Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for um, er, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. They will be returned to their original owners relatively undamaged, or at least suitably bandaged. This story was originally published in Our Favorite Things #26, and was a FanQ nominee for Best Crossover. (I lost to the inimitable Uncle Charlie, some of whose stories can be found on this website.)
Ernest Goes Walkabout
Stargate SG-1/Kung Fu: the Legend Continues
by Susan M. M.
"I was trying to find Jeremy," the old man said plaintively.
Detective Peter Caine looked up as Det. Mary Margaret Skalany escorted an elderly man into the detectives' bullpen of Sloanville's 101st precinct, grateful for the interruption. It was only quarter past nine, and already the day was off to a bad start. The dark-haired policeman was on hold with the coroner's office, and ready to strangle whomever had invented Muzak.
"Yeah, yeah, you told us you were looking for Jeremy. Let's try to find you first," Skalany said. She escorted him to a chair beside her desk. "You said your name was Ernest?"
The balding man nodded. "Dr. Ernest Littlefield."
"And you were trying to find Jeremy?" the brunette prompted.
Ernest nodded again. "He wasn't at his house. The wrong people were there."
The bullpen had a shabby aura to it. About a third of the desks in the bullpen were manned, their occupants engaged in the never-ending battle for truth, justice, and paperwork. The furniture was old and battered; most of the desks were cluttered with files. Two offices were in the back of the bullpen, one for Captain Karen Simms, one for Det. Kermit Griffin. Both offices had the Venetian blinds down for privacy.
"The lady there said she didn't know you, and that she didn't know Jeremy," Skalany reminded him. "Maybe it was the wrong house?"
Ernest shook his head. "It was Jeremy's house. He should have been expecting me."
Kermit, the precinct's computer expert, emerged from his office to raid the coffee pot. He was a tall, dark-haired man, wearing a slightly shabby suit and green-tinted glasses. Before he could escape back into his sanctum sanctorum, Skalany stopped him. "Hey, Kermit, could you check out a Jeremy Rigby for me? I have an address where he isn't - the real address might be a digit or two off, or maybe the same number but a different street."
Kermit whispered to her, "Do your own Googling, Mary Margaret. I'm not Peter's father, where you can wrap me around your little finger."
Skalany blushed. Her feelings toward Kwai Chang Caine were an open secret. His feelings toward her - well, who could tell what a Shao-lin master really thought or felt?
Kermit lifted his glasses, so she could see him wink. "Sorry, Mary Margaret. I've got other things to do."
Peter put his hand over the phone. "What's up, Mary Margaret? Alzheimer's walkabout?"
"Maybe, but we haven't had any Alzheimer's patients reported missing. Dr. Littlefield here tried to break into a house on Donna Drive. He said he was looking for Jeremy Rigby, but the people there didn't know him or Rigby." She turned back to Ernest. "Now, where do you live?"
"I live with Catherine."
"Catherine who?" Skalany asked.
"She's my fiancee."
"Where does Catherine live?" she asked patiently.
"She lives at her father's house, of course." Ernest looked around. "Lots of little computers. Catherine has a little computer. Not at all like her father's Univac."
One dark eyebrow rose at his terminology. "Do you know Catherine's address?"
Ernest felt his pockets. "I had it written down on a card, but I lost it."
"Phone number? E-mail?" Skalany prompted.
"Klondike 455," he replied.
"Klondike 455?" Skalany repeated. Phone numbers hadn't been given in that style in decades. And it wasn't a valid phone number anyway; it didn't have enough digits.
Peter swore. "They hung up on me." He glanced at Skalany. "Need some help?"
"Yeah, if you could try to track down Jeremy Rigby, I'll try to find where Dr. Littlefield ought to be." She turned to the old man and smiled. "Would you like a cup of coffee, sir? It might take us a little while to find Catherine or Jeremy."
Ernest smiled and nodded. "That would be very nice of you."
