Author's Notes: This is pre-slash/slash. This is very much a humor story and should be taken as such.
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
Out of the all the damn places.
The great big wide Earth. It's friggin' huge. Seven continents. (Last time he counted, anyway.) Tons of cities and countries. It could have been anywhere.
Nope, out of all the places on this planet, it had to be Antarctica.
Antarctica. The last place he wanted to be.
No, no. Not Hawaii. Couldn't have been Hawaii. Or even the Bahamas. No sense sticking an outpost on a nice little beach somewhere, pina colada in one hand, some swell lass in the other.
Of course not. The Ancients had to pick Antarctica.
A knock on the door brought Jack out of his thoughts. With a snort, he motioned to the closed door, and cleared his throat.
"Yeah, come in."
Carter opened the door a crack, and poked her head through the small space. Her hesitance threw him for a loop, and he wondered if everyone was going to be walking on eggshells for a while, after his promotion and all.
Did he really have that much of a reputation?
"You can walk in, you know."
She smiled sheepishly and nodded, opening the door to enter. Then, she grinned, you know, one of those just-here-to-be-nice types of smiles, before moving to stand in front of his desk.
Standing a little too rigid, if you asked him.
"At ease, Colonel," he said, and had to admit, it sounded a little funny to his own ears.
She nodded, and breathed out. "I guess I am just not used to seeing you…here," she said.
"Well, I'm not used to being…here."
It was true. Really, he hardly ever spent any time in his old office. Now he was expected to be holed up in this office all day? What the hell had he been thinking?
"I'm sure you'll get used to it, Sir." Carter smiled softly.
Or was that a devious smile? Jack eyed the new Lieutenant Colonel suspiciously, which just caused her to smile more.
"What can I do for you, Carter?" he asked, trying to sound like he hadn't a care in the world.
"Well, Sir, I just wanted to see you off before your big trip."
Oh, yeah. Definitely devious. She was smiling even harder now.
"Sure you don't want to come?" he offered with a wicked smile of his own.
"Sir, as much as I would love to go Antarctica--"
"Lots of toys, do-hickeys, gadgets…" He grinned and raised his eyebrows, daring her. "You can't resist it. You'll be in heaven."
She pretended to think about the offer, but shook her head. "I'm sorry but I've already been to Antarctica, Sir. More than once."
"Yeah, we had fun!" He couldn't stop the tease once he got going.
"I'm going to pass, Sir."
"Do-hickeys, Carter. I said do-hickeys."
"I heard you quite clearly, Sir." She smiled. "Besides, Daniel promised me he'd bring me something back."
"Ah." Jack leaned back in his seat.
Of course he did. Daniel was worse than she was. And speaking of Daniel…
The linguist had sprinted off this base in such a hurry that Jack hadn't even seen him leave. Sure, Jack knew that to Daniel the icy, cold outpost would be like a candy store. Still yet another way for Daniel to push past the limits. But did he have to run off the base like it was the plague?
Was it so awful to be in the same compound as Jack? The two of them were buddies, compadres, something something…
Daniel seemed fine. He'd been right beside him the whole time on Thor's ship, and then back in Daniel's office where the four of them had talked, and then for Jack's promotion, Carter's promotion, a bunch of boring stuff, a few crises, and then he'd split.
Jack twisted at the corner of a file on his desk, feeling the ragged edges scraping his skin. Why had he just left? Work before…
Jack decided at another attempt to diffuse his mind. "Did I say do-hickeys?"
She chuckled. " I believe you did, Sir."
Well, contrary to popular belief, Jack wasn't as stupid as he looked, or sounded sometimes. That twinkle in her eyes, the spring in her step, her lack of getting orgasmic over the mere mention of technology…everything was blatantly clear to Jack.
He was about to call her on it, when he noticed the big guy standing in the hallway. Flashing yet another winning smile, Jack motioned with his hand for Carter to scoot over, and then beckoned Teal'c with his other hand.
Teal'c entered, bowing slightly, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Jack's gaze wasn't really centered on the smile, though, as he glanced upward.
Damn, it was going to take awhile to get used to the hair.
"I came to wish you well on your journey, O'Neill."
"What? Not coming?"
Teal'c remained calm, though Jack sensed something quirky under his smooth facade. "As honored as I would be to accompany you, O'Neill, there are other matters that are in need of my attention."
Sounded more and more like people giving him the shaft. "Oh?" Jack asked with a raise of his eyebrow.
Teal'c, the master of the arch, returned the gesture, but skimped on any explanation. Teal'c always was a grand spokesman.
"You sure?" Jack asked, pressing further.
"I am certain, O'Neill." Teal'c gave him the look. You know, the look that screamed end of discussion.
Okay, so it would just be him and a bunch of scientists in the snow.
"Well, all righty then. I suppose I have a plane to catch." Jack stood and smoothed out his uniform, studying his subordinates. They just smiled back.
What was with all the smiles anyway? He'd definitely have to take a look into that one.
So, they get to stay back and he goes to a frozen wasteland. What happened to being able to do whatever he wanted?
Breathing out, preparing himself for one not so fun trip, Jack motioned to the door with a grand sweeping gesture. "Now, if you don't mind…"
Carter and Teal'c got the hint. They moved out of his office and he followed them, closing the door behind him.
"Oh, and Carter?"
She paused. "Sir?"
"Tell Pete I said hi."
She blinked a couple of times, and moved to answer, but Jack beat her to it.
"And Teal'c, don't stay out too late with Ishta. Gate curfew and all."
