winced and caught Hammond’s eye. It was time to put an end to all
this useless speculation. He glanced at Carter’s flushed
face. More than time. “Carter.”
patted Sam’s arm gently. “You WILL live it down Sam.
Everyone who knows you respects you…they’ll know you’re ONLY sleeping
with Jack for the sake of the mission. It won’t be held against
face softened at Daniel’s evident desire to comfort her. He was
completely wrong of course, but she couldn’t resist the kind sentiment
behind the words. She reached up and squeezed his hand for a
moment. Nobody on base would imagine, for a second, that it was
just sleeping. More like droit de seigneur. Goddamn boy’s club…
belatedly picked up on the edge in the colonel’s voice and the look on
his face. She stiffened and returned the look with one of her
own. Maybe Daniel’s assessment had been a little less than
complimentary to the colonel but still, he’d only had the best of
intentions towards HER.
O’Neill and I have already discussed the matter at length, Major, " the
general’s voice broke in. "I’ve made a TACTICAL decision on the
disposition of the team for this mission. Teal’c has confirmed
that my decision is the best one for the, er, situation you’ll have to
wondered what the hell was going on. She hadn’t missed that
slight stress on ‘tactical’. Why, exactly, had she and Daniel
been excluded from these discussions? It was a clear breach of
protocol, all the more surprising because the general not only knew
about it, but clearly condoned it. Sam stiffened.
and the general exchanged eloquent glances. Carter was suspicious
and getting just a little pissy. Daniel was obviously bewildered
by these undercurrents. He’d never come to grips with the whole
chain of command thing. Jack sighed. This wasn’t going to
be pretty. A Goa’uld pleasure palace. Oy! Goddamn
Tok'ra, he thought bitterly.
Jackson?” Hammond ‘s face softened a little as it always did when he
spoke to Daniel, and his tone was soothing.
dragged his attention away from the obvious tension radiating from Jack
and Sam. “General?”
O’Neill and I have decided that Major Carter can’t be tied to the
colonel’s side. She needs to be able to roam the palace as freely
as possible in order to locate the double agent who is selling the list
of Tok'ra operatives. She is the only one apart from Teal’c who
can sense the presence of a Goa’uld, and the only one with Jolinar’s
memories of the Tok'ra to draw on. Major Carter has the best
chance of identifying the Tok'ra traitor. She can’t do that
unless she takes on the persona of the colonel’s Factor.”
had to agree that made sense. It would give Sam the opportunity
to run lots of ‘errands’ around the palace on Jack’s behalf and good
reasons to be in places a paying guest wouldn’t be found. He gave
a little nod to signify his understanding.
froze. She shot the colonel a hard look and saw him smirk. She knew
EXACTLY where this was going. This was worse. Far
worse. Daniel obviously didn’t have a clue. Poor
Daniel. Sam sighed. He hadn’t lived down the Spacemonkey
episode yet and it had been two and a half years. It was her turn
to pat his arm sympathetically. She reached out to Daniel without
taking her eyes from the Colonel. If he took advantage of this
he’d have HER to deal with. She waited with calm certainty for
the boom to lower on their hapless archaeologist.
was having a little difficulty with this but Jack wasn’t about to touch
it with a ten foot pole. This was why Hammond was paid the big
decided that it’s best if YOU play the part of Colonel O’Neill’s…”
Hammond searched for the right word “…er… paramour.”
watched this sink in.
stiffened a little at the sheer horror in Daniel’s voice and on
Daniel’s face. Hey! Watch it there big guy! Is the
thought of being with me so disgusting…? Jack realised he was a
wandering a little off-topic here, and made a conscious effort to rein
in his ego. Time for the team leader to smooth things
over. “Not like we haven’t shared a tent before, Daniel,”
he said jovially.
isn’t a tent!” Daniel contradicted him indignantly.
Jack was starting to enjoy himself. It had been a long time since
he’d seen Daniel so off-balance. The Daniel of recent months was
far more assured and independent than Jack could cope with at
times. It was like Daniel had grown up all of a sudden and cut
himself loose before Jack had even known it was coming. It wasn't
that he wanted Daniel all vulnerable and dependent and leaning on
him…not that way at all. He just thought maybe this new Daniel
was a little TOO sure of himself at times. It was nice to know he
could still scratch the surface and shake hands with the old Daniel.
Daniel was stuttering now. “You…you…wa…want me to share
a…a…BED? With JACK? I’ll never live it down.”
happily nailed him. “It’s only for the sake of the mission Daniel," he
parroted. "Everyone who knows you respects you. You will
live it down. I on the other hand…”
quiet interjection held just enough warning to freeze the rest of the
comment on Jack’s lips. He settled for what he hoped was an
unsettling smirk in Daniel’s direction. He had damn good reasons
for arranging things this way - sound tactical reasons - but still, he
could NOT resist the prospect of squiring an inhibited and occasionally
shy archaeologist around a Goa’uld pleasure palace for a few
days. Especially one who would have to bite back every sarcastic
comment and waspish aside for the sake of the mission. He could
have a lot of fun in public with a meek, co-operative, submissive
Daniel. Enough fun to off-set the fact that Daniel would make him
pay and pay and pay for it when they got back.
caught the smug look on the colonel’s face and felt her heart
sink. Damn him and his off-the-wall sense of humour anyway.
Daniel was in for it. She kept up a steady comforting pressure on
Daniel’s arm. They were a heartbeat away from the classic ‘Daniel
in distress’ self-hugging, something they rarely saw these days.
It pained Sam to see it now. She made a firm mental resolve to
take the colonel down a peg or three when the mission was over,
whatever it took.
plaintive question was answered by several people at once, but Hammond
silenced them with a firm glance.
needed to help translate the data device that the Tok'ra traitor is
using, so Major Carter can determine if any copying or transfer of the
operatives list has occurred before she destroys it," the general said
soothingly. "And I needn’t remind you this is an excellent
opportunity for US to get a clearer tactical picture of Tok'ra
espionage activities. We’ve been caught out by their hidden
agendas before. Your role is vital to the success of the
mission. I’m sure you can rely on Colonel O’Neill’s discretion
not to make this situation any more uncomfortable for you than it has
squirmed a little at that. “Daniel, it can’t be Carter and it
can’t be Teal’c, he’s our designated Jaffa bodyguard for this
gig. It has to be someone I know well enough, and who knows me
well enough, to make the charade convincing to anyone who’s watching,
and by process of elimination, that means you.”
have you really thought this through?” Daniel tried to keep an
even, reasonable tone. “Do you really want this going down in a
mission report, going on public record? That Colonel Jack O’Neill
had to sleep with Dr Daniel Jackson on P3X-232?”
knew that Jack had a lot of baggage from a long and often unpleasant
career. He hated the thought of this being something else Jack
would have to live down. He thought about people like
Kinsey and Maybourne salivating over a report like that and felt
he was being honest, Daniel wasn’t only concerned about the damage to
Jack’s reputation. He had earned his place on SG-1 and he didn’t
want anybody thinking there was no smoke without fire and concluding
maybe he was on the team purely for Jack’s personal pleasure.
Like he was some kind of catamite.
believe me, I’ve done worse things.”
waited in vain for Jack to mention specifics. “Well…er…Jack, what
about being convincing?” he asked desperately.
why you’re it, Daniel. We’ve been friends long enough not to have
to work on making it look good.” Jack realised that might not
have come out quite the way he meant it when he saw Daniel’s eyes
widen. “I mean, we’re used to being around each other, we’re
comfortable with each other. We get along fine.”
always, Jack," Daniel argued vehemently. "Some days I can’t
string together three sentences without you losing interest and
interrupting, we’ve never managed yet to disagree quietly on anything,
even in public, and we’re both sarcastic and stubborn. We just
know each other and our faults far too well.”
an old married couple?” Jack’s voice dripped sarcasm.
scowled across the table. “And in Jack’s case, you can add
condescending,” he said pointedly.
matched him glare for glare.
juvenile," Daniel couldn’t resist adding, smiling sweetly at Jack. “I
mean…even if we COULD last three days without just being…ourselves…,"
he went on, "EVEN then I don’t think anyone who didn’t know us would
believe I could ever go for Jack.”
had seen for himself that to people who didn’t know Jack at all he
could come off as a mouthy hard-ass, downright arrogant. If you
got on his wrong side, he was a bad enemy to make. Nobody ever
saw through his defences the way Daniel did, and very few people saw
the way he reigned back his instincts and training and gave his team
room to work when they needed him to trust them. Trust his
COMMAND? You just had to trust Jack.
