"Hel-lo, Kawalsky," I say brightly.
"O'Neill?" He looks puzzled, as well he might.
"Get off me, Jack!" a muffled voice snarls into my shoulder.
I rise smoothly to my feet, take in the expression on Daniel's face and prudently step back out of range.
"Kawalsky!" Daniel beams up.
Kawalsky lowers his MP5, flashes that trademark grin of his and helps Daniel up. "Long time no see, Doc," he says cheerfully. "Must be four years since you kissed off the Air Force. I don't blame ya. Delaney was a bastard. We knew you wanted to stay but - ah, hell, water under the bridge. Good to see ya." Then he turns back to me and the MP5 is raised again. Quite definitely. "No offence, O'Neill, but hand over the weapons or I'll have to shoot ya."
I consider my options and surrender gracefully. "Tom Delaney?" He's the only Delaney I know. Kawalsky nods. "I didn't take the team through the Stargate?"
"Turned General West down flat." Kawalsky smiles again at Daniel and begins to shepherd us even further away from the quantum mirror I tackled Daniel through. People were shooting. So I - overreacted. A tad. I'm just a little off my game around Daniel at the moment. That whole business with the robots a couple days ago still has my nerves jangling. We hated the idea of losing ANY Daniel. Hammond didn't see why ALL of SG-1 should romp off-world to just touch base with our Daniel. I kinda insisted one of us got to go for the sake of plummeting team morale and then pulled rank on the other two. Carter was frankly sullen when I strolled into the gateroom. I only ate a few of the damn cookies. Teal'c was giving me - looks. Not happy. Big time not happy.
Me either. Without Daniel, we get on one another's nerves. With Daniel, we get on everybody else's. I had to get on Hammond's quite persistently to convince him to let me come here and I'm fairly certain he's never going to let me forget it was my fault Daniel and I wound up tumbling through the quantum mirror.
"Good to see me too?" I ask Kawalsky.
"I saw you two hours ago," he says flatly. "And now you're going to see you too."
"You couldn't just let us go back through the mirror?" Daniel asks hopefully.
Kawalsky softens visibly. "Can't do that, Daniel. Still got unfriendlies in the area. We'll need reinforcements to get you back safe and sound, and in the meantime the General will want to see you." With that, we're escorted with brisk efficiency to the Stargate, the trip punctuated by the sound of distant gunfire.
Did I mention people were shooting on this side too? Daniel was pinned beneath me for quite a while as I was merrily shooting anybody that wasn't us. He still looks ruffled.
"General?" I admit I'm curious to meet another me, preferably one who doesn't piss me off as much as the robot me did, but if this me blew off Abydos and got PROMOTED I'm betting I'm not gonna like what I see. I'm still embarrassed about being such a Roger Ramjet in the first alternate reality Daniel stumbled into.
"Doctor Carter?" Daniel asks as he unthinkingly goes to the DHD to dial us home. Kawalsky's 2IC shoots Kawalsky a look but he's happy to indulge Daniel. Guess the Daniel here made just as good an impression in this reality as mine did in ours.
"Captain Carter? Back at the base. Heads up the techies."
"She's not part of SG-1?" That surprises me. So, odds are she and I are together. Interesting.
"We don't need a scientist in combat. She's needed back at the base more."
"You're not peaceful explorers?" Daniel is disappointed. "No cultures, history, language?"
"Plenty of language, but I doubt it's the kind you mean. The missions are strategic, Daniel. We're out for technological gain. We'll be sending a team back for the mirror. Might be useful."
"Attention K-Mart shoppers," I mutter.
As the SFs trot through the event horizon, Kawalsky 'assists' my exit rather forcefully, making me stumble out onto the ramp in the gateroom. My alternate is waiting at the bottom of the ramp, glaring up at me. I glare right back. Daniel on the other hand has no qualms whatsoever, strolling straight past me and down the ramp.
"Jack?" Daniel says tentatively, holding out his hand.
The other me - er, Jack - thaws slightly and shakes Daniel's proffered hand just as Daniel blushes and withdraws it.
"This is Dr Jackson, Sir. If he's anything like the Daniel I remember, I'm happy to vouch for him," Kawalsky offers.
"Dr Jackson," Jack says coolly, with an embryonic upwardly mobile twitch of the lips.
"Daniel, please." Daniel insists, beaming up at him.
Jack seems - taller.
"Daniel," Jack says softly, the smile warming.
We going for some kind of record in long meaningful handshakes, here? Jack doesn't let go soon, it's going to look like they're holding hands. Finally, Jack gets the message and turns to lead us out of the gateroom.
"You're part of the SGC, Daniel?"
"There's no point -" I begin.
"I'm on SG-1 with Jack and Samantha Carter," Daniel says cheerfully.
"Interrogating us -" I continue.
"And Teal'c. Teal'c used to be First Prime of Apophis," Daniel blithely finishes.
"Because we won't tell you anything," I bite off the last few words and glare at Daniel. "Do you understand the concept of 'top secret', Daniel? It DOESN'T mean the secret you MOST want to give away."
Jack glares at me. "Don't you think sarcasm to your subordinates is not only unprofessional, but uncalled for in this case, Colonel? Finding out Captain Carter is toting an MP5 instead of a laptop is hardly a matter of earth-shattering strategic importance. And the very fact you have a civilian archaeologist on your team is enough to tell me your mission priorities aren't the same as ours. If you had advanced weaponry we could use, you'd be toting it, so let's just try to rein in that ego, and not embarrass ourselves in public more than we really have to, shall we?"
"'Subordinate'?" There's a slight edge to Daniel's soft voice.
Jack turns his back on me, sidles closer to Daniel and ushers him graciously into the briefing room. "Strictly a military term, denoting established differences in the varying levels of responsibility assigned to each rank," he explains fluently.
"Does that imply Jack is my 'superior'?" The edge is slightly sharper.
They both look at me, somewhat unenthusiastically.
"Fair point," Jack concedes, smirking.
As we settle down for the familiar debriefing, I can't help but notice Daniel winds up on Jack's right hand while I'm hustled along to the other end of the table. Out of the way? At least the robot me was pissed off at me. This one is barely aware I'm alive.
He seems to be fairly aware of Daniel's existence though. It's only polite to look at people when you talk to them, but his eyes seem to be dwelling on Daniel's face. Even when he's not actually talking to Daniel.
It's weirding me out. It's obvious the Daniel of this reality is sulking in Egypt somewhere because he wasn't allowed to stay with Sha'uri. This team killed Ra but it was the gate they blew. No possibility of a return visit. This Jack came on board when Hammond retired, just in time to do the Apophis meet and greet. Since they knew the Abydos gate had been destroyed, they didn't go looking for Daniel at this end to help them. Carter figured out the same stuff she figured out after Daniel told her what to figure out in our reality. Jack doesn't know his Daniel, let alone my Daniel. They just met. Why the interest? Where are the geek jokes? I mean, it didn't take long for Daniel's charm to win me over either, but I was still calling him a dweeb for quite some time after we met.
I have to face the appalling possibility this Jack is - is well adjusted. That the therapy paid off. The humour is cranked way down, but the warmth is cranked up to compensate. At least it is with Daniel.
"We have to be sent back through the mirror within forty eight hours," Daniel says. "That's the uppermost limit before entropic cascade failure sets in."
"That's BAD," I tell Jack, who has the slightly glazed look in his eyes I get when Daniel is talking. And talking. Or when the discussion gets scientific on me. Both things together is a killer. "We ARE time delineated here for the return to P4X-890."
The discussion turns to the tactical and it's Daniel's turn to glaze over. I find myself watching Jack watch Daniel as he orders a probe to be sent through to monitor the situation and discusses various assault scenarios. We get a preliminary plan licked into shape before Jack calls it quits and dismisses us.
Kawalsky stops by my chair. "We got a hockey game on tape in the rec room. You're welcome to join us, Jack. We're laying on the works." I can't get used to the fact Kawalsky is a colonel in this reality, but I don't mind the Jack, not from him. I've missed him. I grin back at him and nod. "Daniel?"
"I'll check in on Sam, say hi, compare notes," Daniel says cheerfully.
"Say hi to Carter for me too," I toss over my shoulder as I head out the door. A hockey game is definitely one up on a cell.
As my Jack heads out the door, this Jack turns to me and smiles. "Sorry, Daniel. Captain Carter is doing a series of briefings at the Pentagon. You'll have to compare notes with me instead."
There's all the comforting familiarity of my Jack, but this one seems calmer, more sure of himself. Or do I mean less cocksure?
"Don't you have any work to do? You are in command here, aren't you?"
Jack's eyes twinkle suddenly and the grin is pure unadulterated my Jack. "I hate paperwork so I have minions who do that stuff for me. The privilege of rank."
"Subordinates?" I suggest.
The grin widens. "Why don't I walk you to your quarters? You can tell me some more about your SGC." He sticks his hands in his pockets, quite relaxed as he strolls along, nodding coolly to anybody who crosses his path.
He's a bit more of a hardass than my Jack, less of the attitude and playfulness, but he's nothing like the Jack I first met when I translated that cartouche and opened the gate, or the Jack of the other alternate reality.
"I find it hard to believe you're allowed off-world. In my book, you protect irreplaceable assets. I don't know what my counterpart is thinking," Jack muses.
"Asset?" I've never been called an asset before. "Counterpart?"
"Hammond," Jack gives me that - warm - smile again. It's not the sort of smile I'm used to from Jack and it makes me smile right back at this Jack every time I see it. This Jack is just going out of his way to make me feel comfortable, I guess.
"Irreplaceable," he says softly.
I'm slightly embarrassed, flushing a little. Compliments make me nervous. I always find myself waiting for the 'but'.
