Chapter 7 - Intermezzo con dolore
At the debriefing, the stilted accounts and awkward pauses gave a clear indication of a team which was ill at ease with itself. All were relieved when it was over, short though it had been, and went down to the commissary in profound silence, unaware of those moving around them. Carter and Teal'c were served first and went to their usual table. O'Neill, surrounded in his own personal cloud of gloom, took himself off to the darkest corner to brood.
Sam and Teal'c exchanged concerned glances, picked up their trays again and went over to join him. O'Neill, staring into his coffee, barely registered their presence.
"O.K. for us to join you, sir?" Carter asked.
"I'm surprised you'd want to bother, Major," he responded dejectedly.
"Oh, I seem to have screwed up royally this time."
O'Neill looked up at his remaining team members as if inviting them to deny the fact.
"Permission to speak freely, sir," Sam said.
"Go ahead, Carter. There's no way you could make it any worse."
"You do seem to have been a little hard on Daniel of late."
"Oh please, Carter, let's not call a spade a bloody digging implement here! Just tell it like it is, for crying out loud! I lost a man today!"
He half stood up and hurled the coffee mug into the wall, showering hot liquid and shards of pottery over a quite a wide area. Several S.F.s left the commissary. O'Neill sat down again abruptly. He rested his elbows on the table and dropped his head on his hands as if to shut out an unforgiving world.
"I believe the Tau'ri have a saying," Teal'c said softly, "that when familiarity procreates, its offspring is disdain."
After a while, O'Neill looked up.
"That's contempt, Teal'c," he said dispiritedly. "You think I've been treating him with contempt?"
"Since you put it like that - yes, sir."
"Indeed I do, Colonel O'Neill."
"Damn. You know, a part of me wants to ring the little shit's neck, and the other part - the better part of me - just wants to tell him I didn't mean it - to ask his forgiveness..."
"So why do you not do this, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked
"Hammond says it wouldn't be a good idea right now," Jack responded dolefully. "Daniel's on leave for a week and then he's joining another S.G. team."
"I am most sorry to hear that, O'Neill."
"Surely he'll think better of it when"
"Not from what Hammond said, Carter," O'Neill stated bluntly.
"Sir, I can't imagine S.G.-1 without Daniel," Carter said, her face a mask of sorrow.
O'Neill had to look away - couldn't bear the implied reproach.
"Nor I, Major Carter."
Chapter 8 - Scherzando
Three days later, S.G. -1 were waiting in the 'Gate Room ready to commence a previously arranged mission to P7Y-304. No one had heard anything from Dr. Jackson since the much regretted argument. Messages had been left on his answering machine, but so far, he hadn't returned any calls. His silence cast a damper on the spirits of the whole team except for its new member. She was unaware of the reason for her unexpected assignment and in any case, suffered from a terminally cheerful disposition.
The team had been augmented at very short notice by Dr. Franciszka 'call-me-Frankie' Czapiewski, on loan from S.G.-7. She was a recent recruit to Stargate Command and had so far acted only in an advisory capacity. Not much taller than Dr. Fraiser, she was built like an eastern European shot-putter, and was of an indeterminate age somewhere between thirty and fifty.
"Come on, lighten up, people," she said breezily as she sashayed into the 'Gate Room. "You look as if you are goink to a funeral!"
O'Neill, still coming to terms with the loss of 'his' archaeologist, gave her a look that would stop a clock. Dr. Czapiewski eye-balled him right back.
"Vell, who rattled your cage zis morning, Sveetie?" she asked pleasantly.
Before he could reply, General Hammond called his attention. His eyes narrowed as O'Neill approached.
"I hope I don't need to remind you not to intimidate your new team member, Colonel," he said pointedly.
"No, sir," O'Neill responded sourly, wondering if she'd ever come across the concept of intimidation.
The M.A.L.P. visuals from the 'Gate Room on P7Y-304 were intriguing. At least, they'd intrigued Dr. Jackson the previous week. The walls of the chamber in which the Stargate was situated were covered in writing of some sort. Unfortunately, the quality of the film hadn't been good enough for Daniel to make out what the language was. O'Neill had dismissed it peevishly as more chicken-scratchings. Daniel's shoulders had sagged. Same old same old...
Well now O'Neill was stuck with someone even brighter and bouncier than Daniel had been that first time on Abydos. She was obviously his penance, he thought glumly.
"O.K. folks, shipping out," he said and looking across at Sam, added, "Ladies first..."
But Frankie had already stepped through the event horizon.
"...Oh for crying out loud!"
