A wet general is not a happy general; trust me on this one. But in my own defense I have to say: for crying out loud, how was I supposed to know Hammond would walk into Daniel's office right then? I mean, he NEVER goes in there. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times George has visited our neck of the woods, so to speak--Daniel's office included. And I'd planned it all so carefully, arranged everything just so, so that I'd catch Daniel at the exact moment of his return to his office from the mess hall. It should have been totally SWEET.
Oh, yeah, it was gonna be a classic O'Neill prank, executed with finesse and perfect timing by yours truly...and then Hammond showed up out of freaking nowhere, and the shit most assuredly hit the fan.
"Hey, O'Neill! I think you missed a spot."
Colonel Phillipe's amused snicker cuts into my ruminations, and I glare up into his snarky, smiling face with what I hope is bland indifference. But I've got a feeling the bland expression in my eyes gives the lie to the relaxed slouch of my body against the side of Hammond's car; and that speculation is borne out by the dangerous tone in my voice when I make my reply.
"How very...helpful...of you to point that out, Pheepee; I'll be sure to put you up for a commendation for that one," I drawl oh-so-casually. There's a smile--of sorts--on my face, but it certainly isn't one of amusement.
"Just trying to help you out, man," Phillipe grins, unrepentant. "That IS the General's prized vehicle you're scrubbing, after all, and you're already pretty much up Shit Creek without a paddle at this point where Hammond's concerned. Very mature stunt you pulled, Jack; I'm impressed."
"Shut up, Adrian," I growl, shooting my fiercest glare his way; flinging his arms up in an exaggerated 'Don't shoot!' gesture, Phillipe--thorn in my side, arch-nemesis, current bane of my miserable existence--smiles a toothy smile and adds with mock sincerity:
"Like I said, just trying to help. If you clean Hammond's car all bright and shiny, maybe he'll forgive you for dumping that bucket of cold water on his head. God, that was quite a fiasco, wasn't it? Priceless, Jack, just priceless. The security camera even caught it on video! The base will be talking about it for months."
Cackling like an escaped mental patient, Phillipe strolls by me with an insolent little salute that has me gnashing my teeth with the frustrated desire to aim the wet, heavy sponge I'm holding at the back of his neck and let it fly with deadly force. But it isn't to be; assaulting one officer today has pretty much filled my quota, I guess. Two would just be overkill.
"See you later, Jack," Phillipe calls with insane good cheer, and I snarl after him rather lamely:
"Not if I see you coming, first. And DON'T call me Jack!"
As I turn back to the job at hand, I hear myself muttering petulantly, "Only my FRIENDS call me Jack; not that I'll have many of those left after today." And as I rub grudgingly at a particularly stubborn smudge of greasy dirt on the hood of the General's car, a voice filled with quiet humor speaks up just behind me.
"Talking to yourself again, Jack?"
"Oh...uh, hey, Daniel," I mutter, infuriated with myself as I feel my ears burning with discomfited embarrassment in the presence of my intended victim. "Come to gloat?" I add snarkily, and turn around just in time to see Daniel's serene nod.
"Yes, actually," he replies, using the same, scholarly tone he employs when discussing some esoteric tribal custom or the discovery of a musty old papyrus in some forgotten tomb. It's only because I know him so well that I'm able to detect the very slight, totally sneaky gleam of supreme enjoyment that lurks like a predatory shark beneath the tranquil surface of his gaze.
"So," he continues, sliding his hands into his pockets and studying Hammond's car with an air of casual curiosity. "So...did you have to go all the way to the General's house to get his car?"
Everyone on base knows that Hammond rarely drives himself to work; he usually gets picked up by an assigned driver and brought to the base in a government car set aside just for his use.
"Just part of my 'punishment,' as you well know," I return sulkily, turning back to my scrubbing of Hammond's off-duty vehicle. "He tossed me his keys and ordered me to go get his car, drive it back here, and park it in the main employee lot so EVERYONE leaving the base would be able to see me washing it."
"Hmm. Tough; that's pretty tough," Daniel murmurs behind me, and I growl at him over my shoulder.
"Oh, that's just the beginning, Dannyboy." I know how he hates to be called that, and I'm just snarky enough to do it now. "Yep; once THIS phase of my punishment is done, I have the dubious honor of reworking a dozen of my mission reports that Hammond has suddenly decided don't pass muster. PLUS I'm grounded from the Officer's Club for a month."
Daniel makes some noncommital sound behind me, and I decide that I will NOT turn around and catch his feeble efforts to hold in his amusement at my predicament; if I see ONE more smug face around here today...
