“I’m sorry, Dr Jackson.
The requisition hasn’t been completed correctly.”
“Oh. But I – oh.
Can I correct it now? I need those books today, and Beth Anne -“
The notorious Beth Anne of Beth
Anne’s Books. A holy terror. Got a soft spot a mile wide for
Daniel. Like that’s new?
“ - can deliver them today if
we can fax this requisition through.”
Who could resist those wide,
pleading eyes and tentative little smile? Sergeant Jennifer Jones,
that’s who. Obviously a supply clerk of the ilk that makes you sweat
blood for a goddamn pencil. Had a clerk like that in Germany.
Used to hand over a used pencil and keep the new one.
“You can’t make an amendment!
It’s against the rules, Doctor.”
“Why?” Daniel asks, radiating
“To prevent fraud.”
“I’m not trying to defraud the
Air Force. You can call Beth Anne, I have her number right here,
she’ll confirm the order is ready to be supplied,” Daniel suggests hopefully.
“It’ll be here today. This morning if Frank can manage it for me.
Frank is the delivery man and – “
And Sergeant Jennifer couldn’t
be LESS fucking interested in who Frank is or in helping Danny out.
It’s not like he’s requisitioning a stealth bomber, Sergeant, so cut the
kid some slack.
“That’s not possible.”
“Well, could anyone authorise
an amendment to THIS form, because I really don’t have time to fill the
whole thing out again? I’ll miss my delivery slot.”
“You’d need the counter-signature
of a senior officer,” Jones offers ungraciously.
“Sam? Um - Major Carter?”
Daniel brightens up.
“No. Senior to the officer
signing the order.”
“Oh. Geo – General Hammond?”
Jones looks outraged.
“You can’t trouble the C.O. for something as trivial as THIS.”
“Oh, he won’t mind,” Daniel
says sunnily. “It isn’t trivial to me, and he’ll be happy to help
Jones looks horrified, as well
she might. The general will happily countersign that requisition
for Daniel, and then the general will make sure to have a not so happy
word with Jones for making Dr Jackson’s life more difficult than it needs
I must be slipping if this airhead
thinks I won’t find out she’s got Supply giving Daniel the run-around.
He has a lot of small, complex orders that drive them nuts. I know
that. I CHECK and sign those orders. Carefully. Like
I clean my weapon careful. He needs specific books and articles,
they got editions and shit, and a lot of special equipment. The stuff
is expensive too. VERY. Some of those rare first editions cost
more than my paycheck. Way more. Daniel doesn’t need the hassle if
things get fucked up, so I make sure they don’t get that way.
I could just put an end to this,
but in all the time I’ve known Daniel, I don’t think I’ve actually seen
him interacting with my fellow hard-ass military types. Idle curiosity
is granting Jones a temporary stay of execution, at least until they spot
me malingering here at the doorway.
I’ve got a feeling Jones doesn’t
like this mere civilian cheerfully circumventing the chain of command,
that this pettiness is a power game designed to put Daniel in his place.
Or what she perceives to be his place. Daniel can go straight to
the general, no questions asked. Always. Sometimes the answer
sends Daniel back to me, but he’s always listened to and welcomed.
It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother the general. We work hand-in-glove
where Daniel’s welfare is concerned. In fact, we like that Daniel
SHARES his little problems with us, whichever of us it happens to be.
And let’s be honest, here, it’s not like George wears his heart on his
sleeve, but if Daniel doesn’t go to him, he makes sure to go to Daniel.
The pettiness of my fellow airmen
never came up that I recall.
“About THIS requisition, Dr
Jackson.” Jones hands him an order.
“It’s dated a week ago.
Is there a problem? The supplier has always been – “
“We’ve had more important orders
to fulfil, Doctor. I’m sure your colouring-in can wait a TAD longer.”
Daniel’s lips tighten for a
moment, and I see the tension in his slender frame as he braces for another
More than enough rope, Jones.
Thanks for hanging yourself so efficiently. “Stratigraphy,” I snap,
making Jones and Daniel jump as I loom up beside them. “Topography.
Cartography. Calligraphy.” Daniel bites his lip and looks down,
so I guess that one was a little out, but I’m on a roll. “Munster
soil charts.” I ignore a soft whisper of ‘Munsell’. Close enough.
Tryin’ to make a point here. Daniel doesn’t colour-in, he makes painstakingly
accurate charts of different coloured dirt for reasons he thinks are important.
And yeah, there are cheaper artists’ pencils, almost all artists’ pencils
are in fact cheaper, but Daniel likes these because they’re the ones his
parents used, so these are the ones we get. “And I’ll expect these
on Dr Jackson’s desk by this time tomorrow. Clear?”
“Sir, yes, Sir!”
Good. Haven’t completely
lost my touch. I turn to Daniel and smile warmly. I’m a little
hurt that his smile is so tentative, like he’s not quite sure what I mean
by mine. “So that’s it? Walk you home?” Protocol demands
that Jones should bring to my attention any problem with an order that
bears my signature. I’m responsible for it.
“There’s a mistake on this requisition,
Jack,” Daniel hands it over to me when Jones doesn’t leap for her in-tray.
I keep smiling at him as I take
it and hand it to her. “No mistake. I check. Thoroughly.
Fax it. Now,” I order briskly, without breaking eye contact with
Daniel. “Ensure the items are delivered to Dr Jackson’s office, ASAP.
Daniel.” I jerk my head towards the door and Daniel settles companionably
at my side as we stroll out, leaving Jones reeling in our wake.
“Thanks, Jack,” he says softly.
“They give you a hard time?”
“No moreso than – um – no,”
Daniel realises a little too late that, God forbid, he should actually
be giving voice to a complaint here.
“Than what?” I ask lightly,
slipping my hands into my pockets and lounging along by his side towards
the elevator. “What, Danny?” The pet name softens him, like
I knew it would.
“Death of a thousand paper cuts,”
Daniel says ruefully.
“Won’t happen again,” I tell
him calmly. “Ever.” Going to enjoy making it clear to them.
“Gotta go check on Carter. She’s playing with reactors again and
the general is nervous. Then I got Pentagon paper-pushers to deal
with. Later, kid.”
He’s still smiling a little
as the elevator doors close between us. I’ve done my good deed for
the day. Made the SGC safe for artists’ pencils.
Soft laughter. Daniel
is – he’s blushing. Why?
I look at Carter. She’s
too busy scarfing down her Jell-o to notice if the Commissary went up in
flames around her. Green Jell-o. I barely suppress a shudder,
and give her a gentle nudge.
“Ow! Sir?” Carter yelps and
glares at me as her Jell-o hits the floor with a wet splat.
That crap even sounds green.
“Daniel.” I nod over to
where my archaeologist is being royally entertained by one of the damn
pen-pushers. Not so damned as the rest of them, but still, a political
player when all’s said and done. Someone to be amiably tolerated
at best. Not blushed at.
“Sir?” Carter looks blank.
I nod significantly toward the
Carter smiles. “Major
And? So? Why is
Daniel blushing? Spill, and get your eye off my pie, Carter.
Not sharing. I look at Major Make’ Em Laugh Davis. No.
Not sharing. “The two of ‘em friends?” I ask casually.
“Oh, yes. Daniel and Major
Davis spend a lot of time together whenever he’s on base. They’ve
gotten to know one another very well.”
“Really,” I take a chunk outta
my pie and observe the good major. HOW well? Obviously well
enough to make Daniel laugh a little and blush a lot.
“Oh, yes. Major Davis
has been VERY supportive of Daniel. They’re getting to be quite close.”
‘Quite’ close? If they
were any goddamn closer, they’d be holding hands.
“I have to get back to my lab,
Sir,” Carter says easily. “With your permission?”
Whatever. The woman is
not good at subtext. I know that look on Daniel’s face, I know that
stance. I’ve been on the receiving end of them often enough.
