Jason paced back and forth in his small office, having given up on reading. He’d been going through the field reports from other teams, keeping up to date on all the information that was available to the SGC. As leader of SG-2, it was his responsibility to be aware of ongoing situation reports. Sitreps. But today, it was impossible; worry was robbing him of his usual focus. Daniel was in trouble.
It had been three days since Daniel joined SG-11 on a dig. SG-1 hadn’t been scheduled for any missions so Jack had authorized the temporary assignment. The unadulterated excitement Jason had witnessed in Daniel’s eyes had been worth seeing, at least at the time. But eight hours ago, SG-11 had called in, having aborted their mineral and archaeological dig after being attacked by Goa’uld gliders.
Via MALP audio, there’d been the sound of weapons’ fire and demands for the iris to be opened so they could come through. Seconds after Hammond’s authorization, glider weapons’ fire had zipped through the wormhole, hitting the blast walls and main window. There’d been little damage but the scorch marks and holes had served to back up SG-11’s sound of alarm.
When the team appeared through the event horizon, Daniel hadn’t been with them, and when the wormhole had shut down because no one else had been traveling the matter stream, the message was made quite clear: Daniel was missing. In Jack’s view, as well as his own, he’d been left behind.
At the time, Jason had been supervising the installation of the new armory on Level 12, so he knew nothing of what had happened until Jack, Sam, and Teal’c had hunted him down.
“I thought the planet had been surveyed!” Jason had exclaimed.
Teal’c had assured him that what had happened was not a situation that could have been foreseen by reconnaissance protocol. A ship had come into orbit, presumably to look for old naquada mines, and there was no way to detect it without sophisticated sensors, something the SGC did not use on missions, archaeological or otherwise.
The fact that gliders had appeared first told Teal’c that the Goa’uld were using their own standard protocol, which meant the Hatak vessel would stay in orbit for routine mine search, or it would land if it needed to resupply water. Tel’tak’s took too long. If it landed, it would be located several miles from the ‘gate. In any case, gliders would be sent on recon after personnel were beamed down to secure the gate for emergency escape of their Goa’uld, should another show up and contest their presence. SG-11 and Daniel had been camped only fifty yards away from the DHD and the attack had forced them to make a run for it, leaving their equipment behind. Before Jason could ask, Sam had explained what they thought could have happened with Daniel.
“According to Major Caruthers, there are deep, vertical fissures created from long-dead volcanic activity. The landscape is scarred with them. Major Caruthers thinks that Daniel may have been knocked into one while dodging glider fire. The Major said that he himself had nearly fallen in one on the way to the ‘gate.”
There had been no immediate rescue mission due to the Hot Fire conditions and an unknown number of Jaffa, but to Jason’s and Jack’s relief, Hammond hadn’t been prepared to leave it at that. He’d called the Groom Lake facility to request the new armed UAV with its remote targeting system. The only problem was that the computer system hadn’t been finished and that it would take some time to get it done, never mind the hours it would take for transport from Nevada to Peterson.
So, for the last eight hours, Jason’s attention span had been in the toilet. At least, for the mundane things. The non-emergency activities. He knew it possible to lose loved ones, knew that this was bound to happen one day to him, but there was knowing a thing and experiencing a thing. He was fully capable of performing his duties and getting the job done, regardless of what was happening in his personal life, but right now, he was being tested. Pacing in his office, he suddenly stopped in the middle of the room, telling himself repeatedly that Daniel was fine. Problem was, it was an emotional wish, not a logical certainty. Now, fear was rising.
“Fuck this shit,” he growled at himself. He couldn’t tolerate his own thoughts any longer. He needed back-up. A slap upside the head. And there was only one person who could do that. Leaving his office, he was at Jack’s door before he knew it. Knocking, he received a curt, swift reply.
