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Accidents And Understandings

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Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

JACK

“I…er…I…“  Smooth, O’Neill, smooth.  I’ve never been so wretchedly embarrassed in my ENTIRE life.

Poor Daniel looks wide-eyed and dazed.  I don’t blame him.  He’s sprawled beneath me, pinned flat by my weight.  There’s nothing I can do to disguise the fact I’ve got a five-alarm hard on, given he’s been under me since the first alarm, which kinda turned out to be mutual from the look on his face.  Unfortunately for Daniel we’re going nowhere until we’re certain no more of this tomb is coming down on top of us.  And then only after Carter digs us out, of course.

I could KILL Carter.

I told her not to touch that honkin’ great spiky thing and what did she do?  It was like a fucking sonic boom down here; the air in this chamber Daniel was happily poking around in shifted and the roof dropped on our heads.  Not that Daniel is concerned about falling masonry when he has the more immediate problem of my wayward dick to contend with.  I know he’s dying for Carter and the rescue team to dig through just to get out from under me, but he doesn't dare move in the meantime.  The beam that has me neatly wedged on top of him has given us a measure of protection, but the only way out of here is slow and cautious.

I only have myself to blame.  I had to be the majorly macho mother-hen and tackle him to the ground when the roof fell in.  We went down so hard he’s lucky I didn’t shoot one of us in the ass.

“Um…“ Daniel has difficulty meeting my eyes.

I’m a lot of things I couldn’t tell my maiden aunt about, but I’d like to think I’m neither a coward nor a liar.  I pull it together long enough to spit out a sentence. “Don’t worry about it,” I order him gruffly.

Seriously.  He doesn’t need to worry.  He’s never noticed, let alone asked, and I’ve never needed to tell.  Not about to make a start now.  I have some pride, even if my dick will take anything it can get.  We’re fine.  I’m fine.  Just so long as he doesn’t do that writhing thing, which is what kicked me off in the first place.  If I come in my pants just from the writhing and the irresistibly cute and undeniably nervous way Daniel is biting his lip, I will kill myself right here if we don’t die first.  He SO doesn’t need this.

I don’t need this.

I was FINE.  One happy-ish, maladjusted Air Force colonel with a crush the size of the planet on my best friend who really, truly never needed to know I was basically limping along doing the Niles to his Daphne.  Hey, I was doing WAY better than Niles.  That sap was drooling in denial for like, seven years.  Which is about six years longer than I…

I sigh.  Okay, about two years longer than I…Yeah.  I know.  Pathetic.

“I am worried,” Daniel admits softly.  “I mean…um…are you?” he asks nervously.

Am I what?  Pop quiz, Boonie Boy.  Is Jack: a) horny? b) a desperate loser? c) in love with you? d) a horny desperate loser who’s in love with you?  I’m going with ‘d’ myself.

“It’s nothing,” I insist in my best 'forget about it, leave it alone, it's not open for discussion' voice.

Daniel doesn’t seem to fully grasp his quelled status, or the fact this is not in fact open for discussion.  He gives a little experimental shimmy that has me hissing and him sputtering and blushing furiously.

“THAT is not nothing!” he accuses indignantly.

I shoot him a smutty look before I can stop myself and the residual blush hits MY hairline.  It constantly amazes me how such an obvious hottie can wander vaguely through life not even seeing sex or gender as an issue.  Carter and Fraiser worship the ground he walks on because he can’t see the woman for the person.  It’s not helping him right now, of course, because he can’t see the colonel for the dick.

“Can we NOT talk about this?” I drawl sarcastically.  I want to tell him to stop breathing on my neck, but he’s already doing ‘virgin sacrifice at dawn’ with great artistry and conviction, and it’s not like he can get up and walk around in lieu of dying from TMI.  It isn’t Daniel’s fault he’s a hottie, and if only he could be brought to realise it and not go around being sweet and nice to the susceptible, which I KNOW should not include majorly macho mother-hen Special Ops colonels, well, we’d all sleep a lot happier in my bed.

“You have an erection,” Daniel observes clinically.  “The occurrence of said tumescence of which correlates precisely with MY adjacency and…um…activity.”

“So you think it’s a good idea to talk dirty to me?” I interrupt hastily.  Don’t they teach ANYTHING in grad school?  Such as, random example here, NOT using words like ‘tumescence’ to a guy you’ve GOTTEN tumescent?

“Oh.”  Daniel’s brow wrinkles thoughtfully.  “Turgid.  Tumid.”

“What did I just TELL you?” I demand.

“Emphysematous.  Oedematous,” Daniel insists defiantly.

I glare at him.

“Big honkin’ boner,” he translates demurely, gazing up at me like butter wouldn’t melt.

I shrug deprecatingly.  “It’s my sidearm, I swear.”  I’m not going to admit that my tumescence and his adjacency have any correlation at all.  He can think I’m a sad fuck who needs to get out more and he gives me any more attitude, I’ll forget I’m a gentleman and show him what a little friction between two like-minded guys can accomplish.

Which is kind of the crux of the matter.  We’re not like-minded, and I am a gentleman and Daniel’s friend, so I’ve said and done nothing that will make him uncomfortable or even aware that I’m quietly eaten up inside, because as much as I love and need Daniel, and I accepted a long time ago I wanted Daniel in a way I’ve only ever wanted Sara, I don’t get to have him.

Daniel is straight.  He’s also celibate, but Daniel never takes the easy route and in his case celibate does not equate with susceptible.  I’m so aroused I can’t see straight right now.  Daniel…isn’t.  He’s anxious and confused and he’s talking because for the moment it stops him thinking.  Probably for the best.  Thinking will only bump his anxiety up to full-blown panic and we’ve got a roof to get out from under before he can get out from under me.

So I’m not admitting this is anything more than a minor inconvenience, friction, if you will, the kind of inconvenience a guy who realises he’s supposed to be more in touch with his dick than his feelings wouldn’t mention.

“Jack, I…”

“Friction,” I say flatly.

“Interresting,” Daniel rolls the word slowly over his tongue.  “Given you’re not actually moving, what with being pinned by the beam and all,” he supplies helpfully.

Ah, if only Daniel was the no-brain, all-dick type.  I wouldn’t be in love with him, but I also wouldn’t be trapped here with a resilient erection and an insatiably curious archaeologist with all the finely honed survival instincts of a suicidal lemming given he keeps saying shit like ‘tumid’ to me and can’t keep fucking STILL.  “DANIEL,” I hiss a warning.

Daniel eyes me reproachfully and sighs.  “The Greeks…” he begins in coaxing accents.

“STOP with the Greeks,” I snap with unflattering promptness.

“Prick,” he grumbles.  Then he blushes again.

My turn to sigh.  It’s hard to avoid his eyes.  It’s hard to avoid the fact I could just drop my head and kiss him about as thoroughly as anyone has ever kissed him in the whole of his life.  It’s…hard.  Other than that, I’m okay, we’re pinned but I’m not actually hurt, except for my pride, and my libido, which both wish I was dead.  Just pinned.  Tumid and pinned.  Homo erectus, here.

Still, what was the roof and is now pretty much the floor is looming over us, looking like it could go at any moment, so best to be still.  Much as I’d like a little distance for the sake of my last shreds of dignity, I’m not hitching up to spare Daniel’s blushes so he’d better keep STILL if he doesn’t want me going off like a rocket.

“KNOCK IT OFF.”

Daniel shoots me a resentful look up from under his lashes.  “My butt is numb.”

I wish my dick was numb.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were attracted to me?” Daniel asks innocently.

“I’m not,” I insist stubbornly.

Daniel’s gaze shifts pointedly down.

“Huh,” I snort dismissively.  “Don’t diss a man just because he needs a little quality time with his spin dryer,” I drawl.  One of Daniel’s trademark not-quite-there grins gets away from him.  There’s something very comforting about laundry when getting some is a bi-annual occurrence at best, and being stoned or hammered is the deciding factor for both events.  I’ve always kept my private life absolutely private, given my reputation is, broadly speaking, studly, and the tragic truth is I may talk the talk but I sure don’t fuck the fuck.

“I’m just saying that if you are attracted to me, you should say something,” Daniel persists.

“Say what?” I ask incredulously, before I can stop myself.  “Excellent job on the translation, Daniel,” I sing song witheringly, “and by the way, you look so hot in your bandana I want to drag you out back of the tomb and fuck you senseless over that ceremonial doodad.”  I use my best scornful 'like that would EVER happen! Pfffft!' voice.  I mean, if I have to TELL him I was trying for ‘ludicrously exaggerated’ I’m going to lose all credibility.  Especially as it’s the literal truth and all.

Daniel’s mouth drops open.  “You do?” he asks feebly.

Of course I do!  I'm a GUY.  It's never pretty.  The merest glimpse of his ass makes the roof of my mouth go dry.  Throw in the bandana and the shades and we're talking stress fractures on my P-90.  Why does he think I wear the fingerless gloves?  “Don’t be stupid, Daniel.  Can you SPELL hypothetical?”  Okay, maybe that WAS a bad example.  Kinda forgot my audience, here.

“Oh,” Daniel’s face is an odd mixture of relief and puzzlement.  “I see.  I…as a matter of fact I’m…I’m a little disappointed,” he admits with quiet dignity.  “I mean, if you’d…” he takes a shaky breath, “…wanted to ask me out or…or something…”

You’d have gone ‘EEP!’ and yelped ‘NO!’.

“I wouldn’t have said no.”

“What?” I ask with exquisite caution, feeling like I’m teetering on a knife’s edge.  I’m admitting NOTHING if we can both escape with a modicum of dignity attached, but if there’s a frickin’ HINT he would…fuuuuck.  I am so screwed here.  I never wanted him to know and now…I sigh.  We’re both screwed.  Can’t get the genie back in my pants.

“I’m not averse to seeing you,” Daniel says quietly.  “I’ve never considered a sexual relationship with you, in fact, I’m usually thinking the translation looks hot, not you…but…but I’m not…not averse,” he stammers out determinedly.

“For pity’s sake?” I snarl, my heart sinking.

Daniel flinches.  “If you say so,” he agrees stiffly.  “I don’t know what people want, but whatever it is, I don’t have it.  You’re the only one who’s asked.  Not that you did ask, but if you had, I would have said yes.”  He drops his eyes, flashing that quick nervous grin.  “Yes…please,” he adds ruefully.  “I guess that’s pitiable, but not as pitiable as being alone, Jack.”

Aw, hell.  HELL.  What am I supposed to say to that?  It bites, BIG TIME, loving this guy.  “I meant me.  You pity ME,” I mumble grudgingly.

Daniel’s head jerks up and his eyes widen in a ‘don’t be stupid, Jack’ way that does my ego proud.

“Everybody likes you.”

“Everybody thinks I’m a loudmouth jerk with an attitude problem,” I correct crisply.  “Including you,” I admit wryly.

“Only some of the time,” Daniel assures me earnestly.  “The rest of the time I think you’re…”

“Hot?” I leer, deliberately ludicrously exaggerated.  That coaxes another nervous smile from Daniel.

“Kind.”

Ouch.  I wince.  Not the most glowing character reference a guy could look for.  Daniel looks apologetic, but oddly determined.

“We could spend time together.  If you wanted,” he offers, desperately casual.

“We spend time together now.” And what I want is sex; constant, hot, guilt-free sex.  Which of course you don't get if you happen to be IN LOVE with the guy, especially this guy.

“Ju-just as friends.”

“Are you offering to spend time together as lovers?” I ask carefully.

Daniel winces again but nods jerkily.

I feel a little sick.  I hadn’t, I truly hadn’t realised how alone he felt, if he’s willing to consider sex with me just to…

“No,” Daniel gasps, glaring at me.  “I’m not THAT needy.”

Oops.  Gotta work on that poker face.

“I mean I’m tired of being ALONE,” Daniel says meaningfully.

“Have you considered dating?” I ask gently.  It's been over a year since Sha’uri died, and apart from a brief rebound something or other with the Destroyer of Worlds, Daniel hasn’t exactly been setting the Colorado Springs social scene alight.  The only woman he takes out and stays in with is Carter and even my pathological jealousy is perfectly aware Carter’s maternal instincts are channelled right into Cassie and Daniel.

“I’m trying!” Daniel scowls at me.

“I’m not dating you!” I scowl back.

“Why not?” Daniel asks stubbornly.

When did I lose control of this situation?  “Because, whereas I, in my youth, was a bit of a Kinseyish two on the quiet, you’ve got classic zero written all over you.”

Daniel, the celibate heterosexual, manages to look insulted at being labelled a heterosexual.  Not that I’m not.  I was just a tad more open to extreme possibility in my youth than Meet ’n’ Greet Boy.  He’s so buttoned down and ‘hands off!’ I’ve always thought he’d explode if I grabbed his ass or stuck my tongue down his throat or something.  It’s not that I don’t want to, I do, but I’m not sure he’d survive the experience.

Daniel tries to speak but has to pause to spit out some of the dirt that’s trickling down over our faces – Carter, thank fuck, at LAST, digging through – which kind of hones the cutting edge of whatever it is that’s making him go rigid beneath me.  Not rigid in a GOOD way, unfortunately.  The alarming kind of rigid.

“So you’re saying that whatever it is YOU want, I STILL don’t have it!”

He’s appallingly cute when he’s indignant.  The trickle becomes a steady stream of dirt and debris, so I hunch forward protectively, covering Daniel’s upturned face with my own, arms braced behind my head to protect my own noggin.  Such as it is.

“I HATE labels.” Daniel is argumentative, if muffled, as he bitches into my shoulder.

I don’t give a shit.  That last little nudge dislodged his bandana and I’ve got a nose full of herbal scented silky hair, more than enough to take the edge of a rock that ricochets agonisingly off my shoulder hard enough to bounce.  In fact, the small rocks are tumbling down continually, glancing off my back and shoulders and skittering away, but it’s worth it.  Sunlight is beginning to filter through and Daniel’s hair is lighting to gold.

Carter’s doing pretty good up there.  We’ll be out in no time.  And then I can have a few carefully chosen words with her about just how it was we wound up down here in the first place.  Her head has been in her ass since Starman booked.  Maybe this time she'll listen and go with the knitting.

“If I’m attractive enough to quote ‘drag out back of the temple’ and…” Daniel hesitates, going suspiciously still for a moment, “…and SNIFF,” he accuses, “…why am I not attractive enough to buy take-out?” he demands furiously.

The issue isn’t who I find attractive, the issue is who HE doesn’t.  As in he does it for me, and I SO don’t do it for him.   As blessedly fresh air pours in and Daniel gets ready for another verbal salvo, I give in to an irresistible impulse I’ve been suppressing for five years and clamp my hand over his mouth.

“Forget it, Daniel.  I’m NOT dating you,” I tell him smugly as his outraged eyes lay into me.

“Sir?” Carter’s startled voice echoes.

God, is she or is she not the most aggravating woman who ever lived?


“Then Major Carter completed the extraction…” Yadda yadda.

Major Carter is sitting protectively at Doctor Jackson’s side looking like she wants to extract another part of me entirely.  My balls, possibly.  I got two pairs of big blue eyes doing that subliminal ‘Jack is a world-class bastard’ thing at me.  Carter is mad because she screwed up and I yelled at her for it, and her darling – and for that matter technically my darling – is seething because he thinks I simply can’t lower my standards enough to want to date HIM.  He’s been in a slow burn ever since Carter, Teal’c and whatsisname from SG-14 winched us to safety.

The two of them stalked back to the Stargate commiserating supportively and comparing notes about how much of a bastard I’d been to them individually, collectively and cumulatively from the sound of it.  Every step of the way back we heard aggrieved little mutters as they covered such fruitful topics as ‘just like he did on P2Y-759!’, ‘my point exactly!’ and a resounding ‘protector my ass!” from the civilian portion of the geek bitch-fest.

I love my kids.  I love ‘em to death.  Only Daniel could be mad because I don't want to date him.  It should be a good thing.  He doesn't want to date me.  He's straight.  We're friends, he's straight and he's still pissed I won't buy him take-out.

Teal’c and I strolled along behind them with identical indulgent ‘aren’t they sweet?’ and ‘they’re OURS’ looks, which naturally kept the haughty sniffs going until we gated back and the general took up the slack.

“I’m truly sorry the site has been lost to us, Dr Jackson,” Hammond sympathises with Daniel.

Even Daniel isn’t man enough to refrain from a slightly reproachful glance at Carter, who flushes miserably.

“I managed to get detailed video footage of all the text panels in the outer chamber but…” Daniel trails off unhappily, bravely avoiding Carter’s eye.

I am still ticked off with Carter.  Daniel was having a blast poking around down there, getting all flushed and excited, reading gibberish out to me and speculating wildly about stuff I don’t understand and don’t care about except for the fact he cares and it makes him happy.

MADE him happy.  I had managed to grasp we were still at the finger food stage, the ‘all you could eat buffet’ was a few levels down when Carter triggered the whatever it was, it overloaded and went ‘Pfft-boom’, that sound wave taking out the temple and nearly us along with it.  I know she didn’t actually mean to, but I’m having no difficulty in blaming her.

I glare at her across the table.  Knit, woman, KNIT.

However, with the mission a complete wash-out, odds are the General can be finessed into giving us some downtime instead of another mission.

"Do you KNOW what that thing was in its pre-kaboom state?" I ask Carter.

"No, Sir," Carter admits.  "There wasn't time to determine the function of the device before it…"

"Kaboomed."

"It is possible the device is a weapon," Teal'c observes.  "The sound wave it emanated seemed to increase with distance."

"Sonic kaboom," I say bitterly.  Carter opens her mouth.  I point my finger.  "Ah!  Put it in the report, Carter.  My ass can't take it."  Carter closes her mouth and hunches down, avoiding my eye.  We got off light.  One bruised butt and one bruised ego.

"I will assist Major Carter," Teal'c offers, smiling gently at Carter.

"I'd like some time to work on the translation, too," Daniel requests briskly, in between shooting sorrowful, sympathetic looks at Carter and the occasional frostbite-in-a-pout in my direction.

"Colonel?" Hammond prompts.

I nod reluctantly, grimacing a little for effect, knowing Hammond will give Daniel the time to make up for not having the site.  Perfect!  Could not in fact be better.  Daniel will hit the books, burn the midnight oil and forget all his relative dating woes while my ass and I hit the liniment.

I evade Daniel's suspicious look as Hammond dismisses us.  Teal'c stays behind to soothe the kids but I book.  What a man fantasises in the privacy of his own bubble bath is his business.


DANIEL

I stalk up the path and knock imperatively on Jack's door.  I give him exactly thirty seconds and then I start banging on it.

This is Jack's fault.  Entirely his fault.

After the briefing, I tried to talk to him sensibly about what happened between us on P9R-795.  Jack insisted nothing happened between us.  I discussed that.  Then he argued that anyone but a frickin’ archaeologist – unspecified - would have ignored what happened between us, punctuating the diatribe with a crack about me confusing bones and boners, and some bizarre grumbling about knitting.  I discussed that too.  Subsequently he made some reprehensibly knee-jerk observations about palaeontologists, ordered me to stop being so fucking difficult and stormed off home.

So naturally I went to that den of iniquitous conspicuous consumption known as the Chapel Hill Mall, stalked into Dillard’s to buy something sexy, and here I am at Jack's place with every intention of being even more fucking difficult here.

At least I hope this something is sexy.  I'm not actually sure what constitutes sexy, but this outfit is certainly different.  I've never worn cargo pants in my life and the T-shirt appears to be two sizes too small at least.  The pants aren't exactly on the baggy side either.  The sales clerk assured me I was all ass, which I took to be a good thing on a 'hot' date, but I have to admit I'm not so much flaunting it as trying to press it flat against the wall where people can't look at it.  I marched out of Men's head held high, made it to Maternity, noticed I was being - um - noticed, slunk back to Men's and re-emerged with a sweater.  A huge, chunky ribbed turtleneck.  Grey.  Wearing these pants - also grey - on a 'hot' date is one thing.  Wearing them, AND the T-shirt - different shade of grey - in PUBLIC is quite another.

And ‘bringing out my eyes’ was not the reason for choosing grey.  It's just an added anxiety.

Bonus.

I mean bonus.

I bang again.  Where the hell are you, Jack?  Open the damn DOOR!

"Alright already!" Jack's voice hollers.  "Keep your pantyhose…" he wrenches open the door.  "...fuck!" he finishes, jaw clenching.

I shift nervously from foot to foot.  Is that good?  He's looking at me.  Is THAT good?  Actually - um.  Maybe not.  He's - he's REALLY looking at me.  Back on the planet he was okay - I mean, apart from the erection, obviously - he was nice.  Safe.  He was safe.

He's looking at me now like…like he wants me.  Jack WANTS me.  He's not safe.  Not safe at all.  This isn't friction, this isn't an 'ignore it and it'll go away' guy thing.  He's staring at me and I'm turning him on, right now.  I know THIS.  This is need.  This is wanting and not having, and being eaten up inside.

"Not on the first date," I say nervously, taking his stupefaction to mean I can go right on in.  I'll feel a lot better when this ass is buried in a cushion, but my headlong rush for the safety of the couch falters when I glance back and find Jack's gaze riveted to the ass in question.  I wriggle it - just a little bit - and his breath hitches.  Then he shivers convulsively, once, and the Jack I know is back and in control.

"It's up to you, Daniel, but I'm on my way out," Jack says easily.  "I like to eat, and despite my best efforts that also means occasionally I have to shop.  It could take some time," he intones solemnly, turning to head out of the house towards his truck.

Oh.  I trail out behind him, feeling quite deflated, which is exactly what he intended.  Not deflated enough to quit, obviously.  I could wait here alone or I could go home.  I could, but I'm not going to.  Jack is being infuriatingly stubborn.  I meant what I said to him.  I don't want to be alone.  I want someone in my life, NEED someone to just be there and…and care.  I know he does, I know he's my friend but it's not the same, it's not enough.  If I have to have him in my bed to have him in my life, well, I'm a big boy.  I can take it.  I'll admit I've never been with a man, but the thought of having sex with a man doesn't disgust me.  I've spent half my life reading the classics and now, thinking about being with Jack, I'm…intrigued about how it is between men, how it would be between US.  As much as I care about Jack, as much as I like him, I'm willing.  He wants me and I'm willing.  And curious.

Jack is very attractive, aesthetically AND emotionally.  Very…big and very attractive.  I glance at the trim jean-clad form, all long legs and lean muscle.  Jack is very…very everything.

I'm very curious.

"I'll see you tomorrow," I call as I edge past him towards my own car.

"Uh huh," Jack drawls, eyeing me with fathomless scepticism.

"Since you won't offer any empirical evidence as to why I'm allegedly attractive enough to fuck but not to date, I'm going to have to look elsewhere," I tell him chattily as I unlock the car.

Jack freezes. He turns slowly to stare at me.  "Elsewhere?" he asks edgily.

"I thought I'd try the 'Hide & Seek'." I smile sweetly.

"Dressed like THAT?" Jack howls.

So it's not subtle. Bite me.  Colorado Springs isn't noted for its thriving gay scene so it's no surprise to me Jack recognises the bar.  I had to look it up on the internet, but that's different.  Jack couldn't name two museums in the city, but he is to bars what I am to bookstores.

"I'm dressed just fine for the purpose of ascertaining whether I'm fuckable or dateable," I say crisply, pulling my door open.  I’m hoping for both.

"Get in the truck," Jack snarls.

"I'm…"

"Get.  In.  The.  Truck."

"Sorry, I…"

"NOW!"

I'm sorely tempted to get in my car just to see what he does, but I settle for strolling insultingly slowly around to the passenger side of the truck.  Jack jumps in and glares at me ferociously as I buckle up.  He's rigid and white knuckled as we pull away.  I sit demurely silent and let him stew as he drives steadily along the darkening road, casting me dark, brooding looks from time to time.

"You're not setting FOOT in that place," he warns abruptly.

Um, way to talk me out of it, Jack.

“Unless I’m with you,” he recovers smoothly.

I concede the point reluctantly.  He knows perfectly well I’d give up a month’s pay to see him gracing a gay bar and I’d never ask him to do it because I’d never damage his reputation.  Jack knows he’s called my bluff.  He relaxes and his knuckles ease off from their death grip on the steering wheel.  I turn my head subtly to look at him, really look for the first time.  I can’t make sense of my own face, so I’m not sure how I’m going to make sense of Jack’s.  I’ve always thought of him as solid and dependable, in a sarcastic, making a point of it way.  He’s my friend.  He’s just…he’s Jack.  My closest friend.  My very attractive closest friend.  Um, very.

“What are you thinking?” Jack demands suspiciously.

“I’m thinking about us in bed together,” I reply unthinkingly, my eyes lingering on Jack’s big, capable hands.

He wrestles for control of the steering wheel for a instant and shoots me glare that could carve stone.  “Well DON’T!” he hollers, the veins standing out on his neck.

I’m okay with it.  I truly am.  In fact, the idea of making love with Jack fills me with a kind of mellow acceptance; a trifle vague on the details, but big on stuff like trust and waking up with someone close.  I’m seriously curious about what it will be like, what he will be like.  Seriously enough the acceptance is edged with anticipation.

Seriously.

“We’re dating,” Jack orders grimly.

We are?  That’s…

“I don’t trust you an INCH.  I don’t know where ‘Jailbait Jackson’ boiled up from, but I’m TELLING you, the only action you’ll be seeing is with ME.”

I brighten up.  That’s…

“So we’re dating.  Agreed?” Jack prompts, not softening noticeably.

“Agreed,” I hasten to assure him.  And that means we move swiftly on to satisfying my curiosity.  And lots of other little urges I have jostling pleasurably for Jack’s urgent attention.

“You can’t go back on it, you know,” Jack says gravely.  “This is not suck it and see.  We have to WORK together, so you have to know going in if we’re dating, it’s not casual.  It’s fucking deadly serious.”

“I don’t DO casual,” I say stiffly.

“Shocker.”

“Prick.”

Jack looks at me seriously then nods.  He lightens up for the first time since I arrived on his doorstep as he turns the truck smoothly and pulls into the parking lot.  “My usual rules apply,” he says cheerfully as we coast through the almost empty lot towards the store entrance.

“Rules?” I ask suspiciously.  “Such as?”

Jack beams at me.  “At the risk of TMI, I dated Sara for three months before we made love.”

Three months?

Three?

MONTHS?

Whaa?

“I’d hate you to think I thought any less of YOU,” Jack assures me earnestly as he jumps energetically out of the truck.

I slink out of my side and slam the door, glowering at him.  Bastard.  That’s admirable, I agree, that’s what I…I’ve never RUSHED, but it’s not like we’re just leaping into bed.  I’ve known him for five years.  “We don’t need time to build trust.  We HAVE trust,” I complain.  He’s been annoying me forever and frankly, never more so than now.

“You’re a virgin AND my best friend.  I’m not jumping you on the first date.  Get over it,” Jack says briskly as he turns and strides away.  “Welcome to my world,” he calls, gesturing expansively at the romantic vista before us, “and our first date.”

Woo.  Safeway.


I can’t help but notice the customer services lady books the instant she claps eyes on Jack as he wheels the cart purposefully towards her counter.  I’m slightly taken aback to see him pick up a complaints form.  We just got here.  Literally.  And we got free snacks when we walked in, chunks of warm cinnamon doughnut.  Jack ate three complimentary servings.  It’s a tad on the harsh side to complain after eating THREE servings.

Jack writes steadily for a couple of minutes and signs his name with a flourish.  “They move stuff,” he supplies with dignity.  “In an appallingly obvious attempt to make you have to tear the store apart to find the stuff again and therefore make you buy a whole range of other stuff you didn’t want and didn’t need and wouldn’t have even seen if…” he waits expectantly.

“They hadn’t deliberately moved the stuff you actually wanted in the first place?” I supply carefully.  Jack’s world may be…scary.

“I never shopped until Sara left me,” Jack confides as he slips the complaint form into his pocket.

His jeans pocket.  Nice jeans.  Tight.  Nice…nice ass.  Tight.  “What?”

Jack looks at me curiously.  “What ‘what’?” he asks, puzzled.

“Nothing,” I mutter, blushing.  Nothing that won’t be cured in three months.  The bastard isn’t dating me at all.  He got me all hot and bothered and now he’s got my wayward libido on a leash.  Ha.  If he thinks he’s shoving me out his door tonight without so much as a kiss goodnight he’s got another thing coming.  I’m sleeping over.  We’ll see how HIS libido copes with me plastered to him at four am.  If he couldn’t cope with me in cammos, he won’t stand a chance against me in jammies.

“I notice stuff that other people have been indoctrinated into.  I can tell them every single week exactly what’s been moved and where it was moved from.  Carrots,” Jack mutters vaguely.

He’s looking right at the carrots and they’re right here with the rest of the vegetables so I’m not sure what his objection is.  “Carrots?” I prompt.

“I need carrots.”

“They’re right here.  We’re standing in front of them.”

“And how long do we defrost these babies before we eat them?”

Defrost?  FROZEN carrots?  I shudder and delve efficiently into the display, carefully selecting the smallest and sweetest for julienne.

“I need peas.  You gonna run them under a microscope too?”

I nod meaningfully at the next display stand.

“I’m not SHELLING anything!” Jack says indignantly.  “Not in the context of food preparation, anyway,” he amends self-consciously.

I weigh out a couple of pounds of pea pods regardless and gaze around, trying to orient myself.

“Forget it,” Jack says gloomily.  “Next time you come this will be the fish counter.”

“Fish?” I ask hopefully, sidling gently over to a tempting array of goodies.

“No, and get away from that salad!”

Jack argues vehemently in favour of frozen veg right up until I say the magic word.

“Steak.”

“Steak?”

“Steak.”

I lure him back to the salad bar after promising to take the edge off with sautéed potatoes, roughly chopped field mushrooms and shallots.  Corn has Jack thinking melted butter and that gets us safely through most of the fruit too.  Jack grumbles at any fruit he can’t instantly identify, which is everything from the kiwis on, but he accepts my lie about whipped cream layering the tropical fruit salad without a murmur.  I’ll sneak in some virtually fat free crème fraîche when he isn’t looking.  He’ll never know the difference.

“You cook?” Jack drawls hopefully, obviously trying not to get too excited.

“I cook.”

“REALLY cook or cook like I cook?” Jack asks wistfully.

“I have all the pans,” I offer, squeezing a kumquat suggestively.

“I have pans.”

That’s a good point.  “I’ve got herbs and I’m not afraid to use them,” I assure him solemnly as we hang a left and weave our way through the household stuff towards the booze.

Jack’s eyes light.  “Hot damn!” he gloats.

I’m not proud.  I’m…I’m horny.  If the way to Jack’s dick is through his stomach, I’ll feed him like he’s never been fed before.

“Beer,” Jack heads straight on.

“Wine,” I turn right.

“Beer!”

“I don’t like beer.”

“I don’t like wine,” Jack insists stubbornly.

I glance back and shudder.  He doesn’t like beer either, if he’s drinking that god-awful domestic brew.  I prowl through the wine selection, find a decent CJ Pask Reserve Merlot, then pounce on the Corban’s Cottage Chardonnay, Cru Les Chevrets, Margaret River Shiraz, and finally the Lump Riesling just as Jack wheels the cart handily in range.

“What part of ‘I don’t like wine’ didn’t you grasp?” Jack asks sarcastically.  He retrieves a bottle from the cart, peers around, spots the price and chokes.  He checks the aisle for rogue shoppers, then leans in.  “I thought you were a cheap date!” he accuses.

“I was lulling you into a false sense of security.  I’m a very expensive date.  Better start thinking about re-mortgaging.”   Sheer devilment has me slipping a bottle of Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc champagne into the cart right under his nose.  My turn to lean in.  “We’ve already got the strawberries,” I murmur.  “Breakfast.”  Jack surprisingly takes his $150 breakfast menu without a blink.

“I hope it doesn’t go off,” he says pleasantly.  “Because it’ll be about three months before we get round to sinking this puppy.”  Then he winks at me as I glare at him.

I trail sullenly along in his wake as he heads confidently towards the scent of fresh-baked bread.

“That’s another trick,” Jack confides.  “They have this down-home scent wafting through the store to make you more amenable to spending money right when the only thing on your mind is getting out of this hellhole alive.”

A young girl stacking shelves whirls around and glares at Jack.  Then she blushes and smiles at him, dimpling.  Jack actually looks over his shoulder to see who she’s smiling at and the moment he realises it’s him, he bolts.  I nod to her politely as I walk past.  Her smile widens as her gaze focuses at butt height and I bolt after Jack, blushing furiously.  She looks about twelve with those braids.

“Jeez,” Jack groans theatrically when I catch up with him.  “I feel like a cradle-snatcher as it is, but THAT…” he shudders.  “If she was any younger she’d be sperm.”

I’m about to sympathise wholeheartedly when his meaning sinks in.  “Cradle snatcher?  How old do you think I am?” I hiss indignantly.

“Thirty-five,” Jack tosses over his shoulder as he spies family packs of those cinnamon doughnuts.  “Going on about fifteen.”

“What?”

Jack glances around.  “Come on!  Admit it.  You’ve never even fooled around with another guy," he whispers, face alight with amusement.

I’ve never even kissed another guy but what’s that got to do with Laughing Jack?

“It’s different,” Jack insists, looking amused.  “Trust me, alright?  It’s different.”

Well, we’ll see won’t we?  When we get home.  Kissing.  Curled up in Jack’s bed, in Jack’s arms, kissing.  Niiiice.  Jack bends down suddenly to investigate chocolate chip muffins and I get an eyeful of the O’Neill derriere.  I’m decided.  Absolutely.

Lots of protein.

Lots of protein then kissing.

Lots of kissing.


JACK

“You want to stay?” I ask as Daniel emerges from the kitchen with two heaped plates.  I feel faint.  My taste buds have already died and gone to heaven over the egg and tiger prawn salad.  Didn’t know you could do THAT with lime juice.  I bitterly regret all those years of take-out.  I mean, look at this!  I’ve got sirloin steak with sautéed everything, and I’ve already done my duty by the green stuff, so he can’t whine when I leave it this time.

“Please,” he asks politely.

This has been one surreal evening.  A hot date in Safeway of all places, and now Daniel is insisting he wants to stay over.  “Sure,” I agree easily.  “I wouldn't risk the couch myself, but I’ll spring for the chiropractor.”  Daniel scowls at me.  I don’t think he has any idea how confused he looks to me, how conflicted.  He’s checking out my butt one second, the next he's blushing and sidling along with his back to the wall when I return the compliment.

I shake my head wryly. Truly surreal.  He turns up on my doorstep dressed like THAT, looking utterly fuckably hot and was totally fried when I wanted to.  Threatening to go down to the ‘Hide & Seek’ to see what he could pick up?  I swear, dating him seems like the safest thing, containment-wise.  Doctor Celibate's sexuality looks about ready to explode right outta the closet if he doesn’t die of embarrassment in the meantime.

I don't know what to say to him, I really don't.  Daniel has been presented with an opportunity he never expected or even wanted, and in a way it's admirable he's so free of prejudice he can even consider being with another man let alone me, given the way he knows me.  I guess I never really knew I mattered this much to him, and yeah, I'll admit it's flattering as all hell that Daniel cares about me enough to let me have sex with him.  That's the kind of the friend he is, though, generous and giving to a fault.

Which doesn't help me being the kind of friend I am.

Daniel loves me, that much is crystal clear.  He loves me enough to want me in his life, to want me close, which is wonderful.  Good stuff I can work with, build on.  Daniel being ready to forsake his heterosexuality and rush in where straight guys fear to tread without a fucking CLUE what he's dealing with or what it could do to him is a whole other thing.  After all the times we've butted heads, argued about every conceivable goddamned thing under this and every other sun, I never suspected he trusted me this much.  I'm BLOWN AWAY he trusts me this much.  I want him, he trusts me, he's mine?  Jesus.

I hope to fuck I'm strong enough not to take advantage.  He turned up tonight with an overnight bag which is sitting pointedly by my front door.  I checked it out while he was cooking and now I’m feeling disgustingly sappy and tender-hearted.  I found a huge sweater which I think is designed to stop people other than me from admiring his rear end, and the goddamn receipt is in the bag.  He bought this stuff specially.  I can't believe he's so uncertain of his own attractiveness he had to dress sexy.  I haven't the heart to tell him he's sexy whatever he wears and my mind can't even go to what he'll look like naked, because it was melty-spine time over the fuzzy jammie bottoms he brought with him, along with his toothbrush, a little travel bag with all his stuff, and a book.

Daniel dressed sexy and he brought jammies and a book.

I know what this is.  This is Daniel willing to get laid so he can get…what?  A hug?  Time?  He's got that.  I'd like to have him just plain old comfortable before we even think about getting as physical as I need to get.  I'm not saying I'll wait until he wants to make love as much as I do but he has to come to me something more than just accepting.  Sex isn't going to be the price he pays for the other stuff, the stuff he really wants.  The relationship stuff.

"I'm not sleeping on the couch," Daniel insists as he slices vindictively into his steak.

"Well don't look at me," I say pleasantly.  "My house."

God, he's sexy when he's sullen and thwarted.  That sulky pout is giving me a bad desire.   I smile slowly.  Nothing new there.

"I'm sleeping with you," Daniel challenges.

"As in…" I wave my hand suggestively.

"WITH you,” he announces decisively.

I casually shrug assent like it's no big thing the man I'm in love with will be sharing my bed for the first time.

"And we're…"

"Not," I finish emphatically.

"I want to," Daniel admits quietly.

"What?  What is it you want to?" I ask just as quietly.  I don't want to get on his case.  I don't think he's ready, but I'm not in his head with him, and I'm not his daddy, so I'm not going to make his decisions for him.  Whatever he wants, if it's for him and not what he thinks should be for me, I'm here for him.  "Seriously, Daniel," I assure him.  "What is it you want me to do for you?"  I'm hoping he'll see what he really wants is just to open up and sleep with someone, that all he really needs to do is relax.  I'm not going anywhere.

"Kissing," Daniel suggests hopefully, risking a small smile.

"Kissing is good," I agree warmly and Daniel relaxes.

"I like to kiss," Daniel murmurs wistfully.

"Yeah?  Me too."  I'm relieved.  It could have been worse.

"I want to be with you," he admits shyly, eyes fixed intently on the steak he's so very busy with just now.

O-kaay.  That’s worse.

"Wanna know when I was first attracted to you?" I offer as I take a long draught of my beer.  Daniel's head snaps up, eyes wide and eager.  "I'll take that as a yes," I say dryly.  "First time I laid eyes on you."

Daniel's mouth drops open, which gives me another bad desire and a treacherous twitch of interest from the greedy little bastard downstairs.

"Don't get me wrong," I say easily.  "We're not talking hearts and flowers.  I just…noticed."

"Oh," Daniel mumbles uncertainly, busy now with his sautéed mushrooms.

I can guess what Daniel noticed about me.  Scary suicidal asshole is about right.  Not that he ever was.  Scared of me, I mean.  A lot of people were.  A lot still are.  Daniel isn’t.  Never even crosses his mind I could do him harm.  Technically I blew him up one time, but he didn’t take that personally.

"And when did you first want to…you know…drag me out back and…um…y’know?"  Daniel asks hesitantly.

I know.  I had an inkling I felt way more for Daniel Jackson than I should when I thought I'd lost him to Nem.  I kinda went to pieces.  As for the other…I can't help but look embarrassed.  "Plant Boy," I admit reluctantly.

"What?" Daniel squawks.

"Right after you did that little dance thing.  I've never seen a man who needed to get laid as much as you did right then…”

Daniel stiffens and glowers at me with palpable hostility.  I lick my lips lasciviously and he subsides, blushing.  Excellent powers of deduction he’s got there.  Yes indeedy.  Right now, he needs to get laid even more than he did back then.

“…and of course I couldn't say a goddamn WORD what with you being you, me being me and…" I shrug.

"Me being married," Daniel says softly.

His face stills in grief for a moment, just a moment, but he doesn't leave me.  I hadn't looked for that, and it touches me all the more for the unexpected generosity of it.

"What do you mean, me being me?" Daniel demands abruptly, the hostility level cranking back up.

"Daniel, there's enough sparkage between us to power the goddamn gate and you never even saw it until I embarrassed us both this morning.  I know what I feel, I know what I want.  I've had TIME."  Lots of time.  This thing between us has gone on.  On and on and on.  And on.  "You say you want to be with me?"

Daniel nods tightly, still glowering and brooding over my unflattering assessment of his sexuality.

"Fine.  Tell me what you want me to do for you."

"Whatever…" he begins anxiously.

"What YOU want, Daniel, not me," I correct him gently.  I'm not trying to be confrontational, I think he realises that.  I think he sees I'm worried for him.  "Tell me honestly what you picture us doing together, what you actually WANT us to do."

Daniel stares back at me for a long time.  "Kissing," he admits reluctantly.  "And touching,” he adds quickly, obviously hoping that makes up for him being him, I guess.

"Nice," I agree simply, smiling warmly at him.  "It's a start."

"It's a date," Daniel emphasises, brightening up.  "And I mean it about the touching, so no weaselling out of it later," he warns.  "What about you?" he asks thoughtfully.  "What do you want us to do?"

"I want to…"

"Okay, um, yeah, gotcha," Daniel interrupts hurriedly.

I'm not mean enough to mention The Blush as he drops his head and applies himself to his salad, muttering distractedly about asking stupid questions.

He shouldn't be too hard on himself.  We've established we're in the same book, even if we're not on the same page.  It’s a good place to start, and THIS is another!  I delve enthusiastically into the sautéed portion of the plate.  I could kick myself.  Seriously.  All that time WASTED.  I knew he had the pans…if only I'd known he could use them.  I got freezer capacity.  Would it kill him to cook bigger portions?  Share?  Maybe I should work up to that.  In the meantime, we're dating, he's wanting a little hands on…we eat in.

Except Saturday.  Saturdays are sacred.  If he wants to go out in the real, old-fashioned together sense of going out, I’ll take him to the Dale Street Café.  They have music on Saturdays.  Bands, or singers.  I’ll check into it.  Make reservations.  Maybe sink that champagne, after.  I’d like that.  Next Saturday.  Hopefully by then he’ll be a little more comfortable with this where this thing is taking us.

"Plant Boy?" Daniel blurts as I'm chasing the last bit of balsamic-and-something-or-other sauce around my plate with the last slice of tomato.

I have to laugh at the bewilderment on his face.

"All this time?"

"Sorry."

"You've wanted me all this time?"

"Yeah."

Daniel frowns at me.  "Have you ever come close to…to making a pass at me?"

"I came close when I took you fishing," I tease.

"The tickling!" Daniel accuses me.  "You were sublimating."

"Busted," I mourn, grinning as he gives me a distinctly flirty look from beneath his lashes.

"Plant Boy!"

I shrug.  I make no excuse.  I'm a mutt and proud of it.

"Sublimating your sexual desire into childish Alpha Male displays," Daniel muses, looking as pleased as he sounds.  He stiffens suddenly and glares at me.  "Spacemonkey?" he asks dangerously.

"I swear to God."  I try to look innocent, which doesn't help my case much.  Falling in love with Daniel didn't happen in a minute or a month or a year.  I felt that pull, and buried it.  I knew I cared more for him than I'd cared for any friend and I went with the flow and refused to think about what it meant.  I felt desire boiling up from nowhere, slamming right through me, never leaving me completely, not from that day to this, and I learned to live with it, to sublimate it as Daniel says.  I've been in love with him for a long time.  I think I know when it happened, I think I knew I loved him when I got the knowledge of the Ancients fused to my synapses and he refused to leave me.  Seeing his face in the briefing room footage…I knew it, but still, that Plant Boy moment grabbed me by the balls and rocked my world.  I've had so many reasons to keep my peace, and the only one it would take to make me break it is still one I'm waiting for.

I've got a chance now, one I don't intend to blow.  A chance Daniel will finally learn to love me back.

"Wanna watch a movie?  You can pick," I tempt, my gut tightening in anticipation.  He wants to kiss?  Just let me get him on that couch…

"Sure," Daniel shrugs as he finishes his wine, sets down the glass and heads down into the living room, another of those tentative flirty looks drawing me right after him.

I catch Daniel as he reaches the couch, just turning to sit, his eyes widening as I close in and pull his glasses off, Daniel instinctively fumbling for them, swallowing hard and letting me set them down out of harm’s way.

"Jack?" he asks uncertainly.

I'm not sure if that's a smile or a wince on his face as I close in again, but he's not backing down.  Too late either way.  I'm going to kiss him.  I can wait for everything else but I have to kiss him.  Have to.  He's mine if we kiss, he's committed.  Can't, won’t quit on me.  Mine.

I firmly take his face between my hands and draw him strongly to me, my eyes fixed on his, huge, drowned as reality bites and my mouth is bruisingly hard against his.  Daniel gasps in shock, literally staggering as I free him.

"Oh, shit," he groans as I pull him into my arms.  "Shi…mmmph."

God, he's sweet, so fucking sweet.  I never imagined.  His lips look soft, soft and full, but they're firm against mine, firm and mobile and yielding.  I thrust deep and Daniel staggers again, arms curving desperately up over my shoulders for balance as I drive relentlessly into his warm, silken softness and take him down to the couch beneath me in a tangle of limbs.

His body is warm and firm, trembling beneath mine, fitting me perfectly, his heart is racing and Christ, what a RUSH this is.

The breath hitches in Daniel's throat as he feels how hard I am when I push my hips subtly into his.  He's scarily still for a long moment, my hands smoothing over his face as I passionately kiss him, shakily stroking over the softest skin I've ever known on a man and suddenly Daniel is back, he's with me.  Letting me…kissing me back, thrusting tentatively against my probing tongue.

I groan as he wraps a long leg around mine, the other slipping down to brace against the floor as the force of my kiss jolts into him.  Losing it.  I'm losing it.  His breath is sobbing as I eat him alive, the hands on his face aren't enough to reassure…he's getting hard.  He's hard and he's shaking; he's losing it too.  For all his decisions and his fine ideas he wasn't expecting…

"Danny," I sigh into his ear, muscles burning as I fight myself to stillness, fight the urge to take.

Daniel's gentle mouth wavers and then he finds a hint of a smile.  "Danny?  I…I like that.  Here.  L-like this."

I teased him with Danny and Dannyboy until I realised whose pet name it was, and it felt cheap to use a name that meant family to him.  I know the importance of that.  None better.  "Danny," I whisper caressingly as I drop my head and kiss him again, coaxing him to open to me and sliding sweetly home as he arches up to meet me.  His fingers are careful in my hair, mine framing his face as we kiss deeply; slow and tender.

Daniel's hands skim cautiously down my back as I kiss and suckle dreamily at his throat, getting off on the soft moans he can't suppress.  I haven't pushed it, think he's got enough to contend with in embarrassingly eager erections alone, so I leave him be.  He hesitates and hovers for a long while, but finally his hands respectfully cup my ass.  I wriggle encouragingly and he flinches away for a beat, then settles again.

I think I know what he wants.  The sweat is standing on his brow, gathering at the hollow of his throat and his breathing is hitching from more than the way I'm nuzzling his neck.  He's flushed and dazed with desire, biting his lip as he pushes up into my subtly rocking hips.  It's easy and gentle but the rhythm is there, he's moving achingly beneath me, his fingers clenching at my shoulders.

I'm not going to do him on my couch.

Daniel jerks and pulls at me instinctively when I lift myself free of him but he follows readily when I hold out my hand to him.

"Bed."

That's all I have to say, and Daniel's eyes light with pleasure.  I slip my arm around his waist, keep him close by my side as I lead him up the stairs, pausing only to scoop up his bag as we head around the corner to the bedroom.  I usher him in, hand him the bag and with a quick, hard kiss leave him to go grab some candles.  I figure maybe he could use some privacy while he changes.  He doesn’t like to be touched, and it’s instinctual.  For Daniel to be comfortable enough to even sit close enough to brush your side is a big thing.  He lets me in, lets me hug him, hold his shoulder, slap him on the back, whatever.  We’re talking a leap of faith from that to him letting me feel him up.  This isn’t the time for the colonel in the china shop routine.

Daniel deserves finesse.  And ambience.  When I lope back into the bedroom he’s snuggled under the quilt, his face an endearing mix of embarrassment, nerves and excitement.

I don’t exactly linger over lighting the candles on the bureau.  I see bare skin and white knuckles.  I’m sensing it’s now or never.  It only takes me a minute to grab my sweats and shuck my clothes.  The sweats are easy enough to take off if it gets that far, but my dick is a tad on the bullish side.

“How often do you think about having sex with me?” Daniel asks out of the blue.

I glance over my shoulder in surprise and catch him staring wide-eyed at my butt.  “As often as you think about books.”

Daniel strives for a response as I roll into bed.  I sleep on the left side, but it’s already full of shaky archaeologist so I’m letting it slide this once.  I kind of like that love poem, that let me count the ways thing.   My ways don’t run to giving up my side of the bed.  He’d better get used to it.

“Pervert,” he manages at last.

“Hey!  I’m not the one fondling my scrolls on SGC time,” I complain as I spoon into his side and snake my arms around him.  His retort is swallowed by my eager tongue.  I take it slow and simple, totally focused on kissing Daniel, allowing him to relax into the embrace in his own time and in his own way.  His arms curve up around my shoulders and gradually urge me closer until we’re touching the length of our bodies.  His skin is extraordinary, satin smooth and supple beneath my fingers as I slowly trace the sleek lines of his muscles, skimming over his arms and shoulders.

 

Danny is built.  No question.  He’s still slender, but the long lean lines of him are perfectly proportioned.  I can’t get enough, stroking everywhere as he moans and arches into my hands.  The heat is coming off him in waves as his hands venture over my back and I drop my head to kiss a trail down his chest.  Daniel’s shallow breathing quickens as my tongue flickers over his nipple and he whimpers when I settle down to suckle in earnest, nibbling and tonguing each in turn until he’s writhing.

I stretch up for a moment to steal a kiss, Daniel’s hands clamping to my head to hold me there as he pushes aggressively into my mouth.  I suck him right in and bite down as my hand wanders lower, coasts over the soft flannel at his waist, curves over his hip and glides down his thigh, heavy on him as I stroke.  I take a risk, roll him towards me a little and curve confidently over his butt, kneading at the taut flesh.  Daniel shudders and squirms into me, letting me edge his tongue free and follow him into his mouth for another lingering exploration.  We find an easy, satisfying rhythm of gentle glides and tussling rasps, just fall into it.  Into each other.

I love the way he’s clinging to me, the way his shy exploration of me grows bolder and more insistent.  I can’t fucking believe my luck, can’t believe I get to have him.  Maybe a lot of this is curiosity right now but he’s willing, he’s giving everything he can and he’s wanting more.  I’m feeling that subtle, aching rhythm of his hips against mine again as he strains into me.

He needs release.

I nudge him flat on his back, gently working my hand between his knees and up, nice and easy, Daniel’s thighs parting naturally with the soft, massaging strokes until I can cup his erection.

“Ja-ack!” Daniel’s gasp is strangled as he arches off the bed.

I roll onto him and pull him back with me so we wind up on our sides together, my left arm comfortably clasped around Daniel’s shoulders, Daniel’s legs either side of my waist, just enough space between us for my right hand to comfortably massage his erection through the fuzzy fabric.  I curl up so my thighs are warm against his butt.

Daniel reaches out, stroking trembling fingers over my brow and cheek.

“Jack.”

I meet Daniel as he leans into me, nuzzling restlessly cheek to cheek, temple to temple.  Daniel’s slumberous eyes flutter closed as I rub and stroke him through the cloth.  I watch him, watch his every move as desire flushes the delicate skin, as he bites his lip, his hands digging desperately into my shoulders as his legs hook around my waist and he clings to me.  I feel every pang of ecstasy shuddering through Daniel’s body as I pleasure him.  His breathing quickens and he leans in to kiss me again and again.

“Oh, God, Jack, please,” Daniel moans.  “Pleeeease.”

That’s what I’ve been waiting for and I wait no longer, pushing the jammies down until I can free him.  He groans as I take him possessively in hand, his dick jerking against my palm.

“Jesus, Danny, look at you,” I breathe.  He’s fucking perfect.  Perfect.  I trail my fingers greedily over the velvety skin to the head, brushing my thumb over and over the sensitive tip as the moisture beads and I can smooth it over his dick.  I hold him, hot, hard and heavy in my hand.  Mine.  He’s MINE.  I get a smooth, gliding grip going and work his dick firmly, my fingers curled tightly as I stroke up and down, Daniel groaning and shuddering a little more with every strong, slow caress.  I know how I want this to be for him, I want to take him to the edge and keep him there, let the pleasure ripple through him until he can’t stand it and he falls for me, just as slow, just as satisfying.  He has to know this is about HIM, that it’s MY pleasure to do this for him.

We kiss, tongues gliding easily, thrusting in perfect time with my slowly pumping hand, Daniel content to lie close and still, giving himself over to what I’m making him feel.  I refuse to quicken the pace, determined to draw the climax out for him.  I’m getting off on watching him surrender to his own sensuality, bracing his legs around my back so he can rock into my waiting hand.  Daniel drives the pace, my hand quickening obediently on him as he tightens around me to thrust into my palm with short, sharp stabs, groaning low in his throat as his hips spasm, the shudders pulsing to the core of him as he comes, his climax as slow and easy as I wanted it to be for him.

I fumble for tissues to clean us enough for comfort, set his jammies to rights and untangle us to stretch out side by side.  I hush Daniel when he tries to speak, hold him close to me as I soothe the tremors away.

“I could…” Daniel offers shyly, a coaxing hand gentle on my stomach.

I lift the hand to my lips and kiss his palm.  Daniel’s eyes widen and his hand trembles as he strokes it caressingly over my face.  He’s a bright guy, a sensitive guy.  He doesn’t offer to do me again, but he does wrap himself around me and rest his head on my shoulder, his hand clasped in mine.

I want to tell him that I love him, but my gut is telling me it’s too soon.  He’s got enough right now with friends who have sex.  I glance down at him, sprawled bonelessly content at my side.  GOOD sex.  His mind will make the jump to ‘lovers’, I’ve no doubt about that.

And for the rest, I have hope.

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

DANIEL

“Doctor Jackson?”

The general's question makes me jump.  I peer vaguely at my notes, which I can't read.  My eyes don't seem to be working.  The only thing in focus right now is Jack.

Jack.

"Doctor?" George gently prompts.

Um.  Okay.  They're all LOOKING at me now.  Concerned.  Supportive.  Complacent.

Jack.

Mmm.

What?  Oh.  Right.  Um…“The device was never intended to be a weapon, Sir.  It was in fact something in the nature of a call to prayer.  The inscriptions described a sonorous bell-like tone echoing around the city, most pleasing to the senses.”

Jack MUST stop smiling at me that way.  He MUST.

“So Carter broke it and THEN she blew it up?” Jack taunts but his heart isn’t in it.  He’s smiling.  Still.

Gawd.  I can’t string a coherent sentence here.  Sam is excited about the way the aliens manipulated sound waves but she’s making no sense.  She’s just noise.  Nice, friendly white noise.

“Are you seriously telling me we were almost taken out by the frigging P.A. system?” Jack demands incredulously.  “That frosts my cookies, Carter.”

“Sir,” Sam snaps.

Three hours ago Jack was kissing me awake and I’ve thought about nothing but his mouth since.  His beautiful, talented filthy mouth.  And where he wants to put his mouth the moment he gets me home.  He can’t LOOK at me like that.  I can’t think when he…I can’t think.

We made love.  Jack took me to bed and made love to me, loved me until I came so hard and long I’m still seeing stars.  I know it’s been a while, but still.  Stars.  Tonight he’ll be making love WITH me.  I can’t believe how gentle he was, how…how giving.  I thought it would be NICE.  Pleasant.  It was…it was amazing.  Shattering.  HE was shattering.  It HAS been a while, a LONG while.  I know.  But he’s GOOD.  Oh, God, is he GOOD.  He wouldn’t let me…I offered but he refused.  I was so clumsy.  He told me that he wanted us to be about what I want right now, but I lost sight of that in what he gave me last night.  Jack doesn’t want me touching him for his sake, but for mine.  When I want to be with him, when I want to touch him, he won’t refuse.

I want…I want him now.  Now as in RIGHT now.

“Very well, Major,” George acknowledges.  “If you think you have enough data to attempt some controlled experiments I’ll authorise some downtime for SG-1.”

Oops.  I was so busy lusting after Jack I missed that.  What experiments?

“Sonic kaboom,” Jack mouths.

Mouth.  Mmm.  Niiiice mouth.

“…expect to have your report by the 25th, Doctor Jackson.”

Sure, George.  Whatever.

Report?

What report?

“P9R-795,” Jack mouths as George dismisses us.

He’s smiling again.  Not George.  Jack.  George is too, but…I don’t know what I’m talking about here.  My brain is in my shorts.

Jack waits patiently while I gather up my files, which takes some time. Teal’c has to hand me one that apparently escaped my attention as I look absently round the table, then he bows in response to my equally absent thanks and heads off with Sam to sonically kaboom stuff I gather.  From Jack’s mouth.  Lovely mouth.  Mine.  All mine.

Jack beams at me.  “Lunch?”

“It’s ten o’clock,” I say blankly.

Jack rolls his eyes.  “Would you like to have lunch with me?” he explains with exaggerated patience as he strolls around the table to join me.

“My office,” I say firmly as Jack gently steers my erratic course towards the door.  If he’s going to be doing things with his mouth, right in front of me, he’d better do them in private for a while.  At least until my brain has been retrieved from my shorts.  Which will be a few minutes after we get home tonight if Jack is a man of his mouth.

Word.

I meant mouth.

I mean word.

I don’t know what I mean.

“Cool,” Jack says brightly.  “Lunch is on you.”

I don’t miss the roguish look.  Okay.  Jack's rules.  I have to want.  I want that.  I definitely want that.  Not on base, but I want that.  NO!  NOT on base, so it’s no good wanting it NOW.

I want it now and I’m goddamn certain I’ll be INSISTING on it later.

“You remembered about this reception thingy we got?” Jack prompts as he calls the elevator.

“No.”  Yes.  Dress uniform?  Mmm.   Niiiice.  I ogle Jack’s derriere shamelessly as he walks into the elevator ahead of me.  "We?  Um…you weren't on that mission.  You were getting zapped by swarms of killer laser-bees."

"I'm coming to the reception thingy," Jack insists.

"Why?"  Seriously.  Jack has never knowingly schmoozed.  He has to be forcibly reminded about doing his duty to get him there when he has to be, and nothing George says will induce him to BEHAVE when he does.  Volunteering?  It's unprecedented.

“You got that suit?” Jack hisses as soon as the doors close.  “The nice one?”

They’re all nice, but I left my tweed jacket at home so...

“The black one.  The HOT one.”

Oh.  That one.  Funeral suit.  I nod weakly as Jack's smug pleasure expands to fill every available inch of elevator complacent lust didn't get to first.

“Shirt?”

Usually.

“The grey one?”

I nod again.  Does grey really bring out my eyes?

“Wear them home,” Jack orders emphatically.

Apparently so.  “You too,” I blurt.

Jack winks.  “Shades," he offers generously.

Those aviator ones?  AND the mouth?  Ohmygod.  It’s ten o’clock.  TEN o’clock.  In the MORNING.  I’m not going to make it.


Jack decided to come with.  He had a vague conviction he should know something about the Yjro if he's turning up in dress blues to annoy them this afternoon, so he's currently camped out with my laptop and my mission report.  Major Martin's report is currently being expressed to us via clerk, as my report is apparently coming up short on local colour like how big the guns are.

