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

RITUALS   BY PHOENIX E


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Established Relationship.  Angst, Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Drama.
Season/Spoilers: Late Season Two/AU Universe Story Five in the Doppelganger Series
Synopsis: Companion Piece to 'Distraction'.  Daniel's thoughts the evening before returns to active duty and what happens after he does.
Warnings: No one dies in this story but references are made to a character death that has already occurred.  not a member of SG-1.  No major appliances are harmed during the course of this story but one is scared bad.
Length:  160   Kb  Originally completed in 2000.

 

I'm going back through the gate tomorrow.

Jack is picking at his food, avoiding my eyes. Either he is trying not to see how excited I am, or trying not to let me see how unhappy he is. We both knew this was coming. I've been back on light duties for the past week and a half. Been a good boy and gone to all my appointments. It just all fell together. The doctors signed me off, a destination came up that looked as if it was tailor-made for an archaeologist, and coincidentally, SG-1 just happened to get one back.

So here we are. Our last night together before we both go back out there again. I can hardly wait. He looks like he would rather die.

Funny – all the things we've talked about in the last two months, we've never once talked about this. Funny – he's the one who's the most responsible for my recovery. Guess you could say it's mostly his fault I'm getting to do what I'll get to do tomorrow. Somehow I don't think he'll appreciate the irony so I think I'll pass on mentioning it.

If not for Jack, his patience and his willingness to listen to me for hours on end I don't know if I'd have been able to sort it all out so quickly. Figure out what is real, let go of what is not. There are still some grey areas in my understanding but between Jack and the dreams we're filling in the gaps.

Sometimes the images from the OTHER dreams, the strange ones I had during the six month period I was in 'storage' surface, but now I know they ARE only dreams – creations of a captive mind wanting to live, events I experienced only in my head and not actual memories of six months of life – I'm not confused by them anymore.

It's very reassuring. The true memories of my life previous to my 'death' are starting to come back. Again, Jack is the one most responsible for helping me reclaim them. He sat with me and recounted, in great detail, everything that happened from the time we saw each other for the first time the second time till I forced him to leave me behind on Apophis' ship.

There were… differences. At first. Some of the things he told me, the way he said things went, were not the way I remembered them. It upset me initially. Jack was wonderful. He would just hug me and say, don't worry about it, it's all in the past anyway, just focus on getting better now. He was right. Getting worked up about it didn't do any good. So I stopped worrying about it.

Then the dreams started. The good dreams. Night after night I would dream the things Jack told me and it wasn't like listening to something happening to someone else. I was there, felt, saw, did, remembered. It felt good to remember. Felt like finding myself again. The more Jack told me, the more I dreamed, the better I felt. Still, there were some things harder to accept than others.

I remember the way he comforted me the first time I found out Sha'uri was dead. The same way he was here for me when I learned about it again. It was like living it all over a second time. Hurt just as much. Except for this time, I had the added consolation of his love. Guess I had it before as well, just didn't know it as surely then as I do now.

 


 

I still don't understand why it happened. Why she had to be taken, why she was killed, but it was done and done many months long gone. Have to keep telling myself that, reminding myself it was all over and done with long ago, no matter what it feels like.

Even though it feels like it just happened, I've been a widower for almost 2 years – oh god, longer than I was a husband hard to take in that much time has passed when it seems – it seems as if I have only just seen her, held her – but - but – that's not possible, not possible, she's dead, been dead all this time and yet – and yet – I was dead…

Have to stop thinking like this, have to let go of these phantoms. Not real, never real, they're only going to mess me up again if I try to examine them too closely. Don't want that. Focus on what's real. Focus on Jack. Focus on the living, those who remain. Somewhere out there in the stars I have a family who thinks I am dead. Going to have to do something about that soon. Soon, but not quite yet. Only wish I could give Kasuf back a daughter as well as a son. Hope only me will be enough for them.

I definitely need something to take my mind off this. I look at the man across the table from me while I am in the middle of taking a drink of water. Big mistake. Huge mistake. Jack's been busy while I have been fugue-ing off into the blue.

He's playing with his food. Literally. He's lined up all his peas and is using his fork to march them single file into the enclosure he made with his mashed potatoes. Muttering something under his breath I can't quite catch because I am far too busy trying to avoid choking to death from the water I inhaled rather than drank. I'm coughing, seeing stars feeling a large, firm hand thumping me soundly on the back while I'm trying to laugh, breathe, not die and not fall off the chair.

Takes a few minutes, but the coughing gradually gives way to normal breathing patterns again. I am able to look up into the anxious face hovering over me, trying not to laugh at him as he says, "Okay, Hun?"

His eyes widen in surprise, as he realizes what he has just said. I'm a little surprised myself. It seems we both have the same thought at pretty much the same time.

"Oh crap," he says, anger flaring suddenly in his deep, dark eyes. "Crap. I hate this. I just hate this."

I know exactly what he is upset about. I don't mind it as much as he does. I don't 'need' to be acknowledged or legitimized. I'm much more concerned about protecting him.

He's walking away from me, pacing angrily up and down. "It's all going to change now, all going to have to be different. We can't be the way we have been anymore. Gonna have to watch what I say – even when we're alone. In case I slip up… when we're not."

I nod, trying to find some way to show him I know what he's saying, but I don't mind.

"Ah, that's true. Getting in the habit of giving each other pet names might not be a very good idea. Even casual, habitual use of the of the 'L' word might be… unwise."

He turns, and from the look on his face I can see he's picked up on the bantering tone of my voice.

"Oh yeah," he grins crookedly at me. "Mind you, it almost might be worth it to see the look on Hammond's face if I were to slip up in a briefing and say something to you like, excuse me sweetheart, would you mind passing me a pencil."

I rise, take off my glasses, cross over to him and take him in my arms. He's still not happy, but he's less upset than he was before. I concentrate on trying to make him more of the former than the latter.

"Okay, some of the more conventional sentimental appellations might not be too prudent, but in your case, you don't have to abandon the concept entirely. If you are bound and determined to call me names in public, you've already set some precedents."

He looks at me like he has no idea what I am talking about.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he replies in a tone attempting to convey completely unconvincing innocence.

