Landry's Luncheon by Cleo the Muse
Rating: Older Kids
Genre: General, Humor, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Warnings: Vala comes with her own warning label, doesn't she?
Episodes: Missing scene for "The Ties That Bind".
Synopsis: Continues on in the fashion of the preceding "The Thief" and "The Archaeologist" series (plural). The bracelets are off, but Vala and 'her' Daniel are still connected. Poor Daniel!
Notes: It's BAAAAAA-ack! After taking a considerable hiatus to write "Honor", of course.
Status: Completed as of June 7, 2007


Landry's Luncheon

"If you value a man's regard, strive with him."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Twenty thousand feet in the air was not the best place to be right now. Resisting the urge to thump his forehead against the window, Major General Henry "Hank" Landry gazed out at the cloud-spotted terrain below and wished he was down there. Anywhere but here.

"Vala, just leave the tray table up."

"Yours is down," the irrepressible thief observed.

"I'm working," the archaeologist snapped. "Or at least trying to, when you aren't bothering me."

"Since when am I bothering you?"

"When are you not?"

And on and on it went, the thief and the archaeologist bickering back and forth like squabbling children. A quick peek at Teal'c showed that the big Jaffa's jaw was tightly clenched--a sure sign that his patience was near its end, or so he guessed. One could never tell with a Jaffa, and he could have been amused but struggling not to show it, for all Hank knew.

"--Messing with my books, which is almost as bad as you 'manhandling' my artifacts!"

He whipped around, eyes widening in surprise. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Teal'c leveling his own expression of surprise at the arguing pair.

As though suddenly aware of how his statement could be misconstrued, Doctor Jackson frantically attempted to recant. "Uh, I meant when you're playing with my things." He was a lovely shade of scarlet, now. "Crap."

"Hmmm... Is it really necessary to inform the General and Muscles? You surprise me, Daniel! I'd taken you for the type to keep your private life... private."

Hank thought it was a good time to interrupt. "And it'd better stay that way." The "extra-curricular" activities of the people under his command were not his business, let alone when one of the persons involved wasn't even a member of the SGC.

And to hear Jack tell it, Da--Doctor Jackson's not really under anyone's "command". Come to think of it, the only people on this plane he could order around were sitting in the cockpit, flying the jet.

"--And I definitely don't want to know how you got past Sergeant Finney to get in my room last night!"

"Children!" Hank barked. "Don't make me separate you two!"

Vala huffed and Doctor Jackson glared, but they got the hint and shut up. Teal'c gave the general an approving nod and returned his attention to the paperback sci-fi novel in his hands. A short moment later, there was a startled yelp as the archaeologist jumped up, grabbed his laptop and heavy book and dashed to the row across the aisle from where he had been sitting. His face was still trying to match the color of a tomato but he didn't say a word.

"Doctor Jackson?" he sighed.

"Don't ask," the younger man moaned. "Just don't ask."

Thankfully, the pilots called back to the cabin to announce the start of their approach to Andrews Air Force Base. Vala was then forced to fasten her seatbelt instead of pursuing Jackson across the aisle. Mentally, Hank commended Doctor Jackson for his excellent timing, though he was certain the archaeologist felt the relocation hadn't been soon enough.

A limousine was waiting for them on the tarmac, ready to whisk them away to the Pentagon. Hank never envied the men assigned chauffeuring duties their jobs, as D.C. traffic was a nightmare even on a good day. At 1700 Zulu, it was the ninth circle of Hell. Fortunately, their driver was skilled, crazy, or the perfect combination of both, delivering his passengers swiftly and safely to their destination.

When they stopped, Hank held out a hand to stop Teal'c from opening the door. "Let's go over the rules one more time, shall we?" The dark-haired thief gave him a look that was astonishingly similar to the times during her rare visits that he would remind the teenage Carolyn of a curfew: equal parts disgust, boredom, and "let's humor him".

"No talking about the Stargate or any other planets except little ol' Planet Earth to anyone," she recited. "No mention of the Goa'uld or Ori or any other non-Earth races or organizations."

"And?" he prompted.

"Stay close to Daniel?"

"Well, that," the archaeologist acknowledged, rolling his eyes. "Keep your hands to yourself, remember?"

