Title: Another Sleepless Night
Category: drama, bit o' humor, Sam/Teal'c friendship
Season/Spoilers: MAB. Epilogue for Season 6's "The Changeling." Spoils The Changeling and Holiday.
Summary: Teal'c, learning how to do something he's never actually done before.
Author's Notes: Muchas gracias to Devra, as always, for the patience and encouragement. Feedback is always very much appreciated. <g>
Disclaimer: 'Fraid they don't belong to me. Though, that's probably for the best… <eg>
Warnings: Uh… nothing serious. Just that it takes place in season 6.
Teal'c was most uncomfortable.
As he tossed and turned, his skin accumulating a fine sheen of sweat as he exerted himself in a fruitless attempt to sleep, his body did, in fact, grow more fatigued, but his mind's wanderings only grew more frenzied, gaining momentum and distracting him from his effort to rest.
An effort to rest. 'Trying to sleep.' Teal'c was not amused by the oxymoronic idioms the Tau'ri used to describe his distasteful predicament.
Since the loss of his symbiote, Teal'c had come to value the practice of Kel-no-reem more and more. One always does value things he no longer has. He'd attempted to meditate. Many times, in fact. And it had worked to some degree. However, the very purpose of Kel-no-reem was to bring the Jaffa's body into harmony with the symbiote's, to maintain the Jaffa's bodily systems and immunities by communing with the goa'uld larva within.
Teal'c no longer possessed a Goa'uld larva. So, while his meditations did still help him to calm himself, to focus, they were still only just that. Only meditations. Nothing more. Nothing deeper.
He sighed, lying on his back in his bed. The room was, of course, climate controlled, but he felt more comfortable under a light sheet. A 'security blanket,' O'Neill had called it. While juvenile, Teal'c supposed it was still an apt assessment.
He tried to slow his breathing, to clear his mind...
...To bring his body into harmony with that of his symbiote.
He sat up, relieving himself of a frustrated groan. He shoved the sheet off his body and swung his legs over the side of the bed, flattening his feet on the refreshingly cool concrete floor. He stood and dressed in some sweat pants and a tee shirt, leaving his feet bare because the floor really did feel good. He left his room and began stalking the corridor outside.
He walked. He occasionally felt compelled to jog lightly when he was certain that there was no one else present in his vicinity. Perhaps he could 'wear himself out' if he engaged in physical activity. He climbed up and down stairs, through halls and around bends. He wandered aimlessly for a short while, then considered journeying to the Control Room to find out if he could perhaps assist any of the personnel on duty. Do something constructive with his, as of yet, wasted time.
On his way, he found himself passing by Major Carter's laboratory. It stood out despite his not exactly paying much attention to his surroundings. He could see the light still on through the window. The door was slightly ajar, so Teal'c gently pushed it open and ventured inside.
"Major Carter," he intoned softly so as not to disturb her. Not getting a response, Teal'c took a few more steps into the room, coming to a stop a few feet behind the Major's chair. She sat focused on the computer before her, typing at the keyboard, then pausing and thinking... writing some notes down in pencil on a yellow legal pad... then typing some more.
Teal'c considered her activity for a moment, pondering her motivation. On many occasions, she had mentioned that she found her work to be highly enjoyable, even fun.
Frankly, he did not understand its appeal.
"Major Carter," he said again, a bit more insistently. She jumped in her chair and gasped loudly, turning abruptly and putting a hand to her chest as she recognized the man behind her.
"Teal'c!" she breathed. "You scared the crap outta me! What's the matter? Is everything okay? Why are you up so late?"
He furrowed his brow, his fatigued mind cataloguing her series of questions and formulating the expected answers. However, in examining her face and considering the late hour, he decided to ask a question instead of answering one.
"I may ask the same of you."
She remained silent, but turned her swivel chair back around so she was facing her computer, giving Teal'c another moment to think. "Do you not require rest?" he asked softly, taking another step toward her. He saw her shake her head then try to hide a yawn. He did not miss it.
"Indeed," he mumbled at her nonverbal response. He stood motionless for a short while longer, really having nothing better to do, his hands clasped behind his back. Major Carter was trying to ignore his presence. He chose to disregard the sentiment.
Finally, she dropped her pencil down on the notepad and swung her chair back around, crossing her arms over her chest and eyeing him suspiciously.
"Okay. *What*?" she asked, tightening her lips into a wry smile. Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"To what do you refer?" he asked, trying to portray himself as the very picture of innocence.
"I'm sorry, Teal'c, but it's not every day that you just… drop by my office for the sheer *thrill* of standing around watching me work. What gives?"
Teal'c opened his mouth to speak-
"And I *don't* want to hear 'I have *given* you nothing, Major Carter,' either," she said, imitating his voice with a disconcerting accuracy. "I know you were thinking it, and I know you know what I mean."
Teal'c closed his mouth.
Major Carter gave a satisfied huff and smiled.
Teal'c sighed and relaxed, finally, deciding to confide in his friend.
