Slash: Story portraying the strong friendship between Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson
Rating: G
Category: Gen, OC POV
Season/Spoilers: None
Synopsis: SG-1 from a newbie Airman's POV.
Warnings: None
Length: 40 Kb


This is it!

For the past two months every morning has started out the same. I prepare myself physically and mentally for whatever the day might bring, then I eat my breakfast and double check my work assignment with Sergeant Ramsey.

Working for the top secret Stargate Program inside Cheyenne Mountain has been the culmination of a lifetime dream and a whole lot of hard work. I’d never imagined I’d get clearance to work in such an important facility and once I got wind of it, it became my all-consuming dream.

I constantly remind myself of that fact so I never take an assignment for granted, no matter how big or how small. I’m finally approved for off world missions and have passed every training drill and psychological exam the Air Force has thrown at me. All that’s left now is to wait for a spot to open up on an honest to goodness SG Team. Striving to be patient, I’ve tried to push the thought from my mind, not wanting to gain from another’s misfortune.

I’m twenty-five years old. I’ve been in the Air Force for five years and I have the most exciting job in the world, well, in the galaxy really. I can afford to be patient now. At least that’s what I tell myself when the excitement overwhelms me... like today.

I spent my first six weeks here guarding the gate. No, not the Stargate... the entrance gate to the complex. Basically, I’ve been guarding the parking lot. I’m not complaining, mind you. Checking the cars in and out has afforded me the opportunity to meet and greet all of the base personnel. The SG teams, the scientists, the medical staff, and even the high-ranking officers, including General Hammond, all had to get by me first. I took the opportunity to memorize their names, ranks and faces as they drove through. I’m sure none of them know mine. Most of them just shoved their ID’s at me and grunted at my enthusiasm, no doubt thinking, ‘Damn new guy’.

For the record, my name is Andrew Lee Lockner. My parents, relatives and close personal friends back home call me Andy. My military buddies and the few friends I’ve made at the SGC call me Lockner. My superior officers, when they have cause to speak to me at all, call me Airman. I’m the only one who refers to myself as Andrew.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been assigned to Captain Seitzer’s squad. When the klaxon warns of an unscheduled off world activation, it’s my job to race to the gateroom and point my M-16 at the wormhole. It’s only happened once and the adrenaline was enough to make my knees go weak and my heart to pound painfully in my chest. The worst part was that it turned out to be a drill ordered by Captain Seitzer to help ‘condition’ me for the real thing. The guys refer to themselves as Pavlov’s Squad. The bell rings, our eyes widen, our hearts pound and we sweat clean through our fatigues. You get the idea. Our CO stresses readiness, never be complacent, no matter how many times the gate cries wolf.

They’re a great group of guys and I was shocked at how easily they accepted me... well, aside from the usual ‘prank the newbie’ stuff. For most of them, this is their permanent assignment, but it’s not mine. There’s nothing wrong with serving in Pavlov’s squad, it’s honorable and necessary, it’s just that there’s a lot of down time and I have so many other dreams.

To my surprise, Captain Seitzer pulled me aside at breakfast this morning and ordered me to the infirmary. My first reaction was to assure him I was feeling fine. He put his hand on my shoulder, tried to hide his smile and said, “Pre mission physical, son.”

His smile escaped when I gaped at him with my mouth open before managing a ‘yes, sir’. I felt like an ass when my eyes actually teared up. That’s how I ended up here in the restroom.

“Get it together, Airman,” I order the man staring back at me in the mirror. This is it. This is really it.

I’m not normally this emotional. It’s just that... did you ever want something so bad, for so long, that the thought of getting it is suddenly terrifying? Going off world, facing danger, doing my job, that doesn’t scare me. The terrifying part is wondering if the wanting is going to end up being better than the having. I hope not. Today, I’m finally going to find out.

I’ve been though the Stargate before, for the experience of it, for training missions and for a quick tour of the Beta site. I’ve never been through the ‘gate as a full-fledged SG team member. Splashing water on my face and then toweling it dry calms me down a bit. It’s not every day a dream becomes a reality.

Three teams are going off world today. My current assignment demands my constant awareness of those facts and times. The truth is I always check the scheduled departures and arrivals. I also know the names, ranks and rumored personalities of every single SG team. All newbies do, especially newbies with off world clearance. Ever wonder what newbies talk about? We spend endless off duty hours discussing our favorite team leaders, team members and our favorite missions. Not that we’re privy to mission reports, but the rumor mill runs just fine within the confines of the mountain and even the unclassified mission details are so damn interesting. Most of us can’t get enough of the tidbits of information that filter down from our favorite teams and missions.

