Written for icons: and
Title: Double Trouble
Category: Drama, Humor, Gen
Spoilers: Any time after Off the Grid. Mild earlier season spoilers from Emancipation and Thor's Chariot.
Pairing/Character: Daniel and Cameron (non-slash), Season Nine Team.
Summary: Some confusion lands Daniel and Cameron into hot water.
Warnings: minor language
Author's Notes: Written for aizjanika and aurora_novarum. There's a plot to this, but it also pokes fun at itself at the same time. Translations for siswati can be found at: http://www.cyberserv.co.za/users/~jako/lang/swawrd.htm
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
The jail cell closed behind them.
Daniel spun around, catching his impatient, sullen expression reflecting back at him in Mitchell's eyes. His partner in crime had the gall to smile, nodding his head as if this were some kind of joke. Daniel figured Mitchell thought this was all part of the game – that any minute they would be beamed out of the cell, or that Sam would come up with a theorem that could open the doors, or that Teal'c would use his might and cunning to break them free, or that even Daniel himself would translate some rare glyphs and win over the entire populous. To consider that anything like that could happen was outrageous.
Okay, maybe not so outrageous, he thought. The likelihood of that happening based on the total sum of their previous encounters was high, even to the point of being ridiculous. But it didn't mean it would happen today and it didn't mean that Daniel wasn't angry right now.
"Ah, don't you look at me like that," Mitchell said. His face was still bright with amusement. "I'm not the one that took off my glasses."
"They were smudged. I had to clean them," Daniel said, miming the motions of wiping the lenses he no longer had. "Or at least I had been."
The first thing Daniel had demanded – er, asked for – was his glasses. When he'd taken off his glasses to clean them after exiting the Gate, they were promptly snatched from his hands by one of the village elders. He'd asked several times for his glasses back, but the elder man that had greeted them by the Gate apparently didn't speak any English. Or rather, he was too shocked by the sight in front of him to pay Daniel any attention. They hadn't been here two minutes before both he and Mitchell had been whisked away to the containment area.
"Leave it to some crazy alien culture to take offense at glasses." Mitchell leaned back onto the bars, crossing his arms as he stretched out his legs. "It's always something new, isn't it? Maybe next time we need to get you some contacts."
Daniel held back the words that he really wanted to say, biting back his anger to try and be civil. "This isn't about my glasses. They think we're twins."
Mitchell laughed at him. It was one of those loud, bellyaching laughs that Daniel never understood. "Oh, man. That's good."
Daniel scowled. "Oh. You think it's funny."
Mitchell continued to chuckle, pausing to wipe away a tear from the corner of his eye. "Ol'Mal Doran is the only one that ever saw a resemblance, and we all know what she was after."
"I'm not joking."
"We don't look a thing like each other," Mitchell said, though his voice had sobered. "We're more like Arnold and Devito."
Daniel paused for a second to mull over the comment before he shook it off. "The phenomena of twins have always fascinated man. Just look to Greek and Roman mythology, for example. Castor and Polydeucus – or Pollux to others – also known as the 'Heavenly Twins.' I'm sure you've heard of Romulus and Remus. Apollo and Artemis."
"Yeah, I get it," Mitchell said. "The Minnesota Twins. The Doublemint Twins. The Olsen Twins…People dig twins."
"Uh…not so much," Daniel said with a frown.
That caught Mitchell's attention. "Does that have something to do with why we're in here?"
"Many cultures around the world, both present and ancient, were superstitious about twins. Now," he continued, raising his finger as he started to pace in the cell, "there are stories about twins by the Papuans and the Celts. Stories can be found in the Middle East, North and South America, Asia…Sometimes twins are considered deities."
Mitchell stared at the bars of their cell. He leaned into them, dangling his arms out the openings, and shouted to the guard down by the entrance "Hey! Where's my buffet!"
Of course, no one answered the screaming man with a death wish. Mitchell slumped back down against the bars. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're not deities."
"I'm thinking no."
Mitchell made an exaggerated noise that sounded like a cross between a snort and a hiss. "Nah, this'll all blow over. We'll be out of here in no time flat."
Daniel didn't think so. "Other times twins are considered demonic or cursed. Or even more exciting, possess the power to curse those around them."
Mitchell's smile disappeared fast. "Aw, hell." He tapped on the bars, his movements a little more frantic.
"I'm more concerned about this society's root culture than anything else at this point..." Daniel had a hard time understanding the majority of the people on this world. They called themselves the Zwane. To the best of Daniel's recollection, it sounded Swati. He couldn't be certain. Recorded history in Africa had always been sketchy, though Daniel wouldn't be surprised if these people were descendants from Khosian or Bantu tribes. Which, of course, was neither here nor there, as he couldn't speak their language anyway.
