Title: Barista Complete Season 5
Author: dietcokechic ( dietcokechic@hotmail.com )
Category: Varied (Gen, Humor, Angst, Romance)
Rating: PG - R (for language, some [minor] sexual content & Stefan-inspired innuendo.

Author's Notes: All Season 5 Barista vignettes in one document.
Date started: May 29, 2005 - Completed: November 1, 2005.

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

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

I really am listening.

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

Well, sort of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And Sam?"

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

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

"That should be fun."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

"Right!" I say sarcastically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And what does that mean?"

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

"'Outside the box'?" I repeat.

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

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

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

"You really think so?"

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

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

"I have to go, Kira."

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

"Thank you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Within moments the acknowledgement screen appears:

Thank you.

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

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

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

Title: Barista 42 -- Another Day in the Life
Season: Season 5
Spoilers: 0504 -The Fifth Man 0506 -Rite of Passage
Category General/Humor
Rating: PG-13 (Language)

It's been three weeks since I sent out those applications. So far, I have heard a 'thanks, but we're not hiring' reply; 'send us an updated resume after you've graduated' reply; and a promising request for a translation sample from the London foundation. I never really thought I'd hear back from the CIA (3,000 resumes a month!), and I think I'm kinda happy about that.

"Kira, phone!" I cringe as I hear Stefan shouting my name. I have no idea why Victor even bothered to buy these phones with transfer buttons -all anyone does around here is scream at one another.

Due entirely to the noisy espresso machine of course.

"Got it!" I shout in return not feeling even remotely hypocritical; the machine is running after all.


"Kira?" I smile to myself. Why if it isn't my favorite archaeologist!

"Hi, Daniel," I reply in a far better mood than I was in just moments ago. "We still on for this afternoon?" Daniel has been such an amazing help with this course I'm taking in linguistic classification systems. He keeps bringing up these crazy 'what if' scenarios that leaves me chomping at the bit to try to solve. This is by far my favorite class to date, and I'm seriously contemplating doing my thesis on alternative paradigms in the cataloging of ancient languages.

I am so the nerd.

"Yeah, about that..." Daniel's voice trails off. "I'm going to have to cancel on you, I'm afraid."

I try to hide my disappointment. "Should I even try and ask why?" After hearing years of both believable and unbelievable excuses (my favorite is still 'kidnapped by aliens'), I always give Daniel an easy out.

"Probably not," Daniel says with an audible sigh. "Hold on a second, Kira." I can only imagine that Daniel is now covering the phone, for all I can hear are muffled voices. Ah, but unbeknownst to Daniel, I have great hearing. Plus, the whole linguist thing means I'm pretty good at discerning conversations.

Even conversations I'm probably not supposed to hear.

"I'm going to ask her."

"Daniel, you can't!"
"I'm not going to say anything Sam -just ask."
"This is really not a good idea."
"And hacking into base security was?"

I'm doing my best not to laugh as Daniel comes back on the phone. "Kira, have you ever heard either Jack or I mention a Lt. Tyler in the last couple of weeks?" I think about it for a moment.

"No," I say finally. "Who's Tyler?"

"Er, no one," Daniel says too quickly, as he deftly changes the subject. "I'm not sure how long I'm going to be stuck on base, but I'll try and stop by in the next couple of days, okay?"

"Sure," I reply. "Take care of yourself, Daniel. And tell Sam hi from me." Daniel says goodbye and hangs up. I spend a couple of seconds staring at the phone.

I really do have weird friends.

I'm behind the counter when Jerk Number 351 comes through the front door (yes, we do keep track). Instantly I know he's a Jerk because of the way he's talking on his cell phone. Yeah, I know -cell phones may be the wave of the future, but they sure can be annoying.

"I don't care if you are caught, piggy back on the hack and give me a name!" Had this guy been in an office, he so would have slammed down his phone.

"Idiots!" he mumbles to himself, as he gets in the short line to order. I take the order of the woman in front of me, as I ponder the well-dressed Jerk behind her. I know I'm staring at him, but I can't help it -the guy looks really familiar. I have just finished counting back the nice lady's change, when it hits me.

"Q!" I say aloud.

"Excuse me?" Jerk sneers with a huff, as he steps up to the counter.

"Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like the character 'Q' from Star Trek?" Jerk frowns and does not look amused. I wonder if it is because he hears it all the time, or heck, maybe he is the actor who played Q!

"No," he says finally, glaring at me with poorly hidden scorn. Guess he's not an actor. I also don't think Jerk 351 likes me.

"My mistake," I say sweetly in return. It always throws these rude guys for a loop when I'm uber nice girl. It doesn't hurt me for karma either. "What can I get you?"

"Double tall Americano." He says it in a tone that implies I'm a lowly servant girl and he's the Lord of the Manor. Two or three years ago, that probably would have offended me, but now? Hell, I might even be more educated than him!

Even if I don't exactly know what I want to do with all this education.

I really wish he hadn't ordered Daniel's favorite drink though, it almost seems blasphemous, ya know? I (grudgingly) ring up the order and am not surprised when he gives me the exact change, and then only drops a few (lightweight) coins into the tip jar. He is just picking up his drink at the end of the bar when his cell phone rings.

"Simmons." Ah, so Monsieur Jerk has a name. He listens for a few moments and then smiles. It isn't a very nice smile.

"I knew it had to be one of the Wonder Twins who did it," he says with contempt. "Too damn smart for their own good..." He listens for a few moments. "How much did she see?" Apparently, whatever it was, it doesn't seem to concern Jerk Man. Er, I mean 'Simmons'. "A four digit number isn't going to tell them a damn thing," he replies cryptically. I really need to stop eavesdropping -it's always so unsatisfying to hear just one side of the conversation!

"And there is still no medical reason for their group delusion?" Obviously, he doesn't give a lot of credence to this particular delusion. Wonder what it is? He pauses while the person on the other end replies. "Good!" he replies, flashing that superior-looking smile (so similar to 'Q' I'll have you know...) "Keep me informed of anything new -I'll be on the base in 15." With that, he hangs up the phone, stuffs it into his suit pocket and picks up his coffee.

Base huh? I sure hope he's not heading to Cheyenne Mountain - I don't see him and Jack getting along too well. I hope he's like some kind of visiting Washington oversight guy or something (the suit is a dead giveaway), and will leave in the morning. He totally gives me the creeps.

Even if he does look like Q.

Stefan is behind the counter, and I'm on the machines when a cute teenage couple comes in a few days later. Rather than go straight up to the counter, they stand in the back of the store and contemplate the overhanging menu. I always laugh when I see folks do this -it's a coffee shop for crying out loud, I mean, it isn't like there are things on it you've never seen before.

"Damn, too young." Stefan murmurs under his breath as I take the order from a 30-something guy in line. It takes all my self-control not to cringe at his comment. You know for a minority himself, Stefan is completely un P.C.

"Plus, the kid is straight," I add, when I turn my back to get the 30-something's coffee bean order. Both of us know that we're talking about the cute 16-year-old boy and not the equally cute young woman hanging on his arm. I glance at the lovebirds behind my shoulder, and then turn back around and do a complete double take. Hey! She isn't just doing the teenage "hanging on your boyfriend's arm" thing; she's really hanging on his arm. I'm contemplating asking her if she needs help, when her boyfriend beats me to it.

"Cass, are you all right?" cute kid worriedly asks, giving his girlfriend additional support around her waist. Points for the boyfriend!

"I'm fine," she replies, sounding every inch a petulant teenager. Ah man! When did I get so old? "Just need some caffeine."

"You sure?" he asks not sounding convinced as he tightens his grip on her waist. "You feel a bit warm..."

"Don't you start with me, Dominic!" she says angrily, pulling away from his embrace. "It was all I could do to convince my mom to let me go to school today."

"You have been sick this past week."

"It was just a cold -no big deal." Boyfriend Dominic doesn't look like he believes her. "Besides," she croons (totally laying it on thick), "if I hadn't convinced her I was better, she wouldn't have agreed to let me go out tonight."

"She wouldn't have made you stay in on your birthday!"

"You don't know my mom," she mutters shaking her head. "Consider yourself lucky she didn't lock me an ICU or something."

"Oh, come on Cass -she can't be that bad." Wow. A boyfriend actually sticking up for mom -wonders never cease.

"Ha!" Cass replies, shaking her head. "Remember when I got the chicken pox last year? My mom totally took me back..." her voice trails off, and she shakes her head as if trying to dispel the memory. "It doesn't matter," she says finally. "Let's just say that I wasn't exactly sitting at home watching soap operas during the week I missed school."

"Bummer." Now he's sounding like the 16-year-olds I remember! They have just stepped up to the counter when I realize...


"Oh my gosh, Kira!" Cassie replies, all smiles. Wow! I seriously don't know if I would have recognized her had we just passed casually on the street. Cassie was a little girl when I saw her in the park a couple of years ago. And now? Well, let's just say I'm not surprised she has a boyfriend.

"How are you?" we ask at the same time.

"You first," I urge. No one is behind them, so there's no rush.

"Oh you know -school..."

"And boyfriends," I tease. Cassie blushes.

"Dominic, this is Kira," she says, introducing us.

"Hey," Dominic greets me, in that ever so effusive way teenage boys tend to have. Damn, there I go again! I am old!

"How are you?" Cassie asks. "Every now and then I hear about what you're studying from either Jack or Daniel."

"Really?" I can't help it -knowing that Jack and/or Daniel mention me to others makes me feel all warm and glowy inside.

"Oh yeah -the stories we heard from Daniel when you were in Egypt last year! I thought Jack was going to shove Daniel back thru the...well, back to the desert!" I grin.

"What would you like to drink?" I ask them.

"I'll have a tall iced mocha," Cassie says and Dominic..."

"I'll have an almond latte," Dominic finishes.

"Hot?" Cassie scoffs, "it's at least 80 degrees out!"

"I like my coffee drinks hot," Dominic explains. Fair enough. Cassie and I continue to chat about our favorite military guys (I'm smart enough to realize that I won't be making her happy if I ask how her mom is doing) as Stefan makes the drinks. I try to prevent them from paying, but Cassie won't hear anything of it. She is certain Jack would find out that I hadn't allowed them to pay for their drinks, and give her hell. Yeah, right.

Cassie is handing me over a ten-dollar bill and two quarters (total charge: $5.50) when all of a sudden I yelp and drop the coins on the counter; I've just been shocked!

My fingers might be smarting, but poor Cassie looks like she might faint. "Cassie, should I call your mom?" I ask, resisting the urge to shake my hands to stop their tingling.

"I'm fine," she whispers, looking at my fingertips. "Sorry, Kira."

"That'll teach me not to handle coins without being grounded," I joke. Cassie doesn't seem to find it particularly funny. They pick up their drinks from Stefan, and after assuring me that she'd tell her mom, and all those I know hello from me, left.

Right as she exited the door, our lights flickered. I look at my reddened fingertips and make a mental note to talk to Victor about having the store checked out by an electrician.

It's late when I get home. I eat leftover Chinese food directly out of the carton and power up my laptop for another rousing evening of linguistic literacy. I'm nearly ready to call it a night when I notice three new messages in my "junk" folder. I never get anything except spam in this folder, but haven't quite opted to have it all automatically deleted -- you never know when that cute TA from Antiquities is going to drop me a line...

I delete an advertisement for hair growth and another for GIRLS XOXOX. The third one just says, "Regarding Linguistic Position". I'm positive it's going to be a "position" that isn't exactly wholesome, when I read whom it's from.

No WAY. I blink and rub my eyes in disbelief. This so has to be a joke.

I read it again.

No joke.

"Dear Applicant,

My name is Judy, and I assist with the recruitment for the CIA's analytic component, the Directorate of Intelligence.

We want to thank you for submitting your resume to the CIA, and to ask you to complete the following documents as a next step in working with the Central Intelligence Agency."

The email goes on for another few paragraphs discussing how I made it through the first part of the application process and describes in detail what more they need from me. I read thru the entire email message twice and check out the three attachments. Apparently they want me to fill out an initial security form; school transcripts; and an original analytical or linguistic writing sample. Whoa. I sit in the dark and stare at my computer for several minutes in complete awe. It's one o'clock in the morning and I've just passed the first hurdle towards working for the CIA. I think words like "surreal" were invented for just such an occasion. I want to call a friend (or two), but still am not certain if that email will be there in the morning. What kind of name is "Judy" for a CIA recruiter anyhow?

I power down my computer and head to bed. I'm certain I'm going to dream about Mulder and Scully tonight. Oh, I know they're FBI and this is the CIA -but both are just so completely outside my league...

What the heck as I going to do next?

Title: The Barista 43 - Harbingers
Season: 5
Category: General, Angst & Humor
Episode Related: 511 - Desperate Measures
Rating: PG-13 (Stefan. Need I say more?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. He has some seriously nice-looking eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Plenty of smart people work for the CIA."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Not that often Daniel."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I am?"

"You are."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Barista 44 -- The Viewing
Season: Season 5
Spoilers: 0512- Wormhole X-Treme!
Category Humor
Rating: PG-13

Author's Notes: This one is pure (albeit cheesy), unadulterated fun. Enjoy! Oh, and just in case it isn't blatantly clear, I know nothing about the television industry and am totally making all of this up.

"So who'd you sleep with to get this one?" Allison asks, as she settles herself into the overstuffed chair in the corner of the room. Alli used to work at Victor's before she went all high and mighty on us and started her own flower business. I can't wait until I can afford buy her stuff!

