Chapter 1: No Cake for You
SG-2 has an offworld mission that reminds Ferretti of SG-1.
Lou Ferretti was liking SG-2's latest mission. The natives were friendly, the food was good, and the naquadah abandoned or forgotten by the Goa'uld a while ago, so the treaty would be pretty productive. It was when the chieftain's daughter approached with a special cake. Well that caused a tickle in the back of Lou's mind to stir. He remembered the first Abydos mission–how while Lou had been Jaffa punching bag back at the pyramid, Daniel ended up accidentally married in the settlement. He remembered the recent report of SG-1 on Argos when Jack O'Neill ended up eating a special cake, and ended up with the weirdest alien STD you ever heard of. So Lou politely refused the pretty girl--no sense making a scene. He just mentioned he was allergic and stuck with the fruit the rest of his team was enjoying. He also made a note to stop sending "over the hill" gag gifts to the colonel right away.
Chapter 2: To the Victor Go the Spoils
Teal'c takes a break from the time loop of "Window of Opportunity".
Teal'c was feeling quite frustrated after having the door forced into him...how many days? Teal'c had lost track of the number of loops by this point, which was disconcerting. He took great pride in keeping track of such things. Perhaps he should follow O'Neill's lead and take a loop or two off from assisting Daniel Jackson.
He went to his room to kel'no'reem. It was the first he had visited there since he woke up--before the temporal anomaly had started. As soon as he arrived, he regretted it. They had been doing some retrofits in this area of the base for two weeks, and Teal'c had often had his meditation interrupted as the maintenance staff worked in the adjoining corridor. He had borne the disruption–not counting the endless today--with increasing impatience. How could he have forgotten this racket?
When Teal'c questioned the extent of project, Sergeant Siler apologized for the time it was taking, but even the efficient SGC head of maintenance could not be everywhere at once. The job should've been simple and completed a week ago. Teal'c suspected it was due to the lack of maturity of the young airman assigned to the duty, who spent as much time joking around as they did their jobs. Jaffa had been killed for less dereliction, but Teal'c had observed Air Force regulations were somewhat more lenient. He had heard joking references to something called "K.P. Duty". Even so, Teal'c did not report the wayward airmen to Sergeant Siler–-perhaps it was due to Siler's harried look as he tried to direct three different high priority projects requested by General Hammond at the same time. Teal'c had merely nodded and taken his leave yesterday...however many days ago yesterday now was.
However, today of the many todays, he was here and needing and wanting rest. Who knew when tomorrow would come? Teal'c decided to take matters into his own hands. Perhaps he was going the "wacko" O'Neill feared, but enough was enough. He grabbed the welding torch out of one airman's hand and the clanging wrench out of the other's. He used the torch to melt the wrench, then dropped them all in the water bucket before glaring at them. The airmen quailed under his gaze.
"You will cease such frivolity and find other duties. I suggest you do so with alacrity."
One airman blinked, the other airman gulped, and both took off, leaving the steaming bucket behind them. Teal'c sighed and moved them out of the way of passers-by before going into his room and resting for several hours.
After rejuvenating from a few hours of kel'no'reem, he went to the commissary and grabbed the sole piece of chocolate cake still in the window. He decided to savor every bite. The loop would recur in twenty minutes time.
Several minutes later, O'Neill sat across from him. "Here you are. Do you realize you left me to explain the whole 'loopy thing' to everyone? Fraiser's looking for you, by the way."
"She may take my temperature the next cycle," Teal'c responded placidly.
"Maybe you can also explain why two airmen are refusing to leave MALP storage? Or this?" O'Neill held up a sodden, molded piece of metal. Apparently the torch and soldered wrench had welded together.
Teal'c merely raised an eyebrow.
"Right, okay." O'Neill seemed to understand when to leave well enough alone. "So, next loop: you and me ambushing Daniel and conjugating Latin again?"
Teal'c nodded as he took another bite of cake. O'Neill's fork reached over the plate, but quickly retracted before Teal'c's own utensil stabbed downward. The colonel's reflexes were still sharp, but Teal'c had not planned on stabbing his friend...so long as he had moved his hand from near Teal'c's plate.
"There is more cake in the cooler, O'Neill."
"Yeah, but it's just lemon. That's the last chocolate." O'Neill scowled.
"Perhaps next time, O'Neill." He smiled as the loop restarted again.
Chapter 3: Poundcake
Major Griff takes a page from the Jack O'Neill playbook on a mission gone wrong.
Major Griff scowled as the Jaffa had them all lined up and on their knees. He hated breaking in the new recruits. They always spent more time stargazing than watching out for danger. Yeah, he had to admit, seeing gas giants in the sky could be pretty cool, but not when Jaffa could be on your six. As was the case this time.
The Jaffa were looking at Henderson with more than a passing interest. The kid had frozen up when the blasts started flying, but when Boscov went down with a zat shot the kid had come up swinging. He had a lot of heart, that one. And if anyone was going to start yelling at the kid, it would be his superior officer, not these wannabe kangaroo goons.
He remembered the last time he was captured by Goa'uld. His team was paired with SG-1 that mission. All of them going without food and water. O'Neill had raised holy-hell, and suffered the marks with one of those damned pain sticks to prove it. Jackson had gotten banged up as well. The pair of them had been the ones to mouth off the most to the Goa'uld. Maybe there was something to that.
So Griff started cursing up a storm. "Hey, you! Kangaroo boy! I want to complain about the view." He continued in the same vein–insulting their mothers, spouting gibberish that hardly made sense to him. It didn't matter, the tone was all that was important. The Jaffa stopped staring at his team and focused on him. That was fine with Griff, especially when Reynolds's team burst through ten minutes later and got them all out before the kicking had gotten too intense.
After they'd all gotten back to base and been given the all-clear by the medical team, Griff stared at his team–with the two no-longer-rookies who'd gotten through their first Goa'uld encounter relatively unscathed.
He remembered another thing from that last SNAFUd mission with SG-1, after all of them had been rescued by SG-3 and 7 and were technically still in quarantine. O'Neill–or maybe it had been Hammond, but Griff had his suspicions---had ordered a feast of carryouts from what seemed like every place in town, complete with a large sheet cake blazoned with "Congratulations on making it through maneuvers" blazoned on it. Everyone laughed at the standard cover story written on dessert. And it gave Griff an idea. He made a couple phone calls.
