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The Challenge

The Challenge

Authors Note:  This is a response to the samandjack Christmas Challenge.  Parameters are: 

  • start with the dialogue, `What do you mean that`s not allowed?`;
  • contain NO MENTION of `regulations`;
  • contain LOTS of tinsel;
  • have Jonas as a member of SG1 (though Daniel can certainly make an appearance);  and
  • have a Sam/Jack kiss.


 `What do you mean that`s not allowed?`  Hammond snarled at the shop assistant cowering before him.  He stood there, body quivering in rage.  He`d been in the mall for over three hours now, hunting down items on the list his daughter had given him.  Kayla`s dinosaur-piano.  Check.  Thank you gift for Cassandra for babysitting on Saturday.  Check.  He made a mental note to get a small bunch of flowers to thank Doctor Fraiser for the suggestion of a gift voucher from Cassandra`s favourite clothes store.  Of course, finding that store had taken a good twenty minutes of searching.  Hammond continued down his mental list of chores.  Declan`s monster-truck add-on`s.  Check.  Blue and yellow decorations for 12 foot Christmas tree. Check.  Hammond frowned down at the bag in front of him.  A 12 foot tree required a hell of a lot of ornaments.  The assistant before him swallowed then answered his question.

          `This machine isn`t accepting bankcards, sir.`  She said in a slightly wavering voice.

          `Why not?  It`s an ATM, isn`t it?`  Hammond growled back, at the end of his patience.

          `Yes, sir.  But the store has implemented a policy not to accept any card that can`t be validated by signatures because of the ATM thefts lately.  We will accept credit cards, sir.`  She offered to placate him.  Hammond grunted, staring at the assistant through flinty eyes.  He opened his wallet again, reaching in to pluck out his Amex.  He handed it over and stood there while she went about her business, his foot tapping impatiently.  The girl swiped the card and then put a piece of paper in the printer-thing and waited for the paper to be spat out the top.  She put it down on the counter and gave Hammond a pen, offering a bright, false smile as she did so.  Hammond took the pen and scrawled his familiar signature.  The assistant looked from the card to the signature and back again, then looked up at the man in front of her.

          `Thank you, sir.`  She said, and handed him back his card.  Hammond grunted in reply and picked up his bag of goods and receipt and headed out of the store.  As he was walking towards the centre of the mall he pulled out his shopping list that his daughter had compiled for him and ticked off the line saying `Yuletide Hosery Go to Margie`s Lingerie.  Hosery on back wall, opposite entry way.`  Hammond sent a prayer up in thanks that his daughter knew him well enough to give him such a specific list.


He was distracted briefly by a `walkway sale` of Christmas decorations, thinking that perhaps he could find some more yellow and blue bulbs for the tree.  About twenty meters away, there was a promotion of some sort going on at the centre stage.

          `CS130.5 broadcasting live from Springtown Mall!`  An announcer boomed out, making Hammond wince in pain.  The guy was loud and obnoxious.  `We only have two couples left after six hours!  How`s that for dedication, folks?`  The crowd around the stage roared their approval and Hammond glared at the back of them, briefly entertaining the thought of shooting them with a zat gun. Just once, of course.  He picked up a small globe in light powder blue, covered in some kind of swirly glittery pattern and tried to ignore the announcer as he waxed lyrical on the current competition.  `Now remember the rules, people. This is a KISSING competition.   Lips have to be touching at all times!  They`ve got another twenty five minutes to go before their two minute lip-gloss break.  And of course, they`ll be using the new and improved Blistex!  Without it, we`d have a pretty ugly scene right now.  Go on, give `em some encouragement, people!  They`ve been at this for six hours and thirty minutes!`  Again, the crowd cheered and clapped.  Hammond scowled as he put down the light blue globe and walked to the next bin, idly picking up and replacing decorations.

          `So, in their application forms, couple number one said that they both worked at the local Air Force Base on Cheyenne Mountain.  Just imagine it, girls, surrounded by all those men in uniform!`  A couple of young teenagers squealed in giggling response.  Hammond mentally replaced the zat gun for a staff weapon and smiled briefly in response to the thought.  `Couple number two come from just down the road, in Vera.  They`re actually up here on a business trip, would you believe.  Both of them work for Speakers Ltd.`  The announcer droned on and Hammond was finally able to suppress the voice.  He picked up his selections and walked to the counter and stood behind the current customer.

          `Oh!  Couple number two have finally given in!  Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Couple Number one!`  The crowd went wild.  Hammond stepped forward and dropped his selections onto the counter, wincing and shaking his head.  The assistant behind the register smiled painfully and began to ring up his purchases.

          `So, Couple number one.  What`s your names?`

          `I`m Jack.  This is Samantha.`  Hammond froze as he heard a VERY familiar voice echo across the loudspeaker.  He turned and tripped, feet gone numb with shock.  He knocked over a sale bin and stumbled in the mess, ending up head first in a large pile of red tinsel.  He stood up, slipping slightly on the scattered red tinsel, and continued to stare at his two officers.  For that is definitely who it was.  Colonel Jack O`Neill and Major Samantha Carter.  On the centre stage.  Grinning and waving at the yelling crowd.  Lips red and a little sore looking.

          `C`mon, one more kiss, just to top it off.`  The announcer encouraged.  Jack and Sam looked at each other a little reluctantly.  `Come on!`  The announcer continued.  The crowd took up the chant, yelling in time `Kiss.  Kiss.  Kiss.`  Hammond worked his way forward, his face thunderous, ignoring the appeal of the shop assistant to take his selections with him.  Finally Jack and Sam gave in and kissed.  It looked a little painful, if the wince they both gave meant anything.  But neither seemed to be holding back.  Hammond was now at the base of the stage, staring up at his two officers.  The finally broke apart, grinning idiotically.

