This story takes place between “Maternal Instinct” and “The Crystal Skull” in Season Four.

The Bridge

Learning Curve

“Briefing in fifteen, Danie….”  Damn.  He wished this was the first time he’d stumbled on this scene, but it was becoming all too frequent if you asked him.  When Jack turned the corner into Daniel’s office at 08:00 he expected a droopy-eyed archaeologist guzzling his fourth cup of coffee of the morning, not a head-on-desk, out-like-a-light teammate who obviously hadn’t even left his office since the night before. 

Walking into the cluttered space, Jack glanced around at the piles of reports and boxes of rocks and doodads all demanding the attention of one Daniel Jackson, genius, raging workaholic, and member of SG-1.  “Weight of the world” boy.  He flipped over one of the tags attached to a cat-cow-pig thing.  P4J-993.  SG-7.  Reports with notes attached from General Hammond’s office filled with letters like ASAP.  Notes from some of the other researchers on the base, “Daniel, can’t quite make this out, maybe you could give it a try.”  “Dr. Jackson, this negotiation is crucial and I’d like your thoughts…”  Right.  Translations while you wait.  And everyone seemed to be waiting for him.

Jack rubbed one hand across his face.  “For crying out loud, Daniel, doesn’t anybody else on your staff have a freaking clue?”

“Jack?”  Daniel’s head snapped up, his usually piercing blue eyes bleary with sleep.

“Daniel.”  It was more of a sigh.  “You do know we’re scheduled to go off-world at 14:30 today, right?  Off-world, as in, danger, tattooed guys with bad attitudes, possibly alien princesses to avoid?”

“What?”  Daniel pushed both palms against his eyes and rubbed, eventually trailing his fingers up to sweep through his hair.  It was getting long, again.  No time to deal with it, just like food, sleep, life.  Not much of that anyway.  He squinted at his watch and sat back in his chair heavily.  “Crap.”

“’Crap’ doesn’t begin to describe it, Danny-boy.”

It was Daniel’s turn to sigh.  “I thought if I could just finish a few of these translations last night, I could focus better on today’s mission.”

Commanding officer of SG-1, SIC of Stargate Command, and friend Col. Jack O’Neill settled one hip on Daniel’s desk, pushing papers and artifacts out of the way before crossing his arms over his chest.  “This can’t keep happening, Daniel.”

“I know, Jack.”
“We’re a field team.”

“You don’t have to keep reminding me.”

“Third night in a row.”

“I know!  Wait, what?”  Daniel grabbed his glasses from the desk next to him and pushed them onto his face, blinking up at Jack with a frown.  “How did you know?”

“Commanding officer, Danny-boy, all knowing, all seeing, like that glowy-squid like-chick we met last week.”  He waved one hand in the air to describe his eerie supernatural abilities before finally pointing one finger at the security camera on the wall above the door.

“You’ve been watching me?”  Daniel didn’t know whether to feel creeped out or…really creeped out.

“Yes, Daniel,” Jack sniped, “I spend all of my free time on base watching you on video.  Teal’c and me.  With popcorn.”

“Jack…”

Standing, Jack reached for the cat-cow-pig thing and turned it over and over in his hands, purposefully avoiding Daniel’s anxious expression.  “I get reports, Daniel.  Reports from Frasier on the fitness of my team, and reports from the security desk on my team’s movements.  For instance,” he checked the underside of the figure to see if there was a rubber stopper so that little alien kids could get their coins out, “did you know that Carter checked out at 19:20 last night, came back at 19:40, and then left again at 19:52?  Wonder what gizmo she’d forgotten to turn off in her lab,” he asked himself.  “You, however,” no stopper, which made sense as he couldn’t find any slot for putting coins in the thing on the top, “haven’t set foot off this base since you came in on Thursday at 06:10.”  He finally looked up and held the younger man’s attention with his own fierce stare.  “Today is Tuesday.”

Daniel pursed his lips and blew out a deep breath.  “I’m sorry, Jack, but,” he looked around at the accumulation of artifacts, piles of photos of off-world inscriptions, and then to his computer screen where he could see another 42 emails in his inbox, “there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.  And please put that down,” he muttered as an afterthought.

“Daniel, do you really think you’re in any shape to go off-world this afternoon?”  When the archaeologist’s mouth opened in automatic response, Jack held up one finger.  “Ah!  Be honest – are you going to be alert, able to watch out for yourself and the other members of your team?”  He stressed the last word to try to get Daniel to realize how important his position was.

“After the briefing I’ll have time to catch a nap,” he suddenly became aware of the feel of his stale BDUs, “and a shower.”  He put every effort into appearing awake and alert in the face of his utterly unconvinced commander.  “Jack, I’m fine.”

“Oh, don’t even start,” the colonel smirked.   He launched the cat-cow-pig into the air over the desk and watched Daniel’s sluggish reaction, throwing himself forward to try to catch the delicate figure before it smashed to pieces.  Jack snatched it out of the air about three inches from the desk and six inches from Daniel’s outstretched fingers.  Leaning down to fix his dark gaze onto his teammate’s stunned blue one, Jack whispered.  “And if that had been Carter?”

Daniel blinked, trying to deny to Jack, and to himself, that it had been a fair test.  “I probably couldn’t catch Sam…”

“Daniel,” Jack’s growl was menacing.

“Okay, okay, I get it,” he scooted his chair back to put some distance between himself and Jack’s disturbing example, his arms tightly wound around his chest in a familiar pose.  “You can’t count on me.  It’s not like it’s a new concept.”

Jack’s moan of frustration seemed to propel him from Daniel’s desk to pace around the limited floor space available.  “Daniel – you’re stressed, trying to do too much.  You’ve got to learn how to say ‘no.’”

