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Chapter 3

 

Sam leaned toward the computer monitor as she double-checked the coordinates she had entered into the model. There was still one small glitch, which she didn’t really feel like dealing with, but she was on automatic today and knew she had to tweak the model to get the correct set of glyphs and arrive at a destination.

 

She sighed deeply as her stomach protested, and she took a quick glance at her watch. It was now 1300 hours. The last thing she ate was breakfast at 0730. Well, guess I better get something to eat, she thought to herself. Working on an empty stomach isn’t always a good thing, something she wished Daniel would learn. She exited her lab and locked the door behind her.

 

Sam hastily made her way down the corridor, the commissary being her ultimate destination. She was about to turn the corner when she bumped into a coffee-mug-carrying Daniel.

 

“Oh, geez! Daniel!” she exclaimed, as a handful of papers he’d been carrying littered the space of floor between them.

 

Fortunately for both of them, the coffee mug was empty.

 

Sam quickly bent down and began collecting the papers Daniel had dropped. Once she gathered them neatly into a pile, she lifted her gaze up toward him. Her forehead creased and her eyes became intensely apologetic as she caught sight of Daniel, a bit flustered, his glasses set crookedly upon his face.

 

“I’m so sorry, Daniel,” she said as she edged up and handed the papers back to him.

 

Daniel fixed his glasses, smoothed down his hair and took his papers.

 

“No, no, don’t worry about it, Sam,” he insisted.

 

Sam smiled.

 

“Taking a break?” she asked.

 

“Uh, yeah, you might say that,” he replied, directing his eyes to the coffee mug in his hand. “Thought it might be time for another refill.”

 

Sam raised an eyebrow.

 

“More coffee?” she asked, a hint of concern in her voice. “Daniel, when was the last time you ate anything?”

 

Daniel’s eyes widened slightly, not expecting the question.

 

“Breakfast,” he shrugged.

 

“And you’re not hungry?”

 

“Uh, no, not really,” he muttered.

 

“Daniel, man – and by that I mean the human race – does not live on coffee alone,” she said, her voice adopting a slight teasing tone.

 

Daniel rolled his eyes briefly and grinned.

 

“Well, I figure it’s gotten me through college, two doctorate degrees and figuring out how to work the stargate, so why stop now?” he chuckled weakly.

 

At that moment, his stomach growled, totally betraying his air of confidence.

 

“Okay, maybe food would be a good idea,” he shrugged as his face grew hot.

 

Sam nodded and grinned knowingly at him before taking his arm, as if she were about to drag him into the commissary.

 

“Come with me, Doctor Jackson,” she said cheekily. “You are about to have a nice, nutritious meal, consisting of turkey pot pie, a tossed salad …”

 

“Oh, goody,” Daniel said sarcastically.

 

“ … And a small cup of pudding for dessert.”

 

“Only if it’s chocolate,” Daniel grinned.

 

Sam grinned back.

 

“Okay, only if it’s – “

 

They both stopped short as they found themselves standing in front of a darkened, empty commissary.

 

Sam’s brow knitted in confusion.

 

“Everyone couldn’t have left already …”

 

She turned toward Daniel, whose face matched her expression perfectly.

 

“…Could they?”

 

Totally dumbfounded, they slowly entered the room and sat themselves down at a table near the buffet line. All the food was gone, and the hot trays were covered. Sam made her way onto the other side of the line and curiously lifted one of the covers, only to discover that the tray itself was empty.

 

Daniel sat at the table, covered his hands with his face, and sighed.

 

“Wait, they usually keep the desserts in the fridge back here,” Sam intoned, more to herself than to Daniel. She wasn’t really in the mood for strawberry Jell-o or carrot cake, but it would be better than starving to death. She opened the fridge.

 

“Never mind,” she sighed, upon finding it empty.

 

She strolled back to the table and sat across from Daniel. The look on his face could almost be described as utter hopelessness.

 

“Hey, we don’t have to hang around here,” she said, a sudden realization coming to her. “There are a few places nearby to get something to eat.”

