Title: Five times someone counted to 100 – because 10 wasn't enough
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: language, mention of adult subject matter
Spoilers: SGU Season 1, up to "Pain"
Summary: Just what it says on the lid.
Characters: Rush, Young, Volker, Greer, Scott, Brody, TJ, Chloe, Camile, Eli, Vanessa, Lisa, Becker
Author's Notes: Written for the 100th prompt series at sg1_five_things.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with... ;-)
Thanks for reading! FEEDBACK OR REVIEWS ARE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED AND WILL RECEIVE A PERSONAL RESPONSE. ;-)
Five times someone counted to 100 – because 10 wasn't enough
TJ had warned him that the pain might be quite excruciating – she wasn't a surgeon, Dr. Brightman had disappeared in the middle of the procedure and Chloe and Vanessa had done their best but they didn't have the necessary training to assist in the surgery, either. Add to that the fact that they didn't have the proper tools, or an appropriate anesthetic or even a modicum of post-surgical care, and you had a recipe for agony. Rush never complained once, though – he knew that sooner or later he would have had to deal with the fact that the beacon implanted in his chest spelled danger for all of Destiny and her crew. He had consented to the surgery, however angry he was at the timing, but it would have to be some time, and probably always under heavy fire.
He was in no condition to work but he pushed himself anyway, out of spite or bravado or duty, he didn't even know. And even though he knew he was being unfair he couldn't help but blame Young for it all. He was the last person he wanted to see right now, as he was hunched over his console, whimpering with pain.
He barely noticed the gentle touch to his shoulder.
"You know how they always tell you to count backwards from ten when they're putting you under for surgery? And you never get past seven?"
He looked up – and of course it was Young.
"Yes," he hissed, "Now please, I have work to do."
Young could be stubborn as a mule, and he stood his ground.
"Try counting to one hundred. And for every number you add a thing you like."
Rush stared at him angrily, willing him to just disappear.
"Come on – try it. One – sunshine. Two – rain at night. Three – baby birds learning to fly. Four –"
"Colonel, for god's sake –"
"Cheese cake. Five – telephone pole throwing. Six –"
"It's called Caber Tossing."
"Okay then, Caber Tossing. Six –"
"Six – shortbread biscuits. Seven – well-made haggis. Eight – Archimedes. Nine – triangles."
"Triangles – why the hell not? Ten – Highland Sheep. Eleven… ow, damn it…"
It took them almost an hour, but Young was right – the stupid game worked. It helped to distract him, and he used it many times afterwards, challenging himself to never use the same item twice, until he no longer needed it.
TJ watched as Camile slowly walked out with her little bag of tea leaves. As soon as she was out of sight she buried her face in her hands and sighed deeply. She was so tired, and whenever she lay down she was restless, tossing and turning all night, only to get up again and feel tired all day. She was tempted to use some of her herbal medicines herself, but the fear that they might have some unknown side effects on her unborn child kept her from experimenting with alien flora.
She rubbed her eyes. "Hey, what's up?"
"Are you all right?"
"Just tired. Can't sleep either."
Chloe nodded. "I know what it feels like," she commiserated. "Wanna come play poker with Eli and Matt?"
"Thanks – maybe in a little while. I need to sort some of these herbs first."
"Well, then I'll help you. I don't mind. I have absolutely nothing else to do."
"Okay, then. Here, check and see how many of these tea leaves we still have."
Chloe peered at the box. "Are those the headache thingies?"
"Yes. They're very popular."
"Umm… eight, nine, ten. Ten."
"Wow. That's nowhere near enough. Good thing this vine grows like a weed!"
Chloe leaned in. "I think it's trying to take over the hydroponics lab," she whispered conspiratorially. "You'll see – vines everywhere, strangling the tomato plants, tying up Mr. Brody and doing nasty things to his body when he tries to water the greens…"
"Crawling up his pant leg, tickling him behind the knee…"
That made her burst out laughing.
"… wrapping itself around his you-know-what, and moving up to check out his belly button…"
TJ hid her face in her hands.
"… poking his tummy…"
TJ wheezed with laughter.
"Oh, stop it, stop it… whew… Yeah, it sure seems to go that way… Let's see – we need about a hundred of these. If I had a penny for every tea leaf I handed out here…"
Chloe nodded. "Isn't it strange? I haven't thought about money in ages. I suppose over time we'll develop a barter system for goods and services. See, history has shown that –"
And she launched into a fascinating account on the development of currency while they bagged tea leaves, and before they knew it they'd filled up a sizeable container with 100 bags.
And TJ discovered she enjoyed the work against all expectations.
"Help! Please! Somebody help me!"
"Relax, Volker, we're working on it."
Matthew Scott turned to Ronald Greer. "What's his problem, anyway?"
"Claustrophobic," Greer whispered. "We need to get him out of that damn elevator. He's going to do himself some damage, else."
"Please… Please…" The man was clearly sobbing now.
"Volker, listen up. My radio died, I'm gonna run and find Brody."
"Brody… please, yes…"
"All right. Greer is gonna stay here with you, okay? Just keep talking to him, so he knows you're there."
He slapped Greer's shoulder and took off at a jog.
"Yo, Volker." Greer kicked the elevator door.
"Oh my god, what was that? Help!"
Greer nodded to himself. "I kicked the fucking door. You heard that?"
A brief pause. "Yes, Greer, I heard that."
"All right, so kick back."
