Title: The Barista 43 - Harbingers
Season: 5
Category: General, Angst & Humor
Episode Related: 511 - Desperate Measures
Rating: PG-13 (Stefan. Need I say more?)
Author's Notes: This one is short, but I'll be posting the sequel in the next couple of days. I swear, i'll try!

Notes Addendum: Last title change. Promise!

"They emailed me again," I say conversationally as Stefan and I go through the closing checklist.

"The Feds?" he asks, putting on his new "Best of Queen" CD. I look at the cover; maybe this one is "The Very Best of Queen" - I get them confused.

"I think that's only for the FBI," I say as I empty the coffee pots. It still feels a little strange to be talking to him about this. After the second email, I told myself I couldn't keep it all in (ah man, that's a Queen line, isn't it?) and told Stefan, Jeanne and Louise all about my impulsive application and the shocking series of events that followed.

It hasn't escaped my notice that I haven't told Kyle yet. I quickly shove that thought to the back on my mind, as I'm just not prepared to dwell on the Kyle Question right now.

"You'll never get it, Kira," Stefan says with authority. I raise an eyebrow.

"So you're an expert at governmental agencies as well as business management?" Stefan doesn't like anyone to know, but he has been slyly working on his MBA in the evenings for the past two years. Victor is so impressed, that he's bumped him up to full Manager, and I wouldn't be surprised if the have some secret coffee shop deal brewing behind the scenes. Stefan just shakes his head (he really doesn't like to talk about his pending degree).

"You're too damn smart, Kree," Stefan explains sagely. "You're going to see through all that slick party line bullshit and come to your senses.

Stefan isn't too keen on my joining the Central Intelligence Agency. Heck, I'm not so sure I'm keen on the notion either.

"There are plenty of smart people who work for the CIA," I argue. "And they aren't political!" Stefan just scoffs; I don't think he agrees with me. I'm about to tell him what they wanted from me this time (original research paper to go with my grades and signed affidavit that I haven't taken drugs in the last seven years), when I hear someone wrapping on the outside window. I turn around expecting some 9-to-5'er trying to get one last cup of coffee before heading home, when I catch sight of one casually dressed, but rather intense-looking Colonel Jack O'Neill.

I'm worried before I even get to the front door.

"I know you're closed, Kira," Jack says without preamble as I unlock the front door. He nods to Stefan and gently pulls me off to one side.

"Have you seen Sam?" He asks quietly, looking down at me with unreadable brown eyes.

Wow. He has some seriously nice-looking eyes.

"Sam Carter?" I ask just to make sure we're talking about the same person. To the best of my knowledge, Jack only knows one Sam, but I've never heard Jack call her anything but 'Carter', and needed to make sure. Daniel assures me that his calling Sam by her last name is a weird (but necessary) military thing.

"Yes. Sam Carter," he replies, sounding a little exasperated. "Have you seen her?"

"Recently?" Jack nods, and looks at me with an unreadable expression - yet another phrase I never thought was possible before now. "She and Daniel came by last week," I begin, before casting my eyes regretfully downwards. "But I haven't seen her since." Jack's face visibly falls with the news. "What happened to Sam, Jack?"

"She's missing," Jack replies in a clipped voice. "She was last seen at her gym two days ago, and no one has heard from her since."

"Any leads?" I chide myself as soon as the words are out of my mouth. Leads? Who uses words like that outside of police drama shows?

"Nothing," Jack replies soberly. "Daniel is checking the west end of town, and I'm doing the east."

"If I see or hear of anything Jack, I'll give you a call." After all, his phone number in my locker doesn't have to be exclusively for Daniel.

"That would be great, Kira," Jack replies already mentally checking off the coffee shop and thinking about the next place he should look (at least that's how it seemed to me).

"Good luck, Jack," I say sincerely. "I hope Sam shows up safe and well soon."

"Me too, Kira," Jack replies as he opens the door and softly shuts it behind him. He hasn't gone more then two paces before his cell phone is out and to his ear - I never even saw him dial. I wonder if he's calling Daniel. I stare at Jack through the window for several seconds as my mind whirls with dozens of horrible scenarios as to what might have happened to Sam. I silently send off good wishes for her safe return. I feel rather than hear Stefan behind me and turn back around, determined to get the final word in this time.

"Plenty of smart people work for the CIA."

I'm not surprised when I don't hear anything about Sam's fate for several days. Just when I'm starting to get a little worried (okay, a lot), Daniel shoots me an email and lets me know that Sam has been found. No details of course, but I learn that she is back at Cheyenne Mountain, safe and sound. Well, I don't know about sound - Daniel's email was rather terse, but she is back where she needs to be.

