Summary: Revenge is a dish best served...in the cold cycle?
Dr. Daniel Jackson looked down again at the slip of paper in his hands and the address scrawled along the top.
"24E 6A," he murmured to himself, looking up and checking the letters stenciled on the otherwise identical gray doors lining the corridor. Daniel rarely found himself on level 24 and he couldn't even recall the last time he had been in the east quadrant which was home to many of the SGC's support services. He knew supply was around here somewhere, but since he could e-mail requests-as long as Jack added his approval-he didn't need to come here and place his orders in person, and, best of all, his supplies were delivered directly to his lab. No fuss, no muss. Tech services was down here too, but with Sam around, he'd never really needed them either. Personnel and payroll; well, thanks to the wonders of direct deposit, he didn't need those offices either. What he _did_ need was 24E 6A, aka, the SGC laundry facilities.
And there, at last, it was.
Pushing the door open, he stepped inside, and was immediately struck by the smells of detergent and bleach and the sound of washing machines and dryers whirring and rumbling in the background. He wandered a little farther inside, craning his neck in the hopes of finding someone, but the place seemed to be deserted. And with the noise of the machines as a constant backdrop, he doubted anyone had heard him come in.
"Dr. Jackson! Can I help you, sir?"
Daniel turned around at the sound of the feminine voice and found himself looking at a young woman with short brown hair and a sweet smile. She looked familiar, he realized and he began to wrack his brain trying to remember who she was. His brain finally supplied the name: Corporal Reynolds. She was a new recruit, just transferred the month before and she had attended one of the all too frequent orientation briefings that General Hammond had roped Daniel into giving. Daniel suddenly realized that the corporal, being new, and hence low man, er, woman, on the totem pole, had pulled laundry duty, which was, he suspected probably the least appealing duty on base. Still, if given the choice, Daniel would much prefer laundry duty over orientation duty. He wondered if he could convince her to switch assignments.
"Oh, sorry corporal, I, ah, lost track for a moment," Daniel admitted somewhat sheepishly.
"That's quite all right, sir," she said, flashing him that sweet smile again. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Ah, yes, actually. I'm looking for Sergeant Clemson."
"Sorry, sir, he's not here today. He's at the dentist. Root canal," she added with a grimace.
Daniel found himself grimacing as well. Getting a root canal was right up there with getting zatted in his book. In fact, it was probably worse, since as a rule, the Goa'uld don't send you a bill for services rendered after zatting you.
"Is there something I can do for you, sir," Corporal Reynolds offered.
"Well, maybe. I've been having problems with my laundry of late. All of my clothes keep coming back, um, shrunk," he explained.
"Yeah, shrunk," he reiterated, waving his hand in the general vicinity of his rather form fitting tee-shirt. "All of my clothes, BDUs, shirts and especially tee-shirts have been coming back a bit, snug."
'Why is she repeating everything I say?' Daniel thought. "Yeah, snug. My clothes didn't used to fit this way and since I'm still wearing the same sizes that I've always worn, there has to be an explanation."
The corporal seemed to study him carefully for a moment, taking in the close fit of his BDUs and the way the black tee-shirt clung to his torso. "Well, sir, to be perfectly honest, sir, I can't really find fault with the fit. It's a good look for you," she said, smiling just that little bit more when she noticed the flush creeping over his cheeks. "A really good look," she added.
"Still," Daniel interjected, trying to get the conversation back on track, "there is something going on here. Clothing sizes don't change overnight. And I haven't noticed any change in the fit of the clothing of my teammates."
"Well," she commented, clearly deep in thought, "maybe your stuff somehow got mixed up in someone's special order."
"Well, yeah. There are a few people on base who are allergic to the detergent we use. Cheap stuff, government issue, ya know? So their laundry has to be done separately. Then of course, there are a few of the officers who have special demands. You know, extra starch in their dress shirts, double sharp pleats in their pants, stuff like that."
"Oh." Daniel really couldn't say much to that.
"Then of course, there are the unofficial orders." Corporal Reynolds remarked, clearly warming to the topic. "Some of the personnel have made arrangements with the laundry crew to take care of their civvies as well for a few extra bucks. It's not really kosher, but."
Suddenly, she was doing a passable impression of a deer caught in the headlights as she realized she had just said something that could get her, and her co-workers, in a lot of trouble. Daniel recognized and interpreted the expression immediately, and commented soothingly, "Don't worry, your secret's safe with me." He flashed her a quick smile to let her know all was well, and her answering grin confirmed the understanding.
"Thank you, sir."
"You know, I'm a civilian. You don't really need to keep calling me sir," Daniel said.
"Yes, si.Dr. Jackson," she amended hastily.
Daniel sighed. God, he really hated the military mind set sometimes. "What's your name?" he asked.
"Corporal Reynolds, si.Dr. Jackson," she responded quickly, though she was clearly puzzled by this sudden change in topic.
"I know that," he said. "I mean what is your given name."
"Ah, Caroline, si."she replied. Now it was her turn to blush.
"Well Caroline, I'm Daniel. It's very nice to meet you," he said, extending his hand.
"It's nice to meet you too.Daniel," she answered, her smile clearly indicating she was once more at ease as she shook the proffered hand.
"Well, now that that's settled, back to the business at hand." Daniel was once more all seriousness as he returned to his reason for being in the laundry this morning. "If my things somehow got mixed up in someone else's special order, how would we know?"
