Guess what? Thothmes and I have been jointly nominated for the Gatefic Awards -- or, rather, the joint story has been! At the request of the GateFicFolk, I've compiled all the 'verses' in our saga into a single post.
Original prompt: Beth
First verse: Thothmes
Second Verse: Beth
Final verse: Thothmes
Ohhhh, The Cat Came Back ...
Sam had made Brigadier and was freshly installed as the general in charge of the SGC when Daniel died yet again. Teal'c had been on a leave of absence, off helping with Rya'c's election campaign, so Colonel Mitchell, Vala, and a Lieutenant Gibbons had been the only witnesses. Cam, grey with guilt and anguish, had explained that there had been no possibility of him surviving or of retrieving the body. The lava flow had been too sudden, and too hot. Daniel had been at the end of the line, and was the only one caught in it. Vala had been mute with grief, and her attempt to hide it behind a wobbly, teary smile fooled no one. Lieutenant Gibbons had said that he had turned at Daniel's cry, seen the lava start to roll over him, and that it was so hot that he had instantly burnt up in a bright flash of light, and then he had lost his lunch all over his combat boots, right there in the Gate Room in front of all the Marines.
Sam sent them all off to the infirmary, and then, with shaking hands, put a call through to the Pentagon. He needed to know.
"Sir," she said, thinking correctly that if she made this a "sir" call and not a "Jack" call, she might, just might get through this without breaking, "We've lost Daniel again."
General O'Neill seemed remarkably calm, considering.
"He's like the cat in that song," he said. "He'll be back."
Some three weeks later, General O'Neill was in town to make his annual inspection of the SGC. Teal'c was back too, proud of his son's electoral success, and declaring his three year old grandson to be showing signs that he would grow to be a formidable warrior like his father.
When the remnants of SG-1 and General O'Neill (minus the lowly Lieutenant Gibbons, who discovered another obligation as soon as he heard how rare the air was going to be at pizza night this time) knocked on Carter's door that afternoon, they were concerned to find her looking a bit shaken.
"General Carter, you appear unwell," said Teal'c breaking the silence.
"What gives, Carter?" asked O'Neill.
"I have a new cat," she replied.
"Yeah. Heisenberg. We know," said Cam.
"No. This is a new new cat."
"Ooookay," said Jack. "And this is a problem because ..."
"I can't pick him up," she said. "He just showed up inside the house, when he wasn't there when I left for work today, and I can't pick him up."
"Perhaps he just needs to get used to you," offered Vala brightly. "If you buy him a can of tuna instead of that nasty dry stuff, maybe he'll be more – "
"No, you don't understand. It's physically impossible to pick him up. I just ..." She made repeated upward motions of both hands, side by side and moving together. She looked rather pitifully at General O'Neill. "I think maybe I need to be relieved of my command, sir. I'm thinking of taking up knitting."
O'Neill gave a frown of concern, and placed his hands firmly in either pocket, a sure sign that he didn't want them semaphoring anything that the others might be able to interpret.
"I think you better show us this cat, Carter."
Carter, grimacing, and if anything a bit paler, gestured towards the kitchen, visible from the front hall.
"There he is now, sir."
A sleek well-muscled cat with an unusual coat of reddish brown fur and startling blue eyes jumped off the dark granite counter, and proceeded to walk through the central island.
When he emerged, his head came through the solid wood, followed by the rest of his body. He stalked up to Vala, walked figure eights around and between her legs, went to Mitchell and delicately sniffed his leg, jumped up onto the back of the living room couch and from there to Teal'c's shoulder and then down again, to stand over Jack's right sneaker, where he proceeded to noisily and convincingly hawk up an invisible hairball – all the sound was there, all the motion, no actual result.
There was silence as all present exchanged glances. Jack was the first to find his voice.
"As much as I'd like that sweater with the one arm longer than the other, Carter," said Jack, "I don't think you're nuts, I'm not relieving you of your command, and I suggest you name him Daniel."
The cat began to purr.
~ end first verse ~
The Cat Came Back Again
The really surprising thing was how quickly they all got used to the cat.
There were some rough patches, of course. Cameron Mitchell had four formal events in three weeks that required dress blues, and every time, the cat turned up just as he was getting ready to head out the door. Loud purring and an incomprehensible fascination with his socks . . . and, five minutes later, no cat in sight, but enough cat hair on the uniform to make a good start at knitting a brand-new kitten. Assuming you could actually touch the hair, which you couldn’t, which meant it couldn’t be brushed off, or wiped off, or shaken off, or removed with scotch tape or a damp washcloth or a lint brush or (presumably) a flame-thrower. Cam didn’t try the flame-thrower.
