A/N: Someone mentioned the story needed a Part II, so here it is. Hope you like. (Please remember, in Its Good to be King, Harry was known as King Archon to his subjects.)
CHAPTER 2: GIVING THANKS
Fifteen minutes later, a wet, bedraggled pair of Tauri officers returned to Harry Maybourne's village. They were greeted by the formal welcoming party that had been commissioned to wait for them. King Harry, it seemed, wasn't altogether confident his guests would be making it back to Earth anytime soon.
"You have returned," one of the villagers observed. "Let us bring you to shelter. We will provide you both with dry clothing."
Jack and Sam gratefully accepted the renewed hospitality of Maybourne's people. Simple as they were, Harry's subjects were loyal and unerringly determined to make their King's guests as comfortable as possible.
"King Archon awaits your presence for today's feast," the appointed hostess announced once Jack and Sam had changed into dry clothes.
"We are honored," Sam said as she began to follow the native woman to one of the larger enclosures. Jack followed her, accompanied by another member of Harry's court. As Sam turned back to flash him an encouraging smile, he nodded slightly, signaling that he intended to cooperate as best he could given the circumstances.
Jack's mood improved noticeably once he'd been able to change into dry clothes. Fortunately, the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared just in time for an early sunset. Now as Jack and Sam approached the Tent of Celebrations, as Harry Maybourne had christened it, they heard the sounds of merriment.
"Some party they're having in there, Carter," Jack quipped in her ear as he came up behind her.
"Yes, Sir," Sam answered, turning to face him as they approached the entrance to the dining area. "And we are going to have a good time, aren't we, Sir," she added, taking the liberty of old friends rather than scripted soldiers. As she spoke, Sam took in the flowing robes Jack had been given for the occasion. In spite of himself, he looked so relaxed, she couldn't help but smile. This might not be so bad after all, she thought.
"Yes, Carter," Jack said sweetly, "we are going to have a good time. But remember our deal about calling me 'Jack' for today. If you insist on calling me Sir, I'm afraid my gratitude index … well, I can't predict what might happen."
"Fine, S… Jack," Sam answered. "Then you know my name too, right?"
"As a matter of fact, I do, Sam," he answered, a sweet smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye.
At that very moment, their host met them at the entrance of the Tent. Harry was in his glory, presiding over the newest celebration to grace King Archon's court. The phrase "full of himself" didn't begin to describe things. Still, king of a whole planet, purveyor of a harem of beautiful women, you could hardly blame Harry for his larger than life persona today. And that was how he greeted his old Tauri friends and colleagues.
"Jack, Sam, welcome back!" he called enthusiastically. "I'm so glad you're here for our Thanksgiving feast. And may I say you both look wonderful in our native garb." Then unable to help himself, Harry briefly ogled Sam. She certainly looked beautiful in the royal blue silk robe provided for this celebration. When he finally managed to drag his eyes away from the blond Lieutenant Colonel, Harry winked conspiratorially at Jack. Fortunately, Sam missed this interchange. Undoubtedly, she would have leveled Maybourne, King or no, where he stood. As it was, Jack flashed him a look that said it all. Harry simply shrugged. His loss, he thought.
Harry, or King Archon as his subjects continued to call him, escorted his guests to their places of honor at the holiday table of sorts. In actuality, all of the celebrants were sitting around a low table, positioned comfortably on the floor supported by luxurious pillows. Sam and Jack would be no exception. Positioned next to Harry at the head of the table, their designated spots were uncomfortably close together, their pillows touching, with little room to alter the situation.
When in Rome, Jack thought, finally giving in to the reality of their predicament. "Come on, Sam," he encouraged.
Once his guests had taken their seats, "King Archon" took center stage, literally, climbing a small stage erected for this very occasion. And he began his official proclamation.
"Our guests have arrived. It is time to begin our celebration in earnest," he said. "I proclaim the first Celebration of Thanksgiving in our kingdom to be officially underway. This is a time when we gather to share our profound gratitude for the blessings of our lives. Food, shelter, friendship and most importantly, love," he added with a flourish, fixing Jack and Sam with a meaningful look.
Seated shoulder to shoulder, Sam couldn't help but blush at Harry's words. And Jack, well, he fiddled more than usual with the eating implements in front of him. He was so going to strangle Harry when the opportunity presented itself. Maybourne knew exactly what he was doing. If Jack didn't know better, he'd think Harry had purposely sabotaged the gate to keep them here for this little shindig. Fine, so he was being paranoid. A little paranoia never hurt, he thought.
Still as Jack looked around the tent, even he had a hard time sustaining a foul mood of any sort. Fresh fruits and vegetables were piled plentifully around the table, dwarfing the traditional cornucopia. Just outside the tent, barely visible through the open side of the enclosure, were large slabs of meat roasting on spits over open fires. As Jack took this in, he turned to Sam and quipped, "Those don't look like turkeys, do they?"
"No, they don't," was the simple answer.
"Any idea what they are?" Jack asked, hoping for reassurance.
"Not really, but it's probably something similar given the oxygen based environment of the planet," she said, smiling and realizing Jack's appetite was taking a hit as she spoke.
Despite the not quite turkey and the array of slightly out of the ordinary food, much of which had been creatively named by "King Archon", both Jack and Sam enjoyed the festivities. They ate and drank far more than they'd anticipated, generally entering into the spirit of the celebration. And as the night wore on, and the party continued, both soldiers continued to relax, their minds letting go of the regulations that kept them apart, at least a little.
So it was that when Sam leaned in to lay her head on Jack's shoulder as she listened to the music and watched the spirited dancing of Harry's harem, Jack didn't pull away. Sure he sat stiff as a board, but he didn't pull away.
Then he caught the eye of his host. Good old Harry, he knew exactly what was going on, that sly fox. Now better known to his subjects as the feted "King Archon", Harry Maybourne sported a Cheshire cat grin as he took in the sight of Jack and Sam seated so close together. Finally, Harry couldn't help himself. As the music built to a crescendo and the excitement of the dancing increased, he leaned over and whispered to Jack.
"For crying out loud, General," he said, "enjoy the moment."
Harry was right, Jack realized. This was their moment. Granted, it was only a moment, but theirs nonetheless. And without further ado, he shifted slightly, lifting his arm gently around Sam's shoulders, pulling her closer to him.
If Jack harbored any worries about Sam's reaction to his move, he needn't have been concerned. Looking down to gauge her reaction, Jack caught site of Sam's upturned face. He was greeted by the megawatt smile he loved so much. Now that was a reason to be thankful!