Title: Self Defense
Series: New Balance: Year One, Story Two Part Two (2 of ?)
Category: Gen, Humor, Casual, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Pairings&Co: Team (friendship)
Spoilers: In the Line of Duty, Jolinar's Memories, Devil you Know, Desperate Measures, Entity, Fallen… etc
Season / Sequel: Season 7 and previous story(s) of New Balance Series
Rating: PG-13 – T
Content Warnings: Language?
Summary: Times goes on and not surprisingly a member of the team has trouble handling things.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The situations and original story are the property of the author. Not to be archived without permission of the author.
Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength.
Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own,
And his strength will dissipate.
The Art of Peace, Morihei Ueshiba.
The middle of the night, the room was pitch-dark.
Not even the negligible light of a digital alarm clock was there to be seen. If you tried hard enough you could maybe hear the almost inaudible sound of breathing, though most probably you wouldn't hear anything.
While the owner of the room was perfectly capable of moving around without making any noise, even in a room without any lighting, especially in his own room, he wasn't doing it right now. And thus, even as he was still professionally discrete (understand here as a thief, an assassin or a spy, pick whichever talks to you the most), he wasn't completely noiseless.
There was no rush in his gait, a feline moving with lightness and confidence. There was nothing clumsy in his progress, a predator made to see through the night ready for the kill. No, he seemed to be totally comfortable in the dark.
In fact, Murray Teal'c Ronson was wide awake and if asked he would have told that the complete darkness in his room was very intentional. He would also have frowned if being compared to a creature of the night, at first he certainly wouldn't have comprehended the metaphor and then he wouldn't have acknowledged it. It wasn't as much as he was fine in the dark that he simply needed it.
Although pitch-dark upset people more than not, it wasn't his purpose.
Somehow, with the loss of his symbiote and in consequence his incapacity to kel'no'reem, coupled with his moving from quarters situated more than ten levels underground to a common urban house, he had developed a thing for darkness as some other developed a thing for silence. After all, a lot of people have trouble sleeping with any kind of noise around even the ticking of a wrist-watch. And yes, it was indeed sleeping that constituted Teal'c's very trivial issue nowadays.
He would indeed regularly wake up once or twice a night, exactly as he was doing now.
At this moment, Teal'c felt like going downstairs to look at the content of the fridge. And since the idea had shown up in his mind, he couldn't depart from it. So he walked blindly to his door flawlessly familiar with his private surroundings.
He opened the door, shortly halted and let his eyes adjust to the bright light coming from the window in the hall. Then he continued calmly in direction of the stairs not minding to close his door behind him.
He noticed nothing unusual on his way; the other occupied rooms of the floor were closed while the facilities were vacant. To be precise, there was no noise whatsoever and even if there were, it wouldn't be unusual that one of his friends were having nightmares. Sometimes when he was in one of his night errands, he would hear one of them moan and struggle.
But tonight. Tonight, everything was quiet.
He arrived at the top of the stairs and proceeded to climb down. The wood cracked under his bare feet.
The habit of walking around in the house bare-footed hadn't surprised his companions. Jack didn't care one way or another. Daniel sometimes did the same but he was always scolded by Samantha when he did so.
The girl was unsurprisingly proper through and through. She had made a remark to Teal'c only once although it had not taken the form of a reprimand. She had simply asked him why he kept the habit. He hadn't been able to explain at once and he had said so. She had not mentioned it again. And he had taken time to think.
There were things he had never questioned, things that had been taught to him, sometimes, things that he was sure, had been programmed in him. He was one of a race of slaves, of creatures engineered to fill a particular task, to play a particular role. What was symptomatic of the Jaffa problem was indeed that as a race they had never begun even to stir from this imposed position – at least not since a far too close time ago and even then not at all on a widespread scale.
No. Jaffas were not stupid. Worse. They never questioned. Look at his very example. The spark had always been there. For long his master, Bra'tac, had nourished the embers. For long Teal'c had known the truth. For long.
He took him almost a century to embrace the truth. One hundred years of procrastination, wasn't it telling? So he had come to Sam and had told her. Some things had to be rid off and some – not.
He had told her about his childhood and the feel of the lukewarm earth under his feet. He had told her about his and his mother long flight from Cronus and the feel of his sore feet on rough lands. He told her of the feel of the cool flagstones in the places they had sometimes resided, of the feel of the slippery pebbles on the bottom of the rivers they had bathed in, of the feel of the scalding sand in the deserts they had crossed.
He was a solidly grounded person; he liked that and he had told her so. But mostly he had told her that he was grateful for his friends especially Sam herself. He was grateful that they had opened his eyes whereas others would never have questioned his way.
It was strange what the night and the quietness brought out to the surface of one's mind.
There was more lighting downstairs; the ground floor had many openings especially a large bay window, through which the stars and moon shed their cool light. Living in this house in the outside and moreover living together with his friends was something Teal'c appreciated immensely. The adventure itself was truly and totally challenging for him who despite of his familiarity with the Tau'ri and his teammates, was still an alien at heart.
His pupils now dilated, he could see the surroundings as if in daylight. Once again he noticed nothing unusual.
He went straight to the kitchen. There he refrained from turning any light on. The kitchen was a bit darker but he could see just fine. Truth was Teal'c wasn't really fond of artificial lighting, he knew of its practicality and would use it to perform tasks without second thought, but for his own use, in the sanctuary of his room or here in the calm of the night, he preferred if not the light of celestial bodies then the one of candles and fires.
He opened the fridge which turned on the automatic light inside. Bathed in the frail light and after a quick survey, he helped himself with a glass of milk and shut the door. He then took an apple from the fruit basket. Noting its state of emptiness, he turned around, took the pen tied to the fridge and wrote on the notepad also fixed there. Just at the end of the list and in capital letters, he wrote 'FRUITS' without detailing to Mrs. Herm which variety, he didn't really mind. Then he finished his glass and put it in the dishwasher. He was back on his steps, biting in the apple when he suddenly stopped on his track.
He saw it – a form he couldn't distinguish clearly as he was momentarily dazzled by the light coming through the bay window. The long, thinned-out shadow it projected ended only a few feet from Teal'c's position.
He stood there transfixed. He felt no threat. It was easy now to recognize who was sat in the corner of the bay window. She was looking through the glass at the outside presenting her right profile to him.
The young girl was leaning against the glass, her knees against her chest and her arms around them. She was wearing an oversized sweatshirt, sweat pants, socks and slippers. She was oddly impassive, unmoving, lifeless probably the reason Teal'c's senses hadn't alerted him sooner.
Now that he knew she was there, he couldn't simply go away. Two courses of action presented to him at this point, talk to her or not talk to her. His nature dictated his choice as he sat down crossing his legs. He observed her. While she betrayed no movements except for the blinking of eyes, she did appear focused like hypnotized.
Teal'c thought of his present initiative both as supportive and protective. It didn't come to his mind to wonder if she had noticed his presence and why she was there awake and alone in the still of the night. It was not in his nature and despite his good resolutions; he couldn't go against his nature. Asking, questioning, investigating, protesting, searching, thinking were not his strong points. That was why he needed his friends for. And Teal'c repaid them by the only way he knew and was good for, he repaid them by physically being there for them whenever they needed to, wanted to, asked to (even at the price of turning into a living furniture at times).
They stayed in silence for a long time, both in a state of mind close to meditation. The night advancing, Teal'c felt himself getting drowsy, his body clearly claiming its need to rest now that there was no symbiote inside of his stomach. While sitting like this had never bothered his kel'no'reem, his muscles were now protesting against such poor treatment. So the teenager moved to bring some relief to his sore limbs.
"Teal'c, it's fine, go back to bed," the girl a few yards away from him said in a calm voice. It confirmed to Teal'c that Sam had indeed noticed him.
