Rating: PG

So, Salieri issued this challenge. I bounced badly off the idea of getting all ten of mine in one story, but ten snippets, that I could do.

For the record, suggestions for katie_m:

1. cattier (the inflected form of "catty")
2. Katmai (Alaskan volcano)
3. catty (slyly spiteful)
4. catties (units of weight from southeast Asia)
5. -ectomy (surgical removal)
6. ktema (ktema es aei: a possession for ever)
7. kitten (a young cat)
8. kittle (to tickle; to perplex; mainly Scottish)
9. cacti (a succulent plant with scales or spines instead of leaves, found especially in dry areas (as deserts)
10. cadit (cadit quaestio: the question drops, the argument collapses)

Daniel and Teal'c: Katmai

There are a lot of topics they try to avoid in casual conversation. Unfortunately, the topics they try to avoid are the very ones that are on the tip of Daniel's tongue. Hey, how many planets have you visited? So, Teal'c, tell us about the goa'uld. Teal'c, you've actually seen the symbiotes taking hosts, then? How does it work?

There's an appropriate time and place for the two of them to talk about that sort of thing. (Jack wouldn't agree, but then Jack knows perfectly well that he has no room to maneuver when critiquing Daniel's coping mechanisms.) Still, Daniel has just enough sense to know that the appropriate time and place is during formal, structured interaction, not while hacking their way through alien thornbushes. It's the first time Jack's sent them off as a pair, and Daniel wants to live up to that, doesn't want to make Teal'c uncomfortable through either his questions or his silence.

Well, no, that's a lie. He does want to. He won't, though, because it's very, very important that SG-1 be made to work as a team. So by the time they abandon the brush for the less-taxing forest proper, Daniel's got a topic of conversation all picked out.

"Hey, so, have you thought about what you want to do once they start letting you go off-base?"

"I do not expect that will happen for some time," Teal'c replies, not looking at him. And okay, that's irritating. He's making an effort, here; would it kill Teal'c to throw him a bone?

"No, I get that, but--I mean, you must've thought about it. There's got to be something you really want to see."

Teal'c stops and obviously considers the question, tilting his head slightly to one side. "I would like to visit Mount Katmai," he says, and strides off again.

Daniel ducks under a branch, frowning. He hadn't expected an answer from quite that far out in left field, and now that he's got it, he's not entirely sure what to do with it. "Uh... I'm sorry, I'm afraid I have no idea where that is. I haven't lived in Colorado for very long so I don't know all the mountains, I'm not really one for hiking just for the fun of it, so..." He trails off. Teal'c says nothing. Daniel carefully doesn't sigh and tries again, aiming for an inquiring tone of voice. "Where is Mount Katmai?"

"I believe it is located in a place called Alaska. Doctor Warner and his family visited the area recently during their vacations, and he was kind enough to share the resulting photographs with me. It is a remarkable landscape, and an excellent location for viewing brown bears."

"But you must have seen... I mean, you've been all over the galaxy. I guess I find it hard to believe that Earth has anything that's going to surprise you."

"I have not previously had the opportunity to travel for pleasure. In addition, your world is considerably more populated with species of large wild animal than most of those I have seen. I understand that the vast majority of off-world species catalogued so far are obvious derivatives of species found on Earth; presumably the goa'uld did not see a good reason to transplant animals that had no use." As far as Daniel can tell from his tone of voice, this is a matter of no particular interest to Teal'c one way or the other, which absolutely blows Daniel's mind. Though to be fair, it's not like Teal'c has a concept of evolution that he's got to revise, and when you think about it how different is "God put the animals here" from "A snake pretending to be a god put the animals here" anyway?

Daniel contemplates medieval concepts of biology for a moment, then snorts, amused at where his train of thought has led him. "So I can't put "here be dragons" on any of the maps, huh?"

"I regret that I am unaware of what a 'dragon' might be," Teal'c says politely.

Ah. Right. "It's just a phrase. Dragons are mythical animals--like lizards, but they've got wings, so they can fly, and in some versions of the story they can breathe fire. Once upon a time, mapmakers used to put the phrase "here be dragons" on parts of the map they hadn't filled in, because anything could've been there. Even dragons."

"Telishrak," Teal'c offers. "They do not breathe fire, and the wings are not functional, but they otherwise seem quite similar."

