It's raining men!
Hallelujah - it's raining men! Amen!
I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It's raining men!
In the background, over the murmur of the crowd of two hundred plus, Geri Halliwell is singing *that* song.
The significance is not lost on the audience at the Colorado Springs Air Force Bachelor Auction. Half of them are bobbing up and down in helpless rhythm, while the other half cheer or jeer the women bidding on lot number fifty-three.
"Oh for crying out loud, it's Simmons!" Jack hisses at his best friend as the bidding reaches three hundred dollars.
Daniel grins over his shoulder. "Sam says it's the eyes."
"*Carter* claims it's the eyes?"
"The guy's got soulful eyes, Jack," Ferretti says from in front of them. "Eyes that a woman can look into and drown in."
"Is that what Laura says?" Colonel Jack O'Neill grumbles at his old team-mate.
Ferretti rolls his eyes, "No, Jack. I'm just waiting for a chance to stare Simmons in the eyes for an hour or two! Of *course* it's Laura's description!"
There's a sharpness to Ferretti's voice that Jack recognises. He's heard it in his own voice in the last few days.
Daniel recognises it, too and a smile quirks his mouth. "Worried that your girl isn't going to bid for you, Ferretti?"
"No!" Ferretti replies, but the reply is just a little too fast and emphatic. He growls, "It's all very well for you two." He glares at Teal'c who stands on the other side of the fence surrounding the 'slave pens'. Huge and imposing and *not* a part of this bachelor auction due to security concerns, Teal'c is intrigued by this concept of selling people as 'slaves for a day'. "You don't have to worry that you'll get auctioned off to some woman other than the one you want!"
Jack doesn't have to *worry* about being sold off to a woman he doesn't want. He *knows* he's not going to be bought by the woman he likes. She'd never bid on him for starters.
"Instead we have to worry about being bought by a woman we'd rather not have owning us!" Daniel snaps sharply.
"Such as Airwoman Henessee?" The Major's face breaks into a broad grin at Daniel.
"I do not think you need to be concerned, DanielJackson," Teal'c states. "LieutenantVaillant feels it her duty not to desert you in a time of need."
"'Coffee chum', my foot!" Ferretti says with admiration. "You've been busy, haven't you, Jackson?"
Daniel blushes, "It's not like that."
"Now, if I had a dollar for every time I'd heard."
"Shut up, Jack." Daniel drops his voice, "And don't tell me that you're not nervous about whether or not Sam will."
A hand clamps over Daniel's mouth. "You talk too much, Danny-boy," Jack says conversationally. He meets Ferretti's half-smile, and Teal'c's knowing expression and growls *sotto voce*, "Might I remind you gossip queens of a little thing called 'the regs'?"
"And might we remind you of your own words, Colonel?" Ferretti's smile is slightly wicked: "'Screw the regs!'"
Jack doesn't answer, but lets go of Daniel and deliberately turns his attention to the stage where the bidding for Lieutenant Graham Simmons has just reached three hundred and fifty dollars.
Damn Captain Meridian for her suggestion of a 'bachelor auction' to raise money for the new Academy Hospital wing. Damn the bureaucrat in some office on the Academy Grounds who gave it the go-ahead. Damn Hammond for pulling rank on him and telling him he *had* to submit to being 'auctioned off' as the 'bachelor' 2IC of the Cheyenne Mountain Base. And double-damn Ferretti and Daniel for bringing up the issue.
Major Sam Carter won't be bidding for Colonel Jack O'Neill during the bachelor auction for a very good reason. It's just not allowed.
And that's the worst part of it, really.
Not that he's up on stage like a piece of property to be bought and sold at some woman's whim, but that the woman he 'belongs to' isn't allowed to claim him anyway. If she even wanted to.
*Now that's a cheerful thought, Jack.*
To take his mind off the depressing turn this thoughts have taken, Jack watches as the younger women of the SGC and Colorado Springs show exactly how much they appreciate Lieutenant Simmons' large dark eyes and clean-cut 'baby' face.
Geri's saucy bounce fades from the speakers; and, after a burst of synthesiser, the arch voice of Shania declares: "*Let's go, girls!*"
The bidding for Simmons finishes at a round four hundred and the Lieutenant's cardboard 'collar' is fixed around his neck while his owner takes the string and leads him away to the sound of much cheering and wolf-whistles. The sweet-faced Lieutenant has set the record sale price. The previous incumbent, one rather charming Ensign MacDonnell from the Academy, sold for three-hundred and seventy-five after a bidding war developed between one of the Corporals and a local girl.
"Lot fifty-four! One Captain James Connor of the Cheyenne Mountain Base, age thirty-one. The Captain is a man of action, enjoying most outdoor sports, surfing and water-skiing. He claims to have a diploma in massage and to be a handyman about the house.but we have no proof of that." The emcee - Dr. Turnbull from the Academy Hospital - grins over at Captain Connor who has just taken his place on the slave stand. The Captain grins right back, and then does a little 'about turn' on the stand that somehow wiggles his butt and sends the girls crazy.
