Colonel Jack O’Neill sat quietly at the briefing table next to Daniel Jackson. Under the table, he held Daniel’s hand in his. Their friends and co-workers, Teal’c, Samantha Carter, Doctor Janet Fraiser, and General George Hammond filed solemnly into the room, taking their usual chairs.
Janet placed a thick file on the table in front of her, flipping it open. At a nod from General Hammond, she cleared her throat and began the briefing. “As you know, the mass in Daniel’s abdomen which we thought might be a tumor is actually a completely new organ remarkably similar to a -" She halted, shuffling through some loose papers in the file but Jack got the impression that she wasn’t reading the documents as much as fidgeting with them while she composed herself. Taking a deep breath she continued exactly where she left off "- uterus.”
Oh my god, thought Jack, she said the U-word. His heart started thumping a little harder, a little faster. There was something about hearing that out loud that made this all seem weirder.
“Based on an ultrasound examination of the, ah, organ and assuming a similar gestational period as for a, um, normal” papers swished loudly against each other as the fidgeting increased and Janet stammered out the next word “preg- um, pregnancy, then conception occurred approximately two months ago. It seems likely that whatever happened during those missing hours on P98-J4D may be the key.”
Okay, the U-word was bad enough, but the P-word…that just boggled his mind, especially since he was usually catching, not pitching. That should be him with the U-word cluttering up his insides and the P-word messing with his brain. He should be the one swelling up and making the science news. Next to him, Daniel seemed to shrink into himself. At every mention of the P-word and the U-word and even the G-word, the hand Jack was holding would clench briefly. Jack squeezed back encouragingly, which seemed to help for a minute.
Then General Hammond asked how gate travel would affect Daniel’s condition and Jack could practically hear the quotation marks around the word "condition" as the General tried to tiptoe around the subject. Daniel was sinking down again, mentally withdrawing into himself and one eye started to twitch. Jack needed to find a way to bolster his spirits, make him feel better about all of this. But how?
“I’m sorry,” Sam interjected, “but….how could it even be possible?” Ever since the news had been announced in the infirmary, Sam had had a faraway look in her eye, the same one she got when she was trying to figure out alien technology. “I mean, given the, um, probable manner of delivery….” She trailed off blushing.
Janet picked up the dropped thought. “Yes, given that there is no direct route from the, ah presumed starting point to the finish line, and given that the finish line shouldn’t have been there in the first place, there should be no way this could have happened. Plus, tests show that this IS a, um, joint venture between the Colonel and Dr. Jackson, but I can’t figure out how they managed to, um, combine forces so to speak.”
Jack had been wondering those very same things. His little guys would have started there, made an impossible detour to pick up some of Daniel’s little guys, blended with them - which was also impossible - then made their way to a previously non-existent organ to set up housekeeping. It was quite a feat even if he did say so himself. Definitely something a man could be proud of, right? Not even superheroes could do that. That was a positive thing, right? A bit of good news that could perk up a man who was feeling down?
“What can I say?” he boasted for them both, hoping to cheer up Daniel, “Our swimmers are Olympic class. If ‘knocking up’ was an event, they could medal.”
Wrenching his hand from Jack’s, Daniel frowned at him. “Thank you for turning an awkward situation into one that’s truly distasteful,” he grumbled.
Oh crap. Not ten minutes ago Jack had pledged to be there for Daniel no matter what, but the first thing he did was run off at the mouth with less than diplomatic comments. Again. As usual. Crap. Hampered by the shortened angle, Jack ineffectively patted the shoulder nearest him and tried to make a joke of it. Grinning in what he hoped was a placating manner, he said, "As the knockee, I’m sure you’d be up for an extra award. It's not every day a guy sprouts a brand new body part."
"I didn't do it deliberately," Daniel was indignant.
"Well, I know that, I just meant- "
"It's not like I wandered off to the nearest giant hardware store and wandered around the aisles looking for new gadgets to have installed in my plumbing." Daniel's upper lip curled in a fit of pique.
"Did I mention hardware?" Jack narrowed his eyes. He hated it when Daniel over reacted.
"Gentlemen!" General Hammond's bark was for the both of them, but his frown was directly solely at Jack. “Let’s stick to the subject at hand, Colonel." The General flicked his hand toward Janet. "Go on, Dr. Fraiser.”
Great. So much for using a little humor to lighten the mood. Jack hadn't gotten so much as a twitch of a corner of a mouth out of anyone, plus he thought he had heard a low growl from Teal’c’s direction. Talk about a tough room. Inwardly, he sighed. The good news was that Daniel was sitting up straight, attentive to every word from the doctor's mouth. Jack had accomplished his goal, though not quite the way he wanted because the bad news was that Daniel was pissed at him.
Janet discussed scans and blood panels, some of which she’d already told them about while they were down in the infirmary. Daniel asked a couple of pertinent questions. As usual Jack was listening with one ear while his mind raced. The conversation around him faded into a background buzz while he thought ahead to the inevitable conclusion - the birth. How was that going to work? Thanks to the priests at the temple in the city of Gebrat, Daniel had a fancy new organ for incubating, but that was on the inside. On the outside, his physiology was still the same as ever. How was the baby going to come out?
Paying no attention whatsoever to the discussion in progress, Jack cut Janet off mid-sentence, blurting out “What happens when the bun is ready to come out of the oven?” One hand waved vaguely toward Daniel. “He’s not going to open up like one of those Russian dolls is he?” His brows twisted together as he considered the options. “Or maybe some kind of gigantic Pez dispenser?”
Daniel turned to face his partner, dropping his head so that he peered at him over his glasses . “Yes, Jack, that’s it exactly. My head will snap back and the baby will come shooting out of my neck.”
Jack wrinkled up his face, trying to envision that. “Do you really think so?” he asked hesitantly.
“No, I know!” continued Daniel a little louder, “it’s like a slot machine. You keep pulling my arm and if you hit the jackpot, the baby pops out my belly button.”
Jack looked skeptical. “That’s not-“
“No, wait!” Waving his hands, Daniel shifted into satiric overdrive. “Tiny elves will fly out of my ears to sprinkle me with rose petals while chanting 'Let’s Not Do This Again' and the baby will magically appear on a puffy white cloud.”
Jack crossed his arms and scowled. “Now you’re just being sarcastic.”
“Reaaaally?” Eyes as wide as he could get them, Daniel exaggerated his facial movements. “What gave it away?” Leaning back in his chair, he crossed his arms and scowled back at Jack.
For a moment they sat there, mirror images of each other. Jack lifted his chin defiantly, intending to make a rude retort about what a prick Daniel could be, then realized that everyone, not just Daniel, but everyone in the room was glaring at him. If looks could kill, he’d be dead several times over. He shut his mouth and tried not to seem cowed.
General Hammond glowered at him in disapproval. “Dr. Fraiser is recommending that SG-1 return to P98-J4D to question the Omri." The general hesitated slightly, glancing over at Daniel as he said the name of the native people, giving the archeologist a chance to correct him if need be. At Daniel's nod he continued. "Hopefully you will be able to discover just exactly what happened during that ceremony.” He centered his attention on the diminutive doctor. “I would like you to accompany them.”
“Certainly, sir.” She neatly replaced all the loose documents into the file and closed the cover.
“You leave tomorrow at oh-eight-hundred. Dismissed.”
Daniel was up out of his chair like a shot, announcing to the room at large, “I’ll be in my office – alone.”
