A Question of Morale


"So, George, how are things going at the mountain?" Brigadier General Matthew Kerrigan of the US Air Force Academy asked Major General George Hammond, USAF, of Stargate Command, as he entered the room at the Pentagon that was almost overflowing with high-ranking military brass. Lieutenant Colonel William Krenz, USAF, had called all of the commanding officers of the Four Corners Region military bases to Washington D.C. for a meeting, the subject of which was still unknown to the occupants of the room.

Hammond was just happy to be able to get away from Cheyenne Mountain for a while, even if it was for a meeting of the brass that had been promised not to be about an emergency, and thus destined to be boring as hell. "Not bad, Matt, not bad at all. At least as smoothly as can be expected."

The younger man grinned. "Left Jack in charge, did you? Are you sure you're going to have a base to come home to when this is over?"

"Let's not borrow trouble," George replied, returning the expression. "My second in command is more than capable of taking care of things, but considering his and his team's luck, a comment like that is like thumbing your nose at Fate."

"Just who is your second in command, George?" Brigadier General Robert Bishop of Utah's Hill Air Force Base, a thin, older gentleman, asked, stepping over to the two friends.

Hammond's smile turned to one of pride. "Colonel Jack O'Neill."

"Colonel Jonathan O'Neill?" Brigadier General Hilbert Zimmerman of Arizona's DavisMonthan Air Force Base asked incredulously. "Didn't he retire?"

"Twice," yet another man added.

"How did you get him to come back?" a sixth member of the growing conversation, Air Force Brigadier General Roy Schiedecker of Colorado's Buckley ANGB, inquired as he joined in.

General number seven rolled his eyes. "Better yet, why would you want him to?"

Hammond shared a knowing look with Kerrigan. "Colonel O'Neill has proven himself to be a fine officer and a good man. He understands the value of what we're doing, and has been almost everything I could ask for in a 2IC."

Number seven raised a grey eyebrow. "We're talking about the same Jack O'Neill, right? Cocky, irreverent, attitude to spare..."

"He knows when to put all that aside," the bald Texan defended his second. "I've always been able to count on him in a crisis; he's never let me down. He's a much-decorated officer, and I'm proud to say I was able to present him with his most recent medal when the president was unable to do so. I have every confidence in him, and I would appreciate it if you would honor my belief in him. If you were to examine his record, I think you'd find it spoke louder than any words I could ever say."

There was a brief moment of silence as the room absorbed what had just been said. "I think the fact that you're willing to defend him so fiercely says everything that needs to be said about the man," general number five said as diplomatically as possible. "I've heard my share about Jack O'Neill, and I'm glad to hear that he's managed to do so well. So what exactly are you and O'Neill doing at Cheyenne Mountain, anyway? I've been a little out of the loop since I took over at Holloman."

Hammond was more than happy to change the subject. "I'm sure New Mexico is as entertaining as Colorado, Lloyd, especially considering our focus on deep space telemetry."

Brigadier General Lloyd Nelson shot the other man a suspicious look at the response. "Deep space telemetry? Are you kidding?"

"Why would he do that?" Kerrigan jumped in, hoping to save his friend from an explanation he knew the man hated to give. "Just because his facility's classified..." He let his sentence trail off suggestively, delivering his hint to back off as delicately as he could.

"You can't tell me they couldn't come up with a better cover story than that," Brigadier General Ernest Duffy, general number seven, scoffed, not taking the hint. He ran a hand through his short-cropped grey hair.

The other men sighed at the man's persistence. They knew that Duffy had only recently been posted to New Mexico's Kirtland Air Force Base, and was biding the last six months before retirement. "Leave the man alone, Duffy," Major General Samuel Jones of Colorado's Peterson Air Force Base said in an exasperated tone as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Kerrigan just said the base's work is classified. Let's talk about something else."

"Actually, George, I wanted to ask you a question about borrowing a couple of your personnel," Matthew said apologetically. "Do you think it might be possible for Major Carter and Doctor Jackson to give another couple of lectures at the academy some time next month? Midterms will just be getting over, and I think it would be a great way to get the cadets back on track."

"I'll have to double check their schedule and find out if they have anything else planned, but I don't think there'll be a problem. They both like taking time off and focusing on the more academic side of their training."

The commanding officer of the Air Force Academy grinned. "How about Murry for some hand-to-hand work? I've got a few cadets who need a... reminder of the necessity of tip-top selfdefense skills. They seem to be thinking that pretty good is good enough."

Hammond laughed at that. "I'll talk to him. In fact, why don't I see if Colonel O'Neill can tag along as well? He'd be good for a few lectures on strategy and tactics, and then the whole team can give some instructional seminars on teamwork and the team dynamic. Now that Doctor Jackson's returned, the four of them have gotten back on track."

"How is Doctor Jackson? I haven't had a chance to talk to him."

"It's almost like he never left."

The door to the room opened at that point and admitted Major Paul Davis, USAF. "Generals," he greeted them, snapping them all a sharp salute.

Hammond, Army Major General James Canasta of Utah's Dugway Proving Ground, and Marine Major General Jonathon Forester of Arizona's MCAS Yuma all returned the salute and the junior officer fully entered the room. "I didn't realize you'd be here, Major," George said to the man who served as the Pentagon's liaison to his command.

Davis smiled. "I didn't either, sir, until about an hour ago. General Krenz should be here shortly. This morning's meeting is taking longer than expected."

Ten minutes later Lieutenant General William Krenz was announced by his aide, and he and his secretary took their places at the head of the table, the other nineteen men following suit soon after. "Gentlemen, I'm sure you're all wondering why I called you here today." The balding man smiled at the cliched opening before continuing. "It seems that the president and the Joint Chiefs believe we're having a little problem with morale across the board at our military installations. While I can't say that I agree, it has been decided that something needs to be done to correct the problem. Which is why I've brought you all together. The committee the Joint Chiefs put to work on this came up with a few activities that the Four Corners Region will be participating in. I'm sure I can count on your full cooperation."

"What kind of activities are we talking about, sir?" Brigadier General Dale Akins from Colorado's Schriever Air Force Base asked as his superior retrieved his notes from the briefcase he had brought in with him.

"Are the other regions participating as well?" Army Brigadier General James Schlegel of Arizona's Fort Huachuca added, his bushy black eyebrows furrowing with confusion.

Krenz smiled. "The other regions will be conducting similar activities, yes, and most likely within the same time frame as ours. As for the activities, I have a list of five that we are to begin implementing one at a time as they prove successful." The ranking officer in the room rolled his eyes. "As I said before I don't believe these things are necessary, but we'll do what we have to to keep everybody happy." The general cleared his throat before continuing. "The first activity I have here is a contest to be held between each of the bases in our region. I know most if not all of you have heard of this kind of thing before. It's a bachelor/bachelorette competition."

You could almost hear the sound of nineteen jaws hitting the floor. "Excuse me, sir," Major General Jerrold Smith of New Mexico's Cannon Air Force Base began hesitantly. "Did you just say a bachelor/bachelorette competition?"

"We're supposed to have a beauty pageant?" General Duffy asked incredulously.

"The committee can't be serious, can they, sir?" Kerrigan inquired carefully. "It is a bit... frivolous, don't you think?"

"I'm afraid they are," Krenz replied apologetically. "Believe me, when I saw this list I double checked with the committee myself. They seem to think that showing off the best and brightest, not to mention the most beautiful, of our personnel is a great way to keep everybody's spirits up during this time of public loss of faith in their government and personal safety. I guess we get to find out if they're right."

There was a general rumbling of discontent around the table, the men all sharing wary looks with one another. Finally, Major Davis made a gesture that drew Krenz's attention. "Excuse me, General, but what does this have to do with me exactly? I'm not stationed at any of these bases."

The man at the head of the table nodded. "I understand that, Major. You will be serving as the Pentagon's liaison for this project, as you have experience in such matters. You'll be keeping both sides up to date with the progress of these activities. I don't believe it will interfere with your current duties in regards to Cheyenne Mountain."

"I understand, sir."

"If everyone could quiet down, I'll explain this competition so we can move on to the other activities on my list." The murmuring stopped. "We'll have five men and five women from each base gather together and participate in a three-part competition to be judged by a total of six impartial judges, with any ties to be decided by myself as the Master of Ceremonies. The first part will be a casual wear competition, the second a formal wear competition, and the last a talent competition."

Army Brigadier General Nathaniel Willis of New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range gave a resignated sigh. "Since we're stuck doing this, I have to ask. How are we going to be sure our judges are impartial?"

"I'll be bringing in people from my staff. They're actually looking forward to it, if you can believe that."

"I can believe it," Kerrigan whispered to Hammond. "They don't have to participate."

George fought back a smile before bringing up his own concern. "Excuse me, General Krenz, but will we be including civilians in this competition? I have a significant number of them on base, and they are a vital part of the operation at Cheyenne Mountain." Besides, he thought ruefully, I need an answer before Doctor Jackson asks me the same thing.

Krenz smiled. "I thought of that myself, George. And the committee made it very clear that all personnel are to be included in the competition. The idea is that it will encourage good relations between military and civilians, as well as between the various bases in each region."

Hammond sighed. "I see."

Army Brigadier General Darien Scott of Colorado's Fort Carson chuckled at the other man's reaction. "Got a few civilians who won't like that, eh, George? Join the club. I've got a good couple of handfuls that are going to keep my ears ringing about this for months."

"So when exactly is this competition supposed to be taking place?" Brigadier General Aaron Brooks of Arizona's Luke Air Force Base asked, a distinct tone of distaste in his voice.

"Three months from now," was the understanding response. "This should give all of you time to choose your participants and for them to come up with their talent entries."

"And how do we pick these participants?" Brigadier General David Thompson of Utah's Tooele Army Depot queried with a small frown. "I suppose the committee has a full-blown plan to cover that, too."

Krenz laughed at that. "Actually, they decided to leave that to the individual bases, so you can each decide how your participants get chosen. I think it was easier for the committee that way. We'll be holding it at Peterson." General Jones nodded his understanding.

After a few more unimportant comments, the meeting continued, each following activity offered by the committee received with as much enthusiasm as the first.

* * * * * * * * 

General George Hammond quietly entered the conference room where he was holding the meeting with his team leaders and department heads to fill them in on the Pentagon's latest attempt at morale boosting and looked around. He saw his second in command talking with two other members of SG-1, Doctor Daniel Jackson and Major Samantha Carter, the two of them present in their capacities as department heads. Doing a preliminary head count, he found that only seven of the expected thirty-three people had yet to arrive. Hammond took the opportunity to find out what two-thirds of his premier team were up to and headed over in their direction.

"Ah, General, how nice of you to join us," Jack O'Neill said expansively when the older man reached his destination. "I take it this little party has something to do with your jaunt to Washington."

"You could say that," Hammond replied with a smile.

"I thought you said that the meeting wasn't supposed to be about anything important," Carter commented, a questioning expression on her face.

George sighed. "I wouldn't exactly say it was important, but it does affect everyone here. I'm not sure how thrilled you're all going to be about it, that's for sure."

Daniel shared a quizzical look with his teammates. "What happened in Washington?"

"I'll wait until everyone gets here and share it with all of you at one time. That way you only have to share your reservations once. And yes," the general said before SG-1 could ask, "you will have reservations. Trust me. I have reservations. We just don't have any choice."

"You know I hate it when you say things like that, General," Jack said with a small frown. "Bad things tend to happen when you say things like that."

