Three weeks after the Jedi left through the Stargate, Daniel had the nightmare. Jack heard his screams from the next room, and rushed in to see his body twisting and arching off the bed, muscles tensed and locked. He could neither calm nor wake Daniel, and yelled for assistance. Dr. Frasier was forced to sedate the scientist in fear that he would hurt himself. Daniel slept through the next day and woke to the concerned faces of his SGC-1 team members.
"Hey, Daniel, good to see those eyes finally. How ya feeling?" Jack asked.
"I'm okay. I'm…" Teal'c helped him sit up, holding his shoulders so he could sip water to relieve a voice sore and dry from screaming. "I'm okay."
"Do you remember what happened, Daniel? You had a nightmare." Sam's worry resonated in her tone.
Daniel refused to provide any explanation. He would only say he remembered being in great pain. Physically, he was tired but healthy, and Dr. Frasier released him. It was only later, when Daniel and Jack took a walk outside the Stargate compound, that Daniel admitted the truth. "It was Obi-Wan, Jack. I'm sure of it. I couldn't tell what happened, but he was in pain like I've never known."
Sam might have argued that, logically, Daniel couldn't feel Obi-Wan a universe away, least of all with the bond between the two broken. Jack accepted Daniel's statement, wrapping an arm around him and giving silent comfort through his touch. "Is he okay?"
"He's alive. That's all I can tell."
"He's a Jedi." Jack bolstered. "He'll be fine. Whatever happened, Qui-Gon will look after him."
Daniel's blue eyes reflected worry and concern but he accepted the reassurance. Jack kissed him, using the warmth of his touch to provide solace. The two meandered through the forests surrounding the SGC compound, a habit they had developed since becoming lovers during the Jedis’ earlier visit. Sometimes Sam or Teal’c or Janet would join them, and they would talk idly of missions and the ongoing ping pong tournament which had developed to relieve the stress of a large number of people essentially trapped in a secret government base performing highly classified work. When they were alone, they occasionally spoke of their relationship, but Jack was military, unwilling to jeopardize his career, and Daniel was tied to Shau'ri. Mostly, they agreed to live in the moment and accept life as it happens, a Jedi axiom that Daniel had offered and Jack accepted.
Unexpectedly one morning a few weeks later the Stargate Chevron wheel started circling, signaling an incoming traveler. The entire base went on alert as Daniel dashed into the control room. "It's Obi-Wan, General. Obi-Wan's returning."
"Confirmed. Signal matches the device given to the Jedi," stated the control technician.
"Good. Maybe the Jedi Council have decided to help us. Open the iris and let them arrive," instructed Hammond.
Daniel left the control center and reached the Stargate room by the time Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi stepped through the liquid surface of the wormhole and walked down the ramp. He hugged each of them as Hammond and the other SGC-1 members entered the room.
"May I dare to hope that you have good news for us, Master Jinn?" Hammond cut straight to his fondest wish.
"Actually, General, the Jedi Council are still mediating on the difficulties of assisting a world on another dimensional plain. A number of traumas in our own galaxy have strained Jedi resources. I have come with a personal request. If you and I might talk in private…?"
Hammond nodded assent and gestured for Qui-Gon to walk in front of him. “We’ll talk in my office."
Qui-Gon looked briefly at Obi-Wan. "Wait with Daniel."
"So Obi-Wan, anyone tell you that you look like hell?" Obi-Wan laughed sardonically at Jack's truthful bluntness. The younger Jedi's skin was pale and drawn, with the weary air of a person living beyond his limits.
"Jack," both Sam and Daniel said reproachfully.
"No, he's right." Obi-Wan conceded. "I haven't….been well. I'd love some lunch. Maybe a pastrami sandwich?" he said, remembering one of Daniel's favorites that he'd only tasted through assimilated memories.
In the General's office, Qui-Gon faced a man he instinctively liked and trusted, due to his own judgment of people and Obi-Wan's opinion colored through Daniel's experience. "As you might notice, my Padawan needs assistance. We were on a mission that I believed to be routine, and I allowed myself to be separated from him. Unfortunately, he was overpowered and…" Qui-Gon trailed off, hating to acknowledge with words what his apprentice had suffered.
"Brutalized?" Hammond offered. "About three weeks ago, by our time?"
"Yes. How did you know?" Qui-Gon was surprised at the accuracy of the date, but not by Hammond's guess at what had happened to Obi-Wan. Most men who have fought wars recognize the too-fragile composure of a recovering vet.
"Daniel had a hysterical nightmare at the time. He had to be sedated for a day. He wouldn't talk about it."
"I see. I did not realize that such remnants of their temporary bond would remain, or I would have come sooner to check on Daniel. I rescued Obi-Wan and the Jedi healers have cured the pains of his body, but I fear part of his soul is shattered. His mind has been closed to me, his shields tightly locked around every thought."
"So why bring him here, to Earth? What can we do that the Jedi healers cannot? Based on Doctor Jackson's report, your medicine is extremely more advanced than ours." Hammond patted one hand on an inch thick report on his desk. Daniel had started writing after the Jedi had left and continued in every spare moment, documenting all the knowledge he gained from Obi-Wan's mind. He had printed an initial report for the General and SGC staff but still worked daily to add further detail on the Republic's different worlds.
"Obi-Wan made the request. I believe he has decided what he needs to heal him, but he will not discuss it with me." Qui-Gon reflected whether to add the next information, having learned something of the American military from Obi-Wan's own exhaustive report to the Jedi Council about Earth and the fight against the Goa'uld. "Obi-Wan and I are not just teacher and student, but also lovers and life bond-mates. He has closed down his mind and body to me. I do not know what form his rehabilitation may take but I cannot guarantee it will be appropriate by your standards."