Taking the hint, Jack dawdled at the back of the room as the others left. Teal’c lingered, but Jack got the feeling that the Jaffa wasn’t there to keep him company but to keep him from following Daniel. Everyone was concerned about Daniel, as they should be, but what about him? He was part of this too. Where was the sympathy for him? Where were the solicitous looks, the kind words, the consoling hugs? Could they spare a moment of their time for him? No, they were too busy punishing him for ruining their precious Daniel, as though Daniel had been some delicate virgin who had been led astray by the wicked wiles of the evil Colonel.
In truth, it was the other way around. Daniel was experienced and inventive, as well as flexible in every possible sense of the word. After getting kicked out of the Glowy Squid Club, he had pursued Jack with dogged determination until the Colonel gave in and discovered that there was a whole lot he didn’t know about sex, but was mighty willing to learn. Jack considered himself a man of the world but he had never even heard of half the activities Daniel had introduced him to. Not that any of their friends would believe it of Dr. Sweet And Innocent My Aunt Fanny. And now everyone was pissed at Jack for supposedly besmirching Daniel’s presumed purity. It just wasn’t fair.
Besides, Jack hadn't even wanted to go to that ceremony in the first place. He'd said no. He really had. But did that stop Daniel? Hah! More like start. The man began yammering away, talking a mile a minute about all the fabulous reasons they should attend until Jack finally gave in just to get some peace and quiet. Jack might be stubborn, but Daniel was stubborner. More stubborn. Whatever. The point was, once he got his dander up, Daniel wasn't letting go. He made pit bulls seem like quitters and the only sane thing to do was let him have his way. So, if anyone was to blame for this, it wasn't Jack, which made catching hell for it all the more irritating.
“This is all Daniel’s fault, anyway,” he sulked.
Teal’c sucked in a breath and straightened his spine. Oh crap. Did he say that out loud? Teal’c fixed Jack with a pointed stare. Apparently he had.
Teal’c narrowed his eyes. “As I recall, Daniel Jackson requested permission to attend the ritual to which he had been invited. At no time did he evince a desire to engage in private relations at a communal gathering.”
“See!” Jack knew he was indulging in self-pity but obstinately wallowed on, raising one finger to emphasize his point. “If he hadn’t wanted to attend the thingy, we wouldn’t have been there to-“
Teal’c interrupted, obviously displeased. “At what point did he say, Please, O’Neill, publicly impale me upon your magnificent manhood so that I might become the willing vessel for your precious seed?”
Shuddering, Jack reached up to grip one broad muscular shoulder. “T, I’m telling you man to Jaffa - you gotta take it easy on the romance novels.” Quickly re-running the conversation in his head, he repeated hopefully, “Magnificent?”
Teal’c glanced down with such disdain that Jack had to fight the urge to cover his crotch protectively with his hands.
“Obvious hyperbole,” Teal’c said dismissively. “Do not let it swell either of your heads.”
As a seasoned military officer, Jack knew the perfect moment for tactical retreat when he saw one. In an effort to preserve what little dignity remained, Jack tried to fake out Teal'c by looking astonished and pointing behind the big guy. His plan was to exit unobserved when Teal'c turned to look behind him. However, it's difficult to fake out a former first prime with well over one hundred years of experience dealing with recalcitrant underlings. Teal'c never broke contact with Jack's gaze leaving him no option but to openly skulk off in the opposite direction from Daniel.
He and Daniel had been confined to separate quarters on base for the night. Feeling it more prudent to give Daniel his space, he spent the rest of the day hiding in his office utterly failing to do any paperwork. Walter kept tabs on Daniel for him, popping in from time to time to with little bulletins such as "Dr. Jackson ate a power bar at his desk instead of going to lunch" or "Dr. Jackson spent five minutes in the linguistics department translating the tablet that Dr. Neimeyeer had been working on for a week," or "Major Carter asked Dr. Jackson to help her with an experiment. Teal'c came and got everything under control before the alarms went off a second time."
So, business as usual then. Jack found that comforting. Still, late that night as he lay alone in his assigned bed, it took him a long time to fall asleep and when he did his dreams were a bizarre mish-mash of disturbing images. One particularly vivid sequence began with a black and white panorama of Small Town USA like one of the sitcoms from the 1950's, maybe the Donna Reed Show or Leave It To Beaver. As he walked through the town friendly citizens nodded and waved at him. Instead of "hello" each chirped, "It should have been you".
Color returned as the landscape suddenly flashed over to a hospital interior. Jack was splayed out on an exam table, feet up in stirrups with a crowd of doctors and photographers peering intently up his crotch. Dressed like June Cleaver in a pink cocktail dress, high heels and a strand of pearls, his abdomen jutted so far out he looked like he was smuggling an ottoman under his skirts. A suit wearing, pipe smoking Daniel stood next to him, gripping Jack's shoulder proudly as he addressed the crowd. “I’d like you to meet my wife, Jack. He squeezes out babies as easily as toothpaste from a tube. We’ve had 18 so far, and just look at him go!” Daniel smiled at Jack, patting his hand encouragingly, “How’s my little cupcake?” The flashbulbs from the frenzied photographers gave a strobe effect to the room light as number 19 squeezed out. “That’s my girl, Jack!”
Jack woke with a gasp. Shuddering, he ran one hand over his abdomen. Whew! Still had that boyish figure. Okay, so "boyish" might be pushing it a little at his age, but he worked hard to stay in prime condition and every year it was harder to keep trim. Guilt warred with relief as it occurred to him that that would be one more thing on the list of "Should've Been Me". Maybe he could switch it around, make that one more way he could be supportive of his partner, one more thing he could help him get through. He would help Daniel fight the Battle of the Bulge both during the gestation, and afterward. He eyed the clock on the dresser. Great. If he went to sleep right now he could get a restful 47 minutes before the alarm went off. Hugging his pillow, he closed his eyes.
What felt like 47 seconds later, a harsh buzzing jerked him awake. He silenced the alarm on his way to the bathroom for a quick pee, shower and shave. Once dressed, he stopped by Daniel's quarters only to find them vacant so he pushed on to the commissary.
It was prime breakfast time so the dining area was packed full of hungry staff. Sam and Daniel were sitting at a table in the corner. Daniel had his back to the door and a plate full of waffles and bacon in front of him. Directly across from Daniel was Teal'c's overloaded tray. The big man himself was heading toward the beverage center to get his customary two glasses of orange juice. Sam was sitting on the other side of the table, facing Jack and eating bacon and eggs. After a quick trip through the line for coffee, oatmeal and sausage, Jack joined his team mates.
Pulling out the chair next to Daniel, Jack used his peripheral vision to check the man over. Hmmm...he looked well rested and appeared to be in a pleasant mood. Would Daniel be game for a volley or two of the verbal banter they enjoyed? Jack decided to test the waters. With a gesture that encompassed Teal'c's tray as well as Daniel's own breakfast, Jack opened with a lighthearted, "You're eating for two, not two-hundred" then yelped when something hard cracked his shin.
Across the table, Sam glared at him. "Sorry, sir," she said grimly, "my foot must have slipped."
"It's okay, Sam," said Daniel. There was a twinkle in his eyes as he riposted, "Remember, this is from the man who thinks sugar is one of the four major food groups."
Jack relaxed. Good. Daniel wanted to play. He lobbed back, "According to a certain archeologist I know, the other three are coffee, chocolate, and power bars."
