Jeannie smiled as she returned Madison's wave and watched her daughter turn away to play on the climbing frame. Even though everyone on the Daedalus and in Atlantis had been friendly and welcoming, she'd still missed home, and Kaleb and Madison in particular. She was glad to see Madison hadn't suffered from her absence, beyond being a little clingy. It made her feel guilty for having left in the first place, but also glad that she was a little more indispensable as a mother than Mer thought she was.
However, it was strange coming back to this normal life that didn't involve aliens or life in other galaxies or a war with aliens that wanted to wipe out all life on Earth. She was glad she had gone - goodness knows what Mer might have done on his own - but she wasn't quite sure how her life would be the same again. She couldn't decide how much to let it either - she was facing the same choices as she had when she'd been pregnant with Madison and thinking of giving up her career.
She jumped at the voice coming from beside her on the bench. She'd been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed anyone sitting down. When she turned to her left she found that he was an older man with graying hair, who was dressed far too warmly for a sunny day.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to make you jump."
She smiled at his apology and noted the British accent. "It's all right. I was miles away." More miles, in fact, that he might ever have guessed.
"I thought I'd go for a walk and now I've got myself completely lost. I'm looking for the harbour."
She raised her eyebrows. "You are lost."
He sighed. "It's going to be a long walk back, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I could ring someone to come and get me, I suppose, but I never quite got the hang of this." He pulled a cellphone from his jacket pocket and frowned at it.
Jeannie couldn't help but smile. They were simple to use, but she could understand that older folks might not think so. "I can call someone for you, if you like. Do you know the number?"
"It's in here, under UNIT."
He passed the cell over and Jeannie scrolled through the menu. Most of the entries in there made no sense, although a few were ordinary names. It was snooping, but this was a man she'd only just met and it could be a trick. He looked honest enough, but you never could tell. Just in case, she made sure to keep one eye on him as she found the entry marked 'UNIT', dialled the number and handed the cell back.
He smiled as he took it, then stood up and stepped away to make the call. She strained to hear, and was glad that the words she could make out sounded like they matched with the story he'd told her. While he spoke Madison moved over to the slide and Jeannie made sure to applaud her as she reached the bottom. Madison gave her a big grin and went back for another go. The man stepped a little closer to Jeannie and confirmed that whoever he was talking to could work out his position from his cellphone, which made it sound like they were the CSIS or something.
When he finished he frowned at the cell and sat back down. Jeannie tensed, keeping an eye on Madison and made sure she was ready to run over to her if necessary. If this man was involved with the same sort of people Mer was, who knew what could be going on.
But he said, "Do you know how I put the phone down?" and Jeannie smiled in relief. She happily pressed the button for him, and then he put the cell back in his pocket.
"Thank you. I swear I should be used to it by now. Harry Sullivan," he added, and held out his hand. "It won't be long before I get an escort back."
She shook his hand. "Jeannie Miller." At least she had a name now, and maybe she could find out more, since neither of them were going anywhere for a few minutes, at least. "What brings you to Vancouver?"
"Work." He paused and frowned. "I'm in the Navy," he added, as if that explained everything.
What the British Navy were doing this side of Canada, she didn't know. She hadn't seen anything about it in the news and she had been studying it carefully since she got back, just in case she saw anything strange that might suggest the Wraith were on their way here. "So how do you like Vancouver?"
"Wet. It reminds me of home." He smiled, although she thought that maybe he sounded a little homesick. She would be if she were in his position.
"It's good to be home," she said. She smiled at Madison who applauded herself as she successfully slid down the slide. She was glad that Mer was beginning to see that she had made the right decision four years ago. And now that they were talking again, maybe she didn't have to decide between her family and physics this time. After all, there was email, even between here and the Pegasus galaxy.
"Sometimes the people who love you are just as important as saving the world," she added. He raised his eyebrows at that and she couldn't blame him. World saving was not exactly a common job. "My brother saves the world," she explained, a note of pride creeping into her voice.
A shadow passed over his face. "I'm glad to hear there are people doing that."
This time they were both startled by the man who had approached the bench. A British sailor, Jeannie assumed, although she wasn't sure if they usually wore red berets.
"Tell him to keep up the good work," Harry said as he stood up.
"I will," Jeannie replied, nodding, and went to push Madison on the swings.