"Now where did Connor learn *that*?" Ferretti demands.
"You obviously don't frequent the clubs in town much, Major," purrs Captain Meridian as she sashays by. "Captain Connor is a dance-club legend among the local girls. He won't go for less than two hundred-fifty."
"I don't see you bidding yet, Captain!" Jack drawls.
She looks him up and down in a way that would get her court-martialled in an instant if there were any big brass around. "I'm waiting to get value for my money, *sir*." One eyelid shuts in a lazy wink, and she saunters off.
Jack chooses to ignore Ferretti's elbow in the ribs. Pete was just being provocative - something she's good at. Whether it's having an opinion or wearing a dress, Peta Meridian is one of those people who pushes the envelope. She reminds Jack a little of himself. Too much so for comfort.
Connor is auctioned off for a mere three-hundred and eighty - the second most-expensive man so far this evening. He's collared and led away by his new 'mistress' for the next forty-eight hours. From the grin on his face, he's not unhappy with the girl who bought him - a lithe dark-haired girl with a twinkle in her eye and a bounce in her step.
"Wish I got me an owner like that," Ferretti grins.
"So Laura can save her money, then, Major?" inquires Doc Fraiser, joining their cluster. "She was saying before that if it wasn't for you, she'd have bid on Lieutenant Simmons."
While Ferretti splutters, opening and closing his mouth like a fish, Jack prods the CMO. "*You* haven't spent any money as yet, Doc."
"I can't afford a man," she says wryly. "I have a teenage daughter whose upkeep sucks away all my income."
Jack doesn't miss Daniel's brief flicker of disappointment. Looks like neither he nor Danny are going to get bought by the women they want. Daniel can protest all he likes about the relationship between him and the Doc, but he spends a lot of time in the infirmary - even when he's not injured.
"So you don't have a preference for who buys you, sir?" Doc Fraiser gives him an arch little smile.
"If I did, I'm not going to tell *you*, Doc."
"I could drop a hint in the lady's ear.or the gentleman's if you prefer?"
"*Gentleman?*" All three of them choke, and Teal'c lifts a silent eyebrow.
"It is the noughties, after all." A wicked gleam is seen in the Doc's eye as she leans over. "I heard that Sergeant Ivor was contemplating whether he could justify the exorbitant price of Dr. Daniel Jackson to his boyfriend."
Daniel goes a lovely shade of scarlet. "Janet, *please* be kidding!"
"It's okay, Daniel," Janet's smile clearly shows she's enjoying the chance to make Dr. Jackson squirm. "I doubt they'll make you do anything worse than wear a pair of *very* tight black leather pants and a dog-collar all weekend."
"Oh God!" Daniel groans. "Why me?"
Up on stage, young Lieutenant Edward Li goes for a mere seventy dollars, much to his disappointment. He's not the cheapest sale of the night - that honour goes to a Lieutenant-second-class whose little sister bought him at the starting price - twenty dollars.
"Looks like Lieutenant Sahavatanji is going to have her revenge," Ferretti remarks as the diminutive Lieutenant pulls a black leather muzzle from her shoulder-bag and persuades the emcee to help her put it on the now-thoroughly embarrassed Li. Then, she tips the tall Lieutenant's chin and tugs his leash. A flush tinges his olive cheeks as he follows his new mistress down the stairs and into the laughing crowd.
"The Lieutenant may find herself the new patron saint of SG-13," Daniel observes with a grin.
Janet giggles like a teenage girl as one of the Captains is bought by a consortium of five girls who manage two-hundred and fifty dollars. "He'll be having a busy week!"
Captain Jarrod Peyton is bought by his girlfriend Meri for three hundred after her best friend decides to push the price up by starting a friendly bidding war.
The pit in Jack's stomach grows. The order of the auction was a combination of rank, position and placement, beginning with the young Airmen and Ensigns from the Academy. The bidding then switched to the doctors, nurses, and orderlies at the hospital, and more or less worked its way up the 'Cheyenne Mountain Base' command chain. The up side has been that Jack got to laugh at all the other guys being sold. The down side is that he'll be the last man up on the auction block and they'll all get to laugh at him when he goes dirt cheap because all the girls have spent their money already.
"Hey Sam!" Daniel crows as their team-mate comes up beside them, "Vadim's up in two lots - better get your money ready!"
"You're gonna bid on *Vadim*?" He feels betrayed. Apart from the fact that Vadim's a marine and an asshole, this is his 2IC! He was counting on her to put at least one decent bid in and back up her CO. And the idea of her buying any of the other bachelors in the auction is not one he likes. Not that he gets any say in it, of course.
