stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

F is for Frosting

F is for Frosting
By
Helen Earl
{Spoilers for Brief Candle}

“Looks like the natives are friendly for a change,” Daniel smiled at the attractive young female who was leading them from the Gate toward her settlement. She was petite, and demure, and reminded him a little of Lya of the Nox.

“Indeed,” Teal’c concurred with a slight inclination of his head.

“She’s certainly gone out of her way to make us feel welcome,” Carter noted, adjusting the garland around her neck.

“Just remember, appearances can be deceptive. Keep your guard up, all of you,” O’Neill cautioned cynically, even though he’d only just reported to the SGC that the planet appeared to pose no danger.

They all nodded in acknowledgement.

Soon, the town came in sight: a plethora of fine buildings adorned with marble columns and arches, resembling Roman villas, all set around a vast courtyard.

The locals poured out of their homes to meet the newcomers. Beaming with delight, they cried out words of greeting and beckoned to the quartet to join them in the courtyard, where an enormously long rectangular table at one end was set out with myriad delicacies, as if they’d been expected.

“Oh, well, when in Rome…. I guess,” Carter shrugged as she allowed their guide to show her to a seat near the center of the table.

“I’m not sure this is a totally Roman-influenced society, Sam,” Daniel corrected. “There are similarities, I’ll grant you, but, well, uh, those aren’t exactly togas for a start.” Daniel indicated their hosts’ attire, which for the women consisted of diaphanous gowns in various pastel hues and multiple layers in many different styles from empire line tops to handkerchief hems and butterfly wing sleeves such as might grace a school fairy pageant. The men wore robes of somewhat stronger colors than the women, but much simpler in style. They were pretty much straight up and down - some with sleeves, some without - but all held in by simple belts, almost monk-like in appearance.

A tall, handsome man who looked to be in his late thirties bowed to the team and bid them sit and eat. He appeared to be the leader of the community. “You are most welcome. My name is Goodfellow Quinlan,” he told them.

The team introduced themselves in turn. Daniel was eager to hear the names of the rest of the residents. Goodfellow Quinlan sounded almost Puritanical in origin, like something out of old Salem. Then again, Quinlan was an Irish name, or so he thought. There seemed to be a large degree of cross-pollenization at work here and it intrigued him.

All around the table were low marble benches. SG-1 sat down in the places they’d been allocated. Jack winced as he did so, and rubbed his knees. “Ah, fer cryin’ out loud!” he complained in a low grumble.

“Are you in pain?” asked Quinlan.

“Just my age,” Jack responded dismissively. “The old knees aren’t what they used to be.”

“We have just the thing for you,” their original guide, who was called Goodmaid Muadhnait, told him as the others began sampling the fruits and sweets before them. She hurried down to the far end of the table, and returned with a small slice of cake on a silver platter. It was a soft, light sponge cake, with a layer of jam in the middle and a thick lavender colored frosting on the top.

“Does it have medicinal properties?” Carter asked.

“I do not know what you mean by that,” Muadhnait replied, “But it will make Goodfellow Jackoneill happy.”

“Tough assignment,” Daniel muttered under his breath.

O’Neill heard him, and glowered at him. He raised the plate in a sort of salute, and then scooped up the frosting on his fingertips, licking it off defiantly.

Daniel wondered at a civilization who knew nothing of medicine. The assembled group all looked young and healthy. There didn’t seem to be anyone more than middle-aged among them. Perhaps there was some sort of Logan’s Run type deal going on here. A Utopian society where the price to pay for an idyllic existence was death at – in this case - forty. In which case Jack and Teal’c had better watch out.

As the meal went on, accompanied by copious amounts of wine, the entertainment began in the form of an immaculately choreographed dance by eight of the young women. Following this came a musical interlude, the instruments – mostly stringed – playing hauntingly beautiful tunes that stirred the soul.

Much as he enjoyed the show, Daniel regretted that it prevented him from engaging in meaningful conversation with Quinlan. He felt that there was much to be learned about this civilization. Complaining to Jack on the subject, Daniel was surprised to hear the Colonel agree to them spending a few days ‘fact-finding’ on P2A-194, or Spleodar as the natives called it. He even ratified it with General Hammond when they made their routine report.

Before they knew it, darkness had descended and the team were being led to one of the larger villas, where they were to be honored guests for the night. Samantha Carter was shown to a room in the women’s quarters, while the others were given adjoining rooms in the men’s wing. They agreed to meet back in the courtyard for breakfast.

~~~

Next morning, a bleary-eyed Daniel nodded to Teal’c as they assembled by the table. It looked as if their hosts were not such early risers, since they were the first to arrive. Daniel had stayed up late writing copious notes in his journal about the fascinating people they had spent the evening with. He’d assumed he’d probably be the last to arrive. Carter was already there, looking far more fetching in the delicate gown put out for her than he or Teal’c looked in their simple robes. There was no sign of the Colonel, which was most unusual.

“Where’s Jack?” he asked, looking around. “Did he beat us to it? Has he been and gone?” Daniel didn’t really think their leader would wander off without them, but he didn’t want to believe that these gentle, friendly people would have done him any harm.

“It would appear not,” Teal’c informed him. “I believe we should return to the villa and seek him in his room.”

“I think I’d better wait here in case he comes out,” Sam suggested diplomatically. “I wouldn’t want to scandalize the Goodfellows by going into their masculine sanctum.”

Daniel gave her a thumbs-up. He’d been about to suggest the very same thing.

Back inside the villa, he and Teal’c hurried to their leader’s room, concerned that he may be ill. Daniel knocked, gently at first. “Jack?”

Nothing. Not a sound. Had the Colonel been murdered in his bed? Surely not.

Daniel knocked harder. “Jack, are you awake?”

A mumble from inside.

Teal’c opened the door as Daniel called again. “Jack, time to get up.”

“Just five more minutes, Daddy,” came a soft murmur from the bed. “It’s not like it’s a school day.”

“Do I need my ears tested, or did he just call me Daddy?” Daniel queried. Jack was the only one who could sometimes get away with calling him Danny. Though on such occasions it was more normally ‘Danny-boy’.

“I believe he did,” Teal’c confirmed. They moved into the room and over toward the bed.

“C’mon, Jack,” Daniel coaxed, “Stop clowning around. You’ll be late for breakfast.”

“Breakfast? I’m starving!” The figure in the bed jumped up enthusiastically.

A young boy - maybe eight or nine years old - turned to face them, then seemed to notice he was buck naked and grabbed the robe that had been laid out the night before, slipping it over his shoulders. Whereas the others’ robes were knee-length, his came down to his ankles. He hitched it up with the belt.

-       “What’s this, is it Halloween?” the kid asked, looking disapprovingly at the plain brown robe. “Lame.”

-       “Sorry, wrong room,” Daniel was saying at the same time. He was about to leave, when he suddenly stopped and turned back to the bed.


“Halloween? Jack, is that you?”

“Yeah, I’m Jack. Who the heck’re you?”

Daniel and Teal’c looked at each other in mirrored alarm.

“You’d better find Goodfellow Quinlan,” Daniel told the Jaffa. “I’ll get Jack to Sam, see if she can work out what’s happened.”

“Indeed.” Teal’c inclined his head.

“Who’re you meant to be, big guy?” Junior Jack asked Teal’c. “Don’t think I’ve seen that movie yet.”


~~~

It took Daniel a good deal of coaxing to get the young Jack to leave the room with him.

“My momma told me never to go with strangers,” the boy insisted after a while, crossing his arms petulantly.

“Quite right too,” Daniel agreed reasonably. “But I’m not a stranger. My name is Daniel and I’m a good friend. You just don’t remember me right now.”

“That sounds hinky to me. Why would I be friends with you?” Jack sneeringly replied. “You’re old.

Daniel looked hurt at that, but let it go.

In the end, he decided – against his better judgement – that he’d get further appealing to Jack’s adventurous side.

“I know you, Jack. Even if you don’t think you know me. And the Jack I know probably doesn’t always do what his momma tells him. Am I right?”

Junior Jack looked sheepish, but nodded.

“Well. Your mom and dad aren’t here right now. So, what say we go exploring a bit and see about that breakfast, huh?”

Junior Jack thought about it for a few moments. He looked around the room and seemed to come to the conclusion that if this Daniel meant him any harm or intended any ‘funny stuff’ as his mom called it, then being alone with him in a bedroom would have given him plenty of opportunity. In any case, he’d probably be safer outside with other people around.

“Sure, why not?” he shrugged.

~~~

By the time they got to the table in the courtyard, Teal’c had returned with Goodfellow Quinlan and Goodmaid Muadhnait. They seemed just as incredulous as Carter when they saw the erstwhile Colonel.

“You must be responsible,” Carter accused. “You said you were going to make him happy with that cake. There was something in it, wasn’t there?” She started moving toward the end of the table where the cake had been. The others followed.

“Who’s she?” Junior Jack asked Daniel in a whisper. “She’s pretty.”

“That’s Sam. Captain Carter,” Daniel told him. “She’s a friend too.”

“Not in the cake, no,” Muadhnait looked at the floor and twisted her hands together. “In the frosting. But it could not have done that.” She pointed toward the boy. “We only gave him a tiny piece. It should have made him a year or two younger, no more.”

“Is that why nobody here is older than Goodfellow Quinlan?” Daniel asked. “You just, uh, recycle yourselves?”

“Old age brings pain and sorrow,” Quinlan replied. “We have the means to avoid that. It is a good thing, is it not?”

“I’m sure a lot of people back home would agree with you there,” Carter allowed. “But Teal’c says Jack doesn’t know us,” she continued. “He’s reverted totally to how he was at eight years old. We need the Colonel back the way he was. With all his memories intact.”

“I do not understand how he got to be so very young,” Quinlan insisted. “It has never happened before.”

Daniel spotted something under the table. “I think maybe I have an idea about that.” He turned to the precocious boy beside him.

“Jack,” he smiled reassuringly. “You’re not in trouble, but I need to know. Did you by any chance sneak out for a midnight feast last night? Help yourself to some more cake?”

“Might have,” Jack said sullenly. “Nobody said I wasn’t allowed.”

Daniel pointed to the numerous crumbs on the floor. “Looks like he overdosed. Almost like the grandparents and the Wonka-Vite.” Despite the seriousness of the situation, Daniel couldn’t help smiling at the idea of Jack in diapers.

Teal’c looked bemused. “I am unfamiliar with that mission. To what are you referring, DanielJackson?”

“It’s a children’s story,” Carter clarified. “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Roald Dahl. Three old people take pills to make them twenty years younger. But they take too many and end up as babies. In which case, what we need is some Vita-Wonk to reverse the effects. Or the equivalent anyway.” She turned to the natives. “If the frosting reduces age, do you have anything to make people older again?”

“Why would we need that?” Goodfellow Quinlan asked. “When someone eats the frosting, they become a year or two younger. They then age at the normal rate, until they eat more cake.”

“We can’t wait nearly forty years for Jack to grow up again!” Daniel exclaimed, horrified.

“Indeed we cannot,” Teal’c agreed. “Our presence is required at the SGC two days from now.”

“What’s for breakfast?” Junior Jack piped up, oblivious to the trouble he’d caused.

“Not cake, that’s for sure,” Daniel said firmly.

“Teal’c, you’d better help Daniel keep an eye on our young friend,” Carter told the Jaffa. “While I try to work out what the magic ingredient is, and how we can counteract it.”

Teal’c inclined his head, and he and Daniel took young Jack back down to the other end of the table to get something to eat.