I'm watching Jack. USAF personnel are trained to knock, right?  We could do it.  Right here.  Lock the doors and do it.  His rules.  He SAID whatever I want.  I want to lock the doors and do it.  Right here.  Right now.  As in RIGHT NOW.

10.07am.

I'm not going to make it.


"Who's this Lysander guy?" Jack asks casually, leaning back precariously in his chair to put his feet up on my desk.  The clerk brought Jack his copy of Major Martin's report, then Jack brought us coffee and himself doughnuts.

10.47am.  I still want to do it.

"He was a historian, a scholar.  At the age of fourteen, the Yjro move into one of four Guilds for formal training.  The Guild of Warriors' function is fairly obvious, the Polites…"

"Ah, I read that.  Thought you meant polite as in nice people."

"Po-lit-ays, Jack, not 'polite'," I explain patiently.  "It's from the Greek…"

"Isn't it always?" Jack grumbles, biting vengefully into a doughnut.  "NOT nice people?"

"From the GREEK, polites meaning a citizen.  This is the Guild from which the Yjro draw their healers, lawyers, judges and public servants.  The Guild of Commerce produces artisans and tradesmen.  And the Schole - from the Greek meaning school - is the Guild of philosophers, historians and scientists.  The Yjro spend a year in each Guild before their formal education is complete, and then they choose which of the Guilds to commit to as journeymen, the commitment to a Guild being for four years.  The Yjro are granted the rights and privileges of citizenship only after completing their training as journeymen.  The society has evolved in so many fascinating ways from the classical Athenian…"

"Yadda," Jack waves his second or third doughnut dismissively.

"But it's stable and functional.  They haven't fought each other for ten generations which is more than we can say," I snap tartly.  And consequently their technology is more advanced than ours.

"And this guy Lysander?" Jack persists.

"The historian the Schole provided to assist me with surveying the ruins of the ancient city of Acis, the one the Goa'uld destroyed.  He was very helpful."

"Not helpful enough to say HOW they beat the Goa'uld."

"Well, no," I admit reluctantly, "but that wasn't the point.  His interest was in the ancient culture of his people.  From what we were able to piece together from the fragmented tablets which were all that remained of the ancient Codex, it seemed clear to me the Goa'uld were destroyed by 'divine intervention', a storm to end all storms out of which bolts of lightning struck down the defilers of the temple.  Sound familiar?"

"Oma get your gun!" Jack hoots.

"Something like that.  Her race seemed to have intervened, anyway.  Which means the Yjro don't have any big honkin' space gun we can use."

"Damn."

"They do however have copious quantities of naquadah, hence the three months of tortuous negotiations with the Politarch Acteon which Stan Kovacek doesn't want wasted and the reception for the treaty signing this afternoon."

"Politarch?  Guy in charge?"

"Guy in charge," I agree solemnly.  "I liked him a lot.  His 'nubile' consort Corralin was seventy-three and Acteon still looked at her like she was seventeen."

Jack grins broadly.  "So you had a good time while I was getting zapped by laser-bees and dodging the Brain Trust."

“I had a great time.”

"So it would seem.  How come there are twelve hours of mission time neither you nor Major Martin can account for?" Jack asks coolly.

Um, I had a really great time? Unintentionally of course.  "Zoya.  A fruit drink I was assured was good for stomach disorders, which we all needed after the nio…a native delicacy which may have been cheese before it was apparently fossilised," I admit a tad bitterly.  There’s not much to choose between nio and laser-bees.

"A fruit drink?"

"Not fermented," I say firmly.  "I asked."  This doesn't seem to help.  A zapped, doped-up Jack might have let this one slip at the time but raging hormones are no excuse for me letting him read that report in his right mind now.  "It was just punch."

"Apparently it packed a big one," Jack snaps.  "Given your report breaks off abruptly at the Yjro Meet 'N' Greet feast and picks up twelve hours later at an entirely different locale."  Jack makes a great show of perusing the report.  "Known as the Damae Gardens."

"The Great Library is at Damae," I say defensively.

"Dr Fraiser refers to a narcotic of unknown origin," Jack informs me crisply.

"I can't remember a damn thing, Jack, but Janet checked me out THOROUGHLY and I was FINE," I mutter sullenly.

"You blacked out!"

I avoid his eyes.  It's probably not a good idea to mention I woke up to a glorious sunrise in a verdant flower-filled bower by a lambent pool, more or less in uniform, with a heap of scrolls tumbled wantonly in the wet grass and Lysander spoiling for a fight, more or less at the point of Major Martin's gun.  Neither of them were Happy Campers, especially when I broke up said fight and made them help me gather up the scrolls.  I don't know what Major Martin told Janet - possibly something to do with the fact I couldn’t see out of my left eye for three hours - but she was like a pit-bull during my painfully THOROUGH post-mission examination.

"You got stoned and went to the library?" Jack asks in quite another voice.

I look up hopefully to find that incredible warmth and tenderness in his eyes.

"Only you," he says gently.

11.01am.

I want to kiss him.  He wants to kiss me.  We're not…

"Oh, Jack," I sigh into his throat as he engulfs me a vast hug.

Jack shivers.  "Not on base," he says desperately, palliating the severity of the rejection by hugging me closer.  "We are SO not going to make it," he groans.

I lean back and look at him.

We don't.


"This is a lousy party," Jack grumbles, gazing around the gateroom with a jaundiced eye.  "No eats."

"On my advice," I mumble back.  "It’s taken three months and lot of hard negotiation for the Yjro to agree to grant us the status of philoi, or friends, via treaty.  As xenoi or foreigners we are tolerated, welcomed even, but we aren't granted any protection in trade.  The Yjro societal values have evolved independently from those of classical Greece, as I said, but every action, every decision is based on reciprocity."

"You scratch my back?"

"Try pissing contest," I say wryly.  "They're here to trade and I want the focus to be on that, not our inadequacy as hosts.  They've already won the welcome wagon war."

Jack turns to give Major Disaster Davis the evil eye.  He says he's our Pentagon liaison but Jack knows a bean-counter when he sees one.  Davis counted the beans on the kind of display we'd have to put on to equal the Yjro feast in our honour and said 'NO WAY!'  We could run to Heinz, apparently.

I turn and give Colonel Simmons the evil eye.  I know a prick when I see one.  He glares right back.  Maybe I should sic Jack on him.  Davis is wilting visibly because Jack is Not Happy about the complete dearth of snacks in the immediate vicinity.

I shift restlessly at Jack's side, watching George trying to get Stan to breathe deep from the looks of things.  I sympathise entirely.  Nobody has a clue about the agonies I go through for these stupid things.  You can't even comprehend the concept of humiliation until you've been faced with the prospect of serving a System Lord a chicken and mushroom vol-au-vent.  You can't pander to the whims of megalomaniacs or the mores of ancient noble cultures with a budget of $10 a head.  You just can't.  I'm an archaeologist.  I shouldn't have to.  How did 'linguist' translate into military for 'diplomat on a shoestring'?

I can't even be a normal diplomat.  I have to write and speak in clear, comprehensible English and live up to being 'inspirational'.  On a budget of $10 a head.  Inspirational!  Me!  WHY me?

Stupid question.  It's just my luck.  BAAD luck.  I'd warn Jack that he's doomed, but he's known me for years.  He knows I'm Murphy's Law in a boonie.  He thinks my being so damn hot cancels out his being doomed and if the worst does come to the worst, at least he'll die happy.

And if you want to talk inspirational, Jack has promised to wear his uniform AND his shades home.  I have something very specific in mind for the extraction.

The familiar klaxon sounds and George heads briskly over to take his place at the head of our little party, ordering Davis – Walter, not Disaster - to open the iris when he confirms the signal from the Yjro.  The party consists of me, Jack, Major Davis, Stan, Simmons – Colonel, not Graham - and Major Martin, who oddly enough seems even more nervous than Stan looks or I feel.  George has had to cover all the bases because the Yjro are being infuriatingly coy about quite what it is they want in return for limitless pure naquadah.  George has the President's authority to negotiate, of course, but he'll need back-up on the logistics.

We stand in a neat line as the wormhole kerwhooshes and stabilises and George is already moving out to graciously greet our guests.

"I'm General Hammond, leader of this facility."

"I am Acteon, Politarch of the Yjro."

Jack gets his first good look at the venerable Politarch Acteon.  "All he needs is the red suit and the reindeer," he chokes.

The beard IS fairly spectacular.  I frown a little.  Acteon looks and sounds more frail even than the last time we spoke, at his palace.  He's failing fast.

"And this is my son and Heir, Lysander," Acteon announces proudly.

Jack snaps up to his full height and stiffens alarmingly as the cohort of plumed guards parts and Lysander steps forward to shake George's hand.  Jack shoots me a look that could etch glass.

It's not my fault!  I didn't know he'd be here, and I certainly didn't know he was Acteon's son.  He didn't mention it.  NOBODY mentioned it.  What exactly is Jack's problem?  Lysander isn't just a geek, he's a geek in a short skirt.

"This Colonel Jack O'Neill, team leader of SG-1," George draws Jack into the introductions, "And I believe you know Dr Jackson and Major's Kovacek and Martin."

"Daniel," Acteon beams, clasping my shoulders to draw me into a fond embrace.

Jack snorts when Acteon ritually kisses both of my cheeks.

"Daniel," Lysander acknowledges softly as he draws me in and kisses me in turn.

I think I hear teeth grinding.  Um, not Jack's.  Or rather, not JUST Jack's.  Twilight Zone here.  They're ALL straightening up and going Jackian on me.

Just what is everyone's problem?

"General Hammond, know that we have thought long and hard on this," Acteon announces gravely.  "Though Daniel was xenoi to us but a short time ago, he is the wish of my Heir's heart and pleasing to us all.  We will meet his eggue price, though a pledge such this has never been asked before.  This metal you seek is yours in full measure."

Eggue?

George looks at me expectantly.  Jack glowers.

EGGUE?

"Shit," Stan whispers.

Woo.  Jack’s right.  Only me.  I got stoned on fruit juice, I got lost for twelve hours, I went to a library, I got ENGAGED?


“Options?” George asks briskly as he takes his seat at the head of the table.

“Teal’c has already offered to kill Lysander in single combat,” Jack snaps.  “Finish off the tour of the base on a high note.”

“Sane options,” I snap back.

Disaster Davis marches briskly out of George’s office and slips into the only free seat, sandwiched between Stan and the disgraced Major Martin, who’s as far away from Jack as we can get him.  He still looks pale and shaky, which has everybody wondering what the hell Jack managed to do to him in the two minutes he had him cornered before the SFs caught up and rescued him.

“The Chief of Staff has ordered us to secure the naquadah by any means necessary,” Davis reports.  He instantly becomes the cynosure of all contemptuous eyes, except for Simmons, and Jack, who’s just going straight for homicidal hatred.  “EXCEPT trading Dr Jackson, of course,” he adds hastily.

“Big of them,” Jack drawls.

Colonels to the left of me…

“Not really,” Simmons drawls back.  “Dr Jackson has unique knowledge and skills.  We don’t trade up unique.”  He glances at me.  “Not for naquadah, anyway.”

Colonels to the right of me…Sam and Janet in front of me, looking pissed.

“Doctor?” George queries gently.

I blush.  And here we go again.  Charging back into the Valley of Humiliation.  “I can’t account for my actions in those twelve hours, Sir,” I admit reluctantly.  I’m pretty sure I’d have remembered another man getting down on one knee and proposing, though.  Fairly sure.  And I’m positive I wouldn’t have said yes.

I notice Janet grimacing and rolling her eyes at…at Jack!  I stamp on his foot.  Hard.  I would NEVER be stoned enough to have sex with a total stranger, so he can cut that OUT, and anyway, I suspect Janet checked.  It was a very THOROUGH examination.  Jack can rest assured, he won’t be relieving me of my virginity any time soon.

“MAJOR?” George fires his annoyance the length of the table.

“Sir, I or one of my men was with Dr Jackson at ALL times as per Colonel O’Neill’s instructions,” Martin begins miserably.

I glare at Jack.  What am I?  The kind of guy who can’t be let out of Jack’s sight without getting myself engaged to another guy?  Or something?

“And Major Carter’s.”

Sam blushes and avoids my eyes.

“And Master Teal’c of Chulak’s threats.”

Oh.  Um…

“Despite Lysander’s obvious interest in Dr Jackson, I had no concern for his safety.”

Janet snorts and then SHE won’t meet my eyes.

“OBVIOUS interest?” Jack and I demand as one.

“Blatant,” Martin says firmly.  “Lysander himself seemed concerned about the presence of a chaperone.  I accompanied Dr Jackson and Lysander on their visit to the library on the night in question.”

“Even if you can’t remember it,” Sam spits stormily.

“Colonel,” George warns.

Jack sniffs haughtily.

“Doctor Fraiser?”

Gawd, I could die.  Why don’t they just come out and ask me if I think I got laid?  I’m certain I didn’t or I wouldn’t have come like a freight train when Jack waved his hands at my dick.

“Dr Jackson’s medical records are confidential as you well know,” Janet responds icily, “but I can assure you he sustained no physical injuries.”

Jack relaxes infinitesimally, shooting Martin an ‘I may let you live’ look.

“That brings us back to the question of options if we’re to secure the naquadah,” Simmons interjects smoothly.  “Colonel O’Neill’s suggestion of rounding the Yjro up and marching them back through the wormhole at Zatpoint aside.”

I wonder if Simmons is Graham Simmons’ dad?  I hope he’s not, poor kid.  He’s never lived down that crush on Sam.  Having to own up to an asshole like this, on top of that?  Talk about a loser.

“For the moment,” Jack emphasises.

“Could one of us pretend to be Daniel’s wife?” Sam offers tentatively.

“Indeed,” Janet says warmly.

They both smile at me.  I smile back, touched by their generosity.  Jack glares at them.  They both glare back.  Jack needs to get a grip. They both look like they want to get a grip on him.

“I’m afraid I told Lysander about…about…” I falter awkwardly and the glares melt to tender sympathy and concern.  Jack is still glowering though.

“I understand,” George says sympathetically.

“That doesn’t mean I can’t…” Janet begins.  Sam scowls at her.

“Or I can’t,” Sam snaps.  Janet scowls back.

“Pretend we’re with you now,” they finish.

“Both of them?” Jack growls sotto voce.

“They asked a lot of questions about marriage customs,” Stan says heavily.  “Dr Jackson was kind enough to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on some of the key Western ideals and philosophies.  I’m afraid they would legitimately question why Dr Jackson kept secret a relationship which would be the norm for our society.”

“A POWERPOINT presentation?” Jack asks me incredulously.  “‘Daniel’s relative dating’?” he hurls at Stan.

Stan stares at him stonily.  “I can’t see any way it wouldn’t be construed as a deliberate insult to their honour, given Dr Jackson himself told Lysander he wasn’t seeing anyone,” he insists.  “They’ll walk.”

Not in so many words!  I did say I…I loved my wife.  And I missed her.

“Win win,” Jack snaps.

“And take the naquadah with them,” Davis and Simmons object.

Is Disaster Davis Walter’s little brother?  Cousin?  He’s the third Davis I’ve known at the SGC.  I’m sure there was a woman who was Technician Davis too.  Was she married to Walter?  She left.  Did they split up?  And I really do hope Simmons isn’t Graham’s dad.

“Who cares?” Jack demands angrily.

“The President,” Simmons snaps.

“And the Joint Chiefs,” Davis says apologetically.

Sam and Janet sniff disdainfully.

“So the situation is we can’t refuse the eggue by their society’s standards?” George prompts.

“No,” I admit.  “It would require a ninety day courtship either way, living in the oikos of Acteon and Lysander.  To refuse would be an insult and they’d…”

“Walk and take the naquadah,” George sighs.

“The Zoya in the oikos?  Frickin’ chalice in the palace,” Jack grumbles under his breath.  “So we can’t tell them you’re refusing, we can’t tell them you have a wife because Loose Lips…”

“COLONEL,” George booms.  “Doctor, Major Kovacek?  Based on what you know of Yjro society, is there any way to protect Dr Jackson AND secure the naquadah?”

“What about a relationship that wasn’t the norm for our society?” Simmons asks slowly.  “Would that satisfy them?  If Dr Jackson was involved with someone but couldn’t talk about it because it went against the norm…you can see where I’m going.”

Simmons can see a sea of blank faces.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Stan straightens up, nodding.  “Sir, I think that would do it.  They have no objections to homosexuality.”

“Pfffft!  Obviously!” Jack hoots.

“BUT they accept there are differences between our society and theirs.  I think they’d buy that Dr Jackson wouldn’t choose to reveal such a relationship unless he had no choice.”

That actually makes a lot of sense.  I can’t see another way to secure the naquadah or to avoid offending their honour.  It could work.  I’ve embarrassed myself in worse ways for the cause and if we can secure anything without a shot fired I’ll be happy.  If we don’t get this supply of naquadah we’ll keep looking and perhaps next time…  “The Yjro understand the concept of sunokein, a marriage or relationship which is a private contract, not recognised by the state.  Sunokein isn’t constituted by a wedding ceremony, but by the simple act of living together, and it is binding when one partner enters the oikos of the other.”  The lord and master, which I consider to be information they probably need to know, but I’m not willing to tell them, particularly Jack, who already thinks he IS my lord and master.

It’s a small but necessary act of defiance.  I’m usually as enthusiastic as Sam about the warm glow of testosterone.  Jack gets to do that ‘I am colonel, hear me ROAR’ thing, but I have to make do with ‘I am linguist, hear me correct your pronunciation’.  I tend to be a tad more reasonable and realistic about things.

“Gentlemen?” George prompts.

I look around and slowly realise the only ones to meet my eyes are Sam and Janet, and they’re dying to laugh.  All the gung ho hero hormonal ‘aim high’ types at the table are hanging low, none lower than Jack, who’d need a long ladder to reach snake spit.

“I’ve actually shown Lysander photos of my kids,” Stan mutters defensively.

“I’m requesting a transfer, effective immediately,” Martin says emphatically.

“Granted,” George agrees automatically.

I glance at Major Disaster Davis.  He looks at the Stargate.  Smarmy shit.

I can’t believe this.  They’ll kill or die for the naquadah but they won’t hold my hand?  What’s wrong with me?  I’m so unattractive none of them will help me out?  Including the guy I’m sleeping with?

Simmons shakes his head wearily.  “I’ll do it,” he announces in a tone that leaves me with no doubt he doesn’t need to hear ANYTHING about lords and masters.  OR the teaching of lessons to upstart archaeologists.

“Well I won’t!”  I refuse indignantly.  I’m not having ANYONE thinking SIMMONS is the best I can do!

“Sir, I couldn’t think of a LESS convincing…” Sam begins anxiously.

“Agreed,” George nods briskly.

Hey.  If I have to BEG I think I’ll head out and beg Teal’c to pretend I’m not so repulsive he can stand to be seen with me in public.  Jeez!  “Why don’t you put up a notice in the mess!”

“Jack,” George turns to Colonel Custard.

“Uh uh,” Jack flatly refuses.

“Colonel, you are Dr Jackson’s team leader,” George reminds him coldly.  “You have a responsibility for his welfare.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack raps it out.  “No, Sir.”

“Colonel, I am ORDERING you…”

“With all due respect, General, if Colonel O’Neill objects so vehemently, it won’t exactly contribute to the verisimilitude of the masquerade.  And as my orders ARE to secure the naquadah by any and all means necessary and I don’t work with Dr Jackson on a daily basis, so the potential for embarrassment to both parties is greatly reduced.  Consequently…” Davis shrugs.  “I stand ready to assist.”

Thank you!  I’m glad there’s one guy at this table who doesn’t find the notion of spending time with me nauseating, even if it is the smarmy shit.  Shame it isn’t my lover, but I guess I can’t have everything, can I?  If I could, I wouldn’t be ME.  “I…”

“Thank you, Major, but the Colonel WILL do his duty,” Hammond snaps, glaring at Jack.

Gee, thanks.  Underwhelmed, here.


JACK

“I am very disappointed in you, Colonel,” Hammond tells me coldly.  “Having to be shamed into offering assistance to Dr Jackson by a junior officer not of this command.”

I look suitably apologetic and chastened.  Dr Jackson’s rigid back is pointedly turned as he glares out the window of Hammond’s office.

Even for me, it’s been quite an afternoon.  I’ve never pissed off so many people so much so fast.  Hammond is seething because I didn’t hurl my reputation into the ring right off bat.  Simmons and Davis are pissed because they didn’t get to mess with Daniel, the former with his mind and the latter…he’s a fluent little fucker I’ll be having words with at my leisure.  Martin is spitting blood.  Literally.  He has an orthodontist in his future.  I hope he doesn’t find the Greenland Yellow Pages too challenging a read.  Kovacek is pissed because I dissed him.  Teal’c is pissed because he wants to kill Lysander.  He should get in line.  I feel fat and old next to yon Adonis.  DAVIS felt fat and old.  Carter and Fraiser are treating me like Jack the Ripper.

I don’t know a WORD for how mad Daniel is, but I know far too many words for how HOT he is right now.  Oy vay!  That SUIT!  I suspect Satan will be skating before I get to touch Daniel again at his request, but thanks to my subtly conveyed concern for my reputation during the briefing, I’m under direct orders not to keep my hands off him, and unfortunately for Daniel, it isn’t in him not to suck it up and put on a good show for the folks down home.

It’s a fucking FABULOUS job and I’m THRILLED I get to do him.  I saunter over, spin him around and prop myself casually on the sill next to him.  He’s got his arms crossed over his chest, which used to murmur ‘Daniel in distress’ but is currently snarling ‘touch me again and you fucking DIE, O’Neill!’.  God, is it any wonder I’m crazy about him?  I can’t wait to get him home and kiss the temper right off his face.

I actually think Daniel’s attitude adds to the overall romantic effect, because only someone who loves you THIS much could get THIS mad.  However, my general is cutting his eyes disapprovingly at the meagre show of togetherness.  Tragically for Daniel, orders ARE orders, and I do follow them even on occasions when I don't want to.  Some occasions, anyway.  I reach out and twine my fingers through his.  He puts up quite a fight and kicks me surreptitiously yet viciously in the shin at one point but I persist and he sullenly subsides.

“I hate this,” Daniel complains to Hammond, ostentatiously ignoring me.  “I absolutely hate this.”

God, I LOVE my job.  Fucking love it.  Love him too.  If I don’t get to kiss him right there in the gateroom at least once I’m walking.  I’m slipping THAT much, they should just put me out to pasture.  Kindest thing.

Verisimilitude.  Love that word.  That word gets me Daniel in my bed right here on base under orders if we can’t show Santa and his horny little helpers the wormhole toot sweet.  Hammond is sneaking in an emergency camp bed but unless he’s sleeping on it…

Daniel is so goddamn hot and horny he’s about ready to explode.  If Hammond wasn’t playing third banana, Danny is so worked up he’d jump me, right now, right here.  Jeez, second day of dating and I get make-up sex!

"This way," Teal'c's grave voice sounds outside Hammond's office and a moment later he ushers Santa and Son and Heir into the office.  Teal'c bows out at Hammond's unmistakeable signal.  We haven't had time to brief him on Operation Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I eye Son and Heir.  Sonovabitch more like.

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY should look THAT good in a frickin' DRESS. Even Teal'c was walking tall there.  Son and Heir there is like John Cusack's smarter, sexier, bigger, built brother.  In fact, the only guy who isn't smacked straight in the masculinity is Daniel, but then in his case, it's pot and kettle.  If Daniel wasn't shy, and nice, and didn't love reading every frickin' guy on this base would hate him with a passion.

Sandy's eyes go straight to my hand, oh-so-casually holding Daniel's.  On the surface anyway.  Reality is still pissed as hell and venting on my fingers.  I know Daniel told me he could grind flour but he failed to mention he does fingers too.

Sandy takes a hasty step forward, face freezing.  "What is the meaning of this?" he spits.

You don't get to have him, you don't get to have him, you don't get to have him, he’s MINE!, MINE!!, MINE!!!

Hey.  I am TOTALLY in touch with my inner child, and Psyche Kid is totally fucking hell-bent on getting the rest of me in touch with the inner archaeologist, ASAP.

"I regret that we didn't respond to your generous offer right there in the gateroom," Hammond says smoothly, "but the matter is one of great delicacy as I'm sure you can appreciate.  Dr Jackson is in fact involved, as you can see."  He gestures lightly at Daniel and me as he ushers Santa and Sandy into seats and takes his own.

Sandy is shooting killing looks at me and reproachful, longing glances at Daniel.  Daniel is fielding the reproach and batting back sorrowful sympathy.  Sandy gets the big blue-eyed charm, which is exactly what got Daniel in this mess in the first place and I get fe-fi-fo-fummed?

What part of MINE, MINE, MINE don't they get?  I'm the POSSESSIVE type.  This SHOULD be obvious.  And if it's not, I'll MAKE it.

"He and Colonel O'Neill have been together for some time now, but have chosen not to reveal their relationship in accordance with our customs here on Earth," Hammond explains sympathetically.

"Daniel spoke of Sha'uri!" Sandy argues.

"Be at peace, my son," Acteon soothes.  "Remember your love is with us even now.  You do him no honour with your hasty words and accusations."

"My regret," Sandy bows his head to Santa and Daniel.

I'm still getting the 'Homicide: Blood In The Office' treatment.

"Colonel O'Neill's feelings for Dr Jackson are of long standing," Hammond announces gravely.  "It was his honour alone that bade him wait until Dr Jackson had truly mourned the loss of Sha'uri.  His actions are such as to command MY respect."

I stare narrowly at Hammond.  Yeah, I think he would respect that, given he just hit the nail on the head.  Or he would if he actually had a clue it was the truth, possibly in the five minutes it would take him to draw up my retirement papers.

"Agreed," Acteon nods approvingly.  "We would wish no less an observance in respect of Daniel's loss."

Sandy bows again.  "You speak with care of your customs now, but Daniel spoke freely of them at Damae.  I have his word that he would let the judgement of no man turn from what he knew to be right.  If we are to believe this love is right, why then was it not spoken of by Daniel or by any other man?  If there is shame in it for Daniel and for this...O'Neill," he spits, "It cannot be right and must be put aside."

"The feeling are not wrong, Lysander," Daniel says softly, "But Jack serves in the military and it is the policy, the LAW of the military that such relationships are not spoken of."

"That's correct," Hammond agrees.

For the record, don't ask don't tell BITES.  Daniel glances at me, then again, for a long moment.  His face melts suddenly…my heart thuds sickeningly at the warmth in his eyes, the tiny smile playing about his mouth.  I know that ‘still can’t believe his luck’ face.  Same face I kissed awake this morning.  I tighten my grip on Daniel involuntarily and he relaxes, returning my clasp instead of fighting me.  I’m thinking of suckling that champagne out of his navel.  Got my reservations for the Big Date.  A cancellation, the only way we could get the Dale Street gig before Christmas.  Dinner and Billy Joel covers in the Garden Room with a Daniel who can look at me like this?  God, I can’t WAIT.  Shame we’re working this weekend, we could have had a dry run.  Worked out the kinks.

Kinks.

Does he have kinks?

"There are consequences in the breaking of this law you speak of?" Sandy asks smoothly.

"Indeed," Hammond agrees.

"Then why is it spoken of now?" he snaps.

"Out of respect for…" Hammond tries.

"I do not believe you.  If the law is to be silent you had only to refuse the eggue and allow us to go on our way.  Instead you would have us believe these two are lovers so we give up our claim on Daniel and still you take the price for him, is that not so?" he demands edgily.  "You want only this metal we have and you seek.  I tell you now, it offends my honour greatly to barter with such as yourself.  You say you seek to become philoi to the Yjro, but I tell you true your thought is to be philoi to the metal only and I name you ekhthroi to the Yjro for the liars you are.  Daniel is not as you, 'tis you who make him so."

Sandy is one smart fucker.  Hell, I'd fight to the death for Daniel myself.  "Ekhthroi?"

"Enemies," Daniel confirms gloomily.

Oops.  Guess we can kiss the naquadah goodbye.

"You're right that Dr Jackson is bound to obey orders, but that doesn't change the nature of his relationship with Colonel O'Neill, which he is revealing now only to assure you of our good intentions towards you and your people.  We're prepared to trade other items of value for the naquadah."

"You have nothing we seek, excepting Daniel himself," Acteon announces coldly. "We did not seek to trade with you, but to meet the price you set for Daniel's hand."

"That's what you thought this was all along," Hammond sighs wearily as he answers his own question.  "There's no possibility you might reconsider and trade for technology or medicines?"

"We would name you metoikoi and trade in kind if there could be trust between us, but we do not believe this tale you have spun to keep Daniel from Lysander's side," Acteon snaps.

Lysander's bed more like.

Hammond brightens up.  "Well, then, if Lysander could be persuaded to stay the night and judge for himself the relationship between Colonel O'Neill and Dr Jackson," he invites.

That'd do it.  Happen to love the guy.  Nothing will convince Sandy we’re in love quicker and better than me driving Daniel into a full-blown linguistic snit.

I should NOT be thinking blow.

"A night?  If I could not see their love between one beat of the heart and the next, how then am I to see it in a night?" Sandy sneers.

He been hanging out with that Narim guy?  He whitters on just as embarrassingly.

"We're not good at showing our feelings, Lysander," Daniel says gently.  "Neither of us."

Tell it. And while you’re in the mood, tell me about KINKS.

"Perhaps it is not in the speaking of it, but in the doing," Acteon muses.  "I agree a night is not enough to judge."

"SG-1 is scheduled to go off-world tomorrow," Hammond says calmly.  "One night is all I can authorise."

“It does not matter,” Sandy sneers.  “I will not believe this lie.  If the law of your military is that this is never to be spoken of, what then will be the consequences for O’Neill if you speak of it now?  A night is not enough to judge.”

“You speak wisely, my son,” Acteon praises.  “If this affair were all you would have us believe it to be, then you could have no objections to an honour-guard of peltasts for Daniel.”

“And that would entail?” Hammond asks cautiously.

“Peltasts?” Daniel perks up.

Typical.  I can’t get him interested in ‘Guns & Ammo’ AT gunpoint but wave a hint of a ceremonial spear and the man is TOAST.

“The honour-guard would remain in the oikos of O’Neill and Daniel for three moons,” Sandy gloats.

“That is OUR law,” Acteon snaps.  “If you will not accede, we will declare you ekhthroi and leave this place.”

“In my HOUSE?”  For three months?  I can’t survive another NIGHT of downtime let alone three months, and if Daniel and I HAD public sex, I’d have to retire.  Daniel can’t have a lover who’s RETIRED.  It would be TOO embarrassing for him.  Plus we have shit to do like, I dunno…fuck the snakes over?

Hammond just closes his eyes in pain.

Fuuuuck.

We are SOOO not getting the naquadah.


Daniel stalks at my side, head held high as we escort Santa and Sandy down to the Gateroom.  He’s absolutely furious about the fact I’m blatantly strolling along with a song in my heart, though fortunately not on my lips, and my hand clenched around his.  He caved after the first few undignified tugs.  I don’t  know what his problem is.  We tried.  We failed, but we DID try.  Call me a crazy optimist but I happen to feel if I keep up the lovey-dovey stuff until they actually book through the gate, there’s a chance they’ll change their minds.  French-kissing Daniel on the ramp might help.  It really might.  Verisimilitude and all that.

And if it doesn’t help them, it WILL help me satisfy an ambition I’ve had for a couple of years now.  I’m never gonna get naked porno Spacemonkey in the gateroom but a nice kiss could ease me through the pain of another dream crushed.

I think Daniel’s stalking has a lot to do with the sorrowful and sympathetic looks directed my way by my fellow Airmen, not to mention the choked sniggers and abrupt exits.  I wish memos travelled this fast.  Half an hour of fruitless arguing – us – and haranguing – them – in Hammond’s office, and the ENTIRE base knows I was ordered on pain of court martial to make the supreme sacrifice for and with my linguist.

Give it another fifteen and they’ll know it was all for nothing.  Hammond, bless him, is still trying to convince them that our interest in the naquadah is humanitarian or something but he may as well give it up.  We’re not sending Daniel off for ninety days of hide the papyrus with Sandy, and we can’t move Sandy into my spare room.  Daniel gets fucked either way.

The Yjro think we fucked them over and there’s not a damn thing we can do about that.  Daniel and I are telling the absolute truth.  It’s a big honkin’ joke.  Half the base thinks I’ve been fucking Daniel for years and nobody believes us when we claim to be in love.  French-kissing him in the gateroom may not be enough.  I could…no.  I couldn’t.  Daniel has fond memories so I have to play nice, I guess.

We stand in respectful silence as the gate kerwhooshes.  Santa and Sandy march up the ramp and spit something at Hammond that makes Daniel do a pit-bull impression.

The general sighs when the wormhole disengages and we all stand for a moment staring at the bare concrete wall out back of the gate.  Hammond sighs heavily and turns to give Daniel a commiserating pat.

“This was not your fault, Dr Jackson,” he announces for the fascinated audience, all of whom should be at home.

“Hallucinogenic fruit juice could have happened to ANYONE,” I weigh in supportively.

Daniel snorts disdainfully and turns his back on me.

Okay, it COULDN’T.  I’m TRYING here.

“I’ll deal with Simmons and Davis,” Hammond informs us wearily.

I can’t help but notice the lieutenant and the good sergeant snap bolt upright at their consoles, looking slightly panicky.  I cut my finger across my throat meaningfully and look 'sympathetic' as Hammond turns away to console Daniel.

“Why don’t you go on home?” he orders Daniel kindly.  “Jack?” he prompts meaningfully as the colour floods Daniel’s face.

Like I’m Daniel’s daddy or something.  Oy.

“Dismissed,” Hammond orders and heads off, leaving me to deal with Daniel.

I glance at Daniel.  Gee, thanks Homer.  Anything BAD happens to me in here, at least the techs will catch the footage.  “Shall we?” I gesture grandly at the exit.  Daniel turns on his heel and makes like a greyhound.

I catch up with him and, regrettably, SG-2 at the elevator.  They got no reason to be down here, so…I glance at Ferretti.  Okay, they got ONE reason to be down here.  To make Daniel’s life a living hell for as long as it takes for him to realise they LIKE him.

The more a guy gives you hell, the more he likes you, which means Ferretti apparently worships the ground Daniel walks on and amiably tolerates my continued existence.

“Jeez, Colonel, all this time and I never knew you and the Doc were goin’ steady,”  Ferretti teases, shaking his head over the tragedy of it all.  The guys snigger.  “Talk about bein’ outta the loop!”

“Don’t you men have anything better to do?” I snap as Daniel shifts uncomfortably.  He’s not exactly God’s own definition of a fluent liar.

“No, Si…”

I glare at the idiot who was just firmly stepped on by his teammates.  Literally.  He’s yelping.

“YES, Sir,” Technical Sergeant Evans - who’s about a foot wider than I am - raps out.

“Well go and DO it.”  I love having this full bird on my shoulder, did I mention that?  I love gettin' people to obey me.  I just wish it worked on certain other people, especially when you bring ‘bed’ into the equation.  ‘Sir’.  It’s a turn on.  He could at least THINK about it.

Ferretti shoots me a ‘wuss’ look and herds his men into the elevator car.  Then he grins at me.  “You guys start eatin’ quiche, I’ll worry.”


"Oh, Daniel," I call, stretching comfortably out on Daniel’s bed, in Daniel’s spot, obviously.

"Fuck off."

Yeah, I love you too, Danny.  "My hand slipped, I swear."

"From my shoulder to my ASS?" Daniel snarls, with much vindictive clashing echoing out from the bathroom.  "Which it then SQUEEZED.  Right in FRONT of everybody."

Everybody being Carter and Teal'c who both thought I could have given it more gas.  “It was just a JOKE, Daniel.  I was trying to lighten things up.”  I’ve been to funerals more fun than that debacle.  Excuse me, debriefing.  Simmons is a first class PRICK.  He doesn’t like ANY of us, Daniel especially.  Teal’c had to LOOM to shut him up, which he did fairly convincingly.  I couldn’t get NEAR Daniel for Carter and Fraiser, so I had to enjoy myself in a limited way venting all over Davis.  Not the tech guy.  The other one.  Slim ‘n’ Slimy.  I wanted to slip Daniel the tongue in the gateroom.  I won’t get to.  EVER.  That’s plenty right there to vent about FOR ever.

I think in my own modest way I was fairly successful in convincing the debriefees that if they said word one to Daniel I’d fucking kill them, Carter and Fraiser included.  My mood has not improved since Daniel’s guilt over his Drinking Problem manifested itself in an emphatic refusal to allow me to peel him out of that suit.  He stalked off into his bathroom and has been undressing in there behind a locked door since we got home.  I made hurt noises about the door being locked and he indignantly accused me of picking his lock.

I’ve never picked Daniel’s lock.  I’m pretty sure I’d remember.  It’s either a metaphor or there is WAY more going on Daniel’s head about me than I ever imagined.  Which is great, obviously, if only Daniel would come to realise it.

No pun intended.

I DO mean that literally, and starting any minute now, I hope.

"Either you have the razor sharp reflexes of a throw rug or you're a prick who is SO not getting any, not ANY time soon!" Daniel threatens dangerously, arriving from his protracted stay in the bathroom endearingly damp and ruffled and filling the evening’s jammies selection BEAUTIFULLY.

"HEL-lo!" I sit bolt upright.  Woo Hoo!  How can FLANNEL be so fucking sexy?  Heathery-purpley flannel this time. The fuzzies CLING.  EVERYWHERE.  Totally fucking EDIBLE.  It's incredible how much of a turn on they are when we're still at the stage of not having actually been naked together.  I've held Daniel's dick in my hand, and like the rest of him, it's a thing of beauty, but I like the fuzzies.  I REALLY like them.  They could add a lot to the as yet unexplored option of friction.

I flip up a corner of the quilt insouciantly and pat the bed invitingly.

Daniel sighs heart-rendingly and slides nervously into the bed beside me, biting his lip.  He rolls onto his side, one VERY stiff back pointedly turned.

I figure we're ALL gonna die sooner or later and I may as well go with a smile on Daniel's face, so I spoon in and pull him back against my chest, my arms crossing over his to hold him close.  That's all.  I toss a leg over his too, just lean into him and nuzzle at his nape.

Daniel shivers.  "Prick."

"I know," I murmur soothingly.  He didn't mean to, he actually asked if that stuff was alcoholic BEFORE he drank it, and he had no way to know that would lead to this.  I know he's sorry, and I know he's humiliated.  Hammond isn’t blaming him, I’m not blaming him, and après Teal’c, Simmons isn’t blaming him.  Davis, Carter and Fraiser are apparently blaming me for not being with him in the first place, and Teal’c is backing them up.  Re Daniel’s absences?  One very unhappy Jaffa made it clear he does not wish this state of affairs to continue.  I’m blaming Martin, and Daniel is blaming himself.

"I am SO not buying this 'I'm sleeeeeping' act," I whisper into his ear. Then I nibble on it, gently tugging the lobe between my teeth.  Daniel shivers again as I trace the curve with my tongue.

"Jack," he whispers a soft protest.

Mm-hm.  Easiest thing in the world for me to trail kisses down onto his throat, to settle in and feast on his soap-scented skin.  Daniel turns jerkily in my arms and his hands come up to frame my face.  I let him pull me down for a kiss, let him nibble and tug in his turn at my lower lip, let him thrust into my mouth and suck out my tonsils. I only smile when his hands tangle urgently in my hair, nowhere near as urgent as his lips on mine, his tongue over mine. He pulls at me and I move over him, lower my whole weight onto him, easy nudges of my knees enough to part his thighs.

Daniel looks away from me, biting his lip as my weight settles snugly, my body reacting instantly to the feel of him beneath me, to his arousal.  He's not used to it, not used to his nearness making my dick swell and throb against him, or his against me.  He needs a moment to process, then he smiles shyly up at me, eyes brilliant, accepting, wanting.

"Jeez, took you long enough to take the hint," Daniel complains gently.

I look a question and he nods, swallowing.  I take it slow and easy, hitching up to tug at his waistband.  Daniel's fingers stroke over my shaking ones as I smooth the fabric down over his hips, all the way down this time, until he's naked and blushing from the way my eyes are devouring him.

He takes a deep breath and pushes at my own emergency night-wear, which is also my non-emergency underwear and I - okay, I help him.  Can't get the buggers off quick enough.  Daniel nibbles his lip, brow wrinkling thoughtfully as he strokes gentle fingers down over my belly.  He's looking only at my face, guess there's a lot of me to take in first time out, but he explores tentatively lower until he skims into my pubic hair.  Daniel falters but the sweet, intense look doesn't; his hand keeps right on moving slowly down.  He jerks as violently as my dick does when he takes me in his hand.

"Jesus," I groan softly, toppling forward, barely taking my weight on my hands in time.  Daniel is getting a clue, he's holding a clue what he does to me, just how fucking BAD I want him.  I've got no pride, no shame in me.  I am going to DIE if we don't...

"Let's make love," Daniel pleads urgently.  "Let's…God, Jack, I'm SORRY, I'm SO…"

"Don't be," I say roughly, dropping my head to tongue his nipples mercilessly 'til he writhes, wantonly arching up into me.  It's not pathetic to wait, not if I get THIS, get HIM, wanting me like this, hands yanking me down, close, closer.

"Jack," he sighs, straining up to kiss me.

I meet him halfway, take him first in my arms and then down to the bed.  "Ah, Danny."  Love you.  Don't you know that?  "Danny."  The first slow glide of my dick over his has both of us shuddering, we're both so hard, so hot, so fucking READY.  I love having him like this, the firm, vital length of him wrapped around me, so generous, so giving. He's awkward, clashing, but so very willing.  So very sweet and willing, opening up to me completely as I rock and roll, going in HOT.

So long I've dreamed of making love to him like this, so many ways, and the reality is so much more.  He's so perfect, soft and hard at once, satin skin taut over heavy bone and sleek muscle.  Strong, but so gentle, gentling me despite myself, clashing only because I'm moving too fast for him.  I slow and he FLOWS into me, sighing his pleasure.

"Good?" I ask softly, and Daniel nods vigorously.  I sense he's gaining in confidence when his legs wrap around mine, toes gently massaging down my calves as his hands start to wander.  Up into my hair, to roll the strands between his fingers, skimming down to trace the arch of my jaw, over my lips.

I can take a hint; Daniel's soft, inviting eyes are enough.  I drop my head and we kiss lingeringly as Daniel roams far and regrettably wide, particularly at the ass end.  He touches delicately, strokes inquisitively and finally fondles, squeezes, kneads and generally gropes every accessible inch of me with gratifying enthusiasm and little murmurs of surprise and appreciation.

Apparently I'm hard.  Hairy.  Heavy.  Hot.  Horny.

"Did I mention hairy?" Daniel asks in between a lot of distracting nips at my shoulder.

Did he mention HORNY?

He mentioned heavy.  Heavy?

Daniel is smooooth.  Died and gone to Clinique heaven here.  I'm picking up the pace again, can't help myself, but Daniel is with me, bracing his feet against the bed to rock and thrust up to meet me.  His breath is quickening, beads of sweat standing proud everywhere I look.  With his legs lifted either side of me, I reach out and stroke the droplets the length of his thigh, lifting my fingers first to my mouth, then to his.

What he does to me.

I look into those blinding eyes and have to figure…what I do for him.  Already.

Life is GOOD.

Probably gonna die.

Dying happy.

"Oh, Go-o-od, Ja-aack," Daniel groans, back arching high off the bed as I angle my hips and glide powerfully, jolting him beneath me.

"Oh, YEAH,  Danny, yeah," I gloat.  We LIKE that. We like that a LOT.  Come and GET IT.  I drive into him as he urgently thrusts against me, fingers scrabbling for purchase on my slick skin.  He arches hard enough to lift us both clear of the bed and I go with it, toppling onto my back, Daniel shoving my shoulders flat in his desperation.  We roll around until I'm wrapped round him and go MENTAL, bucking and heaving madly, grinding into one another, more clenched teeth than kissing as we tumble around the bed.

I'm close, both of us close, as the friction eases and our bodies slip and slide.  I clench my fingers into Daniel's luscious ass, haul him in as close as I can plaster him to me as we writhe and strain together, beyond subtlety, grunting and gasping harshly as the pleasure builds and muscles tighten.

Daniel drops his head and does his damndest to suck my orgasm out my mouth as he screws his hips desperately into mine, almost sobbing with need.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Daniel wheezes as my arms tighten convulsively around him, throws back his head and in a moment of intense stillness lets out a low, keening cry as he comes explosively, slick heat splashing over me as his dick spasms.

I've rarely seen a sight as beautiful as Daniel like this, flushed beet-red, sweat rolling and dripping, wide open to me, his gentle mouth agape in silent, screaming ecstasy as he comes and comes, raw and real and so much mine in this moment I feel sick with wanting…and keeping.

LoveyouloveyouloveyouMIIIINE…"Ah, Christ, DANNY," I howl as I come, my death grip on Daniel's quaking, shuddering body not letting up for an instant.

MINE.

They'll have to fucking KILL me to make me let him go.


So-o.  This is P2C-123.  "Don't tell me, the cheque's in the mail," I call as flashlights flare around me.  The darkness seems to swallow the beams, virtually at our feet.

"I don't understand it, Sir," Carter's voice falls away, muffled by the walls of the chamber we know is out there.  Somewhere.

I don't know about time, but distance is definitely relative when there's only a battery between you and that chummy coffin-for-four feeling.  "The lights were ON when we left, right?"

"Right," Carter confirms. "The power must have malfunctioned while we were en route."

"Fan out and don't fall on your faces," I order wearily.  "Carter, find the MALP and hit the lights.  Daniel, check on the DHD.  Teal'c, you're with me.  Take the right flank, I'll take the left.  Perimeter search.  As in, FIND the perimeter."

"We're only looking at a distance of about forty metres, Jack," Daniel calls encouragingly.

The flashlight beams edge cautiously down the steps and away from the dais the gate is sitting on.  I hate gates in locked rooms.  You get your brain sucked out or your life stolen or your head almost shaved.  Gates in locked rooms are BAAAAD.

"Ready?" Carter calls.

Everyone turns to protect their slowly adjusting night vision as the powerful lights on the MALP pierce the darkness to gloom.

"Got it," Daniel calls cheerfully.  "I'm oriented now.  Want me to make for the front of the chamber and the stele with the panels of text the MALP detected?"

"Be careful," I give permission as I pace slowly out of the little pool of gloom towards where the MALP telemetry says the wall should be.  My carefully fumbling fingers finally hit wall; a little pitted, metallic, not dissimilar in colour to Daniel's jammies, and shot through with veins of gold.  We didn't see a door, but we did see the gold.  I want buried treasure.  Daniel wants ancient mythic culture.  Carter wants toys that don't go kaboom.  Teal'c still wants to kill Simmons.

We came, we ain't seen squat and we're conquering shit.

"Carter?  Take the rear wall, behind the gate."  A fingertip search in the dark for a door we couldn't see with the lights on?  Woo. Do I know how to show my kids a good time or do I?  I skim along the pitted metal and the occasional slickness of the gold.  "Daniel?"

"Phoebe!"

"Feeble?  No need to get personal there."

"PhoeBE," Daniel corrects excitedly.  "One of the original Titans, Titan of the Moon.  She's known as Gold-Crowned Phoebe, daughter of Uranus and Gaea.  I think the way out is via solving a riddle.  A pretty simple riddle, actually."

"DO tell," I drawl.

"Well I would if you'd stop interrupting, Jack," Daniel says patiently.  "Everybody stay where you are.  I'm heading over to the front wall to check out something, just give me a minute."

"Hold your positions," I call, leaning against the wall.  Days like these, shoulda stayed in bed.  I grin in the general direction of the snatches of muttered archaeological comments and imprecations.  Especially the bed I was in.  Huge, honkin' bed, stairs up to it and all the modern conveniences, including hot and cold running Daniel.  More hot than cold.  WAY more.  Triple header.  Feeling NOO pain this morning.  Except the usual pain in the ass.  "Daniel."  Get ON with it.  I could scrub the mission, take my kids home figuratively and Daniel home literally and then I could scrub Daniel.  I’ve got everything the discerning bather requires, including inflatable fruit.

"Got it!" Daniel calls triumphantly.  "The gold tracery isn't random.  I've found an icon, a pattern suggestive of a crown and it's directly opposite the gate.  You can see where this is going!" he adds excitedly.

"Daniel, I can't even see where I'M going," I bitch.

"This is the door," Daniel sounds a little deflated.

"You're assuming it's the door," Carter corrects.  "Is the tracery raised?  Anything that looks like it might be…"

"A handle?" I interrupt.

"Concealing the door mechanism," Carter finishes regardless.

I can feel the glare from here, even if I can’t see it.

"Are you able to detect the outlines of the door, DanielJackson?" Teal'c calls.  "If there is sufficient purchase we may be able to force the door ajar."

"Or blow it," I suggest.

"I'd rather try to locate the door mechanism first, Sir," Carter insists.

"Ah, purl one, Carter."

"Sir?"

As in what the hell are you whittering on about, Sir.

"Relax, Carter, just needling you."

"Sir."

As in shut up, Sir.

"OR YOU COULD ALL JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE SO I CAN OPEN THE DAMN DOOR."

"Daniel!"

"DanielJackson."

"PIS-SY.  What side of whose bed did you get out of this morning?"

"Sir!"

"O'Neill."

Yeah, yeah.  What?  I can't tease him just 'cause I love him and he stupidly caved and had sex with me?  Where's the fun in that?  I am NOTHING if not multi-skilled.  And pushy, that goes without saying.

"Listen, I don't think this place was built by the Goa'uld.  I think they found it after it was abandoned.  The stele contains panels of Goa'uld text, but the symbols on the door aren't glyphs, they're RUNES," Daniel announces dramatically.

And?  So?  But?  Who gives a damn, just open the DOOR already.

"The Goa'uld have taken full advantage of a fortuitous coincidence.  Phoebe is the Titan of the MOON.  The gate is obviously symbolic of the FULL MOON," Daniel snaps.

"It is?"  Carter and I snap right back.

"Explain, DanielJackson."

"Is there ANY way we can STOP him?" I demand.  Jeez, big guy, don't encourage him!  We'll be here for EVER and I've got suds and inflatable fruit plans.

"The cycle of the moon is one of the key symbols of the Ancients culture.  Stargate, stone circle, sympathetic magic," Daniel sing-songs rapidly.

The silence is the silence of the damned.

"Cosmogony," Daniel sighs.  "Stonehenge is aligned with phases of the moon as well as the sun.  The moon is more than simply a convenient time keeping device.  The moon's waxing to maturity as a full moon and waning to invisibility as a new moon in myth symbolises the same universal law of birth and death that govern human life.  Stonehenge has alignments not just to the moon at summer and winter solstice but to the significant standstills."

"I think I know where you're going with this," Carter calls.  "Which phases do you think we should be looking for?"

She always says she thinks she knows where he's going and she usually only knows where he's been.

"If the gate is full and the door is directly opposite, which makes it new - that fits, the door equating with the beginning of the cycle - I'd say we're looking for waxing and waning," Daniel suggests brightly.

"Forty-five degrees, counter-clockwise from the gate," Carter orders briskly.  "Teal'c?"

"Major Carter?"

"Okay, you sound as if you're about two thirds of the way down the wall.  The chamber is square, so could you head over to the back wall and pace it out back to me?"

"I will," Teal'c affirms.

"Don't try this at home," I mutter.  I can feel my mission report biting.  The high-point of the mission was Teal'c pacing the length of the wall.  It was dark, but we knew he was there.

"I took twenty-four paces, Major Carter," Teal'c confirms.

"O-kaay.  Turn and pace back to Daniel, roughly six paces," Carter orders.

"And trace the gold veins in the wall for an icon, a pattern suggestive of a crescent moon," Daniel orders just as briskly.  "Jack…"

"On my way," I call, heading back towards Carter.

"The waning moon, Jack." Daniel prompts.

"I SAID I'm on my way."  What do they think I have my telescope FOR?  Apart from spying on the neighbours that is.

"Two hundred and seventy degrees, Sir," Carter calls helpfully.

Which is twelve paces-ish and then I too can have the joy of not just walking a wall in darkness but feeling it up.  I march up twelve paces, lower my weapon and fondle the wall.  “You remember what happened the last time I did this?”

“Yes,” Daniel responds flatly.

“Bad enough having to learn that language once, but being forced to go through it all again,” I grumble.  Waste of time.  Literally.  All those loops when I could have been molesting Daniel I spent learning the language of the Ancients with Joe the Latin schmo.  I feel around, thinking it would be easier if I took off my gloves but that is not an option.  I may be a first-class shit but frankly, my objective is to get the hell out of here and go do the molestation thing to Danny with my watermelon slice.  The banana is just TOO obvious.

A random swipe at face-height reveals a vein of gold which I follow up and around.  I’ve hung out with kids.  I’ve seen kid art.  It’s wobbly and amorphous, but it’s a crescent moon alright.  “Got it.  Face height.”

“Teal’c?” Daniel prompts.

“I too have located a shape which resembles a crescent moon, DanielJackson.”

“Now what?” I ask.

“Are there any markings in the crescent or on the floor near it?” Daniel asks intently.

The flashlight isn’t exactly picking up fine detail here, but I do see a faint sheen in the purpley metal that looks like…”I found a golden crown.”

“As have I.”

“What happens when you touch it?” Carter asks.

“The crown glows,” Teal’c reports.

“Mine doesn’t.”  If Teal’c’s does, and mine doesn’t, and the only difference between us is Junior…”Carter, get over here, Joli it up for me.”  I’m not completely dumb.  I’ve been known to string a coherent thought in my time.  Daniel + Jack = hot animal sex.  That’s a good one, right there.

“Yes, Sir,” Carter acknowledges, sounding a little irritated I got in first.

I mosey on over towards Daniel as Carter slips into position behind me.  “You glowing?” I call back.

“Sir.”

“I’ve been thinking.”  Silence greets this pronouncement.  Not flattering silence.  Sceptical.  “The Titans?  Not just a football team, right?”  Silence.  “Old gods.  Old Greek gods, right?”

“Ri-ight,” Daniel sounds like he’s regretting admitting even that.

“Cronus was a Titan.  You said so.”  I distinctly remember.  And WAS is very much the operative word.

“Ye-es.”

“Well, hard as it is to imagine a Goa’uld named Phoebe, if Phoebe was a Titan, at some point she had to be a Goa’uld.  Right?”  It seems logical to me.

“I am unfamiliar with that name, O’Neill.”

“Humour me!  There’s a point to this,” I complain.  Not just the point of getting over here and groping Daniel where no one can see us, but that plays a definite part.  “We know sweet F.A about the Goa’uld pre-Tau’ri slave scum hosts, but we know the Goa’uld originated on a planet full of Unas.”

“You’re suggesting the Unas were the Titans?” Daniel sounds interested.

“It makes sense to me, Sir,” Carter agrees.

“If Cronus,” Teal’c spits the name, “was himself a Titan, then he too once had an Unas host.”

“You’re suggesting the Goa’uld traded up for hosts who offered more than basic transportation and brute physical strength.  They arrived en masse on Earth, took humans as hosts and assumed the roles of our gods,” Daniel says approvingly.  “The progeny of the Titans, the First Ones, creating themselves roles as lesser gods in the pantheon.  Many of the later gods assumed the attributes of the older gods they replaced, which fits what we know of the war of attrition the Goa’uld have been waging for millennia, the progeny killing their parents and each other to secure their position.  Excellent reasoning, Jack,” Daniel admires.

Yup.  I was thinking what he said.  More or less.  Maybe less.  In the privacy of my own head, a LOT less, but still, he’s feeling fairly receptive now so it’s the perfect time for me to arrive at Daniel’s behind.

“Okay, I think I have the correct sequence of runes here; Sam, Teal’c, if you’ll just keep your hands over the devices,” Daniel announces crisply as he treads heavily on my foot just as I’m reaching out for him.

“Ow!” I hiss.  “Devices?  Those little moony things?”

“If you didn’t trigger the device to glow, it’s Goa’uld technology,” Daniel explains absently, grinding his heel into my foot.  “It works for Sam because of the Naquadah in her blood and for Teal’c…”

“Because of the symbiote I carry,” Teal’c informs us.

I think I GOT that at the TIME.  “I hope Daniel doesn’t fry you where you stand,” I call cheerfully.  “These locked room thingies tend to blow up in our faces.”  I reach out and…

“Get your hand off my ass, Jack,” Daniel murmurs coldly.

"I kneaded you."

“You prick!" Daniel hisses indignantly.  "Ready, you two?” he calls.

They make encouraging noises.  Time to book.  Just in case.  For the protection of his team, any responsible team leader would…”Get your foot off my foot, Daniel!”

Daniel snorts and by the light of a wavery flashlight, begins to randomly activate a series of runes I can JUST make out lightly embossed in the wall.  They push in a fraction and stay in as Daniel presses them, lighting to the same soft glow Carter and Teal’c are triggering.  Probably completes a circuit running through these veins of gold.  Or gold coloured stuff.  Something conductive anyway; the shit is powered.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  The gate activation drops the lights, it’s pitch dark when you get here and if you didn’t know the little suckers were there to start with, and you didn't have a couple of Goa’uld or Jaffa with you, nothing would work anyway, so you’d one-eighty and book.

Daniel pushes in a seventh symbol and then there was light.  All the glyphs here and where Carter and Teal’c are waiting glow white hot, and the door, which is right where Daniel said it was, moves noiselessly upwards.

That’s my boy.

I edge through the doorway, check it out.  We’re at a dead end, the corridor turning to the right about ten metres ahead of us.  The walls are all the same as the gateroom, though out here the gold veins are more obvious as power conduits because they’re running down and across the walls in patterns I can tell from here aren’t random.  Daniel carefully checks the runes on this side of the door.  No point going in if we can’t get back out.

Carter slips past me and takes point, I drop in behind her, Daniel behind me and Teal’c brings up the rear.

“Good job,” I praise Daniel.  “You sure you can re-open it from this side?”

“Positive,” Daniel assures me cheerfully.

“He’s full of shit,” I tell the other two solemnly.  Carter and Teal’c glare at me.

“Old joke,” Daniel grins.

Carter sniffs but I think she’ll let me live.  Teal’c seems to still be weighing the odds.

“Let’s move out.  Take it slow and easy.”

My kids are getting excited.  If they’re good, I’ll let them bring home the new toys they’re hoping to find.  We search painstakingly along the maze of corridor walls looking for more of those faint, discoloured glyphs.

“What got us in here, anyway?” I ask Daniel after twenty seven minutes of fruitless searching and a shared Snickers.

“When the man is ready, his god will appear,” Daniel says vaguely, peering anxiously down the corridor we are currently in, which looks exactly the same as the corridors we’ve passed through and the corridors we’re headed into.

“Uh huh.”

“It’s a bastardisation of the guiding principle of the ancient Egyptian mysteries: when the pupil is ready, then the master will appear,” Daniel perks up.  “Plato studied in Egypt for thirteen years and identified four cardinal values: justice, fortitude, temperance and prudence.”

“That makes it all Greek to me.”

“The Jaffa still follow this code, DanielJackson,” Teal’c agrees.

“Sir?” Carter sticks her head round the corner.

“Carter?”

“I think I’ve found some runes, Daniel,” Carter reports.

“Runes?” Daniel asks, moving out past me to scoot off with Carter.  "You know, it's unfortunate that the Ancients were physically compatible with humans.  If the first Goa'uld who came here hadn't had human slaves, he'd never have got past the security measures."

