Need a Little Christmas

By Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal

Well, this is a few days late this year but, after all, it’s still the holidays and there’s still the big New Year’s celebrations to come. Happy Holidays, everyone. Daniel’s coming home soon. Please send feedback to: ashton7@aol.com

Major Samantha Carter and Teal’c stood in the midst of utter chaos and stared in stunned disbelief. They glanced at each other and then back at the blinding mess in front of them.

Finally, Teal’c said, very solemnly, “O’Neill could not have done this by himself.”

Carter nodded in agreement, just as serious. “He only left the Mountain a few hours ago. This…this…” she couldn’t quite find the right word to describe what she was seeing. She just shook her head.

Teal’c understood her, though. “Indeed.”

“I don’t see any way through this stuff. Do you?” Carter asked the Jaffa.

Teal’c scanned the way in front of them intently. “Perhaps it is an NID plot of some kind?” he finally wondered. “To keep us from O’Neill.”

It was a rather farfetched idea, but Carter was starting to wonder. Then again, Teal’c was probably trying to make a joke; it was hard to tell with the Jaffa sometimes. Just as she was about to reply, a glint in the grass near her feet caught her eye and she bent to check it out. With a sigh, she picked up the noticeably empty bottle and easily read it in the glare from the blinding lights. “Uh, no, Teal’c.” She held up the bottle for his inspection. “Jack Daniels.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow and turned away. “We will attempt to enter through O’Neill’s back door.” He began to make his way carefully around the edge of Colonel Jack O’Neill’s front yard, cautiously stepping over rows of twinkling lights and here and there a lighted lawn sculpture lying on its side – whether pushed over by the cold wind that was beginning to blow or purposefully set up that way, there was no way of telling.

Carter wrapped her arms around herself, fighting off the growing chill, and took another moment to “appreciate” the colonel’s handiwork, although she still couldn’t fathom how he could have possibly decked out his house, his lawn, his roof, his garage…even his huge truck with so many thousands of lights in mere hours. She’d been by his house the day before to drop off some of the groceries for their planned Christmas dinner, so she knew absolutely that none of these lights had been there then. And the team had been on a quick mission through the gate for most of last night, barely returning in time for Christmas. Frankly, she’d been surprised when the colonel had said that he still intended to have them over for dinner and he was going on home ahead of them to get things started. He’d been absolutely insistent, maintaining in his usual gruff manner, “We need a little Christmas around here, Carter.” She’d been happy, though. As tired as they were, she still wanted to share a bit of the holiday with her teammates.

A grin tugged at her lips as she thought of Jonas, Cassandra and Janet arriving to find this Christmas display lighting up the colonel’s entire neighborhood. No doubt, Jonas and Cassandra would at least find it funny. Having come from other worlds, they weren’t used to Tau’ri Christmas customs and oddities and even after several years on Earth, Cassandra still found the holidays amusing and wonderful. Jonas had watched a lot of holiday movies on the base with Teal’c over the last few weeks, but this was his first Christmas on Earth and he was bound to find this all-out decorating travesty “fascinating.” There was a herd of reindeer, a rather tipsy looking Santa, and something that looked like a weird Christmas chipmunk dotted around the yard, most of them decked in lights of their own, some twinkling and some burning with a steady glow. Giant colored balls, red, green, blue and white, were strung across the front of the porch. There was a huge, blow-up, lighted Frosty the Snowman with a rather evil grin on his face looming in the middle of the yard display, surrounded by a veritable forest of multi-colored, lighted trees with flashing stars on top of them. The whole thing might have been rather pretty, if vulgarly overdone. But the lights were strewn here and there and everywhere in what was obviously drunken disarray, creeping up the trunk of every tree, over every bush, along the walkway, across the sidewalk, up the columns of the porch… She didn’t even want to think about what those two reindeer over to one side were supposed to be doing to each other…and the display on the garage door! Actually, she’d better do something about that one before General Hammond arrived and had a shock.

With a sigh, she turned to follow Teal’c around to the colonel’s back yard.

The back yard was empty, although the glow from the front yard and the lights on the roof, spilled enough illumination into it to make it easy to find her way. The sliding glass door to the colonel’s kitchen was already open but there was no sign of Teal’c. Carter assumed he’d already entered the residence, but whether O’Neill had let him in or he had simply broken in, she didn’t know. Of course, the door might have been unlocked. She proceeded cautiously, giving a little yelp when Teal’c suddenly stuck his head back out the open door.

