There were times when Jack envied the technology she worked on.
Her expression turned intent, her eyes lit up, and she would set to reprogramming or recalibrating or resomethinging the doohickey and it was all he could do to lure her away for Jell-O in the commissary.
Nobody could doubt that she loved her work - not when she was on the base at all hours, humming to herself as she worked on a generator or tested a newly-acquired bit of technology.
Jack sometimes figured that if she touched a man the way she touched her doohickeys, the guy would have to marry her. Not that any sane man would be protesting. It might be an effort to drag her away from her work, but if she turned that kind of focus on a guy, he'd be crawling through broken glass to be worth it.
And Jack figured he should know.
The sound of gunshot peppered the air as Carter and Daniel kept the natives at bay. Jack swatted at the dark hand that hovered over the torn and bloodied shirt. "I'm fine."
"He has been tortured," Teal'c said, his voice hard.
Jack lifted his voice to be heard over the chatter of gunfire. "Walk in the park, Teal'c," he said briefly. "Can we just get out of here?"
"Daniel, you're point. Teal'c, if you'd assist the Colonel--"
"Carter, I'd ask who died and left you in charge, but the answer to that would be 'me' and I'm not dead yet!"
She barely turned her head as she watched the natives approach them - more warily now that several of their number were dead - but Jack saw the brief flash of her smile. Odd how such a small movement could convey so much: amusement, bitterness, and the faintest hint of something fiercely gleeful.
Daniel scrambled past them, giving Jack's injuries a narrow-eyed look before he began scouting the way forward. Teal'c ducked his head beneath Jack's arm, looping an arm around him in support.
Nearly five steps through the forest and the town exploded. Well, maybe not the whole town. But something in that general direction.
Teal'c had swung around at the sound of the explosion, and Jack caught sight of Daniel's expression - an 'oh' of astonishment.
"The grain bins?" Daniel asked, wide-eyed.
Carter regarded the column of smoke. "Maybe," she said, tucking the remote control detonator away with a cool calm. Catching sight of her team-mates' expressions, she explained, "It was only one. They'll still have enough to get them through the winter."
Unsurprisingly, nobody pursued them after that.
"It's good Jell-O," he said, studying the colourful cubes in the glass. Recovery was a slow and painful process, but the desserts could be worth it - especially when brought by one of his team. "Thanks for the rescue."
Carter's smile was brilliant as she glanced up from her pie. "All part of the service, sir."
Watching her eat, though, Jack couldn't help wondering if she'd have blown up a grain reserve for anyone else.
He couldn't have her, but he could have this.
For the moment, it was enough.
- fin -