Title: Five times Jack O'Neill was caught doodling (and one time that he wasn't)
Word count: ~2,000
A/N: For Pepper_field, because she could use a smile right now. Thanks to mrspollifax for her beta work.
The whole thing started with a doodle.
Not exactly true, but Jack would like to place the blame squarely on that innocent drawing anyway. And "squarely" was appropriate, since it finally came to a head in his geometry class.
High school geometry wasn't something Jack was ever going to use anyway, by his logic, so why bother paying attention? His little drawing was simply keeping him from slowly going insane while Mrs. Merilee droned on and on up at the chalkboard, drawing lines, listing formulas; it was all some sort of lower level of hell.
His drawing started small, in the margins of the book open in front of him. First he drew a tree and some bushes, then a guy crouching behind the bush. As the class ticked on he added a ridge and a valley and three more guys with pistols. Then the bad guys. The rifle with "BANG" and little lines coming out the front. If the leader of the good guys was going to all this trouble, might as well give him a reward, and she was hot. Jack wouldn't consider himself necessary a breast man; he sort of liked all parts of girls equally. But if this was his fantasy, hell, might as well make it good. The girl gagged and tied to a tree behind enemy lines suddenly experienced an increase in her bust line.
Ah, damn. Mrs. Merilee had turned around.
"I hope that you are taking copious notes for Thursday's quiz."
And that's how it started. Or maybe more accurately, that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. After that came a trip to the guidance counselor, another in an ongoing string of them. They called his dad in, there were discussions about Jack's "issues" and his "future" and the whole ordeal ended with him in a recruiter's office.
Three months later, "BANG" wasn't some abstract drawing. It became very real, very quickly.
There wasn't much else he could do but try to distract himself from the pain. So Jack gripped that rock with the slanted edge tight in his hand and he scratched his service number into the concrete wall of his cell over and over and over. The etching was crude.
The words were in a foreign language, but barked at him from beyond the bars the way they were, he understood somehow. Some things were universal in gesture and tone. He dropped the rock.
Years later, as Jack watched the bombing of Bagdad on TV, he wondered if that rudimentary jail was still standing.
He doesn't hate briefings. Really. Years of experience have taught Jack O'Neill that briefings, or preparedness in general, were key to saving lives. But there was a point when over-preparedness became a problem. It made his people start to get jumpy, and worse, it led to self-doubt and second-guessing. No, Jack O'Neill was a man who believed in laying it on the table, and moving on.
A certain member of his newly-formed team apparently believed otherwise. Jack wanted to interrupt Dr. Jackson and insist that they cut this briefing-turned-lecture short, but the thing was, it was all new and precarious. Jack wasn't sure that was the best idea while they were all still trying to figure each other out and unit cohesion had to be considered. So Jack stayed quiet and let Dr. Jackson continue on with his slide presentation.
It was painful.
In an attempt to look like he was paying attention, Jack started to draw a stick figure of the good doctor. The eyeglasses were a tad exaggerated. OK, so maybe a lot exaggerated. The shaggy hair was added next. Then a pocket protector. Sure, Daniel never actually wore one, not now anyway. But Jack was convinced that in junior high Daniel sported one. Probably was on the chess team too. (The chessboard was added to the drawing.)
Or maybe Dr. Jackson had a life after all? A life that included other interests that normal people had? Jack considered the idea of adding a hockey stick, but that wasn't right. Soccer ball? Baseball bat?
Jack scribbled them out and put his version of hieroglyphics all around Daniel's stick figure head.
While Dr. Jackson turned toward a slide to highlight something, Captain Carter leaned over.
"Your hieroglyphics look like the old space invaders game." There was a beat before Carter added the mandatory "sir" on the end. She was careful to keep her voice low so nobody else around the table could hear.
It wasn't what Jack expected from her, and he shifted in his seat while surprise shifted toward pleasure at finding her comment humorous. Apparently there was more behind that veneer of the dependable, straight-laced, sterling officer that she put on.
Someday – and Jack hoped it was not too far off – they might all learn to be who they really were around each other. As soon as that day came, he was totally cutting briefings short, dear god help them all.
How did you explain what a "doodle" was to an alien? And furthermore, how weird was his life that he had to contemplate such a question.
"It's… um…" Jack shrugged his shoulders. "Something to pass the time."
Thor blinked. "I thought you called that 'fishing?'"
OK, time to regroup. Teal'c had that look about him that most people thought was serene, but Jack was sure it meant that he was laughing on the inside.
"We have multiple methods." Jack cleared his throat. "So, that invisible drone tech, what do we need to do to get Carter a looksee at that?"
