thothmes: O'Neill Salutes.  "Thanks to All Who Serve" (Thanks To All Who Serve)
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Well it's Memorial Day here in the States, so the icon seemed appropriate.

Title: O is for Ordinary Things for Episode Tied Alphabet Soup

Author: Thothmes

Season: Four. The episode is Beneath the Surface.

Warnings: Nah. Oh, wait! There's talking with a mouth full. I'm the Manners Queen at my house, and that's a capital offense here. Does that count?

Disclaimer: Like the folks on the planet in Beneath the Surface, I'm just borrowing SG-1 (and a few others) and I promise I'll return them, a little cleaner. Unlike the folks of P3R-118, I let them have showers! Gekko, MGM, etc., you should thank me!





O is for Ordinary Things


Janet Fraiser walked briskly into the infirmary, a heavy red tome under her arm, and proceeded directly to the large coffee urn in the corner that was her ostensible reason for being there. Years of medical training had taught her a thing or two, and one of them was how to get coffee from one of these industrial urns one handed, and she proceeded to show that skill with unconscious grace. There was plenty of coffee on offer at the nurse’s station in the infirmary, of course, but that was a small carafe, and as it sat it tended to become both very strong and notably bitter. If anyone asked, she was here for the less toxic brew available here.

She hoped no one would ask, and to that end, she sat herself down at a table in the corner with a good view of the one that SG-1 habitually took, and propped the heavy medical text upright and open to act as a bit of a screen. She was here to observe, not to be observed. She checked that her pager was on in case she should be needed, although it was doubtful. Supervisor Brenna was under Dr. Warner’s excellent care in the O.R., getting her arm tended to, and SG-1 had been queried, examined, and sent off to the showers, with orders to remain on base until she had cleared them to leave. Siler’s injury of the day had been an electrical burn so minor that Janet had left him in the care of one of the nurses.

There was something going on with SG-1, and before Janet cleared them, she was going to get to the bottom of it all.

Teal’c, as always, claimed that he was fine, that although he had been sick for a time when he had gone too long without kel’no’reem, he had recovered his memory in time to ensure a full return to health. To the best of her knowledge, Teal’c had never lied to her. She was inclined to believe him now.

Daniel was a bit broody, but had offered up that he was just thinking, comparing Daniel to Carlin. It was, he said, a fascinating study in personality development, and no, to the best of his knowledge he had no memory deficits. Then his blue eyes had twinkled mischievously. “Of course, if I did, how would I know?” he said. That was the sixty four thousand dollar question, right there.

It was Sam and the Colonel that had her most worried. Something was going on with them. There was a lot of studious not saying and not looking going on between those two, and the Colonel was uncharacteristically not trying to make her laugh, or anyone else for that matter. And red flag of red flags, they both said that everything was fine. Janet had seen Sam put away an alarming amount of wine sitting on the sofa in Janet’s living room being “fine”, and the Colonel was forever insisting that he was “fine” even as he left a visible blood trail behind him. Janet would believe fine when she saw it, and that was why she was here.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle had its own peculiar application to SG-1 teams. Observation made them twitchy. Janet had gotten a bit of a read on position in the infirmary. Hopefully watching them in more relaxed surroundings would give her a read on momentum. They should be trooping in soon. Sam had been given orders to eat after her shower. She had been notably underweight, and Janet had put her on light duties until she had gained some of that weight back. Teal’c was reliably hungry, and Janet assumed that a meal would become a team event.

First into the commissary was Teal’c. Ever the consummate warrior, he scanned his surroundings as he entered, noting every person, their positions, expressions, and no doubt, whether they were armed. They were not, unless he included the large metal serving spoon in Airman Pizzigalli’s hand. As his eyes rolled over Janet, he cocked his head, ever so slightly, and raised an eyebrow. Janet tried her best to look casual and innocent. Channeling one of her childhood role models, she thought to herself Dammit, Jan, you’re a doctor, not an actress!. In spite of the ever deepening sensation that she should go and confess all, Teal’c soon turned away, and proceeding through the serving line, he made sure that the Airman’s serving spoon got plenty of use, filling a tray with the equivalent of three or four hefty human meals, and carried it off to SG-1’s usual spot, choosing the chair that backed against the wall, and had a good view of the door.

