Thank you so much for all your reviews! It’s lovely that you think this story is worth continuing, and I’m especially flattered by the other talented writers who have left encouragement – cheers guys! To soyjuice – well I thought that occasionally vamps – being vindictive and evil might enjoy messing with their meal before consuming it – in a cat and mouse kind of way. And to Rachel - hopefully I can ramp up the attraction in future eps – I’m still laying the ground work – I’ll get there eventually. By the way I have no beta so any notes on spelling; grammer etc would be gratefully received.
Daniel sighed. The runes in front of him had long ago blurred into indecipherability but despite that he had stuck with it, refusing to let them get the better of him. But that had been three hours ago. Now his eyes were aching and his head was beginning to pound, no relief available even when he rubbed a roughed hand across his eyes.
Admitting temporary defeat he stood up and stretched, grimacing as the kinks in his lower back made their protests known. Getting too old for this Danny Boy. Jack’s chiding tones ran through his head for a moment and he smiled wryly in acknowledgement. Maybe he was getting too old for the amount of sheer abuse he regularly put his system through but he still thought the job he did was worth the pain. He frowned down at the elusive translation and grudgingly admitted that his mind was really not on his work. In fact it was nowhere even in the vicinity of his work. He stretched again and ambled out the door. Maybe coffee would help. Coffee usually helped everything else.
The corridors of Cheyenne Mountain were deserted as was usual at this point in the graveyard shift, most of the personnel off duty or snatching the opportunity to grab a few moments rest while the threat board remained green, so he saw no one as he padded past endless grey walls on autopilot, searching for the elusive coffee, his mind slipping automatically back to the subject he had kept returning to over and over again over the last three weeks since he had been attacked in that alleyway.
She had been so elusive and his concentration had been so disastrously wrecked at the time that if he hadn’t had Janet to back him up he might had given in to the polite scepticism that lurked in Sam and Teal’c’s eyes when he tried to describe her or the snort of sheer disbelief that the subject elicited from Jack whenever it came up and agreed that she must have been a figment of his concussed imagination. The Colonel had jokingly labelled the mysterious blond as “Daniel’s mystery mirage” and refused to take his tale seriously, even with Janet’s evidence that yes, some blond girl had been present at the apartment when she had arrived, and yes Janet had spoken to her.
Admittedly Daniel might have had a little better luck if he hadn’t started to babble about how he knew her from when he was ascended and she had been in Heaven.
The minute that little detail had come out his CO’s expression had gone from cautiously helpful to rock hard stubborn. Jack really didn’t like to talk about the period during which Daniel had been gone, he especially didn’t like it when little errant bits of memory slipped back to his archaeologist when they had been assured that Jackson wasn’t meant to remember anything about when he was ascended and by adding on a triple whammy in the shape of a girl who had been in Heaven and was now back on earth Daniel knew he had just lost any chance of a genuine hearing from all three of them. But despite his eventual silence on the matter he couldn’t shake her from his head, the touch of her hand, the softness of her voice, and the feel of her tears on his fingers. If only he could remember her face….it was so frustrating.
He shook his head like a dog shedding water, irritation pouring off him in waves. It just wouldn’t leave him alone and he could tell his work was suffering. Even if no one else had noticed he knew the normal razor sharp focus of his concentration had blunted slightly, too many of his thoughts preoccupied by his mysterious rescuer. Even Sam and Jack had begun to cast the occasional concerned glance his way, as his preoccupation made him even more abstracted than normal. In fact judging by the looks the two of them kept giving each other he knew he better find some way to sort this out himself soon or he would be the victim of yet another infamous Jack O’Neill “intervention”.
Admittedly even the worst of those tended to only consist of dragging him out from under the mountain to a local bar, getting him thoroughly wrecked and then forcing him to eat pizza and watch ice hockey, (or Star Wars if Teal’c was involved) but it was the very fact that Jack might think that one was necessary and that Sam wasn’t about to intervene to stop him that was telling. He had to get a handle on this soon or he would soon be subject to such a smothering blanket of concern from both of them that he would never get any time on his own. Sometimes the two of them acted more like surrogate parents than team mates. His mouth quirked at the corners at the thought as his feet automatically turned into the corridor leading to the infirmary. Janet always had coffee.
