How Daniel Got His Groove Back
by Nel

Rating: NC-17
Category: Humor, angst, H/C, action/adventure, first time
Warnings: Language and adult situations.
Summary: Wherein Daniel remembers why he never gets drunk, Jack is having decision anxiety, Teal'c gets to be a spy and Sam has a secret.
Disclaimers: They ain't mine, I'm not making money, the world is unfair.
Spoilers: Some vague ones for Divide and Conquer, Ascension and Chain Reaction.
Author's Notes: So many people to thank this time around:
Willow, who sacrificed many an hour on this piece
Jean for reading through the ramblings of a madwoman
Danvers for "Then they had loud sex and broke the couch."
Kelly for "So, throw me a bone here. I need a basic something to get weird ideas from."
Sel for ::suspiciously:: "Is there a lot of slash?"
Alice for giving suggestions about a story she knew nothing about *and* allowing me to steal lines
Mairoh for betaing this over and over when she had so little time on her hands
Genie for helping with the summary and last but not least
Suz for being Suz and helping me with my troubles (aka Sam parts). Thank you *so* much, guys. You rock muchly.

I started writing this story two years ago, and I think that is one of the reasons it's taken so long to finish. My writing two years ago…not the best. Lots of editing has been done.

This just something that started out as one thing and turned out to be something else. And I love what it turned into.

For Danvers, who spent time and effort to help and even generously gave me a title that was hers from the beginning. And I've been dying to have something to dedicate to her for ages... For your absolutely-not-a-birthday dear. *hugs*


He was quite possibly - or rather decidedly, depending on ones opinion and/or view - drunk. It seemed like a reasonable assumption considering that this was the goal he'd been striving for while drinking all that whiskey.

He'd never been very fond of whiskey, but he'd been told that it was an excellent choice if one wished to reach a state of intoxication in a very short amount of time.

The taste had been horrifying at first, vaguely reminding him of some hazy nights in Algeria, blurry images of his colleague Dr. Drake dancing on the tables of some bar after drinking some of the local brew. Some very friendly young women had offered them the potent mixture and after moving past the fact that the liquid was probably acid in disguise, they'd come to enjoy drinking it quite a bit.

Still, Dr. Drake had been dancing on the tables. Wearing nothing but his underwear. Perhaps it'd be better if that night was lost in the mists of forgetfulness.

The whiskey, however appalling, had much like the home-brewed alcohol all those years ago lost a bit of its bitterness as he downed the shots, and by the fifth, he was buzzing in a pleasantly I'm-gonna-stay-on-my-couch-for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of way.

However, despite the pleasantness of the situation there was something nagging at the edge of his mind. He was drunk. He was in fact...drunk, but he had no memory of *why* he was drunk. Well, he was drunk because of the whiskey of course, but the motivation seemed somewhat foggy.

The chances were that the motivation might have been negative; he didn't really see the logic in drinking himself into oblivion if he was happy. Well, not without company anyway.

So that left something depressing, hurtful or shocking, which really should be enough reason for him to stop trying to remember.

Daniel smiled happily and sank further down on the couch, sipping from his half-full drink, feeling proud of his logic. Or feeling proud of his deductive reasoning skills, as Jack would put it.

Something clicked in Daniel's head, and he frowned a bit in concentration. Jack. There was something he was supposed to remember about Jack. Or was there something he was supposed to forget about Jack?

He rubbed his eyes tiredly, glasses having been abandoned early on when the room adopted a pleasing tilt.

He ought to just call Jack and ask. Yeah. The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. He'd call Jack and ask, Jack usually had the latest insights; the man gossiped more than Mrs. Brown and her cavalry of knitters next door.

Not without sadness Daniel put the glass down on the table and reached for the phone, which was next to the couch, bless it. Dialing the number without even having to think about it, he brought the receiver to his ear and started humming Auld Lang Syne.

One tone. Should auld acquaintance be forgot
A second. And never thought upon
A third. The flames of love extinguished
A fourth. And freely past and gone?
A fifth. Is thy kind heart now grown so cold
A sixth. In that loving breast of thine

Maybe he should have called a bit earlier. He squinted at the clock. Some people might be asleep at 3.28 am.

A seventh. That thou canst never once reflect
A - There was a click in the other end and some rustling noises.

"This'd better be good, I've got a gun and I'm not afraid to use it."

Jack sounded half-awake, a quality Daniel had always envied. When he himself was crawling out of a tent while off-world, desperately trying to get some caffeine into his system - which was still in sleep induced denial - Jack would be sitting by the fire he'd just made, whistling something off key.

Daniel's only comfort was that Sam seemed to share his difficulty with mornings, her zombie like appearance the cause of many a teasing remark from Jack. Teal'c didn't really count; the guy could practically take a nap every time they stopped for a break, thanks to kel'no'reem. So in Daniel's eyes he was one step ahead of the rest of them. One step ahead of the rest of humanity.

"Jack! How are you?"

"Awake, which was not the case twenty seconds ago." Jack's voice had that edge that meant I'm-very-annoyed-with-you-right-now-but-you've-managed-to-worry-me-so-talk-fast. "Is something wrong?"

"Weeell," Daniel drawled, "that's sorta what I called to ask."

There was a brief silence on the other end before Jack took a deep breath and spoke. "You called me at 3.30 in the morning to ask me if something was wrong."

Daniel nodded vigorously, then remembered that Jack couldn't see the movement. "Yes, exactly."

"Daniel, are you drunk?" Jack sounded annoyed.

"Yes." Daniel smiled happily and reached for his glass. "I knew you'd know what was wrong."

"O-kay," Jack said more carefully this time, "why are you drunk?"

Daniel frowned and put the drink down again. "I'm not sure, Jack, that's why I called you, since your gossip is better than Mrs. Brown's."

"I see." More rustling noises were heard, like someone throwing off a blanket. "Listen Daniel, you just stay put and I'll be right over, okay?"

Daniel had been reaching for the glass again, but just as he was about to pick it up, Jack's words sank in and he flinched violently, sending the glass tumbling to the floor, the carpet soaking up the whiskey.

"No!" He didn't know why, but Jack couldn't come over, no way, Jose.

"Daniel?" Now Jack sounded worried. "What's wrong? You okay?"

"Yes, I, I'm fine, Jack, you don't have to come over, I'm fine, so there's really no reason for you to come over. Because I'm fine."

"Uh huh. And-"

" don't have to come over."

"Right, because you're fine." There was another pause. "Well, if you're sure that you're okay..."

"Oh yes, I'm sure, Jack." Daniel nodded again.

"Okay then, I'll just go back to sleep then."

"Yes, you do that. 'Night, Jack."


Daniel hung up before he could hear the response. Jack. He was drinking because of Jack.

He was drinking because of Jack? Why on earth would he do that? It didn't seem like they'd been fighting, Jack hadn't been caustic enough for that. So why was he drinking because of Jack?

It hurt to think, and Daniel glared accusingly at the wet spot on the carpet, that mere moments ago had been his friend. Backstabbing whiskey. Focusing hard he thought back on the events of the day.

They'd been on a mission, but he couldn't remember anything out of the ordinary there. He sniggered a bit at that and wondered when stepping through a circle of alien metal only to travel to worlds thousands of light-years away had become nothing out of the ordinary.

Today... Today's mission had been a routine one, very brief, but offering them a chance to relax on a nice sunny planet. Nothing strange at all. Except that everything had been blue, now that he thought about it.

Sam had had a theory, naturally, about some kind of modified chlorophyll, but he couldn't really remember it. Daniel also doubted that the planet's flora had anything to do with his mental state, unless he was feeling blue of course.

He sniggered a bit to himself, then tried to recall the rest of the day. They'd been through the post-mission checkup, everything was normal there. They'd showered and changed their clothes, check. They'd debriefed-

Bingo! There was something about the debriefing. Now if he could only remember what...

He stood and started pacing, or at least tried to before he sat down abruptly again. His legs felt rubbery, they seemed to bend at their own will. He closed his eyes. Debriefing.

Jack. Jack was acting strange at the debriefing, very subdued. There it was!

Daniel did a triumphant gesture with his right fist, but then that annoying logic came back to kick him in the rear. That didn't add up either. Sure, he empathized when Jack got caught in one of his darker moods, but Daniel doubted that he'd start drinking because of it.

So, something after the debriefing. He frowned. But nothing had happened after the debriefing. He'd followed Jack to his office, asking him if he was okay, Jack had been evasive, Daniel had dug deeper, found out what was bothering Jack, shared a cup of coffee with him, Jack had fetched some files for him and-

Oh God. He was suddenly grateful that he was sitting down. There it was. That was why he was drinking. A mighty good reason if he did say so himself. A very good reason indeed.

Self-pity threatened to overwhelm him when he was saved by the bell. Well, sort of. In this case, it was a knock on the door.

Deciding that he didn't care that his legs were made out of rubber - he was the boss after all - Daniel stood and made his way, albeit unsteadily, to the door. He was about to look through the peephole when he remembered that he'd left his glasses in the kitchen when he'd opened the whisky bottle and taken the first couple of shots.

2-0 - whiskey.

Fumbling with the lock and the safety chain, Daniel finally managed to get the door open after figuring out that he had to back away, since it opened inwards.

Jack caught Daniel's arm, a concerned look on his face as he steadied his drunken friend from tripping over his own feet. Jack looked annoyingly good for someone that had only been awake for fifteen minutes, the eternal leather jacket seeming to fit better than ever.

Daniel sighed sorrowfully, earning him a raised eyebrow from Jack.

"Well," Jack said as he slipped by Daniel into the apartment, "how can I resist an invitation like that?"


Daniel stumbled after Jack, watching him pick up the empty whiskey bottle with a frown. Jack turned towards him.

"What's going on, Daniel?"

Daniel frowned at Jack and snatched the bottle from his fingers. "I told you I was *fine*!"

"Yes, you always call me in the middle of the night when you're fine," Jack snapped back.

Daniel considered that for a moment, swaying slightly, then turned to the kitchen, feeling Jack follow close behind him. The glasses lay where he'd left them, on the sink. He put them on and turned back to face Jack, putting on his scowliest scowl.

"What, a guy can't get drunk from time to time?"

"Not when said guy enjoys drinking as much as he enjoys getting a root canal." Jack looked Daniel squarely in the eyes, then sighed and scrubbed his head with his hand, closing his eyes briefly, and Daniel noted for the first time how tired Jack looked. He felt a small twinge of guilt, which he quickly stuffed away. He'd *told* Jack not to come over.

//Yeah, but you woke him up in the middle of the night,// a small voice whispered in his head.

"I just... I just get a bit depressed now and then."

Jack usually noticed when he was lying, something that had always annoyed him to no limit. Not that he made it a habit of lying to Jack, not really, but sometimes it felt good not being read like a book. Maybe Jack was too tired to notice. //Please be too tired to notice.//

Jack's eyes pierced his, and Daniel felt his hopes sink. Then without warning, Jack stalked to the cupboards, opened a door and started rummaging through the contents.

"What are you doing?"

"I know it's gotta be here, somewhere... A-ha!" He straightened and showed Daniel the bottle he'd grabbed like it was some kind of prize. Daniel's second whiskey bottle. Jack brought forward two glasses and turned to the task of opening the bottle.

"How'd you know it was there?" Daniel asked with genuine curiosity.

Jack looked up briefly, a strange expression on his face, then looked down on the bottle again. "Because you don't do anything halfway." He poured the whiskey into the glasses.

Daniel struggled to gather his thoughts. "What are you doing?"

Jack gave a lop-sided grin and offered Daniel one of the glasses. Daniel took it with some confusion.

"Didn't think I'd let you drink all by yourself now, did you?" Jack said before throwing back his head and downing the drink.


" me and Ferretti had to drag him back to camp, hoping to God that the colonels were sleeping as soundly as those snores were indicating."

Daniel laughed hard, almost spilling the contents of his glass on Jack's jeans. "And I always took Kawalsky for the orderly kind."

Jack snorted. "The man was a menace." He smiled a bit ruefully. "Best menace I ever knew though." He quickly downed his drink.

"Reminds me of the party we threw for Skaara after he'd gone through his Bar Mitzvah and-"

"Whoa, whoa, his *Bar Mitzvah*?"

"Yeah, Skaara wanted a rite of passage of sorts that came from Earth, and Sha're thought it was a great idea..." Daniel faded off a bit, his smile faltering, then continued. "She thought it was a great idea, so she talked Kasuf into it." He smiled tenderly. "He never could deny her anything. So, afterward, since Skaara was now officially a man, he had to get drunk."

Jack looked skeptical. "You're trying to tell me that he hadn't been trying that moonshine we got to taste before?"

Daniel grinned. "Nope, only the men were allowed, they were very strict on that. So, it took about three cups, after that Skaara was totally out of it. He got a hold of a camel, rode off in the desert, and managed to fall into one of the wells."

Jack, who had just taken a sip of whiskey, nearly choked.

"Took us all night to get him out of there," Daniel said almost dreamily. "Those were the days."

"Yes, I suppose his... rite of passage was a memorable one."

Daniel grinned at him. "Oh yeah. Especially when Kasuf got a hold of him..."


Daniel stared up at the ceiling for several long moments before starting to wonder *why* he was looking at the ceiling. "Jack?"

"Uh huh?" Jack sounded very content, and Daniel turned his head a bit, getting a close up of Jack's right sneaker.

"What am I doing on the floor?"

"You fell off the couch."


"Yeah. Nice couch though." Daniel heard soft sounds of the pillows moving and saw Jack's foot slip down a bit on the floor as he settled back more comfortably.



"Is there anything left in the bottle?"

"Not sure." He saw Jack's hand reach out, the view temporarily blocked as he grabbed something from the table. Then it emerged again, this time with the bottle. He tipped it upside down. A few surviving drops made their way out. "Nope," Jack said, sounding a little sad, "this is a of bottle ex-whiskey." There was a pause and Daniel could almost hear Jack thinking. "Or… A whiskey ex-bottle." The hands waved the bottle in a way Daniel guessed was dismissive. "We've probably had enough anyway," Jack concluded ruefully.

"Speak for yourself, you drank the last, I think I'm starting to sober up." He heard Jack's snigger and wanted to prove his point by standing up, but found that his carpet was actually pretty comfortable. "No really, I'm serious."

"Well, let's hope so, you do realize that we have to get to base tomorrow?"

Daniel groaned.

"But I don't suppose that worries you, Mr. Almost Sober." You didn't need a PhD to hear the mocking in those words.

"Oh shut up."


He awoke to a smell so horrific that his nose wanted to run somewhere and hide. The only comfort he had was that the smell distracted him from the taste in his mouth. It reminded him of something which had crawled down his throat, made a nest, thrown a rave party and died of ethanol poisoning.

He envied that something at the moment.

"Come on, Daniel, up and at it, you need to drink this," a familiar voice - which sounded shamelessly sober - said.

'Jack, I'm a grown man and perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I don't need you mother-henning me, thank you very much.'

That was what he'd intended to come out of his mouth. It didn't. What did come out was something along the lines of: "Oh fuck. Ow."

Maybe he should call an exorcist, the thing that had died in his throat had obviously started its afterlife inside his stomach. Something seemed to be alive in there. Which didn't make much sense, but-

"That's it, sleeping beauty, rise and shine."

