Daffy Shaggy Cat
Jack dumped the completed paperwork into his outbox with a sigh. He leaned back in his chair and stretched his entire body. Who would have thought that writing reports and reading requisitions would be more tiring than being chased for miles by dozens of murderous Jaffa?
He checked the clock on the wall beside him and decided that it was time for a break. He pushed up out of his chair and, with a wicked grin on his face, headed towards Daniel's office. Daniel wouldn't mind if he dropped in for a little visit, and if he did? Well...the man needed to take a break from all those squiggles every now and then or he'd go blind. He wasn't tormenting his friend; he was saving the man's sight.
He wasn't at all prepared for the vision that greeted him when he reached Daniel's office. Daniel was in his civvies and was stuffing papers and books into a bag. He appeared to be...leaving...for the day.
But that wasn't possible. It was only 1430. Daniel never left before 1800 unless ordered by Doc Fraiser upon pain of infirmary stay instead of bed rest at home - even Hammond couldn't budge Daniel out of his office when rocks and scribbles beckon.
Something was seriously wrong here and as Daniel's best friend he was determined to get to the bottom of it. Whatever "it" was.
"Daniel?" He asked, with an eyebrow raise, in a tone that clearly conveyed, //Whatcha doin' and why are ya doin' it?//
Daniel barely glanced up from fastening the straps on his bag before he said, "Jack," in a tone that Jack easily translated into, //Hi, Jack. If it's not important then it'll have to wait because I'm busy right now.//
Surprised, Jack watched Daniel sling the bag over his shoulder and walk out of the office. "Wait a minute," he said and trotted after Daniel. When he had caught up to his confusing archeologist he said, "Where are you going at this time of day?"
Daniel didn't look at him or even break stride when he said, "Out."
"Out...of the mountain." Daniel mimicked.
"Out of the mountain...where?"
"Out of the mountain...and off the base."
"Daniel," Jack said in a way that could only be interpreted to mean, //Tell me now!// And then he followed Daniel into the elevator.
"Aren't you supposed to be doing all that paperwork that you've been putting off for weeks now?"
"I'm taking a break. And don't change the subject. I want to know where you're going."
Daniel raised his eyebrows and looked at Jack over the rims of his glasses. "You want?" Daniel inquired mildly.
Uh oh. Mild inquiries from Daniel weren't good. Not good at all. "Um...I just meant...I worry, you know?"
"I do know," Daniel said as he stepped out of the elevator and walked towards the checkpoint. "Bye, Jack. Have fun with your paperwork."
Jack stood inside the elevator and watched Daniel until the elevator doors closed in his face. He angrily punched the button for his floor and fumed. He was a Special Ops trained Colonel in the United States Air Force and he'd just been out maneuvered by an archeologist.
Well, Daniel wasn't going to get away with it, Jack decided.
As soon as the elevator arrived at its original destination he hit the Close Doors button and then headed back up to the surface. If he was lucky then Daniel hadn't gotten too far ahead of him. He still had a chance to find out where Daniel was going and what he was doing.
He made it through the checkpoint in record time and when he got outside he scanned the parking lot for Daniel's Jeep. He spotted it stopping next to the guard house as he was racing for his own truck. The first fork in the road was close to a half a mile down the mountain so if he didn't dawdle he was sure that he wouldn't lose his quarry.
He kept an eye on Daniel's Jeep while he unlocked his truck, climbed in, and started the engine. He was backing out of his parking spot when the striped barrier arm rose and Daniel's Jeep went through.
Less than a minute later, and having given the SF's an interesting story to tell their buddies, he had Daniel in sight again and was finally able to relax. He wasn't worried about being spotted. He knew how to follow someone without being seen and Daniel wouldn't be expecting to be followed so he wouldn't be looking for a tail - something that he'd have to talk to Daniel about again. You had to always be on alert because attack could come from any where at any time. Daniel needed to be prepared.
And Jack didn't care how much eye rolling Daniel did, he was damn well going to listen this time.
Even if Daniel's lack of attentiveness was working in his favor this time.
As they drove through the busy streets of downtown Colorado Springs, Jack wondered about where Daniel was going and why Daniel wouldn't tell him about it.
Was it something embarrassing? A couple of airmen had been hassling Daniel lately when he worked out on base. He’d said that he could handle it but maybe his way of handling it was to go to a gym in the city now. If that was the case then he and Daniel were going to have a very long talk about communication and then Jack would have another long, painful – for them – conversation with those two airmen.
