Written for Valenship on Gateworld. Again, I warn that the blatant fluffy shippiness is overt and cannot be controlled. Especially not by me.
Enjoy! And if you do, let me know.
Thanks for reading!
Obese Children Wielding Arrows
"What's wrong, T?"
"Nothing is the matter, O'Neill." But Teal'c was clearly perplexed by something. He sat straight in his chair at the commissary table, the plate of food before him languishing uneaten.
"Then why aren't you eating?"
Teal'c processed his thoughts for a moment before answering. "I am pondering the unusual and ineffective mating rituals utilized by the Tau'ri."
"Mating rituals—Teal'c, what are you talking about?" O'Neill set down his cup of coffee and placed both hands flat on the table. "What mating rituals?"
But Teal'c only turned his attention to the room around him. Shiny pink and red hearts decked the walls, lacy heart shaped doilies ornamented every table, and someone had hung red and pink streamers in a latticed pattern across the ceiling. Where the streamers crossed each other, paper cutouts of cupids carrying the traditional golden bows and arrows swung in the draft exuded by the base air filtration systems from ribbons that had been thumb-tacked into the ceiling tiles. Instead of the simple daisies that normally sat in tiny vases on the tables, huge pink flowers of some sort lolled in tall champagne flutes. The flutes had been tied with ribbons, and matching ribbons decorated the backs of the chairs.
"Oh—this?" O'Neill grimaced, nodding his head around at the over-wrought room. "It's Valentine's Day. Some people like to make a big deal out of it."
"Yes, O'Neill. Why would a simple day require such preparation and adornment?"
"Well, Saint Valentine was a—saint, of something—and his name was Valentine, and something happened on February fourteenth and that's why we celebrate it." The Colonel waved a hand airily. "At least that's what I remember."
"Which is precisely nothing."
Daniel chose that moment to approach the table. After placing his cup of coffee and bagel at his place, he sat heavily, wearily. "Good grief. Will you look at this place? It's like Hell—only pinker."
"It's St. Valentine's Day." Teal'c explained. "Apparently the Tau'ri celebrate the day for precisely no reason."
"Oh, there's a reason, Teal'c." Daniel took a sip from his cup. "Although there are varying stories as to what that reason is."
Teal'c merely sat upright, waiting for Daniel to continue.
"The most likely centers around an early Roman priest named Valentine—"
"See? I got the priest part right." O'Neill pointed at Teal'c with his fork.
"Indeed you did, O'Neill." But the Jaffa's attention returned quickly to Daniel.
"Anyhoo—this priest married people contrary to the dictates of Claudius the Cruel, who was the Roman Emperor at the time, and was eventually martyred for it—on February the fourteenth."
"Why were the Roman people not permitted to marry?"
"Because once they married, their priorities were not focused on warfare, but instead on their wives and families, so Claudius kept losing his soldiers to desertion." Daniel cut into his bagel with a plastic knife, sawing through it carefully.
"It would seem to me that society would benefit from the strength derived from some sort of stable family life."
"Yeah—well. Claudius wasn't called 'The Cruel' for nothing. He didn't care about society—only his own desires."
"Could this Claudius have been a Goa'uld? In that case, then this Saint Valentine could have been one of the Tok'ra."
"I doubt, it, Teal'c." Daniel opened a packet of cream cheese with his teeth. Squirting the substance onto one of the halves of his bagel, he continued. "The fourteenth day of February was traditionally the day that the Romans celebrated the Goddess of women and marriage—Juno—and the fifteenth day was the start of the Feast of Lupercalia—where shepherds and goatherds would run through the streets of the cities, striking women with soft whip-like thongs. The belief was that the women who were pregnant would then deliver safely, and those desiring children would become pregnant soon thereafter."
"Yeah—" Colonel O'Neill tweaked an eyebrow, speaking more to himself than to the others. "Thongs have led to many a pregnancy."
Daniel shot him a quelling look, shaking his head. Teal'c just ignored him. He'd been doing that more often, lately.
"And how long ago did this even occur, Daniel Jackson?"
"Oh—seventeen hundred years or so, give or take."
"Two thousand years?" O'Neill's face showed a mixture of fascination and disgust. "This guy died nearly two thousand years ago and we still have to celebrate him?"
"Do you not celebrate the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ?" Teal'c had picked up a piece of toast, and bit half of it off after asking his question. He chewed twice before continuing. "Was he not born nearly two thousand years ago?"
