Mathématique: Chapter 9

Jackson sighed theatrically. “No one appreciates me.”

Revised Author’s Notes: This is a piece of fan fiction. It’s a trope-twisting, epic-length, crossover AU that spans all three series of Stargate. There’s a lot of science. A lot of plot. A lot of emotions. Timelines have been slightly altered so that season 4 of Stargate Atlantis (without Carter in command) occurs contemporaneously to season 10 of SG-1, which occurs in the year prior to season 1 of SGU.

Disclaimer: I’m not making money from this; please don’t repost to other sites. 

Warnings: Stressors of all kinds.

Chapter 9

He was exhausted. This was, of course, a dead brilliant state of affairs, counterintuitive though it might appear to the casual observer. Casual observers weren’t good for much, in Rush’s experience.

He leaned over the table, Vala’s laptop open beside him, and watched the dust catch and ride the air currents—not even courteous enough to be laminar on the scale of decimeters—and wondered about scales of perturbation relative to ultimate outcomes and whether there was infinite scaleability of perturbable units. Probably.  Possibly.  Maybe there was.  

“Rush—are you, like, doing something?”

He was irritating Colonel Young. He wondered if that counted as ‘doing something.’ In his book it did. Then again, his book was not exactly a universally applicable book. Speaking of books, speaking of crystals, speaking of systems that stored and transmitted caches of information over millions and millions of years—there had to be a way for the gate network to detect and depress rather than amplify any perturbations within the lattice of linked gates; otherwise, the entire thing would just devolve into a spread of unpredictability over time. Not uncontrollable, mind, just unpredictable because of the inherent constraints of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in a situation with innumerable variables. Which the gate system certainly had. 

How had the Ancients done it? Had they woven their way ‘round the constraints of chaos theory? Possibly. Then again, possibly not. Maybe they hadn’t gotten around them, maybe they hadn’t needed to. Maybe it was his own viewpoint that was warped, or, if not warped, then at least temporally biased. He was, perhaps, looking at atmospheric phenomena from the perspective of the dust mote. Short lived, ephemeral, changes in temperature and pressure somewhat predicable on its compressed timescale, which, by association could be



“What are you doing?”


He felt better than he had in days. In days. He’d been up for about thirty-six hours and exhaustion was finally starting make a dent in the deflect-and-descend of his recalcitrant thoughts to the point where he could actually relax and fucking think without the prospect of being dragged down into Unnecessary Tangent Hell. If sanity were a function, what would its domain be? Its range? He liked Young. Quite a bit, actually.

“Seriously. Just get up, go in my bedroom and take a nap. Please. This is torture to watch.”

“Tell me to take a nap one more time and I will never make you another meal so long as ah fuckin’ live.”

“Nice accent.”

“Nice fucking—“ Unbelievably, his brain failed to supply him with anything even remotely witty.

Young raised his eyebrows.

“Shut up,” Rush said, sitting up straighter and shaking his head to clear it.

“That means I win, you know,” Young said.

Rush looked up. Young was leaning against the wall, watching him with crossed arms and an amused expression colored with more than a hint of frustration. At present, amusement seemed to be carrying the day. 

“You win what, exactly.”

“If you say ‘shut up,’ that means I win. Young: one; Rush: zero.”

“More like Young: one; Rush: twenty-five.”

“We’re starting right now,” Young said with a half shrug lifted straight from Rush’s own repertoire of body language.

Rush narrowed his eyes.

Someone pounded on the door.

Young looked at him. “Go,” he said. “Take a nap. I’ll tell them you’re asleep. You will be asleep if you lie down for about three seconds.”

“That’s it,” Rush announced. “No dinner for you.”

“Rush,” Young growled.

“You had your chance,” he said, with honeyed precision.

Young shook his head.

Rush smirked at him and got to his feet, heading toward the door.

In one smooth motion, Young stepped forward, his hand wrapping around Rush’s elbow, in a fluid close-and-drag, holding just long enough to check his forward momentum.  Rush snapped his arm away from the hand that was already releasing him, jerking away with enough force that he had to rebalance himself on a chair. 

