One of the Guys
It was a little before the big rush when I walked into the mess. I remembered at the last minute that it was chili day, something that was a bit different from the daily grind of mystery meat and overcooked vegetables. Taking my place in the line I only recognized a few of those in the mess. This was definitely no officers mess so why was he here. Surely he had other things to do than sit in a room full of enlisted airmen and Jarheads. But there he was in the line accepting a heaping ladle full of chili, extra cornbread, and making a beeline for the chocolate cake. There a few people in front of me was Dr. Daniel Jackson in the wrong place for his civilian hide. It didn't seem to faze him though as he took off out of the line but not before snatching a cup of blue Jell-O on the way.
Shaking my head I resumed waiting for my meal but couldn't help but risk a glance to the archeologist. Major Carter was busy with some outside consultants and I know Colonel O'Neill was still in that meeting with the brass. If I wasn't mistaken the final member of his team was currently visiting his son so it left Jackson all alone. But the weird thing was he was rarely seen outside of his office especially here in the enlisted Mess. Actually Jackson was quite famous for going without food, something that would make any honorable marine like myself proud on the battlefield.
As for myself I'm Gunnery Sergeant Sanderson who doesn't normally associate myself with civilians. But Jackson was always different from all the other scientific types. He never really caused trouble or even judged those in the military as being stupid and naïve. But then again most called him innocent and naïve. Accepting my helping of food I didn't spare any chance to miss out on that chocolate cake I saw Jackson pick up. I see a few other in my company behind and in front of me, some shooting glances and barbs worthy of being borderline childish. Apparently they all noticed Jackson too because I already heard one mention look at the one who strayed from the pack. Or my favorite looks like O'Neill or Teal'c isn't here to protect him this time. Oh what I wouldn't give to finally shove it in their faces and say that Jackson is pretty good at protecting himself. If he can be a part of a first contact team surely he can defend himself against a bunch of immature and childlike kids.
"Gunny," one of my company, Williams, nodded towards me.
"Come sit with us," another, Smith, shouted out.
I didn't really respond with anything more than a short laugh. I watched the younger members of my company go to that usual large table where the wild things were, so to speak. I shoot a smile in their direction but opt for a quieter abode. Steering away from the self-proclaimed marine table I walk to the empty table where Jackson now sat. I can almost imagine the comments coming my way for declining a seat with my brethren for a civilian. Something about the scene just made me sit with him though. Normally the archeologist sat in his office or was with his team for lunch but not today. No today he decided to brave the mess designed for the normal people of the SGC. But he wasn't entirely alone because I watched as Sgt. Siler took his seat next to Jackson. Something about Jackson attracted all those in the base that were taken for granted. Maybe because he was the leader of being taken for granted because I have yet to see any of my men even thank him for his service.
"Hey Sylvester," Jackson greeted and it was the first time I even heard Siler's first name.
"Dr. Jackson," Siler returned.
"It's Daniel," Jackson corrected.
I watched the scene from afar noting that Siler must be in the middle of a job given his rushed eating. I do recall some Gate malfunction in the Control Room that left one SF nearly headless. But it didn't mean he wasn't personable because Siler was talking animatedly with Jackson as he stuffed his face. As for Jackson he just sat back and listened occasionally taking a bite of his chili. I took up the innocent role and took a seat at the table next to Jackson, at the end of the one containing a few visiting cadets. Absently eating my meal I watched as Jackson continued to listen to Siler, smiling with the occasional laugh as I wondered what made him tick. Out of everyone on the base he seemed to take the brunt of every bad situation. Every Jarhead in my company could sit and compare scars and injuries but it was Jackson that had more inside and out to put them all to shame. Take the last mission SG-1 embarked on that left all four members with a varying degree of injury including a dislocated shoulder for Colonel O'Neill.
Digging into my meal I can feel the eyes boring into the back of my head thanks to my counterparts. I don't care because if they think I am suddenly disgracing my company by taking interest in a civilian than they have it really wrong. If anything Jackson has seen more combat and action then all of them combined. Truthfully there were only a handful of us that saw hardcore combat and war. Me included seeing as I have already served in Iraq, Mogadishu, and Bosnia. But all those seemed to pale in comparison to standing up against torture at the hands of the Goa'uld. Something all members of SG-1 could easily attest to.
