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Title: Bad Birthdays (2 of 2)
Season: Starting Pre-Series and running to Season 7
Spoilers: Now that it's a closed canon, do I really have to do this in detail? Ummm... through Season 7.
Warnings: Minor angst. I favor happy endings, so none of these is really bleak. For those inclined to be particular about sticking to canon, I fudged some dates, so this is probably AU.
Synopsis: Every life has a few birthdays that leave something to be desired. Still, it's always better than the alternative - not having birthdays.






Bad Birthdays, Part 2



Curiosity Killed the Cat

May 3rd, 1995

It had been the perfect day. Here in Colorado up in the mountains, sometimes Charlie's birthday, falling so early in May, could still be cold, snowy even, but not this year. Sure the peaks still wore their robes of white, but they’d be like that in June too. Here at the house it was warm, warm enough that Charlie’d been able to go outside without even a sweatshirt. And Dad was home. He’d taken the whole day off and spent it with Charlie. Even though it was a Wednesday, and there was school, he’d managed to get Mom to agree to letting him skip.

"Just this once, because you're turning 10 and going into double digits!" she’d said, in her "I’m spoiling you!" voice. "You don't get to skip school again because of a birthday until you're a hundred and it’s triple digits!"

"Mommm! I'm not gonna be in school when I turn a hundred!" he’d protested.

"Yes you will," said Dad. "That's how much detention they give for skipping a whole day for frivolous reasons! Now get a jacket, Sport, and let's go out and sample the delights of IHOP!"

Charlie had gone to his room to get the jacket he wouldn't need after all, and Mom had started telling Dad, like she always did, how he was just a big kid himself. Dad always said "No', but Charlie figured that she was sort of right, because Jeff Eisen agreed.

"Your Dad’s fun!" he’d said. "It's not like playing with other grownups. When your Dad plays, he really plays. He doesn’t get all 'Wait! You can't have dinosaurs with people! They were extinct by then!' He just rharrhs!"

It was great having the cool dad.

At IHOP. there were pancakes with blueberries andbutter, and syrup, and bacon, and cocoa with whipped cream, and Dad had the same thing as him, only more and with coffee in the place of the cocoa. He even had the whipped cream, because he made a silly pouty face at the waitress and asked how come Charlie got whipped cream on his, and he didn't get any, so she went and got the can and got him some. Mom had scrambled eggs and wheat toast and orange juice and cantaloupe instead, but he and Dad were used to the way she always had to have the healthy food, and Charlie had asked for a bite of her cantaloupe, and it was cool and sweet.

Then they'd gone hiking, and Dad had showed him how to use the sun to tell what direction they were going, and what trees were good to make shelters under, and how important it was to be sure that you knew which trees stuck up too high, and might attract lightning, and Mom got him to notice a few new birdsongs to add to the list of birds he could recognize, and when they got where they were going, there were tuna sandwiches, and grapes to tame the thirst, and cool water from his canteen and more from Dad’s when he finished his, and carrot and celery sticks, and Twinkies, which Mom never bought, but Charlie loved. And they looked down from where they were sitting, and they could see almost straight down to Denver.

Best of all, on the way down they saw a real bear. It would have been a little scary, but Dad was there, and stood in front between them and the bear, so Charlie knew he was safe, and they were down-wind, so the bear didn’t notice them and just moved off.

Then when they got back it was after school, and there was Little League practice, and Dad had pitched for batting practice, and Mr. Cockrell had worked with the guys in the field, and Mr. Dominguez worked with the runners, and even though Dad always pitched him the pitches that kids weren't allowed to throw yet, just to try and trick him, Charlie had gotten a hit so good that even if it had been a game it probably would have been a home run. Then it was the turn for the kids to pitch, and Charlie got to pitch first and got three strike-outs, and Mr. Cockrell said that he had an arm on him!

Then it was home to dinner and it was spaghetti and meatballs, Charlie's favorite, and there was garlic bread, and salad with the good dressing and no onions, and dessert was chocolate cake with chocolate icing with rocky road ice cream. Daddy made a big fuss about how terrible it was that the cake was all chocolate, because he wanted vanilla, but he had two big pieces, so Charlie knew he was just fooling.

Mom almost wouldn't give Dad that second piece. First she said he couldn't have it because everybody knew he didn't like it because it was chocolate. Dad said it might be chocolate, but it was cake, and cake is always good enough for him. Then she said that he might get too fat. He told her he was being noble and sacrificing himself to save her from it. She said "My hero!" in a silly tease-y way, and then told him he’d just have to work off the calories later. He’d made his eyebrows dance and grinned and said he just might have to work it off several times that night, and she’d laughed and said "Promises, promises!" and finally gave him the piece. Charlie loved it when they play argued like that, because they only did it in happy times. It was what he missed most when Dad was getting better after he came home from Iraq.

He was better now, and when Dad was happy, it made the whole family happy. It didn't work that way for Charlie. He'd tried to be happy enough to make Daddy better after Iraq, but Mom had said it didn't work that way, that Dad would have to get better himself with time. Sometimes when Charlie was really, truly happy, Dad had come and hugged him, shaking a bit, and trying hard not to show he was almost crying. Charlie would ask him if he did something wrong, because Dad was too brave to cry, so if he was almost crying it must be awful, but Dad always said "No, buddy, no! I’m just so glad to be back to you son." Grown-ups were really tough to understand.

But that was then, and now Dad was all better, and it was time for presents, and there would be a model aircraft of an F-14 to do with Dad, and a game of Risk, and a pogo stick with cool metallic blue streamers, and a big box of Topps baseball cards, and new in-line skates in dark blue with silver flames on the side, and best of all, he was getting a new video game, Wing Commander IV. He couldn't wait to play it.

He opened the Pogo stick first. He wanted to try it right then, but Mom said not in the house. Then he opened the model, and Dad and he looked at the picture on the box, and talked about all the features it had, and Dad told him a little about what it was like to pull the g's a plane like that could pull. Then he opened the skates, and he got to try them on to see that they fit, but again Mom said not in the house. In the Topps box there was even a rookie card for Jason Bates, and cards for Jose Acevedo, Joe Girardi, and Andres Galarraga, all of them Colorado Rockies players, and Dad said "Are you sure that's all that's in there?", and he made Charlie look in the box again, and tucked in there were some tickets for the next home stand, so he and Dad could go. After that there was the Risk game, just like the one at Grampa Mikes, but with plastic pieces instead of wood.

Then Charlie looked around for the last package. He didn't see it anywhere.

Dad had that little line between the eyebrows not-quite-frown, and Mom asked him what he was looking for.

"The other present,' Charlie said. "The one with Wing Commander IV inside."

Ooops. He wasn't supposed to do that. Now they'd know he peeked.

"Charlie,' Dad's voice was low and serious. "Were you in Mom’s closet?"

Suddenly Dad didn't look big and safe anymore. He looked big and… BIG. Mom looked like she was gonna cry.

Charlie was quiet. He knew better. He was supposed to wait to find out what he was getting, and not peek, but waiting was so hard and he really didn't think it would hurt anyone, but now Mom looked so sad, and she and Dad seemed to be talking without words. Finally Dad gave her a little nod, and turned back to Charlie.

