Major Reynolds walked into the commissary, eyes straight ahead, back ramrod stiff. He headed for the line, picked up a tray, cutlery and a napkin. As he waited his turn, he let his gaze travel up the long counter of food. He was tall at six-five, and could easily see over everyone else in line.
What was it about Air Force food? Best in the military, he'd always believed, and Cheyenne Mountain was apparently no exception. He could smell the roasted chicken from his place at the far end of the counter. Garlic roasted chicken at that. He inhaled deeply and smiled dreamily. His favorite.
He'd been at Cheyenne Mountain for two weeks, on special assignment to the top-secret Stargate program. He would be leading SG-5 for an indeterminate amount of time, but had yet to actually go through the 'Gate, an experience he was looking forward to. He'd attended several meetings and specially organized training sessions, and had thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.
The only sour note to his current posting revolved around the number of civilians attached to the project.
Reynolds still couldn't believe that any civilians would be trusted with such an important secret. And scientists to boot. Shaking his head, he moved up until he was finally within reach of at least the salads.
He asked for the tossed green salad with honey-mustard dressing on the side, then placed the small bowl on his tray. A pale hand reached past him and snagged a tall cup of blue Jello and he heard a deep voice ask, "I do not understand Major Carter's fascination with Jello, DanielJackson."
"You have no trouble understanding Jack's love of the wiggly stuff, Teal'c."
Ah. Teal'c. Major Reynolds had been educated regarding the alien. He was curious, but he was also military through and through. He stared straight ahead. The hand that had taken the gelatin apparently belonged to one of the civilians, a man Reynolds had also been educated about. Doctor Daniel Jackson, archaeologist.
"O'Neill does not wish to eat jello, DanielJackson."
"You noticed that, did you?"
"Perhaps I should get him some orange jello?"
"I think you should, Teal'c."
Reynolds could hear the smile in the voice of the civilian. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a large dark hand pick up a cup of orange jello.
Major Reynolds knew about Colonel Jack O'Neill, too. Who didn't? Oddly enough, Reynolds hadn't yet met the legend. O'Neill had been scheduled to give one of the briefings Reynolds had attended, but there'd been some emergency "off-world", as members of the SGC were wont to say. He supposed Jackson was a bit of a legend too, but Reynolds didn't think getting the Stargate opened was that big of a deal now. He was pretty certain the Air Force would have figured it out eventually.
He was at the vegetables and chose a baked potato and a bowl of peas and carrots. As he moved slowly forward, the alien's voice came again.
"You should take a potato, DanielJackson. You have not been eating properly. You need carbohydrates."
"Since when did you take over Doc Frasier's job, Teal'c?"
"I am concerned. You are once again working too hard, and thus neglecting the necessities of life, such as food and sleep."
"Where do you guys come up with this stuff? I sleep, I eat. I'm going to be eating in just a few minutes."
"DanielJackson, so far you have taken three sliced tomatoes. That is not eating."
Reynolds mentally shook his head. Civilians. Burdens, untrustworthy, totally wrong for this project. He was at the entree section and immediately pointed at the chicken and watched as half a roasted bird was added to his plate, then covered.
He took a dinner roll, then headed to the register. He had not the slightest interest in what "DanielJackson" had for dinner, but he was curious about the alien. He took a coffee, black, then sat down at the nearest table. Two minutes later his curiosity was satisfied.
So that's Teal'c, he thought. Big son-of-a-gun. And fuck, the gold emblem he'd heard about was real. Shit, that must have hurt. There was another man in front of the large alien, and yet another behind. Both wore fatigues, and neither had any sign of rank. Civilians both, but which one was Doctor Jackson?
The one behind Teal'c was older, maybe mid to late forties and slightly stooped over. Reynolds couldn't see what he had on his tray, but if he were a betting man, he'd guess sliced tomatoes. That had to be the good doctor, because no way was the other man Daniel Jackson. He might be wearing glasses, but he was too young. Too -- too--
Reynolds tore his gaze from the younger man and started removing his dinner from the tray. As he started to rise, to put the tray where it belonged, the alien walked by his table, tray in hand.
Reynolds froze. The young bespectacled civilian was with the alien. He watched, stunned, as they joined a woman at the table next to his.
No way. No fucking way was that ... that -- man -- Daniel Jackson.
With an air of desperation, Reynolds craned his neck to see what was on the man's tray -- and found -- tomatoes. And fruit.
Whistling, Jack O'Neill walked into the commissary and almost immediately spotted his people. He walked over, pulled out a chair, and sat down. He looked at Teal'c's dinner and his mouth watered.
"Garlic roasted chicken," he said as he nearly drooled.
Teal'c, well aware of his friend's penchant for stealing food from his teammates, moved his plate East, and thus out of reach.
"You will pleased to know that your commissary has a great deal of chicken left, O'Neill," he said rather pointedly.
"Touche, Jack," Daniel said with a wink aimed at Teal'c.
Ignoring both men, Jack gazed over at Carter's tray and grimaced. "Shit, Carter, berry jello again? And what the heck is that other glop?"
"This glop, as you call it, is fisherman's stew. You should love it."
Carter scooped some up on her fork and started to hand it off to O'Neill, who shook his head rabidly.
"No way, Carter. That looks like something a fish would throw-up."
"Thank you so much for that image, Jack," Daniel complained. "We are eating here, you know?"
Jack's scarred eyebrow rose as his gaze took in Daniel's tray. "You call," he pointed at the tomatoes, "that eating? Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. What are we going to do with you?"
Daniel smiled and suggested sweetly, "Leave me alone?"
Jack pushed back his chair and stood. "Daniel, I'm going over and getting you a plate of food. Real food. And you'll eat it."
Daniel made a chatter motion with his hand, then took a sip of his coffee.
Jack shook his head hopelessly, but headed for the food. As he did, he noticed the lone officer at the next table and recognized him as the new head of SG-5.
"Major Reynolds, isn't it?" he said as he stopped at the table.
"Yes, Sir," Reynolds answered as he rose and saluted.
Jack waved off the salute, then said, "Welcome to the SGC. You're heading up a good team, Major. Sorry I missed your briefing the other day, but I'm sure you'll do fine."
"Thank you, Sir."
"Look, would you like to join SG-1 for dinner?"
"I wouldn't want to intrude, Sir."
"Don't be silly. Come on, let me introduce you." With that, Jack grabbed a tray that had been left on a neighboring table and in seconds, had Reynolds' food stacked and was carrying it to his table. Reynolds had no choice but to follow.
"Guys, meet Major Reynolds, SG-5's new leader." As he set the tray down, he said, "Major, this is Teal'c, from Chulak, and this is Major Samantha Carter. Over there and not eating enough, is our archaeologist, Doctor Daniel Jackson."
Daniel rolled his eyes and was about to welcome the man when Reynolds nodded at Carter. He put out his hand and said, "It is an honor to meet you, Major Carter. You're the reason I'm here."
Shaking hands with the man, Sam looked surprised and asked, "I am? How is that, Major Reynolds?"
Before he could answer, Jack said, "You guys make him feel at home while I go get Jackson here some grub."
With that, Jack was gone. Sam looked up at Reynolds, her body language asking the question again.
"Well, you are responsible for the success of the 'Gate. Without your knowledge and skill, there'd be no SGC."
Sam was clearly surprised by the compliment, and just as clearly uncomfortable.
"Well, to be precise, none of us would be here if not for Daniel," Sam finally managed to say, indicating her friend.
"I hardly think so, Major. Eventually, the 'Gate would have been opened. In either case, using it successfully is your doing," Reynolds said without acknowledging Daniel.
Teal'c's gaze went from Major Carter, to Reynolds, then to Daniel. He did not believe that Major Reynolds was starting out on the best foot.
Sam sat down suddenly and the others did the same. For a few painful moments it was quiet at the table as they started to eat. Sam snuck a look at Daniel and found his lips twitching as he tried to bite back a grin. She had the unreasonable desire to punch him out.
Damn it, he was supposed to be as upset with Reynolds as she was. Instead, he was sitting there trying not to laugh. The prick. Well, payback was a bitch. And so was she, on occasion.