Daniel looked thoughtful as he chewed a big syrupy mouthful of waffles. He swallowed then said, "Yep. That sounds about right."
Teal'c placed his juice on the table, then sat. "Perhaps you should consider a more healthful alternative." He indicated the piles of fresh fruit on his tray.
"Actually," said Sam, "fruit is high in fructose - fruit sugar."
"In that case, peel me a grape."
Teal'c frowned at his breakfast. "One does not peel grapes, O'Neill," he noted absently.
Sam noticed Teal'c's dismay. Touching his arm, she assured him, "Fruit is also high in vitamins and minerals and some are high in fiber, too. Very healthy."
"And what of this?" Teal'c pulled one of the bagels out from under the fresh fruit. Holding it between thumb and forefinger, he peered at it in suspicion.
"Carbs, T." Jack sprinkled some sugar on his oatmeal, then opened one of the little coffee creamers and poured that on as well. "Carbs are what keep you going when the sugar wears off. Gotta have carbs."
"I do not believe Dr. Atkins would agree."
"Your diet is very healthy, Teal'c. If it would make you feel better, ask Janet for some nutritional information when we get back," suggested Daniel.
With that, the conversation turned to favorite foods then veered off in a few other directions thereafter. As he ate, Jack was pleased to see Daniel fully involved and acting like his usual self. More importantly, he was relieved to see Carter and Teal'c treating Daniel and himself just the same as they ever had. While it would have hurt like hell to have his team mates turn their backs on him, he'd survive. Daniel, though, would have been devastated. Now that he knew that neither his romantic relationship with Daniel nor this unforeseen development would change their friends' opinion of them, Jack could breathe easier.
After breakfast, they headed to the infirmary for the pre-mission check up. Janet personally supervised Daniel's newly customized physical routine then submitted to Doctor Warner's care for her own pre-mission check up. As they gathered in the gate room, it was odd to see the Doc in her BDU'S with a medical bag in one hand and a Beretta strapped to her leg. Making sure he went first, Jack positioned Daniel and Sam behind him to the left and Janet and Teal'c on his right arranged in a Vee formation.
Jack gave a pre-gating speech mostly for Janet's benefit. "Okay, these Omri folks were fairly friendly last time, so we probably won't have any difficulty this time. Just in case, though, be on your toes and take your cues from me. Remember, the gate is a good distance from the city with nothing but a few trees and open country around it. Odds are, we won't meet anyone until we get closer to the city."
He waited for Janet's nod, then walked up the ramp, his team plus one following in perfect form like little ducklings scurrying after their momma duck. Or daddy duck, in this case. Not that he was their dad but he was a guy so the momma part didn't really fit. Did ducklings follow the papa duck as well as the momma duck? Before Jack could decide, the wormhole swallowed him up.
As they exited the gate, Jack saw a small group of natives not twenty feet away, staring intently at them. Predominantly dark haired, dark eyed, and tan skinned, the Omri were a shade on the short side as a people. He halted on the platform, motioning for the team to stay put while he got a feel for the mood of the crowd.
As if the wormhole snapping shut had been a signal, a wizened old woman shuffled forward. Her leathery face was so wrinkled that her eyes were mere slits. Smiling widely to show off a lone brown tooth, she pointed a crooked finger at them. Her hand shook so much it was impossible to tell if she was pointing at anyone in particular. She stood like that a moment and Jack braced himself for some of the hocus-pocus shaman mumbo-jumbo they sometimes ran across. Instead of intoning spells or chanting, she yelled out a heavily accented yet terrifyingly recognizable, "Fuck me like you mean it!"
"Gah!" Tightening his grip on his weapon, Jack immediately backed away blurting out, "Not for a million dollars and the keys to a mother-ship, grandma!"
Somewhere to his left one of his team snorted in amusement. The natives bobbed their heads, smiling and talking excitedly amongst themselves. However, in addition to the native tongue Jack heard slightly mangled English as several of them repeated Grandma's request.
"What the hell?" Jack turned to Daniel who looked as dumbfounded as he felt. "Daniel?" He snapped his fingers in front of Daniel's face.
Daniel blinked and pulled himself together. "Oh, um, they're saying they are glad to see us again, what an honor it is for us to return and they can take us to the temple. The priests want to talk to us."
"What a coincidence. We want to talk to the priests, too." Jack coughed into his hand, needing to know but reluctant to ask. "Any idea what the, ah, special greeting was about?" he asked in a low voice, very afraid of what the answer might be.
Eyes glued to the cheerful old woman, Daniel shook his head. "Not a clue," he said briskly, "and frankly I'm afraid to find out."
"Yeah, me too." Jack adjusted his sunglasses. "Carter, you're on point. Teal'c you bat clean up. Doc, you're in the middle with me and Daniel. Let's go, campers."
They followed the dirt road leading off from the stargate. The area had too few trees to be a forest, but too many to be a plain. A light brown creature reminiscent of a woodchuck waddled off into the underbrush as the people neared. Small drab birds flittered though the branches around them. The day was bright and a bit too warm in the sun. Jack shifted his grip on his weapon to free one hand for adjusting his ball cap. He could feel moisture beading up along his hairline and wished for the zillionth time that there was such a thing as summer weight BDU's.
As they trailed the native party, Jack spoke quietly to Daniel. "Doesn't Granny remind you of those dolls we saw at that craft show in Denver? The ones with the heads made out of dried apples?"
While Daniel thought it over, Janet jumped in with, "Oh, I've seen those. You're right - she does."
"Actually," said Daniel, "I was thinking of those Chinese dogs. Not chows, not Pekinese..."
"Oh!" exclaimed Janet. "Shar Pei!"
"Just ignore him," advised Daniel.
Janet winked at him. "I always do."
Ahead of them, Sam tried to cover a laugh by turning it into a cough.
"Too late, Major," Jack called out cheerily. "Already heard you."
"Sorry, sir." She turned to flash him a cheeky grin.
A short walk brought them to the intersection with the road to the nearest city. Also made of packed dirt, the main road, being busier, was deeply rutted by wheeled traffic. One of the big wooden wagons pulled by a team of two large purplish not-oxen that served as the main form of transportation on this planet sat on the verge. Granny One Tooth and her friends headed directly for it.
One fellow in a yellow tunic with horizontal brown stripes broke off from the group to stand in front of Teal'c and Sam. Larger than the other Omri, he was still a good few inches shorter than the Jaffa. Glancing nervously at SG-1, he pointed at Teal'c and Sam then rattled off something in his native language.
"Daniel?" Jack shifted his grip on his P-90 so that the muzzle was no longer aimed at the ground, though he stopped short of directing it at anyone. He was walking that fine line between "caught unaware" and "starting something".
"Ah, same as before. Taint of glowing evil. I'm still not sure if the Omri can sense Teal'c's symbiote and the naquadah markers in Sam's blood or if there's some device at the gate that we don't know about that senses it for them." Daniel shrugged. "Janet's okay, though. They don't mind if she accompanies us."
"If it's technology," said Sam as she glanced around the immediate area, "it's well hidden. Last time we were here we had plenty of time to look around while we waited for you guys. Never found a thing."
"In light of prior events, O'Neill, I believe it would be preferable to remain together for the duration of this visit." Although he spoke to Jack, Teal'c centered his attention on the man blocking his way, making him squirm uncomfortably.