At that point, Hammond noticed that the last few people had arrived. "I need to get this meeting started. I promise you'll all get your chance to ask questions." He gave them an apologetic smile and moved to the head of the table, effectively calling the meeting to order. The senior officer greeted them all, thanking them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend, then quickly outlined the Pentagon's proposed competition. "Does anyone have any questions?" he asked finally, bracing himself for the inevitable onslaught.

"Uh, yes, sir," Jack offered into the stunned silence. "Are these people serious? They want us to hold a region-wide beauty pageant?"

"I hope they don't expect a swimsuit competition," Captain Lorraine DeMarco, the woman in charge of the clerical department, muttered in irritation.

Hammond sighed. "Yes, Colonel, they are definitely serious. And no, Captain, there won't be a swimsuit competition. The three categories are casual wear, formal wear, and talent." He paused for a moment, gauging his audience's level of disbelief. "Look, people, I'm not any more fond of this idea than you are, but we have our orders. Cheyenne Mountain will be participating in this event, and I expect us to give it our full effort."

"Um, excuse me," Daniel interjected with a raise of his hand, "but will the civilians on base be expected to participate? I mean, this is supposed to be for the military, right?"

George fought back a grin at his accurate guess of Doctor Jackson's reaction. "I'm afraid everyone at the SGC, civilian and military alike, will be getting involved in this event, Doctor Jackson. The only personnel that won't be will be our foreign teams and, of course, Teal'c. They would be just a little too difficult to explain. I was informed that this is supposed to encourage better relations between civilian and military personnel as well as between bases."

Jack didn't even try to contain his grin at the deepening scowl on his friend's face at that pronouncement. "There you go, Danny boy, equality between military and civilians. Just what you've always wanted."

"I was thinking more along the lines of actually in the workplace, Jack."

"So how are we supposed to pick these ten people, General?" Doctor Janet Fraiser, Chief Medical Officer of the SGC, asked, her voice weary with resignation.

"Well, that's the second reason I called all of you together for this meeting," the general replied. "I was hoping we could figure out an effective way that will be fair to everyone. Any ideas?"

There was a long moment of silence as the people seated around the large conference table considered the problem. "We could just draw names out of a hat," Lieutenant Colonel Louis Ferretti, team leader of SG-2, offered casually when the quiet got too much for him. Daniel's eyes lit up at the suggestion, figuring his chances of not being chosen were quite good with that option.

O'Neill scowled. "No way, Ferretti. With my luck I'd be the first person picked. Doesn't anyone else have anything?"

"I have to agree with Colonel O'Neill," Hammond said. "We have to do our best, and I don't think that the majority of the personnel's wishes will be represented that way. Anything else?"

"I think I may have something, sir," Sam offered, a thoughtful expression shaping her features. "We could come up with a ballot of the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes and let all of the personnel vote. That way we can be sure that the ten people that participate in this competition are the people the majority of our people want to represent them."

The general nodded. "That sounds like an excellent plan, Major. Are there any objections?" No one said anything. "Then I believe we have it, people. The ballots will be prepared and distributed within the next two days. Does anyone have anything else?"

The group of them finalized the plans for the ballot, then shared a few other concerns before breaking things up and returning to their work. Jack, Daniel, and Sam were the last to leave, and the three of them shared a dread-filled look, not looking forward to the upcoming event in the least.

* * * * * * * * 

The two weeks General Hammond gave for all personnel to fill out the ballots and turn them in to the security detail at the station between the two sets of elevators in the mountain passed quickly. Daniel had been the first to complete the task, wanting to get it over with and out of his life as quickly as possible. Jack had been the last, having put it off as long as possible in the hopes that it would all prove to be a huge joke at his expense. Both men had a feeling their wishes would go unanswered.

The Monday three-fourths of SG-1 had been dreading finally arrived, and all four team members had gathered in Daniel's office to await the general's announcement over the PA system. "Can't we just skip today and get on with our lives?" Jack asked petulantly as he slouched on a stool next to the main table in the lab.

"I wish," Daniel replied shortly, his eyes on his computer as he continued to work on the translation of an artifact SG-6 brought back from their latest mission.

"I do not understand why you would desire to eliminate the next twenty-four hours," Teal'c commented. "Surely General Hammond's announcement cannot be that devastating."

Sam sighed as she sat back on the lab couch. "I don't know about that, Teal'c. This whole competition thing is going to be very distracting to say the least. And if any of us get voted into it, there's bound to be one heck of a lot of embarrassment."

"What time is it?" the distracted archaeologist asked, rubbing his wrist where his watch would normally be. "I left my watch at home this morning."

Jack snorted. "Trying to put off the inevitable, Daniel? Hoping you'd miss this?"

Daniel looked up from his monitor with narrowed eyes. "Actually, Jack, the clasp is getting pretty worn and I haven't gotten around to having it fixed yet. I didn't want to lose it if it broke."

"It's almost time, Daniel," Sam answered his previous question placatingly.

"Good morning, people," Hammond's voice echoed from the speaker in the corner of the room promptly on cue. "I'll try to keep this short. First, I'd like to thank everyone for filling out the ballots. I received one from each of you. Second, all of the participants will meet in the briefing room at 1600 hours to discuss the particulars of the competition. Now for the moment you've all been waiting for. Our five bachelorettes, in order of number of ballots cast, are: number five, Sergeant Erica Witherspoon. Number four, Lieutenant Jamie Evans. Number three, Captain Katherine Southhall. Number two, Doctor Janet Fraiser. And number one, Major Samantha Carter."

The three humans had snickered at the announcement of Janet's name, then grew deathly silent when Sam's name was called. After a few beats, Jack couldn't hold back and started laughing, while Daniel did his best to stare at his desktop and not join the older man. Teal'c merely looked on with a raised eyebrow and a twinkle in his eyes.

Sam's eyes narrowed as she glared at her commanding officer. "You just wait, sir," she growled. "The general hasn't announced the men yet."

"Oh, I think there's only one man in here in danger of hearing his name, and he isn't me. But I hope you kids have fun!"

"Jaaack..." Daniel began through clenched teeth before being interrupted by the continuation of Hammond's announcement.

"Now for the top five bachelors, in order of votes cast. Number five, Lieutenant David Michaels. Number four, Sergeant Robert Erickson. Number three, Lieutenant Graham Simmons." Hammond cleared his throat before continuing on with a definite cast of humor in his tone. "Number two, Colonel Jack O'Neill." Both Sam and Daniel gave the shocked older man a wicked smirk. "And number one, by a landslide, Doctor Daniel Jackson." The linguist let his head fall to his desk with an audible thud. "Congratulations to the ten of you, and I'll see you at 1600 hours." The PA fell silent.

"Oh, God, no," Daniel murmured into the wood grain. "Oh, dear God, no."

"How in the hell did I get picked?" Jack blurted once he picked his jaw up off the ground. "I'm too old for this shit!"

Sam sighed as she looked at her two fellow competition participants. "Apparently not, sir. And now we have this to complicate things. Like I don't have enough projects going on!"

"You and me both," the archaeologist agreed without bringing his head up. "Work has been piling up lately."

The colonel harshly kicked at the legs of the stool he was slumped on. "So now I've got to come up with some sort of talent? What the hell?"

Two pairs of irritated blue eyes focused on the grumbling man. "You already asked that, Jack," Daniel snapped as he let himself fall back into his chair. "You're not the only one this is affecting, remember?"

"Daniel's right, sir," Sam chimed in. "We all have to deal with this."

Jack sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I know. And now we have to wait four hours before we get any specifics. How do we get into these things?"

"I have long noticed the three of you receiving appreciative looks from the personnel of the SGC," Teal'c said, a small smile lighting up his dark features. "These results do not surprise me."

"I wondered when you were going to put in your two cents' worth," Jack said with a scowl in the Jaffa's direction. "You're just lucky we couldn't have any aliens get involved, or the whole team would be parading our goods in front of everybody. You get your share of looks, too, buddy."

The big man's smile grew wider. "Perhaps. But as you have said, I will not be participating in this event. I must ask General Hammond if I will be allowed to witness this competition. I have watched beauty pageants on television, but it should be most interesting to see one in person." As the others stared at him in shock, Teal'c turned from his position at the end of the main table and left the room.

There was a long moment of silence as the three humans stared at the space their friend had just been standing in. "He's actually enjoying this," Daniel finally sputtered.

"Far too much if you ask me," Jack agreed darkly.

"We are never going to live this down," Sam moaned, letting her face fall into her hands. The remaining two men merely nodded their acquiescence as the trio began their wait for the meeting that would tell them just what they'd been voted into.

* * * * * * * * 

Ten SGC personnel in a variety of moods and one incredibly patient general sat around the table in the briefing room four and a half hours later, having covered the basics of the competition - everyone but Daniel would be required to wear their dress uniforms for the formalwear division, nothing completely lewd or improper for the casualwear division, something tasteful for the talent division - and leaving the floor open for questions. Hammond wasn't entirely sure he was looking forward to this part of the meeting.

"Um, if there's some sort of invasion or foothold situation we don't have to do this, do we, sir?" Captain Katherine Southhall queried somewhat meekly, her bright grey eyes darting around to gauge the others' reaction to the sentiment. The three members of SG-1 and Janet Fraiser shared an approving look. At least they didn't have to get the disapproving glare that was bound to result from the question they had all wanted to ask.

The general sighed. "Of course not, Captain. But you have to admit, that is highly unlikely."

"Not that we can't wish for it anyway," Jack muttered. He gave his CO an innocent look at the resulting sharp glance.

"Look, people, I know you don't really want to do this..."

"Oh, no, sir," Lieutenant David Michaels chimed in quickly, his tone and expression sincere. "I think this is a wonderful idea and I'm more than looking forward to it. It should be an interesting experience to say the least."

Everyone in the room blinked in surprise. "And I thought you were bad with your 'we're just peaceful explorers' bit," O'Neill murmured to Daniel.

"Cute, Jack."

"Thank you for your support, Lieutenant," Hammond managed to get out finally once he recovered. "As I was saying, I know most of you aren't eager to do this. Unfortunately, we're stuck. Since we are, I expect you to put the same kind of effort into this competition that you do into everything else we do. Think of it this way: if we make the people at the Pentagon see that we're giving this our all while not taking away from our efficiency and diligence, we'll have one more feather in our caps when people like Senator Kinsey try to tarnish our name with the President and Joint Chiefs. I won't have it be said that we don't take our orders seriously. I know I can count on you all to do whatever it takes to preserve the SGC and her reputation. Now, are there any other questions?" There was complete silence. Not even the ever-irreverent Jack O'Neill could bring himself to toss out a quip in the face of such serious sentiment. "All right, since there are none, I have one more piece of news for you. It seems that the committee that thought up this little boost of morale have decided to try to encourage a bit of base unity that they don't believe the more individual nature of the rest of the competition will address." The bald man rolled his eyes. "They want the ten of you to participate in a lip sync contest."

There was more blinking in surprise at this latest revelation. "Did I hear you right, General?" Daniel asked hesitantly. "A lip sync contest?"

"What in the hell is that supposed to prove? Uh, sir," Jack added at Hammond's frown.

The general cleared his throat. "According to the letter I received, the committee believes that a lip sync contest is the easiest way to allow for a large group of people with disparate talents to compete together and have a good time doing it. You can have as many people included from the base as you want, but the ten of you must be major players in the performance. Obviously you can't include the people who weren't allowed to participate in the original competition."

