“Okay, so I can’t draw people.” Daniel said as the gathered children giggled over his stick-figure rendition of some local story.
Jack chuckled as Daniel handed off the giant pad of paper and crayons to one of the girls. “What’s this? Art class?”
Daniel dusted his hands on his pants and shook his head. “They love the crayons. Thank you.” Daniel smiled up at him.
Jack shrugged. “Least I could do.” He crossed the open space to join Daniel leaning against the well in the center of the village. “I mean, what kid grows up without crayons?”
“Dr. Jackson! Look.” One of the boys ran up with a piece of paper, scribbles of color all over it.
Daniel smiled at him. “That’s beautiful, Seth.”
“What is it?” Jack asked, cocking his head at the drawing.
“Color.” Seth said.
Jack nodded. “That it is.”
Seth scampered off and Daniel chuckled. So much wonder and excitement over something as simple as drawing with color. It amused him no end that Jack had thought to bring them when he returned from filling in General Hammond about their find.
“You’re good with kids.” Jack said, though he was watching the kids, not Daniel.
“You too.” Daniel responded. It always surprised him, because Daniel didn’t usually equate Jack with family, forgetting that Jack had had a child.
Jack turned to him, his mouth open to say something.
“We owe you much thanks.”
Daniel stood and Jack followed suit as Daniel nodded in greeting to the speaker. “Kandra…it really isn’t much.”
The tall, slender woman smiled. “I have never seen them so happy.”
“All a part of our friendly service, ma’am.” Jack said with a tight grin. “When the rest of my team gets back we’ll have even more to share. Medicine and tools.”
She nodded. “We look forward to trading with you, Colonel. But this is a gift beyond all measure. The children have been through much, and to see them so happy brings joy to all of us.”
“It was our pleasure, Kandra.” Daniel said. “I was wondering if I might have another look at your library? Your local dialect is fascinating.”
“Of course. But first, I have come to invite you to cashca.”
Jack looked to Daniel who licked his lips and parsed through what he knew of the local language. “Cashca, a meal of gratitude, if I’m not mistaken.”
She smiled. “You flatter us with your skill, Doctor Jackson. We have prepared the pres al mor for you and your il car res”
“It’s a ritual thing…Daniel squinted at her back while they followed. “Um…pre al mor…it’s a preparation of sorts. Kandra, is that correct?” It wasn’t an exact translation, but he was still working out the niggling details of the dialect.
She nodded and stopped in front of a building. “Here, please.”
Daniel ducked into the building, with Jack following. In the center of the room was a tub filled with steaming water. “I guess we’re supposed to bathe.” Daniel said, already unzipping his jacket. A bath would be nice after a few days sleeping in his clothes…and a chance to relax would do Jack some good.
“Together?” Jack eyed the tub suspiciously.
“What? Showering together is okay, but bathing isn’t?” Daniel asked, halfway to naked already. He was used to Jack dragging his feet when it came to participating in local customs, but his apparent shyness was amusing. “In Japan whole families bathe together.”
“We’re not in Japan.” Jack muttered.
“You don’t want to offend them, Jack. It’s a bath. What can it hurt?”
Jack grumbled but started unzipping his jacket. Jack turned away as Daniel dropped his pants and bent over to pull off his socks. “I can think of worse things.” Daniel said as he climbed into the tub, filling the room with the sound of splashing. “Water’s good and hot.”
Jack was being silly about the whole thing. It wasn’t like he’d never seen Daniel without clothes on, or vice versa. Daniel knew Jack wasn’t this modest. He finally got stripped down and Daniel mostly looked the other way while Jack climbed into the tub.
Oh. Well now Daniel understood a little. Jack was apparently aroused. Daniel wasn’t sure what had caused that, but it wasn’t really like Jack could hide it. He was trying to. His hand just wasn’t large enough.
Jack blushed, cleared his throat and Daniel exhaled slowly. Okay, maybe Jack wasn’t being silly. “I—“
Jack held up one hand, then closed his eyes and shook his head. “Don’t.”
“I—I was just going to…” Truthfully, Daniel was at a loss for words. And that didn’t happen very often.
“Okay, now what?”
Daniel nodded and pulled his head out of the thoughts about Jack and his arousal and the reasons for it. “Well, honestly, I’m not sure. In some cultures it’s customary for those being honored to be—“
“Um. Daniel?” Jack dropped his hands into the water to cover himself as three women appeared.
“Okay. Well, ah.” The women surrounded the tub. “Hi. Ah, hi there.”
“We are come to help.” The tallest of the women said, bowing slightly. “As is customary before cashca. To wash.” She held up a cloth and what looked like soap.
Daniel held up his hands, then realized that left him rather exposed. He rolled his eyes and put his hands into the water like Jack’s. “We can handle that part ourselves, ladies.”
