THAT WAS THEN PART ONE BY BIBLIO


Slash:
Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: First Time.   Romance.  Off World Stuff.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.  No Spoilers.
Synopsis: Sneaky?  Underhanded?  Manipulative?  Jack?  Noooo!  Falling for it?  Falling for Jack?  Daniel?  Maybe… 
Warnings: The linguist is cute as a button.  In fact, cuteness abounds.  Warm Fuzzies.  Unabashed Romance.
Length: 292 Kb.  Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


Daniel knocked again.  It was late - terribly late.  Almost midnight.

"Keep your pantyhose on!" the familiar, aggravated voice sounded.  Jack opened the door with his customary 'bite me!' caution, leaning his body into the edge of it to stare at Daniel.  He had a look on his face eloquent of 'only you'.

"Can I come in?" Daniel asked nervously.

Jack simply nodded and stepped away from the door, wary and watchful.  "Something bothering you?" he asked right out.

"Yes."  Daniel noted Jack seemed surprised by the admission.  "I'm sorry - it's late," he muttered disjointedly.  "I had to talk to you."

"Sit," Jack ordered, herding Daniel first down into the living room and then onto the couch.

Sitting nervously at the edge of the cushion, Daniel was aware of his knees bouncing.  Nerves.  He rubbed his thigh, trying to steady himself, then found he couldn't stop.

"So talk," Jack invited as he took his customary chair.

The light was muted, just a soft glow from the lamps and the reassuring domesticity of the fire.  Daniel was honestly glad of the heat.  "I found something," he announced without preamble.  "It was tucked into one of my books.  I don't use this particular volume often - I found a newer Latin dictionary that was much more…"

Jack tutted impatiently.

"It doesn't really matter," Daniel said hastily.  "I needed the older book tonight, to check a fairly obscure reference.  I found this."  He pulled the letter out of his jacket pocket, his fingers trembling.  "It's from you."

"I wrote you a letter?" Jack seemed amused, settling back in his chair, ready to let Daniel entertain him with his latest flight of whimsy.  "Any indication how many beers I'd had before I penned this epistle?"

"No beers," Daniel countered tersely.  "An alien language in your mind.  That of the Ancients."

"That was years ago," Jack hooted, rolling his eyes.

"You wrote a lot, but this is the point of the letter," Daniel went on as if Jack hadn't spoken, determined to get through this.  "'I wanted to thank you…'" he quoted.

"You're actually going to read it out to me?" Jack interrupted, eyeing Daniel in mild disbelief.  "A three year-old letter?  It's not exactly breaking news, Daniel."

"It is to me!" Daniel flared, startling Jack.  "'For not leaving me alone,'" he read on determinedly.  "'More than that, I guess.  For telling the general you wouldn't leave me.  Fighting for me.  Trying to understand.'"

"From now on, I'm sticking to a two-beer limit," Jack interrupted again, rolling his eyes.

"You weren't drunk."

"Yes," Jack contradicted definitely, grinning.  "Yes, I was."

Daniel didn't know if it was because he was shaken to start with, or if it was just Jack's smug 'get a life, Daniel, get a clue' look, but he clumsily scanned down to the end of the letter, the words dancing and blurring.  "'I didn't know whether it was better for you to know or not but I do know how important the truth is to you.'"  Daniel took a deliberate, steadying breath.  "'The truth here is that I'm in love with you,'"  he blurted.

Jack's mouth dropped open.

"Not me!  You!  I mean - you meant you were - um - in love with me."  Three years.  Daniel could scarcely comprehend…Jack wrote this three years ago.  "Is it…"  He couldn't bring himself to ask.  His tongue felt as if it was glued to the roof of his mouth.  He was very close to panic.

"True?" Jack scrubbed at his eyes, then shoved impatient fingers through his tufted hair.  "Shit," he complained bitterly.

Daniel understood.  In a way, he did.  Jack and he had both lost their wives.  Daniel felt the same pull to Jack, the same connection that he knew Jack felt to him.  Loneliness…Jack was at his most vulnerable when he wrote this, wholly without defences in his isolation.  Daniel wasn't - he wasn't angry.  Not at all.  Shocked.  Sorrowful.  He would never have knowingly hurt Jack.  Never.

"The truth is important to me," he said gently.  "You were right about that."

He wasn't sure what the truth was here, if he came tonight looking for confirmation or absolution of his shameful naïveté.

"I know you," Jack retorted.  He was relaxing, looking at Daniel with a hint of challenge in his eyes.  "So?" he asked softly, already past the shock, moving swiftly, surely on to dealing with it.

Daniel reluctantly admired Jack's flair for this.  In some ways he believed he was more resilient than Jack, but his feelings seemed to go deeper.  He was hit harder and longer.  Never fully recovered.  In this instance - well, he was hardly experienced at this sort of thing.  "If you're asking how I feel…"  he glanced at Jack uncertainly.  "I-I can understand…"  Daniel was horrified at the thought of seeming patronising, ridiculously finding himself looking to Jack for reassurance.  "I know how much you loved Sara, how much you missed her.  Your family," he added delicately, sensitive about encroaching more than he had already on Jack's privacy.  "You and I - we  - we were together almost every waking moment."

They were close.  They'd always been close.  Jack had chosen Daniel as the one he could talk to, confide in.  In the earliest days away from Sha'uri, Daniel had been sure only of Jack.  He'd learned to trust Sam quickly, Teal'c pragmatically, in a way that had grown over time with both of them.  With Jack it was instinctual.

Daniel had at times felt an attraction to Jack, a desire to be closer.  It had never disturbed him.  That some-times awareness of Jack as a sexual being - it had felt very natural to him.  Reassuring, in a way.  He'd been glad that his own sexuality hadn't wholly atrophied in the drive of his work.  Of course, Jack had clearly had a sexual relationship with the Edoran woman, Laira.  And last year, Daniel had become aware - well - there was Sam too.

It helped keep Daniel's own occasional - wondering - in perspective.

"I'm sorry," Daniel apologised sincerely, miserably conscious of overreacting badly.  "I was just - it was the shock.  I'd never hurt you, Jack - not knowingly, not willingly."  He sighed deeply, slumping into the embrace of the couch.  All his nervous energy was burned out and Daniel was exhausted.  "Maybe I shouldn't have come," he murmured, looking up at Jack.  "I should have been more considerate.  Dredging up ancient history…"

"Ancient…" Jack bit off the word, swallowing whatever else he'd been about to say in gritted teeth.

