Notes

This story was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt has been made to copyright any characters which may not have been originally created by the author, and no profit is made from this work of fiction. Any original characters and the stories themselves are the property of the author. No changes were made to the story with this update. I just broke it up into chapters to make it easier to read.

This story begins a series that continues with "Shot Through the Heart," "Must I Go Bound," "Love Hurts," and "Closing Time."

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The place was just plain nasty. Even an interesting ruin would have had trouble redeeming the mud, masses of rotting vegetation, and chittering, gibbering, creepy animal life. Sam and Teal'c had gone off in the opposite direction and left the other half of SG-1 to reconnoiter this charmless bog.

"What IS that smell?" Daniel complained.

"Which one?" his companion asked cheerfully.

"You can distinguish different bad smells? It just smells like one colossal stink to me," Daniel asked distractedly, his attention focused on finding a place to sit down and review the MALPH reconnaissance data that wouldn't wind up coating the middle third of his body with the mud already caking his lower legs and boots.

"Remember our arrangement. You use your brain box Dr. Daniel Jackson, Ph.D. I handle the heavy lifting. Don't strain yourself."

"Sometimes Doug, a straight answer is really helpful."

"Nothing smells remotely like food is the main thing," Douglas replied. Daniel nodded. That fitted in with the MALPH data which had showed no sign of civilization.

Daniel checked his watch. Thank God. It looked like they needed to head back to the gate now if they were going to be there for their rendezvous with the rest of the team. Before he could make that happy announcement, Douglas said quietly, "I hear something Danny."

"What direction? Any idea what it is?" Daniel said immediately alert. Douglas' hearing was to be respected.

"In the direction our leaderette and Teal'c took and a little sunward."

"Part 2?" Daniel prompted.

Douglas cocked his head and thought about it. "Considering I can't see a thing but I can hear it, I'd say something really big or lots of smaller creepy beasties all together."

Daniel keyed his radio. "Sam?"

She immediately answered," What've you got?"

"Douglas hears something in your direction from us and a little sunward. He says it's probably something big or a crowd of somethings. Meet us at the gate as quickly as possible, okay?" Daniel said, his heart in his throat, thinking of how close whatever it was would be to Sam and Teal'c.

"I believe I am still in command of this mission, Dr. Jackson," Sam responded crisply. "Get to the gate ASAP and let me worry about what Teal'c and I do."

Douglas had started to lip sync and pantomime Sam three words into her reprimand. As soon as Daniel turned off the radio, he said, "Seems like the Queen Bee must not be getting all the royal jelly she needs."

Daniel bit his lip. The tension between Douglas and Sam was always there. Eventually he said, "She hasn't been herself lately."

The two men began to proceed to the gate at a fast, ground eating trot. Both were in superb physical condition and could keep a pace up like this for a long time and still converse without getting winded. At first they had to pay attention to their footing but as the ground got firmer underfoot, Douglas said, "You know those classic Trek episodes I had you watch?"

Daniel groaned. Douglas had him on a crash course catching him up on the pop culture he had ignored much of his life. Daniel thought Douglas's notion of what that constituted was some 20 years out of date or more but what did he know? Douglas waited for an affirmation from Daniel before he continued even though they both knew there was no way he could have forgotten something like Spock going through the Vulcan version of the 7 year itch so quickly. "Sure," Daniel said.

"You remember how every episode Kirk does something rash and emotional and everyone says 'This just isn't like you Jim' when in fact it is the ONLY way we have ever seen him act?"

"And…" Daniel said, not paying very close attention. He could see the gate in the distance now but not Sam or Teal'c.

"The whole time I've known Dr. Colonel Her Majesty Samantha Carter she's been like this."

They were now within a few yards of the gate. Daniel said to Douglas, "Doug," and paused.

Douglas took the cue and supplied, "Shut up." And Douglas did, in fact, get quiet. Douglas tended to keep a constant stream of chatter. This irritated some people but Daniel had learned early on that if he asked Douglas to shut up, he usually did, at least for awhile.

Daniel keyed the radio again but he got nothing back from the others.

"What do you hear now?" he asked Douglas.

"It's up that way," he said gesturing toward a wooded slope climbing up to a ridge. "I think whatever it is has stopped moving."

Daniel immediately contacted Stargate Command through the gate. He didn't take the time to make it a two way conversation but rapped out. "Colonel Carter and Teal'c are missing. Atherton and I are going to investigate something suspicious that is up a hill due west of the gate. We need reinforcements ASAP."

As Douglas and Daniel began to run toward the hill, Douglas said, "She's gonna ream you a new one if it turns out you called back up in unnecessarily."

Daniel shrugged. "I devoutly hope that that's exactly what happens because it would mean that they're okay."

As the men neared the tree line, they slowed down and moved more slowly to cut down on the noise and keep cover. Daniel finally began to hear the sound, something like a camp meeting if the participants were all snakes. As the sound grew louder, they moved with more and more caution. They saw light ahead through the trees and crept behind some thick bushes from which they could look out at a large meadow, about two acres in size, with an unconscious Sam and Teal'c in the middle. Shuffling around them in a slow circle dance were about thirty raptor like creatures, reminiscent of, but fatter than, the ones in Jurassic Park. Occasionally one would dart forward to feel Sam's or Teal'c clothes or hair.

