Rating: PG-13 for Naughty Words
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Characters: Sam, Daniel, Sam & Daniel; could be interpreted as pre-het
Spoilers: Spoilers through 9x01, "Avalon"
Word Count: 3,500
Written For: groovekittie
Prompt: The Wonder Twins have to work on an Ancient Device they've discovered.
Author's Notes/Summary: Er, I cite creative license as to whether the device is really Ancient. Thanks to vivider for the read-through; hope everyone enjoys!
Sam doesn't usually like to abuse her military training by shooting people in the head, especially not for pure idiocy, but every time Johnson opens his goddamn mouth her fingers start itching for the trigger.
The fact that they've been waiting for the weather on P7X-929 to clear for the past five hours hasn't helped any; five hours of standing in the Gate Room, then the conference room (and the conference room, and the conference room some more), hasn't been good for anyone's nerves. Lieutenant Kelly keeps yawning and rubbing his eyes, Sergeant Jimenez has been tapping his foot for the past two hours, Avery looks like she's about to fall asleep, and Johnson – Johnson keeps making comments about 'babysitting' and 'civilians' and 'scientists' like they're the kinds of words that get your mouth washed out with soap.
Daniel, of course, is engrossed in a book. Sam envies him, but all her research materials are in her backpack and they need to be ready to go as soon as the weather clears. While Daniel could probably get away with going through the Gate with a book tucked under his arm, Sam needs both hands for her P-90 – assuming she can remember not to shoot Johnson.
The claxons sound and Harriman sticks his head in. "You've got a go," he says, and that's all they need, they're up and on their feet and in the Gate Room within seconds. The Gate is still dialing, so Daniel takes the opportunity to lean down and readjust his sidearm holster.
Johnson rolls his eyes and mutters, "Civilians," and if he says that one more time -
But Daniel just gives the wall in front of him a deadpan, long-suffering Look and manages to finish without resorting to homicide.
The seventh chevron locks, and the wormhole engages. Sam looks at it for a long moment, as Daniel comes up to stand next to her.
"It's been a long ride, hasn't it," he says quietly.
She smiles at him, briefly. "Yeah. But fun."
"Definitely better than NASA."
"What, you don't like space suits?"
"Not enough quantum mechanics."
They smile at each other. Then Johnson says, "Are we going or what?"
Daniel's smile doesn't fade, but instead turns into a sort-of grimace. "I'm a civilian, so I wouldn't get court-martialed for shooting him, right?"
Sam considers this for a minute, then pats him on the shoulder. "Let's consider that Plan B."
The thunderstorms are roiling in the distance by the time they've set up camp on P7X-929. The ground is sodden, and some of the trees near the camp have been cracked open by lightning.
"Damn," says Jimenez, picking up a fist-sized chunk of hail.
"There's no chance of seeing one of those while we're here, is there?" Kelly resettles his grip on his gun, clutching it closer towards him.
"Doubtful," Sam says. "The fronts have moved on – I'd say we're good for at least a little while."
Kelly doesn't look very comforted.
"The artifact's – what, five miles that way?" Daniel points vaguely to his left.
"Why the hell are we setting up camp five miles away from the damn thing?" Johnson says.
"Any further and we'd be out of radio contact with the Gate, sir," says Avery from over her shoulder as she pitches the tent she'll be sharing with Sam.
"And because there's fresh water and shelter here, while the artifact is on top of a cliff – completely exposed," says Sam, frowning. She doesn't add, And because I said so, but it's pretty close.
Johnson looks at her, and his upper lip raises in a sneer. "Yes, ma'am." He stalks off to dig the latrine.
Sam stares after him incredulously for a long moment, until Daniel shuts his book with a snap. "Should we go take a look at it before dark?" he asks.
Sam looks up at the sky – still a few hours before nightfall. "Yeah, okay." She turns to Kelly, Avery, and Jimenez. "We'll make radio contact every twenty minutes. If we don't answer in twenty-five, try and contact us. If that still doesn't work, assume the worst and alert the SGC."
