JD-DIVAS: STARGATE SG-1 JACK & DANIEL SLASH FICTION
BY PHOENIX E

COVENANT  BY PHOENIX E

Part Two


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category:
Established Relationship.  Angst.  Hurt/Comfort.  Drama      
Season/Spoilers: Season 4 Set after 'The Light'.  No Spoilers.
Synopsis: Peril, salvation, uncertainty, conflict, life, love and a pact.
Warnings: Some Language, naughty bits.  Intense in some places.
Length:  176  Kb  

Completed and posted to the net  24 Oct 01.

Notes:  Phew!  So much for the last two months of my life!  Thanks to Biblio for beta reading and Mathew Reilly for writing.  I swear I did not make him up, he is an actual, real writer and the Temple is an actual book, or so Biblio assures me.  I wish to thank Mr Reilly for the brief exerpts from his book and my apologies for Daniel's reaction.  Unlike him, or Biblio I have not read it, but I'm sure it's a very fine book, even though  Daniel obviously has a few issues with it.  Jack however, thinks it's great.



 

Well, THIS is awkward.

Oh God, where's Daniel when I need him?  Not for the coming back from carrotland stuff, we're doing okay on that front. Maybe the first day I couldn't manage much more than grunting and twitching things, but we're well into day three now and it's looking pretty good for me getting all the way back to the way I used to be. The legs still don't work so good - won't take any weight yet, but I can move 'em okay and Madam Physio likes my 'muscle tone.'

Naw, all that's a piece of cake compared to what I'm facing right now.  Having my first post-carrot conversation with Carter.  Alone.  That'll teach me to force the boy to get some shut-eye, leaving me open for majors who feel the need to 'explain' why she said certain things during a certain recent contretemps I'd just as soon forget and wish to hell she would as well.  What's that thing they say?  No good deed goes unpunished?

She's popped her head in several times over the last couple of days, but every time she saw Daniel she ducked back out again.  From the itchy, scratchy, prickly feeling suddenly filling a room they both happen to occupy simultaneously, however briefly, I'm guessing they're still not speaking.  Whether they're too pissed to, or too embarrassed, I don't know, but one thing I DO know about the pair of them, they're both stubborner than my old Aunt Bess and take it from me, that woman was one cussed, obstinate piece of work.

Every time she's dropped by it's been obvious Carter has had 'something on her mind'. Oh golly gee, I wonder what it could be?  Crap. Frankly I'd rather eat broken glass than make her go through this. Or have to sit through it myself.  So far, we've managed to avoid it.  Much to my relief.

That is until today.  I finally got Teal'c to haul Daniel off, kicking and screaming, to put him to bed, and five minutes later in bustles my 2IC with THE FACE.  The one she's still wearing, the one where she looks like she's sucking a lemon. And she's going to make herself like it, if it kills her.

Right now I'm thinking sticking my head in a sack full of wolverines would be more fun but as I don't happen to have one at the moment I'll give ducking and weaving a shot.  See if I can get us both through this without either one of us having to actually say anything we'd rather not.

Maybe I can get her to explain wormhole physics to me again.  Oh God…

"You're looking well, Sir," she says finally as she sits up a little straighter in the chair.

"Yeah well," I shrug.  "It's all coming back to me.  Slowly, but it's coming.  The pins are still a little shaky, but hey, look!"  I reach over and grab the glass sitting on the bedside table and wiggle it at her.  "I can do tricks!"

Oh boy, that one didn't even rate a sour look.  Carter's bought a first class ticket on the guilt express and it's just pulled into O'Neill station.

"Sir, about what I said - "

"Carter," I quickly interject.  "If you're trying to work up to apologising for believing what the facts were telling you - you don't need to.  How were you supposed to know -  "

"Daniel knew," she retorts stonily.  "He knew and he was right."

Aw crap.  There it is. The other thing she's all bent out of shape about.  Daniel.  He's done it to her again.  Pulled a rabbit out of his hat and knocked her right on her ass.  She knows she should be right. He shouldn't be able to trump her all the time the way he does, without even trying.  She's top of her field, top of her game, she's got the backing and the blessing of officialdom, been validated up the wahzoo, commendations and medals and all the sciency stuff in her corner.  She says 'that's impossible' and we should damned well take her word for it - everything she knows, which to give her her due is considerable - says it damned well is, and then Daniel comes along, sniffs the wind, holds up three fingers, puts two and twelve together and gets 'No it's not'.

And he's right.   Drives her NUTS.

She doesn't know how he does it - I don't know how he does it - I don’t even know if HE knows - but you can't argue with results, although Carter sure tries. We're not going to drag up the whole 'figuring out the gate in two weeks thing' one more tired time, although that's when it started, and then he did it to her again in the cartouche room in Abydos, the very first time they laid eyes on each other.  She took that one like a trooper, but they'd only just met, she didn't know she'd just been introduced to the man who was going to keep right on thinking rings around her and making her feel like a chump. Not that Daniel tries to - or that's even his intention, it's the way she takes things so personally. Like if she doesn't get there first, she's let us down somehow.

I tell you, the way they've gone at it sometimes, it's been like having a front row seat to an accident waiting to happen all over you. No question it's going to get ugly, you just don't know when. She says 'no way, not possible.'  He says 'why not?' And then figures out a way to do what she swears can't be done.

Don't get me wrong, they're not always butting heads. When they're both on the same page - which happens more often then not - they're amazing.  You want to talk brainpower; Daniel and Carter pooling their considerable mental resources are one kick-ass combination leaving all the rest of us gasping in their dust.  They're happier than clams when they see eye to eye but when they don't…

This little brouhaha they just had has been brewing for a long time, and was unfortunately inevitable.  Sooner or later they had to come to seriously butting heads because of who they both are, and how they got that way.

They're both way too smart for their own good, but they're not the same.  Not in the way they think, in the way they look at things - their agendas, even.  It all stems, I think, from where they've both come from.  Completely opposite sides of the 'genius' spectrum.

Daniel doesn't take any of this personally. When he sticks to his guns and makes us listen to him he's doing it because it's what HAS to be done. He's not out to 'prove' anything, that's not where his head is at.  It's about getting the job done and making sure we do it right, not about anything else. Most of the time, the same thing applies for Carter, but she's got this other thing happening as well, because of the way she was treated, all her life, like she was something 'special'.  In a good way.  Not like Daniel, who got the spit on the geek treatment and had to fight tooth and nail for everything he ever accomplished.

The Mozart versus Einstein thing.  Child prodigy versus kid freak.  Daniel got the short end of the 'gifted' stick. The one everyone around you who resents you for being 'better' uses to try to beat the crap and the life out of you for being what you are. Daniel's pretty much always gotten backhanded for being the best he could be.  Coming into this world 'special' was no treat for him.

Carter on the other hand, got to be the golden girl.  The trophy child, put on display, patted, preened and encouraged.  Expected to perform.  The more tricks she did, the more strokes she got.  Sure, she had pressure put on her too, but it was a different kind.  She had to keep being the best, to not only live up to, but to exceed the expectations that were placed on her by everyone cheering her on and then later, the ones she placed on herself.  She 'performed,' all right, was so good at it they're talking about erecting a shrine to her at the Air Force Academy.  She got more than used to being the best of the best, in a class all by herself, it's been drilled into her for so long she has to be - she's a little competitive.

