Spaghetti

"You love her." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. A hard, no nonsense fact. One that caused Colonel Jack O'Neill to look up from his meal in surprise and stare incredulously at his dinner companion.

"Huh?"

Dr Jackson smiled at his friend, finding humor in the fact that Jack's fork had frozen between plate and mouth and his Spaghetti was clinging precariously to a corner of the cutlery, threatening to land on his spotless BDU's and thereby covering them in the overpoweringly aromatic Tomato sauce.

"I said you love her. Oh, and your fork's dripping."

"Shit!" Daniel's grin widened as Jack unceremoniously plonked the offending cutlery back onto his plate and began scrubbing furiously at his stained trousers with a napkin.

In fact, he almost laughed out loud as his friend realised that his valiant efforts only served to make the stain bigger. "This is all your fault." Jack groused as he all but poured the contents of the water jug onto his lap. He looked up at his friend accusingly. "What the hell did you go and say a thing like that for anyway? Anybody could'a heard you!"

"Jack," Daniel began patiently; "It's the day before Thanksgiving, the Commissary is empty to the point where I keep expecting to see Tumbleweed rolling across the floor, and all but SG-1 are on stand down. Who in the hell is going to hear anything we say?"

Jack paused for a moment and Daniel could almost see the cogs whirring in his friends brain as he desperately tried to come up with an answer suitable enough to shut the Archaeologist up once and for all.

The proverbial light bulb appeared above the Colonel's head and he looked around him slowly, suspiciously surveying every inch of the room. Then, with a smile that looked almost victorious, he announced "The Kitchen Staff!"

Daniel sighed. "Fine." Rolling his eyes in frustration, he pushed aside his empty plate and leaned forward conspiratorially. "But you do love her. You can't deny that to me, Jack. I know you too well."

O'Neill leaned back heavily in his chair and rubbed his face in defeat. "What do you want me to say Daniel?" he asked without making eye contact. "You want me to tell you the futility of this discussion? You want me to spout off the *many* Military regulations regarding Officer Fraternisation?" he finally looked at his friend and sighed deeply, exhaustion visible in the dark lines under eyes that had seen too much pain and suffering over the years.

"No Jack." Daniel replied, refusing to give in to the pity he felt welling up inside his chest. "I want you to be honest with me - with yourself." He studied the Colonel for a moment. In all his years he had never been as close to anyone as he felt to this man. Despite their completely different personalities, and the fact that they managed to end up disagreeing on pretty much every subject ever discussed, he knew without a doubt that Colonel Jack O'Neill was unquestionably one of only three people he could ever trust with his life.

After spending most of his childhood being pushed unceremoniously through innumerable foster homes, Daniel had always found it difficult to allow anyone to get close to him. Realising at an early age that the only person he could ever completely rely on was himself, he had thrown himself whole-heartedly into his studies, earning the coveted roll of Valedictorian at high school - a small victory for all he had suffered from his peers. Friendless and unloved by all, Daniel had always been introverted and shy. His astounding intelligence and sheer determination to make something of his life had pushed him though college and eventually his post grad Ph.D. But even then, even with Sarah and initially Sha're, he was still inexplicably unsure of himself as a person. The academic community had adored him - right up until he expressed his theories on the Egyptian Pyramids, which they had immediately deemed ludicrous and consequently shunned him. But Jack...

Despite his open dislike for Scientists, Jack O'Neill had very quickly come to admire and respect Daniel, and after a time, had even come to consider him a friend. Now, over five years after their first, tempestuous encounter, Daniel Jackson could honestly say that there was not a single person on this planet or any other, that he would rather call a brother.

Of course, there was no way in hell he would ever actually admit any of that out loud.

And now, looking at his friend across the table he could see that, despite the comedic fa├žade that had become an integral part of Jack's defence mechanisms, he was hurting. A lot. Daniel wished fervently that his friend would let his guard slip - just this once. It was so easy to see that the Colonel had something on his mind, but, unlike the enlightened Archaeologist, this stalwart military man would never display his emotional state of mind - especially to another man.

Jack sighed again, a bone weary, depressed sound that seemed to shake him to the bone. "Fine Daniel. Yes, I love her. I love Samantha Carter so much that just thinking about it exhausts me. Are you happy now? Can we drop the subject? I have work to do." And with that he pushed himself up from his chair and grabbed his plate. Daniel made to follow, but Jack turned around to face him again, obviously fighting internally about saying more. "You won't say anything will you?" he asked tentatively. "I mean, if anyone was to find out I could get in a lot of trouble. We could both get court martialled or..."

"Jack." Daniel held up his hand, silencing his companion. "I'm not going to say a word to anyone. But I do think you need to talk to Sam about this."

O'Neill smiled ruefully. "And say what?" he asked. "Oh, by the way, Carter. I know I'm your CO, and this is completely against regulations, but I've fallen madly in love with you. Don't mind do you?" he placed his dirty cutlery on the metal trolley. "Besides," he continued quietly. "She already knows."

Dr Jackson stopped in his tracks. "She does? How?"

Jack waved his hands vaguely about himself, trying desperately to make light of the situation. "That whole Zarc fiasco."

Daniel quickly scanned his memory for any moment in SG-1's recent history involving anything that sounded like 'Zarc'. This time the light bulb settled over the Archaeologist. "You mean the Za'tarc tests?"

"Yeah, that." Jack looked at his friend for a moment, trying to determine whether continuing this conversation in such a public place was a good idea or not. He'd considered telling him before now, especially seeing as he was the only member of the team who wasn't in the room when the shit hit the fan, but it had never seemed like the right time. Finally he realised that, despite his and Carter's agreement never to mention what had digressed between them that day, he really did need to talk to someone about it.

No, scratch that.

He really needed to talk to *Daniel* about it.

"Daniel?" Jack looked down at his feet, blushing at the prospect of having a personal conversation about his current emotional state; "Have you got a couple of hours? I need to talk to you about something."

Daniel smiled. "Sure Jack. Wanna go to my office?"

Jack merely nodded weakly and followed his friend out of the room.

The End?

Let me know if it's worth doing a sequel.