“It is customary.”
Daniel looked at Jack as one of the women dropped her robe and climbed into the tub. “It’s customary.”
Jack was fuming, Daniel could tell as he surrendered to the custom, letting one of them wash his back. Jack drew the line when the woman tried to get him to stand up though, shooing her out of the tub.
The woman disappeared quickly, leaving behind towels and clothing. “I guess they want us to wear what they wear.” Daniel said as he got out of the tub. He wrapped a towel around himself. Jack was still clearly aroused, despite his anger. Daniel cleared his throat and offered him a towel.
“Considering they stole our clothes.” Jack said, his face turning red. “I’m getting a really bad feeling here, Daniel.”
“Jack, come on. Is it so bad? These are nice people. These are nice clothes. We wear them and make them happy, we have a nice meal, and tomorrow when Sam and Teal’c show up with the rest of our supplies to trade, we’ll do a little business and go home.”
“It’s never that easy, Daniel.”
“Come, please.” Daniel smiled at Kandra as she led them out into the village square.
“It smells good.” Daniel observed, still trying to woo Jack out of his grump. Truth was, Jack smelled good. Daniel wasn’t sure when he’d started noticing how Jack smelled, but he did now. Maybe it was when he’d noticed how turned on Jack was back there in the bath. And maybe Daniel had similar thoughts once or twice, because he was, after all, Jack.
“You are to sit here, in the place of honor.” Kandra said, pointing out seats near the front.
“Thank you.” Daniel sat on the cushion on the ground and tugged on Jack’s arm to encourage him to sit too.
“Oh, all right. Stop yanking on me.” Jack scowled at him as he sat
“You’re starting to embarrass me.” Daniel said, leaning in to whisper it in Jack’s ear. “At least pretend you’re having a good time.”
“I swear Daniel, if this ends up getting us married off to some local girls or sacrificed to some volcano, I’ll kill you.”
Daniel grinned. “No volcanoes for miles, Jack. Relax. It’s just dinner.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
Daniel relaxed as food was brought to them, a rich stew and wine, and by the time desert was served, Daniel was feeling pleasantly buzzed. “See, not so bad.” He leaned in on Jack, brushing at a flower that had fallen from the trees above them. It flittered off Jack’s shoulder and onto his lap.
Which only made Daniel remember the bath and Jack’s arousal. He cleared his throat and sat back. It was getting dark and the villagers wandering away. Kandra stopped beside them and said something Daniel didn’t quite catch in her native tongue.
“What? I didn’t get that.”
“Come, I shall show you where you and your il car res may spend the night.”
Jack helped him up and even slipped an arm around Daniel’s waist when he wavered a little. “Good wine.” Daniel murmured.
Jack shook his head, a vague smile on his face.
Kandra led them to a building that looked like most of the others. “I offer you blessings, Dr. Jackson. And you also, Colonel O’Neill. Cashca, ver no ra.”
Daniel’s mind stuck on the words, circling round them, trying to figure them out. Jack opened the door and dragged Daniel inside. Cashca meant thankful…he thought. Then again, sometimes a word had more than one meaning.
“Il car res.” Daniel said, as Jack stopped, staring at the single bed.
“I just realized.” Daniel stared at the bed too. It was the only thing in the room.
“Just realized what?” Jack had that look on his face, the one that usually preceded yelling.
“Well, il car res…she called you my il car res. I thought it meant leader, of sorts. I mean, you are. Right?”
“Daniel.” Jack’s voice was a growl as Daniel ducked away.
“I think it means something…more.”
“Leader.” Daniel looked up at him. “In a more…personal way.”
Jack stalked toward him. “Are you going to get to the point?”
“Um…ver no ra…it means…first night. Sort of.” Daniel found himself against the bed, his knees pressing in to it. Jack kept coming until he was pressed against Daniel. “Cashca ver no ra, is like a blessing.”
“What are you saying?” Jack’s face was right in front of his, inches away. His breath smelled like wine. His eyes were bright. For a minute Daniel thought Jack might kiss him.
Then Daniel nodded, meeting his eyes. “Okay.” Daniel breathed the word, leaning forward to brush his lips over Jack’s. For a moment, neither of them moved. Daniel held his breath. Jack’s hand closed over Daniel’s arm. Daniel licked his lips and did it again, pressing in a little more.
Jack’s breath caught and he stepped back. “I—what…what are you doing?”
Daniel shook his head. “I don’t know. I thought…you seemed to…” He shook his head and turned away. “I’m sorry. It must be the wine…and the situation.”
Jack turned back around. “I’m still not clear on what that situation is, Daniel.”
“I think that they think that we’re…together. That you’re my…husband.”
