Christmas at the SGC by Layton Colt

A leader from another world makes an unusual demand.

Author's Notes: There's no real point to this story, it's just a little Christmas fun!

"Was that a reindeer?"

Jack looked on incredulously as Ferretti unobtrusively led a large reindeer down the stone corridors of the SGC. He had a red blanket draped across his back and little bells dangled down from it.

Daniel came out of his office and stood beside him. "It looks like a reindeer," he said seriously -- apparently unfazed by the strange sight.

"Ferretti!" Jack barked.

Major Louis Ferretti stopped dead. He knew that tone. Placing his disarming smile firmly in place, he swung around smartly. "Colonel O'Neill," he greeted.

"Just what *are* you doing?"

"I'm taking the reindeer for a walk. Sir."

"I can see that," Jack said as he narrowed his eyes. "Why, exactly?"

"Because he was getting bored," Ferretti said quickly. "He got into the coffee grounds. Hasn't stopped moving since."

Sure enough, the reindeer began tugging at his reins, nearly knocking Ferretti off his feet. Jack reached out to steady him, glaring all the while.

"Ferretti!" he growled.

"Yes, sir?"

Jack was quickly losing his patience. And Daniel laughing behind him wasn't helping. He took a deep breath and met Ferretti's eyes. "What are you doing with a reindeer, Major?"

"Oh, well, Hammond requested it, sir," Ferretti said.

Daniel's eyes widened. "Right! Of course, the reindeer!"

Ferretti nodded. "Yes -- the reindeer."

Jack looked from Ferretti to Daniel and back again. "Does anyone one care to fill me in?"

Ferretti motioned Daniel to do the honors. "Remember Arden, Jack? The man we met on PX2457?"

"PX- what?"

"The planet with all the blue flowers," Daniel clarified.

Jack nodded. "Right, right, Arden. What's he got to do with all of this?"

"Well, he requested some of our stories for trade. We give him books, he gives us naquida. Well, apparently, the Rasa don't understand the concept of fiction and when they read some of the stories--"

"He wants a flying reindeer, sir," Ferretti cut in. "Arden refuses to trade with us anymore until we give him a flying reindeer."

"You've got to be kidding me!" Jack burst out.

Ferretti shrugged.

"But reindeer don't fly," Jack continued. "You can't give him this -- this reindeer. What if he runs him off a cliff while trying to lift off?"

Ferretti shrugged again. It wasn't his problem. He had his orders -- and they were simple. Walk the reindeer. Keep it happy.

"I don't know, sir, but Rudolph is getting antsy, we really have to keep walking."

"Rudolph!" Jack cried. "You named the damn thing Rudolph!"

Rudolph's eyes seemed to darken and he snorted loudly as he tugged angrily on his reins.

"I don't think he likes you making fun of his name, Jack," Daniel said helpfully.

Jack held his hands up in surrender. "Continue your walk, Ferretti."

Ferretti adjusted his grip on the reins and led the animal away. Jack watched in stupefaction. Were things *ever* normal in this place? Had he actually *expected* them to run smoothly on Christmas Eve?

"Daniel," Jack said calmly.

"Yes, Jack?"

"How much longer until we can leave?"

Daniel smiled sweetly. "Sam's driving us to Janet's, and she won't be done in her lab for a couple more hours. Don't worry, Jack, if you get too bored, you could always play with reindeer."

Jack glared at Daniel. Daniel continued to smile. "Though, you'd probably have to apologize first," Daniel said. "You really hurt Rudolph's feelings when you made fun of him. What with him already having gone through so much, none of the other reindeer will play with him, you know, he isn't allowed to join any of their reindeer games."

"Two hours and we're leaving," Jack said sharply. "If I have to drag you and Carter out of here myself."

"Where's your Christmas spirit, Jack? There's a lot going on here, tonight. SG-6 is in the rec room decorating a tree, you could help them. SG-7 is watching 'It's a Wonderful Life,' on the security monitors. SG-8 is cleaning up reindeer droppings."

Jack rolled his eyes upwards and prayed for strength. It was his own fault, really. He had only himself to blame. Daniel never used to be like this. "Two hours," he said firmly as he started towards his office.

He could hear Daniel humming Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer behind him as he walked away. He smiled slightly despite himself. He had never thought he would celebrate Christmas again, not after the death of his son. But the last two years he'd spent it with a new family. SG-1. Teal'c wouldn't be joining them this year, though, he had gone to the Land of Light to spend some much needed time with his wife and son.

Jack, Daniel, and Sam would be heading over to Janet's where they would spoil Cassie with a trunk load of presents.