Jason quickly entered and closed the door, then turned to find Jack standing before his desk, staring at something on the surface. After a long minute, he finally looked over his shoulder and gave him his attention. The look on his face was so calm, it was almost indifferent, and all that did was piss Jason off. He wanted to yell at him, tell Jack he had no business being calm at a time like this. But he reminded himself why he’d come to him in the first damn place.
Besides, yelling would have done no good. One, Jack never reacted well to people yelling at him. Two, theirs was a new relationship, which meant that it was probably not the best time to test how well Jack would react to being yelled at by someone he’d slept with, even if he understood why. And three, this was how Jack dealt with crisis, so he had to back the hell down.
“It’s been eight hours,” he said, then swallowed anxiously.
Jack ground his teeth and walked over to him, placing a hand on Jason’s shoulder and squeezing. “Don’t go there. Daniel’s resourceful. The man has more lives than a cat.”
“We’ve been cooling our heels for eight hours,” Jason persisted. “Waiting for that goddamn UAV setup. Hit me. Shove me. Start a fight. I need something.”
Jack glared at him, not liking the uncertainty in Jason’s tone. “You listen to me. Don’t you dare think he’s not coming home. Don’t you dare.”
Jason flexed his jaw as he ground his teeth, then finally nodded. “I’m not thinking that. I’m … trying not to think like that.”
“Try harder,” Jack growled.
Jason sighed and walked past, plopping himself down in the chair by the desk. “I need you to tell me it’ll be fine. I’m going crazy with this waiting shit.”
Jack walked over and sat on the edge of the desk next to him. Jason looked up and Jack leaned over, touching his shoulder again but this time, he squeezed firmly. “He’s going to be fine. Hear me?”
Jason silently nodded, but averted his gaze to look instead at the framed photographs on the opposite wall. Jack felt the tension of Jason’s body under his hand and it reminded him how much Jason loved Daniel. It wasn’t that he hadn’t known it beforehand, but he simply needed to be reminded. It wasn’t the kind of love where you were able to hold your feelings in check when bad things happened. It was the kind of love where you went insane if that person died, where you’d risk everything to get them back. Failing that, you self-destructed.
Jack understood that very, very well because he felt the same. The only difference between him and Jason was the way they processed emotion. Their experiences taught them to deal with crisis and grief. He didn’t know how Jason’s went, but his own culminated by Charlie’s death. Back then, when the pain had still been raw, he’d been ready to commit suicide. It scared him to realize that Jason might just react the same way if something happened to Daniel.
At that moment, Jack was hit with the overwhelming urge to take away Jason’s fears, to reassure him with something other than comforting words. The strange thing was, the only thing that came to mind was something he’d never have imagined doing for him, and certainly not in his office. But things … well, they were different now.
Since Daniel’s birthday a week ago, they’d spent a lot of downtime hours together, more since Daniel had gone offworld. They were getting to know each other, but there was more to it than that, and not just because of the sexual intimacy shared with Daniel. Because of Daniel’s uncanny foresight, Jack was beginning to grow fond of Jason, certainly more than he’d expected.
During Daniel’s absence especially. Alone at home, there’d been times when Jack hadn’t been able to get Jason out of his mind, thinking of words the man had spoken, at the sparkling challenge in his eyes whenever he had been teased about something. Sense memory made Jack remember the tingling warmth underneath his fingers whenever he’d touched him, and especially in intimate areas. It had also made him feel good when Jason had responded positively to his touch or his voice. It was that recollection, that knowledge, which prompted Jack’s unusual decision now.
“Get up,” he said, surprising them both. Jason got up and Jack put his arms around him. Jason immediately returned the embrace, hugging him tightly. “He’ll be okay. Just repeat that. He’ll be okay. He’s come back from the dead so many times, it’s spooky.”
Jack pulled back to look at him, to make sure Jason knew how serious he was. Then just as sudden as the hug had been, he reached over and slid his hand behind Jason’s neck and leaned in. His lips parted. Jason’s parted. And he sought out his tongue. When Jason closed his eyes and gave it to him, Jack closed his.