So far this hasn't been a problem for her because her entire life, practically, she hasn't had any competition. There wasn't anyone around could touch her for smarts. Then she met Daniel, and all of a sudden she had to do something she's NEVER had to do before.

Come to grips with the fact that now she wasn't the only genius in the room. There was someone on her team and in her face who could not only match her, but could whip her without even breaking into a sweat.  That's not the way Daniel looks at it, and she tries not to, but every time one of Daniel's 'hunches' proves out over her logic and reason and scientific certainty…

Oy!

I've got a real situation on my hands here. And I don't have a frigging clue how to make these two kiss and make up.  But I'd better find one, at least get them talking to one another before we have to all go back through that gate again.

Hey, this is part of why they pay me the big bucks. Oh well, here goes nothing.

"Yeah, I know," I soothe.  "He um, was.  That's true.  But hey!"  I flash my biggest, bad boy grin at her and hope to god I've still got enough clout with her to pull off laying on the charm.  "I'm back!  That's the main thing, right?"

She manages a tight little grudging grin and awkwardly shifts her gaze to the side.  "Yes, Sir," she admits, giving an unhappy little flounce like doing it is killing her.

"Carter," I cajole. "I know Daniel can be a little - frustrating - at times, but he means well and you have to know - if it had been you lying in this bed instead of me, he would have fought JUST as hard  - "

"I know that, Sir, I do!"  she bursts out miserably.  "It's just sometimes I feel so  - "

"And I know you mean well too," I tell her sincerely.  "You're doing the best you know how to do."

"Even when I'm wrong?" she asks quietly.

"Carter, no one is infallible!" I smile at her again.  "No one is expecting you to be! And you're not the only one who is occasionally wrong.  It might not seem that way to you right now, but Daniel's pulled his fair share of boners."

She shoots me a sudden, piercing look and it takes everything I have to keep the grin off my face at what's going through my head because of what's just come out of my mouth.

"You're just saying that to make me feel better," she grins at me.

"Would I do that?" I grin back at her.  "News-flash.  God's honest truth.  Daniel is not perfect."

But he can give a blowjob you wouldn't believe.   Probably not a particularly useful piece of information to interject into the conversation at this point, but it's definitely making my mind wander.

"Then I guess it's okay if I'm not either," she sighs.

"Carter, not only is it okay, I really wish you'd cut yourself some slack and give it a try once and a while.  Trust me, lighten up.  You're doing fine."

"Thank you, Sir," she replies and pulls a face at me.  "From now on I'll try harder to screw up."

Crap.  Kidding me.  She's kidding me, right?

"That's a joke, Sir."  Carter's grin is a lot bigger this time.

"Whew, that's a relief! Had me going there, for a minute."

She's definitely looking a lot less bugged then when she first walked in so I'm thinking I can risk steering the conversation down reconciliation road when Our Lady Physio sticks her head in the door and chirps, "Colonel O'Neill, it's time for your exercises!"

Crap.  She's got the chair and the 'I'm gonna make you sweat' smile on her face.  My ass is grass.

"Aw, didn't we just do all that?"  I grumble as she briskly wheels the chair up to the side of the bed.

"And now it's time to do it all again," she beams at me.  "Come on now, Colonel, into the chair we go.  You don't want to lose that lovely muscle tone, now do you?"

Oh no.  Definitely wouldn't want to do THAT!

"Well, I'll just leave you to it, then, Sir," Carter nods as she BAILS on me.

Traitor!

 


 

"Punch it, Teal'c.  Burn rubber. They'll never take us alive."

"I was not aware anyone was pursuing us, O'Neill," Teal'c observes solemnly as the chair I'm sitting in and he's barely locomoting crawls down the corridor.

Hey, how to suck all the fun out of it, Big Guy!  I'd be making better time on my hands and knees. Which, okay, without the chair is pretty much the way I would be proceeding. I can walk across the room now, but extended strolls 'round the mountain?  Not quite yet.  But I'm mobile enough for the Doc to sign me off and tell me to quit littering up her infirmary. I'd be more than happy to oblige her and summarily blow this Popsicle stand forthwith. But I ain't goin' nowhere until I can find the archaeologist I'm currently short to come with.

Hah hah.  Mind's in the gutter again.  Hell, it never left.

"Just - pick up the pace a little will ya?  Gotta find Daniel."

He's been mighty scarce today, and it's worrying me.  All the way through this he's been an absolute rock. From the first moment I started to go down for the count on 204 'til I didn't need to lean on him to stand on my own two feet again he hasn't spared a moment for himself.  Yeah sure, once I came out of it we made him rest - under protest - but he's just carried on without letting on - not once - how he has to be feeling.  Now the worst of it is over and we all know I'm going to be fine he's bolted.  That's not good.  The only time Daniel runs is when he's trying to stay one step ahead of the boogies crawling around in his head and he doesn't want to 'burden' anyone with what happens when they catch up with him.  Doesn't want to be a 'bother'.

All I can say is after everything you've just done for me - BOTHER me, Daniel. Please!

"We have failed to locate DanielJackson in all of the locations you were sure we would find him," Teal'c accurately, and quite annoyingly, I might add, observes.   "Where do you wish to proceed to strike out next?"

"Sarcasm does not become you," I sneer.  "You think you're so smart?  You choose!"

"Very well, O'Neill," Teal'c replies in a distinctly smug tone of voice as he pulls an abrupt wheelie and hundred and eighties us back the way we came.

 


 

"He TOLD you?"  I howl as we approach the door to the commissary. "You knew exactly where he was - all this time?"

"Indeed," Jaffa the Smug informs me.  "DanielJackson was aware you were going to be released today.  He surmised you would also wish to be apprised of his whereabouts, as you would require his assistance for the journey home.  Therefore he informed me where he could be located when he was needed."

"You KNEW!"  I fume.  "You knew where he was the whole time and you let me take us on a fool wild goose chase all over the frigging mountain  - why didn't you just TELL me?"

"You did not ask, me, O'Neill."

I knew he was going to say that!

Teal'c propels me into the commissary and there he is, as promised, Daniel, slumped over a cup of coffee, such an unguarded look of complete misery on his face it cuts me deep to see it there. When I see how hard these past few weeks have been on him it suddenly hits home what almost happened to me hasn't really sunk in yet either,  and suddenly I NEED  - all I want is to get him out of here, home, ASAP so we can be alone, REALLY alone and just -

His head snaps up as he hears us come in.  His huge eyes devour me; they're full of fear and relief, desperation, anticipation and an urgent need to have me closer than we've able to be with all eyes on us watching every move we make.  For one single, aching second I can see his need, like a living, hungry thing, how much he wants me, HAS to - has to have me or he's going to come shrieking right out of his skin and I feel it right back at him and then some.  It's all I can do to stop myself from springing right out of this chair and giving him everything he wants, right here, right now, they can lock me up for the next thousand years, oh God, it would be worth it!

I look into his smoking, sparking eyes and I see what I couldn't that day, the fierceness of what he feels for me that bound us both, irrevocably together in that godforsaken place.  I see now why it couldn't have gone any other way.  He could no more let me go than I -

You and me.  All the way.  The only way it can ever be. I understand that now, Daniel. I do.  I won't ever try to hold you back from where you need to be again. Promise.  There are worse things than dying, after all.

Daniel's gaze twitches to the man wheeling me toward him and he instantly shuts it right off.  Nothing to see here but one slightly grumpy archaeologist who's been killing some time, cooling his heels.

