Title: Barista 45 -- Vicissitude
Season: 5
Spoilers: I'm Not Saying (you'll be able to figure it out)
Category Nope. I might give too much away.
Rating: See above. Why am I being so enigmatic? See here

Author's Notes: By a 2:1 margin, the voting public have asked for another Kira/Daniel/CIA tale (with a little Jack of course). You all just remember that I bent to The Common Will on this one. There might come a day when I don't.... ;o

It has been 48 hours since I watched that campy Sci-Fi pilot show over at Stefan's, and I'm still pondering over what to say to Daniel. I know one thing for sure – I have to say something. I mean, how can I not? Daniel has been teasing (dare I even think hinting?) about his unorthodox job for years – he can't possibly think my questions are anything weirder than what I see and hear every day.

Or maybe he can. After all, am I really considering…


"I'm listening," I reply automatically, adjusting the telephone to my ear.

"No you're not," Kyle answers tiredly, sounding abjectly disappointed in me. For several seconds there is uncomfortable silence.

Really uncomfortable silence.

"I'm sorry, Kyle," I say honestly, as I mentally curse myself for letting my attention wander. "You know me and telephones…" I told him on our very first date that I wasn't a very good phone person. I just don't see what the big deal is with the damn things. You want to talk to someone; you talk to them in person. And if you can't, you email them.

I never said I was logical.

"I know," Kyle says finally. He sighs and I can feel him shaking his head. "Kira…"

"Don't say it," I reply instantly.

"You don't know what I'm going to say," Kyle says a little defensively.

"Yes, I do." And I do, too. I know exactly what he's going to say, and I don't want to hear it. Not with my mind wrapped around what I'm going to say to Daniel; this whole bizarre CIA thing; figuring out what I'm going to write my dissertation on…


The thought hits me like a ton of bricks. There are several very good and valid reasons for what Kyle is about to say.

I beat him to it.

"I'm sorry Kyle," I begin softly. "You're right – this isn't working. And it's completely my fault." My eyes fill with tears. This conversation might be a foregone conclusion, and it might be the right thing to do, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

"I know you are, Kree," Kyle replies sincerely. I'll say one thing for dating a smart guy – he tends to "get" things far faster than the average Joe. He didn't even try to pretend like he didn't know what I was talking about.

Just like I didn't pretend with him. I wipe at my eyes as they begin to leak.

"You're preoccupied Kira," Kyle explains unnecessarily. "I know you have a lot going on, but I need to know that part of what you spend your day thinking about is me." I want to contradict him, but I can't. "Even when I'm with you Kira, I don't feel like I'm really with you," he continues. "It's like you're a million light years away, trying to figure out how to teach Sumerian to third graders." Okay, now that was stretching it.

I would never attempt to teach Sumerian to third graders.

Before I can give one of my patented, knee-jerk reactions to his (honest) assessment of me, I surprise myself by agreeing with him. "I know."

"I love you Kira, but we're just not in the same place in our lives right now."

"I know." Way to use multi-syllabic words, Kira. I want to say something – anything – but for the life of me, I can't think of a single thing to say.

In any language.

"Goodbye, Kira." I'm still struggling to come up with the perfect, classy line that will make everything just right… when he hangs up.

"You're moping," Stefan says, giving me a friendly nudge on the shoulder.

"I have every reason to mope," I reply, as I systematically take apart the (spare) espresso machine for cleaning. It might have taken me five years, but I can finally take the darn thing apart and put it back together without too much fuss. Cleaning machinery is very therapeutic.

"You know it was the right decision," Stefan says in an attempt to make me feel better.

"Can we talk about something else?" I really don't want to talk about it. I know Stefan is going to push me to do just that, when I'm saved by a bell. Colorado Bell, in fact. Stefan gives me a look that says, 'We're not done, here,' as he picks up the ringing telephone.

"Victor's Coffee," he says pleasantly. I kind of remember the last time I was pleasant…

"Kira?" Stefan repeats, looking at me oddly. "Yeah, she's here. May I tell her who's calling?" I swear, Stefan has the best manners of virtually anyone I know.

Except maybe Daniel…

He listens for a few seconds and his eyes grow large. "Sure, I'll get her for you." He puts the phone on hold and waves me over to him. "You'll want to take this in the back room, Kree," he advises handing me the phone. "It's the CIA."

Surreal doesn't even begin to describe how I feel as I lift up the receiver in the back room. It is 11:00 in the morning here in Colorado Springs, which makes it one-something on the East Coast.


