Jack took his cap off, slapped it against his thigh, wiped his brow, and decided he'd had enough sun and sand. "Daniel's out of time, Teal'c. Pack up while I retrieve our erstwhile scientists."
Teal'c nodded even though there was nothing to "pack up" since that had been done shortly after another breakfast of oatmeal. It seemed strange that since O'Neill had been returned to them and was now General O'Neill, they always had oatmeal on the few occasions when O'Neill joined them in the field. Teal'c understood the concept of "perks" but was hard pressed to explain why - and how - oatmeal could be defined in such a manner. He shrugged at his thoughts, walked over to the M.A.L.P. to ensure that all was secure, and decided that someone should educate O'Neill about what made a proper perk and what did not.
Jack walked inside the dark but blissfully cool cavern and paused. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The cavern smelled of earth and water and, for some reason he couldn't define, reminded him of a ride at Disneyland. What was the name of it? He scratched his chin ah, yes, Pirates of the Caribbean. Same smell minus the cordite. Strange place for such a cavern - in the middle of a desert. Stranger still to have writings and eerie drawings on the cavern walls, walls full of a mineral that had set Carter's heart a-flutter. Just like the old days.
Jack turned left and, a few moments later, Daniel and Carter, both working on the same wall, came into view. Carter had her "don't leave home without it" doo-dad in her hand and was measuring God knew what. Daniel was on his knees in front of the wall, bandana in place, glasses sliding, brush in hand, pencil in mouth.
Just like the old days.
Jack almost hated to put an end to the cozy picture. With a mental shrug, he walked up to Daniel and said, "Time's up which means now, and that means you, Daniel."
Without looking up, Daniel mumbled around the number two pencil, "I need thirdy more minutes."
"Tough tacos, Daniel. We're heading home."
Again, without looking up, Daniel shook his head, kept brushing, and said, "No, I need another thirdy."
Jack looked at his nails as he said, "You know, as I get older, I get mellow and funny. You just get bitchy."
The pencil dropped from Daniel's mouth as he glanced up, eyes wide with surprise. The corners of his mouth twitched upward as he said "Bitchy? Would that be an upgrade from flaky?"
Giving Daniel a strange look, Jack said, "You're also impossible to talk to." With that, he turned around, waved a hand in the air, said, "Thirty minutes," and walked out.
Daniel stared at the retreating back until Jack disappeared. He blinked a couple of times, and then looked up at Sam, who shrugged and said, "I think that was his way of saying that you threaten his command."
"I what? No way! No way could I-"
"Daniel, you used to give him the big, blue-eyed 'pretty please' look and bat your eyelashes at him in order to get him to let you stay, and he'd drop like a stone. Now you just say no."
Daniel was so shocked; he jumped up, tools and journal dropping from his lap to the ground. "I never--"
"Oh, yes you did. I think the General misses it."
He blinked at her a couple of times, his mouth moving, but no words flowing forth. Finally he clamped his lips together and looked in the direction Jack had gone. After a few moments, he said, "Maybe I should go-"
Barely hiding her grin, Sam said, "Maybe you should."
Daniel pulled the bandana from his head and used it to wipe the back of his neck before stuffing it into his back pocket. He wiped his hands on his pants, took a deep breath, glanced back at Sam, gave her a self-deprecating shrug and headed toward the exit.
Sam observed Daniel as he moved away, and marveled at the difference in her friend. His walk was easygoing now, with the grace of a man who was finally at ease in his own skin. So unlike the almost gangly stride of the insecure young scientist she'd met so long ago. However, there was more to the change than just his walk. His demeanor, especially since the General's return, had changed. But then maybe she was looking at everyone and everything through the eyes of a woman in love. Grinning at herself and her flights of fancy, she went back to work - and thoughts of Pete.
Daniel ducked his head as he passed out of the low, narrow corridor into the entrance chamber of the cavern. Jack was sitting on the ground, back against the wall, knees up. He was munching on a power bar. Jack didn't have any power bars. Daniel said the first thing that came to his mind. "Jack, you're eating one of my power bars!"
Jack looked up, chewed happily, and after swallowing, said, "Bitchy and selfish."
One elegant eyebrow arched before Daniel gave Jack his patented "I don't believe you" look. He sat down, his body position mirroring Jack's, his left side molded to Jack's right side. While Jack continued to eat, Daniel said nonchalantly, "Sam seems to think I'm undermining your command because I no longer bat my eyelashes at you."
Jack started choking.
Deeply satisfied at Jack's response, Daniel grinned as he started slapping Jack on the back a bit harder than strictly necessary. Just as Jack was getting himself back under control, Daniel added, "I knew she was crazy."
Jack shook his head, cleared his throat, and said, "No, she isn't. I do miss the way you used to almost vibrate with the need to 'stay five more minutes, Jack'.
