Um...Untitled by cheerful minion

Title: "Um � Untitled"
Status: Finished
Author: ocean gazer: quietoceangazer@yahoo.com
Date: 30 Dec. 2001
Category: challenge (Heliopolis #1248), action/adventure, humor (or so I hope <g>).
Rating: Oh, I�d think it�s PG13, for minor violence and bits o� bad language.
Pairing: none � just friendship.
Season: Hmm � season three, fairly soon after The Devil You Know.
Spoilers: Well, it does give away all the episode titles through season five. In terms of actual episode content � pretty miniscule spoilers for Singularity, In the Line of Duty, Tok�ra I and II, Fair Game, Jolinar�s Memories, The Devil You Know.
Archive: Pink Rabbit, Singularity, Heliopolis � anyone else, you can always ask *g*.
Disclaimer: Don�t own any of �em, which is a good thing since I have no room for any more people in my house (let alone a flippin� Stargate). They still are the property of those who have owned them all along � the lovely and tolerant folks of MGM, Showtime, Double Secret, Gekko, so on and so forth. I promise to play nicely with them and will put them away when I�m done. No one has offered me money or honorary scholarships or a Caribbean cruise or any other sort of payment for this demented work of fiction � aforementioned owners are welcome to run off with anything in this story that strikes their fancy. (Please?)
Notes: The actual challenge reads as follows: "This is a silly challenge, but I think it would be fun to write a fic that includes all of the episode titles from the show in the dialogue. � Extra points if you manage to give it a plot and make some sense." Don�t know if I�ve succeeded on either count � this challenge is harder than it sounds <g>. This is also my first effort at writing in third person omniscient, rather than a single POV, so I don�t know how well it works � I�ve rewritten it enough that I can�t tell if it sucks or not. A multitude of thanks to Barb for her patiently given encyclopedic assistance, and thanks to my sorceress for hinting that she wanted a new story to read. Feedback welcome, hope you enjoy.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

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Prologue �

"Now remember, campers, this is supposed to be a vacation. That means we're not going to sit around and talk about the SGC or about past missions or anything like that. This is a time for us to relax and unwind � and fish." Colonel Jack O'Neill couldn't contain his delight at the very idea--his face was set in a satisfied smirk as he offered that bit of guidance to the four people standing in his living room.

His companions--Teal'c, CMO Janet Fraiser, Doctor Daniel Jackson, and Major Samantha Carter--did not look nearly as pleased at the thought. Teal'c's face was set in its usual mask of placid implacability--the one that made it impossible to tell whether he was content, discontent, annoyed, or bored as hell. Fraiser simply looked highly uncomfortable at the notion of the group vacation thing, since she rarely spent her off hours with any of the members of SG1, except for Sam. But the expressions worn by both Jackson and Carter suggested a sense of profound horror at O'Neill's statement, as if his proclamation was one of the worst fates they could imagine. That was saying a lot, given the types of situations that the team routinely found itself in.

Jack looked around and noticed the distinct lack of enthusiasm in the room but ignored it since he, himself, was happy as a clam. His gaze strayed instead to the suitcases and duffel bags littering his floor in preparation for the group's excursion up to a lake nestled in the mountains. He just knew that once he got them away from the SGC, they'd all enjoy themselves and get into the spirit of relaxing and not want to come racing back to work � at least that's the way it always worked for him. "I picked up the keys to General Hammond's cabin and to his fishing boat this morning, so except for getting a few groceries and picking up some movies, we're all set."

Daniel groaned--loudly--never one to be comfortable with letting his friend be in charge of the planning, especially when said planning involved him. "Jack, I do happen to agree with you that we all NEED a vacation. But � well � we don't all find the same things enjoyable. I happen to like talking about the work I'm doing and I don't think it's fair of you to insist we can't talk about anything connected to the SGC. I'm involved in some really exciting research that I'd love to share."

Jack rolled his eyes, but managed not to offer any of the highly inappropriate negative responses running through his mind at the prospect of having to listen to hours upon hours of really boring theorizing. Instead, his tone dripped with the faintly martyred tones of long-suffering patience. "Daniel, I know you're all excited after presenting your Broken Divide essay thingie at that conference last weekend �"

"It's THE BROCA DIVIDE," interrupted the archeologist impatiently. "And it isn't an essay, it's a journal article."

"Whatever." Jack paused for a moment, his voice becoming earnest. "The point is that we spend all our time talking and thinking about work. It's not healthy to be so obsessed with just that one part of our lives. And while I know you and Carter find it loads of fun to sit around and compete to see who can use the most big words in one sentence, it's not exactly relaxing."

Janet, whose eyes were swinging from person to person as if she was tracking a ball at a tennis match, had to muffle a faint laugh at the hurt look that walked briefly across Carter's face before jumping over to settle permanently on Daniel's. This time it was Sam who voiced the protest, though she managed to keep her voice habitually polite. "Sir, just because you like going to the woods and fishing doesn't mean that the rest of us enjoy that as well. I don't see why it's a problem if we talk about the things we enjoy while you're enjoying the outdoors." Left unsaid was the thought that if it came down to a vote about whether discussing meaningful research or engaging in pointless recreation was the more attractive option, it would likely be three against two.

The colonel actually managed to look offended by the very notion, though his reaction was an act � well, mostly an act. Janet, despite her distinct lack of enthusiasm for the trip, felt the cheer-for-the-underdog urge to speak in O'Neill's defense. "Look, this whole vacation is actually General Hammond's idea. He knows how hard we've all been working and how stressful things have been recently, and he's concerned about the toll it takes on our health and sanity." She paused briefly, her tone growing thoughtful. "And since I can't remember the last time any of us actually took downtime for anything other than medical reasons, I think it he's right that taking a break from things would be good for all of us." None of them were stressed or overworked enough to be in any actual danger--she would have grounded anyone who was--but at the SGC it was easy to forget about the little thing called "having a life."