"Oh, I think you do," I grin at him. "Let me just run down the short list of 'endearments' you have bestowed upon me in the past – that I can remember. Let me see: there's 'Dial Home Danny', the Excavator, Better-Late-Than-Never Boy, Geek, Monkey Boy, the 'Doctor' series, the most notable of those being - Doctor Dull, Doctor Deadly Dull, Doctor Dweeb, and few other that escape me at the moment. Then we have Kid Sominex, the Cairo Kid, the Are-You-Kidding-Me Kid. Last but not least, my personal favorite – Plant Boy!"

"I NEVER called you Doctor Dweeb!"

"Did."

"Did not!"

"Did."

"Okay, okay, maybe once. Okay twice. Okay – stop looking at me like that, half a dozen times, tops!"

I let it go. Had what I wanted. He was smiling at me again.

He enfolds me in one of his huge bear hugs and I feel several ribs groan in protest under the assault.

"Oh Dannyboy," he says into my ear, his voice breaking. "You know, don't you? You know how I feel? You know what I want to say? I hate that I can't. I hate having to hide what I feel for you, what you mean to me. It isn't right. It's just not right…"

I kiss his neck and he shivers slightly, pressing his face closer into mine.

"It's all right, Jack. I know. You know. That's all that matters. As for the rest of it, we'll find another way to say what needs to be said. You'll see. As for right here, right now, why don't you – show me?"

"Thought you would never ask," Jack growls as he grabs the back of my neck, pulling my head around until my mouth is his. I find myself unable to breathe again as quite another type of obstruction occupies my oral cavity. What the hey, breathing is overrated in certain circumstances…

I am so engrossed in Jack's enthusiastic plundering of my mouth I am completely unaware of what his other hand is doing to the front of my shirt until the buttons start to fly. I manage to pull back from him enough to gasp, "Jack! That's a new shirt!"

"I'll buy you another one," he mutters, licking my neck.

"That's what you said the last time," I manage to get out, trying to find his mouth again.

"So?" his hands are roaming over my bare chest, his breath hot against my ear. It's getting hard to think. Okay, so it's just getting… hard…

"Like I said – this is a new shirt."

"So I'll buy you two for crying out loud, anyone ever tell you you talk too much?"

Next thing I know he is slinging me over his shoulder and making grunting noises as he bumps me down the hall toward the bedroom.

"Me Tarzan you definitely not Jane," he laughs as he throws me on the bed.

Smooth talker…

Once again, he surprises me. But that's my colonel. Never predictable, never one to be pinned down, slotted, completely by the numbers or absolutely ever what you think he should be. Given the direction foreplay had taken I was fully expecting to be summarily ravaged, and not averse to the idea in the slightest but instead he lies down beside me, looking deeply into my eyes as he traces his fingers lightly across my face. He spends many long minutes touching my face, my hair, lightly stroking my mouth, my neck, caressing me with his eyes as he carefully, deliberately caresses me with his hands.

Then he makes love to me with the same reverent sweetness, gradually fanning the poignant flame of desire into unbelievable ecstasy. What his hands can do to me – what he can do to me, at times it seems I cannot possibly survive the shivering, screaming extremes of pleasure and sensation he brings me so expertly to. I rise, die, fall…

And he is there to catch me. To hold me, to kiss the breath back into my shuddering body, the safest, truest, most adored…

No more talking, we love well into the night. Tomorrow will bring what it brings. We'll find a way not to let what has to happen out there tarnish what we have right here and now.

Before he drops off to sleep Jack whispers to me, "Whatever goes down, if they make me chose, there's no choice. You know that, don't you?"

Didn't have to say it, Jack. I know.

This way too. Goes without saying…

 


 

"How are you feeling, Daniel?"

I start at the sound of the deep, unfamiliar voice. I thought I was alone here, in this exotic, beautiful, alien place. Standing on the craggy top of a blood-red mountain, one of many which form a far-reaching spine wending torturously across this strange world as far as the eye can see. An impossibly turquoise sky above me, a black, glassy sea in the distance ahead of me, and at the foot of the mountain range – the city…

I barely have time to take it all in before the voice forces me to turn. I find myself looking into the grey eyes of a man I have never seen before and yet – there is something familiar about him. He's slightly taller than I am, all dressed in black, long silver hair, closely cropped white beard. The face, something about the face…

"How are you feeling, Daniel?" He asked me that before. I should probably answer him.

"Fine," I reply, not understanding why he has asked me the question in the first place. We've never met. Why should he care? How does he know my name?

"Ah – do I know you?" Might as well ask the obvious question. With the way my memory has been, he might be an old friend I just haven't gotten around to recalling yet.

"No," he smiles warmly, in a way making me trust him instantly. I might not know him but suddenly I want to. "But we have met. You weren't exactly yourself, so don't feel bad if you don't remember. For the moment it's enough to know I know you."

That makes about as much sense as everything else that has happened to me in the last couple of months. I find myself borrowing a page from Jack's book.

"Huh?"

He laughs and walks up to my side, touching me on the arm, turning me back toward the sight of the city beneath us.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" he says, indicating the acres of sparking spires and towers far beneath us with an expansive sweep of his arm. "It's very old. Even by the standards you are used to dealing in. Older than your race, older than your planet, almost as old as time itself. It had a name once, almost forgotten now. Do you want to know what it is?"

I nod, unable to speak. The sound of his voice is fascinating, almost mesmerizing.

"Mir-won." Means 'Home'. Among other things. Not too many people around anymore who know that. Welcome to a very select society."

He stops talking for several minutes. I turn what he has told me over in my mind, knowing he is not done yet.

"Things make more sense now, do they?" I knew he was going to start speaking again but the sound of his voice still catches me by surprise.

"Uh – um – yeah…." I find myself stammering, not really sure why. "W-w-w… how do you know… who – who ARE you…"

He puts his hand on my shoulder and gives it a reassuring squeeze. "I did the best I could for you, but there was only so much I could do without ultimately doing more harm than good. I've been worried you wouldn't be able to make the mental adjustment. Should have known better; you're one stubborn son of a bitch no matter which version you are. You've done remarkably well in an extremely short period of time. That's good. That's good. You made it here like you were supposed to, that means everything is …working. Means you're going to make it."

Now I know what Jack feels like when I start shooting my mouth off and talking over his head. Like trying to run through quicksand. I must be staring because he chuckles, squeezes my shoulder again and shakes his head.