Rush looked at the wall, trying not to see what had nearly happened—the painful cascade of furniture and humans and laptops when an overly violent hypothetical recoil met chair and or table, resulting in injury for all involved parties which would be difficult to justify post hoc when someone, probably Jackson, was asking him to explain how it was that he’d re-shattered Colonel Young’s back, a conversation that would probably proceed with a great deal of vitriolic erudition on his part but very little in the way of rational explanation. As it was, he recovered from his entirely-within-normal-limits flinch following a longer than average stare at the wall that he managed to torque into something that fell within the bounds of irritation even if it had not begun there.

Young had his hands up and out. “Sorry. But let’s pretend that you have enough common sense not to waltz over there and open that door?”

“Waltz?” Rush echoed dryly.

“It’s us,” he heard Mitchell call through the closed door. “Not the bad guys. The good guys. Very good. Entirely guys. Today.”

“I’m sure that’s what they all say,” Rush said, remarked, crossing his arms over his chest as he indicated the door with his eyes. 

“Shut up, Rush.”

“This is not going to go well for you, I’m afraid. Rush: one; Young: one.”

Young gave him a wry look, then walked toward the door, his limp perhaps a shade less pronounced than it had been. What was that exactly—anticipatory machismo? Whatever it was, it didn’t concern him. Rush perched on the edge of the table and awaited his laptop.

Young opened the door a few inches and then flung it wide, staggering slightly as Mitchell shoved a six-pack of beer in his direction. Rush stepped forward instinctively, which was an impractical impulse because he was something like five meters away. He leaned back against the table. No one had noticed. Except maybe Jackson, who was looking at him from over Mitchell’s shoulder. 

“Aw crap,” Mitchell said, reaching out to steady Young in almost the same motion as he’d unbalanced him. “I always forget about this injury bullshit. You okay?”

“Yeah,” Young replied though gritted teeth, clearly far from ‘okay’. “Fine.”

“Rush,” Mitchell said, walking straight back toward the dining room, carrying an unnecessary quantity of beer. “Hey.  You look—good.  Better.  Hi.”

“Better than what?” Rush asked, feeling his eyes narrow.

“Better than unconscious,” Jackson said, drawing even with Mitchell. The physical resemblance was strong. 

“Are the pair of you related?” Rush asked, with as much disdain as he could manage to pour into his tone and expression. No harm in starting off on the offensive.

“Separated at birth,” Mitchell replied, clapping Jackson on the shoulder as he headed through the kitchen door, presumably to refrigerate the beer.

With an apologetic expression, Jackson handed Rush a rectangular item that seemed to have been hermetically sealed in layers of red plastic and tape.

“Is that my laptop?”

“They uh—“ Jackson said, holding it out, “gift wrapped it for you?”

“Unacceptable.” Rush snapped.  “What was done to it?”

“I don’t know,” Jackson replied.  “But hey—at least they gave it back to you.”

Jackson’s perpetual optimism was terribly grating at times.

And,” Jackson continued, “I brought you coffee.”  He displayed what looked like a quarter pound of whole beans. 

Jackson’s propensity to come bearing coffee was, admittedly, less grating.

Rush sighed, hooked a hand over his shoulder, pressed his fingers into the muscles at the back of his neck and said, “Thank you. But I need a fucking coffee grinder.”

“Well,” Jackson said, looking pleased with himself, “I also brought you a grinder. Not a ‘fucking’ grinder though.”

“Well,” Rush replied, “one can’t have everything I suppose.” His eyes tracked Young as he limped into the kitchen, abandoning Teal’c at the doorway with a shoulder-clap, which seemed to be the colonel-equivalent of something like “aloha.” Jackson noticed the trajectory of his gaze and half turned to follow it like the insufferable interpersonal savant he was. Rush took advantage of his momentary distraction to snatch the coffee out of his hand and inspect it.

“What do you think?” Jackson asked.

