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My Runny Vampenstein

Summary: Joy set this FDAS Valentine's challenge, and this is my answer. And it's dedicated to her, too :-))
The theme is 'Red', and the fic must include, red roses with large prickly thorns, a pair of red dice, candle(s), chocolate pudding, a broken cellphone, rain and a deck of cards. Let's just say that at some point, I took her exactly at her word *eg*.
Many thanks to Eos for the beta, and many apologies to Terry Pratchett. Carpe Jugulum will never be the same again.

"What I wouldn't give for a big, thick, runny chocolate pudding right about now," Jack sighed.

Daniel looked at him with an eyebrow raised. Not that Jack could see him do it in the flickering candlelight, but he somehow knew that Daniel had done it. He didn't mention it though. After all their years together, he had learned that sometimes it was just easier in the long run to plead ignorance on any matters that even resembled emotions.

"Why that?" Daniel asked, sitting on the floor next to him, regretting it when he felt his ass get damp and standing back up again, casually (at least he tried to do casual) wiping away the muck that had attached itself to him.

"Well," Jack drawled. "I like it. Besides, they say that chocolate is good for lifting the spirits. And in my humble opinion," he added, ignoring the snort from Daniel as he did, "pudding lifts the spirits. So a chocolate pudding should have me so cheerful that..."

"...I'd be well within my rights to shoot you?" Daniel interrupted.

He didn't want to have his spirits raised. Not under the circumstances, anyway.

Jack was about to argue with him (for the sake of it, and for something to do if he was honest) when there was a noise from the corridor. Not that it was just any old corridor, oh no. Nothing but the best dungeon would do for the galaxy's most famous snake hunters. Their current host, while not a snake of any description, had really pushed the boat out on their behalf. It was dark, dank, damp and dismal. Jack had got as far as the Ds. Earlier it had been acrid, abominable, abysmal... base, brackish, charmless... crap. Daniel had threatened him with bodily harm as he'd started on the Es, so he'd shut up, thinking that he'd continue it in his mind. Maybe later.

For now, he was up, on his feet and making his way to the door, grabbing his companion and pulling Daniel to stand behind him.

"Uh, Jack, he knows I'm here," Daniel murmured. "Besides, you might be a little taller than me but I'm generally bigger than you. He's going to see me anyway."

Jack snorted. He felt he had to keep Daniel away from danger. After all, as everyone knew, Daniel was the universe's prime target. At least various bits of Daniel's body were the universe's prime targets. It seemed that no bad guy or gal anywhere could resist the blinky eyes, the tongue that flicked over the kissable lips, the muscular arms...

Jack adjusted his stance (and another part of his anatomy) and pushed Daniel back into the shadows. He wasn't taking any chances. Not after last time out. Oh no. By the time Jack had broken out of his cell on the previous mission, Daniel had been taken to the local snake's boudoir and had been tied up, naked, on the bed which had been strewn with roses beforehand. Daniel wouldn't have minded so much if the snake had given her romantic moment a little more thought before laying him on the roses. Removing the large, prickly thorns would have done a hell of a lot more for Daniel's mood. Jack had had to spend ten minutes picking out the remains of the roses before Daniel would let himself be rescued, as he hadn't been able to face letting the nurses of the infirmary do it. Not after what had happened on the mission before that one...

The door creaked open and Jack prepared himself to jump his captor, stopped for a moment, took one look at the captor's gaoler and decided that Daniel was on his own. The guy was massive! Square bodied, square headed... uh, was that a bolt going through his neck?

"You. Come with me. My marthter wisheth to thee you."

Jack wiped the spittle off his face before asking, "Me? Why me?"

"How should I know? I jutht follow orderth. Perthonally, I would rather the thweet lathie in the thell necktht door."

Jack wondered if this guy came with a health warning. He should do.

"Hey, keep your hands off of her."

The gaoler lifted his huge hands and looked at them intently before lowering them.

"They're not mine," he said. "I'm looking arfter them for a friend."

He put one of the loaned hands on Jack's shoulder and gripped him tightly, propelling him towards the door. Daniel considered trying to jump him, just for show, then decided that Jack would probably prefer him to remain in one piece.

"Uh, excuse me?" he called out. "Our friends, are they okay?"

"They are well. Why do you not thpeak to them?"

"HOW? The walls are three feet thick!"

He'd been able to work that out as there was a single window at the top of the dungeon wall and the bars were set at least eighteen inches into it, with the same distance on the other side. That window was the only source of fresh air, which would have been great except for the fact that it was pissing down with rain and the wind was blowing it in through the gap, making a dark, dank, damp dungeon even more dismal.

"You do not need to shout. You can uthe the communication devithe. My marthter ith very conthiderate to hith guethtth."

"What communication device?" Jack howled. He hadn't seen one.


The gaoler dragged Jack over to what looked like the cover of an old-fashioned fuse box. He opened it and inside it was something that resembled a telephone handset.

"Your friends are in thell number thikth. Juth push the button and thpeak."

"Great. Thanks."

"You are welcome. We mutht go or my marthter will be motht dithpleathed."

"Uh, before you go, we're getting kind of bored in here. Have you got something that could help me pass the time, maybe?" Daniel asked plaintively.

The gaoler put his spare hand into his pocket (it was an extra hand he'd sewn to the side of his hip, just in case he lost one of the others) and pulled out a small box which he handed to Daniel.

"Here. Try thith."

"Uh, great. Thanks."

The gaoler grunted, pushed Jack through the door and soon slammed it behind him. Daniel headed straight for the phone, picked it up, pressed six and immediately got a message in what he thought sounded like a phony Eastern European accent.