I am a little surprised a few days later when Jack and Daniel show up with Jack's arm in a sling. Without even realizing it (and completely against my will I might add), I find myself smiling.

"Hey, what's so funny?" Jack asks, as Daniel opens the door for him. Jack grudgingly grunts a thank you as they walk over to where I'm working the counter.

"I'm curious as to what excuse you'll use," I say in complete honesty. I know I'm not going to get the truth, and it's starting to get interesting to hear the stories they come up with.

"I was shot," Jack says succinctly. I look him in the eye and blanch. Holy crap, he's telling the truth!

"Oh my God, Jack - I'm so sorry!" I stutter. "I had no idea..." Jack holds up a hand to stop my mea culpa-ing.

"It happens," he says shrugging nonchalantly. Or at least trying to shrug nonchalantly.

"Actually, it happens a lot," Daniel adds helpfully. Jack gives him a dirty look.

"Not that often Daniel."

"I'm pretty sure you've been shot more times than I have, Jack."

"Maybe with a gun..." Jack begins.

"As opposed to what, Jack?" Daniel taunts. I can do nothing but watch them like a ping-pong match and wonder if they're ever serious. Jack glares at his friend and says nothing.

"So, Sam is all right?" I ask, breaking the silence.

"Sam's going to be just fine," Daniel says. Jack still has a vaguely haunted look in his eye, but he nods in agreement.

"Carter can pull through anything," Jack adds quietly. Well, there isn't much to argue on that, now is there?

I make their coffees; Daniel going for one of Stefan's disgustingly sweet macadamia nut mochas and Jack a tall drip.

"Could you leave a little room in it, Kira?" Jack asks, as he awkwardly reaches into his baggy khakis for his wallet.

"Want me to put some steamed milk in there, Jack?"

"Um," Jack replies, without looking up from his one-handed fishing trip for his wallet. "It isn't for milk." He glances up at Daniel as if daring him to contradict him. Daniel just rolls his eyes and reaches into his back pocket.

"Hey, it's your body, Jack," Daniel replies as he pulls out his own wallet. "You know as well as I do that Janet will be able to tell in less than a second if you've been drinking alcohol - it's completely none of my concern."

"Like the attitude, Daniel," Jack mutters, as he fumbles the wallet and it drops back down his pants.

"I got it, Jack," Daniel begins, as he opens his billfold and takes out a ten.

"There's no way you're reaching into my pants, Daniel," Jack remarks, as he concentrates on retrieving his wallet. I nearly die right there. Jack has no idea that Daniel was offering to pay not fetch! Daniel is turning a little red, and soundlessly replaces the bills in his wallet and walks over towards the concession stand; Jack appears to be completely oblivious as to what just happened. "Got it!" he declares holding up his wallet in victory.

He pays for the drinks as the door opens and Stefan walks through the door. Poor man. He missed the lines of a lifetime by just moments! I wonder if I'll tell him...

"Dr. J, Colonel," Stefan says in greeting, as he gives them a little five-fingered wave and heads towards the back room. "Kree, come see me as soon as they're gone," he whispers as he passes me.

I say goodbye to my favorite guys, and after making sure Karen (she's new) is okay by herself, head into the backroom.

"What's up?" I ask Stefan as he slips the apron over his head.

"What are you doing tomorrow night?" Stefan asks all too cheerful. It takes me a moment to work out that tomorrow is Friday. Kyle is out of town at some conference or something...

"Not much," I confess. I really should do something about that.

"Good!" Stefan slaps his hands together in glee. "You're coming over to my apartment."

"I am?"

"You are."

"Any particular reason?" I ask. Evenings with Stefan tend to be...interesting.

"You, Ms. Meyers, are going to be one of six Colorado preview screeners for a pilot television show!"

"I am?" I ask dubiously. What kind of show? For what kind of network? If this is one of those touchy feely ones...

"Oh yeah!" Stefan replies merrily, as he ties the apron snuggly across his hips.

"You'll love it!" he promises. "It's a science fiction show, and I know you have a thing for aliens." Hey! I don't have a thing for aliens! I mean, just because I think they exist. Somewhere...

"So help me Stefan, if this is another show about some testosterone-charged space captain and his love affairs on other planets..."

"You'll love it!" Stefan promises again, as he heads out to the floor. "Festivities begin at 7 PM sharp tomorrow - bring wine!"

Sighing, I wonder how I manage to get myself roped into such things. Maybe I should bring two bottles of wine.

The first one I'll share, but the second one will be all for me.

Author's Notes: I actually intended to write one long Barista here, but the first part (pre/post Measures) ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. Knowing that the next one will probably be both long and funny, I thought it best to break them up. Don't worry, I'll post the follow-up very soon!

Completed July 6, 2005

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