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Slipped A Stitch

by Christi


His house was cold. It wasn't entirely surprising, but after almost a month away it left a stale, unwelcoming feeling as Jack opened his front door. He flicked on a light, then just as quickly turned it off as the harsh artificial light irritated his eyes that were still a bit oversensitive from the tail end effects of sarcophagus withdrawal.

Slipping off his shoes, he wandered a bit aimlessly down the hallway and into the kitchen. He pulled the door open to his refrigerator to find it freshly cleaned out and brightly staring back at him, filled with Guinness. You had to love a team that wouldn't let you come home to a mold-filled fridge after a hard month's work of being tortured.

Popping the top of a bottle, he wandered back into the family room, feeling a bit at a loss. It wasn't the first time he had come home from a mission feeling...whatever he was feeling. But it was the first time in a long while, and as it turned out, proper coping skills weren't anything like riding a bike.

Though, God, wouldn't it be so much easier if they were?

After staring at the darkened room for awhile, he finally moved to turn the stereo on, filling the room with music and an almost startling life. It helped a bit, jolting him out of the silent stupor and into movement. Still shaking a little from tiny tremors that he had managed to hide back at the base, his hands grabbed a pair of knitting needles along with the remnants of an old skein - a golden color he had once used to make Daniel socks.

Knitting was probably not what McKenzie had in mind when he told Jack to "go home and process this emotional trauma". But at least it was something to do.


"Hey Sam!"

Sam looked up from her experiment to see Jonas and Teal'c walk into the room. "Oh, hey guys. What's up?"

"We're going to visit Colonel O'Neill!" Jonas explained.

Her eyes skipped over to Teal'c, who nodded. "Sergeant Harriman has offered to transport us," he explained.

"Ah," she said by way of understanding.

"Do you want to come?" Jonas asked. "I bet he'd like to see all of us."

Somehow, she doubted it. "I would, but this experiment is sort of delicate. I can't really go anywhere just now."

"We could wait," Jonas offered.

"No, no, it's fine. You guys go ahead," she offered with a small smile. "Say hi for me."

"Are you certain?" Teal'c asked.

She couldn't quite look him in the eye, so she concentrated on her experiment instead. "Yeah, it's fine." Except nothing about this - what had happened to the colonel, the eager new team member who didn't know to leave the colonel alone, her desperate desire to see him - was fine.

Teal'c just nodded and began to escort Jonas out the door. "Hey Teal'c?" she added as an afterthought.

"Yes, Major Carter?"

She hesitated, then continued. "Try and convince Walter to stop and get some take out for him." She hadn't put that much food in his fridge when she cleaned it out, instead choosing to use it as beer storage.

"Oh! That's a good idea! What should we get him? Does he like Chinese? Because the Marines let me try some Chinese takeout a few months ago and it was really...." Jonas was still talking when they were finally out of earshot.


It took the guys three days to show up on his doorstep, which was longer than Jack had figured Teal'c would be able to hold back Jonas. At least when they invaded, they brought food.

"You do like Chinese, right?" Jonas asked anxiously.

"Oh, sure," Jack said with a shrug, a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of take out containers now littering his coffee table. "I'm just...not very hungry right now."

"There will be plenty food remaining," Teal'c assured him as he loaded up a plate.

"I would hope so," Jack retorted wryly, trying not to be irritated by the palpable cheeriness emanating off of Jonas.

"So, what have you been up to so far?" Jonas asked between bites.

Jack shrugged, "As Doc told me to take it easy, I actually have done a whole lot of nothing." He squirmed at the looks he received in response. "What about you guys?"

"Major Carter became a Goa'uld while you were gone," Jonas offered.

Jack blanched at Jonas' statement. "She what?!"

Teal'c cleared his throat as Jonas quickly added, "She didn't stay one. It was just an infant. And I got to stay in a hotel!"

Jack looked between Jonas and Teal'c, not sure what to say. He finally looked back to his knitting, briefly abandoned on the side of the couch and decided that it was a much safer option than speech. While he got situated with his needles and a bit of pink left over from the first hat he made Cassie, Jonas just kept talking.

"And Teal'c showed me this great movie," Jonas continued, seemingly oblivious. "You've seen Star Wars, right?"

Jack sighed. "Sure."

"It's great! I mean, who knew that...hey, what are you doing?"

"Knitting," Jack answered shortly.

"Oh. Oh!" Jonas exclaimed, causing Jack to look up at him with surprise. That had almost sounded like...recognition? "Right! So anyway, I thought the parallels between the Dark Side and the Goa'uld were really fascinating. Are we sure that George Lucas doesn't have clearance?"


"Knock, knock."

"Hey Janet."

"Hey. I heard you had been holed up in here the last few days, thought I'd come see what was going on."

"Nothing's going on," Sam defended. "I just have a really important-"

"Experiment," Janet finished with a knowing smile. "So you've been telling everyone."

"Right. My experiment."

"Sure. So anyway, Cassie has finally worn me down enough to shuttle her over to Colonel O'Neill's for a visit tonight. I don't suppose you want to take her instead?"

Of course she did. Which is exactly why she wouldn't. "I'd like to, Janet, but..."

"But the experiment. Of course," Janet allowed. "Sam, who do you think you're kidding?"

"Hopefully?" Sam asked a bit morosely, "Just myself."