Mostly we spend our time discussing our ‘dream’ assignment. Our personal ‘dream team’, as it were. Usually, we name our favorite team and keep them intact, but since we’re dreaming, sometimes we’ll switch the team members around, picking out our favorite team leader, favorite scientist, etc.

For the last three weeks my dream team has been SG-12, and SG-12 is one of the three teams preparing to go off world today.

Major Scott McKinley commands SG-12. In my opinion, he’s the perfect leader and consummate professional. He commands respect, but he’s soft spoken and fair minded. Plus, and this is important, it’s a well-known fact Major McKinley is one of the few team leaders that has a soft spot for civilians and newbies.

Captain Maxwell Avery is SG 12’s 2IC. Captain Avery is easy to talk to and known around the base for his up beat manner and his off beat sense of humor. Sergeant Malcolm Woods and their civilian archaeologist, Emma Crawford round out the team. The archaeologist is in her early forties and has a sharp mind and an easy manner. Besides all this, I’m friends with Sergeant Woods. We’ve actually eaten lunch together. He loves his team and his CO and I always find myself listening to his stories and longing for a taste of the camaraderie he and his team share. Of course, if it is SG-12 it’ll mean one of the team members isn’t going. I suddenly feel a twinge of guilt and hope my favorite team is okay.

SG-7 would be fine too. Not my dream team, but certainly a fine team just the same. I’m not as familiar with SG-7 personally, but I know their names and have heard nothing but good things about them.

The last team going out is SG-1. A shiver runs down my spine at the thought. No need to worry. They would never send me, Andrew NEWBIE Lockner out with the premiere team of the SGC. Besides, everyone on base is aware of SG-1’s fabled missions and propensity for injuries, and as far as I know, the members of the SGC’s flagship team are in perfect health... I hope.

SG-1... palms sweat and mouths go dry, the name strikes fear into the hearts of newbies everywhere.

The alien, Teal’c, the former First Prime of Apophis, is a member of SG-1. I have no prejudices against aliens, well, none that I’m aware of, and I constantly remind myself Teal’c and I are comrades in arms, fighting on the same side against a sworn enemy. But no matter what I tell myself, Teal’c makes me nervous. He doesn’t smile much, and as far as I know, he rarely speaks. I’m not sure if this is characteristic of all Jaffa or if it’s just Teal’c. Either way, the man is intimidating.

Then there’s Major Samantha Carter. Major Carter is the country’s leading astro physicist and expert on wormhole physics. Scratch that. Not in the country, in the world, the world’s leading physicist and wormhole expert. She’s also a Major, and a Doctor, and beautiful and brilliant to boot. Talk about intimidating. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to string a coherent sentence together in her presence.

Dr. Daniel Jackson is the civilian archaeologist assigned to SG-1. Yes, THE Dr. Daniel Jackson, the man who heads the entire Archaeology/Linguist Department of the SGC. The same Dr. Jackson who negotiates Earth’s treaties with friends and foes alike. The man who opened the Stargate...THAT Dr. Daniel Jackson. And don’t forget, the man I bumped into in the commissary a few weeks ago, causing him to spill hot coffee all over himself. Dr. Jackson was annoyed at first but handled the situation gracefully as I ducked my head and stammered out an apology.

Any one of these factors would be enough to explain why SG-1 is at the very bottom of every newbie’s wish list, but the number one reason makes the rest pale in comparison. As if Teal’c, Major Carter, and Doctor Jackson aren’t reason enough to be intimidated, the Team Leader of SG-1 also happens to be the 2IC of the entire SGC facility, Colonel Jonathan O’Neill.

Not only is Colonel O’Neill the larger than life, living legend of the SGC, but it’s also rumored he eats newbies for lunch. Personally, I’m in awe of the colonel and his incredible list of accomplishments, including saving the entire planet... more than once. I know everything there is to know about the colonel that isn’t classified because, well, sappy as it sounds... he’s my hero. And because of my wealth of knowledge, I also know it’s best to steer clear of the man whenever possible. That’s pretty much a given, a newbie creed; no newbie ever wants to bear the brunt of the colonel’s biting sarcasm. I’ve never had any direct conversation with any of SG-1, aside from the coffee mishap, and it would be fine with me to keep it that way.

I’m still thinking of the team possibilities as I put on my game face and enter the infirmary and come to a sudden stop just inside the doors. Shit... SG-1. Colonel O’Neill, Major Carter, Teal’c, and Dr. Jackson are standing around, apparently finished with their pre mission physicals. Maybe I’m not going out with them, maybe they’re just finishing up their physicals, maybe...

