FIDELITY 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.  First Time.  Hurt/Comfort.  Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Season 4.  Follows events in The Curse and Double Jeopardy.
Synopsis: Daniel and Jack learn - and teach - difficult lessons in honesty and faithfulness. 
Warnings: Minor character death.  Violence.  Language.    Intense situations.
Length: 735 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


SAM

"Dr Jackson?  I have a mission for you," the general says a tad regretfully.

Typical.  The rest of SG-1 gets downtime, we finally get a chance to touch base with our elusive archaeologist and he's snatched away from us.  Yet again.

Or should I say snatched away from Colonel O'Neill?  The grin on the colonel's face is slowly congealing.

"Mission?" he asks, with that light yet cutting sarcastic inflexion only he can manage.

Two possible interpretations here.  The colonel could come off as disrespectful of Daniel's ability to handle tying his own shoelaces, or as deeply resentful of being deprived of the pleasure of Daniel's company yet again.  Daniel is stiffening a little, hearing the former.  I KNOW it's the latter, and unfortunately, the colonel thinks it's something else entirely.  SG-1 being deprived of it's fourth yet again, or some other comfortable rationalisation for getting this pissy this quickly.

"Dr Steven Rayner has approached the Egyptian authorities for permission to excavate the tomb of Osiris."

Daniel goes a little pale.  I shoot him a reassuring look and jump in, to give him a little breathing room.  "The NID cleared the tomb of incriminating technology, Sir. There's nothing for Dr Rayner to see."

"We're not sure of that," the general answers.  "The operation was of necessity a snatch and grab, given the circumstances.  We couldn't hide from the authorities that a man was viciously attacked in the tomb or that a woman disappeared.  The operation was severely time delineated. I can pull the strings that will prevent Dr Rayner from obtaining official permission to excavate, but there is nothing to stop him digging illicitly.  What's your opinion, Dr Jackson?"

Daniel sighs.  "I think that's entirely possible.  Steven -"

Ouch!  The colonel's eyes ice over.  'Steven' indeed!  Just how well do you know this 'Steven', Daniel?  Do you LIKE this 'Steven', Daniel?  Do I have to KILL this 'Steven' because you like him, Daniel?

Holy Hannah.

I can't let this go on much longer. It took me a long time to realise the colonel is in love.  Truly, madly, deeply in love. It costs me a small pain to admit it, but as deeply and profoundly as the colonel is in love, it hurts him even more excruciatingly to deny it.

" - was convinced my theories were a quixotic, wasteful fantasy for so long, his discovery of part of the truth -"

"Enough to know you were right all along!" I interject.

Daniel pauses and smiles at me.  God, he's adorable when he smiles like that, so much sweet mischief instead of his usual sweet gravity.  He's always so tentative when he smiles, as if he's either not sure of the reception he'll get or of the feelings that prompted it.  I'm never sure which, or maybe it's both.

I really have to say something to the colonel.  We changed the boundaries of our relationship forever when we flirted with - well, what wasn't meant to be.  It was simply a sign the colonel was reaching out, desperately seeking a connection with another human being.  While trying to deny the consuming, focused passion of his relationship with Daniel.

I think he passed over from loving Daniel to being in love with Daniel a long time ago.  In his soul he knows it, but he's so terrified of the strength of his feeling he can't bring himself to admit it, let alone act on it.  He's pushed Daniel so hard and so far in such a short space of time it snapped me right out of my cosy, infatuated glow with a vengeance.  I'm probably going to be squirming for months to come over my own motivations in letting my feelings get out of hand, but if I've hurt Daniel irreparably I will regret it to the day I die.

" - will prompt him to take direct action.  Steven is passionate in his beliefs - "

I care about the colonel, deeply, as much as I've cared for any friend in my life.  I care deeply for Teal'c.  We're comrades in arms, bound together by necessity at first, then by experience and now by choice.  I love Daniel, love him dearly.  He's as close to me as my own blood and I hate that I lost sight of that for some pathetic, insecure sense I was missing out.  If the other Sams had the colonel, why not me?  And yes, I know that's simplistic, doesn't begin to cover the tangle of emotions that got us into this mess.

I gave the colonel an out.  While he was chasing me and I permitted it, he was running away from himself and from Daniel, as hard as he could.  It took me a while to see it clearly, extrapolating from the little clues here and there.  I started backing off, conscious that pursuing any kind of relationship would do the team and my career no good.

Aw, come on, Sam.  It was staggeringly unprofessional and you let yourself down!  You let the colonel down, and more than anyone else, you've let Daniel down.  Suck it up and FIX it!

" - as forcefully as he believed I was wrong, I think he'll be determined to prove the opposite."

"For his own benefit," I snap.  Daniel gives me a reproachful look.  "I heard him, Daniel.  HE wanted the discovery."

Come on, Colonel!  Get with the program here!  I'll go with Daniel, happily, kick some major 'Steven' butt, but - ah, gotcha!  The colonel is looking at me searchingly.

Completely ignoring the all-too probable impact on Daniel's sensitive feelings if he had the least idea of what I'm up to, I take advantage of being in the colonel's direct line of sight and give him my all.  Slight upwards roll of the eyes, tightening of the lips.  See a threat you like, Sir?  Fanatic.  Hates Daniel with a passion, one borne of jealousy.  Got a damn Porsche for God's sake, and he still -

"Did he not attempt to convince the authorities of your culpability in the death of the museum curator?"

Way to go, Teal'c!

"Sirs, I'm not at all convinced that Dr Rayner would be anything other than eager to pursue his discovery and publish it to the world.  He's not out to vindicate Daniel, but to further his own career," I up the ante.

"At DanielJackson's expense," Teal'c finishes for me.  There's a slight edge to his voice that suggests to those in the know he'd like the opportunity to put 'Steven' right on a thing or three vis a vis his attitude to Daniel.

So we're overprotective.  Big deal!  He's DANIEL.

"I'd say this Rayner guy represents a significant risk to the security of this facility, General," the colonel says emphatically.  "We should check it out."

The general looks amused.  "I agree.  That's why I'm sending Dr Jackson to Egypt to survey the dig site for any evidence of Goa'uld activity or technology the NID boys may have missed, and to dissuade Dr Rayner from attempting to publish his 'discovery' to the world."

"Without evidence, his theory won't be believed by the academic community," Daniel says uncomfortably, not making eye contact.  "However, Steven's last book got him on the bestseller list.  He could do a lot of damage with an unsubstantiated theory in a very short space of time.  He has an audience."

"I'm not comfortable about Daniel going alone, Sir," the colonel states.  Or is that understates?

"Nor am I," Teal'c agrees.

The colonel turns to me.  Damn damn damn the man.  He's going to ask me.  Time to pull out the heavy artillery.  I head over to the computer.

"Carter, you're familiar with this -"

Punch up the Mission Report and display the photograph.  Of Dr Steven Rayner.  One little click and he's there on the big screen for any jealous colonel with eyes to see.

"Osiris business -"

Brown haired, brown eyed steaming hot, young hunk.

"But you're kinda busy with those experiments right now," the colonel smoothly recovers his near misstep.

A nasty, jealous, gorgeous young hunk all alone with HIS Daniel in that big, romantic desert?  Like that's gonna happen. I'm sorely tempted to ask which 'experiments' the colonel is specifically referring to, but that would just be mean.

"So I think I'd better go with Daniel.  Just in case."

"In case of what, Jack?  This is Steven!"  Daniel is disbelieving.

Hey.  The colonel's mind might not 'go there' yet but fortunately pure unadulterated Alpha Male jealousy and protectiveness kicks right in on schedule, like Old Faithful.  One hundred percent reliable compared to the poor old conscious mind.  The colonel's frustrated libido can see 'this is Steven' just fine, thanks, Daniel, my dear.