By the time Jack returned, a tray laden down with both his dinner and more food for Daniel, the uneasy mood at the table had escalated. Frowning at the silence, Jack nevertheless set his plates down, then pushed one full of chicken and mashed potatoes over to Daniel.
"Eat. And don't argue."
Aghast at the amount of food in front of him, Daniel said, "Are you kidding? There's enough here for ten people, Jack!"
"Eat, and that's an order."
Daniel frowned as he eyed the potatoes, which seemed to be winking at him. He picked up his fork and stabbed at them.
"Daniel, stop playing with it and eat it."
Jack turned to Reynolds and shrugged. "What can you do with 'em?" he asked. "These scientists would never eat if it were left up to them."
Reynolds smiled tightly, then gathered his plates and began stacking them on the tray Jack had brought. When he was done, he stood.
"Thank you for asking me to join you, Colonel, but I'm not as hungry as I thought I was. Besides, I still have a great deal of work to do, so I'm going to head over to my office."
Jack nodded, his expression suddenly wary.
"Teal'c, it was good to meet you, and Major Carter, I look forward to seeing you again." Reynolds saluted Jack, then realizing that Jack wasn't going to return it, he picked up his tray and with a nod, moved off.
"Daniel, what did you do to him?" Jack asked.
"Me? Nothing. Maybe he just doesn't like archaeologists."
"No one likes archaeologists, Daniel. But we live with them. Some are even kind of cute and they grow on you."
"Jack, everyone loves archaeologists. We're smart, mysterious, and live lives full of adventure, not to mention mummies. What's not to love?"
Sam spit out her stew. Teal'c's eyebrow arched.
Jack, not to be bettered by his archaeologist, said, "Well, Reynolds didn't like you."
"Major Reynolds feels that Major Carter is the greatest thing since chopped bread," Teal'c offered helpfully.
"Sliced. Sliced bread, Teal'c," Jack corrected automatically. "And he does?" he added.
"Yes. He thanked her for her contributions to the Stargate," Daniel said with a mischievous grin aimed at Sam.
"Oh, shut up, Daniel. I tried to explain that you--"
"Sam," Daniel said reasonably, "He was right. All I did was open it. And he was also right that eventually you or Catherine would have succeeded. He said nothing that wasn't true."
"Daniel, I spent two years on the project. Two years. With me were the greatest minds around, and yet, nada. We couldn't open it. You show up and in what, seven days you figure it out? Okay, I grant Reynolds one thing; eventually somebody else might have done it, but by then, it might have been far too late to save Earth."
Daniel had been fiddling with his food, moving it around on his plate, but at Sam's words, he looked up, shocked. It was clear that while he didn't agree, he was surprised by her words.
Jack, in an attempt to lighten a mood that had gone oddly dark, quipped, "Carter, are you saying that Daniel isn't one of the greatest minds around?"
Tearing her eyes from Daniel's face, Sam turned to her commanding officer and frowning, said, "What?"
"You said that you and the greatest minds around spent two years--"
"Jack," Daniel said quietly, "Leave it alone."
Sam blushed beet red, then said, "Daniel, you know I didn't mean--"
"Sam, just kick Jack, okay? Under the table though."
With that, Daniel stood up, piled his plates on another tray and said, "I have some work to do for SG-10, guys. Been fun, but I'm off. And don't worry, Jack. I'm taking some of this with me. I'll eat."
Before any of them could move, Daniel was striding toward the trash area, then he was gone.
The three remaining members of SG-1 stared at each other. Then Sam cleared her throat and said, "He knows I didn't mean -- doesn't he?"
Jack rose without answering, then waved at one of the staff who hustled over. Jack handed him his plate. "Could you box this up, Airman?"
"Of course, Sir."
When he returned a few moments later and handed Jack the bag, Jack said, "I think I'll finish this up in Daniel's office. Maybe tempt him to eat. And Carter? Don't worry. He knew what you meant."
Teal'c and Sam watched Jack walk away, then Sam said thoughtfully, "He took Reynolds' behavior well."
"I wonder," Teal'c said.
"I'm sorry, Major Reynolds, but there's nothing that can be done. Captain Allot has a broken arm, three broken ribs, and a concussion. We're going to have to assign another expert Egyptologist to your team for the mission tomorrow."
Major Reynolds stood in General Hammond's office listening to the news that a member of his team had been involved in a stupid automobile accident.
"But Captain Allot is the best, that's why the mission was given to SG-5, General. Who could possibly replace him? As I understand it, this mission is vital to securing the treaty with the Mastabans, which is why I was sent here to begin with, Sir."
Hammond looked at his newest SGC member and nodded. "That's true, Major. Your diplomatic abilities are well known. But Captain Allot is only one of the best Egyptologists out there. The best, Doctor Jackson, is the reason we were able to open these negotiations at all.
"Which is why I'm going to temporarily assign him to SG-5. You'll need him for the first few days, but after that, I suspect you and the rest of your team, along with SG-2, will be able to complete the treaty for mining of Trinium."
Reynolds frowned. Doctor Jackson? On his team? No way. Impossible.
"Surely there is someone else, Sir?"
"Not for this particular mission. Allot was Jackson's suggestion to begin with. Now that he's out of the game, it must be Doctor Jackson. Since SG-1 isn't scheduled for another mission for well over a week, this should work."
Hammond rose, signaling the end of their meeting. "I'm not happy about this, Major. Doctor Jackson has been very busy lately, and SG-1 has just come off of a couple of very dangerous and taxing missions. But the treaty with the Mastabans is critical."
Reynolds knew he'd lost. "Understood, Sir." He saluted and when it was returned, he pivoted smartly and exited the General's office.
A Goddamn civilian, and to make matters worse -- the civilian was Doctor Jackson. God was obviously not happy with him.
Jack was just turning down the corridor leading to Daniel's office when his pager went off. He reached into his pocket, read the lighted window, then sighed and turned around. Daniel's dinner would have to wait.
Jack was flabbergasted. Stunned. Shocked. He kept his mouth shut for two reasons; he didn't want to stutter in front of the General, nor did he want to vent his anger at the General.
This was not good. Quick thinking was required, plus a little truth. Okay, a lot of truth.
"I have no doubt that Daniel will love the opportunity to revisit the Mastabans, but I foresee a couple of problems, Sir."
Hammond did an excellent imitation of Teal'c. One eyebrow arched beautifully. Jack gave him a sick grin.
"See, Sir, the fact is -- Reynolds has a -- problem with -- Daniel. And if that weren't enough, well, Daniel is exhausted. You know that. He's not eating again and I suspect he's only getting a few hours sleep a night."
"Doctor Frasier has been keeping me abreast of his condition since P2Y-791, so perhaps you'd like to explain why you believe Reynolds has a problem with my archaeologist?"
Jack hid his grin. When Hammond called Daniel his archaeologist, it was an excellent sign.
"We met Major Reynolds just a short time ago in the commissary. He ignored Daniel altogether, and in fact, made light of his -- uh, contributions, to the SGC. I'm surprised I didn't have to restrain Teal'c or Carter, Sir."
Hammond sighed the sigh of a man caught between a rock and a hard place. "Jack, you know how important this treaty is. I trusted Allot with it because of Doctor Jackson's recommendation. The only other person any of us can trust is Doctor Jackson himself. I know he's exhausted, as are all of you. But what choice do I have? If you've got another idea, I'm all ears."
"It's not a hard mission, Sir. Why not let SG-1 go back with SG-5? I don't think Ferretti would mind."
Hammond thought about that choice, and realized that it just might be the answer. SG-1 would take care of Daniel Jackson, and their archaeologist wouldn't be under Reynolds' command, if the man did indeed have a problem with Daniel.
"All right, Jack, you've convinced me. Go tell your team and I'll give Reynolds the good news."
Smiling, and feeling ten years younger, Jack said, "Yes, Sir!"
Okay, now Jack had to give the -- good -- news to Daniel -- and the rest of his team. He suspected Teal'c wouldn't care, and of course Carter would be ecstatic. And Daniel? He'd enjoyed the Mastabans and their world, no doubt of that. But hammering out a treaty with Reynolds? A man who'd refused to even acknowledge his presence?