"Zat vas fun," Dr. Czapiewski beamed as the rest of S.G. -1 appeared through the Stargate on P7Y-304. O'Neill had already counted to ten and was heading for a hundred...
"Are you sure you feel O.K.?" Sam asked in wonder, remembering her first trip through the 'Gate.
"Never better, Sveetpea."
"Dr. Choppi... Chippi... " he began, "ah cripes! Frankie, would you mind - please - staying with the rest of the team and not wandering off."
"And vhere did you sink I'd vander to, Jack?" she asked mildly, looking around the enormous chamber.
"Look, stay where I can see you, O.K.?"
"I just don't want you getting lost, or hurt, or..."
~ killed...? ~
"Ah, you care for me already and ve've only just met," Frankie grinned, eyes twinkling.
O'Neill gave a cry of despair and strode off, realizing that the greatest danger she was in right now came from him. Sam followed him.
"It's a conspiracy, I swear, Carter. Freaking' academics!"
Half an hour later, Frankie was still busy studying the walls and taking photographs. Carter and Teal'c were concentrating on the huge double doors facing the Stargate at the far end of the rectangular chamber. There were only a few symbols - or letters - on them and no obvious way of opening them.
O'Neill was pacing the room like a caged tiger, patience wearing paper thin, but wary of trying to talk to Dr. Czapiewski again lest his temper get the better of him - again. Didn't want to lose two geeks in a week, but couldn't wait forever. And it was nearly that time now. ~ Deep breath, O'Neill... ~
"So, come on, Doc. Do your stuff and get us out of here. Let's see a bit of the scenery while we're here, huh?"
"I am doink my best, Jack, but zis is a language I am not familiar viz."
"Darlink, zere are several sousand livink languages, not to mention zose zat no longer exist. You expect me to know zem all, heh?
"Right now I'd settle for someone who only knows twenty-three," O'Neill muttered tersely.
"Ah, sorry, it's kind of an in-joke..."
"So you've no idea?" O'Neill grumbled, cradling his P90, "Peachy, just... peachy."
"Vell, zat's good, comink from someone who probably doesn't know his Assamese from his Elamite..." Frankie said, deadpan.
O'Neill did a double-take at that.
"Ah, sorry Jack, it's kind of an in-joke..." she chuckled.
Sam and Teal'c looked at each other and smirked. Chalk up another one to Dr. Frankie.
"...and I didn't say I'd no idea. I sink it may be related to Aramaic, but zat is not one my specialisms. Vhen ve go back to ze S.G.C., I vill be able to do some research"
"Ah, screw that. A touch of C4'll fix it."
"I don't sink zat vould be a very good idea, Jack."
"Have you not noticed zat zis room is brightly lit, and yet, zere is no sign of its source?"
"Actually, she's right, Sir," Sam agreed. "We could be dealing with a technologically advanced race which"
"Which may be long gone, Carter, but if you insist..."
O'Neill did a circuit of the chamber, yelling, "Hello-o-oh! Anybody ho-ome? My name is Jack. I'm a peaceful explorer....!"
He returned to the group by the doors.
"See, nothing," he stated smugly. "It never failed to get Daniel shot or kidnapped or something..."
O'Neill pressed a little C4 to the thin gap between the two doors and set the charge. It blew, leaving a small blackened area. The doors remained unmoved. Sam and Frankie exchanged glances that spoke volumes about 'macho men' and their toys. O'Neill caught the look. Suddenly Daniel was back there, inside his brain.
~ 'Violence - the Colonel O'Neill answer to everything!' ~
He stepped aside for a moment, surprised to find that he was shaking.
"I shall try my staff weapon, O'Neill," Teal'c said.
O'Neill bit back a countermanding order and Teal'c fired. It blasted a fair-sized hole in the doors. Sam went to inspect the damage.
"Sir, there's just a stone wall behind the doors," she said puzzled.
Dr. Czapiewski wore an 'I-told-you-so' look.
"Vhat next, Jack? A tactical nuclear missile...?"
Chapter 9 - Affetuoso con espressione
Colonel O'Neill was spitting tacks as he stepped back through the 'Gate. The debriefing was very brief. Frankie did most of the talking. O'Neill didn't trust himself to open his mouth under General Hammond's censorious gaze. When the meeting was finished, he stalked out without a word. Moments later his voice was heard like distant thunder, tearing a strip of an unfortunate S.F. who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Is he alvays like zis, Sveetie?" Frankie asked Sam as they made their way to the door.
"Er, well he's got a lot on his mind right now," Sam replied tactfully.