"Well, it's about time!"  Daniel grouses as we pull up to him.  "No wait, don't tell me," he favours Teal'c with a 'long-suffering' look.  "He had to do it HIS way, right?"

"Ah, leave me alone, we got here, didn't we?"  I grouse right back at him.  Daniel's wearing his 'I'm looking at the most annoying man who ever lived' face but his eyes are shining as they rove hungrily over me and the hand clamped on the arm of the chair is white knuckled and slightly shaking.

"Thanks for putting up with him so far, Teal'c," Daniel gives my chauffeur a grateful glance. "I think I can manage from here."

"Are you certain?"  Teal'c regards me severely as he crosses his arm.  "O'Neill is proving to be unusually obstreperous today.  I am aware of several complaints from the medical personnel about his lack of co-operation."

Pfft!  I resemble that remark.  I've been the utter epitome of cheerful compliance.  All that other stuff - nothing but vicious rumours, lies and fairy tales.

Daniel heaves a weary, 'like this is NEWS' sigh. "Don't worry," he assures our large friend.  "He gives me any grief I'll just roll him into the garage and leave him there.  Let him stew 'til he decides to behave."

Like HELL!

"HEY!"

My indignation is abruptly interrupted as the commissary door flings open.  Ferretti comes flying in, and he's brought some friends.

"Colonel!" he waves what he's carrying at us as he and his entourage start loping over toward our table. Daniel stiffens.  I'm not sure what's going on.

"Really glad I caught you!"  Ferretti continues.  "I wanted to say thanks for the book.  It's GREAT!"

Book?  Oh - the BOOK!

"I hope you don't need it back right away," Wilson pipes up as he peeks around Ferretti.   "Um - I got dibs on it next."

"It's going to be doing the rounds for a bit," Ferretti shrugs.  "The word's gotten out.  Everyone wants to read it, well because - " he winks at Daniel. "Great job, Doc."

"What?"  Daniel bleats.

"Aw, come on!"  Ferretti grins knowingly at Daniel.  "You can 'fess up!  We KNOW.  Matthew Reilly.  Yeah, right!"

Daniel's mouth gapes open as Ferretti's followers clusters around him, watching expectantly while he theatrically opens the dreaded tome at what is obviously a specially chosen passage and commences to read. Loudly and dramatically.

"Hello," the man said in heavily accented English, taking Race completely by surprise.

"Hey there," Race said.  "You, ah, want to tell me what's going on here?"

"These people are the direct descendants of a remote Incan tribe.  They observed that you are possessing of the Mark of the Sun, that birthmark under  your left eye.  They think you might be the second coming of their saviour, a man they know as the Chosen One.  But they want to test you first to be sure."

"And how exactly are they going to test me?"

"They will put you in the pit and then they will open the gate that separates it from the moat, allowing one of the caimans to enter the pit with you.  Then they will see who survives the subsequent  confrontation, you or the caiman.  You see, according to their prophecy - "

"I know," Race said.  "I've read it.  According to the prophecy the Chosen  One will bear the Mark of the Sun, and be able to fight with great lizards  and save their spirit."

The man looked at Race askance.  "You're an anthropologist?"

"A linguist."

"That's just like what almost happened to the Colonel on P8J-537."  Ferretti observes with an evil grin.

"Except for the birthmark," I correct him.

"Oh yeah, except for that.  You don't have one of those."

"And the big lizards," I add.

"That's right," he nods.  "Forgot about that, no big lizards."

"And they didn't really think I was their CHOSEN one -"

"I did NOT write that book!"  Daniel blusters.  "Not only did I not WRITE it - I wouldn't be caught dead READING it!"

"Whatever you say, Doc," Ferretti deadpans.  "When's the next one coming out?  You are going to write a sequel, right?"

Daniel snaps to his feet, his eyes frosty as he grips the back of the chair and wheels me abruptly around.  "Excuse us," he bites out in a brittle tone that could flay the hide off a water buffalo.

"Later, Doc!"  Ferretti motions for the crowd to give way and let us pass.  "I know you must be anxious to get back to it."

Daniel keeps walking.

"Can I be in the next one?" he calls out as the crowd starts hooting with laughter.

"This is YOUR fault!"  Daniel hisses at me.

"Not this time," I grin back at him.  Though I will admit I wish I had thought of it.  "Come on, let's just go home now - "

"Don't say it!"  Daniel warns.

"'Matthew'."

"You SAID it!"

"Would you rather I call you Race?"

"Would you rather have no teeth in your head?"

"Race.  I like it.  Has a nice ring to it."

"I'll KILL you."

"You just got me back."

"Don't remind me.  Can't imagine what I was thinking."

"Aw, gowan, you missed me.  'Race'.

"I mean it - don't you dare - "

"Tell me, I have to know. WILL you, RACE - "

"I'll take you to the top of the mountain and push you right off."

"Won't."

"Try me."

"Will you autograph my copy for me?"

"God, I HATE you."

"Yeah, I know."

 


 

One second after he kicks my front door closed he shows me just how much he hates me by whirling me around and latching onto me like a limpet.  "Jack," is all I hear before he buries his face in my neck, holds on for dear life and just - shakes.  I grab him back too.  I'm not quite up to giving him one of my usual rib crushers, but I hold him with everything I've presently got, which still ain't too shabby.  Just hug him close and quiet and give him what he needs.

It's doing wonders for what ails me, as well.

Still, I know how his mind works and from what he's darkly muttering I also know where he's headed, so before he tumbles too far down into that black pit waiting for him I draw back, despite his protests, take his face in my hands and make him look at me.

"Listen, to me, Daniel," I tell him firmly, gently.  "It's over.  It DIDN'T happen like all the other times you couldn't save them.  Do you understand what I'm saying to you?  It DIDN'T happen.  You saved me.  You SAVED me. You've broken the cycle.  You did it."

He stares at me, blinking rapidly with confusion as my words penetrate. "It didn't happen," he slowly parrots and the clouds in his eyes start to lighten with understanding. "I - I…"

"You made it this time," I smile at him and gently lean in to place a light kiss on his lips. "I'm still here. You beat it.  You saved me."

"Yeah," he breathes, and a shy grin lights up his face.  "I did, didn't I?  I really…did."

More completely than you'll ever know.

"So, what do you say you finish what you started and help me to bed?"  I waggle my eyebrows suggestively.

"That's not really good for me right now, Jack," he frowns, his eyes sparking with sudden mischief.  "I think I'm going to be busy.  Very busy, I feel a sudden, strange urge to, oh, I don't know, write a book  coming over me and until I get it out of my system my calendar's gonna be pretty much full up, but tell you  what, seeing as it's you  I'll pencil you in for an hour next Thursday - no promises, now - "

"Aw, clam up and drive," I growl at him as I throw my arm over his shoulder and give him a healthy hip butt to head us down the hall.

He's already naked and sprawled on the bed while I'm still wrestling with my belt buckle.  I'm beat, my hands are shaking and I know he can see it, but he's holding carefully back, waiting, watching me for cues. I know he's aching to help and yet he doesn't want - he's not sure what I from him now.  I've been subjected to just about every personal indignity you can think of, been fully aware of it the whole time and haven't had a thing to say about it through most of it.  He doesn't want to further insult me by offering 'help' I might not want or appreciate now I don't have to take being manhandled or 'helped' by anyone any more.

