"Oh, God. Please just shoot me," Daniel begged, aching head cradled in his hands.
"Now, Daniel. You know I can't do that," Jack said reasonably. "Then I'd have to fill out all that paperwork. You know how I hate paperwork."
"If you really cared about me, you'd do it," the archeologist responded pathetically.
Jack smiled, glad that the archeologist wasn't looking at him. If Daniel saw the amusement that was on the colonel's face, he'd probably incinerate Jack where he stood. A sense of humor was not something Daniel possessed right now.
Jack fetched a glass of water and the pills Janet had given him and held them under Daniel's nose. "Here. Take these. They'll help."
"What are they?" the younger man asked suspiciously.
"What do you care? Maybe they're rat poison. That would save me the trouble and mess of shooting you."
Jack received a glare from Daniel that, fortunately, only looked scorching. The linguist took the pills and downed them with the water. Then he slumped back in the seat.
"You act like you've never had a hangover before," Jack remarked.
"Considering that it doesn't take a whole lot to make you tipsy, I find that hard to believe."
"I've had little ones before, but nothing like this. I feel like my head is going to blow up in an explosion to rival the time we blew up that sun and that my stomach is turned inside-out." He paused. "And you're still talking too loudly."
"Daniel, if I talked any more softly, even dogs wouldn't be able to hear me," Jack told him, nevertheless pitching his voice even lower. "Exactly how many beers and glasses of champagne did you drink anyway?"
"Not all that many, or so I thought. I tried to drink as little as I could, even with all the glasses people kept giving me. Ferretti was the worst. It seemed like he was handing me a glass every time I turned around, insisting that I toast the stupidest of things. The last few glasses he gave me tasted a little funny, but I just figured that my tastebuds were getting messed up from all the alcohol."
Jack's gaze narrowed, a suspicion forming in his mind. "Funny, huh?" 'Ferretti, if you did what I think you did, you are dead meat,' Jack thought darkly. Aloud, he said, "Okay, Daniel. I think the best thing for you is to go back to bed. You'll feel much better later on."
"But I need to work today. There's a translation that—"
"Ah! First of all, it's New Year's Day, Daniel, a day that you're supposed to take off. Second, Janet said that you are to consider yourself on medical leave today."
"She did? When was that?"
"Oh, about five minutes after you passed out, I think."
Daniel groaned and sunk his head back into his hands. "I can't believe I got that drunk."
"Hey, it could have been a lot worse. At least you didn't make an idiot out of yourself in front of everyone."
Jack returned the empty water glass to the kitchen. "Well, I have to get going. You think you'll survive all on your own today?"
"If I don't die from terminal hangover, I'll be fine," Daniel answered with a sarcastic bite in his voice.
"Good. Go get some more sleep, Daniel. And you really should put something in your stomach. It'll help you feel better more quickly. Take that from someone who knows hangovers. There's some apple juice in the fridge, or make yourself some chicken soup. Both of those things work well for your . . . condition." He smiled fleetingly. "I'll be back before dinnertime." 'That is if I'm not cooling my heels in the brig after having strangled Ferretti,' he added silently.
"Wait a minute. Why are you going to work. Aren't you supposed to be off today, too?"
Jack paused. "Um, yeah, well, Hammond kind of threatened to transfer me to kitchen duty if I didn't get the paperwork done that I've been putting off for the past few weeks."
If Daniel hadn't felt so horrible, he'd have smiled.
"I think that Carter's working today, too, something about gate diagnostics. You know, you two really need to learn to take advantage of your days off."
"Well, I guess I really don't have a choice this time, do I."
"Nope. See you tonight."
As soon as Jack had gotten to the base and changed out of his civvies, he went in search of the soon-to-be-deceased Lieutenant Colonel Louis Ferretti, whom he knew was also on duty today. Lou was heading for the commissary when Jack spotted him.
"Ferretti!" Jack snapped, causing the other man to jump at least two inches off the floor. The junior officer turned around.
"Hey, Jack," he said in a friendly tone.
"Don't 'Jack' me, Ferretti," Jack growled. "I want to know what you put in his drinks."
"Whose drinks?" Lou asked, acting innocent. Jack wasn't buying it.
"You know who. Daniel. What did you give him?"
Ferretti considered denying he gave Daniel anything, but, seeing the expression on Jack's face, he thought it might be unwise to lie to a superior officer.
"Nothing that would hurt him, Colonel. I just put a little bit of Southern Comfort in his champagne."
