[repost] Stargate Sg-1 fanfic: Plans Change
This is one of the first SG-1 fics I ever wrote, back in 2010. I remember I spent a very long, tiring morning wrapping presents for my kids. It was around four in the morning when I finished putting them out and sat down at the computer to relax. The story idea hit me, and I spent the next few hours writing. I think I might have laid down for a half hour before the kids go up. I’ve fixed some grammar errors in it.
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
(Jack/Sam UST), Daniel, Teal’c
Sam’s Christmas plans change unexpectedly. But that can be a good thing. A Christmas fic.
don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.
Plans change. It happens every day to just about every person on the planet. The odds of plans not changing for a person are one in… Well, really high. Sam didn’t much feel like figuring out the math at the moment. Her plans had changed. She sat staring at the half packed duffel on the floor by her feet and sighed.
First she got a message from the SGC saying her dad couldn’t make it back for Christmas. Apparently the Tok’ra didn’t celebrate or care. Or he just hadn’t bothered telling them why he needed time off. No problem. She could accept that her dad was now some alien hybrid super hero off making the galaxy safe for all beings. It’s what he did. It’s what they all did. She understood, but didn’t relish having to try and explain it to her brother… without actually explaining anything.
It ended up not being a problem. She was half-way through packing her bag when the phone rang. She didn’t bother to check the caller ID, holding the receiver between her cheek and shoulder.
“Wow, is that how you answer your phone?”
A smile spread across her face at the sound of her brother’s voice. “Hey, Mark. I’m almost packed, and my flight leaves at 1300, uh, 1PM this afternoon-“
“Yeah,” he said slowly, his voice changing subtly. “That’s what I was calling about.”
Sam had sighed and thrown herself face first onto her bed as she half listened to her brother’s excuse. The first Christmas she had off in years, and both her dad and brother blow her off. Plans change.
That’s how she found herself still staring at her bag with a frown wondering what to do with herself now that her plans went down the drain. She tapped her fingers on the comforter, crisp and corners perfect. There was always the twenty-four hours of A Christmas Story. Cold pizza and warm beer. Bars are open on Christmas Eve, right?
Her cell buzzed against her thigh from inside the pocket of her jeans. She leaned back to dig it out and checked the caller first this time. Daniel, as if on queue. He could be so predictable sometimes.
“Hey, Daniel,” she said as greeting.
“Sam, I wasn’t sure if I would actually get you before your flight. Just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas so I won’t have to call and bother you tomorrow.”
“You’re never a bother,” she told him, genuinely meaning it.
Daniel snorted. She could almost see his eyes rolling. “Tell that to Jack. You two have vastly differing opinions on what a bother is.”
Sam laughed at that. “I’m sure.”
“So, is your flight late?”
“Huh?” Sam asked absently as she kicked the duffel out of the way and wandered into the kitchen.
“You were supposed to leave at one and it’s 1:15 so I just assumed-“
“Oh, yeah,” she said, trying for noncommittal. She opened the fridge then let it fall shut with a sigh. She made the rounds with the cupboards, too. Slim pickin’s. All because plans change. That wasn’t true. She just never had food in the house. Hell, she was hardly in the house and when she was it was just easier to get take-out then to actually shop and cook.
“Sam?” She stopped mid thought. She had almost forgotten about Daniel.
“Nothing,” she mumbled.
“Nothing, I said.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Wait, what?” Sam felt her head start to hurt. She wondered if this was how the colonel felt all the time when he talked with Daniel.
There was a noise of frustration from the other side of the phone, and Sam bit back a chuckle. At least she was being just as annoying to him as he was to her.
“Sam…” he said, in his dramatic, end-of-his-patience voice that was nearly always reserved for the colonel.
“Daniel,” she dead-panned back in her best impersonation of her CO.
There was a pause, and then Daniel laughed loudly. The sound grew softer as he obviously pulled the phone from his mouth. After a moment he returned. “Don’t do that.”
Sam chuckled. “Sorry.”
“So, about that flight.”
She sighed in defeat and broke into the whole illicit story of her brother’s wife’s mother’s half-sister’s cousin’s baby’s whatever getting sick and his decision to fly up to Vancouver (she hadn’t even bothered to ask if he meant Washington or British Columbia) and the Tok’ra’s blatant disregard for hallowed Tau’ri traditions.
