This was a scene I'd thought up while watching 'The Avengers' last winter. Originally I'd tried to find a way to incorporate it into plans for a longer fic, but the story I ended up outlining (coming soon) had no place for it. So, I've decided to just type it up and publish it as a one-shot.
I own neither The Avengers nor Stargate, nor Daniels' stash of coffee (though I wish I did). :)
The general who met them at the airport did not look at all impressed.
"I'm under direct orders from the president to make sure you folks get the full tour," he said without preamble. "Major General Jack O'Neill, two ells."
He shook their hands stiffly, his face giving away nothing of his feelings on the matter (if he was a Captain America fanboy he hid it well). They assumed he was doing this under protest, but his demeanour wasn't entirely hostile.
The plane took off almost immediately after they'd settled in. Once in the air, the general stood calmly and went to speak to the pilot.
"Looks like clear skies," he said when he'd sat back down. "We should be touching down in Colorado Springs in about four hours."
Tony's head snapped up from his Starkpad. "Colorado? Area 51's in Colorado?!"
The General looked at him blankly. "I'm not taking you to Area 51."
"Area 51's the back end of nowhere full of tunnels and geeks scurrying about from place to place clutching mugs full of bad coffee. I'm taking you to Area 52."
"Um, Bruce and I have no problem with that picture," Tony tried again. "Well, except for the bad coffee."
"But the rest of us do," Hawkeye interrupted. "If there's a more fun place to be, I'm all for going there. 'Sides, I've never even heard of an Area 52."
Tony looked to Steve, who shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, Tony, you're outnumbered."
Tony slumped backwards looked back down at his Starkpad with a pout. "I hate you all."
There were several cars waiting for them at the Colorado Springs airport.
"We're going to NORAD?" Tony asked when his Starkpad GPS calculated their most probable destination.
"No," said General O'Neill, his facial expression as stoic as ever, although Tony noticed there was a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. "We're going beneath NORAD."
"Hidden in plain sight by using a large, already-established military complex as a cover: that's clever," Natasha commented.
"Worked for us so far. I just hope none of you are claustrophobic."
Daniel Jackson wandered casually into the science lab and then paused in the doorway, raising an eyebrow at the scene before him.
Sam's workspace usually looked like a cluttered mess of innovation, but now it looked like the set of a science fiction movie had exploded all over it. The long table against the left wall had a spread of tools and rectangular-shaped objects that looked a bit like stone tablets (he wondered why they were here instead of the archaeology department). Beside the table stood a pedestal with a cylindrical artifact surrounded by sensors and instruments all pointing towards it and, presumably, taking measurements of some sort. At first glance it looked like the artifact was made of wood, but as Daniel took a few steps towards it to investigate, he realized wood wasn't quite that shiny, not even varnished wood. He also noticed symbols carved into its top and floral patterns on either end.
On the other side of the room, Sam and a man with a gotee and wearing civilian clothing huddled around a laptop in front of a holographic projection of the artifact, quietly talking a mile a minute.
Daniel walked up behind them and tapped Sam's shoulder with the coffee cup in his left hand while taking a sip of his own coffee. Sam turned to him. Her face lit up at the smell of coffee and she eagerly took the offered cup with a smile of gratitude.
"Mmm, thanks Daniel," she said. "When did you get back?"
"An hour ago."
"Hey, where's my coffee?" the civilian protested, looking forlornly at Sam's steaming cup. He looked vaguely familiar, but Daniel couldn't quite place him.
He shrugged. "Probably still in the mess hall."
"And why does she get coffee and I don't?"
"She brings me chocolate walnut cookies."
Sam grinned. "You're probably the only person on the planet who isn't sick of my chocolate walnut cookies yet."
Daniel grinned. "Good, more for me then." Then he turned to the civilian. "Sorry, Sam doesn't usually have guests down here. Didn't occur to me there'd be need for extra coffee."
Sam's grin turned impish. "That's okay, Daniel, you can make it up to us by making us coffee in your office later."
He narrowed his eyes at her as she half-turned to the man and mock-whispered: "He's got a stash of good stuff in there."
"Hey, that's classified information!"
Sam giggled. The man grinned. "So, you don't strike me as a soldier," he said, looking Daniel over critically.