Daniel blinks. "You're kidding. Really? How big are they? Are they common?" He has the absurd urge to look over his shoulder and see if he's being followed by an enormous, winged lizard. Presumably a very, very quiet one.

"Perhaps twice the size of one of your horses. I have seen them only once - I do not believe them to exist on more worlds than the one where I saw them."

Daniel smiles to himself, rather more pleased with the image of a group of Jaffa scrambling away from a twelve-foot lizard than he wants to admit. "Didn't go back there, huh?"

"I did not. It was Apophis' Queen who enjoyed the telishrak hunt, and I was removed to another duty soon afterwards. Apophis himself prefers other pleasures."

Daniel misses a step; Teal'c does not, maneuvering both himself and his staff weapon through the trees with the ease of long practice. Daniel knows Teal'c isn't talking about Sha're. He may not even be talking about Amaunet; Daniel hasn't yet been able to bring himself to delve into the fine points of Apophis' romantic history. But for a moment, all Daniel can see is Teal'c on the ground with Daniel's fist in his face.

They walk in silence after that. Teal'c is occupied with whatever it is that goes on behind that stoneface of his, and Daniel is wondering about the role of revenge in Jaffa culture, which he's gathered is a prominent one. He wants badly to bring it up as a topic of discussion, for all the wrong reasons.

He doesn't, of course. One more for the list.

Jack and Sam: Catty

Sam had honestly never considered it before.

I mean, it makes perfect sense now that she thinks about it. She knew that eventually, the Stargate program would go public, and all the stories she couldn't tell would come out. That possibility she'd considered, though she'd never managed to get herself to a place where she was comfortable with the idea, and she didn't fool herself that SG-1 would be able to remain anonymous afterwards.

Sam has long since decided what their storylines would be. Colonel O'Neill the leader of the first mission to another inhabited world, the modest hero. Daniel the fringe academic who turned out to be a genius years ahead of his time, the man who opened the Stargate. Teal'c the alien among Americans, who rose up against tyranny, and who would likely be the subject of several mind-twisting comparisons to Harriet Tubman.

And Sam... well, she thought she was likely the least interesting of them, but she expected the stories would go four for four. They might mention Jolinar, because of the Tok'ra; certainly they would discuss her technical contributions. Daniel opened the door, but she put it on hinges, and she's neither afraid to be proud of her work nor ashamed to accept praise for it.

So it was obvious: Hero, Scholar, Alien, Engineer. Reductive, but what else could you expect?

She can't believe she'd never considered that they might be treated like... celebrities. Once she starts thinking that way, though, she can't stop. Teal'c's Tau'ri-perceived eccentricities, all the wars he'd waged in Apophis' name--God, she thinks, the tangled history between him and Daniel, the storymakers would be fascinated. Poor Sha're's corpse put on display, along with the elder Jacksons' and Abydos' and Charlie's, film crews taping a little boy's grave that she herself has never seen--would they haul out Sara, she wonders? Make her retell the story of her son's death?

And Sam...

There are plenty of places they could go. Jolinar, still, always. Major Samantha Carter, Black Widow, woman with a string of alien love interests left dead in her wake. Her Tok'ra father.

Unfortunately, her second interview with Bergman had made it clear there was another possibility. There had always been rumors, after all. No surprise there; a single woman working with three men, all attractive, ha ha ha it's like you've got your own harem Major! And yes, suspicion had focused on the Colonel--who was both unmarried and inarguably human--from the start.

Sam can imagine how it'd be phrased. Several individuals who had worked at the SGC during this period reported similar rumors of a romantic relationship between SG-1's Colonel and his second-in-command. Or, if the venue were a little less upscale or the interviewee a little more catty, "We all knew there was something going on. I mean, have you seen her? It's obvious how she convinced O'Neill to let her go into the field..."

No one who knew, really knew, would say a word. The official report on the za'tarc incident included only a bland, vaguely-worded story of operator error on the part of the Tok'ra. And now that she's promised herself that she won't wait any longer, there's no reason anyone else ever has to know. So she knows how she'll handle it, if it turns out to be an issue: Deny, deny, deny.

She thinks that maybe, just maybe, she'd better get some practice in.

Daniel and Jack: Catties

"So," Jack said, making himself comfortable in the second chair that Daniel kept trying to sneak out of his office. "Malaya?"

