AMICABLE ARRANGEMENT PART ONE BY BIBLIO


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Action/Adventure.  Established Relationship.  Hurt/Comfort. 
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.
Synopsis: We live, learn and love together.
Warnings: Violence.  Team Whumping.
Length: 223 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


Jack's smile was quietly satisfied as he opened the door for Daniel.

"Hey," he said softly, reaching out to snag a handful of Daniel's fine grey silk sweater and draw him into the house.  "I was starting to think you'd stood me up."  He backed into the house, turning to walk confidently around to his bedroom, leaving Daniel to lock the door behind him.

Daniel wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of chilled water.  Then he followed Jack along to the bedroom.  Jack was already barefoot and bare chested, waiting impatiently for him by the bedroom door.

"You look good," Jack admired Daniel as he shoved the bedroom door closed behind him.  He reached out to cup Daniel's jaw gently, still smiling.  "You always look good."

Daniel stretched up and kissed Jack, a soft, teasing brush of his lips.

Jack responded by pushing the heavy, plum-coloured silk jacket from Daniel's shoulders.  "You wear too many damn clothes," he complained.

"I thought I looked good?" Daniel queried gently, carefully refraining from commenting on the fact Jack had been wearing a grey T-shirt under his casual red plaid shirt when Daniel arrived, something which appeared to have escaped his colonel's erratic attention.  He thought Jack looked good.  The tight jeans made Jack's long legs look endless, accentuating his narrow hips and tight ass.  Daniel felt a shock of arousal, low in his belly.

Jack took Daniel's bottle of water, drank deep, then tossed it onto the bureau, his slow smile growing.  "You look better naked."

"You want to fuck," Daniel recognised the predatory gleam in Jack's heavy, prowling eyes.

"You mind?" Jack asked as he tugged Daniel's sweater up over his head, letting it pool on the floor with the jacket.  His hands were already busy unbuttoning Daniel's charcoal grey chinos, pushing them down around Daniel's hips along with his briefs.

Daniel gasped out loud, leaning in to rest his head on Jack's shoulder as Jack freed his cock and held it, Jack's callused trigger finger rubbing lazy circles along the big vein that ran on the underside.

Jack kissed Daniel's cheek as Daniel's cock swelled in his hand.  "I want you," he whispered, grazing greedy kisses over Daniel's cheekbone.

"Me too," Daniel admitted into the warm skin of Jack's shoulder, still feeling shy about their lovemaking.  Jack was the only man he'd been with.  He would never have believed that intercourse could feel so good, that he and Jack could be so intimate, so connected.  "I can't stay too long," he reminded Jack, obligingly arching his throat for soft kisses as he rocked his hips easily into Jack's certain touch.  "We have a mission."

"You can sleep with me," Jack countered, scowling, as Daniel made himself useful, unzipping Jack's jeans.  "Even if it is a school night."

"I can't.  You know I can't.  You don't let me," Daniel complained gently as he eased Jack's jeans down over his narrow hips, releasing an eager, slippery erection to jut demandingly against his belly.

"You're young," Jack smiled winningly, stepping lightly out of the jeans and backing towards the bed, leading Daniel by the cock.  "You need lots of sex."

"You're a pervert," Daniel argued, feeling the customary warmth spreading through his body.   There would be heat soon enough, but for now he was basking in Jack's affection.  "You get off watching me come."

"You moan.  It drives me crazy doing that to you, you know it does," Jack agreed, his smile deepening.  He cupped his hand over Daniel's nape, pulled him close then kissed him hard on the lips, plunging confidently into Daniel's mouth to stroke sleekly over his tongue.

They tumbled onto the bed, settling themselves side by side, kissing deeply.  Daniel hooked his leg over Jack's butt, hugging Jack close to him.  Their cocks ground together as they pushed unsubtly into one another.

Daniel's expectations of intercourse had been limited.  The guy on the bottom lay on his stomach and got fucked, the guy on top had a good time.  End of story.  How wrong he'd been.  "Remember the first time?" he murmured, struggling free of Jack's mouth for a few moments.  Jack's cock twitched against Daniel's belly, surprising a chuckle out of him.  "Jack!" he protested.

Jack pulled him back into the kiss, growing more passionate, more demanding, driving deep into Daniel's mouth with limber, rasping thrusts, stroking and squeezing.  Revelling in him.

Daniel still wasn't wholly accepting of the fervid way Jack would touch him when they were together, like Jack couldn't get enough of him, couldn’t have him close enough.  Sometimes Daniel thought Jack wanted to fuck him every time they slept together, though they were both more creative, more open than that.

Jack dropped his head to nuzzle restlessly at Daniel's throat and shoulders.  "I did you against the door in your apartment."

"Not the first time you made a pass at me," Daniel contradicted impatiently, sinking his teeth into Jack's broad shoulder, then licking it better, which made Jack shiver.

"Made a pass?" Jack asked incredulously, obviously recalling the incident in detail.  "I didn't make a pass.  We were arguing.  You lost it!"

"You lost it!" Daniel argued hotly.  "I still don't know how I ended up with my jeans round my ankles while you…"

"Rubbed suggestively against you?" Jack interrupted, laughing bawdily at the memory.  "Sticking my tongue down your throat was the only way to shut you up."

"It shut YOU up," Daniel snapped, dropping down to suckle pointedly at each of Jack's nipples in turn.  "You moan delightfully too," he observed complacently as Jack's cock twitched against his belly.  Jack's fathomless brown eyes were glazed, his strong, straight lips swollen and slick from the force of Daniel's kiss.

"You want to fuck like this?" Jack asked, his voice warm and low, sweet as honey.  "Face to face?"

Daniel nodded.  He hadn't even realised two men could fuck like this.  He'd learned the position from Jack.  He'd learned a lot.  He loved the slide of skin inside him and over him, Jack's heated pleasure, his weight and power driving him deeply into Daniel's body.  Jack would always lose control, he would always need more.  Daniel always wound up on his back, Jack jolting him up the bed.  He'd never felt more pleasure from sex, his whole body electric.  Part of it was he loved to see and feel Jack that way, red faced and sweating, focused and intense, his powerful muscles contracting and flexing beneath Daniel's greedy, groping hands.

"I do remember the first time," Jack admitted as Daniel rolled him onto his back to stroke and kiss his face.  "You were kind of naïve about this stuff.  Sweet."

Something in Jack's face, his eyes, told Daniel this was a good thing, maybe the best thing.  For Daniel the best thing had been Jack's gentle generosity.

"You know I've told you it's not an issue if you want to do me?" Jack murmured questioningly into Daniel's hair.

Daniel smiled to himself.  Jack liked to sniff and nose into the rumpled strands, his hands wandering back to pet and stroke again and again as they made love.  Jack also liked when Daniel did this, took Jack's tongue into his mouth to lick and suck on it.

With fingers outspread, Jack's big hands slid firmly down the length of Daniel's back to cup and knead his ass, pointedly suggesting Daniel get with the program here.

"It's not an issue for me either," Daniel responded easily, stretching up to nip at Jack's nose.  "Is it okay for me to like how we are for now?"

"More than okay," Jack agreed readily, cupping Daniel's face gently.  His kiss was warm and tender, slow sweetness.

Daniel really didn't have a problem with fucking Jack.  He was just - well - greedy.  When Jack was inside him, the immediacy and intensity of their connection moved him almost unbearably.  The world went away for Jack.  For Daniel too.  He would lose himself in Jack, his hands slipping on the sweat that pooled on Jack's broad back, the rough, capable hands holding his ass just so, holding him right where it felt good for Jack, good for them both.  Jack's eyes would be liquid with the force of his feelings, the pleasure he was taking and giving.  Maybe Jack was like this with Sara, with his other lovers.  Daniel didn't ask.  He was amazed and grateful Jack had found it in him.