Daniel's certainty that he knew what this was, that they were fine, was struck away by the bleak pain in Jack's eyes.  "Jack?" he gasped, a clammy chill of shock sweeping his body.

"We're not supposed to be having this conversation," Jack said slowly.  "Not until I'm off the team."  He shrugged.  "Flying a desk if my knee doesn't crap out on me.  Retired if it does."

"You still…"  Gesturing at himself, wide-eyed and wholly unnerved, Daniel couldn't fathom it.  "Three years!"  Without saying a word?

"Longer."  Jack looked gravely at Daniel, unwontedly dignified.  "You had a wife."

"She's been gone for two years, Jack."

"You haven't moved on, Daniel.  You haven't even dated."

"But that's not…"  Daniel paused, in his frustration unable to find the right words.  "That was me, Jack.  It wasn't about Sha'uri.  Not wholly," he admitted honestly.  "I needed some space in my life.  Something that was about me.  There wasn't room for anyone else.  I didn't have the time, or the energy."  Or the will to commit.  "What did you expect from me?" Daniel asked lamely, utterly bewildered by Jack's reticence.  "When you did - when we…"

"A chance," Jack said simply.  "You're fair enough to offer that."

"I'm sorry."  Daniel didn't know what else to say.  He'd suspected Jack was waiting, but not for him.  The sudden distance between Sam and Jack…Daniel wasn't alone in believing the two of them were deliberately keeping their personal and private lives strictly separate, more than that, they were in denial.  This shook everything he thought he knew.  "I didn’t know," he apologised in a rush of remorse.  "I didn’t."

Jack got up from his chair, skirting the coffee table to reach down.  Reaching for the letter, Daniel thought, until Jack's hands closed on his shoulders and drew him up.  Then he thought Jack was going to hug him, as he had so many times before.  He didn't see what this was, didn't know until Jack's hands were cupping his face, pulling him close.  Jack's stern mouth muffled Daniel's instinctive protest in a warm, easy kiss, lips rubbing coaxingly over his.

Daniel didn't know what to do with his hands.  He didn’t know what to do with his mouth either, but it was easier to freak out over his hands, the heels of which were currently braced on Jack's forearms, his fingers kind of clenching on air.  His mouth was just - forget it.  Rigid.  Stiffly - God, it was easier to think of an appropriate adjective for the way this kiss, his mouth - Jack's - felt than it was to allow himself to simply feel.

Daniel was really very grateful to Jack for stopping kissing him when he did.  "Oh," he bleated, staggering when Jack leaned back, licking his lips dreamily.  Three years - four - felt terrifyingly real to him when he realised that Jack had enjoyed kissing him, and was looking at him as if he'd like to do it again.  "Oh, don't!" Daniel pleaded when Jack leaned in, feeling horrible when Jack looked hurt.

It occurred to him that as bad as he was at hugging, he seemed to have a knack for hugging Jack, or maybe it was Jack who had a knack for hugging him, either way, he would.  Hug Jack.  He did.  He hugged Jack.  Well, sort of threw himself at Jack.  Hurled.  Jack fielded him neatly, even though he did reel back a step or two before he got his balance, then hugged Daniel right back, arms tightening with a certain amount of enthusiasm to fold him into his body.  Daniel's burning face met Jack's broad wool-clad shoulder and stayed put.  "Oh," he bleated again when Jack's lips grazed his ear.

"Daniel," Jack sighed, worlds of affectionate frustration sounding.

I'm a bad kisser with stiff lips and inadequate vocabulary, Daniel thought.  What he said though, was 'oh'.  Again.

"I had to do it at least once," Jack explained reasonably.

Daniel patted him fondly.  It was easier than - not - talking.

"I'd like to do it again."

"We're friends!"

"I know you're inexperienced," Jack said soothingly.

Daniel stiffened slightly.  Except his lips.  They were there already.  And his spine, which wasn't getting with the program at all.  "That was not what I said!" he complained into Jack's shoulder.

"No," Jack agreed.  "Just what you meant."

"Did it show?" Daniel was mortified.

Jack umm'ed and aah'ed consideringly.  "It was nice."

"And you'd like to do it again."

"When you know the answers, shout them out," Jack encouraged him.

Daniel found his spine and experimented optimistically with motor functions, stepping back.  Everything seemed to have resumed normal operation.  More or less.  Except his mind, which was reeling.

"Hi," Jack greeted him, gallantly 'not seeing' the blush Daniel could definitely feel heating his cheeks like twin flame-throwers.

"You kissed me," he commented intelligently.  "You're in love with me and you kissed me."

"Masterly summation," Jack praised him, his lips quivering.  "Now, say this after me," he murmured persuasively.  "'I want to go to bed with you'."

"I don't!" Daniel gulped noisily.  Sex?  God!  No.  "Do I?"  He didn't know.  "I don't."

"No?"

"Know."

"You've got time to think about it," Jack said sadly.  "It could be years before I retire."

Years?  "What?"  What?

"Maybe you should go," Jack suggested.  "I'm sorry, you know?"

Daniel wasn't sure how it happened, but one moment he was in Jack's arms trying to think coherently about kissing and sex and the next Jack was pushing him gently but firmly out his front door, leaving Jack alone with his pain.

Or - or something.

He trailed unhappily down the path, accidentally decapitating some of the flowers as he stole looks over his shoulder towards the house.  He couldn't believe Jack would allow him to declare Jack's passionate love for him, kiss him, turn his whole life upside down then toss him out on his rear.

What - what in hell just happened?

In his own humble opinion, Jack was the epitome of nobly borne suffering when Daniel trotted into the gateroom, breathlessly and somewhat disjointedly apologising for being late.  He wasn't, but Jack felt pointing this out would only cramp Daniel's style.  Carter, on the other hand, was late, and would get it in the neck when she deigned to make an appearance.

Teal'c strode into the gateroom and took up his position on Jack's left.  "Where is Major Carter?" he asked.

"That's the $64,000 question," Jack griped.  All three of them turned to stare as Carter bustled into the gateroom, looking very pink and flustered.  "Are we keeping you, Major?" Jack enquired with awful politeness.