"They must have reversed polarity in the sensor array so that instead of excluding them, it authenticated them," Carter speculates.

"I think the runes were left on the door deliberately, Sam.  Only the Goa'uld who took this place would know the correct sequence of runes to activate the door, and if they used a human slave - someone who couldn't read the symbols he was activating…"

"None of the other System Lords would be able to just gate in and help themselves," Carter agreed warmly.  "The Ancients were very advanced.  It would have taken a lot of skill and effort to circumvent their technology.  Far easier to just use a human than to have to backwards engineer all the circuitry behind those runes.  The change of that one symbol from 'master' to 'god' allowed them to complete the new circuit."

I let them go.  We’ve seen nothing to suggest habitation and though brain sucking is still a real possibility, this being a locked room thingy and all, we’ll deal with disaster when it inevitably comes down on us.  Teal’c and I take a more stately pace just in case we have to hear more of this terrible conversation.  It's hard to believe crap like that gets them excited.  “They wear me out,” I say casually.

“Indeed.”  The quirked eyebrow is suggestive of parental fortitude.

We find the two of them poring over some spiky symbols on the door.  Same faint shimmer but the glyphs are appallingly familiar to a man who prides himself on his pizzeria bambinos approach to modern languages.

“Knowledge is not…” Daniel begins.

“Wisdom,” I interject smoothly.  “Seek…peacefully…”

“And ye shall find,” Teal’c finishes up.

What I said.  Those loops?  Total frigging waste of time.  I have this weird feeling sooner or later Daniel is gonna get so snowed under I wind up with translating this crap for him.  I’ll never live it down.

“If this facility is a site of the Ancients, then the gateroom was jury-rigged by the Goa’uld,” Carter judges.

“To keep everyone else out and away from the goodies,” I agree.  “Which means whatever is behind this door is likely to be a keeper.  Daniel, make with the Open Sesame and everyone take it nice and easy.  They’ve gone to great lengths to keep the scum from the door so I’m thinking heavy duty security.”

“Booby traps,” Carter affirms.

Daniel does what he did before, checks out the glyphs, runes, whatever, and…

I point my P-90.  “You’ve got to be kidding.  Does that one actually say ‘Enter’?”

Daniel quirks a definite grin at me.

“Careful,” I warn.  “I’m getting that sinking ‘Drink Me’ feeling.”  I peer around Daniel’s shoulder.  Teal’c peers around mine.  “Sure you can’t find one that says ‘stupid soon to be dead people enter’?”

“Just ‘enter’,” Daniel says lightly, pushing gently against the glyph.  It glows white hot like the others and the door rises smoothly up.

I set my hand on Daniel’s shoulder for a moment and he sighs, obediently stepping back to let Teal’c and me go in first.  After a comprehensive once over I decide the lights are on but there’s definitely nobody home.  I take right, Teal’c takes left, and Carter heads straight up the middle, Daniel champing at the bit right behind her.

“Looks like a lab,” Carter decides.

Yep.  Brilliant deduction.  Long benches, of that same metal the walls are made of.  The floor is uniformly black throughout the complex and the lights have triggered in sequence as we’ve walked, but it’s dark as hell, pure horror movie set.  The lab is filled with equipment or artefacts of differing shapes and sizes, some bigger than Teal’c, some small enough to fit in my hand, all draped over with filmy grey fabric.  I get a coupla beseeching looks and reluctantly nod permission.  “Go slow.”

The two of them close in on the nearest bench and start looking up skirts.

“Voyeurs,” I complain, still slowly walking the perimeter, looking for hidden anything because there sure isn’t any obvious anything.  I stop and stare up at the ceiling.  Also black.  Hmm.  If I was a concealed weapon, where would I be?  Cross-fire, so we’re talking…

“Jack!”

“Yeah?” I turn to find Daniel holding something that looks vaguely familiar.

“The device resembles that which operated the quantum mirror, DanielJackson,” Teal’c warns.

“Put it down.  NOW,” I order briskly.

“Jack,” Daniel protests.  “There’s no danger.  Kawalsky showed me how to dial the realities and you can’t be translated without touching the surface of the mirror when it’s activated.”

Carter heads confidently for the tallest drapery we’ve got in here and scoops up the fabric.  “Got it.”  Teal’c moves to her side and helps her to lift the clinging cloth clear of the mirror.

“Why two mirrors?” Daniel wonders, frowning in puzzlement.   “Why this one and the one we found on P3R-233?”

He’s biting his lip.  Bad idea.  Baaaad.  Makes me want to go over there and bite it for him.  Er…I hope that was a rhetorical question.

“If the mirror is designed to translate matter between realities, why have two mirrors in one reality?”  Daniel stares around and heads purposefully over to one of the benches.  “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Maybe it’s an assembly line,” I mutter vaguely, transfixed by Daniel’s ass as he pokes around the work surface.  “Maybe they build ‘em…”

“O’Neill.   We have found another,” Teal’c calls from the rear of the room.

I tear myself away from the Jackson Derriere Experience and the gutter and head over to make like the colonel.  “You mean I’m right?”  Am I getting good at the sciencey stuff or what?

“They…whoever they were, were either assembling or disassembling this one,” Carter assesses, frowning as she runs careful fingers over the surface.  “Maybe backwards engineering.  If the Ancients are involved, maybe they built the quantum mirror in the first place and this Goa’uld…”

“Feeble.”  And I’m right.  Cool!

“Phoebe thought there was some tactical or material advantage to being able to translate between dimensions.”

“It lends itself to espionage,” I suggest.  “If you can dial into a reality close enough.  Or you could use if for the ultimate live firing exercise.  Weapons testing,” I add when Daniel looks blank.

“The Goa’uld would not hesitate to use such a technology, O’Neill,” Teal’c agrees sombrely.

“Daniel, could you fetch over that dialling device?” Carter asks.  “Let’s see how far they got.”

“Is that WISE?”  That’s dumb.  I think it’s dumb anyway.  I’ve been wrong before, but then so has Carter.

“The construction of this mirror is cruder than the other,” Daniel says as he too feels the frame up.  “There are tiny imperfections in the facia suggesting this was a cast.”

Carter nods sagely.  She looks as if she’s itching to get her hands on the dialling device but Daniel is the one who got trained up so… “Go for it.”  I’ll get no peace if they don’t.  So long as we don’t touch the damn thing, we’ll be fine.

Daniel hesitates, glancing at me.  “We have no idea what kind of field the device generates.  What if it activates both mirrors, Sam?  Would that cause a problem?”

“Like a feedback loop or something?”  They both look at me.  I beam back.  Totally on my game today.

“I don’t see how that’s possible, Daniel.  The mirror is in standby-mode until it’s touch activated.  You, or an object, need to be in actual physical contact for translation to be possible,” Carter says reassuringly.

“I will observe the other mirror,” Teal’c offers, striding round to face it, a safe distance away.

Not that we know what a safe distance is or anything.  The next planet might be too close if these puppies go up.

“If you’re sure,” Daniel agrees, flicking the little switch on the device.

A flare of intense smoky green light takes us all by surprise as it beams out the wall ahead of us and sweeps the room in widening arcs.   “Back up,” I order.  “Switch that damn thing OFF.”

Daniel scrambles to deactivate it as he backs up rapidly towards me, eyeing the light warily.

It’s moving quicker than we are and the beam catches Carter at chest height.  She freezes as it drops to floor level and deliberately scans her, taking only a couple of seconds to process.

“Carter?”

“I’m fine, Sir.”

The beam catches Daniel, scans him, then me, and finally Teal’c.  I check around.  Everyone is in one piece.  Not too bad.  Obviously tripped some kind of security scanner there and…

“O’Neill!” Teal’c snaps, racing for the door.

SHIT.

Closing on us.  I’m a beat behind him as he scoots his staff weapon under and uses it like a lever to hold the door up.  The gritted teeth and bulging veins in his neck tell me we don’t have much time.  “Carter, grab us something to brace this!” I holler as I add my weight.  What kind of stress can the staff weapon take, anyway?

“Sir,” Carter acknowledges, scrambling.

“CARTER!”  Gonna pop a vessel here.

“Ja-ack,” Daniel shouts.  “The light is changing.”

“Not NOW,” I groan.  Got lights flashing in front of my eyes.  I can hear the thrum of power building up but have no time to deal with it.  This fucker is going down, inch by inch and we can’t stop it.  My braced arms are trembling.

"I think…the Zats!  Teal'c's staff weapon.  Naquadah!  Drop the…SAM!" Daniel hollers.

“DANIEL!” Carter screams as the light flares blindingly all around us.

FUUUUCK.  DANNY!

Teal’c swoops the staff weapon clear as we spin to see Daniel crumpled on the ground, Carter at his side, fumbling for a pulse.  She freezes and gapes up at me, stricken, mouth working soundlessly for a moment, then she clenches her teeth and rolls Daniel carefully into the recovery position.  "He took a hit for me," Carter grates. "The beam just clipped him or he'd…" she chokes.  "He'd be dead.  Pulse is weak and thready.  Sir, we HAVE to get him out of here."  Her hand is stroking over and over his hair, like a lifeline, like it's anchoring him to us.

Teal’c is firing steadily at the source of the light, to no effect.  He heard what Daniel called out before…before…The only thing Teal’c can do for Daniel is make himself a target, buy us some time.  The power is building up to another discharge.

Christ. I look every which way.  Fish in a fucking barrel.  GOT to get us outta here.  Not JUST the Zats.  Carter and Teal'c have naquadah IN them.  That's why it…Carter's blood, the zat…primary target.  Gotta…The mirror!

I pounce forward and grab the dialling device from Daniel’s loose clasp.  Warm.  Still warm.  Gotta be an SGC out there, gotta be a Fraiser.  Gotta be.  Daniel is not dead.  Not. Down, out, not dead.  Weak and thready.   Gotta KEEP him that way.  Janet can fix thready.

I stand in front of the mirror and toggle the switch desperately.  My hands are shaking as I tumble through the realities looking for ANYTHING.  Fucking tropical beach.  SGC plus Jaffa.  Mothership plus Jaffa.  Locked room, red drapes.  “Come ON you fucker!  GIVE!” I grate.

“We have to get him out of here, Sir.  NOW,” Carter cries urgently.

“O’Neill!” Teal’c yells as Carter opens fire in his place.  I hear a clatter as he hits the deck, the light blinding even through my protecting hands, then I dial again.

SGC storeroom.  No Jaffa.  “This is IT.  Let’s MOVE.  Carter!  Point.”

Carter dives past me and touches the mirror, a moment and she’s safely on the other side and headed purposefully for the door.

I turn and drop to my knees, cup Daniel’s face in my shaking hand for just a moment.  God, he’s so pale.  Barely breathing.  Teal’c is there, hands at my shoulders to steady me as I haul Daniel’s dead…LIMP weight across my shoulders and then I book through the mirror with Daniel.  Teal’c is right behind me, got the dialling device thank Christ, musta…musta dropped it.  Back there.

“Carter?” I demand impatiently.

“Stand back, Sir.”

The little dab of C-4 blows and she’s right behind it, easing open the door and edging out into the corridor.

“Don’t shoot!  I’m Major Samantha Carter of the SGC.  We have a wounded man in need of IMMEDIATE medical attention,” she calls.

“Put up your gun!” a harsh voice I don't recognise orders.

I emerge to find Carter setting her P-90 down and backing up, hands above her head, at bay before half a dozen SFs.  “We don’t have time for this.  Get Janet Fraiser down here NOW,” I yell as I lower Daniel carefully to the ground and check his pulse.  CHRIST.  “NOW, DAMMIT, NOW!”

“Do it,” I hear my own voice order tersely.  “MOVE!”

I turn to face myself.  Aw, craaaap.  I hate…I absolutely HATE these fucking locked room thingies.

 

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

DANIEL

The world swims slowly in and out of focus, a kaleidoscope of freeze-frame images and darkness that fades to grey and slowly merges to motion.  I lift a shaking hand to my head, not sure…"SAM!"

"Hel-lo," Jack calls softly. "You back with us?  Carter is fine.  You were the only one hurt and YOU'RE fine.  Been out for a while."  He makes a show of looking at his watch.  "QUITE a while.  Gave us all a scare," he says ironically.

I stare blearily around.  I'm in one of the small side rooms in the Infirmary, and Jack is with me, and he's fine, Sam is fine…"Teal'c?"

Jack shrugs lightly.

I nod carefully.  No headache, just this weird feeling like my head is going to fall off if I move it too much.  I feel light.  Light-headed.  Floaty.  "Jack?"  I beckon him to me.  He's wavering in and out of focus.   It's disturbing.  My hand is still shaking.  God, I was so scared for Sam.  So scared.  I was calling but they weren't hearing…she didn't even see the beam as it tracked her across the room.  Never moved so fast in my life.  And Jack is…he must have been so worried.

"Hey," Jack murmurs softly as he reaches my side.  "You ready to hear this?  It’s a kicker."

"Sorry," I apologise distractedly.  "I should have put it together quicker.  Once the Goa'uld were in, so long as they didn't take weapons into the labs, they were perfectly safe."  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

"That makes sense," Jack approves.  "No apology necessary, Daniel.  It wasn't me who…look, just let me…"

Oh!  Oh, let ME!  I…I know what Jack needs.  I reach up and skim my trembling fingers across his cheek.  Jack flinches back from me, eyes widening.  We're alone, and I thought…well, honestly, I thought that was it for me too. Thought the Comeback Kid was a goner this time.  I want to…I NEED to…"It's okay," I whisper, tightly clasping my hands around his neck and drawing him down to me.

Jack flinches again as my lips brush his, his hands settling urgently over mine.  "Daniel!"

"I know," I assure him, then I kiss him again, content to just be close, let him know I'm alive, I'm with him.  Jack is stiff, resistant, maybe afraid someone will barrel in and catch us.  Or maybe he's just scared we came so close…Me too, God, me too.  We just found this and oh boy, THIS is wonderful.  He IS wonderful.  He's so…I never suspected I could want him this much.  I want him right NOW.  All my rationalisations just melt away in the solid reality of his warm, vital presence.

"Da-mmmph."

I slip between Jack's parted lips, slowly stroking my tongue over his, then urgently as Jack thrusts aggressively against me, his breath catching, his hands closing painfully over my wrists.  I bite down on his tongue the way he likes me to, smile against his mouth as he groans, and thrust deeper into him, my probing tongue clipping the back of his throat.  I fall into this kiss, this man, and never want to surface.

I want him.  I need him.  I HAVE him.

Jack groans again when I suck voraciously on his tongue, eating his mouth…eating him alive.  Our lips and teeth clash hungrily as he wars with me, his tongue harsh against mine, rasping aggressively then retreating, luring me deeper and…"Oh, Jack, Jaa-aack," I sigh as his arms snake around my shoulders and he hauls me up to him, driving deep into my mouth, shaking, snarling with need.

He's burning as he pours himself into me, flaunting his possession of my mouth in greedy swipes over my palate, restless probing of my teeth and desperate suckling of my tongue.  I cling to Jack, riding out the storm as he devours me.  Can't get enough, can't…can't breathe.

JACK?

His arms are braced to catch me as I fall boneless, breath catching in my throat as he lowers me gently to the bed, his grave face twisted and conflicted, eyes wild and bridling.  A clumsy, tender hand strokes my cheek caressingly for a moment then snatches away as he calls for Sam.

Jack calls for Sam, and…and for me.  ME?  What the HELL?  Bewildered, I turn as the door opens and Sam steps through, and I…oh my GOD I just kissed JACK and he's not my Jack because I'm right behind Sam.  I'm not me!  I'm not him!  He's not me.  I know I'm me.  I'm LOSING it so I MUST be me.  What's going on here?  What the HELL is going on here?  We…we came THROUGH the mirror?

"Dr Jackson?  Meet Major Samantha Carter," Jack says coolly.  "And I guess you need no introduction," he tells my alternate sourly.

Jack just…he KISSED me!  WHY did he…He didn't try all THAT hard to stop me and he…he kissed me BACK.  If Jack is with Daniel why did he kiss ME?  I don't understand any of this.  I drop flat and shade my eyes for a moment.

"Are you okay?  Should I call Janet?" I…Daniel asks anxiously.

"No.  I'm fine," I insist.

Jack snorts.  "Where've I heard that one before?" he asks the room at large.

He sounds normal.  Almost.  I glance at him edgily, concerned at the tension I see tightening his face and straightening his spine to full attention.  Daniel is also staring, while Sam is staring avidly at me.  Have to…I have to pull myself together.  "Where are my Jack and Sam?  Teal'c?" I ask Daniel.

Daniel glances at Jack for a moment.  "Under guard in the VIP quarters.  They were a tad concerned about your welfare, particularly Colonel O'Neill.  He's…um…in a cell."

Oh, dear.  I smile tentatively.  "Bad?" I wince.

"Bad," Daniel smiles tentatively back.  He glances at Jack again, eyes narrowed with sly amusement.

"You're the first Daniel I've met," I blurt as I struggle to sit up.  Jack and Daniel are at my side in an instant, easing me up.

"You must be starved," Sam says sympathetically.  "You were out for hours.  I'll get Janet, see if we can feed you."  She smiles warmly as she heads out the door.  "We're happy to have you with us, Daniel, even if it's only for a short while.  We have so many questions."

I smile back.  Me too, oh, me too.  The first being…"Jack, can you spring Jack?  Please?"

"Please, Jack," Daniel asks hopefully.

Jack opens his mouth, seems to run the ensuing argument through his mind, accepts he'll lose and closes it with a snap.  "Two peas in goddamn podsville," he grumbles unconvincingly, grinning at us both as he makes his way over to the phone to call the general.

These people…this reality is so like ours.  What was the trigger for this one to branch?  "Your Teal'c?" I probe.

"He's with your Sam and Teal'c, dissing false gods," Daniel says cheerfully.  "Dead false gods."  He coughs slightly.  "They're got a lot of ground to cover, what with…"

"Apophis being dead," we finish together.

“Ninety-nine percent sure,” I add.

"Hammond is on his way," Jack announces, slipping his hands into his pockets as he slouches over to stand at Daniel's shoulder at my bedside, his eyes flickering restlessly from my face to Daniel's and back.

I just don't get this.  Jack wouldn't have kissed ME if he was with Daniel, but he did kiss me, so why ISN'T he with Daniel?  The WAY he kissed me…Jack was DESPERATE… I just…oh, God, God, what have I DONE?  What a MESS.  Maybe Jack didn't know.  Maybe he didn't WANT to know.  I feel so guilty.  There's an odd shock of recognition between Jack and I, but his eyes when he looks at Daniel…that ACHE of regret and longing.  I don't know how I didn't see that light in Jack's eyes when he looked at me and I don't know how Daniel doesn't see it now.  It's…it's always been there.  We didn't know what it meant.  It was always just Jack.  Jack l-loves me.  He…he loves me.  I didn't know, oh, God, I…I didn't know.  I'm sorry, Jack, I am SO sorry. Jack has loved me…us…for a very long time.  I sigh and look away for a moment, biting my lip.  My Jack was hiding in plain sight, but Daniel’s Jack was hiding from himself.

"Did you go through the mirror the first time?" Daniel asks, "On the mission to P3R-233?"

"Yes!"

"Was I a prick?" Jack asks hopefully.  "He won't say," he jerks his thumb at Daniel.

We both smile and look away.

"I was a prick," Jack sighs mournfully.  “I was a prick, then I died.  Probably for the best.”

I’m determined to find out just when it was this reality diverged.  These people are US.  There aren’t any marked differences such as Sam being a civilian, or Jack being a general.  Maybe I should bring us right up to date.  "Have you just been on a mission to P9R-795?" I ask intently.

"Yep," Jack grins.  "Carter blew it big time."

"It was an accident, Jack," Daniel corrects him.

And they didn't…I mean, that wasn't the difference.  It must lie farther back.  Jack wants me, I could tell THAT from the way he kissed me, and not only that, I can see that he loves me. This reality's Jack hasn't faced his feelings and my Jack has.  I need to know why.  Maybe…maybe I can help him.  I glance at Daniel.  Help both of them.  He's me.  I know how much I…we…need Jack.  Just a few days ago I wouldn’t have said this, but I know it for the truth now.  We should be together.  It feels right.  It's…it’s us.  It’s SO us I’m beginning to wonder if this wasn’t how we were always meant to be.  I felt that connection to Jack almost as soon as we met, and I know he felt it too.  I’ve always thought Jack allowed me to reach him at a time when he’d turned away even from himself.  Maybe it’s as simple as my giving my life for him.  He let me in, grudgingly, but all the more honest for the effort it cost him.  If not for Sha’uri, and Sara, and Jack having just lost Charlie and barely beginning to realise he hadn’t died with his son, maybe…

I guess the timing has never been right for us.  I doubt Jack would have made a move if I hadn’t forced his hand.  I look thoughtfully from Jack to Daniel.  If it worked once…

Jack catches my eye and winks just as Janet and the general walk in, Janet heading briskly around to check out pretty much everything really.  My heart is beating, I’m breathing, nothing hurts.  “I just feel a little light-headed.  That’s ALL,” I emphasise.

“Doctor?” the general prompts.

“I’ll release Dr Jackson from the Infirmary,” Janet.  “He needs a hot meal ASAP, but apart from that I have no concerns for his health.”

“Colonel?” Hammond prompts.

“I’ll take care of him,” Jack agrees absently.  He winces and mouths ‘it’.

“I’ll debrief in one hour,” Hammond orders, then he turns to me.  “Dr Jackson?  Perhaps you’d BOTH be good enough to accompany Colonel O’Neill to Colonel O’Neill’s cell?  The colonel is being somewhat ‘unreasonable’.”

“Oh,” I say inadequately.  “Um, Jack worries.”

“A lot,” Daniel murmurs under his breath.

A LOT.

‘Mother hen’ we mouth at each other.

“I HEARD that,” Jack sing songs, glaring at us both.

“Observe all security precautions, Colonel,” Hammond orders crisply as he turns away.

“Yes, Sir.”

Hammond hesitates in the doorway and looks at me for a moment.  “I will not condone security breaches, but under the circumstances…” He smiles suddenly.  “Good to have you safe, Dr Jackson.”

“Thank you, Sir,” I say gratefully, relaxing.  Hammond IS the George I know.  We couldn’t be in safer hands.

“Jack,” Daniel nods meaningfully at the doorway when Jack doesn’t make an immediate move.

I’m beginning to think the reason my Jack wasn’t beating down my door and going Alpha Male on me is that I’m clueless.  Jack is eyeing me up with lechery aforethought every time he thinks no one is looking and Daniel was looking at least once and completely failed to clue in.  COMPLETELY.  I’m slightly embarrassed on both our behalf’s.  I didn’t realise I was this naïve.

Jack looks as if he’d rather stay and help me dress, but he shuffles reluctantly out the door, looking back at us.

I still feel horribly guilty.  I kind of kick-started Jack’s libido there and now his mind is there, the rest of him wants to follow.  I can understand why he’s eyeing up me and not HIS Daniel.  He LOVES his Daniel, and I’ll be gone as soon as his Daniel and I work out a way to get us safely home, so lusting after me is as safe as this situation can get for Jack.  I think it will take my Jack about a nanosecond to clue in on exactly what it is this Jack has preying on his mind whenever he looks at me, and then I suspect this reality will come up short a Jack about a nanosecond after that.

Daniel follows Jack and pointedly closes the door in his face.  I don’t spend much quality time alone with myself naked, so I’m fairly certain Daniel has something on his mind.  He turns to face me and I know.

“She died,” I say gently.

Daniel sighs heavily.  “I hoped…”

“Me too.  There must be at least one reality where I didn’t reopen the gate,” I tell him firmly.  Must be.

“You too?” Daniel grimaces.

Yes.  I do blame myself for that, and so many other failings.  I don’t need to explain.  “Teal’c?”

Daniel nods regretfully, biting his lip.  “Shifu?” he asks gravely.

My turn to look down.  He knows.   I wish I knew why his Jack was different, how he could feel so much and know so little.  I want to give Daniel the same chance I’ve been given.  He’s never going to get there on his own, I’m going to have to help him see what’s been right in front of him the whole damn time.  Same damn thing that was right in front of me.

Daniel politely turns away as I scramble up, waver and have to lean against the bed when my head swims sickeningly.  It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to scramble into my uniform.  “How long was I out?” I ask ruefully.

“Eighteen hours,” Daniel winces.  “Your Jack isn’t climbing the walls, he’s…”

“Bouncing SFs off them?” I ask tartly.  I see that flash of sly humour in Daniel’s eyes again and return his grin.  “He’s over-protective.”

“Tell me about it!” Daniel groans.  “Ready?”

“I’ll trot into the Valley of Death if there’s coffee at the end of it,” I assure him as we walk out.  Jack pushes off the wall he’s leaning against and insinuates himself between us.

It’s strange how comfortable I feel with Daniel.  With Jack too, of course, but it’s not the same.  Sam and her alternate worked well together but they disagreed over just about everything.  Including Jack.  Daniel and I are…it’s kind of - okay - VERY corny, but we are on the same wavelength.  It’s odd not to have to EXPLAIN.  Daniel just KNOWS.

“What were you guys doing to fetch you through the mirror anyway?” Jack asks casually as we stroll along to the elevator.

“A consolation mission,” I sigh.  “Sam was upset over what happened on P9R-795, I was…” They both look at me expectantly.  “You didn’t drink the Zoya on Yjro?” I demand of Daniel as the elevator doors open.

Daniel shakes his head, wide-eyed.

“He has this little drinking problem,” Jack says witheringly.  “As in, he can’t.”

“Did you?” Daniel pulls a face.

“It’s nothing,” I say hurriedly as Jack perks up visibly.

“Spill,” Jack tosses over his shoulder as the doors open and he heads over to the duty SF, waving his ID.

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s something,” Daniel says judiciously.

Traitor.

“A minor faux-pas,” I tell them stiffly.  “A misunderstanding, really.”

“SPILL,” they say as one.

“Do you remember Lysander?” I ask Daniel.

Jack scowls at him.  “DO you?”

“Sure,” Daniel says sunnily.  “He was a historian.”

“Eggue,” I hiss.

“What?” Daniel asks blankly, stopping dead in his tracks.  “EGGUE?”

I nod reluctantly.

“Oh, you didn’t!”

“I did.”

“HE didn’t!”

“He did!”  I sympathise with his shock.  I never even suspected Lysander had the hots for me.

“Jack?”

We both look at Jack, who glares at us suspiciously.

“He did,” we say together.  Of course he did.  Martin didn’t even clear out his locker.  He booked and never looked back.

“You betcha,” Jack snaps.  “WHAT did you, he, I?”

“It’s nothing,” Daniel and I insist.

“It’s SOMETHING,” Jack parrots sarcastically.

“Well, it’s something you’ll die wondering about,” Daniel says firmly, eyeing me sympathetically.

A muted roar greets us as we head along the corridor towards the cells.  My Jack is Not Happy.  This Jack is also less than thrilled.  Oh.  Oh, boy.  He’s got to have realised if I was kissing him so passionately it was because I thought he was MY Jack.  Oh, dear.  This is not going to be pretty.

Jack opens the door and briskly orders the SFs to take off.  I slip straight past him and head over to the bars of the cell.

“Daniel!  Thank Christ,” Jack sighs gustily as he jumps up and darts over.  “Starting to worry a little, here,”

This reality’s Jack chokes incredulously.  Jack eyes him with palpable hostility, which warms to a smile when Daniel sidles up next to me.  Jack looks at us both speculatively, the smile widening as he graciously consents to his release.

“About frigging time,” he snaps, stalking past the other Jack to hug me comprehensively.

I hug him back ecstatically.  There’s something incredibly freeing about doing this in front of an audience we’ll be leaving behind us forever within the day.

“Don’t you dare,” I breathe as Jack’s hands tighten and head down.

“Spoilsport,” Jack breathes back, taking a good, hard look at me.  “You look pale,” he snaps.  “What the HELL have you been doing to him?” he demands angrily.

Apart from kissing the shit out of me?

“I just regained consciousness, Jack.”

“WHAT?”

“Daniel is fine,” Daniel assures him earnestly.  “Janet said it would be best for him to awaken naturally.  I’m sorry about the delay, Jack, but we did TRY to keep you informed.  You were too busy being…um…abusive to pay attention.”

Jack sniffs.

“Did you hurt anybody?” I demand coldly.

Jack drops his eyes.  “Just one or two.  Around the edges.  Y’know,” he admits defensively.  He looks at me.  “O-kaay.  You’re not gonna admit you know.”

“No.”

“Are you going to be a good boy or do I have to zat you?” Jack snidely asks my Jack, which does wonders for the just about tamped hostility level.

“Yeah?  You and whose…”

“JACK!” Daniel and I snap.  Both Jacks subside sullenly, glaring hatefully at one another and shooting apologetic looks inclusively at both of us as they usher us out.  There’s some confusion at the door when they each try to gain sole custody of both of us, something even my clueless counterpart picks up on as we fall into step.

It’s slightly worrying.  All the Jacks seem to dislike all the other Jacks on general principle, and actually put two of them together and all hell breaks loose.  They all seem to like us though.  They like us a lot.  A LOT.  And they DON’T want to share.  Okay, it’s not slightly worrying.  It’s downright unnerving and possibly stalker-obsessive on the Jacks’ parts.

Daniel and I drop behind where we can keep an eye on our respective Jacks, each of them blatantly ignoring the regrettable fact of the other’s existence.  Daniel looks unnerved too.

<>Gawd.  Does Jack have twins fantasies?  TMI!  Especially when there ARE two of us.
 


Wow.  Interesting dynamics around this briefing table.  Teal’c side by side with Teal’c; a Sam on either end, as far apart as they can get without one of them leaving.  George at the top of the table, Janet at the bottom.  My Jack to the right of me, sulking, Daniel to the left of me, looking nervous, and his Jack beyond him, also sulking.  They both wanted to sit in the middle so they got to have a Daniel either side.  I look at my alternate’s fingers, tense on his pen.  Daniel is definitely nervous.  I should know.  I futz in the exact same way.

Both Teal’cs look identical, our Sam has slightly shorter hair than their Sam, both Jacks look identical but I know which one is mine, and both Daniel and I look identical, especially as the resuscitation team got slash happy, and now I’m in a condition to absorb fine detail, it turns out I’m wearing one of Daniel’s spare uniforms rather than my own.  Neither Jack seems to be able to tell us apart, which might explain Daniel’s nerves.  Going from no Jack to two Jacks somewhat blatantly lusting after your body when they think no one is looking in the space of an hour might just come as a shock.  A BIG shock.

He…I…we just CAN’T be so clueless he’d miss this level of subtext.  If he is, I’ll never be able to look Jack in the eye again, because that means I am.  I don’t want to be a sad, naïve bastard.  I want to go home and have some nice sex with my Jack.

I’m working on the going home part right now.  The Sams are arguing back and forth about how we blow the door and haul ass out of that room.

“Overloading the power core of the reactor probably would take out the door,” our Sam snaps.  “But it would also take out the floor, the walls AND the mirror!”

Their Sam glares at her.  “It would work,” she insists.

“Can we take a rain check on the mass destruction, Carter?” Jack orders edgily.  “Let’s not get too ambitious.”

“Sir,” our Sam acknowledges pointedly, glaring at Jack.

Oops!  Sam isn't at all happy Jack just ASSUMED his 'Carter' was the one who wanted to blow shit up.

Jack looks even more edgy.  He's just realised our Sam is defending here, not attacking.  Possibly the mood of both Sams is not improved by the fact neither Jack can tell THEM apart, even though the rest of us seem to manage just fine.  Perhaps Jack just isn’t good at feminine detail, like our Sam’s hair being two inches shorter than her alternate’s, and she's wearing a much prettier shade of lipstick.  Sam got it free with a woman’s magazine she bought on the strength of the trippiest pop quiz either of us had ever seen, and she’s still gloating because the female half of the base thinks it’s Clinique.

And yes, it is possible for the astrophysicist to be blitzed enough on Chablis to insist on trying the lipstick out on the archaeologist because she’s not up to facing a mirror, and it is regrettably all too possible for the archaeologist to be drunk enough to let her.  As for the trippy quiz, apparently the archaeologist yearns to be swept off his feet by the strong, silent type and the astrophysicist has ‘Daddy’ issues that weren’t news.

Jack is not my ideal man.  I forgot where I lived.  I wish I’d forgotten Jack’s phone number, because when I called him from the taxi to ask him where I lived, he came to tell me in person.  He was the opposite of silent all the way home.  His home.  He also made me drink a pint of water by holding my nose ‘til I opened up wide, and I will swear to my dying day I wiped the lipstick off BEFORE he turned up to fetch me.  The last thing I vaguely recall is complaining to Jack I had ‘Daddy’ issues too.  This was not unreasonable in my opinion.  He was tucking me in at the time.

I have a Drinking Problem.  I am to alcohol what Jack’s brain is to alien languages; it sucks me up and spits me out the other end humiliated, amnesiac and occasionally engaged.

Um…where was I?  Oh, yes.  “Destroying the mirror in a controlled way is exactly what we need to do,” I interject.

“Daniel is right,” Daniel agrees.  “Especially about the controlled explosion.  There could be rescue teams immediately beyond the wall.”

“Rescue teams who speak Goa’uld?” my Jack queries.  “If we hadn’t had Daniel with us we’d have one-eightied and booked, ASAP,” he adds, slightly accusingly.

“That’s a fair point,” Daniel supports him.

I nod too.  “If the security device is triggered by the gate activation, the rescue team would face the same scenario we did.  Pitch darkness, translating the Goa'uld glyphs AND the Ancients runes, locating the three elements of the door mechanism, and unless they brought Tok’ra, they’d get no further given the symbols are now triggered by the presence of naquadah in the blood."

“If the rescue team had discovered a way to penetrate the door, is it not likely that they would have entered the lab by now?” our Teal’c asks.

“I concur.  We have kept the other reality under surveillance since your arrival and have detected no attempts to penetrate the lab,” their Teal’c agrees.

“Why destroy the mirror?” both Sams ask.

“Before we discovered the lab was where the mirrors were either being constructed or backwards engineered as Sam suggested, I couldn’t see any logical reason to have two mirrors in any reality,” I suggest.

“The mirror’s sole purpose is to translate matter between realities,” Daniel supports me.  “A second mirror is redundant.”

"And like having two Stargates on Earth, they'll both work, but not at the same time," I explain.  It seems fairly obvious to me.  “If we destroy the active mirror we can’t use, THEN dial our reality, we should default to the original mirror, which in our reality is stored at Area 51.  We step through, they arrest us, we get interrogated, then they fly us home.”  Home, where I fully intend to have lots of nice sex with my Jack.  I glance over.  He’s frowning in concentration, just a little, just enough to make me go WOOF!  Lots of sex.  Lots and lots of nice sex. I glance again.  Mmm.  Okay.   Nasty sex if he wants it.

Daniel nods approvingly, smiling at me.  I smile right back.  It’s weird, but I like him more than I usually like me.  He’s nice.  Nice isn’t a personality trait men tend to be socialised into aspiring to, but I’m going to have to accept that to others my primary characteristic is ‘nice’ if it’s so obvious even I can see it.  It’s a little depressing, but I’m going to have to suck it up and move on.  Jack likes nice.  Jack LOVES nice.  He wants to suck nice up and basically never move on.  I can live with that if he can.  I can look forward to it, too.  We haven’t tried sucking anything except tongue yet.

Which brings me back to Daniel, as soon as I can get him alone.  I know myself.  It took possibly the galaxy’s most inconvenient and embarrassing erection to grab MY attention and I am much more clued in than Daniel is.  He’s nice, but naïve.  I was just…I was busy.  I’m going to have to be fairly direct, and then I’m going to have to prove my theory conclusively.  Five minutes alone with MY Jack should be all the proof Daniel needs.  If his hormones woof and beg like mine do, his Jack will thank me for it.  My Jack may kill me, but seriously, nasty sex.  He wants it, he’s got it.  It may be enough for a stay of execution.

“Majors Carter?” Hammond prompts.

“It sounds logical to me, Sir,” their Sam admits.

“We’ll need to run some computer simulations before we risk sending an explosive device through,” our Sam agrees.

I think they’ll get along much better now.  Sam and Dr Carter started to get along when they got engrossed in the science too.  Dr Carter was a lot of things, but nice wasn’t the most obvious of her qualities.  She had ball-breaker written all over her and vented all over everyone else.

“We are time-delineated on this,” my Jack warns them.  “We’ve been in this reality for almost twenty-four hours already.  Don’t worry about fancy, just work out a way to blow that mother up without levelling the entire complex.”

“And as for the rest of you, I’d suggest that an exchange of intelligence might be beneficial to us all,” Hammond says gravely.

Both Jacks mutters something about not being able to spare any and glare at each other for trying to steal the punchline.

“I’m very willing, but really I don’t know how much that will accomplish,” I admit.  “I checked on the details of the most recent mission with Jack and Daniel while I was in the Infirmary, and we each went to P9R-795…”

“And had the roof fall in on us,” their Jack says sourly.

“What caused this reality to diverge?” our Sam asks curiously.

“It’s presumptuous to even think it had anything to do with us,” their Sam responds coolly.

“This reality could belong to some housewife in Tacoma who watched her soaps instead of doing laundry,” my Jack suggests chattily.

Both the Sams glare at him.

I have to look down for a moment.  People will keep thinking Jack is dumb.  He’s anything but.  He plays dumb extremely well, and every so often annoys the crap out of everyone by throwing out something like this, which shows he was listening all along and he got it enough to make fun of you with it.  It’s just SO Jack.

“It was more likely that it was a mission,” their Jack says repressively.

“I agree, Colonel.  If each of you could work with your counterparts, try to determine what caused this divergence and if there is any tactical or technological advantage to be gained for either reality,” Hammond orders.

“I will,” Teal’c inclines his head gravely.

“As will I,” our Teal’c agrees.

My Jack looks unenthusiastically at their Jack.  “Do I have to?” he bitches under his breath.

<>Yes!  I need time alone to brainwash Daniel.  He’s NICE.  I can take him.
 


“So,” I prompt as I oh-so-casually nudge my…his office door closed.  Daniel looks slightly alarmed.  “How are you and Jack getting along?”

“Fine?” Daniel‘s voice rises questioningly, as if he’s not sure that’s the correct answer.  He heads over to the desk and sets down the two mugs of steaming hot coffee, made to my exact and exacting specifications.

“Fine?”  I know what I mean when I say fine.  Usually the opposite.  Daniel seems to sense I don’t believe him and avoids my eyes.  Speaking of which…”Do I do that?” I point vaguely at his face.  “With my eyebrows?”

Daniel winces.  “I was hoping I didn’t.”

“Oh.”  Damn.

“It’s…” We look at one another.  “Cute,” we sigh, quite deflated.

“Cute and nice,” I grumble.

“SWEET and nice,” Daniel complains.

“Prick.”  Sweet.  Ha!  Typical Jackian response to being TOTALLY and UTTERLY in the wrong.  He was LYING when he said it too.  I always assumed that meant ‘sweet’ was a lie too; it was very comforting in the face of such a swingeing condemnation.

Daniel sighs heart-rendingly as he sits himself at the desk.  “Mine too.”

Ah!  Daniel only thinks he means ‘mine’ in the platonic sense.  It’s a tragedy when he could mean ‘mine’ in the brains puddled out his ears sense.  I determined to make him SEE the sense he means.  I think I’m going to have to be blunt.  It took Jack confessing he wanted to drag me out back of the tomb and fuck me senseless to make me see the light.  And the hard-on, of course.

O-kaay.  Maybe not THAT blunt.  I was slightly taken-aback when Jack let me in on it, but Daniel looks as if he’s the sensitive type.  MUCH more so than me.  Obviously so.

I sip my coffee broodingly.  I’m a linguist.  I’m paid to communicate when no one else can.  There has to be direct and unequivocal way I can tell myself that Jack wants to fuck me, without saying Jack wants to fuck me.

“Daniel?” Daniel asks sympathetically.

Hmm?  Must be a way.

“You got ENGAGED?”

“Not to Jack,” I mutter absently.

“Not to Jack?” Daniel parrots, eyes narrowing as he straightens abruptly.  “That suggests some question…”

“Jack thinks you’re hot,” I blurt.  Um…maybe not THAT way.

“Hot?” Daniel snaps.

“Hot.  As in not the opposite of cold,” I snap back.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m twelve years old,” Daniel gets terse.  “Or you.”

I stiffen.  “What’s THAT supposed to mean?”

“You come off like some Victorian virgin,” Daniel snarls, clashing his mug down after I move a papyrus to safety for him.  He smiles a quick thanks.

“At least I’m getting some!” I snarl back, once I’ve assured myself and reassured Daniel the papyrus is undamaged, no droplets of coffee having made their way between the protective sheets of the Stabiltex Sling.

“What makes you think I’m not?” Daniel demands, with a final anxious look at the fragile scroll.

I just look at him.  His scowl deepens.  I…um…I blush?  I…I hadn’t realised.  I shift uncomfortably against the desk.  I’m beginning to realise why it was a case of Jack refusing point blank to rush in where colonels feared to tread when it came to us.  It’s embarrassing.  “I’m getting some with Jack,” I murmur broodingly.

“With JACK?” Daniel sputters, gaping at me in shock.

Wow.  I really make a big production number of the blushing thing.  The Busby Berkeley of Blushing.  We’re talking forest fire on a face here.  Then with the ghostly pallor, which is an equally bad look for us, I think.  And back to the blush.  “This is EXACTLY why I never beat Jack at poker,” I complain.

“STRIP poker?” Daniel snipes.

We both freeze and run a desperate mind over Friday nights lost in the Corona mists…”Bastard!”  I snap bolt upright.

“Shit!” Daniel bleats.

“Yours too?”

Daniel gulps.

I shoot him an embarrassed look.  “He’s not a total shit, he’s just…”

“Jack.”

“Horny,” I correct gloomily.  “And I got the deluxe model.”  And WE have a Drinking Problem.

“Excuse me?” Daniel bridles indignantly.

“Yours is in denial.”

“He is N…”

“Repressed.”

“He…”

“Obsessive, possessive stalker repressed.”

“He…”

“Tell him you’ve got a DATE and see what happens.  The world will come up short one date, whoever the dumb schmuck is.  Jack is the reason we’re not…we weren’t getting any, all this time.  People even look at you funny they get Psycho Stalker Colonel at  their graveside.”  Bastard.  I just thought I was…you know.  Unattractive.  Daniel thinks it too.

“I don’t believe you,” Daniel announces grimly.  “Not JACK.  He’s about straight as…”

“You?” I say meanly.  “He thinks you’re a classic zero on the Kinsey scale.”

“He’s right, and so is he.  Maybe…maybe your Jack is…is…interested, hard though that is to believe, for BOTH of you,” Daniel tells me quietly.  “But mine isn’t.  Look, there’s something you obviously don’t know…I mean, it was a fluke I found out…”

“Oh, come on,” I interject impatiently, “Jack can’t keep his hands off you, you know that.  Yours can’t be that different to mine.  Remember when we went fishing?  He tickled the SHIT out of me.”  I was HOWLING, helpless, and still he didn’t make his move.  That might have had something to do with Thor beaming us up to the mothership, of course.

Daniel shoots me an odd look.  “Fishing?”

“At the Pond With No Fish,” I spell it out slowly.  “He swears it’s not about the fish, per se,” I murmur indulgently.  “More the fish-ING.  He pulled that line on Teal’c too, but Teal’c didn’t buy it any more than I did.”

“I’ve never been fishing with Jack,” Daniel contradicts flatly.  “My appendix burst.”

“Appendix?”  I stare at him.  “Is that the difference?  Is that where our realities diverged?  Jack and I were sitting out on the dock by the lake and I was about to throw Jack into the lake after the book HE’D just thrown in after I’d dissed the ever elusive crappie, when Thor beamed us up to deal with the Replicators.  Jack and I were stranded off-world for nine days.”  Daniel looks dazed.  “Sam and Siler had some problems connecting the gate.”

“You beamed up the gate too?  That was Sam’s idea.”

“That was my idea.  Sam was on base,” I stare at Daniel, biting my lip.  “I guess you didn’t get to do the archaeologist in space thing either?”

“I got to do the archaeologist in the Infirmary thing,” Daniel says flatly, looking down.

“I’m sorry,” I say inadequately.  I can see that he’s bothered by this, but why on Earth would Jack taking me fishing or not have such a profound effect?  It was just fish-ING.  And a year of Neil Armstrong jokes of course.

“Jack has feelings for Sam,” Daniel murmurs, still not meeting my eyes.

“SAM?” I choke.  Our Sam?  “No, he doesn’t,” I contradict.

“It’s a matter of record,” Daniel states bleakly.  “He and Sam failed the memory recall test because they didn’t admit their feelings for one another.  Don’t ask how I know,” he tells me awkwardly, wincing, “but the absolute truth is Jack would rather die than lose Sam, because he cares far more for her than he’s supposed to.”

“My Jack failed the test too, but it had nothing to do with Sam,” I say briskly.  Actually…it might have had everything to do with me.  “Sam has or rather had a crush on Jack.  She was humiliated, but with the President’s life and the Alliance with the Tok’ra at stake, she admitted to it at once.  She’d never put her personal feelings ahead of her duty.  Jack admitted he realised when Sam was trapped behind the shield on Apophis’ ship she felt more for him than she should, but he hadn’t wanted to embarrass her by discussing it.  He respected Sam’s privacy.”

“You know that?” Daniel demands.

“Of course.  We’re a team,” I tell him stiffly.  “Sam made a point of telling me about it.  I still don’t know why Jack failed, though I suspect it may have had something to do with me, but he and Anise were alone in that room and she cleared him wholeheartedly.”  Both she and Freya were very quiet after that, is all I know.  “As for Jack having feelings for Sam, Jack got the heebie jeebies when we met Dr Carter and Kawalsky.  He didn’t miss from the start how alike physically Sam and Sara were, and they have a lot of personality traits in common.  Jack was sorry for any Jack who couldn’t see he wasn’t over Sara.”

Daniel shakes his head, lips tight.

“Jack kissed me!”  Does he have to be so STUBBORN?  It’s aggravating as hell.

Daniel curls his lip.  “I’d gathered that,” he says witheringly.

“YOUR Jack kissed me.” I glare at him.  He pouts.  It’s very disturbing.  VERY.  I never realised I was walking around looking so sulky.  I’m not COMPLETELY miserable and humourless, no matter what Jack says about the way I don’t laugh at his jokes.  He refuses to accept his alleged jokes are at fault so he blames me entirely.

Daniel sits bolt upright and glares back at me accusingly.  “MY Jack kissed YOU?”

Like I’m something that crawled out from under a rock.  Charming.  Pissy too, which is hopeful.  “He’ll kiss YOU if you let him.”

“I don’t want…why would you even THINK…” Daniel stammers.  “Just because YOU…We’re not the same.”

“We are the same!  Except for the appendix and a fishing trip.”

“Why would you…” Daniel waves a vague hand.

“He makes me come like a freight train,” I say solemnly.  And who is calling whom a Victorian virgin?  At least I can SAY it.  Y’know.

“Like a…a…”

“Freight train.”

“I can’t imagine,” Daniel says wistfully, then he straightens up with a jerk.

“Neither could I,” I admit ruefully.

“Oh?” Daniel leans forward inquisitively.  “You’ve never…y’know?  With a man?”

“Neither have you!” I snap indignantly.  And we haven’t ‘y’know’.  Not even close.  “Just Jack.”

“A freight train?” Daniel blurts.

“You have NO idea,” I admit shyly.  “But you could,” I tell him firmly.

“Jack would never…he wouldn’t take a risk like that, not when we have to work together,” Daniel insists.

“Let’s just find out, shall we?”  Perhaps it’s just the fact we get to blow this joint within the day and never look back, but I feel like being baaaad.  I care enough to give Daniel my very worst.  And my best.  “I have an idea.  Why don’t we…”

“Daniel?  That damned know-it-all Nyan is driving me NUTS!” a voice calls distractedly as the door bangs back.  “I ASK you, is this or is this NOT…Oh.  Hey, Daniel,” Robert acknowledges me vaguely.  “Daniels?  This is Sarmatian, right?” he waves a small torc indignantly.  “HE says not.  This is what you get for hiring some snot nosed brat who comes from the same place I get my eye-wash.”

<>My reflexive grimace matches Daniel’s.  Looks like Jack will have to wait for a while.  We’re in for the long haul.  Robert HATES it when Nyan is right, and he is this time.  It’s NOT Sarmatian.
 


Jack leans against the books shelves and glares at us suspiciously.  “You’ve discovered what the difference between the realities is?” he asks.

Daniel and I glance at one another and smile.  “Yes,” I nod the affirmative.

“And you’re not going to tell me?” Jack clarifies.

“No.”

I moisten my lip.  Daniel catches me out the corner of his eye and does the same.  Jack looks a trifle glazed.

“And you’re not going to tell me which of you is which?” he asks.  “I have to work it out?”

Daniel and I shrug deprecatingly.

“I know a trap when I see one,” Jack says bitterly.  “How am I supposed to…”

“You have to KISS us,” I interrupt.

“Kiss you?  Kiss BOTH of you?” Jack looks a bit wild around the eyes.

“You have to kiss both of us,” Daniel affirms softly.  “Which is only fair, both you Jacks have already kissed one of us.”

“There’s no room for negotiation here?” Jack demands.

“Certainly,” Daniel looks shocked.  “You have your initial choice of Daniel.”

“I’m not doing this,” Jack complains.  “I’m only interested in kissing MY Daniel.  No offence.”

Daniel’s lips tighten. “None taken.  Which of us is ‘your’ Daniel?”

“You,” Jack says positively.

“Me?” Daniel queries gently.

“Or me?” I ask sweetly.

“Aw, for cryin’ out loud,” Jack snarls.

“Jack…”

“Jack…”

“Please,” we both plead.  I glance at Daniel.  “It’s important.”

Jack looks searchingly at us both for a long moment, then nods reluctantly.  “Choice of Daniel, huh?”

Daniel blushes then tilts his chin defiantly.

Jack’s eyes go soft as he walks up to Daniel, reaching out to frame his face, trailing a thumb lingeringly over Daniel’s lips.  Daniel stares back at him wide-eyed and trembling.  I'm smugly certain he’s gonna get it, he's gonna get it but good.

“Cool,” Jack murmurs lingeringly as he leans in and kisses Daniel.  Daniel emits a tiny, stifled whimper, rocks back on his heels, then clings desperately to Jack as Jack kisses him about as thoroughly as either of us has ever been kissed in our lives.  It’s one of Jack’s most engaging qualities.  I can’t believe I’ve survived over a year without having Jack around to kiss me, pretty much just for being me.

I don’t blame Daniel for whimpering and going weak at the knees.  I’m still at the whimpering stage too.  I don’t recall kissing Jack quite so greedily but it’s allowable under the circumstances.  Kinda.  Jack is still MINE but Daniel hasn’t had any for as long as I hadn’t had any before Jack gave me some, and Jack is on the passionate side.  Very passionate. He has a lot of stamina too, which is vital, as he and I have discovered together I want some pretty much all the time.

Looks like Daniel feels the same.  I clear my throat.  Then I clear it again, more emphatically.  He IS mine.  Daniel has one of his own.  Jack reluctantly eases back from the kiss, steadying Daniel, who looks like he’s going to drop on the spot.  I don’t think he really believed me until Jack’s lips met his and now…

Gawd, I hope I’ve done the right thing.

Jack strokes Daniel’s cheek, still curiously gentle.  “It’ll be fine,” he says softly.  “Trust me on that.”

Daniel’s grimace steadies and curves into the tiniest of smiles and he nods, obviously grateful for the sentiment but far from convinced.

Jack closes in on me purposefully.  His eyes aren’t soft.  Not At All.  Mmm.  He’s good and mad.  Jack leans in and nibbles my ear.  “I can’t believe you did this to me, you shit,” he whispers.

Which rather proves my point.  My Jack LOVES me and he…he knows me well enough to know when I’m me.  Or when I'm not me.

I don’t know what my feelings are, not right now.  I’m still playing catch up.  Jack has been willing to wait this long, I guess because he wants it all.  I trust he can wait a while longer, ‘til I’ve worked out just what it is that had me shoving my way into his bed the instant I knew it was an option.  I care about him deeply, and for now he seems content with that.  I think my being so horny takes the edge off somewhat.  Speaking of which…

“Let’s show the down home folks how we do it in our reality,” Jack snorts, then grabs me so fast I yelp as he dips me over his arm and kisses the shit out of me.

I’m hanging on for dear life, not so much from dazed passion as self-preservation.  He let’s go of me at this angle, I’ll fall on my ass.  Hard.  I can vaguely hear Daniel gasping through the blood drumming in my ears, but the sheer aggression of the tongue plunging wildly towards my appendix has me fighting for breath and spots in front of my eyes.  I’m flushed and wheezing pitifully when Jack sets me back on my feet and steps back a little, looking smug.

I gape at him.  I asked for MY Jack and this…as soon as his lips met mine I knew…With my Jack and I, I don’t know how it happens.  When we kiss we start out fast and furious, then my spine melts and the two of us end up fused at the mouth, my fingers tangled in Jack’s hair, his arms around me, falling into one another like it’s the end of the world and we know it.  Everything but Jack shades to silence.  I know nothing but his kiss, not soft, not hesitant, a sharing of strength and sweet intensity I never want to surface from.

It didn’t happen…this…he’s not MY Jack.  I wasn't SURE in the Infirmary, the kiss didn't gentle the way I'm growing to know, but I had almost died and he was WILD.  I mean, I suspected, but I didn't KNOW, not until Daniel walked in through the door.  This time…I specifically asked for MY Jack.  Why would they?  Oh.  Oh!  Not for ME.  For Daniel!

I turn, still in Jack’s arms, to face Daniel.  His arms are wrapped tight across his chest, like he finds it hard to breathe, and his eyes are…are wounded.

“I love him,” he tells us flatly.

I’m sobered by the intense, greedy flush of need that tides over this Jack’s face before he bites it down.  My Jack isn’t putting any pressure on me, but he needs me with him.  Not just making love and making dinner, but WITH him.  This Jack needs it too and I…I have a lot to think about.

When I pull away from Jack he lets me go, but I’m right by his shoulder when he reaches Daniel’s side.

“I love you too,” Jack says shakily.

“You love him,” Daniel corrects, nodding at me.

“Nope.  Told ya.  Only interested in my Daniel,” Jack’s voice steadies and an embryonic grin surfaces.  “You’re right here in front of me.”

“He was there all the time,” I interject.

Jack scowls at me, then his eyes soften again and he nods reluctantly.

“The difference was the fishing, Jack.  Daniel was sidelined when his appendix burst and you left him there,” I tell him sadly.  “Because it was easier on you, right?”

“Easy?” Jack grates.

I don’t want to say any more.  Maybe the only real difference is my Jack was more honest with himself.  He’s never blamed me for his falling in love with me, he adjusted and…and waited.  Maybe this Jack didn’t realise how he felt for the longest time, but when he did, he buried it and pushed Daniel away.

“Jack?” Daniel’s soft sigh wrenches Jack’s attention from me.

This I know.  Jack has this way of focusing on me like he sees nothing else.  For myself, I’m beginning to touch the edges of it, already.  That intensity of feeling, of need scares me shitless.  After Sha’uri, I swore I would never let myself be dependent again.  I can’t, I truly cannot survive another loss and I know I never get it right; never, ever get what I want and need.  I walked into this with my eyes wide open, though, knowing that Jack is as much a survivor as I am.  It's enough.  It has to be enough.

“Don’t,” Daniel warns Jack.  “Don’t be sorry.  It’s over now.”  He gazes hopefully at Jack.  “Right?” he asks shyly, dropping his eyes to peer up through his lashes.

Shiiiit.  Even I can see how cute that is.  Alternate universes BITE.  This has just been on kick in the self-image after another.

“Damn straight!” Jack hisses fiercely as he wrenches Daniel back into his arms and I sidle tactfully out through the smallest gap in the door I can manage, to find my Jack slumped against the wall, waiting.  He straightens up and gives me a long, cool look.

“Yeah?” he asks.

I nod, biting my lip.

“Daniel,” Jack sighs.

"I know," I admit, pulling a face.

I don’t want to fight about pushing things a little.  Maybe Daniel and Jack would have gotten there on their own, maybe not.  They’re exactly where they want to be now, though, and I’m happy for them.  Jack is happy for them.  He’s just not entirely happy with me.  I should be feeling ashamed of myself but I’m not going to.  Life is too damn short.

If what I've just seen in Daniel's office is anything to go by, apparently I have wiles and I’m definitely going to use them.  I drop my head and look shyly up at Jack through my lashes.  He straightens up and comes right away from the wall, gaze riveted to mine.  In fact…”Cameras,” I hiss warningly.

Jack mouths something profane and stops a foot or so short of me.  “You’ll get yours, Jackson, just wait ‘til I get you home.”

I brighten up.  “Oh, yeah?”

The shrilling of the phone is followed by Daniel’s Jack yanking open the door.  He looks equal parts kissed and pissed as he waves us impatiently in to take up positions by the book cases.  I prudently interpose myself between the two Jacks.  It’s occurred to me Jack might reasonably have some questions about my own osculatory activities in the Infirmary.

Daniel puts down the phone.  “The Sams are ready to try live firing,” he reports.

“Aren’t they always,” Jack grumbles.   He nods at Daniel and me.  “I’ll take both of ‘em,” he tells Daniel’s Jack lightly.

“Ditto.”

Jack winces.  “Speaking of which?  Carter talk to you about her artificial intelligence experiment?”

Daniel’s Jack looks edgy.  “Why?”

“She wants to base the simulations on the people she knows best, i.e., us,” Jack explains rapidly. “Bad idea.  BAAD.  What do you think will happen if she pits teams of Jacks and Daniels against one another?”

Daniel’s Jack cringes.

“Exactly.”

“What?” Daniel and I ask.

Both Jacks look embarrassed and avoid our eyes.

What?  Seriously?  "What will happen?" I ask again.

“Natural selection,” my Jack suggests cryptically.

“Carnage,” his alternate agrees.

Daniel and I look at each of them and get an inkling.

“Are you suggesting one Jack will…”

“Go around killing all the other Jacks…”

“So he can collect their Daniels?”

“Oh, my…”

“God,” we finish, horrified.

“I never claimed to be pretty,” Jack says virtuously.

“Me either.”

Which brings me back to a legitimate complaint.  “You knew who we were all along!” I accuse indignantly.  “Both of you.”

Both Jacks grin wolfishly.

“We were hoping you’d get naked,” Jack says wistfully.

“Both of you.”

“That’s scary,” Daniel snaps.

“Spacemonkey,” his Jack drawls.

“Stalker,” Daniel accuses.

“Special Ops trained,” both the Jacks gloat at one another.

“Let’s go check out the Carters before they get ambitious,” Daniel’s Jack suggests.  “I’ve got a date I’d like to live to make.”

“Ditto,” Jack ushers us out the door.  “How you doing with that knitting thing?” he asks Daniel’s Jack.

“I was thinking maybe I’d just BUY her the damn needles,” Jack says gloomily.