Daniel signed to Douglas, "I thought you said you did not smell food."

Douglas departed from the American Sign Language Daniel had used to employ a much older and more universal sign to indicate his opinion of Daniel's statement. Then in ASL he said, "I do have my standards. I have never bitten into anything remotely like that."

They watched for a few minutes, seizing up their opponents. "The smart thing to do would be to go down, meet the reinforcements, and lead them back up here," Daniel finally signed.

"The smart thing. Well, that would be you, not me. If you want evidence, just look at my love life." Douglas looked at Daniel and then back out into the clearing. He signed, "Why do not you go back and get them. I am going to try something."

Daniel tapped Douglas's leg to get his attention and then put as much vehemence as you could into an ASL statement,"I am NOT leaving you here to do something risky without back up."

Douglas nodded and signed, "Okay. Lay covering fire for me but be prepared to run. This may not work." Without giving himself an opportunity to change his mind, Douglas suddenly leapt up and, as he charged into the clearing, he let out an unearthly, and for that matter, unP3F897ly, shriek that he sustained long enough to make any singer at the Met proud. Daniel immediately starting taking out the ugly creatures in Douglas's immediate vicinity. Douglas grabbed a creature, snapped its head back and threw the lifeless body on the next nearest raptor. Daniel kept firing and Douglas kept raptor crunching and tossing and shrieking. He was wearing his game face and totally into it. The creatures were, as he had hoped, completely unnerved and didn't get organized to charge at Daniel. Daniel began to hear approaching men crashing through the forest behind him. The cavalry had arrived. The creatures put the terrifying zat fire, the shrieking, phenomenally strong wildman, and the impeding arrival of who knew what together and took off in a disorderly retreat. Douglas immediately dropped out of berserker mode.

When SG-15 arrived in the clearing, they found Daniel and Douglas trying to rouse Sam and Teal'c. SG-15 was duly impressed by the bodies of at least 18 reptilian pug uglies strewn around them and the legend of Daniel and Douglas got further burnished. Since no one in Cheyenne Mountain other than General O'Neill and SG-1 knew the truth about Douglas, Daniel always got an equal share of the credit. He didn't really like it but he couldn't argue with the desirable side effects.

The medical corpsmen who had followed SG-15 up the hill put Teal'c and Sam on stretchers and carried them back to the gate. By the time they reached it, Teal'c had started to rouse. Sam, on the other hand, was still out cold. She didn't regain consciousness until after she had been tucked into bed in the infirmary. Daniel and Douglas were not there to see it. Daniel got reassurances from the doctor in charge that she had a simple concussion before he left. He felt reasonably sure that if he waited around for her to come to, she would not be suffused with gratitude over his saving her life. There was a very good chance that somehow this would all get turned around to be his fault, his and Douglas'.

Daniel and Douglas got cleaned up, the amount of mud sluicing off them down the drain an astounding thing. An hour later, they were leaning against the end of the bar in their favorite tavern, Aggie's. It always had a dart game going, served Guinness on tap (Douglas's minimal requirement), preferred to keep the TV turned to soccer instead of wrestling or football (another must as far as Douglas was concerned), and made really good onion rings (Daniel's one demand). For a man who had once been described by Jack O'Neill as a "cheap date" because of his relative inability to hold his liquor, Daniel had undergone terrific personal growth. He was now staring moodily into his second pint of Guinness and Douglas was probably the only person in the place who could tell that the first had affected him at all.

"So if She wasn't always like this," Douglas began with no need to clarify the pronoun. She with a capital letter conferred on it through verbal emphasis was always Sam. "What do you think caused her to get so," he hesitated trying to come up a word that captured his thought but wouldn't bring Daniel down on his head.

"So pissy," Daniel supplied. Douglas raised an eyebrow at Daniel's willingness to use a word that critical about Sam.

"She's mad at me because I'm not willing to be her girlfriend any more," Daniel said. He snorted, "She got used to years of her going on about Jack this and Jack that and then Pete this and Pete that and me being all sympathetic and sensitive to her feelings. And she's mad at you because she blames you for me getting up on my hind legs."

Douglas clapped Daniel sympathetically on the back and the two of them took long pulls on their pints. Daniel looked up to see Douglas cocking his head with a sly smile stealing across his beautifully cut lips. "Casual like Danny, take a look at the two dollies at that table next to the door. Blonde and redhead."

"Beautiful women," Daniel said without much interest.

"They're talking about us. The blonde's interested in me but the redhead is speculating optimistically about your, um, fancy parts."

The redhead was stunning but Daniel jumped ahead to respond to Douglas's eventual point before he got there. "You know how I feel about casual sex."

Douglas looked at him disgustedly, "Yeah, yeah, still mourning Sha'ree, not wanting to cheapen your memory of how it was with her, respect for true intimacy, in love with someone else, fear of disease, saving yourself for marriage, possible priestly vocation, performance anxiety, really shy."

