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Permanent Ink

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Too much time spent with pen in hand can permanently warp a growing mind. Look at how Daniel turned out -- brilliant, sure, but he can hardly think without actually writing something down, as if the thoughts might get away otherwise. Deprived of his preferred paper-and-ink, he becomes restless, sketching invisible images through the air, trying to communicate his bullet train speed of thought to mere mortals. Typing is convenient that way as his fingers can almost keep up with his mind but, as he'd said once, writing was just more satisfying. Chalk boards -- and white boards, too, these days -- proliferate as much in a military setting as an academic one, but Daniel is nothing if not impatient and he will write on the nearest thing to hand when he's mid-thought. I learned quickly enough that anything not an artifact was fair game in that regard and the fact that the nearest paper might have big red letters designating it the final copy of a yearly budget proposal doesn't even faze him.

He's been this way as long as I've known him.

Bored senseless in week two of our enforced vacation at the Goa'uld Pleasure Palace, I commented that the first time I met Daniel, he'd just blithely erased years of hard work and then rewritten it on the fly. ("As if the only copy they had was on a chalkboard," Daniel had snorted.) Then, while trying to explain basic physics and how a language could be written in stars to a roomful of military brass, he'd grabbed the nearest marker and sketched the Earth glyph on an absurdly expensive monitor which was the primary visual interface for a multi-million dollar, one of a kind, control system. The marker, naturally, was permanent.

("It opened the gate, Jack," he had said, obviously annoyed, "yet you're still bitching. Isn't it time for you to go entertain Sam for a while?" That monitor had been replaced before that first trip through the gate, the marked one stashed in a supply room until the forms for its disposal could be filled out in triplicate. A few years later a clerk had stumbled across it, literally, and set it aside with the boxes of stuff that Siler had been quietly gathering up and saving, the stuff that has made up the unwritten history of the SGC.)

I really shouldn't have been surprised, given Daniel's cavalier attitude with the monitor, to find him a couple of weeks after the return from Abydos standing in a random corridor with a parchment in one hand and a marker in the other while staring at what had previously been a blank wall. It wasn't long before the commissary started to complain about being afraid to clean the ink from the tables in case it was important; all of it in the Daniel Jackson scrawl that everyone on base had come to recognize. Soon, stacks of scrap paper appeared in several tempting piles around the commissary, one of them near at hand to the team's usual table, while any markers with permanent ink went into base wide lock down.

The only exception to that ongoing restriction is the archaeology labs where there is way too many tags and labels to be marked with permanent, archival ink to make such a thing practical; the tables in each of those labs bear out the results like a cautionary tale. They are virtual works of art with rough sketches and fragments of translations - a ten year portrait of Daniel's discoveries and frustrations within the labs, including random commentary as he forgets the permanence of his medium. I can say I've been immortalized a number of times, especially in the documents lab, with things like Jack is driving me NUTS. And that's just the English; the other languages I can read generally don't bear repeating in mixed company.

Only artifacts are sacrosanct, safe from Daniel's absentminded defacement. Time at the SGC has broken him of most of his Earthbound archaeological training, the sheer inundation of artifacts through the gate and the fact that not even he can excavate the entire universe. He is careful. He carries his spare set of tools through the gate every mission, tries to get photos in situ whenever possible, and logs everything he remembers in his journal every night. Still, it's far from how he's been trained.

These days he wears gloves with only the most precious items, has been known to use some artifacts as impromptu paperweights against the quiet shush of air that comes regularly from the louvered vents behind his desk, and, on one mission, had traded what he'd sworn was an absolutely fascinating chunk of rock the night before for a package of beans that could be ground and boiled for a coffee like beverage. ("Really, Jack," he'd said with an eye roll, "we have half a dozen waiting to be cataloged back in the lab.") He hasn't fallen so far that he'd let someone, say, juggle with them, which I do test at unpredictable intervals.

Anything not an artifact is fair game though, and it doesn't end at the last base checkpoint. After one accident when he was trying to write on a napkin and drive at the same time, Sam gave him a digital voice recorder for his car, rigged somehow that it requires Daniel's fingerprint to play back or erase anything it records. As far as the pristine condition of the walls and surfaces in Daniel's apartments, that I'll have to attribute to him having plenty of actual paper, and journals, and notebooks close at hand when he's there. The excellent housekeeping service with their industrial strength chemicals doesn't hurt, which can be attested to by the security reports they regularly leave on my desk at the mountain.

(Daniel has never clued in that the very nice people he "hired" for housekeeping are actually vetted operatives with top secret security clearance who not only clean but also sweep for any known type of surveillance device and maintain a 24 hour watch on the place. Sam and I both know -- the same arrangements are in place for both of our houses -- but we're waiting to see how long it takes Daniel to figure it out. Sam, with a dogged faith in Daniel, has been losing the bet for five years running and Daniel still hasn't noticed that scraps of paper with highly classified scribbles mysteriously migrate from his apartment to his desk on base.)

Then there is off-world. Daniel will use anything that holds an impression when illustrating a point -- dirt or sand with the nearest stick, bark carved at knife point, or one stone scratched against another. On RPD-692 he'd been explaining bicycles to the local culture using the char on a half burnt stick from the campfire and then, when he went to snatch up a replacement without looking, had managed to give himself second degree burns. The Resident Person in Charge, the focus of his attention, had looked a little unnerved as Daniel had hissed in annoyance and let Sam tend to the damaged palm while he switched to sketching with his other hand, picking up where he'd been forced to leave off. Impatience had long ago made Daniel ambidextrous.

Two days later Daniel didn't get my joke about cosmic payback as, on yet another planet, an old man was tattooing one symbol high on Daniel's right hip, another behind his shoulder, and a third inside his thigh. Sam had, though, when I repeated it to her later. The first time I said it, she'd been distracted, watching with glazed eyes as Daniel lay back in only his briefs, BDUs down around his ankles, skin glistening in the heat as he grunted occasionally with a particularly deep prick of the tattooist's needle.

In the here and now, I gently slide the sheet and blanket aside and bare the one on the inside of Daniel's thigh, then freeze when he whuffs in his sleep. When he stays asleep, I reach for the lotion soaked cotton ball and swipe lightly across the small, intricate tattoo. I admire the aesthetics for a moment, then glance up to find Sam watching me.

"I have to do his shoulder too, ya know."

"Hmmm," Sam murmurs, not looking too inclined to move from her sprawl over Daniel's right side, one generous breast pillowed on his bicep, the still bandaged burn on his right hand hidden somewhere between her legs. We're going to have to change that dressing later.

"You're just horny again and want to steal my spot so you can play with the undamaged bits," she whispers in a sleepy slur.

"Fine. Be that way," I say with a put upon sniff. Her not noticing the hard on or guessing at my motivation was a long shot, but it'd been worth a try. I toss the cotton ball in the small trash can next to the bed and crawl over the two of them to settle back behind her, rub a moment against the sleekness of her skin, and slide my calf between the slight part of her knees. "Some of us haven't gotten off three times tonight already."

Sam just laughs quietly.

I sigh, trying to sound as long suffering as possible, and settle my arm comfortably across the curve of her waist. Maintenance at the SGC are still continuously painting over scribbles in the hallways and there is an old, wobbly table from Restoration that has Siler's collection sitting on it, but some writing no one will ever see. Lying here and stroking the smooth skin near the new gold hoop in Daniel's navel, I ponder the irony that of all the marks Daniel has made since coming to the SGC, trailing chaos and adoration in his wake across the galaxy, the deepest, most permanent marks are the invisible ones he has left on my soul.