GOING DOWN PART ONE  BY PHOENIXE
Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: R
Category: Angst, First Time, Humour
Season/Spoilers: Pick one.  Any time after season 3 Itty bitty spoiler for Shades of Grey
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel go head to head on the playing field in an alien arena.  One of them is going down!
Warnings: :Language.  Skin.  Lots and lots of skin.
Length:  222 Kb  Originally completed Mar 07. Posted here 1 Sep 08  

Story Notes: This story was originally written as a response to a monthly challenge on Pepe's list from a loooong, long time ago.  We were supposed to pick a story title from the issued list and this is the one I chose.  The month during which the challenge was issued came and went, and the story languished on my hard drive, unfinished.  That is until I dusted it off and whipped it into shape for Chance and the memorial zine I put together for her over a  year ago.  I had her very much in mind while I was writing it. I hope I did her justice; pretty sure she would have gotten a kick out of it.  I think this is my ultimate Jack and Daniel naked story, and not in the way one usually thinks of them being together in the altogether.  Certainly what I do to Daniel, well, read it and find out.  Heh.  This story also contains what I personally feel is the funniest line I've ever written. Still cracks me up every time I see it.  Anyone who wants to venture a guess, ask me and see if you're right! Oh yeah, and those of you who have seen the 'In Our Hearts' version, there is a new scene in this story, just after the gateroom scene.  Enjoy!


Well, whaddaya know, Daniel is almost smiling.  That must mean he’s wrapped things up with the Dodg and we can book out of here.  Excellent!  The game is in five hours, that leaves us plenty of time to – 

“Well, the treaty is signed,” Daniel announces and then heaves a huge sigh.

“But…”

But?  Whaddaya mean, but?  Don’t wanna hear no buts, buts are generally not good and also usually mean I’m not gonna get home in time to see my game!

“But?”  I snap, and Daniel flinches. 

Crap, I didn’t mean to sound so… but dammit, enough is enough already! 

These negotiations have been dragging on for days during which and it’s possible I’ve been a tad…crusty, well, okay, a lot, maybe, but I mean, this planet is so damned vanilla, it’s not like there’s been much for the rest of us to do, other than Carter, that is, while Daniel has been sequestered with the Dodg and his council attempting to persuade them to trust us with their rocks.  So okay, I’ll come clean, I’ve been bored outta my stinking skull with all the flowers, statues and artsy fartsy crap the Quaar have been subjecting the rest of us to while Daniel’s been wheeling and dealing, so consequently I may have been riding the dear boy’s butt just a bit, to get him to get them to the finish line, and bless him, he’s finally gone and done it, so now I should be saying ‘good job’ or something else supportive instead of giving him even more of a hard time but…

I don’t want any ‘buts’; I just want to get our butts out of here.

“We can’t leave yet,” Daniel mutters, hanging his head.

I do not want to hear this!

“Well, at least I can’t go,” he quickly adds, before I can get a word out.

What?

“What?  Whaddaya mean you can’t go?”

I’m not liking the sounds of this; as much as I’m hot to trot homeward now the job is apparently done there’s no way I’m leaving anyone behind, especially Daniel.  He’d better bottom-line this PDQ, because I’ve just about had it with the Quaar and their weird-ass customs and rituals, starting with no one but Daniel being allowed anywhere near the Dodg so we had to let him go in that room – alone – day after day, not having a clue what was going on in there until they let him out again hours and hours later.  I don’t care if the treaty has finally been signed, if this is more of their back-handed bullshit calculated to further separate me from my archaeologist; well, I’m about five seconds away from pulling the plug and getting all of us the hell out of here, they can shove their damned…

Daniel glances wearily at me, heaving another unhappy sigh. 

“Jack, just…hear me out,” he pleads.  “It’s okay, everything is fine, like I said, the treaty is signed, but – “

“No buts,” I interrupt.  “You say it’s over, it’s signed, so we’re outta here, and that means you too.  End of discussion.”

Seems perfectly logical to me.  As well as non-negotiable.

“Jack, will you just let me finish!” Daniel angrily retorts, throwing his hands in the air.  “The treaty is signed, yes, but it’s not sealed, there’s a slight…formality, a condition needing to be met…before…”

Daniel pauses, shoulders slumping, and throws me a weak smile. 

“Well, you know how they are.”

Oookay, heeeeere we go.  The catch.  With these bozos, there’s always a catch.  Ever since we got here, there’s been no such thing as point A to point B, it’s one step forward, three steps sideways, hurry up and wait, no you can’t do this before you do that, and guess what, you don’t get the fries unless you take the hot apple pie too.

Well, not this time, bucko, I’ve had enough of their stupid crap!

“In order to make it official, we have to observe a local custom,” Daniel continues. “Or at least, as the lead negotiator, I do. Apparently, in this society engaging in this…activity, well, that’s how they celebrate the successful conclusion of any sort of deal, or bargain, or well, anything, really, from the community level right up to matters of planet-wide import, which is where we fall in.  So although the treaty is for all intents and purposes in the bag, as far as the Quaar are concerned it won’t be a done deal unless I do this.”

“What?”  I demand.  “What do you have to do?”

This better not be anything involving any sort of kinky sex ritual or Daniel having to get engaged to the Dodg’s daughter.  She’s a nice kid and all, but ewwwww!

I reiterate, I don’t care about the stakes, I don’t like the sounds of this, so too bad, so sad, adios amigos, we’ll get our rocks somewhere else.