"Oh that's easy," she replied, moving over to a slightly battered in the corner. "Sergeant Clemson keeps a written record of any special orders so that we can keep track." She reached over the desk and pulled up a clip board which held several sheets of yellow legal sized paper. She glanced quickly over the notes, eyes scanning, looking for anything on the list that might explain Dr. Jackson's current laundry woes.
"That's odd," she said quietly to herself.
"What is?" Daniel asked as he moved towards her, positioning himself so that he could read over her shoulder. She raised her hand and quickly pointed to a hand written notation all the way at the bottom of the page.
Daniel read it, his eyes widening in surprise, then narrowing in suspicion.
"Dr. D.J.-extra rinse cycles on uniforms"
And further down:
"7/9/01 Dr. D. J.-additional hot rinse cycle on all tee-shirts (per J. O'N.)
And suddenly everything became perfectly clear. How and why his clothing was mysteriously shrinking and exactly who had instigated this little Machiavellian plot against his innocent wardrobe. Daniel's mind flashed back to the conversation that he had had with Jack two weeks earlier in the locker room and Jack's promise to see what could be done. Apparently "additional hot rinse cycle on all tee-shirts" was what could be done.
And then Daniel's mind provided another, more recent, memory of pulling on his tee-shirt and finding that his earlier prediction of exposed belly buttons had, in fact, come to pass. Jack had snickered-quite profusely and inappropriately in Daniel's estimation-and then he had tried to appease the outraged and blushing archeologist, but to no avail. Daniel's subsequent tirade had been loud and colorful, so much so that Sam and Teal'c, who had been waiting outside the locker room door for the remaining members of their team, had rushed in to see what all the commotion was about. At the sight of Daniel's now miniature tee-shirt and the accompanying bared mid-drift, Sam's eyes grew wide and her grin grew wider, while Teal'c's eyebrow seemed to lodge itself around his tattoo. Daniel was now blushing full force even as he proclaimed loudly and vociferously that there was no way in hell he was leaving the locker room dressed like that, and if someone didn't find him another tee-shirt pronto, they'd be gating to P3R-277 sans archeologist. They'd hustled, clearly taken aback by a Daniel Jackson in full blown indignation mode, and found a replacement shirt which was offered with soothing words and accepted with rather bad grace. The mission had gone ahead as planned, but Daniel had spent most of it in an out and out snit with steam practically coming out of his ears. And he swore that as soon as he got back, he was going to resolve the laundry issue, once and for all.
'O'Neill, you are _so_ dead!' Daniel thought to himself. As visions of mayhem and justifiable homicide flitted through his mind, another idea came forward. Actually, it was a small voice that sounded remarkably like the soon-to-be deceased Colonel 'Jerk' O'Neill: "Don't get mad, Danny boy; get even."
A wicked grin slowly spread across Daniel's face as a plan of attack began to germinate in his mind. 'OK, Jack. You want a battle, you got it. Prepare to go down in flames, flyboy.'
Schooling his face into his most winsome and earnest expression, Daniel turned to look at the now perplexed Corporal Reynolds and spoke in his softest and most soothing voice. "Well, it appears that I've been the subject of a little prank, here. Um, Caroline? I was wondering, would you, well, would you be willing to help me to resolve my little laundry problem? And maybe teach my tormentor a lesson at the same time?" He then gave her his pleading expression, the one that Jack had dubbed his "sad puppy" look, the one that had been known to work even on the no-nonsense Dr. Janet Frasier. It wasn't that he was manipulative or anything, it was just a survival technique. After all, wasn't that one of the lessons that Jack had tried so hard to instill upon during his training? When engaged in battle, use any and all weapons at your disposal to gain the edge over your opponent? Really, he was only doing what Jack had told him to do and therefore Jack should actually be pleased that Daniel 1) had actually paid attention during the training and 2) was now capable of putting the theory into practice in such a creative fashion. It was, Daniel decided, poetic justice of a sort and Jack would only have himself to blame when he went down and went down hard.
"Please?" He capped off his performance with a quick batting of lashes and his sweetest, most boyish smile.
Corporal Reynolds was toast and she knew it. How could anyone say 'no' to someone as adorable as Daniel Jackson? And besides, he was the aggrieved party here. It was only right that she do everything she could to help him out.
"Whatever you need, Daniel. Whatever you need." This time she was the one who extended her hand. Daniel took it in his and firmly shook her hand, sharing a devilish grin with his newfound co-conspirator.
'Oh yeah, Jack, you are _so_ going down.'
Colonel Jack O'Neill was tired. More than tired; exhausted, weary, put upon, were all far closer to the mark. There was nothing he hated more than leading these off world training exercises for new SGC recruits. Well, except maybe for the annual budget meetings Hammond always dragged him into. Well, and of course the staff performance appraisals; he hated those with a passion. Oh, and paperwork in general; he really couldn't stand that, to be perfectly honest. But as bad as all those things were, at least he got to stay on Earth to do them. He got to go home at night, kick back, have a beer, maybe catch a hockey or basketball game, chat a bit with his teammates, and if he was really lucky, engage in his favorite pastime, Daniel-baiting.