“You’re not going to San Diego then?” he asked warily.
“No, Daniel, I’m not.”
“So, what are you doing right now?”
“Eating three day old pizza and looking for the rum to add to the eggnog. I know I had some.”
“You’re going to spend Christmas alone?”
She rolled her eyes. “It’ll give me time to catch up on-“
“You know what Jack would say to that.”
“Well, Jack isn’t here so…”
Daniel laughed softly. “Yeah. Sam…”
“I’m fine, Daniel. Plans change. I’m a military brat, remember? I’m used to this kind of thing.”
“Doesn’t change the disappointment.”
He was quiet for awhile after that. Sam knew he was building to something, and she was pretty sure it would have her driving over to his place or the other way around. She glanced around the rest of the house, her military mind pointing out all the areas that weren’t up to inspection. She was about to ask if he was still there when a loud crash issued from his side of the line followed by a string of muffled curses.
There were some more yelling and cussing, obviously not Daniel. Sam waited and then finally got an answer. “I gotta go, Sam. I’ll call you later.”
“Dan—” The line went dead. Sam stared at the phone in her hand for a moment before shrugging. Wonder what that was all about. She left it on the counter and took her cold pizza into the living room. Amazingly, after twenty minutes of searching she couldn’t find any Christmas movies. She shook her head as she bit into her second slice. Stale pizza, strong eggnog and Jaws. Couldn’t get more Christmasy than a giant shark terrorizing a New England town during the summer she thought with a giggle. Maybe she put too much rum in the ‘nog.
By the time Chief Brody was wishing for a bigger boat, Sam’s brain started to buzz. Her body felt warm all over, a not entirely unwelcome sensation that started in her toes and traveled up her spine and into her head. Her fingers tingled, and she was sure she could feel every hair on her head as it swayed when she moved. Way too much rum. But it was a good feeling. One should feel this way on Christmas. Full of… mirth… and… good cheer. Yeah. Mirth and good cheer. That sounded good. She giggled uncontrollably every time the mechanical shark made its appearance and started mentally listing her own scars she could have shown off to Quint and Hooper.
The giggling continued unabated. The door knocked. Er, someone knocked on the door. There was a knock at the door. Sam’s alcohol infused brain fought to keep up. Knock. Door. Answer. Right. She got up and tried to pull herself together which just sent another wave of giggles through her. Who was she kidding? The knock grew more insistent.
She pulled all her military training together and managed to cross the room without stumbling once and only almost tripped on her own shoes.
The knock turned into a banging.
“Keep your pants on,” she said rather more loudly than planned as she yanked the door open and stared at the three men standing on her porch. “Sir!”
The colonel had his hand raised, ready to pound on her door again, a cheesy grin spreading across his face. Daniel was beside him holding a brightly colored gift bag. Teal’c, just behind, carried a box that smelled an awful lot like honey ham and sweet potatoes. She licked her lips.
“Uh, you gonna invite us in?” the colonel asked, finally letting his hand fall to his side.
Sam stared at them for another moment, trying to wrap her mind around what was going on. It was important, she thought.
“Sam?” Daniel moved past the colonel and waved his hand in front of her face. She tracked the movement, her eyes settling on his face. He smiled warmly at her. “We brought food.”
Her mouth watered. “Smells good.”
“Might we come in, Major Carter, so we may partake in the meal Daniel Jackson has provided.”
“Uh, right,” she mumbled, suddenly feeling like an idiot, “come in.”
She moved out of the way and the guys made their way into the kitchen as if they owned the place. Sam followed more out of hunger than anything. Ham, sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, rolls and green bean casserole were heaped onto a plate for her. They carried their settings into the dining room. Sam almost fell over trying to suddenly get up from her seat.
“I left my drink…” she mumbled as way of explanation when the colonel looked at her oddly.
“I’ll get it,” he told her before she could object. When he was back he set the glass down in front of her and leaned in close. “Having a bit of fun, are we, Carter?”
She hiccuped in response, her hand shooting up to cover her mouth. Daniel and Teal’c were staring. She didn’t even have to look to know that. The colonel just grinned at her in that charming, boyish way he had. It was… adorable, she thought, then forced her mind to back track away from that dangerous direction. Drunk or not, she knew which paths ought not be traveled at any time… ever.