“Good luck on straightening that out, T. We’ll miss ya.” The rest of SG-1 add their goodbyes to the colonel’s. It sounds like Teal’c is going to the Beta site to mediate some dispute. I’m replacing Teal’c? That doesn’t even sound right to me.

Dr. Fraiser spots me first. “Can I help you, Airman?”

I try to fight off the warm heat creeping up my face as all of SG-1 turn in unison to stare at me. Damn it, I’m not a kid. I'd be fine if this wasn’t the infamous, the renowned SG-1, the ultimate Stargate team. I finally decide to buck up and fix my gaze on the ranking officer. “Airman Andrew Lockner reporting for duty, Sir.”

“Ah,” is the Colonel’s only response.

Teal’c’s facial expression remains unchanged. I try not to take the lack of a greeting as an insult; as far as I know, Teal’c’s facial expressions never change.

Major Carter says, “Airman”, while Dr. Jackson gives me a vague smile and a slight nod before both of them turn their attention back to the ‘soon to be departing’ Teal’c.

Colonel O’Neill looks me over curiously. “Lochness? Like the monster?”

“Lockner, Sir.”

“Not the monster?” The colonel sounds disappointed.

“Jack,” Dr. Jackson intervenes. Dr. Jackson calls Colonel O’Neill ‘Jack’?

The Colonel doesn’t hesitate and answers, “Daniel.” Dr. Jackson shakes his head slightly and turns away.

I’m not sure what to say or do so I just stand there like an idiot, a tongue-tied idiot.

The colonel’s restless brown eyes are on me again. “Get yourself checked out and then gear up, Lockwood. We leave in thirty.”

“Lockner.” Dr. Jackson corrects, sounding a bit irritated. Unless... unless he’s actually speaking to me.

“Yes, Sir?” I respond. I don’t want to take the chance of annoying the Head of the Archaeology Department by ignoring him.

“No,” Dr. Jackson says, struggling to be patient. “I was telling Jack that your name is Lockner. And, I’m not a ‘sir’.

“Yes, sir... er, Dr. Jackson.” Is it possible for me to get any stupider?

“I didn’t call him ‘Lochness’.” The colonel looks confused as he complains to Dr. Jackson.

“No, you called him, ‘Lockwood’.”

“And that’s wrong?”

“Lockner, Jack. The man’s name is Lockner.”

Excuse me, the man in question is standing right here and feeling like an unsuspecting victim of the Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

“Ah. Why aren’t there any Airmen named Smith or Johnson hanging around here?” the Colonel asks.

“I don’t know,” Dr. Jackson mumbles in reply.

Dr. Fraiser comes to my rescue and ushers me to a bed at the far end of the room and thankfully draws the curtain for a little privacy. With all the physicals given around here I’m confident of my good health, although meeting SG-1 may be causing my blood pressure to be slightly elevated and my heart is definitely beating a little faster.

Though I’m out of sight, I can still clearly hear Colonel O’Neill’s booming voice.

“Carter’s got a nice, concise, easy name. I never mess it up. ‘Carter’,” he snaps off in a manner obviously familiar. “And you, Jackson, you can’t get much more basic than that.” He sighs loudly. “A Smith or Johnson would make life simpler.”

“Sure, Jack.” I can hear the exasperation in Dr. Jackson’s voice as he mutters his agreement.

The colonel’s not finished. “Or a Wilson. What’s wrong with a Wilson? It’s a nice, common, easy name. Do we have a Wilson, T?”

“I believe the maintenance gentleman that cleans our work area is named Wilson, O’Neill.”

“Well, there ya go...Wilson, the maintenance guy. Does anyone know if he has clearance?”

They say their goodbyes to Teal’c as I sit as still as possible with the BP cuff around my arm, hoping not to attract any unwanted attention.

“Be in the Gateroom in twenty, Lockhart!” the colonel bellows at me through the drawn drapes.

“Yes, Sir,” I stammer, a little bewildered and a lot overwhelmed.

Dr. Fraiser pats my arm and gives me a sympathetic smile. “Don’t worry, Airman, his bark is a lot worse than his bite.”

By the time Dr. Fraiser finishes up my physical I have exactly nine minutes to get to the Gateroom. It takes me six minutes to get to my locker and then check out my weapon. I usually do that right after breakfast but I was a little preoccupied today.

I make the armory in less than three minutes. “Come on, Billings, hurry it up!” Billings is a newbie like me. He’s been checking weapons in and out for about three months now.

“I’m getting’ it,” he complains. “What’s the rush?”

“I’m going off world in... SHIT! Two minutes.”

