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A Vacation of Sorts
They decided to spend the first night establishing their cover story and getting acquainted with the lay of the land. Acting like tourists they changed into beachwear and while they strolled down the main drag, Annika was able to point out three of the five abduction points. They made their way to the beach, trying to blend in. The men headed straight for the water while Annika and Sam stretched out on the packed beach to soak up some of the late afternoon sun. They were discussing dinner arrangements when Annika heard a distinctive whistle.
She stopped in mid sentence waiting to hear it again. Only one person she knew whistled like that…
"Annika?" Sam frowned in concern. "What’s wrong?"
Annika wasn’t listening to her friend. Over the noise of tourist chatter and pounding surf she heard a deep bellow.
"Cooooweeee! Hey, Blue!"
She sprang to her feet and raced in the direction of the voice, leaving a stunned Sam staring after her. Searching between the throng of bodies Annika caught a glimpse of a man in faded board shorts with hair that rivaled Einstein. It was him! She sneakily circled behind him then in a final sprint football tackled him, sending them both sprawling into the sand.
"You’re getting old, Scarecrow!" she laughed as his arms wrapped around her.
"Blue, since when have you learnt the art of stealth?" the man chuckled. "It’s good to see you. You should have let us know you were coming."
"It was a kind of a spur of the moment thing." She tugged on a tuft of spiky hair that had earned him his nickname. "Still haven’t had a haircut I see."
"If I did that, Clarisse would have nothing to nag me about."
"You two are still together?"
"Worse than that," he sighed dramatically. "She’s finally going to make a honest man out of me. We’re getting married tomorrow."
"Congratulations and commiserations," Annika joked, giving her old boss and friend a hug.
"Thanks, Blue." His arms loosened when he saw three people striding towards them. "Do they belong to you?"
Craning her neck around she saw Jack, Sam and Daniel in tracking formation. They all looked ready to pounce. Only then did Annika consider how her actions would look to SG-1. Racing off, ‘stalking’ and then crash tackling a man…they thought Scarecrow was a threat. She scrambled to her feet pulling her friend up and stood protectively in front of him. "Hi, guys."
"Annika, you okay?" Jack asked cautiously. She took note that her friends had taken position in a half circle a few feet from her, warily eyeing Scarecrow, ready to attack from all sides.
"I’m fine, Jack." She smiled reassuringly.
"When you ran off like that I was…worried." Sam hesitantly stepped closer and Annika knew she was trying to sense a Goa’uld presence.
"Sorry, I should have explained." Annika instantly felt guilty.
"I’m guessing this is a friend of yours?" Jack’s sarcasm was in full force, but he was still ready for action.
"No," Scarecrow grinned. "Blue always greets strangers this way." He side stepped Annika’s playful swat and held out his hand. "I’m Joshua Arnold, but everyone calls me Scarecrow."
"Jack O’Neill." The colonel shook his hand, the tautness leaving his body in an instant.
"Samantha Carter." Sam also took the proffered hand but glanced uneasily at Daniel.
When Daniel remained silent, Jack spoke up, "He’s Daniel Jackson, a linguist would you believe?" The colonel ordered with his eyes for Daniel to be polite.
Reluctantly Daniel shook the man’s hand. "Pleased to meet you." His tone said he was anything but.
Annika frowned. It was unlike Daniel to be hostile, if anything he was the peacekeeper of the group. She noticed that while the others had relaxed, Daniel was still wound tight. She searched their bond and found an emotion she couldn’t identify. "Daniel?"
Scarecrow studied the glowering man in front of him. His eyes became slightly unfocused as his gaze lowered down to Daniel’s chest and seemed to follow an invisible line from beneath the archaeologist’s heart to the same spot on Annika. Immediately he dropped his arm from her shoulders. "Now, mate, don’t get the wrong idea. Blue’s just a friend." He gently nudged Annika towards her soul mate.
Confused, Annika stumbled towards the others. "Of course you’re just a friend, Scarecrow. What else would you be?"
Automatically they all reached out to steady her and Scarecrow flinched at the bright blue aura that enveloped them when they touched. "Struth, Blue, you could give a guy some warning!" He rubbed his forehead. "Do you want to blind me?"
Annika absently answered Jack and Sam’s unasked question. "Scarecrow sees auras too." She was still studying Daniel.
