|Notes: In the Sentinel universe this takes place
after TSbyBS, Blair is a detective with short hair.
Today is the day. Finally Daniel was going to be here after months and months of scheduling, setting dates, canceling, setting the date again, and canceling – again. The first time it was his fault, the next it was mine. We just couldn't seem to find the time to get reacquainted with each other. It wasn't an emergency that we see each other but after a few years of wondering I sent him an email. Took him weeks to respond and that spawned the Great Visit – which has finally come to pass... eight months later.
"Sandburg?" Jim called from the other room.
"What?" I answer as I walk into the kitchen.
"What's all this mess?"
I look at the counter tops and only see one with any junk on it; Jim never ceases to amaze me in what he considers disarray and what he doesn't. After six months of being Jim's partner he has finally shut up about the state on my desk drawers. I keep the top in as much order as I can, only for him, but the drawers are mine.
"Jim," I start exasperated, "it's some mail and newspapers. I wouldn't exactly call it a mess."
"True, but your friend is going to be here shortly and I don't want him to think we live in a sty."
I look at him in disbelief. All this over some misplaced papers? I walk over and start to collect everything then turn to find the recycling bag. "Jim, what's up with you? You've been acting all `itchy' for days now. You've known Daniel has been coming for weeks."
"Who's he bringing again?"
"Jack. He's a friend. Something about a recent event and no matter how hard he tried, Daniel couldn't shake'em so Jack is tagging along."
"That's what I don't like. The whole tagging along thing – who would do that to a friend?"
I stand up and make eye contact with him with a look of disbelief on my face. "Gee man, I don't know." The sarcasm drips from my words.
Jim scowls at me before snipping, "It's different between us. He's not a Sentinel and you're a trouble magnet."
"Yeah? Daniel could be too."
Before I could put the recycling bag under the counter, Jim stalks over to me and invades my space, pushing me back slightly. "What do you mean? Daniel's a Sentinel and you didn't tell..."
I cut him off before he goes into a territory that is too sore to bring up when guests are arriving any minute. "No. I meant that Daniel could be a trouble magnet. Stop thinking the worst about everything first, then backtracking. It's wearing on my nerves Jim, and remember I'm trained to kick your ass now so don't keep pushing me into a fight."
As I stare up at Jim, his eyes soften as he backs up and mumbles an apology. Six months has done wonders to heal the cutting words that were spoken that chilly day, but Jim's knee-jerk reaction to our past really tries my patience. I know that week was hell – all right, more of a never ending disaster – it was for me, him, the department; the list goes on, but sometimes the man doesn't think past himself. If he only realized how much it hurts to see him still think the worst of me at times...
There's a knock at the door so my pity party is put on hold. Negative feelings like that aren't healthy for me anyway. I quickly stash the papers under the counter and trot to the door. I glance at Jim as I turn the knob.
"I'm sorry," Jim says.
I grin. "I know. Now behave."
I pull the door open to find Daniel squinting to his left. I can't help myself, but I laugh because it's the same face I give to Jim when he says something perfectly logical to himself, but sounds like total confusion to me.
"Daniel, hi." I say and he turns to give me his full attention.
"Blair, it's great to see you!" He takes a step forward at the same time I do and we give each other that hug/slap that men-folk do. And even with all my anthropology classes, I find few instances where anyone can pinpoint where and when most of the male population started to hit someone on the back after a hug. It's what society deems acceptable I suppose, but it strikes me funnier than usual this time considering that the societal majority has been able to brainwash an anthropologist and archeologist into stooping to their level. I vow to myself as I step back that the hug goodbye will not have the slap.
"Come on in." I motion with my hand that he and his friend should enter the loft. As I push the door closed I notice that Jim has come into our little entryway, now that he's glared enough at the counter.
"Daniel, this is my partner Jim. Jim Ellison, this is Daniel Jackson."
More handshakes and Daniel takes a step back and to the side, which brings his friend into view. "This is Jack O'Neill the friend I was telling you about."
