Rascals - Chapter 19

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It was Saturday morning and today O'Neill had promised the children he would take them to the ZOO. Teal'c had agreed to come - to help out - but mostly because he was genuinly interested seeing what a 'ZOO' was. Janet had decided to come as well, as the weather was good and it had been a long time since she had a day off. Besides, O'Neill suspected she thought it was funny to see what mischief the children would get up to this time.

They loaded the children into the same Humvee they had used for the shopping trip and drove to 'Cheyenne Mountain Zoo'. The trip took less than half an hour, and the children happily jumped out of the car and excitedly pulled at the adults, trying to get them to walk faster.

O'Neill handed the cashier the money and got the tickets. The children studied the exchange closely.

"Lantash wants a ticket too." Martouf said.

"He doesn't need one." O'Neill turned to the cashier. "Lantash is his...um...invisible friend." He hurriedly pushed the children through the gate before they said anything further.

"Why did you pay full price for Teal'c? He's above 64 so he should have gotten in cheaper." Sam pointed out.

"I don't think the nice lady would have believed Teal'c is more than a hundred, honey." Janet smiled and ruffled Sam's hair.

Sam nodded. "Okay." She looked at Teal'c. "I guess that's true."

"What do you want to see first? Do you have any favourite animals?" O'Neill asked them.

"I like dragons." Daniel said.

"And dinosaurs!" Sam added, excitedly.

"I don't think they have any of those." O'Neill smiled. "Any others? Preferably real and non-extinct?"

"Dragons are real. There are little flying dragons on Silkana." Freya pointed out.

"Wauw. Do they breathe fire?" Daniel wanted to know.

"No...I don't think so..." Freya wrinkled her brow. "Maybe..." She concluded.

"They're having some sort of leopard showing in ten minutes. Would you like to see that?" Janet suggested.

"Leopards are cool." Sam agreed.

"We'd like to see it!" Martouf said.

"Okay, let's hurry then!"

"The leopards were cute!" Freya said.

"Yeah, I wish they'd let us pet them." Daniel agreed.

"I just think they looked hungry." O'Neill said, happy they were away from the big cats.

He remembered the leopard he had seen one night, many years ago, while he was trying to get out of enemy territory after parachuting out somewhere near the border between Iran and Iraq. True, it had been a Persian leopard instead of an Amur leopard, but in his book a leopard was a leopard and he was sure they would both consider him equally tasty. He shuddered.

"If you wish to see hungry predators, then there seems to be wolf-feeding and mountain lion-feeding later today. perhaps you would enjoy those, O'Neill." Teal'c said, reading a note.

"Yaaay! Wolves!" Sam did a little dance.

"And mountain lions!" Daniel added, looking excited.

"What are mountain lions?" Martouf wanted to know, looking interested.

"Teal'c!" O'Neill hid his face in his palm. "I don't want to be anywhere near eating predators!"

"I'm hungry!" Anise said. "And technically, symbiotes are predators...at least we were until we became...symbiotic lifeforms...or are we both?" She scrunched her face as she thought hard.

"If anyone else is hungry, maybe we should go and get a snack before seeing the next animal?" Janet suggested, quickly.

"Anise, you're not supposed to use the distortion when we're in a public place!" Lantash said.

"Neither are you, young man!" Janet said, ruffling his hair.


A blueberry muffin later, they stood outside the food court, feeling better.

"So, what do you want to see now?" Janet wondered.

"Have you decided which animal is your favourite?" O'Neill asked. "Given the criteria from before!"  He added.

Sam nodded. "Wolves."

"I liked the leopards." Freya said. "But Anise would like to see some tigers."

"We're seeing the wolves getting fed later, Sam, so let's find the tigers." Janet smiled.

O'Neill groaned, but did not complain. This was a day for the children - and besides - the cages seemed reasonably sturdy.

After watching the tigers - for a very long time, since the tigers had cubs that were adorable - they finally left for the next animal.

"Daniel?" Janet inquired.

"I still want to see dragons..." He pouted.

"No dragons, what else?" O'Neill said.

"Actually, I think they have Komodo dragons - and bearded dragons. It's not the same, but..." Janet shrugged.

Daniel nodded. "I'd like to see them!"

