For Epistolary Alphabet Soup.
Summary: Everyone has a weakness
Word count: 1900
Characters: Cam Mitchell, Daniel Jackson, Vala Maldoran, Teal’c, Samantha Carter, Jack O’Neill
Era: Season 9
Categories: Friendship, Humor, Angst, Team
Author's notes: Thanks to Denny for the beta!
Excerpt: "You're saying I lost control of my unit."
“On my first day at Stargate Command, Landry asked me, 'What's your kryptonite?' It's bugged me ever since.” Cam felt better having shared this piece of vital information with his team. After six hours in a dungeon, they were cold, tired, and sore. The conversation had also become a little maudlin as rescue seemed further and further away.
“Really? Landry said that?” Jackson asked. “Why are you worried about it now?”
“Because if I'm going to die, I'd like to know this about myself.” Cam shook the chains that held his arms to the wall. “What is my kryptonite?”
“Are we speaking of Superman from Earth mythology?” Teal'c asked.
“Well, it's not exactly a mythology, Teal'c,” Jackson said. “The term mythology is usually reserved for practices and writings that reflect the religious beliefs of people in a particular time and place. Superman is a character from a comic book.”
“There are books?” Vala asked. “I thought Superman was just a movie.”
“Not books, Vala, comic books—books with pictures as well as words,” Daniel said. “It’s a very old Earth art form, dating from the early twentieth century.
“Just a movie? Just a movie?” Cam interrupted. “One of the best movies ever made.”
“I've seen the movie. More than one, I think,” Vala said.
“I believe there are four with Christopher Reeve. However, those numbers do not reflect the many television adaptations through the years.”
“Obviously, I have some research to do on Superman when we get home,” Vala said.
“His history is an interesting one,” Teal'c added. “He has also died and come back from the dead.”
“So has Jackson, Teal'c. That's not really so surprising. And nobody's telling his story.”
“Yet,” Teal'c added after a pause.
In a loud voice, Jackson steered the conversation away from dead-again Daniel. “Superman's appeal is in his vulnerability to kryptonite. All heroes have something that makes them... fallible. That's what Landry meant, Mitchell.”
Cam sighed. “First: I'm not a hero. Second: I already know I'm fallible. Third: If I have a weakness, I'd like to know what it is. The air force doesn't cut me a pay check so that I can be...weak.” He rattled the chains to illustrate his point.
The room fell silent at that.
“Jack? Do you want to weigh in here?” Jackson directed his voice to the corner of the room where General Jack O'Neill, along on the mission at Cameron Mitchell's personal request, stood chained to the wall.
“Oh, I don't know. Because you're here, because you're the senior officer, because it would be nice to know you're awake over there and not unconscious.”
“Fine. We're not going to die.”
“I didn't mean about that,” Jackson said. “I mean about the whole Superman / kryptonite thing.”
“I'm with Teal'c. I like Christopher Reeve as Superman although I thought the fourth movie was weak.”
“And I owned most of the comics when I was a kid. I think I might even have had a first edition that my grandpa gave me. Might be worth some money now... if I can find it.”
“But the TV shows weren't my favorites—the whole Lois Lane and Clark Kent getting married thing didn't do it for me.”
Vala piped in, “Lois Lane and Clark Kent, married? Is this show still on television?”
Jackson was reduced to a sputter. “That's not what we were talking about.”
“Also,” O'Neill continued, “I don't think that Christopher Reeve's Superman was the original movie. Somebody made Superman movies during World War II. I'm pretty sure. Don't know if I've ever seen them, though.”
“I believe you are correct, O'Neill. I had forgotten those films.”
Thankfully, Sam's voice interrupted the chatter. “Everybody okay in there? I got the ransom. Finally.”
Cam sighed in relief. “Carter, what took you so long?”
“So, Carter, what did it cost to get us out?” O'Neill asked his former second-in-command.
They'd seen to the injured, paid the ransom, and were now on their way back to the Stargate with a delegation from the village and SG-3 as backup. Jackson had a badly sprained wrist, O'Neill a wrenched shoulder, Teal'c a cut on his thigh, and Vala a bump on her head, all minor injuries, thankfully. Cam himself didn't even have a bruise, something he felt sort of guilty about.
“Four goats, sir,” Sam said.
“Yes, sir. One for each prisoner.”
“Carter, there are five of us.”
“We got a deal, sir. They gave you to us for free because you're the--” She cleared her throat.
“I'm the what?”
“The oldest. They didn't want to be responsible for someone your age.”
“Did anyone ever tell you you're a barrel of laughs, Carter? How would you like to be busted back to lieutenant?”
“There are days it has its appeal, sir.” She tugged on the sling. “How's it feel?”
“Like I'm old and decrepit. It's fine. Go bug someone else.”
She smiled and moved to Daniel who was trying to talk with the village mayor at the same time a medic was trying to secure the bandage on his hand.
“So did you figure out your kryptonite yet, Mitchell?” O'Neill asked, falling into step with Cam.
“No, I didn't,” he said, trying not to let his frustration show, and then added a hasty, “Sir.”
