The Art of the Draw

"Curling?" Sam looked up at him from the comfortable nest of pillows and blankets she'd arranged on the sofa. "We're actually in the same time zone for the first time in weeks, and you want to watch curling?"

"Yes." Jack set the two steaming mugs on the coffee table and picked up the remote. "Because you," he waved the remote in her general direction, "are supposed to be taking it easy and not traipsing all over Home Depot with a sprained knee like you'd planned. And what's wrong with curling?"

"It's boring," she answered, gingerly lifting said sprained knee so Jack could slide back into his spot under her legs. Being confined to the couch was making her grouchy. "It's endless. All they do is stand out in the cold and throw stones. It would be more exciting to watch paint dry." She squinted at him. "Which, by the way, is why I need you to drive me to the hardware store. I need to pick up paint for the bathroom, since I'm off."

"Ah." Jack held up a finger. "Not a chance. You are off work because you are injured, not because your bathroom needs redecorating." He straightened the afghan over her bare legs, and with one hand, passed her one of the mugs of coffee, while the other slipped under the blanket and along her ankle. "And for the record, curling is not endless. There are only ten of them. Unless there's a tie, of course."

Sam looked at him, thoroughly confused. "Ten what?" Maybe she'd just slipped into an alternate dimension, because somehow she'd missed the turnoff this conversation had taken while she'd been enjoying the journey his hand had been taking.

"Ends," Jack answered smugly, apparently unaware of what his hands were doing to her brain. "Curling can't be endless because they play ten ends."

She would have kicked him for the terrible pun, were it not for the splint she was wearing making it near impossible to bend her knee.

"I thought you said you came to cheer me up, not torture me." She cradled her mug and scowled at him through the wisps of steam. "I can't believe you and Daniel actually bet on this game."

"Daniel understands the value in studying competitive tactics." Jack wrapped a hand around her foot and dug his thumbs into the sole. "This is not cheering you up?"

Sam had to struggle to keep her eyes from rolling back when he hit that sweet spot along her arch. In the pain management department, a Jack O'Neill foot rub definitely beat the pants off the extra-strength Tylenol she'd been sent home with.

The mug was taken from her hands, and she realized he was still talking to her. "Huh?" she answered, cracking open one eye.

He stopped rubbing her foot. "You told me you were bored with movies, and you've seen everything on Discovery already. I thought you might enjoy a distraction, maybe something with a little more depth."

"Dragging a broom across the ice is not depth," she argued. She wiggled her bare toes at him, hoping he'd catch the hint and get back to the foot-rubbing.

Jack was not deterred, however. "Curling is a game of skill and strategy. It's got a long and colorful history." He pushed the play button on the remote. "A game of sportsmanship and honor, if you will."

"Maybe you should be watching it with Teal'c, then." Sam squinted at him and purposefully ignored the television.

She knew she was being short and ungrateful, but she'd been cooped up in the house for nearly two days now, not even able to drive herself to the store because she had the audacity to enjoy owning a car with a stick-shift.

Jack sighed dramatically and threw the remote on the coffee table, where it disappeared amongst the detritus of coffee mugs and old juice glasses, crumpled chip bags, and the empty Froot Loops box.

"Carter." He looked at her in a way that made her sure he was at his wit's end, or maybe as though she was acting like an uncooperative toddler in need of a hug and a time out. "You like chess, right?"

"Yes," she said slowly, not quite sure where this was leading. She noticed his hand was back on her foot again, and she was momentarily distracted by the rough pad of his finger sweeping along her ankle bone. Was this his way of disarming her? Distracting her with the equivalent of sensory candy? "But chess is a game of tactics. You need to know your opponent and plan several moves at a time. Not throw a rock down the ice and yell at it." She nodded at the TV, where a man dressed in what looked like a leisure suit was doing just that.

"Okay, then, Genius." Jack's hand crept up behind her good knee, his touch light enough to make her nerves hum. "If the sport is that simple, then tell me how you would go about getting the red rock to the button and keeping it there so you can win the end," he said, pointing to a spot on the center of the bull's-eye on the strip of ice currently displayed on the television screen.

She figured she might as well humor him. She didn't have anything better to do right now, nowhere that she could go that wasn't beyond the reach of her crutches, and Jack could be persistent when he was trying to make a point.

She pulled herself up a little straighter and tried to ignore Jack's hand - the one that was currently taking a lazy meander around her knee, down her shin, and off to the tip of her big toe. And he was expecting her to think strategy while he was doing that?

Sam watched while the second, then a third and a fourth rock were thrown, wincing at the effort the two men chasing each stone were apparently putting into cleaning the ice ahead of the rock speeding towards the far end of the ice.


People played this for fun?

"Well," she said as the rock-thrower for the red team lined up his shot. "I suppose if you could put the right amount of spin on the stone, you could calculate the correct angle needed to bank the shot off the yellow rock, and with the right amount of force, and using the action of the brooms to temporarily melt the ice to reduce drag, you could roll right it in right behind the other two red ones."

She turned and stopped herself short of sticking her tongue out at him in a display of playground supremacy. "It's not that difficult, really, just a basic understanding of classical mechanics with an emphasis on friction."

"Uh huh," Jack said as he slowly dragged his thumb the length of her leg while he watched her out of the corner of his eye. "I've never known you to have a problem with a little bit of friction."

Sam felt her stomach flip-flop, and suddenly the room felt a whole lot warmer. She realized that curling wasn't the only game of strategy being played here, but she wasn't quite ready to concede the match just yet.

"I thought you hated physics." She stretched her good leg across his lap and flexed her toes, letting the afghan fall to the floor. She was starting to feel relaxed for the first time since her injury and thus, slightly emboldened. "Why would you want to spend an afternoon sitting in front of the TV, studying it?"

Jack turned to her, all pretense of watching the match abandoned. "Studying it," he pulled her leg up and dropped a kiss on her knee, "does not interest me as much as," another kiss just above her kneecap, "the more practical side of the theories."

"Really?" she challenged, feeling victory slip away. "For example?"

He leaned over her, mindful of her injured knee, and drew her other leg around him. "For example," he slipped his hand along her thigh and under the hem of her shorts, "I'm interested in experimenting with the application of human mechanics, with an emphasis on friction."

"Mmm." She rolled her head back so his lips could find their way to the hollow behind her ear. "I think I can help you design an experiment."

"So," his breath tickled her neck. "Watching curling with me isn't so bad, is it?"

Sam finally laughed and rolled her eyes. "Let's just call it a draw."