In The Dark
by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer – MGM/Gekko/Double secret own them.
Spoilers for ‘Abyss’ and ‘Prometheus’. A ‘Prometheus’ episode addition. Set between the penultimate scene and the last scene.
For Laura and Anna. I’m gonna miss you guys!
This was either a spectacularly stupid, nuts and insane idea...or a really good one. Jack hadn’t quite made up his mind yet.
While Teal’c and Jonas ensured the bad guys were tied and locked up, he and Carter were going to check out the damage she’d caused.
Not that she’d invited him to come along. Nope, she’d simply said “I should repair the blah blah blah and get the blah blah-bitty blah back online.”
Or something to that effect.
Jack had simply shrugged, nodded, and replied “Sure. I’ll go with you.”
She hadn’t even given him one of her ‘you’re being over-protective’ looks, agreeing that it was probably a smart idea to make sure that no one was left on their own for any significant length of time.
Jack had liked that excuse. Plus, she’d called him smart, which was always nice to hear – whether it was true or not.
So at this particular moment in time she was opening a hatch that would get them into the access tunnels. Watching her work, he couldn’t help but wonder why these things were always built just low enough to cause the most amount of damage to your knees in the least amount of time.
Although, he pondered as he glanced at the body parts in question, that complaint didn’t really apply to him anymore. Ever since Ba’al and his unique form of sarcophagus therapy, his knees had been in excellent condition.
Now was *not* the time to think about him.
No, for once it was actually a much better idea to think about Carter, who’d opened the hatch but wasn’t moving anywhere yet.
What was going on? Why wasn’t she...?
Someone was going to have to stare at somebody else’s butt.
“Tell you what,” He declared, not actually knowing if that was what she was thinking about, but deciding not to take the risk anyway. “As this will be my first time in the...uh...access tubes?” She nodded, and he continued. “I think it’s only fair that I get to go first. You can give me directions from behind.” Geez, why did he have to use *that* word?
Nonetheless, she smiled and waved a hand towards the hatch. “If you insist, sir. After you.”
Trying to decide if she was looking too damn pleased with herself or if he was just getting paranoid in his old age, he lowered his body down and crawled inside.
It wasn’t what he’d call a picturesque view. Lots of grey and some lighting. Whoopee. Still, Carter’s voice showing him the way and the occasional sound of the edge of her boots clanging against the floor – just knowing she was *there* – was consolation enough.
Some five minutes of crawling and climbing later, they were there.
“Just a few feet ahead,” She instructed, so Jack kept going until he couldn’t hear her moving anymore.
Satisfied that they’d reached their destination, he did a 180-degree turn in the confined space, still on his hands and knees. Carter had shifted too, sitting facing the ‘wall’ to his right side, hands already pulling at an access panel.
When it was plucked free and discarded, he could see without a doubt that this was where she’d wrought her destruction.
“Woah, nice job,” Jack told her proudly, studying the charred mess of wires and electrical components. “But you can fix it, right?” It was a rhetorical question. Carter could fix mostly anything.
“Sure,” She replied, still focusing on the labyrinth-like structure of wires. “It’ll take a little while, but I can bypass and get the sublight engines back online. It’ll only be a temporary solution – they’re not going to be very reliable until we get the proper replacements when we get home, but this’ll do for now.”
Smiling to himself, he kept watching as she continued fiddling. He liked the way she thought – *when* they got home, as opposed to *if*. Unfortunately as more time passed with little conversation, his mind couldn’t help itself: it started thinking about the ifs.
If Carter couldn’t figure out a way to calculate their position...
If she couldn’t plot a course home...
If they were trapped out here forever, as horrible a thought as that was...
No, he had to stop right now. Here he was, scant inches away from her and with no room to manoeuvre, and his thoughts were becoming increasingly unprofessional. Hell, it wasn’t like they hadn’t been unprofessional on occasion before, but not usually so soon after a particularly close brush with death on her part, or in such close quarters.
But hey – how often *were* they in such close quarters?
Stop thinking. Start talking. “These access tunnels...”
“Jeffries Tubes,” She interrupted, still focusing on the panel.
A grin formed briefly. “Never mind.”
Fair enough. “They’re uh, kinda cramped, aren’t they?”
“Don’t tell me you’re getting claustrophobic,” She teased – *teased* – as something in the panel clicked into place.
“Nah,” He argued, finding the conversation something of a relief and focusing his attention on her hands. “I wouldn’t say that this is my favourite place in the entire world...uh, galaxy,” That grin again, aimed towards some kind of circuit. “But it’s not a problem. Just...slightly uncomfortable. And warm.”
“Well,” She replied, grunting as she tugged at something he couldn’t see. “This ship wasn’t exactly built for comfort. Just to fly. And two people in a confined space so close...” Her hands stilled, as if she had just realised something. “...to...” Her head turned, her gaze sliding towards him. “...each other...”
Suddenly he was having the unprofessional thoughts again. Her face was so close, her eyes were so wide, she smelt so good...and stupidly, stupidly, the first words that sprung into his mind sprung *out* of his mind via his mouth: “Body heat.”
It seemed to spur her into action and the realisation that they had to stop doing that. She yanked her head away, hands moving frantically inside the access panel.
And then the lights went out.
Somewhat relieved that at least he didn’t have to torture himself by staring at her neck anymore, Jack asked the question. “Was that-?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” She insisted, sighing. “My hand slipped.”
Jack blinked; trying to adjust to the darkness, only to realise there was nothing to adjust to. There was absolutely no light coming in from anywhere. These things really were sealed up tight. “Emergency lighting?”