He took tiny, nuzzling bites over Jack's jaw and throat, wriggling pleasurably against the finger stroking his ass, pushing down to open himself to the one broad finger nudging meaningfully at his anus.  Daniel chuckled.  "I bet you could get a girl's bra off one-handed too," he accused teasingly.

Jack beamed at him complacently.  "Manual dexterity is high on the list of useful skills for a pilot."

"Shut up," Daniel ordered roughly as Jack's finger rocked into him.  "Too much talking."  Hissing with pleasure as Jack stroked him, Daniel kissed Jack fiercely, thrusting aggressively into his mouth.  Jack's finger began to move in the same pulsing rhythm.  "More," Daniel demanded, plunging back into the kiss again.

Just as he always did when they were together, Jack opened up to him and let Daniel do whatever he wanted.  He did laugh a soft protest into Daniel's mouth as he was fiercely kissed, but a moment later he was pushing back as powerfully as Daniel was driving into him.  Jack got the upper - um - tongue in the kiss, purely because he was demonstrating his flawless manual dexterity in Daniel's ass, which was incredibly distracting.  Daniel gave in, pushing and writhing against two knowing fingers.

"More, Jack, I need more," Daniel demanded as sullen desire stabbed in his belly.  His cock was throbbing as he ground his hips against Jack, planting his foot on the mattress to keep Jack close.

They broke apart just enough to allow Daniel to take the lube from Jack.  He squeezed a generous amount into his shaking hand and stroked it onto Jack's cock, smiling involuntarily as Jack jerked greedily against his fingers.

"You okay like this?" Jack asked as he slid down the bed a few inches.

"I want to kiss," Daniel said clearly.

Jack licked his lips, smirking.  "I noticed."

Smug was a good look for Jack, but then Daniel thought everything was a good look for Jack.  They never really talked about this stuff, but Daniel thought Jack was gorgeous.  Jack showed his age in the laugh lines around his beautiful eyes, his distinguished grey hair, the lined throat.  The first hint of softness in his still enviably muscled belly.  Daniel admired every inch of Jack, who was so very real, and dear to him.  Jack was comfortable in his own skin in a way he wanted Daniel to share.  Daniel wasn't there yet, except when he was with Jack.  He was learning to see himself through Jack's eyes, to understand his value to Jack.  It was hard to be with someone whose every look and touch saw beauty in him and not be affected.

It took a little while to get themselves into position, with both of them on their sides, Daniel's legs hooked around Jack's back, his ankles comfortably crossed.  Jack tilted his pelvis up so he could penetrate Daniel; his thighs would be hot and chafing against Daniel's ass when Jack curled up.  They would make love slowly, tenderly, rocking easily together, touching, holding, kissing.

"Mmm," Daniel hummed anticipation when he felt the slick, snub touch of Jack's cock at his anus.

"Slut!" Jack accused, his eyes twinkling.

Daniel just had to kiss him.  Growling, he pounced, grabbing Jack's ears to steer him close, chewing on his straight lower lip.

Jack snorted with laughter, his body shaking.  "You're like a terrier puppy I once had, Jackson.  Adorable yet relentless."  He laughed again when Daniel wriggled his ass, fuck-me-already meaningfully.

Firm hands closed over Daniel's hips, holding him steadily as the snub touch became insistent pressure.  Daniel's head arched back involuntarily as his body fought the steady penetration.  Eyes closed, he reached up blindly to grasp Jack's shoulders, snatching quick, panting breaths as the head of Jack's cock pushed steadily inside him.  Daniel pushed down against Jack, both of them moaning out as Daniel's body opened and Jack sank into him.  Daniel moaned again as Jack rocked steadily, working his cock deeper until the heat of his balls rested velvet against Daniel's ass.

They lay still, arms around one another, flowing into a deep, passionate kiss, tongues pulsing rhythmically.  It was one of the necessities of intercourse, this quiet time to allow Daniel's body to adjust to Jack.  They fit exactly, every thrust would massage the tight channel, Daniel able to feel the heat and pulse of blood in Jack's cock.  The sensation of his body being filled and slightly helpless against Jack's vigour and strength was powerfully erotic.

Jack - went deep.  In every way.

"Fuck me," Daniel ordered, tightening his legs imperatively around Jack's back.  He found himself gazing into Jack's eyes, heavy-lidded and slumberous with desire.  Impulsively, he planted a soft kiss against each eyelid, then kissed Jack's forehead ceremoniously.  "Now, Jack."

This position was good for them both.  Jack was satisfyingly deep and they could rock and thrust easily.

Daniel gasped as Jack withdrew a little way then stroked into him.  "Mmmm," he sighed.  "I like that.  Do that."

"This?" Jack asked innocently, stroking deeply.

"That.  Deeper, though."

"Here?" Jack sought clarification, stroking into Daniel again.

Daniel arched pleasurably, pulling Jack into another kiss as he pushed subtly into the next thrust.  His body was rocked each time, his cock rubbing over the firm ridges of muscle on Jack's belly.  It felt good.  Jack went deep and stayed deep, rocking his hips, angling to find Daniel's prostate, rubbing sleekly over it.

"There!" Daniel gasped as he quivered, his fingers clenching hard into Jack's shoulders.  "Just there.  Again, Jack."

"You're God's own definition of assertive in bed, Jackson," Jack wryly told him.

Daniel smiled at him, stroking a gentle finger over the fascinating scar in Jack's eyebrow, tightening his legs instinctively as Jack's cock slid over his prostate again.  His whole body was tingling with shocks of pleasure, leaving him breathless and shaking.  "Harder, Jack," he ordered, licking Jack's Adam's apple.  "Please."

Jack made a reluctant noise.

"And slower," Daniel suggested a compromise, writhing sensuously.  "Actually…roll onto your back, please."

"Anything else?" Jack demanded, his lips quivering.  He rolled slowly, holding Daniel carefully.

Daniel smiled at him as he planted his palms flat on Jack's belly and rocked himself voluptuously.

"Christ," Jack groaned, a quiver running through the whole of his body, his hips arching convulsively.

Daniel rocked again, moaning as the hard, throbbing heat pulled the tight muscles inside him.  Jack gave Daniel what he wanted, obediently lifting his legs to plant his feet against the mattress, his thighs warm against Daniel's back.  Daniel took Jack's hands in his, kissing each palm.  Jack looked dazed as Daniel began to suckle on each finger in turn, Jack's thrusts getting harder, deeper.  "Fuck me, Jack. Fuck me hard," Daniel breathlessly ordered.

Jack sat up, kissing Daniel passionately as he writhed sensuously in Jack's lap.  They licked tongues, fighting over who would lead this kiss.  Daniel pulled back suddenly to look at Jack, his hand shaking as he stroked reverent fingers down Jack's temple, cheek and jaw.  Jack was red-faced and sweaty, panting as they fucked as hard and slow as Daniel wanted, Daniel's saliva glistening on his lips and chin.

Daniel's smile was from his heart.  He snatched Jack to him, thrust deep into his mouth, biting down on Jack's tongue as he clenched his ass muscles around Jack's cock.  Jack howled, toppling back, his head thrashing on the pillow as Daniel rode him.

It was good, it was so good.  Satisfyingly deep and slow, just as Daniel liked it.  His thighs were trembling, sweat pricking his skin, pooling deliciously on Jack's belly.  Daniel liked to watch Jack's muscles work as they fucked, his hands moving from tracing the ridges on Jack's belly to press firmly into his own, low, so he could feel Jack moving inside him.  Daniel reached out to rub Jack's nipples to aching hardness.