He just hoped they made it there. He'd come to count on things going wrong, and if you're looking for trouble, there isn't a better place to go than the SGC. His 'Christmas spirit,' as Daniel had put it, was waiting outside the steel metal 'gates that guarded Earth's greatest secret. Until he was away, and sure nothing disastrous would happen, forcing him to stay and fix it, he was going to be a little on edge.

"No, no, no!"

Jack looked up at the shout and ran towards the voice. He stopped in the entryway to the rec room. Eliza Merchant was suspended upon Lieutenant Gregory Smith's shoulders, holding a golden star in one outstretched hand. Huh. So Daniel hadn't made that one up. SG-6 really was in the rec room decorating the tree.

"You idiot!" Eliza screeched. "Can't you blasted marines do anything right? To the left, I said! The left! You're moving to the bloody right!"

Jack smiled again. He'd always liked Eliza, reminded him a little too much of Janet for him to feel very safe around her, though. The six foot marine holding her up didn't look like he felt very safe either.

The sound of the blaring klaxons caused Jack's smile to fade away. He knew it. He just knew it. He blamed Daniel and Carter. They were the ones who just had to get some things taken care of before they left. He had warned them, 'let's escape while we can,' he had said. Did they listen? Did they *ever* listen?

Jack turned around and started for the 'gateroom. When he reached the control room, he was surprised to see Daniel and Carter had made it there before him.

"Expecting anyone, General?" Jack asked as he came to a stop beside Hammond.

The General shook his head in the affirmative. "Arden. Are we receiving his IDC?"

Sergeant Harriman nodded. "Yes, sir. It's the code you gave to the Rasa."

"Open the iris," Hammond said. That had been another condition of the Rasa. They had demanded an IDC code and transmitter before they would trade. An IDC code and a flying reindeer, they didn't demand much, really.

"I told Arden to visit us," Hammond said to Jack. "It turns out he was reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and--"

Jack nodded. "I heard, sir. All he wants for Christmas is his very own reindeer. You will tell him it doesn't really fly, though, won't you, sir?"

General Hammond glared at his subordinate. "Both myself and SG-9 have been trying to do just that, Colonel. For two days -- with no success. He's convinced we're lying to him to keep all of the -- the--"

Daniel leaned into the conversation. "The flying reindeer," he supplied helpfully.

The General nodded. "Yes, yes, the flying reindeer for ourselves."

A rather unladylike snort emanated from behind the General. Sam was holding a hand to her mouth. Her eyes glistening with amusement.

"What?" Jack asked. "Carter?"

Sam, afraid to remove her hand lest she should fall into hysterics, simply lifted her right arm, and pointed down into the 'gateroom.

As one, the General, Jack and Daniel turned to see what had caused the imperturbable Captain to break down. The sight that greeted them was beyond anything their minds might have expected. Daniel's jaw dropped open, Hammond's eyes went wide, and a large smirk spread across Jack's features.

Standing on the ramp, in red velvet and faux fur, was Arden from Rasa. His white beard had been combed and fluffed and his cheeks were a rosy pink.

"Oh, this is--" Jack trailed off. Not sure of an appropriate adjective to describe this situation.

The control room returned to silence. Arden stared up at them from the ramp with merry blue eyes.

"He -- he's dressed like Santa Claus!" Daniel finally blurts out.

"You always were a quick one," Jack says without missing a beat. "General, I suggest you get Ferretti to the 'gateroom, last I checked, he was taking Rudolph for a walk."

"Rudolph?" the General echoes.

"Yes, sir, I thought it was an inappropriate name for a reindeer as well. But you know Ferretti, he's always coming up with crazy things."

The General nodded and turned to an airman. "Go get Major Ferretti, tell him to get -- Rudolph to the 'gateroom."

"Yes, sir," the airman said before he took off down the stairs.

"We should get down to the 'gateroom too, sir," Jack said to the General. "We wouldn't want to keep Santa waiting."

Jack and the General headed off and Sam and Daniel shared an amused look before taking off after them.

"Ho ho ho!" Arden said joyfully. He smiled at SG-1 and the General. "I have come for my reindeer," he said.

"Yes, about that," the General started.

Arden shook his head. "I will not continue relations with your people if I do not get my flying beast, General of the SGC."

Daniel was struck by a sudden coughing fit. Sam slapped him helpfully on the back. Arden gave the young man a concerned look but was soon distracted by the sound of hoofs on pavement.

Ferretti was dragged in by the large animal, just barely keeping his grip on the reins.

Arden broke out into a large grin and held out his arms. "Such a magnificent creature! He shall fly me over my entire world! And I shall drop gifts to little children, just as your honored Saint Nick does here on Earth."

Daniel, having regained his composure, decided to take another shot at explaining to Arden what he read was just a story. "Arden, there is no Santa Claus,"

Arden looked at him seriously. Eyes wide and innocent. Arden was more than twice Daniel's age, but he had the curiosity and innocence more suited to a child. He felt horrible shattering his belief.

