Keeping up Appearances

Set sometime between Carter becoming a Major and Janet dying ; Samantha feels compelled to keep up with a competitive school friend, and drags Daniel along for the ride…

And I am in no way affiliated with MGM, the SciFi channel or anyone affiliated with Stargate. I write for my own pleasure and anyway, I'm a poverty-stricken student, it's not worth suing me over.

Chapter One

Major Samantha Carter was hard at work trying to reverse-engineer the latest bit of technology they'd pinched from the Goa'uld when her mobile phone rang. She glanced at the name on the display: Tiegan King. Tiegan, her close friend and often bitter competitor from high school. There had been four of them, Samantha, Tiegan, Sarah Ashley and Alanna Murphy. Though their jobs had taken them far and wide, they still made an effort to catch up via weeks away together every six months or so. Samantha took it that this meant Tiegan was organising the next getaway ; it was about the right time, and the only time that Tiegan ever called her.

Tiegan and Phillip King had this thing against single women in their social circle ; something about them bringing bad luck, upsetting the balance or some such thing, like Samantha would hit on all the married men and upset their wives. Samantha had always found in interesting that it was OK for single men to be part of that social group. Not that she cared, the more time that passed between them the less Samantha and Tiegan had in common, but still…

Sometimes she wondered why she bothered to go to these things. It was always good to catch up with Sarah and Alanna, of course, but really, it was high school, she had come a long way since then.

She hit the receive button. "Tiegan," she said smoothly.

"Samantha!" Tiegan said with false warmth. "How is everything? You still working on that astro-whatsit?"

"Oh, fine, fine," Samantha murmured. "And yes, I am." Tiegan liked to let people know that she was rising in the ranks of the CIA ; she liked to hint at the state secrets she knew. When Tiegan started to brag like that, it always made Samantha smile inwardly. Clearly, there were some state secrets she didn't know about.

"So, I was organising a week away," Tiegan got straight into it, not bothering to ask any more questions about Samantha's life. "Next month, the third to the seventh. You free?"

Samantha checked her datebook. She wasn't sure if it was a good or a bad thing that she was free. SG-1 was clear for mission for that fortnight, having earned a break. She'd actually been wondering what to do with herself. Jack was going fishing, and taking Teal'c with him ; he had made it clear that, as much as Samantha was 'one of the gang', it was a men-only thing. That had made her smirk. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"I'm free," she said. "Are Sarah and Alanna in?"

"Yes… and their boyfriends," Tiegan informed her. The last three words sounded suspiciously tacked on. Subtlety had never been Tiegan's strong point. "So that makes seven of us."

So that was the point she was making ; three attached women, and Samantha. Tiegan always had a field day about Samantha's unattached state. Several times Samantha had to choke on the reply that she was too busy saving the known universe to find a boyfriend.

She wasn't sure exactly what possessed her to say it, but she blurted out, "Eight. I didn't realise we were bringing partners." They never had before, Samantha had a suspicion it was arranged that way this time solely for her benefit. "I'm sure my boyfriend would love to come."

"Boyfriend?" Tiegan asked, sounding suspicious.

Samantha laughed, except it sounded more like a choke. "Yeah, my boyfriend… you know, we go out on dates, spend a lot of time together… are a couple." Oh, boy, how did she get out of this one?

"Oh." Needless to say, Tiegan sounded very surprised. She couldn't remember the last time Samantha had a boyfriend, she was so geeky and work obsessed. "Oh, I'm sure that will be OK. What's his name?"

"Daniel," Samantha blurted out before she'd thought about it. Oh, God, how was she going to get out of this one?

"And what does he do?" Tiegan asked. "So I can tell the girls."

Like hell you want to tell the girls, Samantha thought. You just want to catch me out. Well, there was no help for it now and if there was one man in her life that she knew well, it was Daniel Jackson. "He's a linguist, a Doctor, the most brilliant man I ever met," she said. "I can't wait for you to meet him, Teegs, he's got the most intense blue eyes and not exactly difficult on the eyes." May as well milk the situation for all it was worth given the difficulty of getting herself out of it.