There was a speechless pause on Daniel's part, a pause just long enough for Jack to add, "But she's wrong. You didn't bat your eyelashes." He made a little wiggly motion with his fingers. "They fluttered."
Daniel was pretty damn certain his eyelashes neither batted nor fluttered, but if they did, they sure as hell weren't the only parts of his body that, around Jack lately, tended to act independent of Daniel's wishes. And speaking of independent body parts, Daniel shifted uncomfortably in an effort to give a certain appendage more room to act "independently". He coughed into his hand, realized immediately that was the wrong thing to do for said independent body part, and finally offered up a very lame, "Ah."
In response to Daniel's brilliant comeback line, Jack looked at his watch, tapped the plastic cover and said, "You have fifteen of your thirty left. Best get to it, buddy."
Daniel stared at Jack through narrowed eyes and experienced a sensation akin to what one might feel if they suddenly found themselves on a precipice, safety in the form of what was known behind them, and the thrill of the unknown in front of them. At that precise moment, Jack shifted his body in much the same way Daniel had been forced to do earlier.
It was time to jump into the exciting unknown.
He rose easily and gracefully, spent a few moments slowly brushing off the back of his pants and then took a position directly in front of Jack. Legs slightly apart, he licked his lower lip, cocked his head, and said, "But Jaaaaack ."
"Now you have ten."
Jack wrapped his lips around the carob-coated power bar. Daniel held back his grin as he said, "Aw, come on, Jack. Give me another twenty." Daniel pursed his lips and fluttered his eyelashes.
All sucking motion on the food stopped. Bar still in his mouth, Jack's gaze moved up from Daniel's knees to his groin eventually to his mouth
and finally to a pair of wide blue eyes. Jack removed the bar slowly, allowing it to glide deliciously over his lips, before saying softly, "Better move it, you've only got thirty left."
Sam looked up as Daniel walked back into the small alcove. "So?"
Looking all the world like a cat with canary feathers peeking out from between his lips, Daniel said, "We've got another thirty."
She was about to ask more but there seemed to be a new gleam in Daniel's eye, a gleam that only enhanced his incredible looks. She did some quick calculations in her mind. Okay, she'd just turned forty and Daniel was three or was it four? years younger .
Damn, it just wasn't fair. Daniel was actually better looking now than he'd been seven years ago. God must really hate women. Or maybe it was the change in Daniel that she'd noted earlier. Maybe. Whatever it was, her friend, her "little brother" was one hell of a hunk nowadays.
She picked up a small chisel to get another sample and thought, "But I have Pete and nobody beats him for cuddly." Full of the glow of a woman in love, she went back to work.
The trek back to the 'Gate was oddly silent, yet companionable. Jack walked next to Daniel and every time Sam glanced back, they were sharing weird looks. Weird because they definitely looked well, kind of she couldn't say the words. Not in conjunction with General O'Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson. She could say that she and Pete shared "lovey-dovey" looks, but not the General and Daniel.
Sam smirked. Okay, the looks were definitely - hot. And promising. And yes, lovey-dovey. God, this felt - odd. It wasn't like she'd really meant anything earlier when she'd told Daniel about the batting eyelashes, really, she hadn't. The eyelash thing was kind of like Daniel's hands. He spoke with both. Waving hands, fluttering eyelashes. Danielspeak. And yet
No, she wasn't going to go there. Really, she wasn't.
On the other hand she had Pete, Teal'c had Ishta, so why shouldn't the General have Daniel? And vice versa? Her smirk grew. After all, hadn't General O'Neill - then Colonel O'Neill - been inside the Daniel Jackson?
Sam couldn't help herself, she started giggling.
"Carter, care to share?"
"Not really, sir. Private. Personal-"
"Pete?" Daniel offered a bit too helpfully.
Shooting him a deadly look, Sam then smiled sweetly and said, "Actually, I was thinking about batting eyelashes, Daniel."
"Whoa, Daniel, that's one for Carter," Jack said as he drew an imaginary "1" in the air.
Turning her back on them, Sam added happily, "Yep, thinking about batting eyelashes and the men who love 'em ."
Daniel drew an imaginary "2" in the air.
"So, any plans this evening, Daniel?" Jack asked oh so very innocently as he laced up his Nikes.
"Not really, Jack," Daniel said just as innocently while drying his hair.
"Maybe we should have dinner together? We need to talk about the way you
threaten my command."
"Well," Daniel said thoughtfully, "I could transfer to another team, since the only one you'll ever go out with now is SG-1. That would take care of my terrible predilection for command threatening."
Jack pretended to think that solution over before saying, "No, I don't think that's the answer. After all, no matter which team you're on, you'll be reporting to me, so there ya go. Command threat."