"Possibly. Which would be interesting, given that most of the people we meet offworld appear to have been transplanted from Europe and the Near East. Now admittedly--" Daniel held up one finger to forestall a protest Jack hadn't been planning to issue--"there's Yu, but his planets seem to be mostly populated by peoples removed from China proper."

Jack gave this five seconds' serious thought, then asked, "What's your point?"

"The people of P2H-382 measure the tribute they send through the Stargate in catties. Now, since the catty is actually a Malay unit of measurement that was imported into China during the colonial period here on Earth, the question is whether it's just old cultural cross-contamination or actually an indicator as to a whole new part of the world that was goa'uld-influenced." Daniel's hands ended up hovering in the air in front of him, as if making an offering, and his face was all seriousness, waiting for Jack to pass the ball of conversation back to him.

That time Jack gave him two seconds before saying, "Now you're just screwing with me."

Daniel dropped his hands to his desk and looked down at them, avoiding Jack's eyes. "It's a fascinating historical question..."

"Yeah, uh-huh, very interesting." Jack pursed his lips, spun a little in the chair. "New goa'uld?"

"I have seven pages of a carefully thought-out argument prepared, you know," Daniel said in a voice balancing somewhere between irritation and laughter. "I have footnotes."

"See, there was your first mistake. I'm right, aren't I? You wouldn't be bringing it up unless there was a point. New country, new gods, new goa'uld."

Daniel looked up at Jack and tilted his head a little to the side, admitting defeat with a quirk of his eyebrows. "You know, I got paid a lot of money to write those footnotes."

"Budgeteers have whims beyond our ken," Jack said solemnly. "Hey, listen, you can tell me--do you ever make rude comments in those things? Because I'll bet you twenty bucks no one reads them."

Sam and Teal'c: Kitten

Apophis' Jaffa were allowed to keep cats, with the strict understanding that they were not to be pampered, as Apophis was not one to permit behavior that could possibly be interpreted as a honoring another God--or, in the case of cats, Goddess. So when Teal'c returned home from campaign to find a grey-and-white mouser ensconced in his house, he gave it very little thought. Home management, after all, was Drey'auc's concern.

The kittens came four months later. They were not Teal'c's concern either, but Rya'c was fascinated with them, spending hours at a time huddled under the back steps where Mother Cat had made her nest. The boy's favorite of the kittens was the biggest of the litter, a cocky tabby female who hunted crickets and leaves with a concentration and dedication far exceeding her youthful talents. She was still far from adulthood when Teal'c was called away to serve Apophis during his progess to choose new hosts, and when he first met Captain Samantha Carter, it was the tabby kitten that he thought of.

They were both big-eyed and confident and fierce in a way that made Teal'c want to lean down and scritch behind their ears, though he did not, of course, initiate any such contact with Captain Carter. It was months before Teal'c stopped feeling the constant urge to seize her by the scruff of the neck and pull her out of danger; more than two years before he realized that he had become almost as willing to trust himself to her direction as to O'Neill's. That was both surprising and distressing, a blockage in the river that was Teal'c's soul, and it took some time for the flow of his self-understanding to find another path to take. After all she is very nearly male, he thought, and then discarded the thought as untruthful. A warrior, yes, with a warrior's strength and temperament, but to say that she must then necessarily be male was dishonest. Teal'c had spent enough years living with dishonesty, and he was no longer inclined to lie to himself.

So, not male, but a warrior worthy of leadership all the same. Teal'c sat with that idea every night for a month, until his mind had shaped itself around this new truth, and he was pleased to discover that eventually it ceased to trouble him. He felt strongly that it was important to see the world as it was, and this, he thought, was another indication of his growth in that area.

One fine Sunday later that year he and Major Carter went to the zoo--his idea, though she responded to it enthusiastically. His fellow warrior made a point of explaining that it was the lionesses they were watching who were the actual hunters, no matter what the stories might say, and Teal'c couldn't help but smile.

He never did tell her why.

Jack and Teal'c: Kittle

"Okay," Jack said in a rather more elevated voice than was strictly necessary. "That's it. I've hit my limit. I'm calling a stop to it, and I'm calling it right the hell now."

"Calling a stop to what, O'Neill?" Teal'c's expression was as bland as Jack had ever seen it. Christ, losing it in the middle of the cafeteria didn't even rate an eyebrow anymore?