The first time, he wasted half an hour trying to remove the hair. The second time, he tried to avoid the cat. That didn’t work either. The third time, he called General Carter, who asked him if he’d always been a slow learner and why didn’t he have a second uniform? The fourth time, he shrugged and went as he was, and the cat hair vanished while he was on his way to the medal ceremony. It figured. Daniel could be hard to deal with at times, but he wasn’t actually malicious.
Vala seemed almost happy about it; or, if not happy, at least the stark rings around her eyes had begun to fade.
“You look like you’re actually getting some sleep again,” Sam told her.
Since Daniel’s most recent death, Vala’s smile had been a dreadful grimace, when she’d even managed to attempt one. Now, the smile was real, although subdued. “Um . . . well, you see, it’s . . . the cat.”
“It has to be, doesn’t it? I mean, I don’t usually even see him. It. Him. But every time I wake up in the night, he’s there. All curled up on top of the covers. Or on the pillow. Or on top of me. You know, for something that you can’t really touch, he’s very heavy. I woke up this morning and he was sprawled all over the blanket and somehow taking up most of the bed, I’m not sure how, but I had to get up even though I really didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all, because he kept flicking his tail in front of my nose and it tickled horribly!”
Later that day, when the base psychologist dropped by the General’s office to complain that Vala had skipped her grief counseling appointment again, Sam told him not to reschedule it. “She’ll be fine. She’s, um, using an alternative therapy method. It seems to be effective.”
The psychologist sniffed to show his opinion of alternative therapies. It would probably be some Jaffa thing, something with candles. And chanting. He snapped his notebook shut and left the office. Behind him, the cat minced in his exact footsteps, waving an eloquent tail that emphasised the huffiness of his stride and somehow made the rigid outrage of his shoulders even more ridiculous.
General Carter had to wait until the door had closed safely before she could put her head down on her desk and laugh and cry. When she looked up again, the cat was sitting on her desk, grooming itself.
Teal’c didn’t say much about Daniel’s feline appearances and disappearances, except to ask Sam, quietly and privately, whether a given observed behaviour was typical for cats. Sometimes it was. Sam was able to assure him that even tangible cats often turned up in rooms where they didn’t belong. Most cats, however, didn’t pounce on lit candles. No cat did so more than once. Cats didn’t usually walk through lit candles, either. Sam hadn’t known that Teal’c still meditated, even though he no longer needed to perform kel’no’reem; in an odd way, the consistency comforted her. She spent a long time, after that conversation, trying to calculate how the weak nuclear force could be focused to allow an insubstantial sentient entity to snuff a candle and leave the wick cold.
When she looked up again from that exercise, the cat was sitting on her desk again. Grooming itself.
And there was Cassie. They hadn’t been sure whether or not to tell her about the cat – she was upset enough about losing Daniel again. So Daniel took the decision out of their hands. Cassie called Sam the first time the cat turned up in the apartment she shared with two other college students at UCCS. After the initial excitement, she seemed to get used to him faster than anyone else did, although her dog took a lot longer.
“He doesn’t like it,” she explained over the phone a few days later. “He never stays in the same room with Daniel if he’s got anywhere else to go.”
“Well, that’s not surprising,” Sam replied. “I’m not sure Daniel has a scent, and that’ll confuse any dog.” It confused Sam to hear herself saying that kind of thing, but at least she could handle it better than the dog. “How are your roommates taking it?”
“They don’t even know about him. Daniel never lets them see him.”
“Probably a good idea.”
Even Lieutenant Gibbons got along with the cat, although it only visited him twice: once right after he requested the transfer out of SGC, and again right after he’d changed his mind and asked the General if it wasn’t too late to rescind the request. Sam had buried the paperwork in the third layer down on her desk, hoping Gibbons would change his mind – it wasn’t his fault Daniel was dead again. She reassured him that the continuing services of an officer with his exemplary record were deeply valued and that she’d be only too happy to keep him around. She caught herself using some of General Hammond’s turns of phrase and hoped she hadn’t accidentally slipped into a Texas accent.
“What made you change your mind, Lieutenant?”
“Well, um . . . the cat turned up last night. You know, that cat – ” Sam nodded. They all knew. “Sitting on my couch. It looked all disappointed, and you did say to think it over, so . . . ”
The next day, Gibbons stopped by her office again to announce, “I’m getting a real cat. From the shelter. I always wanted a cat.”
