Thanks to my beta, Monica, and to all those who provide feedback.
"I look absolutely ridiculous," Sam moaned, regarding herself in the long mirror in the ornate frame. A peaked headdress, for all the world like the top third of a Christmas tree complete with dangling ball ornaments and strands of something a little like tinsel, was perched precariously on her head. Her long green dress, a little snug on her tall, toned frame, had huge winged shoulder pieces that also had balls dangling from them. She poked her foot free of the yards and yards of hem to reveal shoes that would put an elf to shame, complete with little bells on their curled tips.
Captain Dana Mulder of SG-10 struggled valiantly to say the loyal thing, but her "no, really, you look fine," was punctuated with so much involuntary giggling that it wasn't really helpful.
Colonel Cam Mitchell, lounging in the doorway, made no effort whatsoever to be supportive. Instead, he started singing 'Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree.'"
Looking over Cam's shoulder, Dr. Daniel Jackson thought that while it was not the most flattering thing she'd ever had on, Sam, as always, still managed to look very beautiful. It always cut him to the quick to see her unhappy in any way and, trying to be upbeat, he offered, "The outfit isn't that remote from costumes worn by some Balinese dancers during the dancing that accompanies the…"
Teal'c materialized behind him and cut him off. "DanielJackson, I find the Balinese most interesting but I do not think ColonelCarter wants to hear about them right now."
Cam suppressed most of a snigger and said, "You'll only need to wear it for a couple of hours or so and you'll make the local 'powers that be,' including your brand new daddy, ecstatic by your respect for local custom. These folks will only trade with people they're related to and, until you pulled that little kid out of the lake and gave them an excuse to adopt you, we weren't getting within a country mile of their naquada."
Daniel had jabbed Cam in the ribs on the word 'new,' but it was too late. Sam had been reminded of her late father, a wound that still pained her. Sam said with asperity, "I had a dad, a wonderful dad. Bel Min is NOT my new daddy. Let's not get TOO much into the moment."
Further conversation was forestalled by the arrival behind Cam, Daniel, and Teal'c of two more members of SG-10. A real log jam was developing in the doorway. "Colonel Carter," one of the new arrivals said, "they're asking you to come to the head of the stairs to be ready for your grand entrance."
"If only they'd let me use the lift," she moaned as she shuffled forward, walking normally completely out of the question between the shoes and the headdress that teetered uncertainly with every step. Local women appeared to manage similar get ups, but it wasn't something you picked up in the half an hour she had spent so far decked out like she was waiting for a bunch of presents to be shoved under her skirts. As she passed Daniel, he whispered, "You'll do just fine," and gave her an encouraging smile which she returned warmly. She could always count on him to be there, encouraging her.
The smile was immediately wiped off his face the moment she was past him. He was more than a little worried about the ceremony. Because of the ludicrous styles worn by the locals, some very quaint customs, and the ridiculous name attached to the world by its citizens, the SG teams had frankly been more than a little patronizing in their attitude toward the population of P4D92, otherwise known as Poopoo. Daniel had tried to tell the officer in command, Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, that they were too relaxed and oblivious to the real threat Daniel saw, but Cam hadn't been particularly worried.
Daniel had noticed the razor sharp knives on everyone's belts and the prevalence of knife scars on faces and arms. Daniel had noticed how easily people took offense and he had put it all together to conclude this was a culture where saving face was very, very important, where very little provocation was required for people to resort to violence to defend their honor. Their hosts had drilled Sam mercilessly for two days about the adoption ceremony which was only supposed to last about ten minutes. It seemed critically important to them that she have every detail down perfectly. Daniel hadn't been able to get a straight answer as to what would happen if she flubbed any. He sighed. She hated any of them being protective of her but he couldn't help himself. He cared way too much and far more than anyone had ever guessed.
Daniel was incredibly tense through the entire proceedings, moving his lips silently along with her responses and holding his breath every time she had some ritual move to make. At the end of the ten minute ceremony, he found he needed to mop sweat off his forehead, but Sam was still in good standing with her new family.
A party was the remaining hurdle to surmount. Fortunately for Sam, who could barely move in her finery, she was only expected to sit on a high stool next to Bel Min and receive the guests without having to circulate. She didn't speak the local language and was confined to an increasingly frozen and pained smile as her only response to the congratulations Daniel translated for her from the endless line of well-wishers filing past. Each of them clutched a mug with pictures of childbirth painted on it in unsettling verisimilitude and filled with a spiked fruit punch. A servant with a tray full of mugs stood slightly behind Sam and saw to it she never ran out of drink. The custom was for Sam to conclude her interaction with each of the guests by clicking her mug with theirs and taking a sip. The problem was that there were so very many sips.