"In case we need to lean on him.  From a great height," the colonel says grimly, quite aware he's offended Daniel yet again but still utterly determined to have his way, bless him.

I feel compelled to add a little fuel to a very promising fire.  I look uncertain.  "If you're sure you don't mind, Sir, then I'll be glad to pass on Daniel's mission.  No offence, Daniel," I grin at him, letting him know I'm teasing, "but I've got a lot of work to do on those experiments the colonel mentioned and - well - I'd only be unskilled labour on a dig."

The general's face softens as I knew it would.  He's anxious to soothe Daniel's ruffled sensibilities and soften the blow of having the colonel inflicted on him so pointedly.  "I hope the colonel appreciates what he's letting himself in for, Dr Jackson.  I hear some members of SG-11 were three feet in the air BEFORE they asked how high they were supposed to jump," he says humorously.

Daniel flushes and treats us to that enchanting, mischievous smile again.  "Once you'd established that the 'guy in charge' on an excavation was the archaeologist, everything was - um - fine." He looks down at the tabletop for a moment, then twinkles up through his lashes.  "Just fine."

It's one of his most captivating mannerisms, and has a devastating impact on the susceptible.  In other words, just about anybody who knows Daniel.  It's particularly efficacious in the case of certain tough nut hardass Air Force colonels.

We all await the colonel's reaction with interest, except Daniel, who doesn't have a mean bone in his body.  The colonel wilfully edged himself out over a chasm and the only sound he hears in the room now is the sawing of the plank he's perched himself on.  Figuratively speaking.

The general allows himself the indulgence of a smirk at the colonel’s expense and looks down for a moment too.  "How are you with a shovel, colonel?"

"Jack won't be doing any digging," Daniel pipes up, gazing distractedly into the distance.  "There's actually no place for unskilled labour on an excavation.  Though this is a site survey, not a dig as such.  Any chance you can get me ground penetrating radar, General?  The site has been fairly well documented, but I'd like to be certain there are no additional chambers in the lower levels of the temple substructure."

"You want me to hold your flashlight?" the colonel drawls witheringly, unable to hide his annoyance.

Right after this.  I swear.  I'm tailing him to his office and I'm going to give him a heads up that should take his head clean off!

Daniel gives him a cursory look.  "Ahh - we use mirrors to illuminate chambers.  Less damaging than artificial light.  I'm sure you can makes yourself useful round the camp," he adds innocently, and somewhat uncertainly.

The colonel is alarmingly rigid.  Colonel Jack O'Neill, team leader of SG-1, saviour of the Earth, chosen ambassador of the Asgard and all round hero type has just been told he can do the dishes.  Or something.  Even Dad said the colonel was lots of fun to have around.  Unless he can shoot 'Steven', which is beginning to look more of a certainty than a remote possibility, from Daniel’s point of view there's not much else the colonel can contribute.  Except - maybe – laundry?

I wonder if Janet has anything for dishpan hands?


JACK

"What is it, Carter?"

She's pacing restlessly in front of my desk, looking nervous.  She stops suddenly, facing me, standing to attention.  Focused.  Determined.

"Sir, permission to speak freely on a personal matter?"

Aww, crap.  My instinct for danger rarely fails me.  I have to suppress a groan and wearily wave for her to continue.

"You may not like what I have to say, but I honestly believe it needs to be said," Carter tells me earnestly.

Crap indeed.  I SO don't want to get into this.  Christ, I don't even want to admit it happened.  I just want to put it behind me and move on.  I'm well aware that's completely frigging spineless of me so I guess it means I'm going to have to let her have her say just to prove I'm NOT completely frigging spineless.

"Spit it out."

Not the most tactful way to invite closure but shooting her dead with barely a moment's hesitation is pretty conclusive evidence I've put those 'joyous' feelings behind me.  Gotta rankle to find out that way.

"I've been aware of your feelings for some time. I wasn't sure or I would have spoken up sooner.  It wasn't any one thing."

"What?" What the hell is she talking about?  We kinda hashed our 'thing' out in full view of most of our nearest and dearest.   Except --

"Your feelings for Daniel, Sir," Carter says firmly.

"Carter - not that it's any of your business, you understand - but Daniel and I are getting along just fine.  We don't have a problem.  He's fine.  I'm fine.  It's fine."

"Begging your pardon, Sir, it's not fine.  You're not fine," Carter is quiet but determined.

"The team - "

"This isn't about the team.  It's about YOU.  You and Daniel."

"Don't fret just because his tolerance for beer and hockey has reached its natural limit," I say dryly. "He's retreated to the sanity of a good book on cultural iconography and the joys of the History Channel."

"He's retreated, yes," Carter agrees sadly.

I can't miss her disappointment.  "Carter, for God's sake, whatever is bothering you, get it off your chest.  Once only offer."

If she's pushing at all on this 'personal' matter it's important to her.  She's my 2IC so she's entitled to a little latitude.  It's ridiculous she thinks a little distance between Daniel and me is putting any kind of strain on the team.  We have our disagreements and move on.  Period.

"You're in love with Daniel,"  Carter says gently.

I literally jerk back in my chair from the impact of those words, jaw dropping in shock as my face burns.  I try, damn me, I do try, but I can't get a single word out in response.  Just sit there pilloried, mouth helplessly opening and closing, flushed and icy cold.

"You're hurting him because you can't face the truth, and I - I helped you do it.  I didn't know then, but I know now.  I helped you to push him back to a safe, contained distance.  Such a distance he's grateful for any attention you give him, and he doesn't question it too closely.  If you'd gone on as you were, he would have seen.  You would have said or done something that crossed the line.  I wish I could help you with this, Sir, I truly do, but I've crossed the line saying as much as I have.  If I didn't care - about you both - I wouldn't have taken such a risk.  I'm putting my faith in you, that you'll make it right between you somehow.  I don't ask anything for myself.  I contributed to this and I have to help to put it right."  Carter is desperately pale but resolute.

"The truth."  A woman I told I would rather die than lose her, who I care about far more than I'm supposed to, is standing here telling me I'm in love with Daniel Jackson.

Carter’s head bows for a moment before she looks me right in the eye. "I know how you feel about Daniel, Sir.  I don't have any idea how Daniel feels about you."

Carter's eyes are bright with sympathy and understanding. She asks for permission to go and I give it.  It's only after she's gone I realise I haven't denied it.  Haven't denied being in love with Daniel.

I guess I haven't got it in me to tell a lie like that twice.

I knew the truth when I was trapped on Edora.  Not at first.  I missed him, but I missed them all.  The pain softened with every day I stayed there, but not the pain for him.  He cut me like a knife, cut deeper with every day I was apart from him.  Twisted.  I burned for him.  I fucked Laira but it was his face I dreamed of, his body beneath mine.  Willing and wanting me.  Night after night I dreamed and burned, until it was too much. Wanting and not having was driving me mad.  I couldn't go on feeling that passion.  I shut it down and shut him out.  Tried to live the life I was buried in.

When they came through for me, I would have torn that gate out with my bare hands if I'd had to.  I thought of nothing and no one but him, and as soon as I laid eyes on him I knew it was impossible.  Mourning Sha'uri, impossibly fragile.  Lost.  I couldn't burden him with my all-consuming, raging need for him.

I was afraid.  I'm still afraid. I feel more for Daniel than I've felt for anyone in my life, with the sole exception of my son.  I could walk away from Sara but I have never left Charlie.  I couldn't leave Daniel.  Yet I also couldn’t make the leap of faith, could not make myself vulnerable to Daniel, open myself to the potential for love - and loss.  All I could do - all I have done - is try to get him to leave me.