"I resent that!" We hear Stefan shout with exaggerated indignation, as he walks into the room balancing a large bowl of chips in one hand and homemade guacamole and salsa in the other. My mouth salivates at the thought of Stefan's guacamole - the man can cook! Or at least jazz up a few avocados.

Stefan really doesn't have a leg to stand on with regards to all of us wondering where the heck he got this television show from. His penchant for dating rather.interesting men has long been a source of much merriment for all.

"So what's the story?" Chris asks, taking a large handful of chips and unceremoniously dumping them in his lap for easy-access munching. Wordlessly, Stefan hands him a plate. Stefan met Chris at school. Shockingly, they both took an instant like to one another in spite of having virtually nothing in common. Chris is Hispanic, built like a linebacker and straight as an arrow. Apparently, the two are inseparable on campus and always do their group projects together. The best part is that because Chris is straight, Stefan's current boyfriend, Elliot, isn't jealous.

"We get to beta-view a pilot television show," Stefan explains, taking a seat between Elliot and me on the couch. Damn. Here I am once again, sandwiched between two gorgeous gay men.

I know! Poor me.

Absently, I think of Kyle and wonder what he would think of all of this. He definitely likes Stefan, but I'm not sure if he would have wanted to come to this. Would I have come if he hadn't? And why am I even thinking of things like this? Probably because I have a sinking suspicion that, he wouldn't have liked it.

But then again, I don't know if I'm going to like it either.

"Beta-view?" Allison asks, wrinkling her perfectly plucked eyebrows. Mine stay like that for maybe three days. I blame it on my rather hirsute Russian ancestry.

"Beta-view," Stefan replies nodding. "We," he begins throwing his arms around Elliot and me, "are a typical American family, testing a television show to see if it's marketable."

All of us burst into laughter. Chris laughs so hard, he nearly chokes. Allison hands him a glass of wine, but he waves it away and heads into the kitchen for a beer. Naturally, he brought his own beer.

"Oh come on,"Stefan grouses, as he looks at our amused faces. "It was the only way I could get the tapes. We're about to see something no one has seen before, isn't that exciting?"

"It could be complete crap," Chris offers coming back into the living room.

"Or it might be another X-Files," I offer. Everyone looks hopeful - we're all big fans of the X-Files, in spite of David Duchovny's dissatisfaction with the show, and what we're certain is his last season. Nostalgically, I think back to when the show really rocked.

"So what are we waiting for," Allison asks as she gets up and grabs the tape from the coffee table. "Let's get this show on the road."

Before the show even begins, we watch several ten, twenty and thirty-second "spots" for the show. 'Wormhole X-Treme!'? Gee, wonder who they're trying to be? I laugh at the opening credits.

"Prepare for an X-treme adventure! Four X-cellent heroes in an X-traordinary new sci-fi series! Starring Nick Marlowe as the wry Colonel Danning." We all laugh as Colonel Danning head buts what I'm sure must be an alien and states, "As a matter of fact, it does say Colonel on my uniform." He then grabs some green alien babe and kisses her senseless. I groan, grab the remote control and hit pause.

"Wasn't Nick Marlowe that guy from that soap?" I ask the room. Oh, aren't I the articulate one?

"Oh yeah," Alli says, nodding her head enthusiastically. "He was a frequent guest-star on 'Night Passions' for nearly two years," she sighs happily. "He so fathered Brooke's baby."

"That was Justin," Elliot interjects rather primly. Ah Elliot - you are such the fag. Oh, I know Stefan is totally gay as well, but usually he just plays the gay card when he's trying to impress or horrify. But Elliot? He's a regular fruit cocktail.

"No way!" Allison disagrees. "Everyone knows he was still trapped in Alaska when she conceived. The baby had to have been Greg's."

"Frozen sperm," Elliot says nodding. "Brooke was artificially inseminated with Greg's sperm."

"I don't believe you."

"I have the whole season on tape and can prove it." Prove it? Who the heck proves soap opera stuff?

"But what.."

"Ladies," Chris interjects, addressing both Allison and Elliot. "Can we please get back to the show?" He shoots me a dirty look and silently warns me not to stop the tape again. I can see how badly he wants to take the remote out of my hands. Before beginning again, I ask one last question.

"Did anyone actually see the word 'Colonel' anywhere on that guy's uniform?" Everyone shakes their heads - you'd think the writers would have caught that one. Or maybe it's the producer's job...

"Kira, quit being so critical!" Stefan chastises. "It's just a TV show." I sigh and hit play again before passing off the remote to Stefan and pouring myself another glass of wine. It's going to be a long night.

I watch as the dashing Colonel Danning (dashing, but short) interacts with some brainy military chick who seems fairly cool. For the life of me, I can't understand what the heck she's talking about, but I bet that's the idea. If what she's saying actually turns out to be real science, I'll betcha Kyle would understand. I am happy that she looks rather "normal" and isn't some gorgeous blonde babe in overly tight clothing whose previous career was modeling lingerie.

Next up in this menagerie of space explorers is Dr. Levant who apparently likes to look all pouty as he whines on about alien rights.

Aliens? //I was kidnapped by aliens//

Everything seems to slow down as I take in Dr. Levant's heart-felt plea to Danning (not that it did any good) and physical characteristics. He appears to be the same height, same build, has nearly the same glasses and even worries his lip in the same way as another Doctor I know.

I blink and quickly look over to Stefan. He just grins at me and shrugs - he sees it too. I know it! Before I can even wrap my mind around what I'm contemplating, I turn back to the TV to hear about Grell the Robot. A robot? Oh, come on!

We watch another five minutes of spots and then the pilot begins.

With half my brain, I listen to how this round ring thing transports people to and from other planets via a wormhole in space. Okay, now that is pretty cool. The show itself is complete sap however, full of slapstick humor and silly plastic props. Very much shades of Star Trek with perhaps a little X-Files thrown in. Colonel Danning is an obvious philanderer with questionable leadership skills; Major Monroe so needs to get laid; and can this Grell-bot even speak or is he only capable of raising that solitary eyebrow.

Ah, but it's the other half of my brain that is critically watching Dr. Levant and recording every mannerism, facial expression and word he says. Throughout the 41 minute show, I keep steeling glances at Stefan. At first, I think he's with me, but later I don't see him wondering why it is that Dr. Levant, an archaeologist and linguist, looks so damn similar to another archaeologist and linguist that we both know.

He's even wearing Daniel's glasses. I swear those are exactly Daniel's glasses.

The show ends and everyone takes a few minutes to stretch, eat and refill their wine glasses (or beer) before we fill out the questionnaire. Apparently, we have to work for this free screening.

I really want to corner Stefan for a few minutes, but he is taking the opportunity to play hostess and although he winks at me, doesn't stop long enough to chat. I steal Alli's chair in the corner as we reconvene.

"First question," Stefan says as he brings out the questionnaire. "On a scale of one to ten (ten being high), how would you rate this television show?"


Stefan laughs. "Well, this is going to be an interesting survey, isn't it?" He puts down 'five'.

"Question Two: Who was your favorite character?" Before we all blurt out our answers, Stefan amends the question. "I'm going around the room on that one. Let's start with Alli, and move clockwise." We all mumble our agreement

"Danning." Oh, big shocker there.

"Danning." This from Elliot of all people.

"Major Stacy Monroe," Chris says after a moment's pause. Naturally, the straight guy chooses the babe.

"Kira? Who'd you like best?"

"Guess!" I say a little too loud. I felt like I was underwater.

"We have Kira down for Dr. Levant," Stefan remarks casually, as he ticks off a box on his sheet.

"What about you, Stef?" Elliot asks.

"Oh, I thought Grell was just brilliant." Grell!

"Question Three: On a scale of one to ten (ten being high), was the show realistic?"

"Oh puh-leeze," I blurt out. "The military guys were walking around with giant 'Xs' on their backs!"

"I liked the 'Xs'," Allison says.

"Needed more glitter." This of course was from Elliot. We average our scores to a robust 'four' and move on.

"Question Four: On a scale of one to ten (ten being high), how would you rate the following: Acting, Costumes, Storyline, Special Effects?"

All of agreed that although the special effects in the beginning were a little weak (their wormhole portal was so lame), the ship at the end was wickedly cool. The storyline was interesting, if rather far-fetched (I know, I know - its science fiction). I thought the acting was pretty mediocre and over-acted, but Ellliot, Allison and Stefan loved it. Chris was closer to my camp on that one. All of agreed that the costumes could be better.

"Question Five: Do you believe in aliens?" Four sets of eyes dart in my direction. Apparently, my reputation precedes me.

"Oh come on," I say looking around the room. "This show aside, how can there not be alien life out there?"

"No contact," Chris replies.

"Hey, if I were an alien, I'd leave us the hell alone, too," Stefan adds, coming to my aid.

"Do you think there are flowers in outer space?" Ah, Alli - if there's oxygen, I'm sure there would be flowers and trees.

We go through over a dozen additional questions, some rather silly as they were more about marketing products than the show itself. I answer each question along with everyone else, but my mind can't seem to focus on anything except Dr. Levant.

//Kidnapped by aliens//

It must be the wine.

"All right, last question," Stefan pauses as he reads it, and then bursts out laughing.

"What's so funny?" I ask. Stefan shakes his head and hands me the paper. I read question ten aloud.

"Are you, or anyone you know independently wealthy, or affiliated with a television network looking to host new programs next fall?"

This show is so not going to see the light of day. Although I wonder.

What would Daniel say if I were to show it to him?

More Author's Notes: Cue fade out and X-Files theme music! No, Kira hasn't quite figured it out, but a seed has been planted and you'll just have to wait and see what's in store for her. Thanks to the Yahoo group for painstakingly transcribing all the SG Transcripts to date!

Not to put a crimp on your Barista enjoyment, but I have to remind you all (as if you weren't painfully aware of the fact) that we are less than ten episodes away from Meridian. Now, you know as well as I that the events of that show just might affect Kira. Seeing how I really don't want you to see it coming, I'm going to stop saying which episode I'm writing about (if any). So from here on out, if you have NOT seen all of the episodes of Season 5, beware of spoilers!

Title: Barista 45 -- Vicissitude

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

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


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

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

Really uncomfortable silence.

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

I never said I was logical.

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

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

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

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


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

I beat him to it.

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

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

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

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

I would never attempt to teach Sumerian to third graders.

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

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

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

In any language.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except maybe Daniel…

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Force guy.

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

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

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

"I am?" Daniel asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And this one…?"

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

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

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

Déjà vu!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What's going on, Daniel?"

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"You saw that?!" Jack asks.

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

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

"You worked on that show, Jack?"

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

Then I get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yep," I reply, nodding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good thing one of us does.

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

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

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

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

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

"Any problems with the drive up?"

"Naaa," I reply shaking my head.

"Nervous?" I guffaw loudly in his ear.

"What do you think?" I ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all my friends will be checked out as well.

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

Maybe Daniel and Jack actually work for the CIA!

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

And pigs fly.

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

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

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

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

Title: Barista 46 -- Crossing the Rubicon

Author's Notes: This one isn't written like a traditional Barista (Kira, first person), and reads pretty much like an everyday Stargate story (third person, team). I honestly can't recall if I've done one like this before. Regardless, this one is fun and a wee bit pivotal. (Damn. That was a hint, wasn't it?) Hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing it.


"Good morning, campers!" Jack O'Neill said jovially, as he sauntered into the gate room promptly at 0600. "Everyone ready for a fun-filled day on P7X-…" he looked at Major Carter expectantly.

"431 sir," Sam replied with a smile before continuing. "It's approximately 0900 on the planet, and we should have between four and a half and five hours of sunlight in order to reach our destination and set up camp." She was fairly certain the Colonel knew exactly where they were going, and why they needed to leave so early (elliptically speaking, the planet was incredible!), but if he liked to play the bumbling colonel every now and then, she wouldn't call his bluff. This was of course what a good 2IC did.

"I was just about to say that, Carter," Jack said with a wave of his hand. He adjusted the brim of his cap and seeing that his team was present and accounted for, gave Walter the signal to dial it up.

"Sleep well, Teal'c?" Jack asked conversationally as the gate began to move.

"I successfully kelnoreemed, O'Neill," Teal'c replied in his usual even tone. After all these years, Jack O'Neill was still somewhat of an enigma to Teal'c. He could remain on watch for hours without scarcely moving, yet seldom could stay still (or quiet) for the sixteen seconds the gate took to lock onto an address. Curious.

"One of these days, I'll give that another go," Jack remarked as the third chevron locked. He leaned in slightly towards Teal'c. "I don't have to shave my head, right?"

Daniel listened to the morning banter dispassionately and concentrated hard on not yawning. It really was unfair how chipper Jack O'Neill was at 6 AM. Jack had this uncanny ability to not only come instantly awake no matter what the hour, but usually to do so in a good mood. Well, that is unless there was a very good reason for him not to be in a good mood. Say, waking up in a Goa'uld cell, or meeting the Tok'ra (especially Anise) – these tended to make Jack a little grumpy. No, Jack O'Neill was definitely a morning person.

Daniel Jackson on the other hand, was not.

Oh sure, he had worked on many digs. Often due to the location and extreme temperatures, Daniel usually had to be up with the sun (if not before). Many times, Daniel completely forgot about the early hour because he was so excited to get started on his work. However, that didn't make him necessarily a morning person. No, in order for him to be a true morning person, Daniel needed coffee - preferably a double tall Americano from Victors. Making his own using the French Press Sam had gotten him all those years ago was good – but it just wasn't the same.

And he never had enough refills.