Kelly looks slightly green; Sam remembers that this is his first offworld mission.
The terrain isn't too bad for a hike; mostly even, with a couple rocky rough spots. Their camp – and the Gate – are on the same plateau as the artifact, but within ten minutes of walking the forest has thinned into grass. The ruins are ahead in the distance, a smudge on the horizon.
"There's a word for the smell after a thunderstorm," says Daniel. "Well, the smell of rain on dry ground in general – petrichor."
"Didn't sound like Latin. Not enough syllables." Sam smiles.
They walk in silence for another half a mile, until Daniel asks, "So when does your plane leave?"
"Tuesday," says Sam. "Morning."
"Need a ride?"
"I was just going to take a cab – Area 51's paying my travel expenses." She tries a cheeky grin, but it fades. "It's hard to - I mean, look at us. Eight years and what finally splits us up?"
"Boredom," says Daniel.
"Exactly," says Sam. "Jesus."
"Who'da thunk," Daniel murmurs.
"Still – Atlantis," says Sam.
"Yeah, Atlantis," Daniel agrees.
"I'll tell you one thing – from what I heard about the canteen there, you'll never get homesick for Jell-O."
"God help me," says Daniel, a small, crooked smile on his face.
"And give McKay a lemon for me while you're there, will you?"
They walk the rest of the way in a companionable silence; Sam notices that Daniel hardly breaks a sweat, and remembers with faint nostalgia the days he was just a floppy-haired linguist slash anthropologist slash general space monkey.
The ruins are a heavy black stone, with a matte finish; Sam puts one hand against one crumbling wall and feels a fine grain, like old sandpaper. There are a few standing stones stacked together, not-quite-circling the remains of the one-roomed structure.
"There are some glyphs over here," says Daniel from the nearest stack. Sam walks out what used to be a door and joins him crouching by the base.
"Ancient?" she asks.
"In the sense of very old, definitely," says Daniel. "In the Ascended, holier-than-thou Gatebuilders sense...I don't know." He frowns. "Maybe."
Sam raises her eyebrows. "Stumped already?"
"Crossed wires," Daniel murmurs. He clears his throat, and continues, all business. "In structure each individual collection of stones is similar to the Inuit inuksuit, but they're usually found alone...and there doesn't seem to be any order to where they're placed."
Sam glances around, from stack of rock to stack of rock; four altogether, arranged like a lopsided cross with two clustered in the center. She looks from the one closest to her to the one to its left; the next stone is almost directly on the other side of the shack from the one Daniel stands by. "It's a spiral," says Sam suddenly.
"What?" asks Daniel, looking up.
"Like a nautilus shell," says Sam. "A golden spiral, with the building in the middle." She takes out a scanner, and turns it on. There's an energy signature – probably the same one the MALP detected – emanating from the shack. She frowns. "The energy signature's coming from in there – " she points vaguely – "but there's nothing in there, I checked."
"Maybe this inscription could help," says Daniel, squinting at it.
Sam smirks, and Daniel raises his eyebrows at her. "You're going to need bifocals," she explains. "I just got this image of you as a crotchety old man. Not a whole lot different from how you are now, actually."
Daniel rolls his eyes, but he's grinning slightly.
"Do you have stuff to take rubbings? We should head back to camp soon."
"Back to Major Misogynist," Daniel mutters. "Wonderful."
"I'll remind him who's in command if it comes to that," says Sam grimly.
"He is," Daniel points out. He pulls off his pack and takes out some wax paper and charcoal. "You're here as a scientist first, remember?"
"Doesn't mean I'm not a colonel," Sam says. "Also, I could probably kick his ass."
"Only if I get to watch."
Jimenez draws first watch that night, but it ends up not mattering – Johnson apparently doesn't feel comfortable letting a scientist or linguist take watch, and insists on tacking two hours onto everyone else's watches so they don't have to. Avery rolls her eyes, but Kelly looks halfway between terrified and relieved.