“Well, why the hell didn’t ya say so?” He shoves my weapon toward me along with a healthy supply of ammo as I scribble my name on the appropriate lines.

“With who?” Billings yells after me as I’m already hurrying down the hall.

I turn around. “SG-1.”

He waves me off, makes the sign of the cross, looks heavenward and yells, “Good luck!”

It’s exactly 09:03 when I step into the Gateroom. The Colonel is already there, talking with Major Carter when he spots me.

“Ah, Lockhurst, glad you could join us.”

My faces reddens slightly at the thought of being late for my very first off world mission. I’m comforted by the thought that at least the Colonel knows I was in the infirmary and not slacking off somewhere. Not that he seems all that concerned.

“Now if we could just convince Dr. Jackson to get his skinny little butt down here we’d be all set. Carter?”

“He said he needed a few more books, Sir.”

“Of course he does,” the colonel says agreeably.

He turns his attention back to me. “Were you briefed?”

“No, sir.” When the hell would I have been briefed?

He nods. “P2X-3...”

“307, Sir.” Before he even looks at Major Carter she supplies the last three numbers of the designation.

“Right. I was going to say that,” the colonel assures me.

To my complete embarrassment Colonel O’Neill, the second in command of the entire SGC, begins fiddling with my web gear. In my haste to be on time, a few of the straps became entangled and I didn’t want to stop to straighten them out.

“Everything in its proper place,” the colonel says absently as he begins making the necessary adjustments.

“This planet, 307 has an ancient stone wall covered with some squiggly lines and little, tiny pictures on it for Daniel to play with,” he explains while pulling the shoulder harness up a notch to tighten it.

I feel like a raw recruit on the first day of basic. The colonel doesn’t seem to notice as he keeps picking at my gear. “And there are trace amounts of Naquada in the initial soil samples to entertain Major Carter.” I see the Major holding back a smile as the colonel pulls and tugs at me while my blush deepens.

The Colonel finishes ‘fixing’ me and smacks my pack to signal he’s done. “Do you know what that leaves for us to do, Lockbury?”

I pause, unsure if he expects an answer. “Sir?”

“We get to watch them... for three days. You and me, kid. We make sure they’re safe and happy, well rested and well fed. I assess, you guard and protect.”

“Yes, Sir.” It’s not exactly saving the world stuff, but it is my first mission.

I’m relieved when Dr. Jackson wanders into the Gateroom. Besides his full pack he’s also carrying a duffle bag full of supplies, possibly the books Major Carter was talking about, and a video camera.

Colonel O’Neill taps his watch and holds it up to his ear. The colonel opens his mouth to speak but before he gets any words out Dr. Jackson interrupts him.

“Don’t say a word, Jack. The battery on the video camera was dead. I changed it and went down to Supply to pick up a back up.”

The colonel smiles good-naturedly at Dr. Jackson. “And you couldn’t have checked the battery before the moment we were set to embark on this glorious mission or even... God forbid, yesterday?”

“SG-1, you have a go.” It’s General Hammond up in the control room. This is really it. My only thought is that I hope General Hammond didn’t see Colonel O'Neill straightening out my gear.

“It worked fine yesterday,” Dr. Jackson complains to the Colonel as the ‘gate powers up.

“You know you can test those batteries, Daniel.”

Chevron one encoded.

“Everyone’s not as anal as you, Jack.”

Chevron two encoded.

“Anal? I am not anal.” The colonel looks insulted.

Chevron three encoded.

“Carter, do you think I’m anal?”

Chevron four encoded.

The Major frowns. “Well, sir, you do like to double check everything three times.”

Chevron five encoded.

“And that’s anal? Lockaby, what do you think?”

Chevron six encoded.

I’m looking at the Stargate pleading with it to hurry up. “I-I don’t know, sir.” That’s all my muddled brain can come up with for an answer. The colonel may or may not be anal, but I’m a newbie with a capital N and I’m not dumb enough to voice an opinion on the subject.

Chevron seven locked. Saved by the ‘gate. My first mission as a team member, a team member of the legendary SG-1 no less. I want to remember this.

“Prepared. That’s what I am, prepared.” I hear the Colonel mumbling behind me as I step through the shimmering pool of energy.

The energy readings and initial soil samples were taken about a half of a mile from the Stargate while Dr. Jackson’s wall is approximately four miles away. After the four of us thoroughly check out both locations, the colonel decides to accompany Major Carter so he can keep an eye on the Stargate and orders me to guard Dr. Jackson at the wall.

He whispers some advice just before we part company. “If he won’t eat or take a break, guilt works wonders.”

“Sir?” I have no idea what that means.