Hey, Daniel, when you gonna get it through your head as far as I'm concerned, you're not just anyone.

Not only am I going to set him straight on THAT score, I fully intend to take everything he wants to give me.

Once I've struggled out of the rest of my gear I fall back on the bed beside him.  I'm whacked. Just getting this far, from the base to home, has me wheezing with the shakes but the Doc warned me I'd tucker out easy at first. You can't loaf around on your back for almost a month without losing a little get up and go.  No biggie. I'll get it back.  But for now, I gotta go slow.  Which might be alarming Daniel a tad, my evident - but only temporary - weakness, but to be honest, I'm not minding it one bit. Let's just say not being up to swinging off chandeliers with my usual enthusiasm suits my mood at the moment.  I need something else right now.  I need him. Needing me.

Sure, there was a time - not that long ago, actually - when I'd have been freaking about being this way.   After this lengthy episode of having no control over anything happening to me the first thing on my mind would have been going Neanderthal all over my archaeologist just to feel like 'the man' again.  That was then.  Things have changed, and so have I.  Most of it's all down to him.

Crap, I can't believe how much of my life I screwed up buying into that garbage. All those years of thinking I needed to be the macho, stone-faced, buttoned up tight Colonel Control.  Not gonna give it up, give in, give way, unbend or admit I was only human after all. Being that jerk who would never let go or see things any other way but his cost me Sara. It almost cost me Daniel too, but that's another story.

Daniel - well, Daniel's been responsible for altering more than a few of my perceptions. Expanding my horizons.  Rocking my world.  Let's just say he's taught this old dog more than a few new tricks. Woof.  I'm currently hankering for my latest lesson.

I'm slightly winded and sweaty as I turn to him and see the kind, concerned expression on his face.

"Are you okay?" he murmurs as he reaches out a careful hand and wipes the perspiration from my forehead.  Yeah, I'm tired, but I'm not going to break, so I show him and answer his question at the same time by curling my hand around the back of his neck and pulling him in for a kiss.

Oh yeah, the mouth definitely still works.  Works just fine.  He sighs, winds his arms around my neck and plasters the rest of him to me as tightly as our lips are locked.

Jeepers, the boy can kiss.  I don't know what I love more - kissing him or feeling HIM kissing me.  He's just…so…and then when he…it's not just the way his mouth feels on mine, it's everything, the way he gives so much, feels so good, all of him over all of me, I just can't get enough of it.  Or him.  Especially when he does - his thing - I'm getting stiff as a poker just thinking about it.

"Are you SURE you're okay?" he pulls just far enough away to whisper against my mouth.

"The spirit is definitely willing," I answer, as I buck gently into him by way of illustrating my point.  "Parts of me are up for it but…"

"Don't worry about a thing," Daniel purrs, and the husky, sexy sound of his voice makes me shiver.  "I'm driving, remember?"

Oh YEAH!   Do me, Doctor J!  THAT'S what I want right now!

I sprawl out on the bed, getting good and comfortable, letting myself turn into happily anticipatory Jell-O while Daniel carefully straddles my thighs. I love this part!  He's so cute the way he fidgets and futzes, like a cat meticulously kneading the blanket until it finds JUST the right position to suit it before it lies down. It's a big part of the whole 'ritual' for him; he has to get himself settled to his satisfaction so he can just let go and get into what he'll be doing to me.   It takes him a while to get himself 'set', but that's okay.  What's coming next is well worth the wait.  Watching him is just as much of a turn on as waiting for it.

I can't believe how hard I fought it, the first time he wanted to do this for me.  I wasn't exactly with the program, told myself I'd humour him, just play along even though every 'take charge' instinct I had was yelping at me it wasn't right to just lie there and let someone else do all the work.  You know, the 'you have to make sure it's good for them or you're not doing your job' stuff.  I'm not saying I believed I always had to be the one calling the shots, but I had to be at least interactive - giving as good as I was getting.  All right.  Performing.  Giving them their money's worth. So to speak.

Yeah, it was disturbing at first to just lie there and not move on Daniel while he was pleasuring me, but it also felt good - surprisingly, shockingly - GOOD to let go and not have to DO anything or prove anything or - well, it felt good - just like it feels right now, to close my eyes and focus on nothing but the feeling of his hands moving over me.  Touching, stroking, so carefully, reverently. To let go of everything and tumble into the pure, sweet sensations with nothing to distract me from the slow, sensuous build of tingling, enveloping pleasure. No performance anxiety.  No pressure, just - oh yeah - this is amazing.  So is he.

That first time, there I was, totally zoning on what Daniel was doing to me, actually shocked by how liberating it felt to not have to - to just LET him - but at the same time I was still feeling weird, and guilty - not getting what Daniel was getting out of it with me just lying there like a pleasure-sucking lump while he was doing all the work, until I cracked an eyelid and caught the look on his face.

He was zoning too, totally gone, almost like he was in a trance.   I'd never seen him look more incredible - or happier. To be allowed to have total license to - to touch me. Just - touch me. Any way he wanted, for as long as he wanted - was exactly what he wanted, and boy oh boy, was he getting into it!  God, he was something!  He was serene, transported, eyes dewy and distant, so focussed and blissfully rapt - a vision of total contentment.

What was he getting out of it? Plenty.  To see him - so utterly content, and all I had to do to do THAT for him was absolutely nothing?  Except -

I let it all go, and let him.  He was happy and I was getting pleasured out of my skull without having to move a muscle.  The only one having a problem with it was me. Which was stupid.  I never let it bother me again.

Now I can't imagine not having this - not having him.  Yeah, we do the wild and crazy screaming the house down, rough and tumble stuff too.  Plenty interactive.  But this, letting go - letting him - it's so incredible, such a fucking turn on to not have to do anything or be anything but willing to be done.  Take me, I'm yours. Absolutely.  Bend, me shape me, make me bark like a dog. Oh yeah. Daniel's driving and it's a hell of a ride.  I'm drowning in a sea of bliss already and he's just getting me warmed up.

He moves slowly, methodically over me, loving me ardently, filling my body with renewing fire everywhere he touches me. Every tender flick of his tongue, each brush of his smooth lips, the way he licks, kisses, caresses my sweet spots with gentle, knowing fingers, playing me, working me - God - why didn't I see this before, what he's doing -  he's been telling me all this time and I just wasn't -

I've been a fool. Honest mistake, Daniel talks all the time, he's one of the most persistently articulate people I've ever met, so naturally I'd assumed if he wanted to express certain - feelings - he'd do it n words but I never realised - there's another way he communicates, because he almost NEVER touches anyone…

I got taken in by the linguist thing - waiting for it to come in words, but that wasn't it, wasn't the way he was telling me he loved me.  He wasn't holding out on me by not saying - he's been hollering 'I love you' all along.   Speaking volumes in the language of touch.

Oh God, coming through loud and clear now, Daniel.

I sneak a peek at him.  His eyes are half-closed and glazed with desire, his cheeks tear-tracked, but his face is glowing.  He leans toward me to lightly nuzzle his lips against my stomach and I feel his smile warming my skin.  His touch is stronger, more confident than I've ever known it, and the serenity pouring out of him  - there's a peace, a calmness, I really wasn't expecting. No shadows, no sorrow.  He's happy and blissful, growing more and more content with each square inch of me he slowly claims.

