Title: The Barista- Complete Season 2
Author: dietcokechic
Email: dietcokechic@hotmail.com
Category: Drabble, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, MissingScene/Epilogue
Season: Season 2
Rating: PG
Warnings: Some language
Summary: Life as seen through the eyes of Daniel's Barista- All 11 Season 2 vignettes

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).

09- O'Malleys
Spoilers: After the Season 2 opener, The Serpent's Lair

I still can't believe I am actually inside. I mean, it isn't like O'Malleys is a major pick up joint or anything, but it IS an over 21 establishment and here I am sitting comfortably at a bar ordering a White Russian. My first drink at a real bar.

I of course try to look cool.

"Kira!" I turn around to see my friends Lynn and Rachel pushing their way through the crowd.

"You made it!" Lynn says giving me a big smile.

"Geeze Lynn, can you be more obvious?" Rach interrupts in a stage whisper.

I laugh. See, technically I wasn't supposed to be here yet. Here being a bar. At least not for another 4 months or so.

"You did good with your hair Kira," Lynn says giving me the once over. Instead of brushing my unruly mop of dark curls into a ponytail, I had decided to wear it down in an attempt to make me look older. Not certain if it was the hair or ID that got me in, but I still felt pretty damn proud of myself.

"Come on- show," Rachel says accepting her Cosmopolitan and giving the bartender a huge smile. Man, she hadn't even been in the place more than 5 minutes and already she was flirting. The girl is good.

I take out my ID and Rachel examines it carefully before handing it over to Lynn. The funny thing is, the ID is 100% legitimate, complete with holograms and everything. Real, just not American.

"And they just accepted it as is?" Lynn asked incredulously.

"Sure." I say shrugging. "It's a real ID Lynn. Just not a Colorado license." I could see the girls wanted a bit more. I motion them to lean in. "You know my birthday is December 5th, right?" Both nod. "Well, in Europe dates are read day first and then month. So my student ID card from when I lived abroad reads 05.12.1977. To you and me this looks like May 12th . All I had to do was lay on a heavy Hebrew accent and say I don't like going out with my passport." I pick up my glass and drain my drink. "Piece of cake."

They look impressed.

We sit at the bar for another 30 minutes before deciding to take a seat at a table. White russians apparently give me quite an appetite. Who knew? Right after we are seated, Lynn and Rachel get up to use the restroom. I can SO understand were guys get the silly idea that women can't go to the bathroom by themselves. Geeze.

I am nursing a new fruity (and alcoholic) drink when I hear a familiar voice directly behind me.

"Where the heck is he?" Colonel Jack grouses (hopefully not to himself).

"Daniel said he'd be here at 7 Sir. It's only 7:15." Ah, that must be Captain Sam.

"I better call and see if he's ok." Jack sounds a little worried - his tone of voice actually freaks me out a little. Had Daniel been in an accident? Again? I surreptitiously move myself over one chair so I can actually see them a little. Yes, I was spying. Happy?

"Sir," Captain Sam says, placing her hand on Jack's. "I'm sure he's fine and on his way." She gives him a look I can't quite decipher.

"Yeah, I know," Jack says rubbing a hand roughly across his face. "It's just..."

"I know," Sam agrees quietly. The mood that hangs over that table is nearly palatable.

"So..." Jack says picking up his beer. "What are we celebrating again Captain?" I can't quite tell, but I think he is looking damn right mischievous. Sam chuckles.

"Successful simulation of catastrophic collisions in space." I nearly spit my drink out. What?!

"Quite a mouthful," Jack says nodding.

"Sir, I still say we should have gone to your place for this."

"Ah lighten up Captain," Jack insists as he pushes Sam's drink closer to her. "I don't know about you, but I sure worked up a hell of an appetite simulating catastrophic collisions." I SWEAR I can see the quotation marks around that statement. "Doesn't a nice steak dinner sound better than a take out pizza?" Sam sighs.

"Yeah it does. And I AM hungry. Can't actually remember the last time I had a decent meal."

"Simulations burn a hell of a lot of calories."

Sam snorts loudly. "You got that right."

A waitress walks around to their table and asks if they were ready to order. Jack replies that they are waiting for a friend but he'd have a whiskey.

"Captain?" Jack queries. "A drink?"

"I am drinking Sir." Jack waves his hand to indicate a beer was not considered a real drink.

"Ah come on Carter, we're celebrating."

"I'm fine with my beer sir."



"I'll give you a 2:1 handicap, how's that?"

"Sir, are you challenging me to a drinking contest?!" Sam asks incredulously.

"Yup." I could see the Colonel's twinkling eyes from here.

"Sir, you really don't want to do this."

"2:1 Carter. Good odds."

"You'll lose Sir." Sam says this very matter of factly.

"Prove it." Jack challenges draining his beer. I can see a thousand thoughts flashing through Sam's mind. She tilts her head slightly with a 'what the hell' attitude and turns towards the waitress.

"Jack Daniels. Neat."

"Now you're talking Carter!" Jack says beaming.

"This is so not a good idea Sir. But like you said, we're celebrating."

"Damn straight!"

I spy my friends exiting the restroom and quickly move myself back to my original location. My eavesdropping comes to an abrupt end as a group of rather loud (and cute) college guys are seated on the other side of our table. Ah well, probably for the best. We order our food and I soon forget about Colonel Jack and Captain Sam. The conversation naturally shifts towards the physical attributes of the hunky boys across from us. Always a pleasing conversation.

We have just begun eating when suddenly I hear his voice. Daniel's that is.

"Hi guys." Dang! My back is still turned; I can't see a damn thing.

"Space monkey!" Jack shouts a bit too loudly scooting his chair backwards. I take a quick glance behind me and see Jack pulling Daniel into a big bear hug. He's grinning like he's just discovered his long lost brother. I can't help but smile as I quickly turn back around towards my friends; they're watching the scene as well.

"Ah Jack?" Daniel says sounding a bit muffled. "Public place? Oxygen needed?"

"Oops sorry Danny." I hear sounds of chairs moving. Everyone must be seated again.

"Guys? What's with all the empty glasses?"

"Colonel 'Great Idea' here challenged me to a drinking contest." Sam explains slurring her words ever so slightly. "I'm winning!"

"Are not."

"Am too."


"I get the idea guys." Daniel interrupts. My friends are smiling widely. Apparently Daniel and his friends are quite entertaining. Don't I know it!

"You sure that's such a good idea Jack?" Daniel asks.

"Absolutely!" Jack says. I hear the sound of a glass hitting the table. He probably just finished his drink.

"After all, it isn't everyday you..." He pauses searching for the right words. "Help me out here Captain."

"Successfully stimulate a catastrophic space collision." Jack guffaws loudly.

"You said stimulate!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"I get the idea." Daniel says drolly. As I listened to them banter back and forth I couldn't help but wonder about that 'catastrophic space collision'. Last night there had been two huge flashes of light high over the western hemisphere. No one was quite certain what had happened but there was a lot of speculation. I had heard everything from asteroid collision to alien invasion. I wonder if Cheyenne Mountain had anything to do with it?

The college boys suddenly got much louder and our focus was turned away from Colonel Jack, Sam and Daniel and over towards the hunks across the room. As entertaining (and cute!) as I find Daniel and Jack, they are not guys I could seriously date or anything. College seniors are much more attainable.

It was at least an hour (and two drinks later) that I found myself staggering upright towards the bathroom. Unlike my two friends, I don't need a buddy when I head to the loo.

"Get us a pitcher of beer on the way back Kira!" Lynn calls over her shoulder. I nod. Beer. Right. I think perhaps I shall stick to water from this point forward. I was wasted.

I had just managed to squirm my way up to the bar when I literally ran into him. Him of course being Daniel.

"Oops. Sorry Daniel," I say contritely.

"Know you?" Daniel asks looking at me blankly. I think he meant to say 'Do I know you?' I guess Daniel has played a little catch-up in the alcohol consumption department. He's either very far ahead or completely behind; the guy is blitzed.

"It's me Daniel. Kira. From the coffee shop?" He looks at me critically for several moments before a smile creeps across his face. Recognition.

"Kira!" He says giving me a big hug and lifting me up into the air. Whoa. Daniel-hug. The guy is a hell of a lot stronger than he looks. And he's wearing a thin shirt. A shirt so thin I can actually feel the muscles on his chest and arms. Oh god, he's just supplied fantasy fodder for the next week.

"Hey Daniel." I squeak out. Just don't drool Kira. No drooling. He puts me down.

"Whatcha doing here?" He asks.

"Drinking?" I offer.

"Me too!" He says tappinig his chest. I laugh. Daniel suddenly reaches out and touches my hair. He quickly snatches his hand back.

"I like your hair," he says simply still staring at me.

"Thanks." Was Daniel coming on to me? I mean it was one thing for me to worship him from afar, but I wasn't really prepared to have him actually LIKE me.

"Sharay has hair just like yours." Sharay? Who's that? Funny sounding name.

Before Daniel can explain I spy Jack's tall figure coming towards us. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt he looks nearly as delectable as Daniel. I really should stop thinking these things.

The last time I had seen Colonel Jack, he'd been well on his way to drunkenness, but he appeared to be walking without any noticeable sway. Guess the guy could hold his liquor. Wonder how Captain Sam was doing....

"Daniel!" Jack calls out as he approaches his friend from behind.

"Look Jack, it's Kira!" Daniel says gleefully, as he 'introduces' me.

"Hi Kira!" Jack says cheerfully. He might be intoxicated, but he definitely wasn't drunk. Not like Daniel. Oh, that man was so going to hurt in the morning. I open my mouth to say hi when suddenly Jack whips his head back around and looks me straight in the eyes.

"Kira?" Jack asks pointedly, "How old are you?" Uh oh. Jack is a
Colonel in the United States Air Force. I think he might be able to
arrest me or something.

"Uh, 21?" Can't hurt to try, right?

"Hmmm." Jack says continuing to stare at me with those VERY penetrating eyes of his. Whoa.

"You here by yourself?"

"With friends."

"Male or female?" It suddenly occurs to me that I am being interrogated. Wow.


"So you're not slobbering all over some pimply-faced, hormone infested goon?" Jack asks still serious. I can't help it- I laugh. I suddenly realize what the Colonel is doing - He's acting like a dad.

"Nope." I say shaking my head. Not tonight anyhow...

"Taking a cab home of course." He says this as a statement, not a question.

"Yes Sir." I say giving him a salute. Cheeky Meyers. Very cheeky. Jack smiles.

"Good!" He turns his attention back towards Daniel.

"Carter just called the cabs Daniel."

"Look Jack!" Daniel says patting Jack's hand to get his attention, "Kira has hair just like Sharay's." He stares at my head intensely with a vacant gaze. The guy is a million miles away.

"Ah Danny," Jack says sounding a bit sad. "Tonight you're supposed to be a happy drunk, not a melancholy one."

"Not melon.. melank.." Daniel slapped his hand down on the bar and shakes his head. "Not sad Jack." And it's true. He doesn't really look sad, just drunk and a little thoughtful. Still don't know who this Sharay person is though.

"Ah, gotta ask guys." I say looking from one to the other. "Who's Sharay?"

"My wife." Daniel says simply. Jack frowns.

"Ah, it's complicated Kira," Jack explains, hoping to change the subject. He can see the shock written all over my face.

"Ya don't look a thing like her Kira," Daniel clarifies, leaning in closer to me. He smells like beer and aftershave. Really nice aftershave.

"But your hair..." He reaches back out to touch my hair and Jack quickly grabs his hand and guides it back down towards the bar.

"Daniel, we gotta go hook back up with Carter."

"Ok." Daniel says amicably. They stand up to go.

"Kira, you make sure you take a cab home, ok?" I nod. "Alone." He gives me a a very stern look. I again give a sloppy salute.

"Yes Sir Colonel Dad Sir." Somewhere in the back of my mind I realize I have just called Jack 'dad'. Oops. Jack just grins.

"G'night Kira," Daniel calls, giving me a small wave as Jack leads him through the crowd towards the door. I can see Sam leaning against the wall waiting for them. Idly I wondered who had won their drinking contest.

I smile to myself and shake my head as I order another pitcher of beer. I have decided I like this pub. I am definitely going to return to O'Malleys again.

Just as soon as I turn 21.

10- Explanations

My evening out at O'Malley's had several unforeseen consequences. The first being that I decided it was probably best to store my European ID and stick to a Colorado license for the time being. I'm really not afraid of getting in trouble at a bar, but having Colonel Jack O'Neill upset at me is something I just plum don't want. The second has to do with Daniel and his mysterious wife. Married! It's such an odd concept- one I just cann't seem to get my mind wrapped around. I wonder why he doesn't wear a ring? One thing I know for certain; I am never going to wear my hair down ever again. Well, not at work anyhow.

I was slow in opening the store on Monday (this being be just 36 hours after the infamous Saturday night out) and I idly wondered if my blood alcohol level was finally back to 0. I had lost count of the number of drinks I had consumed at the bar. Despite the three Tylenol I had taken that morning, I still felt like crap.

I have just finished brewing the first pot of coffee when I catch sight of Daniel walking towards the door. He seems slightly tentative, as if unsure if he really wantes to come inside. I can actually see him physically bracing himself as he opens the door. As if I am scary! Geesh.

"'Morning Daniel." I know I sound sheepish. After all, this man did see me drunk not so long ago. He isn't the only one feeling a bit self-conscious.

"Hi Kira." Several long seconds go by as we stare at one another trying to think up some magical phrase that will make everything less awkward.

"Look about...." We both say at the same time. Daniel chuckles and I laugh. Ah the heck with it. We don't need to talk about O'Malleys.

"What can I make you to drink Daniel?" I ask moving around the backside of the counter.

"Double tall mocha with whip cream." I raise an eyebrow.

"Feeling energetic this morning are we?" I tease.

"Jack had me drinking horrible tomato juice concoctions most of the day yesterday," Daniel explains with a shudder. "I feel the need for something tasty." I nod my head in agreement.

"I unfortunately can't say I ate anything of substance yesterday." I grimace. Not for lack of trying though. Absently I place a hand against my stomach.

"Ouch. Sorry Kira." Daniel looks apologetic and then his lips turn up in a small smirk. "Although if I remember correctly, Jack said something about you not quite being 21..." I hold up a hand to stop the lecture.

"I have sworn off bars until I am the proper age Dr. Jackson." Daniel laughs. "And make sure you tell Colonel Jack that!" I yell over the noise of the steamer.

Daniel pays for his drink but remains near the register- obviously there is something else on his mind.

"I'm sorry if I was out of line at the bar Kira," Daniel finally says. "I honestly didn't mean to uh..invade your space...." He shrugs. "It just happened."

"Ah no worries Daniel," I say placing my hand briefly on his. "You must miss her very much." Daniel nods.

"I do." He gets a far away look in his eye before shaking his head briefly and looking back at me. "I bet you have a couple questions."

"Actually Dr. Jackson, I have a LOT of questions, but somehow I don't think you'll be able to answer very many of them." I of course am referring to his work. I still don't have all the details but I know he works with the military on some sort of classified project. What I am really wondering, is just what they heck he does for them. See, I have done a little Internet research and discovered that Daniel was...is way smart. He speaks over 20 languages! TWENTY. I mean, how the hell is that even possible?! He graduated college before he was 18 and went on to get a couple Masters AND Doctorates. I discovered all this on a website that talked about some archaeology conference that Daniel attended a couple years back. Seems he was the keynote speaker or something. Thing was, he apparently said some pretty wacky stuff and shortly thereafter just vanished from the face of the earth. I guess if I had stood up in front of hundreds of my peers (providing of course I ever HAVE peers) and said that the ancient pyramids were created by aliens, I would have disappeared as well. And after being gone for well over a year he suddenly reappears. But instead of working in academia or out in the middle of nowhere on a dig someplace, he's here in Colorado Springs hanging out with the military. It is just plain odd.

But the question I think Daniel was referring to is...

"So you're married, huh?" Subtle, Kira. Subtle. Daniel nods. I glance down at his hand. Daniel has gorgeous hands; long thin fingers with neatly trimmed nails. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if his hands are as soft as they look. Of course being an archaeologist, they're probably callused... Kira! Stop it!

"No ring?" Daniel looks down at his left hand and slowly shakes his head.

"No ring." He confirms. "My wife was.." He licks his lips. "IS from a more traditional Egyptian family."

"You mean like Nubians?" I ask intrigued. I remember meeting honest to goodness ebony-skinned Egyptians while touring Egypt. Beautiful people.

Daniel gives me a half smile and cocks his head slightly to one side. "No, not Nubian but something like that. Sha're and her family led very simple lives and physical tokens of commitment were generally not used."