Ten minutes went by until Siler stood up quickly and said his goodbyes. I have gained a lot of respect for that man considering this base wouldn't run without him. Every little thing I used to take for granted until a short occurred in the marine's barracks. On the double and in the nick of time Siler showed up before a brawl could break out between my men. No power on game night was not a good mix. But he changed the fuses and bulbs without a thought or sound before retreating back to his previous tasks. No thanks and no appreciation was what he received for his work but that was the norm for one Sgt. Siler. One of these days I need to go up to him and give him a break, maybe help on a task or two when my team was standby. I may be a marine with good intentions of shooting everything that moved by I did come in handy around the house or so my wife seems to think.
After Siler walked away Jackson went back to his quiet lunch even if I could tell he was trying his hardest to ignore the painful remarks coming from the table behind him. Four-eyes or Geek were just a few of the not so creative names some of the younger and newer marines had come up with. At least he seemed used to Geek and four-eyes came naturally for him but then again his team teased him with those all the time along with Sneezy and Doc. I took that moment to make my move as he went back to the journal he was reading, another translation I presumed.
"Is this seat taken?" I asked out of politeness.
"No," Jackson looked left and right a little unsure before shaking his head.
"Good, need a seat," I commented.
I was happy to earn a smile as his eyes shone behind his glasses. For the first time since coming to this base I took in his appearance, really took it in. And for the love of all that's holy does this man get any sleep. Those bags and dark circles couldn't have popped up overnight. No they were a product of a week's worth of no sleep. But it would explain his constant companion, that strong cup of black coffee he sipped from. God he needed a break from it all and maybe a stiff drink. Putting the dark circles aside I also noted the white gauze peeking out beneath the oversized BDU shirt unbuttoned against regulation. The way he sat hunched over leaning on the table for support spoke of bruised or cracked ribs, or possibly even a blow to the stomach. That's right SG-1's not so spectacular mission. Some grenade from a society a little too technologically advanced for their liking had sent Jackson soaring. If I could recall from that day of standing on guard in the Gate Room I do remember Jackson practically falling on the ramp covered in blood.
But that was a week ago and by the looks of it Jackson was nearly healed. But he never really truly waited until all his injuries healed before jumping back into work. It was no different from the soldier's outlook of patching it up to get back to the battlefield. Actually where battlefield injuries were concerned Jackson would have made a good soldier. That stubborn determination that has kept him alive all this time but also that dogged pigheadedness enough to piss the hell out of any CO. He knew all the stories of O'Neill trying to keep Jackson down and out of trouble but everything he seemed to say or do went awry. Especially when it came to the archeologist being injured because "recovery time" didn't seem to be a phrase in his vocabulary.
"How are you Jackson?" I asked.
"Good, and you?" he responded with a smile.
"I'm good finally have a break," I said referring to the endless string of situations that seemed to have plagued us lately.
"Yeah no kidding," Jackson laughed.
I descended into silence as I watched Jackson take a piece of cornbread and scoop up the remains of chili at the bottom of the bowl. If anyone asks I'm a witness that Daniel Jackson actually ate a decent meal today. Maybe not quite balanced but it was a meal. Sighing deeply Jackson pushed the now empty bowl aside and moved the plate that contained that sinful slice of cake forward. Death by chocolate didn't even describe it as I did the same. The chef's at the SGC should really commend themselves for actually making something edible today. I watched as the cake and Jell-O disappeared before Jackson made one final trip to the coffee station. They say never mess with a marine's coffee but I think they have it all wrong, never mess with an archeologist's coffee.
"Leaving already Jackson?" I asked as he sat back down.
"Actually yes, if you don't mind. I have a lot of work to catch up on," he lowered his head in a way that could have easily been mistaken for bashful if unfamiliar with his expression.
"No problem I understand," I reassure him.
"Thanks," he offered me a smile.
Finishing the last dregs of his coffee he put a lid on his second cup as he collected his tray. With a final smile and goodbye Jackson made his way towards the dirty tray line. I watched as he skillfully ignored the stares and comments by those less intelligent while he walked out of the main doors. I have to admit for someone who most proclaimed as an easy target Jackson had a thicker skin than they realized. Nothing seemed to break his stride or even dampened that determined spirit. Even in the gym where he was most vulnerable Jackson always went through with his routine without a care in the world. While I wanted to think on the subject a little more I didn't have the opportunity. With only an hour to spare I needed to get my butt to supply to pick up a few things before my date with the firing range.