"Ah, good point." He paused thoughtfully before adding, "Actually, I'm pretty sure I don't threaten your command in briefings-"
"Daniel, I'm surprised I have any command after each and every briefing with you."
Daniel sat down on the bench next to Jack, the towel dangling from his fingers. "Gee, I can see your problem. You're right, a simple transfer wouldn't really help."
"No, it wouldn't."
"So I should quit altogether?"
Jack took the towel from Daniel's hand, rolled it up, then lobbed it high, watching as it dropped down into the laundry hamper. "Score one for the O'Neill Patriots!"
"Yep, I sure can see where it's me threatening your command, all right," Daniel commented dryly.
Jack grabbed the towel he'd been using and handed it over to Daniel. "I dare you."
Giving heaven a "Why me?" look, Daniel took the "ball", rolled it up tight and tossed it toward the hamper. It dropped in without touching the sides.
"Score one for the Jackson Diggers - although an air towel should be worth two points. In fact, as of now, they are." He punctuated his words with a firm "So there" nod.
Jack immediately got up, retrieved the towel, sat back down, rolled it back up and, with a very superior look, turned around on the bench and tossed the "ball" over his shoulder. It flew effortlessly through the air to land -- on the floor - two feet to the right of the laundry bin.
"Nice," Daniel said with an air of smugness.
"I dare you." Jack swung back around, knees high as he made a high pitched "Whee" sound.
Daniel looked with fondness at Jack before glancing over at the towel. At that moment, he smiled in such a way that Jack felt his breath catching. He was pretty certain that he'd never seen that smile before - ever.
"Jack, we could go on playing this new version of military b-ball, but I really think our time would be put to better use exploring the whole 'fluttering eyelash' phenomenon and how it," he wiggled a finger at Jack, "affects you, and thus how it could ultimately affect me."
The smile was there, only now it had made it to Daniel's eyes. They almost glowed, but not in any way that reminded Jack of a Goa'uld. No, this glow was definitely more inviting. Yeah, inviting. That was the word. Very inviting. And promising. There was promise in the depths of blue currently staring at him. Jack sighed happily. He rose easily, walked to his wardrobe and took down his jacket. As he slipped into it, he said, "Hello? Talk? You. Me. Fluttering eyelashes?"
The smile turned fun. "Right. Sorry. Don't know what I was thinking."
They walked out of the Mountain together, chatting amiably, shoulders occasionally touching, secretive glances shared. There was an easiness about them, a surety. They both knew exactly what they were doing, their eyes telegraphing words that didn't need to be said, but would probably be murmured in a dark bedroom later. They knew they were taking a step that would alter their lives and their friendship forever, but it was a step that seemed -- to both of them -- to be inevitable.
Change was in the air - and all of it good.
Jack unlocked his door and stepped in, allowing Daniel to follow and pass him. By silent mutual agreement, jackets were discarded and Daniel moved to the living room while Jack walked into the kitchen. Once there, he took down a couple of wine glasses, a good Muscato d'Asti, a couple of special cheeses and a small box of strawberries from the fridge, and finally, a couple of pears and some light buttery crackers from the pantry. He opened the wine and while it rested, he sliced up the pears and cheeses and arranged them with the strawberries and crackers on a cutting board. He put the glasses and the wine on the board and carried the whole thing into the living room. He wasn't surprised to find that Daniel had lit a fire. When the two of them were in sync, they were really in sync.
Smiling, he set the board down and took a seat next to Daniel, who looked relaxed and somewhat -- Jack hesitated to use the word "sexy" because he'd never consciously applied it to his friend before now - but damn, when a word fit, it fit.
Daniel looked sexy. Damn sexy. His skin glowed with the warmth of the fire, his legs were casually crossed and he had one arm resting on the back of the couch. His eyes watched every move Jack made, but instead of the usual wide-eyed look, his lids were low, giving him a hot, sultry and inviting appearance. Daniel also looked very much like a dangerous - but beautiful - predator.
And that felt very strange. Because he was obviously the prey.
Jack O'Neill was not used to being looked upon as the prey. He didn't know if he liked it or not.
"Looks good enough to eat, Jack," Daniel said, his voice low and on fire.
Jack decided he liked being the prey of Daniel Jackson. Liked it very much.
He leaned forward, poured the wine and handed a glass to Daniel. Their fingers brushed lightly as the younger man took the offering. After Jack poured his, they let their glasses clink softly as their eyes met over the rims. Sipping their drinks, they remained connected, eyes locked on each other.
Then Daniel batted his lashes.
Jack nearly spewed.
"Sorry, Jack, just had to do it, you know?"
Daniel leaned forward and placed his glass on the table, but instead of relaxing back, he invaded Jack's space. He placed his hand on the couch behind Jack's head and moved in.