He corralled all his team, and Reynolds's too, to the rec room and brought in the big sheet cake he'd ordered from that good bakery in town. A nondescript "welcome to the team" was written on the surface, with someone having used their fingers to swirl the frosting with the SG team numbers. How did...Reynolds still had frosting on his fingernail.
"Sir?" Henderson was looking wide-eyed from the cake to Griff, as if the major had grown two heads. Maybe he had come down on the kid a bit hard earlier on. Griff turned to Reynolds.
Reynolds grinned back at him. "Let's just say it's tradition, Henderson."
Chapter 4: Cake and Sympathy
Jonas tries to adjust to life on Earth (set pre-Descent).
Jonas couldn't understand the nature of griping. Well, it wasn't an "alien" concept to him. There were plenty of complainers on Kelowna. He had just always found so much to be enthusiastic with his work...so much knowledge to ascertain, it had always seemed like a waste of time and energy. Even when he discovered the avarice in his ruling council when they learned the weapon potential of naquadria, he had felt more disappointment than sullenness.
And now that he was here on Earth, he could not see what anyone would have to complain about, at least in day-to-day life. Granted, he hadn't really been allowed outside the base, but there was so much to see here. He'd only been able to read a third of the base library so far. And the logs he'd been allowed to read of Doctor Jackson's notes were filled with so many references to Earth culture, it was an amazing scavenger hunt to try and understand the contextual shorthand Doctor Jackson had used. Besides, he had access to a computer, where everything was available at the touch of a button! Well, everything he was allowed access to in any case–but that was quite a lot. Even the television--Major Carter had explained the broadcasts were available to the general public. Even the one that would predict the future atmospheric conditions so anyone could make appropriate plans!
No, Jonas did not understand why people would tend to be grouchy in a world like this. He had observed, however, that it seemed therapeutic for some people. Colonel O'Neill in particular would gripe about the most mundane things. In dire situations, such as when Anubis sent that strange weapon through the Stargate, O'Neill got more calm. Jonas assumed that grace under pressure was why he was so respected by so many here at Stargate Command. But the staff seemed to genuinely like the colonel in day to day interactions–different from the derision Kelownan grumblers received from their subordinates.
So perhaps it was a quirk of Earth culture–a trait that would help him fit into this new home. He decided to give it a try. He scowled at the fish in his office, but they continued their circular path. When he cut his finger turning a page of a reference book, he let out a curse he'd heard Sergeant Siler use once. That didn't make the pain go away. Perhaps it would work better in more social situations. He decided to walk to the commissary, forgetting by the time he stepped into the elevator he was trying not to smile at everyone he met.
Of course when he got there, he was once again overwhelmed by the cornucopia of selections. Fruit and vegetables and meats and starches. A variety of hot and cold beverages with a multitude of flavorings. Jonas piled his plate with some macaroni and cheese, a small salad, some tea, and a large slice of cake that had an icon of an orange vegetable painted in frosting on the top.
It was only after he devoured his meal and was about to start eating his cake that he remembered his goal to become more surly. Many personnel complained about the taste of food in the cafeteria. Granted, Jonas had yet to try much cuisine from Earth, but he found the tastes much more pleasurable than anything on Kelowna–except perhaps the Tahki fruit. He still missed that. But war rationing had given everything a bland taste on that world. Everything here tasted like...what was the legend he had been reading? Oh yes. Ambrosia. Everything tasted like ambrosia.
Still, he tried to scowl as he stabbed at his cake.
"Jonas, what are you doing?"
He looked up to see Major Carter and Teal'c looking down at him. He smiled and moved his tray so they could join him. "I didn't expect to see you now. Is Colonel O'Neill coming too?"
"O'Neill is in a meeting with General Hammond," Teal'c intoned while delicately eating grapes.
Major Carter was looking at him with a worried expression. "Is everything all right? You were staring at that cake like it had attacked you."
"Oh." Jonas frowned now in puzzlement. Maybe he had been trying too hard. "Well, I was trying to fit in better to the environment. And I noticed...er, some people...related to others socially by complaining about things. So, I thought..."
Teal'c merely raised an eyebrow. To his surprise, Major Carter laughed. "Well, griping is a military past-time. But it just kinda happens."
"Oh." Jonas frown was more natural this time.
Major Carter's expression became more sympathetic.
"Have you been made to feel unwelcome, Jonas Quinn?" Teal'c asked.
"No. I mean, everyone's been real nice to me, especially considering..." His voice trailed off. He knew his arrival and Doctor Jackson's death were still sensitive subjects, especially around Daniel's former teammates. "I...I just want to fit in. And seeing some popular people, like Colonel O'Neill..."
"So you thought copying him would help you fit in better?"
Jonas shrugged and began playing with the frosting stuck on his cake plate, looking down.
"Colonel O'Neill doesn't complain all the time, Jonas."
Teal'c made a strange sound and he noticed Major Carter stifling a smile. When she saw him looking at him, her expression turned serious. "Stop trying so hard. Just be yourself, Jonas. That's all we expect. That...and time."
"Really?" Jonas brightened.
"Really," she smiled back at him.
"But perhaps you should consider less sugar intake." Teal'c continued to look at him with that enigmatic expression.
"Oh." Jonas didn't feign his frown this time. "But it tastes so good."
Major Carter was watching her teammate shrewdly. "Don't pay any attention. Teal'c's a real jokester, you know."
"Oh," Jonas studied the two individuals across from him. He prided himself on his observation skills, but SG-1 still surprised him.
Chapter 5: Let Them Eat Cake
Daniel is still learning who he is as a member of the team while engaging in delicate offworld negotiations.
Daniel stared at the magistrate from across the table. "You can't be serious."
"Very much so."
"We don't wish to ignore your cultural traditions, but surely you can understand that the time involved to do as you request as well as..."
The minister was leaning forward. "Surely you can understand my position, Scholar Jackson.
If you could only be more flexible..."
The magistrate bristled, folding his hands in front of him and glaring across the table. "So you think we are an intolerant people?"
"No! But the conditions you're imposing are...well, ridiculous!" Daniel didn't mean for the pique to come out, but his frustration was evident. He so wasn't ready for this kind of mission. But they figured, relatively modern culture, friendly people. Should be easy for SG-1 with Daniel getting his "gate legs" back. If they only knew.
"Daniel..." Jack poked him in the elbow. He couldn't understand the words, but he could definitely make out the tone. Daniel noticed all his teammates reaching unobtrusively for their weapons. He signalled them to hold off, trying not to let his diplomatic smile waver when he saw the magistrate notice all their actions.