"I'm with you, big guy. We're not leaving anyone behind, no matter how politely they ask. We're going as a team, so Daniel you" he lifted one hand from the stock of his weapon long enough to waggle it at the native, "talk to the giant bee there and make it happen."
Daniel nodded, slipping efficiently into the local lingo. Discussion ensued. The other Omri gathered around, their heads moving back and forth between Daniel and their own man, depending on who was talking at the time. They reminded Jack of the audience at a tennis match. Although he couldn't tell what Daniel was saying, Jack knew the tones, the expressions, the body language. Daniel was persuasive, passionate, eloquent. Okay, since he didn't understand the language Jack was just guessing at that last one, but he did know Daniel. Daniel and eloquence were dear old friends.
Time passed. The Bee's responses grew less nervous and more regretful. They were, however, no less firm. Teal'c and Sam weren't going anywhere.
Exasperated, Daniel paused. Jack could see him consider his next course of action. What bit of logic or persuasion would he try next? Jack wished he understood the language because he always enjoyed listening to Daniel talk his way around obstacles, even if he never admitted it. Surprisingly, Daniel abandoned verbal communication altogether.
Sighing piteously, Daniel peeked at the Giant Bee from under batted eyelashes, put on his saddest semi-pout, crossed his arms and slumped his shoulders dejectedly. His bottom lip start to quiver. He was six gorgeous feet of pure, pitiful, misery and even though Jack knew it was all a put-on, he was overcome with the urge to do something, anything, to make Daniel happy again right this instant.
He wasn't the only one, either. He could hear his team making small sounds of distress. The Giant Bee looked stricken. The other Omri all melted. Granny One Tooth smacked the Bee and jabbered a few harsh words. Now it was the Bee's turn to sigh as he gave permission for Teal'c and Sam to come along. The natives all cheered. Granny hurried over to pat Daniel's hand consolingly as she led him to the wagon. Briefly, Jack wondered what would happen if Daniel stopped using his powers only for good.
An hour later, Jack's thoughts were consumed with how much he missed hiking. He was sitting on the floor at the front of the wagon, his back and right side against the wooden panels and his beloved P-90 digging into his leg. His left side nestled up against his other beloved - Daniel. It wasn't a comfy cozy kind of nestling, though, but the overcrowded kind that made a can of sardines look roomy. The wagon was full not only of SG-1 plus Janet, but every native who had been waiting at the gate had climbed in as well.
Iron framework held a canvas cover that kept the sun off of them. Jack was exceedingly glad that the sides had been tied up to let the breeze in, because canvas also kept in the odor of unwashed bodies that had spent a great deal of time working up a sweat. That wasn't too bad - it was the kind of smell that Jack knew from experience that he'd soon get used to. However, either the wagon driver or one of the not-oxen was suffering mightily from digestive trouble causing an eye-watering stench to waft by intermittently.
Jack knew he'd have to put up with the smell for a while since the not-oxen had two speeds: plodding with jostling and slightly faster plodding with bone-jarring impacts. When he was a boy, Jack had gone to a gem and mineral show with his dad once. There he'd seen a rock tumbler - a big rotating drum filled with rocks banging and crashing into each other to be polished. Except for the rotating bit, he imagined this was how it must feel to be one of those rocks.
Jack, like Sam and Teal'c, had a cast iron stomach so motion sickness wouldn't be a problem for him. He was concerned about Daniel, though. Daniel had always been prone to motion sickness under extreme conditions. He didn't get it often, but it did happen on occasion. When Daniel started feeling frequently nauseated a few weeks ago, motion sickness was one of the first culprits Jane thad suspected. Luckily, the same pressure point wrist bands that quelled his motion sickness worked for nausea in general so Daniel had been wearing them almost constantly. Jack peeked at Daniel's wrists, but his jacket cuffs were in the way. Reaching over, he tugged one sleeve up. Realizing what he was doing, Daniel lifted his arms, pulling back first one sleeve then the other to show Jack that the wrist bands were in place. Jack patted his knee in thanks.
Mile after mile they bumped and bounced against the wagon and each other. Jack suffered quietly through impact after impact with Daniel's elbow, Daniel's knee, Daniel's shoulder, Daniel's head, and once when Daniel turned to speak to him, Daniel's chin.
Aggravated after that last collision, Jack groused, "Should have called you Napoleon, instead of Fraiser."
Still rubbing his chin, Daniel asked, "What? Why?"
"Because you've got nothing but Boney-Parts." He clutched his shoulder where Daniel's chin had smacked into it.
"Sorry I'm not better cushioned - like you," Daniel jibed.
Jack tried to give him the Evil Eye. "Did you just call me fat?" The Evil Eye just didn't have the same effect when delivered sideways in a jiggling vehicle where you had to work hard just to maintain eye contact. Of course, Daniel was the one person in the world immune to Jack's Evil Eye under any conditions.
"If the pants fit," Daniel grinned. "Or rather, if they don't. Of course, it doesn't matter to me either way." Daniel risked breaking his nose and Jack's skull by putting his mouth close to Jack's ear to whisper, "It would just mean there was more of you to love."
There was a brief pressure of soft lips half against his earlobe and half on his cheek before Daniel pulled away. Jack wasn't sure if that was an intentional kiss or an accidental touch caused by the jouncing wagon. Taking Daniel's hand in his, Jack held it down between their bodies, where prying eyes wouldn't see. Rubbing his thumb over Daniel's warm skin, he locked gazes with his partner. In a husky voice he replied, "Ditto." Fingers linked, they sat together in quiet companionship for the rest of the ride.
Vehicular traffic had been increasing as they neared their destination, and now pedestrian traffic surged around them as well. A short time later, the sand colored gates to the city of Gebrat slid past Jack's view. Even if he had missed that visual cue, the raucous din and stale odors would have alerted him to their arrival. He was expecting the wagon to take them all the way to the temple. Instead they pulled up outside a building with large double doors, both wide open. If the pungent odor wasn't enough, the piles of dung in varying stages of decay all over the street made it abundantly clear they had parked in front of a livery stable.
Everyone, even Granny and her entourage, piled out of the wagon with considerably less grace than which they'd piled in. Joints ached, muscles were stiff, and body parts had fallen asleep from the journey.
"I hate that pins and needles feeling." Sam grimaced as she rubbed her calf. "If we establish trade with the Omri, the first thing we should give them is shock absorbers."
"I'll second that," said Janet. She set her medical kit on the cleanest spot she could find on the brick pavement so that she could flex her shoulders.
Jack stretched his upper body, trying to get the kinks out of his back. "I'd settle for a decent set of leaf springs."
"The ancient Egyptians, the Celts, and many other cultures used a type of supension to smooth out the ride on chariots and small wagons."
Flaunting his youthful vitality right in Jack's face, Daniel needed maybe ten seconds to shake off the effects of the wagon and was bouncing lightly in place, as though ready to sprint off for the nearest artifact. Meanwhile Jack was still hobbling around trying to convince his joints that it was okay to move again and really it would be nice to do so without pain. Stupid knee.
"I have seen documentaries on that very subject on your Discovery and History channels. The vehicles described were similar to those on many worlds I have visited."
