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Title: Cairo
Author name: Icarus
Author email: icarus_ancalion@yahoo.com
Count:
Category: Slash
Sub Category: Humor
Rating: PG
Pairing: Jack/Daniel
Summary: Jack walks in on Daniel's latest bizarre interest.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright © 2004 by Icarus Ancalion. All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually generous with my stories.
Author notes: Written for Lizard, unbeta'd.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Cairo (a.k.a. Allahu Alssamadu)
By Icarus

Jack rapped on Daniel's screen door, a tinny, aluminum rattle, but he obviously couldn't be heard over the rise and fall of chanting. The voice called "Al-akba!"-something-something, a flowing musical sound. Jack finally just let himself in, dumped the groceries on Daniel's counter and turned the corner to find Daniel kneeling on the living room floor, eyes closed, his lips moving voicelessly to the recording.

"What the hell's that?" He was used to weird sounds coming out of Daniel, but usually his taste in music was normal. If a little new-age-y and bland.

Daniel startled, blinking and shaking his head a little. "Oh. I'm studying the Koran." He reached up and turned the stereo down. "It really is meant to be heard rather than read."

"Islam?" Jack frowned. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't those guys just attack us?"

"No..." Daniel turned to him, lips parted in surprise. "A bunch of crazies did."

"Yeah." Jack nodded slowly. "Like I said..."

"There are four billion Muslims, Jack. I think we'd notice if they all attacked."

"I noticed all those people dead in New York."

"Here. Listen to this." Daniel sighed and turned up the jibber-jabber, shifting to sit cross-legged on the shag carpet. Jack listened for several moments with a puzzled expression on his face, arms folded.

"It says - loosely translated of course-" Daniel never missed the disclaimers, "-that one can defend oneself but that 'Allah loves not the aggressor.'"

"Hunh." It could very well say 'bananas, ten dollars a bunch,' but Jack took his word for it.

"Anyways, I have a hard time reconciling what is said in the Koran with what people, some people, do. But it's always like that with religious philosophies."

"It brings out the crazy in all of us?" Jack quipped, recalling Daniel practically talking to himself a minute before.

"No. They make handy excuses when you're pissed off." He turned up the chanting, eyes shut amid the clutter of his living room.

Jack looked around, slightly bored, if a little curious. Some people's houses never changed, but Daniel was always adding things, moving things around-usually accompanied with a different pile of books on the coffee table or a new hobby. Sure enough, there was the pile, with more stuff spilled onto the couch. A cloth embroidered with Arabic script was now draped over a picture frame. Jack shifted uncomfortably. He'd seen all too much of that in Iraq. He shoved aside some of the books and settled on the couch, wondering if he could put his feet up or if that was sacrilege. He was never keen on this religious stuff.

Daniel ignored him and started making quiet, small gestures, hands at his chest, then hands up….

This was too weird. "What are doing?"

"Huh?"

Daniel stopped, dropping his hands. "Oh. I didn't realize I was doing that." He smiled, eyes vague and distant. "When I was five or six my parents were in Cairo, stocking up between digs. We'd been there a lot, and five times a day there'd be this... sound... this singing voice throughout the city, from the rooftops, everywhere. Almost everyone would stop and leave. It was like a magic spell was cast. Well, I was a pretty curious little kid."

"No. You?" Jack smirked, but he was listening, soaking this in.

Daniel snickered, still with a distant smile. "It had been nagging at me for a while, I remember. So I just sort of..." he made a little wave with his hands, "…followed them. I guess I was a little late and small enough that nobody noticed me when I stepped into these beautiful arched buildings, following the sound. People were bowing and reciting, and it was all so peaceful.

"I suppose people must have noticed me then, but they stuck to their prayers. They were doing the same things, so I started imitating the men," Daniel said, slightly starry-eyed, repeating a few of the gestures. "Later, the Sufis were very amused. They bought me some juice while we waited for my parents to find me."

Jack stared, elbows planted on his knees. "You were in Cairo and your parents lost track of you?"

"Well… I was pretty good at giving my babysitters the slip, but yeah, they were frantic. I was in a lot of trouble." Daniel smiled guiltily. "But after the Sufis told them what had happened, they thought it was adorable. They asked me to show them what I learned and the Sufis walked me through it again. They took a lot of pictures." He stood and pulled an old bound volume off a shelf. "I have some of them here, I think."

"Baby pictures?" Jack perked up, reaching for it. Blackmail time. "You've been holding out on me."

Daniel handed him the photo album and Jack started paging through.

Daniel had definitely been an only child: there were tons and tons of pictures of very blond, grubby little kid. No naked pictures to tease Daniel with, disappointingly.

"Anyways, I can't seem to reconcile that memory with all the crazy stuff." Daniel looked wistful. "Sometimes when I miss my family I play some recordings from Cairo, or listen to the recitation."

Daniel turned up the floaty chanting while Jack checked out the photo album.

Camels and people in turbans, a picture of a huge crew at what looked like a flattened construction site where Daniel stood out like a white dot--he turned the page--and smiling very intellectual-looking parents. They both wore glasses, Jack noted, deciding Daniel looked more like his mother. Then there was his grandfather Nick, looking a lot younger, in front of a museum display.

And museums, museums, and more museums... they all started to blur together.

Jack pointed to a later picture, one that was more recognizably Daniel, albeit skinny with white-blond hair and ultra-tanned skin. But the glasses had finally appeared. "Where was this?"

"Oh, I dunno. The museums all seemed the same, just different layouts that everyone would argue over," Daniel said absently. Jack returned to the earlier Cairo pictures which were at least a place, and studied them. Pyramids. Colorful clothes and dark smiling faces, masses of people funneled through narrow city streets. Definitely not Iraq, which was wide open and… gray. Filled with soldiers and modern stuff. Like an oasis in the desert, only without the oasis part.

This was more like Europe. Only… not.

You didn't see much at thirty-six thousand feet anyway. Daniel's lips moved with the chants, but he didn't say anything, seeming a million miles away.

"I'd like to go there with you sometime," Jack mused, surprising himself as he said it.

"To a mosque?" Daniel blinked, startled from his reverie.

"No. To there--to Cairo." Jack gestured to the photos.

"Oh. Yeah, I guess it is the closest thing I have to a 'hometown.'" Daniel pressed a finger to his lip, thoughtful. "It probably looks really different now. I haven't been back there in over fifteen years."

"Then it's about time you went." Jack shut the book, decided.

"All right... yeah. Let's do it." His face returned to the present, eyes sparkling and lively. "But you can't go to Cairo without at least visiting a mosque." Daniel smirked at Jack victoriously.

Jack's eyes narrowed at him, thinking this over.

"Okay. Deal." Then he jabbed a finger at Daniel. "But start wearing a turban and I'm leaving you there."

~*~*~*~*~

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