"Don't worry about it, Daniel," he says. "It's not supposed to make any sense. Not yet, anyway. Maybe a long time from now but not quite yet. I just wanted to stop by to check up on you. Also to tell you, if anything happens, if you need me, all you have to do is come back to this place. You'll know how. This is where you'll find me. Promise."

He takes his hand away, takes a step back from me, raises his arm in a salute.

"Be seeing you, Brother."

He's gone, I cry out, feel as if I'm falling –

And then, I wake up…

I sit up abruptly in the bed, propelled by my startling insertion back into full awareness. It's still dark. Clock says 4:15. Groping in the bed beside me for Jack, I find only rumpled emptiness. Oh dear. That's not a good sign. When Jack has trouble sleeping there's only one reason.

I fumble around in the darkness until I find my pants and quickly pull them on. I'm not nearly as comfortable strutting around the house in the altogether as Jack is, especially as we have been known to retire without pulling all the drapes. Quite frequently, as a matter of fact. No point in taking any chances.

I find him in the kitchen, showered, shaved, dressed, doing the dishes. Well, the dishes are in the water; he's playing with it, playing with them. I clear my throat as I enter the kitchen, letting him know I am behind him.

I don't sneak up on Jack. Not unless I am prepared for the consequences. He reacts first, asks questions later. Found that out the hard way, not long after I first came home. He still apologizes for having knocked me cold. If I didn't know darn well it was my own stupid fault I might occasionally make him feel guilty about it.

"Couldn't sleep?" I venture as I lean up against the counter.

"What gave me away?" he tosses back at me in a too-casual tone. This isn't going to be an easy conversation. If it is even going to happen at all. I have to find out if he wants to talk, and if he does, what he wants me to know.

"Do you want me here right now, or should I go back to bed?"

"Not much point now," Jack says lowly, rinsing off a plate, putting it in the dish drain. "Just going to have to get up again in another 45."

That's a 'yes' to me staying.

"Want some help?" I ask, picking up the dishcloth.

"Might as well, seeing as how you're here and all."

That's a 'yes' to talking. He'll get to what he wants to talk about when he's ready. For now, we'll just stand here and do the dishes.

We're almost finished before it finally comes. "So, I guess you're pretty excited about today."

No point in lying to him. Can't, anyway. "Yes."

He snorts. "That's – terse. Not exactly your style."

I shrug at his back. "I don't know what else to say that won't sound… ungrateful."

For the first time since I got here he stops what he's doing and looks at me.

"What are you talking about?" His voice is as confused as his expression. I'm beginning to think maybe I've got this wrong but I've already put it out there, so I have to explain.

"These past months have been wonderful. You've been wonderful. You've done so much. I'm not ungrateful – I'm happy here, but I'm also not… unhappy….to be going back out there. I'm sorry if that seems cold. Not the way I mean it. It's not you. It's me. Something in me needs something – out there – almost as much…"

I let my voice trail away, a little frightened by his expression. He's looking at me, almost as if he is suddenly afraid of what he sees. Afraid, puzzled, disturbed, or a mixture of all of the above. I'm feeling a little spooked myself, not sure what I have said. Have to fix it somehow. My mind races, trying to figure out what I've done while at the same time I begin to experience a strange sense of – detachment - almost as if I am suddenly looking at him from far away. My mouth opens, words come out, I don't know where they are coming from. They're coming out of me, but I'm not saying them.

"I love you."

He recoils as if I actually struck him. His face turns white with shock, then flushes with anger. He lunges at me, grabbing me by the upper arms, his wet hands struggling for a purchase on my bare skin. He finds it, his fingers biting deeply into my flesh as he shakes me violently, screaming.

"Why did you SAY that? Don't say that! Don't! Not now! Not like that! Not before…"

He slams me up against the fridge, almost sobbing. I've never seen him so scared. That's what it is. Blood-numbing, sheer, quaking terror. I don't understand what he is so frightened of, but I do know I have to get him to stop what he's doing to me or I'm going to be unconscious before I can find out.

I push against him before he can shove me back the next time, somehow managing to break his grip on my arms. I continue to move into him, wrapping my arms around him, hoping my embrace will somehow calm him. He slumps into me almost immediately, as if my arms around him break the spell.

I hold him tightly as he clutches me even tighter, his head buried in my shoulder, his breathing fast, laboured, scared. He struggles to hold it back, shove it back down, I feel him tremble with the effort. He loses.

It comes out at last, in such a small voice I almost don't hear it. At last I understand how wrong I have been. I understand what I have done.

"You stood there, just like that. Sounded just like that – said that – then you – died…"

God help me, I've been such a fool. The last time we went through that gate together he lost me. Now he has to take me through again in a few short hours he's supposed to be jumping for joy at the prospect? No wonder he's scared.

For someone who's supposed to be so smart I can be pretty double dumb-ass stupid at times.

He's shaking, mumbling over and over he's scared. I hold him, suddenly I'm feeling it again. That strange distancing, the numbing, must have hit my head on the back of the fridge harder than I thought, but that hadn't happened yet when I felt this way the first time and oh – this is interesting – I'm talking again but it's not me talking. Mouth is working, words are coming out I hope this isn't some strange new indication I'm losing my marbles…

"I never left you, Jack, I've always been here. Never been far away. Never will be far away. Never, never leave you…"

There's more, I can still hear my own voice in my ears but I'm getting farther and farther away with each passing second. Feel dizzy, everything's spinning, not quite sure how I can talk and fall at the same time…

Next thing I know I'm lying on the floor, cradled in Jack's arms. What is it with us, somehow we always end up on the floor?

I feel his hand brushing the hair back from my forehead, open my eyes to see his face close to me, lined with concern, his eyes brimming with guilt, worry and tears. When he sees me looking at him he darts his gaze away momentarily, then looks back at me, a sheepishly contrite grin pulling at his mouth.

"Hey!" I smile back at him. "How we end up down here?"

"How ya think?" he answers tenderly. "You fell over. Came along for the ride."

"Nice of you."

"Least I could do, considering I'm the one who pushed you and all." He grimaces and flinches before continuing. "Several times…"

"I've ended up in worse places." I reach up and touch his cheek. "However I got here, glad you're here too."