Daniel frowned at him, fixated on his mouth, glazed over and subsided, speechless, blushing and confused, all of which only went to prove Jack should have kissed him years ago.

Apparently sensing a kindred spirit, Carter sidled sympathetically up to Daniel to commiserate about Jack being a mean bastard.

Jack wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but a man could only watch a Stargate spin so many times before he searched out more enthralling entertainment.  One of his kids had just muttered something about a date and it had better goddamn not be Daniel.  "A date with whom?" he prodded with robust rudeness.

"And may we know when?" Teal'c imperturbably interpolated, frowning forbiddingly at Carter.

It belatedly occurred to Jack that Daniel was very fond of Carter and a vague show of concern for her would net Jack major brownie points in the sensitivity stakes.  "We worry about you," Jack informed Carter, making with the supportive look.  She and Daniel looked at one another, huddled closer and eyed him with palpable suspicion.  Jack looked to Teal'c for help.

"Indeed," Teal'c ably seconded him, radiating noble concern for his teammates.

"Something keeping you, SG-1?" Hammond's voice echoed slightly tinny sarcasm right round the gateroom over the PA system.

"We'll pick this up on the other side," Jack ordered.  "Major," he added unforgivably.  Carter straightened right up and scowled at him.  Hey!  Them's the breaks.  What was the point of holding the rank of colonel if he couldn't use it to annoy his subordinates and put them on the spot whenever he felt like it?  "You need advice about guys, ask - guys!"  Jack looked at the guys either side of him.  "Okay, ask me," he amended fair-mindedly.

"I too am a guy," Teal'c complained as he marched up the ramp.

"Ditto!" Daniel snapped, looking haughtily down his nose at Jack.

"Who said I needed advice?" Carter asked the event horizon.

"You did," Daniel pointed out helpfully, poised on the cusp of the kerwhoosh, looking reproachfully at his alleged 'big sister' Sam.

"Advice from you, yes!" Carter snapped, "Advice from…"  She caught Jack's eye and prudently decided to hold that thought.

Jack shoved them both into the wormhole, waved cheerily at the general and stepped lightly through.  "Advice from…whom?" he boomed the instant he hit firm ground.

Teal'c balanced his staff weapon against his shoulder and looked at Carter with grave, helpful interest.  "We stand ready to assist, Major Carter."  He folded his arms across his chest.

Daniel nodded agreement, crossing his arms over his chest, looking supportive.

Jack hugged his P-90, which was harnessed to his chest.  "Spill!" he ordered.  Carter looked distinctly hunted and resentful, but unfortunately she was very fond of all of them…

"Please, Sam," Daniel coaxed.

Particularly Daniel.

Carter thawed perceptibly.

The team ambled off down the neat trail leading from the gate to the walled town the UAV had spotted.  So far, no one was shooting at them and there weren't many trees.  Jack liked the place already.

"I got an email," Carter confided at last, not looking at them.

The guys made encouraging noises.

"From Neal," Daniel interjected informatively, raising his eyebrows significantly.

"Neal who?"  The only Neal Jack knew that Carter might know was General…

"Kerrigan."

Jack stopped in his tracks.  Carter self-consciously avoided his eyes, going red, futzing with her P-90 to cover.  "Carter, you dog!" he gloated.

"I think it's a bad idea," Carter blurted.  "For my career," she added, low-voiced and flushing.

"Do you like him?" Daniel asked gently, as usual striking right to the heart of the matter.

Carter looked at her boots, her ears pinkening.

"He's a good man," Jack observed honestly.  "I like him."

"I find General Kerrigan to be a worthy individual."  The big guy nodded measured approval at dear little Samantha.  "He holds a position of honour and responsibility, discharging his duties with great diligence."

"You have sparkage," Jack pointed out after thinking about seeing the two of them together, usually on the training exercises they ran with Kerrigan at the SGC.

"Real chemistry," Daniel seconded sunnily.  "I agree with Jack and Teal'c.  Kerrigan is nice, smart and interesting, you like him, he obviously likes you."

Carter looked all girlie and conflicted for a moment.  "He's a general."

"Whoah!  Hold it right there, Carter!"  Jack frowned at her.  "Kerrigan isn't your C.O., hell he isn't even in the same command!  He's commandant down there at the Air Force Academy.  There's no question of favouritism or undue influence.  No problem in the regulations.  No one would think you were trying to break through the glass ceiling…" Carter looked impressed at Jack's keen grasp of the minutiae of gender politics, smiling at him approvingly.  "…with stilettos and fishnets."  For some reason Carter's smile congealed.

"No one who's met you, anyway," Daniel backed Jack up with commendable loyalty and regrettable ambiguity.

"Thank you," Carter said tartly.

"You are a skilled warrior, Major," Teal'c complimented her.

"And you can have lots of interesting talks about…"  Jack strove for something interesting Carter could talk about.  "Pool!" he suggested triumphantly.

"And physics."

"The repair and restoration of elderly motor vehicles."

"Knitting."

"Sam can't knit," Daniel objected to Jack.

"Well, she can't cook either, but I think it's unkind to draw attention to that, don't you?" Jack eyed Mr. Sensitive askance.  "Hobbies make for enough dinner conversation to see you through to dessert or paging yourself or going out the bathroom window, whichever comes first."  He turned to his 2iC.  "Guys like a well-rounded date," he informed her kindly.

"Major Carter is indeed…"

"Teal'c!" Daniel hissed, sharply elbowing 'Teal'c is not Jaffa for tact' in the ribs.

"For cryin' out loud," Jack grumbled under his breath, hoping Carter hadn't picked up on any unfortunate physiological connotations.  "It's all that swimming," he said helpfully.  "And the gym.  It does - things - for the shoulders.  And…" Jack gestured with his P-90 at no part of Carter's anatomy in particular.  "Stuff," he ended inadequately.

Daniel and Teal'c made with the 'what he said' eyebrows and vaguely positive noises.

For some reason, Carter looked deflated, which Jack didn't think was very nice of her after that shower of compliments and moral support from the rest of her loving teammates.  She stomped off down the trail to take point radiating enough potential for aggravated assault to make Jack feel heartily sorry for any innocent indigenous types unlucky enough to stray across her path.

