Warriors, Pink Cakes and Little Gray Butts by Cjay
Part One of Warriors, Pink Cakes and Lil' Gray butts; another
stirring chapter in the continuing adventures of that delectable hard
candy confection, with the soft chewy center, Jack O'Neill:
Endeavoring to settle into his new posting at
the Pentagon, Jack finds the major assigned as his assistant annoying in
the extreme. Promptly setting out to find the irritating supercilious
popinjay a suitable new posting, he proceeds to locate an aide-de-camp
whose character reflects principles our ex-special ops operative can
respect. Devising a seemingly innocent test, he sends the new man out to
collect a list of 'necessities' for an upcoming mission of
'international importance.' Then, learning that his boon companion and
bother-of-the-soul, Teal'c is uncharacteristically glum, the sly general
schemes to lift the gloomy Jaffa's spirits by summoning him to
Washington in the company of Colonel Mitchell, entangling the pair in
yet another of his canny schemes...
And now, on to...
TWO: O'Neill's Unique Solution - Within the Brilliance
Rowdy ushered Teal'c and the colonel into General
O'Neill's private office and closed the door. Turning, he spotted a
vintage green Yo-Yo resting atop a neatly folded scrap of paper, perched
conspicuously on the seat of his chair. Bemused, he set the wooden toy
aside and unfolded the note beneath. It read:
Teal'c and I will be leaving at light speed.
Ignore the fireworks and take care of Mitchell.
Tucking the note and the prized Yo-Yo inside his
right hip pocket, the major sat down at his desk, absently shuffling
papers. Contemplating the new experiences his recent assignment had thus
far presented in rapid-fire succession, he ignored the sudden bright
flash of light spilling under the general's door.
"Well Mortensen, how soon can you be packed?"
Mitchell's soft drawl pulled Rowdy from his
daydream. Blinking, he looked up. "Sir?"
"Apparently General O'Neill's taken a shine to you,
Major." Colonel Cameron Mitchell settled a file folder beneath
Mortensen's nose. Flipping it open with a flourish, he tapped the orders
contained within. "Come sunset, you and I will be soaring with the
eagles." Resting one hip on the edge of the desk, he crossed his arms
over his chest.
Rowdy carefully scanned the brief paragraphs before
him. According to the paperwork, he was to return to Stargate Command,
along with Colonel Mitchell by way of the top-secret X-303. Once there,
he was to await the general's arrival, sometime within the next week,
and familiarize himself with both the facility beneath the mountain and
its personnel's unique mission.
Panic's icy hands slid along the scarred flesh of
his spine, wrapped her long fingers around his lungs, and squeezed hard.
Gritting his teeth stubbornly, he concentrated on breathing slowly,
denying terror a foothold.
Mitchell noted the major's unnatural stillness. The
mute man's posture gave him pause. He didn't know anything about the
general's aide, but he did know military men and he sensed the officer
before him was grappling with something bigger than rearranging a
schedule. "Any questions, Major?"
O'Neill's new man slid a stealthy hand inside his
pocket. Wrapping his long fingers around the well-worn Yo-Yo, he held on
tight. Slowly his pounding heart regained its usual steady rhythm.
Barely hearing the colonel's query over the residual roaring in his
ears, he looked Mitchell in the eye. "When do we leave?"
colonel's blue-eyed gaze mirrored the major's studied nonchalance. "Well
Mortensen, I'm famished. My first priority is a good meal, a shower and
a bit of shuteye. So, I guess I'll leave arranging our flight clearance
"Very good, Sir." Rowdy nodded. Using the desk as
cover, he wiped his sweaty palms on his trouser legs. "General O'Neill
secured temporary quarters for you here in town. Once I've ferried you
over, I'll give the airfield a call." Pushing back in his chair, he
snapped the folder shut.
"Hold your horses," Mitchell interjected, raising a
hand. Mortensen seemed inordinately eager to be rid of him. "I'd prefer
to eat first."