Teal'c nodded towards the woman. "You are indeed correct, Doctor Fraiser. It would be to our benefit to significantly lower our levels of stress � relaxation is an admirable objective and one within our reach." Janet acknowledged his agreeable words with a nod of her own, while part of her mind wondered whether the Jaffa had been watching infomercials again, since he almost sounded like one � albeit one that actually used words of more than two syllables � and didn't rely exclusively on exclamation points for punctuating sentences.

Sam, oblivious to the last part of the conversation, her brow knitted in the type of concentration she was noted for, spoke abruptly. "I can understand why he thinks taking some time off is good for us. But I don't understand why he wants us all to go on vacation together and go up to his cabin. That seems a little � well � odd."

O'Neill snorted. "I think he just wants us all to do a little team building, only he's using the PRETENSE of us all needing a vacation. Said something about recent suspicious behavior in the SGC and wanting his best people to be working together � yada yada yada. Yeah, it's kinda weird, but no weirder than when they haul those executive office types out into the woods and make them do that survival stuff in hopes of building a team." He added in a happier tone. "At least he's letting us do something fun, instead of walking on tightropes and stupid stuff like that."

Sam and Janet exchanged a dubious glance, which did not go unnoticed by Daniel. He offered in his best placating voice, "I really don't think it's all that odd. I was there when Jack and the general were making the arrangements � and right after he was talking about suspicious behavior�which could easily be what passes for normal at the SGC--he started talking about fishing � talking about suspecting there's a big fish close at hand that you just can't see � the thrill of putting out bait in hopes that the fish rises to it, even though you hate seeing the bait squirm � watching eagerly to see what you catch."

Jack threw in triumphantly, "See, I'm not nuts � Hammond likes fishing as well as I do."

Sam simply stared at both her teammates, not even bothering to hide her doubt behind her usual veneer of politeness. "Are you sure he was talking about fishing?" She knew as well as any of them that fishing was one of the general's favorite pastimes, but it wasn't something he was overly prone to wax poetic about. And he especially wouldn't be inclined to muse about not wanting to see bait squirm � he was more the "bait the hook already" type. Something just seemed off about the whole set-up.

They stared back, innocent question marks in their eyes. Jack was the first to speak. "Sure, I'm sure. What else would he be talking about?"

This time Janet added her own formidable stare to the mix, thinking the men were being a little on the dense side. She would have agreed with O'Neill's team building theory � if she hadn't been asked to accompany them; there was no reason for her to be involved in that unless it was with her medical staff. "It sounds almost like he's talking about cops and robbers � baiting a trap � the stuff of overly melodramatic mystery novels."

One of Teal'c's eyebrows raised slightly--a powerful show of reproof at the mere suggestion. "For what purpose would General Hammond involve us in such a scheme? I do not believe he would do such a thing without informing us as to his intentions."

Sam and Janet shared another doubtful glance, then shrugged in unison. O'Neill saw the gesture and shook his head decisively. "I swear, you two would grasp at any straw to get out of this vacation, wouldn't you. You both raise the bar for workaholics." He ignored their annoyed glances at the insinuation (accurate though it was) and continued, "Teal'c's right � why would Hammond do something like that? C'mon, let's get this show on the road. We're going up to the cabin, we're going to relax and enjoy the woods, and we're not going to talk about anything work related. Period � end of story � not up for debate."

Janet sighed heavily, her tone sounding anything but thrilled at his ultimatum. "Colonel, I don't think a total ban on talking about things related to our jobs is necessary for us to relax." She didn't actually expect her argument to make any difference to the man, but she didn't like being told what she could and could not say. If she'd wanted to hang out with dictatorial types, she'd have long since have moved to Cuba � at least the beaches and scenery were nice.

Before O'Neill could say a word, Teal'c spoke--with just the faintest trace of amusement in his voice. "Then you clearly have not spent sufficient time with Daniel Jackson and Major Carter."

Daniel opened his mouth--presumably to argue the point--and Jack spoke quickly. "I outrank all of you, so what I say goes � no talking about work, so there. Look at it this way, Danny-boy, we'll have a nice break from people shooting at us. Doc, you'll get some space away from Cassie, and she'll have fun spending time with Hammond's grandkids. And Carter, at least up in the mountains on planet earth, you won't be in a place that might trigger JOLINAR'S MEMORIES."

Janet looked up to see the haunted look on Sam's face at her CO's typically insensitive statement. Knowing better than anyone that the other woman still had occasional nightmares as a result of being a temporary Tok'ra host, the doctor reached out to place her hand lightly against her friend's shoulder in a gesture of support. O'Neill, realizing that once again his mouth had run off before his brain, blundered on hastily, attempting not to dig the hole any deeper, "I know that whole thing on Netu was hard on you, Carter, and I just think it would be good for you to be here for a while rather than wandering around the whole galaxy."

Sam nodded faintly, hearing the genuine concern behind the clumsy sentence. With a forced lightness to her tone to show him she accepted his apology-of-sorts, she offered, "Just don't expect me to go fishing; I hate fishing."

Daniel, conceding defeat in both getting out of the trip and in challenging Jack's conversational rule, sighed heavily. "I'll go fishing, but don't expect me to help with cleaning the fish or anything like that." He was an Egyptologist, thank you very much, not Grizzly Adams.

Jack rolled his eyes. "Gee, don't sound so excited there, kids." Shaking his head in mock exasperation at their clearly reluctant responses, he walked over and stood in between his astrophysicist and his archeologist, draping his arms over their shoulders. "Relax, it'll be fun. Trust me."

******

Story �

Janet walked carefully out onto the balcony of the cabin, a cup of coffee in each hand, and a beer tucked under one arm. She handed one cup to Daniel, used her free hand to grasp the bottle and offer it to Jack, and then leaned back against the wooden railing, lifting her cup of coffee to her lips. The air was chill with early evening and the warm beverage felt good against her throat.

"God, it's peaceful up here," Daniel said between sips, a dreamy tone to his voice.

Jack took a long swig of beer and smiled in satisfaction. "See, I knew you'd like it up here. Nice to just get away from everything for a while."

