"You are positive that Dr. Jackson was aware of the briefing this morning, Colonel?" Both Hammond's voice and posture reeked of annoyance.
The Colonel to whom this question was directed was busy twirling a pencil through his fingers and across his palm. Thoroughly engrossed in this simple, mind numbing activity, Colonel O'Neill was unaware of the General's question and tone of voice.
Teal'c was not so self-absorbed, his left hand shot out, hitting O'Neill's upper arm having the desired effect of disrupting the good Colonel's balancing act.
"Damn, Teal'c what'd go and do that for, I had a good rhythm going."
Teal'c sat with his eyes straight forward, but Carter sitting opposite the Colonel, opened her eyes wide and moved the irises a fraction of an inch in General Hammond's direction. "Sir, Daniel?"
"Oh yeah, General. Daniel is ... late?"
"That is a given Colonel," glancing at his watch, "approximately 50 minutes. I had been inquiring if Dr. Jackson was aware of this briefing before SG1's departure at 1300 hours for PX430."
The weather 28 stories above the SGC was horrendous, torrential rains and winds had been the norm for the past few days. Jack's mother hen propensities just increased a notch when he realized the weather conditions made for slick driving conditions, which made for accidents, which made for calls from hospitals and police departments regarding injured archeologists. A quick glance at Major Carter reflected visible worry on her front. She excused herself from the table to use the phone. Jack knew Carter well enough to know she was trying Daniel's home and cell phone.
Lifting his eyes to meet Carter's as she came to the table. Her closed off face told the story. "No answer sir, on Daniel's home phone or cell phone ... I'm going to try the main entrance to see if he ..."
"Sorry, I'm late."
Four pairs of swung unison to the man standing at the end of the table. Daniel stood before them dripping as if he just stepped out of a shower with his clothes on. He was holding sodden notes in his hand, which he placed gently on the table.
"Car trouble, Daniel?"
Daniel gave Jack the 'how stupid are we look' look before answering. "Sorry General, my car broke down about three miles from the mountain and I walked it." Daniel accentuated his sentence with two sneezes.
Carter got up and handed Daniel a tissue from the box on the sideboard. He removed his glasses cleaned them, and then proceeded to blow his nose in the tissue.
"Thank you, Sam."
"DanielJackson, why did you not use your cell phone to call for someone to pick you up?"
"Itwasntcharged" Daniel mumbled, wiping his nose on his wet jacket sleeve.
With a sigh, Carter got up to get Daniel another tissue. He nodded his head in acknowledgment.
Jack cupped his hand around his ear and leaned in Daniel's direction "What's that you said?"
"I believe that DanielJackson said it wasn't charged."
Frustrated Jack turned to the Jaffa, "I know that's what he said, Teal'c, I just wanted to hear our resident genius voice those words."
"Okay Jack, it wasn't charged, I couldn't call, I walked three miles in the pouring rain without an umbrella ... " Daniel stopped to sneeze "I am obviously soaking wet, freezing, and would like a warm shower." Daniel bent from the waist as he was gripped by a coughing fit. Straightening up and clearing his throat, he realized that Sam had gotten up and thrown the box of tissues onto the table in front of him. Gratefully, he smiled as she placed a glass of water next to the tissues. He sipped the water, sneezed and continued. "I would like a warm shower, change my clothes and I'll be back in 20 minutes for the briefing."
"Daniel, I believe you are dripping on the General's floor."
Apologetically Daniel looked towards the General "I know, sir, really sorry about that."
Pushing himself away from the table and standing, Jack looked in the General's direction "Permission to order Daniel to buy another car, sir. Four times in three weeks ..."
Daniel attempted to protest, but Jack refused to look in his direction. Jack held up his hand up to halt Daniel's forthcoming argument. General Hammond stated, "Dr. Jackson, permit Colonel O'Neill to finish."
Daniel sneezed and then blew his nose in reply.