“To what?”  Daniel’s gesture took in all of the files and artifacts packed on every surface of the room.  “To General Hammond’s request for help with the language of the Hunvrai negotiations before the meeting tomorrow?  Or should I ignore Major Fletcher’s mission to the refugees of M4S-599, and the strange relics that they keep giving him?  Dammit, Jack, it’s not like I’m staying up late surfing the internet or watching old movies!  This is important.”

Col. Jack O’Neill stopped, hearing the edge of desperation in his young friend’s voice.  He doubted if Dr. Daniel Jackson had ever had any time for the kinds of leisure pursuits that kept the average guy busy at night.  Two doctorates and a Masters degree before the age of twenty-five.  Definitely nothing average about that.  But Jack would bet his entire library of Simpson’s tapes that nothing in all of Daniel’s education had prepared the SGC’s resident cultural geek for the kinds of responsibilities he’d gathered over the last four years.

“I know it’s important, Daniel, but every new culture, every new language, can’t be all your responsibility.  You’ve got to prioritize, set up some kind of ‘Archaeological Triage” with all of this stuff.”  Jack gestured widely at the large room that did not contain one surface that wasn’t overflowing with artifacts and paperwork.  “What about your staff?  That Rothman guy you keep telling me is the next best thing to sliced bread?”

“He is good, Jack, so are Kandihir, and Frinnelli, and Anders, but…” Daniel took his responsibilities to his staff as seriously as Jack did his to his team.  He suddenly clamped his mouth shut and lowered his head, knowing that Jack would misunderstand if he tried to explain.

“But, what?”  It didn’t take a genius to know that Daniel was holding back, and O’Neill prided himself on his own advanced degree:  he had a doctorate in stubborn, pig-headed archaeologist, even though he didn’t have a framed certificate to prove it.  “But, what, Daniel?  But they’re not good enough?  Not as good as you?”

“No!”  The contradiction was spontaneous, filled with all of the exhaustion and frustration that had been building up for months.   Stop, he told himself, closing his eyes firmly, you don’t understand.  It isn’t what I meant at all.

Jack narrowed his eyes.  Huh.  He hadn’t expected this from Daniel.  “Look, Dr. Jackson,” his careful pronunciation of the name made the archaeologist flinch, “I don’t care what you know, or how smart you are, as long as you’re a member of SG-1, your readiness to get into the field to fulfill our current mission objective has got to be your highest priority.”  He punctuated his statement with one jabbing finger, his anger evident in every word and motion.

“It is,” Daniel’s murmured response was almost inaudible, “but I can’t just…”

“Apparently not,” Jack shot back, satisfied to see Daniel’s head snap up, his gaze sharpening.  Maybe he was getting through that dense brain matter of his, but the leader of SG-1 couldn’t be sure.  Verbal agreement with Jack’s orders wasn’t Daniel’s problem; it was actually following through and carrying them out the way Jack intended where the young man tended to stray off the reservation.  “You’re scrubbed for this mission, Daniel,” he finally announced.

Jack’s statement brought Daniel to his feet in one swift movement, his desk chair rolling off behind him until it hit the wall with a thud.  “What?  You can’t do that!”

“I can and I have,” O’Neill crossed his arms, presenting a solid wall of decisive colonel to Daniel’s disbelieving eyes.  “I’ll grab one of Reynolds’ marines to be our fourth on this one, they’re always ready,” he snorted.  Born ready, according to their CO.

“But, Jack!   The UAV showed ruins of what looks like a temple structure...” he grabbed at the first argument he could think of to change Jack’s mind.

“Maybe you should have thought of that before you decided to ignore me when I told you to make sure you eat and sleep properly before a mission!”  Jack hoped this was the first and last time he’d have to go this far to make Daniel understand his own limitations.

He couldn’t believe this was happening.  It couldn’t be happening.  SG-1 was the only thing he had left now, didn’t Jack realize that?  “Jack,” Daniel tried to steady his voice, “please.  It will never happen again.”

“Damn right it won’t,” Jack agreed gruffly.  “In fact, after the briefing, which you are not attending,” he held up one hand in front of his teammate’s face, “I plan to talk to Hammond to make sure of that fact.”  The colonel steeled himself against the lost expression in Daniel’s eyes.  Tough love time, Jack, he muttered to himself.  He’ll thank you later when he’s alive“SG-1 is due back 48 hours from debarkation time.  Until then I’m ordering you off the base, and before you ask, no, you can’t take any work home with you.”

“Jack.”

“No arguments, Daniel, I’ll see you in two days.  Don’t make me send a couple of SFs in here to escort you out.”

Daniel stood perfectly still as Jack slammed his office door behind him.  Maybe he was still asleep and it was all a dream.  Jack couldn’t have just described himself, Sam, Teal’c and one of Reynolds’ marines as SG-1, could he?  What did that make him?  Insignificant, his inner doubts whispered.  Even with three years of off-world missions to show for himself, Daniel knew he’d never manage to rise in the eyes of the military beyond his academic niche.  He’d seen the smirks and heard the thinly veiled insults; those and his own criticisms of the Air Force mindset told him that the gulf between academia and the military was a wide one – perhaps one that he’d never successfully bridge.  Especially now that he’d been removed from SG-1.

He knew he’d screwed up; he should have left the translations until after they’d returned from P7R-434, but he also knew that something else would have turned up by then to put him farther behind.  Daniel crossed his arms and let his gaze travel over all of the files and requests for help that were scattered throughout his office.  No.  He didn’t think of himself as smarter than Robert Rothman and the rest of the cultural support staff.  He shook his head abruptly.  But as their advisor – he refused to think of himself as more than a colleague with more experience, he was younger than most of them, and couldn’t be their ‘commander’ as the military looked at things – he had a responsibility to his people. 