With her C.O. on the brink of spontaneous combustion and Daniel still in a snit over whatever had happened in the temple earlier in the week, Sam was not a happy camper. And despite his outward calm, neither was Teal'c. Sam could tell. Well, whether Daniel wanted to see her or not, she was going to have a quiet sisterly word with him.
When Sam arrived outside Daniel's apartment, she could hear music playing faintly. She hesitated a moment then rang the bell. The music stopped abruptly. She waited patiently. She expected that it would take Daniel a little longer to come to the door. When he didn't come, she rang again. Still no response. Was Daniel trying to pretend he wasn't there? Maybe he thought it was Colonel O'Neill and was still trying to avoid him?
"Daniel, it's me - Sam," she called.
There was a slight pause then,
"Just a minute, Sam. I'm coming."
The door opened and she stepped inside. Daniel stuck his head out into the passage as if checking that she was alone. Satisfied, he closed the door and invited her to take a seat.
"So. Sam. What - er - what can I do for you," he asked, a little awkwardly, "um, can I get you a coffee?"
"Oh. Yes. Thank you Daniel. That would be nice," she answered, sitting down on the edge of the couch.
Daniel hobbled into the kitchen. There was always coffee on the go at Daniel's.
"Ooh, yes please."
He soon returned with a mug of caffè macchiato con nocciole, and a plate of chocolate pecan cookies from Tejas' Cookie Heaven, which he put down on the coffee table next to his own mug.
"Thanks. So how're you doing?"
"I'm O.K., Sam," he responded, futzing around the coffee table, collecting up sheaves of papers and closing books. Tidying up. Keeping tense fingers occupied. "You?"
"Missing you, Daniel. We all are."
"Well, I don't doubt that you mean what you say - and I'm sorry if you feel I've abandoned you - but I'm not coming back to S.G. -1, Sam. You do know that?"
"Um. Well. I know you've asked for a transfer..."
"I'm not changing my mind this time, if that's what you've come about," Daniel said gently but firmly, sitting down at last. "It's not a decision that I've taken lightly, Christ, we've been together for five years now But I just... I just couldn't take it any more, Sam..."
He took on board her look of dismay.
"Oh, I'm not blaming you..."
She avoided his eye, concentrating on the contents of her mug. He might not blame her, but she suddenly wasn't so sure that she didn't. There was an uncomfortable silence.
"Have they found you a replacement yet?" Daniel asked when the silence became too stifling.
"Yeah. Dr. Czapiewski."
"What?! Frankie?! You're kidding!"
Daniel howled with laughter.
"Well, I've only had the joy of meeting her once so far, but my money's definitely on Jack!"
"Money on Jack?" she asked. "What for?"
"To crack first," Daniel chortled.
Sam laughed too.
"I wouldn't bet against you," she grinned.
"What, she's been on a mission with you already?" Daniel asked, interested in spite of himself.
"It was a very short mission...," she said and proceeded to give him a blow by blow account.
Daniel listened with Schadenfreude writ large across his face.
"She really called him 'darling'? Jack?! " Daniel hooted, dragging a hand across his eyes.
"Well, 'Darlink' actually," Sam corrected, happy to hear him laugh - couldn't remember the last time.
He smiled at Jack's 'peaceful explorer' routine but the smile disappeared as soon as she mentioned the C4 option. Sam looked at him a little uneasily and wound up her account.
"So Frankie's going to do a little research and see if she can work out how to get out of the Stargate chamber," she concluded.
"And I suppose you brought some of the photos with you...?"
She chewed her bottom lip guiltily. Daniel's expression hardened and she looked down, feeling a little ashamed.
"You know, Sam, it would've been nice if you'd come to see me just for myself."
Sam looked up sharply and caught the hurt expression on his face. It struck home hard.
~ God, what have we been doing to you, Daniel...? ~
The look faded.
"Well let's see them, then," he said resignedly. "May as well, since you've brought them."
She pulled several black and white shots out of her purse and handed them over.
"Frankie thinks it's early Aramaic."
"She's right," Daniel confirmed.
He was wearing his linguist's hat now and was pouring over the photos, almost oblivious of her presence. The photos of the writing on the doors attracted most of his attention.
"To move - to travel - to go..." he murmured. "Hm. 'A long distance?' 'Furthest distance'...? 'Speak the word and go' - no - 'enter'... 'holy', ah, 'blessed realm'. Hm, fascinating... 'Go far away. Speak the word and enter the blessed realm'."
"You know what it means?"
"Uh, maybe. It's obviously asking for a password."
"Ah, ye-eah, but you need to get the pronunciation right."