Jack paused and realized that he was standing in front of Daniel's door. Okay, here goes nothing. He walked in.
"Hey, Daniel, look what I brought."
The man in question looked up and immediately frowned at the intrusion, even as he said, "Um, looks like you brought a -- paper bag. Oh, goody."
"Dinner," Jack said as he waved the bag under Daniel's nose. "Your dinner."
Daniel wrinkled his nose, then looking over the rim of his glasses at Jack, he said, "What's with you and me eating? I ate, I'm fine, I'm not hungry, leave me alone."
"Touchy, touchy, touchy. And SG-1 is joining SG-5 tomorrow."
Okay, not the most subtle method of telling Daniel. Jack tried to look nonchalant.
"Excuse me? What happened to SG-2?"
"Nothing. We're going instead, that's all."
Daniel grabbed the bag of food from Jack's hand, opened it, took out the boxed dinner, and dug in. With a mouthful of mashed potatoes, he mumbled, "Reymolds wilm be thrillmed."
The treaty was a done deal, but as SG-1 and SG-5 marched back to the 'Gate, Jack mused on how it had almost not been a done deal. Reynolds had turned out to be a very good diplomat, with only one teensy- weensy little problem: Daniel. The Mastabans, observant people that they were, noticed this little, teensy-weensy problem. It shook their faith in both Daniel and the SGC. After all, if Reynolds could ignore Daniel, could refuse to speak directly to him, could in fact, interrupt him when he was speaking to the Mastabans, then why should the Mastabans believe anything Daniel said? And if Daniel couldn't be believed, then what was wrong with the whole picture?
No one could find fault with their concerns. Oddly enough, it had been Colonel Jack "Shoot first, ask questions later" O'Neill that had saved the day. As he walked steadily toward the 'Gate, Jack smiled. He was pretty certain his smile was smug.
Who says Jack O'Neill can't be a clever diplomat? And screw 'em if they do say it. Hadn't he just proven that he was fucking brilliant? Oh, yeah.
A word of warning from Sam was all that it had taken for Jack to stride into the great hall of the Mastabans', take Reynolds aside, politely blast his hide, then step up to Hepset, the Mastabans' version of a Pharoah, and calmly announce that he would be stepping in for the "ill Major Reynolds, thank you very much."
Hepset had been less than thrilled for exactly three minutes. That was how long it took for the silver-haired fox (he who had replaced the silver-tongued devil) and the oh-so-charming linguist and Egyptologist to show their stuff. Reynolds was barely a memory by the end of the day, and the treaty was finished by day three instead of the week originally planned.
Oh, yeah, Jack was good. His smug smile grew. Then dimmed and faded as he spotted his oh, so charming linguist and Egyptologist several yards ahead of the entire group. Even at that, Jack could see the bowed head and slumped shoulders.
Uh-oh. Damn. Jack had been so busy congratulating himself, he'd failed to notice Daniel and his current mood. There was no point in hurrying to catch up now, Daniel was almost at the 'Gate. Jack was very glad they'd eschewed the Mastaban offer to accompany them to the Stargate.
By the time they'd caught up with Daniel, the younger man was already punching in the codes for home. The wormhole blew itself outward with its usual beauty, and moments later, SG-1 and 5 were walking down the ramp to greet General Hammond.
Daniel's mood would have to wait.
"...mining can begin as soon as we have the crew together, Sir. The Mastabans are eager for our medicines, especially our inoculations for measles, mumps and chicken Pox. Evidently they lose many children each year to those diseases."
"Good job, Colonel. Captain Evans and his techs are ready to go and Doctor Frasier has her crew already handpicked. Doctor Warren has volunteered for his first off-world mission."
Hammond sat back and looked at his two teams. The majority of SG-5 appeared very satisfied, as did the majority of SG-1. However, Reynolds had said nothing during the debriefing, and neither had Doctor Jackson. The General wondered if he really wanted to see their reports, or Jack's. And yet, everything had gone well, as witnessed by the treaty itself.
He made a point with himself to take Jack aside at the conclusion of the debriefing in order to find out what really happened. He pushed back his chair, rose, and addressed the group.
"Good work all of you. This treaty was very important, as you all know. Colonel O'Neill, you and your team are past due for some serious downtime. Consider yourselves on vacation for the next fourteen days. Major Reynolds, you're scheduled for a meeting with myself and Major Davis tomorrow morning at 0800 hours. Again, good job and dismissed."
As both teams stood and made ready to leave, Hammond motioned to Jack to remain behind. The others filed out. When the door closed behind Teal'c, Hammond said, "Care to tell me why Major Reynolds didn't give the report?"
Sam, Teal'c and Daniel stepped aside, allowing the jubilant SG-5 to head for the showers. Reynolds pushed past them, his shoulder bumping Daniel's. He never gave Daniel a glance.
Sam gave a loud, exaggerated sigh, then said, "That man needs a serious attitude adjustment, plain and simple."
"Why, because he doesn't like me?" Daniel inquired tonelessly.
"Well, as a matter of fact, yes."
"Sam, don't be shocked by what I'm about to say, but, a lot of people don't like me. It's called life."
"Daniel, anyone who knows you, likes you. That man has yet to even speak to you. It's unreasonable."
"Major Carter is correct, DanielJackson. And I too believe that everyone likes you. You are -- likable."
For the first time in days, Daniel grinned. "Teal'c, you're hopeless. You know as well as I do, that I'm a pest who talks too much. And as a point of your education, geeks are not generally well-liked, except, of course, by other geeks."
Teal'c tilted his head and with a very serious expression on his face, said, "I like geeks."
Daniel blinked, then burst into laughter, followed by Sam. Teal'c waited until they were done, then asked, "Shall we head for the showers?"
Shaking his head, Daniel said, "I'll catch up with you guys. I need to drop this pack off in my office."
"All right, Daniel. Maybe later, we can all go out to dinner? The Colonel said something about really wanting a good steak when we got back and I'm in full agreement."
"Sounds good to me, Sam. Unless I hear different, meet you at the elevators around seven?"
Sam nodded and she and Teal'c moved away. Daniel watched them, then headed in the opposite direction, toward his office.
Once inside the haven that was his home away from home (although he tended to think the opposite), he locked the door, dumped his pack, then sat down. He rubbed at his eyes from under his glasses, then gave up and took them off altogether. God, what a fiasco. Thank God for Jack. Daniel sat back and closed his eyes.
It wasn't as though he were a stranger to disinterest, and yes, dislike. After being put into several foster homes with parents who took the kids for the money, then dealing with other siblings who hated the intruders because they took what little those parents had left, no, he was no stranger to being disliked.
Hell, his first months with the SGC had been filled with resentful soldiers who saw no reason for civilians among their ranks. And did he really have to mention his very first encounter with one Colonel Jack O'Neill? Not to mention Jack's team, like Kowalski and Ferretti?
Daniel could remember General Hammond's reaction to him when they'd come back from Abydos. Not nice. The barest flick of a glance, followed by, "I'll decide what to do with you later, Doctor Jackson." The following days hadn't improved his mood or his opinion of Daniel.
No, Daniel was all too familiar with being the object of someone's dislike. But this, this thing with Reynolds was different. It wasn't just dislike, or even disregard it bordered on -- hatred.
God, Daniel had tried so hard with the Mastabans and Reynolds, but at every turn, every suggestion, he'd been met with cold, unfeeling disdain. Reynolds simply ran right over him. Slowly, any respect he'd garnered from the Mastabans eroded. Until Jack stepped in.
Talk about surprised. Jack had been -- awesome. Words of wisdom, thought and intelligence had flowed from the man like honey. He'd been careful to include Daniel, to help the Mastabans see his worth, and the treaty had become a done deal. Of course, Daniel hadn't been surprised by Jack's intelligence or diplomacy, he'd always known of thier existence, and how hard Jack tried to keep those skills under wraps. But to see it so eloquently put to use? Oh, yeah, awesome.
Daniel opened his eyes and glanced at his watch. By now, the others should have left the showers. He could enjoy without worrying about looks from SG-5 or pity glances from his own teammates. He got up and headed out.