"Also request permission to haul Daniel's butt down to Doc Fraiser, in his wet clothes, so she can reprimand him, stick him with big needles, and I'm quite positive declare him sick, thereby canceling today's trip through the Stargate."
"Jack, it's just water. I'm fine, I just need a warm shower and dry clothes," Daniel replied and then sneezed.
"Dr. Jackson, if Dr. Fraiser say's you are well enough to travel, we will brief as soon as your examination is done. If you are not cleared for Stargate travel, there will be no argument ..."
"I understand General, but ..."
Jack shook his head in disbelief, Daniel was not willing to go down without a fight.
With an exasperated look in Daniel's direction, the General replied "As I said, no argument and SG1's mission will be deferred until you are medically cleared. Is that understood?"
"Sir, I ..."
Jack hurried to the archeologist's side, grabbing his arm and pulled Daniel out of the room before he said something to General Hammond he would regret at a later date.
Outside in the hall, Daniel's angrily wrenched his arm out of Jack's grip, face contorted in anger. He spoke through clenched teeth. "I need my notes."
"Infirmary visit first, shower, then notes ... promise."
Daniel opened his mouth to protest, but the look on Jack's face told him that wasn't an option. Jack's dragging Daniel to the infirmary had gone from one of friendship and concern to ... well Jack was playing the Colonel role and Daniel was getting the full military treatment. Anger and annoyance directed towards a member of his team who had done something incredibly stupid.
Daniel stopped in his tracks. Jack turned, "Daniel?"
Daniel lowered his eyes, coughed, sneezed and sniffed. Wordlessly Jack handed Daniel his handkerchief from his pocket shaking his head in denial when Daniel offered to return it. Jack smiled inwardly, wondering as Daniel shifted from leg to leg if he was actually nervous at the situation or that the cold, wet uniform was beginning to stick in all the wrong places.
"I'm sorry Jack, I didn't think ..." Daniel's thought processes were interrupted by sneezes.
Deflated, all the fun being taken out of being in Colonel mode by the look of sincere apology shadowing Daniel's face. With an exasperated sigh, Jack hardened his resolve. Playing 'Colonel' would have to last just a little while longer while he drove an important point home. Jack knew it was imperative for Daniel to receive the message he was about to impart loud and clear.
Angrily, Jack began "I'm giving you advance warning ... do not attempt to interrupt me." Softening his tone, he continued, "Daniel you carry a gun when we go offworld to defend yourself ..."
"Also to defend you, Sam ..."
"I thought I told you not to interrupt me," Jack growled.
Jack gave Daniel a look through narrowed eyes deciding to try a different approach, playing to Daniel's guilt factor. "Daniel, why can't you understand that you are a vital member to the SGC and to SG1? That a cell phone is not a luxury; it is an important piece of survival equipment on Earth. A working car is not a luxury item; it also is an important piece of survival equipment. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of people and agencies that would like to get their greedy little paws on you. Not me, Teal'c or Major Carter, you. The information contained in that brain of yours would be like opening Pandora's Box. Not having a working phone ... or a working car, making yourself a viable target is both dangerous and stupid." Jack looked up over lowered lids. 'Yes. Point taken.' Daniel's eyes were wide; his complexion had gone a shade paler.
"Oh," was all Daniel could utter.
Jack maintained his cool composure, but smiled inwardly. 'The linguist had been relegated to monosyllabic utterances. Now to go in for the kill' ... "When we couldn't reach you, we were worried."
Jack reached over to pat Daniel's cheek. His hand involuntarily slid to Daniel's forehead. 'Yup, definitely warmer than normal.' Daniel backed up, aware that he was going to be on the receiving end of twenty questions. "Daniel ...?"
"No," he answered too quickly. Jack's eyes burned into his. "I'm fine."
Jack countered with "Sure, Daniel, you're fine. What were you were hoping for?"
Daniel cleared his throat and whispered conspiratorially, "Janet not to notice?"