He cried out as Jack's hand closed over his cock and began to stroke him.  Pleasure shook through Daniel, panging sharp and low in his belly over and over, quickening, rippling through his body in tight waves of dizzying heat.  He rode it out, rode Jack for a long time, slowing Jack's hand on his cock, slowing his own rocking, wanting, needing, taking more.  Jack was shaking as much as Daniel, reaching out to take Daniel's hand, their fingers entwining, rubbing restlessly together over Daniel's flexing thigh.

Jack groaned wrenchingly as the continual contractions in Daniel's ass squeezed his cock again and again.  He was totally gone, gazing up at Daniel, his eyes black with the force of his passion, mouth working soundlessly, shoulders arching up from the bed as the pleasure took him.

Daniel's breath was labouring, sobbing in his throat as he ground himself against Jack's groin.  "Jack!" he pleaded.  Jack's grip on Daniel's hips was bruising as he thrust up wildly, his ass lifting from the bed to drive fierce stabs against Daniel's prostate.  Daniel saw white flashes before his eyes as his body tensed and shook, Jack fingers squeezed hard on Daniel's cock and Daniel came, clenching convulsively around Jack.

Heat exploded inside him, Jack's cock pulsing steadily as he shot his load.  Limbs leaden with satiation, Daniel lifted himself clear, Jack having to help him.  Daniel tumbled limply forward onto Jack's chest, kissing him in gentle gratitude, then snuggled into Jack's affectionate, encompassing embrace, his racing pulse gradually slowing, the sweat and semen sticky on his cooling body.  The sweet ache in his ass would stay with him for a long time.

"How long can you stay?" Jack asked after a while.

"Midnight, maybe," Daniel muttered, nuzzling at the sensitive hollow between Jack's throat and shoulder.  They'd cuddle for a while, shower, dress and eat.  Maybe watch some TV or talk.  Not about them.  Just - stuff.

They didn't need words.


"Sorentir."

"Daniel?" Jack hissed, his careful, diplomatic smile congealing.

"I don't know this language!" Daniel whispered back.  He turned back to the small alien woman who stood facing them.

The indigenous species of P4Y-790 was bipedal and humanoid, not tall, but also not fine boned.  The woman's white skin was mottled with soft touches of purple, as if her blood pooled close to the surface.  It seemed slick with moisture of some kind, possibly secreted.  Her hair was white too, bound around her head in a complicated array of fine braids.

At this distance, her eyes seemed wholly black to Daniel, her nose was - well, there was a reason Jack kept humming 'How much is that doggie in the window?' off-key and under his breath.  Her nose was definitely snub, the flesh delicately wrinkled, with nostrils Jack had with his usual sensitivity likened to jet intakes.

"Daniel," he said again, touching his fingertips to his chest.  "Daniel."

The woman quirked her head inquisitively, with quick, sharp, birdlike movements.  "Sorentir."

"Jesus, Daniel," Jack snapped.  "Her name is Sorentir.  After an hour of this, even I get that."

"Jack, I don't think so," Daniel quickly disagreed.

"Sir, I agree with Daniel," Sam said at once, shooting Daniel an uneasy look.  "Carter," she offered the woman, touching her free hand to her chest.

Daniel noticed Sam's grip was white knuckled on the butt of the P-90 slung from its customary harness around her shoulders and chest.  Sam's unease was making him edgy too.  Sam was wholly to be trusted to keep a cool head, even when Jack was losing his.  Especially then.  Daniel caught Sam's eyes, looking at her questioningly.  She shook her head, her lips thinning in obvious frustration.

"Aw, for cryin' out loud," Jack bitched.  "Teal'c!"  He smacked Teal'c in the chest.

"O'Neill," Teal'c promptly responded, smacking Jack back just that much harder.

Jack scowled at him.

"Daniel," the woman said.  She brought her hands together in front of her face like a child praying, touching the palms of each to her forehead, the slow, measured movements striking Daniel as being ritualistic.  "Errys."

Daniel took an eager step forward, only to find Sam muscling in front of him, her arm outflung to bar his way.  Her defensive posture was unmistakeable, close to threatening.

"Carter!" Jack snapped, stalking up to join them, trying to glare Sam down.

"Sam?" Daniel queried sotto voce, carefully watching Errys to gauge her reaction to this.  To his surprise, she was looking blandly 'through' Sam as if she wasn't there, focused wholly on Daniel.

As she had been all along, Daniel realised suddenly.

"Jack, say something to Errys," he instructed quietly.  Sam shot him a look, part approval, part apology, but she didn't lower her arm even with Jack glaring at her.

"Dial 5-5-5-F-R-E-Y-A," Jack said jovially to Errys.

Daniel and Sam both turned to look at him, their disapproving frowns identical.

"When Freya yanks your yo-yo, get back to me," Jack responded tartly to their unspoken criticism.  "Lighten up, willya?  It's not like she learned English since we got here.  This isn't 'Star Trek'."

"There's no evidence to prove she didn't learn English long before we got here," Daniel riposted, frowning.  He carefully avoided using Errys' name, hoping to avoid triggering her interest in their quiet conversation if she didn't speak English.  "We literally only have her words for that."

"Daniel," Errys repeated insistently.  "Sorentir."

"What's yanking your chain, Carter?" Jack asked more seriously, eyeing Errys in aggravated disbelief.  "Apart from the fact you-know-who is like a broken record?"

Sam shook her head, her eyes tight, tracking every move Errys made.  "I don't know.  I - she's dangerous, Sir.  I know it."

"How?" Jack demanded.  "Being a boring conversationalist isn't sufficient grounds for shooting her."

"I just know it!" Sam snapped.  She looked a quick, uncertain apology at Jack, turning impulsively to Daniel for help.

He stepped discreetly closer.

"I don't do this," Sam complained to him, low-voiced and pissy.  "I just - it's not me."

"All the more reason for us to take it seriously," Daniel blithely suggested, looking Jack right in the eye as he said it.  Behind Sam's back, Jack gave Daniel the finger.

"I concur," Teal'c interjected.

Daniel glanced behind them to see that Teal'c had moved position to keep a clear line of sight on Errys, who he realised was walking towards them, sniffing the air delicately.

Sam stiffened involuntarily, raising her P-90.

Jack's hands twitched towards his gun before he could stop himself.

Annoyed with himself for reaching for his pistol, Daniel gave Jack credit for not losing his temper with Sam, simply ordering her through clenched teeth to fall back.  She went, but she didn’t make it look easy or willing, backing away slowly, never taking her eyes from Errys.

"I don't know what the hell is going on," Jack told Daniel quietly.  "Errys isn't doing anything overtly hostile.  She isn't even armed.  But if Carter is this spooked…"  He looked wryly at Daniel.  "Carter doesn't do spooked."

"Teal'c?" Daniel called.  "Do you sense anything?"

"I am calm, DanielJackson."

"It's nothing to do with Jolinar, Daniel!" Sam snapped.  "This is…"  She tutted in frustration.  "Visceral is the best way to describe it."

"If you say ANYTHING about woman's intuition, she'll shoot YOU," Daniel warned Jack under his breath.

"I'm sensing that, yes," Jack agreed, glancing from one female to the other.

"What?" Daniel asked, his attention arrested.  "Sensing?"  He looked again at Errys, who walked right up to him, still sniffing the air.  No, not quite.  He realised she was sniffing him.  Errys wasn't intrusive, she didn't touch him in any way, but he still shifted uneasily from foot to foot.

Sam took that as permission to close in on Daniel.   Jack frowned at her but moved in also.

