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Never Trust a Smiling Alien

 

Jack was on his feet before the rustling outside the door registered in his conscious mind.  He wrapped the strong webbing of his belt around both fists and leaned into the wall, his quick glance noting that Teal’c had moved even faster and stood mirroring his crouch on the other side of the door.

Carter lay still, curled on one side against the opposite wall, her white skin in sharp contrast to the red and purple bruise on her forehead.  He remembered vividly the audible crack as her head made contact with the DHD when the first zat blast crackled out of the brush next to the Stargate.  Teal’c had gone down a second later, and Jack’s last sight had been Daniel’s wide blue eyes across the clearing as he felt the telltale shock rattle his bones and the ground rushed up to meet him.

Ambush at the ‘gate.  He knew this mission had been too easy, the natives too friendly, the food too good, the Goa’uld too much a distant memory on this world.  Never trust a smiling alien.  Dammit!  He was going to have buttons made with that sentiment and sew one into Daniel’s shorts.

The wooden door was flung inward off its leather hinges and hit the ground flat with a slam and a puff of dirt only six inches from Carter’s unmoving form.  Jack froze, frowning – this was not what he’d been expecting.

“Take it easy in there, don’t want to damage the rescue party.”  The rusty drawl preceded the scarred face and armored figure that strode forward, long gun extended to the side to cover Teal’c’s threatening bulk as if the voice's owner knew exactly where the Jaffa was waiting.

Jack straightened.  “What the hell!”

The barrel of the gun never shifting, the familiar head turned his way, glittering eyes meeting Jack’s blazing stare.  “Well, it’s great to see you, too, Colonel.”

“Aris Boch.”  Teal’c’s even delivery didn’t quite disguise his amazement at the identity of SG-1’s erstwhile rescuer.

“Miss me?”  The alien bounty hunter smiled widely, gun steady.

Jack relaxed his hands around his improvised garrote.   “Well now, that depends.”  He stepped to his left to stand between Boch and his unconscious 2IC.  “I take it from your oh so dramatic entrance that you aren’t the one who hired these fine people to grab us in the first place.”

“Ooo, you are a clever one to figure that out,” Boch chuckled.  “Nuh-uh!” he warned, gun unerringly following Teal’c’s hesitant step forward and coming to rest against the Jaffa’s broad chest.  His gaze never left O’Neill’s.  “No, I just got wind of the transaction a week ago.  Didn’t figure you guys would fall into these folks’ trap like little bitty kids, though.”

“'Got wind of it,' huh?” Jack murmured dryly, sending his thoughts back to SG-3's initial survey of the apparently friendly aliens on this little backwater planet.

Nulchaff,” Boch shrugged.

Jack’s gaze darted to his teammate’s.

“Gossip,” the Jaffa translated.

“So, what, you decided to show up and, out of the goodness of your heart, bust us the heck out of jail and set us on our merry way?”

Boch’s smile widened and he pressed one hand to his chest.  “What can I say?  I’ve seen the error of my ways and now fight only on the side of good and right.”  He held his pose for a moment.  “Not buying it, eh?”

“Nope,” Jack spat.

“Fine.”  Boch stepped back into the hallway, moving his weapon to cover both men.  “You want to hang around until whatever Goa’uld these guys are dealing with shows up to claim you three?  Fine by me.  Don’t bother to thank me…”

 

Jack’s thoughts flashed, picking up and discarding escape scenarios.  No weapons, no equipment, no radios, no medical gear, no GDOs.  “Hold it.  You can get us to the ‘gate?”

Boch brandished a familiar looking wristband decorated with a glowing blue jewel.  “My cloaked al’kesh is parked upstairs.  Just one short ring-ride away and off we go to the Stargate.  What do you say?”  He gestured with his jutting chin.  “Your cute little blonde major doesn’t look so hot.”

Grinding his teeth, Jack refused to glance behind him.  He knew Carter needed medical attention, and soon, but something told him that trusting Boch might land them in much deeper water.

“What of Daniel Jackson?”  Leave it to the big guy – the question had been on tip of Jack’s tongue.