Realizing his error, Rowdy colored lightly. "Of
course, Colonel, my apologies.
problem, I assume you've a few loose ends to tie up around here."
"Thank you, Colonel. Actually, as the general was
to be away for a few days, I was planning to tackle the small mountain
of paperwork he left behind on his desk." Rowdy admitted
conspiratorially. "Do you have a taste for anything in
Mitchell's eyes lit with undisguised desire. "Well,
I don't suppose you know where a man can get a generous portion of
Rowdy smiled crookedly. "I assume you'd like a bit
of cornbread to go along with said barbecue."
Squinting, Mitchell pursed his lips and cocked his
head. "I did say 'Southern-style,' didn't I?"
"That you did, Colonel. And I know just the place."
Rising to his feet, Rowdy tucked the folder beneath his left arm. "I
confess your choice makes my mouth water with anticipation. Might I join
Unfolding his lanky frame, Mitchell smiled with
genuine pleasure. "Well now, any man who has a hankering for the
ambrosia of the South is welcome to share my table anytime,
"Ambrosia of the South," Rowdy repeated
appreciatively. "Mind if I borrow that rather poetic turn of phrase,
Mitchell's eyes narrowed warily. "Well Mortensen,
that all depends..."
was planning to use it to finesse us an early lunch." Rowdy's ingenuous
expression reinforced his sincerity.
Glancing at his watch, Mitchell noted it was barely
0930. "In that case, feel free to wield my jargon in any way you see
"Thank you, Sir. I'll call the airfield after our
mutual need for sustenance has been met." Rowdy opened the office door
to allow the senior officer to precede him.
Grabbing his cap from a nearby file cabinet, he set
it jauntily on his curly dark head. "Once I lay that 'Ambrosia of the
South' line on Miss Jolene I'm confident she'll satisfy our mutual
"Major, I like your style." Mitchell's head bobbed
lightly as he moved fluidly into the hall. "Yes, sir, I think we're
gonna get on just fine."
When Mortensen suggested they forgo transportation
and walk the short distance to the restaurant, Mitchell readily agreed.
"My legs could use a bit of stretching."
was a fair day for walking. The morning was bright and cloudless. A
cooling light breeze ruffled the few trees scattered alongside the hot
sidewalk, adding nature's music to the soft drone of their surroundings.
Always observant, Mitchell noted the slight hitch in the taller man's
gait, slowed his pace and fell into step beside the younger officer.
"So, what do you think of General O'Neill?"
major hesitated briefly. "I think there is more to the general than
meets the eye, Sir." Despite his earnest expression, Mortensen's lips
Mitchell heard the admiration and respect beneath
the carefully chosen words. 'And in spite of the fact that you've only
know O'Neill a short time, you'd gladly take a bullet for
Satisfied, he changed the subject. "Guess it's a
bit early for lunch. I sure hope this Miss Jolene is feeling
"I'd say we've got more than a fair chance. She
seems to have a weak spot for military types." Mortensen confided with a
"Military types in general, Mortensen..." Mitchell
drawled mischievously, eyeing the major's spit-and-polished attire. "Or
good-natured barb sparked a shift in the major's careful air.
"There is no denying that a few shiny medals and a
chest full of colorful ribbons, coupled with one's own unique sense of
style, tend to ease the way with most ladies." Rowdy's eyebrows rose
impishly. "However, I'm betting your smooth Southern charm will steal
Miss Jolene's breath clean away."
Returning Mortensen's smirk with similar panache,
Mitchell knew he'd found a kindred soul. "Touché."
