author: claira
rating: pg
summary: ever wondered what taxi drivers overhear? sam/jack.
a/n: thanks to anna, julie and allie.
disclaimer: i do not own

[ c l a r i t y ]


It was exactly three hours and forty-seven minutes into the New Year when Wilson's cab was flagged over outside O'Malleys. He pulled over to the curb reluctantly. The woman was wobbling on her stilettos and the man was holding her arm, as if to keep her standing.

Wilson swore quietly under his breath, but it was too late.

"Where to?" he asked, after the man had helped the woman into the back seat.

The man glanced toward the woman - who was already drooping against the window - and snapped out an address.

For the first few minutes of the drive, the only sound was the music playing on Wilson's radio. Then the woman finally broke the silence.

"Say something." Her voice was slightly slurred.

Wilson looked into the rear view mirror. She was watching the man with clear intensity and a tiny suspicion entered Wilson's mind.

"What do you want me to say?"

"Ask me what I thought of the band. Ask me whether I enjoyed myself. Ask me who Janet was kissing at midnight. Ask me - "

"You're drunk, Carter."

The woman laughed bitterly.

"Maybe I am."

Wilson turned the corners in silence, trying not to glance back.

"I'm so sick of this," she continued after a beat.

"What?"

"I'm sick of pretending. We are never going to win this - "

"Carter!"

"How many times have we thought we might have? Every time - " Wilson noted a peculiar hesitation - "every time, someone else becomes the enemy."

"This year."

"Can you wait that long?"

When the man spoke again, his voice was softer and resigned.

"We have to."

"Do we?"

"Carter - "

Wilson pulled up outside the address and waited. After a long pause, he risked a second look at the couple. The woman was staring straight ahead, her body stiff, as if she was just barely holding herself together.

"It's always 'Carter', isn't it?" Her voice grated against the purr of the engine.

"That isn't fair."

She laughed again and there was a mocking edge that made Wilson flinch.

"Yes, Jack," she said, putting a strange emphasis on the name. "But what is?"

She got out of the car and pulled her coat around herself. "Do you want to come in?"

"I - I can't."

She nodded once, her lips pressed tightly together. "Good night, sir," she told him, her voice blank.

Wilson watched her walk steadily up to her house, his suspicions confirmed as the lights flashed on and the door shut behind her.

The man thumped his head against the back of the seat.

Wilson started the engine and waited for the next address. None came.

"Sir?" he asked, turning to glance behind him.

The man looked up. "What should I do?"

Wilson looked at the house. There was a shadow against the curtains.

He shook his head slowly. "I don't know, sir."

The man leant forward and put his face in his hands.

There was a pause.

"Sir?"

"She's drunk," the man said quietly, as if trying to convince himself of something.

"She's not," Wilson said with calm certainty and then instantly wished he hadn't as the man's eyes flashed to his.

"What?"

Wilson shrugged. "I've been around a long time," he said, turning the volume of the radio down and scratching his head. "She was too coherent and she stopped slurring... just trust me."

The man abruptly opened the car door. "Stay here," he said and almost ran up the front walk. The door opened and Wilson looked down, smiling as the two figures melted into one silhouette in front of the open door.

A long minute later, the man was back and rather breathlessly told him the address - and Wilson then spent the next five minutes trying not to laugh as his passenger hummed along with the radio and tapped his fingers on the window.

The cab finally pulled up outside the address and the man passed a crisp bill to Wilson.

"Keep the rest," he said when Wilson went to change the bill. "And - thank you."

Wilson smiled. "Happy New Year, sir," he replied simply.

The man grinned. "Happy New Year."

*

[ b a c k ]

    
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