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
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
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
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
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
"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-"
"...you 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
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
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
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
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.
"...so 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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"Nothing," Daniel said casually, "just thought I'd join you in your
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,
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."
"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
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
"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."
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
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.
"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
"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-"
"-make sure she's in no real trouble-"
"Fine," Jack snapped, "spy on her."
"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 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
"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
"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
"Still don't know?"
"Does it *look* that way?" Jack snapped.
"Hey, just asking," Daniel defended with an 'I surrender' hand gesture.
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,
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
"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
He tried stalling. "The other night?"
"Even if you were too drunk to remember, I think the hangover was
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."
"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?"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
"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
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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
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,
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
"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
"Yes, more! Mmm…" He leaned into Jack's touch, his surroundings disappearing,
the only thing mattering the exquisite fire spreading from Jack's
"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
"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.
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
"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?
"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.
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
She looked up at him and smiled, handing him a full cup of coffee.
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.
"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
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
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
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,
"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
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
And with his marvelous sense of timing, that was when the earth started
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
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.
"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
"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
"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
"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 regarded Sam solemnly. "Are you certain, MajorCarter?"
"Oh yeah. Your skeptical expression is quite a leap from your other
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?"
"Well, fear not, your Colonel has come to the rescue." He reached
into the bag and brought up a box, which smelled suspiciously like
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
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..." 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
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
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.
"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
"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
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
"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
Daniel smiled ruefully and relaxed a fraction. "That obvious, am
"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."
"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?"
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.
"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-"
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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."
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…"
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
"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."
"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
"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
"-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
"Daniel, thank god."
It was Sam. Daniel frowned; she sounded upset. "Sam. Is everything
"No, everything is not okay. Daniel," she sounded pleading, "I need
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
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
"So, explain to me again just *why* you're cat sitting." Daniel
flinched as the cat buried another claw into his hand while meowing
"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
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
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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."
"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."
"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
"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
"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
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
"Okay, so maybe I came to see you. The possibility is there."
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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
Sam laughed. "I promise, no naquadah was used in the process of my
"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...
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
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
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
Sam's voice came from directly inside the window. "That was your
"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."
"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".
"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.
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
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
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
"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
"How much do you like 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
"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 mean that?"
Daniel looked into Jack's eyes, but he couldn't read them. Stupidstupidstupid.
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?"
"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.
"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?"
"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,
"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
"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.