Title: Earth Chapter Seven – A Future Promised
Word Count: 5396
Beta: Chris King and Keira Marcos
January 20, 2016
The Oval Office
“So, eight years.”
“Eight years and a lot of crises. The planet is still here and we have a logical plan in place to ease the SGC into the public eye,” Jack agreed.
Both men were sitting in the Oval Office, listening to the radio report on the inauguration. The new President had been VP under the exiting President, so he knew the score and Baqer could tell that the General wasn’t worried about policies changing radically.
“Before I leave here, and my authority is totally gone, I wanted to get one last update… Have we heard anything from Atlantis?” Baqer asked softly. The soon to be former President stood up and started walking around his (former) office, touching some of the many items he would be leaving behind. He was going to miss sitting at that desk.
O’Neill answered promptly, like always. “No. Not a word. Not from them at least, but we have heard from some of the natives. The last group we sent out to Pegasus said that Atlantis was well known and thriving. We still haven’t gotten a letter to them, but they have to know we are making an effort. That some of us are leaving a light on for them if they ever want to come home.”
Baqer nodded, satisfied with the news. Going back to being a private citizen was looking more and more like it would be a tough sell, even to himself. He had gotten used to being the one in charge, the one making the calls, and to be the one to take the heat. The now former President knew that he was used to getting the news as it happened, about everything and the delay that he would have as an ‘ordinary’ citizen listening to CNN was going to drive him wild. Unless he wrangled a job with the IOA, he was going to be out of the loop for the news from beyond the Gate. “Gonna miss keeping up with the news of our allies out there.” he said as he checked the drawers of his desk. Nothing left behind and someone had even dusted.
Jack only nodded and settled further into the couch he normally sat on. So many changes… Baqer sighed and dropped at the opposite couch. “So now what? Do I forget all that I learned about the SGC? Atlantis? The Ori? How did you not go mad when you were retired?”
Baqer watched the brown eyes of the man before him get hard and brittle of for a moment before they went carefully blank again. Even after all these years, that time was a very touchy subject. Taking a deep breath, he and held that gaze and said nothing, and didn’t let his eyes fall.
Jack snorted softly. “You’ll do,” he allowed. “So you know what we’ve been up to. You know who the threats are and how we handle things. You even know where some of the bodies are buried and in what backyards. Be the public face of the SGC. Give us the legitimacy and clout that we will need to make this unholy mess of a transition easier.”
Baqer tilted his head in thought and stared out the window. Stay in the loop and be a part of the defense of the planet versus retiring and working to forget the wonders and horrors that were out there among the stars? It was the easiest decision of his career. “When do I start?”
“Tomorrow if you can, sir.” There was no triumph in Jack’s tone and for that Baqer was grateful. “The Jaffa Nation is sending dignitaries to study on Earth. From what Teal’c said, they want to learn economics.”
“Economics? Like national level economics? And how to manage them? Why?” Baqer asked carefully.
Waggling his head from side to side in a considering gesture, Jack looked out the windows of the Oval Office at the pageantry outside, obviously thinking things over. “I would say that the Jaffa nation is growing quickly. Maybe that, with a side of microeconomics, and the related fields. I mean, most Jaffa as a whole, have a very good and practical understanding of polite politics. They don’t need our help with that.”
Baqer thought about the men and women he had met from that newborn nation. Political savvy was only one aspect of them and they wore it well. “No, they really don’t. So there are things for me to do to stay involved?”
“Oh yeah. lots of things,” Jack agreed.
Baqer Omidifar, former President of the United States of America sat back against the couch in the bare Oval Office and nodded. “Good.”
The General’s Office
“So Sam thinks that the site will match up with the records we have of the last face hugger we found and she wants to have a few ATA positive people go molest the walls until the thing pops out. Then she wants to get some of her engineers over there to see if we can remove it to allow us to study it under controlled conditions,” Daniel reported as he finished pouring his umpteenth cup of coffee that day.