"Do these people have any idea what they're putting us through?" Lieutenant Jamie Evans asked with a disbelieving expression on her face. There was a general murmuring of agreement from around the table.

Sam let her head fall onto the table on her folded arms, a loud groan preceding the drop. Janet jumped a bit at the sudden movement then rubbed her best friend's back. "Are you okay, Sam?" she inquired gently.

The blonde woman brought her head up to reveal almost comically stricken features. "I was right before. We are never in a million years going to be able to live this down. Never." Her face disappeared again. The rest of the people around the table shared a commiserating look of agreement - even Michaels' enthusiasm had waned at this latest development - before they were all dismissed. This was not going to be fun, not in the slightest.

* * * * * * * * 

With two months left before the regional bachelor/bachelorette competition, the reluctant participants found themselves caught up in their preparations on top of everything else they were always busy with. Fortunately enough, no major disasters had come up or seemed to be looming on the horizon, the universe at large appearing to be maintaining a precarious balance between order and chaos. Jack had thought about the two weeks that had passed since the fateful day he and two of his teammates had been chosen for the most likely embarrassing event and decided that a team movie night was in order.

"This is definitely going to drive me right off the deep end!" the colonel complained as he paced around Sam's living room, the major having offered up her house for the get-together.

"Short trip," Daniel muttered to Janet from where the pair leaned against the island that separated the large space from the kitchen. The doctor had been invited as well since she also had to suffer through the competition with them on top of being a good friend. The petite physician stifled a giggle.

Jack glared at his friend. "I don't need any more grief, Daniel. Not only do I have to deal with trying to find something I'm good enough at to throw a performance together for the stupid talent competition, I can't get ten supposedly mature adults to agree on a song to perform for this lame-ass lip sync competition. Every time I think we're about to come to a consensus, someone," here he glared even more viciously at the archaeologist, "refuses to go along with it."

Blue eyes narrowed behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. "I'm not lip syncing to the Air Force alma mater, Jack."

"Well, why in the hell not?"

"One word: civilian."

O'Neill growled. "Oh, put that deck away, Daniel. Everyone else was ready to do it."

Brown eyebrows rose above the lenses in front of them. "One more word: military."

"Oh, I give up!"

"Sir, Daniel has a point," Sam commented calmly from where she was going through her movie collection with Teal'c to choose her selection for the evening. "It's not really fair to expect him to go along with a purely military selection. And it's not like he's the only one who's kept us from reaching a unanimous decision."

"I know! That's exactly my point! We're never going to find a song that makes everybody happy. I don't know why we're still trying. Although I've reached the point where I just want to pick a song that will tell these boot-licking lackeys exactly what I think of their little moraleboosting exercise. Something really fun for me while successfully sending the message that they can go screw themselves."

Seeing as Sam had finally chosen a movie, Janet moved over to the well-cushioned recliner next to the matching couch and settled in. She sighed. "Colonel, while I am in total agreement with you, I don't think we're going to be able to find anything like that."

"Actually, I'm with Janet," Daniel chimed in, seating himself on the center cushion of the sofa as Sam took the arm closest to the doctor. Jack flopped down on his other side. "Although I think I'd be willing to get a little goofy. It's not like I won't already be embarrassed enough."

"I'm beginning to think everyone's leaning in that direction," O'Neill muttered as Teal'c settled onto the floor in front of his arm of the couch. "Now if only we could find a song. It'll have to be a real good one..."

"O'Neill, Major Carter has started the movie," the Jaffa next to his feet reprimanded him. "Please continue your complaints after it is completed."

"I'm just saying," the colonel grumbled, not willing to give up the last word.

Daniel looked at the woman to his immediate left. "So what did you pick?"

Sam grinned a bit sheepishly. "It's a cheesy musical, but Teal'c and the colonel haven't seen it yet. You should get a kick out of it."

The first few measures of the first song started streaming from the surround sound speakers and Daniel couldn't help but laugh. "Grease 2?" Sam nodded, joining in for a brief spurt of laughter.

Jack had rolled his eyes at the pronouncement, but settled in gamely. He had established the rules, after all: the host gets to pick one movie while Teal'c gets the other. But about halfway through one of the songs firmly caught his attention. A wicked grin transformed his features, and he leaned forward in anticipation.

Daniel couldn't help but move closer to Sam when he heard the man to his right say under his breath in a decidedly evil tone, "Oh, yeah, that's the stuff. That's the stuff, baby." The linguist wasn't a hundred percent sure what his friend was referring to, but he was sure that it didn't bode well - and he wasn't going to like it.

* * * * * * * * 

A month later, Sam and Janet sat on either side of the diminutive doctor's desk in the infirmary's office discussing their personal trials and tribulations over the upcoming competition. "Are you kidding?" the blonde physicist asked incredulously. "Cassie was laughing at you?"

The auburn-haired woman nodded as she gave her friend a wry grimace. "Oh, yeah. She was practically in tears. Told me I looked like one of those people that was trying too hard to look like they were so much younger than they really were." She frowned. "I am not old," she insisted.

"Of course not. Cassie's seventeen."

"So what are you wearing for the casual wear competition?"

Sam shrugged. "I haven't decided. I have a few outfits in mind, but it's not like I have a teenage daughter around to laugh at the ones that are going to make me look ridiculous. Do you think I can borrow her for a while?"

Janet chuckled. "I don't think so. She's already told me she refuses to have anything more to do with this. She says I'm perfectly capable of making a fool of myself all on my own."

The two women laughed at that for a few moments before Sam sobered and shared a speculative look with her companion. "Hey, Janet?"

"Yeah, Sam."

"We both need some help with this thing, right?"

The smaller woman nodded. "I'd say that's a given."

"Are we really trying to one-up each other?"

"What do you mean?"

Sam leaned forward and spoke earnestly. "I mean, we're not really trying to get ahead at the expense of anyone else at the SGC, right? So why don't we work together and give ourselves the best chance we've got? I may not be the biggest supporter of this whole contest, but I can't stand to lose. And if I can't win, someone from the SGC should. What do you say?"

Janet grinned wickedly. "I'd say I better call Jamie, Erica, and Katherine in here. Four Corners won't know what hit them."

* * * * * * * * 

A little later that same day, Daniel and Teal'c walked together toward the doors of the food court at the mall closest to the mountain. "Thanks for coming with me today, Teal'c," the archaeologist said to his companion with a small smile. "I really appreciate the help."

"You are welcome, Daniel Jackson. However, I must question why you did not ask O'Neill to accompany you in this endeavor."

"Jack's learned the hard way that he doesn't like shopping with me. He says I shop like a girl." Daniel grinned. "You should have heard what Sam had to say when I told her that. Anyway, I'd rather have you along. Jack's no good with clothes."

Teal'c nodded as they walked inside and past the crowd that lined up at the various minirestaurants and span of tables. "I understand your reasoning."

The younger man fought back a burst of laughter. "I figured you would."

"Is there another reason you did not wish to choose your outfits for the competition with O'Neill?"

Daniel sighed, his smile falling. "Yeah, there is. When this all started I was pretty vocal about my distaste for the whole thing. At first Jack blew it off, but after a while I noticed it was starting to bug him. He may not think too much of this thing, but he has his orders and he'll back them to the best of his ability. And there I was mouthing off about it, getting pretty nasty and pretty much insulting everything he's chosen to represent. Not that I haven't ripped on the military before, but I've never done it quite this consistently, especially over such a trivial thing."

"I have noticed this behavior as well. Would this be the reason you have not vocalized your opinions of the competition as frequently of late?"

"Yeah. Jack doesn't deserve that, and neither does anyone else. It's not the people at the SGC's fault we have to go through with this stupid competition. So, since I can't complain, I'm going to go the other way. First place is mine." An evil grin transformed the archaeologist's features. "And who says I have to tell anyone about my change of heart?"

Teal'c smiled at his friend's wicked enthusiasm. "How may I assist you in this endeavor, Daniel Jackson? Unfortunately I am somewhat unknowledgeable as to fashion styles and trends."

"You can't be any worse than I am, Teal'c. Besides, you're the one who said you noticed the way people were looking at me, Sam, and Jack. I figure I'll try things on and you can tell me if they show off what people have been looking at. The more things the outfits show off, the better." Daniel paused as the two of them reached the center court. He pointed at a men's clothing shop a short ways down the hall to their right. "That looks like a decent place to start. Shall we?"


And they were off.

* * * * * * * * 

The day the contestants had been dreading finally arrived, that Friday marking the beginning of a three-day weekend that had been set aside specifically for the Four Corners Region Bachelor/Bachelorette Competition. The first day was dedicated to the women, Saturday to the men, and Sunday to the lip sync competition and the announcement of all the winners. Jack had grumbled all the way to the parking lot as he led the SGC's ten participants there after one last team meeting earlier that morning before they drove to Peterson Air Base together. "I swear, if one more person thanks me for the three-day weekend, they're going to find out just how thorough my black ops training really was!"

Daniel had smirked at the outburst. "Oh, come on, Jack. You'd have been doing the same thing if you hadn't been voted in."

"That would have been different," Jack replied haughtily.

"And how is that, exactly?"

"I would have outranked them."

Now it was almost time for the festivities to begin, and General George Hammond sat in the front row of seats set up on the parade grounds, directly on the center aisle that extended from the runway that jutted out from the otherwise rectangular stage that, along with a temporary structure that served as a backstage area, took up nearly a third of the grounds. The seat to his right was unoccupied, and the bald man looked around to try to find the person who should have been sitting there.

He didn't have to wait long. Soon enough, Teal'c walked up and took his seat, his hands balancing a cardboard tray filled almost to overflowing with snacks and treats from the concession stands set up behind the audience. He nodded as he handed Hammond the soda he had picked up for the SGC's commanding officer.

"Thank you," George replied distractedly, his eyes still on the pile of junk food. "Are you really that hungry?"

"Only slightly," was the calm response. "However, I saw that many items I have long wished to sample but not yet found an opportunity to do so were available for purchase. I thought I would take advantage of the situation."

"Um, Murray," Hammond commented, stumbling slightly over the alias the Jaffa used when out in public since he hadn't had much call to use it previously, "you do realize it's almost nine o'clock in the morning, don't you?"

"Indeed," the alien replied as he adjusted the plain black bandana he wore to cover the golden mark of Apophis on his forehead. "It is nearly time for the competition to begin. Would you care for some salt water taffy?"

The general stared at him a touch incredulously for a moment then shrugged. "Why not?"

Music began blaring from the speakers positioned around the grounds as the Texan chewed on the stiff but sweet candy, and the crowd quieted in anticipation. Not long after, General Krenz's aide, looking sharp in his dress uniform, stepped up to the podium that had been set up a few steps stage right of the base of the runway and tapped on the microphone to check if it was on. "Ladies and gentlemen, military and civilian personnel, one and all, welcome to the first annual Four Corners Region Bachelor/Bachelorette Competition!" The crowd applauded, whistles and catcalls supplementing the gesture. Hammond was sure a sizable part of the latter came from his own personnel seated behind him. He grinned. "Now put your hands together for a little while longer as you meet the Four Corners ladies!"

The anticipatory music that had been playing switched to an energetic tune with a solid beat, and from behind the sitting crowd came three lines of women mostly in crisp, darklycolored military dress uniforms with splashes of other formalwear here and there. The ninety women streamed up the three aisles that divided the audience into four equal wedges and met on stage before going through a choreographed routine that had been rehearsed the night before and ended with them arranged on the two three-tiered risers that had been set up at the back of the stage. It was an impressive sight.