Or maybe Daniel was in some kind of trouble? It would be just like Daniel to try to deal with a problem all on his own. Didn’t he understand that it was a friend’s job to face trouble with you? Or, even better in Jack’s opinion, take care of it for Daniel?
He had worked himself up into a frenzy; determined to shake some sense into Daniel and beat the crap out of whomever or whatever was causing Daniel trouble when he noticed that Daniel was parallel parking in front of a large and somewhat decrepit brick building.
He immediately pulled over into a parking space half a block away from where Daniel was parked. Out of Daniel’s line of sight, he waited for Daniel to get out of the Jeep.
He watched with intrusive, frustrated impatience while Daniel futzed around inside his vehicle for an interminable period of time.
Finally, Daniel climbed out of the Jeep with something bunched up in one hand and a long, slender object gripped in the other.
What the hell was Daniel up to?
Daniel juggled his burdens and locked up his vehicle; he then headed towards the building. Jack slipped out of his truck, locked it and moved towards Daniel – making sure that he wasn’t seen by his target.
As soon as Daniel disappeared inside the building Jack mounted the concrete steps and approached the large wooden double doors of the building. There were no window panes in the doors which was a blessing and a curse; a blessing because there was no chance of Daniel looking back and seeing him and a curse because he couldn’t see inside. He had no way of knowing if Daniel was standing just inside the door or if he had already moved off out of sight.
Jack hesitated for a moment and considered his options. He quickly decided to take the chance that Daniel was right next to the door and reached for the door handle.
The door opened inward stiffly and with a wooden creaking sound. He peered in through the narrow opening that he’d made and then, seeing no one within his sight, pushed the door all the way open and stepped inside.
He found himself looking at a huge, wide open space the size of a basketball court with several gigantic windows and a small alcove, which he was standing in, attached. The room was filled with pool tables, air hockey tables, some weird green felt table with what looked like pinball bumpers on it, and a few benches and chairs. There was a set of wooden doors at the far end of the room leading God only knew where.
Directly in front of him was a large, old-fashioned staircase that a half dozen people could walk side-by-side on. It had a fancy, but worn, wooden banister that reminded him of Tara in Gone with the Wind.
No where did he see Daniel. In fact the place seemed deserted.
Unsure whether to go through Door #1 or take the stairs he paused and noticed a deep, throbbing bass beat and shuffling, thumping sounds coming from above.
Decision made, he headed for the stairs.
When he reached the first landing he realized the throbbing sound that he’d heard was music. He headed up the next half-flight of stairs and cautiously approached the second floor, uncertain of what he would find.
He didn’t see anyone on the landing but there was an open set of doors, similar to the ones downstairs, on the far right and another flight of stairs right next to him. From where he was standing he could see kids – young children all the way up to teenagers – and it looked like they were rollerblading.
He couldn’t approach the doors without being seen and he certainly couldn’t look in through the doorway without giving himself away. He eyed the stairs next to him and wondered what was up there. He recalled the outside structure of the building and factored in what he could see of the space behind the open doors. It looked like it was a basketball court and he figured that there couldn’t be anything more than a balcony or small attic space above, once he factored in ceiling heights. If it was a balcony then it would be the perfect vantage point so he hiked up the next flight of stairs. And discovered that he’d been right, it was a balcony that circled the entire room below.
When he looked down he saw that it was indeed a basketball court. He could see the baskets lifted up towards the ceiling. It was also an auditorium because there was a stage at the opposite end of the room. There was a DJ set up playing music for the dozens of kids that were gathered rollerblading or sitting in the bleachers or standing around talking.
He spent several minutes scanning the room below looking for Daniel but, even though there were a few adults, there was no sign of his friend.
He wasn’t really surprised. Daniel hadn’t been carrying anything that looked like it could have been rollerblades when he entered the building. He could have borrowed some but the stuff that he had been carrying seemed to suggest an activity other than rollerblading.
Finished scanning the crowd below him, Jack headed all the way back down to the first floor and towards the doors on the other side of the room that he'd been in when he’d first entered the building.
When he reached the door he put his ear against its surface and listened for a moment. He didn’t hear anything but it was a solid wood door so he opened it slowly and with caution. He found himself in a high-ceilinged hallway that was, thankfully, empty.
Even though there was no one in sight he could hear some muffled sounds so it wasn’t as quiet here as it had been in the other room.
Along the hall were several doorways, some with open doors and others with closed doors.