“I think it might be passable.” 

“Oh it’s more than ‘passable’.”

Jackson waved Teal’c towards them. “Teal’c, Nick. Nick, Teal’c.”

Teal’c nodded at him. 

“Hello,” Rush said.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Dr. Rush,” Teal’c said.

“Likewise,” Rush replied.

“Let’s make this stuff.  What do you say?” Jackson asked.  “I’m dying here.  I haven’t had coffee since nine o’clock this morning.  Did you really end up drinking instant? Mitchell said that Young said that you had to drink instant. I told him I didn’t believe that you would do any such thing because I never would and you’re about a thousand times more picky about your coffee than I am—I mean, unless I’m stuck in the field, no way am I resorting to instant. It was developed in 1901 and it’s shown no improvement since that time, especially relative to convenience foodstuffs when considered in the broader cultural context.”

Teal’c and Rush exchanged a look.

“What?” Jackson demanded.

“Nothing,” Teal’c said.

Rush shrugged.

Jackson sighed theatrically. “No one appreciates me.”

“I would appreciate you making me coffee,” Rush replied mildly. 

“As would I,” Teal’c added.

“Give me that,” Jackson said testily, grabbing the coffee beans back from Rush and making his way toward the kitchen. “Heathens. The pair of you.”

Rush considered his laptop, studying the thick red plastic that completely sheathed it.

“What the fuck is this?” he murmured.

“Plastic,” Teal’c replied.

Rush shot him a pointed look.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow and offered Rush a surprisingly normal looking pocket-knife.

“You are,” Rush said, “the first person I have met since coming to Colorado Springs who doesn’t have an absolutely ridiculous knife.”

“That,” Teal’c said, indicating the blade with his eyes, “is not my only knife.”

“Of course not.”  Rush efficiently sliced open the plastic encasing his computer. 

“You are a mathematician?” Teal’c asked.

“More or less,” Rush said. “You’re a leader of the Jaffa Nation?”

“More or less,” Teal’c said, looking toward the window where the sun fell mercilessly through the slats in the blinds.

“Cryptographer,” Rush said shortly, his eyes narrowing as he pulled the computer out of its synthetic crimson corolla. He ran his fingers over its edges, then turned it over, and opened the battery casing.  

“Jaffa High Council Member,” Teal’c said, “and bloodkin to all Jaffa.”

“An’ yet,” Rush said, not quite able to prevent the loss of the ‘d’ and the compensatory sharp crack of the broken ‘t’ behind his teeth. “Here you are, about to watch a baseball game. Seems like you might have better things to do with your time.”

“I like baseball,” Teal’c said neutrally.

The kitchen door slammed open, and Rush nearly dropped his laptop battery. He was fairly certain Teal’c had noticed, but he managed to relax enough that he could fit the battery back into the bottom of his laptop with something approaching his typical speed and dexterity.

“I’m just saying,” Mitchell said, wincing as he examined the wall behind the door, “ugh sorry, think I chipped your paint there. But my point is that it’s weird to drink coffee and beer at the same time. It just doesn’t make any sense.” He rubbed his fingers over the small divet where the metal handle of the dooframe had dented the drywall, then sacrificed one of the three six-packs he was carrying to prop open the kitchen door.

“It makes perfect sense,” Jackson said, still out of sight within the kitchen, “if you have a caffeine dependency, which I do.”

“Yeah. I know.  And that seems like a terrible idea,” Mitchell replied. “We gotta talk about this. Coffee addiction is a liability in the field, Jackson.”

“O’Neill attempted to break Daniel Jackson of his coffee habit many times,” Teal’c said, eyeing Mitchell. “He was never successful.”

“That’s because he gave up,” Mitchell said. He looked back into the kitchen. “Pour half of that down the sink, Jackson!”

“Nooooooooo,” Jackson replied. “No, I will not be doing that.”

“Baby steps, Jackson. Baby steps.”

“Coffee is included in the field rations.”

“And when you get captured by the Ori?”