He grabs my hand and takes it away from his face, squeezing his eyes shut as he does so. As his hand closes over the one he has captured he laughs mirthlessly and says, "Christ, Danny, if I don't stop slapping you around you're not going to live long enough for the gate to even be an issue!" He opens up my hand, presses the palm to his lips and holds it there, his breath tickling my skin as he speaks again. "I'm sorry I lost it."

"I'm sorry I didn't understand."

He's starting to grin again. "So, what we're saying is we're both pretty sorry."

"They don't come any more pathetic," I return. We're just about through this.

"Crap!" Jack says suddenly. "Screw this! Making myself sick to my stomach here! Just shut up and kiss me!"

Moments like this I know exactly why I love this man.

 


 

"NOW, Daniel. Today would be good."

I gulp down my cup of coffee as I send my mental ritual 'I hate mornings' chant out into the blue. Hate mornings. Hate hate hate hate…

Jack is by the door, leaning up against it, staring at the ceiling, waiting for me to figure out my next move. Which could take awhile – I've only had four cups of coffee. Caffeine level isn't up nearly high enough to promote normal brain functioning. We're late, my fault; I have no idea what I need or where anything is. I stride out of the kitchen and stand in the middle of the dining room staring helplessly at him.

He looks at me, sighs, pulls a face. "Keys are on the table beside you, wallet is on the TV, briefcase is right here by the door, glasses are on the top of your head, ass is going to be on the end of my foot if you don't get moving!"

I rush to procure all the necessary items in the least possible span of time. Mission accomplished I am about to head out the door when he puts a hand on my chest, stopping me.

"Where do you think you're going without your damned jacket? Freezing out there. You think I'm nursing you back to health after you catch pneumonia, think again."

Jacket. Right. Get it. Put it on. Finally ready.

He throws his hands up in the air, lets out an enthusiastic and slightly sarcastic "Hallelujah," and pushes me out the door ahead of him. Figure I know just the way to start the day out right.

"By the way, Jack, it is an erroneous misconception one can catch pneumonia from becoming chilled."

"Daniel."

"Or wet…"

"Daniel…"

"Or cold and wet - ah, Jack, where are you going?"

"Back in the house to get my gun. Isn't a court in the land that will convict me."

We're going through the gate today. Me and my colonel. That is, if he lets me live that long…

 


 

I step through the event horizon, not expecting the blast of heat which nearly drives me to my knees. Whoa! I'm not exactly unaccustomed to high temperatures but Abydos was never like this! The air is so close and humid you can almost swim through it. I can literally see the atmosphere around me shimmering like a moving, moisture-laden curtain.

Walking – hell, breathing even is going to be an interesting experience. Especially for me; my largely sedentary life of the past - well, technically eight months I guess if you want to nit pick - means I'm really out of shape. Even for all the indoor sports I have been engaging in recently.

I'm the only one on this side of the gate. The others are taking their time. I can only imagine what is holding them up. While I wait for them I take in my surroundings. The gate is standing in a huge clearing in the jungle, at the far end of a large, clear oval patch of ground completely surrounded on all sides by rampant, wild green. The clearing extends for at least five or six hundred yards in front of me.

I wonder idly how this can be. How this clearing can exist, why the gate isn't overwhelmed by the jungle growth. It should be, unless there is some unknown technology, some sort of a force operating in the vicinity inhibiting plant growth in the gate area, or – and this is probably the more likely explanation – someone maintains the clearing. Cuts the growth back on a regular basis.

Which would mean there are people in the area.

I know what I'm doing. I'm trying to distract myself. Keep myself from thinking about Jack, worrying about the state he must be in. He's not himself. What with fretting about me and what might happen, and… everything else.

Everything we talked about last night, how careful we know we have to be, the precautions we have to take to monitor our words and actions, all just went out the window. For one terrible second before I left him I actually thought he was going to kiss me. Thank God the only other people on the ramp were Sam and Teal'c. After the show we just put on they have to know what's going on. Man, I know what THAT means!

Sam is going to tease the crap out of me. At length, mercilessly, with much gusto and relish. She can't do much to Jack; rank does have its privileges, lucky bastard. However, it's open season on the civilian archaeologist. Well, hope she enjoys it while she can. I know where she lives…

Where the heck IS everyone – oh, Sam and Teal'c are coming through, great, Sam is grinning from ear to ear, Teal'c looks similarly… amused. I see the games have already begun.

As soon as she sees me I can't help but notice there is one wicked sparkle in those baby blues. Okay, Carter, bring it on. You don't know who you're messing with. I've fended off more slings and arrows than you could possibly dream of…

She elbows Teal'c in a broad motion I am clearly meant to see.

"Look! There's the other one! Oh Dan-niel! Yoo Hoo!"

I think she meant to skip over to my side but the oppressive heat causes her to somewhat moderate the speed with which she approaches me.

"Holy crap is it hot or what!" she grins as she reaches me.

Jack is coming through the event horizon. Finally. Her back is to the gate, but she sees my eyes shift, knows who I am looking at, bares her teeth in a deeply satisfied smirk as she leans close to me and starts softly chanting, "Daniel and the Colonel, sitting in a tree…"

"Shut up, Sam."

"K- I – S – "

"Shut UP, Sam!"

"Make me!" she taunts. Time to take her out.

I keep my face completely dead pan and my tone dead serious as I return in a very calm voice, "Well, I would, but you have a bigger gun."

Set and match. Jackson One, Carter Zero. King me. She chokes, rolls her eyes and walks away from me, shaking her head, giggling like a fiend. Teal'c is looking at both of us, a deeply troubled expression on his face. Guess we lost him back a ways.

Okay, here comes Jack. He's got his pockets stuffed with counterfeit bravado and a falsely casual smile crookedly pasted on his face but he isn't fooling anyone, least of all me. I had better stay ahead of him and away from him. I had also best avoid making eye contact with him. I've seen that look in those eyes often enough to know what he's got on his mind, and it's not where we are and where we're going.

"Okay, kids," he booms at us. "Let's get the heck on our way and get the job done before we all liquefy. Who was the damned genius who pulled us this lousy mission anyway?"

"Ah, that would be you, sir," Carter replies, biting her lip, not looking at him.

"Well, that just shows to go you I should never listen to myself. Teal'c! Take point and make like a machete. Wagons Ho!"