Maybe it's crazy, I can't know this for sure, but something about his expression, and the deliberate, almost reverent feel to his movements,  it suddenly strikes me he's using his slow, methodical savouring of me to change what he's  understood as 'truth'.  Like he's made a choice he no longer wishes to be a prisoner of his fears of the past, and with this one, powerful, affirmative act he's banishing his belief he's doomed to lose everything he ever loves.  He knows that's no longer true.

He's 'earned' me, he's taking me in, freeing himself from all fear. I'm here, and he's never going to have to face a moment without me again.  No matter what.  That's what he wants to believe in from now on, the joy, the reality of THIS  - not the pain and loss of the past, and in his mind he's making it so.  Him and me.  All the way.

Works for me.

"Promise," I mouth at him and catch the grateful, acknowledging fire in his eyes before I sigh and settle back once again to let him go to town.

Ohhhh DannyDannyDanny, what you do….

I'm so deep into what he's doing to me I'm barely aware of him shifting off me and settling himself down on his stomach between my legs.  Again, he takes his time and I just  lie still, letting him arrange me the way he wants me so we're both comfortable.  He's going to be here for a while.

This is the best part. Daniel loves to play, and I'm his favourite toy.  I never know quite what's going to happen when he gets busy - and creative  - down below but in this particular context I don't mind being surprised.  At all.

My happily throbbing dick gets a nice, warm pat and then sparks start shooting behind my eyelids as I feel a hot, moist tongue curling teasingly around my balls.  Daniel's taking his sweet time, but it's been so long, not to mention it crossed my mind more than once while I was stuck in lumpsville I'd never feel him - oh God, sucking - sucking is good - again….

Blow me doooowwwnnn….

I come back down to earth and slide straight into a deep, lazy kiss.  I'm feeling charged, riding high on a sudden wave of excited, enthusiastic strength,  so I  wrap my arms around Daniel and crush him to me.

"That woke me up," I mutter as I up the ante on the bearhug and try to climb down his throat for a few extremely mutually pleasurable moments.  "Feeling MUCH better now."

"I noticed," Daniel chuckles as he grabs my butt with both hands, squeezes and makes me groan.  "Turn over."

Oh yasure youbetcha.  Time for the flipside.

I barely have time to pillow my head on my arms before Daniel has leapt on top of me again, his twitching, oozing shaft sliding over my ass and driving me as crazy as his tongue is, burning a torrid trail straight down my spine.  His hands are shaking with excitement as he cups my ass, parts my cheeks and slithers his tongue slowly down in-between.

I can't stop the moan that comes out of me as his tongue slides in to me.  It's oh - WOW - this is new but it's -

"More!"  I moan again as another teasing thrust sends shocks all through me.

"Are you sure?"  Daniel leaves off licking long enough to enquire.

"Baby, you worked damned hard to save this ass," I breathlessly assure him.  "You so own it.  Do with it what you will."

I'm fumbling under the pillow for the lube when it suddenly hits me something feels off.  He's still patting and licking so everything must be okay, but something's still missing.

Oh yeah!

"Well aren't you going to say it?" I smile into the pillow as I locate the tube.

"What?"  he murmurs in a distant, preoccupied voice.

"Don't call me baby. That."

"No," he whispers so softly I almost don't catch it and his hands still.  "You can call me whatever you want."

The tenderness in his voice aches inside me almost as much as the way he touches his lips to my ass.  Now I know later, when he isn't feeling quite so mushy he'll have a rather vehement change of heart about what he just told me and I'm not that much of an opportunistic shit I'd take advantage of something said in a moment of sentimental weakness.

The hell I'm not.

"C'mere."

I roll onto my side as he eagerly moves up toward me. I've already got a generous dollop of lube in my palm, warmed up nicely.  I give him a nice, thorough grease job along with a few good healthy pumps while he attacks my mouth noisily and enthusiastically.  "Now, hurry up and do me," I finally manage to grunt and place the tube in his hand.

He doesn't waste time.  We get to three fingers before you can say, 'fuck me blind' and I arch back to meet him the instant I feel that sweet burn of him pushing carefully inside me. He's aiming for slow and steady but I have other plans.  He drives me nuts when he completely loses it, and right now I think he needs to be an animal as much as I want to feel it.  I'm going to give inciting him my best shot.

He hisses with surprise as his balls abruptly slap against my butt.  My head is swimming with sensation and I almost fall right back into how good he feels rammed into me to the root, but I don't want to give him a chance to recover.  So I tighten around him, grind my ass back into him.

"Jack!" he cries as his hands clamp on my hips and he starts pumping  with ferocious abandon.  Yes!  Higher cognitive functions switched off, snakebrain in the driver's seat.  Drill me, Doctor.  I'm feeling no pain.

Daniel is gasping with exertion as he slumps, slick and heaving against my back. He clutches my chest frantically, sobbing into my shoulder as his hips rock and slam rapidly, repeatedly against my ass.  Every driving thrust sends me closer to escape velocity for the second time.  We're huffing and grunting as he wildly humps me halfway across the bed before he finally explodes and collapses on top of me in a shuddering, twitching tangle of sweaty, shaking limbs.  The sound of his scream gets me right off with him and for the next few minutes I'm seeing nothing but stars.

All those years I wasted playing with a telescope.  Geez.

Daniel's still wound around me like an anaconda as he spoons up happily behind me in a bleary, contented, post-orgasmic haze.  "Jaaaack," he purrs as he scrunches his face into my shoulder and heroically inhales.  "JackJackJackJackJackJack.  Mmmmmmmmmmm……"

He's gone. That's my boy.  Happily adrift in the snuggle zone.  My turn to play.

"How ya doing, baby?"  I ask him as I stroke the arms wrapped around my chest.

Daniel giggles and kisses the nape of my neck. Geez, maybe he wasn't kidding before!  Well, that's no fun!

"Sweet cheeks?"  I venture.

More giggling, accompanied by nuzzling.  Crap.

"Love muffin?"

And - we're laughing.  This is creeping me out.

"Snookums?"

Daniel has segued into snorting and I am commencing to make myself sick.  If this doesn't piss him off NOTHING will.

"Danny-wanny?"

Daniel laughs any harder he's going to hurt himself. Aw, for crying - wait a minute!

"You're playing with my head!"  I sputter indignantly.

"Oh God, oh Jack you're so EASY!" he howls and collapses roaring against me.

"I'll show YOU easy, you son of a bitch," I snarl as I twist about in his arms and jump on him.

"No TICKLING, goddammit!  Jack!  Cut it out!  BASTARD!"

I love you too.

 


 

Epilogue

"So, um, by the way, did I ever say thank you for the whole…" I ask Daniel as the elevator doors close behind us.

"Saving your life thing?" he shrugs as the metal box we are the sole occupants of starts descending into the maw of the mountain.

"Yeah," I nod.  "And - "

"The not giving up on you thing?"  he supplies, his small grin getting a little wider.

"Yeah.  That.  I'm willing to let the carrots thing go, but did I?"

Daniel is silent for a moment, and then he smiles at me.  Not one of his shy, fleeting, 'blink and you'll miss it smiles', or his 'hurts him to do it but he'll manage one for you' kind of smiles, or even one of the' I really do think that was funny and I know it doesn't look like it, but this is as good as it gets, folks', smiles.