For Jason, that surprise was more shock than anything. He’d come expecting stoicism and found something else entirely. His heart beat rapidly, partly from instant arousal, and he cupped Jack’s head in his hands. He knew what the man was doing and he appreciated it. So much so that he had no intention of stopping it. Yes, his mind whispered. I need this. It was a welcome escape.
The kiss was long and sweet, and he couldn’t help but allow his body to respond accordingly. The longer the kiss went, the more his desire climbed, and he wanted Jack to push him onto the bed, to wipe his worry and fear away for just a few minutes. Just fuck him hard and raw and … he breathed through his nose, restraining the moan that nearly escaped. He didn’t dare reach for Jack’s groin, for that delicious cock that lay hidden beneath, but it didn’t stop him from wanting it.
Meanwhile, Jack was surprised by his own reaction. The lust between them was different from his lust for Daniel and he kind of expected that. But the notable difference here was that Jason was new. While being with Daniel was also new, those were desires he was familiar with. He wasn’t used to feeling this way for someone else, someone who elicited new feelings that were seductive and addictive. Perhaps that was why he kept thinking of Jason. He knew that their relationship revolved around Daniel, but their desires no longer did. He couldn’t help his growing … love? … for Jason. Was that what really lay under the lust? Was it? What surprised Jack most was that he never thought that he’d need Jason’s warm embrace as much as Jason appeared to need his.
He felt his arousal climbing very quickly and before this went too far, he had to step away from it. But the kiss continued. With Daniel gone, was it fair to seek comfort with Jason? It felt as if they were cheating on Daniel, even though he’d made his feelings clear on the matter: you’re not cheating. Perhaps it was because Jason had the ability to wind him up as easily as Daniel could. It made them separate but the same. Two boyfriends.
Jack slowly pulled back, sighing at the look of arousal—and wind-up body language—that he’d created.
“I want more,” Jason said. “But that kiss was nice.”
Jack nodded. “But don’t you feel like we’re …?”
“Cheating?” Jason asked, giving Jack a wan smile. “It’s one thing when he says it. It’s another thing to do it. I mean, when we were together, he’s around. But now he’s not, it’s just … different. It’s not bad. It’s just … odd?”
“Unfortunately, I agree,” Jack agreed, and hating the disappointment that they shouldn’t continue. “Besides, on base, during an emergency. If we should be called right in the middle of …”
Jason bit at his lip and stepped back in, deliberately sliding his hands around Jack’s waist and up his back. “I’m taking a huge risk doing this and it has nothing to do with regs or being called in the middle of something.” He swallowed, staring into Jack’s dark eyes. “I want this.”
“You …” Jack began, but instead of going through this with words, he kissed him again, loving the touch of Jason’s hands on his back and the heat between them. He wanted to push him on the bed, open his trousers, pull Jason’s down, and just take him like that. “How fast can you come? With no lube? And we need a towel, and I don’t have one. Plus, this room? It’s small, and the scent we’ll leave will be stuck to our clothing.”
“Shit,” Jason said, stepping out of his arms.
“Yeah,” Jack said. “I had a great image in my head though.”
“So, did I.” He cleared his throat. “Even sucking each other off would leave a scent.”
Jack’s eyes widened. He hadn’t even thought of that. Wow. Was his mind tangled or what?
“Mind if I ask you a question?” Jason asked.
“You’re kidding, right?” Jack asked, gesturing between them, referring to what they’d just been doing.
Jason smiled briefly. “How long do you think it’ll be before we start thinking of each other the same way we think of Daniel?”
Jack shook his head. “I have no clue. I just hope it doesn’t take years.”
Jason groaned. “It won’t for me. When I go all-in on something, I go all-in. No half-assing it, you know?” Jack nodded, but said nothing, and Jason didn’t know if he was agreeing because he felt the same or agreeing because he understood what he meant. When he didn’t seem forthcoming, Jason decided to move on. “Listen, for what it’s worth, you succeeded in making me feel … well, not better, but …”
Jack grinned back and reached out to briefly palm Jason’s cheek. “I get it.”