"It's fairly obvious it was your knowledge that saved the day on Abydos in both realities, and your contribution in the briefing was impressive. I regret you aren't with the SGC here. We could use your expertise on some missions."
"You actually listened to me?" I'm astonished. "Jack usually glazes over. I thought you did too, to be honest." I give him an apologetic look, "I know you - him - very well."
"I was glazed over, but not because I wasn't listening. I heard every word you said. I was just thinking." Jack ushers me into the VIP quarters with a flourish, shutting the door firmly on the noise and bustle of the SGC. He picks up the phone and orders some food while I settle myself down at the table.
"What?" I ask.
"What were you thinking?"
"You really want to know, Daniel?"
"I was thinking what a waste," Jack grins.
"I don't understand." Waste of what?
"You. You're wasted on him."
"On Jack? He might seem a little impatient, but he does listen to me," I hesitate. "Most of the time, anyway. A lot of the time. Once he's sure I'm right. I mean - um."
"That's not why you're wasted on him."
"Oh." Um. "Why?"
"Took me about ten seconds to realise you were just about the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, and about ten minutes to realise you were the sweetest man I'd ever met," Jack tells me casually.
"Oh." Oh. "Oh."
"If a little on the shy side," he adds gravely, but his eyes are twinkling. "Basically, your Jack is either too stupid to live or in some kind of terminal macho hardass denial. If you were mine, we'd never get out of bed."
"Bed?" I squeak. There was a definite squeak and I was the one talking so I know it also has to be me doing the squeaking. And the blushing. It's either that or I've got a forest fire breaking out on my face.
"We'd be making love morning, noon and night," he says, eyeing me with obvious relish. "Okay. Make that a LOT on the shy side. Don't you have any idea how beautiful you are, or, for that matter, what it's doing to me, you licking your lips like that? Better stop that, actually. I might not be answerable for the consequences."
I'm saved by the food arriving, and have just about managed to claw my way back from incoherent, stuttering shock by the time my meal is set in front of me.
I do have a small set back when Jack disagrees with my assessment of how over this I am and puts my knife and fork into my hands, commenting about 'elegance' as he does so. I'm assuming he's not referring to the cutlery.
Then he sits down and grins at me. He's got this wicked light in his eyes I've never seen in Jack's. "You're sexy when you're open mouthed with astonishment."
"H - how can you t - talk to me like this?" I stammer.
"It's not TALKING, Daniel. It's FLIRTING," he corrects sternly.
"Oh," I say intelligently.
"Because I'm secure in my masculinity," Jack announces smugly
You - you think I'm beautiful?" I burst out. I think I'M glazing over.
"Heart stopping," Jack agrees equably, cautiously investigating his steak. "Particularly your mouth. The eyes are stunning, true enough, but they don't offer the same opportunities for interactivity as the lips." Jack looks intently at my lips. "Lush. That's the word that comes to mind. A lush, kissable pout." Jack pauses to chew some steak with obvious enjoyment. "An almost irresistible invitation. It's lucky I'm a gentleman or I'd be kissing you right now."
"Jack is divorced!"
Jack gives me a surprised look. "So am I."
"Jack has never wanted to kiss me!"
"I do, and if HE thinks he doesn't, he's lying to himself." The wicked gleam is very pronounced. "Trust me. He's me. I know." Jack eats in silence for a while, his eyes dwelling with obvious pleasure and admiration on my apparently beautiful face.
I'm just starting to relax and think the worst is over, so I pick up my fork and test my own steak cautiously.
"How about you?"
"Me?" I jump a little.
"Do YOU want me to kiss you?" Jack asks conversationally, as if it's the most natural thing in the world.
"I wouldn't strenuously object."
Oh my God! Who said that? He's not talking. Must have - must have been me. "Am I - am I - um - secure in my masculinity too?" I say. Pathetically. I know it.
"Daniel, I don't know you well enough to judge how secure you are, think we've got a few minor issues of self-confidence here, possibly due to your me, who doesn't seem to be taking very good care of your - you - but I believe I can say with absolute conviction your masculinity is NOT an area for concern." He eyes me thoughtfully. "Frankly, I'd like to see more of it on display, preferably draped fetchingly over the pillows, but insecurity is NOT an issue. Relax," Jack advises kindly.
"Relax?" I gasp. "You want to - to -"
"Make love?" Jack supplies helpfully.
"And now I want to - to - "
"Not issue a definitive refusal?" Jack suggests gently.
"I don't know what to say!"
"FAR be it from me to put words in your mouth, don't want you thinking there's any kind of hidden agenda on my part, but the words you're looking for here are 'YES PLEASE!' RIGHT NOW!" Jack says suggestively. "Just thought I'd give you a hint."
"A hidden agenda?" I'm incredulous. "If you were any more obvious, you'd be smacking me over the head and dragging me into your cave."
"That's an idea that has appeal on any number of levels."
"J - Jack!" Laughter is choking me. He's outrageous.
Jack beams at me. "That's very appealing too," he approves.
"You're a GENERAL."
"General's are people too."
"What am I going to do with you?" I sigh.
"If you're looking for suggestions," he begins hopefully.
"I'm not!" I say repressively.
Jack is crushed. Big, hurt eyes silently reproach my cruelty and general hard heartedness. I don't recall the intervening stages, but one moment I'm sitting on my chair laughing at him and the next I'm sitting on his lap, blushing at him. I know we're on his side of the table so I must have gone to him, I just - I don't remember doing it.
I give him a slightly embarrassed look. "You talked me into it," I accuse. He didn't actually - say - anything.
"I'm well known for having extraordinary powers of persuasion," Jack cheerfully admits his culpability as he lightly kisses the veins at my wrist, "and no moral fibre whatsoever. Or willpower. Not when it comes to inter-dimensional archaeologists, anyway."
Jack hugs me close as he leans in and gently brushes his lips against mine. When he leans back, I follow him and kiss him just as gently. He swipes his tongue over my bottom lip, making me shiver. He stops at once, concerned. I lick his lip. Then we - lick - tongues.
Jack makes three tactical decisions in quick succession. After a brief threat assessment, he determines my glasses are in mortal danger. A preliminary survey of the terrain suggests my jacket and his jacket are frankly in the way of mapping some crucial topography and must be disposed of without delay. Then he launches a full frontal assault, giving me plenty of time to utterly fail to escape the approaching incursion of his tongue into my mouth, wherein it wars pleasurably with my tongue.
I have no fault whatsoever to find with his command decisions, and am completely impressed by his firm grasp of the logistics of steering one thoroughly overexcited general and one ecstatically dazed inter-dimensional archaeologist over to the bed without breaking off the kiss at any point. He lowers me to the bed as if I am infinitely precious and fragile, then settles us side by side.
He's a wonderful kisser. Generous, tender, curious, passionate. Tasting every single part of my mouth with due care and attention, encouraging my tentative advances into his mouth, and all the while his arms are holding me, stroking me. Covetous hands slide down to my butt and pull me close to him. We kiss and kiss and kiss, my hands roaming all over the lean muscle of his back, warm through the soft cloth of his T-shirt. Somehow I wind up beneath him, my thighs parting, his hips rocking slowly, sensuously against mine. Someone is moaning. Possibly me. It's so - so warm and gentle. I realise I want to make love with him at the same time we both realise we can't.
Jack stares down at me with infinite sadness and regret. Then he kisses my brow tenderly and rolls us back over to our sides, arms and legs wrapping around me in a comprehensive, comforting embrace. The only sign of his physical distress is the hard heat still pressing against my abdomen, and his quickened breathing.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," I whisper, quite bewildered by the tumult of contradictory emotions.
"Don't be," Jack says firmly. "Your me definitely does not deserve your you. I'm embarrassed somebody so goddamn clueless and self-centred is walking around thinking he's the full meal deal."
A gentle hand cups my cheek and I nuzzle into it, grateful for the simplicity of his affection.
"I could so easily fall in love with you," he whispers.
"I fell in love with my you, and there's nothing easy about it," I murmur hopelessly. I was moaning alright. I was moaning 'Jack' over and over again, with such - longing - we both knew the Jack I meant wasn't the Jack in bed with me.
"I'm prepared to heroically sacrifice my principles and console you -"
"Stop interrupting. For throwing yourself away so lamentably, with - "
"WITH steamy sex."
"I'm awed by your selflessness," I say tartly. "Or I would be if you didn't have such a hard on and weren't thinking purely of yourself."
"Worth a shot," he says grinning. "And STOP wriggling like that!"
I flush miserably and shoot him an apologetic look from under my lashes. "I wanted to."
"I know, Daniel. Me too." Jack sighs.
"I still want to."
"I know. Me too. But it wouldn't be right."
"I know." I sigh. Then I stare at his mouth. He stares at mine. "How are our principles on the subject of kissing?"
"Mmmph." Very flexible. "Mmm." Wonderfully flexible in fact. "Just kissing?" I query, quite some time later, and somewhat breathlessly.
"Just kissing," Jack agrees sadly.
We kiss, talk and cuddle, then talk some more, then kiss a lot more, through the night. A lengthy arctic-cold blast of a shower takes care of the worst of the side effects of 'just kissing' and we sneak out, not ready to face the world, but definitely ready to take on pancakes in the commissary. We deserve something after a long night of heroic self-restraint and simmering unsatisfied sexual tension.
Jack's arm brushes against mine as we walk. He's pensive and silent as he calls the elevator. "Daniel? What's the natural habitat of a Dr Jackson?"
He is! He's blushing. "Are you serious?"
"Of course. I've been swayed by your persuasive arguments vis a vis peaceful exploration," Jack coughs slightly as I blush, some of the kissing shaded into a little peaceful exploring, though lips were quite definitely involved, "and feel Dr Jackson would make a valuable addition to the team." Then he gives me an anxious look. "Would Dr Jackson be receptive to the proposition?"