Jack eyed the cup in askance and looked at his partner carefully. The return from the mission from hell had lead to a number of changes both personal and professional.
One of the biggest was how much caffeine Daniel could handle without shaking like a leaf. The coffee he was supposed to be drinking now contained roughly a quarter of what a normal cup would. Any stronger and Lam had informed Jack that the world would have to end to keep her from killing him for letting the archeologist have it. Excessive caffeine and Daniel no longer mixed well.
“Relax, Jack. It’s the blend that we had made just for me,” Daniel said reassured him quietly before taking another sip. “And I had a large bottle of plain water this afternoon too. If you worry over my health any more I will sic Teal’c on you.”
Jack snorted at that. Teal’c had regularly been able to kick his ass when he was on SG1. Now that he was running the Mountain and Homeworld, the Jaffa didn’t even bother to try and hide how much their sparring amused him. “Let’s be real, Danny, I’m old. And Teal’c laughs at both of us when it comes to our attempts at sparring nowadays. Now as far as it goes with Carter’s plan… do we have any ATA carriers who can go molest a wall or two? And are the engineers non-ATA’s who can handle the equipment safely?”
“Yes to both,” Daniel confirmed. Flipping through the paperwork he held, the archeologist juggled his coffee cup and papers with ease. Long practice had given him an enviable grace to his actions. “Also, my teams reported back that there has been no activity on the planet for at least one hundred years, possibly more. Sam has a group looking at what the DHD can tell us, but I am not holding out much hope for that.”
Jack rubbed his hands over his face as he thought about what he wanted his teams on P3H-496 to do. This was the second big change. Daniel had always been eager to go through the gate, to see what was out there and make new friends. Or if not new friends, to discover what had happened to the descendants to Earth’s involuntary Diaspora and record their history so it was no longer lost.
Now he was content to stay home and direct the exploration from afar. It still weirded Jack out on a regular basis, but it also made him a lot happier. Daniel wasn’t running around getting shot at on a weekly basis and that was a good thing. Turning his attention back to the issue at hand, O’Neill looked at the man power issues they were having and made a decision.
“I think, given how often those things have lead to chaos and mayhem, that we need to have a decent number of troops on site for this. I think SG’s 3,9 and 14 would be good, with a small detachment from the base security forces to act as general site guards. And ride herd on the collective geek squad,” Jack informed his partner.
“I’m telling them you called them the geek squad,” Daniel taunted, his eyes amused. “And yes, I can understand why you are adding so many. We have crappy luck with the head suckers and off world archeological sites. I’ve already informed Hunter that if he finds any Goa’uld skeletons, Unas marks or something just feels off, he is to come home at once. He gave me his word.”
“Hunter is a good kid. I’m glad we tapped him to lead the off-world science group. If nothing else, he has enough seniority to pull everyone else along and get them back through the gate,” Jack agreed. The scientists under Daniel’s control mostly weren’t and it was like herding cats to get them to do anything.
Well it had been. Change number three had been the iron fist that the archeologist had used to pull the science section back into the light after they had been allowed to slide into the dreaded ‘results only’ territory under Balok. Jackson and Carter hadn’t been amused and had gotten their points across in ways that were very painful for a number of people. The incidents of injury and sabotage had stopped very quickly.
They worked quietly for several moments before the phone in the outer office rang. Jack didn’t even bother to look up from the report he was reading. If it was important, Walter would route the call in to him. Otherwise, whomever it was, could deal with his pet dragon. Otherwise known as the ‘Chevron Guy’.
Samantha Carter, Colonel in the US Air Force and a Doctor in Astrophysics and Engineering hummed to herself as she carefully put together a naquadah generator. She had assembled many of the little powerhouses over the years. So many that she had honestly lost count since she had built her first one. She still thought fondly of Merrin when she looked at the squat machines. And every time she turned one on, she got a rush of accomplishment.
