Title: The Barista- 15 Meritorious Service
Category: Missing Scene
Season: Season 2
Episode(s): Tok'ra II
Rating: PG

44 hours. That's how long it had been since General Jacob Carter (Retired) had scared the hell out of me and nearly died in my arms.

And to think I have been accused of being a drama queen... Thing is, this time I'm not exaggerating what so ever; the man really did nearly die in my arms. The fact that he's the dad of a woman I actually know makes the whole thing completely surreal. That career as a world-class surgeon is so out. How do those guys do it? I take a deep breath as I round the final corner towards the store.

It's 5:35 in the morning and not too surprisingly, I have now gone two nights without a decent night's sleep. Wednesday night I didn't even try. I kept waking up and checking my voice mail for any messages from Captain Sam. The next day I just went through the motions. I had found out (through rather dubious, underhanded means I admit) that Jacob Carter, Retired General of the United States Air Force, survived the trip to CS General but was later moved to the military hospital at his request. I took great comfort in the words 'at his request.'

But I could find nothing out from the military hospital. Zip.

I tried calling Sam twice more, but didn't bother to leave additional messages. Her father was in the hospital for God's sake; if she had gotten my message she was probably with him. And if she hadn't, then she would the moment she got home. Neither Daniel nor Colonel Jack seemed to be at the base either (I only tried once more) so I was pretty certain all of them were out gallivanting around the world somewhere- maybe in the Middle East? It had to be someplace exotic in order for Daniel's linguistic skills to come in handy. This is ridiculous Kira! I shake my head and force myself to stop thinking about the whole thing. At least for the next five minutes or so.

I am awfully glad it's so early in the morning and that I could probably find my way to the store in my sleep. I let out a little sigh as I spy the familiar brick and glass building- time to start earning my pay. Just as I am about to dismount, I realize with surprise that there is someone standing outside the store. I am used to the odd customer arriving a few minutes before the 6am opening, but seldom do I see anyone this early. I frown slightly as I get off my bike and walk towards the blurred image. Yes, I admit it; I cycle without my glasses. It isn't like I can't make out the stoplights or street signs; it's just the finer details that are a bit blurred. What can I say? I can afford a nice pair of normal glasses, but can't justify biker lenses. Have you any idea how much those things cost?! And at 5:30 in the morning, a bicyclist doesn't really want to ride about with the cold wind blowing through her eyes...

Luckily there really isn't anyone about to see me biking through town in my Uncle Ray's Workman's Protection sample eyewear. The glasses (I believe they can be considered glasses) were free and cover nearly half my face. Naturally the moment I step off the bike, the glasses are the first to be thrown into a gear bag.

I am less than 20 feet away when I finally recognize who I'm looking at- Captain Sam. I nearly stop in my tracks but realize there are better options. I could blame my lack of manners on lack of sleep, or the fact that it was so bloody early, but that isn't the reason why I suddenly found myself near mute. What can I possibly to say to her? What if her dad is dead? What if she blames me? I have little time to come up with a gameplan before Sam approaches me.

"Hi Kira," Sam says somewhat apprehensively, as she takes in my disheveled appearance and bicycle. The fact that a) she is here and b) her eyes on bloodshot from crying all night, told me that her dad was alive. I suddenly feel a very heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Now if I could just find my voice...

"I hope you don't mind my dropping by so early," Sam continues. She looks slightly chilled standing there in a pair of jeans and dark gray sweater. A well-used leather jacket is wrapped tightly around her waist. Absently I wondered how long she had been waiting. Come on Kira, you can do this. Quit staring at the lady like she's an alien and say something!

"Not at all Sam," I say with obvious relief in my voice. "How's your dad?"

"That's what I wanted to talk with you about," Sam answers guardedly shoving her hands into her jacket. For the life of me, I can't read her face. "May I come in for a few minutes?"

"Sure." I unlock the front door and hold it open so that Sam can walk through first. My bike and I follow and I take a moment to stash it in the back room. I quickly turn on the overhead lights and grab a till from the safe. The shop smells rich and exotic and I realize that someone forgot to seal one of the coffee bins the night before.

"I hope you don't mind talking while I ready the store for opening." I'd like to just sit and take a few minutes to talk to Sam, but the store won't open by itself. Besides, having something to occupy my hands and mind will prevent me from panicking - if panicking is in order. I begin to pull the upside down chairs off the table.

"I won't take up a lot of your time Kira." Out of the corner of my eye I surreptitiously watch Captain Sam as I finish righting the chairs and start brewing the first pots of coffee. I still can't quite figure out what's going on with her. She is obviously very tired and I know her dad must have something to do with that. But there's something else there. I just can't put my finger on it.

The coffee is brewing, the cash is counted and still Sam and I have yet to talk. One of us definitely has confrontation issues.

"Kira, come sit down for a second." I shake my head as I run hot water through the espresso machine components.

"Standing's good," I reply, as I continue wiping down the espresso machine. I don't know why I'm being like this. Sam is here to tell me what happened to her dad and I desperately want to know. I am just petrified that it is something bad. But it can't be right? I mean, Sam wouldn't be here if her dad was dying in a hospital bed someplace.. would she?

"Kira- sit." You know for a good-looking blonde lady, Sam seems to have picked up that commanding voice thing pretty well. Absently I wonder if Colonel Jack had anything to do with it. With a heavy sigh I pour Sam a cup of freshly brewed coffee and grab myself a plastic container of orange juice.

"Its French Roast," I say absently, setting the steaming cup of coffee down next to Sam.

