He glanced at his watch—twenty minutes—then back at the notebook in front of him, wondering how he was going to finish before Jack came to drag him away. Maybe Jack would be running late.
"Hey, Daniel, ready to hit the—" the voice trailed off as its owner entered Daniel's office, taking in the notebook and stacks of open books piled around it.
Daniel sighed and looked longingly at the artifact on his desk. Just his luck, Jack was early. There was no way he was going to get to finish his translation. Of course, he wouldn't have had the chance to work on it at all if the Daedalus hadn't been held up while being fitted with some upgrades, thus delaying his trip to Atlantis.
He looked up at his friend and took in the exasperation evident on Jack's face.
"Why am I not surprised?" Jack groused.
"I was just trying to finish this before we left," Daniel said defensively.
"Well, it'll have to wait. We're supposed to meet Carter and Teal'c topside in twenty minutes." Jack paused briefly and narrowed his eyes. "You are packed, aren't you?"
"Yes, Jack, I'm packed," Daniel countered in an offended tone. "My bag's by the door."
Jack walked over and hefted the large duffle, giving a soft grunt as he did so. "Geez, Daniel, we're only gonna be gone a few days, not a few weeks. What've ya got in here, a bunch of—" He left the sentence unfinished, flashed Daniel a perturbed look, then set the duffle back on the floor and began unzipping it.
"Just the necessities. Jack, leave it—"
"Necessities, huh?" Jack echoed, pulling out a thick, ancient tome. "'Sumero-Phoenician Parentage of Ancient and Modern Letters'," Jack recited, then placed it on the floor and picked another book out of the bag. "'Cypro-Minoan Syllabary'," he read. "A little light reading for the trip?" he queried, raising one eyebrow.
"Hey, those are important! I need them if I'm going to figure out what that tablet says that SG-14 brought back last week."
"Daniel, you're on vacation. When you get back, you're leaving for Atlantis. Who's going to work on this stuff when you're gone?"
"Uh, Doctor Beecham will be in charge."
"And is Doctor Beecham qualified to do this translation?" Jack knew for a fact that Doctor Beecham had been hired because of Daniel's glowing recommendation.
"Of course, it's just—"
"And she'll have help, right?"
Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "Doctor Mercer and Doctor Caughlin will be helping."
"So, no problem then. Leave it for them to finish and let's get moving!"
Daniel sighed audibly as he looked back at his unfinished translation. Jack was right, although he wasn't about to tell him so. Someone else would have to finish it. His spirits brightened somewhat as he realized his consolation was going to Atlantis. And then he looked at Jack who was busy zipping the duffle after having removed two more books.
His friend had planned this little trip as a chance for SG-1 to have one last get-together before they went their separate ways. Sam was going to Area 51 to take charge of R & D, Teal'c had already gone to Dakara to continue his work establishing the Jaffa Nation, returning just for this little outing, and Jack was headed to Washington to take Hammond's place as Head of Homeworld Security. Somehow, Daniel just couldn't picture Jack being comfortable at the Pentagon. He felt a twinge in his chest as he realized they might not see each other for a very long time. They would always be family—nothing could change that—but they would no longer be a team. And he was going to miss them—no more lunches in the commissary, no more meetings in one of their labs, no more team movie nights, and no more going through the 'gate together. There was a time when change had been the norm for him. But over the past eight years he had found a place where he belonged and a family to belong to. Sure, there were always changes, but for the first time since he was eight years old, he had had a constant in his life. And even though things were about to change again in a big way, he knew this constant—this family—would always be there, no matter how far apart their physical bodies were.
Snapped out of his musings, Daniel looked up to see Jack standing by the door, duffle in hand, an annoyed look on his face. Daniel smiled at that, knowing Jack would stand there impatiently until he gave in. No point postponing the inevitable. Besides, Daniel found he was looking forward to some time with his team; who knew how long it would be before they had a chance to do this again.
"All right, Jack, I'm coming," he said as he closed his notebook and turned off his desk light.
"Really?" Jack's expression quickly changed to one of surprise.
"Yep, let's go. Sam and Teal'c are waiting."
"Uh, right," Jack replied, trying to figure out how he had won so easily.
Daniel flipped off the light and smiled to himself as he followed Jack out of the room.
They drove beneath a bright blue sky, the noise of the interstate fading quickly as they exited onto a small paved road that led into the foothills. A short distance later they turned onto another side road, this one made of dirt and rocks, which gradually climbed towards the forested slopes of the mountains.
The path—for that's what it looked like to Daniel—wound through the trees, tall pines interspersed with quaking aspens. On one side, a stream tumbled noisily over boulders on its way downhill. Daniel rolled down his window and was immediately overwhelmed by the cool air filled with the scent of pine and earth. He closed his eyes and savored the warmth of the sun and the sound of his friends' voices. Even though he was thrilled to finally be going to Atlantis, he knew this was something he would miss.
After jostling over the rutted road for awhile, Jack finally pulled the vehicle into a small clearing. A well-kept two-story log cabin stood in its center, a large porch stretched across the front. A short distance beyond the cabin, Daniel could see the edge of a lake.
Jack stopped the car and shut off the engine. "Well, kids, whadda ya think?"
"Wow," Sam said, opening her door.
Daniel took in the beds of bright wildflowers surrounding the cabin and the glint of sunlight bouncing off the lake beyond. Butterflies flitted through the air, occasionally pausing long enough to sip from the garden's columbine. Wow was right.
He opened his own door and exited along with the rest of his team. "It's great, Jack."
"Indeed. This is a most pleasant environment," Teal'c agreed.
"Told ya!" Jack beamed. "Let's get unpacked and then we can check out the lake."
Daniel exchanged an amused look with Sam; they both knew Jack couldn't wait to start fishing—he'd spent half the trip to the cabin telling them all about the fantastic new lures he'd bought.
A short time later the truck had been unloaded and everyone had claimed a bedroom and unpacked their bags. After consuming a lunch of sandwiches and chips, they had each grabbed a fishing pole and tackle box and headed for the lake.
The afternoon was spent trying their luck from various spots along the banks of the lake. As the shadows lengthened towards evening, they gathered their equipment and surveyed the results of their efforts. To Jack's consternation, Teal'c had caught two more fish than he had, including the largest of the bunch.
"It was a most satisfying afternoon, O'Neill."
"Yeah, rub it in. It was just beginner's luck."
"I believe you once told me that catching fish required great skill, not luck,"
Sam turned her back and tried to muffle a snort.
"Was that a comment, Carter?"
She turned back to face him, trying unsuccessfully to hide her smile. "Uh, no, sir."
"C'mon, Jack, don't be a sore loser," Daniel said, diverting attention from Sam.
"E tu, Daniel?" Jack feigned a wounded look as he picked up his small stringer of fish. "Just for that, you can cook." He held out the fish to Daniel, who reluctantly took them.
"I don't remember it being my turn."
"Well, it is, so you'd better get busy cleanin' 'em." Jack broke into a smug smile as he turned and headed for the cabin.
Teal'c stopped and held out his stringer of fish to Daniel, offering a small bow when he took it. "Thank you, Daniel Jackson," he said, turning and following Jack back to the cabin.
Sam looked at him sympathetically as she held up her string of two small fish.
"Not you, too, Sam," Daniel responded dejectedly.
"C'mon, I'll help you," she replied, laughing, unable to resist his pleading blue eyes.
Shoulder to shoulder, they followed their teammates back down the path towards the warm lights of the cabin.