The battle has raged for months.  He won't give up on me, no matter how hard I push or how dirty I fight.  Determined to hold me to doing the right thing, he’s fought on and on, ignoring the distance between us until it overwhelmed him.  I finally got my wish.  He surrendered.  Accepted this is the way things will be.  The most important person in my life is Carter.  He has to just suck it up and get on with his life.  His solitary life of the mind. I've been telling myself that Daniel not being happy is not the same as Daniel being unhappy, because it's easier on me than owning I've isolated him and turned him back in on himself and his own resources.  Easier not to see him outside of work, see how alone he is.

I don't want to face the fact he's lonely.  I seduced him into believing I'd always be there for him.  Proved I loved him over and over until little by little he let down his guard and trusted, let me in.  Gave me everything I needed to hurt him the most.  His own inner resources just aren't enough for him anymore.  He's learned to not stand apart.  He learned to let me close and when I got too close and shut him down, he'd already surrendered the defence mechanism that would once have protected him.

Easier on me for Carter to think I didn't have a frigging clue than it is for her to learn I not only KNEW, but used everything I could think of to deny it, keep him at a safe distance, controlled.  Easier on me, easier on her.

Not easy on him, but then nothing ever is.


In what I have to think of as his natural habitat, Daniel is quite a sight to see.  His own unique brand of shy, sincere charm coupled with terrifying fluency in Arabic got us through customs faster than Uncle Sam could manage with gunships.  I'm pretty sure the customs supremo was offering to bear Daniel's children from the way he was circling Daniel warily  - because of me - and drooling.

Not that I blame him.  I'm no stranger to intense erotic fantasies about Daniel myself, and seeing him in his archaeology get up is giving me a permanent hard-on.  Kind of a gentle, persistent ache of desire.  Liveable.  And I sincerely hope not noticeable.  If he looked like this around Carter and Fraiser without getting ravished, they're better men than me.  Battered brown leather boots that look years old.  Cream coloured chinos that emphasise slender hips and flat stomach.  Making the roof of my mouth as dry as this desert.  Cream shirt, baring the hollow at the base of his throat.  Archaeology by Gap.  Everything fits him perfectly.  Like a second skin.  Got me thinking way too much about all the actual skin those duds are concealing, hence the not unpleasant ache currently letting me know I'm alive, shit scared and so crazy in love with this man he'd be running screaming over the dunes as fast and as far as he could if he had the faintest clue.

He did me in on the flight over.  Disarmed me completely.  Had one too many nights burning the midnight translation oil and fell asleep with his head just naturally settling on my shoulder.  I sat there trying to make him as comfortable as a bony shoulder would allow, glaring down the air crew.  Complete pushover?  That's complete pushover, SIR.

I hate that Daniel doesn't bear grudges.  Carter called it better than she knew.  Once he was over the first shock of finding out what this Rayner guy was up to, that the whole sorry business wasn't dead and buried behind him, he got to thinking about the good points.  Namely a little quality time with his best friend, doing something interesting, useful and non-violent - present company excepted - at which he can shine.  Said best friend is bending over backwards to be sensitive and sympathetic, egged on by a stern talking to by his sympathetic 2IC.  Sympathetic to Daniel, mostly.

Carter was nearly in tears when I sidled into her lab and owned up some of the truth at least.  She was scared shitless she'd blown it for me, for Daniel.  For us.  She's got backbone, unlike a dumb-ass colonel we could both name.  Bless her, she's got some sweet idea that the romance of archaeology, the fragrant desert night, the stars, the campfire and a little kindness on my part will have Daniel hurling himself into my arms.

Don't tell me how weird it is to be even remotely hinting to an attractive woman that the thought of a full, varied and vigorous sex life with a beautiful man has ever so much as crossed your mind.  I'm not in the habit of talking about my intimately personal life with anyone, and certainly wasn't prepared for Carter to forget she was talking to Cro Magnon Colonel and lay some practical advice on me.  Not the actual sex, Jeez, I can handle that, but about - well  - wooing Daniel.

I staggered out blushing like a schoolgirl, more embarrassed than I've been in my entire life, and scared almost beyond the capacity for rational thought.  Apparently, Daniel is pretty near the embodiment of the feminine ideal.  He can communicate.  He can empathise.  He's sensitive.  He's - nice.  This is rare and precious in any male, and must be nurtured and protected selflessly, not used to get him naked and horizontal.

I have the unshakeable conviction I'm falling way short of the mark.  Carter might be saying woo but I'm thinking ambush.  Carter wants me to communicate.  By recent standards, if Daniel can get through an entire sentence without me biting his head off, we're communicating.  I'm way better at inarticulate silence but I swore I'd give it my best shot.

The attitude adjustment I'm doing better with.  I had endless reserves of patience and tolerance for Charlie, and I used to have them for Daniel.  I'm tapping into them now, and so far a lot of kindness has gotten me a numb shoulder courtesy of the big sleep on the flight over.

It's also gotten me a white knuckle jeep ride through the dunes courtesy of one fairly staggered archaeologist.  I actually suggested Daniel drive, being familiar with the terrain and all that.  Since he was braced for a losing fight along those exact lines, and he was already completely embarrassed about snuggling up on my shoulder in front of a lot of judgemental airmen, not unnaturally he hasn't had a single word to say to me for quite some time.  He's still waiting for the shoe to drop, I think.  However, he is smiling warmly at me whenever we aren't actively doing a controlled slither down a dune.

Warm, puzzled silence is way better than hostile silence, and I've established intimate proximity with me doesn't make him physically sick, at least not when he's unconscious. All in all, I'm making steady progress.

Daniel is handling the jeep like a pro.  He's completely wasted on a road.  I'd love to get him out rally driving some time, if he can drive this well on shifting sand.  It takes hellish concentration and physical strength and it would seem he’s got both to burn.

"Jack!" Daniel yells above the din.  "What is it!"

Crap.  I'm staring.  Staring at him.

"Just thinking!" I howl.  Mostly thinking I'd like to throw you down beneath me and lick you all over.

"Don't hurt yourself!" Daniel cheekily sticks out his tongue at me for emphasis.

Can you sprain your tongue?  That's something I'd like to destruct test on Daniel's naked, willing body.

"Don't watch me, watch the damn dune!" I yelp back as we start another of those slithering descents.


DANIEL

Oh dear.  Oh dear, oh dear.

This is SO not good.  Jack is having one of his ‘bad’ days.  One of his totally focused, physically aware of my every move days.  He’s so excited by my proximity, I swear, his tongue is either hanging out or just spending a lot of time licking his lips.  I refuse to get excited.  There’s no point.  He’ll never do anything about it.

I’ve just about given up on being in love with him.  There’s no point to that either.  Chalk that one up to my list of negative life experiences which, as they say, if they don’t kill you, only make you stronger.  Character building experiences.  Thank you but no.  No more.  My character has had all the building it can take.  I will unhappily settle for being good old Daniel and for the friendly colleague’s box he’s tucked me neatly into.

It’s utterly ridiculous.

I’m in love with Jack.  I’ve fantasised desperately about making love with Jack.  I don’t get particularly far, true, my imagination usually gives out on me just as it gets really exciting, but I have fantasised.  I’ve fantasised so much I’m even more nervous and confused about physical intimacy than I was when I first realised I was in love with Jack.

Unlike Jack, who gives the impression on his ‘bad’ days he just wants to throw me down and fuck me through the floor, yet he’s never given the least hint of having any feelings for me whatsoever.

I thought – or perhaps, I hoped – I sensed something had changed between us when he returned from Edora.  Wishful thinking, I suppose.  We went on being friends for a while, but Jack hasn’t been the same since the mission to destroy the Replicators on Thor’s ship.  It took me a while longer to work out why, though.