They were all amazingly bright, and their progress along the learning curve was remarkable, but it was still a learning curve, and he would always be ahead.  Not because of anything inherent in himself, but because he’d been about it longer.  An entire year living on Abydos among an alien culture.  Another year at the SGC as the sole cultural consultant.  Field experience that many of them would never have - if they were lucky.  He couldn’t refuse to help out when they asked.

Daniel rubbed his eyes again – they felt hot and dry from staring at brightly lit screens and trying to focus on tiny figures and drawings.  Jack thought it was his pride that kept him from resting, that much was obvious from his reactions to Daniel’s hesitant remarks about his staff.  He didn’t know that every time he closed his eyes he saw the innocent face of Sha’re’s son surrounded by ribbons of glowing light.  The image was burned into his mind, and came with a flood of emotion – relief that the boy was safe, guilt that he couldn’t be the one to protect him, and a deeper guilt at his relief that he wouldn’t be reminded day after day that this child was not his.  And then the ‘what-ifs’ surfaced, one after another. 

What if this had been his son?  What if Sha’re hadn’t died to save him?  What if he had been strong enough to win her back, or at least man enough to keep her from being abducted in the first place?  He blinked rapidly, not sure if he had any tears left after the events of the past few months.  She was gone.  The child was gone.  And Ska’ara – Ska’ara was back with his people – it was the only thought that kept Daniel from absolute despair.  Maybe Jack was right to replace him.  Maybe it was time to let go of SG-1 and step back among his colleagues into his academic niche.  He turned, grabbed his coat from the closet and switched off the lights before carefully locking his office door.

 

Change of Focus

Daniel absentmindedly flipped his security card over and over in one hand as the elevator began its slow descent within Cheyenne Mountain.  His eyes were fixed on the numbers scrolling across the small readout, but his sight was turned inward, oblivious to the two airmen exchanging nervous glances behind his back.  It was…considerate…of the general to call him last night to let him know that SG-1 had returned safely from their off-world mission with no bumps, bruises, or even hangnails to show for it. 

Hammond had kindly let Daniel know that the team had breezed through their standard medical checks and were dismissed from the base for the evening so that Daniel didn’t have to bother reporting to the mountain to check on them.  A Major General in the Air Force passing along information like that was very…thoughtful…but it also spoke of deeper, weightier issues.  SG-1 was back.  The team had been dismissed.  As a linguist he could not help but notice the significance of the general’s choice of words.

After his last confrontation with Jack, he’d barely made it home and into his bedroom before he’d dropped – waking up nearly eighteen hours later in the same green BDUs he’d been wearing for days.  Stripping them off and leaving them on the floor, he’d stood under the shower until long after the water ran cold, imagining the complaints from his neighbors that were certainly piling up on the building manager’s answering machine. 

Coffee fortified him long enough to seek out some real food from the local grocery store, making sure to strategically place a bag of fruit on the passenger seat so he could stifle the insistent hunger pains on the drive home.  Dropping onto the couch a few hours later after seeing to the petty needs of utility companies, his cleaning service, and the automatic food dispenser on his aquarium, Daniel had to admit that he’d needed the break.  Twenty minutes after that he began to fidget, wondering if it were permanent.

Jack had been angry.  Well, that wasn’t new; Jack not angry with him would be more unexpected.  What worried Daniel wasn’t the anger – he’d deserved it – it was the barely controlled disappointment that he’d seen in Jack’s eyes.  He didn’t think Daniel took his role on SG-1 seriously.  No, that wasn’t it.  Jack thought Daniel put his team behind his research, his off-world exploration second to his on-base studies.  The life of the mind before the life of the body; the ethereal over the tangible. 

It was the same old song and dance that he’d been playing around the military since he first set foot in Colorado Springs and had his first encounter with Jack O’Neill, General West, and the U.S. Air Force:  that one’s focus could only be one or the other.  The military mind could not seem to grasp that he could be equally committed to both.  Any diversion from the behavior they saw in their recruits – and expected of him - was met with resentment, mockery, and bitterness.  Follow orders, toe the line, listen to direction.  Don’t question, don’t consider – that has already been done for you by people higher in the chain of command.  They were right:  in dangerous situations, following the orders of a commander was vital, and the ‘clear chain of command’ that Jack always spoke about was critical, but it was hypocritical of them to apply that thinking to every single situation that presented itself in the SGC.

In academia, questioning, considering, challenging theories and assumptions was expected, not ridiculed.  A person’s ideas were given weight, much more weight than his physical presence, because it was his ideas that defined him, that set him apart.  And there were as many dangers inherent in the discipline of the mind as there were in the discipline of the body, but he’d never convince his military colleagues of that, he smiled to himself.  The patience and stubbornness Daniel exhibited at the SGC were the results of his long academic focus, and were the “muscles” he brought to his field work as well.  Painstaking attention to detail.  Willingness to go over the same research again and again and again until he could find the right answer.  These were his strengths, and he knew- he knew that if he could bring them from the geeky side of town where they were appreciated to the violence riddled neighborhood of the front lines he just might do some good here.

It was up to him to reconcile the two areas of his life, and even more difficult, he had to convince Jack and General Hammond that he could do so.  If there was one thing he’d learned from the military it was their insistence on the individual’s commitment to the team, “one for all, all for one,” and “no one gets left behind.”  When your life depended on the man or woman standing at your side, and not in a metaphorical, symbolic sort of way, but in a “they’re going to shoot you in the head” sort of way, the philosophy made sense.  And even though he’d been on his own since he was eight years old, Daniel embraced that philosophy with his entire being. 