"Southern Comfort?!" Jack shouted, causing several people to stare at him. He lowered the volume of his voice, though it still contained a very noticeable growl in it. "You had better tell me it was the seventy-six proof and not the really good stuff."
"Uhhh. . . ."
Jack exploded again. "Dammit, Ferretti, you know that Daniel doesn't have a high tolerance for alcohol, and you give him Southern Comfort on top of all the beer and straight champagne he'd already had? You're lucky that you didn't put him in a coma!"
"Oh, come on, Ja. . . ." The glare from the other man made him change his form of address. "Colonel. Daniel didn't look all that drunk when I left. He was still on his feet and functioning."
"Which is a miracle now that I know what he drank. Ferretti, did you even once consider the possible ramifications of getting a man drunk who could have burned my house down with a stray thought?" The expression on the lieutenant colonel's face said he hadn't. "What if Daniel had gotten so plastered that he lost control of his abilities? Did that thought ever enter your idiot brain?"
"Sir, I'm sorry, I—"
"Sorry doesn't cut it, Ferretti, not this time. What you did was totally irresponsible and could have had serious repercussions. Daniel's brain isn't like the rest of ours anymore. We don't know what large quantities of alcohol could do to him. For all we know, it could be dangerous for him."
Now Ferretti was looking worried. "He is all right, isn't he, sir?"
"I don't know. He was too sick to come into work today. He had a hangover from hell and pretty much looked like crap when I left him this morning."
"Sir, I'm really sorry," Ferretti said contritely. "I honestly thought there would be no harm. I was just having a bit of fun." He paused. "Are you going to report me to the general?"
Jack smiled nastily. "No, I'm not going to report you to Hammond. I'm going to do something much, much worse."
Uh oh. "What, sir?"
"I'm going to tell Daniel."
There was actual fear in Ferretti's eyes. "Sir, please. You can't tell him. There's no telling what he'll do to me."
Jack's smile became downright evil. "Yes, I know."
"He might remove body parts or burn all my hair off or-or-or. . . ."
"Hang you upside-down, stark naked in the women's locker room with a red bow around your waist?" Jack suggested. "That's what I'm going to recommend."
Ferretti let out a groan. "Isn't there anything I can do to persuade you not to tell him?"
Jack stared at the man. "Ferretti, are you offering a bribe to a superior officer?"
"No! I mean yes! I'd rather be sitting in the brig than face Daniel."
"Hmm. Let me think." Jack pretended to consider the offer for a while, then, "Nope. I can't think of anything I'd rather have than to see you get your just desserts dished up to you by Daniel. I'd recommend that you spend the day getting your affairs in order, Ferretti. Tomorrow, you will be meeting your doom."
With that, Jack turned and headed back down the hall, leaving a sweating lieutenant colonel in his wake. He didn't let his smile out until he'd reached his office. He was pretty steamed at Ferretti, and it had been quite satisfying seeing the man cower. So, would he really tell Daniel? Jack knew that the archeologist wouldn't actually hurt Ferretti. So did Lou, for that matter. But, oh, could Daniel heap loads of humiliation on the man. Thoughts of what Daniel did to Baal on that planet came into Jack's mind. Yes, maybe he would suggest to Daniel that Ferretti would look good hanging upside-down and naked in the women's locker room. The bow would be optional.
Jack's smile disappeared as he thought about what he'd said to Ferretti. Most of it had just been a way to make the man think about the irresponsibility of his actions, but, now, Jack was beginning to wonder. Daniel's brain was different now. Thor had said as much. Could that much alcohol really harm him?
Jack thought about how awful Daniel had looked, his pasty complexion and dark-rimmed eyes making him look like death warmed over. And Daniel was a man who had suffered through the utter agony of lethal radiation sickness with barely a sound of discomfort leaving his lips. For him to openly admit he was in pain meant that he must have been really hurting.
The more Jack thought about it, the more worried he got and the more he'd wished that he hadn't left Daniel alone. Maybe he should go see the doc and find out what she had to say.
Janet was not amused when she found out what Ferretti had done, and the look in her eyes promised that the man would not enjoy his next physical one little bit.
"I honestly don't know if we have reason for concern, Colonel," she admitted. "Outwardly, Daniel's brain is like yours and mine, but, as Thor explained, there are distinct differences. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't even consider that he might have an adverse reaction to large quantities of alcohol."
"Then you think I should go home and make sure he's all right?"
"That might be wise, sir. If there appears to be anything out of the ordinary about Daniel's condition, I think we need to get him to the infirmary."