"Where’s the fifth member of your group?" He was scanning the beach.
"Fifth?" Jack raised a surprised eyebrow.
"Yeah. A slice of your ‘bubble’ is missing."
Sam gave a slight smile. "He’s visiting family."
Annika hardly paid attention to the conversation. She was trying to work out the web of Daniel’s emotions. When he’d first arrived she’d identified his concern for her safety and then his relief. Now they were both replaced by… what is that?…anger?…no… She tried to read his eyes but he kept them lowered. His hands were clenched. Never had she seen Her Love more ready for a fight. He was obviously trying very hard to control himself. Annika was positive this newfound aggression was not directed at her, so that left Scarecrow. Why would Daniel want to get in a fist fight with her friend?
"Ah…Why ‘Blue’?" Sam asked, making small talk around the silent couple.
Scarecrow gestured to Annika’s hair. "Aussie slang for a redhead."
"So, how do you know Annika?" Jack was shooting sideways glances at his best friend.
"She worked at my club a few years back. Blue, was also my dance partner."
"Mmmm, best partner I’ve ever had. We won the local dance competition when she was here," Scarecrow frowned. "Excuse me for a sec." He stepped in front of the brooding man. "Mate, would it help any if I invite you all to my wedding which is tomorrow?"
"Wedding?" Daniel’s glower softened slightly.
"Yes. I’m marrying a wonderful woman who I have been madly and faithfully in love with for ten years."
Annika could see Daniel working something out in his head. A moment later she felt the mystery emotion evaporate to be replaced with embarrassment. "Ten years, huh?" he asked with a sheepish grin.
Scarecrow smiled back. "Yep."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Daniel, aren’t you supposed to be the diplomat of our happy little family?" Now that there was no danger of his friend punching Scarecrow’s lights out, he was happy to tease him. He turned to the wild-haired man. "Care to join us for a drink? I’m dying to find out Annika’s little secrets."
"Sounds good," he replied. "And I know just the place to go."
"Lead on, Mac Duff." Jack casually slung an arm around Sam’s waist. "You two coming?"
"You guys go ahead." Annika’s eyes had narrowed and Daniel squirmed uncomfortably. "We’ll grab our gear. You going to ‘Billy’s’?" she asked Scarecrow. He nodded. "We’ll see you there."
Jack and Sam exchanged smirks when they saw the archaeologist’s shoulders slump, and headed off.
Daniel immediately began striding back down the beach.
"Daniel Jackson, you stop right there!" she demanded and reluctantly he ground to a halt.
Annika placed herself directly in front of him. "What was all that about?"
"It was nothing." He suddenly found the sand very interesting.
"Crap. You were ready to rip Scarecrow’s throat out."
Daniel opened his mouth in denial but one look at Annika’s face had him shutting it again. He heaved a sigh. "I was jealous."
"Jealous? Of Scarecrow?" she asked incredulously. "Why?"
He scuffed a toe in the wet sand. "Uh…you’re always so careful about touching anyone except for me. When I saw you hugging him without concern I…well…um…"
A warm glow of happiness erupted within her.
Daniel frowned when he felt it too. "A second ago you were mad at me for being jealous and now you’re happy about it?"
Now it was Annika’s turn to study the sand. "No one’s ever been jealous over me before," she admitted. "I couldn’t even identify what it was you were feeling."
A gentle finger tilted her chin up. "I’ll be jealous whenever another man looks at you if you want. I assure you it won’t be difficult for me."
"You don’t have to be jealous." She cupped his face and reached up to kiss him. "You’re the only man I have ever loved, the only man I will ever love."
Daniel’s arms wrapped around her pulling her close. "I love you too, more than life itself." His mouth descended on hers and that wonderful tingly feeling oozed through their veins.
Reluctantly they drew apart before desire made them totally forget they were on a crowded beach. Hand in hand they collected their belongings and Annika showed the way to the local pub a few streets away.
"What’s different about Scarecrow?" Daniel was trying to divert his arousal with talk of more sedate topics.
Annika shrugged, knowing he was referring to her disregard of physical contact with her former boss. "I’ve never received any visions from him. I guess it’s because he learnt to shield himself to stop from being blinded by the auras he sees. When I inadvertently discovered this, it was such a relief not to have to worry about visions or premonitions."