And there was another member of the Good To Go brigade. Way older than Jack - way older than pretty much anyone on Earth in fact - it seemed that the process of dismounting from the wagon alone was enough to limber Teal'c up. One look and it was obvious that his immobility was a concious choice. Not so much 'too stiff to move' as 'the calm before the storm'. Jack hmphed to himself. He wasn't jealous of either of them. No sir. Not him. Another twinge shot through his lower back and his knee complained once more. Stupid knee. Stupid back.
While Jack was busy getting unknotted, Granny and her mob had rounded up a young man dressed in the blue and green robes of the priests. He kept pointing back the way he had come, brows knitting together, trying unsuccesfully to slip away to whatever he'd been doing before they found him. But Granny herded him along looking for all the world like a border collie with a dim-witted sheep. Once she delivered the priest to Jack's group, she shook her fist triumphantly. Daniel yelped when Granny gave him a hug and Jack soon found out why because she gave him a hug too, and pinched his ass while she was at it.
The priest hadn't noticed the SG team yet. He was busy trying to slip away but the Giant Bee blocked his every move. Granny prodded the priest in the kidney to get his attention, then grabbed his chin and moved his head until he was looking in the right direction. The guy took one look at Jack and Daniel and his face lit up like a kid at Christmas. Chuckling, Granny gathered her group and left.
Yammering excitedly for a moment, the priest stopped, shook his head, then continued in English. "Apologies!" He steepled his hands in front of him then bowed. "I shall continue in the foreign tongue so that you might hear me! I am Marliota, Acolyte of the second level of Tralan in the Temple of Grebat. It is with great honor I greet the magnificent ones! Welcome upon your return to Grebat, Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill. Please allow me to escort you to the Temple of Chazier."
He pointed past the livery stable down the street congested with wagons, carts, not-oxen and people moving in all directions.The three-story temple, towering a whopping two stories above the surrounding buildings, was a few blocks away. In front of the temple, striped awnings protruded into the streets, sheltering the market place. Built of timber and adobe like the rest of the city, the temple sported a series of flags all in shades of blue and green around its top floor.
Daniel stepped forward, copying Marlitoa's bow precisely. "Greetings to you as well. I am surprised to hear you speak our language. Last time, there were none here who spoke it."
"I am a scholar of languages. It was unfortunate chance that I was abroad at the time of your visit. I was most disappointed upon my return to learn of the opportunity I had missed. However, I was able to view the recording of your visit and so refresh myself in your tongue."
Jack looked over sharply at that last bit before realizing that his was the only mind that had gone straight to the gutter. Of course, now that he'd gone there, that phrase was going to stick. Maybe later, after the mission, when he and Daniel were home alone, he could demonstrate to Daniel just what his brain had conjured up for "refresh myself in your tongue." He was 99% sure Daniel would approve.
"I am a scholar of languages as well, so I understand your feelings," Daniel said to Marliota. "Tell me though, how did you - wait, wait, wait." A look of panic crept up over Daniel's face. "Did you say recording? There's a recording? Of our visit?" Daniel pointed back and forth between himself and Jack. "Of us? Me and him?"
Smiling, Marliota nodded emphatically. "Oh yes!" Gesturing for them to come along, he began walking toward the temple, dodging a cart full of root vegetables pushed by a small man with iffy navigational skills. Janet snatched her back out of the way just in time. "The ceremony is always recorded with the devices in the temple. Past ceremonies, if especially meaningful or entertaining, are played over and over again for the people. You shall be pleased to know that yours is the most popular ceremonial recording ever made."
"Most popular?" Daniel looked a bit dazed, so Jack closed the distance between them until their shoulders rubbed as they walked.
"Oh yes!" Marliota waved his hands expressively. "Such a vigorous performance! Such expert technique and impressive vocalizations, though many of your remarks were difficult to hear over the clapping from the audience."
"I knew it!" Overcome with smugness, Jack nudged Daniel with an elbow. "See? I told you there was applause."
Daniel poked back --hard. His elbow seemed extra pointy as he put some oomph to it. This was not a friendly acknowledgment of a shared moment. This was punishment. Possibly revenge. Mindful of the bustling traffic whizzing by, Jack eased slightly out of elbow range, wondering if he would be able to tell this bruise from all the ones acquired on the ride there.
Marliota beamed proudly. "We’ve held city wide viewings of your performance every week. We have made many many copies of the recording and sent them to every temple across the land so that all might view it."
"No, no, no, no. Seldom seen. " babbled Daniel. "Seldom seen sacred ritual. Not seen-by-everyone multiple times ritual."
Jack listened carefully for the guy's answer. When they were last here, Daniel was very certain about this being a special occasion kind of thing. He was especially certain about that "seldom seen" bit. Granted, Jack didn't know the lingo, but Daniel did and Daniel rarely erred in translation. If he heard "seldom seen" then that was what the priests had told him. Period.
"Yes, that's right," the native confirmed. "It is seldom seen as has been mentioned."
Jack jumped on the contradiction. "You just said that it was seen by pretty much everyone on this planet. Several times." They were passing in front of what seemed to be a tavern. Judging from the condition of the gutters in front of it, the city was in dire need of sewers. Hopefully the upcoming market place would be cleaner.
"Oh yes!" Marliota nodded emphatically. "Yes indeed it has. Most popular! So many viewings!"
"So, it's not seldom seen then." Jack had to keep one eye on the traffic, one eye on unpleasant pavement surprises, and one eye on his team, all while engaging in the world's most frustrating conversation. This kind of multitasking always made him cranky.
"Oh yes! Very seldom! I have been studying for the priesthood since I was a very young boy and this is only the third Ritual of Renewal which I have been blessed to see."
"Oh for crying out loud!" Jack squinted in annoyance. "Which is it? Seldom seen or seen a lot?"
Mariliota seemed confused. "Yes?"
Halting, Jack snatched the ball cap off his head, overcome by urge the smack the guy with it until he came up with better answers. Daniel's hand closed around his forearm like a vise as the man himself gave Jack That Look, the one that meant that Jack better behave or there'd be hell to pay. Jack refused to think of it as Daniel's version of the Evil Eye because it bugged the crap out of him that while his version never once worked on Daniel, Daniel's version always worked on him. Always. With ill grace, Jack subsided, letting Daniel take charge.
"We don't know what you're trying to say, Marliota. To us, seldom seen and constant viewings are diametrically opposed conditions. How can this ritual can be both at once?"
"Ooooh!" Understanding dawned. "The ritual is seldom seen - that is, very seldom is it performed. The last time was two hands of years ago." He paused to think. "I believe that number is ten? Yes. Ten. It has been ten years since the ritual was performed. Because the ritual is so seldom done, the recordings are very important. It is only through these that the people may have the chance to see and appreciate the ritual. Only the holy temples have the special gift from the gods that allow the recording and viewing of events so that is where the populace gathers to view. Every ceremony is distributed across the world for frequent viewings. It has always been thus."
Daniel wilted a little. "I should have gotten more information," he said dejectedly.
Shoving his cap onto his head, Jack bit out a sharp, "Ya think?" as he glanced at Daniel's abdomen. Immediately, he regretted his words. It wasn't fair to let his temper spill out onto his partner, especially now. Raising his hands, palm up, he said, "I'm sorry."
Daniel straightened up. Before he could snap back at his partner, the acolyte continued, drawing his attention.
"In your honor our people have learned many of your phrases from multiple viewings. Such phrases are used as greetings or to encourage each other. In the market there are several merchants who offer various hand crafted items available as keepsakes for those who wish something by which they may remember the viewing."