"Is Lieutenant Kelly okay?" Sam asks Avery in the privacy of their tent as they unroll their sleeping bags.
Avery snickers. "Someone may have told him that offworld teams that back SG-1 up have a tendency to not come back," she says. "And then told him how many times Jackson's died in the line of duty. 'Sides, he's from Kansas." She shrugs, as if that's enough.
"I see," says Sam, her mouth very dry. "Well. Goodnight."
The fact that the tents are pitched on mud makes the sleeping bag feel like a feather bed, but for some reason Sam can't sleep.
"Any luck?" asks Sam, pouring Daniel some coffee; Kelly gratefully ceded the last hour of the morning watch to her in favor of a nap, and the coffee is hot and strong.
"Hmm? Oh, thanks. And no. Still gibberish." He sighs. "Maybe you can have some more luck with the science part."
"That's the thing," says Sam. "The energy signature...it's familiar. I know I've seen it before. I just can't remember where."
"You'll figure it out," says Daniel. "Breakfast or hiking first?"
"Breakfast," says Sam immediately. "For one thing, we should wait until someone else is awake."
"Or we could leave them," suggests Daniel, but very quietly.
"Unfair to Jimenez, Avery, and Kelly," Sam replies, shooting a dirty look at Johnson's tent.
Jimenez is the next awake, and once he's returned from the latrine Sam and Daniel head back to the ruins.
The morning is spent in frustrated silence. Sam resorts to digging up the floor of the hut in search of an artifact, but to no avail, and she and Daniel return to the camp for lunch without success. Sam and Daniel sit on one side of the small clearing, Avery, Johnson, Jimenez, and Kelly on the other, within hearing distance.
"It's a variant of Ancient, I know that much," says Daniel over his MRE, "but it's different enough in writing style and grammar – not to mention spelling, dear God, it's like trying to read a five-year-old's interpretation of Chaucer, or maybe Jack's – to make it really nasty."
"I thought this is what you live for," says Sam, grinning.
"It's nice to have a challenge," Daniel agrees. "But I'd forgotten how annoying it is not to know everything."
Johnson snorts, and Sam grimaces.
"Anyway, I've picked out a few words here and there – 'pulsavat,' 'multus', 'tampestus', which I'm pretty sure is 'storm' - "
Sam frowns, and then it clicks and she nearly drops her MRE. "Daniel – Medrona!"
"The Medrona Touchstone – that's where I recognized the energy signature, it was in the NID files we recovered on it."
"You think the artifact is manipulating the weather?"
Sam nods. "And if it is – Daniel, there's nobody to change the settings any more. The fact that there's an energy signature at all means that it should be on, but if it's on - "
"Then there shouldn't have been a thunderstorm," says Daniel, frowning. "The weather should be constant."
"Exactly. Unless it's not working. And even then, the energy signature is constant, meaning whatever signal it was putting out when the MALP came through is what it's putting out now – "
"If we don't turn it off, there's going to be another storm," finishes Daniel.
"You wanna scrub the mission?" demands Johnson, standing up.
Sam shakes her head. "There are no signs of a storm at this point - I think we have at least time to check out the ruins one more time."
Johnson relaxes slightly.
"But you all will have to come with us," says Sam. "We don't have a lot of time – we need all the hands we can get."
"For what?" asks Jimenez.
Sam flashes a grin at Daniel. "Ever study archeology, Sergeant?"
"No, ma'am," says Jimenez.
"Well, there's a first time for everything."
The hike is easier the second time, since most of the mud has dried to solid dirt, but Johnson grumbles the whole way anyway. Sam thinks longingly of Plan B.
"What does it look like?" asks Avery. "The artifact, I mean."
"We don't know," Sam says. "We're just going to be digging, looking for anything out of the ordinary. The power signature definitely came out of the ruins, but there was nothing visible inside them."
"When you say 'we're going to be digging,'" begins Jimenez.
"I plan to help, yes," Sam says.