"You won a dance competition?" Despite living together practically from the first day they met, the couple was still learning new things about each other everyday.
"It was just a bit of fun," she answered carefully. "How about you? Do you dance?"
He shook his head. "Not really. I can manage a waltz, but that’s about it." Daniel sensed she wanted to change the subject and was intrigued. "What sort of dancing?"
"I took lessons in ballroom for a few years…pretty much know most of the traditional dances. I stopped when I turned fifteen. I loved it but couldn’t stand the visions." She deliberately kept her voice neutrally vague.
He tried to picture her friend dancing the foxtrot and couldn’t. He made his next question more specific. "What sort of dancing did you do with Scarecrow?"
"Well, it was kind of a mix of club and Latin American. I don’t think there’s an actual name for it."
Daniel watched as her face turned a slight shade of pink that had nothing to do with the sun. Hmmm…club and Latin American… "You mean something like that movie ‘Dirty Dancing’?"
Annika’s blush deepened. "I guess that’s one way of describing it."
He still felt there was something more. "Just what was the name of the category you won?"
"Ah…well…seeing as it was a local competition, the promoters… er…made up the categories…" She was stalling but her face kept getting redder and redder. "…There was ‘The Old Married Couple’ for the waltz…‘Tiptoeing Across the Hot Sand’ for the jive…"
"And yours?" Daniel prompted.
"Ah…‘Sex On The Beach’."
So much for small talk, he thought wryly as the passion he’d barely managed to control erupted again. Visions of what sort of dance moves it took to win in that category started flying around his head. "Interesting category. I’d like to see that dance one day."
She looked up at him shyly. "Really?"
"You won’t get jealous?"
"Nope." Then quickly added, "As long as your partner is Scarecrow."
A A A
They made their way through the bustling tables at ‘Billy’s’ and recognized the couple sitting next to their teammates. Clarisse and Scarecrow arrived laden down with trays of drinks and finger food.
"I believe you guys have already met," Scarecrow said setting down his burden.
"Fancy meeting you here." Daniel grinned at Scully and Mulder.
"Yes, it’s quite the coincidence," Mulder agreed.
Clarisse hugged Annika. "It’s wonderful to see you."
"You too." She returned the embrace. "I’m glad you’re finally tying the knot with Scarecrow." Annika introduced Daniel.
"You and your friends must come to the wedding," Clarisse insisted.
Annika shot a look at the colonel who gave a brief nod.
Daniel’s eyes widened at Jack’s quick agreement, considering they were on a mission.
Clarisse didn’t notice the unspoken byplay between the team and chattered on. "The ceremony is on the beach at five pm. Then we move on to ‘The Deck’ for nibblies, then ‘The Lookout!’ for dinner and finally to ‘Scarecrow’s’ for the cake."
Daniel gave a slight nod to the colonel indicating he now understood. SG-1 had planned to visit the clubs and restaurants the women had been abducted from. They were already in one and the wedding reception would take them to three of the other locations. Out loud he said, "That’s unusual. I’ve never been to a round robin wedding before." He sat down and Annika perched herself in her customary place on his lap.
The future bride and groom didn’t bat an eye at the strange seating arrangement, already knowing Annika’s aversion to touching foreign objects. Mulder, ever the gentleman, rose to get an extra chair.
"No need. I’m quite comfy here." Annika waved his offer away as Daniel’s arms rested on her thighs.
Scarecrow explained why the reception was staggered between venues. "Most of our friends are in the restaurant business, either owners, chefs or waiters. If we had it at one place we would have had to accept that many wouldn’t be able to attend. This way all our friends can share our special day, even if not all together."
The conversation was relaxed as the sun set. Drinks turned into dinner and dinner into dessert while the group of new and old friends chatted away the evening.
At one point Annika studied her old stomping ground and her gaze fell to one of the police warning bulletins dotting the walls. "Scarecrow, have you seen any odd looking auras lately?"
Her friend followed her line of sight, his normally happy-go-lucky expression fading. "Yes, I’m sorry to say. I saw that bastard, you know, before the warnings were posted."
The guilt in his voice was clearly evident. "You couldn’t have known. What would you have done? Told the police to arrest him because his aura was off?" She gave his hand a comforting squeeze. "They would have locked you up in the nuthouse."