After an hour spent trying to tie up loose ends in supply I finally step into the range. The sounds of M9 and P90 fire instantly throw me on the battlefield in an innate soldier's instinct. I sometimes wonder if that innate instinct was a part of some of the civilian's on SG teams, say Jackson for example. I know Teal'c is born and bred but Jackson is totally different. Scholar through and through some would say he had no business on a frontline, first contact team but others like myself saw passed that ignorance. But even with his experience off-world was Jackson on the battlefield with the smell of gunpowder and the sound of gunfire?
"Same lane as last time Gunny?" the duty sergeant asked.
"Same old, same old," I sighed.
"Lane three is open," he reported back.
I nod my thanks as I stepped up to the lane. Laying the P90 and MP5 on the bench behind me I wanted my station as clear as possible. Qualifications, or in my case annual qualifications, are coming up and P90's were a relatively new addition to our unit. First contact teams like SG-1 had already been upgraded but Hammond had just issued the order for all marine teams to do the switch over. First things first, I wanted to unload a few 9mm magazines into the unsuspecting target. Maybe this one would have the face of Apophis like one of the last. A practical joke by none other than Colonel O'Neill before being shut down by General Hammond. But trust me when I say that my men took great delight putting as many holes as possible in that snakehead's face.
I watch as the target slides into focus when pushing the button. Nope, not Apophis just a standard USAF circle and crosshair. Unholstering my weapon I went to take stance when the report of an M9, one with perfect aim I might say as I look on at the adjacent target, gets my attention. Ever so sneakily I lean back to look at who is in lane 4. It's hard to recognize him at first, what with the standard green SGC BDU's but the completely out of regulation way the shirt is worn instantly alerts me. Standing with a stance that some cadets would be jealous of and an aim that would have commanding officers proud was none other than Daniel Jackson. It took me a second but I remembered, qualifications extended beyond those in the service.
The fact that he was voluntarily here at the range surprised me because most civilians on base had to be bribed to even set foot in the armory. But Jackson stood there popping off shot after shot like any trained soldier. It was strange to see because at first glance Jackson looked just like any soldier on base air force or otherwise. It wasn't until one caught a look at how he so eloquently failed at meeting regulations with his uniform when it was apparent. I have to say O'Neill trained him well, molded him into a good little soldier boy. But hot damn did that kid have an aim on him! If only I could rub some of that discipline onto my men and maybe some of them wouldn't be under the General's radar so often. Not even that bandage and subsequent injuries that it covered slowed him down.
A part of me wanted to not attract attention, a little fearful that my insolent and ignorant cohorts were somehow watching, and ignore him; but the other part wanted to dig deeper. Three more reports were given off before the red light was hit, the target sliding up to Jackson's face. The sound of the pistol being holstered, the safety clicking into place told me he had taken a break. Looking at the target myself I'm impressed, 5 out of 8 shots center mass another dead center. If it were a Goa'uld it would surely be dead. But according to scuttlebutt Jackson never shot that good off-world, good enough to make any snakehead who crossed him dead but definitely not at this quality. Maybe it was adrenaline but something told me it was Jackson's pacifist side. I couldn't hold back any longer as I wanted to know more so as nonchalantly as ever I alerted him to my presence.
"Nice shootin' Jackson," I commented.
"Um….Thanks," he replied a little too shyly for my taste.
Did he have an arrogant bone in his body?
"Qualifications coming up, huh?" I struck up casual conversation.
"Yeah, I almost forgot," I could almost see his eyebrows lifting in response in that little way he does.
"It wouldn't surprise me," I cringed the minute those words left my mouth thinking what they sounded like.
"Excuse me?" he inquired.
"I meant you've been busy," I corrected quickly.
"A little bit," he made no big deal about it as if it were any 9 to 5 shift.
"A little bit? Jackson, you're shooting with your hand wrapped in gauze," I reminded him.
"Doesn't hurt that bad, it's just a burn," Jackson replied and I know he was lying. According to Ferretti it was second-degree burns and some added cuts with a near sprain. Jackson's lucky he has full use of his hand right now. But it doesn't seem to faze him just like every other injury he has received. But then again this was also the man who checked himself out of the infirmary two days after having his appendix removed.
"So you back on roster?" I asked.
"Yeah, mission in two days," Jackson said over the sound of another magazine being loaded.