"Well?" he asked.

"I just wanted to know," he said, and even though he tried to make his voice sound brave and strong, it came out all quiet and small.

"Well," said his Mom, sounding cross now, "this means you know one of the things you're getting for Christmas, and you'll have to wait all the way until then to play with it. It should teach you a little bit about how to wait, should't it?"

"I’m sorry," said Charlie. His voice was still small, and he could feel the burn on his cheeks, and he couldn't look at Mom or Dad. He just wanted to be alone for a while until he didn't feel that sinking lump in his tummy anymore.

He went up to get his pajamas on and brush his teeth. Downstairs he could hear Mom say that he took after Dad. Dad said "Aw, c’mon, Sara. He's just a kid."

That was the problem. He felt like a little kid, not like a big double digit kid who was learning to be big and brave and a hero like Dad. When he was done he just quietly went to his bedroom, and leaving the door open so the hall light could shine in, he climbed into bed without getting any hugs or kisses.

After a few moments, the light was partially blocked by Dad standing in the doorway. He crossed to the bed and sat down by Charlie’s hips and ruffled his hair.

"Tough end to the day, huh, sport," he said, his voice quiet and gentle. Charlie knew that if he could see Dad's eyes in the dim light they'd be soft and gentle too, like his hand.

Charlie just nodded. Dad was being so nice, it made him feel like crying, and he didn't want to say anything and have his voice give him away. Dad slipped his fingers down behind Charlie's ear, and rubbed one of his long curvy thumbs gently across Charlie's cheekbone.

"We all screw up sometimes, Charlie," he said. "God knows I have."

'Not like I did,' said Charlie.

"Worse," said Dad. It must have been when he was little, littler than Charlie. "Anyway, sport, what's done is done. You can't undo it. Only thing you can do is learn your lesson and do better next time. Tomorrow's another day, another chance to do the right thing. Now get some sleep, son. School tomorrow."

He leaned over and kissed Charlie on the forehead, and Charlie threw his arms around Dad's neck and pulled himself up to give him a fierce hard hug. He stuck his face into Dad's neck, and smelled his safe Dad smell mixed with the fabric softener on his shirt, and felt his scratchy Daddy chin, and felt safe, and loved, and forgiven. He lay down again, and Dad handed him Brown Bear, knowing the way Dad was so good at, that even if he was too big to sleep with Brown Bear anymore, that the bed just felt better with Brown Bear there. In the dim light he could see Dad’s gentle smile, and he rubbed one hand softly over Charlie's forehead, and then got up and went out, drawing the door almost all shut. It was dark, but not too dark. He could feel Brown Bear's soft and bumpy fur under the fingertips of his right hand. The nasty sinking feeling in his tummy was gone like the winter snow, all melted away. From downstairs came a piece of music with a single cello going "ba-da deedle, deedle, deedle, ba-da deedle, deedle, deedle" that was one of Dad’s favorites. Charlie closed his eyes. He would have lots of birthdays. The next one would be better. He wouldn't peek. He slept.



It Is a Truth Universally Acknowledged That a Single Woman of Good Fortune Must Be In Want of a Child

November 7th, 1997

Janet Fraiser put her pen to paper and signed her name for what was probably the ninety-ninth time that day. She'd signed orders. She'd signed charts. She'd signed a death certificate. She'd signed two different casts, and a birthday card for one of the nurses. This thing though, this thing she'd put off signing all day. It was funny. She was the one who asked for the divorce. She wanted it. It was right. It wasn't as if she was ever going to be with Beau again. She wanted to be free of the legal ties they shared. Still, it was hard.

Maybe it was hard because she could still remember the hope and joy of their wedding. Back then Beau had been so considerate, so kind. He treated her like a precious flower, and Janet felt so safe, so loved. But she wasn't a flower. She was a woman with plans, and dreams, a smart woman with a career she loved. It didn't take too long for the bloom to come off the rose when Beau had discovered that interns and residents come home late when they come home at all, and he would have to learn to be alone a lot. He'd stuck it out for a long while, as tension grew to antagonism, and antagonism to contempt, and then finally contempt had led to unfaithfulness, and that was a sticking point for Janet. She'd thrown him out and found a lawyer.

Maybe it was because this was all so final, and it felt like losing, and Janet hated to lose. She'd hated it when she was in spelling bees in elementary school. She'd hated it when she was on the Math Team and the Chess Team in middle school and high school. She hated it now when she lost a patient to Death. She kept wondering. What if she'd settled for general practice, instead of going on for the fellowships in Infectious Disease, Urgent Care, and Neurology, not to mention that M.A. in physiology, and the year working in the psych ward? Would she and Beau still be together? What if she'd been able to talk him into that infertility work-up and they'd figured out what the problem was and taken steps, maybe donor sperm, maybe donor eggs, maybe in vitro, depending? Would they still be together? How about if she'd whacked that bimbo up the side of her head with a skillet and put the fear of God into Beau so he'd never, ever… Yeah! Right!

Maybe it was because it was her birthday. Thirty-seven years old, and alone. No husband, no child, and soon no familiar colleagues. She’d gotten orders. In two days time she'd be reporting to run an infirmary down inside Cheyenne Mountain where N.O.R.A.D. was. What the hell they wanted someone with her skill set for there, she had no idea. She envisioned a posting where she spent her days advising airmen with growing guts brimming over their belts that a day spent swilling coffee and staring at a screen was not doing wonders for their health and if they didn't want to check out of a heart attack yesterday, they'd better exercise, give up the cigs, and cut back on the caffeine. Maybe every now and then her life would be enlivened by a paper cut. Did they want her because of that year in the psych ward? For the occasional case of claustrophobia working underground?

She'd signed the papers. It was done. She'd dictated her last chart, signed out all her patients to other docs, said her goodbyes, cleaned out all her belongings and certificates from her office and put them in her car, and the only thing that belonged to her in this office now were her white coat embroidered with her name and rank, the stethoscope still around her neck, her "They Never Suspect The Short Ones" coffee mug, and these papers. Which she’d signed.

She put the pen with its legend of “Property of Lackland A.F.B." on it - wouldn't do to end up in disciplinary barracks over the theft of a ballpoint pen! - down on the desk, checked the drawers again for anything she'd missed, and picked up the papers and the mug, and closed the office door behind her. She'd turn in her keys and I.D. tag on the way out.

Janet didn't like to lose. This wasn't the end. It was a new beginning, she told herself. Who could tell. Maybe Cheyenne Mountain was chock-a-block full of gorgeous, eligible (if somewhat unnaturally pale) men who were on the lookout for short thirty-seven year old women, and wanted to leave N.O.R.A.D. to become househusbands and raise her babies.

Janet snorted.

That'll be the day!

"Well," she told herself, "it's my birthday. I’m gonna get me some Fudge Brownie and celebrate, and if I don’t find Mr. Right by the time I turn 40, I’ll adopt.'