Carter just laughs, "I made a bargain with him. If he went in the auction and got his men in, I'd bid on him." She looks down, demure as any novice in a nunnery, then flicks a devastating glance at her CO as she looks up with spurious innocence. "I never said I'd bid seriously! All I have to do is meet the starting bid."
"MajorCarter, what will you do if nobody else bids on MajorVadim?"
"It won't happen, Teal'c. There's one lady in the town who's had her eye on the Major for a while, you see," Carter tells them, a glitter in her eye. "I happened to let it drop that there was going to be a bachelor auction featuring Major Vadim when I went in the other day." Blue eyes twinkle and her listeners laugh. She takes Janet's arm. "Don't go anywhere, Jan. I need you to provide the diversion to get me out of this!"
Ten minutes later, Major Vadim comes up for sale and the plan works like a charm.
Carter starts off the bid, the lady takes it up; but after one more bid, Janet snags her friend's attention and drags her off in the direction of the women's toilets. Vadim's smirk vanishes as he realises he's been deserted, and the woman from town buys him for fifty dollars.
Four lots after that, Major Devlin of SG-6 is sold for three hundred and twenty dollars.
As the Major saunters past Ferretti he grins, "Beat that, Ferretti!"
"Just watch, Devlin!"
A couple of SG-4 and SG-5 Lieutenants go for around a hundred fifty each, and then the marines of SG-3.
"Lot sixty-three: Major Louis Ferretti of the US Air Force! Presently working at the Cheyenne Mountain Base. Thirty-nine years of age, this gentleman has quite a collection of medals, badges, and commendations. He's an outdoors kind of guy, enjoying abseiling, rock-climbing, hiking, and astronomy. Described as 'rough around the edges, but really a big softie' by female colleagues."
"I'll bet Meridian wrote that one," Jack mutters.
The bidding for Ferretti stars low, and escalates within a half-dozen bids. Sam and Janet return from where they've been hiding from Major Vadim and lean against the railing next to their friends.
"Not going to boost Ferretti's ego, Major? Doctor?"
"I rather doubt it needs boosting after this," Janet comments wryly as the bidding hits one-hundred and eighty. A couple of the women from town have decided that 'rough around the edges, but really a big softie' sounds appealing, and Captain Meridian is bidding away for all she's worth. Ferretti's girlfriend Laura isn't an aggressive bidder, but she doesn't have to get involved, she just has to win the bid. Peta folds at three hundred and twenty, and the grin she gives Major Devlin is nothing short of audacious - she did it entirely to exasperate her CO. Devlin gives her a sour look in return.
Ferretti is sold to Laura Monziani at the price of three hundred and fifty dollars. "Not bad for used goods," he tells Jack cheerfully on the way past the 'pens'. His girlfriend, hearing it, turns around and yanks him down for a kiss. A *prolonged* kiss. When she lets him up for oxygen again, she tells him, "Buddy, I don't care how used these goods are - I get damned good mileage outta them!" Ferretti is led away with a poleaxed look on his face, probably home, but at the very least to the car.
"There goes one lucky guy," laughs one of the SF's behind Jack.
"Amen, brother," Jack mutters. He dares a glance at his 2IC and wishes he was allowed to be taken down for a kiss that hot. She's smiling at something else, and he follows her gaze to find Daniel looking at the petite doctor with a very obvious expression on his face. Janet turns back to them, Daniel looks self-consciously elsewhere, and Carter looks up at him smiling, before she glances up the back of the room. "I think General Hammond has deserted my Dad. I'd better go keep him company." She grins first at Daniel, then Jack. "Good luck with the auction, guys."
Jack watches her make her way through the crowd only to turn and find Daniel and Janet smirking at him. "Gonna share the joke?"
They look at each other. "Nah," Daniel dismisses, still grinning.
"Oh, I don't think so, Colonel."
"Lot sixty-five, Dr. Daniel Jackson!"
"I think they're playing your song, Danny-boy." Jack prods his friend, "Go get 'em, tiger!"
Daniel glares at him, "Just wait until it's your turn Jack!" He stalks off up the stairs to the stage.
"You seriously can't afford him, Doc?"
Janet gives him a very level gaze.
He holds up his hands, "Just asking."
The cheers become a whole heap of squeals as Daniel arrives on stage and takes his place on the stand. Girls edge closer to the stage, carefully positioning themselves to make visible bids. "Dr. Jackson holds a Doctorate in Archaeology, and can speak twenty-three languages. His colleagues describe him as 'sensitive and erudite', and 'a good listener and a better advisor'."
"I detect Carter's turn of phrase in the description," Jack murmurs to Janet.
"Really?" she replies with heavy irony.
".works on the Radio Telemetry project in the Cheyenne Mountain Base. He enjoys studying ancient cultures."