          `Congratulations, Jack and Sam!  You`ve-.`

          `Colonel O`Neill!  Major Carter!`  Hammond barked out.  He had the pleasure of seeing both his officers freeze in terror and then look around wildly, searching for the owner of the voice.  Carter found him first, and Hammond watched as her face went from a flushed pink to ghost white in a matter of seconds.  She tugged on Jack`s sleeve and motioned with her head. Jack turned and went just as white, mouth gaping open.  `Come with me.`  He ordered them.  They both nodded and jumped off the stage nimbly, ending up in the space he`d just vacated. He walked blindly through the crowd suddenly gone silent.

          `Oooh, looks like Dad`s just found out!`  The announcer said, trying to get the mood back.  A few people laughed, but by now most had moved off to continue their Christmas shopping.  Hammond ignored the few that continued to stare and stalked away.

A young pimple-faced man put a hand on his sleeve and blurted `You`re not allowed in there.`  Hammond glared at the boy and the hand was removed.  He finally ended up in a secluded area away from the crowd.  It was slightly less well lit, which suited his plans fine.  He turned around to see Carter and O`Neill following at a slower pace, both of them looking distinctly ill.  They finally stopped a few paces away and looked down at their toes, not making eye contact with each other or Hammond.

          `What the hell do you two think you`re doing?`  Hammond cried.

          `Winning a competition, sir?`  Jack offered after a brief silence.

          `A COMPETITION?`  Hammond bellowed, completely incensed.

          `Yes sir.  Jonas..  Well, he wanted a trip to Maui.  He read the report on Urgo.  And he wanted to go to Maui to see the girls in bikini`s.  Well-.`  Carter looked beseechingly at O`Neill, who took up the story.

          `We knew there was this competition being held here today.  And the prize was for a trip for two to Maui.  So We entered.`

          `And it just had to be you two that entered?`  Hammond waved his hands madly, face flushing with anger.

          `Well, Janet offered, but she`s so short.  My back wouldn`t have withstood six hours of leaning over.`  Jack said, waving his hand at mid-chest height.

          `And Teal`c. well, he wouldn`t have understood the concept.  It would have involved lots of explaining.`  Carter continued.  `And it was supposed to be a surprise for Jonas.`

          `So we.`  Jack stopped, recognising dangerous territory.  He glanced at his CO and winced.  Never had he seen Hammond in such a rage.

          `So you decided to do it yourselves?`  Hammond yelled, waving his had around again.  This time, he hit something with his flailing arm.  Hard.  It felt very therapeutic.  He did it again.  There was a rustle from above, and Hammond looked up to see they were actually below one of the mall`s Christmas decorations. In fact, they were below the main Christmas Tree, that stood over thirty feet tall.  The rustle grew in sound and momentum and Hammond turned to stare at his officers.

          `Oh sh-.`  He started to say, when the world went dark.  Hammond ducked and protected his head as a ton or so it seemed of decorations, mostly tinsel, fell on the three of them.  Red, Green, Silver.  A touch of blue here and there.  By the time the tree had finished offering up it`s decorations they were buried almost hip deep in a motley assortment of tinsel and large stars and spheres.  Jack and Sam, standing a half a foot taller than Hammond, looked at each other, then their buried CO and clapped hands over their mouths, suppressing laughter.  Hammond glared at them and made his way slowly out of the mess.  He brushed his hands down his arms and shirt front, divesting himself of clinging silver and red tinsel, glaring as he did so.  Jack and Sam high stepped it out, doing the same to their clothes.

          `Sir?`  He heard Carter call to him.  He turned around to see them both, hangdog expressions crossing their faces.

          `We`re sorry, sir.  It was for Jonas.`  Hammond nodded while his brain was rapidly processing punishments.

          `This will never be spoken of again.` He told them, waving a hand at the pile of tinsel behind them. Carter and O`Neill nodded their understanding.  `Underneath that mess is several bags of shopping.  You will wait here to retrieve them.`  Again, the two officers nodded their heads.  Hammond thought of the list of purchases in his pocket.  He retrieved it and gave it to Jack.  `You will also purchase the remaining items on this list and bring them to my house by the end of the day. Understand?`

          `Yes sir.`  Jack said for them, starting the breathe a little easier.  Hammond smiled.  Jack hadn`t even glanced at the list.  He`d soon find out just how hard it was going to get.  His daughter`s list was almost the length of the page.

          `And finally.  The trip to Maui is for two, correct?`  Sam nodded, licking her lips unconsciously.  `Good.  Jonas gets one ticket.  I get the other.`  Both officers opened their mouths to object.  Hammond watched as they considered their options, then smiled evilly as they both snapped their mouths shut and nodded a final time.  Hammond nodded back and turned towards the beckoning exit.

          `Ah, sir?`  Jack called to him.  Hammond turned back to scowl, but Jack was reaching forward, towards his ear.  Jack pulled back, a piece of blue tinsel in his hand.  `It looked very pretty sir, but I don`t think you`re allowed to take it home.`  Hammond gave a twisted smile in reply and turned for the exit again.  Had the green around the word `exit` gotten brighter, or was it just his imagination?  He took a few steps forward, mind already on his destination.  Home.

          `Ah, sir?  What about money for these?`  Carter shouted to him, taking the list from Jack.

          `That`s your problem, Major!`  He replied, and waved as he walked away.  He had an appointment with a chair and a nice warm Irish Coffee.  His feet were killing him.




Stargate SG-1 Fanfiction