"It. This. This thing, which I used to blame on Daniel but now I think is entirely your fault. First of all don't you even pretend you don't understand what I'm talking about when I compare someone to a Macy's parade balloon because you know damn well that I am not trying to say that what's his face, Drambuie, no, Dramboosti, you know damn well I am not implying that Dramboosti was inflatable or that he could float. Second, for God's sake, can't someone on my team not have a thousand-dollar vocabulary? I mean, cut me a little slack!"

Teal'c absorbed this rant much like he must once have absorbed similar--if potentially bloodier--rants by Apophis, then turned his attention back to his half-peeled orange. "I do not expect you to understand Jaffa references in everyday conversation."

Jack leaned forward, grinding the heels of his hands into his eyes. "Agh. Okay. Fine. Whatever. That's fair. But my other point still holds. Shouldn't you be talking like a regular American by now?"

"I admire and share your country's commitment to general literacy," Teal'c said pleasantly, popping a section of orange into his mouth. "You do not?"

"I'm all for literacy. I'm just saying, is it really necessary to... to..."

"Kittle you?"

Jack just stared at him.

"To kittle: To perplex. Primarily used in Scotland."

Teal'c met Jack's gaze, unwavering, until Jack tipped back in his chair and pointed one finger across the table, almost smirking with triumph. "You're doing it on purpose, aren't you?"

There, at last, was the eyebrow. Well, that was something, at least. "I enjoy the process of enriching my vocabulary," Teal'c said. He consumed another section of orange, wiping the resulting stickiness off his fingers with a napkin. "I believe that is why Daniel Jackson purchased me a copy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a Christmas gift. It has been most enlightening."

"Tell me, T," Jack said after a short pause to absorb this conspiracy against him. "What was it like being a commanding officer who could shoot his people for being smartasses?"

"I would not recommend it in general," Teal'c said. "I will confess, however, that it had its advantages."

Daniel and Sam: Cadit

In Daniel's experience, Samantha Carter is a straightforward kind of person. Not an oversharer, never that, but once she's decided she has something to say she says it clearly and right away. So given that experience, he's not entirely sure how to take her slow dance through his lab. She's acting for all the world like she's strolling through a museum, and while Daniel doesn't have any trouble imagining Sam in the Met or the British Museum--he thinks she'd be one of those people who has to read every single label--he knows perfectly well that she's seen everything in his collection already.

Once she reaches the point of pretending interest in a diagram of the soil strata of P4H-327, Daniel decides he can't take it anymore. He hits save, a habit ingrained by a very unfortunate incident involving his dissertation and a large Mountain Dew, and spins around in his chair to face her. She starts a little at the sudden movement and looks back at him.

"Penny for your thoughts."

Daniel can see Sam weighing whether or not to deny the existence of thoughts of any kind, then discarding the idea. She leans back, elbows propped on the workbench and gaze fixed on the fingers she's laced in front of herself. "I'm thinking about... I don't know. Worlds. The best of all possible worlds."


"I'm pretty sure we're winning the Best Alternate Universe award so far," Daniel says, keeping his voice light. "I mean, on the grounds of having a non-conquered planet alone. Also, not to be overly self-centered, but I like to think we get a point or two for me not being dead." He pauses. "You know, permanently."

Sam smiles at that, though she still doesn't look up. "Once is an accident, twice is coincidence... better be careful, or people are going to start thinking it's enemy action."

"Well, as far as I can remember it was enemy action. Both times." He waits for her to go on; when she doesn't, he takes a deep breath and steps into the breach. "What's wrong, Sam?"

She shakes her head a little, then finally looks up. "I don't know, really. It was just... I mean, it was weird. Wasn't it weird for you the first time?"

"Well, keep in mind that the other Daniel's probably dead in both of the alternate universes we've seen, so I didn't have to deal with him. But yeah, of course it was weird." He considers, decides it's worth venturing a joke. "I mean, the long hair alone."

She laughs a little, and Daniel, pleased with himself, files this away as an example of good timing on his part. "I guess it just makes me think, you know? About the choices I've made. I mean, maybe me being in the Air Force and her not really did make a difference. So who knows what other choices I've already made that could lead to... I don't know, let's say the complete annihilation of Earth?"

