Title: Barista 41 -- Outside the Box
Season: Season 5
Spoilers: Vague references for 0501 - Enemies, 0502 - Threshold, 0401 - Small Victories
More concrete reference to 0503 - Ascension
Category General
Rating: PG (mild swearing)

Author's Notes: SO sorry about the massive Barista drought. The good news is that I just completed The Last of my difficult quarters and should be supplying quasi-regular updates from here on out.

I have great plans for Season 5, but I kinda have to lead you all into it. I'm totally setting the stage with this story. So while it might not be gut-clutching funny, or angst-ridden, I think you'll still enjoy it. Heh - especially the end! Be patient - we'll get there! Have I ever let you down?

I really am listening.

"…and then Dr. Feldman takes us through a doorway guarded by two military guys and shows us what appears to be a Lego piece..."

Well, sort of.

Kyle pauses, and looks at me with those beautiful eyes of his. "Kira, are you listening to me?"

I try not to look guilty. "Of course!" I reply. And if I had to reiterate back to him what he has been talking about for the last 20 minutes, I bet I would do a pretty good job. I really am listening to him. It's just that I'm not finding it particularly interesting.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Kyle has been hired full time to work for a well-respected aeronautical think tank. And it's fantastic that he's working on this great "secret" project that has him making mathematical models of weird things no one really understands. But that's just the problem really – I don't understand it either.

"Did it come with any of those cute little Lego men as well?" I ask, trying to lighten the mood.

"Kira!" Kyle replies with a slight frown as he shakes his head. Um. Guess the levity thing didn't work.

"Just kidding, Kyle," I reply giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I think it's great that your job is meaningful and challenging…" I pause as I realize something very, very important.

"I'm sorry I've been going on and on about it, Kree," Kyle adds apologetically, as he wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me close. One arm snakes up my back and begins toying with the hair at the nape of my neck. Some part of my brain registers that Kyle's roommates are out for the afternoon, but another part of my brain is screaming for attention in large, neon words. The words fade a bit, as I turn my attention back to Kyle, but they never quite disappear.


"So you're not buying mechanical difficulties?" Daniel asks somewhat seriously, as he pulls out his wallet to pay for his coffee.

"Daniel, you pulled another mysterious disappearing act again," I reply in exasperation. "You really expect me to believe you were held up due to mechanical difficulties?"

"It happens!" Daniel replies hotly. Is it just me or does he sound a wee bit defensive?

"For three weeks?!" I shake my head. "It's the 21st century, Daniel," I explain patiently. "I doubt there is anywhere on the planet that would 'trap' you for three weeks." Daniel gives a 'hmmmph' sound and reaches for his wallet. He eyes me critically as he hands me a twenty.

"Kira, are you all right?" Well, this is unexpected. And here I thought I was hiding it so well.

"Shouldn't I be asking you the same thing?" I ask, as I hand over his change. As usual, Daniel places several bills into the tip jar. I swear, Daniel alone is paying for my textbooks.

"What do you mean?" Daniel asks looking a little wary.

"Oh, I don't know, Daniel…" I begin fumbling for words. "You just don't seem.." happy? content? I'm saved from having to come up with something by Daniel's cell phone. I chuckle to myself as I recognize a few bars of 'Walk Like An Egyptian' by the Bangles.

"Jack's discovered personalized ring tones," Daniel explains with a resigned sigh, as he steps away from the counter and answers the phone.

"Hi Jack." Well at least Daniel sounds normal on the phone to Jack. He always has this slightly cautious, 'what are you going to ask of me now' voice when he talks on the phone with Jack.

I'm not purposefully eavesdropping, but it's 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, and there aren't a lot of customers around. I grab a clean rag and wipe down the espresso machine.

"I spoke with her this morning," Daniel says. He switches the phone from one ear to the other as Jack replies. "She seemed fine, Jack. A little embarrassed, and more than a little bored, but fine." He pauses as Jack says something.

"Well gee, Jack, I don't know. Maybe because the rest of the base is thinking she's NUTS?" Daniel says in exasperation.


"Oh come on Jack, we've all been down that road before. If Sam says…," his voice drops off as he glances furtively in my direction. "If Sam says she has company then she probably does." Jack talks for several seconds.