~~~

Goodmaid Muadhnait had been instructed to give Carter – now back in her olive drab uniform - every assistance. Accordingly, she had provided numerous samples of the frosting, and all the ingredients used to make it. Unfortunately, Sam didn’t have the right scientific equipment with her to make a full analysis of the composition and properties of the offending substances. So, they’d had to contact the SGC and let General Hammond know what had happened. Having reassured him that there was no danger of contagion, the General had sent through Dr. Fraiser with all manner of portable paraphernalia. He made it clear he would prefer the problem to be dealt with in situ. However, he gave Janet the authority to bring the team home ‘as is’ if she deemed it absolutely necessary.

Goodfellow Quinlan allocated a small building for their experiments. They had Daniel bring the young Jack in so they could get blood samples – a process the boy complained about bitterly, “I reckon this is child abuse” - but beyond that they suggested Daniel take Jack away and ‘keep him out of mischief’ until they had something to go on.

“Good luck,” Daniel offered. “Though I think I might need it more than you do!”

Janet chuckled, ruffling Jack’s hair, much to his annoyance. “You could be right, Doctor Jackson.”
~~~


Hours later, the two women had made progress, but were no nearer to a solution.

“Just as we thought. It isn’t a virus,” Dr. Fraiser confirmed. “The unknown component in the lavender coloring is unquestionably responsible, but I can’t work out how or why.”

“And it’s definitely not nanotechnology?” Sam’s question was largely rhetorical.

“No,” Janet paused in her examination of the slide under her microscope and looked up at Sam. “Could that be the answer?”

“What? You just said it wasn’t -“

“-No,” Janet interrupted. “Don’t you remember? Nanocytes. That’s what made the Colonel age rapidly on uh, on Argos, wasn’t it? When the Argosians – what did they call themselves…?”

“The Chosen of Pelops,” Sam recalled, her eyes bright. “Yes. When Kynthia gave Jack a slice of we- uh, of cake. What a coincidence!”

“Exactly. Couldn’t we use a little of Pelops’ technology to re-age the Colonel?”

Carter thought for a few moments. “I suppose the theory is sound,” she said, “but there’s a problem. The technology relied on a signal being emitted by the device under the statue. It was destroyed. Even if we could somehow harvest any nanocytes – and it’s doubtful there’d be any viable ones still in existence – we have no way to activate them.”

“Pity.”

~~~

Meantime, Daniel, Teal’c and Junior Jack were exploring the area. The two older men had reverted to their uniforms but, since Jack’s was too big, the boy remained in local garb.

Daniel was fascinated by the origins and history of the natives and had wanted to study the architecture and the artifacts in the houses. But Jack soon pronounced that ‘boring’ and demanded they go out of the settlement into the woods beyond. Teal’c had readily agreed to this, suggesting they might find some wildlife to track through the carpet of autumnal leaves. A challenge he always enjoyed. He offered to take Jack with him while Dr. Jackson remained to do his research, but Daniel thought he’d better stick with Jack. He followed them with a sigh of regret. He had to agree that the glorious colors of the leaves on the various species of trees were a sight to behold.

Everything had gone well at first. Jack had been impressed by Teal’c’s tracking skills, and had shown an aptitude for it himself under the Jaffa’s tutelage. However, when they had failed to even see - let alone actually catch - a single animal after two hours of following paw prints and scats, he lost interest. Before they knew what was happening, the kid had shinned his way up a tall thin tree and was pretending to be a pirate in the crow’s nest of a sailing ship.

“That course of action is not wise,” Teal’c called up to the boy. “The potential for you to fall and injure yourself is great.”

“I’m with Teal’c. You’d better come down, Jack.” Daniel suggested.

“You’re supposed to be such a good friend, Daniel,” Junior Jack said his name scathingly. “Why don’t you come up and get me?”

Daniel looked up at the fragile branches, and swallowed hard. They may have supported a slender eight-year-old, but he was a different matter. Besides, he’d always had a problem with heights.

“Jack, you get down here this instant, young man!” Daniel said authoritatively.

“Shan’t, won’t, can’t make me!” Jack practically sang his defiance.

“You’d better do as you’re told, or I’ll set Doctor Fraiser on you!” Daniel threatened. Unfortunately, it seemed this particular threat had a greater effect on the mature Jack.

“Like you said earlier, Daniel old pal, I don’t always do what momma tells me. So why would I care what the doc says?

“Come on, what are you waiting for?” Jack challenged, “you can see for miles from up here.”

“Do you wish me –“  Teal’c started to offer, aware of Dr. Jackson’s aversion to high places.

“Thanks, Teal’c,” Daniel truly appreciated the offer. For a split second he was almost tempted to accept. “But there’s no way that tree’d take your weight. No offense.” He handed Teal’c his backpack.

“None taken. Your assessment is doubtless accurate.”

Daniel looked up at the tree and ran his tongue over suddenly dry lips. “Okay. Stay where you are, Jack. I’m coming up.”

Picking his route carefully and reminding himself constantly not to look down, Daniel edged his way slowly up through the branches. Even before he’d gotten very high he had to admit that Jack had been right about the view. They’d come to the far edge of the woods, quite a way from the town, which lay in a valley to the South. Their route had brought them to higher ground without them having been aware of it. To the East and West of the town were cultivated fields. To the North, beyond the woodland, it appeared as if the crops had been left to grow wild. No neat rows here, but a hotchpotch of neglected vegetation. Daniel couldn’t make it all out, but in amongst the tangled stalks he felt sure he saw Brussel Sprouts growing. Clusters of knobbly buds surrounding the stalks like the bells on a Morris Dancer’s Jingle Stick. No wonder they don’t bother with them, he thought, hardly anybody but me likes Sprouts.

Looking outward made Daniel aware of how fragile his position was. He turned his focus to the tree trunk and resumed his nervous climb towards his team leader.

Woah! he thought suddenly. Colonel O’Neill might be the commanding officer of this unit, but up there it’s just Jack, a kid. Why am I taking orders from him?

Annoyed with himself, Daniel thought about turning around and going back. But that prospect was scarier than going on at this point. He didn’t want to think how he was going to manage it. Whatever had possessed him to start climbing in the first place? He took a slow steadying breath to try and still the palpitations in his chest. As he continued his ascent, he could hear his pulse pounding in his ears. He was starting to feel dizzy. Man, this had been a very bad idea.

A shower of leaves fluttered down from above, startling Daniel further. His breathing shallow and rapid, he hugged the trunk of the tree with sweaty palms and closed his eyes.

Next thing he knew, there was a gentle hand on his shoulder and a soothing voice in his ear.

“Why didn’t you say you were scared of heights? Doofus.”

“J-Jack?”

“C-mon, buddy. Let’s get you down.”

Although outwardly still a young boy, Jack had once again become the take-charge leader that Daniel knew and respected so well.

~~~
By the time they got back into town, it was lunchtime. Daniel’s fear had given way to embarrassment and he was begging Teal’c and Junior Jack not to tell Sam about his misadventure.

“What’s it worth?” Jack asked cheekily.

“How about you NOT getting put to bed early without dinner?”

“Oooh, who’s a tough guy all of a sudden? Are those things like Popeye and his spinach or something?”

In an attempt to calm himself, Daniel had made them detour to the wild garden to pick some of the sprouts. They were slightly larger than Earth ones, and had a vaguely musky smell, but he wanted to try them nonetheless. He figured if the natives didn’t bother with them –as it appeared – then they wouldn’t mind him helping himself. On the other hand, if they did harvest the crop and it was just an unusual way of growing them, then they’d be grateful he’d saved them the bother of picking the veggies.  Jack had complained bitterly about having to help carry the ‘thousands’ that Daniel had insisted they pick, even though most them were safely stored in Daniel’s and Teal’c’s backpacks.

“How’s it going?” Daniel asked the two scientists when they reported their return. “Any progress?”

“Not really,” Dr. Fraiser replied wearily, envying Jackson his light, cheery tone. It sounded as if the boys had been out having fun while they’d been working their butts off. “We’ve isolated the cause of the reaction, but we’ve been unable to find an antidote yet.”

“What’ve you got there?” Carter asked the young Jack, as he unloaded his burden onto a small table.

“Wild sprouts!” Daniel pronounced enthusiastically.

“They smell yucky,” Junior Jack turned up his nose.

“Do not,” Daniel pouted, sounding more petulant than the child beside him. “Besides, they’re good for you.”

“That’s as may be,” Fraiser decided. “But given what happened to the Colonel, I’d like to run some tests on them before you decide to gorge yourself, Dr. Jackson.”

“Can’t it wait ‘til after lunch?” Junior Jack whined. “I’m starving.”

“Some things never change,” Janet declared with a smile and a shake of her head. “Okay, but I think we should stick to rations for now.”

While they were heating their MREs, Goodmaid Muadhnait came to invite them to join the townsfolk for ‘the daytime repast’. She was shocked to see they were preparing their own food.

“We mean no disrespect,” Janet told her. “But we feel it is safer to eat our own provisions, given the circumstances.”

Muadhnait looked crestfallen. “We would not harm you. We meant well when we gave Goodfellow Jackoneill the cake.”

“We know,” Carter soothed. “But Dr. Fraiser is worried that your food could affect us in ways it doesn’t affect you.”

Muadhnait looked over to where a bored young Jack was standing by the table, juggling with five of the sprouts.

“Yet to have gathered the forbidden olerace.”

“Hah!” Daniel exclaimed triumphantly. “The scientific name for sprouts is Brassica Oleracea.” He turned to Muadhnait, suddenly serious. “Why are they forbidden?”

“I do not know,” she admitted. “Only that we are all taught we must never eat them. I shall ask Goodfellow Quinlan.”

~~~

It was some time later that she returned with the town elder.

“I fear I cannot satisfactorily answer your question, Goodfellow Danieljackson.” Quinlan apologized. “We have few rules or laws here in Spleodar, but those we have are handed down from the ancestors. We have followed them all our lives. One such rule is that we must not, under any circumstances, consume the olerace. No one before has thought to question why such a rule exists, any more than we question the traditional recipe for the frosting, nor the effect it has upon us. All we need know is that the ancestors were wise, and their instructions have served us well.”

Dr. Fraiser had started examining the olerace. She looked up at Quinlan’s comment. “I wonder. Could it be so simple?” She thought aloud.
“What?” Carter moved over to join her.

“Just a theory,” Janet answered. “Let me test it.”

She beavered away for several minutes extracting and dissolving and heating in test tubes and looking at things under the microscope. Then finally she mixed two samples together, and examined the result. She grinned broadly.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, Dr. Jackson, but I believe the expression is Eureka!”

“You’re saying the sprouts – uh, olerace – are the cure for Jack’s, um, predicament?” Carter asked.