Jack didn't even wait to see their expressions. Hell, they should know better with him being general and all, but he wouldn't let that fact spoil his fun. With a grin, and a hop to his step, he started down the corridor, humming to himself, and wondered just what he could do to make this the fastest trip ever.
Antarctic Outpost—Post Presentation
Okay, so that didn't go so well.
Jack tapped his foot on the ground, trying to regroup, thinking of his next tactic.
He knew, even before he's set foot onto the outpost, that there was going to be a problem. There was never not a problem. Antarctica was a problem.
Aside from the stupidity of the Ancients to build on this God-forsaken continent, and the stupidity of people who wanted to research on said God-forsaken continent, you can't rule out the genius factor.
Smart people are drawn to trouble. Therefore, Jack gets stuck in the middle.
Now, he wasn't just talking about the drone incident. Stuff like that was starting to be normal for Jack, sadly enough. So, it made his flight a little more interesting. Sheppard held up well and Jack was grateful for that. No need to get blown to smithereens not long after getting thawed. Nope.
But put yourself on a base full of scientists who have no other goal than to discover, research, explore, and plead for "the greater good of all humanity" and you get not only a headache, but also a battle royal.
Especially when the idea is too stupid for even these eggheads to understand.
One-way trip. Now, that's not too hard to understand. Jack understands it. Anyone with a friggin' clue understands it. But to scientists, do-gooders, and morally overdosed humanitarians one-way doesn't compute. Their eyes sorta just glaze over, and they look at you quizzically, as if you didn't understand the concepts of sacrifice and valor. To them, it's just another step on human evolutionary scale, and of course it will pay off. Even if they can't come back.
So, being the pragmatic and logical one in the "dances with clouds" group, Jack said no. No way. Not gonna happen.
His response? Oh, Daniel's little pissy look. The look that, for some reason, sets off every single good and bad thought in Jack's mind. All at once, he wanted to sit back and enjoy the emotional filled lecture as Daniel poured his heart out over a case he'd won minutes ago while at the same time reaching over and strangling the man.
Not coming back. What part of "not coming back" does Daniel not understand?
He reminded Jack of that first time, years ago, when Daniel did his first little demonstration. The guy had cracked the code to the Stargate, sending the military into a tizzy, allowing the formation of the first team through the Gate.
Daniel had flat out told West he could bring them home. Jack knew right then and there he was full of shit. Daniel wanted to go, wanted to explore, and wanted to validate his theories. It didn't matter what the cost. For the good of all humanity…The problem was that Daniel didn't always do what was best for Daniel.
But the bugger had figured out how to get them back. Jack gave him credit for that. But luck wouldn't always be on the good doctor's side.
No, if Daniel went on this mission, there was no guarantee he would come home. Not this time.
Jack was unsure that Daniel was willing to deal with that fact. Jack sure the hell wasn't.
Swallowing down the lump that had made an appearance in his throat, Jack mustered up the strength to continue, and pressed back all these weird strange thoughts that had decided to emerge out of the blue.
No sense just standing out in a frozen hallway. Time to head back into the lion's den.
Standing tall, Jack walked, or maybe swaggered, into the room behind him.
"I thought I told you to leave," came Daniel's hostile voice.
"I did." Jack opened his arms wide. "I'm back now."
"Wonderful. Come to gloat some more?"
Jack ignored him. Didn't Daniel know by now he wouldn't crack so easily?
"Actually, I came back to try and talk some sense into that thick head of yours."
"Oh, thanks for putting that so kindly."
"You're welcome." Jack frowned, watching Daniel shove books, do-hickeys, and paperwork into his bag. "Going somewhere?
"As a matter of fact, yes," Daniel replied, never bothering to look at Jack. "I am going to talk to Doctor Weir."
Ah, nice try. Not going to work.
"You forget Doctor Weir reports to me. If I tell her no, it's no."
"It's her expedition."
"Yup, and I have the final say. That is why I'm the general."
With a thud, Daniel slammed down a book.
"Oh, what, so you're going to try and pull rank on me?"
"General," Jack enunciated slowly. He pointed to his jacket, tapping it three times just for good measure. "I get to do what I want. I run Stargate Command."
"Yeah, you know, I'm starting to wish I hadn't given you that idea."
"Too late." Jack frowned this time, watching Daniel is his pursuit of packing. He really was serious. He wasn't letting up. But neither was Jack. "Daniel…"
"What?" The man was glowering at him. "What do you want me to say? I have been working very hard on this and now, now that we know what we have to do, and where we can go, and how we can do it, I am supposed to just let someone else go and see it?" Daniel shook his head. "That's just not fair, Jack."
Jack wanted to say life's not fair, but thought better of it. He settled on something else.
"You did the important part. You figured out the address and how to get there. Now, step back and let someone else try."
Those words seemed to placate Daniel a bit, but Jack knew this was far from over.
"The lost city of Atlantis. Do you have any idea how important this is?"
"I do. And that is why I am going to let Weir and her crew go."
"I am part of Weir's crew."
"Not exactly." Jack inwardly cringed seeing Daniel's cheeks puff out. He bit his bottom lip, formulating a rebound. "You report to me, Daniel. You are part of Stargate Command. All these other people aren't. You have to stay here."
"Why?" Daniel adjusted his glasses, causing Jack to nearly miss the smoldering look in his eyes. "This is one of the most important endeavors in the history of humankind. Just think about all—"
"Not with the humanity crap again, Daniel," Jack muttered, rubbing his temple. "Just stop. Look, I know you want to go, but the answer is no. You're not going. That's it."
