I just don't feel like it," I said, holding the phone to my ear,
reaching for the next carrot to chop. "And don't tell me it was
Calvin's idea. I see you all over this invitation too."
"I can't put a plea in anywhere can I?" Cassie asked, giggling. "Honestly Calvin was the one to pick out the card. I just sent it."
I glanced at the kid Valentine card. "Somehow, I don't believe that one either. There is a distinct 'Cassie' feel to it. Remember, there is not much you can get past me anymore, kiddo."
I heard her giggle again and could not help but laugh with her. "Ok, but he licked the envelope."
"So you admit it!" I said, dropping the chopped carrots into the pot. She said yes, and cleared her throat. "Spill it."
"Well, mom," she started, quite sarcastically. I rolled my eyes as she continued, "I was talking to Daniel a few days ago and he mentioned that next week was the annual 'Paint the Halls Red' exchange, and I think you should enter it."
"Is that what the red card and the red confetti - that got all over my couch I might add - was all about," I said, adding water to the carrots.
"Are you making something?" Cassie asked.
"Yes, I'm making some soup. We have a long mission coming up in two weeks and the weather reports are calling for snow, snow, and snow. Needless to say, Mitchell is thinking about skiing."
"What's he like?" Cassie asked, almost with a dreamy sigh.
I rolled my eyes at the phone again. "He's the commander of SG-1, he has a great sense of humor, and lets Daniel and I do our thing. And, yes, he kind of reminds me of General O'Neill."
"What?" I asked, not tracking.
"Sam, his name is Jack. I would think by now you two could be addressing each other - especially over the phone - by your first names," Cassie said, giving another sigh. "So do you miss him? Jack I mean."
I stirred the soup and thought about it. Jack - yes I call him Jack in my mind - and I tried to see how a non-professional - I could feel myself blush even now - relationship would work. While in Area 51 we shared a few drinks, him trying to convince me hockey should be the next American past time and we caught a few late night movies. He was very nice, relaxed, and always cracking jokes. We came to the agreement that what we wanted from a relationship - with each other, or someone else - were very different.
"Honestly, no. Who I miss the most is my dad," I said. We fell silent for a moment "Look, I'm sorry. Happier note."
"Happier note. I think you should sign up for the secret admirer exchange. If nothing else, you will get some good chocolate, maybe some roses... not dead, preferably," Cassie said, a lightness to her voice. "Valentine's is supposed to be fun."
I glanced at the phone and laughed. "You are pushing this exchange aren't you? Let me guess, Calvin thought it up to tell me to do it."
Cassie huffed at me. "I dare you to sign up. I dare you to get something really nice for the week of Valentine's, I dare you to just enjoy being admired."
I thought about it. "Ok, your right. I might not have Pete to give me flowers, and Dad's not going to order a bouquet of chocolate roses from half way across the galaxy. I guess just because I don't have a guy this year does not mean I can't enjoy myself. Even if it is from some guy who has no interest."
"Oh, I would not say that. There are plenty of guys who wish they could date you. It's just that none but a few would be worthy of it," Cassie said, sincerity coming through the phone.
"Thanks," I choked out. I wiped a tear from my cheek. "What's Calvin planning this year?"
* * *
On the way to my office, I stopped by the table on level 15 to put my name in the box to be matched with a secret admirer. The Captain who was manning the table, and Dr. Lam who was also filling out a form, had the good graces not to say anything. The things I do for Cassie. Well, I guess it's also equally for me, too.
* * *
I picked up my coffee mug and frowned as I once more observed that it was unusually empty.
"Wondering why it's not a bottomless cup?" a voice asked laced with humor.
"I should invent one," I said flatly, turning to see Colonel Cameron Mitchell leaning in the doorway. I mentally brushed the thought that Jack had done the same thing many times.
"Well do you want company on the coffee run?" he asked coming into the room. He looked like he wanted to lean on the desk since he careful looked for a spot where he would avoid any paper that I had strewn across the work area. Giving up, he sat down and folded his arms instead. "Or are you like Jackson and have a personal bistro somewhere in here?"
I laugh at the description. "No, but I do have a 12 cup coffee maker." I pointed to the pink coffee maker sitting on the shelf. There was an extra mug and sugar packets sitting neatly nearby.
"Cassie gave it to me. She had an extra one, and mine broke in the move. And it's pink because she bought them during a charity drive sponsoring the Breast Cancer Foundation at her school," I said, walking toward the machine. A man standing in the door caught my attention. "Yes Airman?"
"Ma'am," he replied, holding out a red, pink and white envelope and a single rose. He blushed as I came over to him. "It's for the 'Paint the Walls Red,' ma'am."