“Looks like it,” Fraiser replied. “There’s an active agent present that appears to cancel out the unknown element of the frosting. I still have no idea how or why they work as they do, I just know the effect is real. So, it’s certainly worth a try, but we need to make sure we get the – shall we say dosage – right. We don’t want the Colonel to end up aging too far again.”

“Will it restore his memory too?” Daniel wanted to know.

“There’s no way to predict that,” Janet admitted. “We’ll just have to wait and see and hope.”

~~~

Dr. Fraiser, with Carter assisting, worked for most of the afternoon before declaring they were ready to try giving Jack his antidote. They took a carefully measured amount of the olerace to Goodmaid Muadhnait with instructions on how to prepare them.

When the team sat down to eat that evening, the ladies were in high spirits and full of optimism. Teal’c was as enigmatic as ever. Both Daniel and Junior Jack were sulking, big time. Daniel because he’d been warned he mustn’t eat even one of the sprouts; Jack because he’d been told he had to eat every last one on his plate.

Young Jack smothered one of the sprouts with mashed potato, held his nose with one hand, screwed up his eyes, and ‘bit the bullet’.

“Euuugggh!” he declared. “It’s disgusting.”

“No it’s not, Jack,” Daniel said, looking enviously at the vegetables. “They’re delicious and nutritious. So, come on, eat up.”

“Shan- “

“ -  Don’t start that again.” Daniel said crossly. Then he remembered that bribery was liable to get him further than threats.

“Tell you what, kiddo,” he grinned. “If you eat up all your greens like a good boy, then tomorrow I’ll let you play soldiers with us. I might even give you a go with my gun.” Daniel patted his zat gun.

“For real?” Junior Jack’s eyes were wide as saucers.

“Sure. But only if you eat up.”

“If I finish this, can I have some cake after?” Jack asked hopefully.

“NO!” cried the whole team in unison.

“I think we can probably let you have some of the ice-cream,” Carter placated, looking at Muadhnait questioningly.

“It is quite safe,” the Goodmaid assured her.

Unenthusiastically, Jack settled down to clear his plate.

~~~


Next morning, Daniel and Teal’c went to Jack’s room and anxiously knocked on the door.

“Jack?”

For a nerve-racking minute, they heard nothing.

Daniel knocked again.

“Fer cryin’ out loud, give a guy a minute!” came the grumble from inside.

Daniel and Teal’c exchanged relieved glances. It certainly sounded as if the old Jack was back.

The door opened, and a fully-grown Colonel Jack O’Neill emerged.

“How d’you feel, Jack?”

“Damn knees’re killing me, thanks for asking.”

“Welcome back, O’Neill,” Teal’c said.

“What do you remember, Jack?” Daniel asked.

“A lot more than you, I reckon,” Jack told him. “How many times do I have to tell you? It’s airman, not soldier, and that’s a weapon, not a gun!”