"Ahhh." There is so much I want to ask, but I am afraid of going too far, invading Daniel's space.

"So what happened?" I ask softly meeting Daniel's eyes.

"She was kidnapped." Daniel bends his head down in remembrance before letting out a small sigh. He looks so sad...

"Oh my god! That's horrible Daniel! I am so sorry!"

"It happened about a year ago and I have been searching for her ever since." He picks up his coffee and takes a small sip. Coffee as courage- I like that.

"And Colonel Jack is helping you." Daniel again gives me a small smile.

"When he can, Jack is definitely helping." I mull this over for a moment.

"Jack brought you back from Egypt didn't he?" I ask, remembering how lost and sad Daniel looked the first day I saw him, it now makes a lot more sense.

"Yeah. He did." I might have found out even more about Shar-ay and Egypt and how Jack happened to fit into all of this, but the door suddenly opens again and a whole gaggle of tourists walk inside.

"I'll talk to you soon Kira," Daniel says, picking up his coffee and heading towards the door.

"Bye Daniel." I call after him. "Be good!"

11- Coming Down

Episode:  Related to 205, Need

Labor Day sucks.

I mean sure it's great to fire up the barbeque for one last hurrah before summer officially ends, but it absolutely bites when you have to work. And the irony that I am working in a store that really should have remained closed is not lost on me. Why the owners, in their infinite wisdom, decided to keep a business district coffee shop open on a day when all the businesses are closed is beyond me....

At least I'll have a comp day coming. Comp days- the new trend in corporate management. Actually, it isn't a bad deal at all. I work 4 mind-achingly dull hours today and I get 4 additional hours off whenever I want. I open my copy of The Odyssey (in Greek) and begin to read.

I have just finished throwing out the first pot of coffee (barely touched, but we do have a policy of fresh coffee every hour) when I spot him lurking out the front window. Actually I have to do a double take, because although the man bears a striking resemblance to Daniel, he sure isn't acting like Daniel; the guy looks scared.

I watch as Daniel (or his clone) nervously glances to the right and then left before opening the shop door and slipping inside. He quickly steps away from the windows, but continues to glance furtively towards them. I bet you anything, that if we had curtains, Daniel would have attempted to close them.

"Daniel?" I have to ask - I mean this too skinny, twitchy, fearful guy just doesn't seem at all like the Daniel I know.

"Hey Kira," Daniel says absently, as he rubs that web-like space between his thumb and forefinger. Frankly, that is really creeping me out. I continue to take a long hard look at Daniel and suddenly realize what I am seeing. Daniel, somehow, in the span of 3 weeks, has become a junky. I mean it all fit. The gaunt face and body, the nervous repetitive habits, the way he isn't focusing on me. My God- Daniel is an addict.

"Can I help you Daniel?" I ask softly. Please Daniel, let me help you.

"Coffee." His voice is low and unsure. He won't meet my eyes, and continues to glance out the window.

"OK." I turn around and pour him a cup of decaffeinated coffee. Daniel does not need any more stimulants. Even I can see that.

Silently I give him his coffee. Daniel's hands shake as he cups the warm beverage and lifts it to his lips. He takes a sip and instantly makes a disgusted face.

"Ah come ON Kira!" Daniel complains, sounding vaguely like himself. "The least you can do is give me the real stuff!"

"You sure that's a good idea Daniel?" I ask again, using dulcet tones, as I take back the offensive mug.

Daniel sighs and glances again at the window. "I know what this looks like Kira, but you're wrong," he says suddenly.

"What does it look like Daniel?" I keep my voice low and soft as I hand him a new cup of coffee (half full).

"Like I'm some sort of freakish drug addict," he replies, gesturing wildly with his hands. "I'm NOT." His eyes are unfocussed, as he shakes his head as if to clear his mind. He takes a large sip of coffee and sighs.

"God that's good." He closes his eyes briefly before opening them up again and scanning the room. He walks to the table in partially obscurred from the window. What's with the window fixation Daniel? Please don't tell me you're waiting for your dealer, because I SO cannot deal with calling the cops on a friend. But I will Daniel. You need help.

"I just wanted a cup of coffee Kira," Daniel says sounding like a 5-year-old boy. "Just a simple cup of real coffee. Is that really so much to ask?" He sounds almost normal again and I can see how hard he is struggling to overcome whatever chemical or medicinal urges he may feel.

I continue to watch him surreptitiously as I try and figure out a way to call Colonel Jack without letting Daniel know. He (Daniel) obviously isn't in a talkative sort of mood. I watch as he drains the cup with a self-satisfied smile. Within a few seconds however, the smile and all the color in his face disappears.

"No..," he moans softly, clutching his stomach. I can see the beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead and quickly move the restroom key to a very visible location.

"No dammit!" He shouts nearly in tears as he springs up out of the chair and grabs the key. Moments later I hear the telltale sound of someone getting sick. I nearly cry myself. I realize I'm shaking a little now and I mentally give myself a slap. Stop it Kira! Daniel needs help and you're the only one around at the moment. Call Jack!

I take a deep breath as I wince at the sound of obviously painful dry heaves. I turn the music up slightly as I reach for the phone.

That's when I hear the door open.

Dammit! I don't have time for a stupid customer! With the phone firmly positioned between my cheek and neck, I whip around to hastily take the order.

"He's here, isn't he?" I register the voice before the face. It's a worried voice. Next comes facial recognition- instantly I recognize the face that belongs to the voice. Colonel Jack. Thank God!

I nod mutely as I hang up the phone. My shaking hands do not go unnoticed.

"He didn't hurt you, did he Kira?" Jack asks, in a deceptively quiet voice. His hands are balled into tight fists by his side.

"No-o." I stutter. Get a grip, girl! I take another breath. "He didn't hurt me Jack." I point towards the closed bathroom door. "He's in there." Jack nods and takes a phone out of his pocket. Keeping his eyes firmly on the door he presses a speed-dial number (#2 I notice).

"Carter, it's me," he pauses for only a brief moment. "I found him." He listens briefly to the person on the other end (Captain Sam I bet). "You were right. He ditched us in order to get a damn cup of coffee." He nods. "Yeah, at the coffee shop." More listening. "Same one as before Captain." He sounds bone tired. "See you soon." He ends his call and pockets the phone before turning back around towards me.

"How long?" I know exactly what he's asking. How long has Daniel been in the bathroom?

"Maybe 5 minutes?"

"What happened?" Jack says with a resigned sigh. I notice he's wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. Under normal circumstances, I'd ogle a bit- but this is anything but usual.

"He wanted a cup of coffee." I begin. "It was obvious to me that Daniel was feeling, um, under the weather." It was the way I said it. Jack knows. Jack knows that I know, but he gives me a tight-lipped nod to let me know he appreciates my euphemism.

"I gave him a cup of decaf, but Daniel instantly knew it wasn't the real stuff. Seeing as it is just a cup of coffee, I gave him 1/2 a cup of regular." I see Jack shake his head in disapproval. "I just wanted to keep him in the store until I could get a hold of you Jack." I know I am sounding a little desperate. I don't want Jack to think badly of me.

Jack takes several steps towards me and lays his hand on mine. "You did good Kira," he says sincerely. He gives my hand a brief squeeze and glances again at the closed door. It has been quiet now for several minutes. Oh god! He isn't suicidal is s he?!

"I have a spare key!" I blurt out.

Jack gives me an appreciative nod, "that would be great Kira." I give him the key and I watch as he heads over to the bathroom door. Tentatively he knocks.


"Go away Jack." Comes the muffled reply.

"Not going to happen Daniel."

"Please Jack," Daniel says plaintively. "Just go away."

"Sorry Danny." Jack says softly. "I can't do that." Silence.

"I'm coming in ok?" More silence. I watch as Jack inserts the key and turns the knob. Daniel apparently offers no resistance and Jack carefully closes the door behind him.

Naturally this is the exact moment Captain Sam chooses to come running breathlessly into the store. She looks around the shop before settling her eyes on me.

"The Colonel?" She asks. I notice that Sam is dressed in jeans and a sweater. I can't help the twinge of envy, as I notice her legs. My god, that woman has legs that go up to my armpits! Lucky wench.

I point towards the bathroom. "He's in there with Daniel."

"Ah." Sam stands stiffly surveying the empty room. We both look everywhere but at one another for several long moments before I break the ice.

"Daniel's sick." It is a statement, not a question.

"Yeah," Sam says sadly, running a hand through her short blonde hair. She looks at me as if wanting to say more and tiredly shakes her head. "I know you probably have a lot of questions Kira.." I smile despite myself.

"That's what Colonel Jack said." Sam nods. "Did he also mention that there isn't too much we can tell you?" I frown slightly and can feel that wrinkle in the center of my forehead puckering. No, he didn't say that exactly. Although when you consider what little I know about these three, I'm really not surprised. I let out a shaky sigh willing my anger to dissipate.

"Can you at least tell me if he's getting treatment?" I ask calmly. Sam nods and looks at me with wide blue eyes.

"He's through the hard part Kira." She says softly. "Actually, today is the first day Daniel's been allowed off the base since his..." It's clear Sam doesn't know exactly how to finish that sentence.

"Since it was found out that he had a problem?" I try. Sam nods gratefully.


"So what happened?"

"Daniel convinced us that he needed to head home and pick up some stuff. Janet, Doctor Fraiser that is, thought the fresh air would do him good, but would only agree if someone went with him."

"And you and Colonel Jack were it." I finish. Sam chuckles softly.

"Daniel wasn't so keen on the idea, but the Colonel talked him into it."

I take up the story drawing the obvious conclusion. "Daniel talks you two into a walk around town and then proceeds to ditch you so he can get himself a cup of coffee." The very edges of Sam's mouth curl in a half smile as she nods. I notice that the smile goes nowhere near her eyes.

"Yeah." We stand awkwardly near one another both concentrating on the closed bathroom door and the soft murmur of voices coming from within. I pour Sam a cup of coffee, which she accepts gratefully. Seeing as Captain Sam and I are kinda stuck with one another for the time being I realize that this is as good a time as any to ask what I really wanted to know. I cock my head to one side and eye her critically.

"So Captain, you a natural blonde?" Sam nearly spits out her coffee and I can't help but grin slightly as she sputters and looks confused.


"Ice breaker," I reply lamely, shrugging my shoulders.

"You are a very strange young woman Kira," Sam replies, shaking her head and looking at me with real humor in her eyes. "And you can call me Sam."

"So Sam, how do you know Colonel Jack and Daniel?" She didn't need to give me all the details, but I'd love to know just what the three of them have in common.

"I'm Air Force like the Colonel and I'm his Second."

"Second what?"

"Second in command." I nod as if understanding. Which I don't.

"What do you do?" She might be a professional soldier, something I was pretty certain Colonel Jack was, but I kinda doubted that.

"I'm a Doctor of Astrophysics actually." Sam says almost shyly. Huh?? I could feel that pesky wrinkle once again forming in the center of my forehead as I knit my eyebrows together trying to wrap my mind around the facts.

Fact: Daniel and Jack are obviously very good friends.
Fact: Daniel is an Archaeologist, Anthropologist and Linguist.
Fact: Jack is a Colonel in the United States Air Force.
Fact: Sam is a Captain in the Air Force AND an Astrophysicist.

What the bloody hell are they all doing together?! Before I can open up my mouth and ask further questions the bathroom door opens. Daniel walks out first looking extremely embarrassed; Jack is right behind him.

"Sorry again Kira," Daniel apologizes, as he pauses in front of me. I want more than anything for him to get well again and impulsively I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him down to me for a brief hug.

"Get better soon Daniel," I whisper as I release him. Daniel looks like he might cry, but I'm pretty sure it's from the withdrawal and nothing more.

"I have a new paper that needs proofing Dr. Jackson, so come back and visit as soon as you're able to, ok?" I receive a slight Daniel smile for my trouble and feel all warm and tingly inside.

Sam walks Daniel out the door but Colonel Jack lingers a bit in order to talk to me.

"Daniel didn't say anything, uh, nutty did he?" Jack asks looking both calm and nervous at the same time. I shake my head. This is the second time you've asked me something like that Jack.

"He just asked me for the coffee and said it wasn't what it looked like." Jack stuffs his hands in his pockets.

"He's kinda right Kira," Jack says after a long moment. I shake my head.

"Jack," I begin, "it's obvious Daniel is suffering from withdrawal. I may not know from what, but the physical symptoms are unmistakable." I unfortunately speak from experience. My best friend in high school became addicted to painkillers after a skiing accident. It wasn't pretty.

"Yeah, I suppose." Jack says sighing again. He straightens his back and I can see he is antsy to get back to Daniel and Sam.

"Jack, I know Daniel is your friend, and I know you probably already know this, but hear me out, ok?" Now it's Jack's turn to nod. He looks at me quixotically.

"I can guarantee you Daniel never wanted to become an addict. And however angry and frustrated and sad you and Captain Sam become, always remember that Daniel must feel ten times worse." I take another breath.

"I don't know how or what he became addicted to, but I can almost guarantee you he won't ever EVER do it again. Smart people make mistakes, but because they ARE smart, they seldom make them twice. Trust in your friend." I finish knowing my cheeks must be tinged red. I always did have a flair for the melodramatic. I mean it though. Jack just stares at me with these unfathomable chocolate brown eyes of his.

"You're one perceptive young woman, Kira," Jack says finally. I shrug. I mean, come on! What else was I to do?

"We'll take care of him Kira. I promise." He turns to go and then stops and turns back around.

"We owe you one Kira."

"I'll just put it on your tab." I say with a smile. Jack smiles and then disappears down the alley.

12- Library Repose

I feel a nudge against my back and shifted my face deeper into my pillow, not that it was a very good pillow mind you.

"Just five more minutes mom."   I mumble without looking up.  I hear a decidedly male laugh behind me.

"Can't say anyone has ever said that to me before!" I sit up groggily and eye the blurry figure next to me in confusion.

"Daniel?"  My voice sounds like a cross between Lucile Ball and Kermit the Frog. Ugggh.

"Got it in one."  Daniel says grabbing a chair and pulling it into my little cubicle space.  I notice Daniel is dressed in khaki pants and a god-awful tweed blazer.  It even has the elbow patches!  Geeze Daniel, you can so do better than that.   Despite the ensemble, he looks delectable as always. Has he been working out? I shake my head to clear my licentious thoughts. 

Daniel eyes the half dozen books strewn across the table and gives me a wry smile.  At least I think it was wry.  I seem to have lost my glasses.

"Looking for these?"  Daniel says with a wide grin as he hands me my spectacles.    I rub my eyes tiredly before putting them on.  Instantly the room snaps into focus.  The guy who invented glasses must have made a mint!

"Much better."  I say with a yawn.  I look at Daniel still confused.

"What are you doing here?"   It's funny how you associate certain people with certain places. Daniel is strictly Victor's Coffee shop and it was very strange to see him out of his element.   Than again, a library is probably just as much a central domain.

"Probably the same as you I imagine- research." I nod and take a moment to look around, the library is utterly devoid of life.  True, some may argue that libraries are always that way but this time there's truth in that statement.

"What time is it?"  I ask glancing at the empty spot on my right wrist.   Dead watch battery.

"Half past ten."  Daniel says. I must look slightly perplexed, for he felt the need to elaborate. "At night."  I lean back into my chair with an audible 'oof'.  10:30?!  That must mean I had been asleep for over two hours!  Very unlike me.  And the Librarians let me sleep?  Very unlike them.

"I caught sight of you snoring away shortly after I got here."  Daniel began.

"I do not snore."  I reply haughtily.  Well, I don't.

"Right."  Daniel says with a soft smile.  "Funny, Sam says the same thing on missions." 


"Daniel, the Graduate Library closes at 8 pm! How come you're still here?"

"I could ask you the same thing Ms. I find.." Daniel picks up one of the books lying open on the table "Legends of Ancient Babylon?" I am pretty certain Daniel was going to make a crack about my reading choices being more entertaining than socializing or sleep but that thought apparently has fled.  He stares at the book and then at me with unmitigated awe. Or something bordering on awe- it is very unsettling.

"Daniel?"  I ask slightly concerned.  He wasn't going to go all flakey again was he?

Daniel shakes his head.  "Kira, one day you and I are going to have a nice long conversation.  It may not be for many, many years, but I promise you one day we'll have it.  Even if I have to ask the President himself for permission." Now it's my turn to blink. President?  As in The President?

"Right."  I say clearly not understanding a damn thing he's saying.   "So why again are you here Daniel?"

"I have an agreement with the library to borrow some of the books from the MacIntyre Collection."  Of Course!  I mentally give my forehead a resounding wack.  John MacIntyre was a well-known Classics' linguist who could reportedly converse in over 40 languages by the time he was 50.  He was a gentleman archaeologist, Adventurer, Scholar and all around amazing guy.  He vanished in the Central African desert right before WWII.