Five minutes later, Peter gestured Skalany over. Excusing herself quietly, she rose and walked over to Peter's desk. "What's up?"
Like Skalany, Peter kept his voice low. "I found Jeremy Rigby. He did live at 4812 Donna Drive, but he died nearly thirty years ago."
"No wonder the current resident didn't recognize his name. The house could have been sold four or five times since he passed on."
"He was an archaeologist, specializing in ancient Egypt. Taught history and anthropology at the university. Died in a drunk driving accident," Peter reported.
Skalany went back to her desk. "Dr. Littlefield? I'm sorry, but I have some bad news. Jeremy Rigby is dead."
"He was in a car accident. I'm very sorry." She took a deep breath. "Dr. Littlefield, it wasn't a recent accident. Professor Rigby died some time ago."
"Dr. Littlefield, Jeremy died almost thirty years," Skalany told him as gently as possible.
"I forgot the time difference." Ernest looked down for a moment. When he looked up, he said, "I was on another planet for several years. I lost track of the time."
"Uh-huh. " Skalany and Peter exchanged glances at that, but neither said anything. She thought a moment. "Is there someone we could call for you? A friend, a relative? I ... wasn't able to reach Catherine at that number."
"Catherine's friends: Jack, Samantha, Daniel, Teal'c. They come visit sometimes."
"Do you know their phone numbers or addresses?" When he shook his head, she continued, "Well, can you give me their last names?"
"Jack has an Irish name. O'Ryan? O'Malley? Samantha starts with a C: Carlin, Carson, Cartwright, something like that. Teal'c doesn't use a last name. Daniel, his name is Johnson, no, Jackson."
Peter looked up sharply. "Daniel Jackson?"
"I think so."
"Is he an archaeologist, like Jeremy?" Peter rose from his chair and walked over to Ernest and Skalany. "About my age, brown hair, glasses?"
"What is it, Pete?"
"I know a Daniel Jackson."
"Hardly an uncommon name," Skalany pointed out.
"Yeah, but Danny's an archaeologist, or at least he used to be. And his specialty, before he, uh, " Peter tried to find a polite euphemism, "left the field, was ancient Egypt. Just like Rigby."
"Still a big if."
"Can't hurt to e-mail him."
SG-1/KF:TLC ~~ SG-1/KF:TLC ~~ SG-1/KFTLC ~~ SG-1/KF:TLC
Colonel Jack O'Neill's left eyebrow rose as he saw his team mate, Dr. Daniel Jackson, walking out of the SGC mess hall door. "You look like something the cat dragged in - and dragged back out again."
Daniel lifted the Styrofoam cup in his hand. "Don't even talk to me until I've had my coffee."
O'Neill nodded. He was a muscular man in his fifties, his hair going gray. Like Daniel, he wore green fatigues. "Out late looking for Ernest?"
Daniel took a sip of coffee before replying. "Until oh-my-God in the morning."
"Figured you'd still be in bed. " They walked together along the subterranean corridor of Stargate Command to Daniel's office as they talked. "It's not even zero-eight hundred yet."
Daniel shook his head. "Couldn't sleep. Too worried about Ernest."
O'Neill didn't bother offering platitudes. He was concerned about Ernest, too. The old man wasn't entirely sane, after his experience off-world. And he was dangerously ignorant of modern life.
The two walked in silence for a moment. When they reached his office, Daniel opened the door. He waved at a chair loaded with manila folders, turned on the coffeemaker and the computer. O'Neill picked up the folders, dumped them on the already crowded desk, and sat down. The room was small and cluttered. Artifacts from dozens of cultures, both extraterrestrial and ancient Terran, vied for shelf space with scores of books. File cabinets lined the walls.
The archaeologist clicked buttons on the keyboard without looking up.
"Why did you bother getting coffee in the mess hall when you have a coffeemaker in your office?" O'Neill asked.