".is a keen linguist."
"I can't believe Sam put that in there!" Janet grins.
".and spends a lot of time in bed!"
There are shouts of laughter from the SGC personnel mingled amidst the town people. Some wit posted up a sign in the SGC infirmary on April Fools Day this year: 'The Dr. Daniel Jackson Medical Facility.' It was nearly a week before the General asked for it to be taken down.
"Shall we start the bidding at twenty?"
A bidding storm ensues, with the price rapidly rising through the tens, up into the hundred-and-tens. In the mid-hundreds, several bidders drop out, pouting, and a few others join the bidding - among them Lieutenant Vaillant - Daniel's 'coffee buddy'. At two-hundred, Sergeant Ivor joins the bidding, causing a stir among the crowd. Airwoman Henessee joins at two-sixty, and a few others drop out. Ivor and Henessee are the main players as the bid climbs to three hundred, and the crowds are beginning to get excited by the size of the bids.
At three hundred and eighty dollars, four bidders remain: Lieutenant Vaillant, Sergeant Ivor, Airwoman Henessee, and the girl from Borders bookstore who orders in Daniel's archaeology textbooks for him.
"Four hundred," the Borders girl calls.
"Do I hear four-twenty?" inquires the emcee.
"Four-twenty," confirms Lieutenant Vaillant, cheerfully.
"Four-fifty," states a new voice cool and clear over the babble of the hall.
Jack feels his heart plunge into his boots.
The crowd shuffles and heads crane to see who has entered the auction.
Next to his daughter, Jacob's jaw has dropped to his chest.
There are hoots at the entrance of a new bidder, but the emcee just grins. "We have a new player! I have four-fifty, do I hear."
"Four-seventy-five!" Airwoman Henessee declares.
"Five hundred," Sam returns promptly. It seems neither Sergeant Ivor nor Lieutenant Vaillant can manage any more money, but while the Sergeant seems disappointed, the Lieutenant has a broad grin on her face.
Jack glances up at the stage and finds his friend looking down at him. *What's going on, Jack?* He glares back. *You tell me, Danny-boy!*
"Five-twenty-five!" The Borders girl declares.
The crowd is going wild, cheering and jeering at the bidding war going on between the three women.
Most interesting is the way in which they're bidding. The Borders girl grins and bids, and Airwoman Henessee is treating it like a competition, while Carter just seems amused as the price rises.
Up the back, someone has begun a chant: "Go Major! Go Major! Go-Go-Go Major!"
Jack would quite happily kill the person who started that chant - if he only knew who it was.
"Seven hundred!" yells a young woman across the room.
Dr Turnbull arches an eyebrow, "Is that a serious bid, young lady?"
"Yes. I'm going halves with a friend."
Interest stirs at this new tactic, and there's a hum as people in the crowd start looking for others to group-bid with. Up on stage, Daniel makes a noise that could be construed as a groan, and Dr. Turnbull guffaws.
The bidding resumes, with prices climbing higher and higher. Carter continues to bid, unfazed.
Jack considers various forms of torture, ribbon devices, and wringing Daniel's neck as the bidding reaches nine hundred dollars.
Daniel has now raised over twice the money Lieutenant Simmons managed. "Next time we have a fundraiser, maybe we should just hire Dr. Jackson out every night of the month," observes the emcee, still grinning away. Daniel isn't impressed. His face has turned a lovely shade of purple and he's making various choking noises.
Henessee gives up reluctantly when the bidding hits one thousand, but the consortiums are still going.
Carter keeps raising the price.
Maybe there's more in those 'all-night study sessions' than those two will admit.
Jack's gnawing his liver for all he's worth as Daniel's price reaches fifteen hundred dollars.
Judging from the Doc's expression, he's got company. Janet's probably thinking honking huge needles the next time Carter goes through post-gate.
The last consortium stutters at seventeen hundred, and Carter holds the bid at one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars.
Dr. Turnbull glances around, "Do we have another bid?" No answer is forthcoming, so he bangs down the gavel. "Sold to Major Carter for the sum of one thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars!"
She comes out the front to the sound of thunderous applause and not a few wolf-whistles. Her cheeks flame scarlet at the comments yelled by some of the airmen as she comes out, but she goes up to the purser's desk and writes a cheque as Daniel is fitted with his collar.
"Quite a bidding storm," Captain Meridian comes up to them, smirking. A few other women come over as the bidding begins on one of the SFs.
"Quite," Jack says shortly. He's gonna have some *serious* words with Daniel first chance he gets.
Janet is doing a good job of keeping the hurt off her face as Sam brings Daniel over to where the girls are congregating. "Janet, will you hold his leash, please?" She addresses the other women, "I thought for a while there I'd be paying a full two grand for him!"
