by nanda (email@example.com)
"I have no idea how, Sam, but you seem to be in perfect health."
Jack didn't know how, either. For that matter, neither, he thought, did Carter. But he sure as hell wasn't going to complain.
"You still feel okay?" The Doc looked about as worried as Jack felt.
"I feel fine, Janet. Just tired."
And for Carter to admit that -- well, she must really mean it. She had seemed healthy enough after emerging from Nirrti's damn monstrosity of a genetics lab, but the hours since had clearly worn her down. She'd combed her hand through her hair a few too many times, her lips were a little too pale, the skin under her eyes was distinctly blue, and as she sat on the edge of an infirmary bed she wasn't smiling. At all. She should probably be lying down, but -- Carter. Stubborn. And no, he'd never admit that he *liked* that about her.
"Well, I don't know why, physiologically, but you absolutely need rest. At least 48 hours. At home, Sam. Then we'll talk."
Carter nodded, not even putting up a fight. Not a good sign. And Jack figured he'd better speak up before he chickened out. "You think she's safe to drive, Doc? Maybe I should take her?"
He could have sworn Fraiser was hiding a smile. Damn that woman. "I think that'd be a good idea, Colonel."
Carter just said, "Thanks." Then she blinked a couple times, seemed to remember something, and said, "Wait. Are we briefing?"
Way too focused on her job.
"In the morning," he said. "Without you, Major."
"Yes, sir." If he didn't know better, he'd think she looked relieved.
Fraiser just looked amused. And, with that eyebrow thing, disturbingly like a mini-Teal'c. Scary.
She was very quiet in his truck. Hardly a surprise, and probably made things easier, considering. (This friendship thing? Still kinda new.)
"You got food at your house?" he asked as they entered the city from the quiet mountain road. They'd all pretty much given up on trying to keep anything fresh in their refrigerators and had been living on way too much take-out. "Want me to stop and get something?"
"Um. I have pasta, I think. Oh!" She brightened a little. "Some microwave stuff."
"You sure? It's not a problem to stop."
"I'm sure. Thanks, though, for driving me."
He shrugged. "No big deal." The car in front of him hit the brakes hard, noticing the red light a little too late. Jack stopped smoothly. "And I'm coming in to make sure you eat." Strength low, eat food -- basic. And maybe, just maybe, he wasn't yet ready to let go of the connection they'd had in that cell. But he wasn't going to think about that.
He'd expected an objection, or at the very least an eye roll and a friendly *I can take care of myself.* All he got was a soft, "You don't have to." He didn't look over at her as the light changed and he hit the gas.
"Last thing you ate?" he asked teasingly. "Ration bar for breakfast?"
When she didn't respond, he said, "Knew it."
Dinner was quiet, too, but comfortable. He'd rummaged around in the cupboard and discovered a box of linguine and an unopened jar of tomato sauce, dug a package of green beans out of the freezer. She sat at the island watching him with a sleepy smile, sorting through her mail and answering his occasional one-word requests for "pot?" or "strainer?"
"You still with me?" he asked as he set a full plate before her.
"Barely," she admitted.
"You gonna be good and follow Fraiser's orders?"
"I don't think I have much of a choice at the moment. We'll see about tomorrow, though."
He jokingly scowled at her and got a smirk in response. But later, when she got up to start clearing dishes, he told her he'd clean up and she could just go to bed.
She gave him a funny look out of the corner of her eye.
"What? You're exhausted. I'll lock up on my way out."
"I can leave them until tomorrow."
"But you won't."
She sighed, giving in. Sort of. "The dishwasher doesn't work right unless you rinse everything off really well. I'll save the leftover pasta for lunch tomorrow and -- "
She gifted him with one of her rare soft smiles, a very private smile, and disappeared down the hall to her room, moving slowly. No thanks, no goodnight, but it felt kind of right that they didn't need them. He didn't even hear any water running, just silence. She'd probably passed out the instant she'd been horizontal.
He finished up in the kitchen and thought about going to check on her -- the same way he did when any of his team were in the infirmary -- but decided that peeking into her bedroom was a little too stalkerish. So he settled for standing at the end of the hall, noticing that she slept with the bedroom door open. He could just barely hear her calm, deep breathing, familiar from tents offworld but just a little more relaxed.
The last thing he did before he left was to put the water and the grinds in the coffeemaker, so all she'd have to do in the morning was click "start."
The last thing he thought as he locked her front door behind him was, *This friendship thing? Not half bad.*