It was apparently inappropriate for Daniel in his role as translator to drink anything. He actually started to take a mug off the tray and had his hand slapped. As a result, he was in the unenviable position of rapidly becoming the only totally sober person in the room. The stuff appeared to be very potent. The locals had developed something of a tolerance for it but he noticed that Cam and Teal'c and the members of SG-10, despite barely sipping a mug out of politeness, were all mildly tipsy. Sam was on her way to being totally wasted. Given his relative inability to tolerate strong drink, he was now grateful no one had let him have any. Sam was clearly not going to make it out of the reception hall unaided. He moved unobtrusively closer to her and began to support her. She leaned back against him gratefully and it sent a pang of longing through him.
When the party ended, Sam slumped bonelessly against him. He put his arm around her waist, easing her off the stool and unto her feet, braced against his side. Bel Min took his eyes off the cleavage of the extremely buxom woman he had been flirting with ponderously for the past few minutes to say pugnaciously to Daniel, "Where are you taking her?" It was unclear to Daniel what his problem was. Before he could seek clarification, Bel Min's wife, Kil Min Bei, a tall woman with iron grey hair and a determined look on her face, marched past them, grabbed Bel Min's friend by the hair, spun her around, put her foot on her ample backside, and pushed her hard. The victim flew across the polished floor and sprawled in an ungainly heap. Moments later, she was back on her feet and lunging toward her assailant with a dagger in her hands. A deadly serious cat fight began and the preposterous clothes weren't funny any more.
Daniel half-dragged Sam from the room as quickly as possible, completely ignored by the few remaining guests and members of Sam's new family, who were in a circle around the two battling women, calling encouragement and, it appeared, possibly making bets. They negotiated the halls with some difficulty. Sam's headdress fell off twice and she tripped over her shoes repeatedly. Finally Daniel took off the headdress, handed it to Sam, and then picked her up and put her over his shoulder. Fortunately she was a happy drunk and thought it was all uproariously funny. She started to sing a Christmas carol, beating out the rhythm on his backside. Although he'd tried to suppress them, he'd had some pretty interesting daydreams over the years about her coming in contact with his backside but they had never involved a scenario like this. He thought wryly, "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it."
When they reached the suite she had used to change, he dropped her on a large divan. She grabbed his shirt and pulled him down on top of her, saying coyly, "Oops," and going off into a giggling fit. He struggled to get off of her but every time he peeled one hand off, she'd grab him with another one.
"You look pretty silly, Daniel," she said with distinctly slurred speech.
"I look silly," he repeated. "And you don't?" He had finally captured her wrists, one in each hand, and forced them to the divan on either side of her face.
It was at that moment that there was a huge gasp from the doorway. Bel Min and his wife were standing, staring at them, looking absolutely appalled, with a small multitude gaping behind them. Bel Min pulled the woman to the side and gestured to the two hulking guards behind him. They immediately moved past him into the room, grabbed Daniel, and literally held him up in the air. Daniel was extremely confident of the fighting skills Teal'c and Jack had taught him, but reasoned that fighting back would probably provoke an even bigger diplomatic incident than appeared to have already occurred.
"You have insulted my daughter's honor," Bel Min barked in Jaffa instead of the local tongue. He knew Daniel was far more fluent in Jaffa, used on Poopoo as a trade language. He clearly wanted to make certain that there was no risk of misunderstanding. Standing well over 6'3" with a Dom DeLuise size bulk, he was most impressive. Getting right in Daniel's face, he yelled, spraying him with spittle in the process, "What do you plan on doing about it?"
Daniel tried very hard to maintain his calm. "I'm uncertain as to what I have done to your daughter's honor," he said, also in Jaffa, trying to sound conciliatory and thinking furiously. Could they possibly be that angry because he was alone in the room with her and lying on top of her?
"I asked you a question, Tauri," Bel Min responded, jabbing his chest with a massive finger.
"What you like me to do?" Daniel asked, completely at sea.
"Die or marry her," Bel Min responded, baldly.
Sam was laboriously coming to a sitting position. At least she had stopped laughing, Daniel was relieved to note. "I can't marry Daniel. He's like my brother. That would be…," she groped for the word in Jaffa, beyond her in her state. She gave it up and said, "Icky. Icky. Icky." The mere thought of being married to him being described as icky cut Daniel more than he believed possible. He told himself she was drunk and didn't mean it the way he was taking it.
"That's your final word?" Bel Min said to Sam, soundingquite unhappy.
Daniel realized then that Bel Min had been dead serious in presenting the two options. Bel Min really didn't want to kill him, knowing full well that this would cause a major firestorm with the Tauri but Sam wasn't getting the gravity of the situation at all. She said, triumphantly, "No. My final word is incestuous. It would be incestuous." She smiled, very pleased with herself.