"I actually have a key to the building."  Daniel says in a whisper. My eyes go wide.   NO WAY.  What the bloody hell do you do in that mountain Daniel?!

"What about you?"  Daniel asks.  Huh? What about me what?

"What are you doing sawing logs in a closed library?" I have the good grace to blush.

"One of the Librarians is a friend of mine. She's convinced the others I'm harmless and I can now stay here and study until they are ready to lock up for the night."  Again I look at my naked wrist.  "Which will probably be really soon."

Daniel slaps his hands on his thighs and stands up. "Obviously you are pulling an all-nighter Kira Meyers."  Daniel says matter-of-factly.  "How about I buy you a cup of coffee and you tell me why."  I give Daniel one of my rare 100-watt grins.

"Actually Daniel, I don't drink coffee."

"You don't what?!"  Daniel shouts looking at me as if I was suddenly possessed by some soul-sucking alien who happened to be residing in my brain.

"I don't drink coffee."  I state again.  "Can't stand the taste."  He continues to stare at me incomprehensively.  "I do love the smell though."  I say feeling the need to offer him something.

"How can you work in a coffee shop and not drink coffee?"  Daniel asks completely baffled. 

"You work at a military base and aren't military."  I counter.  Daniel just shakes his head.  Match point to Kira!

"Can I offer you some sort of sustenance Ms. Meyers?" Daniel asks.   In reply my stomach growls. I blush.   Damn.  Can't actually remember when I last ate.  That's not a good sign is it?

"Food it is."  Daniel says carefully stacking my papers to one side and book marking the pages in my open textbooks.

"Wendy says she'll leave a note and make sure nothing here is touched until you return tomorrow."

"Wendy?"  I ask raising an eyebrow in question.

"Closing Librarian." 

"Ah."  Together we stack up my assorted books and I grab my coat.  Daniel sees me itching to take some of the papers home.

"They'll be here in the morning Kira. Promise."

"And if they aren't?"  I ask worriedly.

"If they aren't, I'll write your paper for you."

"You'll write a paper on the fall of Babylon and the subsequent rise in war-like city states?"  Daniel paled ever so slightly as I said this but stood firm.

"Yep."  His eyes twinkled as he regained his composure.  "And I'll make sure to put in plenty of typos and bibliographical errors."

"Oh no you won't!"

"You are only an Undergraduate Kira." Daniel says matter-of-factly.

"Only for another year."  I counter.

"Another year?"  Daniel looks at me out of the corner of his eye. We're currently going down the stairs of the library and it's rather dark.  "I thought you're a sophomore."

"Technically I am but."

"But?"  We reach the bottom of the stairs and head right towards the parking lots.

"But between the AP credits from high school and taking at least 18 credits a quarter here. I'll be graduating this time next year."

"That's great Kira!"  Daniel says giving me a big smile.  Had we not been alone in a darkened parking lot, he just might have hugged me again.  Ah well, I'll just imagine that he did later when I think back over this night..

"So then what are you going to do?" Daniel opens the passenger side door and then walks around to the driver's side.  I sigh.  Chivalry. Guys from my generation SO could use lessons from one Dr. Daniel Jackson.

"I haven't quite decided."  I say honestly snapping my seat belt into place. It's funny how totally safe and comfortable I feel with Daniel.  "I'm leaning towards becoming an Archivist or Classics Librarian but don't know if that will be exciting enough for me."

"Libraries can be exciting."   Daniel says defensively.

"Daniel, I am considering getting a PhD in Library Science.  You're preaching to the choir here.

It's just I want to become a true Specialist, you know? I have lately been reading everything I can on Babylon, Assyria and Mesopotamia and am just in love with the language and culture that emanated out of that region."

"Uh oh Kira."  Daniel said in a voice that was definitely trying hard not to gloat. "Sounds suspiciously to me like you may want to become an Archaeologist."

"Nahhh." I say resolutely.  "I'm not interested in old rocks and buildings."

"You can find some pretty interesting things among old rocks and buildings."  Daniel has that far away look again.  Must find out one of these days what he finds so intriguing about ancient pottery. Ancient communications are much more interesting.

"What I mean," I say. "Is that I am so enthralled by the words and stories the ancient peoples left behind, that there is more than enough to occupy a dozen scholars lives without my having to worry about their houses and left over cooking utensils."   Daniel scoffs.

"There's a little more to it than THAT Kira."

"You know what I mean Daniel."   I say trying to explain.  "Haven't you ever just wanted to be the definitive expert in something before?"  A ghost of a smile crosses Daniel's lips. 


"Well I do!"  I say.  My stomach chooses that moment to gurgle in agreement.

"Then one definitive Ancient Civilizations Scholar you shall be Ms. Meyers!"  Daniel says as we pull into May's.  It's not nearly as hick as it sounds.  Good food and, of course, an Italian espresso machine for those needing to indulge in an after supper pick-me-up.

The rest of the evening passes pleasantly as Daniel regales me with tales of past digs and adventures.   He has done a HELL of a lot.  Unfortunately, I also learn he's older than I thought. Only by a couple of years, but I was really hoping we'd be within a decade.  No such luck.  Twelve years isn't THAT much of a difference, right?

Daniel drops me off at my apartment around midnight and sternly advises me to get some sleep.  I almost laugh aloud; Daniel doesn't really have a commanding presence if you know what I mean.

"I'll try Daniel."  I say sincerely.  Considering all my research is back at the library, I probably will just go straight to bed.

"Good night Kira."  Daniel says as he waits by his car until I open my front door. Like I said- the perfect gentleman. I give him a small wave and head up the stairs.

My dreams are SO not going to be G rated this evening.

A/N Thank you Kath for pointing out the evil of my ways. No hackneyed uses of "artifact" will be found in this story. *grin*

13- Training Accident

Episode:  Takes place after 207- Message in a Bottle

I hate working afternoon shifts.  

While it is true that there are a lot of tired, cranky people in the morning, they just don't hold a candle to the tired, cranky people at the end of the day.  Joe-customer just wants to get back to his spouse/kids/television set, and isn't so keen on the small talk.  Doesn't tip so well either.  I try not to sigh aloud as I glance at the clock on the back wall; ten more minutes.

Normally I always get the coveted morning shifts, but I switched shifts (not my idea I assure you) with a friend and now found myself counting the seconds until 6 pm.  On the plus side, the store was nearly dead and I was almost done with the post-closing checklist.  With luck, I should be well on my way home by 6:15- plenty of time to go for a run before hitting the books.

I sigh and wish Daniel would suddenly materialize to proof my latest translation attempt.  Aramaic is a very straightforward language, but I was still getting messed up with the gender endings.  At least with Greek, I could listen to real people speaking; it's a little tougher with a language that has been out of commission for nearly two millennia.

I hear the door opening behind me and turn around with what I hope is a believable smile.

I stare loudly at the two figures before me. Who knew I had the ability to make wishes come true? 

"Hey Kira!"  Daniel says warmly as he happily walks up to the counter.   Someone is in a damn fine mood.

"Kira."  Jack says with a tired nod in my direction.  He eyes one of the chairs near the window and unceremoniously plops himself down.  Guess the happy warm feelings aren't for everyone. 

"What the heck are you guys doing here?" I ask.  Truth be told, it might be normal for Daniel to come by after work, but I really didn't believe that.  He's more of the work all night and stumble home in a daze sort of guy. Besides, I had tactfully asked some of my closing shift friends about him and no one recognized my descriptions. Several asked if they could change shifts with me in order to get a better look at him though.   I smile slightly at the thought.

"Could ask you the same thing Kira." Daniel says raising one eyebrow slightly.

"I switched shifts with a friend."

"So this isn't a permanent change." Daniel says eyeing the espresso machine with longing.  Yep, longing. I'm really glad Daniel is over whatever drug addiction he had in the past, but he still has a serious problem when it comes to coffee.  Not that I would ever say anything.  What would I do with myself without my Daniel fix?

"Nope- I'm still mostly a morning shift sorta gal."

"Good!"  I smile.  Daniel likes me!

"So what can I get for you Daniel?"

"Double tall latte and half a pound of French roast. Whole beans."

"I haven't replaced my coffee grinder yet Daniel." Jack says tiredly from the table. I glance over and eye him critically. Jack doesn't look so good. Actually, Jack looks like shit. While I always knew he was old.er, I still considered him young enough to well. oogle.  Tall cute guy will always be alive and kicking in my little head. But not today.   Today he definitely looks old enough to be my dad. His faced is heavily lined and there are dark smudges under his eyes. 

"Jack!"  Daniel whines as he took the news as if it were a body blow.   "You promised you'd replace it!"  And people say teenagers have the art of whining down to a science?

"Daniel," Jack says patiently while rubbing his forehead.  "It only broke a week ago and I hadn't actually *planned* on having you over quite this soon." Daniel just grumbles.

"AND as you rightfully know, I haven't actually been home a lot in the last seven days."  Daniel has the good grace to look ashamed.

"Fine!"  He says with a light huff as he turns back towards me.  "Can you grind the coffee for an espresso machine Kira?"

"Sure."  I say. I turn to tamp down Daniel's coffee for the latte.  "Can I get you anything Jack?"

"A new head?"  He replies tiredly.

"Sorry, all out at the moment."   Poor guy.  I busy myself with Daniel's coffee.  "So why'd the Army spring you guys so early?"  I ask.

"Air Force."  Jack says automatically.  Oops. I give Jack an apologetic tilt of the head.

"I get to take Jack home!"  Daniel says happily.

"Geeze, Daniel, do you have to sound so damn cheerful about it?"

"Sorry Jack."  Daniel says not sounding particularly sorry.  "But you have to admit, it's a nice change from having you baby-sit me."

"You are not babysitting me Daniel." Jack says standing up with a very quiet groan. His face is pinched in obvious discomfort and I notice how pale his normally tan complexion is. He really must not feel good.

"Poor choice of words.  Sorry."  Again, he does NOT sound sorry.  "But Jack, you have to admit that it's usually me that ends up in the infirmary and this time I didn't get hurt at all!"

Jack rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, way to go Danny."

"Ah, come on Jack- it's just a little concussion and some, uh.."  Daniel wrinkles his eyebrows in concentration. "Confused red blood cells.  You're not seriously hurt."

"Would you rather I be laid up in a hospital bed Dr. Jackson?"  Jack looks quite irritated.

"Of course not Jack!  But you gotta admit, usually when you get hurt it's really serious."  Daniel's eyes cloud over and I'm positive he's remembering Antarctica.  I didn't get all the details, but I betcha it was Jack who was on the receiving end of those electric paddles in McMurdo.   I barely suppress my own shudder at the thought.

"But this time you're fine!"   Again he gives Jack a wide grin.

I can't resist.  "So what happened?"  I ask.

For a very long heartbeat the pair look at me like a couple of deer in headlights.  And then, much to my astonishment, (and theirs) they answer.  In unison.

"Training exercise."  For the first time since walking into the shop, Jack breaks out in a large smile.  As does Daniel.    They grin stupidly at one another for several seconds as some silent discussion is waged back and forth.    It is blatantly obvious that they made up that answer on the spot but I give them double points for random spontaneity.  I honestly don't think it was planned.

"As long as Jack is all right."   I reply finishing up Daniel's drink and weighing out the coffee beans.  I pour them into the grinder and tell Jack to be prepared.  Obviously loud grating noises will not help his head.  Over the whirl of the machinery I hear Jack complain some more to Daniel.

"I really wish Janet hadn't insisted on a chaperone tonight."  Jack grouses.

"Come on Jack!"  Daniel says incredulously.  "Do you have any idea how many drugs are in your system right now?!" Jack glances over to where I am casually holding a coffee bag under the newly ground beans.  

"Daniel." Jack warns.

"What Jack?" 

"We aren't alone here."  I may not be able to see them now, but it doesn't take a genius to imagine Jack gesturing towards my back.

"And all I'm saying is that you have had a VERY traumatic event happen to you and there was no way Janet could send you home alone in good conscience.  Hell, it was only after I promised to keep an eye on you that she agreed to release you in the first place!"  I finish my grinding and walked over to the register.  I happily noticed the neon time display on the consul.  5:59 pm.

"Fine!"  Jack says shoving his hands into his jeans.  "But I still plan on watching the hockey game tonight."   He says as if  daring Daniel to take his television away.

"And I still plan on waking you every two hours once you fall asleep."  Daniel says very matter of fact like.  Jack is back to mumbling obscenities under his breath.

"You take it easy Colonel Jack."   I say sweetly as I had over Daniel's coffee and beans. Jack nods and gives me a weak smile. Absently he scratches at a spot below his right shoulder.

"Thanks Kira!"  Daniel says accepting the goods as if they were a rare treasure. He leaves me a nice healthy tip.

"I promise to be quick Jack."   Daniel says as they head towards the door. I follow, as I need to lock up behind them.  No more customers for Kira! Hurrah!

"You know, you already have most of what you need at my place."  Jack says sounding more and more tired by the moment.

"True, but I just received the latest issue of Archaeology Digest and there's this great article discussing.."

"Daniel, please, I really DO have a headache."

"Sorry Jack."  This time he sounds a little apologetic.

I see them out and begin locking the doors.    As they rounded the corner I overhear Jack say the strangest thing.

"Next time it's Teelk's turn."

14- 911
Episode: Takes place during episode 211, Tok'ra

I needed a break.

I had been working steadily since 6 am and here it was a bit after 10 and I was well overdue for a break.  As if on cue, Stefan comes running in from the street, already dressed in black pants and shirt.  He quickly grabs an apron and taps me on the shoulder.

"Be free oh beautiful butterfly."   He says taking my place behind the espresso machine. I laugh as I shed my own apron and head towards the break room.  I grab a can of soda and my sandwich from the fridge and sink warily into a chair.

My feet hurt.

I pull out a textbook on ancient religions and begin reading.  It takes less than 10 minutes before I am hopelessly bored.  It isn't that I don't find the topic fascinating; it's just that I can't seem to concentrate on the words.  So why do I even bother to bring in my schoolbooks?  Probably has something to do with the hope that Daniel will explain some of them to me.  For some odd reason, I can successfully read snippets from my books while working, but hardly ever concentrate when I'm on break.

It isn't fair really.

I sigh and finish my sandwich.   The break room lacks some serious ambiance and I decide to bite the bullet and head back into the throng.  With luck no one will pay me much notice and I can contentedly participate in one of my favorite activities: people watching.

Stefan raises an eyebrow as he sees me emerge from the sanctuary of the break room a good 15 minutes early.   I give him a wry smile and settle myself onto a small couch in the back of the store.  10 am isn't a popular time for lingerers, so I have most of the backend of the place to myself.  I sit down, open a textbook I have no intention of reading and quietly observe.

Take that guy for instance- obvious bike messenger killing time between calls.  Or that guy in the suit- most likely one of those corporate guys from the new business center down the street.  I watch him with feigned disinterest.  I honestly am not alone with what happens next.  You talk to anyone in retail, and they'll tell you that it is quite normal to make up scenarios about your customers.  We are the original profilers, and you'd be surprised to hear how right we often are!

Yuppie-looking guy?  Married, (less than three years) and soon to be new dad. Do I know this for a fact?  Nope. But I betcha I got two out of the three right.

Or take that guy.  He looks a little out of place in a "fancy" coffee house; one of those guys who usually buys his coffee at 7-11. In other words- a tourist. He steps into line and stares in dismay at the coffee drink choices above his head.  He shakes his head in amazement as he steps up to the counter. It's at this moment his cell phone rings.   Darn!  Now I can't see if my guess of a single tall latte was right!

He looks abjectly embarrassed (obvious new cell phone user) and quickly excuses himself to answer the call.   He steps away from the counter and heads towards my direction.  He fumbles a bit with the phone but eventually turns it on and places it next to his ear. He listens for a few moments before speaking.

"Sammy."  The man says in a tired voice.  "Is everything all right?  Why are you calling?" He sighs as he listens to the response on the other end.

"And I believe I told you I'll be fine." I'm not sure who he is trying to convince; the person on the other end of the phone, or himself.   The guy sounds bone weary.  Actually, come to think of it, he really doesn't look to steady either.

"How are you doing baby?"  Girlfriend, wife, or daughter I surmise.   The guy looks way too hetero to call a guy 'baby'. Again he listens for a brief moment.

"With the Air Force?"  He says a little too quickly.  Whatever answer he received, it doesn't seem to make him happy. He lets out a heavy sigh.