didn’t think Jack would ever be convincing as a guy who just wanted to
have fun, not when he was in a room full of Goa’uld; they brought out
all his worst character traits. No. No way. “People
just wouldn’t believe it.”
also couldn’t get his mind off the appalling consequences of having to
share a bed with Jack. It was impossible. The moment his
guard went down he’d be cuddled up to Jack like he used to cuddle up to
Sha’uri. He couldn’t help it if he was asleep. There would
be too much material for Jack to work with; he would tease Daniel
mercilessly. Forever. “He’s too…he’s so…he’s…” Daniel
stiffened. “What? He’s…so…what? Exactly?” he drawled
in a silky voice, glaring at Daniel.
realised that his distraction had led him to be tactless in the
extreme. Since the only coherent image he had in his mind right
then was one of him sprawled decadently all over Jack in a bed, he
tightened his lips and refused to answer what he considered to be a
very loaded question.
was aching to point out forcefully that plenty of people in the SGC
believed he and Daniel were together right now. Their being an
item was more or less the majority opinion. He’d never let what
the gossips thought bother him, and anybody who actually dared to say
anything would have him to deal with, so it had never been allowed to
bother Daniel either. He was obligated to protect Daniel from it
even now, when it would have done Daniel the world of good to get a
little reality check, because…dammit …because the gossip was all his
fault. He’d been so thrilled to see Daniel still alive he’d just
rushed in where colonels feared to tread and he SHOULD have known
better than to think the whole Space Monkey thing would never come back
and bite him on the ass. Plus the fact the two of them were
virtually joined at the hip on and off world. And he was a
tactile kind of guy, more show than tell, and it was easier to hug
Daniel, or whatever, than it was to have to say how he felt about him
at any given time, or to have to watch the guy hug himself. It
was an unbreakable habit now. It wasn’t Daniel’s fault all that
put Jack into the VERY exclusive and highly visible circle of people
with the key to Daniel’s personal space. It just gave the gossips
all the ammunition they needed. Since he had to keep his yap shut
on this one, he settled for just sitting there, simmering.
intervention died unspoken as Teal’c entered the fray unexpectedly, and
with all of his usual gravitas. “It is O’Neill’s contention that
you are in fact eminently doable, Daniel Jackson. In that respect
the subterfuge would be acceptable. In fact…”
technician at the corner computer console had abandoned any pretence of
working. Everyone waited in the paralysed silence for Teal’c to
knew Teal’c very well. A quirk of his eyebrow told them just how
much he was enjoying the breathless hush. He went on serenely,
smiling gently at Daniel. “I would contend that O’Neill’s
apparent ability to secure the affections of one such as yourself would
make him an object of envy and will indeed greatly enhance his status
within the closed environs of the pleasure palace.” A brief,
measured pause. “However, I do concede that it is less clear what
YOU would see in O’Neill.”
choked gasp from the corner console allowed Jack to vent his slightly
irrational fury on a safer target than Teal’c. A scorching look
made the technician subside into a semblance of professionalism as he
hunkered down and started to type furiously, Jack’s eyes following him
all the way.
quelled an urge to giggle and gave Teal’c a quick approving grin.
As put downs went, that one was sheer perfection. She
watched her affronted C.O. with barely concealed glee.
Daniel’s tone could have etched glass. Friends? BEST friends for
over three years now and the only adjective Jack could find for him was
doable? As in ‘It’s Saturday night at O’Malley’s, I’m hammered,
got this itch I need scratching, there’s nobody better on offer so I
guess Daniel looks doable. Hey, I won’t enjoy it but I’ll do it
anyway, any port in a storm!’ And even that STILL wasn’t enough
to get that image of him and Jack in a bed rooted out of his
mind. Daniel ground his teeth.
winced. That was a TAD out of context. “I only discussed
that in a TACTICAL way, Daniel, just within the context of this
curl of Daniel’s lip told them all that this wasn’t nearly enough to
get Jack off the hook. Not nearly enough.
decided that Daniel had had enough bad news to contend with for one
briefing and dismissed them. “Colonel O’Neill, I suggest that you
and Dr Jackson take some time to define the parameters of what will be
acceptable behaviour for the duration of this mission.” As they
all stood, he glanced at Daniel’s stormy face and gave in to an
irresistible impulse. “And you can explain to Dr Jackson your
reasoning for disposing the team in this way.”
crap. Jack watched as Sam gave Daniel one last little pat on the
arm and headed for the door. She paused and gave him a glare that
promised this was all far from over. He jerked his head at Teal’c
and got an incline of the head in understanding.
will explain to Major Carter.”
well. With any luck Teal’c would bear the brunt of Carter’s
over-protective ‘big sister’ act. That just left him
with…“Daniel. Let’s go to my office.” This was going to be
bad as it was without giving his pissy archaeologist the advantage of
followed Jack into his office and carefully shut the door behind
them. He refused to sit down when Jack did, choosing to lean up
against the wall instead, for whatever meagre advantage that gave
him. Jack seemed to be having difficulty meeting his eyes.
ran through the whole interchange in the briefing room and realised
that maybe he had more of an advantage than he thought. Jack’s
ego had gotten away from him a little when he’d realised the consensus
of opinion on his ‘tactical’ disposition of the team was that it could
only be chalked up to Daniel slumming it in the worst possible
way. He called down blessings on Teal’c’s head for helping him
salvage some semblance of dignity. ‘Doable’? What the hell
did that mean to Jack, anyway? He scowled at Jack. “Jack?”
start with me, Jack. I’m not in the mood. Just tell me what
you’re up to.”
projected offended innocence.
Daniel asked, enunciating every syllable with crystal clarity.
looked up at Daniel reluctantly. He nodded. “Cute.”
" Daniel’s voice went up an octave. "That does not in any way
palliate using an adjective like ‘doable’. In fact…”
cut him off before the linguistic tirade could gather force.
“It’s a pleasure palace, Daniel. Most of the people there will
have only one thing on their minds.” He waited a beat and
couldn’t stop himself from joining the dots just in case Daniel
didn’t. “Pleasure. Sex. Whatever. Neither the
general nor I would choose to expose you or Carter to that kind of
environment, but we have no choice. The stakes are too
high. However, I WILL do everything I can to keep you both
as safe as possible.”
why are you encouraging Sam to go wandering around the palace on her
own?" Daniel demanded. "She’ll turn every head in the
place. Whereas I could just…”
my Factor," Jack ruthlessly interrupted, "Carter will be seen as my
property and anybody messing with my property will pretty much get
Teal’c in their face. She’s protected to that extent.” Jack
was dancing around the issue that anybody messing with Carter in that
way would have to first deal with the more immediate problem of having
Carter in their face at the time. He just couldn’t bring himself
to say that of far more concern to him, Hammond and Teal’c was the fact
that if anybody messed with Daniel in that way, the most likely outcome
would be Daniel ending up on his back. The three of them were
pretty much on the same page on this one.
was the very same chasm of exactly how much information to share with
Daniel he’d hovered over in Hadante. He’d seen the danger to
Daniel clearly enough, even before Linea had intervened, placing Carter
under her personal protection and effectively taking her out of the
running. Both the kids were doable - in context - but Daniel,
being Daniel, was far more vulnerable than Carter could ever be.
He wouldn’t even see it coming. Daniel’s mind just did not go
couldn’t bring himself to MAKE it go there. It was dangerous and
self-serving in a way, but after all the disappointments and hurts
inflicted on Daniel during his time with SG-1, Jack couldn't bear to
add this one. He’d settled for sliding off Daniel’s glasses and
warning him obliquely about the dangers of showing signs of
weakness. Daniel hadn’t even questioned why he’d sent him off
with Teal’c to do recon while Jack, himself, had gone with Carter to
question Linea. Teal’c had afforded Daniel the maximum
protection. They tried to be tactful about Daniel needing
protection - nobody would ever be cruel enough to tell him he needed
protection - but it didn’t change the fact that he was the most
vulnerable member of the team.
settled for a compromise. “Daniel. Doable? Stay with
me here. Teal’c can watch out for Carter and given that you’ll be
right next to me the whole time…” Daniel stiffened at that unfortunate
reminder so Jack hurried on, “yours truly will do his humble best to
watch out for YOU.”
are you so insistent that I NEED watching out for? I’m
thirty-five years old, Jack. Cute…” Daniel spat that word
vituperatively, “does not apply. Kittens are cute.