Afterwards, Daniel reappeared and ‘helped’ Sam locate the missing paperwork by chasing a nonexistent mouse across her desk, knocking half the contents onto the floor in the process. Then he watched her type up reports, occasionally batting at her rapidly moving fingers, and finally flopping down on top of the keyboard.
Sam tried to go on typing – she could reach right through him, after all, and feel the keys of the keyboard under her fingers – but it felt strange, and Daniel’s unblinking feline gaze was disconcerting. She glared back at him, then tried to scratch his ears. Neither worked. “How does an insubstantial entity manage to knock physical objects over? Hell, how come you can walk on top of the desk at all? And why am I talking to a cat that’s only subjectively present?”
The answering purr was annoyingly smug.
It had been odd at first, but they were getting used to the cat.
Then the mouse turned up in Jack’s shoe.
Sam’s phone rang at 0530 – that is, it was 0530 in Washington. It was 0330 in Colorado, and she interrupted Jack’s incoherent plaint to point this out, but he wasn’t listening.
“In my shoe. This morning. In. My. Shoe!! I can’t even tell if it’s dead. Jesus, Carter, do all cat people have to put up with this crap?”
“Well, yeah, if – ” part of Sam’s brain woke up enough at that point to stop her from saying if the cat really loves you, they bring you presents like that. Jack wouldn’t appreciate that part of the idea. He wouldn’t like the bad grammar either. “If a cat brings you an icky present, just thank the cat and get rid of the mouse or frog or whatever. But nicely. It’s better if the cat doesn’t actually see you throwing it in the garbage.”
“Carter, are you listening? I can’t touch the damned thing!”
“Oh.” Sam sat up and switched on the light. “Is it one of the really gross ones? Heisenberg brought me one last year that was disemboweled. And it was still alive. That was really nasty – ”
“Carter!” Sam held the phone away from her ear, and almost missed the next bit, because suddenly Jack was hissing instead of shouting. “When I said I can’t touch it, I mean I can’t. It’s not there. Except it is.”
“Oh.” Sam ran a hand through her hair. “Oh. Yeah, that would be a problem.” She felt something in the room – a stirring of the air, a sense of presence – and glanced up to see Daniel lying on the foot of her bed, fastidiously licking one paw. The last two inches of his tail flicked back and forth contentedly. She turned back to the ranting general on the phone. “Sir, try knocking your shoe out from under the mouse.”
“You can’t remove the mouse, right? Try removing the shoe.”
Scuffles and bumps, and clearly audible curses. Brief silence. Scraping as the phone was picked up again.
“Did it work?”
“It worked.” She could see in her mind’s eye how Jack’s face must look: tight-lipped, aggravated. Too much stress, not enough sleep, not enough activity. Jack getting ready for another day of Pentagon misery, half-dressed in the full uniform he loathed, in sock feet, briefly but completely distracted by the battle for his shoes. “Of course, I still have a kinda-sorta-dead mouse on my floor, but maybe I can have the floor exorcised or something. Ya think that’ll work? I can’t even see the damned cat right now anyway. Oh, wait, there he is.”
“He is?” Sam looked at the foot of her bed again. Daniel was gone.
“Yeah. He’s sitting on my bed. With his back to me. He looks really pissed. Does that make sense? I mean, this is a cat. Why couldn’t Daniel have come back as a dog? Whoa! Nice kitty! I didn’t mean it . . . ” Thumps and crashes at the other end. “Call ya later, I have to go pick up everything that used to be on my desk . . . ”
Sam replaced the phone and wondered whether it was worth it to try to get back to sleep. She glanced down at the foot of her bed, and Daniel was back, regarding her with inscrutable bright unwinking cat eyes. Cats’ eyes shouldn’t be that shade of blue. But every cat should look so self-satisfied.
“Bad kitty,” Sam murmured. She clicked off the light and pulled up the covers. A moment later, a solid, purring, comforting warmth settled against the curve of her spine. She fell asleep instantly.
Three days later, the call from Jack came at the almost civilised hour of 0500, Colorado time.
“Sleeping in, sir?”
“The mouse. The – not-mouse. The non-mouse. The nonny-mouse. The anonymous mouse anonymously deposited in my shoe, the other shoe this time. Maybe Daniel didn’t want my left shoe to feel neglected.”
“Is it the same mouse?”
“Ya think there are two mice in the universe like that?”
“Sir, until your other call, I didn’t even know there was one mouse in the universe like that.”