I hasten to move up to the front to walk with Teal'c, leaving Carter to keep pace with Jack. We haven't gone very far before Teal'c asks me the question I have been expecting. Hoping for actually. Definitely need a mental diversion. I can feel Jack's eyes boring holes in my back. It's taking everything I have to keep myself from running back to him.

"DanielJackson I do not understand why Captain Carter was so amused by your comment. You were stating the obvious. She does indeed, have a larger weapon."

Teal'c and I have been having a variation of this conversation for a long time. Almost as long as we have known each other. Somewhere along the line I became his 'designated cultural interpreter' and we have been carrying on trying to understand our vastly different but equally fascinating worldviews ever since.

I think it has been as educational a process for me as it has been for him. Teal'c looks at the things I assume I know with completely different eyes, and as he shares what he sees and understands with me I gain a different perspective on that which I thought I was already familiar with. Sometimes to discover, in the process, I really knew nothing at all about what I thought I already knew. Getting your reality rocked from time to time does not always have to be a negative experience.

Besides, he's one of the few people I know who doesn't suddenly remember they have something else to do whenever I start talking. He's let me go on for ages about this that and everything and even looks interested while he's doing it. Sometimes I think he doesn't really need a lot of the 'explanations' he asks for. He is a frighteningly intelligent man, and understands far more about us and our weird little world than he lets on. I think he does it not because he needs to hear my explanations, he does it just to give me a chance to talk.

Whatever his reasons, I appreciate it.

"No – that's bigger gun, Teal'c. Doesn't work quite as well if you change it," I reply, launching happily into 'lecture mode'. "The statement is true and therefore not funny if you take it literally. However, in this instance, the humour is derived from the use of the word 'gun' in a euphemistic sense. We talked about this before, remember?"

"Ah yes," Teal'c nods. "The peculiarity of language usage your species employs wherein a commonly used word or phrase can have a completely different application and meaning from the one generally understood when it is used in a different context. Very imprecise and confusing."

"But funny!" I grin at him.

"As you wish," Teal'c shrugs slightly, clearly conveying the fact he is not convinced. "Therefore you are contending in your statement the word 'gun' was used euphemistically, not simply to mean your weapons. What then, is it a euphemism for?"

"Ah, a certain body part I have – and she doesn't."

"But if she does not have one how can hers be bigger?"

I realize I am in way over my head here. Really not prepared to get into double entendres, puns, or trying to explain the finer points of sexual innuendo, gender issues, sexual orientation and the concept of penis envy. Christ, did I miss anything? Wasn't that funny a joke! Fortunately, Jack saves the day for me, although I hardly think he's seeing it that way. He's too busy staring at the tree trunk he has just walked into.

None of us can quite believe it; he's equally astonished. Not to mention completely humiliated. I watch him peel himself off, dust himself down, attempt to toss off a flip comment which only seems to make it worse.

I wish there was something I could do but right now he's so angry with himself he might take my head off for looking at him sideways. I let him stalk by me to assume the place up front with Teal'c, contenting myself with falling back and walking with Sam. Maybe if he can't see me he'll be able to wrestle the genie back down into the bottle. Euphemistically speaking…

It's okay for a little while. We trudge on for a bit longer, the heat forcing us to make a brief stop to lose some layers. I don't seem to be bothered by it as much as Jack and Sam. Not really quite sure why, but the plain fact is I'm not sweating as much, or having as much trouble breathing as they are. We've still got a long way to go.

I feel Sam stumble beside me and grab her arm to steady her. She flashes me a grateful smile.

"Thanks," she grimaces. "Man, this is like trying to walk through pea soup. This air is so thick I can't decide whether to try to breathe it or chew it. Antarctica is starting to look pretty good right now."

That makes me laugh. "So, I guess you won't be taking that tropical vacation anytime soon."

She takes her hat off and swipes her forearm across her forehead. "Hah! Next person who says ' let's go take a little walk in the jungle it'll be fun' gets one right between the eyes. Might not have a 'gun' but I sure know how to use one."

"I'm not touching THAT line with a ten foot pole." I expect her to pick up on the remark immediately and shoot some kind of off-colour comment right back at me. She doesn't. Doesn't say anything. I glance over at her. She's looking at me funny, with a soft fondness that takes me by surprise.

"So, how are you doing, Daniel?" she asks quietly. "You're looking good. He treating you okay?"

Don't have to ask her to elaborate. We both know who 'he' is.

"Yeah," I respond, feeling myself start to flush at the mere thought of him. A faint smile touches her lips and from the expression on her face I realize I am a completely open book. She's reading me cover to cover and there's not a damned thing I can do about it. "Definitely okay. More than okay. So much more…"

I can't say anymore. She flashes me an enormous, slightly tremulous smile as she pats me on the arm.

"That's all right, don't worry about it. You don't have to say. I can tell just by looking at you. So good to see you like this. You don't know how great it is to see you – happy. If anyone deserves to be happy, Daniel, it's you."

She slips her arm through mine and gives me a none-too-gentle hip butt as she continues. "So let's see what we can do to help you two 'adjust' so we all get to stay happy. If I have to break in two replacement members for this team I am going to be one extremely cranky captain."

"We can't have that," I laugh as I shove her back. "You're even scarier cranky than Jack is."

"Pfffft!" She waves a disdainful hand in the air. "This from a man who throws temper tantrums when he can't find HIS coffee mug. Like it makes a difference what mug you drink it out of."

"I LIKE my mug," I return defensively. "It's mine. Don't like using another one."

"I know," she chortles. "That's why I hide it on you all the time…"

"WHAT!"

"Hey!" Jack shouts back at us. "You two kids behave! Christ, can't take you anywhere! Don't make me come back there!"

I love Sam. Next to Jack, she's the person I most feel comfortable with. In a lot of ways, she's easier to talk to. Couldn't ask for a better friend. She just has this completely compassionate, accepting way of looking at you. Always willing to listen, always seems to know what to say, doesn't make me feel like a freak because my IQ happens to be a few points higher than my shoe size.

Mind you, I'm sure she's been through her own experiences of 'let's pick on the smart kid.' The game doesn't go away when all the players grow up. We certainly have that much in common, although in her case, she had the added fun of playing the gender variant version. With all its extra little rules, complications, pressures and expectations. Maybe that explains her secret life.