"Jack. Two things." He carefully squinted up at Jack who must have dragged him up to the couch at some point, since he wasn't on the floor anymore. "One. I'm not any kind of beauty when I wake up, sleeping least of all." And Jack looked as annoyingly fresh as he always did in the mornings, eyes clear and hair as orderly as it ever got. The man had downed almost a whole whiskey bottle. Well, okay, half a whiskey bottle. There was no justice in the universe. "Two. I have no intent of shining. Rising I may consider."

"Well, maybe you should sit down while drinking this anyway." Jack waved the source of the odor under Daniel's nose. It was a steaming teacup, and Daniel squinted some more to try and find the sign that said *WARNING! Highly toxic waste.*

"What is this?" He carefully held his breath as he peeked over the edge of the cup. The stuff inside seemed to be liquid, and it was a curious mix of orange/brownish. "Wait. Do I want to know what this is?"

"This, my friend, is Granny O'Neill's special recipe."

"For what? Putting small animals out of their misery?"

Jack gave him a reproachful look. "No, it's an excellent cure for hangovers." He looked at the cup and shuddered theatrically. "It also discourages further drinking, which I think was exactly what Granny had in mind."

Daniel looked into the cup again, and his decision was made when he saw something floating around. "Jack, with no disrespect to Granny O'Neill, if I have to choose between this and a hangover, I think I'd go with the latter."

Jack shrugged and went back into the kitchen. "It's your funeral."

Daniel could hear the liquid hiss as it went down the sink, and made a mental note to check for burn marks later. "That's what I'm worried about."


Daniel valiantly tried to ignore his headache as he finished the report he'd been typing for the past hour. He only had himself to blame after all, he should have known better than to drink the night before a work day. They weren't going off-world for two more days, so at least he couldn't shoot anyone by mistake, but emergencies still happened, and he was supposed to be sharp and alert.

The airman that had come to give him his mail this morning would certainly have called him sharp, being on the receiving end of Daniel's tongue, but what did the man expect when he woke Daniel up?

Sighing, he saved his report, vowing to finish it later. He was certain he had some aspirin lying around somewhere, and he was bound to find them if he rummaged around enough. Normally he reserved them for Colonel Samuel's visits, but he supposed he could make an exception this once. Opening the top drawer of his desk he found a sealed box with a note on top.

Carter used your last pills after the mission to P5-something-whatever, the one where she enjoyed herself a tad too much.

Daniel couldn't help but grin a bit at the memory. Sam had been drinking generously at the celebration the natives of P51-92C had thrown for them some weeks back. He supposed asking Janet for pills for her hangover weren't on top of her to-do list. Still smiling he continued to read.

Figured you'd be somewhat grouchy if you didn't get your medication.

Daniel could practically see Jack's smirk before him.

Come by my office later when you're done with that exciting report of yours.


Daniel's smile faltered. He'd tried to avoid thinking of Jack the best he could, he really couldn't go on drinking like that every night. Being booted from the SGC for drinking wasn't really on *his* to do list. And it probably wasn't very good for his health either. Just the thought of Jack was depressing.

He sighed and leaned back in the chair, closing his aching eyes.

24 hours earlier

"Wait up, Jack." Daniel shoved his papers under his left arm and jogged after Jack as he exited the briefing room.

Jack shortened his steps marginally for Daniel to catch up. "What's up?"

"Nothing," Daniel said casually, "just thought I'd join you in your office."

Jack didn't look convinced. "Uh huh, since watching me do paperwork is so damn exciting?"


They fell silent as they continued to walk, Daniel sneaking glances at Jack until Jack turned his head and caught him in the act. "Okay, what?"

Daniel put on his most clueless expression, or at least what he hoped counted as clueless. "What?"

"You're staring," Jack stated, not without exasperation.

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

"You're acting off." Daniel figured the game was up anyway, and looked searchingly at Jack again.

Jack frowned. "I'm acting off? In what way?"

"You're too quiet."

"Well, see," Jack started, the sarcasm already dripping, "there's this thing called thinking which doesn't require the mouth to move. Unlike you, who don't seem to be able to do one without the other, I'm afraid I'm not that much of a multi-tasker."

"Right," Daniel said slowly, "says the man who assembled a machine gun while dialing home and yelling at Lieutenant Moore."

"Yelling at Moore doesn't require any brain activity, it's something that comes quite naturally."

"And dialing?"

"I was motivated."

They both winced at the memory of the angry natives.

"It wasn't the lieutenant's fault, you know."

"Really? I didn't see anyone else insult the chieftain's daughter."

"Well," Daniel reasoned, "it's not like he could know that holding the door for the unmarried daughter of the chieftain's was a serious breach in etiquette."

"Which is why you never hold up doors." Jack sounded grim. "For anyone."

They came to Jack's office door, and both regarded the mountain of files resting on Jack's desk. At least Daniel assumed it was Jack's desk, it was hard to tell what lay underneath all those papers.

Jack looked pained but straightened his back, resolutely walking to the desk and pulling up the chair, which was also covered in paper.

"So what is it?" Daniel found a chair that was miraculously empty.

"Hmm?" Jack looked distracted as he slowly and carefully lifted a pile of papers off his chair and put it on top of the others on his desk, precariously balanced on the top.

"What is it you're thinking about?"

"I'm thinking if anyone would really miss the Sergeant down in supplies if he went missing." Jack waved the paper he'd grabbed from the top of the pile around.

"Complaints about losing equipment again?"

"Yep. I'm thinking of sending him to a nice, desert planet with no supplies at all." Jack looked longingly at the paper in his hand. "I'm sure he'd be very happy, certain in the knowledge that he wasn't damaging or losing any expensive equipment."

"You know that's not what I meant."

"What are you talking about?" Jack sat down and picked up the next paper from the pile.

"What have you been thinking about that's been making you act weird?"

"To my knowledge, you're the only one who thinks that I'm acting weird."

"No, I'm not. I'm just the only one impolite enough to snoop around."

Jack looked skeptical. "Like Carter wouldn't butt in if something was bothering her."

"She's busy with the report. She's almost finished her theory on the flora of P4X-523."

"And Doc?" Jack continued while making a ball of another paper and dropping it into the trashcan. "The last time she was discreet was probably when her parents told her to behave otherwise she wouldn't get any gifts from Santa."

"She's doing the evaluations of the medical staff."

"Then what about-"

"Okay, so I was the first one to get to you."

Jack gave him an odd look, and then glanced back down to the paper in his hand. "Right you are."

Daniel frowned. "So?"

Jack quirked an eyebrow. "So what?"

"Are you going to tell me, or do I have to get you drunk?"

Jack snorted. "Daniel, I could drink you under the table any day."

"I wasn't planning on drinking anything except soda." He grew serious again. "Is it something serious?" His eyes widened. "It's nothing medical is it? You're not-"

"Relax, Daniel, I'm not sick." Jack gave Daniel an annoyed look. "Unless Nosey Doctor Syndrome is a little known and undocumented illness."

"Then what?"

Jack rubbed his face and leaned his elbows on the desk, making the files tilt dangerously.

"Why me?" he said to the room in general. "Did I do something evil that no one told me about? Is this a punishment of some kind?"

Daniel just smiled at him, waiting.

"Fine. You want to know? It's nothing."

"Okay, nothing." Daniel tried to look attentive and encouraging.

"Nothing at all." Jack stood and walked to the coffee maker, and got two cups. He put one in Daniel's hand. "Sara wants to get back together."

Daniel was absurdly grateful that he hadn't had time to take a sip; he doubted that Jack would have appreciated him having done a spray job on his paper work.

"She what?"

"You heard me." Jack sat down again, looking carefully detached as he sipped his steaming coffee.

"O-kay," Daniel said carefully, "so how'd she take it?"

Jack looked confused. "Take what?"

"Your answer. You told her no, right?"

Jack frowned. "Why would I do that?"

Daniel felt strangely cold. "So you told her yes?"

"I haven't told her anything," Jack said irritably. "I mean it's not exactly a decision you make at the snap of a finger."

"But… It would never work."

Jack's eyebrows rose. "Why not?"

"Well… The hours, you'd never be at home…"

"Daniel, Sara and I were married more than ten years, and I was away more than a third of that time. We wouldn't have broken up if it wasn't for…"

Daniel didn't need to hear the rest. No matter how much time passed by, everything always led Jack back to Charlie. Daniel felt a sting of compassion for his friend.

"But you're never home, she'd never be happy." He had a nagging feeling that he was repeating himself, but right then he didn't care.

Jack sighed. "Daniel, do you think I spend time on base because I have some strange kink for paperwork? I'm on base this much because there isn't much to go home to."

Strange that Daniel's fingers could be so cold when he could clearly see the warm steam rise from the cup in his hand. "You've been thinking about this for a while, haven't you?"

Jack nodded and looked down on the next paper, even though Daniel could see that he wasn't reading.

"So… What? You're thinking about leaving?"

Jack's head snapped up. "Hell, no!"

That made the frost that was obviously covering Daniel melt a bit.

"Sorry to disappoint you, Daniel, but I'll be sticking around for quite some time. God knows what would become of you kids if I let you out of my sight." Jack smirked at him, but Daniel could tell that his heart wasn't all in it.

Cold. It was so damned cold.

"So… What are you going to tell her?" Daniel felt divided in two; one part of him having to know Jack's answer, the other not wanting to know for fear of what the answer would be.

Jack sighed and looked straight at him, and Daniel's chest ached. There was an uncharacteristically lost expression in his friend's eyes, one he'd only seen a few times and hoped to never see again.

"I have no idea."


He was gratefully brought back to the present by a warm hand on his shoulder. Looking up he saw the concerned eyes of Teal'c.

"You did not respond when I summoned you, DanielJackson."

Daniel smiled and mentally shook himself out of his thoughts. "I'm sorry, Teal'c, I guess I was just lost in thought."

Teal'c studied him carefully, hand still firmly on Daniel's shoulder. "You were thinking of a particular matter?"

"No, nothing important. Did you need something?"

With a final squeeze the Jaffa let go of Daniel's shoulder. "I am in search of MajorCarter."

"She should be in her lab."

"She is not, I was there only moments ago."

Daniel frowned. "That's odd, she said she had some reports to finish."

"Indeed. This is only one of the several instances where MajorCarter has behaved in an unusual manner in a short span of time."

"Yeah," Daniel said slowly, realizing Teal'c was right, "she has, hasn't she? I've barely seen her since the mission, and you usually can't get her away from the lab unless there's an alien invasion."

"Or if the commissary is nearing an end of its supply of blue jell-o."

Daniel nodded, not as amused as he should have been. "Right."

A rap on the open door made them both turn their heads.

"Hey, kids, what's up?" Jack seemed filled with even more energy than usual as he threw himself down on one of the chairs in front of Daniel's desk.

"We were discussing the unusual behavior of MajorCarter, O'Neill."

Jack frowned. "Carter? She's a scientist, Teal'c, if you're looking for sensible behavior..."

Daniel raised his eyebrows as he looked at Jack.

"What? I meant that in a good way."

Daniel gave Jack his best 'you're so full of shit' look and continued. "No, we were talking about how little she's been at base lately and how stressed she's seemed."

Jack looked thoughtful. "When you mention it, she has been a bit-"

"Yeah," Daniel agreed.

"You guys have any idea what's going on?" Jack tapped his fingers against Daniel's desk.

"We are as much in the dark as you, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

The object of their discussion chose that moment to appear in the doorway, breathless and flustered, her blonde hair ruffled.

"Hey, guys, just wanted to say bye before I went home." Without waiting for an answer she turned to leave.


Sam turned back and looked questioningly at Jack. "Sir?"

"You feeling alright, Carter?"

Daniel noticed a guilty look flash over Sam's face. "Of course, sir, I'm fine, never been better." She stood in the doorway for a few more seconds. "Anyway, I gotta go. I'll see you guys later." She turned swiftly and made a hasty retreat, almost knocking an unsuspecting airman over in her hurry to leave.

"O-kay," Daniel looked at Teal'c and Jack who looked similarly confused, "something's not right with that picture."

"Right," Jack agreed.

"Do you believe we should pursue this further?" Teal'c managed to look concerned without moving a muscle.

"No, I was thinking of just leaving it," Jack said sarcastically, resuming the tapping of his fingers that had been interrupted by Sam's arrival. "I don't think we'll get any more insights from Carter though."

"No." Daniel frowned at Jack, the fast beat of his fingers distracting Daniel.

"I think we need to do a little snooping around ourselves." Jack said, his face taking on a slightly juvenile expression, and Daniel shook his head.

He looked at Jack, not bothering to hide his smile. "You saying we should spy on her?"

"Spy is such a nasty word, I was merely suggesting that we watch out for her-"


"-study her-"


"-make sure she's in no real trouble-"


"Fine," Jack snapped, "spy on her."

"Thank you."

"Only to make sure of course."

"We understand, O'Neill," Teal'c assured.

"You feeling up to some espionage, Teal'c buddy?"

"The same as Ms. CharleneBaltimore?"

Jack looked confused. "Ms. who?"

"He's talking about the movie 'The Long Kiss Goodnight', Jack."

Jack studied Teal'c carefully. "We need to do something about your choice of movies, Teal'c."

"That will not be necessary."

"I think it will, Teal'c. I think it will..."

Daniel started to read a document as Jack and Teal'c continued to argue. Who was he to barge in and confess that he'd bought Teal'c the movie?


The next morning Daniel found Jack sitting in the back corner of the commissary, pushing food around his plate with a far away look in his eyes.

"Hey," Daniel greeted as he sat down opposite Jack with his tray, getting a preoccupied wave in return. "Well," he said, "nice to see you too."

"Huh?" Jack looked up, bemused, then gave Daniel a small smile. "Sorry, guess I'm not quite awake yet."

"Right, because you always have trouble getting up in the mornings," Daniel said, not without skepticism.

Jack shrugged and chased a gloopy yellow mess that could have passed for scrambled eggs in another life with his fork.

"What are you thinking about?"

"Nothing." Jack's voice had a disinterested tone, but it didn't fool Daniel.

"Ah," Daniel said, "nothing again. Any progress on the nothing situation?"

Jack gave him a sharp glance, then sighed. "No, I haven't told her anything yet."

"Still don't know?"

"Does it *look* that way?" Jack snapped.

"Hey, just asking," Daniel defended with an 'I surrender' hand gesture.

"Well, don't."

The silence that followed was tense, Jack not meeting Daniel's eyes. Daniel studied him for a moment, having an absurd wish that he could read minds, then sighed and looked around the commissary. Not a lot of people were there, it was rather late for breakfast, but since SG-1 was on downtime they had an opportunity to indulge themselves. If this could be called indulging...

He gave the egg on his plate an experimental stab, but when his fork bounced off, he decided that he didn't feel that adventurous today.

Finally Daniel sighed. "Look. Whenever, whatever you decide, just, so you know, I'd… I'll support you." He looked down, studying the eggs on his plate.

Funny how he could sound so sure of himself when the last thing he wanted was to support Jack's possible decision of leaving.

It was childish, there was no reason to feel this way, he knew that Jack wasn't leaving. He'd said so in no uncertain terms. Daniel just had a nagging feeling, that if Jack went back to Sara, he'd somehow lose him, and as annoying as Jack could be, that wasn't something Daniel wanted to happen. Or even think about.

He could almost feel Jack's eyes boring into him, and as he looked up he caught a strange expression on Jack's face.

"What?" Daniel snapped, unnerved by the steady gaze.

Before Jack could answer, a shadow fell over the table and Teal'c seated himself next to Daniel.

"News?" Jack was in full commander mode within the blink of an eye.