Teal'c fell back to cover their six, while Daniel tried to look like he was utterly unaffected by the close proximity of any colonels who might have kissed him last night.  Within a very few steps the proximity was positively intimate and Daniel was red to the roots of his hair.

Jack had a horrible urge to laugh.  He could hardly believe he'd been so pitiful he'd written Daniel a sappy love letter and to have the damned thing sitting there for three years right in Daniel's office under both their noses was hysterical.  Momentary mortification aside, Jack wasn't the man to look a gift epistle in the envelope.

He'd more or less told Daniel the truth the last night.  Jack was (a) crazy in love with Daniel - something which was weighing heavily on Daniel's mind right now if those sweet, surreptitious little concerned looks he was sneaking at Jack were anything to go by - and (b) insanely attracted to him.

Jack figured getting Daniel to reciprocate (a) would lead naturally to relief of (b) with all despatch.  Although, to be fair, he'd take (b) right now if he could get it and work on (a) longer term.

"Looking forward to the mission?" he asked pleasantly, making a start.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Daniel asked warily.

Okaaay.  It was going to take a lot of work just to get into the primer.

"We're peaceful explorers!" Daniel's customary 'hello, ignore the big, ugly guns, we're not really going to hurt you no matter how bad the guy standing behind me looks' speech reached its crescendo.  He rushed on to introduce his friends.  He had it on the authority of "Silence of the Lambs" that knowing a person's name made it harder to kill them, which was why he always introduced Jack to the alien first.  "This is Jack."

Jack knocked himself out, unenthusiastically lifting a single finger from the butt of his P-90 in greeting.

"Major Carter."

Sam's smile lasted nanoseconds.

"And this is Teal'c," Daniel gestured elegantly.  Teal'c kindly came to his rescue, amicably inclining his head in greeting.

"I am Ghennehessere of the Seven Sisters."  The lady in question inclined her head right back, her brilliant  smile widening.

Sam appeared to take this personally.

Daniel wasn't very good at subtext, but he sensed Sam's hostility might correlate to a recent discussion about well-rounded dates and the fact she was standing in front of a date who was as well-rounded as they came.  Er - outside of porn movies.  "Um - S-Seven Sisters?" he enquired politely, sidling between Ghennehessere and Sam's itching trigger finger.

"We serve our people."

Experience had taught Daniel to be cautious.  "In what capacity?" he asked promptly.

"The Seven Sisters are guardians of Genizah."

"Genizah?"  Daniel turned excitedly to his teammates, none of whom were interested, although Sam kindly gave it a try for his sake.  "It's a Hebrew word.  It's been the custom for almost two thousand years in Rabbinic Judaism to set aside a depository into which Hebrew texts could be consigned.  The root, of Persian origin, is attested not only in Hebrew and Aramaic but also more widely in Semitics, with the meanings of hide, cover and bury. In the rabbinic literature of the first few Christian centuries, it carries similar senses and is used to describe special treasures stored away by God, such as the Torah and the souls of the righteous!"  Daniel looked hopefully at Jack, who was gaping past him at Ghennehessere.

"She's a LIBRARIAN?" Jack stuttered incredulously.  "I thought she was the town…"

Sam clapped her hand over Jack's mouth and muttered something about negotiable affection.

"Hooker," Teal'c finished for Jack, quirking a smug eyebrow.  Jack high fived him and peeled Sam off.

"Do you wish entry to Genizah?" Ghennehessere asked Daniel.  "Are you a scholar of repute?"

"I - have a reputation, yes," Daniel replied cautiously, avoiding his teammates' eyes.

"I'm not thrilled about the four of us going into the city," Jack warned him, low-voiced.  "CQB is a bastard."

"CQ…"

Sam slipped over to his side.  "Close Quarters Battle," she whispered.

"Ghennehessere isn't exactly visibly armed," Daniel observed after a brief moment of contemplation.  "Er - not that the embroidery isn't exquisite…"

"Hmm," Sam nodded agreement.  "I'm curious to know how they got the stitching into fabric that - filmy," she said brightly.

"This appearance does not please?" Ghennehessere asked, glancing down at her narrow wisps of heavily embroidered, lightly looped and criss-crossed flame-coloured silk.  The air around her shimmered like a sultry heat haze, revealing a small woman with mouse-coloured hair, grey eyes and a filthy grin.  She didn't seem in the least concerned that she was now being sighted down the length of two raised gun barrels and a staff weapon.  Daniel sensed it took a LOT to shake Ghennehessere.  Jack shrugged and relaxed a hair when she made no aggressive moves whatsoever, simply looked them over in the friendliest manner possible.

It was possibly her appearance.

A rather dirty knee protruded from a pair of elderly pants, her feet were clad in sandals that looked comfortable rather than stylish and the shirt appeared to have abandoned all hope.  It also appeared to have belonged to someone closer to Teal'c's height than Ghennehessere's, only the fearsome bundle of keys belted at her waist keeping it under control.  "Then you are beyond the lure of earthly pleasures."  Ghennehessere's brow wrinkled thoughtfully.  "Thank the Goddess.  It is tiring having to eliminate the faithless," she confided.

"Eliminate?" Jack asked with a grin that suggested he'd decided to like her even if she was an unlikely kick-ass something or other.

Ghennehessere stuck out her hand suddenly, her palm upraised, glaring up at the sky.  "Goddess, not again!  Give me strength to last 'til Quarter Day."

The heavens opened, the sudden torrential downpour battering them.  When Ghennehessere turned on her heel and ran like hell towards the forbidding gate they'd been parked outside of for the past half-hour, the team followed.  They arrived breathless, steaming, shivering, and in Jack's case whining, wedged into the lee of the gate.

"Your technology doesn't operate the gate automatically?" Sam asked, startled.

"The Goddess teaches humility," Ghennehessere responded with a vehemence that suggested the Goddess was talking out of her ass on this one.  She plucked the keys from her waist with the ease of long practice, pulling one clear of the others to open a small door in the gate for them.  Sam went through first to sweep the area, calling back to let them know it was okay.  Teal'c went through with Ghennehessere, then Daniel followed with Jack.

Ghennehessere locked the gate behind them and Daniel looked around interestedly.  Immediately before them was a sweep of velvety grass, starred with tiny flowers of many pastel shades, dropping steeply away after a hundred yards or so.  What there wasn't, was a city.

