"Can we go now?"
"We just got here," Daniel said, giving Jack an exasperated look along with his coat.
"What's your point?" Jack said, tossing both of their jackets onto an empty chair. He waved at the room filled with Christmas Eve revelers. "We came. We saw. We fulfilled our social obligation."
"We should at least say hello to a few people," Daniel said, giving Jack a slight shove away from the door. The unused storage room at the bottom of the mountain was strewn with tinsel. A straggly tree with a severe list to the left graced one corner of the room.
"Don't want to make nice," Jack complained. He saw these people every day at work. Admittedly, he also saw Daniel at work every day, too. But not naked. "Want to go home and really raise the holiday spirit."
Daniel followed Jack's gaze across the room. General Hammond, dressed in a moth eaten Santa suit, was leading a procession of the SGC's more diminutive personnel, all of whom were dressed entirely in green.
"What the hell are they supposed to be?" Jack asked, eyeing the little green people suspiciously.
"Elves, I would imagine."
"Elves don't have green skin."
"Apparently, tonight, they do."
"Let's check it out." Jack got three steps in the direction of the potential largesse before coming up short against a solid wall of Jaffa. After a quick body check to make sure he hadn't suffered any damage in the collision, Jack grinned at Teal'c.
"T, my friend. What's up?"
"O'Neill, I wished to present my present to you in person," Teal'c said, offering a brightly wrapped box.
"Cool." Jack ripped the paper and opened the box to find...jammies. Flannel jammies. He didn't have anything against flannel jammies in particular. It was just that sleeping with Daniel made jammies, of any kind, somewhat superfluous.
"They're...pajamas," Jack said. He didn't have anything against flannel either. A nice flannel shirt was just the thing to get you in the mood when there was wood to be chopped. But....
"Flannel pajamas," Jack said, showing them to Daniel. Daniel simply nodded, apparently as perplexed by the gift as Jack.
"I believe they will be most comforting while you recover from your ordeal," Teal'c said.
"Thanks." Jack frowned. "Er...what ordeal?"
"Hey, I think I just saw Siler over there," Daniel said quickly, tugging Jack by the arm.
"So I think we should go wish him a Merry Christmas."
"But...." Jack pulled back only to find that Teal'c had disappeared into the crowd. Which was a pretty good trick for a brick outhouse of a man with a gold tattoo on his forehead and a snake in his gut.
"Jammies?" Jack asked as he allowed Daniel pull him across the room. "Do I look like someone who needs jammies?"
"I don't know," Daniel said. "What does a person who needs jammies look like?"
"Er...lonely?" Jack suggested.
"Merry Christmas, sir, Daniel," Sam said, popping up in front of them. She handed Jack a flat package.
"And to you, Major." Jack accepted the gift, staring at the sprig of greenery mounted on a wire protruding from Sam's headband. "Did you know that you've sprouted a weed?"
"It's very...festive," Daniel said.
"Planning to catch the big one?" Jack asked with a derisive snort.
"You never know," Sam said, undeterred by Jack's skepticism. "But as you know, sir, it's not about the fish. It's about the fish-ing. And I can always throw the little ones back."
"When you say 'little' ones...?" Daniel said.
"Magazines?" Jack interrupted, staring at his present.
"You really need some new reading material for the bathroom, Colonel. Especially now."
"What's wrong with the reading material I already have?"
"Out of date much?" Sam said. "You've got a Field & Stream that's at least ten years old."
"But it has the crappie centerfold," Jack protested.
"I know," Sam said.
"Not crappy--crappie," Jack said. "And what do you mean--especially now?"
"Oh, there's Siler," Daniel said, grabbing Jack's arm again.
"Where?" Sam asked, making the mistletoe wobble as she scanned the room. Jack pulled back in alarm as the greenery threatened to invade his airspace.
"Um...over there?" Daniel said, gesturing vaguely.
"Excuse me," Sam said, pushing Jack out of the way.
"Big wrench, sir."
"He's compensating," Jack called after her. Jack turned back to see Daniel gazing speculatively at him. "Well, he is."
"And you would know this...?"
"Intuitively," Jack said. He glanced down at his...presents. "Pajamas and magazines: does everyone think I have no life?"
"It's the thought that counts."
"The thought that I have no life?"
"Um...no, just the thought...." Daniel looked away.
"Uh huh," Jack said, unconvinced.
"Oh, good, Colonel, I'm glad to see you're getting ready."
Jack and Daniel looked behind them to find a small, green figure beaming at them.
"That's it!" Jack said, pointing at Janet.
"What?" Daniel asked.