“Good point. Yeah, it’s the same damned mouse. Or its identical twin. Who the hell cares if it’s the same mouse?” Jack’s voice dropped. “Actually . . . Carter, it’s funny you should ask that. I swear there’s something familiar about the damned thing.”
“The face. If you can call it that. The mouse’s face. It’s – no. No, I’m imagining it – never mind. I had a late night. Maybe I oughta retire and take up knitting. Isn’t it somebody else’s turn to save the damned galaxy?”
“Does that mean I get a sweater with one arm longer than the other?” Sam asked.
“Ya sure you betcha. Ow! Crap!!”
“Damned cat just pounced on my foot! And I’m not even wearing socks! Carter, how come I can feel the claws? No, wait. Don’t answer that.”
Jack emailed later that day, mentioning that removing the shoe had worked again, thank yew, but the mouse was still creepy. He emailed again the day afterwards, to report that the mouse had been left on his pillow this time, and it still looked vaguely familiar. ‘Pretty sure it’s not the head of the Appropriations Committee. If I ask Daniel nicely, maybe the next one will be?’
Teal’c stopped by Sam’s office the following afternoon to consult with her about the relative merits of three different catnip mice.
“I have no idea if those will have any effect at all . . . ” she began.
Vala sashayed into the office without knocking. “Oh, they will. But you’ll have to leave Daniel alone with them. He’s much too dignified to touch them if you’re actually watching.”
“Not exactly . . . I got Cameron to do it. I thought it’d be a little like coffee, you know. I thought Daniel must miss coffee.”
“That was most considerate of you. I too had the same concern.”
The next morning, the mouse was in Sam’s shoe. It fuzzed away into nothing while she was still blinking her eyes to be sure it was there, but she also got that odd feeling of familiarity. Something about the eyes, maybe. Or maybe she’d been putting in too many late nights. Commander of the SGC itself: it had been the culmination of a dream she hadn’t even let herself admit she had. But the big leather chair was a worry seat, with even more teams in rotation off-world than ever before. The galaxy still wasn’t a safe place for the unwary. General Hammond’s shoes would always be hard to fill.
The mouse was in her slipper the morning afterwards. She scowled at it in annoyance, in no mood for feline pranks, and stalked off to the kitchen barefoot to find coffee. When she clicked on the kitchen light, Daniel was sitting on the counter by the coffeemaker. Sam had owned cats for years (or been owned by them), and had no trouble recognising any of the finer gradations of disappointment and disdain. She also wasn’t easily cowed by it; years of practice helped there, too.
Once the coffee was actually steaming in the cup, her hands wrapped gratefully around the warmth, she felt willing to discuss the matter. “Look. Daniel. It’s a lovely mouse. I don’t know where you’re getting mice to chase, under the circumstances, but I really do appreciate what a nice mouse it is. Still, I think you’ve made your point. Okay?”
The answering yowl was a sound she’d never heard him make. He slipped right through her hands – she still hadn’t managed to teach herself not to try to pet him, in spite of the futility – flowed away from her off the far side of the counter and vanished. She wasn’t surprised when he didn’t reappear that day.
Not to her, anyway.
A few pleasantly mouseless days passed. Sam had been out with Vala – their ‘girls-only’ expeditions were even more rare and precious these days. They’d finally returned to Sam’s house, triumphantly laden with bags of swag, to drink wine and eat pizza and snicker at movies, when the phone rang.
The incoherent voice on the line was Cassie.
Cassie was at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs – she had chosen to attend a college as close to ‘home’ as she could get. Maybe it was an odd choice for a girl who had been born hundreds of light-years away, but Sam had been both sympathetic and relieved to have Cassie close enough for the ‘family’ to be there at need. In the first two and a half years, she hadn’t needed anything more critical than help with an occasional last-minute research project impasse (fixed by Sam or Daniel) and a leaking washing machine (fixed by Siler).
Now – some things couldn’t exactly be fixed, but it could have been so much worse, easily, too damned easily. Tears and sobbing gasps on the phone; later, at the police station, wails and huddled hugs between Sam and Vala. Teal’c was already there with Cassie, a solid wall of comfort. He was there when Sam and Vala arrived; they pieced together the story between Cassie’s sobs and learned that he’d been there all along. He had made the call to the police . . . and then made the intruder wait for the cops to arrive.
He’d done far more than that. Technically, Sam supposed it fell under the heading of criminal intimidation, and there would probably be a lot of very messy paperwork, fences to mend, ruffled feathers to soothe, officialdom to placate, and oh God, it was her job to do all that now that General Hammond wasn’t around – who was the little creep again? A friend of a friend of one of Cassie’s roommates, apparently.