"Kira Meyers?" A voice asks. I don't recognize the voice, and thankfully, don't hear any giggling either. Although I had only told a handful of people about this whole thing, I know it still could have gotten around.

"Speaking." I never say things like this in "real" life, but it just feels right to be saying it to this disembodied voice from Virginia.

"Hi Kira. My name is Judy – we have emailed a few times regarding possible employment with the Central Intelligence Agency?


"You're offering me a job?" I squeek out. A warm chuckle reverberates through the phone.

"Oh no, honey – I'm not the one who does things like that!" Judy replies. I'm calling to see if you are available in two weeks for an in-person interview at the Hyatt Regency in Denver."

"Interview?" My voice sounds a little better, but not much. I can't believe this is happening.

"Yes, the Directorate of Intelligence is doing an interview blitz throughout the Midwest next week, and I'm calling to set up an interview time."

"With me?" I really have to stop saying such vastly intelligent things here…

"Yes, dear," she says smiling (I can hear it in her voice). With you." I don't have my calendar with me; I have no idea what my schedule is either at work or school; Instantly, I tell her I would. We talk logistics for a few minutes and she explains how all of this had been emailed to me last week, but apparently the message had been returned, which is why she was calling me directly. I'm way too stunned to even attempt to guess what might be wrong with my school email account.

I give Judy an alternate email address, and she lets me know that I can call her at any time if I have additional questions.

I'm trying hard not to think about the impending CIA interview. Instead, I'm thinking about Daniel and trying to come up with The Perfect Way to ask him about that television show. I actually don't see him for nearly a week, and do a double-take when he and Jack do appear – they're dressed in fatigues! Now it isn't so odd to see Jack dressed like this, but I've never actually seen Daniel clad in soldier attire, and it completely throws my game plan off kilter. I still have every intension of asking him about the show (and who knows - perhaps there is a very good reason why one of the characters in that God-awful pilot reminded me of him) but first I need to find out why he's dressed like an army guy.

Air Force guy.

"We have plenty of time, Daniel," Jack says as he pushes his friend inside. "You know you want it." I really hope they're talking about coffee here.

"It isn't that I don't want a decent cup of coffee, Jack," Daniel says, catching my eye and smiling. "It's just that I told Sam we'd meet her at 8."

"Carter can explain to the youngsters what to expect," Jack insists, clapping Daniel on the shoulder. "I need caffeine." I chuckle to myself as I hear Jack sounding very Daniel-like. "Besides," Jack says smiling widely, "you're buying."

"I am?" Daniel asks.

"Absolutely!" Jack replies. "We all decided that whoever is the…" Jack pauses for just a nanosecond, "bad guy, and thus has the easier of assignments, has to buy the rest of the team coffee."

"We did?" Daniel asks, frowning. "When did we decide that?"

"Carter, T' and I decided while you were getting cleared by Fraiser."

"Yeah, what's with that, Jack?" Daniel asks, completely ignoring the fact that his team apparently voted him as coffee boy when he wasn't looking. "We're not exactly going far, and we still have to be cleared by Janet? Does that seem right to you?"

"I don't make the rules, Danny, I just follow them." Daniel snorts.

"Right, Jack." Daniel orders their drinks (drip for Jack, double tall Americano for himself) and gives Jack a glinty look. "You know, I think I'm going to enjoy shooting you this afternoon."

"Well maybe I'll just shoot myself and prevent you from having all the fun," Jack replies. Now before I can even begin to decipher this conversation, they both turn (as one!) and look at me.

"Pretend, Kira," Daniel explains. "Our team is training some Air Force recruits today."

"And in this ‘scenario', one of you shoots Jack?" I'm so not understanding this.

"It's a simulation, Kira," Jack explains. "We're trying to gauge how well these kids do during various simulated situations."

"And this one…?"

"This is the one will the Archaeologist gets his revenge and shoots everyone!" Daniel replies almost gleefully.

"I'm having Carter shoot me," Jack mutters. He and Daniel head over to the condiments area. "Kira, do you have any more cream?" Jack asks, holding up an empty carafe. Damn. I knew there was something I needed to do before the morning rush starts.

"Sorry about that Jack," I reply as I quickly pull out some half and half from the fridge. I'm in such a hurry to bring it to him, that I completely forget about our recent delivery of beans (usually delivered in the back, but the new driver was confused and dropped it off in the front), and trip over the bags lying between me and the empty cream canister. Right into and pretty much on top of Daniel.

Déjà vu!

Jack has amazing reflexes, as he catches the cream container before it splats all over the floor, and Daniel (bless him) catches me. I'm not really complaining here (as if being pressed against Daniel is ever a problem), but I did have momentum on my side, and hit him pretty hard.

