A/N: At end. Super huge thanks to Leiasky for the great beta and even better advice.
This comes of a conversation on GW about Teal'c being the First Shipper. Since I owe folks a "pi" story, I thought I'd kill two birds and all that.
A Little Slice of Pi(e)
Colorado Springs, CO
1644 SGCS (SGC Standard Time)
Teal'c paced patiently through the line, carefully selecting items from the various stations to load onto his tray. When he got to the dessert section he hesitated, wondering which of the sweet confections he would sample this evening. Captain Carter seemed quite fond of the blue gelatinous food, though O'Neill swore the red was better. Teal'c leaned closer to peer at both. Neither looked at all substantial enough to be in any way satisfying. As he had since he'd arrived, he passed over the wedged slices of pastry and fruit, leaving those for others. Just as he was about to step away, a voice called out to him.
"T! Can you snag me a slice of the apple?"
Teal'c looked across the cafeteria toward the table he normally shared with the members of his new team. He looked down at the pie selection before him, then back again at O'Neill. He reached out, but hesitated, his hand hovering over the large slice sitting there. Glancing back at O'Neill he considered his options.
O'Neill wanted pie.
Teal'c frowned slightly, not noticing the young mess Sergeant behind the counter flinching slightly and taking a step back.
His hand still poised above the slice of crumbly apple pie, Teal'c stood lost in thought. Perhaps he'd been mistaken in his assumptions. Perhaps O'Neill, like so many of the Jaffa with whom he had once served, did not in fact prefer the company of women. While the idea was not repulsive to Teal'c, it was not a feeling he shared. He wondered if somehow he had given the younger man the wrong impression of his own preferences. How could he comply with O'Neill's request without giving offense?
A Senior Airman beside him gave a gentle cough and Teal'c looked over to see the man peering past him, clearly eager to move on. Teal'c stepped aside, allowing the nervous young man room to pass. He again reached for the pie and again hesitated.
"Teal'c?" Daniel spoke up beside him. "Everything okay?"
"Daniel Jackson." Teal'c nodded in respect to the young scholar. "Indeed, everything is not . . . 'okay,' as you would say."
Daniel pushed up his glasses and stepped closer. He waved the line of waiting base personnel around them. "What's going on?"
Teal'c leaned closer and said in a low voice, "O'Neill has asked for pie." He waited, carefully watching Daniel's expression.
"Okay." Daniel looked at the pie selection and then back at Teal'c. "He likes apple, maybe you should . . . " He stopped as Teal'c shook his head.
"Daniel Jackson, I do not believe you understand. O'Neill has asked me for pie." Daniel continued to stare at him blankly, and Teal'c tried again. "Until recently, O'Neill was sharing pie with Captain Carter."
"Yeees," said Daniel slowly. He looked over to where Jack sat alone at their usual table. "Um, I feel like I'm missing something here."
"I do not enjoy . . . sharing pie . . . with others." Teal'c explained.
"Oh." Still clearly puzzled, Daniel reached past Teal'c and grabbed the slice of pie and placed it on his tray. "Well, if it makes you uncomfortable, I can take care of it."
"Sure, why not?"
Teal'c tipped his head and studied Daniel's earnest face. He'd only been among the Tau'ri for one short year, but he didn't believe he had misread the situation incorrectly. He had observed the rituals that took place here, and the support staff had been very helpful in explaining certain puzzling behaviors, but this was perhaps the most confounding of all.
Lost in his thoughts, he barely noticed as Daniel nudged him along in the line until they got to the end, then he stepped aside, waiting for Daniel to lead the way. As they approached, O'Neill looked up onto Teal'c's tray, then at his face, his expression clearly one of disappointment.
"Were they out?"
"They were not." Teal'c sat down and applied himself to his meal, surreptitiously watching the interactions around him.
"Jack," said Daniel Jackson with a minor dramatic flourish, "I present to you your pie."
Teal'c saw O'Neill glance from him to Daniel and the silent communication that passed between them. While Daniel Jackson and O'Neill did not have the same depth of communication and expression he had so often witnessed between O'Neill and Captain Carter, Teal'c could not deny that there was some level of conversation occurring. He wondered how best to approach the topic with the two men; it was his experience here among the Tau'ri that certain subjects were taboo and his instincts told him that this was one of those topics. As he pondered, Captain Carter joined them.
"Hey guys, Sir," she said, acknowledging her team and O'Neill separately as she often did.
"Carter." O'Neill swallowed his bit of food and gestured toward the plate. "Pie, Carter?"
Carter smiled at O'Neill and shook her head. "No thanks. I'm still full from the pie you brought in for breakfast."
