Teal'c, Carter, Daniel and I arrived on P2X-003 a little more than 10 hours ago. It started out quiet and boring, and that's how I should have known. The bad ones always start out quiet and boring. In my imagination, it's so that the doom music foreshadowing what's to come can start playing.
I swear sometimes that there is someone writing my life, specifically, an omnipotent being that's sick and twisted and has got it in for Jack O'Neill. Someone who enjoys torturing me and I don't mean in the Ba'al kind of way. Someone who really likes bad clichés.
Example? Here I am a little more than 10 hours into this mission, and it's a good time to take stock of the situation.
Sudden ice storm on a planet that Daniel referred to as the Hawaii-wanna-be during the briefing? Check.
Separated from Teal'c and Daniel? Check.
So, that of course means…
Alone with Carter? Check.
Yep, and here's where it really starts to get good…
Mild hypothermia due to unexpected tumble into nearly frozen lake? Check.
It just so happens that the best way to beat hypothermia is sharing body heat with my gorgeous 2IC...
Did I mention the really really bad clichés part? Check.
The uncontrollable shaking stage has slowed to an end, and we're both feeling a little better. Now onto stage two, me not noticing the softness of her skin. I don't even register the weight of her body on my left side either. Nope, I'm a boy scout well on my way to earning my 'honesty' badge.
"I was thinking…"
She starts, "The MALP telemetry showed a high-pressure ridge and strong easterly winds that might explain how–"
"Can we not?"
There's a long pause. I can't see her eyes, nor the look on her face due to the fact that her head is resting on my chest and we're bundled in the mylar and wool blankets. All I can see if I glance down is wisps of blonde. But after all these years, I'll bet I can guess perfectly the expression she has right now.
"Right," she finally consents.
I have good reason for cutting her off; I don't want my secret to get out. The more she babbles with big, smart words, the more I... ahem… Let's just say, it could make my next briefing room encounter with her slightly uncomfortable.
There's an idea, think about the briefing room. Think Hammond. Baldness. Bald Eagle. DDT. Chemicals. Science. Carter. Damn it.
She shifts and I wonder if by some alien intervention she can suddenly read my thoughts and finds them disturbing, prompting the movement. Wouldn't that just complete this whole experience? She shifts again.
"No wiggling," I order.
She pauses. "I thought the rule was 'no giggling?'"
Marvelous. Please remind me that we've done this before. That's very helpful.
"It's a new rule," I say.
"OK." She stays still for a few moments. "Are all the rules going to rhyme?"
I roll my eyes. She's so damn good at the prim, proper, by-the-book façade that she has everyone else fooled. If I ever attempted to report insubordination, I'd be run out of town by Generals who thought I'd finally lost it. Only I seem to know adding "Sir" on the end doesn't change a fundamental truth– she's wicked. Well, sometimes anyway, when she's not busy with physicsey stuff.
"So what if they all rhyme?" I grouch at her. "Got a problem with Dr. Seuss?"
"No, Sir." There's a smile in her tone of voice. "Sam I am."
Self-inflicted mental head slap. "Of course." I walked right into that one.
"When I was a kid," Carter says, "I thought it was written just for me. I tried to get my mom to make me green eggs for breakfast."
"For my birthday."
Carter's hand moves and rests on my arm, just below my elbow. Her fingers are cold, I note, but not enough for me to grow concerned.
She continues, "I took one look at slimy green stuff on my plate and refused to eat it."
"I will not eat them on a plate," I supply the obvious reply. "I will not eat them going through the 'gate."
She snorts. Even her snort is cute. Damn, I have it bad.
"Something like that, Sir."
We lapse into another silence. It's going to be a while before we're late for checking in. I wonder briefly if Daniel and Teal'c are also sharing body heat right now up on that ridge together? I grimace at the picture that my mind creates. Why do I do that to myself?
When we packed for the mission we didn't bring cold weather gear other than a few blankets. Who've thought we would need it on a pleasant, 70+ degree, paradise-like planet? No, don't ask. I'm sure Carter will have a long, involved reason for why we might have predicted this. All I know is it's best if we don't trek around without the proper gear and instead, stay warm and wait for Hammond. Tactically, that's for the best. In all other ways, it defies good sense.
Carter takes a deep breath. It causes two very nice… oh, yeah… to brush up against me. Then she exhales slowly. I can feel her hot breath on my shoulder.
Sink your teeth in right there, Carter, I silently order her. Wiggle. Writhe. Spread your thighs.
Ah, God, what am I? Some kind of dirty Dr. Seuss? Jesus, pull it together, O'Neill.
She breathes in again and her chest hitches higher.