"Geeze, I'm sorry about that guys," I apologize slowly disentangling myself from Daniel's chest. "Daniel are you all right?"

"I'm fine Kira," Daniel answers in a voice that sounds a little like a cross between Satan and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Instantly, I jump out of his arms and fall back over the bags of coffee. What the hell??

"Daniel?!" I ask, completely freaking out. "What the hell is wrong with your voice?"

"What?" Daniel says, looking completely mystified. I'm contemplating hyper-ventilating now. What is going on, here? Voices are not meant to sound like that!

"Ah dammit, Daniel!" Jack says angrily, reaching into Daniel's jacket. "What the hell are you doing wearing that thing already?" Realization flashes across Daniel's face. He smacks Jack's hand away, and taps at his chest before reaching down to help me up.

"I'm so sorry about that Kira!" Daniel says (in a normal voice, thank God). I look up at him in confusion.

"What's going on, Daniel?"

"Yes, Daniel," Jack repeats. "Explain to Ms. Meyers here why you scared the living crap out of her!" Jack is not a happy camper right now. Neither is Daniel, it seems.

"It's a voice box, Kira," Daniel explains, taking out a little black box. "We're pretty much going to use it to elicit the same reaction out of the recruits as it did to you."

"You're going to scare them into falling backwards over a bag of beans?" I reply shakily. Jack chuckles.

"Maybe not the beans part," Jack adds. "But we are trying to throw them a couple curve balls. We've found that a modulated voice box, combined with certain scenarios tends to bring out the best or worst in recruits. It is a very effective teaching aid." Effective for whom?

I'm still a bit shaken, but decide to use this (this being my discombobulation and their obvious guilt) to my advantage.

"Daniel?" I ask as he helps me to my feet.


"Have you ever seen or heard of a television show called ‘Wormhole X-Treme'? Much to my surprise, it is Jack that looks a little taken back.

"You saw that?!" Jack asks.

"Yeah," I reply. Yet again, I am completely confused. "You saw it as well?" I thought for sure (well, maybe) Daniel was somehow involved, but I sure didn't think Jack was!

"Jack was Wormhole's ‘Technical Advisor'," Daniel says doing the whole bunny ear quote thing.

"You worked on that show, Jack?"

"Very briefly," Jack replies hastily, as if embarrassed by the whole thing. Which he probably is. I look back and forth between Jack and Daniel and don't understand what I'm seeing. Jack is the one who looks uncomfortable, not Daniel. Now, why would Jack be uncomfortable?

Then I get it.

"You're responsible!" I say, pointing at Jack. "Now, it makes sense!"

"What makes sense?" Jack asks, looking confused.

"You're the reason why that one character, that Dr. Levant guy, looks so much like Daniel."

"I am?" Jack asks. Now it's Daniel's turn to chuckle.

"Oh you caught that, did you?" Daniel says.

"Caught what?" Jack asks. Jack really needs to drink his coffee – he's a bit slow on the uptake this morning.

"Kira caught the similarity in the Dr. Levant character and myself," Daniel explains, slowly, to Jack.

"Why is everyone saying that?!" Jack moans. "That Nick guy looks nothing like me…"

"Kira is talking about me Jack," Daniel interrupts. "You know, archaeologist, linguist, works with the military…"

"Only instead of helping them out around here, apparently you do it on other worlds!" I'm cracking myself up here.

"So you saw some similarities between Daniel and that Levant guy," Jack repeats.

"Yep," I reply, nodding.

"Damn. And here I thought I was being subtle," Jack continues.

"Ha!" I exclaim. "You can't be subtle when you're talking about sending an archaeologist through a wormhole, Jack!"

"No," Jack says wryly, "I guess I can't." Daniel just stands there shaking his head.

"Kira, I'd love to know more about what you thought of the show," Daniel says, "but we need to get going."

"Yes. Going," Jack repeats. "Have recruits to scare and all that."

"Don't be too mean, Jack." I turn towards Daniel. "And try not to talk too much with that thing on, Daniel," I say. "It's pretty damn creepy."

"I'll try not too," Daniel says. I walk them to the door. They're already several yards down the street when I realize something.

"Daniel!" I shout after him. He turns back towards me.

"What is it, Kira?" Maybe it's for the best that all of this is rushed – no chance for Daniel to ask questions.

"Would you be a reference for me on a job application?" I ask in one breath. Daniel grins.

"Absolutely, Kira! I promise to say nothing but wonderful things about you!"

"That's great," I reply feeling a little guilty. "I'll tell you all about it the next time you come in."

