HIS SNAKY BUTT

By Lorraine Anderson

Continuation of NOT THE LAST, from Redemption 10

Ba'al looked down at Jack O'Neill. "General O'Neill," he rumbled. "How nice to see you again."

"Ba'al," O'Neill said, playing along. "I wish I could say the same." At least, he hoped he was playing along. This could be hell if he weren't. On the other hand, Ba'al had had him kidnapped, not so gently, out of his Washington apartment. And Daniel Jackson, beside him, had a large bruise emerging on his cheek.

The man didn't smile, and there was no humor in his eyes. Either Marcus – Ba'al's host - was a hell of an actor, or – he and Daniel were screwed, big time. "I've waited a long time for this, O'Neill." He looked to the side. "My dear Euterpe. Would you care to take the honors?"

Jack saw a flash of recognition in Daniel's eyes, and he shook his head slightly. Not now, Daniel.

A young woman came up to O'Neill, and her eyes flashed. She looked at him curiously. "So – this is a Tau'ri."

Ba'al made a broad gesture toward Jack. "O'Neill is my old adversary."

"Not so old," O'Neill objected. "I mean, I'm only a little over fifty."

Ba'al focused the ribbon device on him. "Be quiet, O'Neill. You do not speak until your God wills you to." He blasted O'Neill with the ribbon device, and before he blacked out, he had one thought.

Oh, shit.

#

He woke up slowly. He was laying on a hard bench. Across the way, Daniel was looking at him. "I'm too old for this shit," O'Neill said.

"No," Daniel said, sitting back against the wall, a small bit of relief showing on his face. "You're just not used to it anymore."

"For good reason," O'Neill groused, sitting up and rubbing his forehead. "I'm supposed to be on the back lines now. You young guys are supposed to be carrying me."

"I'm not that young anymore, Jack," Daniel said.

"Younger than me."

"Yeah, well," Daniel said. "Do you know what's going on here?"

"Hell, no," Jack said. "I was about to jump in my shower and go to bed when poof, some Jaffa ring in and I'm up on this Al'kesh in my skivvies." He looked at Daniel, who was in a business suit. "So what's your story?"

"I was at Cassie's Doctorate graduation. Which you forgot."

"Oh. Yeah."

"Sam's probably wondering why I haven't come out of the bathroom yet."

"Well," Jack said. "Maybe not yet. You know, the older you get…"

"I don't take an hour in the bathroom, Jack."

"Ah." He looked around. A cell. A control panel was on the wall. "I wonder if we can McGyver that."

"And then take care of the Goa'uld with our bare hands?" Daniel said. "I don't think so."

Jack laid his head back down. "I though Ba'al was…. dead. Hell, we saw him die."

"Yeah, well," Daniel said. "I thought so, too. Maybe this is one of the clones."

The door opened. "Daniel Jackson," the tall, trim man stepped in, followed by a couple of Jaffa. "I am not a clone."

"As Teal'c would say – indeed." Jack said. "I saw your snaky butt die!"

Ba'al smiled and shook his head. "I've been told of your comrade in arms, Kawalsky?"

Jack's heart sunk. "I would have thought the Tok'ra would have been more efficient then Doc Warner. After all, they actually have snaky butts."

"Even they don't know everything."

"Well," Jack said. "I have to give you that point." He stretched and groaned. "What are we doing here?"

"You are here -" Ba'al started to say.

The woman walked in "- to stand in judgment for your crimes against the Goa'uld."

Ba'al bowed to her, and kissed her outstretched hand. "My dear Euterpe," he said.

Daniel made a small noise.

"I see you have heard of me," the Goa'uld woman said.

"I've heard of the Goddess Euterpe," Daniel said. "She was one of nine muses. The others were Clio, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania, and Calliope. Euterpe was the Goddess of music. "

"And what were the others?" Jack said, simply because he could see the two Goa'uld become impatient at the recitation. "Don't tell me. Calliope was the Goddess of Circus organs."

"And," Ba'al said, sneering. "Once again, Dr. Daniel Jackson is the dispenser of useless information."

God, it did sounded like the old Ba'al. How many of him were there?

"Were there seven of you?" Daniel said. Jack winced. Sometimes, Daniel's curiosity overrode is caution.

