by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them. I don't.
Feedback would be very much appreciated. I probably won't be able to access my computer until tomorrow morning now, so I'm posting this from elsewhere. I started work on this a few days ago and was hoping to post it on New Year's Eve. Alas, Real Life dictated it wasn't meant to be.
For Christine - Happy Birthday!
Well, *this* sucked.
It probably shouldn't have bothered him - it wasn't as if he ever made a big deal out of it. More often than not he ended up on his own, grasping a beer, and watching TV until the ball dropped.
But even he, Jack O'Neill, didn't want to break in the New Year on another planet away from such creature comforts as beer, nuts, and television sets.
Yet that was where he was.
Officially, the mission had gone well. There were huge resources of naquadah that would prove to be to their (Carter's) benefit, all kinds of interesting things in the remnants of a town that had them all (Jonas) excited, and an encounter with an alien life form that was not unlike the domestic pets found on Chulak had left them (Teal'c) almost smiling for hours.
But all that 'excitement' and all those discoveries had caused the mission to overrun by at least a day. Hammond, at least, had already contacted them and knew they were going to be late back and Jack - acknowledging the fact that they wouldn't reach the gate until well into the night - thought it best to set up camp. Flailing about in the dark in unknown territory wasn't exactly his favourite past time.
"All right campers, let's set up for the night."
Dammit, why did that 'town' have to be so far from the 'gate?
Carter didn't seem particularly surprised at the order, though it was clear she understood that he was annoyed. Hell, she'd probably had plans too, though he had no idea what they might be. It was rare all of SG-1 spent New Years Eve together.
They'd never really done the holiday thing. Occasionally they'd meet up for a drink at Christmas or something, but that was usually as far as it went.
He wasn't sure why.
Dusk was firmly setting in by the time camp was finished. They didn't need a fire - it was a warm, pleasant planet even at nighttime, completely at odds with what the temperature would be back at Colorado Springs right now.
God help him, he almost missed it.
'Dinner' was spent mostly in silence; no doubt his mood was affecting the rest of the team.
"Do you realise that in...seven and a half minutes, it will be 2003?"
Sighing, Jack tried to bury his nose into his MRE. Wasn't hard - it was thick enough. "Ya know, we can all tell the time, Jonas."
"Sorry," Jonas offered. He was finally beginning to realise that his constant enthusiasm got on Jack's nerves something. "And I know this is where none of us expected to be as a new year arrived, but aren't you just *slightly* excited?" Or maybe he wasn't beginning to realise.
"I'd be a lot more 'excited' if I was at home watching television."
Jack almost felt...guilty?...when the smile on Jonas' face faltered.
"That's all you do?"
"Most of the time," He nodded, undecided if he could be bothered to finish his meal or not. Hunger or MRE's? Hmm... "You seem disappointed."
"Well it's just...I did a little reading on your New Year's celebrations; and most of your other holidays, too. Figured that if I was going to live here I should know what's supposed to happen."
"Ah," Jack gave up, placing his small tin on the grass-covered ground. "And what's supposed to happen?"
"From what I can tell...parties, dancing, a general celebration of life and the coming of a new year. And for some reason everyone seems to kiss..."
"That's part of the celebration thing," Carter offered, finally speaking up from over her food, sitting to Jack's right. "I don't know if it has any historical significance; people are just...happy, that there's another year coming. Or maybe that they made it through the last one." She smiled, briefly, before glancing towards him...and then glancing away.
Yeah. Making it through another year alive. He really should be celebrating that...
"Is this the same as the kissing under the mistletoe thing?"
Carter's head shot up, eyes *huge*. Jack suddenly decided this was a worthwhile conversation, his mood infinitely improving. "Yeah Carter; is it the same as the kissing under the mistletoe thing?" He was probably as shocked as she was that he said it, but hey - it *was* the New Year. Almost.
The surprised expression transformed into a glare. Or at least, a half-hearted attempt at one. "Actually Jonas, I believe that does have some historical significance although I couldn't tell you what it is. If you really want to know, I suggest you do some more reading on the subject when we get back."
"I will, thanks," He nodded, grinning. Always grinning.
Ugh. The truth of the matter was that Jack almost...*almost*...liked the guy. It was just that on certain days or when he was in a particular mood, he found Jonas hard to deal with. He didn't want that much chirpiness (was that a word?) or blind hopeful wishing for the best. He'd discovered a long, painful time ago that it didn't get you anywhere. Especially in this line of work.
Sure, SG-1 had been luckier than most and though they did have some skill, Jack wasn't so dumb that he didn't realise that most of it simply came down to luck. Not some big wish that everything would be okay; everything was or wasn't okay. Wishing for things to work out had nothing to do with them actually working out.
"I have always found it fascinating," Teal'c announced suddenly, surprising everyone.
Jonas got there first. "Found...what, fascinating?"
"I have travelled to many worlds and seen many places, Jonas Quinn, but it never fails to fascinate me that although night has only just arrived here, it has been dark on Earth for several hours already."
Jack blinked more than once, before flicking his gaze towards Carter. They had a few light sources set up that provided the area with a light glow, and he could easily see her face. He was already expecting her to say something about this planet's rotation being different to Earth's; maybe something about it having longer days and shorter nights, but instead...
She nodded. "I know what you mean."
Wait a minute; just wait a darn minute. A Jaffa who'd lived for something like a hundred years, and a genius who specialised in astrophysics, were both still fascinated by *night* falling?
They really had to get out more.
"I thought it was just me!" Jonas exclaimed. "You know, what with being the 'new guy', I thought I was the only one who found it..." He looked towards Jack. "...cool."
There were some phrases that aliens were just *never* supposed to pick up. Even if it had been from him.