"Thank you," Clarisse exclaimed. "I’ve been trying to tell him that for weeks."
"The night I saw him he snatched one of those women from my club," Scarecrow sighed. "I take the safety of my patrons personally. The least I could have done was kick his arse out, maybe that woman would still be alive."
"From what I’ve read in the newspapers it wouldn’t have made a difference," Sam interjected. "He targets specific women, he would have just waited outside for her to come out."
"What did the aura look like?" Annika asked softly, knowing there was no way she could alleviate the guilt he held.
"It was bad, Blue." A shiver ran down his spine. "It was almost completely black, except for a tiny ball of blue-white. I can’t work out how such a spark of pure goodness existed untouched by all that evil. It was like there were two different auras in one body."
SG-1 shared a glance. They knew precisely how that would happen.
"Have the murders affected the local businesses?" Jack enquired, trying to continue his assessment of the town’s mood.
Scarecrow waved a hand around the room. "Take a look around you. The first woman was taken from here and since that announcement was made there hasn’t been an empty seat from open to close. It’s the same with all the abduction points, people are coming from everywhere."
Scully gave a rueful grimace. "I’ll never understand human nature to flock to the morbid and dangerous."
Her friend gave a light tug on her hair. "Blue, if you see this aura around anyone start screaming bloody murder. You’ll notice that while every seat is full, there are only two redheads, and they’re both at this table." He shot a look towards Scully.
Daniel tightened his hold on Annika. "Don’t worry, we don’t plan on letting her out of our sight."
Mulder grasped Scully’s hand. "Why do you think I tagged along? I couldn’t let Scully come here alone."
Convinced that his warning had been heard, Scarecrow steered the conversation to less serious subjects.
Daniel was telling Clarisse and Mulder about some of the digs (on Earth) that he’d been on when the woman glanced over at her fiancé. "Hang on a moment, Daniel. Would you get out on that dance floor before you thump a hole in the table?" she mock growled at the man she loved. "I’m loosing all the bubbles out of my Coke."
Scarecrow who’d been talking with the others immediately stopped tapping to the music with an apologetic grin. "Sorry, didn’t even realize I was doing it."
Daniel noticed that Annika’s foot had also been keeping the beat against his leg. "You can dance if you want to. Don’t let me stop you."
Annika hesitated. "You’re sure?"
"Positive. I’d like to see some of that ‘Sex On The Beach’." He kissed her tenderly. "I promise not to get jealous, no matter what you do."
Her eyes sparkled. "Are you throwing down the gauntlet?" The amused tug beneath her heart dared her to do her best. "Come on Sam, let’s make our men jealous. Dana, are you up to the challenge?"
Scully shot Mulder a sly look. "Oh, you bet."
"Am I missing something?" Clarisse asked with amused confusion.
Sam grinned letting Annika pull her to her feet. "Daniel recently discovered the green monster lurks within him, at least as far as Annika is concerned."
Jack smirked. "Yeah, you were almost made a widow before you were a bride."
Daniel scowled good-naturedly before returning his attention to Clarisse. "You don’t dance?"
She took a sip of her drink. "Nope. God gave me a brilliant mind, but two left feet."
"Is that a professional diagnosis?" Mulder couldn’t help asking.
"In her case it is," Scully laughed, "it’s painful to watch."
"Remind me again why I invited you?" Clarisse shooed her friend away. "Go on." She gestured to the hovering women and her man. "I can see you’re all itching to shake your bootie. Those blessed with coordination can all leave now."
Needing no further encouragement they eagerly trooped onto the dance floor. As the music pumped from the speakers the remaining men really tried to maintain a conversation but kept getting distracted by the swaying bodies and gyrating hips of their respective partners.
Clarisse sighed, giving up on trying to hold an intelligent discussion with the gob smacked men and instead lovingly watched her husband-to-be playfully take turns dancing with each of the women.
"I didn’t know Scully was so flexible." Mulder was trying not to gape at his normally reserved partner swiveling with Scarecrow like a corkscrew. Each circular motion lowered the pair until they were almost touching the ground before reversing the whole process until they were upright once more.
"Dana was a real wild child," Clarisse informed him. "I don’t know how she managed to get such top marks with all the partying she did."