In society, in academia, in the military, it was the bonds built between people that kept them sane and kept them safe.  And Daniel had been the weak link in the SG-1 chain since the beginning by that very measure.  Blame it on his childhood, blame it on his intelligence, blame it on his choices, whatever, it was Daniel who had to resolve his place within the two worlds he inhabited.  Find his place.  Define his role.  Especially now when his roles of husband and father, or foster-father, had been irretrievably shattered and broken.

He opened his eyes to dispel the images those thoughts always brought along with them and looked around his quiet apartment.  One more day.  He only had one more day before he returned to the SGC.  He had to be ready.  So, while the latest Archaeological Journals sat tantalizingly on his desk, he changed into sweats and headed out, determined to find some balance between his research and his role on SG-1.  He would not let them push him away.

During the five mile run he’d made his plans.  Eat.  Sleep.  Study.  Work out.  Feed his brain.  Feed his body.  He couldn’t be the little brother, the one everyone looked out for, the guy who had to be reminded to put on his shoes, for crying out loud, any more.  He was young, he could still work long hours at his desk, cover his cultural staff, and take care of himself.  He shook his head, sweat flying from the ends of his too-long hair.  Other people managed to balance busy lifestyles – airmen at the SGC had families, kept themselves fit, and handled off-world missions.  His mentor in Chicago, Dr. David Jordan, managed to keep up with his archaeological studies, raise three children, chair two departments, write a book, and advise one over-achieving and over-eager associate at the same time.  Surely if he put his mind to it, Daniel could do the same.  The frown deepened between his brows.  At least he didn’t have to worry about making time for family commitments.

Daniel blinked, his gaze reluctantly turning from his confidence of yesterday to focus on the reality of the upcoming meeting with Jack and General Hammond.  He’d found the message from Jack on his voicemail last night when he’d finally remembered to charge his cell phone.  Meeting.  07:30.  Hammond’s office.  Don’t be late.  Thanks, Jack, don’t bother to give me any hints about what I should expect, you and Hammond just blind-side me like usual.  He glanced down at his watch. 

Traffic had been terrible, so he didn’t have time to head to the locker room to change out of the jeans and sweater he’d put on this morning.  Great.  Just when he didn’t want to draw any attention to the differences between Dr. Daniel Jackson and the military establishment around him.  He rehearsed his points again, carrying on the inner dialogue he’d been imagining for the past two days between him and Jack, him and the general, reacting calmly to their expected statements, their presumed responses to his promises.

His feet must have taken their usual path through the control room, up the circular metal staircase and into the briefing room, but he couldn’t exactly remember the trip, or who he might have passed on the way.  07:25.  Good.  At least he wasn’t late.  The door to Hammond’s office was still closed, and Jack’s broad shoulders covered in standard Air Force blue blocked Daniel’s view through the glass, so he crossed to the observation window to wait, arms across his chest. 

The Stargate was dialing and SG-5 was waiting at the base of the ramp.  His eyes opened wider in momentary surprise when he caught sight of the bearded figure adjusting the straps of his field pack next to Major Tissault.  He’d been so wrapped up in his own problematic world that he’d forgotten that Robert was heading out for an extended survey of the ruins on P77-898 this morning.  Shifting his weight to turn back towards the stairs, Daniel remembered that he wanted to repeat his warnings about the instability of the roof structure before Robert Rothman left, but before he could take a step, Hammond’s office door was flung open and he froze.  Jack and General Hammond were not alone.

 

Unexpected

“Jack?”  Daniel’s well-rehearsed speeches had apparently run off and hid behind his mid-brain somewhere, where the synapses were firing so wildly that it was a wonder the sound wasn’t deafening.  So much for making a good impression on Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond – he could tell that his face was doing that ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ thing that made him look like he was still twelve years old.  Clearing his throat, Daniel lowered his eyes and carefully placed the leather jacket he’d been clutching over the back of one of the black briefing room chairs before taking a step towards the three men at the end of the table.

“Um, I apologize that I haven’t changed, General,” Daniel began again, frowning, keeping his eyes fixed on the commander of the SGC, whose unexpectedly warm expression caused a chill to shiver down Daniel’s body.  “You wanted to see me?”  His eyes flicked between Jack’s bemused attitude and Hammond’s face, barely acknowledging the existence of the third man, a few inches taller than O’Neill, who waited patiently in the background.

“Dr. Jackson, Colonel O’Neill has brought it to my attention that recently your duties on SG-1 have been preempted by your obligations to the cultural and diplomatic responsibilities of this command, and not for the first time.”

“Yes, General, I know, and I’d like to…”

“I thought you’d be pleased to know that your contributions to the SGC and the time and effort you’ve spent getting the language and archaeological side of the Stargate up and running has not gone unnoticed.”

“Thank you, General, but…”  Pleased.  Yep, he was certainly pleased that Jack had taken him off of SG-1, that’s for sure.  He couldn’t make his eyes do more than glance at the man standing behind Jack and the general.  His replacement on SG-1, probably.

“In fact,” now Hammond was smiling.  “I’ve had Major Davis and the Pentagon working on this problem for months before we could agree on a candidate.  As you must know, working on the Stargate program comes with a lot of rules and responsibilities – far more than are found in less critical endeavors.”

Months?  Anger surged through Daniel’s body, replacing the unnatural chill with white hot fury that he had to struggle to control.  He couldn’t help shooting a bitter glance at Jack.  You’ve been planning this for that long?  Since when, exactly?  Since Sha’re’s death?  Or was it before then, when you locked me up in the padded room?  Jack frowned, seemingly confused by Daniel’s reaction.