"Can we go in there afterwards?" Martouf pointed. "It says you can feed the...budgies...? Whatever that is... There's a picture of birdies!"

"It's a kind of parakeet - and it's in the same place as the bearded dragons, so let's go there now." Janet said.

It turned out they were allowed to walk among the birds and feed them seed sticks - for a small fee. Looking slightly unhappy, O'Neill paid for all of them.

They ended up having a great time, despite Teal'c deciding the birds were evil when they kept landing on him and trying to pull his cap off. He insisted they were working with the NID to expose him.

"It was fun! Can we do it again?" Daniel said, excitedly.

"No." Teal'c answered, glaring in the direction of the aviary.

Daniel sighed and followed the others in the direction of the promised bearded 'dragons'. He hoped they were bigger than the ones he remembered from the short trip to Australia he had once done.

"Oh, see, pony rides! And a carousel!" Sam's eyes shone.

"I wanna go see the Komodo dragon! Now!" Daniel demanded. The bearded dragons had been as small as he remembered, and a big disappointment.

"Lantash is pulling my hair!" Sam complained.

"No, I'm not! I was removing a large multi-legged creature! I think you call it a spider."

Sam screamed and starting dancing around, using her hands to claw at her hair. "Is it gone? Is it gone?"

"It's gone. Look!" He pointed to the ground. "You stepped on it, several times."

Sam nervously studied the flat and very dead spider. "Good."

"Well, after this little scare, perhaps we should do something relaxing. Why don't we go see some fishies?" O'Neill suggested.

"Fish are boring." Daniel declared.

"Not if you've ever experienced being chased by one when you were little!" Lantash argued. "Are the fish big?" He asked O'Neill.

"No idea." O'Neill said. "And remember the voice, please." He quickly glanced around. No one seemed to have noticed.

"You don't need to worry about being eaten. Not this time. You're wearing your Martouf-protective clothing!" Sam grinned.

"We don't consider our hosts 'clothing'." Lantash said, sounding insulted.

"Sorry!" Sam gave him a hug. She smiled, a little sneakily. "Why don't we all go to the pony rides?"

"Lantash would like to see some ravens!" Martouf said.

"Do they have owls? I had an owl when I was..." Garshaw blushed. "Um...a long time ago."

Teal'c looked at the map. "Yes, it would seem so. They have both here." He pointed.

"Ohh, that's near the petting ZOO!" Sam exclaimed, looking at the map as well. "Can we go there afterwards?"

"What's a petting ZOO?" Yosuuf wanted to know.

"It's a place were they have goats and rabbits and such - AND YOU'RE ALLOWED TO TOUCH THEM!" Sam cried ecstatically.

"I wanna go there!" Yosuuf said. "And so does Mister Fluffy!" She waved the big rabbit she had insisted on carrying along.

"We'll go there as soon as we've seen the ravens and the owls. OK?" Janet decided. "It's just across there."

They took the children into a large building.

"It's quite warm in here." Anise remarked.

"Many of the animals in here need higher temperatures to live." Daniel explained to her. 

She nodded, accepting that.

"Sweet! Can I have one of these? Please!" Sam pressed her nose flat against the glass. "It's sooooo pretty!"

"Yikes!" O'Neill yanked her away from the glass. "Are you crazy? It's deadly! Very venomous!""

"It's not!" Sam argued, offended. "One of my friends had one when I was a kid, but Dad wouldn't let me have one!"

"It's a Coral snake!"

"Nope! Milk snake. 'Red on yellow kills a fellow, red on black, OK Jack'." Daniel read. "Haha - Jack!" He giggled.

"See? " Sam looked at O'Neill, proudly.

"Whatever. No snakes for you, young lady." He pushed her over to the other children who were currently studying some tiny, burrowing owls.

After a - very long, O'Neill thought - trip to the petting ZOO, they had all become hungry. Hungry enough that all but Anise and Garshaw were easy to pull away from the cute animals. It did not take much persuasion to get them to come, though, when Daniel began talking about food.

While they were eating, Anise suddenly discovered her shoes were missing some decorative ribbons that had been there earlier. Upon closer study, it was obvious they had been gnawed off.

"The goats probably ate them." O'Neill concluded. "The damn bastards always eats some part of your clothing while you're not looking!"