Snapping the shower curtain aside, Mitchell wrapped
a thick towel around his lean waist. Using a second towel, he rubbed his
short sandy hair dry. Padding out of the bath, he striped the damp cloth
from his flanks and tossed it aside. Stretching out on the large
inviting bed, Cameron tucked a pillow under his head, rubbing his
over-stuffed belly with a sigh. Dining at Miss Jolene's sated both his
appetite and an ever-lingering need for the soothing ways of the
was apparent from the moment that he and Mortensen entered the lady's
small, yet attractive, establishment that they were welcome. Recognizing
the major with a smile of delight she'd bustled out from behind the
orderly counter to offer her magnolia-kissed cheek for the major's fond
peck. And, mere moments after Rowdy laid the 'Ambrosia of the South'
line on her; Miss Jolene served up a luncheon fit for the gods. Her
succulent cornbread coupled with the gentile woman's sassy repartee
eased an unspoken ache in Cameron's soul. It'd been a long time since
he'd enjoyed such culinary bliss.
Miss Jolene's attitude regarding Cameron's
desperate need for nourishment had been charitable. Although, he
suspected she'd been more concerned with stuffing Mortensen, than
pleasing his palate. The lady fussed over the likeable young officer
like a mother hen over her long lost chick.
Pulling the light coverlet over his naked limbs,
Cam punched at his pillow, adjusting his position. His body was more
than ready to rest; yet, sleep eluded him. There was something
intangible about the major that weighed on his mind. Judging by the
slight limp and quickly hidden grimace whenever he rose from a seated
position, the major's rangy body was still on the mend from some
grievous injury. But, the memory of Mortensen's unnatural stillness as
he read the general's order suggested there was something
O'Neill's request flittered within the fringes of
his consciousness. On the surface it was a simple enough assignment; get
to know Mortensen and familiarize him with the basics of Stargate
command. Conversely, the unspoken interplay between the general and
Teal'c in the office this morning left him feeling mystified. His gut
told him there was more depth to this so-called 'favor' than the
general's light tone implied - his gut, and a lingering history of
succumbing to the seasoned covert operative's machinations.
flipped over and buried his head under the pillow, willing his mind to
shutdown. Drifting off, he wondered what the crafty O'Neill was really
Gazing about the cavernous council chamber,
Brigadier General Jack O'Neill coolly watched chaos ensue.
Convincing the delegates aboard Commander Thor's
flagship to set aside any debate until after they'd sampled the
delicacies he'd brought along, proved to be all too easy. Since the
Asgard diet consisted of multicolored squares and cubes, the many and
sundry items he dumped from his shopping bag seemed both innocent and
tempting. Admiring the shiny colors, his long fingered hosts tore
through the packets concealing the candies inside. Trusting O'Neill
implicitly they summarily popped the small potent doses of refined sugar
into their unsuspecting thin-lipped mouths.
he'd been the first to imbibe, Thor was the first to succumb. Swaying
gently from side to side, a small wet pink sphere eased out of his tiny
mouth, growing rapidly as he exhaled.
Half a dozen large gleaming black eyes dilated in
fascination as the bubble expanded and grew. Until, it suddenly popped,
leaving its gooey remains tenaciously spread across his pointy gray
Startled, the council's mesmerized members released
a collective gasp.
"Ah, for crying out loud!" Blinking sluggishly, the
little alien swiped an unsteady hand at his newly acquired tacky pink
beard. "O'Neill this method is flawed!"
the contrary, you are not the first to experience a similar outcome. You
must employ perseverance." Teal'c advised sagely. "Observe."
Inhaling deeply, the muscular warrior worked his
jaw briefly; and then, exhaled slowly, emitting an ever-growing,
slightly oblong pink orb. Gauging the expansion carefully, he arched an
Satisfied, he sucked the elastic matter back into
his mouth. "Perhaps, you should begin again, Commander Thor."
Jack coughed; using a quick hand to mask his
reaction, delight suffocating minuscule embers of regret.
"Way to go, T." Jack crowed, slapping the Jaffa
proudly on the back,
"O'Neill..." Thor grumbled forlornly, "I fear that I
shall never aspire to either yours or Bazooka Joe's
Jack handed Thor another square of chewing gum. "You're
doing fine, buddy. All ya need is more material... and a tad more
practice." Manipulating the large wad he'd sequestered against his
molars, O'Neill extended the tip of his tongue passed rounded lips,
exhaling softly. The small planet-like mass he rapidly produced dwarfing
that of the erstwhile Jaffa.