Daniel sighed and mentally crossed his fingers that the mission would go smoothly and they would be back by Wednesday; he really needed to talk to Kira. Daniel frowned slightly as he felt the outlines of a single piece of paper in his front jacket pocket. On second thought, he really needed to talk to Jack.

The bad news was that the source of the naquadah readings was a good 15 kilometers from the gate and the solar day ended in less than six hours. The good news was that it was a beautiful day.

Jack idly thumbed the safety of his P90 and wondered what was going on with Daniel. Yeah, sure this mission wasn't archaeological in nature, but Daniel usually had plenty to say about the planet. He hadn't spoken more than a few words to either Sam or Teal'c, and hadn't said anything to Jack except to indicated when he needed to pee.

Something was going on, and as leader of SG-1 (not to mention Daniel's friend), it was up to Jack to figure it out. He slowed down his pace until he and Daniel were walking side by side.

"Nice day," Jack said conversationally. He grimaced even as the words came out of this mouth; he so sucked at small talk.

"Yeah, it is," Daniel replied sullenly, as he continued walking straight ahead. He was too lost in his own thoughts to really pay any attention to Jack. Jack was slightly surprised (and more than a little proud) to see that although Daniel's thoughts seemed to be a million miles away, he was holding his weapon correctly and his eyes really did appear to be tracking the terrain ahead.

Wow. He really does know what he's doing these days.

Deciding to forego small talk completely, Jack stopped short and turned to face Daniel. "You wanna tell me what's going on?" Daniel frowned.

"Well, I was walking…" Daniel began.

"Oh, cut the crap, Daniel," Jack interrupted good-naturedly. Daniel might be in a foul mood, but Jack felt just fine. "Something has been bugging you since we left the SGC – and it's more than the fact that we left too early for you to get a decent cup of coffee." In spite of himself, Daniel half-smiled. Jack knew about that, did he?

"You couldn't convince Hammond to let us leave just thirty minutes later?" Daniel whined, trying to keep the topic off of him. He had actually forgotten all about his missed coffee, but now that Jack had brought it up…

"Hey, it was Carter's call," Jack backpedaled, holding up a hand in defense. Okay, so technically it was his call because he was CO, but it was Carter who had told him about the three-hour "gate lag" between worlds. Not to mention the fact that each "day" on this world was just sixteen hours long; six hours of sunlight and ten hours of darkness. Was it his fault that it made the most sense to get an early start?

"Yeah, I know," Daniel replied, having already forgotten the pain of foregoing his morning coffee.

"So, what's up?" Daniel stared into his friend's eyes and knew he couldn't wait any longer. After three hours of walking, he was pretty certain the planet was Goa'uld- free and there didn't seem to be any human colonies close to the gate. No major predators, no sentient vines… now was as good a time as any. Daniel reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. An extremely well-read piece of paper.

"Do you know what this is, Jack?" Daniel asked, waving the paper in his friend's face.

"No Daniel, I can't say that I do," Jack replied calmly. Jack's first reaction was ‘divorce papers', but of course that couldn't be it. Funny what comes back to a guy after six years…

"At first I thought it was a joke," Daniel began as he started pacing up and down the mossy floor of the forest. "I mean, it had to be a joke…" Daniel's voice trailed off as he glanced down at the paper in his hands.

"Daniel, what does the letter say?" Jack asked gently. Whatever it was, it was obviously making Daniel very upset. Ipso facto - Jack was now upset

"It's from the CIA." Jack's brain froze for a moment as he did a mental double take. Well that was unexpected.

"The CIA wrote you a letter?" Jack asked, needing clarification. It was bad enough having the NID breathing down their necks, if his team was being harassed by the Central Intelligence Agency (although what the hell would those spooks want with them?), Jack needed to know.

"Yeah," Daniel answered morosely, glancing down at the paper again. "Jack, they even had my current address!" Considering how many times Daniel had moved or been declared dead, this was actually quite impressive.

"What does the letter say, Daniel?" Jack repeated, looking at his friend expectantly.

"It's a reference check," Daniel replied darkly as he started walking again.

"A reference check," Jack repeated matching Daniel's pace.


"Someone you know is looking to work for the CIA?" Daniel had oodles of scientists working under him. While Jack couldn't imagine anyone quitting a job at the SGC in order to work for the CIA, stranger things had happened. Say aliens building the pyramids for example.

"Someone we both know," Daniel clarified. He gave Jack a quick glance as he continued to walk forward. For the life of him, Jack could not think of anyone they both knew (at least someone close) who would ever want to work for the CIA – especially someone who would ask Daniel for a reference check before himself. Unless it was a scientist…

"Dr. Lee!" Jack said, snapping his fingers. "You didn't give him that raise he asked for and…"

"It wasn't Bill, Jack," Daniel scoffed in reply. "Besides, I did give him a 6% raise. He deserved it."

"You did?"


"I think Lee makes more than me," Jack mused aloud.

"I still make more than Bill, Jack."

"So, only you make more than me, then." Jack clarified.

"Well, I did decipher the Stargate after all…" This was a familiar game for the two men. Daniel actually did make more than Jack – but he didn't have a military pension nearly as good. Neither of the men were materialistic, and neither spent even half the money they earned (saving the world usually resulted in a hefty Christmas bonus), so the slight discrpency in pay wasn't a big deal.

"I give up Daniel," Jack said after thinking about it for a few more seconds. "Who do we both know that is applying to the CIA?"



"Kira," Daniel affirmed with a nod.

"Our Kira?" Jack repeated, still not believing what Daniel was telling him.

"Yeah." Both men walked in silence for several moments.

"Intelligence Officer?" Jack asked, curiosity piqued.

"It doesn't say," Daniel replied holding up the letter to read for the thirty-second time. "I don't think so."

"Well, we'll just assume no on that one, shall we?" Jack added. "After all, she has known us for nearly five years and I'd hate to think we were some kind of test…"

"Jack, you're missing the point!" Daniel cried, stopping again as he faced his friend. "Kira wants to work for the CIA!"

"And you don't want Kira to work for the CIA," Jack clarified.

"God, of course not!" Daniel replied vehemently. "Do you?"

"Daniel," Jack answered patiently. "If I remember correctly, you also didn't want her to work for the Air Force or any branch of the military service."

"It's a post 9/11 world, Jack!" Daniel replied in a loud voice. "Of course, I don't want her working for the military!"

"She's going to graduate soon, Daniel," Jack continued, in a rational voice. "She'll need to do more with her life than make a damn fine cup of coffee."

"I know that!" Daniel cried angrily. He just didn't know what to do about it. Or rather he did…

"Where do you see her working, Daniel?" Jack asked softly. Being the smart guy that he was, Jack had a fairly good idea of what Daniel was going to say next.

"Here, Jack." Daniel let out a long sigh and stopped moving.

"P7X-431?" Jack knew it was the wrong thing to say, but he just couldn't resist.

"Jack, would you be serious!" Daniel was in no mood for games. "I see her working with us. Here. Earth-here, that is. At the SGC." Jack nodded and looked thoughtful. He took a moment to look around. Ah trees...

"Carter, Teal'c you copy?" Jack asked as he keyed his mike.

"We copy, sir," Sam replied.

"I am here, O'Neill."

"We're going to stop here for the night. Why don't you and Teal'c do a perimeter sweep while Daniel and I get the tents set up?" Sam was a very good 2IC; she completely understood the Colonel's veiled order. He wanted to talk to Daniel. Alone.

"Understood, sir," she replied. "Teal'c and I will circle around and come back to you from the south. I anticipate it will take us twenty minutes."

"I believe it will be closer to thirty minutes, MajorCarter," Teal'c added. Jack looked away so Daniel couldn't see his lips twist upwards in a small smile – his team rocked! Daniel meanwhile had taken off his backpack and had begun to rummage around in search of the elusive tent.

"That would be great, T'. Yell if you need anything – O'Neill out."

"I think Teal'c has the tents," Daniel said, as he looked up from his half-open backpack. "I have the stove and fuel, Sam has the food, you have the.."


"Well, you have to have one of the tents," Daniel corrected. "Because Teal'c shouldn't be carrying both of them…"



"Come here." Jack waved his friend over to a "clean" bit of a log. "Pull up a stump." Daniel's shoulders slumped as he allowed his pack to fall over and plopped down next to Jack on a mossy bit of wood.

"You want Kira to work for the SGC," Jack repeated.

"Yes." Daniel picked up a broken stick and began to dig in the dirt like a petulant child.

"You want Kira to work for you at the SGC." It was best if Jack fully understood the situation at hand.

"Yes." More digging. Had Daniel not been so intent on his digging, he would have seen Jack break into a very large and sincere grin.

"Well, it's about frickin' time!" Jack declared, slapping Daniel on the back. The jolt, combined with Jack's words caused Daniel to nearly fall of his log.

"What did you say?"

"You heard me," Jack replied, eyes dancing with merriment.

"You want Kira to work for the SGC?" Daniel knew Jack liked Kira, but he never imagined that he would agree to this.

"Daniel, I knew I wanted Kira to work at the SGC since the day your appendix decided to give up the ghost and Kira was there to save your ass." Jack grinned. "And not for the first time, I might add." Daniel was speechless.

"You've wanted Kira at the SGC for over a year?!"


"And you never said anything?" Jack chuckled as he shook his head.

"Daniel, I take it you want her with you – your team, I mean." Jack was 99.9% certain that Daniel and Kira's friendship was platonic, but there was that very strange day after Shifu…

"Of course I want her on my team!" Daniel cried, not catching any of Jack's innuendos. "She's brilliant, Jack! She has this amazing ability to look at a new language and figure out how to not just speak it – but organize it. Catalog it – make it available for others. I need someone like that on my team."

"Then she's yours," Jack said simply. "I mean, if she agrees that is."

"That's it?" Daniel was stunned at how easy this was.

"Daniel," Jack said with a sigh, "I did a cursory background on Kira two years ago."

"What?!" Instantly, Daniel was on edge.

"Hold on – hold on, let me explain."

"Please do." Now this sounded like the Jack he knew.

"When the hell did you lose your trust, Daniel?" Jack asked, completely taken back. He knew that Daniel had been thrown a curve ball here, but seriously, there was something going on with young Doc Jackson. Jack made a mental note to try to figure it out in the next couple of weeks. He knew it couldn't possibly be all about Kira. Jack tried a different tack.

"Daniel," he started in a sincere voice. "It isn't unusual at all for me, or anyone in the higher ranks of the military, to run background checks on civilians that are spending a lot of time with our people."


"Really," Jack affirmed with a nod. "Remember last year when that that new guy, Collins I think his name was, left the SGC without notice?" Daniel vaguely remembered the incident. Gary Collins was a civilian contractor who had worked in biomedical. He nodded at Jack to continue.

"Well, it turned out that he was having a relationship with a cocktail waitress across town." Daniel looked at him expectantly. "She wasn't a cocktail waitress, Daniel."



"Kira, is not NID, Jack."

"Of course she isn't, Daniel! I'm just making a point here."

"Your point being that you check up on people?"


"You just randomly decided to do a background check on our Kira?"

"God, Daniel! You can be so damn dense sometimes!" Jack cried in exasperation. "I wanted her to work for the SGC!"

"You did?"

"Of course, I did! I knew right away that she wouldn't be interested in the military, but I was sure hoping she'd continue studying languages. And do you know how long those background checks can take…"

"Well then why didn't you tell me, Jack?!" Daniel was pissed. Pissed that Jack had run a check on Kira. Pissed that he hadn't told Daniel about it. Pissed that…

"Because Daniel, I knew she'd be your employee."

"So?" Daniel simmered with belligerence and hurt.

"Daniel," Jack said taking his friends by both shoulders and roughly turning him towards himself. "She would be working for you. I couldn't very well tell you whom to hire."

"Since when has that…" Daniel's voice suddenly lost all traces of anger and animosity as he realized that Jack was right. "You've never told me who I can or can't hire." Daniel stated quietly.


"In fact, you've never bothered me at all about my staff." Realization hit Daniel like a pail of cold water.

"Uh uh," Jack agreed shaking his head. "I might have annoyed you about everything else under God's green earth, but never that."

"No," Daniel said nearly inaudibly. "You never have." A great whoosh of air whistled through his teeth as his head dropped heavily towards his hands. "I'm such an ass."

"Occasionally," Jack agreed amicably.

"So, let me get this straight, Jack," Daniel began. "You ran a check on Kira two years ago."


"And you've been waiting all this time for me to come to you and say I wanted her on my team?"

"Pretty much," Jack said shrugging. "I was curious which direction she would go with graduate school, but after she went to Egypt, I knew it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that she'd have to work for us."


"You really didn't become a Colonel because of your looks, did you Jack?"

"Well, it didn't hurt.." Jack replied smiling, mentally sighing with the knowledge that everything was going to be okay. At least today anyhow. Off in the distance they could hear Teal'c and Sam returning. He helped Daniel to his feet as Teal'c appeared through the trees.

"Everything all right?" Sam asked worriedly. Something had obviously been bothering Daniel for a while, and Sam hoped he and the Colonel had talked about it.

"I believe so," Jack replied. "We good, Daniel?" He looked a little uncertainly at his friend.

"We're good," Daniel replied with an affirmative nod. He looked down at the crumpled paper in his hand.

"So, what are you going to do?" Jack asked. Now that Daniel knew that he wanted Kira at the SGC as well, Daniel had some decisions to make. Daniel looked at his team, eyes twinkling with delight.

"Make her a better offer."