Quite a study in contradictions, is our Sam. She has the biggest heart in the world and the soul of an incorrigible prankster lurking beneath the we're-all-business-totally-consummate-professional exterior.

All that brainpower isn't wasted simply on calculating planetary shifts. Sam has pulled some spectacular stunts, a few the stuff of legends, none of which have ever been laid at her doorstep because when a list of the usual suspects is drawn up no one ever thinks to put her on it. I know all about her carefully concealed deviant streak because I 'm the one who helps her.

No slouch at pulling the 'wide-eyed innocent' routine myself. Who – ME?

Mind you, she doesn't know I know about the teddy bear in the bottom drawer of her desk. Mister Boo. Hide my coffee mug, will you? I think Mister Boo needs to see a bit more of the world…

I've missed this. Missed it terribly. Enjoying being here, with my friends. All of them. It has been such a long time since we have been together like this. Such a long time, and yet, it's as if it's been no time at all.

For an instant I feel the same pang of terrible disloyalty to Jack I felt last night when I admitted to him I was anxious to go back out into the world. As if somehow that was wrong. Ungrateful. I'm not really sure where this is coming from. Certainly not from Jack, although it's what I thought was bothering him, until I found out the truth. When I did, I felt ashamed. I realized how unworthy of him it was for me to think he would think that way.

We sorted it. I found out what drove him from our bed last night was not angst over having to share me with the outside world but fear it would take me from him as it had once before. Well, I have news for him. Nobody or nothing is taking me anywhere except wherever he happens to be. Someone very recently – can't quite remember who now – called me a stubborn son of a bitch. Damned straight. I've got too much to live for. Too much living to do. Someone special to do all of it with.

Looks as if Jack has won the battle. He's chatting animatedly with Teal'c, occasionally turning back to aim comments at Sam and me. Once or twice he has even felt sure enough of himself to meet my eyes. Looks like the genie is stuffed and corked, thank god for that! I feel similarly – in control. We're going to be able to do this. The crisis has passed.

Hah! My mouth to the gods' ears. We reckon not with the Jackson penchant for untimely discovery. Christ, was I born an idiot or did I just become one through time and diligent application? If at first you don't succeed in screwing up, just ask Daniel. He'll get it right the very first time!

All I did was poke this big plant growing by the side of the path and suddenly I've got a chest full of green goo. Oh my goodness, look at this, my T-shirt seems to be disappearing. Ah… this is starting to… hurt – Whoa!

Well, don't just stand there STARING at it, doofus!

Jack rushes to help me. Together we get what's left of the shirt off me, and he splashes water from his canteen on my chest to take care of the rest of the green stuff. He's trembling as he runs his hands over my skin, checking to see if the stuff has burned me. I'm not hurt, but I'm sure not okay. Not anymore. One stupid little lapse of judgement and we are both undone. His hands upon me inflame me, re-igniting the spark of hot passion between us. I want him here - now, I don't care who knows, who sees. He's just as lost, his dark eyes wild as his mouth opens slightly, preparing to meet with mine…

His head snaps up, eyes widen in alarm, hands jerk away from me as he takes several stumbling steps backward. Bereft, my body screaming for his touch, I clench my fists, striving for control as he gulps and hurries away from me. No doubt trying to come to terms with his own control issues.

We've come to our senses. Dammit. Oh well, at least it wasn't as bad as it could have been. God only knows what would have happened if the damned stuff had eaten through my pants too…

I know we're both still burning when we stop to rest a little while later. I can feel his eyes on me, feel his hunger reach across the distance between us. I know he's watching me as I drink, wishing his hands were running over me instead of the water from my canteen. I can't look at him. Don't dare take the risk as much as I want to. If our eyes meet, there won't be anything or anyone able to stop me from going to him. Not him, not me. Probably not a good idea.

He has to be beating himself up five different ways from Sunday right now. Wish I could see the look on his face. See it, touch it, touch him. I must be crazy.

Yup, crazy about him. Strange place, strange time to feel this, but I don't believe I've ever loved him more than I do this very moment. Desire transforms me, empowers me, making me more alive, aware, exultantly sensuous - ablaze. I feel warm sunlight beating down upon me, heat dancing across my skin, fire burning within me I feel – happy…

I'm suddenly, blindingly happy. Happy to be alive, happy to be here. It's such a strange new feeling. Happiness. It bursts upon me with the force of divine revelation. This is what it feels like to be happy.

Why do I now suddenly feel as if something - terrible – has to happen?

God, I really hate it when I'm right.

No time for that now, have to get out from under this thing. Just as soon as I figure out how to breathe again…

Which is easier said than done considering I must have at least three hundred pounds of dead, black weight pressing me into the ground. Dead, hairless, gory, slick, slimy, rotund, smelly – like being flattened by a bleeding walrus. With five inch fangs and claws.

I can hear the sound of gunfire all around me. Along with ear-splitting shrieks, screams and growls. My chest is on fire, burning with the effort of trying to reclaim the air knocked out of me by this thing. Have to get past it, have to get up. We have to get out of here.

If I didn't have a good enough reason to try before, I just got a brand new better one. Jack's in danger. Don't know how, but I can 'see' the thing in the bushes directly in front of him, crouching low, preparing to pounce on him. I also can 'see' he doesn't see it. Don't worry about how or why, Daniel, just get moving!

Somehow I wriggle free of the crushing bulk on top of me, drawing my pistol as I heave myself desperately toward Jack. Everything seems to happen simultaneously; I'm slamming him to the ground, firing, it's leaping out at us, I fall on top of him, trying to shield him as it sails over us screaming. Still lying over Jack I turn, watching as it plummets to the ground beside the one that landed on me. It's okay. It's not moving, I got it.

Jack's pushing me back, scrambling to his feet, pulling me up with him.

"Good job!" he grunts as he squeezes my arm hard, just once. That's all we have time for now. We're far from out of the woods. Or the jungle, for that matter.

It took us a little over a half an hour to walk here. If Jack has anything to say about it it's not even going to take us half that time to hot foot it back. Don't think anyone here has any plans on arguing with him. While Sam and I cover our backs Teal'c uses his staff weapon to the blast the path ahead of us while Jack strafes the trees overhead.