Daniel is confiding. In Major Davis. He’d rather talk to Davis
than me? How fucked is that? What could he possibly have to
confide in Davis that he couldn’t confide in me, his best friend and team
leader? Or in Carter, Teal’c, Fraiser or the general?
Something – about me?
So, maybe I need to freshen
up this coffee. Over there. Sheer coincidence it's close to
where Daniel is sitting and blushing so – so - blushing.
Yeah. I need coffee.
'Cause this pie is choking me. They're comfortably in earshot as
I stroll up behind them and make myself part of the scenery.
“The Juniper Valley Ranch is
good. It's owned and run by four generations of the same family working
and living together," Daniel's awed voice tells me that's a damned fine
thing in his eyes. "The chicken is amazing, they’ve been serving
the same menu there for forty-five years.”
“Sounds good, Daniel, but it’s
a little off the beaten track from here,” Davis says softly. Smiling.
“Kinda late to be driving back on unfamiliar mountain roads in an unfamiliar
I pour my coffee slowly and
just check out the lay of the land. Just a coupla guys. Food.
Daniel blushes and looks down
at the tabletop. “You can – um - stay with me,” he offers shyly, meeting
Davis’s eyes. “Stay the night. If you don’t want to risk driving.
I’ll bring you back here tomorrow.”
“If you’re sure, Daniel,” Davis
Coupla guys going on a frigging
DATE. Spending the night with Daniel? I DON’T think so.
Not if I have to tail you to that fucking restaurant and drive you back
myself. Daniel means on the couch, Davis, and I think you hope he’s
offering you his bed. Himself. Think? I KNOW.
Nice guy, Davis. Helped
out. Helpful. Likes to help. Like to help yourself to
Daniel. No way. No fucking way. Nice, but a GUY.
No way you get to mess with Daniel's mind, get to take advantage just because
he's lonely. Because it's been a while. Because he's vulnerable
and not thinking clear, and he likes you and he hates to hurt people.
So lose the nice smile and the
warm eyes and the interest. They leave me cold, son, and it's me
you need to worry about. You want Daniel? You want him enough
to come through me? You think you got enough to take me on?
You DON'T. No way I stand idly by and let Daniel give it up to a
guy. Not to any guy, and most certainly not to you.
No. Not you. Even
though he likes you and he ain't beatin’ you off with a stick, here.
Not when it means Daniel gets hurt and I gotta pick up the pieces when
your nice smile and warm eyes are living it up in our nation's capital.
Must be my day to loom.
Right by their table. Davis smiles the moment I make eye contact.
The fucker is actually pleased to see me.
“Colonel O’Neill, Sir.
Good to see you.”
“Major,” I acknowledge curtly.
“You’re expected back in the briefing room at thirteen hundred hours, Davis.
Better show some hustle.”
Davis looks taken aback at my
brusque order, but all he can do is obey. “Daniel.” He smiles
“I’ll see you at seven,” Daniel
“I’ll pack my jamm –“ Davis
catches my eye and freezes to absolute correctness before marching out
No. No, you won’t.
“What was all that about, Jack?
Why were you so harsh?” Daniel asks quietly as I slip into the seat opposite
and nurse my coffee.
Daniel's lips have that tight
look I noticed earlier, which I guess means he's facing another situation
that is exhausting even the limits of HIS patience.
I stare into suddenly cool blue
eyes and push his limits a little further. "I need your help, Danny,"
I ask gravely.
Daniel thaws visibly, eyes warming
and lips softening back to their normal pout.
"Of course, Jack. Anything
I can, you know that." His sweet smile lights his earnest face for a moment.
Daniel's eyes and Daniel's lips
feature heavily in the dreams of most of the SGC, me included. Not
in any kind of 'Davis' context, obviously, but still, Daniel's obvious
desire to help his best bud out, no questions asked, should soften my heart.
Hardens it. Dammit, he
needs protection. I'm not gonna let Daniel tumble into bed with Davis
just because it's easier for him to lie back and think of the SGC than
it is to say no and hurt the guy's feelings. Hell, he'd sleep
with ME if I - I - it's for his own good, his own peace of mind.
Daniel leans forward, anxious
now, hands reaching out involuntarily towards mine. "What is it,
Jack? What's troubling you?" he asks gently.
The thought of you getting backed
into a corner and letting that guy fuck you because you've never yet worked
out you have the right to put yourself first.
"Not here, Daniel," I say awkwardly.
God, I am such a bastard. A contemptible, cowardly bastard playing
on his best friend's affection and support. "My place. Tonight."
"Tonight?" Daniel says blankly.
"If you got plans - " I shrug
it off, make a move to stand up, all 'brave little colonel' stoicism.
Daniel fights it for just a
moment, then another glance at my faithless face convinces him. "No.
No plans, Jack. I'll see you at your place, at seven."
"I'll pick you up here at eighteen
hundred, bring you back in the morning," I say flatly, cranking Daniel's
anxiety level up towards panic. He'll fret himself to pieces all
day over what could possibly be so bad I want us to pull an all-nighter.
Just the thought of Daniel pulling
an all-nighter with Davis is bad enough for me.
"Thanks, Daniel. Means
a lot." I lay my hand on his shoulder for a moment, totally fail
to reassure his searching eyes and suffer the gentle touch of his hand
over mine. Gonna have to get Daniel drunk and between the sheets
ASAP. God forbid I should actually have to talk. A fate worse
What if Daniel really likes
Davis? What if this is what Daniel wants? Tough shit.
It isn't what I want for Daniel.
I'm a fucking unconscionable
Like this is news?
Teal'c is Kel’No’Reem ing, Carter
is reactoring, Daniel is flirting and I'm brooding. Last seen, Davis
was embroiled in a budget briefing. So I asked a few innocent little
questions. So the briefing turned into a bloodbath. So what?
So it bought me a few more hours where Davis couldn't be coming on to Daniel.
So I thought.
How the hell did Davis get here
before me? Why the hell didn't Daniel tell me this little self-defence
programme was a weekly torture session? He can't talk to me now?
Can't say to me: Jack, Sergeant Todd is a relentless sadist and it's
your goddamn fault he's making my life a living hell? What am I?
A fucking unconscionable bastard?
So-o, I gotta find out the hard
way this asshole knocks Daniel on his butt every chance he gets.
Gotta actually ask Todd what the FUCK he's doing to my archaeologist.
Gotta have Todd announce right in front of my archaeologist he's toughening
him up on MY orders. Daniel is plenty tough. I never knew he
could bounce if you threw him down hard enough. And of course, Major
Darling Davis the pencil pusher has a frigging black belt in jujitsu or
something and is making Daniel's year by knocking Todd on his ass even
harder. Just demonstrating a few moves. We all know WHICH moves.
Oh, yeah, they both find that very funny, very cute. Totally hearts
and flowers sympatico here, my best friend Danny and his new friend Paul.
Young. Smart. Young.
Cute, if you're that way inclined. Young. Sympathetic.
Young. Bastard. Fighting every instinct I got here, which is
to march over there and knock his perfect young teeth down his perfect
young throat and show Daniel how we old guys do it in Special Ops.
So-o. I gotta find out
the hard way I got a problem with Daniel showing an interest in a young,
smart, cute guy not because he's a guy, but because he's not me?
This is news.
This is low. Really low.
All time Jack O'Neill ‘lowest of the low’ type low. Spying on my
best friend Danny and his new friend Paul. Got the perfect oblique
angle. I can see them all snuggled up and intimate in Daniel's office,
but they can’t see me unless they look for me. They ain’t looking.
They SO ain’t looking.
Davis is sidling a little closer
to where Daniel is leaning, desperately casual, against his workbench.
I swear I see the pulse hammering in Daniel's throat from here.
