Anthropology 101

 

 

Daniel’s nervous pacing took him back and forth, back and forth in front of the SGC elevators, his head lowered, bangs hanging down to hide his eyes from any curious passing airmen.  The elevator had opened and closed three times in the past twenty minutes, polite passersby offering to hold the door as Daniel considered and reconsidered his impulsive gesture, tapping the dog-eared journal against his leg, but he’d only smiled tightly and waved them off.

He owed her – they all did, really, but Daniel figured that neither Teal’c nor the colonel would have anything to offer but words – if that.  On one hand, they were all still learning just how different Jaffa culture was from anything they’d experienced before.  Teal’c had explained that Jaffa women were not expected to fight, but were neither held as possessions as the Shavadai women were.  He’d congratulated Captain Carter on her victory over Turghan as if he’d expected nothing less from a warrior-woman of the Tau’ri.

And Jack – well, Daniel knew that the military had books full of regulations about the interactions between the ranks.  While he realized that this new Jack O’Neill wasn’t the spit-n-polish, crew cut, hard-ass he’d first met, he was still Sam’s commanding officer, so his options were limited.  Ragging on junior officers seemed to be accepted, even compulsory behavior – something that the pecking order system of any hierarchical structure had in common whether it was on a military base, in an academic institution, or even within a family unit.  Keeping the lower echelons in their places was almost as important as getting the job done.

Daniel was an anthropologist.  He understood the dynamic, had seen it played out in front of him in many foreign cultures as well as under the roofs of many of the foster homes he’d been placed in as a child.  Yes, he understood - but he had never liked it.  Of course, rarely seeing the view from the top of the heap might have a little bit to do with his feelings, he admitted, but he’d never been comfortable witnessing the humiliation of others, and he’d never, ever understand the joy and pride some took in perpetrating that humiliation.

Okay, now he was over-thinking – again.  Yes, he’d borne the brunt of Ferretti and Kowalsky’s hazing during that first trip to Abydos, their behavior firming up his long held criticisms of the jock mentality that permeated the military mindset.  Yes, the attitudes of some of the airmen and marines he’d met on base since his return had reminded him of high school locker rooms of the past, making him want to sweep every uniform wearing male into the same category without any thought.  But Jack and Teal’c?  No.  He’d give them more credit than that, and tried to remind himself that any teasing words or smirking looks were firmly rooted in their respect – for the captain/doctor as well as for himself.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t always make himself believe it.  As high as he’d risen within his field before the great lecture fiasco, Daniel’s youth had always worked against him, had always made him the one standing sideways to the ladder of success.  The few hands that had been held out to him were always a surprise and he didn’t always recognize them.  He hoped Sam could take hold of his.

And wasn’t that all he was trying to do here?  Extend a hand?

The elevator door opened again and Daniel lifted his head and strode forward, pushing the level for Sam’s lab decisively.

A friendly face.  A gesture of camaraderie.  Maybe it was more an acknowledgement of mutual outsider-ism.  Misery loves company.  Even though she was a general’s daughter and a respected scientist, Daniel had seen the flush of humiliation on Samantha Carter’s face in the tent of the Shavadai when she was faced with the reactions of her male colleagues, and he was embarrassed by his own inability to offer her any relief.  He’d glimpsed the frustration beneath her thick military skin – not just on that mission, but here on base where she must, sometimes, feel as awkward and uncomfortable as he did.  There were few women officers in the SGC besides the new Chief Medical Officer, and fewer civilians.  Their presence – his and Doctor Carter’s – made SG-1 truly unique even beyond the inclusion of an alien.  A beautiful female officer and a sneezing civilian – he hoped Sam didn’t mind that Daniel lumped them both together under the heading of 'different.'

So – this was the right thing to do, he nodded.  An apology between colleagues; a bonding over the geeks’ most embarrassing moments.  Surely the pictures Steven had taken of Daniel in the traditional Peruvian loincloth and body paint on his first dig should level the playing field, should allow the prickly physicist to maybe find a way to put it into perspective, to find the humor without the humiliation.  Okay.  He could do this.

The elevator doors opened. 

“Daniel!  Where ya off to?”

Oh, God.  He could not do this.

“Hey, Jack,” Daniel blinked to avoid the telltale 'deer in the headlights' expression he knew happened to his face in moments like this.

The two stood staring for moment, Daniel waiting for Jack to get on so that he could get off; Jack standing, eyebrows raised, as if he had all the time in the world.  The doors had just started to close again when Jack stuck out both hands to hold them apart.  He leaned forward into the car, a half-smile on his lips.