Fuming, Reynolds stood under the shower, eyes closed. When O'Neill gave Hammond the full report, his days with the SGC would be numbered. All because of Jackson. He reached for the soap and started to suds up, his hands moving over his body quickly and efficiently. He didn't hear the outside door open, or the sound of a locker being opened. As his hands traveled, his mind conjured up the vision of another, warm and wet, slick with soap, his hands washing every inch of the beautiful body, and feeling the strength of the muscles beneath his fingers.
Pale skin glistened and welcomed him as his palms slid over the suds. He could feel himself grow hard with the vision and he tilted his head back and with eyes still closed, let his hands run up the imaginary body, to the chest, then the shoulders, and finally the strong jaw. He ran a finger over the inviting lips and they opened, sucking the digit into the warm, wet heat of that mouth.
Reynolds groaned and began to fist his erection, the soap speeding up his movements. In his mind, his eyes opened, as did those of the imaginary man opposite. Startling, passion-filled blue orbs gazed back at him and Reynolds groaned louder. As he came, his mind screamed, "DANIEL!"
Daniel could hear the showers running on the left, so he chose the showers on his right. He made fast work of it and less than ten minutes later, was out, towel wrapped around his waist, another towel around his neck. He used one end of it to rub at his hair as he walked over to his locker. Since they were going out to dinner, he opted for his civvies. He'd already decided not to come back, but to go straight home after their meal. He quickly slipped on his boxers, then his jeans. He zipped them partially, then sat down and reached into the wardrobe for his socks. As he pulled them out, he heard a locker close on the other side, then footsteps drawing closer. He glanced up and winced. It was Reynolds.
The man was dressed in his uniform, hair still slightly damp. As Daniel looked up, Reynolds glanced sideways -- their eyes met.
"Major Reynolds," Daniel said uncertainly.
Reynolds eyes narrowed as he stopped in front of Daniel's bench.
One expressive eyebrow rose. "Well, that's progress," Daniel said quietly. "You're actually speaking to me."
"I suppose you're pretty proud of yourself, Jackson? The Mastabans are thrilled with you now, right?"
Daniel stood up, suddenly not liking the advantage Reynolds had over him. "I'm not sure how they feel about me, but they love Colonel O'Neill."
"You should have just shut up and let me do what I was brought here to do."
Daniel frowned. The words were typical, but the way Reynolds was standing, the way his eyes glittered, Daniel was becoming uncomfortable. His instincts were telling him to back up, to move away, but that would be giving in, and that wasn't going to happen.
"If I'd shut up, then I wouldn't have been doing what I was brought here to do. We both had jobs to perform, you chose to ignore that fact and Jack had to step in and take over."
The eyes staring back at him were starting to unnerve him, but Daniel forged ahead. "I don't know what your problem is with me, but you're a professional and you should have sucked it up and worked with me."
"Sucked it up, Jackson? Very clever use of words from a linguist who speaks what, twenty-some languages?"
Daniel shrugged bare shoulders and said, "Guess I've been around the military mind too long."
He knew the minute the words were out of his mouth, they were wrong. Reynolds took three steps toward him and before Daniel could react, two large hands reached out and grabbed his shoulders. The power behind Reynolds' six foot, five inch frame, combined with the strength that came with two hundred plus pounds, pushed Daniel back until he slammed into the far wall. His head hit with a resounding "whack" and for a moment, he literally saw stars. Then a voice hissing into his ear forced him to blink and try to focus.
"You have no fucking right to be here. None. You waltz around with that tight ass of yours, like you own the place, everyone treating you like some sort of God and you're nothing, you hear me? NOTHING."
Daniel was pinned and pinned hard. Reynolds was using his considerable weight and bulk to imprison Daniel and he was beginning to get concerned. He couldn't move, couldn't fight. He could barely breathe. But he could talk, or at least get out a breathy threat.
"Step back, and do it now." Oddly, his voice sounded almost normal -- threatening, but normal.
"Or what, Mr. Civilian 'I'm so good' Jackson? What will you do, huh? You think you can take me on? You think you'll win?"
"I'll take you on, and I'll lose. You're bigger, stronger, better trained. But you will go down, I promise you that. One way or the other, you will go down."
The sneer on Reynolds' face forced Daniel to the realization that one's blood really could run cold. This was not good. Not good at all.
Reynolds leaned in and ground his lower body into Daniel's. Daniel's eyes widened at the onslaught and he hissed in disgust. He struggled to free his right arm which was trapped between their bodies. He succeeded. He brought it up, planning he knew not what, but Reynolds blocked the movement and captured Daniel's hand, large fingers wrapping around Daniel's wrist. The grip was punishing and when Reynolds' thumb pressed in with expertise, tears of pain came to Daniel's eyes.
"Have you ever had anyone snap your wrist, Daniel? Crush the bone? Have you?"
Through gritted teeth, Daniel said, "Back off you son of a bitch."
Reynolds' eyes went blank as they seemed to focus on Daniel's mouth. As the man's fingers continued to press, Reynolds lowered his head and Daniel had the ridiculous idea that the man was about to -- kiss -- him. No, kiss was the wrong word. Kiss implied give and take, consent. This would be--
The mouth descended, bruisingly, grindingly. And just as suddenly -- was gone.
The mouth, the body, those eyes -- all gone. Daniel, without Reynolds holding him fast to the wall, holding him up, slid down and down and down. His butt hit the floor as he tried to blink back his surprise -- and the pain.
Noise, lots of noise. Like -- banging, thumping. Daniel glanced up and squinted.
Teal'c was most definitely winning. Well, duh, Daniel thought dazedly.
"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?"
Daniel closed his eyes. He really could have done without Jack showing up. Really. He was not going to live this down. Fodder for the troops for weeks. Months. Maybe he could just crawl out of sight, stand up and head to his office?
Nope. Couldn't move. Damn it all to hell. He was probably going to get kicked out of the SGC for this one.
Teal'c was dressed and ready for their dinner out. He enjoyed the times away from the mountain, in the company of his teammates. He stopped by DanielJackson's office and found it locked. He decided to check the showers. The younger man had never shown earlier, perhaps he was there now.
As Teal'c entered, he heard a strange sound, then words that spurred him to action.
"Have you ever had anyone snap your wrist, Daniel? Crushing the bone? Have you?"
"Back off you son of a bitch."
Teal'c rounded the corner, pushed his way past an open locker, then around another corner. What he saw sent him over the edge. Major Reynolds was -- was --
Teal'c attacked. One beefy hand landed on Reynolds' shoulder and with the ease of one plucking a stray thread from one's jacket, he pulled Reynolds away from Daniel. But Reynolds didn't go far. He turned in a red-faced rage and threw his body at Teal'c. Teal'c stepped back, but Reynolds was quick. He spun around and managed to land a blow to Teal'c's jaw. Teal'c reacted in kind and within seconds, the two men were locked in battle.
It was a battle that Reynolds would have lost and lost badly, but before it could get that far, Jack ran in.
"Okay, so we have you, and we have -- oh, look, me. Who do we seem to be missing, Carter?"
"That would be Teal'c and Daniel, Sir."
"Now that shows why you're Doctor Major Carter, Carter. Do we know where our missing teammates might be?"
They were in front of the elevators, both dressed in civvies.
"Well, Daniel never showed at the showers, not while Teal'c was there, and later, not while I was there. It's possible Teal'c thought to search for him there?"
"Good thinking. Okay, you stay here, I'll go looking. If they come, stay put. This is a very dangerous mission we're undertaking, I don't want to lose anyone else."
Sam rolled her eyes as Jack headed down the corridor toward the showers.
Normally when approaching the locker rooms and showers, one would hear things like water running, maybe laughter, and lockers closing. Jack heard none of that as he walked up to the door and stepped inside. What he heard, was the sound of at least an army of Goa'uld attacking Earth. Why the hell they chose to attack via the showers, he had no idea, but damn, he was going to ask.
The sight that greeted him was infinitely worse than a horde of attacking Goa'uld. Daniel was slumped on the ground, blood smeared on the wall behind him. He was holding his left wrist and even from Jack's vantage point, he could see that it was broken. If that weren't enough, and for Jack, it most certainly was, Teal'c seemed to be waging a battle with Major Reynolds. Reynolds was losing.