Peta's doing some kind of fussing in the purse on her shoulder, and the attention of the other women is on her, so Jack grabs Daniel, hauling him back to the 'fence' and growling, "Is there something you want to tell me, Daniel?"
"I swear, Jack, I had no idea."
"Carter buys you at a price over four times the next highest sale tonight, and you're telling me you had no idea?"
"Dammit, Jack," Daniel hisses, "I think of Sam like a sister!"
"Yeah, well she obviously doesn't think of you that way!" So much for being wired up to a za'tarc device and admitting to more feelings than you're supposed to have for your 2IC.
A tug on Daniel's leash brings their attention back to Carter, and the dozen or so SGC women who are crowding around them. "Okay, Daniel. If you're worried that I have some kind of fixation on you, you can relax. You were bought by a consortium. Us."
Daniel looks guardedly around at the grinning faces of the women - at least fifteen of them. "Okay, Sam, don't get me wrong, I appreciate what you did.but.uh.what exactly have you bought me *for*?"
She hands him a large envelope. "Instructions are in there."
Slowly, Daniel opens the envelope and pulls out a sheet of paper and another envelope. With a glare at Jack, who is surreptitiously trying to shift so he can see the note, he takes a deep breath and opens the piece of paper.
A few seconds later, he looks up at her, "Is this a joke?"
"No joke, Daniel." Carter glances at her watch. "You have ten seconds."
Daniel takes a deep breath, then grabs Janet and kisses her. It looks pretty intense from where Jack is standing. The women around them whoop and cheer and clap, and the people around them stare.
Jack looks from the couple - by now suffering from a lack of oxygen - to his grinning 2IC's face and beckons her over. "Do you want to explain this, Carter?"
Nimbly, she slips the paper from Daniel's fingers - Danny-boy is much too occupied to notice - and passes it to him.
*Congratulations, Dr Jackson! You've been purchased by various ladies as a birthday present for a certain lovely lady.
You have fifteen seconds from the end of this note to begin inducing some very serious dizziness in Dr. Janet Fraiser. If she does not complain of symptoms of oxygen deprivation afterwards, then we'll have to hand you over to Airwoman Henessee. Or Sergeant Ivor.
ps. The General has authorised Dr. Loman to take over your files as your doctor, although we reserve the right on Janet's behalf to scold you for endangering yourself (yet again) on any missions that you may henceforth be sent on.*
"You bought *Danny-boy* as a present for *Janet*?"
"A favour to two friends, sir."
"I don't suppose I could get you to do such a favour for me, Carter?"
She gives him a strange look, "But who would I give you to, sir?"
*You could keep me.* For a moment, he thinks he's said it out loud, but her face doesn't display any shock, so his brain must have intercepted the thought on its way to his mouth. Thank God.
Doctors Jackson and Fraiser have broken off the kiss and are staring at each other.
"What was that for?" Doc Fraiser manages at last.
"I was ordered to do it," Daniel mutters, blushing crimson. "I.I'm a present to you from them."
"Explanation's in the card, Jan," Sam slips the card from Daniel's fingers and offers it to the Doc.
The Doc tears open the envelope and reads it through with her eyebrows growing higher and higher by the moment. She blushes, "Ummm. Thanks, girls." A glance at the similarly-blushing Daniel, "I think."
"Now shoo, kiddies," Meridian tells them cheerfully. "And don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
Janet gives her a fixed look, and takes Daniel's chain and they vanish into the crowd.
Up on the stage, Major Davis has just sold to a consortium of three for seven hundred dollars.
"It's not a bad idea, really," someone states as they watch the girls go up to collect their man. "We'd have made heaps more money if we'd thought of that sooner."
"And our last slave to be sold from these blocks tonight! Lot sixty-nine, Colonel Jack O'Neill!"
He gives Carter one half-desperate look, and receives a wry half-smile in return. "You'll do fine, sir."
He'd feel so much better if she had even just a little bit of regret on her face.
Up on the stage, he grimaces at Dr. Turnbull who grins broadly, "I hear Hammond ordered you up here."
"Nothing else would've got me up here, Doc."
"Look at it this way, Colonel, it'll all be over soon." The Doc steps up to the microphone. "Lot sixty-nine - our last lot for this evening - Colonel Jack O'Neill. In addition to being the 2IC of the Cheyenne Mountain Base, the Colonel has so many decorations, medals, ribbons, and citations for various forms of service from initiative to outstanding bravery that we'd be here the rest of the night just trying to list them. His pursuits include hockey and watching Seinfeld; he loves the Wizard of Oz, is great with kids, hates anything to do with people who've been dead several thousand years, and if you like explaining how something works this is not the man for you."
Jack finds his 2IC's face out in the crowd where he left her - standing with Teal'c near the now-empty slave pens with a slight half-smile on her lips. Is that what she thinks? Not the man for her?
