By Lorraine Anderson
"Carter, remind me again why in the hell we're here?" Jack looked around the gymnasium. It was filled with a variety of ladies – young, old, trim, overweight, and all of them loud. No sign of testosterone anywhere. They were sitting at tables, some cutting things out of paper, some doing things with sewing machines, and still others sitting at tables, selling various things, like purses, makeup, smelly things…
Daniel sneezed. Jack poked him in the side. "It's bad enough that we're the only males," he hissed. "Don't bring attention to us."
Daniel sniffled. "I'm sorry. I forgot to take my antihistamine this morning."
Teal'c was looking around with interest. "What seems to be the purpose of this activity?"
"This is called scrap booking," Carter said. "And we're here because Cassie wanted us here to help carry things in."
"Because it's a fundraiser for the school?" Daniel sniffled.
"Yes," Carter said. "And Cassie asked for us specifically."
"Right." Jack looked around again. "I usually order corpsman to do these kind of things." Another car pulled up to the door, and SG-1 got up from their positions, sitting by the door. Jack started to grab a large, dark, roller carrier, but dropped it. "That's heavy!"
The lady smiled at him, uncertainly.
"I shall take it, O'Neill." Teal'c grabbed it up and put it on his shoulder, then pulled another carrier out.
"Show-off," Jack said, as he grabbed a couple of smaller bags. Carter and Daniel took the car behind them, as the lady gaped at Teal'c. "It took two of us to put it into my car!"
"Murray is a bodybuilder," Jack told her.
"Well. Okay. Thank you for helping!," she said. "My name is Angela." She looked around at the room, then headed towards the line. "Which child is yours?"
"Cassie Frasier is the godchild of all of us," Jack said. He looked around. Cassie was flitting from table to table, making sure all of the ladies had little treats in front of them.
Angela looked at Cassie and frowned slightly. "I'm being nosy – is it true that her real parents died in an auto accident?"
"Yes," Jack said.
"So good of Janet to adopt her." Angela looked around. "I'm surprised Janet isn't here."
Jack sighed. "She had to work today, so Cassie got us," he said. "She seems to be doing well, all things considering." All true, but what he couldn't say was that Cassie was the last inhabitant of her whole planet.
"First time doing something like this?" she said.
"Does it show?"
"Where do you work?"
Angela nodded. "Norad."
"Deep Space Telemetry."
She snorted. "Right."
Jack was a little alarmed. "You sound like you don't believe us."
"Well," she said. "I work in a small bookkeeping firm right next to Dad's Place, where a lot of the soldiers come to relax?"
"Even we can tell that soldiers who come from the base aren't exactly the kind of soldiers to sit and do deep space telemetry." Angela smiled at Teal'c, pointedly, who was still balancing the box on his shoulder. "That thing must be eighty pounds."
"Like I said. Bodybuilding," Jack said. "Don't speculate too much beyond that."
"I've lived here long enough," she said. "I keep my mouth shut." She looked at him speculatively. "You look like a commander. A colonel?"
"Yeah? What do you think the rest of our team is?" He knew he shouldn't be interacting with the woman like this, but he was curious.
Angela smiled. "Murray is definitely a soldier, but not from our military. Your young woman there moves like a soldier, but I've heard her talk… she's less of a soldier than she is a scientist. Her, I would believe in deep space telemetry." She looked at Daniel, with his long hair and glasses. "He's definitely a civilian geek."
"Gee," Jack said. "What gave him away?"
She smiled back at him.
"You're pretty bright, yourself," he said. "Tell me, why do you do stuff like this?"
She blinked. "Oh, I don't know," she said. "Creative outlet, I suppose." She got in line, waiting to check in. "You know who else doesn't fit?"
Jack looked around the room. The room was starting to fill up with ladies. To his eye, they all looked from middle aged on up, with a couple of younger ones and at least one child under ten. He looked around the room again. "They all look pretty much alike to me."
The woman gave him a look that said "men." She pointed with her chin. "That one in the far corner. The new art teacher."