Once the ladies were settled and the crowd had begun to do so as well, the general's aide moved close to the microphone again, the music from the speakers fading out. "And now, your Master of Ceremonies for the weekend, Lieutenant General William Krenz!" He took a step to the side, clearing the path to the podium, as the audience rose to its feet.

As though it had been as choreographed as the trip to the risers, every last member of the military snapped to attention complete with sharp salute as the announced general stepped out from backstage and made his way between the two halves of the bachelorette competitors. Just before the balding man reached his ultimate destination he spun around and returned the ladies' salutes, then did the same for the rest of the crowd. "At ease, everyone," General Krenz said into the microphone with a huge smile once he and his notes were in place. He straightened the note cards as two-thirds of the parade grounds was seated. "It is my pleasure to welcome you to Peterson Air Base in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado on this picture-perfect weekend. I guess this means Mother Nature approves of our little competition, wouldn't you say?"

Half of the crowd from Cheyenne Mountain and two members in particular of the group seated in the stage right wedge that was comprised of empty seats and the men that would be competing the next day choked at the statement while the others chuckled politely. "Somehow I get the feeling Oma won't be popping in to do her glowy tentacle number," Jack whispered to Daniel. "Although that would be one hell of an entry for the talent competition." The younger man merely glared at him.

"Let me explain how today's and tomorrow's events are going to work," Krenz continued. "As you can see, all ninety of our contestants will start the day with the formalwear competition. Once each base's fivesome has been introduced and paraded for the judges," here he introduced the six members of his staff handling those roles, "there will be a fifteen minute break for the results to be tallied. Then the sixty contestants that will be moving on will be announced. The ladies - gentlemen tomorrow, of course - will then have a half hour to change into their casual outfits for the next stage of the competition. The process will be repeated, with thirty contestants continuing on to the third and final stage - the talent competition. The top five winners will be chosen from that last group and announced after the lip sync contest on Sunday." He paused for a moment to let everything sink in. "Now that we've got that out of the way, let us begin!" Music was again piped in through the speakers.

One by one, each base's group of five women was introduced, each successive woman being announced when the one previous had reached the end of the runway until they'd all been taken care of, lining up at the base of the catwalk as they finished and heading back out of the way together. This had been the other focus of the rehearsal the night before. The one hundred and eighty participants could only be glad it was a simple enough concept. As it was they hadn't gotten out until eleven-thirty.

Two-thirds of the bases had their ladies grouped together in a semi-circle in front of the risers loosely enough to allow the others passage as needed before Stargate Command - known to the public at large only as the Cheyenne Mountain Complex - had its turn. General Hammond straightened in his seat while Teal'c raised an interested eyebrow. "And now for the ladies from that most enigmatic of our entries, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex," General Krenz announced. There was a pause a touch longer than usual as the ruckus those words set off overwhelmed the PA system. Daniel yanked Jack back into his seat while Teal'c gave the bouncing and whistling Lieutenant Colonel Louis Ferretti to his right an odd look. They were a real family under the mountain, one that was fiercely loyal - and they didn't care who knew it.

"Our first Cheyenne lady is Sergeant Erica Witherspoon," Krenz continued when things died down enough to be heard. The wiry five-foot-ten young lady from communications stepped out and started down the runway, her straight shoulder-length black hair set off well in the bright sunlight that added to the natural sparkle of her green-grey eyes.

"Next is Lieutenant Jamie Evans." The anthropologist of SG-8 followed in Witherspoon's footsteps, her well-rounded five-foot-six frame, curly, chin-length brown hair , and bright light brown eyes well-suited to the dark navy blue uniform she wore.

"Captain Katherine Southhall." At five foot three, she was the second shortest of the five, but her muscular build and dangerous air said she was anything but a pushover - most definitely explaining her position in security. Her grey eyes flashed as she strode after the first two women, her short-cropped honey-blonde hair barely moving to tickle her earlobes.

"Major Janet Fraiser." Janet held the dubious title of shortest at five foot two, but anyone who had been in her infirmary would tell you she was tougher than her height suggested. Her shoulder-length auburn hair was swept up into a bun, and her chocolate brown eyes twinkled with amusement at the ceaseless antics the group from the SGC kept up. Her smile grew even wider when she saw Cassandra wave wildly from her seat behind General Hammond.

"And last but not least, Major Samantha Carter." The five-foot-nine blonde couldn't help but shoot a look to the men stage right where Jack had let loose an ear-splitting whistle - the same whistle he used off-world when he desperately needed his team's attention and subtlety was either not important or not an option. She grinned widely when she saw Daniel give her a weak wave and thumbs-up before letting his face fall into his hands.

It wasn't long before Sam had finished her walk and taken her place in the center of the five women lined up at the base of the runway. "The ladies of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, ladies and gentlemen!" Again there was a roar from the SGC crowd, and the five of them took their places in the background semi-circle.

The rest of the ladies were introduced, and the fifteen minutes that followed were thick with anticipation and the whispers that accompanied it. "I think the girls did great," Lou said quietly to the two men on his left as they waited.

"Mom looked amazing," Cassie declared as she leaned forward to join the conversation. "I've never seen her look better in her dress uniform."

"Doctor Fraiser did indeed look quite attractive," Teal'c agreed. "As did Major Carter and the other ladies."

Cassie nodded quickly. "Yeah, Sam was great, too. Just wait until you see what she's got picked out for the casualwear competition. The guys are gonna need bibs."

"I thought you told them you weren't going to help?" Hammond queried, having heard tales of the teenager's antics over the past three months.

"Who was helping?" the girl replied. "They made the choices all by themselves. I was just there to show off to." She grinned. "I couldn't have done better myself."

Lou looked at her speculatively. "That good, huh?" Cassie nodded. "Worth a wager or two, would you say?"

"Colonel," George began reprovingly.

"Don't worry, General. Nothing big, I promise. It's just that some of the Marines from Yuma have been blowing a lot of hot air, and I'd really like to take them down a peg or two. If Cassie says the girls will knock 'em dead, I may have just the thing." Hammond's gaze hadn't lightened. "Come on, General. You saw their offerings. It's nothing against jarheads in general - ours are cool, pretty much - but those guys from Yuma really got under my skin." The SGC commander still wasn't budging. "If you had heard what they were saying about the Air Force, and our command in particular, you'd have already had me over there."

Pale blue eyes narrowed. "And what exactly did they have to say, Colonel?"

Ferretti looked around nervously, his eyes lingering longest on Cassie's curious expression. He slid out of his seat and stepped up to Hammond to whisper in his ear. Cassie just rolled her eyes.

"I see," the general said finally. "You know I can't condone actions like those you were suggesting, Colonel." Ferretti straightened, the start of a disappointed expression beginning to blossom across his features. "But then again, what I don't know won't hurt you. What else did you pick up from the concession booths, Murray?" The wiry leader of SG-2 jumped a bit in surprise, then grinned as he took off to set his plan in motion.

Forty-five minutes and a quick lunch later, Ferretti slipped back into his seat, a triumphant smile splitting his face. "That was satisfying," he commented gleefully.

"Are your wagers in place, Colonel Ferretti," Teal'c asked, an eyebrow raised.

"You know it. And the fact that Carter, Fraiser, and Evans all made it to the next round just made it all that much sweeter. Just you wait. They'll never know what hit 'em."

Cassie leaned over, hazel eyes sparkling with amusement. "Mom's gonna kill you for not letting her in on this you know."

"There was no time, sweetkins," Lou replied, using his longtime nickname for her. It was the only reason she still let him - and him alone - use it. "The girls were already backstage when they started up. But don't worry. She'll profit from this."

Hammond shook his head as the volume of the music increased, signaling the beginning of the casualwear competition. Once again the ladies marched in from the back, using an abbreviated version of the routine they had used at the beginning of the day to account for the reduced number of participants. General Krenz started things off, and the stream of well-dressed women in casual outfits up and down the runway began.

This time there were no groupings, each woman now standing on their own against the others. There were various combinations of styles and colors, from T-shirts and jeans to sundresses and sandals. They all looked stunning.

Janet went by about halfway through the first third dressed in an off-the-shoulder white peasant's blouse, its neckline trimmed with a short collar of embroidered lace, and a short, tight, stonewashed denim skirt that hung to mid-thigh. Her shoes had a half-inch heel, and white leather laced over her feet and a quarter of the way up her calves. Her hair was now in a messy bun slightly higher on her head, relaxing the crisp look that had gone so well with her uniform earlier. All in all, her outfit played up the strengths of her lean, petite frame, and her bright smile was the icing on the cake.

SG-8 in particular did a double take when Jamie Evans came out a little while later. They were used to seeing their anthropologist in the loose BDUs people tended to wear at the project, and even when they did see her outside of work her clothes were light and flowing - comfortable, as she put it whenever they'd ask. Now she strolled by confidently, her brown hair tied back in a simple ponytail, plain red sneakers on her feet, and a spandex bicycling outfit in a swirled red, blue, and purple pattern hugging her very evident - and very attractive - curves. The open red windbreaker didn't distract from the crop top tank or mid-thigh length shorts in the slightest. The woman laughed as she took in her team's faces from the third row.

Sam was the last of the SGC representatives, taking her walk during the last third of the competition. While not entirely surprised, the rest of her team were fiercely reminded once again that, no matter how much it didn't matter, Samantha Carter was most definitely a woman. Her sunlight colored hair had a windblown look and her cheeks were flushed like she had just come in from a ride on her motorcycle. She wore a man's white dress shirt with only two buttons done up, just enough to allow her to maintain some semblance of decency as her stomach and a respectable amount of cleavage glowed warmly in the brilliant afternoon sun, and a pair of snug, worn light-colored jeans that followed the lines of her long, athletically-built legs. There was a thin, silver chain around her neck, and the charm that hung from it nestled comfortably in the hollow of her throat. The ribbon on the package was the just-this-side-of-cocky smirk the physicist couldn't keep off her features as she made her run down the catwalk as professionally as any supermodel.

The fifteen minutes tallying time flew by when the second event was over. Ferretti spent the interval gloating and generally patting himself on the back. Hammond spoke with Kerrigan, who had the seat across the aisle to the bald man's left, and Cassie reveled in the fact of her adoptive mother's fine showing, as well as Sam's, with the SGC people that surrounded her, continually trying to draw Teal'c into the conversation. Jack and Daniel had a whispered conversation discussing what they had just witnessed, both doing their best to avoid admitting just how much it had affected them. They all went wild when Sam and Janet were announced to have made the next cut, moving on to the talent competition.

"So what are they each doing for this?" Lou asked Cassie in a wheedling tone once they'd all returned to their seats after a light dinner.

It didn't work. "I'm not telling. They wanted it to be a surprise."

"I am sure that both Major Carter and Doctor Fraiser are extremely talented in whichever endeavors they have chosen to perform for this competition," Teal'c assured the nervous man as the music began again a half hour later. Ferretti just grunted his concession of the point.

Sam was the first of the two remaining SGC competitors. She stepped out onto the center of the stage after she and her performance piece had been announced and gave a flourished bow as a small crew of people set up a drum kit behind her. She now wore a loose-fitting, creamcolored peasant's blouse, sleeves gathered at the elbows as the forearms were tightly laced, a pair of snug, dark khaki bell bottoms that flared just above her ankles, and a pair of flat-soled light brown moccasins.