Puppies are cute. I’m not. Look at me!”
wasn’t in the habit of eyeing up guys in general and his closest friend
in particular. He cursed the damned Tok'ra for getting him into
this. What exactly could he say? Jack looked up and tried to
threat assess Daniel objectively in the context of a Goa’uld pleasure
palace. He looked at the wide-spaced intensely blue eyes, the
flawless skin, the perfectly curved lips, the strong clean sweep of the
jaw line, ruffled short dark hair and arched eyebrows. Despite
himself, his eyes wandered appreciatively down. Daniel
always looked slight in those fatigues but he had a decent musculature
on that slender frame; flat stomach, narrow hips, long legs, nice ass…
absorbed all of this and could only think of one word to describe
it. It wasn’t a word he had previously associated with any man
and he hated the fact that he’d had to acknowledge it now, even in his
own mind, about his friend. His threat assessment was -
beautiful. Bewilderingly so. Jeez. He wouldn’t admit
to that out loud under torture so he settled for a grumpy
acknowledgement… “So maybe cute was the wrong word. Let’s just
say you weren’t exactly beaten with the Ugly Stick and then let’s just
crack in the briefing room about people who didn’t know them never
believing Daniel could ever go for Jack, that crack still
rankled. It shouldn’t matter. No way Jose should it
matter. But it did. What? Did people take one look at
Colonel Jack O’Neill and decide he was a loser? Jack was certain
Daniel didn’t think he was a loser. They were friends after
all. Daniel wouldn’t hang out with a loser. He couldn’t
help thinking that Teal’c had made it perfectly clear he didn’t think
Jack was good enough for Daniel. Hell, for all he knew, JUNIOR
didn’t think he was good enough for Daniel. It shouldn’t aggravate him
so much. It was only an abstract after all. An abstract
that would never have even crossed his mind if not for this mission.
when he tried to think of something else, it kept sneaking up on
him. Why the hell wasn’t he good enough? He could ask
Teal’c and didn’t doubt he’d get an honest answer. He did doubt
it would be anything he wanted to hear. It wasn't like he had a
poor self-image or anything but Jeez, that was a pretty stinging
brightened a little. Maybe he just wasn’t Teal’c’s type.
That would explain it. Yeah.
a moment’s quiet reflection, it finally occurred to him the only answer
he needed, right now, was why he was sitting here speculating about why
he did or didn’t ring the bells of his teammates. Either of
them. He remembered the look on Carter’s face. Any of
them. He needed to get a grip. He couldn’t ask Daniel
to tell him if he was doable. There were problems whichever
answer he got.
wrenched his mind back to assessing the all-too-probable impact Daniel
could have on the closed society of a pleasure palace. Daniel had
an appalling track record where the snakes were concerned. Must
be pheromones or something. On a good day they seemed to get off
on torturing him. On a bad day…He just didn’t want Daniel getting
flushed under that steady, musing regard and was furious with himself
for doing it. Jack and beds. Beds and Jack. Some sort of
freaky word association loop he couldn’t seem to get out of. He
and Jack and beds. Jack and he in bed. It was getting worse.
was furious with Jack too, for assuming he couldn’t cope with somebody
making a pass at him, in the unlikely event somebody did make a pass at
him. He was the cultural expert after all, his job here was to
communicate. He could certainly communicate a clear,
comprehensible ‘no’ in a tactful manner and a variety of languages and
it finally sank in. The whole time…right next to him?
They…JACK thought he needed protection. Sam could wander the
palace at will, but he had to be kept right under Jack’s nose, right
where Jack could take care of him. Because he clearly couldn’t be
trusted to take care of himself. Just how pathetic did they think
he was for cryin…? He bit down hard on that errant thought.
was hard enough for him to take in the flesh at times without sidling
into his psyche, too. Speaking of Jack…Jack was still
staring. At him. This was too weird. Daniel sincerely
hoped he wasn’t staring too. It was like a veil had been
lifted. On him and Jack and a bed.
be beating them off with a stick.” Jack belatedly realised that
he’d spoken that last thought out loud when he caught the frozen
expression on Daniel’s face freeze just that little bit more. Uh
oh. He couldn’t think of any way to explain that remark without
digging himself in even deeper. Time for a diversionary tactic…he
decided to go for low cunning. Daniel was far too tender hearted
to refuse outright a plea for help.
need you with me. I’m gonna be the focus of attention and I need
you to keep me from making any obvious mistakes. While people are
looking at us, they won’t be looking at Carter. We’re running
interference for her. C’mon, Daniel. Cut me some slack
here. We just need to stay close to each other, stay visible and
look as if we ARE…er…close.” That was the nearest Jack could get
to stating the obvious. He’d wheedled shamelessly, knowing Daniel
would never let Carter down and he relaxed as Daniel visibly climbed
down off his high horse.
Sam’s sake, of course. Er…what exactly do you mean by close?”
Daniel asked awkwardly.
shifted in his chair. He hated talking about this, he knew he
could do it, it was just tactics, but God he hated talking about
it. “Affectionate. Y’know?” A tiny shrug.
DON’T know.” Daniel didn’t want to know. His imagination
was getting away from him as it was. Anyway, he’d always thought
Jack WAS affectionate. Suddenly Jack DIDN’T think so? Given the
way Daniel’s mind was sliding down into a fluffy pillowed gutter, he
wasn’t about to risk any surprises. He eyed Jack
thoughtfully. If Jack couldn’t SAY ‘affectionate’ to his best
friend without getting embarrassed, then Jack wouldn’t be able to DO
anything to his best friend; he’d try and he’d choke. Daniel was
certain of it. He was going to call Jack’s bluff right now.
Daniel had lost enough money to Jack to know he didn’t have a poker
face, but he gave it his best shot anyway.
scowled into ingenuous blue eyes and jumped up from behind his desk,
rapidly closing in on Daniel. He reached out and slid his right
hand around Daniel’s neck, gently cradling the back of his head.
After pulling him close enough that their breath mingled he then
brushed their lips lightly together. Daniel flinched, and jumped
was a little put out Daniel looked so dazed. He’d assessed Daniel
as doable, but from that reaction he guessed it didn’t cut both
ways. Alright already, so he was starting to obsess on that one!
was getting panicky. He and Jack and beds and…lips.
Seriously panicky. He was licking his own lips in…Oh God, it was
getting worse and worse…licking his lips in anticipation.
What was wrong with him? Maybe he should get out more.
No. That would just mean more Jack. It was Jack who got him
out…he was rambling here and…and Jack was supposed to choke! For
once, couldn’t he just DO what Daniel wanted him to? Why did Jack
always have to…?
God, here it comes again! Daniel braced himself.
leaned in and kissed Daniel gently again. “Affectionate, Daniel,"
he said with as much patience as he could muster. "Just simple
little gestures like that. We’re FRIENDS, Daniel, so I can kiss
you like this and the sky won’t fall. I’m not gonna stick my
tongue down your throat in front of the snakes, if that’s what you’re
worried about. It’s not difficult. We’re friends;
this is just MORE," he coaxed. "I just have to be able to reach
out and kiss you, or whatever, and make it look like it happens all the
time. Which means that you don’t get to jump two feet in the air
every time I do it.” He couldn’t help sounding just the tiniest
bit hurt. “You never jumped like that before.”
never kissed me before.” Daniel’s voice seemed to have to come
from quite a distance before he could articulate that response.
He was quite proud he’d managed it.
would never hurt you. You’ve got to know that?”
was relieved when Daniel told him vehemently “Of course I do,
Jack!” He still looked a little dazed though. Jack decided
to just hang in there until Daniel calmed down.
tried to ignore the very large, very warm hand that was cradled around
his neck. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t staying still. It
was moving, up and down his neck, in little strokes that were clearly
meant to be soothing, but were in fact shooting pleasurable little
chills up and down his spine. Daniel was utterly
disconcerted. People… especially Jack… just weren’t in the habit
of rushing up to him, stroking his neck and kissing him. It just
wasn’t the first reaction he usually got.
strictly honest here, having JACK stroking his neck and kissing
him…well it was probably the LAST thing he’d ever thought of.
