by dirty diana

He did the mash. The monster mash. The sound carries out the open patio door and into Maria Cruz' garden. Worse than the stupid song, I think, is the sound of half the SGC staff singing along. I've retreated out here, into the dark, bringing a couple beers along. Just me and the oak trees.

"Hey, Jack."

"Whoa, steady." I reach out a hand, to stop Daniel from flying over the bench and into the bed of dying marigolds. "You been drinking Dr. Frasier's special punch, Dr. Jackson?"

Daniel pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and stares at me. Janet's lethal rum drink thingie doesn't seem to have cured his need to think everything through before he talks. Just slowed his reaction time. By a lot. "No," he says finally, dropping himself heavily onto the garden bench. "Not that much."

"Doesn't take that much. Janet likes the rum. You would know that if you ever came to any of these things." Which is my very subtle way of asking him what he's doing here. Because costumes and candy are scary enough, but if I'd known I was going to be faced with drunken archaeology professors, I would have stayed home and watched the game.

"Yes, well," he shrugged. "Sam said I should come."

"Sam did."

"Uh huh," he answered, in the distracted tone that means his brain has long ago moved on, and he can't figure out why yours hasn't followed. "You aren't wearing a costume."

"Neither are you."

"Sam said I should come," he answered as if that explained everything. "I thought Maria wanted everyone to come in costume."

"Yeah, well, I told Major Cruz that thing that you said. About the Festival of Samhill."

"Samhain," he corrects me automatically, shooting me a half-amused look from underneath long dark lashes. "You were listening to that?"

"Well, I heard the part about the ancient Celts not having to wear stupid costumes, yeah. And seeing as how there's a good probability that my ancestors were in fact ancient Celts..."

Daniel opens his mouth, ready to yadda yadda on the exact probability of that, and then changes his mind. Maybe he's too drunk for history lessons. Cool. "I hate Halloween," he says instead.

"Yeah, I heard that part."

"I hate it almost as much as I hate Thanksgiving. And I hate Thanksgiving a lot."

"I heard part of that speech too."

Now he's looking right at me, studying me carefully in blue-eyed fascination. I wonder if I've got some alien language written on my face or something. "Which part?" he asks me.

"The part about the tasteless celebration of the slaughter of millions of Indians?" I say, like a student guessing on a pop quiz.

"Native Americans."


"I can't believe you were listening to that," he says, with a not-so-flattering tone to his voice that adds, "I can't believe you understood that."

"Well, it's the law of averages. You talk so much, that eventually some of it is bound to leak in."

It's a bit creepy, being the focus of so much drunken concentration. He's still staring at me, lips pressed together like he's translating something. Maybe he is. Maybe every time I open my mouth he's got to run his Jack-to-Daniel program to work out what the hell I think I mean.

Which, the more I think about it, is not a good thought. Daniel's good at translating stuff.

I sip my beer. The air is cool, the fall wind blowing dead leaves across the lawn. Daniel, who starts getting that "I'd rather be in the desert" look on his face right after Labor Day, has come outside without his jacket. I can see him shivering, watch the pattern of goose bumps rising over bare forearms.

"Daniel," I say quietly, "you're freezing. Go inside."

He doesn't move. "Are you sure?"

"Am I sure that you're freezing? Yeah, I am. Go."

Daniel licks his lips, and stares at me. I know that he's translated that perfectly, word for word.

He goes.


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