"Is there something you're not telling me, Jackson?"
"Uh…yeah." Daniel licked his lips. "If I'm right, I think we might have a problem."
"A bad problem or an 'SG-1 saves the day' type of problem?"
Daniel ignored the question and cut right to the chase. "Back in the 1950s, there were several documented cases of superstitious practices performed around twins. Now, I can't say if cultural practices here resemble anything like what happened in South Africa decades ago, but in the case of the Swazi, they were known for performing a traditional practice of killing the first in a set of twins – believing that he was possessed by a demon – by throwing him off a cliff. The survivor, also know as the 'good twin,' often lived a full life."
"So, it's not likely we'll leave with a slap on the wrist and no hard feelings," Mitchell stated more than asked.
"Not likely, no."
Mitchell jimmied the lock. "This isn't nothing like that movie with Arnold."
"No. No, it's not."
Mitchell tapped his teeth with the tip of his tongue, his gaze looking past their cell. He frowned. "I think I saw a cliff on this planet. Didn't we—didn't we see a see a cliff before we were dragged in here?"
Daniel didn't answer.
"Damn," Mitchell said under his breath.
Daniel sighed. "Well, I hope I'm the good twin."
When Mitchell turned to glare at him, Daniel just put on his best face and smiled. Sam would be back with Lieutenant Bartlett anytime now.
"What do you mean he's in Florida?"
Sam cringed, shifting her weight and her P-90 as her uneasy gaze bounced from Daniel to Mitchell. "According to General Landry, he and his fiancée left earlier this morning," she said, answering Daniel.
"We are attempting to find another to take his place," Teal'c added.
Daniel banged his head on the bars and closed his eyes. Dennis was the best African cultures expert they had on the base. He banged his head again. They didn't have anyone that was close to speaking the Zwane's native tongue.
"So, the only person that could get us out of this jam is living it up on the dolly ride in Disney World while we're trapped in a cage on an alien planet waiting to become part of Wild Kingdom," Mitchell muttered.
Sam opened her mouth as if she were about to comment, but quickly closed it. Daniel thought maybe she knew better than to tempt fate right now.
"Is there no way we can speak to the local people on your behalf?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes. Good. I like that idea." Mitchell clapped his hands and smiled. "If anyone can do it, you can."
"No. No, he can't," Daniel mumbled into his shirt. He didn't move from his dejected spot. "From the few words of English the chief spoke, I got the impression the Zwane were once slaves to the Goa'uld. They know Teal'c is a Jaffa and won't speak to him."
"What about me?" Sam said, sounding more hopeful than Daniel thought she should.
He let out another frustrated sigh, as he stole a peek in her direction without really moving from his brooding position. "Do you remember the Shavadai?"
Sam groaned. "Oh, dammit." She leaned against the other side of their cell. The free side.
"Did you see if they are doing anything? Anything involving a cliff?" Mitchell asked.
Sam shook her head. "We're not allowed close to the elders or the chief. We were lucky enough to be able to see you."
"Most of the people do not wish us to be here," Teal'c said. He emphasized his point by glanced back to the guard that was stationed by the entrance. "I do not believe we will remain safe for long."
Daniel was inclined to agree with him. If they were in fact imprisoned because of any slight resemblance – which Daniel did not see – then whatever action they might take would come about fairly quickly. It was hard for Daniel to judge what might happen since he hadn't figured out this group's customs yet. What he did know is that in most instances of twin death the act happened at infancy. Adult twins were rare. Maybe the people here would see that nothing bad would happen based on their presence and let them free.
There was nothing wrong with hope.
"If I could just get close to the chief or some of the elders," Daniel said, taking out a small notepad. "I always keep a few notes from various cultures we believe to have been taken by the Goa'uld. And I know he can speak some English. We probably could bridge the gap and communicate."
"Why is it that some groups speak English and others don't?" Mitchell asked. "I just don't get it."
"Don't ask," Daniel mumbled, continuing to flip through his notepad. He breathed out, finding a few ideas he'd jotted down for several African cultures. He didn't know how far the language on BJ9-768 had diverged from any original root on Earth, but it was worth a shot. "Excuse me! Lucolo!" he shouted to the guard standing by the entrance to the prison.
The young man turned his head, frowning, and appearing mildly curious over Daniel's outburst. "Yebo."
Daniel found himself relaxing, a small smile touching his lips. He always felt better after he broke a barrier. Daniel decided to start with some small talk. It was about all he could really say anyway. "Sawubona. Unjani?"
"Ngikhona," the man replied, taking a tentative step forward. He was still frowning, but his curiosity seemed to be getting the better of him.
Good, Daniel thought. If he had no problem answering a simple question like how are you maybe he would help them in other areas.