Marliota waved a hand at the booths. Now they were among them, they could see what looked remarkably like t-shirts were on display in three or four colors. The front of each shirt had one of three different graphics while the the back of each carried the same lettering. Other booths offered ceramic mugs and plates decorated in a similar fashion. Farther down, Jack glimpsed wooden figurines carved into various poses of the two of them in flagrante delicto.
Eyes wide, Daniel’s face flushed crimson then went white. His hands slapped against his suddenly pale cheeks. “Oh my god,” he whimpered, “we’re porn stars.”
"No, we're not," contradicted Jack as he slouched over to the nearest booth crowded with shirts and Omri wanting to buy them.
"Jack, we are the sole performers in a recording played to audiences world wide which features us having sex," Daniel hissed furiously as he trailed Jack. "How are we not porn stars?"
"Porn stars get paid." Jack gestured to the merchandise booth. "Hey, Marriott. How 'bout comping us some of those shirts?"
His voice caught the attention of the customers at the booth. An excited murmur bubbled up around them as the crowd realized just who was in their midst.
"Are you out of your mind?" Daniel was aghast.
"What?" Jack felt the fabric, then held it up against Daniel to check the size. "They're making a mint off of us. The least they can do is let us in on a little of it."
Daniel snatched the shirt out of his hands, balled it up and flung it on the ground. "I am not wearing a t-shirt that says 'Ride me, Flyboy." He stomped his foot and for a moment Jack was hopeful he was about to launch into the once-seen-yet-never-forgotten tantrum hop from the planet of the weird little naked guys who lived in mushrooms.
Jack had found Daniel flailing about in a fit of pique, thereafter mentally referred to as the "Danny Dance", endearing as hell. Every now and then, he'd deliberately push every annoyance button of Daniel's he could think of, hoping the Danny Dance would reappear. It hadn't yet and it didn't seem like today would be the day either as Daniel stopped moving his feet and put his hands on his hips instead.
"That's writing?" Jack peered at the design. "It really says that?"
"Their writing - yes." Daniel's demeanor was considerably calmer for the moment. Given a chance to expound on a favorite subject, he switched into lecture mode without realizing it. "Based on what I know of the correlation between the phonemes and the written constructs, yes. It says that or at least, that's the intent. They've used their phonetic spelling of our English pronunciation," the volume slid up as Daniel segued back into tirade, "but it gets the message across to anyone who sees it!"
"Pfft! Anyone who speaks and reads their chicken scratch," amended Jack. "It's not like someone back home's gonna recognize it." He took note of the glare Daniel was aiming his way. "Okay, no phrases. How about this one instead?" Jack picked up a pale green shirt imprinted with an image from the recording, gazing at it fondly. "I love it when you make that face," he murmured.
Gasping, Daniel grabbed that shirt as well, his eyes bugging out as he got his first good look at it.
Janet snuck up behind him, craning around his elbow to get a better view. "Oh, yessssss," she purred, "it's just as I always imagined."
"What?" Flabbergasted, Daniel's head whipped around, mouth open, as he clutched the shirt to his chest to hide the picture. "What?!"
Janet presented an innocent expression. "What?"
Jack wanted to call her on it, but making a fuss might upset Daniel more. Besides, Janet was Undisputed Queen of big needles, surprise ass exams, and other unpleasant reprisals. Jack usually reined in his crankier aspects around her since he'd learned the hard way that she would, eventually, get even. Accomplishing it under the auspices of "doing her job" upped the gloating factor as well as making it impossible for him to complain or retaliate. He did give her the Evil Eye, though, hoping it worked better on her than on his lover.
It did. She flicked a glance from him to Daniel. "I was just saying that off world bazaars are just like I always imagined - full of little booths stuffed with a wide variety of merchandise and colorful crowds of local people haggling for goods." She managed to keep a straight face and the innocent look as she spouted her off the cuff explanation.
Jack didn't believe her for second, but Daniel was visibly unclenching so for his sake Jack let it go. Besides it's hard to have the upper hand when said hand is full of alien t-shirts. Jack was taking these babies home regardless. Taking advantage of Daniel's inattention he crammed shirts into both of his cargo pockets and stuffed a couple more into his jacket for good measure. Someday Daniel would thank him for his foresight in procuring such one of a kind personal items.
As he zipped his jacket up to hold in the merchandise, Jack realized that more people were taking notice of him and Daniel. So far, they were staying back at a polite distance, but there was a definite air of excitement. The temple should offer some shelter in case the crowds got unruly, so it was time to get moving again.
"Hey!" Jack tugged on the blue & green robes of their guide. "Marlena! Let's shake a leg before the yokels get too friendly."
Instead of leading the way, Marliota stared down at his feet.
"That's an expression," said Daniel. "It means we should start walking." He stepped toward the temple by way of demonstration.
Marliota said "Oh!" and hurried to get in front of them. Jack could hear him repeat "shake a leg" then something in his own language. He did it several times. If he was anything like Daniel, then he was trying to burn the idiom into his memory right away. Perhaps some of Daniel's mannerisms were par for the course for scholars and linguists.
As they neared the main door of the temple, Marliota chirped, "We’d be happy to have the viewing now if you’d like to see it?" He had the air of someone offering a fabulous treat.
In the chorus of horrified No’s, one deep voice replied “I look forward to it” while another, lighter voice emphatically said "Yes!"
As one, Jack Daniel and Sam turned to stare at Teal’c, who smoothly added, “but perhaps now is not the time.”
Janet's muttered "Spoilsports" was ignored by all.
Fully fifteen feet high and twelve feet wide, the double doors to the temple were made of a dark brown wood that had been carved, gilded, and inlaid with mosaics. The contrast with the light tan of the adobe made them stand out imposingly. Blue and green flags fluttered above them, snapping in a breeze that couldn't be felt at street level. The sight of the ornate entrance to the temple jogged something in Jack's memory. "There was a hot tub."
"That's right." Daniel thought for a moment. "It was the first part of the ceremony, though it was conducted in private. A ritual cleansing with just the two of us."
As they halted in the foyer of the temple, more memories came back, some blurry, some in bits and pieces, but they were there. He could tell the same was happening for Daniel. Even here inside the door, the atmosphere was hushed making it easier to concentrate on the returning images. There were no sounds, no movements beyond their own. The temple seemed deserted.
"Marliota, we came back because we're having trouble remembering just exactly what happened during the ceremony. Would you mind taking us through it step by step?"
"I would be honored, Daniel. As you have said, the ceremony begins with the ritual cleansing which is concluded when the supplicant annoints himself with the sacred oil. Then the supplicant is lead into the inner sanctum of the temple. There, he sips the wine of renewal from the sacred chalice after which he is led by the divine spark to choose one of the gods represented by the many altars therein. He will then make an offering to that god as he beseeches for a resurgence and renewal of spirit."
"What kind of offering is expected?"
As Daniel asked the question, Jack flashed back to Daniel asking that same question two months ago.
"Most supplicants pray. Some will sing or recite poems which they have written. Craftsmen may offer up those works they have wrought with their own hands. No one has ever thought to offer the act of creation before. The priests very much wanted to ask you why you chose to do so?"
"What can I say - the divine spirit led us." Jack's sarcasm went right over the kid's head. In actuality, he and Daniel had planned to recite a poem each. Jack didn't know any poems off-hand, but he did know a lot of limericks, some of them clean. Since the good folks of this world didn't speak English, he didn't think it would matter what he recited. The trick would be surviving the Wrath Of Daniel once his partner realized what he was doing. Of course it was all a moot point since none of the activities they'd ended up engaging in involved poetry.