“Um… we have to play a game of Zot,” Daniel blurts.  “That is – I do.”

“What?”  I blink.  “A game?  What are we talking here, Checkers, Chess, Snakes and Ladders? Scrabble? Twister?”  I finish, ever hopeful.

Twister could be fun.

A game.  Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad.  And it shouldn’t take too long.  Daniel’s pretty good at that sort of thing.  All is not lost, Daniel whups their asses in an hour or so, honour is satisfied, everybody’s happy, we can take the treaty back to Hammond , hail the conquering heroes, tra la, once we get through the post-mission stuff I’ll still have plenty of time…

Yeah, I can taste that nice cold brewski now.

“No…not quite,” Daniel smiles faintly.  “Zot.  It’s their national sport, and it’s pretty popular.  As a matter of fact, you could probably relate to the level of fanaticism the Quaar have for it.”

What, what did he just say?

“Sport?”

Ah, Danny, now you’re speaking my language!  Finally, something about this place is starting to sound interesting!

“Yeah,” Daniel happily nods, encouraged, no doubt my sudden spurt of enthusiasm.  “As near as I can figure, it’s somewhat like football.”

Oh yeah! Now we’re talking!  I may have seriously misjudged these people.  Any race nutso about football can’t be all bad.  I’m starting to warm up to the Quaar considerably.

“They want us to play football?” I fire back at him.  “That’s all we have to do, punt a few with the local boys and we get everything we want?”

“That’s it,” Daniel nods enthusiastically again, so relieved I’m no longer giving him a hard time about this he’s practically hopping with glee.

“Win or lose?”

Not that we will.  Lose that is. I mean, we’re talking football here.  Teal’c is a total animal, Carter’s not far behind and I’m not exactly a slouch myself.  Daniel’s the only weak link, he doesn’t quite have the killer instinct, although I have tried; the boy’s a hair on the squeamish side when it comes to the really rough stuff, but I’ll watch his six.  He’ll be fine.

We’ll murdalize ‘em.

“Hey, I’m in!” I beam at Daniel and my other kids.  “Football sounds fine, Daniel, tell them to bring it on. SG-1 would be pleased to mix it up on the Zot field for the good of the Earth and the SGC.”

“Can’t wait, Sir,” Carter chimes in with a huge grin. 

“Um, about that…”

Daniel’s frowning.  Oh dear.  Another not-good sign.  And we were doing so well.  Call me crazy but I’m hearing another ‘but’ here.

“Sam, I’m sorry, but…” Daniel begins, flushing unhappily.

Yep.

“Aw Daniel, don’t tell me it’s one of those stupid, macho male-only things,” she grumbles, her face starting to seize up with the beginning of a pout I’m guessing will be about the size of Pluto once it’s done.

Tough break, Carter, hard as it is to believe, once in a blue moon it does suck to be you.

“I’m sorry, Sam, but yeah,” Daniel shrugs.  “No….um…women allowed.”

“Nuts!” She fumes, crossing her arms and glowering at all of us.  “This is so not fair!”

“Sorry, Carter,” I commiserate, patting her on the shoulder.  “Their rules, not ours. It looks like you’re sitting this one out. You know what Daniel always says, when in Rome …”

Both Carter and Daniel shoot me the evil eye, so I shut up.

What?  I’m agreeing with him for once, you think that would make him happy!  There is just no pleasing this boy!

Well, damn, this is a bit of a blow.  Losing Carter, that is.  She really can kick ass on the football field and honestly, if I had to choose which one to cut I’d have sidelined Daniel before Carter.  Sure, Daniel is prettier, but Carter is meaner.

What did I just say?

“So, Carter is out,” I carry on, after shaking my head to clear whatever the hell is in it making me say that…out.  “That just leaves the three of us but I think you, me and the big guy here can more than manage to carry the honour of the SGC.  What? Why are you looking at me like that? “

Why is he looking at me like that?

“Um…” Daniel says again, biting his lower lip.

“What?”  I snap at him.  From the look on his face he’s winding up to deliver someone else a low blow, and for the life of me I can’t think why.  We’re all guys here, what’s the problem?  Oh, maybe it’s Teal’c.  The Quaar probably have some sort of anti-Jaffa taboo meaning he’s not gonna be allowed to play either.

Well, crap, that’s gonna suck, if we don’t have Teal’c, then that just leaves…

“As I said before, I’m the only one who absolutely has to do this, because I represented Earth in the negotiations, so my participation is mandatory,” Daniel explains, unhappiness coming off of him in waves.  No wonder, after having had to stomp on Carter’s parade I’m guessing he’s not looking forward to hurting Teal’c’s feelings too.  It’s okay, Daniel, Teal’c can take it, it’s not like this is the first time we’ve encountered cultures having issues with Jaffa .  I’m thinking the big guy is kinda used to the ‘No Jaffa Allowed’…thing.

No Teal’c either.  Damn. That just leaves Daniel and me.  Not so good, not so good as me, Carter and Teal’c, but, maybe it’ll be okay, I’ll give the kid a pep talk, get his blood going, we’ll turn him into an animal yet. 

Yeah, it’ll be fine.

“In addition, Teal’c, although you are free to decline, the Quaar would welcome your participation as well,” Daniel continues, without looking at me.

What?  What did he just say? The Quaar aren’t cutting Teal’c?  Teal’c is in?

“I would be honoured, DanielJackson,” Teal’c exclaims, with a deep bow of his head.