"I see. Well, Master Jinn, my position allows me a certain amount of latitude when dealing with aliens in need of assistance. I do not necessarily have that same flexibility with men under my own command." Hammond gave the Jedi Master a level look and was reassured by Qui-Gon's steady gaze and understanding nod. "Under those conditions, if it is in our capability to help you, we will." Hammond promised.
In the cafeteria, Sam studied the faces of the men surrounding her, the three men of SGC-1 who had become her dearest comrades, and the Jedi stranger who became an instant friend.
Sam was a woman who had struggled hard for success all her life. She had excelled in both the military and science, largely for her personal satisfaction but partially to gain her demanding father's respect. Curiously, fighting against the Goa'uld had resulted in the best and most exhilarating time of her life, despite the injuries and traumas. Within the SGC, she had decisively broken through the bias against women in the military. She used both her scientific and military skills on a daily basis, feeling as if she was benefiting the world while living the greatest adventure in history. One of the best advantages of the SGC, though, was having met these men and being able to count on their support and loyalty.
Jack and Daniel were telling Obi-Wan stories about their recent missions, an excursion which began relaxed and pleasantly routine before they discovered the planet was a big mud ball more than a proper world with a defined ecology. A wild mud fight ensued, leaving all four thickly encrusted with dirt before staggering back to the Stargate. Sam kept an amused smile while her mind roamed. She rarely thought of her personal life, but now dwelt on the men around here, wondering if she could ever have a relationship with one of them. She shared a military background with the Colonel and scientific curiosity with Daniel. Both men were attractive, funny, and caring. Teal'c was a fascinating man, but still something of a mystery due to his alien background. She barely knew Obi-Wan except through Daniel's writing, having only briefly talked to him on his previous visit. Sam thought of Qui-Gon, still in conversation with Hammond. Qui-Gon was undoubtedly the most handsome of the men, with his intriguing air of dignity and power. Obi-Wan shot Sam a brief flicker from lowered eyelids and Sam wondered momentarily if Obi-Wan could read minds. She told herself not to be silly. Daniel's report indicated telepathic rapport only between Masters/Padawans or bond mates but she dragged her mind back from daydream fantasy to present reality.
When the laughter died down, Jack switched conversational tactics. "So what do you want to do, Obi? Have any particular Earth memory you'd like to experience?" The colonel goaded smugly, "Pizza?"
Obi-Wan didn't hesitate, already reliving from Daniel's experiences. "I want to ride a motorcycle. I want to - what's the expression - feel the wind in my air and the freedom of the road."
"Whoa now. Bad idea. I know you're a great athlete, but you can't drive a car, much less a motorcycle."
"Of course, I can," Obi-Wan contradicted Jack. "I have Daniel's knowledge and Jedi skill."
"Daniel? Daniel?" Jack turned to his friend with a confused air. "You know how to ride a motorcycle?"
"Yes, Jack," Daniel sounded slightly hurt at Jack's shock. "I've ridden motorcycles on several digs Transportation can be pretty unreliable in middle eastern countries. I had to drive whatever was available. Why does that surprise everyone so much?" he asked, looking at the amazement reflected in Jack and Sam's faces. Even Teal'c showed a faint disbelief.
"You have never quite given the impression of being a 'wild one,' Daniel," responded Teal'c soberly.
O'Neill agreed, “Daniel, when I first met you, you were the most uncoordinated person I'd ever met. It’s hard to imagine you riding a motorcycle in a foreign country without breaking your head or at least a leg.”
“Jack, when you first met me, I was the new kid on the block, entering a project where the other scientists that had been stymied for months until I solved their problem. Then I sailed through space on a mission to another planet where I was despised by the military members of the team and led by a suicidal captain. They weren’t my finest hours.” Daniel risked a look at Obi-Wan and by his expressionless face, the younger man indicated that he wasn't going to mention that Daniel had indeed broken his leg at least once, plowing into a fruit stand and creating havoc among the Arab merchants.
Jack facially ouched at the reminder of his depression and self-absorption on that mission. “I never looked at it like that. You came through when we needed you,” Jack said, punching Daniel on the shoulder.
"Guittierez has a motorcycle," Sam offered. "And I think Elliott and Johnston."
Obi-Wan suggested, "We could go riding. Up through the mountains. The area is scenic but fairly deserted. Maybe we could overnight at a hotel and return tomorrow?" Despite his casual tone, the proposition indicated a certain level of pre-planning.
"But that's only 3 motorcycles," Sam asserted thinking they needed 6, only comprehending as she spoke this was likely to be one of those few 'guys-only' excursions. She accepted the slight and dodged the issue, "I can't think of any more bikes. What about Teal'c and Qui-Gon?"
Like Sam, the Jaffa knew he hadn't been invited and graciously deflected as well, "I cannot ride a motorcycle."
"Not Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan said firmly. "Just us three. Daniel, Jack, and I."
An awkward moment hit the table, one of those conversational breaks when the participants all realize something important has gone unsaid, but no one is quite sure what to say next. Obi-Wan's face was set, unwilling to explain his insistence on excluding his Master from the excursion.
Jack dispersed the tenseness, rising. "Okay, this could work if the guys let us have their bikes. As the Colonel here, it obviously falls to my responsibility to ask nicely or pull rank. Sam, Teal'c, you guys plan how to entertain Qui-Gon while he's visiting."
The SGC-1 team, Hammond and the Jedi stood in an open meadow close to the SGC compound. Daniel and Obi-Wan rode slow circles on the borrowed motorcycles, letting Obi-Wan become accustomed to the feel of the machine and Daniel to remember a sense of balance he hadn’t used in several years. Elliott was roughly Obi-Wan’s size and had loaned him black leather pants and a jacket. Daniel and Jack were making do with hiking boots, jeans, and leather jackets borrowed from Johnston and Guittierez.
