Stargate SG-1 fic: Last Chance (8)
Several hours later the cards were a little more tattered, Jack was still as bored as before and there was still just as little to do. He finished pushing the last of the cards into their little box and flipping it shut when the lights flickered and went out. He sighed and waited for Carter to find her way back. He hated this. Hated sitting around doing nothing. Hated feeling helpless. Hated waiting to die. Having Carter with him did little to alleviate his regrets. The last thing he ever wanted was to watch her die, by his side or otherwise.
“I turned the heat down some more to conserve energy,” she said, appearing next to him in the dark. He could feel her more than see her. The pallet creaked as she sat down, her leg brushing against his. “It’s going to get cold again.”
Jack groaned. He hated being cold, too. The silence stretched on far too long for his liking. At least with the lights on they were able to entertain themselves with the cards. Now there was nothing to do but sit there. And talk. But talking had never been Jack’s strong suit.
“I think,” Carter said suddenly, her voice sounding horribly loud in the dark, “we’re going to have to take our chances outside. At least then we could maybe find some food-”
Jack cut her off. “Not a chance, Carter. Trust me, there’s nothing out there.”
“But, sir, we can’t stay in here.”
“Yes, we can. And we will.”
“Carter, I’ve been out there. There was nothing. And I mean nothing. No birds, no animals, a few barren trees. That’s it. It’s like this planet was already stripped of life. I don’t know if that was natural or thanks to the Goa’uld or our friends with the blasters but it is what it is.”
“No.” Jack was tired of this argument. “There is nothing out there and you’d freeze to death in minutes.”
Carter sighed with what sounded like resignation. “I just can’t stand sitting around here. It’s driving me crazy.” He felt her lie down across the pallet.
“I know what you mean.” Jack flopped back, their shoulders now rubbing together sending a warm tingle up his arm. He was thankful it was dark so she couldn’t see the flush he could feel spread across his face. It never ceased to amaze him how she could bring out the adolescent boy in him. He couldn’t remember ever feeling this unsure of himself around a woman. At least not since he was sixteen and asking Nancy Howser to the junior prom. He had learned a valuable lesson that day: even when you think the girl is in your league it doesn’t mean she thinks she is. Nancy had practically laughed in his face. She went to the prom with Louis Cowler, the lead in the school musical. Jack had sucked it up and gone stag, laughing at all the suckers being tugged around by their dates. Carter was so out of his league it wasn’t even funny. He sighed, more loudly than intended.
“What?” Carter asked. He could feel she had risen onto her elbow, turning to face him. Funny how he could “see” her even when he couldn’t.
Jack bit his lip for a moment. “Did you go to your junior prom?” he finally asked. He could imagine the befuddled look Carter was no doubt giving him right now. He smiled at the thought.
Jack rolled to his right and pushed himself up on his elbow to match her position. His eyes were beginning to adjust to the emergency bulb over the door. There was enough light to make out her face just a foot away. “Junior prom… did you go?”
She stared at him with wide eyes for a while, probably trying to decide if he was serious and actually wanted an answer or if he was losing his mind. Finally, she ducked her head. “No, I didn’t.”
She shrugged. “My mom had died so I wasn’t really in the prom kind of mood.”
“Did you go to yours?”
“Only to laugh at the horrible fashion victims. Whoever thought powder blue and ruffles was fashionable…”
Carter dissolved into a fit of giggles next to him. Jack chuckled and laid back down, tucking his arm under his head for a pillow.
“And I suppose you were so much more stylish,” she choked out after a moment.
Jack smiled in the dark. “I’ll have you know I’m a very snappy dresser.”
“Of course, sir,” she said, trying to control her laughter. She rolled onto her left side and buried her face against his side.
“I think the lack of food has gotten to you, Carter.”
She began choking in earnest then raised her head up, gently slapping her chest. She coughed a few times before saying, “I’m slap-happy,” with a giggle and little hiccup.
“Slap-happy. You know that giddy feeling you get when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. When any little thing just seems extremely hilarious.”
“You mean drunk,” Jack said with a grin. He couldn’t remember ever seeing Carter drunk, maybe a little tipsy but never impaired or giggly like this but he imagined she might have been this way when she was younger. It was a little endearing. Cute actually. He stopped his thoughts right there.
“I wouldn’t know,” she said and he could see even in the dim light that she was fighting to keep a straight face. Jack felt his own control slipping. The smile plastered there was beginning to hurt but he couldn’t wipe it away. Even the threat of dying didn’t take away from the sheer pleasure of being alone with Carter… in the dark and having her curled up next to him giggling like a school girl. At something he said. Too damn bad it had to end with them both freezing to death.
Suddenly his mind seemed to clear. All the reasons to keep from being this close, this relaxed with his 2IC just flittered away. He tried to grasp at them, to understand the rationalizations but they were gone. Replaced by a calm resolve that this was how things should be. Should have always been. Just him and Carter laughing and being happy together for no other reason than they liked each other’s company. Why had things been so complicated?
He realized Carter was up on her elbow again, staring down at him as she prattled on about something she found entirely too funny in her sleep-deprived brain. The lone light bulb glowed dully behind her giving her hair an orange tint. Her face was shadowed but he could hear her smile as she talked. He was amazed at that: being able to “hear” another person’s smile. She was so beautiful, he thought.
Without really thinking about it he pushed himself up, leaned over and pressed his mouth against hers. For a second she continued to talk as her mind caught up with his actions. Then she froze. He could taste the tears of laughter on her lips and feel her start to relax when he didn’t back away. His free hand, the one not broken, slowly made it’s way to her cheek. Her skin was soft and cold against his calloused fingers. She shivered and he felt a satisfied smugness that it probably wasn’t from the cold. Finally, just when Jack thought he might have misjudged the situation, he felt her relax into his kiss, her lips parting slightly.
It only lasted a moment before she was pulling away. Jack squeezed his eyes shut and waited for it.
“Sir,” she whispered, just inches from him, the palm of his hand still pressed against her face. He didn’t have to open his eyes to know she was chewing on her bottom lip. He could feel the muscles working under his hand. He fought back the sigh that was determined to escape.
“Carter, we’ve got two days tops before this tin can goes ice age. What difference does it make any more?”
She sucked in a deep, shuddering breath before backing further away from him. Obviously, the wrong thing to say. God, he felt like an ass.
“Carter-” he began again but she cut him off.
“I just…” her voice was low and full off all kinds of emotion, “I don’t want this to be about regrets. If it’s just a last chance scenario then…”
“Did it ever really mean anything?” he finished for her.
She looked up at him, the earlier giddiness replaced by an exhausted weariness that he felt only too keenly himself. He could see the confusion and fear and every other emotion running across her face as she tried to sort it all out. He reached his hand across the small space and slid his fingers across her cheek again.
“Do you really think that’s what this is about?”
“Isn’t it? If you thought for even one second there was a remote chance we would be rescued you wouldn’t…” She trailed off and looked away from him, pulling her cheek from his hand.
He wanted to tell her that wasn’t true but it sounded false even inside his own head. She was right but that’s not entirely why he was doing it. There was just a time for everything he tried to convince himself.
Jack closed his eyes, feeling another sigh of frustration bubbling up. “Carter,” he murmured.
“Can we just not do this right now? I’m really tired.” With that Carter pulled the blankets up over her, turning to face away from him.