"Well, yeah—but that's different."
"I do not see how, Colonel O'Neill. I seem to recall a few months ago when the Tau'ri celebrated Christmas. The commissary was decorated much as it is today—albeit with different ornamentations. You stated that it appeared that several elves had been detonated within close proximity to the room."
"And that's what it looked like."
"Yet you celebrated that same holiday further in the week with myself, Major Carter, and Daniel Jackson. We exchanged gifts and shared a meal."
"We did." O'Neill glanced at Daniel for help, but the scientist was gullet-deep in his bagel. "But Christmas and Valentine's Day are completely different."
"How so?" Teal'c canted his head to one side patiently.
"Well—" O'Neill scowled, stalling as he thought up something. "Well—discounting the obvious religious stuff, Christmas is a holiday that you can celebrate with family and friends—but it doesn't require that you be involved with someone to enjoy."
"Involved in what way, O'Neill?"
"Look—Valentine's Day is a day for people who are together—you know—dating—going out—being-involved with each other."
"Not necessarily." The Colonel glared at his other friend. "Daniel, could you help me out, here?"
Daniel nodded as he chewed, raising a finger as if to mark his place in the conversation. Swallowing laboriously, he said, "See, Teal'c. You don't have to be having an intimate relationship with the person you're celebrating with—but just wanting to explore the relationship further.
"The possibility of sexual relations."
"Kinda." Daniel shrugged, taking another enormous bite of bagel.
"Is this why I saw you speaking with Karen Seely—the woman from accounting—earlier today? Because you crave the possibility of sexual relations with her?"
Daniel blanched, then choked on his bagel. With entirely too much gusto, O'Neill pounded him on the back. The bagel bit shot out, landing in a squishy mash on the petals of the pink flower, where it shivered for a moment before sliding of and falling with a 'splat' onto the heart shaped doily beneath.
Teal'c merely watched him, a tiny hint of a smile playing around the corner of his mouth.
When Daniel could speak again, he did so, tightly, and with effort. "Uh—no, Teal'c. Karen and I are just—well—friends. We enjoy each others' company."
"And yet you are seeing her later on this evening. For a date. On this day of Saint Valentine."
"Yes. But as friends."
"Friends who crave sexual relations with each other. Much like O'Neill and Major Carter."
"Much like who?" Jack didn't think he'd heard quite right.
"Yourself and Major Carter."
"No, T—uh—we don't want—I mean—no." O'Neill spluttered unconvincingly, holding onto his coffee cup like a shield. "No. Not at all. It's not allowed. Not that she's—well—you know—ugly or anything. The opposite, in fact—but that she's—uh—she's—"
Sitting down at the table, apparently, a tray sparsely populated with food in front of her.
Carter looked between the men and asked again, "She's what?"
O'Neill stared at her, his mouth gaping like a landed fish. Carter turned her attention towards the Jaffa next to her.
"Teal'c—who was the Colonel jabbering about?"
"We have been speaking of this Day of Saint Valentine."
"Oh. Ugh." She groaned, rolling her eyes as she picked up her parfait dish full of red Jell-O. "I hate Valentine's Day!"
"Is it because you have no one with which to engage in sexual congress?"
Sam's eyes flew wide, and a momentary, hysterical yet humorless giggle escaped as she tried, and failed, not to throw a glance at the Colonel. "Uh, no. Teal'c. That's not the problem. It's just the day in general. People take this holiday too seriously. I feel that if a guy and a girl are into each other, they shouldn't need a special day for it."
"But I thought women loved Valentine's Day." Daniel, recovered from his attacking bagel, was back in the game.
"Not this one." Carter motioned at him with a spoon full of red Jell-O. "I don't get it. I mean—look at this place. What is all this? Hearts—shiny ones, lacy ones, and frilly ones. Streamers everywhere, and all those ribbons. And these flowers—does that color even exist in nature? I bet it's dyed. And this one looks like it's been spit on—gross."
"Yeah, it had a little incident with a bagel." Daniel shrugged. "But I get you. Men are supposed to buy the woman a gift, but that's a field of mines in and of itself. Get her something useful, and she thinks that you don't care about her, get her something useless, and it's always the wrong useless crap. Don't even think about lingerie or something intimate because then she thinks that all you want in sex—which in all probability is true—and don't get me started on the Candy Conundrum."
