Blood Oranges

by Jane Davitt

Teal'c drops the orange peel onto his tray, an emptied hollow, a shed skin, and splits off a segment of the flesh. As he bites into it, a pip, slippery, small, catches in his throat. He coughs, swallows, and tastes blood.

Not his. A memory, no more. This fruit grows on other worlds than this -- the Goa'uld have seen to that -- and the false god, Apophis, loved their sweet, tangy juice. Teal'c has seen cartons of orange juice in the supermarket, stacked high, kept cool; a bewildering variety of it. Extra pulp, no pulp, Florida, Grovestand, made from concentrate, added calcium… Apophis had merely asked for the juice when he wanted it and a slave had squeezed it from the fruit, kneeling in front of her god at a small, low table set with golden tools worth many times more than the slave.

The knife and strainer, jug and goblet did not need to be made of gold for that to be true, of course; a slave was worthless.

And that slave, that day, had been careless and allowed a pip to remain in the juice.

The blood that had sprayed when the slave was beheaded had painted Teal'c's face and dripped onto his lips, heavy and sticky. He'd wiped it away when he could, but by then it had dried, flaking off, dull and dark, like the slave's eyes in death.

Mit'ra. That had been her name.

And he had been as angry as Apophis that she had offered their god a less than perfect service and pleased with himself for the smoothness of his stroke.

Teal'c recalls another juice he has seen offered for sale, expensive this one, in a small glass bottle.

Blood orange.


He thinks he knows what that tastes like, too.

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