"You do realize that this is a damn fool idea, don’t you Colonel?” Hammond inquired of Jack.
Jack’s response was straight forward. “I realize Daniel’s my friend and he needs to help Obi-Wan. And I realize the Jedi are extremely powerful and helping one of them could give us brownie points with the Council.”
“And do you know that there’s something more going on here than a simple road trip?" Hammond demanded. "A day in the open air hardly cures the trauma Obi-Wan has faced.”
“I realize that, General.” Jack internally debated his next statement, his loyalty to his commander requiring a certain element of honesty. “I realize that I’m going to help with whatever needs to happen, and that you’ve always been a commander wise enough not to ask for reports which include questions he doesn’t want answered.”
“I see, Colonel. Very well. Dismissed.” Hammond strode back into the SGC compound, somewhat confirming a blind eye would be turned as needed.
Daniel and Obi-Wan stopped circling, killing their engines. "Come on, Jack, let's go." Daniel said.
Sam gave a quick "Wait" and lifted her hands to Obi-Wan's head, removing the borrowed helmet. "The ponytail, can it be loosened?" Obi-Wan only responded by turning the back of his head toward her, giving permission. Sam pulled off the band and ran her fingers through his hair, making the strands curl around his head. "I know you won't quite blend in here on Earth but believe me - the ponytail is a definite fashion faux pas." Sam heard words within her head.
//Take care of Qui-Gon for me. I have denied him for weeks. He needs release.//
Sam blushed suddenly, realizing that Obi-Wan had read her thoughts back in the cafeteria. She dropped her voice low and her verbal response was covered by the sound of Jack revving his motorcycle. "Not if he loves you, he doesn't."
Obi-Wan merely shrugged, putting his helmet on and restarting his engine. Qui-Gon, Sam and Teal'c watched as the three riders roared off down the road, Daniel leading with Obi-Wan in the middle and Jack following to keep a wary eye on the pair. "Master Jinn, if I may request a favor?"
"Qui-Gon, please Teal'c."
Apophis' former First Prime coveted any opportunity to learn new military skills. The Jedi lightsaber was unlike any weapon on any Gou'ld planet. Mastering it would provide a superb advantage. General Hammond's only restriction on the trip was his order that Obi-Wan leave his Jedi foil with Qui-Gon. "The lightsaber. I would like to learn this weapon."
Qui-Gon lightly tossed the lightsaber in his hand, a weapon which had never willingly left Obi-Wan's possession since he built it seven years ago. The Jedi Master nodded his assent to the request.
Coasting to a stop on a wide shoulder on the road, Obi-Wan pulled off his helmet and gazed in frustration at the surrounding forest. Daniel and Jack parked next to him, all three men resting their feet on the ground to balance their motorcycles. "You know nothing about nature," Obi-Wan accused Daniel. "Nothing. I know these are evergreens but that's all."
"I could tell you a lot about the types of plant used to make papyrus," Daniel shrugged sheepishly. "Nature wasn't a big area of study for me."
Daniel's surprising lack made Jack the expert. "Those are different varieties of pines, lodgepole and ponderosa," Jack said pointing. "We passed some cottonwoods back a ways. Your favorite allergens, as I recall Daniel. The bushes are Utah Juniper. My Dad and I would go camping every year and he'd teach me the names. Then I took Charlie…" he trailed off reflectively. The thought of those fun camping trips brought back his sorrow. The pain came in ever smaller amounts as the years passed, but it always reappeared.
Daniel and Obi-Wan were silent, respecting Jack's grief. The men admired the beauty of the mountainous scenery before taking off down the twisting highway.
Teal’c faced Qui-Gon in one of the SGC exercise rooms, used by military and scientific personnel to keep in shape for missions and occupy downtime between off-world visits. Qui-Gon lit his lightsaber, holding it in front of him, gently swinging it back and forth.
“A lightsaber is an elegant weapon, not a weapon of brute force. It requires control and concentration and an awareness of the Force that surrounds us.”
“I am not familiar with your Force, Qui-Gon.”
An insighful trainer, Qui-Gon opened Teal'c to the life Force encompassing them. He taught by building on known experience, asking questions, allowing time to remember. “Do you know the scent of the air when danger is present? Have you risked your life for a comrade? Have you trusted an honest stranger? Have you opposed evil?” Qui-Gon could tell by Teal’c’s face that the answer to all his questions was affirmative. “Then you know more of the Jedi and more of the Force than you realize.” With that statement, he leaped forward, his lightsaber swinging high and plunging down toward the Jaffa. Teal'c’s lightsaber met his in mid-air and a controlled duel began.
To a Jedi Master, the fight began clearly one-sided. Qui-Gon reined in his experience and knowledge, keeping his strokes simple and easy to deflect. The lightsabers were on low power, and would create only a bad burn. But Teal'c had been destined to be a warrior from a young age. The majority of his life was devoted to training on numerous types of weapons and military strategies, many unimaginable to people on Earth. He easily picked up the saber's feel, returning swing for swing, attempting to add finesse to his parries. Sam watched enraptured as the flow of the battle quickly became more severe.
The grocery store was an astonishing success in Obi-Wan's litany of Earth experiences. The three were in a small mountain town, the kind where everyone knew not only everyone else, but also their parents, grandparents, and kids. Three strangers on motorcycles would be fodder for discussion for months. Thirsty, Daniel entered the store to buy a soda. Obi-Wan gazed at the dilapidated front, murmuring, "It's a real grocery store. You go in and buy food."
Somewhat incredulously Jack hissed, "Don't you guys eat? You certainly seem to eat enough here." He fretted that Obi-Wan's fascination was on the verge of drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.
"We're always served meals at the Jedi Academy. Most of the time Qui-Gon and I travel on diplomatic missions, eating at state events. I've only ever cooked over an open fire when we had to travel alone on uncivilized planets. We either gathered our food or bought it from small venders."