Teal’c is in?  But someone is definitely still out.  If it’s not Teal’c, and it’s not Daniel, that means the cut-ee has to be… 

No way!

“Thanks, Teal’c,” Daniel grins, barely able to hide his relief.  “I really wasn’t looking forward to doing this by myself.”

Hey!  What am I – chopped chickenshit?

“Excuse me!”  I jab Daniel’s shoulder to make him look at me.  “Football playing colonel in the room here!”

“Um…” Daniel’s eyes slide my way, and they have a distinctly hunted look.

Oh, for crying out loud what possible objection could the Quaar have against me playing their stupid stinking game?  

“The Dodg wanted me to convey to you, with extreme respect for you as our leader, the Quaar recognize you will probably be unable to participate, due to your…”

Daniel pauses, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes before ploughing on.

“….seniority.”

“What?”  I stare at him, not getting it.  “What does that mean; I don’t have to play because I’m a colonel?”

Daniel’s still looking mighty unhappy, so that can’t be it.

“O’Neill, I believe the Quaar are suggesting you are too old,” Teal’c helpfully supplies.

Daniel’s gaze quickly darts away. 

Yeah, that’s the one.

“Hey!  Who’s old?” I protest.  Loudly.  “And if you wanna talk old – he’s way older than me,” I jab my thumb back in Teal’c’s direction.  “Howcum he gets to play?”

“Amongst my people I am considered mid-aged,” Teal’c intones smugly.  Yeah, with that stone face, I know it’s hard to tell, but trust me, I know Jaffa smug when I see it, and right now the big guy is enjoying this entirely too much.

He’s not the only one.

“Oh, excuse me, I forgot we’re talking Jaffa years,” I glare at him.

“Jack, he’s not a dog!” Daniel admonishes me, scandalized.

“I know that!” I fire right back at him.  “Just because his hundred-something  counts for less than half of my – “

Behind me, Carter snickers.  I make like I’m ignoring her, but believe me, I forget nothing.

“I might not have a snake but I’m not exactly over the hill!”

“Their rules, Sir,” Carter says with a huge, fake sigh.  “And like you reminded me earlier, as Daniel is always saying, when in – “

“Shut up, Carter,” I growl at her. 

Laugh it up, Major, your turn is coming.  When you least expect it, expect it.  I will have my revenge. And as for the other two, well, I’m not going down without a fight.

“So Daniel, let me get this straight,” I round on the main object of my ire, who right now is looking like he’d rather have a train run him over than face me. 

Frankly I’m about two seconds away from finding one for him.

“Did the Dodg say I couldn’t play, or just I didn’t have to on account of my alleged decrepitude?”

“He said you were excused, but....” Daniel mumbles, staring down at his boots.

Finally, a ‘but’.  And this one had butter, I mean better be good. 

“But?”  I demand.

“He said he realized as our leader you would naturally see it as your duty to um…lead… but he didn’t think it would be a very good idea given your obvious…age…

And what the hell is that supposed to mean?  Obvious?  It’s obvious I’m old?  Excuse me, having a bit of snow on the roof doesn’t mean I’m past it – or anywhere even near, and fifty is not old!

Obvious?  I’ll show them freaking ‘obvious’, I’ll – I’ll -

“And your expressed infirmities…” Daniel finishes with a small grimace.

Oh.  He’s talking about me running my mouth about my knees the other morning for the whole crappy council to hear.  Well, that’s just great!

Damn, hoist on my own big mouth, that’ll learn me to bitch in front of the natives.  My knees aren’t really, well, maybe a little bit, but not nearly as much as I was letting on; all right, I may have been laying it on a bit thick yesterday, and the day before, and possibly at the state dinner the day before that, but it was strictly tactical, calculated bitching purely in the interests of motivating Daniel to step things up and get us the heck out of Dodg – I mean Dodge. 

Well, what do you know, my own guilt ploy has come around to bite me on the ass. 

“Zot is a very physically demanding sport,” Daniel is continuing.  “The players are considered to be the best athletes on the planet.  The Dodg was concerned for your safety.  He has no wish to see you hurt.”

Hey, me neither.  But still…  Infirmities?  That hurts!

Crap, crap and crap, this changes everything, even if I didn’t want to, which of course I do, I have to play now.  I can’t have these guys, or my kids thinking I’m such a feeb they’ll have to push me around in a wheelchair from now on!

I glare at Daniel, and he flushes and drops his eyes again.

“The Dodg doesn’t have any problems with you mixing it up with the big boys.” I grump at him.

“Apparently not,” Daniel shrugs. 

I can’t help but notice he refrains from pointing out the obvious.  Good boy.

“Well Sir, he is younger.  A lot younger.  And in excellent physical condition.”

However, it would seem some other people aren’t governed by a similar spirit of restraint.

“Thank you, Carter,” I snarl at her. 

She throws a nasty grin right back at me. 

“Well, he is, Sir,” she adds, unnecessarily.  “As we, and it would seem the Dodg, can plainly see.  Obviously.”

It’s equally obvious to me some people don’t know when to shut up.

Daniel is looking distinctly embarrassed at being discussed, on top of his previously regretted role of being the bearer of crap tidings.

Well, that’s too damned bad; we’re not done yet.

“So what’s the deal here, then, Daniel, am I in or out?”

Daniel sighs.  “Honestly, the Dodg would prefer you to sit this one out, but…”

Ah, here we go again.

“But?”