"Oh, yes! That."

"And that includes me," he reminded her, provoking a sulky pout.

The delay chafed, as Hank wanted to be in the Senate committee chambers and back out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the Judiciary Committee had had some sort of crisis which required an emergency meeting to take place, and the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee thought it would be a generous bipartisan gesture to push back the closed session with the SGC until the situation could be resolved.

And this is why I changed my mind about running for the Senate two years ago, he scoffed inwardly. Good thing, too, as being retired but otherwise unoccupied left him free to accept Jack's offer to command the SGC. Which is something of a mixed blessing, come to think of it...

Surprisingly, Vala behaved herself, though her rather unorthodox attire drew some curious looks. Hank didn't want to know where she'd acquired the tiny skirt and knee-high boots. The woman was so resourceful she was scary. She was the sort he imagined could be dropped in the middle of a foreign country and own half of it in a year's time.

At the moment, she was currently enjoying the process of handing over her newly-minted security badge to the guards at the checkpoint. Hank had argued in favor of a permanent ID instead of a temporary pass, as no one could say for certain how long she and Doctor Jackson might be joined at the proverbial hip. Her access allowed her almost anywhere Doctor Jackson could go, but didn't give her the same privileges of rank and information.

Not that Doctor Jackson ever availed himself of the privileges of rank. Based on the things Hank had read, his idea of delegation within his department--before he'd handed over the reins in order to go to Atlantis--was to take on as much as he could possibly handle himself before assigning translations and surveys to anyone else. It was a trait Hank found particularly admirable, which only enhanced his belief in the archaeologist's as-yet untapped leadership skills.

They were asked to wait in the lobby, and were shortly after greeted by a familiar, cheerful voice. "Well, aren't you kids all gussied up!"

"Indeed," Teal'c replied with a quirk to his lips, extending his hand for the warrior's forearm-clasping handshake. Jack O'Neill was only too happy to oblige, but refused Doctor Jackson's hand in favor of slapping him on the back.

"Well, well... if it isn't the archaeologist-snatching vixen herself. How ya doin', Vala?"

Pleased to be so warmly greeted, the thief in question clasped her hands in front of herself and twisted in place. "Why, simply marvelous, my dear General," she replied with a cheek-stretching grin. The linguist rolled his eyes.

"Well, that's good to hear. Not giving Daniel too much trouble, are ya?"

"General, I am shocked you would suggest such a thing!"

Doctor Jackson affected a false smile. "At the first opportunity, I'm going to kill her!" he announced brightly.

Jack's lips quirked. "That's my girl." He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. "So... anyone up for an early dinner? The Judiciary thing's not expected to be over 'til 1900, at least."

"That'd be lunch for us," Hank reminded him. "It's only just past noon in Colorado."

"I'm starved," Vala chimed in cheerfully.

"You're always hungry," Daniel pointed out.

"What can I say? I have a... voracious appetite."

"So it would seem," Teal'c agreed. Doctor Jackson merely looked horrified.

"Hank?"

"Sure thing, Jack," he replied, shaking his head. "Miss Mal Doran, remember those rules..."

To his amusement, she threw him a jaunty--though left-handed--salute. "You can count on me, sir!"

"That's what I'm afraid of," Doctor Jackson muttered.

They piled back into the waiting limousine, Jack giving the driver instructions before settling into the rear-facing bench with Vala seated between him and Teal'c. The woman primly folded her hands into her lap and crossed her legs, looking every inch the model of the modest lady were it not for her short skirt and patterned hosiery. She seemed to be making a conscious effort to behave herself, for which Hank could only be grateful.

Doctor Jackson, however, was regarding her with suspicion, as though waiting for the other shoe to fall. The general found his paranoia amusing, though he could certainly appreciate that the younger man had come by it honestly. Due to the nature of the energy which bound the thief and the archaeologist together, he had spent nearly every waking hour in her presence, able to escape for only short periods of time before being forced to return. Even their on-base quarters were close, and if Hank understood the earlier outburst correctly, she'd even managed to find a way to sneak into his assigned room.