"Oh." Tiegan sounded a little disappointed. "Well, then, I guess we'll see you and Daniel on the third then. "

"I guess you will," Samantha said. "Thanks for calling. Take care."

"You too," Tiegan said before hanging up the phone.

Samantha put her phone down and stared at the wall, panic starting to rise up in her stomach. Oh, God, what was she going to do now? She couldn't show up to this week away with no boyfriend in tow – she would never live it down. Her only alternative was to admit everything to Daniel and throw herself at his mercy.

She decided of the two, she would rather face Daniel. That, or bail altogether, which Tiegan would take to mean she'd been lying about her boyfriend – almost as bad to fessing up to it. And she didn't want to miss it – as competitive as Tiegan could be, Samantha had always enjoyed their weekends away. Plus, if she could actually convinced Daniel to go ahead with her plan, the look on Tiegan's face would be priceless.

Oh, God, was she actually thinking this? But the alternative…

She gathered up her courage and made her way to Daniel's office where, typically he was entranced by whatever artefact he was studying now. Samantha couldn't really blame him, give her a piece of alien technology to study and she'd be just as absorbed.

She knocked on the door and Daniel looked up, shocked out of his reverie. He smiled when he saw Samantha ; she hadn't been exaggerating when she'd told Tiegan Daniel had the most brilliant blue eyes. Not to mention a killer smile. And the greatest thing was, he didn't know just how damn attractive he was. "Hey, Sam," he greeted her warmly. "What's up?"

She took this as an invitation to scoot into the chair opposite him – after closing the door so no-one would hear their ridiculous conversation, of course. "I need your help," she admitted sheepishly.

"On a translation?" he asked.

"No, I uh…" Oh, to hell with it, she decoded to just blurt it out. "An old friend of mine invited me to a week away, and she was really high and mighty about me being the only single woman there, so I kind of told her I had a boyfriend… and I gave her your name… and description… and now if I don't show up with you, she'll never let me forget it."

"So you want me to go with you and pretend to be your boyfriend for a week?" Daniel asked.

"Five days," Samantha corrected. "Monday to Friday. We've got a week off, I checked. I can't believe I'm asking you this, but I'm desperate."

"Why are you friends with someone who makes you feel bad about not having a boyfriend?" Daniel asked.

Samantha didn't bother to explain ; men could never understand such things. Girls could be incredibly bitchy and competitive with each other ; it helped them remain competitive and driven, even if it could get a little heavy-haded sometimes. Samantha doubted she would have ever had the drive to become a Major in the airforce if it hadn't been her initial desire to get one up on the likes of Tiegan James, as she had been known then.

"I'll pay you," she said lamely.

Daniel raised his eyebrows in surprise. "You must be desperate," he said. He wondered what kind of 'friends' she had tat she would resort to such tactics to impress them. Not that he though he was all that impressive, but if she was desperate… "You don't have to pay me, Sam, if you need me that badly, but you will have to pay all my expenses." If he was going to be stuck with a bunch of women who sounded pretty bitchy, damned if he was paying his own way as well.

Samantha nodded gratefully. Daniel had just saved her from abject humiliation at the hands of Tiegan King, any price was reasonable as far as she was concerned. Impulsively, she crossed the distance between them and hugged him tightly.

Daniel had never contemplated anything between him and Samantha, although he wasn't adverse to being hugged by an attractive woman. "And no-one else is to know about this. OK?" he added ruefully. "I wouldn't want anyone to know you've got me completely pussywhipped. And you owe me big time."

She looked up at him and gave him a grateful smile. "Whatever you want," she promised, her eyes sparkling.

Why don't we start with you staying in my arms a little while longer? Daniel thought. Now, where had that thought come from? He had always thought of Samantha platonically… or at least fallen into the habit of squashing any nonplatonic feelings for her for the sake of his marriage, now dead along with his late wife Sha're.

That reminded him… reluctantly, he pulled away from Samantha and tugged at his wedding ring. "Should try and lose the tan line then," he said.

Samantha knew that he never took his wedding ring off, even though Sha're had been dead for a few years now and lost to him for two and a half years before that. "Daniel, you don't have to do that," she said.