None of which changed the fact he couldn’t come up with any strenuous
objections to Jack kissing him again. Right now. Which
meant that he really shouldn’t let Jack kiss him ever again. For
the sake of his sanity, which was definitely teetering on the brink.
had to wonder if his so-called best friend was telepathic, because Jack
suddenly leaned in and their lips met and lingered until Daniel got
over the first shock and, somewhat to his own annoyance, relaxed
was worried. “Daniel! You yelped! We’ve got to work
on this. We leave in two days, we need practice. This has
to look NATURAL.” Daniel was trembling. Jack frowned.
“Lots of practice. You’re afraid.”
not!” Daniel was. He was afraid he was starting to enjoy
obviously got issues of trust to resolve here, Daniel. I can’t
have you yelping in front of the snakes. This is going to take
some work.” It was certainly no hardship for Jack to have to kiss
Daniel. It was quite pleasant in fact. Maybe he should
expand his repertoire. Man did not live by kisses alone.
apart from the whole kissing thing, Daniel was still angry with Jack
for not trusting him to take care of himself, and this little touch
taboo Jack apparently thought he had clearly wasn’t helping his
case. He’d defy any man to just stand there and not react if his
friend suddenly pinned him up against a wall and kissed him. Even
a man who suddenly wanted his friend to pin him up against a wall and
kiss him. It had been a bit of a leap from theory to practice.
realised that he had been quiet a beat too long, and his mouth clicked
into gear because his brain frankly wasn’t up to it. “I did not
smiled suddenly. “Daniel, just trust me. We’ve got a little
lead-in time before the mission. I’m gonna reach out to you and
you’re gonna let me. Simple as that. Nothing to worry
about. All you have to worry about is keeping me up to speed on
local customs and practices. I’ll take care of the
hand lingered for one final little stroke of Daniel's neck and then
withdrew. Daniel let out a breath he hadn’t realised he was
holding. “Okay.” The only tactic he could come up
with to counteract this staggering shift in his world view was to give
as good as he got, and there was no time like the present to
start. He let Jack get back to his desk while he opened the door
and made ready to bolt. “Jack?”
keep your hands off my ass.”
thoroughly enjoyed Jack’s double take and smiled sweetly at the two SFs
just outside in the hallway before he headed off towards Sam’s lab. He
was sure Sam could provide him with the working definition of ‘doable’
Jack had been so reluctant to divulge.
made eye contact with the SFs just long enough for them to realise that
any repetition of that remark could only result in - if they were real
lucky - death. It might shut them up long enough for him to get
them quietly transferred to Greenland. Only when they were gone
did he allow his face to relax into a grin. Maybe the new grown
up Daniel wasn’t so bad. This was gonna be fun. Daniel had
just upped the stakes.
it on, Danny. Bring it on. You’re playing with the big boys
Stop. Okay? Just stop. I don’t want to…We need
to…No,” Daniel protested, squirming desperately in Jack's arms.
just relax. This is the way it has to be, and the sooner you
accept that the better it will be for both of us.”
eased in front of Daniel’s office door, just enough to get a good view
of the unfolding drama. He was struck dumb for a moment by the
inconceivable sight of Colonel Jack O’Neill playfully sticking his
tongue in Dr Daniel Jackson’s ear. It was lucky Ferretti had
heard about the mission beforehand, because he could hardly believe his
eyes as it was. The urge to get one up on the colonel was too
much for him. The colonel had his back to the door and he had his
hands full - Ferretti winced at his own pun - which gave Ferretti all
the advantage he needed to pull this off without the colonel knocking
him on his ass.
moment Jack had a wriggling armful of Daniel Jackson and the next he
had a faceful of Daniel Jackson’s desk, a firm hand at the back of his
neck and a grip twisting his wrist back at an angle that kept him
stock-still if he didn’t want his wrist to snap under the
pressure. Something about the grip told him that whoever was
holding him down could happily increase the pressure more or less
guess ‘Stop’ and ‘No’ are a little too subtle for ya, huh, Colonel?”
Ferretti purred menacingly.
spat out a post- it note that had wandered into his mouth and went for
as flippant a tone as he could manage in this very embarrassing
position. “Very funny, Ferretti.”
Daniel made a half-hearted protest. Ferretti winked at him.
Since Daniel wasn’t the one spread-eagled on the desk, he settled back
to enjoy this for as long as Ferretti could keep it going.
colonel was all over you like a cheap suit, Dr Jackson. You don’t
have to take it.”
you catch that move Daniel? Want me to show you again?”
you know perfectly well I’m helping Daniel with mission prep.
This is getting less humorous by the second,” Jack snapped.
you slobbering all over Daniel helps him how exactly?” Ferretti asked
was thoroughly enjoying himself. Jack’s indignant voice was
muffled in Pennick’s ‘Pagan book of days’. Poetic
justice. This was very book Daniel had been reading when Jack
decided it was time to start fondling. Daniel sighed
loudly. “We’re headed to a Goa’uld pleasure palace, Major.
Jack and I…well…we have to…to…pretend…make everybody believe that
glanced over at Jack and with an eloquent little hand gesture told
Ferretti more than he really needed to know. “You could
show me that move again though,” Daniel asked mischievously.
pressure on Jack’s wrist and neck was suddenly eased and Ferretti
stepped away. Jack stood up and ostentatiously rubbed his wrist,
scowling at Ferretti’s wall to wall grin.
turned to Daniel. “You two really gotta pretend you’re…?”
damn,” Ferretti commiserated, shaking his head sadly over the tragedy
of it all.
cranked up the noble suffering.
figured he was out of the woods with a molecule of dignity still intact
when Ferretti eyed him incredulously and then shook his head with the
air of a man who knew this shit was way beyond him.
moment later, Jack realised he was wrong about the woods thing.
saved the unkindest cut of all until he got to the door. “Jeez,
Dr Jackson. You guys draw straws or something? You lost,
bitterly regretted not locking the office door when he'd had the
chance. He got a front row seat for Daniel’s best impression of
‘beaten down and victimised’. Ferretti cast a final, sorrowful
glance at Daniel and then he was gone.
eyed Daniel’s smirking face bitterly. They drew STRAWS? The
LOSER got Jack? Ha. Ha. Ha. It wasn’t funny the
FIRST time, Dannyboy. Jack could picture Ferretti telling this
story in the commissary. He could picture the punchline,
something like ‘You guys hear SG-1 drew straws? Again. Daniel
shoulda known better. The loser ALWAYS gets Jack’. A real
scowl deepened as Daniel fluently picked up his lecture at the exact
point Jack had made him break it off. Jack did his best to tune
him out and plotted revenge. He was gonna get the smug little
S.O.B. AND Ferretti.
was droning on and on in the background while Jack brooded.
Ferretti felt sorry. Not for Jack, for Daniel. Because he
had to be…with him. With him! Like Daniel Jackson having to
be with Jack O’Neill was an occasion for sympathy. Maybe Hallmark
had a card for it? ‘Sorry to hear you’re with Jack
O’Neill’. Like there was something wrong with him
or…something. Ferretti seemed pretty sure about it. He was
wrong of course. Well, he was. Wasn’t he? Crap.
Now Jack was arguing with himself and losing.
Teal’c, then Carter, now Ferretti. Maybe there was a notice up in
the commissary? ‘Jack O’Neill’s ego needs a reality check: Form
an orderly line’. If he got much more of this crap his ego might
start believing its own bad press.
was gonna have a LONG talk with Carter about this. He’d been
lucky to get out of that office alive. Jeez, everyone on base who
was in the know had heard about this mission, and everyone sympathised
with Daniel. He was up shit creek without the proverbial
paddle. There wasn’t a malicious bone in the colonel’s body but
his sense of humour often got the better of him. When Carter told
him that the colonel was pushing this one about as far as it would go
and then some, well, he’d allowed himself to be talked into helping
tilt the balance a little more in Daniel’s favour.
had all the stuff about drawing the short straw ready, Carter had
grinned from ear to ear when she’d suggested that comment, but when
he’d actually gotten to Daniel’s office and seen…well, he knew nuzzling
when he saw it…and Daniel’s protest…the whole thing had just gotten
away from him. It wasn’t often a major got to put one over on a
colonel. All those provocative comments? It was only the
colonel’s shock at being caught with his tongue in Daniel’s ear that
stopped him putting Ferretti on his ass, right then and there.
might take the colonel a little while, but sooner or later it was going
to dawn on the him there was no way in hell Ferretti could’ve taken
what he'd barged in on and seemingly broken up at face value. Not
for a minute. Which meant when the colonel finally connected the
dots the major was in for a lot of grief over the strong-arm
tactics. So it seemed only fair to find Carter and share some of
it, seeing as how she was the one who had persuaded him to put his ass
in a sling in the first place.
wouldn’t have gotten into this shit for anybody but Daniel.
strutted her stuff around her lab. She felt a little stupid, but
if Daniel needed a sexy walk, he was damned well going to acquire one
however stupid she felt in the meantime. She glanced back
hopefully. Teal’c nodded measured approval, but Daniel looked
even more apprehensive.
have to give it a try, Daniel,” Sam urged him.
wavered. He could see the sense in it but he honestly didn’t know
if he could pull it off. Verbal comebacks were one thing, but
this was strictly Terra Incognita, with the emphasis right now on the
is a good idea, Daniel," Sam tried the hard sell. "The colonel is
becoming very territorial where you’re concerned.” Like
that was news. Sam could remember any number of incidences of
that particular character trait from the past few years.
noticed that too, Sam.” Daniel’s tone was crisp. Jack was
determined to do what he insisted was his duty with all his usual
verve, especially as he was convinced it was for Daniel's sake.