Scarecrow switched partners.
Jack looked like a deer caught in oncoming headlights. "How does she do that?" His voice was hoarse and he gulped a mouthful of beer without removing his eyes from the major. The music had sped up and Sam was spinning her hips in time to the tempo, making her patterned sarong almost a blur of blues and greens.
Clarisse whispered in Daniel’s ear. "I’m guessing this is a side of Sam, Jack hasn’t seen before?"
"You’ve got that right," he confirmed.
"Is this a good thing?"
Daniel watched the military man casually making sure his shirt was loosely covering the tops of his thighs (and other parts of his anatomy,) and grinned mischievously. "Oh, yeah. It’s a very good thing."
A new track began and Clarisse’s face lit up. "This is the song that got those two into the final. I hope they…" She saw Annika and Scarecrow recognize the song and begin to circle each other, creating a larger space on the crowded floor. "…Daniel watch this, it’s the biggest turn on I’ve ever seen…"
Daniel had identified the song as soon as the throaty moans of Janet Jackson blasted from the speakers. ‘Throb’ had never been one of his favorite songs, however it was quickly shifting to the top of his list as he beheld Annika and Scarecrow pulsate to the beat.
"It’s amazing that they don’t have a real sexual attraction to each other, isn’t it?" Clarisse commented.
"Hmmm." Daniel was thinking the same thing. Tentatively he searched their bond, not quite believing there was nothing between the dancing pair. To his immense relief there wasn’t a spark of passion despite the lusty movements of her body. All he felt was her joy of the dance itself. Reassured, he relaxed to watch the little show His Angel and Scarecrow were putting on.
Annika’s eyes locked with his when she sensed Daniel’s gentle probing. Flashing him a devilish grin she sent a backwash of her love through their bond, making him gasp when it engulfed him.
"Ah…Danny, do you want some dance lessons for Christmas?" Jack asked, taking another gulp of his beer.
"Probably a good idea." Daniel’s mouth was suddenly very dry as the tempo increased.
In perfect unison Annika and Scarecrow leapt together into the air spinning in a complete circle. As the music cut off, leaving only the sound of throbbing bass and Janet’s orgasmic cries to keep the rhythm going, the couple landed. Scarecrow slid belly up to the floor in a reverse crawling position, while Annika’s legs split so she was straddling him. Synchronized to the passionate moans of the singer, Scarecrow’s hips thrust up as Annika’s pushed down, giving the sublime impression of having sex.
The music resumed. In one fluid movement Scarecrow flipped to his feet and they finished the song upright. The last note echoed through the pub and there was a loud, enthusiastic cheer from the crowd gathered around the pair.
They all eventually made their way back to the table and Annika sat astride Daniel’s lap. "So what did you think?"
His arms wrapped around her. "That was amazing. Now that I’ve seen the qualifier, I can’t wait to see the final."
She eyed him hesitantly. "You’re okay with the…ah…earthy nature of my dance style?"
Daniel grinned and pulled her closer so she could feel just how okay he was. "You forget that I’m an archaeologist. I dig in the dirt for a living. I love earthy. Watching you move like that was highly…"
"Sexy? Raunchy?" Jack tried to help him out. "Bed-worthy? Lustful?"
Sam who’d made herself comfortable, tucked in Jack’s arms, offered more choices. "Sensual? Alluring? Libidinous?"
Daniel chuckled. "Hey, I’m supposed to be the linguist!"
"So lingu-size already," Jack demanded. "Don’t leave the woman is suspense."
"Okay…I was going to say it was highly erotic."
"Didn’t we just say that?" Jack innocently scratched his head in pretend confusion, making the rest of them burst out laughing.
The shrill beeping of a pager interrupted them. Clarisse grimaced and pulled the device from her pocket.
"Problem, babe?" Scarecrow asked when her brow creased at the message.
"I’m not sure." She hunted around in her bag for her mobile and hit the speed dial. "It’s me…uh huh…Are you sure?…Well, that’s good news, right?… He’s what?…Did you say a cold?…It makes no sense…uh huh…I’ll be there in fifteen minutes." She hung up with a baffled expression.
Everyone else raised curious eyebrows.
"Babe?" Scarecrow prodded. "What is it?"