“The choice is yours Jack.  The Dodg believes it would not be wise for you to participate, but again, out of respect for you as our leader, and realizing you, being you, you’ll insist on playing, even if it’s a really stupid thing to do…”

At this point I find myself wondering how the Dodg of all people would know what I would and wouldn’t want to do; it’s not like we’ve done much bonding or talking, even, he’s pretty much only ever deigned to shoot the breeze with Daniel, but we’ll leave that for another time.  Right now I’ve got to get a straight answer out of Doctor Equivocator here.

“Bottom line it for me, will you Daniel, before I get any older.”

“You can play if you want to, the Dodg won’t stop you, however, should you choose…to, he wants it clearly understood the Quaar accept no responsibility for the consequences.”

“So, I can play!”  I beam at him.

“Yes,” Daniel murmurs, you can, but – “

“Now what?” I demand.

“Jack, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but maybe you should…maybe you should re-think this, a bit.  Possibly.”

“Why?”

I’ve…um…met a few of the players,” Daniel admits, grimacing.  “Teal’c will be able to hold his own, no problem, me…well, I’m feeling…I’ll probably be okay, or,” he breaks off and hangs his head, “Or...not… but that’s neither here nor there, I can’t not do it so if I end up with some bumps and bruises, well, that’s the way it goes, I’ll bounce back, but Jack, I really think, maybe, you should consider…”

He doesn’t want to say it, but he’s thinking it. 

Crap, look at them, they all are.

They don’t think I can cut it!

Sunofabitch! This consideration for my decrepitude didn’t just come from the Dodg, Daniel really thinks I’m gonna get hurt out there, he’s behind me sitting it out as well.  He doesn’t want me to play because he thinks…

God fricking dammit I might have a few years on you boy but the day I can’t run rings around you on a football field –

Might happen someday, sure, but today, is not the day.  So can your concern, the whole frigging lot of you, traitors!  The Colonel is not exactly ready for his walker yet!  And no better time than the present for proving I’m still da man.

“You tell the Dodg I’m in,” I inform the lot of them, daring any one of them, but most especially Daniel, to say another damned word about it.

Daniel hangs his head again, his shoulders sagging in defeat.

“Okay,” he says in an  ‘Oh God this is such a bad idea’ tone of voice.

“It’s your funeral, Sir,” Carter chortles.

“Fear not, O’Neill, I will protect you,” Teal’c generously offers.

I hate them all.  ‘Infirmity’, my earlobe, I’ll show them ‘infirm’.

Oh ye of little faith.  Go ahead, have your petty little moment, enjoy yourselves, you’ll be laughing out of the other side of your asses; just you wait.

And speaking of asses, they can all kiss mine while they’re at it.  Especially Daniel!

Ummm…

Never mind that, never mind that, the Zot boys are going down, and so, my so-called ‘friends’ are you.


“Well Daniel, I’m guessing you didn’t ‘figure’ on any of this.”

“Um…” The man behind me ventures.  “No, I – um – that is…they didn’t happen to mention…”

“Kind of an important detail to leave out, don’t you think?”  I snarl over my shoulder at him, and then as quickly turn back…because…

Crap.

“Well, this sort of…”  ‘Just-can’t-leave-it-alone’ boy continues.  “It’s not…unprecedented.  On Earth, in Ancient Greece, as I’m sure you’re aware, the original Olympic games; all of the athletes participated – “

“Don’t say it!”  I warn him.  “The ‘ancient’ part aside, which I am not, despite recent expressed opinions to the contrary, need I remind you we are not on Earth and none of us are Greek – including any of these guys!”

“No, we’re not,” Daniel chortles, “But apparently we’re still – “

“Daniel!  Do not make me hurt you!”

“Sorry,” Daniel mutters.  “I’m sorry I didn’t get all the details, beforehand, but like you say I’m always saying – “

“Daniel, if you want to live to see tomorrow, never mind the next ten minutes do not mention Rome to me.”

“About that,” Daniel abruptly switches tracks.  “Where the heck did you come up with that anyway, I do not always say that – I’ve never said that!”

I do not believe what I’m hearing.  Only Daniel could fixate on something so trivial in the face of all this going on around us, and God only knows what else about to happen to us!

God, I wish I wuz dead. 

I’m thinking Carter is gonna be mighty glad she got to sit this one out after all.  She’s probably in the nice comfy box seats with the Dodg and his buddies, having a cold one or several, with absolutely no idea she’s gonna get way more of a show than she bargained for.  Hell, way more than any of us counted on. 

Me and my big fat ego, if I’d kept my mouth shut I coulda been up there with her as well, in the clear. 

A whole lot more…less…the way I am now.  Instead of here. 

Yep, that could have been me, Colonel Safe and Sidelined and definitely not…flappin’ in the breeze, but oh no, I had to be da man, prove I could hold my own with the big boys.

I had no idea just how big they really were.  Or, how…big…

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Right now I’m doing my best to not stare at the naked back in front of me, but it’s not easy, the way we’re packed in here, there’s really not much else to look at and the back in question, ye gods, acres of bare skin and solid bone and muscles going on for days, this guy is built like…well, he’s built, let’s leave it at that.   I swear to God, he makes Teal’c look petite.  And there’s a hell of a lot more of where he came from on display, a whole line of two-legged tanks ahead of me, hulking and…hanging, waiting for what I’m not exactly sure, but whatever it is, we’re all standing here in the weirdest locker room I’ve ever seen waiting for it.

Completely starkers. 