Jack poked again, insistent. "What's the problem?"
"It's nothing, Jack. Just bureaucratic nonsense. I'll explain later."
Out of the corner of his eye, Daniel caught the predatory smile Jack flashed the magistrate before glowering at Daniel. "Explain now. Lots of paperwork bureaucracy? Or 'I'm sorry but I'm going to have to imprison you now' bureaucracy? Or there's always–"
"Jack!" Daniel took a calming breath. The stress of speaking this alien variation of a differently evolved form of French and diplomatic double speak was starting to wear on him, and Jack's understandable but annoying questions were pushing him to the brink. He wasn't ready for this.
He smiled and bowed his head to the minister. "My apologies for my outburst. If you will allow me to confer with my colleagues, Magistrate. I wish to update them on...our progress."
The magistrate studied Daniel and looked to the rest of SG-1 before slowly nodding.
Daniel turned to his friends. "I'm sorry I made you worry. It's just diplomacy dancing. There's no danger."
"Really?" Daniel could see Jack was skeptical.
"Jack, they're not stupid. We've arrived armed. I'm having a hard time convincing them our peaceful explorer routine is truthful and not just advanced recon scouts to invasion."
"Well, I told the general we should've gone with fruitbaskets, but he's just so stubborn about these things."
Daniel only glared.
Jack shrugged. "I thought you said these guys were French. Isn't that supposed to be the language of diplomacy? Can't you just flower them with some 'sea-view play' and get things moving?"
Daniel squeezed the bridge of his nose, trying to stem the headache that was forming at Jack's purposefully mangled French. "I said the root of their language is similar to Old French. But it's evolved much differently. Frankly my knowledge of the Ancient language is helping more than anything else."
He wouldn't admit how nonplussed he was that the Ancient tongue came so easily to him now–easier than before he...died. He could almost say that without hesitation now–which was disturbing in and of itself. It was still extremely frustrating that his linguistic skills were better than ever, yet he was still hazy about his memories of his friends. This was their first mission as the reconstituted SG-1...well, perhaps the Vis Uban mission should count, but that was more "all hands on deck", and besides, he had Jonas to lean on that time. Here he felt all the pressure of not only being translator, but representative of a world he was only starting to feel reconnected with. He suspected that unconscious hesitation was causing the foreign minister to balk as much all of their military appearance when they arrived through the Gothans' Portal of Light.
"So are they related to the Ancients?" asked Jack.
Sam looked intrigued. "We did get this address from the Repository of Knowledge, not the Abydos Cartouche."
Daniel shook his head. "No...at least, I don't think so. From what I can tell, they just adopted the older traditions from the world after Goa'uld abandoned them. But it's hard to gauge. The guy is not very forthcoming, so it's hard to get a bead on him. I'm lucky I picked up on their value of knowledge to get us this far. It's why I'm emphasizing Sam's and my degrees. It's given our group some status."
"A cautious people...one aware of the dangers of conquest." Teal'c was studying the magistrate with interest, and a grudging respect. Daniel hoped the magistrate didn't take offense. Even Teal'c's blandest looks could be intimidating. "Would our attempts to speak the Ancient tongue help or hinder your progress?"
"No, and I mean, you guys don't even know..." Daniel blinked. He vaguely recalled a day where Jack and Teal'c bombarded him with Ancient translations. "Do you still remember that?"
"Only a few of the conjugations, Daniel Jackson. But I still recognize some words from the history written on the plinths." Teal'c shook his head. "I cannot think of any that would be helpful in this situation."
Jack shrugged. "We mostly just tried to remember the English version. It was 800 pages, and time was...well, time was ticking!" He grumbled to himself. "Over and over and over."
"That's okay. Pronunciation of Gothan is pretty different anyhow." Daniel sighed. He'd already tap-danced around half-a-dozen inadvertent insults due to the pronunciation distinctions.
Sam spoke up. "Is there anything we can do to show our good intentions?"
"Short of giving up our weapons." Jack interjected. "We have our own protocols of course."
"He understands that, and accepts it, even if he's not happy about it. What else we can do is what I keep trying to get out of him. But apparently there's procedures in place, and he seems unwilling to make any concessions or workaround. Anything I'm suggesting as trade doesn't seem to interest him. Plus the language barrier..."
"Oh. I get it. He's yanking our chain with red tape." Jack smiled and nodded over to the man at the other table, but Daniel could was certain the magistrate could read the insincerity behind it.
"Jack, don't antagonize him."
"What?" Jack raised his eyebrows innocently and shrugged. "I was smiling. Being friendly."
"You're intimidating him, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid."
"Oh, I dunno, Daniel. He seems like he can hold his own. Maybe thinks we need him more than he needs us? The bureaucratic way after all."
"Sir, from what I can tell, they've been able to harness solar energy very efficiently." Sam interjected. "Their breakthroughs could be quite helpful and make them a good trading partner."
"And anything I've offered in terms of medical advancement or knowledge doesn't seem to phase him a bit. He has a good poker face, but I don't think our level of technology is a shock to him. Their society is almost on par with ours. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if we could come up with equitable trades, once we get past this impasse." Daniel grabbed Jack's arm--not pulling--but enough of a tug for Jack to break his eye contact with the alien and turn back to Daniel.
"Jack, please, you're not helping. I know what's at stake here." An interplanetary alliance. My place on the team. "Please stop making my job harder."
"Is that what you think I'm doing?"
"I don't think you're trying to do it." Daniel tried to maintain his diplomatic edge, but it was shattering. "But I think that is what's happening."
"I just don't like getting the run around."
"Neither do I, but Sam's right, the benefits could be worth it. We've got to tread delicately and aggressive posturing is not helping."
"I can be delicate."
"As a bull in a china shop, I know." The frustration he couldn't fully expose to the magistrate was getting fully blown onto Jack now.
"Hey, a little sensitivity here." Jack's expression showed no anger at the insult, and Daniel felt a knot inside lessen. This dialogue, felt familiar–almost natural.
He smiled wanly. "Can we just do this my way? Trust me?"
Jack gave him a steady look before nodding slowly, purposefully leaning back in his chair in a casual appearance. "Of course, Daniel."
"Scholar Jackson." the magistrate spoke.
"Batter up, Daniel."
Daniel shot Jack one final warning glare before turning back to the minister, who still bore an inscrutable expression. "Yes, magistrate."