The anger started slowly as the sights in front of him began to register. He knew that Reynolds was responsible for Daniel's condition. He also knew that Teal'c was in danger. Not from Reynolds per se, but from American justice, if Teal'c continued. Jack did the only thing he could. He yelled.
"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?"
The minute Jack's voice filled the room, Teal'c held back his latest punch. He let go of Reynolds' uniform and the man slumped to the ground. Slowly Teal'c turned, dropped his hands to his side, then gazed steadfastly back at Jack.
"I do not know what you mean, O'Neill."
Jack moved in to kneel next to Daniel. He gently pulled the younger man forward and checked the back of his head. Sure enough, blood already drying in the dark hair. He looked at Daniel's eyes, found them slightly unfocused. Probable concussion. Anger barely controlled, Jack ordered, "Teal'c, call the infirmary. Get someone down here now."
Even as Teal'c moved to the phone on the far wall, Reynolds was picking himself up off the floor and wiping at his bloody mouth. Jack ignored the man, choosing instead to focus his attention on his friend.
"Daniel, can you tell me what happened?"
Daniel knew that Jack was squatting in front of him, talking to him, asking him questions, but he wasn't ready to answer. His head hurt like a son-of-a-gun and his wrist was throbbing. On the other hand, the urge to respond with, "Nothing" had to be squashed because to say it would be hurting Teal'c, who, for all intents and purposes, had attacked a Major in the United States Air Force. He was saved by the simple act of passing out.
"You were right, Colonel. Daniel has a slight concussion. No stitches were necessary. His wrist is broken and a tech is casting it now."
"I guess a steak dinner is out of the question, huh?"
Doctor Frasier nodded. "I'm afraid so, Colonel. We'll keep him overnight, but he can go home in the morning."
"He'll be thrilled with that news. You know how he just loves spending time with you and your nurses."
Before Janet could respond in kind, General Hammond walked in.
"Colonel O'Neill, would you mind telling me what happened?"
Jack closed his eyes briefly, then turned to face the General. "Sir, I haven't had a chance to -- exactly -- question anyone yet. I believe that Major Reynolds is having--"
"Major Reynolds has numerous contusions and abrasions and a black eye. At the moment, one of my nurses is stitching up his lip. He's fine otherwise. Teal'c has a slightly bruised jaw," Janet finished for Jack.
"And Doctor Jackson?"
Janet flicked a glance at Jack, then said, "A mild concussion and a broken -- wrist. He's also bruised on his back, shoulders and -- inner thighs."
Hammond's eyes narrowed. "I'm going to assume that Major Reynolds and Teal'c did not receive their injuries as a result of being attacked by Doctor Jackson? Would I be correct, Colonel?"
"Yes, Sir, you would be correct. When I arrived on the scene, Daniel was already down and Teal'c and Major Reynolds were involved in -- an altercation."
Hammond turned to Janet, his neck starting to flush red. "Doctor Frasier, is Doctor Jackson awake? Coherent?"
"Yes, Sir. Teal'c is sitting with him now."
Well, Daniel found himself thinking, this had to be the single most embarrassing moment in his life. Teal'c was sitting here, they were both studiously avoiding looking at each other, and both knew they were going down for this. Well, Daniel was going down, but he'd be damned if Teal'c was going with him.
"Teal'c," he said with some hesitation, "When Jack gets here, let me do the talking, all right?"
"Why would I do that, DanielJackson?"
"Teal'c, trust me on this, okay?"
Teal'c nodded, one eyebrow arched. "I will do so, until I feel the need to, as you say, do the talking."
Daniel looked down at the light blanket covering him as he said softly, "By the way, thanks."
"No thanks is required, DanielJackson. You are my friend. You would have done the same for me."
The short bark of laughter that burst from Daniel wasn't at all pleasant. "Teal'c, I seriously doubt that you'd be in need of protection by me, let alone," he paused, then added helplessly, "well, you know."
Before Teal'c could answer, General Hammond walked in, followed closely by Jack.
"Doctor Jackson. Teal'c."
"General," Daniel said without looking up.
"General Hammond," Teal'c intoned with a respectful nod.
Hammond moved to the other side of Daniel's bed and with a kind expression on his face, aimed at Daniel, said, "Can you tell me what happened, Son?"
"I insulted Major Reynolds, he reacted, and that's when Teal'c came in. He attempted to -- part us. Reynolds misunderstood and took a swing at Teal'c. Teal'c defended himself and Jack arrived. That's about it."
"Oh, fer crying out loud, Daniel. That's a bunch of hogwash and you know it," Jack said angrily.
"Colonel O'Neill, perhaps you know something I don't?" Hammond inquired.
"Well, General, when I arrived, Daniel was on the ground. You heard the doc listing his injuries. Hell, he could have called Reynolds a son-of-a-bitch and that wouldn't have--"
"Actually, Jack, I did."
"Daniel, you're not helping here," Jack said wryly.
General Hammond ignored both men and looked over at the Jaffa. "Teal'c?"
"I arrived at the locker room and heard Major Reynolds threatening to snap DanielJackson's wrist. DanielJackson told him to back off. That was all I needed in order to act on DanielJackson's behalf. I moved in and found Reynolds holding DanielJackson against the wall and--"
"Teal'c," Daniel said sharply.
The Jaffa turned his head and stared at his friend. A moment passed with Jack and Hammond staring at Daniel, who kept his gaze focused on Teal'c. Finally, Daniel spoke.
"As I said, I was quite insulting to Major Reynolds. This has been entirely my fault and no one else's. End of story."
He finally looked up at Hammond. "Whatever you need to do, I understand."
General Hammond looked over at Doctor Frasier and asked, "Would it be possible to see Major Reynolds now, Doctor?"
"I believe so, General."
"Very well." He turned back to Daniel. "Thank you, Doctor Jackson, and thank you, Teal'c."
The General headed toward the other end of the infirmary but Jack stayed put. When he was certain the General was out of earshot, he said, "Mind telling me what the fuck that was all about, Daniel?"
Reynolds looked up from his skinned knuckles, not in the least surprised to see General Hammond. By now, Jackson and the alien had filled the man in. Reynolds' career was over.
"Perhaps you could fill in a few blanks left from my interview with Doctor Jackson and Teal'c?"
"I doubt that I can add anything, Sir."
"Why don't you try? As I understand it, Doctor Jackson insulted you, you reacted, you two fought. Teal'c came in, misunderstood what he was seeing, tried to pull you off of Doctor Jackson, you defended yourself, Colonel O'Neill arrived. Can you see where a few more facts might be necessary?"
Reynolds' face went slack. Jackson insulted him? He was defending himself? What the fuck was going on? Why would two complete strangers cover for him? Why would Daniel -- Doctor Jackson -- cover for him?
Reynolds fingered the corner of his mouth and the butterfly bandage that the nurse had applied to temporarily protect the stitches. He was already starting to swell. He looked again at his left hand, at the bruised knuckles. It had been his left hand that had squeezed Daniel's -- Doctor Jackson's -- wrist.
"How is -- Doctor Jackson?"
"Broken wrist, concussion, several bruises. Bruises in rather interesting places. His back, for instance. And his -- inner thighs. Hard to envision an instance during a fight where a man might receive any of Daniel's injuries, let alone bruised inner thighs."
Reynolds closed his eyes. He could still feel Doctor --Daniel's -- hard body against his, his knee shoving between long slender legs, pushing in at Daniel's groin. He could see the anger and disbelief in Daniel's blue eyes, feel the brush of Daniel's breath against his face, and finally, those lips crushed under his--
God, he was pathetic. He'd hurt a man who had done nothing to him. Nothing at all. Except exist. And -- unknowingly tempted.
"Daniel never insulted me, General Hammond. He did nothing wrong, nor did the alien, Teal'c. I attacked Daniel, and then -- I -- forced myself on him. I accept full responsibility and the consequences for my unprofessional conduct."
Reynolds went on, telling Hammond everything that had happened. When he was done, Hammond simply nodded, then said, "I see."