"Young man," an elderly woman in a flowered dress and battered tennis shoes strode up to Obi-wan. From life she knew enough to look past the dangerous black leather to the kindness in Obi-Wan's eyes. "Haven't you ever seen a grocery store before?"
Obi-Wan gave her his sweetest, most winsome smile. "I'm from England, ma'am. I grew up isolated in private boarding schools. Staff always served me my meals. I admit it sounds odd, enjoying such a simple thing, but privilege has its down side, too." His crisp tones charmed the elderly woman.
"Yeah, England, he's a rich cousin who's visiting," Jack validated Obi-Wan's story.
"Is that how the young do their hair in England?" she asked, touching the braid drapping the front of his jacket. "Much nicer than those dreadful mohawks," she said conspiratorially.
"I'm Hazel Stevens. Welcome to Buttonwillow. You can help me push my cart." Hazel tucked her hand under Obi-Wan's arm and guided him into the store. "You remind me so much of my son, Harold." Obi-Wan picked up a quick mental flash of Harold, who was even stockier than General Hammond. The padawan recognized Hazel was using him as an excuse to enjoy the notoriety of having an intriguing stranger on her arm. Conversations at the Ladies' Garden Club would revolve around this incident for years.
Daniel exited the store as Obi-Wan and Hazel entered, giving them a surprised look. Jack shrugged as Daniel handed him a cola. "I guess we wait. Obi-Wan's going to help Hazel shop."
"Okay." Daniel popped the lid on his own cola. "They had disposable cameras so I grabbed one. I thought Obi-Wan might like some souvenirs of this trip."
The movie was less successful than Obi-Wan's lengthy chat with Hazel. By mid-afternoon, the three completed a large loop through the rolling hills and were traveling toward the SGC compound. They chose Whitneyville to spend the night as it was a town almost large enough to be considered a city. They parked their cycles at a hotel before walking over to the local movie theater, which had a grand selection of four screens. Jack and Daniel debated titles, finally selecting the newest science fiction film, which was actually several months old. Like many parochial towns, Whitneyville lagged behind the times in entertainment as well as social advances and attitudes.
Obi-Wan could barely stifle his laughter when the fighter ships roared through space in a deadly battle, the hissing noise of their lasers rumbling through the theatre. "You can't hear in space," he giggled to Daniel. "Where are all these sounds coming from?"
When the heroine was blown out an airlock but grabbed by the hero and pulled to safety, he totally lost it. He convulsed laughing as Jack and Daniel hustled him out of the theater to the relief of other moviegoers. "You can't survive decompression like that. You certainly can't pull someone to safety."
O'Neill felt publicly embarrassed. "It's a movie, for chrissake. Didn't you pick up that movies aren't reality from Daniel's memories?"
The Jedi paused to reflect. "Yes, but the movies were far less vivid than Daniel's actual recollections. I didn't realize the impact of watching a film. Except for the memory of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's seen that so many times, the image is very vivid." He put his hands on his hips, taking a step to the right.
Jack grabbed him before he time warped on the sidewalk, giving Daniel an astonished stare. The scientist distracted the Colonel by asking, "How about an early dinner? I'm getting hungry. The steak place by the hotel looked good."
"Steak!" Obi-Wan exclaimed. "Yes, steak and baked potatoes and salad and vegetables and some ice cream for dessert. I need to try these foods." Obi-Wan draped his arms loosely on Daniel's and Jack's shoulders and headed to another culinary delight.
The friends left behind also were eating an early dinner. Teal'c and Qui-Gon had exercised with lightsabers for several hours, Teal'c only scratching the surface of Qui-Gon's knowledge but challenging the Master more than the Jedi might anticipate. Sam tried a brief sally, but though she worked out lifting weights, she knew her upper body strength was miniscule compared to Qui-Gon's flat, ropy chest muscles. Her pride was hurt more by his too obviously holding back than the mismatch.
Sam raised the topic of science, an issue always near and dear to her heart. The Jedi recognized her equal intellect and sympathized with her frustration caused by Daniel's reports. Though a brilliant anthropologist, Daniel's hard science was woefully lacking. Obi-Wan's basic studies were extremely advanced compared to Earth's. Unfortunately from a military standpoint, the padawan concentrated on mechanics related to ship and droid repairs. Though Daniel had meticulously documented Obi-Wan's memories, his own lack of knowledge colored the scientific theorems rendering them of little sense to Sam.
Qui-Gon was not being particularly helpful. "Sam, I'm a mediator and warrior. Yes, I studied science, but it was decades ago. Even Jedi begin to forget knowledge unused." He offered a small smile, "I could explain political and trade dynamics in the Republic in great detail."
Sam grimaced. "Not my thing." Her attention shifted over Qui-Gon’s shoulder. Instinctively the Jedi twisted around catlike to see several SGC members entering the cafeteria. “Qui-Gon, how do Jedi feel about revenge?”
“Revenge leads to the dark side.”
“I was afraid you might say that. How about doing a favor for a friend so she can have a small petty revenge? Would a favor count as leading to the light side?”
"So what is actually going on here?" Jack had followed Daniel into the restroom, and now appeared behind him in the mirror as the younger man washed his hands. Jackson's blue eyes evaded O'Neill's hazel. Obi-Wan lingered in the restaurant polishing off his second dessert, having decided not to choose between strawberry shortcake or hot fudge sundae.
Daniel responded weakly, "I don't know what you mean." He was lousy at lying, particularly to Jack. Deceit had never been a part of his nature and now Jack was both his closest friend... and lover.
"Getting two rooms." O'Neill rebuked. "That was the lamest series of excuses I ever heard for three guys on a road trip not to save money by sharing one room." Jack wrapped his arms loosely around Daniel's shoulders. "If you two want to be alone, just say so. Trust me, I won't ask." he said softly.