"So where are you going?  Some vitally important radar telemetry conference?" His words are laced with resentment and antagonism. Guess the guy isn't big on conferences.   He shakes his head slightly as he listens to the response.

"Sam, I'm fine."  The guy says falling rather heavily into a chair on his right. I'm not being even remotely covert in my observations anymore; he really doesn't look fine.   I can see the small beads of sweat on his forehead and he appears to be breathing funny.

"I'm here in Colorado Springs actually.  Found myself a little apartment on the edge of town and am hoping we can spend some time together when you're off duty."  The guy lifts up a distinctively shaky hand and rubs a spot near his temple.

"I'm fine Sammy." Another brief pause.

"Positive. Call when you're back."   The man hastily pushes the end button on his phone and leans back into the chair.  Even from across the room, I can see the discomfort in his face.  Something is SO wrong with this guy.  I am already standing up and making my way towards him when I hear his whisper, "Not now dammit, I need more time!"

I am nearly at his table when the man simply goes limp, like a puppet whose strings have been cut.  His head falls heavily onto the table and I'm by his side not half a second later.

"Call 911."  I shout.  A rather clichéd reaction I know, but honestly, that is the *first* thing out of your mouth in an emergency, and it doesn't sound nearly as hokey as it appears to on the police shows.

"Sir?"  I say quietly touching his shoulder.  "Sir, can you hear me?"  No response. I put a surprisingly steady hand on his bared neck.  One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.I stopon five; the guy has no pulse. I quickly place my cheek next to the guy's nose and mouth and look down at his chest.  I feel no air coming from his nose or mouth and his lungs aren't inflating either.  Shit!


"Stefan!"  I shout oblivious to the crowd gathering around me.  "I need your help."  A small corner of my mind was hoping that one of the customers would suddenly stand up and announce that he was a doctor and knew exactly what to do in cases like these.  Naturally the man chose to collapse mid-morning on a Thursday; college students, office workers on break and tourists- not a professional cardiac surgeon among them. Damn.

"Back it up people!"  Stefan yells sounding not at all like the flaming faerie (his words, not mine) he is. 

"Ambulance is on its way Kira."   Stefan says quietly in my ear.  With a nod he and I slide the unconscious, un-breathing and un-beating man down to the ground. 

"I don't remember CPR Kira."   Stefan says giving me a shaky look.

"Just make sure there's nothing in his mouth, tilt his neck back and breathe when I tell you too, ok?"  Stefan nods.  I quickly unzip the man's jacket and am thankful that he's only wearing a light-weight shirt underneath.  I silently thank my parents profusely for forcing me to go to that wretched YMCA summer camp all those years ago.  Not only did I discover a penchant for swimming, but later became a lifeguard and safety instructor. It's been a few years, but I am pretty confident I know what I'm doing.

I find the edge of the man's sternum and automatically move the palm of my hand two finger-widths upwards.  I begin compressions.  "One, Two, Three, Four, Five" I say distinctively for Stefan before nodding at him to breathe.  I feel the man's lungs expand under my hands.   I wait an additional count and then begin compressions again.

Stefan and I have a steady rhythm going and I quickly lose all sense of time passing.  It feels like several hundred years, but I know it can't be more than a few minutes.  Already I feel the growing ache in my arms.  I take a moment to feel for a pulse- still nothing.

"Come on!"  I implore to the still man by my side as I push a little harder on his chest. "Breathe!"

"Where the fuck is that ambulance?!" I grunt as I once again begin another round of chest compressions.  That ache in my arms is growing uncomfortably more pronounced.  I'm not certain how much longer I can do this.   I close my eyes tightly for a brief moment hoping to hold back the threatening tears.  I've never even been to a funeral for god's sake, I will *not* have this stranger die on me.

"Ambulance just pulled up."  An anonymous voice says from across the room.   There is a God.  I am just finishing my seven-thousandth and sixth compression (well, that's what it felt like to me) when I hear them come in.

"We have it now miss."  A soothing voice says as she efficiently takes my place and begins whipping out assorted medical instruments.

"How long has he been down?"   All eyes turn to me.

"I don't know."  I say near tears.  My cool exterior is rapidly coming apart.  "I was doing CPR!"  I say as if that should explain everything.

"Eight minutes."  A voice from behind the bar says.  Bless you Allison.

"Tell me what happened."  She says as she barks numbers and medical jargon at her partner. I notice he's already by the man's head with an oxygen bag.  The woman herself has started compressions again.  Damn. I was hoping they'd just give him some miracle shot and he'd wake up.

"He was talking on the phone when he just collapsed in his chair."

"Did he clutch his heart, or give any indication that his chest was bothering him?"

I shake my head.

"No.  If anything, it was his head that seemed to give him some discomfort." The EMT shot her partner another look and rattled off more medicalese.  They quickly move him onto a backboard and within a few seconds have him ready to move.

"Is he going to be all right?"   I ask following them outside.

"I hope so."  She says as they efficiently lift him up.  "We're taking him to CS General."   She gives a small nod to her partner and within moments they're out on the street and loading the still inert man into an ambulance. As they close the door I hear the woman bark at someone to charge the paddles.

Oh God.

Suddenly I find myself kneeling unceremoniously on the cold ground and struggling to breathe myself.

"She's hyperventilating."  Someone says.  Really? That's what this is? Can't say that I like it much. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get any of that vital oxygen stuff into my lungs.   I start to see little black spots.

"Kira, come back inside."  Stefan's voice is gentle and soothing as me and my ragged breaths are led back into the shop.  I can feel the tears escaping now and my hitched breathing becomes even more pronounced. He's going to die.   The man whose heart I was manually beating is going to die. Suddenly I can't breathe at all. I press a hand frantically against my own chest as if to announce to my lungs that they are free at any time to start working again.

"Kira!"  I look up wildly and see Stefan trying to get my attention.

"Just calm down and breathe."   Yeah right, easy for you to say.  I feel myself being urged onto a bench and my head gently pushed downwards between my legs.

"Lunch bag!"  Someone shouts triumphantly as a crisp brown bag is placed against my mouth and nose.  It smells vaguely of tuna fish and Doritos.  I hate tuna fish.

Within a few moments I have calmed down enough to hold the bag myself.  It takes a good three to four minutes before I can breathe comfortably again.   So that's hyperventilating, eh?  Nasty.

I let out a long shaky breath and look up for the first time.  The shop is nearly empty now.  Stefan hands me a tissue as he takes the bag from my clasped hands.  I hastily wipe my eyes.

"Where is everyone?"  I ask.

"We thought, given the circumstances, Victor wouldn't mind if we closed the doors for a half hour or so."  I nod.  Victor is a good guy.  I doubt we would have had that option if we were a big commercial chain.

"You going to be all right Kira?"

"Peachy."  I say bitterly.  That man was already dead wasn't he?  Stefan seems to know exactly what I'm thinking.

"You don't know that Kira.  He might make it you know.  You might have saved his life."  Maybe. I'm not quite ready to believe that yet.  With a hand from Stefan, I stand up and take another deep breath.  Out of the corner of my eye I spy the man's cell phone still lying peacefully on the table.

"He was talking with someone right before he collapsed."  I say as I reach for the phone.  I might not have been able to rouse the man out of his. whatever he was in.  But I could let his wife/lover/daughter know where he is.

I switch the phone on and press *69. I had only used the feature once before, but if ever there was a reason to know exactly who called you last; this was it.  I frown as I hear an automated voice inform me that the number I have dialed cannot receive outside calls. Huh?  What's the deal with that?

"Shit."  I stare at the small Nokia phone in my hand and begin accessing the guy's saved numbers.  He was talking to someone named 'Sam' and I was hoping that number was saved in his phone book. As I began scrolling few the few numbers (didn't the guy have any friends?) I had to repeatedly tell myself that the odds that he was talking to the one Sam I know was very, very slim.

George, Mark. Bingo!  Sam.  There were actually two Sam entries and I decide to go with the one marked 'Sam-wk'. It *was* 11 o'clock in the morning after all.  Odds are the lady was at work.  Of course, the conversation I overheard indicated she was about to go on a trip, but seeing as less than 30 minutes had passed since. what was this guy's name anyhow?

Before calling the mysterious Sam, I decided to attempt to find out who the mysterious stranger was.  (And I mean was as in 'was here' not 'was alive') I press a few more buttons and access his cell phone number.  I then walk briskly up to the counter and grab the phone hidden underneath the register. I dial the displayed number and hold my breath.

The cell phone's ringer sounds unusually harsh in the still coffee shop.  Thankfully the answering message picked up after three rings.

"You're reached Jacob Carter.   Leave a message."  Suddenly my legs lose all ability to hold my body upright; I stumble blindly towards a chair and eye the discarded brown bag with nervousness. Already I could feel my breath becoming trapped in my throat once again.

"Kira, what is it?"  Stefan asks worriedly.  I could only stare at him in numb shock.  Jacob Carter.  Carter.

Sure it's a common name.  But add to Mr. Carter's identity the fact that he knows someone, IN THE AIR FORCE by the name of Sam and I suddenly have no desire what so ever to dial Sam-wk.  There's no way I can explain all of this to Stefan.  I just shake my head and grip the cell phone even harder.

Taking a deep breath I press the call button and bite my lip as the numbers quickly dial automatically.  One ring.  Two. And then..

"Captain Samantha Carter is unable to come to the phone.  Please leave a message or dial 0 for more options."  I hear the loud beep and instantly hang up.  It's her. Oh God, it's her.  

Sam only says her name, the rest was an automated message, but her voice is unmistakable.  This is the Captain Sam that I know.  Which means Jacob Carter is almost assuredly her father.

Oh God.

"Kira?"  I wave Stefan away and close my eyes.  Had it really been only 30 minutes since I first started people watching?

I need to leave a message.  Should I do it at work or home?  Or both?  Should I dial '0' and try and contact someone else?  I instantly think of Jack and Daniel, but realize that if Sam's away on an Air Force job, odds are Jack and Daniel are too.  Still, I try the central Cheyenne number and ask for Colonel Jack O'Neill.  I get an answering message that sounds eerily similar to Sam's.  I try again and ask for Dr. Daniel Jackson.  I still get an answering machine, but this time Daniel actually recorded the full message.  His voice washes over me and I wish more than anything he'd just pick up the phone and talk to me.  I decide not to try anyone else and redial Sam's number.  Perhaps Sam has scores of friends on the base, but I have a funny feeling she wouldn't want Joe Soldier to be telling her about her dad.  Best to leave a message.

I press the speed dial button again and re-listen to Sam's message.

"Sam, it's Kira.  From Daniel's coffee shop?"  My voice sounds pathetically weak even to me.  "Um, I need you to call me when you get in.   It's really important."  I rattle off both my home number and the shop number.   "It's super important Sam.  Please call me the moment you get this."   And I hang up.

Perhaps it was wrong of me not to tell her about her dad, but I figure her curiosity would get the best of her and she'll call me the moment she hears the message.  Which means the delay in her knowing about her dad would be very minimal. But what if she couldn't reach me? Was I right to withhold information from her?

I turn the phone on again and dial 'Sam-hm'. "Hi Sam, it's Kira again. I just left you a message at work, but just in case you can't reach me, I should tell you what's going on.  Sam, you're dad, or someone I'm assuming is your dad, had an attack of some sort in the coffee shop. They took him to Colorado Springs General at around 11 am today.  I don't know his condition, but feel free to call me if you need to talk. 681-7732." I'm about to hang up before I feel the need to add a little extra.

"I'm currently holding Jacob Carter's cell phone Sam. That's how I got your number. Hope to hear from you soon." I hang up feeling incredibly tired. I slowly stand back up and set the cell phone gingerly down on the table.

"I'm heading home now."  I say to no one in particular.

"I already called you a cab Kira, they should be here any minute."

"Why?"  I ask. I live less than two miles from the shop and usually bike into work.

"You're in no condition to bike."   Stefan says simply.  "Your quick thinking may have saved a man's life today Kree, and that's pretty heavy stuff."

"I may not have saved him Stefan."   I feel the waterworks threatening to come back in full force.  I close my eyes tightly until the feeling passes. 

"You might not have Kira, but you sure tried. You didn't panic and you did what was necessary without going all hysterical- none of the rest of us could have pulled that off."  I shrug. Bet someone would have if I hadn't been there.  People find the most amazing strength when needed.  A loud honk shakes both of us out of our serious discussion.

"Go home Kira.  Take a bath.  Have a hot fudge sundae." I smile weakly.   I was thinking more along the lines of curling up into a small ball and having a good cry.

"Thanks for your help Stefan." I say quietly gathering my things together.

"Anytime."  I head towards the door and turn around as I suddenly remember something.

"If Daniel or Jack comes in."

"The boy-man with the pouty lips or the military hunk with the great ass?"  I give a watery laugh and nod.

"I'll tell them what happened Kira." Stefan says gently. And with that I get into the cab and head for home.

Please be ok Jacob Carter.

a/n  Sniff. Had a need to be a little angsty.  Sorry!

Yes, I know that Jacob winds up in a military hospital, but in my spiel, he first gets taken to a civilian one.   And Yep- Kira is indeed called 'Kree' by her friends. Not often or anything but the nickname is indeed there.  You can just imagine the fun I'm going to have with that one*g*

15- Meritorious Service

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 thrown into my gear bag.

I am less than 20 feet away when I recognize who I'm looking at- Captain Sam.  I nearly stop in my tracks but realize there really 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 wasn't the reason why I suddenly found myself near mute.  What the hell was I going to say to her?  What if her dad is dead and she's come here to yell at me?

"Hi Kira."  Sam says somewhat shyly as she smiles slightly at my disheveled appearance and bicycle.  The fact that a) she was here and b) she wasn't crying told me that her dad was alive. I suddenly found 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 continued.   She looked slightly chilled standing there in a pair of jeans and dark gray sweater.  A well-used leather jacket was wrapped tightly across her waist.  Absently I wondered how long she had been waiting.

Come on Kira, you can do it.   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 says guardedly shoving her hands into her jacket.  For the life of me, I can't read her face.  "Can I come in for a few minutes?"

"Sure."  I say as 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 say as I set down the till by the cash register and start pulling upside down chairs off the tables.

"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 on, the cash is counted and still Sam and I have yet to talk.

"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 say 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 setting the steaming cup of coffee down next to Sam.

"Daniel's favorite." Sam says with a smile as she breathes in the heady aroma.  She takes a sip, lets out a contented sign and looks at me oddly.

"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 couldn't help it, I suddenly found myself blushing. Daniel mentions my name while 'in the field'?  Wow.   I absorb that 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. He goes on 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 says sincerely apologetic.

"Let me guess, it's classified."   I say shaking my head in exasperation.   Sam nods.  These military sorts are *so* secretive!  Sometimes I feel like I'm in an X-Files episode.  Maybe even an extra in the damn series! 

I had procrastinated long enough.   "How's your dad Sam?"  I say forcing myself to look into Sam's eyes and not the wood grain of the table.

"He's really ok Kira."  Sam says giving me a small smile.  "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 until he collapsed yesterday."  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 yesterday Kira."  Sam says looking at me with bright blue eyes.  I could see that she was struggling to hold her feelings in check as well.

"So if he was seriously sick with cancer yesterday, how can you be certain he's going to be fine Sam?"  I mentally kick myself for asking the question. I mean, maybe Sam's in denial or something?  Who am I to break her bubble?

"Dad agreed to undergo a radical cancer treatment yesterday afternoon." Sam said sounding a little like she had been practicing that particular phrase.  "The doctors said that if he survived the.process.. most likely his cancer would quickly go into remission."  Sam smiled widely as she gave me the next bit of news.  "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 I could tell that she was pissed with herself for letting that comment slip out.  I tried to keep my face blank, but knew I had failed miserably when Sam sighed and gave me some more details.

"Dad underwent the treatment with one other..person. It's totally 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."  I say with complete honesty.  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 look down and study 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 reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a small dark blue box and carefully opened it up.   Inside lay a sun-shaped bronze medal with a star and eagle etched into the background.  It was attached to a crimson and white ribbon.

"Dad received this Meritorious Service Medal back in Vietnam."  Sam gives an unlady-like snort.  "He 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 says simply.  "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 says closing my hand around the small medal.

"You sure?"  I asked again.

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

"I guess so."  I say standing myself.  My eyes are still fixed pointedly on the small medal in my hands.

"I should be going."  Sam says and she walks 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 say 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 was going to be a good day.

16- Walk in the Park

A/N: Be forewarned!  The following is damn funny and I will not be help responsible if you get in trouble while reading this at work or school.  'Nuff said.

It's the third week of November and here I am currently running in circles around Memorial Park. Somehow I don't think I'm living up to my IQ potential here. How the hell was I talked into a Thanksgiving 10K run, I'll never know. I mean, it isn't like we're living in California or something here. November 6th in Colorado Springs is freakin' cold!