Teal'c looked up, carefully keeping his expression blank. Just this morning O'Neill had offered pie to Captain Carter? Perhaps there was more to this than he understood. He glanced at the team's archaeologist, wondering how he would respond. He carefully set aside his fork, automatically freeing his hands for battle should the need arise. Captain Carter was the more capable warrior by far of the two, so it would fall to Teal'c to protect Daniel Jackson should the need arise.
Daniel glanced up from his book. "Pie for breakfast?"
Frowning into his fruit bowl, Teal'c realized that there was no tension in the younger man's voice. No hurt or anger. Perhaps the Tau'ri were more casual about their relationships that he had understood. He let himself relax somewhat.
"Sure, why not?"
Carter pulled out a chair and sat in her customary spot beside O'Neill. "Sure, Daniel. It's got apples, sugar, pastry, and you eat it with milk. Kind of like a solid bowl of cereal."
O'Neill flashed Carter a grin and turned to Daniel. "See?" He took another huge bite of his pie. "Besides, it's pi day again."
"Pi-oh. That." Daniel flicked a glance between them and shook his head. He gave a tiny shrug and returned to his book.
Teal'c resumed eating and tuned out the conversation between O'Neill and his second in command. He was still unclear about the significance of pie, but it was clear that there was some formal process involved in initiating a bonding. Apparently a designated day for it, just as the Tau'ri celebrated natal holidays. He hadn't had full access to the base last year, but in the months following O'Neill's first overtures to Captain Carter, Teal'c had seen some evidence of a deeper bonding between the pair and, he thought back, he was certain he remembered O'Neill bringing in a semblance of a pie for that occasion. The first offering to the Captain had been private, but he and Daniel Jackson had been consulted for the second. Teal'c tipped his head in thought.
Perhaps Tau'ri rituals required the participation of some outside member to formalize the process.
Perhaps O'Neill had, in his often less-than-overt manner, been asking his brother-in-arms to participate in that process.
Perhaps the overture of the soft food was merely an entree?
Teal'c once again watched the two Air Force officers as they conversed about a minor personnel issue, noting what they did not say as much as what they did. Captain Carter often laid a hand on O'Neill's arm when making a point, and O'Neill in turn nudged her shoulder quite frequently. Daniel Jackson remained oblivious across from them as he read his book.
Teal'c did know, of course, that while on the premises of the SGC, the casual contact between O'Neill and Captain Carter was often almost too subtle to be seen. Off-world, however, Teal'c had seen an increase in that sort of contact. Nothing he had not seen before amongst bonded Jaffa, so therefore unremarkable to him. Teal'c studied them realizing only now how much he had come to respect and admire the two before him. How lucky he had been to have been in a place to assist O'Neill as he led the hostages and villagers from Apophis' palace. To have been so unquestionably accepted by not only O'Neill but by Captain Carter and eventually by Daniel Jackson too. To have found other kindred spirits willing to fight in concert for his cause.
And now, when O'Neill reached out to him to further his bond, Teal'c had let him down. He had let another—he hesitated to think "lesser," but certainly a less capable warrior—step into his place. It was a shameful thing to have done.
Well, no more.
Teal'c pushed aside his now empty tray and stood, his actions catching the attention of the others. He offered a low bow to first O'Neill and then to Captain Carter. "O'Neill. When the time comes for you to ask, I would be honored to partake in your ritual of pie, and . . . " he paused, hoping that he had gotten it right and that O'Neill was looking for no more than someone to stand with him. "And . . . when the time comes, to be of whatever service you require."
Again he offered them both a deep, formal bow, his right hand to his left breast before giving Daniel Jackson a brief nod and leaving. He was unaware that behind him sat his teammates, mouths open in shock.
Colorado Springs, CO
1905 SGCS (SGC Standard Time)
A soft knock roused Teal'c from his afternoon's light meditation. "Enter."
O'Neill's tousled head poked around the edge of the door as he leaned in. "T . . . got a minute?"
"I do, indeed." Teal'c sat up and extinguished the single candle that sat before him. As he rose and flicked on the overhead lights, he wondered if O'Neill had come to ask him to participate in the next step of the bonding. And again, he hoped he had interpreted things correctly. Just to be certain, instead of returning to his perch on the edge of his bed, he sat in one of the two chairs set at the table, waving O'Neill into the other chair to sit. To his relief, O'Neill did so without complaint.
"So . . ." O'Neill scratched his head and looked around, fidgeting slightly.