She did, but unfortunately she was also there to guard it. He vainly attempted to back-pedal out of her line of sight as soon as he saw the dark head bent over her notes but she caught the movement out of the corner of her eye and fastened him with a gimlet stare of disapproval, leaving him with the absurd urge to shuffle his feet like a school boy caught in some indiscretion. He attempted to leaven the situation with one of his best smiles, but no, the disapproving stare never wavered. Damn. It always worked on the nurses.
How could such a small woman put so much disapproval in one word? It was a mystery to him. Even Jack was regularly quelled by her and he was in a whole other league of tough. But Janet was from another dimension of tough. Which now he thought about it was certainly a possibility….
“Daniel!” Whoops. Caught wandering again. Hopefully another smile would alleviate the situation.
She glared at him for a second more and then shook her head and sighed in exasperation, breaking eye contact for a second. Daniel immediately seized on the small tactical advantage and adroitly manoeuvred closer to the coffee pot. Strategy. It was all about strategy. After all he had learned some things from working with Jack for over a decade.
“Didn’t I tell you this afternoon to go home and sleep in your own bed for once?”
Her tone was worryingly reasonable and he glanced over his shoulder at her as he hastily filled up his mug, narrowly missing pouring hot coffee all over his hand.
“Yes, but I had this translation to do from PX-704, and then Johnson, the tech with SG-12 was having some problems with an artefact and then Sam asked me to…” he trailed off as he noticed the gimlet stare was back, even worse than before. Maybe he should just shut up now.
“Daniel, there is always a translation or a problem or some other excuse.”
She glared at him for a few more seconds while he stood frozen, feeling like one of those gazelles on the Discovery Channel facing a predator. Although come to think about it Janet did have a certain lion like aspect to her character, oohh no his mind was wandering again. Coffee Jag. He blinked down at his mug, the “Astrophysicists do it in black holes” inscription (it had been a present from Sam) almost covered by his enveloping fingers and tried to get his scrambled brain back in order.
“That’s it.” His head shot up. That tone of voice from the SGC Chief Medical Officer was never a good thing.
She scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to him.
“Official orders. I want you off the base for 24 hours – without taking any of your work with you.”
He opened his mouth to protest, but she cut him off with a dismissive wave of a hand.
“Can it Daniel. It’s either this or, “she smiled slowly showing far too many teeth for his peace of mind, “I drug you up with sleeping pills and lock you up in the infirmary with a guard.” She grinned even more brightly at him. “Your choice.” She smiled toothily at him, her expression implacable and he knew that nothing would shift her. Not smiles, not arguments not even a lethal level application of his big blue eyes. God she was a hard woman and he was sure she got some kind of twisted pleasure out of this.
He slumped his shoulders in acknowledgment of defeat.
“Okay, okay. I’ll go.”
Maybe if he just got out of her line of sight he could just sneak back to his office and she wouldn’t be any the wiser. Oh so casually he started moving towards the door.
“Yes, you will. Airman!”
It only took a few seconds for another head to appear around the doorway and his heart sank as Janet levelled another of those scary smiles at the unsuspecting participant.
“Please see that Dr Jackson is escorted off the premises will you? He can stop by his office to pick up his jacket, but he is not, I repeat not to be allowed to take any of his papers with him. And please leave notice at the gate that barring an emergency he is not to be allowed back on base for 24 hours, starting from now.”
The airman’s face was a mask as he struggled not to smile, looking from the implacable visage of the CMO to the faintly sulky one of Dr Jackson. Fraiser and Jackson’s running battles over his lack of downtime were a source of great amusement on base and it looked as if the Doc had just won this round.
“Yes, Ma’am.” He nodded his head to Dr Jackson, unable to keep the smirk from hovering around the corners of his mouth.
“Come on Dr J. Time to go home.”
Daniel heaved a martyred sigh, nodded as politely as possible to the now faintly smug CMO and then stalked out followed by the by the now quietly snickering airman. God, sometimes he really hated working for the military.