"MajorCarter returned to her home yesterday and did not exit again until this morning, nor did she receive any guests."

Jack tapped the fork thoughtfully against the table. "I don't think that we should trash the dating-theory just yet." He looked at Teal'c. "She didn't leave later?"

"She did not."

Jack looked thoughtful. "Okay, we'll just have to keep surveillance up for a while longer. Teal'c, you'll follow Carter home tonight as well and see if anything new turns up."

Teal'c looked reluctant.

"What's wrong?" Jack said curiously.

"I had hoped for this evening... off."



Jack continued to look expectant, but Teal'c seemed reluctant to co-operate. Jack got a shrewd expression on his face. "You're staying in to watch 'Return of the Ewoks", aren't you?"

Teal'c looked unimpressed. "If I happened to be present in front of the television at the time, it would seem wasteful to turn it off."

"Of course," Daniel said, not even cracking a smile.

"So," Jack looked over at Daniel, "that only leaves you and me then, Obi-Wan."

Daniel snorted. "Whose idea was it to spy on Sam in the first place?"

"I don't remember you being particularly opposed to the idea."

"Fine," Daniel conceded with ill-grace, even though some part of him deep down was cheering for some time alone with Jack.

He was so pathetic.

Something suddenly struck him. "Wait. How did you know that 'Return of the Ewoks' was on tonight anyway?"

Jack froze in the process of bringing his fork to his mouth and stared a Daniel with a deer-in-the-headlights look.


"Hey, guys, what's up?" Sam's cheerful voice made them all flinch and look guilty. Well, not Teal'c, he didn't do guilty. And not Jack; he looked relieved. This left Daniel, who quickly made his face look pleasantly surprised. Or he might look like something had gone down the wrong pipe. There was a very fine line between the two, he'd noticed.

Jack turned to Sam, who was standing next to the table with a tray. Daniel could practically see the gears move as Jack turned on his most winning smile. "Carter! Have a seat."

Sam smiled a bit, a confused look on her face. "Thanks, sir."

She sat down next to Jack and started eating. Daniel tried again to eat his eggs, but his eyes were drawn to Sam against his will. As Sam looked up at him with a confused frown, he concluded that he was probably the only one staring.

Sam looked questioningly at him. "What?"

Daniel smiled hurriedly. "Oh, nothing, we were just... Um..."

"Discussing tomorrow's mission, MajorCarter."

Daniel shot Teal'c a grateful look, and threw himself into a discussion about the mission with a rush of words. He was really quite excited about it; the visual on the MALP had shown an enormous wall, every inch covered in writing. The writing had been faded, making it impossible for the MALP to take any helpful footage, and he was itching to have a closer look at it. Preferably without any hostiles shooting at them. A nice relaxing mission would be a welcome change.

As Teal'c piped in with his take on the planet, Daniel couldn't help but notice Jack's lack of participation in the conversation, and how he kept staring into thin air. Daniel felt the cold feeling creep back up on him. It was almost as though Jack had already left.

How much longer would Jack actually be with them? What would Daniel do if Jack really did leave? If he went back to Sara, what reason would he have to stay on SG-1? The first mission that went wrong, Jack would be out of there. Being the all too decent guy that he was, he wouldn't want to put Sara through losing him like that so soon after getting him back.

Giving himself a mental shake he told himself to get over it. So what if Jack left? They'd still see each other. Oh yeah. Most of the time it would probably be some months apart, the SGC being the overly busy place it was, but they'd see each other. Wouldn't they?

Daniel suppressed a sigh and continued the discussion, faking an enthusiasm he wasn't feeling anymore.


The rain was pouring down in such great amounts that Daniel was starting to think of Noah and his ark and whether or not they could find something to float on before it was too late.

"Whose idea was this again?" Jack sounded miserable.

Daniel gritted his teeth together so they wouldn't clatter. "Yours."



"Next time I come up with an idea like this?"


"Shoot me." With that, Jack gave a full body shake that splattered Daniel's already wet clothes with more water.


"Sorry." Jack did actually look sorry. Daniel just wasn't sure if it was for spraying Daniel or for generally being wet.

He had to admit, though, that for all the discomfort of being soaked by chilling rain, it was worth it when looking at a wet Jack.

He really needed to look over the pleasures he found in life.

"At least you weren't the one who forgot the umbrella."

Jack ran his hand through his wet hair, making it stand up in small spikes. "Why would you bring an umbrella when the sun was shining?"

"Because, by now, I should know how these things works."

Jack gave a nod at that. If something could go bad, it most likely would; Daniel knew it, Jack knew it.

Daniel dried his glasses off with his sleeve for the umpteenth time, ignoring their smudged blurriness as he put them back on. "You sure she'd spot us if we were in the car?"

"At this point, I'd be pretty far from caring, if it weren't for the fact that we're *not* getting the seats wet."

"And how do you propose we get home?"


"And the car?"

"Will be okay 'til I pick it up. This ain't exactly a bad neighborhood." A violent shiver ran through Jack's body, visible even to Daniel.

He pulled off his jacket. "Here."

"Daniel," Jack started to protest.

"Shut up and take it. I've got at least one sweater on you."

Reluctantly, Jack accepted Daniel's jacket and pulled it on, not quite sighing. Daniel hadn't been the only one to miscalculate the weather; Jack had done the unthinkable and left his leather jacket home. He'd only put on a flannel shirt, that outlined his chest very nicely when wet, but Daniel suspected that it was far from warm. Maybe pulling a jacket on a sodden shirt wasn't ideal conditions, but it couldn't really make things worse.

They were standing under a tree across the street from Sam's house. The tree itself would give them enough time to hide if she happened to look out a window, but it didn't do much in the way of stopping the rain.

"So," Jack said after they'd spent another ten fascinating minutes watching the lights shine out of the windows in Sam's house. Sam's undoubtedly warm, dry house…


"You going to tell me what the other night was about?" Jack didn't look at him, but he didn't have to. He knew Jack was somehow still scrutinizing him.

He tried stalling. "The other night?"

"Even if you were too drunk to remember, I think the hangover was quite memorable."

Daniel made a face. "Yeah."

Jack somehow even managed to make the silence sound expecting, still without looking at Daniel.

"I told, I just get-"

"-depressed from time to time, yeah, I remember."


Jack looked at him, and there was no mischief in his solemn eyes. "I didn't buy it then, and I'm not buying it now."

"I thought it was a pretty good excuse," Daniel joked weakly, rubbing his hands against his upper arms, trying to find some kind of warmth.

"Not bad," Jack relented, "if it weren't for the fact that you're a really bad liar when you're drunk."

"Look, why don't we call it a night." Daniel didn't care if his changing the subject was obvious; he was just too tired and too cold and too *wet* to do this right now. "I think getting pneumonia is way above the call of duty."

Jack just looked at him then fished out Daniel's cell from the pocket of the jacket. "You'll tell me later?"

Daniel stared at the man dialing the phone to get them a cab, the man whose hair was dripping with water and who looked really great in Daniel's jacket.

He would. He'd keep quiet about it for as long as he could, but sooner or later, he'd tell Jack about it. There was really no use in trying to fight it.

"Yes, Jack, I'll tell you later."

They were silent the entire cab ride to Daniel's place. When they finally arrived, Jack slipped out of Daniel's jacket. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it." Daniel opened the door and shook the jacket off slightly. It'd had stopped raining, naturally, since they no longer intended to stay outside.

"No no, I mean it. Any time you wanna maybe, borrow a jacket-"

Daniel smiled. "That's fine."

"-or maybe talk…" Jack left the rest unsaid and looked at Daniel, a reassuring glint of humor in his eyes.

"Or we could get drunk again," Daniel suggested.

Jack made a face. "I'd rather do the talk thing without large amounts of alcohol." He paused. "Well, at least without large amount of alcohol on your behalf."

"Now," Daniel stepped out of the car and leaned down to look at Jack, a hand resting on the door, "where's the fun in that?"

"I'll let you ponder that question alone, grasshopper," Jack said dryly. "Don't try it out tonight, though, I doubt having a hangover while being off-world is recommended."

"Party pooper."

"Don't you know it."


"Chevron four encoded."

Daniel adjusted his backpack and looked up to see Jack impatiently scanning the gate room "Where the hell is Carter?" He turned to the tall Jaffa standing next to him. "Teal'c?"

"I do not know, O'Neill."

Jack turned toward the door just as Sam entered jogging. "A bit late aren't we, Major?"

"Sorry, sir."

Daniel could see Jack waiting for the expected explanation as Sam bent down to tie her shoelaces, and when none came he quirked an eyebrow. "And I suppose you had a *good* reason, Major?"

Sam looked up. "Yes, sir."

With a look that indicated there would be no explanation she returned to tying her laces. Jack shot Daniel an exasperated look and turned towards the gate just as it opened with a mighty *kawoosh*.

"Now that everyone has graced us with their presence," Jack shot a glance at Sam, "off we go."

With that Jack walked up to the gate and vanished behind the shimmering surface. Daniel was a few steps behind, entering side by side with Teal'c.

He would probably never quite get used to the sensation of gate travel. Although he didn't find it quite as freezing as he had those first fateful trips he still got that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him that if it went on much longer, he'd probably throw up.

Stepping out of the gate relatively steady, he was greeted with the sight of twenty or so locals staring at them in what could only be described as awe. Sam stepped out behind him and Teal'c and the gate closed behind the quartet.

"Daniel." Jack's tone was watchful, and even though his hand was only resting lightly at his rifle, Daniel knew that he'd have it up and ready within a second if necessary. "Feeling up for a bit of meet and greet?"

Daniel stepped up by Jack's side. "Uh, hello."

Jack threw him an incredulous look.

"What? It's not like I can tell by the way they look what language they speak."

As one, all of the people started cheering and yelling in some language that Daniel found familiar, its identity teasingly lurking at the edge of his memory.

The people hushed down and one of the locals, a tall man with a scar on his left cheek stepped forward. He hesitantly began speaking, and Daniel focused on the way the words were fashioned on their tongues before being roughly spat out in… Well, it could either be paranoia and distrust, or the man could be talking about the weather.

"Daniel?" Jack sounded a bit tense.

"Give me a second." He racked his brain for the answer he knew to be there…somewhere.

With a snap of his fingers, it came to him. Inuit. Of course. The dialect was obscure, due to centuries of change, but the basics were remarkably preserved. He tried a few words of greeting and was heartened when the man who had approached answered in a rush of words. Now all he had to do was understand them...

After some questions in the tongue he felt like he was limping through, he'd managed to get the gist of the man's words. It had been at least ten years since he'd tried speaking it and he had a suspicion that his accent was grating on the ears of the man he was speaking to, but he was able to make himself understood. At least he hoped so...

The man waited patiently for him to finish his sentence and then answered quickly. O-kay. Piece of cake. He turned to the others, expectant expression on their faces.

"If I got this right, these people apparently regard us as heroes."

"They do? Wow. How'd they know?" Jack had lowered his rifle marginally

Daniel gave Jack a dry smile. "It seems that we saved them from, eh, 'death and annihilation' by getting rid of the shaman of the enemy tribe."

Sam looked around. "What shaman?"

Daniel pointed towards the bottom of the steps and a pair of wooden sandals, with feet still present, that had nothing attached to them a few inches above the ankles. "It seems as though our shaman wasn't at the most tactical position when the gate opened."

"Er… eugh?" Jack said making a face. "So, what's next?" Jack looked around at the people who were openly laughing and hugging each other.

The man with the scar said some words to Daniel, to which he nodded.

"We've been invited to a celebration," Daniel translated.

"Oh goody." Jack still looked watchful, and Daniel thought with a roll of his eyes that Jack was just as paranoid about happy people as he was about a Gou'ald pointing a hand device at him.

"What now?" Sam said.

"I'm not sure," Daniel answered, watching in amusement as a short and chubby woman tried to reach high enough to give Teal'c a hug. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see."


"No way!"


"Read my lips: No. Way."

"Jack, it's an important part of the ceremony."

"I don't care if it means that the *sun* will rise in the morning! I'm not. Wearing. A dress!"

"Actually, it's not a dress," Daniel said as he held out the long, very yellow and very wrinkly robe, "as much as it's-"

"I don't *care* what it is, it looks like a dress!"

"Well, some of us have been forced to wear a dress before, sir," Sam said sharply.

"I hate to break this to you, Carter," Jack snapped, "but you're allowed to wear a dress from time to time."

"That doesn't mean I like it."

Jack sighed. "I'm sorry you had to wear that dress with the horse people, Carter."

"Apology accepted, sir," Sam said in a dignified voice, then added in a lower tone, "only took five years."

"I heard that, Major."

"Yes, sir," Sam said, a grin tugging at her lips.

"So, if Sam has to wear a dress, it's only fair that we have to wear a dress," Daniel tried to reason.

"Didn't you just say that this wasn't a dress?"

Daniel sighed. "Jack..."

"My mother has a dress like this." Jack's voice had a distinct whine to it now.

"And I'm sure she'd be very proud of you. Come on, the sooner you wear it the faster this'll be over."

Jack sighed in resignation and unzipped his jacket. "How long was this ceremony gonna take anyway?"

"Ehm, well..."

"Daniel..." Jack's tone held a warning.

"I doubt it'll be more than...a few hours..."


"Do not concern yourself, O'Neill. We will not tell anyone." Teal'c was still wearing his fatigues, since they hadn't found a robe that fit him yet.

Jack glared at Teal'c. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

Teal'c smiled. "Indeed."


Daniel glanced over at Jack, who was smiling with the clear message that the receiver of the smile better back off, or he might get bitten. After years of working with Jack O'Neill, that was a smile you knew well.

"Jack, I think your smile would look more convincing if it didn't make people wonder if you're having a stroke."

Jack's face adopted a more normal expression as he looked at Daniel. "Maybe I am."


"Daniel, I've been smiling for. Four. Hours."

"And I'm sure it'll be over very soon," Daniel tried.

"You said that two hours ago." Jack had the stubborn look of someone who knew he was right and wasn't giving in.

"Well, at least you get to sit down, sir." Sam was sounding more than a little annoyed.

"Indeed." Even Teal'c looked less than happy. Daniel suspected that it was the robe; they hadn't been able to find any in Teal'c's size, since the Inuit weren't a large people in general. On Teal'c, the difference showed drastically; the sleeves only reached to his elbow, stretched to their limit by his muscular forearms, and the robe ended somewhere around his knees.

Daniel had noticed Jack having the same problem, but the colonel had hurriedly sat down on one of the few still empty seats and pulled the robe down over his bent knees. After that he'd given Teal'c a satisfied grin and Daniel had just been waiting for his tongue to stick out.

"Think of this as a once in a life time experience, Jack."

"Oh, it damn well better be," Jack muttered and smiled at one of the locals.

"This is quite interesting actually. I've heard about ceremonies like this before, but I've never actually witnessed one." Daniel had been studying the proceedings carefully, memorizing everything for his notes later on.

"Daniel, we're sitting inside a fish." Jack sounded very annoyed.

"Standing, O'Neill," Teal'c put in.

"Technically, sir, whales aren't fish," Sam said.

"They're not?" Jack looked suspicious.

"No, sir."

"Could have fooled me."

Daniel found the prospect of sitting inside the remains of what must have been a huge whale exciting; the trouble the people must have gone trough to drag the skeleton out of the ocean...

"What's the shaman saying?" Sam sounded interested to know, mostly, Daniel suspected, because she was bored to tears.