"Are you confident? I must tell you it is in no case a bother for me to stay," Teal'c responded in an equally calm and clear voice.
Sam for the first time of the night turned to look at him; she warmly offered a gentle smile. It was not her warmest or her brightest one but it still had this quality that made it 'her' smile, something that touched Teal'c in a way that only his three teammates could touch him. It was ultimately something that soothed his mind.
"I won't be long either," added the young girl whose traits were as familiar to him as her adult's ones.
It was not in Teal'c's habits to mistrust his teammates' words or to argue their intentions.
"If you say so," he rose up and walked away.
"Teal'c," Sam called him suddenly.
He turned back to look at her.
"Thanks," she said in a whisper.
He bowed his head down.
"You are most welcome."
Then Teal'c climbed the stairs calmly and quietly went into his room. There he lied on his bed, closed his eyes and rapidly dozed off with no further thinking.
Daniel shifted in his bed, it was soft, quite warm and he had no desire in the world to get up. Oh no. Why would he since he was in the best spot on the planet there, with no care, no strings, nothing to do except gently floating at the limits of consciousness (Jack will say in his place that it is sweet). He cradled his head in his very fluffy pillow which provided a safe haven from the intensifying light. Sighing contently, Daniel cuddled his mattress further and hugged his quilt tighter. He was in heaven.
After a moment of blissful peace, he shifted again, to find himself sliding just so slightly into a shallow hollow, his back then met a oh so soft and warm obstacle. Not yet in a right state of mind to notice anything wrong, he just let slip a moan of contentment almost purring. It was much more comfortable and cozier now. Thus he wiggled settling in deeper.
As a result, he didn't flinch when in response a warm breath caressed his neck; it was quite pleasant on the contrary. He welcomed it when the warmth slowly surrounded him to reach his chest. It felt perfect. When his breast was languorously rubbed, he just moaned in pleasure. And as the source of warmth descended slowly towards his groin, heat began to peak. Little by little, everything became – uneasy. The soft and gentle breath on his neck had morphed into breathlessly sounds that trickled his skin and his ear. Finally, another notch was reached when the warm pressure slipped under his shirt and he unconsciously realized that it was now skin against skin.
Breathing among other things became harder. Heated skin touched his bare stomach and went further down lifting the band of his breeches…
And then Daniel's mind snapped into focus; his body leapt in a rush out of the bed. Wide awake and furiously red, Daniel was clutching his quilt in a death grip careful to conceal his lower body from the figure in the bed.
There lying guiltlessly with a devious smile on her face was Samantha Carter, fully clothed and just slightly rumpled by the previous activity. Daniel having overcome his shock and his embarrassment was now throwing her a death glare at which of course the young girl just giggled.
"You're evil!" Daniel claimed like he never had in his life believed something stronger than that.
Sam chuckled and the glint of deviousness intensified in her eyes.
Seeing that the imp was not to be shaken by anything least of all shame for her action, the boy averted his gaze repeating 'evil' unintelligibly and looking around his room. He quickly grabbed some clean clothes with one hand not releasing his grip on the quilt before he could replace it with something else.
Behind him, Sam was laughing.
"But Daniel," the girl said, "you can't blame a girl for trying!"
Daniel didn't even deign to answer as he barge out of his room hiding his front with his change of clothes while the hysterical laugh of Sam was ringing madly in his ears.
"Evil!" he shouted out a last time.
In the hallway, he almost bumped into Teal'c but the other boy having good reflexes jumped out of his way. What Teal'c hadn't predicted though was for Daniel to grip his shirt.
"Teal'c, you are the one in charge of waking me, do you understand?" Daniel all but ordered him.
The black teen had no time to respond then Daniel was off of him stomping towards the bathroom.
Arriving at the bathroom, the boy pushed aside a just awaken Jack and slipped inside. Teal'c remained impassive at Jack's befuddled expression and continued his way downstairs. Sam then appeared in turn in the hallway grinning smugly.
"How do you do that?" Jack spurted out with some kind of awe, "I have never… ever… made him take tail and run away like that!"
Sam looked mischievous.
"Oh Jack, Jack, Jack! You don't really expect me to kiss and tell, do you?" Sam replied teasingly.
Not knowing how to answer to that at this hour in the morning especially before his refreshing shower coupled with his standing in only breeches, Jack adopted not for the first time when being faced to Sam his trademarked dumb expression.
Sam smiled warmly at him, this time loosing her smug. Jack was even more confused at her reaction and turned his attention to the clothes he was holding in his hand.
"What am I to do now? Mister prissy there will monopolize the bathroom for oh at least twenty minutes in his best days," and Jack knew Daniel was not in his best mood this particular morning.
Looking at the door of the bathroom, the young boy sighed, now dejected.
"You can shower in mine," Sam proposed.
Jack turned his eyes to her not sure he heard her right.
"If you want, you can use my bathroom," she reformulated.
"Oh. That will be great," Jack finally blurted, "Thanks!"
The thought of Sam's bathroom, the fragrance of her shower products surrounding him all day long was definitely appealing. Plus Sam was low on fancy girly scents so nobody would know. He stood there in a dreamy pose and failed to notice Sam climbing downstairs.
"Sam!" the boy finally called on a spur.
She came back, her head appearing at the top of the stairs.
"What did you make for breakfast?" Jack asked not sure that it was really what he had first intended to ask or say.
But he smiled suggestively at his own question.
"Oh. Waffles!" Sam answered responding to his smile by one of her own.
"Sweet!" Jack said contently.
Sam walked away and Jack stood immobile for a moment his smile growing wider. Then he disappeared into her room.
The school bus drove along at a medium pace in the dense traffic of the morning. The temperature was cold, steam and smoke were escaping out of the numerous vehicles around, but the weather was merciful enough that the sky was of a bright blue and the sun shining intensely through the glass window was coming to warm the little exposed skin of the children inside the bus.
Shades and lights running on their faces, the four teenagers were sat together on two rows at the front of the bus that way avoiding the usual racket of the back and maintaining some privacy for their on-going conversation.
"Have you decided which club you will join?" Daniel started.
Jack was sprawled, leg bent on the seat, arm on the backrest, back against the window, a perfect posture for both comfort and strategic overview. He was looking askance at Daniel who was sat at his side in a similar but more uncomfortable pose. The question had been implicitly addressed to both Jack and Teal'c. The latter was sat on the seat directly behind Jack not a hint of a slouch in his gait. Next to him, Sam was managing a perfect balance between relaxing and being proper.
"We have," Jack answered resolutely.
"Have we?" Teal'c seemed surprised.
"We have," Jack reiterated.
"Have you?" Daniel joined in since apparently Teal'c didn't know and Teal'c was supposed to be included in the mentioned "we".
"We… Oh for heaven's sake, stop disputing everything that comes out of my mouth?" Jack chided.
"Are we?" Daniel replied not giving in (why will he anyway?).
"You…" Jack began before stopping then mimicked a laugh, "Hahahah!"
Both Teal'c and Sam looked at the brown-haired boy with a knowing expression on their face while Daniel grinned smugly.
"Why are you smiling like an idiot, Daniel?" Jack quarreled.
The other boy gazed at him branding all along a slight smile.
"Nothing," he ended up saying then added not with no sincerity, "just that if I had known it was all it takes to make you shut up, I would have done it long time ago."
It was the turn of their two other friends to smile affectionately even if in the black boy's case it only appeared as a spark in his eyes.
"Huh? Do what?" Jack played dumb (which he is a master at).
"What?" Daniel joined him in his game.
"Don't play innocent with me!" Jack exclaimed, his pace completely thrown out.
"Am I?" Daniel pressed in.
"Oh shut up!" Jack snapped.
"So have we?" Teal'c stepped in innocently.
"What the hell!" Jack cried out.