Daniel was next. He grabbed two cups of coffee, added plenty of sugar to each, and carrying them in his right hand, deftly snatched up a chocolate-glazed doughnut, and putting it on one of the thick industrial plates nearby, paused for a moment, then shook his head, and took the single treat and his two cups of coffee over to the table, settling across from Teal’c, with his back to the door. The boy might have a terrible sweet tooth, but he seldom let it get completely out of hand. From where Janet was sitting, Daniel was in profile. The expression of lascivious and orgasmic delight on the man’s face as he took his first long sniff of one of the coffee cups before taking his first sip almost had Janet blushing, and she nearly looked away as Daniel raised the mug to his lips and closed his eyes, the better to appreciate the blissful first sip.

Colonel O’Neill’s entry filled her with despair. If he scanned the room it was perfunctory, but that was not surprising, considering that Teal’c was probably the first thing he spotted coming in the door, and the warrior’s carriage, although no less erect than usual, showed no sign of tension or wariness. The Colonel moved with his customary slight swagger, and nothing he did bothered Janet until he filled his tray. Black coffee. A burger, no doubt with cheese, and certainly with plenty of ketchup. Fries and mashed potatoes and a handful of butter pats to go with them. Apple pie and a piece of carrot cake. Not a single piece of fresh fruit or any vegetable unless, like the government bureaucracy in charge of school lunch regulations, you counted the ketchup. Janet didn’t. If his knees ever got to the point that he was forced to take a desk job, Jack was going to lose what he jokingly referred to as his “girlish figure” in a matter of months. Janet held back a sigh, and Jack settled down by Teal’c, leaving the space between Daniel and himself for Sam.

Sam would have inspired similar despair, slipping in unobtrusively and seeking out a large salad, an orange, and a yoghurt before settling between Jack and Daniel, if it weren’t for the fact that before she could even lift her fork, Jack had transferred the mashed potatoes, the butter pats, and the carrot cake to her tray.

“Doc says you’re underweight,” he said.

“Sir.” It was a plea. “I haven’t had fresh fruit or a salad in weeks!”

“The mushy stuff had veggies, Carter. Yeah, they’d lost the will to live, but they were there. You missed a lot of those bready-biscuity things, as I recall.”

“Sir, that’s too much, and with the butter—”

“Ahht! That’s an order, Carter. Eat up.” Or words to that effect. It was not easy to make it out, given that Janet was a several yards away, and the Colonel had plenty of burger in his mouth as he said it.

Teal’c, silently working his way through the mountain of food before him was the first of the team that Janet crossed off her worry list. As far as she could tell, there was nothing at all out of the ordinary going on with him. Daniel was next. His long and passionate analysis of the difficulties facing the society of P3R-118 as they tried to reintegrate the subterranean workers back into the upper world might have been giving Jack indigestion, if the Colonel’s face was anything to go on, but it was utterly in character, and the fact that Dr. Jackson, like the academic he was, was able to cite reference works and anthropological studies with no noticeable pause in the flow of verbiage told Janet that his memory was just fine.

That left Sam and Jack. Were they quiet because something was off, or was it simply because with Daniel in full flood, they couldn’t get a word in edgewise? And how worried should Janet be that Jack let him? Shouldn’t he have cut him off by now? It was entirely possible that Sam’s silence was because she felt out of her depth in the soft sciences, and it would be entirely characteristic of her to be tight-lipped to avoid giving any clues that she wasn’t a master of it all. There was nothing Sam hated more than demonstrating ignorance. As Janet pondered this, she also noted the fairly large blob of chocolate icing that Daniel had somehow managed to get on the tip of his nose, no doubt distracted by the point he was trying to make so earnestly.

She was not the only one. Jack stopped making that pinched, pained expression that Daniel’s lectures so often produced, and now he wore a subtle smirk. Leaning slightly toward Sam, he elbowed her gently in the ribs. Her head tilted slightly as she looked up at him. He picked up his napkin, and under the guise of using it to wipe his mouth, touched it to his nose. He gestured ever so subtly with his chin. She glanced at Daniel, and then elbowed her commanding officer, whispering something. He grinned, shook his head, and moving the mostly consumed salad away, placed the carrot cake in its place.

