[Moments of Adoration]
Written for the Sam/Jack Carnivale of SQUEE!. Thanks to nanda.
Then the ruins had come into view and Daniel dragged her off before Jack got a chance to ask her what was up. And later, when he'd left Teal'c to keep on eye on Daniel translating "just one more stelae, Jack," and took Carter with him to set up camp, she'd been back to normal and Jack decided to let it go.
So when she suddenly said, "Sir? Do you think I'm perfect?" Jack was only able to mumble a surprised "Hmph?" around a too-hot mouthful of what pretended to be beef stroganoff.
"What?" Trying to discretely spit out a piece of gristle, Jack glanced up from his MRE; they'd gone ahead with dinner after Daniel had radioed and asked for "just thirty more minutes!" Carter sat across the campsite, staring into the fire. Sighing.
Carter sighing? And not because he'd said something stupid? Not a good sign. Discarding the remnants of his dinner and restraining the urge to pick at his teeth, Jack parked himself next to her on the log they'd dragged in for seating. "What the hell are you talking about, Carter?"
"It... never mind." She worried a twig between her fingers, breaking it into neat, precise pieces before tossing them one by one into the fire.
Bad sign number two: Carter fidgeting. "Carter..."
Brushing the bits of bark from her fingers, she immediately picked up another twig. "When we were trying to figure out how to bring the Gates back online, Felger... he just expected me to be able to fix everything."
"Well, that's kind of how things work, Carter. Someone breaks something, you fix it, everyone lives sort of happily ever after. The end."
The twig snapped with a loud "pop" as she twisted it. "He told me I was 'perfect.'"
Jack blinked. Sheesh. Only Carter would be self-conscious about that. "Wait. You're worried about something Felger said?"
"He isn't the only one, though, is he?" Carter scattered the last of the twig pieces into the flames with a sharp turn of her wrist. "I mean, every day it's 'Sam, fix this' or 'Sam, fix that,' or 'Major Carter, save the world in the next thirty seconds or we're all going to die.' I'm not a machine, damn it."
Oh, good God, was she pouting? Must not laugh, because it was Carter, and she did take the expectations everyone dumped on her pretty seriously. Too seriously, if you asked him, but since he did most of the expecting, he didn't have much room to criticize her. Biting the inside of his cheek, he managed to contain himself. "Carter, you're hardly perfect."
"I'm not?" She perked up.
Jack almost rolled his eyes. And people wondered why he played dumb most of the time. "Of course not. For starters, what is up with the hair?" He flicked at the ends of her hair with his fingertips. "It's short, it's long, it's short, it's really short, it's fluffy, it's not fluffy..." Grinning at her sudden wide-eyed affront, he added the coup de grace. "You're such a girl sometimes."
Her eyes narrowed. "I'm surprised you notice."
They were comfortable together these days, in a way they hadn't been in years, and he liked that. A lot. But sometimes that made it very, very hard to remember when discretion was the better part of not getting his ass kicked. Jack settled for a bigger grin and a relatively innocuous, "I notice." Then added, "Not to mention the way you eat."
"The way I what?"
He pointed to her abandoned dinner. "You section everything off like your own little nutrition pyramid in three dimensions. It's lunch, Carter, not a technical diagram."
As she picked up her fork and none-too-casually rearranged the contents of the camp plate onto which she'd emptied the MRE pouches, he leaned closer and stage-whispered, "And you snore."
Her expression? Priceless.
"I do not!"
The sudden tromp and rustle of footsteps had them both on their feet and taking defensive positions, weapons in hand, but it was Daniel who burst out of the heavy brush around their campsite a moment later, Tea'lc right behind him.
Daniel took one look at the lingering outrage on Carter's face and the gun in her hand and said, "Jack, what did you do?"
"Funny ha ha, Daniel." Jack slung his P-90 over his shoulder. "I was proving to Carter that she's not perfect."
"Oh." Daniel brushed past Jack and flopped down next to Carter, who'd holstered her sidearm and settled back onto the log. "You mentioned the snoring, right?"
As if on cue, Teal'c sat down on her other side and said, "And her habit of delaying us after missions so that she may partake of her shower first is quite dishonorable."
"I hate all of you," Carter said with a bright smile, and that, Jack decided, was good enough.