At this point, Daniel was satisfied with himself.
"It is picking-on-Jack day today and nobody told me!" Sam commented playfully, "That's mean, guys. I would have liked to share the fun."
Sam who had quietened down for awhile joined the discussion, the usual banter amusing her. But the situation backed out on her.
"Maybe it should be picking-on-Sam day today," Jack retorted, "Whatcha think, Sam?"
She mentally recoiled on herself; that wasn't of good omen.
"So Sam, what is there with you and anger management? Oh no would this be you with dreaming away or better you with food?" Jack attacked immediately.
As she was trying to evade confrontation, Sam found herself averting Jack's eyes in a first time and averting everyone else in a second time (that is indeed a hard task especially when you don't want them to notice you are doing so).
"What have you got for breakfast this morning? Anyone's seen her eating?" Jack continued in the same line unrelenting.
Jack didn't show any sign of abandoning the bone he had his jaws on, which pushed Sam to extreme measure. Hopefully she had always been quick at retaliating.
"So, Teal'c, which club?" Sam turned to the stolid teen.
Daniel who had observed the previous exchange silently as he was used to do whenever the two of them conversed, for once, part in sympathy and part because well he liked to antagonize Jack and needed no reason to do as such, chose to put a term to Sam's agony.
"Yes, Teal'c, which club?" Daniel joined in.
Of course, Teal'c could be trusted to get his big two feet in the decoyed plate thus with the innocence of the new born child.
"Which club have we decided to join, Jack O'Neill?" The big guy asked inquisitive.
"Yes which club have you decided to join?" Sam this time glared at Jack not flinching.
"Which club exactly?" Daniel added another layer.
It was decidedly picking-on-Jack day today and Jack was definitely growing weary of it. Guilt also began to blossom for previously taking it out on Sam so he reigned on his frustration.
"We genuinely want to know, Jack!" Daniel infused once again knowing he was winning the battle.
"You do, don't you?" Jack smartly replied.
"But if you don't want to tell," Sam cut in with fake acceptance, "we can survive without this element of information, can't we Daniel?"
"I don't know about Teal'c", Daniel intervened, "but I can."
The third party couldn't of course go in the same direction and they all knew it.
"I speak for myself," Teal'c said and then evidently voiced, "and I would rather know which club, we, Jack and I will join."
"Jack, you can't let Murray out of the loop," Daniel added, "For me and Sam, I understand but…"
"Teal'c deserves to know what he and you decided," Sam followed with no subtlety, "since it concerns him, it is your duty to tell him."
"Very, very funny," Jack retorted with no humor but already giving in, "would you let me tell him now!"
"T," he made sure to address to only Teal'c, "Let's tryout basketball first, give it a chance."
The other boy didn't say a word but from his expression, it appeared he wasn't satisfied with the decision.
"If you still don't approve, we'll try baseball," Jack noticed his dejection and tried to amend somehow, "So do you want to mutiny like those two?"
After taking a pause to balance what the other boy had said, Teal'c finally approved.
"It does seem to be a fair decision, you have my consent."
And the matter was decided between the two people who were directly involved, which didn't stop Daniel from commenting.
"In a way it reassures me!" Daniel said.
Everyone looked at Daniel for him to elaborate since Daniel's interventions often seemed to come out of the blue.
"Why so?" Jack inquired.
"For a moment there," Daniel didn't fail to explain, "I had this silly thought that you were going to join the Science Club!"
Everyone look at him again now because not only they didn't follow his train of thoughts, this time, it sounded utterly weird as if Daniel had gone insane.
"What gave you this crazy idea?" Jack blurted.
"Among all the optional classes you could have taken," Daniel once again explained himself, "you decided on advanced physics so yeah, it had me worried!"
"I do not understand your worrying," Teal'c was confused, "it seems that we have also chosen Spanish class… with you."
Jack also seemed confused but Sam just smiled comprehension reaching her mind.
"Spanish is always useful!" Daniel retorted matter-of-factly before adding, "But Jack and physics, that's not something usually… I don't know… thinkable."
"I see your point Daniel," Sam nodded, "I had a similar reaction when they pressed me to take the class with them."
"Of course, we need Sam to tutor us in physics," Jack took the first opportunity to diverge, "as we need Daniel to tutor us in Spanish… there is nothing to understand, it's the most logical action to take!"
"Nothing surprising there," said Jack and sign that he wasn't as dull as he could seem at times, he added, "Plus I happen to love physics and I wanted to make Teal'c love it too…"
"Cut out the act, Jack," Daniel stopped him, "as if I would believe that!"
"That's just because…" Sam started to explain for Jack and accessorily for Teal'c.
"Uh uh Sam, don't tell him," Jack prevented her from saying more, "that will teach him not to believe me!"
"But you weren't telling the truth," Sam tried to protest.
"Still!" Jack maintained stubbornly.
"I did not know it was a secret matter," Teal'c stepped in, "lately I find myself confused in regards to what should be confidential or not."
"Oh I don't think it is, Murray," Daniel replied, "it's just Jack being a jackass."
If there was something Daniel absolutely hated, it was his not knowing something in conjunction with Jack's being stubborn. That's why in general Daniel and Jack together could quickly degenerate into juvenile fight.
"Excuse me!" Jack vehemently exclaimed.
"Easy boys!" Sam tried to cool things down.
"He started it first!" Jack protested childishly.
"No you did!" Daniel did not fail to retort whiningly.
And once again, they did it: their trademarked and silly banter.
"Boys stop!" Sam snapped.
It was bad enough when they did it in adult bodies, but oddly the fact that they had de-aged made the situation that much more ridiculous.
"Now, apologize to each other!" Sam had to assert.
When Teal'c proceeded to low down his head, Sam reacted promptly.
"Not you Teal'c!"
Sam stifled an urge to roll her eyes. She felt strangely like the adult she was underneath her skin, which made her sighed.
"Sorry," mumbled the two boys.
"Thanks!" Sam said, conscious that they practically said it only for her sake.
"Daniel," Jack finally put the real first brick in their truce, "Teal'c and I took this class because we intended to join the Air Force once High School is over. My physics is rusty and T will need that much."
Daniel's impossibility to hold a grudge had already been mentioned and of course Daniel was quick to forget about the argument now that Jack had told him what he wanted to know.
"But you and physics!" Daniel frowned, dubitative.
"Don't be silly, Daniel," it was Sam's turn to pick up on Daniel being a snob, "there is a core curriculum for all officers in the Air Force and you should know that physics is – especially – mandatory for all pilots."
Daniel was definitely surprised and a bit ashamed he had presumed wrong.
"Jack has a basic science degree – at least," Sam continued, "I don't know in what he majored though."
"Oh! That's surprising," Daniel was actually impressed.
"Military Strategic Studies!" Jack intervened.
"What?" Daniel blurted back.
"It wasn't called like that in my time," Jack explained impassively, "but that's my major."
"That is indeed convenient for a warrior," Teal'c approved of his background.
"Yeah, Murray, that makes sense," Sam smiled at Jack before adding meaningfully, "A lot of sense!"
"Yeah doesn't it?" Jack smirked smugly especially for her.
"Yeah it does," she grinned back.
"What?" Daniel quickly went from one to the other knowing there had been a private exchange neither he or Teal'c had been included in.
"Murray, do you get that?" Daniel tried to get the support of Teal'c.
"I do not know what it is you are talking about, Daniel," the latter didn't follow him up (that because he is in the shadow or that because he chooses to be remains a mystery), "What is there to get?"
"The two of them?" Daniel insisted, "The smile, the private joke?"
"There is nothing to get, Daniel," Jack replied.
"Nothing at all!" Sam concurred.
"Darn!" Daniel swore knowing that this time he had lost the battle.