What’s going on in that head of yours, Daniel?  Jack shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his BDUs, trying to figure out the contradictory body language of the young man.  He understood the uneasiness, the nerves – he’d been pretty brusque with Daniel the last time they spoke, and Jack knew he felt guilty about missing the last mission with SG-1 – and even though Daniel apologized more than any other single person Jack had ever met, Jack knew that he hated letting his teammates down, and felt his own failures deeply.  What he hadn’t expected was the rage he now saw behind the cool blue of Daniel’s eyes.  It was my job to fix this, Daniel, don’t you get it?

“I’m sorry that it took us so long, son, but I think the results are going to be well worth it.”  General Hammond was unaware of the silent waves of emotion flowing between his two men.  He turned to the figure behind him and nodded his head.  “All I can say is that we got lucky.”

Tearing his gaze from Jack’s face, Daniel finally let himself see the other man.  Tall, strongly built, thick grey hair atop a high lined forehead, his arms crossed loosely across his chest and a slight smile playing about his mouth.  He was wearing a brown corduroy jacket and tan slacks.  Wait – grey hair?  Lines?  The guy was years older than Jack.  This was his replacement on SG-1?

The man stepped forward, extending one hand, a dark blue stone in a gold ring momentarily picking up the light from the open wormhole behind the glass.  “My dear boy,” his rich voice seemed to fill the empty room.  “I have heard so much about you.”

Daniel’s innate diplomacy made him extend his own right hand in an echo of the man’s gesture.  He looked down at the smooth hand holding onto his and watched the man’s other hand reach up to grasp Daniel’s between his.  “I’m sorry, I-I don’t understand,” Daniel stuttered, his tongue flicking out to try to spread some moisture around his suddenly dry mouth.

Laughing softly, the man squeezed Daniel’s hand slightly before dropping his grip.  “Of course you don’t recognize me; no reason you should.  But I knew your father.”

What?  His confused gaze flicked between Jack’s and the general’s.  “My father?”
“Dr. Jackson, this is Dr. Kendrick.  I’m told by Major Davis that Dr. Kendrick is one of the foremost scholars in archaeology and anthropology today.  I’m sure his expertise will be extremely beneficial to our little program here.”  General Hammond turned to Daniel as if he was bestowing a precious gift.  “This should ease your workload tremendously, son, and, as soon as Dr. Kendrick is up to speed you can get some well-deserved rest and refocus your energies.”

The name clicked Daniel’s remaining brain cells into place.  “Dr. Donald Kendrick?  Of Camstead University?”

The laugh lines around Kendrick’s brown eyes seemed to be well earned as the man smiled once again.  “Guilty as charged.”

Daniel couldn’t help a swift look through the window onto the empty ramp below.  The wormhole had just disengaged, carrying SG-5 and his colleague Dr. Robert Rothman away to another world for the next week.  A jolt of relief threatened to shake off the sudden mask of self-control that Daniel dropped over his face.  At least Robert was well away from this debacle.  He switched on his best diplomat’s smile and shoved the antagonism and disbelief that flooded him back into the dark place where he tried to keep his emotions.  He’d worked on shoring up the mental doors to that place over the past two days, knowing that his emotionalism often undercut any rational argument he tried to put forward to the military types.  A hysterical guffaw bubbled up in his throat at the thought.  God.  He could not have been more wrong about Jack’s intentions.  This was…this was…  He shook his head.

“Daniel?”

Thanks, Jack, thanks so much.  I don’t know how to thank you.  I don’t know why to thank you.  His friend’s voice had given Daniel what he needed to clamp his teeth shut against the laughter and focus on the unbelievable situation that was playing out in the familiar briefing room.

“I’ve read your work, Daniel,” Kendrick moved in smoothly to try to cover the young man’s obvious difficulty.  “And General Hammond and Paul Davis have sent me some of your more recent findings.  Amazing.  Truly amazing.”  His smile was indulgent, as if he was a proud parent.  “Well, the entire state of affairs is rather amazing, isn’t it?  Finding out what everyone took to be the ramblings of an undisciplined, over-indulged boy wonder were the clues to uncovering the mystery of traveling among the stars – how incredible!”  He gestured widely with his arms, turning slightly as if to take in the Stargate, the mountain, and the entire universe.

“Amazing, that’s the word all right,” Daniel struggled to keep his voice steady.  And thanks for those memories.

Jack’s eyes narrowed slightly at Kendrick’s last speech, wishing that the guy hadn’t opened up that old can of worms.  Daniel’s muttered reply almost brushed right past him.  Whoa.  There is something so going on behind those blue eyes, Danny-boy.  I’ve seen that expression before.  Usually right before you lose it.

“You are familiar with Dr. Kendrick’s work, Dr. Jackson?” Hammond asked, trying to put his finger on the archaeologist’s attitude.

Daniel’s gaze never left Kendrick’s.  “Of course.  Everyone in the academic community knows Dr. Kendrick’s…reputation.  He has been published widely-”

Before he could finish, O’Neill jumped in, trying all the buttons to get Daniel to respond in some semi-intelligible way.  Right now it looked like he’d like to throw a punch at the guy.  “Yeah, I’m sure.  Never saw him in National Geographic, though.  Now that little deal he did between the Bolivian government and those radicals holding a school full of kids hostage, that was impressive.”  Kendrick’s law degree and consultant status with the Federal Government had contributed greatly to his acceptance by the Pentagon and the other political powers that be.  This guy might not have the linguistic genius of their resident geek, but his experience in difficult negotiations, and his advanced degrees in Archaeology and Psychology, would surely help out around here.