Nope, this is THE SMILE. The one that makes my heart jump and my toes curl, and I'm the only one who ever gets to see it.  Mine, all mine.  Just like he is.  The one that looks like a cross between 'cat with all the cream' contented and 'I know something I won't tell' smug, that slowly spreads all over his face lighting him up like a Christmas tree.  With one big, fat, filthy secret.

"Oh yeah," he glows at me.  "Fifteen or sixteen times. At least."

"Really? No foolin'?  That many?"  Hey, I'm impressed.

His eyes dance as he does the screwing up his forehead thing like he's giving something some serious thought.

"Actually, now that I think about it, that was probably a slightly conservative estimate.  I wasn't exactly keeping score, but if you want a more accurate total - OW!"

I really hate to cut him off like that but we've arrived.  "Hey, shtum!"  I growl at him, elbowing him sharply in the ribs as the car bottoms out on 28 and the doors start to open.  "Tell me later," I throw over my shoulder and quickly exit.

You would too.  Let's just say, he's not smiling now.

"THAT HURT!"  he complains, loudly, gingerly rubbing his side and burning a couple of reproachful holes in my back as he follows me.

He gets it as soon as he sees the crowd in the corridor.  I'm not saying the whole base turned out to welcome me back into the fold, but I had a feeling one or two people would be hanging around down here when they passed the word from up top Jack was back.

It's kinda cool to run the gauntlet of well-wishers, and nice to know they did miss me.  By the time we coast into the control room Daniel is smiling again.

"As if your head isn't big enough already," he mutters at me as we enter.

"I'll let you take me firmly in hand later," I shoot back at him and then smile engagingly at the assembled.

"Jack!"  Hammond beams at me, a sincerely happy look on his large, round face. "Welcome back.  The place hasn't been the same without you."

"Indeed," Teal'c adds gravely, his dark eyes sparkling.  "The past week has been distressingly uneventful with your absence."

"Boring!"  Davis mouths over his shoulder at me.  He and Carter are seated at the dialling computer, peering out the window.  Ah, they started without us.  Wormhole's already hot and the MALP is at the top of the ramp crawling into the event horizon.

"Can't have that!"  I grin at him.  "I'll get right on stirring up some trouble forthwith."

"Thank you, Sir," Carter adds, not taking her eyes from her instruments.  "We knew we could count on you."

I hear you, Carter, I missed you too.

"So, what's up?"  I ask.

We've dialled up P5H-653," Hammond explains.

That - rings a bell, but before I can ask, Daniel perks up.

"653?"  he says, excitedly.  "If the pattern holds, what we found on 651 and 652 -  "

Crap, still doesn't compute.

"Receiving MALP telemetry," Carter intones crisply.  "Video signal."

Daniel and I move forward and take a look at the scene in the monitor.

"Déjà vu," we say simultaneously.

Oh, NOW I get it.  653!

"Another one of those Deely-Bop planets," I observe as I look at the same semi-circle of weird-ass alien structures we've already checked out on the first two planets of this system.  Yep.  Looks exactly the same.  There's the huge upside down bowl of spaghetti in the middle with the ice cream cone on the right and the chocolate éclair on the left.  We've got the small forest of french fries on one end of the circle and the hall of peas on the other.

I can't imagine why but for some reason looking at the videos from these planets always makes me hungry.

"I really wish you wouldn't call them that," Daniel mutters, a little peevishly at me as his eyes rake over the video screen.

"Well, what would YOU call them then?"

He's getting a slightly perturbed look on his face; the troubled crease between his eyebrows is getting deeper by the second.  He's only using a couple of brain cells to answer me, the rest of his attention is glued to the shaky image in front of us as the MALP rumbles forward and pans about.

"Well, I don't KNOW what they call themselves, I haven't been able to read…"  His voice trails off for a second as he switches the formerly diverted brain cells back to the primary task.  "That's odd," he mutters.

"What?"  I prod.  It's just like the two other planets we've already been to.  Same bunch of weird, abandoned alien buildings.  The only thing 'odd' about it is what the guys responsible for them were thinking to have built such dumb-ass ugly things in the first place - and then to have done it twice more.

I really don't know why Carter and Daniel are so fired up about these planets. From where I'm standing they're a total write-off.  Strictly snoresville. They figure the first site was abandoned over twenty thousand years ago, the second one fifteen thousand, and who ever the Deely-Bops were, they were a completely alien race, no Earth origins whatsoever, but other than that, they don't know squat about the people or the places.  We've been all over both the previous sites with the proverbial fine-tooth comb and UAV'ed the crap out of the planets themselves, and all we've gotten out of it is a nice collection of alien texts driving Daniel nuts because he can't make anything of them and one or two doohickeys doing likewise to Carter for exactly the same reason.

Maybe it's a professional pride thing.  One thing they both have in common, they hate being stumped.

"What's 'odd'? I prompt Daniel again, when he doesn't answer.

"I - I don't know," he murmurs, and then starts chewing on his lower lip, making me suddenly not give a crap about what's on the screen.

Hell, I've seen it all before, wasn't too thrilling the first two times, nothing new  -

"Major, I'm getting very strong EM readings," Davis cuts in excitedly.

Oh, except for THAT.  That's definitely new.

"I see it, " Carter jumps on the read-outs like a miser finding a lost penny.

"What?"  Daniel blurts, his head snapping around. He almost bounds over to Carter's side.  "What is it?  What are you getting?" he asks her tersely.

"I can't be certain," Carter replies quickly with unmistakable excitement.  "They looked like EM readings, but the energy signature keeps changing.  They're also fluctuating in intensity and I can't seem to localise - "

She breaks off and turns to the general.  She looks so excited it's all she can do to keep from bouncing in the chair.   Daniel, however, doesn't seem to be sharing her enthusiasm at this new development.  Which is odd.  Come to think of it, the way Daniel has been behaving since he's been staring at that monitor, well, that's been odd as well.  Can't put my finger on it, but there's something.  I'm definitely keeping my eye on him as Carter starts her pitch to Hammond.

"General Hammond, I think we should go there and check it out," she bubbles. "These readings are anomalous, but they are also clearly indicative of some form of existing technology the other sites didn't possess.  It would appear, as we were expecting, this site is more recent than the others, and with the readings - it's logical to assume they left something behind unique to this site and I think - "

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Sam," Daniel says softly.

I couldn't help but notice Carter hasn't glanced his way once since we got here, but she's looking at him now.  And if looks could kill…

"Why NOT, Daniel?" she asks, the edge in her voice unmistakable.

Crap.  I've been wondering if they've managed to sort things out between them.  Guess I'm getting my answer.

George, bless him, ever the peacemaker steps forward, instantly responding to the sudden, tense current twitching through the room.

"Doctor Jackson, do you have some concerns about these readings?" he asks kindly. "Some reason to believe this technology might pose a threat?"

Daniel looks unhappily down at Sam and then at the man addressing him.  "Um - I - " he starts to stammer, but then Carter cuts him off.

"You haven't had any 'concerns' about any of the material we've retrieved from the other sites," Carter reminds him, a little forcefully.  "You said they were a peaceful, non-aggressive people."

Daniel closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before responding.  "What I SAID was I could see no indications from the site they had any REASON to be aggressive.  However, that doesn’t preclude the possibility they were xenophobic - which could in itself be a problem.  It doesn't seem likely but without being able decipher their language and make an accurate determination from the written texts they've left behind  - still, it's something we shouldn't discount."

