Her shoulders fatigued, Janet struggled to free her hands. She flexed one arm, then the other, but the bindings held tight. Straining forward, she tried to see out the doorway. Janet had no idea why the natives had detained her and Sam.
SG-1 and Janet had been on P7X-294 for three days, helping the indigenous population with a widespread, non-lethal virus which made the natives break out in painful, itchy blisters. The virus was easy to treat, but it was time-consuming to inoculate everyone and to treat the worst of the blisters. They still needed another day to finish.
On a well-earned break, Janet and Sam took a walk on the outskirts of the village, during which Sam spied a small animal. It looked like a cross between a squirrel and a cat. It was strange but cute.
"Oh, no. Look, Janet. It's hurt." When Sam bent to check out the creature's injury, it skittered away from her, colliding into Janet's boot.
Before she knew it, the little thing clambered up Janet's leg and firmly attached itself to her left arm, holding on with all four limbs and its unexpectedly prehensile tail. Its body, not including the tail, was five or six inches long, and it couldn't have weighed more than three pounds.
"It certainly picked the right person to go to for help," Sam said, smiling.
Surprised, and not sure what to do with the alien creature, Janet just stared at it for a couple of seconds. "What the hell am I supposed to do with it?" she asked.
Janet looked at Sam who was grinning ear-to-ear. "Fix it? I don't even know what it is."
"But you're a doctor, and you know how to treat wounds. Just treat its wound."
"I don't know, Sam. Anything I do could make it worse." The creature let out a quiet whimper, and Janet knew she was sunk. There was no way she could not help the cute, little thing. "Okay."
She had just finished cleaning and bandaging its wound when a small group of natives arrived on the scene. That's when she and Sam were taken into custody without explanation.
Hearing voices, Janet once again strained to see out the doorway of the small hut she was being held in, but the voices quickly faded. Janet had no idea how long she'd been tied up, and she was worried about Sam. They had been separated when they returned to the village, and she didn't know where the natives were holding her friend. Despite the soreness in her arms and shoulders, Janet dozed.
Janet was startled awake by Colonel O'Neill's voice.
"Well, you've managed to get yourself in quite a pickle, Doc."
She looked up at him and found herself feeling irritated by the smirk on his face. "Just tell me what's going on. Where's Sam? Is she okay?"
"Carter's fine. She was released a couple of hours ago."
"And what about me?"
Jack looked away and scuffed the toe of his boot in the dirt. "I'm afraid your situation is a little more difficult."
"What did I do wrong? Why are they holding me?"
He finally looked her in the eye. "Apparently, that little critter you doctored is sacred to these people. You should have never touched it."
"How the hell was I supposed to know that?" she snapped, her frustration boiling to the surface. "Besides, it decided to use me as a tree before I cleaned and dressed it's wound."
"You couldn't know. None of us knew. But, this isn't the first time SG-1 has run into a situation like this. It'll get worked out. It's just going to take some negotiation."
"So how long do you think I'm going to be tied up here?"
"I don't know, Doc. The chief will only negotiate with another chief, and they've made it clear that I don't qualify. Carter and Daniel have returned to the SGC with the chief's representative. From what I understand, they're negotiating the rules of the negotiation."
Janet closed her eyes and hung her head. "Ah, hell. This is going to take forever."
"If I had my way, you'd already be home," O'Neill groused.
She looked up at him. "No. Not that way, Colonel."
He gave her a slight nod before crouching down and gazing into her eyes. Janet was struck by the earnestness she saw in his eyes.
"Doc... rest assured, I won't let anything happen to you." He took a deep breath and gave her his trademark smirk. "Besides, SG-1 has a reputation to maintain."
He nodded. "In the meantime, is there anything I can do, or get for you?"
"Get them to let me go to bathroom."
"On it," he replied, before rising and exiting the hut.
The next time Janet woke up, one of the natives roughly grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the hut. She was brought to the clearing where the stargate stood. General Hammond and small contingent of natives, including the chief, were waiting. She started to say something, but she was struck dumb when the general turned and knelt down on one knee in front of her and took hold of her right hand.
"Dr. Fraiser, I apologize for my delay in coming to your assistance."
The look in his eyes clearly told her to play along, so she gave him a curt nod. "That's all right, General. You're here now."
Hammond stood up. "Chief Verkal and I have discussed the situation, and I believe we have cleared up the misunderstanding concerning the otori. The chief was not aware that in addition to being our healer, that you are also our mage."
"And, of course, only a mage is allowed to touch the otori."
"Yes, of course."
"Obviously, since it was hurt, it must have known you were a mage and turned to you for help. Now that we have everything straightened out and all their people have been treated and inoculated, we can return home."
"Very well, General."
A servant of Chief Verkal handed Janet her pack, which she slipped on. The general dialed the DHD, sent his IDC, and then held his arm out to Janet. She slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow, and they stepped through the gate.
In the gate room, Janet immediately let go of his arm and turned to General Hammond, blushing. "Sir, I'm sor—"
"Let me stop you right there, Doctor. It was my pleasure to be able to come to your rescue," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "You did absolutely nothing wrong. It's not your fault you just happened to run afoul of some local superstition. It's not the first time something like this happened, and it certainly won't be the last. It's a risk the teams face every time we go through the gate. It's not often an old guy like me gets to play the knight in shining armor," he finished with a smile.
She returned his smile. "Yes, sir... and thank you."
Following her post-mission physical, Janet was in her office. Before calling it a day, she wanted to inventory her medical pack so she could get it resupplied before the next time she needed it. She opened the top flap and suddenly had a small otori skittering up the right arm of her BDU shirt until it was perched on her shoulder. She let out a yelp and jumped back.
"What the hell!"
"Is something wrong, Doctor?" came Captain Annie Richardson's voice from the hallway just outside her office half a second before she appeared in the doorway.
Janet looked at her suddenly empty shoulder and wondered where the little critter had gone, until she felt a small tug on the back of her shirt... and then the back of her BDU pants. "No. Everything's fine, Annie," she told her head nurse. "I just think I'm a little more tired than I thought I was. I'll be heading home as soon as I finish the inventory of my pack."
"Okay. Just let me know if you need any help."
"I will. Please, close the door. Thank you."
Annie closed the door, and Janet whirled around. "All right, you little critter, where are you?"
Before she even finished her question, the otori clambered up her leg and torso and tucked itself into the crook of her neck, where it proceeded to softly purr. She brought her hand up and tenderly pet the little creature.
"I got in trouble for just touching you on 294. I can only imagine how upset they'll be about taking you through the stargate." She bit her lower lip, debating what to do. Finally, she decided. "Well, you are my patient," she said, her eyes twinkling.
When Dr. Fraiser signed out of the mountain, the sergeant on duty thought he saw the doctor's coat pocket move, but accepting the clipboard back from her without comment, he decided it had to be a trick of the light and shadows.