Janet looked off into the distance. The cabin sat on the top of a large hill, with other hills off to either side. The slope below the balcony was bare dirt, and there were other bare patches visible on the hills on either side, evidence of where long-past landslides had washed the trees away. Other than those spots, and the hints of a hiking trail winding its way down to the valley and the lake, the hills were covered in evergreens, a deciduous tree occasionally sticking out like a sore thumb. There was a faint glint of blue between the trees down below, the only visible evidence of the lake General Hammond swore had the best fishing in the world. On the other side of the valley, providing a beautiful view from the balcony, the hills gradually stretched up to become mountains. She knew they really weren't too far from civilization, there was a town that was only about five miles away, but it felt almost like they were totally alone.

"In the SOLITUDES of the wilderness," she murmured, to which the two men nodded in agreement. Well, she thought to herself, as much solitude as could be found surrounded by a plethora of birds and bees and assorted wildlife � not to mention her four companions. "It's almost too peaceful," she muttered to herself, forgetting that the self-talk technique is only successful when you don't actually make a sound.

Jack looked at her askance. "What do you mean it's too peaceful? That's the whole point of being up here in the first place."

Janet sighed, leaning against the railing of the balcony. "I just can't shake the feeling that this is too good to be true. I don't know, it just seems like the general is setting us up somehow. I still agree with Sam that it's really odd for him to want the five of us to go on vacation together."

O'Neill laughed ironically and waved an expansive hand in the general direction of the trees. "Ok, so let's say he is setting us up. What are we supposed to do � keep an eye on any butterfly that looks suspicious, in case it's planning to undermine the FRAGILE BALANCE of the forest ecosystem? Or maybe he wants us to keep an eye out in case the deer start playing POLITICS and plotting the cervine version of WATERGATE."

Put that way, Janet couldn't help but spit out a mouthful of coffee, since she was laughing too hard to swallow. Daniel seemed to entirely miss the humor, instead eyeing O'Neill as if he'd morphed into a different species of mammal in front of their eyes. "Where'd you pick up that word?"

Jack shrugged, trying not to indulge his amusement at the younger man's wide-eyed stare. "Spend enough time outside and reading about nature and you learn all sorts of useless information."

Fraiser was still chuckling. "Alright, sir, you've made your point." And, regardless of her odd feelings, he did have a point. With no one else around, the possibilities for mischief being afoot were extremely limited.

Daniel, draining his cup of coffee and seeming to want to change the topic, looked down at his watch. "Doesn't it seem like Sam and Teal'c have been gone an awfully long time?" They'd decided to head straight up to the cabin rather than picking up their supplies on the way in. Fraiser, Jackson, and O'Neill had taken charge of getting the cabin cleaned up while the other two had been dispatched to run errands.

Right on cue, they heard the front door open, signaling the return of their companions from the grocery store. Jack and Daniel bounded into the cabin, presumably to help with unloading the bags of food � or eating the contents of said bags of food. Janet trailed behind them, pausing in the doorway between the balcony and the kitchen, taking one more look at the gently undulating treetops in the distance.

Jack looked back to see her lagging behind. "What's up, Doc? You waiting for one of us to come and carry you across the THRESHOLD?"

Janet rolled her eyes at the Bugs Bunny reference (since she'd heard it roughly fifty thousand times since completing her residency and it had long since lost any faint semblance of humor). "Sorry, sir," she offered in answer to the second question, her tone devoid of the slightest touch of sincerity. "Hate to break it to you, but neither you nor Daniel are my type." She finished the thought in her head, 'Not even close.'

"Ah well." He waved a negligent hand, completely unoffended, and turned his attention back to the bags being carried in by Sam and Teal'c. Once everything had been brought inside, Jack and Daniel began pulling everything out of the paper bags, while Sam and Janet began trying to put things away, and Teal'c watched as if supervision of the process was an absolute necessity. Given the haphazard approach taken by the men, perhaps it was.

Sam took charge of several smaller brown bags, then handed one to Janet, knowing her friend's love for cinnamon raisin bagels. The smaller woman looked up with a pleased grin splitting her face, the first genuine smile she'd offered since being roped into the whole vacation-with-SG1 thing. The major's face crinkled into a smile as well � she hadn't exactly been excited about being dispatched to do the shopping, but she found solace in being able to buy some expensive things she knew the others would like and charging it all to O'Neill's credit card � with his permission, of course � well, his permission to use it for getting necessities. It all just depended on how you defined necessities.

As if the sight of the brown bags reminded him of an unpleasant duty he must perform, the Jaffa cleared his throat. "I am sorry, O'Neill," Teal'c said gravely. "I found the onion-flavored bagels as you requested, and I was also able to acquire creamed cheese for them. But I was unable to locate THE NOX you requested."

Jack rolled his eyes�he, like the rest of them, was used to the big man's interesting use of the English language, but there were still times when he was caught off guard. "That's lox, Teal'c � bagels and lox."

Without missing a beat, the big man added smoothly, "I did not locate them either."

O'Neill's tone was flat but challenging. "Uh-huh. How would you have found them when you were looking for something else?"

Sam chuckled, and spoke quickly before Teal'c could cock his head to the side and give a far more in-depth answer than the subject actually deserved. (It was an ironic gesture, given that most of the time she also gave far more thought to things than they deserved.) "Sir, it wasn't exactly an upscale, trendy store. I checked as well, and they didn't have any."

The by play was interrupted by Daniel, who grabbed a box in each of his hands and waved his hands excitedly in the air.

"You look like a kid who wants to go first for SHOW AND TELL," Janet remarked mildly, raising her eyebrow at seeing the more � enthused side of Doctor Jackson. Usually she only saw him when he was at his whiny best in the infirmary after having gotten himself into yet another scrape.

"Doughnuts!" the archeologist exclaimed, as if it was the culinary equivalent of finding King Tutankhamen's tomb.