Jason cleared his throat, wishing Jack would have left his hand there. “And now I’m back to worrying.”
“He’ll be okay,” Jack told him, feeling the need to say it.
“Or we’ll both kill him.”
“It is, a little,” Jason said, trying to make Jack smile.
It worked, even as Jack held up his thumb and forefinger, indicating an inch apart. “About this much.” He suddenly grew more serious, but it was a different kind of focus. He palmed Jason’s cheek, then swallowed as he pulled his hand away. “Besides. First time it’s just us, I don’t want to be in a hurry.”
Jason closed his eyes and nodded, swallowing hard. “I can’t get the image of having you on top of me, over my back, and …” He groaned and turned away, shading his eyes as he flushed.
“God, we need to get out of this office,” Jack said, and he went for the door.
Daniel woke up with the most excruciatingly painful headache he’d experienced since being on the receiving end of a Goa’uld hand device. His head was pounding and there was a gut-churning sensation of vertigo. He opened his eyes and found himself upside-down at the entrance to a crevasse. That explained the vertigo and the headache. His left ankle was caught in a mass of twisted roots and upon quick evaluation, knew that the roots had saved his life. If it hadn’t been for getting his foot caught in their grip, he’d be lying dead at the bottom of the fissure. He didn’t bother trying to figure out how far down that was because he couldn’t bloody see straight. His glasses were missing.
The weight against his back told him his pack was still attached, but instead of being good news, it was hanging off-balance and the strap buckles were digging into him, adding more pain. Plus, its precarious angle might break those goddamn roots. There was wet heat at the back of his head and when he cautiously reached back to feel, he found a wound there. Judging by the caked stuff matting his hair, it felt like the bleeding had stopped, which was bad. Head wounds took a long time to coagulate because the blood vessels were tiny and near the surface.
He couldn’t remember how the head injury had happened, but surmised it happened when he’d fallen. He’d have gone head first, then slammed against the crevasse wall when the roots caught his foot. He squinted, gauging the light, and once more hated the blurriness of his sight. He sighed, knowing the eye clinic would start calling him by his first name. “But that’s not important right now, you dumb shit,” he grumbled to himself.
Sighing with resignation of his situation, he ordered himself to remain calm even as he wondered why the hell he wasn’t dead. It wasn’t due his not falling. It was due to the staff weapon missing him that had made him fall. Now all he had to do was figure out how to pull himself up. If he could. He’d have to, or shout for help. Jesus, Jack was going to be mad, coming after him again. Although this time, he’d hopefully be mad at the Goa’uld, not him. It wasn’t his fault that fissures were everywhere. Now, he had to help out with that and find a way to get himself righted. Providing he didn’t pass out once he’d started moving.
He squinted up at his painful ankle. Judging from the weird angle, it looked broken. “Oh no.” He couldn’t feel it yet, but he would the minute he tried to move it. Gritting his teeth, he tried to grab hold of the roots—and thank all the damn gods they were green—but they tightened around his ankle and a nerve-shattering pain lanced up his leg and over his spine. He let out an involuntary cry of pain and grunted through the red spots that appeared before his eyes. A sharp wave of dizziness and nausea washed over him and he took in deep breaths. Stilling himself, he knew he couldn’t pull himself up. The pain would stop him, never mind the roots.
Daniel forced himself still, one hand on his head, the other over his stomach, and waited for the vertigo that engulfed him to pass. It wouldn’t do his head any good to throw up. He carefully looked around for something secure to grab hold of but there was nothing. He didn’t dare try to twist around and look for other roots. There was no telling how firmly the roots around his ankle were grounded. The only solution, it seemed, was to call for help.
