A Slice Of Normalcy

Rated: PG

Category: Gen, Carson Beckett/Daniel Jackson Friendship, SGA/SG-1 X-Over.

Season: Five

Spoilers: Kindred II, The Seed (Timeline Only, Nothing Specific).

Summary: Normalcy Is Hard To Find When You're Back From The Dead…

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Carson Beckett sat by himself in the SGC cafeteria.

The eatery was busy. Airmen passed to his left and right without giving him a glance, and Carson was grateful for their attention to their food and not to him.

The officers, however, were another story.

Many of them knew of him, and they knew at least bits and pieces of his story.

They skirted around him and sent wary glances his way.

No one quite knew how to act around him, and since he hardly knew how to act himself, he understood that all too well. After all, he was Carson Beckett, but not the one they knew.

He had no doubts about what had happened to him over the past year and a half, but neither did they.

And those two stories didn't exactly jive with one another.

Carson sighed and took a half-hearted bite of his mashed potatoes.

He wasn't sure when he'd be allowed to leave the SGC, and he wasn't sure what he'd do when he could, but he most definitely wanted to get out of there now. He couldn't take one more awkward look or stumbling interaction. He sighed again and ran a hand through his hair.

Suddenly, a voice cut into his thoughts.

"You'd think they'd never seen someone come back from the dead before."

Carson looked up to find Daniel Jackson holding a lunch tray and looking down on him. The archeologist nodded to the empty chair opposite Carson.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all," answered Carson.

Daniel seated himself at the table and grinned.

"So, how's it going?"

Daniel's voice was cheerful but sarcastic, and it was obvious that his question was somewhat rhetorical.

Carson grunted. "Well, you know…"

Daniel held up a hand. "Wait. Let me guess. So many briefings you want to puke. Too many medical exams to count. Questions that make your head spin so fast you don't even know your name anymore. You're starting to wonder if you're really you after all. And since you haven't actually seen the sky since you've been back, you're starting to wonder if the whole thing isn't some sort of elaborate hallucination."

Carson merely nodded his assent. Daniel grinned.

"Never thought I'd say this, but I know how you feel." Daniel took a bite of his Salisbury steak and grimaced. Carson noticed.

"Not so good, then?"

Daniel shook his head. "Not so much."

Carson laughed. "What I wouldn't give for a nice, red steak right about now. Or anything not made here, for that matter."

Daniel looked to his left, then his right, and a wicked smile slid over his face. "You want to get out of here?"

Beckett's eyes lit up like lanterns. "Can we?"

Daniel leaned back in his chair, looking suspiciously like his long-time CO Jack O'Neill for a second. "I might know a way. If you don't mind bending the rules a bit."

Carson sent his own wicked grin to Daniel. "I think I can handle that."

Daniel pushed his tray away and looked Carson right in the eye. "Meet me in my lab in fifteen minutes."

"You sure about this, lad?"

"Trust me. It'll be fine."

Daniel stood and walked off, leaving his tray of food behind. After a moment, Carson stood and took both his and Daniel's tray to the waste receptacle and left the cafeteria. He didn't know what Jackson had up his sleeve, but at this point, he really didn't care. He wanted out of the mountain so badly he might have murdered someone to get out. He'd take the help where he could get it.

XXX

Fifteen minutes later, Doctor Beckett arrived at Doctor Jackson's lab. He knocked lightly on the door frame, causing Daniel to look up from a book he was reading.

"Right on time," muttered Daniel.

"I try," answered Carson.

Daniel grinned. "Much appreciated. Here. Put these on."

Daniel shoved a standard SGC uniform at Carson, then handed him a large floppy camouflage hat. Carson eyed the pile of clothes dubiously.

"You really think a change of clothes is all it will take, son?"

"Oh, we'll need more than that," admitted Daniel. "But that's where our resident computer genius comes in."

Carson's eyes grew wide. "Rodney's here? Where?"

Daniel burst out laughing. "There's more than one genius around here, you know."

Samantha Carter took that moment to enter the lab. She nodded to each man as she took a seat.

"Hey, Daniel. Doctor Beckett."

"Got what I need, Sam?"

Sam spun on her chair. "Sure do."

She held an access card out to Daniel. He pocketed it while Carson gaped at him. Colonel Carter was in on this, too? Now he was starting to have doubts. He didn't want to get anyone in trouble.

"Thanks, Sam," said Daniel.

"Now, wait just a bloody minute here!" protested Carson. "I don't know if this is such a good idea after all."

"Relax, Doc," admonished Sam. "You'll be back before anyone knows you're gone."

"But you're the ranking officer here! You'll take the fall if this goes bad."

Sam smiled. "Carson, I appreciate your concern, but with everything the IOA is trying to pin on me after me being in command of Atlantis for a year, this is the least of my problems. I'll be lucky if I'm still standing when they're done with me. Besides, we owe you for bailing out Atlantis last month. It's the least I can do. Go. Have lunch. Get out of here."

"But…"

"I wouldn't argue with her if I were you," warned Daniel.

Carson caught Daniel's eye and realized the other man had a very good point. He shut his mouth and nodded. "Fine. Thank you."

Sam smiled. "My pleasure. Now, if you'll excuse me, gentleman, I have some actual work to do before my next meeting."

Both men nodded their good-byes as Sam stood and left the lab. Carson moved off to one corner of the room to change while Daniel busied himself with straightening his office a bit. When Carson was done, the room looked exactly the same, but the good doctor had the grace not to mention that little fact to the archeologist.

Daniel motioned for Carson to precede him into the hall and the two men left the lab.

They proceeded directly to the elevators and left the base without incident. Carson was mystified.

"How'd you do that?"

