"Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the base--"
"Siler, if you don't get out of my face...!"
Sergeant Siler looked up from his notebook and quickly stepped to the side. "Sorry, sir. Just rehearsing for the base-wide poetry--"
"Ah!" Jack O'Neill swept his hand in a cutting gesture. "The less I hear about that, the better." He continued his rampage down the corridor. An Air Force base - the most top-secret facility on the planet was holding a Christmas poetry contest, the nominees to be read by General Hammond at the base Christmas party. Meanwhile, SG-1 was on stand-by while they waited for word from the Tok'ra regarding Ba'al's movements. System Lords, apparently, had never heard of Christmas. They weren't taking a damn day off for poetry reading.
He swept his card through the scanner again and sighed as the doors finally opened. He stepped forward and nearly collided with Daniel Jackson. They shuffled until they had switched places and Jack said, "Watch where you're going, huh?"
Daniel looked up from his readings. "Huh? Oh. Right, sorry, Jack... any word from the, ah...?"
"No," Jack said. He stabbed the elevator button with two fingers and said, "Real nice way to spend Christmas Eve."
"Yeah, well... tis the season."
"Bah humbug," Jack said as the doors slid shut.
Daniel raised his eyebrows and turned to walk the other way. He had found an interesting article in an obscure journal connecting Santa Claus - or Sinterklaas - to Odin's hunting party in the sky. He used an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir, which could have been the basis of the eight reindeer. It was all extremely fascinating. He felt he was very, very close to connecting a visit from the Asgard to...
"Daniel!" Sam said. He stopped and looked up as she hurried toward him, cell phone pressed to her ear. "Hold on." To Daniel, she said, "I need your cell phone. No, I'm still here, I just... Daniel! My phone is about to run out and I am close to victory!"
Daniel frowned and pulled out his cell phone.
Sam said, "Thank you. Okay." Into the phone, she said, "I will call you right back, okay? Do not give those skates to anyone else." Daniel kept walking and she waved to his retreating back. "I'll get this back to you as soon as I can." She used her cell phone's call list to redial the store's number on Daniel's phone. She stuffed her phone into the breast pocket of her jumpsuit as she waited for the idiot clerk to answer. "Come on. Come on. Co-- yes! Hello, yes, this is Major Samantha Carter," she said. She had gotten nowhere for four hours, but once she started adding the rank to her name, she had started making progress. "You told me you were holding three pairs of the Molly Jumper Inline Skates with the light-up... uh, light-up..."
"Rims," the clerk said.
"Right!" Sam said. "Okay, I'm willing to pay you... eighty dollars over the retail price - not the store's price, retail - if you hold them for me."
"Ma'am, we're not supposed to--"
"A hundred," Sam said. "A hundred dollars over the retail price."
The clerk sighed.
"I would have gotten my Christmas shopping done earlier, but I've been posted overseas." There. That oughta make the shyster clerk feel bad enough to pull some strings for her. So what if she hadn't been overseas? She had saved the world six or seven times so this bastard could swindle her out of a hundred bucks for a pair of crappy skates.
"All right. What was the name?"
"It will be a Doc... uh, Major Janet Fraiser picking them up. Do you offer gift wrapping?" For a hundred bucks, she thought, you damn well better.
"Yes, ma'am, for a surcharge. Which... I think we can waive in this case. Military family and all."
Sam smiled. He was just worried about another tirade. Fine by her. "Excellent. It's for Cassandra." She spelled it and said, "Major Fraiser will be there to pick it up before closing. Thank you so much."
Sam hung up on him and found Janet's number on Daniel's speed-dial. She swept her card through the scanner of the elevator. "Fraiser residence." Janet sounded weary and frustrated.
"Janet!" Sam said. "Get to the mall, Wellesley's Toys. Get there before nine and take... at least two hundred dollars. I will pay you back. They are holding a set of those Murphy... uh, Molly Jumper..."
"The skates?" Janet said. Her voice was filled with life again. "You found the skates?"
Sam grinned. "Not cheap. But yeah."
"Sam, you are a star. Wellesley's Toys? And... whoa, wait, two hundred dollars? God, Sam..."
"Hey, it'll be worth to see Cassandra's face tomorrow." If I get to be there, she thought, and prayed to the patron saint of schedules and Tok'ra covert agents. Please let us be there...
The doors opened and revealed Teal'c. She smiled and brushed past him as he stepped out. "Hi, Teal'c. Want to say hi to Janet?"
"That will not be necessary," Teal'c said. He bowed and offered a weak smile until the doors closed.
He turned, hands clasped behind his back and walked down the corridor. He had spent the past few days watching the base personnel preparing for the upcoming Christmas party. He had always felt like an outsider, but the feeling was never than during these holiday preparations. Christmas, New Years... he was an outsider. He had kissed Samantha Carter at the last New Year celebration, but he still did not understand the ceremony. Daniel Jackson had also kissed her that Christmas underneath a small twig with ribbons and berries.