Daniel blushed at the criticism. “C’mon, Jack, let’s go home.”

~~~

Postscript:

Stargate Command
Internal Memo
From the desk of General George Hammond:

FAO: Colonel Jack O’Neill, SG-1, and any other SGC members who accompany Colonel O’Neill offworld in the future.

This order is of the highest importance and is to be adhered to strictly at all times.

Even when he is the Commanding Officer, under NO circumstances is Colonel O’Neill EVER to be allowed to eat cake on an alien planet again.

George Hammond
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

Beast of a Leap

Beast of a Leap
By Helen Earl


Sam shook his head to clear the haze of leaping.
First glance told him that he hadn’t made it home. Again.
His new surroundings assaulted his senses - strong unpleasant odors, a cacophony of sound, chaotic movement.
For an instant Sam was afraid he’d leaped into another animal, for he was surrounded by cages full of exotic creatures of various species, all barking, growling, hissing, whimpering or chirruping in varying degrees of distress. They were obviously aware that he was an interloper, and they were alerting anyone in earshot to the fact.
“Hey, keep it down, fellas,” Sam exhorted them in a harsh whisper.
Despite the lack of reflective surfaces, Sam soon established that he was at least human. He was holding a mop, and by his right leg was a large metal bucket full of dirty looking soapy water. Focusing on the floor in front of him, Sam realized that his host had been in the middle of cleaning up a large dollop of steaming excrement. He wrinkled his nose in disgust.
“Oh, boy!” he sighed. Leaping had reached an all-time low.
“Which one of you is responsible for this?” Sam looked around at the caged creatures and gestured toward the mess with his mop.
The animals were all still ‘talking’ at once, but nothing sounded like a confession or an apology.
With a shrug, Sam turned his attention to cleaning up the mess.
“How are the mighty fallen?” Al’s gloating voice startled Sam so that he nearly tripped and knocked the bucket over.
The new arrival caused the menagerie to protest even louder, if such were possible.
“Al!” hissed Sam, not at all amused by any aspect of the situation he found himself in.
“Where’s Johnny?” a shrill voice piped up.
Turning toward the source, Sam was horrified to find a large African grey parrot swooping down on him. Instinctively he put up his hand to protect his face from its beak and claws. The bird settled on his raised forearm and stared at the new arrival. “Oh, boy!” it squawked.
0o0
“Who am I this time? Dr. Doolittle?” Sam asked, while the parrot pecked at the white streak in his hair.
“Where’s Johnny?” squawked the bird again.
“No, Sam,” Al stifled a giggle. “Your name is John – Johnny – Sheffield. Hey, like the actor!”
“Should I have heard of him?” Sam asked with a puzzled frown. He shook the bird off his arm and finished cleaning up as they talked. He didn’t want to get Johnny fired.
“Probably a bit before your time, Sam. He played ‘Boy’ in the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies in the ‘40s.”
Ziggy squealed.
“Oh, cool,” Al grinned. “This Johnny was named after the actor. His parents were fans, and animal lovers. Plus, baby Johnny had an unruly mop of long curly hair just like his namesake.”
“That’s all very well, Al, but it doesn’t help me with the leap. Let me guess, I work as a hired hand in a zoo.” He gestured at the diversity of wildlife surrounding him.
“Good guess, Sam. Close, but no cigar.” The hologram held up his own Honduran handmade Zino tauntingly. “Actually, you are a Para...Para...” Al thumped the side of his hand-link with the heel of his thumb. “Paraveterinary worker, otherwise known as a veterinary technologist. Quite a mouthful, huh?”

Sam nodded. “Go on.”

“It’s 1991. You’re twenty-six years old and living in Hollywood, California. This place belongs to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine called Dr. Niall Quinn; V.M.D. He’s famous as The Vet to the Stars.”

“Any idea why I’m here, Al? For something more than this I hope.” Sam had finished cleaning the floor, and was now emptying the bucket down a drain.

“For once, we know quite a bit, Sam,” Al beamed. He knew how frustrated Sam got when Ziggy couldn’t give him the answers he needed. Maybe this would be an easy leap for once. “Quinn’s been at the top of his game for years, but he’s about to crash and burn. It was in all the papers, and the hot topic on TV for weeks. Day after tomorrow, one of his patients is going to die on the operating table. The owner is a real bigwig ‘A’ list Hollywood star. She doesn’t take kindly to the loss of her beloved kitty. She sues Quinn for every penny he has in a very public court case. The bankruptcy and humiliation are too much for his Irish-American pride and he commits suicide. Zig puts it at a solid 97% you’re here to save both the pet and the vet.” Al sniggered at his little rhyme.
“What killed the cat, Al? Was it negligence, or was its condition fatal?”
“Well, it wasn’t curiosity,” Al quipped. “Evidence proved that Quinn botched the op. Sheffield reluctantly testified that the old boy had been getting shaky hands. It was suggested that maybe he hit the booze a bit too hard, but the lad said he’d never seen Quinn drink at all, let alone to excess.”
“That doesn’t prove anything, Al. We both know all too well that serious drinkers are often secretive about it. Remember that lighthouse keeper* who nearly killed me when I got rid of his hidden stash?” {*Bourbon on the Rocks by Helen Earl}
“Yeah, been there, done that, got the hangover,” Al acknowledged his personal battle with the bottle. “Not to mention, I’ve never yet met an Irishman who wasn’t fond of a tipple.”
“Okay, so I need to check for hidden booze. Anything else you can tell me?”
“Yeah, Sam. The parrot’s name is Chimola, which means ‘breaker of things’ – a name he lives up to – so be careful what you leave lying around.”
Right on cue, the bird swooped down and knocked a jar of peanuts off a shelf. The glass shattered, and the bird helped himself to the contents.
Sam cleared up the broken glass with a resigned sigh.
“I was hoping for something a bit more helpful, like where Johnny lives and what time he finishes work.” Sam began wandering up and down the recovery room, tidying up and looking at each of the animal’s charts. He raised an eyebrow from time to time at the celebrity owners’ names, frowning at others he felt he should have recognized, but didn’t. There were several species that Sam felt sure shouldn’t be kept as pets, but then the rich and famous were renowned for getting round little things like licensing laws. Sam was just glad that the animals were safely behind bars.
“Well, the first one is easy,” Al told him. “Both Quinn and Johnny live in the rather splendid mansion that adjoins this clinic. Johnny had a tragic childhood. He was orphaned at seven years old. His father ran a prestigious riding stable until a horse threw him and broke his neck; his mother was a well-known actress who OD’d at the height of her career less than a year later. Johnny’s always loved animals and while he was still at school he started volunteering here – doing the mop up duties, feeding the animals and so on. When his foster parents were killed in a car accident, Quinn took him in. Put him through university to get his associate degree. He’s now part Paraveterinary, part apprentice while he works towards his impending full veterinary qualification.”
“Wow. No wonder Johnny didn’t want to testify against Quinn. It must have felt like the worst kind of betrayal.”
“To both of them. Sheffield said he’d only done it because he didn’t want any more animals to die. He was worried that Quinn wasn’t coping and wanted him to retire. The doc’s only 59 and wouldn’t admit that he’d lost his edge. Quinn couldn’t forgive Johnny, and it was another contributory factor in his suicide. Which of course made Johnny feel even guiltier. He would have inherited this practice, the mansion, the lot, but he turned his back on the glamour and glitz. He went to work on a reserve in Africa.”
“Where’s Johnny?” Chimola asked again, flying round and round above Sam’s head.
“Daft bird, Johnny’s right there!”
Neither Sam nor Al had noticed the tall, curvaceous blond figure enter from an adjacent room. Helpfully, she wore a nametag just above her ample left breast, announcing that she was a receptionist with the unusual name of Suzella.
“He’s such a kidder!” Sam laughed in embarrassment.
“Johnny’s in Africa!” declared the bird, glaring at Al.
“Uh oh, Sa-am,” Al started tapping his hand-link. “Seems like Chimola’s repeating what I said. I’m outa here.” So saying, he vanished back to the future.
“What’s gotten into you, eh Chimola?” Suzella put out her arm and the bird flew down onto it, preening himself as she stroked his chest feathers.
“Where’s Johnny?” Chimola repeated. Sam rolled his eyes; it was going to be one of those leaps.
“That’s just what Dr. Quinn sent me to find out,” Suzella told the bird, smiling sweetly. “He needs you in examination room one, Johnny. Got a restless one.”
“On my way,” Sam told her, following her out into the reception area and hoping she’d show him where he needed to be.
0o0
Entering examination room one was like walking in to a madhouse. The short man in the white coat, who had to be Dr. Quinn, was running round the examining table in hot pursuit of an agitated chimpanzee. The chimp was screeching blue murder, and Quinn was alternately cajoling and chastising the animal. Bedlam was an understatement.
Cowering in a corner - using the chimp’s traveling cage as a shield - was a young man in a chauffeur’s uniform.
Dr. Quinn looked older than his fifty-nine years. His wrinkled face and shock of untamed red hair made him look for all the world like a cross between Albert Einstein and one of those Danish Good Luck Troll dolls that were so popular in the early ‘60s. The more he lunged for the animal, the more it evaded him. The more they both ducked and weaved, the more the chauffeur cringed and shrank back. It was farcical to watch.
The scene made Sam recall the time he’d leaped into a chimp in the space program. The animal before him was somewhat reminiscent of Cory, the chimp who’d had a crush on Bobo, and therefore on him. This one seemed to feel the same allure, for as soon as she noticed Sam – albeit in Johnny’s aura – she calmed right down and jumped into his arms.
“How do you do that?” Quinn asked him with a puzzled frown that turned into a beaming grin. “She’s more trouble than Bubbles was last year, that one.”
“Animal magnetism,” Sam shrugged, repeating something he’d once heard Al say. “I’m magnetic and she’s an animal.” He rubbed the chimp behind the ears the way he remembered Cory used to like. “What’s the matter girl, eh?”
“She’s swallowed a diamond bracelet,” the chauffeur explained. “I’m not sure where Madam De Laurentis’ priorities lie, with her gems or with Lucy.”
“I’m sure the gems would be easier to replace.” Sam was shocked by the thought that some spoilt rich woman could put a greater value on a bit of bling than on the life of a lovely creature like Lucy. “Besides, they’re probably insured.”
Though the chauffeur appeared to be wary of the creature, he shared Sam’s feelings on the matter. “She has so much jewelry, I’m surprised she even missed it. Lucy’s a handful, but I’d hate anything to happen to her.”
“Bring her through for an x-ray please, Johnny,” Quinn gestured toward a door at the back of the examination room.
The chimp clung tight to Sam as he carried her through to the smaller anteroom where the x-ray machine was housed. He spoke to her, softly and soothingly, while at the same time sneaking a look at Quinn as he worked, looking for clues to explain the impending events.
Quinn was calm and professional, and caring. He sounded genuinely relieved when he reported to the chauffeur that the bracelet wasn’t causing any internal damage and they could safely wait for nature to take its course. He ruffled the hair on Lucy’s head as he told her to stick to her diet in future. His hand trembled a little, but he seemed in control.
So it was throughout the day. Sam stuck close to Quinn, observing the man and assisting as much as possible. The more he watched, the less Sam believed that alcoholism was to blame for Quinn’s downfall.
As the day wore on, Quinn’s movements became stiffer and slower, and his trembling more pronounced. He also became forgetful, asking Sam the same question two or three times. When he realized from Sam’s replies that he was doing so, he tried to shrug it off, but it was obviously causing him some anxiety. None of this was conclusive of anything in itself, as it had been a busy day and they were both tired by the end of it.
When they finally left for the night, handing over care of the in-patients to a veterinary nurse with strict instructions to call if there were any problems, Quinn announced he wanted an early night. Sam fixed them a quick meal, then, insisting he could manage the clearing up, he encouraged Quinn to head off to bed.
“You did well today, Johnny,” Quinn told him with obvious pride as he paused at the foot of the grand staircase. “You’ll make a fine vet. Don’t study too late now.”
“No sir,” Sam replied respectfully. Great, he was supposed to be studying. Sam just hoped he wouldn’t have to stick around to sit the exams.
Once alone, Sam started to look around the first floor of the mansion. He checked drawers, cabinets and so on for booze, or prescription pills, or recreational drugs, or anything that would help him understand what Quinn’s problem was. Either there was nothing to find, or Quinn was clever enough to keep any incriminating evidence in his bedroom, for Sam’s search came up empty.
0o0
Over breakfast, Quinn gave Sam a ‘pop quiz’, making him glad he’d put in some time before bed reading over Johnny’s notes and flipping through the textbooks on the desk in his luxurious bedroom/study.
“Excellent, Johnny,” Quinn pronounced when they’d finished. “I have every confidence you’ll score even higher than I did on your upcoming test.”
“Thank you.” Sam really liked the good doctor. He was kind and generous, and very good at his job. Sam couldn’t help but notice the tremors in his hands, though, and the stiffness of his muscles as he got up from the table.
“Are you okay?” Sam asked, with genuine concern.