Another round of handshaking and I motion to my guests that they should venture into the living room. As they veer to the left around the one sofa, I go to the right and take up a spot there.
"Nice place." Jack says as he looks at the ceiling high above him. "You both live here?"
"Yeah, it's a long story. In a nutshell, Jim offered me his spare room for a week and I just never left."
"How long ago was that?" asks Jack.
I blink and cock my head to the side as I answer, "Um, about four years ago by now."
"Jack and I sometimes stay together too, it makes shipping out in the mornings a lot easier after getting in late," says Daniel smoothly as he seems to grab Jack's left arm. The man looks sharply at Daniel but my friend mumbles something under his breath and Jack backs down.
Curious, I look up at Jim who stopped halfway to the couch with beers in his hands and raise my eyebrows. He just shrugs and continues the rest of the way to our guests where he receives the customary `thank you's'.
Once settled in the cushion I bring the topic of conversation back to something more neutral. "What have you been up to lately Daniel? The last thing I remember you publishing had something to do with ancient Egypt and the pyramids – your theory was unique."
Daniel smiles. "Unique, that's a really nice way of putting it."
"Oh, I meant no offense, you know that, but it was fascinating." I should know better to imply something about another person's theories – mine were... are just as outlandish.
"Well, no you're right, I was practically laughed out of the archeology department, but I still believe what I believe."
"And what is that?" Jim asks.
"Well," Daniel starts, eyes widening a little. "I wrote papers and gave conferences of the pyramids being built by - - - aliens, for lack of a better description."
"Really." I can hear the slight condescending tone that Jim has and only hope that our guests miss it. By the way Jack turns his body toward Jim I know that Daniel's friend is about to defend the archeologist's opinion. Jim notices the body language also and turns for a fight. I glance at the clock and see that they haven't been in the loft for more than thirty minutes and already there is going to be an argument, a butting of heads. As I open my mouth to joke and try to lessen the tension, the phone rings.
The answering machine picks up right away since we had changed the ringer the previous night to ensure a semi-peaceful night sleep. As the person leaves a message I feel the blood drain from my face. I look around in a panic for the phone but can't find it; the machine is across the room with no way for me to reach it before the damage is already done.
"Hi. I'm Ray Willis from the publishing firm that handles Anthropology Weekly. I'm trying to reach Blair Sandburg. I'd like to follow up with you regarding your admission to a fraudulent dissertation and how you are settling into being a detective. Please return my call..." The rest of the message is lost as I can only hear the blood rushing through my ears.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I turn to find Jim standing beside me. "You all right?" he asks softly.
I smile slightly in return and nod. Looking toward Daniel I see that his head is cocked and he's squinting. Anyone that knows him even a little knows that he's confused.
"Blair? You're a cop?" He asks, disbelief tainting his words.
"Yeah." I manage to choke out. I find that while I have accepted that many think I'm a liar and a screw up and a disappointment, there are still people within academia that make me doubt my decision. Daniel is one of them. While not in the same field, or even university – I followed his career and he followed mine. We would exchange long phone calls or emails. We are friends, his opinion matters to me. I had hoped to avoid the issue for as long as possible, but the damn reporters keep calling.
"How? Why? I don't understand. You were in anthropology; you were so far ahead of everything in your goal. And now you're a cop?"
"It's a long story..."
"So you're a fraud?" asks Jack conversationally. All eyes go to him and I can physically feel Jim's entire body tense up.
"What? That's what the reporter said."
"We all have something to hide, don't we?" Jim gives Jack a pointed look as though he has some sort of damning information.
Both Jack and Daniel stand up; Jack stepping in front of Daniel as Jim moves in front of me. Seems both Daniel and I have a friends with alpha males complexes.
God damn those reporters!! Can't they leave the kid alone? It's been seven months now and every time we turn around someone's still in our faces about it. And now he's wired. I can feel the tension vibrating behind me as I instinctively move to shield him.
Shit. I never meant to yank his chain like that earlier but those old responses are tough to break. I had promised myself that I'd be on my best – ok better – behavior for his friends. Hell, I'm so glad he's still got academic friends who want to talk to him that I'll even leave him alone with them, for a bit. I won't go far mind you. Collette's has some nice tables, but it's the thought right?