"Hmm, pretty much what he's been saying for the past hour," Daniel said, listening. "Making sure he isn't offending any spirits by not mentioning their names. We should be looking out for when he stands up, that's supposed to signal the end of the ceremony."

"Maybe he's stuck, he's been sitting on his knees for a long time now." Jack was glaring at the shaman in question, all pretenses of a smile gone.

"Jack..." Daniel started.

"Sir!" Sam sounded excited, and Daniel looked up, "I think he's-"

"The shaman appears to be-" Even Teal'c had a note of excitement in his voice.

"Come on, come on, come ON already!" Jack had the same expression he had when he was cheering for the home team in hockey.

Collectively, SG-1 sighed as the shaman only stretched and then fell back flat on his face, chanting.

"I think he's doing it on purpose. He's enjoying it." Jack's eyes narrowed as he took in the ecstatic figure in front.

"Jack, I think you're getting a tad too paranoid," Daniel said reproving.

"Yeah, well, it's in the job description."


The first one down was Sam. They'd barely even gotten out of the gate and walked down the ramp when Daniel saw a strange expression cross her face.

"You okay, Sam?"

She'd frozen for a moment, but now she smiled at him. "Yeah, Daniel, I'm f-" She frowned and a mix of bewilderness and horror crossed her face. Suddenly she started tearing at her clothes.

"Major Carter, are you all right?" Hammond's voice over the speakers was concerned.

Sam didn't answer, she'd gotten her backpack off and was now struggling with her jacket.

"Medical team to the gate room!" Jack shouted, and was by Sam's side in an instant. "Carter, what's wrong?"

Sam didn't answer, desperation showing in her jerky movements.

"Are you in pain, MajorCarter?" Teal'c hovered at her left side, careful not to touch the wriggling woman but Daniel was certain that if Sam stumbled, Teal'c would catch her within moments.

"Stand clear!" Janet came running through the doors, her nurses following her closely. Daniel backed off, giving the medical team space and noticed Teal'c and Jack doing the same.

"Sam." Janet had her patented gentle voice on; the one everyone knew didn't stop her from sticking a needle in people's rear ends. "Can you hear me?"

Sam nodded, although Daniel found it hard to tell for sure from all the other movement from her. Heart pounding in his chest, he watched as the normally controlled Major thrashed around, the people around her making room for her in a way that would have been amusing if not for the seriousness of the situation.

"What's wrong? Where's the pain?" As Daniel watched, Janet tried to get closer, missing being knocked down by one of Sam's flaying arms by only a few inches.

Sam had finally gotten her jacket off. "No pain," she said between clenched teeth, "just..." she started scratching her belly furiously, "itches!"

Daniel caught a movement in from the corner of his eye, and he turned his head to see Teal'c, looking absent, bring a hand to his neck and scratch.


"Oh, God, Jack! Yes!" The pleasure was unbelievable. He'd obviously died and gone to heaven.

"Like that?" Jack's voice was husky, and it sent shivers down Daniel's spine.

"Yes, more! Mmm…" He leaned into Jack's touch, his surroundings disappearing, the only thing mattering the exquisite fire spreading from Jack's hands.

"Easy, Daniel," Jack's voice gentled him.

"Right there. Yes!" Daniel's eyes closed in pleasure.

"Okay, that's it, I'm getting the tube."

His eyes shot open again. "No, don't stop! Get your ass back here!"

"Daniel, if I scratch any harder there will be blood shed!"

"I don't *care*!" Daniel threw himself back on the couch and started wriggling around wildly, closing his eyes as the rough surface of the couch made the itch feel a little less intense. He heard Jack cross the room and rummage through something and when he opened his eyes Jack stood above him, tube in hand. Daniel tried giving him his best puppy-dog look, the one that never failed. It did this time.

"I said no, Daniel," Jack said, sounding like he was talking to a small child, and Daniel gritted his teeth. "Look, after you get this stuff on your back, the itch will ease off."

Daniel sighed and sat up with his back to Jack, and took off his shirt. He sat still as he heard Jack squirt out a generous amount of the mint-scented cream and smeared it over Daniel's back, but he couldn't stop a twitch now and then.

"How come you're not itching yet?" Daniel didn't care if he sounded petulant.

"I might have gotten off easy."

"Or you could have a delayed reaction."

"Could be," Jack admitted. He cursed softly. "Geez, Daniel, your back looks like someone spray-painted it red."

"What, red not my color?" he said, trying to suppress a particularly nasty itch on his right shoulder.

"Apparently not."

Daniel sighed in relief as the itch slowly started to fade away at Jack's gentle ministrations.

"See, I told you that wearing those things was a lousy idea."

"And how was I supposed to know that those dresses-"


"-shut up, Jack- were dyed by a flower that…" he gave in and furiously scratched his shoulder, "doesn't really agree with the human immune system."

"Well, I don't know. Intuition?"

Daniel gave him an acidic look over his shoulder. "What, like female?"

"More like *anthropological* intuition."

"Sorry, must have left that at home."

Jack finished with a big swipe and Daniel turned to see him put the cap back on the tube.

"I feel sorry for the big guy though. I don't think he's used to actually being affected by alien concoctions."

"It wasn't a concoction, Jack, it..."

"Daniel.," Jack said in his best do-I-sound-like-I-care-right-now? voice.


"Unfortunately I couldn't get the General to postpone tomorrow's mission, the deal with the Mininans is too important."

"Why can't they just come here?" Daniel liked to think that the question was a valid one and not really as whiny as it sounded.

"You're the one who's been negotiating with them, you know how paranoid they are. And you also know we really need that mining treaty."

"Yeah." Daniel sighed as he pulled his shirt on again. "I know."

He wished that SG-9 could have taken care of this, but the Mininans were probably the most paranoid aliens they'd ever come across (which was, frankly, saying quite a lot). He'd had to grovel for days after mentioning that the diplomatic team was in charge of negotiations. The Mininans apparently thought themselves generous that one team from Earth was allowed to talk to them.

Sometimes he really understood why Jack wanted to shoot first and ask questions later.

He turned to face Jack fully only to see the other man freeze up, and a muscle twitch in his jaw. Daniel smiled, feeling generous now that his own back was itch-less, and reached for the tube. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."


The sunrise on P3R-513 - or Min as the locals called it - was quite spectacular, Daniel decided. The glade in which they'd set camp the previous evening lent a perfect view of the landscape, and the sun had nearly risen fully, spreading a purple and pink fire over the horizon. A mist was rising in the woods surrounding them, giving the whole scene a mystical look. It was the perfect way to greet a morning. Almost.

It *would* have been a perfect way to greet a morning if his eyes weren't trying to shut themselves on their own accord and his entire body still itching.

Daniel gingerly rubbed his neck and yawned, the skin there sore from scratching. The salve that Janet had given him didn't last for very long, and they could only use it five times a day or risk an even worse allergic reaction. Jack had been very vocal about that and Janet very smug. Daniel thought, a bit suspiciously, that their doctor seemed to be enjoying their discomfort a little too much, but then again, being cooped up on base 24/7, the things to amuse a doctor were probably few and far between.

Jack had grudgingly given in to Janet, in his own charmingly ungracious way. Daniel just wished that the itching would go away already; he didn't think he could stand it much longer. Well, maybe he could, but the scarring wouldn't be pretty.

He took a deep breath of the fresh morning air, trying to wake himself up a bit and wondered where Jack could be. His sleeping bag in the tent had been empty when Daniel woke up, and as far as he knew Jack didn't have last watch. He himself had had the first watch, Teal'c the second and by the alertness in Sam's face as she was sitting by the fire outside the tents, Daniel knew that she must have had last watch.

She looked up at him and smiled, handing him a full cup of coffee. "Morning."

Daniel made an acknowledging noise and sat down next to her, swallowing the warm liquid in one gulp. The faster he got some caffeine in his system, the faster he'd be able to actually think.

Sam's grin got broader as she looked at him, and Daniel could only imagine how he must have looked, having been unable to fall asleep until hours after the end of his watch.

He drained his cup and reached for the pot for his second refill. "Jack?"

"The colonel got up about an hour ago. He's checking the perimeter at the moment." Sam looked around. "He should be back soon though."

Daniel nodded and emptied the second cup. That was more like it. He looked around, his eyes finally seeming to understand his intentions and noticed again what a beautiful morning it was.

"Guess we should start packing up the camp before the colonel gets back." Sam handed Daniel his breakfast. "I think he's eager to get back home."

Daniel accepted the MRE and looked at the surroundings. It was so peaceful. "Yeah, but what would you rather do, Sam? Race back home to paperwork or stay here and enjoy the peace and quiet for a little longer?"

When he got no answer, he looked up to see a flash of guilt run over Sam's face. "Sam?" He tried the gentle approach, with the expression he'd learned could get the most closed off of people to open up to him. "Is everything all right?"

"Everything's fine, Daniel." She poked her fork in her ham and cheese, avoiding Daniel's eyes.

"Right." He suppressed a sigh and put his own breakfast down, having hardly touched it. Even Beef Wellington grew old after a while. "Look, I know I've been a bit far away lately, but you know that you can talk to me about anything, right?"

As she was about to answer, their attention was drawn to the left by the loud cracking of a branch. They looked over to see Jack exit the forest, cursing as he tried getting his hand beneath his jacket to scratch his back. Sam quickly stood and offered her hand to help Daniel up from the ground.

"So how did you sleep last night?" Sam said, smoothly changing the subject.

Daniel made a mental note to talk to Jack later about his characteristically bad timing, then reached back to absently scratch his neck again, making a face. "As well as can be expected with the feeling of fire ants crawling all over you. I know Jack didn't sleep that well, spending the entire night tossing and turning. How about you?"

He threw a glare at Jack, still a bit peeved over the interruption, receiving a confused look in response.

"Morning, campers," Jack said, questioning eyes on Daniel, but Daniel just shook his head a little, letting it go for the moment.

Sam frowned, and Daniel found himself on the receiving end of the infamous Carter grilling look. "You both look tired. At least the itching isn't quite as bad as it was yesterday. You sleep all right, sir?"

"I slept fine, Carter, thank you." Jack looked at Daniel. "And if anyone spent the night tossing and turning it wasn't me, Dr. Insomniac."

"I was lying on a rock," Daniel mumbled.

"Uh huh," Jack said knowingly, idly scratching his left arm. "Okay, time to get this show on the road, kids. Is Teal'c up yet or do we get to wake him up with a nice refreshing bucket of cold water?"

Teal'c chose that moment to exit his tent and shot Jack a look. Daniel noted that even Teal'c was starting to show signs of weariness, and that just wasn't like the Jaffa.

"There will be no need for water, O'Neill."

"Morning, Teal'c," Sam greeted him cheerfully, "sleep well?"

Daniel watched as Teal'c's eyebrow started climbing his forehead. It always amazed Daniel how many emotions Teal'c could display with just the movement of his eyebrows. This morning he could tell that Teal'c wasn't in the mood for pleasantries, and he prayed to any god out there that they didn't meet up with any surprise visitors on their way; they wouldn't stand a chance against a grumpy Jaffa and an itchy Jack.

Sam handed Daniel another cup of coffee, which he gratefully accepted and watched as she filled one up for Jack as well.

Daniel saw how Jack's eyes slid over them all, and paused on Teal'c. "Hey, buddy, you look tired. Itch keep you distracted all night?"

Daniel wondered if Jack had a death wish and moved a little further away from him, looking back at Teal'c again.

"I am a Jaffa, O'Neill, I am trained to ignore physical discomfort." Definitely a frosty note in that level voice.

Jack looked sympathetic. "Kept you up, eh?"

Teal'c sighed. "Indeed."

Breakfast went on without any incidents and Jack glanced around with a pleased grin after they'd all gotten their dosage of the salve. "Right. Let's pack up and hit the yellow brick road, kids."

Teal'c looked at Daniel and Sam. "This movie never grows old?"

"Not to the colonel, Teal'c," Sam said. "Not to the colonel."


Things were going so well. That should have tipped him off right away. Due to the relentlessness of Murphy's Law, he should have been assured that things would find a way of fucking themselves up sooner or later. Especially since the Mininans were very cooperative and unusually kind where they were normally paranoid and snide he should have guessed that other things would have been less forgiving.

And when it came, it wasn't even the usual disaster. There were no cultural or linguistic misunderstanding, no attacking Jaffa, no death gliders, not even an itty bitty Goa'uld. It was something so trivial that Daniel didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.

At first he thought it was his own stomach grumbling, since it was past lunch, but as the rumble increased he had to conclude that not even a day of Teal'c's cooking would evoke such a hunger.

Later he would wonder why the hell they'd been so close to the ledge anyway. He knew that being at a high altitude meant luck for the Mininans, they believed that by standing high, the Gods would pay attention to them and give their blessing. It was written exactly NOWHERE that they had to be close to the ledge to do that.

And why couldn't Jack just sit still for once in his life? He'd managed on the last planet they'd been on, and the itch wasn't so bad at this point that he couldn't endure it sitting still. But no, being the curious son of a bitch that he was he had to go to the edge and look down.

And with his marvelous sense of timing, that was when the earth started to tremble.

Daniel had been in his fair share of earthquakes, that came with traveling to exotic places, or San Francisco for that matter. None of them came close to this. It was impossible to stand upright, even Teal'c, the walking rock, fell to his knees.

Daniel felt a cold hand squeeze his heart in an iron grip as he rolled on the ground and looked around for Jack. When he spotted him, his mouth ran dry.

Jack was standing at the very edge, the sandy, grassy - and oh how Daniel wished they were on a rocky cliff - edge, balancing back and forth, fighting against the tremors that were doing their damnedest to throw him off the 25 foot cliff.

Dozens of moments in the past came back to Daniel where he'd teased Jack for being born an officer, but at that moment he thanked whatever power there was that Jack was a trained soldier, since it was only years of training that had given him the exceptional balance that was keeping him upright. That, and that mulishly stubborn will of his. Just as he looked about to fall, the earth went still and Jack caught his footing again.

Jack was giving Daniel a reassuring smile as the second tremble set in. Daniel only had time to catch the look of fear on Jack's face as he stumbled backwards...backwards...slipping off...falling...

Daniel was vaguely aware of screaming something as he clambered to his feet, desperately stumbling towards the edge. The tremors increased, as though they knew what he was trying to do, and by Murphy's Law yet again, he stumbled and managed to hit his head on, probably, the only rock within a square mile.

He didn't know how long he had been unconscious, probably not more than a few seconds, since when he came to he felt the tremors stop and got up on his elbow to see Sam helping a Mininan and Teal'c heading towards Daniel.

Daniel stared fearfully at the ledge for a few seconds, then scrambled up, ignoring the pounding in his head, ignoring Teal'c.

"Daniel, no! There could be another tremor any moment!" He hardly even registered Sam's shout.

He didn't care. He didn't care about anything except getting to that cursed ledge. And when he got there, he wished he hadn't, he wished he'd never looked down.


Jack was down there, at the bottom, still as if sleeping, one arm pointing at an awkward angle. And Daniel couldn't even see if his chest was moving! Damn it!

Suddenly he was furious, and he ran as fast as he could to the left, the same direction he'd seen the Mininans coming from in the first place. He sent tiny rocks tumbling as he slipped down, sand and grass flying in all directions as he drew up a dusty cloud in his wake.

And when he reached Jack, reached the still - too still, damn it - form at his feet, he was suddenly frozen. He couldn't move, terror gripping him. What if he checked for a pulse and there was none to be found? What if there was a pulse, but it stopped beating right under his fingers? What if-


Teal'c was next to him, hardly even breathing hard after what had to have been a wild dash after Daniel.