“Why don’t you show Dr. Kendrick around, Dr. Jackson.  I need to talk to Colonel O’Neill about adjusting SG-1’s off-world schedule to allow you time to bring him up to date on our current projects.”  Expecting compliance, Hammond turned and moved towards his office before either Jack or Daniel could object to this idea.

Eyeing Daniel’s rigid stance, and Kendrick’s affable smile, Jack placed one hand heavily on Daniel’s shoulder and gave the young man a slight shake.  “So, a friendly tour, Daniel?”  He stressed the word ‘friendly,’ finally drawing Daniel’s gaze away from the older man’s face.  “Take your time.  Just remember we’re meeting Teal’c and Carter for lunch at 12:30.”  He waved one finger in front of Daniel’s cold stare.  “Don’t make me come and find you,” he warned lightly.

Shrugging off Jack’s hand, Daniel flashed him a blatantly false smile.  “Oh, I’ll be there,” he responded sweetly.

 

Control

Intriguing.  Just when he was beginning to think there were no more mountains to climb, no more goals to strive for, no more enticements for his intellect or challenges for his skills the Pentagon drops this into his lap.  Donald Kendrick smiled to himself as he allowed them to woo him, to flatter and court his favor as so many others had in the past.  Never show your eagerness; never let them see your interest.  He had been met with few occasions where his own concrete self-control had allowed others to sense his excitement – his fervor - for an opportunity.  Wait, observe, watch for an opening, the chance to manipulate your opponent’s will, to convince him that your suggestions were his ideas in the first place, or vice versa.  These were the skills they praised him for in his negotiations.  It amazed him that they never realized those same skills were at work when the government representatives brought him a proposal as well.

He hadn’t yet worked with the military directly; his contributions were made only through contact with civilian government agencies like the FBI or the CIA.  He was certain, however, that finding the right buttons, the correct incentives, the magic words, if you will, would not be difficult, and would ultimately lead him to success.  After all, if he could acquire what he needed in the heady waters of the academic community, he could surely feel his way through the limited resources of the military mind.  When he had what he wanted, when he’d attained the highest standing within this newest and most intriguing military group and grew tired of the game they would beg him to stay.  They always did.

After he’d signed the papers and they’d finally handed over the files, he wondered if his self-control had met its match.  A device used to explore the galaxy.  Alien megalomaniacs intending to enslave the human race.  Parasites and monsters.  Energy beings that existed on a superior plane of existence.  Teams of explorers and adventurers who regularly set foot on alien worlds.  He’d demanded more, more on the excavation and experimentation on the device itself, on the Stargate and those who first recognized its potential.  He poured over the names of the scientists who had brought it from Egypt, experimented during the war, the foolhardy man, Littlefield, who volunteered to take the first journey.  His smile widened as he remembered opening the large file marked ‘Abydos,’ and seeing the name for the first time:  Dr. Daniel Jackson.  It had awakened something in his mind, but the names and faces of so many students had come and gone over the years that Kendrick could put no more information with the name, no facts or memories, he just knew there was something there, in the back of his mind.

Hours later, after some tedious research, he found it.  It had been years ago, after all, when his partner Dr. David Jordan had come to him to tell him he’d taken a position at the University of Chicago, and that many of their archaeology undergraduates were transferring with him.  Kendrick remembered the pure hatred that had erupted within him, how he’d snatched the letter from Jordan’s hand and spit out a long stream of curses and threats that caused students and office workers nearby to turn to listen for a moment before backing away awkwardly.  That had been the last time he’d allowed his fury to overcome him in a public space, and he had worked day and night for some time thereafter to eliminate all record of the event from the University.  Jordan had surprised him, and Kendrick didn’t like surprises.  Following Jordan’s later career he’d been satisfied to see the man fall under the dust of the archaic university system, his achievements limited to periodic papers and unimportant digs, while Kendrick’s own reputation grew exponentially.

Dr. Daniel Jackson.  Jordan’s new pet.  By the time Jordan arrived in Chicago he’d already been praised for his brilliant academic mind, his achievements at so young an age, it was Jackson who had earned Jordan whatever acclaim he received at the Chicago University.  He remembered reading the boy wonder’s two doctoral theses – two, by the time he was 25 – and knowing that Jordan had somehow managed to ally himself with the brightest archaeological mind in the western world.  Envy seized him again, but now he could control it, use it, turn it from a liability into an asset as he made his plans.  A few calls to colleagues gave him Jackson’s past, his parents’ various excavations, and his own odd passion for fringe theories about language development.  When Kendrick received the grant he’d been waiting for he made sure that the invitation to collaborate on a new dig site in Giza went directly to Jackson’s office in Chicago, not Jordan’s, knowing that the young man would not be able to refuse.  But before the departure date arrived, Jackson had committed academic suicide and dropped off the face of the map.  His own plans for the boy would have been much more personally fulfilling, but the vicarious loss of standing for David Jordan and the Chicago University almost made up for it.  Almost.

And now, standing here attempting to appear unconcerned in the unappealing office of the military commander of this underground base Kendrick knew that his self-control was due for its greatest challenge.  Maintaining his facade of helpfulness and modesty, he studied the two men who could stand between him and his current objective.  The general was eager; a man with too many responsibilities who was not equipped to deal with the threats and challenges that had been thrust upon him during this late stage of his career.  He would not be the problem.  The colonel – O’Neill – he could read the subtlety in his expression, the discipline behind the casual demeanor – Kendrick had seen that closed-off, watchful expression in the eyes of soldiers’ before.  This man looked for conspiracies and plots, for motivations and hidden agendas as naturally as Kendrick manipulated spirits.  If he could throw this man off, keep him at a distance long enough, his plan would unfold perfectly.  Another challenge.  He knew the smile on his lips would be misinterpreted as enthusiasm for the task at hand, not the anticipation of the contest.

