"Whoa!" Jack Carter said, stumbling a few steps back into the restroom. "Fargo! Watch where you're going, will you?"
"Sorry!" he whispered urgently while peeking around the corner of the entrance door. Apparently satisfied, he pushed, or tried to anyway, Jack out of the room so he could close the door properly.
Jack sighed theatrically, staying put and therefore keeping the door open. "What button did you push this time?"
"Hey!" Fargo glared at him, crossing his arms in front of him in protest. "I didn't push any buttons!"
"Then why are you hiding? And from whom?"
Fargo peeked out from around the door again. "You haven't seen me if you come across Dr Stark, okay?"
Jack watched Fargo vanish into one of the cubicles. Shaking his head, he finally stepped out of the door completely.
Jack stopped short. First Fargo was hiding from Stark and now the man himself appeared. This was getting more and more interesting. "What?" He nodded towards the door now a couple of meters behind him. "I'm so not going to help you with that one."
"What?" Stark looked rather confused for a moment before rolling his eyes. "Thanks Carter. But I think I can manage myself."
"Good." Jack smirked and turned around again. "See ya later."
"Carter." The sigh in Stark's voice made Jack mentally high-five himself. "I just wanted to know if you've seen Fargo recently."
"Sure, why? What did he do?"
"Nothing," Stark said. "He hasn't caused any accidents, he's finishing every job I give him before it's due and puts it on my desk or sends me the files. But I haven't seen him for the second day running."
"Aww," Jack said, smiling innocently. "Are you saying you're missing Fargo? That's so ... cute!"
Stark squinted then turned on the spot, storming off again. Jack chuckled quietly to himself as he walked away in the opposite direction. Maybe Jo knew what was going on with Fargo and Stark.
Sam was working on one of her pet projects, one of those that didn't involve any technologies that'd make SARAH suspicious, and she was enjoying a nice cup of coffee while doing so. She was trying to figure out a particularly difficult problem - and almost had a grasp on the solution - when the phone rang.
"Damn!" Sam muttered, glaring at the screen in front of her. The ringing cell phone not only interrupted her concentration but also sent the solution to the problem back into hiding in her subconscious mind. "What?" she grumbled into the phone.
Sam immediately sat up straight and winced at the movement. There was amusement in his voice but that didn't mean she wasn't embarrassed at not having checked the caller ID prior to answering.
"I'm not interrupting something, am I?"
Sam smirked, even though he couldn't see it. "Well, sir..."
She chuckled quietly. "Sorry, sir. I was trying to figure out some equations and was that close to the solution when, you know."
"Ah. My timing was impeccable, then. You're on medical leave. You're supposed to relax, remember?"
Sam rolled her eyes. "Did you need something, sir? Because, you know, I'm on medical leave..."
"Smooth, Carter. Smooth." There was a chuckle on the other end of the phone. "Anyway, according to my neat little calendar I'm supposed to meet with General Mansfield in a town called Eureka in a couple of days."
Sam groaned. Loudly.
"I suppose that can't wait until I'm back on duty?" She asked, knowing his answer already. "Or maybe you've got somewhere else to be? A little invasion maybe?"
This time he sighed. "I'm sorry but it seems I've used up all my wildcards and excuses. It was made very clear to me that I'm expected to show my face in geek central sooner rather than later." When the phone stayed silent, he added, "Carter, you still there?"
"Shh." She ordered absently. Then, remembering who she was talking to, she blushed brightly, "Sorry, sir. I'm thinking."
Jack shook his head in amusement. Then he opened a drawer and pulled out a yo-yo. He figured he might just as well have fun while he listened to his favourite Colonel think.
Meanwhile, across the country, Sam was making plans. She discarded bits and pieces and replaced them with new ones until she was satisfied. And just in time too, because just as she was finished Jack spoke up again.
"Carter? Are you done thinking yet? I don't want you to overexert yourself. You're still on medical leave, remember?"