“Not ready yet.”
Of course not.
Okay, now he was willing to admit that this was officially a bad idea. He couldn’t see her, but that meant the rest of his senses were focusing on her even more; particularly the heat emanating from her skin...
God, he just had to stop it. It wasn’t like he was some teenager with a hormone problem. No, apparently he was a forty five year old with a hormone problem. “Can you fix it?”
“Not without some kind of light source.”
Good. Something to focus on. “Well, I recommend we crawl out of here, find that light source and bring it back.”
Her voice carried through the blackness. “Sounds like a plan.”
“Uh...let’s go your way. It’ll probably be easier.”
Taking her word for it he got back up on his hands and knees, and turned to face the way he’d been facing when he’d first crawled inside. Gingerly feeling ahead, he began moving.
“Be careful,” She warned. “This passageway is going to end in about ten feet, and it’ll go straight into a drop.”
Joy. “Thanks for the heads up.” His crawling slowed considerably, but even so within a few seconds his fingertips felt the edge of passageway. “Okay, I’m here. What now?”
“On the opposite wall there’s a ladder. You need to climb down it.”
A ladder? “You mean...across the ‘drop’?”
Even better. “Oh-kay.” Sighing, he shifted until his legs were hanging over the edge. Blindly reaching an arm forward, he began to search for the ladder. Locating a rung he held onto it securely, the second arm joining the first, and soon he was carefully lifting his entire body onto the ladder. Thank God. This was pretty hairy stuff in the dark. “All right. I’m there.”
A sigh echoed through the access tube. And then a hand was touching his head.
She must have been mimicking his earlier position – sitting on the edge, and reaching for the ladder.
“Don’t worry. Here,” Making sure he was holding on securely with his right hand and that his feet were carefully balanced, his left hand reached up to wrap around her wrist. Slowly moving it towards the ladder, he guided her hand until it wrapped around the rung he was holding onto. Once sure it was secure, he let go. “Give me a minute to get out of the way.”
Taking his time, he climbed down slowly, one rung at the time. When he was sure he wasn’t obstructing any of the rungs she’d need to use, he tipped his head back to look up at her – which was pointless.
He did it anyway.
“Okay. Go for it.”
All he had to go on were sounds. The noise she made when she breathed, a few thumps, a few clangs, and then a vibration as the ladder took on new weight.
Finally, her voice. “I’m here.”
He closed his eyes. “Do I go all the way to the bottom?”
“And it won’t take me to a deck that hasn’t been pressurised yet?”
“No. That ladder’s in a different area of the ship.”
“Good. Okay. I’m moving.” And he was. Methodically, slowly, not taking any chances. He didn’t know how long they were climbing down for, but the ladder felt like it was going on for eternity. Man, was there an end to this thing-?
Oh! Not another rung. This felt like actual floor. Not risking it entirely, he held firmly onto the ladder as one foot, then the other tested what was beneath. Yeah. Definitely floor. Pleased that was over and done with, he stepped away. “I’m at the bottom.” She couldn’t have been that far above him.
He stared up in her general direction, still seeing nothing but the blackness. “Carter!”
“I’m okay, I just-”
Squeaking. The sound of something rubbery or plastic slipping on something metal. “Colonel!”
Shit, shit, Carter was falling, Carter had slipped, he knew Carter was falling, and she couldn’t see anything to hang on to and there was nothing he could do but try to break her fall – even though he couldn’t see a thing.
It didn’t take long.
As it turned out he was in roughly the right place to catch her, though some part of her body impacted painfully on his shoulder. That, and the fact that he suddenly had all this extra weight to contend with, ensured that they crumpled to the floor.
He’d barely hit the metal when he was moving again, searching for injuries. “Are you all right?” God, what if she’d hit her head, or her neck? Limbs he could deal with but-
“I’m fine,” She groaned, sounding more than a little embarrassed. “A few bruises, but frankly I think I got lucky.”
She wasn’t the only one. If she had...
...he was back in the truck, receiving the message that the ship had been hijacked while she was on board...
...he was back at the command post, listening to Major Davis tell him that when the ship took off, they’d have only until the time it took to reach orbit before she was toast...
...he could hear his own voice, spitting out the words: “She’s running out of time.”
...and then he was looking up at the X-303, watching it climb up. Towards orbit.
It was the entire reason he’d insisted on coming with her to the access tube, wasn’t it?
One of them was shifting, trying to get free of the tangled arms and limbs. The other one moved forward, uncaring of the lack of comfort or – just for those moments – who they were supposed to be.
Arms encircled, pulling them closer, heads buried against shoulders, fingers digging into skin.
Jack was surprised, but he wasn’t complaining. “You gotta stop getting almost killed,” He murmured into her neck.
A light chuckle whispered across his ear. “It’s not exactly fun for me, either.”
He knew they had to move, but he wasn’t letting go easily. “Where do we go from here?”
He hadn’t meant that the way it sounded. He really hadn’t.
Thankfully – or maybe not – she understood that. “There should be a door somewhere behind you.”
“Good, good,” He was still holding on, still telling himself she was there...wait. Door. As in a *door* door? “Wait a minute,” He was going to pull away, but decided against it. “This entrance has a door? Yet you made us crawl through that little hatch?” This time he had absolutely no doubt. He couldn’t believe he was about to say this, but as she’d initiated the hug and she’d been staring at his butt, he felt it was only fair. “Checking me out, were you?”
“Sir! I would *never*-”
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