author: claira
rating: pg
a/n: thanks to anna, allie and julie.
for lisa's birthday.
disclaimer: i do not own

[ n o t i c i n g ]

Something was different.

It was her hair, he decided. The flames from the campsite gave it a luminous gold glow, but there was something else. He was glad Tealíc and Daniel had gone to bed, because he couldnít stop looking at her and one of them would have noticed.

Then she glanced at him and saw him staring. "Sir?"


"Your hair," he said, feeling a slight twinge of panic. "Have you done anything to it?"

Her eyes widened slightly and then a small smile lit up her face. "I got it cut a couple of days ago." She picked up a stick and pushed it into the coals. "I didn't think anyone noticed."

Something clicked into place.

"Is that what's been wrong?"


"These last couple of days," he elaborated. "You've been - " His mind scrambled for the right word. "You've been *pensive*."

A brilliant Carter-smile flashed out at that before she sighed. He raised an eyebrow at her.

"It's just - lately it seems people only notice me when I'm not there." She flicked the end of her stick, sending golden sparks dancing into the darkness.

Jack nearly laughed in disbelief before he realized that she was completely serious and it would only make her feel worse. He wondered briefly if there was something in the smoke that was hazing a few boundaries, or whether the intoxicating beauty of the starry sky had gone to her head.

It was so rare for Carter to open up to him anymore. He knew why.

Jack was anything but stupid.

Sam darted a glance at him, and hesitated before continuing.

"It would be nice to - you know," she shrugged slightly, "to know someone noticed what I looked like, how I was feelingÖ" Her voice was softer, drifting to him on a wave of pine-scented air.

She seemed to take his silence for disinterest and started to rise to her feet. "I'm sorry, sir, I'm -"

He caught her sleeve and tugged her back down. She looked at him in surprise, her face cast in a golden relief and he was suddenly swamped with the realization of how he had missed her.

How much she was losing out on because of the cloudy relationship between them.

"I notice, Carter," he told her, his heart hammering. She looked back into the fire. "But if you need - someone else - to notice, I understand."

The silence stretched on. Then fingers tentatively curled around his.

"Thatís enough." Samís voice was barely loud enough to hear over the crackling flames.

He tightened his grip.

They watched the fire die into embers and the sky grow lighter over the treetops without speaking again.

[ b a c k ]