"I've been trying to remember what the green skin reminded me of," Jack said. "I remembered--it's the Grinch."
"I beg your pardon," the little green doctor said.
"It was either that or the Jolly Green Giant...but you're kinda lacking something when it comes to that whole 'giant' aspect."
"That's it--you're off my good boy list," Janet warned.
"Ask me if I care," Jack said bravely.
"Thank you, sir, I now have absolutely no qualms about giving you this," Janet said, handing Jack a heavy, oddly shaped package. Eyeing the doctor warily, Jack tore off the paper to reveal a plastic jug.
"What's Golytely?" Jack asked, staring at the label on the jug.
"A complete misnomer," Janet said with decidedly un-elflike maliciousness. "Eat, drink and be merry tonight, Colonel, for tomorrow you purge."
"Your colonoscopy is scheduled for December 26th," Janet said, wiping at the green greasepaint smeared under her eyes.
"Imagine how thrilled I was to get your email saying that you were finally ready to face the inevitable," Janet said. "I was impressed by your sudden and unexpected maturity.... Then I realized that Daniel had hijacked your addy."
"You? You!" Jack said, turning on Daniel. Daniel's eyes went for the door, obviously calculating the odds of outrunning Jack.
"Now, sir, if you'd just taken care of this two months ago when you had your physical...."
"I took care of everything that needed to be taken care of," Jack said.
"A man your age...."
"There's nothing wrong with my age."
"...can't afford to take chances," Janet said.
"I'm not doing it."
"Then you'll be flying a desk, Colonel."
"Way," Janet said with all the authority of her position as Head Elf and C.M.O. "I'm suspending you from field duty until your physical exam is complete."
"That's Napoleonic power mongering at its finest," Janet said smugly. "Now I suggest you follow the directions exactly so that you're thoroughly prepared."
"Right," Jack said sarcastically. "Because I want to make it easy for some fetishist to boldly go where no man has gone before."
"I don't know who you think you're kidding there," Janet said. Daniel blushed and stared at his shoes. Jack tried to project an air of shocked innocence...because bluffing was all he had. "And don't be late. Dr. Green has a full schedule."
"Dr. Green?" Jack asked.
"Your proctologist. Second elf from the rear," Janet said, waving at an elven conga line that was weaving its way around the room.
"Well, that's appropriate," Daniel said. Janet and Jack both glared at him.
"Don't be late," Janet repeated as she stomped off to remind Elf #7 that no matter how hot the wool costume was, elves did not go topless.
"I'm not going. No fucking fairy is going to stick his tube up my ass on Christmas," Jack said, outraged. Daniel turned on him with an upraised eyebrow. "What?"
"Think carefully, Jack. You might want to rephrase that."
"Wh...? No, I meant him," Jack said, pointing across the room at the short elf with large arms. Thick, muscular arms that scared Jack in ways he'd never considered before.
"He's an elf."
"Fine. No fucking elf is sticking a tube up my ass on Christmas."
"Day after Christmas."
"Whatever." Jack seethed silently for a moment, despising everyone and everything associated with the SGC. And what kind of lame consolation were jammies and magazines? The very least they could've done was give him drugs. Good ones. The kind that would ensure that he'd wake up three days from now with absolutely no memory of having been probed. "And I can't believe you did this to me."
"Jack, I want you to be healthy."
"I am healthy."
"Then I want you to stay that way," Daniel said. "For Pete's sake, Jack, you've fought the Goa'uld. Why are you so afraid of a...."
"Have you seen the arms on that guy?"
"Arms?" Puzzled, Daniel turned to study Dr. Green more carefully.
"He'll be using a scope," Daniel said, exasperated. "He's not going to stick his arm up your ass. Although, if he is, I want to be there."
"You're a sick man, Dr. Jackson."
"That's why you love me," Daniel said softly.
"Not," Jack said. Daniel just smiled. "And who is this guy anyway?"
"He's from the Academy hospital," Daniel explained. "Dr. Fraiser felt it should be someone with security clearance."
"You're saying my ass is classified?" Jack asked, stunned by the possibility.
"Um...." Daniel looked around. "Cream puff?"
"Hardly," Jack said indignantly. "I've spent most of my career on hazardous duty."
"No, I just meant.... Would you like a cream puff?"
Jack followed Daniel's gesture to see a perplexed elf offering a tray of green and red pastries. Jack was pretty sure the red ones were cherry. He was afraid to ask what the green ones were.
"No. Thank you," Jack said, waving the girl away. He looked down at his 'gifts,' then turned back to Daniel. "You set this up."
"It has to be done, Jack."
"And spoiling my Christmas is just a bonus, right?"