"Right. I'll leave now."
Not bothering to stop and change out of his BDU's, Jack headed up the elevator. It just so happened that the car stopped on the way up to pick up Sam.
"Sir, what's wrong?" she asked as she got on the elevator, seeing the concern on his face.
Jack hastily explained things to her as he punched the button to close the doors and continued upward.
"I'm coming with you," Sam told him, her tone of voice brooking no argument.
They made the trip to Jack's house in silence. Once there, they headed for the bedroom upon failing to see the archeologist in the living room or kitchen. They found him in bed, his appearance not all that much better than when Jack had seen him last.
Jack bent over Daniel and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Daniel?" When he received no response, he gave the shoulder a little shake. "Daniel, wake up." Still nothing. Jack checked his friend's pulse and found it to be strong and steady, but pretty slow. He patted Daniel's cheek lightly. "Come on, Daniel. Wake up."
Jack was just starting to get really worried when the archeologist started awake. He blinked his eyes open and looked blearily up at Jack.
"Jack, what're you doing?" he asked, his voice heavy with sleep.
"Making sure you were okay."
"Okay? Why wouldn't I be okay, that is except for this hangover?" Just then, he saw Sam. "What's going on?"
"The doctor was just worried that so much alcohol might do funny things to that cockeyed noggin of yours," Jack told him.
Daniel blinked a few more times, clearly still not running on all cylinders. "Huh?"
"We were worried that, considering the differences in your brain, the alcohol might have an adverse effect on you, Daniel," Sam explained.
"Oh. So you both decided to come over here and wake me out of a sound sleep?"
Sam gave him a sheepish look. "Sorry. But we really were worried about you."
"How come you weren't worried last night? Janet was here. She saw what condition I was in."
"Yeah, well, some . . . new information has come to light since then," Jack answered.
Finally fully awake, Daniel partially sat up and stared at his two teammates. "What new information?"
"Well, ya see, it turns out that beer and champagne wasn't all you were drinking last night."
"It wasn't? I don't remember. . . ." Realization dawned on his face. "Those glasses of champagne Ferretti gave me. They didn't taste funny just because my tastebuds were all screwed up, did they."
"Afraid not. They were spiked with something that had a bit more of a kick to it."
Daniel's eyes narrowed. "And what was that?"
"Southern Comfort," Sam told him.
Daniel's volume rose a bit. "Southern Comfort? Isn't that like a hundred proof or something?"
"The kind that Ferretti gave you is," Jack confirmed.
"Ferretti," Daniel growled.
"Personally, I recommend something that involves leaving him naked someplace public," Jack told Daniel pleasantly. "And I'd like to say again that the bow you used on Baal was a very nice touch."
"Sir, are you suggesting that Daniel get revenge on Colonel Ferretti?" Sam asked, a little surprised. Ferretti and Colonel O'Neill went way back to the first Abydos mission.
"Why not? He deserves it. His actions were irresponsible and foolhardy, given what could have happened if Daniel got so drunk that he started doing things with his abilities. Not everyone at that party was involved in the program, after all. I'd be tempted to put this in Ferretti's permanent record, but I don't want it to hurt his career." Jack smiled. "Besides, I think it will be much more satisfying seeing Daniel dish out the punishment." He looked at the archeologist. "So, whatcha gonna do to him?"
"Who says I'm going to do anything to him?" Daniel asked in response.
"Oh, come on, Daniel. You're not going to do anything at all?" Jack sounded extremely disappointed.
"Jack, it's not like he deliberately set out to harm me. He was just being stupid."
"Well, he had to know that you'd have one hell of a hangover in the morning. That was deliberate."
"A hangover never killed anyone."
"Well, it could have. Like I said, we didn't know how that much alcohol would affect that brain of yours."
"I'm sure that Ferretti didn't even think about that, just like he didn't think about what might have happened if I'd gotten too drunk to know not to do anything with my abilities in public."
"So, you're just going to forgive and forget? You didn't with me, for cryin' out loud!" Jack objected. "You painted my office pink! With big red hearts!"
"It was Daniel who did that?" Sam asked, starting to grin. The smile instantly disappeared upon receiving a glare from Jack.
"You deserved it, Jack," Daniel told him. "I told you to stop what you were doing, and you kept doing it anyway. I wouldn't have done it if you'd just quit it when I asked you to."
Jack sighed. "Yeah, okay, so you got me there. I was being an ass," he admitted reluctantly. "But you know, I gotta say that this is a big disappointment, Daniel. I was looking forward to seeing Ferretti get his comeuppance."