But in all fairness, it wasn't really Earth and its amenities that he missed most during these training sessions, it was his team. He missed their comforting, challenging presence at his side. He missed Daniel's enthusiasm and stubbornness, he missed Carter's techno babble and sly humor, he missed Teal'c's strength and assurance. None of these snot nosed, arrogant SGC wannabes could hold a candle to his teammates. Worst of all, they just didn't get it. They didn't get him. There was no good humored eye rolling at one of his quips, no high spirited argu.debates over cultural issues, no half serious threats involving bodily harm to be inflicted upon this person the next time he did a Dr. Evil or an Austin Powers impersonation. No, these were textbook, Grade-A, model soldiers. They were all quite proper. Quite serious, quite somber, and dull, dull, dull.
But it was over now. He was home, well almost, since he wasn't so far gone that he considered the SGC home, but he was at least in the general vicinity. He wouldn't be going home just yet, of course. He had to debrief with Hammond and write up his report and preliminary evaluations of the recruits' performances. By and large they were OK, no real problems, and a couple of them showed genuine promise. This was, he reminded himself, part of his job, and the sooner it got it over with, the sooner he could get the hell out of Dodge. But first, a shower, clean clothes and what passed for a hot meal in the mess hall.
As always, Jack was amazed at how good a hot shower could really feel after a long mission. He was clean, his muscles were relaxed, and life over all was good. Very good. He opened up his locker and quickly began to dress in one of his spare uniforms. Tee-shirt, shorts, BDU pants, all the comforts of pseudo-home. He began to button up his fly when he noticed that his pants felt a little, well, tight, especially around the waistband. Uncomfortably so, in fact. 'Hmm, that's odd.' He pulled them off and put on another pair, deftly buttoning up the fly, only to encounter the same resistance and the same discomfort. He pulled them off and peered at the inside of the waistband. Yep, they were his. There was his laundry marker. He looked closer. Yep, they were his size, no mistake.
'That can't be right," he thought to himself. 'The laundry must have shrunk them.' For a moment he had an uncomfortable flicker of conscience, remembering his own little prank with Daniel's uniforms. Had the archeologist somehow found out? Nah, Clem would sooner die than give Jack up, knowing full well that 'die' was the operative phrase if he ratted him out.
'It's probably just a glitch in the laundry,' he thought, grabbing his tan Dockers and sliding them up his lean legs. He tugged sharply on the tab of his zipper, zipping the pants shut with one easy pull. Well, almost. About halfway to its destination, the zipper slowed, encountering resistance, and that binding feeling that he experienced with the BDUs came to him in full force.
'Sonovabitch! No way!'
He pulled the tab of the zipper down and pushed the trousers down with more force than necessary and then grabbed the last pair of BDU trousers hanging in the locker. History repeated itself once more, as Jack found the previously comfortable pants were now-not. Breathing in as much as possible, he finished buttoning the pants. They were tight, but he'd live. He was, after all, a special ops trained colonel in the U.S. Air Force and he'd be damned if he was going to be done in by a freaking pair of pants.
He pulled on his utility shirt, buttoning it with ease and then he walked over to the mirror near the door looking carefully at his reflection. The shirt seemed to fit fine, maybe a tiny bit tighter across the hips, but he couldn't be sure that it wasn't just his imagination getting the better of him. His tee-shirt also fit just fine. He tucked up the edge of the utility shirt to allow an unimpeded view of his bottom half and he peered intently at the mirror turning and staring at himself from every possible angle.
'Am I getting fat?' he asked himself. 'No way in hell, Jack. You're fitter and leaner than most of the men on this base, including those half your age. It's a fluke, that's all.'
Assured that there was a logical explanation to this strange turn of events, Jack went back, shut his locker, and strode purposefully towards the door in search of that hot meal he had promised himself. His hand was reaching towards the knob when he turned his head one last time to peer at his reflection.
Major Samantha Carter found herself in the awkward position of having divided loyalties. Two days previously she had been recruited by one Dr. Daniel Jackson to take part in an exceedingly dangerous, covert retaliatory action code named "Operation All TemperCheer" by the mission mastermind, the aforementioned Dr. Jackson. And therein lay the problem, since the subject of this exceedingly dangerous, covert retaliatory action was none other than Colonel Jack O'Neill, aka "he must be punished, severely," but also aka her commanding officer.
But in truth, that wasn't the real quandry. Sam had few qualms about teaching Jack O'Neill a lesson. After five years of enduring his highly questionable sense of humor on a regular basis, it was high time someone did. Moreover, Sam had been on the receiving end of a couple of the colonel's pranks over the years, the most unforgettable of which involved her naquadah reactor, a can of colored string paint and Pookie, her beloved toy teddy bear that had accompanied her through college, grad school and the Pentagon, and who, until recently, held residence in the bottom desk drawer in her lab at the SGC. Pookie had never recovered from the incident, hence his removal from the SGC to the safer environs of her home. The colonel had apologized profusely after the disaster, cleaning up her lab, making sure the naquadah reactor was back in perfect condition (with the assistance of Sergeant Siler, thankfully), even offering to replace Pookie (as if!). Sam had, in due course, forgiven the colonel, but she had never really forgotten.
Unfortunately, revenge wasn't really an option since the colonel was technically her superior officer (superior being a word open to debate in this context). Moreover, Sam was, first and foremost, a major in the U.S. Air Force, a position of which she was justifiably proud. If the colonel wanted to act like a bratty child in desperate need of a spanking, well Sam just wasn't going to sink to his level. That wasn't to say she didn't want the colonel to get a taste of his own medicine, nor that she wouldn't enthusiastically endorse, encourage and even participate peripherally in the delivery of the medicine. And best of all, she knew just the doctor to write the prescription.