There were so many things she had learned from their allies. Things that she didn’t even think about any more. Sam hadn’t realized how much she had internalized until the declassification process started and she had to go back over those early reports. Looking back on them from so many years distance, she was amazed at what they had seen and done. And how she had changed.
She wasn’t quite as idealistic as she had been. She wasn’t as willing to take technology as the answer to all ills and the answer to everything. And she really wasn’t all that trusting of anyone who wasn’t Team or even SGC. That lesson had been one of the hardest to learn and it had taken a lot of field missions to beat it fully into her head. Although her second trip through the gate with the guys had resulted in her wearing a dress and she had thought she had learned it then. It had taken a while longer for the lesson truly to sink home.
Sam wiped her hands on a spare rag and smiled at her finished chore while thinking of that mess of a mission. The General still owed her a beer from then and if she was lucky, Daniel had cooked dinner. Checking her watch, she nodded. She was starving.
Grabbing her desk phone, she called down to the General’s office. “Walter? Is the General in?”
The Chief Master Sergeant didn’t even bother to ask why before he transferred her over. “Carter, why in the world are you calling me at 1600? Is there something wrong? Is the world ending?”
Sam snickered into the phone and then cleared her throat. “The world is fine and should keep spinning around the sun for a while, sir. I was calling because I wanted to cash in on a favor you owe me.”
The silence on the other end of the line was heavy for a moment and Carter was reminded, yet again, that her boss was one of the best actors she knew. He played dumb so often that even she bought it at times. But he was sharp, smart and able to put together whole pictures from the smallest clues.
“And the favor would be what, Carter?”
“Nothing involving death, destruction or world endage. I swear, sir,” she said sincerely. “I am just hungry, I have no real food at home and I was hoping to be able to beg dinner from Daniel.”
The feeling at the other end of the line got lighter and she breathed out a mental sigh of relief. “I think we can do that. And yeah, that is a favor I don’t mind you cashing in. Since I won’t count it as one anyway. Can you pick up some beer on your way over?”
“Done, sir. What type?” she asked as she started to close out all the little things that meant her lab was in use.
“I really don’t care. I would guess something dark though. And ‘world endage’? Have you been watching Buffy again?” her boss asked. She could hear the creak of his chair as he sat back in it.
“Yup,” she agreed cheerfully. “Cassie was down for the weekend and we spent the whole time binging on it. We’re up to season three and have plans to get to the rest the next time she is in town.”
“Cool. Okay, I’ll see you at the house at 1830 and I’ll let Daniel know you will be joining us for dinner. With beer,” the General agreed cheerfully before hanging up.
She wasn’t stupid enough to think that the subject was totally dropped, but the General could be counted on getting to the point when he felt like it, so Sam put it out of her mind for the moment. She needed to pick up some good beer after she closed up shop.
A quick twist and pull on the power supply for the generator removed the problematic piece and Carter made certain to secure it in the special wall safe she had made certain to have installed when she had taken over the lab she was in. It was buried right into the stone of Cheyenne Mountain itself, not the concrete that the Air Force had used to even out and standardize the inside walls of the installation. It would take leveling the facility or an Asgard cruiser to get what was stored inside.
She glanced around her lab quickly and confirmed that nothing else was out that shouldn’t be and locked her door on the way out. Cheyenne Mountain was a very secure facility, but well… shit had happened before and she didn’t want to come back to clean up someone else’s mess. A quick shower and change into civilian clothes and she could be on her way. Dinner a la Daniel was always a good bet.
The thing about cooking for his team what that most of the people who made it up weren’t fussy eaters. There were, thankfully, no food allergies or outright hated items, but Daniel was still careful when he cooked for them. Jack was about as easy going as they came when food was placed before him and for that, the archeologist was grateful. And that his partner was willing to eat more than badly barbequed steak and potatoes.
Since he had decided to retire from fieldwork, Daniel had started to actually use the kitchen he had access to in the home he shared with Jack. Instead of easily reheated meals that spent more time in the freezer than on his plate, he had actual food and the ingredients to make more available. Which meant that since Sam was coming over for dinner, he needed to figure out something to eat.