"Shall we start the bidding at twenty?"
The individual bids rise rapidly, although a group of girls who can't be over twenty put in a bid at two-hundred and hold onto it until the prices rises above three hundred. It's nice to know he's still got it. Even for girls young enough to be his daughters. Meanwhile, the woman he wants stands silent amidst the crowd, with that half-smile fixed on her lips, and her eyes never leaving his face.
By the time they've hit four-hundred dollars, the 'consortiums' have begun bidding. From what Jack can tell, there are four main 'consortiums'. A group of women from town about his own age, some of the late-twentysomethings whose laughter can be heard ringing through the room, a handful of thirty-somethings - led by a rather stunning brunette with a predatory look in her eyes, and Captain Meridian and a half-dozen women of the SGC.
The twenty-somethings drop out at the thousand mark. The older women at thirteen hundred. There's a hurried conference among the SGC women, but they keep bidding against the maneater and her gang.
And Carter just stands there and watches as the price on her CO rises.
At seventeen hundred and fifty Jack couldn't care less who buys him. Okay, so he didn't expect her to be able to afford him, let alone bid on him, but he *did* have this little fantasy about her; no alien viruses, no icy caverns and broken legs, no alternate universes, za'tarc devices, or memory stamps. Just Jack and Sam.
*Wake up and smell the hummus, Jack!*
"Eighteen hundred," declares the brunette. Oh, well, if he has to be bought, at least the woman's distinctive. He just hopes she and her friends don't want much more than dinner.
The crowd looks to the SGC women, who conference again, but when the Captain lifts her head from the group to look at Jack again, there's an apology in her eyes. She shakes her head. They can't meet the price.
"Do we have an advance on eighteen hundred?"
A new bidder enters the field.
"Two thousand dollars."
Heads jerk and swivel, and people stare disbelievingly at the man leaning against the drinks table, a bottle of beer in his hand.
The Doc's eyebrows have vanished into his hairline. "Two thousand dollars to General Carter," he comments. A slightly wicked expression crosses his face: "You do realise, General, that this is a *bachelor* auction?"
"He's a bachelor, I'm a bachelor," responds Jacob coolly. "I don't see the problem." The face is set in wry amusement, but real laughter gleams in the dark eyes.
"Does Ms. Chester's group wish to continue the bidding?"
"Two thousand one hundred."
"Twenty-two fifty," Jacob says.
"Twenty-three hundred." One of the women in the group says something to the brunette.
The brunette pouts and shakes her head.
"Lot sixty-nine is sold to General Jacob Carter for the record sum of three thousand dollars."
Jack's stumped. What in all hells is going on? Why would Jacob be buying him at a bachelor auction? Sure, the older man's a friend, but that's no reason to buy him at a bachelor auction. And Jacob's one to toe the line - like his daughter. The last thing he'd ever do is buy his daughter's CO for her at a bachelor auction.
There's laughter and cheering and whoops and whistles as Jacob strides down the hall to pick up his 'purchase'.
"Out of pure curiosity, General, what do you plan to do with the Colonel?" Dr. Turnbull asks over the microphone as the collar is fitted around Jack's neck and Jacob takes his leash.
"Something not usually allowed in the military," drawls the older man, and the crowd roars with laughter.
Peachy. The joke is gonna be around for years now: Colonel O'Neill was bought at a bachelor auction by a superior officer who made suggestive comments to the crowd about his purchase.
"C'mon, son," Jacob grins and pulls gently at the leash. Without any choice, Jack is forced to follow his new 'master'.
Jack's cheeks are still flaming as Jacob stops next to his daughter. "Look what I bought, Sammie!"
She's trying to hold her laughter in, as she looks her CO up and down. There's a slight flush on her cheeks as she meets his gaze. "He was pretty expensive, Dad."
"Ah well, you know what I say, Sam. Pay for the best." Jacob winks at Jack, who feels a little better at the back-handed compliment the Tok'ra pays him. "Guess we'd better take him home, huh?"
"Well, your house." Jacob shrugs. "Do you still have the pull-out bed in the spare room? He can sleep there."
Okay, so maybe there are *some* benefits to being bought by Jacob!
Carter looks at him, then over at her father. "Uh.Dad, he's got his own house."
"Sam, I just paid three thousand bucks for the guy, I'm not gonna let him go home!"
A smile touches her lips at her father's words, "Okay. Dad, I need to talk to a couple of people before we leave - I'll meet you out in the car in fifteen?"
"Great timing. I get a chance to drill our new slave on his duties."
She grins and vanishes into the crowd.
Up on the stage, Dr. Turnbull is closing up the night, and people are drifting around, chattering and laughing. Not a few of them pass by to slap Jack on the shoulder, or make a ribald comment to Jacob who serenely deflects them. At last, the onlookers drift away, and the General points to the door. "Think you can make it that far, Colonel?"