"What about the language? I read Ancient, Jack. How many people do you know who can do that?" Daniel said, pursing his lips together.
So, Daniel was pulling out all the stops now. Desperate.
"They have some technology or something they can interface with the Ancient stuff. I think they're all set."
"The Ancients. This is a city of the Ancients." Daniel's voice was definitely rising, and the emotion that he was pumping out was setting Jack off in all the wrong ways. "Do you have any idea how important that is to me?"
"No, I don't," he admitted honestly. "But you did the whole Ancient track before and you didn't like it. We both know, and oh don't you dare make that face at me, that once you get there, and have your fun, you'll want to come back through the Gate. And you won't be able to get back to Earth. Then, you'll be miserable. And you'll develop some guilt complex. Why do that to yourself? Why?"
Daniel was certainly livid. He was so bristled, Jack thought he saw his hair standing on end.
"How dare you tell me what I think and feel!"
"Because I know you!" Jack shouted, shaking his hand at Daniel. "We've been through this how many times? You got curious on Abydos. You wanted to stay on Heliopolis. You didn't want to leave Kheb." Jack shook his head. "Daniel, you've tried this over and over again. Deep down, deep down, I know that you know I'm right. I know you're smarter than that."
Wrong thing to say.
Daniel glared at him, eyes wide. "Are you trying to say that all my pursuits have no meaning?"
"No," Jack replied, more bite to his voice than he had wanted. He was annoyed. Worse than annoyed, Jack was downright pissed. "Don't you put words in my mouth."
Daniel crossed his arms. "Then stop trying to dictate what I'm feeling."
And that was it. The two men just stood there, staring. Maybe they were just getting to old for this. Or maybe they had some other kind of communication that didn't quite need words to be heard.
Daniel was the first one to speak.
"I want to be able to learn more about the Ancients. Maybe learn more about what happened to me."
"I know," Jack said solemnly. He knew how much Daniel needed to understand his place, and why he had been sent back without any of his memory. "We'll figure it out, when the time is right."
"What…what if this is my only chance?"
Daniel's voice was only slightly above a whisper, but it cut through Jack just the same. He hated what the Ancients had done to Daniel, and he loved them at the same time for what they'd done for Daniel. Why couldn't the younger man just accept what had happened and move past it? He was back now, back where he belonged, and Jack wasn't about to let him go.
That realization shook Jack a little, giving him an uncomfortable feeling that rattled him down to his toes.
Needing Daniel here on Earth. Nothing wrong with that feeling. What unnerved him was that something else, something indescribable, and something far deeper was driving that need.
"What?" Daniel asked, obviously picking up on the subtle shift in his mood.
"Uh…" Jack wasn't sure how to continue. "Nothing. I was just thinking that you know, you'll have your chance. Just not this way."
Daniel sighed, and Jack knew if they continued, there was going to be another fight.
"Come on, Jack. This kind of mission. This is-is something I am perfect for. This is my life's work."
Jack rolled his eyes. "No, it's not. Egypt is your life's work. Stop getting all melodramatic. It's not going to change my mind."
Yup, here we go…
"I am not being melodramatic," Daniel said in a huff. "This is important. It's beyond you and it's beyond me."
"Right. Which means you stay here and they go there."
Daniel shook his head. "Why are you being such a prick about this?"
A what now? What had Daniel just called him?
"Excuse me?" No, he wasn't even going to let Daniel answer. "I said no, Daniel. You're staying here and that's final. We need you back on the base at Stargate Command."
"Why? What 'why?'" Jack asked, frowning. "Because I need you here. What, do I need to spell it out for you?"
"But why?" Daniel licked his lips, and started making nonsensical gestures with his hands. "I'm a civilian. There are plenty of other people that can work on my research. But this—"
"Perhaps you weren't listening. I said I need you."
"Yes, yes. I heard you." Daniel's last stand. The rapid movement, and the quick speech. "But what I am trying to say—"
Jack just blocked him out. No sense even trying to get through to Daniel until he was finished. If he wanted to be a blockhead and not listen to what Jack was saying, so be it. Jack was never good at this whole acknowledgement thing—it's always easy to make some off-color sarcastic comment than to compliment. The whole idea of even trying to compliment Daniel into staying felt a little off, and Jack didn't really want to dwell on it. Just a friend-to-friend thing. Man-to-man thing. Manly man-to-man thing.
So, Jack just waited, allowing Daniel to go on and on. Normally, he only feigned like he wasn't listening, but today he just wasn't in the mood.
Though he did notice he kept watching Daniel's hands, his long slender fingers, as they danced through the air, or he found himself staring at his animated face, the way his muscles contracted when he spoke, the way the passion sparked in his eyes.
Jack cleared his throat. Just what kind of research were they doing here?
He sniffed at the air, but was only welcomed by the cool fresh crispness of the Antarctic.
If that was so, why was he suddenly so hot?
"Jack? What are you doing?"
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Jack smiled guiltily at Daniel, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. In return, Daniel's face only became more pensive, and he crossed his arms over his chest, studying Jack crossly.
"So, you need me? You don't even listen to me!"
"No, I meant what I said." Jack began to feel a little out of place, shifting awkwardly in his spot.
"What I'm saying is that the SGC has linguists and archaeologists. I've been replaced before, you--"
Jack froze, his glare silencing Daniel immediately. Jack could tell the younger man was already sorry for saying what he said, but that did nothing, nothing at all, to curb the anger and the hurt pounding through Jack's body.
"You think that's funny?" Jack marched around the table, bringing himself eye to eye with Daniel. "You think it's funny to just pick up your stuff and walk away and not give a damn about those you leave behind?"
