Does everyone know just how cold -26 C is (yes, that includes windchill)?! It's damn flippin' cold! And now I'm anticipating all those Winnipeggers and Montrealers reviewing with a 'wow, I wish it was only -26 here', lol. I'm aware there are colder places in my own country, let alone other countries (waves to all Russians), but -26 is still really cold. *whines*
Anyway, now that I've proven I'm Canadian by spending the first bit talking about the weather, let's move on to the next chapter, shall we? Thanks to everyone who read the last chapter and again to all of you who reviewed. And, of course, to theGlaistig
for betaing this one. After reading some of your reviews from the last chapter, I'm extra glad I'd already decided to post this chapter so soon after. I think the reasons behind Merlin's actions in the last chapter become clearer here. Sort of.
Disclaimer: Nope, still own nothing but the plot.
The morning after the party, Merlin came to work early. So early, in fact, that the base guards looked startled to see him.
The bundle in his hands set off the metal detectors in the NORAD lobby, but with a little bit of bullying and a quick call downstairs to confirm he wasn't just a crazy old man, he was on his way. At the SGC entrance he only had to unwrap the bundle and give the two tired-eyed airmen a peek at its contents.
The general wasn't due into his office for at least another hour and Merlin took advantage of every minute. He left a letter on the desk before leaving.
Then he finally went to his office to gather up the few personal belongings he had there. There wasn't much: a mug that said 'Time Lord's Elixir' on it, a long, feather-tip pen, a rather bizarre alien bobble-head Merlin was sure had come from O'Neill, a rather sizeable stack of books and a stone from the Lake of Avalon. He put it all into his satchel alongside his emergency herb supply. When everything was packed away with the help of a little magic, he slung the satchel over his shoulder, picked up the wrapped bundle and left.
Daniel was inside the elevator when it opened, looking puzzled, but mostly very, very tired – as though he hadn't slept at all.
“Good morning, Daniel,” Merlin said as he stepped inside.
Daniel startled, his head snapping up as he blinked in confusion.
“Oh, good morning, Merlin,” he answered back. Then he frowned. “You're in early.”
“Hmm, yes, I had a few things to take care of.”
The elevator doors slid shut and silence reined for a few moments.
“Thought you'd want to know you were right,” Daniel broke the silence.
Merlin raised an eyebrow at him. “Oh, and what was I right about this time?”
“Ygraine King. She's really pregnant, although only about a month along. She hadn't noticed at all. It's amazing that you did.”
“Call it an old man's intuition.”
Daniel snorted. “Old men don't have intuition.”
“This one does.”
Daniel cocked his head at him thoughtfully.
“Yes, I suppose you do.”
The elevator stopped and the doors slid open. Merlin exited, not at all surprised when Daniel sauntered out after him.
“So, any particular reason why you're headed to the gateroom?” Daniel asked casually.
Given that there was very little else on this floor, it wasn't exactly like Merlin had many options for his destination. He hadn't counted on encountering anyone this morning, but it wasn't a horrible thing either.
“I've just handed in my resignation,” he said after a pause. “So, I wanted to go take one, last look at the Stargate.”
“You've what?! Why?”
Merlin sighed, but didn't stop.
“Joining a project with the military was always a risk, but I felt it was one I needed to take. I just knew whatever this project was, I needed to see it with my own eyes so I could be prepared for the future.”
“I don't understand. Y-you realize you can't tell
Merlin chuckled. “Oh, no, I understand why all the secrecy. I have kept many secrets in my time and can only hope that one day there will come a time when the need for them will be gone.”
“What sort of secrets?”
“Not of the sort the military is looking for, that's for certain.” He looked at Daniel out of the corner of his eye in time to see the younger man hide the surprise on his face. Merlin laughed. “Oh, yes, I am fully aware there have been people searching my house and following me around. They won't find anything, of course. Everything will lead them to dead ends, because the truth requires a leap of faith to believe the impossible. You
might have figured it out on your own, given time.”
“Uh, thanks. I think.”
They entered the gateroom and Merlin led Daniel to stand in front of the gate. It looked a little lonely, like an abandoned child's toy after the child had gone to bed. Merlin could feel its age, the power infusing it not quite magic, but not entirely other.
“Besides, I won't have to tell anyone anything,” Merlin continued again as he gazed at the gate. “A secret this big cannot be kept indefinitely- nor should it be. And when it becomes known...”
Merlin shook his head and turned to Daniel.
“There are dark days to come, Daniel Jackson.” He backed away a few steps as he unwrapped the bundle in his hands. “Fortunately, from within the deepest darkness, a light of hope will shine the way.”
He raised Excalibur towards the sun miles above them, allowing the sword to light up the room. He gathered his magic.
Then Merlin swung the sword so that it pointed towards the ground and pushed. Excalibur slid into the hard concrete as though it were freshly plouhed dirt.
When it was about half-way in, Merlin let go and stepped back. The sword began to rise steadily, the concrete floor following it, so that in mere moments, there was a small mound of concrete with a sword sticking out of it decorating the gateroom.
“Good-bye, Daniel Jackson,” Merlin said when it was done. Daniel simply stared back at him, stunned speechless. “I'm sure we'll meet again.”
Daniel couldn't quite catch what Merlin muttered under his breath, but suddenly a whirlwind seemed to come out of the floor and surround the old man. When it died down, Merlin was gone.
Daniel stared at the sword embeded inside a mound of concrete. Behind him, someone cleared their throat.
Daniel turned to stare at the equally bewhildered marines behind him.
“Uh, I think I should go tell the general,” was the only thing he could think of saying. Then he dashed off.
He caught Jack just in front of his office.
“Jack!” he called out.
Jack stopped with his hand on the doorknob and turned to Daniel.
“Did you really have people digging into Doctor Hunithson's past?” Daniel demanded.
Jack stiffened. “And where exactly did you hear that?”
“From Doctor Hunithson. He's gone now, by the way. Apparently there's a resignation waiting for you on your desk.”
Jack threw the door open and flipped the light switch.
And froze, gapping at the array of space ships hanging from his office ceiling.
His bright yellow office ceilling.
Which matched the bright yellow walls.
And sort of matched the new blue and green polka-dotted carpet.
Which did not at all go with the pink and white fur-lined chair sitting behind his desk.
Neither man said anything for rather long period of time.
“You know, Jack, I somehow don't think this was a war you ever had a chance of winning,” Daniel finally managed to string enough brain cells together to say.
Suddenly, it was too much and Daniel burst into laughter. Jack scowled at him.
“Oh wow,” Daniel gasped. “I think this might just beat what he did to the gateroom.”
“Gateroom? What the hell did he do to the gateroom?!”
Daniel was laughing too hard to form a sensible answer, so Jack left him to it and ran off to see for himself.
There is still a three-part ending to come! For those of you, who seemed to be surprised to hear there was a point to this story - or even a plot - I suppose you could say that everything up 'till now has actually been build-up for the last three parts (or something like that). Anyway, hope you enjoyed this chapter (I know I had fun writing it) and see you next week! Please review in the meantime!