So why don't I stop?

Because I'm vain. Vain, vain, vain. I said I'd run this 10k and I'll be damned if I'm going to back out because it's cold enough to... Put it this way, if I wasn't wearing a polypro turtleneck and 200-weight fleece vest, the whole world would be able to see just how bloody cold it really is. On the plus side, I'm currently being highly entertained.

My friend knows how much I don't like to run. Or rather, how inexperienced I am at running (her words, not mine). And so she made me a CD. A very, very amusing CD. I started the run with the theme song from the television show Wonder Woman, moved on to some Shaun Cassidy and Fleetwood Mac, and am now listening to the final strains of Jimmy Buffet and Gonzo (of the Muppets) singing 'Spaceman'. If you gotta run, doing so while laughing is the way to go.

I make the decision that whatever song comes up next that will be my final 2-4 minutes of the day- I'm wiped. I think I've gone about 5 miles. I round the SW corner of the park and eye a fountain a good 400 meters away. That will be my new official ending point.

I had just started pushing myself (it was my final 1/4 mile after all) when the next song comes on. I have to force myself to continue running and not stop in order to laugh up a lung. What's playing you ask? Oh that would be the theme song to Rocky. A rather fitting conclusion wouldn't you say?

I pour everything I have into those final 200 meters. I feel like my lungs are about to burst and I doubt my legs have ever moved that fast in their entire life, but the song just eggs me on. Faster and faster I run until I am certain the entire park must be staring at me in utter disbelief. I tag the edge of the fountain, pull off my headphones and crumple to the ground gasping and wheezing. It is several seconds later before I hear the clapping.


"Way to go Kira!" Daniel?

"Ms. Meyers, are you certain you don't want to try a career in the military? We can use athletic people like you." Colonel Jack?

"God Jack, don't scare the poor girl."

"What's wrong with the military Daniel? And careful what you answer, I'm not above ratting you out to Carter."

"Nothing's wrong with the military Jack.." Daniel pauses for a moment, thinking. "Actually there's a lot of things wrong with the military, but that's not the point here. I think if Kira wanted to enroll.."


"Enlist, she'd have already done so."

"Not too late though," Jack says. "For Kira that is," he clarifies. "You're nearly too old."

"Thanks Jack."

I finally get my asthmatic sounding breathing under control and lift my face up from its resting place against my knees.

"What are you guys doing here?" It is just way too weird seeing Daniel out of his natural coffee habitat. Both Jack and Daniel are dressed in jeans, but Daniel has a thick REI coat on over a sweater of some sort while Jack looks to be wearing an old army jacket. He has a baseball cap on that says ' Snakes Suck'. I find myself chuckling.

"What are you laughing at?" Daniel asks, as he offers me a hand up.

"Jack's baseball cap."

"See? I told you it was funny!" I turn around to see a teenage girl dressed in dark blue overalls. Whoa! Who's the kid?

"Hello." I say to the young teenage girl standing beside Colonel Jack.

"Hi," she replies somewhat shyly in return.

"Kira, this is Cassie." Colonel Jack says introducing me to the slim brown haired girl next to him. Whoa. Jack has a kid?!

"Cass, this is our friend Kira."

"You have friends outside of the SGC?" Cassie kids Jack cheekily. Definitely sounds like she could be related.

"I, too have wondered the same thing Cassandra Fraiser." I scarcely have time to absorb the fact that Cassie is not Jack's daughter (or if she is, she took her mom's name) before my eyes widen in surprise at the sight of the large black man standing before me. He has to be at least 6'4 and he's built like a line backer! He's wearing a funny looking hat as well. It's one of those handmade winter caps with a big purple and white pompom on the top. Not the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a guy his size. He doesn't seem to find it odd though.

"And this is..." Jack pauses as he opens his mouth only to close it again with an audible click. He frowns, temporarily drawing a blank on his friend's name.

"Murray," Daniel says emphatically. "This is our friend Murray."

"Nice to meet you both," I say giving them a smile. Cassie just giggles.

"You're Daniel's Barista, aren't you?" Cassie asks. Barista, Love Slave- it's all the same to me.

"Yeah," I nod.

"Mom won't let me have coffee yet," Cassie says with a frown. "Which is totally lame as I used to drink something just like it back in..Toronto." She shoots Jack a smug look and Jack just shakes his head as he rolls his eyes. I know I missed an in-joke or something, but I can't help but smile myself.

"You and Dr. Frasier are from Toronto?" I ask taking a large drink from my water bottle. Gatorade has never tasted so good.

Cassie looks a little uncomfortable. "Janet adopted me last year. I grew up in Toronto." Obviously this isn't a topic Cassie is comfortable talking about. I give her a polite nod and tactfully change the subject.

"So what brings you guys out to Memorial Park?" I ask.

"Frisbee!" Cassie shouts holding up a rigid blue disc and throwing it clumsily at Jack. "Both me and T.. Murray have never played before."

"So what's the verdict? Frisbee a good game?" I ask eyes sparkling, absorbing Cassandra's enthusiasm through osmosis.

"Frisbee is an excellent amusement that exercises hand eye coordination," Murray replies solemnly. Whoa! This Murray guy is one serious honcho.

"We're also using this time to show Murray around the town a little," Daniel explains. "He only moved here last year as well."

"Have you taken them up to see the Garden of the Gods?" I ask. The Garden of the Gods is one of Colorado's Springs better known tourist haunts; it's also a pretty damn cool park.

"Here we go," Jack mutters beneath his breath. Cassie giggles again and I can see Daniel attempting to open his mouth in response when I hear Murray answer.

"I do not like the name of your park Kira Meyers."

"It's just a name Murray," I say straining my neck as I endeavor to look Murray in the eyes.

"This may be so, but the designation of your park is repugnant to me." Repugnant? Murray speaks weird. And who the hell gets all weirded out by just a name? Instantly I chastise myself, because apparently I do as well. There's a new condominium complex being built near my apartment. The name? Tribeca. And that name weirds me out big time. Because Tribeca sounds too much like Treblinka and I had lost family in that concentration camp.

"That's OK," I reply with complete sincerity. Murray must recognize my earnestness because he gives me a small nod with his head and what I think might be an attempt at a smile. Hard to say.

"So where's Captain Sam?" I ask looking around.

"Carter?" Jack says spinning the Frisbee on his fingertips as if it were a basketball. "She and Janet and all the other female officers of our base are off 'bonding' someplace near Aspen." I swear I could actually hear the quotation marks around the word bonding.

"O'Neill," Murray states in a tone that I have decided is indeed his true voice. "I am still unclear how bondage techniques will assist the female officers of the SGC?"

Oh my god. Is this guy for real? My jaw has suddenly becomes unhinged and I know I am standing before them with my mouth wide open.

"That's female bonding T, not bondage," Jack clarifies patiently, as if Murray's misunderstanding of English was a common occurrence-, which, as I subsequently learn, it is.

"Murray's first language wasn't English," Daniel explains looking slightly uncomfortable. I nod in acceptance. Bondage. I'm going to remember that one for later retelling.

"Bonding is what the girls.."

"Women, Jack." Daniel corrects.

"Bonding is what women do when they get together and talk about women stuff." Jack explains to Murray.

"Captain Carter is a formidable soldier O'Neill. Why must she gather with other females? Does she not discuss military strategies and ideas with us?"

"She does Murray," Daniel agrees, quickly jumping in before Jack can obviously say something unwittingly offensive.

"But Sam spends so much time with us that every now and then it's good for her to gather with other like-minded female officers."

Murray's brow creases slightly in thought. "But what do they discuss DanielJackson?" This guy has a thing for first/last name combos doesn't he?

"Us." Jack says simply.

"Ah come on Jack!" Daniel retorts, sounding a bit exasperated. "Isn't that a bit stereotypical?"

"Daniel trust me on this ok? I have three older sisters and have probably been around the block a few more times than you. Girls get together and discuss guys- that's just how it works."

Daniel opens his mouth in what I am sure is going to be another defensive comment, but all he says is, "You have sisters?"

"Yes, I have sisters." Now it's Jack's turn to sound exasperated. "Come on, my name is O'Neill for crying out loud. Have you ever heard of an only kid in a Catholic family?"

"You never told us you have sisters Jack."

"I also never told you that my favorite color is not green Daniel," Jack offers in return. Oh well THAT clears things up.

"I could have guessed that Jack," Daniel says with a smile.

"Indeed, you have made it clear on numerous occasions that you do not appreciate the color green." Murray added with another slight nod of his head.

I suddenly whip my head around and scan the opposite end of the park. Did someone just call my name? All I see are pockets of people doing normal park-like stuff. In the far distance is one of those god-awful horse and carriage contraptions rented out by tourists. I turn back around.

"Sorry, thought I heard my name."

"I, too heard your name being called KiraMeyers," Murray adds with the same utmost seriousness.

"T has great hearing," Jack explains. Now it's my turn to raise an eyebrow. That's the second time Jack has referred to Murray as 'T'. I watch an almost comical non-verbal conversation between Jack and Daniel. It consisted of shrugs and facial expressions.

"It's a nickname I've given Murray over the years." Jack says finally in explanation. "Short for Mr. T." Jack looks at me like I should understand that; I stare at him incomprehensively.

"Oh for crying out loud, it wasn't that long ago!" Jack gripes. "Mr. T? As in the A-Team? Big black guy who liked to say 'I pity the fool' all the time?" Seeing no recognition on my face, Jack turns towards Daniel.

"Danny, you remember Mr. T, right?"

"Uh, actually Jack I don't." Jack lets out a very displeased sound. "But I have heard of the television show the A-Team," Daniel adds quickly. "I just never watched it."

"I miss Carter," Jack whines as he spins the Frisbee even more vigorously on his index finger. "She'd know what I mean."

"Sorry Jack, but I'm more of a Xena and Buffy girl myself." Any show where a girl gets to kick serious ass is a show I'd watch.

"You watch Buffy?" Cassie asks all excited.

"Absolutely!" I reply. "Buffy is my size and totally kicks ass! Plus that Angel guy is HOT!" I feel a little funny talking about another attractive guy when both Daniel and Colonel Jack are just a few feet away, but what the hell.

"Angel is a muffin isn't he?" Cassie says dreamily.

"Oh yeah!" I say pretending to fan myself. "And the fact that he's a vampire with a soul makes it so much more.. I don't know. Tragic." I laugh self-depreciatively. "That sounds silly, doesn't it?"

"Nahhh." Cassie says shaking her head. "So," Cassie says her eyes flicking briefly towards Jack and Daniel. "Do you believe in vampires?"

"I think so," I say nodding. "Most myths are based in fact, so i bet there is something vampire-like out there."

"What about aliens?" Cassie asks casually.

"I definitely believe in those," I reply emphatically. "There is no way we're alone in the universe. I'll betcha we have some sort of planetary 'Do Not Disturb' sign posted on the outskirts of our solar system.

"I wish," Jack mumbles.

Cassie grins and I can't help but continue. Little did the young lady know that I could really get going with space talk. Not that i'm a fanatic or anything, I just sincerely believe we aren't alone out there.

"I believe, a long time ago, aliens paid us a visit, deemed us too immature and warlike and decided to leave us alone for another couple millennia. I mean it makes sense, look at..."

I never get to complete my sentence, for suddenly I find myself face down on the cold damp ground with 170 pounds of lean Daniel Jackson on top of me.

Absently I wonder if I am dreaming. Daniel is still slightly sweaty from his frisbee pick-up game and he smells faintly of after-shave and something else I couldn't place. Essence of Daniel perhaps? Whatever it is, I seem to find it quite nice. Actually a little too nice if you know what I mean.

I quickly squelch that line of thinking and focus on the problem at hand. Why the hell was I thrown to the ground? I mean finding oneself pinned beneath the always delectable Daniel Jackson is great for a gal's libido, but seriously, I don't think this was something Daniel had planned on doing; which begs of course the question why.

Only a few seconds have passed and I can still feel Daniel's heart racing wildly against my back. He is breathing shallowly through his mouth and it is tickling the stray hairs on the back of my neck. Not an altogether unpleasant sensation but his reaction here is freaking me out. Whatever caused him to knock me down must have scared the hell out of him! I can't think of any other reason why his heart rate should be so high.

"Uh Daniel?" I ask in a muffled voice, as I awkwardly turn my head to one side to get a better view of the world around me. I mean, who knows? Perhaps Daniel knocked me down to prevent me from getting beamed by a stray baseball or something.

Out of the corner of my eye I can see Murray (Mr.T!) standing ramrod straight scanning the area behind us. His arms are positioned in such a way that it appears as if he is holding something. There isn't anything there though.

"It is clear O'Neill," Murray says with stoic seriousness. I hear Cassie let loose a shuddering breath and realize she is almost completely covered by Colonel Jack's body. For whatever reason Daniel saw fit to throw me to the ground, Jack had decided to envelop Cassie in his arms so that the smaller teenager nearly disappeared in his embrace. His chin rested protectively against the top of her head and she was pulled tightly against his chest. Both were crouched low to the ground.

Jack looks up from his protective position and eyes the horizon with concern. Suddenly his face breaks out into a wry grin.

"At least our reflexes are good," Jack jokes, as he helps Cassie to her feet. The young woman is obviously very shaken by the turn of events and suddenly bursts into tears.

"Shhh, Cass," Jack says soothingly as he pulls Cassandra into his arms again and begins rubbing her back. "We just over-reacted." Cassie says something I can't hear and Jack takes the opportunity to lead her several feet away from Daniel, Murray and me.

"Are you ok?" Daniel asks as he helps me to my feet.

"I'll live," I reply brushing patches of damp dirt from my running attire.

"I'm really sorry about that Kira," Daniel says apologetically. "And you deserve an explanation." I nod. You bet your sweet bootee I do.

Daniel looks pained. "And I really want to tell you but..." Suddenly his face brightens up considerably. "And I really want to tell you why."

"No you don't Daniel," Jack growls coming back hand in hand with a much calmer Cassandra Frasier.

"Yes I do Jack," Daniel insists meeting Jack's steely gaze.

"Daniel." Jack warns in a dangerously low voice. The kind of voice my mom uses only before the grounding begins.

"Jack." Daniel says in return holding his own.

"No Daniel." Jack is using his scary Colonel voice now.

"Don't you think Kira deserves to know why she was thrown to the ground Jack?"

"Probably," Jack concedes. "But you," he continues pointing a finger at Daniel "are not the person to tell her."

I suddenly find myself in the middle of a ping-pong match.

"Uh guys, it's ok. Really." I hold up my hands in the universal peace position.

"I'm going to tell her Jack," Daniel states matter of factly.

"No, you're not Daniel," Jack replies adamantly in return.

Before the arguing could get much further I hear my name being called; clearly this time.

"Kira!" Stefan says running towards me.

"Hey Stefan." I turn to face my red-faced friend. Stefan isn't one for exercise.

"Are you all right?" He asks worriedly eyeing Murray with obvious apprehension.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because I saw you get tackled by Professor Yummy here." Out of the corner of my eye I see Daniel blush and hear Jack chuckle. Stefan leans conspiraously towards me and whispers in my ear, "Is he as hard as he looks?"

"Stefan!" I shout, taking a step away from him and turning red myself.

"I'm just saying the guy looks like he must work out," Stefan adds innocently giving Daniel the once-over. Daniel squirms under his gaze.

"Why are you here Stefan?" I say finally.

"I'm doing the tourist thing with my new boyfriend," he points to a hunky looking Asian man in a nearby horse drawn carriage. "And have been trying to get your attention for the last half hour! You didn't hear me the first time because of those damned head phones but I called your name again not 15 minutes ago and you again ignored me!" Stefan doesn't like to be ignored as if you hadn't figured that out already.

"So finally I just said to hell with Mr. Nice Guy and shouted your name at the top of my lungs. The next thing I know you're down on the ground covered by Dr. Do Me."

I hear Daniel coughing uncontrollably at my side. Again Stefan leans closer in and whispers into my ear, "that's my fantasy Kira." Stefan gives Daniel one last look before straightening back up.

"Anyhow, I need to skedaddle, I just wanted to make sure you're ok."

"I'm fine Stefan." I reply giving him a shove into the direction of his awaiting boyfriend. "Your carriage awaits!" Stefan gives a little hand wave and trots back towards his boy of the moment.

"Sorry about that," I apologize turning towards the still red-faced Daniel.

"Your name is Kree?" Jack asks with a mixture of incredulousness and disdain. "As in rhymes with brie- Kree?"

"Yea-aaah," I reply slowly nodding. "It's a nickname." Jack continues to stare at me in utter disbelief. What's the big deal?