Oh yeah, did I mention we’re naked?  All those guys ahead of me – and the two members of my team behind me?

Goes without saying, me too? 

Oy vey.

Oh my God, the testosterone level in the room alone is enough to give a guy the bends.  Not to mention a serious case of…insecurity.

Sure, I work out.  Gotta keep fit, the sort of work we do, and Lord knows it seems like we’re running for our lives every other day so it’s not like I don’t get my fair share of exercise.  So, that is to say, I’m not exactly out of shape or anything, hell, before this I thought I was in pretty good shape, but now, wedged between two dozen guys who look more pumped than Arnold’s steroids on steroids not to mention my own pretty damned buff team mates, neither of which I can look in the eye at the moment…

I’m feeling old.  Not to mention distinctly…saggy.  And completely unprepared for the horrifying prospect of having to run my flabby old ass all over the playing field with my rear flank, and everything else - completely exposed.

Oh God could this day get any worse?

“Omigawd, Sam!” From behind me, Daniel gasps.  “She’s gonna – we’re gonna be – she’s gonna - omigawd!”

“Finally worked that out, didya?” I shoot over my shoulder, without looking back.  “In the interests of salvaging what little is gonna be left of our collective dignities, we could always kill her afterwards.”

“I’m thinking it would be best if you kill me now.”

Believe me, I’m considering it.

“You’re not getting off that easy,” I snarl at him.

Daniel starts to make noises like he’s choking on something but before I have a chance to turn around and investigate the guy a couple of guys in front of me is ushered into a cubicle, looks like a shower stall.  What the heck is this we’re taking a shower before the game? 

Well, that’s odd.  But, I guess, when you consider what we’re doing, and where, odd, what does that mean, exactly?  I mean, look at what we do practically every day, as a matter of course, the whole going through the ole oriface thing, just to get to work, if you wanna talk ‘odd’, I guess to the average Joe, Earthside, I’m sure that would seem damned peculiar, while to us it’s no biggie, practically routine, just the SGC version of the morning commute.

So, what the hell is odd?  I don’t even know any more.

Oh, we’re moving again.  Another guy has stepped into the booth.  I haven’t seen anyone come out, so presumably the exit must be on the other side.  Where we can’t see it.  Well, that is, if there is one, and everyone who goes in, does indeed come out again.

We live in hope.

“Daniel, what the hell is this booth thing all about?”

Well, there’s no harm in asking.  Not that it’s done me a whole lot of good so far.

“I – I have no idea,” the man behind me admits.

“Just like you didn’t know we had to be naked?”

“Nope.”

“Do you know anything?”

Okay, you got me; I’m getting slightly snarky again.  Bite me; I’ve had just about as many surprises today as I can stand.  And I have a horrible feeling the day is far from over.

“Well, you know,” Daniel begins in his ‘I’m just going to ignore the attitude’ voice I’ve become all too familiar with over the years.  “How in football, the object of the game is to get the…thingee…across the finish line?”

“That would be the football, through the goal post, and yeah?”

Oh no, now what?

“Whatever.  Apparently in Zot, while getting across the….goal line is definitely the object of the game, there is no actual ball involved.  Actually.”

I know I’m gonna hate myself for asking this…but…

“So, if it’s not a ball, what is it we are trying to get across?  While the other team is, I’m presuming, doing its best to stop us from doing so?”

“That would be the Zarder,” Daniel gives up with a small sigh.

“Which is?”

“Not a which or a what, a who.  A person,” Daniel says brightly.   “Usually the fastest runner on the team, and the most agile, being as how they have to elude the members of the opposing team doing their best to stop him. Of course.”

“Of course.”

Poor bastards. Whoever these schmucks are, they can’t have a very long life expectancy.  Must be some kind of punishment, or something, maybe it’s this world’s version of the death penalty, they don’t hang ‘em, gas ‘em or inject ‘em, they send them out naked and give a bunch of bruisers license to mash them into the Astroturf.  Repeatedly.  Trust me, from what I’ve seen, having a few of these guys land on you, several times, yeah, that would do it, all right.   Game over. Ye gods, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes for anything!

“Usually, it’s the fastest runner, but not always,” Daniel quietly continues. “There are other…criteria governing the appointment, especially in special circumstances, such as a match like this one.  Being chosen as the Zarder, it’s considered the highest honour the Quaar can bestow upon an individual in this society.”

What?  What did he just say?  And why am I suddenly getting this very, very bad feeling?

“Daniel, how is it you know this, and yet, the little teeny tiny naked detail…how did that one manage to slip by you?”

“Um…” is all I get back. 

Yanno, it never ceases to amaze me how this guy can go on for decades about stuff I don’t give a crap about; when he’s giving forth with the tedious minutiae he’s a virtual verbal frigging fount of babbeldom; but when it comes down to something I really do want to know about, and he doesn’t want to give, these bouts of convenient inarticulateness he’s suddenly struck with…

Are pretty damned inconvenient!

Whoa!  It’s my turn to go into the booth!  When did this happen?  A panel is sliding open, there’s a little guy standing by the opening – fully clothed, I might add - holding a folded stack of – what are those, towels?

For the shower I presume.  Whatever.

“Badda bless, Kal-nel,” the little guy beams, and hands me a towel.

“One of their local deities,” Daniel mutters under his breath.  “He’s wishing you good luck.”

Ah, so you can talk again, can you?  Thanks for nothing; even though I don’t know Badda, I kinda got that.