"I'm sorry, Paul. I'll
have to take a rain check on tonight," Daniel says regretfully. "Jack
needs to talk and I - you know how it is between us." He flushes and looks
HOW? How is it between
us? How good? How bad? How HOT? How? Gimme
something to work with, here!
"It's not your fault, Daniel.
Friends. I understand," Davis is all sympathy. "The colonel
is - well - you know - " He hesitates, pulling a face, and Daniel chuckles,
a little guilty, a lot naughty.
Davis knows. Daniel knows.
Speak UP, guys. The colonel DOESN'T know. The colonel NEEDS
to know. The roof of the colonel's mouth is dry as dust, and all
he’s seeing is his best friend Danny, so it must be Danny who's responsible
for the raging hard-on currently destruct testing the colonel’s resolutely
Based on the results in so far,
the colonel’s libido is caving without a whimper.
"So I guess we don't get to
have that talk, huh?" Davis asks softly. "Have you made your decision?"
"Yes. I have. I
was hoping to tell you tonight, but I can't, not here," Daniel tells him
Davis takes that as an invitation
and gets a lot closer to Daniel. He’s WAY inside that exclusion zone,
the zone that only I’M supposed to have access to. My nails are driving
into my palms. This is the most blatant fucking pass I’ve ever seen
in my LIFE.
"Daniel," Davis is all
soft voice and soft eyes. Daniel is rocking back against the workbench,
swallowing hard, transfixed as Davis closes in on him. Daniel, trying
out that sweet, tentative little smile.
If Davis was any closer he’d
be in Daniel’s fatigues WITH him and why the FUCK isn’t Daniel telling
him to get the fuck away, he’s TOO close? WHY is Daniel smiling and
standing there letting Davis lean in, lean closer, close enough to – to
- Got his HANDS on Daniel. At his waist. Looking to Daniel.
Asking permission. Jesus. JESUS. Getting it? Daniel
flinching a little as Davis stops a breath away from his lips, and whispering
Davis’s name, soft, uncertain.
Drowning in there. Cornered.
Needs me. Gotta get him outta this mess. Daniel’s never done
this before. Never kissed a man. Obvious. NOT doing it
now. NOT kissing Davis. Not when Daniel can kiss ME.
Solid offer on the table here. Just gimme a chance to work up to
it. Ease into it. Get used to it. The whole idea of –
y’know – with Daniel. With a guy.
Jesus. Looking at Daniel
right now, kinda sweet and expectant - okay, okay, O’Neill. Admit
it. Totally drop-dead gorgeous and smokin’ HOT. Forget easing
into it. Just colour me fucking unstoppable sex fiend.
“DANIEL? You decent?”
I holler cheerfully, barging into the office. Davis coolly steps
away and smiles warmly at both of us.
"Good to see you AGAIN, Sir,"
Davis says humorously.
"And you, Major. Seems
like every place I need to be, there YOU are," I say coolly, looking him
up and down. Smile not so warm now. Eyes not so soft.
Kissing MY Daniel? NO.
You do NOT get to have him. Daniel is no trophy fuck for some pen-pushing
pseudo warrior, however good you look together or however much you have
in common or however much he likes you, and yes, I see how much he likes
you in the way he’s scowling at me for shutting you down. I see it
Look your fill, Davis.
And kiss him goodbye. Metaphorically speaking. He’s spoken
for. Belongs to ME. With me. I’m his family. If he’s
lonely, well, he's got me. As often as he wants me. He can
have me the whole damn time. And if Daniel wants to be kissed, I'M here
for him. If he would just glance down he could see how
HERE for him I am. Couldn’t miss it. I can't remember the last
time I was this HERE for anyone.
"Dismissed," I order curtly.
Davis looks like he wants to
make something of it. Daniel looks like he wants to make something
of it. My heart is just bleeding sympathy all over the floor.
"It isn't customary for a ranking officer to have to repeat an order before
it's obeyed," I say calmly.
"Sir, yes, Sir!" Davis
snaps it out, has the barefaced fucking nerve to smile at Daniel right
in front of me and removes himself toot nowhere near fucking sweet enough
to suit me.
I buy a little time closing
the doors. I need it. Got enough on my plate trying to absorb
the fact I fully intend to be the only kisser in Daniel's future without
rushing to face the lucky kissee. Fortunately for me, the kissee
is Daniel, the poster boy for empathy. The kid is crazy about me,
thank God. He'll understand, he’ll make this easy for me.
"Are you homophobic, Jack?"
"What? Me?" CRAP.
"No!" Yeah. No. Kinda. No. Just – traditional.
Except with YOU, obviously. The SOLE exception to an otherwise TOTALLY
"So what, exactly, is your objection
to Paul and me?" Daniel asks softly.
Shit. The bigot question
was the EASY question?
"Davis and you what?" I say
blankly. There IS no ‘Paul and you’. Just you and ME. Me and
you. Me in you. You in – okay, gettin’ WAY too graphic here.
Need SOME blood left for thinking with. The couple of corpuscles
I got left fightin’ a rearguard action in the old noggin are SO not cutting
the conversational mustard with Daniel, mostly ‘cause they’re whining bitterly
about being left out of the stampede straight down.
"Kissing," Daniel says crisply.
"What's wrong, Jack? Not enough action for you?"
"Whaa?" I wheeze.
"I saw you salivating at the
"How long have you been getting
off on watching men kissing?" Daniel challenges.
“Wha - weren’t. Wasn’t.”
Hey, that’s MY line! Give
it back! It’s the only one I got right now.
“So you’re not a homophobe and
you don’t object to me seeing Paul?”
“Yes! No! I mean
– “ I don’t know what the hell I mean. “Yes.”
Daniel scowls at me. “What
right do you have to judge me, Jack?”
“If your own good sense doesn’t
tell you – “ I snap. He wants Davis. He actually seems to want
Davis. Not just making do ‘cause he’s never had a better offer.
Christ. What the hell do I do now? I can’t hand Daniel over
without a whimper, but what the hell do I know about chasing a guy?
Especially a guy like Daniel. If Daniel was a woman he wouldn’t LOOK
at me. He’s a guy and he’s right in front of me and he won’t look
at me anyway.
“What right?” Daniel interjects,
voice as stern as I’ve ever heard it, eyes sparking fire.
None whatsoever. I could
mention ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ but I think God would strike me dead for
a whopper like that one, given I’m standing here trying to work out the
best way to get Daniel naked and into MY sweaty clutches in bed and NOT
“Have dinner with me!”
I hear a strangled, insistent voice blurt. Dear God. Daniel’s
lips aren’t moving. They’re doing that thinning thing again.
Must have been – was me. “If you must – if you want - well
– I’m here - do it with me,” I stammer, my ears unable to believe
they’re hearing the crap dropping outta my big mouth an incidentally, completely
embarrassed to have share a body.
Daniel takes a step back and
gapes at me incredulously.
I smile weakly. I CANNOT
believe I said that. Dumb fuck. Supposed to be thinking of
the best way, not the worst. Whoa, boy. Couldn’t have come
up with a worse strategy if I’d sat down for a WEEK and thought about ways
to screw this up. Looking at Daniel, I can see I’m in the majority
on this one.
“You’re taking PITY on me?”
Daniel snaps. “You’re TOO kind. However, I think I can live
without your HEROIC sacrifice, AND without your judgemental, dog in the
manger, I don’t want him but no one ELSE can have him – “
A good soldier knows when to
retreat. I sidle over to the door, away from Daniel’s anger.
Disappointment. Hurt feelings.
“POSSESSIVENESS and - “
“I’ll pick you up at eighteen
hundred hours, don’t make me come find you!” I cut in ruthlessly, and make
a sharp exit before he flings more than harsh words. A good tactician
never loses sight of his main objective. Daniel can be as hurt and
mad at me all he likes just so long as he is hurt and mad at me at my place,
where I can keep an eye and both hands on him.