"I look forward to it, Kira," Daniel says.

Good thing one of us does.

The interview is scheduled for 9:00 on a Thursday, with an Information Session to be held the evening before. I borrow a friend's car and drive up to Denver early Wednesday morning. I actually looked into staying at the Hyatt Regency to ensure that I get to everything on time. However, the cost of just a single night in that place, is nearly what I earn a week at Victors (part time, remember). I'm sticking to the original plan and staying with my aunt and uncle in Englewood. I'll commute the twenty minutes or so needed to get into Denver in the morning.

The ride up is uneventful, and I surprise myself by listening to classical music on the drive up (it was in the tape deck). I'm actually somewhat calm and feel pretty confident, as I take the proper exit and head into the city. I pay $10 and park in a nice secure lot with large spaces; there is no way I'm going to attempt to parallel park in a car that is not even my own – especially today.

I'm early of course, and as much as I want to head to The Tattered Cover (one of the best bookstores ever), I know that isn't the best of ideas. Besides, I'm really not near either of their stores. Can you imagine showing up late with the excuse that you lost track of time because you were browsing in a bookstore? I shudder at the thought, lock the doors and head towards the most comfortable place I know – a coffee shop.

It is very strange to be a "professional" barista in another shop. Dressed in my somewhat casual (the fancy one is for tomorrow) power suit, I know I must look like one of the business workers in the area. To make matters worse, I don't actually like coffee, so while I am finding comfort in the smell and all around chaos of the place, I can't just order a coffee and loiter. Instead, I order an iced tea. I accept my drink, tip the Barista and grab a seat next to a window in the corner. Within seconds I'm a combination bored/nervous. I take out my phone and call Stefan.

"I'm here," I say as he answers the phone.

"Any problems with the drive up?"

"Naaa," I reply shaking my head.

"Nervous?" I guffaw loudly in his ear.

"What do you think?" I ask.

"I think you reapplied anti-perspirant right as you exited the car, and are currently wondering if perhaps you shouldn't have chosen a different pair of shoes other than the Birkenstocks."

"I am not wearing Birkenstocks," I reply hotly. I actually changed out of the Birks as I left the car. I'm wearing ever so fashionable (and practical) sandals now. He's right about the deodorant though.

"Uh huh," Stefan replies. I can hear him grinning through the phone. "You'll do fine Kira," he says sincerely. "Just don't ask too many questions, try not to fidget, and whatever you do, don't pick your nose."

"Stefan!" Several people turn around at my outburst. "You're incorrigible," I remark, lowering my voice.

"Happily so," Stefan replies. "I have to go now, Kree – you'll do fine, don't worry about it."

"Thanks, Stefan," I answer feeling a little choked up. My friends rock. "I'll call you tomorrow after the interview."

"You'd better!" he insists. "Otherwise, I might sic Elliott on you." I'm smiling as we say our goodbyes.

I loiter for another thirty minutes, watching the baristas interact with "their" customers. I feel a twinge of something I can't quite articulate as I realize that sometime in the next year, I'm going to be leaving this job job I love. By choice, of course, but I know I'm going to have to. As much as I adore Victor and the shop and all the wonderful folks I work with – my future doesn't belong in coffee. Feeling a bit sad and nostalgic, I head across the street towards the Regency.

The first thing I notice as I nervously find the proper room and step inside is that there are no 'men in black'. In fact, most of the CIA staff present are women and they look quite normal in their pant suits. They're all older than I am, but are smiling and walking around introducing themselves to the other candidates. I give my name to the woman at the door (not Judy) and find a seat in the back row of the bank of tables. There are maybe ten other students/candidates in the room and it sounds like many of them are from CU. I feel like a country cousin.

The information session begins and once again, we are told how many applications the Central Intelligence Agency receives every month, and why all of us sitting in this room are possible candidates for intelligence work.

The hairs on my arms stand up as she says that.

The woman giving the presentation tells us a bit about her background and using Power Point slides, begins to give us a structural overview of the CIA. Everyone in the room are candidates to work for the DI – the Directorate of Intelligence. The DI, DST (Directorate of Science and Technology) and DO (Directorate of Operations) all report to the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence). Complete acronym soup!

I am so glad they didn't peg me for work in the DO. Those are the guys that go on "ops" and do all the scary things in foreign countries. A little light bulb flickers briefly in the back of my head. Hmmm – that sounds like something Jack would do.