A pint of Fudge Brownie might not keep you warm at night, but it wouldn't cheat on you either, and it was soothing and rich and chocolatey. On the whole, she preferred it to Beau. So there!



The Chapter of Changing into a Swallow

5th of Payni, Season of Shemu, Year of Ra 5735

I am a swallow, I am a swallow, I am that Scorpion-goddess, the daughter of Re. O you gods, may your savor be sweet, a flame has gone up from the horizon. O you who are in the city, I have brought him who guards his coils; give me your hands, for I have spent the day in the Island of Fire, I have gone on an errand and I have returned with a report. Open to me; then I will tell what I have seen.

-The Book of the Dead Spell 86



Just before the first rays of the Golden One touched the horizon, Shau're, accustomed from birth to setting the rhythms of her day to its progress across the vault of heaven, began to awaken and face the new day. Life among Ra's people had never been easy. With so many of the men spending long days in the mine, it fell to the women to do much of the hard physical labor of tending the fields, the animals, and the children, weaving and fashioning the clothing, the pottery, and all the other necessities of life. Days were long and hard, and food was never plentiful, even when the oldest of the children that had not yet gone to the mines were lucky in the hunt. It was a hard life, but the people of Ra knew no other, and so they took their pleasure where they could find it, and faced life with courage, grit, and a determination to seek joy. It was a way of life that Shau're and her brother Skaa'ra excelled at, and most days Shau're awakened in a spirit of anticipation.

This day, of all days, should have been met with joyous expectation, because it marked the start of the twentieth year since her birth, the day when she would become truly and completely adult, old enough to hold property in her own right, and full standing in all matters of law. She was the daughter of Kasuf, and in keeping with his importance to the people, there would be feasting and general rejoicing. Only one in ten children of the People were strong enough, clever enough, and blessed enough to reach their Coming of Age. Still fewer of those fortunate children were as beautiful as Shau're and Skaa'ra. Beautiful children were beloved of Ra, and he took them. Nominally, this was a good thing. The people were told that these fortunate children were blessed among mortals. They would be privileged to serve Ra and enjoy the rapture of his holy presence. They would never toil in the mines and the fields, and they would never lack for food or drink. Their clothing would be rich and beautiful. Maybe this was so, but those chosen never returned, and the People mourned them like the dead for seventy days. Clearly then, Shau're was fortunate indeed to see this day in with the people she loved, but instead she felt an ever deepening sense of gloom and despair. Today would not only be her Coming of Age, it would be her wedding day.

Kasuf was headman of the People of Ra. There were six mines on Abydos, and each mine was worked by a different tribe, each named for an aspect of Ra., and had been granted - in times so long past that they were lost in the mists of history - a sign. Kasuf's sign, and thus the name of his tribe was “The Eye of Ra Sees All Things”. His tribe was the largest, his mine the richest, and the manpower to work that mine was the greatest, but this did not make Kasuf all-powerful. That was the prerogative only of Ra and the minor gods he ruled, not of mere mortals. No one tribe, even The Eye of Ra, was strong enough to rule without the consent of the others. If Kasuf put the interests of his own tribe above the needs of his people as a whole it would mean strife and unrest, and men would be fighting among themselves when they should be working the mines. If Ra should arrive and find the measure of his naqui'dah not filled to overflowing, there would be reprisals and death and starvation would stalk the land. This had happened in the time of Kasuf's grandfather when another headman, the grandfather of Nebra, a friend of Kasuf's from childhood, had ruled. The Eye of Ra had almost lost their primacy in the turmoil, and Kasuf's father's generation had been small, and many were stunted from hunger. It was a mistake Kasuf did not intend to repeat.

So when the headman of The Hand of Ra is Mighty had shown up in the season of Akhet, asking for the hand of his beloved daughter Shau're in marriage to his eldest son, Kasuf's heart had plummeted faster than a falcon in the hunt. Tradition taught that the daughters of the headman should marry into a prominent family of one of the other tribes. It unified the tribes and encouraged peaceful relations, and it made sure that new blood entered the leading families. If Kasuf refused to give his daughter to one of the sons of the other tribal leaders, not only would there be insult and the perception that Kasuf thought himself above tradition, arrogating to himself the privileges of the gods, but the other leaders would probably refuse to give Skaa'ra the bride of his choice when he grew old enough to seek a bride. Shau're was not too young, so Kasuf could not refuse on those grounds. Many girls married as young as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Shau're was the sun of his heart, a true copy of his beloved much lamented wife, intelligent, feisty, graceful, and beautiful, with her rare light eyes and easy smile. Her talents would help to make whatever man she married a true leader among men, because she had a way of making her ideas seem like they were his own, and had a strength to shame any man's, as Kasuf knew well in his own life. Women of Abydos, like the men, were slaves and the children of slaves from time immemorial. They were used to obedience and a life of denying their own desires, but Kasuf, like all fathers in all times and places, wished better for his children. He wished they could fly free like the birds, in their souls, if not in their bodies.

With regret squeezing his beating heart like the hand of a Jaffa on a prisoner's throat, Kasuf thought fast and did what he could for his daughter. It was not much. First he announced that Shau're herself must be allowed to chose from the eligible sons of all the different tribes, and that she would not marry until her Coming of Age. Ramose, the son of Heb're of The Hand of Ra was a strong and handsome young man, but he was spoiled and cruel. Rumor had it that he was not the true son of Heb'ra, but that his mother had been taken by Ra when she had waited on him during his visit to Abydos in the year of the boy's birth. Kasuf did not want to see his darling daughter tied for life to him, or worse lost in childbed as her mother, the delight of Kasuf's life had been, only to provide that brute with loutish sons who would never know the wise teachings of their mother. At least Shua're would be able to chose the lesser of all the evils. Perhaps the son of leader of The Loins of Ra are Fruitful would do. He was not a mover and a shaker, but he was kind, and the children that Shau're would give him would no doubt be leaders by nature.

Unfortunately, once Kasuf was bound by his given word, spoken before a public assembly, he discovered that he had made a terrible mistake. He should have weighed more carefully the characters of the men before him. If he had, he would have expected their thuggish tactics. The other young men took themselves out of the running, politely but firmly declining the offer of Shau're's hand, and Ramose’s swagger was a dead giveaway as to his role in their defection. But Kasuf's word was given, and his word was all. On the fifth day of Payni in the Season of Shemu, the sun of Kasuf's heart would be given in marriage to that bully Ramose.

It was to this reality that Shau're awoke, and it was this threatening storm that cast a dark cloud over her day, even under Abydos' almost perpetually clear blue sky. It affected the other women too, as they took up their flails and worked with a will to beat the wheat berries off of their stalks. The song that they sang to set the rhythm, ordinarily a quick, cheery little tune about how the loaves would be many and the children fat, the granaries full to overflowing, and the cats would thrive on the many mice whose evil plots to eat the grain would be foiled by their skilled hunting, somehow came out as a dirge today. Shau're was known for her kind heart, and for the way that she took up the causes of those who needed a hand, and her never-failing ability to find a smoother path when relations between the women began to get a little rough and tempers were starting to get high. She would be a great loss to the women of the Eye of Ra, and they would miss her.