Drawing closer to observe the general's technique, High
Councilor Astrid swallowed her last bite of licorice, giving up all pretense
of boredom. "Most impressive...you display great prowess, human. However,
given sufficient time... we are confident Supreme Commander Thor
shall surpass your ability."
"No doubt, High
Councilor... it's nothing more than a simple matter of repetition."
Jack nodded politely and shrugged, sucking the shiny pink mass
back into his mouth. "As you are a vastly superior race, such... ah,
trivialities are mere child's play...
Scooping a handful of pink cakes from a nearby
pedestal, he made short work of their wrappings, extending them with an
abbreviated bow. "Perhaps you'd care to try?"
Returning the human's deferential salute, Astrid
accepted the implied challenge. "We shall all try this unique custom of
yours, O'Neill." Hiccupping loudly, she strove to maintain a dignified
stance while greedily stuffing several pieces into her diminutive
Noting the exchange, the remainder of the
delegation abandoned whatever confection they'd been sampling. Moving
forward, they haughtily accepted the cubes O'Neill and Teal'c swiftly
Soon the entire company's bloodstream was polluted.
The task of demanding Earth answer for the situation with the Ori
forgotten, replaced by an ever escalating infatuation with the art of
Jack sidestepped another intoxicated gray body and
drew alongside Teal'c. "Ya know T; I think the whole vastly superior
intellect thing is overrated."
"Indeed, O'Neill." The Jaffa's sepulchral tone was
laced with thinly disguised amusement. "You've successfully clouded
their vision with sheep's hair."
"I'll bet you've been dying to skew that
colloquialism for years." Jack tossed back shrewdly. "Got any more
colorful phrases you need to get off your chest, T?"
"Such as?" Teal'c queried his thick lips quirking
Jack was thrilled to see a rare spark of childish joy igniting in
the all too often somber Jaffa's dark eyes. "Well let's see... oh, ah...
here's one... that was like taking candy from a
"Alas O'Neill, that particular phrase does not
apply." Teal'c responded with mock sorrow. "The Asgard are far from
children and we gave them the sweets..."
"Jeez, T... are ya trying to rain on my parade?" Jack
complained with a sniff. "Or just goad me into spouting another
apologies, O'Neill." The Jaffa replied cheekily, adding a small
deferential bow. "What now?"
"Now, we negotiate." Jack replied dryly.
After taking a few minutes to scrutinize the stats
on the X-303, it took Mortensen less than an hour to log their flight
plan, notify an obviously half-asleep Colonel Mitchell of the departure
time and make sure the general's affairs were in order. Securing the
last file cabinet, he locked the office up tight and headed out to get
precisely 2100 hours, both he and Mitchell would be strapped inside a
small metallic craft and launch perilously into space. It wasn't the
flight that disturbed him. It was the confinement. A splinter of panic
sketched a frigid path along the vulnerable contours of his aching
spine. Suddenly, he was shattered... hemmed in, feeling the chill
penetrate helpless limbs... his nostrils clogged with particles of gritty
soil... his lifeblood feeding the sandy earth that entombed
Fumbling in his pocket, Rowdy's clammy hand located
his newest talisman. The worn green wood of O'Neill's parting gift felt
familiar and safe, its welcome presence pulling him back from the past.
Gulping air, he pried frightened eyelids open, forcing his paralyzed
brain to focus on his current surroundings.
Licking the salty sweat from his upper lip, he
furtively scanned a few passersby gauging their reaction. Nobody seemed
in the least affected. Clearing his parched throat, he planted one shaky
foot in front of the other, moving aimlessly along. Once upon a time,
fear had been a valued tool, an ally keeping him safe with her whisper
of warning. But now, terrifying tendrils of memory refused to depart.