“Husband?” Jack was shaking his head. “Husband?”
“Il car res.” Daniel sat heavily on the bed. “I took it to mean leader…but I’m thinking it is more like head of the house.”
Jack raised an eyebrow at him. “Head of the house?”
Daniel nodded and dared a glance up. “And that dinner was meant to be a blessing of our…relationship.”
Jack moved back toward him. “Relationship?”
“It’s just a misunderstanding, Jack.”
“Is it?” Jack towered over him. “Are you sure?”
“Sure?” Daniel licked his lips and pulled himself back onto the bed, away from Jack. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You’ve been playing games for a long time, Daniel.”
Daniel shook his head. He was starting to wonder which one of them was drunk here. “Games? I’m not playing games.”
“No, then the kiss? You meant that?”
“I-I—told you. The wine.”
Jack nodded, but kept coming. “I don’t play games.” He was on the bed now and Daniel was out of room, his back against the wall. “I think you knew exactly what was going on. I think you wanted it. I think you want me.”
Jack’s kiss took Daniel by surprise, both with its intensity and its tenderness. His mouth was sure, his tongue possessive as it swept over Daniel’s startled lips and into his mouth.
Jack’s hands were holding his head, his fingers sliding through Daniel’s hair and Daniel’s brain was short circuiting. His eyes closed, his body relaxing into the mattress. The wine had him mellow and the heat of Jack’s touch was…hot.
Daniel’s eyes popped open as the kiss ended. Jack was hard against Daniel’s thigh. Daniel wasn’t far behind. “Tell me I’m wrong.” Jack said quietly.
Daniel could only shake his head. “Not…not wrong…exactly.”
Jack nodded and smiled slowly, then laid down next to Daniel, folding his hands and closing his eyes.
Daniel sat up. “Um. Jack?”
“Go to sleep, Daniel.”
Jack’s eyes opened and he smiled again. “I know. Go to sleep.”
Daniel opened his mouth, then closed it. “That’s it?”
Jack propped himself up on his elbows. “You’re drunk. I got what I wanted. I’m not going to take advantage of you when you’re drunk.”
Daniel lay down, but it would be a while before he slept. His body was humming, his face burning, and his lips wanted more. Beside him, Jack was snoring only moments later.
Jack was nowhere to be found when Daniel woke up, but Daniel’s uniform was laying across the end of the bed. He got up and dressed. His head hurt and while his memory of some of the night before was fuzzy, he remembered Jack kissing him.
He found Jack sitting in the village square, around the well, laying on the ground coloring with the kids. He grinned up at Daniel. “How’s your head?”
“Pounding.” Daniel admitted, looking around them.
“You were pretty tipsy.” Jack climbed to his feet, handing off his crayon to a young girl in pigtails. “Carter and Teal’c just radioed from the gate, they’re on their way.”
“Good day, Dr. Jackson.” Kandra’s smile was bright. “I trust you and Colonel O’Neill had a pleasant night?”
Jack’s hand pressed against Daniel’s back, and Daniel flushed with heat. “A gentleman never kisses and tells.” Daniel turned to look at him, shocked. “Don’t worry, Danny. Kandra here understands.”
Daniel sputtered, taking off his glasses just to give his hands something to do. “Jack—“
“Daniel’s just a little shy, you understand.”
“Carter. If you’ll excuse me.” Daniel watched Jack go to greet Sam and Teal’c and SG-3.
Kandra smiled at him. “He cares very much for you.”
“Kandra, I think maybe there’s been a misunderstanding.” Daniel said, tearing his eyes away from Jack to look at her.
“Yes, Colonel O’Neill explained to me yesterday.”
Daniel frowned at her. “He what?”
Her smiled dimmed a little. “He said that you would be pleased.”
He shook his head. “What exactly did he explain to you?”
“When I told him that I thought you’re translation was a little strange, and explained to him what the words meant, he said it was fine, that you would come to understand. He asked that we…play along.”
Daniel looked from Kandra to Jack and back again. “He played me?”
Daniel watched Jack for some sign, some indication that it was more, that he’d meant the kiss and what he’d said. It wasn’t until they were through the gate and done with the debrief. Jack poked his head in Daniel’s office. “You coming?”
Daniel frowned up at him. “Where?”
“My place, dinner? Remember?”
He scowled and crossed his arms. “Dinner?”
Jack nodded. “Dinner.” He closed the door and moved to sit on the edge of Daniel’s desk. “Steaks on the grill. A few beers.” He leaned in close. His lips didn’t quite brush Daniel’s. “Maybe more.”
“More…” Daniel felt his face flushing, his heart racing. “Well, you are the head of the house,” he murmured.
Jack smiled slow and evil. “You better believe it.”