Boch seemed to hesitate for a moment before holstering his gun, ripping the wristband from his arm, and flinging it at the Jaffa’s feet.  “Tell you what.  You take the major there to the ‘gate, get her some help and any backup you want.  The colonel and I will go after the Doc.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed.  Too good.  Too easy.  What had he been just saying about 'smiling aliens?' 

“I will require a GDO.”

The bounty hunter rolled his eyes.  “Geez, you guys sure are hard to please.”  He pointed down the hall to the right.  “The natives stashed your crap in the next cell.  Guess they wanted it all handy when the snake comes to pick up his booty.”

“'Booty?'  Just where did you learn to speak English, Boch, from old Errol Flynn movies?”  Jack nodded and Teal’c swept down the hall past the smirking alien, appearing moments later wearing his vest and holding two backpacks, O’Neill’s vest, and his P90.  Checking the weapon, Jack turned to see that Carter still wasn’t stirring.

“Okay.  Teal’c, get to the ‘gate, get Hammond to send the Marines to keep these jokers busy while 'our hero' and I get to Daniel.”  He clicked his radio twice, checking to make sure the sound registered clearly on Teal’c’s.  “Stay in contact - I want to hear when you get back with reinforcements in case we need some kind of diversion to get Daniel out.”

“Understood, O’Neill.”  Teal’c turned and carefully slipped one arm around Carter’s shoulders, keeping her head braced against his chest before he pressed one thumb to the wristband’s activation crystal.

Jack stumbled backwards, throwing up one arm to shield his eyes as the rings descended from Boch’s ship and burst through the roof sending splinters of wood and cracked plaster into the air.  A moment later his teammates were gone and the air was thick with dust and yelling voices getting louder and louder.

“Come on!”  Boch grabbed him by one arm and urged him down the hallway to the left.  “Even natives as clueless as this bunch couldn’t have missed that.”

“Teal’c,” Jack barked into the radio at his shoulder.

“We have arrived aboard the al’kesh, O’Neill.”  Teal’c’s deep voice sounded strangely thin coming from the tiny speaker.  “I shall communicate again when we return to this world with assistance.”

“Acknowledged.  O’Neill out.”

A few twists and turns and furtive ducks into darkened rooms later and Jack was getting that itchy feeling between his shoulder blades.  They’d scoured the first floor, dodging a few natives armed with zats, but far too few to make up any kind of definitive resistance.  The two were now working their way through the lower level of the wooden fortress, searching room by room and finding nada.  Too many questions were niggling at Jack’s brain.

A bunch of bowing, smiling natives will suddenly only negotiate for their precious minerals with the premiere team of the SGC, a week later Daniel wraps everything up in a big red, white, and blue bow, and then SG-1 get captured by said natives, gets stashed in a cell, and suddenly the great Aris Boch is there to pull their nuts out of the fire?  Why take Daniel away from the team and stash him down here?  What were they hiding him from?  Something was definitely wrong with this picture.  At the next empty room they encountered, Boch let loose a stream of curses - at least Jack assumed they were curses.  He had half a mind to join in with some of his own.

“Well that's disappointing.  I'm one of the galaxy's greatest hunters and I can’t seem to find one archaeologist in this crummy little fortress,” Boch muttered, one side of his mouth twitching up in disgust.

“So, tell me again how you happened to be in the neighborhood?” Jack hissed between clenched teeth.

Boch slipped down the hallway ahead of him, his steps strangely silent in his heavy boots.  “Oh, I get around, O’Neill.  Gotta keep your lines of communication open in my line of work.”  He halted momentarily at a corner before stepping out, weapon ready.  Motioning for the colonel to follow, he continued.  “You never know when you’re going to luck into an opportunity.”

“Uh huh.”  Jack divided his attention between the hallway at his back and the untrustworthy ally in front of him.  “Opportunity for what?”