All in all, truth was Daniel against Jack was manageable, he against Jack and Teal'c possible, he against Sam or Teal'c unpredictable generally for the worse, but he against the three of them was in a word impossible like really completely totally perfectly never-to-happen-ever impossible. Daniel sighed.
Eventually the school bus made the final stop and the level of noise in the public vehicle suddenly increased around them. Then the band of four got up following their new morning routine of a school day.
It was a common knowledge shared by every people who met Daniel Jackson that he was very talented. That it being due to his naturally bright personality or his unstoppable bottomless flow of words, people could not fail to see it as they met him.
For a fact he could probably speak indefinitely, on any and every topics whatsoever from the one hundred and one ways of roasting coffee beans (one of his obsessions) to the last assumption in memetics (another one of his obsessions). The latter, it was right, pertained to his area of expertise but the modern theory in question was one he cherished most particularly these days. To understand such a predilection in Daniel, you had to know that memetics placed cultural practices – named for the occasion 'memes' – at the same level as genes, memetics being conceived in some parallel with genetics but applied here not to human species but to human civilization.
How many times his dear friends had heard him rant about how memes were transmitted by repetition or imitation with dozens of new examples in past civilizations? They had stopped counting especially since the change in their situation and the absence of actual action. The number had now become astronomical (and Sam, well-known theoretical astrophysicist, will approve the accuracy of the adjective here).
Actually Sam Carter, scientist at heart (whose acceptance for said scientific perspective is sky-rock high) would have admitted (but only under zay'tarc machine testimony) that she was beginning to grow weary of it. Even Murray Ronson, the paragon of patience and stoicism had shown signs of irritation when Daniel had cornered him waving a stack of papers in the air and sprouting scientific speech intertwined with soul-deep comments on the grounding or the accuracy of some statement or other… thus for almost half an hour. Maybe the more traumatic event happened when Jack O'Neill, confirmed scientist belittler, had seen Daniel marvel shouting little enthusiastic screams as he had heard someone discover a 'dead' meme. That wasn't what had caused him severe and chronic mental stress. No, that was achieved when Daniel had claimed in a fiery tone that it was as if he were seeing them – dead memes – being reborn. The scene had made Jack O'Neill cringe then jerk. Afterwards he had rushed out wanting to wash away this distressing picture from his mind, that with a series of the Simpsons episodes, a game at Zelda the Wind Maker or maybe just run away screaming and tearing his hair out like a complete mad hat.
So that Daniel was really gifted and scarily impassioned, his friends would not have dreamt to deny it.
And indeed Daniel was a truly multi-talented person.
He was first and foremost a famous archaeologist, or maybe more of an infamous one really – that with his lunatic (but exact) theory that pyramids were landing sites for alien spaceships. Nonetheless, he remained a known figure inside the archaeological community.
But before his archaeological feats, Daniel had been known as a quite brilliant anthropologist, a title he had always kept close to heart particularly in his years in the Stargate program.
Long ago, he had accompanied many missions all around the planet (Earth, just to be clear there), completing his skills but mostly refining the intuitions that would irremediably lead to the career disaster we are oh so well familiar with.
This passion that unmistakably obsessed him since his very childhood had truthfully been inspired by his beloved parents. Their death had had the only effect in stigmatizing it into him. But at the source of it resided a true love for communication that had logically translated into a love for languages. It had always brought him so much joy succeeding in communicating with other people; his squeals as a toddler were not different from his adult expressions of delight.
And then maybe because of his parents' profession or because it was just meant to be, it had slipped towards the languages of the dead as he had used to call them feeling somehow mystic in his child exultation (be sure that if he knew about that, Jack would indeed roll his eyes till it hurt). Daniel had fallen in love with dead languages at the significant age of seven, a meaningful number that Daniel in his mystic period had reveled into.
So yes, at the very beginning of things, Daniel was a linguist.
Linguistics is a relatively new science that started in Europe in the 18th century; of course it hadn't been called like that at first but something more obscure, Historical and Comparative Grammar. It had been developed in parallel with the advances in biology from which it had derived the vocabulary.
Thereby patterns, structures, rules had been more or less drawn out; bridges were built and all in all, language and languages became in itself a science… or to be precise it had become several sciences. For instance, one of the aims of linguistics was an endeavor to classify languages; another was to establish a History of languages. There was more to it than the technical aspects of phonetics or phonology for which Jack have given the intentionally non-shrinkable appellation of the how-every-words-can-sound-that-being-voiced-or-perceived versus the how-and-why-every-words-should-be-pronounced-and-should-be-worded. Each time that Daniel used one of the two words, Jack would cut him off and dubbed them with his patented appellation which at first had rejoiced Daniel seeing Jack had understood but rather quickly it had become just irritating to no end.
Altogether, the understanding of the process that was language itself was something that completely enthralled Daniel.
However to tell the truth, among the six thousand or so languages on the planet – 'living' languages divided in around twenty families – Daniel spoke the ridiculous number of twenty-three in not less than seven families (he has intentionally chosen his fetish number there). Not much comparatively speaking but in human scale, it was in fact – a lot.
Although who would have thought that Daniel Jackson – who spoke not exhaustively German, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin – did not know French? That had been what he finally had to confess to Sam Carter when the two of them had had to choose an additional credit and had come to the agreement of another language class.
In spite of not having learnt it, French itself was not a problem for Daniel. And while he was glad playing tutor to Jack who already had good basics in Spanish and to Teal'c who had none except for a few phrases picked on restaurant menus and some others from dubious TV shows, it was a whole new experience for him to share the learning process with someone such as Sam.
His years of studies had been of the secluded kind and he had fully enjoyed them that way never regretting his bookworm tendencies and his solitary character. But learning something with Sam – someone he knew like another himself, someone he was close to and most of all someone who put herself entirely into a task just like himself – presented a definite appeal to Daniel.
And he had been right all along; it was everything he thought it would be. The two of them had hit it off like a house on fire, spending all their time exchanging small pieces of conversation mainly to work on their pronunciation but also to annoy Jack, an activity Daniel never turned down and in which Sam was just beginning to enjoy now that she finally could.
Other than that, Sam had had some problems figuring out the gender of common words. It had finally helped when Daniel had made the observation that gender tends to be preserved from Latin to French. Sam had immediately jumped to the deduction that in most cases, she could refer to Spanish which she already fluently spoke, Spanish being also derived from Latin.
Now in a more general scale, it could be said that Colorado Springs High had the invaluable fortune to profit from the charming accent of a French teacher to teach French class, one Mademoiselle Constance Martin whose name was regularly butchered by the very mouth of her own students.
At the young age of twenty-five, of a moderate height and allure, with long brown hair tied in a ponytail and soft black eyes, Constance Martin was the picture of her very first name, she made constancy a way of life.
For as long as they knew her, Daniel and Sam had always seen her being of moderate mood, always tempered, always patient, always proper. She was such an extreme case that she really made them feel uncomfortable. In fact, this combination of fresh youth and wise despondency was truly upsetting to everyone, students most of all. Hopefully her teaching demanded quite a high output otherwise her class would have repelled the perky twin geeks – as Jack like to call them.
Now it had to be said that Mademoiselle Martin was downright perfectly and totally indifferent to any and every interference, their being perturbing her class or not, their coming from her students or from the outside.
One morning as the fire alarm had rung, she had simply said to them that its being a drill she would continue her lesson but that the students were free to leave if they wanted. She must have been reproved for her behavior but had never let it alter her attitude. So it had remained a universe constant; Mademoiselle Martin did her lesson from A to Z regardless of the world. It was in fact the subject of on-going jokes among the student body that she would keep on her lesson even if she was agonizing or that one of them committed suicide in her class. Teenagers liked to be melodramatic that way. But oddly enough, her students listened to her and while French was not among their favorite classes, it was no way one of their detested ones. And one way or another, Mademoiselle Martin didn't care.