Her eyes lit up in amusement as she chuckled at the little whine in his voice. "Messed up another yo-yo, sir?" There was a growl and a couple of giggles escaped her before she could stop herself.
"I blame the medication," she replied almost absently. "Now, may I make some requests regarding your visit to Eureka, sir?"
Jack Carter glared at the computer in front of her. Once again it wasn't doing what he told it to do. Or maybe it was just hungry and reports where like chocolate to it. Before he could contemplate further on the mysterious disappearance of yet another of his reports he heard steps coming towards him and he looked up, the corners of his mouth turning upward when he saw the grin on his Deputy's face.
"Jo! Looks like someone had a great lunch."
She smirked at him. "Sorry Carter. I don't ... lunch and tell. How's the paperwork going?"
"Slowly." He frowned at the monitor. "And I swear this computer has a mind of its own."
"A mind that doesn't like you?" Jo asked in amusement.
Jack huffed but gave up on the computer for the moment. Instead he got up and sat on the edge of his desk. "Do you have any idea what's going on between Fargo and Stark?"
Jo cocked an eyebrow. "Why?"
He shrugged, then told her about the incident at GD that morning. Jo started to chuckle half-way through and, once he was finished, told him about her very own meeting with Fargo.
"So he knows Sam?"
"Yup. I'd say he's quite the fan-boy when it comes to her. Actually, why don't we ask her if she remembers him?" Jo asked.
Jack snorted. "Would you forget Fargo?"
Jo stopped short, then shook her head.
"Exactly." Jack said.
Her head tilted, she watched him for a couple of seconds. "You're going to ask her tonight, aren't you?"
He grinned widely. "Oh absolutely!"
Nathan Stark sighed deeply before entering Café Diem. Fargo was evading him for the third day in a row now and he was still trying to figure out if this was a good or a bad thing. After all, there still were no Fargo-type accidents and all work was done on time. Still, Stark liked to be in control, and not knowing what caused Fargo's sudden change in behaviour certainly did not count as being in control.
"Dr Stark, what can I do for you?" Vincent asked, interrupting Stark's train of thought.
"Coffee." He turned around and looked over the customers of Café Diem. And sure enough Fargo was nowhere to be seen. Their tourists however, were seated in what everyone now considered to be their corner. "Tourists, ha," he mumbled to himself. All they did was sitting around in here, dancing on his nerves and making friends with everyone in here.
"There you go," Vincent said as he put a steaming mug in front of him. "Anything else?"
Stark was still watching Sam and her little band of merry friends. He nodded slowly, more to himself than to answer Vincent's question. Eventually turning around and focusing on Vincent, he smiled winningly. "I'll have your Special of the Day."
Vincent smiled happily. "One Special coming right up."
"Vincent," Stark said before Vincent could vanish again. "Have you seen Fargo recently?"
"Sure, he had dinner for most days as usual." He frowned. "Actually, lately he phoned in his order rather than coming by himself. Why? Is something wrong?"
"No." Stark smiled, shaking his head slightly. "No. Everything is fine."
He waited until Vincent was gone before he grabbed his coffee and walked over to Sam's table. It was time to find out just how touristy their tourists really were. Smirking when the conversation stopped as he neared the table, he grabbed a chair from the next one and sat down at the only empty space left.
"Stark," Carter said in way of greeting and Stark's grin grew even more. The sheriff clearly didn't want him here.
"Sheriff Carter, how are you this fine evening?"
Cassie and Zoe looked at each other before Cassie shrugged her shoulders and turned to Stark. "Someone overdosed on happy pills."
Sam, Jo and Zane snorted at both Cassie's comment and the surprised-turned-amused look Stark was sending her. "Jack probably busted Stark's normal dealer and the new one gave him the wrong stuff," Sam added in a dead-serious tone. Then, just because she could, she leaned over to Jack and kissed his cheek. Wriggling her eyebrows she continued in a rather suggestive voice, "Good job. We'll celebrate later tonight."