"I was," I say reassuringly.
"Can you picture a sweet, susceptible, unsuspecting Daniel Jackson innocently digging up some tomb?" Jack says dreamily.
"Not knowing he's got a terrifyingly horny, compellingly persuasive, downright sneaky Jack O'Neill stalking him through the dunes, just closing in for the -"
"Kiss," Jack finishes gleefully. "The Stargate AND my naked body? How could any man resist?" he asks with simple pride. I open my mouth to answer and he closes it with a gentle tap under my chin. "That was a rhetorical question."
We saunter into the elevator and unfortunately become very conscious of - mouths - yet again.
"I'm lucky I have to deal with my you. You have to deal with your me. What a loser! It's so embarrassing. I'm so embarrassed." Jack can't tear his eyes from my lips. "Just -"
"Kissing," I whisper and close in on Jack as the elevator doors close on...
In the second before the elevator doors close, I see. I see it all. His hands are on Daniel's butt. His tongue is in Daniel's mouth and his hands are on Daniel's butt.
That's MY Daniel you're mauling, asshole!
He was in Daniel's bed! All night. I followed them all the way from the VIP room to the elevator. Was he in - NO WAY. No fucking - excuse the expression - way! NOT my Daniel.
"SONOVABITCH!" I howl.
I call the elevator and wait in a frenzy of impatience. First the robot me freaking out over losing robot Daniel, now this! I know what was going through that robot's mind. I KNOW. I haven't been that pissy since I separated from Sara. My WIFE. I knew. I knew when I saw his reaction to us finding out he lost his Daniel. They were SO doing it. He goddamn HATED the fact I still had my Daniel. I'm goddamn glad I didn't have my Daniel with me or he'd have been beating the robot me off with a zat gun come time to gate home.
I punch in the number and prowl restlessly around the elevator.
Talk about out of the frying pan. I was watching a dumbass hockey game while this slimy rat bastard was seducing MY Daniel. Now he's after the one that belongs here, too! I mean, I know I've always had this twins fantasy, but NEVER have I fantasised about twin Daniel's. O'Neill had my Daniel naked and horizontal a few hours after meeting him. The poor kid here doesn't stand a chance. He'll be on his back in some tomb before he knows what's hit him.
Screw forty eight hours. We're getting out of here NOW. Today.
How come? How come whatever O'Neill has works for him in a few hours, and whatever I've got fails to work for me in four years? How come I'm even asking myself that? I'm straight! He's straight. He might have just had SEX with me - with O'Neill - but that doesn't mean any of the three of us aren't - can't this crate go any FASTER? Thank you!
It's early. Barely five am. The commissary is deserted except for Daniel and O'Neill, cosied up in the farthest corner from the kitchen staff.
"Oatmeal!" I order tersely. Hurry up! "Thank you." I stalk over. They're so engrossed they don't even hear me coming.
"This seat taken?" I ask brightly, forcing Daniel to move over one so O'Neill has to play footsie with ME, he wants to get playful. Daniel blushes furiously and stares at his plate. He can't even look me in the eye.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO DANIEL, YOU BASTARD?
"So, you come here often?" I smile daggers at O'Neill.
"Jack," a small, soft voice pleads.
"What?" both his available Jack's answer in identical tones of sympathy and concern. The mutual hostility level cranks up. Never taking his eyes from mine, O'Neill slides his plate over in front of Daniel and follows. He glares at me and smiles tenderly at Daniel.
"Daniel, I'm shocked at the suggestion. Colonel O'Neill's grasp of military discipline and acceptable conduct may be shaky at best, but even he wouldn't be dumb enough to pick a fight in public with a SUPERIOR officer. " His eyes say he could take me with both hands behind his back, or preferably round my throat. "Relax and eat your pancakes. You need to keep up your strength."
Daniel is blushing as he bats his eyes at O'Neill. He never bats his eyes at me. He batted them at Aris Boch one time, but not at me. He can turn on the charm for deranged junkie bounty hunters but not his best friend? Why not? What's wrong with me?
Er - what is wrong with me? If this were CARTER that O'Neill was cosying up to, I could understand it. I mean, he's got one of his own but - He's got one of his own but one look at Daniel turns him into Cro Magnon Man? All the other me's want Carter, right? I mean, they don't just want her because they've never met Daniel? Right? Right.
The robot me could have had Carter. He actually had Daniel. I'm pretty sure he had Daniel.
I've got both Carter AND Daniel, which puts me in the minority and I - I want - I - Daniel is licking his lips. O'Neill is watching him licking his lips. I'm watching him licking his lips. Daniel has to stop licking his lips before I'm forced to kill O'Neill and lick Daniel's lips for him. He has to stop now. Really. STOP, already!
Thank God. And leave the glasses ON. Don't encourage the SOB. Not like he NEEDS encouragement. He's all grits and vinegar over there.
"The MALP telemetry is encouraging. I'm sending in an assault team at nine hundred hours. You're VERY welcome to join them," O'Neill drawls in my general direction, without taking his focused attention from Daniel's face. "Lend them the benefit of your - er - expertise. I'm sure we can find something useful for you to do."
His tone suggests just because he can't think of a single thing doesn't mean there isn't one. Perhaps - dying?
A choked giggle from Daniel draws an indulgent smile and they share another of those little glances that are eating into my gut like hydrochloric acid. What did O'Neill mean, about me being a loser? Just because he gets to have Daniel and I don't? I've never wanted Daniel. Not like that. We're friends. That's all.
"What do you have planned for ME to do today?" Daniel asks sweetly. "Is there anything I can help you with, while I'm here?"
"I'm planning to add a civilian contingent to the SGC. Perhaps you could give me some pointers on how I can help make the transition from civilian to - peaceful explorer - as smooth as possible."
Daniel chokes on his pancake and glares at O'Neill, the severity lasting all of about ten seconds.
"Would you have time for an - oral - debriefing, Daniel? I might be able to drop by your quarters, grab some lunch."
O'Neill is staring at Daniel's mouth. Daniel is staring at O'Neill's mouth and I'm pretty sure neither of them even remembers I'm here.
No way. NO WAY does he sneak off for a lunchtime quicky with my best friend. I don't blame Daniel for being susceptible. He's been alone and celibate for far too long. How can I blame him for vulnerability? For being lonely and looking for a little comfort? I can't blame Daniel, but by God I can and do blame myself. Him. O'Neill took advantage of that vulnerability. He seduced Daniel.
Daniel deserves so much better than a one night stand. He deserves to be with someone who loves him, who cares for him as much as I do. Who'll take care of him the way I would. Daniel lay down with O'Neill, let O'Neill kiss him, touch him. Daniel let a man with my face make love to him. Not me. I - he - he wasn't ready. He missed her so much and he wasn't ready to see - he was - he was supposed to see ME. He was supposed to come to ME. I was right there in front of him the whole time and he chooses this stranger with my face instead? What does that say about me? It's not gender, it's not packaging. It's ME.
He doesn't want ME.
"When are you sending us through?" I ask O'Neill quietly.
"When my people have checked out the area and we're sure it's safe for Daniel - and you - on both sides of that mirror. Realistically, do you think your people will be there? If not, mine will go through the mirror with you, see you to the Stargate and return."
"Hammond won't sit idly by while he thinks we're in danger. My expectation is that my people will have secured our end of the mirror. I doubt we'll need an escort through, but it's always better to plan for the worst."
Daniel isn't going to feel guilty about this, is he? When we get home. He's not going to be looking at me and thinking of O'Neill, is he? I don't want that, don't want to catch the fallout if - or knowing Daniel, when - his guilt comes marching home. If I'd been the one in that bed with him, making love to him…
I shove my oatmeal away roughly.
"Jack?" Daniel is startled.
"I feel the abrupt need for a change of air," I snarl and stalk off without a backward glance.
"What a charming display of good manners," O'Neill calls out after me with withering scorn.
I don't care. I feel sick. Seething with jealousy and rage. I'm in love with Daniel. God help me, I've been in love with him for months. I've wanted him for months. I've been needing him, desiring him - fighting him, blaming him. Pushing him away.
Lying to myself.
O'Neill is right. I am a loser. I stalk back to my quarters, scattering SFs from my path as I go. Slamming the door behind me does nothing to vent my feelings. I throw myself down on the bed. I could have had Daniel. I wanted him and I could have had him. The fact he went for O'Neill at all tells me that. The fact that he went to O'Neill and not to me tells me I'm not ever likely to have him. Too late.
He's my best friend. The best person I know, the most generous, compassionate and most honest man you could imagine. He thinks the world of me, always has. I've taken him for granted. Refused to think outside the box he sometimes thinks the Air Force trapped me in.
He's beautiful. So very beautiful. All that flawless pale golden skin, stunningly clear deep blue eyes. Soulful eyes. Always that sweet, serious expression on his face. The rare smile that lights his face, sometimes with mischief, always with warmth. The lips. Oh, God, his lips. A natural pout. My hand fumbles at my zipper almost against my will, freeing an erection already at aching hardness. I think of Daniel's lips and stroke myself. Think of kissing that perfect pout; breathing quicker. All that soft skin on his perfect body, the body I've seen a time or few in the showers; hand pumping now, gasping. Think of him writhing beneath me, loving him, thrusting into him, hips arching off the bed; coming, HARD, oh God…"Daniel!"
I curl into a ball with the evidence of my own misery drying on me. I wilfully drove him away.
A knock at the door makes me jump. My suggestion that the person on the other side should fuck off and die is not well received. The door opens in response to my weary "Come in," and Il Generalísimo stalks in, eyeing me with contempt.