"Kree," Jack says once again in a resigned voice as he slowly shakes his head. "Daniel, out of the hundreds of baristas in the Colorado Springs area, you just happen to find the one girl in town who just happens to have a nickname of Kree?!" Jack makes a tutting sound. "Only you Daniel."

"Ok, now I do want an explanation," I insist loudly finding my backbone. Screw their secretive military crap- this is just too odd not to find out why.

Before Jack can voice his dissent, Daniel blurts out, "Conditioning."


"Conditioning," Daniel repeats nodding as he meets Jack's eye. Jack gives a resigned shrug and motions Daniel to continue.

"What I am about to tell you is not to be taken lightly Kira, and all of us would appreciate it if you don't share this with others." Daniel says this with total seriousness.

"Of course."

"The military is experimenting with language conditioning and the reactions it can provoke in soldiers. As you know in addition to being an Archaeologist and Anthropologist, I am also a bit of a Linguist." I nod.

"As you are probably aware, every country has different words that are used to convey 'stop', 'attack', 'retreat' and so forth. I have helped develop a language that can be widely understood by ALL militaries across the planet."

I swear I hear Jack mumble, "That's good Danny."

"Anyhow," Daniel continues shooting Jack an enigmatic look. "In this new language, 'Kree' conveys the meaning of 'enemy attacking' or 'danger, watch out'. When Murray, Jack and I heard your nickname being shouted so fiercely across the park, we instantly reacted as we were trained."

I ponder Daniel's explanation for several moments. It basically makes sense, but I still get the feeling Daniel isn't telling me the whole story here. But then again, he seldom does. And obviously isn't supposed too.

"I'll buy that," I say finally. "But I still request reparation for being so unceremoniously thrown to the ground." I decide not to mention that I actually wasn't complaining about that part.

"Name it," Daniel says earnestly.

"Breakfast," I say with a wide smile.

"IHOP!" Cassie screams. Seriously. The girl screamed the word IHOP.

"I too would enjoy a 'Full Stack' at The International House of Pancakes," Murray says.

"IHOP it is," Jack agrees with a flourish as he waves his hand in the direction of the nearest park exit.

"You sure you don't want to try something new Murray?" Daniel asks.

"I am curious about this 'Pigs in a blanket' food item," Murray says.

"This should be interesting," Jack mutters under his breath.

I just grin. Breakfast with Daniel AND Colonel Jack. I should train for 10ks more often.

More Authors' Notes: Believe it or not, there really is a Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. But that of course isn't the funny part; there is also a Garden of the Gods. As soon as I found that out, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Please let me know if you enjoyed this little ditty. I worked long and hard at trying to make it as funny as possible without going too over the top.

17- Breakfast at IHOP

A/N:  Bowing under the barrage of requests to continue the story at IHOP, I'm doing just that.  BUT me being me, I had to do something a little different.  SO, instead of telling the story from Kira's point of view, it'll be from Jack's.  Please let me know what you think!

And yes, you'll see a little jab at myself included in here.  You'll recognize it when you see it.

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.  An accident-prone archaeologist, a Jaffa warrior, an alien orphan and yours truly taking a coffee shop girl to breakfast.  A coffee shop girl with absolutely no military clearance what so ever. This should be interesting.

In front of me I notice Daniel talking animatedly to both Kira and Cassie.  Doesn't matter what planet we're on, Daniel always seems to be surrounded by girls!  Maybe it's his after-shave? Some day I'm going to ask Carter what Daniel has that makes women go all mooney around him.  Not that he'd notice or anything.

"You are pensive O'Neill." Teal'c says next to me.

"N'ah."   I say shaking my head.  "Just thinking."  Teal'c raises one of his patented eyebrows at me.  Daniel and Carter usually just roll their eyes at this point and sometimes I wonder if they really *do* think I don't know what I'm saying. But Teal'c knows.   He's a damn smart guy actually, despite the snake in his gut.  He's the only person I know who can speak volumes with just one flick of his eyebrow.

Do eyebrows flick?

I shake myself out of my random thoughts and concentrate on the problem at hand.   Yes, I said problem.  Kira Meyers is joining us for breakfast.  Now don't get me wrong, Kira is a really great girl.   Really.  She saved Daniel's butt (and probably delayed the onset of my gray hair by at least a few weeks) on more than one occasion and literally brought Jacob back from the brink of death.   She's smart as a whip and although she knows something a little hinky is going on over at Cheyenne Mt. she is content to let us double-talk her if necessary. I wasn't kidding when I mentioned her joining the military; she'd be a wonderful asset.  

But I know it won't happen; Kira has already been seduced.  And no, I'm not talking about the wiles of Daniel Jackson here.   But rather by books and education.   It's a sad but true fact- most of the really smart kids end up in the private sector.  Better paying jobs.  Hmmm.   Maybe I'll have Carter chat with her.   If there is one person on this planet who gives Daniel a run for his money on smarts, it's Carter.  AND she's military. 

Of course, the fact that Kira probably weighs 100 pounds soaking wet would probably mean she wouldn't make the best field soldier.  I *swear* I can already hear Daniel's voice telling me not to be a sexist pig. I'm a hell of a lot of things, but sexist I'm not; I'm just stating a fact.  I'm sure Doc Frasier would agree with me that on strength alone, (we'll forget the different experience levels on hand to hand combat) Sam would kick her ass. I smile at the image of Doc and Carter sparring.

"What's so funny Jack?"

Oops.   Didn't realize Daniel had fallen back from his fan club.

"Nothing." I reply.  "Just wondering what Carter and the rest of the SGC ladies are up too."

"And that made you smile?"

"I'm a happy go-lucky guy Daniel."


"We're here!" Cassie says enthusiastically as she shoves the door of the restaurant open.  In most aspects Cassie acts like a normal American teenager. But every now and then I'm reminded that she really didn't grow up around here.  Her enthusiasm for American chain restaurants for one thing. Usually it's 6, 7, or 8 year olds who gush over restaurants and going out to eat.  By the time they hit puberty the thrill is gone. Or so I've been told. I forcibly push the thought of Charlie never reaching puberty firmly out of my brain.

"I'm going to wash up." Kira says as she excuses herself. Good!  A chance to lay down the law; make sure everyone realizes that Kira is NOT a member of the SGC.  Not that we'd talk openly about what we do outside of Cheyenne Mountain or anything, but we do tend to talk about missions or aliens in a veiled sort of way when we go out.  Can't happen today kids.

The four of us are led to a back booth and are handed very large laminated menus.   With pictures.  Teal'c finds the menus nearly as fascinating as Cassie.    Aliens!  Can't take 'em anywhere.  I open my mouth to talk but Daniel beats me to the punch.

"Cassie, are you sure you're ok?"  Daniel asks taking the young girl's hand and giving it a light squeeze.  "I know being suddenly knocked to the ground by Jack can be pretty scary."

"And he knows this from experience Cass."  I add helpfully. Daniel isn't amused. Hey! At least I didn't bury his head into my chest!  Although come to think of it, I've done a little of that as well. 

Cassie shrugs. "It happened pretty quick Daniel- I just over-reacted a little after it was all over."   Cassie says attempting to be nonchalant; it doesn't really work.

"Your actions were very normal Cassandra Frasier."  Teal'c says in his no-nonsense just-the-facts-ma'am voice.

"I probably was responsible for freaking you out more than anything Cass."  I say seriously.  I know that covering Cassie's body with my own must have seriously wigged her out. I mean Cassie, is what? 4'10?  And here I am nearly a foot and a half taller than her, that's gotta be a little intimidating.  All I can say in my defense is that it was completely instinctive.    It's like parents and kids in cars.   The car stops short and dad thrusts his hand out in hopes of preventing the kid from bashing into the dashboard.   We *know* the kid is using a seat belt, but yet we still do it.  That's how it was with Cassie. Actually, I'm a bit like that with Daniel as well, but I'm not going to tell him that.  All I know is that there was *no* way I was going to allow a Goa'uld to get to Cass.  None. They would literally have to go through me.  The fact that we were on Earth was just a little something I forgot.

As did everyone else at this table; which reminds me.

"You just had to tackle her, didn't you Daniel?"  Cassie gives another small giggle and all eyes turn to 'Ladies Man' Jackson. Actually I might have to change that. Apparently whatever pheromone (yes, I know the word pheromone) Danny possesses isn't gender exclusive. I quickly file that away for future ribbing.

"Jack.."   Daniel begins turning red.  I'm telling you, the kid can blush on a dime.

"Actually Danny, you did good."  I say sincerely. "I know you may not like to admit it, but you really are turning into a decent soldier."

"Thanks Jack." Daniel says ducking his head. Have I mentioned that Daniel doesn't take compliments well?

"BUT, your little stunt did nothing to squelch the crush Kira has on you."

"Kira does not have a crush on me!"  Daniel says indignantly.

I am not the only person at the table who rolls his eyes.  "Wake up and smell the French roast Daniel- Kira totally has a total crush on you."

"Jack, just stop it! She does not."

I look to Cassie for support; she nods.  "I think she does Daniel."

"Not you too!"

"Cassie, you have a crush on Daniel as well?"  Cassie giggles. Although I wouldn't put it past the kid (and I'm talking about Daniel here not Cassie) to affect Cass as well, in this case I'm pretty certain Cassie views Daniel as an older brother and not a romantic interest.  God I hope so.

"I was just agreeing with you Jack!"  Cassie says giving me a toothy smile.  She turns towards Daniel. "But Kira does have a crush on you Daniel."

"How can you think that?!" Daniel asks incredulously. "You just *met* Kira 30 minutes ago."

Cassie shrugs. Teenagers and their shrugs eh?

"Look Daniel, the gay kid not withstanding.."

"Jack!"   Daniel says absolutely appalled at my choice of words.

"For crying out loud Daniel! The guy is a 20-something kid and he happens to be gay.   There is nothing derogatory about my comments!"

Daniel sits and glares at me. The waitress chooses that moment to make her appearance.  She's a chipper young woman in her mid 20's with bleached blonde hair (I could see dark roots) and bright pink lipstick.  Thankfully I could see no bubblegum.

"Can I get y'all something to drink?"  She asks in a soft southern drawl.

"Hot chocolate with lots of whip cream please."  Cassie says instantly.

"T?"   I ask turning towards Teal'c.  He is still wearing that god-awful ski cap.   A purple pom-pom?!  What the hell were they thinking!  I should have known better than to allow Cass to help Teal'c with his hats. Thankfully not too many people are brave enough to make fun of a 6'3 black guy wearing a girly pom pom hat.

"Water will suffice O'Neill."

"He'll have a chocolate milkshake."  I say making a decision. It's time Teal'c experienced one of life's simple pleasures- milkshakes. I know without looking that Teal'c is doing one of his eyebrow raise thingy's.  I really wonder how he does that.  I've tried it and let me tell you that raising a single eyebrow is damn hard.

"And he and I" I say pointing to Daniel and myself. "Will take two coffees."

"What about Kira Jack?"

"Make it three coffees."

"Kira doesn't drink coffee Jack."

Huh?   I turn towards Daniel.  "She works at a coffee shop and doesn't drink coffee? Isn't that a little weird?" Daniel shrugs.

"I'll have a diet coke please."  A voice says from behind the waitress.  Speak of the devil. Kira has obviously washed her face as well as her hands.  She has that freshly scrubbed co-ed look to her.  With her dark hair and green eyes, I bet you anything she has some Irish in her. Knew I liked her for a reason. Daniel squeezes closer to Cassie in order to make room for Kira.


The waitress nods and writes down everyone's orders.  "I'll be back with your drinks in a jiff."

"Jiff?"   Teal'c asks.

"She'll be back quick T..Murray."  Daniel replies. A little slow- but the oversight isn't bad considering my Mr. T explanation earlier.  I cannot believe no one remembers the A-Team.  

"How come you don't drink coffee?"  Cassie asks. Thank you! I was wondering the same thing myself.

Kira looks a little embarrassed and then cocks her head slightly to the right.  "Do you want the short or long version?"   She asks.

Both Daniel and Cassie say 'long' just as I say 'short'.  I know Teal'c probably won't weigh in here so with a flick of my wrist I acknowledge that I am out-voted and indicate that Kira should continue.   I might be the leader of the military's number one galactic task force, but even I know when to acquiesce.  (Yes, I know words like acquiesce as well)

"When I was a little kid I was kinda hyper."  Kira begins as she plays with her silverware. 

"Sounds like someone else I know."  I say giving Daniel a pointed look.

Daniel pretends like he ignores me, but I can see the little twitch above his right eye.

"Well, some of my grammar school teachers thought it might be best to put me on medication."

"Like Ritalin?" Daniel asks.   Before anyone can ask the question Daniel explains further. "Ritalin is a stimulant used to calm hyperactive children with attention deficit disorders."

"Only works on kids huh?" I ask.  This time Daniel shoots me a scathing look.   I hold up a hand.  Geesh! I was just asking.

"Actually Colonel Jack.."

"Jack."   The girl's gotta learn that!  It's Jack.  Jack, Colonel, O'Neill, Colonel O'Neill or Sir.  But not Colonel Jack.  Sounds like a racehorse or something.

"Actually Jack, it does." Sounds like a racehorse? Oh!  She means the Ritalin.

"Damn, and I was this close to getting you some help Danny."  Both Cassie and Kira are smiling openly.  Apparently I'm entertaining.  I think that's why Thor likes me.

"Although Ritalin *is* used on adults," Kira continues. "Some adults with ADD find that Ritalin still continues to help them as well, but for the most part the drug affect adults like it does kids.  And the reason it wouldn't is because Ritalin is a stimulant and stimulants tend to.. well.. stimulate adults."  She blushes slightly as she says this and don't think I missed the way she shot Daniel a quick glance.  Nope.   I didn't become a Colonel for my harmonica playing.

"But it calms down kids?" I ask.  Weird. 

Kira nods. "Yeah, it does. Usually."

Our drinks arrive and I realize that we haven't even cracked the menus.  "We need another couple of minutes."  I tell the waitress.

"Short version." Kira says as she opens her menu. "My mom didn't want to put me on some trendy drug and asked the doctors if there wasn't something else that could be done.  They told her that a simple cup of coffee might do the trick as caffeine is also a stimulant."

"Coffee and Ritalin are related?"  I say in amazement.   "Daniel, I guess you've been dosing up for years and didn't even know it."  Again with the eye rolling! Better cut that out Daniel or your eyeballs will freeze that way.

Kira nods again. "Yep.  They're related.  And so every day for three years I had a cup of coffee with my dad every morning. What's funny is that I honestly don't remember any of this.  All I know is that although I love the smell of coffee, to this day I can't stand the taste."  To make her point she took a long satisfying slurp of her diet coke.  Ewww!  It's only 10:30 in the morning and already she's drinking that crap?

We open our menus and check out the colorful choices.  Actually, seeing as there are pictures under most of the selections, most likely Teal'c will keep his odd-sounding queries to himself.  Actually, I'm starting to think he only mangles up English for amusement.  Our amusement.

"Belgium waffle with fresh strawberries and whip cream."  Cassie says within moments.  Gotta love a girl who can make up her mind. 

"I don't think they'll be fresh strawberries Cassie."  Kira adds as she pursues the menu herself.   "Strawberries aren't in season."  She adds as an explanation.

"They are in New Zealand." Daniel mumbles under his breath as he awkwardly turns one of the menus large laminated pages. Does he *ever* turn his brain off?

"That's ok." Cassie says as she closes her menu and waits patiently for the rest of us to make up our minds.  Me?   I'm easy. Biscuits and gravy with sausage, eggs and toast. Reminds me of the breakfasts my mom used to make.  Except edible. Mom wasn't the best of cooks. But she did like to experiment with biscuits and gravy.

"You know what you're having Daniel?"

"Yep.   Country omelet with extra hash browns." I'm about to ask Kira if she's ready when the waitress returns.

"Y'all ready?" She asks.  We all nod and go around the table letting her know what we'll have.  Kira goes for French toast with a side order of fruit.  She checks to make sure it's fresh.  She also asks for a refill on her diet coke.  The girl likes her fizzy beverages.

The waitress gathers are menus and leaves.

"When you get a chance, could I get a refill on the coffee Miss."  Daniel asks politely.  Sometimes I wonder how the hell he managed to stay polite.   I mean bouncing about from foster home to foster home isn't exactly conducive to turning out polite kids. 

The waitress nods and leaves.

"Have you gained a new coffee preference Daniel?"  Kira asks eyeing Daniel's empty cup.