 

Daniel’s expression brightened somewhat.

 

“Why don’t we take our chances at O’Malley’s?” she suggested.

 

“What?” Daniel asked, his raised eyebrows nearly disappearing into his bangs.

 

“O’Malley’s … you know, that pub that Colonel O’Neill’s always promising to take us to,” Sam grinned.

 

“Oh … sure,” Daniel answered, some familiarity creeping in. “That place …”

 

He shrugged.

 

“We don’t even have to do that. I have a stash of chocolate bars back in my office,” he offered, half-smiling.

 

Sam rolled her eyes and grinned.

 

“Chocolate’s not much better than coffee, Daniel,” she said, wagging a finger at him.

 

“Are you sure? They’re Fifth Avenue’s,” he said hopefully, waggling his eyebrows.

 

Sam giggled.

 

“Hey, listen to the Captain, Doctor Jackson. Chocolate isn’t a lunch,” a familiar voice broke in.

 

Startled, Sam and Daniel turned their heads, only to see Major Ferretti grinning at them and holding a cardboard tray with food.

 

Daniel furrowed his brow in confusion and eyed Ferretti suspiciously.

 

“Major Ferretti?” he intoned curiously. “You’re still here?”

 

Ferretti nodded.

 

“The General told me you two were staying on base, burning the midnight oil, so to speak.”

 

Sam and Daniel blushed.

 

“Since the commissary staff has up and left, I took the liberty of providing something to eat for you guys.”

 

He gestured to the cardboard tray, which contained two things that looked like sandwiches, wrapped up in paper from McDonald’s.

 

“Uh, one of those is a fish sandwich, the other one is chicken. Sorry, it’s the best I could do,” he shrugged.

 

Daniel and Sam stared at him for a moment, hardly able to believe their eyes. Finally, Sam picked up one of the sandwiches and curiously unwrapped it.

 

“This one’s chicken,” she told Daniel, holding it out in front of him.

 

“Oh, no, you can have that one,” he shook his head, holding up his hand. “I’ll have the fish.”

 

Ferretti chuckled.

 

“Major, you didn’t have to do this,” Sam said seriously.

 

“What? And have you two go hungry? Come on, it’s no big deal, Captain. I feel I owe it to you; especially you, Doctor Jackson,” Ferretti insisted.

 

“Me? Why do you owe it to me?” Daniel asked slowly, furrowing his brow.

 

“You haven’t had much to eat since you’ve been back on Earth. You call eight cups of coffee and a dozen chocolate bars sustenance? Doctor Fraiser is getting worried about you.”

 

“Do tell,” Daniel answered dryly.

 

“It’s true, Doctor Jackson,” Ferretti said jokingly. “Whenever I see her, she has that look in her eyes. I can tell you what that look means. It means, ‘if he keeps it up, I’m going to have to hook him up and give him intravenous caffeine.’”

 

Sam giggled as Daniel rolled his eyes.

 

“Ha ha ha,” he said loftily before biting into the fish sandwich.

 

Ferretti grinned widely and patted Daniel on the shoulder.

 

“Thanks, Major,” Sam smiled, gesturing to her sandwich.

 

Ferretti nodded.

 

“I really hope you guys will be okay,” he said, concern showing through his voice.

 

“I’m almost finished with that computer model, so hopefully I’ll be on my way home soon,” Sam replied, trying to sound reassuring.

 

Daniel nodded.

 

“Yeah, I’ll probably be taking off soon too,” he added.

 

Ferretti looked as if he wasn’t entirely convinced, but he merely shrugged.

 

“Well, I gotta run before it gets any worse out there. Luckily I have a 4x4 and not a great distance to travel.”

 

Sam nodded.

 

“Safe drive home, Major,” she said softly.

 

Daniel nodded as he devoured his sandwich.

 

Ferretti took one last look at Daniel and chuckled, before making his way out of the commissary.

 

**************************************************************************************

 

Sam and Daniel finished their sandwiches and deposited the wrappers in the trash can. Daniel collected his papers from the table and they made their way out of the commissary.

