Morning Rituals

by Layton Colt

Sam sat against the temple wall, pulling pieces of grass from the ground and then throwing them back. Teal'c stood beside her, his staff weapon held vertical, alert for any sign of danger. "When did they say they would be back?" Sam asked.

"They said they would return within the hour, Major Carter."

Sam made a face. It had been two. The Colonel had contacted her a moment ago, saying that Daniel had apparently found some fascinating writings on the wall that just had to be further explored. He had been obviously annoyed, but had given into Daniel anyway.

She didn't blame him. Daniel had been through a lot lately, and this was the first sedate mission they'd had in . . . well, as long as she could remember. This place was heaven on Earth for the archeologist. The buildings were ancient, abandoned, and surrounded by a mystery Daniel was determined to solve.

They had found an underground tunnel system, and Daniel had been gung-ho and ready to explore it. Colonel O'Neill hadn't been about to let him go alone, so they were under there now, in five feet hallways, twenty feet under ground.

Sam and Teal'c were guarding the entrance. It had been fine, at first. Despite that Teal'c wasn't going to make the SGC's conversationalist of the year, they had talked briefly about past missions and Sam had occupied herself taking mineral samples.

They had run out of things to say an hour and a half ago. And unless she wanted to take a few samples from Teal'c, she'd taken all she could. She looked up at her stoic companion, noticing how the planet's three suns brought out the golden tint to his skin. She looked at his eyes, and noticed his kohl (Teal'c insisted it was kohl, and not 'make-up' as Jack claimed) was on perfectly again.

It shimmered quite nicely, she noticed. And the way it went up slightly at the edges . . . very nice. She put up her hand to cover her eyes from the sun. "Hey, Teal'c," she said.

"Yes, Major Carter?"

"What kind of eyeshadow is that? I love the color. I've been meaning to get myself some darker eye shadows." In case she ever got a weekend off and could maybe try that dating thing again.

"It is an Avon Powderstix, Major Carter, in Fiery Bronze."

"Classy."

The corners of Teal'c's mouth lifted slightly. "Indeed."

Things like saving the world multiple times had the military paying for all of Teal'c's needs. It killed the Pentagon to have to keep him supplied with makeup, cable, and ice cream, but they did it.

"I may have to get one of those," Sam said. "Do you think it would look good on me?"

Teal'c looked down at her. "Indeed, however, I believe Jungle Sunset would complement your coloring more so than the Fiery Bronze."

Sam thought on this. "Jungle Sunset?"

Teal'c took off his back, and brought out a small black case. He handed it to Sam. She looked at him curiously before taking the bag and opening it. She gaped. "Teal'c! You've got makeup in here."

"Our mission here is for two days, Major Carter. I must remove the kohl at night and reapply in the morning."

Of course. Sam guessed she'd been thinking he just slept on it and woke up with it still perfect. Like the people on T.V.

"Jungle Sunset is in the bag, next to my T.LeClerc Pressed Powder Bronzer."

"You use a powder bronzer?" Sam gasped. "I thought it was natural."

Teal'c raised his eyebrow. "This gold hue could not be natural, Major Carter. Jaffa are not born sparkly."

Sam was inexplicably thrown into a coughing fit, trying desperately to remember to breath. Had Teal'c just said 'sparkly'?

"Well, it looks great on you," Sam rasped once she had recovered.

Teal'c nodded regally. "So I have been told."

Sam pulled out a TweezerMan and stared at it in disbelief.         

"Have you located the Jungle Sunset Powderstix?" Teal'c asked.

Sam shook her head. "No. I didn't know you used so . . . much."

"Skin care is vitally important to the life of a Jaffa," Teal'c told her solemnly.

"It is?"

"Indeed. Apophis liked his soldiers to be well groomed. He placed the Jaffa who did not follow their morning rituals on the front lines."

Sam's brow furrowed. "I never knew that."

"It is not a talked about practice. Our appearance is such that we may appear as servants to the gods in the eyes of slaves and conquered worlds."

"Makes sense," Sam nodded. "But why do you still do it?"

"Much has changed since my time on this world, Major Carter. Despite the fact that this was a ritual I was made to perform by the law of Apophis, it is familiar. I would find it quite hard to end this habit."

"Well, you're really very good at it. I suck at makeup. I was too busy playing with Matt Mason to ever practice with Bonnie Bell in Elementary school."

"I could provide you with some tips if you would like."

"Really?" Sam brightened.

"It would be my pleasure, Major Carter." 

* * * *

"Can we go NOW?" Jack demanded. He was tired, he was cramped, he was . . . dusty, and he really wanted to get the hell out of this labyrinth so he could get back to the surface and remind himself of the color of the sun.