“WHAT!” Daniel rages helplessly
as I put a safe - for me - distance between us with more haste than dignity.
“What! Oh! Sergeant!
S-sorry. Um –“
Hmm. Daniel has company
“Sorry ‘bout that, Dr J.
Looks like the colonel is still on a tear!” a jovial voice teases.
A voice belonging to Sergeant
Todd the Sadist. I manage to duck around the corner before Daniel
spots me, wait for him to close the door, and sneak cautiously back along.
“Just came to see if you were
okay, Dr J? Put you down hard there a coupla times. Favour
or no favour, that was going too far.”
“I’m fine, Sergeant, really.
I – um – this is – um - just to say thanks.”
“I helped out ‘cause YOU asked
me to,” Todd says coldly.
“I know,” Daniel says shyly.
“This isn’t for you. It’s for Peggy and the girls. You’ll just
have to, well, suffer and go along with them. Moral support for Peggy.
The girls are a handful.”
I’m 2IC for my sins round here
and I don’t know Sergeant Todd has a Peggy or girls at home.
“They are at that, Dr J,” Todd’s
voice softens noticeably. “Wow! Family fun night at Gunther
Toody’s. I can’t – “
But he wants to. Wavering.
“It’ll be BAD, Sergeant.
They’ve got a clown booked. Apparently, he does tricks with balloons,”
Daniel announces in a voice of doom. “Face painting. Games.
He’s even got a monkey. See?”
“You win your bet with Major
Carter, Dr J?” Todd asks, teasing again. The monkey was too much
for him, I guess.
“Yes,” Daniel says sadly.
“I think I did.”
Bet? Who? What?
“Okay, then. Glad I could
help. See you next week, Dr J, and tell Major Davis from me he’s
telegraphing that reverse kick! My Sophie coulda taken him on that
one.” Todd chuckles.
“I will, and thanks again.”
Yeah. Thanks, Todd.
Very enlightening. Ver-ry. I now know Daniel makes friends
wherever he goes and he’s got some bet with Carter. He thinks he
lost the bet and he’s miserable as all hell about it. I don’t know
why. Davis was all over him so far as I could see and put a stop
I’ve already pissed Daniel off
more than he’s ever been, so what would it hurt to go back in there and
find out what the hell is going on? Of course, that would mean
actually going back in there, WITH him, after the most agonisingly unsuccessful
pass in the history of incoherently bad passes. A man of honour would
suck it up. Face the music. Take it on the chin.
I’m gonna lean on Carter.
“Daniel! At last!
We were starting to worry,” Sam jumps up from her workbench and rushes
to my side, drawing me over to sit down on the stool between her and Paul.
“How’d it go?”
Sam’s face tightens.
“Damn,” Paul says. “I
almost made the supreme sacrifice for nothing?”
“Thanks!” I say crisply.
“It was your idea to kiss me!”
“It was Sam’s stupid idea!”
Sam scowls at Paul. “Hey!
Less of that. I only suggested it because I thought I would be the
one who got to do the kissing.” She leers at me dreadfully, eyes
“So how come I got sucked into
this vortex of evil the two of you whipped up?” Paul asks dryly.
“We did a trial run,” I supply
as Sam scowls at me.
“Not entirely successful?” Paul
chuckles at Sam’s sour expression.
“No,” I say emphatically.
“Charming,” Sam sniffs.
“Bad, Paul. Bad.
Sam gave me no warning, she just – SAM!”
“I SEE,” Paul marvels after
a short, crowded pause. “Sam yanked you across her lap, dropped her
head and kissed you. You yelped and Sam dissolved into helpless giggles
because you looked absolutely terrified,” Paul hoots. “You wanna
put him down now, Sam? I don’t think his nerves can take it!”
Sam grudgingly releases me and
I sit up again, considerably ruffled. “I was so glad when you came,
Paul,” I confide. “Sam kept insisting all we needed was practice.”
Sam nods vigorously. “I’m
right too. Lots and lots and lots of practice. Sooner or later,
Daniel would have stopped screaming when I jumped him.”
She and Paul look at me and
“You can dream, Sam,” Paul grins.
“I’M right. You’re the wrong gender to make the colonel sit up, take
note and start hurting people. I’ve already accepted I’m not long
for this Earth.”
“You think Jack will kill you?”
I ask, curious.
“Can I have your stereo when
- ” Sam asks brightly, doing a little throat-cut mime.
“No, Daniel, I think he’ll try."
Paul ostentatiously ignores Sam. "I’m pretty sure I can outrun him
and I’m gating the hell out of here before I gotta find out I can’t.”
“Wuss,” Sam curls her lip.
“ So? Can I have your stereo?” she insists.
“I’m so glad that news of my
imminent demise at the colonel’s hands, feet, teeth, ball point pen or
whatever the hell else it takes, fills you with such regret and remorse,”
Paul tells Sam crisply.
Sam smiles apologetically and
opens her mouth.
“No. You can’t have my
stereo,” Paul snaps.
Sam closes her mouth.
“I could call the colonel right now and tell him you’ve got your tongue
in Daniel’s ear,” she taunts.
“Threats?” Paul asks softly.
“I could call him and tell him I caught YOU with your tongue down – “
“It doesn’t matter,” I say flatly.
“I won the bet.”
“Daniel!” Sam turns to me at
once, sneaking an arm around my shoulders. “No. I don’t believe
it. If anyone knows how the colonel really feels it’s – it’s me.
I realised I was a substitute, it just took me a while to figure out who
I was substitute for,” she says steadily.
I sigh and return her hug.
“This was a dumb idea, Sam, and I’ve only myself to blame it blew up in
Sam gives me a startled look.
“That bad, Daniel?” she murmurs sympathetically, tightening her grip as
“I was harsh with Jack,” I confess
“Harsh?” Sam asks dubiously.
“Harsh?” Paul is bordering on
I look from Sam to Paul.
“I can be harsh!” I insist, a little indignant.
“Sure you can,” Sam soothes.
“Shut up, Paul! That’s
not helping!” Sam snaps.
“I asked Jack if he was homophobic!”
“Y-you did?” Sam gulps.
“What did he say?”
“He just sputtered.”
“I’m not surprised!” Paul yelps,
“The whole reason you two turned on the big-blue-eyed charm and suckered
me into the sting from hell was to make the colonel’s mind boldly go where
his mind had never gone before. His outlook on life has always struck
me as fairly ‘traditional’,” he says carefully.
“It went there alright,” I say
bitterly. “Straight down. Express service. According
to Jack, if my own good judgement isn’t enough, if I’m SO desperate I have
to have sex with Paul, well – “
“Thanks!” Paul snaps ungratefully.
“Shut up,” Sam snaps back, scowling
“Well given those circumstances,
Jack is ready to overlook his moral objections to my lifestyle choices,
take pity and ‘do it’ with me to spare me the degradation of having to
do it with Paul,” I sigh.
“Big of him,” Paul drawls witheringly.
“Oh?” Sam sits up straighter.
“I asked him flat out what right
he had to object to me seeing Paul and he couldn’t come up with a single
reason. He couldn’t object, so he settled for being objectionable,”
I say flatly. “And incoherent.”
“Yes, Sam, really. And
after all that, he actually had the nerve to insist on taking me home tonight.
Threatened to come and GET me if I wasn’t waiting by his jeep like a good
little Dannyboy at six o’clock sharp.”
“Wow? Where’s the wow
factor in that, Sam?” Paul demands. “Sounds like the colonel behaved
like an asshole.”
Sam turns to us, eyes glowing.
“He’s got it BAD. This is better – so much better than we’d dared
to imagine. He was DROWNING in there. When has the colonel
EVER been at a loss for words? He made a pass at you, Daniel, you
just didn’t see it.”