That was why in this precise moment, Daniel's eyes had been resting on Sam's figure, vouched on her table, with what it seemed no care in the world and completely fast – asleep.
Of course Daniel was not known for his brilliant insight skills – he was very observant and his compassion made him see through people easily but these precious qualities were counterbalanced by a large propensity to be totally absorbed in successive tasks thus at the exclusion of the surrounding universe, not unlike Constance Martin for that matter. However Daniel had not failed to perceive the off feeling that his friend had emanated lately. Her late state of exhaustion had particularly not gone unnoticed, that even without Jack's shining but scarce remarks. So when he had seen her doze off, he hadn't tried to wake her up.
Now, it should be mentioned that Daniel wasn't in the confidence about her last outburst in physics class. How he had managed to pass through the gossips concerning the dire event at the school for an entire week, it remained a mystery but why none of his teammates had confided in him was – not.
Their silence didn't imply that they didn't worry or think about it… each one in their little corner of the universe but they were private people and even Daniel knew not to trespass those invisible boundaries.
As said, they weren't used to talk about personal matters, none of them. They weren't comfortable with it and they gave up too easily. But all in all was it the worse course of action? Only time would tell.
Yet Daniel was about to doubt the foundations of their silent but shared consensus.
It wasn't much at first, some stirring, not even noticeable enough to produce any sound. Daniel was only witness to his friend's restless sleep because sat just at her left, he was attentively watching her. But he was also paying attention to the lesson not that it would be much of a problem if he didn't but he wanted to take enough notes so that Sam's little but necessary nap wouldn't be detrimental to her learning. So for the next ten minutes, he was alternating between listening to the teacher and throwing cautious glances at his friend.
Today's lesson was about pronouns and verbs.
"French pronouns follow similar pattern to English ones," Martin said and continued while writing on the board in some semblance of a chart, "they are je, tu, il, elle, on, nous, vous, ils, elles."
"However, tu and vous are equivalent to English you. Whereas tu is only used in singular, vous is used in plural and in formal situation… in sign of deference for instance."
"When you meet an older person you will say 'Comment-allez vous, Madame?'. When you address to your superior, you will use vous. Mostly when you first meet someone, you use vous. It is not reserved to adults, I know a lot of my teachers back when I was in your shoes used vous when they addressed to me. But between friends or among young people such as yourselves, tu, it is indeed."
Maybe the moment when the events really went downhill was when Sam's sleep worsened and she began to distinctively moan. It wasn't loud enough to be heard two rows apart but it made Daniel lose his focus on the lesson.
At that moment, Daniel hesitated, he was one who always balanced his actions, and faced to this situation he was uncertain. But he stuck to the general consensus, hoped that nothing went wrong and did nothing. Of course, there was definitely a lack of options presented to him and he was sincerely having her well-being in his mind when he kept on letting her sleep.
In the background, the lesson went on.
"We saw that in French, every noun has a gender and you can, here, notice the lack of neutral pronoun. You have first to understand that on isn't exactly a neutral pronoun; it is similar to nous and is used to talk in general. So for every noun, you will have to know which one of the female or male pronoun to use correctly that being in singular or in plural. That means that, yes, mes pauvres enfants, you can't escape from learning endless lists of vocabulary."
Daniel wasn't really paying attention anymore and only vaguely registered what was being said.
Nonetheless at hearing Sam's moaning in her troubled slumber, Daniel could have reacted differently and his behaving the way he did had sealed her fate for the upcoming future.
What Daniel had not expected was for someone to put a stick in his well-geared plan.
Indeed Sam was getting louder emitting at intervals stifled squeaks like a frightened animal; moreover, stirs had shifted into restrained struggles. She was beginning to seriously make herself noticed to the class. That wouldn't be a problem in itself as it should be reminded that Constance Martin was quite lenient with her students. But it didn't prevent the situation to go from bad to worse.
Unnoticed by Daniel and for a fact behind his very back, Sam's immediate neighbor had decided to take matters in her not so capable hand. Patricia Midler didn't think badly when she began to poke the back of her classmate. She just wanted her to wake up. But when the latter didn't react, she just went poking harder. Still the other girl wasn't reacting except for a slight shift in her position. Now, Patricia could have stopped there or chose another way to remedy to the situation. But being human and on the broad side of selfish selflessness, she got frustrated and like a spoiled brat hitting on their toy when it was recalcitrant, Patricia poked the sleeping figure deep and strong with her metallic ruler. About the events that would follow, Patricia Midler, at no time, thought it was her fault, too busy she was being shocked and scared. It was possible that her young age prevented her from feeling compassion for another soul but truthfully a discussion on Patricia's character and possible fate didn't bear any interest.
On his side, Daniel had only come aware to the situation when Sam went trashing her table and her chair. She seemed demented and in a way, she was, as she had lost touch with reality.
Now it was a strange thing to see that at this moment most of the attention turned not to the disturbing individual but really to the teacher. Indubitably one question weighted in the mind of the students and it was really how Mademoiselle Martin would react. For a moment, time seemed to freeze and Martin's movements came to a halt, her hand raised above her head, marker at millimeters of the board. Then without changing her overall posture, Martin turned slightly her body, then her head. At seeing her, the students held their breath not sure what they were expecting and because of it, there was some sort of excitation and rushed feelings hovering in the air.
Daniel was also holding his breath but for different reasons, a million of thoughts passed in his mind. The first command to his limbs was to get up and so he stood pushing violently his chair, which fell with a clatter on the floor. He was hardly the only one standing up. Around Sam, class members had backed away. The overall result was a massive racket. Already many obstacles separated Daniel from Sam; fallen furniture and surprised teenagers were in his way.
At that point, it was already a shocking turn of event, even traumatizing for the guy who missed the flying chair by an inch. But from worse it became – horribly bad when suddenly cries filled the air.
"Kou tse'ek ke so'ov setiaf?" Sam shrieked, a nervous hand resting on the opposite hip, her arm protecting her stomach as if in pain.
Her words were incomprehensible for all but Daniel who recognized the Goa'uld resonance and immediately understood her saying. She was trembling, her eyes were haunted and she demanded to know what they were doing to her.
"Kou tse'ek ke so'ov zeva'm tiaf?" Her voice pierced through the class racket.
Wary of the people surrounding her, she was backing away towards the nearest wall, pushing furniture out of her way. Daniel moved in turn in an attempt to reach her. Her scared attitude had now shifted into an aggressive stance obviously in order to defend herself against them.
"O ej'ksis, nob gaas kou zeva so'ov ed'iom?" She yelled in an outburst.
The atmosphere changed with her cry. Before, the class was still split, one part feeling fully concerned by the incident and the other thinking it was some sort of eccentricity, odd but somehow funny. It was after all, Mademoiselle Martin's class where things were renowned to turn oddly, rumors told about fanciful stories of daring students trying to disturb her lesson. Now, Martin's being caught speechless and motionless was not funny anymore because even if they didn't understand the meaning of Sam's words, they heard the despair in her voice.
A quick glance at Martin and Daniel knew she would not take control over the situation. Most of the students came to the same conclusion. So the ones closest to Sam, well-intentioned as they were, tried to approach and reassure her.
"Zeshpa'c ake!" She cried in their direction but nobody understood her words except Daniel who didn't knew how to behave.
One boy grabbed her arm, she struggled against him but another restrained her.
"Zela so'ov ne!" She screamed.
"Zesht'iom! U ej'eruj ke so'ov zeal ela retegar!" She growled in a low barely controlled voice, heavy with menace.
Daniel, fraying his way, was now at their level and he right away tried to push them off of her.
"Step back!" He yelled at his classmates.
But the boys, feeling confident in their superior strength, were not to abandon their maneuver not now that she had ceased her struggling.