“Dr. Jackson.” The Colonel practically whispers the name. He must be able to tell from the look on my face that I’m still completely in the dark as to his meaning.

“Tell him you want to do your job. You’re new and you want to be able to report that everything is going smoothly.” The colonel pats me on the back, wishes me luck, and sets off toward the ‘gate with Major Carter.

By mid afternoon I finally decide to follow my CO’s advice and get tricky with the hard working Dr. Jackson. Twice I’ve suggested a lunch break and both times he smiled reassuringly at me while answering, “Not hungry.”

“Uh, excuse me, sir?”

“Daniel. Please call me Daniel,” he says for probably the fifth or sixth time. It’s so hard to call a legend you’ve respected and read about in training classes by his first name. It would be like me calling the Colonel, Jack, or the General, George. But he’s a civilian and I’m trying to be accommodating, so I take a deep breath, feeling like an idiot.

“Yes, Daniel. Do you think we could take a lunch break?” I can feel my face blushing at my deception. “The Colonel told me to make sure you ate and I have to call in a report in about a half hour.”

A big smile covers Daniel’s face. “You don’t have to worry about that, Airman. He knows me, he won’t blame you.” He seems to be thinking things over. “Well, maybe I am a little hungry.”

“Why don’t you join me?” He pulls himself up and grabs his backpack.

I’m amazed that the colonel’s advice actually worked. I haven’t had lunch yet so I decide to take him up on the offer.

“What’s your name?” Dr. Jackson asks as we both dig into our always-scrumptious MRE’s. At first, I think he’s kidding, though I suppose he might have forgotten it after the colonel butchered it so many times.

“Lockner, sir… er, Daniel.”

He gives me an easy smile. “I meant your given name. What do your friends call you?”

I have no idea if this is wise or even allowed. I’m certainly not going to tell him to call me Andy. “Andrew,” I decide on. He nods and keeps eating. After he’s done, he shows me some of the translations he’s working on.

I find them completely fascinating, which seems to encourage him. “Thanks, Daniel.”

He smiles once he sees I’m sincere in my thanks and says, “You’re welcome” as he turns his attention to the wall, ready to get back to work. “Now you can report to Jack that I’ve eaten lunch and drank some water like a good, cooperative, little archaeologist.”

I can’t help but smile at his sarcasm. I key up the radio and enthusiastically call in my report.

The rest of the day runs just as smoothly and by nightfall I have to keep pinching myself as a reminder that I’m on a planet millions of miles from home sitting around a campfire with the infamous SG-1.

“So, Andrew, how long have you worked at the SGC?” Dr. Jackson, er... Daniel, he wants me to call him Daniel, now addresses me as Andrew. Wow! The guys back home are never going to believe this!

“Just a couple of months, Daniel.” I’m trying not to blush at the familiarity in front of my superior officers. I’m relieved neither of them flinch or seem the least bit surprised by my use of Dr. Jackson’s given name.

“What were your duties?” He’s absently rummaging through one of his packs as he asks the question.

“I worked the outside gate for a while. My assignment for the past three weeks has been Gateroom security.”

“Really?” he asks, sounding truly interested. “Which did you like better?” I’m getting a tad uncomfortable being the focus of attention, but I don’t want to be rude.

“Well, Gateroom security is definitely more exciting.”

Oops, wrong answer. That seems to strike a nerve with my CO. “Yeah, about that,” the Colonel interrupts, the edge in his voice immediately garnering my full attention.

“Yes, sir?”

“I have a question. When you all go rushing in there with guns blazing and then say... moi, comes through the gate, why do you keep your weapons raised on me even after you’ve seen that it’s... ME?”

“We’re trained to keep our weapons raised until ordered to stand down, sir.”

The Colonel’s not satisfied. “But you can see that it’s... ME.”

“Those are the orders, sir.”

“Hoping for a chance to shoot me?”

“No, sir,” I exclaim, trying to decide if this is a serious inquiry.

“What if I ordered you to stand down, would you obey?”

“Yes, sir,” I answer a little more slowly, uncertain where his train of thought is going.

“But I’m the one coming through the ‘gate. Ya see, that makes no sense at all. Are ya following me here, Lockson?”

Following the colonel is not an easy task, I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. I can’t even decide if that warrants a ‘yes sir’ or a ‘no sir’ when Dr. Jackson comes to my rescue.


“Problem, Daniel?” I’m relieved the colonel is momentarily distracted from ‘gateroom security protocols.

Dr. Jackson has just finished rifling through his pack back. “Yes. Damn, I forgot my Columbian blend.” His voice trails off.

“Would that be the same Columbian blend you gave each of us a pound to try?”