He halted abruptly as Boch plastered himself against the wall next to a door that looked like every other door in this rabbit warren of hallways.  The alien held one finger before his lips, eyes glittering with victory, and pointed to the door.  Jack nodded and slid silently forward, reaching for the handle in a dance they’d done before.  He yanked the door open and Boch burst into the room, gun flaring.  Following, Jack could only watch as the bounty hunter targeted the two natives standing watchfully over the bound and gagged body of his teammate.  The two men fell in shuddering heaps, energy playing over their bodies in tangled waves

“Daniel.”  Jack leaped forward, but Boch’s arm hit him mid-chest like an iron rod and he stumbled, watching as one guard tumbled towards his teammate, the energy splashing over the struggling, bound man.  Blue eyes rolled back and Daniel slid to the ground.

As soon as the flickering died away, Boch released his hold and Jack pushed the guard’s body out of the way to get to his friend.  The pulse in his neck was strong and Jack sat back on his heels, breathing a sigh of relief.  “Okay, as soon as Teal’c gets back with the cavalry,” his fingers quickly stripped Daniel of his bonds, taking fleeting notice that the natives had stripped his teammate of his uniform and dressed him… differently, “we can make for the ‘gate.”

Boch hauled both guards towards the exit before stepping close beside Jack and reaching one hand into his boot.  “Oh, I don’t think we’ll want to wait for that, colonel.”

Jack glanced up into the barrel of Boch’s gun and shifted his eyes to the alien’s smirking face.  “Say goodnight, colonel.”

~o~

Jack O’Neill squinted his eyes against the glare of the Minnesota summer sun and flung one hand up towards his face.  Stupid fish, flopping around in the bottom of the boat.  He must have fallen asleep – damn thing kept hitting him in the face.

“O’Neill.”

Hmpf.  Deep voice for a fish.  Always expected them to sound like Don Knotts for some reason.

“O’Neill.”

More smacking – the damn thing could really flop.

“O’Neill, you must wake.”

Jack folded one arm across his face and groaned.  The vibration under his back, the stale sweat in the air – looked like he wasn’t in Minnesota anymore.

“T’l?”  He cleared his throat.  “Teal’c?”  Better.

A large hand gripped his jacket and hauled him to a sitting position.  “It is I, O’Neill.”

Memory slammed into him and Jack’s eyes snapped open.  Cargo compartment.  Flashy gold décor.  Weaponless, exit-less – he looked around – Carter and Daniel-less.  “What the hell is going on?”  He pressed one hand against his teammate’s broad shoulder and stumbled to his feet.
“And what are you doing here?  Didn’t I send you back to the SGC for a full complement of Marines?”

Teal’c rose in one graceful movement.  “You did.  However, once I had settled Major Carter, the inner doors on this ship closed and locked, trapping us within this cargo area.  Sometime later, Aris Boch arrived with your unconscious body and demanded that Major Carter accompany him.”

“She was awake?”

“Indeed,” Teal’c stood calmly, hands clasped behind his back.  “She stated that she was 'fine' several times.”

Jack rubbed both hand through his hair.  “Well, that’s something.  T- I say again - what the hell is going on?”

The cargo room door ground upwards and Jack turned, unsurprised this time to find that Aris Boch stood just outside the doorway with his weapon trained on both of them.

“Anywhere I can drop you fellas?”

“Boch you loveless bastard, so help me God…”  Jack growled, every muscle tense with the effort it took to resist throwing himself at the alien and wrapping both hands around his throat.

“Hey, easy there,” the armored figure stepped into the room and gestured curtly, urging the teammates to take a few steps backward.  He paused a moment, the door sliding down behind him, before sauntering towards some stacked crates to his left where he perched one hip on the edge, resting his hands on his thigh in a deliberate casualness that kept his energy gun pointed unerringly in their direction.  “Now as much as you gripe and whine, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself, O’Neill.”

“And just how do you figure that,” Jack demanded, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest.

“Oh, you mean besides falling for the natives’ quaint little trap and then believing, even for a second, that I’d just happened along in time to rescue you?  Come on!”  Boch seemed almost disappointed.  “Even you aren’t that dense!”  He waved one finger in the air to stifle Jack’s immediate response.  “But I digress,” he stated patiently as if he was explaining something to a particularly dimwitted child.  “No, I’m talking about what I warned you about the last time we crossed paths.”

Out of the corner of his eye Jack saw his Jaffa teammate’s eyebrow climb, but he concentrated on the scarred face in front of him, snapped his mouth shut, and lifted his chin.