"Thank you," I said, taking the items from him with my free hand. I brought the rose, envelope and my freshly replenished mug to the desk I glanced at Mitchell - Cam as he insists we call him. "Another Cassie thing. She called me last night and reminded me that the annual Valentine�s Secret Admire Exchange. She can be really brutal; dared me to do it this year."
"You haven't in the past?" Cam asked, craning his neck as I opened the envelope.
"Not for a while. It's only been a tradition for the past four years; Janet was really the driving force behind it that year. Then the next year it was the nurses, and I think after that different departments have sponsored it." I opened the envelope and pulled the card out. I held it close to my chest and looked at Cam. "Can I help you?"
"No, no.... So you get a name and what happens?"
"Well for a week we have to give presents or something to our exchange partner," I said, holding the paper and envelope up, still away from his wondering eyes. "Than, on Valentine's Day, we all dress up and have a party up on level 15, the sponsoring department decorating the storage room. There we exchange final gifts and we find out who our secret admirers are. There is always a lot of food involved and dancing. In the past there have been some interesting partners... and the committee swears it is random. One year, I think it was the first one, one pair was actually a married couple - they were each other's secret admirers. It was really funny when they told each other." I smiled as I remembered the surprised look on both of their faces.
"Hmm well it sounds fun. Good thing I signed up," Cam said, pushing off the stool. He flashed a smile and then left. A blush crept up neck as I sipped my coffee and turned back to the computer. Was Cam my secret admirer and was trying to be sly about it?
* * *
I slid my card in the reader and rubbed my eyes. The coffee had taken its toll, but really was not helping to keep me awake, and so I was finally going to the commissary to try food. My arms were full of folders, and as a few other scientists came around the corner, I hugged them close so they would not be knocked out of my hands. Punching the elevator, I went back to reading the last letter of recommendation from the Pentagon. They wanted to being in new blood into the Astrophysics Department, and I was all for that, but had fallen dreadfully behind. I am not a desk person; someone has to kick Ori butt out there.
I blindly walked into the mess hall, barely noticing that people parted around me as I forged ahead, and finally looked up to make sure the table I usually ate at was free. I smiled; Daniel seemed to have the same thought. He poked at his green beans and flipped through another file.
"Put your stuff down, no need to hold that while working your way through the line," Daniel said as he still looked at the file. Looking up he smiled. "Besides, who would really want to be sitting here with me right now? I'm in my own world, and well..." he waived his fork around.
I gave a small laugh as I placed my own pile on the table. Daniel tended to mutter in other languages when he went off into Jacksonland. He caught me speaking Italian once while I was in my lab studying some new nebula. I walked through the line, picking up the general food that would not be overtly messy. I grabbed a chocolate mousse topped with red and white shavings. Valentine's might be a week away, but that never stopped the food staff. It is not unheard of to have turkey for the whole month of November.
"So I see you have some recommendations that you have to go through too," Daniel said as I unloaded my tray. "Sometimes, when we are out there, I forget that I am a head of some department that functions just fine without me."
"I know what you mean. I come back and there are reports of experiments, a few discoveries, and new techniques in my box. It's like all I do is sign off on them, see the end result." I speared my own green beans. "Sometimes I wish we could just stop the world for a while and be able to do my own work."
"Feel like we deserve the title," Daniel nodded.
"Ya," I replied. "I think the last time I back engineered anything was..."
"If you have to think, it's too long," Daniel said somberly. "I feel that I am reduced to taking rubbings, punching in gate addresses and commenting on the time period of the people. I could use some of that extended time too."
"And the worst thing is that we have down time, but it always seems to be -"
"Filled for us," Daniel finished. We descended into nodding and thoughtfully chewing our meals. "Mitchell told me that you told him about the admirer exchange."
I nodded, somewhat thankful for the change of topic. "Ya, he just kind of popped into my office and was asking some questions when the Airman delivered my envelope. It was weird actually."
"Just the way he acted afterwards ... I don't know but he may have my name," I said, digging into the chocolate.
"I would think he would be a bit ... subtler than that, Sam," Daniel said, helping himself to a spoonful also.
"I don't know, just a bit off. Did you sign up?"
"Yes, I think I may regret it though," Daniel said, licking his spoon. "Why do we torture ourselves, Sam?"
"Well Cassie dared me to do it," I said, scrapping the bottom of the cup.
"And you listened to her? She's 20 years old, and your," he started. I gave him a glare and he blushed. "Ok, so I am no better."
I cocked my head and rested my chin in my hand. "Cassie dared you too?" His continual blushing gave me the answer. "Why do we torture ourselves indeed?"