The absolute truth of O'Neill's trust demanded more honesty from Daniel. "After what happened to him….Obi-Wan needs…he needs power, he needs control. He loves Qui-Gon, but the guy has been his father and teacher for seven years. Even if Qui-Gon pretended to be submissive, the relationship's been too one-sided. Obi-Wan feels he needs to cure himself on his own."
"But you can be submissive." Daniel nodded at Jack's statement. "Did you think I wasn’t going to notice?”
“Obi-Wan was going to…” Daniel trailed off as he waved his hand toward Jack in the mirror.
“Daniel, you’re already tearing yourself up inside because of your conflict between Shau’ri and me. Do you really think you could have slept with another man, lied to me about it, and lived with yourself?”
“I don’t know, Jack. But I had to be willing to try, for Obi-Wan’s sake.”
The colonel turned his partner away from their reflections to face one another. "I'm not clear on 'mind melds' or how you what know what Obi's suffered and what he needs; but I'm clear on you. If you and Obi... 'do it...' Strictly for health reasons, of course." His smart aleck words were completely sincere. "Well..., I don't own you."
The scientist crushed himself against O'Neill--embracing the military expert like he was the only stable point in the universe.
O'Neill fiercely hugged back. His Daniel was the immutable center but hugging in public made him as nervous as Obi-Wan's over-exuberant mood swings during the day. He whispered into Jackson's ear, "Let me help."
In the SGC recreation room, Qui-Gon faced Sergeant Brookfield, one of the most annoying men of Sam’s acquaintance. Brookfield had consistently creamed every other player in the ongoing ping pong tournament, first beating Jackson, then Carter, then O'Neill. Teal’c was scheduled next to play him, but despite the Jaffa's prowess, betting ran heavily in Brookfield’s favor. Sam could accept her team's continual defeats if only Brookfield was remotely gracious in winning. He wasn't.
“It’s a very easy game,” Brookfield lectured Qui-Gon with a condescending tone, “you just keep the little white ball in play while preventing your opponent from hitting it back."
“Then let us begin.” Qui-Gon’s large fist clasped the ping pong paddle in front of him with the same blend of flexibility and tension that he would hold his lightsaber.
Brookfield’s first serve was almost delicate, patronizing. He had been casually maneuvered into this match by Sam and expected an easy win against an off-worlder who had never even watched the game, much less played it. When the ball was still bouncing back and forth ten minutes later, he began to revise his opinion, now playing for a fast, decisive win. He wasn’t successful. No matter how much spin he put on the ball, how much he slammed it, no matter what angle, Qui-Gon deftly sent it back.
Then Qui-Gon stopped playing just to play and began playing to win. He stayed coolly elegant, a serene figure, forcing Brookfield to run back and forth, increasingly flustered and hard-pressed. Tapping on Jedi reflexes, Qui-Gon delivered the ball continually out of Brookfield's reach. His stunning win humiliated Brookfield in front of his peers.
After the referee declared Qui-Gon the victor, Brookfield appeared surprisingly civil. He calmly set his paddle back on the table, smiled slightly and walked around the table apparently to shake Qui-Gon's hand. Instead, he swung his fist at the Jedi Master. Qui-Gon stepped to one side and with a quick gesture, the momentum of Brookfield's own swing sent him spinning to the ground.
“Brookfield! Jinn!” came Hammond’s barking voice. The General had been watching the display from the back of the room. As Qui-Gon’s hand dropped to his side, Brookfield scrambled to his knees on the floor. All conversation ceased as Hammond glared at the faces surrounding him. “I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson from this demonstration. Human-appearing does not mean human abilities. I thought you would have learned that lesson before now, soldier,” he said directly to Brookfield.
“Sir, Yes SIR!” Brookfield shouted coming to attention.
“Master Jinn, I’ll overlook this incident.” Hammond fleetingly looked at Sam, indicating his comment was for the real culprit. “Dismissed, everyone.”
“Okay, here’s the rules,” Jack said, resuming his seat at the table. “There are only three and we either play by these rules or I’m walking out of here and taking Daniel with me right now; and if you want to whammy me in a crowded restaurant, Obi, you’re welcome to try.
"Rule 1, no Jedi mind whammies, despite what I just said.
"Rule 2, whatever happens with Daniel happens with both of us.
"Rule 3, submissive is fine, pain is not.”
“The rules are acceptable.” Obi-Wan stood, grabbing one of Daniel’s arms, forcing him to rise at the same time. “Pay the bill and meet us in my hotel room. Bring some scotch and some lubricant.” Before O'Neill could snap off a mocking salute, the padawan leaned over the seated Jack, pressing a fast but hungry kiss on his lips. He reveled in the shock generated among the small town patrons. For final effect he physically dragged Daniel out of the restaurant.
Obi-Wan was driven by a confused emotional wildness. Barely three weeks after Qui-Gon bonded with him, he was dispatched on the easy half of their new assignment, only to be assaulted and violated. In pain and doubt of his own capabilities, he slammed down shields around his mind. Worse, Qui-Gon deserted his responsibilities to rescue Obi-Wan from his attackers and return him to Coruscant. The Jedi healers handily cured his bodily wounds but could only begin to work on his mental scars.
Qui-Gon didn't blame Obi-Wan for his failure to defend himself successfully, nor for the mission's failure, but Obi-Wan could not forgive himself. He could not forget the pain of their first days together, when Qui-Gon had refused to take Obi-Wan as Padawan several times. His pain and fear of rejection rose again and crashed on the new raw emotions of the life bond, creating a mental mindblock that Obi-Wan could not break. The solid, unending comfort and the indisputable love in Qui-Gon's blue eyes as well as his Master's calm acceptance only worsened the situation. Obi-Wan's inability to respond to that love and trust heightened his own sense of worthlessness.