"You have said your team is part military, correct?"
"Yes. I am a scientist that works for them, but not a soldier. Teal'c is not in Earth's military either."
"But he is a warrior."
"He is." Daniel was cautious in his response. How many times would they go over the same ground? He was careful to use the titles and descriptions the magistrate took so seriously. "I have explained. He was a soldier with our enemy. He travels with us now to help people."
"Scholar Carter is in the military. You first gave her title with a military rank before your... The magistrate's voice hesitated at the unfamiliar expression. "'Doctor' appellation."
"That's correct. She is both a scholar and a soldier. A scientist. In a different field from mine, but as I said, a scholar just as I am."
"Why are you with them?"
Daniel blinked. The question caught him off-guard. "Because we are a team. A unit. We work together."
"But military work in hierarchy. You and Jaffa-citoyen Teal'c are civilian..."
"We are a team." Daniel didn't want to go into the SG-1's group dynamics with a stranger. He wasn't even sure if he could articulate them for himself right now. Where did he fit on this team of not quite strangers?
"You are not."
"I...wha...with all due respect, magistrate. We are." If the magistrate was about to suggest they split up, Daniel was going to stop these negotiations, interesting tech or no.
"You told me earlier your surname was coincidental to Colonel O'Neill's."
Oh good grief. They were back to that again? Daniel thought he'd taken care of that misunderstanding. "Yes. Jack has been a common name for generations for many families. Someone in my ancestry was named Jack. Colonel O'Neill's family used the name and we both lived our lives many...er, annals before meeting." He automatically waved a hand back to forestall the expected action from Jack at hearing his name mentioned so often. The magistrate noticed and this time, to Daniel's surprise, he smiled.
"So your relation is not one of blood."
"Not in that sense." Daniel nodded warily.
"But you are family."
"I...we're a team." Daniel wasn't sure how to respond otherwise. He didn't want to have everyone married to each other...although if he recalled, there was one time on P5X-112..
The magistrate shook his head and laughed. "You use that term as barest work colleagues, as those who pass in shifts at our plants. I have observed you, earlier and just now. I need not understand your tongue to understand your language. You are bonded with each other."
"They are my friends."
"Hmph." The magistrate chuckled and shrugged. "With my closest friends I do not bicker as I do with my brother Cartus. I recognize the dynamic when you argued with your colonel. And he did so with no animosity. It is clear from how he sits even now, He wishes to rise to your defense, but follows your entreaty to remain calm." He nodded to Daniel's still outstretched palm, still half reaching towards Jack. "As is the same with Scholar Carter and Jaffa-citoyen Teal'c."
Daniel moved his hand back, slowly as not to cause concern for his friends but careful in what conclusions the magistrate was drawing. "We watch out for each other."
"You carry not the weapons of your colleagues, but you too are armed."
"So you are a warrior too."
Daniel was on firmer ground in this dance. "Not by choice. None of us fights as our first choice, magistrate. We are explorers. But as I explained, there are dangers when exploring. If they are threatened, I will protect them." This time he, not Jack, was the one to glare at the magistrate. If this was leading to threats after all...
"You would fight with them...for them."
"I would die for them." Have died for them.
"Just so." The magistrate smiled and clapped his hands. While SG-1 jumped, startled, all half reaching for their sidearms as they stood, servants came out from curtains with carts filled with various delicacies. Daniel turned back to the magistrate.
"As you said, Scholar Jackson, time is a difficult factor for those who have travelled such distance to meet with us. And yet, as strangers with weapons, how can we know to trust your motives? I had my impression, and you have borne them out, to what I hope is our mutual benefit. I just needed to get...your measure."
"So arguing with my team is what made you decide to trust us?"
The magistrate shrugged. "It gave insight into your true intentions, and methodology. This is only a first step of negotiations, mind you. I concede nothing but the right to talk further. In the meantime, please share in our breadbreaking. It is a good honor. something we share with close allies...close 'friends'."
His variation on the amicus root made Daniel realize how valued they took the variations of relationship–as much as their formal titling. It was like Aristotle in its way, but Daniel didn't dwell on philosophy as much as how it related to what the magistrate had seen in SG-1's interactions. He had seen the family unit Daniel had been too afraid to embrace. If it was that obvious to a stranger, maybe Daniel's doubts were misplaced. Funny how arguing with Jack had been what revealed it.
"Okay, Daniel...what's going on?" Jack almost had to shout over the musicians instruments starting to play in the background.
"They like us."
"I noticed. You said the magic words in your negotiations?"
Daniel smiled. "Let's just say I took a page from the Jack O'Neill school of diplomacy." He held the magistrate's special sweet. "Cake?"
Chapter 6: Whipped Dream
Power Overload on Level 19!
"Oh...crap." That was the first thing he thought when he saw the sparks. What would Colonel O'Neill do in this situation? Well, actually he'd probably get the hell out like any reasonable person, but then Colonel O'Neill wouldn't have created this mess. He studied the readouts and realized what the problem was. He started frantically typing coding into the computer.
"We've got to circumvent the power overload!" Bill cried.
"I know!" He shouted to his colleague, then grumbled to himself. "I can see that myself from the printout, thankyouverymuch."
Hmm, maybe he was channeling Colonel O'Neill after all.
"I've got the stabilizers running but–"
Bill's voice faded into the distance as he finally put the finishing touches on his own coding and realized it wasn't enough. He muttered, "Why can't anything go right for me the first time..."
Wait. He figured out what he could do. It was such a simple solution. He rushed to the generator and pulled off the connections, ignoring the small arc that made his hand thrum with current as he watched the device power down.
"You did it. Great job."
He smiled just in time to see the doors open and SG-1 enter, ready to assist. "It's okay, Colonel! I've taken care of it now."
O'Neill raised his eyebrows. "Did you now? Good to hear."
Major Carter was studying the device in earnest. Her eye were wide as she turned to him. "Do you realize what would've happened if you hadn't taken action?"
He nodded soberly. "Yes. Yes, I do. We were all very lucky."
""No, it wasn't luck. It was you. You saved us all!" Dr. Jackson's eyes shone with gratitude and admiration as he held up an index finger and then raced from the lab without another word.
"We owe you our lives." Teal'c bowed deeply,
He returned the bow straightening as he spotted Doctor Jackson re-entering the lab at full speed. The archeologist was carrying an ornate carving in his arms.
"Here. The tribe of M5Y-493 gave this to SG-1 in gratitude for killing a system lord, but I think it's more appropriate that you should have it."