“Caffeine withdrawal will be the least of my problems,” Jackson replied in an admonishing singsong. 

Mitchell sighed as he searched for the TV remote. “This isn’t over, Jackson, not by a long shot. Teal’c, have you seen the chips?”

“I have not.”

“Damn. Did we forget them?”

“I believe you may have forgotten them,” Teal’c replied.

“I have chips,” Young said, appearing in the kitchen doorway. “At least, I think I do.  Vala was pretty thorough in the kitchen stocking.”

“Nice,” Mitchell said.  “That’s Vala for you.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Jackson snapped from the kitchen.

“Um, nothing?” Mitchell said, giving Rush and Teal’c a look that clearly communicated the sentiment of what-the-hell-is-his-problem, “I just—“ Whatever he would have come up with was cut off by the mechanical whir of the coffee grinder.

Rush managed to turn his flinch into a shoulder roll that he was fairly certain deceived neither Teal’c, who seemed to have decided that he was extremely interesting, nor Young, who was still standing in the kitchen doorway. Fuck them anyway, fuck all of them—no one would function optimally like this, ever-observed for even the smallest deviation from the required drapery of amused self sufficiency—the tipped up chin, shoulders back and down, the perfect fucking diction without a break in the rhythm of the thrust and fucking parry of the witty repartee, breaking down for nothing, not even for death or torture.


Or internal.


Or Auto.

He shook his hair back.

“Computer okay?” Young asked, walking toward him, eyeing the remains of the red plastic with a dubious eye.

“I haven’t turned it on yet,” he said, civil and crisp, his elocution nothing short of exemplary.

Teal’c headed toward the kitchen, potentially in search of ‘chips’. Mitchell flipped the TV on with the abrupt, mechanical hitch of engaging circuits.

He flinched.

Young sighed, walking over to the table where Rush was just about done inspecting his laptop for external indications of tampering. 


“What.”  The word was a snapped-off hiss.

“Just—tell me if you want me to kick them out,” Young said. “Okay? It’s fine. It’s fine.”

“All right,” Rush murmured. 

“I’m serious,” Young whispered, his eyes dark and intent.

“I said,” Rush replied, frowning at a seam in the laptop casing, “all right.”

“I know what you said, I just don’t believe you.”

“And that,” Rush snapped, “would be no one’s problem but your own.”

“You just seem kind of twitchy.”

“Would you mind terribly just shutting up?”

“Young two, Rush one.”


“Hey Nick,” Jackson called from the kitchen, “Want to give me a hand in here for a minute?”

Rush stepped forward, but Young’s hand closed over his shoulder. If Young did not stop touching him

“I got it,” Young said gruffly, letting him go immediately. “You just—enjoy your reunion with your laptop.”

Rush sank into a chair, unable and unwilling to argue. He had no desire to crack through the patina of hypomanic good will that Jackson carried like a shield wherever he went. If Young was willing to take the brunt of it, if he could forestall whatever it was that Jackson was here to do, whatever he was here to say—so much the better.

Rush preferred David.

Rush preferred David with his infrequent smiles, and his lack of bullshit, his lack of sympathy and his lack of sensitivity. He preferred his merciless drive, his struggle to transcend, to never linger. He preferred the way, in San Francisco, he’d always faced into the wind that blew in from the bay, eyes locked on the horizon.

He hoped the man wasn’t dead. Hoped he wasn’t being tortured to the point of death or insanity.

Rush’s fingers traced the familiar edges of his laptop before he lifted the screen and powered it up. Transferring his ZKP and the data he’d complied and analyzed would take some time.

He could hear Jackson and Young speaking quietly in the kitchen, their words an indistinct, atonal blur.

He shook his head, configured the Bluetooth, and started an over the air file transfer because he didn’t feel up to the energetic investment that locating the appropriate cable would require. He tried to direct his thoughts into a productive avenue, such as modeling the quantum response to a weak attack on the interface between gate and crystalline array.

Teal’c edged out of the kitchen, chips in hand, to join Mitchell on the couch.