“I’m fine, my boy.” Quinn waved a dismissive hand, but Sam saw the slight grimace that was quickly and deliberately replaced with a fixed expression of determination. Quinn obviously wasn’t ready to talk about his condition.
So Sam spent the day doing as much of Quinn’s work as the doctor would let him, saying that he needed the practical experience. When Quinn insisted on taking the lead, Sam watched him closely, ostensibly ‘to learn from the expert’ but also to test a theory that was starting to form in his diagnostician’s mind.
Early in the afternoon, Al put in an appearance. Sam was once more on clean up duty in the recovery room, while Quinn took an extended lunch break. At least this time none of the creatures had done their business on the floor, although Chimola still flew free. Sam had to sweep up a broken coffee mug that had fallen victim to the parrot’s eponymous habit.
“Where’s Johnny?” shrieked the bird as soon as he saw Sam. Thankfully, the rest of the menagerie was less vocal about the substitution today. Most were content just to doze in their cages.
That was, until Al arrived. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, with palm trees waving over a tropical blue background, over tan shorts and brown sandals. His arrival prompted several animals to start pacing, or rattle the bars of their cages, or protest loudly at the intruder who had walked through Lucy’s cage and now stood impossibly before them.
Lucy started jumping up and down and making a racket, until Sam went over and whispered softly to her, rubbing her head through the bars. She calmed down instantly.
“Hey,” Al protested, “I thought I was the one who had a way with the ladies.”
Sam just glared at him.
The other animals chorused their disapproval once more.
“What’s their problem?” Al wanted to know, gesturing over his shoulder.
“You,” laughed Sam.
Al moved nervously further down the line, and the disturbance moved with him.
“Cut it out!” Al snapped, turning round to face the cage to his right.
A cobra rose up and stuck its forked tongue out at him.
Al leaped back visibly, a good three paces.
“Arh! I hate snakes!”
Grinning at Al’s discomfort, Sam made a show of stepping aside to let Al move to a less populated area.
“What have you got for me, Al?”
“Cut it out!” mimicked Chimola.
“I’ve got a good friend who’s a taxidermist for him, that’s for sure,” Al glared at the bird.
“I hate snakes,” Chimola captured Al’s tone perfectly.
“Why you....” Al mimed throttling the bird, who flew around just out of reach. “You’re gonna find yourself on a banana boat back to the tropics if you don’t cut that out.”
“Cut it out! Cut it out!”
“Sam, get rid of that bird, or so help me, I’ll make a feather duster out of him.”
Sam was struggling not to collapse in hysterics, as Al got redder in the face.
“How are you gonna do that, Al?” he challenged.
“Cut it out! Cut it out!” squealed Chimola, dive-bombing Al and flying right through him. It was a close run thing which of them was more startled by the encounter.
“Go to your cage, Chimola,” commanded Sam masterfully.
The parrot obeyed, but shot a parting, “Where’s Johnny?”
“When you’ve quite finished making the natives restless, Al, do you have something for me, or not?”
“Would I be here otherwise?” Al sidled further away from the intimidating inmates. “Ziggy has accessed Niall Quinn’s autopsy. The doctors confirmed his death to be suicide, but they found something else. He was suffering fr-“
“-Parkinson’s,” Sam interrupted him with a triumphant gesture.
Al shot him a surprised look. “Yeah, Sam. Spot on. He’s got Parkinson’s. That’s what’s giving him the shakes. His doctor has ordered tests, but it is one of those conditions that presents differently in different people. No two have exactly the same symptoms. Quinn is in denial. He suspects, but he knows it would mean the end of his career, so he’s burying his head in the sand. He seems to think if it isn’t official, it isn’t happening, you know?”
“I know, Al. But it is happening. It’s real. And tomorrow it’s going to be fatal, first for that poor little kitty, and ultimately for him too.”
“Unless you can change history, yes, Sam.” Al confirmed.
“Ok, Al,” Sam squared his shoulders. “Number one, I guess it’s up to me to do the operation. What am I looking at? Please don’t say neutering.”
“No, Sam. Not neutering.” Al shifted uncomfortably and avoided Sam’s gaze. He was trying to decide how much he should tell his friend in advance. He didn’t want the Leaper to be up all night worrying. It wouldn’t help if Sam got shaky hands too. “Midnight has a benign tumor, but it’s located in her urethra. It isn’t too big, but due to the location it could be life-threatening if not removed. Quinn’s shaky hand perforated her bladder-“
“Don’t say anymore, Al,” Sam shook his head sadly. He took a deep breath. “Does Zig think I can handle it?”
Al tapped the keys on his hand-link and it squealed in response.
“She gives you an 81% chance of completing the surgery safely and saving Midnight’s life. She won’t go higher because of the intrinsic risk of any surgery. Midnight could react to the anesthetic for example.”
“Pretty good odds for any surgery. I wish I were operating on a human though.”
Al avoided making eye contact again. “I know Sam. Me too.”
0o0
Next morning, Sam had helped Quinn to clear all the minor cases so that they could devote their attention to the main operation of the day. He had tried several times to broach the subject of Quinn’s condition, but the doctor wouldn’t discuss it. He maintained he was fine. Sam was starting to worry that he would insist on doing the operation, and history would repeat itself.
While they were waiting for the mystery celebrity to arrive with her ailing kitten, Quinn did the rounds in the recovery room, deciding which pets were ready to go home. He was a little distant at first, not happy that Johnny had been pushing him to confront matters he wanted left alone. But he remained professional. Soon, he was back to his jovial self as if nothing had been said. He was clearly proud of his protégé, and genuinely fond of the lad. He didn’t hold a grudge. Not until the final betrayal, anyway.
“Where’s Johnny?” came the predictable refrain from Chimola.
Quinn looked at the bird, and then conferred an indulgent smile on Sam. “I see what you mean,” he told his assistant, who had warned him of the bird’s bizarre behavior.
“How’s Lucy?” Quinn asked, as they moved on.
“Free and clear,” Sam told him, pointing to the now cleaned bracelet on a silver tray on the desk. This job had been one of the smelliest he could remember. He wouldn’t miss clean up duties one bit.
“No ill effects?”
“She seems fine.” Sam reached into the chimp’s cage, but before he could ruffle her head, she reached up and started grooming his hair. Sam decided that he had a real affinity with chimps.
“Cut it out! Cut it out!” Chimola squawked.
Sam couldn’t help but glance around to see if Al was there. The impression was uncanny.
“Talking of cutting it out, we have a big operation to set up, Johnny. Our guest of honor should be arriving and we need to get her prepped and sedated ready for the anesthetic.”
“We?” Sam reiterated. “You’re going to let me assist?”
Hopefully, once in there, Sam would be able to take over.
“I think you’re ready, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir.” Sam confirmed, hoping it was true.
0o0
“Midnight is sedated and shaved ready for you,” Suzella told them a short while later.
Sam saw Al hovering by the door. He held back, letting Quinn go into the operating room first. Al looked nervous.
“Shouldn’t it be me getting nervous, Al?” Sam asked in a whisper.
“That’s just it, Sam,” Al told him. “You mustn’t. Steady hands; remember? I don’t want you to freak when you see Midnight.”
“Freak?” Sam frowned, getting suspicious. “Why would I freak?”
“Just think of her as a cute black kitty, Sam.”
“I guessed she was black, Al. The name’s a bit of a giveaway.” Sam was trying to stay upbeat, but Al’s demeanor had him worried. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Al decided to just come out with it. Speaking very fast, he informed Sam, “Midnight’s-a-two-year-old-black-Panther-Sam.”
“A what?!?” Sam’s voice raised a little and he caught himself. “A what?” he whispered again. He’d taken an unconscious step back from the door.
“Panther,” said Al, trying to sound as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“John-ny!” Quinn called from inside the room.
“C-Coming,” Sam replied weakly.
“I’m right with you, Sam,” Al reassured him, walking beside him as he reluctantly entered the room. “I’ll stand by you.”
“Easy for you to say,” Sam countered. “Midnight can’t rip your throat out.”
“Hey, don’t sweat it, Sam,” Al encouraged. “You’ve tamed a lion before, remember?’
Sam frowned for a moment, before the memory came back. A fashion model, what was her name? Evie? Edie? Yes, Edie. The lion was threatening her. Snowball wasn’t it? Not soft and cuddly, but fierce and dangerous. He’d used the old chair trick to keep the beast at bay. Somehow, Sam wasn’t very reassured by the recollection.
They found Quinn still trying to give Midnight the anesthetic. Despite being sedated she was still far from happy and a low growl rumbled from her throat. Quinn’s hand was trembling.
Swallowing hard and mustering all his courage, Sam stepped up.
“Here, let me.” He put out his hand for the tube, which had to be placed in the Panther’s windpipe in order to administer the gas. Shooting Al a nervous look, he whispered a clue as to what he wanted the hologram to do.
“Widow Maker,” he breathed softly, thankful that he remembered that particular leap.
It was Al’s turn to wear a puzzled frown. Then his hand-link squealed, and he was reminded that once upon a Leap he’d subdued a wild stallion so that Sam could ride him safely and win Tess’ competition.
Al positioned himself by the big cat’s head, and, looking her in the eye, began chanting, “Ohhmmm, Ohhmmm.”
It was working. Before she knew it, the tube had been inserted and Midnight was inhaling the anesthetic.
Sam’s breathing settled into a rhythm too.
“Well done, Johnny. Now watch closely.” Quinn took up position.
Sam knew he couldn’t let Quinn wield the scalpel.
“I’ve been reading up on this procedure,” Sam told him. Which was true. “Would you mind if I took care of it?”
Quinn looked dubious, so Sam added diplomatically, “With you talking me through it, of course.”
“It is a relatively straightforward procedure,” Quinn decided. “But tricky. One wrong move could prove fatal.” Quinn held the scalpel aloft, and his hand shook.
Sam said nothing. He just gently wrapped his own hand around the doctor’s trembling digits, and gave him a meaningful look.
“It’s okay, doc. I know about the Parkinson’s.” Sam told him softly.
Quinn looked as if he was about to deny it. Sam knew this was make-or-break time. He had to give Quinn an alternative. He thought fast.
“It doesn’t have to mean the end of your career,” Sam assured him. “Just an end to performing surgery. You’ve done an amazing job teaching me. You could do the lecture circuit. You have some incredible stories you can regale the students with. You could even write a book.”
Quinn’s eyes sparkled. The idea obviously appealed.
Encouraged, Sam went on, “I bet it’d be a bestseller. Everyone loves to read about celebrities. And animal stories are always a winner. So, it’ll be the best of both worlds. I can see you on Oprah. You’ll be a celebrity in your own right.”
“Hmm,” mused Quinn, gesturing to Sam to begin the operation. “The idea has merit. Tell me more...”
0o0
Several hours later, Midnight was snoozing happily in the recovery room.
“Why haven’t I leaped, Al?” Sam wanted to know.
“Where’s Johnny?” Chimola queried loudly.
“He’ll be back soon,” Sam told the bird.
“Won’t he?” this time to Al.
“Should be,” Al confirmed. “Ziggy says Quinn takes your advice. He immediately hands over all the surgeries and concentrates on getting Johnny through his vet exams. He still consults, and gives lectures. But he spends most of his time dictating his memoirs. Best seller as you predicted. He has a happy retirement, despite the Parkinson’s. And Johnny sticks around to make sure he gets the best care love and money can provide.”
“So...?” Sam gave an exaggerated shrug, spreading his hands wide. What more was there to do?
“Ziggy’s suggesting that you need to say goodbye to Lucy before her owner collects her,” Al informed him.
This was one mission Sam was happy to undertake. He opened her cage and Lucy rushed into his arms, hugging him tight. “Yes, I’m gonna miss you too, Lucy,” he told her.
The chimp planted a huge slobbery kiss on Sam’s cheek.
“Cut it out!” protested Chimola.
“Leave her alone,” Sam ordered, cuddling Lucy.
Suddenly, the chimp reached into Sam’s breast pocket and pulled out the pen torch he used for examinations. She started to put it in her mouth.
“Lucy! NO!” Sam snatched it away from her. He held it up for her to see, then gestured as if he were going to eat it himself. He stopped, and shook his head. “This is not good to eat, okay?” He pulled a face. “Bad. Lucy get tummy ache again. Understand?”
Then he chucked her under the chin, so that she looked him in the eyes. “Stick to bananas, okay, Lucy? Promise.” He reached into her cage and pulled one out, offering it to her.
Lucy nodded vigorously, as if she got it at last. She took the fruit and started to peel it.
“That’s it, Sam, you did it.” Al told him. “Seems she’s learnt her lesson. Lucy will be fine now.”
“Good girl.”
“Oh boy!” Chimola the parrot just had to have the final word as Sam leaped.
Tags:
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

F is for For Attention Of

Stargate Command
Internal Memo
From the desk of General George Hammond

FAO: All Stargate Personnel (Colonel O’Neill this means you too!)
It has come to my attention that an illicit gambling ‘pool’ has been operating out of the mess hall for some time.
This must cease IMMEDIATELY.
You are all well aware that it is against regulations for such betting to take place on government property. Furthermore, the subject matter of these wagers is by no means appropriate, nor yet ethical. I am disappointed in all those who have participated.
I am prepared to let this matter rest and take no further official action, provided I receive assurances it will not happen again.
