by Layton Colt
"No, no, no. The worst was when you had the Ma'chello virus."
"Really? You think so? I always thought the worst was my sarcophagus addiction."
"I thought it was when Hathor took over the base and um..."
"And I believed it to be the time that you were abducted by the creature Nem."
"Oh, right. Those were bad too…" Daniel nodded. "But I think I'm going to have to stick with sarcophagus addiction."
MacKenzie's pen fell from his hand and his eyes widened as he watched the four members of SG-1 incredulously. All the psychiatrist had asked was that they start on one of the team's most traumatic events. Dr. Daniel Jackson had cheerfully volunteered to be first, and he and his team had then begun trying decide which of his many traumas to discuss first.
MacKenzie held up a hand. "Please stop, this is not what I had in mind."
"Oh, we're sorry," Daniel and Jack snapped out in perfect synchronicity.
MacKenzie's eyes grew wider. That was the third time they had done that in the last ten minutes. He was starting to think he was out of his league.
"Why don't we start with the 'death' of Dr. Jackson. How did it--"
Jack held up a finger. "Not, death, Doctor. Daniel simply ascended to a higher plane of existence. It really isn't the same."
MacKenzie sighed. "Of course not. How did his ascension affect you as a team, then?"
"Well, it made us a man short, to start," Jack nodded.
"Indeed," Teal'c intoned quietly. "Our team was missing its spirit and its heart. It took a great long while for us to heal, a process that was never quite complete, even with the help of Jonas Quinn."
MacKenzie gave Teal'c a grateful look. It just figured the one he could rely on to cooperate was the alien.
"Why, Teal'c!" Daniel grinned. "I didn't know you cared so much. I'm the spirit?"
"I think Teal'c got confused," Jack said. "I think he meant annoying conscience and--"
"Whining moral voice," Sam put in.
Daniel deflated. "Oh."
Teal'c nodded. "Indeed. Those titles do seem far more appropriate."
MacKenzie placed his head in his hands.
"Well, you guys did miss me, didn't you?"
"Of course we did, Daniel!" Jack snapped. "That's why I added the no ascending rule right beside the no touching rule and the no wandering off rule."
"That's a lot of rules, Jack," Daniel said in mock-seriousness.
"Just try your best, Danny. That's all I ask. And if you happen to forget one, well, I'll be right there to knock you over the head."
"I don't know how I ever survived without you," Daniel said dramatically, rolling his eyes upwards as he spoke.
Sam shot him a sideways glance. "None of us do."
"Indeed," Teal'c echoed, the corners of his lips twitching ever so slightly up.
MacKenzie held up his hand again, bringing the team banter to a halt. "How about you, Dr. Jackson? How has your…ascension affected you?"
"I don't remember anything from my ascension, Dr. MacKenzie. So I'm going to have to go with 'not at all affected.'"
"Surely losing a year of your life…"
Daniel's eyes widened in mock horror. "I've lost a year of my life?"
MacKenzie lowered his arms in a calming matter. "I simply mean that you cannot remember a year."
"Oh, right. Well, obviously. Don't scare me like that."
MacKenzie frowned, not quite sure what the young man was talking about.
"Well, personally," Jack started. "I must have lost ten years off my life already." He shot a look over at Daniel and lowered his voice dangerously. "Because of him."
Daniel looked over at Jack briefly, then to MacKenzie, and quickly back to Jack. "What? Me?"
Daniel sighed dramatically. "Is this where you blame me for your gray hair? Again?"
"Not gray," Jack snapped. "Silver. S-i-l-v-e-r."
"I'd say more of a frosted white, sir," Sam put in.
Teal'c looked over at Jack, before returning his gaze straight ahead. "It is gray."
"Oh for crying--"
MacKenzie belatedly realized he was chewing on the end of his pen, a nervous habit he hadn't resorted too since medical school. He quickly removed it and glared at his four patients. "Colonel, I believe you were onto something. Why don't you continue?"
"Okay. Well, I think it's definitely silver. You can tell especially when it's in the light, because if you look close it glimmers--"
MacKenzie held back a sigh. "No, Colonel. About Dr. Jackson."
"Oh. That part? Well, I was just saying that Daniel tends to take an average of 0.2 years off my life each time we go off-world. Which I know doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it adds up."
And he was chewing on his pen again. MacKenzie quickly placed it down on his desk and slid it away from him. Jack and Daniel gave him a curious glance, but the other two SG-1 members didn't notice the move. Sam was distracted fixing a smudge on Teal'c's eye shadow.
"Jack, don't be ridiculous. It's only 0.1, at the most."
"I was thinking 0.3," Sam said.
"Semantics," Jack groused. "The point is the kid is steadily ridding me of the best years of my life!"
"The best years of your life, Jack?" Daniel asked with a raised eyebrow. "Didn't you already leave those on the other side of the hill?"
"That's it!" Jack leaned over in a clear attempt to strangle Daniel, and Teal'c deftly reached out an arm to snag the back of his jacket and pull him back into his seat. They'd done this before.
MacKenzie leaned back in his chair, watching the events with a frown. "I'm sensing some aggression here."
Daniel and Jack turned to look at him exasperated. "Ya think?" they snapped.
Sam grinned and MacKenzie looked to the clock. Thirty minutes left. He only had to keep helping them for another thirty minutes and then he could go take a nice bubble bath and give himself a pep talk.