Teal'c simply waited, allowing his friend to find the words in his own time. He had noticed that among the Tau'ri if one sat quietly, eventually the Tau'ri felt the need to fill the silence. Most of them, anyway. O'Neill . . . as well as Captain Carter he realized . . . never seemed to do that. Another way in which the two were compatible.
This would be a solid bonding, indeed.
Eventually O'Neill looked over at him. "Um . . . so, everything okay, Teal'c?"
Teal'c waited a few minutes more, then realized perhaps his friend needed some assistance. After all, he had seen it in other younger men, the nerves that accompanied one when asking for a companion to stand with him at a bonding. It seemed it was up to him to ease the way. "O'Neill, have you considered what it is you will lay at Jacob Carter's feet?"
"So . . . Daniel thinks that–" O'Neill's head snapped up. He and Teal'c had spoken at the same time. "Huh?"
"I believe I once told you that is a tradition among young Jaffa warriors to place the dressed carcass of a new jemac kill at the feet of the parents of one's intended. This is to show that you are assuming the role of 'son,' and should the need arise, you will provide for them as well as for their daughter." Teal'c paused, considering for a moment. "Of course, Captain Carter is a fine warrior in her own right, so–"
"Whoa . . . what?"
Dipping his head, Teal'c caught O'Neill's eye. "I had thought it different here, but since seeing you make an offering twice to Captain Carter, I see that while the–"
"T, buddy. I think there's something–" O'Neill stopped at the soft knock on the door.
Teal'c glanced at O'Neill and then toward the door. Before he could say anything, a soft "Teal'c?" indicated who was awaiting entry. Captain Carter.
It was making sense now, Teal'c realized. The two had to come together to ask for assistance with the bonding. He nodded in satisfaction, this was as it should be with two such strong warriors. "Enter, Captain Carter."
The door opened and the woman he was quickly coming to count as a sister entered. Teal'c waved her into the room, but when she spotted O'Neill hunched on a chair, she hesitated.
"Sorry, Sir. I didn't realize–"
O'Neill stood. "No, no, it's okay, I was just–"
Teal'c watched with growing frustration as the two spoke over each other. The words of the Nox came to him and he realized how true it was, 'The very young . . . indeed.'" It was time to lead, as he had been taught. He waved Carter to a seat on the bed.
"O'Neill. Captain Carter. Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to discuss the upcoming ritual.
"O'Neill, did you not initiate a bonding ritual one year ago this week involving pie?"
O'Neill's jaw dropped open and he looked from Teal'c to the Captain in shock. Before he could speak, Teal'c began again. "And did you not reinitiate the bonding a few months after that?"
"Teal'c, um," Captain Carter began, her face flushing a bright red.
Turning to her, Teal'c continued, "And did you not, Captain Carter, accept O'Neill's offering of bonding both times?"
The Captain dropped her head into her hands. "Oh, God."
Ah, progress. Perhaps they were merely reluctant to speak about this. He often forgot just how much younger these teammates of his were.
"Captain Carter," Teal'c said gently. "When you were afflicted with Broca virus, did you not seek out O'Neill?"
O'Neill and Carter stared at each other, speechlessly before Carter dropped her head back into her hands with another weak groan.
Teal'c continued, determined to help them to see. "If, as Doctor Fraiser said, the affliction led you to seek out the strongest for survival, then should you not have chosen . . . another?" He glanced quickly at O'Neill. "Do not take offence, O'Neill."
O'Neill vaguely waved a hand as he shook his head, looking thunderstruck.
Nodding with satisfaction, Teal'c turned again to Carter. "Captain–"
"Wait." Carter held up her hand. "Please."
Teal'c half-rose from his chair, afraid he had insulted his colleague. If that were the case, there was no way in which O'Neill would ask him to stand for him. Or them. Whichever practice it was in which the Tau'ri engaged. He had to repair the damage immediately. He offered O'Neill a deep bow. "O'Neill. I have done something to offend your bonded. How can I make reparations?"
O'Neill stood poleaxed. He slowly turned away from where Carter still sagged in her seat on the edge of the bed, bright red face buried in her hands, to face Teal'c. He worked his jaw for several moments, staring blankly at Teal'c, his brown eyes wide with shock. His expression was one Teal'c did not think he had ever seen on his Tau'ri friend's face.
O'Neill sank into the chair he'd been sitting in before, his mouth still working but no words coming out. Finally he asked in a near-whisper, "Bonding?"
"You got all that from . . . pie?"
Author's note: Well, I hope this satisfies. This was, as I said above, the result of a discussion a few days ago on GateWorld about whether Teal'c or Daniel (or Janet) was the first Shipper. I maintain it was Teal'c, then Hammond, then Janet, but that's just me.
I'm hoping you found this funny, it was intended so.