“Yes. I was really looking forward to some tonight.”

“I have mine.” The colonel pulls a bag of coffee secured in a plastic container out of his pack and waves it in front of Dr. Jackson’s face. I swear none of my fellow newbies are going to believe me when I tell them what actually goes on out here.

“And, are you going to share?” Dr. Jackson stares at the colonel with an impatient glare.

The colonel ignores the question. “Do you know WHY I have mine, Daniel?”

“Um, because you remembered yours and I forgot mine?” Both of Dr. Jackson’s eyebrows rise above his glasses.

“Because I’m PREPARED, Daniel. Not anal, PREPARED!” The Colonel is obviously enjoying himself. “Carter...” he wags the coffee still in the original bag, “I didn’t have it the first time, but when I DOUBLE CHECKED, I went back and retrieved it.”

“That’s prepared, Sir.” The Major smiles and nods her agreement.

The Colonel turns his attention back to Dr. Jackson. The doctor raises his index finger to his lips, “Actually, Jack...”

“Ack,” the colonel raises his own finger. “Smell the contents before you finish that thought.” He unfolds the shiny bag and holds the grounds under Dr. Jackson’s nose. Dr. Jackson takes two deep sniffs before the colonel abruptly pulls the bag away. “Okay, now what were you saying?”

“I was saying ‘prepared’, Jack. You’re always so... prepared,” Dr. Jackson says sweetly.

Wearing a smug smile, the colonel pours the coffee into the filter Dr. Jackson quickly provides for him.

“Extremely prepared,” Dr. Jackson reiterates.

“Intense, even. Intensely prepared, Sir,” Major Carter comments as the colonel happily pours out the measurement by sight.

“Painful,” Dr. Jackson adds. “Painfully prepared...”

The Colonel looks up. “Hey, don’t push it,” he orders sharply.

The dream has turned into a nightmare. I’m only half asleep and struggling to wake up. Something or someone has a firm grip on me and won’t let go. A strong hand grabs at my wrist just as I attempt to swing my fist around to break free from whatever has me restrained. It’s not a dream and I start thrashing wildly, now fully awake, but held firmly in place.

“Shh, Lockner.” One hand is suddenly so tight over my mouth I’m having trouble getting air and my struggle weakens.

“Lockner!” The authoritative, harsh whisper snaps me to full alert as I realize It’s Colonel O’Neill. He checks to be sure I’m coherent before slowly removing his hand from my mouth. I involuntarily suck in a huge gasp of air.

He doesn’t waste any time. “Six Jaffa just came through the ‘gate.” His hand is still on my chest and I’m sure he can feel my heart hammering. I can tell from his eyes this is not some training drill he’s decided to put me through. This is the real thing. I’m ashamed at my reaction... I’m absolutely terrified.

The colonel’s talking to me but I’m having a hard time focusing in on what he’s saying. What the hell is wrong with me? I try harder to pay attention.

“I want you to position yourself in the brush over there about fifty meters from the ‘gate.” He points out where he wants me. “Carter will be opposite your position. Daniel and I are going to try to get a little closer and catch the address of where they’re going if they dial out.”

Wait a minute. I don’t like this plan at all. I’m supposed to crawl fifty meters through the underbrush and then lay hidden in the bush by myself? It’s my first mission and I suddenly understand with clarity that ‘giving one’s life for one’s country’ is not as easy and as heroic as it sounds. It’s scary as all hell. What if the Jaffa catch me? I have a secret fear of being made into a host. I can feel myself trembling. I really want to stay with Colonel O’Neill.

“Lockner, look at me.” The Colonel places a hand on my shoulder and squeezes, jolting me out of my doomed thoughts. When we make eye contact he continues. “Don’t think. Trust your training. Carter is on the other side of the ‘gate. Daniel and I will be about twenty feet directly behind the DHD. You’re not alone. We’re a team. Do your job.”

I swallow down my fear. “Yes, sir.” I’m shocked at the confidence resounding in my hushed voice.

“Good.” He nods his whispered approval. “Get in position, stay quiet and for god’s sake don’t fire your weapon unless one of us fires first.” He maintains eye contact to be sure I understand. And miraculously, I do.

“Yes, sir.” He gives my shoulder a final squeeze and disappears into the night. I take my CO’s advice and clear my mind. Acting purely on instinct and adrenaline I silently crawl to what I perceive to be the position that would best mirror Major Carter’s, next I take the safety off of my M-16 and point it at the four, real live Jaffa milling around the ‘gate and anxiously wait.