“Daniel,” said Sam, “You have a…” and waved her fork in the general direction of his nose.

“It is most undignified,” added Teal’c, and the Colonel half stood and leaned over to wipe it off using his own napkin, before Daniel could raise his from his lap.

Daniel batted rather unconvincingly at the invading cloth, and protested.

“Jaack! I can clean my own face!”

Sam’s fork hovered over the slice of cake, but she went no further.

“Sir, do I really have to?” she asked, and Daniel stopped flapping his hands, as Jack sat down, looking wounded and raising the napkin to his chest in a coy gesture that would have done credit to the heroine of a Victorian melodrama.

For a moment Janet expected him to throw back his head and utter a shivery, fainting moan like the girl on the tombstone from the introduction to Mystery on PBS, but instead he just whined.

“I gave you my cake, Carter! Greater love hath no man than this, that he shall give you his cake!”

Sam ducked her head in a way that Janet knew meant she was trying not to smile at his antics.

SG-1 was going to be fine. Janet settled in to wait for them to leave. They were due to meet her in the infirmary in an hour. She’d wait for them to leave, and then go sign their discharge from her supervision before they got there. No sense in letting them know they were being observed.

Teal’c finished his tray and left first, with a nod of parting. Daniel and Sam left next, as soon as she finished her cake. Jack finished off the few bites of mashed potatoes that Sam had not, and swiped a finger across the cake plate to get any last bit of icing she might have left. He took his coffee, and searched with a fingertip for anything that might be floating in it, took a sip, and grimaced. Apparently he didn’t much care for lukewarm coffee. Janet could relate.

As an airman began to bus SG-1’s table, Janet prepared to rise, only to look up into the eyes of Jack O’Neill. Damn, the man can move silently when he tries!

No half smirk, this time. This was the full-on complete smirk.

Williams Obstetrics? Get much call for that here at the SGC?” he asked, and not waiting for an answer, he strolled out the door.

“You’ll be glad I’m an expert when some alien decides you can carry a fetus to term, Sir!”

“Eeeewwww!” drifted back.


********************


Teal’c was the first to reach home, of course, since he lived on base. He swiped his card, returned it to his pocket, and entered his quarters. He was beginning to feel some discomfort from having eaten quite so much. Not that it was more than he ordinarily consumed, but it had been quite some time since he had been given the freedom to do so. His stomach was no longer accustomed to consuming so much in one sitting. He looked at the time display on his DVD player, a gift from Major Carter, and made some simple calculations. He would kel’no’reem, and let his symbiote help with the indigestion. Then he would avail himself of the weights in the gym and have breakfast. SG-1 was on stand down for a few days. He was looking forward to relaxing for a time after that, and watching Oprah.

He began to arrange his pillows and his candles in just the way he liked them, straightening and nudging until all was to his satisfaction, and then retrieving the box of matches from the drawer of his desk, he began to light the candles, one by one. His favorite were the beeswax candles, redolent of home, reminding him of childhood, and of the years of Ry’ac’s infancy, but even odd scent of paraffin that the Tau’ri so often used was soothing and familiar. He turned off the electric lights, and seated himself on his large pillow, surrounded by the flickering lights. He was home.


********************


Daniel struggled with the lock on his door. Ordinarily, this would have been annoying, but now it was a welcome sign that nothing had changed in his absence. One of these days, he’d spring for a locksmith to come out and make a key that was more suited to the lock, and allowed it to move smoothly but for—

There! He was in.

He stood for a moment, gazing at all the pieces that he and his parents had collected through the years. Almost all of them were reproductions. Daniel knew the makers, and some of them were truly masters of the art of forgery. To actively collect genuine antiquities was to encourage the market for illegally looted and stolen works, and neither his parents nor Daniel would condone that. After his time with Nem, he had made an accounting of his pieces, with pictures, so that if he died, someone else would know which pieces were real and which fake. He ran his hand gently over his Hounds and Jackals board, a genuine piece, and a highly unethical gift from the man who had been head of the Egyptian Antiquities Department at the time of the death of his parents, a gift to a grieving boy who had visited it often in a small provincial museum, whose curator had nowhere near the clout he would need to prevent the removal of this one object by the powerful Director. Tomorrow Daniel would have to dust. And maybe now that he had a few days of down time, he would carve out a few hours to call some of his contacts in the Antiquities Department. The Director had died a few months ago, and his family was now living in France, Daniel had heard. It was time for the Hounds and Jackals to return to Egypt, where they belonged.