Daniel was speechless. Jack had actually made the linguist a mute.
Jack didn't take the chance to revel in his victory. Daniel had pushed all the wrong buttons, and he just wasn't going to tolerate it anymore.
"You think it's fun to run off without caring about anyone else?"
Daniel glared at him, not the least bit intimidated. "I am not running off."
"Then why'd you leave the base so fast anyway? What the hell scared you away? I am out of commission for a few months, and then you just split?" Jack snarled at him, grabbing him by his jacket, and pulled him close. Ignoring the confused look on Daniel's face, he continued, refusing to consider why he was so damn angry. "What, now that you and Weir can't run the show, you can't take it and you leave?"
Jack had never seen Daniel so hurt, horrified, and absolutely furious in all his life. The emotion that was etched in that stunned face was enough to make Jack want to run and flee. He wasn't sure if Daniel would cry, turn away, or just flat out deck him.
So, Jack did what any soldier would do in such an unstable predicament.
Jack kissed Daniel full on the lips.
He wasn't quite sure what made him do it. He didn't realize he had even done it until it was too late.
Without a word, Jack pulled back, blinking a few times, but managed to keep hold of Daniel's jacket. And Daniel?
Stared. Stared right at him, right into him. Jack would have never thought a person's face could truly turn the color of snow.
"What the hell was that?" Daniel finally managed to gasp, all in one breath.
Score one for the obvious.
A kiss. It was a kiss, dammit. He'd just kissed a man.
Daniel opened his mouth, but then changed his mind, closing it. He had one of those extremely brooding looks on his face again, making Jack none too pleased.
Or maybe a little too pleased. Jack shifted uncomfortably, feeling his heart hammering hard against his chest, his body throbbing mercilessly.
Daniel continued to gape at him, his eyes venturing lower, lower.
Daniel's eyes widened. "And that?"
"Oh, come on, we both know what that is."
Of course, Daniel knew what it was. Jack knew what it was, too. But why was it doing that?
What the hell? Why was it doing that?
Jack released Daniel, the younger man suddenly colder than the ice at the outpost. Daniel stared. Jack stared.
"Um, okay," Jack began, running his sweaty palms against his pants.
Jack forced a smile and took a step back, trying to find the right words to explain this huge misunderstanding. Finally finding the courage to say what he needed to say, he spoke.
With that, Jack ducked out of Daniel's makeshift office and bolted down one of the corridors of the outpost. He didn't care about the strange looks people were giving him. He tried to ignore the fact Weir had caught him and was quickly closing in on him. He had one sole purpose—getting off this base.
See? He knew coming here was a bad idea.
Antarctica was just a problem, no matter how you looked at it.
Weir just went off, talking about this and that, a basic rehash of everything he'd just gone through with Daniel, minus the kiss, of course.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Maybe the Asgard had messed with his head. Or maybe he had brain damage from being linked with the Daniel Jackson.
Jack nearly choked on the thought. That didn't make him feel any better.
Stop it, he told himself. Focus.
What had Weir just said?
Jack turned to her briefly, before returning his gaze to the elevator. "Sorry, Doc, I need Daniel here."
Not talking about Daniel? Damn, could he get the archaeologist off his mind for like ten seconds?
Okay, okay. He'd let Weir get what she wanted. He'd talk to Sheppard. Just so he could get out of this crazy messed up outpost and back to Colorado where the sun was shining and everything would be normal again.
Why wasn't it normal?
Jack paced through his kitchen, nervously running his hands through his salt and pepper hair. For days on end, he'd gone over every single scenario he could think of, anything to explain what had happened on the outpost, and effectively had worn the proverbial hole in the ground.
Mid-life crisis? Nope, he already had one of those with Carter. Was it possible to have two? He was a virile man. Maybe it was a one, two punch. Did that mean Teal'c was next?
Jack shuddered. Maybe he shouldn't touch the big guy so much.
Could have been a Goa'uld device? Or some other alien thingy? A virus. He must have caught some Love Potion Number Nine disease.
Asgard. Maybe when they'd cloned him, something went wrong. Or they screwed up big time when they took the Ancient info out of his brain. Some Ancient technology did this to him. Maybe the Ancients swung that way. Because, hell, he certainly hadn't been like this before now.
Well, come to think of it, there was that time…Oh, and then that other time…
Shit, what if this had started the first time he'd gotten sucked by that head-sucker?
Jack swallowed hard, ready to blow into full panic over how that thought made him feel.
"Alright. Alright, O'Neill, you're cool. It's cool. Nothing's wrong."
Breathing out, he headed for the fridge and pulled out a cold one. Snapping off the top felt manly, and he could do manly. Hey, besides, now he was "The Man." No need to get all freaked out over nothing.
Guys show affection. Football players tap each other on the ass all the time. He'd never touched Daniel's ass. Not any of those times. He'd never even admired his tight ass. Never.
Jack took a swig of beer.
Nope. Never. He'd never taken a peek at him in the shower or watched him lather up either. He'd never hung around to watch him work out. He'd never found excuses just to hang out in his office instead of bothering with his own. So, no, everything was fine. Everything was cool.
Jack brought the bottle down for a moment and stared at the wall.
Damn, he was so screwed.
Jack went for another swig when he heard the doorbell.
Now, if that wasn't a kick in the balls.
Dammit. Stop it, he told himself.
Jack took a moment to gather himself, calm himself down, before he sauntered over to the door. He was cool. He was manly. He was one hot stud.