Staring blankly at the contents of the refrigerator was getting him nowhere, so he took a deep breath and grabbed what they had on hand. One rotisserie chicken, some cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes and homemade balsamic vinaigrette were pulled out and put on the counter to be prepped for dinner. A quick dip into the drawer were he stored their cheeses revealed a tub of mini mozzarella balls in water and he pulled that out as well. The bag of peaches and cherries were pulled out of the crisper and Daniel hesitated over the bottle of heavy cream before grabbing it.
The chicken was one that they had gotten the night before and it was the work of only a few moments to break it down into pieces and place it on a platter for later eating cold. The cucumbers and red onions were easily sliced into a bowl with the mandolin he had brought over when he moved in. A generous portion of the mozzarella and tomatoes went in with the vegetables and were tossed with the vinaigrette before being covered and placed back in the fridge with the chicken.
Daniel took a brief break to clean his workspace and then went to town on the heavy cream and some vanilla sugar he had stored. The whole fluffy mess got covered and stored before he cut the fruit he had up and lightly sugared the bowl before setting it aside. He was contemplating broiling them, but decided to leave that decision until after dinner. A quick check of the bread box showed a loaf of good sourdough and he turned the oven on low before popping the loaf in to warm.
Prep work complete, Daniel quickly cleaned everything up and put away the extra supplies. Whatever they didn’t eat tonight, he was determined to bring to work as his lunch the next day. He might actually be able to eat it at the regular time too.
When arms slid around his waist, he jumped slightly. No matter how many times he tried to listen closely for him, Jack was able to sneak up on him. Leaning back into embrace, Daniel breathed deeply of the scent that was unique to his partner. “I am getting you a bell and making certain that you can’t remove it when I put it on you.”
Jack just snickered into his neck and kissed it before responding. “Won’t work, Dannyboy, but I’ll give you points for trying.”
Daniel turned around in his lovers embrace and made certain to kiss him properly. The General was still in his BDU’s and the archeologist was very happy to be able to run his hands up under the uniform blouse and gently pull the underlying t-shirt out of the way. Jack had spent a lot of time getting back into shape after letting himself go a bit while he was gone. All the extra weight the older man had carried was gone and he was as lean and agile as Daniel remembered.
“I will find a way to track you, Jack. I really will,” Daniel vowed before kissing him again briefly. “Now go change out of your uniform. Any idea why Sam wanted to hit us up for a meal?”
“At a guess from what she said,” Jack replied as he started walking down the hallway to their bedroom, “she has no food at all in her house and Cassie was up this past weekend. Per our conversation, they binged out on a Buffy marathon, so if she did have food, it’s long gone. But she did promise to bring beer, when she comes over.”
Ah, the light dawned. Daniel muttered to himself as he worked to set the table. None of SG1, either past or present, were great about having food in the house for more than a day. When he had been part of the active unit, he hadn’t even bothered to try to keep more than coffee at his house. His bills had been paid on an automatic schedule, his credit cards had been on file with the local places that he liked to eat at and who delivered and he had had no pets beyond some fish that died a lot. The archeologist had basically been living the life of a long term bachelor.
He much preferred living with Jack. Who still had his bills paid automatically, but that was for convenience more than anything else. There was actual food in his fridge now, he drank more than coffee all day long and he managed to sleep most nights through with fewer and fewer nightmares. Moving off the Team had done wonders for his stress levels. Even if he couldn’t manage to mainline highly caffeinated coffee anymore. He didn’t miss the joys of getting shot at either.
“Hey, guys! I brought beer!” Sam called as she came in the front door. It had taken them almost twenty years, but each of them were comfortable enough now to just walk into each other’s homes. Well, it had taken Sam that long to walk into Jack’s place. The promotion to O-6 had helped a lot in that, as had the personal invitation that the General had extended to her.