He took the bulky object from Doctor Jackson's outstretched hands and cradled it in his arm. "Why...th-thank you. I'm honored but..."
"No, thank you," Doctor Jackson insisted. "And call me Daniel."
"I'd say this calls for a celebration." Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c presented him with a large cake as the rest of the lab technicians applauded.
"It was a team effort, really," he protested with humility.
"No, you deserve the honor." Major Carter laid a hand on the arm still thrumming with an odd numbness and leaned towards him, ruby lips puckering, and he--
A sharp flick on his cheek and a shouted "JAY!" rocked him on his heels. He blinked and looked at Bill Lee and Simon Coombs staring at him. Coombs looked ready to twhap him again with the wooden stick. The room was darkened and the shield door closed; they must've instituted a power lockdown for the lab.
"Jay? Doctor Felger?" Bill looked concerned. "You all right? You took a pretty big jolt."
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, I'm fine."
Bill shook his head dubiously as he used some insulated gloves to move the cables. "I told you the stabilizers would settle it in just a few minutes, but, well...I guess your way worked, kind of. I think you should go to the infirmary."
Simon nodded. "I agree...and why the heck are you holding the coffee maker?"
"Um...never mind." Jay cleared his throat and set the appliance back on the counter. "I think I will take a break now. Anyone for getting some cake?"
Chapter 7: Triple Layer Bittersweet Chocolate
Sam doubts her ability to be in charge of SG-1.
Sam tore quickly through the commissary, avoiding eye contact from anyone inside as she snatched a sandwich, a slice of cake, and a can of diet soda before heading back to her office. Luckily, she hadn't spotted either of her teammates. She didn't know what she could say to them if she did. She couldn't believe how wrong that mission had gone.
How had Colonel O'Neill handled command like this all the time? The team that she'd been a part of for years suddenly seemed like strangers now that she was in charge of it. And worst of all, she was certain it was her fault.
She knew that she'd be able to figure out the device if she'd just been given enough time. Daniel argued about the translation he was reading on the walls in that stubborn way he had that could make you want to contradict on principle alone. And Teal'c was...well Teal'c was giving her that look that made her know he was doubting her. They'd all acted as they'd always done...comfortably settling into their gears. In days past, the colonel–she should start thinking of him as the general now–he would factor in all their warring directions and handle the clutch. But without him, the clutch popped, and the engine stalled. She'd just ended up using her arguments to trump theirs.
It didn't help that she had been right, she had figured out the device. Because Daniel had also been right–the machine had been booby-trapped. If Teal'c hadn't pulled her away... Because of course, despite his following the letter of her order, he'd showed enough caution to interpret them in his own way. That action is what saved her life.
On the black and white reports, it would look like SG-1 had another successful mission, returning with an alien device and all members of the team with all their appendages, but Sam knew the difference. She was still thinking like the scientist of the team, not the leader. She didn't mind risking herself, but she was responsible for her team in a way she never fully comprehended until now. How had the general handled the burden? How could Daniel or Teal'c ever trust her? Would the next advanced gadget make her ignore her friends' safety? She no longer had the luxury of letting someone else make those ultimate decisions.
She tossed away the sandwich unopened and played with the frosting on the cake. A sudden noise made her jump. Two silhouettes darkened the doorway. Even though she'd left the lights off for privacy, they knew she was here.
One of them flipped on the light as they entered. Daniel stood there holding a large dish of blue Jell-o. Teal'c was next to him with his own dish, the contents she couldn't make out at this distance.
"Thought we'd bring peace offerings," Daniel said lightly. His eyes held other messages. I'm glad you're all right. I'm sorry. Are we okay?
"Shouldn't I be the one doing that?" She couldn't help the reproachful edge in her own voice as she left her other thoughts be unspoken. I'm sorry. I should've listened. I'm worried about you guys. I think it was all my fault.
"You should not, Colonel Carter.' Teal'c said. He presented his own dish, ice cream, which she remembered was one of his favorite desserts. He glared at the dish for a moment as if it had betrayed him in some manner. "I have recently been informed this is frozen bovine lactose. Nevertheless, I continue to recommend it."
He stared at her a moment, his mouth twitching in a smile but looking between her and Daniel as if they should share some unknown joke.
Sam was uncertain what he found amusing, but her dark mood held no humor. "You saved me."
"As you have me many times, Colonel Carter."
"Countless times," Daniel echoed with a meaningful look. Let it go.
Teal'c opened his mouth again, and Sam was certain she was about to give statistics of exactly how often. She belayed the count. "No, you guys were right. I needed to be more cautious."
"And we needed the technology." Daniel shrugged. "It was a tough call."
"And one I've got to learn to make better. I'm not..." not Colonel O'Neill. She felt like she'd confessed even if the words didn't fully pass her lips. Surely they must miss him as much as she. Surely they noticed her feet didn't fill those combat boots. How could they not?
"We all miss O'Neill." Teal'c, as always was the one to confront the elephant in the room aloud. "But you are not O'Neill, you are yourself. We expect no more or less of you."
"Yeah, besides you're a lot prettier than Jack."
Sam blinked and stared at the too innocent look on Daniel's face. She glowered at him, not ready to dismiss her guilt. "So the next time I make a stupid command decision...?"
Daniel and Teal'c shared a look before turning back to her. "We'll give you our advice as trusted friends and experienced colleagues."
"And if I don't listen next time?"
Daniel smiled. "Well, you don't think we'll be easier on you than we were on Jack?"
"I was hoping," Sam quipped as she knew she was expected to, but her heart still wasn't in it.
She gave up, deciding to change to another tactic. "How am I supposed to eat two...three desserts?"
Teal'c tilted his head. "I have heard it said there is always room for Jell-o."
She looked at them, surrounding her with understanding and friendship–no recrimination in their expressions. Not the admonishment she deserved.
"So...what's our course of action, fearless leader?" Daniel quirked an eyebrow. His mouth was turned in a teasing smile from the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" reference, but his eyes glinted steel--as if daring her to continue wallowing in this self-pity at her own peril.
She turned to Teal'c who was keeping his expression very stoic–Sam knew that expression. It was when he could be at his most dangerous. They weren't going to let her stay in her fugue. Fine. Boris and Natasha wanted orders, she'd give some.
"I think as leader of SG-1, it is my duty to ensure my teammates are adequately sustained. Orders are to dig in." She pushed forward her own plate of cake towards Teal'c while using the fork to scoop up some Jell-o from Daniel's dish. Daniel in turn grabbed a spoonful of ice cream.