It’s almost dawn when the two missing Jaffa come into view from the direction of Dr. Jackson’s wall and one of them starts dialing up the ‘gate. Try as I might I can’t spot Colonel O’Neill or Dr. Jackson in the trees behind the DHD. The ‘gate swooshes to life and the Jaffa leave as peacefully as they came. I decide to hold my position until ordered otherwise.

The first hint of daylight is breaking across the morning sky when Colonel O’Neill, Major Carter and Dr. Jackson stand up and converge on the Stargate.

“Lockner!” the Colonel yells, sounding a little concerned.

I jump up immediately and join them.

“Did you get it, Daniel?” Major Carter asks with concern.

Dr. Jackson looks annoyed. “Only a partial, one of them was blocking my view.”

She nods. “Well, we’ll see what we get from the symbols you did catch. What do you think they wanted, sir?”

“Who knows what they wanted. Daniel and I are going to go back to the wall and see if they went that far. You and Lockner gather up the gear, then take cover in the trees and keep an eye on the ‘gate, just in case. As soon as Daniel and I get back, we’re out of here.”

“Yes, sir.” Major Carter answers for both of us and then glances back at me as we walk back to the campsite to pack up. “You okay, Airman?”

My face flushes red. No, I’m not okay. I’m a failure. I was so sure I could do this job. I’ve run through hundreds of scenarios in my mind and in none of them did I react like I did today. Out here when it was real, when it counted, I shook like a leaf and was scared to death. That’s what I can’t believe. How damn scared I was.

“Lockner,” the major says as we pack up the gear. “You did fine today.” I stare dumbly into the trees, wondering if she can read my mind.

“Yes, ma’am,” I mumble in reply. She doesn’t know. She wasn’t there. The Colonel knows; he saw my fear, my paralysis. Hell, I’m sure he felt me trembling when he put his hand on my shoulder and he must have felt my heart pounding out of my chest with fright. This is the worst day of my life. I’ve never felt so humiliated. I wonder if they’ll reassign me within the SGC or if they’ll get rid of me altogether.

We get everything packed in record time and wait in the cover of the trees in silence. An hour later the Colonel and Dr. Jackson return.

“Well, as far as we can tell they weren’t at the wall.” Dr. Jackson informs us.

“Maybe they took some soil samples like we did,” the major theorizes.

“In the middle of the night?” The colonel bellows his disagreement. “Speaking of soil samples, did you get everything you need, Carter?”

“Give me fifteen minutes, sir.”

“Go.” The colonel says rolling his eyes.

“You all right, Andrew?” It’s Dr. Jackson. I jump at the sound of his voice so close to my ear. Somehow he managed to sneak up behind me. I guess it wasn’t too difficult considering what kind of soldier I’m turning out to be.

“Fine, sir,” I say to the ground.

“It’s pretty amazing seeing the enemy up close for the first time, isn’t it?” His voice is soft and he doesn’t bother to remind me to call him Daniel.

“Yes, sir.” I wish he’d shut up and quit trying to be so damn understanding. It’s embarrassing in front of the colonel, who’s military and knows what a coward I am. Dr. Jackson is a veteran of hundreds of missions but he is still a civilian. I’m a trained soldier. Dr. Jackson placed himself within ten feet of the enemy in an attempt to read a ‘gate address while I cowered in the bushes trying not to pee my pants. That I was successful in staying dry is the only redeeming part of my first, and most likely last, mission.

“It’s a little nerve wracking,” the Colonel agrees.

Major Carter returns as promised and a few seconds later we’re materializing in the Gateroom. I try to slink out of there but the Colonel spots me.

“Lockley, infirmary.” Oops. Forgot about that. All I want to do is to go home. And I don’t mean back to my small, Colorado Springs apartment, I mean home, where my parents live and my little brothers think I’m some sort of hero, no matter how much I screw up, and no one has ever heard of the Stargate, or the Jaffa or SG-1.

The post mission physical is over fairly quickly since we’re all fine. The three of them talk amongst themselves about what the Jaffa could have possibly been up to on P2X-307. I’m staying as quiet as possible, wishing I could disappear into the scenery, hoping they’ll forget I’m here.

As soon as Dr. Warner gives me the okay I jump off the table and make a run for the nearest exit. I’m almost to the door before my CO’s unmistakable voice stops me cold. The man must have eyes in the back of his head.

“Lockster... debriefing.”

“Yes, sir.” Why the hell they would need or want me at the debriefing is beyond me. My heart starts pounding, wondering if the Colonel is going to tell General Hammond, in front of everyone, that I’m not fit to go off world.

We take our seats and SG-1, the real SG-1, gives the General their reports and theories on the presence of the Jaffa. I watch the clock on the wall and try to visualize what I’ll be doing next week.