"Jack," Daniel snapped. "For the hundredth time this hour, you're free to go. I'm going to finish this up, but I don't need you here."

Jack smirked, and waved the flashlight he was holding.

"Jack!" Daniel yelled.

Jack rolled his eyes and trained the light back on the area he'd been told to hold it. "See? You need me. I have the light."

"I have one too," Daniel reminded.

"Yes, but you can't hold your notebook, trace the glyphs on the wall, AND hold the flashlight."

Daniel pulled out his flashlight, turned it on, and then placed it between his teeth.

Jack glared at him. "Smartass." He reached over and grabbed Daniel's flashlight, before tapping him on the head with it.

"Hey!" Daniel yelled.

"Irritating as you are, I'm already in a cramped little dark tunnel. I'm not going to be down here with no one to talk to as well."

Daniel rolled his eyes in acquiesce. "Fine. Stay here then, but keep the light still. I'm almost done." 

Jack was wary. Daniel had been almost done an hour ago as well. "Really almost done?" he asked.

Daniel nodded. "I need a rubbing of this last portion and we can call it a night."

"Hallelujah."

Daniel rolled his eyes again and started the rubbing. He had to admit he was a little tired of being cramped up down here as well. This was his job and he was used to it, but the dust was doing nothing for his allergies, and his eyes were strained from the lack of good light.

"Okay," he said at last, looking at the rubbing in satisfaction and giving a small grin. "Done."

"Sweet," Jack smiled.

"Until tomorrow," Daniel continued.

Jack's smile faltered. "I'm sending Carter with you. She's smaller. She'll fit better down here."

"Jack, I'm sure Sam has been keeping busy up there, taking samples and searching for naquuada or other minerals that could be of use. She is more valuable to you up there--and Teal'c won't fit."

"When Carter leads her own team she can take mineral samples to her heart's content. Right now I'm in charge and I'm tired of holding a flashlight."

Jack led the way back down the hall, glad when the staircase leading back to the surface was finally illuminated by his flashlight. He started up the steps with a happy sigh, and as he stumbled back onto the surface he valiantly resisted the urge to kiss the ground. He was covered head to toe in dust and dirt, and the fresh air was tantalizing.

He looked up towards the sky, absorbing the sun. He heard Daniel come up beside him and lowered his gaze to look for Sam and Teal'c.

They were right across from him, both sitting cross legged on the ground, staring intently into each others eyes. Jack had just opened his mouth to ask what they were doing when he saw the object in Teal'c's hand. His vocal chords froze.

"You must spread the powder on lightly," Teal'c was explaining solemnly. "Many make the mistake of putting it on too thick."

"I've made that mistake," Sam said with a nod.

"Do not move, Major Carter," Teal'c demanded.

"Sorry, Teal'c."

"Sunset Jungle does indeed bring out your eyes. I believe some soft mauve blush would complete the look," Teal'c said proudly. He placed the Powderstix back in his pack and turned to face the other two members of his team. "O'Neill, Daniel Jackson," he greeted.

Sam smiled over at them. "Sir. Daniel."

"Carter," Jack said, echoed by Daniel's "Sam." Then they both followed with "Teal'c."

Sam's eyes were covered with a dark shadow, brought out slightly at the edges much like Teal'c's. Teal'c was right. It brought out her eyes.

"Busy taking mineral samples, huh, Daniel?" Jack asked.

"A cultural exchange," Daniel said without missing a beat. "Just as relevant."

"Sir?" Sam asked puzzled.

"Oh don't mind us, Carter," Jack said with a grin. "We didn't mean to interrupt the slumber party."

Sam frowned and Teal'c asked calmly. "What is a slumber party, O'Neill?"

"It's--" Jack started.

"Not important," Daniel finished.

Jack glared at him. Daniel gave him a hard look. You didn't want to bait the Jaffa.

"I see," Teal'c said deeply. His voice was dark.

Jack swallowed, grateful Daniel had forestalled his explanation about pink pajamas, bunny slippers, and pillow fights.

"You guys need to clean up," Sam said--trying in vain to be tactful. They were a mess. A dust covered mess.

"Thanks, Carter, I hadn't noticed," Jack replied sardonically.

Daniel took the flashlight from Jack's hand and hit him on the arm. Jack grabbed his arm in reflex and glared at Daniel.

"Ow."

"We're going to go clean up now," Daniel said, ignoring Jack's look of outrage.

Teal'c picked up his bag and pulled out one of the bottles. He held it out to Jack.

Jack took it warily, and looked down at it in confusion. "What is this?"

"It is a facial mask."

"A . . . a what?"

"A facial mask," Teal'c said again. "Your skin would benefit greatly from a Cucumber Peel, O'Neill." 

         The End.