"Did you know Carter could play the drums?" Jack asked Daniel in a low tone.

"No," Daniel replied, his eyes never moving from the spotlighted woman on the stage.

"Did you know she could play anything?"


"Did you suspect she could play anything?"


"Are you surprised?"


"Do you think Jacob knows?"

"Will you just be quiet?"

Sam pulled out a pair of deep purple drumsticks from a back pocket and headed back to the completed kit. What came next had her friends at the SGC picking up their jaws. For the next three minutes, the entire audience was treated to an exemplary performance on the drums, the piece Sam had chosen quite complex. When it finished with an echoing crash of a cymbal, the applause was immediate. After a few beats, it turned into a roar as the SGC personnel got over their shock and added their input to the din. Sam laughed, bowed with a wide flourish, and left the stage.

The second half of the remaining contestants brought out Janet Fraiser, elegantly dressed in an ankle-length evening gown of a rich, royal green satin that shimmered in the waning light. Half of her hair was held up by a gold comb touched here and there with sparkling emeralds that matched the dainty chain that hung around her neck and its teardrop charm. She smiled playfully at the rows that held her fellows from under the mountain and gave a tiny wave to her daughter who laughed and returned it. Finally, music started streaming from the speakers, the microphone she had in her right hand was brought up to her lips, and she began to sing.

In the wedge that held the competing men and the women who had been cut as the day went along, Daniel and Jack were once again wowed by the talent of a lady they worked with closely and considered a friend. "This is 'Teach Me Tonight'," the younger man murmured as Janet worked the crowd with the suggestive, forties-era tune. "Natalie Cole did a version of this on her album 'Stardust'. Did you know she could sing like this?"

Jack said nothing, his eyes as frozen on the diminutive doctor as Daniel's had been on Sam and his jaw about ready to scrape the floor.

"Janet really looks great, don't you think so?"

Again, no response.

"I wonder if anyone helped her pick that dress out. Cassie said she wouldn't. Do you know?"

Silence from his left.

"Would you like me to get you a towel or a washrag or something? I wouldn't want you to get drool all over yourself."

Still without saying a word or turning his gaze away from the stage, Jack reached over and clapped a hand over Daniel's mouth.

The brown-haired man sighed. "Or I can shut up," his muffled voice concluded.

The crowd once again went wild when Janet finished, and the auburn-haired woman laughed, waved, and quickly exited the stage. It wasn't too long after that when General Krenz announced the end of the final third of the bachelorettes' competition. Once he was through with his concluding encouragement for everyone to come back tomorrow for the male half of the event, the various crowds from the various bases mulled together until their competitors had rejoined them then left for the night.

The SGC had done the same, congratulations offered all around to their five ladies, and especially to Sam and Janet. Lou took the opportunity to pull the CMO aside and fill her in on his last-minute activities involving the Marines from Yuma and received her blessing, complete with matching wicked grin. Teal'c shared the last of his morning's haul with the rest of his team, Jack quickly snatching up the remaining pieces of salt water taffy much to Sam and Daniel's frustration. The Jaffa promised to pick up some specifically for the two scientists the next day. And Friday night wrapped up with laughter and friendly companionship, everyone looking ahead to tomorrow with hopes of more of the same.

* * * * * * * *

The next morning began much the same way as the one before, Jack grumbling all the way to the cars at Cheyenne Mountain as the competitors once again traveled over to Peterson together, General Hammond securing the front few rows of the stage right center wedge for the SGC, and Teal'c joining the bald Texan with a cardboard tray filled almost to overflowing with snacks and junk food. This time, however, Hammond didn't bother to comment on it, merely taking the offered soda and periodic pieces of candy.

Ferretti rubbed his hands together like an over-the-top villain as nine o'clock rolled around and the music that announced the beginning of the event started piping through the PA system. Cassie had pointed out the Lieutenant Colonel's presence amongst the Marines from Yuma a half hour before, and everyone who saw shook their heads. This was either going to be a spectacular triumph or a disastrous fall, and no matter which way it went it was bound to be entertaining to watch.

"Hey, does anyone know what Daniel decided to wear today?" the teenaged girl in the second row asked, leaning forward.

"You mean you don't know?" Lou asked, horrified. "I was counting on you to fill me in on that!"

The girl narrowed her eyes dangerously at the SG team leader. "I never said I knew anything about what the guys were going to do. Only Mom, Sam and the other girls showed their outfits to me. I don't know what Jack, Daniel and the others are doing."

"I am so dead."

"Do not concern yourself, Colonel Ferretti," Teal'c reassured the smaller man quietly as Krenz's aide finished up his introduction of the bachelors and the three lines of men made their way from the back to the stage like the women the day before. "Each of the men participating in this event requested my opinion at one point. I feel confident they will do well today."

Lou's brow furrowed as he weighed the information he had been given. "So you know what they're all wearing and doing?"

"That is not what I said. Each of the male participants from the SGC asked me at various times over the past three months for my opinion regarding choices they were considering for their casual clothing and talent entries. Thus I feel their chances are great that they will perform admirably today."

"I was right before. I am so dead." General Krenz made his appearance at that point and cut off any further discussion.

As had happened with the women, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex fivesome was announced as part of the last third of the contestants. "Our first gentleman from the mountain is Lieutenant David Michaels," General Krenz introduced the eager young man from maintenance. He was five foot eleven and had dark blond hair and hazel eyes that were crinkled at the corners thanks to the huge smile he wore. His lean build was shown off nicely by his dress blues.

"Next is Sergeant Robert Erickson." The well-built platinum blond from SG-14 wouldn't have looked out of place at the local body-builders' gym, belying his role as the team's geologist. At six foot four, he towered over a lot of the contestants, but the mischievous glint in his light green eyes took away much of what could have been an intimidating air.

"First Lieutenant Graham Simmons." The young man that had been so shy during the first years of the Stargate Program had grown much since then, the confident stride he used to walk down the runway ample evidence. His short brown hair looked lighter in the late morning light and his blue-green eyes twinkled as they gazed at the cheering SGC crowd.

General Krenz paused for a second when he saw the next name then gave the audience a wide grin. "Well, folks, it looks like the people at Cheyenne Mountain pulled out all the stops for our little contest. The next bachelor is the second in command of the base, Colonel Jonathan O'Neill." Jack rolled his brown eyes as he moved out from behind the men that had already made their passes and headed for the catwalk. His silver hair sparkled in the sun, and he shot Hammond, Teal'c, Lou, and Cassie a wink as just before he turned to head back for the line-up at the base of the stage's extension.

"And lastly, the only civilian participant from the complex, Doctor Daniel Jackson." Jack paused for a second in surprise and the SGC group - including the five ladies in the wedge the men had taken up the day before - gasped loudly as Daniel made his way forward. He wore a precisely-tailored black tuxedo with a waist-length jacket that showed off his lean waist and hips while accentuating his wide shoulders and broad chest. The satin stripes on the outside of the legs of his snug slacks drew the eye along his long, muscular legs. The collarless white dress shirt with its sapphire-colored top button paid tribute to the bright blue eyes that were in no way diminished by the gold wire-rimmed glasses that rested on his nose. His brown hair was combed flat like he usually wore it at the project, but the sunlight showed off the blond highlights that had started to peek out ever since the last four-day mission SG-1 had returned from. Daniel smirked when he saw his surprise had its intended effect.

The crowd went wild when the quintet withdrew from the runway. "Okay, I take it back," Lou said, his smug grin returning. "I'm not dead after all."

The first and longest third of the competition finished soon enough afterward, and people grabbed lunch once the results were announced. "Isn't it great, Uncle George?" Cassie exclaimed when she'd eaten her hot dog, bouncing on her padded metal folding chair. "Only one of our guys didn't go on! This is wonderful!"

"It's just too bad Michaels was so keen on this," Nyan, Daniel's longtime alien research assistant, commented from the young woman's right. He'd managed to get a seat closer to the action than he had the day before. "David really wanted to impress his girlfriend."

"Like Wilcox really cares about being Bachelor of the Year for the Four Corners Region," Ferretti scoffed, referring to the woman in question, his team's linguist. "Jennifer's talked about nothing but Michaels for the last six months. This isn't going to change anything."

"And is it just me, or did things get hot when Daniel did his turn on the catwalk?" Cassie asked, fanning herself and grinning wickedly.

"Doctor Jackson was definitely a hit," Hammond agreed, giving the girl an indulgent smile.

"I concur," Teal'c added with a solemn nod, though his eyes were twinkling with knowledgeable amusement. "Daniel Jackson did indeed present himself as a very sexually attractive male." The men that surrounded him gave the Jaffa odd looks while Cassie laughed.

To the far stage right Sam and Janet were having a similar discussion. "Can you believe that tux?" the blonde asked her petite friend incredulously. "The very definition of a perfect fit."

"And what a body to package in one of those," the auburn-haired doctor concurred. "I get to see it in the infirmary all the time, but that? Wow."

"I mean, it's one thing to know your friend and teammate is attractive on an intellectual level," Sam continued, blinking a little more than normal. "But to have it thrust in your face like that is just a tad bit overwhelming."

"The colonel was looking good as usual in his dress blues," Janet commented.

The physicist nodded. "Yeah, he did. Where did Daniel get that tux? Who did he get to do the alterations?"

Janet looked at her friend and laughed. "I give up. You're hopeless."

Sam blinked at her. "What? What do you mean?"

"Nothing. Just... nothing."

Any comeback Sam might have returned was cut off by the music from the speakers that signaled the beginning of the next part of the competition.

No one could make Daniel out clearly when the men filed back in, and everyone was trying - including Jack, Graham, and Robert on stage. Somehow the archaeologist had managed to tuck himself away amongst taller and bigger men. O'Neill resolved to have a few words with his wayward linguist about that.

Simmons was the first of the SGC men to take to the catwalk once again. He wore a burgundy polo shirt and a pair of light khakis, a pair of brown penny loafers on his feet. He was a real class act. And if his hands shook slightly as he stuck them in his pockets, his nerves finally starting to get to him, everyone was kind enough to overlook it. At least until they got back to the mountain. Then all bets were off.

Erickson came out a little while later, his very muscular build set off nicely by the fitted grey casual dress jacket over a black tank top and snug black slacks. His platinum blond hair was a mess of tiny spikes and practically glowed in the afternoon sunlight. He winked at his teammates as he turned at the foot of the catwalk then almost strutted back toward the risers.

A familiar sight met the eyes of Jack O'Neill's friends and colleagues when he took his turn. He wore his light, black leather jacket over a ribbed black T-shirt that was a little more snug than usual and a pair of grey khakis. He exuded comfortable confidence as he walked the runway, giving the SGC crowd a knowing smile, and Teal'c, Hammond, Ferretti, and Cassie a wink.

"I've always loved that leather jacket," Janet said with a small sigh.

"You do know that's a replacement, don't you? He lost the original on Thor's ship when we dealt with the Replicators."

"What's your point?"

It was Sam's turn to sigh as she rolled her eyes.

Krenz had reached the final ten contestants when Daniel's name was finally called. He strolled out calmly, a worn denim jacket over his shoulders and a white T-shirt, and a pair of extremely worn jeans that hugged the long length of his legs. There were holes in the battered material - probably digs from his university days made them - interestingly placed just under the rear right-hand pocket and below his left knee, starting a debate as to whether or not the man was going commando. Halfway down the runway, the brown-haired man shrugged out of the jacket and hung it over his right shoulder, revealing that he was actually wearing a muscle shirt underneath that once again set off his wide shoulders and broad chest. He'd left his glasses behind this time, letting his bright blue eyes shine without anything getting in the way. His hair was lazily spiked, his blond highlights even more showcased than they had been before. Again, another well-wrapped package from the SGC.