Teal'c caught her comment and looked over to the corner, as the lady looked back at them. "O'Neill, I believe that lady is…."
"Murray," O'Neill said, warningly. His gaze sharpened, and Angela stared at him.
"Are we in danger?" she said, quietly. "Is she a felon or something?"
"No," O'Neill said. "But I wouldn't go near her."
She stayed sitting in the corner, occasionally glancing up at Teal'c. Her skin was a pale white, and her hair was a cross between bright red and auburn. Unlike the other ladies, she wore a white shirt with a sash across her breast. Jack couldn't see below her waist, but as she stood up, he could see that she wore a skirt. Most of the rest were wearing t-shirts and jeans.
O'Neill looked around for the rest of his team. They were two people behind. Sam was chatting cheerfully with a white haired lady, Daniel looked slightly miserable, sneezing and coughing and apparently hoping that he could go back outside. Where was Cassie? He hadn't seen her for a while, then, with a shock, he noticed that she was approaching the odd lady.
Teal'c casually put his burden down and started to move towards the pair. Cassie was smiling at the lady, and pulled her hand to bring her up to the team. "Oh," the lady said in a lilting accent. "I'm sure they don't want to meet me."
"Indeed," Teal'c intoned. "I am very interested in you."
"Yes," Jack said. "We are."
She looked at them sharply, especially Teal'c. "Well," she said. "I am much interested to find out why someone like your friend here… is here."
"I understand that you're the new art teacher?" Jack said.
Cassie looked between the two uncertainly, then looked sharply at Jack. She closed her mouth and stopped smiling. "Jack?" she said.
"It's all right, Cassie," Jack said.
"I am not a child," Cassie said. "Is there something wrong?"
"Maybe," Jack said. "And no, you are not a child. You're a young woman."
"I will be back in that corner," the art teacher said, "when you finish. I'm not going anyplace." She looked almost warningly at Teal'c. She strode off, glancing over her shoulder. Cassie followed her.
"Well," Angela said. "That was fascinating. Do I need to be alarmed?"
"Oh, not yet." Jack smiled slightly. "I don't think we'll be whipping out machine guns at a scrap booking event."
"Well," Angela said. "That's a relief." She stepped up to the table, checked in, and the check in person pointed her at a table. "I'm by the art teacher. She said. "Well, I can do some reconnaissance for you."
Jack hesitated. "Are we that obvious?"
"Yes," Angela said. "But," she said, looking around the room at the ladies chatting away unconcernedly. "Maybe just to me." They trundled her stuff to the table. The art teacher glanced up at them, then looked away. Jack looked at her table. She seemed to have the average amount of things that most of the people had around here, and her pictures seemed to be of… Disney parks. Disney Parks? A Goa'uld who likes Disney?
They went back up to the entrance. Jack snagged Carter, who was still in line. "We may have a situation."
"Sir?" Carter blinked. "Here?"
"Yes." He shrugged. "Keep your eyes open."
"A situation?" Daniel sniffed.
Jack rolled his eyes. "I won't even tell you to keep your eyes open."
"That's good." He grabbed a tissue out of his pocket. "I don't think I could if I tried."
Jack and Teal'c went back out into the parking lot. Another lady was pulling up. Jack looked in the car doubtfully. "Are these people moving in for the night?"
"Just until midnight, I think," another man said, coming up. "I don't understand it."
Jack peered at him. "Jenkins?"
The airman blushed. "Yes, sir."
"I thought you were…" Jack shut his mouth before he could say "off-planet."
"We got back yesterday morning," Jenkins said. "Found out last night after we debriefed that I was shanghaied into this."
Jack recalled that Jenkins was one of the few family men in the Stargate teams – a cultural anthropologist.
"You, sir? Why are you here?" He looked around suspiciously, like there were Goa'ulds in every corner.
Well, there was. He brought his attention back to Jenkins. "Cassie," he said.
"Ah. Yes, sir."
"Do you know anything about the new art teacher?"
"Cassie introduced us to her new art teacher."