She was still careful to call out and let them know she had come in the door. Surprising the General was still a bad idea, plus she had no want or need to see the two of them having sex ever again. As nicely built as Daniel was, Sam was very certain she had no need to know what he looked like when he was getting some. No matter how much she was certain that Janet would have loved to have seen what she had seen.
Then again, Janet had been a giant perv who had wondered many times how pretty the two men would be when they made love.
Sam pushed aside the pang of old grief she felt for her missing friend and walked through the dining room into the kitchen. A quick peek showed that the dining table was set and she could smell the bread heating up oven. Whatever dinner was, she was going to eat every bite of it. She was famished and lunch had been a long time before. “Daniel? You in?”
“Hey Sam!” The happy voice of the man who was in most ways, her best friend came floating out of the room Jack had converted to his office. It was tucked away behind the kitchen, and Sam was fairly certain that the General had done that on purpose. If there was ever a subtle way for the older man to try and get his partner to eat, that was about as subtle as he got.
At least Daniel was no longer mainlining coffee and calling it food. Which, to be fair, he hadn’t done since his second year with the program, but memories were long and she still worried over him. The beer went into the fridge and she almost drooled over the salad that was in there. She recognized the dressing and was hoping that there would be enough to sop up with the bread. “Is there anything I can help with?” she asked once the beer was stored.
“Nope. We’re good. Now what brought this on?” Daniel asked as he leaned against the cabinet next to her.
“Thinking about things past and realizing we hadn’t spent a lot of time together recently. Plus I was hungry, my cupboards are bare and the hope that you would feed me,” she said with a shrug.
“All you ever have to do is ask, Sam. Besides, it got Jack home on something like time. Think I can get you to ask about once a week?” Daniel asked with a broad grin.
“Not gonna work, Danny. And you are just as bad as I am about overworking,” Jack called as he walked down the hallway from their bedroom.
“Damn it,” the younger man groused with a smile. “Well, I tried. Help me get dinner out?”
Dinner was a lively affair between the three of them. Full of jokes, memories and catching each other up on the news from their various jobs. The SGC was just big enough that the only two people who seemed to stay on top of all the gossip were Walter and Siler, and none of the three of them had any idea how the men managed it.
“So, I’ve gotten to the point where I am about ready to park a CD player with a speaker on the planet where Atlantis used to be and just start blaring it out for anyone to hear. I mean, we haven’t gotten anywhere with the whole, ‘It wasn’t us being assholes, come talk’ thing,” Sam complained.
“Might help,” Jack allowed.
“Well, so far, it hasn’t,” she said, slightly hurt. They had tried everything that she knew how to do, had talked to everyone that the Expeditions records had shown that they were friendly with and still nothing. Not even a coded message from Jon or Danny. It was maddening.
“When they want to talk to us, they will. We can’t rush them, Sam. And can you blame them for being careful?” Daniel asked as he sipped at his one beer. He was still a lightweight when it came to beer, especially the strong craft beers that the astrophysist bought.
“No, I can’t,” she allowed.
Jack took a final pull of his beer before setting it down and picking up his plate. “Thank you for the beer, Sam. And Daniel? Dinner was as great as it always was. But we all need to get some sleep. Especially you, Colonel. Don’t you have a lecture at the Academy tomorrow?”
Blinking, Sam pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked her calendar. There in flashing red letters was a reminder that she did indeed have a lecture to give. At 1000. Thankfully, that would give her enough time to sleep in a bit and get her uniform ready. “Right. Thank you for the reminder, sir.”
The slip back into the ingrained habits of a lifetime was… Comfortable now. She rarely imagined herself being with the General anymore, because it was obvious to anyone that Daniel was it for the older man. While he had been upset and pissed off when she had been hurt, he had totally shut down and freaked out whenever something happened to the Archeologist. And the less said about the times Daniel died, the better.
“Get going Carter. And thanks for the company. I’ve got the clean up. You get ready for the kiddies and the zillions of questions they’ll have,” the General said with a smile and a wave.
