A/N: BecauseI suspect there are a lot of us who hide our obsession. I save and answer all reviews left with respondable links. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read and review.
Not necessarily fluffy, but . . . well, like the show, it could be. Just a little something that popped into my head as I raced home to watch the Olympics. Part 2 (and that's all there is) will be posted tomorrow.
Jack popped his head into Daniel's lab and glanced around. As he'd expected, the younger man was deeply absorbed in his work. A tiny, almost evil smile on his face, Jack inched slowly forward. "Daniel," he said softly, knowing that he'd get no response to the first try.
If he knew anything about his team's two scientists, he knew that they had an uncanny knack for blocking out mundane levels of sound in order to focus on whatever it was that held their attention at that moment. After a moment he tried again.
Still nothing. Jack glanced at his watch and shook his head. Nope, no time for this. "DANIEL!" Wisely, he jumped back as he shouted, and was glad he'd done so.
Daniel's head shot up at the shout and his hand, which had been idly caressing the side of a most likely cold cup of coffee, twitched violently and sent the brown liquid flying.
"Jack!" Daniel retrieved his glasses and began frantically mopping up the spill. "Honestly, can't you enter a room like a normal guy?"
"I did enter the room like a 'normal guy,'" O'Neill emphasized the term with tiny air quotes. "Can't help it if you didn't hear me the first two times I called your name." Taking pity on the frustrated archaeologist, Jack pulled some paper towels from the dispenser and began helping. "What is this –no," he held up a hand. "Never mind." He cocked his eye at the trash can in the corner and with a dramatic swing lopped the sopping towels into the bin. When they went in he grinned and muttered, "Yes! It's O'Neill from mid-court, nuthin' but net!"
"Jack," Daniel sighed. "Was there a reason you came down here?"
"Yup." He rocked back on his heels, hands now in his pockets.
Daniel peered at him. "You gonna tell me?"
"Sure," Jack shrugged. "Seen Carter?"
"Dunno. She's been . . . odd . . . the last few days. Bolts out of here at the end of her duty day, on the dot. She never does that."
Daniel was quiet for a moment, obviously considering Jack's words. "You don't think she's, ah . . ." He paused, carefully eyeing Jack before he continued. "Ah . . . well, I mean. You know. Got a . . ."
"Date?" Jack shook his head. "No. I asked Cassie."
"Hm." Daniel shrugged. "I really don't know, Jack." He turned back to his tablets, clearly not interested any longer.
"C'mon, Daniel, don't you want to know?"
"Not really, Jack." He looked up and grinned, his blue eyes sparkling with suppressed humor. "But, since you do, why not stop by her house to, oh, I don't know . . . ask?"
For the first time, Jack regretted approaching Daniel. He knew the man was teasing him, knew he was poking him just a bit. Get a little drunk one night and tell a teammate you think a certain other teammate is attractive, and the guy thinks he knows everything. Jack clapped his hands together sharply, getting some rather childish satisfaction in Daniel's startled jump.
"Okay!" He gave Daniel a little wave. "I'm off then. G'night, Space Monkey." He eyes the tablets spread over the table again. "Have . . . fun."
Striding quickly from Daniel's office Jack turned and headed for the locker room. "Fine," he muttered. "'Stop by' the man says. 'Just ask her' he says. Well . . . no reason why I can't. Why two co-workers, friends even, can't just . . . stop by to . . . chat."
Jack stood on the stoop and watched the flickering blue light dance across the curtains. He knew that light. Similar to the blue one that took them to planets hundreds of thousands of light years a few times a week, this blue light could transport you . . . anywhere. This blue light, however, was the last think he expected to see at Carter's. Television? She'd raced home to . . . watch television? Realizing he probably looked rather suspicious lurking on her porch in the gathering gloom of night, Jack stepped closer to the door and rang the bell.
A muffled shout coming from inside cut off abruptly at the sound of the chimes, followed by a somewhat breathless, "Just a second!"
Jack frowned. Even from out here Carter sounded winded. He glanced again up and down the street but didn't see any cars parked obviously in front of her place. Apart from his, of course. Still . . . maybe she did have a guy in there and he'd . . . oh God. What if . . . Jack slowly began backing away from the door. He didn't think he could handle if –"
Unable to help himself, his eyes traveled over her. Bright white socks poked out from a pair of faded sweats. Her shirt had obviously been tucked in at one point but now . . . and her face was flushed. The worst of it for him was her hair. Those golden –and silken, he was positive–strands, backlit by the warm light spilling out of the doorway, were in disarray.
Positively . . . mussed.