Ferretti’s analogy was quite apt. Jack HAD been all over him like
a cheap suit in the past two days. Especially during the unfortunate
moment Ferretti had picked to go walking past his office. Three
minutes into a briefing on formal Greek dining, Jack's boredom
threshold had kicked in and he'd decided to switch subjects and go for
Advanced Nibbling 101., all the while cheerfully refusing to accept
Daniel couldn't talk and be nibbled at the same time.
is becoming most possessive of you, Daniel Jackson.” Teal’c
sounded disapproving. “You are not his property.”
thought Teal’c should be telling Jack that directly. Jack’s
interpretation of how their psuedo-relationship should be played out to
the audience was not one Daniel viewed with approbation. Jack’s
interpretation was alarmingly reminiscent of his behaviour while
infected by the ‘Touched’ virus.
think he’s been watching Star Trek again," Daniel said bitterly.
"You know, that one on the space station? The doctor dreamed of
the science officer, and she wound up with some alien duplicate that
was all meek and submissive, and just followed him around like a
love-puppy. He’s patently drawing his inspiration from
that. He’s in for a shock though, because I won’t do that for
Jack. I refuse to let him order me around for three days.
He’s been unbearable enough these past two days as it is.”
closed in for the kill. “Once the roles are established you can’t
step out of them, Daniel. Either of you. Three days of full
on Alpha Male or three days of Platonic older-guy doting
fondness? You both get your jobs done either way and remember
this is only your public persona. The choice is yours,
Daniel. Get the colonel off balance and KEEP him off-balance.”
knew the vague Plato reference would seal the deal. Daniel liked
things to be reasonable and rational. Colonel O’Neill’s relapse
into Alpha Male mode this past two days was anything but reasonable and
rational. He was getting a little too territorial with Sam's
favourite archaeologist for her comfort. Not like he didn’t have
those tendencies where the team was concerned anyway, but still, the
last thing Daniel needed was Jack O’Neill thinking he had carte blanche
to boss Daniel around as he pleased. And only for his own good,
of course, because Jack O’Neill knows what’s best for Daniel
Jackson. Or sure thinks he does. Hence the reason she’d
conned Ferretti into making his little incursion. It would take
her some time to get back into Ferretti’s good books but it had been
is sound tactical advice, DanielJackson," Teal'c agreed approvingly.
trust me," Sam said sincerely. "This will work. The colonel
won’t know what’s hit him. You’ll confuse the hell out of
him.” Something Sam wanted ringside seats for. The colonel
was way too cocksure.
thought it would make a pleasant change from Jack confusing the hell
out of HIM. Jack had some terrifying contingency plans in case
their double act looked shaky. He hadn’t only been watching Star
Trek. Daniel hated Adam Sandler with a deep and abiding passion
right now, thanks to whose movies Jack was very taken with the concept
of ‘church tongue’ and ‘porno tongue’. Daniel wasn’t ready for
either. Some of Jack’s Alpha Male tendencies were actually very
nice when he was on the receiving end of them, far too nice for him to
want to get used to them. Jack’s approach for the past two days
had been ‘resistance is useless’…more Star Trek…and he was right.
All of Daniel’s resistance had just melted away. Hence his trip
to Sam’s lab. He needed coping strategies. Jack had found
that the surest way to shut him up was to kiss him. It worked
like a charm, every time. Daniel couldn’t hold his own verbally
if Jack wouldn’t let him talk.
came to us for assistance, DanielJackson. This is the assistance
we are offering. You would be wise to accept it,” Teal'c said
beamed as Daniel looked up with a distinctly wicked gleam in his
eyes. “Show me that walk again, Sam?”
Sam darted up the ramp the moment her Dad was clear of the event
grin was ear to ear. He came forward to hug Sam and kissed her
was reminded all over again that his becoming host to Selmac had opened
him emotionally in ways she’d never dreamed when they’d taken those
first terrible steps. Selmac had saved more than Jacob’s
life. He’d saved their relationship, too. She wasn’t afraid
to hug back, even though there were eyes - and cameras - on them here
in the gateroom.
couldn’t resist, Sam," Jacob chuckled. "I’ve always thought
O’Neill was fun to be around but this…this is something else!
Even by O’Neill’s standards. He’s really going to go through with
this?” he asked incredulously.
Daniel. O’Neill will eat him alive.”
ducked her head and stifled her grin. She and Teal’c had done
enough to get Daniel a level playing field, but there was no doubt in
her mind that the colonel would rise to the challenge and retaliate in
ways it would do Daniel no good whatsoever to worry about. He had
some confidence in his ability to carry this off, and that was the best
they could hope for.
brought all the necessary gear and clothing with me.” Jacob shot
Sam a twinkling look. “Anise picked out the wardrobe for Jack and
Daniel. I want pictures, Sam. LOTS of pictures. Gonna
be a Kodak moment.” Jacob’s grin was pure evil. “Anise
feels there should be some kind of formal gifting ceremony for when
Daniel is handed over to Jack as his property for the duration of the
feast.” Jacob waited a beat. “Y’know?” Sam looked puzzled
and Jacob couldn’t resist pushing it that little bit further.
“Like a present,” he hinted.
voice shook with suppressed laughter. “I think Anise has
some…personal…issues where young Dr Jackson is concerned. She’s
having him gift-wrapped.”
looked earnestly at the team gathered around the briefing table.
“We need to be very clear about this. We’ve got exactly
three days, from midnight on the first day to midnight on the third
day. The neutrality required by the festival expires
promptly. We have to be out of there by midnight or…”
bets are off?”
was halted in mid-flow by Jack’s laconic interruption.
get the picture, Daniel. Move it right along,” Jack ordered
ever Daniel had any doubts about the wisdom of taking Jack on, all it
took were little moments like this one to remind him EXACTLY why he was
doing it. “We’ll be using names we’re familiar with," he went on,
ignoring the interruption. "Sam will be Thera, Jack will be Jona,
I’ll be Carlin, Teal’c will be…”
do not care for the name Tor, Daniel Jackson. It has no meaning.”
yes. Good old P3R118," Jack bitched. "‘It’s my honour
to serve' my ass. Why can’t I just be Jack?”
ground his teeth. Counting to ten never helped because he only
sniped more after the enforced wait. “As in hi, I’m Jack of the
Tau’ri, please shoot me?”
remember? They can’t shoot me,” Jack drawled.
In your case, I’m sure they’ll be happy to make an exception.”
was losing it, so Selmak stepped in. “It is unwise to draw
unnecessary attention," Selmak's resonant, metallic voice compelled
everyone’s attention. "These other names are nondescript
enough to pass for Rigan. Riga is not under the control of the
System Lords and is sufficiently far from the trading routes to ensure
that no Goa’uld who does not know you personally could identify you
with the Tau’ri and not with the Rigans. Colonel, Doctor, your
presence at the festival as mates will not in itself be remarkable, and
the Rigans would not make the journey from their system for any lesser
trading opportunity. The neutrality required by the festival will
protect you from molestation, as will your status as the designated
the snakes really be interested in trading for these baubles?” Jack
sneered at the vulgar display spilling out of the casket onto the table.
sighed. There he goes again; Jack O’Neill, intergalactic goodwill
‘baubles’ could ransom a small planet, O’Neill," Selmak’s tone was even
chillier. "They are amongst the rarest precious gems and metals
in the galaxy. They are intended only to provide the traders with
a taste of what Riga can offer them. We expect them to be
returned to the Tok'ra at the conclusion of the mission.”
people?” Hammond looked carefully around the briefing room.