“You weren’t there, Sam.
He was just being possessive. Dog in the manger, in fact. I
was – he – “
“You’re in love with him, Daniel,
and you aren’t objective where he’s concerned. You’ve been so convinced
he’d never feel the same way about you – “
“Or be brought to realise and
accept he DOES feel the same way about you,” Paul interrupts Sam.
“You took what the colonel said
and did at face value. Talk about a go to guy! He’d already
decided what to do, he just got lost in the how, and maybe, in the why,”
Sam suggests softly.
I’d love to believe her, really
I would. There’s a world of difference between Jack having a stunning
revelation, seeing me in a whole new light and – um – getting blatantly
horny, and Jack falling in love with me. I must have blinked and
missed the latter.
“Are you going over there tonight,
Daniel?” Sam asks gently.
“I don’t know, Sam. I
need to think about this. Jack may have stuttered out his willingness
to sleep with me, he may even be able to sleep with me, though I doubt
it, but I’m not willing to sleep with him. Not unless he – he – “
“He does,” Paul says firmly.
“Even I can see he does. I wouldn’t be laying my life on the line,
“Perhaps so, but I think it
would kill him to admit it,” I sigh.
“Or me,” Paul grumbles, nimbly
dodging a punch thrown by Sam.
“Jack’s attitude, what he suggested?
He hurt me. He didn’t even say he cared for me as a friend, and I’ve
seen little enough of that recently to – Oh, Sam, no, I’m sorry, I didn’t
mean - damn. Don’t – “ My unruly tongue!
“I’m not,” Sam says strongly.
“I’m getting good and mad. The colonel is hopeless at this stuff.
Would it kill him for once to just come out and say what he means?”
“I think he’s gonna manage ‘Davis!
Eat shit and die!’ just fine.”
“Ah, quit your whining, Paul,”
“Daniel, if I do gotta die,
YOU can have my stereo,” Paul tells me pointedly, eyeing Sam with dislike.
They say eavesdroppers never
hear good of themselves, and it’s certainly true in my case. Good
news, bad news, worst news. Good news is Daniel has taken leave of
his senses and fallen in love with me. Bad news is those three kids
tried to play me and, me being me, I fucked up royally by apparently suggesting
to Daniel I’d be happy to fuck him at our earliest mutual convenience.
Maybe happy is overstating the case. Tolerate, perhaps? Out
of pity. Worst news is Daniel isn’t even sure I’m his friend any
more, I’ve hurt him, and he won’t entertain for a second the preposterous
notion I might just possibly love him back.
I’m abso-friggin-lutely positive
I love him back or I wouldn’t be climbing UP this goddamn tree because
HE won’t climb down it. Why the hell did I stop the jeep in the first
place? Bad enough I had some dumb-ass notion of apologising for anything
I’d said which might have misled him about my intentions. He was
so stunned to hear the ‘s’ word from me, he almost didn’t pick up on the
fact the only reason I knew I had something to apologise FOR was ‘cause
I must have heard him say so. So what? Say I did, maybe?
I almost got it past him. Almost. Then he went white, almost
fainted and gave the upholstery – and me - a fright.
Cool date so far. I upset
him, shocked him so bad he almost threw up, and hit the brakes out here
in the middle of nowheresville. Then I stupidly tried to explain
myself, resulting in some unwelcome revelations about the whole me being
a complete bastard thing, which subsequently sent him bolting for safety
up a particularly leafy tree. With hindsight, I gotta admit that
threatening to carry him back to the jeep if he was going to be so damn
childish was not the way to go when he expressed understandable reluctance
to share the planet with me, let alone the jeep, and as for a bed, I could
damn well whistle for it.
I just had to whistle.
Also, maybe that wasn’t the
best time to notice for the first time what a great ass he has. Or
comment on my pleasure at this very welcome discovery. Daniel just
wasn’t in a ‘perky’ place right then.
He’s in a leafy place right
now. Given our last attempt at reconciliation went along the lines
of me hollering up, ‘Daniel, don’t be stupid! How long ya planning to stay
up there?’ and Daniel yelling down, ‘How long ya got?’, I figured I’d better
get my ass up here and fetch him down.
Long way down.
Isn’t he supposed to be scared
Not scared of heights.
Fine with heights.
Just a long way down.
“Nice tree,” I wheeze brightly,
hauling myself painfully onto Daniel’s branch and making myself as at home
as Daniel’s glowering presence and the fear of imminent, plummeting death
allows to me to be.
I stare into Daniel’s stormy
eyes and try to keep my mind off crashing, falling, diving, plummeting,
plunging, slipping, toppling, tumbling.
“Jack, I’ll be right there,
just hang on.”
Yeah? That’s nice.
Kinda redundant, though, advice-wise. SO not letting go.
Flying ain’t the problem.
It’s hitting the ground.
“Jeez!” I yelp as Daniel
swings confidently around behind me thanks to an overhanging branch, and
then gentle hands and gentler, hypnotic voice urge me along the branch
to the point where I can turn and settle my back against the trunk, facing
Daniel. “You weren’t in the last tree,” I say flatly. I’d kinda
forgotten I was in the last tree myself. Another joyous incursion
into the Eastern Bloc. Daniel’s eyes soften even more and he hitches
a little closer towards me.
“Want to tell me about it?”
No. No way, no how.
The team, and Daniel in particular are as clean and clear from my crap
as I can keep them. He doesn’t need to hear how I waited out a target,
waited out my target for three days, waited out my target in a big, inviting
tree, just like this one, and when she showed her pretty face I gave her
that third eye, right in the middle of her pretty forehead.
“I’m scared of heights,” I say
defiantly. So I’m pushing the truth envelope. The more scared
I look the closer he gets.
“You’re an Air Force colonel.
A pilot,” Daniel points out the obvious.
“Flying is aiming for the ground
and missing. This isn’t. This is plummeting to the ground screaming
and not missing.”
Daniel hitches a little closer.
I think my fearless emotional dishonesty is lulling him into a false sense
of security. As soon as he gets close enough to grab, I’m grabbing.
“This is an entire summer in
a cast instead of on my bike, or in the sandlot over on York Street, or
on my skates buzzing the neighbourhood cats. I’ve still got the scars,”
I say fondly. Come nice and close, Danny; be a good boy and come
here to the bad man.
“I’ve never been on skates in
my life,” Daniel confesses, making a hitch too far.
Glad to see I haven’t lost my
touch. In fact, getting in touch with my feelings has gotten me in
touch with a pleasantly squirming, protesting armful and – just gimme a
sec to work out the logistics, here – lapful of slightly bewildered and
“Jack and Daniel sitting in
a tree,” I murmur into Daniel’s ear. What was that Carter was threatening
to call me about? Oh, yeah. Ears. Daniel has delicate
ears. Pink. I lick experimentally. Ni-ice. Daniel
gasps as I set to exploring with a will, a lucky swipe of the tongue on
a spot just behind his ear revealing an erogenous zone, if the softly whimpered
‘Jack’ is any indicator. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” I roll it over my tongue with
“No,” Daniel protests.
“Why not?” I ask reasonably.
“We’re not kissing because we want to?”
“No! Yes! I mean
“You mean you want to but you
won’t because I’m an asshole?” I suggest lightly.
“Yes,” Daniel says gratefully.
“You mean you want to but you
won’t because I made the worst pass in recorded history, and not in the
toe curlingly erotic sense, just in the plain old crappy sense, and forgot
all the touchy-feely stuff ‘cause all I was thinking about was the touching
and feeling stuff?” Hard to believe I’m looking at a man and thinking
this, but I have to admit Daniel is adorable when he’s all confused. “Even
I knew I was totally incoherent, there. My IQ was in my pants, and
I was slightly annoyed that you were letting Davis drool all over you.”