Daniel winces. "Don't. Trust me on this one, you can drive yourself insane that way." Her expression changes, becomes sympathetic, and so he forges onward quickly before she can reach out. "What's done is done. What's going to happen is what we create. I mean, we can compare ourselves to that first bunch who got blown up, or to these people who we just handed over to the Asgard in pieces, and think hey, we've got it pretty good. Or we can think about everything that could be better--" He falters for a moment, feels a wash of irritation with himself, goes on. "You know. Everything we want, some version of us out there's got it. But there's no point in thinking about it. Cadit quaestio. The argument falls apart, because there's no argument to be made, we can't see the future to create any kind of a base that an argument about better or worse could stand on."

Sam thinks about this, nods to herself, then stands up straight and moves to Daniel's side. "Go home and go to bed, Daniel," she says, poking him in the shoulder with one elbow. "You're speaking Latin. That's never a good sign."

"You first," he says. "I mean, if you're okay..."

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Maybe more later." She shrugs. "Long hair sucks anyway. I had it down to my butt in high school. Used to sit on it all the time."

"You're much prettier than she was," Daniel replies. "Plus better with a gun. And chicks with guns are very attractive."

"I'm telling the Colonel you said that," Sam says airily, and she's gone. Daniel turns his attention back to his computer, but it's a while before any more progress is made.

After all, he's never been very good at following his own advice.

Jack, Sam, and Teal'c: -ectomy

Number One was Captain James Morrison--no, really. He was bright and well-educated and multilingual and doomed as soon as he made it clear that he really, really didn't find Doors jokes funny.

Number Two was Deborah Wise, a solid woman a few years Sam's senior who turned out to be just as argumentative as Daniel had ever been. Objectively, this could be a valuable trait, but none of them really felt up to it right then, not with a stranger. She still pointedly avoids greeting Jack in the hall when they pass.

Three and Four were big and burly and military and interchangeable. Also, stunningly dull. A month later, none of the three original members of SG-1 could remember which one was Mock and which one was Haas, or any details about them, other than the vague impression that Haas was the one with the really nasty homebrew and Mock was the one from Arkansas--or was that the other way around?

Five was Captain Harold Mathison, who was shorter and less burly and still military, albeit memorable. Harold made a comment to Teal'c about Sam's tits on the way out of their first briefing, and Teal'c promptly went to Jack and exercised his veto power. Sam's still not entirely sure what happened there, and neither of her teammates are planning to tell her.

For Number Six they overcorrected back to Maria Lopez, a lovely young Ph.D from Stanford who they're all sure must have been very bright, if only they'd understood a word she was saying. Maria is the woman who taught Jack not to make assumptions about laryngitis; he has no idea how she managed to get a doctorate without raising her voice above a whisper, but he's sure it took some doing.

Seven was Lieutenant Bonnie Albano. Actually, they all liked her; the four of them made it through two full missions before she went to Hammond and dashed his growing hopes with the announcement that she was expecting her first child.

Number Eight, Dr. Christopher Prescott, turned out to have a problem with Jaffa. Sam thinks he was probably the all-time winner for Deeply Inappropriate New Team Member. (Jack and Teal'c think it was Mathison, but then Jack and Teal'c can, on occasion, be overprotective.) She also thinks that Teal'c's cheerful campaign of intimidation was probably unprofessional, but frankly she doesn't care. Watching him finally give up and run screaming--not quite literally--was worth it.

Captain Jason Hagman is their ninth attempt to find a new fourth. He seems bright enough. He has the right academic skills and he can run a fast mile and he has a glowing evaluation in his personnel file from one Dr. Daniel Jackson. He's also a geek, but neither Sam nor Teal'c are bothered by a little healthy geekiness and Jack is long since resigned to it.

"It must be like an organ transplant," he says to Sam one day in the cafeteria, after they've spent the better part of thirty minutes tentatively circling around the ascended elephant in the room. "Or, no, better, that guy in France who got the hand transplant."

"So you're saying SG-1 had a Daniel-ectomy?" Sam says. She prefers to confront the topic full-on, if Hagman's willing, though she reminds herself to make sure to tell him not to bring it up in front of the Colonel.

"Yeah." Hagman gestures with a pretzel stick. He's a big one for snacks, which has led to a few comments about leaving bread crumb trails if they ever get lost in the woods. He's taken them with good grace, which Sam thinks is probably a good sign. "And I'm the new hand. Stick it on, hope that with time and practice it'll work well enough to be useful, and hope the body doesn't reject it."

"Well, everything's going fine so far," Sam says. She very carefully doesn't point out that the first successfully transplanted hand ended up amputated. Because hey, why borrow trouble?