 

The corridor was eerily empty, save for security personnel near the elevator. Sam was about to head back to her lab when she noticed the papers in Daniel’s hand.

 

“What are those?” she asked curiously.

 

“Oh … ah, I was having a bit of trouble with that translation, so I did a little research on the internet and found some notes on an academic website,” Daniel replied.

 

Sam nodded.

 

“Actually, I think I’m about through for the day,” Daniel continued. “If it’s as bad out as Ferretti’s implying, maybe I should head back to my apartment. I can finish this up another day.”

 

Sam looked at him and furrowed her brow. Was this Daniel talking?

 

His eyes met hers and she shrugged herself out of it.

 

“Well, I want to see how this computer model is coming along. I just have to iron out one tiny glitch. It shouldn’t take long … provided I find out what the glitch is, anyway,” she said, in spite of herself.

 

Daniel nodded.

 

“Okay. Well, I guess I’ll …” he trailed off awkwardly.

 

Sam looked around, still unnerved by the eerie solitude in the corridors of the SGC.

 

“Um, D-Daniel,” she stammered. “Maybe it would be better for us to leave at the same time.”

 

Daniel stared at her.

 

“I … I just think it would be best, for, um … security reasons,” she finished.

 

Daniel nodded.

 

“I know what you mean. I’ll just put these away and meet you back here,” he said, referring to her lab.

 

“Thanks,” Sam said gratefully, reaching out and touching Daniel’s arm.

 

A little smile tugged at Daniel’s lips, and he nodded before heading off to his office.

 

Sam turned and unlocked her office door, flipping the light switch before she made her way inside.

 

***************************************************************************************

 

Sam shook her head in disbelief and giggled. She realized what was causing the glitch in the model. One set of coordinates had been entered twice, causing her to overlook another set which was vital to getting the destination correctly. She couldn’t believe she had made such a stupid mistake. She made the appropriate changes and saved her work.

 

She heard the shuffling of feet at her door, and she was sure she’d almost have a heart attack if she didn’t realize it was only Daniel.

 

“Ready?” he asked quietly.

 

Sam looked back at him and nodded.

 

“Just a second, I want to shut this down,” she replied.

 

“Okay.”

 

She turned back to the computer, saved her work again, and went through the shutdown process. Once everything was turned off, she grabbed her coat from one of the nearby chairs and threw it on over her green BDU’s, picked up her keys and locked the door behind them.

 

She and Daniel made their way quickly down the corridor to the elevator. The airman who was situated at a table in front of the elevator nodded.

 

“Have a safe drive home, Captain. Doctor Jackson,” he intoned.

 

“Thank you, Sergeant,” Sam replied.

 

She and Daniel entered the elevator and began their ascent to the surface.

 

“I hope you have something that can get you through this blizzard,” Sam said suddenly.

 

Daniel turned toward her.

 

“Oh, yeah, I have an Explorer … a new Explorer,” he nodded.

 

“Good,” Sam replied.

 

“What about you?” Daniel asked.

 

“Oh … um …”

 

The way Sam blushed was enough for Daniel to realize that her car wasn’t exactly an all-terrain vehicle.

 

“Ah … Sam …” Daniel began tentatively.

 

She looked at him curiously.

 

“Maybe I should drive you home?” he asked.

 

Sam shook her head.

 

“No, you don’t have to do that.”

 

“It’s no trouble, if that’s what you’re thinking,” he insisted.

 

Sam looked up at him and realized that he sincerely wanted to help, that he was concerned for her welfare. She smiled faintly just as the elevator reached the surface.

 

“Look, Daniel,” she said as they exited the elevator. “You really don’t have to … “

 

She and Daniel stopped short, their mouths gaping open as they were about to exit the mountain.

 

What was formerly the parking area at Cheyenne Mountain Complex was now a wall of snow.

 

“Ah … well, I’d drive you home if I could find my Explorer,” Daniel finally uttered …

 

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Chapter 4 =>