"But can't you use the scanner?" asks Avery. "Like - I dunno, like a Geiger counter?"
Sam raises her eyebrows. "I didn't think of that," she says. "But it's a good idea. It would need a few modifications - "
"Oh," says Kelly, very quietly.
"What?" says Daniel.
"Oh, shit," says Kelly, a bit louder.
Sam turns to look at him; he's looking back behind them, over the now-distant forest.
And the giant line of turbulent, roiling cloud above it.
"Oh," says Daniel.
"We got those back home," says Kelly distantly. "They always meant tornadoes. Lightning. Hail, once."
"Shit," says Johnson, scrubbing his face with one hand. "Shit."
"We have to keep going," says Sam firmly.
"Are you fucking insane?" demands Johnson. "Look at that thing! We have to get out of here!"
"The Stargate's thirty miles in that direction, sir," says Jimenez, pointing at the storm. "I'm not sure if that's a good idea."
"Did I ask your opinion?" Johnson asks. "I'm pretty sure I didn't."
"We haven't got a choice," Sam says. "Do you really want to chance thirty miles of hiking in hard, muddy terrain in conditions like those?"
"We gotta get back," Johnson repeats. "Come on, we're going."
Sam narrows her eyes. "Stand down, Major."
Johnson snorts. "Or what?"
"That's an order," says Sam.
"What'll you do? Science me to death?" Johnson rolls his eyes. "I didn't realize they gave out promotions for scientific breakthroughs. God, they send me out here with three idiots and two civilians – and you! Not only a civilian pretending to be an officer, but a goddamn girl! Jesus Christ!"
"Daniel?" says Sam. "Plan B."
"Gladly," says Daniel, drawing his zat and stunning Johnson with perhaps more relish than necessary.
Sam takes a deep breath – finally, quiet. "Let it be noted that Major Johnson was not only ignoring orders from a superior officer, acting insubordinate, and generally being a pain in the ass, but attempted to unnecessarily risk the lives of everyone on this offworld team."
"Shit," Kelly repeats.
"Jimenez and Avery," Sam continues, "can you two carry him to the ruins? We're not far now."
"We can't just leave him?" asks Avery hopefully.
"We don't leave our people behind," says Sam firmly. "And he still counts as 'our people' – until he gets himself fired."
"Can't happen soon enough," Daniel mutters.
"Let's go," Sam orders.
The hike is technically more difficult after that, seeing as Avery and Jimenez have to lug Johnson with them, but it feels like a weight's been lifted off Sam's shoulders.
They dump Johnson unceremoniously by one of the things Daniel insists on calling inuksuit, and settle in, Avery, Jimenez, and Kelly shoveling, Sam tinkering with the scanner, and Daniel attempting to translate. None of them comment on the slow-moving cloud inching towards them.
It only takes half an hour for Sam to get the refinements necessary for the scanner done, and when she does, she lets out a loud "Ha!"
"Good news?" calls Daniel.
"Hopefully," Sam replies, scrambling to her feet. "Avery, Jimenez, Kelly, get out for a second."
They do, and Sam turns on the scanner. The indications from where she's standing are that the energy signature is originating from inside the ruins; she moves towards them, and the scanner reacts accordingly. Another two steps and she's at the doorway and the energy signature is so strong she thinks she's standing on top of it – another step and the signal weakens.
She frowns, and takes another step; slightly weaker. Her frown deepens.
"Everything okay?" Daniel asks from outside.
Sam turns, and the signal gets stronger. "Confusing," Sam says, turning around again – weaker. But two more steps and it's stronger again; turning ninety degrees makes no difference, but turning one-eighty does -
"It's the building itself," Sam says. "The energy signature's coming from the rock!"
"How is that possible?" asks Daniel.
"I don't know, but that's what my scans are telling me," says Sam.
"There are some scratches here," Avery says. "But the rest of the rock is smooth."
"Let me see," says Sam, joining her.
"Those aren't scratches," says Daniel.