So his friend Daniel seems nice enough. Tall, with that air of geekiness that seems to permeate anyone who's chosen that lifestyle no matter what. However, Daniel's big. He looks me in the eye, which means he's got about 4 inches on Sandburg and the shoulder and muscle mass to go along with it. He also moves like he's had training, experience and not just the chopping through jungles and shoveling dirt type either. And that sets off some tiny inconsistency warning in my suspiciously trained head.
It's the friend, Jack, who really sets off the bells. He screams military to me. The cut, the stance and the way he moves. He's got those rigid shoulders and loose grace of a man used to going from attention to movement. I could see by the once over that I got, that he's picking up similar warnings going off about me. I'm guessing he's career and has seen quite a bit of action, maybe even some form of special ops judging by the invisible scars on his face and hands that sentinel sight allows me to see.
Right now he's scowling pretty fiercely and shielding his friend; I suppress a smirk as I finally see what that looks like from the other side. Sandburg's placed a hand on my back for... well a bunch of reasons I guess: to reassure himself, to reassure me, to stop me from lunging over there and wiping the suspicious look off Jack's face.
"Blair?" Daniel's tone is gentle as he slides out from behind Jack with a pat to the other man's shoulder.
Sandburg sighs behind me and copies Daniel's move, but leaves his hand on my back. I look down at him, he's still pale but the glazed look is gone from his eyes and he nods reassurance at me. "I wrote a paper. My mom sent it to a publisher without my permission. The publisher released parts of it against my wishes. It interfered with a very important case Jim and I were working on. I refuted the paper, ditched Rainier and joined the PD."
Daniel blinks, Jack stares and even I blink at Blair's oh so illuminating explanation. And what surprises me, is that it's all completely true but so over simplified that it seems completely made up.
"You joined the police over a bad PAPER?" Jack's tone is incredulous as I tug on Sandburg's shirt to get him sitting again as I reseat myself.
Blair shrugs, "It wasn't ready, my theories were too rough, too... exposed. I couldn't let it sit there like that, the media went crazy for it and the dislike the Chancellor had for me all along finally came to a head. It was easier to just switch careers. I enjoy it. I really do. Well – except for the gun thing which I'm dealing with using meditation and the fact the Jim rarely misses as long as he keeps hold of the thing." He grins at me and I oblige by bopping him on the head. "I find that I'm good at it: the detecting, the dealing with the families. Jim and I have one of the best solve rates in the state."
"Watch it, Chief. You've got to get that ego through the doors of your room and mine certainly doesn't need the help." He returns my earlier whap with a slap to my chest to put me in my place. Our guests have gingerly settled back onto the sofas and are watching wide-eyed.
"So," I try to shift the tension back to their side of the room, "Egypt and pyramids, huh?"
Daniel nods enthusiastically. I can see why the two of them get along. "Yes, I'm an archaeologist and a linguist. I've been on digs in several key sites in Egypt and South America."
"And how did you meet Sandburg here?"
Blair shifts uncomfortably next to me, running his hands through his hair, "Jim – that's really an... unimportant story."
"Ah ah ah, you know practically every embarrassing thing I'm done since the Army and I really think this could be beneficial to our partnership." I blink at him with excessive sincerity.
"Fine, fine!" He throws up his hands in surrender and glances at Daniel who's fidgeting some. I grin at my own deflection of subjects, Sandburg would be proud if he wasn't so busy being embarrassed.
"You know, I'd love to hear this myself..." Jack perks up from his study of me to smirk at his friend.
"It's really not that funny," I insist, but the two of them are almost salivating for some gossip about us. "Really, you had to be there. I first met Daniel during my second year at Rainer. I was chosen out of the Anthropology majors to represent the school and give a short lecture at a conference on Anthropology and Archeology since..."
"They both go together." Daniel finished for me and I smile and see that Jack shakes his head in what I'd assume is amusement.
