Does the Roller Help?

This circumstance, sadly, is taken from my own life. Thinking it was amusing, I posted a photo on FB, and someone mentioned that it might make a funny story, so here you go. Of course, the title is liberally snurched (albeit slightly tweaked) from my all time favorite Sci Fi movie.

Extra points to the person who guesses which one.

"So." Jack was staring intently into the depths of his coffee cup. It seemed to be his go-to place to gaze when there was something else much more interesting at which he wanted to look. His sidelong glance at Daniel flickered with wisely-hidden amusement. "Are you going to tell her?"

"Oh, good heavens, no." Daniel took a swig of his own morning brew. "I happen to like being alive, thank you very much."

Jack scowled, first at Daniel and then at the table top, and then at the odd flower that sat in its skinny vase thingy smack dab between the salt and pepper. Because the sad, wilted weed really lent an air of freshness to the joint. Really perked things up. Right?

Not.

Around them, the usual commissary hubbub percolated, a cacophonous mix of talking and clanking utensils and banging lids of warming pans. After so many years, the Colonel had learned to tune it out. Some things were harder to ignore, however. His gaze flew back to the blond head that bobbed amongst the breakfast seekers. And the flash of pink that adorned it.

His shudder was completely involuntary. "Someone's got to."

"Then let it be Teal'c." There was a note of amusement in the archaeologist's voice. "He's bigger than both of us."

"True." Jack picked at the donut that sat on his largely untouched tray. "She likes him best of all of us, too."

"Well, duh." Daniel was struggling not to stare at her, too. He had developed an unnatural interest in the tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce that sat with the rest of the crap in the center of the table. "Everyone likes Teal'c best."

"Plus, there's that alien thing."

Pause. Daniel took another sip from his cup and turned towards the Colonel, his brows furrowed. "What alien thing?"

Deep brown eyes widened. "You know, the alien thing."

The eyebrows went deeper. "I'm sorry, I'm not following you."

Jack threw a quick look over his shoulder before leaning in towards his team mate. "If we get Teal'c to ask her about it, then she'll excuse him because he's an alien."

Nobody had ever accused Daniel of being stupid. Behind the glasses, his eyes glinted. "Because he's still learning about Earth culture and can therefore ask her about it without it seeming rude. He doesn't know any better."

"Because he's an—" Jack led the archaeologist along with a little flourish of his battle-worn hand.

"An alien. You know, Jack," Conspiratorially, Daniel grinned, his hair flopping as he shook his head. "Sometimes you are pure-freaking-genius."

Jack's lip twitched upward. "Yeah—I figured that one out a while ago. You gotta love the alien thing."

"To which thing not of Earth origin do you allude?"

The aforementioned Alien had arrived. Jack looked up at Teal'c, who stood holding a tray in one hand, and an entire bunch of bananas in the other. As the Jaffa sank down gracefully into his cafeteria chair, Jack eyed the fruit. "You know, Teal'c, if you're not careful, people are going to think you're a monkey."

It took a moment, but below the gold First Prime symbol, Teal'c's eyes narrowed in what could have been humor. "Because your earth's primates are said to enjoy this edible vegetation as much as do I. Therefore, if I continue to consume them in large quantities, someone might mistake me for that animal."

"It kind of loses its zing if you have to explain it, T."

Teal'c tore into his first banana. "I merely wished you to know that I both understood and appreciated your whimsical comment."

"I'm glad you thought it was funny." Jack pursed his lips, blowing out briefly before hitching up slightly in his seat and leaning across his own breakfast. "Hey, T."

"Yes, Colonel O'Neill?" The second banana was meeting its fate within Teal'c's large maw.

"Did you happen to see Carter over there?"

"In line to procure her breakfast?" Swallowing heavily, Teal'c reached for and popped open the first of several tiny cartons of milk on his tray. "I did see her. She was delayed in acquiring her meal for the commissary's lack of cooked eggs. I believe she chose to wait for more to be prepared."

"Right." Daniel peered at Teal'c over the rims of his glasses. "Did you happen to notice anything different about her today?"

Teal'c's jaws paused in their mechanical chewing. He swallowed again. "I did not. She seemed as hale and healthy as usual."

"Of course she is." Jack squinted. "But did you notice anything different about her hair?"

The Jaffa actually scowled, his look uncharacteristically confused. "Has she again changed her hairstyle?"

"I don't think so—"

Dark eyes soured. "Because in previous moments when she has appeared with a new coiffure, neither of you has seemed to notice."