Despite my best efforts, my voice tightens up along with my grip.
Davis may have been putting on an act to help Daniel out, but I know sparkage
when I see it, though it’s nothing like what there is between Daniel and
me, which is thrumming somewhere in the gigawatt range. Slightly
embarrassing I had to have that drawn to my attention, but I still think
I adjusted pretty damn impressively given the time frame and the fact my
entire concept of sexuality got knocked wheezing on its ass. Carter
and Davis will be paying for that, creatively, at my earliest convenience.
Daniel is exempt from payback. I love him, and he’s pretty much stuck
with me. That’s more than enough suffering in my book.
“Slightly annoyed?” Daniel enunciates
“Cut me some slack, Daniel,”
I try out the big, pleading puppy eyes. Daniel swallows painfully
and moistens his lips nervously. I’d lick his lips for him, but I
want to stay in this tree a while longer without exploring the plummeting
option. I suppose it’s remotely possible that if Daniel is in love
with me, he might be attracted to me too. I look at him and I look
at me, and I gotta say, I wouldn’t be attracted to me if I were him, but
he’s a really nice boy and there’s no accounting for the things he takes
a fancy to. He likes old stuff, which should help. “The important
thing was me asking you to have dinner with me.”
“Ordering,” Daniel contradicts.
“Just to keep me away from Paul.”
“Trying and failing miserably
to ask you out on a date. I’ve never asked a man out on a date in
my life, Daniel,” I say softly. “Believe it or not, I was nervous.”
And jealous. And horny, which didn’t help. That hasn’t changed,
but I’m getting more used to feeling it around Daniel.
“In case you said no!
I gotta spell it out for you?”
“Yes. P-particularly the
quote ‘touchy-feely’ stuff, please,” Daniel asks earnestly, desperately
trying to stay cool, but betrayed by the naked anxiety blazing in his eyes.
“You have amazing eyes.
SHIT! Which SAP said that?
“J-Jack,” Daniel blushes and
drops his head, peeking up at me shyly through his lashes. Then he
goes very still. “I – I think your IQ is – um – falling again.”
Damn straight. You’re
sittin’ on most of it, kid. Which is the only possible explanation
for all the lovey-dovey stuff I’m embarrassing myself with.
“You actually want me to say
it?” I grouch.
Daniel nods very gently, his
eyes getting wider and wider. I think he’s afraid to move, mostly
because his IQ is slipping a little, too.
“Okay, if you insist.
I love you, you know, and for some bizarre reason beyond my ken, you love
me too, even if I am too stupid to live, and can we get to the kissing
part before one of us explodes?”
“You love me?” Daniel
“No kissing?” I ask pathetically.
Daniel takes pity, carefully
cupping my face in his hands – beautiful, trembling hands – and leans in
as I lean out and only our noses kiss. Crunch. Whatever.
“Ditto. Let’s take it
from the top.” I hold HIS face and lean in to him, managing to land
in the general vicinity of some very stiff lips. More around than
on. “Nothing fits.”
Wow. We’re not exactly
setting the world alight, here. I feel like I’m twelve years old,
and the only thing I’d kissed was the back of my hand. First time
I actually kissed a girl – well, truth be told, first time a girl kissed
me - I didn’t know what to do with my lips. Neither of us seems to
know now, and worse, Daniel didn’t actually whimper, but I think he came
Daniel heroically returns the
compliment and this time we do actually manage to connect fully – if briefly
- at the lips. Then we both sit back.
“We suck,” Daniel sighs.
“We need practice,” Jack says
heartily as we pull in to the parking lot. “It was the tree.
The whole plummeting to our deaths thing. Cramped our style.
We’ll get better.”
We could hardly get worse.
I always thought men would be better with men precisely because they are
men and they know what works for men. Apparently, I thought wrong
when it came to Jack and me, even though we are both indubitably men.
And here we are, two men on our first official date, which isn’t so much
romantic, as it is defensive. Jack is being very sweet and supportive,
offering pancakes at La Crêperie just to take my mind off how bad
we are at kissing. Bad. Really, truly bad. Awful.
Three attempts just to briefly brush lips. I shudder away from the
thought of going to bed with Jack, which, unfortunately, is what he’s hoping
and wanting to happen when we get back to his place. The very minute
we get back, I suspect.
We’re doing a little better
with the feelings, though I’m slightly alarmed by some odd changes I’ve
detected in Jack’s behaviour. Already. Put a gun in his hands
and he’ll mother-hen us with the best of them. I’ve put up with that
for years. This is different, a sweet, quaint, protective courtesy.
Like opening the restaurant door for me. I’m beginning to suspect
Jack wants to ‘look after’ me, and he’s enjoying himself so much I think
he’ll be hurt if I put a stop to it.
“You like it here,” Jack says
cheerfully as he strolls in. “You’ve been here with Carter, for her
birthday.” He reels back in shock. “Whoa! Pink.”
“O’Malley’s isn’t pink.”
That’s unanswerable, and also
irrelevant. We’re banned from O’Malley’s, until hell freezes over
according to the owner.
“Not exactly rushed off their
feet here, are they?” Jack says critically as all three waiters close in,
smiling widely. There is a brief skirmish over removing our jackets,
which Jack wins emphatically, apparently judging the young, blonde-haired,
green-eyed ‘student if ever I saw one’ waiter is possibly showing a tad
too much interest in my person. I’m thirty-five, for Pete’s sake.
This boy is all sculpted pectorals and hormones. Can’t be more than
about twenty. He’s not the slightest bit interested in making anything
except his rent money, so Jack can just wipe that forbidding look off his
“Hi,” the blonde haired Adonis
says brightly, making the other two wince. “Oh, yeah,” he says apologetically.
“I’m Connor, I’ll be your waiter. Allegedly.”
A nice boy. I cheer up
a little and smile at Connor, our alleged waiter.
“I’m studying Anthropology,
what the hell do I know about being a waiter?” Connor confides cheerfully
as he steers us to a corner table, well away from the kitchen doors, and
from the other two couples the waiters are currently waiting on hand and
The other couples? Oh,
“I’m an archaeologist,” I supply
Connor stops in his tracks.
“Hot damn! I’m doing ANTH 220, archaeology and pre-history.
Drowning. You a grad student? Haven’t seen you on campus?”
“DOCTOR Jackson has doctorates
in archaeology and linguistics, and his area of expertise is ancient cultures,
languages and literature, specifically writing systems,” Colonel O’Neill
I’m actually quite touched he’s
so certain about it all he can fire it out at the unsuspecting at a moment’s
notice. I smile at Jack, and his face softens as he smiles right
“Your jammies must’ve still
had feet in ‘em when you got your B.A,” Connor grins. “So you’re
on the Faculty, huh? New? Must be. News like you spreads
fast. They’d need security on the door if YOU were lecturing.
Damn, even I’d be feeling no pain and ANTH 220 runs on a Monday, nine am,
and Friday, six pm.”
“Dr Jackson isn’t associated
in any way with the University,” the colonel snarls.
“Jack!” I protest at his tone.
“Cool!,” Connor gloats.
“Those fraternisation rules are a drag. I was gonna ask you to tutor
me, but hell, who cares? You’re drop-dead gorgeous. Wanna go
out with me? Or more accurately, wanna stay in with me?”
I falter to a dead stop, totally
at a loss as Connor looks me up and down appreciatively and goes ‘Mmm’.
The colonel is alarmingly rigid by my side, and I suspect La Crêperie
is about to be forcefully deprived of the services of one alleged waiter.
“Daniel!” the colonel snaps,
and when I don’t move fast enough, he yanks me away, Connor picking up
the pace and staying doggedly by my side.
“That shy thing, it’s cute,
Daniel. Really plays. Take a load off while I grab the menus.