"I was really psyched about it, it was my first presentation and I prepared for over a week on it. I had slides, and flash cards, and more notes. I went slightly overboard. As luck would have it I was running late." I studiously ignore the snort from my side. "So I was walking very quickly..."
"More like running," offers Daniel.
"Down the hall and I turned the corner and run right into Daniel. We both ended up on the floor, papers and slides everywhere."
"I was surprised at how such a little guy could cause so much chaos. The papers were halfway across the hall, people were trying to walk around us and all we could do was stare at each other."
"Hey, I wasn't expecting a person to be there."
"It was a public hallway Blair."
"That's really besides the point. Anyway, so there we were, on our hands and knees trying to gather all of our stuff. I knew it was nearing my turn at the podium so I just stuffed everything into my bag."
"I gathered up my own presentation paraphernalia, and quickly introduce ourselves as Daniel – archeology and Blair – anthropology. As soon as the papers disappeared into the backpack, Blair was halfway down the hall throwing apologies over his shoulder." Daniel said with a grin.
I smile brightly at Daniel as I remember my mad dash into the auditorium. "I made it with time to spare. As quietly as possible I made my way to the front and sat while the speaker was finishing. It's then I realized I was screwed."
"Don't tell me," Jack says with his hand raised. "All of those papers weren't yours."
Jim chuckles beside me. "No. There I was 18 years old having to speak in front of people way older than me with a jumble of junk for notes. There were pages with Egyptology facts and languages I knew nothing about all mixed with my stuff. I just froze, I didn't know what to do."
"The announcer was calling Blair's name, looking right at him, but he didn't move. I hurried down the aisle and grabbed his elbow and walked onto the stage with him." Daniel grins. "I wish I could say that I had a plan, but I just wanted to the guy to stop calling his name."
"So Daniel and I were standing side by side and the whole place is quiet, you could've heard a pin drop. I look down at my bag with the wrinkled papers sticking out, and then to his satchel that wasn't in a better state. I just started talking."
"He introduced himself, and tried to introduce me but only got as far as my first name. I filled in the rest. Then the oddest thing happened."
"We gave both of our presentations at the same time, lending our knowledge where it was needed. We talked for over an hour – we were a hit!"
"It was powerful up there, watching as everyone listened to us lecture. It almost made me want to become a teacher. Afterward the organizer congratulated us on our well prepared and practiced speech." Daniel finishes the story with a chuckle.
"So to celebrate a near-miss you guys got drunk right?" Jack asks.
I can feel my face heat up as I redden, and notice that Daniel lowers his head. Jack looks back and forth between the two of us. "You didn't?? What did you do?"
"Um, we, talked..."
With a sigh Daniel looks at Jack and says, "We went back to my room and stayed up all night as we wrote up our experience and our presentation so we had documentation."
Jim's quiet laughter is the only sound in the room for a moment before Jack exclaims, "Oh for cryin' out loud! You guys were college students. You should've been out partying, celebrating." He looks at me then back to Daniel. "Nevermind," he says as he shakes his head again as though he knew that thought never crossed his friend's mind.
"They just aren't the right type – books turn them on, not parties." Jim offers and I just glare up at him, making him laugh more.
Jim finally reins in his chuckles long enough to ask a question of his own. "So, what's an archaeologist and linguist `shipping' out to do these days?"
The pair on the couch stiffens and the seconds tick by before Jack answers. "He's been hanging around me too long. All my time in the military, he's picked up the lingo."
"Ah," Jim says. I notice Daniel avoids eye contact with me and I know there is more to their friendship than meets the eye. Maybe Daniel and I are more alike than we first thought – and we thought we were very alike. I pop up and announce I'm running to the store and grab Daniel's sleeve as I pass the couch.
I turn back around when I get to the door and both Jack and Jim are standing with identical looks of confusion on their faces. "Play nice boys, Daniel and I need some catch up time. We'll bring you back some coffee from the shop down the street."
"Sandburg..." Jim says threateningly, but I ignore him and push Daniel through the door. As we descend the stairs I whisper to Jim to behave himself and to leave Jack in one piece.