O'Neill turned to Carter, putting on his best lecture mode. "Doughnuts? You bought him doughnuts? Do you really think he needs that much sugar in his system?" A brief pause, then, "Do you really think we need him to have that much sugar in his system?" Daniel tended to be high-maintenance enough without chemical interference.

Fully expecting the colonel's rebuke (and unable to resist quoting his words back to him), she shot back neatly, "As you keep pointing out, sir, we're on vacation � taking a HOLIDAY � taking some time out for R&R. We're supposed to be having fun and enjoying ourselves, remember?"

He grumbled something as a response, but couldn't actually argue the point � especially knowing he'd left himself wide open for that one. Plus, Daniel did look so very happy clutching his treats. Jack turned his attention back to the unveiling of food, finding a big bag of designer coffee and shoving it in Daniel's direction as well, with the assumption that Sam had bought it for their very own caffeine fiend.

After a short while, everything had been neatly stowed and Janet reached for the plastic bag with the name of the town's one movie rental store emblazoned on the front. She reached in, asking, "So what did you find to rent?"

Sam flushed slightly, a frown creasing her features, her words coming out in a rush before trailing off uncertainly. "Well, there wasn't a lot to choose from on a Friday night, and I kinda let Teal'c make the selections �"

Fraiser held up two of the three movies, a look of disbelief crossing her face since she'd long been glad they'd left the 80's behind. "Adventures in Babysitting? Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead?" She shook her head in mock horror and looked down at the last movie. "And since I haven't even heard of RED SKY, I'm going to assume it's one of those dreadful straight to video things."

Sam, her frown deepening, but in a studious way this time, picked up the box housing the video in question and responded earnestly, "The movie came out in 1969. I don't think they did straight to video in those days."

Janet rolled her eyes, though it was a good-natured gesture, patient as she was with Carter's serious streak. Her friend might be a real, live, card-carrying genius, but that didn't mean she always had a solid grasp on mundane things like teasing. "It was a joke, Sam. Really." The blond looked up, blushing softly when she saw the familiar flash of humor in the doctor's chocolate eyes.

Daniel, oblivious as usual to the byplay, spoke up in his patented mildly chastising voice. "Um � what's going on with the babysitting theme?"

Teal'c's voice was calm and unperturbed. "It appears to me that it would be a wise course of action to become better acquainted with techniques of caring for Cassandra before we once again watch over her while Doctor Fraiser is otherwise occupied." It seemed a perfectly logical explanation to him, as he knew Major Carter was the only one of SG1 who was experienced in caring for the child.

Sam blushed even redder�though not, this time, from being teased�but didn't say a word. Jack glared at her before turning his attention to Daniel and complaining, "I thought you'd explained movies and tv to him."

The younger man shrugged, not looking particularly perturbed at the accusing note in the other man's voice. "Well, Jack, there's only so much that I can explain about fiction to someone unfamiliar with the basic concept. It's like being shoved into some wildly complicated game like � like soccer without THE GAMEKEEPER around to explain the rules."

"It's not a gamekeeper, Daniel, it's a referee," O'Neill corrected automatically.

"Whatever." Daniel paused for a moment, weighing words. "The point is that I've made some progress but there's still plenty more to learn." A lot more to learn, he added to himself.

Teal'c spoke quietly and with no noticeable inflection, though the tiniest hint of a frown on his lips showed how irritated the conversation was making him. "I would prefer if you not speak about me as if I were not present."

A chorus of, "Sorry," came as a response.

******

Sam plopped down on one side of the double bed, then looked across to the other side of it, regarding Janet. Her voice sounded dubious. "Are you okay with this, Janet � the sharing a bed, I mean? I can always sleep on the floor."

The doctor smiled wryly. "For heaven's sake, Sam, it's not the first time we've slept in the same bed, and I'm sure it won't be the last. It's no big deal." More than once Sam had stayed late at her house and the two friends had shared a bed (Janet's couch being a bit too short for the taller woman), and other than the blonde's tendency to toss and turn, it hadn't ever been a problem. She couldn't quite figure out why Carter had even mentioned it.

Sam looked worried. "Really, it's not a problem � I mean, I've slept on the floor before. You just seemed really annoyed when the colonel said � when he made that � well � I just don't want to make you uncomfortable �"

Janet cut her off with a soft, derisive snort at the mention of the colonel, then turned an assessing gaze on her friend. Carter wasn't usually so self-conscious--at least not around her, given all the time they spent together--and the doctor wasn't sure whether she had done something to make her friend uncomfortable, whether it was having the guys in the next room that was causing the reaction, or whether it was because O'Neill had made one of his thoughtless little porn fantasy jokes. It was her turn to ask Sam, "Are you okay with this? I mean, the way you're acting, you'd think sleeping with me was like being �" She broke off for a moment, trying to find a suitably distasteful comparison, the Goa'uld suddenly coming to mind. "Like being WITHIN THE SERPENT'S GRASP or something."

Sam's eyes widened in surprise at the admittedly odd reference and then she apparently realized just how she'd sounded. "Sorry," she apologized, "I didn't mean it like that. Just making sure everything was ok, since you seemed pretty annoyed when the colonel said we were sharing a room � and a bed."

Janet rolled her eyes, but more out of habit than out of irritation, since she actually thought it was sweet of her friend to be so concerned about her comfort � or lack thereof. But she really should have known Sam would worry entirely too much about offending her. Guilt and worry were two traits Carter had in spades. Leveling her dark gaze on the blond woman, she said dryly, "I was pretty annoyed � at Colonel O'Neill. You have to admit, his insinuation that we could give the women on the Spice channel a run for the money was entirely out of line."

Sam actually winced at the reminder. "That was a bit out of line." Catching Janet's wry expression, she sighed and continued, "Ok, so it was completely out of line. Tact is not one of his strong suits." She sighed again, clearly uncomfortable with her CO's juvenile tendencies, and then perked up a bit. "I don't think he liked the way Daniel and Teal'c both told him to shut up."

Janet laughed evilly. "Or the way I told him I'd arrange for his next physical to have extra needles � really big needles � or worse."

