PG. Sam/Jack. Humor. For the Carnival of Squee Take Back the Glee Commentficathon, to the prompt “running.” I blame the title on reading too much Ogden Nash before bed.
Disclaimer: These people do not belong to me and I am not making any money off them.
The delivery men showed up at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning. Jack was still asleep, plus he hadn’t ordered anything, two factors that combined to make him unpleasant. The three burly guys on his doorstep were not amused.
They handed him the packing list to shut him up, and it did, all right, at least after he’d fully checked the crate for explosives. The sender, however, was offworld until Wednesday at the earliest, so complaining to her voicemail would do him no good. It was not fair.
The burly guys looked damn happy to climb back into their truck and drive away.
The treadmill sat like a gaping maw, mocking him, barely squeezed into his living room.
Jack went to take a shower. It was still there when he got back, and still there once he had coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other. Why the hell would she buy him a treadmill? He hated treadmills. They reminded him of the months of torture he’d had to endure in physical therapy after every knee surgery or broken femur. And then she had the gall not to be home when it arrived.
The phone rang. Jack had to pour his coffee into a travel mug, and wrap his bagel in a paper towel so he could eat it in the car; the mystery gift was temporarily forgotten.
He stopped and stared at it a lot over the next few days, even turning it on once and walking a few steps in bare feet. But mostly it just gaped.
By Tuesday, he was hanging his wet towels on it, his dress uniform overnight, a pair of socks he’d had to wash out in the sink because he didn’t have time to do laundry. He wondered when he would get too old to run out of socks. It seemed like he should have passed some sort of deadline by now.
By Wednesday, he’d asked the photograph of Carter he kept by his bed what she was thinking. Twice. He called her voicemail three times without leaving a message, and finally said after the beep, “One, where are you? And two, what the hell?”
On Thursday he took everything off it, grumbled, and left for work.
She called his cell, finally, at six o’clock that night, when he was stuck in a meeting with some IOA idiots. As soon as he got back to his office he hit speed dial.
“Hi,” she said softly.
“Hey. Where are you?”
“Infirmary. No,” she said before he could ask, “everybody’s okay. Cam’s just getting some stitches. So, I take it you got it?”
“I did. What the hell?”
Carter laughed into the phone. “That’s what you said on my voicemail, Jack.”
“And I repeat: what the hell? A treadmill?”
“You’re always saying you don’t have time to work out, and I know you don’t like the gym at the Pentagon.”
No, he didn’t; he’d tried to lift weights there once and had been interrupted no fewer than nine times in half an hour. The gym at the SGC was tiny and had limited equipment, but at least people respected that you were there to work out, not to work. “I don’t need a treadmill, Carter.”
“I didn’t say you did, I just thought it might make your life a little easier. You like to run.”
Jack grunted. “Yeah, outside!” And mostly with her.
“Gift horse, Jack,” she said, sounding more than a little irked. He wondered how much sleep she was functioning on.
“Yeah, okay,” he said. “Thank you.”
He heard a long sigh. “This is going to be like the first time I bought you new underwear, isn’t it?”
“I didn’t need new underwear!”
“Of course not. The holes only made you sexier.”
“Those were just the ones I slept in!”
“Exactly. Jack, when you have a woman who regularly, voluntarily takes off your underwear, you should trust her on these things.”
It was possible she had a point there. “So I should also trust you that I need to look better naked?”
“You look fine naked.” And if they ever had a kid, that would be the tone she’d use to say, “Don’t cry, sweetie, we’ll buy you a new ice cream cone.”
“Wait. Are you still in the infirmary? Please tell me you’re not talking about my underwear in the middle of the infirmary.”
“I’m in Dr. Lam’s office.”
“With the door closed?”
“Yes, Jack, of course the door is closed. Look, she’s done with Cam and she’s waving me over. My plane lands at eight. Should I take a cab?”
“Yes,” he said sourly.
Carter huffed and hung up.
Jack went home and hung some more stuff on the treadmill.
“What?” she asked the next night, hands on hips, standing in his living room with her coat still on. “It looks good in here.”
“It looks ridiculous in here.”
“Then let’s move it into your office.”
“There’d be no room left for my desk!”
“Okay then,” she said patiently, but the little wrinkles around her eyes warned him her patience was thin. “We’ll put it in the bedroom.”
“I give up.” Carter took her coat off, hung it in the front closet. “I hope you have dinner.”
“I just have to heat it up.”
She sat on the couch, inches from the treadmill. “Good, I’m starving. How about some wine?”
Jack stared at her before marching into the kitchen.
When he came back, he handed her a full glass of her favorite Merlot, and held a glass for himself in his other hand. “I’m being a jerk.”
“Yes, you are. Why don’t you just return it if you don’t want it?”
That was easy. “You gave it to me.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Nicely played. That’ll earn you a good goodnight kiss, nothing else.”
Jack went to check on the casserole. She scared him half to death when she appeared at his elbow. “Gah! Carter!”
She’d brought both glasses and she set them on the counter, reaching for the bottle to top them off. “What’s going on, Jack?”
Jack scowled. He didn’t know, and he knew himself well enough — and knew Sam knew him well enough — to have a nagging feeling that it wasn’t entirely about a stupid, expensive piece of exercise equipment. Mostly, maybe, but not entirely.
And she had been right about the underwear.
“Jack, I’m fine. I know this was a long mission, but we were never in any real –”
“I know that, Carter. It’s not the mission.”
He picked up his wine and told her dinner would be ready in ten minutes.
On Saturday they slept late and went to bed early, spending most of the hours in between with their laptops and their cell phones, working. Carter emailed him her mission report in the late afternoon.
On Sunday, Jack woke up to a half-empty bed and a rhythmic thumping that was not coming from inside his head. He pulled on some clothes and sauntered downstairs to investigate, yawning.
Carter was working out. On the treadmill. In a sports bra and a pair of shiny, black spandex shorts, and she knew he was helpless against her in spandex shorts. The machine was loud, but she was graceful: long-limbed, shoulders relaxed, form perfect; she’d run cross country in high school and it still showed. She hadn’t heard him come in.
Jack got the paper, looking carefully up and down the street as he always did, and sank into the couch with a big cup of coffee. She gave him a little wave and kept running. Usually her minimum was five miles, and she went longer on Sundays when she could.
Twenty minutes later, she turned the thing off, took a big gulp from her water bottle and came to sit next to him. “What are you reading?”
“Nothing earth-shattering.” Jack thought that line was pretty clever. He used it a lot.
Carter drank more water. He watched her throat as she swallowed. Then she gave him a sly look that had won more than a few fights. “Are we done arguing about the treadmill?”
“Well, it’s here now. You might as well use it.” Maybe, maybe, he’d even try it out himself. Someday. Not today.
“That’s not what I asked.”
“Oh, all right. Yes, we’re done.”
“Then I’m going to take a shower.” She stood up. “And you’re going to take me out to breakfast.”
Jack had no objections to that plan. “I need a shower, too,” he said absently, as she fiddled with her sweaty hair and he ogled her abs.
Oh! Oh, right. Jack scrambled to follow her. “You always have good ideas, Carter.”
She smacked him on the arm.