You gotta eat dessert, man. Crepe Suisse. Swiss chocolate and
whipped cream. You, me, chocolate, whipped cream. Think about
it,” he beams at me and trots away.
Quite stupefied, I allow the
colonel to assist me into the nearest chair. Jack sits opposite me
and takes a deep, calming breath.
“Oh, forgot to ask. You
want wine? The Cabernet Sauvignon is drinkable, or the Chablis,”
Connor calls, bobbing up behind Jack. I nod weakly. “You work up
at the mountain?” Connor asks Jack as he passes out menus. “Military
“Colonel,” Jack says icily.
“I can tell.”
Jack bridles, but can’t get
a word in edgeways as Connor beams down at the old folk and takes pity.
“Ah. Forget the menus. I’ll pick. At first glance you
look to me like a St.Malo, a beef man all the way, “ he says lightly to
Jack, completely impervious to the hostility Jack is projecting. “That’s
just surface crust, though. Pure mush underneath, especially for
the Doc here, am I right? Gonna give you the Douarnenez, Alaskan
crab and shrimp in white wine. Daniel gets the Daoulas, poached breast
of chicken, mushrooms, hollandaise. Yeah. That’ll do it.
You can think about the whipped cream while you eat, Daniel.” Connor
looks from me to Jack. “By the way, you got a great ass, Colonel
Jack.” Then he trots off towards the kitchen bellowing orders.
Colonel Jack appears to have
lost the power of speech. This has NEVER happened at O’Malleys.
Not even to Sam.
“When was the last time you
dated?” I ask valiantly.
“I was married,” Jack says as
if that explains everything.
“Has this ever – “
“I don’t get out much,” I say
“Every damn time, huh?”
Jack says, almost sympathetically. “Great ass?” he asks, hopefully.
I smile involuntarily.
“Cool!” Jack enthuses, visibly
pleased. I breathe a sigh of relief. There’s still a chance
Connor might live through this date.
"So, Daniel," Connor grins as
he arrives back at our table yanking the cork vigorously out of the Chablis,
"You wanna go to a club after this? They got a new band playing at
Industrial Nation tonight."
"Industrial Nation?" I'm almost
afraid to ask.
"Club over on Platte.
I can get off any time after the Daniel Crème Suisse Experience."
"Aren't you working?" Jack demands.
"I got a Ferrari parked out
back," Connor winks. "I tell the old man I quit this dive for extra
tuition from a bona fide Doctor of Archaeology," Connor leers at me appreciatively,
"he'll cough up the cash regardless. Life experience? Get a
"My glass is dirty," I say desperately
as Jack's fist clenches along with his teeth.
"Crap! Goddamn kitchen
staff, slacking off again. Think life is just one permanent break.
Be right back." Connor grabs my glass and hauls ass with impressive
speed. Jack sits in pensive silence for a while. I think Connor
could outrun me, and I can run rings around Jack.
"Do I look like I belong in
a place called 'Industrial Nation'?" I ask.
"Nope," Connor's voice makes
me jump. "You look like you belong at the Met, but even refined types
like yourself gotta cut loose every once in a while."
"I'm going to kill him," Jack
confides to me, conversationally. "Gonna drag him out back and kill
Connor laughs out loud.
"You can try, man. Golden Gloves AND black belt, Tai Kwon Do.
And if it looks hairy, hell, I can outrun you, swing by the table, grab
Daniel and head for that hot tub in the hills."
I start to laugh helplessly
at the sheer thwarted outrage on Jack's face.
"Admit it," Connor demands.
"No," Jack snarls.
"He likes me," Connor grins
saucily at me. "He REALLY likes me. Back with food, ASAP."
"Colonel Jack, don't tell me
I'm not you, thirty years ago," Connor smirks at Jack, "only smarter and
WAY better looking," he chuckles at the look on Jack's face and saunters
off towards the kitchen again.
"THIRTY years ago?” Jack rages,
“I hate that kid. I really hate that kid!”
"Hmm. Well, there won't
ever be a good time to say this, but - I'm wavering, Jack, I have to tell
you," I say innocently. "Connor will keep me in a manner to which
I could become ENTIRELY accustomed."
"I'm sorry? Didn't quite
"Crap. He's coming back.
The kid is like a chimp on speed."
"So you coming to that club,
Daniel?" Connor asks cheerfully as he places my plate before me with
a flourish. "We got green stuff. Sorry 'bout this. The
soup is worse, trust me on that."
We have a crisp green salad,
homemade vinaigrette, French bread and butter. Plus a huge, steaming
crêpe, oozing chicken and hollandaise sauce. I look up, smiling.
"It looks wonderful, Connor, thank you."
"Damn," Connor breathes, gazing
deep into my eyes. "We're talking actual cerulean blue here."
"For God's sake, Daniel, don't
encourage the little shit!" Jack snarls.
The little shit kind of frisbee's
Jack's plate across the table at him, apparently unable to tear his eyes
from my quote 'actual cerulean blue' ones.
"Hey, give it a little wrist
action, there, maybe I could catch it in my teeth!"
"You still got teeth?" Connor
marvels, eyeing Jack's greying hair dubiously.
There's a certain tautening
suggesting the colonel is very much with us again, and is about to swat
the little shit clean into next Tuesday.
The little shit sniggers.
"Mr and Mrs Tudberry are celebrating their forty-seventh wedding anniversary.
Right over there. Bless. You go apeshit, you ruin their
special evening. Suck it up, big guy, suck it up."
I'm betrayed into a laughing
fit by Jack's speechless, apoplectic fury as a gloating Connor swaggers
away. Jack 'looks' at me. I quite regret letting Jack kiss
me, since it means I'm obligated not to be unkind.
I lean in. Jack leans
in. We meet up over the lemon daisies in the centrepiece. "I
think your hair is - it's - um - well - "
"What?" Jack snaps tersely.
"S-sexy," I say flatly, hideously
Jack snaps bolt upright and
shoots me a hard, suspicious look. "Sexy?" he queries, disbelieving.
I feel that more is required
of me. "Distinguished?" I suggest tentatively.
"Oh." Jack eyes me uncertainly.
"O-oh. Yours too," he relaxes, apparently a little mollified.
I take the chance to slice into
my crêpe and tease out some chicken. Wow. This is even
better than the last time, with Sam. The golden pancake is light,
crisp and melting all at the same time.
"Cute," Jack says obscurely.
"Cute?" I delve into my
vinaigrette. Sharp and rich, balsamic vinegar lingering on my tongue.
Jack waves a forkful of shrimp
at me. "Your hair. Cute." He looks at my hair.
"Short, but - "
"'Cute'?" I challenge.
Jack's eyes narrow over a heroic
mouthful of Alaskan crab and green stuff. "Adorable, even.
Much like the rest of you."
"Adorable?" My voice rises.
"Sweet." Jack's goes up
"Hot," our friendly alleged
waiter calls as he hops up onto the table next to ours, blithely ignoring
the scandalised hissing of his compatriots. "Jeez, you're drowning
here. You don't tell a guy like Daniel he's sweet."
"Why not?" Jack asks, curiosity
overcoming his homicidal impulses for a moment.
"Because he's sweet," Connor
"You say something, Daniel?"
"Yep, that's what I thought
you said." Jack spears another shrimp and chews thoughtfully.
"Are you gay?" he asks Connor suddenly.
"Wow! What gave me away?"
Connor asks, dripping sarcastic pseudo-awe.
"You're - um - out?" I ask gently.
"Never been in." Connor
takes a long swig from his coke. "It just so happens that all the
people I've been attracted to so far have been guys. I don't dislike
women, I've just never met one yet who did anything for me. One look
at Daniel, here, and I'm figuring how quick I can get him home, get him
naked and get him screaming."
"Screaming?" Jack scowls.
I've never - um - not ever.