“I did mention the rum to Daniel.”
“Yes, you did,” he said, still smiling at her. She finally had to look away. Daniel was shaking his head. He had something to say.
“I’m fine, Daniel,” she said as he opened his mouth, preempting his comment. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the colonel almost choke on his bite of ham, his eyes twinkling in amusement.
“I told you she would be,” he said, pointing his fork at Daniel, “but you had to drag us all the way over here. She would have been just fine watching-” he glanced over his shoulder at the TV, now muted in the background, “Jaws-” ‘Jaws?’ he mouthed to her. Sam shrugged in response. “-watching Jaws and eating week old pizza.”
“It’s only three days old. The pizza.”
The colonel shook his head in mock frustration. “Three day old pizza. See, Daniel, it wasn’t even as dire as you made it out to be.”
Sam’s mind was sluggish, but she got the distinct impression he was mocking her. She narrowed her eyes at him, but he continued on for some time, apparently unconcerned that no one found him the least bit entertaining. Finally Daniel ended his tirade.
“I brought movies. White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and Christmas Vacation.”
“Thank god,” Sam muttered, getting up from her chair.
She was proud she didn’t knock it over or trip over her own feet as she took her dishes to the kitchen. She was so intent on not making a fool of herself again that she didn’t hear the colonel come in behind her, and that’s how she found herself stumbling into his arms as he tried not to spill his own plate down the front of either of them.
He stared down at her with wide, amused eyes, his arms outstretched and balancing a stack of plates in one and two glasses hooked between his fingers of the other. She realized a moment too slowly she was gripping onto his shirt and leaning into him. He smelled good. Like Old Spice and a wood burning stove. She shook the thought from her head. No more eggnog for you, she thought sternly before pushing off of the colonel.
“Sorry,” she said, more to the floor than him.
He just snorted. He seemed to be finding this whole affair wildly amusing which just irked Sam a little more than she cared to admit. In the other room, Teal’c and Daniel discussed which movie they should watch first. The colonel moved easily around her kitchen, scraping the plates into the garbage disposal and loading the rarely used dishwasher. She stood like a moron just watching. She was even sure her mouth hung open for a good portion of the time. She hoped he hadn’t noticed. When he was done, he wiped his hands on the towel hanging from the oven handle and looked up at her.
“Wanna beer?” he asked with a huge smirk.
Sam frowned at him. “Funny.”
They stood like that for a while, just staring. At least it felt like a while to Sam but it was hard to tell because she was sure they had just stepped into some kind of weird space-time dilation thing. The kind of event she’d fully understand if she wasn’t so blitzed at the moment. Holiday cheer. Mirth and good cheer…yeah, right. More like embarrassment and humiliation that the colonel wasn’t soon to forget based on the look he wore plastered to his mostly sober face.
“What are you guys doing in there?” Daniel called from the other room, breaking the spell.
“Just cleaning up,” the colonel answered. God, he looked cute when he was being an ass. He snorted, and Sam was suddenly struck with a paranoid thought that he could actually read her mind. With a smug look, he headed for the living room, beer in hand. Sam moaned into her hands. This night just kept getting better and better.
* * *
Sam woke with a start. The room was dim, the TV the only light she could discern. It flickered between random images. No, she thought as her mind fought out of the fog, it wasn’t flickering. Someone was flipping through the channels. She rubbed sleep from her eyes and lifted her head from the pillow. She frowned. There were no pillows in her living room. Her pillow turned out to be the lap of one Colonel Jack O’Neill. She was curled up on her couch, legs tucked up but her feet resting lightly against Daniel’s thigh on the other end of the sofa. He was slouched down, head lolled against the back and partly propped up by his fist as his elbow perched on the arm rest. He snored softly.
Sam groaned. Her neck hurt. The colonel continued to channel surf. She licked her lips. They felt dry, and her tongue felt huge. And fuzzy. She wondered how a tongue so huge and fuzzy could hold no saliva to wet her parched lips.
“Sir?” she asked again with a little more confusion this time.
He answered by gently pressing her head back to his leg.
“You’ll wake Daniel,” he told her softly.