“You remember,” Boch encouraged, “on our walk back to the ‘gate where I repaired the DHD so you could scamper off home?”

 Teal’c’s dark stare seemed to bore a hole into the side of Jack’s face.  “What, you mean that bit about prices on all our heads?  Yeah, I remember.”

“Well, what you don’t seem to remember is that I warned you that you and your people should think again about letting your pretty blonde-haired major and your pretty blue-eyed archaeologist out on these little excursions of yours.  That somebody with less moral fiber than yours truly might be willing to take a big risk to procure some merchandise like that for the highest bidder.  Sound familiar?”

“Did you not state that the Goa’uld valued my capture above those of the other members of SG-1?” Teal’c asked.

“Yeah, well, believe it or not, Teal’c, the Goa’uld aren’t the only players out here in the galaxy,” Boch answered, “and, before you nobly offer, no, I wouldn’t take you in exchange this time.  This time,” he stood and paced back towards the doorway, “the price offered for Major Carter is twice your going rate.  And as for Doctor Jackson, well, let’s just say that he’s got some real fans out there.”

The bounty hunter’s tight smile leant no cheer to his face, instead broadcasting disgust and discomfort before the good-natured mask dropped back into place.  A drop of ice slid down to lodge in Jack’s gut and the pain in his skull took on a jagged edge.  “That’s why the natives separated Daniel from the rest of us?”

Boch lifted his free hand to rest against his wristband.  “Yeah, apparently they got wind that I was on my way to interrupt their sweet deal with their buyers and tried to keep the good stuff hidden, probably hoping that I’d settle for the rest of you.”  He shook his head and made a ‘tsking’ sound through his teeth.  “Not very good businessmen.”

“Like you,” Jack sneered.

“Hey, I’m a great businessman,” Boch insisted, “ask anybody.  In fact, in the interests of good will and word of mouth and all that, I’m willing to let you and the shol’va here go.”  He shrugged broad shoulders.  “What I’m getting for the other two will net me a tidy profit so I can’t exactly begrudge you guys a ride to the nearest Stargate once my business is done.”

“I don’t know how to thank you.”  Bad to worse.  It looked like that tiny pinpoint of a conscience buried deep within the selfish alien was making for daylight.  That probably meant that whatever the buyers had in store for Daniel and Carter was bad – really, really bad.  “But, here’s an idea,” Jack edged forward.  “Why don’t you give us a chance to outbid your bidder?  Make you an offer you can’t refuse.”  Jack felt the smile on his face widen into a threatening grimace.

“Believe me, colonel, I’d like to.  But unfortunately, unless Major Carter has made some kind of breakthrough I haven’t heard about, you just don’t have what I need.”  A tinny voice erupted from a speaker overhead and Boch touched a control stud that lifted the door behind him.  “And it looks like the bidding just closed.”

Teal’c moved with him, surging forward with a speed that seemed impossible to reconcile with his size, but Boch was quicker, and the door was sliding closed on a smirk and a gun barrel before they’d made it halfway to the doorway.

“Boch!  You slimy, dick-headed, weasel!  Get your ass back here!”  Jack battered the door with one fist until the boiling rage settled back into a simmer.  He turned to his silent teammate.  “That voice over the radio – what was that?”

That muscle in Teal’c’s jaw was getting some exercise.  “A human-like voice speaking Goa’uld.  I believe the representative for Daniel Jackson’s buyer has arrived.”

Jack beat back the resurging anger.  “Arrived, huh?  You think we’re still on P9S-155?  That Boch is intercepting the sale right here under the natives’ noses?”

“Indeed.”

“Okay,” he slapped both hands together loudly.  “Then we’ve just gotta get out of here, rescue Daniel and Carter before they get sold, ring down to the planet, avoid the smiling natives, and get back to the Stargate.”  He looked around at the barren room’s formidable walls.  “Piece of cake.”  He prodded the nearest gold-embossed wall with one finger.  “Guess you haven’t found a crate of weapons hidden around here anywhere or a handy ventilation shaft we can shimmy through to escape?”