Jack grabbed his arm and continued down the hall. "You are delusional Daniel. I want to be present when Dr. Fraiser gets her hands on you."
Having been forewarned by General Hammond, Janet met the two men at the infirmary door. Arms crossed, she resembled Napoleon overlooking a battle scene. "Don't think you're dripping all over my infirmary floor. Go shower, change into these ..." she thrust a pair of hospital scrubs at Daniel.
"No. Janet, it's okay. I can get a clean set of BDUs."
"No, you can't, Daniel. For obvious reasons the nice doctor wants you to spend some time with her today. Isn't that right, Doc?"
Janet looked at Jack with menace in her eyes. "You are no better. Dragging him all over the base making a mess."
Janet leaned forward to survey the hallway, Daniel and Jack following her line of vision. "Oops sorry Janet." Daniel's apology was muffled as he sneezed into the crook in his arm.
"Shower, now." Janet manhandled Daniel and pointed him in the direction of the showers. "You," ... pointing to a Jack who deflected her anger with a sheepish grin. Janet paused and looked around to make sure Daniel was out of hearing range. "Go tell the General I'll let him know the status of today's mission after I examine Daniel."
Two hours later, the mission had been canned, put to sleep, rest, until a later date. Jack stood in the infirmary arguing with Daniel. "No, I want to go home."
"How are you going to get there?" Jack countered.
"Did maintenance have my car towed back to base?" Daniel asked.
"Aaarggghhhh," Jack grabbed his hair and glared at Daniel. "Daniel you are like a train of thought without a caboose. The car is history."
"Can I go home?"
"Doc is he delirious?"
"No, just stubborn. I will repeat again what I told you before. Daniel, look at me."
With a resigned shrug of his shoulders, Daniel turned towards Janet.
"One, you have bronchitis accompanied by a low grade fever. Your choice is to stay in the infirmary or ..."
"My house," Jack countered.
"Or Colonel O'Neill's house."
"I can sleep in my home or even my office ... I have ..."
Jack and Janet both yelled "No" in unison and loud enough for Daniel to jump. Janet continued "We know you well enough ... to you home and office equates work. Doctor's orders ... rest for three days ... then light duty, then you can visit PX ..."
"430," Jack finished.
Daniel was duly impressed. Jack never remembered the numbers of planets. Especially because this planet was basically an archeological mission, not one to gain military advancement.
"Jack's house, least of two evils." Daniel mumbled as he slid off the infirmary bed.
So Daniel was released from the infirmary with a list of meds and instructions and sent to bask in the warmth of Mama O'Neill.
The afternoon of the second day found Daniel enjoying his recuperation in the stillness of Jack's house. He had spent the previous day ensconced in the guestroom, sleeping off and on with Jack supplying him with endless juice, medication and chicken soup. Today his nursemaid permitted him to get out of bed while he went to run some errands giving Daniel strict instructions of what he could and could not do. Daniel had learned it was better to shake your head and smile in agreement instead of wasting your energy reminding the good Colonel that you were an adult. If you agreed with him he left you alone sooner.
Lying on the couch, Daniel's eyes were closing and he could feel himself starting to drift off. The sound of something hitting the coffee table causing him to jump up, heart racing.
"Daniel, you up?"
Daniel scrubbed his face. "Am now Jack." swinging his legs over the side of the couch and pulling himself up to a sitting position.
"Scoot over big guy, look what I got". Jack sat on the sofa and leaned across Daniel to grab the magazines from coffee table.
Daniel rubbed his eyes to bring them into focus, squinting he searched for his glasses. With eyes turned heavenward, Jack bent across Daniel to retrieve the latter's glasses from the arm of the couch. Daniel accepted them with a smile and yawned.
Jack had spent the better part of the afternoon visiting car dealerships. For hours Jack plied Daniel with the fruits of his labor by subjecting him to brochure after brochure of the cars he thought would be appropriate for Daniel. "See look at this one it has ... This other one has ... 4-wheel drive ... this one antilock brakes, CD ..." Daniel perfected the ability of sleeping with his eyes open.