Sam presses on the patch, and it pops out, revealing an array of crystals.
"What do we do?" asks Jimenez, frowning. "Shoot it?"
Daniel gives an aggrieved sigh. "Military," he mutters, none too softly. "Always with the shooting."
"Well, actually," says Sam.
Daniel raises his eyebrows. "Really?"
Sam nods, takes a few steps backwards, and shoots the hell out of the array.
"Uh, ma'am," says Kelly worriedly, "it didn't do anything."
"It's not going to work right away," says Sam. "But it's like destroying the hard drive of a computer. It can't keep up the computations and alterations necessary - "
"Also, it's stopping," says Avery, pointing. Sam turns, and sees that indeed it is; the clouds in the distance are dissipating, and the wind has shifted almost a hundred and eighty degrees.
"That worked faster than I expected," Sam admits.
"Are you complaining?" asks Daniel.
"Of course not," says Sam. She looks again and the quickly-disintegrating remainders of the storm. "We could probably start heading back," she adds.
"Carrying him?" asks Avery dubiously, jerking her head in Johnson's direction.
"He'll wake up eventually," Sam points out.
Johnson ends up unconscious for the whole hike, for which Sam breathes a sigh of relief. They deposit him at the infirmary and get their post-mission checkups. Daniel gets out before Sam, but she follows him to the SG-1 locker room once she's done.
Daniel's already in the showers, so Sam sits on the bench, pulling off her boots. Her toes are all pruny, and her skin has the strange grainy feeling she associates with spending too long in the bathtub. She upends her boot and watches the water pour out, and sighs.
Daniel comes out of the shower section pulling a t-shirt on over his head. "Shower's all yours, Sam," he says.
"Great, thanks," she says, pulling off her other boot and sock. As Daniel passes her, she frowns. "Did you use my shampoo again?"
Daniel winces. "Uh. Maybe."
Sam tries not to grin. It doesn't work. She strips off her jacket instead as Daniel opens his locker; Sam can see his eyes in the small rectangular mirror attached to the inside of the door.
"I feel like I should make a comment about wet t-shirt contests," Daniel says.
"I feel like that would require me to punch you in the face," Sam retorts. "Or maybe say 'indeed'."
Daniel looks over his shoulder at her and smiles, somewhat wistfully. "I was kind of hoping our last mission would be all of us," he admits. "Not that it wasn't great not having to deal with all the violence, but - "
"It would've been more – poetic," Sam agrees. She drops her sodden jacket on the bench, and then, on impulse, hugs Daniel.
"Uh, Sam," says Daniel. "What are you doing?"
"I'm hugging you," says Sam.
"Oh," says Daniel, "okay." And he pats her back a little.
Sam lets go and steps back with a sigh. "So I guess this is it," she says.
"I guess so," Daniel agrees.
"Last chance," Sam adds.
"I suppose," says Daniel, but his voice sounds a little suspicious.
"You should know," she says, "that I've been wanting to do this since I first met you."
She leans in and begins to ruffle Daniel's hair. He winces, but doesn't protest, so Sam takes her time, running her hands vigorously from the nape of his neck to the crown of his skull, from side to side, and to finish she makes a small mohawk.
"Great," says Daniel, without enthusiasm. "Thanks."
Sam grins at him. "No problem." She turns to head back into the showers, then turns again. "Aren't you going to shave?"
Daniel runs his hand against his chin a few times. "I don't know," he says. "I was kind of thinking of trying something new."
"You look like you have the mange," Sam informs him.
Daniel shrugs. "It just needs time to develop."
"Oh, sure," says Sam, grinning. "Well, let me know how that goes." She turns back towards the showers.
"Yeah?" She looks at Daniel, who looks highly out-of-place and uncomfortable.
"Uh, it's just – well..." Daniel sighs, then smiles at Sam. "It's been an honor working with you, Colonel-Doctor Carter."
Sam swallows painfully, then smiles back. "You too, Doctor Jackson."