Jack O'Neill curses as the rain that held off all day starts to splatter on his windshield. By the time he gets home it'll be pouring. He bypasses the highway entrance ramp and drives through town. He's in no mood to sit in traffic with this kind of weather. He spent his whole day writing and reading reports.
A flash of movement on the side of the road has him slowing down. Later on he could never say what had him stop. The car behind him blares it's horn and he waves the guy around him as he pulls onto the shoulder and hits the flashers.
A group of bushes are shivering so he heads that way. Suddenly a thin pointed snout and short triangle flop ears poke through the foliage. Dark brown eyes stare up at him. The dog emerges from the tangle of leaves and stalks closer to him.
Jack can see she's thin and soaking wet. His heart clutches when he sees she's nursing puppies. He keeps his voice low and friendly. "Hi, girl. I'm Jack."
The dog cocks her head and stays low to the ground but moves closer. She's about an arm length away but he stays still. He can see her nostrils quivering as she takes in his scent. She comes closer and sniffs his shoes and legs throughly.
"I feel like you're buying a car, here beautiful." He laughs. The dog looks up at him and finally wags her tail. Jack holds out his fist and she sniffs it. Another wag of her tail confirms her trust. She turns away and heads back to the bushes.
"Hey, come back here!" He chases after her and stops short when she returns with a pup. "Oh." The infant dog is tiny. Probably only a week or so old. "Okay bella. Gotcha. Kids first." He moves carefully to the small nest of puppies. Instinct has them quiet and he scoops up the other three and carries them out to the truck.
He opens the passenger door and Bella hops in. He settles his three pups next to her and looks for a cloth or something. Jack remembers his workout bag and empties out the running shorts and t-shirts and places the puppies into the duffel. The dog sniffs the bag and barks once.
"Yeah, I know. It has to be washed. But it keeps your kids from sliding around and they are warmer in there." Jack shakes his head. "So I'm gonna call you Bella for now, ok?" His new friend barks again and wags her tail. She stares out the windshield and then at him.
She couldn't have made it any clearer if she had shouted. Jack laughs. But in the few minutes it took to find her and the pups, the rain has shifted to sleet and his windshield is starting to freeze over. "Gonna be a few minutes there girl." He tells her as he starts the engine. The heat gets turned up and the vents adjusted. The ice on his windows melt quickly and he pulls out into traffic.
Bella sighs and presses her nose on the side window.
"Nope. Windows stay closed."
Jack swings off the road heading to his place and heads to the strip mall. He remembered seeing a pet superstore there.
"So Bell, what do you need?" At the stoplight he checks for a collar. Her fur is all matted and tangled. Jack shudders to think of the fleas and probably ticks on her. "So probably the works." As the heat has filled the cab she's inched closer to the vents. "Yeah probably feels good."
The pet store is the first turn after the light, so he swings close to the entrance. The truck slides a little as he slows it down. "Aw, crap."
The sleet is turning to freezing rain. "Ok, Bella I'll make this fast. Food, collar, shampoo, bowls and a leash."
He isn't quick enough to keep her in the truck. A sharp bark has him grabbing the wiggling duffel bag.
"Ok, let's try this. Heel." To his surprise she trots at his heel into the store. The duffel bag goes on the seat of the shopping cart and Jack heads straight for the food aisle. He shakes his head at the variety. But he sees food for the pregnant dog and grabs it. Two big bags.
"I know I'm a little late, girl, but hey it should help." The noise from the duffel bag is getting louder. "Damn. Let's pick up the pace."
Jack whips through the rest of the store grabbing bowls, a leash, a blue collar with stars, "You're an Air Force dog now," he tells her. Several chew toys find their way to the cart and a big bottle of dog shampoo. Even a fancy grooming tool. A big bed is the final item. The price tag makes him wince a little.
Back in the truck the duffel bag is whimpering and scooting around. Bella is looking a little desperate and Jack puts the puppies on the seat. They scoot toward their mother and latch on and start to nurse. It's a little crowded on the seat, but it's not far from the store to his place.
Jack hauls his pet store bags into the house and sets up the food and water in his kitchen. The bed gets lined with an old towel and set in a sunny spot in the dining room. Jack dashes out to the truck and unlocks the door.