"She's gonna hurt you! For God's sake, let off!" Daniel told them knowing that she wasn't to give up that easily not when she had just threatened them with retaliation.
Daniel seeing their being stubborn desperately turned his head around to finally look at the teacher.
Constance Martin had the reputation of being moderate and constant in every thing; that made her indifferent and unconcerned but truth was those unsettling qualities had always served her well. And the present situation was not different; she hadn't lost her footing contrary to the perceptions of the students. She had just chose to observe and her observing hardly needed from her either to speak or to act (If that would mean something to you, her personality is not far different from that of Teal'c). Seeing how the events turned out, she found no reason for intervening. At first she didn't understand a word the girl said and then she was of a same stature so taking Sam physically aside was a no-go. Eventually since she had no idea what to do, Martin had refused to pretend she did or to play a role for which she wasn't suited.
However when Daniel voiced his warning, she found herself trusting his words. She had noticed that the two friends were inseparable.
"Boys, release her and do as he said!" She said in a calm voice.
But already Sam had made her move; she slipped down as soon as she felt the grip loosened up on her. With a quick sweep, she kicked the first boy's knees in the back and easily dragged him down when he lost his balance. She as quickly restrained the other with a decoy movement, twisting his arm in his back.
She now held him before her as a shield.
"Egub'te ti ej'essac'te ela sarb'ac!" She said to him.
Daniel protested at once.
"Don't do that Sam!" He told her, "Please, let him go!"
"Zeshpa'c ake!" She screamed to him in response as he advanced on her.
Daniel held his hands above his head and stepped back to appease her but she became less and less coherent. She was alternatively shivering and jerking, a sheen of sweat on her ashen skin.
"Li tiaf issa duash, noc tiarit nu ru'of! Issa duash, ej'luk! Noc tiarit ke ej'ksis ne Netu!" Sam mumbled talking to herself.
Daniel frowned at her mention of Netu.
"Someone open the windows, she is hot!" Daniel told to no one in particular but students went to open them.
"Akou'rup li tiaf issa nuo'k? Kama des, kou zeva'm so'ov tiaf?" Sam raved.
"Nobody wants to hurt you, Sam. Nothing was done to you… you just need to lie down!" Daniel reassured her.
She hardened her grip on the boy and he winced. She wasn't listening; she was lost in her delusion.
"Ej'tid'ia so'ov, Jolinar enod'a assa'ev rup revas'ke'm. ek'tiate nu xiou tienso'c. So'ov zerevut kie'ak. Conrad, ak tiers kie'ak'a!" She rambled aside.
Daniel's mind was in turmoil. First, Sam never spoke in Goa'uld. With the mention of Netu, he had concluded that it was a resurgence of Jolinar's past. But now everything was mixed up with the mention of Conrad.
For a moment, he had hesitated thinking that he was maybe talking to Jolinar, some remains of her identity at least, but if her last words confirmed one thing it was that it was ultimately Sam before him currently breaking apart.
"Kou tse'ek ike eshap'se? Kou tse'ek ke so'ov setiaf?" She was repetitive in her plea and her control was slipping as distress invaded her voice.
"So'ov zela'm ruk'te!" She concluded, there was ineluctability and some twisted acceptance in her even voice.
At her words, Daniel's expression darkened further, remembering her previous ordeal when she had been abducted and experimented on. They had arrived just before the scientists were going to kill her.
"Sam, you're safe now, we saved you. The bad guys are gone, remember, the colonel stopped them, please remember!" He was still prudent with his wording since they were in public.
"Kaa, zesht'ak!" She jerked back and violently pushed away the boy she had a hold on as if she couldn't stand his very touch.
At this moment, she seemed utterly lost rubbing furiously at her eyes. She raised her arms before her in a defensive posture but she was trembling all over. Soon, she simply recoiled on herself sliding along the wall to the floor. She sat there, her head against her knees, her arms protecting her head.
"Zad'iom! Daniel! Teal'c! Colonel! Issa li so'ov tial ke kulke nu eniev! Issa li so'ov tial!" Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Daniel knelt beside her at a safe distance. The rest of the world had faded away except for the two of them.
"Sam, I'm here, Sam!"
She didn't heed his words; she didn't seem to hear him at all. She began to rock back and forth.
"Kou'rup tya li kie'ak issi?" her voice was muffled.
"Sam, you're safe, here, everything's fine!"
"Li'a kie'ak… kie'ak… kie'ak… kie'ak'a utu."
"You're alive, Sam, safe," Daniel said suspecting now that something sounded awfully off.
"I don't understand, what are you saying 'there's nothing'?" He added, "We arrived on time, you're not dead, you're safe!"
"Kie'ak… kie'ak… epire ruk'ta'ke… ej'iame kousep ruk'tek… siam... siam ej'ia repu!"
"Sam, what are you saying?" Daniel insisted.
"Kie'ak… Li'a kie'ak… kie'ak… siam… siam taa'rup," She repeated like a mantra.
"Ej'ksis illa! Ej'ksis illa, ej'ksis illa, ej'ksis illa," she continued on in a desperately voiceless tone, "zessa rup ne redere nosiar'al!"
"You are here?" Daniel translated her words,"Oh my God, of course, you're here!"
Understanding lightened his expression. She was trapped inside another memory, this time it was when her mind had been transferred into the computer frame.
"Sam!" Daniel shouted at her loudly so she could hear him.
He grasped her shoulder when she didn't react.
"Sam, do you hear me, it's Daniel!" He began to shake her.
On an impulse, he finally yelled.
And she did twitch, at Daniel's relief.
"Kree! Look at me Sam!" Her eyes finally seemed to focus on his face.
"It's Daniel, I can see you, I hear you… I know you are here!"
"Daniel? Kaa, enuej, pu'ab enuej, xuep'te'ak e'tek Daniel!" She argued askance.
"Sam, look at me, I am still me. I'm Daniel," Daniel was extremely careful with his words and felt immensely powerless because of his limitations, "I am sure you can see it! Hey, Sam, it's me!"
He wanted her to realize that albeit he had de-aged, he was still him but he didn't know how to do that.
But then, she raised her hand and tentatively touched his face.
"Daniel, tse'ke'te?" She hesitantly asked.
"It's really me!" Daniel said softly, raising his own hand to take hers.
And then her control crumbled apart and the girl threw herself in his arms, tightening her embrace as she began to sob.
"Daniel… Daniel… Daniel!" She repeated.
"I was so lost…" her voice was muffled in Daniel's shoulder.
Soon, her sobs subsided whereas her hold on Daniel tightened; she was hanging on him like he was a lifebuoy and she was about to drown. And Daniel wasn't passive and responded in kind glad to bring her comfort. Their communion would have lasted longer if not for the fact they were hardly given any privacy by the many people presently standing around them.
"Hum," someone finally intervened.
It was actually Martin herself, interrupting them.
"It's very touching," she said louder, "but Monsieur Jackson, would you have the amiability to take Mademoiselle Carter to the infirmary, please, so I would continue my lesson as planned."
Her face was the epitome of gravity as if what had happened were nothing to be concerned for, nothing of importance comparing to her lesson.
It was another strange thing to see that now after such an ordeal and inside a public place such as a class full of emotional teenagers, the words of one person would loosen up the tense atmosphere. Some of the more distant observers, in space and in mind, even stifled a laugh at seeing this so typical reaction from their teacher.
If there were any constant in the universe; it was that Constance Martin intended to do her lesson from A to Z regardless of the rest of the world.
And Martin's words had the other effect of affecting Sam herself as the girl looked over Daniel's shoulder. A moment ago, it had been impossible to tell if she realized where she was and whom she was with. Now it was impossible to tell if she was surprised at her surroundings. She let slip absolutely nothing, her attentive eyes just observed the people watchfully. However, she released her grip on Daniel gradually. Soon enough they parted and slowly got up.