"Kira, you have nothing to worry about.  Your coffee beats their sludge hands down.  It's just been a few days since I've had real coffee."  Oops. Strike one for Daniel. How're you going to get out of this one Daniel?  Tell Kira you were trapped on P2X-442 for 72 additional hours due to a freak lightening storm? I think not.

Kira raises an eyebrow (both actually- nice to know she can't do it either) in question. And the awareness of 'Geeze, I blew it again' flashes instantly across Daniel's face.  If I ever convince Daniel to play poker with me, I'm going to win a fortune!

"Commissary ran out of coffee and I was stuck on base working." Daniel explains glibly.   Wow.  I'm impressed. Although I'm not sure if I like the fact that he's becoming so adept at lying. 

Kira nods but I can see that she doesn't *quite* buy it. 

"Next time you come into the shop, we'll make sure you pick up some beans for work."   Kira says helpfully.  "In fact,."  She pauses and I can see the same wheel turning brain movement that I catch every now and then in Daniel.

"Daniel, I have a great idea.!"

Uh oh.   I tend to get nervous when brainy people get great ideas.    Carter's usually shock me, and Daniel's usually mean an extra day on some planet surrounded by trees. Kira continues on oblivious to my apprehensive look.

"Every week I get a free pound of coffee."

"But you don't drink coffee!" Cassie adds.

"Exactly!" Kira says pointing a finger at Cass. "Usually I give the coffee to friends, or trade it in ¼ pound increments for other stuff, but.."

"Like what?" Cassie asks.   Maybe I should step in here.  Kira is what, 21?  21 and in college?   I mean when *I* was 21 (and had I not already been in the military) I would have exchanged free coffee for beer.  Others I know would have done it for dope.  Of course, I truly doubt Kira will blurt out that she barters coffee for joints but you never know.

"I have one friend who works in a bakery and another who's a pizza delivery driver. All of us get free stuff from work and we tend to trade back and forth depending on what we need."

"Kira's a Communist Cassie." I add helpfully.  

"Jack!"   Daniel says in his 'I'm completely shocked at you' voice. Kira laughs.

"What is a Communist O'Neill?"  I shoot Daniel a look. His turn to field the question. He shoots me back with another look. Damn- my turn.

"Communists were made popular after World War II Murray.  There were several really large countries who didn't believe in electing their leaders and decided life would be peachy keen if everyone just shared everything. The story does not have a happy ending."

"I'll give you some books on it Tee..Murray."  Dammit Daniel! Would you just remember his name! I can see the little mice running frantically through Kira's head. But before she can open her mouth to ask a question, the tantalizing aroma of food saves us.  Or Daniel anyway.  The waitress sets down our plates and grabs Kira's glass for yet *another* refill of diet coke. My god, how many can the girl go through?

Daniel sighs as his coffee is refilled and dives into his breakfast with gusto.  Guess I'm not the only one who never feels really full on MREs.

"So what's your idea Kira." Daniel says in between mouthfuls. At least he swallowed his food before talking. 

"Well,"   Kira says after swallowing her own mouthful of French toast. "I have a proposition for you."

I nudge Teal'c and make eye contact with Cassie.  See? Proposition.   Daniel isn't even looking at me and yet he kicks me under the table.  What I'd do?!

"For every paper you proof read Daniel, I'll give you a free pound of coffee."  Kira says with a sparkle in her eye.  Daniel takes a moment to ponder this.

"I'm not always going to be available Kira."  That's right. There's aliens to meet and Goa'uld butt to be kicked. 

"That's ok!" Kira says cheerfully.  "But for every paper 15 pages or under that you proof read, I'll supply you with a pound of coffee of your choice.

"Including Jamaican Mountain Blue?"  Daniel asks. Jamaican wha?   Totally sounds like a drug.

Kira nods. "I can only get a pound of that a month, but it's yours for the proofing."

"I think that's a fair exchange."  Daniel says smiling. "What are you taking this quarter?"

"Ancient Greek 350, Mesoamerican Civilizations, and .."  Kira ducks her head slightly as if embarrassed.  "Archaeology 101."

"You haven't taken archaeology yet?!"  Daniel asks incredulously. "Kira, you have taken advanced courses in ancient history and religion and yet you haven't taken *any* archaeology?!"

"uh..no." Hmm.  Maybe I was wrong about the crush.  I mean if she was truly ga-ga for our resident rock hound, wouldn't she have enrolled in archaeology earlier?

"Can I ask why?" Poor Danny.  I see he isn't taking this personally at all.


"All the previous classes conflicted with the other courses I wanted to take."   See?  A perfectly reasonable explanation.  Daniel doesn't look convinced.  Kira suddenly snaps her fingers.  "I haven't told you yet!"

"Kira, take a breath, chew your food and THEN tell Daniel what you haven't told him yet." Kids! Why is it the smart ones always forget about the little thing like eating and sleeping?   I *so* bet Kira has lousy sleeping patterns.

Kira gives me a guilty look and shovels several forkfuls of French toast into her mouth. She slurps on her diet coke and pops a few grapes into her mouth for good measure.  She looks up at me as if to say, 'There, all done!' I give her a small nod and try not to smile.

"It looks like I'm going to Egypt next fall!"  Suddenly I feel a headache coming on.  Geeze, this girl could be the SGC poster child!

"What?"   Daniel asks instantly interested.   Even Teal'c raised an eyebrow at her pronouncement.

"I got accepted on an exchange program with the American University in Cairo!"   Kira gushes.  "I'll be only a few hundred miles away from where the great library of Alexandria stood!"

"That's fantastic Kira!" Daniel says giving her a one armed hug. Kira smiles. Don't think I missed that blush missy.

"I'll be taking Arabic next quarter and hope to do an intermediate intensive level language during the summer."

"Ambitious much?" I ask taking a bite of an over cooked piece of bacon.

"I'm kinda thinking I want to become an expert on the library of Alexandria and the lost tomes of the ancient world."  I rolled my eyes. I just couldn't help myself. Hopefully Kira didn't catch it.

"If these texts are lost, how can you hope to become an expert on them Kira Meyers?"   Right!  Nice catch Teal'c.

"While it's true that some are honestly lost Murray, many are just sitting un-catalogued in university and museum libraries, while others are hidden away in private collections. I'd like to try and catalog everything that is still remaining and maybe gather them together in one place. I know there must be so much information to be gleaned if only we knew what was out there!"

A piece of toast becomes logged in my throat and I start to cough.  The girl is a female Daniel!  Kira gives me a funny look as Teal'c hits me (hard) on the back.

"Thanks Murray." I say taking a drink of water. I shoot Daniel a smug look. *I* remembered his name.

The rest of the meal passes by without incident as Cassie shares with all what she is doing in school and Daniel actually tells a surprisingly funny story about camel racing. I pay for the meal on a credit card and we all get ready to go.

"Thanks for the breakfast Jack."  Kira says politely. Another polite kid. Maybe it's an IQ thing? I'll ask Carter later. Kira turns towards Cassie.

"I had a nice time meeting you Cassie."

"Me too Kira!" Cass says.  "Maybe you can come over some time and watch Buffy with me. Mom still insists on adult supervision if she works late."

"You mean a babysitter?" Kira asks.  Cass wrinkles her nose. She *so* doesn't like that word.

"Yeah."  Cass grudgingly admits.  "And usually if she works late that means these guys (she's pointing to me, Daniel and Teal'c) are working late too."  Of course what Cass isn't saying is that often when Janet works late, it's both DUE and often ON us.

"I'd love to come over and 'adult supervise' you sometime Cass."  Kira says warmly.

"That'd be cool." Cass says zipping up her coat.

"Do you need a lift home Kira?"  I ask.

"Nahh, I only live a few blocks from here."  Kira replies. I nod and decide not to insist. Had it been dark, THEN I would have insisted.  Hey! I'd do it for anyone.

Kira waves goodbye and sets off for home.

"I still say she has a crush Daniel."  I say as we head back to the park and our awaiting vehicles.  I picked up Cass in my truck while Daniel and Teal'c met us in a motor pool car.   Maybe one of these days Daniel will get around to buying one of his own.

Daniel doesn't seem to have heard me; he's off in his own archaeological world mulling over ancient libraries and exotic sandy locations.

To each his own.

More author notes:  That stuff about caffeine and Ritalin is pretty much true.

Chapter 18- Pondering

Tag for 215- The Fifth Race

It is one of those picture postcard days here in Colorado Springs.  The Rockies are all covered with a thick blanket of snow, the sun is shining brightly and the forecast is for a high of 28 F with no wind. That might sound cold to you, but up here, it's just perfect.  All things considered, mid-January doesn't get much better than this.

I'm in a good mood as I take the long way home from work.  I cut through the park behind the University and skirt around the edge of the playground.  I smile as I take in the guys playing Frisbee.  It had been about 3 weeks since my last park foray and that had ended with a free breakfast! I had only seen Daniel once since then. It was right before the weather went all wacky last week. That (the weather, not Daniel) had been weird.  Usually acute instances of global warming don't just stop after three days, but for some reason it did.  Someone up there likes us, that's for sure.

I'm so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I nearly walk right past him.  Actually I *do* walk past him but then I stop and turn back around. Yep- it's him all right.

Jack O'Neill.

Jack O'Neill sitting by himself on a park bench watching the world go by.  He looks sad.  The sound of children's laughter from the nearby playground seems to catch his attention and he turns to stare ata child being pushed on a swing.   Only his eyes move, as he watches the little boy swing up in a high arch and then back down with gleefull squeals.  

It's a little weird to see him so still. Hell, it's a little weird to see him out here by himself. I may not know Colonel Jack all that well, but he strikes me as a private guy.  The kind of guy who'd much rather hang out in the quiet of his house than in a noisy park.  It's a little disconcerting.

Well, I can't just walk past and not say hello.  Well, I *could* but I'm not going too.  I clear my throat and take a step forward.

"Oh, hey Kira." Jack says off handly as he looks up and slowly takes in my presence before turning back towards the kids in the park.  Absently I wonder if maybe one of those kids is his.  I sit down next to him.

And I surprise myself by just sitting.  For several long minutes I just sit.  I also take in the kids playing in the park, the brilliant blue of the sky and the general feeling of everything being ok in the universe.  Maybe Jack has something here.  He doesn't seem to mind my presence so after a few minutes, I take a moment to surreptitiously study him.  I notice how incredibly tired he looks.  He has large dark smudges under his eyes and he looks much older.  My eyes begin to move upwards and suddenly I let out an audible gasp.


Jack O'Neill has gone gray! There! Along the temples, he's really and truly gray. Actually, it's more silver than gray.. When the hell did that happen?

Jack turns towards me and gives me a funny look as my cheeks grow uncomfortably warm.   Smooth move Meyers.

"Something wrong Kira?" Jack asks cocking his head slightly to one side.

"Uh, no." I say in a voice slightly higher than my own natural alto.

"Uh huh." Jack says clearly not believing me.

"You have gray hair Jack." Might as well get it out in the open.

Unselfconsciously Jack runs a hand through his short brown and silver hair and gives me a short chuckle. "Yeah, I've been noticing that myself lately.  I'm going to blame it on Daniel."

"What'd he do this time?" I ask smiling, hoping I'd get a story. Somehow I know any story told by Colonel Jack O'Neill was bound to be interesting.

"More like a cumulative effect."  Jack says with a small smile.  He then turns back towards the kids.  I wonder if I should leave him to his solitude.  I'm just about ready to stand up when the sound of Jack's voice anchors me back to the bench.

"Have you always been smart Kira?"  Jack asks continuing to look straight ahead.  I give him a quixotic look as I ponder his question.

"Define smart." I reply.  Jack laughs genuinely this time and turns to look at me.

"Good in school, high IQ. You know- smart."

I shrug.   Well when he puts it that way..  "I guess.  I mean, I'm not Mensa* material, but I hold my own."  I say.

"Carter and Daniel are smart."  Jack says with a nod. A multi-lingual archaeologist and a PhD-toting Astrophysicist?  I think 'smart' is putting it lightly.

"I've never really been book-smart."  Jack says softly. "I was much more interested in girls and cars when I was a kid."  I smile. I could *so* see that.

"But you're a Colonel in the United States military!"  I say in rebuttal.  I couldn't quite remember if he was Army or Air Force.

Jack shrugs and does a funny hand wave as if that doesn't matter.  "But I'm not smart.  Sure I can dismantle and reassemble a P90 in less than 15 seconds, but what does that matter?"

"When you're being chased by a big-ass bear and that gun can save your life?"  I answer.

Jack gives me another funny look.  "Well sure, that might save a life or two, but what about solving the riddles of the universe?!" Jack says this angrily. I take a moment to ponder this.

"Solving the riddles of the universe?"

"Yeah- meaning of life stuff." Jack says with a heavy sigh.  "What if you were smart enough to figure out the answers to all those meaning of life type questions?"  I'm pretty sure it's a rhetorical question but I decide to answer anyway.

"I heard Stephen Hawkings speak once."  I say.

"The guy in the wheelchair?" Jack asks. 

I nod.   "Yeah.  He was giving a lecture at CSU and I managed to get my hands on a ticket and attend."

"Stephen Hawkings is smart." Jack concedes with a nod.

"Able to solve riddles of the universe smart."  I say. Jack shrugs.   "But if he found himself on a mountain being chased by a bear, he'd be dead in seconds."

"Your point?" Jack says tiredly.

"There will always be people who will attempt to solve the riddles of the universe Jack, but without guys who can keep them safe, they'll never find the answers."

"Maybe."   Jack concedes.  "Still being smart can be pretty cool."  He says this in a strange, nearly nostalgic voice.   Kinda like Charly from that book, Flowers for Algernon.**

"Jack, if I were trapped on a desert island with only my history books and intelligence, I'd probably die of sunstroke.  I don't know how to make a fire from scratch, where to find fresh water, how to find shelter in a driving rain- hell how to BUILD shelter in a driving rain.   But I bet you do."  Jack let out a short hmmph and gave me a wry smile as he gave me a small affirmative nod.

"And you don't think that's smart?!"  I say incredulously. "Hey, if trapped on an island of Ancient Greeks, I might be able to help you out, but only with the language and culture stuff.  If suddenly the Greeks decided they needed me as a virgin sacrifice.." 

"Virgin, right." Jack said under his breath.

"Hey!"   I say giving him a sharp elbow to the ribs. "I might still be a virgin." I can't believe I'm saying this to him.

"Kira, you're 21 years old and cute as a button, there's no way you're a virgin."   I don't know whether to be complimented or insulted. Still, Jack just called me cute. Those thoughts should keep me warm tonight.

"ANYWAY," I say continuing my what-if scenario. "If I were overtaken by a dozen.."

"Two."   Jack says getting into the game.

"Half a dozen fierce warriors," I say glaring at him.  "And I were taken to the alter and told that now I would die.  There probably isn't anything I could do about it. Sure, I'd try and talk sense into them, site some historical precedence or something.  But sometimes that just might not work."

"No kidding." Jack mumbles.

"And who's going to be the one to save my butt from the burner?"  I don't wait for his answer.  "Guys like you Jack; smart military guys who can assess a situation and do what needs to be done.  No pondering, no questioning, you just do it."

Jack just sits there for several long moments mulling over what I have said.

"Smart military guys can make mistakes you know."

"So can smart, meaning of life guys."  I answer. Jack sighs deeply and goes back to staring at the kids on the swing set.  I continue to sit with him for another five minutes before standing up. It's time for me to go. Jack looks at me as I stand. His silver hairs sparkle in the strong sunshine.  I decide that Jack O'Neill looks quite dignified with gray hair. 

"Your ears are turning pink Jack, don't stay out here too long."  I chide.

Jack smiles, eyes twinkling. "Just a little while longer mom."

I laugh and give him a short wave.  "Bye Jack."

"Bye Kira. Thanks."  Not really sure what he's thanking me for, but that's ok. Jack seems a little less sad than when I sat down and that's not a bad thing at all.

*Mensa- club for folks with really high IQ's.

** Flowers For Algernon. A book by Daniel Keyes about a guy with a really low IQ who gains intelligence only to eventually lose it again.

19- Mardi Gras

This was a really a bad idea.

Bad, horrid, nasty and have I mentioned bad?

"Quit scowling Kira and get on out there." Stefan says laughing as he shoves me out of the breakroom and into the crowded store.

"Easy for you to say." I grumble as I allow myself to be dragged forward. I can't fight too much; after all, I did show up for work.

The things I do for money.

As I round the corner, I am greeted with a cacophony of happy sounding voices. For all the excitement out here, you'd think this was a bar and not a coffeehouse!

"Would you at least try and have fun?" Stefan says giving me a playful pat on my butt as he ducks behind the counter.

As I said- easy for him to say.