So are you smiling? Grinning even? My goal here is to have each and every one of you positively bouncing up and down in happiness (I figure if I am, it's only fair you are too). The Rubicon is a river in Italy and (so the saying goes) the one that Julius Caesar led his army over the river and thus began a civil war. In common vernacular, the phrase is used to mean "take the decisive step", "bite the bullet", or "make one's move". Now does it make sense?

Title: Barista 47 -- Two Weeks


I watch the child holding tightly to the polished chains and smile.

When I was little, I used to love to swing. I remember going to the park with my dad and pumping my legs for all they were worth, begging him to push me harder so I could swing just a little bit higher. My favorite part of each push was that moment, that brief instant when you reached consensus with gravity and felt like anything was possible. Perhaps this push would be the one that would send you up and over the swing set (the secret wish of all young children). Or maybe gravity would release you all together and permit you to fly off towards the stars. As crazy as it seems, I'm kind of feeling like I'm back on that swing set again.

"Kira?" Startled, I turn back towards the smells and sounds around me. It's really hard to be pensive when you're on a staff picnic.

"Sorry, Stefan - I was zoning." Way to state the obvious, Meyers. Stefan, bless his heart, instantly understands why and leads me away from the boisterous gathering.

"Sit," he orders, directing me to the edge of a non-working fountain. We might have some gorgeous spring days here in CS, but the City has learned the hard way that it's best not to turn the water back on in public spaces until after Memorial Day. Sure, a lot of people thought the frozen ice sculptures in the public parks were pretty, but the burst pipes were expensive to replace.

"You nervous about defending your dissertation?" I shake my head.

"Not really," I reply. "I feel pretty good about my thesis." I should - I had a lot of help with it.

"It's the…" his voice drops even though there is no one around. "It's the Agency, isn't it?" I can't help but laugh.

"Geeze Stefan, you make it sound like I'm becoming a spy!"

"Well, aren't you?" He asks seriously.

"Not a spy!" I answer with assurance.

"But the CIA ," Stefan begins. "You might really work for the CIA ."

I don't know," I reply shrugging. "It's an amazing offer…," my voice falters as I try to find words to explain how I feel. "It is an amazing offer," I repeat in a stronger voice, "but I don't know if it's the right decision."

"Have you talked to your advisor?" I shake my head no.

"Have you talked to your parents?" Another shake - that would be no.

"Have you talked to Daniel?" My head falls into my open hands as my hair swishes back and forth. No.

"Kira, you need to talk to him," Stefan says sympathetically, as he rubs my back. "This whole ‘making the biggest decision of your life' stuff shouldn't be made without talking to the people most important to you."

"I'm talking to you," I reply with a sniffle. I really couldn't ask for a better friend than Stefan.

"I'm your friend, Kira," Stefan explains, taking a hold of my hands. "I will always be your friend. But you need to talk about this with someone who can really provide you with some additional information."

"You think Daniel knows someone who works for the CIA ?" I ask.

"I think Daniel knows people," Stefan replies with conviction. "Talk to him, Kree."

It isn't as if I'm avoiding Daniel - he's just been out of town a lot these past few weeks. This means, I wasn't able to tell him about the interview. I really didn't worry about it that much, because what were the odds I'd actually be offered a job?  

Apparently, a lot better than I thought.

I received the offer packet just eight days after my interview. I now have six weeks (or rather four weeks and two days) to tell them yes or no. The offer letter explained how I had forty-eight hours from receipt of the packet (I signed for it) to tell them a definitive "no". After that, I would still have six weeks in which to examine the information provided and tell them a definitive yes or no; however, they would start contacting my references immediately.


In a euphoric panic, I left him two voice messages at work and sent him three emails, but to date, still haven't heard from him. Is he angry with me? Upset that I applied to work for a government agency? I know this can't be it as he works for a government agency. Despite what Stefan may think, if I accept this offer, I'm not going into the ‘ops' side of the house, and should be relatively safe. Well, as safe as anyone can be these days.

I'm so absorbed in my thoughts, I nearly miss the tell-tale buzzing of my phone. I hardly ever have the darn thing with me, but my parents are currently dealing with travel agencies and hotels, trying to figure out the best way to get to me in time for my graduate in late May. I had told them to call if they have any questions.

"Just fly into Denver," I advise without preamble.

"You really think I should?" a voice teases. Crap! That is so not my dad .


"Hi, Kira." Daniel!

"Daniel," I say his name almost reverently; he is the one person on this planet I really need to talk to right now. "It's really good to hear from you."

"Sorry I didn't call sooner," Daniel says in apology. He sounds tired. "I've been out of town."

"I figured as much," I reply. "Have fun?" Daniel hardly ever tells me about where he goes, but I still like to fish every now and then.

"No," Daniel replies succinctly.

"Sorry." Hard to console a guy when you don't really know what the situation is. I do try though.

"Listen, Kira," Daniel continues, sounding a bit rushed. "I really need to talk to you, but I'm afraid it isn't going to be anytime soon. I'm heading out of town again."

"I sure hope you at least get frequent flyer miles," I tease. Daniel gives a little snort.

"Not on this flight."

"Will you be back soon?" I ask, slightly panicked. I have less than five weeks to decide. I wonder if they've contacted him yet…

"It's going to be at least two weeks," Daniel says sounding glum. In the background, I can hear all sorts of sounds - clanking noises and the sound of people moving down halls. Wherever Daniel is, it's definitely hopping.

"Daniel, we're ready," a voice calls out, loud enough for me to overhear. I'm pretty certain it was Sam's.

"Tell Jack, I'll be there in a second," Daniel says. Judging from the muffled sound of his voice, he tried to cover the receiver.

"At least you'll have company," I say trying to cheer him up. He really doesn't sound like he's looking forward to this trip.

"Kira, I really need to go," Daniel says, sounding a little apprehensive. "But I need you to do something for me."

"Name it," I reply. I'm expecting him to ask me to feed his fish, or water his plants or something like that.

"Don't take the job." Silence. I'm too stunned by his vehemence to reply.

"I'm not saying you can't take the job ever," Daniel continues, rushing his words together. "Just wait until I come back before you make any decisions."

"I need to let them know in four weeks, Daniel," I say softly.

"I know you do Kira," Daniel replies, sounding apologetic. "And I'm not saying you shouldn't take it…" he pauses. "Well, actually I am saying you shouldn't take it, but I really need to talk to you in person. Can you wait two weeks? Please?"

After all this time of trying to figure out what I was going to say to Daniel, trying to imagine what he might say to me - none of this is turning out like I thought.

"Two weeks?" I repeat.

"Two weeks," Daniel assures me.

Okay. I can give him two weeks.

Title: Barista 48 -- Dinner at Daniel's


Two weeks is an exceedingly long time when you are facing a decision that will affect you for the rest of your life. And yes, deciding whether or not I should work for the CIA most certain does fall into that category. However, there really are both pros and cons to consider:

Pro: I will be working with some of the brightest people in the entire United States .

Con: I am obligated to work the first few years in Virginia .

Pro: There is a very good chance that after those years, I can relocate abroad.

Con: I won't have much say on where they will send me.

Pro: I will be PAID to study languages and cultures.

Con: The languages studied will (probably) be Arabic and her assorted dialects.

Pro: I'll be making more money than I ever thought I would. I'll be able to pay off my student loans in less than five years. Maybe even less than three!

Con: If I accept the position, I have to attend " CIA Camp"; an orientation period that lasts nine months - it's pretty much akin to returning to school.

Pro: Living on the East coast has definite advantages to land-locked Colorado . I'll be closer to New York , Washington DC and Europe .

Con: My friends live here! Odds are if I take this job, I will probably lose contact with most of them.

I'm going nowhere with all of this and really wish Daniel would just hurry up and return from wherever the heck he went this time.

"Hey Stefan," I call out from my perch near the register. It's a slow today, so all of us are pretty much doing the Gen X slacker thing - just hanging around and half-heartedly doing our jobs. I look around the shop and frown. Besides Stefan and me, all the other Baristas are under 21; they're technically a completely different Generation.

I'm feeling old.

"You called oh frocked-one?" I throw a bar rag in his direction. Stefan was with me when I went to pick up my graduation robe and finds our bloated gowns, frilly sashes and cardboard caps ever so amusing.

Damn. I forgot what I was going to ask him. Ah well, I'm nothing if not adaptable. "What year do kids stop being X'ers and become Y'ers?"

"1980," he answers instantly.

"I heard it was '77," Kathy yells from the back room. See? Everyone is a little bored today.

"Really?" I ask.

"Oh yeah," Kathy confirms, walking into the main store. "My older brother is adamant on that one. Anyone born after Star Wars has to be a Gen Y'er. He's positive the world changed completely after the 1977 release of Star Wars and anyone who wasn't around to witness it, has to be from a different generation." I burst out laughing.

"Kath, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't he only a few years older than you?" Kathy nods - she sees where I'm going with this. "Which means he couldn't have been older than two or three when it was released," I say aloud.

"Hey, I never said Neil was right or anything."

Stefan chimes in from the espresso machine. "No, I'm fairly certain it's 1980," he insists, sounding as if he knows of which he speaks. "In '80, Regan was elected president of the U.S. and his crafty counterpart, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister in the U.K. "

"But she became Prime Minister in '79," Rachel corrects. Wow. I'm impressed with my workmates - we so kick ass in the history department!

"Close enough," Stefan says dismissively, waving a hand in the air. "The world shifted in 1980, and that's when ‘X' gave way to ‘Y'." Before someone can make the inevitable jump from Y to Z, my phone (thankfully) rings. Instantly, I'm on edge and I'm fairly certain my heart rate just doubled. This time I know it isn't dad . Stefan slyly walks over to where I am standing and shoos me back towards the break room.

Have I mentioned how much I love my friends?


"Hi Kira," Daniel greets warmly. "How have you been?"

"Good," I reply nervously. "Nice trip?" Ah. We're back to Monosyllabic Meyers again. Great. Daniel chuckles.

"Actually, it was," Daniel says in a voice that I can tell is smiling. "Maybe some day I will tell you about it," he adds cryptically. Well, that would be a first!

"So Kira," Daniel continues, "what are you doing for dinner tonight?" You know, of all the things I thought Daniel might say to me, dinner really wasn't on the list.

"Nothing?" I'm so confused here. I might have served Daniel coffee a million and one times, and even had a few drinks near him on occasion, but we've never actually had dinner together. Sharing an order of French fries over a Greek translation does not qualify as dinner.

Daniel seems to pause for a second before continuing. "I'm going to be finishing up here in the next hour or so, I'd be happy to come pick you up."

Daniel Jackson has asked me to dinner.
Daniel Jackson is picking me up for dinner.
Daniel Jackson is hot.

I try to scratch that last thought, but it isn't exactly working. It's been two years since I've gotten over my Daniel crush, but right now, I'm kinda forgetting why. Might have something to do with being single again, or maybe it's just the fact that Daniel is hot.

"Ok." Realizing I need to give him a little more here, I continue. "I'm going to be getting off work in a half hour or so," I add. "I need 20 minutes to walk home, ten to shower, another…" my voice trails off as I realize Daniel does not need to know how long it takes me to shower and dry my hair! "I can be ready by 5:30," I thankfully summarize before embarrassing myself any further. Ninety minutes is more than enough time.

"Perfect!" Daniel replies, sounding rather eager. Down Kira! "Do you still live in that apartment complex I dropped you off at a couple years ago?" Whoa. Daniel remembers that? We're talking freakishly good memory here.

"Yeah," I reply. I'm starting to get that surreal ‘this can't be happening' feeling again.

"Great! Pick you up in front of your apartment at 5:30?"

"5:30," I repeat. "I'll be ready."

"See you then, Kira." Daniel pauses and I can almost make out the voice of someone in the background. "Damn," Daniel mutters. "You're right." I don't think that part was for me. "Kira, how do you feel about Thai food?" Daniel asks rather sheepishly. I laugh and feel a little of the weirdness of the whole situation fade.

"I love Thai," I answer truthfully. Phad Thai is my favorite!

"Good," Daniel says with relief. "I've just been reminded that I haven't had a chance to go shopping yet." I smile. Gee, and I wonder who reminded him?

"We can meet at a restaurant if you want," I offer. I'm about to add that he can invite Jack along as well, when Daniel quickly objects.

"No!" he replies abruptly. Well, okay then. No restaurant. "I want to show you a couple books," Daniel explains. "And I have some rather interesting artifacts I think you would enjoy seeing."

"Um, okay." Just what does a gal say when she is offered to be shown artifacts?

"See you at 5:30," Daniel repeats again. I can tell he's just as embarrassed at his outburst as I am. I nod, but before I can say anything more (not that there was a whole heck of a lot more to say), the phone goes dead. I stare at it for several moments before raising my head and meeting Stefan's eyes.

"Showtime," Stefan says softly.

"I want to show you a couple BOOKS?" Jack repeats shaking his head in disbelief. "I have some ARTIFACTS you would enjoy seeing?" He rolls his eyes and sighs dramatically. "Daniel, do you have any idea how that sounded?"

"Don't you have reports or something to write?" Daniel asks irritably, as he exits his office. He knew it had been a bad idea to make the phone call with Jack in the room. Well technically, Jack hadn't been in the room when he began the call. The joy of his presence had come later.

"Daniel, we've been through this," Jack begins, following his friend down the corridor. "It was either the SGC or a secure location, and because of your penchant for inadvertently bringing home translations, your apartment is nearly as secure as Carter's."

"Sam takes work home as well?" Daniel asks with interest. He thought he was the only one who got (regularly) busted for that.