“SG-1, you have a go. Departure at 00.00 hours. Dismissed.”
headed straight out the door with Jacob in tow.
paused for a moment in front of Daniel. “I do not care for this
deception, DanielJackson. I must hide my face and endure a name
with no meaning. It is not an honourable way to fight.” He
bowed and walked away.
think I should have a little talk with Teal’c.” Daniel’s vague
move after Teal’c was halted by Jack’s hand curling around his arm and
drawing him back to Jack’s side.
will be fine. It’s you who needs a little talk,” Jack informed
get all that sniping out of your system while you can, Daniel.
When we get to the pleasure palace you’ll have to co-operate or this
thing will blow up in our faces.”
was stung. “I think I can manage to be professional," he snapped
at Jack. "Define 'co-operate'!”
my commands.” Jack’s tone was as facetious as ever as he smiled
sweetly, slid his hands into his pockets and strolled out the door
without a backward glance.
was speechless with indignation.
knocked politely on Daniel’s office door. She wasn’t exactly sure
why she was here if Daniel wasn’t sick, but he needed her help and that
was enough to fetch her. The fact she had to knock on his door
was telling. She frowned. Daniel usually left his door open.
asked her in. He was hiding out behind his desk and even in the
dim light of the computer screen she could see he was blushing.
Are you okay?" Janet asked, concerned. "Look, if you’re having
second thoughts about this mission, just say so.”
not that, Janet," Daniel said miserably. "I have to go on the
mission. I need some help with…er…”
stepped forward. “Help with what, Daniel? You can tell me,”
she coaxed gently.
He held up the problem. “They’re skin tight, Janet.
Literally. I can’t get them on without help, and God knows how
I’m going to get them off again.”
gave her that helpless little boy lost look that generally melted her
resistance to anything he wanted, short of avoiding requisite medical
you don’t help me, I’ll have to ask Jack. It’s bad enough knowing
he’s going to have to do it when we get to the pleasure palace, but
here on base? I can’t, Janet. I just can’t.”
caved. “You did the right thing, Daniel. I’m your
doctor. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” She
put in a call to the Infirmary for talcum powder to be double timed
straight up to Daniel’s office, inspected the pants he held out to her,
and tried to work out the path of least resistance to get Daniel into
them. She fingered the material carefully. It looked like
leather but was clearly a fabric of some kind. There was some
give. They’d be reasonably comfortable once they were on, but
they would fit Daniel like a second skin.
the talcum powder had been delivered, Janet kept a tactful distance as
Daniel dusted everywhere he could reach and got the pants up to about
knee height on his own. A small voice called her over, and
between them they managed by main force to get the pants the rest of
the way up. Daniel had to lie down to get them fastened, but
after that he got up and was able to bend over quite freely to pull on
the knee high boots. Janet adhered rigidly to her usual calm,
professional manner and Daniel seemed to find it comforting.
waistcoat was of the same material as the pants, and fit just as
snugly. Daniel buttoned it on and Janet carefully pulled in the
lacing at the back until it fitted like a glove.
finally felt covered enough to switch on the light.
Daniel gave her a shy look.
look just fine, Daniel. Decently covered. You’ll pass
muster,” Janet said briskly, lying through her teeth. More
like indecently covered was closer to the truth. Talk about less
is more! Woof! “Keep the talc handy and I’ll pass on
instructions to Colonel O’Neill. It’ll be fine. Just
fine.” As long as she kept him away from any mirrors. She
took another look, swallowed and offered to walk him to the gateroom.
tried very hard indeed not to notice the heads turning as he slunk
through the hallways in Janet's wake. Not being able to wear his
glasses helped. The blur was comforting. He glanced down at
Janet. She had the same look on her face that Jack got right
before he shot something. Nobody was messing with 5.2” of solid,
‘in your face’ attitude. Not a word had been said to him, even
though he knew perfectly well he looked like somebody who quoted you an
hourly rate before you could spend quality time with them. Teal’c
couldn’t have done a better job as escort. They were going to
make it. Just a few more minutes and he'd be safe.
was saying fond farewells to Jacob, Teal’c was talking to General
Hammond, and Jack was just hanging, waiting for Daniel. Jack
glanced up casually as Janet rolled into the gateroom obviously locked
and loaded for bear, and then he got an eyeful of Daniel just coming
into view behind her. “Jesus, Daniel! If you bend over in
those pants one of us could get arrested!”
O’Neill, I singularly fail to see the humour in that remark.”
After glaring at the man he was reprimanding, Hammond turned to Daniel.
“Colonel O’Neill has the officer part down pat, Dr Jackson, but he
needs a LOT of work on the gentleman. I’ll be making some time to
help him with that when you return.” He gave the colonel another
glare before turning back to Daniel. “Good luck, son, ” he said
softly, patting Daniel consolingly on his regrettably bare
shoulder. Hammond suppressed a sympathetic sigh. As if Jack
in this mood wasn't enough, poor Daniel had to walk around dressed
like…like…words failed him.
subsided in the face of universal condemnation, and settled for an
apologetic look that fell on very stony ground. Daniel pointedly
stalked over to the farthest side of the ramp from him with Carter and
Teal’c radiating disapproval between them.
tugged on Jack's arm and he dragged his attention away from Daniel to
look at her. She stretched up to whisper in his ear.
try and restrain yourself, Colonel. Don't embarrass Daniel.
This is very difficult for him. He needs help getting into those
pants. So HELP him. Use the talc. And be nice. Or
else…” Her face was unforgiving as she stepped back, leaving the
unspoken threat hanging for his imagination to do its worst.
Jacob’s voice rang clearly around the gateroom.
turned reluctantly to look at Jacob.
the colonel annoys you again, shoot him.”
face softened slightly.
shot a sidelong look at O’Neill. He couldn’t resist adding to the
overall effect. “Aim low.”
sudden smile was dazzling.
figured he’d taken more than enough crap for one night and it was time
to get going. The atmosphere in the gateroom was colder than the
wormhole. “Carlin? You’re with me. We go through the
gate together, remember? Thera, you’re last. Tor, you head
through first as the honour guard.”
wish is our…co-operation, Jona," Daniel said sarcastically.
watched as Daniel prowled around the palace gateroom sneering at the
entablature. The pissy purist in him had taken instant exception
to the ornate and lavish decoration.
decided it was in his best interests to be supportive. “Not so much
Classical Greece as Classic Caesar’s Palace.”
earned him the warmest look he’d received from Daniel since the ‘pants’
moment in the gateroom. Admittedly, it was barely above freezing
point, but it was a start.
sighed. “And it can only get worse.
Vulgar…ostentatious…just look at that architrave!” He gestured at
the offending feature, shuddering.
communication! Jack eased a little closer to Daniel, and went out
on an architectural limb. He started by looking up at what he
figured was more or less the right place, and offered a tentative
suggestion. “It should be undecorated, right?” He was relieved to
see faint signs of thaw. He threw in a double whammy with a
literary reference. “Not my idea of Xanadu.”
was looking puzzled, obviously waiting for some punchline at his
expense if he responded to that comment seriously. Jack decided
any reference to Olivia Newton John on roller skates could only get him
in deeper at this point and elaborated. “Always figured Kubla
Khan to be the austere type. This isn’t anybody’s idea of
stately.” Home run. Definite signs of warmth, there.
Thank God for the Discovery Channel. He and Daniel were both on
the same page here, and without any embarrassing mention of Coleridge
watched the colonel’s attempts to charm his way back into Daniel’s good
graces with mixed feelings. Daniel was so tender hearted he
wasn’t able to stay angry with anyone for long and was utterly
incapable of bearing a grudge against anybody who wasn’t a System
Lord. The colonel’s decidedly insouciant charm would melt him
just like it always did and then he’d be back to square one. Give
O’Neill a three-day pass into Daniel’s psyche and he’d want to take up
permanent residence. All of those frustrated nurturing instincts
just begging for an outlet would get the better of him without him even
realising it. Daniel winked at her suddenly and Sam felt a whole
lot better. He was going to kick Jack ass or kill the colonel in
the attempt. Go, Daniel!