Stefan is truly in his element. He's wearing tight, threadbare jeans that flare appallingly at the ankle and a loose peasant shirt topped by a suede vest, complete with tassels and beads. He can't stop grinning as he flirts outrageously with anyone who'll let him. Despite myself I smile. I mean if Stefan can have fun, the least I could do is try.


Thing is, it's hard to feel all fun loving and free-thinking (or is that fun thinking and free-loving?) when you're gussied up like a Jesus Christ Superstar reject.

You know this wouldn't be so bad if Victor hadn't insisted I wear ponytails. Imagine Marcia Brady with really big bushy hair and you'll understand my pain. I was NOT meant to wear my hair this way. Actually, looking back at photos, I think the only reason so many girls were able to wear this style was due to the fact that no one washed their hair much in the 60's. Seriously.

It isn't that my costume is really all that bad. Patchwork skirt with large denim patches (compliments of my mom) and several brightly colored scarves wrapped around my waist. I am wearing a simple long sleeve cotton t-shirt on top covered with a macramé vest (also my mom's). But it is the pigtails that are really driving me nuts. I pull on them one last time as I head out to the floor to bus tables.

And to think I could be safe and sound in my beloved library right about now, or perhaps freezing my ass off running a 10k around the park. But noooo, I had to sign up for a Saturday afternoon shift and don this Halloween reject of a costume. Don't get me wrong- I actually like dressing up on Halloween. But really, after the age of 10 or so, the only folks who celebrate Halloween usually do so because they're parents. Or in the company of large amounts of alcoholic beverages- there is a very good reason for this.

I look around at the 6 or so colorfully garbed Baristas and shake my head at the audacity of it all- Victor and his great ideas.

Thing is, it actually is a good idea. See, Victor and the other merchants in our little quarter of the city, thought it might be fun to kick off the annual Mardi Gras celebrations by having all the stores (and their employees) dress up. Of course, the fact that we're over 1000 miles from New Orleans and the bulk of the celebration was LAST WEEK doesn't seem to bother anyone. Still, holding the festivities right after Fat Tuesday seemed to be ok with everyone.

I guess we just needed a reason to have a little mid-winter party.

And that brings me to my present situation.

"So Kira, what are you giving up for Lent?" Stefan asks giving me a little eyebrow action as I tie on my apron and eye the growing number of dirty mugs and plates needing to be collected.

"I'm Jewish Stefan, we don't do Lent." I say releasing an exasperated sigh. I still don't understand this whole Lent thing. I mean, I understand the historical background, but the modern applications are what throw me for a loop. What exactly does giving up chocolate have to do with the crucifixion?

"Spoilsport." Stefan says as he puts the finishing touches on a truly beautiful latte.


"What are you giving up Stefan?" I'm not really sure I want to know actually. With Stefan, you can never tell.

He gives the customer his latte and with an ostentatious flourish, places one hand across his brow and sighs dramatically. "This year I am giving up regret."

"Puh-leeze!" I say rolling my eyes as I snap a towel in his general direction.

I head out to the floor and finish clearing the tables as another small batch of people squeeze through the front door. For the life of me I cannot figure out where everyone is coming from! Sure there were loud, obnoxious parties in the city core last night- but it's 11 o'clock in the morning! Shouldn't these people be at home? Watching some god-awful football game perhaps?

Oh wait a second! Football ended in late January. I mentally snap my fingers- that's why we're so crowded; we're between public sporting events! Baseball doesn't begin for another few weeks, football is over and it really is for the best not to mention the Denver Nuggets basketball franchise.

Of course hockey is always in style here in the Rocky Mountain State.

Surprisingly the next few hours actually fly by. The weird late morning breakfast crowd leaves and we're left with just a steady stream of mostly tourists. By 3:00 it had died down enough for Vic to send home Jenn and Jeff (they had been here since 7 am) and after admonishing Stefan and I to be good, (why'd he single out us?!) he left as well.

"Music!" Stefan says with a grin as he waggles his eyebrows at me. I can't help but laugh as he puts on the soundtrack to Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

"This isn't 60's music Stefan." I say primly.

"Abba got together in the 60's." He replies turning up the volume to 'Mama Mia'.

"Doesn't count." I say reaching over him and grabbing a CD from the pile of "approved" music choices. I'm not above playing my own music from time to time, but we have plenty of good 60's stuff to choose from- I'll save Priscilla for after we close.

I had just put on some early Simon and Garfunkel when I hear the tell tale jingle of someone walking through the front door. Instantly I dimple at spying one of my favorite customers when suddenly I realize I'm still dressed for a Grateful Dead concert and my pig tails are frizzing all over the place- I bet I look 14 years old!

Great! I look 14 and Jack looks. Absently I wet my lips. You really aren't supposed to look that good in your 40's. Totally inappropriate thoughts rush through my mind as I duck behind the espresso machine. Really mature I know, but it's an impulse thing. Maybe if I'm behind the damn thing he won't see me.

Initially, I am successful. It doesn't appear like Colonel Jack has spotted me, but I can see him just fine. Looking good Colonel J! That man so knows how to fill out a pair of Levis. I guess it makes sense that Jack and Daniel are friends. I mean, they don't seem to have a damn thing in common except a weird military connection and their attractiveness. Not that they'd really notice that of course. The truly good-looking guys never do.

Now don't go thinking that all I do is fantasize about Colonel Jack and Daniel all day long, 'cause I don't. Honest. I can go weeks without seeing them (or thinking about them) and then one day Daniel will come in looking like something the cat dragged in; pale and several pounds lighter, sporting assorted cuts and bruises. Naturally he can't tell me what happened. And then there's Jack. Not too long ago he stopped by with his arm in a sling and when I asked him about it he replied quite drolly, "Archery accident." Daniel nearly choked on his breve with that pronouncement.

I think of all of this as I remain crouched at Stefan's feet. Stefan keeps trying to step on me and Sandy (on register) is doing her best not to laugh. Some friends I have! I poke my head out sideways and catch a quick glimpse of one amused looking colonel. Seems Jack is pleased as punch at something and is feeling the need to share. He reaches in and takes out his phone, the whole time looking around the general area and grinning like a fool. I don't see what number he presses, but it is definitely someone on speed dial. I take the opportunity to leave the security of the espresso machine for the long counter space to my left. I decide now would be an excellent time to inventory the plastic cups. Stefan was about to rat me out anyway.

"Hey Sam." Jack says into his cell phone as he takes a step closer to the front of the line (he's now third).

"Nope, I'm not at Daniel's yet. Actually, I was hoping you could do me a favor." Again he looks around the shop and shakes his head still chuckling to himself.

"Can you pick up Daniel and meet me at Kira's coffee shop?" I duck my head even lower as I blush up a storm. Good thing Victor isn't here. 'Kira's' coffee shop?!

Jack waves a hand impatiently. "Yeah, I know we're all supposed to meet at his place, but trust me on this- you guys need to get down here."

He listens for a few moments and then darts his eyes in my direction. He can't really see me under the counter, can he?

"Kira? Yeah, she's here. I think she's hiding from me at the moment." Damn. He did see me.

"Why? I think she's embarrassed." Damn straight I am. Colonel Jack continues listening as he moves up to the number two spot in line. "Just go grab Danny Carter and come on out- you'll see why." He hangs up the phone and shoves two hands into his pockets as he patiently waits in line. Suddenly he takes a quick step forward and pokes his head over the counter.

"Hi Kira." He says smiling as he gives me a little wave with his fingertips.

"Uh, hi Jack." I say completely mortified as I stand up and straighten my skirt.

"What 'cha doing?" Jack asks innocently.

"Counting cups?" Damn. Should have said that without the question mark.

"Uh huh." Jack says pulling his head back away from the counter. The guy in front of him places his order (after giving both of us a funny look) and Jack steps to the front of the line as his turn comes up.

"I go it Sandy." I say sighing as I stand up. It had been a pretty dumb idea to hide from Colonel Jack O'Neill. He's probably had secret anti-hiding training or something.

"Think it'll be ok if I just take off Kree?" Sandy asks. I don't miss the slight flinch from Jack as she says this. I glance at my watch- 3:30 p.m.

"Sure." I say. That leaves just me on register, Stefan on bar and Kim to do the dishes (she's the low man on the totem pole as she started work just two weeks ago).

"I like the look Meyers." Jack says eyeing my colorful attire. I try to ignore the little thrill

I got from having Jack call me by my last name.

"Victor's idea." I say grudgingly. "For Mardi Gras." I add as an explanation.

"Wasn't that last week?" Jack asks as he checks his watch as if to verify the date.

"Uh huh." I say nodding. "Logistical problems." I say as if that can explain everything.

"Well, the place looks great." Jack says looking around the room once again. We have a Woodstock poster in one corner and several blown of (up?) photographs of civil rights leaders, protesters, Vietnam vets and just general images taken from the mid-60's. Outside the other shops have also gone all out with their decorations. Those who couldn't quite do the Mardi Gras theme (like us) were decked out in 1960's paraphernalia. Lava lamps could be seen in windows and Woodstock-type music is being piped out over the block loud speakers. Least we know they work incase we're ever invaded or something.

"So great, you thought Daniel and Captain Carter should some down?" I admit it- I am curious.

"Oh yeah." Jack said nodding his head vigorously. "They definitely need to see this." He pauses to look at my skirt. "Plus I think Carter has a skirt just like yours.

I laugh. "I doubt it's just like it." I reply. I take a moment to twirl around. "This is one of my mom's originals. Back in '68 and '69 she used to travel around the country selling them on the street. I think traveling along Route 66 was her favorite. As soon as she gathered enough money for the next leg of her trip, she'd pack on and move further west. My dad followed her through two states before she finally accepted his proposal!" The story of how my parents met and their subsequent marriage is pretty funny, but I doubt Jack really wanted to hear about it.

"You're kidding." Jack says completely flabbergasted.

I give him a funny look. "Nope. He really did follow her through two states."

"Right." Jack says nodding slowly. Why do I get the feeling that wasn't what shocked him?

Jack gives another little shake of his head as he turns his attention back to me. "Can I get a regular cup of coffee while I wait for the others?"

"Absolutely. We're brewing a fresh pot right now. Go take a seat and I'll bring it out to you."

"Thanks Kira."

I take out Jack's coffee a few minutes later and then find myself quite busy as a rush of college track guys comes on through. Seeing as they're buff, mostly male and slightly sweaty, my (oh so fickle) mind quickly forgets all about Jack O'Neill as I smile and take their orders.

It is a good 30 minutes later that I catch sight of Daniel and Sam walking through the front door. Jack had been sitting quietly as a mouse in the corner of the store; I had honestly forgotten all about him!

"Well at least I'll get a decent cup of coffee out of this whole thing." Daniel grumbles as he opens the door for Sam.

"Daniel, I'm sure the Colonel wouldn't ask us to come on down unless there was a good reason."

"Very good reason Carter." Jack says standing up and taking a few steps towards them. "Look around guys."

Both Daniel and Sam stop dead in their tracks as they look around the room and catch sight of both Stefan and I decked out in our colorful attire.

"Well this looks strangely familiar." Daniel says in an amused voice.

"Déjà vu?" Sam says taking a step closer to the Woodstock sign.

"And check out Kira's skirt." Jack adds as he waves me over to the little group.

"Hey Kira." Daniel says warmly as he smiles at me. Forget what I said about not thinking about Daniel all the time. When that man smiles, I can't think of anything BUT Daniel.

He gives me a quick once over. "Nice threads."

"Thanks." I answer somewhat shyly as I struggle to resist the urge to tug on my ponytails once again.

"Sir, isn't that.." Sam begins as she eyes my skirt.

"Yep." Jack replies. "Although your skirt was just a bit longer I believe." Jack says eyes twinkling in amusement. I try not to be offended. Captain Sam has a good 6 or 7 inches on me- any skirt she'd own would be a lot longer.

"AND it seems Kira's mom used to make skirts just like that back in the late 60's. Sold them on the road along Route 66."

"No way." Daniel says sounding years younger than his 30+ years.

"Way." Jack says nodding vigorously.

"Uh guys?" I ask once again completely baffled as to their behavior.

"Sorry Kira." Sam says apologetically as she shoots Daniel and Jack a scolding look. "We had a costume party of sorts last week on base and the skirt I wore looked remarkably like yours."

"It's a pretty standard style Sam, I doubt you have one of mom's original skirts!" I say with a laugh. I mean, can you imagine the odds of that?

"Yeah, you're probably right." Sam says not sounding all too convinced.

"Can I get you guys something to drink?" I ask, feeling the need to take the attention away from mom's skirt and me.

"I'll have a double tall mocha." Daniel says instantly.

"Do you have Chai here Kira?" Sam asks.

"Yep." I reply. "We can make it with either regular milk or soy milk."

"Regular would be great."

"Another refill Jack?" I ask.

"I'm good." I nod as I walk back to the cash register. Stefan is already busy steaming the chocolate milk.

"Chai Carter?" I overhear Jack say as he leads his team back to his table. "What the hell is Chai?"

"In Russian it means Tea Jack." Daniel adds helpfully.

"Then why didn't she just say 'tea' Daniel?"

"Sir, you really do need to get out more." Sam says chuckling softly. "Chai is a kind of tea drink, but made with lots of milk and spices. Nutmeg, cloves- cinnamon-it's like a latte, only made with tea."

"Sounds like that stuff we were served on..during that fact finding mission we went on a few weeks ago."

"Very similar to that Sir." Sam says nodding. "That's when I remembered that there's other things to order in a coffee shop besides coffee."

"Nothing of consequence though." Daniel says as he gratefully accepts the mocha I had to him. "Cheers Kira."

"Daniel, you are such a coffee slave." Jack says chiding his friend affectionately.

"I don't deny it Jack." He says taking a large sip of his beverage.

"Thanks Kira," Sam says as I hand her the chai.

"Would you like a taste Sir?" Sam asks offering Jack her beverage.

"Maybe next time Carter," Jack decides, wrinkling his nose slightly. "I think the last stuff I drank gave me a bit of a hangover."

"You barely touched the drink Jack!" Daniel scoffs.

"Well excuse me if I'm a little cautious these days about accepting food or drink from strangers!" Jack says hotly.

"I think it's only food that's given specifically to you that you need to be worried about Sir." Sam says trying not to grin.

"That was not my fault!"

"Uh huh." Daniel says taking another drink of his coffee.

"Daniel." Jack warns pointing a finger at his friend.

"This tastes great Kira," Sam says, attempting to break the mood and interrupt whatever strange conversation Jack and Daniel were having. It seemed to work.

"Thanks," I say as I leave them to their cryptic conversations.

As I reach the counter I can just hear Colonel Jack taking one last jab at Daniel. "Just remember Danny, you've had far more let us say 'unusual' adventures than I."

"Yeah, but I'm the flakey archaeologist Jack- it's expected of me."

Jack lets out an exasperated sigh. "Carter, can you or Murray do something stupid the next time around?" I laugh quietly as I tune them out and focus my attention on the next person in line.

They stayed in the shop for another 15 minutes or so and spent most of the time reminiscing about some 60's party they had gone too. The conversation didn't make a lot of sense, as I would only hear bits and pieces of conversation before having to help another customer. Eventually Jack announced that they should get going and they all stood up and headed towards the register. Jack paid while Daniel bussed their dishes for me. (Yet another reason why I'm a proud member of the Daniel Jackson fan club.)

"Have a good rest of the weekend guys." I say to them as they head out the door.

"Will do Kira. You do the same." Jack says in return.

"Sam!" I shout as I run to catch them before they leave. Everyone stops and turns to look at me. "If that skirt you have is one my mom made, there should be a small daisy appliqué sewed into the waist band. That was my mom's signature back in her seamstress/vagabond days."

"I'll make sure and have a look Kira." Sam says smiling. "Take care."

"You too." I stand in the doorway for several seconds watching them amble down the street. Sometimes I really wish I could follow them to work and see just what it is they do. So many in-jokes! But in the meantime I'm content just giving them their occasional beverage and hearing second hand what they've been up too.

And having Daniel help me with my homework.

More Authors' Notes:

One last thought- I do have Jack calling Sam 'Sam' on the telephone and thought long and hard about that. The thing is, that although Sam will probably not be able to drop the 'Colonel' or 'Sir' title- Jack can. Go back and watch 'Spirits'- as Sam goes off on her first mission lead, Jack calls her 'Sam'. In my humble opinion, it isn't until 'Out of Mind' (Hey Carter, can I count your freckles for you?) that other, non-military and not strictly friend-related ideas start filtering through his head. IMHO. <g>

The Barista bonus chapter, The Trouble With Eavesdropping is a little too long to include in this bundle of chapters. Make sure and read that though if you really want the complete Season 2 Barista series experience!

Compiled June 2003

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