"Why have I never seen him dressed like this before?" Sam practically moaned.

"Has there ever been a reason before?" Janet retorted.

The blonde woman sighed. "For the benefit of all women everywhere."

The smaller woman snickered. "I don't think he'd ever see it that way. I get the feeling that he's hiding a whole lot of embarrassment. It's not like we're seeing him when he gets off stage after all."

"Then I'll just have to let him know he's got nothing to be embarrassed about, won't I?"

"Like I said before, you're hopeless."

Ferretti practically danced a jig when the contestants were named for round three, the SGC leaving only Robert Erickson behind. Hammond just silently led Cassie, Teal'c, and Nyan toward the concession stands while the wiry little man gloated. Fortunately, Lou had figured out what he had done wrong by the time they got back, so things were more bearable during the remainder of the wait for the talent competition.

Third up on the program was Daniel. He came out from the backstage area dressed in another black tuxedo, this one traditionally cut with tails and wide lapels, a white bow tie and cummerbund adding to the elegance of his appearance. A piano waited for him, and the linguist melodramatically flipped out the long ends of his jacket before seating himself on the bench, a quick grin and wink to his friends from the mountain enough to counter the conceited air he had drawn around himself for effect.

"He's not," Sam whispered incredulously.

"He's not what?" Janet asked.

"I knew he had a piano - getting that thing into and out of storage was a pain in the ass - but I didn't think he knew how to play it well enough to use it for a talent piece." The blonde leaned forward, her sky blue eyes fixated on the sight of Daniel pulling off his white dress gloves finger by finger as haughtily as any master pianist from the movies.

The smaller woman smiled. "Apparently he does. This should be good. I've always known Daniel had a great sense of rhythm and beat. And I've always liked his taste in music."

Sam shook her head in amazement. "This man is just full of surprises." Janet just laughed at her friend, and the two of them waited for the show to begin.

What followed was an amazingly complicated concerto, a beautifully flowing composition of classical music that moved seamlessly from the darkest depths of despair to the highest heights of passion and beyond. Daniel lost himself in the emotionally stirring piece, his expression showing the kind of rapture his friends and colleagues had only seen before associated with certain wondrous discoveries through the gate. When the last note's echo finally faded to nothing, and Daniel came back to the present with much blinking of eyes and a startled, abstracted look, the entire audience exploded into applause. The archaeologist blushed as he stood and gave a small, appreciative smile before escaping backstage.

Graham Simmons came out just past the halfway point dolled up in a tuxedo with tails of his own, this one white, his tie and cummerbund a pale violet. There was no sign of any instruments anywhere on the stage, and people were wondering just what the young man was going to do when the first strains of a big band style tune began piping through the speakers. Not long afterward, the sound of thin metal plates on the bottom of a pair of well-worn dance shoes clicking against the wooden surface of the stage rang out across the parade grounds. Graham ran through his routine with an innate grace and fluidity of movement no one from the SGC had previously expected. It was a fun bit of choreography, and the crowd laughed and clapped along with the beat while they marveled at the skill the young technician displayed. Another loud round of clapping concluded the performance.

Jack was announced just before the end of the program. He came out wearing a black dress shirt and grey slacks, the combination putting him on the dressier side of casual, and carrying an older, acoustic, six-string guitar. A stool had been set up in the center of the stage, and the colonel plopped himself onto it and double checked his instrument.

"Guitar?" Janet asked in shock, grabbing Sam's arm as though to remind her she was still awake and on this plane of reality. "He plays guitar? Did you know?"

The taller woman shook her head, just as surprised. "No way. He's never said anything that would suggest it. This should be interesting."

"Did you know he even owned one of those?"

"Um, no. I might have had a clue otherwise, don't you think?"

"He even knows how to handle it!" the auburn-haired woman whispered as Jack made a couple slight adjustments to the pegs before attaching the small microphone.

Sam couldn't help but grin. "Well, yeah, that would probably explain why he's playing it for the talent competition."

"This is amazing." Janet didn't notice Sam's stifled chuckle at her comment.

As soon as he was ready, the familiar notes of the instrumental sixties classic "Classical Gas" poured out crisp and clear. Jack's fingers flew over the strings, and his attention was riveted to them to avoid any mistakes. This didn't prevent a grin to transform his features, slowly growing as the song went on, finally blazing out to the crowd at large when it came to an end. One more time, the audience went wild for a member of the SGC.

"You really steamed things up out here, Daniel!" Ferretti declared to the once-again normal looking archaeologist as he and the other contestants joined the main group from Cheyenne Mountain after General Krenz gave his parting speech. "I never saw that one coming!"

"Yeah, Daniel, you were looking really hot!" Cassie agreed. Daniel blushed.

"So why did you wait to spring that on us?" Jack asked his friend, a suspicious look on his face. The younger man had to have been up to something, he just didn't know what.

Everyone paid close, curious attention to the brown-haired man to hear how he'd respond. "Well," Daniel began, "I know I was bugging people with my complaints."

The crowd gathered around him scoffed in unison. "That's an understatement," Sam said with a gentle elbow to his ribs.

He smiled sheepishly as he continued. "Anyway, I figured you guys weren't to blame for this... event... so I needed to stop. And if I couldn't complain, I had to go the other way. I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to do what I could to win. I just hope it was enough." The smile turned into a grin. "I also figured the looks on everyone's faces when they saw the effort I'd put into this thing would be priceless. Thus, the secret. And I was right; it was worth it."

"You are so lucky I don't hurt you," Jack threatened. "I nearly had a heart attack on the runway when you first came out in that black tux."

"Like I said, completely worth it."

Comments, compliments, and kidding continued on for a little while longer before everyone departed for a good night's rest in preparation for the third and final day of the contest. They were starting to look forward to it, anticipating the results that would be announced at the end of the day, as well as the lip sync contest that would precede it. Yes, tomorrow promised yet more fun and games - and hopefully honor and glory for the SGC.

* * * * * * * * 

"All right, troops," Jack said in the middle of the Peterson Air Base parking lot the next morning as he paced in front of the other nine competitors and the other members of the SGC they had recruited to help out with their lip sync entry. "I'm thinking we've already made a really good showing here this weekend, thanks to Carter and Daniel, our two resident sex pots."

"Thank you so very much," Daniel threw back at him sarcastically as Sam shot him a vicious glare.

Jack ignored them. "But we're not through yet. First and foremost, this is supposed to be the 'base' event, where we pit base versus base instead of individual against individual. Reason one to kick butt. Second, I'm convinced that our little ditty will tell these people what we really think of this thing loud and clear. Reason number two to kick butt. Now, no one let it slip what song we're going to do, right?"

Janet and Ferretti shot each other impish looks. "Uh, no, Colonel," Fraiser replied, fighting off a wicked grin. "The SGC grapevine never got a hold of that one, although there are a lot of guesses."

"And when the two people in charge of that grapevine tell you so, you know it's true," Sergeant Walter Harriman added with a grin.

Jack nodded his concession of the point. "That being said, I want you all to go out there and show them what we're made of. Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind while we do this..." He paused dramatically, letting his gaze travel over each of the people standing in front of him. "Have fun out there, people. This is all worthless if you don't have fun." The silverhaired colonel took a quick glance to his right and tensed up. "Okay, Hammond's coming," he announced in a rush. "Meeting's over. Let's win this thing, kids." He made shooing motions with his hands as he turned to intercept his commanding officer.

"Worthless if we don't have fun, huh?" Daniel said to Sam as the two of them headed off for the parade grounds and their reserved seats.

"Well, of course, 'Michael'," she shot back, grinning, threading her arm through his. "Don't you think so?"

He sighed as he fought back a smile. "I suppose so, 'Stephanie'. I even think I'll have some. I'm just nervous about the reaction we're going to get."

Sam laughed. "Don't be. This is for boosting our morale, remember? Fun is what it's all about." They moved on to their seats, the archaeologist's steps lighter as neither of them realized they hadn't released the other and continued to stay close to one another.

"Come on, 'Johnny'," Janet said, lips twitching, as she came up to Jack and started pulling lightly on his arm. "We need to get to our seats. Everything's about to start. Sorry, sir," she apologized to General Hammond, who watched the interplay with a mix of surprise and amusement.

Jack glanced at his watch and his eyes widened. "Crap, you're right. It's almost nine, sir. You should grab a seat yourself."

"Murray should be saving one for me," Hammond replied, pale blue eyes twinkling. "And he'll have breakfast, at least if the past two days are any indication."

O'Neill couldn't help but grin at the memory. "Save me some salt water taffy, would you, sir? It seems the big guy's developed quite a taste for it."

"Of course."

Janet gave the SGC's 2IC another tug. "Come on."

"Yes, 'Paulette'," he acquiesced with a playful roll of his eyes. Hammond just watched the pair hurry off, shaking his head, then turned and left himself. Hopefully Teal'c would have a raspberry-jelly-filled donut left.

* * * * * * * * 

The various offerings the different bases put up as the morning went along had the audience practically in tears, and not always because that's what was intended. Some of them were quite crass while others were simplistic and barely enough for a group of ten to perform. There were a handful of entries that were almost professional caliber, and it was those that had the mountain personnel nervous.

"Do you think they'll do okay?" Cassie asked the general, Teal'c, and Nyan after Lou disappeared backstage with seven other project people at a signal from Jack.

"They should do fine," Hammond assured the girl. "They looked extremely determined in the parking lot earlier before they realized I was there."

Teal'c nodded his agreement. "O'Neill has been quite vocal about his pleasure with the level of performance the team has produced."

Nyan was struggling not to laugh. "Oh, they'll be great. You'll see."

The young woman to his left gave him a suspicious look. "You know what they're doing, don't you? You know!"

"I accidentally stumbled across one of their practices in a conveniently emptied storage room on one of the lower levels when I was looking for Daniel one night. They didn't know I was there. And since they talked about not wanting anyone to know what they were doing, I didn't say anything. But you're going to enjoy it!"

"Oh, I could smack you!" Cassie said in a huff, flopping back in her seat.

It finally came to the end of the program, and the last entry of the day was the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Eyebrows rose when they saw the stagehands setting up eight tables the likes of which you would find in a science class in two columns of four, evenly spaced with an obvious aisle down the middle and a pair of chairs behind each one - three behind the one in front to the audience's right. Textbooks and notebooks were placed on the tables, along with pencils and other supplies, everything combining to reenforce the impression of a classroom. A small cardboard box was placed under the second table on the audience's left. Then the participants filed out.

Everyone started to take their seats, all of them dressed in styles reminiscent of high school in the early sixties. David Michaels, in a brown-mottled sweater vest over a white dress shirt and pair of dark brown corduroy pants, sat at the first table stage right with Major Gilbert Riley, the leader of SG-7. The auburn-haired man had on a red sweater with white horizontal stripes crossing his chest, dark blue jeans finishing off the look.

At the table behind them sat Daniel in a blue V-neck sweater over the almost obligatory white dress shirt, the knot of a black tie peeking out, and Robert Erickson in a purple and black checkered, button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and dark blue jeans. The archaeologist double checked the box near his feet, shooting it a suspicious look as he sat up. Erickson didn't seem to notice.