Rowdy doubted his mind would ever truly be free again.
Leaving the Pentagon behind, the brooding major
paced along the neat streets of Alexandria, hoping the afternoon sun's
bright warmth would dispel the insidious shadows lingering in his
Jerome finished sweeping the last bits of discarded
debris into his ancient dustpan and set aside his broom. Mopping his
balding head with a large faded handkerchief, he squinted upwards
allowing the puffy clouds to mitigate his ire. Litterbugs offended his
sensibilities. Clicking his tongue, the confectioner was just about to
stoop over and collect his pan when a familiar figure rounded the
Startled, the preoccupied major looked up. Catching
sight of the round little man, wearing an apron and a smile, he quickly
plastered on a polite grin. "How are you today, Sir?"
"Sir?" The wizened fellow echoed disappointedly.
"Suddenly I'm a stranger? Yesterday it was Uncle Jerome..."
Coloring, Rowdy stammered. "Forgive me... Uncle Jerome...
I was just..."
"Coming to have tea with me!" Jerome interrupted
gleefully. Gathering his dustpan and broom, he dumped the pan's contents
into a nearby trash receptacle. "And here I thought I'd have to eat my
Emma's freshly baked cookies alone." Shaking his head, he bustled back
inside his shop.
Rowdy was about to decline, the sizeable brunch
Miss Jolene had prepared more than sated his appetite, but something in
the older man's tone and carriage echoed an almost forlorn loneliness.
Glancing at his watch, he trailed behind. "Cookies?"
"Back here." Pushing past the long curtain hiding
the backroom of his establishment, Jerome tucked the cleaning utensils
inside a tall cupboard. Maneuvering his squat frame beyond a small pile
of boxes, he led Rowdy through a tunnel-like stockroom and into his tidy
office. Resting on top of an old-fashioned roll top desk, a state of the
art computer sat incongruously beside a lightly steaming brass kettle,
perched atop an electric hotplate.
Using his double chin to indicate a pair of old-fashioned
chairs in the corner, Jerome motioned for Rowdy to take a seat.
"Sit, sit... I'll just wash the dust from my hands and be right with
Stepping into an adjacent room, Jerome's voice
mingled with the sound of running water. "So what sort of tea do you
fancy? Take a gander inside the desk's top right-hand drawer; I've got
quite an assortment to choose from."
Rowdy preferred coffee. However, obediently pulling
the two chairs next to the desk, he sat down. "I'm not picky." Setting
his cap aside, he slid the ornate drawer open revealing at least a dozen
oddly shaped tins. Choosing a round container brightly decorated with
small birds and blossoms, he set it on the desk's polished surface.
"What about you, Uncle Jerome?"
"Oh, I like them all..." Stepping back into the
office Jerome eyed Rowdy's choice appreciatively. Selecting two
cobalt-blue ceramic mugs from a shelf above the desk, he filled each
with steaming water. Fishing several tea bags from within the tin, he
then set them to steep. "Nothing refreshes the body in the afternoon
like a cup of tea and a homemade treat!"
Stooping over, Jerome pulled the desk's bottom
drawer open and withdrew a sealed plastic container from within. Prying
the lid off, he offered his guest the first choice. "The oatmeal-raisins
are my personal favorite, but you must try them all."
momma used to make them with walnuts." Selecting the uppermost cookie,
Rowdy obligingly took a large bite. Chewing slowly, he closed his eyes;
savoring the sweetness as it tantalized his taste buds. It'd been a
longtime since he'd been treated to a little bit of home. Instinctively,
his rigid body relaxed.
Pleased by the younger man's response, Jerome eased
silently into the opposite chair and blew softly on the surface of his
shop's entry bell tickled distantly, drawing the pair from their
"Ah, a customer. Have another cookie my boy, I
shan't be long." Setting his cup aside, Jerome bustled from the
Rowdy washed the cookie's remains down with a sip
of hot tea and sat back. Allowing his eyes to roam over the organized
little office, he wondered at the absence of anything really personal.