To his surprise, the woman answered. "Yes," she said. "There were." Her voice turned hard. "They were all killed by the Replicators you led back to this galaxy."

"Ah," Daniel said.

"I would say I'm sorry," Jack said. "But I'm not." He sat up, then regretted it. He was getting way too old to be tortured. "So, apart from the obvious, what are we doing here?"

"My dear Euterpe," Ba'al explained, "has an interesting plan for revenge."

"Which includes me?" Jack said. "I'm honored."

"It includes control of the head of home world security," Ba'al said. "It includes a combination of brainwashing, torture, coercion, and drugs."

"Ah," Jack said. "Nice combination."

Daniel raised his hand. "I suppose I'm to be part of the coercion."

"Quiet," Euterpe said. She looked at Ba'al. "I am surprised, Ba'al, that you let prisoners speak to you the way they do."

"My dear Euterpe," Ba'al said. "For the Goddess of Music, you discount the amusement value that your subjects provide."

"I do not play to entertain," Euterpe snapped. "I play to entangle."

"Perhaps you shall sing for us later," Ba'al suggested.

She smiled at him, her eyelids lowered in what was an apparent seductive attempt. "Perhaps I should sing for you now."

"Oh, puh-lease." Jack said.

Her voice started low, and the Goa'uld double echo faded out. This was, apparently, the host. Jack tried to feign disinterest as she launched into a lively tune which sounded sort of middle-easty to Jack, but Daniel's eyes went wide, and he listened, fascinated.

As did Ba'al. His eyes widened slightly as he listened to her sing to him, and Jack could see him flush slightly. He seemed captivated and a little wistful.

Hell, even he was captivated. If this woman could be captured alive, she would have a bright future as a singer.

Not that things were looking so good right now.

Like an opera singer Jack saw once, she commanded the room, and Jack could see how she led the Jaffa that were with her. In some ways, she was much like Hathor, who ruled with her sexuality, but in Euterpe's case, her sexuality came out in her voice – when the Goa'uld wasn't speaking.

For a minute, he almost forgot that she was Goa'uld.

She finished on a high note that Jack had only previously heard in a Mozart opera – or perhaps in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, a note that sounded less like a human voice than a bird singing. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, then feigned indifference. Ba'al's eyes looked at him, amused.

"Wow," Daniel breathed.

She smiled at Ba'al seductively. "Perhaps we should leave the prisoners to the Jaffa," she said.

Ba'al smiled and cocked his head. "Oh," he said. "I think Jack and I have a date next." He cocked his head to one side. "And, my dear, I'm afraid you're not part of it."

The door opened, and Vala walked in, followed by Mitchell – and about five or six Tok'ra.

Euterpe whirled. "What is going on here?"

"I am afraid, my dear Goa'uld, that you must be tried for your crimes."

"But you are a Goa'uld!"

Ba'al smiled. "Ba'al was killed some time ago. I am the host. My name is Marcus." He looked at her as if she

Euterpe screamed in desperation. The Tok'ra grabbed her and muscled her away. "I will not be held. Jaffa, to me!"

"Unfortunately," Ba'al said to Jack. "Since Mitchell is here, that means that all of Euterpe's Jaffa are incapacitated or dead, and the rest are my freed Jaffa." He sighed. "General O'Neill, I am so sorry I had to put you through that. When I discovered her, you had already been taken, and the Jaffa I had with me were not enough to conquer her forces. I had to wait for reinforcements. I could not alert her by signaling you who I was. I barely got the signal out to Mitchell."

"I'm sorry, sir," Mitchell said. "We came as soon as we were contacted. We knew you and Daniel were kidnapped, but we didn't know by who until Marcus contacted us."

"Did Sam tell you about me?"

Vala grinned. "I guess she stormed the Men's restroom after you didn't come out. She called me and told me you were kidnapped."

"I'll have to thank her," Daniel said. "I think. Although if I had still been on the…" He wound down and blinked.

"And how did you figure out about me?" Jack said.

"Major Davis went into your apartment and saw your clothes on the floor." He grinned at Jack's state of undress. "I guess I see why he was alarmed. Sir."

"How long were we gone?" Jack said.

"Ten hours." He looked at Jack. "Cassie refused to let Sam leave to rescue you."

Marcus was quiet during this. "I know you have little reason to trust me." Ba'al – Marcus - said.