"I am unable to sleep. I was attempting to tire myself so that I might rest."
"And naturally, you thought that my work might just be boring enough to do the trick?" she asked, feigning hurt.
He furrowed his brow in consideration. "On the contrary, the thought had not occurred to me. I was merely walking. However, since you have mentioned it…"
"Funny, Teal'c. Very cute," she said, rolling her eyes. She stood, walking over to another wheeled chair and pulling it over toward her own, motioning Teal'c to sit before she sat down again herself. She took a deep breath.
"Have you tried warm milk?" she asked. Teal'c reflexively made a disgusted expression. Major Carter grinned. "Not your thing, huh? Yeah, me neither. Let's see," she continued, biting on the inside of her mouth as she thought. "How 'bout kel-no-reem? Does that help at all anymore?"
"My success with meditation has recently been… minimal," he sighed dejectedly.
Teal'c shook his head. "I was under the impression that for one to sleep, one's eyes must be *closed*."
Major Carter laughed. "Well, I suppose that's true. Music, then."
"Is not the ideal environment for rest darkness and silence?"
"Not necessarily," she replied, leaning forward. This sudden uncertainty intrigued Teal'c. He nodded his head, urging her to continue. "Well, I… for one… can't always sleep when it's too quiet. When it's too quiet, all the little noises that we tend to ignore when there are more important things going on… they start to stand out. Like crickets, the furnace, the house settling." She paused to make sure he was still following her train of thought.
"I have discovered that many such sounds are prevalent on base."
"Well, with so many people here, even at night, it would be hard to avoid. True silence is very difficult to achieve. In fact, the only known instance in which sound is completely nonexistent-"
"Is, uh… in total… vacuum. Sorry," she apologized, closing her eyes and shaking her head. Teal'c nodded. "Anyway," she went on, "the point is, you don't notice all those little sounds when your mind is occupied with something else, which is why we never hear this stuff during the day… when we're busy. So, sometimes it helps to play some soft music. It drowns out all those little annoying noises and gives your mind something to do."
"Much like using the flame of a candle as a center of focus whilst attempting to reach a state of Kel-no-reem," he interjected, seeing his friend's point. Her eyes widened, obviously pleased that he understood.
"Yes! Exactly like that," she exclaimed. Teal'c allowed himself a small smile, appreciating her enthusiasm and the figurative door she had just opened for him.
"I do possess a compact disk player," Teal'c mused aloud, then turned to his friend. "What would you suggest?"
Sam frowned, her forehead wrinkling for a moment, seeming to Teal'c that she was expending too large an amount of energy for so simple a question. Then, she suddenly put her booted feet up on the legs of the table and pushed off, gliding across the room in her chair and coming to a stop in front of a cabinet. Atop the cabinet, sat a portable stereo system, much like the one Teal'c had in his room. She pressed a button, and the lab was filled with a soft, low hum, then percussion, then winds. He was immediately soothed by the sound, and raised an inquiring eyebrow. Major Carter smiled.
"Yo-Yo Ma," she said.
Teal'c did not understand what O'Neill's trinket of choice had to do with anything at the moment.
"Yo-Yo Ma… he's a very famous cellist," she clarified for him. "The cello. It's a string instrument, like the violin, except much bigger, making it's sound of a lower pitch. This is the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack. You know, that great martial arts movie we saw at the Colonel's when it first came out…"
Teal'c closed his eyes as Major Carter finished talking, grateful for the silence when she finally brought her too-lengthy explanation to a close. After a few moments of simply sitting in his chair, listening, he opened his eyes to find her staring at him, smiling widely. Teal'c raised his head.
"This is most satsfying, Major Carter. Truly… relaxing."
She nodded her head. "Indeed," she replied, still grinning.
"May I take this with me?" Teal'c asked, gesturing toward the stereo.
"Of course you may, Teal'c. I'm glad I could help." She stood up and turned the device off, extracting the compact disk from its tray and depositing it into a plastic case. She handed it to him as he rose to leave.
He turned back around just as he was about to exit, realizing that he had not yet thanked her for her help, only to see that she was watching after him, shaking her head with an odd smile.
"Major Carter?" he inquired, stopping and completely turning his body to face her. She looked up.
"I don't know, Teal'c… it's just… you're so old, so experienced, done and seen so many things… There's just… *something* about your not being able to sleep. And you came to me for help." She pointedly paused to look him straight in the eye. "I guess… Teal'c, I have never felt closer to you than I do right at this moment. I just… think that's kinda important, that's all." She crossed her arms over her chest, her body language suddenly conveying discomfort at her own expression of emotion.
"I agree, Samantha. Thank you for your assistance this evening," he said, sincerely. Then another thought occurred to him. He held up the compact disk she had given him. "It is likely that this selection may someday become… redundant. Perhaps, another evening, we could discuss… alternative suggestions you may have?"
She smiled, visibly relaxing. "Of course, Teal'c. I'd like that very much. Anytime."
Teal'c bowed his head in respect then turned toward the door.
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