* * *
I stayed on base since in the morning we were scheduled to do a 'quick and routine' mission to check up on one of the planets another team had sent supplies to. I had asked Cam if he really believed it would be so 'quick and routine' as we walked down the halls.
"Afraid you will miss a gift from your admirer, Sam?" he said, breaking into a grin.
"No. I figured whoever it is will know I am gone. All the manifests are public knowledge," I said. "It's just lately not many things are 'quick and easy' these days."
"The Priors and Ori do make us run for those quiet moments don't they," Cam agreed. "Well, have a good evening, and I'll see you all bright and early at 0700."
I opened the door to my quarters and nodded. Closing the door, flipping on the switch, I pulled off my jacket and put it on the hook near the door. I glanced at my watch - 2108 - and wondered if Daniel would be swinging by. We had our last coffee and split a coffee cake piece together just before Cam's brief briefing.
"Isn't coffee and coffee cake redundant?" Cam had asked. Daniel and I simply looked at one another and shook our heads. Coffee is coffee, no matter in what form. As I opened the dresser drawer and took out my stash of Almond Joys and Skittles, I decided that, no, Daniel would not be coming by. He had commented how tired he was, and really he looked like he could use more then just a few hour's sleep.
I noticed the envelope once more, and as I tied my pajama bottoms, I opened the note.
Name: Dr. Daniel Jackson
Position in SGC: SG-1/ Head of Archeology Department
Dislikes: Creepy alien women
Favorite color: Cyan
Least favorite color: Mauve
Favorite phrase: Greetings, I'm Daniel Jackson, and this is the Band, we are here to play a gig.
Least favorite phrase: I mean you no harm. -Or- Come with me, I will protect you.
Favorite food: Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Least favorite food: Macaroni and cheese MREs
Favorite drink: Coffee
Least favorite drink: Anything served in a mug that's 8ozs or less
If you had an extra $25, where would you go? Take a friend to a dinner and movie.
I drive.... A car, sometimes a spaceship
I like to.... Study and learn new cultures, or just sleep
If I had a library, one book that I want but don't have in my collection would be....T.S. Elliott's poems
Who would play you on TV? Don't know, maybe someone from Canada? They are good actors.
I found myself laughing and a tear on my cheek as I read his responses. Daniel, I am your secret admirer, so watch out! I looked it over once more and had an idea. Picking up the phone I called to the infirmary.
"Carolyn, can I ask a favor?" As I talked I took out a pair of scissors and some construction paper, and dug out an unopened box of girl-scout mint thins. I hung up; arrangements made and started to make Dr. Daniel Jackson's first few presents.
* * *
Surprisingly, Cam was right, it was a quick and routine mission. We went back to Earth a few days later, well feed and finally well rested. Cam quipped that we needed to have more trading partners that believed in more rest then work. I reminded him that having advanced harvesting techniques helped. After our check ups, showers and debriefing, I went down to the mailboxes. I was shocked, and slightly embarrassed that there was a small rosebush on the table with a tag that marked it as mine. As I opened my box, two letters almost fluttered to the floor and a box of trail mix almost came crashing down with it.
"Got a secret admirer huh, Sam?" Cam asked as he came over. I smirked as he opened his own box and something inside it started singing "You're My Sunshine." He yanked the fuzzy purple bear and frantically started to look at it to find the off switch. I almost busted out laughing as I caught Teal'c expression as Cam started to beat the bear on the table.
"Is that not considered cruelty to animals, ColonelMitchell?" he asked with a hint of amusement.
"It's not when it started to torture you first," he said, as he still beat the stuffed animal. He sighed as it stopped singing. "Sweet reprieve." He did not put it in the trash, rather carried it on top his other mail. He was half way down the hall when I heard it start singing again, albeit in a slower, higher pitched voice, and was sure it lost the fight when it suddenly screeched it's last note out.
"I don't think his admirer would be too happy to know that he broke his gift," Daniel said, leaning over to me. "Looks like you got a load there, need some help?" He also opened his mailbox and took out several cards and a very familiar box of cookies.
"Sure, would love some help," I said, as Daniel picked the rose bush up. "I don't think that will grow very much underground, I need to bring that home as soon as I am able."
"Well here it will be watered," Daniel reminded me. I nodded and fell in step with him as we walked down the hall toward my office. Daniel set the bush down, opened the box of cookies, and read the letters. As we talked about different things, we managed to polish off all the cookies and drink a full pot of coffee. To see Daniel's face light up at the Thin Mints and cards made it all worth it.
Days 1, 2 and 3 down, four more to go.
|* * *
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