Of all of them, it was Daniel who had suffered the most when these strange, whimsical moods came upon the colonel. To be fair to the colonel, these pranks were usually quite harmless (the Pookie incident being an aberration of almost cataclysmic proportions), but they were trying, nonetheless. The archeologist was certainly no shrinking violet when it came to going toe to toe with Jack O'Neill. From day one he had stood up to the colonel and always gave as good as he got. But Daniel simply refused to take the bait when the colonel opened up his bag of jokes. Whenever Jack pulled a prank, Daniel just rolled his eyes, made some remark about how the colonel appeared to be a "mature" adult male so maybe he should try acting like one, or better yet he should go find a full time baby sitter for his inner child, or at least send it to a Swiss boarding school for the next decade or so.
Given Daniel's history of turning the other cheek, Sam was more than a little surprised to find out that Daniel was finally going to take action against "Bozo the Colonel." He told her about the laundry prank which had culminated in the 'Daniel Jackson Belly Button Revue' of which Sam had caught the one and only performance.
And herein lay the real crux of the problem: Sam had _liked_ seeing Daniel wearing those tight tee-shirts and BDU pants that emphasized his very nice body. When you spend as much time as Sam did trapped 28 levels below ground, surrounded by gray walls and olive drab uniforms, you are grateful for anything that brightens the scenery. And let's face it, Daniel's biceps are a very bright sight indeed.
Now this is not to say Sam was harboring any romantic interests towards her teammate. Not at all. Daniel is a friend, probably her best friend after Janet, and Sam felt closer to Daniel than she did towards her own brother. But fraternal devotion didn't blind Sam to the fact that Daniel Jackson is, well, one smoking hot babe. Nor was Sam alone in this assessment. Daniel had always had a coterie of admirers among the female (and to a lesser extent the male) population of the facility, but that number had fairly exploded in recent weeks with the unexpected revelation that Daniel Jackson wasn't just a sweet natured man with a genius IQ, a lovely face and stunning blue eyes; he also had the amazing bod to round out the set.
Daniel, of course, remained as oblivious as always. He'd walk down the corridor, with his nose stuck in a book, flexing those newly revealed muscles, completely unaware of the smoldering gazes, dreamy sighs, and heavy thunks of jaws dropping to the ground that invariably followed in his wake. Jack O'Neill might have been playing a joke at Daniel's expense, but it was the rest of the base that got to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Sam had wanted to point out to Daniel--tactfully, of course-that the colonel hadn't done any harm and that, well, Daniel really did look good in the tighter fitting uniform, but she never got past opening her mouth. Daniel had asked for, pleaded for, her help in teaching the colonel a lesson, and then he had gazed at her with that deep, soulful look, all big blue eyes and quivering chin, and she caved like a cheap pup tent. She just couldn't say no to a pleading Daniel. There was only one thing to do. She pledged her complete and utter allegiance to Daniel and he then proceeded to induct her into the devious conspiracy known as "Operation All TemperCheer."
Now, here she was, two days later, standing in the shadows, watching for her mark so that she could carry out her appointed task. She waited, breathing in and out in a slow, steady rhythm, her eyes scanning the corridors, her body poised and ready for action.
And there he is now, loping down the corridor, his head lowered, and a slight frown creasing her brow. Showtime.
Jack looked up to see his 2IC walking briskly towards him, a warm smile on her face. "Hey Carter, long time no see."
"Yes, sir. It's good to have you back. How did the training mission go?" she asked, falling into step at his side.
"Pretty well. No disasters and a couple of the kids actually look promising. It's still good to be home, though."
"Yes, sir, I'm sure it is. Where are you off to? Debriefing?"
"Nah, I got that later this afternoon. I thought I'd just grab a bite to eat in the mess hall. You wanna come with?" he suggested, a smile brightening his previously dark features.
"No, sir, I'm afraid I've got a meeting with the tech crew in fifteen minutes."
"Tech crew?" He didn't recall hearing about any meeting.
"To discuss the naquadah reactor, sir."
"Oh." That was one topic he clearly didn't want to get anywhere near. "Well, Carter." he trailed off, noticing the puzzled expression on her pretty face. "What?"
"Oh, nothing, sir. It's just." She shook her head in annoyance, a slight blush tinting her cheeks. "Well, sir, I."
"Oh fer crying out loud, Carter! Just spit it out, will ya?" he snapped, his earlier frustration coming to the fore.
Sam blushed even more. "Well, sir it's just that.well.have you put on some weight?" she spit the last out in a rush, almost as if the words were burning her mouth.
"I'm sorry, sir, it really isn't any of my business. I'm probably mistaken. I mean, you have been gone almost a week. I'm probably just misremembering, is all."
"Carter, you're rambling. I think Daniel is a bad influence on you. One rambler on the team is enough, dontcha think?"
"Yes, sir, of course, sir. If you'll excuse me, I better go get ready for my meeting," she said carefully inching her way away from her affronted CO.
"Good idea, Carter. Don't want to keep the geeks.I mean scientists waiting," he amended affably.
"No, sir. Have a good meal."
"Will do, Carter." And with that he continued on his way, his head once more lowered to his chest and his expression one of deep concentration.
Sam stood once more in the shadows of the corridor, watching the colonel continue on his way. 'Geeks, huh?' she thought wryly as he turned the corner.