Daniel was too used to his friends reacting like this to fault them for it, even though he wished they could be more open-minded.    Their defensive postures came off too much like aggression, the one true universal language Daniel had found.  All that appeared to change was the nature of the response.  His friends were more disciplined than most of the races they met, unfortunately.

"We should leave this place, O'Neill," Teal'c announced, his voice stony.

Errys inhaled deeply, lifting her head to scent the air, turning to Jack instantly, moving so fast to stand in front of him he jumped, raising his gun instinctively.  He jerked back as she sniffed him.

"Okay!  This chick is weirding me out too," Jack barked.  "Let's chalk this one up to experience and head for the hills."  He jerked a thumb at the Stargate behind him.

"There's trinium in those hills," Daniel reminded Jack, looking meaningfully at the low mountains spreading out before them, purple and blue in the hazy light.

"That is what we came here for, Sir," Sam reluctantly concurred.

"Tahlen," Errys pronounced with calm satisfaction.  She held out her arms, her movements slow and graceful, the palm of each long fingered hand raised to Daniel and Jack, then she brought her arms together to cradle over her stomach.  "Daniel.  O'Neill.  Tahlen," she said significantly, looking knowingly from Jack to Daniel.

"Forget the trinium," Jack ordered sharply, visibly rattled as Sam processed this by-play, frowning.  "We're outta here."  His eyes met Daniel's briefly in warning.

It was no shock to Daniel that Jack didn't want anyone to know they were in a sexual relationship, especially their teammates.  Nothing about the situation was fair, but Daniel had made his choice from their first time together.  His first loyalty was to Jack.  There was too much going on for Sam to pry into what 'tahlen' meant, and he hoped it could as easily be interpreted as 'friends' instead of 'lovers'.

He was still startled that Errys could tell.  Daniel had showered with Jack last night at his place - admittedly they'd had slippery sex in the suds, with the water pounding down on them - but he'd showered again alone this morning at his loft to wake himself up.  There was no way Errys could smell Jack on him, even with what seemed to be her superior olfactory senses.

Was there?

"Daniel, O'Neill.  Sorentir."

"Fall back," Jack ordered his team flatly.  "This is a supposedly simple survey mission.  Let's not start a war here.  I'm not in the mood."

Obediently, Daniel turned to walk away, basically getting himself out of the way as he'd been endlessly drilled to do.  He was fascinated, disappointed and slightly spooked by the encounter.  It was rare they met a truly alien species, though the various human cultures they encountered were uniquely different from those of Earth.  The Goa'uld had seeded the galaxy thoroughly with their human slaves, and of course the Stargate network was designed to take them to worlds which supported…

"Carter!" Jack roared.

Daniel spun around, startled, drawing his pistol as he turned.  Sam was huddled on the ground, in the grip of some kind of seizure, her body jerking.  As Daniel ran forward to help her, Jack was raising his P-90, spitting harsh words at Errys.

"What the FUCK!" Jack hollered, purple with fury.  "Watch out!" he snarled as Daniel dropped to his knees beside Sam to check her pulse.  "We have a sniper!"

"I see nothing, O'Neill," Teal'c reported tersely.

Daniel rolled Sam into the recovery position and angled her head carefully to keep her airway clear.

"How is she?" Jack asked.  He was systematically scanning the horizon when Daniel glanced up.

"Alive.  Sam's pulse is weak and thready, she's having difficulty breathing, and she's unconscious.  There's nothing I can do for her here.  We need to get her to Janet ASAP." Daniel rapidly reported.  He wondered how much chance there was of that.  Jack didn't dare open fire on Errys now he knew they weren't alone.  There could be one man out there or a hundred, and there was no cover.

Errys tossed back her head and let out a loud, high-pitched ululating cry.

The tall, fragrant purple grasses before the Gate rippled as a small army silently stood up, each alien male  carrying some kind of chunky rifle.

"O'Neill," Teal'c barked.  "We are surrounded."

"No shit, Sherlock," Jack retorted bitterly.

"Sorentir, Daniel," Errys ordered with calm satisfaction, her dark eyes gleaming in the placid face.  "Sorentir."

There was no sound but the familiar spit of Teal'c's staff weapon.  Daniel saw the narrow, focused flare of light strike out from one of the weapons, then Jack was hurled back, his arms outflung as he thudded gracelessly to the ground, twitching and jerking as Sam had.  Daniel was scrabbling for his pistol when he was struck in the chest, tossed backwards, unable to breathe, to see…


Daniel's head swam sickeningly every time he tried to lift it, so he stayed where he was, curled up at Jack's side.  Sam was on her back an arm's length from him, still out cold, though Jack was stirring fretfully.

He managed to strain up a little, peering around to locate Teal'c.  His friend was a few yards away from them, seated in his accustomed stance for Kel'No'Reem.  Daniel's glasses were hanging from one ear.  He freed them, then slid them clumsily on.  The world wavered and reluctantly focused.  He could see that the skin on Teal'c's bare arms and face was marked with ugly purple welts.  Daniel looked anxiously at Jack, then at Sam, and found them unmarked.

"The aliens are venomous, DanielJackson," Teal'c said softly, opening his eyes.

"L-literally?" Daniel asked weakly, his voice parched and husky.

"Indeed.  The venom is secreted through their skin."

"How are you?"

"My symbiote begins to heal me," Teal'c said placidly.  "We are prisoners."  He rose elegantly to his feet and padded over to kneel at Daniel's side, carefully lifting him to a sitting position.  Teal'c sat behind Daniel, holding him comfortably.  "I regret that I must know your opinion of this place, DanielJackson," Teal'c murmured, a hint of apology in his voice.

Daniel wondered vaguely why they'd been stripped of not just their weapons and packs, but some of their uniform too.  Their feet were bare, their jackets missing.  790 wasn't a warm planet.  Daniel felt the chill in the air, biting at his bare skin from the floor.  The cold would make them sluggish, make it difficult to think and act.  When it got dark, they were in real danger of suffering from exposure.

He really felt like just laying his head down on Teal'c's shoulder and closing his eyes.  It hurt to breathe and his dizziness was making him bitterly sick.  The symbiote seemed affected too, stirring in its pouch behind him, soft, unpleasant touches against his back.  Daniel fought hard not to let his revulsion show, wishing as he always did that Jack would even make the attempt for Teal'c's sake.

"Daniel," Teal'c gently reminded him of his duty.

"Just - just give me a minute to process, okay?" Daniel asked.  Hazy natural light was slanting down on them from high above.  Blinking hard, Daniel looked up, then around.  They were in a small square chamber.  The walls were dark grey, almost black.  "This is a tower," Daniel said quietly.  "The walls are rising above us maybe three or four storeys.  I can't tell if the walls are stone or metal."  This was important.  The presence of metal walls and floors helped them to determine the level of technological advancement the team was facing.  Daniel leaned forward a little, trailing his fingers over the cold floor.  "Metal," he said slowly, gazing into the shadows.  "Taken with the weapons we saw, this level of sophisticated construction suggests their technology is in advance of our own."

"I concur," Teal'c responded.  "We are on a platform separated from the rest of the chamber.  I have been unable to determine how far down the chamber extends below our position."

"It was designed for this purpose," Daniel said thoughtfully, looking at the way the daylight artfully pooled around his teammates.  The windows were purposely high above them, specifically placed to illuminate the platform only.  Everything else was in shadow.  Daniel struggled up with Teal'c's support.  He winced, remembering he wasn't the only one hurt here, looking anxiously around.  "Your wounds?" he asked sharply.

"My injuries do not trouble me, DanielJackson," Teal'c serenely answered.