"Candy Conundrum?" O'Neill's eyes flared, and he stared across the table at Daniel as if the younger man had sprouted daisies out of his ears. "Candy has a Conundrum?"
"Yeah—you know. Should you get her candy? Chocolates are considered traditional, but what if she's on a diet? Then suddenly you don't care about her because if you did, you wouldn't be sabotaging her like that. But if you don't get her candy, then she thinks that you think that she's fat."
"Wow. You've really thought this out." Sam took a bite of her Jell-O, casting a meaningful look at the Colonel, who gave her a look that clearly questioned Daniel's sanity.
"It's something you can't learn in school." Daniel's voice had taken a hard, brittle sound, and he was thrumming his fingers on the table. "Nobody can teach you this, because women aren't logical. They don't take things how normal people do."
"Women are the normal ones." Carter took offense to that. "It's men that are messed up."
"Oh?" Daniel lowered his head and stared at her from over the tops of his glasses. "How so?"
"We know what romantic is and isn't. For men, romance is three minutes of talk before reaching for your—boo—" She stopped herself and bit her lip, even as her cheeks turned a flamboyant shade of pink.
"Your what, Carter?" O'Neill grinned widely, now, enjoying the sight of his second so discombobulated.
"Your—book?" This from a still-thrumming Daniel.
"Boot?" Teal'c suggested helpfully.
"Boogie Nights DVD?"
Carter sighed, exasperated. "You know what I mean."
Daniel smiled. "Regardless—I think that men have it over women in the logic department."
"I would tend to concur with Daniel Jackson, Major Carter." Teal'c intoned. "I do believe that women are emotional creatures, while men are more reasoned."
"Why do you say that, Teal'c?" Sam turned to him, frowning slightly.
"Men would not decorate a room in this fashion. The killing of useless plants such as this flower does not seem to be a reasonable way to show affection."
"Oh—Geez! Tell me about it! Flowers! I mean—they die in what—four hours? You spend a hundred dollars on a tiny arrangement, and they wither before your eyes. And what if you're allergic? Then you spend the whole night trying to make a move, only to sneeze in the wrong instant, and totally ruin the mood." Daniel threw the rest of his bagel on the foam plate in front of him and leaned limply back in his chair. "And then you're standing there with this handful of guck, and you have to excuse yourself to go and clean up, and by the time you come back, the woman has moved out of the Zone and back into Friendly Mode. And the whole wretched process starts again!"
"Well, you know what they say." O'Neill muttered absently, fishing in his coffee cup for a stray piece of schmutz he'd spotted.
"No, what?" Daniel inquired. He was breathing a little heavily from his verbal over-exertions. "What do they say?"
"Don't kiss your honey when your nose is runny."
"I don't get it." And knowing Daniel, he probably didn't.
The Colonel flashed a wide, wicked grin. "You may think it's funny, but it's not."
"Well, it's not." Daniel scowled. "Of course that wouldn't be funny. You could pass germs that made her sick."
"No, Daniel," Carter struggled not to roll her eyes. "It's snot."
Daniel glanced sideways at the Colonel, lips curled back. "Oh, Jack. Eeeww."
But the Colonel only smiled, then let out half a chuckle. "Snot. That's funny stuff."
Teal'c's attention, however, had been captured by the figure dangling above him. "And what is the meaning behind the winged children with weapons?"
Daniel followed his gaze towards the ceiling, where the printed cut out of Cupid dangled from some ribbon.
"That? That's a Cupid."
"And what is a Cupid?"
"Cupid was a Roman god. The Greeks called him Eros, and in both cultures, he was the god of romantic love. Tradition states that he would fly around and shoot arrows at his chosen people, thus causing them to fall deeply in love."
"That is appropriate." Teal'c nodded in agreement. "Because love is indeed painful."
"Yes, well." Daniel took a deep breath and then continued. "Cupid fell in love with a princess named Psyche, who was considered the most beautiful woman in the land. She loved him, too. Venus, Cupid's mother, had originally sent him to induce her to fall in love with a monster, but instead he visited her each night and whispered to her that she should not try to see him. She did it anyway—because her sisters told her to—and Cupid left her, fearing for her life. So she wandered all over the world looking for him, until Jupiter, taking pity on her, gave her the gift of immortality so that she and Cupid could be together. They ended up with a couple of kids."
"So it had a happy ending." Carter shrugged. "What's wrong with that?"