"Is O'Neill-"

"I don't know."

Shaken out of his shock, he kneeled next to the prone colonel, carefully shaking him by the arm that looked undamaged.

"Jesus... Jack? Jack?"

Heavy boots hitting the ground announced that Sam was there as well, but Daniel was busy studying Jack's face for any sign of life.


"Jack? Say something." Hands shaking, he reached to search for a pulse.



"Speaking. I think..." Jack blinked a bit, his dusty face contorting in pain and Daniel felt his vision turn blurry.

Sam knelt on the other side of Jack and carefully lifted his arm, getting a yelp out of him.

"Your arm is broken, sir."

"No kidding, Carter." Jack sighed. "I suppose you're gonna try and put a splint on it."

"Don't worry, sir," Sam smiled, even though Daniel could hear a slight trembling in her voice, "I've been practicing." She looked over at Daniel, her smile vanishing.

"Daniel, you're bleeding."

Only then did Daniel realize that the blurriness came from blood slipping in behind the glasses from a graze on his forehead.

"Nothing that won't mend," Daniel said absently, his eyes never moving from Jack and his heart still hammering. Jack was still there. Thank god he was still there.


Some time he should try and count the times they'd been here. There had to be some little column in the Guinness Book of Records where 'infirmary visits' had a designated place.

At least they were here in the morning now. Daniel tried to ignore the confusion of having a second morning in one day, it was something that came with the job. Point being, if he spent the day here, maybe, just maybe, he might convince Janet to let him go home and sleep in his own bed.

Looking over at Sam and Teal'c who were standing next to the wall he said the first thing that came into his mind. "Well. That sucked." He experimentally touched the bandage on his head.

He glanced over at Jack who sat on the bed next to his, making a face as the nurse finished the last adjustments to the sling around his cast. "Isn't that my line?"

"I thought I'd borrow it for the occasion."

"This is your fault you know," Jack said after waving the nurse away.

Daniel felt his eyebrows climb his forehead. "My fault? How is this my fault?"

"I don't know, but it is. I'll think of something. Give me ten minutes."

"That is a most illogical approach, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"What can I say, logic never appealed to me."

"Besides, if you hadn't been trampling at the very edge of the hill, sir..." Sam's voice was neutral, but Daniel still caught the irritated note in it. Sam had a tendency of being annoyed when they made her worry.

"Sure," Jack said dramatically, "kick the guy who's down."

"At least you don't have someone with a huge sledgehammer banging inside your head." Daniel looked longingly towards Janet's office, where he knew there was a medicine cabinet with aspirins.

"Pain is good for you." Jack didn't sound all too convinced.

"Is this another example of your strange sense of humor, O'Neill?"

"Hey! There's nothing wrong with my sense of humor."

"I never said there was," Teal'c said coolly.

"You were implying," Jack insisted.

"You are being paranoid, O'Neill."

Jack snorted. "Right. You were wearing your skeptical expression."

"I did no such thing."

"Sorry, Teal'c," Sam said, "but you were."


Sam made a slight face. "I think you'll have to give up on this one, Teal'c."

Teal'c regarded Sam solemnly. "Are you certain, MajorCarter?"

"Oh yeah. Your skeptical expression is quite a leap from your other ones."

Teal'c started to look a bit concerned. "My 'other' ones?"

"Easy now, Carter," Jack said warningly.

"It's better that he hears it from us than from some stranger," Daniel pointed out


"Easy, Teal'c," Jack said reassuringly, "don't let him get to you."

"I believe that it is too late for that, O'Neill."


Janet didn't let him go home to sleep in his own bed ("Just because your skull is very thick doesn't mean it can't be broken, Dr. Jackson." That woman needed more sleep and less caffeine.) and Daniel was thinking that staying awake would be an impossible task when Jack came back to the infirmary, a bag in his good hand.

Janet had let him go since there were things the general needed to be briefed about, although she made Jack promise to come back straight afterwards. Daniel smiled a bit. Jack might grumble, but he kept his word, and Janet always took advantage of that.

"Hey, how are you feeling?" Jack sat down in the chair next to Daniel's bed, gingerly arranging his sling in a more comfortable position.

"Doped up. Bored. Tired."

Jack grinned. "The usual infirmary feeling, eh?"

"Oh yeah."

"Well, fear not, your Colonel has come to the rescue." He reached into the bag and brought up a box, which smelled suspiciously like donuts.

Daniel gave Jack a look that he suspected came close to adoring. "How'd you manage to get a hold of those?" He reverently lifted the lid of the box. "And warm?"

Jack grinned. "I have my sources."

Daniel knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, so he closed his eyes and took a pleasurable bite out of one of the donuts before Janet would come along with some excuse why he shouldn't eat it.

They sat in relaxed silence for a while.

Then, "Did I tell you that I made up my mind about Sara?"

The question was so out of the blue that it took Daniel a second or two to answer. "Uh, no. No you didn't."

"Yeah, well... I did." Jack picked up a donut and studied it.

Trying to adapt to the change from relaxed to tense, Daniel scolded his features into what he hopes was a neutral expression. "Right. And?"

"And..." Jack kept studying the donut as though it held all the answers. "I think it could be worth another shot."

The now familiar coldness came seeping into his veins, and he suppressed a shiver. "Oh. I mean, good, great, that's great. Right?"

"Yeah. I mean, she's the only person that's ever been able to stand me for more than... Hell, Daniel, I don't know..." Jack sighed and threw the abandoned donut back into the box.

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "That's not really decisive, Jack."

Jack quirked an eyebrow and gave him a 'no kidding' look. "No, I don't suppose it is. It's just..." He stopped and looked down at the cover. "Me and Sara, we worked, we were great, the greatest, and... I just..." He looked up into Daniel's eyes and something vulnerable in them made Daniel's chest hurt. "I miss that."

"Or maybe..." Daniel swallowed and tried to find the right words, "you just miss having someone to home to. Maybe it has nothing to do with Sara."

"Maybe," Jack admitted, "maybe not. Either way, don't you think it's worth giving it a shot? I mean, it's not like I have anything to lose anyway."

Who was he kidding anyway? Even if Jack didn't go with... "Sure. I guess it's always worth a shot."

"Gee, keep the enthusiasm down, people will start talking," Jack joked weakly.

Daniel laughed. "Sorry... But you know what I mean."

Jack smiled and cuffed Daniel lightly on the arm. "Yeah. Sorry, didn't mean to get all serious on you. I know that must be a traumatic experience." This time the joke sounded less strained.

Daniel grinned. "Most of the time."

"You're a good friend, Daniel." Jack's voice was warm and Daniel had to look away.

"Well," he nodded, "I hope it works out."

"Yeah, you and me both, buddy..." Jack closed his eyes and slipped down on the chair, relaxing into a sprawl that didn't look all that comfortable and rested his head against the back of the chair. Daniel just watched him, aware that Jack's breathing hadn't evened out enough for him to be asleep, but watched him never the less until the evening nurse came to check his vitals.


He'd fallen asleep watching Jack pretend to sleep, and when he woke up in the morning the plastic chair next to the bed was empty. As was Jack's office, the piles of paper revealing that he hadn't been in his office since before they went off world.

Janet released him after admitting that getting out of bed would probably be good for him and gave him the usual urgings of caution and rest. Feeling tired but strangely energized Daniel called for a taxi, figuring that he might as well take the opportunity to spend some time at home, maybe dust the place up a bit so he wouldn't have to get a maid to avoid sneezing his head off.

Halfway there he changed his mind and told the driver to take a left turn. He needed some time to relax and think.

Sitting down in a quiet corner in the library with one of his favorite books about Egyptology (it always made him laugh) he found himself unable to focus on the words. He kept running the conversation he'd had with Jack the previous evening over and over in his head.

*"Did I tell you that I made up my mind about Sara?"*

*"Uh, no. No, you didn't."*

*"Yeah, well... I did." *

It was time to face the music. He had it bad for Jack O'Neill. Nothing really surprising in that, he'd had a soft spot for the guy ever since he found out that Jack had lied for him and retired after returning from Abydos, such a long long time ago.

And, he admitted to himself, he'd had a bit of hero worship for him. *That* didn't last very long as he noticed that just because Jack wasn't thinking of killing himself anymore, he could still be a royal asshole. Daniel still admired him though, because royal asshole or not, Jack was there when it mattered. And that turned out to be quite a few times.

*"Me and Sara, we worked, we were great, the greatest, and... I just... I miss that."*

For a long time he'd thought that Jack and Sam might actually go ahead and…do the deed. Regulations had never really been Jack's strong point, and Sam, who initially had seemed to be a by-the-book kind of person, showed tendencies to bend the rules on occasion. They'd certainly flirted, especially after the za'tarc situation last year, but that seemed to have been it.

Unless they were having wild monkey sex without him knowing about it, but somehow he didn't think Jack would think of pursuing Sara if that was the case.

Sighing, Daniel closed the book with a *thump*. Yeah, that was Jack alright, managing to distract him even when he wasn't around. He walked towards the exit, smiling politely at the librarian who always gave him the evil eye no matter how quiet he tried to be.

He walked out into the sunshine, and just stopped for a moment to look around. Sometimes he worried that the Stargate thing would be too much, that one day he'd come back to Earth and wonder what was so special about the place anyway.

It was certainly dirtier than most planets, since a majority of the planets they'd visited had yet to reach an industrial stage. More familiar, granted, but somehow no less intriguing.

Feeling the warm autumn breeze against his cheek and the sun warm his head and shoulders he closed his eyes and smiled. He still had quite some time left before he got sick of this.

Not without reluctance, he opened his eyes again and started walking down towards the street. He didn't really want to go home, the place was too…empty. Dusty, but empty. Smiling a bit ruefully, he waved over a taxi.


"Aren't you supposed to be home resting, son?"

Daniel flinched a bit at the familiar voice coming from behind him. Caught.

"General," he smiled and turned around, meeting the knowing eyes of General Hammond. "I just," his eyes flew to the green-gray walls of the corridor, looking for inspiration, "came back to catch up on some work."

"I'm pretty sure that the doctor gave you some sick leave, Dr. Jackson." The general's face remained passive, but there was a glint in his eyes. Daniel wasn't quite sure whether or not that was a good sign.

"Well, she didn't actually ban me from base." At the general's steady gaze, Daniel made a face. "She pretty much banned me from base."

The general smiled. "I would have been surprised otherwise. Don't you think it might be a good idea to do what she says?"

Daniel felt a wave of dread run through him. "What, she's on duty?" He looked over his shoulder, almost expecting to see Janet come walking down the corridor.

He heard a chuckle from the general and turned back to see the glint in his eyes having turned into full-out amusement. "No, Dr. Jackson, Dr. Warner is the head medical officer at the moment."

"Oh. Well. Good for me then, I guess."

"I could order you off base," he pointed out.

"But you won't," Daniel said, unable to hide the hopefulness contradicting the certainness of his words.

"I'll give you one hour, then I want you home resting. Dr. Fraiser generally doesn't give sick leaves without a reason."

"Generally, no." Daniel sighed and muttered, "I guess I can always sit and watch as the dust settles around the place."

If the general heard him, he didn't show it, he just patted Daniel on the shoulder. "Excellent. I expect you to convey the same message to the colonel if you see him." He gave Daniel a pointed look. "Tell him that target practice does not count as R&R."

Daniel felt a twinge of…something…at the mention of Jack's name. "Will do, general."

"Very well. One hour, Dr. Jackson."

Daniel nodded. "One hour."

As the general turned and left, Daniel stood in the corridor indecisively, unsure of where to go. He was pretty sure he'd come here for a reason, his subconscious just hadn't bothered to tell him what that reason was yet.

Making a decision, he started walking down the hall. This might not have been the reason his subconscious wanted him here, but he liked the idea, so it'd just have to live with it.

As he came to a stop outside Teal'c's door, he considered the possibility that thinking of your subconscious as though it were an annoying younger sibling might not be completely normal. Then he considered the fact that he was on his way to ask a 102 year old alien for answers of questions he wasn't sure he could answer himself, and decided that normal wasn't really in his vocabulary anymore.

He knocked on the door carefully, mindful not to disturb Teal'c if he wasn't awake. A newly awakened Teal'c was very…cranky.

"Enter." Teal'c's voice was muffled.

Daniel entered into the room that was dark except for the candles spread randomly around the sparsely furnished area. The only ones set in some sort of order were the ones in a circle on the floor, which Teal'c was sitting in the center of.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't know you were in kel'no'reem."

"I was not." Teal'c relaxed his shoulders and shifted his legs slightly from his lotus position to look at Daniel. "I was in a light state of meditation."

"Well, I didn't mean to bother you anyway." Daniel stood awkwardly inside the door. He'd been into Teal'c's quarters more times than he could remember, but this time was different.

"You do not bother me, DanielJackson. Is there something on your mind?"

Daniel smiled ruefully and relaxed a fraction. "That obvious, am I?"

"Yes. Also, the fact that you are meant to be home, resting, further helped my suspicions." Teal'c's voice was dry as dust.

Daniel grinned. "I thought you only did the sarcasm thing with Jack."

"Indeed. However, distracting him is becoming increasingly difficult."

"Not as easy to annoy anymore?"

Teal'c sighed. "He is not."

"Tried Sam?"

"MajorCarter is sufficiently distracted already."

Daniel's smile of amusement slipped off, his worry breaking through. "Yeah, do we know what's up with that?"

Teal'c was quiet for a moment before answering. "I believe MajorCarter has received some disturbing information."

Daniel frowned. "Is she okay? What information? Is it her family?"

"It is not. However, I believe it is for MajorCarter to decide when she wants this information to be common knowledge."

Daniel smiled a bit at that. "Meaning, I'll have to snoop like you did to find out?"


"Fair enough."

Teal'c smiled slightly. "Now, of what did you wish to speak?"

"Oh yeah, that." He looked around the room, searching for inspiration. As his mouth blurted out: "Have you seen Jack?" seemingly on its own accord, he assumed none was found.

"I have not seen O'Neill since he left earlier today. He is perhaps home resting." The weight on 'he' was slight, but it was there.

Daniel raised his eyebrow and looked steadily at Teal'c.

"Or perhaps not," Teal'c conceded. "Your matter concerns O'Neill then?"

"Yes. I mean, no. Uh... see, I have this friend..."

"Is his name Daniel Jackson?"

Daniel looked at Teal'c, pasting a neutral and hopefully innocent expression on his face. "Uh... no."

Teal'c stared blankly back at him.

"Maybe. It's a very common name."


"Well, a friend of my friend…"

Teal'c frowned slightly. "Another friend of yours?"

"Um, no. My friend's friend."

"A friend you do not know."

"Right. Well, this friend-"

"Your friend?"

"No, my friend's friend." Maybe he should have named the other friend Jack, for simplicity's sake. That was a pretty common name as well.


"Yes, well, his ex is asking for them to get back together, and *my* friend is worried that *his* friend is going to leave." Daniel ran the last sentence through his head again to see if he'd gotten it right, and nodded to himself. Right.

"Would it not be easier if your friend spoke to his friend about this?"

Daniel's eyes slipped away from Teal'c's calm ones. "Maybe he's afraid of the answer."

"If so, why is he asking the question?"

"Because," Daniel said quietly, meeting Teal'c's eyes again, "he needs to know, but is afraid to ask."