Jack sputtered. "Yeah—but—"

"In those moments, it has fallen upon me to offer compliments." Teal'c picked up his knife and fork, glowering across the table at his teammates. "Even when there were none to be given."

"Well, we—"

"I do not enjoy telling falsehoods, O'Neill and Daniel Jackson. Even when the truth would surely displease the receiver."

Jack waved his hands towards his comrade. "I know—it's not a new haircut."

"I have no desire to lie again." The Jaffa's eyes were dangerously serious. "Especially not to as formidable a warrior as Major Carter."

Daniel nodded, reaching over and tapping Teal'c on the forearm. "Of course not. She hasn't changed her hair—she's just left something in it. That's the problem today."

"I am unsure of what you mean."

"A curler." Jack scratched at a patch of stubble he'd missed while shaving his chin. "She's left a curler in her hair."

"And what sort of object is this curler?

The Colonel gestured towards his forehead. "Just what it sounds like. It's a round thingy that women put in their hair to make curls."

"For what purpose?"

Daniel's eyes flew to Jack before returning to Teal'c. "Just what Jack said. To make straight hair curly."

"Why would Major Carter wish to do such a thing? She has never before shown even a vestige of vanity."

Jack's expression was one of genuine consternation. "Why do chicks do anything?"

Teal'c returned his attention to his breakfast, taking several bites of bacon before downing another carton of milk in a few swigs. "I do not believe that Major Carter would appreciate being referred to as a 'chick'."

O'Neill rolled his eyes and groaned. "You know what I meant, Teal'c."

Another banana disappeared into Teal'c's gullet. His lack of answer made for a surprisingly concise disapproving one.

"Listen." Jack hunched forward again. "I know that she'd kick me three ways from Sunday if she heard me call her a 'chick'. But I also know that if I prance up to her and mention the fact that she's still got a curler in her hair, she'd be embarrassed. She'd feel really, really stupid. It's not the kind of thing that Earth women like being informed of."

"Why not? If she no longer needs this curler to create the coiffure she desires, perhaps she would like to be told that the curler has thus rendered itself superfluous and should be removed."

Daniel made a sound that was somewhere between a snort and a groan. "Yeah. That's not the way it works."

"Why not?"

"It just isn't. It's like make-up. Women are supposed to use it, but they aren't supposed to need it."

Jack added, "And it's not supposed to really be there—even if it's really obvious that it is there."

"But does not make-up render the wearer more pleasant to look upon?"

"Sometimes." Daniel took point on this one. "And sometimes it's really badly applied and makes the woman look something like a clown."

"Like Brenda in motor pool."

"Oh—geez. With the blue eyeshadow—"

"And the lipliner—"

"And the foundation applied with a trowel—"

"Like Bozo on steroids."

Daniel's expression blanched. "Bless her heart."

Both Earthlings looked at each other and shivered.

Teal'c, midway through his third banana, scowled at his teammates. "Then would the female not appreciate a friend or co-worker taking them aside and telling them that their face paints are not attractive?"

"No."

"Hell no."

Jack and Daniel had spoken at the exact same time, but Daniel was the one that continued. "For someone to tell a woman that sort of thing—well, they have to be really good friends."

"Or relatives—but friendly relatives."

"Close. Like—mother-and-daughter-who-don't-annoy-the-hell-out-of-each-other close."

"Or sisters."

"But only if one has never stolen the other's boyfriend."

Jack capped that information with a decided nod. "Yep. That."

Teal'c paused briefly in the application of copious amounts of brown sugar to his oatmeal to glare first at Daniel, and then at the Colonel. "Your world is indeed confusing."

Jack leaned back in his chair and threaded his hands behind his head. "Yeah, well. It's the women that muck things up. Guys are simple. Women are as complicated as wormhole theory."

Without expression, Teal'c dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. "Is that why you are not currently romantically involved with a woman, O'Neill? Because they are too complex for your understanding?"

To his credit, Daniel somehow managed to transform his guffaw into a cough. Still, he wisely didn't make any attempt to look at the Colonel.

"No." Jack's brows rose in innocence. "It's a time thing for me. Too busy."

This time, Daniel made no attempt to hide his snort. "You keep telling yourself that, Jack."

"Bite me, Daniel."

"Oh come on." Dr. Jackson's laugh was cheerfully derisive. "The only women you've gotten lucky with lately have been alien ones."

"That's so not true."

"Really?" It was less a question than a statement.

"Really." Jack folded his arms across his chest. "I've had plenty of luck with Earth women."

"Do tell."

"Okay, Daniel. We'll share success stories." Jack angled a decidedly sardonic look at the Doctor. "You first."