"I know you are, Jack," Daniel says quietly. "We'll get this figured out." He pauses, as he looks my way with a smile. "Now if you excuse me, my coffee awaits!"

"Yes Jack, I am indeed at Kira's." I love it when they refer to the coffee shop by my name!

"Yes Jack, I will tell Kira hello from you," Daniel repeats, looking my way. I mouth 'hello back'.

"Kira says hi as well… I'll talk to you tomorrow, all right?" Long pause as Jack explains something that has Daniel rolling his eyes.

"He has seen that before you know," Daniel starts. Jack obviously interrupts him.

"I don't know, Jack – maybe six times? Can't we see something else?" He holds up a hand to stop Jack from talking. Naturally, as Jack is not in the local vicinity – it doesn't work.

"If Sam agrees, I'll be there," Daniel concedes. "Just give me a call tonight with the when and where. Bye Jack."

"Jack says hi" Daniel says, as he picks up his coffee.

"So I heard. How's he doing?"

"Jack?" Daniel says absently. "Oh Jack's fine. Jack's pretty much always fine." I'm definitely hearing something weird in his voice at the mention of Jack's name, but I'll leave it alone.

"And Sam?"

"Weird, classified story, Kira," Daniel replies candidly, as he takes a drink of his coffee. God, I love the fact that for some things he doesn't even try to make things up!

"Jack's arranging for a 'team night' this evening to cheer Sam up. Pizza and movies."

"That should be fun."

"Mmmm hmmm," Daniel replies noncommittaly. He takes a moment and looks around the near empty store. "Is there anyone who can watch the counter for a few minutes?" I give him an odd look.

"Sure. Hold on a sec." I head to the back and grab Louise away from her bean counting (okay, weekly inventory sheets). It's pretty much time for my break anyhow. I make myself an Italian soda and lead Daniel to the back of the shop.

"What's up?" I ask as we sit down.

"Actually Kira, I was going to ask you that." Huh?


"I wasn't kidding when I asked you if you're all right," Daniel begins. "There is definitely something bothering you." Observant much?

"Just a little pre-graduation blues Daniel," I say casually. "It isn't a big deal."

"You don't graduate until next spring, right?" Daniel asks. I nod. Suddenly, I really don't feel like talking about this.

"And your classes are going all right?" He knows they are as he edits at least one of my papers per term. I always share the grade received with him. The professors think I'm a rock star (I'm pretty certain this is due to Daniel).

"Classes are going great, Daniel." I hear the desire to stop talking about this in my own voice; I know Daniel can hear it as well.

"So what's the problem, Kira?" Daniel asks softly looking at me with eyes nearly as gorgeous as Kyle's. I nearly lose it right there - He really does want to help.

"It's silly really," I begin in babble mode as I take off my glasses and rub my eyes. "I was hanging out with Kyle the other night and he said something. And then I couldn't stop thinking about it… And then I began to look at what I've done for the last five years…"

"Kira, breathe," Daniel orders. "Take a deep breath and just tell me what's wrong." I take his advice. I breathe in and out a few times, take another sip of my drink and then lay it all out on the table.

"Daniel, I'm 23 years old and am going to be graduating in less than a year with a Masters in Ancient History and Languages. And I haven't a damn clue what I'm going to do with it!" I say angrily. "My resume looks like crap because I've been merrily working in a coffee shop for the last 4 ½ years and I haven't any idea of where I want to go, or what I want to do with all of this!" I visibly slump in my chair now that I've bared my soul and voiced my fears aloud.

"Daniel, I want.. I need to work in a job that is meaningful and challenging," I say calming down a bit. "And I realize now that I'm not going to find it here working at Victors.." Apparently, I had been talking to my drink for the last 30 seconds or so, for now I look up. And there's Daniel giving me one of his patented smiles.

"Was it ever your plan to work at Victors for the rest of your life?"

"Of course not!" I reply. I mean Victor is great and all, but usually after you get the advanced degree, you tend to head away from retail.


"Kira, there is nothing wrong with having held a steady job while attending school for the past four years." Well, when he says it like that.

"But, I'm a barista Daniel!" I reply. "Outside of the ability to make a mean cup of coffee from a handful of beans and a French press."

"A very useful skill for a budding linguist and historian," Daniel adds.