The Jaffa didn’t seem to think that question needed more than a steady stare and a faintly raised eyebrow in response.  “O’Neill, I do not recall this warning that Aris Boch speaks of,” he said, pacing slowly around the circumference of the room.  “You spoke with him at length during our travel back to the Stargate with Korra of the Tok’ra.”

“Yeah, so?”

Teal’c’s seemingly aimless path brought him back to face Jack near the sealed doorway.  “Did he in fact warn you of this danger to Major Carter and Daniel Jackson?”

“Oh, for crying… what, I’m supposed to be shaking in my boots every time some alien decides my teammates are hot?  We’d never go anywhere!”  Jack gestured widely, trying to distract himself from whatever was happening between his archaeologist and Boch’s buyer at that very moment.  “And I can just imagine the briefing when I explain how those two have to stay home because the aliens aren’t just after their asses, they’re after their asses.”

His teammate stopped, tilting his head to one side.  “I cannot.”

Jack swiped one hand over his face.  “Yeah, me either.”

~o~

Daniel pressed cold fingers against his tired eyes until the bright flashes of light gave way to darkness.  He leaned his aching head against the wall and drew both bare feet up onto the thin bunk, wrapping his arms around his knees and trying to blink away the blur of exhaustion.  Two long days of negotiations, a good zatting at the ‘gate, being trussed up like a parcel, gagged – he stuck the tip of his tongue against the edge of the cut on the left side of his mouth where the leather thong had bitten into the tender skin – dragged away from his team, hit by another energy discharge from the bounty hunter’s weapon, stripped of clothes, glasses, his friends, and left here in this alien bunkroom with nothing but thin white cotton between him and the cold air; he’d had enough.  He closed his eyes and smiled, sure the universe was listening and would soon return his butt to Earth with a big apology and a fruit basket for his troubles.

That had been Jack with Aris Boch charging in to save the day back on P9S-155, right?  He rubbed his hand over the deep furrows on his brow.  Aris Boch.  Had the natives been in league with him all the time?  Then what was with the thrilling rescue and the general mayhem directed towards his two guards?  He shook his head.

A subtle difference in the air around him prompted Daniel to raise his head and open his eyes.  He slowly lowered his feet to the floor and stood, wrapping his arms around his thinly clothed waist in what he knew was a gesture of vulnerability, but, somehow, faced with the tightly smirking face of the alien bounty hunter and his… guest… Daniel couldn’t help it.

It was the eyes that gave them away – it usually did.  In all the humanoid races Daniel had met in his travels through the Stargate, he’d learned more from watching others’ eyes than he did even with weeks of negotiation and years of historical records to study.  Smiles, frowns – neither could be trusted, but the story told through the flash of honest emotion in the eyes revealed truth.  He knew some of his own success in disarming potentially hostile situations had more to do with the sincerity that could be read in his own eyes than in all his careful words and eloquent arguments.  He’d always been damn good at poker, too.

Boch’s eyes were narrowed, blank, their inherent humor and condescension absent as he made sure to avoid meeting Daniel’s own gaze.  Interesting.  He remembered how the bounty hunter had enjoyed playing with SG-1, trading barbs with Jack, needling Sam about the importance of her promotion, teasing him about his comparative worth on the galactic black market.  The current situation had drained the mischievousness from the man and that didn’t bode well for a certain underdressed archaeologist.

The vertical, almost feline pupils set within the golden irises of Boch’s guest sparked a memory – as well as a sense of dread.  Broad shoulders rivaled Boch’s, but the stranger stood a head shorter than the more familiar alien in the room, long black hair falling straight down his back to the bright green sash that was tied around his thick waist in an elaborate knot.  Daniel let out a slow, steady breath as he tried to calm his racing heart.  Oh, this was so not good.

“Ne’althraite,” he murmured.

A faint green pattern of mottling rose to the surface of the pale skin surrounding the alien’s large eyes.  Daniel tried to suppress a shudder – he remembered what that physiological response meant, and how Jack and his team, once he’d clued them in about the 'very friendly' suggestions of this particular native, had surrounded him and hustled him back through the ‘gate before the rest of the aliens organized and did something about their ruler’s, er, appetite.

“You remember me, Dahne’al.”