“Rush,” Mitchell said. “Come on.”

He turned in his chair.

“No thank you,” he replied.

“Aw, come on,” Mitchell repeated.

“I’d rather die,” Rush clarified politely.

“Um, okay then.”

Jackson emerged from the kitchen, coffee in hand. “Don’t be a jerk to Mitchell,” he said, raising his eyebrows at Rush as he set the coffee on the table. “He can’t take it like I can.”

Jackson dropped into an adjacent chair, earning himself a glower from Young.

“What are you working on?” Jackson asked, oblivious or indifferent to the vector of Young’s borderline inappropriate hostility.

“Number five,” Rush replied.  “Obviously.”

“You didn’t sleep, did you?” Jackson asked, propping his chin one hand.

“Did you?” Rush shot back.

“No,” Jackson replied, like he didn’t see the relationship between the paired questions.

“So I don’t see what you’re complaining about then,” Rush said, taking a sip of the coffee.

“My house is made of glass,” Jackson admitted. “This is true.”

Young joined them at the table, dropping into the seat across from Jackson his beer clicking quietly against the tabletop.

Jackson looked up in mild surprise. Rush wondered if he was accustomed to more subtle attempts at interference. Young was about as subtle as a ballistic projectile. The man’s angle, whatever it was, remained opaque to Rush.  He seemed to be taking an interest in his neighbor more out of boredom than anything, but that didn’t explain why Young was so insistent on blocking Jackson’s latest attempt to convince or coerce him into going to Atlantis as one prong of a multipronged attack that would eviscerate the Icarus Project.

If that was what Jackson was here for.


There was some possibility that Jackson was here for something else entirely.

Rush ran his thumbnail around the rim of his coffee cup and glanced up, meeting Jackson’s eyes.  They were intent. Questioning. The man held his gaze for just a fraction longer than was socially appropriate before he finally spoke. “I found something of yours.” The words were casual. Jackson dropped his eyes and took a sip of his coffee.

“Oh yes?” Rush asked, just as casually.

Beside him, Young shifted. Rush didn’t have to look at him to feel the full force of his lateral scrutiny.

Jackson said nothing, but he slowly reached into an inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out a pair of glasses.  He set them on the table with a quiet click and then slid them toward Rush.

Beside him, Young shifted, some of the tension going out of his frame.

“Do you remember,” Jackson asked, from the apex of casual indifference, almost overselling it, “where you left them?”

Rush stared at the square black frames. He’d left them with David. In David’s office, on the corner of a too wide, too organized desk, following a meeting that had occurred post-cracking of the third cypher. David’s office wasn’t a place that Jackson was in the habit of frequenting.

“Of course,” he said smoothly. “When did you find them?”

“About eight hours ago,” Jackson said. “I was looking for something else.”

Rush hung onto his neutral facial expression with difficulty. He felt a muscle in his cheek twitch subtly. Once.  Twice. “I see,” he said. “Did you find what it was you were looking for?”

“No,” Jackson said. 

“Well,” Rush said, picking up his glasses and carefully unfolding them. “Your loss is my gain, it seems.”

“I wouldn’t look at it that way,” Jackson said.

Again, their gazes met. 

Young cleared his throat. “Look,” he said, “if you two are sleeping together, you can just say so.  Put it out there. I really don’t care.”

Jackson choked on his coffee.

Rush shook his hair back out of his eyes, with as much hauteur as he could manage in the face of Jackson’s frantic coughing.  He slipped his glasses on and looked at Young over the tops of the black wire frames before pushing them into position. 

Young gave him just a hint of a smile.

Rush smirked back at him.

“We’re just friends,” Jackson said, when the coughing had subsided.

“We’re not friends,” Rush said coolly.

“No, we’re definitely friends.  But friends,” Jackson said.

“Whatever,” Young said with a half shrug.

“So—I’m going to go and watch sports,” Jackson said.  “And—for your information—that is a sentence I never thought I’d willingly construct.”  He pushed back from the table gathering his coffee with a dignified disdain that Rush couldn’t help but admire before wandering into the living room.