"Perhaps," Teal'c's voice was equally soft, "the question is nothing to fear."

"How could it not be something to fear? It's his best friend."

Teal'c nodded. "Perhaps so. But if his friend's feelings are reciprocated, then he will most likely not leave."

"He can't know that for sure. The feelings between his friend and his friend's ex have never really died."

"Why is his concern of his friend going back to his former partner so great?"

"Because then his friend would leave."

"How so? Partnerships of the romantic kind do not, to my knowledge, hinder other relationships of friendship."

"Well…" Daniel stopped at that.

"Perhaps your friend is romantically inclined to his friend?"


"Then, your friend will have to ask the question."

Daniel blew out a gust of air. "Yeah. I think he knows that." He rubbed his neck absently, then looked at Teal'c who was regarding him patiently. "Thanks, Teal'c. I'm just gonna go and, uh, tell my friend this."

Teal'c inclined his head. "Very well. Tell him that he has yet to return the tape of Star Wars."

Daniel smiled. "Yeah, he'd forgotten about that. He'll get it for you tomorrow."



Next day it was considerably harder to get into the SGC. Already at the gate the guard in charge informed him that he'd gotten order to not let Dr. Jackson in unless "Dr. Jackson wanted his next medical check up to be his worst nightmare.". Fortunately for Daniel the guard in charge was Sergeant Combs, the same officer whose wife Daniel had thrown together a crash course in French for ("Honestly, Dr. Jackson, I hate to ask, but do you have any idea what a French tutor costs?").

He was let in under the promise to only be there for an hour, to do his *utmost* important errand, and then he'd stay away from base the entire week.

True to his word, he went straight to Sam's lab, carefully on a look out for Dr. Fraiser or the general.

The door to the lab was open, and he heard voices from inside. He slowed to a stop and listened.

"You didn't just come here to play with my "gizmos", did you?" There was affectionate amusement in Sam's voice that told who the other occupant of the room was, but there was something else in her voice as well, something that made Daniel frown.

"No, I didn't." Jack paused. "Hey, what's this?"

"That's the particle reactor I've been working on. I've been trying to make it less unstable."


"Think 'ka-boom'."

Silence. "You're kidding."


Daniel grinned and got a strange look from a passing airman.

"Okay, so I didn't just come to play with your gizmos." Some shuffling noises, as though space was being cleared and something being carefully put down. "Although it's a very good reason if you ask me."


"You gonna tell me what's wrong?"


"The disappearing act you've been pulling lately."

"I don't know-"

"Vanishing from base every time we have down-time."

"I'm here now, aren't I?"

"Yeah, but not all of us are."

Daniel leaned back against the concrete, absently noting its coldness. Jack had gotten to the heart of the matter. Not all of them were supposed to be on base, so only Teal'c and Sam, out of SG-1, were here.

Well. Sort of.

The silence inside the lab was broken by Jack. "Is it me?"

The slight hesitation before Sam's answered, "No." told Daniel enough. He knew Jack hadn't missed it either.

"Look, Carter, if there's something with Daniel, that's between the two of you, but if it's me…"

"It's not."


Daniel kept as still as possible.

"I'm just… adapting to some things."

"This isn't Star Trek, Carter. Adapting isn't necessary, telling me what I did to make you upset is."

"You haven't done anything, sir. I just have some things to think through."


"Really, sir, I'm fine."

Jack sighed. "You're about as fine as *I* am when I go around telling everyone I'm fine. When, in fact, I'm actually kinda not."

"You mean you're not fine now?"

"No, that's not what I..." Jack stopped abruptly before continuing. "...and stop changing the subject. As a matter of fact, I'm *not* fine because a good friend of mine is acting...freaky."


"I believe that's the technical term."

"Sir, really. I'm fine."

There was a long silence. Then, "Okay. You're fine."

"Yes, sir."

"If you don't wanna tell me, that's okay."


"Ack! You're fine. You don't have to tell me."


"Just this once. Just because I'm feeling gracious." Pause. "And because I hope we're good enough friends that you'll tell me when you're ready."

"I…" Sam sighed. "Emotional blackmail is low even for you."

"That's what you get for messing with the master."

"I'm gonna be fine."

"Gonna be, huh?" Jack's voice was soft. "Alright. But if you wanna talk-"

"-I know where to find you. I know."

"Right." There was another silence, one that was considerably less tense than the last one. Well. At least Daniel thought so. What did he know; he was just standing outside in the corridor trying to be one with the wall.

"So. Anything else kaboom-y in here?"

As Sam continued on Jack's easy banter, Daniel slipped away from the door opening.

Sam was acting weird because of Jack. That sounded familiar. Heck, even he'd been acting weird because of-

Daniel came to a full stop and a cynical voice in the back of his mind wondered if there'd be more airmen coming to stare at him. Sam had been acting strangely for a week, give or take. Jack had told Daniel about Sara a week ago.

Daniel had been around too long to believe in coincidences and he was suddenly sure of what it was that was bothering Sam.

She knew about Sara as well. And she was handling it about as well as Daniel was.

God, what a mess.


So, this was what complete and utter boredom felt like. He'd actually forgotten. The tediousness of watching the clock tick minutes away. The dullness of watching dust settle (even more). The dubious amusement of listening to cars passing his apartment.

The sad thing was that he shouldn't be bored. He had plenty of books in his bookshelf to go through, lots of texts that he'd snuck home that he could translate. But he just couldn't work up the energy. As dull as it was, it was just much easier to just sit in his favorite chair in the living room and watch time pass by.

Dear god. He'd turned into one of those women from a '50s movie. The ones that sat home, sighing wistfully as they wished that the big, butch hero would come and sweep them off their feet.

Jack would laugh his ass off if he knew.

He was considering whether or not to reach for the remote control to turn on the TV, when the phone rang.

Looking at it thoughtfully as it emitted that shrill sound he'd always hated, he considered letting the machine take it.

Then he decided that he really *didn't* want to be like one of those sighing women in a '50s movie, so he stood and went to answer the phone.


"Daniel, thank god."

It was Sam. Daniel frowned; she sounded upset. "Sam. Is everything okay?"

"No, everything is not okay. Daniel," she sounded pleading, "I need your help."

Daniel was already patting his pockets for his car keys when he remembered he wasn't allowed to drive. "What's wrong?"

"I… Could you come over here?"

"I'll be there in twenty-five, I just got to call a cab."

"Okay, but…" Suddenly there was a crashing noise and Daniel heard Sam yell, "Shit!"

Daniel's heart started beating triple-time. "Sam?"

The only answer he got was the long, monotone sound that told that the call had been interrupted.

He didn't even stop for his jacket as he ran out the door.


The trip to Sam's place seemed to take forever. With some financial encouragement, he'd convinced the driver to bend the speed limits a bit, but there were still other cars to take into consideration, not to mention traffic lights.

Of course, the first thing he noticed as he was sitting in the back of the cab, cursing every red light they came across, was that he'd forgotten his cell. No way to call for either Teal'c or Jack, no way at all to let anyone know that something was wrong.

Cursing himself now, he noticed with some amount of relief that the red light had turned to green and with some luck they might be at Sam's in five minutes.

The cabbie made it in four, and Daniel pressed a few extra dollar bills in his hand as the car stopped a few houses from Sam's. He suspected that discretion would definitely be the better part of valor this time, but there was no way he could make it to the front door unseen. Deciding that acting normal was probably the best approach, he walked up to the house marked #1025, trying to spot anything that looked out of place while trying not to look like he was doing just that.

The house was quiet and seemed absolutely normal, which didn't make him the slightest bit calmer. Not bothering to knock, he tried the door knob and let out a small breath he hadn't even been aware he was holding as the door opened easily. Step one complete.

He listened hard as he stepped into the hallway, quietly closing the door behind him and looking for any signs of an intruder. The kitchen was a mess; from the look of things, Sam hadn't cleaned up from lunch yet. Taking a couple of careful steps forward, he braced himself and looked into the living room.


Starting to feel a bit silly and wondering if he'd just had the biggest overreaction of the century, he considered calling for Sam when there was a loud crash, something hitting the floor with a lot of force, and then he was running.

The sound had come from the right and as he stopped in front of the stairs to the basement, unsure of whether to descend them or continue to the bedroom, when there was another noise: Sam yelping in pain.

It'd come from the bedroom.

The few feet left to it were gone in a couple of quick steps and without really thinking about it, he twisted sideways just before reaching it.

His shoulder and the bedroom door met with a resounding crash and the door gave up the fight easily. As one part of his brain was amazed that he a) had actually busted the door and b) had actually *busted* the *door*, another part of his brain had him rushing inside, finding Sam on her belly on the floor, reaching under the bed for something that looked like a…


As he entered, Sam rolled onto her back, looking at Daniel. She then turned her eyes to the doorway. Daniel turned and regarded it as well. The door looked decidedly worse for wear, especially the way it was hanging of its hinges.

Maybe he should have tried opening it the normal way, but damn it, he'd though there was an emergency.

Sam looked back at Daniel, her face a mix of amazement and annoyance. "Next time I'm calling Janet."


There was a lot of water, pretty much everywhere. There was also a lot of meowing, and quite a few scratch marks. At least it wasn't struggling as much anymore, just trying its claws on the nearest things moving.

"So, explain to me again just *why* you're cat sitting." Daniel flinched as the cat buried another claw into his hand while meowing indignantly.

"It has something to Mrs. Rowlands telling me how she doesn't want to be any trouble but it was so long since she saw her little boy - who, I think, is around forty-five now - and she hasn't been able to find anyone else, and would I perhaps consider it?"

"That makes sense," Daniel said, nodding in a way that only a man who'd carried groceries up the stairs for his 80-year-old neighbor for the last five years could.

"Of course," Sam said, deftly catching the cat as it tried to jump out of the tub, "she didn't mention that Spike would be the cat from hell."

Daniel looked down at his shirt. The cat may have failed to get out of the tub, but he'd drenched Daniel's shirt in water. He started unbuttoning it as he looked up at Sam. "She named her cat Spike?"

"I think it was her grandkid's idea. Although," Sam frowned, "she does get The WB."

Daniel pulled his shirt off and threw it towards the bathtub where it landed with a wet thud. "Well, look at the bright side. If we don't get the mud all out, it won't show that much in this dark fur."

"The cat is white."


They fell silent as they struggled to both hold the cat down and scrub it clean while trying not to lose too much blood in the process.

"I'm sorry about your door."

"That's okay. I'd been avoiding getting new hinges for it anyway. Now I've got a reason to do it."

Daniel made a face. "I'll pay."

"I still owe you for that old vase I accidentally crashed a year or so ago. Let's call it even." She looked at him curiously. "Why didn't you just try the handle?"

Daniel felt his face heat up. "Can I just blame the head injury?"

Sam stared at him.

Daniel stared back.

"Yeah, okay," Sam said.

They continued to wash the cat and Daniel noticed with some pleasure that the fur coat was actually going from dark brown to light brown.

Sam's hands stopped scrubbing and Daniel looked up only to find her staring at him. Or rather his chest. He frowned. "Sam?"

Sam sighed. "Daniel, why aren't the two of us together?"

Daniel froze and stared at her. "Excuse me?"

She continued as though not hearing him, absently pushing the cat's head under water, ignoring it as it resurfaced and hissed at her. "I mean, you're an attractive guy, I'm a reasonably attractive woman, we share common interests, you see what I'm getting at?"

"I..." He blinked. "Excuse me?"

"I mean, look at you." She gestured to his chest. "How can that not turn me on?"

He looked down on his chest. "I don't know. Why doesn't it?"

"I don't know!" She looked frustrated and grabbed a towel from behind her, effortlessly hoisting the cat out of the water and starting to dry it.

Daniel vaguely remembered that she used to have a cat. "Well... Um. There you go."

"If we had babies they'd have blue eyes you know," Sam said thoughtfully.

He blinked. "Okay, Sam, you're really starting to scare me."

"But you just don't do it for me, Daniel. I'm sorry," she said sympathetically.

Daniel frowned. "Are you on drugs?"

Sam rolled her eyes. "I'm just saying, it's a shame we're not attracted to each other." The statement was delivered with a shrug as she continued to dry the cat that was desperately trying not to purr.

Daniel sank into thought. "You don't find me attractive?"

Sam nodded. "No. I mean, I can see what someone else might see in you. But you just don't hit the happy spot for me."

Daniel shook his head and handed her another dry towel. "I think you're nuts."

She took the towel from him and threw the other to the floor. Daniel noticed that it had big brown spots on it. "Come on, think about it. Do you find me attractive?"

Daniel stared at her with a deer-in-the-headlights look. "Does one of my answers include you hurting me?"

Sam raised an eyebrow. "I might hurt you if you don't answer."

"Damned if you do, damned if you don't," Daniel muttered. He looked thoughtfully at her. "Well, you know, it's obvious that you're gorgeous."

Sam nodded encouragingly, scratching the cat under the ear as it'd given up the fight and started to purr. "But..."

"But you don't hit my happy spot either." He shrugged.

"See," Sam said warmly, "that wasn't so hard, now was it?"

"Is there a reason we're having this conversation, or am I just lying unconscious somewhere?"

"I'm just..." She frowned and looked down at the cat that was lying on top of the towel, blinking sleepily up at her. "I don't understand why some things are they way they are."

Daniel watched Sam closely. "The way they are?"

Sam sighed. "Yeah. The way they are. Me. Alone. Lots of dead boyfriends."

"It's not that many," Daniel said encouragingly.

"Three," she stated.

"That many? No, three's not... too bad."

"Three strikes and you're out, Daniel."

"I'm not really a basketball fan."


"That too."

Daniel awkwardly shuffled towards Sam on his knees and gave her a tight hug, carefully avoiding squishing the cat. "Any minute now, the right one, the one you deserve is going to turn up. And not die."

Sam laughed into Daniel's chest. Then she pulled away and looked at the naked flesh over the taut muscles. "See? Nuthin'."

"Really? Nothing? Not even a little of a thing?"

Sam thought about it. "I like your shoes."

Daniel looked down on his chest again. "That's...depressing."

Sam patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, Daniel. This way, you'll live longer."


Warm hands were skimming down his sides, and he pressed up against them. Hot breath on his face, a firm touch caressing his cheek, his mouth, his throat, moving down to his chest, his heart pounding. Pounding harder and harder, in an odd pattern, pounding so hard that-

Daniel's eyes shot open, only to be directed to the red lights of his alarm clock next to his bed. Okay, *way* too early. Who could it be at the door at this hour? Yawning and stumbling out of bed, trying to shake of the physical effects of the dream, he cursed as he stubbed his toe against the couch, and fumbled with the locks before opening the door.

Jack stood outside, shifting his weight from one leg to another, looking tired. He held his arm in a protective gesture which told Daniel that he hadn't been taking his pain medication properly.

Daniel tried to collect his thoughts. "Hey. What are…what are you doing here?"

Jack's head shot up, as if he hadn't heard the door open and he took Daniel's appearance in. "Hey, sorry, I didn't think you'd be asleep."

"Uh... It's 2am."

Jack looked at his watch. "Damn. It is. I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was that late."

"You okay?" Daniel studied Jack closely, noting the pallor of his cheeks.

"Yeah, I'm good. Just... been thinking. Can I come in?"

"Oh, sorry, yeah, come on in." Daniel stepped back and held the door open for Jack to pass.

"Thanks." Jack walked in and looked around before sitting down on the couch.

"Um...You want something to drink or...something?"