I point out the store on the corner and walk in silence toward it. I'm not sure how to broach the subject of secrets, it's not as though I'm being completely honest with Daniel, so I can't demand he be with me. But as soon as this visit was set, I went out looking for some of his published articles. The last one I found was about four years ago. It was fascinating reading to get reacquainted with: pyramids being built as landing areas for alien spacecraft.
The harder I looked the less I found connected with Dr. Daniel Jackson. As we reach the store I touch Daniel's back to get his attention. "Lets sit down and talk for a little bit, then get the coffee and head back."
He nods and he chooses the table furthest away from the crowds. We're only settled for a moment when he speaks.
"Blair, you already know I can't talk about it." Daniel says, sounding sorry.
"I know. But there has to be something you can tell me. What branch is Jack?"
I give him a long look, searching his eyes for the truth. Not that Daniel would lie about the branch of military Jack is in, but for whatever he's hiding. I nod. "Cool, their dress uniforms are the best out of any of them."
"You were right, weren't you?" I ask in all seriousness.
He goes completely still. Daniel cocks his head to the side and squints a little before he starts to talk. "Ah... yeah. I was right, as right as you were about your beliefs."
At my startled expression he shrugs. "I... we've --- I know we haven't been as close as we once were, but I trust myself to know people. I know you Blair, you're not a fraud. Whatever happened, it happened for a reason."
"Yeah, it did."
"I remember what your diss was about, what you kept researching; all those long nights in the libraries with obscure tomes surrounding you. Well, I remember hearing about it." His hands flutter across the iron tabletop as he continues. "I'm admittedly out of the loop anymore where anthropology is concerned; I've been concentrating more on the archeology and linguistics side, when time permits. Your subject matter, you found a... watchman?"
I smile at his tact. This is why Daniel and I have always gotten along – we're honest and sensitive at the same time. Usually. "Yes." I answer simply.
"The publisher revealed their identity?"
I nod. My heart is pounding in my chest. One side of my mind is relieved that Daniel has figured out things on his own, while the other side wonders if it's this easy – when is the other shoe going to drop for Jim and I? We've been so careful since I've become his official partner. I've started looking around us while at crime scenes to make sure we're really alone, and Jim scans the area before we even start investigating. Directional mikes, videos, overheard conversations can only stir the whole thing up again, and that's something we want to avoid.
A little voice in my head whispers that Daniel is, for all purposes, military now and confirming his suspicions is a dangerous game of trust. One I find myself willing to play.
"He was in trouble and the only way you could correct it was to sacrifice yourself like a lamb to the slaughter?" He sounds angry and his eyes flash behind his glasses.
"Daniel. You don't have any idea what it was like, I couldn't stand by and let a person's life be destroyed."
"But you destroyed yours for them. How is that fair? All those years of work, study, sacrifice – all for someone else."
"It's not black and white. Where do you get off presuming the reasons for my decisions?"
"I think I've earned the right. All those phone calls, emails and monthly visits of you going from excited to devastated because of your funding. Those times I had to send you money so you could just eat..."
I sit up straighter and lean across the table and point at him. "I won't deny that you've been a great friend to me Daniel. I won't. But if you're going to start nitpicking - - then why didn't you call me when you started to have problems in the field? After all the support you gave me, you didn't once share your theories and troubles with me. You went to conference after conference being laughed at and you never called me. I had to find out everything from reports and papers. You basically shut yourself away, then you disappeared!"
"I didn't give up anything," he says and I sit back hard against the chair and the air rushes from my lungs. "Nothing," Daniel says again as he holds my gaze.
I tear my eyes away from his and look down the street. After a moment I look back; his glasses sit on the table as he rubs his eyes.
"You know Jack is probably going to ream you a new one for that."
"Then why?" I ask, genuinely curious.
He smiles crookedly and shrugs. "It's lonely. I have great friends, a best friend, but I miss the people from my previous life. It's as though I have two lives now: before and after. The before is getting harder and harder to recall. It's why I fought so hard to come here."