He made his way silently down the hall glancing through the open doorways as he passed them. He’d gotten about halfway down the hall and seen a small group of children taking what looked like a cooking class; a darkened room that, based on the sounds he’d heard, seemed to be a TV room; and another group of children in an Arts & Crafts class but, up until that moment, no Daniel. Although he had finally realized what kind of place this was. It was one of those organizations that provided a place for kids to go and safe activities for them to take part in after school.
He finally spotted him through the next open doorway. Or someone who looked a lot like Daniel.
Maybe a twin that he’d never known about? Or a pod person?
Because the man inside that room was...wearing a black t-shirt on his head and waving a bamboo stick around.
Jack knew that his jaw was dangling somewhere around his knees and that he must look ridiculous but...Daniel was...was...wearing a t-shirt on his head and waving a stick around.
At that moment, for some reason, Daniel turned and looked directly at him. He noticed that what little he could see of Daniel's face - everything but the area around his eyes was covered by the shirt in a way that reminded Jack of a ninja's hood - suddenly turned bright red and Daniel fumbled with the stick when his fingers, apparently gone numb from shock, momentarily lost their grip.
Jack could relate. He was pretty sure that he'd lost his grip...on reality. One too many knocks on the head and encounters with mind-altering alien technologies had finally driven him insane.
"Jack?!" Daniel said in a strangled tone but he understood the meaning behind the word. //What the hell are you doing here?!//
"Having a mental breakdown here, thank you very much," was his answer.
"Are you going to introduce us to your friend, Dr. Jackson?" Jack heard a feminine voice say. He shifted his attention away from Daniel and saw that a tall, slender, dark-haired woman was standing next to Daniel. He also noticed several small children seated at child-sized desks.
All or them were wearing shirts wrapped around their heads.
Yup. He'd definitely lost his mind. And since he was insane and hallucinating why the hell couldn't he be hallucinating busty blondes?
Daniel looked a little uncertain - or at least Jack thought that he looked uncertain 'cause it was hard to tell with nearly his whole face covered. "Um...yes...Ms. Rogers this is Jack," Daniel said and waved his hand vaguely in Jack's direction. "Jack this is Ms. Rogers. She's a counselor here."
"Hi." Jack said and waved at Ms. Rogers and the kids staring avidly in his direction.
He wondered if he should make up some kind of excuse for showing up here or if Daniel would let him get away with claiming to be meeting his friend for...some reason like...dinner. Or something.
Daniel continued the introductions. "This is Jack O'Neill, a friend of mine."
"It's very nice to meet you, Mr. O'Neill."
"Colonel," Jack replied without thinking.
"What? Oh. I'm sorry, Colonel O'Neill."
Ms. Rogers smiled at him and gestured for him to enter the room. "Would you care to join us? Dr. Jackson was telling the children about the ninja."
Jack arched an eyebrow and, in a passable imitation of Teal'c, said, "Indeed?" He smirked at Daniel, who got a stubborn look in his eyes and jutted out his chin.
"Yes," Daniel coolly replied.
Jack walked into the room, certain that he was going to be in trouble later, and finally took a moment to scrutinize it and its occupants.
There were close to a half dozen children around the ages of six or seven grouped near the front of the room. They were all wearing shirts of varying colors wrapped around their heads in a manner identical to Daniel's - although not as neatly done.
As he squeezed himself into a chair several sizes too small, he realized that he recognized one of the little girls. She was the daughter of one of the new techs at the SGC. He'd met the little girl at Hammond's last Fourth of July party.
How the heck had Daniel been roped into this?
Jack grinned at Daniel and settled in to enjoy the show. He couldn't see the expression on Daniel's face but he could easily see and feel the scorching glare that Daniel was directing his way. His grin got wider. He was going to love this and, even better, he'd have some great blackmail material.
"Ninja's can kill people with their Ninja Magic," one little boy said with absolute certainty.
Startled, Daniel stopped giving Jack the Evil Eye.
Daniel glanced over at Jack and then moved over to where the boy was sitting. He knelt down in front of him so that they were eye to eye. "Kevin, if you ask really nicely then Jack might be willing to show us a few of his moves." Jack stopped grinning. "He worked for the United States government for years." Daniel looked over at Jack and, even though he couldn't see Daniel's mouth, he knew that Daniel was smirking at him.
Jack had a sudden sinking sensation in his stomach as Daniel concluded with, "As a ninja," never taking his eyes off of Jack's.