"It seems they’ve found ‘The Glowbug’," she answered absently, her mind still deep in thought.
"Er…‘Glowbug’?" Sam asked.
"It’s what they’ve started calling the psycho that’s been killing those women," Scarecrow supplied.
"A local saw a man staggering along the motorway and he collapsed. He rushed him to the hospital where one of the nurses recognized him from the identikit picture. Before the cops arrived he’d died of what seems to be a common cold."
SG-1 exchanged looks but none of the others noticed.
"People don’t die from a cold." Mulder shook his head in denial. "If he was so sick how did he manage to abduct and kill those women?"
Clarisse was gathering her things. "I don’t know. That’s what doesn’t make sense. They want me to go in to do the autopsy. Dana, feel like doing a bit of observing? I’d appreciate the insight."
Scully nodded without hesitation.
"I’ll drop you at the morgue." Scarecrow rose. Seeing his fiancée about to protest he hurried on. "This stinks like week old prawns. Until I know for sure that psycho is good and dead I’m not letting you ladies walk alone."
"Scarecrow’s right." Jack agreed when he saw the familiar signs of ‘women’s liberation’ cross the two doctor’s faces. He knew that the Goa’uld was still roaming the streets and didn’t want his new friends to relax their vigilance. He tried to think of a way to convince them and said the first thing that popped into his head. "Don’t count your chickens till they hatch."
Sam smothered a grin at the colonel’s misplaced words of wisdom. "What Jack means is, why take the risk? For all you know this fellow is just a look alike."
"Alright. Come on, Sweet Pea." The medical examiner admitted defeat ungraciously. "Come protect us little defenseless females."
"Smartarse." Scarecrow linked arms with the two women. He turned to Mulder. "Don’t worry, mate, I’ll personally drop Dana back to your hotel door when they’ve finished."
Mulder tried not to look relieved.
"Sorry to break up the party," Clarisse apologized.
"Don’t worry about it," Annika assured her friend as they all headed outside. "We’ll see you tomorrow."
It was a subdued group that walked back to the hotel. SG-1 left Mulder at his floor and then congregated in their suite to discuss their next move.
A A A
From the far corner table He watched the group leave. An interesting collection of Tau'ri. Not only were there two prime candidates for His growing harem, He also sensed the remnants of fellow Gods. The tall blonde female and the pack leader had at one time been bestowed the honor of being hosts.
It was the first indication He’d had that any of His kind still existed. The Tau'ri world had progressed dramatically since His imprisonment by Ra. Now the Gods were nothing more than a myth and for the moment that suited Him. Without a live Goa’uld to enhance their senses, He didn’t think the female and leader had detected His presence, but He had kept His distance just the same.
He should have left. After all there were many venues from which He could make His next selection. As useful as the Tau'ri were as vessels for the Goa’uld, they were an unpredictable species as He had recently been reminded. He’d chosen His last host based on a mild manner that had been deceiving. It had been a constant struggle to keep the host’s mind from emerging. A struggle that He had unknowingly lost at the most inopportune moments. He’d had no idea that His eyes had betrayed Him until what passed for the law enforcement organization had announced a warning regarding a man with glowing eyes.
He’d immediately switched bodies taking malicious joy in secreting only a mere drop of poison into the insolent host’s blood stream when He did so. Normally He flooded a used vessel with His natural toxin, giving the host a quick and reasonably painless death as reward for his service. But not this one. His lip curled into a spiteful smile. The host would die slowly and in great pain for his defiance. To His satisfaction this new Tau'ri was much more docile. Plus as an added bonus it was much more appealing to the eye than the previous ungrateful host.
Despite the risk to remain in such close proximity of those who knew of His kind, the two red haired females had captivated Him. They were magnificent specimens. When the younger one had started that primordial dance He decided that she would be His chosen consort. Once tamed she would stand by His side as His Beloved. She and the other would provide much entertainment when He finally left this heathen planet.
He discreetly followed His prey, noticing that the males protectively flanked the fiery haired female. Was she the weakest of the group? All the better for Him if she was, though it would be more a challenge to take her if the males were so guarded. Even now the gray leader was scanning the empty street searching for any threats to his pack. Yes, a challenge indeed, but one that He would ultimately win, for He was a God and no one defied the Gods.
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