Bearing Witness 6
For a Friend
For Lois for the adorable pictures and the challenge.
"Come on, Jack, it's thirty minutes tops out of your day."
I look down at my mini-archeologist and shake my head firmly. "Daniel, I can't do it. I've got this meeting with Hammond in oh, look at that ten minutes ago. You'll just have to wait till tomorrow." I think about my schedule for tomorrow and amend my promise accordingly, "Or till the day after. It's not that big a deal. Blair won't care when you send the book. It'll be two days later than you told him. No biggie."
Daniel's almost dancing in place now like a demented puppy on speed, all big blue eyes and trembling chin. "It does matter, Jack," he tell me forcefully. "it's his birthday oh, look at that," he says, in an unfair but accurate mimicry of me, "today. How would you feel if you thought I'd forgotten your birthday?"
I sigh then crouch down and put a hand on Daniel's shoulder to hold him in place so I have at least half a chance of looking into his face. "In that case, it will already be late so another day or two won't matter."
"Fine," he replies sulkily, slinking out from under my hand. "I'll get Sam or Teal' c to take me into town."
"Teal'c's gone to the Land Of Light to see Rya'c and Carter's off on downtime with Doc Fraiser," I remind him.
"Walter?" he ventures, hope obviously springing eternal.
"Will be at the meeting with the General and me. Ah!" I raise a hand to stop the expected inquiry. "Siler's busy too. Daniel, just give it a rest already. If you want to, you can call Blair, tell him his birthday present's going to be delayed a day or two-"
"Because my keeper won't take me into town so I can use his credit card to buy a book," Daniel replied sarcastically. "No thanks, I'll pass."
"Can't you use PayPal?" I ask, offering a hint of hope and sidling towards the door at the same time.
Daniel shakes his head mournfully and I suddenly get the feeling there's more to this little caper than just buying a book for Blair's birthday.
"He hasn't got a PayPal account," Daniel replies, his eyes suddenly serious. "I mean," he goes on, raising a small five year old hand in the air, "that's ridiculous in this day and age, right? But not everyone keeps up with the technological age."
I narrow my eyes and step closer to my escape route, the door. "What else do you want to go into town for?" I ask.
Daniel has managed to perfect the kicked puppy look ever since he was downsized and he does a wonderful job of it now. "Nothing," he says emphatically. "I just wanted to get a present for my friend who just happened to save my life by pulling me out of a raging river, but hey, Jack, you're a busy man. I'll work it out."
The devil in me can't help calling his bluff. "Okay," I say, "see you when I get back. If you call Blair, tell him and Jim I said hi."
I head out the door hearing Daniel muttering what are obviously epithets in a foreign tongue. That's my little genius. Five years old and he can swear in twenty three languages. Can't sign his own credit card receipts though. The natives might get a mite restless at that, not to mention suspicious. I break into a trot to catch the open elevator. Daniel will get over it. He always does eventually once he's sure I've suffered as long as possible for my transgression, that is.
The meeting with Hammond was as boring as most budget meetings are. Boring enough that I regretted not making the time to take Daniel into town. A little shopping trip would probably do us both good. Ever since we came back from Cascade he's decided he actually enjoys playing sometimes, likes letting the five year old in him out for an hour or so. I bless Rosie's kind heart every time I see my kid swinging happily at the park or digging an enormous hole in the dirt that he swears goes all the way to Australia.
"Everything okay, Jack?"
I turn my attention back to Hammond. He's looking at me with kind eyes and I realize I hadn't heard a word he's said for the past few minutes. "Yeah, fine," I say. "Sorry, sir, just thinking about something I have to do later."
"We're almost done here," he says, perusing the file in front of him.
There's a knock on the door and Walter pokes his head around the door. "Sorry to disturb you, sirs, but there's something of a disturbance going on in the garage."
I shudder inwardly as I realize he's looking directly at me as he speaks. "Daniel?" I ask.
Walter nods. "He's um " He smiles broadly. "It might be best if you go down and see for yourself, sir."
"Sir?" I look at Hammond and he nods and stands up. "I'll come with you," he says. "I'm rather curious about what our young archeologist is up to now too."
I can hear Daniel's young voice before we even open the door to the garage. He's calling out something but I can't quite make out the words. Finger held to my lips, I push the door open as quietly as possible and the three of us step out and move to where we can see Daniel without him seeing us.
"Get your ice-cold water here," he yells at the top of his not unsubstantial five year old lungs. "It's gonna be a hot drive home. Ice-cold water, just twenty five cents a cup."
An airman named Rule steps up to the car on which Daniel has set up his trading post on the hood. "Hey, Doc," the man says cheerfully, "give me two cups." He flips a dollar note at Daniel and tells him to keep the change and Daniel grins broadly at him. "So what you doing this for?" Rule asks him. "Colonel O'Neill stopped your allowance?"
Daniel glowers up at him. "I have my own money," he replies, his child's voice doing its obvious best to sound dignified. "I just have a temporary cash flow problem. You see," he beckons with his a finger and Rule bends down so Daniel can speak conspiratorially to him, "I need to get into town to buy a gift for my friend who saved my life in Cascade, but Jack's too busy to take me so I thought I'd catch a cab but I don't have any cash on me."
Rule straightens up, downs the water in a couple of large gulps then grins down at Daniel. "Heck, I can drive you into town, Doc."
"Really?" Daniel's face lightens briefly then he looks morosely up at Rule. "I can't sign my credit card receipts myself," he says so softly I have to strain to hear him. "I need Jack to come with me so I could use his credit card."
Rule looks perplexed. "Well, why were you going to catch a cab then?" he asks. The same thought had occurred to me and I listen carefully for the answer.
"I was going to go to Sam's house and ask her to take me. She and Janet are hanging out at her house doing girl stuff." His nose wrinkles a little disdainfully at that I can't help smiling. "And they love shopping so they'll probably be glad to take me."
"Well, I'll take you," Rule says, patting Daniel's shoulder.
Hammond nudges me forward and I step out from our hiding place. "Thanks, Corporal, but I'm just leaving now so I'll give Daniel a lift."
Daniel spins, his eyes wide with surprise. He sees Hammond behind me. "What about your meeting?"
Hammond laughs out loud. "It can wait," he says. "Some things are more important than meetings, son."
Daniel smiles back at him. "You're the best boss in the whole world," he says ingenuously and the next minute he's in Hammond's arms, hugging him enthusiastically around the neck.
I think I can see tears in the General's eyes but he turns away too quickly for me to be sure. Instead, he hugs Daniel back then puts him on the ground. "And you're the best archeologist on my team, Daniel. Go now, both of you. I'll see you tomorrow."
Daniel races toward the door, yelling over his shoulder at me to hurry up and go get my stuff so we can get to town before the book for Blair is gone.
I follow, mouthing a thank you at Hammond as I go. Daniel's right, he is the best boss in the world.
The End, done, finished, there ain't no more.