[Moments of Adoration]
For the samjack4evah cliche challenge. Cliche: Person-Auction for Fundraising. Many thanks to MV for the beta and the final punch.
Which led to a stifling high school gymnasium and Jack squirming on a metal folding chair, perched up on risers. Andy stood behind him, off a few feet to his left, pandering to an audience made up mostly of police officers wives and their friends, all eager participants in the El Paso County Sheriff's Department Tenth Annual He's-Your-Man-for-a-Day Charity Auction.
Taking Andy's place in the auction had sounded innocent enough when Andy threw it in the pot as his raise, not to mention Jack had been sitting on that damned straight flush. And even after he had the rug yanked out from under him on that, he figured at worst he was losing out on a weekend, one day at the auction, one day doing yardwork or playing baggage-handler at the mall.
This, though, this was like a meat-market.
"Now, ladies, you can't go wrong with this one." Feedback screeched as Andy flourished the microphone. "Come on Jack, stand up and give them a good look."
Jack stood, clasping his hands behind his back and angling so Andy would get a good look at what finger Jack was holding up. "Turn around, Jack," was all Andy said.
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Jack shuffled in a tight little circle. A warm flush crept across his face as the boisterous chatter of the crowd quieted into appreciative murmurs. The women closest to the stage crowded the edge, their voices distinct enough for Jack to make out their speculation of his "tools of the trade."
The warm flush now burned. Jack hunched into his jacket as Andy, still playing the showman, began to read from an index card. "Colonel Jack is in the Air Force. A flyboy in blue, happy to help you with any task."
One of the women at the edge of the stage, an attractive brunette with dark eyes and a feral smile, reached out and tugged at the cuff of his khakis. Jack bounced back, retreating to his chair. He pulled at the collar of his shirt, clearing his throat over and over as he plotted Andy's death in twenty-two very slow, very painful ways.
"Let's start the bidding at fifty dollars."
Paddles shot into the air across the room, shouted numbers overwhelming each other as the bids raced upwards. The brunette outbid every competitor.
"I have five hundred. Anyone else? Five hundred is the most generous amount we've had so far today. You should be proud, Jack."
"Yeah, I'm just speechless." Jack shot back. He glanced at the brunette, who gave him a little wave, her eyes alight with victory.
"Okay, folks. Five hundred going once, going twi-"
The brunette's head snapped around, her paddle crashing down against the edge of the stage. Jack responded a little slower, hoping to any and all deities that he hadn't heard who he'd just heard.
Standing just inside the doors, flanked by a smiling Kelownan and a Jaffa in a bright blue fedora, was Carter, in a long black coat and dark sunglasses.
"We have another bid!" Andy all but crowed, earning a pointed glare from the brunette, whose paddle shot into the air. "Six-fifty!"
Carter strode across the room, the crowd scrambling out of her way. She paused a few feet from the stage, Teal'c and Jonas settling in just behind her. Taking off the sunglasses, she hooked them over the collar of a close-fitting black shirt. When Jack pulled his gaze back up to her face, she was holding the brunette's challenging stare with a wide, bright Carter smile. "Seven hundred."
The brunette sucked in a breath and squared her shoulders. "Eight. Hundred."
Carter, who hadn't even looked at Jack yet, countered with, "Nine hundred." Her voice rang overly loud in the hush of expectation that had fallen over the room.
The brunette crossed her arms. "One thousand." A few gasps skittered around the room, and even Andy was wide-eyed, clutching the microphone against his chest until it squealed.
Carter flicked a glance at Teal'c, who responded with a single, slow nod. She pulled something from her back pocket. Taking the last few steps to the edge of the stage, she opened the wad of cash in her hand and began counting bills out onto the dusty riser. She placed them with exaggerated care, licking her thumb after each one and sending a little shiver down Jack's spine. "Fifteen hundred."
The brunette met Carter's unwavering gaze for only a moment before her shoulders slumped and her eyes lowered. The enemy was vanquished.
"Fifteen hundred going once, twice, sold!" The crowd erupted in shouts and cheers as Andy bellowed into the microphone. "Ma'am, come take possession of your man for a day."
But Jack beat her to it, launching out of the chair and off the edge of the stage before Carter had even taken a step. "Get me the hell out of here," he said, hurrying Carter down the aisle that had once again opened, Teal'c and Jonas falling in behind him.
Outside, he blinked against the bright sunlight before rounding on his team. "How in the hell..."
"I ran into Sheriff Graves at the supermarket," Carter said. "He apparently recognized me from that picture you have of all of us and Cassie. He told me."
Teal'c pulled his fedora low over his eyes. "When Major Carter related the story to us, we knew you would be in dire need of assistance."
"You told them?"
Carter shrugged, not looking nearly sheepish enough for Jack's liking. "It just slipped out."
"Uh huh." Behind Carter, Jonas was smiling wide enough that it had to hurt. "Let me guess, your first auction?"
"Oh, no. We do something like this on Kelowna. I paid my way through my primary degree that way."
Jack didn't really want to think about that. So he said, "Okay, Carter. What are you going to do with me?"
She hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her low-slung jeans. Jack caught a tiny hint of smooth, pale skin as the waistband of her jeans slid a little lower.
"You mean what are we going to do with you." His eyes snapped up to bright teeth as she grinned. "We all pitched in the money. You belong to SG-1 for the day, sir." She plucked her sunglasses from the collar of her shirt and slid them on, the dark lenses cutting off the mischievous sparkle in her eyes.
"So, Colonel." Jonas appeared beside him, bouncing on his toes. "Teal'c was telling me about this Earth sport you're very fond of. So I think we should go Jell-O wrestling."
Carter's long stride had already taken her halfway across the lot to where her Volvo was parked, coat swirling around her legs. He watched her walk, picturing that hint of skin and the way those jeans fit her hips.
Carter. Jell-O wrestling.
Maybe it hadn't been such a bad bet after all. He caught up with her as she was unlocking the car. "Well, since I do owe you guys, I guess Jell-O wrestling it is."
Carter held the passenger door open for him. "That's great, sir. I booked you and Jonas in a ring for this afternoon." She slid her sunglasses down her nose a bit, peering at him over the top of the rims. "I hope lime Jell-O is okay."
On the other side of the car, Jonas was still smiling, and Jack decided he was never playing poker again.