Wow, SG-1 really never did have a break. No wonder Jackson always appeared sleep deprived. When not on a mission he was usually on base translating or doing something else archeologists do. Actually come to think of it I don't ever recall Jackson ever leaving the base when I'm on shift and that says a lot considering I work more shifts than most of the marines considering my rank. Whatever, it doesn't matter now as I want to lend some of my knowledge born out of many years in the service. I remember giving the same advice to a young private in the Mog so many years ago. So here went anything, this was either going to go over well or not at all.
"Here let me show you something," I said lightly coming out from behind the screen that blocked our lanes.
"Okay," Jackson said reluctantly the artificial light glaring off his glasses.
"Relax your shoulders and don't let your hands sway. Drop your shoulders like this," I gently pushed his shoulders down glad to feel them relax.
"Like this?" Jackson glanced at me as he relaxed his stance.
"Perfect, try that," I suggested.
Moving one hand off the gun Jackson picked up his shooting glasses, fitting them awkwardly over his glasses. Before picking up his weapon he reached for the earmuffs hanging from the hook on the side of the stall. Reaching over to my stall I grabbed my own ear protection and glasses. Ears and eyes protected I stood back to observe my teaching in action waiting for the target to slide into place. Taking his previous relaxed stance, all tension in his shoulders melting away Jackson looked like a pro. What was I saying? After all these years on the first contact team he was a pro. If a man could come back from the dead as many times as Jackson than he was worthy of being called fully trained. Eyes on the target with deep concentration Jackson released the trigger. The first shot hit dead on, a perfect score. The others that followed were much of the same adding up to a score of 7 out of 9 center mass. So being relaxed improved his score a little considering the new numbers, as most of those 7 hits were perfect kill shots.
"Nice," I complimented.
Smiling back at me he said, "Thanks".
"No problem," I shrugged.
Releasing the clip and skillfully emptying the chamber Jackson was obviously done with his session. I wondered about the P90 but from another recent rumor he got plenty of training back on Apophis' ship with the Replicators. Something of a crash course in the subject of sub-machine guns for survival against robobugs. I watched as he winced cocking the pistol. I also know a thing or two about burns and know for a God given fact that second-degree burns hurt like a son of a bitch. I'm surprised Jackson is able to write let alone shoot. But what I've heard he got them out of there, dialing the Gate burned, battered, and shell-shocked in the knick of time. Trust me when I say it isn't easy to think let alone move after being near a grenade.
"Well I have to get going, have a lot of work to do," he gathered up his equipment.
Since when does he not have a lot of work?
"Hey Jackson!" I called out after him as he began to walk away to the entrance.
"Yeah?" he turned around nearly dropping the paper targets and safety equipment in his hands.
"Wanna catch dinner in the mess later? Meet you say 1800, same table?" I offered.
Smiling and thinking it over Jackson nodded slowly, "That's sounds great. 1800".
"See ya," I said.
"It's Daniel," he added.
"Huh?" I must have looked like an idiot.
"Call me Daniel," he clarified.
"See ya then Daniel and don't work too hard," inside I laughed at how much I must have sounded like Colonel O'Neill judging by the sigh he provided me.
Smiling and shaking my head I watched as Jackson-no, Daniel, walked from the shooting range. What began as a round of practice for qualifications ended with a newfound friendship. Something told me that off-world Daniel was someone you want watching your six. If all the stories were true Daniel had laid down his more than once for his team and held no regrets. That in itself was what made a true marine. Semper Fi! Maybe some day I would pass on some of my marine hand-to-hand for some additional training but I do think Teal'c already has that covered.
Stepping back into my stall I continued on with my practice emptying the first magazine with ease into the little paper target. Even as I shot the thoughts never ceased passing through my head. In this one day I gained an eye opening perspective on a man many at the base took for granted. Saw that a simple civilian could become so much more. Saw a marine's spirit and determination in a man that held not a day of service in any branch of military. Actually come to think about it I came to realize that truth wasn't entirely true anymore. What I saw today changed my views of the former innocent and naïve Daniel Jackson who needed nothing but protection. What I saw was a battle-hardened soldier who has faced more trials and tribulations than most could say on this base. Dr. Jackson was more than just a civilian archeologist, he was one of the guys: one of us.
Disclaimer: Stargate and its characters is the property of its producers and creators, I do not own a thing. Gunnery Sergeant Sanderson is my own creation.
AN: I don't know anything about marine procedure or military shooting range procedure, all of my information came from what I have seen on TV (NCIS) or what I've heard. Thank you for reading and please leave a review to say what you think, this was my first POV from the first person so go easy on me. :)