Sam looked down by her feet. Daniel was dead to the world. She doubted an avalanche could wake him at the moment. Had he been drinking? Sam couldn’t remember.
“What time is it?”
Still flipping channels he glanced at his watch. “0100.”
Sam sat up… with much regret. The room spun momentarily and only stopped because she shut her eyes. That didn’t halt the swimming sensation, though. “Ugh,” she mumbled. The colonel laughed quietly next to her. She made a mental note to seek revenge at a later date.
“Need some help?” he asked as he pushed her up off the couch.
She gave him her best ‘don’t be ridiculous’ stare. He threw his hands up in defeat then suddenly found the TV utterly interesting again. Sam worked her way towards the bathroom. A couple aspirin and a long pee and Sam was sure she’d be feeling better in no time flat. She sighed at her reflection before deciding to at least attempt looking human. She quickly brushed her hair and splashed some cold water on her face. Better. Colder, but better.
She found Teal’c in her spare room Kel’no’reming (was that a word?). She started to back out when Teal’c stirred suddenly, freezing her own movement. His eyes drifted open, and a small smile graced his peaceful face. Sam liked when he smiled. It was so infrequent that it always meant more when he felt the urge.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” she told him in a loud whisper.
“You did not,” he answered in his normal voice.
Sam nodded, not sure what else to say. She was still half asleep, and her brain was having trouble putting coherent thoughts together. Speech seemed to escape her almost entirely.
“I am sorry you did not get to spend your holiday with your family,” he told her.
Sam frowned. “You are family, Teal’c.”
His smile grew a fraction but his eyes lit up. “Indeed.”
“I’m glad you came. Even if I don’t remember most of the night.” She shook her head at her own humiliation.
“The night was uneventful, Major Carter. You did not miss much.”
“I missed your company.”
“But we did not miss yours.”
Sam sighed. There was usually no point in arguing with Teal’c, and he was almost always right no matter the topic. “Okay,” she told him, still whispering for some reason her brain refused to process. “I’ll let you get back to-” she made a motion with her hands that reminded her of something the colonel would do.
Teal’c nodded in the regal way he had and closed his eyes. Sam was almost out the door when he spoke again. “Major Carter…” She turned to look back at him. “Merry Christmas.” The corners of his mouth quirked up again.
Sam smiled back at the man that looked even more massive leaning against the small pull out sofa bed she kept in her office for guests. Not that she ever had anyone over. Except the guys. “You, too,” she answered finally before shutting the door.
Out in the hall her head started to clear some. The house sounded quiet. Without the alcohol muddling her brain she thought of the events of the night. Daniel hadn’t been wrong when he accused of her of being disappointed. Not that she’d ever admit to that. And she appreciated the gesture of them stopping by to cheer her up. Because they changed their plans. For her. She smiled at that thought. Not that it surprised her much. She could always count on the guys to be around when she needed them most.
From the kitchen she heard glass clinking and followed the sound. The colonel was rinsing out beer bottles and adding them to the growing collection in the recycling bin.
“I can do that in the morning,” she told him as she leaned on the counter across from him.
He didn’t look up. “It is morning, Carter.”
She sucked in a long, suffering sigh. He was hard to deal with on a good day, she thought. Add alcohol to the mix and…
“Sir, you don’t have to do that.” She came around the counter and pulled the bottles from his hands. She set them down next to the sink suddenly aware of how close she was to him and that he was staring intently at her.
“You okay?” he finally asked, his voice low.
“I’m fine.” She was getting tired of that question. She looked up into his doubtful eyes. “Really.” He continued to stare, obviously not convinced. There were times his eye for observation was really annoying. “It’s just that I hadn’t planned…” She trailed off, biting her lower lip as she fought to find the right words. “I just thought I’d be… somewhere else right now.”
“Ah,” he said, softly, “we’re a pale second choice for Christmas.” He sounded… offended.
“No,” she said, hastily. “I didn’t mean that. I’m glad you’re here. All of you,” she amended when she realized what she had just said. “I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas.”
“Except that you can.”
Sam shook her head. She was sure if she could just reason with her brain she could say the right words or at least make sense of her own thoughts. “Not better. Just different. I thought I’d be hanging out with my dad and brother right now.”
The colonel nodded. “Yeah. Sorry about that.”