The kids gave squeals of delight and all started talking at once. Jack glared at his smug friend and vowed to get even.
"OK. OK. I'll show all of you some moves. Daniel can be my sparring partner."
He smiled at the wariness in Daniel's eyes. Oh, yeah. Revenge would be sweet.
When he reached Daniel's side at the front of the room, where Daniel was once again standing, Daniel whispered to him. "Remember, you wouldn't be in this situation if you hadn't followed me here." Then Daniel added in that sweet, childlike upward look through his lowered lashes that made the guy look about five years old.
It wasn't fair. Daniel knew that he couldn't say no when Daniel looked at him like that. It would be like kicking a puppy.
"Fine." He snarled at the manipulative bastard and proceeded to entertain the kids without tormenting Daniel.
He never got to have any fun.
Before he knew it more than an hour had gone by. He'd had a fabulous time and the kids had as well if all the laughter and shouting were any indication.
He and Daniel had demonstrated a few "ninja" moves and taught the kids a proper "ninja" stance.
Daniel and the kids had even gotten him into a t-shirt ninja hood.
It had been fun but it was 1700 now and parents were arriving from work to pick up their kids so Ms. Rogers had herded the protesting children out into the front room to play and wait for their moms and dads.
"So, Daniel, how did you get suckered into doing this?" Jack asked after he and Daniel were finally left alone in the room.
Daniel pulled the shirt off his head and Jack snickered at the sight of Daniel's wild, static charged hat hair. Daniel frowned and attempted to smooth out his hair with his hands.
It didn't work.
Daniel's frown shifted into a glower. "Oh, shut up. Yours is just as bad." Jack stopped laughing and immediately started feeling his hair in an attempt to find out if what Daniel said was true.
Daniel gave Jack one of his patented, innocent, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth smiles and, stuffing his hands in his pockets, leaned against the wall.
"Shi...shoot." Jack said, modifying his language in case he was overheard by one of the kids running around the place.
"It doesn't look too bad, Jack."
"Which means that it doesn't look good. I've got a reputation to maintain."
Daniel snorted. "Reputation? What reputation? Unless it's as a grouchy hard...umm...tough guy."
"Exactly. It's hard to intimidate someone when you've got pointy hair."
Daniel laughed and then answered Jack's original question. "Sgt. Capilano asked me to help out. Captain Sawyer was supposed to talk about his work for the Air Force but he couldn't."
Jack nodded his head in understanding. Captain Sawyer had been injured on a mission earlier in the week. He was going to be fine but wasn't in any shape to deal with six year olds.
"Why not me?" Daniel looked insulted.
"I didn't mean anything by it. I was just curious about how she came to pick you for this."
Daniel looked a little sheepish. "Sorry"
"She knew that I had taught students in college and she thought that I'd have some interesting stories to tell."
"Lot of difference between little kids and college students."
"Not really," Daniel said and grinned.
"Oooh. Snarky. I like it." Jack straightened up from his slouch against a desk and headed towards Daniel. "Let's get out of here."
Daniel waited until Jack was next to him and then headed for the door with Jack at his side.
As they headed for their vehicles Jack thought about their afternoon and chuckled.
Daniel glanced over at him and asked, "What's so funny?"
"I was just thinking that this was a lot more fun than sitting at my desk filling out forms."
Daniel smiled. "Does this mean that you owe me one, Jack?"
"No. Maybe and I stress maybe if you'd actually invited me then I might possibly owe you one. But since I came here on my own initiative then I don't owe you anything. You may even owe me because of the t-shirt on the head thing."
Daniel didn't have a reply; he just shook his head in an exasperated manner.
"Hey!" Jack said. He'd just remembered something.
He pulled open the front door and allowed Daniel to pass before he followed onto the dark street. "How did you know that I was standing in the doorway earlier?"
"I didn't. I noticed the kids looking at something behind me and wanted to know what it was. Daniel looked over at Jack and grinned. "Don't worry. I didn't sense your presence with my secret ninja magic."
Jack gave Daniel a shove with his shoulder and said, "Come on, Bruce Lee, let's get some dinner."
"Sure," Daniel said as he unlocked the door to his Jeep. "But you're buying. I'll meet you at O'Malley's" He slid behind the wheel and shut the door before Jack could respond.
"What?! I am not." But Daniel couldn't hear him over the sound of the Jeep's engine.
Damn it. Daniel had done it to him again. One of these days Jack was going best Daniel but, unfortunately, it wouldn't be today.