He and Young looked at one another.

“Where’d you leave your glasses?” Young asked, too quietly to be heard by anyone else.

“Jackson’s fucking nightstand,” Rush said, his tone as smooth as he could make it.

Young gave him a long, inscrutable look. Then he said, glancing after Jackson, “That was the least suave communication exchange I’ve seen in a while. What’d he really tell you?”

Rush paused, considering. It had been more informational topography than anything. Jackson had revealed two things—that he knew Rush had been meeting with Telford (something he no doubt disapproved of) and, more startlingly, he’d revealed that he’d been in Telford’s office almost immediately after his disappearance. Seemed a fairly dangerous thing to reveal. But he supposed it was an indicator of how serious Jackson’s opposition to Telford ran.

Young was still looking at him. 

“He indicated that he understands my preferences, regarding Icarus.” Rush said, his voice so low that Young had to lean forward to catch it. “The other part—was an indication of how far he’s willing to go in opposing it.”

“Did he threaten you?” Young asked very quietly.

“No,” Rush said, feeling the knit of his brow as he realized what Jackson had just done. “Quite the opposite in fact. He’s threatening himself.”

“How?” Young asked.

Rush remained quiet.

“Where did you really leave your glasses?” Young asked finally. “Where was Jackson eight hours ago?”

“Congratulations. You’ve identified the relevant question,” Rush replied neutrally.

Young looked at him, nodded once.

“Everett,” Mitchell called, twisting around on the couch. “You coming, or what?”

“Yeah,” Young said.  “I’m coming.”

Two hours later, he was—

Still tired.

How to code for a crystal. 

That was the problem that he was attacking in a free form, poorly organized, pathetic excuse for a mathematical narrative that seemed to tip into number theory whenever he was exhausted or drunk. His brain seemed to have a fascination with trying to superimpose a rationally continuous number line with a real-ly continuous number line and wasn’t that just an elegantly constructed mental thumb-screw. Square root of two—defining its own gap in a gapless line like the saucy little fuck it was.

He was tired.


There was an abrupt, unanimous eruption of disapproval from the other room at whatever was had just happened onscreen. 

“What the heck.  He’ll tank his average at this rate,” Mitchell said, in apparent dissatisfaction.

“Too right he will,” Young commented. 

For hours now, Rush had been working on Carter’s coupling code—the iris-gate interface from which he could steal at least part of what would become the foundation of the invitation to interrogate for his zero knowledge protocol. He scanned through her code—not elegant, not short, but raw and comprehensive and powerful. It  created her framework and then worked through the inherent problems that self organized out of her detailed vision.

It was like reading her diary.

She was thorough. She built solidly and adjusted fluidly, inventively. When her solutions created problems, she built a subsequent round of solving into the source code. She wasn’t a programmer by training. Her code was always a means to an end, not beautiful for its own sake.

Already, he liked her. 

He’d heard she rode a motorcycle.

He wondered if that was true.

Jackson’s phone rang. “Hello?”

Rush had to peel his hands away from his temples. It was just so fucking bright. Did it never rain in Colorado?

“Oh hey.”

It was possible that he was taking his current experiments in sleep deprivation a bit far. 

“Yeah.  It’s nice, I actually—“  Jackson broke off.

Especially considering the kitchen incident the previous day.  Night.  Hours ago.

“Why?” Jackson asked, drawing out the word suspiciously. 

Rush half-turned to see Jackson was up from the couch and heading toward him.

“The man has a name, you know.”

Rush raised his eyebrows.

Jackson rolled his eyes.

“Well I don’t know if he wants to talk to you.”

He presumed it was Vala. 

“Vala,” Jackson mouthed.

He held out his hand, and Jackson passed him the phone.


“Hello gorgeous,” she said, her voice somehow more immediate than he’d been expecting.  “Have a minute?”

“I suppose.”

Jackson was staring at him curiously.