Reynolds' head snapped up at the tone of voice. Frowning, he looked at his commanding officer. Hammond was staring back, eyes shadowed and unreadable, but looking, somehow, kind.
"Excuse me a moment, Major. I'll return shortly."
Reynolds watched, stunned, as Hammond walked away.
"God damn it, Jack, stay out of this. You heard me, heard what happened. I'm totally to blame for this, so just drop it."
"Daniel, so you have any idea what could happen to you as a result of this? If, and that's a mighty big 'if', you started this whole thing, you could be up on--"
"Colonel O'Neill, I'd like a few moments alone with Doctor Jackson," General Hammond asked as he approached Daniel's bed. Then with the quirk of his eyebrow, he added, "If you don't mind?"
Jack recognized the tone. It wouldn't matter one bit if he did, it was an order. Teal'c rose and the two of them headed out, but not before shooting worried glances at Daniel.
"Son, I need to know if you wish to press charges against Major Reynolds."
"Excuse me, Sir?" Daniel asked, clearly shocked.
"Reynolds was a -- bit -- more upfront with his information than you were. Do you wish to press sexual assault charges?"
If it was possible, Daniel lost even more color.
Hammond pulled up a chair and sat down. In a gentle voice, he said, "I know what happened, Daniel, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. This wasn't your fault. But a decision needs to be made. Do you wish to press charges?"
Numb, Daniel shook his head, unable to meet Hammond's eyes.
"Very well. Thank you."
Hammond pushed the chair back and stood. For a moment, he looked down at the young man, then took his leave.
He walked back to the other end, to where Reynolds still sat, head bowed.
"Major, Doctor Jackson is refusing to press charges. I believe that it might be in the best interests of all concerned, and certainly Daniel's best interests, if we let this go. However, I will be expecting your request for transfer on my desk within the hour."
Hammond waited for a response. Finally, Reynolds lifted his head. "Thank you, Sir. You'll have it immediately."
"Don't thank me, Major. Thank the man you hurt. And may I suggest that you seek help in dealing with your --- emotions, Major?"
Teal'c watched Jack pace. His friend was full of supressed anger and worry and Teal'c could empathize. At least he'd been granted the opportunity to vent his anger. It had been most welcome.
"O'Neill, perhaps if you hit a wall, you might feel better?"
"Don't tempt me, Teal'c."
Jack continued to pace, his body tense, his emotions barely held in check. Suddenly he stopped.
"Carter. I left her standing in front of the elevators. Shit, that was -- how long ago now?"
"I will go, O'Neill. I believe that in spite of DanielJackson telling you to 'butt out', he will need you."
With a heartfelt look of gratitude, Jack nodded. "Thank you, Teal'c. Looks like our dinner is on hold."
"I believe you are correct."
Sam walked down the hall away from the showers. No Colonel, no Teal'c, no Daniel. And this was the second time around. She'd already checked offices, the briefing room, the commissary, everywhere she could think of. She was steaming now, certain that they'd left without her. As she rounded the corner, she almost ran into Teal'c.
"Major Carter, I am most sorry," Teal'c said as he steadied her with one hand.
"No problem, at least I've found one of you."
"I was not aware that I was lost."
If Sam hadn't known better, she'd have thought Teal'c was making a joke. But she did, and he wasn't.
"You, the Colonel, Daniel, you were all lost. Care to fill me in?"
Teal'c's expression darkened. "I am afraid that DanielJackson has been injured."
Blue eyes widened. "What? How, where? Here? On base? That's impossible, Teal'c. Not even Daniel could be hurt here on base!"
"It would seem that he can. Apparently things came to a face between DanielJackson and Major Reynolds."
"To a head, Teal'c. Where is he?"
"DanielJackson is in the infirmary. He will be spending the night. He has a concussion and a broken wrist."
Her expression hardening, Sam said, "Let's go."
"Colonel, you can come back in now."
Jack stopped his frenzied pacing. "Not going to fill me in, Sir?"
"Doctor Jackson is refusing to press charges and Major Reynolds will be transfering immediately."
"I don't think that's good enough, General."
"It will have to be. And for Daniel's sake, I believe it is. He's very uncomfortable right now, as would any of us be under similar circumstances. If you're going back in there, keep that in mind, Colonel."
Jack took note of the fact that the General had used Daniel's first name -- again. That went far toward telling Jack just how upset his commanding officer was. The knowledge succeeded in bringing down his own anger a notch or two.
"I'll do that, Sir."
Daniel had to wonder why this kind of shit always happened to him. It was inexplicable, insane and a pain in the ass. But at least this one was over, more or less. Reynolds would be transferring out and seemed, according to General Hammond, remorseful. Daniel didn't care so much about that, as that the man needed help. He hoped Reynolds would get it.
He gazed about the dimly lit room and pondered what it would take to get Janet to let him go home. His head hurt, but not bad, and his wrist was feeling merely cumbersome.
Jack. Looking -- better. Less -- what? Less -- something. Daniel gave up trying to figure it out and said, "You know, you almost always say that when I'm down here and you're up there. When you're not asking to see scars anyway."
"No scars this time."
"No, not this time." Then Daniel said pointedly, "Of any kind, Jack."
"Oh, really? You haven't been sitting here blaming yourself? Wondering what it is about you that causes this shit?"
"Actually, I suspect it was the very first dig I was ever on. You know, first one through the suddenly revealed passageway, Pharoah's curse, yadda, yadda."
"And when was this?"
"Valley of the Queens. I was two. The workers had finally broken through what my parents believed was the tomb belonging to a scribe of Queen Titi. Everyone was standing around, nervous and excited, waiting for the all clear. As mom later told me, I evidently needed a diaper change, got away from the nanny and just ran past everyone and into the tomb."
"This would be diaperless, right?"
"As I understand it, yes," Daniel said, his lips twitching.
"So we're talking a naked baby entering a forbidden tomb?"
"Oh, yeah, you're cursed all right."
Daniel shrugged, then slowly -- smiled. The grin he received in return took the last of his headache away. He leaned over conspiratorily and said in a low voice, "What are the chances of breaking me out of here? I really want that steak dinner."
To punctuate his question, Daniel's stomach growled.
"Give me a minute and I'll see what I can do," Jack responded, his grin growing.
Daniel sat back, feeling almost decent. He watched Jack walk toward Janet's office and his eyes just naturally dropped to Jack's ass. He sighed, then closed his eyes. Maybe some day.
"Doc, gotta ask you a favor."
Janet looked up from her paperwork to find an unusually earnest Colonel O'Neill standing next to her desk.
"Let me take him home. To my home. You said yourself the concussion is mild and you know I can look out for him. I think that staying here overnight isn't really going to help him."
Janet regarded the Colonel for a heartbeat, then nodded at the lockers on the opposite wall. "His clothes are in there. While you help him dress, I'll get some pills that will take the edge off the pain. I want to see him back here in forty-eight hours so I can check him out."
Sam and Teal'c entered the infirmary. Teal'c guided her over to the far end where Daniel lay, head resting back against the pillows, eyes closed. As they approached, Daniel lifted his head, opened his eyes, smiled wanly, and warned, "Don't say it, Sam."
"What happened? And your wrist, it's broken."
Daniel rolled his eyes heavenward. "Didn't I say, 'Don't say it'?"
"I didn't say it."
"Yes, you did. You said, 'What happened?'. That's saying it."
Sam grinned and shook her head. "No, saying, 'Daniel, how come you always end up in here?' is saying it. And I suppose this means another trip to get you those cookies you like?"
"Won't be necessary, Carter," Jack said as he walked in. "We're about to blow this Popsicle stand and we're taking Daniel with us."
While Sam and Teal'c waited in the hall, Jack helped Daniel dress. It wasn't as easy as Jack assumed it would be. Daniel's muscles were already freezing up and the cast kept getting in Jack's way, mostly because Daniel kept forgetting that he had one.
"Daniel, you're worse than a kid. Sit still and let me do this."
"Jack, I've been dressing myself for years. I can do it."
"For years, huh?" Jack said as he slipped Daniel's gray sweater over his head. "Would that be since you were, say, two?"