For the moment, the way is clear. I know this as a straight statement of fact, and tell Jack bluntly I know. Which I do, but god help me - I don't know how. He looks at me piercingly for a small second, then amazingly, nods.

"You heard the man, let's book!" he yells. "Last one to the gate is probably going to get eaten."

We run like snot. It keeps happening. It's like I have this picture in my head of what is all around us telling me things we need to know. Where the beasts are, how many there are of them, how many more are racing in to join them off to the left and behind as well. There are more of them on the ground then there are in the trees. God, there has to be almost a hundred of them. No, 125, to be precise. Make that 124 – another one bites the dust.

I tell Jack about the new ones coming in from off to the left, he pitches a grenade in the direction I indicate and that stops them for the moment. Sam trips and falls, I break stride, grab her and haul her back on her feet, pushing her ahead. Jack yells, darts around Sam toward me and fires at something behind me as Sam takes out the one who is leaping at Teal'c's back while he is shooting the dark horror charging him from the front. We're in the clear again for a few feet more and continue to run like hell.

Both Jack and Sam are stumbling badly now, chests heaving with the effort of running and trying to breathe in this impossible heat and humidity. Teal'c and I aren't nearly as badly affected; we both move to cover our teammates who are.

Teal'c is supporting Sam by the time we break into the clear, the Stargate only a few hundred yards in front of us. I have Jack by the arm, steadying him as we turn and launch a withering barrage of fire and our remaining grenades into the jungle behind us. Sam and Teal'c are sprinting for the DHD, almost there. Jack and I fire into the jungle for a few more seconds, then turn and lope towards the gate as we hear the familiar, welcome whine and whoosh.

Almost there, Jack.

Jack's face is bright red and streaming with sweat, his breathing laboured and painful, he curses as he falters and falls to his knees. Draping his arm over my shoulder I hoist him up again; we're only halfway to the DHD when we hear them behind us. I grab his MP-5 and tell him I'll watch his back as he goes for it.

He's not happy about leaving me but he knows he isn't in any condition to do much else but run for the gate. I'm still okay – I can function. I'm the one who should stay and cover. He nods, slaps me on the back and doggedly pushes himself onward as I turn back the way we have come, keeping the weapon leveled and ready for them as I back up after him as swiftly as I can.

He reaches the DHD and stands there, pistol drawn, waiting for me. Sam and Teal'c are lingering at the event horizon, not wanting to leave without us. Teal'c is starting to look more than a little worse for the wear, Sam is nearly out on her feet with the heat and exertion. Jack waves at them to get themselves gone. Scowling, Teal'c nods at Jack and takes Sam through.

I feel Jack's hand clutching my shoulder as I start to fire into the howling, undulating black wave surging toward us. He's holding onto me, leaning against me, firing with me as we back toward the gate, up the stairs, toward the waiting event horizon. We can't believe how fast these things can move for their size; several of them have almost reached the DHD. I think it's time to go.

I don't know why, but in the split second just before we bail we need to look at each other – and do. A heartbeat, nothing more, then we leap.

As we spill out the other side and roll down the ramp I can hear Jack yelling for them to close the iris, hear it close, hear the dull metallic thuds of several large somethings striking the barrier. A wave of heat rips through me and suddenly I am covered in sweat, my limbs turn to water and I am panting and heaving as if I have just run ten hours non-stop through the Gobi Desert. I am thinking I feel like Jack looks. Well, if it finally had to catch up with me, I'm darned glad it waited till now.

There we are, the four of us, sprawled all over the ramp, a sweatier, smellier, sorrier looking sight as you have never seen. Manage to push myself up to a sitting position and then nearly fall back over again. Jack catches me, and props me back up. We end up sitting back to back, looking around, more than slightly stunned. I think Jack is the one who starts laughing first. You'd really have to see all of us to get the joke.

The spectators gather. The General and Janet and her ministering angels of mercy with other assorted SGC player extras. Some things never change, thank goodness.

"General," Jack says to the bald man with the stars on his collar looking down at us with the concern on his face, " that was just no fun at all. No way, no how. I've had fun before. That – that definitely wasn't it. I gotta tell you, there isn't a snowflake's chance in HELL we are going back there. Could somebody get me a glass of water? With some ice? Lots and lots of ice? While you're at it, get a round for my friends here. Geez! Daniel – ah GAWD - is that you? For crying out loud, what is that SMELL?"

They cart us off to the infirmary, check us out, hose us down, top us up a quart or two. Jack won't stay still. Not sure where he is getting the energy. Must be some sort of residual adrenaline high. He makes the rounds, talking to each of us, joking, making like we've just come back from a stroll in the park. He touches us a lot. Not out of character for him in the slightest, he is well known in these parts as a physically demonstrative man. Fortunate the precedent has already been established for it gives him the ability to be able to touch me as well, with everyone watching and all.

I feel what he is telling me as he cracks a joke, tousles my hair, pats me on the cheek, calls me 'Danny the Giant-Killer' – god, ANOTHER nickname - rubs my arm, thumps me on the back. It's an ironically intimate exchange in full public view, one we can totally get away with and one we both need. If only to reassure each other we're both well and truly here.

We're all still feeling a little weak in the knees, but otherwise don't seem to be any worse for the experience. Janet starts making noises about keeping us overnight but Jack turns on the charm and she relents, telling us to go home and rest. Nothing strenuous. Who – us? The debrief is tabled until the morning, we appear to be sprung, so we make tracks before somebody changes their mind.

Jack is very quiet on the drive home. Almost ominously so. I know he has to be pretty tired. Feeling a little shagged out myself. Still, I find myself wondering exactly what happened back there. How I was able to 'see' all that stuff. And wondering if Jack is wondering too. Maybe it's the reason he's so quiet.

"So aren't you going to ask me?" I say finally.

"Ask you what?" he replies in a tone that says 'whatever it is I really don't want to talk about it.'

Tough Jack, I do. "How I knew those things were coming at us?"

He shrugs. "Figured it was just one of those things. I've seen it before. Had it happen to me too. Danger and the survival instinct. Sometimes it beefs up the radar. Comes in handy. Came in handy. Nothing to get too bent out of shape about. Whatever works and gets us home in one piece I'm all for."