Carter's not making a sound, just staring at him, letting him talk, but the 'sucking a lemon' expression is firmly in place. Daniel wraps his arms around himself, ducks his head against the glare and forges resolutely on.

"The two previous sites didn't appear to be abandoned due to wars or invasions, or any other outside hostile influences compelling the inhabitants to leave so that would seem to indicate they had no need for defensive technology, and so far that has proven to be the case, but still…  The relocations appear to have been entirely voluntary.  Nor have we seen evidence they attempted to colonize or invade any other planets, which would suggest they were not themselves hostile or aggressive, but that's by no means conclusive. Anyway, from everything we've been able to extrapolate from the sites the former inhabitants appear to have been unique to this system.  Which raises the problem of - if they're not here, where did they go?  And why?"

"Agreed," Carter nods tightly, her eyes still sparking at him. "All the more reason to go and check the place out.  As this IS the last inhabited site, the answers we are looking for are probably here.  I don't understand what the problem is, Daniel, if we've got nothing to fear from their technology - "

"Sam, just because whatever they left behind isn't harmful for them and they didn't INTEND for it to be harmful for anyone else, it doesn't mean it still won't be," Daniel counters earnestly.  He's not enjoying this.  He's worried, but he doesn't want to rain on her parade, either.   "We're dealing with an unknown alien race here.  We  don't know WHY they did ANYTHING. We haven't got a clue what's out there - what any of it MEANS! Without being able to read any of the texts we have no insights as to their motivations, their psychology, their intentions.  For all we know we could be unintentionally sticking our fingers into the alien equivalent of a light socket. Maybe they didn't mean for it to fry us, but if we don't realise we're not supposed to DO it - "

"So what do you suggest we do, Daniel, nothing?"  Carter snaps at him.

"N-no," he stammers again.  "That's - that's not what I'm saying.  I just think - "

"We'll go take a look, but we'll be careful," I butt in.  "Not go charging off half-cocked.  No assumptions about anything we find - if we find anything at all - until we've given everything a very careful in situ evaluation.  Will that do it for both of you?"

Two pairs of blue eyes swing my way.  Neither one is completely happy with what I've just said.  Carter wants to GO - Daniel doesn't.  Which,  like I said before is odd, but before I can follow up on what I'm seeing on his face they turn to each other.

"Okay," Daniel says quietly and Carter frowns at him for a bit before giving him a grudging nod.

"Colonel, if you're satisfied the risk is acceptable you have a go," Hammond announces.

"Thank you, Sir," Carter beams as she turns her attention back to her readings.

"Be prepared to depart at 1400 hours," Hammond tells us and then turns to me.  "Good to have you back, Colonel, " he claps me on the shoulder before leaving the control room.

"Daniel?" I ask quietly, grabbing his arm as he tries to walk past me.  He's got 'THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA' written all over his face in huge, flashing letters.

"I -  I - "  he flounders,  "I just don't know."

"Do you really think we shouldn't go?" I ask him, very seriously.

"Noooo," he replies, unhappily and unconvincingly, after a backward look at Carter. "There's just - I mean I think - I don't know," he mutters fiercely, staring down at his shoes.  "I can't explain it."

But you don't want to go.  What's going on, Daniel, what's this all about?  This isn't like you.  Is this simply caution - or something else?

I'm about to try and find out when he abruptly pulls his arm free.  "I'm going to go to my office and take another look at the footage from 651 and 652," he announces curtly and books, briskly, without another word.

Okay, so we go.  But one's thing for damned sure; I'm keeping one eye on the scenery and the other on Daniel.

To be continued in Crucible

 


WARNING - SERIOUS CLIFFHANGER ALERT

What follows is a preview of the next story.  Read at your own risk.  I'm telling you, up front, it ends with a cliff-hanger.  Oh yeah.  Just so you know, going in, if you decide you want to risk it.

 


 

Teaser Ficlet - Crucible

Back in the saddle again.  Control room dramas aside, it feels damned good to be up on my feet, geared to the teeth and stomping around on alien soil once more.  Nice day for it too.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Not too many trees, either.  Just your usual, run of the mill alien conundrum.

Yep, same old, same old.

Daniel and Carter made up in the gear-up room. Sort of.  Actual conversation happened between them, and while things are still a tad - prickly - there was no overt snarking, bloodletting or fisticuffs.  Progress, in my book.   The current state of the union of SG-1 is more than I was expecting and less than I hoped for.  Somewhere in the neighbourhood of a grudging truce.  It's a start.

"So do you think we'll find out where the Deely-Bops went?"  I inquire conversationally of the slightly frowning archaeologist at my side as we stroll down the stairs.  Carter moves quickly past us, her eyes glued to the gismo softly beeping in her hands.  Teal'c's already taken up a position at the base of the stairs where he stands, alertly relaxed, watching everything.

"Damn," Carter fusses as she frowns at her gismo.  "Just like before.  The readings are all over the place.  They're strong, but I can't pin down where they're coming from, get a fix - "

"Jack, " Daniel heaves an exasperated sigh, his gaze carefully sweeping the semi-circle of alien take-out in front of the gate. The concerned crease in his brow gets deeper; he's slowing down the pace.

"I know, I know, don't call them that," I finish for him. "Well, what would YOU call them?  We've got to call them something - right?"  I casually return as I look around too, trying to figure out what's worrying him. This set up looks depressingly identical to 651 and 652 and I remember all too well what a BLAST those two trips were.

"I told you, I don't know what to call them…"

"Hey, heard you before, but can't you give it a shot, make an educated - Daniel?"

Daniel slams to a stop on the bottom step and roots himself there.  Carter has also stopped advancing.  She's standing about twenty feet in front of us, waving her gismo - oh excuse me, - instrument - around, but from the look on her face she's still getting the readings run-around.

Daniel gnaws his bottom lip as he squints at the structures.  "Definitely better preserved than the last site," he nods and frowns.  More recently inhabited…"

He still doesn't look any happier than he did in the control room and I still don't get it.  This should be good news, for a couple of reasons.  Shouldn't it?

"Noticed that," I pipe up.  "The condition of this site - compared to the others - doesn't it support your theory the Deely-bops migrated to each successive planet and started over for - whatever reason, rather than each world being simultaneously colonised…  What?"  I grin at the sudden, startled look he shoots me. "I listen. Occasionally. When I haven't got anything else better to do."

He tightly nods and goes back to looking over the site and looking  perplexed. This is what he was expecting, but he's not acting like it's good news.  I also can't help but notice he's not exactly hurrying to scurry into the buildings to see if he can find some more cool stuff the departing locals might have left behind.  What's up with that?

I glance over at Teal'c.  He's watching Daniel.  Me too, now that I realise what's going on.  Daniel's doing that two and twelve thing again he started in the control room.  Although he still doesn't look any closer to giving about what he's coming up with than he did before.

I know Carter sometimes loses her patience with him, thinks these 'hunches' of his come out of nowhere, and so did I, once upon a time, until I learned to stop putting him down and dismissing him, listened to him, WATCHED him - and finally bought a clue.

He doesn't just pull this stuff out of thin air; he looks, he sees, and then he puts it all together.  He uses all his senses and his brains to get a take on the surroundings the way Carter uses her instruments and her 'readings' and from what his body language is screaming right now his radar is pinging bigtime.

What is he seeing?  I don't get it, but if Daniel is getting spooked…  I glance over at Teal'c and see the big guy tensing.  Oh yeah, we're on the same page here.