The only items on display were those generic to any office. Given
Jerome's seemingly open demeanor, the curious officer found that
intriguing. In fact, given the clutter of the storeroom, the room's
immaculate condition was downright peculiar. 'Get a grip Mortensen;
you're letting your dark frame of mind eclipse Jerome's
Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved his Yo-Yo.
Slipping the string's loop over his right middle finger, he flicked his
wrist, watching the painted double disk descend and then, pop back up -
tethered by its string.
Following a rather lengthy sale, Jerome returned to
the office. As he moved through his cluttered storeroom, he caught sight
of the major pensively toying with an all too familiar green wooden toy.
Rowdy's possession of that particular Yo-Yo, a model not produced in
some forty years, confirmed something he'd guessed after yesterday's
shopping expedition, and a certain general's visit. The master of covert
intrigue was at it again.
Reclaiming his chair, Jerome pried open the door to
one of the roll top desk's many cubbyholes, removed a faded cigar box
and laid it almost reverently across one knee. Dragging the large yellow
rubber band encompassing the worn box off to one side, he opened the
top. Inside a glossy red Yo-Yo and a multicolored wooden top lay
majestically on a bed of assorted old-fashioned marbles. Selecting the
Yo-Yo, he shut the carton once more, reseated the rubber band and set
the box aside.
Making a great show of rolling up his shirtsleeves,
the elderly rascal pulled the toy's looped string over one gnarled
finger and proceeded to perform several intricate tricks without
uttering a word.
Cameron's questing tongue traced a seductive path
along the plump contours of the smoky brunette's lower lip. His
calloused hands were just about to venture further along the vixen's
tempting curves when her soft moans altered into the distinctive melodic
notes of his personal cell phone. While his cloudy mind strove to hang
onto the voluptuous woman, his disciplined hands groped the bedside
table, looking for the phone. Sadly, as soon as he located the offensive
source of intrusion, the tantalizing brunette disappeared. "Damnation!
This had better be good."
Blinking rapidly, Daniel withdrew the small cell phone
from his sensitive ear. "Sorry, Mitchell... is this a bad
"What?" Recognizing Jackson's voice, Cameron sat
upright in bed, rubbing the remnant of slumber from his eyes. Glancing
at the nearby clock he noted it was only just 1500. "Gee no, Daniel
three hours of sleep after pulling an all-nighter should be enough for
Reseating the phone, Daniel chose to ignore the
snarl in Cameron's voice. "Glad to hear it. Your call earlier got me to
"How shocking." Cameron responded
know Mitchell; until I met you I used to think Jack O'Neill had cornered
the market on sarcasm." Daniel volleyed in kind. "Was it a blonde or a
redhead?" He added knowingly.
"Point taken." Cameron swung his legs over the side
of the bed and stretched. "So what's up?"
I said, this 'assignment' Jack gave you doesn't track...I mean, why send
his aide here? So, I decided to put my rather lofty security clearance
to good use." Using his free hand, Daniel tapped his laptop. "I've spent
the last hour or so pouring over Major Ronan Mortensen's
Mitchell grabbed his boxer's and staggered groggily
into the bathroom. "And?"
"Cam, maybe you should rethink your departure
time..." Jackson's tone chased the last fragments of sleep from Mitchell's
brain. "I don't think it's a good idea for the major to be traveling
inside a small metal ship in the dark."
'Blast!' Rowdy's attempt to mimic Uncle Jerome's
Yo-Yo proficiency fell short. Winding the string yet again, he gave it
"You'll get the hang of it; after all... I've been at
it a tad longer than you." Jerome's rather smug little grin belied his
modest words. "I knew a young man once who displayed a similar form of
tenacity. Mind you, he lacked patience, but then again, this fellow
hated to lose."
wasn't aware this was a competition." Rowdy responded distractedly
attempting to 'walk the dog.'