While Stark clearly wasn't quite sure what to make of the latest turn of events everyone else around the table was fighting hard not to laugh out loud. The, albeit fleetingly, expression of confusion on Nathan Stark's face was a truly rare occasion and needed to be appreciated accordingly.
Still keeping a straight face, Sam gave Stark a sweet and innocent smile. "So, how was your day? Done anything interesting? In fact, what are you doing all day? Surely you can't stand in front of a mirror for hours on end, appreciating your good looks."
Stark, having found his balance again, rolled his eyes at her. "I could tell you but then I'd have to shoot you."
"And Jack would have to throw you into a mirror-less jail cell," Sam said dismissively. "You wouldn't risk that."
"She's got you there, pal," Jack said, grinning at him.
Stark sighed exaggeratedly. "Fine. You win."
Sam and Jack high-fived each other, causing Sam to wince when she moved a bit too quickly. "Note to self," she muttered, "Move slowly."
Stark raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment on it. Instead he leaned back and asked casually, "You know, we don't have many tourists around here. What's there to do all day?"
"Gossiping," Sam said immediately.
"Eating," Vincent said just as he put Stark's food in front of him.
"Driving through the country side," Cassie said.
"Reading," Sam added, pulling a romance novel of all things from under the table. "And annoying the hell out of you."
"Mocking," Zane said, smirk firmly in place.
"And of course there's always the skinny dipping," Cassie added with a straight face. Sam's face lit up immediately. "Yeah, that was fun."
Vincent, who had stayed to listen in a bit, Nathan, Jack and Zane stared at them with various degrees of open mouths.
"I so have to try this," Zoe said, causing her dad to almost choke on his own saliva.
"What?" she asked innocently, shrugging her shoulders before joining into the other women's giggles.
"Men are so predictable," Jo said in-between laughter.
"What?" Zane said immediately. "Tell me when and where and I'll happily skinny dip with you."
"See?" Jo said. "Totally predictable."
"Nathan?" They all turned to Allison who'd walked up to them while they were still laughing. And, judging by the tone of voice, their entertainment wasn't finished yet. Unless you were Stark, of course.
"Allison." He put on his most charming smile. "Join me for dinner? Vincent's Special is excellent tonight."
"What about General Mansfield? He and this other guy will be here tomorrow morning and they'll expect full reports on everything!"
"Relax." Nathan stood up, moved his chair and pulled up another chair and table. "The reports are all done and it won't hurt to have a proper meal before going through them again."
"Never thought I'd say this," Sam said from her corner, "but he's right. I always work better with a full belly."
Cassie snorted next to her, mumbling quiet enough for only Sam and Zoe on either side of her to hear, "Yeah, when you remember to eat."
"Come on, Allison," Sam continued, ignoring Cassie completely, "You don't wanna miss out on us mocking Stark, right?"
Finding herself confronted with several sets of pleading eyes - including Jack and Nathan which in itself was something she never thought she'd see - she caved in and sat down. Looking at both Nathan and Jack, she said, "You better figure out who's going to pay for my dinner."
"He is," they said in unison, pointing their fingers at each other. Allison felt some of the tension leave her body as she watched them glare at each other. And she laughed out loud when they continued once again in unison, "Okay, I am."
Still chuckling, she nodded at Sam, "You're right. They're very entertaining."
"I know." Sam grinned in return, patting Jack's arm when he gave her a hurt look.
Sometime later, they'd just ordered a round of desserts, Cassie's eyes suddenly opened up comically wide. Everyone at the table was still trying to figure out what was going on when she got up and, seeing no easy way out of the corner, climbed over the backrest of the booth she and Sam started their afternoon in all by themselves, and hurried towards the door.
"Uncle Jack!" she all but screamed, hugging him tightly.
A/N: Has anyone found December yet? I've just been told it's the New Year - Happy New Year! - but I honestly can't remember doing anything in December (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). Hopefully I can go back to a more regular writing schedule now... Anyway, looks like my muses figured Jack O'Neill needed to appear. Hope you don't mind.