I nod in understanding. "Me too. There aren't many people in the academic world that will look at me, let alone hold a conversation."
"We're both outcasts – but mine is of my own choice. I worry that..."
"Don't," I say as I interrupt him. "It was my choice. He never asked me to do it. I wanted to."
He nods his head as he places his glasses back on his face. "I have experienced so much in the last four years. Seen so many things. You'd love it, and be good at it too. Meeting new people."
He's talking cryptically enough that other people won't find anything strange about our conversation, but I'm hearing what Daniel is not saying. And wow. Good for him. Neither one of us are on the path we started on, losing something both of us held dear for so long, but we're happy.
"That's not saying it's all been fun."
I lean forward with my elbows resting on the table. "Yeah? Me too. Without giving anything away... let's compare wounds."
Daniel laughs loudly, and then looks embarrassed that he did so. "Ok. You first."
Grinning I start. "I was infected with a designer drug while at the police station, I took Jim's extra gun and proceeded to shoot up the garage before passing out then spending several days in the hospital."
"Really? You ok?"
"Oh, yeah, that was a while ago – the nightmares sneak up on me, but essentially I'm fine."
"I was addicted to - - something, during which I left my friends in a horrible position. In the midst of my withdrawal I threw the doctor, the female doctor, across the room and shot at Jack."
I just stare at him. "Everything ok?"
"Yeah, sure, you betcha." He smirks as he says that and chuckles to himself. It must be an inside joke. "Your turn." He reminds me.
"Um, I befriended a young lady as I was instructed to get close to, I fell in love with her, she broke my heart, then returned to my life only to use our past to manipulate me. Then another time I was being a helpful guy and let the girl out of the trunk..."
"Did you say trunk?"
"Yeah." I laugh a little.
He just shakes his head. "That should've been your first clue."
"Ah!" I wave a hand at him to dismiss that thought. "Anyway, she took me hostage and tried to use me to smuggle drugs over the border."
"And to think I pegged you to be a ladies man."
I just shrug. "You?"
"Well... while under the influence I was used to, um..." I watch as he blushes. "Let's just say that she wanted a legacy and I - - provided her with the opportunity."
"Daniel if that wasn't so horrifying I think I would laugh – which also makes me say we should stop, it's just pointing out how closely our lives have paralleled each other. Kind of scary."
We stand up to enter to the store and purchase the coffee. I have no doubt that if Jim was alone he would have listened in on our conversation, but I'm sure that Jack kept him busy. I'm just hoping the two men are whole when we return.
I stared at the closed door, watching the coats on the hooks next to it stir in the breeze. That was how fast my "partner" ditched me. The `behave yourself, Jim' that drifted back to me sentinel soft, only made me scowl. "Rat bastard. I'm gonna use his toothbrush to clean the grout," I mutter to myself. A soft choking noise from my stranded guest tells me that I hadn't muttered it quietly enough.
I sigh and turn to look at my new companion. Except for the repressed snicker, he looks about as thrilled as I am to be ditched and just as confused as to what to say. He's taking quick looks around the loft before darting back to me to check my reaction. I shrug mentally and park myself back on the sofa.
"Can I get you anything else? Another beer? A snack? A tracking device or leashes for our partners?" That got a chuckle from him and a slight relaxation of tense shoulders.
"So, how long have you known Daniel?"
Jack shifts a little, "Bit over four years now." And silence descends.
"So, um... how long have you worked for the police?" Jack asks.
"Eight – no almost nine years now," I answer, and then decide to throw him a bone. "Pretty much right after I left the service."
He perks up at that and quickly says, "Army, right? You were...?"
"Rangers, Special ops, mostly." Jack nods and winces, confirming my own suspicions. Then his mouth tightens up and his eyes go distant for a moment and the silence descends again.
I sigh internally and start planning my revenge on Sandburg other than the toothbrush thing. I'm a detective; you'd think I could talk to people. I may be occasionally... surly about it but I can do it. So I figuratively gird my loins, remind myself to look up, which is just asking Sandburg, what the phrase actually means and take over the conversational battle.