He meant they shouldn't trouble Daniel.  Daniel looked over his shoulder, shooting Teal'c a hard, reproving stare, which he ignored.  Surrendering an always unequal struggle, Daniel went on with his visual survey.  "There's a walkway there, skirting the walls.  I can just glimpse the edge here and there," he muttered, pointing vaguely.

As Daniel stared, the shadows dancing before his eyes then slowly coming into focus.  "No.  Perhaps an auditorium of sorts.  Just a single row of throne-like seats, not ornate, but imposing."  The architecture was featureless, as subtle as a fist.  "It's not encouraging," he admitted gloomily.  "Did you know Washington D.C. was deliberately designed to intimidate and humble visitors?"

"Yes," Teal'c replied unexpectedly, derailing Daniel's trail of thought.

"Christ.  He's still talking," Jack whined pitifully.  "Someone knock me out again."

"Happy to," Daniel hissed indignantly, choking down a very unprofessional wave of relief as his colonel stirred.  It continually pissed Daniel off that the soft-eyed man who'd lounge drowsily in bed with him, listening happily to any damn thing Daniel chose to chatter about, wouldn't let Daniel give him the time of day without calling him on it when they were on duty.  Knowing Jack, he probably did it on purpose.

Jack opened his eyes, rolled cautiously onto his side and scowled evilly at Daniel.  He seemed decidedly unenthusiastic about Daniel's intimate and at this point fairly interactive proximity to Teal'c, but clearly wasn't up to doing anything about it, though his dangerous eyes promised pleasurable retaliation at some unspecified point in the future, when Daniel least expected it.

Not that Daniel would deliberately annoy Jack or anything.  Uh-uh.  Not him.

"Carter?" Jack asked sharply.

Sam groaned piteously.  "Here.  Unfortunately."

"Allow me to assist you, Major Carter," Teal'c offered kindly.

"Thanks," Sam responded with real gratitude.

Daniel managed to keep himself upright as Teal'c freed him to go to Sam, then got ambitious, crawling over to Jack's side.  Jack's fingers touched his for a fleeting moment, his eyes soft and questioning.  Daniel managed a tiny, wavering smile.

In the next moment, Jack's face was stony.  His game face.

Behind them, Sam was retching distressingly.  Wincing sympathetically, Daniel swallowed the bitter saltiness flooding his own mouth again.

"Well?" Jack demanded, cringing as Sam puked her guts up over the edge of the platform, hanging limp from Teal'c's arms.  "Smaller body mass," Jack murmured to Daniel as he sat up, reeled and steadied himself, pushing away Daniel's instinctive helping hand.  "She was struck by the same charge we were from the weapons so it hit her harder."  He shook his head muzzily.  "I feel like crap," he complained.

"Me too," Daniel sighed.

"Me…" Sam panted, waving an eloquent hand, "three."  Shivering abjectly, Sam slumped against Teal'c, her head lolling on his supporting shoulder, her face pale and pinched.

"I do not know if we are prisoners or prey," Teal'c announced without preamble, gently cradling Sam.

They all glared at him, although Sam's glare was directed more or less up his nose.  Teal'c seemed quite pleased by the sensation he had caused.

"That is NOT helping!" Jack bitched.

"The aliens are venomous, O'Neill," Teal'c went on.  "I was unable to determine if this was a natural means of defence against predators or attackers, or an aggressive response.  However…"

"If they were armed, it might have another purpose altogether," Daniel interrupted excitedly.

"Do you ever listen to yourself?" Jack demanded incredulously.  "When the cannibals are stuffing Carter in the cook pot I'm sure it will comfort her to know you're utterly fascinated."

"They won't," Daniel corrected him absently.

"Won't what?"

"Stuff Sam in the cook pot.  Not if they're cannibals."

"What?" Jack asked blankly, frankly not looking up to dealing with any kind of conversational fracas.

"If the aliens eat us, that doesn't make them cannibals."  Daniel looked vaguely at his limp lover.  His lover looked apoplectic.  "It makes them carnivores.  If they were cannibals, they'd be eating each other," he explained hurriedly.

"Carter could be the dessert," Jack insisted stubbornly.

"But I doubt they'd eat us even if they are carnivores.  We're sentient beings.  Errys knows that.  We've communicated," Daniel went on hurriedly, correctly interpreting Sam's resentful silence as a none too subtle indicator he should change the subject with some rapidity.

"Communicated?" Jack hooted rudely.

"I think Teal'c's first suggestion is the correct one," Daniel went on, ignoring what he felt to be more deliberate provocation.

"I think the aliens are higher up the food chain we are," Jack argued.

"I think you should stop thinking," Daniel unkindly advised Jack.  "I also think we're going to be subjected to some kind of rite."

"If I may clarify," Jack said crisply, holding up a quelling finger.  "We're no longer on the menu, just heading up the list for ritual sacrifice at dawn?"

"There's no reason to think we'll be sacrificed, Jack," Daniel retorted impatiently.  "Ritually or otherwise."

"Apart from Errys and her army shooting the shit out of us and trying to fry Teal'c in his boots?" Jack asked witheringly, leaning past Daniel to nod pointedly at Teal'c.

"The chamber appears to have only one purpose, Jack.  It's for the leader…"

"Errys," Jack interrupted.  "I think that's fairly obvious."

Daniel nodded agreement.

"I have reached the same conclusion, O'Neill," Teal'c said quietly.

"Ditto," Sam added in a carefully neutral 'I'm not even THINKING I told you so even though I DID' voice.  When Daniel checked on her, she was staring at her bare toes like they could change the face of physics if only the little buggers would co-operate.

"Errys and her priests - generals - council of advisers - influential people certainly, can gather privately to observe what goes on here, on this dais," Daniel went on.  "It's the seating," he added, pointing out at the shadows surrounding them.  "I count ten - thrones, for want of a better descriptor, running parallel to us on two sides, and one much larger throne set alone behind us."  He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.  "Four straight ahead of us, then a gap, then another four."

"I believe that gap you speak of is the entrance to this place, though no one has entered in our time here," Teal'c informed them.  "It is difficult to determine the construction with the chamber shadowed in this way.  I agree with DanielJackson's judgement that we are dealing with a technologically sophisticated species.  The construction of this chamber is most impressive, fulfilling a number of different functions."

"What he said," Daniel smiled, looking warmly at Teal'c.

Jack made it to his feet, swaying.  "Any way off this thing?"

"There is not."

"Probably a retractable walk-way," Sam suggested, sounding a little stronger.  "There might be a mechanism we can trigger," she said optimistically as Teal'c helped her up.  "The sooner the better.  It's cold in here," she added, rubbing her bare arms.

"It was I who removed your jackets and footwear," Teal'c answered the unspoken question.  "I believe Errys was not pleased to see me damaged by the touch of her people.  She allowed me to tend to you.  Though I could not understand her words, her meaning was clear.  I bathed your feet."

Jack cleared his throat, apparently feeling the comment was directed at him.  "Sorry about that.  The laundry kinda piles up.  Things get on top of you."

Daniel, the 'thing' that usually got on top of Jack, naturally with Jack's wholehearted assistance, choked.  The odds of Jack trading sex for laundry were slim to none, unless they did it on the drier.  "Cleansing is a common precursor to a ritual or ceremony," Daniel observed in as steady a voice as he could manage.   As he was walking across the dais to join Jack, the wall ahead of them began to slide noiselessly up.

"Just keep thinking those happy thoughts, Daniel," Jack instructed him tartly, his mind apparently very much dwelling on ritual sacrifice.