Jack grinned. "No, I'm good."

"Okay, so..." Daniel sat down at the couch as well and turned so he was facing Jack. "What's going on, Jack?"

"Ah, yes, the whole 'showing up at your door step at an ungodly hour' thing. Yeah, see, it's like this..." Jack stopped and closed his mouth. He took a deep breath and looked around the apartment. "Have you been redecorating the place?"

"Yeah, I've put up that mask I picked up at the farmer's market on P4X-174 a while back. You should remember it, you were there when I bought it."

Jack squinted. "Yeah, I remember that. Still looks quite... different."

Daniel looked at the mask as well. "It would, since I cleaned your grape juice off it."

"There you go. You should have left the grape juice."

"The purple didn't match."

"Well, it could hardly have made things worse."

They both sat silently regarding the mask for a few moments before Daniel looked at Jack again. "Did you come here just to insult my knick-knacks or...?

"Well, come to mention it..." Daniel looked at him steadily and Jack sighed. "I.... Remember our conversation about Sara?"

//Only too well.// "Yeah, something happened?"

"Yeah, you could say that." Jack shifted so that he was leaning against the back of the couch. "I told her that I didn't think us getting back together was a good idea."

"Well. Wow. That's quite a turn around."

"I guess," Jack said neutrally.

"You sounded pretty certain before." He *had* been sounding certain, damn it. He was changing his mind again?

"Yeah... I did, didn't I?" Jack rubbed a hand across his face.

This emotional roller coaster thing was really starting to feel old. "So, something change?"

"Nothing. Everything. God, listen to me," Jack gave him a crooked smile, "any more and I'll be ready to star in a romance novel."

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Well, you've already got the uniform."

Jack snorted in amusement at that. "Oh yeah."

"So… No happy ending?"

Jack looked down for a moment, then back up at Daniel, a determined expression on his face. "I don't know yet."

Daniel frowned. "What's going on, Jack?"

"You want to know why I'm here?"

"Among other things."

Jack looked at him in an intense way that made heat prickle down Daniel's spine. "Well, it's easy, really. I'm here because... Well. Ah, hell." Jack leaned forward and brushed his lips against Daniel's.

Daniel jerked back in shock and stared at Jack.

Jack swallowed hard. "Did I just fuck everything up?"

Daniel stared speechless and then slowly shook his head. Jack had just... He'd... He was... He....

"Look, it's okay, I... Just forget it, okay?"

"No!" Finally gaining control of his body again, Daniel lunged forward, grabbed Jack by the shirt, barely missing the arm sling and kissed him hard. Jack stiffened up but relaxed almost immediately, his hand moving up to gently cup the back of Daniel's head.

Jack was a good kisser. A *good* kisser. Why had Daniel waited so long to do this again? Oh yeah. Reality being the bastard it was.

Daniel pulled away, trying to catch his breath. "If this is a dream I'll never forgive Janet and her painkillers."

Jack laughed. "Well. I can hardly blame you for wondering, I *am* a dream come true."

"More like a drug induced hallucination."

Jack smiled at that, a different kind of smile than Daniel was used to seeing from him, and leaned towards Daniel again.

Daniel put a hand against his chest //-warm, firm chest… *Focus*.// "Okay, um, not that I'm complaining or anything, but... What brought this on?"

Jack sighed. "Can't we go back to necking?"

"Jack." Daniel looked at him and grinned at the puppy dog eyes. "Later. Just help me out here a bit first."

"Yes, of course, because you *know* what an introspective kind of guy I am."

"Do it fast. It'll hurt less, like pulling off a band aid."

Jack made that face, the face that said 'that's *funny*' when the person making the face really thought it wasn't. He then turned sober, which always made Daniel nervous, but he had to concede that this time he'd asked for it.

Jack didn't look at him, fingering the edge of his sling. He was quiet for a long time, and Daniel was about to give him another nudge when he said, "I thought she was what I wanted."

Quickly following Jack's line of thought, he asked, "But all of a sudden you changed your mind?"

"All of a sudden I realized that I wouldn't be able to keep working at the SGC if I went back to Sara. She wouldn't accept the top secret stuff, not again."

Okay. This wasn't exactly going in the direction Daniel was hoping for. "And since I will accept the top secret stuff you come here?"

"No. Yes. Partly."

Daniel laughed a bit, and he didn't care if it sounded bitter. "Well, good to know I'm a top priority here." He got up from the couch and turned away from Jack. "I think you should leave."

"Daniel." He could hear Jack get up from the couch as well.

"It's late and I'm tired." He felt like yelling, but yelling never solved anything. Cool was the key here.

Jack touched his arm. "I didn't mean it like that."

Daniel whirled around. "You're telling me you're willing to fuck me because I can handle the top secret stuff when Sara can't and you're telling me you didn't *mean* it like that?"

Okay, so much for cool and not yelling.

"No, I *didn't*!"

Well, at least he wasn't the only one.

"Then how *did* you mean it? Tell me how I'm *possibly* supposed to interpret that differently?!"

"I came here because I realized that going back to Sara would mean losing you, you asshole, and that was unacceptable! Okay?"

"Yes!" Daniel yelled, then grabbed hold of Jack's shirt and yanked him forward. Barely avoiding smacking his head into Jack's, he kissed him urgently, and if he'd thought it was good the first time? The first time was just a pale shadow, *this* was a *kiss*.

Daniel pulled away a bit, catching his breath, and he was sure he'd never felt anything so delicious as Jack's heavy breath against his face. "I hope this isn't some kind of mid-life crisis. I've wanted this for a long time, but I'm not going to be some convenient lay."

Jack snorted softly, sending another puff of air against Daniel's face. "Like you've ever been a convenient anything."

Daniel ignored him. "Tell me this isn't going to be a one off fuck and then tomorrow you'll go back to pretending you care about Sara."

"Fucking you does have a certain appeal," Jack said, carefully drawing his fingers through Daniel's hair, making Daniel's eyes close, "but I'd never do it at the cost of your feelings." With that he pushed Daniel back at arms length and kissed him on the cheek.

"And what happens tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow we go to work, I tell you bad jokes, you pretend to think they're funny, I tease Carter, then after work, dinner maybe, if it isn't too late, and then...." He faded off.

Daniel grinned. "Then?"

Jack smiled slyly. "You tell me. You're the anthropologist."

Daniel shrugged. "Monopoly?"

"That what they call it these days? I must be getting old."

"Not too old for...monopoly I hope."

"Well, it has been a while. I may have forgotten the rules."

"Don't worry, I'll show you the ropes."

"You have ropes?"

Daniel laughed. "No, that's really a personal preference, I could oblige you if you really insisted."

Jack smiled a smile that definitely caused interest in more than one part of Daniel. "Well… Who am I to hold off a new experience?" He leaned in to kiss Daniel. As Daniel leaned in to meet him, he accidentally pushed at Jack's arm, and with a hiss of pain Jack's head flew up, knocking into Daniel's sore one.

They drew back simultaneously, Jack holding his arm and Daniel carefully rubbing his head, which had started its pounding again. The stared at each other for a few seconds, and then started laughing.

"Some pair we make." Daniel grinned broadly at Jack.

"Yeah," Jack grinned back. Slowly his smile turned more seductive. "So, I don't suppose you're up for even the most basic things?"

Daniel felt his face go hot and his breathing quicken. "Well... We're supposed to take it easy."

"Uh huh." Jack closed in again.

"No strenuous exercises." Daniel couldn't help but add a wicked grin.

Jack started to laugh again, and Daniel couldn't help but notice how happy he looked, a mile away from how he'd looked when he first came to Daniel's door a short while ago.

"Oh, no, wouldn't dream of any strenuous exercise." He was now only a whisper from Daniel's face.

"Good. Just so you understand," Daniel said, closing his eyes, covering those warm lips with his own again. Carefully, without touching the sling, he tucked his hands in under Jack's shirt, reveling in the warm, smooth skin. Gently, he pressed Jack backwards until he was seated on the couch again, Daniel practically sitting across his lap.

Jack moaned and pressed closer, caressing Daniel's cheek with his good hand, letting it slide down his throat and to his chest.

Excitement burning in his veins, Daniel remembered the dream that had been interrupted and kissed Jack more fiercely. This was oh so much better than a dream...

Jack pulled his mouth away from Daniel's. "I could get used to this," he mumbled, nibbling at Daniel's earlobe.

Daniel sighed in what he suspected was a disgustingly content way, but he figured he could blame it on the drugs later. "Me too."

"So," Jack's mouth was back on his, "wanna take this to the bedroom?"

Daniel rocked against him, feeling like he was on fire, and they both moaned as Jack's hips moved up to meet his.

"I'm, uh, I'm kind of enjoying the couch right now."

"Me too," Jack agreed fervently, "screw the bedroom."

"No thanks," Daniel mumbled, before kissing Jack again, sliding up and down on his lap, imaging similar movements with less clothes, and he moaned.

It took him several seconds to realize that Jack was pushing at his chest. He pulled back with some effort, feeling lightheaded. "What?"

Jack was looking offended, in a debauched kind of way. "What kind of a guy do you think I am? I don't do it on the first date."

Daniel started laughing again, still catching his breath. Okay, so maybe emotional rollercoaster wasn't so bad. He couldn't remember laughing this much in years. "Lucky for you that we haven't been on a date then."

"Hmm," Jack looked thoughtful and then his mouth opened slightly as Daniel slipped a hand in between them.

"Of course, I could stop," he mumbled against Jack's lips.

"I wouldn't wanna be a party pooper," Jack mumbled back, eyes closed and hips matching the movement of Daniel's hand.

"I'd respect your wishes."

"Really, I don't wanna ruin your time."

Daniel tightened his hand on Jack and Jack surged upwards. "JE-sus, Daniel, take it EAsy, it's been a while."

Daniel was panting now. "Yeah, tell me about it." He fumbled with Jack's fly, and they both released a loud breath as it finally unstuck and was pulled down.

"Daniel," Jack almost whispered as Daniel's hand slid inside his briefs.

"I'm going to take such good care of you," Daniel whispered back.

Jack's chest was heaving with the effort of breathing and when his head fell back against the couch, Daniel suckled his neck hard. The mark would have at least five days to dissipate, after all.

"Stop it. Stop it stop it stop it," Jack muttered.

Daniel's hand stilled. "Jack?"

"Come on, let's get you outta these…" Jack cracked open an eye as his hands slid down Daniel's heaving sides, "pajama bottoms?"

"I was out of clean underwear," Daniel muttered defensively before Jack's hands were on his butt, before Jack's hands grabbed a hold of the edge of Daniel's pajamas and pulled them down.

The air was chilly on his bare skin before Jack grabbed his ass and pulled him close.

"This okay?" Jack said into Daniel's neck, nuzzling his face against Daniel's cheek.

"If you get any more okay than this, you'll kill me."


"Now shut up."

"Hey, you're the one who keeps talking."

Daniel started moving again, efficiently shutting Jack up, not counting that delicious moaning, of course.

It wasn't long before Daniel was beyond rational thinking, his entire world consisting on that push and glide, on Jack's harsh panting in his ear, as that ecstatic fire suddenly rushing through his body, starting at his toes and centering in his groin.

He pressed his face against Jack's neck and tried to muffle his groans as he came, shuddering violently.

Jack was bucking violently beneath him, seeming unheeding about his injured arm. Still shaking, Daniel squeezed his cock, intent on bringing him over the edge.

"Come on, now," he panted in Jack's ear, and that did it; Jack arched off the couch, splattering Daniel's chest and stomach with his come.

Daniel rested his head against Jack's good shoulder, almost ready to fall asleep where he sat. After a few minutes of calming breaths Jack said, "Well. Wow."

"Oh yeah."

"Ready to take it to the bedroom now?"

"What, you don't want me sleeping on top of you?"

"I most certainly do. I just want a bed beneath me."

"I think I can arrange that."

"Good. Because my butt has gone numb."

"You romantic, you."


Waking up with wrapped all around Jack was definitely going on top of Daniel's top ten list of things that should be done as often as possible. Well, okay, maybe not the top. There was definitely something else he wanted to put on top.

He was even enjoying the snores emanating from Jack, but really, how could he mind with that hard back pressed against his chest, those long legs tangled with his, and…

Okay, so he had it bad. Really bad. Bad as in beyond goofy, really.

And he didn't mind one bit.

He pressed his face against Jack's neck and smiled.

"Something funny?" Jack's voice was rough with sleep and Daniel was reminded that this was the guy who woke up at twigs breaking ten miles or so away from camp. It was amazing that he'd slept this long to begin with.

"Just musing over my general mushiness."

"Hmm." Jack carefully rolled over to his back, letting his sling covered arm rest on his stomach. He was still wearing his shirt and briefs, since neither of them had felt ready to tackle the challenge of getting the shirt off around that sling last night.


"I wasn't aware that you had a general mushiness." He rubbed a hand across his face and turned his head to look at Daniel in amusement.

"Not a lot of people do."

"I'm honored."

"Good." Daniel couldn't help it; he started smiling.

Jack smiled back. "What?"

"I guess I'm just a bit relieved."

Jack frowned slightly, still smiling. "About what?"

"That things haven't changed." At Jack's encouraging 'go on' look, he continued, "You know. Us."

Jack's eyes widened in exaggerated shock. "You saying that you thought I'd be nice to you?"

Daniel's smile grew wider and he leaned over and pressed his mouth to Jack's, sliding his tongue into Jack's mouth possessively. He was pleased to notice that Jack's face had grown flustered as he pulled back. "Breakfast?"

"Oh yeah," Jack said fervently before pushing Daniel on his back and sealing their mouths together.


The day that followed the night before continued to be remarkably… normal. Jack was his usual smart-ass self, perhaps a bit more caustic than usual before he relented and took his pain meds. He certainly didn't seem inclined to freak out about the whole situation.

At the moment, he was sitting in front of Daniel's TV, checking the NHL scores, and it was freaking *Daniel* out.

"What's the matter?" Jack's eyes didn't leave the TV screen.

Daniel frowned a bit defensively. "Why would something be the matter?"

"You're too quiet."

"You're watching TV."

"Never stopped you before."

Daniel had to concede to the point in that. "I'm just… waiting for things to go bad, I guess."

That got Jack's attention. He turned away from the TV and looked at Daniel. "Why would things go bad?"

"Because they normally do?"

Jack frowned. "That's a very pessimistic thing coming from you."

Daniel shrugged. "More like realistic."

Jack studied Daniel, looking thoughtful. "Well, tell you what. Why don't we enjoy things while they're good and then try to fix them if they turn bad?"

"You think things will be good?"

A smile spread over Jack's face, and he left the couch, walking over to the armchair Daniel was sitting in. "Oh, I *know* they'll be good." He placed his good hand next to Daniel's head and leaned over to nuzzle Daniel's ear.

"You're trying to distract me with the prospect of hot and sweaty sex," Daniel stated, releasing a sigh.

"Is it working?"

He pulled Jack down on top of him in the chair. "Hell, yes."


Daniel didn't know what had made him follow Jack the next day. Perhaps it was that anthropological intuition Jack had talked about for what seemed to be so long ago. Maybe it was the absent way Jack had been behaving ever since they'd woken up.

Maybe it was because Daniel was a nosy little bastard.

Either way, he wasn't particularly surprised when Jack's truck parked outside Sam's house. Jack had shown unusual restraint and had left Sam alone for three whole days. As far as Daniel knew, Sam was still "adapting", and he was as curious as Jack apparently was about how it had gone.