Through Daniel, Obi-Wan hoped to smash down the barriers he had built within himself. Daniel had been a part of Obi-Wan, had accepted and known him on a deeper level than anyone else in his life, even before they officially said hello.
The Jedi apprentice pushed Daniel onto the bed, falling on top of him, kissing him with desperate passion. Daniel yanked on Obi-Wan’s hair, trying to slow him down. “Obi-Wan, leather… Leather doesn’t come off easily.”
Swinging to his feet, Obi-Wan ripped aside his leather jacket. Once begun, he hurriedly pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it aside. His boots went next. He yanked at the tight, shiny pants, peeling them down his thighs.
Daniel became ridiculously mindful that if didn't remove his own clothes, Obi-Wan would do it such that the apparel would be unwearable tomorrow. Caught on the bed, he kicked free each boot. Obi-Wan watched, breathing hard as Daniel swiftly unzipped his jeans, arching his back to push them over his hips.
When Jack entered the hotel room clutching supplies from the food mart, he found his friends actively entwined on the bed. Obi-Wan lay across Daniel, clutching his brown hair, forcing their mouths together. With his other fist he gripped Jackson's cock. Roughly he drove the scientist toward orgasm, then tenderly pulled him back with deep kisses. Daniel bucked, clenching Obi-Wan's shoulders, mindlessly kneading the muscles.
Jack never realized how beautiful Daniel was in his passion. How could he? When they had made love, O'Neill was too involved to consciously study his lover. Now, from the spectator's viewpoint, he scrutinized his buddy's face. The flush in his cheeks, the eyelids drooping over dilated blue eyes, the flaring of his nostrils as he struggled for breath, his disheveled hair twisting over his forehead. Obi-Wan was similarly beautiful. O'Neill loved the way the corners of the Jedi's mouth turned up into an impish smile. Jack grabbed the water glasses from the bathroom and poured a healthy swallow of Scotch for himself, letting the smoothness hit the roof of his mouth and the back of tongue, leaving a mellow tingling. He tried to repress his own excitement at the sight of Obi-Wan propelling Daniel to release and finding his own in response, semen coating their stomachs. Obi-Wan collapsed on top of Daniel, and the two men laid quietly panting.
O'Neill wanted to rip off his clothes and throw himself on Daniel and Obi-Wan. The sight of them resting together, the padawan nuzzling Jackson's neck entranced him. Only a few weeks ago, the idea of loving a man was anathema to him. Now, the only restraint keeping Jack from joining them on the bed was his promise to let Obi-Wan call the shots.
The Jedi rolled off Daniel. He gestured toward the Scotch and Jack poured him a glass. The Jedi tossed it back in one gulp. "I see why you like this," he said.
"It's good but not the best. Selection's rather limited at the local gas station."
Obi-Wan reached over Daniel, placing the glass on the nightstand. He brought his hand back across Jackson's chest, caressing his nipples. His eyes flicked up and down Jack's lean form, noting the erection tenting the front of his jeans. "Take off your clothes." he directed.
The Colonel unhesitatingly unbuttoned his shirt saying, "I thought you'd never ask."
Sam floated on a satisfying high of mild vengeance, as she walked Qui-Gon to his quarters. Pausing in front of his door, she said, “Thank you for tonight. I know it was unworthy; but I still appreciate it.”
Qui-Gon lightly stroked one cheek. “Sam, I heard what Obi-Wan thought to you before he left.”
Sam felt the blush heat her cheeks and cursed the fair skin of her ancestors.
“Please,” he continued. “I did not mean to embarrass you. I wanted to thank you for your response.” He bent down to place a butterfly kiss on her mouth, lips delicately touching. “You are a very special person, Sam, but Obi-Wan stole my heart long ago. I hope some day you experience the happiness that he and I felt for that short time prior to his illness.”
Sam momentarily clasped Qui-Gon’s hand to her face. “And I hope you find that happiness again.” The two separated, Qui-Gon to meditation and Sam to wonder why the best guys were always taken.
Jack propped himself on one elbow, starring down at the two men facing him, thinking of the odd fate that a military career had dealt him. He had never physically loved a man before Daniel. Now he had experienced some of the most amazing, mind-blowing sex of his life with two of them simultaneously. Thank God he had joined Daniel because whatever demons drove Obi-Wan, he was almost inexhaustible.
Daniel and Obi-Wan possessed the two pillows and drowsed in mellow afterglow. Their faces peaceful, reposing, muscles loose. Obi-Wan lay in the middle, with one of Daniel's arms across his chest. Jack idly traced one finger along the arch of the Jedi's eyebrow, temple, ear. /Oh for the stamina of my teens/ he thought /because this night was not yet finished/. "Obi-Wan, wake up a little."
Obi-Wan throatily muttered something and turned away from Jack's caressing finger, cuddling closer to Daniel. Jack took advantage of the position to caress the eyebrow and ear on the other side of his face. "C'mon Obi-Wan, you need to wake up again. You've done everything but what you need to do."
Daniel gave a laughing snort, eyes still closed. "We missed something? I find that hard to believe."
"No one's been inside Obi-Wan," was Jack's soft but emphatic response. He could tell by the sharp tenseness of Obi-Wan's shoulders that he had hit an important point. "You're not going to be 'cured' for Qui-Gon until you deal with that."
"I'm too exhausted, Jack. You help Obi-Wan deal with it." Daniel rolled to his other side, tugging the covers over his face. /So much for youth,/ the lifer thought.
Jack planned to move slowly, persistently, but read Obi-Wan's stressed muscles to mean the issue would have to be forced hastily to prevent his fighting back, either mentally or physically. The rider had fallen off the horse and his Jedi trainer had obviously been too sensitive, too caring, to toss the rider back in the saddle. In the weeks since tumbling, fear magnified. Jack knew the kid needed quick arousing if passion was to overcome protest.