I was desperately trying to work through all that confusion, work out what I was feeling, trying to rationalise feeling physical desire for my best friend when my appendix burst.  I was sidelined.  If I’d been told Jack asking to see my scar and wanting me to go fishing was pretty much the last gasp of a friendship that means as much to me as the brief time I had with my parents, or the time I had with Sha’uri, I would have been utterly incredulous.

I didn’t do anything.  I swear.  I didn’t say or do one single thing to make him uncomfortable.  As soon as he realised he wanted to have sex with me, Jack stopped touching me.  He shut me down and then he shut me out.  He turned to Sam.  Do either of them honestly think I wouldn’t work out what had happened?  That word wouldn’t get out no matter how careful they thought they’d been?  I still feel physically sick when I recall the smirk on Jack’s face as he looked at Sam on the day the time loop finally ended for him.

We limped along for a while.  I mean, Jack pulled out all the stops to rescue me from the Unas, but that could just as easily have been down to professionalism.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt until P3R-118.  Saw the evidence with my own eyes.  A little blurry, but I got the picture.  I dreamed of him and he was snuggled up with her, right in front of me.  I’m glad I didn’t embarrass myself more than I did, blurting out all that nonsense about the dreams.  We were supposed to be best friends, but he knocked me on my ass and followed her around like a lost puppy.

That was that.  I’m straight. Jack’s ‘bad’ days aside, he’s straight.  I can’t compete with Sam, and I refuse to humiliate myself by trying. I’ve got no experience whatsoever of trying to attract a man.  I do the friendly colleague thing in public and stay the hell away from him if I can.  Lately, even being on the team seems too close.  I’m not without options.  I could have SG-5 or SG-11.  Forget about Jack, first contact and SG-1.  I could still see Teal’c on base if I wanted to.  He’s the only one I want to see, some days.  MY bad days.

Jack is sitting in the passenger seat, hanging on for grim life, undressing me with his eyes, fantasising.  When he smiles at me, I smile back.  Why do I do that?  Why?

Some nights I have to fight myself not to pick up the phone and tell him to get his ass over to my apartment and put us both out of his misery.  If he could get this terrible desire out of his system, he might leave me alone.  That’s the best I can hope for.  I’ve stopped dreaming of us being together.  Stopped fantasising about making love.  I just want to be left alone.  There isn’t much friendship left to salvage.  We can’t be friends while he’s going crazy wanting me, and if I give him what he wants he’ll lose all respect for me and the friendship is over regardless.

He’s been so kind today.  He’s disarmed me.  Again.  I’m so susceptible.  I’ve stopped wanting.  I haven’t stopped feeling.  Or hoping. I try to be a mensch.  If he reaches out, I’m here for him.  Still his friend, even if all he wants me to be is ‘friendly’.  If he wanted to make that leap of faith, want more than sex from me, he could.  I’ve done nothing whatsoever to make him believe I think any less of him than I ever have.

He hasn’t made that leap of faith, and I don’t think he will.  He can rationalise his feelings, shove them and me in a box on the sidelines, because he doesn’t feel enough.  I’m not enough.

I KNOW this.  So why am I sitting here smiling at him?  Desperate to give him that one last chance, the one I swear will BE the last every single time, until he throws me another friendship bone and I give him another last chance.

Hell.  I know why.  I’m the original Comeback Kid.  Death can’t keep me down and I’m damned if Jack O’Neill will.

I’ve grasped that sometimes winning battles is down to the terrain you fight over.  Impossible to get Jack to ‘fess up like a man that maybe, just maybe he cares for me, not  when Sam and Teal’c are right there, breathing down our necks.  Equally impossible for me to just go over to his place and throw myself at him.  I don’t want him to catch me, and I think he would.  I don’t want to be an itch that finally gets scratched.

We’re going to be out here all alone.  The customs officials are going to get creative and detain Steven when he does arrive in Egypt, and our people will let us know in the event. Jack can’t leave me and he can’t hide behind anyone else.  One honest reaction from Jack, that’s all I need.  Is he thinking sex or – or love?

All I can think to do is turn up the heat and see what happens when I bring him to the boil.


Jack automatically moved past me and down the stairs of the tomb.  Always has to be first. Always has to be cautious.  I can do that, but I can’t be that.  What is instinctual for Jack takes conscious thought and effort on my part.  The tomb is empty.  That may be an assumption on my part, but it’s likely to be correct.  Jack doesn’t assume.  Assumptions get his ‘kids’ hurt, captured, killed.  Jack checks and double checks, makes certain.

I watch his six.  Oh boy do I.  It’s damnably unfair that Colonel Jack O’Neill, USAF, is so – HOT.  His idea of appropriate desert apparel turned out to be jeans laundered to butter softness and a soft blue grey.  The T-shirt is pale grey too.  Cool, light and comfortable.  Clinging to every long, lean, strong inch of him, including his – six.  All he’s doing is walking carefully down a flight of stairs and he’s got me dazed with desire.

I follow meekly along behind him like a puppy on a leash.  Coveting.  His spine.  I think of my fingers digging into his shoulders as he moves above me, then slowly stroking down the length of his spine, making him lose control.

I think he’s a gentle lover.  I dream of him that way.  I saw how he was with Sara that time, how comforting and tender he was with her.  Unselfish.  Taking his time, using that strong back to – to –

Jack stops in the middle of the main chamber and looks around intently before striding over to the altar.

“This is where you were ribboned.”

“Um – how do you know that?”

“I read the report,” Jack says casually, still looking around.

He can visualise the whole thing from the report?  He’s got the exact spot I was dangling from Osiris’ grip.  “What about Sam?  Janet?”

“Over there somewhere,” Jack waves a vague hand at the wall to the left of the – I suppose you could call it Osiris’ armoury – altar and heads purposefully off into the stairwell down to the next level to check that out too.  He’s got his flashlight on but I’ll get him to help me set up the field lights when he’s confident no threat is lurking down there.  I wouldn’t consider it if we weren’t dealing with smooth, bare stone.  No inscriptions or glyphs to damage.

He – he didn’t seem to have quite such a precise fix on Sam’s location as he did on mine, for some reason.  Probably not the reason I’d like to hope it was, namely that he was more interested in the specifics of my  - um – contribution to Osiris’ entertainment.  I say Osiris because the Sarah I once knew was never really with me.  Just Osiris, ransacking Sarah’s memories and using them against me.

Sarah’s loss is muted ache in this place, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t coping with it.  I feel deep pity for Sarah’s plight, knowing she’s a hostage inside her own mind, knowing the atrocities she will unwillingly witness.  I will do everything in my power to help free her from Osiris if we ever have the opportunity.  If.  I guess I’m a little more pragmatic, or maybe a lot more realistic than I used to be.  I’m – aware – of Sarah, but I’m far more conscious of an infuriatingly obtuse and stubborn Air Force colonel and of the job I have to do here to wallow in memories.

I have access to all the equipment I require, courtesy of George.  I just have to say the word and anything I need will be choppered out to us ASAP.  Jack was all for choppering us out here too, but I vetoed that.  We really need to be instantly mobile.  A sandstorm could ground any chopper and if we did have any reason to need to get out of here in a hurry, the wait could kill us.  Literally.

I while away the time awaiting Jack’s return first by hauling down the table and some of the equipment, then by half- heartedly looking over the site surveys, trying to stop myself panicking completely every time I try to come up with ways and means of bringing Jack to the boil without making a complete idiot of myself.  Just because I can’t see any way to accomplish one without the other, doesn't mean there isn’t one.

This temple was thoroughly surveyed, by the original Stewart Expedition.  I’m not expecting to find anything that survey missed, but I know how meticulous Steven will be in his investigation and I must be sure.  I think Jack will get a kick out the ground penetrating radar equipment.  It’s not exactly an MP5, but it should help to drag his mind away from his usual knee jerk pith helmet view of archaeology.  We have toys of our own.  If he asks nicely, I’ll let him play.