Did that just come out of my mouth? And was it as girly high-pitched as I think it was?
"What?" she asks.
I don't know. It was the first thing I could think of after 'Don't think about Carter's tits.'
"Ah," I stutter like a fool. "Did they ever solve that? Or is that still going on?"
I can't see it, but I just know that wrinkle between her eyebrows is getting deeper as she tries to figure out how exactly my head works. Or doesn't, as the case may be.
"DDT?" she asks.
"Yeah, wasn't it killing birds? Eagles?"
"Actually, it caused a change in calcium metabolism–"
"Carter." You're so gonna kill me one day when you find out what that does. In the meantime get to the point, fast. "Solved or not?"
"I think pretty well solved."
"Good. That's good."
Her brow wrinkling must be at an all time high (or deep) right about now. She says, "I guess for the Eagles it is."
"Hotel California, Lyin' Eyes, or Tequila Sunrise?" I know she'll follow my swing in conversation.
Oh, please. "Sometimes you're such a girl, Carter."
Crap. Good one, O'Neill. Remind her of that while she's naked next to you. Just when I think this is going to get even more awkward, trust Carter to break the tension and transition us to safer topics of conversation.
"I am," she says. "On the other hand, I was the only girl in all of base housing that owned an Erector Set."
"But you did play with dolls, right?" I seem to recall hearing this once before. Right around the time "arm wrestle" was mentioned.
"Yes," she confirms. "They flew the space ships that I made with the Erector Set."
"Of course they did."
"What about you?" she asks. "Did you have a favorite toy growing up?"
"Sir." She's not buying it.
"I'm older than dirt, Carter. Didn't you get the memo?"
"You're not old." Her admonishment is accompanied by a little slap on the arm under the blanket.
Hm, that was interesting.
"Assaulting a superior officer?" I get that tisk, tisk quality to my voice to help the overall effect. "I expected better of you."
"Sorry, Sir, won't happen again." But somehow her tone tells me there's a very good chance that it might.
See? Didn't I just mention the wickedness? Now I've got in my head that if I'm a bad boy she might spank me. I scrunch my eyes shut. Not good. Change subject quickly.
"So, Carter, how's… things…?" Asks the very suave guy that I am so not.
"Fine." She sounds amused with me. "You?"
"Oh, ya know. Thinking about a vacation to the Sahara."
She does her Carter-laugh. It's that twist her lips tight/ eyes go all amused/ little snort escapes thing that could hardly be called a laugh.
"Sir, before we did this, did you like to travel to other places on Earth?"
"Sure. Ireland and Scotland were nice."
She asks, "When did you go to Ireland and Scotland?"
"I was young. My dad took me, tried to straighten me out."
She seems a little stunned by this. "What did you do?" Why, I wonder? It's not like I've presented such a pious front to her or anyone at the SGC.
"You don't want to know, Carter." I take a breath, I don't like where this is going. Turing tables time. "You? Been many places?"
"Wherever Dad was stationed, which meant all over the US and for a while, Germany. I backpacked with some friends through Italy in the summer between high school and the Academy. Then of course, I was stationed in the Gulf."
"Yes, well, that last one doesn't count." I was stationed there too and it was anything but a vacation. Besides, I am trying to picture a blonde, super-brilliant, cute co-ed and it's immensely more interesting. "Go back to the trip to Italy. What was that like?"
"It was great." I know she's smiling even though I can't see it. "Four girls, young and carefree. It was the first time I got drunk. Sight-seeing meant looking at boys more often than statues and cathedrals."
"Yeah?" OK, I really did not need an image of a perky 21-year-old Carter getting drunk and laid for the first time. "Tell me that you didn't go too crazy. I mean you are, after all, a Carter."
"You sound like my father after I got home."
And thanks for thinking of me like a father. That helps my pathetic ego. "Sorry."
"I didn't mean it like that," she's quick to admonish. I must have sounded even more pathetic than I felt. "I just meant…"
She sighs deeply. That super-sized brain is whizzing like the autobahn. Something deep and profound is being processed.
"Yeah." She breathes softer now. "Yeah, it's just that I never let go, do I? Even in Europe, young, running around… all the other girls let their inhibitions go and did things they could never tell their fathers about once they got home. Me? The worst thing I did was to drink three glasses of punch the last night we were there. I slept like a log."
"What was in the punch?"
"No idea. But I stopped after three. I was conscientious even while getting drunk for the first time."
I should be understanding, and pat her on the back, and tell her it's OK. But I can't because it's just so damn… Carter. I snicker. But I did it quietly, I swear.
"Sir," she goes stiff and pulls back a few centimeters.