And why in the hell had Teal'c brought this up in the first place?
"What of you, O'Neill?"
Three pairs of eyes studied him through the darkness.
"Oh, I..." Man, why did he feel like he was about to *disappoint* them? "It's, uh, great. I suppose. The sun sets at home and it's still up here? I mean...wow." He wasn't being sarcastic.
He was just trying to tell them what they wanted to hear without lying completely.
Three pairs of eyes blinked at him through the darkness.
Teal'c stood, intent on verifying their immediate area was secure, not seeming in the least bit annoyed when Jonas volunteered his services to help him out. Teal'c had never needed that kind of help in his life, but he agreed happily. Frankly, Jack suspected he liked having his own little prodigy around. Yeah, Jonas was a scientist first and foremost, but he was a fast learner at everything and unbelievably eager to learn.
Soon it was just him and Carter, sitting around a non-existent fire. It felt as if there should have been one, despite the mild temperature.
"Do you really find none of it amazing?" She eventually asked, when she was sure they couldn't be overheard.
Jack suspected Teal'c would keep Jonas occupied for a while, anyway. "I didn't say that," He argued, finding it hard to look at her. "I mean you know I dig astronomy, but even so...I don't find the different times of setting suns on different planets particularly..." Here came Teal'c's word, "...fascinating." He'd intended to end it there, when she smiled just slightly at his Teal'c impression.
But he didn't.
"I find my wonder in other things."
He didn't know why or how the words had emerged. It didn't even really sound like the normal words he'd use. Really...wonder? When was the last time he'd used that?
Carter didn't seem fazed; merely intrigued, tipping her head towards him slightly. "Like what?"
Suddenly he realised why there should have been fire; it would have been reflecting across her face. "Oh, you know...some of the stuff we see, for a start. I mean I know I'm big on cynicism and sarcasm," There. *That* grin would have looked even more terrific by firelight. "But occasionally some of it affects even me. I get one of those 'wow' moments."
"Never would have guessed," She teased.
"I hide it well, I admit," He nodded. "And there's the washbasin thing." He couldn't believe he was telling her this.
"The washbasin thing?"
Ooo, look at that MRE tin. "Yeah; only happens when I'm using a washbasin."
"*What* only happens when you're using a washbasin?" She was definitely sounding frustrated.
Well, it wasn't as if he could back out now, was it? "*Sometimes*," He felt compelled to emphasis that. "Sometimes, I'm aware of how...tall, I am." Now he really wasn't looking at her. "I'll just be standing there brushing my teeth or something, and suddenly it hits me: wow. I'm tall."
This would be a good time for the ground to swallow him whole. Couldn't he arrange these things by appointment? Tuesday, 23:58: meeting with bowels of an alien planet.
Surely they could squeeze him in.
She wasn't teasing him, making fun of him, or looking at him as if he were nuts.
She was just asking.
And if she could do that... "There is one more thing, but you wouldn't want to me to talk about it."
Her eyebrows lifted. "How do you know that?"
"Because I know *you*. Trust me. You'll hate it."
"Is it something...disgusting?"
"Something you're worried will lessen my belief in you?"
Aww, but, "No."
"Then tell me. I promise, I won't be offended."
Oh come on, she *had* to know. "You sure?"
"Really, really sur-?"
"All right!" Clearing his throat, he wondered how the hell he'd talked himself into a corner, once again staring at the MRE tin. "Well...you see...there's this woman."
The surprise was almost palpable. "*Woman*? Uh, I mean woman?"
Jack nodded. "And, uh," Oh, what the hell? In the spirit of the New Year. "Basically she's amazing. Not just her job - and don't get me wrong, she's *fantastic* at her job - but she can instantly read my mood and with word or one *look* she can either improve it or make it worse, she's totally capable of kicking my butt which I *love*, and...and sometimes she has this expression that's like nothing else I've ever seen, and when she does *any* of that all I can think is..."
He still wasn't looking at her. "She's my wonder."
Her voice was rough. "Have I...met her?"
"Kind of." He tried to fake a shrug but couldn't manage it. "She's five nineish, short blonde hair...works a lot. In fact, too much. It's not like she's perfect you know. How boring would that be?"
"Pretty boring, I guess."
Sighing, he muttered internally at the nervousness manifesting itself in his stomach. "Told ya you'd hate it," He murmured. She hated compliments. Always had done.
And then...something was touching his right hand.
Her left hand.
Her left hand was touching his right hand.
"We missed it," She whispered, as he could look at nothing but the way their hands joined together; where flesh met flesh.
"It's two minutes past midnight."
Oh. He shrugged, still staring at their hands. "There are worse ways to bring in a new year."
"You know something?" She sighed.
He loved that she sighed. He loved that she rested her head against his shoulder. She hadn't done that since the place he tried not to think about, but always failed. "I know a few things," He replied. "But it's probably not what you're about to tell me."
Laughter. He hadn't mentioned her laughter.
But hell, if he started doing that, the list would go on forever.
She continued speaking. "Sometimes...you say *exactly* the right thing, at *exactly* the right time. When it's completely unexpected, when I don't see it coming...when for once, you stop hiding...that's my wonder. Anything else is just imitating that feeling."
Her hand tightened on his - or maybe it was the other way around.
And he should have been pulling away, not pulling her closer. He should have been standing up, not tugging his cap off. There was no way in hell he should have been pressing his lips against hers, muttering a name he hadn't used in years, and not even bothering to jerk away when a loud snap of wood indicated Teal'c and Jonas were making their way back.
He pulled back just far enough so that her face was in focus, just far enough to see her smile.
This one was definitely being filed under W.
His thumb rubbed over the back of her hand.
"Happy New Year, Carter."
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