"And explain why I'm still wearing my ring when we're so happily in love?" Daniel asked, trying to hide the pained expression on his face as he slipped the ring into one of his desk drawers for safekeeping. It was strange how it felt to take off that ring – it was mostly habit that he wore it, and a sense of loyalty to the woman he had loved so much… but who he'd fallen out of love with long before she'd actually died.

Samantha looked at Daniel in awe. She must really mean something to him – as a friend, of course – if he would take off his wedding ring to go along with this little charade. She vowed she would make it up to him with something really special. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Thankyou," she said.

When she displayed affection like that, Daniel found it hard to begrudge her something like the absence of a wedding ring from a marriage long dead. "Hey," he said gruffly, not wanting her to see how affected he was by her show of affection, "It's not like I had anything better to do anyway. But how about we just tell people you're spending the week with some old friends and I'm going with you?" Being this close to Samantha might be affecting his thinking, but he could think straight enough to know that he would never live it down if people knew he'd agreed to be Samantha's boyfriend for a week. All the hassles of having a girlfriend and none of the perks.

A thought occurred to him. "Will we have to share the same bed?" he asked.

Samantha hadn't thought of that. "Uh… probably," she admitted. "The place we usually go to is a four bedroom with Queen-sized beds… I can sleep on the couch of you want."

"I think I can manage to share a bed with you, Sam," Daniel said with a smirk, although if she kept looking at him with that happy, grateful expression… "We've slept in close proximity before. I just wanted to know, so I'm prepared. Is there anything else I should be made aware of?"

"Just that Tiegan can be quite… aggressive sometimes," Samantha said.

"You mean bitchy?"

"I wouldn't say bitchy exactly," Samantha said cautiously. "She just makes herself feel better by putting others down sometimes."

"Yeah, I call that bitchy," Daniel said. Not to mention insecure. But he'd agreed to go, and who knew, it could end up being an interesting experience. Or he could end up never wanting to speak to Samantha again. Oh, Christ, why had he agreed to it? He should have just let her stew in her own juices – it would have served her right, for saying such a stupid thing in the first place.

Still, he was kind of flattered that, when she was bragging about her nonexistent boyfriend, the first man she'd thought of was him – and not Jack. Maybe that was what possessed him to agree, his bloody ego. Well, there was no going back now. He couldn't bear to have Samantha angry at him after she was so grateful he'd agreed to it.

The fortnight passed routinely, with no major hassles like saving the world one more time to deal with. Jack and Teal'c were really excited about their fishing trip – or, rather, Jack was excited, and Teal'c was excited by proxy – and didn't pay much attention to the fact Daniel was going with Samantha on her week away with old schoolfriends. Jack figured it was just a matter of Daniel not having anything better to do with his fortnight off, and since Sha're had died, he and Samantha had been awfully chummy…

They were driving down, it not being worth the cost of the airfares. "Thanks once more for this," Samantha said gratefully as they started off.

"I won't say 'anytime' because this is a one-off," Daniel assured him. "And you owe me."

"That I do," Samantha agreed. She owed Daniel far more then he would ever realise, because he would never appreciate the crap Tiegan would have given her for showing up without a man – or not showing up at all. But, oh, it would be wonderful to show up with her 'boyfriend' – especially a 'boyfriend' as hunky as Daniel was. Samantha had met Tiegan's husband a few times, he was quite a successful lawyer, but no prize in the looks department.

They talked the entire trip there with their usual chumminess. Samantha came to the conclusion that the reason Daniel had sprung to mind when she'd said she had a boyfriend was that of all the people she knew to share a long car trip with, Daniel was number one. She had a feeling that was Daniel there, these five days with Tiegan weren't going to be nearly as bad as she'd first anticipated.

They found the house easily enough – a sprawling four-by-one that Tiegan had rented for the week – and pulled into the driveway. Daniel gave her a sympathetic little smile. "You ready to do this?" he asked.

She nodded. She was apprehensive about pulling this off, but looking forward to seeing Tiegan's face when she introduced them. "Yeah," she said. "I'm ready."

"Then let's get this show on the road."