In his cramped SGC office buried deep under the huge bulk of Cheyenne Mountain, Jack O'Neill was one very frustrated USAF Colonel. Across the desk from him was sitting the greatest disciplinary challenge of his entire command career, and he was absolutely clueless as to how to deal with it.
His side of the cluttered desktop contained half-finished mission reports, some of them weeks old, and he had determined to use this off-rotation time to get completely up-to-date. His present situation meant that not only was he not catching up, but his day-to-day routine was also falling apart.
The other side of the desk, where his adversary sat, was covered in sheets of paper. The paper, in turn, was covered with reams of intricate writing in many colours, and with columns and columns of figures. Jack was pretty sure that Daniel Jackson could probably decipher it all, but he didn't feel ready to admit defeat just yet. The creator of the artwork was perched on Jack's spare chair. She was a little shorter than Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet, but she wielded the same quiet authority, and created at least as much havoc in her wake.
" I need to go to the Astrophys lab. Now!"
" Sorry, no can do" said Jack "Off limits! How about I take you to the commissary for coffee and a doughnut?"
" I don't drink coffee, and I don't want a doughnut --- I want to go to the Astrophysics lab."
Jack took a deep breath and a firmer hold on his growing exasperation. "And I've already told you that the lab. is a secure area and you're not going there. Why don't you pick a slightly less dangerous area for a visit? How about visiting Teal'c or Daniel?"
"Daniel is off-world with SG6 doing preliminary studies on some Phoenician archaeological remains on P8C-662. Teal'c is up top with a group of rookies doing field-training exercises. I want to go to Astrophys.."
"Don't even mention it again," growled Jack, "there are only so many ways I can say "no" nicely." Damn it, she knew more about SGC ops than he did, and she used 6 syllable words!
The small being tilted her head and looked at him carefully, as if assessing his state of mind, then smiled brilliantly at him, picked up a pencil and bent her head to yet another column of figures. Surprised at the sudden capitulation, Jack grinned and picked up another half-finished report. He had managed another two paragraphs when…
"I'm ready for that doughnut now!"
Jack sighed, got up and opened the door. "OK, commissary it is", needing a very strong coffee himself.
His companion moved out of the door ahead of him and trotted briskly down the corridor. Jack strode out to keep up, wondering why these people never walked anywhere. Halfway to the corner, a young airman carrying a clipboard waylaid him. "I need your signature on these requisitions, sir, the Master Sergeant is trying to finish an audit."
Jack skimmed down the document, took in about half the details it contained but signed anyway, hastily handing the clipboard back to its pen-pushing owner. Looking past the airman, he found that the small figure he had been tailing was no longer in sight.
"Oh for cryin' out loud!" he said, running to the corner. There was no sign of the small blue-clad figure, and there were two or three ways she could have gone. Jack was beginning to regret his decision to allow her to become familiar with the base, and to give her relatively free access to most areas. Both Sam and Hammond had been reluctant to allow her this much freedom, thinking it might cause more difficulties than it solved, but Jack had insisted that she must be allowed to feel at home underground, and eventually the others had agreed.
Jack O'Neill had spent countless hours in the small female's company since she had arrived in his world, and he sometimes felt that he was no nearer understanding her now than he had been at the beginning. Oh sure, they had developed some sort of rapport, maybe even a bond, but her mind remained a mystery to him, apart from the fact that she was way too smart for his good. Short of issuing a Code Red and shutting down the entire base, he was not sure how to find her. The only comforting thought was that she couldn't swipe through any of the secure doors, and she was not tall enough to reach the upper level buttons in the elevators, though she certainly possessed charm enough to persuade someone else to press them for her.
Jack followed his one and only lead, and headed for Astrophysics. He didn't know whether he wanted to find Sam there or not. If she were there, his problem would be solved, as his small captive would undoubtedly be there as well. He would then be left with trying to explain away how he'd lost her in the first place. If Sam wasn't there, his search would have to go on, but at least he might be able to hide his lapse from his favourite Major.
He skidded to a halt outside the lab and took a split-second to compose himself before strolling nonchalantly through the door. Two of Sam's technicians looked up from the completely incomprehensible work they were engaged in, and seemed pleased to see him. "She's gone to see the General, sir, with the latest readings from the naquadria- enhanced shield prototypes. They're looking really good, sir."
"That's great news, kids, keep up the good work!"
He sauntered away round the corner and then went into overdrive, trying to reach Hammond's office before Sam did. That way he could head her off and explain and they could search together. As he reached the corridor outside Hammond's office, however, he realised he was too late, as he heard Hammond's low chuckle and two very familiar feminine giggles. How many times would he have to remind Carter about giggling? At Hammond's call, he entered the room and found his quarry curled up on the burly General's lap, half-asleep and sucking her thumb contentedly. As he came across the room her deep brown eyes opened a little wider and she gave him one of her mother's brilliant smiles, a smile that would brighten the darkest planet.
"Hi Daddy! Grandpa George and Momma and me have been discussing the prototype shields. Momma is cautiously optimistic."
"Melissa Carter-O'Neill, you are going to be the death of me! If I don't have a heart attack chasing you, Momma's gonna kill me for losing you!"
"Don't worry, Jack, she made her way straight here and General Hammond called me. `Lissa had an opinion on the shields she needed to share with me."
General Hammond looked down at the formidably intelligent 4 year old now fast asleep on his lap. Even without such an amazing brain she would have been an outstanding child. Jack's once brown hair and deep velvety brown eyes tempered with Sam's blonde hair and sapphire eyes had created a elfin child with glorious ash-blonde hair and a bewitching caramel gaze. Despite her incredible mind, Melissa was a sunny sweet-natured child, whose greatest pleasure was the company of her parents and their SGC colleagues, particularly her honorary grandpa George and her favourite uncles Teal'c and Daniel. Her second greatest pleasure was causing havoc for her long-suffering Daddy, who worshiped the ground she walked on.
"Never mind, Colonel, I understand your child-minder is home from vacation tomorrow, and you can get back to a more peaceful existence," grinned Hammond, passing the sleeping child up to her adoring Dad.
"Yeah, like battling Replicators or beating the crap out of Goa'uld System Lords," sighed Jack, kissing his sleeping daughter's brow. "Bye, Sam, we'll see you at home later."
"OK, Jack, just try not to lose her on the way home!"
THE END. .