“This is Carter.  She’ll need ALL the needles, the yarn, fully established knitting protocols to realise the final garment objective, AKA 'the pattern' to the mere layman, emergency back-up protocols AKA 'the spare pattern’ and a waterproof cover to protect the pattern," my Jack grumbles as they herd us towards the elevator.  He takes a deep breath.  "Then she'll need a laptop so she can re-draft the protocols so they makes sense when the first garment turns out to be 'theoretical’, i.e. full of holes, a fully illustrated how-to manual, video and CD-ROM because she'd rather die than admit she can't produce a garment that meets the defined parameters."  He stops and beams at us as he punches the button.  "Then she'll want one of those machines so the experiment can be repeated under controlled knitting conditions.  Yadda yadda," Jack waves a world-weary hand.

“Be easier if she just got a life.”

<>“Can you get one that comes with instructions?”
 


“The device will work,” Sam reports confidently.

“We’ve set it to a timer, of course, for safety, allowing us to deactivate the mirror at this end,” their Sam agrees.

Sam’s lab is awfully cramped, what with two of almost everyone and the smug complacency of both Jacks filling every available space.  Daniel keeps uneasily shifting foot to foot.  If his Jack is anything like mine, he’s taking complete advantage of the close quarters and Daniel has a covetous hand clamped to his ass right now.  I sympathise.  It kind of shocks straight to the groin.

“Is there any risk to this facility?” Hammond asks intently.

The Sams look at one another.  “With our mirror disconnected, there is no risk that we can determine,” their Sam reports.

“The only way we’ll know for sure if it worked is to dial in to our reality.  If we get the lab again…” Sam shrugs.

“Very well,” Hammond gives permission.  He turns to Daniel and me.  “And then you can begin the search for your own reality?”

I nod.  “I hope it doesn’t take too long.  We’re looking for a reality close to this one.  The gate is in a secure store at Area 51.  The location should be fairly distinctive.”  I’m proud I got through that without a tremor, treading heavily on Jack’s foot at the same time.  The man has no shame.  Hammond is looking right at us and Jack hasn’t backed off an inch.  My butt will be black and blue.

The Sam’s pick up their little home-made bomb and sidle over to the activated mirror to send it through.  Fortunately the mirror and the dialling device were kept activated while I was unconscious so they could monitor the situation.  Unfortunately, that means I’m going to have to re-dial our reality for myself once I’ve shut down the lab mirror.  I'm aware it could take some time.  It’s not an exact science.

“How long?” Hammond asks.

“We can begin the dialling sequence in five minutes, Sir,” Sam reports.  “The timer was set to three.”  The other Sam nods supportively.

Anyone who’s had to stand around listening to two Jacks just hanging and doing their thing has the fullest appreciation of relativity.  Five minutes can feel like all eternity.  The instant the Sams give the all-clear I activate the device and toggle crisply.  Three views of the SGC scroll past rapidly, followed by a tropical beach.

“I dialled that,” Jack calls, “On the way here.”

Okay.  I must be getting closer.  I get a room full of startled little aliens and dial rapidly past.  There’s a bit of a silence behind me.

“Were those?” Sam asks weakly.

“I believe so,” Teal’c agrees gravely.

“Is it possible the production crew had access to this technology?” the other Teal’c asks.

“No, Teal’c.  I’m sure the resemblance to…to Ewoks is coincidental,” the other Sam says just as weakly.

Resemblance?  They were a tad on the cute and cuddly side, but the only resemblance I saw was to…Ewoks?  I was thinking my Edward Bear.  The fur isn’t as silky looking, they have more in the way of fangs and, after a regrettable on-site incident, eyes, but those aliens were definitely in an Edward place.

“Ewoks?  I’m not getting my memos,” Jack grumbles to Daniel’s Jack, who shoots a triumphant ‘see?’ look at Hammond.

There is a sharp division in the room, fifty-fifty the sane half thinking the other half is nuts.  I’m not actually sure which half Daniel and I are in, since we’re both in an Edward place from the looks of things, and although Jack is just whining about his memos again, the consensus seems to have him firmly in the nuts half.

“The Ewoks are Kayla’s favourite,” Hammond says repressively, scowling at both Jacks.

“The colonel has never seen ‘Star Wars’, Sir,” Sam pipes up on his behalf.

The Jacks look hopefully at Daniel and me.  We both look away and shrug deprecatingly at the general.  I hear a softly sneered ‘wuss’ from behind me.  I hastily dial again and get Jaffa that end and two Teal’cs with blazing staff weapons this end firing either side of me.  I’m extremely proud I don’t so much as flinch, even though I think my heart just pounded right out my mouth.  I dial rapidly on and find a store room I don’t recognise, another alien-looking lab, Sam in her lab…

“I did it in five moves,” my Jack announces crisply.

“I guess he’s not shooting for the record,” the other Jack sniffs.

“Would you care to try?” I snap.

Jack straightens up and strolls over to take the dialling device.  I scowl at him suspiciously as Daniel sighs.  Yep.  From the gleam in Jack’s eye, I deduce he IS shooting for the ‘record’.

“Five or less?” he queries, quirking an eyebrow at Jack.

“Well it’s not fifteen or more,” Jack responds snidely.

Arrogant shit.  I look expectantly at Hammond.

“Colonel,” Hammond warns.

Thank you!  Um, I guess this whole pout thing cuts both ways.

“Dial in small increments,” I advise and get a withering ‘who’s the PILOT?’ look for my pains.  I hold up my hands and back away to a suitably respectful distance.

Jack wastes one dial with a red draped room.  Daniel and I step forward.  “Can we just…”

“The text…There…” Daniel points, “Looks familiar…oh.”

“Thanks,” I say sarcastically.  “Back to the beach again, huh?”

Jack glares at us and dials for the third time.

“Everyone wave to Carter,” my Jack calls jovially.

Jack snarls and gives the most minute caress of the toggle he can manage and…

“Crap!”

“Yes!  Nailed it in four!”

Area 51, thank God.  We’re only a few minutes away from arrest and interrogation.

Jack beams at the general.  “Thank you, Sir.  It’s been a blast.”

Literally.

Hammond nods graciously.  “I’ll lock P2C-123 out of our dialling programme.”

“Sir!” the Sams and Daniel protest.

Hammond holds up a hand and they subside.  “These mirrors are a significant security risk.  We don’t have ANY idea what could come through them.  It’s a miracle the Goa’uld haven’t latched onto them before now.  We’d have no defence against a weapon of mass destruction.  There’s no iris we can graft over the surface of the mirror to protect us.”

“You’re going to destroy the mirror,” Daniel sighs.

“I think it’s wise, son,” Hammond tells him firmly.  “And now I think it’s time for you all to leave us,” he says kindly.

“Carter,” Jack orders, nodding at the mirror. “Teal’c.”

Sam turns and hugs Sam, both of them looking distinctly misty-eyed.  Sams who work together, play together.  They just don’t want to stay together.

Teal’c bows to Teal’c.  “Ours is the only reality of consequence.”

“As is ours,” Teal’c agrees, bowing in return.

Teal’c and Sam thank the general and step up to touch the mirror.  The surface ripples and then they’re on the other side looking back at us, careful to avoid triggering the security beam thingies.

Jack turns to Jack.  “Or else,” he says cryptically.  Then he leans in and whispers something that has Daniel’s Jack snorting with amusement.  The long speculative look they both aim at Daniel has Daniel a little wild around the eyes.

I turn to General Hammond and proffer a handshake.  “Thank you,” I tell him gratefully.  “We’ve learned a lot,” I say sincerely.

“Youbetcha,” Daniel's Jack agrees cheerfully, stepping in to hug me.  “Thanks,” he whispers.

My Jack seems unenthusiastic about the hug, but Daniel looks sympathetic.  It’s very sobering.  I have a lot of stuff lurking in my psyche I didn’t even know about.  I’m not exactly the lean, mean translating machine.  And now I have to say goodbye to myself.  I don’t hug and fortunately Daniel doesn’t expect me to.  He just smiles a little and scoots back to stand at his Jack’s side, which is as good a note to exit on as any.  I thank Sam and Teal’c, then Jack and I step up the mirror.

“Soon as we get back, Fraiser is looking at your appendix,” Jack threatens.

“What?” I stiffen in alarm, my wave to Daniel and Jack faltering mid-gesture.  Dammit, Jack!  I think I just gave them the finger!

Jack shoves me through.

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

JACK

“Resourceful as always, Dr Jackson,” Hammond praises kindly.

Daniel brightens a little.

“You all did well under difficult circumstances, people,” Hammond tells us warmly.  “I’m proud of you.  Dr Fraiser?”

Janet smiles warmly at Daniel.  “None of the members of SG-1 show any sign of the seizures exhibited by Dr Carter as a result of entropic cascade failure.  I doubt their exposure was long enough.  Dr Jackson has suffered no ill-effects from his exposure to the energy weapon and I’m happy to clear him for active duty along with the rest of the team.”

“Appendix?” I prompt.  Daniel slowly turns his head to send an unforgiving look my way.

“No sign of abdominal tenderness or inflammation, WBC – white blood cell count - normal,” Janet reports briskly.

Daniel’s scowl darkens.

“It EXPLODED,” I complain.  I am not a complete mother hen.  If Daniel’s appendix exploded on a mission he could DIE.  I think of repeated blood tests and abdominal exams as a simple precautionary measure.  I’ve already been assured - several times - that preventative surgery would preclude strenuous physical activity for six weeks or so, ALL types of activity.  That is SO not gonna happen, so I’ll settle for Daniel being checked up the wazoo every time he passes through the Infirmary.  He’ll thank me when his appendix doesn’t explode.

I see a lot of half-smiles and shared glances around the table.  I am NOT over-protective.  Merely properly vigilant.  And cautious.  It's called taking responsibility.  I'm PAID to look after my kids' welfare.  I simply have a broader interpretation of what their welfare is and what's best for them than the Air Force does.  And than they do.

“You have a mission briefing for B2Y-658 at 07:00.  Dismissed, people.”  Hammond rises and heads off to his office, closing the door with a snap.

I wince.  I didn’t exactly endear myself to the security contingent who greeted our arrival at Area 51 and Hammond has ruffled feathers to smooth.  Speaking of which…I turn to Daniel.  “What’s eating you?” Daniel’s leap into Love Boat territory paid off in spades.  My other half and his better half are probably energetically horizontal right now, so God knows why Daniel is so pissy.

Daniel pulls a face and sighs before he forgets he’s Not Speaking to me.  “That’s the first me we’ve met.”

Carter and Fraiser make sympathetic noises.

“It’s freaky,” Carter confides.  “Every minor flaw seems magnified a hundred-fold.”

“Magnified?” Daniel perks up.  “So I’m not really so…so…”

Words fail Daniel but unfortunately not the rest of us.  After a brief pause to marshal some thought, my kids valiantly regroup and we make like rugs.

“Absolutely not,” I respond instantly.  “You’re pissy as hell.”

“Snide,” Carter agrees supportively.  “Swe…sarcastic.”

“I have witnessed you argue with O’Neill on many occasions,” Teal’c tells him firmly.

“You sound alarmingly LIKE the Colonel,” Janet mumbles reassuringly, avoiding my eye.

If she means mature, rational and thoughtful, then yes, he does.  If not, we can just take it outside.  I can take Janet and her little pixie heels.

Daniel sags.  “That bad, huh?” he asks mournfully.


Daniel has been edgy and quiet since the debriefing, which meant we wound up here at his place, where he's comfortable, a prerequisite if I'm going to get to the bottom this.  No pun intended for once.  I'm not about to try jumping his bones when it looks like what he needs is a good stiff hug.  I’m guessing this funk is because he kissed the shit out of my alternate, which is actually pretty great because he thought The Ego was me.  I can live with that.  I can also hope like hell he tries it on me directly.  I have no shame.  I’ll hint if I have to.

Daniel is waiting for me while I lock the truck so we can walk in together, but it looks like that's the last thing he actually wants to do.  I still feel bad about his car.  We both know it was Ferretti simply proving one more time to Daniel JUST how much he likes him, but it’s going to take the valet service a WEEK to get all that crap off Daniel’s car.  I think the ‘Engaged?  Doomed!’ sign was WELDED on.

I hesitate, trying to think what I can do to put him at his ease.  I haven’t really gotten to grips with the whole make an effort dating thing yet, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes no matter how bizarre it is do it with a guy.  Pun very definitely intended.

"Hey, you wanna rent a movie?" I call hopefully.  It’s a classic date night ritual, right?  It’s been a while but I remember that.  It’s Thursday night, not Friday, but we may as well go for it now.  We’re scheduled to be off-world for the next three days, starting with 658.  I have no intention whatsodamnever of being off-world NEXT Saturday.  That’s THE date.  A REAL date.  And a surprise for Daniel.  Kind of a defensive surprise.  The longer he has to think about, the longer he’ll have to realise certain…stuff, i.e., the Dale Street Café is THE most romantic restaurant in the Springs and I have about the same resistance to rising sap as a tree in springtime.

Daniel perks up but stays put.

Ah well, faint heart never won cautious linguist.  "You can pick," I wheedle.  I hope Daniel appreciates the magnitude of my generosity.  Graciously consenting to allow one's S.O. to select the evening's entertainment is a relationship BIGGIE.  I bet more couples have broken up in Blockbuster than Safeway, and that's going it some.

Daniel heads back to the car, a tiny grin emerging from a sea of scepticism.

"I get to pick?  And you don't get to argue?" he asks suspiciously as he opens the passenger door.

"Let's not suck ALL the fun right out of it," I complain.

The grin steadies and broadens.  O-kaay.  Progress.

“Where’s that place you go?  The arty-farty place?” I ask casually as I pull out into the traffic.  I stick with Blockbuster.  They do snacks.

Daniel turns to me wide-eyed.  “Jeez, Jack, you’ll be getting down on one knee next!” he marvels.

He returns my grin.  Definite progress.

“‘Norm’s Video & Arcade’.  And the arcade is NOT what you think,” he adds hurriedly.

My face falls.  “No toys?”

“A wide selection of World Cinema,” Daniel informs me repressively.

“Shit.”

“Norm has some really EXCELLENT movies,” Daniel coaxes.

“Sounds like it,” I mutter bitterly.

“You get your own free translation service,” Daniel graciously offers me a not particularly rare treat.

“You speak in tongues?” I leer as we coast up to a stop sign.  Daniel’s neighbourhood is generously littered with signs to stop traffic and no traffic to stop.  It's one of those chicken and egg oddities.  Which came first, the traffic or the stop signs?  Or do I mean went first?

I'm not sure what I mean, so I'd better stop thinking before my brain bleeds like it does when I get to thinking about the Big Bang, which is a regular occurrence after half a dozen beers.  The Big Bang is one of the best arguments for temperance there is.  I GET the Big Bang, I get that an astronomical amount of shit blew up and went for a cosmic joyride.  What I DON'T get is what was there FIRST.  How can the Big Bang be the start of it all?  Something was there first.  That was the start of it all.  The thing that blew up and made the universe.  It was there FIRST on there’d have been nothing TO bang.

I get shit like that with beer, as if the hangover wasn't bad enough.  The way my mind works, some Fridays the hangover is the good part.

Daniel ‘tsks’ and rolls his eyes.  “Your subliminal seduction technique could really use some work,” he grumbles.

“I prefer single intenders,” I say cheerfully as we swing out onto Calhon Road.  I crank up the leer to moustache twirling subtlety.  “You know?  Up front and personal.”

Daniel groans.

It’s maybe five minutes drive from Daniel’s to Norm’s but I figure we’ll need the truck for the accompaniments.  It takes a lot of skill to select the most appropriate snacks to ensure the perfect viewing ambience, and I pride myself that I am WELL up to the task.  For the connoisseur, popcorn is good for blockbusters and comedies, the quality of which I usually judge by my Simpsons’ post-viewing vacuuming standard.  Adam Sandler rates a solid eight minutes by the time I’ve tackled the back of the couch; rare and precious gems like ‘American Pie’ or ‘South Park’ nine and twelve respectively.  M&Ms are an acceptable substitute if the popcorn looks skanky.  Chocolate is perfect for drama, ice cream for romance.  Basically, the more you have to think, the less you should have to chew.  Wouldn't want to restrict the flow of the blood to the brain or anything.

With Daniel clearly looking forward to messing with my mind cinematographically, I'm guessing we should just cut straight to Slurpees so my brain will have company.

I spy a side lot by a low slung building with a green and white striped awning.

"Norm's," Daniel tries for malevolence and succeeds fairly well.

I park the truck a tad unenthusiastically.  I sense imminent interface with worthy world cinema.

"Are you going to 'assist' me in the selection process?" Daniel asks suspiciously as he sidles out of the truck.  He's a smart guy.  He's grasping the door handle.  It's a hostage situation.  If he hears anything he doesn't like, he's gonna slam that mother so hard the door falls off my side.

"Would I?" I ask innocently.

Daniel smiles sweetly and slams hard enough to make the truck shudder.  Compromise slam.  He’s a good boy at heart.

"I need some work on the act, huh?" I pull a face.

Daniel grins and looks down, refusing to comment.

"Can't fake you out no how," I grumble.

Daniel glances back at me enigmatically as he pulls open the only barrier left between me and worthy movies and slips inside.  "I wouldn't say that," he comments evenly.  "Quite the opposite, in fact."

Oh, yeah.  Daniel's got a SHIT load of stuff going down in that mind of his.

"Self-defence," I riposte.

Daniel nods and lets it go.  For now?

Told ya.  Angst arcade.  You stroll into these places hand in hand looking for Mary Steenburgen and tear out spitting blood and looking for an attorney.  I'm telling you, the really enterprising divorce lawyer should open branches outside Safeway and Blockbuster.

"I'm warning you now, my absolute minimum requirement is viewing the same language I speak," I insist as Daniel pensively regards a scary array of arty covers in the 'arcade'.  "The only foreign I like is British."

"British?" Daniel asks hopefully as he browses carefully through the 'arcade'.

"Not big dresses British," I hasten to add.  "'Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels' British," I crisply clarify.

"That's a shame," Daniel sighs.  "Norm has some BBC classic serials which are JUST to die for."

"It may come to that," I warn him grimly when he suggestively slows down in the 'Classics'.  "No Dickens, no Austen," I order, nudging him along when he gets his eye on something featuring some woman with big hair wearing some kind of fancy sofa with a low cut bodice.  Always a bad sign.  "And no frigging cinema vérité."

Daniel looks over his shoulder, obviously impressed by the lingo.  "John Malkovich," he coaxes, fingering the box temptingly.

"I like Michael Caine, if that helps," I offer.

"No."  Daniel pauses.  "Michelle Pfeiffer?" he wheedles.

"And The Penguin?"

"No."

“Oh.”  I hustle him straight through the 'arcade', which takes both hands and a fair bit of leaning as he defiantly digs his heels in at the BBC part.

Daniel takes revenge by detouring right around the top ten, comedy and family fun, striking out confidently for drama.  In fact, he's headed straight for a specific shelf among the DVD's, which he prowls along anxiously before pouncing triumphantly on…

"John Cusack!" I accuse him indignantly.

"You'll like this movie," Daniel assures me.  "He's a hit man in this one.  There’s a body count.  You can critique to your heart’s content."

“No.”  No way I'm sitting idly by while he gets off on Lysander-like John Cusack!  I'm not into threesomes.  "Body count or not, put it back."

"Okay," Daniel agrees mildly, slipping it back into its place.  Then he frowns, stares at the titles either side, pulls the box back out and slips it into place a few boxes nearer to me.  Another box gets shuffled forward, then I shuffle Daniel forward, protesting.  Him, not me.

"What you get up to behind locked doors is your business, but kindly control the urge to alphabetise in public."  Sheesh.  We're in full view of the Disney section, here.  Kids don't need to be exposed to stuff like that.  They’ll thank me later.  It kind of sucks all the fun right outta that gut-wrenching moment the first time your boss orders you to do something you SO don’t want to do and it comes crashing down on you that your choices are exactly quit or cave and this is your LIFE until you die.  Many people’s lives involve alphabetical order.  You do NOT want to know that until you’re in your mid-twenties, and it usually takes to the mid-thirties to even begin to come to terms with it.  Let’s not take that rite of passage away from them with an early warning ‘look kids, you could grow up to be this gorgeous genius and you too will be overcome by the irresistible urge to shuffle little boxes’.  Jeez.  I mean, this is exactly why I told the guidance people at school I wanted a really big gun with lots of bullets.  "Little pitchers and all that."

Daniel scowls at me.  "We're watching 'Grosse Pointe Blank'," he insists.

Nope, we’re not.  He put the movie back and I moved him on.

"I have it at home," Daniel says sweetly.  "I have all his movies on DVD.  He's a wonderful actor. "

A HOT actor, with big brown eyes and a great ASS!  All of them on DVD?  Which means Daniel is troubling himself to COLLECT John Cusack with perfect picture quality and Dolby stereo.

“He actually learned to kick-box for a movie called ‘Say Anything’, and he’s kept it up, he does it in ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ too,” Daniel says admiringly.

Shit.  How juvenile is it to say he wants action stuff he can reach out and touch it?  As in right here, right now?  Right in front – or technically behind just now – of him.

Daniel darts past me and heads over to the horror movies which is a step in the right direction anyway.  I slouch along behind him, brooding over matters Cusackian.  If Daniel likes Cusack so damn much, how come he never mentioned that Lysander looked just like him?  Only built?  And better looking?

I catch up to Daniel as he's peering round cautiously like he's about to get caught with something XXX-rated by some perky seven year-old with braces and a Mom with a hole in the toe of her sneakers.  It is the work of but a moment to tread on his foot so hard he yelps so I can twitch the box from his slackened grasp.

"'Tremors'?" I ask after a long moment of silent contemplation.

"You said I could pick," Daniel mutters sulkily.  "I thought…I like this movie," he says defensively, daring me to comment.

"Are you kidding?  I LOVE this movie!  'Stampede'," I quote happily.

"'Shit, for all you know, they can fly'," Daniel shyly quotes back.

"Good line.  'I LOVE this vacuum cleaner'."

"'THAT was your PLAN?'"

"We're getting this movie," I gloat.  This is so COOL.  I never even suspected Daniel had seen The Snakeoid Light.  "It needs repeated viewings…"

"To bring out all the subtleties," Daniel agrees as we stroll over to the counter.  "You get more from it every time you see it.  Just like 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses'."

"Nice try," I admire.  "But NO."

"And anything with John Cusack," Daniel chatters as we wait in line to rent our movie.

I sniff disapprovingly.  I know exactly which part of good ol' JC bears repeated viewing, and it ain't the part that talks.  "Snacks?" I ask coldly.

"I have ice cream at home," Daniel says vaguely.

"Ice cream?  Whose?"  I'm fussy.  I won't buy anything that comes on special.  You want good ice cream, you gotta correlate size to cost.  If it fits in the palm of your hand and costs what you paid for your pants, it's ice cream.

"Mine," Daniel mutters distractedly, watching the clerk anxiously as he disappears into the stacks of tapes clutching our box.

"I know it's yours.  It's in your freezer," I explain patiently.

Daniel turns to me, flushing slightly.  "No, I mean it's mine.  As in, I made it.  I love ice cream but they never get it the way I want it and they never have the flavours I like."

"You MAKE ice-cream?" I ask incredulously.

Daniel shoots me an endearingly shy look from under his lashes.

"Shit."  I'm lost in admiration.  "Flavours?" I ask casually, as if it’s no big thing.

"I've been trying out a coffee flavour, mocha swirled with espresso," Daniel murmurs, glancing around self-consciously.

Doable, definitely doable.  A coupla pints should be enough to decide if it's a keeper.

"And a chunky caramel-pecan cheesecake blend.  They're both really good."

A coupla quarts of that one!

"Triple chocolate, with dark, milk and white chocolate swirls."

Oy.

“I’m also experimenting with stem ginger and acacia honey.  And cherry.  You soak the cherries in brandy, flambé them, add fresh cream and pour it into the ice cream.  That one is rich,” he confesses.  “They’re all rich.”

Dropping to one knee?  A very distinct possibility that could happen right after I open the freezer.

Daniel anxiously peers over the counter as the clerk desperately circles the neat stacks of videos, obviously coming up short on ‘Tremors’.

“I hate when this happens,” Daniel grumbles.  “You get your heart set on a particular movie and it turns out to be the only one they’ve lost or loaned to someone who moved to Dubuque three years ago.”

“You want we should come back there and HELP?” I call to the clerk, perhaps a smidge on the brusque side.

“Do you like Nicolas Cage?” Daniel asks while we wait.  And wait.

“Sure,” I agree, not really paying attention.  The clerk is running out of places to look and he’s avoiding my eyes.

“He’s another excellent actor, but very accessible.  Strangely, the only movie of his I didn’t like was ‘Leaving Las Vegas’.”

“Mm-hm.”  I shoot the clerk another ‘encouraging’ look and he gulps and bolts towards the backroom door.  “I like the one with the helicopters.”

“I noticed you, um, like helicopters,” Daniel observes innocently.

“Air Force.”

“If you say - you found it!” Daniel calls triumphantly as the clerk finally emerges from the stacks and sidles up to the counter flushed and breathless.

“I always find it,” the clerk looks wounded.

“How many times have you rented it?” I ask, curious.

Daniel flushes.

“We’ll buy it,” I inform the clerk.  Daniel can watch it whenever he wants.  At my place.

Daniel looks hopefully at the clerk.  I…don’t.  The clerk goes with my flow.  Any suggestion I’m coming over the counter to get the tape if he doesn’t hand it over toot sweet is entirely in his own mind.  It’s all down to perception.  Just looking, here.

Daniel hovers while the clerk makes a show of checking the records for dignity’s sake.

The clerk looks up, smiling.  “You’re the only member to have rented this item in the past year, Doctor Jackson.  I think we can let this one go.  That’ll be $9.99.”

“Why?” I demand.  This is another one of my peeves.  “Why do people who sell stuff automatically assume the buyer will hear the ‘nine’ and assume it’s cheaper?  We’re supposed to go ‘nine’ and ignore the ‘ninety-nine’?  It’s one cent off ten bucks.  ONE cent!  Just own up and make it ten bucks, okay?  Drives people NUTS.  There is NOTHING psychological about one lousy cent, I don’t care what those marketing hacks say.”

Daniel’s mouth has fallen open.  I reach out a gentle finger and nudge under his chin.  Don’t want to be getting bad desires.  Graphic sex might be a little too much bang for the Norm’s ‘family’ crowd buck.  Daniel shakes himself and turns to pay the clerk, who asks for the whole ten bucks, eyeing me the entire transaction time, then Daniel grabs my tape and we book from the den of misery, discord and family fun.

Daniel keeps shooting sly glances my way as we walk around to the lot.

“What?” I ask as I unlock the truck.  “Things like that don’t bother you?”

“I just didn’t know they bothered you.”

Daniel is fascinated, I can tell.

“Just getting warmed up,” I tell him complacently, sniggering malevolently when Daniel’s air of mild, slightly stupefied fascination segues into alarm.

“About the movie, Jack?” Daniel asks as he slips into his seat and buckles up.  “I’ve been thinking.”

No Cusack?  Cool.

’Con Air’ is great.  They’re both in that one.”

Both?

Et tu, Nic?


“You’re sure you’re okay with this?” I call.

“I’m sure.  Just…you know,” Daniel points a finger in the general direction of his bureau.

“Any drawer?”

“I cleared the top drawer for you,” Daniel shrugs.  “I have to get back to the potatoes.  If they parboil too long they’ll go mushy and won’t crisp when I roast them.  I’ll be back in a minute to change.”

I beam at him as he wanders out of his bedroom again.  I’ve grasped that the only difference between boiling a potato and parboiling a potato is you get crispy roasts at the end of the latter.  Daniel freezes food, REAL food.  He had a shit load of exciting parcels when I delved into his freezer and came up Italian.  Chicken cacciatore, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables.  It has been made clear to me if I don’t make a fuss over the veg, I get dessert.

I toss my bag on the bed and start to unpack.  Daniel just sailed through another S.O. biggie without blinking.  The leaving of Stuff.  Sweats, socks, shampoo, emergency ‘I was SO not getting some last night’ change of clothes, the usual.  He’s more worried about his potatoes getting mushy than surrendering personal space.

I’m feeling good right now.  Better than I have in way longer than I even like to think about, despite the fact he gave me the top drawer instead of the bottom.  I gotta go easy on the ACL references if it has Daniel thinking I’m so elderly and infirm I shouldn’t have to bend over.  We can both have a lot of fun in that position when he’s up for it.

“Hey,” Daniel calls softly from the doorway.  “We’ve got about half an hour before we eat.”

I nod casually.  If he was in a lighter mood I’d tease him, offer a quickie.  He’s still got that trouble in his eyes, so I’m playing it smart.

“I’ve opened some wine, Jack.  You’ll like it.”

I won’t but if it’ll make him happy…

I know he’s there behind me, I feel the warmth of his presence, but the arms slipping around my waist and the head coming to rest on my shoulder shock the hell out of me.  Daniel sighs and nuzzles his cheek against mine caressingly.  I nuzzle straight back of course.  Not about to look a gift linguist in the mouth.

“Okay?” I ask quietly, taking Daniel’s hands in a strong clasp.

“Mmm.”

I’ll take that as an ‘okay’.

“I’m gonna stow my gear in the bathroom, okay?”  That’ll give Daniel time to change.  I don’t want to encroach.  Daniel is modest.  For him, it’s different when we’re making love.  He’s so open to me when we’re together, but I know he’s still very uncomfortable with getting there.  It’s a small thing, but it’s important to him.  If I learned one thing in my marriage, it’s that the small things in their way are as important as the crises and the dramas.  You can love a person with all you are and still wear them down.  I’ve learned that the hardest way there is.  Some things you don’t push.  For Daniel, this is one of them.  When he gets comfortable enough…He might not, ever, but it isn’t a reflection on me.  It’s just…Daniel.

“Okay.”  Daniel kisses that spot on my jawline that keeps drawing him back and steps away with flattering reluctance.

I turn and stroke my thumb over his cheek, smiling as he flushes, just as he has every other time.  Daniel’s eyes are very soft as I lean in and we kiss lingeringly, wrapping comfortably around one another in the easiest embrace we’ve shared.

“I was scared shitless,” I admit at last, leaning my forehead against his.

“Me too.  We’re going to have work at this, every day,” Daniel says seriously.  “It’s not just us, it’s Sam and Teal’c.”

“Do you want to go on?” I have to offer Daniel a get-out.  He didn’t have a goddamn clue what he was getting into when he came banging on my door a few nights ago.  I have to offer, but I don’t know what the hell I would do if he took it.  I can’t give him up, not now, not ever.  I’ve waited too goddamn long as it is.  I don’t think I can live, not alone.

Daniel rears back from me, his eyes widening.  “Of course!  I want you. I want US, Jack.  Don’t ever d-doubt it.”

I’m not imagining the hitch in his voice, Daniel knows it too.

“I’m WITH you,” he reassures me.  “I’m not a quitter, Jack,” he says with quiet dignity.

“Who ya talkin’ to?” I ask wryly, trying not to wallow TOO obviously in ‘MINE MINE MINE’, with only partial success if the pout is anything to go by.  I’m thinking what Daniel really needs is a lot of cuddling and a good night’s sleep.  “Annoys the crap outta me most days,” I assure him cheerfully, then I pull away and leave him in peace.

“Stay out of my freezer,” Daniel calls as I’m heading out the bedroom door.

I turn and glare at him.  “It never crossed my mind,” I say coldly.  Busted.  So much for my plan to conduct extensive taste tests so I make the best dessert selection.  I may have to go with my original plan and demand a scoop – or two – of everything going.  I sniff haughtily, which makes Daniel grin, and turn my back on him pointedly.  I need to do something to keep me out of mischief, and wheeling the TV out of its corner and plugging the damn thing in should do that.

Daniel has books.  He seems to find the TV optional.  The first time I came over, I thought he didn’t have a TV.  He does, he just keeps it tucked out of the way so it isn’t cluttering the place up unless he wants to watch something.  The irony doesn’t escape me.  It’s not that Daniel’s home isn’t utterly unique and so ‘tasteful’ it makes Carter and Fraiser gnash their teeth, but every goddamn flat surface is littered with books and objects.  ‘Scuse me.  Objets.  Everything here is breakable, including legs.

The whole loft is littered with stairs.  You have to climb up two from the front door to get into the apartment.  You have to climb back down two to get from the dining area to the living room.  You have to climb stairs to get into Daniel’s BED.  Of course the floors have to be stone, not wood, so if you go down, you’ll take not just yourself, but something unique and irreplaceable worth more than your house with you.

Daniel’s home entertainment apparently consists of books and a piano.  He has the state of the art TV and VCR combo purely to service his unhealthy obsession with allegedly interesting documentaries.  Daniel is to the BBC and National Geographic what some people – unspecified – are to Poochinsky.  He’s got equipment bristling with more RAM than the mainframe at the SGC.  Brings a whole new meaning to plug and play.

He’s been taping stuff while we’ve been busy making our own entertainment, so I just have to wheel the whole deal out to where we can see it from the couch.  This isn’t as big a deal as it sounds.  He paid for fancy pants cabling so he could do just this, and then shove it all back in the corner when he’s done.  God forbid he should have to part with one of those cabinets, bureaus or tables he’s got everywhere you turn.  Speaking of tables, who needs two dining tables?  I know he uses the nearer one for a desk, but it’s a table.  With four chairs.  It’s not a desk.  Two tables?  I don’t get it.  Daniel just doesn’t play by the rules.  He likes everything in here, or it wouldn’t be here, and he doesn’t care that he has two dining tables and he lives alone.

Jeez.  I’m hoping Daniel’s two tables don’t turn into another Big Bang when the beer flows too freely.

As I get the TV into the perfect viewing position, I have to wonder why I never picked up on the fact the DVD had to be for movies.  I’ve never actually seen a DVD laying around.  Probably got them stashed in one of these cabinets next to something REALLY fragile.  I’ll have to ask if I can browse the collection, find out who else gets him hot.  Daniel is still strongly drawn to ‘Con Air’ which turns out to have John, Nic AND frickin’ John Malkovich in it.  He thinks the action will soothe the insanely jealous breast, but he’s sadly…”HEL-lo.”

“Jack,” Daniel protests, toes curling in embarrassment – literally – as I wolf-whistle and give him a comprehensive once-over.

My own sartorial preparations for an evening vegging out on the couch with Daniel in my lap consisted of kicking off my sneakers and replacing sweatshirt with T-shirt.  Daniel is barefoot in faded, low slung, sprayed–on jeans and an equally faded blue chambray shirt hanging loose and rumpled, sleeves rolled up, and not particularly enthusiastically buttoned.  I’ve got a navel in my sights.

Me Jack.  Me LIKES.

“Woof.”  Well, my tongue IS hanging out.

“Woof?” Dr Jackson glares.

I waggle my eyebrows at him, leering outrageously.  Daniel shifts nervously foot to foot.  He’s trapped and he knows it.  He wants to use the potato excuse again, he’s gotta get by me first.  Not gonna happen.  It is clearly my duty to assist Dr Jackson to adjust to his new role as lust object and I’ve never been one to shirk my duty unless I felt like it.  I drop onto the couch and pat the cushion meaningfully.  If Daniel wants to think I mean ‘heel’, I won’t argue.

The teakettle squeals.  Daniel smirks at me triumphantly and bolts to the relative safety of the kitchen.  No problemo.  I can just sit here and savour the treat in store.  I hear a fair bit of action from the kitchen, so he’s obviously immersed in food preparation.

“You julienning the shit out of those carrots?” I call interrogatively.

“Something like that.  Out in a minute,” Daniel replies cheerfully.  “How does it smell?”

“Good enough to eat.”  Food too.  I got a waft of something lush when Daniel loped past me.  He not only dressed sexy, he now thinks he smells sexy.  I get sappy every time I think about Daniel making an ‘effort’ for me.  DANIEL.  For ME.  Whatever the hell that scent is, I want to buy enough to bath him in it.  My hormones are going Stone Age Baaaad on me.  I have been trying so hard to keep my mind off intercourse and now I couldn’t drag it away at gunpoint.  I mean, Daniel is SO not ready for it, tonight was the first time we’ve kissed without him flinching, even for a heartbeat.  Daniel is worth slow and steady.  I promised, whatever he was comfortable with, whatever he wanted and despite what the greedy little bastard down below is begging for every time I THINK about Daniel.

If Daniel wants to fuck me in the meantime, I am more than happy to put out.  I haven’t been with a man for twenty odd years, and I didn’t expect it then, but I remember how it all works.  For all the practice I had, it turned out I knew shit about sex until my senior year roommate at the Academy seduced me.  Seduce is possibly not the right word.  It was more the heat and the adjacency, and me waking up at three am with his mouth on my dick.  He sucked me off and thanked me.  I think I said something stupid like ‘sure, any time’ with what little remained of my brain, and he took me literally.  He did take me literally, right after graduation.  Fucked me senseless, had me howling from the rafters.  Let me fuck him.  Badly.  He was killed in…

Never mind.  I’m too happy to go dodging bullets down memory lane.  Happiness is something I haven’t had in so long I’ve just about forgotten what it feels like.

Daniel emerges from the kitchen and trots down to join me on the couch.  He hesitates, biting his lip, as I straighten up.

“What?” I ask cautiously.  Happiness in this case being exactly six feet of barely touched the surface passion and aching complexity I have to really WORK at.  The fact he’s six built feet of totally smokin’ HOT babe from stem to stern and top and toe has nothing – okay something – a LOT to do with it.  I’m a GUY.  The greedy little bastard ALWAYS has an agenda.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Daniel blurts out, looking about as awkward as he obviously feels.  “Not with another man.”

I’m about a page ahead in the textbook myself.  I’ve never had a relationship with a man.  I got sucked off, and fucked a few times.  I had a blast, moved on, never looked back.  That was it.  Never even thought about my youthful indiscretion until Daniel exploded into my life.  “Do whatever you want to do,” I assure Daniel.  “This is our lives.  As far as I’m concerned there are no right and wrong answers.  We do what feels right for us and fuck the rest of the world if they don’t get it.”

Daniel braces himself and slips onto the couch next to me.  Right next to me.  Any more next to me and he’d be ON me.  I get it.  I approve.  Thoroughly.  Daniel wants to be held.  He wants the Relationship Stuff.  This we can do.  I throw my arm up and around his shoulders, snug him into my side, not even attempting to hide how happy I am to have him close.  Daniel curls up with enviable suppleness, laying his head on my shoulder as I drop my arm until it settles heavily over his hip.  I’m surprised and pleased when Daniel reaches out to stroke careful fingers over my stomach.

Crap.  I’ve missed this.  With Sara, I…I’ve MISSED this.  As Daniel’s lips graze over my throat, I realise he’s missed it too.  He’s right; it does feel weird to be curled up on the couch fondling another guy, let alone a friend, but I’m right too.  We’re us.  Normal rules don’t apply.  “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” I complain.  “This morning we were in an alternate reality and now we’re in the…”

“Twilight Zone?” Daniel chuckles, rubbing my stomach hypnotically and just a liiiittle possessively.

I’m not sure who he’s trying to soothe, him or me.  I’m not sure he’s trying to soothe, not when his hand wanders down over my thigh.  I’m absolutely certain he not soothing and he should STOP when he runs his fingers over my dick, glancing up at me to watch my reaction.  Fire down below is pithy yet accurate.

“Hey,” I protest, lazily lifting his hand.

Daniel waits all of ten seconds before he’s back, curiously cupping and stroking.  “Don’t worry, Jack,” he assures me earnestly.  “Just trying to get a rise out of you,” he murmurs dulcetly, all wide-eyed innocence.

“Succeeding,” I complain, lifting his hand and holding onto it.  I stroke my thumb idly over his palm, follow the fine lines down and onto his wrist, smoothing over the delicate tracery of veins.  I drop my head onto Daniel’s, basking in the solid reality of his presence, warm and heavy against my side, relaxing into me with every moment that passes.  He’s happy, I hope.  This was what he wanted after all, not to be alone any longer.

Daniel’s breath hitches suddenly.  “Jack,” he gasps a soft protest.

I turn to face him.  “Hey, what is it?”  Daniel is wide-eyed, a little pale.  What?  We’re just sitting here.

He takes my hand and draws it down to rest over his dick, moaning as I subtly rub the heel of my hand against him as he swells.

“Oh,” I snort.  “That.”

“You were stroking my wrist.”  Daniel looks as bewildered as he sounds.  “That’s all.”

Oh, I get it.  I do.   Daniel’s gone from curiosity to rather enjoying lovemaking in a very short space of time, but he needs some, shall we COAXING to get him relaxed enough to get turned on.  I think – this IS the first time he’s gotten turned without me cleaning his clock.  I guess it’s just hit home this isn’t just ‘pull here for orgasm’ physiology.   “You’re attracted to me!” I accuse him as ‘indignantly’ as I can manage.  “Why didn’t you say?  We could have been having sex or something.  I’m desperate you know, take what I can get.  Haven’t had any in years.”

Daniel’s whole face lights up for just a moment, long enough to distract me from the elbow he drives into my ribs.

“OW!  Jeez!”

“I am attracted to you,” Daniel admits shakily.  “But I don’t feel any different…I…”  He sighs and looks straight at me.  “It’s always been there between us, hasn’t it?” he asks uncertainly.

“You want something easy or the truth?” I ask him, grimacing when he winces.  I was attracted to Daniel from the moment I met him.  He had something that spoke to me when I heard nothing but my son’s voice and the shattering retort of that pistol.  I heard him more clearly than Sara and even now I don’t know what that means.  I was so goddamn messed up I didn’t know left from right let alone wrong from right, but I let this man reach me through all of it, let him pull me back from the worst of me.  I do know if I had been thinking straight, there wouldn’t have been a Sha’uri for him, not if she had to get through me.

“I didn’t know,” Daniel says wearily.

“You loved your wife, Daniel.”

Daniel shakes his head, a blind, stricken look in his eyes.  He turns abruptly and buries his face in my neck.  He’s shaking so bad I twist so I can pull him into my arms, wheezing a little from the vehemence of his grip.

“I can’t THINK straight,” Daniel mumbles into my shoulder, arms tightening.

“So don’t try!” I say tersely.  “We got time to work out the answers, Danny.  I’ve got nothing BUT time for you.  All you worry about is what you want, and we’ll work out what it means together, okay?”  Daniel is resistant, holding himself as far away from me as my grips permits.  “OKAY?” I shake him.

“I’m not.  Not okay,” Daniel comes up snarling.  “I want to have SEX with you!” he seethes.  “I’ve…I’ve pretty much ALWAYS wanted to have sex with you and I didn’t even know it!  I want to have sex with you right now.”

I’m guessing my reaction is not as supportive as it should be.  I kinda went with a vast sloppy ‘ain’t he cute ain’t he MINE’ grin.  The hostility from Daniel cranks up, though I’ve no objection to make when he chooses to express his anger by trying to climb into my skin with me.

“Mmm,” I gloat happily, caressing whatever I can reach.

“You’re HOT,” Daniel accuses me, shivering as my hands skim everywhere they’re not supposed to be.

“Sorry about that.”  I can be hotter than this.  He won’t believe how much.

“You’re NOT!” Daniel spits.  “What am I supposed to do, Jack?  I’ve known you for years and suddenly all you have to do is LOOK at me and I get so horny I can’t see straight.”

“I thought it was the touchy-fe…” I take in the glare.  “O-kaay.  Cutting into Prime Whine Time.  Shutting my yap right NOW.”

“Your mouth,” Daniel murmurs dazedly, dreamy eyes riveted to the orifice in question.  “I want it…I want…I…oh GOD!” he groans.

Enlightenment comes to us all at some point, whether we want it to or not.  In this case, I don’t mind a BIT.  “You want me to…” I choke with ill-suppressed laughter which annoys my sensitive lover no how.  I did insist he had to TELL me what he wanted and now we’re both wondering if he can vocalise the word ‘blowjob’.  I admit it, it’s a hell of a leap for him.  Most of Daniel’s interaction with this mouth for the past five years has involved yelling, orders, sarcasm and imprecations.  I lean in and slowly trail my tongue up his long, graceful throat to his ear.  “Think of it as poetic justice,” I whisper.  “The perfect way to shut me up.”

Daniel sits up jerkily, looking at me long and hard, his face melting to tenderness, gratitude and still confused passion.

It’s fun helping him wrestle with his sexuality.  A reason to LIVE type fun.

Daniel stiffens suddenly.  “I didn’t mean kissing,” he mutters edgily, not meeting my eyes.  “I mean…you know.”

“You DON’T mean kissing?” I ask blankly.

“I mean…you know!” he snaps.

I shake my head, eyes ‘I so don’t know’ wide.  Come on, Danny, say it.  You know you can.  Say it with me.  Blow me, Jack.  Suck me off.

“Oral sex,” Daniel snarls, eyeing me with dislike.

“I’ll see if I can fit you into my busy schedule for the evening,” I offer graciously.  Then I smile at him, give him another shake.  “Let’s have some dinner, and watch the movie, and neck a little.  Cut yourself some slack, Danny.  You want it, you got it.”

“I want to do something for you,” Daniel announces determinedly.

“I’ve been having fun too, you know,” I hasten to assure him, laughing again.  “Dunno how you missed it.”

“But it’s all about ME,” Daniel insists.

“Are you saying we’re in a RUT?  After TWO nights together?” I ask him, wounded.

Daniel shows what he thinks of how we are together when he pulls off his glasses, tosses them down behind him and closes in for another sweet, sensuous kiss.  He slides his tongue into my mouth to curl beneath mine, licks slowly to the tip and glides down deep, moaning into my mouth.  His hands are digging into my shoulders and suddenly he decides he’s not close enough, surging up to straddle me, taking my face between his hands, his fingers trembling against my skin.

What can I say?  I’m an experiential guy.  In my book, you just can’t top active learning.


DANIEL

I give Jack everything I can in this kiss to let him know I’m with him.  Reality bit when his alternate kissed me.  Jack warned me going in this was deadly serious, and for him, for both of us now, it is.  He loves me.  I can see how much in the tenderness in his eyes, the gentle, soothing touches, the passion in this kiss.  I don’t know how I couldn’t see it before.

I don’t know what to do about it now, except give him this, give him what he wants, needs…give him myself, I guess.

Jack feels wonderful, the moist heat of his mouth so eager and welcoming against mine, the weight of his callused hands, clumsy in his haste to push aside my shirt and reach skin, a fine tremor in the fingers spreading over my ribs.  He pulls away from my mouth, dropping his head to trail wet, hungry kisses down my throat and over my chest, reaching up suddenly to shove the shirt back, baring my shoulders.  Jack sits back, stares up at me as he slowly trails his fingers beneath the edge of the soft chambray all the way down to the button.

I flush at the awe in his eyes.

It just got real on me.  The stakes are so much higher than I was prepared for.  I thought this would be the gradual, cautious coming together Jack assures me it is, but he…lying seems harsh.  He got over-protective.  I love Jack, I’m not uncomfortable admitting that.  I’m attracted to him, that much is definite.  Persistent.  Insistent.  Goddamn PUSHY if we’re calling a spade a shovel.  What I don’t know is if I’m in love with Jack the way Jack is in love with me, and the fact I have to think about it suggests not.

Reality BITES.

I’m scared.  I’m so scared I’ll say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, hurt Jack in ways I just don’t see coming.  I can’t…I really can’t think straight.  All I can think to do is go with the flow, to accept the ease and comfort Jack wants so much between us.  I want it too, it’s what I wanted when I jumped on this ride.  All I wanted.  Now…I think if I can be more assertive about making love it might reassure Jack that I’m worth hanging in for.

Looking down at Jack’s face, flushed and sweaty, heavy eyes dark and glittering with the same desire I’ve seen there since our first time, I know he’ll never let me go, melodramatic as that may sound.  This is it, for Jack.  He gave me every chance and I still walked into it, eyes wide open and so out of my depth I may never surface.  I know this aching, burning look, the tightness of his beautiful mouth, the tension wracking his body, so hard and hot and strong against mine.  He wants me, right here and now.

He wants ME, a man who can’t even ask him for oral sex without resorting to CALLING it oral sex.  At least I didn’t embarrass myself totally and ask him to commit fellatio.

Jack has been quietly looking his fill of me for the longest time, his fingers hooked over the button on my shirt, his eyes tracking restlessly over my face, my body.  He’s…he’s soaking me up and I can feel what I do to him, the heat of him swelling against me.  I writhe on his lap and he literally folds up beneath me, knees jerking up as he fights for control, scowling up at me.

Assertive, huh?  I can do this.  I cup his head in my hand and draw him towards my chest.  Jack is the only one to touch me there, to love me this way.  I return the wolfish smile as he flicks his tongue over first one nipple then the other, my turn to gasp and arch as the pleasure sparks and coils low in my gut.  I throw my hands onto his shoulders for balance, moaning helplessly as he suckles with exquisite tenderness, taking each nub between his teeth and biting down just enough I feel him.  I’m shaking as I fumble at Jack’s T-shirt, wrench it up and over his head as he lifts his arms for me.

“We are SO not gonna eat,” Jack whines.

"We are.  Now I've got you all worked up and sweaty, I'm planning to leave you high and dry," I threaten.

"No arguments on the high," Jack sniggers, "but dry?"  He nibbles at my ear lobe.  "You need a refresher?  Physiology 101?"

"A little OJT?" I prompt hopefully.

"I'm always up for training the men under me," Jack leers dreadfully, firmly back in pantomime villain mode.

I reach between us and pat him questioningly.

"Sit Rep?" Jack barks out.

"The level of interest is definitely rising," I report.  "Which means..." I take little bites at his jaw.

"Which means we should skip a class and move right on to Comparative Anatomy," Jack orders.

I kiss him quick and hard then slither off his lap before he can catch me.  "Which means I have to check on the carrots," I taunt as I lope up the stairs towards the kitchen, Jack's inventive curses on all hard-hearted linguists ringing in my ears.  He's trying not to laugh and falling dismally short of the mark.

I bound over to the steamer feeling lighter than air.  I can't even remember when life was so much fun, when being with someone was so exciting and scary, filled with promise and possibility.  Maybe...maybe it never was.  Sha'uri loved to laugh, there were times when just looking at me was enough to set her off but I...it wasn't the same.  I've never been with anyone like Jack, never had a lover who could lift me out of myself so effortlessly, so completely.

I shake my head wryly.  Jack's always done that.  If he doesn't get my full attention he gets all 'ME!' on me.  I never fret about all the work I've left undone when I'm with Jack.  When we're together, he's all I see.  Can't miss him, the way he gets in my face.

The way he gets at my ass!  "Jeez!"

"Special Ops training," Jack observes complacently, one arm snaking around my waist, the other fondly patting his favourite part of my anatomy. "You get classes in sneaking, skulking and loitering with intent."  He pats again, his hand loitering with crystal clear intent.

I lean back, rest my head against his shoulder for a moment, caressing my cheek against him.  Would he die if I said he was sweet?  I hope so.  Gonna save it up for a sappy day.

I have to tussle to get far enough away from Jack to check on my carrots, which involves firmly stamping on his bare toes before he's willing to concede we can't both do this.  I lift the colander free and probe carefully with the tip of a knife.

"Speaking of classes, the US Air Force does a mean lock picking course, which brings me back to the crack you made about me picking your lock.  I can tell you with absolute confidence I've never picked your lock.  And I'm not eating those if they're mushy," Jack nods equably at the carrots.

"They're not mushy, and they're not raw either, so don't start," I warn, carrying the colander over to the sink to shake off the excess water.

"Lock?"

"Hmm?"

"Lock?"

"In my dream," I answer distractedly, eyeing my carrots in dismay.  Crap.  They might be mushy.  Just a tad.  Too busy necking to...

"What dream?" Jack asks.  "The dream Shifu..." His voice tightens.

"No, not that one." Definite mush.  Double crap.  So much for my vaunted skill as a chef.  Can't even cook carrots when it counts.  He's never going to let me forget mushy carrots, not ever.

"I was in your dreams?" Jack asks hopefully.

I bet he microwaves his frozen crap just FINE whereas I and my fancy pants steamer can't...What?  Oh.  Dreams.  Yeah.  "All of them."

Would he buy I intended a puree all along? What are the odds of Jack EATING a seasonal vegetable puree?  Incalculable, I'd imagine.  Just gonna have to suck this up.  Maybe if I sit on his lap and FEED them to him, he might...what am I thinking?  I'm losing it.

"I'm in all your dreams?" Jack's desperately casual voice isn't enough to cover his ferocious interest.  Not…nearly…enough.

All my dreams.

I turn hesitantly to face him, as pale as he's flushed, my mouth working and no sound coming out.

All the times I've been in need.

Always Jack.  Always and only Jack, never…never Sha'uri.  Just Jack.  My friend, more, the man who redefined what friendship was to me.  He was with me when Ammonet was killing me, when Apophis was trying to trick knowledge of the Harsesis from my mind, when I was Carlin and he turned to face me on the gateroom ramp, compelling me to…to follow.  He was there to catch me when I fell in Shifu's dream.  He's always been there.

I stand facing him, still clutching the rapidly cooling carrots.

Jack has always been there.

"I didn't know.  I just…I…" I stammer helplessly.

Jack pales, then flushes brick red, almost stumbling in his haste to get to me, his fierce gladness slamming into me and he's right behind it, almost lifting me off my feet into his exuberant embrace.

His shoulder is right there and I lean gratefully into him.  "I was waiting for something to change.  For something NEW, something I hadn't felt before," I mumble.

"Wasn't gonna happen," Jack assures me shakily, and it's there in his voice too, that incredulous joy, in his voice and his arms and the body locked around mine.

"It was just THERE."

"All the time," Jack agrees.  "It was US.  That's how it was for me too, Danny, believe me."

"I didn't know."

"You loved your wife."

"I loved you," I blurt, shocking us both.  "I never…when I needed…wanted…always you, Jack.  You."

Jack leans back to take a good hard look at me, then his face softens.  He clears his throat self-consciously.  "Er…what you said.”

I'm giddy, literally and figuratively.  I'm in love and Jack is blushing like a rose.  He's gone all shy on me.  I can't take any more.  If he lets go now I'm going to slide right down this cupboard into a puddle of confusion on the floor.  "We're a kitchen sink drama," I bleat.  Literally.  My ass is practically in the sink and I'm still clutching the carrots.


I'm trying to find suitable adjectives for Jack O'Neill's state of mind as he demurely sips his wine, which he swore a few days ago he disliked, savouring his crispy roasts, tender chicken and mushy carrots.

Smug bastard is the one that leaps to mind.

Complacently horny is another.  His toes have been molesting mine since we sat down.  I'm only grateful he's not molesting anything else he can reach.  I'm having a hard enough time choking my food down as it is.

Jack.  Hmm.  Satisfied.  Vindicated.  Purely happy.  Indulgent.  Sweet.

Shy.  I didn't know Jack GOT shy, but he can't tear his eyes from my face and every time I stare back he blushes like a red, red rose.  And the smile...

Jack is GOOFY.  Adorably goofy.

It really is the Twilight Zone.

"I think we died in that cave-in," I say gloomily, half-heartedly pushing my chicken round the plate.

"That's a cheery thought," Jack snorts.

"It's better than being alive and us,” I retort.  “ Two guys meet..."

"Connect," Jack interjects firmly.

"Connect..."

"Get horny."

"Are MILDLY attracted to one another."

"Speak for yourself!  I was horny."

"And pushy."

"And HOT," Jack says smugly.  "You were all cute and sneezy but I was shit hot."

"And full of it.  Cute?"

"Adorable.  And you were full of it too.  I distinctly remember commenting on that to General West."

"Can we stick to the point?" I complain.

"I thought we were.  Let's table ‘hot’ and move on," Jack waves a forkful of chicken encouragingly.

"So basically we're us.  We kind of…um… "

"Fell in love at first sight?" Jack suggests agreeably.

"Oh, did 'we'?" I grumble.  I've said it.  I may grow old and die waiting for Jack to say it back.  He's not THAT goofy.

"What you SAID," Jack mutters, staring determinedly at his plate, his idly fondling toes now caressing over my foot tenderly.

Okay.  As declarations go, it'll do, I suppose.

"We fall in love,” I go on, “Don't realise it, part company, meet up again, whereupon one of us gets REALLY pissy and macho and just HAS to COMPLETELY make a POINT of how WELL he's gotten along without me and..."

"Not naming any names or anything." Jack neatly bites the end off a nicely phallic al dente mini corncob and chews with relish.

"With orders to take me back whether I wanted to go or not."

"I wanted to carry you back through the gate," Jack confesses mischievously.  "Sputtering indignantly every step of the way."  He nibbles an asparagus spear thoughtfully, the general air of mischief spiking alarmingly into outright, outrageous speculation.  "Still an ambition of mine."

"You just sublimated the shit out of your sexuality, didn't you?" I ask witheringly.

Jack winks.

"All that hugging…stroking…petting…"

"Well you were all over me every time I reached out and touched so you were sublimating the shit right outta yours, too," Jack ripostes.  "It was just more blatant in your case because I was the only one who got to make with the hugging, stroking and petting.  It was not subtle."

"It would have helped if you'd hadn't been so...so..."

"'Kind'?" Jack asks dangerously.

"Sweet," I reply innocently.

"Shit." Jack shifts uncomfortably in his seat, scowling at me.

"Oh, that too.  I never said you were perfect," I mutter absently.

Jack chuckles and toasts me with his glass.

"We've been stumbling along completely blind to the fact we don't HAVE an ordinary, everyday guy-type relationship," I suggest.

"You have.  I worked it out WAY back when," Jack points out unkindly.

I glare at him.

"Way, WAY back when," he smirks.  "Back in the mists of time when Dr Empathy and Understanding COMPLETELY failed to even NOTICE I was a HELL of a lot 'kinder' to him than I was to anyone else.  I'm not THAT hail fellow well met I'd put up with all the home truths you've smacked me upside the conscience with over the years, let alone the nagging persistence..."

"I…"  What did he say?  "NAGGING?"  I shake his foot off.

"I wasn't finished," Jack informs me quellingly.  He slips his foot back over mine and pins it.  "It would have been obvious to a five year-old I was CRAZY about you.  Crazy.  Horny.  Desperate."

"See?  We're both losers.  I love you, you love me, we're sleeping together."

"This is bad how, exactly?" Jack wonders.

He's gone all goofy again because I can say the 'L' word and he can't.  If he thinks that let's him off the hook!

"It's not bad," I admit reluctantly, squirming.  "It's…nice."

"You're making with the nice again?" Jack grumbles, looking vaguely insulted.  "Making love with me is 'nice'?"

The Ego has landed.

Making love with Jack is warm and…and wonderful in fact.  As long as he makes an appointment and doesn't try anything fancy.  I can't even say I've been bumped back to sticky adolescent fumbling.  I didn't get any.  I wasn't just unpopular, I was out there in a class of my own.  Even the science geeks were more socially acceptable than I was.  The teachers…they say they want you to ask questions but they LIE.  They want quiet achievers.  A quiet over-achiever who always wants to know WHY is a worse prospect to some than the most disaffected Jackalike in the school.  I didn't take a deep breath until I got to college.

I did get some sticky early twenties fumbling but I was always more interested in my work. Losing my virginity...isn't it one of those axioms, that you never forget your first time?  I know I had a first time, because I sure as hell wasn't a virgin when Sarah hooked up with me, but when I try to recall the big event all I get is an image of being in the stacks at the library.  I can remember the book I was looking for but nothing much else.  Not bad, merely not memorable, unlike my first reading of the Ras Shamra corpus.  I like sex.  I enjoy sex.  Sex is nice.  It just doesn't keep me up at night.