“Come, Major Carter. O’Neill is in need of coffee.”

She shook her head. “In other words, he’s drunk.”

“As we suspected,” Teal’c agreed, disappearing back into the house.

At least it was warm inside, but there was a noticeable lack of Christmasy aromas. In other words, no Christmas dinner in the oven. Carter stopped on her way through the kitchen, just to be certain. As she was beginning to suspect, the oven wasn’t even turned on. She opened the refrigerator and there was a huge uncooked turkey on the bottom shelf, still wrapped up in plastic. Various other dishes, half made for the most part, were sitting on shelves or on the kitchen counter. It didn’t look like Colonel O’Neill had so much as started on warming anything up. There was a roll of store bought cookie dough setting on a cookie sheet on the counter, not even so much as sliced up.

She sighed heavily as she shut the refrigerator door, resigned to the fact that if they were going to feast at all on this Christmas day, they were going to have to go out to eat. While “A Christmas Story” was one of her favorite holiday movies, she hadn’t really aspired to emulating the dinner scene where the family has to go out for Chinese on Christmas day.

The coffee maker was already gurgling, rich black liquid flowing into the pot and the wonderful smell beginning to fill the kitchen. Teal’c had evidently prepared it and turned it on. At least they would all have something hot to drink soon.

She could hear voices coming from the living room now. Teal’c’s low, familiar and patient rumble and a rather slurred voice that had to be Colonel Jack O’Neill. Sighing again, she went to join them. This was just too bizarre. What could have possessed the colonel to get so drunk? And so quickly, too! He knew the team and other members of the SGC were coming over to his house to eat. It just wasn’t like him to be so irresponsible.

Teal’c had O’Neill sitting up in a chair by the time she got there and was kneeling at his side, checking him for injuries. O’Neill was a mess. His hair was mussed and his eyes red and bleary looking. His tan sweater and blue jeans and his face were smudged with streaks of dirt. He’d obviously been crawling all over his yard and house, putting up the decorations. Although he seemed to have a few bruises here and there, he appeared to otherwise be all right. “Carter!” he said, obviously happy to see her. “The gang’s all here!”

“Colonel,” she said, not certain whether she wanted to laugh or cry. “What have you done?”

“Wanted to decorate the house,” he slurred. “Make it pretty.” He turned to Teal’c, suddenly looking like he was going to cry. “For my friends. Buddy.” He clumsily patted Teal’c on the arm.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “You are inebriated, O’Neill.”

“Yeah,” O’Neill agreed. “Started with the eggnog, but the rum didn’t last.” He paused to contemplate the wall, his brow furrowed. “Didn’t know what to do. Jack Daniels.”

He giggled and Carter felt a cold chill run down her spine. She didn’t think she’d ever heard the colonel giggle before. It was…bizarre. “What about the Jack Daniels,” she prompted.

O’Neill was still laughing a little. “Was his idea. Pretty funny. Good one.”

Carter stared. “Whose idea, sir?”

O’Neill blinked up at her, suddenly serious again. “Daniel’s, of course. Silly girl.”

Teal’c and Carter exchanged a look.

“Daniel told you to drink the Jack Daniels,” Carter said.

O’Neill nodded. “Yup. Ran out, though. Had to drink the Cuervo, too.” He seemed to find this even funnier and pounded on Teal’c’s arm as he laughed louder. “And the peppermint Schnapps. Sorry ‘bout that, big guy. Meant to share.”

Carter narrowed her eyes, growing alarmed. Maybe the colonel had had some kind of breakdown. “Sir,” she said, trying to sound gentle. “Daniel is dead.”

“No he isn’t,” O’Neill immediately insisted.

“Okay,” Carter corrected herself. “Maybe he isn’t ‘dead.’ But he’s gone. He’s not here. He didn’t tell you to drink anything.”

“Oh, yes he did. Little space monkey.”

“O’Neill,” Teal’c said, “Major Carter is correct. Daniel Jackson is not here.”

O’Neill set his jaw stubbornly and glared up at them.

“Okay,” Carter said, realizing that talking to the colonel while he was so totally inebriated was a waste of time. She turned to Teal’c. “Look, we’ve got to do something about that garage door before General Hammond gets here.”

“What’s wrong with my garage door,” O’Neill mumbled, sounding like he was working up to a good drunken sulk.