That earned a bright smile from the blonde. "No, don't think he liked that at all." Entrenched in the habit of automatic respect for senior officers, she added in his defense, "He doesn't really mean most of those sorts of things � I mean, he's not someone who has the intention of being offensive � well, only around people he doesn't like �" She stuttered to a halt and flushed under Janet's highly skeptical stare, before managing, "He just has this bad habit of saying stupid things out loud."

The doctor rolled her eyes again, and in perfect mimicry of the man, muttered, "No kidding." Left unsaid was her conviction that he did usually mean what he said � just counted on the naivet� of half his team (namely Sam and Daniel) to assume he was only joking. But Janet didn't have the cruel streak necessary to point that out to her friend. Instead she forced a lighter tone into her voice as she asked, "So, which side do you want to sleep on?"

The conversation broke off for a little while as they finished unpacking their bags and set about making the little room a home away from home. Then the doctor turned to her friend. "All right Toto, we should probably go out and join the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the TIN MAN."

Sam just stared for a long moment, confused as to the significance of the statement � assuming of course that it had any significance. "Wait a minute � why am I Toto? And who's who?"

Janet (in her best, albeit it admittedly bad, southern accent) drawled, "That's for me to know and you to find out." Then, seeing the pondering look in the deep blue eyes, she amended (in her regular voice), "Actually, given the way you routinely save the universe, you'd be a better Glenda the Good Witch than Toto. But as for the guys, you have to figure that one out." She chuckled and then added, "C'mon, Glenda, let's see what surreal adventure is waiting for us on THE OTHER SIDE of the door."

She turned on her heel and led the way into the living room, a still pondering Samantha Carter trailing close behind, giving the joke far more attention than it actually deserved.

They entered the living room of the cabin, to find Jack and Daniel sprawled across the two recliners facing the television set. Teal'c couldn't do something as ungraceful as sprawl if his life depended on it, but he too seemed incredibly relaxed, sitting upright on one end of the couch. Sam took a moment to glance around the living room while Janet plopped onto the couch. It wasn't exactly a room, per se, but rather an open space between the kitchen and the bedrooms. Still, with a fireplace and bookshelves lining one wall, the television and chairs and couch, and the dark paneled wood walls that made the space seem far cozier than it was, it felt comfortable and homey just like a living room.

"You ever gonna sit down, Carter, or are you just gonna stand there?" Jack had a look of exaggerated impatience on his face as he watched his teammate take in the scenery. "Teal'c is anxious to get on with it."

She didn't even bother to respond, just grabbed a couple of throw pillows and settled herself on the floor, leaning against the couch next to Janet. Daniel, who for some odd reason had the remote control rather than Jack, hit the fast forward button to move them through previews and the stern warnings against duplicating movies.

And then they were thrust into the world of Adventures in Babysitting.

As the movie wound on (and on and on), Sam found her attention wandering all around the room. For some reason, she just couldn't keep her mind on the action onscreen � though to be fair, it might have had something to do with the fact that Janet kept whispering disparaging comments to her about what was going on.

Teal'c seemed to be completely engrossed in the movie, as if he was taking notes of what he should not do anytime either Cassandra had a wild urge to run away and take refuge in a bus station or he and his companions were caught on a subway with some gang members. Daniel was � well, Daniel was watching intently, fascinated as only he could be by a new culture � and admittedly American teenagers were a culture unto themselves. And the colonel seemed completely entertained by the action--which Sam attributed in part to the fact that there were five empty beer bottles on the floor next to his chair, and a nearly empty one in his hand.

She felt a tug on her shirtsleeve where her elbow was resting on the edge of the couch next to Janet's leg. Her head snapped up and the doctor leaned down and whispered in her ear, "My god � this is the most ludicrous thing I've ever seen � look, Sarah gets to meet her hero. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this lovely mechanic is really a Norse god � and look, he's holding the modern day version of THOR'S HAMMER."

Sam stifled yet another round of giggles by burying her head in the crook of her arm. Daniel muttered a distracted "Shhh," without once taking his eyes off the screen. Teal'c and Jack seemed oblivious to the whispered and ongoing movie critique.

Janet was merciless, her dry whisper full of amusement. "And I swear, if they make one of the cars in his shop into THOR'S CHARIOT �"

Sam didn't hear what the rest of the sentence was; she was too busy laughing. She felt the weight of Janet's head against her own as the doctor broke into hastily stifled giggles as well. She could only think they must have looked like a pair of Catholic schoolgirls � huddled and giggling at their own private joke. She shared the image with the brunette and since they had finally reached the point of amusement where everything is hilarious (puns � innuendo � celery � toothpaste), it set off a fresh round of stifled giggles. Daniel actually took his eyes off the screen for a full half second to glare at them for being so distracting. The other two men continued to be unaware of their presence.

Once the movie ended, Teal'c turned to his companions with a completely deadpan expression on his face. "I did not realize that watching after children for an evening could be quite such a perilous activity."

Sam and Janet, not surprisingly, burst into giggles, once again collapsing against each other. Jack said nothing, having fallen asleep. Daniel was left to answer. "Well � um � this really isn't at all what it's like. Do you remember what I've told you about truth and fiction so far?"

On that note, the two women jumped up hastily and declared their urgent need for sleep.

******

"Oh Lucy, I'm ho-ome." The colonel's voice rang through the cabin, shattering the mid-afternoon quiet.

Sam and Janet stared at each other, both startled by the sound, and then both hastily scrabbling to their feet as if they'd been prodded in the backside with something sharp. O'Neill's unexpected and enthusiastic entrances often had that effect on people. Their attempt to get to their feet proved easier said than done, as they'd been reclining against opposites ends of the couch, noses firmly in books and legs as hopelessly tangled as yarn after a kitten.

They hadn't actually tried to untangle themselves before rising, so the sudden movement in search of an upright position served only to tangle their legs further. With a resounding thud, the two women fell to the floor, and could only stare up helplessly as their companions entered the living room and stared down at them.