I've thought about very little but sex since Jack made it an option.  Sex is different with Jack, and not because he's a man.  That's too easy, too obvious.  He's right about the connection we share.  Making love is like main-lining that oneness we both feel and can't come close to explaining.  I do know Jack touches me like no one has before him because he's inside of me, he's worked at me and learned me, seen more in me and wanted more of me than I ever thought possible.  I loved Sha'uri, I still do, but when I dreamt I was going through the gate for her and her alone I was lying to all of us.  Sha'uri brought me into the Stargate programme but it's Jack who holds me.  He always has.

"Hey!" Jack bangs his hand on the table, making me and the glasses jump.  "I hope you're not sitting there thinking I am disappointed in ANY way!"

Oh, forget goofy.  Try smouldering.  And no.  No sirree.  Sitting here thinking you are hot.  In every way.  Even mopping up Chablis you are SHIT hot.

I wriggle out from under and let my toes do the talking for a while.  Jack pauses mid mop-up and slowly lifts his head to stare at me.  He licks his lips.  I lick mine.  I caress the top of Jack's foot.  He caresses the arch of mine.

"Daniel, I love you, okay?”

I straighten up and smile shyly at him.  “What you said.”

“I love you, but I really want to watch that movie," Jack confesses, shamefaced.

"Oh, I understand,” I assure him earnestly.  “Declarations of love are one thing, meaning of life stuff, whatever, but ‘Tremors’ is…”

“’Tremors’,” Jack beams.  “Damn, this is EXACTLY why I love you.”

Who says we don’t have a guy-type thing?


 

"Rhonda is a geek goddess," Jack insists.

"I'm not arguing."

"If Carter lightened up she could be like Rhonda.  She has that Le Beck potential," Jack shakes his head sadly.  "She just needs to unlock it."

"That's unfair to Sam," I protest.

"Rhonda looks hot in her boonie too, even with the Sunblock.  Carter's is floppy."

"Jack!  Since when are you interested in how hot Sam looks in a boonie?"

"I'm not.  I’m way more interested in how hot you look in yours, Boonie Boy," Jack chuckles, snuggling me closer.

Jack is…sweet.  Sappy.  Snuggly.  Goofy.  Gloating offensively and getting on my nerves.  Still Twilight Zone, but what with the hugging and stroking toes and all, I'm beginning to think maybe it's a good thing we're not dead, although I may have to kill Jack for conduct unbecoming.

"Do you know what P.C. means?" I complain, getting all of two inches along the couch before Jack snatches me back.

"Personal computer," Jack says absently, focusing intently on Rhonda's shapely thighs as Val renders first aid.

I catch Jack sneaking a speculative look at my thighs.  "Never happen," I tell him sympathetically.

Jack looks gloomy.  "I'd have to beat Carter off with my P-90," he complains.  "She's been hanging out with Fraiser so long she thinks she's the Surgeon General."  Jack’s fingers wander back into my hair, to which he and they seem magnetically attracted.  “Daniel?  Would you do it with Rhonda?”

I look down at our cosily entwined feet, smiling slightly.  I never said I never thought about sex.

“Yeah,” Jack agrees warmly.  “Me too.  Rhonda is hot.”

“She’s cool.”

“She’s cool and hot.”

“Rhonda is a geek goddess.”

“I watch the movie for the action and the witty one liners, of course,” Jack hastens to add.  “Not JUST Rhonda’s thighs.”

“Me too.”  Honest Injun.  I’m sure I can bring at least one to mind.  One.  Um…“’Those scum suckers ate our radials’,” I call triumphantly.

“That’s a classic,” Jack praises.  “’Broke into the wrong goddamned Rec Room, didn’t you?’”

“This is one I’ve thought a lot while I’ve been with SG-1,” I admit.  “’What the hell is going on?  I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?’”  Oh.  Um, given my role on the team is to communicate with alien cultures, maybe I shouldn’t admit that to my team leader.

Jack nods sagely, sighing with satisfaction.  “Ditto.  And this is one I’VE thought a lot while you’ve been with SG-1.  ‘DON’T PUSH ME!  DON’T YOU PUSH ME!’.”

“Do you think it too?  You know?  About the Goa’uld?”

Jack’s grin is pure evil.

“’Snakeoids’,” we say as one.

“Yeah.  'Tremors' is the coolest movie ever made.  They’ve got a line for every occasion and then some.”

“’Thanks for saving my life and stuff’,” I say softly, leaning in for a kiss.

Jack winks and kisses me back, his tongue tangling enthusiastically with mine, both of us keeping one eye on the TV so we can watch Walter getting eaten.  It’s a very dramatic scene; lots of pathos, action, drama, blood and Rhonda in mortal danger.

Jack’s cradling hand slips down my back and sidles onto my behind.

“’Check it out’,” he gloats.  “’I found the ass-end’.”


Jack’s heartbeat is as steady and lulling beneath my cheek as the susurration of rain against my window, his arms heavy across my back as he strokes and pets my hair.

“Sorry,” I offer in a small voice, hugging him closer.

“For?”

“The Disney version of sleeping together,” I admit, embarrassed.

“Jeez, Danny, cut yourself some slack.”  Jack drops a light kiss onto my hair.  “The past few days have been one kick in the butt after another and you rushed in where…” Jack trails off and covers his slip by covering me with a little more quilt.

Angels fear to tread?  “Jack?”

I feel him hunch irritably.

“I thought I knew you inside out, Daniel, but you’ve caught me out royally over this,” Jack admits.  “I thought you weren’t ready for physical intimacy but you kept pushing…Daniel?” he asks politely.

"Mm-hm?" Mmm.  Jack has lovely thighs.  Broad and powerfully muscled.  And toned.  Tone is very important.  Tone gives definition to the aforementioned muscles, allowing enquiring minds – and fingers – to follow long lean lines of…”Oh!” I flinch back, flickering an apologetic look up through my lashes.  “Should I not do that?” I ask nervously.

Jack’s snort of amusement rumbles pleasantly in his chest and against my cheek.  I kiss him, smiling as the soft chest hairs ghost over my lips.

“Do what you like,” Jack indulgently gives permission.  “It feels good.  All of it.  Kissing you, touching you, making love with you, and this, having you close is good.  And you like this, huh?  Better than the sex.”

Jack doesn’t seem to be making a judgement, rather an observation.  Encouraged, I hitch up and prop my chin on my hands, smiling up at him.  Jack closes in at once to kiss me lingeringly, nibbling at my lower lip, drawing it out between his teeth and suckling sensuously.  I shiver and Jack frees my mouth but tightens his arms around me.

“I’m still nervous about the physical side, Jack, I’m sorry,” I apologise with a wince of a smile that has him frowning.  “I really don’t have any experience with men.  I…I like being with you but…”

“But it’s a shock to the system,” he says understandingly.  “How do you feel about having me inside you?  It’s only fair to tell you I do want that, Daniel, very much.”

“Scared shitless,” I admit honestly.  “I can’t IMAGINE…I mean, I do want you, Jack.  I’ve enjoyed our lovemaking, but I’m struggling with it right now.”  Unexpectedly.  Hence the cuddling and the fuzzies.  I was hot to trot and then the moment we tumbled into bed, whammo.  Virgin sacrifice at dawn time.  Again.  Jack has the patience of a saint.   “I was freaked that just being close to you, just looking at you was enough to get me hard,” I confess, embarrassed.

Jack nods and slides his hands under the waistband of my jammies, down onto my ass, kneading my buttocks and sending delicious chills shivering down my spine.

“Welcome to my life,” he says ruefully.  "I'm not going to be anything but honest with you about what I want, and I expect you to do the same for me.  We gotta know where we stand, okay?  Too many complications already.  You and I together like this?  Clear and simple.  Easiest thing there is.  Everywhere else…complicated.  Neither of us are kids, we know what we want and what the consequences could be, and we're both willing to take the risk or we wouldn't have made it to Safeway.  Yes?"

I smile at him and as I'm in the vicinity of his mouth, decide a little tactile reassurance would be welcomed. It is.  With enthusiasm.  Lots.  A few moments later I'm flat on my back with my legs wrapped around Jack's, we're both pleasantly aroused and kissing passionately.  It's not just the firm, strong lips straining and angling against mine, or the pleasurable clash of teeth, or even the stroking and suckling of tongues.  It's the way Jack's hard, heavy capable body is shaking against mine, the trembling fingers tangling in my hair and caressing my face, the quick, panting breaths and that light in his eyes.  Passion is bodies rocking easily together, but this is more; fear and wonder and love.

It's shakes me to my core that I can do THIS for Jack O'Neill, that he could allow himself to be so vulnerable for me.  It tells me clearer than any words the respect he has for me, and I in turn for him.  Always trust between us.  This, kissing like this, being close, it's enough for me and Jack knows it.  He knows I trust him not to push for more, just as he's trusting me to ask for more.

The kisses tumbling over every inch of my face and throat, his soft, slumberous eyes…it's enough.

I gasp as he swells against me.

Jack chokes and buries his head against my shoulder, shaking with laughter.

Okay, he's not PERFECT.

"Danny, it's Rhonda, I swear."


I surface from sleep slowly, deliciously warm and drowsy and moaning helplessly.

"Jaa-ack," I whimper a protest as Jack eagerly greets both the dawn and my navel.  “It’s the middle of the NIGHT.”

"Mmmph-ing," is the friendly response as the maddening swirl of his tongue moves out and down.

“NIGHT.”

I quiver away from the hot, moist swipes tracing the waistband of my jammies.  Jack likes these.  They're grey and they have pinstripes.  He likes all of them.  I think he has a flann..."Ohgod." Jack mouths me through the soft fabric, kissing and licking and..."Ohgodohgod," I yelp as he suckles steadily at my rapidly swelling penis.  The flannel is warm and wet and clinging and I feel Jack's tongue lapping at me.  He's…he's eating me.  Moaning appreciatively.  Fl-flannel fetish.  No…no question… "Ohgodohgodohgod."  M-mouthing my balls now, sucking them into his mouth and holding them, scraping his teeth and the flannel…

"Mmm."

M-me too.

“Way better than a stinky old alarm clock,” Jack mumbles around a mouthful of me.

I'm arching and writhing as he nuzzles, nibbles, licks and sucks luxuriously, the heat of his mouth and my straining, weeping erection soaking through the cloth.  He knows…he has to know how erotic this is.  My heart is pounding in great, sickening thumps as my breath catches over the sullen pangs of pleasure quickening low and heavy; steadying, rippling out in gentle, dizzying waves of heat and tingling sensation.

"Oo-ooh Goo-ood," I groan.

Jack's fingers hook around the waistband and ease the jammies down as I hitch my butt to give him purchase.  My erection juts as Jack's hands squeeze and stroke my ass and he smiles up at me, sphinx-like as he lowers his head to kiss the very tip of my penis.

I cry out and flinch away from him, shocked and shaking.

This is JACK.  MY Jack.  The COLONEL.  Going down on me.

Jack, flickering his tongue over the head, teasing, tormenting, having a…having a…a blast as I whimper and squirm away from the torture.  I cry out again as Jack sucks me slowly into his mouth, as I'm drawn into possessive silken heat, the aggressive probing of his tongue and slick, cool enamel scraping sensually over my skin.

Ca-can't take this.  Too-too much.  I reach up desperately for the headboard and grab onto it, white knuckled as I watch Jack's head moving over my penis.  He swallows me as deep as he's able, sucking steadily, gliding back up to the head to probe with his tongue, drinking up the liquid oozing into his mouth with obvious relish and swallowing me again.  God, no pressure.  If I don't gag or throw up at this point when I'm reciprocating for Jack, I just won't be me.

"Nnngh," I grunt gutturally, deep in my throat.

My whole body is fighting the urge to thrust, it's…HE'S INCREDIBLE, so open and giving, so…so completely MINE.  My thighs are trembling as the rippling pleasure spreads through my whole body, pulsing in time with my pounding heart, flaring behind my eyes as the room spins and my mind turns circles.

"Mmmmmm."

Jack sighs with satisfaction, breaking off to hungrily kiss and lick and nibble every pounding inch of skin, lifting my balls with his lapping tongue, chuckling as I strain away from him.

"Mmmmmm…J-Jack."  I'm rolling my head restlessly from side to side, too giddy and drunk on him to be still.  "P-please.  L-love y-ou.  Pleeeease."  I arch up, crying out as he swallows me again and sucks powerfully, eating me alive, his fingers clamped bruisingly on my ass.  "Oo-ohgoo-oo-oo-d."  Sorry. So…didn't mean…t-too much.  "H-hurt?"  Didn't mean to thrust.

Jack's hand snakes out to clasp mine comfortingly. I clench my fingers through his, hold onto my lifeline as the tremor in my aching thighs tides over my body, driving the breath from my chest and the shuddering cold-heat at my core tightens every muscle to intense, hurting stillness, ecstasy slams, wrenches, erupts…spurts out of me in sharp bursts, spilling into Jack's greedily swallowing mouth as the sobs crowding my throat spill over us both.

Jack catches me as I come, and when I fall, wracked by love and grief, I fall into his waiting arms, trembling and clinging.

I loved my wife, my Sha'uri.

I love Jack more, love him with everything that's in me to give.  I love and I lose.  I lose everyone.  Love is potential, but it's potential for joy and pain in equal measure; it's ecstasy and terror, the giving and sharing of self and the trust we place in another.

I love Jack.  Never letting him go.  Never.  I can live without Sha'uri.  Now.  Because of him.  Can't survive another loss, can't BE…can't BREATHE without Jack.

"Danny?" Jack's insistent, worried call finally gets through to me.

I reach up to cup his face and his hand covers mine, his eyes wide and questioning. "I love you."

I can't be without him, so I'll fight.


To say Jack is surprised when I sidle into the shower with him is an understatement.  His jaw drops right along with the soap.  He left me in a dazed heap in the bed about five minutes ago.  I hate to crush an illusion, but his kind offer to make breakfast did the work of a quart of strong coffee in seconds.  Everything is sliced, chopped, scrambled, squeezed, percolated and ready to go the moment I roll into the kitchen after…well, my motivation for the shower means cleanliness is likely to be incidental.

"Shampoo is a good look for you," I say cheerfully.

Beneath the suds, Jack's anxious look melts to a grin, which is good.  Protective is also good, in moderation.  Weeping fetchingly on the man's chest turns him into Alpha Hen.  Not good by anyone's definition, though I'm bearing in mind the impact tear-spiked lashes apparently have on Jack's libido.  If he ever needs a jump start, five minutes alone with an onion should do the trick.

I glance down.  I…oh…um…jump starts are thus far NOT an issue.  He's um…locked and loaded down there.  It's ridiculously flattering.  Jack might be exclusive, but once you're IN, he's a total horndog.  He's crazy about me and he has NO qualms about…um…sharing his bones.

Jack rinses vigorously and makes room, grinning broadly, arms spread wide to match the gleeful 'come to papa' eyes.

Damn, he's right about spiky lashes.  I think they go better with depthless brown eyes but…WOOF!  As a matter of fact the whole of Jack has a woof factor of ten.  I step up to him, resting my palms against his chest as the steamy water cascades down over us.  I hold his widening eyes as I lean in and lick his lips, the tip of my tongue poised to greet his as we touch and taste delicately.

I'm the one who groans and leans in, my hand firm against the back of his neck, gripping his hair to haul him in close as I feast on him, plunging recklessly into his mouth, driving so deep I clip the back of his throat and my weight slams back him against the tile.

Jack doesn't so much as blink, his hands are scrabbling for purchase on my water-sleek skin, sliding down to cup my ass, kneading at me like I'm…

"A PEACH?" I rear back, sputtering indignantly as the whispered imprecations sink in.

Jack winks unrepentantly as he fondles me.  "Oy," he moans heart-rendingly.  "I gotta tell you, I will DIE if you don't let me make love.  I mean, you want a road test, you want to know how fucking GOOD it can be to be with a guy…"  Jack wriggles his behind meaningfully.

In-inside JACK?  Gawd.  I can't…I never...Gawd.  I WANT.  The blood slams down, I get so hard so fast I feel faint and slump against Jack, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.  I'm panting.  My tongue is hanging out.  In fact my whole body goes WOOF!!!!

Colonel Jack O'Neill blushes to the roots of his hair.  "Really?" he asks shyly.  Then he freezes and scowls at me like it's my fault.

"Woof."

"Woof?"

I nod happily.

"Cool," Jack shrugs it off, gruffly casual.  "Y'know.  Whatever."

Whatever?  Is he KIDDING?  Does he OWN a mirror?  Jack is drop-dead gorgeous and he's mine, mine, all mine, every hard, deliciously muscled, sleekly toned, distractingly hairy, big, bad, goofy inch of him.  ALL mine.  Starting NOW.

Lashes?  Pfffft.  Biceps.  Wow.  Jack's skin is hot and slippery from the shower, but the muscles are rock-hard beneath the satiny surface.

"It's different," I peek up at him shyly.  "With a man."  I can shove him around and not hurt him.  He just laughs and shoves back.  Jack is hard and toned all over, perfectly proportioned in long, lean lines.  His body FLOWS.  He's…he's beautiful.  Why does he think he's fat?  How can a man be THIS and not know it?

I trace the hard planes of his flat stomach, flashing a smile at him as he trembles beneath my hands, so near, so ALIVE.  I skim over his hips and around to swoop up his back to broad shoulders, tracing a finger down each knot of his spine.  Such a strong back.  Down to cup his ass, hard like the rest of him.  Hard and hot and taut.

"You're sure?" I ask him.

Jack nods jerkily, lips tight as he breaths through his nose.  I see the flush of dull colour on his cheeks and realise just how excited he is by my nearness.

"When we're ready, Jack.  Please," I assure him sincerely.

I wish I was ready to give him the pleasure he just gave me for the first time in our bed, but I want this to be special.  I don't want allowances.  I'm confident about how I touch, though it might not be…I still don't know if he likes it hard and fast, he's been so gentle with me.

Jack's knees sag as my hand glides down over his straining penis, which thumps hard against my palm.

"Mmmmmm."

O-kaay, so far so good.  I know what that moan means when I get excited.  I hold him firmly, getting used to the velvety skin and the pulse of blood pounding beneath the surface.  Jack's weight and heat.  Length and…and girth.  He's big and bad all over.

I look up at him.  "I can't imagine how it would be, Jack."  My mind can't make the leap to Jack moving deep inside me.

Jack looks pleasure-drowned but he swallows surprise I try hard not to be embarrassed by and fumbles behind us for the gel.

Oh, boy.  Is he?  Looks like he plans…shit.  I concentrate desperately on tribady.  Onanism.  Mastur…"Oh."  Jack is squeezing gel onto my fingers too.

"Just take it slow and easy, Danny, feel how I relax and do the same."

Jack's finger probes cool and slick between the cheeks of my ass.

I flush furiously and rock forward into him involuntarily.

"Easy," Jack croons.

I take a shaky breath and slip my finger into the same position on his ass, holding his gaze anxiously as I stroke softly over the puckered opening.

Jack nods encouragingly and I ease minutely in.  Too tight, God, MUST be hurting, must…

"More."

Jack bites his lip as I obediently rock in a little further.  He's so…not just tight, but HOT.  Jack nods again and I push in a little further, feel him push down to meet me, he flexes around me and suddenly I'm slipping home.  Jack groans but I know the pleasure sound rumbling low in his throat.  I'm gasping myself.  He's gripping me inside him, every minute muscular contraction shocking against my skin.  Jesus.

I stare at him in awe as he smiles at me.

"Relax, Danny, just relax and trust me, let me in," Jack whispers as he pushes into me, slow and steady.

I grunt, not a pleasure sound.  My muscles are burning around the gradually deepening intrusion, but he asked me to trust him and that is not in question so I push down hard as he pushes up gently, everything gives and he slides sweetly home.

"Ooooh," I moan, quivering as Jack moves inside me, stroking his finger subtly in and out.  I mimic his actions and Jack moans too.

Moving inside him, so tight around me…he's going to blow my mind.  There's nothing like THIS rush, this willing surrender of self, this gift of vulnerability.

And Jack, moving inside me, massaging a spot deep inside that sheets dizzying pleasure through me, oh, that I can imagine.  Now, I can imagine.

We fall into one another naturally, heads resting each on the other's shoulder as the water pounds over us and fingers stroke delicately deep inside, heavy, capable hands cup and caress, grip and glide over avid, heated flesh as we move achingly together, shuddering with the sleek, shared pleasure slowly building.

The loving is easy.  We love and this is easy. The rightness of it sings inside me, heats my blood and quickens my breath as my muscles sting and strain and my mind turns circles...

Jack's mouth is harsh on mine, parting my lips beneath the onslaught.  His tongue plunges into my mouth and I bite down.  Jack cries out and comes, hot slick cream pumping over my hand, stomach, thighs…Jack arches involuntarily, driving his finger hard against the sweet spot he's been massaging, a shock of ecstasy blazes and I come hard against him.

Being together is the best, the truest thing there is.

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

JACK

I stretch out comfortably in my seat, smiling across the briefing table at Daniel.  Mind-blowing, hot, soapy sex, eggs and bacon and freshly squeezed sweetest man on the planet have all been mine this morning and it's not even 08:00.  I'm feeling NOO pain and the mission looks like a cake-walk  One size fits-all Delta IV Recon AKA snoop and poop.  The UAV picked up no signs of habitation, no honkin' space toys, and unfortunately for Daniel, nothing even remotely ruined.  The cupboard is bare.  Even of trees.  We have a vast expanse of lakes, hills, lakes and marshland.  And lakes.  Daniel had to fall back on a single standing stone to get excited over.

I'm smiling.  A lot.  Intense orgasm will do that to a guy.  It will also focus all of his considerable intelligence, energy, skill and resourcefulness on planning the next one so it tops the last one and keeps that sweet, shy smile on his lover's face permanently.

The smile that just got snuffed out.  Shit.  What'd I miss?

"…broken off diplomatic relations," Hammond announces sympathetically.  "Politarch Acteon has expelled all SGC personnel from the planet and declared the Tau’ri xenoi.  Enemies.  We'll have to look elsewhere for the naquadah."

Daniel sags and looks at Hammond apologetically.  We all look at Daniel sympathetically, and Carter pats his arm soothingly.  I approve.  Carter can be quite the human where Daniel is concerned, just so long as she stays the platonic human.

"Perhaps there will be naquadah on 658," Teal'c suggests.  "There appears little else of interest."

Boy, we're getting sniffy about our mission choices.  I want a nice walk in the fresh air with Daniel in his boonie at my side and no one shooting at us.  Is that too much to ask?

“Ah, now that’s overly harsh, Teal’c,” I say disapprovingly.  “What about those bogs Carter is going to be poking around in?”

“Not this mission,” Janet Fraiser announces briskly from the door.  “Major Carter is anaemic.  I regret I can’t authorise her to go off-world.”

“Come in, Doctor,” Hammond urges.

Carter stiffens and glares at Fraiser as she slips into the seat next to Daniel.  “SLIGHT anaemia,” she snaps.

“No,” Fraiser contradicts in that ‘shut up, doctor and listen to your doctor’ voice she gets with Carter and Daniel.  “You HAD slight anaemia.  Now you have anaemia, which could compromise your effectiveness in the field and endanger your team.”

“I feel fine,” Carter protests, looking an appeal at Hammond.

“Doctor?  Colonel?” Hammond asks.

“I won’t clear Major Carter for active duty until I’ve run some more tests and ruled out an underlying cause for the iron deficiency,” Fraiser says coolly.

Hammond turns to me.

Whaddya know?  The boys are back in town!  I turn to Teal’c.  “What about those bogs Daniel is going to be poking around in?”

Both Carter AND Daniel stiffen in their seats and glare at me.

“I’LL be poking around in?” Daniel snaps.  “And what will you be doing?”

“Patrolling,” I say crisply.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agrees smoothly.

“Better bring your waders, then,” Daniel sniffs haughtily and turns pointedly away to console Carter.  Or break up the fight with Fraiser, it’s not certain at this point.

Woo hoo!  Looks like I got make-up sex to plan for.


How does he do that?  How the HELL does he do that?  How come Daniel manages to get that exact, perfect saucy tilt to the brim of his boonie?  The one that makes the roof of my mouth go dry and directly correlates with the stress fractures on my P-90?

Sheesh.

While Daniel verifies we can dial home again , Teal’c and I prowl around staring keenly at squat, ready for anything.  Something.  Anything.

“There is nothing of interest on this planet,” Teal’c says flatly.

Daniel looks up brightly.  “There’s an unusual energy signature…” he calls out cheerfully.

“EM field,” I observe knowledgeably to Teal’c.

“Yes!" Daniel agrees, peering interestedly at the sensor thingy.  "Oh."  He looks up at us, embarrassed.  "Um.  No-o,” he mutters distractedly, smacking the sensor thingy a couple of times.  “Um…bear with me guys, I'm not sure I'm reading this thing right but the machine is picking SOMETHING up and doesn't know what it is.  And, um, neither do I."

I jerk my head at the big guy and we reconvene at the DHD with the linguist safely sandwiched between us.  Slightly alarmed, but safe.  And sandwiched.  It’s not even libido, it’s in my job description.  I love the Air Force and its quaint notion that as an officer and gentleman I’m morally obligated and legally sworn to gallantly protect Daniel from a stiff breeze.  If I can’t drive him insane inside of two weeks, I may as well quit and hand my birds to Carter.  It’s all I’ve got as a fallback position, now I’ve been permanently deprived of a chance to stick my tongue down his throat on the gateroom ramp.

I lean in confidentially.  “Does it or does it not completely SUCK our first Carter-free mission in like, ever, and we get stuck here?  Bogworld?  What is it with that?”

“It is going to rain,” Teal’c observes.

“Tell it,” I agree gloomily.  My knees are throbbing like goddamn bastards.

“I miss Sam,” Daniel says defiantly.

Teal’c and I look at him.

“I do!” he insists.

“Only ‘cause you got poking in your future.”

Daniel sputters, blushes to the brim of his boonie and chokes so hard both Teal’c and I automatically smack him on the back and knock him sprawling over the DHD.  Daniel gasps and rears back, some kind of energy beam slamming into his chest and crawling all over him.  Teal’c leaps to catch Daniel as he falls, the energy pounding through Daniel arcing across to jolt into Teal’c.  I grab Daniel’s hands and try to lever them free of the orange blob in the centre of the DHD, the tongue of energy flickering across my skin.  “Dan-oof!”  The ground rushes up and smacks me in the…


“It was a trap, O’Neill.”

“No shit, Sherlock!” I snarl.

“DanielJackson remains unconscious.  Perhaps you should be more vigorous in your attempts to rouse him,” Teal’c advises.  “He may be able to ascertain more from our situation than we have been able to determine.  We cannot adequately assess an enemy we have not seen.”

I glare at him.  “I’m not gonna smack him one just to wake him up ten seconds sooner,” I snap.  “It’s not like we’re going anywhere.”  I go right on patting Daniel’s face gently.   I thought he was a GONER.  AGAIN.  My nerves can’t fucking take this.  I’m shaking like a tea-clipper in a gale so he’s cradled in my lap and I don’t give a fuck what it looks like.  I’m hugging the shit out of every inch I got hold of.  Every delectable, naked, UNMARKED inch.  Thank CHRIST.  Wherever the fuck we are, we got here naked as the day we were born.

And, apart from being the hokey old kidnapped by aliens thing, I gotta contend with the alien in the next cell.  We’re letting it all hang out and some of us it seems have got more to hang than others.

Penis envy now.  What is this?  Sarcasm?

I glance around sourly.  We’re in some kind of structure that’s completely circular, open all the way up to the roof, maybe three stories in height.  There’s a clear strip in the slick grey wall, high above us, suggesting some kind of control room or observation platform, and a narrow strip of dark metal that rises in steps right around the perimeter from ground level to the height of the platform.

I ran my hand over all the strips I can reach and there is nothing to get purchase on, and no mechanism I can see or feel to activate it from down here.  Anybody or anything comes down, maybe we got a hostage, but it looks like the guys upstairs are calling all the shots.

Teal’c is separated from Daniel and me by a force field that reminds me of saran wrap when you activate it.  If you get Barbie pink saran wrap.  It doesn’t give off any kind of shock or charge, it just seems to be designed to keep us apart.  The energy beam that struck us at the DHD hasn’t left any kind of mark or wound, which suggests it too was designed to stun rather than kill.  Whoever or whatever they are, they want us alive.

Teal’c is right.  It was a trap.  A very clever trap that doesn’t spring until you smack skin off the DHD.  Presumably that’s the point the guys upstairs figure you’re most vulnerable.  They’re right about that.  The scares-me-shitless part is always the gate; insertion or extraction, it’s a point of vulnerability every damn time.

I’ve got no idea how long we’ve been here, but my body clock is like Old Faithful.  Wherever we are, back home it’s dark, and that means we’ve been gone at least twelve hours if this is the first night of captivity.  It’s making my skin crawl that I don’t KNOW.  It’s my job to know.  I HATE not knowing.

My pats have segued into caresses.  Daniel has been out cold for a couple of hours now.  He came round when we did, puked his guts up, and passed out again almost immediately.  I’m worried.  Really worried.  The only time I’ve seen Daniel throw up like that is after anaesthesia and I SO don’t want to let my mind go X-Filey on me.  Got enough on my plate.

I feel fine.  I don’t feel like I’ve been fileted and put back together or anything, so that’s something I suppose.  None of us have visible injuries, Teal’c could Kel’No’Reem okay so Junior is alive and hissing.  We’re good to go once we know where we can go.

I’m glad Carter at least is well off out of this, and I’m ready to do anything it takes to get the rest of us out of it, ASAP.

“Jack?” Daniel asks uncertainly, lifting a wavering hand to his head.

“Hey,” I say softly, “Welcome back to the land of the so-far living.”

Daniel swallows.

“Thirsty?” I ask sympathetically.  “Can do.”

Our digs come with all the modern conveniences.  A long, low slung pallet, vaguely Japanese-looking; the place is set to blood temperature, and we have a water supply and a latrine of sorts.  I’ve already dotted the ‘i’ in O’Neill against the wall.  Hey, they took us.  I see no reason not to live down to our reputation as Tau’ri scum and nudity is only a weakness if you allow it to be.

Daniel nods and fights me off when I try to help him sit, which I take as a good sign, even though I ignore it.  He scowls and spits something in Abydosian when I persist, which I suspect means Tau’ri scum, and I take that to be a better sign.

Daniel makes it upright and abruptly takes in a sight to gladden anyone’s dick, and it’s only a shame he can’t see the ass-end.  He glares at me accusingly.

“I didn’t steal your shorts!” I refute indignantly.  Not that the idea doesn’t…Not off-world, OBVIOUSLY.

“Are you well, DanielJackson?” Teal’c asks gently.

“Better, Teal’c, thank you,” Daniel answers politely as he makes his way unsteadily over to the water jar, which he examines carefully.  It’s just a metal jar, nothing special.  No secrets of the universe or naked wimmin' engraved on it or anything.

Daniel has excellent manners.  One of numerous distressing character flaws.

“I am glad,” Teal’c says simply.

Yeah.  Only lost about ten years of my life in as many seconds myself.

Daniel glances inquisitively at me and when I nod permission drinks a little, splashes a lot, drinks a little more, emerging damp, ruffled, heart-stoppingly sexy and looking like he’s back in his own head, although he clearly wishes he wasn’t in his own body.  At least not in its lovely au naturel state.

“Compos?” I ask Daniel, hoping I’m the only one whose tongue is hanging out.  Teal’c HAS been looking, but he’s bigger than me – unfortunately – so I’m chalking that up to concerned friend not fuck-monster.

“Very definitely mentis,” Daniel agrees crisply.

“So?  Get us out of here.”

“No pressure,” he says absently, peering around interestedly.

“Glasses,” I hold them up, strangely the only piece of equipment or clothing we’ve been left with.

Daniel takes them gratefully.  I’m glad he got to keep them; I know how vulnerable he feels without them.  It’s an added stress he doesn’t need.  The situation is bad enough.  Butt naked hostages of aliens on Planet X.  Jeez.  I’ll never live this one down if the Marines come in.

Daniel walks the perimeter slowly, running his hands over the strips of dark coloured metal, stepping back to follow the gradations up and around to the platform.  “Stairs?” he suggests.

“We have made the same determination,” Teal’c agrees.

Daniel nods thoughtfully, then walks back into the centre of the floor, close to the force field.

“Watch it there,” I call.  “Barbie does a mean line in force fields round these parts.”

“Barbie?” Daniel asks carefully, eyeing me like I’m one bird short of a colonel.

Teal’c reaches out and brushes his fingers over the field, activating it.

Daniel steps back and repeats the experiment, then he turns to me, grinning.

It’s so unexpected I grin back.

“Does that make you Ken?” he asks, eyes sparkling.

Shit.  I feel a sickening flutter in the old ticker.  Yeah, I love you too, kid.

“Okay,” Daniel says briskly, heading back over to the pallet to drop down at my side.  “What do we know and what…”

“Can we make up?” I suggest, grinning.

“Extrapolate.”

“What I said,” I complain.  “We were taken at the DHD, obviously a booby trap designed to take advantage of the extraction point.  Smart psychological move,” I praise grudgingly.

Teal’c nods agreement.  “It is a time when home and safety are within reach and for that reason remains one of the most dangerous moments of any mission.”

What he said.

Daniel pensively nibbles on the pout.

I bite my lip and cross my legs before I give the Big Guy a serious run for his money.

Daniel waves a hand at the walls around us.  “What does this remind you of?”

“It is a prison, DanielJackson,” Teal’c answers gravely.

“Holding cell,” I agree.

“No, that’s too literal,” Daniel disagrees.  “I’ll tell you what it reminds me of.  I’ve been to a zoo…”

A zoo?  As in zoo, singular?  Jeez.  Those foster parents really pushed the boat out for the new kid, huh?  I wince in sympathy.

“Not an experience I’d care to repeat.  I found it…disturbing,” Daniel frowns.  “That isn’t relevant though.  What IS relevant is the elephant house.”

“Elephants are relevant?” I ask carefully.  To alien abduction?

“This might LOOK like a cell, but I think it’s a pen,” Daniel explains seriously, face and eyes grave.  “Look at the facts.  We haven’t been injured in any way and our basic physiological needs have been met.  Shelter, clean water, sanitation, ambient temperature.  Food?”

I shake my head.

Daniel nods thoughtfully.  “Doesn’t that suggest to you that we’re being studied?”

“I do not follow your logic, DanielJackson.  We were taken prisoner on B2Y-685 and transported to this place,” Teal’c points out.

“No,” Daniel disagrees.  “Look, let’s take this one step at a time.  The elephant pen.”

“I like elephants.”

Daniel glances my way and instead of scowling, he smiles for just a moment.  “Me too,” he agrees softly.

“They are noble beasts,” Teal’c says solemnly.

“Okay, that’s progress.  We’ve established we all like elephants,” I report.

Daniel shakes his head, but his eyes are still soft.  “When I was at the zoo, they had a new elephant.  They kept it in the elephant house, separated from the others.  It was the only facility they had to contain it, but it wasn’t ideal for…”

I wag my finger at him.  I get it.  “Quarantine.  You were anaesthetised.  You only throw up when you have that crap sloshing round your system.”

“Exactly,” Daniel smiles gratefully at me.  “Whoever…”

“Or whatever…” I interject sinisterly.

“Took us, they don’t know enough about us as a species so they’re learning.  Observing,” Daniel glances meaningfully up at the platform.  “That looks like a hide to me.  They’ve obviously done some preliminary tests, deduced that we are haemodynamic – able to maintain our body temperature – and set the ambient temperature in here accordingly.  They’ve determined that as our bodies are mostly made of water, we require it to sustain life.  The absence of food suggests they’re likely analysing our stomach contents to make determinations about proper diet.”

“Quite the humans,” I snipe.

“Oh, I didn’t say that,” Daniel says coolly.  “Altruism plays no part.  If this is a zoo, and we’re specimens, we’re not going anywhere.  Zoos make money from visitors but the animals are studied and data is collected on them as species until they die, and even then…”

I throw up a hand.  I haven’t eaten and I feel queasy.

“Plus, the trap was very sophisticated, technologically advanced and triggered in some way by the DHD activation, so whoever they are, they’re hunting sentient species.  That argues an assumption of superiority on their part, that to them we are in the lower order of species and our rights to free will and self-determination are not recognised, or are recognised and disregarded for the ‘greater good’, the contribution we would make to the body of evidence,” Daniel argues.

I shrug in a ‘go on’ kind of way.

Daniel gestures at Teal’c.  “The segregation of Teal’c suggests identification of Jaffa as a sub-species of homo sapiens, which again reflects the way animals in a zoo are categorised and caged.”

He pauses, chewing thoughtfully – and still very distractingly – on his lower lip.  “Have the lights dimmed at all?”

“Nope.”  I feel light-headed but I can go without food a lot longer than any of us can go without water.  It doesn’t help other than to narrow the time span for our captivity down to a few days at most.

Daniel nods.  “Being knocked unconscious, then being anaesthetised hasn’t given them enough data to determine our circadian rhythm.  I suspect when we fall asleep naturally, the lights will dim, and the pattern will be repeated.  And my glasses?  The only piece of equipment we brought with us we’ve been allowed to keep, and the one which was designed to correct an identifiable physiological flaw.  In other words, my glasses have been judged as a necessity to my continued health and well-being, or I wouldn’t have them.”

“Well, don’t get too attached to them.  They’re the only tool-cum-weapon we’ve got right now,” I confess, slightly embarrassed.  If I’d been able to get any kind of purchase on those stair thingies, or we’d had company, I’d have had the arms off them by now and possibly off the company too.

Daniel has this irresistibly cute ‘EWWW’ moment when his face scrunches as he tries to look at his own glasses and see the mind of Jack O’Neill.  He works it out and cringes, his toes literally curling.

Yeah.  Me too.  What can I say?

“Think they’re gonna release us into the wild or is this an alien petting zoo?”  I ask.

“I don’t know, but I’m quite annoyed I didn’t get a chance to investigate the monolith before…”

“We were tagged and bagged as Tau’ri takeout?”

A beam of dazzling white light abruptly strikes down from the roof to pool on the floor about ten feet from us, sending us scrabbling back to safety, and when I check, I see a second beam on Teal’c’s side of the Barbie divide.  The beam deactivates and when my retinas have recovered, I find a couple of bowls of what turns out to be gloop when I investigate.  Would they poison us after going to all the trouble of keeping us alive for sinister X-Filey reasons?

“Teal’c?”

“I have suffered no ill-effects from ingestion thus far, O’Neill.”

It might be slow acting poison, but they coulda killed us a dozen times over.  Ah, what the hell.  I’m starved and we need to keep up our strength if we’re going to rampage around hurting people first chance we get.

“If you die, get back to me, big guy,” I say cheerfully.

I carefully sniff the contents of my bowl and lick cautiously.  Flavourless gloop.  Obviously the facility hired the guy who did the cheffing for Hadante.  “It just screams ‘fulfils nutritional requirements’ doesn’t it?” I ask rhetorically.

Daniel sucks some tentatively from his fingers and looks equally unenthusiastic.  “I’d kill for some of that macaroni and cheese the Air Force dishes out.”

I shoot him a horrified look.  The gloop isn’t THAT bad.

“They say every civilisation is but three meals from barbarism,” Teal’c announces out of the blue.

‘They’ do, but we didn’t know Teal’c knew who ‘they’ were.

I grin at Daniel.  “Eat up.  You’re starting to look good.”

“You are starting to look good, O’Neill,” Teal’c corrects.

“Excuse me?” I scowl at him.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I think Teal’c is suggesting that as both of you are soldiers, one of you is expendable, and as he has all the advantages of the symbiote, it isn’t him,” Daniel says sweetly.

“Say edible when you mean edible,” I scowl at Daniel in turn.  His eyes are narrowed with sly humour.  “How come he isn’t edible?” I challenge Teal’c, jerking my thumb irritably at Plinth Boy.

“DanielJackson possesses unique skills and knowledge and has far more experience of surviving inhospitable climates than you or I, O’Neill, for we have never been far from our support vessels.”

“Supply lines,” I correct absently.  I think I’m being insulted here.

“I have observed DanielJackson to be most intelligent and resourceful, he is younger and his physical condition is…”

“Careful!” I snarl.  If we’re talking only one of us getting to make like Charlton Heston, here, I can guarantee Teal’c will make good eatin’ and I’ll be wearing Junior-skin shoes before the winter is out.  Teal’c.  My teammate.  Comrade in arms.  Brother.  I look up from my gloop and survey my kids gloomily.  “Jeez, I hope these guys aren’t telepathic.  They’ll be getting a mind-full right about now.”

Daniel blushes rosily and avoids my eye.  Avoids every part of me in fact.  I perk right up, smirking at him complacently.  Cool.  He might have a kick-ass mind but his dick is in the gutter just like mine.

Daniel eats some of his gloop then looks up at me and smiles.  “I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the restraint.”

I shrug deprecatingly.

“I know it’s practically killing you not to make…’simian’…references,” Daniel murmurs admiringly.

I sniff haughtily.  “Too EASY.”  I got SOME standards.  “Although, if we actually SEE the Statue of Liberty out there all bets are offffff…”


“The nutritional supplement was drugged, O’Neill.”

I’ve done the Sherlock thing once already, right?  Sheesh.  Starting to blur here.

“Wake him up, willya?” I snarl.  Bad enough we wake up on Planet XX dressed like THIS, but I don’t have to sit here and take Teal’c cradling and fondling my soundly sleeping love.

“Do you wish me to smack DanielJackson one so we may awaken him ten seconds sooner, O’Neill?” Teal’c queries mildly.

When you put it like that, it does sound somewhat…harsh.  “Yes.”

“Thanks,” Daniel naturally returns to consciousness in time to hear that, eyes barely open and he’s already biting my head off.

I sag with relief.

“Trees,” Daniel comments intelligently.  “Cold.”

Hence the FONDLING while I’ve been making like the proverbial chopper.  “I’ve got fuel but it takes more to make a fire than rubbing two dicks together,” I say defensively.

Daniel’s tentative venture towards gaining the full upright position falters as he snorts explosively and gapes at me, very pink around the edges.

“What?” I ask suspiciously.

“N-n-nothing,” Daniel stutters.

“The temperature is falling with the sun, O’Neill, and we are not adequately clothed to withstand the cold,” Teal’c points out, finally – and somewhat reluctantly - removing his supporting arm from around Daniel’s shaking shoulders.

“Or the rain.  Or the FOG,” I bitch.  “Not bad enough we got…”

“Scullied,” Teal’c interjects.

Daniel and I both look at him in surprised admiration.  Shit.  He’s right.  We’re ‘abductees’!  This day just keeps getting better and better.  Day.  Week.  We got Scullied.  Could be six and a half months we’ve been missing.  Who the hell knows?  This SUCKS.  Smug alien bastards must have KNOWN I had a date!  A BIG date.  The kind it takes a week to get DRESSED for.  I like Billy Joel.  Some of his songs remind me of…they make me think about…sappy, I know.  I happen to love the geek and think about him all the time.  Nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with wondering if he loves Billy Joel, or rally driving or eats oatmeal instead of apples for breakfast like I told him, or if he likes toast oozing butter.  Nothing.  The Café had a good singer, back by popular demand.  That’s what they said.   When I called them.  Just, y’know, checking.  Prudent, not panicking.  Special Ops, here.  Don’t DO the panicking thing.  Just like to check.   Like to KNOW.  Smug tentacled alien bastards sure as hell KNEW.  Probably read my mind and Scullied us for six and a half months ON PURPOSE.  No other frickin’ explanation.  We’ll have missed the Christmas reservations window too.  Bastards.

“That means one of us will get sick,” Daniel says gloomily as he hitches around to sit cosily next to me.  I can’t help the smug look I toss in Teal’c’s direction.

“Well none of us better wake up knocked up,” I grumble.  Dressed like THIS I wouldn’t bet the farm.  Not only were we tossed out with the trash, we were tossed out looking like a trio of theme hookers.  “Nobody better ask me for the lamp.”  Or the Forty Thieves.

Bemused, Daniel stretches out a long silk-clad leg and strokes curious fingers over the cloth.  “I guess they disposed of our uniforms as part of the quarantine process.”  He looks up abruptly.  “GDOs?”

I shake my head.  “The gate is about a hundred yards over yonder,” I jerk my thumb back over my shoulder.  “Behind a force field we apparently exited at high speed, and can’t get back into.  Right round the gate and the DHD.  All we’ve got left we started with is your glasses.”

“Damn,” Daniel winces.  “That’s bad.”

“You’re telling me.  We’re lost in space and my NAVEL is showing.  The glasses were helpful though.  I used them to start the fire before it started to rain.”  See?  Prudent AND practical.

“We’re only lost until we work out a way to shut down that force field.” Daniel glances vaguely round the dense foliage of this tiny clearing Teal’c and I forced our way into.  “Sure we’ve left the other planet?  Whichever planet that…this is confusing,” he understates admirably.

“I regained consciousness as I exited the wormhole, DanielJackson.  It appears my symbiote was more resistant to the anaesthetic the aliens used to drug us than you or O’Neill,” Teal’c informs Daniel.

I glance at him sourly.  Which is how he got custody of my linguist and got to be the one soothing Daniel’s fevered brow.  I’m really pissed Daniel didn’t throw up over him.  Would’ve served the smug bastard right.

“We’ve scouted the immediate vicinity,” I bring Daniel up to speed.  More of a limp than a sprint.  “It’s pretty densely forested but there’s a well-worn path up to the gate.  Definitely people around but we’re laying low until we know what we’re facing.  And if you say you miss Carter, I’m going to hurt you.”

Daniel’s mildly reproving eyes have no effect on me whatsoever.

“Isn’t there a mechanism to control the force field?” Daniel asks reasonably.

“Yes,” I answer crisply.  “And it’s sitting in the middle of a force field of its very own.”

“Oh.”  Daniel shivers convulsively.

It’s not exactly balmy, and what with the Arabian Knights look and the way the temperature is dropping, we may not last the night.  If the foliage above wasn’t blocking out most of the rain, I doubt the fire would last the night either.  If the rain isn’t coming in, I doubt the light of a small fire would get out, and we did have to force our way into this tiny gap in the trees.  No one could sneak up on us.  The path looked overgrown, the weather is for shit, and this is a dank, dismal forest on a good day.  The fire is a calculated risk.

“Have you considered if we’ve been returned to our ‘natural habitat’ it might be Teal’c’s natural habitat?” Daniel asks.

“Oh, yes,” I say bitterly.  Combat.  Dressed like THIS?  Oh, joy.

“It is possible the aliens saw you as a sub-species of Jaffa,” Teal’c observes mildly.

I glare as he makes like the sphinx.  “Sub-species?”

Daniel mutters something like the ego has landed, voce not quite sotto enough.  I glare at him too.  Just for that, when we get to snuggling to stay warm, his ass can be on the outside.  Teal’c can snuggle himself.  He exited the wormhole wearing more than we are.  He gets Junior AND sleeves.

“If this is a Goa’uld planet, it’s going to make it tricky to look around,” Daniel sighs.

“No shit, Sherlock.” I complain, ostentatiously patting the spots where pockets should be.  This is a potentially lethal survival situation and guess what?  Whoops!  Whaddya know?  We got SQUAT.  We need EVERYTHING.  And I know I’ve just used that Sherlock line on Teal’c, but dammit, it’s a GOOD line.  Expressive.  Annoying.  “Those glasses don’t come with anything that works on alien frigging force fields.”  And that includes hurling them violently at one.  “Not that it matters without GDOs.  Even if we get through the force field we can’t get through the iris without an invite.”

Daniel nods briskly.  “I know where we’re going, Jack.”

You do?  Typical.  My memory for those addresses is for SHIT.

“The Bioscience Research Station on 959,” Daniel mutters absently, “They have a GDO.”

The MARINES?  Dressed like THIS?  I’m SLINKY here!  Did I MENTION the navel?  “First order of business is jumping the first three tall guys we find,” I order emphatically.  The grey-green silk stuff CLINGS, especially damp.  It WHISPERS when you walk.  It yells ‘SLUT’ whether you walk or not.  NAKED was less embarrassing.  Daniel looks at me questioningly.  “Who can tell us where we are,” I explain unconvincingly.  The Marines?  Sheesh.  If I had a gun I’d shoot Teal’c right now.  He’s got SLEEVES.  “The research station on P3R-959?” I ask casually, like I know what I’m talking about.

“P2X,” Daniel corrects absently.  “Tall?” he asks blankly.

No point killing some short guy for his clothes, is there?  And his boots.  I’m six-two, trained to kill, barefoot, practically bare-assed and SLINKY.  That is ALL the motivation I need.  People are gonna die over this.  Especially TALL people.

“I know where we’re going but I have to get through that force field in order to get us there,” Daniel muses, shaking off my eminently reasonable suggestions like blood suckin’ fleas off a mangy dog.  “There must be SOME way…”

I’m in no immediate hurry.  Take your time.  No pressure.  AFTER the tall fall guys.  “Daniel, I can’t take one of Carter’s sciencey things vicariously right now.  Can we table this discussion until you’ve at least seen the damn thing?”

He nods reluctantly.

And we’re taking Daniel’s outfit home with us.  As in HOME with us.  His navel is a thing of beauty and a joy to behold and I’m pretty sure I can sweet talk a P-90 off the mountain, which is about what it will take to lace him back into this bodicey thing.

I catch Daniel’s sour expression as he fingers the fabric.  On second thoughts, maybe a rocket launcher.

“Teal’c?” Daniel asks abruptly.

“DanielJackson?”

Daniel tugs at his pants and glances up, biting his lip.

I’m cold.  Did I mention being cold?  I need to get warm.  This may involve vigorous rubbing.  Any time now.

“Is it my imagination…” Daniel begins pensively.

“No,” Teal’c says flatly.

“What?” I ask.

They both look at me.

“What?”

They continue to look at me, then they look at each other.  Daniel pulls a face.  Teal’c raises an eyebrow.

“What’s your imagination? Or rather, not your imagination?” I demand.

“I’m just suggesting to Teal’c that there is a particular strata of Goa’uld society we could pass for,” Daniel advises me with extreme caution.

“Hookers?”

“Ro’tak,” Daniel corrects uncommunicatively.

“A class of Tau’ri slaves who enjoy the protection of their Goa’uld masters,” Teal’c explains smoothly.  “And of those trusted Jaffa who have risen to a position of power.”

“Masters?”  I look daggers at Tweedle Teal’c and Tweedle Trying To Act Like He’s Not Even On The Same Damn Planet.

“The Ro’tak are temple handm-um…” Tweedle Trying To Act Like He’s Not Even On The Same Damn Planet fiddles with his glasses and glances appealingly at the other half of the Dynamic Duo.

“Body servants,” Teal’c supplies calmly.

I glare suspiciously at the eyebrows.  I’m not sure about Teal’c’s poker face, but Daniel looks like he has a poker up his ass.  “As in fetch and carry?” I ask cautiously.

“Something like that,” Daniel agrees, flashing a swift smile at me.

I smile back involuntarily, relaxing.  “Three little maids, huh?” I tease.

“Two little maids and one Jaffa master,” Teal’c corrects.

Smug bastard.  “Master?”

“It’s a euphemism,” Daniel interjects hurriedly.

“For?” I snap.

“Master.”

“Yes.  Thank you, Teal’c,” Daniel says witheringly.  “VERY helpful.”

“Shouldn’t that be thank you, MASTER Teal’c?” I ask snidely.

“Indeed.”


DANIEL

“Warm enough?” Jack fusses, tightening his arms around me.

I tighten mine around him.  I wholeheartedly approve of any by-the-book survival strategy that necessitates Jack and I cuddling, clinging and holding hands like this.  I smile at him and lay my head on his shoulder, which makes him light up for a moment.  I wonder…if it gets any colder can he order me to have sex with him for my own safety?

I add another branch to the fire we’re coaxing along, then snuggle thankfully back against Jack.  Watches are academic.  Tag, we’re it.  It’s so cold we can’t sleep and Teal’c has put himself into a state of deep Kel’No’Reem so at least one of us will be up with the larks fully functional.

“I can see my mission report now,” Jack murmurs jokily.  “Abducted by unknown aliens to an unknown location for an unknown purpose, subjected to unknown tests, rejected for an unknown reason and returned to another unknown location.  Had a drink of water, peed up a wall, ate some gloop.  Date and time: unknown.  We really kick ass in these first contact situations,” he says ruefully.

“Talking about contact situations?” I whisper into his ear.  I hope we haven’t been away too long.  I have plans for Saturday night.  Jack’s favourite author has a new book out; I got it signed for him and everything.  I was going to give it to him at dinner on Saturday night, then take him down town.  The New Vic Theatre Company is touring with a production of ‘Guards Guards’, Jack’s favourite book of them all.  It was such a coincidence to find a production based on the work of a cult author…it was just PERFECT.  I’ve had it arranged for a couple of weeks now, since I got the book from a friend of a friend of a fr…from the UK.

It would have been great to go with Jack as friends, but to go on an actual date? Jack would have been excited.  Will be.  Would…this is confusing.  I really want to see Jack excited.  And happy.  He loves presents, and he gets to enjoy himself watching the play and critiquing the characterisation afterwards.  We could have had supper at my place.  A candlelit supper and lingering lovemaking.  I bet we don’t make it back in time.  I bet we missed it already.  Just because it was something NICE and we’re US.  Being us, we get to save the world on a regular basis but we don’t get NICE.

Jack risks a quick leer and we both cling slightly closer.

“If it gets any colder can we have sex to warm up?” I ask pathetically, making with the lashes, not so much tear-spiked as frosted.

“Direct order.  Court martialable offence if you refuse,” Jack agrees emphatically, gaze riveted to mine.

I think Jack is cold.  He’s quivering.  His thighs strike me as being particularly cold and quivery and in need of my immediate attention.  I rub them gently and Jack fondly pats my mikta.

“This whole experience has been bizarre,” I complain, happily exploring tone and definition with Jack’s enthusiastic co-operation.  “I’m always going to wonder WHY.”

“Who, what and where make my list,” Jack agrees.  “It really pisses me off they just threw us back.  They learned all they needed to know about humanity in a day and wrote off the entire species.  In a day.  I think,” he adds self-consciously.  “Could be six and a half…” Jack trails off, looking embarrassed.  “Bad enough we got Scullied, but based on the evidence of one arthritic colonel and one myopic linguist, humanity has been judged to have no potential whatsodamnever, even for inclusion in a stinky monster petting zoo.”

“Petting zoo?” I ask carefully.

Jack glances eloquently down at our shivering, barely clad bodies.  Jack looks absolutely magnificent and it’s fortunate the cold is making it impossible to address certain persistent physiological requirements, otherwise I’d be dragging him out back of the nearest tree right about now.  I can’t seem to drag my mind out of the shower and the feel of his finger stroking so sensuously, so tenderly inside me, or the need to be moving inside him, and his hands on my thighs right now aren’t helping.

I’m also not going to be telling him any time soon that Ro’tak are exactly what he thinks they are.  We’ll be okay so long as he doesn’t KNOW he’s right.  As long as he thinks he’s right and we’re lying to him he’ll be bearable.  The instant he KNOWS…so long Seattle.  Or wherever the hell we are.

“Silk isn’t you,” Jack breathes into my ear.  “The fuzzies…that’s you.”

Flannel?  Jack thinks of me and gets…flannel.  Is that good?

“Warm,” Jack murmurs encouragingly, glancing warily at Teal’c.

“No, sorry, my ass is numb,” I say contritely.  I know he’s trying but…

“Touchable.”

Oh?  Oh!  That’s good.  That’s great, in fact.  I smile at him.

“Real, you know?” he shifts uncomfortably.

That’s nice.  Really nice.  I know what Jack means, and I feel the same for him.  The sharing of jammies is…intimate.  That’s what we are.  Intimate.  Making love is a just a part of it.  A huge, wonderful VITAL part, but stuff like Safeway and mushy carrots are important too.  “Ditto.”

I glance warily at Teal’c too.  No knowing how deep he is in his trance, so maybe we should resume our regularly scheduled hypothermia.  “Petting zoo?” I return to my original point, a habit of mine that drives Jack CRAZY.  He throws those tangents at me for a reason and he HATES it doesn’t work.

“If they were planning to release us into the wild in some game park dressed like this, let’s just say I’d really hate to see the game they had in mind,” Jack grimaces.

“Oh.”

“More like a Disney attraction,” Jack says bitterly.  “We even wound up with the Genie of the Lamp.”  He looks sourly at Teal’c.

”It’s like grooming an animal,” I offer uncomfortably.  “They dressed us this way to show off our…”

“Asses?”

“Assets.”  The clothing seems to have been designed to draw the eye, and it does rather follow one’s physique.  Closely.  I don’t think it’s more embarrassing than waking up naked, but it runs a microscopically close second.

Jack snorts and glares again across the fire at Sleeping Beauty, whose flowing long-sleeved tunic is obviously preying on Jack’s navel.

Fair’s fair.  Jack’s navel is preying on the portion of my anatomy currently giving houseroom to most of my mind, hollering seductively just how much HOTTER we would be if we snuck out back of this tree and…Mmmmmm.  Um…”What gets me is they didn’t even try to communicate with us, Jack,” I say hurriedly.  “I didn’t even get a chance.  I came to, looked around, barely made an initial determination on our situation, then they drugged us and…”

“Tossed us out the wormhole.  Couldn’t even be bothered to send us back where we came from,” Jack gripes, waggling his knee hopefully.

“Arthritic?” I stare at Jack’s knees and swallow hard.

Jack does his best to look elderly, infirm and in need of immediate rubbing.  He succeeds fairly well only on the count of looking libidinous so I rush to his assistance.  Jack’s thighs and ass might be the promised land, but I’m drawn to his knees too.  And his calves.  They’re hairy.  His chest too.  Pretty much everywhere on Jack is hairy.  The fabric is so thin I can feel the hairs on Jack’s legs when I smooth the pants against his skin.  I feel giddy whenever I think about the hair on Jack’s body; it’s so intensely and unexpectedly erotic.  The thrill I get from this reminds me of unwrapping a gift at Christmas one time from my foster father Frank.  I thought would be a sports annual or something and found it was an illustrated  National Geographic special on the Anasazi.  I’d have been happy with the thought and the giver anyway, but getting more than I ever expected – knowing he’d actually paid attention just gave it that extra…Mmmmmm.

I am trying to keep Jack’s circulation going.  Really.  And not just keep it going to his penis which is where most of it is winding up from the looks of things down there.  Jack is looking distinctly glazed in an ‘out back of the tree, NOW!’ kind of way.  I don’t know which scenario he’s picturing, but the smile on his faces suggests it’s a good one.

It’s been hard on me too.  Having made the jump from fun with my own right hand to everything Jack has had to throw at me in the space of a few nights of careful experimentation, my sex life is now full of dizzying possibilities.  Like Jack’s impossibly long, toned legs wrapped round my back as I…Mmmmmm.

There’s just so MUCH Jack and I can do, and it’s messy, sticky, profoundly satisfying and FUN.  Once I relax into it, anyway.  I’m getting better.  The shower this morning?  Yesterday morn…um…what we shared in the shower, my reaching out to him, that made Jack very, very happy.  Jack reaching right back made my day too.

I guess what we need is time together, just to get used to having one another this way, sharing this level of intimacy.  I haven’t lost my friend, but I am supra-aware of his physicality.  Jack too.  I wonder if he would have gotten aroused if I’d had occasion to be this close to him before?  All those missions we’ve shared a tent, all the times we’ve been in the shower or changing in the locker room, Jack has never made me feel uncomfortable.  In truth, I’m a little intimidated by his control.