Teal’c had inexplicably appeared at the house, unannounced and unexpected. He had stormed through the door without knocking, a mountain of wrath, and the little creep had nearly passed out from sheer horror at the non-expression on Teal’c’s face. Teal’c had stood there with the telephone handset almost swallowed in his massive grip, speaking with a restraint that would have been beyond Sam, beyond any of them.
This time, this time only, I will allow the legal mechanisms of this country to address your actions. However, if you ever again enter this house, or approach Cassandra Frasier, or lay a hand on any female without her consent, I will kill you. Do you understand this?
Then he had called 911 and summoned the second wave of cavalry, then dialed Sam to summon the third. The little creep (not so little, actually, except compared to Teal’c) was already in a holding cell. Cassie had tried to insist that the bruises and the split lip didn’t have to mean a trip to the emergency room. Cam had joined them by then, and Vala insisted that they regroup at Sam’s house as soon as the tedium of official statements and reports, and the grim necessity of the rape test, were all over for the night. It was an excellent idea; the pizza was cold by then, but nobody really cared. Sam got on the phone to order more while Vala demanded to know how Teal’c had been able to stage the heroic rescue in such a timely manner.
“Daniel Jackson warned me.”
Sam hung up the phone before placing her order so she could stare. “What?”
Vala gawked. “Daniel? How?”
“He appeared while I was watching films and knocked my DVDs of Lassie off the shelf,” Teal’c said gravely. “I interpreted this to mean that someone was in trouble and began to recite possible names. When I reached Cassandra Frasier, Daniel Jackson yowled and ran out the door.”
Cassie was curled up on the couch, shivering again. She was almost doubled up, her head in her hands. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry . . . ” She had been apologising for hours. “I shouldn’t have needed rescuing, I don’t know why I didn’t fight back like you all taught me . . . ”
“Hey, honey, it’s all right – ” Sam started.
Cam cut her off. “Cut it out, Cassie.” She started, staring up at him. “It doesn’t just take training, it takes practice. You haven’t had any practice till now. If you freeze up another time, then you can worry about apologising. But I don’t think you will. Teal’c said you did unfreeze, but you were fighting out of your weight class.”
“I – I didn’t exactly. Not at first. Not till the cat jumped all over Jeremy – ”
“He what?” “You didn’t say – ” “Not the cat again?”
“Teal’c said not to. Not to the cops, I mean. I guess it wouldn’t’ve made much sense.”
“Indeed not. They would have wondered why the young man’s back and arms and face were not actually damaged.” Teal’c looked immensely pleased, although he was only smiling very slightly. “It would seem that Daniel Jackson’s claws can be felt very intensely, even though no marks remain afterwards. The – individual – was making a remarkable amount of noise when I arrived.”
“Ooo, good job Daniel,” Vala purred. “You know what? It figures. It just figures. Even as a cat, he can’t stay out of trouble.” She uncurled from her overstuffed armchair and stood over Cassie. “Pizza later. Right now, young lady, it’s time for a shower. A very very very hot shower, with lots of nice scrubby soap. And floofy warm towels. Pizza after that. Trust me, hot showers and pizza help a lot. You know, Earth should export pizza to the entire galaxy. It would do more for interplanetary peace than all the big guns and ships put together.” She chivvied Cassie towards the bathroom, calling over her shoulder, “Sam, she’s going to need a bathrobe and slippers.”
“In the closet.”
Sam was turning back to the phone and the unordered pizza when a dreadful thought hit her. “Teal’c, here, take this – just order whatever you like – ” she hurried off towards the bedroom. Too late. Vala’s outraged shriek confirmed Sam’s fears.
“That damned mouse . . . ”
Cam was hard on her heels when Sam burst into the bedroom to find Vala holding the mouse cupped in her hands, a look of horror and disgust mingling on her face with – something else. “Oh my god . . . ”
“Wait a minute.” Sam stared. “You’re holding it.”
“Ewww,” Cam said. “You picked it up?”
“That’s the thing!” Sam said in annoyance. “Daniel’s been leaving it around for days, I can’t touch it, General O’Neill couldn’t touch it . . . Vala, what’s wrong?”
“It’s . . . ” Vala had turned white as a sheet. “It’s Adria, Sam. It’s Adria, oh my god . . . ”
Cam had paled also. “She’s right . . . ” He stared at the limp form in Vala’s hand.