Daniel was the first to speak, making absolutely no attempt to help them up, his voice no little smug as he parroted back to the doctor the words he heard from her nearly every week, "You really should be more careful."

Janet shot him a magnificent glare as Teal'c offered her a hand up. Having her own words quoted back to her was bad enough without him acting so damn superior about it. Sam scrambled to her feet on her own, and her voice was breathless as she asked (desperately trying to swing the spotlight away from herself and Janet), "So, how was fishing?"

Jack's face lit up, any sarcastic comments he'd planned to offer about Sam and Janet dissolving like butter as he warmed to his topic. "Oh man � it was great. Hammond was right; this is the best fishing spot in the world. Blue water, hardly a soul around for miles, and fish just begging to be caught." He sighed in rich contentment. "And Hammond's boat is sweet � nice, smooth engine � I could stay up here for A HUNDRED DAYS and never get bored �" He trailed off for a moment, and amusement colored his tone when he continued. "But I'm definitely gonna have to hassle him about the name of his boat � I mean, who names a boat Freedom? I mean, really."

Daniel cleared his throat as if going into academic lecture mode. "Well, it makes sense to me � I mean, the freedom of the water and from the trappings of civilization � an EMANCIPATION from the demands of daily life. What's wrong with it?"

O'Neill rolled his eyes expansively, going into his own version of lecture mode--a style far less loquacious and more direct than ever heard in the confines of a classroom. "You name boats after women. After your mom or your sister or your girlfriend or your wife � even after your rich Aunt Ruby so that she'll have good feelings towards you when she writes out her will."

The archeologist asked the most basic question of all--the one that all small children instinctively know drives adults the most insane (which was a specialty of the young man). "Why?"

Jack, not really wanting to play guessing games as to which part of his sentence the question was directed, stuck to the last thing he'd said. "Well, you name it after Aunt Ruby so she'll leave you a little � LEGACY � an inheritance �"

He seemed ready to continue when Daniel interrupted him impatiently. "Hello � not stupid here � I know what legacy means. What I meant was, why do you name boats after women?"

"Oh." A really, really long pause. "Beats the hell out of me."

Sensing that the conversation had hit the proverbial brick wall, Sam deftly changed the subject, a wistful note in her voice. "I'll bet my dad would have loved to be here. He didn't usually have a lot of time to do it, but he always has enjoyed fishing. It was one of his favorite things from childhood � going fishing with his FAMILY."

The innocent statement served as an unwelcome reminder of their last mission to the lovely hell planet Netu, and cast a sudden gloom over the group. Sam noticed it and instantly kicked herself--mentally, not physically--for being the cause of the mood shift, since that was the last thing she had intended. (Especially when she recalled the colonel's "rules" regarding topics of conversation, and annoying her CO without cause was not on her "to do" list anytime soon.) She spoke quickly, a forced lightness to her tone. "Of course, I have this feeling that Selmac wouldn't be too keen on fishing. I can just imagine them arguing about it."

O'Neill--apparently not noticing the topical slip (or perhaps noticing the sudden flash of guilt in her eyes)--picked up the conversational ball and ran with it. "Plus, he wouldn't be able to just get out on the water and enjoy himself. With his schedule these days, I'd have to make an appointment now for the year 2001 � hell, I'd have to make one now if I wanted to take him fishing in 2010. Plus, he wouldn't be able to just relax since he's got those ubiquitous bodyguards these days � TOK'RA I and TOK'RA II � Tweedledee and Tweedledum � Tom and Jerry � whatever their names are."

As diversionary tactics go, it was spectacular, though no one actually seemed interested in the content of his sentence or, for that matter, got the joke. Instead, Sam, Daniel and Janet all looked at each other and asked simultaneously, "Did he just use the word ubiquitous, and use it correctly?"

Teal replied calmly. "I believe that he did indeed."

"Uh guys, can you not talk about me like I'm not here." Jack sounded vaguely annoyed, and waved his hand in the air to attract their attention. "Y'know, I do know some pretty good words; I'm not a complete moron."

There was no graceful way to get around that conversational landmine, so Daniel didn't even try. "Of course you aren't, Jack. It's just not a word I've ever heard you say." He paused just long enough to make the change in subject less abrupt, and then proclaimed, "I'm starved. What's for dinner?"

Janet chuckled, thinking he was joking around. "Well, since you've had such a good day fishing, I would imagine we're having fish for dinner."

None of the men responded to that, though they all exchanged sheepish glances, and Janet exchanged puzzled looks with Sam. The doctor tried again, not quite understanding their reaction, her words slow and cautious as though she was talking to more than one alien who spoke American English as a second language. "You did catch fish, right?"

Jack scratched his head and started, "Well �"

He got no further, as Teal'c injected decisively, "We were indeed quite successful in our endeavor, and did indeed catch numerous fish."

Jack shot a very exaggerated mock glare at his friend before continuing. "What I was going to say before TEAL'C INTERRUPTED me was that we caught a lot of fish � we just didn't keep any of them." He didn't look overly thrilled at the confession; even to someone like O'Neill, who liked the aesthetics of fishing more than he liked the practical outcome of it, not keeping any of a day's catch just went against the grain.

"Why not?" came a feminine chorus.

Daniel cleared his throat and looked embarrassed, his shoulders moving upward in what appeared to be a shrug, though it looked more like an imitation of a hunchback. "Well, I didn't want to actually kill the fish. Just couldn't stomach the thought of eating something I'd seen swimming around."

Sam and Janet exchanged amused glances. That sounded very much like the archeologist. He had no qualms about looking at mummies, people, and animals long since deceased, but take a few hundred years off the time of death and he tended to be a little green. With a small shrug, the blonde major said, "Well, Janet and I just figured that you'd want to cook up whatever fish you caught, so we spent the afternoon reading." She paused for a moment, looking amused at the way the men's faces fell at her words. In a slightly more pointed tone (chastising them for assuming the women would take charge of the cooking), she continued, "And since we never bothered to figure out who would be responsible for the cooking on our vacation, we'll all just have to pitch in and make something for dinner."