I’ve put out a camp chair for Jack to sit in and annoy me from.  It’s the only way to be sure where he is at all times and what he’s doing.  I don’t want him damaging my temple.

The Expedition records actually do make fascinating reading.  It’s rare indeed in Egyptology to find an undisturbed site.  The locals have usually cleaned out a site decades or even centuries before any archaeologist gets anywhere near it.  We’re rarely talking buried treasure.  Finding it here suggests to me some sort of security was in place to protect the site.  Superstition does not supersede greed.  Something kept the locals away.  The Stewart Expedition staff knew nothing about the Goa’uld, and I have to wonder what they made of the fact the site hadn’t been disturbed in millennia.

One of the most frustrating things for me when I was trying to prove my original theory about the age of the pyramids was the lack of physical evidence.  Early archaeology was crude.  Sites were destroyed in order that they might be plundered.  There was little concern for analysis or interpretation, just the fierce joy of discovery.  There was no time for the methodical unpeeling of layer upon layer of the past until archaeology ceased to be a source of romance and became a science.  A site such as this would have been a gift to me.  The stratification would have proved conclusively how long the structure had been in existence, with signs of cultural transformation five thousand years earlier than my peers were prepared to accept.

“Whatcha doin?” Jack’s cheerful voice rings out behind me, making me jump.  He eyes the chair in a speculative ‘where’s the dry martini, then?’ sort of way and settles himself down.

I wait patiently for my cue, but the shoe refuses to drop.  I’m slightly disconcerted, give him a wary look that earns me a blinding smile.  I’m smiling back before I know it, feeling a little more confident.  Jack is in his best mood and on his best behaviour.  Maybe we’ll get through the next few days without him resorting to withering sarcasm or the vilification of my vocation because it isn’t exciting enough for him.

“Um – just reading the reports of the Stewart Expedition.  They’re fascinat – “ I bite off the words.  He’s not interested, always shuts me –

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are they fascinating?”

“Oh!” Jack wants to know.  He actually – wants – to know.  I think I need to sit down.  This is by way of being a calendar event, Jack asking me to elaborate.  I don’t sit down.  Instead I turn back to my table, plant my elbows, and present him with an eyeful of the Jackson derriere.  Too much to hope it will instantly inspire him to take a handful of said derriere, but I’ll give it my best shot.

There’s an awful lot of silence behind me, faintly punctuated by some rapid, shallow breathing.  Heartened by signs I’ve already engaged Jack’s interest, I decide to make him simmer a little.  I’ve got papers spread out all over the table.  I could stand up and reach them, but it’s much more fun to just lean.  Or maybe sway.  Basically, I’m keeping my rear in constant, gentle motion as I give Jack an interesting little lecture about the history of archaeology and the importance of scientific methods in field excavation.  He takes it like a lamb.  I stop the swaying every time I reach a natural break in the monologue, at which point it becomes a dialogue, Jack earnestly requesting me to continue.  I graciously consent and get right back to the swaying.  When I think Jack just can’t take any more on the enthralling subject of relative and absolute dating, I decide to take pity on him AND go out on a high note.  There’s one elusive file right across the other side of the table.  I lean over and sort of sprawl myself wantonly across the tabletop.  I hear a heart rending groan from behind me.

“I’m – I – tent!” a strangled voice barely recognisable as Jack’s grinds out.  By the time I’ve straightened up and turned to face him, he’s bolting up the stairs three at a time.

With something of a shock, I realise Jack O’Neill is afraid of me.  This is FUN.  I’m not absolutely positive, but the rapidity of Jack’s retreat suggests he’s in dire need of some privacy.  And a cooling off period.  Ah, well.  Into every life a little pain must fall.

What he’s going to get is a lot of intimate proximity and a talk about penetration.


JACK

I can’t take much more.  After Daniel’s tasteful, scholarly, fully clothed, rear view only version of the Dance of the Seven Veils, I hauled ass out of that tomb like a bat out of hell, desperate to take care of some extremely pressing business behind the nearest dune.

Now he’s in my arms and that urgent business is pressing right into his exquisitely firm, pert and perfect buttocks.  He’s blithely lecturing me on this radar gizmo.  There’s not a hope in hell I’ll be able to use this thing.  I haven’t heard one word in ten.  All this roaring in my ears.  My blood supply is so dangerously low I’m feeling faint.

“For MAXIMUM penetration, placing the  - antennas - at discrete positions -- ”

I’m breathing hard.  Sweating.  His silky hair is brushing against my cheek, his throat is so close the slightest turn of my head and I could lick it.

“ -- and doing multiple  - scans - in that position.”

Jesus.  He’s totally oblivious, every little wriggle of his butt sending shocks of pleasure through my groin.

“ -- this is a slow method -- the velocity at which the  - antennas - can be moved is determined -- ”

He’s talking a lot of incomprehensible gibberish about wavelengths and radargrams.  The only fucking word I hear is penetration.

Warm skin.  The scent of him.  Hands gentle over mine, steadying the equipment.

“Care must always be taken to ensure that station-spacing is close enough to give  - sufficient -- ”

Soft, dreamy voice lulling me.  Sex.  I’m having sex.  Aural sex.

“-- spatial  - resolution.”

Sensory overload is killing me.  I’ve going down to the wire and when I hit it, I’ll be coming.

“What is the maximum penetration required?”

Want to be buried to the root --

“What is the minimum object size that needs to be resolved?”

In your virgin derriere --

“What is the minimum spatial resolution required?”

Want it.  Don’t need it.  Just standing here holding you is doing it for me, Danny.  Oh GOD is it.

I pull away.  “Call o’ nature.”  Then I stalk stiffly over the crest of the nearest dune, slither down it on my ass, wait a beat for signs of pursuit, unzip my fly, and desperately jerk off, coming hard within moments, screaming his name behind my stifling hand.

He’s KILLING me.

When I do finally hobble back to the top of the dune, Daniel is nowhere in sight.  Given me up as a bad job.  Joke.  Whatever.  He must be wondering what the hell is going on.  I’m a frigging pilot, for God’s sake.  I should be able to operate that stupid radar gizmo blindfold.  What the hell am I supposed to say?  ‘Sorry, Daniel.  Could you run through that again for me, from the top?  I was just a little distracted by the orgasm I was having, first time round’.

Yeah.  That’ll work.

I should be helping him set up the field lights so he can work in there, but I can’t.  It’s not safe to be that close to him, not yet.  I’ll be better in a while, when my heated skin has cooled and the smell of sex has blown off me.  He deserves better than me slobbering all over him and jerking off behind the dunes with his face in my mind and his name on my lips.  Fucking voyeur.

I wearily set to the only useful thing I can do, which is to set up the camp in the spot Daniel said would be safest.  He thinks the dunes are stable, but it’s as well to be sure.  If any kind of storm blows up, we take refuge in the tomb.  Safer for him than the goddamn tent.


For pity’s sake, Daniel, must you sit so close?

With a whole three hundred and sixty degrees to choose from, Daniel has decided the only place he’s comfortable at this campfire is right next to me.  I can feel the warmth of his thigh against mine every time he shifts position.  The softness of skin as our arms brush.  He’s taken off his glasses as the sun sets and having those huge, beguiling eyes gazing into mine is not helping.  Not one bit.

“It’s astonishing how much the Goa’uld occupation has imprinted on the human psyche.  Listen to this. ‘Unas hath weighted his words with the hidden god who hath no name, on the day of hacking in pieces the firstborn. Unas is the lord of offerings, the untier of the knot, and he himself maketh abundant the offerings of meat and drink. Unas devoureth men and liveth upon the gods, he is the lord of envoys, whom he sendeth forth on his missions. He who cutteth off hairy scalp, who dwelleth in the fields, tieth the gods with ropes’.”