Bel Min shrugged. His wife said, peevishly, "Not in here. The blood will stain the carpet." He jerked his head toward the door and they began to carry Daniel out. He had decided now was the time to quit worrying about a diplomatic incident and kick some ass when it all finally registered with Sam.
"Wait just a minute." She was sounding more sober by the syllable. "Surely, you're not really going to kill him. Believe me. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing."
"That makes virtually no difference," Bel Min said. The point ishehas been seen in your room, scandal enough, and on top of you, my daughter. The honor of my house demands no less."
"How about if we just leave right now? Go back through the Stargate?" Sam offered.
"The adoption is irrevocable. His actions are irrevocable. You must make up your mind immediately. The longer we wait, the more the dishonor grows," Bel Min said implacably.
She threw her hands up in the air and said, still tipsy enough to be rather indiscrete, "What a nightmare. I CAN'T believe this is happening. You leave me no choice. Of course, I'll marry him." She couldn't have sounded more disgusted if she had tried.
"Don't do me any favors," Daniel said. The situation was comic opera but she had been pretty damn insulting as far as he was concerned. Did she have to use words like nightmare and icky when talking about him? Perhaps it would have hurt less if he hadn't wasted way too many hours imaging being married to her. She didn't treat the prospect like marriage to a leper in his fantasies.
Bel Min's wife swung into action immediately. Daniel was escorted briskly to another room to be more appropriately dressed, but not before he heard the impressive string of commands issued. A team of women was assigned to change Sam's clothes. Evidently one did not get married looking like a Christmas tree. Guards were sent to round up the other Tauri to witness the ceremony. A servant was ordered to prepare a nuptial chamber and another to fetch a priest.
Less than two hours later, an odd assortment of people, many rousted from their beds, were assembled in the reception hall. Daniel was completely miserable and lacked the energy to take comfort in the fact that weddings were apparently austere occasions and his outfit was extremely simple by local standards. A pleasant older couple, looking very befuddled, had been pressed into service to act in the place of his parents. When a gong was sounded somewhere, his surrogate parents escorted him to the middle of a circle formed by standing guests. The Tauri were disarmed and under heavy guard on one side of the circle. Cam tried to object to the proceedings and was struck across the mouth. The gong struck again and a very pale, sober but queasy looking Sam was escorted to Daniel by Bel Min and Kil Min Bei.
They stood facing each other, but Daniel refused to look at her. He knew he was being unreasonable but he couldn't help being very hurt. He was also quite angry, more or less at the world in general. Slights by pretty girls and the popular crowd in school when he was young and, he admitted it, the ultimate geek had never healed. He hadn't been a geek since before he ascended but it felt like he hadn't shaken the popular perception of being the last man you would ever think of romantically. Vala's comment, "I haven't been so disappointed since I had sex with Daniel," a real lie if there ever was one, floated into his mind. He was so mired in his unhappy thoughts, he was barely aware of what was going on around him.
The priest came to their side and put Sam's hands in Daniel's. They were each required to repeat vows, offered in Jaffa for the benefit of the visitors, that included "obedience" for Sam. Cam had regained his sang-froid sufficiently by then to audibly snort at that word. The whole sorry affair was even shorter than the adoption ceremony. The local guests were confused, tired, and/or grumpy, the SG personnel were angry, and Sam and Daniel were both very, very unhappy. Daniel was relieved that no one took any photographs but he and Sam did have to sign an impressive looking document before they were escorted to the wedding suite, unceremoniously pushed inside, and the doors locked behind them.
Sam said bitterly, "My whole life I've dreamed about my wedding day and that travesty was not it." She plopped on the bed and pulled a pillow into her arms. "Wrong guests, wrong dress, wrong groom."
"It's nice to see such a magnificent demonstration of grace under pressure," Daniel said, surprised that he even had the energy to be sarcastic. "You take the bed and I'll sleep on the divan. I trust you won't mind if I help myself to the quilt." He pulled the comforter out from under her, earning himself a bewildered, hurt look, carried it to the other side of the room, and took his boots off. He laid down, his back to the room, and pulled the quilt over his entire body including his head. He just wanted to hide away for awhile.
Sam said, baffled, "Daniel, are you mad at me?" He had always been there, her kind, sympathetic friend. This was new and she didn't like it at all. "Surely you are as disgusted with this turn of events as I am? I'm your buddy. I must be the last person you'd ever think of in this role."
"Disgusted. Right. Go to sleep Sam," he directed her. "Oh, and you might chew on this. Remember the decision that was made a couple of years ago? Off world marriages are valid on Earth. We have divorce court ahead of us."
He turned his head under the blanket and peeked out at her. She was sitting on the bed, a single tear running down her face, tired and very, very discouraged. He felt like a heel but he just couldn't go over to her and hide how he felt. Not now. Surely in the morning he could be supportive again. Surely.
There will definitely be more.