“Daniel.  Do you plan on getting out?  Going somewhere?  Places to go, colonels to annoy?”

“Um, well, I was just going to see the captain for a minute,” Daniel finally admitted, feeling the blush as it crept slowly up his neck.

“Carter?” Jack snapped back, eyes at a suddenly suspicious half-mast.  He swept one arm towards the corridor.  “By all means – let’s visit Carter in her new digs.”

“Uh,” Daniel reluctantly left the safety of the silent, empty elevator for the company of the nosy, boisterous colonel.  “That’s okay, Jack.  I think I can find my way.  You don’t have to…” he stumbled slightly as Jack smacked him on the shoulder.

“Hey – what are friends for, buddy?” Jack offered.  “Wouldn’t want to leave young Daniel to beard the lioness in her den all by himself, now would we?”

Daniel hazarded a glance at the man out of the corner of his eye as the two split to dodge a passing marine.  “Nice Biblical reference.  You’ve advanced your reading from 'Field and Stream,' I see.”

“Oooo, you got me.”  The sarcastic phrase distracted him and a sharp tug was Daniel’s only warning to Jack’s attack.  He spun, fingers closing on empty air where his journal used to be.

“Jack!”

The colonel never missed a step as he turned the book over and over in his hands.  Daniel found himself running to catch up with the man’s loping gait as the long fingers were plucking at the thick rubber band that held the journal shut.  Just as he was beginning to reach out for it, Daniel stopped, frozen in his tracks, frowning as he watched the colonel’s straight back recede down the underground corridor.  No.  Not this time.  He took a deep breath: humor without humiliation, phase one.

It took a few moments for Jack to react.  Daniel watched as his head turned, expecting, perhaps, to see Daniel only a few steps behind, still hurrying to catch up, to try to grab his property back from the colonel’s hands.  Even at this distance he could see the dark eyes glittering within the expressive face, and watched the moment that the colonel took in the icy, distant look on his own.  A slight tilt of the head, a slowing of the hands, and the deliberate pace of his footsteps back towards the archaeologist told Daniel that Jack had stopped playing, too.

“Daniel?”  Even, level tones, as if he was attempting to make friends with a strange dog who’d wandered into his yard.  His gaze wandered the hallway, taking in the barely concealed smiles of uniformed men who watched the interaction intently while trying to appear disinterested.

“Jack.”  Daniel crossed his arms over his chest.  Yep.  There always had to be an audience.  Wasn’t much fun without one.

The colonel held his arms out in what Daniel recognized as a 'what’s up?' gesture as he closed the distance

“I will not play 'keep away' with you, Jack,” Daniel stated simply, working to eliminate any recrimination or anger from his voice.  “I was never that good at it in school – it always seemed to be a 'lose-lose' situation from an interpersonal standpoint.”  He smiled fleetingly.  “But I’m sure you remember it differently.”

“Ouch.”  The dryness of Jack’s response and the suddenly lowered heads and shifting eyes of the fleeing soldiers told Daniel that he’d hit a nerve.  Possibly several – he kept his expression bland as Jack sighed dramatically and held out his journal.  “You’re no fun,” Jack muttered.

“None at all,” Daniel agreed with a relieved grin as he tucked the book back against his leg before resuming his journey towards Sam’s lab.

Jack fell into place beside him quickly, hands now shoved into his pockets, probably to avoid future temptation.  “So, can I come with you to see Carter?”

“Yes, Jack.”

It was just a few steps later when Jack added, “You know I only mess with you…”

“…because you can,” Daniel inserted smoothly.

“No,” Jack retorted, a definite whine coloring his tone as he tried to distance himself from bullies everywhere.  “No, it’s because I’m so intimidated by your intelligence.”

“Yes, Jack.”  Daniel couldn’t hide the smile tugging up the corners of his mouth.  Maybe, once they were finished with Jack, Sam and he could re-educate this base full of testosterone-high, adolescent Neanderthals into some semblance of mature human interaction.  He was sure she’d sign on as his co-professor.  He cleared his throat uncomfortably.  Once he’d apologized for ogling her in that blue dress, anyway.

“Daniel?”

Patient.  He could do patient.  “Yes, Jack?”

“What’s in the book?”

Daniel sighed.  “Not much.  Just some notes and photos from one of my student digs in the Andes.  I thought, after our last mission, Sam would like to see what anthropologists have to go through on a fairly regular basis.”

Jack was silent for a few minutes.

“Gonna make her eat that headdress, aren’t ya?”

Daniel realized he had his work cut out for him.

End

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.