"We presumed, from the height of the wall, there was something in here," Jack said after a moment.  "Something big."

"Genizah," Ghennehessere agreed placidly.  "The Goddess teaches caution as well as humility.  Many things are hidden."

"That fits with the meaning of 'Genizah'," Daniel agreed eagerly, backing up from the shelter of the gatehouse to investigate the construction of the ramparts.  He was surprised to find there weren't any.  This was a wall.  Literally.

"Who is your goddess?" Teal'c asked disapprovingly.

"Your technology is similar to that of the Nox," Sam suggested.  "I'd really like to…"

"Can we PLEASE get out of the rain!"  Jack glared at them all.  "You remember the last time I got water in my ear?"  Various sour faces suggested Jack's loyal, loving teammates remembered this with perfect clarity.

"This wall isn't defensive," Daniel said to Ghennehessere.  His friends shut up and looked at him like he'd grown another head.  "There are no ramparts.  No battlements," he explained.

"It's too damned big to be decorative."  Jack patted the cool obsidian stone consideringly.  "What gives?  And the answer better not be the goddess," he added crisply.

"Genizah has its defences," Ghennehessere tossed out casually as she stuck her hand out into the deluge pounding down outside.  The wind was driving the rain into the gatehouse.  "The wall is not among them.  It merely serves to keep the unwary from our door long enough that we might reach them.  This place is not safe for any who do not walk with the Goddess."  She looked out at the rain, rolling her eyes.  "We will run," she said decidedly.

"Oh, yes," Jack emphatically agreed.

Daniel pulled his glasses off and tucked them into his pocket, then raced down the path after his friends.  Sam was still on point, reaching the edge of the drop first, reeling back in shock.

"Holy Hannah!" she gasped.  "If there isn't a city, then what…"

"Genizah," Ghennehessere answered with simple pride.

Daniel wiped his face and stepped up to the edge of what seemed to be a ha-ha of fairly epic proportions, Teal'c taking his shoulder in a firm grip as he leaned forward.  It was blurry, but if he squinted, he could still make out some detail.  There was a lake below them, a stone causeway spanning from the mainland to an island about half a mile out.  The causeway connected to a second gate, more stark obsidian walls rising steeply from it to encircle the island.  From this vantage, Daniel could just make out the peaks of roofs and towers.  "That's a library?" he breathed, awestruck.

"DanielJackson refers to the Genizah," Teal'c explained to Ghennehessere while Daniel ogled the promised land shamelessly.  "Library is the word used by the Tau'ri."

"Er - Daniel is a linguist - a scholar of the written word," Sam explained to their interested hostess, markedly more friendly now she wasn't faced with filmy anything.

"And the spoken," Jack interjected.  "Trust me on that.  He's way, way…"  Jack held his hand above his head, making little chopping motions.  "Way up there on the spoken."

"Then you are all the more welcome," Ghennehessere said happily to Daniel, heading confidently on.  A precipitous, winding path led down to the causeway.

When Daniel followed Ghennehessere, Jack was steering, constantly turning his head from snatching precious, longing glimpses of the library to the mundanity of watching where his feet were supposed to go in order to ensure the rest of him didn't unexpectedly go somewhere else.

"I bet they don't argue much about the fines round these parts," Jack said to Daniel.

Daniel didn't care.  He was in lust.  He just wanted to get in there and get tactile.  "Can you tell us something about your collection?" he asked Ghennehessere.

"Your technology."

"Your defences."

"Your goddess."

"No," Ghennehessere answered pleasantly.  "All is revealed at need."

"We need," Jack emphasised his point with an annoying little macho gesture involving his P-90.

"We will talk of our books," Ghennehessere told Daniel, completely failing to be intimidated.  "We have many volumes from this world."

"And others?" Daniel queried, glancing at the island again.

"The Goddess has visited many worlds and found their histories pleasing, though some…" Ghennehessere glanced frowningly at Sam and Teal'c.  "Enslavement by the false gods is a tale told by many."

"You know about the Goa'uld?" Sam challenged.

"I know that you carried one," Ghennehessere retorted.  "That you," she nodded at Teal'c, "carry one still.  An infant."

"I am Jaffa, born to serve the false gods until these…" he acknowledged his friends, "came to my aid.  We fight now for the freedom of both our peoples."

"Freedom is a worthy goal," Ghennehessere approved.  "A man may fear or worship what he does not understand.  I ask you: which is the slave?  The man whose body is owned by another but is free in his mind, or the man who binds himself body and soul to the service of a master he chooses?"

"The man should learn," Daniel interrupted.  "It's only by understanding that we're able to confront our fears and gain the necessary perspective to free ourselves from them."

"A wise answer for one so young and lovely," Ghennehessere approved embarrassingly, smiling.  "You may call me Ghenn."

"You may not," Jack retorted.

Daniel turned to scowl at him, which made it difficult to avoid the smug, knowing smirks of his very interested so-called friends, who were looking him up and down consideringly.  Lovely?  Jeez.

"All of you may," Ghenn amended easily.  She leaned close to Daniel as they negotiated a sharp drop where the path turned abruptly in on itself.  "Your father is stern," she muttered.

Sam tried and failed to suppress a snort of laughter.  "Colonel doesn't mean 'father'," she pointed out, her voice shaking.

Ghenn eyed Jack consideringly.  "No?  Someone should tell the colonel so, then."

Jack's ability to threat assess the library was hampered by being severely waterlogged and Daniel being fetchingly damp and ruffled right at him.  The whole wet T-shirt thing was…well…it was the only thing dragging Jack's eyes - and mind - from the way Daniel's BDUs were clinging to the shapely curve of his ass.  He was aware of Daniel and a lot of dark, forbidding stone, a fire, Daniel, a few moth-eaten, vaguely Roman epic movie-looking chairs scattered about, and Daniel.

Mostly Daniel.

Their linguist was poised at the foot of the vast, imposing flight of stairs that rose above them to a gallery.  Daniel was so eager to get up those stairs and start fondling diverse volumes, he was positively quivering.

"Do you have any books on technology?" Carter asked oh-so-casually.

Ghenn nodded vigorously, ambling over to a large, utilitarian library table set at right angles to the fire.  It was heaped with scrolls, books and papers, in what struck Jack as organised chaos.  Ghenn was able to put her hand immediately on something buried in the heap, neatly extracted it and spoke quietly into it.  "I have called Eiliana, Scollen and the others to attend us," she informed them.  "They will bring clothing and food.  Genizah knows you now.  All are welcome!" Ghenn beamed at them.

