he just completely forgets his manners. Don't you, chou-chou ?" Sort of expecting Liam to agree, she looked down at him. But he had paid no attention to their conversation at all.
"Uhh..." he muttered, while his gaze traveled back and forth between the sweets at the counter and his new acquaintance, as though he could not quite decide which he liked best.

Sun was starting to feel awkward. They could not go on like this. "I think we better find a table." Slowly she looked around, realizing that the place was packed. It was Saturday after all and half the city seemed to have stormed downtown today. Finding a place to sit would prove hard.

Seeing that his mother was a bit distraught, Liam took matters into his own tiny hands. Before she could protest, he stormed forward again and hopped on the sofa adjacent to Nguyen. Wonderful. Sun rolled her eyes. For his age, he was a bit too good at producing accomplished facts sometimes. "Liam, no", she said sternly.

But the little one could not have cared less. He merely folded his short arm, pouting at her. He was asking for an argument, knowing full well how much she hated to quarrel in public. Smart little shit... Yet it did not mean he would get away with it. "Honey, you can't just sit at someone else's table. You have to ask first..." she said, feeling the heat rise to her cheeks. Maybe, if he realized that he had embarrassed her, he would get back up.

It was a vain hope. Liam knew very well how to wrap adults around his finger and chose to launch a charm offensive instead. Smiling innocently, he got up on his knees to make himself taller. It almost looked as though he was going to propose to Nguyen. Cocking his head sideways, he offered her his sweetest grin. "May sit here ?" he asked, before pausing to bat his eyelashes at her in the most endearing way. "Pretty please ?"

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:50 pm 
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As much as the diversion had been mildly interesting, the boy and his mother seemed to be making the motions to leave and find a other table. Jess allowed herself a momentary internal grin, praising herself for the operational success achieved here today. It was accompanied by a small wave of sadness, an emotion which she stopped dead and examined from all angles before letting it run it's course. She surely couldn't be enjoying the company, could she? She'd been a loner for half her life and a bitch for the other half. That didn't make sense.

Major Sharpe had turned away and was searching for a table, eyes roaming over the packed establishment fruitlessly looking for a place to sit. The stress in her bearing brought forward more feelings, this time of guilt. The right thing to do was to let them sit with her, but she wanted to be as far away as possible from anything to do with the SGC as was humanly possible today. Still her conscience nagged at her to do what she considered right.

And them the decision was taken clean out of her hands.

The boy, Liam, decided that the best place to sit was right next to her. In defiance of his mother's wishes, along with her own. A short back and forth later and Liam appealed to a higher authority. Figuratively speaking.

"May sit here?" There was that cheeky bloody grin.

"Pretty please?" Jess was stunned. For a moment it was all she could do not to just gawp at the lad. He was very good at this. She was silent for a few moments more. And then began giggling furiously, sounding for all the world like a hyena with hiccups. She hadn't laughed like that in a long time. It didn't fit with how she saw herself these days, so she avoided it. It felt... good, at least somewhat, to cut some of that part of her loose, even if just for a few seconds.

"You have some nerve, mate, asking like that out of the blue. Nerves of bloo..." Jess paused and mentally corrected herself. It didn't do to swear in front of a child.

"Nerves of steel. I like that." She made a show of leaning back in her chair to think about it for a while, flicking her eyes between the Major and Liam for a good ten seconds. But the decisions had already been made. And not by her.

"All right. You can sit here. Its not like the rest of this place is exactly bursting with empty seats, although from the look of some of the patrons its more likely that some seats will be bursting." This last was said in a conversational whisper. It should only carry to Liam, but it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility that Major Sharpe would hear as well. Turning slightly in her seat, she got the attention of one of the floor staff, a damn good looking young man, as he was carting some dirty cups and cutlery back behind the bar. He nodded at her, clearly indicating that he would be with her as soon as he was finished with his current task.

"I think you'd better decide what you would like guys. I give it maybe a minute until a waiter comes to interrupt us. And as it's my table, I guess it's my shout."

Jess was perfectly okay with silence, but it probably wouldn't go down so well with her guests. Icebreaker time.

"So, Major, what brings you and your young gentleman out here on this fine, freezing day?"


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