“Backatcha bub,” I smile at the dude and start to unfold my towel.

Oh…wait a minute…

Whatever this is, it’s definitely not a towel.  Oh no, I should be so lucky.  Not a towel, not a towel, I’ll tell you what it looks like, looks like a frigging big balloon. Really big. What the hell is this, and what am I supposed to do with it?

At this point, though, possibly the question I should be asking myself is do I really want to know, followed by where the fuck is the nearest exit and how do I get there?

Suck it up, O’Neill, you got yourself into this.  You could be in the clear right now, but you had to go and be you, thereby landing yourself right in the middle of it, so shut up and deal.   Besides, there’s Daniel to consider.  He doesn’t have a choice. Even though we are, admittedly, a tad pissed at the dear boy, there’s no way we’re sending him out there alone.  No one gets left behind, or hung out to dry.  We’re SG-1; we stick…and hang…together.

So, we’re gonna have to run around on a football field naked and throw ourselves on a bunch of other naked guys for an hour or so.  So, we get a few bumps and bruises in the bargain.  So Carter, not to mention a whole bunch of other people we’ll probably never ever meet, and thank God for that, get an eyeful.  So what?  Other than the expiring from embarrassment potential inherent in the exercise, not like any of the aforementioned is gonna kill us, or anything.

How much worse can it get?

“Please, Kal-nel, like this,” the balloon-dispenser makes a motion like he’s pulling something over his head.  And suddenly this thing I’m holding in my hands is looking a lot less like a balloon and much more like a giant condom.

“You must…for your own protection.”

I really wish he hadn’t said that.

Right now my mind is going places even I never dreamt it capable.   I’m so freaked out I’m actually capitulating without a whimper or a roar; as instructed I’m stretching this thing out and applying it to the top of my head and…pulling.

Fuck!  This is me doing a sausage imitation; my entire head from the top right down to my shoulders is…encased!  Wait a minute, hold the phone, no need to flip out, this isn’t so bad, it’s weird, but I can breathe okay, see just fine…

“Daniel, I am so going to kill you for this.”

No problem talking, either.

“I know,” the man behind me wearily says, stepping forward to get his own cranial handi-wrapper.  Little dude hands it to him, and then motions for me to step through the sliding panel in the box into – well, at this point I don’t even want to guess.

“Ah well, into the box with me,” I say with as much bravado as a naked man with a giant condom on his head about to do something even stupider, I’m sure, can muster.

“Good luck, O’Neill,” the up until now noticeably silent Jaffa member of our party suddenly chimes in.  I don’t know if he’s been schtum all this time from shock, amusement or just laying low in order to stay off my radar, but for some odd reason I can’t help feeling by choosing this particular juncture at which to abruptly re-enter the conversation…

He’s laughing on the inside plenty.  At me.

“Jack,” Daniel ventures.

“Save it, Daniel, I will deal with you later,” I snap at him, before swaggering forward.

The instant I cross the threshold the panel slides back, leaving me in the dark.  Even more so than usual, that is.  Speaking of dark, that’s what it is, in here, all right, very, very, extremely, not light.   Small space.  Dark space.  Did I mention it’s dark in here?  Smells, too.   Kinda…funky odour, a very distinct aroma; familiar, I think, but can’t quite place it.

Well, here we are, still in the dark.  Still in the box.  Still Jack.  In the box.  Jack in the box.  Yeah, I still got it.  Or I’m losing it; take your pick.

Hellooo, is this thing on?

Woo, does sensory deprivation work this fast?  No panicking, here, Jack, it’s just been a couple of seconds.  These are friends, impending allies, we can trust them; there’s no way this is anything really…bad, or potentially fatal.

Wait a minute; what’s this, now?  Ah, light, not much, but at least it’s something.

Okay, this is new.  Now we know what smells.  Aside from this entire situation, that is.  A faint cloud of stinky mist is oozing into the box, and all over me. Whoa, what is this stuff, feels sorta slick, really oily.  Getting kinda coated, here.  Glad this shit isn’t going in my eyes.  That’d sting, I’m guessing.

Hmmm, the head baggie, starting to make a lot more sense, now.

Gah, whatever this stuff is, it’s gonna be a bitch to get off.  Holy buckets, you want to talk greased pig here, or what. Oh crap, I get it. Definitely catching onto the method behind all this seeming madness.   Greased pig. That’s exactly what I am.  One slicked up porker prepped for the playing field.  Shucked and slicked.

All the more difficult to hang onto you, my dear.

Well, this is just peachy.  Not only do I feel like a first-class turkey, I’m gonna look like one too. Pre-basted and everything. 

Oh look, I’m done!

Mist being sucked out of box, there goes the light, and oh goody, sliding panel in front of me, must be the exit.  Whatever it is, I’m taking it.

I am so out of here.  The box, that is, but not the whole deal.

I’m still game for the game, God only knows why.

Hang on here, I know I should be booking but Daniel is next in line for the box and I’m betting the farm this is something else Anthroboy, didn’t ‘figure’ on.  Yeah, he’s gonna come in here, right on my heels and it would so make my day to be able to see his face when the stuff starts shooting out all over him.  Yeah, he’ll be quite the sight, all right, naked, oiled to the eyeballs, entire body glistening, every single inch of him greased, slick, moist…

Hot…

Holy Hard-ons, I can’t believe I’m thinking about Daniel – like that – and it’s making me…

Fuck, this is so not the time for this!