Lou Ferretti and Jack O'Neill were next in line, SG-2's commander in a white patterned button-up shirt over a white tank top and jeans and SG-1's leader in a black sleeveless T-shirt and tight black denim jeans. The two of them were whispering something to each other that caused them both to smirk and snicker. Yeah, just like high school.

The last table in that column was taken up by Walter Davis and Dan Siler. The shorter, white-haired man was dressed in a green and brown colored argyle sweater with a white buttonup shirt underneath, while the Master Sergeant had a brown and black button-up shirt over a white T-shirt and a paid of black slacks. They were apparently listening to the conversation going on ahead of them, sharing amused looks and fighting the urge to laugh.

On the other side of the aisle, Erica Witherspoon had on a tight red sweater and a red and black plaid skirt, her hair in two pig tails on either side of her head. Joining her at the front table were a pair of twins that worked at the mountain, Captain Faith Mitchell, a control room technician, and her sister Lieutenant Hope Mitchell, one of Janet's nurses. They were dressed identically in white sweaters with the rounded collars of the red blouses they wore underneath poking out over the necklines and red pleated skirts evocative of the styles cheerleaders tended to wear. The three women were chattering amongst themselves in an undertone and smiling.

Behind them sat Sergeant Sharon Thompson from maintenance in a white blouse with a light pink floral pattern on top of a pink A-line skirt that hung to her knees. Next to her was Jamie Evans, who was again shocking her teammates with a tight, provocative yellow sweater with a low scoop neckline that showed some definite cleavage and hugging white, yellow, and pale green plaid skirt. The two ladies had joined in the conversation going on in front of them.

Katherine Southhall smoothed out the skirt of her simple, pale blue, short-sleeved dress, belted at the waist and buttoning up from the belt to the shirt-like collar that was open to reveal the creamy white skin of her throat. She nudged the woman next to her and pointed out Ferretti and O'Neill's antics at the table across the aisle from them. Captain Lorraine DeMarco laughed and tightened the ponytail that held back her light brown hair before straightening the plain white blouse she had tucked into the brown A-line skirt that went just past her knees. The nervous fidgeting revealed her anxiety.

The last two ladies sitting at the last stage left table were Janet and Sam. The smaller of the two wore a tight emerald green short-sleeved sweater that showed off her chest with a straight black skirt while her blonde companion was a little more sloppily dressed in a worn, baggy, pale blue sweatshirt over a straight beige skirt that hung to her knees. They were most likely sharing sarcastic comments about the pair of team leaders that seemed to have most people's attention if their frequent looks over to that table and wicked smirks were any clue.

Graham Simmons finally made his appearance - and the "class" settled down - just after General Krenz announced the group, conveniently leaving out the name of the song with a massive struggle not to start laughing. Hammond in particular guessed that meant his people were up to no good, but it wasn't like he could do anything about it now. The young man who used to have a major crush on Sam Carter was dressed in a white sweater vest with a green and black diamond pattern over a white dress shirt and black tie. He had on a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and carried a thick textbook of some sort under his left arm. Apparently he'd been nominated to portray the teacher in this scenario, the poor man.

And then the music started.

Graham, as the teacher, started things off as he stood in the back of the class while the others shot him looks over their shoulders of various levels of interest. "The parts of a flower are so constructed that very, very often the wind will cause pollination - if not..." he lip synced, then stepped between the back two desks and leaned to his right to focus on Davis and Siler. "Then a bee or any other nectar-gathering creature can create the same situation." He shifted over to Janet and Sam on the word nectar, then moved on once the line was completed.

"Yes, anything that gets the pollen to the pistil's right on the list." He focused on Jack and Lou, who both smirked at him, on the word pollen, then Katherine and Lorraine, who did the same, on pistil, finishing the line standing straight and looking forward, his right hand up with his index finger extended.

Graham took a step forward and "spoke" directly to Robert, the other man glaring back and Daniel looking amused. "I'll try to make it crystal clear." Then to the other side and directly to Sharon, both ladies giving him a bored look. "A flower's insatiable passion turns its life into a circus of debauchery." All of the "students" jumped at these words while Graham just looked extremely passionate about his subject, then shared a bunch of wicked looks behind his back.

Simmons moved on to the last pair of men. "Now you see just how the stamen gets its lusty dust onto the stigma." Behind him in the back, Davis and Siler stood and began doing pelvic thrusts to the beat while the girls snickered. Graham faced the last table of women. "And why this frenzied chlorophyll's orgy starts in spring is no enigma." The next two tables of guys joined the already moving pair in the back.

The teacher took a step past the tables and faced the front, again in a lecturing pose while the thrusting stopped. "We call this quest for satisfaction a what, class?"

The twins grinned and raised their hands. "A photoperiodic reaction!"

Graham turned slightly toward them in surprise. "Oh, that's good! Oh, that's very good!" Faith and Hope shared a smug, fawning look.

David stood up looking confused, his textbook open. "Hey, I'm lost, where are we?"

Jamie stood up to respond. "Chapter two!"

Gilbert pointed at his partner's book. "Page five!"

Now everyone jumped up while Graham retreated to the back of the room, flustered. "Reproduction," the guys chanted at the girls.

"Reproduction," the girls called back.

Erica jumped up onto her chair. "Put your pollen tube to work!" she sang as she twisted her arms together like a vertical snake.

"Reproduction," the guys sang again, followed again by, "Reproduction," from the girls, everyone with wide grins.

"Make my stamen go berserk!" Sam pronounced, her arms in the air as she shook her chest provocatively then sat on top of her table.

The guys called out one last, "Reproduction."

Katherine stepped into the aisle and faced off against the men with a belligerent pose. "I don't think they even know what a pistil is!"

Robert got up close. "I got your pistil right here," he sang, gesturing at his crotch with a snap of both his hands.

Siler, standing on his chair, got in the last words before the next verse. "Where does the pollen go?"

Graham used the interlude to glare everyone back into their seats then opened his book to a random page and walked slowly forward. "Next chapter. In an abstract way, the same thing applies to the reproductive organs of the more complex lifeforms. But now we're dealing with sexual response. Are there any questions before we begin reading?"

Daniel smirked and moved from his chair to the tabletop as Simmons stopped moving just in front of his position. "Is it possible the female member of some sex on a couch could, like, get this guy all hot and she never even knew it?" He nudged Robert conspiratorially.

The platinum blond took his cue and joined the archaeologist. "When the warm-blooded mammal in a tight little sweater starts pullin' that stuff, she sayin' that she wants to do it?"

Jack and Lou shared a wink with Daniel as David sprang to his feet and Graham jumped back behind the last set of tables in shock. "Can't prove it by me! Cause they change their tune when you got 'em in the back seat."

Lou slid out into the aisle on his knees, his hands clasped together over his chest. "With his heart beating fast..."

The twins spun around from staring at the scene looking disgusted. "And make it sound like a track meet! Gross!"

All the guys moved closer together, sharing significant looks, Daniel moving back by Jack as Lou got back to his feet and David and Gilbert took the brown-haired man's spot behind the second table. "Yeah, and they can do is say no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!" They waggled their fingers at the girls, who all rolled their eyes and closed ranks.

"Reproduction," they sang, voices deep to mimic their adversaries.

"Reproduction," the guys retorted in falsetto.

"Baby, give it to me now," the girls continued, doing pelvic thrusts with the beat.

"Reproduction," the guys sang, voices back to normal.

"Reproduction," the girls repeated.

"Is that all you think about?" the guys sang in question, limp-wristedly covering themselves modestly, expressions filled with mock offense.

"Reproduction," both groups sang, the men going back to normal.

"Come on, baby, show me that you really love me so!" The girls struck mocking poses, some of them doing more pelvic thrusts.

Gilbert bent over and looked sick to his stomach. "Oh, I think I'm going to throw up!" He dashed off to the back of the stage.

Siler shrugged. "Where does the pollen go?"

This time Graham didn't even try to settle anyone down, couples pairing off in front of him and snuggling up. Jack and Janet shot each other playful looks, while Daniel and Sam shared ones that promised better things to come later. David sat on the table in front of Sharon and the pair threw suggestive leers at each other. Robert pulled Katherine into a close embrace, both of them snickering, and Lou gave Lorraine puppy-dog eyes which she merely grinned wickedly at. Simmons started the third verse, not bothering to go anywhere. "The human is the only being capable of consciously controlling its number of offspring. Are there any comments on this?" he tried to continue the lesson as Gilbert slunk back to his seat.

Janet sidled up next to him, looking up at him seductively through her eyelashes. "Mister Stuart, is it true that guys like you, you know mature and all, carry some protection with them... for sexual occasions?"

She stepped back with a laugh as Graham turned his attention to Jack, who had stood up on his chair, talking with his hands and sharing commiserative looks with the other men as he sang. "What's the big deal? Can a girl just do that thing in a book, where she adds up the dates of her, uh, what do ya call it, mentalstration?"

"Oh, that's really neat!" Katherine called out, pushing Robert away slightly as she glared at Jack.

Sam shot him one as well, tearing her gaze away from Daniel - who had started to edge closer to the aisle - and putting her hands on her hips. "Yeah, and what'll the guy say if the numbers don't add up right, huh?"

All the girls took up her pose and faced off against the guys. "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

The couples got back together as the guys started the chorus once again. "Reproduction."

"Reproduction," the girls echoed.

Jamie leaned back against Gilbert as she laid her hands gently over her stomach. "Hope he's proud of what he's done!"

"Reproduction." The guys tipped the girls back

"Reproduction." And the girls returned the favor.

Robert lifted Katherine up so the woman could wrap her legs around his waist. "He was only pokin' fun!" he sang as he dipped her, her short blonde hair nearly brushing the floor before he brought her back up.

"Reproduction," all of them sang together.

Daniel had moved back to where he had been sitting originally, reached into the box that had been resting there, and pulled out a live rabbit that hung frozen with fear from his outstretched arm. "See what happens when a boy and girl don't know how to play it safe?" he sang with a smirk on his face after he quickly suppressed a look of shock. He thrust the animal at Ferretti, who was doing everything he could not to burst out laughing.

The group of them went a little crazy as they sang back and forth, the guys then the girls, a couple guys chasing a few girls while a few couples cuddled up with wide grins. Graham stood in the back looking thoroughly flustered.








The last repeat they all sang together, scrambling around to get back to their original positions.

"Where does the pollen go?"

Every "student" sat down in unison the beat after Siler finished his closing line looking innocent and ready to learn as Graham dropped the book he'd been holding and dropped his face into his hands. They froze that way until the roar of applause from the audience washed over the parade grounds, then broke out into wide grins and laughter.

"Well, if that doesn't tell them what your people thought about this whole thing, nothing will," Kerrigan leaned across the aisle and told Hammond as the group on stage quickly cleared it of the tables and chairs.

"That's what I'm afraid of," George replied with a sigh. He was torn between wanting to kill his people, one full-bird colonel in particular, and laughing until his sides ached. He settled for grinning and shaking his head.

"Oh, I absolutely loved that movie!" Cassie gushed after General Krenz, struggling to keep a straight face, announced a half-hour break to tally up the judges' results and prepare for the big announcements. "Mom made a cool Paulette!"

Hammond gave her an indulgent smile. "That explains why Colonel O'Neill called her that out in the parking lot."