I leave it to Dr. Daniel Jackson to decide how he wants to deal with his so-called friends, who think there is sport to be made in predicting how long it will be before he dies again.

George Hammond
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

Z is for Zodiac

Grunting, Daniel squinted against the bright light above his bed. He heard a rustling of paper.

“Hey, sunshine, you’re awake!” Jack’s cheery voice sounded way too loud.

“Jack?” Daniel forced his eyes into focus, but it made his head throb. He tried to raise his left arm to rub at his forehead, but found it tethered by an IV tube. His right was supported in a sling to protect his broken bones. The cast on his leg felt like it weighed a ton.

“How you doin?”

“Stupidest question in the world, Jack.” Daniel decided. “I’m on top of the world, can’t you tell?”

“Well, you should be,” Colonel O’Neill announced with a chuckle.

“How’d you figure that?” Daniel knew he was concussed, but he was pretty sure that getting trampled by a great hulking alien bullock wasn’t conducive to anyone’s wellbeing.

“Says so right here,” Jack held up the copy of the Sunday supplement he’d been reading while he waited for Daniel to come round.

“Huh?” SG-1 was a top-secret government taskforce, or so he thought. Since when did their exploits make the Sunday papers?

Jack tapped the horoscope section, turning it round for Daniel to read.

Daniel frowned.

“You are a Cancer, aren’t you? Zodiac sign for July 8th?”

Daniel nodded, but instantly regretted it.

“Well, there you are then.” Jack looked smug. “Right here, listen.” He turned it back so he could read aloud, “Cancer should be bold today. Take the bull by the horns and you’re bound to come out on top of the world.”

Daniel groaned, “I wish somebody had told the bull.”
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

The Kindness of Strangers

LFCC 2015

After the fiasco of last year - when Showmasters vastly underestimated the interest in YALC and so weren’t prepared at all for what happened - I’d pretty much decided not to bother with LFCC this year. Disorganized crowds, no air-con, loos blocked off, inability to queue for authors - all made it a nightmare last time. Not to mention getting virtual ticket 820something for Summer Glau, meaning I ended up leaving without having met her. [All this was detailed in my post at the time.] Even though it is my annual birthday treat, I just didn’t feel the hassle was worth it.

But that was before I found out Richard Dean Anderson would be attending.
I loved MacGyver. I loved Stargate. I love RDA. I have autographs from the other 3 members of SG-1. How could I NOT go to meet RDA?

So as usual, the kids bought my tickets as my birthday present. It would be late this year, but never mind. RDA!!!!

The first disappointment was that I didn’t get a ticket for a photoshoot. It was way over budget, but I was trying to find a way to make it happen. Then I had to work on the day they were released, and they’d sold out within a couple of hours according to my friend. Missed the boat there.

Still, I was looking forward to getting an autograph. And I managed to get talk tickets for RDA for Bob and me. I just hoped there wouldn’t be a repeat of the Summer Glau situation, as I knew RDA would be immensely popular.

There was no way I could afford a repeat of the first time we went to LFCC, when my mother paid £300 for a taxi there and back for Bob and me. We arrived at 7am and so were within the first 100 people in the queue. Wonderful.

These days, we have to take the train. Bob and I were joined by Bex and her boyfriend Chris - dressed as Misty and Ash with their Pokemon. We arrived just after 8am, and already the queue was right round Olympia and back to the exit from the train station.

We met a lovely mum and daughter in the queue, who told us that RDA had only signed about 70 autographs on Friday. My heart sank. Still, I was determined to try. He was, after all, the ONLY reason I’d decided to go. YALC was a bonus, of course. I wouldn’t have minded meeting some of the authors, and there was a suggestion that there might possibly be some open agent pitching sessions, so I took my picture book stories just in case, but RDA was definitely my priority.

We finally got through the doors at around quarter past nine. I asked several Showmasters personnel, in both red and blue shirts, where I had to go to get virtual tickets for RDA. I was met with blank looks and unhelpful suggestions. Finally, we found one on another virtual queue who pointed us right. Upshot of this was that when I finally got my magic green ticket, the number on it was 299.

My fears were confirmed. 299 might as well have been a thousand. I was going to have to settle for the talk. Maybe join Bex in the author zone after. We split up.

So next on the list was to find the talk venue. A huge room - promising. A quick visit to the loo, and Bob and I toured some of the stalls. Optimistically, I bought an autograph sleeve ‘just in case’ with the expectation that it would be kept for another year.

The talk was 11.15am. At around quarter to eleven, we went to check that the room wasn’t filling up already. There were quite a few people inside, so we entered, to make sure they were there for RDA. I saw a lady in a Star Wars T shirt, who told me that there was supposed to be a free Dr. Who talk first. We got chatting. She said she was a Stargate fan too.

And it changed everything!

I told her I was only there for RDA, but it looked like I’d struck out with ticket 299.
She said she and her husband had arrived really early, and had both approached the virtual queue from different sides. He’d managed to get her ticket 60. She got herself ticket 80.

Then, wonderfully, unbelievably, miraculously, she offered me her ticket 80!!!!

Thank you so, so, so very much @kt_starkiller for turning what would have been the biggest disappointment into the most wonderful day.

We chatted for a while, then her husband came back and they went off.

Bob and I decided to hang around for the Dr Who talk, so we’d be on hand for RDA. Also, the room was wonderfully cool and we got to sit down. We elected to eat our lunch early while we waited, rather than having to find a patch of floor later. Neither of us are very good at getting up once we’re down.

Time ticked by, and we were getting worried that the schedule was running very late.

Finally, Kevin Davies came onto the stage. He produced and directed 30 years in the Tardis and various other Who. He started warming the audience up, and apologised for the delay. He talked about Peter Davison as his '12th favourite' doctor. He was interesting, but obviously the majority were just waiting for Drs 6 and 7.

After a while the message came through that the Drs weren’t going to make it at all. ‘The Tardis is stuck in the vortex,’ he said.

He kept talking for a little while, but since most people got up and left, he gave up.

By this time a queue was forming outside for RDA. We went and asked a blue shirt, who told us we could keep our places, they would come round and check our talk tickets in a bit. So we sat down again. Then another blue shirt came over and told us we had to go out and join the queue. So instead of being right at the front by virtue of being there half an hour early, we had to go right to the back of the queue. Typical Showmasters, they all tell you something different, and nobody seems to know what is going on.

We finally got back in, and were seated halfway back. Then once everyone was in, they moved the rows forward to fill up the gaps. We ended up two rows behind where we’d been before. Not too bad.

Kevin Davies remained to introduce RDA and manage questions. Richard entered to rapturous applause and much whooping. The comment was made that the British were supposed to be reserved. Rick said he loved the UK, and talked about filming the MacGyver movie here. Davies mentioned scenes in Battersea Power Station, but Rick didn’t remember being there.

Of course, as soon as he came out, phones started flashing. Rick got out his own and put it on video, panning across the audience. We did a Mexican wave. Then he turned it on himself. ‘These are all my fans’. Davies said we could now all say we’d been directed by RDA.

The talk was great. It lasted about 45 minutes, including a couple of pauses for public service announcements over the tannoy that drowned everything else out. RDA was charming. He told a funny story about his competition with Chris Judge for the title of King of Flatulence. He talked about his famous long distance bike ride and how it changed his life. ‘If this were Oprah, we’d be telling you “there’s a 10 speed bike under your seat”' he joked. He talked with great affection about the short lived series LEGEND. He was wearing a ‘Grrr Arghhh’ T shirt, so I asked him if he’d have liked a role in Buffy, and if so, what sort of part he’d have liked to play. He confessed that he didn’t even realise the shirt was from Buffy and didn’t really know what the series was about. He quipped, ‘I’d play Buffy, because the star always gets paid the most.’ Several times, he alluded to his failing memory, and the audience prompted him with episode titles etc as he talked. When he talked about Shanks and A Tapps getting all the technobabble because he didn’t want to have to learn it, so he gave the simple explanations, someone at the back yelled “Magnets!” which many of us echoed. He kept asking us to repeat what we were saying, but couldn’t make it out. “My tits? Is that what you said?"

He was asked if there was a point where he felt ‘I’ve made it,’ and if, in retrospect, that had indeed been the point. He said, not really, except when his business manager told him he already had enough money to put Wylie through college.

The talk finished around noon. We left and headed straight for the signing queue. Bob left me there to explore the stalls. Just as well I got there when I did. With usual Showmaster inefficiency, the queue controller was new, and had allowed a longer queue than she should have (bless her). Another red shirt came along and cut the queue off about 8 people after me. She tried to persuade a lot of the rest of us to go away until after lunch, but I wasn’t budging. The queue moved slowly. RDA was giving generously of his time. Finally, I got to the photo desk. There was a choice of 3 MacGyver or five Stargate pictures, all gorgeous. There was also a great sign about Rick not being able to sign ‘fabrics, or rolls of duct tape’. LOL I picked a photo of Jack in front of the Gate. Since I have the rest of the team, I wanted them to match. But I cheekily asked if I could nab a MacGyver pic if I promised not to try to sneak an extra sig. She let me - thank you.

At this point, RDA’s minder had words with the blue shirt - it was about 12.48 and he was getting ready to have lunch. They looked at the remaining queue and she suggested he asked Rick to speed up a bit. Typical.

When I was nearly there, I was greeted by a good looking chap with a grey beard. I’m ashamed to say I probably should have known who he was, but didn’t. He engaged with me and when I said I had autographs from the rest of the team he asked if I had Don S Davis. I said unfortunately not. He said he'd worked closely with Don, and they’d been planning to release an exhibition of Don’s artwork when he sadly passed away. They were hoping to organise it soon in his memory. I hadn’t realised that he was an artist too. Such a tragic loss. I’d have loved to have met him.

Then it was my turn at last. I gave Richard a copy of my fanfic short, ’N is for Name’, at the bottom of which I’d written him a short message. I told him I’d written it in case I got tongue-tied. He apologised but said that he couldn’t read it without his glasses. I told him he was my birthday present and the only reason I was there. He seemed flattered. I told him about my birthday kiss from Chris Judge and he asked ‘was it a proper kiss?’ I just said it was lovely. He wished me happy birthday as he signed, and I shook his hand.

Worth it? TOTALLY!

When I came down from cloud nine, I called Bex. She was third in line for an author. I said I’d come up and meet her on level 3. Well, that was the plan. I walked all around level 2 [huge] twice and couldn’t find the stairs to go up, only the stairs to go down. The lift near the talk stage was not allowing anyone on. The lifts on the other side had queues of about 50 people waiting to get on. So I gave up. I called Bob and he said he was looking at the stalls downstairs, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered to push my way down to search him out. I wandered around the middle level stalls. I bought myself a Sea Shepherd bag with my birthday money from Diane [sister-in-law] and got David a Transformer Armada comic dated 2 Aug [our anniversary]. Then I found the Genko T shirt stall. By this time the others called to say they were ready to join me, so we rendezvoused there. I bought Bob two T shirts for his birthday - another annual tradition.

It was only something after two, but we were all hot and tired. There weren’t any other authors for Bex except Holly Smail, and she wasn’t going to be available until 3.30pm. We elected not to wait.

Heading out for the train, I spotted Jodie outside in her Stargate gear, and we had a quick chat. I got Bob to take our picture. I just wished I’d got him to take one of me with @kt_starkiller. I always forget about the pictures until the event is over.

Overall, it was a mixed experience. I’m not sure I’ll go next year. Unless there’s a big name like Nathan Fillion. I’d go for him. But thanks to a chance encounter with a lovely lady, a miracle of good luck the like of which I very rarely see, this year wasn’t a total bust. It was a dream come true.

[This July report has previously been posted to my Wordpress account, but I thought it should be here too]
Tags:
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

Y is for Yoke

Y is for Yoke, by Madders_Ahatter (PG)

Summary: Jack and Daniel are enslaved by aliens, but to what purpose?
Word count: 1,220 words
Characters: Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson
Era: Season 5
Categories: Team, tough times, humor
Author's notes: Post ‘Beast of Burden’; Dedicated to @KT_Starkiller in grateful thanks for ticket 80 to meet RDA


“These guys are a pain in the neck,” grumbled O’Neill.