"That's not the—I mean, we weren't—I wasn't—" Sputtering. Daniel finally offered a concessionary shrug. "Okay. I'll give you that one."

"Are you done with those plates, Sirs?" A commissary worker had paused next to their table with his bus cart. Jack handed over his empty plates and then watched as his friends did the same. Teal'c gathered his banana peels into the plastic garbage bag hanging at the front of the cart before sending several empty milk cartons in after them.

When the worker had gone, Teal'c studied the other men across the table with sincere intent. "With your lack of understanding regarding the female gender, it is somewhat surprising that either of you were ever able to convince a woman to enter into a contract of matrimony."

Jack sighed. "Getting them to marry you isn't the hard part."

"Nope." Daniel's agreement was instantaneous. "It's living with them afterwards that's difficult."

"Was not Sha're a desirable mate?"

Daniel fingered the salt shaker. "No—she was perfect. I loved being married to her."

"It's just the little things that women do. For example, Sara used to ask me my opinion on her clothing choices. You have to say something—you'd get in trouble if you told her you really didn't care, and neither would anyone else at the steak place, and could she just finish primping already because you were hungry." Jack's eyes went wide, and somewhat glassy. "But if they don't like your answer, they change their clothes, and by the time they're done, the restaurant is closing and you're stuck going to some drive through."

"And somehow it's your fault." Daniel grinned, remembering. "Sha're used to ask me if her clothing made her look fat."

"Because you could really tell if she was packing on the pounds beneath the burka."

"Well, it really wasn't a burka, per se."

"Bathrobe?" Jack waggled a finger in his ear. "Assorted draped rags?"

"Gown." Daniel shrugged. "There's an Abydonian word for it, but it basically just means 'dress'."

"That's beside the point." Jack's gray head moved slowly from side to side. "That question has ended more relationships than any other single thing in the entire history of humanity. There's no way to answer that question that doesn't result in somebody sleeping on the couch."

Dr. Jackson nodded in complete accord. "Or, in my case, a pallet at the front of the hut."

Teal'c, surprisingly, had inclined his own head in agreement. "I, too, was once consigned to sleep in a room other than that which I normally shared with my wife."

"How'd that happen?"

"Drey'auc had invited her parents to our home in order to celebrate the Festival of Pa'Shako."

At Jack's frown, Daniel translated. "Festival of Fertility."

"Ah." Jack nodded. "And you didn't like her parents?"

"Her mother and father were both congenial, and we enjoyed each other's company." Teal'c, apparently done with his breakfast, laid his fork and knife on his tray and pushed it towards the center of the table. "I merely asked her how we were to satisfactorily celebrate the Festival with her family in such close proximity to our quarters."

"Seems like a fair question."

"She got mad that you asked that?" The Colonel scratched at his ear. "Seems kind of harsh, if you ask me."

"Drey'auc did not become angered at the question itself. She objected to me asking it of her while her parents sat with us at evening meal."

"Okay." Jack lifted one shoulder in concession. "That's kind of awkward."

But the Jaffa wasn't done. "She became especially enraged that I reminded her of how boisterous she became during certain intimate activities, and how her parents might not enjoy their sleep disturbed by her incessant keening."

Daniel pursed his lips with a pained exhale. "Ouch."

"Yeah." Jack shook his head. "You're not coming back easily from that one."

"Indeed not." Teal'c sat back in his chair. "Salvation came two days later when Apophis commanded I leave on a particularly hazardous mission. Her fear for my safety eventually won out over her anger."

"So, even Jaffa women can be difficult."

"Indeed."

For a pause, the three men merely stared in unison at the wilted flower in the center of the table.

"Women."

"Can't live with 'em."

"And it is considered highly objectionable to dispense of a troublesome one with a blast of one's staff weapon."

Daniel leaned forward on the table, bracing himself on his elbows. "Which brings us—sort of—back to Sam."

"Yep."

"Indeed."

"So." Daniel grimaced. "Who's going to tell her?"

Silence.

Jack took the opportunity to scan the line for the Major, only to whirl back towards his buddies—too quickly—when he caught sight of the pink roller bobbing its way through the crowd and toward their table.

"Guys." Jack hissed from behind his hand, sinking down in his chair. "She's coming."

As if his chair had suddenly become equipped with an ejection seat, Daniel leapt to his feet. "Wow. Look at the time!" He waved his arm lamely in the air as if motioning towards his watch. "I had that thing. To do. With that thing. You know? Hey, Sam! Gotta run—but I'll talk to you later."

He had never moved faster in his life.