With a grin, Jack opened the door and found himself nose to nose with Daniel.
Jack yelped, the most girlish yelp he'd ever uttered, and rushed to shut the door. But damn that man was just too quick. As if anticipating his move, Daniel wedged his foot in the door, preventing Jack from locking him out. Despite Jack's pressure on the door, Daniel pushed back, finally squeezing through the small space that separated him from Jack's domain.
"Impressive," Jack said casually.
"I'm used to fitting into tight spaces."
Jack nearly choked on his beer.
He wasn't going to look at Daniel. He wasn't going to try to answer.
"The pyramids…they have a lot of small crawl spaces…" Jack heard Daniel's trail off. "Are you okay, Jack?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm peachy," Jack replied, turning to face the younger man. Nice. It was that look. The I'm-mad-but-concerned-for-your-welfare-you-crazy-bastard look.
Daniel pursed his lips. "Did you, uh, did you want to talk?"
Jack eased himself onto the couch, grabbing one of his throw pillows and plopping it down on his lap. Nonchalantly, he took another sip from his beer bottle.
"You, um, sure you—"
"Nope. It was a mistake." Even Jack knew he sounded ridiculous. "Stress."
"So, you kiss when stressed? Or just happen to kiss people by accident?"
Ah, so he was all pissy again. Though, really, Jack couldn't blame him.
"Look, I think it's something to do with that Ancient technology thing," Jack mumbled, swinging his bottle, soothed by the rhythmic swish and swoosh of the beer inside it. "It must have crossed my wires or fried my brain or something. Sorry."
Daniel seemed to consider this, his face pensive as he crossed his arms.
"Oh, so you think the Ancients were gay?"
"No! Yeah." Jack shrugged. "I don't know."
"I'm not gay, Jack."
Jack's head bolted upright at that statement. "Of course you're not…" Damn, did Daniel think what he thought he thought? "I'm not gay. I am a man, Daniel. A big man."
Daniel blinked his eyes rapidly, that little twitch he got whenever he got nervous. Hmm. Jack decided he really needed to get a new line of vocabulary.
"Jack, someone's sexual preference doesn't change who he or she is," Daniel informed him.
"Oh, I know. But I'm not gay." Jack took a long swig of his beer. "I'm like that guy. You know, that guy."
"No, I don't know that guy." Jack noticed a tiny smile creep onto Daniel's face. "Something maybe I should—"
"Nah, nah. Don't you dare go there." But Jack found himself smiling back. Daniel was civil. He actually wasn't mad at him over the…incident? "You know, that guy from those videos. He had all those fine women in black behind him."
Daniel frowned and shook his head.
"Oh, for cryin' out loud, you are the most out of touch person I know." Jack sighed. "The guy with all the chicks. In the eighties. Robert Palmer."
"Robert Palmer. Addicted to love guy." Jack stared at him. "Come on, you got to know Robert Palmer."
"Sorry. Doesn't really ring a bell," Daniel admitted.
"How can you not know Robert Palmer?" Sighing again, Jack shook his head. "Grab the remote and come here. I'll show you how to be a real man."
Daniel stiffened—of course he would—and took a step back.
"Oh. Geez, I didn't mean it that way…"
Daniel didn't reply. He kept his distance, staring off into some other place for what seemed like forever, before he finally brought his gaze back to Jack. Slowly, he eased himself onto the couch, remaining as far away from Jack as possible.
Leave it to Jack to screw up a perfectly good friendship.
"Well, uh, Jack, if this is something alien, then why don't we retrace your steps and figure it out together, okay?" Daniel held firm, his gaze never wavering. "That way we might be able to find what could have caused your…behavior."
Well, spank him ro—No, nevermind that.
Bowing his head, Jack reached up and rubbed his temples with his free hand. After what he'd done, Daniel was still being nice. Still being Daniel. Trying to help. He didn't deserve this.
"I can't do this, Daniel. Not after what I—"
"No, it's okay," Daniel said softly. "I'm not mad. Well, there's the fact that you kissed me…" Jack shot him a glare. "But, truth is, I wasn't really acting, well, proper."
"Don't be guilting yourself already."
"No. No, it's true. I wasn't very respectful and I apologize. I'm surprised you didn't smack me."
Jack leaned back, staring into those open and understanding eyes. Yup, Jack was in trouble.
"I wouldn't have smacked you," he said, feeling a little hurt by the comment.
"No, you just kissed me instead."
Silence came between them. Again.
Jack shifted uncomfortably, shamed by the compassion and the unease he found swirling around in those eyes. He'd betrayed a trust; he knew that. He'd violated that some…thing that was between them. That same thing that they'd worked so hard to establish, had lost, and had finally begun to rebuild. And now it was going to be gone. All over again.
Jack turned away, and shook his head. He couldn't believe how stupid he could be.
He didn't jump when he felt Daniel slid next to him, nor did he push him away. Sighing, he closed his eyes, taking the moment to relish the warm of Daniel's hand as he massaged his shoulder tenderly.
He knew then that this was a bigger problem than he'd first assessed, and he'd be damned if he knew how to fix it.
"It's not alien technology or some virus, is it, Jack?"
Jack didn't answer right away, keeping his eyes closed, and his mind as far away from this unfolding disaster as possible. Finally, he opened his eyes and stared off into the distance.
"No," he admitted, both to himself and to Daniel.
Suddenly, the hand was gone.
Jack gathered the strength to sit taller, and brought his gaze to Daniel. Surprised, he noticed Daniel had walked away from him, standing alone in the center of his living room, with his head bowed low, his hands hidden in his pockets. For all intents and purposes, Daniel looked like a little lost soul.