“Would you mind—possibly—going somewhere that Daniel can’t hear you?” she asked him.

“All right.” He stood, ignoring Jackson’s blazingly curious look, and headed down the short hallway, away from the masculine subunit of SG-1, and into the second bedroom in Young’s corner apartment. The room had begun to take shape as a study of sorts. He shut the door behind him and then leaned back against it, trying to stay on his feet but somehow ending up on the floor, following an exhausted slide down the door.

“Go ahead,” he said.

“Okay,” she sounded like she was whispering. “I don’t want anyone to know about this.”

He gave the opposite wall an incredulous look. “Well, phoning me via Jackson is not what I’d call an auspicious beginning.”

“I’m in a bookstore,” she said.

“Ah yes,” he replied, shutting his eyes, “extremely embarrassing.”

“I want to buy a book on mathematics, but there appear to be several choices,” she continued on, gamely ignoring his sarcasm.

He gave in to the impulse to lie down in the midst of the empty, unpacked floor space. “It’s not clear to me why this needs to be a secret,” he said.

“Well,” she replied, “two reasons. One, I would imagine there’s some kind of mathematics proficiency required to be a fully fledged member of a gate team—“

“That would make sense,” Rush said, interrupting her. “I therefore doubt it’s true.”

Vala made a little amused sound, “I also—I don’t want this to be—discussed. I don’t want to publicly attempt it and fail. I don’t want to call attention to what I suspect is a significant deficiency in my qualifications to be a part of SG-1. I don’t want—“

“Yes yes,” he said. “All right.”

“So advise away, gorgeous.”

“How much formal mathematical training have you had?” Rush asked.




“Addition?” he asked, “subtraction—“

“Yes,” she said. “Multiplication and division. I’m extremely financially savvy, you know. Also, I have—some borrowed experience with spatial configurations and—well, we called it ‘ona rok,’ but it was a way of describing uniform and non-uniform motion.”

Borrowed experience?” 

“I don’t think you have the security clearance for that, gorgeous.”

“All right, well, what exactly do you want to accomplish?”

“All of it,” she replied.

“All of what?”

“All of math.”

He smiled faintly. “Best to learn our conventions then. Start with algebra.”

“I don’t get to go to bookstores very often,” she whispered. “I still have to be accompanied off the base. 

“Algebra,” he said, “then geometry.”

“Then what?”

“Trigonometry. Isn’t Colonel Carter going to notice if you show up with something like thirty pounds worth of textbooks?”

“For your information, I have a stylishly large shoulder bag.”

“Fantastic,” he said.

“You sound exhausted,” Vala said.

“Incorrect.” He could feel his muscles relaxing into the sun-warmed wood of the floor. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think they’d give you a hard time. They’re so fuckin’ wholesome, y’know?”

“SG-1? I know,” she sighed. “That’s exactly the problem.”

“Aye,” he said, “I suppose it is.”

“Can I have your phone number?” Vala asked.

“Why?” he asked.

“I like having contacts,” she said. 

He rattled off his number. 

“Right then, gorgeous,” she said. “I’ve got to buy these and conceal them before Sam finds me.  Do me a favor and imply to Daniel that I was flirting with you mercilessly this entire time.”

He opened his eyes to give the ceiling a disdainful look. “Weren’t you?” he asked dryly.

“That’s the spirit,” she said.

He ended the call and shut his eyes.

He was going to get up.

Falling asleep on the floor would be a terrible idea. For one, anyone opening the door would probably assume that he was unconscious, which was not the case. For two—his train of thought shattered apart for no real reason that he could discern.

He rolled over and propped himself up on his elbows in preparation for getting to his feet.

It was then that he saw it there on the floor—not twelve inches from his current position. A small white square of paper that had been slipped under the door.

It was unquestionably Jackson’s handwriting.

With a thrill of dread he reached out and pulled it toward him in one long sweep. 

Next time you’re at the SGC, pull your own medical file.  Read the entire thing.

He closed his hand around the note, crumpling it in a fist, and buried his head in his arms.    

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