“That’s why the damned thing looked so familiar,” Sam said softly. She looked around for Daniel, but there had been no sign of him all day. “Vala, are you okay?” Dumb question.
“It never seemed right,” Vala murmured. “It never seemed fair. After all the horrible things she did. Ascension is supposed to be for the nice people, isn’t it? The good guys? Or at least for people who are trying to do the right thing? It’s not supposed to be a reward for genocidal maniacs, is it? It never, I don’t know, it never seemed fair.” She looked up from the dead mouse, tears streaming down her face. Sam could see clearly now that it was dead, and wondered why there had ever been any doubt of it. “And never mind the whole thing about eternal struggles between immortal beings or whatever, that wasn’t right either. It always meant that she might somehow manage to come back and do even more horrible things . . . kill the other half of the galaxy or something . . . ”
Cam stepped forward and put an arm around her. Cassie had bolted in from the bathroom at the noise, and Sam hugged her, and Teal’c silently materialised from the hallway and stood with them, watching. The mouse seemed to shimmer, growing weirdly dark as if overshadowed by an unseen cloud. A moment later, Vala’s hand was empty.
In the silence, the jarring sound of the telephone made them all jump.
Sam looked at the caller ID before she picked up the handset. Washington DC. Jack’s number.
“Carter? It’s Jack.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Daniel’s here. As in, here.”
Jack rang off and turned back to where Daniel was sitting on his couch, wrapped in a peculiarly ugly knitted afghan. “The welcoming committee’s goin’ nuts out there. You feelin’ any better yet?”
Daniel groaned, rubbed the back of his neck, ran both hands through his hair. “I feel like I’m shedding. Or like I’ve got fleas or something.” He rubbed his face hard, as if testing for missing whiskers.
“We could get you some flea-killer shampoo. Maybe that would help.”
“Don’t you dare say anything about catnip. Or bits of string.”
“Deal.” Jack settled down into his own chair. “So what happened this time? Don’t tell me – penalty for interference again?”
Daniel grinned. “Check.”
~ end second verse ~
Oh, Daniel Came Back, He Just Couldn't Stay Away
Totally unconscious of the delighted smiles and goggle-eyed stares of the people he passed in the hall, Daniel proceeded, coffee in one hand and a particularly fascinating copy of the American Journal of Archaeology open and held in front of his face in the other, towards his office. The reactions of the passersby depended on how long each individual had worked at the SGC. Old hands were delighted. New ones were surprised and not a little incredulous. Dr. MacKenzie gave a vast sigh of resignation.
Nyan was so pleased that he actually gave a whoop and threw the object in his hand (a four thousand year old clay tablet) into the air. Fortunately for his psyche, he realized his mistake within a nanosecond of the object leaving his hand, and was able to make the catch. "No harm, no foul", General O'Neill would have told him. But then, the General had been horrifying the archaeology department for over a decade now by juggling priceless artifacts. Nyan was so shaken at his violation of the trust placed in him in allowing him to handle priceless artifacts that he had to sit clutching the tablet to his chest with his head between his knees and take vast gulps of air for a full twenty minutes before he could proceed on down the hall to the Archaeology Storage Vault.
Daniel was not aware of the stir he created because he was so vastly entertained by the exchange of pointed letters on the subject of the validity of Professor Warburton's proposed interpretation of Linear A (a writing system that Daniel had fully decoded six years previously due to unpublishable extraterrestrial sources), that he was oblivious to all but that and - in a minor way - the path ahead of him. There were some truly heated exchanges, masterpieces of the scathing scholarly retort and pinnacles of the fine art of damningly faint praise, the enjoyment and humor greatly elevated by the fact that most of the writers were personal acquaintances of Daniel's.
Nonetheless, eventually Daniel was faced by the prospect of the door to his office, and he had to close the journal and tuck it under the arm that held the coffee to free a hand to reach into his pocket for his key card. He swiped it in the reader, and deftly reached for the door and pushed it open.
"I'll kill him!" he said aloud, even as he realized that Jack had kept his word. No catnip. No string. Not even any cat chow or tuna.
A simply enormous floor-to-ceiling carpeted pillar, with platforms, also carpeted, protruding at regular intervals. On each of the platforms, whoever had set up the pillar had carefully arrayed a selection of the pottery and statuary that had previously been displayed on his shelving.
A scratching post. Jack had sent him a scratching post.
In a particularly bilious shade of green. Daniel racked his brain for what they called that.
Oh yeah. Peridot.
~ fin (and tail!) ~