“Um... I can't say as I've been sure of anything since I joined SG-1. Do you know my kryptonite?”
“Oh, yeah. I know.” O'Neill adjusted the sling and winced.
They walked on in silence while Mitchell watched the Stargate's most famous leader walk beside him. “Are you going to tell me, sir?”
“Do you know I'm not even worth a goat?”
“Carter said they threw me in for free. She brought four goats, one for each of you.”
“I'm sure she was kidding, sir.”
“Yeah. Maybe. She's funny like that.”
Vala had taken over schmoozing the mayor while Daniel stepped back to talk to Teal'c.
“So give me the sit-rep, Mitchell. Tell me how we got into this mess.”
“Lay it out for me. Retrace your steps, as it were.”
“You were there, sir.”
“Yep. Give it to me, Mitchell. We were in an Ancient ruin and....” He waved his free hand expansively.
“And Jackson muttered something in Ancient—which freaked out our village guide who took off running. Sam spewed some technobabble about how the ruins were aligned to catch the summer sun... like a Stonehenge clone or something. The next thing I know, we're surrounded by a whole bunch of bad-tempered guys with bows and arrows.”
“And we ended up in a medieval dungeon.”
“You missed a step in there, son.”
“No, I didn't.”
“Yes, you did.”
“I think he's talking about me, Mitchell,” Jackson piped in. “He thinks--”
“Daniel, why don't you tell Vala about Smallville? I'm sure she'd love to hear about young Clark Kent.”
“How do you know about--” Jackson bit his tongue and glared. “Fine, I'll go talk to Vala.” He sped up until Vala captured his arm. Their voices wafted back to Cam.
“So, Daniel, tell me about this Smalltown program.”
“Smallville,” Teal'c said. “I am familiar with the show. It is now in its seventh or eighth year.”
O'Neill let them move ahead until their voices faded. “That's your kryptonite, Mitchell.”
“I've never even seen Smallville, sir.”
“Not that. Come on, Mitchell, you're a bright guy.”
Cam sighed. “Jackson stepped in front of me and waved his hands around, yelling 'Don't shoot,' and I didn't. By then it was too late. Sam got sent back to the 'gate for goats, and we ended up in manacles.”
“You're saying I lost command of my unit.”
“You never had command of it, Mitchell, and if you think you did, you're a fool.”
They went through the motions: shower, debrief, and downtime. Sam took a day to ride her motorcycle, Teal'c and Vala took a day to buy all the available seasons of Smallville. O'Neill, Cam heard, was staying an extra day with Jackson. Cam took a day to... brood. When he was done brooding and opened his email, the first message he saw was from General O'Neill. He swore under his breath.
“Mitchell,” it said, “you found your kryptonite—it's your team. So here's my assessment:
“Maldoran: She's impulsive and asks too many questions, but she'll get over it.
“Teal'c: He's a good egg, unless you run in to a Goa'uld he has a problem with, and then all bets are off.
“Daniel: Yeah, I've wanted to put him in a box a couple of times myself (you know, the whole kryptonite in a lead-lined box thing), but he has kind of a phobia about the sarcophagus so I don't say that very often. Whatever he tells you, just go with it; he's usually right about stuff. And damned irritating when he is.
“Carter: Once I can remember to do the paperwork, I'm busting her down to lieutenant and then taking her out to a nice Greek restaurant for goat.
“Oh, and the next time you need someone to activate nonexistent Ancient technology, call Sheppard.
“You're gonna be fine, Mitchell.
“I have to go help Daniel make coffee before he has a one-handed meltdown.”
The email was signed J.O.
“P.S. Print the attachment and stick it in your pack.”
Cam then noticed that the email had been carbon copied to everyone on the team—and that it had an attachment. He hit print and went to make his own cup of coffee.
When he got back, he had five new messages.
From Vala: “What do you mean I ask too many questions? How am I supposed to learn about your planet if I don't ask questions?”
From Teal'c: “I am not an egg. Even without my symbiote, I am a strong warrior. Do you wish to engage in another boxing match, O'Neill?”
From Sam: “There's a new Greek place downtown. How about we make it a team night and do dinner before you go back to Washington? I've never had goat.”
From Vala: “Teal'c and I are watching Smallville. Can we do takeout? Did I get the term right, Muscles?”
From Jackson: “Stick me in a box? I'd like to see you try it, Jack. You and which goat? Vala, you're watching Smallville on DVD. You can turn it off and join us for dinner.”
Cam heard another ping as he picked up the piece of paper from the printer. It was a new message from O'Neill: “See, Mitchell, what did I tell ya? They're all a pain in the ass. Carter, you're buying.”
From Vala: “Am I going to like Greek food?”
From Sam: “I don't think I can afford it on a lieutenant's salary. You're buying, sir.”
From Jackson: “I'll help you order. You're going to love Greek food—and Jack’s buying....”
O'Neill's attachment read like this: KRYPTONITE—WHAT ALL HEROES NEED TO BE HUMAN.
Before he hit “reply all,” Cam folded up the paper and stuck it in his wallet. He'd print another one at work to put in his pack.