It's unconscious, sometime in the last 25 minutes, I've actually managed to do the impossible and forget about everything else. All I can think about now is soothing those hurt feelings.
She opened up. This is probably the deepest conversation we've had in at least six months, and I laughed at her.
"C'mere." I pull her closer, wrapping my arms tight around her lower back. I even dare to slide a leg over hers but I keep us far enough apart that nothing vital is touching. I'm more on my side now and can look her in the eyes. She's not thrilled with me.
"Sorry," I offer, though I know it's not nearly enough. Not even close.
She doesn't move, doesn't reply, but she relaxes the stiffness in her muscles. I take that as acceptance.
I'm not good with words. I can't explain to her why I found the story cute and the impression of her now in my head—gawky long limbs, bright eyes, behaving herself to a fault—adorable. I can't explain it to her for a lot of reasons other than the obvious one, the fact that her commanding officer can't be thinking about her in those terms.
But perhaps I can offer something in return to make up for my perpetual O'Neillness. I can open up a little too. Can't I? Not about the really bad stuff, but something similar. Something from my youth that's not stealing cars, cutting school, or smoking something. That doesn't leave a lot left to choose from.
"When I was in high school I got to know this Mustang Colonel. He was grumpy, irreverent, and–"
"Sounds familiar," she quips.
"A wonderful man," I finish.
"Continue," she requests. It signals that I've been granted full forgiveness for my earlier transgression.
"So, there I was being…well…me. And Colonel Pikkens pulled me aside. He didn't yell, didn't threaten, all the stuff that everyone else had tried and failed at. He said, 'Son, you look like you could use an aircraft around that reckless attitude of yours.'"
"Recklessness and flying are not a good combination."
I remind her, "It's a great combination when trying to get a Stargate-about-to-become-a-bomb through the upper atmosphere and into space."
"He got me to consider the Air Force, got me through school, though a war. He got me through everything. Quite a man."
"Gone now. Years ago, a heart attack took him in his sleep."
"Me too." I sigh. This has gotten a little too— something— for me. "Anyway, saved my life probably. Amazing how we never tell people that they, you know…"
I nod slightly and look away. The walls of the cavern we're sheltered in are suddenly incredibly interesting.
I finally glance back at Sam and her expression is unreadable.
"Carter, I…" Our warm breath mingles in the icy air.
"Sir." She's nervous.
If I do this, she won't resist. We both know it. Lack of good sense and having no ability to resist is so not Carter, and it makes her nervous.
"Yeah, I know." I pull back a fraction. I see the cost of that loss on her face.
We can forget about the nakedness. Well, sort of. For a while.
Instead, we can just talk about stuff, about the past, and accept each other with all the flaws and scars that come with. The trip to Italy she's ashamed of, but not for the reasons you'd think. The relief that I didn't become what I almost could have, if not for one mentor. It's scary.
It's scary because it means this isn't just lust. If it were, I'd never have moved past the wiggling part. I like the wiggling, but I like the rest too. And that's why this is… more than lust.
I put a hand to her cheek. It's chilled but not freezing. I guide her head to tuck under my chin.
We lay for a long while in silence. I realize that she's starting to get sleepy. Yep, good idea, maybe I'll join in.
I'm counting sheep— as they come through the 'gate one by one— and I've almost drifted off.
Her leg drifts a little and Holy Mother of Crap I'm suddenly in contact with— Hello! Wide awake now.
"Sir?" she asks dreamily. Can I reuse old material?
"Go to sleep, Carter."
And furthermore, why, oh, why does she always have to point it out?
'Sir, is that you being a horny bastard?'
'Why yes, Carter, it is. Thank you kindly for noticing.'
Why can't I be one of those men that requires little blue pills? And how pathetic, sick, and twisted is my life that I'm naked with a hot blonde and yet I'm wishing that I can't get it up anymore? I'm guessing that omnipotent being writing my life is to blame, the nefarious bastard.
She shifts, giving me a little more space and there's a smile in her voice. "That side arm really gets around, doesn't it?"
"Well…" Is she really going to forgive this again? Pretend it's no big deal? "Not as much as it would like to." If we're being entirely honest here.
Sleepy laughter bursts from her. Not the hold-it-back kind, but full on laughter. It makes me smile. As she takes a deep breath and calms herself, she squeezes me in a brief hug and then relaxes against me again.
She doesn't get all awkward and weird. So I stay put, take deep breaths, and try to think of other pesticides that have killed cute, small, furry animals.
The winds are dying down outside the cavern, and we were due to check in not that long ago so Hammond will send reinforcements soon.
"Only about another hour," I note.
"Yeah, we'll be fine," she says, drifting again toward sleep. "We always are."