"Genizah knows us?" Jack asked slowly, frowning.  He eyed the fire, decided he'd get reasonable line of sight on Daniel's damp derriere, then sauntered over to toast his rear.

"Sir, I think I have the answer," Carter answered, starting to smile.  "Every library has a computer, right?"

"Computer?" Ghenn queried.  "I do not know this word."

"It is from the language of the Tau'ri," Teal'c offered.  "A computer is an electronic machine that carries out complex calculations, deals with numerical data and with the storage and rapid retrieval of stored items of information."  He looked smugly gratified at Carter's glance of surprised admiration.

Jack wondered if there was any subtle way to tactfully let General Kerrigan know Carter totally got orgasmic on the techno talk.

"Genizah is more," Ghenn said cheerfully.

"Artificial Intelligence?  A more sophisticated machine that can learn independently?" Carter asked, getting interested.  "Capable of - oh my!"

"Crap!" Jack seconded when he got a look at the new arrivals, sauntering down the stairs.  "Two of the Seven Sisters?" he demanded.

Ghenn was laughing all over her face.

"I can't help but notice one of the 'Sisters' is a guy!"  A tall, gorgeous, naked guy oozing enough oomph to power a small city.  That was bad enough but Jack could hardly bring himself to look at the other naked Sister.  The gender was right, but everything else was totally ewwwwwy, including the way Stud was looking at a woman old enough to be Teal'c's mom.

"Blessed Disciples of the Goddess," Ghenn greeted them fondly.

"You take 'em where you can get 'em, huh?" Jack asked, faux-sympathetic.  "Now THIS is more like it!" Jack darted forward to relieve the bustling, rosy cheeked dumpling of a Sister in a red velvet dress of her heavily burdened tray of enticing goodies.  There was something that looked like tea and would probably taste like shit, but the nibbles more than made up for it in his opinion.  "And you are?" he cosily asked the apple-dumpling.

"Tuyettana'al'anor'mi'son'a'gon."

"Tuyett?  Nice to meet you!  I'm Jack and why don't I help you with that?" Jack offered happily.  Tuyett looked up at him roguishly, handed him the tray and pinched his ass in a slick sleight of hand that commanded his utmost respect.

"I'm Daniel, this is Major Carter - you know Jack - and Teal'c," Daniel introduced them perfunctorily as he homed in on Ghenn.  "Genizah?" he prompted, looking pointedly at the stairs.

"Eiliana and Scollen," Ghenn chided Daniel gently, turning him to her fellow disciples.

Up close, Jack had to admit Eiliana had a serenity that reminded him of the Nox, a certain something in her eyes that made sudden sense of Scollen' s besottedness.  Hell, Jack had learned to think outside the box too.  He realised he was watching Daniel - again  - glancing up to see Scollen look at him knowingly.  Jack found himself grinning.

"Ah!" Ghenn called gladly.  "And this is…"

"Lurch," Jack blurted involuntarily, gawping at about seven feet of cadaverous retainer walking funereally down the stairs, his arms draped with bright clothing.

"Lokhail," Ghenn enunciated carefully, eyeing Jack in puzzlement.

"O'Neill's humour is unique to himself," Teal'c commented.

Tuyett helped herself to a fancy cake from the tray.  "Goddess blessed is the day Lokhail came to us!" she gloated, toasting Jack with the cake.

"He's the cook?" Jack looked Tuyett over carefully.  "That makes you?" he invited.

"Commander of the Armies of the Goddess," Tuyett admitted cheerfully, hefting another cake with a 'well if no one else wants it' look.

Scollen chuckled, bowing gracefully.  "I live but to serve, O Great One," he said ironically.

"You're the Army of the Goddess in its entirety?" Jack enquired politely.

"I suffice," Scollen purred, cat-satisfied.

"You must have very advanced weapons technology," Carter interjected.

Jack had to admire her damnable persistence.  She hadn't mentioned technology as many times as Daniel had mentioned the books but was solidly gaining ground.

"And the last two Sisters are?" Daniel prompted, allowing himself to be extracted from his soggy jacket by Lokhail, although he emerged from his T-shirt a few moments after that blinking and disconcerted, grabbing instinctively for his belt buckle as Lokhail closed in again.

Jack had to fight himself not to offer an assist.

"Cathalla and Crescy," Eiliana softly answered.  "They are querulous and old and will not make a journey to the Atrium without a new volume at the end of it, and a rare one at that!" she said humorously.

"They're old?" Jack asked Eiliana with exquisite courtesy and considerable disbelief, keeping his eyes firmly above her jawline to avoid nightmare recall later.

"Do you require assistance, DanielJackson?" Teal'c's voice boomed.

"Er - yes, I think so!" Daniel called agitatedly as Lokhail cornered him behind the library table.  "Our culture has a nudity taboo!" he bleated, beating at the housekeeper's hands.

The Sisters looked at one another, radiating puzzlement.  Ghenn shrugged, called off Lokhail, who handed Daniel the clothing with a deeply reproachful look, then the five of them politely turned away.

Daniel skirted the silent line, giving Lokhail a wide berth as he made it to the relative safety of his soggy teammates, sorting and handing out clothes to them.  Jack got a really lovely creamy tunic with a sensible bosom.  He held it up against himself and swished a little.

"Yes," Daniel said, his eyes gleaming with mischief.

"What?" Jack grinned.

"Your butt does look big in that."

Teal'c was eyeing Scollen' s buttocks thoughtfully.  "My own culture is not averse to nudity," he commented.

"No," Jack vetoed flatly.  Unless…he glanced at Daniel.  No, he thought regretfully.  Not a chance in hell.

The members of SG-1 retreated to the four points of the compass, backs modestly turned as they dispensed with their sodden fatigues and went native.  They were all dressed in similar pants and open-necked tunics, Carter in creams, Teal'c in black and deep grey, Jack in chocolate and spice, Daniel in navy and blue.

Rolling his tunic sleeves up casually, Daniel caught Jack staring at him and blushed.  He made a big production job out of retrieving and cleaning his glasses, slipped them on, decided he was as dressed as he could get and called out distractedly to Ghenn and the others that they were coming, ready or not.