“So, how was your first mission, son?”

We’ve been in here for almost an hour and I’m wondering how long these things usually last.

“Lockland!” I jump to attention at the colonel’s voice.

Dr. Jackson is sitting to my left and he nudges my arm. “The General asked how your first mission went.”

Crap, I wasn’t paying attention. I have no idea if they discussed anything about my bumbling part in the mission. I look at Colonel O’Neill, but I can’t tell from his expression what he expects. He answers for me.

“Lockmeyer did a fine job, General. He even got Daniel to eat his vegetables and come in before dark.” If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Colonel gave me a barely perceptible wink. It hits me then that he’s giving me a break. I’m flabbergasted. This is the SGC, no place for losers and washouts. The fate of the planet is in our hands. Well, their hands.

We’re dismissed and filing out of the room when a clerk stops me and asks me to fill out some additional paperwork. She informs me I can take it home but I sit back down at the conference room table alone, more than happy to comply, hoping the place clears out before I leave.

I’m relieved that by the time I get to the showers, SG-1 will most likely be gone. My heart sinks when I realize everyone's not gone. Colonel O’Neill is still here. I feel compelled to thank him for not humiliating me in the debriefing. I have no idea what it will say in his official report, but since he is Colonel O’Neill, I’m positive he doesn’t lie in his reports so I assume my time here is still short.

He’s stuffing some civies into an overloaded duffel bag. “Laundry,” he says in my direction. He’s either talking to me or to himself because the room is deserted.

I take a deep breath. “Thank you, Sir.”

“For...?” He looks up from his bag with a frown.

For what seems like the hundredth time today I can feel heat creeping up my neck and I stare down at his bag of dirty clothes. “Covering for me, Sir.”

He leaves his bag and sits down on the bench beside me. “Lockner, if you really studied my file like you say you did, you’d know that I don’t cover for people.”

My face is really red now; I can feel it and I can’t look him in the eye. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to imply...”

He interrupts me and cuts right to the chase. “What exactly do you think you did wrong out there?”

I glance up at him and stare in disbelief. To my shock the question appears to be sincere. He was there. How could he not have noticed?

“I was... I was really scared out there, Sir.” It comes out in a whisper. I hope he heard me. I’m not sure I can repeat it.

To my astonishment, he laughs at my confession. “That’s what’s gotten you so rattled, Airman. News flash, kid... we’re all scared out there.”

He’s trying to let me off the hook, but it’s not that easy, I’m not sure he understands. “No, sir. I was really scared.” I whisper the next part of my confession. “You saw that I froze out there.”

“What I saw was that you crawled fifty meters, soundlessly I might add, through the brush to the spot I ordered you to and covered our asses while Daniel and I tried to figure out where those damned Jaffa came from.”

Once again, my CO rests his hand on my shoulder. “A wise man once told me that it’s not how you feel that proves your courage, it’s what you do. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” For the first time since earlier this morning I start to feel hope that maybe I’m not such a screw up after all. Colonel O’Neill is not one to mince words.

“You did good,” he continues. “You positioned yourself as ordered, you stayed calm and quiet, you didn’t put any members of your team in danger and…” he quirks an eyebrow at me, “this is a biggie, you didn’t get me shot. Ya done good, kid.” He pats the shoulder that his hand had been resting on, grabs his overloaded bag and heads out.

I’m just starting to daydream about saving the world again when the Colonel sticks his head back inside the doorway. “Lockberg, we’re going out for a team dinner at O’Malley’s, you coming?”

Colonel O’Neill, the bane of every newbie in the SGC, is inviting me to dinner with him and SG-1? I manage to croak out a baffled, “Sir?”

He sighs and tilts his head. “Steaks, I’m buying.”

Before I answer, he bangs on the doorframe twice and is gone. “Lockmiester!” he yells from somewhere down the hall, outside the locker room. “21:00 hours. O’Malley’s. Don’t be late.”

“No, Sir, I won’t be,” I mumble to myself with a smile.

My first mission is over and it was a success. If Colonel O’Neill, the 2IC of the entire SGC says it was a success, who am I, a lowly newbie, to argue with him.

I’m getting a second wind and I start to undress with renewed enthusiasm. I’m going out to dinner with SG-1 to celebrate the success of my first mission. My CO on the mission was Colonel Jack O’Neill and he’s buying. Nope, I’m not dreaming, I’ve never dreamed up anything this satisfying.

I don’t think I'll tell my fellow newbies any of this stuff after all. I think I’ll just keep this to myself for a while.

Besides, they’d never believe me.



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