“Help! Somebody! I’m down here! Help!” As the pain and nausea returned, making him think twice about yelling further, he froze, wondering …
“Shit,” he whispered, berating himself. If the Jaffa hadn’t left, and weren’t far away, he may have just signed his own death warrant. But maybe being out of this crevice would give him a chance. “Help!” One way or another, he had to get out of this crevasse. He really did not look forward to dying this way. Jack and Jason were going to kill him for making them worry.
The sick joke made him laugh and pain zinged through his head. “Shit.” Still, it was funny. They wouldn’t actually kill him, but just using the words made him laugh as he continued to shout his distress to whoever might be listening. He knew it was absurd, to laugh and yell for help at the same time, but the situation itself was ridiculous. He was hanging by his foot, hoping Jaffa would find him. It couldn’t get any funnier than that.
Daniel’s voice was getting hoarse from shouting. “Dammit! Somebody! Anybody! Get me out of here!”
Then he heard voices and sounds of running, all of them getting closer. Then came the clang of armor and the distinctive dialect of the Jaffa.
“Shit,” he sighed with resignation, closing his eyes briefly.
The Jaffa arrived at the entrance to the crevasse and looked down. They started laughing.
“Oh, ha, ha,” Daniel said.
More laughing, but it was mixed with orders. A few minutes later, a rope was thrown down and a Jaffa rappelled into the hole to take a closer examination. Daniel gave him an intense look of sarcasm–which was about all he could muster at the moment. The Jaffa smirked back and called out that they’d caught a member of the Tau’ri. Daniel wanted to tell him that they’d found him, not caught him, but thoughts of correcting them were sharply cut off when the Jaffa tied another rope around both of his ankles, then cut the vines. As he was hoisted out of the crevasse, Daniel tried to bite off the screams, but he couldn’t. The last thing he thought about before passing out from the pain was that he should have stocked painkillers in his med kit.
Just before Jack grabbed the doorknob, his phone rang.
“O’Neill,” he said, eyes on Jason. “We’re on our way.” He hung up and grabbed his jacket. “Let’s get geared up. The UAV rockets are here.”
“‘Bout fuckin’ time,” Jason muttered as they ran out of the office. “Hang on. Plural?”
Jack waited impatiently in the Control Room while the computer-controlled UAV painted its targets. Behind him stood Teal’c, along with Jason’s team, SG-2, and Major Griff’s SG-6. Sam took her seat next to Sergeant Davis and missile one had already been launched. After receiving telemetry, it was directed to take out the Jaffa contingent around the gate.
“Mind the DHD,” Jack reminded her.
“I know, sir,” she said.
Jack sighed heavily, hoping to God that Daniel’s RDF signal hadn’t been turned off or disabled, or that Teal’c was right and the Jaffa wouldn’t have held him at the gate. If they were wrong, if Teal’c was wrong, then they’d just killed Daniel Jackson.
“Carter, are you sure the sensors didn’t pick up an RDF signal near the gate?”
“Positive, sir. And aside from being able to receive radio signals, the new telemetry sensors attached to the missiles are specifically designed to differentiate electrical signals from multiple lifeforms. Goa’uld and Jaffa have a very distinct signal and humans without those signals stand out.”
“And you’re sure it reads those human signals?”
“Yes, sir. The only time the signals fall off the grid are when the subjects are out of range.” She paused, chewing at her lip. “Okay. The targets near the gate are dead. DHD is intact. Right now, we’re no longer receiving any signals around the gate. Daniel wasn’t among them, sir. I’m reading a human life sign about five hundred yards away.”
Sam pointed at the terrain map that was redrawing itself on the computer screen: neon green on a black background, resembling an old-fashioned computer game. There were four blinking triangles and one blinking square.
“Five hundred yards south-southeast.” She pointed at the triangles. “Those are Jaffa or Goa’uld. The square is Daniel. I hope.”
“All of SG-11 came back, Major,” Hammond said.
“Yes, sir, but the Jaffa may have slaves with them.”
“Slaves?” Jack and Jason said at the same time.
“Slave rings have been detected by the Tok’ra,” Hammond told them.