"My ego's gonna have massive bruising by the end of the night, but, yeah."
He endures the laughter and the teasing as they go out to the parking lot. They wander over to Jack's truck and lean back against the bonnet and Jack asks the question that's bugging him. "So why'd you buy me, Jacob?"
"Because you're a great guy, of course."
"Of course," Jack says dryly.
"Not all the money is mine, actually." Jacob comments, fishing around in his jacket pockets. "I'd have given up at one-and-a-half. Which is just as well for you. The brunette looked like she was going to have you for dinner and spit out the bones." He flashes a sidelong grin at Jack. Carter definitely inherited the brilliant smile from her Dad.
"So who else put in?"
"Well, George for one. He felt that after getting you into that, the best thing he could do was get you out of it." Jacob pulls out an envelope, folded into thirds so it fit in the slim pocket, "It dovetailed nicely with something else."
He hands Jack a letter. The letterhead of the White House is precise and clear, even in the dim light of the parking lot. The quiet night is interrupted by the sudden thundering of his blood in his ears as he reads it.
It's brief and to the point.
*By the authorisation of the President of the United States of America, Colonel Jonathan O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter, USAF, have clearance to proceed with discretion.*
The paper crackles as he folds the letter up.
"Like I said in there," Jacob indicates the hall, "It's not usually allowed in the military."
"So why make an exception?"
"The President was impressed with both you and my daughter when he met you the other week. Actually, he was impressed with SG-1 generally, but having served in the Air Force himself, he had a particular interest in you two." A quirk touches the older man's lips, "Apparently the man is a very astute judge of character. He pegged you and Sam immediately."
"He pegged that, too." The grimace is unmistakeable even in the darkened parking lot. "When George told me about this, I nearly had a fit. Nothing personal, you understand, Jack."
"So why'd he do this? No offence to the President, but just because he's impressed with the team and sees.some things about us doesn't mean he owes us anything." The habit of caution is something ingrained in him by now. A note with a White House letterhead is not going to change that overnight - and probably shouldn't, anyway. 'With discretion' means exactly that.
"In his books, it does," Jacob tells him. "Between the four of you, right now you could ask just about anything in the man's power and he'd crawl across broken glass naked to give it to you. He prefers.oh, what was his phrase?" The Tok'ra grins, "Oh yeah. He prefers to 'have his head up his ass instead of a snake in his head.'"
He'd always expected that phrase to come back and bite him in the balls. He never thought that it would come back like this! Jack's probably just lucky that whoever Bauer complained to had a sense of humour and probably didn't like the man much.
"So the third part of the consortium who bought you is the President of the USA." Jacob waves a hand dismissively. "I think he said something about taking your first child in payment, but you never can tell with politicians."
Kids. With Carter. Oh *boy*. "That's jumping a *long* way ahead, Jacob."
"Probably." Jacob shrugs. "I got my grandkids anyway."
"George has always been a big softy," comes Jacob's sardonic reply. "Particularly when it comes to you and your team." He claps Jack on the shoulder, and changes both topic and mood. "Right. Your duties as my bought slave. I'm due to be paged about now; and as it turns out I'll be out all night. When I call at two in the morning to tell Sam I'm not gonna be home tonight, she had better be embarrassed to find her Dad on the other end of the line." Eyes nearly as dark as Jack's own twinkle, "*Very* embarrassed."
His sense of humour is rapidly reassembling itself. "Is that an order, sir?"
"Yes." A half-smile touches Jacob's mouth, as he spots Sam coming across the parking lot. His voice drops to a low mutter: "Oh, and one more thing. Be very good to my little girl, Colonel, or I guarantee that Ra, Apophis, Hathor, and Heru'ur will seem like the Partridge family after George, Selmak and I finish with you. *Comprendhe*?"
Oh yeah. He comprehends alright.
The pager goes off with impeccable timing as Carter reaches them, and Jacob makes his apology and takes the keys to his daughter's car. "Nothing to fret yourself about, Sam. Selmak and I were supposed to report back to the council after being here twenty-four hours, and in the excitement of the bachelor auction, we forgot." He kisses her on the cheek, before his eyes flash briefly in the night as Selmak takes over the body of his host, "It was an entertaining experience on my part, Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter. I have enjoyed tonight." Selmak bows and walks over to where Sam's car is parked and drives off.
They look at each other, a little hesitant after the hype of the evening.
"Uh, sir.since my Dad's not going to be around tonight, you can go home if you like.it won't be necessary for you to stay over."