'Sucker,' she thought as she turned back and headed toward her lab.
Master Teal'c of Chulak sat unmoving, focusing his thoughts inward to block out the chatter and assorted noise typical of the SGC mess hall at midday. This was just one of many activities that humans indulged in that was foreign to his upbringing. On Chulak, meals shared by warriors were perfunctory things; food was prepared, food was consumed. It was only afterwards, in the quiet lull before retiring for the night, that Jaffa would converse. 'Dinner conversation' as his human colleagues described it was something reserved exclusively for family meals, something private and special. The casual conversation shared by his Tau'ri counterparts, the ebb and flow of bodies as diners arrived and left, or shifted from one table, one group, to another, was as novel to him, as his practice of kel'no'reem was to them. After a time, Teal'c had slowly begun to adapt to these new social patterns, though he still tended to limit his mealtime interactions to the other members of SG-1, Dr. Frasier, and if present, General Hammond. At times such as these, when dining alone, Teal'c simply tuned out the surrounding sounds and drifted in a light state of meditation.
On this day, however, Teal'c had another purpose. Today he had a sacred duty to carry out and he would not be diverted from its completion.
Teal'c felt the subtle shift in the atmosphere of the mess hall, he felt a familiar presence enter and move towards him. He refocused his eyes to see O'Neill moving towards him, a tray bearing food in his hands. O'Neill smiled as he saw the Jaffa, and easily shifted direction to bring him to the table where Teal'c sat before the remnants of his midday meal.
"Hey, big guy! Howya doin'?" O'Neill asked as he placed his tray on the table top and slid into the seat across of Teal'c.
"I am well O'Neill. I am pleased to see that you have returned safely to this facility."
Jack, who had just opened his mouth to take a bite of gravy soaked mashed potatoes, closed it, then opened it again. "Oh fer cryin' out loud, Teal'c! It was a lousy training exercise, not an armed sortie into a Goa'uld stronghold!"
"Nevertheless, we have encountered danger many times on what were believed to be simple, reconnaissance missions. You should know better then most that things are rarely as safe, or as simple, as they seem," he countered.
Jack couldn't argue that, so he just let the subject drop. "So, how have things been around here? Anything interesting goin' on? Any juicy gossip that I mighta missed?"
"No, O'Neill," Teal'c intoned in his rich bass voice. "Things have been quiet here in your absence."
Jack tried not to take offense at that implication.
"As for gossip, I have not encountered any, either of the juicy, or of the dry variety."
Jack eyed Teal'c specutively. Whenever Teal'c came out with a crack like that, he never knew for sure if his Jaffa buddy was pulling his leg or not. Teal'c was just getting way to good at this whole deadpan humor thing. Jack decided he really didn't have the energy to figure out which was which, so he returned to his meal, slicing a piece of roast beef and dipping it in the puddle of gravy on the plate. 'Oh, yeah, that's the ticket.' After a week of reconstituted chicken MREs and watered down coffee, even the SGC roast beef tasted wonderful. Jack grabbed his roll, tore off a chunk and dunked it into the gravy, savoring the rich flavor as it went down. 'Oh yeah. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and for dessert, lemon meringue pie. It just don't get much better that this,' he thought.
Still chewing his chunk of bread, Jack looked up from his plate to see his companion gazing at him.disapprovingly? Now that can't be right. For once, he hadn't said or done anything that could be construed as offensive. Had he? 'Christ, Jack. Paranoid?'
"What?" he asked seeing Teal'c's cool gaze continue to linger on his face.
"Do you think that is wise, O'Neill?"
"Is what wise?" 'I'm trying to eat here, not play twenty questions.'
"Is it wise to eat such a large and calorie laden meal in your current state?" he replied.
'What the.?' "Whaddya mean 'my current state'?"
"I have noticed, O'Neill, that you seem to have undergone a noticeable weight gain quite recently. Do you not think that this might interfere with your abilities to carry out your duties as the leader of SG-1?"
Jack could only stare at Teal'c in shock. 'Jesus Christ! First Carter, now Teal'c? Did the whole world think he was getting fat?' And then he remembered the earlier incident with the trousers in the locker room. The same trousers that even now were cutting most uncomfortably into his gut. Suddenly, Jack's previously healthy appetite, just went right through the wormhole.
Teal'c was looking at him still, one eyebrow raised slightly in query. Jack sighed and pushed away from the table. "Sorry Teal'c, I gotta go. I gotta get ready for my debrief with Hammond."
Teal'c nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Very well O'Neill. I shall see you again at a later time."
Jack nodded and left the mess hall, a sick, heavy feeling in his stomach that had nothing to do with gravy and mashed potatoes.
Teal'c watched as his friend and team leader left the mess hall. It was only after O'Neill has exited the room that Teal'c allowed himself the indulgence of the small, pleased smile, the only outward sign of a job well done.
General George Hammond was seated at his desk, signing off on the last of his morning paperwork. He looked at his watch and sighed. Shouldn't morning paperwork be long gone be 1400? Unfortunately, he knew the answer to that question. Like death and taxes, paperwork was inescapable, indefatigable, and it didn't tell time. A sudden knock on the door drew him-quite happily--from his paperwork inspired fugue.