"Ha-ha," came the muffled reply. Jack grinned as he tugged the sweater down and Daniel's flushed face appeared. Using his fingers to widen the sleeve, he watched as Daniel slid his arm and cast through.
"Okay, stand up and I'll zip, button and we're off."
"I don't think so. There's nothing wrong with my right hand. I can take care of my pants."
Jack held up his hands and stepped back. "Fine, go for it, Daniel." Jack then watched as Daniel unsuccessfully struggled to do up his jeans.
With the cast, he couldn't get a hold of the material with his left hand in order to create the tension needed to pull up the zipper. When Daniel began to curse in unknown languages, Jack stepped forward, gently batted his friend's hands away, and said, "Grace in motion, Daniel. Grace in motion."
He proceeded to zip and button, amazed that his hands were steady and didn't betray the feelings that being this close to Daniel -- and his groin -- were dredging up. Must be all his years in Black Ops. If he could disarm the oddly found bomb or two with a completely steady hand, he sure as hell could zip Daniel up.
"Okay, we're good to go," he said as he finished. "A Porterhouse steak has your name on it, Daniel." He picked up Daniel's jacket and placed around the younger man's shoulders. As he straightened it, he looked at Daniel and his eyes widened. Daniel was -- his face was -- beet red.
"Glasses," the younger man muttered as he looked around, eyes squinting.
Jack, whose hands were now shaking, spotted them on the nightstand. He picked them up, then carefully placed them on Daniel's face. In a remembered gesture, he used two fingers to push them up where they belonged.
"Come on, Danny, our teammates are waiting."
O'Malley's was quiet and relatively empty so they were seated quickly. Daniel was hungry, but a bit uncomfortable, his bruises starting to bother him. After ordering, Sam pried most of the story out of Teal'c and Jack and what they didn't say, she managed to figure out.
As the meal progressed, Daniel became increasingly aware of the covert looks his teammates were throwing his way. They were starting to get on his nerves. He debated saying something, but opted for spearing a stem of brocoli from Jack's plate. Jack hated brocoli.
"Hey, get your own vegetables, Daniel," Jack said as he swatted the offending hand with the end of his fork.
"Suddenly you like brocoli?" Daniel asked with his first smile of the evening.
"No, but you could ask."
"Jack, may I have your brocoli?" Daniel said sweetly.
"Sure, help yourself."
Daniel rolled his eyes, then said, "I wouldn't touch your brocoli now if it were the last thing on Earth to eat and I was starving. So there."
Jack cocked his head, stared at Daniel for a moment, then said innocently, "Daniel, maybe we should share with Teal'c and Carter that story about your very first -- dig? You know the one, about how you were the first one into the tomb of--"
Daniel quickly re-speared the brocoli and bit down on it. "Mmm, good, Jack," he said after swallowing. "You're just such a generous man. We're so lucky to have you as our leader, aren't we, guys?"
Carter looked back and forth between the two men, then said, "The Colonel is my commanding officer, I have to say what a great -- leader -- he is, Daniel." She ducked her head to hide her grin.
"I am in total agreement with Major Carter, DanielJackson. But I would enjoy hearing about your first dig."
Eyes narrowed, Jack leaned in and said quietly, "Well, it started like this... See, Daniel apparently had a nanny--"
Teal'c frowned. "A -- nanny? This would appear to be an archaeological term I am unfamiliar with, O'Neill."
"All two year old archaeologists have them, Teal'c. Don't they Daniel?" Jack asked sweetly.
"You are dead meat, Jack. Dead. Meat. And I take back every nice thing I ever said about you, including the comment about us being lucky to have you as our leader."
Jack's scarred eyebrow rose enticingly. "You say nice things about me, Daniel?"
"Two. I've said two nice things about you. In five years, two nice things. I hereby rescind them both."
Jack rested his chin on the palm of his hand. "Do tell? Care to share those two nice things?"
Daniel's eyes narrowed dangerously. Sam and Teal'c looked at each other, grinned, then looked back at their teammates. This was going to be good.
"Well," Daniel said in a low voice, "I once said you fall on the ice rather gracefully, but that was to be expected, since you've had so much practise -- falling, I mean. I also distinctly remember telling Doctor Smithson that you weren't as gruff as you appear, you just had a bad rash in a very uncomfortable -- spot." Daniel counted to three, then added, "And that you had that rash quite often."
Sam couldn't hold it in. Her laughter burst forth. Unfortunately, she was just taking a sip of her Diet Coke.
Jack, Diet Coke dripping from his face, wiped it off, then said, as he dropped his Diet Coke-soaked napkin on the table, "So anyway, Daniel's nanny was in the process of changing his diaper and I suspect she let go long enough for him to get away. It was in the Valley of the Queens and they'd just opened a new tomb and no one had entered it yet. Until a naked Danny rushed in where angels fear to tread."
This time Jack was soaked in iced tea as Teal'c let loose.
The dinner was over and the four members of SG-1 exited the restaurant, sated and happy. The day had not been forgotten, nor had Major Reynolds, but together, laughing and joking, they'd all managed to put it into some sort of perspective that would allow them all to move on. Daniel was feeling particularily good -- sore, but good.
As Teal'c and Sam walked away towards Sam's car, Jack opened the passenger door of his car and stood ready to assist Daniel if he needed it. He didn't, but he did need Jack's help putting on the seatbelt. Once it was snapped into place, Jack hurried around to his side and jumped in. As he pulled out into traffic, he said, "You didn't really mind letting Carter and Teal'c in on the diaper thing, did you, Daniel?"
Smiling in the darkness, Daniel shook his head. "No. And I'm sure they're going to love a certain story about a drunk Major O'Neill in Turkey."
"Shit. How did you hear about that? Ferretti?"
"Yep. I got a million of 'em. And I'm willing to use every one of them."
Laughing, Jack took one hand off the steering wheel in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, I get it. No more naked Danny stories."
The rest of the drive was spent in companionable silence, the kind of silence that had been sorely missing between them for several months. As Jack turned into his driveway, he said, "Got a new bed in the guest room. It has one of those attached adjustable air pillow-mattress toppers thingys. It's going to be good for those bruises of yours."
"Sounds great, Jack. And thanks -- for tonight. For getting Janet to let me leave, and for offering to babysit. I really appreciate it."
Jack turned off the engine, then twisted in his seat so that he could look at Daniel. The moon was full and the interior of the car was bathed in its silver glow. Daniel's face looked almost -- ethereal. Jack took a deep breath, then said casually, "We're friends, Daniel. It's what friends do."
Daniel looked away and opened the door. "Right. Of course," he said as he stepped down.
Jack frowned. He'd said it wrong. Daniel was already walking up to the front door and Jack hurried after him. On the porch, Daniel stepped aside and let Jack unlock it. Once inside, Jack turned on one light and dimmed it.
"I have the usual spare toothbrushes and stuff. You know where it all is. I think you left some sweats here a while back. They're in the drawer in the guest room." He fished around in his jacket pocket and drew out the small packet of pills. Holding them out, he said, "Frasier sent these for you. In case the pain -- you know."
Daniel took them, then started for the hall. "Thanks, Jack."
As Jack watched him leave, he thought, "So much for companionable silence."
Daniel grunted, then gave up. He sank down on the soft bed and closed his eyes. No way was he going to ask for Jack's help again. Not for undressing. He could do this, it was just going to take some ingenuity. Like -- maybe he could pull the damn zipper down with his teeth? He gave a dry chuckle. Oh, yeah, that'd work. Well, at least he could pull off the sweater.
Two minutes later, huffing and puffing, he had it off. In a rush of self-directed anger, he threw the thing across the room. He toed off his shoes, then his socks. Maybe he could sleep in his jeans? Sure, why not. He got up slowly and pulled the bedspread down, followed by the blankets.
Wow, there really was an aircushion pillow-top on the bed. This could be -- nice.
Jack tossed his jacket on the back of the couch, wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. As he drank it down, he noticed his hand was shaking. How strange. He thought about the afternoon, about Reynolds, and his mind supplied him with a rerun of arriving at the locker rooms and seeing Daniel on the floor. No matter how he tried, Jack couldn't hate Reynolds. Not anymore. He understood the man now. He understood that under slightly different conditions, he, Colonel Jack O'Neill, could have been Reynolds.