"Took you goddamn long enough. You SO don't deserve Dan."
"DAN? His name is Daniel, you bastard! Dr Jackson to you."
"He was perfectly happy to have me call him Dan." O'Neill licks his lips, dreamily. "Amongst other things."
I hate this man so much my hands are shaking. "Did you sleep with him?" I snarl.
"He was curled up next to me all night," O'Neill says smugly. "The skin? It's flawless, all over. Like silk. Warm. Trembling. And he moans so appreciatively whenever you touch him. So responsive, so sensual. You'd never know… excuse me. You'll never know."
A few seconds later he's at my feet, clutching his jaw. I'm desperately clutching my fist.
"Christ! You've got a -"
"You bastard. You get to have your quicky and I get to take him home and pick up the pieces. He's doing just great, just great. Hathor, Shyla, The Destroyer of Worlds, now you. Hell of a record. All of you fucked him and fucked him over. I could kill you for taking advantage of him."
"He's not a child, even if you do treat him like one. Get your own house clean before you piss in mine." O'Neill gets to his feet in a way that suggests his knees are in better shape than mine. "I came to tell you that you'll be going home in two hours. The site is clear and Kawalsky is confident he can ensure Daniel's safety." He turns and stalks over to the door.
"Where the fuck are you going?" I demand suspiciously.
"To Dan, of course. He's waiting for me. In bed."
"You're going to make love to him again," I grind out, choking on the hateful words and down on the pain. "Wasn't once enough?"
"Once?" O'Neill raises his eyebrows. "I may be forty five but I'm not dead. And yes, I'm going to do every single thing Dan wants me to and allows me to. As often as I can in the little time we have left." He smirks at me, licking his lips with relish as he opens the door. "Eat your heart out."
Jack shuts the door behind him. "The probe is showing a clear site. Kawalsky is setting up a perimeter guard. If it still looks clear in two hours, you have a go to return through the mirror." He sighs.
"That's good news. I'm glad no one was hurt?" My voice rising in question.
"Very low key operation after all the shooting yesterday. All my people are fine. Otherwise it's terrible news."
Then he grins and pounces, tumbling me down to the bed, kissing me madly, his tongue thrusting down towards my tonsils. Deepening and softening the kiss with long, tender strokes of his tongue against mine.
When he releases me I smile up at him. "Your Daniel is a very lucky man."
"I think," I say gravely. "I'm him. I KNOW."
"What if he tells me to take a hike?"
"Kiss him," I instruct.
"What if he's with someone?"
"He won't be. It would have taken him a long time to get over Sha'uri and I - I'm a bit of a loner. I don't feel all that comfortable around most people. I've never been what you would call physically demonstrative."
"Ha! This from the peaceful explorer himself!" Jack says gleefully.
I hate he makes me blush again. "Except with you. Him. Both of you. You'll be fine with your Daniel, take it from me."
"Think he'd go nuts if I called him Spacemonkey?" Jack chuckles malevolently.
"Was I drunk last night?" I groan. "Did I tell you everything?"
"No hiding behind that lame excuse, kid. You drank water and yeah, pretty much everything."
"Do you know why he called me that?" I ask curiously.
"Yeah, Dan, I do." Jack's eyes soften. "But it's private. If he hasn't told you, I won't break the confidence."
"I know you won't," I agree softly. "Now, about this just kissing? I'm thinking we've got the 'just' but where's the kissing, hmm?" There's an explosion of general against me. "Mmmmph - better - mmm. Mmm." I sigh and snuggle in for my quality time, of which there is very little remaining. There's something about a little sweet sin that makes it go a very long way. It has to go a very long way because I won't be getting any more, ever, not this particular flavour.
"Mmm atcha!" Jack is also enthusiastic about sharing quality time. He proves it to me for quite a lot of our time and curses a blue streak when he has to answer the phone. I can see by the look on his face we can't stave off the inevitable any longer. Time to go. I jump up and walk into his waiting arms for a bone cracking hug.
I have to swallow a lump in my throat. "Jack used to hug me like this," I say gruffly. "Before - before he turned to Sam and shut me out."
"Lowlife bastard," Jack growls, hugging me closer. "Ah, Dan, if only you'd let me get naked. Morals are a pain in the ass. More of a pain even than I wanted to be in your virgin ass."
He chuckles with no guilt whatsoever, thoroughly enjoying making me blush.
"Just to be fair to my you, I'm gonna take him an MP5 and give him a short head start. Sound okay?"
"I don't use an MP5 and I can guarantee you he can't either."
"Then I'll teach him. Like this." Jack spins me around and spoons up behind me, his arms reaching along mine and taking my hands as he mimes sighting a gun and pulling the trigger. It seems to necessitate what I can only describe as a lot of snuggling and a developing - interest - in a part of his anatomy that has never quite given up hope.
"Think this would work on my Jack?" I sigh.
"Dan, you breathing should be working on your Jack, because I swear, in all the realities graced by your presence, it's working on every other Jack."
"Just my luck," I say, my voice trembling.
"Bastard. I should just shoot him and take you back my - " Jack trails off. I almost see the light bulb going off.
"No. NO. He'll go nuts! You saw how he was this morning and he doesn't even know! No," I insist.
"I want to."
"But I want to."
"I could spend the night with you there too. Just to drive him that extra bit crazy."
"Jack? Is this about me or him?" I ask quietly.
"You and me. I want to see your SGC. I need some evidence of how civilians can be merged into a military operation."
"That almost sounds plausible," I marvel, "If I didn't know you had a hidden agenda."
"It's not hidden. It's poking you in the butt. Your very pert and perfect butt," Jack moans as I wriggle said butt against him. "You're damnably hard hearted, Dan."
"You're damnably hard, Jack," I say smugly.
"Can I sleep over? At your place? Big bed?"
"Huge. No. I have artefacts and neither of you is house trained, and anyway I'm wandering from the point. You're not coming. No way."
A rap on the door has Jack - my Jack - bursting in behind it. He freezes at the sight of us, spooned up together.
"I'm just teaching Daniel how to shoot an MP5," Jack says chattily. "It's all in the - wrist - action."
"Jack? Are you feeling well? You look a little pale." He looks dreadful. I shrug a slightly resistant Jack off and go to my Jack, touching my hand gently to his forehead. No temperature.
"I don't feel so hot. Feel nauseated for some reason," Jack says tiredly, but he's smiling at me. A warm smile that goes with the curiously gentle warmth in his eyes, making my heart skip a beat.
"I've decided to pay a visit to your SGC," says an individual I recognise as General O'Neill. Jack's eyes go flinty and he steps in front of me.
"Wanna play in my house now?" he asks softly. "Bring it on, fl - er - I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Jack ostentatiously ignores my Jack, smiles warmly at me and strolls out the door to make the necessary arrangements.
"Fl - ?" I query.
"Fly Boy," Jack admits, embarrassed. Then he looks at me searchingly, his hand settling on my shoulder. His proximity makes me blush and shift in front of him. After a moment he steps back, slipping his hand into his pocket. "You okay, Daniel?"
I feel the heat bloom in my cheeks. "Yes. Wh - why wouldn't I be?"
"No reason," Jack admits, smiling that soft smile at me again. Then he jerks his head at the door, "Time to hit the gate, Daniel. Let's go."
Two identical looking men, yet only one of them makes me feel this way. Totally alive, every nerve ending tingling with the sheer force of his presence, and totally miserable because he's forever denied me. The other is warm and tender, and wants me desperately, but if I let him make love it would be for all the wrong reasons. We walk slowly to the gateroom and wait, only patiently in my case, for Jack to join us. When he does, he's in those jungle fatigues the marines wear and is what I've heard so quaintly referred to as loaded for bear. He looks just as comfortable as my Jack, which annoys him no end. Well, both of them really.
I insinuate myself between them, which has them both looking at me and allows the boiling hostility to reduce to a simmer. Both Jack's step closer and hover - er - protectively. Protecting me from what, I'm not sure. When the gate activates, my Jack takes point, I take - um - middle - and Jack takes the rear. I'm pretty sure I feel his hand on it as we walk into the event horizon. We're both laughing when we emerge on the other side, which irks my Jack considerably.
"Daniel, you're with ME," he orders sharply so I trail into my accustomed place at his shoulder.
"I've got your six, Daniel," Jack calls provocatively.
"Watch your intervals," Jack snaps.
And so it goes, every step of the way from gate to mirror, making Kawalsky smirk right until the point where he sees us safely through and Major Deeley smirk every step of the way back from mirror to gate on our side. Jack manages to get my six a couple times, even with the audience. He's got lightning reflexes.
Jack radioed ahead, so General Hammond has been briefed to expect a visitor. I emerge from the event horizon to find the general, Sam, Teal'c and Janet hovering in the gateroom and smile inclusively at them all. Jack and my Jack settle back on either side of me.
"Welcome to the SGC, General," George says calmly.
"Thank you, General. I'm happy to be here," Jack says calmly. He's standing slightly behind me.
I lean in and breathe, "Don't even think about it," lips barely moving.
"No fun, Spacemonkey," Jack breathes back.
"Daniel!" my Jack snaps.
"Heel!" Jack raps out in exactly the same tone of voice. "Good boy, Daniel." He looks at me and mutters, "Asshole." Then he looks at my Jack again. "Let's try to work on our people skills, shall we, Colonel?" before strolling down the ramp to shake hands with George. George looks slightly dazed as well as amused.
"Oh my God!" Two of them.
"Janet!" I snap, shocked. She twinkles at me and I cave. "Woof. Woof."
"They are SO doing it," she sighs.
"I know, I can't believe it. They were only gone one night. Still, it's past time. The colonel -"
"The colonel? I mean the general!" Janet yelps.