Cassie, as per usual, barely bothered to knock before powering through the front door with a bang and launching herself onto the couch next to him. "Jack!"

When she was burrowed into his chest like this, it was so easy to pretend she was still a scrawny twelve year old kid. "Heya Cass."

"New rule, you don't get to freak me out like that!" Cassie squeezed him tightly.

"Well, I'll certainly try my best," Jack agreed, actually smiling a little.

"Try your best and then try harder," she instructed firmly. "Just so you know, I would have come sooner - to visit you in the Infirmary and everything - but Mom wouldn't let me."

Imagining what he had probably looked like in the throes of withdrawal - pale, shaking, and generally too sick to stand - Jack couldn't help but reflect that Janet was a wise woman. "That's all right."

"No it's not," Cassie insisted, finally pulling away a little, giving him enough room to get back to what he had been doing. The movement caught her eye and she sat back to take in the afghan. "Wow," she said finally, tone significantly more subdued than before.

He sent her a wry grin as he worked a thick yellow strand in a vaguely cabled pattern across one corner section. "Yeah."

" long have you been working on this?"

Jack tried to do the math....back at home for five days, twenty-four hours in a day, minus the occasional two or three for sleep and food... "Awhile," he finally settled on.

"Right..." Cassie drawled out slowly. "Listen, Jack...are you okay?"

"Sure," he said lightly as he knit. "Why wouldn't I be?"


"Carter," Sam said absently as she answered the phone.

"Sam, why haven't you been to see Jack yet?"

"Hello to you too, Cassie."

"Oh, don't give me that.'s been a week. You need to go see him."

"The Colonel is a grown man, Cassandra. I'm sure he's just fine."

"Well then you're wrong. What's more, you're a chicken."

Sam sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Cassie, he's just been through...well, a lot. The last thing he needs is everyone and their mother showing up on his doorstep to bother him day and night."

"Maybe," Cassie allowed. "But then, you're not just anyone."


It was a couple more days before there was another knock on the door, this one quieter than the others. He almost didn't hear it over the music and the click clack of his needles as he bound off a row of green. "Come in!" he hollered, too busy to bother with getting up.

At first, he thought that maybe whoever it was had just gone away, but then he saw her out of the corner of his eye, hovering on the step that led down into the family room. "Hey Carter," he greeted her.

"Hello, sir," she replied, not moving. In fact, she seemed to be staring at the afghan, a bit aghast. "What...are you doing?"

"What's it look like?" he asked as he finished binding off.

With a skeptical look on her face, she bent down and fingered the blanket carefully, playing with a bit of fringe hanging off of a bright red section. "Sir, this thing is bigger than your couch."

Jack blinked at the comparison, looking at the afghan with new eyes. Sprawling and stretching across the floor like some kind of strange fog, it covered everything in a mess of stitches and patches. It bunched up some places, but was stretched too thin in others, and was an overall haphazard and clashing mess. It was easily the ugliest thing he had ever made, which in his current frame of mind made complete sense.

Carefully, Carter picked her way across the blanket, the shocked look still completely plain on her face. "Where in the world did all this yarn come from?" she asked.

"Leftovers," he answered with a shrug. "The bits and pieces that weren't good for anything."

Understanding lit her eyes, and she looked at the blanket again, this time with what almost seemed to be wonder. "This bright orange...from when Teal'c was brainwashed?"

"Well, just because he was swearing to kill us all, didn't mean his feet should be cold," Jack felt the urge to point out.

"And the purple?"

"For Doc. When Cassie was sick."

Her hands wandered a bit further, lingering on bits of cabling and tracing patterns here and there until finally latching onto a triangle of electric blue - the leftover yarn from the very first pair of socks. "That's..." he started to volunteer.

"I know what this is," she said softly.

He was uncomfortable with the heavy and uncertain silence that fell between them. "I really should finish," he said gruffly. "I was just about to start a new section."

"Don't," she said immediately.

Feeling more than a little irked by her tone, Jack replied, "There's still...I mean, I need to...."

With a sigh, she sat next to him, gentle hands reaching forward to pluck the needles out of his hands. "You are finished."

At first, he felt like he should argue, because it was all a mess and maybe he could fix it with just one more section added right on the edge there by the brown leftover from an old hat. But as the palpable warmth of her body sitting next to his seeped into him, he realized that it was a relief to stop - to have the decision made by someone else. Someone he could trust.

He let out a long breath, slowly slumping into the couch and feeling for the first time like he wasn't waiting for the steps of Jaffa in his hallway, coming to take him away for one more round of immeasurable pain and horribly cold light. With his eyes closed, he could see the blanket for the first time in his mind, and it brought a small smile to his face. "It's really ugly, isn't it?"

"Yes," she replied, a trace of laughter hinting around the edge of her words. "But it's wonderful."

When he opened his eyes, hers were the first thing he saw, wide and worried and perfect. "Hi," he said again, this time softly.

"Hi," she replied, holding his gaze.

Without thinking about it, he found his head nestling on her shoulder, his fingers wrapping around her own. "Stay awhile?"

The way she squeezed his hand tightly and moved her head to rest against his was answer enough.

Um, so I have had this fic in my brain since karma_aster and I came up with Stitches and am insanely attached to it. So....if it sucks, don't tell me.

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