Daniel chuckled. "You made the last few up and you know it."

Douglas looked at him hopefully, "You wouldn't mind just going over and talking to them with me while I work on doing whatever I end up doing, would you?"

Daniel punched Douglas in the arm. "You know you're all talk. You are still completely hung up on that blonde with permanent PMS you were with in California."

Since they were focused on the region of the door, they noticed immediately when a lean man with close cropped silver hair walked in. "Don't look now but pater familis has entered the building," Douglas said. They watched Jack scope out the crowded room and zero in on them.

As he made their way toward them, weaving through the crowd and dodging waitresses with trays of drinks, Douglas said to Daniel, "I think I'll establish a beachhead over there with our lovely new friends. You're the only one here O'Neill is at all interested in talking to."

By the time Jack was standing next to Daniel, Douglas had won himself an invitation to sit down and was sliding an arm around the blonde. Daniel observed, as much to himself as to Jack, "He is really smooth when he wants to be."

Jack didn't bother to respond. "What are we drinking?" he asked trying to get the bartender's attention.

Daniel lifted his pint. "Is there anything else?"

Jack nodded and signaled to the bartender to get him what Daniel was drinking. "So, Jack, what do you need from me?" Daniel asked flatly.

Jack looked mildly offended. "I can't have a drink with a friend?"

"You haven't, not for months. Douglas and I come here all the time, everyone knows that. On the other hand, I've never seen you in here before. If you were looking for me, or for both of us, to talk about something you want to be off the record, we wouldn't be hard to find."

Jack busied himself accepting the glass from the bartender and taking a first drink. "Friendship is a two-way street Daniel. BUT if you want it that way, I need to talk with you about the unhealthy team dynamics I see building in SG-1."

"Do your eyes glow now General? 'Unhealthy team dynamics' didn't come out of the mouth of the Jack O'Neill I know."

"Damn it Daniel, you're developing a mouth just like that monster over there," Jack said gesturing at Douglas.

Daniel didn't try to hide his anger. "He's a good man, not a monster. A man who has gone through some incredible things in order to be able to make a difference, make up for wrongs he really couldn't have prevented."

Jack changed the subject to say, "Your commanding officer and your friend Samantha Carter is lying in the infirmary and you're here drinking and sizing up potential pick ups."

Daniel looked at Jack wearily, pulled out his cell phone, and hit Recent Calls. Holding it in front of Jack, he stated, "I've talked to the infirmary twice since we left the Mountain." He put the cell away. "I don't know why I'm bothering to defend myself but do you really think she'd even want me there?"

Jack realigned the conversation again. "You've created a team within a team, you and Douglas. The two of you have an unbelievable rep with the other teams. Our own homegrown Batman and Robin. Sam is beginning to look like mere window dressing."

"SG-1's performance is higher than it has ever been. Use any indice you want," Daniel said, "but you're all wrapped around an axle because Colonel Carter's feeling unappreciated. What does that tell you Jack?"

Jack was clearly flabbergasted. It almost sounded like Daniel was accusing him of having feelings for Sam, feelings beyond years of friendship. Before he could form a rational answer to continue the conversation, Daniel said, "I need specifics Jack. It isn't part of my job to be Sam's handmaiden. I don't think you can find any way that I have failed to meet and exceed the requirements that actually are part of my job. But if you can name something I have failed to do that is part of my responsibilities as a team member, I will correct it. And if Doug's done anything he shouldn't, or has failed to do something he should, I'll take the responsibility of seeing that he shapes up." He wasn't looking at Jack anymore but staring at something that only he saw. "She can't see me Jack. Not at all. And I got tired of being invisible. You wouldn't understand since she's never had trouble with her eyesight where you're concerned." He made eye contact with Jack. "Is there anything else General?"

Jack started to say something, changed his mind, shook his head and left without further comment. Daniel got himself a third pint and went to join Douglas and their new friends. As he slid into the booth, he discovered that the blonde, Corinne, was absolutely tailor made for Douglas to impress. She was a professor of English literature, specializing in Victorian poets. He already had her spellbound at his knowledge of the period and its writers. The redhead, Briana, was visibly getting fidgety. She was delighted at an opportunity to get the conversation off Gerald Manley Hopkins and his conceit of things being instressed. Introductions were made and the typical work and other identifications shared.

Briana said to Douglas, "I go by my middle name too."

Douglas raised an eyebrow at this unexpected knowledge on Briana's part, "Witchy woman."

"Not really." She indicated his heavy id bracelet with the initials WDA by way of explanation as to how she knew Douglas wasn't his first name. "It really causes no end of trouble. Do you ever think of using your first name?"

"That's what they called me when I was a sprout. Not the best memories. I'd gone by a nickname for years that didn't fit any more. Calling me Douglas is Danny's doing." He looked at Daniel warmly. "Sort of gave me an opportunity to redefine myself."

Corinne looked briefly troubled, her gaydar kicking in and leading her to wonder if she was wasting her time on someone who wasn't built to appreciate her. Douglas looked down at her and gave her his patented heavy lidded leer and that was the end of that.