Explorations in Custom: Chapter 1

A man knew his career had taken a twist for the strange, when it was actually a relief to see the team’s male translator and honorary geek decked out in a dress. What caused Jack’s brows to quirk, however, was the sight of Teal’c similarly outfitted.

“Do I want to know?”

Daniel blinked at him, and then looked down at himself. He sighed. “This isn’t what you think it is, Jack,” he muttered. “They were insistent.” He brushed away imaginary wrinkles for a beat, before cringing and looking up again. “These are kimono—uh, the people here seem to have taken after Asian cultures. Specifically, the Japanese.”

Head cocked, the leader stood scrutinizing the various layers that were wrapped around their main muscle man. “That’s nice and all, Daniel,” he said dismissively, then, “Can you even lift your arms?” he skeptically asked the Jaffa.

In answer, Teal’c raised his free arm—the one not holding his Ma’Tok staff—and then dropped it. “Movement is not an issue,” he deadpanned. “It seems to have been designed with that in mind.”

Daniel made a face and shook his head. “Probably,” he muttered, and glanced around. “Where’d Captain Carter go?”

Like he couldn’t keep track of his own team members. “She went to the little lady’s room,” Jack drawled, swinging around to regard Daniel. “You two took a while.” He blinked when he realized the blond’s hair was actually… combed. And shiny. “What, they spit shined you too?”

Shaking his head, Daniel just sighed. “I couldn’t refuse, you know. It’d be rude, and they did just help us out of a potentially sticky situation.” He patted the front of the wrap-around garment. “Besides, they’re gifts, very precious gifts. This kimono alone would have caught quite a price on the market, and they’re just… giving it to us.”

“Huh, well I hope you got that in writing buddy—that we all can understand,” Jack intoned, waving a hand at the rest of the room. “I need you to get us back home, now. Before someone else throws a fit about how I bow.”

The linguist actually looked disappointed. “Oh,” he sighed.

xXx

Somehow, Daniel just wasn’t surprised to find himself in this situation. Though, it was a bit of a nice change to watch Jack suffer. “Enjoying yourself?” the archaeologist couldn’t help asking as Jack sipped obliviously at the ceremonial wine.

To the man’s credit, the colonel froze—with a mouthful of alcohol. To Daniel’s further delight, Jack swallowed before turning his head. “Maybe… Why?”

Daniel smiled in thanks when one of the women offered him a glass of juice. “Oh, no reason… Mr. Groom,” he replied, trying to keep a straight face and mostly failing.

The jug-head blinked once, then groaned. “You’re kidding me, right?” Slapping a hand over his eyes, Jack peeked through them at the feast surrounding the two SG members. “Was it the pie? I bet it was the pie. Or maybe the custard.”

“Uh, no, thanks,” Daniel said, shaking his head quickly when an amused girl tried to offer him the wine. She didn’t seem too upset, but that might be because she was plotting Jack’s untimely marriage to her sister. “The wine, Jack.”

Tilting the glass still in his hand, Jack wrinkled his nose. “And you didn’t tell me…”

Snickering, Daniel shrugged. “Well, in my defense, by the time I noticed, you were already drinking.”

“Uh huh. So, how do you even know whom I’m betrothed to?”

“Which one handed it to you?” Daniel asked. “It is up to her to make the offer, as a… a symbol of trust and knowledge. She finds you to be the kind of man she seeks for in a husband and father of her children.” He was loving this. Teach him to gripe at me about those kimono.

Both of Jack’s eyebrows had shot up. “How is that ‘knowledge’?” he asked. “I didn’t know what she was doing, and there’s no way she can assume… You know what? I think I have a better idea.”

Taking a deep draught of the wine, Jack emptied the entire glass. Then tossed said cup into the linguist’s hands. Daniel caught it of course, but when he looked up to reprimand the oaf for potentially shattering a priceless item, Jack… was right in his face.

“Uh—Jack, wait, what are you—”

One brown brow quirked, and then Jack was pressing his lips to Daniel’s… and the wine was leaking through.

Sunovabitch, Daniel thought as, to his mortification, there was a series of stifled giggles around them. And Jack was kissing him. And wine. And—Oh god, he just—

Daniel cut that thought off with a surprised flail. He jerked back and nearly fell over, if not for the grinning idiot’s grip on his bicep. “Jack! Did you—do you have any idea what you just—?!” And more outraged/surprised/disbelieving flails from Daniel followed this. “JACK!”