"Thank you for the answer - the priests will be so glad to know." Much grateful bowing ensued.
"You're welcome." Daniel bowed in return. "If you please, we still need to you to go over the ceremony with us." He craned his neck to look down the hallway. "The door to the bath is the third on the left, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is. Come, let me show you."
A short trip down the quiet corridor brought them to the bathing room and they all filed in. The humid room was about twenty feet square. The floor and the bottom half of the walls were tiled. Oddly enough instead of the usual blue and green, this room was deocrated in shades of purple. Wooden chairs were placed here and there along the walls. Wooden racks affixed around the room at head height held tidy piles of fluffy towels. Under the racks were hooks for clothing. Inset in the center of the floor, and also lined with tile, was a big square pool that could have held a dozen people easily. An underwater ledge for sitting ran around three of the sides. The fourth had a set of steps leading into the waist deep water. A small table near the door held a pottery jug and a glass bottle.
Marliota pointed to the jug which was about the size of a man's fist. "The anointing oil contains a special formula of herbs which help the participant become more open and receptive to the wonders the ceremony can bring."
"I thought that that," Daniel indicated a small blue glass bottle about 4 inches tall next to the jug, "was the anointing oil."
The acolyte shook his head. "No, that is the cleansing liquid. The soap."
"Uh-oh." Jack didn't like where this was heading.
"Colonel?" Janet put her bag down on the floor.
"We got it backwards." With one hand, he removed his cap, holding it between thumb and forefinger and scratched his scalp with the other fingers. "We thought the jug was the soap and the bottle was the oil. The guys that lead us in here just pointed to the table and said one was a precious oil and the other was soap. We figured the precious stuff would be in the smallest container." He jammed the hat back on.
"The ingredients in the oil react with the clay of the vessel, keeping it fresh and potent for many years. It is absorbed through the skin to begin the process of relaxing the supplicant while also stimulating the senses. It is best not to use more than a few dabs of the oil, though, as it is very powerful."
"Dabs, hell," he growled. "We used it by the handful." Crap. Crap, crap, crappity crap. Well, this was explaining a lot and it was their own fault for just assuming which was which. Crap.
"Oh my!" Marliota looked concerned. "Are you certain?"
"We thought it was soap," Jack said defensively.
"We slathered it on," admitted Daniel.
"We scrubbed everything with it. We washed our hair with it. "
"So much?" Marliota went from concerned to alarmed. "Never before has so much been used!"
"I'm going to need a sample of that." Janet pulled a small clear bottle from her case. Teal'c took it from her, filling it carefully from the jug. "Various drugs absorb more quickly when they come in contact with mucous membranes. Do either of you recall getting this oil directly on your lips or other such tissue?"
Jack exchanged a glance with Daniel. They both blushed. Daniel stared at the floor leaving Jack to field the question. Clearing his throat nervously he asked, "Ummmm, can we just say that it was a highly interactive bathing experience and leave it at that?"
Janet seemed taken aback. "How interactive did you two get?"
Jack didn't want to answer that question. He really didn't. But Fraiser wouldn't ask if she didn't need to know. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to answer, though the words came out low and rushed. "We used it for lube when Daniel did me in the tub."
"Oh my God!" exclaimed Sam, as she clapped her hands over her ears. "I did not need to know that!" Ears covered, she began to pace in little circles.
Marliota looked puzzled as he tried to understand the colloquialisms.
"Oooo-kay, that's a definite yes on the mucosal contact, then." Janet tucked the now-full sample bottle back in her case. "Basically, sir, you and Daniel absorbed an extremely high amount of a potent mood altering substance particularly when used as a lubricant so that Daniel could penetrate you --" Janet ignored Sam who squawked, stuck her fingers in her ears and stared humming "--even before you ingested the wine for the ceremony. This caused an overdose which is what most likely triggered both your uncharacteristic behavior in public as well as the later unconciousness and memory loss."
"Do you think that has anything to do with, um, with, with - " Stammering, Daniel waved his hands fitfully, unable to finish his sentence.
"I can't see how it would, Daniel."
"Perhaps, Doctor Fraiser, if we were to examine the area where the ritual itself took place we might learn more?"
"Good idea, T-man." Jack pointed at Marliota. "Lead on, MacDuff."
"Actually, Jack, the quote is lay on not lead on," clarified Daniel.
"Thank you, Doctor Pedantic." Rolling his hand toward the native, Jack restated his request. "Lay on, MacDuff."
Marliota turned to look behind himself to see who this MacDuff was that Jack kept pointing at. "But, there is no one here but me." His brows knit together.
"I'm not sure if you're really there," sniped Jack. "Just - take us to the main room."
"Certainly!" Happy at being able to assist, Marliota had a bounce in his step as he showed them down the corridor into a large open room.
Marble benches carved with icons sacred to the people filled three-quarters of the rectangular space. The same icons marched up the vaulted ceiling. The bench cushions were in the same shades of blue and green as the the acolyte's robes. The central aisle was tiled in green as was the floor around the edges of the room. Directly under the benches the tile was blue. At the front of the room was an alter set up with a raised dais in several sections, fancy artwork on the walls, and more than one podium all in different heights and styles.
"This seems familiar as well." Daniel moved slowly up the main aisle, his head turning from side to side as he drank in every detail. "Their religion is pantheistic. This temple is dedicated to several gods, each with his or her own altar."
"Sort of an all you can worship buffet." The minute he said it, Jack got a sense of deja vu. Maybe Daniel wouldn't remember him saying that before.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "That hasn't gotten any funnier in the last two months."
Jack and Teal'c each took an outer edge of the room, while everyone else followed Daniel. As they arrived at the altars, Daniel looked to Marliota for permission before stepping onto one of the smaller sections of the dais. Each section was a different shape, size and height and had its own pulpit. According to Marliota, each was consecrated to a different god or goddess.
Jack scanned the area."I think...I think we were there." He indicated a hexagonal section about a foot high and roughly 7 feet in diameter. The attendant podium was a pedestal with a v-shaped top.
Daniel circled around it. "Yes. This is it. I don't remember clearly, but I do remember the design on the pedestal."
Sam stepped forward. "This doesn't have a smooth top the way a regular lectern would. It looks like a control panel."
"That is the one which you seek," Marliota confirmed. "Daniel went to the alter of Dhumravati pressing many of the jewels. On the recording he is heard to say 'Look, Jack. I am playing the organ' where upon Jack replies 'I've got an organ you can play with' to which Daniel replies 'you know what is better than roses on your piano, don't you' - "
"Okay!" interrupted Jack. "You can stop helping now."
"Dhumravati?" repeated Daniel.
Marliota glanced at Jack before answering. "Yes. That is her alter. She is one of the oldest of the gods.She has not graced us with her presence for many hundreds of generations."
Daniel chewed his bottom lip in thought. "In Earth mythology, Dhumravati is an evil goddess in Hindu."
"She was also," added Teal'c, "a servant of Nirrti. It was Dhumravati's initial experimentation into genetic manipulation upon which Nirrti built."
"You gotta be kidding me." This was worse than Jack thought it would be. "Basically, we got totally hammered and did the wild thing right on top of one of those DNA Mixmaster machines?" Cursing, Jack stomped to the benches and back. "I can't believe I didn't see that!"