Over a dinner, Daniel broached the subject of his old car. "Did Siler tow ..."
Jack's fork clattered against the dinner plate. "Daniel, sorry you weren't able to attend, but your car was given a proper burial."
"Scrap?" Daniel asked with a lump in his throat. He was amazed how choked up he was getting over a car.
"Yup ... Now look at this brochure, the salesperson said ..."
For the first time in his adult life Daniel feigned exhaustion, and was in bed before 10 p.m. He woke up late the next morning whether as an avoidance technique towards Jack or an aftereffect of Janet's medication ... all he knew was that he needed/wanted/had to have coffee very badly.
Stumbling into the kitchen he found a fresh pot started with a note from Jack on the counter.
"Enjoy the coffee. I will pick you up, we will go visit Janet and if you are okay ... we will hit the car dealerships. See you by 1100" JACK
Daniel knew there was no fighting this battle, all he could hope was that Janet would find a recurrence and he would be confined to base ... indefinitely in solitary confinement.
No such luck, Janet had declared him on the mend and he and Jack were off to visit the car dealers. Well actually, Daniel was along for the ride. Their third stop was a Chevrolet dealer and Jack had to actually wake Daniel up when they pulled into the lot. The salesmen honed in on Jack and Daniel just sat back and watched. In this building, in this town, on this day ... Jack had found his match.
"Daniel ... look, this is it."
Daniel was admiring the Camaro, and Jack had to literally drag him over to the car, truck, whatever it was that had caught his fancy at this time. Daniel actually started to laugh when he saw it. It was huge ... an SUV aptly named Chevy Avalanche.
"I ... I don't think so Jack," Daniel replied with an idiotic grin on his face. All he could envision was Janet needing one of those collapsible ladders to get into the truck.
The salesperson was indignant when he realized the purchase was for Daniel; but he was willing to play along. Jack was insistent that Daniel at least discuss the possibility of purchasing the truck. Daniel sat with Jack and the salesperson and listened to the droning of their voices as Jack argued what was to be included in the price, the color ..."
"Black ... or silver, Daniel?"
"Whatever, Jack." Daniel could feel himself drifting ... if Jack didn't hurry up with this or at least supply Daniel with a cup of coffee, they were going to find him face down and drooling on the salesperson's desk.
The salesperson definitely was of the belief that Daniel was strange. The other gentleman was self-assured and secure in the knowledge of what he desired. The other guy ... lost in his own world, barely acknowledging the existence of where they were ...
"Excuse me ... what can you do about the price?" Jack wanted to know.
The salesperson leaned across his desk. "The Avalanche is for him?" he motioned in Daniel's direction with a tilt of his head.
"Umm yeah," Jack replied.
"Can he afford it?"
Even though Daniel gave the appearance he was somewhere else, he actually was paying attention to the gentleman behind the desk and guffawed at that remark. Daniel slid the required papers in front of him and filled them out. He placed his license on top and handed them to the salesperson. "Run a credit check ... then we'll see."
He rewarded Jack with an indulgent smile and then sat back in his chair with his arms across his chest. "Dr. Jackson, this is a side of you that I have never seen before. Intriguing." Jack whispered as the salesman scrambled off.
"Here you go Dr ... Dr. Jackson and can I ..."
Daniel was in a mean, wicked mood now and he sat back and took joy in watching the man trip over himself to grovel.
Jack was in love with that truck ... and was trying his damnedest to convince Daniel he couldn't live without it. In the end, they all shook hands with the promise to think about it.
Life took precedence over the purchase of any car or truck. Daniel was declared fit to travel and then the next week was spent on PX430 digging for artifacts or locating mineral samples. Daniel was shocked the first time SG1 sat for their MREs around the campfire and Jack pulled out the car brochures. He looked at Sam helplessly, she just shrugged her shoulders as Jack focused in on the Avalanche brochure and sang the truck's praises. By the second evening, an idea had formed in his mind and he approached Sam. She smiled in agreement, acknowledged that she knew someone who could help Daniel, and promised to do anything she could to assist.