“Need me to get any information for you?” Daniel asked as he walked her to her car after she hit a small button on her remote. Yes, she was aware that he knew that she was a very experienced field operative, that she was completely able to take care of herself, but… He did it every time she came over.
Leaning over, she carefully hugged him, mentally measuring how sturdy he felt in her arms. While they had been gone, the archeologist had seemed to slow fade away until he was only a thin ghost in her arms. He had only really come back when they had seen the General on the ground, waiting for them to show up and eat some pie. It was only after the fact that Sam had figured out that Daniel had been well on his way to Ascending again in an effort to reach Jack.
“I’ve got everything. And I know, if I need you, I can call and you will get it for me pretty quickly,” she said quietly.
“If you are sure?”
“Yup. All good to go,” she confirmed with another careful squeeze.
The arms that were holding her were warm and solid and she was so damn happy that they were there. “I’m not gonna leave now, Sam. Everything I need is here,” Daniel whispered softly in her ear.
“You had better stay. No more running away to join the glowy assholes and leaving us behind. Okay?” she whispered back.
“Okay,” he agreed. “Now, it is damn cold out here and I need to get back inside and you need to get home. I’ll see you tomorrow after the lecture?”
Sam gave him one last squeeze before sliding out of his embrace to open her car up. She adored the invention of starting her car from the house and having it be warm when she got into it. Colorado Springs got damn cold in the winter after all. “I’ll see you tomorrow. And I’ll even bring you some good Danishes back too.”
Eyes fond, Daniel waved as she closed the door. “Tease!” was all she heard as she carefully backed down the drive and pulled into the street. The archeologist waited until she was facing home before moving back towards his front door and the warmth of the house. Sam smiled as she watched him enter. Even if she didn’t have someone waiting on her at her own house, she knew that she was welcome at this one. And it was a warm and happy feeling.
Heart lighter for the realization, she headed home.
The house was almost at desert heat compared to the freezing cold of the outside and Daniel shivered once before he settled back into warmth of his home.
He was careful, as always, to look the door and set the alarm. Warm and safe behind the means and methods Jack used to keep him secure, Daniel walked back into the living room. In the short time he had been outside, the fire had been set and lit, Daniel took a deep breath and smiled as he smelled one of the many blends of coffee he kept in canisters as an after dinner treat.
The one that was brewing was a richly mocha mix with just enough bitter to it to be interesting. Like all the rest of the coffee he stocked now, the blend had less than 25% of the caffeine than what a normal cup had. Which didn’t mean he drank any more or less of the stuff than he had before, he had learned that lesson. The archeologist actually just liked the flavor of the drink.
Well, he did now that he could afford to indulge his inner coffee snob.
“Need me to help?” the archeologist called as he toed off his shoes before curling up on the couch.
“Nope. You didn’t leave me much to do any way, Danny,” Jack called from the kitchen.
”I know. Do you want to watch a movie tonight?” he asked.
Deep laughter greeted his query and he tilted his head back to see what had amused his partner. “Sure. But no Star Wars or even Oz. I was thinking about Teal ‘c and how he loved movies. How about something from the ‘Fast and Furious’ universe?”
“In the mood for explosions and car chases? I can get behind that,” Daniel commented as he leaned forward to grab the remote. Quickly paging through the offerings, he picked number six… It was full of explosions and car chases. The movie was easy enough to cue up and he quickly hit mute as the commercials at the start began to play.
“Always,” Jack agreed as he placed a thermal carafe on the end table beside the chaise lounge attached to the couch with a small bottle of real cream. “Besides, the scenery and the scenery in the movie is great too.”
Daniel didn’t disagree at all. After years of movie nights with the team, he was happy to watch a movie that he could just enjoy without thinking on it. The archeologist accepted the cup of coffee from talk and snuggled into his lovers side as the older man settled onto the chaise.
Hot, rich coffee, the love of his life and a guy themed movie on the TV? His life was damn good. Daniel let himself get sucked into the story and relaxed into the peace he had earned.