I’ve been in love with Jack for a day – or two or – a short while, anyway – or years if you look at it that way, not that I…Basically, I want to smack Teal’c every time he so much as glances Jack’s way.  I’m aware of my own propensity for being protective, it certainly contributed to the distance I put between Sarah and I when my career started going south, but possessive is a new one.  Um…insanely possessive.

I hope I’m not going to turn into one of these people who times their lover’s grocery run and wants photographic evidence for every minute’s discrepancy.  Even if I am slightly possessive, that’s…that’s a GOOD thing.  Jack will be delighted when I faithfully accompany him to every game in every stadium that offers sticks, balls or pucks.  Greater love hath no linguist, etcetera.  I’ll be earning serious brownie points.

And if he wants to wear his…hat…who am I to argue if it makes him happy?  I’m sure Jack will feel that the absence of commentary on the…hat…will only add to his enjoyment of being at games.  Downtown.  Outdoors.  Wherever.  And for the summer months, we have the Fishing Hat.  Jack likes hats.  He can wear that one too.  I really WON’T mind.

He can forget about those shorts though.  His legs are my business and everyone else can mind theirs.

“This is going to drive me NUTS,” Jack complains.

I reach reflexively for my…um…HIS thighs.  “Me too,” I sigh.

“Rejects.”

I clutch Jack protectively close.  No, not in the LEAST.  Practically perfect, hence the shorts ban for the sake of my sadly slipping sanity.  Touchable?  Abso-friggin-lutely.  “What?”

Jack looks at me oddly.  “What?”

“Oh.”

“You will both require much instruction if you are to succeed in this subterfuge,” Teal’c announces quellingly as he slowly opens his eyes to glare at us.  “I know of no Ro’tak who speak so freely or at such length and volume as you.  Or indeed at all in the presence of their lord.  Your wilfulness will reflect badly upon the Jaffa Master who permits such licence.”

“Forgive us, O Great One,” Jack pleads, eyes glittering feral in the flickering firelight.

“We are brothers, O’Neill.  DanielJackson,” Teal’c inclines his head to me, softening considerably when I smile at him hesitantly, embarrassed as always by unexpected compliments, which based on my experience so far is all of them.

“Stop sucking up,” Jack hisses, surreptitiously elbowing me viciously in the ribs.

“I am your brother and now it seems I must be your father,” Teal’c says sternly.

“Don’t you Kree me!” Jack warns, outraged.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, Teal’c?” I ask.

“Yes!” Jack pounces.  “Who says you’ll be going along?  I can’t remember the last time we MET a Jaffa who didn’t take one look at your mug and start hollering ‘Shol’va’ at the top of his lungs.”  Jack hesitates fractionally.  “For however many seconds he had left to live,” he adds conscientiously.

“If this world were the domain of a System Lord the gate would not have been left unguarded.  The battle rages as we speak to take what was once held by Cronus and Apophis.”

“Teal’c may be right,” I say slowly.  “If we’ve been here since before sunset?” I look to Jack.  He nods tightly.  I’m embarrassed.  I don’t normally faint.  It’s ONLY anaesthetic that does this to me.  And drink of course, but that’s self-inflicted.  Most of the time.  “Did the priests come to the gate for the evening ritual?” I ask Teal’c intently.

“They did not,” Teal’c confirms.

“If the aliens sent us here thinking it was a suitable environment for Teal’c and that physiologically Jack and I are similar enough not to be adversely affected, it’s possible this was once a Jaffa settlement, the domain of a System Lord, but the planet could have been abandoned as unviable given the state of the current conflict.”

Jack shrugs.  “Makes sense.  You can’t string out your supply lines.  The army that doesn’t eat, dies.  If the Snakeoids are throwing everything they’ve got at each other, they’ll need support on the ground to feed the army.”  Jack glances at me.  “And I do mean the army, not the population,” he tells me grimly.  “If there’s some kind of outpost here, we can expect the situation to be pretty tense.”

We need weapons and I have an idea how we can get them.  I look to Teal’c.  “Is gender a barrier?” I ask intently.

Teal’c looks gravely from me to Jack and back again, then bows his head.  “For one such as you, no,” he admits respectfully.

I flush and look away, just in time to catch the killing look Jack directs at Teal’c.

“Nor for O’Neill,” Teal’c’s brow quirks maddeningly.

I grin at him, avoiding Jack’s glare.

“WHAT!” Jack seethes, having a ‘ME!!!!’ moment.

Do I tell him that Teal’c thinks we’re both hot?  No-o.  I don’t think so.  Not on my best day would I try to get Jack to swallow that.  Or my plan, which is to shake my silk-clad tush, lure out some desperate, horny Jaffa and bop him instead of boffing him.  It could work.  At least it could just so long as Jack doesn’t have the FAINTEST idea what I have in…

“Ro’tak?  Try hookers!” Jack accuses us indignantly.  Then he shoots me a look marginally less friendly than the look he just shot Teal’c.  “If anyone is going to be the Happy Hooker round here, it’s going to be ME,” he orders cuttingly.  “We need to be sure we jump our selected dumb fuck before he does.”

“Thanks!” I bridle.  “Why don’t I find a nice tree to climb or a rock to hide behind or…or go KNIT something ‘til it’s all over?”

“I think that’s a GRE…” Jack grates.

“I would recommend embroidery.  It is most soothing,” Teal’c suggests unexpectedly.

Jack strives in vain for a response.

“With a…a hoop?” I ask cautiously.  I can weave; I mean, who can’t?  But embroidery? “How soothing?”  It has to be better than the Valium Jack looks badly in need of, if he’s worried about my skinny behind.   Tone and definition.  The man is BLIND.  HOT and blind.  HOT…”What?”

“With diligent practice one may attain a state of calm not unlike that experienced in Kel’No’Reem,” Teal’c explains blandly.

Jack takes a deep, calming breath.  “I’ll teach you to play hockey,” he tells me flatly.  “That might calm ME down.”

“I don’t know,” I say doubtfully.  “Don’t rule it out TOO quickly.  I think Teal’c might be on to something.  Simple repetitive actions could have a hypnotic effect.  I can see how that would be…”

“You mean ME?” Jack interrupts incredulously.  He looks at Teal’c.  “You BOTH mean me?  I ASK you, do I LOOK like the kind of gu…” Jack glances down at his silk-clad form.  “…girl who…”  He looks again and sags.  “Don’t answer that.”


“I did NOT say jerk,” I deny angrily, hunkering a little lower behind our rock.  “I said KNEE-jerk.  There is a subtle yet significant difference.”

“I…”

“Although given your current level of maturity, I might just go with the majority opinion and drop the knee.”

“Or lift it,” Jack says lightly.

If I didn’t need him fully functional for the instant I get him home, I’d be sorely tempted.  “You need to broaden your definition of survival skills, masculinity AND creativity,” I order him disapprovingly.

“I make pots.”

“You…what?” I turn to stare at him.

Jack flushes and shrugs his shoulders.  “I’ve got a little…too much to call it a studio,” he shoots me an embarrassed look, “a spot in my basement.  My stuff sucks,” he adds hastily.  “But I still…you know.”

I didn’t.  Oh, wow.  Wow.

Jack’s tentative smile broadens into his usual insouciant grin.  “Don’t tell anyone.”

That was an order and I have my standards, but Jack looks adorably nervous, so no.  No.  Of course not.  Mmm.  ”Wet clay?”  Cool, wet, MALLEABLE clay?

Jack winks at me.  “I’ll take a rain check.”

He can bank on it.

Jack eases around the edge of the rock and carefully scans the trail one more time.

I checked out the DHD from as close as the force field allowed me to get and this is a gate from the Abydos cartouche, much to my relief.  I’ve matched all the symbols for the address for 959, so as soon as we can get through to the DHD, we are out of here.  Jack and I have spent the last four hours or so fruitlessly testing the resilience of the force field and searching the immediate environs of the gate for any kind of power supply we can interrupt while Teal’c scouts ahead for the Jaffa settlement-cum-outpost.  We’ve found zip on both counts and Jack’s decided we’re going to have to get proactive.

I agree.  I really don’t want to live here.  I’m also weirded out about us possibly being trapped in some alien laboratory like rats trying to work our way through a maze, with the Stargate and home as the cheese.

Jack turns to me.  “Let’s head off to the rendezvous point, see if Teal’c has managed to scare up a lead.”

I nod my understanding and drop into position at Jack’s rear.  Some of the arcane military rules are second nature now.  I’ve grasped intervals.  When you’re out in the open, you spread apart.  When you’re in the trees, you move close together.  I’m not sure how that works with just two of you, but we’re in the dreariest, drippiest forest I’ve ever had the misfortune to squelch through so I’m practically in Jack’s pants with him.  I’m only glad the suns are up and the heat is filtering down through the canopy as we skirt along the edge of the trail.

I’ve also grasped it causes Jack actual physical pain to march boldly down a trail.  He gets that ‘just shoot me now’ wince every single time, but time is the one thing we don’t have on missions.  We do what we can with the MALPs and the UAVs, but basically we get in, poke around, catalogue our findings, get the hell out again.  Lately, it feels like some missions my brain doesn’t fully engage until we hit ramp and debrief.  I’m not exactly jaded, just aware of a jumble of sensory impressions and pattern recognition as my mind takes the path of least resistance until I have time to absorb what it is I’m looking at.  I can’t waste a whole mission on one panel of text or one artefact, I have to skim.  Jack understands discipline, so I think he’d understand how hard it is for me to rein in my instincts, my training.  It’s the same discipline that has Jack walking a trail when everything he is, is screaming at him to skulk safely through the trees.

Every time we walk through the gate it’s a hostile situation, but it also has the potential to be a first contact situation.  It’s too much to ask of Jack, to be a good, responsible soldier, to make his instinct to protect war with the orders that place us in danger when he has to be the diplomat too.  Sometimes the strain of fighting his instincts wears on him and he…it’s frustration.  Not personal.  Not us.  The situation, what he wants to do, which means squat against what he HAS to do.

A faint footfall ahead has Jack dropping bonelessly to the ground and I follow, far less smoothly and grimacing as the damp moss and loam chills my skin.  Our cover as Ro’tak is looking less and less convincing with every step we take.  Every barefoot step.  We’re both damp, bedraggled, mud splashed, moss-stained, sweaty and for the record, hungry and thirsty.  I doubt I’ll be beating anyone off with a stick, though I may be beating someone with a stick if I’m not fed and watered soon.

I’ve hit the ground spooned up against Jack’s hip.  I’ve also learned not to make a sound unless he does, so I touch his side gently, and crawl up to join him at his nod, a heavy palm settling on my shoulder warning me to keep flat to the ground.  The moment our faces are level, Jack leans in.  He holds up two fingers and his eyes cut to my right and straight of us.

Two targets. I look a question.  Does he want me to take one of them?

A tiny shake of the head and Jack presses his palm flat towards the ground.  I’m to wait here for…he holds up five fingers.  Five minutes.  We have walking fingers so that means he’ll come back to me.  And he’s pointing at his eyes, so I’m to make a visual ID before I come bounding out of the undergrowth.

Weird how come I’ve learned all of this stuff from my guys and my guys still don’t known their Akkadian from their Cuneiform.

I give Jack the thumbs up and stay absolutely still as he crawls noiselessly away on his belly into the ferns.  I hope whoever it is out there isn’t tall, because they are quite definitely about to die if either of them looks even close to Jack’s shoe size.  He’s not even pretending to be fussy about them being unfriendlies if they’ve got footwear and how come I just heard a noise BEHIND me?

Aww, crap.

Number one on the list of top ten things that keep Jack and Sam awake at night is my putative skill in hand to hand combat.  Or lack thereof.  I guess we’re about to find out.  I roll rapidly into the ferns at my left and crawl towards the trees, trying to keep my derriere out of the air.  Hand to hand fighting may not be my forte, but I’m pretty damn good at knee to balls, teeth to hand, whatever the hell it takes.  If I have to.  I think I have to now.  Jack already has two to deal with and if whoever this is gets past me, Jack won’t see them coming.

Did I say aww, crap?  No?  Saying it now.  I edge around the tree trunk and listen intently.  I hear booted feet in an arrogant  rhythm I’ve gotten to know well over the years.  Jaffa.  Two, I think, which is going to make this tricky.  I’ll have to take the one at the back, and hope I take him quickly enough to use his staff weapon on the one in front.

I hunker uncertainly by the trunk.  I’m very close to Jack’s position here.  If the Jaffa get past me, Jack won’t have much reaction time.  I think I should get further back, take them sooner.  At the very least the sounds of the struggle will alert Jack to the presence of danger.

I head out, bent over at the waist, running to press myself flat against the next trunk.  I take a deep, calming breath and dart my head out.  I see nothing, but the heavy, booted footsteps are getting closer.  I dart out again, glad of my bare feet for the first time as I glide soundlessly to the next trunk over and press myself into a small hollow.  I take another deep breath to steady myself.  My heart is beating so fast it feels like I’ve got it between my teeth and I haven’t started yet.  The incredible thing is that Jack has told me over and over he feels the same – they all do.  Every single time, hard though that is for me to believe.  It’s just the training, the relentless drill that gets them through it functioning.

As for me, I just do the best I can.  The booted footsteps are thumping into the ground so the Jaffa are close.  I hunker low and ease my head around the edge of the trunk, catch sight of them about ten yards away.  Just a few moments more and I can slip out behind them, once I’m sure they’re alone.

I…I don’t let myself see faces.  Just the armour.  The weapons.  A clear and present danger to Jack.  Nothing more.  Nothing.

I’d love to fool even myself I’m calm, but I’m shaking as the wind sighs through the branches and I edge out onto the trail behind the Jaffa, quickening my pace to catch the one at the rear.  I know what to…to do.  Jack taught me.  He said my hands are perfect for what I’m about to do, strong and long fingered.  I always thought they were perfect for what I do.

I ease closer, my soft-footed steps covered by the gusting wind and the restless creaking of the trees overhead.  A few steps more, just a few, and then the last and I raise my hands to ghost around the Jaffa’s neck, not THINKING, not at all.  I clasp his smooth jaw as his breath snuffs, startled.  Clasp and lift and twist in one swift, savage jerk, listening intently for the crack; holding him as he slumps, dead, in my cradling arms.  I lower him to the ground as gently as a lover or a child to its bed, fumbling for the staff weapon still gripped tight in his hand, have to wrench it from him.  Come up shaking but mind clear, firing at the other guard, just turning to face me.  Miss him.  Too slow, he’s too slow.  My staff is charged and I fire again, take him high in the shoulder, spinning him away from me.  I fire again and his back arches, his arms outflung as the blast slams into him.  I fire for making sure, and sure, sure, he’s dropping, dead.

I drop to my knee, head bowed over the staff holding me up, panting harsh and quick.  Faces.  See faces now.  See PEOPLE.  My skin crawls as I reach shakily out to close the eyes of the guard whose neck I snapped.  Hazel eyes in a strong young face, wide and staring above a slew of freckles across the snub nose.  Smooth skin.  Thin.  Laugh lines at the…the eyes.

Couldn't see them before.  Can’t stop…after.

A flash of movement ahead catches my eye and I raise the staff, peering intently ahead.  A flash of grey-green, fast moving and noiseless.

JACK.

I feel faint with relief, coming to my feet as he races into the clearing, deathly pale and searching, slowing his steps to check the pulse of the other guard.  I flush with mortification.  I…I forgot.  Don’t know how many times he’s drummed it into me to MAKE SURE.  I stoop wearily and reach for hazel-eyes’ throat, Jack’s hand closing over mine, warm and capable, stilling me,  reaching down to check, make sure.

I’m sure.

Jack hauls me up to my feet and nods tightly, his eyes very kind as he clasps my jaw roughly.  His face tightens when I flinch and he gives me a look that promises empathy.  And home.  I blink hard, shamed by the sting of tears in my eyes.

“You did good,” Jack says softly, and not in praise.

He knows me better than that.  He means I’m still alive.

“We’ve got to go.  I think Teal’c has been taken, that’s why the patrols are out in force.  They’re not even sounding the goddamn foghorn, so the snaky bastards are trying to be sneaky.  They’re hunting,” Jack says tightly as he crouches next to me.

“If they have Teal’c we have to get him,” I snap as I turn the body of the guard, looking for a badge, a crest, anything to identify the Goa’uld or the…”This symbol is on the gate!” I observe, surprised.  I lean in, finger the skull cap gently.  The original crest has been scratched out and the new stamped above it.  I look up at Jack, hovering and checking our perimeter constantly.  “Taurus guard.  Or at least he used to be.”

Jack tosses me an impatient look.

“The change in crest suggests a change in allegiance from their god Cronus…”

“Their dead false god,” Jack snaps as he yanks at my shoulder.  I follow him into the relative safety of the dense vegetation amongst the trees.

“To this world.  It’s possible these Jaffa have broken away from service to any Goa’uld in the midst of all this confusion,” I warn Jack when we settle into a sheltered spot.  We have four staff weapons and Jack has a Zat tucked in his pants, so we’ve gained a limited tactical advantage at the cost of four lives and…

If it helps Teal’c.

Jack stares off into the distance, that focused look he gets telling me he’s threat assessing as fast as I’ve ever made a determination on an artefact or fragment of text.

“How would they take the ‘Shol’va’ exploding into the middle of this?”

“Without more information, I can’t give more than an educated guess, Jack,” I sigh.  “The scratching out of Cronus’ brand and the adoption of the symbol for this world suggests to me these are a rebel group.  If so, their goal is likely independence.  That wouldn’t in any way guarantee they are sympathetic to Teal’c’s cause or to us.”

Jack is listening intently, processing…He looks up abruptly, eyes twinkling at me.  “Looks like you got yourself taken prisoner, Dannyboy.”

“Aww, crap.”  I sag.  “That will buy us about a nanosecond before they spot…” I reach up to tap Jack’s bare forehead.

“What I wouldn’t give for a magic marker,” Jack sighs.  “But mud will have to do.  Let’s go hide those bodies and get me suited up,” he orders cheerfully.

We sneak back out into the open and manhandle the Jaffa I shot into the undergrowth, then return for the other.  It takes a hell of a lot of effort to manipulate a literal dead weight, especially to undress.  I’m not ashamed to admit I’m totally freaked by the feel of still warm, pliant flesh beneath my fumbling fingers as we sweat and curse and strip the corpse.  I’m shuddering uncontrollably as I help Jack into the armour, and he surprises me by taking my hand and kissing the palm for just a moment.

“I know,” is all he says.

I drop my head for a moment.  I’m sorry all Jack has to rely on is me.  I do my best, always, but I don’t always do the right thing or do it at the right time.

“Lighten up, Danny.  For all we know, Teal’c could be holed up shooting the shit out of them right now,” Jack flashes his shit-eating grin.

I hope…I hope he’s safe.

Jack glances down complacently at his boots and my bare toes.  He stamps a couple of times, just to make sure I get it.  Then he strokes his armour clad arms, so I get it some more.

“It’s up to you, Jack,” I suggest evenly, “but keep up the smug bastard act and you might just find yourself…” I let it trail off menacingly.  This is another Special Ops trick.  Keep the threats nebulous because you can’t come up with anything NEAR as bad as your enemy’s own imagination.  In this case, Jack makes the leap from nought to celibacy in way less than sixty seconds and panics.  I’m quite pleased, given a moment’s reflection on Jack’s part would tell him that was stupid because not only do I not play those games, it would mean I didn’t get any either.

I feel a whole lot better as I step in front of my darkly brooding colonel and march demurely ahead of him.

“What was that about mikta’s?” I ask sweetly.

“Ha’taaka!  Kree!” Jack snarls, exhausting his entire Goa’uld vocabulary in one pithy condemnation.

The prurient minded could make something of that innocent insult.

So I do.


“Ready?” Jack hisses as he marches me boldly down the path towards the three-man patrol.

I nod, swallowing hard.

We waited half an hour at the rendezvous point before Jack went with his gut and we set out to find Teal’c.  We’ve been lucky so far.  This is the first patrol we’ve run into and given the vehemence of Jack’s response to my mild suggestion that shaking my tush might still be enough to distract some dumb Jaffa who hasn’t gotten any in a while, a LONG while, they don’t have much longer to live.

My instructions are clear.  We’re counting and when we hit twenty my ass has to hit the ground HARD so Jack can shoot the Jaffa in charge right over the top of my head.

“Remember.  All you gotta do is sit on it,” Jack fusses.

I got that.  I think I can manage to remember which way is down, even if staff blasts are whipping past my ears.

“Nasty sex if we live,” I promise.

“Now you motivate me,” Jack sighs.  “One, Minnesota.  Two…”

We march and count, the Jaffa looming large as the life we’re about to forcibly deprive them of, surprised and elated to see a prisoner, the count of twenty so they don’t have time to see our faces and, God, I really don’t want to see theirs.

Twenty.

I sit on my ass hard enough to jar my spine clear through to my teeth as Jack fires over my head and takes out his man with a single shot high in the chest.  I roll into a tight ball as Jack leaps over me, rapid-firing the staff in a wide sweep that seems to belch a single blast arcing from man to man, slamming them back as Jack fluidly glides in to finish them, firing a second time at one feebly struggling guard on the ground, slamming the butt of the staff sickeningly into the skull of a second as he kicks the man’s own weapon clear of his desperately scrabbling hand.  He’s staring up at Jack wide-eyed and calling hoarsely as Jack reverses the staff and fires at point blank range, already dropping to efficiently check for pulses and Zats.

Comes up empty on both.

I would really like to stay in this defensive ball for a while.  Possibly forever.  But.

Always a but.

BUT Teal’c needs us and Jack needs me so…

Always provisos.  If, and, so, but, therefore.

I’m not jaded.  Just realistic.

And I try not to ask…why.

“Let’s go, Daniel,” Jack hisses,  “Up and unfortunately right back at ‘em.”

I take a deep breath, uncurl, rise smoothly to my feet and trot over to resume the position.

“The weapons,” I prompt Jack.  We’ve only found staff weapons so far.

“The Zats.  I know,” he agrees briskly.  “Supplies maybe running REAL low, meaning they’re fighting something or someone.”

“Maybe among themselves,” I suggest.

“It’s a possibility,” Jack agrees as we march out onto the first road we’ve seen.  “Or the other faction could have booked with all the Zats.”

If I squint, I can just make out a long, low slung building squatting dark and ugly on a low hill ahead of us.  Best I can do without my glasses, which Jack insisted I leave back at the rendezvous point.  Jack pushes at my shoulder, just in case we’re under observation.  I’m somewhat pissed that I have to limp back to the SGC in damp, clinging silk and bare feet while Jack gets to sweep back down the ramp wearing armour and Teal’c could probably get away with the embroidery hoop, so it’s just ME.

Bloody typical.

Two suns suck, have I mentioned that?  Last night we almost froze to death, now my feet are burning against the sun-baked ground and the sullen air along the path is choked with dust.  It’s clinging to the sweat trickling maddeningly down my back and pooling at the hollow of my throat.  I’m light-headed from lack of food, and my lips are drying from lack of water.

Jack’s hand is heavy on my shoulder, not shoving now, just lending his strength and silent support.

He can count on me.  He knows that.  Teal’c may be needing us at the end of this road.  This LONG road.  This long, dry, baking-hot, dusty road.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve got THE worst case of helmet hair and if I don’t get to scratch my ass SOON I am going to start killing people,” Jack snorts.  “I’m thinking about you and me in a shower, Danny.”

“A loooong shower.”

“A long cooool shower.”

“Drinking the water,” I sigh dreamily.

“Licking it from the nape of your neck,” Jack sighs too.

“Licking it from your…”

“Heads up,” Jack growls.  “We got company.”

Oh, yes.  Lots and lots of company, double timing it towards us, and the guy leading the charge is certainly Teal’c shaped but NOT our friend.

Jack sighs gustily.  “I count six.  Too many to fight,” he hisses.  “Try to look beaten.”

“I am!”

“LOOK beaten.  And ugly.”

I glance down at myself incredulously.  I’m stumbling to my doom looking like Pig Pen.  How much more ugly does he want me to be?

“Jaffa!  Kree!” the Jaffa booms.

I open my mouth to respond as Jack cuffs me and knocks me on my face.

“Hold your horses, there,” Jack says easily, planting one heavy foot in the small of my back as I struggle up spitting road.

I try to raise myself onto my elbows and Jack forces me flat.  I am SO gonna get him for this!

“I am Don’ac,” the Jaffa announces in a voice that could be heard back at the SGC.

“At’ac,” Jack responds cheerfully.

At-?  What?!  I sputter, Jack shoves me flat again and I come up spitting more road.  Oh, dear God.  I don’t know about staff weapon blasts but I could happily die of embarrassment.

“I do not know you, At’ac.  You are not Jaffa.  Who are you that you walk free?” Don’ac spits.

I’m anxious to know what At’ac of the Windy City has in mind too, and I’m certain once he’s worked it out, he’ll be sure to let the rest of us in on it.

“My…” Jack chokes a little, “Master and I were sent to retrieve this slave,” Jack nudges me with his foot.  “He is favoured by our lord,” he announces in an ‘ONLY our lord knows why’ way.  “The Great and Powerful…”

Don’t push me!  DON’T YOU PUSH ME, YOU…

“Oz.”

PRICK!

I hate At’ac O’Neill.

“Your ‘master’ is our prisoner and you stand before me in the uniform of a man you killed.”

I clear my throat awkwardly.  I glance up at armoured shins and sense this mission just turned out three for three in the disaster stakes.


I’d sell my soul for shoes by the time our escort marches us into the compound.  It’s gotten hotter with every step and our genial hosts seem to feel that water is for wimps.  Jack is sweltering in his armour and ready to kill everyone on this planet on general principle from the look of him.

Don’ac sends his men scurrying as the gate is closed behind us.  I look around inquisitively, aware of Jack doing the same.  The compound looks like it was built on a cross-roads.  It strikes me as utilitarian and uniform in the way only the military seems to build.  A barracks of some kind; a place to sleep and train, situated to allow rapid response to any threat to the Stargate or to the as yet unseen settlement.

We’re in an open central courtyard, framed by a two storey stone building which completely encloses it.  I can only see one  entry gate.  Most of the doors on the lower level are open; clearly storerooms and communal areas for the troops and the like.  The quarters must be above.  Even I see signs of battle damage, slick streaks in the stone suggestive of staff weapons blasts, and there are no Jaffa just hanging, enjoying the breathless, baking heat.

Jack’s eyes are everywhere, assessing, particularly the gate.  There are two cannons mounted above it, which will be a real concern until we get clear.  I’m confident we can escape, we always find a way, but how we get the device that deactivates the force field keeping us on world is another thing entirely.  And that's assuming the device is here in the first place.

I assess too as Don’ac herds us briskly over towards a shallow flight of stone steps directly opposite the gate.  I’ll leave the weapons and tactics to Jack.  There’s plenty of interest here for me.  The cupboard, or rather the storerooms are bare.  My thinking now isn’t that the putative winning faction isn’t short of personnel, they’ve been redeployed into the abandoned fields and farms.  Subsistence farming, literally hand to mouth.  Jack’s armour fits him better than most, and his is stolen.  The Jaffa aren’t starving, they’re too quick and alert for that, but I suspect there’s no margin for error here.  We’ve killed seven guards and I’m not sure if that means seven less mouths to feed or seven less pairs of hands to work the fields.

I really don’t want to live here and I have a sinking feeling we may have to.  It’s all too possible the Jaffa don’t HAVE the device to breach the force field if they’re living like this.

Two of the Jaffa spring forward to throw open the heavily carved wooden doors, but I still see where the stylised bull horns of Cronus have been gouged into the twin suns.

The chamber is blessedly cool and my eyes are magnetically drawn to a ewer of water and several earthenware cups.  Jack is looking too, and then he’s falling as Don’ac viciously swipes his staff at the back of Jack’s knees.

“Same old, same old,” Jack grumbles.

I’m shoved roughly to my knees too, right in front of a huge chair set on a low dais.  I track the dais along to a flight of steps turning in on themselves to reach a mezzanine above us.  Audience chamber and private quarters from the looks of it.  Footsteps echo above us and a moment later a man is walking calmly down the steps towards us.  A young man.  Surprisingly young to hold the elevated position of Dis’tra, so I suspect he TOOK it from the REAL Jaffa Master.

Oh, dear.

“Heads up.”  Jack straightens.  “Rebel without a clue,” he mutters.

Don’ac is holding Jack by the scruff of his neck and cuffs him harshly across the back of his head, knocking him sprawling forward.

I grit my teeth and don’t react to the sated look on Don’ac’s face.  There’s no point antagonising them until we’ve found out where they’re holding Teal’c and then I suspect we’ll be fucking killing them and booking as fast as we can.

My heart bleeds.  Much like Jack’s mouth.  I’m dividing my attention between Jack as he makes it back to his knees and the Dis’tra, just taking his chair.

“If you touch me again, I’ll kill you,” Jack promises quietly.

Don’ac lashes out and catches Jack between his shoulders, slamming him into the stone floor, then steps forward and plants his foot at the nape of Jack’s neck…

Ohgodohgod if he stamps DOWN…

“We’re no threat to you!  We mean you no harm.” I call desperately to the Dis’tra. “We may even be able to help you.”

“Soon as I get up,” Jack mutters, grunting as Don’ac leans into him.  “Fucking KILLING you…crap…MINUTE I get….crap…up.”

“This one claims the name At’ac, but he bears no mark and carries no Prim’ta, Lord,” Don’ac calls.

Six Jaffa with staff weapons?  They checked.  They checked me out too, and I’m not wearing enough to conceal a nail file.

“Fucking rip that snake out your guts and shove it up your ASS,” the threat is muffled but sincere.

One of the things I love most about Jack is his absolute refusal to quit, beyond reason, beyond sense, and occasionally beyond sanity.  You can kill him later, Jack, I promise.  Just let him let you up and make like the colonel, okay?  I don’t do it too well.

“And this one?” the Dis’tra nods at me.

“At’ac claims this one is the favoured of his lord Oz.  I do not believe them,” Don’ac reports sullenly.

Well I don’t blame you for that.  This is the most embarrassing cover story in the history of embarrassing cover stories.

“I can believe this one to be favoured,” the Dis’tra observes mildly of me.

“Daniel,” I give my name quietly.

“I do not know of your lord Oz,” Sirio probes.

Ah, bite me.  I was STRESSED.  “He has not chosen to reveal himself to those who are not his followers until now.”

“My lord Oz has been building his power base,” Jack unexpectedly enters the fray, magnificently disdainful of the fact Don’ac could snap his neck in a heartbeat. “He has no interest in you or this world, he just wants Daniel and the rest of us back in one piece.  So just hand over the remote control and we’ll be on our way.”

The Dis’tra flicks his hand and Don’ac backs off, snarling.

“Who the hell are you?” Jack asks sourly.

“Sirio, once of the Taurus guard and now Dis’tra in this place,” Sirio announces icily.  “Our god has forsaken us.”

“Your god is dead,” Jack responds just as coldly, wisely not playing the false god card.  “My lord is of the army which defeated him in battle.”

“It’s true,” I tell Sirio forcefully.  “The gods do battle among themselves; you know this to be true.  Cronus and Apophis have both been struck down and the other gods war over what was once theirs.”

“Our lord is SLAIN?” Sirio leans in, his green eyes alive and burning for the first time.

Only the fact he’s talking is enough to convince me he’s a creature of flesh and blood beneath his armour.  I glance uneasily at Jack.  If Sirio has identified Teal’c as the Shol’va, I wouldn’t give his life expectancy longer than it would take to charge a staff.  Sirio believes himself to be forsaken by his god and his response has been to…what?  Reject his god and…and kill anyone who disagrees with him?

Has he been killing his OWN men?

Jack looks over at me, eyes filled with unmistakeable warning.  I understand, and I hope Teal’c did too.

“Only a god may strike down another god,” I say smoothly, choking down bile with the lie.

“A man may strike down another man,” Sirio says softly, dead eyes dwelling on Jack.

“Seven men,” Jack announces, head held high.  “In service of my lord.”

Which pretty much epitomises why Jack O’Neill is the smartest man I know.

Sirio steeples his fingers and weighs Jack’s confession carefully.  “A man lives to serve his god,” he approves.

“A man lives for what he believes,” Jack responds with heartfelt sincerity, and he doesn’t mean the same thing at all.  Not at all.  “Does my master live?” he asks respectfully.

“For now,” Sirio says absently, his troubled gaze roaming my face.

My skin makes a spirited attempt to crawl right off.

“This one RAN from his god,” Don’ac cuffs me.

Sirio straightens, his face slipping once more into its smooth mask.

Death mask.

Bad example.  Baaaad.

“Is this true, Daniel?” Sirio asks softly.

“He was taken,” Jack responds instantly.

“If that was so, then why did you handle him so roughly?” Don’ac crows triumphantly.  “Hashak!  The ‘favoured’ of your lord,” he scoffs.

“He angers me,” Jack avoids my eye.  “Deeply.  And often.”

“I wasn’t hurt,” I glare at Jack.  “He is too quick to protect.”

“My lord would kill me where I stood if harm came to Daniel,” Jack snaps.

I don’t think George would KILL Jack.  Not literally.

“Tal’shak, Don’ac,” Sirio holds up a quelling hand.  “There is truth in all their words and looks.”

“Will you pledge allegiance to our lord?” Jack asks intently, leaping WAY ahead of me.

“And be of service to him?” I add.  “He was victorious in battle, and what once belonged to Cronus is now his.”

“Tal mal’tiak mal we’ia,” Sirio bows his head gravely as he pledges his honour.  “Your lord Oz will come to take us from this place?”

Jack glances to me and I nod infinitesimally.

“I’m sure he will,” Jack says heartily, “As soon as our master informs him of your existence he’ll be back to plant his fl…to claim this world.”  He takes a breath.  “Speaking of which, if you could just hand over our master AND the gizmo…device…we’ll be on our way.  The sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll be back.”

We won’t.  We’ll lock this world out of our dialling computer and leave these men to Sirio and their fate.  I hope…I really hope it was a battle and it’s over now, because I hate to think of this cold, calm madman killing his own men by degrees.

“You will stay and feast with us so we may do honour to your Lord.”

It’s not a request.

“No,” Jack refuses firmly.  “Our lord will know no peace until Daniel is returned to him safe and if our master must tell him every moment’s delay was at your order…” he lets it trail off menacingly.  “It’s his will.”

“At’ac has no Prim’ta.  He is human, as is Daniel,” Don’ac protests vehemently.  “How can they serve as we do?”

“Daniel is Ro’tak,” Jack explains smoothly.  “And my lord has chosen me to infiltrate the forces of the Tau’ri.  I resemble a warrior of GREAT sk…” Jack can’t actually avoid my outraged eyes this time and subsides sullenly.

“My LORD!” Don’ac cries.

Sirio freezes.  “Jaffa!  Sha’lokma Don’ac!” he orders the Jaffa I know are standing behind us.   We hear the too-familiar sizzle as the staff weapons charge, then Don’ac’s body thumps to the stone floor between us.

“Obviously wasn’t gettin’ his memos,” Jack mutters under his breath.

I REALLY hope Teal’c kept his mouth shut.

“We need to go,” Jack orders.  “Take us to our master, give us the device that deactivates the force field and release us if you want to serve your god.”

He’s relentless when he gets something on his mind.  I should know.  Jack with something on his mind is like a high speed, concentrated version of Chinese water torture.

“Only the Dis’tra may use the device you speak of,” Sirio informs us.

I still believe that Sirio is far too young to BE the Dis’tra so I can only assume he killed the Dis’tra and took his place here, along with all his possessions.

Sirio nods to the Jaffa behind us.  “Fetch the Jaffa Master.  He would not give his name, nor has he spoken a word since we took him,” he observes quietly.  “He killed many of my men when he was taken.”

Oh, God.  God.

“He lives,” Sirio assures me, slipping down from his chair to walk over to the ewer.  He pours a cup of water and brings it to me, reaching down a hand to pull me to my feet.

I look at once to Jack, who’s stonily refusing to acknowledge his own thirst.

“At’ac may drink also.  If it is the will of our lord I serve you.”

I’m aware of Jack carefully making his way over to the ewer and to the precious water I’m sipping so slowly, so desperately.  He’s vibrating with tension as Sirio stands at my side, his hand curled around my upper arm.

“Ro’tak?” Sirio asks gently.

O-kaay. His hand is now on my…JACK!  My turn to glare at Jack and his rapid advance segues into an easy walk.  And a scorching look in return.

I’m looking at Sirio, seeing the oddly satisfied smile on his face and suddenly thinking about what we just said.  Did he provoke Jack on purpose there?  I don’t see anything in his manner to suggest he’d like to drag me out back of the barracks.  If this was a test?  ”You didn’t believe a word of that, did you?” I ask quietly, my throat drying.  If I wasn’t so damn stressed and freaked…what was I thinking?  The Great and Powerful Oz?  At’ac?  Please.

Sirio sags and dashes his hand across his eyes.  “Your Jaffa master is the Shol’va, Teal’c.  You are of the Tau’ri.  Please.  Will you help us?”

“Talk.  FAST,” Jack snaps.  “You just killed one of your own men right in front of us.”

“My ‘madness’ is all the defence we have!” Sirio cries passionately, voice low and choked.  “You do not understand, Tau’ri.  The Dis’tra LIVES.  He lives and he KILLS.  Many have been drawn to his… his WAYS,” Sirio spits, face twisting in revulsion.  “We do not carry the Zatnikatel for that is their weapon…how they take us and…” he looks away.  “His spies are among us even now, Don’ac chief among them.  I would have killed him a hundred times had I KNOWN who among my brothers I could trust.  This…my madness was all the way I knew to kill him and not have it…it is all the way I have, and I am all they have,” he admits helplessly.

Jack shakes himself from head to foot like a dog as booted footsteps give a moment’s warning.   When the doors are thrown back, the life drains from the desperate boy, already slipping into his assumed role.

Two Jaffa roughly shove Teal’c into the room.

I take an involuntary step forward.  He’s alive and in one piece but bloody and battered.  Sirio’s hand closes like a vice over my arm.

“Leave us,” he says in that soft voice of his, the voice that gives no hint of his feelings.

I exchange a long, meaningful look with Jack and stand quietly as the guards salute Sirio and withdraw.

Teal’c takes a long measured look at his bound, bloody wrists and another at Sirio, who steps forward, knife in hand to slice through them.  Teal’c stands patiently as Sirio frees them, then his hands snap out and twist Sirio’s wrist, the knife flips and Teal’c is there to catch it as he spins the boy and hugs him close, knife blade at his throat.

“I could kill you where you stand, Ha’shak,” Teal’c promises silkily.

“Easy, big guy,” Jack warns.

“It would be quick,” Sirio answers bleakly, his gaze skittering away from the knife.

I get it.  OhgodohGODohMYgod!  “He’s removing the Prim’ta?” I gasp, appalled.  It’s agonisingly slow and…Jack and I both look involuntarily to Teal’c.

“They suffer greatly,” Teal’c says calmly.

Sirio nods and hangs limp in Teal’c’s chokehold.  “I do not know who to trust or what to do and we are trapped here.  My words were the truth.  Only the Dis’tra may activate the device you speak of.  You must take it from him if you are to leave this place.”

Jack shrugs and Teal’c releases Sirio with a hard shove.

“We killed your men,” Jack reminds him.

“They died free,” Sirio hangs his head.

Teal’c stiffens at the words, weighing the boy up for a long moment.

“Come.”  Sirio beckons and leads us up the stairs to the Dis’tra’s quarters.  He has food and drink set out on the table and talks into the intent silence as we bolt down the meal and the precious water.

“I believe in no god, but many do.  It is a lie.  This is ALL a lie,” his arm sweeps out jerkily.  “All.  I lead those who believe their god has forsaken them and I believe in no god.  The Dis’tra believes in his god and was maddened by our abandonment in this place.  He is a prideful man,” Sirio tells Teal’c solemnly.  “It is his madness I borrow.”

“Who is this Dis’tra?” Teal’c asks gravely.

“Teltus.”

We look at Teal’c.  He shakes his head.  “I do not know of him.”

“He was maddened by his god’s rejection but those who follow him believe as I, that the gods are false.  They believe his lies.  He drew them to his side, deep in the forest, as we fought among ourselves.”  Sirio looks down at the table.  “Many died.  His followers were few but they are strong.  We must live, feed ourselves, and all the Kresh’taa need do is wait and take.”

“Kresh’taa?” Jack asks.

“Outcasts,” Teal’c replies, not taking his heavy, assessing gaze from Sirio’s face.

“There were those who came to believe the lie and left us to find him and they did not return.  We are too few now and we cannot run from this place.  The walls are protection.  We can hide and starve, or go out and die,” Sirio sighs.  “They will pick one patrol, and track.  Always one.  My brothers despair.  They will not follow a Shol’va such as myself or Master Teal’c, for that is the lie that kills them, but they will go to the lord who claims them.  If you can but take the device from the Dis’tra we can all go free,” he asks hopefully, eyes burning.

Sirio sags again before we can respond.  “I ask you to save your enemy,” he shakes his head, ruefully.  “And to fight against those who believe as you do, that the gods are false.  As I do.”

“We killed your men,” I remind him as Jack and Teal’c sit silent, thinking it through.

“My brothers are my enemy, no man here can fully trust another.”

Teal’c looks at me gravely.  “If you killed for what you believe, there is no wrong in the act, DanielJackson.  Follower of Teltus or no, the men were your enemies.”

“Jesus,” Jack roughly scrubs his hand over his face.  “If I hadn’t fed you that line of BULL about ol’ Oz here,” he jerks his thumb at me, “you’d have had to kill us, right?” he asks Sirio.

Sirio’s quiet dignity is all the answer we need.

Jack nods almost absently.  “To protect your men.”

“Who may be your enemy,” Teal’c inclines his head gravely.

“Your friends are your enemies and your enemies are your friends,” I murmur sympathetically.  It’s an impossible situation to be in, a lie within a lie.

Jack is glaring at me.  “My head is hurting already so knock it OFF,” he bitches.

“No, Jack, listen.  Teltus wanted to punish the men who believed in his god as he did, and the only way to do it was to deny his faith.  He deliberately drew to him those who had revealed themselves as non-believers during the struggle.  He’s using their belief in freedom to destroy those who still have the faith he lost.”

“It’s SICK,” Jack spits.

“He will die at my hand,” Teal’c swears, eyes wintry.

“Yes, yes,” I agree.  Jack looks at me.  “Teal’c IS the Shol’va.  Sirio wouldn’t LET him give his name, am I right?”

Sirio nods.  “All know of the deeds of Master Teal’c of Chulak.”

“Got your fifteen at last, buddy,” Jack jokes.

I look at him, shake it off and go on.  “Teltus is LIVING his lie so he could hardly refuse to take us in if Teal’c marches right up to him and…”

“Kills him,” Teal’c and Jack agree, Jack waving a get on with it hand.

“Announces his presence…”

“Then kills him,” Jack says happily.

“Indeed.”

“Or I may kill him.  Or…”

“Jack!”

“We kill him,” Jack says stubbornly.

“And has a couple of Tau’ri with him for good measure.”

“I meant we in the Teal’c and I sense,” Jack amends instantly.

I glare at Jack.

“Indeed.”

I glare at Teal’c.  And Jack.

“Teltus convinced his followers of the ‘truth’ in his heart by killing his symbiote in front of them all.  It was matured and he would have died else.  His followers were taken by…by…” Sirio struggles for words, face draining of colour at the memory.

“An ecstasy?” I suggest gently.

“They fought among themselves for the honour of surrendering their own Prim’ta and in their frenzy this…ritual…was born.  Teltus convinced them that the seeking of pain was noble, a way to redeem the believer, that he would see the truth and die free,” Sirio falters.

“So he’s using a bastardisation of the Rite of Mal’ Sharran against them,” I say coldly.  In their suffering they would cry out, confess to anything asked of them to end the torture a moment sooner, and every redemption would feed the belief.   I glare at them all.  “So we get in there and fucking kill him.  Pardon my French.”

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

JACK

I stare at Daniel, speechless for once.  I’ve never SEEN that killing look on his face.  Never even knew he could GET this angry.  He’s sitting here, dazed and dirty and tired to the bone, breathing fire and defiance.  He’s already killed two kids who are both the bad guys AND the frigging victims here, and if I can’t make sense of that, how can Daniel?

Despite my best intentions to keep my distance on missions, my hand is hard on his shoulder before I even know I’m reaching out to him.  I want him to sit this one out, but he won’t, and we all know it.  Daniel always looks for another way, but if he has to kill in defence he will.  Won’t hesitate.

Having to sit here and watch and listen as he fights to help us plan the safest possible assassination…shit.

“It HAS to be Teal’c,” Daniel argues passionately.  “He’s the only one who can subvert their belief system.  He’s the epitome of all they believe, the man who defied his god and lives free.”

“I agree,” Teal’c folds his arms across his chest, each movement slow, precise, deliberate.  Like tectonic shift, Jaffa sized.

“Yeah.  I’m with you on this one, big guy.  I don’t know how Hammond will feel about us giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but I know how he feels about torture.  This isn’t a military question, not now,” I explain rapidly.  “This is one of those humanitarian things Daniel here is always trying to get us to see as an option and isn’t it just a hoot the only humane response we can muster is to kill the victims as hard and as fast as we can?” I snap.

This pathetic little group of lost kids can’t hurt us, hell, they’ve hurt themselves too much for that.  We can give ‘em a chance though.  Maybe Jacob and his cronies can scare up some place for them to go, be safe.

“I agree we have to take action, Daniel,” I tell him calmly, my hand easy on him now, just resting casually.   Letting him know I’m with him.  “If we’re dealing with this…what was that again?”

“Ecstasy,” Daniel supplies intently.  He looks at Sirio.  “You’re sure about that?”

“I saw,” the kid confesses, looking down, beyond shame.

Oy.  “You planned to join Teltus and saw the light, huh?” I wince.

The kid has a lot of guts to struggle on this way helping people who are technically his enemy too.  I don’t want to see MY enemy as human, makes ‘em harder to kill.  Correction, I kill ‘em just fine.  It makes it harder to live with myself, after.  And now, it makes it harder for Daniel to live with me.

All in all, I really wish we’d waded our damp behinds around Bogworld.

“You say Teltus is holed up in the forest?” I ask.  Sirio nods.  “What if we just marched right out of here in plain view and headed back to the gate?”

“Word will have spread by now,” Sirio agrees.

Damn.  I shake my head, annoyed with myself.  “Nah.  Won’t work.  Word will also have spread we don’t have any way off this rock, so logically, what we gotta do is what we gotta do.”  I get blank looks.  “I’m not having a John Wayne moment,” I snipe.  “I mean we have to find Teltus to get outta here and that plays for us.  He’ll be expecting us and…”

“He will even now be planning to use our presence on this world to his advantage.  Sirio still has too many followers for Teltus to take this place; the Jaffa fear and hate him and would fight their fate to the death, so he must war by attrition.  My presence at his side might be enough to convince those who have hidden their belief…”

“Or those who want to jump sides thinking they’ll be SAFER,” Daniel interjects harshly.

That’s my boy.  What they said.  “And the legendary Tau’ri of course,” I add modestly.

“Are you the one they call O’Neill?” Sirio asks tentatively.

I beam at him.  He gulps.  I glance at Daniel, who looks away muttering something like ‘WHAT do they call O’Neill?’.  Teal’c quirks an ironic brow.

“Mikta?”

“No.”

I wince.  Thanks.  “So basically our arrival may have changed the balance of power, especially after we whacked seven…”

“Eight,” Teal’c amends, a tad on the smug side.

“Fifteen of your guys.”

Daniel grimaces.

“Nothing we can do about that,” I warn him.  “Even if we take out Teltus, the rest of these kids want to run right back to Jesus, and the ones who agree with US are the ones who need to be put down.”   It sucks.  “Can you take care of the rest?” I ask Sirio.  “How many we talking about here?”

“Teltus’ followers number twenty,” Sirio responds.  “Ours are now less than fifty but we must divide our forces always…”

“Some to defend the garrison, some to farm, some to patrol.”  I nod understanding.  You can’t NOT patrol.  You have to have intelligence, otherwise you may as well roll out the red carpet and invite the enemy right in to kill you.

“Will your men fight?” Teal’c asks.

“For their lives, yes, for me, no,” Sirio says simply.  “I have kept them alive this far but not by kindness.  They fear, and fear steals discipline from even the best of us.  They fear Teltus and to have them do what they must I have made them fear me.  I have not led, I have oppressed.  It is my shame,” he tells us with the quiet dignity that characterises the boy when he’s not hiding behind ‘Sirio’.

“No,” Daniel disagrees gently, his eyes warm with empathy and understanding.  “You’ve taken responsibility, put aside your own beliefs to save them.  Don’t blame yourself for doing the best you can in impossible circumstances.”

“Your actions are noble,” Teal’c judges solemnly, inclining his head.  “I too have sacrificed the lives of my fellows for the greater good, countless lives, and that is my shame also.  You have done well, Sirio,” he praises.

The poor kid flushes to the roots of his hair.

Feeling a little misty-eyed myself.  “You did good, kid.  This was a bastard, but you did good.”

Sirio looks gravely at Daniel.  “You will bathe and we will dress you more appropriately for your trip into the forest, yes?”

Yes.  Bathing is good.  Can I help?  Would the ‘we may be dead by morning’ line work?

Daniel brightens up and peels my hand off his shoulder.

Guess not.

“We are of a size.  Take what you will.”  Sirio gestures towards one of the doors leading off from this simply furnished room and Daniel heads off gratefully to get out of his jammies.  I’m a tad disappointed.  After our trip through the forest, they’ve gotten torn in some interesting places.  If I wasn’t the total professional I am…alfresco lovemaking with the man who doesn’t like to be touched a whole lot is something I find deeply arousing.

I settle back in my chair and take the last hunk of meat nobody else seems to want when I wave it at them, and glance idly around as Teal’c and the kid yammer on.  I pick up ‘Jaffa’ and a coupla ‘krees’ in there, and something that sound like ‘caramel Jaffa’ but I don’t want to know.  The kid doesn’t even have much in the way of furniture.  Table, chairs.  Fireplace.  That’s it.  A BIG fireplace.  It could sleep all three of us and still leave room for Carter.  With all this stone, the cold must be maddening in winter.  Literally, I mean…The door bangs back and Daniel storms out.

Oh, man.  Oh, man, oh, man.  Talk about out of the jammies and into the dress.

“Not a word!” Daniel snarls, pointing a tense finger, practically up my nose.

I lift my hands.  Would I?

“It’s traditional dress, right?” I ask innocently, noting with interest Daniel’s careful steps as he heads round me to his chair.  He freezes for a moment and shoots me a hard look when he hears the word ‘dress’ but I look blandly back.  Daniel sniffs haughtily and eases even more carefully onto the chair.

“Indeed.”

That guy, whatsisname, shacked up with Drey’ac, the one I killed…nope, it’s gone, anyway, HIM, I do remember he wore a dress…

“…tunic…”

Whatever, Daniel.  I’m not big on fashion when it comes to dresses.  That guy I killed wore a dress just like this one, reminded me of something Ben Hur would wear, vaguely Roman.  He didn’t look as good in it as Daniel, and I definitely don’t remember those pleats being quite so…flirty…when he walked.

It’s charming.  The entire ensemble.  Totally charming.  Daniel suits that dark grey, it brings out his eyes; the leather offers some protection and the skirt is flirty.   Short and flirty.  “At least the boots are made for walking,” I say cheerfully.  And the thighs…Whoo MOMMA!

Daniel turns his back on me.


“I do not care to wear this uniform again, O’Neill,” Teal’c bitches as he strides along the road towards the city.

“At least you’re not in a dr…”

Daniel ‘looks’ at me and picks up his stalking pace.

“Tunic,” I amend smoothly.  “I don’t care for this uniform either, Teal’c.  In fact, I frigging hate it.  It’s heavy.  It’s hot.  It’s METAL.  Metal conducts heat.  It ITCHES.  I HATE it.  I just don’t have the thighs for the…”  Daniel looks at me again so I amend dress to…”Tunic.”

We’re a happy band of travellers.

Sirio highly doubted his Jaffa would back us up if they heard Teal’c own up to being THE Shol’va, so we’re strictly on our own.  The kid wanted to come with us, but I didn’t like the unmistakeable whiff of martyr floating in the air.  I want to live through this, kill the loveless fucker, give the kids a choice and a chance, book, and get home to have some nice sex and go on my frickin’ date with Daniel.  I’ve wanted nothing else for years and now I get to have him, I’ve got no intention whatsodamnever of fucking it up by dying in some corner of a foreign field forever Minnesota.

I’d much rather be fucking in a field in Minnesota.

Fucking is very much on my mind as Daniel marches in front of me.  He doesn’t look remotely girly, especially not with the staff weapon he’s carrying so confidently.  He looks hot, and not in the way I’m hot.  Actually he’s hot that way too, sort of glistening there, but that just makes him…and his muscles…hotter.

Teal’c never looks hot.  I swear, Junior is like a medical kit come air conditioner.  It’s intensely aggravating.

Can they just AMBUSH us already?  Is that TOO much to ASK?  I know they’re there.  Three on my left flank, four on my right.  Pacing us.  They’re leaving us alone because we’re headed right where they want us to go.  God knows we’re doing everything but the hi-ho song to grab their attention, make it crystal clear Teal’c and we are exactly who we say we are.  All the better to kill them with, I hope.

Daniel is striding along, watchful and listening as he’s learned to be; a little tense, maybe, but I’m pretty certain he doesn’t realise how close the bad guys are.  I’m in no rush to tell him.  Teal’c and I are watching.  If it goes down, that’s time enough for Daniel to know.

He’s already killed two men today and that’s more than the quota I wanted him to have to kill in his lifetime.  There are times when Daniel just blows me away, and today was one of them.  Going up against two armed, trained Jaffa because he believed my ass was on the line.  Going hand to hand – Jeez.  Maybe Daniel isn’t trained to think like we do, but then we can’t be trained to think like he does.  I got this crap drilled into me so I don’t think at all; I just flow right into it, go with my gut and my training, how it FEELS more than how it looks, and I’ve got nothing but respect for the man who thinks his way clear and does the job regardless.  Maybe not as efficiently, but he’s – we are still alive and that is all that matters.  Daniel covers our backs, he’s there for us, and it’s as much as we ask of ourselves.  Harder on him, we know that, but…

“Heads up,” I hiss a warning, spinning to face the muffled foot fall I hear behind me, staff charged, braced to fire.

“Jack,” Daniel calls.

I hear ya.  Got my hands full here.  My three guys and…I risk a quick glance…Teal’c’s got the other four and Daniel has…

Teltus.

Looming large as life and in the words of my favourite author, this guy ain’t foaming at the mouth.  He’s foaming at the brain.  Not crazy.  Insane.  And he’s got a charged staff weapon right in Daniel’s face.

This is gonna be bad.

“O’Neill?” Teal’c tersely calls for my order.

“Give it up,” I snap, hittin’ the off-switch.

“You are not fools,” Teltus purrs.

I see where the kid got the mannerisms from, but Sirio’s voice didn’t make my skin crawl.  This soft-spoken murdering psycho fuck jolts me right in the old fight or flight gland.

Teltus steps right up to Daniel and curves a large, capable hand over his shoulder, gently turning him.

Daniel glances back to me questioningly as I let the bad guys take my staff and herd me along, Teal’c submitting with ill-grace also.  I shrug and Daniel turns away, ramrod straight as Teltus eases him along.

Teltus isn’t a fool either.  Daniel was in the favoured position, the only one not in armour, the vulnerable one.  The one we care for.  He’s got to know Daniel is also our trigger point.  He takes Daniel, he dies.  This is a warning.  He knows, we know.  Insane, not crazy.  Trained.  No mistakes.

I hate him just that bit more.

“Colonel Jack O’Neill,” I announce aggressively, moving ahead of my escort.  “I’m sure you already know Teal’c, and this is Dr Daniel Jackson.  I assume we need no introduction.”

“We’re peaceful travellers,” Daniel interjects in the same tone I get right before I shoot someone.

Teltus pats Daniel’s cheek insultingly gently and is clearly amused when Daniel flinches away from him, eyes smouldering.

I know at least a part of that is Daniel’s annoyance with himself for reacting, betraying a weakness to an enemy.  He tries.

“You will release my friend or I will kill you where you stand,” Teal’c says smoothly.  “Ally or no.”

Teal’c HAS grasped our plan is get the device THEN kill the fucker?  As in get the device FIRST?

Teltus is aware of the eyes on us, the not so subtle and frankly awed glances sidling Teal’c’s way.  And ours.  His followers certainly won’t understand if he puts true believers to death the moment he lays eyes on us.  He settles for a compromise, setting his hand back on Daniel’s shoulder in what looks like a friendly clasp.

“Come.  We are friends, are we not?  Enemies of the false gods?”

Teal’c bows slightly.

“The dead false gods,” I remind him cheerfully, playing to the gallery.

Daniel tolerates the hold Teltus has on him, stalking along head held high, totally ignoring the presence of his escort.  The psychos are always drawn to Daniel.  I’ve no idea why.

Teal’c slips back to walk at my side, eyeing Teltus broodingly, particularly that lingering hand.  I give Teal’c a cool look.  Can he a) not change plans on me AFTER I’ve handed over my weapon, and b) not gallantly shield my linguist from stiff breezes and the headcase of the day.  The job is very definitely taken.

I am not SO irrational I don’t know Teltus is only interested in messing with our minds, not Daniel’s ass.  Being Daniel’s lover is not going to make me believe everyone with a pulse is after him.  I glance at Teal’c, wall to wall charisma, handsome and wonderful, courageous and noble, and grit my teeth.  Hard.

No more so than before, anyway.


We’ve walked steadily through the forest for around two hours now.  Sirio was right.  The Kresh’taa are the cream of the Jaffa crop round these parts.  They glide through the trees silently, constantly patrolling around us, checking and re-checking.

Teal’c is marching proudly at my side, brooding over the way Teltus has Daniel still clamped to his side.  It’s an obvious hostage ploy, but it’s also having an impact on the Kresh’taa who are furtively looking Daniel’s way more and more.

Everything the kids do is furtive.  I’ve yet to see them look one another or us in the eye.  There’s plenty of interest, AVID interest, but no contact.  It feels…off.  All my alarm bells are ringing and they haven’t done a damn thing.  Their discipline and field manoeuvres are impeccable.  Teltus can order with a look or a softly spoken word.  They just have this raw edge to them, a tension I don’t like.  These kids are making me nervous and I that’s something else I don’t like.  They’re soldiers, and even Jaffa banter and tell jokes.  They’re PEOPLE.  These kids…nothing.  I look at them and get nothing.  They can’t look me or their fellows in the eye.  I know Teal’c well enough to know HE’S freaked by the dynamic here and Daniel…shit, I can feel the tension he’s radiating from here.

This whole thing is a lie, but Teltus has yet to strike a false note as he plays these kids.  We’re deep in the forest when they could have been hiding out in cells in the city in comfort.  Keeping the kids in need, in the wild, on top of each other keeps him on top.  They never get a chance to lose their focus, and if they do, they’ll have their band of brothers down on them like the wrath of…Aw, jeez.  What a frickin’ cliché.  Underground caves.  Well, whoop de doo.  Running water, but obviously not the hot kind.

This isn’t any kind of resistance movement.  It’s a cult, and Teltus is playing their god.  Where have we seen this before?