"Kick the door. Kick it back."
Greer grinned. Then he banged "shave and a haircut".
"Shave and a haircut – two bits" came the response.
Greer took a deep breath. "One hundred bottles of beer on the wall, one hundred bottles of beer – "
"It's 99, dummy."
"Well, 100 is a nice even number. You can have 99, all right?"
Thump-thump. "All right."
"One hundred bottles of beer on the wall, one hundred bottles of beer, take one down and pass it around, 99 bottles of beer on the wall."
"99 hundred bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall," came the muffled reply.
"98 bottles of beer on the wall…"
They were slightly hoarse, with 10 bottles of beer to go, when Scott returned with Brody. The engineer worked quietly, and when Volker crowed about the last bottle he cranked the door open.
Nobody saw the profusion of full body hugs that followed.
She knew it wasn't real – it never happened. Matthew Scott was alive and well. She hadn't really had sex with him, hadn't fought and killed him in a fit of rage. Vanessa James understood her tick-induced hallucinations were nothing but a magnification of her own frustrations and fears.
Yet she turned on her bedside lamp and got up for the fifth time to check the spot on the floor where she'd seen his blood pool after she'd smashed his head with a lamp.
Nothing – no stain.
She finally got dressed and made her way to the mess hall. The room was empty except for Eli who sat at a table with his back to the door, fiddling with some gadget.
"Hey, Eli," she said quietly, so as not to startle him.
The young man turned and smiled at her.
"Hey, good-looking," he countered. "Whassup?"
She shrugged. "Can't sleep."
"Want me to check you over for ticks?"
That made her smile.
She filled a cup with water and sat down next to him.
"What are you doing?" She gestured at the device.
Eli shrugged. "I dunno, really. I found it in one of the auxiliary control rooms."
"What is it?"
Eli scratched his head. "I thought it was a remote control at first, but now I think it's just entertainment. Like a Gameboy or something."
She craned her neck to see the screen of the little tablet, watching him push various buttons.
"It's like Tetris, I think. But you have to get these critters to jump over this thing and then you need to put an ancient symbol on their side, and then you have to fit them with the others on the other side."
"Like counting sheep?"
He looked up at her, surprised.
"Yes! You know what, it is EXACTLY like counting sheep!"
"How do you play?"
He showed her, and after a few mishaps and errors she did pretty well. Eli watched her corralling 10 creatures, then tapped on the small screen.
"You wanna have it?"
"Oh, Eli – you found it and-"
"No, no, you go ahead and take it. I need to go round up the kinos and download the data. Besides, there were others of these things."
"Hey, no problem. Have fun. Good night!"
She slowly made her way back to her quarters and stretched out on her bed, rolling over onto her stomach.
They really did look like sheep, she thought, as she guided the little electronic critters over the fence and into their pen. Black faces and black legs, and all fluffy. Okay, six legs instead of four, but who was counting?
She woke up the next morning, having slept soundly without nightmares, and when she checked the device the counter informed her that she had successfully penned 100 six-legged fluffy critters.
Lisa Park had always loved books – both the kind with pages and the two-legged kind. By the time she turned eleven she had pretty much gone through her entire local small town public library, everything on the kids through teens shelves. So she had moved on to the adults section, and holy crap, had that ever been an eye opener!
"So, mom, how many sex partners did you have before you married daddy?"
Her mom dropped the grocery bag.
"Honey, that's private."
"Aw, come on, mom, I'm doing empirical research. Your response will remain completely anonymous. I need it for my statistics experiment."
"Okay. Ummm… let's see… nine, no, ten. That includes your dad."
Lisa made a note. "Thanks, mom."
"What did your dad say?"
Lisa wagged a finger at her. "Confidential information, mom!"
Besides, she didn't want to hurt her mom's feelings.
Ever since then Lisa had kept track of those numbers. She'd weaseled the information out of every single lover, and she had never shared any of it.
Having always been a voracious reader, Lisa never considered books and sex to be all that different.
"How's that," Darren Becker asked.
"Well –" she brushed her hair out of her face, "You kinda look at the cover. Sometimes a shiny new book will attract your attention. Nice dust jacket, cool artwork, great reviews on the back. You know, what other people say about it."
"All right – I can see that."
"But sometimes, the old books, the ones that are a bit tattered and torn, they are like magnets. And you wonder, are they just well-loved, or has some kind of terrible thing happened, some tragedy that left them so worn."
"Mmmhmm, that makes sense."
"And then, there are those with the non-descript cover. The plain cloth-bound ones, that you'd never guess what's inside until you read them."
"Okay, I know a few of those."
"And of course there are the ones with the tacky cover art, and you think, no way, they can't really be that bad – but they are."
"Well, those Wormhole X-Treme tie-in novels, for one. Terrible on the outside, absolute dreck on the inside. But –"
Lisa sighed. "Many times those are the ones you just can't put down. It's like watching a train wreck – you can't do anything about it, and you can't look away. Sorta like a guilty pleasure."
"What about not judging books by their cover?"
"Ah – that's the surprise factor. What makes them so intriguing."
"Just like people, then."
"Just like people," she confirmed.
And mentally, she marked Darren Becker as number 100, a definite repeat-read, still kind of shiny, a little torn, at first view rather non-descript and a smidgen tacky on occasion. And definitely a guilty pleasure.
"What," he asked at her introspective look.
"Nothing," she said, and leaned down to kiss him.