"I'm ninety percent hormones,"
Connor admits, grinning like a fiend. "So I see somebody I like,
I just ask. Anybody gives me any crap, well, I've got the Golden
Gloves and the black belt to fall back on."
"How often do you fall back
on them?" I ask.
Connor glances at Jack, eyes
sparkling. "Just about to make a start from the look of things.
Colonel Jack, here, isn't what I'd call a people-person."
"Some of my best friends are
people," Jack drawls. The penny drops. "Are you seriously trying
to tell me not one single guy has ever said no to you?" he asks incredulously,
torn between annoyance and out-and-out admiration.
It’s a guy thing, even if this
guy has a thing for guys. I haven’t drunk enough Chablis for that
to make sense.
"A couple started out saying
no and wound up screaming 'yes, please', does that count?"
"No. You get within five
feet of Daniel again, I'm shooting you dead," Jack snarls with total conviction.
"Mad, bad and dangerous to know,"
Connor quotes softly, grinning impertinently at a darkly brooding and slightly
smug Jack, who’s sniffed out a possible compliment in there somewhere.
He’s easily pleased.
The door chime heralds the arrival
of a party of giggling women, probably housewives on a tear. The
other two waiters scowl so ferociously even Connor gets the message and
gets off his ass, taking a last defiant swig of his coke and a longing
look at me.
“For God’s sake,” he groans,
eyeing the gaggle of gigglers cynically. “My butt will be black and
They certainly seem to be taking
a prurient interest in our corner of the restaurant, but the objectification
of man as sex object seems to be aimed straight at –
“Now THIS, I’m used to,” Jack
acknowledges smugly, toasting the women with his glass.
He turns to me, grinning.
“Hot tub?” I query gently.
“Hot damn!” Connor gloats.
“Hot – “ Jack glowers sullenly
and unfortunately for him, silently.
“Dog?” I ask.
“Stuff?” Connor asks.
“Lead,” Jack snarls. “To
know you is to want to kill you slowly with a really big gun. BOTH
“Is this a good time to talk
about my tip?” Connor asks brightly.
Jack bares his teeth.
“Romantic assignation for two,”
Jack grouches, eyeing our surroundings and me without enthusiasm.
“They have flowers on aisle
eleven, we could meet up there,” I snap.
“Did you have to do this NOW?”
“Mrs Lewicki is seventy years
old, Jack. I’m not having her wandering the streets in search of
cat food at this hour,” I say coldly. “It isn’t safe.”
“Lemme guess. ‘Fluffy’?”
Nothing about Mrs Lewicki’s
cat is fluffy. Nothing. It eats fluffy cats for breakfast.
Jack leans against the shelves looking ‘patient’ as I carefully select
the most expensive brand and the most exclusive flavours. I sidle
around Jack and head for the dairy aisle, Jack right behind me, being offensive
without saying a word. “Yoo Hoo,” I mutter defensively. “And
“For the cat?”
“She’s old,” I excuse.
Mrs Lewicki, I mean. Not the cat.
“Sucker,” Jack snorts derisively.
“If you need me, I’ll be over in the produce aisle suggestively cupping
kumquats,” he leers, “Practice run for later.”
Laugh it up, Fly Boy.
Those are the ONLY balls you’ll be squeezing tonight.
“Dr Daniel Jackson?”
I’m juggling keys, several phone
numbers, only one of which is Connor’s and for me, the doggie bottle of
Chablis and two straining bags of groceries. Jack had a snack attack
of epic proportions which sparked some panic buying on aisle three, and
he’ll be bringing up the rear with the whipped cream and the Swiss chocolate,
just as soon as he’s got his precious Explorer parked to his satisfaction.
He wants the Daniel Crème Suisse Experience - without the crêpe
and Connor - the minute we get through the door. I’m about to become
dessert for the first time in my life, and I’m hoping like hell my first
reaction isn’t to desert. I admit to feeling slightly nervous.
The kiss was terrible and Jack’s conviction we’ll just pick this stuff
up as we go along is not one I share. I’m not even touching suck
it and see.
“Yessh,” I mutter around the
keys. A large hand the size and texture of a Virginia ham looms in
front of my face and plucks the keys painfully from between my teeth.
The large hand belongs to a large man, approximately as broad as he is
long, and his face looks not unlike his fist.
“Would you come with us, Doctor?”
I think about this for a moment.
Us? Ah. I take a surreptitious peek. As Jack would say,
I got movement. From the size of them, it’s probably tectonic shift
rather than locomotion. “No.”
“I’m afraid refusal isn’t an
“Oh.” I think about THAT
for a moment. Then I drop the groceries and smack the speaker smartly
over the head with the doggie bottle, making a break for it before either
of the two goons looming up behind me have loomed sufficiently close to
hit me back. My feet hightail my willing ass straight around the
corner to Jack, the goons lost somewhere in my slipstream.
“JACK!” I holler, fumbling at
my jacket pocket for my cell phone.
Jack takes one look behind me,
drops his grocery bag and tears up the street towards me, most definitely
about to happen to the goons, probably terminally if the look on his face
is anything to go by.
I really want to help him, especially
when the thuds and the screaming starts, but I’ve learned the hard way
about priorities in combat. It doesn’t help either of us if I go
back there and we both get our asses kicked and nobody has a clue what
happened to us. I have to get help FIRST, or my ass will get kicked
and Jack will be the one doing the kicking. Fortunately we have an
SGC number on speed dial for dire emergencies like forgotten reference
books and – well - kidnapping. I hit the button, turn on my heel
and back up behind the Explorer. Jack is briskly kicking one feebly
struggling heap on the ground but the other goon is closing in rapidly
on me. I can’t believe this. He’s actually going to chase me
around the car. It’s bad enough being kidnapped, but do you HAVE
to be kidnapped by STUPID people?
“Dr Daniel Jackson,” I hiss
into the phone. I dodge left as the goon dodges right, and we dance
from foot to foot warily.
“Verify your ID, Doctor.”
“Budge is a clueless bastard,”
I sing song rapidly. All the Air Force types have boring numbers
for security purposes but where’s the fun in that, even if Jack’s is the
exact longitude and latitude of the place he lost his virginity.
Jack’s folks really took their eyes off the balls in Key West. Let
the boy out of their sight, and he swaggered back a man. I’d rather
have visited the Hemingway House myself, but that’s just me.
“How can we help, Dr Jackson?”
“I’m reporting a kidnapping
outside my home.” I fake left again and when the goon follows, dart
right a couple of steps, then back. Like dodge ball with – oh dear,
with guns. I pick up the pace and hit the deck hard as the goon lunges
over the hood of the Explorer toward me.
“Who was the victim?”
“ME!” I yelp and send the phone
skittering under Jack’s car so the SGC can hear every word of what’s happening
as the goon slithers all the way over and looms up at me. He’s waving
the gun. Amateur. He should be pointing it. I lie braced
on my hands, seemingly huddled against the car, looking pathetic, until
he’s standing right on top of me. Really, this guy is stupid.
The looming is annoying me too. It is the work of but a moment to
kick him the balls so hard he screams and falls down. I jump nimbly
to my feet, stamp firmly on his gun hand and kick him neatly under the
jaw for good measure. Then I pick up the gun and race back to help
I can only assume the goon I
christened with the Chablis is particularly resistant to chokeholds, because
Jack has his thighs locked around the guy’s thick neck and is squeezing
hard, grunting with effort as the goon bucks and heaves. It looks
like some strange, sadistically combative sexual position which, believe
me, he is not going to be trying on me ANY time soon.
“Okay?” Jack gasps. “Gimme.”
I trot around in a wide circle,
coming safely up behind Jack to drop the gun into his imperatively outstretched
hand. A heartbeat later he has it pressed to the goon’s temple.
And a heartbeat after that I have a different gun pressed to mine.
to Part Two
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