She sighed. “It’s okay. It happens. Just bad timing is all.”
A few moments passed as they both stood there lost in their own thoughts. Finally Sam screwed up the last of her alcohol fueled courage and faced the colonel. “I’m glad you came,” she told him, emphasizing the “you” so there was no mistaking that it wasn’t just a slip of the tongue this time.
His tired, weary look morphed into a sly grin. “Me, too. It didn’t seem much like Christmas without you around.”
Sam was taken aback by that statement, but she didn’t have time to mull it over. She felt a warm tickle spread over her body. The colonel was still smiling at her.
“What?” she asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“Nothing,” he said with a chuckle. He turned suddenly and began rummaging through the fridge looking for what, Sam had no idea.
“Sir?” she pressed.
He sighed before facing her again. “I was just thinking I should call your brother and thank him for canceling his plans with you.”
Sam rolled her eyes at him. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
He continued to smile. “I really am.”
“You’re never going to let me forget this, are you?”
His grin widened, his eyes shimmering with that childish mischief she found so appealing. Bad thoughts. Bad thoughts. Her internal warning system blared at her but she ignored it. He…the colonel…Jack looked so damn cute standing in her kitchen in his stocking feet, his t-shirt wrinkled, hair sticking up all over, and a distinct drool mark on his right thigh.
She couldn’t help but smile at the image he portrayed. Her commanding officer…feared by Airmen and Goa’uld alike wearing green and red striped socks and grinning like a fool. At her. It was wrong in so many ways but right for so many more. Without thinking she took a small step forward, invading his personal space. He didn’t move. Actually, if anything, she was sure he leaned towards her. Leaning was a good sign she told herself. At least she had heard that in a movie or something. It had been a while since she had been in any kind of situation where she’d even have to consider the meaning of a lean.
She thought too much. Even half-drunk. Old Spice and burnt cedar invaded her thoughts. He was so close now she could even smell the detergent he used to wash his clothes. It was different than the one they used on base for their uniforms. She took a deep breath before realizing it. He still didn’t move away and was that his hand on her hip? Oh, god, she thought. So wrong. But she couldn’t help herself. Her hand found it’s way to his chest and rested lightly against the soft fabric of his shirt.
He tried to hide the slight intake of breath but didn’t do a very good job. She could feel his heart pounding against his ribcage. It was beating almost as fast as hers. She could tell hers was faster by the way it thrummed in her head. Wrong. So, so, so wrong. Warning! Warning! God, he smelled so damn good. Her forehead was now brushing against his chin. She stared at his Adam’s apple as he swallowed slowly…deliberately. She felt his whole body tense and knew the moment was gone. She closed her eyes and waited for him to take that first step away, breaking contact.
“Carter,” he started to say, but his voice cracked. He swallowed again. “I should go.” He said it so quietly she almost missed it.
And just like that she was left with a feeling of cold washing over her. She forced herself to take a breath before following him.
“You don’t have to leave,” she told him as he struggled to put his shoes on while standing.
He glanced up at her as he bent over and tugged on the right shoe. She watched his tongue dart out and wet his lips. “Yeah, I do.”
Sam continued to watch him gather his things. His other shoe went on, his coat was pulled on slowly followed by his stocking cap. Then he patted down his pockets looking for his car keys. For a split second Sam was sure he wouldn’t find them and be forced to stay. Then he reached into one of the pockets of his coat and pulled them free with a disappointed half smile.
Outwardly she just gave him an equally sad smile of understanding. Internally a war waged between her alcohol addled mind that screamed to make him stay in any fathomable way, and the more sensible side to her that completely agreed with the colonel’s assessment of the situation.
He opened the door, a blast of wintry weather making its way into her foyer. He stood with his hand on the knob for a long while. Finally Sam joined him, hugging her arms around her body to keep from shivering. But the colonel didn’t move. He just stood there. She was about to ask what was wrong when he suddenly leaned forward.
She was so taken by surprise, she barely had time to react. His lips brushed against hers sending shock waves up and down her spine. Her body shuddered at the touch, but her mind seemed to shut down. Before she could comprehend what was going on he pulled away, that cocky grin spreading over his face again. His eyes glanced up above them.