"Nope, I'm one of the ones keeping them on their toes," said Daniel as he held out his hand. "Daniel Jackson."
"Tony Stark," said the man.
"Ahh, thought you looked familiar. Wait, that's today?"
"Apparently. So, you're a scientist?"
"Archaeologist and linguist."
Suddenly, the laptop gave off a loud beep. The scientists' attention immediately snapped back to the screen which was now generating new information.
"Oooh, now this is interesting," said Tony.
"Well, it's probably too low-level to be a weapon," said Sam, although she didn't seem completely convinced.
"Anything I can help with?" Daniel asked.
Tony looked up at him over his glasses. "I thought you said were an archaeologist?"
"Right, whatever, this is real science and we're geniuses. What could you possibly help with? Other than bringing coffee. I take mine black, by the way."
Daniel raised an eyebrow, but Tony had already turned his attention back to the computer screen. Sam winced apologetically and silently mouthed 'I'm sorry'. He waved her off – it wasn't like he wasn't used to it. He considered Rodney Mckay an almost-friend after all.
"Uh, there were some tablets found with the device," Sam said suddenly, pointing towards the long table against the wall Daniel had noticed earlier. "I'm not actually sure why they didn't take that straight to your department."
He smiled at her. "I'll take a look," he said.
She turned back to the computer screen and began studying... whatever it was the instruments were analyzing.
Daniel left them to it and wandered over to take a peek at the tablets. They were incredibly thin and definitely not made of stone - he couldn't quite identify the material (some sort of man-made polymer perhaps? Alien plastic?). The writing on them was minimal and fragmented. The language seemed to have Greek origins... Or at least the letters themselves looked Greek. The longer he studied it, the more he became certain the words on the tablet weren't actually forming complete sentences. Except perhaps for that cluster in the centre...
He ran his hand down the back of the tablet until he found a slight indentation. He pressed down and the tablet blinked at him, the letters rearranging themselves into a sequence. Oh. It was something like an e-reader. Huh. The words made more sense now...
"Daniel Jackson, it is good to see you back in good health."
Daniel's head snapped up and blinked. "Oh, hi, Teal'c," he said. "When did you get here?"
He glanced at the wall clock and realized an hour had somehow passed. He also realized he was sitting down and couldn't quite remember when that had happened. He also couldn't remember where he'd gotten the legal pad that was now sitting in front of him.
"Steven Rogers and I have just concluded our sparring session and have come to see if you, Samantha Carter and Tony Stark would like to join us for lunch," said Teal'c, face looking as stoic as ever to anyone who didn't know the Jaffa, but Daniel could tell he was practically beaming. Apparently it had been a good sparring session.
His eyes slid to Teal'c companion. There was no marking on the tall man's forehead, but otherwise he could've easily passed as a Jaffa warrior: wide shoulders, muscled arms and the stiff-backed bearing of a soldier. Daniel held his hand out to him.
"Hi, I'm Daniel Jackson," he said.
The man's smile was warm and friendly, his grip firm when he shook Daniel's hand. "It's good to meet you," he said. "You must be the Doctor Jackson everyone on base has been talking about. I'm Captain Steve Rogers. Call me Steve."
"Then I'm Daniel."
Daniel wracked his brain for the contents of the memo they'd received a week ago informing them about the Avenger's visit to the SGC. If he remembered correctly – which he usually did – there was only one member with an actual military title. Which meant he'd just been introduced to Captain America.
"So, do you suppose those two are going to let us drag them away?" Steve asked with a frown, looking to where Sam and Tony were completely absorbed in the blown-up holographic projection of the artifact and oblivious to the world around them.
Daniel shrugged. "Depends on how determined we are. Of course, we could always just bring them back a sandwich or something from the mess hall."
"That might be the easier option," Steve agreed.
Daniel frowned. "You know, I didn't think Sam had her holograms set up down here like this."
Steve shrugged. "It looks like one of Tony's. See, it's coming out of that tablet."
"Huh, that's neat."
"Have they discovered the purpose of the device yet?" Teal'c asked, looking down at the real, sold artifact as it sat on the table.
"Hm? Oh, it's a time capsule of sorts. Or more specifically, an archive."
"What do you mean?"
Daniel looked to the scientists hovering over the hologram, their gazes intent as they discussed it. Then he looked back to Teal'c – whose eyes were sparkling with amusement – and back to Steve.