As a race, they certainly held kissing in high regard.
He felt adrift during these celebrations. The rest of his team, and the rest of the base, seemed to hurry frantically around him like butterflies, unaware of his presence. It was times like these he wondered how the base would truly be different if he were not there. He was contemplating a visit to the Land of the Light to see R'yac and Drey'auc. Perhaps...
Daniel Jackson stepped out of a lab and looked up as he almost ran into Teal'c. "Oh. Hi, Teal'c. Oh, hey. Teal'c." He put his hand on Teal'c's elbow and turned him around so they were walking the same direction. "What do you know of Odin and Sleipnir?"
"Sleipnir was believed to be a vessel in the Asgard fleet. Odin would use the ship to visit worlds under his protection. When the people of the worlds were expecting him, they would leave fuel and provisions. In return, he would reward them with gifts of technological advances."
"Yes!" Daniel said. He slapped the book with the back of his hand. "Thank you, Teal'c. Listen, have you seen Sam?"
"I believe she was on her way to her lab."
"Okay. Thank you, Teal'c!" He hurried off and fumbled in his pocket for his access card. He swept it through the scanner and waited impatiently for the door to open. He began to pace and stepped forward without looking as the doors slid apart. He collided with Sam and dropped his book. "Oh! Sorry..."
"It's okay," Sam said. She dropped to a crouch and began to help him gather his spilled notes. Daniel glanced up and saw Jack was also in the elevator, leaning against the far wall. "Colonel O'Neill and I were just headed to the cafeteria. They're serving the last of the pecan pie. Do you want to join us?"
"Come on, Danny boy," Jack said. "The books will still be there after we finish the pie."
Daniel hesitated and then closed the book on a sheet of notebook paper to mark his place. "Sure. Why not? It's been a while since I had a good piece of pecan pie."
"Well," Jack said. "It is still the cafeteria. Good may be pushing it."
He fell into step beside them and Sam nodded at the book. "What are you reading about?"
"Later..." Jack warned.
"Right," Daniel said. "But, Sam... I do have some things to run by you about Odin and the, uh, St. Nick mythos."
Sam said, "Oh, I heard you were looking into that. Did you find anything out for sure?"
"Well, nothing for certain," Daniel said. "But yes, Samantha, there is a Santa Claus."
Sam grinned, and her smile widened when she saw Teal'c approaching them from the far end of the corridor. "Hey, the gang's all here," Jack said. "The cafeteria. Pie of the... pe-can variety. They're holding four slices. I'm no math whiz, but..." He pointed at Teal'c, at himself and then at Daniel and Sam.
He looked as if he was about to refuse when Sam said, "Come on, Teal'c. It won't be the same without you."
He bowed and said, "It would be my pleasure."
Sam grinned and looped her arm around Teal'c's elbow. "Great!"
Jack said, "Careful, Teal'c. If there's eggnog and mistletoe, we might not be able to control her."
Daniel looked at Jack and said, "What got into you all of a sudden? Were you visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past?"
Jack shook his head. "Better. The Tok'ra contacted us about ten minutes ago. Ba'al is not making his move for at least a week. We get to go home for Christmas morning."
"Ah, a Christmas miracle." He looked at Sam. "And what's got you so chipper?"
Sam laughed. "I just paid two hundred dollars for a pair of roller skates."
Daniel blinked. "That would make... anyone happy. I suppose."
"They're for Cassandra," Jack supplied.
"Ah, right," Daniel said. "Well, I hope she likes them."
Sam turned and glared at him. "'Likes them'? It doesn't matter if she likes them. She's not taking them off until January first."
They walked into the commissary and the white-hatted man behind the sneeze guard motioned for them to come over. "Besides," Jack added. "We're getting the last four slices of a very, very succulent pie. How could I be grumpy with pie on the way?"
The cook served up the pie and they took it to a table in the corner. Jack cut around another table, picked up the pitcher of milk off a table and carried it over. He poured each of them a glass and said, "Merry Christmas, SG-1."
Sam lifted her glass and tapped it against Teal'c's. Daniel and Jack clinked their glasses against hers and then Teal'c's. Teal'c smiled at his teammates and sipped his milk. This is what had been missing all evening, why he had felt inexplicably depressed. He had been alone, the rest of his team had been doing their own thing... they needed to be together. It was probably why they had all ended up in the same stretch of corridor in a very massive facility. He realized Major Carter was speaking to him and turned to face her.
"You're coming, right?" she asked again. "To Janet's house for Christmas morning." She leaned in and whispered, "I know for a fact there are presents under her tree for you."
"I would not miss it," he assured her.
"Excellent," Jack said. "The gang will all be there."
"God bless us everyone," Sam said.
"Hear, hear," Daniel said.
They picked up their forks and began to eat their pie.