Little grain had been processed before it was time to gather it into the baskets for winnowing on a day of proper wind. Then it was time to quickly down the mid-day meal of onions wrapped in bread and dipped in oil, and dates, and set to work preparing for the wedding feast. Shau're and her closest friend, Nefer-nefer, were cutting up djemu fruit to stuff the mekheb-beast when a shadow fell over the platter, and Ramose was among them.

If all those present did not know of his character, many would have been sighing and trying to attract his notice. His limbs were long and slender, and his lean chest was toned and well-muscled. His features were even and his teeth strong and white, with clear, deep set eyes and a long straight nose under glossy black hair. He was young and healthy, and a leader in the making among the tribes. All the same, no one present wanted to be his intended. They had all heard of the way his brothers feared him, and his sisters, if they displeased him ended up with bruises and black eyes. Henet of the Hand of Ra had attracted his eye, but refused his advances, and not long after she had disappeared, and no one had laid eyes on her since. Hemiunu her father had gone to Kasuf to plead for help from all the tribes to find her, but nothing had come of the search, and not long after the acres of Hemiunu's family had been trampled and laid waste by mastages when they somehow broke out and wandered through them one night.

Ramose's dark eyes glittered under dark brows, and he wore a triumphant grin. The more experienced women noted the evidence of his lust that his formal kilt failed to entirely disguise.

"I came to see my bride," he said. "At sundown you will be mine. Your father can delay no longer. I look forward to you giving me many strong sons and hard-working, thrifty daughters. The son of my father” (and everyone present noted that he neglected to give that father a name) "is sure to beget the future of us all."

He reached out and pinched Nefer-nefer on her round, shapely behind, and leered suggestively at the bountiful attributes of Hequet. Shau're had been prepared to treat him with cool politeness, mindful of the wedding night to come, and not wanting to do anything which would raise Ramose's ire. She had no wish to start married life with battery, but now she saw red.

"I would sooner marry Apophis and take him to bed than marry you!" she said. "I may have to join my hand to yours, but see that they wash you well before I come to you, because I will rip off that part that you prize most, and feed it to the vultures. You will never beget anything on me!"

Ramose went white with fury, and he raised his hand to strike her, right there before all the assembled women, but Shau're stepped back, and he found that many of the women were suddenly between him and his prey. Pen-nodjmet, one of the eldest of the women, wrinkled and frail, was foremost among them, knowing that to strike one such as her would be a great offense.

"Proceed, stripling, and there will be war," she said. "Think carefully on what you want before you act."

Ramose stood motionless for several moments, his rough breathing the loudest thing in the area, then he turned and strode away, kicking over a basket of flatbread as he left.

Shau're's could feel her knees knocking, and the anger that had sustained her faded. She sat down before she could collapse, reaching a forearm across a moist brow. She could hear Nefer-nefer muttering darkly under her breath, although she could not make out what was said. She looked down at her own hands, and noted with a certain remove that they were shaking, and she could not still them. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and looked up to see the face of Pen-nodjmet, with its lattice of fine lines.

"Go be with your father, child," she said. "He needs you today, of all days. There are many hands here. We will be fine. Drink this, and go.'

She handed Shau're a small cup filled half-filled with sweet date wine.

Lest my hands should shake too much and spill a full cup, thought Shau're dryly, but she took the cup, and drank rapidly so that she did not spill a drop. She looked up at Pen-nodjmet and smiled in thanks for her kindness.

"I will go," she said, rising on legs that were steadier now. So many times in the past months she had prayed to Amun, the Hidden One, that had never been seen by mortals in the flesh, to save her from this fate, but her prayers were apparently for nought. It would take a miracle to save her now, and on Abydos, miracles were few.

An hour later, a miracle arrived, four messengers in green clothing, one of them wearing a necklace with an amulet bearing the Eye of Ra. His eyes, a rare clear blue rarely seen among the People, were kind. It was a sign.

Shau're made sure to walk by her father's side as they made their way back to the walled settlement and the waiting feast that they would share with the honored guests.

"Father," she said, "You said I could choose my mate. I did not choose Ramose, there was merely no other choice. What I choose now is a risk, but a risk I wish to undertake. I have a plan."


Can’t Get No Satisfaction

August 15th, 1998


Sara O'Neill took the final sip of Chablis from the crystal stemware that had been a wedding gift from her now-deceased Uncle Terence. Before her on the kitchen table lay the birthday cake with two slices missing, and two plates, with only crumbs remaining, two forks with morsels of chocolate cake and rich chocolate buttercream frosting clinging to them, and two crumpled paper napkins. A more careful examination of the plates would have shown a few smears on the plate that would have spoken of the Oreo cream ice cream that had guilded the lily, but Sara wasn't really focusing on the plates. She was looking at the cake and deciding that it would not get tragically stale if she didn't get it stowed in the next hour. Her dad had let himself out, and she was alone, and frankly, she just didn't feel like putting out the effort just now.

It had been a long, strange year, and a difficult one. Just when she was beginning to get her life back in some semblance of predictability, where she would could pretty much predict when the waves of grief would arise, and what would trigger them, when the terrible pendulum swing from numbness to devastation had been replaced by days which, while not free of the pain that Sara suspected would walk through her life with her always, were also filled by little moments of grace, the gentle benediction of sunlight on water, the thrum of a well-tuned engine, the smell of the wisteria on the front porch, Jack O'Neill had waltzed his way back into her life, and had left a trail of havoc in his wake, as only Jack ever could.

As if one Jack O'Neill was not enough mayhem, there had been two, and one of them had seemingly turned into the spitting image of Char – of their dead child. Jack said it wasn't him, and it was pretty clear that at least one Jack hadn't been Jack either. The official explanation offered by the Air Force had made no sense to anyone with any desire to look beyond the surface. At least the one she got didn't. She wasn't sure if the hospital had been given the same one, nor was she going to ask. Jack had shown the grace to look sheepish as he mouthed the proffered story, and no words were needed for them both to agree that this was the best he was allowed to share, and that he wished it were more. They'd been that good once.

"It wasn’t really him," Jack had felt the need to repeat, "or me," he added unnecessarily.

'I know," she said.

They regarded each other in silence for a while. There was no anger in this silence, none of the energy-sapping futility either, neither was it companionable, as it once would have been. It was not the silence of lovers or friends. It was the silence of acquaintances.

Sara wanted it to be more, wanted Jack to want it to be more, but the divorce papers had been signed, and she as much as she had always loved the breath of fresh air, the sense of excitement, the wild rush of passion that Jack had brought to her life, she could not climb aboard that wild ride again. It would break her.

"You look good," she’d offered instead.

"And you’re beautiful," he’d replied.

He'd gathered her into his broad chest with both arms, running one of his hands through the strands of the hair at the back of her head. She'd just gotten a brief moment to take in his familiar, intoxicating smell and feel cocooned in the safety she always felt in his arms, when he'd kissed her lightly on the top of her bowed head, and gone, without even saying goodbye.

Gone. Off to his "wild blue yonder" again, leaving a helluva lot of turbulence in his wake, as always. Turbulence and an aching heart.