The team assumed their customary defensive positions, Daniel tucked neatly behind Jack, Sam and Teal'c spreading out to flank them.  They stood alertly watching as alien men dressed in flowing iridescent white robes strode into the chamber, each turning to stand before a throne, the man behind him taking the throne next to his, filling each place in turn with impressive synchronisation.

Daniel was interested by this.  It was usual that rising societal status was reflected in the closer proximity members of each social strata were allowed to the leader.  From what little he'd been able to observe of them so far,  Errys' people seemed rigidly hierarchical to Daniel.

As far as the aliens themselves were concerned, Daniel could detect no discernible markings, dress or decoration to suggest a caste system, but couldn't rule it out at this stage.  He simply didn't have enough observational evidence to make valid assessments.  At first sight, there was no clear pattern of physiological differences - the aliens had differing facial features of course, none of them were tall, they were solidly muscled and shared identical eye and hair colouring, their skin mottled and slick.

Errys was the last to enter the chamber, the door sliding closed behind her.  She too robes, though hers were finer, of many layers and natural shades of cream, floating around her legs as she moved.  She stepped confidently out into thin air, a walk-way gliding out before her to span the chasm that surrounded the dais the team was imprisoned on.

"Damn," Sam muttered, craning her head to try to see where the walk-way had sprung from.  "It must be operated by sensors."  Her tone suggested this made it useless to them.

Daniel caught Jack and Teal'c exchanging a quick look.  He knew Jack's body language better than he knew his own.  Jack was uneasy at Errys' calm assurance, seeming unsure if she was a direct threat or a potential hostage.

"She burned you just touching you?" Jack asked Teal'c, who inclined his head.  Jack's lips thinned.  "Won't be easy," he whispered.

"I am with you," Teal'c promised.

"So are we," Sam interjected sharply.

"Daniel," Errys greeted him as she stepped onto the dais.  The walk-way instantly retracted, gliding back.

"Oh, I don't like this," Sam said tightly, shifting nervously from foot to foot.

"If the next word out of that bitch's mouth is 'sorentir' so help me!" Jack grumbled an aside to Daniel.  "Carter," he warned, low-voiced.  "Hold your position." Daniel turned, startled, to see Sam moving forward, her eyes intent on Errys.

"We haven't seen another female, Sam.  It's possible Errys is the only one," Daniel said rapidly, trying to distract her, not wanting this to escalate as it had back at the Stargate.  He literally had to get in Sam's face, taking her shoulders to hold her back, stepping with her as she sidled impatiently to get past him.

"She sees me as a threat, you mean?" Sam asked, still glaring over Daniel's shoulder.  "That doesn't explain my reaction to her," she said dismissively.

"Errys' body secretes chemicals," Daniel suggested urgently, taking Sam's shoulders, forcing her to focus on him.  "We can see the secretions glistening on her skin.  Perhaps one of those chemicals is affecting you."

Sam looked at him then, frowning consideringly.

Daniel recalled Errys scenting the air.  "What's the least developed sense humans possess?"

"Smell," Sam answered instantly.  "Studies have shown - oh.  Oh!  Pheromones," she recalled triumphantly, her face clearing.

"Exactly!" Daniel said excitedly.  "Do you remember Janet telling us about VMOs - vomeronasal organs?"

"Some scientist - I can't recall the name - thought he'd discovered vomeronasal sacs in humans," Sam answered.  "Janet was pretty excited about it," she recalled fondly.

"The olfactory system is wired into the hypothalamus," Daniel went on.

"Which governs sexual and maternal behaviour!  That's where the aggression is coming from," Sam realised, nodding at him with brisk approval, her quick mind already analysing.

"Can we FOCUS here?" Jack demanded in a sarcastic aside to them.

When Daniel glanced around, Jack was planted solidly in Errys' way, Teal'c circling gently around behind her.  "Ja-ack," Daniel warned, aware of the relaxed regard of their interested observers.

Errys MOVED, flowing backwards at blinding speed to launch herself spinning into the air, her foot lashing out to strike Teal'c solidly in the head.  He was thrown backwards, landing limply at the edge of the platform.  He didn't move.

"Teal'c!" Jack roared.  "Stay where you are!" he barked as Sam and Daniel ran forward to help.  They froze in their tracks, Sam moving protectively in front of Daniel.  "I guess we know why Errys is the Alpha Bitch round these parts," he acknowledged grimly.  "Me!  You talk to me.  O'Neill.  You get that?" he raged at Errys, low-voiced and deadly.

Errys stood before Jack, the many layers of her robes still whispering to stillness around her legs.  She quirked her head in that 'listening' stance that seemed her signature, then she moved again, dancing past Jack to kick his legs out from under him as her arm slammed into his chest.  He landed jarringly on his back, his head striking the floor with a sickening thud.

"Jack!" Daniel yelled, trying to get past Sam.  Errys was coming, coming fast.  She easily evaded Sam's punch, lashing out in a punch of her own that landed on Sam's solar plexus.  Sam folded up, dropping to her knees, then falling forward onto her face, wheezing desperately.  She curled up into a ball, scrabbling to get back up.  Errys grabbed a good handful of Sam's short hair and dragged her brutally across the floor to fling her down at Jack's side.

Sam tried to make it up again as Daniel ran forward.  Errys made no hostile move towards him as he roughly shoved past her.  She seemed slightly amused by his anxiety, walking easily behind him as he crouched between Sam and Jack, a hand resting on each of them.  Jack was unconscious, Sam huddling into a defensive ball, her knees lifting jerkily as she fought to get past her pain, to get to her feet, her eyes huge, frightened and determined.

Errys stooped gracefully.  She pointed first at Jack, then at Sam.  "Sorentir, Daniel."  Errys mirrored Daniel's pose, one hand poised over the face of each of his friends.  "Sorentir."

Daniel's heart was beating fast.  The ugly burns on Teal'c's skin had come from one of Errys' people.  She was asking him to choose which of his friends to hurt, to torture.  It was impossible, there was no way he could choose between - Choose!  Of course!  How stupid of him! Daniel imperatively rose up on his knees.  "I choose myself!  Sorentir."  He smacked both hands to his chest.  "Sorentir Daniel!" he demanded.

Errys bowed her head in gratified acknowledgment of teaching the stupid human a new trick, then she lightly touched her fingers to his cheek.

Daniel cried out in agony, falling back on his ass in shock as his skin scorched and blistered instantly.  He sprawled between his friends, gaping up in sick disbelief at Errys' sleek, purring pleasure at his pain, her little murmur of appreciation echoed among the watchers.

"Choose," Errys softly tried the word.  "Sorentir…" she nodded at him.  "Choose."

"Choose what?" Daniel gasped out.  He leaned back instinctively as Errys moved closer.  He thought for a moment she was going to kiss him, but she halted just short of him, inhaling deeply, sniffing delicately at his face.  Daniel fought to hold still as he felt her warm breath gust over his skin.  Despite his determination to show nothing, he flinched when she licked delicately over the wound on his cheek, lapping him like a cat.  Choked with revulsion, Daniel looked deep into her sloe black eyes.  "Sorentir?" he questioned.

"Vestae," Errys answered readily, pointing at each of his friends in turn.  "Im'da vestae rohan."  She lifted her head and pointed at the doorway.  Daniel glanced behind him to see the chamber door had been opened once again.

"You could be asking me to choose which of them to set free," Daniel reluctantly acknowledged the symbolism of the open door to their prison.  "Or which of them to send to their deaths."  He took a deep, calming breath.

"Daniel, no!" Sam ordered shakily.  "Don't choose, don't give her what she wants."

"Sorentir Daniel," he said steadily.  With no reason to trust Errys, what other choice could he make?  The consequences of his choices had to fall on him, not on his friends.