Showtime. The Palace Factor himself was hurrying into the
gateroom, full of apologies for keeping them waiting. The tiny,
insignificant looking jewel Teal’c had selected as payment had done the
trick royally. The Factor was almost salivating. He was a
Jaffa, not a Goa’uld. Not a pretty specimen, and she didn’t like
the way his eyes kept roaming over Daniel. Ah. Neither did
the colonel. He stiffened and the resulting blast of sheer
arrogance fired at him point blank should have nailed the Factor to the
opposite wall. Biting down a laugh, Sam scurried forward in
response to an imperiously beckoning hand.
may I serve you, Honoured Master?” That sounded good.
Servile. Sam tried not to shudder too visibly at the sound of her
own voice saying those things. The Rigans couldn’t have come up
with a better form of address? The colonel was lapping it up too,
just look at him. They were going to have their hands full when
they got back.
have no patience for this," Jack sneered. "Deal with this lackey
and prepare our rooms. Tor, you will accompany us to the feast.”
Master.” Teal’c inclined his masked head.
had been her idea too. After all, it had worked perfectly for
Apophis on Netu. Out of all them she had the best deal for
clothing. Lovely light grey pants and robe that reminded her of
the way Vietnamese girls dressed. Teal’c’s chain mail was lighter and
looser than his Serpent Guard armour, but still looked hideously
uncomfortable. The colonel looked absolutely magnificent in jet
black - well, the closest she could come to the material in Earth terms
was velvet. At least he had a decent tunic, kind of knee length,
with a high mandarin collar. The tunic was split to the waist on
either side and tied around the waist with a sash. What with the
skin-tight pants, and the knee high boots completing the ensemble, for
some reason she kept thinking of pirate kings.
for Daniel…the colonel was right. Sam knew several states where
he could get arrested just for walking down the street in that
outfit. It left just enough to the imagination to be positively
indecent. They were lucky Daniel hadn’t had a good look at
himself because he was likely to drop on the spot when he did.
The colonel had been speechless when she’d told him who had picked
Daniel’s outfit. She still wanted to get to the bottom of his
comment about Anise being interested in Daniel on an intellectual
level. Neither of them could imagine what she’d do to him on the
carnal level if this was 'intellectual'. Her Daniel was dressed
from head to foot in stellar skin tight navy-blue leather looking
fabric, which did amazing things for his eyes and clung distractingly
to his body. Suited Daniel just fine on both counts! Turned
out the way he was, when she looked at Daniel the only thing she could
think of was jailbait.
suddenly realised that the Factor hadn’t budged an inch. He was
petrified to speak to the colonel directly so she stepped in.
“I’m Thera, my Lord Jona’s Factor. Why are we being kept waiting
in this manner?” Sam wasn’t any happier with my Lord Jona than
she was with Honoured Master.
Factor fearfully confessed that bodyguards were not permitted in the
Banqueting Chamber. Only the High Born could attend the Festival
Gatherings. They’d already known that, but it gave the colonel
the chance to squash the Factor even further underfoot. “Lord Jona”
promptly went ballistic, launching a tirade that would leave the entire
palace with no choice but to believe that the man currently shooting
his mouth off was about as High Born as they came. Sam saw first
hand the benefits of being an opera buff; a perfect blend of
histrionics and sheer volume flavoured the invective. She and
Teal’c were to be escorted to their suite of rooms, the very best the
palace had left to offer, where their first job would be to sweep the
rooms thoroughly for surveillance devices.
annihilated the Factor beyond all possibility of his being able to
recover, the colonel summoned a slightly distracted Daniel to his
side. The vulgar friezes were clearly playing on Daniel’s
mind. Sam noted with interest that Daniel didn’t get the
imperious summons, just a gentle “Carlin? Ready to leave now?”
and a hand held out to him that, when he was in reach, slid around the
small of his back and settled comfortably on his hip. After the
tiniest hesitation, Daniel slipped his arm around the colonel’s
waist. Without a backward glance, they followed the Factor into
the palace proper at a stately pace, heads held high.
wished them luck, even though she knew luck had nothing to do with it.
realised he was in severe difficulties the moment his arm went round
Daniel. This was not a good time for an epiphany of any kind, let alone
a heart-stopper like this one. His head was fighting his
hand. It wanted to be on Daniel’s ass; was kinda insistent on it,
as a matter of fact. His hand was currently behind…he cut that thought
off at the knees …on points, but only just. He was personally
going to kill Anise with BOTH his own two hands next time he laid eyes
on her. He’d known those pants were just asking for trouble the
moment he’d laid eyes on them.
guessed he’d been pathetically slow on the uptake. It had only
taken him what? Three and a half years to figure out his closest
friend and confidante was doable in the abstract, and about three and a
half days to make the leap from the abstract to actuality. Daniel
didn’t just look doable, he looked absolutely edible.
was a bit of a bummer after forty-five years of life, and a long and
colourful career of heterosexuality. Try as he might, his mind
kept roaming into places that could get him actual jail time.
arm around his waist was not helping him to think this through
rationally in any way.
was he? Oh yeah. Jail time in the future, and probably a
swift knee to the balls in the here and now if he tried any of the
moves he was thinking of. Although, this being Daniel, he might
have to first make sure Daniel understood he should knee first and
reason later. Much later. And from a safe distance.
He could picture that training session. 'Hey, Daniel. Gonna
teach you how to knee some goomba in the balls. Why,
Jack? You’re looking right at that goomba, Dannyboy'.
WAS looking right at him. Looking a little anxious, there.
No wonder. Maybe he’d been a little too-off-hand about this
mission. There were Jaffa and Goa’uld everywhere. Jack
squeezed Daniel a little closer to his side and smiled. Then he
cringed. God, he thought pleadingly, PLEASE don’t let that come
off as doting!
he surveilled the palace hallways, memorising the layout and tried to
establish possible escape routes, Jack realised Daniel was right, the
architecture was getting worse. Jack looked up at the friezes and
could only be glad Daniel didn’t have his glasses on. Those
friezes could get jail time too. Speaking of which…he had a
little treat for Daniel. If Carter gave them the all clear from
visual surveillance he was gonna give Daniel the pair of glasses he’d
sneaked into his personal luggage.
promptly sympathised. “Should the colours be this garish? And so
many of them?” Jack winced reflexively. Carter was gonna
eat him alive if he couldn’t bring himself to stop Daniel from talking
about ceremonial rocks, cracked pots and holy places while they were on
missions, or, even more unnerving, he started talking back to Daniel
about them. It would be painfully obvious he had a crush the size
of the planet on his archaeologist if he wouldn't let Carter get a word
in about the sciencey stuff while he encouraged Daniel to whitter
on. Jack hoped this was a temporary aberration that would wear
off. Quickly. A man could only watch so much Discovery
Channel before a Doctor of Archaeology called him on it.
colours should be simple," Daniel sniffed haughtily. "Natural
stone in the ashlar masonry and orthostates, stone peristyle
columns, plus stone or, in a rich temple, marble columns; earth
tones and black in the entablature, and terracotta in the roof and
acroteria. Clean, pure and simple.”
knew he was in a bad way because even though Daniel had lost him
completely after ashlar, he hadn’t tried to shut him up. Poor
Daniel. He had to put up with a Jack who was both horny and
infatuated. A truly terrifying prospect.
all the nightmare scenarios he’d imagined Daniel needing to be
protected from, why had it never crossed his mind that Daniel might
need protection from him? Dear God, don’t let him get
drunk. After the past two days, he was already way too touchy
feely with Daniel for his own peace of mind. He wouldn’t be able
to keep his hands off the off-limits parts. Which tragically
included Daniel’s ass. He could not imagine what would happen if
he tried a little lip lock on the big guy now. The two of them
kissing was just friendship, only more? The Nox wouldn’t fall for
that one. No wonder Daniel had been looking so dazed. The
two of them kissing was just hot sex; gimme more!
faint dead away. Daniel might too.
almost stopped in his tracks as he remembered The Pants. The
talcum powder. Thank Anise this tunic was knee length or he’d
embarrass them both. For Daniel’s sake he’d have to be
good. He would not allow himself to take advantage. He
they walked at a majestic pace through the interminable hallways of
Caesar’s Palace on LSD, Jack desperately tried to recall all the Very
Good Reasons compelling him not to try anything. Ever. Jail
time was a biggy. His career going down the tubes was right up
there. The inconvenient fact that he was straight. He
thought about Daniel’s ass again and decided to quit while he was
behind on that one. He was Daniel’s C.O. Team leader.