Sam followed his view to find a small sprig of white berries hanging above the door by a little red ribbon. Mistletoe. Of course. She shook her head, trying not to let her smile be too obvious. “Cassie,” she mumbled.
“Cassie decorated the house.”
He leaned in close again causing Sam to gasp in surprise and anticipation. But he didn’t kiss her this time, much to her disappointment. “Remind me to thank her along with your brother.”
With that he turned to leave, his hand brushing against Sam’s as it settled on the doorknob to close up behind him. She watched him until his truck disappeared into the falling snow and sent up a little prayer to whatever gods may be watching, the Asgard even, to make sure he made it home all right.
* * *
Plates of half eaten scrambled eggs and french toast littered the coffee table in her living room. Sam had insisted it was Carter family tradition to eat Christmas breakfast in front of the TV. Daniel had agreed rather easily, Teal’c came along only a little more begrudgingly.
They were now sitting around the small table as Daniel passed out packages from his gift bag. Sam, in anticipation of being out of town, had given her gifts to Daniel. He had them in the bag as well. With Bing Crosby crooning Adeste Fideles in the background they tore into the cheerful wrapping paper.
Daniel got a collection of DVDs on Ancient Egypt from Teal’c, a sweater and new leather bound journal from Sam, and a signed copy of a book written by a guy who thought Dr. Daniel Jackson was a quack from the colonel. Daniel chuckled as he paged through it.
Teal’c thanked Sam for the book on meditation philosophies from around the world paired up with some candles the lady at the New Age store assured her would be soothing. Daniel bounced on the couch excitedly as Teal’c opened his gift: a complete illustrated encyclopedia of Star Wars. The book looked like it was intended for children, but Teal’c raised his eyebrow in appreciation. At least Sam thought it was appreciation. Sometimes it was hard to tell, but it didn’t really matter because it was Christmas, and Teal’c would do nothing less than appreciate a thought out gift from his friend. The colonel got him a membership to a local gym that offered sparring in several different martial arts and boxing.
Sam opened her gifts next. Daniel got her a book on helping mesh careers with personal lives. She gave him a look, but he just smiled brightly at her until she rolled her eyes and gave him a big hug. Then he pulled a small brown bag decorated with a glittery green and gold bow out of the larger bag. Sam peered in it, a bigger smile spreading across her face. She pulled out the warm, woolly hat and put it on, pulling it down over her ears. Daniel reached in and brought out a matching scarf that he wrapped around her neck.
“For when you go jogging,” he explained. She gave him another hug before opening her next package.
From Teal’c she received DVD copies of her three favorite movies to replace her old VHS ones, a coupon for a free pizza from her favorite pizzeria, and a promise to keep Daniel and the colonel from bugging her on her next day off. She practically launched herself out of her chair to hug the Jaffa. He gave her a little bow as she tucked the promise note into her pocket under the watchful, and now mistrustful, eye of Daniel.
She saved the colonel’s gift for last. He wrapped it in blue paper with foil like snowflakes, the card reading, “for when your plans change,” signed, “Jack”. She carefully removed the paper much to Daniel’s consternation. She smiled, her face starting to hurt from the movement.
“What’s that?” Daniel asked, craning to see the partially opened gift.
She turned it around to show him: A Dummy’s Guide to Fishing.
Daniel frowned. “Isn’t he supposed to get you a gift that you would like? He’s the one that likes to go fishing.”
Sam pressed her lips together, trying to keep the little giggle in that threatened to escape. She opened the book and read the inscription scrawled in the colonel’s scratchy handwriting on the first page: “the offer still stands, Carter… always.”
“I believe, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said, pulling the attention away from Sam, “that O’Neill has picked the perfect gift for Major Carter.”
“But-” Daniel started to say before catching himself. He made the shape of an “O” with his mouth then started smirking at Sam. She ignored him. This was turning out to be one of the best Christmases ever. Her dad may be on the other side of the galaxy doing who only knew what, and her brother was probably getting sloshed on spiced rum at 8am after dealing with his in-laws all night long, but she had the guys… her family right here. She looked from Teal’c to Daniel to the book clutched tenderly in her arms, the kiss earlier that day still very vivid in her mind.
After a moment she looked up again. “Merry Christmas,” she told them. “And I’ve never been happier in my life to have my plans change unexpectedly.”