Colonel O'Neill flung the covers over so all the blankets fell on Daniel, exposing Obi-Wan's naked form. O'Neill's eyes targeted the objective as he slipped off the bed to assault Obi-Wan's flaccid penis, rolling his tongue around the tip, licking the length, and sucking strongly as his penis hardened in his mouth. Obi-Wan flinched and shook, but stayed passively compliant.
Ambushed by arms suddenly wrapped around him, Jack realized Daniel had reconnoitered around the bed. Smearing lubricant on his hand, Daniel lent his own strong fist to stimulate Jack.
"Sorry. I shouldn't be so lazy to make you do all the work," Daniel muttered into Jack's shoulder, pressing languid kisses on the back of his neck and shoulder blades.
Signaling to break off the engagement, Jack crawled onto the bed. He lay back against the headboard as the two of them guided Obi-Wan onto his lap, the Jedi's legs positioned on each side of the older's hips. Daniel inched next to them, scattering kisses along the sides of their faces, their shoulders, nibbling on earlobes, maintaining a steady rhythm between the two men, cherishing both. Jack slid a hand between their bodies, searching out Obi-Wan’s entrance. For a new recruit, he guessed exactly how to relax the taut muscle with persistent, lubricated fingers. Cautiously he raised Obi-Wan’s hips then slowly, slowly lowered him onto his erection.
“Obi-Wan,” Daniel whispered, “Open your mind, open your mind to Qui-Gon.”
Besieged by passion emanating from these two men, comforting and loving without reservation, Obi-Wan’s shields dissipated. Meditating in his room, Qui-Gon was startled by the unexpected intrusion of the Padawan's emotions. Instantly, the Master reaffirmed his love and his dedication to their bond, flowing into his Padawan's thoughts. Obi-Wan whimpered as yet more physical and mental sensations surrounded every cell in his body. The feel of Jack's cock in his body, Daniel's arms and lips caressing him, Qui-Gon in his mind. His last mental block shattered.
Qui-Gon sent incendiary ripples of Force energy through all three men. The Jedi Master's presence engulfed the room, overpowering everyone. His psychic presence stroked erogenous skin, massaged sex-taut muscles, tongued engorged cocks, French kissing ardently into each mouth concurrently. Between near orgasms, Jack marveled that Qui-Gon's raspy beard scratched sensitized flesh so pleasurably.
By way of a gift, the Jedi Master pulled Daniel and Jack's minds into the revived bond between himself and his Padawan lover. Four became one. None could any longer determine who felt which sensation. Jedi energy expanded them infinitely. They were all light, life and pure love celebrated in constant orgasm. They were outside time never knowing when they succumbed to sweaty, exhausted sleep. Even their dreams continued in passion.
Qui-Gon woke Sam before dawn. For a moment, she was still woozy with sleep and could only yawn, wondering what handsome fantasy had wandered into her bedroom. Consciousness kicked in, snapping Sam to attention, fully on alert.
"Qui-Gon? What's wrong?"
"Something is very right, Sam. Obi-Wan is cured. They are at the Traveller Lodge in Whitneyville. Will you take me to him?"
"I need five minutes to dress."
Teal’c was already waiting by Sam’s Toyota when they left the compound. The three drove without conversing. Sam’s radio reported daily news interspersed with mellow jazz. They rode like three commuters too tired to review the same chit-chat of a daily journey. The sun only topped the pines when they arrived at Traveller Lodge.
Qui-Gon headed straight to his apprentice's room and with no more than a glance turned the doorknob, opening the door. The three entered to find all three men in bed together, sleeping, snuggled and twisted every which way, like soft, warm puppies sprawling in a litter. The sheets partially covered their bodies, but not enough to disguise their obvious nakedness. Obi-Wan opened his eyes and smiled at his Master's presence.
Sam stared, fascinated, as Obi-Wan stretched then slunk out of bed to embrace Qui-Gon. His lower body undulated nearly boneless, hipbones leading the rest of his body, coalescing in a provocative, seductive swagger. The Padawan's arms flowed around his Master's shoulders, drawing their heads into a searing kiss. From the fluidness of his movement, Sam realized that she witnessed the true Obi-Wan. Masculinity in the Eastern form--power underlying beauty. The Padawan's illness, his pain, his disengagement from his Jinn had diminished his outward virility. No longer; now she saw a sleek mercurial panther which screamed power, sex, vitality.
Sam blushed. /I can handle this,/ she tried convincing herself. /A soldier remains cool in the face of.../ Qui-Gon squeezed Obi-Wan's butt. /I yield/ she decided fleeing. Teal’c followed her out with a touch more decorum.
When Qui-Gon exited the hotel room, the Jaffa and she were propped against the hood of the car sipping mochas. Freed of worry for his padawan's health, Qui-Gon also seemed transformed, more powerfully masculine than ever.
"They are all getting showered and dressed."
"Oh good." Sam had to clear her throat, trying vainly not to visualize that scene. "We bought Jack and Daniel their favorite mochas: double espresso shot for Jack and double sweet for Daniel. I wasn't sure what you guys would like, so I got one more of each. And some croissants. Bet your world's got nothing like this!" The major did her best to sound composed. "Daniel gets fruit because his mocha's so sweet, but chocolate is Jack's favorite, and I figured they could use some ham and cheese for ah…some protein." She forced herself to stop blithering, handed over the white bag and finally acknowledged Qui-Gon's unblinking eyes.
He spoke patiently, "Thank you, Sam." With one of his large hands, he cupped her chin. "Please do not be uncomfortable. Your friends have cured my Obi-Wan. I will be forever grateful to all of you."