It's all very well to say that you've been given the go-ahead by her Dad and your CO, it's another thing to work out if she actually wants him. He knows she likes him - she's his friend. That doesn't necessarily translate to.the other thing. The emotion he's not real good at expressing. After all, she didn't make any explicit confessions on a za'tarc device. Stating that you don't want to watch one of the people closest to you die is not a court-martiallable offence. And she was the one stuck on the ship, while he could have hightailed it home - and didn't. *That* required an explanation.
Okay, go for the facts. He's been bought for the next forty-eight hours by her Dad who ordered him to take her home. That's easy. It's the two-in-the-morning bit that's harder to get to.
Right, start with the easy stuff and work towards the more tricky bits.
"Well, I got bought by your Dad, and I've got my orders." He opens the truck door for her. "Including seeing you home."
Carter arches a brow as she gets in and he shuts the door behind her, "Quite the gentleman tonight, sir."
"Yeah, well, considering how much your Dad paid for me, I figure his family is entitled to a little kow-towing." Although it wasn't just Jacob, he feels he owes the man *something*. If nothing else, for allowing Jack anywhere near his beloved daughter.
As he gets in the driver's seat, he finds her eyes on him, frowning. "Is everything okay, sir?"
"Yeah, why?" He starts up the truck.
"You're a little unsettled."
The traffic trying to leave the parking lot after the end of the auction gives him a few seconds to find something to say other than: *I'm nervous about seducing you, okay?* At last, he comes up with: "It's not every day a guy gets bought at a bachelor auction by another man for the highest price."
Her voice is indulgently amused. "I don't think Dad has any ulterior motives for you, sir."
Sure, he does! They just involve Jacob's daughter rather than Jacob himself.
"Probably not," he concedes. "It's still weird. And Carter, would you mind using my name this weekend instead of my title?"
"As the slave, you're not really supposed to be making the requests, sir."
"But as the daughter of the man who bought me, you probably shouldn't be addressing me by a title." He glances over at her in the dark. Has he finally cornered her with that argument?
"Okay, but I'll only do it if you do the same for me, s.Jack."
He grins. "I think I can manage that, Sam."
"Oh, hi Jack. I see my daughter has put you to good use." A pause, during which the other person in the room chokes on his drink. "Answering phones."
"Uh.yes.I think it gives her a buzz to be issuing orders to me instead of taking them from me."
"Is she awake?"
"Uh.yes, I'll just get her." A long pause, then softer, "Um. Carter?"
"Oh!" Louder. "Hi, Dad."
"Hey Sammie, did I wake you up?"
"Um.yeah. I was in bed trying to sleep."
"Sorry. Look, I just wanted to let you know I'll be staying here at the base overnight and coming home in the morning."
"Oh. Okay, Dad. Thanks for calling."
"Is everything okay, there?"
"Everything's fine. Why?"
"Jack's working out okay?"
"Um. Yes. I had stuff on the spare room bed.so he's on the living room couch."
"Comfy. Right, well, I'll let you go back to bed." Silence. "Sam?"
"Uh, yeah, Dad?"
"Sure, Dad. Just tired."
"Alright. Sleep tight, hon."
"You too, Dad."
Jacob hangs up and looks over at George.
"Well, either that 2IC of yours doesn't have the balls I credited him with, or my daughter's a better actress than I suspected."
"Your daughter's very adept at hiding behind a military mask, Jake."
"I taught her good, didn't I?" He sighs. "Well, all I have to worry about is whether or not he makes her happy. They're not a problem in my chain of command at least." He slants a look over at his friend.
George grimaces, "Thanks for reminding me."
The phone is tossed on the floor, and lands with a thud on a discarded leather jacket.
"I think he knows."
His fingers wander across her stomach, light and caressing. "He's your Dad. They know everything."
She rolls her eyes, laughing, and he takes the opportunity to kiss her again. She lets him.
Her Dad would probably have a fit if he knew what his daughter was doing with the three-thousand dollar slave at two in the morning. Selmak might find it funny, though: over the years she's come to recognise that the Tok'ra have an earthy sense of humour - if a little twisted.
He nibbles her shoulder, "Is this about where we were up to before he called?"
"About." She's not going to quibble about precise positioning. "If it's not, you can start from the beginning again." Her mind's half on the sensations he's evoking with his mouth on her flesh, and half on the implications of this whole relationship thing. It's one thing to be like this with each other in bed, quite another on missions. They're going to have to develop a happy medium.
A smile grows on his face. "I prefer the idea of jumping directly to this."
She'd already begun speaking: "We're going to have to." Her breath sucks in at what he's doing but she manages to keep talking, if a little huskily, ".sort out our working relationship, you know." She knows how much trust has been put in them by everyone who made the decision in their favour and then passed it down to them. She's not going to betray that. Not even for.*oh god!*.this.
"Later," she agrees breathlessly. Right now she'd agree to just about anything - as long as he doesn't stop.
It can rain men all night for all she cares.
Sam's got the man she wants right where she wants him.