It was easier when she was angry. Anger made it easier to push him away. Easier to remember that his protection and his strength were not enough, that he had left her to flounder, turning away from her.

Jack was strong, so strong. And fearless. A bulwark against the world. Again and again he had triumphed over battle losses, over injury, over torture, and now even over the loss of their son, put himself back together and carried on. Sara knew beyond all doubt that he would die for her, even now, especially now. The guilt he felt over the collapse of his strength, the way he had failed her in her time of greatest need after all she had done to help him pick himself up and carry on after Iraq would ensure that he would do so without an instant of hesitation.

And if she took him back, assuming that he would even come back now, she would never trust him again. It would be like walking on spring ice. Perhaps he was strong enough. Certainly he looked strong again. But at every step along the way she would be testing, testing, waiting for the cold that took the breath away, the drowning with no hand to pull her free.

She was forty-five years old. Alone. Middle aged, with definite crow's feet, and a mouth that was harder, grimmer than it had been in her youth, and a sadness welling in the eyes that looked back at her in the mirror.

At her age birthdays had long since stopped being about presents and anticipation. It was about taking stock, remembering what was, and mapping a path for what was to come. It was time to face the facts. Jack was a part of her past, as much as Charlie was. She would always love him, always miss him, always treasure what they had. She had been loved and cherished. She had been strong for him and for his son while he was gone, and been cradled in the safety and security of his arms when he returned. He had made her laugh as no one else could, and she had felt so privileged to earn the adoration of a genuine hero. Now it was time to look forward, and live for the future.

A small smile quirked her lips. Such a cliché, that. Jack would be sure to grumble. Well, time to find someone new, someone with quirks and foibles all his own. Someone kind, and gentle, and stable to face the next half of her life with. There would probably never be the passion, the trust, the wild rush that she had known before. When she was young and the world was a safer place, happiness had been her goal, and at times she’d had that in abundance. Now that she knew the true cruelty and despair that life could offer, she was looking for contentment instead. She would make that her standard, and if happiness came, she would not turn it aside, but starting tomorrow, as she launched into her 46th year, she would stop letting life carry her along, and start steering.

She rose to her feet, and went in search of the bakery box to put the cake away.


The Changing of the Guard

November 20th, 1997

As Technical Sergeant Walter Harriman walked down the corridor leading to his post in the control room, he was approached by SG-1 headed in the other direction, clearly heading for the elevator he had recently stepped out of, on their way up to the infirmary for a post-mission check up. They looked to be unharmed, and when they got there they would no doubt be greeted by the new doctor, Fraiser, who had arrived the day before. Walter knew this because General Hammond had tasked him with the job of showing her around the facility the day before. She needed a good grasp of the layout of the command if she was going to be able to respond to emergency calls where ever they might arise.

Walter had a paper cup in one hand with its white plastic lid, full of coffee with plenty of cream and sugar, and a clipboard in the other, so he was spared the necessity of a salute. The team was deep in discussion in any case, something about somebody who apparently rejoiced in the name (if his ears could be believed) of "Moo Gal". Some days, and perhaps especially on this day, his birthday, Walter had wondered why his parents had seen fit to saddle him with an outdated name like Walter, but that paled into insignificance when compared with Moo.

As the team reached him, they broke off the discussion, in order to greet him.

The tall alien, Teal'c, said nothing, but acknowledged Walter with a grave nod of his head.

Daniel Jackson offered a polite "Oh hello, [pause to adjust his glasses and glance at the name tape] Sergeant!" It seemed he was checking for the correct rank.

"Sergeant," was all that Major Carter offered, but her eyes were bright, and her smile genuine.

"Morning, Wallace!" said Colonel O'Neill.

"Morning Sirs, Ma’am,' said Walter. "And it’s Walter," he muttered to himself as he moved off.

"I heard that!" the Colonel called back from down the corridor.

When he finally reached the control room, he noticed with a sinking feeling that Major Samuels was there, in full dress blues. Except when there were visiting brass, even General Hammond went about his business in his shirt sleeves, often in the short sleeves that would not be covered by the Class A jacket, but by a more casual waist-length zip-up affair, and the other officers, almost to a man (or woman) availed themselves of the opportunity to wear B.D.U.'s, but not Major Samuels. He always wore the carefully pressed blue trousers, the starched shirt and clip on tie, and the heavy suit jacket that the Air Force required for most formal occasions. How he managed not to sweat like a pig in that get up was a mystery that none of the enlisted personal had yet been able to solve, although not for lack of imaginative speculation

Be that as it may, it was not his buttoned down style of dress that struck dread into the good sergeant. It was the knowledge that the Major's mind was twice as buttoned down as his style of dress. Rumor had it that as an infant the major had filled each diaper in triplicate, and when the other men in his squadron had been pouring over the pages of Playboy and Penthouse, or reading the novels of John Grisham or Louis L'Amour, Major Samuels had been relaxing with a copy of the Air Force regulations. Walter doubted that last. It seemed much more likely that he had learned them off in lieu of Bible verses in his childhood. He certainly had great reverence for them.

The first victim was Walter's coffee, a expensive indulgence he'd stopped by the pastry shop on the way to the Mountain to buy, as a bit of a sop to his inner child, who insisted that it was unreasonable to expect Walter to work on his birthday. The needs of national (and planetary) security made no provision for the birthdays of enlisted personnel, or even of officers, so Walter had ordered a drink that was closer to a liquid candy bar than a cuppa joe, and reported for duty. Apparently Major Samuels feared that the cup of coffee might compromise said planetary security, and Walter was ordered to place it in the nearby bin.

"Why can’t Walton have his coffee?" asked the voice of Colonel O'Neill, just as Walter was rising out of his seat to follow the order. He had (just barely) heard the tread of the Colonel’s feet taking the stairs up to the Control Room two at a time - really, for a man of a couple of inches above six feet, he moved remarkably silently when he made the effort - but Major Samuels clearly had not, because he startled, and regarded O’Neill with some suspicion.

"Stay a sec, Walton," the Colonel said, looking at the Major and waiting for an explanation. By this time the rest of his team had arrived and ranged themselves behind him. Colonel Carter and Teal’c were apparently awaiting the Major's answer with some curiosity, while Dr. Jackson was still trying to gain control of the stack of books that had almost been scattered all over the floor in his attempt to avoid barreling into Jack O’Neill as he had been too busy consulting the top open volume to notice that the Colonel had stopped until it was almost too late.

"Yes, sir," said Walter, and then daringly "It’s Walter, sir."

O'Neill was not offended. He simply assumed and expression of false innocence and said, "I knew that!" and turned his attention back to Major Samuels.

The Major looked irritated, but then this was his usual reaction to both Colonel O'Neill and Colonel Makepeace.

"If the personnel assigned to man the stations in the Control Room take in drinks containing caffeine, it will have certain predictable effects, and if they are constantly running off to the latrines, it could compromise readiness," he said primly.

Walter heard General Hammond's steps on the stairs from the briefing room.