Daniel, Jack, and Teal'c: Cacti

Jack doesn't really like deserts. They're hot, and too bright, and picking sand out of your ass just isn't as much fun after the first twenty times you do it. But given a good supply of water and some decent sunglasses, he can cope.

You know, so long as he knows where he is.

"You can stop giving me the evil eye any day now, Jack," Daniel says in a long-suffering tone. "They wouldn't've believed we were blood relatives of Sam's anyway. I mean, Teal'c alone."

"Haven't you ever heard of racially-blind casting?" Jack replies. At least it's not sand dunes; makes the walking easier. He kicks a pebble in Daniel's general direction, then coughs out some of the resulting cloud of dust. "Or, hey, here's an idea - lying?"

"At exactly what point should I have magically determined that we were going to get dragged three hours' ride out of town and dumped for traveling with an unrelated woman, Jack? I'm not psychic."

"Well, picking up on that crap sure as hell isn't my specialty. Whose could it be? Oh, hey, wait, as a first contact team we have a cultural specialist, don't we?"

"O'Neill!" Teal'c shouts from behind them. Jack's got just enough time to think oh shit before he realizes that Teal'c is standing a good hundred feet away, at the top of the rise he and Daniel have just descended, and that he doesn't look perturbed in the slightest.

"What?" Jack shouts back, shielding his eyes with one hand.

"You are traveling in the wrong direction." He doesn't add and I'm stuck in a desert with a couple of teenagers, but Jack can hear it all the same.

Embarassed silence for a moment, then Daniel heaves a sigh and starts back up the hill. "Sam'll be fine," he tosses back over his shoulder. "Her, they liked."

"Says the man who didn't get dropped headfirst off a horse into cacti," Jack mutters under his breath. Daniel pretends not to hear him.

Daniel, Jack, and Sam: Cattier

"The woman didn't even know who Starsky and Hutch were," the Colonel said, every line of his body betraying outrage. "I mean, come on! Turn on the TV every now and then!"

"Maybe she's more into the classics," Daniel offered.

The Colonel snorted. "Doubt it. Personally, I think she's just not very quick on the uptake."

"Well, would you want to be a bright woman married to Kinsey?" Sam asked, drawing idle patterns in the beer she'd spilled on the deck's wooden railing. Teal'c had begged off the evening, pleading kel-no-reem. Sam, still vibrating from the near-disaster with Bauer's bomb, had been tempted to go straight home herself. The Colonel had been in such an expansive mood, though, and Daniel had given her such a pleading look, that she'd promised she'd stop by for "a few minutes."

That had been four beers ago. She suspected she wasn't driving home tonight.

"Please don't make me think about Kinsey that way," the Colonel muttered, making a face. Daniel snickered through a mouthful of nachos, and Sam made a point of rolling her eyes just to see the resulting look of embarrassment on the Colonel's face.

"You can always assume they have a sexless marriage if it helps..."

"Carter!" the Colonel shouted. "Please! No more talking about Kinsey and sex in the same sentence! I'll make it an order if I have to."

"You know, we have no idea where he falls on the Kinsey scale," Daniel said cheerfully. "I had this professor once, off-the-scale conservative, big into traditional values, right? Wife and four kids. Last year he dumped her and moved in with some guy... grad student, I think it was English lit... doesn't matter." He reached over for the nachos again, carefully scraping the sour cream off his selected chip and onto the edge of the plate. "I hear he's much more pleasant to be around nowadays, actually."

"Volunteering to take one for the team, Daniel?" Colonel O'Neill asked. This resulted in a certain amount of back-pounding, until Daniel had managed to get the nacho back out of his windpipe. The Colonel made a face and poked at the masticated remnants of the chip with the toe of his boot while Daniel took a long drink, still sputtering a little.

"Wait, I thought we established he likes them dumb," Sam said once the drama was over. "Plus," she added, feeling reckless, "do you really think he's any good in bed? Speaking for myself, I don't like 'em quite that self-centered."

"Personally, I don't think anyone who can get it up needs that big of a house," the Colonel muttered into his beer.

"God," Daniel said with a self-deprecating grin, "could we be any cattier?"

Sam reached over and slung an arm around Daniel's shoulders. "Yeah, well, welcome to the SGC."

Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c: Ktema

"I hope-- no, my children, I believe--that this alliance will be not only a wise choice, not only a success, but also my ktema." Gylippus paused to let a murmur run through the hall. Jack looked over at Daniel as discreetly as possible; his eyebrows were up, so apparently that meant something to him, but the two of them were too far apart for Jack to get anything more than that. "So I ask you to be kind to these travelers. Show them that the hospitality of Prenarens is second to none, while I give their leader formal welcome."

Formal welcome? Hell. They've been there six days; now he has to get welcomed? Privately?

Carter was watching him; he shrugged and indicated with a swirl of his hand that yes, he's going to go talk with Gylippus, and yes they should all go mingle. He didn't bother to try to convey "stick together." He trusted Carter to be on top of that one.

As it turned out, once they moved off the dais and into the small room behind it--dressing room, maybe? Whatever--Gylippus shucked off his headdress and poured two cups of wine, formality slipping from his shoulders. "If you were from a neighboring city-state," he explained, "there would be a ritual to perform. As it is, I don't think it's appropriate. Drink a toast with me, sit around for long enough that anyone who thinks the ritual should have been done will be free to assume it's happened, and we can go back out and have dinner."

Jack took the glazed cup in two hands as he'd been drilled to do, toasted Gylippus with it, and took a sip. The mostly-full cup went back on the table after that. "No, you don't have to finish it all," Daniel had said after Gylippus had mentioned 'eighteen-course meal.' "It's only rude if you don't try it."

Actually, Jack was kind of tempted to drink the whole thing. The wine was surprisingly good, if served warmer than he liked it. Not a good idea, though. "So," he said to Gylippus, half of his attention on the still-friendly murmur of the crowd out in the main hall. "Ktema?"

"Ktema es aei." Gylippus sat himself on the room's one couch, then laid back, booted feet on the upholstery. Jack, who had been well-trained on the subject of feet and furniture by not one but two grandmothers, winced. "A possession for ever. Every man should have a ktema, a great work that they pass on to future generations."

"Ah." Jack fiddled with the cup a little, running his finger around the rim. "So you're saying I should feel flattered."

"I wouldn't say it before the citizenry if I didn't believe it. Which is not to say that I wouldn't appreciate your understanding that I am taking something of a risk on your behalf."

"Yeah, I got that." Jack frowned, looked back at the door again. "How long do we have to stay in here, anyway?"

Gylippus rolled his head over to the right, following Jack's gaze, the picture of ease. "Not much longer. Tell me, Colonel. I'm not so foolish that I think this little alliance will be your ktema. What is? This war of yours?"

"Maybe," Jack said, not really thinking about it. "Its end, maybe."

There were actually nineteen courses, as it turned out. Carter smiled politely through the usual sideways comments about how things are obviously different with the Tau'ri, with only one sotto voce comment to Jack that she thinks they're due for another planet with Amazons, thank you very much, and could he look into that? Teal'c deftly avoided the topic of Jaffa--while the Prenarensi didn't have any ongoing interaction with the goa'uld, they did have an unfortunately thorough written history. When the storytelling section of the evening came around, though, the rest of SG-1 gladly relinquished the floor to his highly-abbreviated version of the Iliad. "But we have this story as well!" Gylippus said afterwards, and long after midnight he and Daniel were still absorbed in the topic, bouncing between English and ancient Greek and Gylippus' Greek dialect with deceptive ease.

Jack spent most of the dinner poking at the whole idea of a ktema. Charlie, he thought, if he'd lived; he had no idea whether the Prenarensi would consider a child a masterwork, and he didn't give a damn. But Charlie was nearly a decade in his grave, and now there was no future that would receive him.

So. A creation; something for the future, a gift.

He'd admitted to Hammond once, several years into his tenure with the SGC, that he hadn't really expected that first version of SG-1 to work out. A scientist with no real field experience, an archeologist without even any real field training, and an alien who'd just left a position as an evil god's right-hand-man, and oh, has he mentioned the wife-kidnapping? They were each brilliant, he wanted all three of them, but damned if it hadn't been the trickiest piece of personnel management he'd ever embarked upon.

Gylippus might expect something bigger, but hell, all he ever had to deal with was a Senate. Besides, who cares what Gylippus thinks? Let's see someone else put this puzzle together, Jack thought, as he leaned over and kicked Daniel under the table. Not that literary analysis of the fall of Troy wasn't interesting, but when Jack caught himself getting maudlin? Time for bed.

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