Teltus turns to address the kids as we reach the cave entrance.  “I will take council with these,” he announces grandly, gesturing at Teal’c and myself, hugging Daniel expansively to his side like a politician with a photogenic baby and an election looming.  “It is time for the Gathering,” he says meaningfully.  “Await my return!” he orders, finally freeing Daniel who heads straight over to us as Teltus turns and heads into the cave,

Teal’c and I step apart so Daniel winds up gratefully sandwiched between us.  The tightness of his face and his lack of protest at being so blatantly ‘protected’ tells its own tale.  A warning look from Teal’c has us standing tall, but we obediently keep our yaps shut.

A ripple of anticipation runs through the kids as Teltus emerges several minutes later with Zat guns and a young Jaffa in tow.  They step forward to each take a Zat, then melt off into the trees in two parties.

Hunting parties?  That’s what Sirio said, how the Kresh’taa hunted his people.  God, I hope not.  I don’t want to have to deal with that as well as what’s going to go down getting the force field device and ourselves away from Teltus to start with.

“Come, friends,” Teltus invites grandiloquently, the mask not slipping for a second.

We got eyes on us right now.  Sentries?  Out there in the trees, maybe.  Twenty followers.  Eight accounted for in the hunting parties.  Let’s see what we’ve got in the cave.  There have to be people home, or Teltus would have us chained to the wall.  I follow hard on his heels, checking out the racks near the entrance.  Ten staff weapons to each rack on either side of the opening.  The cavern is rough, strewn with boulders and natural platforms at various heights.  It’s also dry and there’s this smell that has Daniel and me wrinkling our noses.  Smells like…there’s a sweetness.  Odd.  Do the Jaffa cremate their dead?  Why do it in the cave complex, which I can see extends behind the main chamber?

Why do it apart from intimidation?  The constant reminder of their victims is just another way to keep the kids down, keep control.

Contemptible bastard.

Teltus leads us to a platform raised high above the others, the only one to have a small cave behind it.  The sicko likes his privacy, huh?  Must be where he keeps the toys.  Teal’c and Daniel are taking note, Daniel’s eyes cataloguing every shadowy shape he can make out inside as we take a seat by the fire.

I count six kids moving quietly around the cave; with the eight already out hunting, that leaves six on sentry duty.  We’re going nowhere right now.  Got no idea of those patrol routes the hunters are taking.  BAD odds for a running battle.

“You do battle with the forces of the false god Cronus?” Teal’c asks smoothly before Teltus can get a word in.

I smirk as sicko’s face stiffens, then he gets control and bows slightly.

“A dead false god,” Daniel reminds Teal’c chattily.

I think I need to have that snake-baiting talk with him again.  He’s pissed off every Goa’uld we’ve met from Ra onwards.  He’s amazingly gifted, and it works on sickos too.  Teltus goes postal here, it looks like Danny will be the first to buy the farm.

“The big guy here killed him,” I interject smoothly, jerking my thumb at Teal’c, who inclines his head gravely.

“Up close and personal.”

Jesus.  I glare at Action Jackson and he subsides.  Slightly.

“You will join with us in rejoicing at this great news,” Teal’c says calmly.  “The pitiful remnants of the false god’s servants are of no concern.  They are led by a mad child.  Our allies the Tau’ri will finish them.  You are free.  Your battle here is won.”

I’m as aware of our audience as Teal’c.  He doesn’t have to yell for his words to carry.  The acoustics are excellent.  I can certainly hear the muttering from behind us, as well as see the sudden tension in Teltus.  Guess that was good news he wasn’t expecting.  His control just slipped a little.

“Your allies?” Teltus looks at Daniel and myself.  “These?”

“Indeed.”

“They are but two, and this one not a warrior-born.” Teltus eyes Daniel disparagingly.

Subtle.  I think we’ve grasped that we’re outnumbered, just like I know Teltus has grasped exactly why we’re risking our asses here.  I’m not exactly a horse’s ass myself.   Sicko’s raison d’etre just bought it from a staff weapon and his position is looking shaky already. The kids must be sick to death of the cave dwelling survivalist crap.  They’ve won their battle.  Time to let ‘em know.  “We’re also allied with the Tok’ra and they are always on the look out for intelligence in their war against the Goa’uld.  I’m sure they’ll find a spot for your people.  I’ll ask Selmak when he drops by to pick us up in the Peltak,” I say easily.   “Basic model, but it gets us around.”

Teltus scowls as the kids react excitedly to news of the ship.  I guess he hasn’t told THEM he’s got the keys to this prison they’re locked in.

“The Tok’ra plan to establish a base here so they may conduct raids on the Goa’uld, already distracted by the war that rages amongst the System Lords,” Teal’c says smoothly.  “The threat from Cronus Taurus Guards will be eliminated and you may all leave this place.”

Not bad.  “We snowed the kid in charge royally” I add.  “He let us go because he believes his pitiful band of wannabes has been claimed by another System Lord who’s coming to take them all away to fight the good fight.  They do get to go, but to the Tok’ra.”  Let’s not have him thinking we’re helpless here.  We just need to buy a little time to find this device and kill the sicko.

A cry goes up from the kids in the cave and Teltus flashes Teal’c a triumphant glance as he leaps to his feet.   A moment later one of the hunting parties erupts into the cave with a desperately struggling boy kicking, biting and clawing at them, totally gone from fear.  He’s not in armour, so I’m guessing he was taken in the fields Sirio has his people tending.

Crap.

Daniel is up and going after Teltus before Teal’c or I can stop him, storming right down there after him.  “The man does not change,” I grumble as we hare off after him.

Teltus takes the chin of the terrified kid in his hand and stares deeply into his eyes.  “Do you renounce your false god?” he asks silkily.

The boy nods jerkily.

I wince.  Poor kid knows he’s gonna die.  He’ll do anything he has to in order to survive, and it’s not gonna happen.  Sicko must get off on torturing them.

“I do not believe you,” Teltus says softly.  “It is fear that speaks but we will cleanse you, turn your feet from this path you blindly walk.  You will see the truth.  There are no gods but dead, false gods.  THESE,” he roars, gesticulating at Teal’c, “KILLED your god with their own hand.  Are we not taught a god may not be killed?  They live and rise again.  Is that not the way?”

The boy doesn’t know what the hell the right answer is to that one.

“The Goa’uld parasites use technology to repair the bodies of their hosts,” Daniel interjects sharply.  “You all know about the power of the sarcophagus?” he challenges the crowd, waiting for nods of recognition.  “I’ve used it myself,” he snaps.  “It’s just a machine that repairs the cells that make up our bodies.”

“As you would maintain your weapon, so the Goa’uld maintain the bodies of their hosts,” Teal’c adds.

The boy shoots a look of mad gratitude at Daniel.  “Our lords arise from the sarcophagus as this one says.  This I have seen with my own eyes.  The machine,” he says carefully, “Allows them to walk among us again.”

Nice recovery.

“I too have risen from the dead in a sarcophagus,” Teal’c announces.  “The false god…”

“DEAD false god,” I interrupt.

“Apophis used its power to return me to life after I was struck down.”

“That is forbidden,” one of the kids in the crowd gasps.

“Indeed,” Teal’c bows.  “Through the power of this machine I was made to believe my friends were my enemies and the parasite was my GOD,” he snarls.

“We were able to bring you back from that, though,” Daniel calls out for the audience at home, proving once more just why it was I took him into my team in the first place.

He never, ever stops thinking.

Teal’c bows again, picking up on his cue.  “Master Bra’tac removed my Prim’ta and invoked the Rite of Mal’Sharran,” he says gravely.

A gasp runs through the entire crowd, the kids literally rocked back on their heels.  They ALL know who Master Bra’tac is.  It doesn’t occur to any of them to doubt HIM.

“But you live!”

“He’s the only Jaffa to have done so,” Daniel ripostes.  “Teal’c chose to LIVE free instead of dying free.”

“It is the choice I offer every man,” Teal’c tells Teltus coldly as he steps in front of the boy.  “Renounce your false god and join our cause and you will walk free from this place.  You have my word on that, and the word of these men.”

The boy drops his head, plainly disbelieving and too afraid to take the risk.

“YOU DARE TO DOUBT ME?” Teal’c roars, making everyone jump.  “Are we not JAFFA?  A life without HONOUR is MEANINGLESS.  If my word means nothing, I may as well be dead.”

Niiiice.  I see the power of that passionate condemnation SLAM into the kids below, even Teltus flinching back from Teal’c’s rage for an instant.

“Don’t be afraid,” Daniel tells the boy kindly.  “I’ve never known Teal’c to break his word.  He’ll keep it now, whatever the cost.  He killed Ammonet to save my life, even though her host was my wife.  Teal’c did what he had to in order to save my life, and he will do no less for you.  Renounce your false god and you WILL walk free.  Teltus too will give his word.”

“I would expect no less,” Teal’c snaps.

The restless kids look from Teal’c to Teltus and back, shifting awkwardly.  Teltus has no choice.  If he pushes it, the kids will want to know why.  Teal’c and Daniel just defused the power of the last rite.  Teltus has no choice but to save face.  He also has to think of securing his position with the Tok’ra.  He probably suspects it’s a crock but he doesn’t KNOW and he can’t take risks.

“Renounce your false god and join with us,” he says grudgingly.

The boy looks to Daniel, wide eyed.

Daniel nods reassuringly.

“C-cronus is a f-false g-g-god,” the boy stammers.  “I p-pledge my allegiance to these,” he nods to Teal’c and Daniel.

“You speak well,” Teal’c approves.  “You will return to your brothers and tell them of the death of their false god at my hands.”

The robot’s hands.  In the interests of accuracy and all that.

“You can also tell them those who renounce the false gods can join with the Tok’ra when they come for us,” I add.

“It will not be possible,” Teltus smirks.  “My followers must all know this Jaffa has joined with us or he will be taken and killed for being so close to this place.  He will remain with us until dawn and given safe passage.  My WORD on it.”

Slippery bastard.  Teal’c has no choice but to agree.

“Take him to the pit,” Teltus orders brusquely.  “For his own safety,” he adds.

Shit.  A hostage situation.  This just gets better and better.


Daniel huddles thankfully between Teal’c and me as even the roaring fire in the pit below us does little to beat back the deadening chill striking out from the rocks behind us.

I don’t like caves.  I hate the vulnerability.  A cave is defensible but it’s also a trap if you engage a superior force and this cave…sheesh.  I don’t blame Daniel for being spooked.  That smell…faint but pervasive.  It’s a smell that has Teal’c rigid, roiling with barely contained rage.  A sweet, sick smell, much more noticeable after the hours we’ve spent in the cave.

It’s a smell Daniel clearly knows too.

It’s a funeral pyre. I’m sure of it now.  Charred remains, still smouldering, somewhere deep.  Away from us, but the smell clings to everyone and everything.  The Jaffa Teltus has hostage is right down there with it.  God knows what he’s going through.  The smell used to be his friends.  Teltus is one seriously sick fuck.

The Kresh’taa move about the cave efficiently and in dead silence.  The mood has changed now there are more of them.  Sirio’s guys don’t dare set foot outside the garrison at night and all the kids are home.  There’s no sense of connection here, no bonding.  Daniel is tracking every movement and the way he’s huddling back against the rock face is shrieking how freaked he is.  Both Teal’c and I have sidled surreptitiously closer until we’re pressed right up against him.

I know.  Teal’c knows.  “These Kresh’taa kids are shit scared,” I murmur.  Not of us, maybe not even of Teltus, but of themselves.  They can’t even look one another in the eye, look at them.”  I’m shit scared.  “This isn’t even a mob, guys, it’s a pack.  At rest right now, but Christ, we play this wrong, they’ll tear us apart.”  They know what they’ve done, they know what they are now.  Irredeemable.

A boy sidles up to our spot and drops gracefully to his knees, proffering a bowl of…looks like meat.  To Daniel.  Several of the boys have passed by with drinks, blankets, fruit.  All of them waved over to us by Teltus, sitting alone above us all. The rest of them sleep where they fall, around the various fire pits.

Everything, every single thing has come to Daniel.  What he doesn’t want, we don’t get.  We lost the fruit, but Daniel is quick.  He got us the water and the blankets, and he’s shuddering now, but he’s accepting the meat too.

I cringe.  The boy holds onto the bowl until Daniel’s hand brushes against his, just like each of the others have, and backs away shyly.  Daniel is a very kind man, he hates what these kids have done, what they’ve become, but he walks his fine line as always and doesn’t hate them.  Every one of them has stumbled away dazed and gloating over a kind look and softly murmured thanks.

Part of me is frantic.  Teltus is pissed as hell at us but firmly under control.  These kids haven’t been laid in God knows how long, and Daniel is delectable on his worst day.  He’s also somewhat naïve about this stuff and I don’t think his mind is in quite the same place mine is.  He muttered something hopeful about a humanising influence and Teal’c and I have let him be.  We both love him, and maybe he’s right about that.  The kids can’t look at each other or at Teal’c, especially after all he had to say about lives without honour not being worth living, but they can look at Daniel and so long as he isn’t jumping out of his skin every time they look at him and think about fucking him…

I’m not jumping out of my skin because Teal’c isn’t and though normal rules don’t apply here, he knows what’s going on far better than me, or Daniel for that matter, for all his sensitivity.

Teal’c gets jumpy, I’m killing anyone that isn’t us.

“Scholars are revered in Jaffa society,” Teal’c explains kindly.

O-kaay.  A TAD jumpy here.

“The Goa’uld forbid learning to Jaffa children.  They must travel the path of the warrior or priest to be taught the glyphs.  Scribes are few, and most honoured.  A learned man such as DanielJackson is rare indeed, and valued accordingly.”

“They’ve tried to shoot him as quick as the rest of us,” I argue.

“In combat all are targets.  You do not know my people, O’Neill.  You have not lived among us,” Teal’c contradicts with quiet dignity.

“Is that why you were willing to leave us, Teal’c?  You were so determined to help Sha’nauc teach your people,” Daniel suggests hesitantly.

Teal’c bows.  “Indeed.  Jaffa embrace ALL learning as they are able.  Craftsmen are honoured in their villages for the knowledge they possess and the skills they may teach.”  His voice hardens.  “It is another way the Goa’uld enslave my people.  They channel our thirst for knowledge, for the betterment of our children, in ways they alone control.  Women are kept ignorant and it is that which drives the best and brightest into the priesthood.  Even the Ro’tak are honoured for the learning they are permitted.”

“Ah!” I cut Daniel off as he leans in, face alight.  “I KNOW.  I know it’s FASCINATING but this is SO not the time OR the place.”  I look significantly at Teltus.

Daniel sighs and turns to face me.  A lot going on in those troubled eyes, a lot.

“I’ve been thinking about the Kresh’taa,” Daniel gestures out at the cave.  “It’s obvious to me their social structure has broken down, they’re not interacting on any significant interpersonal level.  It makes them dangerous but it also makes them vulnerable.  I know that Teal’c or one of us has to break the hold Teltus has on them but that alone won’t be enough.  We’ve laid the groundwork, but we need to offer them an alternative.  We need to offer them hope.  I’m saying we should invite them to come with us, let them know they can be redeemed, that they have value in our eyes.”

“They do not,” Teal’c says flatly.  “It would be a subterfuge only, to draw them away that Sirio might kill them and end the threat to those he has made himself responsible for.”

“I…I know that, Teal’c,” Daniel admits with difficulty, “I know we can’t.  I want to but we can’t.  I mean it…” he turns instinctively to me.

“Tactically,” I reassure him, touching my hand fleetingly to his tightly clenched one.  Then I look at the bowl.  Shit.  Sometimes my rank weighs heavier than my conscience.  I just gotta be the one to dig in first.  I reach out but Teal’c beats me to the punch, scooping out a chunk of meat dripping juices.  Daniel and I both watch breathlessly as he chews and finally nods.

I…if this ain’t recognisably chicken or something I DON’T want to know.  I’ve learned way too much about Teal’c for my peace of mind as it is.  Not rushing in where linguists fear to tread ever again.  I glance at Daniel and take the plunge.  He’s gotta eat something and if it isn’t chicken I’ll…I won’t.  I won’t lie to him.  He trusts me not to.  Anyway, food is a biggie, with his sinuses, his sense of taste can be for shit and he literally doesn’t know what he’s eating sometimes.  Texture with no scent or taste is…bizarre.  Like going through life with a permanent head cold.

I take a deep breath, scoop, chew round the edges to soften and gulp down.  “Okay,” I wheeze and Daniel relaxes.  It doesn’t taste like that…smell.

Daniel looks relieved and cautiously scoops out his own portion, just as cautiously chews and swallows.

I’d sell my soul for the contents of Daniel’s freezer right now.

“I’ve been thinking…” Daniel begins.

“Tactically?” I interrupt.

Daniel smiles at me.  “I think I should be the one to go after Teltus.”

“No,” Teal’c and I refuse instantly.

“The Kresh’taa won’t listen to me or to you, Jack, but they will listen to Teal’c and you can back him up,” Daniel says serenely.

The Kresh’taa listened to him pretty good back there, and they’d like to listen to him a whole lot more.  A whole lot.  Teal’c and I lean around Daniel and look at one another, check, make certain we’re on the same page here.  Then we lean back.

“No.”

“Were you going after the primal public execution?” Daniel snaps.  “The most dangerous scenario I can imagine with the level of desperation and disassociation these Kresh’taa are suffering from?  Their core identity, their honour and belief system have been systematically attacked and stripped from them by the manipulations of a sociopath.  Their moral centre has been overwritten by their participation in the ritual torture and killing of their brethren.  Those who were once their friends and brothers in arms, Jack,” he argues passionately.  “What they’ve become is ugly, and they possess enough sense of self to know it, but all we see is the…the PACK at rest.”

Daniel looks around the cave edgily, watching the kids eating or maintaining their weapons.

He’s right.  There is tension here, simmering below the surface.  Discipline has broken down and some of the smaller, weaker kids are afraid of the others, hanging well back, deliberately not drawing attention.  A pack at rest can get restless very quickly, and lacking the fuel to light their pyre, they’ll look closer to home.

“I used the term ‘ecstasy’ advisedly, Jack,” Daniel warns.  “Many religions have focused on oblation – ritual sacrifice – as a way to commune with or propitiate their gods.  These Kresh’taa are reversing that, saving their comrades from what they know to be the lies of false gods.  Do you know what ecstasy IS?”

That’s a loaded question.  Just rewind to the shower and…

“A state of temporary mental alienation and altered or diminished consciousness,” Daniel explains clinically.  “We DO NOT want to trigger that.  We would NOT survive.”

“There is merit in your counsel, DanielJackson,” Teal’c agrees heavily.  “There is that darkness within all of us…”

Tell me about it.  Some of us have it closer to the surface than others.  “What are you suggesting, Daniel?  We just let you waltz in there and try to kill an armed, trained and above all PSYCHOTIC Jaffa?”

“To rise to be Dis’tra requires formidable skills in battle,” Teal’c warns.

“True,” Daniel agrees.  “But I’m not a soldier.  He won’t be so wary around me.  I can at least get in there and talk to him, find the device if it’s there.”

“What were you planning to talk to him ABOUT?” I snarl.

“Faith.”

Daniel has that look in his eyes again.

“No.  No way.  You cannot reason with a madman and if you think I’m going to let you march in there and try to nail him to the wall with LOGIC you’ve got another think coming.  He’ll kill you if you push him hard enough to threaten this delusion he’s labouring under.”

“I agree, O’Neill.  It would be very dangerous to challenge Teltus in this way, DanielJackson.  Teltus lives a great lie to use it against those who began by trusting him and with every breath he drags them deeper into his lie,” Teal’c’s voice is rising steadily.

Daniel is looking up, startled and anxious but I’m already up and moving.  The boy with the fruit is back, well within earshot, mouth gaping and…

Crap.

“It’s a lie,” the boy hisses.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agrees kindly.

“YOU LIE!” he screams hysterically, drawing attention.  Lots and lots of attention.

“I do not.  I am Master Teal’c of Chulak, slayer of Hathor, Seth, Apophis…”

“Thrice,” I interject.

“And Cronus,” Teal’c booms.  “I have slain false gods and had them weep in fear and grovel at their end.  They have not the courage and honour we Jaffa live by.”

He didn’t actually SLAY all of them.  I personally took out Ra, Hathor and Apophis a coupla times.  It sounds good, I’ll admit that, but it’s NOT strictly true.  Not strictly.

Daniel helped.  And Carter.

“You DARE to brand ME liar?” Teal’c menaces the boy, rising smoothly to his feet and stalking down the rough slope to the cave floor, the boy backing up before him.

“You stay behind me, you hear!” I snap at Daniel.  “I gotta worry about what’s in front of me.  I DON’T want to worry about what’s behind me.”

Daniel nods tightly, pale but controlled.  He’s plenty mad, hell, I’m close myself, he’s right about confrontation.  Right about the other stuff…Fuuuuck.

Teltus storms down from his platform as Teal’c backs the boy into the centre of the cave.  I’m right behind him and Daniel was right behind me, but the silently gathering crowd gets between us.  Hands snatch at Daniel, yank him viciously away from me.

I turn to find him in the grip of meat boy and water boy but the pack closes in between us.  They’re still silent, still watchful as Teal’c and I move back to back as Teltus pushes his way in through their ranks.  I watch the boys holding Daniel.  They’re touching, still careful, still admiring, but with that growing awareness normal rules don’t apply.  They don’t have to ask.  They can TAKE.  I see the excitement take hold and Daniel’s eyes meet mine for an instant, then he turns to water boy and says something, obviously an invitation, the other boy backs off a step.

“O’Neill?” Teal’c hisses.

“I’m watching.  He’s okay right now.  Handling it.”

“I must kill Teltus, and you must…”

“Keep the pack down, got it.” HATE it.  Danny is on his own out there.  I REALLY didn’t want to look for the device AFTER we killed Teltus.

Water boy reaches out to touch Daniel’s hair and Daniel’s hands come up to his shoulders, grasp, pull the boy forward as Daniel drops like a limp noodle, his foot planted solidly between them, driving up to flip the boy over his head as they fall, smashing him up and over into the cave floor.  Both Daniel’s feet power out to slam into the groin of meat boy and he howls and drops, drawing the interest of one of the bastards in front of me.  He turns, watches as Daniel scrambles to his feet and spins to stamp hard on water boy’s outflung hand before kicking him solidly under the jaw.

My guy makes the slightest move and I’m on him, yanking him into the circle and a textbook triangular chokehold as Teal’c and Teltus spit that caramel Jaffa insult at one another, a definite Ha’taaka, a lot of what sounds like throat clearing and grunting.  A ripple runs through the pack as my guy passes out.  I hold on a tad longer, long enough to be sure oxygen deprivation is killing him and let him drop.  He’s no threat to me now but this big mother right in front of me is, and Teal’c needs room to work.  I move lightly forward, poised and waiting for the kid to work up the nerve, let me use his own momentum against him.

He darts forward and I move in to meet him, dipping my knees as I dodge his fist, coming up inside his swing to drive my forearm into his nose with all my body weight behind it, slamming the cartilage deep into his forebrain.  He’s dead before he hits the ground.

The circle closes again, still unnervingly silent.

I hear harsh panting and grunting, and not all of that is from behind me.  Daniel’s got both his guys down and he’s keeping them down, catching meat boy in the ribs with a solid kick that flips him onto his face, then he’s off like a greyhound for Teltus’ quarters and the…THE ZATS.  Of course!  The staff weapons are racked by the cave entrance and the only private space is Teltus’ quarters.  Sirio told us they hunt with Zats and we haven’t seen one around the cave.  Teltus had to get them from somewhere.  There’s nowhere else they could be without going into another part of the cave system, and that’s too far to mount a credible defence if they’re attacked.

Way to go Daniel.

Hey.  Who’s this guy?  Gettin’ cocky here, huh?  In fact, they’re all starting to look a tad…restive.  Wild around the eyes.  I wish I knew what the fuck Teal’c was hollering back there but it’s slamming into them.  If we’re trying to shame them into something I doubt it’s going to…SHIT he’s FAST.  I dodge at the last instant as the kid barrels past me, clipping me in the shoulder hard enough to spin me and his eyes shifting is all the warning I have as a slim wire drops past my eyes and onto my desperately scrabbling hand.  GOTCHA.  The wire is cutting into my fingers as I slam my head back, hear the satisfying crunch of bone, take up the sudden slack to drive my elbow into my attacker’s solar plexus, then I got the loosening wire as he grunts, reach up to grab his arms and step forward, dipping to flip him over my head.  I have to jump to clear the body on the ground as the first guy closes in, then I slip outside his swing, sliding my forearms either side of his elbow, jerking them together hard.  The kid howls as I break his arm and my knee smacks into his face as he drops.

Hallelujah, praise the lord and LINGUISTS, Daniel is right behind them, a coupla Zats arcing over the heads of the pack towards me, then he’s Zatting the crap out of meat boy and water boy as I Zat my two guys.

“Jack?” Daniel calls.

“Do it.”

I spin to my right and start firing as Daniel takes out the kids on the left, already breaking away for the front of the cave and their staff weapons at Teltus’ order to Kree the hell outta there.  I follow them around to the right as Daniel runs forward.

“TEAL’C!”

He’s got Teltus in a headlock but we’re outta time, he’s gotta do it NOW.  We’re losing these kids.  Daniel and I run forward, Zatting like madmen as the first coupla kids reach their staffs and turn, braced to fire.  Daniel dives for the ground as a blast almost takes his head off and I Zat the kid, rolling forward to come up on my knee firing at the other.

They’re not making a fucking SOUND, it’s eerie.  The only thing I hear is the harsh slap of flesh on flesh and then a howl goes up from the pack as Teal’c groans wrenchingly, low in his throat, and I turn to see Teltus hanging from his grip, scrabbling hands falling, neck at an impossible angle.  Teal’c drops him, throws up his arms and roars in triumph.

Daniel scrabbles to his feet and darts over to my side.  “You can come with us,” he cries.  “It’s over.  You’re FREE.”

Teal’c stalks over to our side and plants himself in front of us.

“This Ha’taaka lied to you all,” he spits.  “He believed the false gods had forsaken him and his belief drove him mad.  Teltus used you to kill all who opposed him.  Your brothers are not your enemy.  This man alone was your enemy and with his death you are truly free.  Cronus is DEAD, nothing keeps you here but your own will.  Come with us.  Leave this place of death and join your brothers once again.”

“We cannot!”

“Pledge your allegiance to your brothers and all will be well,” Teal’c swears.

Daniel looks away for a moment, but he stands steady.

I hope this works ‘cause we got nine armed Jaffa and no place to run.

“Sirio swears you will be welcomed,” Daniel calls.  “He wants peace and freedom for you all.”

“How can we?” a choked voice begs.  “We have killed…”

“Have we not all taken lives at the whim of a false god?” Teal’c snaps.  “A man will rise from that and go on.  We all live with shame.  We are Jaffa.  We were bred to serve those who enslaved us but I tell you now we will only be free when we serve ourselves.  We are few and those who believe the lies of the false gods are many.  Our people die every day for a lie.  Would you damn them to slavery while you feed off your shame?”

“You will take us from this place?” A desperate voice calls.

“Yes,” I call back without hesitation.  “Lower your weapons and we’ll take you with us.”

“Do you doubt our word?” Teal’c demands.  “Have I not done all that I have said?”

Yep.  That taste in the back of my throat IS bile.  This is definitely one I’ll be glad to let the Tok’ra field.

“Lay down your weapons and join with us,” Teal’c commands.

The kids look at one another for the first time since we got here, actually meet each other’s eyes, gazes skittering but looking.  Seeing.  The staff weapons start to drop.

I sidle up to Teal’c.  “Grab the kid in the pit and get them the HELL outta here,” I hiss.  “Fast as you can.”  While he still has the upper hand.

Teal’c bows and heads off to herd the kids into rounding up the Zatted, a couple of ‘em racing off to this pit to get Sirio’s boy, while Daniel turns wearily to sidestep Teltus’ corpse and head back up to his private quarters.  I help Teal’c get the walking wounded up and actually walking, one of Daniel’s and both of mine being carried out.

Teal’c pauses at the cave entrance and looks at me gravely.  All his fine words were the truth and they were lies.  I don’t know what the Tok’ra will do to them and I don’t want to know.

Teal’c’s eyes go to where Daniel is rooting around looking for the force field device.  “Sirio?” he asks softly.

“Hand the rebels over to Sirio and book for the gate, Teal’c, fast as you can.  I want us out of here before…”  I look back to Daniel too, then shake my head.  Daniel doesn’t need to know, and I want him away from here before he works it out.  I just hope the Tok’ra get here in time to save the kid because we can’t.  We need him to contain the situation long enough to get away.  Welcomed?  After this butchery?  I don’t think so.  And after the believers have dealt with the pack, they’ll go after Sirio.

Expedience is a goddamn bastard.


Daniel swipes the little rock over the snaky palmtop one last time, takes a deep breath and bends over the pedestal housing the force field device.  His fingers dance confidently over the glyphs in sequence, and when he activates the last of the five symbols needed he looks up at once.  “Ready.”

I’m on the business end.  I reach out my hand and swipe…nothing.

Daniel sags at the pedestal, his grip white knuckled for a moment.  He straightens at once and smiles at me tiredly as he makes his way over to my side.

It’s been a bastard.  I’d love to hug the shit out of him, but instead we stand side by side at the DHD waiting for Teal’c.  Daniel does what he always does, double checks.

“You okay?” I ask him quietly.

He looks up at me, the strain unmistakeable.  “No,” he answers, just as quietly.

My heart does that weird flop in my chest.  Can’t count the number of times he’s insisted ‘I’m fine’, or said no, and covered for it with ‘but I will be’.  A straight no is progress, suggests I’ll get the why of it later.  I keep right on scanning the perimeter as I rest my hand over his, smiling when his fingers turn in mine.  “Me either,” I admit comfortably.  Daniel’s fingers tighten.

“O’Neill!” Teal’c calls, running out into the clearing a few moments later.

“Dial it up, Daniel,” I order, heading over to Teal’c.

We meet up out of earshot of Daniel, Teal’c’s gaze going past me to check out for himself I got Daniel here in one piece.  I don’t take it personally.  Carter does the exact same thing, and so do I if I entrust him to one of them.  “Anybody left alive?” I ask grimly.

“One was set upon and beaten badly.  One of the men injured when DanielJackson defended himself.  He died.  A second still lives.  Sirio and I were able to put a stop to it.  The Kresh’taa are under guard, but the situation remains volatile.  Sirio promised the men their new lord would wreak his vengeance on the Shol’va and they know now we have betrayed them.” Teal’c looks bone weary.

I reach out, pat him on the arm.  “You did good.  We either betrayed them all or we saved them all, Teal’c, no easy answers on this one.”

Teal’c bows.  “If the Tok’ra can reach this place soon, they may yet save Sirio.  He maintains discipline for the moment.”

“Nothing we can do but ask, big guy.  You know that.”

“And DanielJackson?”

I grimace.  “Let’s not trouble him with anything he can’t work out for himself, huh?”

“And if he does?” Teal’c asks quietly.

“Make like a rug.”

“Jack?” Daniel shouts.

“Time to go.”

I turn and we head back to Daniel’s side, Teal’c striding up the steps and into the event horizon on my command, Daniel following, and I bring up the rear as always.

I step lightly out the other side, already adjusted for the increase in speed as the wormhole spits you out, not even noticing the chewed part these days.  I do notice the men with guns instantaneously.

“Colonel O’Neill?” a hesitant voice asks, and Major Willets steps out from behind the rest of SG-14.  “Sir, are you aware your current status is MIA?”

“How long?”

“Eight days, Sir,” Major Willets reports grimly.

Shit.

“Eight?” Daniel asks weakly.  “Sam will be FRANTIC.”

That’s an understatement.  And Fraiser will be sticking needles up my wazoo.  Literally.

“Well, while we’ve definitely seen some action, I can assure we’re not missing.  We’re on P3R-959,” I say smugly.  Eight days is BAD, but six and a half months is worse.  Eight days means we didn’t lose our reservations.  I don’t believe it.  I won’t have time to dress of course, not with only twenty-four hours to go, but we get our date.  THE date.  The HOT date.  Those aliens are still smug bastards though.  With tentacles.  “Gimme.”  I stalk forward, cupping my hand suggestively.  Willets backs off, looking slightly alarmed.  “Gimme the damn GDO.”

“P2X,” Daniel mutters.

“What?”

“P2X-959.”

“Thank you, Daniel.  Did we REALLY need to…”

“Sir, I can’t do that.  You could be…”

“What?  Evil clones?” I snap.

“Compromised.  I’ll have to ask you to surrender your weapons.”

“Will it get me into a hot bath one second sooner?”

Willets smiles suddenly.  “Guaranteed.”

I hand her my Zats.  “Annie’s got my gun,” I call happily to my kids.

“And she’s got orders to use them,” Annie snaps.  “Sir.”


Carter storms up the ramp the minute we step through, almost knocking Daniel on his ass.

“Daniel!” she cries, wrapping her arms around him in a fierce hug.

“Sam.”  Daniel hugs her back.

“Major Carter,” Teal’c greets her gently, taking the blindly reaching hand.

I clear my throat.

“I was scared SHITLESS,” Carter snaps.

I clear my throat more loudly.

“I’ll take a swab as soon as we get into the Infirmary, Sir,” Fraiser calls as she storms past too, making me jump.  “Daniel!”

Carter reluctantly backs off a few inches after a bit of a shove from Fraiser, and then Fraiser is checking Daniel out anxiously.  Latex just gets everywhere, doesn’t it?  Faces.  Arms.  Butts.

Am I going to have to hurt them?

“Colonel O’Neill,” Hammond calls with heart-felt gratitude.

I turn to him, beaming.  “PLEASE tell me you’re not shoving us in a cell and throwing away the key?” I whine shamelessly.  I just want to go HOME.

“Not at all.  You can take a load off as soon as Doctor Fraiser clears you medically.”  Hammond steps up onto the ramp and nods at the touching reunion.  “How’s our boy?”

“Crappy.  As are we all.”

“Rough out there, Jack?” Hammond asks softly.

I nod.  “We were kidnapped by aliens we never even saw.  They had us for a WEEK?  I swear, I thought it was a DAY.  A couple at most.  A week?”

Hammond nods gravely.

“Shit.  That’s freaky.”  I sigh.  “Then we got tossed out the wormhole without ever seeing who took us or finding out why and wound up in the Jaffa version of the ‘Lord of the Flies’.”

Hammond straightens up.

“We need to get the Tok’ra in there, Sir, ASAP.  These kids have gone NUTS.  Some kind of religious crisis.  The guy in charge freaked when Cronus left them out there in the middle of nowhere and then croaked on them, gathered up some of the Jaffa and started hunting the others and killing them.  We took him out and his pack are prisoners, but it’s a volatile situation.  Jaffa revenge thing,” I say softly.  “I don’t think many of those kids will be alive if we wait too long, especially the kid trying to hold it all together.  Can you contact the Tok’ra, Sir?  Please.”

I feel Daniel’s presence before he reaches me.

“Please, General.  They deserve a chance.  It was all so…pointless,” Daniel asks wearily.

“Of course,” Hammond agrees soothingly, reaching out to clasp Daniel’s shoulder comfortingly.  “See to it, Major.”

“Yes, Sir,” Carter acknowledges smartly.  She pauses at the bottom of the ramp and smiles up at me.  “Good to have you back, Sir.  All of you.”

Sniffling myself, here.

“Debriefing in one hour.  Doctor?”

“That’ll be fine, Sir,” Fraiser answers briskly.

“I am well,” Teal’c insists.

She’s fully occupied.  I wonder if I can just…

“NOW, Colonel.”


“A week?” I ask again.

“Yes, Sir,” Carter confirms sympathetically.  She’s practically plastered to Teal’c’s side.  He doesn’t seem to mind.

“Damn,” I say weakly, sagging in my chair, carefully.  I glare at Fraiser.  She took about a quart of blood and left me with a pincushion for an ass.  I could be going out on the town in sweats at this rate.  I think of my chinos and shudder.  They’re TIGHT.  “A WEEK?”

I must look as beat as I feel.  That’s about the tenth time I’ve asked in as many minutes and no one is getting on my case, not even Daniel, who’s plastered to my side and for the record, I don’t mind a bit.  I’m feeling clingy and protective myself.

The only good thing is the Tok’ra are sending in a small force of operatives to lend an assist to Sirio right now.  They know the situation and they were willing to help.  Guess even Jacob is feeling misty-eyed about us.  Or Daniel, probably.  Usually.

“A week,” Daniel sighs.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agrees.

Carter pats his arm gently.

I think I could get away with pulling Daniel on my lap right now, they’re so happy to see us.

“When you didn’t make your check-in, we sent through a MALP, then a UAV, and found nothing, no trace of you at all,” Hammond informs us quietly.

Carter and Fraiser look at each other. They look beat too.

“Major Carter volunteered to lead a rescue mission,” Hammond explains kindly, smiling at Carter, “But under the circumstances I regret I couldn’t allow it.  The risk to another team was too great.”

“Oh, no, no,” Daniel rushes to assure him.  “The DHD was booby trapped, any team you sent would have been retrieved by the aliens just like us.”

“They threw us back,” I say gloomily.  “Rejects.”

“We didn’t get a chance to communicate, they only allowed us to regain consciousness long enough to feed and water us, then we woke up on another planet,” Daniel says regretfully.

“In alternative apparel,” I explain carefully.

Daniel fingers his spare pair of glasses reflexively.  He’s still pissed he landed back on base fetchingly attired in his dress, which Carter and Fraiser, and the nurses, and a coupla clerks in for routine check-ups all admired immensely.  It’s going to be about a week and a half before he stops blushing every time one of them walks in the room and WAY longer than that before he forgives and forgets me using the word ‘flirty’ in his presence.

“And without our equipment and GDOs.”

“DanielJackson was most resourceful in recalling the research station on 959,” Teal’c praises.

“Sir?  About the aliens?  We really got nothing material to report.  A big grey round room.  That’s it.  That’s all we saw.  Driving me nuts, but still, that’s all we saw.  We’re not hurt or…fixed?” I prompt Fraiser.

“No, Sir.  My only concern is fatigue and a few days rest should clear that right up.  I found no evidence of invasive tests, damage or alteration to your bodies.  The MRIs are clean as a whistle and there’s no trace of alien technology or any kind of abnormality in your blood chemistry.  The aliens, whoever they were, must have been very advanced medically,” Fraiser reports.

I don’t know whether it’s better or worse they studied us for a week and then tossed us back.  At least they had a fuller picture before they rejected us.  “They coulda fixed my knees,” I grumble to Daniel.  It would have been something.  A point to it all.

“And the situation with the Jaffa?” Hammond asks gravely.

Daniel looks away from me edgily.

“As near as we can determine, the guy in charge, Teltus, was a true believer.  A fanatic.  We never got any straight answers, but I suspect this detachment had been alone on the planet for a while after the rest of the population was pulled back to more central parts of Cronus’ domain to support the war effort while he picked off Heru’ur’s territory.”  That’s my best guess anyway.  “The long and short of it is this guy Teltus flipped his lid, went whacko, believing his god had forsaken him.  He must have been ready to go over anything, you know?  He left the kids and headed out into the forest to flip in peace, and the kids started fighting among themselves.  They couldn’t get away because of the force field, and the kids who didn’t believe in the gods broke away and hooked up with Teltus.  Daniel believed…”

“I believe that Teltus’ wanted to punish those who shared his beliefs, but whose faith in their god remained strong, and he used the Kresh’taa to wage a war of attrition against them,” Daniel explains quietly.

“He was a terrorist, a fanatic.  The kid who wound up in charge of the survivors copied his mannerisms, the only way he knew to keep the men he was responsible for in line what with Teltus and his buddies picking them off one by one to help them see the false god light before they died brutally,” I chime in.  “Sirio supported our cover and asked for our assistance in stopping Teltus, Sir,” I go on.  “I felt it to be a tactical necessity given he controlled the gate.”

“No need to justify, Jack,” Hammond throws up a hand.  “You could not have let the situation go on as it was.  We do have moral obligations towards a defeated army.”

I nod thankfully.  “The situation was tense, and I was concerned for the safety of my team.  I decided the only course of action was to take Teltus out and the only viable strategy was to infiltrate his group.  Daniel had a clear understanding of the kind of hold Teltus had over his pack, and we were fully cognisant of the risks going in.  Daniel felt that Teltus would not be able to convincingly argue against Teal’c’s presence in his camp when his hold over the pack was based on subverting their own belief that the gods were false.  This proved to be correct.  Teal’c accused Teltus of lying to the kids and Teltus confronted him.  Daniel was attacked and was forced to defend himself using non-lethal force while I covered Teal’c as he attempted to expose Teltus.  I was attacked and was also forced to defend myself,” I report fluently.

“I attacked Teltus,” Teal’c says gravely.  “I attempted to convince the Kresh’taa that their leader was lying to them, but in their shame and grief they would not hear me.  I was concerned that with his position so obviously threatened, Teltus would lead them against us in what DanielJackson referred to as the ‘ecstasy’, a frenzy of killing which he was certain we would not survive.  I agreed with his assessment and felt the only way to reach them was to break the hold Teltus had over them.”

“Why do you keep referring to the pack?” Hammond asks.

Daniel laces his hands together on the table and finally looks up, a little pale but composed.  “Their social structure had broken down.  The ritual killings they were forced to participate in were destroying their belief systems and core values.  The behaviour patterns I observed were suggestive of deliberate patterns of disassociation, a disconnection from one another as culpable individuals, a subsumption of individuality into the ‘pack’ or collective as a whole.  They came together only to hunt or to kill, and while each kill strengthened the pack, it eroded the individual’s sense of self.”

I squeeze his arm for a moment, and he shifts awkwardly beneath my hand.

“We took DanielJackson’s advice and offered them the forgiveness and hope they sought,” Teal’c informs Hammond.  “The promise of a return to their brethren was enough to induce them to lay down their weapons and surrender.”

“We lied,” Daniel leans in to inform Hammond precisely.

“Indeed.”

“I honestly believe you had no choice,” Hammond says slowly.  “At least this way those boys have a chance to be rehabilitated.  If you’d left them, they would have gone on killing.”

Daniel nods jerkily.

“For the record, Sir, Daniel’s and Teal’c’s conduct on this mission was exemplary.  Unarmed, Daniel killed two Jaffa who were closing on my position, he was able to piece together the intelligence we needed to successfully retrieve the force field device and to resolve the situation on Planet…er…XX, he was balls-on accurate in his assessment of the situation in the cave, and he located the Zats that swung the balance of the fight in our favour, giving Teal’c time to reach the kids.  Teal’c killed eight Jaffa before he was captured, he killed Teltus and was able to convince the pack to disarm instead of attacking.  He also escorted the kids into custody single handed, securing our escape,” I report crisply.

Carter and Fraiser are staring sympathetically at Daniel, who is telegraphing emotional stability and reassurance back at them as hard as he can.

“Duly noted,” Hammond raps out.  “I’m proud of you all.  This was a difficult situation both tactically and morally and I fully support all of Colonel O’Neill’s command decisions and your individual actions.”

I nod, yadda, yadda.  “Now can we PLEASE go home?” I plead.  I will CRY if I have to.  Hello?  Reservations at the DALE STREET CAFÉ!  Do I have to spell it out here?

“Doctor?”

“I’m happy to release them with the proviso they rest,” Fraiser agrees promptly.  “I don’t want them back here until Monday, and then I’m ordering light duties.”

I nearly fall off my chair in shock.  That’s it?  We’re FREE?

“I will be happy to assist the Tok’ra in their relief efforts, General Hammond,” Teal’c offers.

“Me too,” Carter pipes up supportively.

She wants a crack at the force field.

“Sir?” I ask hopefully.

“It’s good to have you back with us, people,” Hammond smiles broadly.  “Dismissed.”

Daniel and I look at one another, then cautiously get up when the general does.

“Call me!” Carter orders Daniel.

“And me,” Fraiser snaps, “I’ve been lying my ass off to Cass all WEEK.  She thinks you’re in Minnesota at the Pond With No Fish.”

I lean in confidentially to Daniel as Hammond heads into his office.  “This is the part where we wake up back in that grey room, right?”

Daniel nods.  “I know.  I couldn’t shake that feeling all the way through this mission,” he confides.

“This doesn’t happen.  When do we EVER get to just…walk out?”

“We don’t.”

“Hey!  Get back here!  What was that crack about Minnesota?” I snarl as Fraiser trots out.

Daniel finds his booted feet fascinating even when I tread on them.

“I’ve got fish,” I complain.

“You bought a tank?”

Chapter Text

Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson

DANIEL

Jack hurls his front door open and snatches me to him in a frenzied hug before I even have a chance to knock.  I don’t comment.  I don't dare.  I’m clearly dealing with a desperate man because my feet aren’t touching the floor and he doesn’t even feel it.

I slip my arms around Jack's neck and hug him back, trying not to worry.  My feet still aren’t touching the floor but that doesn’t mean he’s going to throw me down and ravish me or anything.

Just because he’s gone all…primal…on me.

“Um,” I murmur a soft protest.

It’s not that I don’t want to, but I brought take-out and we haven’t eaten properly in…apparently in over a week.  I feel like crap.  Um…Jack only ever asks for the truth and…so…but…

”I love you but right now I love my take-out more.  Do you hate me?” I sing-song rapidly.

I’m totally embarrassed by the limpet act my hormones pull before I even get my breath back, but that’s okay, Jack is trying to pull me inside his skin with him so we’re on the same page.

“Shit,” he says feebly into my hair.  “Shit.”

I cling closer and make soothing noises.

“I love you too, Danny, but…shit.”

“You could kiss me if you like?” I offer generously.  “You know.”

“What are you wearing?” Jack groans, emerging flushed and excited from the hollow of my throat.

Which he didn’t kiss.  Or my lips for that matter.  He was sniffing though.  Um.

"You smell GOOD."

Apparently I smell good and Jack likes my sweater.  A lot.  He’s stroking it.  A lot.

“Shiiiit,” he drawls in quite another voice, finally allowing my feet to touch the floor as he steps back to fully appreciate this evening’s ensemble.

I smile hopefully at him.  I am trying to make myself less obviously plaid.

Jack fingers the sweater, then gently traces the open, unbuttoned collar, stroking over the exposed bare skin.  I don’t normally wear black from head to foot, but the jeans are new and for him so…I wish I was more confident about this stuff.  Jack likes my body, loves my body, he wants to see it and is in fact so turned on by it he gets dizzy.  I’m kind of stuck with my body and I wish I didn’t have to spend as much time with it as I do.  It always needs sleep and sustenance when I all I want to do is finish my chapter.  Somehow we have to find common ground between these two diametrically opposed points of view.

Yeah.  I do mean get naked.

Jack smiles at me, eyes sparkling as he lifts the sweater up to bare my midriff, then his hand is curving over my hip and thigh, finally settling warm and heavy over my penis.  We both catch our breath.  I gasp, instinctually giving voice to my most urgent desire.

“Food!”

“In a minute,” Jack promises, then swoops to snatch me back into his arms.

“Shit?” I suggest breathlessly.  He’s…vehement…and my ribs are creaking a protest.

“Sorry,” Jack nuzzles lovingly at my cheek.  “Seriously freaked here.”

He really could kiss me.  I won’t mind.  I…Okay.  No.  He’s right.  No.  If we kiss we won’t eat, and if we don’t eat we’ll pass out before we do more than kiss.

I pat him gently.  “Jack, I really, really want that take-out.”

“I love you too,” Jack announces solemnly, cupping my cheek.  “Let’s eat.  Build up our strength via…pizza!” he gloats.

“Chinese,” I correct.  If it’s still on the doorstep, along with the rest of my ‘stuff’.

“No-o, pizza,” Jack corrects patiently.  “That Bolognese one.”

Only Jack would voluntarily eat a pizza known as The Chin Dripper, or be mean enough to get me drunk so I’ll eat it too.  Not tonight.  Tonight we have chicken, prawns, beef and tomato, plus an assortment of crisp vegetables, noodles and fried rice.  “Just give me a minute,” I call when he tries to pull me away.  I turn and open the door to find my bag, my take-out and a pizza delivery boy juggling two huge boxes.

“O’Neill?”

What gave it away?

“Already paid and you’re LATE so you forfeit the tip,” Jack says smugly.

“O’Neill,” the kid says definitively.  “I’ve HEARD about him,” he confides to me, edging down the path like Jack is going to bite him.

I glance back.  Smart kid.

Over Jack’s vociferous protests I hand over five bucks anyway, and back carefully into the house juggling my bag, Jack’s pizza and our Chinese take-out, Jack loudly refusing to have any part in the travesty of justice that just unfolded on his own doorstep.  Or something.  I wonder if that means I can drop these deep-pan abominations in the trash?  I don't even like deep-pan.  The correct description should be 'chewy cardboard'.  I like thin and crispy.

“I brought emergency ice cream rations to see us through the weekend,” I call as Jack sullenly emerges from the kitchen, plates in hand.

He quirks his eyebrows.

“In the cooler, in the car.”

Jack frisbees the plates onto the table and I barely manage to side step as he accelerates out the door.

Please tell me it’s NOT just the food preparation.

I drop my bag by the stairs and manoeuvre carefully up to the dining table, let the boxes slide onto the polished surface and set down my take-out bags gratefully.

O-kaay.

Plates.  If I get the Chinese served BEFORE he gets back…

"Toss me on some pizza," Jack calls cheerfully as he trots past tenderly cradling the cooler box.

"Chow Mein AND Chin Dripper?"

"Sure!  Wanna beer?"

"Wanna Chardonnay," I snap.

"Whatever."

After a lot of rustling and clashing, Jack finally strolls out of the kitchen with a beer, a glass of wine and an accusatory look.  "You can't eat it after it defrosts, you know," he says reproachfully as he sets the drinks down.  "Like my nerves weren't shot already."  He slips into his seat and assesses the Sino-Italian ratio on his plate.  "Kinda shy on the Big Dripper there."

I slide the box over to him.  I refuse to participate any further.  My own plate is pointedly free of drip of any kind.  I am starting to think it's the food preparation.

"I keep checking the clock radio," Jack announces cryptically as he ploughs into his first slice of pizza.

I watch for a moment and head off into the kitchen to fetch some paper napkins.  He only has about twenty or so.  That may not be enough.  I may have to hose him down.

Jack grunts his thanks as I hand him the napkins and emerges triumphant and dripping from…okay, that’s impressive.  His third slice.  He mops up and takes a huge draft of beer.

"Clock radio?" I prompt, dipping into my non-drip beef and tomato.

"I don't believe the calendar," Jack says solemnly.  "The clock radio gives the date and time."  He sighs.  "It's just…you know?"

"A week," I agree sympathetically.  "I keep wondering when we were conscious.  Was it the first day or the last day or…I hate not knowing.  It's confusing."

"We're temporally challenged," Jack mutters gloomily.

Um…the book and the tickets for the play were going to be my treat for later, but he looks like he could use a distraction.  “Just give me a minute?" I ask, jumping up to head around to the stairs and my bag.  I drop down and delve in.  It WAS on the top…

"Is it a minute, though?  I think relativity could be the next Big Bang," Jack says bitterly.

"What?"  I ask blankly, surfacing triumphantly clutching my parcel.

Jack waves an impatient hand.  "Ah, don't ask what keeps a guy awake at three in the morning."

"Stonehenge," I blurt.  "And the Anasazi."

"The Big Bang."

"You too?" I grin at him.  "What was there FIRST?"

"I KNOW!" Jack beams at me.  "Stop signs."

"The 'World Series'."

"Why?" Jack asks darkly.

"It's only US.  As in the U.S.  Are we to assume WE are the…"

"Okay, okay," Jack throws up a quelling hand.  "There's a GOOD reason for that which I'm..." Jack looks at my polite expression.  "NOT going to explain to you right now."  He looks again.  "Maybe not…"

I bare my teeth.

"Not ever."  He sags in his chair.  "It's the ice cream," he admits, shamefaced.  "I think about gettin' cut off and I just…you know."

"Panic?"

Jack shrugs.

"I understand about ice cream so I'm cutting you some slack on your unflattering assessment of my morals and overall level of pettiness," I offer graciously, "And I promise I won't cut you off."

"Does that include…" Jack cuts his eyes ass-wards.

I glare at him.

"Peachy!" he gloats.

"It's entirely up to you of course, but THAT depends on what mood I'm in to start with."

Jack leers shamelessly.

"When I lose my temper I take DAYS to calm down," I inform him sweetly.  “And rediscover my receptivity.”

"Days?"

"Days," I emphasise firmly.

"Damn."

Jack stretches out to prod the parcel.  "What's this?" he asks casually.  He hooks it towards him and pokes a little more, and in the absence of censure, cups both hands around it, smoothing over the brown paper.  He feels carefully around the edges.  Then he picks it up and shakes it.  "Hmm."

"It's for you," I tell him softly, trying out my chicken in green ginger sauce.

Jack lights up.  "A present?"

"A present."

"Cool!" he gloats, turning it over promptly.  He fingers the neatly taped folds and tucks, sneers, then tears into the paper, shredding it and tossing it onto the floor.

Jack likes presents.

"I LIKE presents."

He REALLY likes presents and he'll LOVE this…

"The 'Thief of Time'!"

I smile back as Jack handles the book carefully, not rushing to open and read the synopsis.  He likes to savour that new book experience.  I got the Chinook staff to put a cover on it, and there's the traditional new bookmark, actually two this time, couldn’t make up my mind between the Budweiser lizards Frank and Louie with ‘Those frogs are going to pay’ and the other one.   "There's more."

Jack looks up at me.  "More?"

"Inside."

Jack opens the book, reads, and looks up at me wide-eyed.

"I have a contact in the Pikes Peak Public Library, who has a contact in the Library of Congress, who has a contact in the British Library, who has a contact at Doubleday, and of course she just called him up and…"

"He signed it," Jack bleats.  "He actually SIGNED it.  To me."

"He got both the 'L's in O'Neill too," I point out gravely.  Jack worships Terry Pratchett.  If it's his birthday?  Terry Pratchett.  If it's Christmas?  Terry Pratchett.  Easter, Halloween, Labour Day?  Terry Pratchett.  Wednesday.  Mother's Day…

"The man is just…"  Words fail Jack.

"I know."

"This is WITTY."

"I know," I can't actually stop smiling.  This is the only time I see Jack handling the written word with anything approaching what I feel every time I have a book in my hands and in my mind, and I know at this moment Jack gets it, he gets me.  “There's more."

"More?"

"In the envelope."

Here goes Saturday night.  The Date.  At least it will be if Jack doesn't mind hanging out with a bunch of students…

"'Guards Guards'?" Jack snaps.  "Here?"

"The Arts Centre.  A touring company.  Pratchett is a cult author, Jack, most of the audience will be students but I thought you might…"

"I love it!" Jack whoops.  "Gonna drive you NUTS counting down," he grins.  "They'd better get Captain Vimes RIGHT."

Or they'll have Jack to answer to.

"He's not straightforward.  He's not cynical, he's a realist.  A cynic is just a disappointed idealist, you know," Jack informs me brightly.

"I know."

"Thank you," Jack says softly.

"You're welcome.  You can show your appreciation later," I kind of…look…at him, and he looks right back.  "Jack?"

"Hmm?" Jack is 'dipping' into his book and gloating offensively.   Although that could possibly just be about later.

"All things considered, I'm really glad I didn't have this hanging over me for an entire week," I confess.

Jack looks up, weighs it up and nods happily.  "You're way too good a shot now," he agrees.  “But you’re right.  There’s more.  I made plans too.  We’re having dinner at the Dale Street Café tomorrow night, right after the play ends.  This is great.  The theatre and the Café are only a few yards apart.  I…er…I almost forgot.  About the reservations,” he says casually.

I beam at Jack.  Not just a date, but a HOT date.

Jack waves bookmark number two at me excitedly.

I…um…couldn’t decide between them so I got both.  They spoke…‘Jack’ to me.

Jack shoots me a distinctly admiring look.

I shrug modestly.

“Sweet!

“Y’know.”