Kinda hard to forget the first time an alien tried to get into your pants, Daniel said to himself, deciding not to answer out loud.

“Well, isn’t this nice,” Boch blurted out loudly, earning a reproving hiss from the shorter alien as he brushed past to stand a few paces to Daniel’s right.  “A reunion.  Old friends, back together again.”

The words sounded forced even to Daniel’s distracted ear and he took an unconscious half-step towards the bounty hunter as the decided lesser of two evils within the cramped room.  With a bed in it.  He missed his baggy BDUs.  And his glasses.  His gun would have been quite a welcome sight.  Apophis with a ribbon device with his name on it, even.

“So, Ne’al.  You can see the merchandise is here, all healthy and such.  Seems like a good time to see my fee.”

A bright blue forked tongue flicked between the alien’s parted lips.  “I will inspect.”  The clipped statement left no room for discussion, nor did the unblinking stare that swept Daniel from head to foot.

“Things must have changed quite a bit on your world, Ne’althraite, since the last time SG-1 visited there,” Daniel stammered into the weighty silence.  “Three years ago the Nefari had just broken free of the Goa’uld and were trying to rebuild traditions and culture that had been suppressed for centuries.”  He motioned towards the heavy, rustic-looking long-barreled pistol that hung from the alien’s belt.  “And now you’re out here in the galaxy, trading, holding your own, with enough resources to hire the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter to track me down.”  He watched Aris Boch’s eyes narrow in suspicion.  Good.  Sow a little doubt, Daniel, let’s put off this 'inspection' for as long as possible.

The alien flexed abnormally long fingers, claws extending and retracting with every movement.  “Change comes, but memories… and hungers… are long and deep.”

Daniel shook his head.  And obsession was a huge part of this particular alien culture, he remembered.  SG-1 had been so green, so raw, so ill-prepared for some of the people they were about to encounter back then in the early days, so sure that the Goa’uld were the only threat.  They’d patted themselves on the back after every return trip through the Stargate, every narrow escape, every barely acknowledged victory, believing they’d put all repercussions behind them every time the blue event horizon dissipated into the air and they stood together at the base of the ramp.  A few motherships in orbit had soon taught them that consequences would always come back to bite them in the end.

“I also remember that your world had been gutted by the Goa’uld – stripped of all its natural resources – and since your technological advances couldn’t possibly stand up to what is out there, I wonder what you’ve found to trade.”

Ne’althraite stepped closer and Daniel saw that Boch’s hand how rested carelessly on the handle of his weapon.  The tongue flicked out again, as if tasting Daniel’s scent in the air around him.  The green pattern appeared once more, this time brighter, the slitted pupils expanding to nearly fill the bright irises.

“We do what is necessary,” he whispered, the alien breath ghosting over Daniel’s chilled skin.

“And what is necessary right now,” Boch shifted his stance to insert a shoulder between Daniel and his buyer, “is for me to see the balance of your payment, my friend.”

The alien came closer, stepping to his right to avoid Boch’s bulky mass, still staring straight into Daniel’s eyes.  “Inspect first.”  He spared a momentary flash of attention for the bounty hunter.  “Alone.”

“Yeah, now why do I think that’s a bad idea?” Boch considered, the first hint of amusement Daniel had heard coloring his tone.  The archaeologist took that as a small victory.  Very small.

Ne’althraite bared his teeth and hissed, and Daniel gasped as one narrow-fingered hand darted out to wrap around his upper arm and drag him to slam against the broad chest.  “Ssna’gree!  Leave us!” the Nefari demanded, his nostrils flaring wide, and Daniel felt the sting as the forked tongue flicked out to taste the oozing cut in the corner of his mouth.  His hands scrabbled frantically at anything he could reach, slipping from the silky material at the alien’s waist; Daniel arched his neck backward to try to expand the few inches of air between them.

Boch’s quick shove sent the Nefari stumbling back into the ship’s hallway and Daniel couldn’t stifle a grunt of pain, one hand coming up to clutch the bloody scratches left by the thwarted customer’s claws.  Without turning, Boch followed the hissing and snarling creature, weapon in hand.  Daniel hurried forward in his wake, but the bounty hunter wasn’t so focused as to forget to secure the door behind him.