Jack O'Neill entered his commanding officer's domain, ready and willing to get this debrief over with and get the hell out of the bizzarro land he seemed to have found himself in. First the pants, then Carter and Teal'c commenting on his weight, that was bad enough. But now it seemed like half the personnel on base were staring at him. Oh, no one said anything untoward, there were no snickers, no guffaws, no whispers, but Jack couldn't escape the feeling he was being watched and.well, judged. On a typical day, he would have just told himself they were admiring his dashing good looks and authoritative presence. OK, he never said he was modest or humble, or any of that crap; confidence, or a lack thereof, had never been a problem he'd had to deal with. Now suddenly he felt.conspicuous, yeah, that's the word and he didn't know if it was his imagination or if it was for real.
Jack started, realizing that he had been zoning in the presence of his commanding officer. 'Perfect, Jack. Care to embarrass yourself a little more?' "Sorry, sir, just thinking about my observations from the training exercise."
The general nodded. 'Good save, Jack. Now don't screw it up!' He drew in a deep breath and began his report. "Well, sir, all in all I think they were an exceptionally solid group of recruits and a few of them seemed particularly sharp. As usual, we arrived on P4T-399, for a standard six day."
The debrief went surprisingly well. As long as Jack kept this thoughts focused on recounting the details of the training exercise and his reviews of the performance of the individual recruits, everything was swell. By the time he had summarized his observations and given Hammond his recommendations for the deployment of the new recruits, Jack had all but forgotten about his panicked-and completely fabricated-fears of excessive weight gain.
"Good work, colonel. It sounds like there are some very fine candidates in this batch."
"Yes, sir, I hope so. I really do think Ramirez would be a good choice as a replacement on SG-10. I know he's young, but he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. And Allen looks solid too. She not only has a level three in self-defense, and advanced field medicine training, but she also has a good background in geology for a non-scientist. I think she'd be a good addition to SG-11."
"Understood, colonel. I'll take your recommendations into consideration. I expect the final written report within two days time. SG-1's next mission is in three days. Enjoy your down time." The general said, gesturing towards the door. "Dismissed."
"Thank you, sir." Jack stood and prepared to beat a hasty retreat, when he was stopped in his tracks by the soft spoken voice of his commanding officer.
'Jack? Oh that's not good, no not good at all.' "Yes, sir?" he replied turning back towards Hammond.
"Jack, when was your last annual physical?" he asked, again in that same, soft, disturbing voice.
'Oh, so not good.' "It's not for another month. May I ask, why, sir?"
Hammond pursed his lips, clearly reluctant to speak the thoughts that had lead him to pose the question in the first place. He drew a deep breath and said "Well Jack, it's just that you seem to have, well, not to put too fine a point on it, you seem to have put on a bit of weight of late, that's all. I'm sure it's nothing, but, you know how important it is that every member of every field unit be in top physical condition."
'Sonovabitch! No, this cannot be happening!' "General." Jack began.
The general, waved him to a stop. "Look, son, I'm sure its nothing. Tell you what? Why don't you just pop down to the infirmary and have Dr. Frasier take a quick look see, make sure everything's all right."
Jack just stared at the general in horror. No, this so wasn't happening. It's all a mistake. 'I eat right, well, apart from the occasional pizza, and MREs don't count because they make me eat those, and I do get lots of exercise, both on planet and off.' Jack straightened his back. 'Alright, that's it. I'll go to the infirmary and Janet will straighten this all out. After all, the scales don't lie. Right! Right?'
General smiled softly at his 2IC. "Go on Jack. I'll call Dr. Frasier and tell her to expect you."
"Yes, sir," Jack replied as he reached for the door knob, opening, and then closing the door behind him.
General Hammond watched the colonel close the door behind his retreating back. George let loose a small chuckle, then picked up the phone and dialed the infirmary.
Dr. Janet Frasier put down her partially eaten sandwich with a slight moue of disgust. It had been a pretty chaotic morning, and now afternoon. In addition to the quarterly inventory of medical supplies-a project Janet loathed at the best of times-two members of SG-6 had returned from an off world mission with substantial injuries: Doctor Walstrom had a broken arm and two cracked ribs courtesy of a nasty fall and Sergeant Ives had a sprained wrist and a colorful and fairly unpleasant assortment of scrapes, bumps and bruises, a souvenir from the desperate attempt to help rescue his teammate.
No sooner did she fix them up than Lieutenant Winthrop came hobbling in with a wrenched knee, the unfortunate result of an overly vigorous hand-to-hand training session. She had been followed by Dr. Ito who had burned his hand while running metallurgical texts on the mystery mineral found on P5X-162. Janet had finally finished patching up her assorted patients, and had taken a few bites out of her now soggy and thoroughly unappetizing sandwich, when she received a call from General Hammond himself, announcing she was about to get a visit from her very favorite patient Colonel Jack "I told you, there's nothing wrong with me, just ignore all the blood" O'Neill. Oh, yes, this day just keeps on giving.
No sooner did the thought cross her mind, then she heard the sound of the door to her infirmary being slammed open in a way that could only mean one thing: Hurricane O'Neill had just breezed into town. Batten down the hatches and pray for mercy because it wasn't going to be pretty.
Janet rose from her chair and slipped out of her office into the infirmary proper. Standing there looking mildly put upon was the man himself. "Doc!"
"Right here, colonel," she responded calmly. "There's no need to yell."
"General Hammond said he wanted me to give you a quick once over. Is there anything I should know?"
He shrugged. "You're the doc, not me. Everything was OK in my post mission exam," he pointed out affably.