"Nah," Errys retorted, her eyes caressingly indulgent.  She breathed Daniel in again, inhaling ecstatically  "Nah, Daniel."  Errys rose smoothly to her feet.  "Tu vay mir na sante, tu do'este amente se frene nen.  Sorentir," she warned him before walking calmly away.

"Jesus," Jack grumbled weakly, finally admitting to consciousness, roughly scrubbing both hands through his hair.  Daniel turned to him at once, helping him to sit, painfully slowly, glad just to feel Jack's solid warmth against him.  "That bitch has a kick like a mule."  Jack scowled at Daniel, failing to hide his relief at finding him and Sam okay.  "We're in this mess because you smell good?" he asked challengingly, his strong tone sounding forced to Daniel's sensitive ears.

"From what little we've observed, I'd argue that Errys' species appears to have highly developed olfactory senses, Sir," Sam reported wearily.  "Daniel's scent could be exciting her sexually…"

"Unless they stock full body condoms round these parts, you'll be chargrilled," Jack informed Daniel unpleasantly.

"Thanks!" Daniel retorted resentfully.

"Maternally…" Sam looked doubtfully at the blistering welt on Daniel's cheek and let that supposition go.  She tutted in frustration, frowning up at Daniel.  "I wish we knew more about their physiology."

"Me too."  Daniel patted Sam's knee consolingly, then scrambled to his feet and went to check on Teal'c, realising with a shock that their audience was still present, still watching, their robes reflecting the light while their faces were shadowed in darkness.  The intimidation was silent and surely intentional.  Daniel was wise enough to admit he was afraid.   "Um - guys?" he called, making sure everyone knew they were under observation.

"Im'da vestae rohan," Errys ordered in measured tones, gracefully gesturing at the open doorway as she ascended the steps to take her bleak throne.  "Sorentir, Daniel."

"I have no idea what that means!" Daniel huffed in supreme frustration.  He had nothing to work with!

"Forget about her," Jack ordered impatiently.  "Just go check on Teal'c."

Teal'c rolled onto his knees as Daniel drew level with him.  He accepted Daniel's assistance to rise to his feet, inclining his head in thanks.  "You are injured, DanielJackson," he observed, his eyes hardening.

"And you lied about your wounds being okay," Daniel retorted.  "This burn hurts like hell."

"It is of no importance."  Teal'c looked warningly at Daniel, then behind him to their friends, each busily surveying their audience and the chamber they were imprisoned in.  "We will not speak of it."

They walked with great dignity back over to Sam and Jack, neither of whom seemed up to moving around much.  Teal'c knelt solicitously at Sam's side, returning her grateful smile as he helped her to sit.  Sam was deathly pale but up, more or less alert, plainly hurting and rubbing her stomach continuously.

Daniel helped Jack up again, alarmed that he hadn't been able to stay upright without Daniel there to support him, and very conscious that Jack was taking the burn on his cheek personally, his brown eyes flinty.  He hated that Jack actually leaned on him, knowing Jack felt strongly how dangerous it was for prisoners to show weakness.  Daniel hid his worry as best he could, bracing himself to take Jack's weight as Jack slumped pathetically against him.  "Is this a tactical slump?" he whispered anxiously, still hoping.

"I wish," Jack groaned.  He patted the back of his head, his hand coming away wet with blood.  "I'm making it look worse than it is," he added unconvincingly as Daniel's fingers fumbled agitatedly in his hair in search of the wound.

"We're in a lot of trouble," Sam observed quietly, glancing edgily at the invitingly open door.

Daniel took advantage of Jack's bluff - which was apparently that he was bluffing - to hug him supportively, something Jack apparently felt lent much needed credence to his ruse.  Daniel belatedly remembered the thump in the chest Jack had received, apologetically loosened his grip, whispering something disjointed about ribs.  Jack's sudden snort of stifled laughter Daniel took as permission to hug the shit out of his exasperating colonel.

"Tahlen," Errys observed with great satisfaction.  A knowing murmur ran through the appreciative audience in the shadows.

A familiar heat warmed Daniel's cheeks.  Jack simply stared stoically at nothing, particularly at nothing Sam or Teal'c shaped.

"Is there anything about this - ritual - you find familiar, Daniel?" Sam asked hopefully.  Her beautiful eyes were clouded with pain, lips tight.

"Honestly?"

"Oh." Sam deflated, sighing.

"What are our options?" Jack asked.

Daniel decided that comment was directed at him and answered for everyone.  "It seems I can't choose myself for whatever 'vestae' is, Errys made that clear.  'Im'da vestae rohan', to be precise.  Our choices are pretty limited, Jack.  I can refuse to choose.  I can choose one of you.  Errys could let that one go.  Errys could kill that one," Daniel rapidly marked each untenable option off on his fingers.  "Regardless, I'm stuck here translating new and exciting ways to possibly kill each of you."  He glanced at Errys on her throne, still watching his every move.  "Actually, I think I'm stuck here full stop," he confessed miserably.  "Errys won't deign to communicate with anyone else."

"There was sniffing," Jack observed in a cool, distant voice, his shoulders tensing against Daniel's chest.

"Licking," Sam supplied helpfully.  "Errys' interest in Daniel is probably sexual," she suggested tactlessly.  "It's nothing personal, Daniel," she added comfortingly.  "Stimuli from the environment are converted into electrochemical nerve impulses, which as you know are the language of the brain.  Your body is simply emitting a chemical Errys is reacting powerfully to, a chemical we," she gestured at her teammates, "aren't even aware of, exerting an attraction we don't share."

"Speak for yourself," Jack muttered under his breath so quietly only Daniel caught it.  "So Dog Breath is one quivering mass of uncontrollable hormonal lust?" Jack's voice was deceptively casual, his eyes, dwelling on Errys lounging on her throne, anything but.

"Perhaps DanielJackson is a narcotic, not an aphrodisiac?" Teal'c offered, entering into the obnoxiously pessimistic spirit of things.

Daniel Jackson was fighting a losing battle against a blush like a sunset.  Amazingly he had enough panic to share between imminent death and imminent outing if survival was actually an option, which seemed unlikely at this point.  He would be the first to admit it was a teensy bit selfish to prefer option A.  He'd been dead before.  He could deal with that.

This though…Daniel was morbidly conscious that cuddling his colonel was certainly not helping his case for strictly platonic connotations to be attached to 'tahlen' by his teammates.  Even so, he couldn't bring himself to let go of the annoyingly smug and slightly dented bastard lounging fetchingly in his arms, ready to tilt at windmills in his own unique, aggravating and currently non-ambulatory way.

For once in his life, Daniel was praying Sam didn't think outside the box.

Daniel honestly had no idea how he would feel if Sam and Teal'c knew he and Jack were having sex, if they knew Jack had fucked him.  Knew how much he enjoyed being fucked.  He couldn't deal with it; it was too freaky.  Daniel had never expected to tumble into bed with Jack, hadn't even seen Jack coming until they were humping wildly against his apartment door, their trousers round their ankles.

Sanity had returned when Jack had happily suggested a sleepover.  Accepting the unexpected gift Jack had given him, Daniel had promised himself he would be mature and realistic.  He would never compromise Jack, never damage his reputation.  It had to be that way for Jack's sake.  It was hard to be pragmatic, to be careful and considerate, to be content with what little time they could snatch together, especially when Jack went out of his way to make it hard on Daniel.

Jack was fucking Daniel, but the Air Force was his life.  No question.

Stifling an ache of accustomed regret, Daniel yanked himself back to more immediate problems than his still-budding sexuality.  "How about if I choose all of you?" he hesitantly suggested.