After their return from the mission, debriefed, showered, paid a visit to Janet, Daniel let himself into his apartment after a lift home from Jack. Out of the six messages on his answering two were hang-ups and the other were from the Chevrolet salesman. Daniel checked his watch and made two calls that evening.
SG1 was on downtime the following week and it was a beautiful Saturday morning. Daniel and Teal'c were going to assist Jack in yard work. Jack was just opening his truck door to leave to pick up first Teal'c then Daniel. The honk of a truck horn caught his attention. Dumbfounded, Jack watched as Daniel maneuvered a brand new Avalanche into his driveway. A slight twinge of jealously ran through Jack's body, but it was gone before it was truly properly acknowledged.
Daniel jumped out of the driver's side of the 2002 shiny black Avalanche. "Wow, she's a beaut Daniel. Look at the lines, the color ... you know you could put a lot of ..."
"Like it Jack?"
"Love it Daniel, you know that. The salesman must have shit when you went back to get it."
Leaning against the door of the car, he had a Cheshire grin on his face. "Really sure you like it?"
"I don't understand."
Daniel walked over to his best friend and turned Jack's hand palm side up. He placed the car keys in Jack's hand, closing the fingers slowly around the keys. Daniel's thumb ran gently over the knuckles of Jack's hand, possibly conveying a message that Jack had waited years to hear. "Suffice it to say, I don't owe you a Christmas or birthday present, for at least another 20 or 30 years. This is yours, Jack. Enjoy."
"Why, Daniel?" Jack asked softly.
"Because I can Jack, but more importantly, because I wanted to." Jack looked into Daniel's clear eyes and saw something there ... His heart began to pound, hoping he had read his linguist's spoken and unspoken words correctly.
Jack swallowed a lump in his throat caused by this gift and the knowledge that Daniel had just conveyed to him. He cleared his throat. "But you still have to get a car."
At that precise moment, a car pulled into Jack's driveway behind the Avalanche. Teal'c got out of the passenger side, and Sam the driver's side.
"Daniel's car, sir."
"Like it Jack? It is a '66 fully restored Ford Mustang convertible."
"It's old Daniel."
"No, Jack, think of it as an artifact."
Jack walked over to the Avalanche. "This truck ... my truck has air conditioning and heat."
"Jack, I have a convertible and heat also."
"My truck smells new."
"My car has history."
Teal'c and Sam leaned against Jack's old Explorer, still in the driveway. Passing a look of understanding between the two of them. They realized they were in for the long haul.
"I believe this is what the Tau'ri refer to as a pissing contest, MajorCarter." Teal'c deadpanned.
She patted his arm in agreement.
"My car has a CD player."
"Had my car installed with a cell phone that charges constantly off the car battery. Wouldn't want you to worry."
"My car has anti-lock brakes and handles well in the snow."
"Good, this way I won't have to take the car I love out in the snow. You can drive me."
"Daniel, we are in Colorado. It snows the majority of time."
"Well then you will be picking me up a lot or I will be sleeping on base."
'Or you will stay here,' Jack thought to himself.
'Or at your house,' Daniel's voice echoed in his head.
Jack paused and smiled at Daniel. "But it's old Daniel, how can you love it?"
"Jack, you're old, but I still love you."
"Touché," Sam said laughing.
Jack shot her a murderous look. "Colonel, just say thank you to DanielJackson so we do not spend the day on your driveway."
"Thank you, Daniel."
"You're welcome. Jack."
Jack threw the keys in the air and deftly caught them. "Just remember, Daniel, payback is a bitch."
Daniel walked close enough for only Jack to hear and laughed, "The payback was what I was counting on, Jack."
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