"Sorry to disappoint you, Jack," Daniel said, not really sounding like he was. He laid back down. "Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going back to sleep."
As the colonel and the major reached the door, Daniel's voice brought them to a halt.
"Remember one thing, Jack," he said. "Sometimes, the anticipation of punishment is worse than the punishment itself."
Thinking about what Daniel had said, Jack began to smile. "How right you are, Daniel. How right you are."
"All I can say, Ferretti, is that you are soooo dead," observed his second in command, the irritating smirk on his face not improving Lou's mood.
News of what the lieutenant colonel did to Daniel had gotten out, and, now, everybody was looking at him either like someone gazing sympathetically at a person who was terminally ill or with an expression not unlike what must have been on the faces of some of the commoners who watched with glee as a member of the aristocracy was led up to the guillotine during the French Revolution. Ferretti wasn't sure which expression was worse.
He spent all of yesterday kicking himself for being such an idiot and sweating over what Daniel would do to him. What had he been thinking?! You don't mess with a man who can barbeque supersoldiers, blow Goa'uld ships out of the sky like skeet shooting clay targets, and lift Stargates just by thinking about it! Dumb, dumb, dumb!
Despite what he had said to Jack, Ferretti knew that he was in no physical danger from Daniel. The archeologist would never harm him. Regardless of the power he now possessed, Daniel was still the same caring, compassionate man he'd always been. However, he was also imaginative and extremely intelligent and not above seeking payback if the other person was deserving of it. There was that whole incident with Emmett Bregman and "Casper", and what he did to Baal on Kreth showed what he was capable of when he got mad enough. Ferretti had no doubt that Daniel was seriously pissed at him. The hangover the archeologist woke up with was apparently an especially bad one, so bad that he was pretty much incapable of working. Ferretti pictured himself in Daniel's position and how he'd feel about the person responsible, and he came to the inescapable conclusion that his goose was cooked.
The pitying looks Lou had received when he passed the checkpoints this morning almost made him turn around and run back home, but he knew that, sooner or later, he was going to have to face Daniel, and getting arrested for being AWOL wouldn't help matters any.
The real kicker, however, was when he learned that there was now a base-wide pool on what form his punishment would take and when it would happen. The odds were in favor of public nakedness being involved – with or without a bow.
Ferretti was presently in his office, trying to get some work done. Every little sound outside was making him jump, and each time he heard footsteps, his pulse began to climb.
'This is ridiculous,' he berated himself. 'You are a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. You've been in hundreds of life and death battle situations, and you're afraid of one lone archeologist?' His internal voice immediately reminded him of what that one lone archeologist was capable of doing. To Ferretti, even it sounded awfully smug at the thought of his impending downfall.
"Hello, Ferretti," said a mildly pitched voice, a voice that caused every muscle in Lou's body to tense so much that, if it wasn't for the fact that he was still breathing, people might think he was in full rigor mortis.
Slowly, Lou Ferretti's eyes lifted to meet the piercing blue gaze of Doctor Daniel Jackson. The archeologist was standing in the doorway, leaning casually against the door jamb, arms crossed over his chest.
"Hey, uh, Daniel," Ferretti greeted, trying to sound normal. He didn't think he'd succeeded.
"Quite the New Year's Eve party, wasn't it," Daniel said conversationally.
'Oh, God. I'm dead,' Ferretti's mind responded. Aloud, he said, "Please, Daniel. Whatever you're going to do to me, please don't leave me naked somewhere."
The tiniest of smiles lifted the corners of Daniel's mouth. "Now, why would I leave you naked somewhere, Lou?" he asked, still using that mild tone, but the fact that he'd called Ferretti by his first name had the lieutenant colonel really worried.
"I mean, it couldn't be because a certain person spiked my champagne because they thought it would be funny to get me drunk, now would it?" Daniel continued, not the slightest bit of anger showing. That complete absence of visible anger had Ferretti's sweat glands working overtime. He almost wished that Daniel would start to rant and rave. It would be far preferable to that unnerving stare that was focused upon him with almost preternatural intensity.
"I'm sorry!" Ferretti abruptly blurted out. "I know it was stupid and a lousy thing to do to you. I swear I'll never do it again!"
"Oh, I know you won't, Lou," Daniel responded, the eerie calmness of his voice sounding to Ferretti's ears like a church bell chiming for a funeral.
With a little smile, Daniel straightened, turned and left. Ferretti's head sank into his hands.