"I believe BOTH O'Neill's have a romantic interest in DanielJackson," Teal'c says smoothly.
We all look. Two O'Neill's, hovering like avenging angels over Daniel's shoulders, all sweetness and light to him and just hating the hell out of each other.
"Oh momma!" Janet groans. "Better have the Infirmary on full medical alert."
"The morgue," I moan.
We both turn to Teal'c in surprised admiration. He beams at us, without twitching a muscle. He's ever quick with the bon mot.
"I believe General O'Neill just placed his hand on DanielJackson's -"
"Derriere?" Janet suggests, awed.
"Ditto," I gasp, eyeing certain incendiary emotions on the colonel's face as he catches on. "Somebody - worse, another O'Neill - dared to lay hands on his little Spacemonkey - right in front of him!" It's too terrifying to contemplate. I had a brief flirtation with certain feelings vis a vis the colonel earlier this year but a few things stopped me from taking it further. I prefer the colonel to Jack. I prefer physics to the colonel. The colonel prefers Daniel to me. C'est la vie. If the colonel thinks any different he's damn well lying to himself and to his beloved Spacemonkey. "I'm going to clean up in the 'Who's O'Neill Doing In This Reality Pool'," I gloat.
"Me too," Janet chuckles.
"As will I," Teal'c agrees.
I've always had my suspicions about the alternate reality Carter's. Especially after I'd met one of them. I'm really embarrassed I'm such a bitch as a civilian. After the appalling news broke about the engagement, I grilled Daniel pretty thoroughly. My sweet baby spilled. I deduced that General O'Neill may have been saddled with Sammie Dearest (With Excruciating Hair Regrettably Not An Optional Extra) but he took one look at our darling Daniel and melted like butter under a blowtorch. If he hadn't died heroically doing the right thing for Daniel's sake and if the world hadn't blown up in their faces, my money would have been on flight plans to Egypt to be by the side of his very own Daniel, not wedding plans with the alt bitch.
I'm right about the hair. I know it. I briefly flirted with growing mine, and sort of fell for the colonel, sort of lost all ability to function as a rational human being with a will of her own and sort of became a bitch. It's a bizarre twisted Samson thing.
I am SO looking forward to this briefing. "Who's the smart money on?"
"The general is smokin'," Janet insists.
"The colonel," I decide. "He's sneaky!" I snap when they give me surprised looks.
"I believe DanielJackson has been intimate with General O'Neill. I regret I will be forced to kill O'Neill if he has coerced DanielJackson in ANY way."
"Get in line," Janet snaps, eyes kindling. We keep a respectful distance. She's the scariest person we know.
We watch Daniel interacting with both O'Neill's, who are blatantly competing for his total, undivided attention. He's starting to look a little punchy, bless him. Fortunately, our general never picks up on subtext or both O'Neill's would be in a cell right now for sexual harassment, just for the naked, raw animal magnetism being projected at Daniel in there. The O'Neill's are indeed smokin' when they're dangerously jealous and pissy as hell.
They've simply never looked better.
"A tragedy looking for a place to happen," Janet mourns.
"Guys, we have to be prepared for the very real possibility one of them may not survive the next twenty four hours," I smirk. "Looks like FUN!"
"Dr Jackson graciously consented to allow me to stay with him," General O'Neill announces as we take our seats. "At his place. I'm looking to recruit our Dr Jackson to the Stargate programme and Daniel has graciously consented to -"
Colonel O'Neill's face freezes. "Give ya an oral debriefing?" he growls, looking anywhere but at Daniel.
I guess Daniel had better make that three for dinner.
"Dr Jackson?" the general queries gently.
"I'll vouch for Jack, General," Daniel says happily. "He's like my Jack," he glances shyly up at the colonel, smiling tentatively, blushing a little.
The colonel's face flushes too. I exchange surreptitious glances with Janet and Teal'c. The colonel is IN LOVE. He's stone gone on Daniel. Love, friendship, affection. Hideously embarrassing teenage crush. Rampaging hormones. The works. In love.
Something will have to be done. Before the colonel does something Daniel will make him regret.
I still can't believe General Hammond not only gave Il Generalísimo the deluxe tour of the SGC, but pandered to his every whim vis a vis seeing the civilians in action. This meant I was hustled out of the way to do paperwork while O'Neill tenderly escorted Daniel back to his office and spent the whole afternoon closeted with him.
The light is still on in the living room and off in the bedroom. It's not late, but that's encouraging, right? Uncontrollable passion hasn't dragged them into the bedroom or anything. Pretty sure.
I can't see a goddamn thing, and I know it isn't the focus on the binoculars, so banging them off the steering wheel is not helping. Venetian frigging blinds.
I check my watch. Damn. Only eight pm. They'll still be eating. They'll eat and THEN O'Neill will pounce, carrying Daniel off to his own bed for mind blowing hot sex.
I'm outta the Explorer and across the street in Daniel's lobby before you can say justifiable homicide. I smile at the doorman, who gives me a very surprised look. He should do, he saw the other me walking in with Daniel a couple hours ago. I'm not dumb. My brain might be in my shorts but I'm not dumb. I've been watching the doorman too.
"I went out for Scotch," I brandish a bottle of twenty five year old Glen Farclas at him. "You weren't at the desk," I add sternly.
He's still flushed and apologising as he ushers me into the elevator. I while away the ride up to Daniel's floor trying to work out just how it was Hammond agreed to hand over my Daniel to a rampant sex fiend like O'Neill, and how the pair of 'em gave me the slip and snuck back here.
I tap lightly on the door and wait impatiently. If O'Neill answers, I'm punching his lights out, that's a given.
"Daniel!" I'm smiling at him involuntarily. Blushing. Oh. My. God. Barefoot. Soft pants. Softer shirt. Unbuttoned. Skin. Silken - warm - skin. Navel. God. Blushing. Hair. Soft. Mussed. Swollen lips. Thoroughly - kissed. Kissable.
"NOT yours - mmph!"
I yank him out the door, spin us, get a good grip under his butt, lift him. He hangs on crazily for balance, arms around my neck, legs wrapping around my back as I shove us up against the wall and kiss him wildly, reaming out his sweet - impossibly sweet - kissable mouth.
My tongue stroking against his, plunging down for his tonsils. Swiping over his palette, making him whimper. Drowning in sensation, grinding my hips against his, in perfect time with my tongue thrusting in his mouth. Sobbing for breath and still hanging on. Never letting go.
"Good evening, Daniel. Colonel Jack," a gentle voice rings out behind me, making me jump. I reluctantly release Daniel's lips.
"G -g - good evening, Mrs. Lewicki," Daniel stammers over my shoulder.
"Ma'am," I say politely. What can I do? She's seventy if she's a day.
"'Bout damn time, Colonel Jack. Thought you boys would never get it together. My goddamn cat knew before you did."
She's a little old lady. I never said she was a nice little old lady.
I become aware I have an achingly intimate armful of infuriated archaeologist. I am in fact certain that putting Daniel down any time soon is an immensely bad idea. With his legs wrapped around me like this, he can't, for example, knee me in the groin. This is an action his expression suggests he'd very much like to vigorously explore.
I feel a chasm opening beneath my feet.
I've also got years of Special Forces training. I gotta get out fast. I take a deep breath, drop my love on his ass and leap back out of range, anxiously asking if he's okay. It seems a little inadequate.
"No," Daniel whispers, as pale as he was flushed a moment ago.
"No!" Daniel snaps as he makes it - shakily - to his feet.
"NO." Daniel snarls as I close in on him again, fending me off with a hard shove. He's trembling pitiably.
"NO!" Daniel yells as he slams the door in my face. After a moment of ringing silence, the door opens again. "You DON'T get to want me just because he does! I am not your me, I'm MY me - and that goes for YOU too!" he rages in the general direction of his living room.
I guess O'Neill just got it in the neck too.
"No. Jack, you don't get to have me. Not this way." His eyes are full of hurt and sorrow. And profound disappointment. He closes the door gently.
"Colonel, open the door!"
"Dunno him. Doesn't live here. Sure you've come to the right place, Carter?"
"Sir! If you don't open this door, Teal'c is busting it - dammit, Janet!"
"Or we could just try the handle first, Sam. Toting that MP5 seems to be lowering your IQ at the same time as it raises the testosterone level."
"Carter? Is that you?"
"No, Sir. It's Doctor Fraiser. Why don't you just give me that bottle and - okay -Teal'c! Get in here!"
I hug my bottle jealously. "Get your own. This was expensive. Older n' me. Twenty five."
"Only older than your hormones, then, Sir," Janet says cheerfully as the room tilts and sways.
"Y'r upside down," I say.
"No, Colonel, that's you."
"Carter? Is THAT you?"
"This time it's me, Sir."
I look down. "Who's this?"
"Teal'c doesn't look like this."
"Not from the front, Sir, no."
Teal'c drops me on my sofa. I gain a Carter on one side and a Fraiser on the other. Teal'c in front of me.
"Thass my chair."
"Sir, did you make the egregious error of going over there to see Daniel?" Carter asks.
"Yess," I hang my head.
"I kissed him."
"Get some glasses," Janet groans after a very long silence.
Carter pours the drinks. They look at the drinks. They drink the drinks. I sip my black coffee. Teal'c is designated sane person.
"What did you say to him, BEFORE you kissed him, Sir?" Carter asks. She does that a lot.
"I said Daniel." They look at me. I been interrogated. I look down. You don't talk until irreparable damage has been done and then you lie. "I said - I said MINE. Then I kissed him." Wasn't I supposed to lie?
"Dear God," Janet groans again.
Janet pours the drinks. They look at the drinks. They drink the drinks.
"What kind of kiss? Soft, romantic?" Janet begins hopefully.