"It's a post-Orlin thing," Jack replies awkwardly. Daniel gives him a look and hopes to hell Sam knows about this.

"You also agreed," Daniel states, trying his best to convince Jack to stop following him, "that I get to do this alone."

"Yes," Jack says amiably. "Your team, your disclosure." Daniel stops in his tracks and turns to face Jack. He holds up a finger and opens his mouth to speak, but decides against it.

"I'll let you know how it goes Jack," Daniel promises. He turns back around and gives Jack a slight behind the back wave. It was time to change and do a little dinner shopping.

Wow. I'm really not sure if this can be any more awkward.

Daniel picks me up at 5:30 on the nose and everything feels so strained. Is Daniel that upset at me for applying to the CIA? It doesn't feel like he's mad at me, but something is different; Daniel is different. Something is going on, and I don't have a damned idea what it is! All of this is very frustrating. We talk about the weather and stupid local stuff as he drives back towards the city. I live in one of the many student housing projects scattered around the university; Daniel however, lives in a swanky high-end condo downtown. Guess his job doesn't pay too poorly either. We take the elevator up to the eighth floor and my mouth drops a little as Daniel opens the door and ushers me in.

This apartment rocks. Forget the analogy of a kid in a candy store - try being an ancient history and language buff in Dr. Daniel Jackson's apartment. I've died and gone to bibliophilic heaven!

Daniel chuckles and leaves me to wander through his stacks of books and papers and strange-looking artifacts from countries whose languages I can't even read! I mean don't get me wrong, it isn't like I can recognize every language in the world or anything, but I am about to get my Masters in Linguistics and there are artifacts here written in scripts I can't decipher at all! I yearn to take some of these books home to study.

"They're just books, Kira," Daniel says smiling, as he brings the food into the dining room. "But don't tell Jack that I said that, okay?"

"Daniel, I wouldn't be surprised if many of these books are museum quality!" I say, pointing towards one particularly gorgeous manuscript. I have only taken a few courses in archival sciences, but from what little I know, this one appears to be mid 15th century with a pigskin binding (rare!). I yearned to open it up to see if the signatures pages are folded in quarto or in octavo.

"Come eat before it gets cold," Daniel advises after letting me linger for a few minutes more. My fingers are crossed that I'll be allowed to examine some of his artifacts more closely after dinner. I close my eyes and internally groan; I so didn't mean it that way. We make idle chitchat over spicy peanut noodles, garlic stir-fry and a damn fine bottle of wine. Apparently, there is a difference between a $4 bottle of wine and a $20 bottle.

"I'm fairly certain you're over 21 now," Daniel jokes, eyes twinkling, as he pours me a second glass. So much for hoping he had forgotten about that.

"Oh, and you never lied about your age before?" I counter, accepting (gratefully) the offered wine. I feel like such an adult sharing a glass of wine with Daniel!

"Oh, all the time!" Daniel replies, artfully using his chopsticks on the slippery noodles. Unlike most westerners (and this includes me) Daniel doesn't try to ‘skewer' the hard to pick up bits. He skillfully collects just the right amount of broccoli, garlic and rice all in one manageable bite. "But usually it was to save myself from getting my ass kicked by older kids."

"Your ass kicked?" I repeat. It just sounds funny coming from him.

"I have really been hanging around Jack too long," Daniel mumbles, taking a large drink of his wine. "The good news is that although I was fairly small for my age when I was younger, I had a good-size growth spurt at 16, so I didn't stand out too much when I started college."

"You started college at 16?" For some strange reason, hearing Daniel talk about college is giving me goosebumps; I feel like I already know this. Has he told this to me before?

Daniel nods as he continues with his reminiscing. "College at 16, and then I started graduate school just shy of my 19th birthday." He shrugs self-consciously. "I've never really been much of a socialite, but I did try and "fit in" every now and then - sometimes that meant lying about my age." He smiles and points his chop sticks at me. "Not really the same thing however as lying to get a beer, Kira."

"It was a White Russian," I mumble examining the pretty wine glass. French? "So Daniel," I begin trying to change the subject. "Not that I don't appreciate the invitation to your home, and I really want to spend more time examining your books, but I am a little curious as to why I'm here."

"Why do you think?" Daniel asks, turning the question back to me. Arrggh! Being a multi-lingual archaeologist isn't enough? He now has to play psychologist?

"You heard that I applied to work at the CIA." When in doubt, state the obvious.

"Yeah, about that, Kira…" Daniel begins. "A little prior notice would have been appreciated." He doesn't sound angry so much as a little disappointed. The Thai food sits uncomfortably in my stomach and I feel horrible. I really did mean to tell him...

"I'm so sorry about that Daniel," I reply sincerely, unconsciously going into babble mode. "You were the one who told me to think outside the box, and so I did. And even though I didn't really think I'd even get past the first door - I did, and then they contacted ME, and the next thing I know I'm interviewing with them and then..." I pause just long enough to take another breath. "And then..."

"Kira, it's all right," Daniel says kindly, laying a hand on my arm. "It just caught me by surprise."

"Sorry," I repeat lamely. I take another sip of wine.

"Let's move into the living room," Daniel advises. The prickly goosebumps are back. Aren't living rooms where people are given really bad news?

"I'll be right back, Kira." I nervously take another sip of wine and make a mental note to switch to water very soon. Daniel returns with an unmarked manila file folder and a really cool-looking pendant. He sets both of them on the coffee table and tops off our wine glasses before I can request water. I can tell that whatever Daniel wants to tell me is important. Really important.  I haven't a clue what he is going to say, and frankly it's freaking me out a little. I'm sure my wine consumption isn't helping matters.

"Daniel, you're freaking me out here," I say finally. Enough with the cloak and dagger stuff Daniel - tell me what's going on!

"I know. I'm sorry Kira, really, it's just..."

"You're not dying or anything, are you?"  The wine. This has to be the wine talking. Still, as long as I've asked, it can't hurt to know the answer.

"God, no!" Daniel replies vehemently.  "What makes you think that?"  I shrug.

"You're awfully serious. Mysterious folder, pretty necklace that you might be giving away as a gift.."

"No dying," Daniel insists.  "In fact, just the opposite..."

"You're having a baby?" I ask, interested.  I didn't know Daniel was seeing anyone!  Daniel laughs.

"No. No baby."

"Daniel, birth is the opposite of death..." I explain patiently. Daniel rolls his eyes in exasperation.

"Kira, has anyone ever remarked that you can be annoying sometimes?" He says this in a very humorous voice, so I know the 'annoying' bit can't be too bad.

"Occasionally," I reply smiling.

"You and Jack are really quite alike," Daniel says shaking his head.

"I'll take that as a compliment." Deja Vu! I'm positive he's said this to me before. I think Daniel realizes this as well, but before either of us can reply, the phone in his kitchen rings.

"Ignore it; I can always call whomever back later." The phone stops at three rings and I can only assume the person is leaving a message. Moments later Daniel's shirt pocket begins to vibrate. Daniel groans and I can't help but break out into a large grin. "Three guesses," he mutters.

Without even looking at his caller ID, Daniel flips the phone open. "Hi, Jack." I cover my mouth to hold back a giggle as the person on the other end (Jack) says something.

"Lucky guess," Daniel replies. "And I'll bet it was you, who called my home just a few seconds earlier."  He pauses to listen to Jack's response.

"Because, Jack," Daniel begins patiently. "I have company." Pause. "Yes, it's Kira." Pause, and a glance in my direction. "No," Daniel replies succinctly. "Not yet." Pause. "Maybe because some Colonel I know keeps calling me??" Pause and a shake of his head. "You don't need to do that, Jack." Pause. "If I ask you nicely, will you not do that?" Pause, and a pained look. "Fine." Pause. "Right." Pause. "See you." Daniel pushes the off button and stares at his phone, shaking his head slightly back and forth. He sighs and gives me a resigned look.

"Jack is on his way."

Title: Barista 49 -- Veritas

"Jack is on his way?" Is it just me, or does this seem odd?

"Yes," Daniel confirms, sighing again. "Your team, your disclosure," he mumbles just loud enough for me to hear. Huh? He ponders the situation for a moment and then glances at his watch and smiles. "Well, unless Jack has actually camped out at the coffee shop across the street," Daniel says optimistically, "I think we have some time." Um...time for what?

If I wasn't nervous before, I certainly am now. I abruptly put down my wine glass and head into Daniel's kitchen. I open a cupboard at random and surprise myself by finding what I am looking for on the first try.

"Kira, you need any help in there?" Daniel calls from the living room. I can hear him shuffling papers. Those papers are really starting to make me nervous.

"Just getting some water!" I yell back. I pull down a water glass and automatically open the refrigerator, forgetting for a moment that I'm not at home. I might keep filtered water in my fridge, but this doesn't mean Daniel will. Still, seeing as the fridge is open and all that, I'm curious as to what Daniel likes to eat. I peer inside.

Apparently, not much.

I balk a little as I spy a forlorn box of Arm & Hammer baking soda on the top shelf and assorted condiments interspersed with a few bottles of beer in the side baskets. Wow. Daniel wasn't kidding when he said he hadn't gone shopping. But then again, there's "shopping" and then there is "completely stocking my near empty refrigerator". Well, he had been gone for a few weeks, I reason. Trying not to think about it too much, I head to the sink and fill my glass with tap water. One of the perks of living in the Rockies; great tasting tap water.

"You really need to do some shopping, Daniel," I say, returning to the living room.

"Tomorrow," Daniel replies absently, not sounding even remotely concerned. "Kira, come sit over here," Daniel asks, patting the seat cushion next to him and picking up a manila folder. "I want to ask you something." I sit down expectantly, and take a small sip of the cool water. I don't think Daniel has any idea how confused all of this is making me. I know my face must show my mounting bewilderment as Daniel abruptly puts down that mysterious stack of papers.

"I'm really messing this up, aren't I?" I would agree with him, but seeing how I don't have a clue what he is talking about, I can only shrug noncommittally.

"Kira, I don't want you to work for the CIA," Daniel says with conviction.

"You kinda hinted at that before," I reply tentatively. "What do you have against the CIA?" Daniel shakes his head.

"It isn't that I have anything specifically against them Kira, it's just I can't really see you working for them."

"And why is that?" I reply defensively. I might not be as smart as Daniel, but I can hold my own. Does he really think I'll fail? Or is it that...

"Kira, whatever you are thinking right now, just stop," Daniel says, interrupting me. Sheepishly, I do just that.

"Why don't you want me to work for the CIA, Daniel?" I ask, as my palms begin to sweat. The air is filled with so much tension; I wouldn't be surprised if tendrils of electricity sprout up between us!

"Kira, ask me again what I do for a living," Daniel says abruptly. Huh? If Daniel were like a baseball game, I think this would be called, ‘a change up'.

"Excuse me?"

"Ask me what I do for a living," Daniel repeats. "No wait," Daniel says interrupting himself, as he stands up excitedly. "Kira, do you remember one day several years ago, when I found you sleeping in a library?" He is positively bursting to tell me something, but for the life of me, I don't have a clue what!

"I was working late, and you had a key..." I begin.

"Yes, yes," Daniel says, urging me to continue with little hand movements.

"We chatted for a bit at the library; went out to eat; and then you drove me home," I conclude.

"You forgot the middle part!" Daniel huffs in exasperation. I feel like an actor who just forgot her line - in a script that isn't even written yet! I know I'm looking more than a little frustrated now. Daniel, would you just TELL ME what the hell is going on?!

"Okay," Daniel says talking quickly. "You don't remember all the details, that's perfectly understandable." Gee, thank you for saying so. "You were doing some research on Babylon and I picked up your book and said something to you..." He waves his hand expectantly, hoping I can fill in the details. I stare at him blankly. "I said," Daniel begins, "how one day you and I are going to have a nice long conversation..."

"We've had lots of nice long conversations, Daniel," I reply, still bewildered.

"I said," Daniel repeats, still waving his hands as he begins to talk faster and faster. "That one day you and I were going to have a nice long conversation, even if I have to ask the President for permission." Ah! In a complete Road Runner cartoon moment, a light bulb appears above my head. I give Daniel a big smile. I might not remember the specifics, but that line I totally remember.

"Right!" I reply, laughing as I shake my head in disbelief – that was ages ago! "Forgive me for being a little slow, Daniel, but that was a long time ago."

"Perfectly understandable!" Daniel replies magnanimously.

"So has the President given you permission to have a nice long conversation with me?" I ask jokingly.

"Yes," Daniel replies with finality, splaying his hands happily outwards in a universal ‘eureka' way.

I blink.

"The President of the United States has given you permission to talk to me." If I wasn't sitting down already, I'm pretty sure I'd need to be about now.

"A sub-committee of the Joint Chiefs actually, but that's pretty close," Daniel replies offhandedly. He's obviously thrilled to be able to talk to me about this, and sits down next to me. Once again I do my gaping fish impression.

"Someone in our government has given you permission to talk with me," I repeat.

"Yes," Daniel says nodding.

"About what?" I ask.

"Ah, and that's the hundred thousand dollar question!" Daniel replies happily. I am now even more confused, but seeing Daniel sitting next to me, smiling as if he is about to fill me in on the biggest secret in the world – well, whatever it is, it can't be all that bad if it has Daniel so excited.

"Can you just tell me the answer first?" I ask hopefully.

"You just say yes, Kira," Daniel replies seriously. "Yes, there are some papers to sign, and yes, there are a thousand questions you will want answers to, but all I need for you to do at this very moment is to tell me yes."


Daniel Jackson is asking me to marry him.