Daniel glanced over to the rest of his team. Sam and Mitchell encouraged him to continue with the wave of their hands. Teal'c stood by Sam's side, watching the guard carefully. He knew Teal'c, or Sam even, weren't going to take any chances.
Daniel flipped another page. He needed something for danger or help…"Sitani," he said, making a motion between himself and Mitchell. "Sitani. Please…Sitani, ngiyacela."
The frown on the guard's face deepened. "Cha," he said defiantly.
No, of course not. Why would he help?
"Oh hey, he's walking away!"
Daniel glanced up at the sound of Mitchell's voice. The man had seemed to have tired of the game and was returning to his post. Daniel flipped through his pages more urgently, looking for anything to help.
"Ngiyacolisa!" he apologized. "Tibolekiswa kuphi timoto?"
The guard just stood and blinked at him. This time he left the premises altogether. Somehow, Daniel didn't find that comforting at all.
Sam stared at him. "What did you just say?"
Daniel quickly flipped through his notepad. "I said I was sorry. I don't know…Oh." He grimaced. "Where can I rent a car?"
"Jackson, you're not helping our case here," Mitchell said, picking at the lock again.
Daniel sighed. Sam sent him the most reassuring look she could offer and touched his arm. As much as he was thankful for the support, he wasn't feeling all that encouraged.
He pinched his nose and leaned his head back. "They probably think we're crazy." As he allowed his head to roll to the side, he frowned, catching a twinkle in Sam's eyes. "What?" he asked.
"That gives me an idea." She motioned with her head toward the door. "Come on, Teal'c." When she and Teal'c reached the exit, she called back to the befuddled not-twins. "Just hang on a little longer."
Daniel and Mitchell found themselves kneeling in front of the chief of the Zwane. Apparently, Sishayi had been chief for many years and was the most knowledgeable man in all the land. He did not need to rely on too many shamans because of his own abilities. Or so, that is what Captain Patterson had said.
Daniel tried his best to wait patiently as Patterson butchered the language. Though, he had to admit, Patterson was getting through to Sishayi based on the bits and pieces Daniel could understand. He just didn't know if it was good or bad at this point.
Mitchell was trying not to look nervous. Daniel knew that Mitchell had seen a lot during his short time on SG-1 – he'd witnessed the Goa'uld, the Ori, and already had a mind-altering experience with the Galarans. But he hadn't had much experience with different cultural groups. Back when SG-1 first started going through the Stargate, they had run into descendants from peoples from some of Earth's most ancient cultures. It seemed as time passed and they explored more worlds, they found fewer "pristine" cultures. Instead, they could marvel at how a group of people could change over time. Not all Goa'uld were like Apophis or Ra, feeling the need to repress complete development. Still, Daniel could honestly say he missed finding and meeting new groups of people that continued to rely on the old ways. Even now as he was waiting for release or possibly execution, he wouldn't have changed a thing.
Aside from maybe keeping his glasses on.
"If it's any consolation, it'll probably be me," Daniel said. "I was the one wearing the glasses. If anything, they'll think I was trying to conceal my true nature. That doesn't go over big with people that are used to witchcraft and sorcery."
"Nah, it'll be fine. SG-1's been to hell and back." Mitchell forced a toothy grin. "You've been through worse. Patterson will come through."
Daniel peered over the edge of the cliff, finding the sinking feeling in his stomach entirely appropriate for the situation. He struggled against the men that held him against his will.
Mitchell had joined him to his left. "Whoa, no," he said, pushing back. "Captain, try again!"
Patterson cringed and walked back to the chief, mumbling in Swati. Sishayi would oversee the ritual and give it his blessing. Anything Patterson could do to stall worked for Daniel.
Come on, Sam. Come on, Teal'c.
Daniel glanced over his shoulder, watching as Patterson and Sishayi negotiated. Based on the chief's sour expression, Daniel guessed that it wasn't going so well.
"I thought you said they would only kill one of us," Mitchell said.
"This isn't Earth," Daniel said simply. "Different custom."
Daniel and Mitchell were led to the ledge, offering them a stunning view of the rocky, raging river below. Daniel dug his heels into the ground. "Sam! Teal'c!"
"Now would be a good time guys!" Mitchell added.
The men pushed them closer. Daniel and Mitchell struggled harder, not about to have it end like this. But the men were strong and numerous, quickly subduing the both of them.
Daniel heard a lone shot in the distance. Suddenly, a calm washed over the crowd. Sam and Teal'c approached them, glistening with sweat. Daniel figured they'd been running.
"Wait!" Sam cried. She ran to Patterson and whispered something into his ear. Patterson in turn moved back to Sishayi and spoke quickly, thrusting his finger at Daniel and Mitchell.