"Competition is overrated. Keep the string taunt,
like so." Slowly repeating the stunt's steps, Jerome hid a smile. "Once
you've mastered the basics, you will find that working with your Yo-Yo
can be remarkably therapeutic."
tell?" Rowdy inquired skeptically. "And here I thought it was just a
"Unfortunately, too much of life is just a game."
Jerome muttered, flipping the wooden disk into the air. The toy made its
return voyage along its string slapping lightly into the old man's palm;
his grave expression caught his visitor's attention.
Snagging the green Yo-Yo, Rowdy pocketed it and
shifted uneasily. "That was rather flippant of me, Uncle Jerome. I
"What? Oh, no need for that... I was thinking... you
remind me of him." Jerome's rheumy eyes focused on the major's earnest
Rowdy swallowed another sip of tea. "Him,
"The fellow I mentioned before, my previous Yo-Yo
protégé." The little shopkeeper's reflected thoughtfully. "He was hiding
"How's that?" Rowdy coughed sharply.
"Oh, he wasn't as friendly as you my boy. At least,
not at first." Jerome rose quickly to thump the young man's back. "No,
he was so guarded that for him sarcasm became second nature, an
effective sort of mask used to keep him safe."
"That first day, when he strolled into my shop, his voice
was cold, devoid of any emotion. There was no light in his obsidian
eyes... only an impenetrable darkness, the kind that can destroy
one's soul." Leaning in conspiratorially, the little man enunciated each
word carefully. "He was skittering on the remnants of sanity."
Feeling a bit like a bug under a microscope, the
major's fingers clutched his tea mug with involuntary alarm. He couldn't
help wondering if the perceptive candy peddler had noted his similar
"Oh, he hid it well; perhaps too well..." Jerome
continued fondly, regaining his seat. "Turns out, he's a rather
exceptional actor. I knew right then and there that he needed my
Rowdy was hopelessly captivated. "What sort of
Jerome's faded eyebrows arched upwards. "Somehow, I
just had to make him smile."
"You had to make him smile?" Rowdy echoed confused.
"Think about it, a real smile comes from here..."
Jerome laid one chubby finger against Rowdy's heart. "Not here." He
added, plunking the young major lightly on the temple.
Squinting, Rowdy nodded and bit his lip.
Jerome refilled his teacup and took a long draught
of the invigorating fluid. "Ya know, it took me a few tries, but he
finally deigned to offer me a sorry version of a smile...well it was more
of an ironic smirk really..." Plucking a cookie from the container, he
took a large bite, settled back in his chair and sighed. "Sadly, it
never quite reached those expressive eyes of his."
"Somehow I don't believe that's the end of it."
Rowdy advised doubtfully.
"No?" Pausing dramatically, Jerome flicked a few
wayward crumbs from his portly belly.
"No." The major repeated confidently.
"You're right." Jerome allowed chewing enthusiastically.
"He came around again and again, allegedly searching for
something elusive to satisfy his self-proclaimed sweet tooth. I think
it became a sort of quest for him. Oh yes indeed, over the months he
tried every bonbon and sweet-treat known to man, and occasionally he did
smirk... but, I can't say he ever really smiled."
Noting Rowdy's somewhat disillusioned expression,
the little man's eyes danced with merriment. "Until, that is, I made him
a gift of a Yo-Yo. You know to this day I can still see that first
genuine smile, it lit him up like a glorious sunrise after a stormy
suspect it was more your persistent friendship than a simple toy that
did that, Jerome." The major speculated wisely.
"Perhaps." Jerome accepted, cocking his head. "Have
you ever stopped to consider just how a Yo-Yo works?"
Assuming it was a rhetorical question, Rowdy waited
quietly. When nothing further was said, he ventured, "Okay, I'm not that
poetic; care to fill me in?"
matter where you throw it, how many twists and turns it takes, even when
it becomes tangled in itself, a Yo-Yo never really loses its way."