"I want my ribbons back!"

"They're eaten, I can't do anything about it. You just have to be more careful with your stuff around goats!"

Anise started crying. "I want my mother!"

"Your mother!" O'Neill stared at her, incredulous.

"Egeria." Teal'c reminded him.

"Oh...she's dead." He immediately realised the error in reminding her of that.

Anise cried louder and Lantash began crying as well, suddenly remembering Egeria was dead.

"What's wrong?" Janet asked, just coming back from the bathroom. "What did you do?" She looked accusingly at O'Neill, then leaned down to hug both Anise and Lantash.

"He told them their mommy is dead!" Sam looked accusingly at O'Neill.

"Listen...I'm sorry, but it's not like they didn't know!"

"They had probably forgotten. You know the kids don't always recall everything, even if they have all the memories!" Janet said. She stroked the hair of both Anise and Lantash. "Don't cry, sweeties. He didn't mean to say it like that." She sighed. "I have an idea...why don't we get you some ice cream?"

"You're suggesting ice cream? Is something wrong?" O'Neill wondered, sarcastically.

Janet ignored him. "Would you like ice cream?"

First Anise, then Lantash nodded.

"Good, then let's get you some!"

"I want ice cream too!" Sam looked pleadingly at Janet.

"And me!" Daniel said, hopefully. "Please?"

"Me, me too!" Yosuuf smiled.

"Okay, ice cream for everyone!" O'Neill smiled. "Including the adults. Teal'c?"

"No, thank you! It is a cold and unpleasant dish."

"Ice cream for most of us, then."

Later, when they had eaten their ice cream, all the children looked much happier. However, when they were just about to leave the cafeteria, Anise gave her shoes another unhappy look.

O'Neill noticed it, and thought about it for a moment. Then he smiled, getting an idea.

"Anise." He put an arm around her. "I have an idea. I have a small picket fence at my cabin. It really needs painting. If you help me, I will buy you a pair of new shoes for you in return. What do you say?"

Anise smiled eagerly. "Yes! I will help you!"

"Good! That's a deal, then!"

They spent several more hours at the ZOO, before the children - and the adults - got so tired they decided to call it a day. They slowly walked towards the exit, when Daniel noticed a sign.

"Meerkats!" He said, excitedly. "Can we go look at them?" He took Janet's hand and began pulling her in the right direction. "Please?"

"Yes, can we? Please? They're so cute!" Sam begged as well.

The Tok'ra had no idea what meerkats were, but immediately took up Daniel and Sam's cause and began arguing they should go see them.

"Oh, well. Let's go see the little critters, then." O'Neill said, giving in.

Janet allowed Daniel to pull her in the right direction, and Teal'c followed. Suddenly, he felt something touch the top of his head, and his cap disappeared.

Looking up, Teal'c spotted a giraffe slowly munching on his head gear.

"O'Neill. We have a problem."

"What is it, Teal'c?"

"One of the long-necked creatures decided my hat would make an agreeable meal. How do you suggest I recover it?"

O'Neill eyed the giraffe and then the fence. The giraffe calmly continued munching.

"It's called a giraffe...and I'm...not sure, actually..."

"I think it's easier if we get you a new cap, Teal'c." Janet smiled. "You can borrow my scarf for now."

Teal'c looked decidedly uncomfortable with the idea, but allowed Janet to wrap it around his head, hiding his tattoo.

"Let me say, Teal'c, from the bottom of my heart...hot pink is definitely your colour!" O'Neill grinned widely.

"I find your lack of creativity highly disturbing."

"Aw, come on - lighten up!"

"Okay, one thing each. And I do mean one thing - not two things, or three things, or whatever you think you can get away with!" O'Neill warned, about to let them loose on the gift shop, strategically located just before the exit.

"One thing per person, right?" Lantash asked, hopefully.

"Otherwise, who gets to choose?" Yosuuf wanted to know.

"One thing per person. Hurry up! My knee is starting to bother me again."

"It sounds like you should come on down to the infirmary when we get back. Have you been resting it as I told you to? And are you wearing the knee support I gave you?" Janet said, giving him a stern look.

Giggling, the children dispersed in the store, not feeling the need to stay and wait for O'Neill's answer to that.

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