Before I can even think of how to respond to all of this, we hear pounding on Daniel's front door. Loud pounding. "Great timing, Jack," Daniel grumbles, giving my icy hands a little squeeze as he stands up to answer the door. I'm left sitting on the couch, my brain racing a million miles a minute.

This makes no sense at all.

"Hi kids," Jack says jovially as Daniel opens the door. "Having fun?"

"As always Jack, you do seem to have impeccable timing." I'm certain Daniel must have flashed Jack one of those, ‘I'm really annoyed with you' looks, but I'm too busy doing my guppy impression to pay it any attention.

"Be nice, Daniel," Jack admonishes. "I come baring gifts." My mind is still on other things, so I don't see the freezer bag he waves in front of Daniel's face.

"Hi Kira," Jack greets, completely oblivious to my sheer and utter bewilderment. He walks right pass me and into Daniel's kitchen. He quickly sticks the ice cream in the freezer and then opens the fridge and helps himself to a beer. I hear the clink-hiss as the bottle loses its cap.

"Go ahead and help yourself to a beer, Jack," Daniel remarks drolly.

"That's why I put ‘em there, Danny," Jack replies, as he takes a drink. "Damn, that's good," he says reverently as he walks back into the living room and plops down next to me, taking another long swallow.

"You haven't had a beer yet?" Daniel sounds quite surprised by this.

"Came straight from the mountain," Jack answers. "No drinking and driving for this flyboy," Jack says proudly. He turns his attention back to me, "So Kira, how goes it? Daniel tell you anything interesting yet?" This time I catch the daggers that Daniel shoots his way. I count to three.

"You mean besides asking me to marry him?" It's a good thing Jack had just swallowed his beer; otherwise I'm certain I would have been showered with the stuff.

"WHAT?!" he sputters looking back and forth between Daniel and me.

"I did WHAT?!"

"You asked me to marry you," I reply, wrinkling my forehead in consternation. Didn't he?

"Daniel," Jack growls, looking every inch like a dad who wants to eviscerate a potential suitor.

"Jack, Kira just misunderstood me," Daniel explains, talking rapidly. "Kira," he says, turning towards me, "I don't want to marry you." My eyes fill with tears.

"You don't want to marry me," I repeat softly.

"Great, Daniel," Jack says handing me a handkerchief. "You made Kira cry." He puts his arm around me. "Whatever Daniel said Kira, he didn't mean it," Jacks says trying to comfort me.

"It's the wine," I insist, dabbing my eyes with Jack's handkerchief. "I just misunderstood." I'm in babble mode before I even know what's happening. "Daniel wanted to tell me something, and then he started with one thing, but then changed to something else, until I finally told him to cut to the chase and just tell me the bottom line, and that's when he told me I should just say yes, and then..."

"Kira, will you come work for me?" Daniel blurts out, interrupting me before I can ramble further. It takes several moments before his words sink in.

"What?" I ask turning to look at him. I'm certain I must look like one of those inane kewpie dolls, all wide eyed and hopeful.

"I want you to work for me." He says this seriously, but his lips are curled ever so slightly in a smile and his eyes are bright blue with emotion. "That is if you want too."

"You want me to work for you," I repeat, trying to keep my voice from cracking. Oh My God – this is like a dream come true!

"Yes," Daniel says with a nod. "I didn't want you to accept the job at the CIA , because I want you to work for me."

"Doing what?" I ask.

"What you've been trained to do, Kira," Daniel explains. "A lot of linguistic research, some cataloging of new languages and perhaps a few translation projects."

"What languages?"

"Whatever languages we find," Daniel replies, shrugging.

"Daniel, that doesn't make sense!" I say stubbornly. I might be thrilled nearly beyond words at what Daniel is offering me, but I still need at least a few details.

"I know you have questions, Kira," Daniel explains, but first I need you to do something for me."

"What's that?"

"We need you to sign a few papers."

I wrinkle my nose. "Why do I need to sign those?" I ask, eyeing the thick manila folder on the side of the table. I can understand one or two pages – maybe even a dozen or so, but that file over there is thick! Just when I thought I had everything figured out, Daniel has to go and throw me a curve ball again.

I really hate baseball.

"And unfortunately, we kind of need you to sign them before I can tell you any specific details about what it is you'll be doing." Daniel shrugs apologetically, as he (finally) hands over the thick packet of papers in the heavyweight manila folder. I open the folder up and am greeted with huge red letters stamped across the top of the page:


Silently I skim the first few pages, before looking back up at Jack and Daniel, completely and utterly confused. Confidential? And once signed, and my background checked out, I'll be cleared for SECRET and potentially TOP SECRET information? What kind of translating gig is this?!

"Don't worry, you've been cleared for most of it already," Daniel says as I flip through the many, many pages of questions.

"No she hasn't, Daniel," Jack replies in a sing-song voice.

"But I thought you had said..." Daniel begins; Jack just shrugs.

"Oh, I'm certain Kira will pass with flying colors, but all I did was the most cursory of background checks on her – the kind of thing anyone with half a brain could do via the Internet." He gives Daniel one of those enigmatic Colonel looks I can never figure out. "I know you think the military, and the CIA for that matter is shifty, but we really do try and do things by the book whenever possible." He gives me an apologetic look. "We'll probably grant you probationary clearance in less than a month, but you won't be allowed to see any classified files until you've been cleared through all channels." Jack gives me a very pointed look. "Although you just happen to know the 2IC of the base, so I'm going to make sure you see the Big Stuff on the first day."

My head is starting to hurt. 2IC? Big Stuff? "I'm confused, guys," I say after Jack had finished confusing the heck out of me with all the security check stuff. "Jack's Air Force, right?" Jack nods. "Daniel, are you Air Force, too?"

"No," Daniel says quickly. "I'm civilian. I just work for the Air Force. You would be doing the same thing."

"What does the Air Force have to do with archaeology and linguistics?"

"May I, Daniel?" Jack asks solicitously. He actually doesn't sound like he's mocking Daniel at all. "I said it was your gig, and it is, but if you'd like some help on this..."

"Go right ahead," Daniel says sitting down and pouring himself a glass of wine. "I'm curious too, Jack," Daniel says with a little smile. "Just what does the Air Force have to do with archaeology and linguistics?" Jack gives him another one of those "looks" and begins.

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

"Jack!" Daniel admonishes.

"That was entirely Teal'c's doing," Jack mumbles, looking abashed.

"Teal'c?" I ask.

"You know him as Murray ," Jack explains.

" Murray is Teal'c?" What kind of name is Teal'c?

"Believe me Kira, after you visit the mountain, the fact that one guy has two names will be the least of your concerns."

"Way to make her feel better, Jack!"

"I'm just saying..."

"What happened in a galaxy far, far away, Jack?" I ask curiously. I actually put my water down and take another sip of wine. Stories are best told with either milk and cookies or barring the good stuff, alcoholic beverages.

"Well you see there was this guy," Jack begins, "who didn't quite see eye to eye with the rest of the world."

"Although he was right," Daniel adds, sounding ever so smug.

"But this didn't help him from standing up before a group of his peers and saying a whole lot of stuff they didn't want to hear," Jack continues. In the back of my mind, I feel a huge oak door slowly opening – this sounded eerily familiar.

"So the guy says a bunch of stuff that no one believes and the next thing you know he's disappeared off the face of the earth and..."


Jack's voice fades as a rush of memories come roaring back to me. I still see Jack's mouth moving, but no sound reaches my ears. With a calmness I certainly don't feel, I set my wine glass down and stand up.

"Excuse me a moment," I say politely. Without hearing Jack or Daniel reply, I walk over to where I left my purse by the front door. I pick it up and walk to the dining room table before unceremoniously dumping the contents out. Wordlessly I pull out a very well worn piece of paper. I stare at it for several long moments. It really does not look like a poorly drawn stick figure any longer.

"Kira, are you all right?" Daniel calls out. I'm thankful my ears seem to be working again. I'm still facing away from them, and it is all I can do to shake my head slowly back and forth. No, Daniel. I am not. I hear both of them stand up and walk over to me.

"Kira?" Jack asks, laying a hand against my back. Absently I realize I've started to shake. Wordlessly, I hand Daniel my drawing.

"It isn't a stick figure," I explain inanely. "All this time, I thought it was a really bad drawing, but for the life of me I just couldn't throw it away."

"Daniel?" Jack asks. He hasn't seen the picture yet.

"Kira, you need to sit down," Daniel says softly, as he passes Jack the picture. He gently takes my arm and leads me over to the couch.

"This might be a problem," Jack says absently, holding the drawing up to the light.

"Kira, where did you get this?"

"Jack, would you let the girl catch her breath?!" Daniel sounds angry. Although come to think of it, I'm really not doing very well, am I? Daniel hands me the glass of water. I take a sip as Jack picks up his own beer.

I look solemnly at the two men before mustering up enough courage to finally ask the question that has been haunting me (albeit only in my dreams) for the past year,

"Daniel, are you really an alien archaeologist with Jack and Sam as your body guards?" This time Jack can't help the beer that comes spraying out of his mouth. He begins to laugh. Loudly.

"It definitely feels like it sometimes, Kira!" Jack finally replies after several seconds of chuckling to himself. He wipes his eyes with the back of his hand before turning to face me. "Now where did you possibly get that idea?" Okay, I'm confused again. For a second there, I thought I was right; that everything I discovered during my drunken Internet search was right and Daniel really did discover that aliens invented the pyramids. But Jack's reaction... Oh God, am I making a complete fool out of myself?!

"It's a long story," I mumble, feeling very, very embarrassed. Can I screw this up any more than I already have? Absently, I urge myself to take the thought back; of course it can get worse!

"We have the day off tomorrow," Jack says amiably. "Share." In halting words, I fill Jack and Daniel in on my bad date (without the gruesome details). I explain how in a drunken haze I had started doing research on Daniel.

"Why Daniel?" Jack asks with interest. I try not to roll my eyes. Why does everyone always assume I have the hots for Daniel! I mean, he's my friend for crying out loud!

"I was drunk," I mumble. "Who can say why drunk girls do the things they do?" I really would have pulled that off better if I could have kept from blushing. Jack just grins and gives Daniel a nudge.

"She was drunk."

"Jack, you aren't helping matters here." I can tell that Daniel is not particularly thrilled with how all of this is going. He looks frustrated with Jack's presence.

I proceed to explain how I scoured first the public search engines and then proprietary databases in search of information on Daniel. "I found a transcript of a talk you made before a group of archaeological scholars back in '95." It is not my imagination; Daniel winces.

"It's on the INTERNET, Daniel?" Jack asks incredulously.

"Dozens of people heard me make that speech, Jack," Daniel explains in exasperation. "If someone wanted to transcribe the damn thing, it wasn't like I was actually around to tell them to stop."

"So it's true," I say quietly. "Aliens did build the pyramids." Jack and Daniel do one of those ‘whole-conversations-without-speaking' things.

"Kira, will you sign each and every one of these papers?" Jack asks seriously, holding up the thick packet.

"In order to work with Daniel?" I ask. Jack nods and smiles.


"She did say she'd sign the papers."

"But what about..." Daniel lowers his voice. "Security?"

"Your place was swept the morning we returned," Jack replies matter-of-factly. Daniel does not look happy with this information.

"Gee, way to trust your co-worker, Jack."

"I'm not the one who tends to write down complete mission details in public diaries," Jack begins.

"The diaries aren't meant to be public, Jack."

"Um, can we focus on alien pyramids, here?" I say, interrupting them before they get too carried away. Usually I love ‘the Jack and Daniel show', but not tonight.

"Yes Kira, aliens did build the pyramids," Daniel explains.

"And Danny-boy here figured it out," Jack says proudly.

"But there's more to it than just that," Daniel interjects. "And you seriously need to see it to believe it."

"Not all the aliens are nice, are they?" I ask suddenly feeling very small.

"No," Jack answers succinctly. "Some are most assuredly not nice."

"Were you really kidnapped by aliens and cryogenically frozen?" I ask Daniel. He nods.

"And yes, they did indeed give me my first haircut in over three years."

"Ah, you were looking way too pretty before that, Daniel."

"Thanks Jack."

"Your wife," I say suddenly making a connection. "Your wife is an alien!"

"My wife was human, Kira," Daniel says carefully. "There are hundreds, if not thousands of human colonies throughout the galaxy." Wait a minute. Galaxy?

"Do the laws of physics not exist in space?" I ask seriously. "Because, unless you guys know how to travel faster than light, than I don't see how..." my voice trails off as they both nod.

"We can travel faster than light, Kira," Jack explains. "It's actually pretty cool, and I bet you'll love it once you see it." It? Without warning, the enormity of everything they have told me begins to sink in. Years. Jack and Daniel have been visiting aliens for years. And then apparently heading back to Earth for a cup of coffee. This is real.

The room seems to tilt all funny as I feel my heart race and it becomes more and more difficult to catch my breath. I begin to shiver for no good reason.

"Kira?" Daniel asks worriedly. Damn. And here I thought I was taking all of this so well.

"You know in hindsight, we really shouldn't have been quite so glib," Jack says, as he gently lays a hand on my back. "Just concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths, Kira."

"Kira," Daniel repeats, taking a hold of my hands (I swear, they've become blocks of ice) and kneeling down next to me. If I weren't in the midst of some serious freaking out here, I'd make a joke about Daniel proposing to me. Again! I begin to giggle to myself hysterically. Twice in one night, Daniel has asked me to marry him! I laugh until I'm suddenly gasping for breath.

