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by Ryuu

Post-Out of Mind/Into the Fire

“Just give me a few minutes and try to start it when I tell you, okay sir?” came his second’s muffled voice as she leaned over the innards of his truck. Jack nodded mutely, trying very hard not to…admire parts of her that her current position made very visible.


Jack jerked a bit. “Right. Just tell me when.”

Well, you couldn’t really blame him, right? Jack O’Neill had always had a certain…fondness for mechanically-inclined women. When he met Sara, things had been congenial enough at the start, but then he’d come over one day to find her covered in grease and sweat while she worked on a friend’s old Chevy like a mechanic born and realized that, not only was she the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, but that he was suddenly, ridiculously, and deeply in love. It was all he could do to keep from proposing to her on the spot.

“Sir?” He looked up to find Carter eyeing him quizzically. “You can start it up now.”

“Right. “ He coughed. “I’ll, just, uh…go and…do that.”

Something that might have been a rapidly-suppressed smile crossed her face but vanished entirely too quickly for any possible identification. “That would be a good plan, sir.”

Yep. He resolved never to play cards with her. The woman had a poker face to die for. Jack fumbled for his keys and climbed into the cab. After a few false starts, the truck roared into life and then abruptly let out a mighty sputter and went completely silent.

“…dammit!” There was a muffled thud as Sam hit the underside of the hood and leaned back over the engine, muttering under her breath. Jack grinned to himself, remembering Sara doing exactly the same thing. He raised an eyebrow as some of the louder muttering reached him faintly, wondering if Sara had known some of those words.

He supposed that he could be excused for a couple of less-than-professional thoughts about her right now, given that he was a bit tired from being frozen, getting snaked, being frozen again, getting unsnaked, blown up, shot, and whatever else the universe had wanted to throw at him this week.

Well, for “tired,” one could probably substitute “about to fall over in the next ten seconds and only staying upright through sheer force of will,” and his less-than-regulation thoughts about Carter became even more understandable.

The hood slammed down, startling him out of his reverie, and he looked up to find Sam wiping grease off her hands with a rag she’d appropriated from the toolbox in the back of his truck. “Sorry, sir. I think you’re going to have to call a tow-truck for this.”

“I actually need an earthly mechanic when I have you right here?” Jack managed a grin. “I’m shocked, Carter.”

“If it was made out of naquadah, I might be able to MacGyver you something, sir.” The corners of her mouth twitched. “But I’m afraid you’re going to need a computer to diagnose this any further.” She stepped around to the driver’s side door. “Want a ride home?”

“You sure? I live a little out of your way, don’t I?”

“Not really.” She smiled. “You’ve had a tough day, sir. Let me give you a ride.”

Normally, Jack liked to think that he would have the good sense to say no, because he was exhausted and Carter had a smear of engine grease on her cheek. But...well...he was exhausted and Carter had a smear of engine grease on her cheek. The combination was worse than kryptonite. So he shrugged as he climbed out of the cab of his truck. "If you insist. Thanks."

She gave him another of those bright, heart-stopping smiles of hers. “Wanna stop for a bite on the way?”

“I think I’d fall asleep before I could eat it,” Jack admitted, following her over to her car.

“Good thing I’m driving then.” She unlocked the passenger door, letting him in, and walked around to the driver’s side. “Just relax, sir. I’ll get you home.”

"You always do," he muttered as he climbed in, practically falling into the seat.

She gave him a long, indecipherable look, before settling in and sliding the key in the ignition. “No one gets left behind, sir,” she finally commented, starting the car.

He smiled tiredly at her, then leaned back and closed his eyes. “Got that right, Carter.”

With his eyes shut, his mind inevitably drifted toward recent events - the cold of those fake SGC rooms, the pain of the snake burrowing into his neck and mostly, the relief of waking up to Carter, alive and warm and just...there. These last days had thrown him for a loop, highlighting certain key facts that he really could have quite happily continued ignorant of. Not the least of these, he reflected, was the sudden and inescapable awareness that Carter, on top of being annoyingly brilliant and loyal and funny, was disturbingly...well, hot.

Sure, he had noticed it before. He was a man and he wasn't blind, so of course he had noticed. But it wasn't until this last mission, with her lying on a table in nothing but a sheet, that he had really been aware of it. Suddenly, there had been a perfect back and pale skin and blue eyes relieved to see him.

And later, while he was clinging to her, desperately cold and confused and fiercely glad to wake up as himself, she was just so purely Carter as she held him tightly. All of the warmth and courage he associated with his second surrounded him, making him feel safe for the first time all day and he realized he was starting to care about her more than was possibly wise.

Part of him missed her warmth and wished it wasn’t a court martial-able offense to ask her to hold him again. He frowned slightly and snuggled more into the seat, wishing he’d worn a thicker jacket.


He blinked, turning to look at her. “Carter?”

“Are you okay, sir?”

“I…” Jack swallowed. “I’m just…cold.”

She got a look of sudden comprehension on her face and touched his hand briefly. Sudden warmth flared through him, blazing all the way down to his toes.

“Carter-“ he began, before trailing off, not knowing what he wanted to say.

She reached over and turned up the heat.

“Relax, sir,” she repeated softly. “I’ll get you home.”

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