Jack watched him go, annoyed, but at the same time jealous that he hadn't thought of fleeing first.

Teal'c rose next, giving a slight bow in Sam's direction before unceremoniously striding off towards the same exit Daniel had taken.

Helpless, Jack watched him go, fighting fruitlessly to keep his dismay off his face.

Ever chipper, the Major stopped behind her usual chair. "Good morning, Sir."

"Carter." Jack smiled. He tried, and failed, not to look at the pink curler that still clung tenaciously to the hair at the crown of the Major's head. It just bobbed there like a plastic tiara. How could she not know it was there? How could she not feel it? Didn't she look in a mirror before leaving her house? "How's it hanging? I mean—how's stuff?"

"Good, thanks. Stuff is good." Sam put her tray on the table and sat. "I can't believe how long it takes them to make eggs around here."

"Yeah. Too long. Much too long. Ages." O'Neill tried to look her in the face, but could only see the roller dangling there atop her golden head. In desperation he lifted his mug of now-cold coffee and peered into its depths, hoping to find some reprieve within. Coffee grounds lacked the mystic abilities of tea leaves, however, and remained, silent and soggy, at the bottom of his cup. Damn. He raised his eyes to look at it—er—her—again, but could only see the roller on her head. Laughing at him. Double damn.

"I mean—you'd think they'd keep some cooking while people are in line, right? Always have them ready."

"Mmm." It was all the Colonel could muster with the curler staring at him. It was like it was alive. It was an evil curler, determined to taunt him. Several ways to broach the subject flew through his head, but none seemed right, or even plausible. He was failing. Drowning. Being done in by a cheerful pink Velcro roller. The stupid thing would succeed where the Goa'uld had failed. He was going to retreat in the face of insurmountable odds. Any guy would forgive him for this bit of cowardice, too. Of that he was certain.

Plunking his mug on the table, Jack practically leapt to his feet and mumbled something unintelligible about cleaning his P-90 before heading for the exit and the salvation that lay beyond.

-OOOO-

"So?"

Sam groaned, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the neatly folded bill she'd tucked inside an hour earlier. Placing it on the smooth surface of the commissary table, she slid it towards Janet, who had just lowered herself into the chair where Daniel had been sitting moments earlier.

"I can't believe they all chickened out."

"I told you."

"I thought we were closer than that—I thought that we had gotten to a point where they could tell me anything."

Janet grinned and unfolded the twenty-dollar bill. "It's getting too easy, Sam. You're going to be broke soon."

"I mean—it was just a roller." Reaching up, Sam pulled the offending accouterment from her crown, then tousled the hair with her fingertips of her other hand. "It's not like I was leaking anything from anywhere."

Janet's smile radiated adorable cynicism. "Give 'em a break, there, girlfriend. They're men."

"They're wusses." Sam grinned, leaning forward to balance her chin on her upturned palm. "You should have seen their faces."

"I tried to look at them, but I didn't want them to think something was up."

"It was classic." Sam's blue eyes twinkled. "They looked like they were terrified of this curler. Like I'd grown an extra boob on top of my head or something."

"Even Teal'c?"

"Especially Teal'c." Sam rolled her eyes. "I think they must have filled him in."

Janet giggled. "I'll say it again. I told you."

"I know. I know!" Sam picked up her fork before offering a resigned sigh. "Unbelievable."

Janet used a knife to carefully pry apart the halves of her bagel. "You know, this really is kind of mean."

Snorting slightly, Sam nodded as she raised a helping of scrambled eggs to her lips. "Oh, it's totally cruel. But it's also fun."

"You have a mean streak in you, Samantha Carter."

"Just a little one." Shrugging, the Major looked across the table at her friend. "I think I get it from my dad."

The doctor shook her head as she smothered her bagel with cream cheese. "So, what's next?"

"Well." Sam tore open a tiny cup of creamer and poured it into her coffee. Stirring it with a tiny red straw, she bit her lip slightly before answering. "I think I'm going to pull out the big guns this time."

Janet scooted her chair closer to the table and hunched forward, supporting her weight on her elbows. "This sounds good."

"Oh, it's going to be." Sam's eyes went wide. "Want to raise the stakes? Say, fifty bucks this time?"

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely."

"So, what's the bet?"

"I win if they give me any answer at all. You win if they run away like the cowards that they apparently are without saying anything."

"Okay." Janet's teeth flashed in a conspiratorial smile. "What's the plan?"

Lifting a single brow, the Major quirked a shoulder skyward. "I'm going to ask them if my BDUs make me look fat."