"You know," Daniel began, cutting into the silence, "you've used a variety of tactics to get your point across before. We've fought. We've debated. But this…" Daniel's voice trailed off causing Jack to frown. So much pain, so much grief in his tone. "I didn't think you'd sink that low."
His words were enough to shock Jack back into his normal sense of control. His frown deepening, he tossed the pillow aside and placed his beer bottle on the floor.
Low? What the hell?
Daniel still refused to face him. "I've tried my best. I thought I had done well…hiding it. I-I never thought you'd use it to exploit me like that." His voice dropped down a notch. "I was really hopeful it was some alien influence."
He…wasn't really implying what Jack thought he was implying…
"You think I would just do something like that to make you stay?" Jack wasn't sure whether to smack him upside the head or…He cleared his throat. "What do you mean, hiding it?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Jack," Daniel muttered frostily. "Just be honest with me. How did you find out? When?"
This was all going a little too fast for Jack. He shook his head, bringing his hands to his temples, wondering if maybe he was dreaming or hallucinating.
Daniel had a thing for him.
Daniel. Had. A. Thing. For. Him.
Daniel had a thing for him?
"Whoa." Jack held up his head, knowing full well Daniel couldn't see him with his back turned anyway. "You got a thing for me? You? You have a thing for me?
Whipping around sharply, Daniel brought his shocked gaze to meet Jack. Then, that shock quickly turned to horror, and Jack was afraid Daniel would bolt and run.
No kidding. It was plain as day. Daniel had a thing for him. When the hell had that happened? Hiding it? He…
"That's why you left the base so fast, isn't it?" Jack stated more than asked, realization hitting him like a sack of bricks.
Daniel shamefully bowed his head, dropping his gaze to the floor.
Months of worrying. Months wondering if Jack would be okay, as he lie in stasis in that pod. Daniel had done everything he could for Jack. He wouldn't allow the Asgard to damage him. He wouldn't allow the government to awaken him, which would have led to his death.
Weir had told him all of this. Jack had been touched, feeling that he and Daniel were finally back on track.
He hadn't seen beyond that.
So now, burdened with that knowledge, Jack knew that kiss was much more devastating than he first imagined.
And despite it all, those feelings, those strange silly thoughts that had flooded Jack these past few days, hell, these past few weeks, only seemed to intensify knowing how Daniel felt.
"I didn't want to lose you again," Jack found himself blurt out.
Puzzled, Daniel cocked his head, as if the thought was too complicated for even his mind to comprehend.
"Lose me? Jack, I—"
"You stayed on Abydos. There was that whole deal with Nem. Then, you were gone on Apophis' ship." Jack breathed out, finally spilling everything that had been trapped so long. So very long. "Other missions, you know. Then, there was Kelowna. I just-just couldn't—"
Daniel took a step forward, mouth open.
"Look, I just couldn't let it happen again. Call me selfish, but I can't do it."
So there. He'd said it. He unburdened himself, finally. Maybe it had been there all along. Maybe it hadn't. It didn't matter. He didn't know what the hell to think. But one thing remained above all this confusion: He cared about Daniel and nothing or no one would take him away anymore.
Daniel took another hesitant step forward, his face crunched up in thought, before he ventured farther. Soon, he was right there, right in front of Jack, his body ridiculously close.
Daniel Jackson was always once to test the limits.
Just like Jack.
With a shaky hand, Daniel was the first to make a move. He placed his hand on Jack's cheek, and slid it down to his neck, finally bringing his gaze to be almost level with Jack's.
Jack hated to admit it, but he was getting that nice tingling feeling again. So, guess that little outpost incident wasn't a one-time event.
"So, do you--?"
"Have a…you know…for you?" Jack finished for him.
To be truthful, he wasn't sure. All this was too weird for him. He's wasn't gay. He was as straight as they come. So, he had a little affection for Daniel. That happened. You spend time with someone for so long and they sort of grow on you. And Daniel, well, Daniel, he'd saved his life on more than one occasion so that meant something.
"I, uh, I—" Jack rolled his tongue around in his mouth, not having a clue on where to go with this. "Well, I'm straight, Daniel. Air Force man. I like women."
"Me too," Daniel said quickly.
Jack cleared his throat, a little unnerved by Daniel's presence, his heat, so close to his body.
"So, you, uh, ever—" Jack made a motion with his hand between the two of them.
"No. No. You?"
"No. Not at all."
Daniel nodded. "Oh, okay, so we're—"
Jack scratched the back of his neck, lacking the right words to say for the situation. How exactly do you tell your friend you get hard-on's from him? And how do you even approach the subject of two straight men gawking at each other like teenagers?
Jack dealt with it in the best way he knew how.
"Well, this is awkward," he said sarcastically.
The comment brought a snort from Daniel.
"Yeah, I didn't really think-think it would be like this."
"You've actually thought about it?"
Daniel blushed. "Well, sometimes. You know…No, you wouldn't know."
Jack arched his eyebrow. They were still standing in front of one another, Daniel's hand on his neck.
"You got yourself some fantasies there, Doctor Jackson?"
Daniel gave off a dissatisfied snort. "I'm human. It's not my fault. You never keep your hands to yourself."
"My hands?" Jack looked down at his hands. Okay, yeah, he'd established already he liked to touch. He liked touch. It was nice. And yeah, okay, so he touched Daniel a little more than he should. It's not like he made excuses to touch Daniel or anything. Or maybe… "So, you like my hands?"