Daniel turned back to the narrow cot and dropped awkwardly, eyebrows climbing as the sounds of ferocious scrabbling and deep growls seeped through the metal walls.  “Well, that went well.”

~o~

Daniel had no idea how long he’d waited, watching the blood drip down his arm beneath his fingers to pool in the curve of his elbow.  He never doubted that Boch would win the confrontation between the bounty hunter and his slightly dissatisfied customer.  He just hoped it was a 'final' sort of victory, not some kind of negotiated peace that still delivered Daniel into the alien’s clutching hands.  Channeling Jack O’Neill never felt so good.

When he finally realized that the silence had reigned for a time, he lifted his eyes to watch the door slide open silently and a grinning Aris Boch saunter in, clearly much more pleased with himself than anyone who held a member of SG-1 captive had any right to be.  He couldn’t help flinching as the bounty hunter tossed a small parcel to land on the bed at his side where the silvery container bounced to a halt next to his left knee.  Daniel looked up.

“First aid kit,” Boch jerked his chin towards his offering.  “You know, the first time you deal with an alien species is always the trickiest,” he mused aloud, propping his shoulders up against the open door frame.  “Can you trust them or are they gonna try to screw you – or eat you – in the end?”

“With the Nefari, both, I’d imagine,” Daniel muttered as he fumbled the package open one-handed to pull out a silvery gauze pad.  “Sorry you didn’t get to seal the deal,” he added with no sincerity whatsoever.  He extended his arm and pressed the familiar looking pad over the two deep scratches, twisting to keep the bounty hunter in plain sight.

Boch chuckled.  “Yeah, I’ll bet.”  He shrugged.  “But don’t you worry, turns out old Ne’al had a few nice items stashed away in the cargo hold of his little ship, and, better yet, I’ve still got you.”

Daniel stilled.  “What do you mean?”

“Hell, Doctor Jackson,” the alien smiled, suddenly amused again at Daniel’s innocent question.  “He was just the guy at the top of the list.  You’ve got quite a horde of admirers out there in the galaxy, practically drooling over the chance to get their hands, not to mention other body parts, on you.”

The shiver skating over Daniel’s skin turned into a flush of anger.   “So, what, you’ve turned from a semi-legitimate businessman into an intergalactic pimp, is that right?” he smirked, very, very tired of this game.  “Proud of yourself are you?”

“Hey, I’m simply offering a service…” Boch straightened, arms at his sides.

Daniel didn’t let him get started.  “No, not a pimp.  That term implies some kind of willingness on the part of the merchandise.”  Keeping his right arm clamped over his wounds, Daniel shifted his weight and reached behind him with his left hand to push to his feet.  “You’re – you’re a slave trader now,” he spat, words tumbling from his lips, “grabbing up innocent people and shipping them off to cater to the appetites of your so-called customers.”

The alien’s eyes were narrowed threateningly now, and he stepped forward to loom over Daniel’s weakened form.  “Okay, don’t get all hot and bothered, Doc.  Seeing as how I’ve got some payment for you out of this, maybe I can let O’Neill and his pet Jaffa take you back with them-”

“Wait – Jack and Teal’c are here?”  Daniel’s mind churned furiously and he bit absently at his sore lip.

“Just down the hall,” Boch replied with an exasperated sigh.  “And seeing as how the price I’m getting for sweet little Major Carter is so good, I guess I can afford to be generous.”

“Sam.”  Daniel nodded.  The gang’s all here, apparently.  He shouldn’t be surprised that Aris Boch had managed to capture all of SG-1 – again.  The offer of freedom must have been some backhanded form of apology for what had nearly happened with Ne’althraite – a band aid to the bounty hunter’s guilty conscience that Daniel had caught a glimpse of when Boch released both Korra and Teal’c earlier this year.  But the practical-minded alien wasn’t about to let all of them go without the big payoff he’d been expecting.

“Yep,” Boch’s mouth twisted up into a half-smile.  “So, if you’ll step this way…” he turned to gesture Daniel from the room.