Once up Daniel threw a glance at the teacher and nodded but refrained from saying a word. He was not sure how he could explain himself or Sam and was relieved that nobody asked questions. Sam's hand closed around Daniel's and the two were soon on their way out. While she looked composed, her expression betraying no embarrassment, no confusion to be truthful no emotion at all, Sam was indisputably looking sickly pale and her gait had this tension that revealed exhaustion and stress. But what worried Daniel the most was that she was holding her stomach with her other arm.
"Les enfants," Martin used her usual patronizing phrase, "tidy up your mess so we can go back on business."
And the teacher proceeded to ignore the two students getting out of the class and went back on what she was saying before the incident. Apparently the students felt the need for time to digest the event and thus complied with her directive without reluctance.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Sam dropped Daniel's hand and ran off, one hand on her stomach, the other coming to her mouth. Daniel wasn't surprised by her sudden rush, it was really meant to happen at some point or another. And either because words failed him or because it wasn't time to talk yet, he just ran after her.
Within a short time, Sam rushed into the nearest girl restroom on the way. Daniel on her heels didn't hesitate and followed her in. She staggered in one cabinet, put her hands on the toilet seat, leaned and expectedly threw up. Daniel went to gently hold her, an arm around her waist and a hand on her forehead. After some further long retching, she finally eased and quickly flushed the toilet. Daniel then led her to the sink where she washed up.
"I'm sorry," Sam said in a whisper without looking at him after she was done.
Daniel, of course, saw in her words the opportunity to have a real chat but he decided to proceed with caution and not blatantly interrogate her.
"I should be the one apologizing," he commented, "if a girl went in right now, you would hear some indignant cries all over the place."
Sam frowned, not glad about his diversion.
"But if you apologize for my seeing the entire content of your lunch, you don't need to," Daniel started before adding, "The amount being ridiculous, it was more disturbing to see you retching really."
There was rebuke in his seemingly light speech and Sam didn't fail to notice it.
Truth was Daniel wanted to know not only about what had happened in the class – which he saw rightfully as a symptom – but really the deeper rooted issues underneath everything that had gone wrong. The outburst being too recent to be discussed right now, Daniel chose to seriously investigate on another problem.
Sam met his gaze; her eyes had the glint of the sick. She obviously was not in condition to argue with him.
"I don't have any eating disorder if that's what you worry about," Sam began defensively, "You can tell that to the Colonel too so he stops his…" with a twitch of the head she snorted, "oh whatever!"
Daniel didn't know if she was frustrated or irritated, probably both, however he noticed her little slip.
It had been weeks since she had called Jack by his old rank. And at this precise moment, Daniel understood how much effort Sam had put into this simple task. In comparison, Jack and Teal'c always slipped, covering it more or less successfully when they realized their mistake but altogether, they didn't pay it particular attention. Jack didn't really care and Teal'c while really embracing his new life didn't take it to his honor to hold onto it at every single instant. Only Sam felt she had to. Something told Daniel that it was another symptom of her late issues. It was wiser however right now to let her speak her mind rather than point out everything that was wrong with her.
"I… Gosh! Okay, how can I put it?" Sam stammered, "You know I love blue jell-o!"
Daniel frowned but nodded.
"In fact, I always had a thing for jell-o," she kept ranting, "it comes from my childhood."
She had started to walk back and forth in the small space and was becoming slightly agitated.
"Sam, what…" Daniel began as he caught her by her arm to stop her pacing.
Daniel didn't want her to avoid the entire issue by leading him on.
"Let me tell you the way I want it," she cut him off determined.
"Okay, keep on," he relented, releasing his grip.
At his surprise, she sat down on the ground, her back against the wall. She had one knee against her chest and was hugging at it; she obviously was trying to both comfort and restrain herself. Daniel followed her and sat in a similar position close to her but not quite in contact. To tell the truth, Daniel regretted not touching her, the small distance was uncomfortable for him. However, Sam didn't seem to mind.
"What I've never told you is that I wasn't a very healthy kid," Sam confided throwing him a glance before looking at her hands currently resting on her knee.
"It can't be possible," Daniel protested, "if that were right, you wouldn't be in a field-team in the Air Force!"
"I didn't say I have a weak constitution," she retorted.
"Sorry, please continue," Daniel apologized feeling perplexed.
"I was an anguished kid since the very beginning," Sam added, "No it's not true, my parents told me I was a dreamt baby always smiling, very alert and bright. But as a toddler, I was always sick: weak stomach, reflux, vomit. I had trouble with all kind of food, to be precise, with food in general."
She spared him an uncertain glance. He hadn't stopped watching her and met her eyes with intensity.
"I spent long periods of time in hospitals and most often the only thing I could eat was jell-o," Sam pursued finally connecting the ideas together.
"Who would have thought," Sam claimed in a weak humorous tone, "that instead of being disgusted by the thing for life, I would take a loving to it?"
Daniel smiled kindly at her, genuinely softened by the reminding of one of her endearing trait.
"Doesn't surprise me one bit," Daniel commented but then he asked, "Sam, what was the cause of… what did they diagnosed by the way?"
"Oh stomach ulcer," Sam answered in a by-the-way manner.
"What? So young?" Daniel blurted, "How could this be?"
"I told you I was an anguished kid," Sam retorted, "that was it."
"Don't kid me, I was an anguished kid, it's hardly a sufficient cause for an ulcer!"
Daniel scowled at her.
"Yeah, doctors shared your opinion," Sam didn't back away, "and for many years, they never found the appropriate treatment for it."
The frowning subsided quickly to be replaced by interest.
"But they finally did…" Daniel encouraged her.
"Not exactly," Sam contradicted, "in fact it was my mum and I guess my dad."
"Mum had to deal with me all the time and she was the best when it came to ease my anguish. Dad unsuspectedly introduced me to the way of the soldier. All that with my joining the Institute at nine put an end to it."
She was looking at a spot in the distance and Daniel would have sworn that for a moment she was right back in the past.
"You're talking in riddles there Sam," Daniel complained, "If I understand it right, you're telling me that you have now a stomach ulcer due to anguish and I guess stress. That it is somehow chronic which with insight explains number of your previous behaviors in the past. But you're absolutely unclear about why you have this sickness in the first place."
His glare was piercing at her and when she turned to look at him, she felt compelled to tell him.
"I was a gifted child," she took a pause before starting a long speech, "highly gifted one with crazy neurotic tendencies really, thus the extreme anguish. At age four and a half, I was converting everything in every measure unit that I could thought out, like twenty miles is thirty-five thousand two hundred yards is one hundred and five thousand six hundred feet is one million two hundred sixty seven thousand two hundred inches is three million two hundred eighteen thousand six hundred eighty eight centimeters."
"I drove people crazy with it," she stated and looked straight at Daniel, "That wasn't all, I had this weird theory that, as the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the years pass ineluctably, at some point we will run out of time."
Daniel gazed at her nonplussed and she kept on.
"So I refused to grow up. I demanded that the time stopped," she said, "I was terrified by what was to become of us when time will finally end."
"Oh!" Daniel blurted beginning to understand her point.
Sam took a deep breath and continued with her explanation.
"The Institute helped a lot; I finally felt that I fitted in. And while I stayed in regular school like every kids of my age, I followed parallel courses in all the disciplines I wanted whichever the level. It's the reason why I have so many PhDs; they gave me the opportunity to obtain various degrees before I even went into the Air Force Academy."
The name of the Institute was only a detail but it was curiously hanging out of reach in the back of Daniel's mind. He was sure she had told him about it in the past. He silently cursed his unreliable memory.