Jack began backing quickly off of the porch. "I . . . ah. Sorry. Bad time. Should have called." With each apology he moved a step further away.
Carter snapped out a hand and grabbed his arm before he could fall awkwardly off of the stairs. "Sir. Sir!" She stepped forward, her hand still holding his arm. "What's going on, Colonel?" She glanced past him, and Jack wondered what –or whom–she was looking for. "Are you okay? Daniel? Teal'c?"
Shaking his head, he gently pulled her hand from his sleeve. "No. We're all good. I'm . . . I'm really sorry to interrupt your evening, Carter. I–"
Sam glanced over her shoulder almost guiltily, then quickly back at O'Neill. "No. It's . . ." She sighed. "It's okay, Sir." She turned and stepped back into the doorway. After another somewhat resigned glance toward the living room she turned to him. "Come on in, Colonel."
Oh no. No way. Nuh uh. He was so not going in to meet some . . . guy . . . of Carter's. Or some girl. Hmmm. Wait. Jack cocked his head slightly. Hadn't considered – Oh for . . . get your head out of your ass, O'Neill. Whoever was inside, he didn't want to meet him. Her. Them.
"Sir?" Carter's voice was softer now and she stepped back into his space, her blue eyes luminous in the light. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Never mind, Carter, it can wait." He again moved to leave and again she stopped him, her eyes still holding his.
"No." With another not-so-gentle tug she pulled him inside.
She had his coat off and was propelling him toward the living room before he could register her actions. He steeled himself and took a deep breath, prepared to be . . . civil . . . to whomever was . . .
"Sir?" She waved him to a seat as she followed him into the room, a cold beer in her hand.
Jack took it from her rather absently his eyes still scanning the room. Maybe he . . . she . . . they had gone to the bathroom? Stalling he turned his attention to the television and froze. What the hell?
Biting back a resigned sigh, Carter settled back into a corner of the couch, tucking her legs up under her and reaching for her own beer. "Yes, Colonel O'Neill?" She answered him, her attention only partially on him.
"You're watching . . . hockey!"
"Yes, Sir." A tiny smile played across her lips.
"But . . . but . . ." Jack spluttered, utterly outraged. She'd always seemed so . . . disinterested . . . when he and Teal'c talked hockey. He was under the impression that she, like Daniel, couldn't tell a Canuck from a Leaf, let alone know who the Wild were. He stared across at her in disbelief, then glanced again at the television.
Maybe the . . . guest . . . liked hockey. Yeah. That had to be it.
Jack took a long swallow of his beer, then stood. "Well. Great seeing you, Carter, but, ah . . ."
"Colonel." Carter looked up at him, her compelling gaze holding him in place. "There's nobody else here, you know."
"I don't know what you–"
"So . . ." She waved to the empty space beside her and shrugged. "It's the Olympics. I never miss 'em."
Jack watched as she picked up the remote and began rewinding the video at something approaching warp speed. When she glanced up at him again, he shrugged, kicked off his shoes, and joined her on the couch.
"How come we didn't know you . . ." He waved his bottle at the television. "I mean, c'mon, Carter. How often have we talked Stanley Cup?"
She stopped the recorder and turned to him, her expression solemn. "This isn't hockey, Colonel, this is the Olympics." Her tone told him clearly that he should understand the difference.
Jack turned again to the television. "Ice, check. Sticks, check. Two . . . wait, are those women? Cool. Okay, two teams, check. Nets, check." He shook his head and faced her, a slight smirk on his lips. "Ya know, Carter, this looks a helluva lot like hockey to me."
Carter sighed and then carefully set her beer aside. She just as carefully placed the remote on the arm of the couch and turned to him. Jack's eyes flicked once down to where her t-shirt pulled rather appealingly across her breasts and just as quickly met her gaze again. The intensity of her stare was somewhat disconcerting and he fought the urge to set his own beer aside and raise his hands defensively.
"Colonel O'Neill. Are you going to talk or are you going to watch?"
Gulping slightly, Jack studied her. This woman wasn't messing around. This stuff, this Olympic stuff was deadly serious. And she wanted him to stay and watch with her.
He nodded and gave her a little smile before turning back toward the television. If, while doing so, he managed to inch a tiny bit closer to her . . . well, it was a small couch. "Watch, Carter. Definitely watch."
Her affirmation was spoken so softly that Jack wasn't certain he heard it. When he glanced at her, however, she'd retrieved her beer and, after hitting 'play' on the recorder, and was wriggling down more comfortably in her seat. And if her arm brushed his, well . . .