"Right!" I say sarcastically.

"Kira, I'm serious!" Daniel insists. "You're a scholar. And scholars tend to keep strange hours. I'm not kidding when I say I think your experience here at Victors won't be the albatross you're envisioning.

"Maybe," I concede. "But it still doesn't help me figure out what I'm going to do when I graduate."

"What do you want to do?" I resist rolling my eyes. If I knew that Daniel, I wouldn't be in this state!

"All I know is that I adore languages and culture. I like the dead ones more than the live ones, as there's more mystery to be found there."

"Sounds like you should be taking some archaeology classes!" Daniel says smiling.

"No - no, you just don't get it, Daniel." I reply in exasperation. "Archaeologists spend hours and hours sifting through dirt, sand and worthless artifacts until they find the items that they need for their research. They pull together puzzle pieces from a gazillion different mediums." I shake my head - I know I'm not making any sense.

"What I like- what I love, is to be given fragments, specifically linguistic fragments, and combine those fragments with known oral and written histories. Through those, I can come up with complete story." Daniel gives me one of those looks again - a cross between, 'you're crazy' and 'you're a genius'.

"That's really want you want?" Daniel asks.

"Yes," I reply emphatically. "That's exactly what I want!" I sigh dramatically and take another sip of my drink. "And you tell me where I can find something like that."

"You might be surprised, Kira." He better not be making fun of me!

"And what does that mean?"

"It means," Daniel insists, "that you need to look outside the box."

"'Outside the box'?" I repeat.

"Yes!" Daniel says nodding. "Start doing what normal academics would do, and apply for internships at organizations or companies you admire. But at the same time, I recommend applying to one or two organizations that you might not think have anything to offer you."

"I'm not going to apply to the Air Force, Daniel," I know Jack is still holding out hope for me, but there is no way I'm going to go into the military.

"I'm not saying you have to, Kira," Daniel insists. "But there might be some other organizations out there just as crazy-sounding as the military. And you just might surprise yourself by seeing what they have to offer."

"You really think so?"

"Absoultely!" Daniel replies. "My name probably won't benefit you all that much, but I'd be happy to write you a letter of recommendation if you like."

"That would be great, Daniel! Thank you." Daniel glances at his watch and shrugs apologetically.

"I have to go, Kira."

"I should be getting back to work, anyhow," I reply. We stand up, and impulsively I throw my arms around Daniel and give him a big hug.

"Thank you."

"You're very welcome," Daniel says giving me a hug in return. "I'll talk to you soon, all right?"

"That is if you aren't trapped in foreign lands with mechanical difficulties," I reply cheekily.

"I think you've been hanging around Jack too long." Daniel mutters, as he exits the store. It is only several minutes later that I realize I hadn't had a chance to ask Daniel what was bothering him.

It's now 1:00 in the morning and I've just finished submitting my resume to three universities, two foundations (one in London!) and an historical research center in Washington D.C. Yes, my CV is rather weak, but I'm hoping my course work and cover letters will at least get me an interview. Best case scenario? An internship that leads into a job. Daniel did mention getting my feet wet.

Now, all that's left is to hit the 'send' button on this one last application. I stare at the screen for several long minutes debating the pros and cons of hitting that innocuous little button. I mean, if Daniel managed to find a job working with the military whose is to say I won't find something similar? What was it Daniel said? 'Think outside the box'.

I don't even smoke, and yet here I am contemplating a cigarette.How can I honestly be considering this?! The screen prompt blinks phlegmatically back at me, offering no answers. I tell myself I'm being silly. I mean that odds of this even making it to someone's desk are.I read the screen again. 'We receive over 3,000 resumes every month.' Okay. The odds are vastly against my getting a phone call, let alone an interview. So what is the harm in applying?

What's the reason for applying? I ask myself.

Because there ain't nothing more outside the box than this! And with that, I hit 'send'.

Within moments the acknowledgement screen appears:

Thank you.

You have successfully posted your resume to the Central intelligence Agency resume database. We will review it against our current hiring requirements. If we find a match between your expertise and our employment needs, one of our recruiters will contact you.

Giggling a little to myself, I save the page and power down my computer. Wait until my friends here about this!

On second thought - maybe this is something I'll keep to myself for the time being.

Completed May 29, 2005

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