He threw himself down on his couch, shifting slightly as his muscles protested the violent treatment. It was 4am, he had just driven back from the Mountain and with the resignation borne of past experience he knew that it would be hours before his circadian rhythms allowed him to crash. And until then he would be bored, bored, bored. He pulled himself up, pacing around the room, desperate for diversion. The problem was that he spent so little time in his apartment that any thing he was working on automatically stayed at SGC. That, combined with the fact that at the base there was always food that he didn’t have to cook, the presence of his team mates and friends and usually suitably strong coffee that could be filched from a number of sources, amounted to the main reasons why he spent so much of his life there in the first place. And when Jack frequently lectured him on how he should get a life he logically pointed out that he had a life – it was just all up at the mountain rather than down in the town. That excuse admittedly never held much water with his best friend who knew all the other little niggardly reasons why he preferred to spend as little time as possible in his apartment but it usually got him off the hook for long enough that Jack would drop the subject. At least until the next time.
Dawn was already threatening to steal onto the horizon, the velvet of the night sky lightening almost imperceptibly through the window as he pulled the blind shut, resigned to yet another day of vampire like slumber. It had been days since he had seen the sun on Earth but he didn’t miss it all that much, preferring the deep peace that night could bring, those small hours when the only sound in his office was the low classical music on the CD player, the occasional burble from the coffee pot and the steady tap of the keyboard. Despite its reputation for being dead mans hour, when the human body was at its lowest ebb he had always found 4am to be one of his most productive periods, thoughts percolating and condensing in an unwitting imitation of his Mr Coffee. But now thanks to the lovely Dr Frasier’s unwanted intervention he was stuck at home when he could be working. With nothing to do.
Grumbling, he pulled a book from a shelf at random and tossed it onto the couch, wandering through to the kitchen, mentally thanking Sam for her recent insistence that he keep at least some food in the house, even if it was only microwave popcorn. After he had his most recent concussion Jack had as expected read him the riot act, especially where wandering around the streets of Colorado Springs alone at midnight was concerned. Then he had dragged him down to the local Walmart and made him stop up on every from of frozen, long life and dried snack food they had as well as providing him with a veritable sheaf of takeout menus. Misplaced concern, platonic guy-guy love and Daniel had borne it all with good grace, understanding the reasoning behind his friend’s care and feeling guilty for causing the worry that was fuelling it.
Grabbing Doritos and nuking a tub of popcorn he dumped it all beside the couch, slumping bonelessly onto his preferred sleeping place. He didn’t like his bed very much; hell he didn’t like his bedroom. Too empty and far too lonely. The couch and the low hum of the TV to lull him to sleep were just fine. Talking of the TV, where was the remote anyway? The damn thing was elusive. But then the last time he had occasion to use his TV had been about a month ago, a week before his latest injury and his encounter with her. Right on this couch. Or beside it to be accurate. He stuffed a popped corn into his mouth and chewed. Who was that girl? Why was she so sad? And more to the point how on earth could he have known her from Heaven when she was so clearly alive and present on earth? Did angels really walk among us? Was that it? If only he could remember….He shoved some more popcorn into his mouth, scowling in disgust at his meandering thoughts. He had to let it go. There was no way for him to contact her, no way to find out the answer to any of his questions, no way for to even know what she looked like or if she even really existed. She was a mirage like Jack had said and he had to let it go.
Determined to focus on the here and now he shifted the cushions and systematically disarrayed the couch, but no remote. Maybe it was on the floor underneath the furniture. Reaching underneath the couch base he groped one handed around the floor, still awkwardly perched half on and half off the cushions, hair hanging upside down, the blood rushing to his face. There something thin and plastic and beside it – ahah! Triumph! Curling his fingers around both items, somewhat dusty from their long sojourn in darkness he levered himself upright again settling back on to the cushions with a sigh of relief.
Flicking on the TV with the remote he nodded in satisfaction and turned his attention to whatever the other thing was that he’d found under the couch – and then nearly lost it again immediately when he dropped it down the side of the couch in sheer surprise. Swearing a blue streak he pulled the cushions away to grab it again, holding the small plastic card almost reverently. Hah – let Jack say she was a mirage now. For what he was holding was a clear plastic Cleveland public library card and staring out from it was the cool expressionless face of a woman he was willing to swear on his life was his mysterious rescuer, the small picture poised above a name emblazoned across the card. Buffy. Buffy Anne Summers.