"True. But those exams are by their nature rather perfunctory. I'm looking for injuries, contagions, and of course any sign of Goa'uld invasion. There's still a lot that can only be covered in a thorough physical examination."
"Yeah, you don't fool me, doc," he offered with a wry, and terribly charming smile, "I think you just got designs on my prostate."
She couldn't help but snort in amusement at that remark. "You wish, colonel, you wish. Alright, let's see what we can do to get you out of my infirmary and my hair as quickly as possible."
"Anything ya want doc."
"Well, for starters, why don't you get behind that curtain and put on a gown."
"Huh, I knew it. You're just trying to get me out of my clothes. If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times, I'm not that kinda boy," he said as he did as Janet instructed.
She sighed. "Yes colonel, so you have said, over and over again. It wasn't terribly funny the first time and it gets less funny with each repetition."
"Just keeping you on your toes, doc," the disembodied voice replied from behind the curtain.
"Whenever you're ready Colonel O'Neill."
Jack slipped out from behind the curtain dressed in a thin gown which, Jack was sure, could only have been designed by somebody like that Marquis de Sade guy Danny had yammered to him about that one time.
Janet walked over to him, critical eyes assessing, studying probing. "Huh," she said.
"Huh? What the hell does that mean?"
Janet tilted her head to the side, looking carefully at the man standing before here barefoot and garbed in a blue paper gown. "Colonel," she began in that cautious tone of voice she used whenever she was about to give you a needle, a catheter or some lengthy exam that involved putting things in orifices that should really just be left well enough alone. "Have you put on a little weight recently?"
'No! This isn't happening, it can't be happening!' "No. I haven't put on any weight! How could I _possibly_ put on any weight when I spend most of my time running around alien planets, climbing up mountains, lugging around a field pack with all the deluxe accessories, and I eat MRE 1 out of every meals in my adult life. How, I ask you, could anyone gain weight with that diet and regimen." He glared at her, his hands planted firmly on his hips, his nostrils flaring and the sound of his own blood pounding in his ears.
"Calm down, colonel. I don't want your blood pressure to start going up. Hypertension is a real killer and given the stresses of your life, it's not out of the realm of possibility."
Jack made a concerted effort to calm himself down. "Sorry, doc. It's just that all day people have been making not so subtle remarks about my weight and it's really cheesing me off!"
"People?" Janet asked.
"Carter, Teal'c, the general, you."
"So on the basis of four casual comments, you've come to the conclusion that you're obese?"
"Well, that and the pants," he clarified.
"Well, all of a sudden, none of my pants fit. My BDUs, even my Dockers are suddenly uncomfortably tight. I thought it was a laundry snafu, but I don't wash my civvies on base, so there's got to be another explanation."
"Look colonel," Janet began, once again using her soothing doctor's voice. "Maybe there is another explanation, but I am worried about hypertension. And lets face it, the pizza and beer diet you indulge in when home is not exactly health conscious. So, for the next week, no pizza and no beer. Period."
"Aw, but doc." he began.
"Uh," she replied holding up one finger with an air of authority that even Patton or Schwartzkopf would have obeyed. "You heard me. No pizza, no beer. Now get out of my infirmary. I have real patients to tend to."
And with that she turned her back and returned to her office, a slight smile on her face.
Jack just stood in the middle of the infirmary in his bare feet and blue paper gown and wondered why he even bothered getting out of bed this morning.
Jack found himself wandering aimlessly around base. He knew he really should go home, but somehow he just couldn't bring himself to leave, not just yet, anyway. He meandered the corridors for quite some time after leaving the infirmary and somehow he was not surprised when his tired feet brought him to Daniel's lab.
Jack wasn't sure if he came here out of some obscure need for comfort or from a heretofore untapped masochistic streak. Thus far, Daniel was the only member of his close knit circle who hadn't commented upon him being, well, to put it bluntly, fat. Granted, he hadn't seen Daniel all day, hadn't seen him in a week to be completely accurate, but still... Danny was, after all, his friend, his best friend as a matter of fact, and if anyone would be supportive it would be good ole' big hearted forgive and forget Daniel Jackson.
Jack looked inside the open door of Daniel's lab and was not terribly surprised to see his friend seated at his desk, hunched over some old tome peering through a magnifying glass reading lord-and Daniel-only knew what. He gave a quick rap of his knuckles on the door frame. "Hey."
Daniel looked up and gave Jack a brief, distracted smile, "Hey." Daniel put down the magnifying glass, pulled off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose for a few seconds before putting the glasses back on and looking up at Jack once more. "So how was the training mission? Any promising recruits?"
Jack shrugged as he sat on the stool in front of Daniels' desk. "Fine. Same old, same old. A couple of 'em look pretty good, but in the end, its Hammond's call." Jack wriggled around a bit; the waistband of his BDU pants was really digging into his gut now and it was getting damned uncomfortable.
"You OK?" Daniel asked, noticing Jack sudden wiggling.
"Yeah. Ah." Jack suddenly found himself at a loss for words. Should he just ask Daniel if the younger man thought he was fat? Christ, how pathetic is that?! He opted for modulated honesty. "These pants are awfully tight. They don't fit right."
'Huh?! That's it' "What do you mean, huh?"
"What do you mean, what do I mean?"
"Oh fer cryin' out loud Daniel."
"You made an observation, Jack. I simply responded in a neutral, non-committal manner. Don't go getting your shorts in a bunch." Daniel offered amicably, well, as amicably as one could while essentially telling him he was being pissy.
