Title: Degrees of Separation
Author: nostalgia
Rating: PG for nothing whatsoever.
Disclaimer: Property is theft.
Summary: "There are some things you just don't write down."
Notes: Qwirk and Slashophile have read this. That's like them being betas, isn't it? This was me trying to write in the style of that type of J/D fic in which nothing happens but there's hands and windows and at the end you're sure you liked it, but you're like "wtf just happened?"
The worst part? The worst part is the weird yearning for domesticity that creeps up on him when he lets his guard down. The worst part is the urge to give up and try to be normal. There are probably other people who could do this stuff, save the world and tour the galaxy. Other people. Normal people.

He's not sure he can remember what normal was like.

All the light in the house is coming in from outside, which is good, because things are that little bit safer in daylight. And it's risky enough that if he ever makes the move he'll do it under cover of darkness. It's not like he hasn't seen her enough times to be able to fill in the blanks when there's no light falling on her. He mentally contstructs her from arcs and curves, removes a few blemishes because it shouldn't be that real. Fantasy is safe, reality is destructive.

Reality is the details of her hands and the way there's something obliquely pornographic about the way she's fiddling with her shoelaces. Though maybe that's because it suggests she's going to be undone, that she's about to remove them along with everything else. Which, to be honest, he's thought about a lot on dark nights. There was a period of about a month last year where he'd pretty much renamed his right hand "Carter" (never "Sam", he's not really a good enough person to deserve Sam, though he might get Carter, once or twice).

Their reality is different because it has to be. Their reality is the one where he's almost surprised to see her hands move because he's managed to forget that she has those.

But of course she has hands, it's just that he's spent so much time trying not to notice them.

Fingers and shoelaces and the little loops. He plays a constant game of six-degree of separation where Carter is concerned, to help him figure out what subjects are safe. Shoelaces lead to clothing lead to naked lead to sex. Shoelaces aren't on the safe list.

After six years there is very little left on that safe list.

Their entire relationship is based on the fact that they don't have a relationship and if they follow the rules will never have one. Stuff of daydreams, stuff of wet dreams. It's a forced stasis, caught forever in a fragile place somewhere between 'feel nothing' and 'do something'. So they feel plenty and do nothing. Some day one of them will tilt, ever-so-slightly, and everything will come crashing down around them.

Their conversations are lots of words about nothing. He understands velocity, and gravity and theories of flight, but it's just so much safer to feign ignorance of everything (under the Geneva Convention all you need to give them is your name, rank and serial number). So he'll nod and listen to small words about time, distance and speed, because those things are safe. Complexity kills.

If they have a theme here it's "dysfunctional", which despite popular opinion, is a word that Jack can spell. He writes it in the margins while she talks science in briefings, then scores it out again because his main survival skill is paranoia. There are some things you just don't write down.

The most dysfunctional relationships are the ones that pretend not to be relationships. The manifestations include people who lapse into silence in case they say something, and people who think shoelaces are too dangerous a topic to dwell on.