“Nekkid porno ferret pictures!”

~~~*~~~

"Comfortable?"

"Mmm."  I stir lazily, open drowsy eyes.  "That means you're not, right?"

Jack chuckles.  "I got used to the OTHER arm being numb," he admits ruefully.

"I could…" I offer, hitching back.

Jack huffs annoyance and pulls me back.  I go with the flow and melt into him, let him wrap me tight against his chest again, my leg curving around his, my arm settling naturally over his shoulders.

It feels right.  I nuzzle lazily into him and we kiss gently, wanting to, but exhaustion slammed into both of us and we crawled into bed earlier than most of the neighbourhood kids.  We haven't really slept, just cuddled together and drowsed.  Jack is all over my jammies as usual, in fact he's particularly taken with these ones.  They're navy, they have a faint wine coloured check in them; they’re a little baggy, they slip down and Jack is goofy again.  I'm not far behind.  We're kissing and stroking, both pleasantly turned on and too damn tired to actually do anything.  I haven't felt this warm in years.

"I'm freaked about sleeping," I admit, kissing the smooth skin on Jack's shoulder.

"Can't shake that lab rat feeling myself," Jack grumbles into my hair.  “At least part of that is Fraiser’s fault, she swaggered out of that cubicle with a quart of blood and my manhood in a jar.”

I glance down interrogatively.  “Seems to be recovering nicely.”

“Prick.”

“’S’whatIsaid.”

This is becoming normal.  Looked for.  One of Jack's hands mussing my hair, the other stroking the jammies, and incidentally my hips, thighs, butt and…"Mmmm."  I return the compliment.

"Mmmm," Jack sighs too and leans in for another long, tender kiss.

"You want to make love?" I whisper when we eventually surface.

"Always," Jack mumbles, kissing my forehead.

Actually, he's kissing my hair and being sly about it, he and it are going steady and the rest of me tries not to mind all the attention he lavishes on the follicles.

"But this is niiiiice," he moans, rolling us a little so I end up sprawled on his chest, his heartbeat steady and lulling beneath my cheek.

"In the morning?"

"Mm-hm," Jack agrees sleepily.

"I..I want to make love to you," I ask with difficulty.

"Mm-hm."

"I mean…"

"I know what you mean.  Me too."

"Me too."

I stretch up blindly for his kiss and doooon't maaaake itttt…


The blast of sound punches me awake with a jerk.  Literally.  He’s right next to me.  I’m so out of it I feel like I'm falling down the bed.

Jack winces, smacking the kill-switch on the radio alarm.  "Sorry," he apologises, dropping back down to my side.

Speechless and disoriented, I glare up at him.

"Sorry."  Jack makes with the soothing pats.  "Just checking.  It’s still Saturday and we now have…"

"It's the crack of DAWN," I snarl.

"It's the crack of noon," Jack corrects me, laughing as I struggle to work out which way is up.  And out from under this QUILT.   "Six hours before we can leave so we time it to+ arrive embarrassingly early and buy stuff.”

I’m sure his eagerness would be infectious if I didn’t want to hurt him.

“Whatever shall we do to fill all that time?" Jack muses.

“Sleep?”

“Pfffft!”  Jack strokes a coaxing hand down over my stomach and onto my…

"Can you SPELL subtle?"

"F-U-C-K-M-E."

I flush.  "I'm not THAT annoyed.  I don't want you think I'm one of these sad people who can't get up in the morning."  I squint at the clock.  “Afternoon.”

Jack props his chin on his elbow and keeps up the maddeningly arousing massage.  "How long have we shared an off-world tent?" he asks mildly.  "Jaa-aa-aack pleeeeease!" he whines.

"I do not!" I deny the allegation indignantly.

"You do, but you're not fully conscious until AFTER the ritual 'Fuck off, O'Neill!' which I find VERY…"

"You find everything about me VERY…"

"Aggravating?"

I smile up at him.  "Arousing."

"Potato, potahto," Jack dismisses carelessly, leaning in to kiss my aggravating hair and then my infuriating mouth.

A few seconds later he's pinned to the mattress, laughing his irritating ass off.  INTENSELY irritating.  "Mine?" I wheeze hopefully, fervently clasping taut and toned.

"Knock yourself out," Jack offers expansively.  "I think I remember the drill for getting drilled."

I sit up to straddle his waist, surprised.  "You do?"  I hadn't really thought about the mechanics, I'm so used to Jack knowing what he's doing, in this as in everything.  "A good memory, I hope," I ask anxiously.  I’d hate him to have had an experience he regrets, specially after losing Sara the way he did.  Maybe I’m sappy too, but I like to think about Jack happy with someone.

Jack smiles up at me, eyes a little regretful.  "At the time.  My vocation does not score highly on longevity," he admits wryly.

I brush my knuckles over his cheek.

"You've got that predatory look in your eye, so you'd better make a supply run before we get into this.  I know there's no stopping you once you…" he snorts.  "Pull the pin and throw."

"Thank you," I drawl.  “I was trying for empathy.”

"You're very welcome.  You stalled at desperately horny and we need lubricant," Jack orders briskly.

I grin as he flushes and squirms.

"Bathroom cabinet."

Okay.  Nothing embarrassing about THAT.  A logical place for it, in fact.  And it is hot in here.  It is.

"You'll have to check the use-by date," Jack mumbles at the ceiling.

Oh.  Really...hot.

"It's been in there," Jack clears his throat.  "For a while."

"Pl-plant…"  I jerk my thumb - jerkily - at the door.

"…Boy." Jack nods.  Jerkily.

Oh boy.  "Pop quiz, Jack.  Which would you rather be?  Dead in that cave in?  Out cold in an alien lab?  Or…us?"

"Can I get back to you on that?"

I scramble off Jack and off the bed and lope over to the bedroom door.

"Your eagerness is encouraging," Jack calls after me, the grin warming his voice.

I bound into the bathroom and pounce on the cabinet, rejecting toothpaste, lip balm and a variety of mysterious gels and unguents.  The lubricant is subtly labelled lubricant and after much perusing I admit defeat.  If there's a date on there, I can't make it out without my glasses.  Does stuff like this even have a use-by date?  And if so, what CAN we use?

Not that I…okay, I do.  I admit I'm a total horndog too, and these jammies ain't big enough for the both of us.  Flannel is soft but not noted for its elasticity.  Busting out all over here.

Jack is comfortably sprawled on the bed, his head pillowed on his arms, idly scuffing the carpet with one dangling foot.  He snorts when I trot up to him.  "Is that your version of stealth mode?" he sniggers.  "I'm flattered as hell here, Danny, but I gotta break it to you gently.  You can't just commence the…er…bombing run.  We BOTH have to be good to go."

I give him a shocked look.  I wouldn't DREAM…he's all sprawly and desirable and HAIRY and…MINE.  "We've got eight hours!"

Jack takes a steadying breath and sits up, eyes intense.  "Four hours?" he asks gently.

I'll see that offer and raise it.  "Three each, one for lunch, one for a bath.”

"Shared?  Inflatable fruit?"

"No reheated pizza?"

"Deal."

"Your ass is mine," I offer grandly.

Jack snorts again.

"I mean my ass is yours," I mumble, blushing.

"You're a man with a one-ass mind."

"Trust me, it's not my mind that's doing my thinking and I can't read this,” I hand Jack the lubricant, “So any delay to locate suitable alternatives comes out of YOUR slot."

"We can eat salad for lunch."

"It's over a week old."

"Lunch is for wimps,” Jack decides scornfully.  “And I’ve got twenty/twenty vision which tells me this is just fine.”  He glances up at me.  “You look excited.”

I am excited.

“I…er…I haven’t gotten anyone this excited since 10th grade,” Jack flushes.

“Their loss,” I crow triumphantly, pouncing on Jack so hard he bounces.  “I love you,” I gloat and kiss him exuberantly.  I think Jack is excited too.  He’s laughing and making encouraging noises as I bite at his jaw and scoot down.  God, I don’t know where to start!  There’s so much of him, and have I mentioned he’s mine?  All of him.  Mine.

“Mine,” I kiss his throat.  “Mine,” I lick a trail over his collar bone.  “Mine,” I settle my mouth over his nipple and feast.  Hairy and heaving and mine.

“Aww CRAP!” Jack yelps, arching and quivering as I suck, lick and nibble.  “NOT arguing here!”

I sit astride him again, smoothing my hands over his hot, sweaty skin, looking constantly at his face to see what he likes as I explore.  “You’re not being much help,” I complain.

“It’s ALL good, all of it, yeah, just that, just there…” Jack moans.

Great.  Jack likes the shoulder biting.

“Mmmmmm!”

Jack likes my ass rubbing his dick!

I smack his chest with the back of my hand.

“Whaa?” Jack opens dazed eyes.

I gesture to myself.  “Focus.”

His chest.   Hairy.   “Mmmmmm.”  His stomach.  A lovely little trail narrowing down to…”Mmmmmm.”  All of him.  He’s so goddamn BIG.  And hard.  The ridges of muscle are fascinating.  I could study his body forever and never learn all of him.  The hard, supple muscles slide sleekly under satin skin and the soft hair.  I map him with eyes, lips, tongue and gentle fingers, taste and touch skin and hair and the salt-tang of sweat, rocking unconsciously as Jack’s hands grip my hips and hold me just so, just there as he pushes up into my ass.

I have to peel his fingers free as I scoot down to rain kisses over his thighs, Jack groaning with disappointment, then just groaning as I work my way up his inner thighs, burying my face in his groin to inhale him ecstatically, the musk of arousal rich in my nose.

Jack is fumbling and cursing and something cool squirts into the hand he takes.

I remember I need to be gentle with him, easing one shaking finger into him as I focus on licking his balls, swiping at them with my tongue.  He’s sensitive, gasping and writhing every time I lift him with my mouth.  I try to focus on Jack, not on how tight he is or how much I want him.  I flow through the instructions he calls hoarsely, stroking him inside first with two, then with three ludicrously lubricated fingers as I take his penis carefully into my mouth and suckle, aware only of his gradual relaxation, his deep moans of satisfaction as he realises I like giving him pleasure this way.

I don’t try anything fancy, didn’t expect my jaw to ache so much, and I want this to be special for him, not clumsy.  I work hard to make him feel warm and loved, and wanted.  Jack’s fingers card in my hair, as tender on me as my mouth on him, the trust between us so thick and real I feel I could reach out my hand and touch it.

Jack’s moans are continuous, deep and rich, his hips moving so gently beneath me in a rhythm that asks.  I feel the quiver in his thighs, the tremors shocking through his body and into me.  He’s hot and heavy in my mouth, throbbing as I suckle and stroke the straining length, Jack shuddering continually now.

“Aah, Daaaanny!”

Jack stiffens and stills, his hands urging me back but I hang on and his penis thumps hard as hot, creamy liquid pulses thickly, salt-tasting, crowding the back of my throat as I swallow instinctively.  I hang on, swallowing gamely as Jack comes and comes in long, easy waves, murmuring my name over and over.  When he softens at last, I free him and scoot up for a kiss, justifiably pleased with a first attempt.

Jack can’t even open his eyes, but he drops a heavy arm across my neck and pulls me into a passionate kiss, his tongue darting against mine to taste his own come in my mouth.  We kiss for a long time, my tongue driving deep in Jack’s mouth, his rasping and shoving against mine.  Eventually I pull away.

“Jack?” I plead in a strained voice.

Jack smiles lazily up at me.  “Pillows.”  He reaches behind him and tugs.

I hesitate for a moment and get it.  He needs them under his butt.  “Is this easiest for you?” I ask anxiously  “Your knees?  Your back?”

“I want to see you,” is all Jack will say.

I stretch out over him, rolling between his parting thighs, lifting his legs high around my back as I brace my weight on my hands.

“Easy,” Jack reassures.  “Slow and easy.”  He smiles up at me, his eyes dark and pleasure-drowned.  “Just your style.”

I gulp and try to still my own shaking as I guide myself to him.

“Easy,” Jack croons.

I stare into his eyes as I nudge against the tight opening.

Jack nods and I push in fractionally, agonisingly slowly, freezing to absolute stillness as Jack hisses and arches slowly beneath me.  I push again, rolling my hips into him, reassured as Jack’s hands curve up over my shoulders.  He’s pale where he was flushed a few minutes ago, but his smile never falters as I roll into him.  Jack pushes down and takes me into him with my next thrust, groaning as I slide in deep, deeper than I was expecting.  I cry out as velvet heat grips and ripples over me, thrust again involuntarily, needing more, needing all of him, thrusting gently, implacably until I’m buried inside my Jack.

Jack’s hand curves over my jaw and cheek.  ‘Love you’ he mouths.  “Fuck me,” he orders.

I pull out a little, watching him anxiously, noting how pale he still is, then I thrust carefully home.  My turn to groan and shudder all over.  He’s so tight, so tender.  Jack has opened his body to me, taken me into him, fit to me exactly.

“I love you, Jack,” I gasp as the strain on my braced arms is too much and I sink slowly down.  Jack moans as I slide in deeper and rises eagerly to meet my mouth.  I love you.  Love…

I rock sweetly inside him, deep inside.  Easy.  Slow and easy as he asked, choking down my urgency, my need, revelling in the way Jack’s body moves with me.  I’ve never felt anything like this, Jack’s muscles rippling around me continually as we love.

I’m not going to last.  This is too…Jack is too intense and it’s so long since I’ve been this close to anyone who cared for me.  My heart is labouring as I strain into Jack, no rhythm in me, just my need in him.

My need, my love.  My...my Jack.

Jack pulls me to him, our hearts beating wildly as he sweetly strokes his tongue over mine, swallowing the harsh sobs crowding my throat, his fingers wiping the sweat from my brow.

“Sorry,” I whisper, “So sorry.”  Too close, too much, too soon.  My body tenses, my back arching, driving me deep to strike against a spot which has Jack stretching like a cat in the sun as my hips spasm against him, and I come slowly, spilling softly, a groan wrenched from me, aching and hoarse.

Jack holds me tight as I shake over him, into him, apart.  He’s still holding me when I ease free of him and my attempt to curl into a ball of embarrassment is thwarted by six feet two inches of Jack getting emphatically in the way.  I compromise and wrap myself around him, which he likes just fine.

“Sorry,” I sigh into his shoulder.  “That was…”

“Nice.”

Quick is what I was thinking.  I surge up to kiss him hard and fast.  “You were lovely,” I tell him stormily and hunker back down on his chest, clinging possessively to every delicious, still heaving inch of him.

“Jeez, you’re like a terrier worrying at a bone,” Jack complains happily.  “And, kid, I love you, I’m CRAZY about you and I’m not…I am NOT touching ‘lovely’.  Not even for you.  I…I got some pride, y’know?”

“Mmmmph!” I growl.  I SUCK at sex but my colonel is just…lovely.  Mostly for not owning up about the sucky thing.

Jack sighs.  “Frigging Special Ops Colonel, got my fanny whupped by sweet and nice.  Pride?  Who am I trying to kid here?”

Not me.  I knew he was mine.


I don’t know how it happened.  One minute I was just standing there waving a kumquat and the next…

“Let me up!” I demand angrily, struggling against an impossibly tight grip.

Jack beams at me and sinks complacently deeper into the couch cushions.

“Jack!  I am on your LAP!”

“I noticed.”

“Let me up.”

Jack considers this.  “No.”

“On your LAP.  I am a grown man, not a child and I am NOT sitting on your lap.  Jack!”

Jack thinks it over carefully.  “No.”

“Prick.”

“I know.”

“I’m not staying here.”

“I know.”

I slip an arm round his shoulders.  Just for…for balance.  And the one across his chest is just because I don’t know what else to do with it.  Stupid to leave it just DANGLING there.

Jack strokes my back in long, soothing sweeps I slump into, no fight in me as he guides my head onto his shoulder.

“I’m proud of you.”

“For killing?” I whisper.

“For surviving,” Jack corrects.  “And saving my life.”

“I did it for you,” I admit drearily.

“That’s why we trust you, Danny.  You’re there for us, when we need you.”

“Jack, I…”

“It’s all that matters, Daniel,” Jack says calmly.  “Soldiers can’t be philosophers or politicians.  We can’t function without the focus of orders, and the only way to survive the killing is to make a value judgement.  The life of your friend is worth more than your enemy, and it should be worth more than your own.  No one can ask more than that, of themselves or anyone else.  It’s not the best way to live, you don’t need to tell me that, but it is the best we can do.”

“Were they our enemies?” I ask intently.  “Weren’t they also victims?”

Jack looks at me gravely.  “I said it was the best we could do, Daniel.  I didn’t say it was easy.”


JACK

I don't dare tell Daniel I got the idea from ‘Pretty Woman’.  He’s resting very comfortably with my inflatable watermelon slice pillowing his neck, drowsy from the heat of the water, skin beautifully flushed.  I’m not resting at all, not with however many inches of therapy Daniel’s legs are wrapped around my waist, his fingers in my hair and his tongue in my ear.

Bless the boy, he’s still fretting.  I lean back and slip my hand up to wrap around his neck.  “The sex gets better.”

Daniel cringes, muttering something into my hair.

Longer?

Oy.

Of COURSE he’s not cutting himself any slack over just how long it’s been since he made love and the fact the last time he did make love it was to his WIFE and this was the first time he did it with a guy.  Most of all, that guy was ME.  Jack O’Neill.  Colonel Jack O’Neill.  Daniel has earned a little wigging out time.  If our positions had been reversed, I doubt I could have gotten it up for a guy who’d spent the past four years ordering me around and was basically…me.  I have NO doubt now Daniel knows EXACTLY what he’s aiming for, he is going to blow my mind.

“I was a little tense.  Sorry,” I apologise sincerely.

“What?” Daniel straightens up behind me, arms rapidly joining the legs.

I sigh happily and lean a little harder.

“You were…it was…we were…” Daniel stammers.

Lovely?  Ah, hell, if anyone was ‘lovely’ it was Daniel.  I’ve never seen him so damned passionate about anything.  Short of hiring a skywriter, he could not have made it more obvious how hot I get him.  I was tense and he was nervous and it could have been a disaster, but it was nice.  If I hadn’t still been seeing stars from the sweetest and most studious blowjob EVER, and, being brutally honest here, if Daniel hadn’t been quite THAT excited and had lasted just a tad longer, I’m confident we would have seen the second coming.

“We just need to relax,” I suggest.

I’m going to make love to him, flushed and rosy from the bath, boneless from the heat of the water still glistening on his skin…The need is rising in me, unstoppable now.  My hand is clenched on my thigh to hide the tremors.  I want him so much, I have needed this for so long.

“Let’s go to bed.”  I lift Daniel’s hand, kiss the palm.

“Okay,” Daniel agrees softly.

I’ve barely let go of him since we got back.  He took on two Jaffa, unarmed.  Twice.  I’m still shaking.  When I tore into that clearing…I thought that was him, thought he was GONE.  I need to know him.  He understands my need to touch, simply twines his fingers through mine and walks by my side as I lead him into the bedroom.  He looked at the towels but let me lead him away.

That’s my Daniel.  Gorgeous and totally unenthusiastic about himself.  I want to crawl into bed with him dripping; he’s mine.  Confused, dripping, but mine.

I’m not sure what to say to him, not when what he seems to be looking for here is a nap, so I just stop him short of the bed, set my hands on his shoulders and turn him to face me.

Daniel smiles as his hands come up to curve around my forearms.

It’s enough.  Daniel’s smile, as sweet as the man himself…the blood slams down and Daniel’s eyes widen.  I have to…does he understand?  Unless he needs to wait, I have to.

“You want to make love.” Daniel nods ironically, catching himself up on his own innocence one more time.

I’m laughing softly because I know now that won’t change.  Stand us here side by side in ten years time and he’ll still have that ‘shoulda known!’ dignity of his.

“What gave me away?” I ask dryly.

Daniel reaches out confidently between us to stroke one slender, sensitive finger from the hollow of my throat, tracing the path all the way down to skim my navel and trace sensuous patterns…words…on my belly.

I love you, Daniel Jackson.  Let me count the ways.

He gets that wincing smile I’m beginning to realise is about him, not me, or at least, it’s all the reaction he’ll allow himself to how beautiful I find him and how little he sees what makes my heart skip a beat.  Maybe in time Daniel will learn to see himself in my eyes.

Right now, I’m lowering him to the bed, my whole weight pinning him.  Daniel gasps as my dick slides luxuriously over his, hands shooting up to grasp my shoulders as he writhes for more, already half-hard against me.  I know this is what Daniel thinks of when he wants to make love.  I don’t know why, but he likes to feel my weight on him.  I smile and kiss his nose.  Slow and easy is exactly how he wants us to be.  Plenty of passion, but not frenzied, not desperate.

Daniel wants warmth and tenderness.  It’s not too much to ask, and I want to give.

His breath is hitching into tiny, needy moans as I rock against him.  Daniel is so sensual, so passionate, I don’t know how he’s survived without sex.  I don’t know how I have, I fall into him so deep.  Deeper every time we’re together.

He’s relaxed this time, wanting more, urging me to touch and kiss, shyly sharing what feels good, what leaves him dazed and breathless.  Kissing his belly, that whole area beneath his navel has him quivering from head to toe, his dick filling before my eyes.  His head thrashes when I mouth his nipples mercilessly, and he shivers when my teeth worry gently at the nape of his neck and work down, tracing every knot in his spine.

Daniel buries his face in the pillow and whimpering and writhing from the onslaught when my tongue pushes greedily inside him.  He gasps and shudders as each finger eases into him in turn, as I stroke deliberately over his sweet spot, brushing over and over, filling him with that heavy, sweet ache I remember so well.  He’s propped up on his elbows, squirming and needy, groaning as he rocks up to meet my thrusting fingers.

“Jack, please.  Pleeeeease.”

It takes some rolling around, but eventually we end up with my back braced hard against the headboard and a slightly surprised Daniel back in my lap.  He gets it when my hands grip his hips, lifts himself, centres, frowning in concentration as he plants his hands on my belly and lowers himself minutely.

I’m scared.  I’m not in control of my own body here.  Waited too long, wanted too much.  I won’t take the risk, won’t hurt him in any way.  Best I lie here, be still, let Daniel guide us.

Daniel sinks down onto me, his thighs trembling with the strain, hands balled into fists, braced bruisingly against me.  I hold him as he rests, my knees coming up to support his back.

Daniel cried out as he entered me, and he cries out again as his body surrenders the fight and he flows onto me like water, both of us stunned by the smooth, sweetly yielding glide.  He falls forward, biting his lip, his forehead resting against mine, breathing hard and fast.  Adjusting.  Processing.  I hold him anxiously, soothing and petting until he catches his breath, and the colour comes back into his face.

“Oh,” Daniel says inadequately, fixing me with drowned eyes, wide and dazed.

“Uurgh,” I grunt intelligently, beyond speech, beyond anything but the feel of him, Christ Almighty, the FEEL…

Daniel looks down at himself suspiciously.  “I think I like this,” he decides cautiously, giving an experimental shimmy.

I yelp and curl up involuntarily as his muscles contract and SQUEEZE.  “Don’tdothat!”

“What happens…” Daniel braces his palms against my chest and lifts himself, eyes wide and curious as he feels me move inside him.  “…if I do THIS…” He rocks sweetly down and we both howl as I strike against his sweet spot and he shakes from head to foot.

SQUEEZING.  “Don’tdothat!”

Daniel is beyond help, plastered against my braced knees, wide-eyed and wheezing in ecstatic shock.

I smile at him slightly smugly.  Beginner drivers.  Bet he never knew his ass did THAT.

“Oh!  You SHIT!” Daniel snarls, glaring at me ferociously when his eyes uncross.

I get a good grip on his hips.  “Let’s take that from the top, shall we?”

“Don’t you DARE!”

“We can’t just sit here, Daniel,” I say reasonably.

“We damn well CAN,” Daniel snaps.  “You could have WARNED me.”

“Experiential learning,” I refute briskly.

“Just you…stay…put,” Daniel orders, jabbing his finger at me warningly.  He doesn’t even attempt to lift himself, just sets his palms flat against my chest, bites his lip in concentration and rocks with extreme caution, using me as a lever.  We pause while he processes, biting his lip and frankly frowning, then he rocks again, with even more caution than before.

I’m just staring at him.  I don’t believe this.  One of the most eagerly awaited experiences of my LIFE, being buried ecstatically to the balls in the man I love, totally blown away by how he FEELS and my dick has been hijacked.  "Still too exciting for you?" I ask witheringly.

Daniel looks up brightly.  “Oh, no, that wasn’t NEARLY so good.”

I burst out laughing, we get shift deep inside and Daniel collapses onto my chest, whimpering, quivering and cursing me for a careless bastard.

“DON’TDOTHAT!” I howl.  “Do you have a fucking clue how that FEELS?” I holler.

“Lovely,” Daniel snarls, biting my shoulder.  “Sit STILL.”

“I’m TRYING,” I snarl back.  “Could you pick up the pace a little?”

“I’m NOT coming quicker THIS time than LAST time!” Daniel seethes.

I burst out laughing again, the tremors running through me and into Daniel and it all gets interesting again as I…er…dig deep and he CLENCHES.  We’re both quivering, clinging breathlessly, and seeing stars.

“That feeeels soooo gooood, you priiiick,” Daniel moans bitterly, pointing the finger literally and figuratively.

“Is this a HOSTAGE situation?” I seek clarification when the clenching makes it clear moving a muscle is no longer an option.

Daniel bites my shoulder again, then worries and kisses it better.

I take his hips and thrust, gloating as his eyes glaze over and he moans again.  “What do I gotta do to get my balls back?” I demand.

Daniel gets the giggles and the tiny contractions ripple through him to surround my dick.  My turn to go cross-eyed and do the wheezing thing.

“What are your demands?”

“Kiss me.”  Daniel does seem fairly insistent on that point so we meet up cautiously half-way and kiss.

Niiiiice kiss.  He looks good, he smells good, he feels good and he tastes good.  In fact, he feels great, chewing on my tongue.  He’s nicely distracted so I thrust up and catch him sneakily rocking down and the world tilts on its axis.

“Theat!”

“Thrick.”

Be easier to hurl insults if we broke off the kiss but he’s chewing and I’m sucking and it feels GOOD.  Our bodies find a rhythm as the kiss gentles and deepens, an easy kiss and glide, Daniel barely moving his hips as we love, relaxing into me as I let myself move at last.

He's right. It's embarrassing.  I'm telling myself it's quality not quantity, we're not on the clock here.  "Hey!  Knock that off!" I holler, glaring at Daniel.  He freezes, eyeing me guiltily.  "Shit!  Not...not THAT.  Keep MOVING," I order desperately.

"Oh.  Sorry," Daniel blushes rosily and after a tense moment, lives to writhe again.

"Stop looking at the damn clock!  I can't believe you're timing this, you shit."

Daniel's face scrunches up, endearingly naughty.  "Just checking," he murmurs demurely, extending his range with a shimmy as he rocks.

He is so perfectly fucking beautiful and he has NO idea.  Brick red and sweating, mouth open as he moans and bites his lips to stifle the moans when he thinks he's getting too...too...Christ, he's too EVERYTHING.  The way the muscles are moving on that smooth, flat abdomen as he MOVES on me, the tension in his thighs, the way he throws back his head and gasps when I touch him right inside.

"Yeah.  Just right, just...Christ, yes, just there, Danny, just...God!"  Ah, Christ this feels wonderful.  The room is spinning.  If I weren't propped up, if Daniel's knees weren't holding me up, I'd topple right over and blub.

Blub.  Yeah.  No.  TOO sappy.  Gimme a few more minutes might be a real option but...er...Where was I?  Gotta...gotta stop thinking about rocks dropped in pools and waves rippling endlessly out.  Waves.  Mmmmmm.  Or beats.  He's moving like the beat of my heart.

What?  Oh, yeah.  My love.  My writhing, wonderful, TALENTED..."My GOD!" I surge up as Daniel gasps and arches violently, head snapping back.  Shit!  Did I HURT him?  "Danny!"

"Jaa-aack!" Daniel chokes out a protest as he tightens around me, squirming desperately.

SQUEEZING.  Pleasure sheeting through me.  Right through.  CLEAR through.  My mind is gawn.... “Don’tstopdoin'that!”  I'm gonna blow but I'm taking him with me, scrabbling desperately for the slick dick slippery and straining against my belly, squeeze right back, pulling my hand slowly down, milking his orgasm from him. “Don’tstopdoin'that! DON'T ST...aww... AWWCRAAAAAAP!" I heave up off the bed as Daniel convulses, fall back, smacking my skull off the headboard as I come.  Seeing starrrrrrs...


"You let me sleep," Daniel huffs a mild protest as he kisses the nape of my neck, his arms circling my waist as he rests his chin comfortably on my shoulder.  "Hi."

"Hi.  And I let you sleep because you needed it," I comment casually.  That's what Mom always said when I slept in.  You wouldn't sleep if you didn't need it.  Mom logic and by definition, unanswerable.

"Jack?  Whatchadoin?"

I grin at him.  "House speciality.  Burgers like they're supposed to be."

Daniel quirks his brows, peering interestedly over the top of his glasses as I flip the burgers expertly.  Big, meaty, half pound monsters oozing herbs, spices and juices.  The best beef money can buy and I grind it myself.  Add mild, melty Gruyere cheese and tangy relish, toasted buns, a mound of chunky home fries and about a quart of milk apiece.  "A light snack.  Just to keep our strength up."  Lots of protein and carbohydrate.  Lots.

"Good," Daniel growls, nibbling my ear.

He's rubbing lazily against my back, one bare foot reaching around to stroke over my toes as his hands stroke my..."Jesus, Danny, not again!" I groan.

"I'm hungry," Daniel whines, feathering kisses across the nape of my neck, burying his nose in my hair.

I gotta watch the burgers like a hawk, get careless and you achieve cremated yet raw.  It's very difficult to see straight with two elegant hands clamped possessively over my hips, those long fingers blatantly splayed out and frankly checkin' it out, and a VERY insistent erection rubbing ecstatically against my behind.  Two layers of denim between Daniel and the ass of his dreams may not be enough.

When I turn to glare Daniel down, I find a decidedly naughty sparkle in his eyes and just enough uncertainty of his welcome to still my tongue and slip it in his mouth.  Daniel sighs happily as he returns my kiss contentedly, his foot settling back over mine, my toes getting a little active on me too.  His tongue curls sweetly over mine, happy just to rest there, close and...

Secure.

Ah, Danny. A gra mo chroi.  You get that?

I have to peel Daniel off me, and believe me, it takes some doing.  He's a horny six foot limpet.  "Daniel, acushla, I think it's time we had the hormone talk."

Daniel isn't sure whether to be flattered or insulted by the endearment, which is ethnic and therefore difficult for a linguist to discourage, Jeez, I'm not dumb here, but he is absolutely certain he doesn't want to talk about hormones.  The pout gets positively pithy.

I turn my attention to that vital final flip of the burgers and start to drizzle over the cheese so it melts right into the meat as Daniel backs off to hop up on the worktop by the sink and sulks at me.  The effect is not in any way marred by the moustache he acquires along with his glass of milk.

Stormy blue eyes and a sullen pout?  My hormones need a stern talking to.  I glance over a him, smile, shake my head ruefully and set out the crisp, toasted buns.  "Relish?"  My hormones need putting down.

"Please," Daniel asks politely before he can stop himself.

I chuckle.  Don't have to look to know the scowl just upgraded to a glare.  The fries are floating and hissing, perfect and golden, so I scoop 'em out, dish up and head out and down to the living room, heaped plates in hand.  The couch seems cosier.  I'm sure Daniel will enjoy sulking at close quarters.

"Scooby snack!" I call temptingly, wafting the plates enticingly as Daniel pads along behind me.

Daniel sets the glasses of milk down as I slide his plate over to his end of the coffee table, then take my seat.  Daniel jumps onto the far end of the couch and stretches out.  I wind up with a plate and ten bare, wriggling toes in my lap.  I glance up, eyebrow raised.

Daniel settles his plate on his lap and goes all out for demure yet graphic phallic symbolism with his fries.

"You're very talented," I admire his performance.

Daniel smiles shyly.  "Thank you."

I don't miss the slumberous, predatory eyes.  Sheesh.  I knew going in Daniel's sexuality was about ready to explode out of him, but sap that I am, I got caught up in sweet and nice and nurturing him over the worst of the shock of having what he really wants and needs.  He's out.  He couldn't BE more out.  In fact, he's exploding all over.  All over me, that is.

I don't think my ass can take it and I know my knees can't.  The hormones are willing, but the back?  Oy.  And of course we have that always there, just beneath the surface, cutting to the bone insecurity that means Daniel would be REALLY hurt if I didn't want him.  He won’t be ‘oh, Jack's beat’, ‘Jack's...old’, he'll be ‘what did I do?’

I'm just totally obligated to BE here for him.  It's the mature, the compassionate, the loving...I smile at him slowly.  Okay, the ruthlessly exploitative choice.

My linguist is fucking HOT and he WANTS me.  All the damn time.

Woo Hoo!

Ten toes wriggling segues into five toes massaging my thigh and five massaging an embarrassingly eager erection while Daniel blithely wolfs down his burger, practically inhales the fries and gulps down his milk, acting like his feet have nothing to do with the rest of him.

If it wasn't for the flush splashed over his creamy skin, the tension in the slim frame the clinging black T-shirt can't disguise, the way those jeans are stretched taut over his hips and that blatant bulge...

I send my plate skidding over the table and dive up the couch to yank Daniel's from him.  I set it down and turn to find him already peeling his T-shirt off and scrambling for mine.  I fumble and futz at his jeans, pop the button and tear the zipper down.  Daniel's hands are shaking so much he can't get his fingers to work and I have to stop, cursing a blue streak, my objective in sight, flushed and rosy and...

"Jack!" Daniel snarls.

What?  Oh.  Right.  I pull my own zipper down, Daniel managing to shove the jeans down enough to clamp onto my butt, hitching his ass up off the cushions so I can return the compliment.  We shove and prod until the denim pools around his ankles and just can't take any more, Daniel impatiently using his feet to kick them off.

Daniel can't take the delay as I push my own jeans down, hauling me to him with almost hysterical eagerness, his bursting dick jutting hard against my belly as I throw myself onto him, shoving hard at his thighs, hissing through clenched teeth as I pin him flat.

Daniel goes nuts as our dicks grind together, bucking up into me, his legs lifting to wrap around my back and he knows, God, he knows EXACTLY what that does to me.  He knows how hot this is, him naked, sprawling and helpless, my denim and bare skin chafing between his thighs.  Daniel loves this.  I push Daniel, he pushes back, always, but he loves my weight on him, he allows himself to lose control because he trusts me implicitly to take it and to keep him safe.

His hands are scrabbling on my sweaty skin as I rock and thrust into his heaving, needing, beautiful body, sweat and slickness between us, smearing and smoothing our way.  Daniel is wild beneath me, straining frenziedly to meet every thrust as I brace my feet against the arm of the couch and pound into him.  He groans with satisfaction, his gentle mouth slack and gaping as pleasure rips through him, his dick jerking hard against me.

"A gra mo chroi," I snarl into his blindly seeking mouth.

"Love you too, Jack," Daniel sighs.

I bite at his lush lower lip, plunging into moist, needy, moaning heat as we drive our dicks relentlessly together, the force and passion of it jolting Daniel's body further up the couch until we're practically sitting up.

I'm shaking and fighting for every breath, spots in front of my eyes as those tell-tale fine tremors shiver through Daniel, his hands clawing into my back as he arches violently, head thrown back, that intense stillness on his face as he quakes, convulses...and falls.

His hips stutter against mine as slick heat splashes against my dick and thighs, his teeth clamp down on my tongue and I tumble after him.

We lie clamped together, sprawled on the couch in a tangle of sweaty limbs, flushed faces and wildly beating hearts; a sticky, oozing, sated, thrumming heap of VAST gloating satisfaction.

"I-I'll spr-spring f-for the d-dry c-cleaner," Daniel stutters, patting me unsteadily.

Fair's fair.  It was his feet that got us into this. And I looked at the clock.  This is definitely the record to beat.


“I’m just saying that actually LOCKING the bathroom door argues a lack of trust,” Daniel reproaches me as he smoothes out my shirt collar.

He thinks I look FABULOUS.  The cream chinos, the brown, excuse me, the SPICE coloured silk shirt and for the record a lot of sweet something’s about my eyes.

“I’m hurt,” Daniel sighs.

“Horny,” I correct crisply.

“And…hurt.”  He wraps his arms around me as he kisses a trail across my cheek.

“Don’t make with the big blue eyes there.  I DON’T trust you,” I tell him firmly.  “Not with my naked ass.”

“A simple no would have sufficed,” Daniel reiterates.

“No it wouldn’t,” I snipe.  “Your hands are on my ass right now,” I complain.

“They’re not!” Daniel denies indignantly, patting interrogatively.  “They are!  I’m sorry.”

“You’re NOT.”

“Okay, I’m not, but…I was looking forward to that shower.  I wanted to rub your ass.  Your back.  WASH your ass. Um…” Daniel straightens up defiantly, glaring at me.

I guess even he realises that wasn’t the most convincing denial on record.

“This Is A Date,” I explain with exaggerated patience.  “It is the custom of our land to get laid AFTER the date.  Consequently, I am adamant in my refusal to get nailed – again - before we make it out the front door.”

Daniel’s eyes tell me: selfish bastard.

“Your hands are still ON my ass, by the way,” I lean in to kiss his nose.  “You look amazing.”  He does.  “I always thought navy blue was stock brokery but on you…WHOO!”  The pants have those pleats at the front only Daniel-hipped guys can get away with and his ass is making the roof of my mouth go dry.  As for the shirt…summer-sky blue, warm as Daniel’s eyes.

“We should stay at my place,” Daniel announces decisively, firmly taking my hand to tow me briskly out of the bedroom.

“Why?” I drawl.

“It’s closer,” he mutters evasively.  “We can walk back.”

Uh-huh.  Daniel pulls open the front door, dancing impatiently as I set the alarm and lock up.

“Otherwise I’m designated driver, Jack.  It’s not fun to be drunk on your own,” he tosses over his shoulder as he storms down the path.

“And here’s me thinking you just wanted to cut down on your commute time so you could nail me a minute sooner,” I suggest wryly.  Thirty-five minutes sooner.

“I’m only thinking of you,” Daniel tells me with heart-felt sincerity as he unlocks the car and we climb in.

“Your…” He starts the car and futzes with his seatbelt to cover while he thinks desperately.

I await his answer with interest.  “Knees?” I prompt after a protracted pause.

“Knees!” Daniel echoes thankfully.

I fasten my seatbelt, shaking with laughter.  “Daniel, I love you horny.  I may not SURVIVE you horny, but I love you anyway.”  And I hope you never know just how good you are for my ego.  “The first official O’Neill-Jackson Saturday night date has commenced,” I announce cheerfully.  “Let’s buy that textbook!”


Daniel backs along the pavement, hands everywhere.  "The dragon was GREAT!" he enthuses.

I'm glad the Café is just a few doors up from the theatre, because the way Daniel is bounding along with his back to the world, he's gonna wind up on his ass.

"Sonic kaboom."

I grin right back at him.  It is not difficult to get goofy when Daniel is THIS happy.  His eyes get all...and I get...goofy.  "It was clever.  The perfect advertisement for surround sound.  The guys at Dolby would be thrilled."

"You jumped!" Daniel accuses me, a tad smugly.

"And you didn't?"

"My butt was numb," Daniel heatedly denies the allegation.

"It was numb a hell of a lot then."  I'm still smiling at his indignant denials when I open the restaurant door for us.  Daniel sidles past, still scowling, then forgets his snit as he gets a good look at the locale.

The Dale Street Café is nice. Really, REALLY nice.  Whitewashed walls above, dark oak panelling below, slabs of granite underfoot.  Plants, art and greenery everywhere in softly lit recesses dotted here and there in the walls.  Daniel already has his eye on a particular vase overhead.  This is not the sort of place where two guys 'grab food'.  It isn't voted the most romantic restaurant in Colorado Springs every year for nothing.  Every single table is tucked into its own private niche, surrounded by ferns and shrubs, spilling out into the summer garden.  It's a little early in the year for alfresco dining, but we're in the Garden Room, they've got that guy doing Billy Joel covers starting in...I glance at my watch...five.

"Reservation for O'Neill?" I ask the maitre d' while Daniel checks out the vase.

He checks his books, looks up smiling, and asks me to follow him.  I have to collect Daniel, who's just picked up the 'History of the Dale Street Café' leaflet and isn't thrilled when I make him put it back.

"Can we get through one meal without you LEARNING something?"

"Learning is a LIFELONG..." Daniel kicks off.

I...look...at him.

A moment later his whole face is soft as his elbow nudges mine meaningfully.

The table is great, right by a big open window, plenty of privacy, and a good distance from the corner dais where the singer is setting up.  The place is packed out, but they haven't made the mistake of cramming in too many tables.  There's a pleasant buzz that Daniel is soaking up.  My butt automatically hits the seat that gives me good line of sight on the entrance, but I got open balcony doors to my rear so I'm doing great.  This is a date, not a tactical situation.

"Can I get you gentlemen something to drink?" the maitre d' asks pleasantly.

"Southern Comfort for me."

"Two," Daniel agrees, already checking out the menu.

The guy lopes off with the drinks order.

We're talking food of love so the menu comes up one moo short of steak.  We got chicken or we got seafood.  Pasta.  Sauces.  Date food.

"Chicken Puccini," Daniel muses.

I check it out.  Pan-fried breast sautéed in lemon-butter, served with slices of melon and Parma ham.  We also got some drizzling going on, involving Marsala wine.

"I like the menu.  It's so corny to claim everything is 'tender' this or 'succulent' that," Daniel confides.  "They don't even fall into the 'garnished' trap.  Classy."

Very classy.  "Chicken Dijon," I decide.  I can live with mustard, cream, brandy and mushrooms.  Hell, I'll even eat the seasonals, julienned or not.

The waiter arrives with the drinks and departs with the food order as the singer announces his set.  I love Billy Joel.  I love music, most kinds of music, but some genres, some performers are standouts.  Music is something else I don't know Daniel's taste in too well.  Something I've always wanted to ask him...

"Do you play that piano?"

Daniel looks up from the drink he's sipping, surprised.  "Sure."

"Would you?  I'd like to hear you play some time."

"Strictly amateur hour," Daniel admits, twinkling.  "Loving something doesn't guarantee you're any good at it."

Maybe I should admit I'd like to SEE him play.  I want to see him focused and passionate, in a world of his own, open and feeling.  I love to watch him like that, in the beauty he finds in language, or when he gets lost in the past.  I see to the core of Daniel Jackson in those moments, and what I see in him, I can't be without.

The time falls away from us.  The food was great, I think, and I barely notice the singer giving his all because Daniel focused on me, opened up to me.  Anything I ask...

"I used to CRY," Daniel confesses, wrinkling his nose in disgust.  "Mama used to have chase after me, make sure I was okay.  I'd curl up in a ball under the bed and she'd have to scoot under with me.  I'd be lying there weeping my heart out because the music was SO sad.  I never heard it, I felt it." Daniel taps his chest.

I get THIS from 'what kind of music do you like?'  You couldn't drag me away at gunpoint.

"I do feel music, it's a visceral emotional response rather than intellectual.  I'd rather have a technically inferior performance that FELT right than one which hit every note perfectly and didn't touch me at all."  Daniel props his elbows on the table too, rolling his glass rhythmically between his hands.  "I look for that emotional connection with the artist, and I find it in the most surprising places, so anyone trying to stereotype me from my music collection will be doomed to disappointment.  Example.  Have you ever listened to 'Tangerine Dream'?"

"They do movie music, right?"  I take another sip of the blood-warmed whisky.

"Right.  They also do original recordings, instrumentals.  One of the albums is called 'Underwater Sunlight'.  There's one track on there, PART of one track, and the way it hits me, every time, is the way an orgasm hits.  That's...that's what it FEELS like," he murmurs, voice low and eyes passionate.  "The same ripple of pure sensation that swells through the body and..."

"Blows your mind?"

Daniel looks at me lingeringly as I smile at him, gently touching his glass to mine so our fingertips brush.

Daniel touching me is something else.  It's all down to context.  The touch of a woman's hand in a man's was more erotically charged a century ago than the X-iest of XXX films is today.  We're desensitised.  Nudity is not the taboo it once was, and though I do think of it as progress away from moral hypocrisy and physical repression, it's stripped away a lot of the mystique of sex.

Making love with Daniel has given me back something I lost in my teens, and even then I didn't have the maturity to appreciate what it meant to be with a person I love as they learned to know themselves as sexual beings.  Being with Daniel as he explores the new possibilities and limits of his own body, his own pleasure - as I learn mine, I guess - that's a gift I'm finally able to appreciate.

He's a seething mass of hormones and curiosity right now, barely taken the edge off, but already I see how sensual he is.  He feels music like he feels everything, with all he is.  He doesn't know any other way to be.  It's Daniel's greatest strength, and his greatest vulnerability.  When we make love he goes deep, deeper every time.  The more he learns, the more he wants.

I smile at Daniel lazily.  He wants me now.  It's there in the way his intent eyes don't leave mine when he talks, in the way we're both leaning in to this table, heads close, fingers near enough to clash.  It's all very easy. very natural and anything but casual.  I have that tightness inside, that tension, growing with every minute.  We're not going to last much longer.  A few more sips of whisky, this shared, knowing silence...

"Home?" I ask, tossing back the last of my whisky.

Daniel just puts his down.  "Home," he agrees, up and on his feet, too edgy to be still, looking right at me.

“Oh, I…”

“Colonel O’Neill? Daniel?” a hesitant voice breaks the spell.

Daniel and I turn to find Emily Ferretti a few feet away, smiling but hanging back, not wanting to intrude.

“Mrs. Ferretti,” Daniel greets her warmly, stepping forward to shake hands.

She smiles up at him, big grey eyes bright.  Emily is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life and God alone knows how Ferretti of all people landed her.  He should be on his knees every day of the week and twice on Sunday thanking said God for making him the lucky bastard he is.  And speaking of lucky bastards…I’m a few slow steps behind Daniel because Ferretti is right behind Emily.

This is…interesting.  It’s one am on Sunday morning, I’m with my civilian consultant, we’re both dressed to the nines, we’re in the Dale Street Café, we shaved and we smell good, all definitely datey, and if ANYTHING of what I was feeling was SHOWING I am in deep fucking shit here.

“Colonel,” Ferretti greets me with a nod and smiles warmly at Daniel, who’s still chatting easily to Emily.

“Major,” I reply calmly as we all turn and head out together.  Daniel is darkly muttering about bookmarks, keeping Emily in a ripple of amusement.  “Didn’t see you there,” I say casually.  The place is all ferns, angles and candles, but still, shows how far gone I was.

“We must have come in before you,” he replies just as casually.

Here the whole damn time, huh?

“Nice place.  Em likes it,” he grins at his wife’s oblivious back.

“Right next door to the theatre,” I jerk my thumb pueblo art-deco-wards.  I’m telling myself God hates a coward, but it’s taking more than I’ve got to push it enough to find out for sure if he thinks I’m sleeping with my linguist.  Ah, for cryin’ out loud.  Try completely GONE on my linguist.  I glance across at Ferretti’s face as we make our way up the stairs, but he’s focused on Em, who’s giggly and working the big grey-eyed charm on a Southern Comfort-susceptible Daniel.

I’m not exactly panicking here, Ferretti is a good man with a lot of respect for Daniel, and as long as he only suspects, I know I can trust him not to say or do a single thing that would hurt Daniel.  If he has a problem, he’ll bring it to me.  Ferretti is as aware as I that Daniel was pegged as gay by the ignorant, envious and libidinous from the moment he walked into the mountain five years ago.  It’s a concern.

There are plenty of guys in any command looking for a little stress-relief with the like-minded and believe me, I know Daniel is at the top of most wish-lists.  He’s blithely unaware of course, and we’ve kept it that way.  The private locker room and shower for my kids is as much for Daniel’s dignity as Carter’s.  The rumours about him being my fuck-toy have been circulating for years.  Some of the shit-stirrers think I’m doing Carter but thanks to my inability to keep my hands off, we’re looking at a Spacemonkey majority.  It makes me see red that ANYONE could look at Daniel Jackson and only see a stellar piece of ass.

The irony doesn’t escape me.  Those who think that way - and even at the SGC with the best and the brightest we get them - will waste hours speculating on just how I fuck Daniel six ways from Sunday, but let them get a whiff of the fact I’ve fallen in love with him, or God forbid, he fucked ME, and hell will hath no fury.  I really don’t want to go around killing my fellow Airmen, so whatever Daniel may feel on the subject, I’m taking advantage of his protectiveness because I happen to agree we don’t tell.  Ever.

Ferretti glances at me questioningly and moves ahead to pay when I shrug.  Too late to worry now, but after the fuss I made about taking him out to dinner, Daniel isn’t even carrying his wallet and that great food I can’t remember eating is going to set me back something in the region of eighty bucks and possibly my career.

All I can do is bull my way through it like always.  Ferretti watches with mild interest as I pay.  He glances thoughtfully over at Daniel and Emily, cosily huddled while Daniel ‘explains’ the vase.

“You start eatin’ QUICHE, Sir, I’ll worry.” Ferretti winks at me, firmly retrieves his wife, who’s disposed to linger, and swaggers off in a chorus of goodnights.

And that’s it.  Huge honkin’ revelation here.  Hey guys, listen up, O’Neill is de facto GAY, as in COLONEL O’Neill, did you catch the GAY thing?  O’NEILL.  GAY.  Takin’ it up the ass every chance he gets!  All that and Ferretti doesn’t even break a sweat.  It’s goddamn TYPICAL of the man to beat me to the punch, AND throw in the same goddamn cryptic socio-cultural critiquing he used to yank my chain over the Yjro for good measure.  He drives me NUTS.

He’s a good man.

Daniel wanders back to my side.  I wonder how much of that exchange he caught, but I don’t want to sour the mood with the cosmic injustice of frickin’ Air Force policy, not when Daniel is so damn happy and pleasantly wired from the booze.  So we just walk out together, close.  Close enough so Daniel's knuckles skim over mine as we walk. He stills his hand and my fingers just...JUST curl over his.

It's dark out, it's late, people are dunk and uncaring, thinking of home.  They don't see two men stealing glances and holding hands.  Just about.

They don't know mystique, or the pang that shoots right through me as Daniel's fingers part and mine slip between for a few steps, or when he frees me and one long finger strokes against mine from time to time.

I could stick my hand on his ass and it wouldn't be the same.  This is wanting, and waiting, and knowing.  Our eyes meet as we turn the corner.  Maybe it's as simple as being the only ones to know we love.

“I TOTALLY want to hear that orgasm music when we get back,” I insist.


DANIEL

"I love Southern Comfort," I confide.

"Me too," Jack agrees softly, taking another lingering sip from our glass, his eyes glittering at me.  He's naked, comfortably sprawled against the headboard, all my pillows heaped behind him in a pointed anti-concussion measure.

I kiss him as he rolls the Southern Comfort over his palate, gliding my tongue deep into his mouth to taste warm whisky, the heat of Jack behind it.

Jack sighs and pulls me into him, his hands heating my skin through the thin silk.  The shirt is all I'm wearing, mostly unbuttoned, falling off my shoulders and whispering over Jack's bare thighs and abdomen.

We're going to make love, soon.  The wanting is hanging heavy between us, and my wanton slow burn writhing in Jack's lap is driving us out of our minds.

"No?" I whisper against his lips, breaking away to trail kisses over his cheek when his lips move over mine.

"No," Jack refuses.

The sweat is standing on his brow, trickling down his cheeks, mute testimony of the effort it's taking him to withstand me.  His body is pleasure-blushed, his breathing quick and shallow, belying his calm refusal.

I track a droplet of sweat down over his cheekbone, catch it with my tongue to lick idly up along its path.

Jack's ridged stomach muscles flex beneath the glistening skin as he rocks beneath me.  He’s stroking against me deliciously, sensuously and I'm moving easily with him, just enough friction between us to drive him insane.

We each want our way.  I want Jack inside me, and I am going to have him.  Jack WANTS, but he won't hurt.  He doesn't believe he didn't hurt me the first time we made love so I'm having to work to convince him he's wrong.  Slowly.  Thoroughly.  Maddeningly.

"No," Jack says again, a hint of a laugh in his voice.

He's softening.  Except for...which is…WONDERFULLY hard.  "Oh, God, I want this, I want you."

"Danny," Jack sighs a protest.

I dip my fingers into the glass, drizzle the whisky onto the pulse point at his throat and suckle.  Jack moans and tilts his chin to give me better access.

"I really, REALLY want you inside me." I bite at his Adam's apple.

"You liked that?" Jack asks eagerly.

"I LOVED that," I answer honestly.  "I wasn't prepared for how much I love it.  I wasn't really prepared for any of it.  It was…it…"

"What?" Jack mumbles against the point of my shoulder, which he's biting at.

"It was the easiest thing," I confess.  "There's probably some manual that says intercourse is supposed to be this huge guilt and pain deal, right?"

Jack snorts.  "Right," he agrees unsteadily, his hand slipping down between us.

I groan as he holds my penis cupped in the palm his hand, his thumb pressing into the head as he grips and glides slowly up and down.

"My ass does not agree," I refute that as crisply as his lazily knowing bigtime payback hand allows me to.  "My masculinity failed to curl up and die on me so I'm not certain what..." I whimper as he rubs his thumb in tender circles along that big vein, just…just…”Oooh.”

"The manual," Jack obligingly supplies as he dips his head to flick his tongue at my nipples.

"Thanks…says about how I'm supposed to feel right now." I look at him shyly, clearing my throat awkwardly.  "All I know is I love getting fucked.  LOVE it.  Ignorance was bliss in this case," I suggest gruffly.  "I thought it would feel like your finger inside me, which I couldn't stop thinking about the WHOLE time we were off-world by the way.  If only I'd known it was a STRONG indicator of how I would react to…" I give a wicked little shimmy on the member in question, which has Jack jack-knifing and hissing a warning.  "More," I sigh.

"MUCH more," Jack chuckles complacently.

"I didn't think about being hurt, I just wanted you SO much.  I wasn’t thinking at all.  I mean, I'm a man.  A hitherto straight man who loves to be fucked and didn't even know it until I got fucked." I am not about to tell him that when presented with the option, my ass cut out my conscious mind and decided all on its own I was a SOLID lock for a Kinseyish – a strictly one-man Kinseyish - six.  And my Jack better be too if he knows what’s good for him.

"Ditto," Jack agrees encouragingly, sympathetic hands rushing to reassure my apparently stressed out hair.  "I'm fond of it myself."

"Can't you leave that alone?" I complain.  I don’t go around fondling his thighs, do I?  Not THAT often.  It’s really hard to come up with convincing excuses.

"No."

I scowl at him, which prompts him to kiss my nose.  "I'm trying to apologise for sexually objectifying you here, you know," I reproach him.  "I used to look at you and think Jack equalled 'friend'."

"Jack equalled 'pain in the ass'," Jack grumbles.

"That too," I admit generously.  "Now I look at you and think God is he HAIRY and Jack equals 'MINE', 'hot', 'sex', 'hot sex NOW!' and 'MINE!!!'."

"You said that already," my COMPLETELY private property points out.

"I think it a LOT," I admit, embarrassed.

"What are you thinking right now?" Jack asks as he slides his hand slowly up my sweat-soaked thigh.

"Mine."

"Oh."  Jack winks at me.

"HOT and mine."  And if we’re being completely honest.  Hot sex NOW!  And mine.

"I love sex.  I've missed it desperately.  I've wanted sex with you so long I was going insane and now I get to have sex with you I find I'm loving it more and more," Jack informs my hair warmly, soothing, petting and nuzzling.  "I want it more and more and I'm going to be hurting people if I don't get it long…”

I’m NOT growing it back!

“…hot, satisfying and often."

Oh.  It’s not just the hair and the food preparation for him and…"It's not JUST the sex," I mutter.  "I do love you.  Desperately."

Jack beams at me.  "Ditto.  And one of the things I love desperately about you is that you are so damned passionate and sensual.  You love sex.  I love giving you sex again."

"So?" I demand.  "Get over here and objectify me!"  NOW!!!

"I want to," Jack groans.  "But…"

"But me no butts!  Two out of two dicks agree here.  I don't hurt, it's not too soon, and I WANT you.  NOW."

"Daniel!"

"I hate labels, Jack. I refuse to be what some book or scale or score or loser says I should be.  I just AM.  The first time didn't hurt, the second won't…the third, the fiftieth…If we're talking qualitatively…" I stroke a coaxing hand over his chest, gently fingering his nipples, enjoying him glazing over.

"You mean quantitatively," Jack corrects, smirking.  "Why don't we cut the crap and get your chess timer in here?"

I glare at him.  We're way up there on hot, satisfying and often, but LONG needs some work.  "I have a loft FULL of ceremonial doodads, Jack, so FUCK me already."

Jack MOVES.

I thump hard into the pillows as his weight slams down onto me.  I beam up at him, stretching out luxuriously as I wrap my legs around his waist and wriggle encouragingly.  The lube is somewhere in the bed with us, so no excuses on that score.  I reach up and pull him down into a deep, passionate kiss, our tongues wrapping around one another, thrusting and grinding in time to Jack's fingers stroking in my ass.  He probes the sullen pleasure spot inside, mercilessly massaging until I'm writhing, whimpering and cursing him.

"Could you sound a little less smug?" Jack complains.  "Tryin' for that Alpha thing here."

"Oh.  What am I supposed to..." I look questioningly up at him.  I’ll play.

"Quivery and helpless," Jack says emphatically.

Oh, not a chance.  Embarrassingly eager I can do.  My penis is at right angles to the rest of me and I can't SEE straight.  "I'm mussed," I offer by way of softening the blow.

Jack's eyes dwell lovingly on my hair and go puppy on me as he kisses my brow – hair - tenderly.

"Can we start now?"

"I love you."  Jack strokes his thumb tenderly over my lips.

"Um-hm.  Now?  I really…Now please, Jack.  Seriously."  I bite his thumb for emphasis, blithely ignoring his pained yelp.

“Jeez, that hurt,” Jack whines, cradling his thumb like it’s going to drop off or something.

I feel around in the bed, the little bugger is around here SOMEWH…Gotcha!  I hurl the tube at him.  Ooh.  GOOD reflexes.  Mm-hm!

“The manual says I’m supposed to ask you if you’re SURE at this point, but you’d probably club me to death with it if I took a time out.”

He can say that with the fullest confidence and HURRY THE HELL UP.

Jack futzes with the lube with ill grace, then kneels between my thighs, looking at me.  "Acushla," he announces in a tone that more or less garrottes the sentiment in its tracks.

I blush to the roots of my hair.  Tactically sappy Gaelic.  Is it any wonder I'm DESPERATE for Jack?  I LOVE this man.  And I'm desperate for him.

I'd be the first to admit I'm not TOTALLY up on positions for this, since my expectation first time out was to suck pillow rather than tongue, but Jack lifting my ass onto his thighs surprises me a little.  "Your knees?" I prompt anxiously.  I'm six feet tall.  I'm not light, even with the haircut.

Jack's eyes are black with desire and the sheer deadly menace he exudes sends delicious chills quivering down my spine.

"Alpha," I recognise happily.  "Woo Hoo!"  The menace becomes homicide-tinged.  "Help?" I offer unconvincingly in a small voice.  "I need some work on the…" I shrug.  Jack seems to agree.  "I'm trying," I complain.

"Very," Jack agrees silkily, taking hold of my hips.

I'm really glad for once I have these stupid gangly legs, because it's the easiest thing in the world to hook them right round his back.  Fucking is definitely going to be good for tone and definition.  Speaking of which…I love the hard warmth cradling my ass but not as much as I love the hard heat slowly, inexorably pushing into my ass.

"Oh, Jack," I moan, arching my back into the air to brace on my shoulders, arms outflung and clenching at the headboard as he thrusts into me.  Instinctually I push down and Jack cries out ecstatically as he glides home in one loooong smooooth stroke, right where my body needs him to be.  "Jaa-aack."

I'm mesmerised by Jack's starkly beautiful face, tense and greedy, pulled taut around liquid eyes filled with love as he tenderly fucks me.

"Loooove you," I moan, writhing hard against his thighs as he MOVES, stroking gently deep inside, powerful thigh muscles lifting me into his thrusts.

'Love you' Jack mouths, throwing back his head proudly.  His arms curve under my thighs and over my hips, holding my weight as he rocks easily into me.

He feels incredible, filling me, satisfying a need I didn't know I had, stroking into me with rhythmic, relentless discipline, into an ache of grief and fear I've known so long it's part of me.

"OhgodohgodohGOD-GOO-OOD," I groan as he lifts under me and strikes the sullen spot deep inside, pleasure stabbing through me to slam into my mind, turning circles.  My senses fall away from me. I know nothing but the soft words he murmurs and the feel of him, the beat of blood pulsing and throbbing the length of his penis, massaging muscles stretched tight to fit me to him exactly.  He moves tirelessly, subtly, stroking with aching tenderness into my prostate.  He's driving me out of my mind; pure, slowly intensifying sensation shuddering voluptuously through me, endlessly milking his penis.

"Ah, Danny, ah, CHRIST, love you, fucking LOVE you, ah, dear Goo-oo-ood," Jack hisses through clenched teeth.  "Soooo gooood."

I open heavy eyes and fight to focus on him, grunting and purple with effort, sweat rolling and dripping off his nose and chin as every muscle strains to hold him to this stunningly sleek, satisfyingly sloooow stroking deep inside.

Mine.  I didn't take, CAN'T take anything he doesn't GIVE.  Jack chose me, he waited for me and he is never, ever going to quit on me.  Never.  I'm not alone.  Jack is with me.

I love him and he's MINE.

He surges up, head snapping back, howling as I reflexively clench hard around him.  He stills, soft eyes wide and wild,  holding my gaze as his hips spasm and he comes luxuriously, pumping slick heat into me.  “Daaaanny.”

"Love you, Jack," I sigh as my shudders spill out of me to pulse over us both.  As he softens, Jack eases carefully free, tumbling down boneless into my waiting arms to kiss me at last, fast and furious, melting softness.  Jack.

Jack is with me, giving me the one thing I lost so long ago I can barely remember what it feels like.  My Jack is home to me.  I...I BELONG.

"Jack?" I whisper huskily into his ear as I cradle him to me.

"Mm-hm?" Jack gently kisses my brow.

"I have a confession to make."

"Mm-hm." He nibbles my - big shock here - hair.

"I HATE your stupid hockey hat," I say defiantly.

"Mm-WHAT?" Jack rears up, seething.

TEXTBOOK Alpha!  WOO HOO!  Bring It ON!  “Wanna hear that orgasm music?” I leer up at him, madly groping his ass.

“Jesus,” Jack bleats, beating my hands away, eyes appalled.  “I’ve created a MONSTER.”  He collapses on my chest, groaning pitifully.

“Now THAT’S quivery and helpless,” I observe complacently, clamping my hands back on his behind.

FINIS