"So what branch are you?"
"Air Force," he answers a touch stiffly, that old inter-branch rivalry lurking. But I just nod.
"In as a career then?"
"Yeah, Colonel." But the stiffness is just increasing, I can tell. He's hiding it well, years of training on this guy, but each question is getting me closer to classified information and I doubt my old clearance would cover it and my curiosity isn't that great.
I lean back to signal no threat with my body language, "I got out as a Captain. Not a decision that I regret. The last bit in the Army for me was... really rough." I leave it at that. I'm sure he'll go look up as much of my records as he can find and with his possible clearance, that might be a hell of a lot. Kinda what I'd like to do to most of Sandburg's friends. Thinking of my Guide and the story earlier...
I lean forward, elbows on knees before I speak. "So, you got any more good dirt on Daniel? If they're gonna leave us like this I see no reason not to trade embarrassing stories and torture them with the new stories with they get back."
Jack's brown eyes light up with mischief and he leans in too. "Let me tell you there was this one time Daniel was in the cafeteria getting lunch and he was so busy talking and explaining and expounding that he didn't see the wet floor notice. I tried to stop him. Really, I did. I reached out and he just wasn't there. Tripping and stumbling. He didn't go down, I was impressed but he did throw his arms up in the air for balance."
I groan and cover my eyes as I see where this is going.
"No, no it wasn't that bad!" Jack laughs delightedly. "He managed to keep everything on the tray except the spoon in the pudding. That went up and came down - - right on top of his head."
I laugh as I picture it! "One day Sandburg turned all our whites lavender. Apparently he has a pair of purple briefs." I hold up a hand. "I don't know and don't want to know. Anyway, the usual occurred. He actually still wears the undershirt; I bleached all on my stuff back to white. It really messed with my crime stopping ability to be chasing down a suspect with a lavender tank and socks on."
"Oh, hey and then there was the time when Daniel..."
So we managed to go on in this manner for a bit, neither one of us paying the least bit of attention to the big fat secrets hanging over the other's shoulder. We were down to debating sports – another safe topic. Jack's expounding on the joys of hockey while I'm trying to convert him to basketball. We're both waxing fairly passionate on the relative merits of our chosen games. I'm advocating the lack of bloodshed in basketball while he seems to think that the high scoring diminishes the skill needed, unlike in hockey.
Through Jack's impassioned speech I hear a pounding on the door accompanied by Sandburg and Daniel's voices in the hallway. I let them stew for a moment as I try to make my point; Jack raises his eyebrow slightly and glances toward the door, but respects my decision to ignore the arrival of the professors. I continue, "But given the relative size to the target to the net, basketball takes more skill. Hockey simply relies on just the one guy to try and cover this huge area."
Jack splutters and starts in on how difficult and demanding the position of goalie really is. In the hallway I can hear Sandburg and Daniel becoming concerned. I get up for another beer and note Sandburg's keys in the basket as I head toward the kitchen. Jack follows me, still in full swing and takes the beer I hand him.
Then I hear the plan to break the door in and separate us before we come to blows. Sheesh – as if we'd do that over sports... The two pairs of footsteps retreat down the hall a bit and I saunter to the door as I wait for it.
~one~ ~two~ I shout, "Don't you dare Sandburg!" and yank the door open to their astonished faces peering at me from about six feet away.
I jerk as the door swings open and the coffee sloshes the lids of the cups. I narrow my eyes at Jim. "If you could hear us you shouldn't have left us standing out here."
"Didn't know you left your keys Sandburg."
"What? You thought I was knocking to warn you we had returned, giving you and Jack enough time to make it look as though you didn't come to blows?" I look passed Jim to Jack who is leaning against the center post in the room. I take in the living room area, the spotless kitchen, the absence of any bloody towels.
I look over my shoulder to Daniel, he too has taken in the picture presented to us. Daniel turns toward Jack. "You didn't fight?"
