TITLE: Keeping Watch AUTHOR: Matt, March 2006 SUMMARY: An early morning conversation off-world for Sam and Jack, circa season 2 RATING: PG DISCLAIMER: Characters are property of MGM et al.
THANKS: To Allie, as always NOTE: This is for the stargate1000 challenge, Light

They'd taken it in turns to keep watch, even though it was apparent the danger had passed. The world was dead, decimated by Goa'uld forces long before they'd gated to it. Since there was no longer an apparent threat, Colonel O'Neill had made the assessment that they could stay - just the one night, mind you - in order for Captain Carter and Doctor Jackson to carry out their biological and archaeological studies.

Daniel had taken the first shift; Jack had left him scribbling furiously in a notebook, but he wasn't concerned. The odds of the Goa'uld returning were slim to none. Jack had relieved Teal'c, who'd relieved the archaeologist, and now Jack was waiting for Carter to emerge from her tent to relieve him. She'd complained good-naturedly about the boys wanting her to make breakfast, but Jack had refused her offer. She'd smiled sarcastically and said goodnight.

The fire was beginning to die off, so Jack poked at it with a long stick he'd found earlier. Embers crackled and he was satisfied it would last until daybreak with careful tending. The night wasn't particularly cold, but firelight was preferable to no light.

He heard the slow slide of a tent zipper and smiled. Carter always tried to be quiet, even though her tent-mate slept like a log. Daniel still had to adjust to the military mindset of never letting down your guard - even in sleep - and Carter had never worked with a civilian in the field before. She crept out of the tent, worried each time she would disturb Daniel. And each time, he slept on.

"Morning, Carter," Jack said quietly as she took a seat next him.

"Sir."

He reached down to the pot beside him. "Coffee?"

"You brewed it already?"

Jack shrugged. "I was bored." He poured her a mug full of the hot drink.

"Thanks."

Now that Carter was awake, Jack knew he could return to his sleeping bag. There was no need for him to stay up any longer. However, there were also just a few hours remaining before he had to get up anyway. Plus, the day ahead would consist of nothing more than the ten klick walk back to the Stargate. He'd done more on less.

"Going to get more some more sleep, Sir?"

He looked at her steadily. "Think I need it, Captain?"

She looked down, and even in firelight he could tell she was blushing. While he was loathe to admit it, she looked cute when she did that. It reminded him that she was human and not the super-computer she was often seen as. And while he wasn't the idiot he often played, he liked the reminder that she was human. It put them on more of the same level.

Almost.

Jack was also painfully aware that his cute-when-blushing companion was under his command and a full three ranks beneath him. He wasn't allowed to think of her as anything other than a fellow officer in the United States Air Force and a person under his command.

"Well, Captain?" he enquired, forcing himself back to the half-conversation he'd been sharing with her.

"No, Sir," she mumbled.

"Glad to hear it," he said with a grin. "I'd hate to have to prove how much more little sleep I can go without than you."

"Sir?"

He chuckled at her confusion. "Yeah, I think I lost myself on that one as well."

He poured himself another mug of coffee and they sat in silence, staring at the flames. Occasionally, Jack would revitalize the fire with his stick. The first time he did it, the blaze crackled and Carter jumped slightly.

"Getting a little comfortable there, Carter?"

"Maybe." She stood up and grabbed her gun. "Think I'm going to take a walk around the perimeter, Sir."

"You do that."

Out of the fire's glow, Captain Carter merged like a shadow into the darkness. Jack watched her silhouette stroll casually around the edge of their camp, stopping occasionally to stretch or peer down at something invisible to him. He smiled as he observed her, taking silent delight in knowing no one knew he was watching her.

She returned to their log and put down the weapon. "Perimeter all clear, Sir," she reported.

"Good to hear it, Captain."

Jack longed to make conversation with the woman next to him, but his options were limited. He could talk of the mundane - sports, the food quality of the SGC commissary, or the weather - but somehow it just didn't feel right. But anything non-mundane was approaching the personal, and he couldn't do that either. Rather than clutter up his brain in thinking of what to do in this situation, he decided to simply enjoy the moment for what it was.

The sky was changing, gradually going from black to early morning gray. Sensing that the sun was due to come up, Jack opted to let the fire die down. He'd brewed a new batch of coffee, and the pot sat at the edge of the fire pit awaiting Daniel's appearance.

"Still want me to make breakfast, Sir?" Carter asked quietly.

He shook his head. "I've heard about your cooking skills, Carter. Cassie was sick last time she ate at your place."

"With all due respect, Sir, Cassie was sick from eating all that chocolate you'd given her earlier in the day."

Jack nodded in acknowledgement. Fact was, their young friend was a major weak spot for him. If she wanted chocolate, she got it. Sarah would have had a fit if it had been Charlie.

The skies were now blue and the sun was beginning rise . The new day had begun and it was time to wake Teal'c and Daniel.

But before Jack did so, he turned to his team-mate. "Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, Carter," he commented, and she nodded, smiling.

Hell, it was always a beautiful day when she smiled.

FINIS