"I picked him up, shoved him against a wall and stuck my tongue down his throat. Next door's cat said it was about goddamn time."
"O'NEILL. When you have returned to sobriety I will be forced to harm you."
"Shoot me. Whatever." I turn to Carter desperately. "I dropped him on his ass and he said No, No, No, No."
"Yes!" I sigh. "He said he was his me not my me."
Carter sighs. Janet sighs. Teal'c is too busy glaring to be sympathetic.
"He said 'Jack, you don't get to have me. Not this way'."
Don't yell, Carter. Got a broken heart, here.
"Sir! Why didn't you say something sooner! For God's sake, men always miss the damn point," Janet snaps.
"O'Neill gets my Daniel and he gets his Daniel too. Goin' to get him when he gets home."
"That's SO romantic," Carter says dreamily.
"It's not fair. Why does he get to have both?" I mourn.
"At least you're in other realities, sir," Janet complains, drinking a drink I don't remember her looking at.
"I destroy the Earth," Teal'c intones.
"I'm a bitch with bad hair," Carter flinches when we all look at her.
As trauma goes, that's not bad, a fact we all acknowledge, but…
"I want my Daniel," I say pathetically. "But my Daniel wants me. He doesn't want ME."
"Sir, he does want YOU. Don't you understand? Daniel saying no," Carter begins.
"Whispers, snaps, snarls, YELLS no," I say sadly, hanging my head.
"Whoo! Must have been one HELL of kiss," Janet admires.
"Yep!" Carter agrees happily.
"Can we make my tragedy a little less upbeat?"
"It's not a tragedy, sir, unless you screw it up again. Daniel saying no was a very encouraging sign. It means he feels very differently about YOU kissing him than he does about the General kissing him!"
"HAMMOND's been kissing my Danny too! Sonovabitch!"
"General O'Neill, Sir," Carter is trying not to laugh.
"Oh. Not that I'm jealous or anything…"
"Perish the thought, Sir," Janet assures me. Her voice is shaking.
"Your timing was inappropriate, O'Neill," Teal'c unexpectedly enters the tragedy-fest. "What was DanielJackson to think but that you were jealous of O'Neill and wished to partake of what DanielJackson had surrendered up to O'Neill so freely?"
"He was seduced by that bastard! He didn't surrender anything! And I don't wish to partake - I mean I DO, of COURSE, have you SEEN him? He beautiful! - but it's because I LOVE him, not because I'm a horny bastard." There is a certain judgemental quality to the silence. "As well as being a horny bastard," I amend sullenly.
"You have to prove you love Daniel, Sir. Wait until O'Neill has gone, and try a romantic gesture," Carter suggests.
"Concentrate on talking, on FEELINGS. Be sensitive and caring."
"No sex, Janet?" Sounds lame. "Have you ever SEEN him? Y'know? My Daniel?" I ask incredulously. And they've both got more drinks which they are drinking. "Hotter than Mount Vesuvius."
"NO, Sir. Do the talking right and you might get to make love, though."
"Not even a little -"
"I will be forced to inflict permanent damage."
He'd be worth it. Whadda I do? What's a suitably romantic gesture? "I know!"
"Damn! Wasn't even THINKING that."
We brood. They drink more drinks. I drink more coffee. I have no dating skills. I was married. You don't date people you're married to. I have military skills. Tactics. Weapons. Black Ops.
How romantic is kidnapping?
"I'm going to miss you," I sigh, snuggling into Jack's welcoming arms one last time.
"I'm going to miss you too, Dan. The other Daniel? Even if things work out, well, he won't be you. He'll be him. Y'know?"
That's Jack, inarticulate to the last, once you've ploughed through his bullshit. "I know," I say gently as his lips close on mine for the very last time.
"Spacemonkey. Yeah," Jack sighs in my ear.
"It's fun to canoodle with a general in an elevator on a military base, especially after the way SOME military personnel have treated me recently."
Jack seems to be laughing at me. "You shoulda let me punch his lights out."
"I don't know how he DARED to turn up out of the blue and kiss me like - like THAT!" I rage.
"I know. It bothered you. Terribly. All night. I could hear your moans of - er - distress, and was happy to comfort them away once you'd woken up."
"I was distressed," I say with quelling dignity.
"Extremely. Moaning in a truly heart-rending fashion," Jack agrees calmly. "I never assumed for a second that just because you were in love with him and he makes your heart skip a beat every time he smiles you, you would be anything other than deeply distressed he picked you up and kissed you in a rampantly Alpha Male display of -"
"Shut up, Jack."
"Would that exact approach work on my Daniel?" Jack asks hopefully, after a respectful silence.
"Absolutely," I sigh mournfully.
We walk into the gateroom side by side. Jack shakes hands with George, with Teal'c, with Sam and Janet, who are both rather pale and wearing sunglasses, rather like female Air Force Blues Brothers. My Jack is also wearing his sunglasses, which makes most of the blood in my body plummet straight down.
"Photosensitivity experiment went wrong," Sam explains fluently, wincing.
"Medical necessity," Janet squeaks, holding her head.
"Uugh," Jack groans.
The klaxon seems to be causing them actual physical pain.
"General." Jack nods. Then he cuts my Jack dead and hugs me. "Been a pleasure, Dr Jackson."
"Good luck," I say earnestly.
Jack glances at my Jack. "Bad luck," he says sincerely. Then he nods at all of us and strides up the ramp and away from us forever. I sigh again.
"Photosensitivity? Try hangovers," George contradicts sternly. "I'll see the three of you in my office later, and we can talk about the joys of temperance. Dr Jackson, Teal'c."
"I have work to do, Jack, so if you'll excuse me?" I say haughtily, turning on my heel and marching out. I think I hear a scuffle breaking out but don't look back.
"Two flat tires? How could I possibly have gained two flat tires since this morning?" I rage.
"I have no idea." Jack says carefully, eyeing me warily from a safe distance. "But it looks like you're going to have to let me drive you back."
When I don't cave instantly, Jack loses his temper.
"For God's sake, Daniel, don't be so damn childish. I can hardly pounce on you while I'm driving, can I?" His eyes soften. "And you're dead on your feet. Two nights without sleep."
I blush furiously. I think it would be far more humiliating for me to admit Jack and I didn't have sex than it is for my Jack to assume we had sex.
Jack's face softens even more and a gentle hand cups my head for a moment. "Let me take you, Daniel, please?"
I hate myself for being weak as I stare at his lips and swallow. I trail along helplessly in his wake. Why does he have to be so sexy? It's not fair on sex starved people like myself. At least he isn't wearing his sunglasses, that's something, I suppose. Won't be drooling on his steering wheel or - Oh.
"You look exhausted, Daniel. Why don't you rest your eyes for a while?" Jack asks as we drive away.
If it means I don't have to look at those sunglasses or answer awkward questions…I obediently close my eyes. Just for a second.
"Danny? Danny, come on. We're here," Jack is at the door on my side of the Explorer, gently shaking me awake. I open my eyes drowsily and am purely happy to see him. I smile. Jack blushes and smiles back. I'm a little dazed, so I don't exactly protest when he helps me out of the car and hustles me up the path to an open door. I realise nothing is familiar, but he's moving so quickly I don't get a chance to utter a protest until we're inside.
I find myself staring at a tasteful bureau, an open fire and a lot of comfortable, overstuffed sofas. Antiques. Wooden floors and walls. Tapestries. Handsewn cushions. We're in B & B 'antiquing' land, I think. What the heck is going on? Why is Jack holding my hand?
An elderly man bustles out and smiles at us, not a whit put out by the sight of two men holding hands, or more accurately one man holding firmly onto a hand the other man is vainly trying to yank free.
"Walt?" The man nods. "Jack O'Neill. Bed." Jack announces with magnificent disregard for my stuttering and yanking.
"And breakfast?" Walt queries, twinkling at me.
Kidnapping is no excuse for bad manners, so I smile back.
"In bed. Along with dinner," Jack says cheerfully.
Bed? Jack - me - bed. In said bed. Help. Me.
"Don't want him getting away from me!"
Walt looks a question and Jack grins.
"Kinda kidnapped him, you know how that goes."
"Indeed. You're welcome to use the elevator, but perhaps it would be more fun to just carry him upstairs?" Walt suggests, grinning all over his face.
"You'd make a lousy hostage negotiator," I say bitterly, "You're supposed to be on the side of the victim."
Jack and Walt exchange long looks.
"Who says he's not?" Jack mutters cryptically. He eyes the stairs thoughtfully.
"Please, Jack," I plead.
Jack takes pity and leads me - still by the hand - over to the elevator. My heart is pounding, making me feel almost sick with excitement. Jack wants to go to bed with me. He wants to be in a bed, with me. That's more than territorialism, right? That's not like the kiss of last night. He might just as well have pissed on me as kissed me for all that meant.
Jack wants to go to bed with me. Oh God. I don't know what to do. I can kiss. That's all I can do. What if he wants to do more? Of course he wants to do more. We've got the honeymoon suite. I want to do more. I don't know what and I don't know how, but I want more. I do.
Maybe - maybe Jack knows what to do? The other Jack knew. That's good. That's bad. He'll be good. I'll be bad. I'll be bad and that's sad.
The bridal room, when he pulls me inside and slams the door, is beautiful. It has a huge four poster that could comfortably sleep the whole of SG-1. It has a stunning hand-made comforter. Oak on floors, walls, furniture. Everything rich blues and creams, old shades. Plants everywhere. Roaring fire. Bed. Big bed.
"You want to go to bed with me!"
"No." Jack is surprised. "I brought you here to talk."
My face falls and I fall down too, to the edge of the bed, quite deflated. Oh.