Moving to the bookcases, he ran his fingers along the spines of the right shelf, until he found the right book, bound in red cloth, with a black cloth title plate, lettered in faux gold. W.H. Stevenson, Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt. When he was a child his mother would make him wash his hands before she would let him handle it, with its diagrams of architectural plans and details, and the fascinating chronological progression of black and white photos in the back. Daniel looked at his hands. Clean enough. He pulled it out, and without opening it, raised it to his nose, and sniffed. The same familiar scent, first encountered in youngest childhood, never changing, never fading, right up to today. As always, it whispered “Home!” to him.


********************


Jack opened the door, juggling a paper grocery bag and a six pack of Guinness in his other hand. Proceeding directly to the kitchen, he pulled a clear plastic container full of salad, dotted with tomatoes and round slices of cucumber and sprinkled with carrot shreds, out of the bag, and then a bottle of Greek salad dressing and a smaller container, this time full of blueberries. He took the blueberries over to the sink and rinsed them, and then fumbled in a drawer for a bottle opener, and in another for a fork. He took the two containers, the salad dressing, and a bottle of Guinness over to the table, and put them down. Before he took a seat he popped the cap off the bottle, and took a long swig of the dark liquid, giving a satisfied sigh at the familiar dark flavor. Then he sat down put some dressing on the salad, and began to eat. The blueberries were for dessert. Carter had been right. They hadn’t had fresh fruit or vegetables for a looong time. But he’d seen Doc watching him in the commissary. No way he was going to let her think she’d won with all her lectures on getting those seven servings in!

He had a plan. He’d eat this, and then he was going outside. He’d do something about the lawn, which was getting uppity and planning world domination, and then when night fell, he’d spend time up on the deck on the roof, looking at the stars from Earth. If he could help it, he would only be inside from now until he had to report back to the SGC to eat, to sleep, and to attend the call of nature. He was sick of being indoors in windowless space. He intended to drink in as much sun, fresh air, wind, and the sight of green and growing things as he was able.

Still, he would know, really know, that he was home when he looked up into the clear dry Colorado skies, and saw the stars of home.


********************


Sam was an Air Force brat. She had grown up expecting to move often, and seldom with much notice. She had learned at her mother’s knee how to pack up her worldly possessions, and then unpack them when she reached the new posting. She had learned which things needed to be carried from place to place, and which were better to replace when she had reached her destination. She had learned young that home was not the walls that surrounded you, or the placement of the furniture. Home had no defining smell, no particular color scheme, and certainly no common weather conditions, or even necessarily a common diet. The food in Germany had been pretty much like home, as it had mostly come from the groceries section of the commissary on base, with familiar brands and ingredients brought in from the States, but the food in England was different, with unfamiliar cuts of meat, strange new varieties of apples and pears, and oddly named but delicious candy bars.

No, when Sam came home, she planned to go back to her bedroom, change into her leathers, and go for a ride on her bike, because the fresh air, the edgy speed, and the wind in her hair were all calling to her. The last thing she wanted was to be surrounded by more walls. But when she got in the door, she found herself wandering from room to room, looking at the pictures scattered about, rubbing a finger over a frame here, and touching the glass over a face there, and straightening out the placement of a few of them.

Wherever in the world the Carter family went, the last box Sam’s mother had packed up, and the first box she opened when they got to their new home was the box with the pictures. The pictures made a house a home.


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A Few Words From The Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.
-The Maxims of Ptahotep

In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.
- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.
-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
-Wendell Berry

Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
-Robert Burns

Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.
-Ch'ien Ch'i

Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.
-Pindar

Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.
-Nathalia Crane

I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.
-Samuel Coleridge