"No, that was Janet's doing. I wasn't planning to tell you until tomorrow night. And don't be calling her names. The bottom line--you should excuse the expression--is that your friends care about you."
"Humph. With friends like this who needs a proctologist," Jack grumbled.
"Why don't you go sit down for a minute? I'll get us something to drink."
"That won't make me feel any better."
"No, but it'll do wonders for me," Daniel muttered as he headed for the refreshment table. Scowling, Jack made his way to a folding chair against the back wall. He sagged into the chair and dropped his bounty on the floor.
"General," Jack said. Hammond plopped down in a chair next to Jack and yanked the fake beard off of his sweaty face. He leaned over and grabbed something from his toy bag before shoving it under the chair.
"Ho ho ho," Hammond said, tossing a monkey at Jack.
"A stuffed animal," Jack said, staring at the green and red plush toy. "Apparently made by one of the more psychologically unstable of Santa's elves."
"Left over from the children's party this afternoon," Hammond said, gratefully accepting a drink from Daniel as he returned.
"And you thought of me. I'm touched." Jack turned his head to stare at Hammond. "And apparently so are you."
Hammond pointedly turned his gaze to the stack of 'presents' at Jack's feet.
"It could've been worse, son." Hammond settled back in to his chair and took a long drink. "Besides, you never know when you might need a stuffed monkey."
"That's...very true, sir," Jack said. He could feel Daniel's eyes boring into him. "Sometimes there's just nothing like a stuffed monkey."
"General, if you'll excuse us, Jack has a busy day tomorrow," Daniel said, his eyes still fixed on Jack.
"So I see," Hammond said, watching as Jack gathered up his 'gifts.' "A word of advice, Jack?"
"Honestly, sir, I don't think I could bear to hear it right now."
"No, probably not," Hammond said, nodding. "Well, good luck."
"Thank you, sir. As always, I leave our conversation feeling both grateful and frightened."
"As it should be."
Daniel steered Jack through the crowd, not stopping for anything, not even to wish Siler a Merry Christmas when they passed him. Janet was trying to stem the blood flow from a suspicious puncture wound in the middle of Siler's forehead. Jack suspected that Carter's mistletoe had claimed another victim. One she'd obviously thrown back. Jack knew he'd been compensating.
"I hate singing," Jack said, glaring at the festive chorus currently murdering "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
"And all the little Whos down in Whoville?" Daniel asked.
"The Grinch was entirely justified in making a preemptive strike," Jack said as he tried to find a route through the carolers to the exit.
"Even the Grinch found the true meaning of Christmas."
"The Grinch was a wuss." Jack looked at Daniel. "The Grinch probably got a colonoscopy for Christmas, which is what made him grinchy in the first place."
"I don't know about that. I always thought the Grinch looked like more than his heart was two sizes too small."
Jack winced as the carolers screeched on...and on and on...about turtledoves and sheep and geese and what the hell kind of present was a bunch of barnyard animals? A nice dog, maybe, but a partridge?
"And why are the lords leaping anyway?" Jack asked.
"Because they mistook the Ben-Gay for lube?" Daniel suggested.
"That was an honest mistake. And it's not like you were the only one suffering," Jack said. A quiet "hmph" was his only response.
"Dare I ask what my true love is giving to me?" Jack asked.
"Well, you'll have to wait until we get home for your real gift. But in keeping with the night's theme...." Daniel produced a gift wrapped tube from his pocket.
"How thoughtful," Jack said, glaring at the Preparation H. "That does it. This is my last Christmas. I'm converting."
"I'm starting my own religion," Jack said after considering the other possibilities.
"Based on what principles?"
"On the principle that I don't believe in proctologists. Or elves," Jack said, glowering at Janet as she bounced by, leading the bunny hopping elves. "In fact, I believe in nothing."
"And I believe that's called nihilism," Daniel said.
"I thought it was called atheism."
"No, atheism is the lack of belief in anything. Nihilism is the belief in nothing." Daniel paused as he retrieved their coats. "Or maybe it's the other way around."
"You say shit like that just to confuse me," Jack accused.
"Yes, you. You're trying to distract me and it's not going to work."
"Please," Daniel said with mock disdain. "I have far more efficient methods of distraction. And they most definitely do work."
"Not for the entire...." Jack glanced at his watch. "Thirty-four hours."
"Is that a challenge, Colonel O'Neill?"
"I believe it is, Dr. Jackson."
"Guess I'll have to put my money where my mouth is then."
"Kinky," Jack said.
"So says the guy who's getting a tube up his ass for Christmas," Daniel said, shoving Jack out the door.
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