Jack took that as a compliment.  He also took the mangy roman epic chair next to Daniel's, leaving them cosily knee to knee.  Literally.  It was kind of nice to see Daniel nervous and stealing little looks at him the whole time.  Jack really hoped that meant Daniel was beginning to see him differently.  He hoped Daniel was thinking about him, wondering…

It had been a really long time since he last let himself hope.  Loving Daniel was mostly endurance, hanging grimly in there until he could ask for - be - himself, Jack, not the colonel, not have Daniel worrying about how they were supposed to work together if he couldn’t offer Jack the chance he needed.

Gawd.  How pathetic could one man get?

The scary library talk ebbed and flowed, interspersed with snippets about the history of each of the Seven Sisters.  Ghenn didn't say much but listened as the others chatted freely.  They'd all travelled here from their own worlds and all had stayed.  Tuyett had apparently started out as the Commander of someone else's Army but like the others, she was a compulsive bibliophile.  They were all in this for the meaning of life stuff.  Daniel thoroughly approved and Jack didn't disapprove.  None of the Sisters had their heads up their asses and if they could take care of themselves, why the hell not have some fun?

"You will wish to communicate with your leaders, yes?" Ghenn asked.

"He's very particular about that, yes," Jack agreed solemnly.

"Genizah is yours to access.  All are welcomed, all are known," Ghenn said happily.  She handed him a small, sleek high-tech thingy, which Jack accepted with aplomb.  He'd talked into and at stupider things in his time.

"We need to establish a wormhole to communicate with our leader," Carter hinted broadly.

"Genizah will provide," Eiliana replied placidly.

"Can we PLEASE look at the books now!"

Everyone looked at Daniel, who was practically exploding with impatience.

"Carter?  You go with Scollen and Eiliana," Jack ordered, feeling Carter would trade a little bare skin for a crack at a weapons system.

"It was I who impaled his head on a spike!" Tuyett exclaimed excitedly.

Teal'c clapped his hand ritually across his chest in heartfelt Jaffa salute, bowing his head humbly before Tuyett.

"And Teal'c, you…"

"I will accompany Tuyettana'al'anor'mi'son'a'gon," Teal'c announced superbly.

Jack shot him a very hard look.  No one liked a smart-ass.

"We have much to discuss about the pointed disposal of one's enemies," Teal'c went on.

"Knock yourselves out," Jack ordered stiffly.

"I must attend the faithful in the Mandir," Ghenn said gloomily.  The Blessed Disciples of the Goddess made sympathetic noises.

"Temple," Daniel supplied for the benefit of his friends.  "Does that make you the high priestess, Ghenn?"

"Daniel?" Jack interrupted cheerfully, trying to focus his linguist on more immediate priorities than Ghenn climbing into a pulpit.  "You're with me."

Daniel was bouncy with excitement, Hammond was contactable and disposed to let them play nice in hopes of getting to keep at least one of the sleek little high-tech hand-held DHD's, the aliens were very nice, the food was good and Daniel was bouncy.  With excitement.

"This is incredible!" Daniel enthused, angling the screen of his particular high-tech thingy so Jack could share the incredibleness of it all.

Jack made all the right noises about the niftiness of the interactive library map, the interactive bit being the Genizah itself, which had whisked them from the Atrium across the city-library in a sleek inertia-less transport pod, a cross between a train and an elevator with plush, comfy seats, opened the doors at the right stop and begun to navigate them to the right room, a swirly symbol lighting in the wall ahead of them as they walked.

Jack had taken a left instead of the requested right and a different 'Not this way, stupid, that way!' type spiky symbol had appeared.  Genizah had very sophisticated motion sensors.  Carter was almost as drunk with possibility as Daniel.

"No way you're going to make it," Jack commented with quiet confidence, noting the hungry looks Daniel was casting each closed door they passed.  He wished Daniel was looking at him like that.

Daniel shook his head vigorously.  "If I start browsing, I'm doomed."  He glanced at Jack self-consciously.  "We don’t know how much time we have here.  Hammond could yank us back at any time or the Seven Sisters could turn round and bite us in the ass." Daniel shrugged awkwardly, looking unhappy.  "It's happened before."

Usually when Daniel really, really wanted something, Jack thought grimly.  "The only ass in danger round these parts is Eiliana's," he said emphatically.

Daniel brightened up.  "I think they're great together."

"Eeeeeky," Jack said agreeably.

"Jack!"

"But pretty great, yeah," he finished, grinning.  "What are we looking for, anyway?"

"Volumes referencing Heliopolis," Daniel breathed, his eyes glowing.  "We're here."  He pointed at a door ahead of them.  An arch of golden light glowed above it.

Jack thought Genizah knew a sucker when it saw one and was putting on a show for Daniel.

Instinctively he moved ahead, going through the door first.  He found himself in a round room, a window straight ahead of him, tall but narrow, illuminating a huge heavy wooden library table that stood in the middle of the black and white tiled floor, which was quite a way down.  There were two mezzanine galleries, the one they were on and one below them, each running right around the walls, though the bookcases stopped either side of the window.  There was a spiral staircase connecting each gallery down from the door level to the floor level.

Jack heard a gentle clatter to his right and realised Daniel had snuck past him.  By the time Jack got to the top rung of the staircase, Daniel was trotting towards the window on the level below, staring at his handheld thingy.  When Jack stepped onto the mezzanine, Daniel was happily browsing the shelves, gloating over regal bindings and crisp gold lettering.

"You know, I think there's far more to the Genizah than the library," Daniel announced, stooping to check a lower shelf.

Jack gaped at Daniel's ass, leaning feebly against the railing for support.

"I think it also contains artefacts and sacred…Ooooh!"  Daniel hunkered down, stroking the spine of a book with wondering, trembling fingers.  He looked up at Jack, wide-eyed, speechless and glowing, begging him to understand.

Jack understood passion just fine.  He did the moth to the flame thing, sat down with his back against the railing and empathised his lovelorn ass off.  Daniel was easily coaxed to sit beside him, wanting to share the thrill, balancing the book across their thighs so Jack held some of its weight, looking at Jack and having to take a deep, calming breath before he dared to open it.

One day, Jack sincerely hoped Daniel got all puppyish and bouncy like this for him.