Jenkins frowned. "Only that my daughter really likes her. Says she makes art come to life - not literally, sir," as he saw Jack crinkle his face.
"Murray is a bit suspicious of her," Jack said, letting the man's imagination fill in the lines.
"Really, sir?" Jenkins looked a little alarmed. "Do we have a situation?"
"Maybe. Stay alert."
"I knew you're an anthropologist, Jenkins."
He smiled slightly. "Yes, sir." He wandered off.
After a few more loads, the room seemed filled to capacity. "Are there any more people to unload?" Daniel said, shivering in the cold.
"You know, Daniel, you could step inside."
"I could," Daniel said, "if I want to sneeze."
"I'm going to need you inside to talk to the art teacher."
"Yeah." Daniel looked miserable. "I know."
Daniel wiped his nose, then they went back to the gym. Teal'c and Carter, who were stationed inside the door, nodded to them. "I suppose it would be too suspicious if we descended on her, en masse," Daniel said.
"I'll go, sir," Carter said. Jack looked for Cassie. She was sitting by the art teacher, looking defiant. Carter, smiling, went to Cassie, laid her hands on her shoulder, and talked to the art teacher. The art teacher looked wary, finished cutting a picture with an instrument that looked vaguely dangerous, then placed it down on the table. She smiled at Cassie, then the three of them approached the men. Angela, facing the same direction, stared at the group, but remained sitting. Jenkins, standing at the other side of the room, looked wary.
"Gentlemen," the lady said. "I believe we need to talk."
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"I believe you to be a Jaffa," she said.
"And you are a Goa'uld," Jack said.
Cassie frowned. "Miss Belisama is not a Goa'uld." She looked at the woman. "I know she has Naquada in her blood."
Jack blinked. "And you didn't say anything?"
"In the middle of class?" She shook her head. "I'm cooler than that."
"Belisama," Daniel said, and sneezed. "The Celtic Goddess of crafts."
"I use Minerva as my first name these days," she said, chewing her lip. "And I suppose you might call my symbiote a Goa'uld." She sounded like she was listening. "Belisama tells me that she considers herself to be Tok'ra."
"You're the host?"
"Of course," she said. "My name used to be Anwen Barton in the old country." She looked around. "I was born in 1940. My grandmother was the former host."
"Where did she encounter the Goa… Tok'ra?" Jack said.
"My grandmother's grandmother." Minerva smiled. "But Belisama tells me that she originally came from Egypt. She would like to talk." She lowered her head and closed her eyes. "What are Jaffa doing on the Tau'ri home world?"
Jack had no doubt that Belisama was now the one talking. "Teal'c is fighting with us against the Goa'uld."
Teal'c jerked his head up. "I was the former First Prime of Apophis."
"And you abandoned Apophis to fight with the Tau'ri?"
"The Goa'uld are false gods."
"Of course they are!" Belisama said. "That's why I…" She stopped and chewed her lip. "After all of these years, I still lie to myself. I was left behind when Ra abandoned Egypt. I was in what is now called Ireland. But the longer I was away from the Sarcophagus, I came to realize that the machine causes delusions of grandeur. I've been passed from one warrior chieftain to another, but for the past couple of thousand years, I've lived a quiet life, mostly along Anwen's line, moving from one place to another.
Daniel looked at Jack and sneezed. "I had a sarcophagus addiction once," he said to Belisama.
"Are you trying to bond to the Goa'uld?" Jack said.
Belisama raised her eyebrows. "Paranoid much?"
Daniel smiled. "Have you ever heard a Goa'uld talk like her?"
Jack ignored him. "What are you doing near Cheyenne Mountain?"
Belisama blinked. "This is where my job is. I'm a Tok'ra without a fight." She sighed. "I'm not even sure I know how to fight anymore." She raised her eyebrows. "Are you telling me that there's a Chapa'ai around here? In the USA?"