"You? How about me! I'm the archeologist and I missed it completely!"
"I've seen one before - you haven't." Jack stomped over to the control panel. "We got up close and personal with Nirrti's machine the year you were glowing. I should have known this was something unusual from the markings or something. I should have identified this as an artifact, dammit."
"To be fair, the outward design is completely different than the one that Nirrti had," said Sam.
"And the two of you were high as kites," Janet reminded him.
Irked, Jack snatched his cap off of his head and began slapping it against his leg. "It's not like me to miss an artifact. I usually spot them right off the bat."
"Get real, Jack," countered Daniel . "When have you ever been interested in artifacts?"
“I’m interested in artifacts,” Jack insisted loftily. "I'm fascinated by the archeological record."
“Oh, please!” scoffed Daniel. “You think Homo Erectus is a gay man with a hard on.”
“I was joking when I said that and you know it. I was trying to get you to pay attention to my…artifact, that’s all.”
"I pay plenty of attention to you andyour artifact. Sometimes you're like a bitch in heat, always wagging your tail at me."
"Hey! Who're you calling a bitch?"
"I notice you don't have any problem with" Daniel's elegant fingers curled mockingly into air quotes, "the 'in heat' part of that."
"You're just jealous because you can't keep up with a hot guy like me."
"Hah! I keep it up just fine. That's why you're always begging for more. You love it when I nail your-"
"Daniel Jackson! O'Neill!" Teal'c's bass voice halted the squabbling.
"Down boys," drawled Janet. "You're scaring the straights." Her eyes sparkled with amusement.
Sam's eyes, however, were wide open, a rim of white showing all the way around. She had her fingers in her ears again. Marliota seemed to be in awe.
Abashed, Jack and Daniel apologized in unison.
Sam cautiously dropped her hands back to her sides while Marliota mumbled something about how it was just like the recording.
"Sorry," said Jack. "It's just nerves, ya know? Gotta blow off steam somehow."
Worriedly, Daniel asked, "Sam does it really bother you that much that we're together?"
"It's not that. It's just..." she fumbled for the right words. "You guys aren't just my friends - you're my coworkers. The Colonel is my CO. Either way, I don't want to know such intimate detail about you guys or anyone else." She squinched her face up. "It's TMI, you know?"
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief. Jack was exceedingly grateful that Sam wasn't upset that he and Daniel were a couple. Prudishness he could deal with. Besides, she had a point about maintaining boundaries.
"Sorry, Carter. We'll try to tone it down." Taking a deep breath, he gathered his Colonel persona around him. "Doctor Fraiser, Daniel - you go check out the platform. Teal'c, you take Milton here - "
"Marietta," corrected Janet.
"Marliota," recorrected Daniel
Jack ignored them both. "- and check out that recording technology. Carter and I will check out the control panel on this gizmo."
Everyone scattered to their appointed tasks. Jack glanced over the controls, taking in the basics. Sam, naturally, dived right in, opening up panels, checking out crystals, and generally making it clear that unlike him she knew what the hell she was doing, bless her tech-loving heart.
Soon, after making sure no one, particularly Daniel, was nearby, Jack asked quietly, “Do you see a button anywhere that says ‘push this for ass-babies’?”
Sam got that aggravated tone he heard every time she had to explain to him something that she thought was obvioius. “Sir, It’s not that simple. You and Daniel are actually very lucky that this is the only thing that’s happened.”
“Tell that to Daniel,” he grunted. His fingers veered dangerously close to the control panel before Carter's narrowed gaze warned him off. "I don't suppose there's a 'reverse' button on here, either."
"Sorry, sir." She sighed. "I think the best we can hope for is that the recording got a clear picture of exactly what setting this was on when you, um, you and Daniel, ah..." Bright red, she cleared her throat nervously.
"Gave the performance of our lives?" he suggested dryly.
Sam nodded mutely.
Daniel and Janet finished their inspection of the platform and rejoined them.
Reluctantly, Jack broke the news to his partner. "Sam says she needs to see the recording so she can study the settings on the machine."
Daniel sighed in resignation. "I was afraid of that."
"I'll only look at the control panel," promised Sam.
Pinkening cheeks and a quick nod of the head were his only reply.
"You know," Janet said thoughtfully, "There may be some visual clues as to how this was accomplished. The more I know about the process the better able I"ll be to treat you. I probably should see the recording, too." There was a speculative gleam in her eye as she looked Daniel over.
From the corner of his mouth, Jack whispered to Daniel, "Does that look like clinical detachment to you?"
"More like avid curiosity," Daniel whispered back.
"That's what I thought."
The two men eyed her warily.
Janet rolled her eyes. "I can assure you that my interest is purely professional."
"It will not be necessary for either Major Carter or Doctor Fraiser to view the recording." Teal'c strode up to the group, Marliota a step behind him. "I had surmised that at some point it would be necessary to view the video of the ceremony. Since I was there already, it seemed logical to play the recording."
"You saw the whole thing?" Jack frowned. "You've been gone less than half an hour." He peered at Teal'c in suspicion. That better not be a crack at his stamina.
"In the interest of time, the video was played at the very highest rate of speed." Teal'c smirked. Behind him, Marliota giggled. "It was most amusing."
"Hey!" Jack was affonted. "We got applause, you know. I've got technique. Marla there already said so."
Red-faced, Daniel interrupted. "Can we get back to the point here? Teal'c, I take it there was nothing in the recording that might shed any light?"
Dropping the smirk, Teal'c seemed sincerely regretful as he said, "I am sorry, Daniel Jackson, there is not. The control panel does not appear at all and there is nothing visible emanating from either it or the platform upon which you engaged in sexual relations."
There was silence as they all processed the implications of that statement.
"Okay. So this trip was a bust." Jack was first to speak, his voice quiet and somber. "We gate back home and see what we can do with our technology."
"Colonel, I'm afraid any action we took would be a long shot at best." Janet made a helpless gesture. "The pseudo-womb is tied into major nerves, veins and arteries. It would be extremely risky to try to remove it."
"But you don't know exactly what it's going to do either." Jack knew she was doing all she could, but he couldn't help letting some of his fear for Daniel slip out, sharpening his words.
Janet let it slide, her face full of sympathy. "No, we don't. We can, however, monitor every step of the gestation."
"Monitor," he repeated absently. He wondered if he looked as grim as Teal'c. Sam looked upset as she gently rubbed Daniel's shoulder. Daniel stayed silent, staring off into the distance. "So. Bottom line is we're in this for the long haul?"
"I'm afraid so, Colonel."
"Then we'll figure out what we need to do from here." Jack reached out to take Daniel's hand.
Visibly shaken, Daniel's eyes were turning red and tearing up. "I don't...I don't know how to feel." He sounded lost.
Jack hooked his free arm around Daniel's neck, drawing him closer. He pressed his lips to his lover's temple as Daniel laid his head on his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Well then," Jack whispered in his ear, "we'll figure that out together, too." For a few brief moments they clung to each other before Daniel pulled away.
Breathing deeply, Jack composed himself then announced, "Okay, campers. Time to go home."
|Genres:||Established Relationship, Humor|
|Summary:||SG-1 plus Janet gate back to P98-J4D to figure out just how Daniel got into his "delicate condition". M-preg.|
Thanks to my betas: Mare, Barb, and AnnO