Standing back, behind the military men, Kendrick took a moment to observe.  He had seen photos, standard shots used on credentials and identification, but in person the boy was…surprising.  Stimulating.  He projected an aura of intensity, of tightly-reined fervor, his startlingly blue eyes dancing with barely restrained emotion.  There was a tension here, especially between O’Neill and the boy, some undercurrent of resentment or old anger.  Good.  He could use that.  Stepping closer and reaching towards him, Kendrick felt the full force of that gaze, and witnessed some dawning revelation in the boy’s eyes before Jackson recovered.  Interesting.  Surely Jordan did not speak about him – no, he was sure his ex-colleague would not have done so.  Something else, then.  He would have to work hard to keep the young genius too unbalanced to notice his own infiltration into Jackson’s position here at the SGC.  If Kendrick’s goal to turn this opportunity into another feather in his cap, another line item on his resume, was to be reached, he would have to eliminate the obstacle this boy represented.  Let’s begin, he thought.

“…I knew your father.”

A momentary confusion.  Not nearly enough for Kendrick’s purposes.  He couldn’t allow the boy a moment to gather his thoughts.

“…finding out what everyone took to be the ramblings of an undisciplined, over-indulged boy wonder were the clues to uncovering the mystery of traveling among the stars – how incredible!”

Kendrick watched the effect of his words on the boy, the clench of his jaw, the tension in his shoulders.  Yes, the self-doubt was still there, just beneath the surface.  Apparently Jackson’s few years working on this project had not helped him overcome what the jeers and rejection of his peers in the scientific community had caused.  It was simple, really, to nudge someone’s thinking onto a different pathway; after working with students for so long, all Kendrick really needed was a glimpse into the boy’s psyche, a taste of his spirit and struggles.  That, coupled with his knowledge of a typical military organization could be used to reduce Jackson’s standing with the SGC, and thereby raise Kendrick higher, to the prominent position which he deserved.

He watched Jackson struggle to maintain his neutral expression when the colonel spoke with him briefly before he trailed off behind General Hammond and closed the door.  The smile Jackson had flashed the military commander had been full of teeth - a shark’s smile that had not reached his eyes.  Kendrick brought his hands together with a resounding smack before rubbing them together as if in delight.  The boy startled, frowning, his sharp gaze now directed at Kendrick.

“I realize you must have many responsibilities, my boy, but I hope you’ll spare a few moments to help one old man find his way around this monstrosity of a complex.”

Had Jackson’s eyes narrowed momentarily before he nodded and gestured to the metal stairs behind him?  Perhaps.  He watched the young man walk quickly away before closing the distance between them, observing his body language, the set of his shoulders, and the abruptness of his gestures.  Jackson began what sounded like a well-rehearsed spiel concerning the Stargate, the Goa’uld, and the clues they’d gleaned from studying Earth’s own ancient cultures.  Arriving in a small room dominated by a large window overlooking the alien device, the boy stood at the glass, behind a pair of men who were fiddling with computer controls.  A small man sitting in the right hand chair did not bother to glance up.

“SG-5 has just embarked, Dr. Jackson.  Next contact in 24 hours.”

“Thanks, sergeant,” Jackson muttered.  “Anyone due back?”

“No, sir, barring emergencies, the next team due back is SG-8 tomorrow at 11:00.”

Sir?  That was interesting.  An unconscious acknowledgement of Jackson as something more than a tolerated civilian?  Some respect?

“I’m sorry, Dr. Kendrick,” Jackson did not take his eyes off of the Stargate as he spoke, his tone not at all apologetic, in fact, Kendrick thought he detected a sense of satisfaction, “if we’d been a few minutes earlier you could have seen the opening of the wormhole.  I usually try to time my tours for new personnel a little better.”

Kendrick could hear the edge to the man’s voice, the slight emphasis on the words new personnel.  Putting me in my place?  The thrill of the game widened Kendrick’s smile.  He put his left arm across Jackson’s shoulders, brushing his fingers along the back of the young man’s neck as he did so, enjoying the immediate stiffening of his posture.  Grasping Jackson’s shoulder firmly in a fatherly way, and pulling him close, Kendrick chuckled, “Don’t worry, my boy, I’m far more interested in the research General Hammond has requested my help with than in flashing lights and alien gizmos.  I’m sure I’ll see it eventually.”  He dropped his arm before the young man could twitch out from under it.  “Now, where is this office of yours?”

 

Misunderstanding

“…so just when I think I’ve got him figured out, the little snot goes all distant and snooty and …”  Jack had been pacing around Carter’s lab, alternately watching her fiddle with the new gadget the SG-3 marines had retrieved from their latest off-world junket and annoying her by shuffling the various reports strewn over her workspace all the while venting about the ingratitude of one stubborn archaeologist when the sound of her indrawn breath followed by the solid thunk of the gadget hitting the metal counter interrupted him.

“You did what?”

“Carter?”  He turned and was confronted by the second ice-cold blue stare he’d been on the receiving end of that morning.  What the heck was going on with his team?  Had someone dropped him into one of those ridiculous alternate realities when he wasn’t looking?

“Sir, tell me you didn’t just hire an archaeologist to replace Daniel?”  She practically spit the words out at her commanding officer.

“No!  Of course not.  That’s the point, Carter; Daniel needs to be in the field with SG-1, not bogged down with all this translation and negotiation stuff.”  His eyes seemed to be equating Daniel’s ‘stuff’ with the various experiments Sam was working on herself.  “The other teams are driving him crazy with requests for help – he’s been clamoring for more staff for months now, I just made sure General Hammond gave him what he asked for.”