I leave it alone, studying his profile as he continues to drive. What he is saying makes a certain amount of sense, but I get the feeling he doesn't entirely believe the explanation he has forwarded. I don't know why he wouldn't, but there is a shadow of something else, a bare hint he has doubts. However, whatever they are, he isn't inclined to share. Maybe not now, but I can wait.

Even though I am expecting it he still manages to catch me by surprise. I've barely closed the door behind us when he is on me, hugging me fiercely for many long minutes. We remain locked in the embrace then without warning he releases me and sets himself to removing my jacket and shirt with deliberate swiftness, his brow furrowed with concern and concentration.

I'm confused by his intentions. Don't understand what he is doing. When he has me down to bare skin he starts to look closely at me, runs his hands over my chest, arms and back. There is nothing sexual about his touch. If I had to find a word to describe it, I would have to say – clinical. It's almost as if he is examining me, checking – he's checking me over! Making sure for himself I'm not hurt! I silently submit to the exam, allowing him to fulfill his need to verify for himself I am indeed unscathed.

I watch as his brow slowly unknits, his features somewhat soften. At last he seems to have settled it in his mind that no harm has come to me. He nods, pats me on the cheek without looking me in the eye, hands me back my shirt and jacket and says in a remote voice as he turns away from me, "Tired. Going to bed."

Well that's fine with me, really didn't feel like cooking anyway.

I'm barely thirty seconds behind him. Find him sitting on the side of the bed in the altogether, his head in his hands. Don't know how he does it. Jack can get naked faster than any human being on the planet. I swear he must be a closet nudist or something, or possesses some strange, mutant ability to repel clothing with a single thought; you blink – they're off. Clothing-Optional-Man. Mind you, he's no slouch at making me and my apparel part company either.

I walk over to my side of the bed and stand there for a moment, considering his back. "Don't feel like talking," he says through his hands.

"Who said anything about talking?" I reply as I begin to unzip my pants. They hit the floor; I hit the bed, and move across it toward him on my knees. He doesn't move, even when I am pressed up behind him, my hands on his shoulders. "What's the matter, Jack?" I say as I lean forward and kiss the side of his neck. "Can't interest you in any non-verbal communication either?"

"Depends on what you want to say," he sighs.

"Well, I thought I would start with this," I murmur as I run my hands down his chest, moving them slowly up and down and across in ever widening circles. He shivers and begins to slump back against me.

"I'm listening…."

"Good," I say just before kissing the mouth he is turning toward me. "It's going to be a lengthy conversation. I have so much more to say…"

I press myself up against him, letting him feel my own awakening as I swarm my hands over his chest. He leans farther back, allowing me to take more and more of his weight as my hands move down, slowly touching, stroking, teasing, coaxing……

He's completely limp against me now, giving himself over to me. Just like I planned. I lay him back on the bed and move around him, kissing him all over his stomach, chest, arms, neck, insistently claiming his mouth, tasting sorrow in his response. Not to worry, he's going to be singing a different tune before I'm done.

He heaves beneath me, moving up into my hand as I stroke his stomach, moving my hand downward, bound for secret places. The soldier is already standing to attention; I brush by it and he moans wanting more but – no, not yet. Get to you later.

I continue to massage his stomach with one hand while I take his balls in the other, fondling them gently before reaching behind them to softly stroke the sensitive skin between his legs.

"God! Now you're talking!" he gasps.

"Helps if you know what you want to say," I grin as I move the hand on his stomach over and wrap my fingers lightly around his erection. He grunts in appreciation, a sound which turns into something much lower and urgent as I tongue the sensitive tip. I tease him a moment longer, he starts to thrash about and swear. I'd say I've just about gotten my point across.

"Well Jack," I laugh, "What you say I run this up the flagpole and see who salutes." I lick him from base to tip and the swallow him whole from the other direction. He screams, explodes, and I'd say more than gets my message while I get his reaction. Yum.

I've created a monster. He's still shaking with the force of his climax as he reaches down, grabs me and hurls me into the mattress. He's pressing down on top of me, grinding into me, kissing me like a man gone insane. It's my turn to find myself at his mercy as he ruthlessly strips all reason from me with his unstoppable, demanding passion.

There are times when Jack can be the most gentle of lovers, touching and exploring with sweetly incongruent tenderness. This isn't one of those times.

Now he is a force of nature, an unstable vortex of seething, raging emotion, a tsunami that overwhelms me and breaks upon me as he does. He clutches me, kisses me, shakes me, shakes upon me, scalds me with hot tears, sears me with a white-hot river of molten words and broken phrases. I don't know what he's saying but it doesn't matter, what does matter is – it's coming out of him. What was gnawing at him, twisting in him, it's bursting forth, beyond his control. Out of his hands as he loses himself in the rough act of love. Losing himself, finding himself in finding me beneath him, ever with him.

I know the intensity of his passion will incinerate me in an instant and there's nothing I can do to save myself. I haven't got a prayer.

But as long as I'm with him, I don't need one…

Mutually slaked, sweaty and now quite exhausted we lie in each other's arms, almost too tired to breathe. He has me clasped to his chest; as I'm dropping off to sleep I feel the low rumble of his laughter tickling my cheek along with his chest hair.

"Sonofabitch, if you aren't really something," he says sleepily as he hugs me tighter. "All that time I spent worrying about you… shoulda been more worried about my own ass. You did all right. You did fine. We all did…"

He might have been saying more but I was never to know…

 


 

We're about to go through the gate again. One more time, like all the other times. Don't know what we will find on the other side, but whatever it is, we'll all face it together, the four of us, and somehow we'll find a way to all come home again.

Jack is pacing, waiting for me. Sam and Teal'c have already gone through but he can't. Not yet. There is something he has to do. He won't go through the gate until he does it. I tease him about it sometimes, but he says it's just something he has to do. To start out the mission right. It's worked so far, doesn't want to jinx things.

Besides, you never know what might happen, and some things shouldn't be left unsaid. Just in case.

I walk up to him. He touches me on the arm, looks me deeply in the eyes.

"You know, don't you?" he says in a low, serious voice.

"Yeah," I reply, equally seriously. "And you?"

"Yeah." He nods, satisfied. "We go?"

"We go," I echo as we start up the ramp together. And step through into - come what may.

Together.

FINIS

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copyright
PhoenixE, 20009.
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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 and no money exchanged hands. 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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