“So. Not. Funny.” Daniel grimaced. He’d have given Jack a filthy look, but his friend couldn’t turn his head far enough to see it. The heavy leather collars kept them looking more or less straight ahead, while the thick wooden beam the collars were mounted on meant they couldn’t move closer or further apart. They felt like a couple of Shire Horses.

“Haven’t they heard of the Unas?” Jack wanted to know. “Your pal Chaka could do this on his own without breaking a sweat.” Jack raised an aching arm and wiped perspiration from his eyes so he could see a little of where he was going. He’d have given a king’s ransom for his baseball cap to give his eyes a bit of shade. Daniel had more than once commented that he felt the same about his confiscated boonie hat.

“You’ll get no argument from me,” countered Daniel, “but they’ve got the whips, so keep pulling, okay.”

“Hey, I’m pulling. You’re the one lagging behind.”

“My legs are shorter,” Daniel complained petulantly.

“Yeh, you’d think they’d match slaves by stride. They’d get these logs shifted much faster if they were pulled in a straight line.”

Daniel hadn’t really thought about that before. He’d been too busy helping Jack haul the giant tree-trunk that was chained at each end to the weighty double yoke he and his commanding officer/friend were locked into. Now he did think about it, he glanced at the other two pairs of captives who were similarly occupied up ahead and to either side of them, just at the edge of their limited field of vision. Both were equally ill-matched, one with long legs, the other noticeably shorter. It had to be deliberate, but why?

The sharp crack of leather brought his mind back into focus. It had missed his bare back by centimeters. Wearily, Daniel trudged on, struggling to keep pace with a similarly topless Jack.

“Do ya get the feeling we’re getting nowhere slowly?” Jack asked after another half hour of toil.

“I’ve had that feeling since mid-morning,” Daniel gave back. He had only the merciless alien sun that had been beating down on them for hours to help him keep track of time, but from its passage across the cloudless sky he was pretty sure they’d been at this futile exercise since soon after dawn and it was now somewhere well after noon. Of course, he couldn’t be sure how many hours made a day on this backwoods planet. From the burning in his muscles and the sting of sunburn on his exposed flesh, not to mention the dehydration, it felt like they’d been at it non-stop for a week. He was so far beyond tired he’d forgotten how good it felt. In fact, they’d left exhausted behind a long time ago.

Daniel stumbled, and - not for the first time - the whip caught him sharply between the shoulder-blades as Jack reached over and yanked him back to his feet.

“Argh!” Daniel’s cry of pain was echoed by a grunt from Jack as the disturbance to their equilibrium caused the yoke to chafe his neck still further.

Both were dizzy and fighting nausea, their heads throbbing. They didn’t know how they kept putting one bare foot in front of the other. Their olive drab uniform pants were sticking to them with sweat. The only thing that kept them going was the hope that at any moment Teal’c and Carter would swoop in and rescue them. Surely they’d tracked them down by now?

Several times, they’d been sure they’d heard the hum of engines, and had strained against the dense wooden beam that lay across the back of their necks to look upwards in search of their liberators. Each time, they’d been disappointed to learn that the sound was just a swarm of the enormous bees this planet spawned. So far, they’d been fortunate to escape being stung.

The strain on their thighs and calves suggested that they were moving slightly uphill. Though it made each meter of progress harder to achieve, they were curiously grateful not to be going downhill. Both were acutely aware that with gravity in its favor, the slightest pause would have brought the full weight of the log rolling down to knock them both off their feet like nine-pins.

Ten minutes later it was Jack’s turn to falter, earning him a stripe across his back from the alien’s whip. He almost pulled Daniel down with him, but somehow they managed to regain their footing.

“You okay?” Daniel asked huskily, frowning with concern.

“Damn knee’s giving out on me,” confessed Jack through gritted teeth. He knew he couldn’t keep this up much longer, but no way was he going to let Daniel get beaten for his weakness. He’d keep moving if he had to crawl on his belly.

A warning snap of the whip got them moving again.

“Hey,” Jack gestured over his shoulder since he couldn’t turn to look behind, “Union says it’s time for a coffee break.”

Daniel would have drooled at the prospect if his mouth hadn’t been so dry. “No such luck, Jack. Come on, we gotta plough on.”

“So. Not. Funny.” Jack threw his words back at him.

“Too ‘corny’ for you, huh?” Daniel kicked at the sun-dried husks beneath his feet. Jack groaned. He might have slapped Daniel’s arm in chastisement, if he’d had the energy. Still, he had to admire the kid’s attempt to keep their spirits up.

More humming from behind. Getting louder. Getting closer. Much closer. Soon the sound was deafening. They were convinced they were going to get stung this time. They cringed and tried to duck down as low as they could, hoping against hope that the swarm would pass overhead and ignore them.

As the sound reached a crescendo, they found themselves bathed in a white light. The noise changed. Rings!

Next moment, they were aboard a Ha’tak. They collapsed with relief.

A door opened and Carter called, “Got them, Teal’c. Get us out of here.”

They flinched as she shot the lock off the yoke and helped them to get out of the heavy collars.

“What kept you?” Jack complained, fighting to stand up as Teal’c banked the glider to head for home.

“Lie still,” Carter advised, but Jack ignored her. Daniel too struggled to stand, accepting her steadying hand.

They staggered forward to join the pilot in the cockpit, Jack sinking into the co-pilot’s seat while Daniel held on to the back of it. They wanted to be sure they were leaving that hell-hole far behind.

“You gotta be kidding me!” Jack exclaimed as he looked out over the huge field they’d spent so many grueling hours in.

“No wonder they wanted mismatched pairings,” Daniel observed, shaking his weary head.

“That’s what they had you doing all this time?” Carter didn’t quite manage to stifle a giggle, despite the sympathy she felt for their condition.

Far below them, the other two pairs of slaves were still working on smaller versions of the pattern they had created. Together, it almost looked like a silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head.

“Crop circles?” Daniel pronounced incredulously. “They had us creating crop circles? Now I’ve seen everything!”
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

N is for Name

This scene is set shortly after the end of the episode Singularity in Season 1

SG-1 arrived at Janet Fraiser’s front door with Cassie, who was holding her new dog.

“What’s this then?” Janet queried, her puzzled frown soon belied by the upturned crinkle at the corners of her mouth.

“It’s the rules,” Cassie reiterated what she’d told Sam. It was strange that so many people here didn’t seem to know their own rules. “Every Earth kid has to have a dog. Jack told me.”

“Oh, well, if Colonel O’Neill said so, then I guess it must be true. You’d better bring him in.”

She stood aside and Cassie led the team into her temporary – or possibly permanent if Sam had guessed right – home.

At a gesture from Janet, the others moved to take seats in her comfortable living room, while Cassie sat on the floor playing with her new pet.

Janet pulled Jack aside. “I thought I was taking in one stray, not two,” she scolded good-naturedly.

“Hey, he’s not a stray,” Jack objected. “I picked him out from the pound myself this morning. He’s got all his certificates. He’s fit and healthy and ready to go.” Jack pulled several sheets of paper out of his waterproof jacket pocket and handed them to Janet.

“Does he have a name?” Janet wanted to know, scanning the vaccine records and the report of his neutering operation. The puppy had evidently had a slight adverse reaction to the anesthetic and been sick for a couple of days, but other than that he seemed okay.

“Ooh, good point!” Jack moved over beside Cassie and squatted down, grimacing at the creaking of his knees. “We gotta give this little feller a name.”

He addressed the whole group then, as if giving orders at a briefing session.

“It’s very important that we find the perfect name. Any ideas?”

“You sound like T S Eliot on the naming of cats,” Daniel observed with a grin.

“Oh believe me, naming dogs is way trickier,” Jack assured him, winking at Cassie and ruffling the pooch behind the ear.

“He was a gift from you, so I should call him Jack, shouldn’t I?” Cassie looked up at the Colonel for approval, and then looked back at the dog to see if it suited him.

The dog whined.

“Oh no, no, no,” Jack shook his head and his hands vigorously. “No you don’t. I’m not sharing my name with a dog, even a great little guy like this one.” He wasn’t sure whether he should be insulted or flattered, so he acted insulted, particularly by the dog’s reaction. Secretly, he was a bit flattered that he’d been Cassie’s first choice.

Sam, Daniel and Janet all laughed. Teal’c tilted his head thoughtfully.

“How about Pavlov?” Sam suggested, ever the scientist.

“Carter, you gotta be joking,” Jack told her firmly. “No way we’re gonna yell, ‘Here, Pavlov,
dinnertime Pavlov
,’ all up and down the street.”

“Jack has a point,” Janet smirked at how the colonel had made it clear he recognized Sam’s reference without boasting about it. The man had hidden depths.

“What breed is he?” Sam wanted to know.

“He’s a Shiba Inu, similar to a Finnish Spitz,” supplied Daniel, before Jack had a chance to reply.

“Now before you try and get clever, Daniel, no weird foreign-sounding names,” warned Jack. “We want him and Cassie to fit in round here, not raise suspicions.”

Daniel looked hurt. “I was just gonna suggest Finn, actually.”

The dog whined again.

“Nah, he doesn’t like that,” Jack declared dismissively. “Do you, boy?” he asked the dog, who tilted his head much as Teal’c had done, and panted contentedly in response to more ear rubbing.

“Perhaps he should be designated K-9 as in the creature from Dr. Who,” proposed Teal’c, who had studied popular Earth programs as part of his own induction. “Both accurate and a cultural reference to aid Cassandra with her cover story.”

“K-9 was a robot dog,” Jack objected, though the puppy had made no protest.

Janet looked round the group indulgently. They had all bonded with the young alien girl to some degree, but Jack... well, Jack had a special way with kids. He would provide a good male role model for Cassie as she grew up without a father. For now, it was obvious that Jack felt he had the biggest stake in this decision. “You asked for ideas, Jack, but you seem determined to veto everything offered. Why don’t you suggest a name? Though it should really be Cassie’s decision.”

“Yes, please, Jack,” Cassie bounced excitedly on her heels, making the dog bark. “You choose. I know nothing about suitable Earth names, and we didn’t keep pets back home on Hanka.”

The dog sat down and licked her hand.

Everyone stiffened and leant forwards slightly, opening their mouths to correct the girl on her slip.
She realized at once. “Sorry, I mean I never had a pet in Toronto. I promise I’ll remember.”

Jack looked from the dog to Cassie and back. Then he looked up at Janet.

“Okay, Janet, here’s my suggestion. We call the little guy Hanka. That way, if Cassie slips up and mentions her home planet, we got plausible denial that she was talking about the dog.”

The dog in question wagged his tail.

“There ya go; he seems to like it. Wadda you say, Cassie?”

“I like that.” Cassie threw her arms round the colonel. “Thank you, Jack. Here, Hanka!”

Hanka nuzzled in between them.

“Good boy!” Jack and Cassie said in unison.

Janet grabbed her camera from the coffee table where she’d placed it ready for Cassie’s homecoming and took the first of many ‘family photos’ for her mantelpiece.
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

W is for Wrestling

W is for Wrestling

From S5 ep 3 Ascension:
O’Neal and Teal’c visit Carter with pizza and a movie [Star Wars] but she sends them away because Orlin is inside.
O'NEILL
So, now what?
TEAL'C
I have read of a place where humans do battle in a ring of Jell-O.
O'NEILL
Call Daniel.
[They get in O'Neill's car.]

THIS IS THE CONTINUATION OF THAT SCENE (OUTTAKE) AS IT MIGHT HAVE GONE...

TEAL’C dials Daniel’s number and presses speakerphone

O’NEILL (on phone)
Hey, Daniel, watcha doin?

DANIEL (also on phone)
Trying to finish this translation. I thought you and Teal’c had gone to Sam’s for pizza. I assumed I’d get some peace and quiet.

O’NEILL
She blew us off. Gotta hot date or.... something.

DANIEL (tilts his head and frowns in puzzlement)
Really?

O’NEILL
So she said. Go figure. Whatever. Point is we’re at a loose end and Teal’c suggested wrestling.

DANIEL
Why would I want to wrestle Teal’c? Bad enough we have to spar in training. I’ve still got the bruises from last week.

O’NEILL
No, dummy. We go watch some wrestling.

DANIEL
No thanks Jack. I really need to get this translation done. Somehow watching a couple of testosterone driven muscle mountains beating the crap outa each other is a less than tempting alternative. Go knock yourselves out. Have fun, but don’t call with a blow-by-blow, ‘k? I need to concentrate here.

O’NEILL
Suit yourself, Danny boy. Only I don’t remember saying anything about male wrestling.
(He looks to Teal’c.) Did I mention male wrestling?

TEAL’C
Indeed you did not, O’Neill.

O’NEILL
See. Not male wrestling, Daniel. Female wrestling. Hot sexy bikini clad chicks wrestling in a huge ring full of Jell-O. Is that a tempting enough alternative for ya, bookworm?

DANIEL (struggles to put his coat on while still holding the phone to his ear)
I’m on my way. Save me some pizza. Oh, uh... Where do I meet you?
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

Meeting Dean Stockwell

This is an account of an event long past, but the link to the previous site where I posted it no longer works, and I wanted to preserve it for when my memory goes.

Meeting Dean Stockwell