Closest friend. All good and sufficient reasons, but still not
enough to outweigh the lush curve of his friend's delectable ass under
those damnable pants.
didn’t think Jack was good enough for Daniel. He wasn’t alone in
that. Jack thought about all the people giving him attitude about
HIS attitude the past two days. Carter, Ferretti, Fraiser, Jacob
and the general, to name but a few, were all right behind Teal’c.
If he was serious about Daniel, he wouldn’t have time to worry about
the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy. If they found out, the mood
his friends and colleagues were in right now, they’d probably settle
for tarring and feathering him, then riding his ass out of the SGC on a
more importantly, what was wrong with him? Daniel said he was
‘So’, he was ‘Too’. So what? Too what? He had three
days of Daniel’s undivided attention to identify exactly what was wrong
with him, determine if it was fixable and whether it was WORTH fixing
in order to get Daniel to go for him, right now.
come everyone knew what was wrong with him except him?
he had to make a list of reasons why Daniel would never find him doable
he guessed ‘on a good day you can be a little flaky’, and the never to
be sufficiently regretted 'Plant Boy' would loom large. Along
with geek, dweeb, shut up Daniel, etc, etc, and the many other
instances when he’d treated Daniel like a wilfully fractious
child. The whole, shameful, ‘couldn’t relate not much of a
foundation to the friendship’ thing was probably right at the very top
of that list. Daniel wasn’t one to bear a grudge, thank God, but
that stuff had to imprint on the psyche somewhere along the line.
friendship thing was the ONLY thing that outweighed his need to put his
hand on Daniel’s ass, and indeed on many other parts of Daniel.
His mind was pretty much in his shorts right now, or would be if he was
wearing any, but he had enough fizz left in his synapses to figure out
that he couldn’t make a pass at Daniel. Either Daniel would
turn him down flat or worse, infinitely worse, he’d allow himself to be
sweet-hearted into it because he was enjoying the physical contact he
hadn't had for so long, because he had such a hard time refusing
anything Jack wanted as a friend. After all, Daniel had put up
with Jack for the past two days, and let’s be painfully honest about
it, here…he’d been full of it. It would drive him nuts not
knowing why Daniel was with him. The only way to play this was to
make himself so irresistible to Daniel that Daniel would throw himself
couldn’t pass, but he would be more than happy to receive.
yeah. Right. Like that was gonna happen. He’d been
passing as hard as he could for two days and Daniel’s regrettable
independence of mind and general flakiness of spirit had let him go so
far and no further. If Daniel had any hidden longings they were
just that. Hidden. So what was it going to make him hurl
himself into Jack’s waiting, if inexperienced, arms? He couldn’t
think of anything. He tried, but he couldn't. Not a single
goddamn thing. Sweet. Jack O’Neill, catch of a lifetime.
cut off that gloomy thought and tried to pay more attention to their
surroundings…Maybe if he just gave Daniel a HINT…like ‘Hey, Daniel,
wanna get naked and horizontal with me?’ God. That was a
thought. Okay. Nothing fancy, horizontally, until he had a
chance to work out the mechanics. He’d rather have ‘Yes, Jack,
yes’, than ‘Jesus, Jack, get off me, do you know what you’re
doing?’ Which was much more likely given his current position on
this particular learning curve.
gut tightened. A whole buncha snakes were milling around up
ahead, doing the snake equivalent of networking. They hadn’t been
ribboned yet, so maybe being a Rigan was better than being a Tau’ri.
of the snakes was eyeing Daniel up. Jack slowed their pace and
gave her a Look he’d perfected in his Special Ops days. BD.
Before Daniel, when he was still a loveless bastard. He’d tried
the loveless bastard routine on Daniel when they’d met, but the first
cracks in the façade had appeared in the briefing when Daniel
had proved his theory about the Stargate. Only two weeks before,
he’d been ready to eat his gun and Daniel, just being Daniel in a room
full of clueless military types and jealous geeks, had forced the
tiniest of tiny smiles out of him. More of an upwards lip twitch
than a smile. Lasted about a nanosecond but still, he should have
realised then the writing was on the wall. Even that little smirk
was more than he’d been able to offer Sara.
He was quite pleased that the Look worked on junior miss snakes
too. She was backing off.
had completely lost interest in the disappointing and…he eyed the
frieze tentatively…disturbing architecture. Jack’s face was worth
a thousand pictures right now. My Lord Jona seemed to getting
away with shit that would have gotten Jack O’Neill charred on the spot
by any self-respecting Goa’uld. That female one had just
WILTED and backed-off. Daniel didn’t know exactly what she’d done
that Jack had taken such strong exception to. They were just
walking along a hallway after all. And now there seemed to be
some sort of…well, argument…going on in Jack’s head. Daniel
wasn’t sure who Jack was arguing with or why but Jack seemed to be
getting the worst of it. Daniel was fascinated. He
tentatively squeezed Jack and got Jack’s familiar shit-eating grin
right back, along with a little squeeze of Jack’s hand. The one
curved over his hip. The one that was almost in a pre-defined
off-limits area. It was VERY distracting, as if he didn't have
enough on his mind already.
Factor was ugly. Daniel didn’t like him one bit. He was
spiritually ugly, had none of the sense of honour, however misguided,
that characterised the warrior caste Jaffa. Teal’c would think
the Factor was beneath contempt.
palace was huge. They’d been walking for ten minutes and hadn’t
reached the Banqueting Chamber. He wasn’t looking forward to
it. It was likely to be the most objectionable room in the whole
palace and not just because of the architecture. He hoped they
weren’t going to run into any orgies, but from the little he’d been
able to pick out on the frieze, he wasn’t ruling it out either.
glanced again at the man clasped to his side. Daniel was off to
see the wizard again, totally lost inside his own head as they walked
along. It was taking so long he should maybe gate back and get
his truck. Be quicker.
had to figure that Daniel absolutely could not do worse for himself, if
you kept the snakes out of the equation, whereas Jack
O’Neill…Dammit. Jack O’Neill really couldn’t do better than
Daniel. So what were the odds Jack O’Neill will ever get the
chance to do Daniel? Astronomical, to use exactly the right
word. He’d have to check that out with Carter.
That pretty much summed up the whole sexual orientation debate right
there. Daniel was always Daniel, no matter what the
circumstances, even during their…vigorous…exchange of views in front of
those intergalactic Nazis bent on global annihilation. Even when
he kept beaming up to the Gad-Meer space ship although he KNEW Jack was
going to blow it up. Independence of mind didn’t begin to cover
it some days. Daniel was always Daniel.
on the other hand was always Carter, even in the zanax brain drain
thingy, he still called her CARTER. Even in his most mushy, brain
drained moments, she was Carter. That pretty much said it
all. The last hetero gasp. He’d resigned and kissed her
once, in the time loop fiasco. All those loops, just the one
time, just as the loop was resetting. In front of Hammond and
everyone else. Whoop de doo. Hadn’t exactly gone for the
tender private moment there, had he?
he was just brainwashed by all those alternate realities where him and
the civilian Carter got it on. All those? Well, being
strictly accurate, BOTH those. The ones where, coincidentally, he was
dead. Hard not to draw conclusions from that. Like
maybe he and Carter together were the kiss of death for the whole
planet. Still, on the upside, if there were billions of them, well
maybe there might be a lot more alternate realities where he and Daniel
were getting it on, maybe even right now. This minute.
cheered up a little. The prospect was kind of cool.
That whole time loop fiasco? What a wasted opportunity. He
could have tried the ‘church tongue’ on Daniel. Kind of a trial
run, try before you buy, no pressure thing. If it worked out,
‘porno tongue’. There had to be alternate Jack O’Neill’s out
there with more smarts than him who figured this shit out in time to
make the most of all those loops. Daniel would have been none the
wiser. What had HE done with Daniel? Let him get knocked on
his ass a coupla times. Learned Latin with bad grace. Did
some translation with worse grace. Juggled. Rode a bike,
worked on his back swing and did a little pottery. How sad was
he didn’t need anybody to tell him what was wrong with him. The
evidence was stacking up just fine, all on its own, thank you.
Banqueting Chamber doors seemed to have snuck up on him. And once
they’d been ushered through them with due ceremony and announced, well,
all things considered, the last thing Jack was prepared for was Daniel
slipping out from under his arm and sauntering off into the crowd the
moment they were settled.
the…? Where in hell did Daniel…DANIEL…learn to walk like that?
Mary and Joseph!
On to Part Two
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