Jack stayed silent, and she nodded. "I see." She looked wistful, then shook her head. "I would ask whether I could fight, but I think it's been centuries too long for me." She shook her head. "I am getting close to the end of my life. Perhaps another 50 years or more." She nodded her head. "Since you are aware of the Goa'uld, I would understand if you wish to imprison me."
Cassie grabbed hold of her hand. "Uncle Jack…?" she said. "Miss Belisama has been at my school all year. I've been watching her. She is not a Goa'uld."
"That wasn't your call, Cassie."
"Sir." Carter said. "Don't be too hard on her."
"I was a teenage girl once, sir."
"I take it, my dear," Belisama said, looking at Cassie, "that you weren't born here?"
"I was born on Hanka," Cassie said.
Belisama nodded. "One of Nirrti's planets. I am so sorry." She hugged the girl.
"Cassie," Carter said. "You knew that Miss Belisama was a Goa'uld, but I'm surprised that you didn't tell your mother."
Cassie hung her head. "Yeah."
"Out of curiosity, why?"
"I was in the middle of class," she said. "I was going to tell Mom, but then she seemed so nice that I decided to keep it a secret."
"I wondered why you were so shy." Belisama said.
"Couldn't you tell the Naquadah in Cassie's blood?" Jack said to Belisama.
"Well," Belisama said. "It's been a long time. I knew there was something special about Cassie, but I wasn't sure what it was."
One of the heads got up and grabbed a microphone, and Jack started. "It's time for our first raffle!" She glanced at the group by the door. "Do you all have your tickets?"
Belisama pulled a ticket out of her pocket, smiled, and held it up.
"The first raffle is for this Sissix!" the lady said.
"Oh," Belisama said. "That's those new die cutters. Those things are expensive."
Jack looked puzzled. "What are they for?"
Belisama pointed. "See that machine over there?"
He looked at a machine. The owner was feeding some paper into the front. "It's a paper cutter?"
"It makes letters and cut outs and anything you can imagine." She smiled.
"See, Jack?" Cassie said. "I didn't think she was dangerous."
Jack sighed. "I will have to tell General Hammond about you."
"But I'm going to recommend that you don't seem to be dangerous."
"Thank you," Belisama said, ironically. "I don't think I've been dangerous for years."
"Jenkins?" Jack said. Jenkins approached. "Belisama is a Tok'ra, but I'm going to recommend that you keep watch of her. Aren't you trained as a teacher?"
"Yes," Jenkins blinked. "Of course."
"Would you like to have some on planet duty for a while?"
Jenkins smiled. "Yes, sir."
"I'm going to recommend that the high school have a new social studies teacher for a while."
"Wouldn't the school system object?" Jenkins said.
"I think the US government can convince the school board," Jack said.
Daniel sneezed. "Do you need me here anymore?"
"Would you like to go?" Carter said.
"I'll stay, sir," Jenkins said. "I had plan on staying, anyway."
As they walked away from the school, Teal'c, who had been silent for a while, glanced at Jack. "Are you certain that was wise, O'Neill?"
"No," Jack said. "But the alternative was to take a well loved art teacher in custody."
"And break Cassie's heart," Carter said. "I think that Cassie can be trusted to do the right thing."
"She is quite the young woman, isn't she?"
As the rest of his team walked off, he looked back at the school. Was he getting soft in his old age, or was he just a sucker? He hoped he wasn't either.
But how was we going to explain this to Hammond?
"You do realize," Carter said, "That the General's grandchildren go to this school."
Then again, maybe he would understand, and hopefully his ass wouldn't be grass.
Well, a miracle could happen, couldn't it?
Suddenly, staying all day in the gymnasium with fifty loud ladies didn't seem so bad. "Campers, I'm going to stay here and keep watch of Belisama."
"Chicken," Daniel said. "You just don't want to talk to Hammond."
"I'm protecting the scrapbookers."
"Of course, sir," Carter said, but she smiled when she thought he wasn't looking.
"Right," Daniel said. "I think you just want to play with the paper." He grinned, then sneezed.
"Remember that," Jack said, "the next time I save you from Ba'al."