Title: Barista 27-- Graduation Day
Season: Season 3
Spoilers: vague reference to 100 days (317)
Rating: PG
Category: A little angst, a little humor, a lot of Kira TLC

Author's Notes: This one is a little sad, but I think everyone will like the ending.

Ever have one of those days where you find yourself wallowing in self pity and have no desire what so ever to feel better? The kind of day where you are certain there's some cosmic conspiracy to make you feel as miserable as possible? That's the kind of day I'm having today. I resist the urge to let out a big breathy sigh. With my luck, the moisture-laden sigh will saturate my scarf, freeze solid, and then slowly melt down my shirt causing me to catch pneumonia. I'll probably spend a week in intensive care.

Like I said, I'm really into self pity at the moment.

I quicken my pace even though I have no destination and try not to look at all the shops decorated for Christmas. Although I might not have enjoyed decorating Victor's in late November, I do have to admit it sure is pretty around here when there's snow on the ground and everything is lit up for the holidays. I find myself starting to feel better and instantly give myself a mental shove- I don't want to feel better. I don't want to think of gingerbread men and good will towards man. What I want is for someone to have figured out that as of today I'm officially a college graduate!

Damn. I may not have a problem wallowing, but I do have a problem with crying and I can feel some serious tears trying to emerge. Happy thoughts Kira! Happy thoughts! Or at least moderately unsad thoughts? I feel a few stray tears slide down my cheeks and brush them away angrily.

This really isn't working. I thought taking a walk might make me feel better, but instead it seems to be making me even more upset than I already am. It's Saturday afternoon and all I see around me are a lot of frantic, yet happy-looking Christmas shoppers. I can't decide if I'm thankful I'm not one of them or bummed that I never was. Growing up Jewish in a predominately Christian neighborhood wasn't really all that fun. Sure, it's great to bring a dreidel to class and tell the story of Chanukkah-but come on! You can only do that so often, right? Having a totally minor holiday tucked next to a major religious one completely sucks. It's bad enough that everyone just *assumes* Chanukkah is huge because it's the same time of year as Christmas, but once you throw in all the carols, candy and gift-giving-well, if you're me, this pretty much guarantees you turn into a Scrooge this time of year.

A college educated scrooge.

A freshly-turned 22 year old college educated scrooge.

I find myself walking even faster and blink rapidly in an attempt to keep those stray tears from falling. With my luck, my eyelashes will freeze together and I won't be able to see. I'll run into a tree or something.

Did I mention the self-pity?

"Kira!" A voice yells behind me. I don't know who is calling my name but you know what? I don't really care. I'm in deep hurt mode at the moment and don't want to talk to anyone. Where are my powers of invisibility when I need them?

"Kira!" The voice behind me says louder. I know I'm being stupid, but I still continue to walk briskly forward. I know it can't be Stefan as he's in St. Thomas of all places. Wanted to celebrate the Millennium surrounded by mai-tais in the Caribbean. Oh, hey. Yet another thing to feel bad about- it's the dawn of the 21st century and I don't have a boyfriend. Maybe I'll get lucky and everything will stop at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999.

Death by Y2K bug.

"Kira?" The voice says quieter this time as a hand reaches out and gently forces me to stop. Slowly I'm turned around. I'm so busy feeling sorry for myself that it doesn't even dawn on me who had stopped me until I look up.


One slightly breathless concerned looking Daniel Jackson. He looks down at me with concern and something that looks a little like understanding. I can only give him a watery shadow of a smile. Daniel gives me a genuine one in return, and there isn't a darn thing I can do to keep my eyes from overflowing with tears.

"It's ok, Kira." Daniel says as he pulls me into towards him. For several longs second Daniel hugs me tightly as I hiccup into his chest and try to get my emotions under control. I wish I were a Vulcan.

"Kira," Daniel whispers into my hat-covered head, "happy graduation."

