C is for… Childhood Experiences
Teal’c had just begun lighting the candles for his kel-no-reem when he heard a faint sound outside his door.
At his request, he had been given quarters at the end of a long corridor, so it was likely not a passing airman, but rather someone who had come to see him specifically. He opened the door, and arched an eyebrow at the person there.
The girl looked up at him. “Hi, Teal’c.”
“Does Doctor-Fraiser know where you are?”
Cassandra nodded. “She said I shouldn’t bother you if you were kel-no-reeming.”
“I have just finished,” Teal’c lied smoothly. “Would you help me extinguish the candles?”
They worked quietly for a moment, then Teal’c said, “I enjoy the silence, but if you wish to speak, I will gladly listen.”
“I’m an alien!” Cassandra blurted, then sighed. “I mean, I didn’t grow up here. Everyone says stuff that’s completely obvious to everyone who grew up on this planet, and there’s only so many times I can use I’m from Canada as an excuse.”
“And you feel like an outsider among your peers because you did not share their early experiences.”
Teal’c nodded. “The Tau’ri do mention aspects of their popular culture quite often in conversation.”
“All the time!” said Cassandra. “I mean, the current stuff I understand. Janet – Mom – lets me watch TV and go to the mall and stuff. It’s the old stuff I don’t know, the stuff I was supposed to watch or do as a kid, and couldn’t because I grew up on another planet. Like… like nursery rhymes, and kids’ books, and Sesame Street.”
Teal’c had heard people at the SGC mention the last one, a children’s educational program, so he said, “Perhaps O’Neill would be willing drive us to see the Sesame Street.”
As he’d hoped, she giggled. “It’s a show, Teal’c. For little kids, about the alphabet and learning to count.”
He nodded, hiding a smile. “Perhaps it is not too late for some of those experiences, Cassandra-Fraiser. I would also like to learn more about the world I have chosen, and would be happy to explore Earth culture with you.”
“Really?” she said, grinning. “Then we’re going to need help.”
C is for… Coloring
“This is much more relaxing than I thought it would be,” said Daniel, setting down his blue crayon and looking for another.
He, Cassandra and Teal’c were all sitting at the workbench in his office, books and papers pushed to one side so that they could spread out the coloring books and art supplies.
“We didn’t have crayons on – in Torronto,” said Cassandra. “We just had paint, and it wasn’t for playing with.”
“It wasn’t?” asked Daniel.
“Your world had a temperate climate,” said Teal’c. “I am sure you could draw with sticks in the dirt, or with mud on rocks.”
Cassandra nodded, but Daniel frowned. “Wait, Teal’c, how did you know that?”
“Jaffa children had similar amusements,” he said. “Rya’c would often depict entire fleets of Goa’uld ships in his illustrations.”
“I drew flowers,” Cassandra offered. “Or wrote my friends’ names. Did you do that when you were little, Teal’c?”
Her smile faded a little as he shook his head. “The Goa’uld do not allow most of their Jaffa to read. I did not learn until I was nearly ninety years old.”
“But who taught you?” asked Daniel. “I mean, on Earth, parents teach their kids how to read when they’re very young, about three or so. And your parents were…”
“My parents had long since died at that time, Daniel-Jackson,” said Teal’c. “As first prime of Cronos, my father had learned how to read, but my mother never could.” He paused, then smiled. “It was Bra’tac who taught me?”
“Yeah?” asked Daniel, smiling, too.
“Does he know any Jaffa kids’ stories?” Cassandra asked. “Would he tell them to me, next time he’s here?”
“I will ask,” Teal’c promised.
C is for… Doll Clothes
“Teal’c, hello,” said Janet, smiling, as she opened the front door. “You’re right on time.”
He smiled back. “I did not encounter as much traffic as I expected.”
“That’s good. Well, come on in. I need to see about dinner, but Cassie’s in the living room.”
“Can I assist you with the meal?” Teal’c asked.
Janet smiled again. “Nah, I’m good. Go see what I found for you both, for your childhood experiences thing.”
He nodded, and went down the hallway to their living room. Cassandra was sitting on the floor in front of the couch, poking through a cardboard box.
“Teal’c!” she said. “Look what Mom found!”
The Jaffa slid easily to sit cross-legged across from her, with the box between them. Inside were bits of colored fabric, with what seemed to be miniature plastic limbs among them.
“Cassandra-Fraiser?” he asked.
She smiled. “They’re dolls, Teal’c. Barbie dolls.” Cassandra held one up so he could see it better, a figure in the shape of an adult human female, with blonde hair and a pink dress. “You’re supposed to dress them up.”
“And this is a normal part of Tau’ri childhood?” he asked.
Cassandra nodded. “All the girls at school had them when they were little. You’re not really expected to play with them, when you’re as old as we are, but they all still have them, packed away.”
“Just like Doctor-Fraiser did.”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “Look at the tiny shoes!”
“I had quite the collection,” said Janet, from the doorway. She crossed the room to join them, pulling another doll from the box. “I even had a few delusions of becoming a fashion designer, before I decided I really wanted to be a doctor.”
“Then they are meant to be an occupational tool?” asked Teal’c.
The doctor laughed. “No, they’re just for fun. Little girls dress them up, try to imagine what they’ll be when they grow up. Barbie – it’s a character, the doll – has about a dozen career costumes, so there’s plenty to choose from.”
“Is she a doctor?” Cassandra asked.
“And a veterinarian,” said Janet. “I don’t remember which ones I have, actually. We should look.”
She tipped the box onto the floor, gowns and shoes and dolls scattering across the carpet. Cassandra grinned and chose a dress for her doll.