"You know what this is?" Daniel asked softly as he drank in the first page, the exquisitely coloured hieroglyphs glowing against the creamy vellum.  "The Book of the Dead."

"The one that guy Budge translated?" Jack answered, smiling.  "The one you don't know why they keep reprinting him?"

Daniel looked up at him, touched and delighted Jack remembered this small, important thing, his smile from his heart.  "It's beautiful," he breathed reverently.

"Yes," Jack agreed, in all sincerity, looking at this sweet, beguiling guy he was in love with, all lit up and glowing.

"It's exciting," Daniel said in quite another voice.  "Illuminated manuscripts were copies of rare and fragile, usually far older, originals."  He looked up at the shelves, biting his lip.  "I'd give anything to see the Papyrus of Ani," he sighed, cradling the precious book to his chest.

"Anything?" Jack asked before he could stop himself.

Daniel jerked back to reality, stammering and hopelessly confused.

Jack rescued him from a tangled sentence, brushing his thumb over Daniel's lip.  Then Jack kissed him, slowly, tenderly, rubbing his lips over Daniel's, persuading him from stiffness to startled pliancy.  He pulled away, looking searchingly at Daniel.

"Oh," Daniel commented intelligently.

Jack grinned, kissing Daniel again.  He loved the way Daniel's mouth moved with his, hesitant, curious, gentle.  This was exactly what he hoped, that Daniel was generous enough and open enough to give him a chance.  Daniel jumped when Jack pulled the book out from between them, his hand following Jack's as he laid the book with due care on the floor behind him.  Then he slid his arms round Daniel, kissing him again, wanting to hold him close and make this good for both of them.

The truth was, he was as nervous as Daniel.  Right now this meant a hell of a lot more to Jack than it did to Daniel, whose major concern was probably not hurting the feelings of a good friend who happened to be in love with him.

This time though, Daniel tentatively kissed him back, tasting his mouth, delicately learning its contours.  When Jack sucked on Daniel's lower lip, Daniel sighed surrender of a sort, opening, allowing Jack's tongue to slip into him, stroking gently.  Jack didn't push it, he kept things warm and easy, kept his arms loosely clasped around Daniel's back, very aware of  sudden, restive shifts and more shyness than he'd been expecting.

He felt damned good when Daniel's hands slid up to rest on his shoulders.  He felt even better when Daniel's tongue flickered against his.  Jack returned the pressure, the two of them kissing more comfortably, their tongues slipping easily over one another.  It was still mostly about curiosity, but it was damned good.

When Jack pulled away, Daniel's eyes were closed, his cheeks flushed.  His tongue flickered out to touch his lower lip, to taste Jack on him.  When he opened them at last, Daniel's eyes were dazed and brilliant.  Jack hugged Daniel, folded him in, wrapped him close.

"Jack…" Daniel whispered, troubled.  "I'm not sure I…"

"Ssshh," Jack said fondly, stroking Daniel's hair.  "Just let it be for now."

"Come to my room," Daniel boldly invited.

"To talk?" Jack asked cautiously.

He was answered by embarrassed silence.

When Jack took a good look at Daniel's furiously flushed face, he guessed no, not just to talk.

Daniel sat at the library table surrounded by rare, precious books and illuminated manuscripts, his pen stuttering in his notebook, his heart pounding, his mind skittering as Jack smiled at him.  Jack hadn't stopped smiling since he'd - they'd - kissed.  "God!" Daniel tossed his pen down, disgusted with his own distraction.

Jack turned the page of the book he was perusing with neat, economical grace, still smiling quietly.

"You kissed me!" Daniel accused him.

"I plan to kiss you again," Jack responded smoothly.

Daniel's erratic attention immediately focused on Jack's mouth.

"Unless you object."

Still staring at Jack's mobile mouth, Daniel sighed heavily.

"Do you?"

"Mmm?"

"Object?"

"Yes."

"You do?"

"Please."

"What?" Jack asked gravely, his mouth twitching.

Daniel cleared his throat and looked desperately at his book.  "This is so unfair," he said after a moment, with low-voiced shame at his childishness.

"I agree."

Jack's evident sympathy made Daniel look up.

"I really was going to wait," Jack promised.

"I believe you," Daniel assured him after a moment.  Oddly, he did.  It was the only explanation Daniel could come up with for him not having seen any hints that Jack wanted him.  None.  He completely refused to believe he was so naïve he could have missed a torch of the proportions Jack seemed to be carrying for him.

Completely.

"It's okay to have second thoughts," Jack hinted, stealing looks over the top of his book, some turgid treatise on the art of war.

"Second?"

"Thoughts.  You know."

Daniel knew Jack needed to narrow the field if he was to have a clue what he was supposed to be having thoughts about and that was pretty much it for what he knew.

"About me coming to your room tonight."

"Oh."  Daniel winced at his gaucheness once again.  "That."  Not surprisingly, Jack appeared to be expectantly awaiting more by way of an answer.  Daniel decided not to give one, at least, not one Jack could use against him.  At this point he didn't know why he'd blurted out that invitation.  Except that Jack was a  good friend who was, unexpectedly, a really great kisser.  Really, really great.  "Jack?"

Jack looked up inquisitively.

"I do."  Daniel slumped at the table, propping his chin on his hands.

Jack slumped too.  "You do what?" he asked sympathetically.

"Like it when you do that - thing - with the book," Daniel said sadly.

Jack's expression suggested he didn't have a clue what thing although he was pretty sure which book.

"Look at me over the top of it," Daniel confessed, horribly embarrassed and incurably honest.

"Cool," Jack observed with quiet satisfaction.

Somehow, this was more compelling to Daniel than the kissing.  Jack wasn't at his ease, in fact, he seemed hyper-aware of Daniel, watching every move he made with hungry eyes.  The important thing though - Jack wasn't pushing.  Jack always pushed.  Not this time.  "This - chance - is important to you, isn't it?" Daniel asked diffidently, plucking nervously at his pen.

"It's - everything."

"I didn't think I had to say this," Daniel said haltingly.  "I thought you knew.  In case - I never knew!"  He looked anxiously at Jack.  "I do l-love you.  I do."  He sat up, retrieved his pen and determinedly re-read the sentence he'd been reading for half an hour.

"It's a start."

On to Part Two

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