"The reindeer, they don't really fly -- it's just a story, you understand. It isn't real."

"Ah," Arden said with a large grin. "But it is Daniel, look at him, he breathes like you and me. The reindeer *are* real."

"Yes, but he doesn't fly," Jack added.

Arden shook his head. "I have read of it, O'Neill. Do not try to deceive me."

"Oh brother," Jack said under his breath. "Look, Arden, that's just something we tell little kids, alright? We tell them that Santa's going to come and give them presents, but he doesn't, he isn't *real.*"

"But I have read of it," Arden says firmly. "I have seen pictures."

"Well, make him fly then," Ferretti said as he handed the reins to Arden. "Prove us wrong."

The General gave Ferretti a disapproving look, but the idea did hold merit. They all turned to Arden. Arden turned to the reindeer.

"Does the creature have a name?" he asked.

"Rudolph," five voices responded at once. They all looked at each other for a moment, before returning their attention to Arden.

"Why is his nose not red?"

"You have *got* to be kidding me," Jack muttered.

"Different Rudolph," Carter said. "This is a -- a distant relative of his."

"Fly Rudolph!" Arden commanded. His deep voice resonating through the gateroom.

Rudolph blinked.

Arden frowned and lifted one of the animals ears. He looked at it for a moment, before releasing it and allowing it to flop back down. "He does not fly."

"That's what we've been trying to tell you," Daniel said.

"I think he does not like it in this room, eh?" Arden says. "I'm sure he'll fly once he reaches my world."

"Arden," Daniel said patiently. "He won't fly anywhere. He's just a reindeer."

"Yes," Ferretti added. "And everyone knows that reindeer can't fly without a magic harness. And all of the magic harnesses were destroyed centuries ago."

Daniel looked at Ferretti in confusion, he was about to ask what he was talking about when he caught on. "Oh, ah, yes. No more of those. Now the reindeer have to just walk."

Arden adjusted the overlarge Santa hat resting on his head. "A magic harness?"

"Yes," Carter said. "That's how the 'honored Saint Nick' got all of his reindeer to fly. Sadly, after he died, all of the magic harnesses were lost."

"This is a great tragedy," Arden said solemnly.

SG-1, Ferretti and the General nodded their agreement, trying to look sad at the loss of the great Santa Claus. All the while holding back laughter at the absurdity of the situation they've found themselves in.

"I have no need of -- of an ordinary reindeer," Arden says disappointedly.

"Are we still going to be able to retain relations between our worlds?" the General asked.

Arden nodded, still staring sadly at the reindeer. "Are you sure he can't fly?" Arden asked. "He looks like he would like to fly."

Jack turned to Rudolph, the reindeer was happily gnawing on his leash. He guessed Rudolph looked a little like he wanted to fly.

"I'm sorry, Arden," Daniel said. "But without the magic harness." Daniel trailed off and glared at Ferretti, who was dangerously close to losing his self control. Daniel knew that if Ferretti started laughing, there wouldn't be any hope for the rest of them.

"I must return home," Arden said suddenly. "If I am to give all of the children gifts tonight without the aid of a flying reindeer or a red light to guide my way, I must start now."

"You're still going to do it?" Jack asked incredulously.

"I must," Arden said gravely. "To honor your Santa Claus and all he stood for. He may be gone, as are his magic harnesses, but his spirit lives on, yes?"

"Yes," Jack agreed, feeling a little of the Christmas spirit sneaking up on him. "Yes it does."

"Sergeant," the General called up to the 'gateroom. "Dial up Rasa."

"Yes, sir," Harriman responded crisply -- his decorum impervious to the spectacle taking place below him.

Arden turned to the reindeer as the 'gate began to dial up. "Perhaps one day, my dear Rudolph, one of those magic harnesses will be recovered, and you may fly through the night sky unhindered by even wings."

Daniel smiled at Arden kindly. "I think it's a good thing, what you're doing," he said. "Kids need something to believe in. Something to look forward too."

Arden nodded. "So it is. Your Santa Claus was a brilliant man, indeed."

The 'gate exploded with light and sound, and created the wormhole to Rasa. Arden looked to the people of the SGC. "If you do find one of those magic harnesses."

"You'll be the first to know," General Hammond said quickly.

Arden smiled brightly and started up the ramp towards the 'gate. He turned before he entered the event horizon, and swung out his arms in a wide gesture. "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!" with that last booming statement, Arden disappeared through the wormhole, laughing all the way and leaving the SGC in a stunned silence.

"So," Jack said, breaking the stillness. "You think Cassie would want a pet reindeer?"

The End