Maybe the new rendition of SG-1 was more roadworthy than she thought.
Chapter 8: Let the Crumbs Fall Where They May
Landry is having a no-good terrible SGC day.
"Well, Doctor, do you have any idea when the device will stop smoking?!" Hank gripped the phone tightly as he listened to the scientist spout off more technobabble.
He let the man go for fifteen seconds before cutting him off. "Then I suggest you enact further protocols. I want controls of the damn labs back!"
He slammed down the phone and took a deep breath. Somehow yelling at his staff wasn't quite as cathartic when so many of them were civilian scientists. He didn't like yelling for the power trip–he did it because he was a firm believer in the discipline and education it instilled. It was how he'd been molded into the officer he now was.
But somehow his training and experiences hadn't prepared him for running a facility in the basement of a missile silo with a bunch of scientists, engineers, and translators as they dealt with stuff from other planets. And this didn't even count dealing with his estranged daughter as his Chief Medical Officer. And it wasn't even ten hundred hours yet.
He spotted the Security Forces sergeant heading through the briefing room to his office. The man had barely opened the door before Hank spoke up.
"What did she do now?"
"Sir?" The marine blinked, his mouth doing an excellent guppy imitation.
"Vala Mal Doran. What did she do now?"
"Sir, it's not so much what she did as much as what she didn't..."
Hank raises his hand. "You know what...spare me the details for now. Is it life threatening?"
"Is anyone in the infirmary?"
"Is it damaging government property?"
The marine paused a moment. Hank didn't like the way he had to think about that answer. Even though she had proved helpful in intelligence reports, the woman who'd shanghaied Doctor Jackson into a treasure hunt last month was still able to make trouble.
"Just...make sure Doctor Jackson...and Colonel Mitchell are aware of it, and I'll get the reports later," he huffed and waved the sergeant away. When the man didn't move for an instant, Hank said, more gruffly perhaps than intended, "Dismissed."
"Yes, sir." The marine gave a sharp salute just the klaxons blared for an unscheduled offworld activation. Hank ended up following the man out of his office and down the stairwell to the control room.
"What is it?" he asked the female technician at the controls.
Hank sighed and ordered her to open the iris–she was already moving to the control anyway–and went down to meet the team and Teal'c coming down the ramp. "How goes it with our allies of the Free Jaffa Nation?"
"Not well, General Hammond," Teal'c stated with a formal nod.
"They've politely kicked us out of Dakara, sir," the team leader said. "Teal'c was allowed to escort us back."
"I see." Hank looked at Teal'c.
"To ensure our alliance would not be completely broken." Hank hadn't realized sarcasm could be stated that drily.
"Teal'c told 'em off so loud we could hear it from outside the council chambers," one of the junior members of the team stated. The man flushed as everyone looked at him. Perhaps he should rethink the lieutenant's assignment to the "diplomatic" team.
"Did you have something more to add, Lieutenant?"
"Sir, no, sir."
Teal'c continued, answering the unstated question "Master Bra'tac and Rak'nor will monitor the council's progress."
"I see. Well, report to..." He almost slipped from his professional demeanor and called her Carolyn. Clearly he was hitting his limit. "Doctor Lam for standard physicals, and I'll meet you for briefing in an hour."
He nodded abruptly and spun on his heel. He nearly barrelled over the supply sergeant on the way back to his office. "Sir, we're almost out of MREs. I need you to sign off on the emergency requisition order."
"How the hell did we run out of MREs?"
"We've been using them as trade. And then there was that emergency on P4X-531. And then..."
"Never mind." Hank scrawled his signature across the line she indicated without breaking stride. "Just do what you need to do, Collins."
He didn't wait for her response before shutting the door to his office. Maybe he could get away for a few hours this weekend. Do some bird watching. Settle his mind. Before he could pursue that peaceful train of thought, the door he was still holding the handle to started to turn.
He abruptly opened it, finding Walter Harriman standing on the other side holding a box. He didn't know which annoyed him more–Harriman's lack of reaction to his appearance, or the fact that apparently he had to deal with something else.
"What is it, Chief?"
"Delivery from General O'Neill, sir. He ordered it brought to your office at 0948 precisely."
Hank could feel his own eyebrows rise, he was so shocked. He almost wanted to ask Walter if it was ticking. It wouldn't get through security if it was, but...he'd known Jack a lot of years. Instead he took the box from the chief master sergeant's hands and walked back into his office. Numbly he found his letter opener and cut the tape on the box top.
He used the opener to lift the lid, and stared down to find...a large piece of cake inside.
"I forgot, sir." Walter appeared out of nowhere. It was almost getting to the point it no longer surprised Hank. Walter handed the general a slip of paper. "It came with a note."
"Thank you, Chief. Er, dismissed." This time Hank waited until the door shut behind Walter before opening the note. It read.
About this time was when I first started drafting my resignation letter to General Hammond. Well, my second one. I think I went through five drafts the year I was sitting behind the desk. Sent two of them. You can see where that got me. A nice Pentagon office. I figured around this time you'd be thinking the same...or possibly strangling me. Anyway, here's a "piece" offering to sustain you until the next crisis–which should be in about fifteen minutes time.
P.S. It's your office. No one will care if you leave crumbs. I know from experience.
Chapter 9: Take the Cake
SG-1 has to escape the clutches of a second-rate Goa'uld. (set soon after "Off the Grid").
"Man, you weren't kidding. This really does happen to you guys all the time."
Jackson looked up from massaging his own forehead to shoot Cam a glare for that comment. Cam was still nursing a bump on the back of his own noggin as he leaned against the ha'tak prison wall. Behind him, he heard Sam snort from where she was fiddling with the control panel.
"What, you think we go 'looking' to save the galaxy every mission?" she asked. Through his own swollen eye, Cam caught the look the others shot at her. Sam must've caught it too, because she amended her statement. "Well, not all the time. The point is, trouble finds us more often than we find it."
He really had a knot on his head, right at the base of the skull. He grumbled half to himself. "You could've warned me how much those damn ribbon devices hurt!"
Teal'c was unsympathetic. "You were only subjected to the blunt force blast, Colonel Mitchell. The short-range function is much more intense...and painful."
Cam couldn't help but wince as he turned to Jackson--who'd been lucky enough to score that honor from the Goa'uld. Jackson merely shrugged.