Daniel looked confused by the reminder since he didn't quite realize he'd been making any assumptions, Teal'c seemed unperturbed by it since he had not been making any, but O'Neill had the good graces to look embarrassed. Sam exchanged a wry smile with the doctor at their reactions, and led the way into the kitchen. She began rummaging through the cupboards, while Janet--right on her heels--investigated the contents of the refrigerator. Teal'c took charge of the cookware, getting out enough pots and pans to make food for several hundred people. O'Neill, in his typically helpful manner, started naming off types of food, while Daniel confiscated the two remaining doughnuts and took a bite of each one simultaneously. He managed to polish them off in the time it took Jack to run through his litany of "Mexican � Italian � German � etc."

An abrupt knock at the door interrupted the process of decision-making, and caused everyone but Teal'c to jump. "I wonder who that could be," Daniel mused aloud.

O'Neill promptly set off to answer the summoning knock, saying over his shoulder, "Maybe it's the pizza delivery guy." Not that there was a phone in the cabin to call for a pizza, but why spoil a perfectly good quip with reality?

He opened the door, but the words of greeting on his lips faded away at the sight that awaited him. A man stood in the doorway, a semi-automatic weapon aimed at Jack's head. And behind the strange man, there were many other strange men, all similarly armed and aiming for the colonel's head.

Jack opened his mouth to yell a warning, figuring it was about the only thing he could do to warn his team that didn't involve him becoming target practice. He couldn't very well help his companions if his body was riddled with lots of big holes. But the other man seemed to have anticipated him, moving quickly to stifle the intended yell with a handkerchief. He pulled the colonel out of the cabin and stood guard over him, sending several of his followers into the cabin.

In the kitchen, Daniel heard footsteps and didn't bother to turn as he asked, "So Jack, was it the pizza guy?" By way of response, he got a gun barrel in the back of his neck and was pulled off his stool. He didn't bother to struggle, seeing it as an exercise in both futility and certain death or maiming, but he had an excellent vantage point to see all hell break loose.

Sam, Janet, and Teal'c had just enough warning to put up a spirited fight against their would-be captors. Teal'c was calmly and methodically wrestling the guns out of the hands of any who dared approach him; Janet had a skillet that she wielded with precise skill; Sam was lobbing canned goods across the kitchen as casually and accurately as if she were tossing softballs. Idly, Daniel wondered why no one had fired even so much as a warning shot.

As if his thoughts had been spoken aloud, a shot was fired from somewhere behind him (presumably into the ceiling), freezing the fighters. And a very annoyed voice shouted, "Get them, you fools."

Daniel was yanked backwards by his captor and dragged toward and then out the door, but not before he got a glimpse of the armed and rather peeved intruders descending on Carter, Fraiser, and Teal'c like a proverbial swarm of locusts. Almost before he could take in the sight of Jack kneeling on the ground with his hands bound behind him, he felt his own wrists being tied and he was shoved over and positioned next to the colonel.

"You okay, Daniel?" came the expected question.

"Fine. They didn't hurt me. You?"

There was a vaguely confused tone in Jack's voice as he stared towards the cabin and said, "I'm fine � not a scratch."

Daniel followed the line of the older man's sight to see the rest of their companions being dragged out the door and looking considerably worse for wear. He knew exactly why O'Neill seemed so off-kilter--usually Carter and Teal'c remained mostly unscathed during missions while the other two seemed to run into the sharp end of every stick. And the doctor was nice and safe in her infirmary. Some might call this turn of events a perverse sort of justice (conveniently ignoring the fact that there were reasons why the two men seemed to attract injuries like light attracts moths), but at the moment, the dark humor of the situation was anything but amusing.

Sam looked up to see the puzzled look in the colonel's eyes, and she mustered up a brief, grim laugh as she deciphered it. The sound earned her another hard elbow to the head, and she bit her lip to keep quiet. Their captors were not pleased about being bested--albeit momentarily--by three unarmed people, and they'd taken that pique out on them.

As their hands were bound behind their backs, she spared a glance at the doctor, who was right next to her. The smaller woman had been hit pretty hard and Carter was worried about her friend, since the doctor was not exactly used to the whole "being knocked around while taken prisoner" thing as part of her daily routine. Janet seemed to feel the scrutiny, turning her head to look up and offer a wry smile. Sam smiled in return, feeling a sense of relief that the other woman was obviously not doing too badly if she was able to see the irony in the situation.

The strange, and yet oddly familiar, man who seemed to be in charge of things, left O'Neill's side and stood in the center of the semi-circle formed by the captives. "You are our PRISONERS," he informed them, in case they'd somehow missed the point.

"No kidding," muttered Jack in his best insubordinate tone. He braced himself, expecting the usual elbow to the ribs or gun butt across the face as a reward for his quick wit. In fact, though masochism was not a proclivity he'd ever been accused of, he was actually looking forward to taking the blow, if only because it would shift the rough attention away from his people and onto him. Instead, he heard a soft grunt as Carter got the gun butt across her temple, knocking her face first into the ground.

Both Jack and Daniel swore aloud in protest; Teal'c muttered ominously, "Enjoy your SMALL VICTORIES while you can;" and Janet shook herself free from the hands holding her to bend over her friend. One of their captors unceremoniously hauled Sam up by the hair (forcing the doctor to rear back suddenly to avoid knocking heads with Carter), and she spat the dirt out of her mouth, twisting angrily in the man's grasp.

"Now, where was I?" the strange man called out thoughtfully. He looked expectantly at the captives, who--not surprisingly--chose not to answer. He stroked his thin beard, as if he were a really bad actor trying to look intelligent and philosophical. "Oh yes. You are our prisoners. You are our ENEMIES."

He said a whole lot more than that, but it was all essentially redundant, as there are only so many ways to tell someone they are captives when the words used are three syllables or fewer. Finally, he paused for breath, and looked expectantly at his profoundly bored and irritated audience. The silence stretched until Daniel--irrepressible as always--broke in. He spoke cautiously and slowly, looking warily around to see if more of his companions would wind up suffering because he dared speak. "I think we have a pretty good grasp of the fact that we are your prisoners."