"It was originally used as a password here on Earth by the people of Gilead to discover who was an Ephraimite, and therefore an enemy, because the Ephraimites couldn't pronounce the word properly - like Frankie has trouble with 't-h'es and 'w's. So if you get it wrong, you - ah - might find the place is booby-trapped."
"Er, wouldn't - um - Teal'c's staff weapon have triggered it if there was a booby-trap?"
"Not if it's voice-activated..."
"Oh. So how should it be pronounced?"
"After this length of time? I'm not entirely sure."
Chapter 10 - Allargando
Teal'c had just finished his Kel'no'reem but remained still and silent as the Buddha, eyes almost closed, amid the candles and incense. His door opened quietly and a face peered inside. Its owner was about to withdraw, not wishing to disturb the calm meditation, when Teal'c spoke.
"Please come in, DanielJackson. It is good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, Teal'c," Daniel replied, sitting down on the floor carefully.
His ankle still had a light U-strapping, but he was almost fully mobile again and keen to follow up on the mission to P7Y-304.
"I hope you have decided to return to S.G.-1." Teal'c uttered in deep chocolate tones.
"Ah, no, Teal'c, I haven't."
"MajorCarter was not optimistic about the possibility of you changing your mind."
"I don't think it would be a good idea. Jack might think he wants me back right now, but it's only because Frankie's far more of a handful than I ever was, and I don't think it would take long for him to slide back into the way things were before..."
"I saw ColonelO'Neill's mark upon your face. If you require revenge, I shall be happy to oblige you, DanielJackson. Then you may return, secure in the knowledge that it will not happen again."
Daniel blinked, surprised and rather touched by the offer.
"Er,no - thank you, Teal'c. Don't think I'm not grateful - or... or tempted. But it's not my way. Besides, General Hammond's already kind of taken care of that." Daniel quirked a malicious little smile. "Knowing that Jack now has Frankie in S.G. -1 is more my idea of revenge."
Teal'c acknowledged this with a slight tilt of his head, thinking that when it came to vengeance, the Jaffa had nothing on the Tau'ri.
"Then what may I do for you, DanielJackson?"
"Oh, nothing, Teal'c. I just stopped by to say hello and to thank you for the chocolates - and the 'Star Trek' video. Thanks."
"You are most welcome, DanielJackson."
Daniel responded with a warm smile.
"Yeah, well - any time I can do anything for you, Teal'c, you only have to ask. Except for returning to S.G.-1."
Dr. Jackson was eating lunch in the commissary with S.G.-7, before shipping out to P7Y-304. His new C.O. was Major Dr. Esteban Sanchez, Ph.D.,exogeology. The team was made up with Dr. 'Alohilani (Alli) Kahanamoku Ph.D., socio-anthropology, and Dr. Leo Wells, Ph.D., biochemistry.
Daniel was explaining his idea for circumventing possible booby-traps when Teal'c and Major Carter arrived. Having collected their meals, they sat down at an adjoining table and exchanged pleasantries.
A little while later Colonel O'Neill came in. He stood in the doorway, supremely oblivious of a small group of S.F.s behind him who were wanting their lunch, and scanned the commissary. Tuning out all the other diners, he homed in on the faces of Carter and Teal'c, and strolled over to them.
"Ok kids, take it easy," he said, "we've been stood down."
On hearing O'Neill's voice behind him, Daniel paused for a moment, fork half way to his mouth, then continued eating.
"Apparently Hammond thinks we won't be needed," O'Neill went on, a hint of indignation showing in his tone of voice. "I suspect Daniel's at the bottom of it."
"That's right, Jack," came a voice from somewhere near his left elbow.
"Daniel?!" O'Neill exclaimed, suddenly noticing his ex-team member.
"Ja-ack!" Daniel responded, looking up with a faint smile on his face. "Not quite sure what you mean by my being 'at the bottom of it'. I simply discussed it with General Hammond and he agreed that we only need the one team."
"Daniel, you should know by now that you should always have back-up."
"Not for what we have planned for this mission."
"None of your concern, Jack. Besides, we have Major Sanchez, and while I'm not black ops. trained, I do have several years of field experience."
"Yeah at getting shot!" O'Neill snarked.
"Ahm, I think it's time we were on our way, don't you?" Daniel said to Major Sanchez.
He rose to his feet, nodded to Sam and Teal'c, and prepared to leave.
"Of all the archaeologists on this planet, Dr. Jackson, you have to be the pissiest!" O'Neill scowled.
Daniel gave him wide smile.
"Way to get me back, Jack! Give my regards to Dr. Czapiewski," he said, then walked out without a backward look.
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