"But I haven't even gotten to the REALLY awful part of my punishment," I continue doggedly, a hint of abject misery teetering in my voice despite my manly efforts to swallow it back down. "Hammond's also ordered me to present myself to Doc Fraiser for a complete physical; after all, as the good General proclaimed rather balefully to me--once he'd changed into dry clothes, that is--any officer who is also the commander of the SGC's premiere exploration unit must have SOME illness brewing to have caused said officer to behave in such a juvenile fashion. That's exactly how he put it, Daniel. Now I ask you--when do I ever behave like a kid?" The silence that greets my aggrieved query is immense, and I turn to scowl blackly into Daniel's studiedly nonchalant face.
"A complete exam from Fraiser, huh?" he murmurs sympathetically, and in this instance there really is empathy in his eyes. In fact, something like a shudder of superstitious dread goes through him as I glumly relate how Hammond called Janet in and ordered her right in front of me to 'Give Colonel O'Neill the works, Dr; check him out with a fine-toothed comb, head to toe.'
Geez, even now my nuts are drawing up and trying to reabsorb into my body just thinking about what constitutes 'the works' in Janet's book. Her evil, sadistic, black-voodoo-magic medical book of torture...! Did I mention she's EVIL?
"Well, uh, I just came over to offer you a little moral support, Jack," Daniel speaks up helpfully, crossing his arms over his chest and grimacing thoughtfully as he watches me swish soapy water over the windshield of Hammond's car. "Sam and Teal'c thought I should just let you suffer alone, and that of us all, I especially shouldn't be nice to you; I mean, it WAS me that bucket of water was meant for, after all."
"Oh, for crying out loud; those two need to get lives, already," I snap in exasperation, then turn with my wet sponge to level an accusing finger in Daniel's direction. "I already apologized to you something like seven times; and besides, I know for a fact that YOU were the one who put the peanut butter in my cap just before we were gonna leave for P2X-whatever the heck it was. So don't go playing your wounded, innocent victim role with ME, bub. You archaeologists are sneaky bastards," I add with the slightest note of admiration in my voice.
"They're just trying to look out for me," Daniel replies, a secretive little smile playing around the edges of his lips as he relives the whole peanut butter episode. "But I told them you've suffered enough; heck, once they hear about the whole 'complete physical' thing, even Teal'c will forgive you. That's really ROUGH, man."
"Yeah...well, I guess it WAS kinda bad, what I did; the look on Hammond's face when that water spilled all over him will haunt my nightmares for months to come," I admit grudgingly. "Damn, I think I'd rather go up against ten System Lords rather than face--ever again--one sopping wet, homicidally pissed-off General . Do you think I'll EVER get off his shit list, Daniel?" I sigh resignedly now, and Daniel shrugs and gives me a small but reassuring smile back.
"Oh, he'll get over it, Jack," my friend murmurs agreeably, stepping up just close enough to point out a dirt spot I missed on the hood. "But I have a feeling your ass might be pretty sore by the time the General gets completely done chewing on it."
"You know what, Daniel?" I ask as I return to the job of making George's car sparkle like new. "You really know how to cheer a guy up."
"Well, if THAT didn't work, then maybe this will," Daniel replies with a smile. "How about, once you've survived your 'official reprimand,' you let Sam and Teal'c and me take you out to dinner somewhere? By then they'll both be ready to forgive you for trying to pull yet another asinine prank. And besides," he adds conspiratorially, a downright devilish glint coming to his eyes. "Besides, it will give ME the chance to have you squirming in dread all evening, wondering just what form my quite-jusifiable revenge will take."
"That is SO not fair," I huff indignantly. "Revenge only works if the revenger was actually gotten by the revengee...and since not even one tiny hair of your head got the least bit damp, by rights you can't touch me."
"Sure, Jack," Daniel replies calmly. "Sure." His tone is just a tad TOO sincere, and I groan silently to myself as I realize that truly my punishment has just begun.
"Oh, hey, we'll get back to you about the whole dinner thing...once you're through with the physical, that is. Catch you later, Jack," Daniel says. And as he strolls off across the parking lot, waving politely to the gaggle of highly amused soldiers standing to one side and observing my labors, I sigh and think to myself that if I'm really lucky there will be a massive Goa'uld invasion on some far-off ball of mud that I can slink away to for a little light relief from the REAL torture lying in wait for me in Janet's little kingdom of horrors.
(Note to self: Buy Hammond a really nice birthday gift this year; REALLY nice. Aw, Jeez, and it was such a LITTLE bucket of water...)