Stargate SG-1 fic: Last Chance (4)
The gold-clad wall was cool, the etchings digging painfully into his forehead but he refused to move or decrease the pressure. It was a good two minutes before he heard Carter sigh, the wood under her creaking as she moved. He hoped she was finally following his orders. The squeak of her boots on the decking told him no such luck. Like it would be that easy.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw her hand reach for him but stop just before contact. She pulled it back deciding to clear her throat to get his attention. Part of Jack felt a sudden pang of disappointment, a small groan escaping his lips.
“Sir, I know you’re angry with me,” she said softly, sending another wave of remorse through Jack, “but I’m really tired and really cold and we both know we won’t make it through the night without each other.” She paused as if waiting for her words to sink in before uttering, “please come to bed.”
Jack was sure her words somehow sucked all the air from the room. He tried to take a breath but the action caught in his throat and he felt himself fighting the urge to laugh. Any other time he would have skipped with glee to hear her say those words. Maybe not skip but something akin to skipping. Instead, he pushed the thought and the laugh as far down as he could. She probably already thought he was going insane, no need to confirm it.
“Sir?” Her hand finally landed softly on his arm, her voice barely above a whisper. A slight warmth spread from the point of contact: a pleasant, if unwelcome, tickle following in its wake. He briefly wondered if Carter felt the same sensation when he touched her. Something else to squash down with the laughter and the skipping.
Jack sighed in defeat. “Yeah, let’s get some sleep.”
Satisfied, Carter backed away, the tickly sensation leaving with her. He followed her back to the make-shift bed she created from pieces of the useless wood crate. After the crash, Jack had scavenged anything useful to keep them alive. The trip was only supposed to take two days. They had a change of clothes each and light thermal blankets for comfort more than warmth. Jack had found an oil-spattered moving blanket used by the Geek Squad to protect some items that hadn’t survived reentry.
Carter now had the moving blanket folded on the pallet for cushioning, the two Air Force issue blankets scrunched to one side and her pack at one end as a pillow. She sat down and flipped on her flashlight. Jack guarded his eyes with his good hand and was about to ask what she was doing when she pulled the first aid kit onto her lap.
She looked up at him expectantly, daring him to refuse her. He stared her down for a moment before sighing and dropping next to her. That little voice in the back of his head mumbled something about being whipped, Jack mentally whacked it with a hockey stick he kept around for just that purpose.
“What happened?” she asked, gingerly holding his hand by the wrist and turning it over.
“I hurt it.”
She glanced up at him with that look that said she wasn’t in the mood for his crap. He rolled his eyes. Knowing each other that well was a real benefit in the field during battle but could be really bothersome at other times. Jack looked away, choosing to keep his eyes steady on the darkness around them.
“I had a disagreement with the wall,” he said lightly.
Carter made a clicking sound with her tongue, one he associated with his grandma when he had done something to break one of her precious angel statues… or nearly break his own neck. Carter made no other comment. Jack was sure there was something on the tip of her tongue just itching to get out but she was too nice and too caught up in decorum. Rules and regulations, that’s what Carter was all about.
She carefully extended each finger; Jack gritting his teeth each time, determined not to make a sound.
“It’d be a lot easier if you let me know where and how much it hurts.”
“I told you it’s fine.”
“Really?” she asked, glaring at him.
“Yeah, really.” Jack tried to pull his hand back but her grip tightened. Without warning, her eyes still trained on his face and gleaming with frustration and quite a bit of anger, she squeezed the three fingers in her hand. Sharp pain shot up his arm. “OWE! What the hell, Carter?”
“You want to amend your story?”
Jack’s eyes grew big as he bit back another yelp of pain, her grip tightening slightly in her bid to win the argument. They were both quiet for a long time, his hand still held tightly in her lap.
Finally, after what felt like minutes, Carter swallowed loudly. “I’m sorry.” Her voice was soft, tinged with all sorts of emotions Jack wasn’t ready to deal with. When she made to move away Jack stopped her with his other hand without thinking. She stared down at it resting on her forearm.
“We’re both tired,” he told her, trying to ignore the sadness in his own voice, “let’s call it a truce and get some sleep. You can call my bluff all you want in the morning.”
Carter let out a soft, choked laugh. Jack could just make out her face in the dim light and none of the humor reached her eyes. She sat quietly, considering his words. Finally, she nodded ever so slightly but didn’t let go of his hand. Jack pulled his other from her arm and scratched at the stubble on his face.
“Does it hurt?” Jack wondered when she had ever sounded so small before. She absently rubbed circles on the back of his hand with her thumbs sending a shiver down his spine, waking all sorts of areas of his brain and body… things that should stay asleep.
He swallowed hard, suddenly feeling too warm and too confined. “Only when I think about it,” he managed to croak, clearing his throat for added effect.
She looked up at him with sad, tired eyes. “I think it’s broken.”
“You’re probably right.” She usually was.
“Will you let me wrap it?”
“Will that get you off my case?”
Her fingers stilled and Jack instantly regretted the biting remark. He’d pay for that one, he knew.
Instead of the snarky response he expected, she let out a nearly inaudible sigh, her head bowed. “Why do you do that?”
“Act like you deserve the pain?”
Jack closed his eyes, concentrating on the feeling of her soft fingers against his rough skin. “Maybe because I do deserve it.” Jack opened his eyes when she didn’t comment right away. She was staring at her fingers wrapped protectively around his injured hand. There was no anger in her expression, just sadness. “I’m sorry,” he told her, “for earlier.”
She shrugged, putting an end to the conversation and his belated apology. Before he could say anything else she was ripping open packs of bandages and wrapping his hand from second knuckles halfway up his forearm. When she was satisfied with the work she secured the end with tape.
“Feels better,” Jack told her, part of him thinking that if felt even better with her holding his hand. Not that he could ever tell her that. “We should get some sleep.”
She nodded and tossed the first aid kit to the floor in a very un-Carter like fashion before curling up on the pallet. Jack took a deep breath, steadying his suddenly erratic breathing and pounding heart. Slowly he swung his legs up and positioned himself next to his 2IC. It wasn’t as easy with both arms bandaged in some fashion, the pain still radiating up both and into his neck and back. He groaned as he tried to get comfortable. When he tucked his right arm under her neck she froze. He considered moving it but then she surprised them both by rolling over and laying her head in the crook of his shoulder, her arm stretching over his chest. His breath caught in his chest but Carter didn’t seem to notice or she gracefully ignored it.
With his free hand, he pulled the covers up over them and wrapped his arms around her, trying to keep them both warm.