What I don't understand, he mused, is why Jack seems to find this so amusing. The man he claims is his best friend could die if this bracelet situation isn't successfully resolved! Part of the seeming lack of concern could possibly be attributed to Doctor Jackson's oft-proven ability to evade or overcome certain death, but Hank thought that such a line of thinking would be far too callous for Jack.

Before he had time to ponder it further, the limo stopped, and Hank looked out the window and shook his head with amusement. "Trust you to have found this place already, Jack."

"How could I not?" he answered, clutching his hand to his chest as though shocked to his core.

"'Sign'?" Vala asked, puzzled.

"Sin é," Doctor Jackson corrected, pronouncing it "shin-ay". "It's Irish."

"What's it mean?"

"That's it."

Vala crossed her arms. "Well, you don't have to be mean about it, Daniel, it was just a simple--"

"In Irish Gaelic, it means 'that is it'," he sighed. "Please tell me they serve something other than corned beef and cabbage."

"A few things," Jack answered, sharing a grin with his fellow general. Having spent more than a few hours watching sports events in this pub himself, Hank shook his head. The menu definitely contained more than that. "Oh, and if you kids still have time to waste after we finish eating, there's a mall right over there."

Vala perked up as though she could see through the building to the aforementioned shopping center on the other side. "Really?"

"Four days and she already knows the words 'credit card' and 'shopping mall'," Doctor Jackson groused.

"It's been over a week since I first arrived, darling," she reminded him.

"Yeah, but that was supposed to only a very, very short term visit," he replied. "And we spent a good deal of it unconscious, remember?"

"I'm just trying to learn the important aspects of your culture," she answered.

"Kids," Jack warned. "Don't make me separate you two." Hank chuckled, hearing the echo of his own earlier words.

Vala surprisingly didn't cause any trouble, asking Doctor Jackson to explain certain dishes to her before informing the server she wanted the "fill-it mig-none", much to the linguist's horror. She knew the Air Force was picking up the tab, too, and Hank guessed that figured into her choosing one of the most expensive items on the menu. After the food arrived, however, she kept herself--and everyone else at the table except Doctor Jackson--amused by filching the toppings from his salad.

After she'd stolen the last tomato, she declared in an exaggerated whisper that she needed to "make a visit to the little girls' room". For their mutual safety, Hank insisted Doctor Jackson accompany her to the restroom door, at least. When they disappeared around a corner, he shook his head.

"That woman is enough to drive a man to drink," he remarked.

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "Daniel Jackson has grown quite fond of her."

"Fond?" Hank gaped. "They fight like... like adolescents!"

"Well, yeah," Jack replied. "Daniel and I fight like five year-olds some times. He likes her, he just won't admit it out loud, and maybe not even to himself. She's good for him, though. I haven't seen him this... this..."

"Animated," the Jaffa supplied.

Jack nodded. "Yeah, this 'animated' in a long time. Certainly not since the damn Replicator skewered him. He's been living, but not really 'alive', you know?"

Yeah, I think I do, Hank realized. He and Kim might have been divorced for a number of years, now, but he could still recall some of the passionate arguments they'd had in the early days of their whirlwind romance, before the passion gave way to bitter disappointment. If there was anything in his life he regretted, letting his relationships with Kim and Carolyn slip through his fingers was top of the list. Jack's underhanded manipulation had put him in a position where he might be able to reconcile with his daughter, and if he played things correctly, maybe even his estranged wife.

His pager chose that moment to go off, and a quick glance at the numeric code on the screen told him that the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee would finally be able to see them in half an hour. He took a sip of water and cleared his throat. "We'd better get the check paid," he suggested, leaning a little to the left to watch the returning duo quietly but vehemently bicker again. "Jack, will you do me a favor? Contact the Prometheus, and have them ready to beam us back to the SGC. Doctor Jackson might like that woman deep down inside, but I don't think the rest of us will survive another plane ride."

"You got it," Jack grinned.


Author's Notes:
Back with a bang! Should be one, maybe two more stories to go on "Binding Arguments", which will put us into the final series!

I'd like to thank the D/V Forum for the "manhandling his artifacts" joke! Who knew such a simple phrase could go so wrong... Another thanks to the Giggling Marine EOD for the filet mignon silliness!