“Mine is going to work,” she said, working the little arms into the tiny blazer. “Teal’c, what about you?”
He accepted the doll she handed him, then selected a blue tulle gown. He considered for a moment, then said, “This doll is attending the inauguration of the President of the United States.”
“Cool,” said Cassandra. “How about you, Mom?”
“What?” Janet said. “I forgot how annoying these little shoes are.”
Her daughter laughed. “I’ll help…”
C is for… Cat’s Cradle
“Hi,” said Cassandra, knocking lightly on the open lab door. “Do you have a minute?”
Sam immediately set down the electronics she’d been working on. “For you, Cassie? Always.”
Grinning, the girl held up a loop of string. “I think we’re doing this wrong.”
“An Earth game called Cat’s Cradle,” said Teal’c, joining them.
“We followed the instructions,” added Cassandra, pointing to the book he carried. “But it doesn’t work right.”
“Well, you have come to the right place,” said Sam. “I was an expert at cat’s cradle in grade school.”
“Really?” the girl asked.
“Oh, sure. It was kind of a fad when I was a kid. I liked it because it was part problem-solving and part physics, but it was also great for meeting new people.”
Cassandra had been watching Sam weave the string between her fingers, and she looked up suddenly, frowning. “But I bet you were great at making friends.”
“I was terrible, actually,” Sam admitted, cheerfully. “My dad was in the Air Force, but he wasn’t stationed in one place, like I am. We moved all over the world, so I was always the new kid.”
“That sucks,” said Cassandra.
Sam laughed. “Yeah, it kinda did. But it was much easier to talk to people if I could offer them a game of cat’s cradle.” She held up the string, now laced across her fingers. “Let’s play.”
“Teal’c first,” Cassandra said.
The Jaffa nodded agreement, and took hold of the string in the two places where it crossed, then flipping them under. When he pulled his hands apart, the string was in a different shape around his fingers.
“This part, Cassandra-Fraiser and I understand,” he said. “Each formation can be changed to another. But where is the challenge to this game?”
“Ah,” said Sam. “You’re right, there are only so many configurations. Most of the kids who usually play this game don’t have any idea about the physics – or, most of the time, the fine motor skills – to get bored so early. So, for you guys, the real key is speed.”
“Speed?” Cassandra repeated, and the older woman grinned.
Half an hour later, when one of the civilian scientists came looking for Sam’s signature, he found her cheerfully explaining what sounded like the basics of string theory, while Teal’c pondered the Super Spider configuration of cat’s cradle that Cassandra was holding out to him.
C is for… Cartoon Movies
“Thank you for coming along for this, Teal’c,” said General Hammond, climbing carefully into the passenger seat of the motor-pool sedan. “Especially on short notice.”
“It is no trouble. Cassandra-Fraiser and I appreciate being included in your family outing.”
The older man smiled. Kayla and Tessa, his granddaughters, were already in the backseat, giggling with Cassandra between them. Teal’c waited until they had all put on their seatbelts, then eased the car onto the road.
“Well,” said Hammond, “I heard about how you and Cassie were learning more about American culture, and I’d been planning to invite you anyway. Just your bad luck I ended up with a sprained ankle and you end up driving.”
“I consider it good luck,” said Teal’c. “I enjoy driving.”
“Even in this traffic?” Hammond laughed, just as there was a squeal from the backseat.
“Grandpa!” said Tessa. “Cassie says she’s never been to a movie before!”
“I have,” Cassandra protested. “Mom took me to see It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas.”
“That doesn’t count,” said Kayla. “This is a new movie, at the megaplex. Ooh, Grandpa, can we get popcorn?”
“Popcorn?” repeated Cassandra.
“Yes, we can get popcorn,” said Hammond.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Teal’c. “Which film is scheduled for tonight?”
“I don’t know,” the general admitted. “Girls?”
“It’s Tarzan, Grandpa,” said Tessa.
Teal’c nodded. “Based on the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
“Really?” chorused all three girls.
Hammond laughed. “A little above your reading level, but you should try them in a few years.”
“Maybe I will,” said Cassandra, thoughtfully.
C is for… Construction
“Good night, doc!” called Jack, from his open front door. “See you later! Drive safe!”
When Janet’s car had turned at the end of the street, he whirled, closing the door behind him.
“She’s gone,” he said, clapping his hands. “Now we can have some fun.”
“We could not have fun before Doctor-Fraiser’s departure?” asked Teal’c.
“Of course not,” said Jack. “Moms and doctors never let you have any real fun, T, you know that.”
“What kind of fun are we going to have, then?” asked Cassandra.
Jack grinned. “We’re gonna build a fort.”
Both aliens looked curiously around his living room. “A what?” the girl asked.
“We need blankets,” he said. “And pillows. Cassie, get the quilt and all the pillows, from my room – you know where that is?”
She nodded and raced off.
“T, help me move some chairs…”
By the time Cassandra returned, they’d rearranged most of the furniture. It took a few more blankets from the linen closet, added to the quilt and pillows, before Jack stopped and looked at what they’d built.
“Nice,” he said.
Teal’c arched an eyebrow. “What is the purpose of this structure, O’Neill?”
“For fun, Teal’c,” the colonel explained. “Cassie, you first.”
There was barely enough room inside for all three of them – Teal’c’s feet stuck out under the blanket after he laid down – but Jack grinned, holding out an arm for Cassandra to wriggle closer to him.
“This is nice,” she said. “And we just… lay here?”
“Sure,” said Jack. Then, he paused. “We might need snacks later.”
“Indeed,” said Teal’c.