"Daniel's favorite." Sam smiles as she breathes in the heady aroma. She takes a sip, lets out a contented sigh and glances down at the OJ in my hands.

"You don't drink coffee Kira?" I shake my head.

"Weird, I know. But I do love the smell." Sam chuckles.

"Kira, you should see Daniel on long missions. He positively fantasizes about fresh-brewed coffee! The longer we're in the field, the more frequent your name comes up."

I can't help it, I suddenly find myself blushing. Daniel mentions my name while 'in the field'? Wow. I absorb the information for a heartbeat before I realize that I haven't the foggiest idea where Daniel goes, what he really does up there in Cheyenne Mountain. Missions? Isn't that a military thing? Sam reads my confused expression instantly.

"Sorry Kira, I can't tell you anything more than that." She gives me a sincere, but apologetic look.

"Let me guess, it's classified." I shake my head in resigned exasperation. Sam nods. These military sorts are so secretive! Sometimes I feel like I'm in an X-Files episode - if I don't watch out, I might start spying aliens among us! I guess I've procrastinated long enough. "How's your dad, Sam?" I ask, forcing myself to look into Sam's eyes and not the wood grain of the table.

"He's really OK Kira," Sam says with conviction. "I admit, It was touch and go for a while there, but he's making a full recovery."

"Are you sure Sam? I mean, he was pretty sick yesterday. How can the doctors be certain he'll be ok?" Sam cupped the ceramic coffee mug with both hands and seemed to contemplate her answer.

"My dad has cancer Kira. He knew it was serious but didn't realize how serious it was until he collapsed two days ago." Sam let out a small, strangled sound and quickly adjusted her tenses. "Is. How serious the cancer is." I nod.

"Both Dad and I agree that you probably saved his life Kira." Sam looks at me with bright blue eyes. I can see that she is struggling to hold her feelings in check as well. I hate to do it, but I have to ask.

"So if he was seriously sick with cancer two days ago, how can you be certain he's going to be fine Sam?" I feel awful for asking the question, but I need to know. I mean, maybe Sam's in denial or something?

"No, he's really fine, Kira. Really. Dad agreed to undergo a radical cancer treatment yesterday." For some reason, the way Sam says that almost sounds reherese, as if she had been practicing that particular phrase. "The doctors told us that if he survived the...process.. most likely his cancer would quickly go into remission." Sam smiles widely as she continues. "He survived Kira. Through unbelievably long odds, my dad survived. They're both going to be just fine."


Again, Sam could see the look of question on my face and she looks annoyed with herself for letting that comment slip out. I try to keep my face blank, but know I'm failing miserably when Sam sighs and gives me a few more details.

"Dad underwent the treatment with one other..person. It's completely top secret Kira," Sam says heatedly. "And I should never have mentioned her participation in the experiment. I sincerely hope you keep that information to yourself."

"Of course Sam." Besides, who'd really believe me? There's no way I'm going to go blabbing around that some guy I saved is now a military guinea pig on cancer research. Although come to think of it, I didn't know the military were into that sort of thing.

"Words alone can't possibly thank you for what you did yesterday Kira, but I wanted to personally thank you for saving my dad's life." Now I do look down at the wood grain. Squiggly lines.

"Kira," Sam says again giving one of my hands a squeeze. I look up. "Dad is going to be away recuperating for some time, but before he left, he asked me to give you something." Sam reaches into her coat pocket and pulls out a small dark blue box and carefully opens it up. Inside lay a sun-shaped bronze medal with a star and eagle etched into the background. It is attached to a crimson and white ribbon.

"Dad received this Meritorious Service Medal back in Vietnam." Sam shakes her head in memory and smiles to herself. "He actually has yet to tell me the whole story, but I know this medal is awarded for outstanding non-combat meritorious achievement or service and it was very important to him that you have it Kira." Sam pushes the open box towards me and I lift the surprisingly heavy emblem out of its velvety home.

"I can't possibly accept this Sam," I say in a hoarse voice. My God. This is too much.

"You can Kira," Sam insists.. "Dad was adamant about it. This medal denotes bravery and selflessness and we both feel this is what you have done. You saved his life Kira, and for that both of us are forever in your debt." A rather large lump of something had materialized in my throat and I swallow it painfully, still not certain if I should accept such a gift.

"He really wants you to have this." Sam closes my hand around the small medal.

"You sure?" I ask again.

"Absolutely." We sit in silence for several long moments before Sam gives my slightly shaking hand another squeeze and stands up. She points towards the clock. "I think it's just about time for you to open."

"I guess so," I reply, as I stand up. My eyes are still fixed pointedly on the small medal in my hands.

"I should be going." Sam gives me another smiles and starts walking towards the front door. I finally shake myself out of my self-induced trance and call out.



"Can you thank your dad for me?" A brief look of sadness flashes across her face before she smiles.

"The next time I see him, I promise I will."

"Will he ever be back in Colorado Springs?"

"I hope so Kira." Sam says with emotion. I realize that Sam is at the end of her rope both emotionally and physically. She must have been up all night with her dad at the hospital. I wonder if she is heading home or back to work.

"If he ever is, could you bring him by the shop? I would love to thank him in person."

"I promise to try Kira."


"Have a good day," Sam says as she opens the door and steps out into the cool sunshine.

"I will now," I remark, as the door softly closes behind her. I'm still clutching the bronze medal to my chest as the door opens again with my first customer. I quickly put the prized object into my apron and greet my morning regular with a genuine large smile.

It is going to be a good day.

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