Smug didn’t even begin to describe the man’s expression. He fairly radiated contentment. “I’m keeping the marriage within our own culture,” Jack announced. He shrugged at the two girls pouting at the other side of the table. “Sorry ladies.”

“Did you have to friggin’ kiss me?” Daniel hissed under his breath, incensed. Jack was such a cop-out sometimes!

The cause of this disaster turned to give the blond a pitying look. “Buddy… CPR has more tongue than that. That wasn’t a kiss.” One corner of his wine-stained lips tilted up. “Besides, I figured this was much more direct and looks like a prior claim. I can’t be betrothed to two people.” Jack blinked. “I hope.”

Scowling as he wiped at his mouth, Daniel shook his head. “They’re monogamous,” he replied irritably. “And you’re a jerk.”

Reaching forward, Jack plucked the wine glass from Daniel’s grasp and returned it to the table, standing defiantly between their plates. “And why am I a jerk, hmm?”

“As if you don’t know,” the archaeologist huffed, crossing his arms. “You could have just asked how to turn them down, you know. I’m sure you’re not the first foreigner they’ve come across. You didn’t have to use me as your shield.”

Again those eyebrows had risen. Shaking his head, Jack sighed and lightly tapped a palm to the back of the blond’s head. “I’ve never used you as a shield. I’m just… stating my preferences.” Shrugging, the air force man turned away from Daniel’s gaping jaw. “But, like you said, feel free to turn me down.”

A beat, and then a groan. “You delight in making my life difficult, don’t you?” the other man may have muttered. Daniel paused again, and got an amusing idea. Very calmly, he reached for the wine, winked at the curiously watching girls (somehow, he got the feeling that they’d expected refusal on Jack’s part—otherwise they’d be more upset), and filled the glass. He took a sip and set it next to Jack’s elbow. “I accept.”

For a moment, there was no movement. Then Jack chuckled. He picked up a pair of chopsticks, fumbled at a piece of meat and lifted the whole arrangement up. “And we are two adults, who fully know what we are doing?” he asked, gaze firmly planted on the morsel above his plate.

“One of us more than the other, obviously,” Daniel retorted, amused, and bowed slightly under the curious stares.

Jack hummed. “Good to know,” he murmured, then swung around to offer the tidbit just before Daniel’s nose. Grinning, he watched as the linguist blinked. “Eat up, you’ll need your strength for the explaining we have to do between now and shut eye.”

Making a face at him, Daniel lifted a hand and quickly accepted the meat. One of these days, he was going to be able to walk away with the upper hand. One of these days.

xXx

“I don’t understand.” Blonde brows scrunched in confusion. “You two… are married?”

This debriefing had to be the best one yet, Jack decided, leaning back in his chair. “Yup.”

Giving the smug man a disgusted look, Daniel hastened to explain. “Well, the people there were quite enamored with him. One of the women wanted to marry him, and by the time I realized what was up… well, he’d almost accepted. We probably could have found less insulting ways of smoothing things over, but… that did end up being the path of least resistance.”

And now Teal’c was giving them—or more specifically, Jack—an odd look. “And they were not upset?”

“Nope,” the colonel preened. “I think I managed that one quite well actually.”

“Indeed,” the Jaffa replied flatly. Which was just Teal’c-talk for being utterly baffled by the whole situation.

Hammond was giving them both a very unimpressed look. “Given that Dr. Jackson is technically a civilian, I really can’t intervene in… whatever this is,” he said slowly. “Just… don’t let it interfere with work, whatever it is you both do from here on out.”

Now it was Jack’s turn to be confused. “You mean…” He rocked forward, letting his hands rest on the table in front of him. “Er, yes sir.” Honestly, he thought the whole thing would be discarded as playing along with the locals. It wasn’t the first time they had to fudge something.

Daniel was nodding quickly, and had apparently decided that he needed to redirect the conversation. “Right, well, anyway, it seems the team made a good impression. They’re quite willing to ally themselves with us, and they have several advantages to their way of life that would be good for trade. So, mission a success, I think.”

“It would seem they are in fear of the Goa’uld,” Teal’c piped up. “They were not subtle about their desire for assistance against them.”

“Not subtle at all,” Jack added. “Actually, we think that’s why I was proposed to in the first place. Securing relations. The groom provides for the bride.” He snorted. “They were sneaky about the actual proposition though. At least to me.” He glared at the geek.

Reaching out to grab his bottled water off the table, Daniel bit back a smirk and pretended not to see the look. Hammond sighed. “Well, as long as they’re truly receptive to alliance, I see no reason not to set about negotiations.”