“Nothing, sir, except for the fact that there’s a full scale Stargate on it in lights.”

O’Neill’s bleary eyes actually lit up. “Wow. Really? I told Daniel that was a dumb idea.”

“We must also rearrange the deer,” Teal’c put in. He stood up and looked down at O’Neill. “There are two reindeer copulating on your front lawn.”

O’Neill chuckled. “Good one, Danny boy.”

“Perhaps we should call Doctor Mackenzie,” Teal’c said to Carter.

Maybe they should. Then again, maybe the colonel was just drunk out of his mind and once he had some coffee and slept it off, he’d be fine again. She’d hate to have the colonel hauled off to Mental Health by Mackenzie just because he’d gotten smashed on Christmas day and he missed their teammate and friend, Daniel Jackson. To be honest, she was actually glad to know that the colonel did miss Daniel, because for the longest time he’d given the impression that he could have cared less that Daniel was gone. She still didn’t understand how he’d managed to turn his house and yard into something that rivaled the Griswold’s in a matter of mere hours, though.

She sank down onto the couch and stared at O’Neill. Teal’c patiently waited for her to make up her mind what they should do next.

As she sat there, she suddenly became aware of a low rumbling sound coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the back of the couch. She froze. “Teal’c, do you hear that?”

Teal’c also stilled, a look of concentration on his face and she knew he was listening intently. “Indeed. I do.” He stepped around the side of the couch and stood there, staring down at something on the floor. If Carter didn’t know better, she would say that he was speechless.

“Well?” Carter finally prompted.

“It is Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said. “He is snoring.”

“Told you,” O’Neill chortled from behind them. “Space monkey.”

Carter was sure this was some kind of cosmic joke. But Teal’c was looking very serious and very…well, shocked, was the best description she could think of for his expression. She slowly got up on her knees on the couch cushions and peered over the back. Sure enough, there was Daniel Jackson, lying on his back on the floor behind the couch, a soft rumbling snore issuing from his halfway open lips. He didn’t look to be in any better shape than O’Neill. He was just as dirty, just as mussed, and apparently just as drunk. She stared, incredulous, for a moment and then scrambled to her feet, pushing the couch out of the way with Teal’c’s help. She fell to her knees next to Daniel and reached out a hand, almost afraid to touch him. But he was solid and warm, apparently flesh and blood, and he groaned pitifully.

“Help me get him up, Teal’c,” she said urgently.

Teal’c bent and plucked Daniel up, helping Carter to move him to a sitting position on the couch. Daniel protested with a halfhearted squeak and then sat there, finally blinking open bloodshot eyes to glare at them.

‘Where’s it?” he demanded.

“Where’s what?” Carter asked, patting him down, looking for injuries, unable to believe he was real and solid and there with them.

“Truck,” Daniel said. “Hit me.”

“I believe it was the Jose Cuervo,” Teal’c solemnly said.

Daniel looked outraged. “Arrest ‘im.”

“Arrest who, Daniel,” Carter asked, feeling a huge grin growing on her face.

“Jose.” Daniel batted at her hands. “Stop that!”

Carter leaned back, resting on her heels in front of him and took both of his hands into hers. “Are you real? Are you really here?”

“Came to visit,” Daniel said muzzily. “Christmas.” He paused a second. “Owwww.”

“You decided to help the colonel decorate the house,” she guessed, nodding to herself.

Daniel began nodding with her, but he winced at the movement and stopped.

“You decided to stay,” she realized, a jolt of pure joy making her feel almost giddy. Almost as drunk as the colonel and Daniel.

“Yup.”

“The colonel proposed a toast,” Teal’c picked up her thread of logic.

“Yup.”

Carter could imagine what had happened next. “You both got drunk.”

“Don’t forget the singing,” Colonel O’Neill put in. “There was singing.”

Carter didn’t want to contemplate what the colonel’s neighbors must have thought of him and a newly descended Daniel Jackson getting drunk on the front lawn while stringing thousands of Christmas lights, building a Christmas Stargate, and singing Christmas carols.

Daniel grinned at her, blinking, and then up at Teal’c. “Happy?”

“We’re very happy,” Carter agreed, the living proof of Daniel there with them, still not quite sinking in. She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek, wrinkling her nose at the smell of alcohol wafting from him, but not really caring. Her eyes filled with tears, but the smile didn’t leave her face or her heart. “Merry Christmas, Daniel. Welcome home.”

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