"My father with his background provided discipline," Sam continued, "He was very demanding, more so with Mark – which explains their estrangement. I don't think Dad addressed his scolding to me but he always said 'Carters do that. Carters don't do that'. Since I was a Carter, I took it in stride."
She barely took time to breath before speaking her next words.
"But the most important element was Mum. Mum was balm to my heart and mind. Mostly when I fell into one of these anguishes; she would provide any and every means of information, she never told me I was being silly, she let me made up my mind. She was so… I don't know… wise maybe… warm definitely."
Sam was gently smiling and so was Daniel, he couldn't help but be touched by the softness of her feelings.
"You loved her very much."
"She was the best in the world," Sam claimed, "Even now I keep her words closed to heart."
"What have she told you for instance?" Daniel quietly inquired.
Sam leaned her head on the side glancing furtively at Daniel and then gazing in the distance, she remained pensive for a moment.
"I wanted to reach the stars for as long as I remember," she began, "and while I knew it was going to be difficult to fulfill my dream, I had great confidence."
The two of them shared a smile.
"I always was the smartest kid even adults around me couldn't compare. But arriving at the Institute, I was proved wrong."
She took a short break and announced in a decisive manner.
"There is always smarter than you and the realization shook me down. I thought I was special but there were some others more special than myself."
She chuckled weakly looking at her hands.
"It's silly, isn't it?"
"No it's not," Daniel reassured her, "You wouldn't have succeeded in your career path if not for this strong competitive streak."
She approved and her laughter was more sincere this time.
"I got horribly depressed then and finally Mum talked to me," she continued her retelling.
"I asked her if I was gifted at physics, she told me she didn't know but what she knew was that," Sam stopped abruptly careful about her wording.
"Her exact words were: 'I don't know if you are gifted at physics but I know you have an infinite love for it, and, the capacity to work the hardest.'"
Daniel's smile widened, his face an expression of delight.
"She was great," he concurred.
Sam's smile saddened slightly but remained bright.
"Yes she was…"
For the following minutes, both of them felt longing for the past and yearning for a future as radiant.
"Daniel," Sam eventually broke the silence, "I have pills for my stomach in my bag, would you go get them for me?"
"Pills?" Daniel frowned.
"Yes prescribed by Cartwright," Sam didn't elaborate further.
Daniel was downright surprised; the last thing he had expected from her was to confide in their psychiatrist.
"Don't look at me like that," Sam scolded him, "He is there for exactly the kind of trouble I'm going through."
"No, no, it's good, it's good!" Daniel stuttered.
He quickly got up, brushed his pants with a casual gesture.
"I'd rather you wait for me there!" He said looking down at her.
"Okay," Sam told him back.
And then he was out of the restroom. When he arrived at the door of the classroom, he promptly knocked and entered. The room was unscathed by the previous incident; all the tables and chair had been put back together and the students were calm. The teacher had stopped when Daniel went in the class; she now looked at him inquisitive.
With every eye directed at him, Daniel felt suddenly very shy.
"Excuse-me, I came to fetch our belongings," Daniel said hesitantly.
In a heavy silence, Daniel made his way to their respective places. He took their coats and bags, which had been neatly placed back where they were supposed to lay. As soon as he could, he rushed out of the class, glad to escape the monitoring.
Once outside, he realized that it was almost the end of their French class and that he should probably inform Jack and consequently Teal'c of their whereabouts. Halting, he put the bags on the floor still clutching the coats with one arm. He reached for his cell phone in his pocket and quickly typed the appropriate number. He waited to reach the voice mail.
"Hi, Jack! Just to tell you that Sam and I are both fine," Daniel said, "but we are in the infirmary, so better meet us there!"
Then he hung up and proceeded to tuck his cell back. But then he reassessed the situation. He typed another number and waited to hear the beep.
"Hey, Teal'c! Tell Jack to check his messages!"
Now eventually satisfied, Daniel continued his way to the restroom.
When he arrived at destination, he was surprised to find Sam talking out loud; he could indeed hear her through the door. What surprised him even more was that she wasn't exactly talking in English. Not knowing what to do, Daniel waited outside.
"Don't worry Nigo!"
"Wakarimashita, doko ni desu!" she said and paused.
"De wa ikimasu," she asserted.
"Arigato, Nigo… Arigato gozaimasu!" She fervently said.
"De wa mata!"
Daniel was quick to identify the language and was flabbergasted finding out that Sam could speak Japanese – some at least.
He knocked on the door and entered the room. Before him, Sam had just ended the conversation and was tucking away her cell phone. Of course, she had been on the phone and not talking to herself. And suddenly, Daniel wanted to know who she had been talking to, he wanted to know about how on earth she spoke Japanese at all; he realized that he also wanted to know about how she spoke Spanish and why she chose to learn French. It seemed that he had missed so much lately when Sam was concerned.
He met her eyes. She didn't seem startle by his arrival, she looked genuinely innocent. And as he opened his mouth to voice his many questions, Daniel suddenly felt like she was slipping far away. It made him feel upset. He reached out his hand but didn't complete his gesture. He didn't know her and the finality of this statement froze him on the spot. Now, he wasn't sure the problem was coming from her.
Memories of Sam, memories of time spent with her crowded his mind. He had so wanted to get back to their previous relationship but something had been missing since his return. Here now, he wanted to be there for her, to give her what she had given him, to support her through a difficult ordeal. He had been glad to be the one she had confided in, the one who had hold her tight and reassure her with gentle words. He couldn't deny that it was pleasant to play the white knight in his shining armor coming to save her.
But in the end, he realized that it was he who needed her the most. He had always been and always would be starving for touch. Sha're had given him everything, Sha're had offered him a family to belong, Sha're has given him a life to live, Sha're had touched him, Sha're had warmed him. Sha're was no more. But Jack, Teal'c and Sam were his world now. Jack had offered him another family, Teal'c had eased his conscience but Sam – Sam had touched and warmed him. He had always been starving for touch and always would be. And Sam had been the one to reach out at him freely, breeching through his defenses, touching him and knowing him. She was ultimately the one who had convinced him to come back just with a few simple words.
This damn distance weighed on him more than ever, a distance that he could never cross, a distance in space, in mind, in heart.
His train of thought didn't take a long time and he opened his mouth once again not sure about what he wanted to say anymore.
"Sam, are we okay?" Daniel finally asked weakly.
The young girl frowned gazing at him; his arm was slightly hanging in the air. She didn't hesitate and took his hand in hers.
"Daniel?" she asked confused.
"I… I missed you," Daniel blurted.
Sam smiled and at Daniel's relief, she crossed the distance that separated them and took him in her arms.
I realize I'm overdoing with Sam character… somehow. I have to admit it's difficult, I don't want her on a pedestal by making her even more perfect, stronger and smarter but I don't want to depreciate her either, adding flaws and problems. It is not my intention to be melodramatic. Introducing not one but three of her previous ordeals for instance weren't my best move or so I think. It's too much of a commonplace in fics. On the other hand, I wanted to show something important and this combination gives the wanted effects. I guess you'll see where I'm heading to with it.
I also realize that I go out of what is strictly canon with the characters. People who watch the show knows that it never gets very deep inside their mind and avoids emotional matters as long as possible. Writing is different; the media itself has other rules. Consequently I have to dig deeper into their mind and forge them in a satisfying but personal way thus the not exactly canon side.
For the content of the French lesson, I have no idea what is taught nowadays in American high school and most precisely when it is taught. Being French, what I wrote is no nonsense but I have to admit I just picked the subject randomly.
Once again the text still needs to be 'betaed' by someone other than myself.
Please feedbacks are welcome, which also include criticisms since I'm not American (cultural divergences) and since English is not my first language (grammar and stuff).
Thanks for the reviews (and thank you reviewers). I'm not really comfortable dealing with them, especially answering them but I do read them and I'm grateful for them nonetheless.