He hadn't quite figured out how he was going to... Well, he if he was honest, he guessed what he was planning to do was considered eaves dropping.

But he only did it out of love.

And maybe some curiosity.

So, how to proceed then? He was considering the odds of sneaking inside without being noticed when he noticed an open window. Oh, he couldn't be that lucky. Could he?

He walked closer, careful not to make any noise and to keep in the shadows, and smiled as voices drifted out to greet him.

"-know how it is, I was in the neighborhood, was thinking of maybe going bowling, and I figured that you'd probably be home at this hour and-"


"Okay, so maybe I came to see you. The possibility is there."

"The possibility?"

"Yeah. I'd say it's a rather big possibility, even."

"I see. And why is it a rather big possibility?"

"Oh, I dunno. Might have something to do with the fact that I *meant* to go here, but you know how it is. Traffic jams. Burger bars. As a matter of fact, it's quite amazing that I got here at all."

"Sir..." Daniel heard Sam sigh and sounds of pacing. "You know that's not what I meant. Why are you here? You shouldn't be here."

"Last time I checked, I'm still allowed to visit friends in my spare time."

"But you don't. You never visit me in your spare time."

"Of course I do! Like that time... that time... That time with the Orlando guy!"

"Number one, that was you *and* Teal'c. Number two, we both know it was only because you thought I might be crazy-"

"Hey, I never thought that!" Pause. "Not really."

Sam sighed. "Sir...why are you here?"

"Well... There's a great possibility that I might have been a bit... you know.... concerned about you."

"Only a possibility?" Sam sounded as though she was feigning hurt, but there was something in her tone that rang a little too close to being true.

"Hey. What's going on, Carter?"

Daniel could only agree with the concern in Jack's voice. Sam was a lot of things, but insecure?

"You asked that before."

"Yeah, and as I recall, you didn't gimme any real answers then either."

"I know I didn't, I just-" She sighed again. Daniel didn't like it, for some reason Sam sighing made him very nervous. "I needed time. You said you'd give it to me."

This time it was Jack who sighed. "Yeah. I know. But I'm sorry, I just can't stand by when you're obviously... When you're obviously having trouble with something."

Sam's voice was warm. "You can be really sweet sometimes."

There was a long pause, and Daniel could bet every penny he had that Jack was looking truly self-conscious at that moment.

Finally, Jack cleared his throat. "Yeah, well, don't let it get around."

"Too late," Sam sounded teasing, "I think most of us are on to you."

"Damn. Most of you?"

"Yeah. And you know Daniel. Nothing ever gets by him." Her voice quieted.

"What? What is it?"

"Nothing, it's...can I just blame it on hormones and make you all embarrassed so you'll go away?"

"Um... No. I'm on painkillers, I can take on most things right now."

Sam chuckled, then paused. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"I don't even know. Weird, isn't it?"

"Yeah, well, it might go un-weird if you talk about... whatever you don't know about."

Abruptly, "Are you happy?"

"I... suppose so. I mean, there are some shitty days. Generally Apophis is there on those days. Or Heru'ur. Well, you know... The point is... What brought this on?"

Sam ignored his question. "So you'd say that, as a whole, you're happy? With life. With the way things are headed?"

"Well. I'd be lying if I said that there weren't things I'd... change if I could, but... Yeah. I guess I am."

"That's good. That's good that you're happy. You should be."

"Carter." Now Jack sounded really worried. "Will you just tell me what's going on here?"

"I'm sorry, I just needed to...think about...things. And I have now."

"That doesn't make me any calmer here. You thinking has led to naquadah bombs."

Sam laughed. "I promise, no naquadah was used in the process of my thinking."

"So... you okay?"

"Yeah." She paused, and when she continued she sounded surprised. "I actually think I am."

Daniel couldn't resist any longer; he snuck a bit closer to the window, and ever so carefully looked in. Sam and Jack was standing next to the couch in Sam's living room, and at the moment, Jack was reaching forward and patting Sam's shoulder, a combination of bemusement and concern on his face. Sam looked... vulnerable. But also relieved. Daniel's eyebrows drew together. She did seem... Okay.

Jack squeezed her shoulder and then, awkwardly, put his arms around Sam and gave her the O'Neill special hug. Daniel had gotten it a few times, but as far as he knew, Sam hadn't. Regs being what they were, gossip being what it was, Jack rarely touched Sam at all.

Sam closed her eyes as her arms went around Jack's neck and looked... content.

Figuring that he'd been peeking long enough, and that that thing called privacy was something he might consider respecting, Daniel carefully backed away from the window, right into something huge and solid.

Slowly looking over his shoulder, Daniel met the calm eyes of Teal'c.

"What are you doing here?" Daniel whispered urgently, hoping that Sam and Jack were still preoccupied.

"The same thing you are, I suspect."

"I thought you were done with the spying thing."

Teal'c raised a single eyebrow. "I have never said such a thing."

"Well, I assumed…"

"That was your first mistake."

Daniel grinned and opened his mouth to say something when he heard Jack say, "Why don't I run and buy us something to eat, and you can tell me about your latest, undoubtedly fascinating, project."

"Actually, I haven't really been up to anything special, sir."

"Nothing at all?"


"Well… I'll guess we'll have to talk about things that aren't related with work."

"Like what?"

Pause. "I'll think on it."

Daniel looked around urgently for a place to hide, and Teal'c motioned to a bush where he'd apparently been standing before.

Jack exited the door with more energy than he'd entered it. Walking towards his car, he didn't turn around as he said: "Show's over, boys, go knock on Carter's door and I'll bring food for all of us."

Daniel frowned and looked over at Teal'c. "I was sure he didn't see us."

Sam's voice came from directly inside the window. "That was your first mistake."


"Daniel, there's a reason why the speedometer goes past 50." Jack sounded edgy and Daniel glanced over, noticing him tap his fingers impatiently against the glove compartment.

"What, besides you finding a reason to bitch about my driving?"

Jack's fingers stopped tapping. "Okay, so there are two reasons why the speedometer goes past 50."

"Look," Daniel didn't hide the annoyance in his voice, "if you wanna drive, go ahead."

"Actually -"

"Not a chance in hell." He turned right after seeing Teal'c's hand motion in the front mirror.

"But you said -"

"I know what I said. Let's call it temporary insanity."

"A wise precaution."

"Thanks, Teal'c. Left here?"


"Hey, quit it, no ganging up on me."

"Sorry, Jack." Daniel tried to keep a straight face, but it proved impossible after a glance at Jack's petulant face.

"That mean I can drive?"


"Aw, come *on*."

"Jack, my car: I drive. Your car-"

"Yeah yeah yeah."

"This is the place, DanielJackson."

Daniel parked the car and they all sat studying the building with the pink neon sign that said "Nemo's Karaoke Bar".


"Yes, O'Neill?"

"Are you sure this is such a good idea?"


Jack released a breath. "O-kay then. Let's go."

As they walked towards the entrance, Daniel spotted a sign next to the door that said Alcohol is optional, but highly recommended.

//Ooh, boy.//


Daniel and Jack were sitting in the back of the bar at a candle lit table. Jack winced a bit as one of the singers let out an over-enthusiastic cry that Daniel supposed was meant to be singing.

"Can I help you, gentlemen?" One of the waitresses was standing next to the table, a bored expression on her face as she was holding the tip of her pen against her notepad. Daniel noted with interest that she had a couple of earplugs in her ears.

Jack glanced questioningly over at Daniel, and Daniel gave him an 'order whatever you like' kind of gesture that was pleasantly interpreted in, "A pot of coffee will be fine," by Jack. The waitress nodded and walked off.

Daniel took a deep breath and smiled and Jack. It was all suddenly so weird. Was this a date? It had to be a date. They were at a table with candle-light. According to the rules, this was a date. Sure, going to a karaoke bar had been Teal'c's idea, and Teal'c had been with them until he'd left to go backstage, but other than that, it certainly felt like a date. Daniel didn't particularly feel like musing on what could possibly have urged Teal'c to want to visit a karaoke bar.

Looking at Jack who was looking at the stage with a less than interested expression, Daniel felt the sudden need to speak and the total absence of anything interesting to say.

"You think Teal'c was serious about carrying out the karaoke thing?"

"Who knows, Teal'c is one weird alien." Jack seemed to think about that for a while. "Well, compared to others. Although, there have been weirder aliens." He paused. "Actually, Teal'c's pretty non-weird in comparison to other aliens. I mean, it's not like he has tentacles. I guess he's just weird compared to us."

"I get the picture," Daniel said, feeling slightly horrified by what was happening to the evening.

"Thank you. That was getting painful," Jack said closing his eyes with embarrassment.

"I noticed," Daniel said with a chuckle and snagged the pretzel bowl, ignoring Jack's quirked eyebrow and putting one of the pretzels in his mouth. He saw Jack watching the pretzel go into his mouth and cleared his throat, suddenly inexplicably nervous.

They were back in the void. The scary place on a date where conversation came in drips and drabs and made you want to groan in pain.

//Say something. Say something.//

"You know that Capuchin monkeys share food even if their partner is behind a restraint? You never think of animals in that way really. I mean, birds bringing their young worms, monkeys sharing food... Pretty amazing if you think about-" Daniel realized that he was pretty much babbling, "-it..." He trailed off in embarrassment.

Jack was staring. He knew that stare. It was the stare you reserved for horrific accidents. It's frightening, but you can't look away.

"Er… that's… fascinating."

"Oh... Uh, well, it is... We take it for granted that animals are born with a very small sense of awareness. Just enough to survive, determine threats, unlike humans that can ask questions and find answers, and here you have these monkeys, possibly making the conscious decision that... I want to share something with you because... Well, because I like you. I just think it's... Well. Amazing."

//OH MY GOD! Kill me now. Kill me! I'm talking about monkeys. I don't deserve to live.//

Jack grinned. "Yeah, I guess it is pretty amazing."

Daniel stared in silence for a moment. Jack was smiling. Not like he was going to laugh at Daniel for being a geek. It was something else. Something warm. Something that made Daniel feel good.

"Um… Well… It's a shame really. Humans make all the mistakes and leave behind monuments to grand disasters and their own vanity, and meanwhile we could be completely missing something, something that can be taught by species we think are nowhere as intelligent as us."

The waitress' return interrupted him, and he stared at the coffee pot she brought with relish. Daniel snagged a cup, needing something to calm his nerves.

"Daniel," Jack drawled slowly as Daniel poured a cup.

Daniel tried to look normal as he put the pot down and met Jack's eyes. "Jack."

"How much do you like me?"

"Excuse me?"

"I said, how much do you like me?"

Okay, this was a turnabout in the conversation. Not that Daniel was complaining. "What do you mean how much? Like isn't quantifiable. It's not like how much... how much money you have or the amount of radiation in a room."

"Quantifiable? Okay, do you like me or this table more?" Jack knocked on the table with the knuckles of his good hand.

Daniel stared at him, trying not to look as if he thought Jack was an idiot. He had a feeling he wasn't succeeding.

"Well?" Jack looked expectant.

Daniel sighed. "The table's an inanimate object."

"Ah, so it is possible to like one thing more than another?"

"If one of them is a table and one's a person, yes." Daniel picked up a pretzel. "Say that, uh, say you have two dogs. Do you like one of them better than the other or do you like them both but differently?"

Jack sank into thought. "Depends. What kind of dogs are they?"

"What… kind? They're dogs. It doesn't matter what kind."

"Yes, it does," Jack said matter-of-factly as he sipped his coffee. "Is it a big dog or a little dog? Is it a mutt or a purebred? Is it smart?" He looked curious. "Can it do tricks?"

"Golden retrievers, Jack," Daniel said flatly, "they're both golden retrievers."

"Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Are they boys or girls?"

"They're... They're fixed, Jack."

"Okay, so I have these two emasculated golden retrievers. Where am I living?"

Daniel glared at Jack in exasperation. "What? Why? What difference does that make?"

"I just want to get the whole picture," Jack said innocently.

"You're in your cabin in Minnesota, you've retired, and you've got two emasculated golden retrievers that worship the ground you walk on. You have everything you ever wanted, everything is perfect, okay? Do you like one of the dogs more than the other?"

"I have *everything* I ever wanted?" Jack said in a lowered voice, his expression changing.

Daniel felt his breath catch at the softness in Jack's question. He nodded in response. "Yeah. Everything."

Jack reached for a pretzel, and grazed Daniel's hand. Pins and needles rushed through Daniel's hand and he made a fist.

"So, Daniel, how much do you like me?"

Daniel closed his eyes, smiled and shook his head before looking at Jack again. "You really want to know how much?" he asked softly.

Jack nodded with a smile.

Daniel pushed the bowl of pretzels over to Jack. Jack nodded with a smile and picked up a pretzel slowly, taking a bite.

Daniel turned mock serious. "Just don't ask for the coffee, I don't love you that much."

Jack's stared and Daniel froze. //Oh. Oh no. Stupidstupidstupid! That's just great, way to go.// Jack was still staring at him, and Daniel pushed his chair back, avoiding his eyes. "I… I'm sorry, I didn't-"

"Didn't mean that?"

Daniel looked into Jack's eyes, but he couldn't read them. Stupidstupidstupid. "Mean what?"

Jack just stared into Daniel's eyes for a while, then broke into a grin. "Well, even though the part about the Cappucino monkeys was interesting, that wasn't really the thing that caught my attention."

"It's capuchin. Cappucino is a coffee." Daniel's heart pounded, making him want to throw up.


Daniel slumped back in his chair and looked down his steaming coffee cup. He looked at the stage, where someone was now singing "I Will Survive". He was contemplating studying some of the stuff hanging on the walls when he heard Jack expel a loud breath.

"So, you said it. No biggie. I'm not gonna run away, you know." Daniel dared a glance at Jack who looked a bit hurt. "You really think I'd do that?"

Daniel sighed. "No. It's not that."

"Then what is it?"

"I just..." He rubbed his eyes tiredly.

"Remember what I told you before? About not hurting your feelings?"

Daniel nodded.

"Yeah, well, that still stands."

Daniel's eyes flew to Jack's, but he couldn't read the expression in them, Jack looked carefully neutral. Daniel suddenly smiled.

Jack looked at him for a moment, then returned his smile, the twinkle back in his eyes.

They both sat in silence for a while, listening to the current singer.


"Yes, Daniel?"

"How much do you like me?"

Jack slid the pretzels back across the table without hesitation. "On a scale of one to ten? I'd say eight."

"Eight? That's a B-. You gave me a B-."

"What? You never got a B before?"

"Actually, no."

"Not even one? Perfect 'A's all the way through? That's sick."

"Oh, I got plenty of failing marks in school. I just never expected a B- from you."

"Gotta keep you on your toes. Besides, you want some room for improvement, don't you?"

"Just admit it. The moment we get out of here, you're gonna run to some tree and carve 'Daniel loves Jack,' on it."

"No," Jack said slowly, "I *was* thinking of writing 'Jack loves Daniel' though."



"Oh. Wow. My best friend just told me he loves me and I think I may just start to hyperventilate and pass out under the table. Oh."

"Oh... Well... In that case... Except for the hyperventilating and passing out part, good." He paused. "Still wanna get under the table?"

This time when he started Daniel couldn't stop laughing. He knew people were probably staring at him, but that only made him laugh harder. He finally collected himself to look at Jack, who was looking at him with an expression of amusement and warmth.

Daniel picked up a pretzel and broke it in half. Smiling he passed it to Jack.

The End

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