"No! Why would you think that Daniel? I have pleasant people skills." Jack manages to say this with a straight face. I glance toward Daniel and he quirks his eyebrow in a way that reminds me of his partner.
"Since when?" Daniel innocently counters.
"Oh, Danny, you just have your nose pressed to too many rocks to catch all the diplomatic stuff I can do. You'd be surprised."
As Daniel walks toward Jack with their drinks, I hear him mutter about everyone being surprised. I hand Jim his cup and perch on the arm of the love seat facing the two of them on the couch again.
"Daniel. Why does Jack call you `Danny'?" I ask as he once told me he didn't like it. To my astonishment, he blushes and sips his coffee obviously trying to form an answer. Jack respondes before Daniel can come up with something though.
"`Cause I want to." Jack says.
"Yeah but," I start however Jim interrupts me.
"Hey Chief, was Marie working? I owe her a five from the other day and would like to give it to her."
I have a smart-ass retort on the tip of my tongue when Jack catches my eye. He's smiling, widely, and not a little smug. I can't help it, I ask, "What?"
"Nothing." Jack laughs, "Nothing at all." I look to Daniel for help but he's smiling too. I feel as though I've missed something and being a detective that bothers me. Before I can ask again what was going on, Jack's phone rings. He stands and walks to the furthest place away from us, which is the refrigerator and answers it. Jim cocks his head in preparation to listen but I wave at him and glare. I know he's curious about what they do, but he can't just listen. Jim will undoubtedly use the justification that they are in the loft and he's protecting himself, but I know that he just is annoyed to be out of the loop about something.
The conversation is only a handful of seconds before Jack snaps his phone shut and walks back into the room. "Sorry, we're going to have to cut this short. We need to get back." All business-like, doesn't sound good.
"Jack, he gave us the weekend..." Daniel starts, but Jack twists toward him.
"Daniel. We've got to go."
I stand up, put my coffee on the table and approach Daniel who popped up at the tone in Jack's voice. "Don't worry about it, duty calls, I get it. But we can't let years go by."
"No, we can't. I'll contact you when I get back."
Jack clears his throat. Daniel glances at him over his shoulder and glares. I lean forward and give him a hug and laugh when he doesn't do the `back-slapping' thing either. The others shake hands and exchange the normal goodbye pleasantries before they quickly walk down the hall to the steps.
Jim shuts the door but doesn't move, his head's cocked to the side again. I know he's listening, but I'm curious myself, so the little devil sitting on my shoulder doesn't stop Jim. After a minute and the sound of a car starting and pulling away Jim straightens and walks to the kitchen island to lean on it.
"So?" I ask, anxious to hear.
"The person that called was a woman called Carter and they need both Jack and Daniel back at the mountain immediately and that the General apologizes. Then you shushed me like a five year old so I missed whatever else she had to say."
I roll my eyes, but hold my tongue and allow him to continue. "Going down the stairs Daniel asked Jack what it was, Jack replied that the To'kra had arrived with an emergency, something to do with a guy named Jacob and Stargates malfunctioning. Then the strangest thing happened."
"What?" I ask.
"Daniel told Jack to be quiet in case anyone was listening." I look down at my feet then back up to Jim's face, which is impassive. "Why is that Chief? What exactly did you and Daniel talk about while you were gone?" I mentally shiver, I hate it when Jim's voice goes that innocent sounding.
"Jim, it isn't like you think, I didn't just blab everything. Daniel knows me pretty well, and he just assumed a lot of things, as did I."
"Hmmmm," Jim replied as he took a drink of his coffee.
"Is that all you heard?"
"Yeah, except that Daniel told me not to be angry with you because he figured it out on his own."
I groan and rub my hands over my face. "Daniel was always the diplomatic one."
"I assume that maybe you got some intel from him?"
"Good. What's a Stargate?"
"Don't know, but I'll look it up on the internet tomorrow." And in a lame attempt to distract Jim from his secret being out I push him toward the couch and flick the remote to turn on the TV. The JAGS are playing and the best way to keep Jim occupied is to have to yell at the TV.