This time I don't even try to hide the sobs as I cry into his wool coat. The only person to remember my graduation is my coffee guy! I may consider Daniel a good friend, but it isn't like we go clubbing together or anything. He will forever be my coffee guy and it seems only my coffee guy remembered that today was the last day of my undergraduate life.

"Let's get you inside." Daniel murmurs leading me across the street towards a café. "It is freezing out here and I think your eyelashes might be sticking together." I let out a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh, and desperately wish I had some Kleenex in my pocket.

Apparently, besides speaking a gazillion languages, Daniel is also a mind-reader. He hands me a clean handkerchief as we step inside the café. We are led to a corner table near a window and the waitress hands us some menus as Daniel orders a hot chocolate for me and a coffee for himself.

"Hope you like hot chocolate." Daniel says smiling at me warmly. I can only nod as I blow my nose loudly and take off my hat and coat. The waitress quickly returns with our drinks and I sigh contentedly as I sip the warm beverage. I've stopped crying and although I'm certain my eyes are red and puffy and my nose is bigger than Rudolph's, I seem to have gotten my emotions back under control.

"Everything always seems a little better with chocolate." Daniel says cupping both hands around his coffee.

"You're drinking coffee." I say pointing out the obvious.

"I'm not the one in desperate need of cheering up." Daniel says lightly. Before I can reply, the waitress returns. I order some homemade vegetable soup and bread, while Daniel goes for the clam chowder.

We sit in companionable silence for several seconds before it dawns on me what has just happened. "Daniel?"


"How did you know I just graduated?" Before he can reply I ask another question. "How did you know where I'd be? How come you didn't ask why I was upset? How.."

Daniel holds up a hand and gives me another small smile. "Now I know what Jack must feel like when we're off.." He pauses for just the slightest of seconds before continuing. "Off on a mission and I ask a lot of questions."

"I always have questions." I reply truthfully.

"Me too Kira." Daniel says with a small smile.

"Speaking of Jack, have you found him yet?" Daniel's eyes dim with regret and I wish I hadn't asked the question. "No, not yet." He answers sadly. "But Sam is really close to finding something that is certain to help him." An astrophysicist is going to find something to help her captured commanding officer? Is it just me, or does that seem kinda weird?

I am trying to put my thoughts into diplomatic words when Daniel abruptly changes the subject. "Do you have it yet?" He asks.

"Have what?"

"Your diploma." He explains looking at me carefully for a reaction.

Oh. That. "No." I reply shaking my head in the negative. "They'll mail it to me in a couple of weeks after they are certain I don't have any overdue books or anything."

"Ah, I'd forgotten about that." Daniel nods knowingly.



"How'd you know?" I don't have to clarify what I mean- he knows.

Daniel shrugs. "It really was just dumb luck finding you." He says taking another drink of his coffee. Daniel wrinkles his nose slightly and mutters, "Not as good as yours." I smile appreciatively and make a motion with my hand telling him to continue.

"I was at the university library last week and heard some students talking about how Monday was the last day of the quarter. I remember you telling me that you would graduate at the end of this quarter and I just put two and two together."

"But how did you know?" I ask again.

"How did I know you would be wandering the frigid streets of Colorado Springs feeling alone and a little sorry for yourself?" I do a lousy job at trying to hide my blush and look down at the checkered tablecloth instead.

"Yeah," I say finally. "That."

Daniel shrugs and takes one of my still cold hands in his own. Although the cocoa has done a pretty good job of warming me up on the inside, I'm still pretty cold on the outside. "I knew Kira, because I've been there."

Naturally, the waitress chose that exact moment to arrive. She set down our soups quietly and said she'd be back with more coffee in a moment. I asked for a cup of hot water.

"Just hot water?" Daniel asks raising an eyebrow.

"I'm cold." I reply unnecessarily. Besides, I like drinking hot water. At the very least, it gives me something warm to cup my hands around. We each take a couple spoonfuls of our soup before Daniel continues.

"I graduated from New York University in December 1982." Daniel says quietly. 1982? But that was nearly 20 years ago! Daniel must have been..