"My coffee is premium blend, organically grown Costa Rican. This," Daniel lifted up the cup for O'Neill to see, "is sludge. My coffee is for flavor. This," he drained the cup, "is for removing paint and waking up."
Daniel went onto the Internet. "Let me check my e-mail real quick. Then I'll see if any of the local hospitals have reported a John Doe."
He didn't add "or morgues," but O'Neill heard the words as clearly as if he'd spoken them aloud.
Daniel glanced at headings and senders, and decided most of them could wait. Then he took a second look. "Pete? What's he doing writing me? It's not Christmas." He glanced at the size of the message - only 5KB - and the heading 'QQ.' His lips curled up involuntarily; seeing their childhood abbreviation for "quick question" brought back a ton of memories. He pressed the mouse, opened the e-mail, and started reading.
"Oh, my God."
"What is it?" O'Neill leaned over his team mate's shoulder to peek.
"Ernest is in New York," Daniel replied.
"New York? How'd he get there?" O'Neill demanded.
"I dunno." Daniel read the e-mail aloud: "Danny, I know this is a long shot, but do you know a Dr. Ernest Littlefield? We've got an old man, possible Alzheimer's wanderer, who was picked up for trying to break into the house where an archaeologist friend lived thirty years ago. No ID, and he couldn't give us an address or a phone number, but he gave 'Daniel Jackson' as a contact. Any chance you're his Daniel Jackson?"
"Who's Pete?" O'Neill glanced at the signature: just the first name, and two numbers with an area code he didn't recognize, one marked work, the other cell.
"An old friend. He's a cop in Sloanville, New York." Daniel reached for the phone. "I'll call Pete and let him know we're on the way to fetch Ernest. Then we can call Catherine and let her know we've found him." It was a shame that cell phone signals couldn't reach from the bowels of SGC to the surface; then he and O'Neill could make both calls simultaneously. He looked at the number at the bottom of the screen and began dialing.
The phone rang twice.
"Detective Caine, 101st precinct."
"Pete? It's Daniel." Pete started to say 'hi,' but Daniel interrupted, "Is Ernest all right?"
"Yeah, he's fine. Just sitting here drinking coffee and eating doughnuts."
"Thank God! He disappeared three days ago and we've been worried sick about him. He's, uh, not quite in touch with reality."
"Yeah, we kinda guessed that when he told us he'd spent several years on another planet," Peter told him.
The amused note in Peter's voice relieved Daniel; if Ernest hadn't been believed, then the secret of Project Stargate was safe ...for now. "Your e-mail said he was trying to break in somewhere. Are there any charges filed against him?"
"Not officially, no. He just scared the lady who lives there now. If you hadn't called, we probably would have wound up sending him to County General for a seventy-two hour psych evaluation."
"No, don't do that." Daniel realized he sounded panicked. He forced his voice to remain calm. "You know once you get into the system, they never let go of you."
"Oh, yeah," Peter agreed. He smiled to himself, knowing Daniel wouldn't - couldn't - know he was quoting Kermit's catch-phrase. "As long as he's out of our hair and released to someone responsible, I think I can get the captain to keep the paperwork to an absolute minimum."
"The less red tape, the better," Daniel agreed. "I'll come out there to get him, but I don't know how long it'll take to make travel arrangements. Can you keep him safe until I get there?"
Peter paused a moment before answering. "The captain's not going to let him just hang around here all day, and I can't just throw him in a cell." He hemmed a minute. "He's not dangerous, is he?"
"No, no," Daniel assured him. "Just a little confused."
"Then how 'bout I get my father to watch him? He's pretty good at taking in strays."
"I finally get to meet the infamous Pop? Cool!" Daniel exclaimed. "I'm gonna let you go so I can call off the search here and start making travel arrangements."
"Okay. Call me as soon as you have an ETA, all right?"
"Will do," Daniel promised. "See you soon." He hung up the phone, then immediately picked it up again. He dialed again; this number he had memorized.