"Something's missing," Daniel murmurs, stepping down onto the dusty stone, his perplexed eyes methodically devouring the landscape.  "Something…"

He's starting to mutter out loud now, which in never a good sign.  I'm trying to catch what he's on about when Carter lets one fly and kinda startles me.

"Wow!" she exclaims. 'The energy just spiked - I'm getting a fix."  She starts walking briskly forward toward the bowl of spaghetti; her eyes still glued to her readings.

"This is the last planet in the system, more recently occupied than all the others, but also abandoned," Daniel rattles out.  "Abandoned, clearly abandoned, but why? Why the successive migrations, the identical sites and where…  What was it all about?  There's no sign of mass destruction or war, no evident reason for each exodus, possibly, possibly disease, possibly some cultural imperative, religious, possibly religious, depletion of a necessary natural resource - I don't know -  something, but this is the last planet in the system so there's nowhere left for them to go, but clearly they went SOMEWHERE.  It's possible they gated to ANOTHER system but Teal'c hasn't seen…  No, they didn't use the gate.  They didn't - wait a minute, wait a minute!"  Daniel breaks off and gapes straight ahead.  "The monument - where's the monument? How could I have missed - Oh SHIT!"

Aw crap!  He's right!  Where's that funny looking little slab of stone with the stuff all over it that was at all the other sites?  Right about where Carter is headed…

Nothing there but a lot of nothing so I'm a little surprised when Daniel suddenly takes off like he's got a swarm of angry hornets on his tail.

"Sam!" he bellows. "Don't step on it!"

Carter's too excited by what she's seeing, or she doesn't hear him or something, 'cause she's still walking and Daniel has almost reached her when I see it.

The patch of ground where the AWOL slab is supposed to be.  There's a large, circular area that's a slightly darker colour than the rest of the surrounding stone.  It's hard to see with the fine layer of dust coating everything, but the more that I look at it, yep, it's definitely a different colour.  Why that should be cause for alarm - beats me, but Daniel's plenty alarmed.

Unfortunately, he's also a little too slow.  He catches up to Carter and grabs her by the arm just as she steps onto the suspect area.

What happens next makes 'alarming' look tame by comparison.

The instant Carter's foot connects there's a low, harsh 'poof' that blows not only all the dust off the circle but all of us off of our feet.  I crash to the ground and am fighting to crawl back up again the very next second.  I'm a bit winded, but it's no big deal. I'm up on my hands and knees, shaking my head to focus and then feel Teal'c's large, hard hand around my forearm.

I'm hauled to my feet almost as fast as I went down.  The first thing I see is Carter and Daniel not moving, sprawled out on the surface of what looks like a large, featureless oval made of tinfoil.  That's what the stuff reminds me of, the way it's shining and crinkling and then it hits me maybe it's not the foil itself winking and sparkling it's the air all around the circle, rippling, distorting the perception of everything on the inside.

"Crap," I groan.  "Force-field."

"Indeed," Teal'c intones grimly.

"Daniel!  Carter!"  I yell at them as we lope toward the barrier.  By the time we get there Daniel is sitting up holding his head, and Carter is starting to stir.

"Wow," he grimaces as he gingerly rubs the back of his head.  "That was - interesting."  He spares me a reassuring look and then turns to help Carter up.  "Are you okay, Sam?"

"Oh yeah, I think so," she quickly nods. "What happened?"

"Well, from where I'm standing it looks like you've tripped some kind of alien booby trap."  I reply, a little harshly.  Okay, sue me.  I'm worried.  "Didn't we have enough fun with the last one we've got to go and find another one our first time out?"

"Booby trap?"  Daniel murmurs as he helps Sam to her feet.  He's wearing that 'oh, I don't think so' look on his face as he ambles toward the barrier and before I can yell at him not to, reaches out a finger and touches it.

The field gives off some pretty, shooty sparks and sizzles a bit, and Daniel actually grins as he pushes at it again.  "Tickles," he explains sheepishly and then gets a load of the look on my face. "It's okay, Jack, it doesn't hurt a bit.  I was pretty sure - "

"PRETTY sure?"  I accuse. "You go sticking your finger in an alien force field on the strength of 'pretty sure'?"

I'm not forgetting the haste with which he took after Carter and tried to stop her from putting her foot into it in the first place.  And I'm wondering after all the worrying he did previous to this development why he suddenly seems to be so unconcerned about the current situation.

He shoots me one of those slightly hurt, affronted glares and I feel like a heel.  I always do, when he does that to me.  I think he's starting to catch on.

"Yeah, pretty sure," he asserts. "That is, I wasn't sure what would happen, not exactly, I mean, I knew there was something here, but WHY it's here - exactly -  what the purpose of this device is - "

"I think the purpose is fairly obvious."  Carter pipes up from behind.  "What the colonel said, this is some kind of trap and we've sprung it."

We?  From what I saw try YOU, Carter.

Daniel gives an impatient 'humph' and rounds on Carter. "I don't think that's 'obvious' at all," he begins tersely.  "We've seen nothing at any of the other sites to suggest these people had any enemies or anything to be afraid of.  It doesn't make any sense. Why would they need to leave something behind to contain a threat when - "

"Oh, I don't know, Daniel," Carter bristles and flings and arm out, describing a wide circle. "Force-field?  Us stuck inside it?  If it looks like a trap and feels like a trap it's logical to assume - "

"Only if you're too close-minded to consider any other options," Daniel mutters meanly.

All right, time to get them out of there before they start throwing punches. Teal'c's already circled over to the far side of the field. We're probably wasting our time giving this a shot, but we won't know until we try.

"Kids!"  I admonish them as I wave at Teal'c to let 'er rip.

Daniel sees me signal and whips his head around.  Teal'c already has his staff weapon smoking and pointed at the shield.

"No - DON'T!" he yells as the blast hits.

The entire dome of the shield sparks fiercely in response. Carter and Daniel shrink away from the furious sparkage as the energy from the staff weapon arcs impressively, and entirely ineffectively across the entire outer surface.   It crackles and sparkles for several seconds before petering out.  Daniel is still looking - concerned - and a couple of seconds later he has plenty of company.

"Oh boy," Carter looks down at her feet, which have disappeared in a thick cloud of white gas covering the entire surface of the oval ankle deep and rising rapidly.

"Oh Teal'c!" I exclaim, trying to keep the panic out of my voice.  "Problem!  Any suggestions how we can get them out of there.  Like NOW?"

Daniel has instinctively reached out to pull Sam close, but he's looking back at me, his eyes locked on mine, level, calm.  Trying to reassure me.

Well, he might not be worried, but I'm shitting bricks, thank you very much.  And I'm on the right side of the field.

"I know of no assistance we can render them, O'Neill," Teal'c's deep voice tolls dully in my ear.

I know, I knew there was nothing he could do, and it's happening too fast. The level of the gas is up to Carter's chest, and her eyes are wide with apprehension as she looks at me too.

I plaster myself to the field fighting to see through the resulting pyrotechnics, straining for a glimpse of Daniel's face as the gas continues to crawl up their bodies. He looks a little nervous, but not as much as he should be. I want to scream and claw at the barrier between us, but -

"Don't worry, Jack," he tells me calmly, smiling serenely as the level of the gas surges up over his head, swallowing them both.

To be continued in Crucible

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