"Happy?" O'Neill shook his, head, his face displaying disbelief. "How is that happy? This gorgeous woman is married to a—I mean—" He gestured towards the ceiling, "—what is that thing? A baby? A baby with wings?"
"An obese child wielding arrows." Teal'c stated drolly, then lifted a piece of fruit to his lips.
"Yes. That." The Colonel nodded. "How is that a happy ending?"
"Well, it's happy if she decides that's what she wants."
"But shouldn't she aim higher than an arrow-happy infant with a witch for a mother?"
"That's what she wants, sir." Carter asserted. "You can't choose who you fall in love with."
"No." Said O'Neill. "No you can't."
They'd strayed too far into dangerous territory. Carter assiduously avoided the Colonel's eyes, and he suddenly found the doily interesting.
Daniel took a deep breath and glanced at Teal'c. "So that's Cupid in a nutshell. An obese child wielding arrows."
"Well, if you put it that way." Carter returned to her Jell-O. Silence fell for a few, brief minutes, before she jabbed her spoon into the parfait glass in disgust. "And no blue Jell-O. Only red. That totally sucks." She rose, wiping her hands and mouth on a napkin. "I'm going. I'll see you later at the briefing."
And with that, she was gone.
Daniel watched her go, an odd expression on his face. "You don't think—"
"What, Daniel? I don't think what?"
"You don't think that she wanted one of us to ask her to dinner or something? I mean, I'm going out with Karen, Teal'c was planning on Kelnorim, and you—" He gestured aimlessly, without true intent, at Jack.
"Don't worry about it, Daniel." The Colonel lifted his cup and drank.
"I mean—wow. I feel really bad now, but Karen and I are—well, it's just about there."
"The deal has been sealed?"
"Third base?" Jack's eyes widened. "Way to go, Danny."
"It's just this day. There's pressure on Valentine's Day."
"Go, Daniel. Aim high, swing hard, and don't strike out." He raised his cup in salute as Daniel stood. "Knock it out of the park. Hit one for the Gipper."
"Yes, well." Daniel straightened his shirt and headed out the door.
Teal'c and the Colonel sat, companionable, easy, Teal'c devouring his breakfast, and O'Neill watching said breakfast be devoured. It was a while before either of them spoke again.
"The Tau'ri are indeed a bizarre people." Said Teal'c as he pushed his tray away from him. "To celebrate a day that gives so many such consternation."
"There're some people who are happy about it."
"Few." Teal'c frowned. "And even then they are not easily satisfied. It is a most inefficient mating ritual."
O'Neill simply shrugged, watching as the Jaffa stood and gave his customary half bow, then headed out the commissary door.
O'Neill reached the locker room just before the briefing was supposed to start. It was technically the women's hour, but since there was only one woman on his team, and she had already dressed for the day, he figured he was safe.
He knocked once, then shoved the door open gently. Peering inside, he found her—she was sitting with her back to the door, her locker splayed open.
He entered, crossed to the bench, and sat next to her, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.
She turned her face to him, lifted the parfait dish of blue Jell-O, and smiled. "Thank you, sir."
"For what? I didn't do anything." His innocent face wasn't convincing.
She smiled and shook her head. "Yes, you did." She took a bite. "It means a lot."
"It means nothing."
He chanced a look into her locker. A locker that he'd broken into recently. He'd put six dishes of the blue gelatin in there earlier, and only three remained. She held one cup, and two other empty dishes sat at her feet.
"Well, whatever, it was really nice."
He shrugged, reached over, and grabbed a cube out of her dish, popping it into his mouth. "S'good." He mumbled from around the Jell-O.
She took another bite, and then one more, and that dish was empty. She bent and set it near the others on the floor. "It's just that people make such a big deal out of this stupid day."
"That they do." He nodded.
"And what is it really but an excuse for people to go out and be irresponsible?"
"Yes." He nodded again.
"I really hate Valentine's Day." She muttered.
O'Neill regarded her intently, the shadow in her eyes, the lack of her customary smile. She caught him looking at her, captured his gaze with her own.
"Someday maybe you won't."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, someday, when you're with someone—you won't hate Valentine's Day."
But she couldn't answer, because her breath was snagged by the look in his eyes. Hunger, mixed with a kind of hope that she'd never seen in him before. It hurt. She looked away.
"But until then—" He leaned forward and seized two of the remaining cups of jiggly blue cubes. He handed her one and kept one for himself. "Have some Jell-O."