"Jack?" Daniel asks worriedly, as he watches me turn a lovely hue of blue. Okay, so maybe I'm imagining that, but I really am having some problems catching my breath.

"Panic attack," Jack replies succinctly. "Kira, you aren't going nuts here – everything Daniel and I have so inarticulately said is true." It takes a moment for his words to sink in. True. Everything they have told me is true. So if all of this is true, why am I panicking? "Don't sweat it, munchkin," he says fondly, rubbing my back in calming circles. "If I have a dollar for everyone who ‘freaked out' a little when told that aliens are real, I'd be a rich man!" I laugh weakly, as I feel my heart rate decrease and my breathing become more controlled. It takes a few minutes, but I finally get myself pulled back together. Daniel gives me some more water, while Jack plods over to the kitchen to dish us up some ice cream.

"You ready to do this, Kira?" Daniel asks, holding out a beautiful dark blue Waterman pen. I accept the pen gratefully and open the folder to the first page.

"Daniel?" I ask sometime later. My hand is now cramped nearly beyond recognition, but I manage to initial the final page and sign my name with a sweeping flourish. Tired, but happy, I close the folder. I'm going to work with Daniel up at Cheyenne mountain!

"Yes?" Daniel answers in a hushed voice. Beside him, Jack is quietly snoring, having long since given up on watching Daniel's National Geographic special. It was a calming distraction in the background and I'm thankful that even those who apparently talk to aliens on a weekly basis, still seem to like T.V. I look over at Daniel and smile.

"Do I get my own office?"

Title: Barista 50 -- Denouement

Author's Notes: You already know the drill - I'm not going to tell you the rating, the summary or what (if any) episode this is about until after Meridian. I could write something more and tease you a bit, but I'll save that to the end. *g* As always, apologies for the *ahem* seven week wait. Hope this one makes up for it!

When hot guys stare at me, I'm flattered. When creepy old guys stare at me, I tend to think 'Lolita' and run for the hills. When lesbians stare at me, I get embarrassed, and shamelessly flirt with the closest unmarried heterosexual man around, and when gay guys stare at me, I wonder if I'm wearing the wrong shoes with my skirt. You think with all that experience, I would know how to react to the incredulous stare I'm currently receiving from one of my best friends.

You'd be wrong.

"You hate it, don't you?" I ask self-consciously, running a hand through my hair. Stefan's eyebrows crease in concentration as he purses his lips, tilting his head from side to side.

"It isn't so much as hate," he begins judiciously, taking a step closer as he blocks me from walking further into the shop. "It's more like shock and awe." He takes hold of my shoulders and turns me around in a complete circle, clucking his tongue the entire time. "You could have warned me first," he continues in a hurt voice. "I would have held your hand or something." I can't help but smile.

"Most 24 year old women don't need their hand held when they go in for a haircut," I counter taking a step forward. I frown slightly as Stefan moves with me - is he trying to prevent me from heading to work?

"They do if they haven't had their hair cut in ten years!" Stefan replies indignantly, still jostling me to remain where I am. I have to admit, he does have a point. I don't think anyone would have begrudged a little handholding after such a long period. I admit that I'm still a little surprised by the decision to hack off all my hair. The idea popped into my head shortly after the disastrous/fantastic night at Daniel's last month. I began to think about it more and more, and then yesterday took the plunge and went to one of those salons that don't charge a flat rate, and nervously asked them to cut my hair. All of it.

I kept the 16-inch ponytail as a keepsake. Am I weird or what?

"Is it really that bad?" I ask in a small voice, as I run a hand up the back of my neck and feel the shortened hairs. I can't even begin to describe how strange it feels to have my hair end just below my ears. For most of my adult life, it's been half way down my back. I feel like I've lost at least five pounds!

Come to think of it, I just might have.

"I think you look fantastic!" Gretchen says, as she pushes Stefan out of the way and gives me a big hug. "Although," she continues, elbowing me lightly in the ribs, "you might want to change before taking your last shift behind the bar." I feel myself blushing as I look down at my chic brown skirt, dark brown boots and cream silk blouse. Rather than risk wrinkling my "nice" clothes, I had thrown my work clothes into my bag and worn my good ones into work. I'm about to explain this to her when I suddenly notice we're not alone.

I mean, we're really not alone.

Usually, there are only three of us at 8 AM on a Thursday. Apparently, today isn't like other Thursdays. My eyes grow wide as I take in the "Congratulations Kira" sign and what appears to be every person I have ever served and worked with in the past five years. Including Victor!

"Ah, leave the girl alone," Victor says, throwing an arm around my shoulders and ushering me further inside. "I think Ms. Kira looks very chic with her new haircut and fancy clothes - I for one like it!" I feel myself grinning. Ha! I dare anyone to try and contradict Victor. He leads me past a throng of highly caffeinated people. Everyone is patting me on the back and telling me congratulations. Wow. And here I thought a)Victor would be bummed that I was leaving and b) the rest of the crew wouldn't care one way or the other.

"Surprised?" Victor asks, in his slightly accented English. He looks more like someone who should be operating a beer hall than a coffee shop, but then again, he's the only coffee shop owner I've ever met so maybe they all look like this!

"Very!" I reply, as someone takes my messenger bag from me and hands me a soy chai. I look around at all the shiny happy people. "Victor, it is only 8 AM."

"We'd never have been able to surprise you if we tried to pull it off on your lunch break," Victor explains.

"That's because she never takes a lunch break!" Stefan adds. He reaches his hands under my hair and gives it (them?) a good shake.

"Stefan!" I cry, trying to pull away. I have to admit though, that felt nice. Hmmm - Apparently, short hair has its advantages!

"It's very silky," Stefan says judiciously. I roll my eyes. I'm really going to miss these guys.

"Show us the badge again, Kree," Louise asks. Happily, I reach into my (only) suit pocket and pull out a freshly minted civilian military ID badge for working at the Deep Space Telemetry facility at Cheyenne Mountain. I can't believe I really have one of these. A young Air Force enlisted guy brought it by my apartment last week. He looked to be about my age, and man, was he hot! I wonder if it's okay for me to date cute military guys…

I look down at the badge and a score of memories come rushing back.

"You promise you'll be there?" I ask Daniel nervously as I ring up his coffee. It seems rather odd that a single piece of paper would (apparently) get me all the way to the front door of one of the most highly classified secrets on the planet.

"Absolutely," Daniel insists. "I made sure we weren't scheduled to," he pauses and then flashes me a sheepish smile. "I made sure we weren't scheduled to travel that day." Wow. For the first time in five years, I actually get the euphemism.

"Well, that's good," I reply in what I hope is a casual voice. You know trying to pretend like you're not talking about something really important, is actually quite difficult. "I wouldn't want to disrupt any travel plans." It is good to see Daniel joke a little again. The week before he had looked so damn depressed when he had come into the shop, and just shook his head when I asked him what was wrong.

"You'll have to pass through two different security check points," Daniel continues as I pass over his coffee, "but after that, park anywhere free and approach the main gate right outside the mountain entrance. Your name is on the list, so just show the guards your ID and sign on in."

"And you'll be there, right?" I wonder if I would be this nervous if I was going to be working at somewhere more traditional - like the Smithsonian or the British Museum. Probably.

"The guards will give me a call and I'll come up and get you," Daniel explains. "I'm afraid I won't be able to show you the exciting stuff like the travel thing, or," he pauses again, "something really great, like my office." I laugh. "But, you'll get to meet General Hammond and we'll finish up the rest of the paperwork." It's not very crowded, so I walk Daniel toward the door.

"I actually met General Hammond before," I say suddenly.

"You have?" Daniel asks with interest. "When?"

"It was last year sometime," I explain. "You and I had a study appointment and much to my surprise, General Hammond himself came to tell me that you wouldn't be able to make it."

"He did?" Daniel sounds nearly as surprised as I was. "Well, that was nice of him," he adds.

"Apparently, you're an important man, Dr. Jackson," I say elbowing Daniel lightly in the ribs. "Your assistant saw my name on your calendar and for some inexplicable reason, mentioned it to General Hammond."

"He did?" He? Daniel's assistant is a he?

"Uh huh," I reply, nodding. "The General went on to say all sorts of nice things about me and coffee," I say this really fast as I'm certain I'm blushing now. "And then tells me he's doing everything in his power to get you home."

"I'm sure he was," Daniel says with certainty. "We're pretty close at the SGC." The words come out automatically, but Daniel abruptly pauses, as he seems to ponder his own words.

"He was right!" I say triumphantly. "You did make it back, safe and sound."

"We do have a way of doing that," Daniel replies drolly. We're at the door now, but Daniel is in a talkative mood, so I can't help but pester him just a little more.

"Daniel, will I be able to read about your missions?" I ask quietly. It isn't really against the rules to say 'mission', but at the same time, not something you want just anyone to overhear.

"Some," he replies with a shrug. "I'm not all too certain what security level they are going to be giving you, Kira - but some of the missions we've been on are pretty classified." I can imagine.

"Well, I'd love to read what you can show me." Daniel nods.

"You got it."

Daniel was right - I didn't really get to see all that much, but after getting over my abject terror of driving through the front gates (in my brand new used 1996 Toyota Corolla), I did all right.

Those front guards sure don't smile all that much, but, after an exceedingly long five minutes, Daniel did indeed meet me like he said. I was shown into a windowless room where I filled out even more paperwork and was introduced (officially) to General Hammond. They took my picture, gave me a new ID card and welcomed me to Stargate Command.

"That is so cool-looking," Heather remarks, shaking me out of memory. "But does it pay okay?" Heather is currently an anthropology undergrad, but was a little bummed to hear what first year Anthro-grads actually make out there in the real world.

"You kidding," Stefan answers for me, "Kree is going to pay off her student loans in less than five years with this job!" There is a collective "oooo!" from the students near by. I laugh.

"It pays well," I remark, trying hard to keep the extreme, jump-up-and-down joy out of my voice. I don't think I want it to become public knowledge that I'm about to make in one year what took me five years to earn at Victors. I mollify this rather freaky factoid by adding, 'part-time'. It's just a job, Kira,'I tell myself. It's just a job.

Right. Only a sweet, kick-ass, translate some alien text and maybe save the galaxy sort of job. YES!

"Are you really going to work for Professor Yummy?" Gillian asks. I balk; I can't believe she just said that!

"Gill!" I admonish, giving her an evil death stare, which actually doesn't last very long before I end up giggling. "I can't be calling my new boss Professor Yummy!" I implore. "It wouldn't be professional!" Everyone just laughs.

"Maybe you can't, but I can!" Stefan interjects, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

"Remember, his best friend carries a gun," I add. I don't think they all need to hear that most of the time, Daniel does too.

After an hour or so, the regular customers trickle out and only Victor and most of the staff remain. I unwrap several very cool gifts, including what I'm certain will be a highly coveted 'Victors' sweatshirt. The staff knows I don't drink coffee, but still gave me a new French press and several pounds of the best beans in the shop.

"For Professor Yummy," Stefan explains. "We figured, you'd want to keep on his good side for as long as you can."

"Thanks, you guys," I say, struggling to come up with words to express how much all of this means to me.

"Just don't make his coffee for him every day, okay?" Stefan continues. "The rest of the shop would still like to see the guy every now and then."

I heard several "You've got that right" and "uh huhs" from around the room. Daniel does have that effect on people! Wow. I wonder if he gives off the same vibe at the SGC?

Little by little, I hug everyone good bye and by noon, its back to just Stefan, Gretchen and I. I had finally changed into my barista clothes and am cheerfully back behind the register taking orders and chatting with customers.

It is my last day as a Barista.

Every now and then, the enormity of that thought throws me for a loop. After five years, it feel so incredibly strange to realize that THIS might be the last time I break a $100 dollar bill. Or maybe THIS would be the last double tall extra dry cappuccino I would make. I try instead to imagine what it will be like to work hundreds of feet beneath the surface (I can't recall if Daniel said I'd be on the 17th or 18th floor). I wonder if they have a sunroom or something to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

My shift is nearly over when I hear the door open and spy a familiar figure walking through the front door. The moment he walks in, I know something is wrong. It isn't the fact that he looks all rumpled, as if he is wearing clothes several days old. Nor is it the way he slowly pulls his glasses from his face and tucks them into his shirt pocket. Jack might deny it, but he has to be aware of how this simple action affects folks (mostly women). It isn't even his slow and measured gait - No, it is something in his face, a face that seems to have aged a thousand years in less than a week. I quickly turn around to hide from that face.

I don't want to look at Jack's eyes.

"Kira?" Stefan asks, not having caught sight of Colonel Jack walking through the front door. "You okay?"

"I have to go," I say quickly glancing towards the back room. He can't follow me back there, can he? I'll be safe in the back room.

"All right, just let me pull one last shot.."

"I have to go now," I repeat in near hysteria, turning around again. From the corner of my eye, I can see that Jack is almost at the front counter. He sees me. I know he sees me.

I can't look at him.

I have to leave.

I violently turn away from the register and start towards the backroom.

"Kira!" Stefan calls after me. I know he wants to catch me and ask what's wrong, but Gretchen is on break and he can't leave the register.

"I'll get her," I hear Jack say softly. No. I don't want to see you, Jack. I practically sprint into the back room, and even though it says, 'Employees Only', I'm certain he is right behind me.

"Can't talk now, Jack," I say in a rush as I hastily open my locker and grab my bag. I shove all the nicely pressed clothing into it and angrily zip it up. "Gottago," I say quickly, not looking up.

"Kira," Jack says softly taking a step towards me and putting a warm hand on my shoulder.