Samantha Carter closed her eyes and bit back the response that would have earned an insubordination charge from any other CO.  Could Col. O’Neill really have no idea what he had done?  Recalling some of the cement-headed idiots she’d had to deal with up and down the chain of command during her research in Washington, she let out a heavy sigh.  The military and the scientist – sometimes she thought the communication gap between the two was wider and deeper than the one between men and women.  If men were from Mars and women were from Venus, then the military mindset originated somewhere in the neighborhood of Pluto, a nice, dense planetoid, while scientists and academics were flying their ship closer and closer to the sun with no thought for their own survival.  Thank God her own military upbringing had taught her enough to survive in both worlds, and the fact that her father was a General didn’t exactly hurt, either.

“Sir – what did Daniel ‘clamor’ for, precisely?”

“I told you, Carter, he kept yammering about how there weren’t enough hours in the day to devote enough time to all of the crap that kept coming across his desk.  You’ve heard him yourself, and seen him barely pass the pre-mission medical exam more than once because of exhaustion.”  Jack rubbed one hand across the back of his neck.  He had not expected this, any of this, today.  The hostility from Daniel, the antagonism he felt coming from Carter.  Hey, this was supposed to fix the problem, make everybody happy.  Yeah, that was going well.

Sam shook her head.  “No, sir.  I’ve heard him describe some of the amazing finds his staff was working on, and how he wished the military would devote more resources to investigating particularly significant planets – culturally significant, sir,” she clarified when she noticed O’Neill’s eyebrows crawling upwards.  “He’s also spoken to me about the responsibility he feels to General Hammond and the Air Force to process every request to his staff, and the frustration he suffers when he doesn’t think they are asking the right questions.  Do you see the difference, sir?”

“Difference?  There is no difference, Carter; Daniel seems to think the whole SGC will fall down around our ears if he doesn’t personally investigate every rock under every tree from every off-world mission.”  Jack remembered the way Daniel had barely stopped himself from admitting that he thought he was the smartest guy on the base.

Sam’s eyes opened wide in disbelief as she sank back onto her stool.  Rubbing her hands along her thighs she attempted to carefully rein in her tumbling thoughts, but her mouth opened before the job was done.  “I see.  So Daniel is too proud, too egotistical, to see his own limitations, so you and General Hammond felt the only way to fix the problem was to blindside him.”  She couldn’t help it.  She didn’t make any effort to cover the sarcasm, maybe it would finally get through to him.  “Yes.  Those are the first two words I’d definitely use to describe Daniel, sir, ‘proud’ and ‘egotistical.’  Why don’t you throw in arrogant and conceited as well?”  She noted the confusion and annoyance that battled across Jack’s features, hoping that she hadn’t just dynamited his faith in her – and her career.

Jack checked his automated military response and snapped his mouth closed over a scathing retort.  Settling both elbows on Carter’s workbench, he leaned forward, dark gaze locked onto hers and pinning her to her seat.  “Okay, Major, maybe you should explain it to me.  Use small words,” he sneered, “you know how confused I get when you scientist types open your mouths.”

“Sir – ” She nearly choked on the irony of the colonel’s last statement.  “You know Daniel better than anyone else on this base.  Can you honestly say that he thinks so highly of himself that he wouldn’t trust the work of anyone on his staff, a staff that he put together?  That doesn’t sound like the Daniel I know, sir.”  Watching the words sink in past Jack’s irritation, she hurried on.  “What usually gets Daniel into trouble is that he doesn’t think about himself – his safety or his worth – and he is too anxious to sacrifice himself rather than see someone else hurt.  All I’m saying, Colonel,” she put both hands on the workbench and met her CO’s stare with one of her own, “is that maybe you misunderstood.”

Snapping back upright, Jack turned to continue his irritated pacing.  “Okay, maybe I did and maybe I didn’t, Carter,” his brain was doing those annoying flips and twists that could only be induced by the prattling of one of his ‘wonder twins,’ “but Kendrick has the background and reputation to really help out around here.  Lots of letters after his name, status in the political and academic communities, his contributions just on this planet are fairly spectacular already.  If Daniel is as self-less as you describe him, shouldn’t he be happy that Kendrick has signed onto the program?”  He stopped and leaned back against a table, crossing his arms over his chest.  “And doesn’t that make the attitude Mr. Self-Sacrifice was giving me downstairs sound a lot like jealousy?”

Carter also stood and picked up tool that had rolled to the edge of the table.  “I don’t know, sir,” she replied, quiet but determined.  “But if you ever decide that I need ‘help’ in the lab, I hope you’ll discuss it with me before you and General Hammond interview Stephen Hawking for the position.”

“I did discuss it with Daniel, Major,” Jack’s irritation was back, rewinding the last conversation the two had in the archaeologist’s lab.  Hadn’t Daniel asked for his help?  Wasn’t that part of Jack’s job, to make sure his team had everything they needed?

“Did you, sir?  Because it seems to me as if you dismissed him and sent him home as if he was a little boy who’d broken a neighbor’s window and now his father had to clean it up.”


Jack’s hard eyes narrowed menacingly.  “Pushing it, Major,” he growled.

“Yes, sir.  Sorry, sir.”  Knowing that her point was made, Sam was eager to step back from the edge of this particular cliff with her CO.  This was one issue that Jack and Daniel had to work out between themselves.  As long as Daniel allowed the colonel to treat him like an eager, clumsy puppy – someone who needed protecting – rather than a strong team asset, the tension would only grow.  But before he could convince Jack, Daniel had to actually believe it was true himself.

Part 2

 

 

 

 

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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.