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Are you attempting to flirt with me?"
"No. Well, no." Jack took a step back and motioned to some nonexistent…thing. "And if I was you're pretty lousy at it, breaking the fun like that."
"There are other ways to have fun, Jack."
Whoa! Jack blinked at Daniel. Maybe it wasn't Jack who was under alien influence, after all. Daniel was gazing at him and looked positively sultry.
"You shouldn't flirt if you don't have what it takes," Daniel said with a wicked smile.
"This coming from the master, I take it?"
"Well, I am a linguist. I am quite skilled with my tongue."
Now that sent another jolt down to the happy place. Damn.
Jack pointed an accusing finger at Daniel. "You're doing that on purpose!"
Daniel shrugged. "I had to lighten the tone somehow."
He was right, Jack realized, hearing the solemn tone to Daniel's voice. They were in some pretty deep shit, with neither of them really having an idea what they were doing. Hell, they'd both just pretty much confided that they were having some repressed, denial-laced feelings they really shouldn't be having. Not only that, now that they knew, the feelings hadn't gone away, obviously. What would happen to their friendship? And what about the regs? Daniel did report to him.
Jack caught himself, nearly losing his balance. What had he just been thinking? The regs? He wasn't actually considering taking this any further, was he?
Shocked, he looked up at Daniel who had been waiting patiently while Jack had retreated into his mind. Daniel appeared equally as confused, but his face softened as he gazed gently at Jack, almost as if he could read his mind, and had privy to all his thoughts.
Both touched and disappointed—he knew that look on Daniel's face. Smiling softly, he took a few steps back and headed for the door.
"Where ya going?" Jack asked, feeling a sharp pain in the bottom of his gut.
"Home. I need some time to think."
"Thinking is overrated, you know," Jack called after him, quickly heading to the front door to intercept Daniel.
"Just like talking?" Daniel asked with a smile. "Anything not overrated in your book?"
Jack shrugged. "Don't know. Got to check the manual."
That at least caused Daniel to chuckle. But the moment was over quickly, and he became serious again. "Jack, this is a lot for me to take in all at once. I'm sure it is for you, too. You need some time to think. Think about all the pros and cons. Think about the regulations."
"And since when did you follow orders, anyway?" Desperate, he was throwing everything he had. "And didn't we just do the pros and cons thing?"
Daniel offered him another weak smile. "Goodnight, Jack. See you on base tomorrow."
"Yeah," he replied, feeling defeated. "Tomorrow."
Jack took a moment to watch him go, and then closed the door. The weight of the night proved too much, and he slumped against the wall, staring off into space as he allowed his thoughts and emotions to catch up with him.
Daniel had a thing for him. Jack had a thing for Daniel. How the hell was that even possible? For how long?
Both too stupid to say anything. Both too frightened to act. Both unable to acknowledge their feelings until it was always too late.
It took Daniel losing Jack for him to come to grips with his feelings. And it took losing Daniel a half a dozen times for Jack to realize his.
Jack was just about to stalk off to his kitchen and finish the entire six-pack when a soft knocking at the door startled him.
Automatically, Jack reached forward and opened the door, surprised to see a rather flustered Daniel Jackson waiting for him.
"I had some time to think," Daniel said quickly.
Jack blinked at him. "Damn, that was fas—"
Not a chance to finish. Daniel was on him, clutching him like he'd go out of style. Jack easily returned the passion, surprising himself as he parted his lips, allowing Daniel to explore his mouth. When Daniel eased up slightly, Jack dove in, tasting Daniel, all of Daniel, his sweetness, his richness, the way his lips, his tongue tasted of smooth…
"Chocolate?" Jack asked, breaking off abruptly.
Daniel stared at him. "Chocolate?"
"Chocolate," Jack confirmed. "You ran off and ate a candy bar?"
"Well, I tend to eat chocolate when I get nervous," Daniel said, his cheeks flushed.
"Huh." Whatever floats his boat. "Does chocolate also help your brain process info faster or something?"
Daniel glared at him, and pulled that poor suffering look.
"Maybe I just think faster than you."
"I always knew you were a quick study."
Daniel grinned again before pulling Jack into another kiss. "We should…we should probably go slow, though."
Jack nodded. Made sense.
They both nodded this time, standing in the foyer in front of Jack's door, each one occasionally stealing a glance to the side as they contemplated their next move.
Jack spoke first.
Jack allowed himself a smug smile as he lie on his back, staring at the ceiling above him.
So, the night had been an interesting one. No other way to explain it.
Jack O'Neill. Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. Tons of experience under his belt. Did his time in Black Ops. Flown in several conflicts. Had a great run through the Stargate.
Jack O'Neill who didn't know jack about what to do with a guy in bed.
Okay, they'd tried "passionately" kissing under the covers in the dark. That had landed their noses in each other's eyes, and Daniel's glasses had snapped off and tumbled somewhere under the sheets. While Daniel tore his bed apart searching for them, Jack managed to bump his knee on the dresser by the bed. This of course led to much cursing, and Daniel, surprised, shrunk backwards and thwacked his skull against the headboard.
No blood, thankfully, but that sort of took away the romantic mood they'd tried to establish. Daniel spent the rest of night wincing, while Jack spent his time whining. They'd decided that maybe slow really was a good idea, since basically, the two of them were the sorriest guys on the face of the planet. They were new to this, weren't entirely sure about their feelings, confused, and stunned. No amount of instinct could outweigh that mess.
So, instead of pursuing anything, Jack offered Daniel to stay the night, especially after whacking his head, and Daniel had agreed. So where did that leave them?