"I was 17 Kira." He says giving me a little chuckle. I guess he could see my brain trying to do the math.

"You graduated from college when you were just 17?!" This guy really was a genius.

"Yeah." Daniel says nodding. "I kind of did high school and college all at the same time. My foster parents did attend my high school graduation in June earlier that summer, but they didn't really remember my college one."

"How could they not know?" I ask completely wrapped up in Daniel's story and oblivious to my own. Where were Daniel's real parents?

"It really wasn't their fault." Daniel says in their defense. "I become their foster kid when I was 15 and all I ever did was go to school. When I wasn't at high school, I could be found in a lab somewhere at NYU. They were aware that I planned on continuing my education and weren't too concerned about the details."

"Sounds lonely." I say quietly.

Daniel shrugs. "It was. Sometimes. But mostly I remember loving the learning. Everyday I learned something knew and I was determined to make a difference in the world. To make my parents proud of me." Daniel fidgets uncomfortably. "I never told you about my parents did I?" He asks softly. I shake my head.

"They were killed in an accident when I was 8." Daniel says quietly. I feel my eyes fill with tears again.

"Daniel, I am so sorry!"

"Yeah," Daniel says nearly inaudibly. "Me too."

"Anyway," Daniel continues trying to get back to the original point. "I finished up the last of my credits right before Christmas and there wasn't anyone I could really talk to about it. I came home to leftovers and my foster parents building a crib for their new baby."

"It was just a stupid undergraduate degree." I say trying not to let it get to me. Daniel's story was slowly becoming way too familiar. "It doesn't really mean much if you're just going to go on and get another degree."

"Maybe." Daniel says nodding. "But it's your first degree Kira, and that'll always the one you'll remember most." I shrug noncommittally.

"Where are your parents Kira? I bet they're very proud of you."

I shrug again. "They're on a cruise in the Bahamas." I explain. "Back in September it looked like I wouldn't be graduating until March, so my parents bought tickets for a cruise over the holidays. Once they heard that I would be graduating earlier, they tried to change their tickets. I told them not to worry about it and go have their cruise. After all, it isn't like there's a graduation ceremony or anything-that'll be in June with everyone else. All I get today is a little piece of paper that says I have completed 180 credits."

"And how do you feel about that?" Daniel asked sounding suspiciously like a shrink.

"I didn't think I'd care so much Daniel.' I whisper. "I honestly thought this would just be the first of many degrees I might get and I honestly wouldn't care. I made certain that this whole degree-getting thing just wasn't a big deal. My parents.."

"Your parents are very proud of you." Daniel says finishing my thought with a knowing nod.

"Very." I say smiling. I'm an only child and my parents pretty much went nuts when they heard I was accepted to graduate school." It's a good memory and helps to ease me out of my dark mood.

"What about your friends?" Daniel asks. Instantly the dark mood returns.

"It's December 15th Daniel! Everyone is home with their families!" I reply a little sharply. Daniel's face falls a little and I mentally kick myself for being the fool. Not only does Daniel apparently have no parents, but now his wife is dead and his best friend is missing. Some Christmas he's having. God, I'm a horrible person aren't I?

"He'll be home soon though, right?" I say trying to make the best of a really awkward situation.

"Yes," Daniel says with conviction. "He will."

We spend the next 30 minutes or so talking about school and birthdays. It was Daniel's fault for wishing me a happy birthday and asking me how I spent my glorious 22nd.

"Well, it wasn't nearly as eventful as last years." I reply using every ounce of my being not to lick my lips.

"I imagine not." Daniel replies chuckling. Daniel insists on paying for lunch and we get up to leave. As I am pulling on my coat, Daniel leans over and gives me a very chaste kiss on the side of my cheek.

"Happy Graduation. Kira." He says giving me another hug. I wrap my scarf around my neck and we exit the café together.

"Daniel?" I ask as we head off towards his car. Daniel had offered me a ride home and it was too darn cold to refuse the offer.


"I liked the birthday kiss better."

Completed March 15, 2004

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