"So you are encouraging the men…" O’Neill glanced over to Walter's left and noted the presence of Airman Sadiq and smoothly added, “and women to chug all their coffee quickly and in large quantity before coming on duty instead?”

"Perhaps they could consider eliminating coffee. It would be healthier for them," said Samuels, primly.

"You have coffee this morning, Samuel?" asked the Colonel.

"Yes," said Samuels, grudgingly, and with a look of pure hatred that was intensified when the General, who had by that time joined the group, noted that lethally strong coffee was an Air Force tradition in good standing.

"I was thinking that we could requisition a coffee maker and a small cupboard to store the necessary stuff that goes with it and put them over there, sir" O'Neill said brightly, pointing to an unoccupied niche in one corner of the room. "It would be good to know that the airmen on duty have some help to stay alert."

"Not a bad idea, Colonel," said the General. "Samuels, make a note of it, and see that the requisite paperwork crosses my desk. Now if the caffeine needs of this base are adequately planned for, can we please proceed upstairs and get this briefing underway? Doctor Fraiser notified me that she had to initiate the standard protocol for personnel who have been in hostage situations for Captain Carter?'

The steps of the General and SG-1 moved off, with Captain Carter insisting that it was fine, she hadn't been seriously harmed, and the protocol was only pro forma, really, and the Colonel insisting that it was better for the Captain to let the Doc's minions give her the once over, just in case.

Colonel Samuels said nothing, but when he moved off, his heavy tread was a giveaway for a man who was not easy in his mind.

Towards the end of his shift - made even longer by the frequent appearance of Major Samuels, who appeared to be subject to an escalating bad mood ("Maybe it's his time of the month?" Airman Sadiq had offered with dry political incorrectness after one of his appearances) – Walter's shift mates had produced a small cake from its hiding place in a Tupperware container shoved under one of the consoles. Everyone was about to dig in to the rich confection with its moist yellow cake and rich pink strawberry icing, when footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. In a trice all traces of cake were hidden, and Major Samuels passed quickly through the Control Room on his way to the General's office.

They had all waited a few minutes, and just when they thought that the coast was clear, the clatter of two sets of feet coming down from the floor above could be heard.

"It's a boost for my career, sir, and quite frankly I don’t see why you don’t see that." Major Samuels was saying. "The Pentagon is where the real action is in the Air Force. I think I can make a real contribution there."

"I'm happy for you, Sparky, really I am!' replied Colonel O’Neill dryly. "And just for the record, I never wanted your position as the General's XO. I’d have preferred he handed it off to Makepeace, if it weren't for the fact that he’d be foolish enough to take it as some sort of superiority thing for the Marines. Can’t have him thinking he’s better than us! When do you report?'

'Day after tomorrow," replied Samuels. "I need to get packing and making arrangements."

And with that he moved off down the stairs towards the corridor that would take him to the elevators, but O’Neill remained.

The enlisted personnel looked warily at Colonel O’Neill. The command had not been up and running at the current staffing levels for long. He was still largely an unknown quantity. He beamed happily back at them, finally cocking his head to one side in mild inquiry.

"I hear there’s cake!" he said happily, and to their surprise, he drew a fork, hitherto unnoticed, from the pocket of his green B.D.U. jacket, and drew up a chair.

They decided to deal him in. This was their first introduction to the Colonel's preternatural, uncanny, unparalleled ability to ferret out cake anywhere on base. The General's new XO was soon a very happy man.

"Happy birthday, Wal…ter," he offered.


Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here

October 23rd, 2002


SG-1 sat in mute misery on a cluster of rocks, huddled under a single olive drab tarp, strung rather creatively with monofilament almost under the ineffectual shelter of an overhanging rock outcrop. The best that could be said about their situation was that they were no longer getting wetter. None of them could be said to be dry anymore, thanks to the apocalyptically torrential rain that was beating down all around them. It had taken a few minutes to rig the shelter, and in the meantime, even with their ponchos on, all of them had gotten pretty damp.

Major Carter sat in the middle, at the Colonel's insistence. She'd protested the special treatment, and suggested that they all take turns to sit in the middle and be somewhat sheltered from the cold wind by the bodies of the other, but the Colonel had nixed that.

"Carter, it’s physics! You, of all people, can't deny that with your light build you won't get colder faster than us guys!"

She'd tried to claim that women carried more insulating fat than men, but the Colonel was having none of it.

"The average woman, sure. Carter, you are not now, nor have you ever been, average!"

And that was that. Even with the added protection of their broad backs and some heroic efforts to hide it, she was beginning to shiver visibly.

It was supposed to have been a quick in and out, to look for a missing UAV. Shortly after launch, just after transmitting the initial telemetry that indicated that the planet had an atmosphere that was safe for human life, the transmission had cut off, but with none of the energy surge that would indicate a blast as from a Jaffa staff weapon. The geeks of the science staff were inclined to postulate that there was some kind of jamming going on, and they were eager for a team to study it. The Pentagon bean counters were always happier when they didn't have to write of another expensive UAV. This was the sort of mission that usually bypassed the base's flagship team, but General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill had agreed that this would make a good test flight for the newly reconstituted SG-1, now that Daniel's memory seemed to be largely restored, and he’d finally stopped accidentally-on-purpose irritating Jack by calling him "Jim".

So, since it was not known whether they would be able to use radio signals to locate the UAV, or even whether they would be able to transmit a code back using their GDO's, Hammond had ordered them to go through, assess the situation, take any readings that they could on the equipment that the science team and Carter would select as most likely to provide the desired data, and then proceed no more than a half day’s walk toward where they thought the UAV might be, unless they had incontestable evidence that it was irretrievable or destroyed. He'd agreed to Colonel O’Neill's suggestion that they be allowed to use "Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits!" fired at the iris instead of an iris code, and a triple burst of tripled shots as a code that they were coming in hot. Then the team had set off, happy to be getting off base and out into the universe again.

There was nothing threatening or unusual that they noted immediately after exiting the gate. The gate stood at the summit of a bare, rocky hill, and below, far enough down that the UAV could have cleared the tree tops if it exited the gate at its usual somewhat steep angle, were the usual assortment of trees. The sky was overcast, and there was no sign of the UAV. None of Carter's doohickeys seemed to be working, and neither did their radios. There was some sort of a dampening field, but without any data to analyze, Sam could not tell what it was, or how it worked.

Teal'c when asked, knew of a Goa'uld dampening field that might produce such an effect, but did not know how it was achieved, nor whether this was indeed the same type of field. He did not know if the Goa'uld form of the field was hazardous to human bodies, but he doubted that it would be so, because they were in common use on worlds where Goa’uld needed to meet to work out treaties and hammer out alliances, and many of those were places with a permanent human service staff.

Without a clear hazard to their health, no evidence of hostiles, and no clue as to where the UAV had gone, Jack had waved the hand that was not resting on his P-90 in a random direction and had ordered them off "thattaway". To no one's vast surprise, but Daniel's great disappointment, they found nothing beyond a great many trees, and no sign of inhabitants past or present, and after half a day's march, they’d found a comfortable spot to eat their lunch, and then headed back.