Teal'c nodded, a smile lightening his features. "This routine also explains a cryptic remark O'Neill uttered under his breath when we watched the movie the song appeared in at Major Carter's house recently. He apparently decided then that this song would suit his purposes."

Ferretti and the other SGC personnel that weren't part of the rest of the competition made their appearance at that point. SG-2's leader flopped onto his seat breathless from laughing. "I almost had him," he gasped out.

"Almost had who?" Nyan asked, his own smile splitting his face. He'd been on Earth long enough not to be shocked by the whole affair.

"Daniel. Did you see his face when he pulled that rabbit out of the box? He was expecting a plush animal!" Lou chuckled, barely keeping it from turning into another bout of full-blown laughter.

"And where did you get that rabbit?" Hammond asked, a mock scowl on his face.

Ferretti saw right through the facade. "The little girl that lives next door loaned it to me. I'm supposed to get it back in time for a tea party tomorrow afternoon. Fluffy's the guest of honor."

"I see." The general dropped the mask and let his smile shine out. His granddaughters were friends with Ferretti's neighbor, so he knew all about the girl's tea parties.

"So do you think we did well enough to get the Marines from Yuma?" Walter Davis asked from his seat next to Nyan. He'd appropriated it when he came out from backstage.

"You bet to hell," was the almost vicious response. Lou grinned wickedly. "All they did was some stupid march song. We had fun."

Siler leaned in from Walter's right side. "You do realize they're going to make us suffer for this. There's a lot riding on it."

Ferretti scoffed. "Let 'em try. We won fair and square."

"On the contrary, Colonel Ferretti," Teal'c contradicted him. "We have not won anything as of yet. The results have not been announced."

"Technicality. We're gonna sweep."

Not long after, General Krenz reappeared on stage and took his place at the podium. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said once he had cleared his throat and the crowd had gone quiet. "It is now my pleasure to announce what you've all been waiting for: the Bachelor and Bachelorette of the Year!" The audience applauded. "Not to mention the winner of our lively lip sync competition." The audience applauded again even more enthusiastically. "Let's present the ladies first." The thirty women who had participated in the talent competition filed onto the stage from the back, all dressed in dressy casual style.

"In fifth place, from Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Major Janet Fraiser!" The first few rows of the center stage left wedge exploded into cheers, echoed nearly as fervently by the four SGC women on stage and the male SGC competitors still backstage. Jack even let out one of his team-calling whistles as Janet made her way forward to accept a pair of yellow roses tied together with navy blue ribbon.

"In fourth place," the lieutenant general continued once the noise finally died down, "from Arizona's Fort Huachuca, Lieutenant Carla Gallun!" The audience went wild, especially the section in the center stage right wedge just behind the group from the Air Force Academy, as the five-foot-six woman with chin-length, light brown hair and grey eyes accepted a pair of pink roses tied together with forest green ribbon.

"In third place, from right here at Peterson Air Force Base, Doctor Nicole Thalacker!" The entire back of the crowd whooped with delight as the petite, five-foot-two lady with short brown hair and light green eyes grasped her pair of white roses tied with navy ribbon. It seemed General Jones had ordered his people to allow their visitors the best seats.

"In second place, once again from Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Major Samantha Carter!" Again the SGC tested the integrity of people's ear drums as Sam took her pair of white roses tied with navy blue ribbon, the petals' edges stained a deep red, this time with Teal'c rising to his feet as he applauded and letting loose an odd, deep sound that echoed around the parade grounds, and Daniel and Jack both whistling sharply as they stomped their feet. SG-1 was more than happy to commemorate the success of one of their own.

"And in first place, our Bachelorette of the Year, from Utah's Hill Air Force Base, Sergeant Stephanie Barnett!" A section of the far stage left wedge went absolutely crazy as the tall woman with pale, shoulder-length blonde hair and pale blue eyes cradled her half-dozen red roses with their dangling navy blue ribbon, the Hill Air Force Base group jumping to their feet and hopping around wildly in their excitement.

"Yes!" Lou shouted, jumping to his feet as the women returned backstage. "Both of them! Both! Eat this, Yuma!" He laughed maniacally for a moment before Teal'c cut him off, yanking him back into his seat. The evil grin never quit, however.

"Now let's bring our bachelors back onto the stage!" The thirty men that made the final cut the day before filed out and lined up to await the announcement of the top five as their female counterparts returned to the set-aside wedge.

"In fifth place, from Arizona's MCAS Yuma, Staff Sergeant Christopher Elvers!" A loud "hoo-ya!" came from the section Ferretti had been seen coming and going from many times over the weekend as a tall, broad Marine with short brown hair peppered with grey and dancing green-grey eyes stepped forward and let the general drape a wide black ribbon bearing a pewter medal - similar to the Olympic Games medals - around his neck. The lieutenant colonel from the SGC scowled darkly at the pronouncement.

"In fourth place, from Utah's Hill Air Force Base, Major Joseph Lord!" Another tall, broad man with short brown hair, this one with no grey strands and blue-green eyes, accepted his navy blue ribbon and copper medallion. A section further back behind the SGC went wild.

"In third place, from Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Colonel Jonathan O'Neill!" A look of shock flashed across Jack's face as Daniel and Graham pushed him forward before he schooled his expression into one of smug gratitude and took his navy blue ribbon and bronze medal. Teal'c again made the deep keening sound he had for Sam earlier, and Sam herself did her commander proud with a precise imitation of the whistles he'd been blowing out over the weekend. Daniel echoed her.

"In second place, from New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range, Second Lieutenant William Schwartz!" A man a few inches shorter than Jack with golden blond hair and hazel eyes came forward for his forest green ribbon and silver medal while the group in front of the far stage left wedge raised quite the ruckus.

"And in first place, our Bachelor of the Year, from Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Complex - they have made a good showing this weekend, haven't they? - Doctor Daniel Jackson!" There was another explosion from the SGC crowd as they jumped to their feet - and half of them onto their chairs - and Daniel blushed and stepped forward to be awarded with his navy blue ribbon with its gold medallion. Jack and Sam whistled - the blonde physicist's sounding suspiciously like a wolf's whistle - and Teal'c gave another round of his deep, keening tone. The nurses, all in unison, shouted "Yes!", and the culture and linguistics department started chanting Daniel's name. Ferretti looked over to the formerly gloating Marines from Yuma and gave them a jaunty salute and a wide, smug, superior smirk.

Krenz dismissed the men from the stage and the thirty of them joined the rest of the contestants in their designated seating. "And now, last but not least, the winners of our team-focused event, the lip sync contest!" There was more cheering. "In fifth place, based right here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the group from the US Air Force Academy!" The group of fifteen military students surged on stage and were presented with a small, six-inch trophy.

"In fourth place," the general continued once the fervor died down and the young men and women had cleared the stage, "from the beautiful state of Arizona, the group from the DavisMonthan Air Force Base!" Seventeen people from Davis-Monthan came up to accept their foothigh trophy to the loud cheers of their fellows.

"In third place, from our friends in the glorious state of New Mexico, the group from the White Sands Missile Range!" Eleven personnel from the Army base took possession of the eighteen-inch high trophy, the first few rows of the far stage left wedge getting quite the workout with their celebration.

"In second place, from the home of Salt Lake City, the group from Utah's Hill Air Force Base!" One more time, that group jumped to their feet as their sixteen people took their two-foot prize, holding it up high to let it sparkle in the sun.

General Krenz looked at the next name and chuckled, shaking his head in mild disbelief. "And in first place, with probably the most humorous of our eighteen entries, from here in the majestic state of Colorado, the eloquent team from the Cheyenne Mountain Complex!" Again, the crowd from the SGC leapt to its feet, the roar growing as the two halves of the team met on stage to take hold of the biggest trophy of all at two and a half feet tall. Jack and Lou hoisted it into the air, swiveling around to make sure everyone got a good look, then, with a quick shared look of mischief, hurried down the runway to present it to their mystified and amused commander. With Teal'c's help, Hammond maneuvered it onto his chair and returned the salutes of his two irreverent officers.

"Let's have a big hand for all of our winners!" General Krenz started another round of applause, the four remaining trophies being waved in the air behind him. "We'll take an hour break for dinner, then our lip sync victors will repeat their award-winning entries," the balding man announced before leaving the stage and his subordinates to their own devices.

"So, what did you think, sir?" Jack asked Hammond as he hopped off the catwalk in front of the older man and the other people from the mountain began to exit the stage.

"I've said it before, and it still holds true: you walk a fine line, Colonel." The bald Texan shook his head as he smiled and chuckled.

"Thank you."

Daniel calmly walked down the steps at the end of the runway, closely followed by Sam and Janet who were both immediately engulfed in a huge hug from Cassie. "Hey, Teal'c, what was that sound you made when Jack's, Sam's, and my name were announced?" the anthropologist queried curiously.

"That was the cry of celebration put forth by a Jaffa for members of his wing who are honored with recognition during the annual Glory of Deeds Festival on Chulak. It seemed most appropriate." He gave Daniel a small smile. "And I believe congratulations are in order to you for achieving your goal. You did indeed take first place."

Daniel laughed. "Yeah, I did, didn't I? I wasn't really expecting to, though."

The ladies of the SGC shared an amused, knowing look. They knew better.

"So what do we all get for winning this thing?" Jack asked. "Does anyone know?"

"I believe General Krenz was going to announce the particulars after your performances this evening," Hammond replied, himself curious as to the answer to that question.

He was correct. Once the SGC team had once again cleared the stage of their school-like set, Lieutenant General William Krenz again stepped up to the podium and requested all of the weekend's winners to take the stage. "I'm sure you're all wondering what the winners will be taking home aside from the flowers, medals, and trophies that have already been handed out. Each base with a winning entry will be receiving an engraved plaque to be displayed as part of our efforts to improve our over-all morale. Having seen a sample, I can assure you they have been quite tastefully done, and you should be proud to be able to exhibit them." Krenz paused to take a look over the crowd. "As I'm sure you can see," he continued with a sly smile, "the president was unable to join us here to take part in our festivities, but he was very interested to hear about the results of this morale-boosting event. In light of our success, as well as the successes of the other regions across the country, our Commander in Chief will be taking a tour of the winning bases as his time allows. For each base's representative in the top five of both the bachelor and bachelorette divisions of the contest, we'll be asking that you perform a lip sync number, in remembrance of the team event that rounded out our competition. The lip sync winners, of course, only have to worry about that routine." The crowd had gone quiet with shock. "That concludes the first annual Four Corners Region Bachelor/Bachelorette Competition. See you next year!" He saluted the still-reeling audience and departed, his aide following behind.

Jack, Daniel, Sam, and Janet all shared a horrified look. "Four," the silver-haired colonel sputtered. "We have to do four different songs."

"Actually, we have to do five, Jack," Daniel corrected him, swallowing nervously. "We're going to have to do 'Reproduction' again."


"Well, sir, at least we don't have to do our individual talent routines again," Sam offered half-heartedly, a weak smile on her face.

"And we won't have nearly as large an audience," Janet added.

Jack scowled at all of them. "You guys don't get it, do you?" All he got was blank looks in return. "Considering how much trouble we went through to pick one song to perform, do you have any idea the hell we're going to go through for five?"

The resulting groans were drowned out by the laughter from the rest of the Cheyenne Mountain personnel before they dragged off their reluctant heroes for a real celebration, SGC style, before getting back to their secret war against the Goa'uld the next day. The president's visit could be worried about later; for now, a family had to honor its own in its own special way - and it turned into something that no one would ever forget.

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