"Do you like art?" he asked casually.
Steve blinked. "Yes. I was an art student once upon a time, but I don't see what-"
"Good, then you'll love this."
Daniel went over to the cylinder on the podium, gently moving one of the instruments to the side. He studied the floral designs; each end had four embossed flowers set in a circle amid a tangle of painted vines and leaves.
He placed his left hand over one end of the device, spreading his fingers so that he touched three of the four flowers and then, with his right, placed two fingers on the top-most flower in the circle. He waited 'till the count of four, when he could feel the flower beneath the fingers of his right hand heating up slightly, and then he carefully moved his fingers along the circle, running over each flower until he once again reached the top one.
The device began to hum quietly as the top of the cylinder split along an invisible seam and slid to the side, leaving a lit-up rectangular orifice in its wake. Daniel removed both hands from the device. Pale light shot out from the rectangle and formed a thin screen that hovered steadily in mid-air. As soon as the 'screen' stabilized, a series of pictures – icons – materialized on its surface. When Daniel looked down he saw three symbols had lit up on the side of the cylinder, just beneath the rectangular orifice.
Daniel studied them for a moment and then shrugged before pressing his fingers to the one on the left. In seconds, the multitudes of pictures were replaced with a single painting of a beautiful, verdant mountainside with a grazing herd of... something dark green and blue and vaguely horse-like. If horses had feathers – at least it looked a bit like feathers, but it could've also been long wisps of fur.
"Wow," said Steve as he stepped up to the painting.
"Indeed," said Teal'c
A few minutes later, Daniel heard the lab door open again and he turned to see Mitchell saunter in.
"Heya, Jackson," he said. "Congratulations on not coming down with whatever the hell SG-9 came down with. Not often you're the only one left standing at the end of a mission."
Daniel shrugged. "It's not disease, it's an allergic reaction. Doctor Lam made sure of that before we were allowed back on base. They're not sure why I didn't react, but they're analyzing soil and plant samples from my dig site just in case it was something there that protected me from the effects of whatever it was they reacted to. Of course, she thinks there's also a chance that I didn't have any reaction just simply because I'm already on anti-histamines. Which doesn't really make sense, but wouldn't be the weirdest thing they've ever protected me from."
"Oh wow, is that that thing that could be anything from a weather-manipulator to a bomb, to a really fancy intergalactic tape dispenser?" asked a blond man as he bounced past Mitchell. A petite redhead followed sedately behind them.
"Um, maybe?" said Daniel with amusement. That sounded like something Jack would say.
"What is it?" Mitchell asked him quietly.
"It seems to be an art archive. Mostly paintings or drawings, although we've come across a few representations of statues and frescoes. I think the people who built this device, used it to preserve a digital representation of their culture's art. I haven't had a chance to look at everything, but it makes me wonder if there are more of these things out there with different archives on them. Maybe another one for music or literature..."
"Okay, so why exactly are those two still hovering over the damn holograph if the thing's working?" the blond asked.
Daniel smirked. "Oh, they're trying to figure out how it works," he said. "Unfortunately, as someone who's not a real scientist I can't really help them with that."
Mitchell groaned. "Aw no, don't tell me: Stark said that, didn't he?"
"How did you figure it out then?" the redhead asked with a slightly raised eyebrow.
Daniel stuck his hands into his pockets and rocked back onto his heels. "Oh, I cheated," he said. "I read the manual."
She snorted in amusement. A hand clapped down on Daniel's shoulder and he turned to the blond grinning at him. "Dude, you are officially my favourite now," he said in-between snickers. Then he held his hand out. "Clint Barton. And I am never letting Stark live this one down."
Daniel grinned. "So, I think someone said something about lunch? Maybe they'll have it figured out by the time we get back."
"If they don't, you should tell Steve how to turn it on for them."
"I watched Daniel turn it on; it's not that difficult," said Steve absently from where he was staring at an intricate painting of a town during some sort of festival.
Half an hour later, Tony Stark stormed into the mess hall, followed by Sam, who looked like she was barely holding back her laughter. One look at the indignant, irate look on Tony's face had Daniel's entire table instantly bursting into peels of laughter. At which point Sam finally lost control over her own.
Tony glared at them.