"Ze numberrr you arrre dialinck ees not available. Pleeze, trrry again later."

"Great," he muttered to himself. "A broken cellphone."

He sat under a candle to make the most of what little light he had, opened the box and found what looked like some playing cards. They might have been more inviting to play with if the pictures on the back of the cards hadn't been images of dead people with blood trickling down their necks. Somehow, it didn't really fill him with confidence.

"Ah ha!"

Jack jumped a mile when he heard the voice. He'd been standing in a dark room for ages. There was precious little light in there, but he could see that the walls were painted red. At least he hoped it was paint. He wasn't completely convinced by that. The coffin (not a sarcophagus, he'd managed to figure out) which took pride of place near the elaborate fireplace didn't do a lot to make him feel at ease. There was something just that little too Gothic there for his tastes.

"So, you are here," the voice said.

Jack couldn't place its location, it seemed to be everywhere and yet nowhere. That didn't do much for his state of mind.

"Uh, it would seem so," he said, trying to sound calm. "Where are you?"

The loud, long, 'mwahahahaha' that he heard really started to get on his tits. After all, wasn't this a little too clichéd? Didn't every one know how much he hated them by now?

"I am here," he finally heard. Right behind him. Somewhere near his neck. Nope, that didn't help his mood one little, tiny, teensy bit.

"Shit! Would ya give me a break?" Jack demanded. "I'm getting kinda ticked, ya know."

There was a flash of lightning which he was able to see through a small crack in the shutters. That made him jump too. He thought he could represent the US in the next Olympics at this rate. High jump specialist. All someone would have to do would be to blindfold him and shout 'Boo!' and he'd be setting a new record.

By the time he recovered, his 'host' was right in front of him. Jack wished he wasn't.

"Who are you?" he asked, trying hard not to lose his temper.

"My name ees Count Vlad Drachma."

"Drachma? You mean Dracula, don'tcha?"

"No. He vas my cousin. My muzzer vas hees muzzer's seester. I am from ze Greek side of ze familee."

"You don't sound Greek," Jack accused.

"So? I have been avay for many yeeers. Besides, eet ees not nice to make fahn ov somevan's speech impedeement."

"Oh, I wasn't making fun. Just remarking on the accent," Jack soothed.

If he'd been honest, he probably was making fun, but then he knew that sometimes honesty was definitely not the best policy. After all, if he'd told Daniel just how good he looked in that black suit, instead of telling him that he looked like the dog's dinner, Daniel would have worn the damned thing. In public. And he knew that was asking for trouble. Just... no. Ya know?

"Anyway," he tried to get back on track. "Are you going to tell me what you want of me?"

"I vas just going to eenvite you to deenner."

"Dee... er, dinner? What's on the menu?"

He really didn't like it when the Count looked him up and down and did the evil laugh thing again. Nope, he really didn't like it.

Daniel was bored. A little worried about Jack, too, but mainly bored. He'd tried playing solitaire, but after years of playing it on the computer, he kept waiting for the noise to tell him he'd made a mistake, and trying to click a non-existent mouse to turn the pack was a waste of time. So, instead, he started to build a house with them on the small ledge that purported to be a bench seat.

The door suddenly opened, Jack entered the cell, looking more than a little dazed. Daniel was up on his feet in moments and grabbed hold of him, forcing Jack to look into his eyes.

"Jack, Jack, are you all right?"

"Hmm. I'm fine," Jack replied, shaking his head.

"Who did you meet? What happened?"

"Uh... let's sit down, eh?"

Daniel led him to the bench seat and Jack looked down at the - admittedly grand - house in front of him.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Uh, a house," Daniel replied, moving to pick them up.

"I can see that. What's that in front of it?"

"Oh, that bit's the garden, and here, where I've raised the level, that's a deck."

"A deck of cards?"

Daniel shrugged. "I needed something to do!"

He put the cards away in the box, pulled Jack to sit down, wrapped his arm around him and held him close.

"Tell me," he ordered. "What happened?"

"Well, I met our host," Jack replied. "Count Vlad Drachma. Don't ask, his family tree is complicated," he added quickly. "Anyway, he invited me to dinner, started to lead me to the 'dining' room, wherever that was, stopped to show me his new, super-dooper coffin..." He stopped and looked at Daniel with a confused look on his face. "He said it was the upgraded version. Inside it was something that looked like a wind up gramophone. What put me off it were the two red furry dice that he had hanging from the lid. Downright tacky, if you know what I mean."

Daniel squeaked. It was either that or answer him. He wasn't sure if he could.

"Anyway..." Jack tried again, trying to recall what happened next. "I... Ya know, I have no idea what happened next."

"Were you drugged?" Daniel asked.

"I don't think so," he replied. "I remember him saying something about Teal'c giving him indigestion, but..."

Daniel squeaked again.

"Have we got mice in here?" Jack asked, looking around in a bewildered manner.

"Uh... probably. Here. Let me hold you for a moment. You look cold."

"Cold. Right. I'm cold."

Daniel failed to mention the little puncture wounds on the side of Jack's neck. He figured he could leave that to Janet. All they needed to do was get out of there.

"I'm going to send SG-3 some flowers," Jack said as the nurses tucked him up in bed. "That was one hell of a rescue."

"I thought you wanted to get out of the infirmary sooner rather than later, Jack," Daniel called from where he was being examined. He was getting out of there, but Janet had insisted on Jack staying the night.

Jack thought about that for a moment then agreed with him. It probably wouldn't be a good idea. Maybe some chocolates instead? Hmm, that reminded him.

"Hey, I'm hungry. Don't suppose there's any chocolate pudding on offer, is there?"