May 1st 2005

It all started a few months ago, during a conversation on msn with Janine, whom I got to know through Al’s place (www.quantumleap-alsplace.com ) – the best Quantum Leap community online!
She told me she was going to meet Dean at a science fiction fair in London. I told her I was jealous, asked her for all the details after the event, and thought no more about it.
Then we were casually chatting again a while later, and she told me the venue and date had changed, and that Dean would be in Milton Keynes in May!
Now I turned really green with envy. Dean Stockwell - less than 25 miles from where I live.
So near and yet so far!
I never dreamed it would be possible for me to go. I know my husband thinks these things are a waste of time and money, and not worth pushing through crowds for.
Yet, wonderfully, incredibly, he said he didn’t mind if I went.
Oh joy, oh thrills, oh boy!
So there and then the excitement and the plans began. I was like a kid looking forward to Christmas.
I figured that Dean must get sick of signing endless photos of himself, especially since he was to be at the fair on all four days, so I set-to to finish a story I began over 10 years ago. (I could have just picked one of my completed Quantum Leap fanfic stories, but this one has a very Al-centered subplot). I don’t usually like writing to deadlines, but it seemed far enough in the future, and the story was already 2/3rds done. So I worked on it every evening. With three weeks to go, I just had the final touches to do, about half a page to tie it all up. No sweat. Plenty of time to finish up and edit it, and then get it printed out and bound with laminated covers.
Another temptation was thrust into my path about a week before, when I learned that two of the main actors from Stargate SG1 (another of my favorite series) had been forced to pull out, and that Dean would now take part in the Saturday afternoon talk they had been scheduled to give.
Could I push my luck and get to that too? I didn’t think so. My husband had no objection to my attending, provided I could arrange my own transport - since I don’t drive and normally rely on him to be my personal taxi. I oscillated between no hope and High Hopes (ironically the title of the story I was writing) as two or three friends told me they were going, and may possibly be able to get me a lift. I decided that a second trip would probably be beyond reasonable expectation. So I left it in the hands of fate, rather than setting my heart on it, even though there were a number of questions I would have loved the chance to put to him in the q and a session promised at the end of the talk.
As it turned out, it was indeed an impossible dream, an unreachable star, (pun intended!).
My primary plan went somewhat awry when major family problems and poor personal health put me about two weeks behind schedule. Yet somehow, burning the midnight oil and prevailing on my mother to act as proof reader, I got two copies ready in the nick of time. The reprographics department at the school where I work came up trumps with a quick laminate and bind session.
Phew.
Still, I was nervous.
In the past it seems that whenever I have looked forward to something this much, some fly in the ointment has come along to spoil it for me.

A quick chat with my old friend Emma and mobile numbers exchanged, we were going to meet up Sunday morning. She is an old hand at these events, (she should be, she has personally interviewed Scott Bakula himself on something like eight occasions!) whereas I am a complete novice. So she kindly offered to get my ticket for me when she arrived, since she would get there well before me.
The system is a very good one, called ‘Virtual queuing.’ You get a ticket with a number, much like the old meat queue in the supermarket, or when you go for a blood test at the hospital. They call the numbers in batches, and when your batch comes up, you join the queue for the star of your choice. It also means you can ‘simultaneously’ queue for more than one star at a time. That way, if the wait is a long one, you don’t spend hours in the line, but can look around while you wait. Less congestion, less frustration, and more chance for the stalls to make money!

Saturday night found me sleepless. How much was a result of childish eagerness, and how much the fault of the violent thunderstorms staging a noisy concert outside my window I can’t say for sure.
I got up early on Sunday morning, dressed in a new long black skirt and my “Admiral Al” T-shirt, and made breakfast in bed for the family.
A quick check – briefcase packed with printouts, camera checked with fresh new Duracell batteries installed, mobile phone fully charged, the money I’d been saving carefully put into a zip pocket. All ready to go, straight after Church, which is luckily in the right direction.
The traffic was not exactly light, but we made reasonable time, and there were plenty of parking spaces when we got there, much to my surprise. A call to Emma, and ten minutes later we met up outside ‘John Lewis’. The crowds were already building up, and I almost didn’t recognize Em – we haven’t met up in a couple of years, and she has lost weight, which unfortunately I can’t say for me!
Emma had got me ticket number 138, and Dean was already on number 50, so I shouldn’t have too long to wait. My family took off to look around the stalls, and Emma showed me where to get new Quantum Leap T-shirts on a ‘buy one get one free’ offer.
There was a lot to see, as usual, but hard to get near anything for all the people trying to get a bargain and meeting up with old friends who shared their passion for whichever program had brought them. I didn’t care. I wasn’t interested in the stalls this time. I just wanted to be sure I didn’t miss my turn.
So most of the waiting time was spent hovering on the sidelines. Emma met several friends from other conventions and we talked Quantum Leap, from previous meetings with Scott and Dean (which I had no experience of) to our hopes and fears regarding the rumored new movie and spin-off series.
The consensus seems to be that most fans want to see Scott make a guest appearance, and get Sam home, but that they realize new fans will want a younger cast, hence the suggestions that the proposed series will feature Sam’s daughter searching for him in time. One of Emma’s friends had the best take on this that I have heard to date.
“All I want is a good story getting Sam home, and then they can have their “Stallion’s Gate 90210” to keep the youth element happy.”
I dipped out of the conversations periodically to check the notice board for Dean’s ticket status. At about 11.10am, the batch was ‘up to 150’. My turn had come at last!
Once in the queue for real, you pay for your autograph and choose a photo from a choice of about 10 or a dozen. I paid £30 for two, since my best friend Sue was unable to get to the event herself.
Before I had a chance to gather my thoughts, I was there – at the front of the line.
The chap in front was getting an autograph for his sister, whose car had broken down on the way.
I got out my story, both copies, and scribbled hastily in one. With hindsight, I really should have done that at home first, since my hand was shaking so badly it came out very scruffy, but I wanted the impact to go with my comment:
“This is one of my QL fanfic stories. I’m signing a copy for you, would you please sign one for me?”
Yes, I know it is corny, but it made him smile as I hoped.
I passed him both copies. In mine I put “To Dean, whom I admire both as an actor and an individual” and then my signature.
He flicked through his copy, and I told him “I’ve printed it on recycled paper (unwanted printouts from work with one side still usable) because I know you are a keen conservationist.”
“How wonderful” Dean replied.
“Where would you like me to sign it?” he asked.
“Anywhere.” I stammered.
“I don’t think it will hold on this,” he commented, opening up the laminated front cover.
“No,” I agreed, “anywhere.” I repeated stupidly, as he hovered over the front page. The old dragon that rules the Independent Learning Centre at work with a rod of iron had gone to mush.
He then signed my copy and returned it to me, and I got a photo signed for Sue.
He thanked me for my story, which he patted and pushed only slightly to one side on the table. I told him something like it was an honor to meet him.
I had thought of so many things I wanted to say to him, and so many things I wanted to ask him, but I was so overwhelmed to actually be there, that I went to pieces.
I could feel the crowd fidgeting behind me, so I stuffed my prizes back in my briefcase and hastily drew out my camera, which I had used minutes before to take a picture of Emma.
I moved to one side to take my shot – disaster!
The camera was flashing ‘date and time’ and then fizzled.
Despite new batteries the night before, it had died on me.
Dean had paused to look at the lens before moving on to the next person, but I had to mutter a “Sorry, batteries gone,” and beat an embarrassed retreat.
The whole encounter probably took less than a minute.
Was I disappointed? A little - especially in my unreliable equipment.
Was it worth it?
You bet!

PS.
Janine also found a comment at the showmasters forum from one of the helpers who had been with Dean on the Sunday. She posted this observation:
"Lovely guy, was a pleasure to sit with him. Speshilly after seeing people's faces after they had met him...he's a very important guy to a lot of people, and he really appreciated everything. He was amazed at this fan fiction book thing that someone had written for him! It was huge!"

It made me feel really special to read that – my little story had made enough of an impression on Dean for the helper to notice. Maybe he even said something to her about it. I don’t suppose I shall ever know if he actually read the whole story, but at least he was pleased to receive it. All the hard work and rush was worth it, because it served its purpose – it stood out among the sea of photos.
stargate, lfcc, michael shanks

D is for Dentist

“Just relax, Dr. Jackson,” the dentist smiled as he put on his facemask.
If it was meant to be reassuring, it wasn’t working. Daniel thought the gleam in his eye was sinister. The song ‘Son, be a dentist’ from Little shop of Horrors wouldn’t stop going round his head.
“Now, you’ll just feel a little prick,” warned the dentist.
Oh boy, am I glad Jack isn’t here, Daniel thought, I know exactly what he’d say to that!
“Open wide,” instructed the dentist.
Hang on; my mouth isn’t numb yet! Daniel started to panic. He hated the dentist. Always had. Always would. Which was why he’d put up with this godawful toothache for nearly three weeks.
In the end, Jack had complained about how short-tempered he was, and Sam had said she was worried about him and threatened to set Dr. Fraiser on him, and Teal’c had... well, Teal’c had given him that look. So he’d been forced to make an appointment.
And so here he was - in the clutches of Dr. Frankenstein.
Okay, so the name on the door was Dr. Frank Steinman, but Daniel wasn’t fooled.
Get a grip, Jackson. It’s just the anesthetic playing tricks with your mind. Think of something else. Take your mind off what’s happening. Go to your happy place.
Daniel closed his eyes and started daydreaming about days spent with Sha’re exploring Abydos. Learning the ways of her people, studying in the room he’d shown Jack, learning all about the gate network. For a while it worked. His mind took him to pleasant memories of happier times.
Then the noise of the drill distracted him. It didn’t sound right. He thought he heard....
Opening his eyes in alarm he saw that instead of a dentist’s drill, the figure looming large and threatening over him was holding a small larval goa’uld. Daniel’s mouth was fixed wide open with wires and clamps. He couldn’t move his head. His hands, which had been tightly gripping the arms of the dentist’s chair, were now held immobile by bindings at his wrists.
Noooo. Don’t. Stop! Don’t put that thing in me!” Daniel tried to scream in protest, but all that came out was a gurgling, drooling, “Aaaghleeee”
“It’ll soon be over,” promised the glowing eyed dentist.
Daniel thought he was talking to the snake.
I wish Jack were here, thought Daniel desperately. He couldn’t see any way to help himself. The goa’uld larva was about to be shoved down his throat. He’d be taken as a host and then sent back to infiltrate the SGC. He couldn’t let it happen. But what could he do?
Help! Jack! Anybody! Help!
Daniel could feel the thing in his mouth now. He was gagging, choking. He struggled to free his arms, to fight back. He tried to clamp his teeth shut, to bite the foul creature in half, anything to prevent this nightmare from happening. If it killed him in the process, so be it. At least he wouldn’t betray his friends; his country; his world.
“That’s enough of that,” the dentist goa’uld snapped crossly. Daniel felt himself being put under.
Noooooo!”
Everything went black.
0o0
“Hey there!” Jack’s cheery voice drifted through the fog. “Welcome back, Danny boy.”
“Jack?” Daniel’s head felt thick and heavy. His mouth felt swollen. His throat was sore. “Wha-?”
Memory started creeping back.
“Where am I?”
“Infirmary, SGC.” Dr. Fraiser moved into his field of vision.
Jack explained, “You went berserk and bit the dentist. He had to sedate you.”
“Bit the—“ Daniel frowned. “No. Jack, you have to restrain me.” Daniel was looking around wildly, speaking really fast. “Get a couple of SF’s in here, quick. That dentist – he was a... a goa’uld. He put a larva in me. I’ve been taken as a host. I’m a threat to—“
“Calm down, Daniel,” Jack was trying hard not to laugh. “You were mumbling about being possessed. Janet’s done all the tests. You’re clean. It was just the drugs and your over-active imagination.”
“No goa’uld?” Daniel wanted to believe him, but didn’t dare. “You’re sure?”
“No goa’uld, Danny.” Jack patted him on the arm.
“Some hero you turned out to be,” Jack teased, “You’ve faced down some of the worst the universe has to offer, but you’re terrified of the dentist!” Now, Jack did laugh.
Daniel threw his pillow at him.

Author's note: This little ficlet was written in under an hour following a conversation on twitter. It is therefore a little rough round the edges, but as it was 'of the moment' I have resisted the urge to polish it and give it a more satisfying ending.