DERBY DAY

By Lorraine Anderson

"This is a bad idea," Jack said to Daniel, all of his senses heightened. He looked sideways at Teal'c, who was trying to look in all directions. Sam, on the other side of Teal'c, held on to his arm as if her life depended on it.

Well, Jack thought, maybe not her life, but the lives of everyone else here.

"This was your idea, Jack," Daniel said, craning to look over the crowd ahead of him.

"This was my idea?" Jack said. "I said we should go someday. Not necessarily today."

"Well," Daniel said, looking around. "It could be worse. We could actually be –" he pointed at one of the televisions in the bar " – there."

"What is the purpose of this gathering?" Teal'c said, looking at the people at the tables.

"This is a party.," Sam said. "It's not practical for us to fly to Kentucky."

"Not to mention that the Air Force wouldn't pay for it," Daniel said lowly to Jack.

"So some people gather to watch the derby at bars."

"This Kentucky Derby," Teal'c rumbled. "A horse race."

"Not many horses on Chulak?" Jack said.

"We have no use for these beasts of burden."

"The Jaffa are the beasts of burden," Daniel said.

"Indeed, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. He looked around again. "Many of the people seem to be drinking?"

"Mint Juleps," Daniel said. "Would you like one?"

"I do not know," Teal'c said.

"I'll get the four of us one," Jack said. He looked at Teal'c. He still seemed to be uneasy. "On the other hand, perhaps you should get us some."

Daniel nodded; he had caught Jack's signal. Jack didn't want to leave Teal'c. He left to go to the bar, returning with four glasses.

"What is the purpose of this gathering? Why do they gather to watch this particular race," Teal'c said.

"These horses were bred for speed," Sam said. "They are some of the finest horses anywhere."

"If they are bred for speed, they will not be practical. In order to be practical, they must also be sturdy, like the Budweiser Clydesdales." Teal'c took a sip of his julep.

Sam looked at Jack, who shrugged. "Christmas commercials," he explained. He turned to Teal'c. "Don't you have athletic competitions just for fun?"

Teal'c gave him a look. "Our athletic competitions are training sessions. They also guide the Goa'uld as to who might serve him or her best."

"So you don't just do it for the competition?" Jack asked.

"When the competition is your job, it ceases to be fun," Daniel observed.

"Indeed," Teal'c said, looking at the television. "Why do they call it a Derby?"

"Well," Daniel started, "that's one of those words that doesn't have any single origin …"

Jack glared at him. "We don't need a word lesson right now."

Teal'c was staring around at the crowd. "Why are the women wearing hats?"

Sam looked abashed. "I had forgotten about that tradition."

"I had a feeling you would," Daniel said. "Just a second." He disappeared into the crowd, leaving the other three to stare at each other. He came back with a wide brimmed hat with flowers on it.

"Daniel," Sam said. "Really?"

"I knew you would forget, and I wanted everybody to get in the spirit." He sipped from his julep, then turned to Teal'c. "The hat," he explained, "is a Kentucky Derby tradition, probably going back to the old plantation days."

"Really, Daniel?"

He shrugged. "To be honest, I haven't researched it. I believe that they're meant to bring good luck."

Sam brightened and put it on her head. "Which means that my horse is going to win."

"Your horse, Major Carter.?"

"The horse that I have a bet on. Silver Charm," Sam said.

"Then I, too, shall place a bet on Silver Charm." Teal'c hesitated. "Where do I place this bet?"

"I don't actually have money bet on the horse, Teal'c," Sam said. "I just promised that I would buy candy bars." She looked at Jack.

"And if my horse wins," Jack said, "I promised to carry her pack on the next mission."

She smiled.

"Why did you pick the horse Silver Charm?" Teal'c wondered.

"I liked the name."

Teal'c blinked. "You did not research the horse's breeding? You have not seen the horse run?"

Sam shrugged. "No."

"The Goa'uld are more thorough. They breed Jaffa for strength and resourcefulness."

"It seems that that would work against them after a while," Daniel said.

"It has worked for thousands of years."

Daniel nodded, conceding the point.

"C'mon," Jack said. "We're here to have fun, not to discuss genetics."

"I, too, shall place my bet on Silver Charm," Teal'c nodded.

"I'll take that bet," Daniel said. "I'll bet on …" he looked at the screen, which was covering the ABC pre-show of the derby. "… Freehouse."

"Why would you bet on that horse, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c said.

"He's silver,." Daniel shrugged. "He's different looking."

"What are you going to wager?" Jack drawled.

"I'll take Teal'c out for a steak dinner if Silver Charm wins," Daniel said.

"And I shall owe Daniel Jackson a favor of his choice," Teal'c said.

"I'll think of something." Daniel took another sip of his mint julep. "This is good."

Sam took a sip of hers. "A bit strong …" she commented.

"Just right," Jack said. He looked around. "We should mingle."

"I'll mingle," Daniel said. "Perhaps you should just find a table." He looked meaningfully at Teal'c.

"Yes," Jack said, also looking at Teal'c. "We'll find a corner."

They found a table in the back corner, where they were mostly ignored by the crowd.

"Colonel O'Neill. Is this what you do for fun?" Teal'c wondered.

Jack glanced around. "Sometimes," he said. "Sometimes I just fish."

"Or you watch the sport called hockey," Teal'c said. "Or you watch movies."

The waitress came by. Jack signaled for another round of mint juleps.

"I believe I like this beverage," Teal'c said.

"It's not bad," Jack admitted, "although I usually prefer beer."

Daniel slipped into a chair. "I've had enough mingling," he announced. "It's much more fun with another culture."

Jack grunted.

They sat in silence. "So," Sam said. "What do you think about the new recruits?"