Seeing no adverse response on the part of the not terribly bright looking guards, and seeing the way the leader's face lit up as if Daniel was indeed very perceptive to have understood this important detail, the archeologist felt bold enough to continue. "I'm just really curious to know � well � who are you? You look really familiar to me. And why have you taken us as your prisoners?" For someone as curious as Daniel, there could have been a whole lot more questions posed, but he thought perhaps it was best to start with the basics.

The strange man smiled indulgently, and Daniel barely heard the colonel's sarcastic snort at the gesture. Instead, he looked around to see the rest of SG1 and the good doctor. Teal'c was watching the interaction quite intently; he offered the barest of nods to Daniel, which suddenly made the archeologist feel safer somehow � well as safe as he could feel with his hands tied and an alarmingly high number of guns trained on him. Janet was keeping one eye on the leader and one eye on Sam, her expression alert and attentive. And for her part, Carter--despite the blood trickling down into her right eye--was watching things with the same intensity as Teal'c.

"Ah, so you do recognize me," the man addressing them said in a sudden English accent that had all the captives, save Teal'c, coughing as they tried to keep from bursting into ill-timed laughter. No one else seemed to get the joke, and the English accent droned on, periodically slipping into Irish and Scottish.

"I am Lt. SETH Lazarus. I have worked at the SGC for several months. I am the leader of this group. We are THE FIFTH RACE, THE CHILDREN OF THE GODS. It is our destiny to colonize the earth, to take over this pitiful species known as humans, and rule this planet. We will DIVIDE AND CONQUER, we will leave behind nothing but SCORCHED EARTH, and then we will remake this planet and its people in our image. We will rule like the gods we were born to be! Our ASCENSION to THE LIGHT of godhood will be the greatest achievement this galaxy has ever seen. We will have ABSOLUTE POWER over every creature in this galaxy; we will destroy our enemies and we will rule the universe!"

The five captives shared a glance as the man finished with a triumphant flourish that fell far short of actually being impressive. "Megalomaniac," muttered Daniel; "But he's not an alien, he's definitely human," Janet said in confusion; "A most unusual NEMESIS," observed Teal'c; "Is it just me, or is this guy nuts?" was O'Neill's typically sardonic contribution. Carter alone remained silent (not really wanting anyone to have another reason to hit her), but her lack of commentary didn't seem to matter�her captor gave her another smack with the butt of his gun, knocking her into Janet, sending them sprawling helplessly together on the ground.

"Excuse me," Jack spoke up, a thread of anger winding around his words. "Why does he keep doing that? The usual format is that whoever mouths off is the one who gets hit." At least, that's how it would be in a just world. O'Neill knew better than anyone that his mouth tended to be off and running before his brain had a chance to shut him up � and he didn't like seeing anyone else suffer the consequences of his actions. It wasn't fair � and if O'Neill prided himself on anything, it was on his basic sense of fairness.

Lazarus smiled. It was not a pleasant sight. "Those are the RULES OF ENGAGEMENT followed by mere humans. We are gods. We make our own rules."

None of the armed men moved to help the two women out of their tangled pose, so they remained where they were. Janet squirmed around until she was lying on her back; it wasn't the most comfortable position in the known universe, but given her limited options, it seemed the best one. At least she could still see what was going on around her � couldn't do anything about it, but at least could know what was happening.

Sam shifted slightly until she was lying on her side with her head resting on the doctor's stomach. She tried to lie as still as possible, since the world was having an unfortunate tendency to spin whenever she moved. Probably didn't help that her head was bleeding again, and she noticed Janet's concerned eyes on her. She offered a thin smile in return, trying to reassure her friend that she'd be okay. The last thing anyone needed was to be worried about her, rather than worried about how the hell they were going to get away from these � people.

Daniel had taken over the question and answer session for the group. "Um � okay � so you're actually gods. That's really fascinating, but I'm just a little confused about why you're here and what this has to do with us."

The Lieutenant took a deep breath and resorted back to the shifting accents. "Our success in conquering this planet will only come if the people do not believe that aliens exist. You have traveled to other worlds and know that aliens exist, so you are therefore a danger to us. When you tell people what you know, it will make it more difficult for us to carry out our task."

O'Neill gave a quick headshake in pure disbelief and blew a brief whistle out the side of his mouth--speaking without thinking. "Ok, now I know it's not just me � this guy really is nuts."

The man who seemed to think Sam's head was part of a contact sport moved towards her at the words, and Daniel jumped in quickly to try and verbally deflect the blow, since Jack's usual sarcastic asides weren't proving to be their usual effective distractions. "But we don't tell anyone about what we do." Seeing that his ploy was working (as the man froze in mid-swing), the archeologist continued, genuinely interested in the topic. "The public doesn't even know there's a Stargate, they have no idea that we've traveled to other worlds, and we can't tell them that. We aren't able to correct the prevailing views on the Egyptian gods because that would reveal the existence of aliens; we can't tell our friends and families what we really do in our jobs; we can't even use alien technology to make UPGRADES to earth's weapons technology because we can't reveal that we have access to alien technology. We pose absolutely no threat to you � to your � um � people."

With an astuteness that no one would have given him credit for, given his previous ranting, Seth said quietly, "As long as the knowledge exists, it is a threat."

There was really nothing to say to that, so no one bothered. Even Daniel, who was well noted for his ability to talk practically non-stop, couldn't think of a single, suitable response.

After a really, really long moment of silence, Seth called out to his men. "There is but a BRIEF CANDLE of daylight left and we must be inside before night falls. We must take our prisoners to THE TOMB � quickly."

Jack--who was trying hard for Sam's sake to keep his mouth shut, but failing miserably because of his inherently irreverent nature--could not resist quipping, "Sounds like a lovely place, but there's really no need to hurry on our account."

He winced the hardest of all of them at the predictable response to his words.

Continue to Part 2

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