Daniel choked on his water. “Oh, right!” he coughed, and paused a beat. Wrong pipe. “Uh, they don’t speak much English, so whatever embassador you choose to be the go-between, they should know Japanese. That’s the, uh… main language spoken there, at least in the area we stayed in.” Pause. “There’re also giant spiders, just… so you know.”

Hammond did a double-take at that. “Giant….?”

“Spiders.” The archaeologist waved an arm dismissively. “The locals are pretty on top of it. They treat them like pests—like we treat raccoons and rodents. They even have developed pesticides for them. It’s really rather remarkable…”

“Geek boy there found out that the locals have an extensive library of antivenoms. Enough that Australia would be jealous,” Jack said, shrugging. “Also, their leg guards are tougher than kevlar.”

Looking impressed, Hammond leaned back in his chair. “Antivenoms and leg guards. Sounds promising,” he admitted. “Is there anything else of note, or that needs to be noted about the land? I expect that Dr. Jackson will get me a detailed report on their customs within the week…”

Sheepishly, Daniel ducked his head in a nod at the subtle rebuke. “Yes, sir. I will,” he assured the general quickly. “And no, nothing else I can think of to note…”

“Good. You’re all dismissed, then,” Hammond replied.

A random thought wriggled its way into his mind as Jack snapped a salute. A different way of looking at his situation. Waiting as the others cleared the room, he cleared his throat. “Uh, sir?”

Getting to his feet, the general lifted both brows. “What is it, Colonel?”

“Seeing as it’s a good bet they’ll be allies…” Jack shifted his weight. “What are the chances of representatives visiting?”

Those brows climbed higher, and it may have been Jack’s imagination, but the old man actually looked like he was laughing. “I’d say it’s pretty fair,” he replied. “They’re bound to be curious about our world, and if we’re wandering all around theirs… not to mention that here at base is a decently secure location, which we’ll need for drawing up agreements.” Pause. “Why?”

That random thought quickly morphed into a dreadful feeling with claws. “According to their culture, I’m a married man, sir,” he answered. “According to our culture, I’m not…” Watching the other man’s face, Jack sighed. “You’re going to tell me that it’s the thought that counts, aren’t you?”

Hammond snorted. “I’m going to tell you that it’s your own mess, and you know where Dr. Jackson is so you can talk to him in depth about how you’re going to keep these people from being offended by us.” He smirked. “Good luck, Colonel.”

Well… it seemed like a good idea at that time. And Daniel had a smirk then that just begged to be wiped off. “Thank you, sir,” he replied before saluting again and taking his leave.

Danny was going to love this.

If he was lucky, maybe there was a spider that could spin back time, but Jack doubted it.

xXx

Daniel was already working on the requested report when Jack found him an hour later. On a nearby table was a tray of food that was almost cold, and was untouched, and the linguist was elbow-deep in stacks of papers and books. He went back and forth between them a few times, jotting down notes, for several minutes before he must have sensed Jack’s presence.

His head lifted, and the blond blinked. “Oh, Jack, hi,” he said, and almost immediately ducked his head again. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in. I was just…” He trailed off, brow wrinkling as he reached over his desk and snagged a packet from the back corner to compare with what was in front of him. “Just… um, working…”

Snorting, the colonel lifted up the tray of congealing potatoes and gravy and something they considered poultry meat, and plunked down a fresh-made burger. With all the fixings. So fresh, you could smell the grease still cooking.

And even Daniel couldn’t resist that smell. “Oh right,” he said, remembering that he’d been supposed to eat. He blinked up at the older male. “Is that for me?”

Jack rolled his eyes. “No, I’m here to tempt you with my dinner. Yes, Daniel, it’s for you.”

“Sorry,” the archaeologist said sheepishly, and gestured vaguely toward the only other chair in the room. “Thanks.” He set some of the work carefully aside and dug in.

Honestly, he wasn’t even thinking of anything until the hiss of a beer can jarred him from the heaven that was his second bite of beef. The can in question was set on the desk—on a coaster—just beside his plate.

“… thanks,” Daniel said, picking it up and giving Jack an odd look. He’s being strange. Why is he being strange?

Gaze skipping around everywhere but at Daniel, the colonel seemed to be cataloguing all the nearby items on the desk and the shelves around the linguist. “You’re welcome.”

Okay, that’s it. Daniel slowly set down the beer and the burger, and sat back into his seat. “Alright, out with it.”

One calloused hand came up to rub through short hair as Jack looked away. “Could you… define marriage for me?”