Bella has been watching out the window. He sees her tail thump as he comes back. She lands next to him and heads off to examine the yard. She picks a spot and squats down by the bushes near the front door.
Jack chuckles as he lifts up the duffel bag. "Yeah, good idea, girl."
Bella follows him into the house and stands waiting while he places the pups in the dog bed. She nudges them in place and heads into the kitchen. He hears her crunching the food and lapping at the water. The scrape of the bowls on the floor pulls his attention away from the chess problem on his board. He hears the click of her nails as she explores the house.
He fills both bowls again and checks on the puppies sleeping in a fur tangle. He nudges the bed into the sunlight a little more for the warmth. Jack settles back into the den with a water and his chess problem. Suddenly a warm weight rests on his knee. He looks up and sees Bella staring up at him. He realizes it's the first time she's actually touched him.
He rubs behind her triangle ears and she closes her eyes and sighs. "You're welcome, girl."
She thumps her tail once and heads into the dining room. Jack leaves the chess board and digs out his address book and calls his old vet.
He fills the water bowl again and she pads into the kitchen to drink. "The kids keep you busy," he tells her. Even though there's still food in her bowl Jack tops it up. Bella hesitates and looks up at him. Jack squats down. "There's always food here, beautiful," he tells her. He turns away and smiles to himself when he hears her eating.
The next morning scratching at his bedroom door reminds him of his new roommate. "Coming, Belle!" he calls out. Bella is at the front door when he comes up the stairs. He lets her out and she dashes to the same area as last night. Overnight the freezing rain turned to snow and his lawn is coated white and sparkling. Bella finds a drift and burrows into it.
Jack laughs as she rolls in the snow and comes up with her head and snout coated white. "You're soaked," he tells her. She bounds over and leans on him. His sweats soak the water off her fur. "And now so am I. If you like water that much, girl, we're gonna have to get you a bath!"
She barks and climbs on the porch. Jack follows her into the kitchen and pours his coffee. Bella slurps up some water and eats a little food and settles in with her puppies for their breakfast.
After a shower and clean clothes he finds a heavy cardboard box and lines it with warm towels. He packs the puppies into the box and heads out to the truck, knowing she'll follow him. She hops in the truck and he slides the box in next to her.
In the vet's waiting room Bella sits and stares at him. "Yeah, I tricked you." He admits. "But we gotta get you and the kids checked out." She nudges the box away from him a little. Jack laughs. When his name is called he picks up the box and Bella follows him. The vet checks over the puppies while Bella prowls the exam room.
"Well, you're right, Jack." The vet tells him. "Probably two weeks old. I'll give you a sheet for the puppies growth before you leave. They're healthy, mostly clean, and active. Nothing too much to worry about here. We'll start vaccinations when they're old enough. Probably chipping them too."
Jack nods. "Thanks Doc."
The vet grins. "Now for mama here." Bella is sitting by the door where she can see the box her pups are in. Jack puts the box down near her and she peers in. One by one each pup gets nudged and licked before she's satisfied.
Jack scoops Bella up in his arms and places her on the table. The vet talks to her quietly as he checks her ears and eyes. Bella whimpers as he takes a blood sample and barks as he takes her temp.
"Sorry, girl. I know it's not dignified." Jack apologizes to her. He rubs her ears until the vet is done. "Well she's thin. Not chipped. No internal damage that I can tell. No scars or cuts." The vet reports. "Luckily she's healthy otherwise. I'll run the stool and blood sample to make sure though."
The vet finally asks the question that's been on his mind. "How'd you find them, Jack?"
Jack quickly tells the vet how he saw the dog on the side of the road and pulled over. The vet whistles. "Lucky for them you stopped. With the weather last night, all five would have frozen." He shakes his head. "Probably someone dumped them all cause they didn't want a bunch of mutts."
Jack growls. "Idiots. So Bella looks like a border collie. Are you sure she's a mutt?"
"Probably. She's a little too big for a pure bred. Guessing some retriever or spaniel in her. Hard to tell with the puppies at this age, but maybe some terrier or a shepherd." The vet shrugs.
"Great, I've got 5 smart hard working dogs." Jack chuckles. "I'm surrounded by geniuses."
The vet looks startled. "Huh?"
He shakes his head. "Nothing Doc."