"I didn't mean to scare ya! Crap. Don't worry, Danny, I won't lay a finger on you, I swear. We just have to - to clear the air."
"Oh." I swallow with difficulty. He doesn't want me. I'm not good looking enough or - or interesting enough. Not sexy. Boring old Danny. Not sexy at all. "I'm tired," I whisper.
"You could lie down!" Jack suggests, pouncing on his overnight bag and handing me a parcel. "You can lie down - here - and I can sit over - there - and we can talk."
He can't get far enough away, can he? I quietly open my present from Jack. Pyjamas. He bought me pyjamas. Good boy, Daniel. Don't make a fuss, Daniel, wear your nice jammies and let Jack tell you what you have to do to make him happy again. "Thanks." I walk into the bathroom and quietly close the door and quietly change and quietly come back out and get into that vast empty bed. Quietly.
"Daniel, it's extremely difficult to talk sensibly when you're under the covers. I mean, completely under the covers. Head and all."
So. What do you care. I don't like my jammies and I don't want to wear them. The other Jack would be sneaking into this bed right now and seducing me out of them. Bet he'd like them. They're fuzzy and all. Go with my eyes. You can damn well have them back, Jack O'Neill.
I do a bit of wriggling and drop the offending gift on the floor.
After a prolonged silence, I hear Jack shift uncomfortably on his chair.
"Danny? Are you NAKED under there?" Jack asks in a weak, strained voice that sounds as if it's coming from very far away.
Strained voice? My being naked under these covers is a problem?
I can - I can help. He does want to see my face and it's lovely and warm with that roaring, romantic fire. I push the comforter down. As far down as I can without being too obvious about it. Any colonel who happened to be looking could see a fair amount of archaeologist on display. Nothing below the hips, but the careful extraction of one leg and a bit of wriggling presents quite a bit more of the archaeologist yet still preserves some dignity with a strategically draped comforter. Maybe Jack is a thigh man? Mine are a bit gangly but the best I can do at short notice.
I risk a quick peek through my lashes. Jack is brick red and making strangling noises. It's very encouraging. All might not be lost.
This bed isn't as sinfully comfortable as it looks, not when you're in it all alone. And very lonely. I wriggle slightly, trying to find a more comfortable spot. One that might encourage a colonel to get over here and make me less lonely. I wriggle some more. Jack is making noises that remind me irresistibly of my steam kettle. Perhaps if I turn up the heat? I stretch my arms out luxuriously and writhe, biting my lips and moaning with pleasure. Just a little.
"Oh GOD! Danny, so help me, you don't stop - that - this second, I'll come over there and - " a strangled voice wrenches out the words.
"Teach me a good, hard lesson?" I say hopefully, "A long lesson?" One I'll never forget? I'm an A+ student. Always keen to learn new skills. "Learning can be very fulfilling. With the right teacher."
Oh dear. Just CAN'T get comfortable. Writhe a little more. Oops. The comforter is slipping. Nearly had to be edited for adult content there.
Growling. Savage primal growling. Jack? Tearing off his clothes, stumbling in his haste. "Talk! Just talk! What the FUCK do THEY know? Two drunk chicks and a Jaffa! Reassure him. Tell him you love him!"
"You do?" I gasp.
"Of course I frigging do! Shut up! Tell him you're sorry you jumped on him. Prove it by NOT jumping on him again. You're KILLING me and I'm gonna be killing THEM when we get home." Jack hops wildly, dragging off his last boot and sock, then stalks over to the bed. He's totally aroused and quite magnificent in his nudity.
"Oh my God!" I whimper.
"No, just your lover," Jack breathes, stalking over to the bed, unable to tear his eyes from me and stubbing his toe quite painfully on the way over. He stops and stares at me, then sweeps away the comforter. I blush furiously, as the sight of my naked body makes him - harder. "Great. NOW you're shy! He dives onto the bed beside me and yanks me into his arms. "You'll have to tell me what you like, Danny," Jack orders gruffly.
"You," I sigh. "I love you."
"That's very sweet, and I love you too, established that, but what do you LIKE? In sex."
"Anything. Kissing. Kissing would be good. You have such a beautiful mouth," I lick my lips in anticipation.
"Kissing is great, be right there. What position do you like?"
"What?" Such a beautiful TALENTED mouth.
"Position? For INTERCOURSE! Jeez, Danny, you must have gotten some idea what you like."
"How would I know, and can't you hurry up with that kissing?"
"DAN-iel? You DID - I mean you slept with that bas - with O'Neill two nights and one lunch. You DID -"
"We didn't. Just kissing. Would have been wrong. Love you. Don't know why. You take forever to get the point and longer to get to the point. Just kiss me, already!"
"Do you want to have sex? Intercourse type sex?" Jack asks carefully. "Just kissing is just fine."
"It isn't and I do. Oh boy, do I. Don't quite know what it is, but I want to do it!" I insist, giddily.
"That's terrifying, Daniel. Immensely flattering, but terrifying. I'm going to kiss you now, okay?"
Jack's weight settles on top of me and presses me flat to the bed. His head just drops naturally to meet mine and I open to him at once. I know the difference immediately, desire heating my veins, making my bones feel light enough to float me off this bed. Love. I love Jack. That's all that was missing.
"I love you, Daniel, I love you," I groan into his sweet, willing mouth. "I'm so damn sorry it took me so damn long to realise it." I'm sorry it took seeing you with another me to make me realise the truth.
"Love you," I say softly, closing in on him slowly and surely, pressing my lips to his. Feel him flinch away. Nerves. Just nerves, he's back with me in moment, tentatively returning the pressure. At least part of him has to expect I'm mad about O'Neill. I was never mad with Daniel, and finding out he never allowed O'Neill to make love to him out of loyalty to me makes me feel damn good. And maybe he's nervous because THIS means much more to him. My hand slips up into his hair and cradles the back of his head as I settle in and massage his lips with mine, carefully controlled, waiting until he relaxes into it, meeting me halfway, following me as I retreat.
Then I lick his lush lower lip, teasing him with my tongue until he opens for me. Invites me in. I slide my tongue into his mouth, curl it around his and rest there. Sweet. He's so sweet. I wait patiently until his tongue moves against mine. All the time in the world. Stroke our tongues together, as tenderly as I can, deepening the kiss until he's clinging to me, moaning into my mouth. I ease back and we breathe again, this time he comes to me and I let him lead the kiss. He's tentative at first, needing to be sure he's doing it right for me, not just assuming I'm like the other. I know Daniel is enjoying it, all the tension is slowly seeping out of him, he's becoming pliant in my arms, snuggling into my chest, hands pulling my head towards his.
We kiss and kiss for a very long time, getting better between us all the time as Daniel lets go, as I let go. Tentative to tender, tender to passionate. I stop him before we can segue from passionate to desperate. Daniel is even more aroused than I am. I kiss his brow gently, and turn him away from me before spooning into his back and wrapping my arms around his chest. He sighs and slides his hand over mine.
"Good?" I ask quietly.
Now we graduate to some touching. I slide my hand down over his stomach. He's so relaxed he doesn't flinch, just arches into my hand as I stroke him confidently, smoothly, savouring every touch of satiny skin beneath my palm. Gradually I work my hand lower, my fingers gliding over more perfect skin below his navel. Stroke him there as I begin to rock my hips gently against his backside. Rock him forward into my waiting hand. He's drowsy, boneless with contentment and trust. I ease my hand lower, cup that eager erection, touch him skin to skin for the first time, making him groan as he feels my erection against his backside at the same time as he feels my hand on his erection. I rock him with slow, steady confidence and he opens up to me, reaching behind to cup my head.
"More, Jack, please."
"Sure?" Hold that thought. I leap out of bed and pounce on my bag, delve inside and emerge with lube I bought just in case the talking panned out. It didn't, but the making love has. I scuttle back over and spoon up behind Danny again. I stroke his butt, massaging the firm, deliciously pert cheeks, stroking between them, finally slip my lubed finger inside him. Daniel gasps but doesn't tense up. I'm still rocking him gently forward into my massaging hand and he's completely relaxed and trusting. Time for a little wake up call. I find and scrape against his prostate, making him gasp and arch his spine like a cat stretching. He settles back against me, quivering with shock. As I continue with the gentle preparation, I lean around and trail kisses all over his shoulder, his throat, behind his ear, which makes him squirm. Across the endearingly vulnerable nape of his neck, nuzzle my face into the silken strands of golden brown hair.
"Nice," Daniel murmurs, then gasps as three lubed fingers slide home and massage him inside, keeping time with my firm, sure stroking of his erection. I haven't rushed him, carefully exploring all the sensations I can arouse in him, until I'm sure just how he likes to be touched. Slow and gentle. I can live with that, as I pleasure him unhurriedly, feel his breath labouring in his chest, the soft whimpers and moans of my name as he rocks between one willing hand and the other. When he moves more urgently I match the pace he sets, thrusting my fingers deeply into him, sending a jolt of pleasure through him that sets his back arching, drives him forward into my waiting hand and he comes hard, pouring out all over me, yelling "JACK!"
"Right here," I whisper, scooting over and rolling him onto his back while I lube my own erection and part his thighs, lifting his hips from the bed and settling a pillow beneath him. He looks up at me with huge pleasure-drowned eyes, smiling dreamily. Trusting me. Loving me. O'Neill was right. I SO don't deserve Daniel. "Are you sure, Daniel?" I whisper against his mouth.