"Eh, you get used to it."
Cam's eyebrows lifted. Ouch. How could eyebrows hurt? "Really?"
Jackson chuckled ruefully. "No."
"Now see, this is what I'm talkin' about. The mission reports always gloss over all this stuff. Although, you really didn't have to antagonize him further."
"Antagonize him?" Now it was Jackson's eyebrows which rose–and then quickly lowered. Yeah, Cam figured that must hurt. Daniel was still nursing that shiner from the kassa mission gone bad even before Goldy took a shine to him. But worry made Cam press his point.
"Well, why'd you have to mock him by saying you never heard of him?"
"I wasn't mocking him. I really hadn't ever heard of him! It's not my fault the guy's a wanna-be system lord who's never been recorded in any history on Earth."
"Yeah, well not being known by SG-1 really seemed to piss him off." Especially since that was when Goldy decided to knock Cam up against the wall for the second time with that really bad jewelry. Cam shook his head. "Oooh." Shaking head was not good. He opened eyes he didn't realize he'd closed to see Jackson handing him some ibufprofens.
"You're the one who wanted to lead SG-1," he said, but his expression was sympathetic.
"No, I wanted to join SG-1." Cam corrected and swallowed the pills dry. "Remind me later what a crazy idea that was."
"I thought you liked crazy," Sam muttered. "Aha!"
"You've cracked it?" Jackson had gotten to his feet–a bit unsteadily but he crossed the small room to Sam's side quicker than Cam felt he could manage at the moment. He was still kinda seeing blurry edges around them all. Probably had another concussion, dammit.
He stumbled to his feet and wandered over to the pair. He thought he'd hid his stumbling–stupid bum leg shouldn't be giving him problems, but that Jaffa had kicked the tender spot. Teal'c was right behind him though and helped him regain his balance without a word. Apparently the others hadn't noticed.
Sam was jabbering some technical stuff, but he caught the last bit. "It would've taken me less time if I hadn't been looking for the added safeguard. These haven't been so easy to crack in years. This guy really isn't the brightest bulb."
Daniel nodded. "Probably why he's only trying to rise to power now that most of the Goa'uld have scattered or been killed."
"Mmm." Sam nodded absently, her hand over the panel as she looked at them. "Ready?"
Mitchell leaned against the edge of the door, ready to move as soon as it opened; Daniel had position on the other side and Teal'c stood in the center. And they thought Cam was foolhardy? In any case, they were ready for the expected guards. "That's a yes."
Their preparations were for naught. There was no guard.
"Well, that was, uh, anti-climactic," Daniel noted.
"Wow, he really is small potatoes." Cam said as they headed down the hall towards the hanger bays. "How do you think he even got his hands on a ha'tak?"
"Salvaged it from the looks of things." Sam pointed to some scorch marks in one of the darker passageways.
Teal'c led them down to a lower deck. "It was likely abandoned as scrap by Cronus years ago."
"Why Cronus?" Cam asked.
"Symbols on the doorways." Jackson twirled his finger as they passed. "One size does not necessarily fit all."
Cam almost laughed out loud at the crazy shit he got to do on a daily basis. Sneaking around an alien spaceship pyramid with guys on missions to save the galaxy. He didn't dismiss the idea he was feeling a bit punch-drunk from the blows to the head he'd suffered. And his bad leg locking up on him. "Damn knees."
The others stopped dead and looked at him as if he were a ghost. "What?"
"Just...nothing." Jackson shook his head, but Cam noticed he'd stepped a bit closer to him. "Had a moment of deja vu. Knees bugging you?"
"Jaffa got me where I was ticklish. No big deal." No way some pissant Goa'uld neither Jackson nor Teal'c'd ever heard of was going to knock him down. "I didn't know knee trouble was inherent."
"Yeah, I guess we left the 'kneel before your god' macro out of some of the reports. It got monotonous." Sam smiled as she scouted ahead. "General O'Neill had a few...knee operations over the years. It gave him a bit of trouble sometimes."
"Yeah. I remember him telling me a bit about it." Cam remembered every second of the conversation when O'Neill visited his bedside after Antarctica. His promise of pulling strings to get him any assignment helped give Cam the will to get through therapy. He may no longer be starstruck with his team, but comparison to the general was high praise. "Hey, anytime I get compared to Jack O'Neill I take as a compliment. I'm still stoked from the time Teal'c said I reminded him of O'Neill."
"You did?" The pair looked over at Teal'c with incredulous looks.
"Yeah," Mitchell wasn't sure if he should be insulted or not. "When we were with Vala snowing those bounty hunters to get that souped up cargo ship."
"Indeed." Teal'c had one of those inscrutable looks on his face–well, inscrutable to Cam. It seemed to make perfect sense to the other two because Jackson nodded and Sam made a strangled sound in her throat.
He wanted to pursue the matter, but spotting the shadow of a Jaffa holding a staff weapon arrested that thought. He instead grabbed at Jackson's tac vest with one hand and shoved Carter forward with the other as he yelled, "Get down!"
The staff blast struck harmlessly overhead and Cam rushed the Jaffa in a football tackle that would have made Coach Marshall proud. Seems like Goldy only got second string Jaffa along with everything else. The blow had knocked the wind out of the Jaffa and a few more blows ensured he wouldn't be getting back up. Teal'c had already downed the other two Jaffa that appeared before Cam had gotten back to his feet.
"This way." Sam was already moving with one of the zats Teal'c pilfered while Teal'c handed Jackson the other one and waited for Mitchell while holding a staff weapon. Cam snatched his guy's zat and followed along into the death glider bay.
"You've got to be kidding me."
One two-man dart sat in the massive chamber, and it looked like it had seen better days. "I don't suppose there's a trunk on this thing a couple of us could cram into?" He was careful to say "us" not "you" even though he really wanted to be in one of the pilot's seats.
"Wait, over here." Jackson had found a door...how had he spotted the doorknob so quickly? Cam didn't care how he'd gotten the door open when he spotted the cargo ship Daniel was pointing to in the other bay. He called back to Sam and Teal'c, but they'd already joined him and were headed to the vessel.
After that it was quick work for Sam to disengage the bridge override, check the ship was flyable, climb in and let Teal'c drive them outta this pop stand.
"Whew. Another day of adventures, and we may be home by suppertime. Do you think they've got roast beef in the commissary? I've been dying for that to come through the chow line."
"You're craving commissary food?" Sam wrinkled her nose.