"One more thing. Bella has a few ticks. I'm going to have my office manager make a groomers appointment for her today. Get her cleaned up. We don't need the pups becoming targets. Or you."
"No problem." Jack scoops up his dog and places her on the floor next to the box. Again she checks each pup out. "When can I get her chipped and spayed and all that?"
The vet thinks about it for a minute. "A few months, I'd say. We have to wait till the pups are weaned before spaying. I can do the chipping then as well. And probably some booster vaccinations."
A few hours later Bella is freshly washed. She's had her paws cleaned and nails clipped. Her tangled and matted fur was clipped and all the fleas and ticks have been taken care of. She trots happily at Jack's side. She waits patiently by the truck as he unlocks his side.
"Home now, girl." He turns on the heat and the radio and heads home. Bella makes her customary stop in the kitchen for food and water before settling into to nurse her babies.
"Hey Jack! Daniel calls for him. He comes down the stairs into the living room.
"Daniel?" He looks at his friend. "What are you doing here?"
"When's the pizza coming? What kind did you order?" Daniel takes a seat across from him.
"Hello?" Carter's voice is heard in the hall. "Sir? Daniel?"
Carter and Teal'c appear in the hallway stair.
"What are you all doing here?" Jack asks. Bella noses her way between all the people in her house.
"It's team night, Jack." Daniel informs him. "Hey where'd the dog come from?"
Bella sniffs at Daniel's legs. She stiffens and sneezes. She sniffs one more time and sneezes again. She backs away and sits by Jack.
Daniel circles back to his question. "When'd you get a dog?"
"Yesterday." Jack quickly explains how he found Bella and her pups.
Meanwhile Bella has moved to examine Carter. She's finding something very interesting about the Major.
Jack chuckles. "She did that to me, Carter."
Sam holds out her hand and gets a tail wag. The dog looks up at Sam with her head cocked. She moves off to examine Teal'c.
Teal'c stands up and startles Bella. "It's okay Teal'c." Jack tells his friend. "She's just gonna smell you out. Get to know you a little."
Suddenly Bella growls. She sniffs at Teal'c's knees and cocks her head and growls again. She backs up and away from the big Jaffa.
She looks at Carter and comes back to smell her. She looks back at Teal'c and then at Carter.
"What's wrong, girl?" Jack asks.
Suddenly Sam understands. "Oh, wow, sir. I think I know." She strokes the dog's head. "I think Bella can smell naquada."
"What?" the rest of the team chorus.
Sam nods. "I think that's why she reacted badly to Teal'c too. "
Daniel and Colonel O'Neill exchange baffled glances. Teal'c nods. "Indeed, MajorCarter. She must have sensed my symbiote, which is a danger to her."
"How?" Jack bursts out.
"Have you not called the Go'auld a snake, O'Neill?" Teal'c observes. "A dog has a keen sense of smell. Perhaps the symbiote I carry smells similar to a reptile."
"Yeah!" Daniel has been thinking. "We used to have dogs on digs to warn of cobras. I bet the dog-"
"Bella," Jack interrupts. "I named her Bella." He reminds Daniel.
His friend nods. "So I bet Bella can smell the symbiote. I bet it's also why she was so interested in Sam."
Sam picks up the story. "Well, because I was host to Jolinar I have naquada in my blood. It's altered my body chemistry, according to Dr. Frasier. I bet Bella could smell it. But she doesn't know what it is, so it confused her."
"My dog is allergic to Daniel," Here Jack aims a smirk at his friend. "But can sense Go'auld?" They all look at the dog who is being petted by Sam.
"Fifth team member, Jack." Daniel suggests. The team laughs. Bella stands up and disappears into the dining room.
"So Jack when's the pizza coming?" Daniel asks again.
"I ordered pizza on the way here, sir." Carter assures him.
Jack smiles at her. "Thanks Major."
Just then the doorbell rings. Daniel unfolds himself from the love seat and answers the door. He ferries in the pizza after paying the delivery guy.
Bella looks up as the four humans file into her room. She growls at Teal'c and all the people near her puppies.
"It's okay, girl." Jack assures her. He loads his plate with sausage and mushroom pizza slices. He shooes his team out and watches Bella in her bed. He smiles at the small family and returns to his.