"Why don't we talk about that," MacKenzie said, his tone distinctively cautious.
"Talk about what?" Jack asked.
"The aggression between yourself and Dr. Jackson."
"Oh that's easy," Jack said with a big grin. "There's aggression because Daniel is a pain in the ass."
"And you're just a plain old ass," Daniel snapped back.
"Guys," Sam said resignedly. "We're supposed to be healing."
"Jack, stop trying to be like Teal'c," Daniel said with a weary sigh.
"I can say indeed. Can't I say indeed? Teal'c? Can I say indeed?"
Daniel turned to MacKenzie in exasperation. "Do you hear this? And you wonder why there's 'aggression'? I have to live with this. Every day."
"Quit with the innocent martyr act, Daniel. I have to deal with you. Which is infinitely worse. You're like a god damn energizer bunny on speed, and I'm the one who has to make sure the batteries don't explode."
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "What? Explode? What are you talking about? "
"How am I supposed to know? You're driving me insane."
This caught MacKenzie's attention. "Insane, Colonel? What makes you say that?"
"It's just an expression!" Jack yelled.
MacKenzie frowned. "I don't believe I've ever heard it."
"It's like the saying 'driving me crazy,'" Daniel explained, using his 'lecture' voice. "Only Jack hates clichés--so he changed 'crazy' to 'insane' in a transparent attempt to make it his own."
Jack leaned forward slightly. "If Teal'c wasn't between us I'd hit you."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow and Daniel smiled back sweetly. "That's why I made sure Teal'c was between us."
"Am I to believe that you fear for your physical safety, Dr. Jackson?" MacKenzie asked, shooting a quick glare in Jack's direction.
"Hardly," Daniel responded dryly. "Jack's all talk when it comes to his team. And he only really followed through and actually shook me that once."
Sam smiled. "I have pictures if you want to see them?"
"Carter," Jack snapped.
"What? What? I was kidding about the pictures," she said sweetly. Teal'c raised an eyebrow in her direction and she winked. She had an eight by ten in her office. Best the Colonel never found out.
There was a hesitant knock on the door, and MacKenzie shot up in his seat, grateful for the respite. "Come in," he called.
Nyan carefully walked into the room, giving MacKenzie apprehensive little glances. He turned to Daniel. "Daniel, I need your help. It's urgent, you must come with me at once."
Daniel quickly stood. "I'll be right there. Sorry, Doctor, but--"
"Oh, no you don't!" Jack yelled, jumping to his feet. "You must come with me at once? If that wasn't rehearsed, I don't know what is. You planned this!"
"Jack?" Daniel asked with a frown. "Nyan needs my help. He said it was urgent--how could I--"
"And that's the other thing. Urgent? You deal with things that are centuries old. It can wait another twenty minutes. Nyan, you'll have to wait."
"But, sir," Nyan started.
"Aht! Twenty minutes and he's all yours." Jack glared at Daniel. "If he's still alive."
Nyan nodded worriedly, and quickly left the room.
MacKenzie frowned. "Colonel, do you think--"
"Its fine," Jack said with a smile. "Now let's just finish this up so that we're done. All of us."
Daniel sat back down and began to tap his fingers along the arm of the chair. MacKenzie looked back up at the clock.
"Let's just get right to the point," MacKenzie said, "seeing as how Dr. Jackson is needed elsewhere. Do you believe you are ready to go off-world? After what I've seen today, I have a hard time believing you can function as a te--"
"Of course we're ready," Daniel said instantly.
"Absolutely," Jack said with a nod. "We've never been closer."
"Indeed. We have grown much since our first years as a unit."
"I could never imagine going off world with anyone else," Sam said.
"Really?" MacKenzie asked, his voice just a notch below incredulous.
"Indeed," the four of them chorused.
MacKenzie's eyes widened and he stuck the pen back in his mouth.
"So, Doc," Jack asked. "Are we cleared for duty? Or do we have to come back again next week?"
"You're clear!" MacKenzie said quickly, and even he noticed he sounded a bit too eager. "I'll inform Hammond at once. You seem to have adjusted…well…to Dr. Jackson's return, so you're free to go."
The four team members smiled, each giving a little finger wave, with the exception of Teal'c, who simply bowed his head. They went out into the hall and closed the door.
A muffled 'Thank God' could be heard from the other side.
"Team dinner?" Daniel suggested.
"What about Nyan?" Jack demanded.
Daniel grinned. "He can come too. He can pay, since I gave him all of my money this morning."
"You bribed him!" Jack snapped. "You were going to leave us there."
"Well, the session was really about how you guys feel having me back. It didn't really have anything to do with me."
"It had everything to do with you. We were only in there because of you."
"You do make a good point."
Jack's hands reached out, itching to latch on to Daniel's shoulders and just shake. It had been so satisfying the last time.
Teal'c easily held Jack back, and Daniel
grinned brightly at him. "Shouldn't we be going?" Daniel asked.
"Before MacKenzie decides to have us all committed?"
Daniel started off down the hall, and with
one raised eyebrow, Teal'c followed him. Jack's hands remained somewhat
outstretched, fists held mid air, imagining shaking the younger man until he
saw sense. Sam looked at him and nudged him conspiratorially.
"Don't worry, sir. I'll give you the picture."