Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Spoilers for 'Children of the Gods', 'Red Sky', 'Proving Ground' and '48 Hours'. A '48 Hours' episode addition.
It had started - strangely enough - with a fork.
He was in the commissary, enjoying his customary dessert of red jello - trying to tell himself that he wasn't disappointed by the distinct lack of anyone opposite him eating blue jello - when he dropped his fork. He tried valiantly to grab it but it clanged off the table, rebounded off a chair, and fell dramatically to the floor.
Sighing, he pushed his chair back with the weight of his body, leant forward, and peered under the table. Not knowing how it was possible that a fork could travel that far entirely under its own power he sighed again, slid off his chair, and moved under the table to reach it.
And that was when he heard the voices.
"-can't believe you missed it! I don't think anything more interesting has ever happened in here-ooo, is that lemon chicken? Gimme some of that. I'm starving! Thanks,"
"Well what, precisely, did I miss? You've been going on about it for the last five minutes, and I still have no idea what happened. Umm, spaghetti, please. Thank you."
Jack vaguely recognised the voices, but more than anything he was intrigued as hell about what had happened. On the off chance that they'd stop whatever they were about to say if he made himself known, he remained under the table, clutching his fork.
He could hear the sounds of chairs scraping on the floor, and trays being placed on tables.
"I was in here with Johnson and McKenzie, talking about Siler's latest tattoo-"
"Oh my God, have you seen it?"
Why couldn't they just get to the point? This wasn't the most comfortable of places.
Still, over the next few seconds he learnt a few things about Siler he'd never known before.
Finally, they got back to the point.
"Carter was in here with that Dr McKay."
Jack's head hit the table.
"What was that?"
Shit, shit, shit...so much for being special ops trained.
"No idea. Anyway, I don't know what it was about exactly until the end of their conversation; that was when it got really loud. I think it was something about Teal'c being missing."
"And-oh God, this is delicious! You have spaghetti juice on your chin, by the way."
Oh stop eating and start talking!
"No problem. Okay, so their argument got a bit intense so of course we started to take notice and did everything we could to eavesdrop while trying to look like we weren't eavesdropping."
"His exact words to her were...are you ready for this?"
"Are you suuuuure?"
Oh that man must die. Yes, dammit!
"Allllll right. His exact words to her were: 'I wish I didn't find you so attractive, but I've always had a weakness for dumb blondes.'"
"No way! You are *so* kidding me!"
How was that possible?
How could he even *think* of saying that?
"Well what did she say?"
Jack had a few choice retorts.
"'Go suck a lemon'. Although I think it probably had some context that we missed." Sounds of chewing. "This is really good. Gotta tell you though, if Colonel O'Neill ever-"
Jack stood up.
"-appears from under a table. So, how 'bout those Nicks, huh?"
And that was why he was standing in the corridor, listening as various sounds of destruction came from her lab. Bracing himself, he acted casual and slowly walked in.
She was facing away from him, in the process of slamming a small cupboard shut.
Not seeming in the least bit surprised, she grabbed something expensive looking, turned around, and threw it onto her desk.
In broke into three pieces.
He looked at her, the three separate pieces, then back at her again.
"I hope we didn't need that."
"We haven't actually needed it for three years; I just hadn't got around to getting rid of it yet."
"And you decided demolition was the best route." This conversation was not going quite how he'd planned it. Not that he actually planned his conversations with her. Not at all.
There was no direct response from her. Just some more thumping as she moved something that clearly didn't need to be moved.
Carter didn't get annoyed. At least, not often, and never like this. "Carter,"
She put a pile of books into two separate piles, then put them back into one pile again. "Sir?"
"What makes you say that?" A test tube became the latest casualty; it didn't break thankfully, instead bouncing off one of the books and rolling across the desk.
They both watched as it teetered on the edge of the desk, not yet deciding if it wanted to take the plunge and commit suicide, or go back and set up in a test tube rack with it's very own bung.
"I, uh..." Okay, how much should he tell her he knew? "I heard what a jerk McKay was. I mean that seemed pretty evident to me the one time that I met him, but I just discovered that he was even more of a jerk to you."
Her anger hadn't dissipated. It was just...less volatile. Which had to be a good thing. "Look, Carter..." He pulled up a stool. He actually found himself pulling up a stool, sitting down, and dispensing advice to his 2IC. "Feel free at anytime to smack me if you think I'm stepping over a line, being patronising or just plain dumb-"
He chose to ignore that. "I know...this is not the first time you've had to deal with that kind of lame-ass behaviour from a male colleague."
Jack grinned. "That seemed evident the first time we met."
Ah ha. Was that a small grin?
He continued. "But getting this angry about it...it's not you. He's not worth it."
Sighing, she rested her elbows on the pile of books, leant forward, and rubbed her hands over her face. "I'm not angry about the 'lame-ass' comments he made."
She pushed herself up. "I'm angry because in some way...he was right."
He didn't even get to ask "Huh?" because she was off on a tangent already.
"The computer model I designed ignores at least fifty per cent of the impulses a Stargate produces during any dial-in attempt. It ignores countless dial-in protocols, which has caused problems more than once. What happened on the Katal home world? That was my fault."
"You also fixed it."
"But it would have never happened in the first place if I was good enough."
Good enough? She didn't think she was good enough? Where the hell was this coming from?
And then he realised: her intelligence. She'd been here five years, and not once had anyone thought less of her because she 'dared' to be female, attractive, and intelligent. She wasn't used to having it mocked.
"This may not mean much coming from El Dumb One himself, but...Carter, you're brilliant. Ask anyone. Without you we never would have figured out that planetary shift thing. We never would have reached any worlds other than Abydos. Every time we step through that Stargate...that's something we never would have accomplished without *you*. Teal'c never would have joined us, we wouldn't have killed who knows how many Goa'uld's, we wouldn't have saved Earth several times over...and without you being the brain box that you are, you and I would probably have never met. And that...is something I will *never* regret."
Keeping her head lowered, she reached out and picked up the test tube. "I really wanted to throw my glass of jello over him."
"Why didn't you?"
She fiddled with the test tube. "He's a civilian. Didn't seem fair."
Jack nodded. "I wouldn't have let that stop me."
"I did seriously think of putting a lemon in his bag."
He stared at her blankly.
She explained. "He's allergic to citrus."
Ohhhhhhhhh. "That explains the 'suck a lemon' thing. Suddenly it makes a lot more sense."
Frowning, she put the test tube back on the table. "How exactly did you hear about this conversation?"
Ah. Best to leave now. "Special ops techniques that I really can't get into, Major. Anyway, I'll go now. Go back to...destroying expensive things. If I didn't have paperwork to do, I'd certainly join you." Standing up, he shoved the stool towards her desk.
"Why do you have a fork in your pocket?"
Ah. Tilting his head down, he saw that indeed, there was a fork resting in his chest pocket. Yep, he remembered putting it there as he made his way to Carter's lab. "I, uh..." Completely without consulting him, his hand lifted the fork out of his pocket and held it out to her. "This is my jello fork. I'd like you to have it."
She should have asked why on Earth he was giving her his jello fork. She should have asked why he ate his jello with a fork. She should have frowned, shook her head, then phoned county mental health.
She took it.
"Thank you," She replied sincerely, holding it by the handle and staring down at the prongs sticking up towards her.
"Sure. Take care." Turning away, he shoved his hands in his pockets, walked out of her lab, and wondered why he had a huge-ass grin on his face.
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