Jerome informed him, rubbing the round disk affectionately. "Despite a
few deviations and even a few tenacious knots, it remains secured by its
string, true to its center, its heart if you will..."
"That's what made him smile." Jerome's steely azure
orbs peered intently into Rowdy's hazel eyes. "That's what he clung to;
it's what kept him sane."
Rowdy's mouth went dry. Was it really all that
simple? Reaching into his pocket, he wrapped a fist around the solid
wood of the Yo-Yo.
"Yes, believe me it is. No matter what the
obstacle, no matter how monumental or terrible the task, if you stay
true to who you are, you'll overcome any and all obstacles." Jerome
answered the unspoken question emphatically. "Oh, it won't be easy and
most likely it'll take a good deal of time, but once you get the knots
"You really believe that?" Rowdy interrupted
hoarsely, licking his dry lips.
do. But more importantly, he did." Jerome confirmed quietly. "I saw him
again yesterday for the first time in many years. And, you know what?
His eyes were smiling."
Grinning, Jack dodged another drunken little alien,
boldly navigating yet another corridor of Thor's ship, heading for the
control room. "Ya know T'man...I think we've been going about this whole
diplomacy thing the wrong way. Maybe I should order each team to pack
some of those magnificent little pink cakes along with the C-4 and extra
"Perhaps, O'Neill. However, I believe the Asgard
response to sweets is unique." Teal'c supplied, following protectively
in his wake.
"Hey, everyone has their weakness." Pulling a thick
packet from the inner breast pocket of his dress blues, O'Neill tossed
it over his right shoulder, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "Even an
Without missing a step, Teal'c deftly caught the
parcel. Noting its contents, his grave expression lightened. "My
"You're welcome big guy." Taking a final turn in
the long hallway, the pair moved unchallenged through an open portal.
And drew up short.
believe your presence is no longer required, O'Neill." High Councilor
Astrid swayed unsteadily, her pint-sized androgynous form stood atop the
raised dais that housed the ship's control panel. Highlighted by the
transparent bulkhead directly behind her, she giggled drunkenly, sliding
a smooth black tear-shaped crystal over the panel's symbol covered
surface. "I bid you adieu and safe journey."
his body was engulfed by the glowing light of the Asgard transportation
field, Jack took a quick inventory of the stars visible just beyond the
drunken councilor's gray-skinned head. "Crap!"
Somewhere within the brilliance Teal'c's deep
baritone rumbled. "Indeed."
Tucking a last minute purchase into his back
pocket, Rowdy bid the kindly merchant a good day. Stepping out onto the
walkway, he was busy wrestling a sudden gust of wind for his hat when
his cell phone rang. Fishing it from his pocket, he snapped it open,
adjusting his cap. "Mortensen."
"Major? Mitchell here, where are you?" The
colonel's tone was all business. "Our departure time has been moved up
to 1700 hours."
"Not far, Colonel." Rowdy responded crisply. A
nearby bank's digital clock glowed 3:45pm. "Shall I..."
Anticipating his next words, the colonel cut him
off. "Negative, I've already secured transportation. Give me your
position; I'll pick you up along the way."
"I'm approaching the intersection of Arlington and
Peachtree." Rowdy relayed promptly.
"Well stay put." Mitchell instructed curtly. "We're
only about two clicks from there."
"Understood, Colonel." Reaching the intersection,
Rowdy stopped short. "I'm afraid I don't have my gear with
"Not a problem, Major. I've already notified the
airfield of your approximate dimensions, they've got a flight suit that
should fit that towering frame of yours..." Mitchell replied in a wry
tone. "And, where we're headed your regulation blues won't be of much
use. Don't worry; I'm sure we can accommodate ya just fine."
"I'll await you on the northeast corner." Rowdy
responded deliberately. Returning the cell to his pocket his
apprehensive fingers encountered the smooth wood of O'Neill's talisman.
It was time to see if he too, despite a good many tangles and knots,
still remained true to center.