"He's going to hang me naked from the Stargate. I just know it," he groaned.
Ferretti was still in that position when Colonel Bray came in a few moments later.
"Ah, I see that you're still alive," he said with a nasty grin.
Ferretti stared at him. "You look as pleased by my upcoming doom as everyone else does. I thought you didn't like Daniel."
"You're right, I didn't. I didn't think he belonged on an SG team, that civilians didn't belong in a military operation like the Stargate Program at all. But I was wrong, and he made me see that, even before I went on that mission and watched him command a thousand Jaffa like a four-star. Jackson is a damn good man who deserves all the respect we give General Hammond." Bray's tone changed. "Which is what makes me wonder what in the hell you were thinking when you deliberately got him drunk!"
"I wasn't thinking, sir," Ferretti admitted in a meek voice. "It was a joke, a stupid joke."
"Stupid is right. I'd suggest that the next time you decide to play a joke on someone, you pick somebody who can't fry your ass."
"Yes, sir," Ferretti mumbled, wondering now if this was going to be a black mark on his service record because of the serious consequences that could have arisen due to what he did.
"You are such an idiot," Ferretti told himself aloud after Bray had left.
After leaving Ferretti, Daniel decided to drop in and say hi to Sam. As he entered her lab, she looked up from her work.
"Hi, Daniel." She studied his face. "How are you feeling?"
"A lot better, though still not a hundred percent. Janet checked me out and said that I'm okay, although the fact that I have this many lingering symptoms tells her that these changes in my brain may have affected my ability to recover from the aftereffects of alcohol. Her advice was for me to stay away from the stuff as much as possible, which is fine with me. It's not like I really like beer all that much anyway. I mainly drink the stuff because of Jack. And, to be honest, just the thought of ever consuming anything even remotely alcoholic ever again is not a thought I choose to have at the moment."
Sam smiled at the comment. "So, the next time the colonel asks you to come over for beer and pizza, you'll have to just say no."
"To the beer. I don't think that pizza is deadly to me yet . . . well, except to my cholesterol levels."
A smile came to Sam's lips. "So, have you seen Ferretti yet?"
The corners of Daniel's mouth turned up in a slightly devilish expression. "Yes, I have. The campaign of terror has begun."
Sam laughed. "The campaign of terror?"
"What did you say you were going to do to him?"
"Not a thing. It's all in the way that I didn't say it."
"Poor Ferretti. You're going to have him jumping at shadows and looking over his shoulder every five seconds, expecting the axe to fall at any moment."
"That's the whole idea."
"So, how long are you going to make him suffer?"
"Not long, maybe a few days, a week at the most. Any longer than that and he'll either come to the conclusion that I'm not going to do anything . . . or he'll have a nervous breakdown."
Sam snickered. "I have to say, Daniel, that this side of you is not one that I would have expected. The colonel, yes, but you, no. I mean, I've already seen it twice before, with Bregman and with Baal, and you apparently displayed it even earlier than that when you painted Colonel O'Neill's office pink. Where does this come from?"
Daniel sat on one of the stools. "Ah, you want to know what warped part of my brain thinks up this stuff? I can't really say. From what I remember, Mom and Dad were both pretty serious people, especially Dad, so it's not genetic."
"When's the first time you ever did something like this?"
"Well, I was a pretty shy and quiet kid growing up, and since I was a few grades ahead of everyone else my age during most of my schooling, I generally found myself in class with guys who were several years older than me. And older usually meant bigger, so playing a prank on some jerk in class was not advisable most of the time."
"But you thought about it?"
"On occasion," Daniel replied. "There was only one time that I followed through on my thoughts, however. The school bully at one of my junior high schools terrorized one of the younger boys so badly that he was terrified to even set foot on the school grounds. I considered all different ways of teaching that bully a lesson until I finally came up with what I believed was the perfect thing."
"Well, I figured that, like a lot of school bullies, this guy was a coward at heart, and being mean and tough was a form of overcompensation. As it so happened, I knew a man who was a taxidermist, and I explained to him what was going on and what I wanted to do. Well, he liked the way I thought and gladly gave me one of the items out of his personal collection to use."
"What was it?" Sam asked, leaning forward in anticipation, her elbows on the worktable. She was enjoying hearing this little tale out of Daniel's childhood.
"An ocelot. It had been posed in a leaping position, with teeth and claws bared. The thing was pretty scary looking."
Sam smiled. "You know, I can't quite picture you being acquainted with a taxidermist, not considering what they do."
