Stargate SG-1/Barney Miller/Benson (with allusions to Highlander and Sentinel)
If this were a movie, it would be PG .
Originally published in Chinook #6, a Canadian fanzine. Hurrah for Canada!
Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters, I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. That's it, typing practice. I'll return them to their actual owners (relatively) undamaged. This is an amateur work of fiction; no profit beyond pleasure was derived from the writing.
Murder Most Faire
Stargate SG-1/Barney Miller/Benson
by Susan M. M.
Teal'c looked around. He saw swordsmen in doublets, Elizabethan ladies in farthingales, and a would-be Xena in a leather bustier, with a fake raccoon tail hanging from her rump. "Explain to me again the purpose of this gathering."
"To prove the old saw about a fool and his money," muttered Colonel Jack O'Neill.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
Major Samantha Carter hastily explained, "It gives people a chance to dress up, to listen to music and see live entertainment instead of watching MTV."
"And to pay $5 for a turkey leg," Jack quipped.
"Your televisions shows and movies look to possible futures: Star Trek, Blake's Seven, Babylon 5, Star Wars. This Renaissance Faire looks back to an era four hundred years ago." Jonas Quinn lowered his voice, "And our project spends millions of taxpayer dollars to visit other planets. Doesn't anyone on your planet focus on the here and now?"
Jack turned to face the alien. "Why do you think the Earth is such a mess?"
"I came here to watch the Morris dancers, listen to some hammered dulcimer music, and to get Ron Harris to autograph Murder Most Faire. If you'd like to relax and enjoy the RenFaire, you're welcome to come with me. If you're just going to be contrary for the sake of pure orneriness, then you can go that way," Sam pointed left, "while I go this way." She pointed right.
"Yes, Mother." Jack pretended to be chastised.
"Arrgh. You're impossible," Sam declared.
Jonas opened the program, changing the subject. "The falconry display is in half an hour at the jousting field, or the storyteller at the Jester's Stage."
Jack inhaled sharply. Back when he and his ex-wife had belonged to Friends of Faire, those had been Charlie's two favorite activities. He'd only been to a RenFaire once since Charlie had died, when he'd taken Daniel last year. "Why don't we just wander a bit, go window shopping?"
"Can one purchase windows here?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes, of course," Jack said with a straight face. "Mostly small stained glass ones."
Teal'c glanced at him, one eyebrow raised, as if he suspected his friend was tweaking his nose, but not quite sure how. Discretion being the better part of valor, the Jaffa warrior turned to Sam. "What is Murder Most Faire?"
"It's Ron Harris' new mystery novel. It's set at a RenFaire. He's here selling autographed copies," she explained.
"I thought Harris wrote police procedurals. I figured you more for an Agatha Christie woman," Jack commented as they walked past a jester juggling four apples.
"What, sweet old ladies sipping tea in the vicarage and sussing out clues? I'm a scientist, Jack. I like something that uses actual forensics," Sam replied.
Teal'c stopped to examine some handcarved African art. Daniel Jackson had told him that his own ancestors had come from that continent. The others joined him, Jack barely glancing at the arts and crafts, Jonas examining them all with interest. Samantha bought a brightly colored Nigerian basket.
"What's that for?" Jack asked.
"To carry my purchases in," she replied matter-of-factly.
The colonel raised an eyebrow. "Planning to be a spending fool?"
"I just might. After all, we spend so much time off-world, I don't have much opportunity to hit the mall." Nor much need, she realized, since most of the time she wore uniforms and ate at the base cafeteria.
They stopped to listen to a trio playing a bodhran, a lute, and a deer-bone flute. Jack tossed a Sacajawea dollar into the hat.
Teal'c looked at the hand-dipped candles at the next vendor's booth. "The Tau're have electricity. Why would your people buy candles?"
"Because they're pretty," Sam said. She looked at a few candles herself, then told the merchant: "I might come back later."
The candlemaker smiled and nodded, not believing her. Everyone said that.
A herald shouted, "Make way, make way, for the Queen's Grace!"
A crowd of people in Renaissance garb came forward. One was dressed as Elizabeth I. The rest were dressed as courtiers or guards. Some of the crowd stared, a few oohing and aahing at the exquisite costumes. Some of the crowd (those in garb themselves) bowed or curtsied.
"God save the queen," yelled one of the bystanders.
"God save the queen!" echo'd the courtiers and about a third of the crowd.
'Good Queen Bess' bowed her head, regally acknowledging the salutes.
A middle-aged African-American couple approached from the other direction. They had an escort, too – a uniformed police escort. The gentleman wore a business suit; the lady wore RenFaire garb. The police were not prepared to make way for a make-believe queen, but a few quiet words from the lady in the blue bodice and cream-colored skirt convinced them to step to the side of the path.
The queen's eyes widened in recognition, and she bowed more deeply to the pair. Her courtiers did likewise.
"Who is that?" asked Teal'c.
"I believe that's the governor." Jonas turned to Sam and Jack for confirmation.
Sam nodded. "Gov. DuBois and his wife, ex-Senator Hartford-DuBois."
"Real Horatio Alger story. He went from butler of the governor's mansion to state budget director to lieutenant governor. Eventually ran for governor himself. Got more brains than most politicians," Jack admitted grudgingly.
"Horatio Alger?" Jonas' study of Earth culture hadn't included that reference.
"He wrote boys' books about a hundred years ago. Hackneyed formula plots, but very popular at the time. Young hero goes from poverty to fame and fortune by a little hard work and a whole lot of luck." Jack added, "My grandfather had a batch of them."
"O'Neill, may we stop and examine the weaponry?" Teal'c wandered over to the swordsmith's booth without waiting for an answer.