Jack stopped him with a hand to the chest. "Are you actually making a move on me?"
With an arched eyebrow and a humorous smile, Daniel said, "It has been awhile for you, hasn't it?"
"Oh, and it hasn't been for you?"
"It's like a bicycle, Jack."
"Ah, so I should just sit back and enjoy the, um ride?"
"That would be my advice, yes." Daniel kissed him.
Jack kissed Daniel back. It was enjoyable beyond measure and he barely had time to reflect on the fact that his lovely repast was about to go to waste.
Repast? Could just kissing Daniel improve a man's vocabulary? Did he care?
Making love successfully was a great deal like a military maneuver to Jack's way of thinking. In his and Daniel's case, there were the logistics of stripping while keeping lips attached to skin and/or lips, as well as getting a coffee table moved, cushions from the couch to the floor along with the two afghans on the back of the couch spread out over the same floor. All that plus sharing sips of wine from the same glass and feeding bits of fruit and cheese to each other in front of the fireplace while fanning the flames of their ardor.
Jack was now positive that kissing Daniel improved his vocabulary. Swiping his tongue around the inside of Daniel's mouth had undoubtedly gifted him with the word "ardor". He just knew that he would have mentally said " while fucking their brains out" otherwise.
He wondered what other gifts kissing Daniel would eventually offer. Would he be an Einstein by tomorrow? Rival Carter for scientific mumbo-jumbo? Start calling Daniel's rocks - "Artifacts"?
Hell, in Daniel's arms and mouth, anything was possible.
Jack ran a finger down Daniel's back. Nothing happened. Daniel was dead to the world. Jack smiled. Daniel was on his stomach, head pillowed on his arms and delivering the kind of picture that Jack had been pretty certain he'd never be allowed to see. The glow from the firelight added new depths of color to Daniel's hair and Jack thought he could get lost in the strands. He slid his hand down to the small of Daniel's back before leaning over and placing a tender kiss in the small hollow.
"Mmm, nice," Daniel murmured without opening his eyes.
"Funny, that's just what I was thinking," Jack said between planting smaller kisses down Daniel's right ass cheek.
"I'm thinking," Daniel said as he lifted his head and looked over his shoulder, "that we're about to enter into round three?"
"Well, something's about to enter something, that's for sure."
Daniel chuckled at that and said, "It is your turn, I guess."
Jack put his tongue to work.
With a shiver working its way up his body, thanks to Jack's talented tongue, Daniel put his head back down, closed his eyes and gave out with a small moan of pleasure.
This was going to be good.
"Seven years, Jack."
Jack curled his pizza in on itself and took a huge bite. He chewed, swallowed, and nodded. "Yep, seven years."
They were both seated cross-legged in the middle of Jack's bed, naked, and eating recently-delivered pizza. The bottle of wine was empty and on the floor along with the remains of the fruit and cheese, all having been discarded in favor of the pizza and a couple of cans of beer.
"Seven years and it took you making general to get us to bed?"
"No, it took your understanding how much I needed your fluttering eyelashes, Daniel."
"So you're saying we have - Sam -- to thank for this?"
Jack stopped mid-bite. "Okay, that's positively scary."
"Yeah. It's one thing to keep saving the world, but to be responsible for us too? Doesn't seem fair."
"Way too much glory, if you ask me. And it's not like we haven't done our fair share of saving the world. Most recently, in fact. Why, if not for us-"
"You," Daniel corrected just before he took a bite of his piece of pizza.
"Us, Daniel. Us. If you hadn't been there to translate and figure out what the hell I was saying, we'd all be part of Anubis' world right now. Or dead."
Daniel burped, lifted his can of beer, and holding it up, said, "Here's to us. May we not have to save the world for at least-"
Jack lifted his beer, touched Daniel's with it, and said, "Two weeks."
"Gotcha. Two weeks."
They tapped cans again and smiled at each other.
After taking a swig, Daniel said, "You and Sam had me worried for quite awhile. I thought sure you and she were-"
"Don't go there, Daniel. There's a bunch of psychological crap going on with all of that and since we're here, now, together, and we plan on remaining together for all time ."
Jack paused and frowned. "You do plan on this being forever, right?"
Daniel eyed the last piece of pizza and said, "Yeah, sure. Well, at least until the right Goa'uld comes along and sweeps me off my feet."
Jack looked down at the same piece of pizza. "Or until I give you that, eh?"
Daniel batted his eyelashes. "Yeah, or until that."
Jack handed the pizza to Daniel.
"Gee, thanks." He took a big bite and said, around the food, "Foreber, Jack."
General Jack O'Neill, fluttering Daniel-lashes aficionado, smiled brilliantly.
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