"What's he saying?" Mitchell whispered.
"I can't hear."
Whatever he said, Daniel didn't think the chief was too impressed. He shook his head and motioned for the ritual to continue.
Sam and Patterson tried again. The chief shook his head. They tried again. And again. And again.
Finally, Sishayi had enough. He rose to his feet and yelled, pointing to the cliff. His men responded with a communal grunt and heaved Daniel and Mitchell toward the cliff.
"Wait, wait! We can talk about this!" Daniel shouted.
Daniel and Mitchell reached out to grab anything in sight, preparing to snatch anything they could to stop the fall. But nothing happened.
SG-1 blinked with disbelief as the cliff blinked in and out, like a bad transmission, before it vanished completely. Miles and miles of land rolled out in front of them. Land. Solid, flat land.
Daniel stared in shock, having flashbacks to the Hall of Thor's Might. Finally, breaking free from his astonishment, Daniel turned to the chief, his mouth still open. Sishayi was grinning proudly.
"You have passed the test," Sishayi said in perfect English. "We were not certain of your intentions. Not with your Jaffa," he said, motioning to Teal'c.
"So, this was all just a test?" Daniel asked. He extended his hand as Sishayi reached out to give Daniel back his glasses. "All of it?"
"Test?? It was all a friggin' test?" Mitchell's face was red and looked like it was stuck somewhere between anger and disbelief.
"We apologize for the deception," Sishayi said. "Many travelers come here only to attack us. We were certain you would come to us with violence, but you did not. We had to be sure. Even when we had your lives in our hands, you did not retaliate."
Daniel was certain he saw Sam and Teal'c hide charges behind their backs.
"Thank you," Daniel said, bowing. "We are honored that we passed your test."
"Yes! And now we welcome our new friends!" Sishayi clapped his hands. "Let us feast!"
"Let. Us. Feast!" Mitchell started clapping along with him. "Now, that's what I'm talking about!"
Daniel took his time walking back to the Gate, rubbing his stomach appreciatively. He felt completely sated. The meal was one of the finest he'd had in a long time. Not only had Sishayi been gracious enough to allow them to eat their fill, he had also had granted them access to Zwane's libraries and shops. Sam had been in heaven when she found out the Zwane had a storehouse of technological goodies that they hid under their simple exterior, while Daniel had found heaven in the form of an archive that far surpassed anything he'd seen offworld. Patterson had just wanted to go home, not used to too much offworld activity. Mitchell and Teal'c had escorted him back before the real party began.
"That had to be the best party I've been to since my twenty-first bash," Mitchell said, moving to walk alongside Daniel. Sam and Teal'c followed close behind them.
"The Zwane know how to feast," Daniel said with a satisfied grunt.
"You need to lose your glasses more often," Mitchell said, his eyes twinkling.
They both laughed together as they reached the DHD. Daniel started to dial.
"And we got a trading partner out of this," Sam said as she and Teal'c joined them. "I mean, look at this." She ran her fingers over the small contraption she'd been carrying since they'd left the village. "This is holographic technology unparalleled to some of the other devices we've encountered."
Teal'c smiled. "The Zwane have a warrior's heart and soul. They shall make worthy allies."
"You know, speaking of warriors," Daniel hit the next glyph and then the next, "what exactly were you telling Patterson back there?"
He caught Sam's cheeks pinken. "It's not important."
"It sure the hell is now," Mitchell said. "You're going to leave us hanging?"
Sam still didn't answer, turning back to the holographic device in her hands. Daniel and Mitchell exchanged a suspicious look.
"Colonel Carter had attempted to convince the chief of the Zwane that both you and Colonel Mitchell were not of sound mind."
Daniel paused above the last glyph, trying to bite back the mix of amusement and surprise. Mitchell, on the other hand…
"You tried to convince them we were crazy?"
"It would not be difficult," Teal'c said, the corners of his mouth tempted with the start of a smile.
Daniel just chuckled. Maybe ten years ago he would have been angry if one of his friends had tried to sell him off as crazy. Even if he was accustomed to it from his colleagues and peers. But, honestly, Daniel thought maybe there was some truth to it now. They had all been through so much over the past ten years, Jack included, that the line between sanity and insanity had blurred and was indistinguishable. Maybe they all needed therapy.
With a shake of his head, he dismissed the thought and pressed down the last glyph. The Stargate sprung to life with its signature kawoosh. After Sam sent the code, they started on their way up the ramp. Just as he was about to step through, Daniel thought of all the jokes and ribbings they were going to get when they reached the other side and imagined Jack and General Hammond laughing over their predicament.
So, maybe their feats were a little outrageous. But it was all in a day's work for SG-1.