The presenter goes on to tell us how the DI is divided into three main regional sections: Asia, Latin America & Africa; Near Eastern and South Asia; and Russia & Europe. Each of those areas has eight functional offices: terrorism, counter intelligence, weapons/intel/non-proliferation, crime & narcotics, information operations, collection strategies & analysis, chemical & biological, and transitional issues.

I'm taking detailed notes and wonder where they want to stick me. I mean, they must have to have some idea based on my skills and writing sample, yes?

The presentation continues with discussion on how much we'd get paid (salary is based on education and language skills). I follow this part with interest. Apparently, once I get my degree, I should be a ‘GS-9' and depending on how many other languages I know (and if they're useful), I can receive up to $35,000 extra. My eyes nearly bulge out of my head right there. In theory, I could start working for them at $75,000.

Currently I make $18,000 and owe $25,000 in school loans.

We learn a little about what our day would be like working for the DCI and I am really surprised by how much cooperation there seems to be between agencies. Several different people come up and talk to us about their day-to-day experiences and it's pretty damn cool! One woman explained how she had worked for a year or so in the Latin American group, when one day she received a phone call (at home) at 3:00 in the morning, informing her that there had been a coup, and they needed some intelligence from her. Well, you aren't allowed to bring anything classified home with you (and of course can't talk about it on an un-secured line), so she had to head back into work to gather the data needed by the folks in the field. Almost three "nights" in a row, she would head home, only to be told that she was needed back at work. International security! Wow. I can't even imagine working on something so important. I have to admit, that alone makes it sound very worthwhile.

We take a quick break, and then the presentation on Security Clearance begins. The security officer quickly cuts to the chase and give us all the bad news first - getting top-secret clearance is not easy. It's not only intrusive and time consuming. It can take up to nine months for clearance! She also tells us about drugs. Now, everyone in the room had said, a) "No I haven't smoked pot in the last 12 months" and b) "No I haven't done drugs in the last seven years. Well, apparently, statistically speaking, two of us are lying! How's that for nutty?

She goes on to tell us about 'SF86' (the standard security form) and how we will be checked out by all the national security agencies, as well as having a very detailed history of our credit report pulled. There will of course be a polygraph and fingerprint session, and they will talk to both our formal references as well as "other sources" we might know you.

I think I'm nervous about those "other sources".

But the part that really makes me stop and think is this: If I am offered a position with the CIA, and if I accept, I pretty much lose my privacy for the duration of my employment with them. Anytime I go visit a friend outside the US, I have to let them know. If I meet someone "outside the Agency" for coffee or racquetball or something – I have to let someone know. I am not allowed to volunteer my time for a political party/person and I can't publish anything related to my field without going through a rather arduous review process.

And all my friends will be checked out as well.

I'm a little more somber as I leave the conference room and head back to the car. I really am excited about the type of work I might be allowed to do with them, but on the other hand, I'd have to work in Virginia. All first year new hires are required to do so, and there are no exceptions. All my friends would be "checked out" and then I would leave them! And I really don't know how I feel about not being able to publish outside of the Agency… I wonder if Daniel had to go through any of this when he accepted a position with the military. I mean, it might not be "top secret" clearance, but I bet Daniel had to sign a few forms and such. Lord knows there are plenty of things he isn't allowed to tell me about. On second thought – maybe he does have 'top secret' clearance. Maybe that's why he can't tell me anything.

Maybe Daniel and Jack actually work for the CIA!

I laugh at myself as I reach the car and unlock the door. Right Kira. Both Jack and Daniel work for a top-secret government organization inside a mountain in central Colorado.

And pigs fly.

More Author's Musings: {rubs hands together in anticipation} Well?? Did you like? And just look at the length of this puppy!! I don't think I'll be sitting in on Kira's interview, but you'll hear about it in other ways. {knowing grin}

Show of hands here – how many knew what 'vicissitude' meant without looking it up? For those who haven't/didn't/was going to do so later (and are curious), one of the definitions for 'vicissitude' [vi-si-tood] is: "One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings". Seems like a good fit, yes?

For those interested, you can see an actual, honest to goodness organization chart of the U.S. Intelligence network here. Scary isn't it? The Directorate of Central Intelligence (DCI) is at the top. *laughs* I swear I do not work for them!

Serious note – In "real" time, 9/11 took place sometime between Wormhole X-treme and Proving Ground. This means that Kira's interview was more than likely after 9/11; in the next story, you'll even hear Daniel refer to it. However, the subject matter surrounding the terrorists attacks in the United States is just too complicated (and painful) for me to write a story around. Just pretend I'm an actual SG writer…

The next chapter is pretty much writing itself - I should post within a week!

Completed August 5, 2005

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