"What?" Jack snarled, surging up to glare at him.  "Forget it!"

"But…" Daniel protested.

"I said forget it!"

"I'm not leaving you!" Sam snapped.

"Nor will I, DanielJackson," Teal'c coldly rebuked him.

"It presents you with the best option for escape and survival," Daniel said, blinking hard against a rush of affection for his stubborn, infuriatingly over-protective friends.  "I can take a little sniffing until you guys come back with the Marines."  Daniel sensed almost immediately he was alone in judging what he could take His friends weren't buying.

"I doubt I could make it out of here under my own steam if a snake was crawling up my ass," Jack announced defiantly.

Daniel hugged Jack harder, making him squawk a wheezing protest as his ribs creaked.

"Me either," Sam insisted staunchly, hugging her stomach and rocking a little for effect.

"Teal'c could carry you," Jack suggested to Sam, far from idly.

"I could not," Teal'c responded blandly. "My wounds are causing me great pain and Major Carter is heavy."  He ignored Daniel's outraged look, choosing instead to respond to Major Carter's.

"We all go or we all stay," Jack announced with flat, frankly quixotic finality.

"I think you're letting emotion cloud your judgement," Daniel argued, very aware of the irony here.

"I beg your pardon?" his team leader responded icily.  "Three of us are wounded, we have no idea where we are…" Jack looked questioningly at Teal'c, who nodded agreement with this statement.  "How far it is to the gate, or if these guys want us on the a la carter menu.  We have no weapons, no compass, no rations, no water, no socks and no frigging idea what the hell is going on.  If we 'vestae' our asses out of here, the odds are extremely high we'll die whimpering from exposure three hundred yards from whatever hellhole the bitch lets us crawl out of."

"That was very convincing," Daniel informed his lover and his sagely nodding 'what the colonel said' teammates.  "Especially as you all know perfectly well the only way the rest of us get out of here is if one of us takes a calculated risk, walks out the door and makes a break for it."

"Makes a break for - crap!  The bitch is back."

No one said anything.  Daniel simply helped Jack to his feet while Teal'c helped Sam.  They stood with their arms around one another, proudly staring down Errys as she strolled onto the dais, with the slow confidence of the powerful.

"Im'da vestae rohan," Errys insisted, gesturing again at the door.  "Sorentir, Daniel."

"We all go or we all stay.  We're probably dead, either way," Jack said tightly.

"Thanks for the pep talk."

"Just choose us, Daniel," Sam urged.  "Choose all of us."

"We'll see which way the cards fall."

"I concur."

"Can you stand?" Daniel whispered to Jack.

"Only if I have to," Jack said grimly.  He looked at Daniel, his face drawn beneath the tan.  "Wasn't kidding about the tail spin the walls are doing."

"You have to," Daniel told him gently, squeezing his waist.  "I need to try something."  Jack stepped away from him, head held high.  He was swaying perceptibly.  Sam shuffled across and got her shoulder against his back, Teal'c's supporting arm still at her waist.  "I wish I had something to write with," Daniel fretted.

Jack reached behind his head, scrubbing his hands over his hair, then held out his cupped palms to Daniel.  "I can't manage the Gettysburg Address, but scalp wounds always bleed like goddamn bastards."

Daniel's mouth fell open.  Feeling sick to his stomach, he inched reluctantly forward, dipped his trembling fingers into Jack's blood and knelt down to draw the Stargate on the floor.  A simple circle, with five stick figures beneath it.  "Errys," he called.  She walked over and stood before him.  "Stargate."  Daniel's finger traced his circle in the air.  He pointed at each stick figure in turn.  "Daniel."  He tapped the floor, indicating a particular figure.  "O'Neill."

Understanding at once, Errys stooped to tap the floor where a single isolated figure stood.  "Errys."

Daniel nodded.  "Stargate," he said meaningfully, tracing its shape again.  "Stargate."

Errys was staring at him, a good deal of comprehension in her eyes.

"Stargate," Daniel prompted, politely insistent.

Errys traced the circle of the gate in the air exactly as Daniel had.  "Rohan," she said approvingly.

The stupid human had learned a new trick.  Daniel, a veteran of airplane impressions for uncomprehending aliens and unsatisfactory conversations with canines, a stranger to embarrassment, glanced behind him.  "Jack?"

"Rohan is the Stargate, gotcha.  Figure out what 'vestae' means and we're cooking with gas."

The greatest difficulty in communicating was never with the concrete.  Anything Daniel or an alien could point to, they could find a word for and share understanding.  Abstract concepts were the killer.  There were simply no cultural reference points to share.  He would have to start slow and build up, and with their lives on the line, be sure.

"Human," he said slowly, significantly.

"Houman," Errys repeated, frowning.

"Good."  Daniel made an encouraging face, though he'd noted Errys and her people seemed to have few facial expressions.  "Daniel is human male."  He pointed to himself.  Then he stood up and pointed to Jack.  "Human male."

"Human female," Sam said swiftly.

"Jaffa male," Teal'c went on, inclining his head.

"Houman male," Errys repeated slowly.  She pointed to herself.  "D'ahin to'ai."  Her hand flashed out to cup his face caressingly.  "To'hin."

Daniel reared back in shock, clapping his hand to his face, his friends crying out angrily, surging forward.  "I'm okay!" he called urgently, snatching his hand away to reveal unmarked skin.

"Vestae," Errys said smugly.

"Daniel!" Jack asked sharply.

"Vestae is mercy, I think," Daniel answered.  He turned impulsively to Teal'c.  "You know what this means, don't you?" he said bitterly.

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed stonily.  "Errys and her people chose deliberately to inflict these wounds, concealing their control of the secretions from me."

"Sorentir," Errys shrugged elegantly, her voice light and humorous, eyes filled with bright malice.

"Kel mar sha'lokma'kor, Errys.  Kel'cha," Teal'c promised.

Daniel bit his lip, pulling a face at Sam and Jack.  "Jaffa revenge thing," he muttered.

"Get in line!" Sam whispered indignantly to Teal'c.

"Im'da vestae Rohan," Daniel repeated slowly, frowning.

"Does that mean Errys is willing to let us all go but you?" Sam queried suspiciously.

"Oh, I don't think so."  Daniel needed to understand the last part of the phrase, which most likely meant something simple, such as 'go to' or 'take'.  'Take' was a concept he could illustrate.  He took his glasses off.
"Im'da?" he asked.

Errys frowned.

He put his glasses on, then took Errys' hand in his.  "Im'da?"

A susurration of shock ran through the watchers.  Daniel guessed he'd broken a cultural taboo.

Errys' fingers tightened in his.  She reached up and stroked his hair, enjoying the way he flinched back from her.  "Im'da Daniel."

"Im'da is take," Daniel reported, trying not to react to Errys' gloating touch.  "Take the mercy of the gate."

"Mercy?" Sam asked, puzzled.

"Think about it, Carter," Jack said savagely.

"DanielJackson is being asked to choose which of us receives a quick death in the activating event horizon, Major Carter," Teal'c explained.

"She's going to kill everyone but Daniel?" Sam sounded as if she couldn't quite believe it.

Errys patted Daniel's cheek insultingly, her eyes glinting as he flinched reflexively, absolutely furious with himself for doing so, for making his fear of her so obvious.

Shivering from reaction more than the cold, Daniel hugged himself tightly as she turned on her heel and walked away, her disdain for them evident.  "I wouldn't say that either."  All he knew for sure was that the only option not open to him was a quick death.

"Why?" Sam asked, bewildered.  "Why would she do this to people who mean her no harm?"

"Because she can, Carter."

On to Part Two

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