“Unas?”  Big stinky monster Unas?

“Unbelievable, isn’t it?  That’s one of the inscriptions in the Pyramid Texts inscribed on the inner walls of the pyramids at Saqqara.  Old Kingdom, two and half thousand years BC according to –“

“Everyone but you,” I smile at him.  He smiles back.  Too close.  WAY too close.  So – so beautiful.  He could sit here by my side smiling at me this way and read me the Yellow Pages and I wouldn’t murmur a word of protest.

“I estimated five thousand years old, but even so, that myth, that tradition was passed down through the oral traditions of the people, and in the earliest writing systems.  Our ancestors tried to warn us of the danger we were in, but we couldn’t hear them.  Got another one for you.  ‘The roaring tempest drives him, it roars like Seth. The guardians of Heaven's parts open the doors of Heaven for him. Dawning as a falcon, he reaches the celestial realm of Ra on the Imperishable Star and is placed on the throne of Osiris. His lifetime is eternity, its limit everlastingness.’  From the pyramid of King Pepi, who died in 2255BC.   Everything we needed to know was right here.  Even the fact the Egyptians always depicted their Sun Gods with blue eyes to denote the race they came from.  The race of the Gods, the obsession with ascension into the heavens to rejoin Ra.”

“Glowing eyes?  Goa’uld.”

“That’s why this work is so important, Jack,” Daniel insists, laying a compelling hand over mine.  Which is on my knee.  Which is too – don’t go there, O’Neill.  Once was already once too often.  “I know you resent the time I spend away from SG-1, I know it inconveniences you, but there’s so much work to be done, and so few of us to do it we can barely scratch the surface.  You have to understand that?” he pleads, voice softening even more.

“Whatever you want, Danny,” I say more softly still, leaning in close, close enough to – to – Daniel’s lips parting --

“Jack?” a whisper.

Close enough to kiss.

“Sleep!” I yelp, making Daniel rear back from me in shock.  “Have to sleep now. G’night.”

“Good night, Jack,” Daniel says quietly as I leap to my feet and stride off.  When I look back, his head is bowed.

I’m a bastard.  What am I?  It’s not Daniel’s fault I want to throw him down and kiss him senseless before I do a lot of other – things – HOT things.  NO.  Stop.  Enough already.  He’s going to be lying next to me, sleeping, as soon as he gets over the latest kick in the ass I’ve just given him.


Where is he?  Where the HELL is Daniel?  It’s three am for God’s sake.  I scramble out of my sleeping bag.  His is still in its roll.  He hasn’t slept in it. I duck out of the tent, flashlight sweeping the camp.  Not by the fire or anywhere near by.  I pick my way carefully down the dune and check out the jeep.  Nothing.  Which just leaves door number three.  The tomb.

I cannot believe he’s burning the midnight oil here, too.  Take my eyes off him for two minutes and he pulls a dumb-ass stunt like this.  There’s fuck all here to worry about, even I can see that.  He wants to play with his toys and bend my ear about archaeology for a couple days, that’s fine by me.  I’ll beat seven kinds of shit out of this Rayner guy if he turns up, then we book, straight back to clean sheets, comfortable beds and Showtime.

I take my time down the stairs, no point breaking my neck.  It might solve this huge problem I currently got, being caught between the devil and my 2IC, but frankly it’s a little extreme even for me as a short term solution.

As soon as the main chamber opens up in front of me I see the faint glow of the lantern, tucked away behind the farthest pillar from the entrance.  Somehow, I don’t think he’s working.

My heart sickeningly skips a beat.  He knows.  My God.  He knows I was going to kiss him.  Daniel KNOWS.  What do I do now?  What the hell do I do?  Feelings.  I was supposed to deal with the feelings first.  Not the sex.  The feelings.  Simple instructions.  Clear.

Show some backbone.

Forty four year old career Air Force dumb-ass hard-ass wise-ass gotta stand there and convince a man like Daniel – Daniel Jackson! - not to laugh in my face when I tell him I’ve been a complete bastard to him because I’m so fucking spineless I blamed him for making me fall in love with him.  And, yeah, if he’s struggling to pick out the upbeat subliminal message there, it’s I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU.  Not to worry though, I won’t let your compassion hit me in the ass on my way out your door.

Get in line for that one.

He’s not laughing.

I hear a soft noise I haven’t heard since Charlie – since – Crying.  He hit twelve and suddenly it wasn’t manly to cry.  All he’d allow himself were these tiny muffled hints of suppressed misery, fist stuffed in his mouth, trying to physically choke back the sobs. Same muted sounds here.  I made Daniel CRY.  Fuck’s sake.  Way to go, O’Neill.  HAPPY now?

I switch off the flashlight as the beam wavers.  Hands shaking a little, here.  Try to work out what to do.  Never crossed my mind it might just be a tad difficult for Daniel coming back here to shake hands with a shit load of bad memories.  I don’t know much about this Sarah of his, and grilling Carter for intel got me zip.  Daniel might have talked to her, but neither of them talked to me.

It’s not just that.  He’s been through the mill recently, what with the Harsesis turning up outta the blue like that, the whole addiction thing.  I’d been comforting myself the intensity of my own reaction in the Infirmary was entirely down to the addiction until Carter marched in and took my self-absorption out at the knees.  I feel as much for Daniel as I ever did, more maybe.  He’s been so miserable it took him out onto his balcony, ready to jump.  Feelings blown way out of proportion by the withdrawal, but still, THERE.

Me blowing hot and cold here is not helping.  If he’d wanted to talk to me about Sarah, about anything, he would have come into the tent.  He didn’t, and now I think I should respect his privacy.  I can’t talk about my feelings with him, always trail off into silence, incoherent apologies and intense looks at the ceiling or something.  Normally I’d hug him, but at the moment the natural place for him to be hugged is flat on his back beneath me, preferably naked and begging me to – BAD idea.  Bad.

Only thing I can think to do is book, and not let on I was ever here.  He’s not reacted to my presence at all, so I figure it’s safe to walk quietly away.  I’ll just have to be sure to lay on the welcome wagon tomorrow – later – and see if I can’t coax him to come to me.


I got no sleep whatsoever after I left Daniel alone in the tomb.  He finally crept into the tent at around four am, knelt beside me for a few minutes, then crawled into his sleeping bag and went out like a light.  I’d like to think he was looking at me, but I guess he was just unrolling his sleeping bag as quietly as possible.  He’s been well trained to be considerate of others.  I don’t like to think about why or how too much, though I can’t help thinking as a foster kid he had to learn how to hit the ground running if he was to have any hope of sticking around.  Daniel is infinitely resourceful, adaptable and independent.

There isn’t a hint from him this morning that he was up half the night fretting, but I guess he’s used to functioning in a near permanent state of sleep deprivation.  He’s been hard at it with the radar gizmo most of the morning, I’ve been hard at it sitting on my ass, teasing the shit out of him and generally watching him like a hawk.  And asking some very specific questions Daniel was more than happy to answer.

We’re expecting company.  Daniel caught me red handed after breakfast, on the horn with Hammond.  Rayner arrived in Egypt in the early hours of the morning and was promptly detained by the authorities.  I was in full flow, suggesting the general suggest they keep right on detaining the schmo when Daniel walked right up close, laid his hand on my arm, and batted his eyes at me.  What with the soft voice and all, I was so captivated I completely lost the thread of my rant and just nodded when he suggested it was better to air problems, meet them head on and didn’t I agree, Jack.  Yep, sure, you betcha.  He also had to point out the general couldn’t hear me nodding, which involved whispering into my ear so I wasn’t embarrassed in front of my commanding officer.  I was somewhat – embarrassed – in front of my archaeologist, but I’m starting to get used to THAT.