"My foster father knew him well. They were hunting buddies, and my foster dad sometimes used his services. I hated the whole idea of hunting animals just for trophies, but what was I going to say about it? I was just some foster child who was going to be in their lives only for a short while."
That statement made Sam a little sad, but she pushed the emotion aside. "So, what did you do with the ocelot?"
"I got to school really early and put it in Joel's locker. I tied a string to it and attached the string to the locker door so that, when it was opened, it would pull the ocelot out."
Sam chuckled. "Oh, boy. I can see what's coming."
Daniel smiled and nodded. "Joel comes to school, and, with dozens of other kids around, opens his locker. The next thing he knows, this thing with big teeth and claws is heading right for his face. Well, he let out a girlie scream that half the school heard and ran away down the hall several yards before the laughter stopped him. When he came back and saw that it wasn't a live monster that had attacked him, he was pretty mad and started spewing out threats, but the damage to his reputation had been done, especially since it was pretty obvious that he had, um, momentarily lost control of his bladder."
Sam burst into laughter. "Oh, that is priceless, Daniel! I'd have loved to see that!"
Daniel grinned at her. "Joel never lived it down. A lot of the kids who had been afraid of him before found their courage and started standing up to him. Since the incident also lost him the support of many of the guys who had helped him in his reign of terror, he was pretty much alone. He also lost respect from his teammates on the football team. His career as the school bully was over, just as I'd hoped it would be."
"And he never found out that it was you who did it?"
"No. He never even considered me as a suspect. I was the shy, quiet geek, after all, certainly not someone who would have the courage to do anything like that."
Sam smiled inwardly, thinking about how, even back then, people underestimated Daniel and the strength and courage he possessed. Just then, she had a thought. "How did you get in his locker? Didn't it have a lock on it?"
"I staked out the locker for several days and eventually managed to get the whole combination by peeking as he put it in. There are advantages to being invisible."
Sam frowned. "Invisible?"
"I was this meek, quiet little kid who rarely socialized with anyone in school and kept mostly to my books, Sam. In a room full of other kids, I was barely noticed most of the time."
"So, what changed?"
"Daniel, nobody in their right mind would call you quiet or meek, and you're not little either."
"Oh." Daniel's mouth twisted into a half-wry expression. "I guess you could say that I came out of my shell in college. I was still younger than most of the other kids, but it didn't matter so much there, and being a bookworm wasn't quite such a source of derision since there are lots of those in college. I gradually learned to speak my mind and openly stand up for my point of view, though I was never what you'd call submissive when it came to something that was important to me."
"I bet. There was probably more than one foster parent or teacher who had to deal with your stubborn streak," Sam said fondly, picturing this tiny blond child standing in defiance against something that he knew was wrong.
Daniel gave a shrug. "As for not being little anymore, that happened in college, too. I had a pretty big growth spurt during my freshman year, which kept on going through my sophomore year. By the time I hit eighteen, I was as tall or taller than most of the other guys, though I was still kind of skinny. The filling out didn't start happening until a few years later." He smiled a little. "So, that's the story of my first practical joke."
"That was great. Did you do stuff like that very often?" she asked.
"No, I seldom saw the need. I'm really not a practical joker under normal circumstances. Painting Jack's office was the first time I'd done anything like that in a very long time."
Another smile graced Sam's face. "I can't believe it was you who did that."
"Well, I was pretty ticked off at him, and it was the only thing I could think of to make him shut up and stop teasing me and embarrassing me by talking about my secret admirer to every person on base. And it definitely worked. He was so embarrassed by all the talk that was now going around the base about him that he didn't even think about me."
Sam let out a giggle. "Remind me never to give you reason to do something like that to me."
"Don't worry, Sam. I can't imagine that ever happening," Daniel said with a smile. He got to his feet. "Well, I should get to my office. There's lots of work to do."
"Okay. Maybe we could have lunch together, someplace off-base. We almost never do that anymore."
Daniel's smile returned. "That would be great. Would noon work for you?"
"Perfect," Sam replied.
"Okay, I'll stop by here, then. See you."
Author's Note: The practical joke that Daniel played on the bully in school did not entirely come from my imagination. It was inspired by a joke that my father played upon a man he worked with, who was a notorious practical joker that Dad decided to get even with. Rather than a taxidermist, the stuffed cat (I don't know what type of cat it was) was borrowed from the props department at MGM Studios, which is where my father worked at the time. Also, his coworker's reaction wasn't quite so . . . embarrassing. *g* I always enjoyed the story, and I hope you did, too.