The others followed him over. Teal'c and Jack looked at the swords with professional interest: claymores, broadswords, rapiers, katanas, scimitars. Teal'c picked up a Scottish dirk with pockets inset in the scabbard for a matching fork and spoon.
"Very nice reproduction," said the man next to him. He had long dark hair drawn back into a ponytail.
The dealer looked up at the dark-haired man and smiled, recognizing him. "Hey, Mac, what do you expect for these prices? You're the antique dealer, not me."
Mac laughed and wandered over to examine a replica of a baskethilt sword.
"What is the purpose of these weapons?" Teal'c asked Jack quietly. "Most of them are unfit for warfare."
"Just for display." Jack glanced up, startled to see Sam buying a bodice knife. "Why are you getting that thing? You don't need an oversized butter knife."
"It's a bodice knife. You tuck it into your bodice," Sam explained, as she deposited the blade in her basket.
"You don't have a bodice."
A bagpiper stood in the shade of an oak tree, playing 'Mairi's Wedding.' O'Neill tossed another Sacajawea dollar in the tam o'shanter at the piper's feet.
They walked past the jewelry booths. Carter stopped to look at nearly everything.
Finally they reached a long line leading to a small red tent.
"You really want to wait in line that long to buy a book?" Jack asked. When Sam nodded, Jack looked around, then pointed. "We'll wait for you over by the storyteller. At least there's some shade there."
The men headed first to the "tavern," where they bought beers for themselves and a Diet Pepsi for Sam, then to the storyteller's area. Seating themselves on haybales, they listened to the tale of Ben Burns' Borrowed Beard while they waited for Sam.
Despite its length, the line moved fairly quickly. In only a few minutes, Sam found herself in front of a card table. Behind the card table sat Ron Harris, who bore more than a passing resemblance to pictures she'd seen in history books of Frederick Douglass …other than the fact Douglass had never worn an Armini suit. On one side of the table sat piles of books: mostly Murder Most Faire, but a few copies of Blood on the Badge, Manhattan Murder, The Detective's Dilemma, and his other books. On the other side were a pewter goblet and a half-empty bottle of Perrier.
"Two copies. My agent and I thank you," Harris said. "How would you like these made out?"
"One to Sam, and the other should say Merry Christmas, Jack," she directed.
"Christmas?" Harris glanced at the bright summer day. "You're shopping early."
Sam smiled. "I prefer to avoid crowds at the mall."
Harris smiled back in sympathetic understanding. "There you are. Thank you, m'lady."
"Thank you." Sam placed the books in her basket and wandered over to the storyteller, looking for her colleagues. It only took her a moment to find them. Jack silently handed her the Diet Pepsi. The ice had started to melt, diluting the drink. Nonetheless, it was cold; it was wet. Sam drank it without complaint.
"So the royal messenger reported back to King John, 'They're all mad there! They gave me hay and water, and gave my horse beef and wine. They banged drums all night to help me sleep, and shushed me during the day, so the silence could help me stay awake. I don't know if it's something in the air, or something in the water, but they're all mad there. Stay away,' the messenger pleaded. 'My thanks for the warning,' the king said. 'I'll build my new castle elsewhere.' And that," the storyteller concluded, "was how the people of Gotham fooled King John, and convinced him they wouldn't make good neighbors." The audience applauded.
Sam whispered, "Why did they try to trick the king?"
"Having a king as a neighbor means higher taxes," Jonas whispered back.
A fire-eater replaced the storyteller on the stage. After five minutes of corny jokes (and a very little fire-eating), Jack caught the eyes of his team mates and then looked at the path. The jokes were very bad; the four needed no discussion. They stood and walked off. They wandered past the brass rubbing tent and a vendor selling suncatchers, mirrors, and decorative bits of stained glass.
"Window shopping," Jack murmured to Teal'c. The Jaffa nodded, but said nothing.
Jonas wandered over to a booth selling ocarinas and listened, fascinated, as the saleswoman demonstrated a tune on the clay instrument.
"Aha," Sam said in a satisfied tone.
Jack looked up to see what had caught her attention. "Oh, no."
"What is wrong?"
"We just reached Threadneedle Row. Where all the clothing merchants are," Jack explained. "From the look on her face, we're going to be here a while."
Teal'c looked at his team mate, thought of his wife in the market, and nodded.
Sam examined bodices, chemises, kirtles, gowns, and skirts. She fingered the material: the soft black velvet of the noblewomen's gowns, the white cotton of the chemises, the oatmeal-colored linen of the blouses, the tapestry-covered bodices.
Jack glanced at the price-tag on a brown corduroy bodice and winced. "It's a lot of money for something you can only wear once or twice a year."
Sam shrugged. "It's my money."
"Would've been cheaper to have kept that blue dress the Shavadai gave you."
Ignoring him, she took a dove gray gown, suitable for a Tudor merchant's wife or a minor gentlewoman, off the rack. "May I try this on?"
"Of course, m'lady."
The gray gown didn't fit quite right. And the black velvet noblewoman's gown was likely to be too hot. The green Irish skirt (bodice and skirt all in one garment) wasn't what she was looking for. Sam proceeded from one merchant to the next, looking at all the clothes, trying on some of them.
"If you don't want to wait for me, I can catch up with you later," she offered at the third clothing merchant's. "Should I meet you for lunch?"
The three menfolk exchanged knowing looks. Jonas pulled the map out of his pocket, and they double-checked the location of the food court.
"Great. See you there in a while," Sam said, her attention on a less-than-authentic peasant's underskirt.
"Whadhya think, guys? Will she meet us for lunch or won't we see her until dinner?" Jack asked.
"I'm sure she won't be that long," Jonas replied, but his tone was far from certain.
"Women and shopping appear to be a universal phenomenon," Teal'c observed.
"Amen, brother," Jack agreed.