Daniel is convinced a rational archaeologist to archaeologist talk will do the trick.  Persuade Rayner to back off and forget about what happened.  Forget what little he remembers, which isn’t much.  He’s got some memory loss as a result of the head injury he sustained in the attack.  Apparently, he remembers turning the key that unlocked the altar deal, so he remembers a glimpse of the Goa’uld technology and not much else.  Daniel’s hoping gentle persuasion will work but I’m betting I have to lean on this guy.  I got a strategy, thanks to the information Daniel gave me.  And snacks.

“Daniel? Romantic picnic for two?  Sit on my lap, let me nibble on you?  Pretty please?”

Chances of him saying yes are slim to none, about the same odds as his chances of hearing me through headphones and ground penetrating radar  - er – penetrating.   Damn thing sounds like R2-D2.  “DANIEL!  EAT!”  Daniel hunches an impatient shoulder.  “NOW!”  I assist him in making the informed choice by firmly but kindly removing the headphones from his head and the radar from his grasp. There is a brief, heated argument between my conscience and my libido, libido winning by a mile, so I keep hold of his hand and haul him rapidly up the stairs and into the sunlit main chamber hoping it comes off as stern and parental.  He doesn’t object at all, though he does look surprised when he takes in the setting.  Yeah.  I’m a pushover.  Got the food all laid out where he can sit with the sunlight streaming down on his back and I can watch and gloat.  There’s no rule says you can’t be a ROMANTIC voyeuristic asshole.

“I cooked,” I tell him proudly, reluctantly letting go of his hand and graciously permitting him to get more than two steps from my side.

“I can see,” Daniel admires.  “You opened the cans and everything.”

So it’s not exactly cordon bleue, but I did my best, and we do have snacks.  And coffee.  Meticulously prepared to Daniel’s exacting specifications.  He never says the coffee is wonderful, but he has much to say if it isn’t.  Carter and I make superb coffee, we’re both well aware we’re dealing with a sensitive and educated palette.  This is premium Colombian roast; organic, ethical, expensive.  Boy is it expensive.  Carter contributed too, dug deep in her desk and came up with some quality Daniel snacks.  Belgian chocolate.  As in, chocolate FROM Belgium.

Daniel loves chocolate.  I love that Daniel loves chocolate.  He nibbles gently.  Savours.  Closes dreamy eyes.  Makes spine tingling soft murmurs of appreciation.  Mmm.  With Belgian chocolate from Belgium, I’m expecting the works.  Which is why he’ll get his chocolate little and often.  Can’t use up all those ecstatic little moans in one sitting.

I’ve got information to finesse out of Daniel.  Kinda got an idea of the way I can play Rayner when Daniel’s appeals to his better nature fall flat.  Looking forward to it.  The SOB was at Daniel’s swansong lecture, the one that ended his career and brought him to me.  He’s kinda the Salieri to Daniel’s Mozart, a no doubt talented archaeologist who’s had to malinger on the periphery while Daniel’s genius held centre stage.  He might be the one in the Porsche but I’m betting he knows in his bones which of them is the better scholar.  Rayner is  so eaten up with jealousy and resentment he was still giving Daniel hell even though for all he knew, Daniel’s career was in the toilet.  He tried to pin the blame for the curator’s death on Daniel, did his best to destroy the evidence that would have vindicated Daniel and came here expressly to steal the credit for Daniel’s work, by making the discovery.

Oh yes, I’m looking forward to meeting this guy.  Carter’s only regret about not being here was she was deprived of the opportunity to kick some major Rayner butt, and Teal’c would like to zat him where he stands.  I got no fault to find with that.  Since Hammond refused to let me cross international borders with a zat gun, I’ll have to settle for messing with the guy’s mind.  Royally.

“Daniel?   Been thinking -- ”

“Again?” Daniel looks up from the macaroni and cheese he’s stoically chewing his way through, “I’m not sure I can take the excitement.  That’s twice in two days.”

“I’m shootin’ for the record,” I say dryly, desperately ignoring the treacherous pang shooting through my groin as Daniel’s eyes sparkle at me.  I don’t succeed very well, and I also forget what I was going to say.  I certainly forget to say it or anything else as Daniel abandons his entrée and throws himself wholeheartedly into his dessert.

He’s – licking.  Melted chocolate.  Fingers. Tongue. Help.


DANIEL

He was going to kiss me.  He came so close to just taking my mouth, and then he – saw – me.  Froze and bolted.  Almost knocked me on my ass on the way past.  I took the hint.  Let him be.

I passed a miserable night.  I was so aroused, I was afraid to be anywhere near him.  Erotic dreams in adjacent sleeping bags? When I get excited, I – I moan.  I ARCH.  I’m prepared to do a lot of things for Jack O’Neill, but solo arching for his edification and entertainment is NOT one of them.  He doesn’t get to see me arch unless he’s the one causing it.  And I’m talking hands on, not vicariously.

Exhaustion beat me.  As soon as I stopped working, I started thinking.  Feeling.  Bravado is easy in daylight.  Cracking my tough nut colonel is wicked and rewarding.  At three in the morning, it’s terrifying.  If he doesn’t feel for me what I feel for him, or if he does and he won’t admit it, then all I will accomplish with this is ending our friendship.  It’s all - or nothing.

I reached my lowest ebb in the early hours of the morning, frozen with indecision.  Unsure which would hurt me more.  Wanting or – or having.  Was it damned if I do and damned if I don’t?  In the end, all I could think, over and over, was if Jack is worth having, he’s worth fighting for.  I may be scared to death, I may be going down, but at least I’m going to go down fighting.

Jack wants a piece of my ass?  He’s gonna have to earn it.  Starting now.  Chocolate melts at body temperature.  It’s pure sensuous indulgence.  Something you can’t adequately explain to those who don’t love chocolate.  You can however graphically demonstrate if you set your mind to it.  I’m setting mine good and hard.  Rather like an increasingly prominent part of Jack’s anatomy, as I dreamily suckle melting chocolate from the tips of my fingers.  With closed eyes and the occasional murmur of appreciation.  I’m trying for subtle and seductive.

Jack’s breathing sounds a little ragged, so perhaps I should crank it up a bit?  A little light licking.  Eyes open.  Watch him stare at my tongue as I lick slowly up my index finger for that last elusive taste of chocolate.  I smile at him.  Jack puts his tongue back in his mouth and smiles right back.  There’s a tiny shift in position, a readying, as if he’s about to lean forward.  I’m right here, Jack.  All you have to do is reach out and -- Jack’s eyes shift past me and narrow, icing over.

“Now I know what you’ve been doing for the last five years, Daniel,” Steven’s angry voice snaps from behind me.  “Or should I say who?” he drawls contemptuously.

We rise to our feet as Steven lopes down the steps towards us.  Wonder of wonders, I’m not blushing for once.  Jack is the one who is flushed, but I don’t think it’s from embarrassment.  He looks me over searchingly and his lips tighten.

“I guess he’s the reason you haven’t applied for a single research grant I could discover,” Steven continues in that cuttingly contemptuous tone.

He’s too close to Jack to be using a tone like that, implying what he’s implying.  The same PLANET is probably too close for Steven to be to Jack right now, given Steven has just called me a whore in all but name.  Charming.

“Dr Steven Rayner,” he informs Jack brusquely, sticking out his hand. “Oriental Institute, Chicago.”

It never hurts to propitiate potential backers, eh, Steven?

Jack slips his own hands into his pockets and thoughtfully regards Steven’s outstretched hand for a moment.  Then he smiles.  If I was Steven, I’d be taking several steps back from that smile.   Rapid steps.  Jack is about to happen to him.

“Jack,” he says sardonically, “Idle dilettante.”