So that’s what this was about. “You mean, as the people of P4X-256 see it?” he asked, brows arching.

At that, the older man grimaced and grunted. “Yeah.”

Bemused, but more than willing to feed the other man’s curiosity, Daniel shrugged. “Um, well, like any other marriage, I guess. The people there seem to work under gender roles, but that’s nothing new. Generally, the women are master of the house, and the men are breadwinners, or warriors. The men have some say when it comes to the welfare of those under their roof, but ultimately, the women run the show behind closed doors…”

He frowned and sat back. “I guess, it comes off as an even trade… er, if you want to know something more specific, just ask it.” He wasn’t a mind reader, and Jack looked damned uncomfortable.

“Specifics, huh?” Jack glanced down at the floor, before raising and meeting Daniel’s gaze. “Public roles, then. Same-sex marriages. General says we might be having reps coming over eventually.”

Blink. “Oh,” Daniel muttered, understanding dawning. “Oh.” He smacked his palm to his forehead, narrowly missing his glasses. “Oh.” He dropped his hand, then lifted it to tug off his glasses and clean them, a nervous habit that he’d had forever. “Oh, um… uh, well… I… I don’t know…” Was it just him, or was it hot all of a sudden? “I mean, they’ll assume… um… oh… Well, people fall into roles… naturally… Because…” It was definitely too hot. “And all… They’ll just expect it from us, and…”

And oh god, why didn’t he think about this? I’m an idiot. “Oh, and they might even be curious… About our customs, I mean.” But that was an eventuality that he just had to plan for… though how, he had no idea.

“Breathe, Daniel.” As the blond sucked in air, Jack continued. “I know we said it was a marriage in the briefing, but you said it was more a betrothal right?” One brow was raised. “So… would we fall in the ‘date has been set’ stage or the courting phase?”

Right. Steps. “Um, the… the ‘date has been set’,” Daniel replied, and sighed.

“Thought so,” Jack muttered and slumped down into the chair. “Can we keep the ambassadors from getting hold of our marital statuses?”

“Their people? Probably,” Daniel replied. “Ours?” He shrugged helplessly.

Smiling ruthlessly, the man across from him tilted his head up to regard the ceiling. “At least this time, I’m married to someone I know,” he said lightly. “The good thing is, our status has no impact on our professional lives. So they can’t expect us to act like teenagers in public.” Jack’s head back down to regard Daniel. “Right?”

“They’ll expect us to want our privacy,” Daniel reassured the other man. “That’s not to say they won’t ask questions anyway, but we do have some leeway—well. With the foreigners….” He didn’t need to say how bad things would get if, say, Ferretti were to hear about this.

From the way Jack’s left eye was ticking, he got the subtext. “So we can come clean and step on a few toes; bring the entire base into the lie and really risk the alliance and hope no one slips up—don’t give me that look, I know it’s not likely; or we make this as authentic on both sides as possible…” Lifting his hands, he leaned back in the chair. “Hey, I’m willing to hear your ideas too!”

Daniel grimaced. “It’s just… I really don’t like the thought of… of deceiving…” He ran a hand through his hair. “I mean, you saw how much they poked and prodded us after that. We may not have accepted their women, but we accepted their way of life, which is pretty much the same thing politically. And if we were to turn around and say ‘oh but we didn’t mean it’, then that’d be a damper on trust—how can they take us seriously?”

At this point, he was mostly rambling to himself, to be honest. “I just… I honestly don’t know…” He paused and shook his head, backtracking abruptly. “Not—not that there’s anything wrong with—er… you,” he added lamely.

Right. Stop babbling. He huffed out a sigh, brows furrowing as he thought about it. “Honestly? I… don’t really have any better ideas.”

The beer can made a second appearance, being firmly slid forward. “Take a swig,” Jack advised. “So option ‘come clean’ is a no go. Same as bringing the whole mountain in on the joke… which means…” Jack broke off with a deprecating laugh. “Why didn’t you just refuse my proposal?”

Daniel huffed and picked up the beer. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “Caught up in the moment, I guess.” He took a couple gulps and set it down. “This means we’re going to have to get married, doesn’t it?”

Snickering, Jack slapped a palm over his eyes. “And there’s nothing the brass can do to stop us,” he added half-hysterically.

“Could be worse,” Daniel reasoned between drinks. “I could be Ferretti.”

Jack’s expression was pretty much priceless.

xXx

— | Table of Contents | Chapter 2

A/N: And now for something completely different…
This is also being posted up on AO3.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s