"No," I shout vehemently, as I bravely look up into Jack's tired and sad brown eyes. "Whatever you are going to tell me, I don't want to know and I'm certain you are wrong about anyhow."

"I'm sorry, Kira," Jack says in a paper-thin voice. "I.."

"You're wrong!" I say again, jerking myself away from his grip. I run out of the room and through the throngs of people waiting in line for a latte.

"Kira?" I hear Stefan call worriedly after me, as I race through the front door. I take a few deep gulps of warm spring air and then walk briskly towards the small pocket park on the edge of the square. I sit down and try to will my hands to stop shaking. I know he'll find me, but I still hold out hope that somehow I've become invisible.

It doesn't take him long at all.

"Kira," Jack says softly as he takes a seat next to me. He gently takes hold of one of my shaking hands and immediately I feel my eyes fill with tears.

"He's just injured, right?" I say hopefully. "More serious than all the other times, but only injured." I'm greeted with only silence.

"He was injured," Jack begins still holding my hand. "But it was serious."

Was. It was serious.

Oh God! I look over at Jack for the first time and see the extreme sorrow and guilt written across his face.

"No," I cry softly, as my shoulders begin to shake. "Please don't tell me he's dead, Jack. Please."

"I'm sorry, Kira," Jack replies, reaching over and pulling me close. "I'm so so sorry. His voice is nearly a whisper as he continues, "Daniel died early this morning." My most perfect spring day is shattered with those five simple words.

Jack and I sit on that bench for a very long time as I mourn for my lost friend.

I have no idea if this will work, but I know I need to try. My hands are ice cold as I pull up to the first gate and give the somber guard my freshly laminated SGC ID. After I had calmed down, Jack had told me (in what I'm certain was a very watered-down version of the story) what had happened. He told me how Daniel had died doing something very heroic, and invited me to attend the SGC-only memorial service later in the week. He told me Daniel would have wanted it. I didn't know if I could do it.

"Dr. Jackson's new assistant," the guard says softly as he scans my card. Bits and bytes about my professional life appear on his screen.

"Yes." That one word comes out hoarsely, as if I had only recently learned I had a voice. He looks at me with compassion.

"You heard?" he asks, giving me back the ID.

"Yes." This time my voice is stronger, although still soft and measured. It's almost as if I'm scared to say anything definitive aloud. I'm not ready.

"Dr. J was a really great guy," the guard adds, "We all really liked him." I couldn't find my voice to agree with him and could only nod as he waves me through.

I know I'm not ready, but I still need to do this. Looking far more confident than I feel, I go through the second gate, park and then show the front guard my ID. He motions for me to sign in. This time Daniel isn't there to greet me. The guard gives a nod and I head to the elevator. I push the button for Level 28.

The ride down feels forever. As I sink deeper and deeper into the mountain, I feel my heart constrict; I don't know if I can do this.

The doors open silently and I walk towards the murmur of voices. My heels click loudly along the brightly lit, but somber-colored hallway. Many of the doors that I imagine would have been sealed shut are now open. The voices grow louder as I walk through a double-thick entry way and into…

Into the room that houses the Stargate.

My jaw drops as I take in the magnificent large metallic ring standing proudly in the back of the room. It's far larger than I had imagined and the markings on the outer rim are amazing! I feel the pull to walk up the metal grate and touch them, to find some book that will help me decipher what they mean.

And then I catch sight of what is at the base of the grate. My entire body goes numb.


A simple casket draped with the American flag is resting on a mechanical trolley. At the top of the ramp is Colonel Jack, with Major Sam and their friend Murray (Teal'c) on either side. Jack is talking. I hear very little, as I seem to only have power over one sense at the moment and it is my eyes that are needed. I can't tear them away.


I'm in the very back of the room, but a small gap between bodies allows me to see a bit of the casket the entire time. I watch as Jack finishes his speech. I watch as both Sam and Teal'c say something. And then General Hammond. And then Dr. Frasier. And then there is silence as all the (living) bodies near the top of the ramp step aside - only Daniel's casket remains.

I watch as the Stargate begins to move, whirling first to the right and then to the left, One by one seven symbols are selected and the Stargate dramatically roars to life with a loud whoosh as what appears to be a great wall of water is thrust through the opening. It hovers for a brief moment directly above Daniel's casket and then recedes back into the void, leaving only a glimmering pool of blue vertical water.

I watch as Sam picks up a device and Daniel's casket begins to move up the metal ramp.

"Attention!" Jack orders, the words sounding incredibly loud as noise finally filters back into my ears. I watch as each and every military person present gives Daniel a perfect salute. Everyone stands rigid as Daniel's body is sent one last time through the Stargate.

Several moments pass in silence before the gate shuts down with an audible whoosh and Jack orders the room at ease. The murmur of voices begins again and I find alone surrounded by scores of people I may never know.

I haven't a clue where I'm going as I slowly back out of the gateroom and head down one of the deserted steel gray hallways. Everyone is still mingling around the Stargate and I feel like an intruder for remaining near by. I mean, I'm not one of them, am I? I'm not really part of Stargate Command - in spite of what a little plastic card says. Feeling more alone and sad than I ever thought possible, I randomly walk up and down the silent halls.

After a fair amount of time (five minutes? Three hours?) I turn to the right and find myself back at the elevator. Guess this is a sign that I should leave. I mean - it's not as if Jack is going to have time to talk to me. Not today, anyhow. Daniel might have been very dear to me, been a significant part of my life and helped shape who I am today, but he wasn't my best friend. I can't even imagine what Jack must be going through right now. Against my will, my eyes once again fill with tears. After spending nearly five days in a perpetual state of hurt and tears, I am surprised there is anything left.

It's not fair, dammit! Here I find the craziest, most perfect job ever, working for one of the nicest, smartest, not to mention cutest guys around, and my new boss and dear friend goes and does something heroic and saves the world. I let out a shuddering sob. It wasn't even our world!

I find myself in the elevator heading back to the surface. I had scarcely begun my ascent when, for some inexplicable reason, I push the button for level 18. The elevator ascends silently and in hardly anytime at all the door silently opens to seemingly identical gray hall. I wrinkle my nose - why am I here? I'm fairly certain Daniel told me the research assistants work on Level 17… I step out of the elevator and turn right and then left. I'm feeling more and more confused when I suddenly stop in my tracks as I spy the engraving on the door in front of me. Dr. Daniel Jackson.

Daniel's office.

Taking baby steps, I push the door silently open and step inside. Books and papers are scattered everywhere - exactly how I imagined his office must be. I spy archaeological periodicals, well-thumbed leather journals and text books all strewn together in a perfect Dr. Daniel Jackson professional cocktail. I yearn to pick up one of the journals and smell it, but that would be a little creepy, wouldn't it? An invasion of Daniel's privacy. I know I'm probably not allowed to be in here and I want to absorb everything I possibly can before I'm asked to leave the room. Maybe even the base itself. Who knows how mad they'll be that I'm here?

I pick up a framed photo of a beautiful woman. This must be Sha're. I slowly continue to walk around the office, picking up strange-looking artifacts and glancing at half-completed translations. In the far corner of the room is an ancient coffee machine with an open bag of Victor's Special Blend near by.

Oh Daniel!

I hear footsteps approaching and quickly put the artifact I was holding down. I turn around to face what I'm certain will be MPs or someone telling me this room is restricted and I need to leave. I'm really surprised by who shows up.

"Hey," Jack says softly leaning against the doorway.  "I heard a rumor that you were here."

"Rumor?" I ask.

"You signed in up top," Jack explains.


"You should have said something."  Like what, Jack? What could I have possibly have said?

 "Not really how I expected to see where you work…" I begin, my eyes rapidly filling with tears as I take a deep, shuttering breath. "All these years, I wondered where you guys worked, and now I find out…"  My voice cracks and I can't continue. I begin to sob openly standing right there in the open in front of Daniel's desk.  This isn't fair! Daniel isn't supposed to die! After all these years, I finally find out what he does, and he dies? IT'S NOT FAIR!  I let out a low keen.

"Its okay, Kira," Jack says softly. I never even heard him move, and now he's standing at my side.  "It's going to be okay," he repeats, enveloping me in a crushing hug.

"How can it be okay, Jack," I wail, sobbing into his chest. "Daniel is dead! How can dead be all right?"  For several minutes I openly cry and wail and pretty much soak the front of Jack's dress blues.  He holds me the entire time and continues to repeat that it will be all right and all those other soothing words you expect to hear when someone dies. I'm not sure if he's saying it for me or himself.

After several minutes, Jack begins to chuckle. "You realize you're already emulating Daniel, right?" 

"Daniel spent time crying on your chest as well?" I couldn't help it - the smart-ass reply slips out before I can stop myself.

"We tried to keep it a secret," Jack answers without missing a beat, eyes twinkling. Without warning, a small artifact on the corner of Daniel's workplace crashes to the ground. Whoa - that's weird.

Jack breaks out into a huge grin. Now that's even weirder - who grins like that on the day of a funeral? "Sorry, Daniel," Jack murmurs, almost too softly for me to hear.

"Kira," Jack says in mock-seriousness as he wipes my eyes, "Daniel and I didn't have that kind of relationship."  I blink.

 "Good to know…er, I guess."  Daniel might be gone, but he and Jack are still confusing the hell out of me. I blink again and take another few steps deeper into Daniel's office, trying to absorb any residual Daniel-ness that might be lingering near by....

"Why do you think I'm emulating Daniel?"

"You've only been here once before, Kira. And unless Daniel was breaking protocol," Jack pauses and gives me a small smile. "Which Daniel did have a tendency to do, but in this instance, I think he would have told me..." He looks at me seriously. "You hadn't been down to Level 28 yet, had you?" I shake my head. No. I hadn't been there before.

"You hadn't seen the Stargate before." He says this as a statement. Again, I shake my head. It still feels very strange to feel all my short little hairs swish back and forth. "Which means," Jack continues, "that you hadn't gone through Stargate 101." I look at him in confusion. "I'm going to take that as a 'No, I haven't'," Jack says looking at my face.

"No one is allowed to see the Stargate without a basic orientation and primer, Kira," Jack says softly. "Daniel is usually the one to give the introduction." Once again, my eyes begin to fill.

"Hey, stop that," Jack admonishes kindly. "My medals can't take any more moisture!" I just end up hiccupping back a sob. I still don't understand why Jack thinks I'm emulating Daniel, but I'm too tired to ask him to explain.

"You're welcome to come by Daniel's office anytime, Kira," Jack says, as he gives me another hug. "But we probably should clean it up a bit first." I know he's referring to any sensitive material that might be lying around, but I fall for the bait anyway.

"I like it just the way it is."

Talking with Jack (crying with Jack) actually does make me feel better. Feeling much lighter than I have in days, I let Jack escort me back to the elevators. Which is good really, as I'm not too sure I would have found them on my own.

"Kira," Jack begins somewhat awkwardly, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets. "You are still going to work for us, right?" I almost wish I hadn't known Jack for five years. Then, maybe, I wouldn't hear how much he wants me to say yes. I don't know if it's for Daniel, or for Jack himself, but I hear so much need in that one little question, that it nearly breaks my heart. I don't know what to say.

"I don't know, Jack," I reply honestly. "Don't get me wrong, being able to work with alien languages and texts is pretty darn appealing, but it was Dan…" My voice cracks as I try to say his name. I quickly swallow the lump in my throat and will myself not to cry. Again.

"Daniel was the main reason I accepted the job," I finally manage to say. Jack nods in understanding.

"It's your decision, Kira," he says. "I just wanted you to know that we still would love to have you on board."

"Can I let you know tomorrow?" I ask.

"Of course," Jack replies. "Take all the time you need." I nod gratefully and step into the elevator. As it silently ascends, I think about Daniel and the work he did. I think about Daniel and the work he wanted me to do.

I exit into the cool night air and take a moment to stand under the stars. It's a beautiful clear evening and without the city's light pollution to dilute the skies, I can see stars as far as the eye can see. I stand there, looking upwards for several minutes, wondering how many of those suns Daniel had visited. Wondering if maybe some day, I'll have a chance to visit some of them. I'm not a religious person, but at that moment, I have the strangest sensation that Daniel is out there. I don't know if he's an angel, or just a bit of galactic dust, but I feel him around me. A light breeze, much warmer than the cool night air, ruffles my hair. Inexplicably, I feel lighter. I know what I need to do.

Decision made, I walk serenely back towards the sentry in order to officially sign out.

"See you tomorrow, miss?" the young officer asks, as I pick up the pen. I share with him my first genuine smile in days.

"You know what," I say, as I sign my pen and replace the cap. "I think you just might." Still smiling, I walk to my car and head home.

The End

Author's Notes:So sorry I couldn't give you notice about needing your hankies on this one, but that would have given it away! I hope you enjoyed (?!) this last Barista installment and that the much anticipated Meridian tag was worth the wait. This really is the last chapter in the Barista series - explanation follows in the Barista Addendum. Thank you all so, so much for an amazing thirty-five month journey!

I know this last story strayed from my, 'It must be canon' mantra, but I needed for there to be a memorial service in order for this story to end the way I envisioned. Thank you to everyone who informed me of where/when exactly Sam lamented [522 - Revelations], "With all due respect, Sir, I don't even understand how I feel. We didn't even have a memorial service." The SGC might not have had a Memorial Service, but The Barista did. I'm going to ask for your indulgence as I slyly slip over into AU-land and leave the Canon universe behind. It's just a small slip folks. Really.

Story completed November 1, 2005
Series completed: December 9, 2002 - November 1, 2005

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