I'm guessing that the attraction arcing between Jack and I must have been in the kilowatt range for Steven to not only pick up on it immediately, but to challenge me on it.  It looks as if Sam was correct.  Steven remains as self-absorbed and ambitious as ever he was.  Only now, without Professor Jordan's watchful eye on him, Steven isn't afraid to show it, lashing out with the most cutting insult he can offer.

Unfortunately for Steven, I recognise the tactic.  I've seen Jack do the same thing.  If your position is weak, go on the offensive.  Both Jack and Steven have complete mastery over the difficult art of going on the offensive and being offensive at one and the same time.

Of course, since my role is usually little archaeologist lost, I'm guessing I'm supposed to just wither up and die of humiliation at this point, kissing the last tatters of my professional reputation good bye.  I can just see Steven circulating at the next Archaeological Institute of America AGM, spreading the good news.  'Heard the latest on Daniel Jackson? Not only out but going down!'  I'm pretty sure selling a piece of your ass in return for research funding is a clear breach of Article 1.2 of the RPA code of conduct.  Prostituting myself clearly constitutes unethical behaviour and would indeed be the final straw required to get me summarily removed from the Register of Professional Archaeologists first chance Steven gets.

Unfortunately for Steven - and Jack - I am no longer the little archaeologist lost and therefore I will not be sobbing my heart out in a quiet corner over my ruined reputation any time soon.  As Jack and I were caught in flagrante, so to speak, I think the logical course of action is to brazen it out.  'Spin' it.  Steven already thinks we're having sex.  I just need him to believe we're having sex because we're LOVERS.  I'm certain there's nothing in the RPA code of conduct about sexual orientation, though the profession as a whole has a lot to say about prejudice.  All that overlap with anthropology tends to result in zero tolerance of discriminatory practices.

Jack has zero tolerance for scientists in general and my erstwhile colleagues in particular, an immutable fact which I sense he is about to forcefully make crystal clear to Steven.

I don't know if Jack would approve of my strategy, but I do know he backs up his team, so he'll play along if I present an appropriate course of action.  I believe the correct military term for my strategy is full frontal assault.  I've got both an archaeologist and a colonel in my sights.  I can protect my professional reputation and force Jack to close some of the distance between us at the same time.  There is one simple solution to both difficulties.

“And we’re together,” I say calmly to Steven as I move to Jack's side and place my hand on his arm.  I feel a little guilty that I don’t feel at all guilty about taking such outrageous advantage of him.  I sense Jack would actually approve of my pragmatism and all round sneakiness, if I was to let him in on it.   I’ve learned from the best, after all.

I feel  - compelled - to push it just that bit further.  I realise in light of my announcement, a tentative hand on my supposed lover’s arm isn’t a TOTALLY convincing display of uncontrollable animal passion.  “Jack is shy.”

Jack gives me a long steady look, leaves whatever he was about to say unsaid and adjusts his tactics in light of the new ‘intel’.  Bless him, he does try, but he utterly fails to look shy.  He promptly abandons the unequal struggle, graciously saving my lying little guilt-free ass by spooning up against it and hugging me tight against his chest.  Strangely, one of Jack’s hands insists it is perfectly comfortable curved over my hip.  I try not to flinch and to look as if this happens all the time, as Jack rests his chin on my shoulder and eyeballs a visibly bristling Steven.  I also rest my hand over the top of Jack’s because I don’t want him taking advantage of ME and – er – roaming for the sake of corroborating my story.  So I’m a hypocrite.  So sue me.

“I’m working hard to overcome that pesky touch taboo,” Jack placidly offers by way of explanation. “My therapist feels I’m making steady progress in feeling up – “

“What can we do for you, Steven?” I interject hurriedly.

“I think you know what, Daniel – “

“Dr Jackson,” Jack interrupts.  “If you insist on ‘Dr Rayner’, you can extend Daniel the same courtesy,” Jack smirks.  “Let’s try to avoid these infantile power games, shall we?” he adds sardonically.

Steven flushes angrily and resumes his attack.  “I’m quite impressed you’ve managed to last this long, Daniel, even if it is beyond the fringe of the profession.  You must have been fairly  – creative – in your ‘fundraising’  efforts.”

There’s nothing for Steven to see, Jack is too good for that, but I can feel the tension simmering behind me.  Vibrating rather pleasurably – and quite distractingly – against my butt.

“Absolutely,” Jack agrees equably. “From the moment I laid eyes on him, Danny just blew me away.  I knew a completely original thinker when I saw one. I don’t waste my time on wannabes and never were’s when I can have the BEST.  As for being out here beyond the so-called fringe?  Daniel’s separation from a bunch of also-rans with petty personal agendas, closed minds and professional scores to settle doesn’t keep him up at night. “ Jack smirks maddeningly at Steven, licking his lips, making it clear I’ve got something else entirely keeping me awake at night.

I wish.  I really do.  Working on it right now.

“I know EXACTLY what Daniel can do for you, STEVEN,” Jack is scathing. “He can slink back to ‘suffer’ silently in obscurity while you take credit for his theories.  That is why you’re here, isn’t it?  To steal Daniel’s work?  That’s what brought you here the first time.”

Steven loses it completely in the face of that pithy, pointed condemnation.  His dark eyes are liquid with rage, but he’s – lightweight – compared to Jack. All sound and fury, no substance.  I tread heavily on Jack’s foot, making him wince. He’s going too far.  “Steven apologised for that, Jack,” I quell him.  “He made a mistake.”

“Sure did.  Shoulda moved quicker,” Jack refuses to be suppressed.

“I don’t need to ‘steal’ DANIEL’S work,” Steven snarls.  “I’m the one with the frigging Porsche and the bestseller –“

“Populist crap,” Jack condemns Steven with all the superb conviction of a man who has occasionally been compelled to suffer through History Channel Egyptology specials.  “And yet - you still want to be Daniel when you grow up.  I’m strictly a layman, but YOU’RE not, Rayner.  If even I can see the difference between what Daniel does and what you do, how much more clearly do YOU see it?  Try thinking for yourself.  Try having your own career instead of Daniel’s.  You’ll live longer.”

Steven is so enraged he can’t get a word out, turning on his heel and storming out of the temple.

“That went well,” Jack murmurs smugly, making no move whatsoever to let me go.  In fact he spoons a little closer and starts taking an interest in my ear.

I’m sorely tempted but I can’t have him going Alpha Male on me.  I’m not so much treading on Jack’s foot this time as stamping on it, at the same time as I apply an elbow vigorously to his ribcage.

“Uurgh!” Jack groans, hopping back madly.

I turn on him.  “Knock it off!”  I hiss, seething.

“I was JOKING,” Jack makes with the big reproachful puppy eyes.

Be still my beating heart.  “You’re SERIOUS and we both know it!  I’m NOT letting you shoot him!”

“I want to,” Jack says sullenly, still nursing his wounded foot.

“Well, you’re not!”

“But I want to,” he insists stubbornly.

“No.”

“He’s an asshole!”

“We’re supposed to be calming him down, lulling his suspicions,” I say sternly.

“You can’t get calmer than dead,” Jack tempts.  “I’ll take care of -- ” he makes a little gun of his hand and mimes shooting it – “You’ll have to do the spadework.  Broke my damn foot, here!”

I wasn’t going to say anything -- I turn my back on him and stalk off up the steps.  When I reach the turn I glance over my shoulder and watch Jack’s antics for a moment.  I’m pleased I wasn’t the only one distracted by the close proximity.  It’s a good sign.  Isn’t it?

“Jack?”  I smile sweetly at his suddenly hopeful face.  “I stepped on the OTHER foot.”

On to Part Two

2001 Stargate Fanfiction Awards - Slash:  Best Story2001 Stargate Fanfiction Awards - Slash:  Best Drama2001 Stargate Fanfiction Awards - Slash:  Best Hurt/Comfort

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Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
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