"See how well it works?" Daniel remarked blandly, a faint smile tracing his lips.
Jack shook his head in mock resignation. Only Daniel could get away with lines like that. Jack shifted again, wondering if it would be too blatant-not to mention, embarrassing-if he popped the top button of his pants.
"Those pants are really bothering you, huh?" Daniel queried.
"Yeah, matter of fact."
"Well, maybe the laundry ran your uniforms through a couple of extra rinse cycles by mistake."
Jack looked sharply at Daniel. Was he implying what Jack thought he was implying? A wave of suspicion was building inside of Jack and he so did not like where it was heading. "Yeah that's always possible," Jack agreed.
"Of course, that's no where near as bad, as say, someone running your tee-shirts through an additional hot rinse cycle. Now that really could cause some serious shrinkage."
And every light in the house came on at once. 'Fuck!' "You little shit! It was you, wasn't it?"
"Me, what, Jack? You really need to be more precise in defining your antecedents if you're going to stand bandying about impersonal pronouns without a clear context."
'Oh and now, he's throwing grammar at me, too?!' "Don't play Dr. Professor with me, Danny boy. You know damn well what I'm talking about. You. Shrunk. My. Pants," He added slowly, on the off chance Daniel tried to claim he didn't get it.
"And why, pray tell, would I want to shrink your pants, beyond the obvious possibility of cutting off the supply of oxygen to your brain?" Daniel responded.
'Sonovabitch!' "Because I." 'Oops!'
Daniel glared at him his blue eyes dagger bright. "You what.Jack?" he said in his silkiest, most dangerous voice, which Jack had to admit was both very silky and very dangerous sounding indeed.
"Alright, alright, you win. I was the one who was shrinking your tee-shirts. Satisfied?" Jack snarled. He might've been forced to admit defeat but that didn't mean he had to be gracious about it."
"Yes, Jack, actually I am _quite_ satisfied."
"How did you find out? Did Clem squeal?"
"I have my sources Jack," he remarked calmly, "and the assets at my disposal are quite wide ranging."
Jack thought about this last comment and began to piece together the events of the preceding hours: the shrunken pants, the encounters with Carter, with Teal'c, with.
"They were all in on it!" Jack howled in indignation "Carter, Teal'c, even Hammond and the Doc! How the hell did you sucker them into?"
"You make it sound like it was difficult," Daniel said primly. "There have been enough victims and innocent bystanders who've been caught in the fallout of your juvenile pranks over the years that they were more than happy to co-operate in my little endeavor to teach you a lesson. And if your behavior this afternoon is anything to go by, I'd say it worked out rather well, wouldn't you?"
Jack looked at Daniel in complete astonishment. Daniel had not only managed to ferret out Jack's recent ploy he'd managed to turn it right back on him and shove it up his ass. And, to top it all off, he'd gotten everyone from Hammond on down to help him. He had no idea his little Space monkey was such a devious little shit. Jack was so proud he could burst.
"Wait a second. I can see how you got Carter, Teal'c, and Hammond and Frasier in on the gag, but what about all those other people?"
"What other people," the archeologist asked perplexedly.
"You know, all the people around base: the random airmen, the cooks in the mess hall, Janet's nurses. How did you get them to go along?"
Daniel smiled at Jack, a genuine smile that lightened the mood considerably. "There were no other people, Jack. That was just you own rabid imagination, and maybe your guilty conscience working overtime. Truth be told, you did most of the work for me."
"Alright, alright, you can stop smirking now. Did anyone ever tell you you were a poor winner?"
"Aw, c'mon Jack, what's the fun in winning if you can't gloat offensively about it to the losing party?"
"You know, Daniel, I liked you a lot better when you were naïve and innocent."
"I was never that naïve and innocent, Jack. And I'm not responsible for your misconceptions about me."
"Yeah, whatever. Let's call a truce, alright? I'll stop shrinking your shirts and you'll stop shrinking my pants. I'll even spring for pizza as a conciliatory gesture."
"Alright Jack, deal. No more shrinking of Colonel O'Neill's pants, I promise." Daniel extended his hand to Jack who shook it firmly, sealing the covenant.
"Good," Jack said standing up, and unconsciously tugging a bit on the back of his waistband. "You ready to go? For some reason I'm starved, and I really need to get into a fresh pair of Jack-sized pants."
Daniel couldn't help but smile at that. "Sure. Just let me finish up this passage. Tell you what. I'll meet you topside in 15 minutes. OK?"
"OK. See you there." And with that Jack walked out of the room and headed towards the locker room and his, alas, ill fitting Dockers.
Two minutes after Jack left, Daniel hopped out of his seat peeked out the door to make sure no one was around, and closed it quickly, turning the lock to insure absolute privacy. He picked up the handset of his phone and punched in a four digit extension. He waited for three rings before he got an answer.
"Number Two? This is Dr. Evil. It is time to implement phase two of "Operation All TemperCheer."
"One extra hot rinse coming up."
"Thanks. Oh, and Caroline? Only his tee-shirts. I promised that I wouldn't shrink his pants anymore."
"Will do, Daniel."
"Thanks Caroline, you're a real doll."
"For you Daniel? Anytime."
And with that Daniel hung up the phone and strode purposefully from his office, a secretive smile on his lips and visions of belly buttons dancing though his head.
Next: Tumble Dry