"Interesting," Bra'tac said as he reached over and slid the paper closer to examine it. "In our culture, such scratchings are considered a symptom of a feeble mind."
Oh yeah, T was definitely having fun with this one, silently of course.
There hadn't been opportunity to pack carefully prior to the mission. It was one of those instances when Jacob showed up in the gate room with news of impending doom and they leapt right in, so there really wasn't time to go get his yo-yo.
The thing that Jack was convinced would surprise people if they found out about the Stargate program was that most of the time his job could be kind of boring. No one ever considered that when they couldn't for some reason use the Stargate, they had to instead endure a long trip back home after a mission in a cramped tel'tak.
By day two, Daniel had permanently buried his head in books and Teal'c was doing a lot more kelnoreeming than was probably necessary. Carter, on the other hand, she was a promising distraction. He found her in the engine room, sitting Indian-style, with two computers in front of her.
"Whatcha doin'?" he asked, sitting down next to her.
"Do you really want an answer to that? Or are you just making conversation because you're bored?"
He tried to hide the smirk. "I could think of a couple of ways of passing the time that are a lot more fun than… that."He gestured toward the computers.
Jack watched her cheeks color slightly as she glanced around. Though it was being kept quiet, and despite the fact that they did go through channels to get the special exception made, this thing between them was still new and old habits died hard.
"There's no one here but us," he reminded her. "I meant what I said before, Sam." Their eyes met and held for a moment, she seemed to relax.
"Here," Sam turned and dug through the contents of her laptop bag, coming up with a pen and some sheets of paper. "You can keep yourself entertained while I run these diagnostics."
"And what am I supposed to do, draw you hearts and flowers?"
"More like nuclear reactors and motorcycles."
He leaned in and nudged her shoulder with his own. "That's my girl."
"Hey!" He suddenly had an idea of what he wanted to draw for her. "I got it." He scooted a little apart from her so she couldn't see, and immediately got to work. Carter shook her head and focused back on her computer screens.
Jack thought he was being tasteful while at the same time, basically, being honest. He would not mind at all if she'd do this part or that. Plus he even managed to find a way to work his yo-yo into the illustration.
"Jack, what the hell is that?"
Jack jumped. Then he fumbled to put the paper away as quick as possible. Either he'd been so involved that he hadn't heard Jacob approach, or the Tok'ra had some new mad sneaky skills.
"But I thought that looked like my daughter and—?"
"Sam, do you have something you want to tell me?'
Then Jack did the only reasonable thing a man could do in this situation: he fled and left Sam to deal with her dad. Yep. Next time, no matter how big and bad the threat was, Jack was going to be sure to take the time to pack the yo-yo.
Jack exited the elevator and turned down a corridor. It really didn't matter which one, because he wasn't going any place in particular. Sam was asleep now and it gave him a chance to get out of the infirmary and get some fresh air. Well, so to speak.
The last 14 hours had been some of the longest in his life. The variety of emotions he was feeling ranged from awestruck to terrified, and everything in between. He needed the chance to stretch his legs and to think.
He wandered past the cafeteria, but he wasn't hungry, so he didn't stop. He went by Teal'c's quarters but then remembered that Teal'c was off-world at the moment. He was going to be disappointed when he returned to find that he'd missed the big event. But leave it to Carter, who always arrived 15 minutes early to everything, to be a couple of weeks early with this too.
Jack found himself in front of the little on-base store, stocked with some basics like shampoo, toothpaste, and hand cream. He went inside, nodded a hello to the cashier, and perused the half-dozen shelves of stuff. Suddenly, his eyes settled on something unexpected.
Back in his office, Jack closed the door and put the small, leather-bound journal down on his desk. He'd had a flash of inspiration, something he wouldn't tell Carter about later because he didn't want her to think him too sentimental or sappy. But it only made sense that if he was going to do this, the first entry should be made today.
Jack figured that years from now, perhaps even after he was long departed from this world, the Stargate program would finally be made public. On that day, his kid—yeah, his and Sam's kid, how weird did that sound? The kid deserved to know what they'd done, the type of people they worked with, adventures they'd had, the whole deal. And the last thing Jack wanted was for his daughter to hear all about it from Daniel. Daniel would surely slant the tale his way.
Nope. The day that his daughter was born and now sleeping peacefully in the infirmary alongside a tired but happy mom, that was the day that Jack would start to tell the story. And it was going to be great, with pictures and everything.
He opened to page one and drew a circle, then four little stick figures walking up to it.
"This is your dad, your mom, and their two best friends, and this is the Stargate." He wrote. "You wouldn't be here if it weren't for this."