"Hell, I thought you had been re-implanted!" Jack burst out.

Marcus' eyes twinkled. "I am glad you like my acting job." He brought out a healing device. "May I?"

O'Neill looked at Vala, who nodded. He pursed his lips, closed his eyes, and nodded. He did have a bit of a headache from the ribbon device. He felt a slight sensation on his skin, then his headache eased. He sighed involuntarily.

"Thank you," he said, echoing Daniel. "I think."

"I wish to tell you this, General O'Neill. Please understand me. In some ways," Marcus said, "I feel we're much the same. We're both military men, we've both done things we wished we hadn't had to do, and we're both victims of Ba'al."

Jack sat back and considered that. "I suppose we are." He looked the man in his eyes. "But that still doesn't mean I will be your bosom friend."

"I don't expect that." Marcus said seriously. He looked at the door. "I need to go with the Tok'ra this time." He looked at Vala. "Do you think that she'll remember -" He managed looked a little lost.

"She'll be fine." Vala said, smiling sadly.

"But…"

"She'll remember. After all, you did," she said, more emphatically. "Go." She nodded. "I understand."

"Until we meet again, General. Doctor Jackson." He followed hurriedly where the Tok'ra had disappeared.

General O'Neill raised his eyebrows at Vala.

"Euterpe's host," Vala said lowly, "is Marcus' wife."

Jack's eyes widened, and he closed his mouth with a snap.

"I didn't know he was married," Daniel said.

"I think he assumed that she was killed with the rest of the Goa'uld," Vala said. "It wasn't until a couple of days ago that he realized that she was alive." She smiled sadly. "I think I've just been dumped." She sidled up to Daniel. "Well, Daniel, it's just you and me now."

Daniel looked over at Jack.

"You got yourself into this trap yourself," Jack said.

Mitchell grinned.

#

A couple of months later, a young woman came to his office in the pentagon as he was out in the main office, getting coffee. "I was sent by Vala Mal Doran," she said, with a musical voice.

Jack's eyebrows drew together. He knew her…

"Euterpe?" he said.

The young woman smiled. "Actually, my name is Lydia," she said. "I just wanted to thank you."

"Come in." he said. He offered her some coffee. She waved it off and sat in the chair from the other side of the desk. "I'm afraid I didn't do anything. I was Euterpe's hostage."

"Ah," she said, with a musical voice. "Not for that incident. I wanted to thank you for allowing my husband to rescue me." She sobered. "If you hadn't let him search for other Goa'uld, I would still be Euterpe's slave." She smiled at him again, and Jack realized how beautiful she was.

"Your husband is a lucky man," he said.

"And I wanted to ask you whether you would forgive him. He still feels badly about having to torture you all of those times – especially when you were Euterpe's captive."

Jack sighed. "He did what he had to do. We all do those things in war." He looked at the table. "I still have trouble distinguishing Ba'al from his host."

"I realize that. I've convinced him to retire for a while, and, if it helps, he has shaved off his beard." She smiled. "The representative from Italy invited us to come home, but," she shook her head sadly, "after looking at the pictures, I'm afraid there would be too many ghosts in Rome for us. Even though it is now a Christian city."

"You're Christian?"

"Yes. In my youth, I followed the Christ in Galilee."

He blinked. "You followed…? Don't say that around Daniel. He'll never let you be."

She smiled. "Marcus has told me that."

"So," Jack said. "Marcus has shaved off his beard. That might help," Jack said.

"Can we take you out to lunch?"

Jack looked a little alarmed. "He's here?"

"He's at the hotel with Daniel."

Jack closed his eyes. Maybe it was about time that he let things go.

"Can I bring Major Davis?"

But not too far.

She smiled at him, and he relaxed. "Of course."

He offered her his arm. "Shall we go now?"

"That would be nice." She looked up at Jack. "May I ask a request?"

"Of course," he said.

"I understand that there is such an establishment called a 'karaoke bar.' I would like to see such a restaurant. I was a singer in my previous life."

Jack smiled. He could hardly wait to see Davis' reaction to her singing. He snorted. "I look forward to it. Marcus is a lucky man."

Lydia smiled. "He is, now."

"Yes," Jack smiled sadly. "He is."

The General and the former Goa'uld left the General's office arm in arm.