I shoot out of the box like my ass is on fire, and any concerns I might have about errant, and completely inappropriate thoughts and their extremely inconvenient – and obvious - consequences, no longer an issue.   As soon as my foot hits the tile on the floor outside the box, crap!   This stuff is really, really slippery!  I’m skidding across the floor, flailing my arms madly, momentarily managing to keep my balance thereby barely avoiding making a one point ass-landing in front of the entire, oiled assemblage.

Goddammit!  I’m just about up to my eyeballs with weird; can I get off this rollercoaster ride now?

Please!

”Hela! We have you, Kal-nel!”

A couple of chuckling guys grab me by the arms before I coast clear across the room on my fricking heels.  Mighty glad someone is finding this funny; personally, I am not amused.

“Thanks, I – uh,” I shrug them off, and start ripping my used condom off my head.  I wrestle the damned thing off and the guy on the right takes the discard while the guy on the left is handing me…

What’s this now; looks like....

Looks like a skirt.

Oh wait a minute, the guys all around me; they’ve all got one too.  Only they’re already wearing theirs not staring at them trying to figure which fricking end is up.  They’re all wearing skirts.  Uniforms?  We get uniforms?  We don’t got to go out there dishabille?  Au naturel?  Sans clothing?  El nudo?   No running around on alien Astroturf for an unspecified length of time…naked? 

Really?

Uniforms!  Thank God!

Well, that is, if you can call belts with bits of material attached to them…uniforms.

Hey, I’ll take it!  Whoa, not a lot of coverage here, front or back, but still, be it ever so brief, it’s way better than the former option, which was nothing at all.    Let me see, what’s the deal here.   This thing goes around the waist, okay, that much I get.  This goes in front, this in back, but what’s with this pouch…thing.

Oh.  That’s where Mister Happy goes.  Oh, joy.  Not so much an athletic supporter as a…suspender.

“Here, Jack, it goes like – “ Daniel sounds from behind, reaching for the hunk of material in my hands, no doubt figuring I’m too mentally feeble to figure it out.  Ah, guess who’s finally joined the party.  Forget it, pal, even though the band-aid with delusions of grandeur I’ve been issued softens the sting somewhat, I’m still pissed at you.

“I got it!” I snarl at him, slapping his hand away and keeping my back to him while struggling to fit my private parts into the provided pouch.  Okay, that’s tucked, now, this goes around here, tie it off there.

That’s a wrap.

Tah dah.

I’m…covered, albeit briefly, but covered, nonetheless, and thankfully so is Daniel.  Uh oh.  Danger, Will Robinson, The thing I’m wearing is green.  Daniel’s is blue. 

Awwww… crap!

“We’re on opposite teams!”  I blurt out indignantly.  Which pretty much sums up the way I’m feeling; us getting split up is definitely not the scenario I expected or anticipated, what the what is up here, why would they put us against each other?

“It’s worse than that, actually,” Daniel informs me with a weak grin.

Worse?  Worse than being sent out nearly naked and greased within an inch of our lives, and having to go against each other?  What could be worse than that?

“I believe Daniel Jackson is correct,” Teal’c adds, stepping around Daniel, moving to my side.  “We appear to have been placed in a situation we did not anticipate when we agreed to participate in this contest.”

I’m staring at Teal’c, and if I thought I had coverage issues…

Whoa…

Okay, my alarm level is officially way over the limit, but it has nothing to do with what is or isn’t almost covering most of the important bits of Teal’c’s anatomy, it’s the colour of what is…

Almost.

Teal’c’s band-aid is white, with a green stripe along the bottom of the front and back…bits.  A quick glance around at our fellow players, the gaggle of guys collecting around Daniel and me confirms this horrible sensation gathering steam in my gut.  At this point I finally comprehend the true depth of the hole I have so stupidly dug for myself. 

I also get why both the Dodg and Daniel were so dead set against me doing this.

Everybody in the room who isn’t Daniel or me is wearing white whatevers too.  All white, except for a stripe of either green or blue along the bottoms of the skirt panels.  The ones behind me are green stripers.  Behind Daniel – blue. Daniel and me, we’re the only ones with solid-coloured mud-flaps.

We are so hooped.

“Daniel,” I growl at him.  “Exactly when were you going to tell me about this?”

He knew.  The son of a bitch knew all along.  I know he knew.

“I…um…” he stutters, turning a deep red.  “I tried to, before, when I told you maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea, if you played, not just because of…” he inclines his head towards the line of smiling blue-striped bruisers forming behind him.

“But also because of…” he finishes, glancing down at his crotch.  “It was a given I was going to have to be a Zarder,” he says with a sigh.  “There was no way I could get out of it.  The whole ‘honour’ thing,” he adds with a grimace.  “I couldn’t agree to play and not accept.  And I couldn’t not play,” he shrugs.  “So there you go.” 

“Oh yeah,” I bite back at him.  “They’re doing you a real favour.  The chance to get stomped to death, repeatedly, by seven, eight, no, make that eleven guys the size of the Hulk, what’s not to love about that?  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?”

“Daniel Jackson did previously inform you the Quaar consider being granted the privilege of serving as Zarder a great accomplishment and honour in this society,” Teal’c smoothly interjects.  “Naturally they would not wish to insult us, or our lead negotiator, by not allowing him to achieve this distinction himself.”

“Naturally,” I say sarcastically.

“I was really glad when Teal’c agreed to play,” Daniel explains.   “I knew as Earth’s only other official representative on the field, he would automatically be made the other Zarder.”