"Do what?" asked Daniel innocently.

"We just walked out, for cryin' out loud!"

"Yep."

"How'd you do that?"

"What part of 'on your own recognizance' do you not understand, Doc?"

Daniel made air quotes at Carson as he spoke, and the physician babbled a little.

"But… I mean… Didn't expect this… How'd you…?"

Daniel laughed. "Honestly, Doc. Think about it. They didn't post a guard on you, and they don't have time to watch what you're doing every single second of the day . Getting out is easy. It's getting back in that's the hard part."

"Is that where Colonel Carter's magic card comes in, then?"

Daniel put on his best burr. "Aye."

Carson rolled his eyes. "Oh, brother."

Daniel laughed. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."

"It's ok," said Carson. He smiled for a moment, then his eyes narrowed. Daniel noticed.

"What?"

"I wasn't born yesterday. You're pulling my leg. How'd you really walk me out o' there? I know they're watching me."

Daniel bit the inside of his lip as he pulled open the door of his car. It seemed like he was debating something. Then he shrugged, apparently making up his mind, as both he and Carson entered the vehicle.

"Security camera guy on duty right now owes me. Let's just say I called in a favor."

Carson blinked. "Why?"

"You think you're the only one to be locked up in there? Been there, done that, got the T-shirt," muttered Daniel.

"Good point."

"So, on to more important things. Where to for food?"

"I've only been here for a few days at a time. I don't know where to go. You decide."

Daniel put the car in gear. "I know just the place. You still want steak?"

"At this point, I'll take anything that doesn't come on a plastic tray."

"You got it."

XXX

The diner was small and homely, right down to its red and white checkered tablecloths.

It's ambiance left a bit to be desired, but its food most certainly did not.

Little was said as a man who'd lived on prisoner food and SGC rations for over a year feasted on prime rib for the first time in what felt like forever while his companion (who'd made more than a few meals from MREs and knew a good thing when he saw it) enjoyed his own choice beef.

Two plates were scraped clean in no time, and Carson said the only word that summed up the experience.

"Damn."

"Yeah. Not bad, huh?"

"Not bloody bad at all."

"Found this place a few years back. Wouldn't trade it."

"I can see why."

Daniel glanced at his watch, and Carson's eyes followed his.

"About that time, eh?"

Daniel nodded. "Unfortunately."

The men paid their bills quickly and drove back to the base in the sleepy silence that follows a good meal. Sam's magic card worked perfectly to get Carson back on base without arousing suspicion, and the two men found themselves at Carson's quarters within half an hour of leaving the diner.

"Well, I guess I'll be seeing you around, then," said Daniel.

"Yeah. I'll see you later."

Daniel turned to go, but Carson quickly called him back.

"Doctor Jackson?"

Daniel looked back over his shoulder.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

With that, Daniel turned and left. Carson's door clicked shut a second later.

Two hours afterward, Daniel was off world with SG-1.

An hour after that, Carson was in yet another debriefing.

Lunch was officially over, and the SGC was back to business as usual.

XXX

Two nights later, a knock sounded on Carson's door.

He sighed. He really wasn't in the mood for company. His day had been filled with briefings and meetings and yet more medical tests, and he thought that if he had to tell his story to one more pencil-pusher, he'd break into the armory and murder the lot of them.

He was hungry and tired and just wanted to pass out and wake up when the SGC decided what to do with him. He felt disconnected to the events around him, and he was bloody tired of the whole routine.

The knock repeated itself, and Carson sighed again. He knew he had no choice but to answer the door. After all, anyone looking for him likely had a key and would let themselves in if he didn't.

So, he trudged to the door wearily and opened it. When he did, his eyebrows rose in surprise. He hadn't expected this visitor. Daniel Jackson stood outside, bouncing a little on his toes.

"Thought you were off world," said Carson by way of greeting.

"I was. Scrapped the last day of the mission. There was nothing on that rock worth investigating, so we got the green light to come home early."

"I see."

It was quiet for a moment, then Daniel grinned. Carson noticed it and immediately cringed a bit.

"What are you up to?"

Daniel pointed at his chest. "Me?"

"Yes, you."

"Oh, nothing," muttered Daniel. "Just brought pizza, is all."

Daniel reached an arm out of Carson's view and leaned over to pick up something on the floor. When the arm returned to sight, it held an obvious pizza-warming bag. The sight made the rest of Carson's senses flare to life, and he noticed the enticing aroma of mutton coming from the box.

"Do I smell mutton?"

Daniel beamed. "Sure do."

"But I thought you said it was pizza?"

"This isn't Pizza Hut, Doc. This one is straight from a little pie shop downtown. They'll make meat pies and pizzas in any flavor you want. I happen to like mutton, and I thought you might want a taste of home."

"You're a lifesaver."

"Hey, I know how it is. Besides, I'm too bushed to head home tonight and they deliver. And no one else around here will eat anything but pepperoni, which I'm certain you're more than sick of by now."

"Indeed."

Carson let Daniel in then, and the two men shared their second meal in three days.

The food was good, but this time the gregarious nature of the diners came to the forefront, and the conversation was better. Sleep was soon forgotten, and the talking lasted a lot longer than the deep dish pie.

When Samantha Carter happened to wander by late in the night, she heard a snippet of that conversation through the thin SGC door.

"You had your memory!"

"Aye! But it doesn't match what my bloody friends remember! There's two o' me, for Pete's sake! Or was! Or hell, I don't know!"

"Well, at least you had your clothes!"

If any airmen wondered why a full bird Colonel and SGC legend was laughing hysterically all by herself while walking the halls of the SGC in the wee hours of the morning, they were wise enough to never ask.