They were almost to the gate when the overcast had suddenly given way to a flood from the sky that would have greatly impressed Noah.

Teal'c told them, using every bit of the impressive ability to shout loudly over the din of battle that was required of a First Prime to shout above the pounding sound of the falling rain that it was "not raining felines and canines. It was raining pachyderms and cetaceans."

His team mates, pretty thoroughly wet through in spite of having ripped their parkas from their packs and donned them as fast as ever they could, recognized this as an attempt to keep up their spirits, but were too dispirited and uncomfortable to make the effort to correct him. They all trudged on, thinking with longing of warm showers followed by dry clothing.

Jack was just about to order Daniel to dial home ["You do remember how to do that don’t you, Daniel?" "I'm not sure. Remind me what that first symbol looks like again?"] when an impressive bolt of lightning had struck the gate. Everyone agreed later under the shelter of the tarp that they gate had appeared unharmed, but no words had been needed for the team to decide as one that it was too dangerous to be attempting to dial out until the storm had passed, and that standing anywhere near the gate was a pretty foolish thing to do. They had retreated (with some care and difficulty, not wanting to break any limbs or their valuable necks slipping on the wet rock) to further down the hill, and had pitched their makeshift shelter in the safest and driest place they could find. At least the feeble rock overhang and the more effective dampening effect of the tree canopy had cut the noise level enough to make conversation possible without needing to imitate a top sergeant.

There was no possibility of a fire where they were, or one of them would have to be out in the rain to accommodate it, even if it had been possible to find enough dry timber. There were (Oh. Joy.) a round of M.R.E.'s packed in the expectation that they would not be used, but there in case of unexpected events, and the team ate them with more determination than enthusiasm, knowing that they would help provide the calories necessary to keep their body temperatures up. Nobody seemed to have much to offer in the way of scintillating mealtime banter. They were all silently wondering how long storms were inclined to last on this planet, and if they were all as dramatic as this one, or whether SG-1 had just gotten lucky.

Finally Jack sighed.

"I'd arranged for cake in the commissary," he said, "but it looks like this will have to do. Plan B."

He pulled his pack closer, and reaching inside he pulled out four small shapes sealed in cellophane packets, and a took a small box of birthday candles of the sort that could be bought in any grocery store out of one of the pockets of his vest, and handing a packet (which proved to contain an individually wrapped Twinkie) to each of them, along with a candle, and when he had opened his Twinkie and put the candle in the center of the little cake, he reached back into the same pocket and pulled out a lighter, not a nice sturdy metal one like the one he’d given Skaa'ra, but a cheap plastic Bic lighter he'd bought along with the candles.

Wordlessly each of his team mates had followed his example, and carefully sheltered the candle from the wind with their free hand so Jack could light it. They all stared at the weak, flickering flames for a moment.

"Six years," Jack offered. "Happy Birthday, SG-1! To many more years together!"

He looked rather fondly at Daniel as he said this last.

"Because this is so much fun," said Daniel dryly, blowing out his candle, and watching the others follow suit.

"It beats the alternative, Daniel" said Sam through chattering teeth.

'Indeed," said Teal’c.

As one, they took a bite. No one mistook the small treat for a gourmet creation. No one had any illusions that the "creme" it was filled with could be mistaken for cream. It was finished almost as soon as it was started (especially in the case of Teal'c and O'Neill, who had both chosen to take in the whole cake in one bite), but for that moment, they were all truly having fun.

THE END

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
ansostuff
Apr. 25th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
More nice stories! I haven't read a Charlie story before so this was a treat. I loved Janet's, Walter's and the team stories. It's especially nice to get glimpses into the lives of those we don't see written about too often.
thothmes
Apr. 27th, 2011 07:56 am (UTC)
Thank you.

It was actually the Daniel and the Walter stories that I struggled with the most, Daniel's because I had such a clear little movie of it in my head, but when I tried to convert that into words I just kept getting bogged down in word choices and awkward sentences, Walter's because I had a little false trail that I was pursuing for a while until I found it was a dead end, removed it, and went back to find a better way.

Charlie's was the easy one, but then so much of my life revolves around kids that this is probably natural.
sjhw_tolerance
Apr. 25th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
What a lovely group of stories. I think Walter's was my favorite, a very real picture of what it could have been like for all of them, starting up at the SGC. Charlie's story was very poignant and sweet and of course, I cried with Sam's. Well done!
thothmes
Apr. 27th, 2011 08:10 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed these.

The idea for Sam's had a small seed in my own life. The year I turned 13 (unlike Sam, the worst thing I was dealing with at the time was the shock to the system that developing a post-pubescent shape is for a hard-core tom boy - it really made believing that I could grow up to be a little boy hard!) I received nothing but purses. I didn't use one then, I didn't use one after. At 46 or so I finally knuckled under and bought a few clasp purses that I could use on formal occasions. My entire family was apparently either completely ignorant of my interests, or trying to tell me that it was time to give up and admit I was a girl. I suspect the latter. :)

Fortunately, my husband has never been fooled, and has been totally committed to noticing that I am, in fact, a girl. Turns out that there really are benefits to being one!
tielan
Apr. 26th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
These are awesome. Heartwarming and heartbreaking by turns, and each of them very enjoyable! Thank you!
thothmes
Apr. 27th, 2011 08:35 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked them. The Daniel and the Walter ones were the ones I struggled with, and the Charlie one wrote itself, I rather suspect because so much of my day is spent with kids. This should have made the Daniel one equally easy, but with that one (the first one I came up with) the clear little movie I had in my head kept getting all tangled up in verbiage when I tried to get it translated to the page.
ziparumpazoo
Apr. 27th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
This was great. I loved Walter's birthday best (Jack really always was find of him, wasn't he:), followed closely by the team's anniversary :)
Thank you so much!
thothmes
Apr. 27th, 2011 08:40 am (UTC)
You are very welcome. I'm glad you liked them.

Of course Jack was fond of Walter. Male bonding over cake! Still, as late as Season Four's 2010, he has trouble getting out his name. ;)
aurora_novarum
Apr. 29th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
Awww, very nice.

I found the voice in Charlie's worked very well. You had the language down great for his point of view with just enough hint of the future (peeking where he didn't belong). Plus his child observations of Jack post-POW.

Janet's was sweet and bittersweet. I think my favorite touch was her packing to go and the expression on her coffee mug.

Shau'ri's was breathtaking. I loved the world building you did with Abydos and her strength. Interesting twist how you turned the canon of Kasuf gifting the bride to Daniel as being Shau'ri's plan all along.

Walter's everyday man view was funny. I liked how he and the other gateroom staff had their issues with Samuels and you wove in the other threads of Janet's arrival and SG-1 missions.

Sara's was a fantastic post-Lazarus tag. I love the fact that her dad was still there and just how she dealt with the cake and her life now.

And as for the last, rainy teamy goodness is still great teamy goodness.

Thanks for all the wonderful stories!
thothmes
Apr. 30th, 2011 05:59 am (UTC)
Charlie's really was the easiest of all for me, in part because the voice was so easy to assume, because I have spent so much of my life with kids, as an older sibling with five much younger sibs, as a swim teacher and counselor, as a French teacher in an elementary school, as a tutor, and as a mom. I spend much of my day trying to think the way they think.