“An honour I would gladly have accepted, DanielJackson,” Teal’c says loftily.

“That’s assuming I’d done the sensible thing and stayed out of it,” I snarl at them.

“Well, there’s that,” Daniel murmurs and nods.

“Let me see if I understand this correctly,” I begin, calmly, reasonably, not even yelling, even.  “You wanted me to stay out of it, and Teal’c to be the other Zarder because you knew he’d have a better chance of avoiding being killed, than me.”

He’s probably right about that one, and we both know it, but he’s not fooling me for an instant.

“Um, yeah,” Daniel agrees, far too quickly.

Lying bastard I have you now.

“Your concern for my safety touches me deeply.  And that’s what this was all about, you wanting to keep me out of it because you were thinking of protecting me and were not, in fact, trying to pull one over on me, that is, if Teal’c went in, and I didn’t, you wouldn’t have had to tell me about any of this, most importantly the fact you were going to have to be in a position of potentially getting the snot kicked out of you by every member of the opposing team – until well after the fact.”

“I would have told you,” Daniel lies.  “Even if you hadn’t insisted on playing.  And now you are, because you’re our leader, well, naturally, it follows…”

“I will gladly concede the honour to you,” Teal’c says with a deep bow.

“Oh, thank you so much!”  I snarl at him.

“It goes without saying refusing…wouldn’t go over well.”  Daniel says in a low voice, crossing over to me and taking my arm.  Hmmmm,  I’m starting to get a distinct…vibe from the guys gathered all around us, waiting, no doubt, for us to stop yakking and commence with the killing, I won’t say it’s exactly hostile, but then again….

“Jack, you wanna…calm down?”  Daniel mutters at me.  “Please?  The guys, they’re…”

Yeah, I have noticed the natives are getting a tad restless.  Not to mention a bit prickly.

“They don’t understand why you’re upset.  They think – “

“I know what the hell they think,” I finish for him.  Namely, I should be jumping for joy at the chance I’m being graciously given to get the snot pounded out of me by a bunch of nearly but not entirely naked tanks on legs, and not…

Freaking!

“Jack, you don’t have to do this, there’s still time to…” Daniel hisses.

“To do what?  Quit?  Jam out? Admit I can’t cut it? Tuck my tail between my legs and run?”  I fire right back at him.  I can’t believe he’s saying this to me, can’t believe for one damn minute he thinks we both think not only am I not up to this but he further thinks I’d bail and leave him because I’m…

This is just the last stinking straw!  Nobody calls me chicken!

How pissed I am at his last so not helpful suggestion must be sprawled all over my face ‘cause he draws back, lifting his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Jack, I didn’t mean – “

“Save it, geekboy,” I snarl at him, stepping back to join my guys.  “You and your Smurfs are going down!”

“Jack, this isn’t personal,” Daniel eyes me warily, the boys in blue forming an extremely stalwart, and intimidating line behind him.

“Sez you,” I sneer.  “From where I’m standing it’s looking very personal.  I hope you enjoy sucking alien Astroturf, ‘cause you’re gonna be doing it a lot!”

Daniel’s face shuts down, his eyes getting that deadly, icy blue he usually reserves for System Lords and other assholes who think they’re gonna break or best him.    Oooh, he’s pissed.  Too damn bad, I’m not exactly turning cartwheels of joy myself, here.

Glare away, bucko; you don’t scare me.  Ain’t gonna get the best of me either.

“Bring it on, Old Man,” he says cruelly, in a voice cold enough to freeze the balls off a buffalo.   With a particular emphasis on the old not escaping my allegedly decrepit hearing.

Oh, oh, I am wounded to the core.

Not.

So, we’re really fighting dirty, are we?  Fine.  I can do dirty.

I can do you too, asshole.  And your whole stinking team, too.

“Blow it out your waaahzoo,” I snarl at him.  “Losers!”

“Oh, I don’t think so.”

“Are so!”

“Are not!”

“Are!”

“Not!”

“O’Neill,” the big guy chimes in, interrupting our verbal pissing contest and scaring the snot out of me in the bargain.

“What?”  I yell at him.

“I do not believe it would be wise for the two of you to enter into this situation with your judgment clouded by emotionalism.”

“When I want your advice I’ll ask for it,” I silence him with a curt command.  “Dead man walking!”  I taunt Daniel one last time before turning my back on him, and turning to my team.

“Come on guys, let’s show these losers how it’s done and win one for the Gipper!”

If my team got the Gipper thing or not, they don’t let on, instead they let out a huge cheer, grab me by the arms, and start pushing me towards a big set of double doors on the other side of the room.  Ah, this is it.  I’m on the way to my destiny.  The die is cast, the ball’s in play, it’s now or never, do or die, no turning back, abandon hope, all ye who exit here.  Done some big talking; now I’ve got to deliver.  Coming back a winner, or not coming at all.

I mean coming back.  Not coming.  Back.  Coming back.

Ah, screw it; let’s get this over with already.  First, I have to kill my linguist.  Nothing personal, just on principle.  Then, we’ll worry about whatever this thing is that’s been…these weird thoughts I’ve been having about, reactions to… to Daniel.

And as for the boy himself, yeah, he’s in a snit now and for sure he’ll be doubly displeased with me once I whup his ass out there, but when he calms down, he’ll be fine.

He will be fine, right. 

Sure he will.  Why wouldn’t he be?




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Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
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Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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