Sam smiled. "I'll be okay. It's was just a bit..." She chose a careful term, “...unexpected." /And sexy as hell!/ she thought.
Daniel opened the back door of the Toyota to slump inside, exhausted. He wadded Qui-Gon's Jedi cloak into a pillow. At Sam's surprised look, he explained, "Qui-Gon wants to ride. Obi-Wan showed him how mentally," Daniel fluttered a hand around his head to indicate the telepathic connection between the two men, then closed his eyes to nap.
Sam followed the motorcycles out of the parking lot. The Jedi Master rode middle position. The wind caught the open neck of his cream tunic, making it flutter in the wind. The image was one Samantha Carter would remember for years.
Sitting quietly beside the Major, Teal'c decided it was time to break the heavy silence filling the car. "Daniel Jackson, I do not understand."
The summoned one propped himself up behind Sam to see Teal'c's face, thus also catching Sam's reflection in the driver's mirror. He encouraged the Jaffa to ask his question with a rumbling inquiry.
"You and Colonel O'Neill are lovers?"
Teal'c's directness slapped Daniel wide awake. Such guilelessness deserved honesty. "Ah…yes."
The First Prime watched the road ahead without reaction. Daniel, on the other hand, inwardly cursed O'Neill for suggesting Qui-Gon deserved to ride the bike once. "And after all," Jack assuaged, "it'll give you a chance to catch a nap in the car." /Thanks, Colonel/ summarized Jackson's current, sarcastic feelings on relinquishing his cycle.
The archaeologist trusted Teal'c's discretion. The Jaffa had revolted against his own gods in the belief that the Colonel could save his people. That faith in Jack had never wavered in the last three years. But Sam was career military. Despite her being a close friend and comrade in arms, the next few minutes might ensure her silence or destroy Jack's career. Daniel guessed Jack anticipated this conversation might happen. The scientist decided risking full disclosure was the only option with a woman as direct and level-headed as Sam.
"We became lovers when the Jedi were here before."
This addendum stimulated Teal'c to probe Earth values further. "But you are married to Shau'ri. Does not your civilization believe that only a husband and wife should love one another?"
"Yes, I am married to Shau'ri. I love her and I still pray that she will be returned to me. In the meantime, Jack," Daniel searched for the best words, "Jack is my closest friend. It was just something that evolved from there. It wasn't planned; we've both been alone for so long. Sometimes it's good to have comfort, to give love." He emphasized the last word while directing a permission seeking look at Sam.
"Daniel, I have the videotape of you kissing Qui-Gon in the conference room." This confession changed Daniel's questioning look to one of blank confusion. "Two men kissing - it's one of the sexist things I've ever seen. None of us are perfect people. I'm not going to tell Hammond, Daniel. What happens between you and Jack is your business. But I want to tell you something." The segue dangled for a moment as she worked her way around several tight curves in the mountain road. "Hammond is no one's fool. And he's no man's judge, either. You might be surprised where he stands on this issue."
Teal'c blew the lid off the whole thing. From his deep, stoic thoughts came the admission, "I would join you and Colonel O'Neill if you are in need of a third again, Daniel Jackson."
The car swerved as Sam overreacted to Teal'c's astonishing statement. After giving the driver a scrutinizing look, he continued, "The Jaffa have extremely strong sexual drives which we are taught to sublimate through battle, but exploration with the SGC has not been as sublimating as actual combat."
"Teal'c, ah - thanks for the offer. I'll let Jack know. I have to admit, Obi-Wan about killed us. I'm not sure we'll be looking for a third soon. Now, if you don't mind, I think I'll sleep a little more." Daniel shut his eyes as Sam drove, both wondering if they had just learned more details about each other and Teal'c than they needed to know. Teal'c lapsed happily into thoughts of a possible later date.
The caravan of motorcycles and Toyota parked in the meadow above the SGC compound. Feeling refreshed by his nap, Daniel leaped out to take a last few pictures. He flashed Jack a discreet thumbs-up gesture, knowing by Jack's relieved grin that he had assumed correctly about the Colonel's manipulation of that conversation.
Obi-Wan willingly posed, swinging one leg over a wooden fence, draping himself over it on his tummy, elbows resting on the wood. Fascinated, Qui-Gon watched his apprentice arrange himself for the camera. In his black leather riding gear, with his legs hanging down on each side of the fence, he resembled a large black cat, satiated with sleeping in the sun. Obi-Wan looked off into the distance, oddly pensive, waiting for Daniel to frame the picture. The padawan braid was hidden from view, his hair tousled from the breeze. Qui-Gon was transfixed by a small swath of the skin on his back where his lover's trousers and jacket gaped open. For some reason, that little bit of flesh seemed to hold all the answers of the universe to him, as if by placing his hand on that skin, he could feel the warmth of his lover's body and know the beauty and peace of nature, of an eternity of happiness, of the Force incarnate. Then Daniel snapped and yelled, "Got it!" The mood broke and Obi-Wan swung back off the fence, smiling again.
"Listen up folks, any real good-byes have to be said here, not in front of the General." Jack expressed his immediate concern.
Qui-Gon followed Jack's instructions by wrapping both hands around the Colonel's shoulders, planting a firm kiss on his lips. "Thank you, Jack, for your caring and insistence." Qui-Gon repeated the recognition with Daniel, saying, "Thank you, Daniel, for your selfless concern."
"Yeah, that kind of thing. Get it out of your system here." Obi-Wan ended Jack's comment by locking lips, driving his tongue into Jack's mouth, as Qui-Gon kissed Teal'c and then Sam. Obi-Wan shared kisses with the other three and for a moment, the six stood awkwardly in a circle. The depth of emotion between them made the thought of saying good-bye overwhelming.
“Hey!” Jack said, “next time we visit you guys, okay?”