He smiles sleepily and nods, his eye slumberous with love and satiation. I position myself and rock gently into him, alert for any signs of pain and distress as he pushes down against me and I can bury myself inside the incredibly tight heat of his welcoming body, Daniel gasping and arching beneath me as I gently rock myself home, taking my time, going slow and easy. It's not about quick gratification, it's about love. And that's what I do; I love him, slow and sure with smooth thrusts deep inside him, Daniel's legs hooked around my back, urging me closer, impossibly closer all the time. Daniel straining back against me, almost screaming every time I scrape his prostate, calling my name over and over. Kissing me passionately when I dare to rest my weight on him to take his mouth. I use every scrap of stamina and self control I possess and more to make it perfectly pleasurable for him as for me.
"I love you, Jack." Daniel breathes against my mouth, sending me howling over the edge into shattering climax as I pour myself out inside him, and bring him over the edge with me. I come back from that climax slowly, lulled by the slow sweeps of Daniel's long gentle fingers up and down my spine. Realisation I'm still buried to the root inside him and he's trapped beneath me snaps me out of my daze. I carefully withdraw and roll over, cradling Daniel to my chest. This necessitates some wriggling on his part, and he's not comfortable until he's sprawled all over me, while my hands, regrettably, are clamped possessively to his butt.
"Took us a long time, but we got here in the end," Daniel says dreamily, licking the hollow at the base of my throat.
"I'm forty five, Daniel. I'm not dead," I say tartly. "You want wild and wanton, gimme an hour and -" a shudder of heroically suppressed laughter rocks through Daniel. "Oh. Yes. Love. Sure. It was worth it, right?" More rocking. "The wait? I was worth it?"
Daniel looks up at me with those soulful eyes of his just begging me to lean in and kiss him. "Get back to me in TWO hours," he says smugly. "Have to give me a shot to reciprocate. I need more data before my theory becomes a proof."
I'm rather stunned by a lot of frankly steamy images of Daniel buried inside these old bones, so I'm not able to keep up with his train of thought. He wants me? That's hellish flattering to someone my age, someone who looks like - me.
"My theory that you're the best thing that's ever happened to me and the best time I've ever had," Daniel says simply.
"Damn," I say softly, feeling ridiculously emotional. "Ditto."
DR DANIEL JACKSON
The noise of the helicopter is deafening and the dust it's hurling all over my dig is UNACCEPTABLE. My tent is going to - DAMMIT - gone! Straight down the dune!
I can't believe I'm getting a research assistant. Or more accurately, I can't believe I'm getting some cold hard cash and the price I have to pay is a 'research assistant'. Arriving in this helicopter. Which means my heart is sinking rapidly toward my boots. I can't make out a thing for the dust, or with my glasses stowed for safety. Probably some rich Daddy's girl or Momma's boy -
"Oh momma!" a warm, appreciative voice calls.
"Excuse me?" I ask politely, fumbling for my glasses, the world coming into focus, no point kicking up a fuss until they hand over the cheque…"You can just climb BACK in that damned helicopter and fly the hell away from here, soldier boy!" I yell.
"Fly Boy," the owner of the warm voice corrects. "Air Force. Hence - Fly Boy. And frankly, this is not the warm welcome I'd expect from a man whose salary the Air Force is now paying."
"Wh - what?" I stammer.
"Thanks. In that case, I'll just call you Daniel."
"Dr Jackson," I snap.
"If I have to call you Dr Jackson, that means you have to call me General O'Neill or sir," Jack tells me pleasantly.
"Jack," I say ungraciously.
He's looking around thoughtfully. "Wasn't there a tent round here a minute ago?"
"There was indeed," I agree pointedly.
"Ah. Sorry about that. I brought a nice big Air Force tent with me. I guess we'll have to share," Jack says lightly, gesturing at what are clearly minions rapidly setting up a new camp.
I watch in dazed silence for a few minutes and eventually pull myself together enough to ask a question. "Who exactly is the Air Force providing as my research assistant?" And WHY?
Jack beams at me, the warmth of his smile lighting those deep brown eyes of his. With the shock of grey hair, I guess you could say he was an attractive man. Sex- um - attractive. "You?" I ask incredulously, finally getting a clue. "A general?"
"I've come specifically to recruit you to the Stargate programme," Jack says cheerfully, a little distracted as the minions scurry back to the waiting helicopter.
"No," I snap. "Once was once too often. I'm not sitting in a lab in an underground bunker working on that damn cartouche. We had a chance to visit another world, to learn about its people, culture, history. Delaney just blew it all away."
"Delaney was a bastard, true, but we've been using the Stargate for four years. Visited lots of planets, Daniel. We need your expertise. Sometimes on base, yes, but also on missions. First contact situations. I'll tell you all about it," Jack promises seductively.
"Oh." That's - news. Four years? Allowing me to use the gate? My God, the - Seductively? I admit, I've had one or two 'benefactors' who've turned up at my little dig wanting me to sell my body in return for a grant, hence my current uncertainty as to where the next meal is coming from, but seductive should not be a word I associate with an Air Force general no matter how kindly he smiles at me or how sex - attractive he is. "Share a tent?" I say weakly.
"Air bed," Jack says softly, coming just that little bit closer.
Nice eyes. Brown.
I risk a tentative smile of my own. "How are you with a shovel?" I may as well exploit him ruthlessly while I extract every scrap of information out of him about the Stargate.
"I'm very good with a gun. Does that answer your question about how good I am with a shovel?" Jack grins. "Very, very good with my hands though," he adds softly.
"I'll show you my tomb," I say hurriedly, as I spin and stumble. Of course. Two large, warm arms snake around my waist and steady me. Incidentally pulling me back against a large warm body. Been four years since I felt a body of any kind, but large warm ones snuggled up behind me are completely outside of my experience.
Nice eyes. Velvety.
"Tomb." I lead the way through the entrance and down the stairs into the main chamber. The sunlight slants through even here, lighting the whole chamber. I stop by the altar and pull off my hat, run impatient fingers through my hair.
"Jesus! He couldn't warn me?" an outraged voice howls from behind me, making me jump. "Kiss curls? Endearing little curls at the nape of a perfect neck? Only goddamn human, here!"
Jack correctly interprets my alarmed expression and his face darkens horribly. "Who hurt you!" he demands urgently.
"No - no one did."
Jack looks disbelieving.
"I kneed him in the balls," I admit, self-consciously.
"Bastard!" Jack is outraged. "Good boy," he admires. "But you should NOT roam around tombs with strange men, anything could happen."
I wait for the shoe to drop.
"I am not a strange man, I'm an Air Force officer and regrettably, a gentleman." Jack is offended dignity personified. "I also happen to be passionately in love with you, so you needn't worry about me stalking you through the dunes." After a brief pause, Jack eyes me speculatively. "Not unless you want me to."
"Oh." Jack's face falls.
I have to fight myself not to take it back as hurt eyes reproach me. "Air bed? As in one bed?" I think I'm getting a grip on Jack's mental processes. He will exploit every advantage in order to get a firm grip on me.
"King size," he says smugly as he rapidly closes the gap between us, reaching into a holster as he does so and producing a gun, which he presses into my nerveless fingers. "There ya go, Daniel. Just in case intimate proximity to all that perfect silky skin gets me overexcited."
I'm blushing furiously, which Jack seems to think is enchanting. "I don't know how to use a gun," I say weakly. He's so warm and comforting and - and solid, it's almost impossible to take offence at his outrageous advances.
"I'll teach you," he says at once.
"You're going to teach me how to shoot your gun, the gun you've just given me, so I can shoot you if you get carried away by - by - um - "
"By your heart-stopping beauty and general delectableness," Jack supplies encouragingly.
"Um." He's staring at my mouth.
"You have a very beautiful mouth, Daniel. One I'm desperate to kiss," Jack's voice is very gentle.
"I haven't been kissed in years," I say dreamily.
"I find that almost impossible to believe," Jack slips persuasive arms around me, only slightly deterred by the pistol in my hand, and hugs me close. He's completely aroused by the proximity to my aforementioned perfect silky skin, even if it is through several layers of clothing, but all he does is stroke my back and hunch a tempting shoulder at me. "It's about damn time someone loved you and took care of you as you deserve."
"Are - are we talking platonic love?" I murmur into his shoulder.
"Does that involve endless mind blowing hot sex?" Jack asks hopefully.
"Not usually," I say weakly.
"Then no. We're not talking platonic," Jack says firmly as he takes me by the hand and hauls me rapidly up the tomb steps and across to the tent. I balk at the tent flap and Jack lets go of my hand immediately. I give him back his gun. Then I wish I hadn't because he's crushed, turning his back on me in a marked manner and stalking into the tent, radiating offence.
"I'm sorry I trust you," I call, following him in.
"Couldn't you even pretend your perfect pert little butt was in mortal danger?" Jack coaxes, "Just for me?"
I shake my head, unable to suppress the chuckles boiling up inside.
"I get no respect," he says bitterly, sinking down onto the air bed and eyeing me sullenly.
I sit down cautiously next to him. "Are general's supposed to do this?"
"Tell complete strangers they're in love with them, threaten to kiss them, want to - to - um,"
"Make love with them?" Jack leers up at me, quite dreadfully.
My only response is a furious blush.
"We could just kiss," Jack offers, a tender, strangely reminiscent smile on his face. "I have a lot of experience of just kissing. How would you feel if I just kissed you? Just the once?"
"I don't think I would strenuously object to that, no. Just so long as it is just the once and there's no more of this," extremely seductive, "nonsense, after."
"Come here then," Jack invites.
"You come up here," I countermand.
"I'm afraid of heights," Jack says defiantly.
"You're a PILOT."
Next thing I know I'm sprawled on his chest, laughing helplessly, stammering something incoherent about shame, the fact he and shame are complete strangers, and he just raises his head and brushes his lips against mine. I freeze and stare down at him, finally getting it. He really does want me. Then I lower my head to his, my lips parting the moment I feel his tongue gently probing. I close my eyes and lose myself in his kiss.