With Shau're's I was trying to honor that strength that women develop if they are intelligent and determined and working within the framework of a very traditional society. There is a book written by a social worker called The Women of Deh Koh about women in a pre-Revolution Iranian village. One of the women, a widow, wants to do something, and the men in her life refuse to let her. It would be unseemly. She does not defy them. She just starts going up to the roof every evening, and in loud tones that the rest of the village is sure to hear, she starts wailing about her widowhood, and how she cannot do this thing she wants to do. Alas! No! She cannot do it! It would be unseemly! Her male relatives say so! Pretty soon the men in her life, mortified by this, cave, and she is allowed to do what she wanted. My mother and I both read this section and laughed in delighted recognition, because if the same situation had arisen in my stepfather's small Palestinian village, or the village where we stayed for my mom's dig in Greece, clever women would have handled the same problem in the same way. In seemingly oppressive situations, strong and clever women have been navigating the system to improve their own lives, and the lives of those they love since time immemorial.

I think that Sara is just as strong as Jack, but in a quieter way. She had to be.

I'm glad you liked these.
rdamel
May. 1st, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
Ditto to everything Aurora just said!

I cried a bit at the end of Charlie's, but was warmed by all the "good Dad" things about Jack, which all ring true to me.

Thanks so much for sharing all of these good stories!

Melissa M.
thothmes
May. 2nd, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, when push comes to shove (with the single exception of when Daniel was dying of radiation, but then Jack has a particular problem with losing any of his kids - regardless of age - to death) Jack is a very good dad to his "kids" and to any actual kids (Cassie, Loren, Reetu Charlie, Merrin, Skaa'ra, you name 'em) that come within his orbit. That's what makes Jack's story so tragic. I think Charlie had wonderful and devoted parents who made a great life for him, keeping him as safe and sheltered as was possible given the things happening in Jack's career right up until the very last day.

Glad you enjoyed these fics.
aelfgyfu_mead
May. 1st, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
You did particularly well with Teal'c's voice (and his uncertainty and slight confusion). I enjoyed the unexpected in most of these stories--and I couldn't figure out whose was the last birthday!
thothmes
May. 1st, 2011 08:10 am (UTC)
and I couldn't figure out whose was the last birthday!

As you are a close reader of texts by profession, I have to assume that you mean that you could not figure out whose it was until Jack made it explicit by wishing the team a happy birthday! It was intentional that the reader be wondering until then, because in my mind, at least, Jack was the only one who had noted that it was the anniversary of the day his team was formed, and I wanted the reader to join in the rest of the team's surprise (not that they are about to admit to Jack that they hadn't noted it!). I'm assuming that if Jack was summoned in on his birthday (October 20th) that it is fair to assume that SG-1 was formed (at least in Jack's mind, if not yet in Hammond's or the Pentagon, since they would have had to wait for official approval for Teal'c to be counted as one of the team) some time in the days following. I chose the 23rd, because I'm the author, and I can.

I'm glad you enjoyed Teal'c's. He's always such fun to write, which is always such a delightful surprise when I reflect on how when I first started writing for SG-1 I feared that I might end up among the masses that simply mention he is there and occasionally throw him an "Indeed!" to play with, lest he get too bored!
aelfgyfu_mead
May. 1st, 2011 11:48 am (UTC)
Yes, I did see where Jack said it was the team's birthday; I just read the whole section up to then wondering who was left to have a birthday!
thothmes
May. 1st, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was what I assumed. You are an academic, bright, and your specialty depends on close reading and interpretation of texts. My training was in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. You don't rise to the PhD level in these fields without being pretty good at that.

So basically, what you are telling me is that the section functioned precisely as I wanted it to do.

Yay! My work here is done (see icon)!
sg_fignewton
Jun. 15th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy to be reccing this one!

My favorites are a toss-up between Teal'c's and Walter's (interestingly, both of them from an outside perspective looking in), but I also loved Sha'uri's (she's always been strong). And Charlie's. And Sam's (that five dollar bill!), and Daniel's (good people in his life, as there would HAVE to be), and Jack's (love the way the scene from COTG sneaks up on us!) and all of them, really, leading up to TEAM BIRTHDAY! (::squishes them::)
thothmes
Jun. 16th, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
A rec! As always I am honored.

Yeah. I'm always a little bothered by the Daniel was in an abusive foster home stories that are out there. It's not just that as a foster parent I feel that my ox is being gored. I recognize that the bad foster homes are the ones that make the press, and good ones toil in obscurity. It just doesn't fit with Daniel's personality. Although he is a little wary with his nearest and dearest (his parents did die and leave him behind, after all, and Nick wouldn't take him), he trusts in the kindness and goodness and humanity of people he doesn't know, over and over. He is sure he can reach them and make them understand. If his experience of moving in with strangers had resulted in abuse, then that would not be true.

Team birthday is there in part because of you. I couldn't do a gen piece on birthdays (plural) and not do a team birthday! You would be disappointed at the missed opportunity.

***********
Edited for a totally extraneous i that made its way into the spelling of one word.

Edited at 2011-06-16 06:23 am (UTC)
sg_fignewton
Jun. 16th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Oh, pre-series Daniel. Adored by those that believe that there's not enough ANGST and DRAMA in the poor boy's life! ::rolls eyes::

I love how you put it: he trusts in the kindness and goodness and humanity of people he doesn't know, over and over. Because yes, even if he was the saint so many of those authors claim him to be, he would never be able to trust if his childhood had been so abusive.

(And yes, despite all that, Daniel never quite trusts that people aren't going to go away eventually. Perhaps that's why he goes away himself, first.)

If you haven't seen it, this Canon vs fanon on pre-series Daniel might interest you.

Very honored to know I pushed for more teamy goodness, because it's always a good thing! :D
zinke
Jun. 15th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely lovely!
thothmes
Jun. 16th, 2011 06:20 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love imagining and playing with the small moments that the sweep of the show never has the time to show us.
sentientcitizen
Jul. 1st, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
What a great series of stories. I tried to pick a favourite, but no joy - they're all excellent!
thothmes
Jul. 2nd, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
Oh, what a lovely compliment! I'm so glad you enjoyed these.
loriel_eris
Jul. 22nd, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
This was both adorable and heartbreaking.
thothmes
Jul. 23rd, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
Thank you. I keep telling myself that for all of them (except Charlie) it gets better from the moment we see.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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A Few Words from the Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.

-The Maxims of Ptahotep

~~~~~~~~~~


In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.

- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

~~~~~~~~~~


But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.


-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

~~~~~~~~~~


To Know the Dark


To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.


-Wendell Berry

~~~~~~~~~~


Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.

-Robert Burns

~~~~~~~~~~


Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui


Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.


-Ch'ien Ch'i

~~~~~~~~~~


Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.


-Pindar

~~~~~~~~~~


Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.


-Nathalia Crane

~~~~~~~~~~


I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.


-Samuel Coleridge

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