Daniel’s left hand clenched around the cold metal of the barrel of the Nefari pistol he’d managed to wrench from Ne’althraite’s belt when he had him in his grip.  He swung from the shoulder, just as Teal’c had taught him.  The heavy weapon made a muffled thunk as it impacted the side of Boch’s head and the bounty hunter dropped to the floor in a pile of muscle and armor.  Daniel knelt swiftly, discarding the bloody bandage and the cracked, now useless pistol, and slid the energy weapon from the alien’s holster and the wristband from his arm.

Standing, Daniel waited until the blurred gaze lifted to meet his.  “You need a new line of work, Boch,” he stated evenly as he pulled the trigger.

~o~

The screeching racket outside the cargo hold door had quieted a while ago, but Jack was still on edge, pacing fitfully, mind grappling with sickening possibility after possibility.  He wished he didn’t have an imagination – that he couldn’t picture a dozen different ways that some pumped up heavy was manhandling his friend right now.  He ground his teeth together.  Hey, at least he could also picture way more than a dozen ways he’d gut Boch and every other bastard that stood between him and the rest of his team once he got this damned door open.  The up-side of being a ruthless military badass, he mused.  Jack’s gaze strayed to his stolid teammate.  With all of Teal’c’s history, he’d bet he could expand on that number quite a bit.

They were set as soon as the door started to grind upwards, Teal’c lunging forward from his kneeling position to grab the booted ankles as soon as they were visible.  A high-pitched 'oof' met Jack’s ears, followed closely by the clatter of a weapon falling to the floor.  He surged forward, grabbing the zat as he spun on one knee towards the figure that had fallen against the corridor wall.

“Uh, Jack?  I don’t think you really want to shoot Sam, do you?”

Jack’s bruised 2IC blinked blearily in Teal’c’s grasp before sliding slowly to sit against the wall.  Jack, surprised again, turned to find Daniel just behind him, one arm bloody, with Boch’s energy weapon in one hand and the bounty hunter’s control wristband in the other.

“Daniel?”  He shifted to his feet.  “Carter?”

“Umm, hi, sir,” Carter grinned sloppily, eyes at half-mast.

“Okay, I think we’d better get to the ring room before Sam’s pre-programmed course kicks in,” Daniel stated.

“Daniel?”  Jack’s mind seemed to be stuck in neutral.  “What the hell are you wearing?”  Oh, good, O’Neill, way to focus on the important stuff.

The exhausted blue eyes of his teammate dropped so Daniel could take stock of his bare feet, thin white pants and skimpy matching shirt.  “Oh, you know, it’s what every sex-slave is wearing this year.  Now, could we please get going, Jack?  Sam piloted the ship to hover just above the area in front of the Stargate, and I, for one, am looking forward to 18 hours uninterrupted sleep under Janet’s watchful eye.”

“Major Carter, can you walk?”  Teal’c all but lifted the slim woman to her feet.  Removing his hands for an instant, the Air Force major’s grin never slipped but her body listed sharply to the west.  He circled her waist carefully with one strong arm.

“That answers that question.  Okay,” Jack could roll with the punches as well as the next guy, he decided decisively, “Daniel, lead the way.”

A few minutes later, the four were standing in a grassy clearing at the base of the ‘gate, watching Aris Boch’s ship take off for the stratosphere.  Jack slipped up next to Daniel as his teammate dialed the ‘gate and then reached around Teal’c’s unmoving form to punch in numbers on the GDO strapped to Carter’s wrist.

“So, Daniel.  Want to tell me what’s going on?”  He gestured towards the cloudless blue sky.  “Where’s Boch off to?”

The two watched Teal’c help Carter up the stone ramp to the event horizon.  “Well Sam set his navigational controls to take him to the Nefari homeworld.  You remember them, right?”

Oh, Jack had seen that eyelash fluttering innocent look before, usually right after Daniel drew to an inside straight.  “Those greenish guys with the tongues – one of them had the hots for you…”

“That would be them,” Daniel replied with a nod.

Jack followed his teammate towards the wormhole and home.  “And, why would that be?”

Daniel stopped and took one last look at the warm, inviting landscape around him.  “Let’s just say that I think they’ll like his smile.”

End 

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.