Daniel sleeping on his side, next to Jack, wearing some spare pajamas he kept lying around, and Jack was awake staring at the ceiling.
Quickly boring of how many spots he could find on the ceiling, he shifted onto his side, and settled on watching Daniel sleep. The sound of his breathing, the sight of his chest rising and falling softly, comforted Jack, just as it had on many occasions in the past, off-world, when they'd shared a tent.
Though, this time was different. Both good and bad. It made him wonder why they'd never explored this option before.
Were they really that blind?
Without hesitating, Jack reached over and touched Daniel's cheek, lightly brushing his fingertips down the strong jawbone.
It felt…weird. Jack found himself both enjoying the new sensation, and also repulsed by it, wondering just where that left him in the sanity department.
Blue eyes opened and Daniel smiled at him.
"Sorry I woke you," Jack said softly, quickly withdrawing his hand.
Daniel held onto the smile. "S'okay."
"How's the head?" he asked, clearing his throat.
"Fine. It's not my first sexually related accident."
Now this was intriguing.
Daniel shook his head into the pillows. "No. Once, Sha're and I, we…well." He closed his eyes for a moment, a soft smile touching his lips. Jack had started to wonder if Daniel had fallen back to sleep, but before he had enough time to decide how to react, Daniel had opened his eyes again, this time his gaze much clearer. "These beetles crawled into our bed right when I was, you know," he said shame-faced. "I…well, I was shocked and jumped, knocking over the nearby candle and burned my, um…" He chuckled before his voice took on a solemn timber. "Sha're laughed about it for months."
Jack smiled, reaching over to squeeze Daniel's shoulder. "She was a special woman, Daniel."
He nodded, his face open with both the memory and the sorrow. "She was."
The last thing Jack wanted was to disgrace the memory of Sha're any more than he wanted Daniel to belittle his time with Sara. But he knew it wouldn't happen. The two of them had suffered similar kinds of losses, both having lost people they loved. They would take it slow or they wouldn't do this at all.
"What's going to happen to us?" Daniel asked, now fully awake.
"You mean my command, the regs, all that?"
"Don't know." It was an honest reply. He sure the hell didn't know. He was still trying to get past this whole "feelings" part. "This was sorta a surprise for me."
"I know," Daniel said with a sigh. "For me too. I don't…go for men, Jack. I didn't understand any of this. But then when you were gone, it…"
He nodded again.
"You know, people talk about us anyway, so it's really no big deal."
Daniel snorted. "Oh, that clears it all up, then."
Jack rolled his eyes and withdrew his hand. He couldn't believe he was going to suggest this but…"If we do decide to take this further, you know, we'll have to figure out how to kiss without getting hurt."
"That would entail research," Daniel mentioned with a grin.
Jack laughed. "Lots of research?"
"Active participation. Hands on."
Jack rolled closer to Daniel, grinning broadly. "I like your style, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel seemed pleased with himself, scooting a little closer to Jack, bring his pillow with him. "I'm thinking I would like to take this further," came Daniel's muffled voice from his pillow.
Me too, he admitted to himself, not as shocked or creeped out as he was before. It would take some time, some work, and some consideration. But the payoff? He grinned.
"Sounds like a plan. But you know what that means?"
"It means that you've got to stay here and not run off again. Not to some outpost. Not to Atlantis. Not to…"
Jack thought he caught a glimmer of amusement from Daniel. "I'm not going to die again. And besides, I already decided on staying."
Jack pulled back. "When?"
Daniel shrugged, adjusting himself as he moved closer to Jack. "Oh, some time after you reminded me how I bore easily."
"Then why didn't you say something then!"
"Because I was angry and I didn't want to hear it," Daniel answered simply.
"Dammit!" Jack shook his head, but he had to admit he wasn't really angry. No, Daniel was staying. Staying here with him and that was that really mattered.
Daniel chuckled. "Don't dwell on it too much, Jack. Just got to keep you on your toes. Besides, we're needed at the base tomorrow to start preparing the Atlantis teams. Get some sleep."
"Damn," he whispered, but with a smile. Then, without another word, he rubbed Daniel's arm with satisfaction, and the two of them drifted into the best sleep they had had in what seemed like a lifetime.
The Stargate shimmered with life, the event horizon glistening with the ripples of activity.
Jack stood tall, watching as Colonel Sumner and Dr. Weir headed toward the Gate, just moments away from stepping into a whole new world.
He made eye contact with her and knew. This would be an important journey. Yes, Daniel was right. This was big, bigger than him, bigger than any of them.
This was important.
And hopefully John Sheppard understood that as well.
But for Jack, now, other things were important, more personal matters, matters of the heart.
Through the corner of his eye, Jack caught sight of Daniel watching eagerly, his body stiffening as he watched the personnel begin to file through the Stargate.
That spark of life in Daniel, his need to learn, to explore, to feel the pulse at the center of the universe…that would never die. As they stood here now, watching their fellow friends and companions leave, Jack knew Daniel's doubts were returning, and that incessant itch had come to claim him again.
"Jack, it's not too late for me—
"I-I can just grab my—"
He didn't press any further after that. Jack knew it was going to be a helluva time in getting Daniel to realize this decision—their decision—was for the best, and that he truly belonged here.
The newness would wear off in a few days and Daniel would be glad he had remained. Jack was sure of it. He knew deep down, Daniel knew this too.
Humanity did have hope. With the combination of the Stargate and Atlantis teams, one day, something would change.
But for now, things were okay.
He smiled at Daniel and Daniel smiled back.