Jack understood how wanting something and knowing you couldn't have it could easily translate into hate for that which you desire. Hate and love, always so closely tied together. Night and day, yin and yang. Jack understood because his own feelings for Daniel had colored his actions lately. They'd caused his abruptness and the many barbed, hurtful insults. Insults that used to be delievered with a grin, now delivered with the precision of a surgeon.
Jack knew he wasn't in the same kind of denial as Reynolds, after all, Jack knew he was gay. Reynolds was only beginning to understand that about himself.
With a sigh, Jack put the empty beer bottle down on the sink, squared his shoulders and headed for the spare bedroom.
Daniel was just about to climb in when Jack knocked on the door. At least, Daniel assumed it was Jack. Smiling wryly, Daniel walked over and opened it.
"Thought you might need help getting ready for bed."
"No, I'm fine."
Daniel waited, but Jack didn't move. The older man's eyes seemed to be focused on a place beyond Daniel's shoulder. "Jack?"
"Can I come in?"
In answer, Daniel stepped aside. Jack walked in and over to the bed. He sat down. Daniel stayed where he was.
"I -- think we need to talk, Daniel."
"No, we don't. Probably shouldn't. Not if we want to maintain any semblence of being able to work together."
Jack glanced up at him, then smiled tightly. "Daniel, you really aren't very smart for a smart man. I don't want to just 'work together' anymore. And there's no way in hell Sam would be here under remotely similar circumstances. Nor would I invite Teal'c over. I might stay at the base for awhile, but they wouldn't be here, in my guest room. A room decorated for you, by the way.
"A room with a new bed purchased with you in mind. A room with your clothes folded in a drawer, not to mention a bathroom with your toothpaste, aftershave, and deodorant. I don't have wine in my cupboard for Carter, or those silly gummi worms that Teal'c likes so much. But I do have your favorite wine and the pesto sauce you love, and a package of Oreo cookies -- for you."
Daniel walked unsteadily over to the bed and dropped down next to Jack. He swiped a hand over his eyes and said, "Oh."
"Actually," Jack went on, "I bought the same bed for my room. In the back of my mind, I hoped that one day -- you'd be in it instead of in here."
"Oh," Daniel said again.
"You're my best friend, Daniel, but I want more. The only question is; do I want more than you can give?"
Daniel stood up and faced Jack, who looked up at him with soft brown eyes, eyes full of fear -- and hope. Daniel moved Jack's legs apart and slipped in between them. Gazing down at his best friend, he said, "I could really use help with my zipper, Jack."
The flicker of hope that had been swimming in the dark depths of Jack's eyes flared. "You sure?" he asked.
Smiling softly, Daniel nodded. "I'm sure. In fact, you can help me with my zipper anytime you want. Any. Time."
"Ditto, Daniel. Ditto."
Jack slowly unbuttoned and unzipped the jeans, then pushed them, along with the shorts, down over Daniel's hips. He wasn't surprised to see that Daniel was already more than half erect. For him.
He smoothed a hand down Daniel's flank and enjoyed the muscles as they quivered beneath his touch. Daniel's cock was in perfect position and Jack took advantage.
It had been awhile, but wasn't sucking dick a lot like riding a bicycle? He smiled as he slid his tongue up the underside of Daniel's cock, the taste bursting in his mouth, reminding him why he loved this part of loving another man, but especially, now, Daniel.
As he enjoyed himself, he used his hands to explore Daniel's body, running his thumbs along the tender inside of his thighs, careful of the bruises. He closed his eyes as Daniel shuddered with barely supressed passion and need.
Jack took Daniel into his mouth.
Long slender fingers gripped his shoulders, the cast rubbing slightly. Jack pulled Daniel in closer, working his cock down his throat.
"God, Jack, yes..."
Jack had been holding Daniel steady until he was ready for the younger man to start thrusting. Now he lessened the tension and Daniel read the movement correctly. He began to thrust easily at first, letting Jack get used to it, then harder as his need took over. Jack now rested his hands on the round globes of Daniel's ass, kneading them as Daniel moved in and out.
He'd known it would be like this. He'd known it. His body was on fire with desire for Daniel, his mouth full of the man. Daniel's moans, his sweat, all swirled around Jack, filling him as he'd never been filled before.
Daniel tensed and Jack was ready. He pulled in his cheeks, was rewarded by a gutteral moan from Daniel, then just as Daniel was about to let go, he tried to pull out. Jack frowned, then gripped harder, signaling that Daniel stay.
"No, not -- can't -- in your mouth -- pull -- out..."
Jack held on tighter. Daniel got the message and the next thing Jack knew, his mouth was being flooded with Daniel. His own body shuddered, hips bucking.
"Bed," Jack said sleepily.
"Bed," Daniel agreed.
Somehow the two men had ended up on the floor, Jack against the bed, Daniel against Jack. Daniel kicked off his jeans and shorts and both men struggled to their feet. Jack glanced down at his damp jeans and said with a grin, "Shower then bed."
He'd come in his jeans as Daniel had come in his mouth, and he was a mess. Arms around each other's waists, they walked across the hall toward the bathroom. At the door, Jack stopped.
"Your wrist. We need plastic wrap. I'll be right back."
"Feel free to drop your clothes in the laundry on your way, Jack," Daniel said with a leer.
As Jack walked down the hall toward the kitchen, Daniel entered the bathroom. He turned on the shower and took a couple of large towels out of the cupboard. He was testing the water when Jack -- a wonderfully naked Jack, joined him.
"Hold out your arm, Danny."
Daniel held it out and Jack quickly and efficiently wrapped it up. "There. You're good to go. Let me get in first." At Daniel's amused expression, Jack added, "I'll take the brunt of the water, idiot. Can't risk getting that cast wet."
"How is it you manage to make 'idiot' sound like an endearment, Jack?"
"It's all in the delivery."
"So deliver me unto the shower, idiot."
Jack grinned, stepped in and gently pulled Daniel in after him. Jack soaped Daniel, then stood quietly as Daniel returned the favor, albeit a bit clumsily. He watched, enamored, as Daniel used his right hand to wash Jack's belly. With a grin, Jack did a quick ducking move and managed to capture Daniel's mouth. They kissed hungrily, their first. Soap slick bodies rubbed and slid against each other, Jack's broad back protecting Daniel's wrist from most of the water.
"Love you," Jack murmured against Daniel's mouth. "Need you, need you so much..."
Daniel dropped small kisses along Jack's wet jaw, whispering, "You have me, you have me."
Jack pulled away just enough to see Daniel clearly, then asked, "Do I, Daniel? Do I?"
With a soft grin playing about his lips, Daniel let his eyes have their fill of Jack. As if memorizing every line, he took in every detail of the beloved face, then said, "Yes, Jack, you do."
"Do you know what day this is?"
Puzzled by the question and sudden subject jump, Daniel's brow wrinkled in thought and then he said, "Um, Friday, I think. It's been a long one, and for all I know, it could be next week."
"It's Friday all right. Friday the thirteenth, to be exact. Not a day known for good things happening, or good luck."
"Oh, I don't know, Jack. It can be very lucky -- for some."
Major Reynolds stared out over the well-lit airfield. He'd be boarding his transport back to Washington in fifteen minutes.
As he watched the airmen on the ground, he wondered how he was going to exist in the "Don't ask, don't tell" atmosphere of the military now that he'd acknowledged who and what he was. And if he couldn't, how could he exist in a world without the military, which had been his life for over twenty-five years?
He had no answers. He looked at his watch again and this time, noted the date as well. He smiled grimly.
Friday the thirteenth.
His sister had always said it was a lucky day for her. Lucky for some, he thought, just not for him.
Reynolds stared at his reflection in the glass. He frowned, then slowly -- smiled.
Maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all. He did know who he was now and that knowledge gave him a sense of freedom he'd not known before. Maybe there was hope for him yet. He wondered if Daniel Jackson would care that he'd been a part of this new self awareness? Somehow, he thought Daniel might. And maybe even approve?
Friday the thirteenth. Lucky for some, including him.
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