Jack shook his head. "I am not talking about work here."

"Not even about Rowan Wakefield?" Daniel said. "You didn't notice her, Jack?"

Jack smiled slightly. "I noticed her."

"The tall blonde?" Sam said. "I was looking at Christian McKnight. Reminded me of a young George Clooney."

"Which does nothing for me," Jack said.

Sam grinned broadly, and they talked the merits of the new people until they all went silent. Then the team watched the crowd some more, waiting for the race, sipping on their mint juleps. "You know," Sam said, "I haven't done this in a long time."

"Ever since we went to Cheyenne Mountain," Jack said. He picked up his drink. Hadn't it been empty a minute ago?

In fact, he had lost track. How many had they had?

"Teal'c," Jack said. "You may have to drive back to Cheyenne Mountain."

"Colonel O'Neill. I have not learned how to drive your automobiles."

"If you can drive one of those …. fancy jets, you can drive a car."

"I shall call for a ride.," Teal'c said.

"That's probably wise," Daniel said, his eyelids drooping. He signaled to the waitress.

"Yes," Jack said. He looked at his watch. "It's almost time for the race."

"Thank heavens," Sam said, under her breath. "Sir," she added, as Jack looked at her. She looked at her drink. "I think I've had too many," she smiled.

Jack looked at the drink. He hadn't remembered ordering more drinks, but, come to think of it, he hadn't remembered running out. As he looked, the waitress brought another round of drinks.

"I think that's enough, Daniel."

Daniel smiled. "My treat." He set his drink down a little hard. "Oops."

"Yeah, you've had enough, too," Jack said. He looked at Teal'c. "You don't seem to be affected," he added. Probably why he had suggested that Teal'c drive. Yeah, that was it. That was what he had noticed.

"My symbiote considers alcohol to be a poison and cleanses my system. Jaffa are not affected by alcohol."

Jack smiled. "Peachy."

Sam giggled.

The televisions were turned up. " 'My Old Kentucky Home,' " Sam said. The bar patrons started singing.

"There seems to be a discrepancy of the words," Teal'c said.

Daniel winced. "The song … has evolved over the years," he blushed.

"What are … Darkies?"

"It refers to a regrettable time in America's history when people were kept as slaves and were called Darkies."

"Much as Jaffa are kept as slaves," Teal'c said. "But why that term."

"Yes," Daniel said. "Similar to Jaffa." Jack stared at him. "I'll explain the word to you later." Daniel glared at the man who had said the word, who, fortunately, was still singing loudly and didn't notice.

"They're loading the horses," Sam said.

"The horses do not wish to race," Teal'c observed.

"They just don't like close spaces," Jack said. "I understand that."

"It's to make sure they start at the same time," Sam said.

They watched the horses being loaded. Suddenly, the gates opened. Freehouse took the early lead, and Daniel looked cautious. "Oh," he said. "That's never good."

"Why is that, Daniel Jackson?"

"The horse who takes the early lead is rarely the horse who wins."

"We shall see." They watched as the horses rounded the final corner.

"C'mon, Silver Charm," Sam muttered. "C'mon, Silver Charm, …"

"C'mon, Silver Charm," Teal'c bellowed. "Move your bloomin' arse!"

The bar patrons turned to look at Teal'c, who sat sphinx-like, then turned back, just in time to see Silver Charm win the Kentucky Derby by a neck.

"Okay," Jack said. "Who showed Teal'c 'My Fair Lady'?"

Daniel raised his hand.

"What kind of pussy," a man said, near their table, "says something like that at a bar?"

Jack looked. It was the man who had sung the original version of "My Old Kentucky Home."

"What kind of idiot insults my friend?" Jack said.

"He doesn't look like much," the man said.

Teal'c stood up. He towered over the accuser, who didn't seem to be cowed.

"I believe we are finished here, O'Neill."

"You're too chicken to fight?" Jack looked at the man. He looked as drunk … as Jack was.

"I wouldn't do that," Jack said.

The man took a punch at Teal'c. Teal'c caught the man's fist in his hand and twisted, so that the man fell to his knees. When he let go, he turned away. The man got up and launched himself towards Teal'c's back. Jack and Sam piled out of the table at the aggressor …

"The fact is," General Hammond bellowed. "You were in a bar fight. I don't care who started it!"

Jack and Sam winced.

"Yes, sir," Sam said.

Jack looked like he was going to open his mouth.

"I don't want to hear it, Colonel."

"Yes, sir," Jack said, shutting his mouth.

"If it weren't for Daniel Jackson, who stood up for you at the police station, you would be in jail right now!" Hammond sat down and glared at them. "However, in recognition of your service to the world – —and the word of Teal'c – —you will merely be docked one half of a month's pay."

Teal'c inclined his head.

"Thank you, sir," Jack said, looking down at the table.

"Yes, sir, thank you," Sam said, blushing.

Hammond stared at them. "Now. Go, before I change my mind."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you, General Hammond," Daniel said. "However, I almost regret that I didn't get in on the fight."

"I'm glad you didn't, son," Hammond said.

"Still," Daniel said. "I should learn more about defending myself." He looked at Hammond. "I was hiding under the table."

"Not that you should get in bar fights," Hammond said. "But if we're sending you out there through the gate, you should learn more than the basics of self-defense. We shall have to correct that, Doctor Jackson. Teal'c, will you train him?"

"Of course, General Hammond," Teal'c said.

Daniel looked less than enthusiastic as he looked at Teal'c. Still, Jack reflected, Teal'c would be a great teacher.

"Now. Go."

"Yes, sir," they all said. But as Jack closed the door, he heard Hammond mutter "… move your blooming arse?" He closed the door as Hammond started to laugh.