I wrote this a while ago as a part of the George Hammond Alphabet Soup Tribute to Don S. Davis. Available at: sg(underscore)fignewton(dot)livejournal(dot)com/76967(dot)html

X is for Xenophilia
Wherein George, Bra'tac, Jacob, and Selmak sit around pretending to be old farts.

George Hammond's military career was built upon a vision of the world in black and white. The Cold War turned Earth into a battleground of 'us vs. them' with very little room between. As a subordinate, he understood the necessity of this vision for the stability and smooth workings of the modern military machine.

There was the enemy and there were the good guys.

It served its purpose. At least until he took command of what was meant to be his final posting. From the moment SG-1 formed, he'd known command of the SGC would require a hell of a lot of grey.

Boy, had he misjudged.

How could he have ever known those long years ago that his last hurrah, his dead end command before retirement would land him on the crumbling cliff's edge of the galaxy?

Black and white don't exist in the SGC. Instead there is blue and purple and neon green streaks of yellow when you least expect it. The old categories are useless when it comes to intergalactic politics.

'Us vs. Them' is what he's been fighting since the first day an SG team slipped into a wormhole. He's had seven years of explaining this change of circumstances to his superiors. And, hell, sometimes it's like beating his head against a trinium iris.

Most days he's convinced this job is way too much for him, that maybe he's not up to the relentless demands of his post.

Of course, it's hard to feel old while he's sitting on an alien planet sharing a damn fine bottle of something not quite scotch with a 139 year old Jaffa Master and a 2,000 year old Tok'ra while members of the SGC and their allies enjoy a well deserved celebration in a rare calm breath of the galaxy.

He never could have seen this moment coming when he took this job.

George swirls his glass, watching the liquid catch alien sunlight. "Have you ever considered retiring?" he asks of his companions.

Jacob gives him a wry grin, but Bra'tac simply looks confused.

"It's something humans do when they think they are too old to work. Put themselves out to pasture, so to say," Jacob explains.

"Ah, I understand," Bra'tac says. "It is not something we have faced. Jaffa who are past their prime simply are not granted another prim'ta. Their usefulness has passed."

George has seen first hand that dying from a lack of a symbiote is not a particularly peaceful way for a warrior to die.

"Cheery thought," Jacob comments, his own bias against the Goa'uld's beastly habits clear.

Bra'tac does not take offense at their obvious horror; all three of them having learned long ago that there are some issues on which they will never find common ground. That might have bothered George, before. Now it's just another inevitable piece of the pattern to life out here.

"But thanks to tretonin, this 'retiring' will be something we will have to face," Bra'tac says, nodding to Jacob in acknowledgment of the Tok'ra's contribution. Jacob tilts his glass towards the Jaffa Master in response. "I can only hope to die in battle before I become a burden."

"There's that," George says, demurring to Bra'tac's own code of honor. "But I was thinking more along the lines of spoiling my grandkids and taking up golf."

"Certainly has its appeal," Jacob says, probably thinking of his own distant grandkids. "Though it's hard to seriously consider it when I have Selmak currently listing all the reasons golf is a stupid game."

George laughs. "She's probably right. I take it retirement isn't a big thing among the Tok'ra either."

Jacob shrugs. "They've all got that whole life debt, the-mission-is-greater-than-any-one-individual thing going. Plus, with the arthritis gone, it's harder to find an excuse to be a grumpy old ass."

"Though you still manage quite well," Selmak interjects, earning a hearty guffaw from Bra'tac.

"I always believed being ill-tempered to be the reward of advanced years," Bra'tac notes, taking another sip of his drink.

"Well put, my friend," Jacob says, slapping Bra'tac on the arm.

George leans back in his chair a bit, analyzing the warmth spreading through his body and considering the possibility that his two alien friends might be just a little bit sloshed.

"What about you, Hammond of Texas?" Bra'tac inquires.

"Yeah," Jacob says. "You ever regret not retiring while you had the chance?"

It's been seven years since he made the decision not to walk away from the alien portal gaping perilously at his feet. Since then he's seen enough evil and wonder and things completely beyond his comprehension to fill an entire damn rainbow.

He's stepped through a puddle of light and ended up halfway across the galaxy in less time than it took to take a breath. He's flown second seat to a Jaffa on a renegade mission to save his people without the benefit of his superiors' permission. He's seen aliens of every shape and persuasion, and currently calls two of them among his blessed intergalactic circle of friends.

Who the hell needs black and white when you've got that?

George lifts his glass to his comrades-in-arms. "Not on your life."