"True enough. Why settle for mountain grub when I can dream about steak...or chicken...or..." Cam's daydreams were short-circuited by the object tossed onto his vest.
"Maybe that'll tide you over." Jackson nodded to the package while he and Sam started opening their own.
"A...Twinkie?" Where had they been stowing those?
"They are delicious cakes with cream filling inside," Teal'c explained.
"Yeah, I know what they are, but..." They'd lost their packs and weapons when they were captured–at least they'd had their vests and GDOs. But...cakes? Cam thought he'd always came prepared. Although, Sam's looked like it had gotten a bit mushed. She was licking filling off her wrapper. "How did...you know what? Never mind."
Cam settled himself back on the floor of the tel'tak and bit into his snack. They were out of Goldy the Goa'uld's craptop ha'tak, on their way to a Stargate and home, and eating cake.
Yep, it was a good day.
Chapter 10: Peace of Cake
Denouement: Jack O'Neill is disconcerted to find out his old team finds him predictable.
Jack groaned as the meeting around the SGC briefing table continued. He usually loved returning to Cheyenne Mountain. But sharing a plane with Woolsey and then hours listening to him and Major Davis and Hank's new Captain Accountant go through actuarial figures was more than he could take.
As soon as there was another pause while one of them caught their breaths, he threw down his pen from where it had doodled all over his pad and stood up. "What say we take five and catch our breaths?"
"General, we're in the middle of a..."
"Oh come on, Woolsey. We all need to stretch our legs a bit. Taking a break from going over the budget won't destroy the galaxy. Take it from me. I have experience in galactic issues." Jack glared at the open smirk Hank was giving him from across the table. He didn't wait for further arguments before heading to the door.
He was almost to the elevator when he noticed others had fallen in step behind him. He turned, expecting Davis and Captain Accountant had "one more thing", but found he was flanked by his old teammates.
"Going my way?" he asked, trying not to smile.
Daniel shrugged. "We just figured right about now you'd be heading this way."
Jack frowned as he ran his security pass through the keycode to call the elevator. He didn't even know he'd finally had enough in that briefing until thirty seconds ago. "I'm not that predictable."
"With all due respect, sir...yes, you are."
"Look, if you'd just spent..." He checked his watch. "Three hours and twenty-three minutes listening to auditing of light bulb budgets, you'd be going stir crazy too."
"We should've gone with my idea for a bake sake. I told Hammond," Jack muttered. He got into the elevator with his friends piling around him. "I used to think federal red tape was crazy. It's got nothing on international. Stupid senator loving his spaceships so much causing us to get in bed with these bureaucrats. Your girlfriend was right."
Daniel's eyebrows rose as Jack pointed at him. "She wasn't my girlfriend."
"Yeah, whatever." He waited. They waited. The elevator wasn't moving. "What are we waiting for?"
"To see if you have adequately expressed your frustrations," said Teal'c.
"Have you vented enough? We were figuring another couple minutes for you to blow some steam."
Jack looked at them like they'd all grown two heads. "So now you're scheduling bitchfests for me?"
"No, calculating variables and previous experience to know that you're probably have a few minutes more of ranting left in you..." Carter's expression changed when she realized Jack's "ranting" as she put it was about to be redirected towards his ''ex''-teammates.
"I don't always complain."
"You do." Daniel countered.
"You do, sir." This time from Carter.
"Indeed, you express your displeasure at minor annoyances quite frequently, O'Neill." Et tu, Teal'c?
"I do not always bitch about things."
"True," Daniel acknowledged. "Sometimes, you fidget."
"Careful!" Jack raised his finger but was not scowling. He was just...looking stern. "Are you finished?"
They looked at each other, and Jack could see the unspoken communication going between them all before they turned and shrugged. And they said he was predictable.
"Good." Maybe they could finally get somewhere...like the commissary. If he recalled correctly, Margaret hadn't retired yet as pastry chef, and she did wonders with military bulk products to make the best strawberry shortcake...but before he could get to the controls, Daniel had already started the elevator and pressed the button for the commissary level.
"Little presumptuous, aren't you? What if I wanted to go to a different level?"
Carter blinked at him. "It's shortcake day in the commissary, sir."
Oh for the love of..."You're saying my dessert choices are predictable too?"
The three of them just looked at him. When had Daniel and Carter perfected Teal'c's eyebrow raise maneuver?
"You show great affinity for cake, O'Neill."
"Especially when you're cranky," said Daniel.
"And it's SOP when we come back alive after bad missions," Carter said.
Daniel added. "As well as every time we saved the planet..."
"A lot of those times it was Walter's idea," Jack countered as the elevator doors opened and they all piled out.
Carter was actually counting on her fingers now. "Homecomings. And successful search and rescues. Some of the other teams have followed suit."
"I've heard it called the O'Neill treatment," Daniel nodded.
"Starting a trend does not a cake bake." Jack said.
"You took great comfort in the sole remaining slice of chocolate cake when we were trapped in looping time, O'Neill."
"As I recall, you grabbed it for yourself a few times there, big guy." Jack was not the only cake aficionado on this team...or even on this base.
Daniel said, "There's rumors you sent General Landry cake as a welcome to the SGC gift."
He knew he should've had Siler deliver it. Walter had a big mouth.
"You even delivered cake to me in the infirmary when I was first got back from... " Daniel seemed to realize his mistake as soon as he brought it up. "The Dakara battle."
"Hey, when you came back from glowy-land, that was getting a whole new body so it counts as a birthday. You were even dressed for the occasion." He tried not to gloat at the point he scored from Daniel's blush. "Cakes for birthdays are traditional."
"There's nothing wrong with liking cake, sir." Carter smiled. "We find it endearing."
"And predictable." Jack was not complaining, just...clarifying.
"There's worse things to be known for, O'Neill." Out of the mouths of centenarian Jaffa.
Jack considered this. "Can't argue with that."
They stepped into the commissary to find Mitchell already at a table, with plates of strawberry shortcake set. He looked a bit nervous.
"They were going fast, so I thought I'd get some, er, sir." Mitchell was going between giving Jack that subordinate officer look while trying not to adjust his shirt collar and glaring daggers at his teammates behind him. Jack could empathize. He still wanted to do the same...after cake.
"Stand down, Colonel. You made an excellent tactical decision." He could be magnanimous to the new guy. He couldn't resist one last jab at the others as he took his seat. "But don't think this means I'm predictable. After all, sometimes...I choose pie."