“The sensors can’t tell the difference between Jaffa or Goa’uld?” Jack asked Sam.
“No, sir. They’re designed to pick up on biological isotopes created from naquada.”
“Won’t do much good on Chaka’s planet then,” Jason commented.
“No,” Sam said, “but those symbiotes aren’t a threat until they come out of the water. Once a Goa’uld has spent time in a sarcophagus, the naquada imprints on their DNA.”
Hammond nodded and redirected the conversation back to the computer screen. “Is there a possibility that the UAV missed another squadron of Jaffa, other than those four?”
Sam glanced at Jack before answering. “It’s possible, sir. The missile’s sensor range is limited to one and a half kilometers.”
“Hang back on the second missile,” Hammond told her. “Send the MALP.”
“Yes, sir.” She told the personnel in the gate room and the MALP began to roll up the ramp.
Jason nervously tapped his fingers on his P-90 and Major Griff was about to tell him to knock it off when Sergeant Davis’ voice cut through the room’s tension.
“Here we go,” Davis said. Four seconds later, an orange picture was transmitted until Sam changed the camera output. It cleared. There were no Jaffa. Live Jaffa.
“Readings?” Hammond asked.
“Send the next missile.”
After it went through, Sam waited on the telemetry, well aware of the nervous people behind her. Soon, the telemetry readout came through. “To the west, sir. Two klicks. Twenty-five Jaffa. Maybe a Goa’uld.” She looked up. “The Jaffa who have Daniel are heading in that direction.”
“Send the coordinates and fire on that squadron,” Hammond instructed. Sergeant Davis pressed the signal button and they watched on the screen as a large circular green spot landed on the left side of the screen and expanded for a few seconds before it disappeared. The screen then went blank since the missile was no longer sending telemetry.
“One of these days I’d like to see the end result of that thing,” Jack grumbled. The others nodded their fervent agreement and Jack looked over his shoulder, eyeing Jason for a brief second before returning his attention to the screen.
Sam turned in her seat and gave Hammond a nod. “Area appears to be secured, sir. We can launch the second UAV for recon.”
They had to wait another ten minutes for the UAV to be loaded and fired, then it zipped through the gate. Ten seconds after that, it was broadcasting.
“We’re clear, sir,” Sam informed him. “At least for the present time.”
Hammond nodded at Jack, Jason, and Griff. “Go.”
“Yes, sir,” came the echoed reply. Already dressed and properly equipped, the teams moved quickly into the gateroom, up the ramp, and with SG-6 on point, they disappeared through the event horizon.
Daniel was awake and mad as hell.
He lay on his back, four Jaffa standing over him. One of them had a hold of his injured ankle, trying to get him to talk. It was bad enough that they’d pulled him up by his feet, but now his head felt ready to explode. If they expected any sort of cooperation, never mind polite responses, they were going to be gravely disappointed. Torture didn’t result in answers, only desperate lies.
Daniel screamed again, and fire shot through his body, followed by waves of nausea, and the only reason he wasn’t throwing up was because there was nothing in his stomach. Didn’t stop him from dry heaving, but he’d be glad to toss up bile if it landed on the Jaffa. Unfortunately, if their convenient form of torture kept up, he’d pass out again and the fine points of vomiting would no longer be an issue.
“You wanna know why I’m here, you parasitical assholes?” he spat through gritted teeth. “Here’s why.” Then pain or no pain, he swung his uninjured leg up sharply, connecting the side of his foot with the thigh of the Jaffa holding him. It brought that Jaffa down on his ass and gave Daniel something else to scream about as his foot dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. He rolled onto his side, tucking his injured foot behind him for protection, all the while thanking Jason for teaching him that kick.
His thanks evaporated as he was given a sharp kick in return–one straight to the ribs. His field vest protected him slightly, but as he doubled over and felt the fire in his chest as he breathed, he was certain they’d fractured a few. He lay very still, deciding that being healthy to fight later would be a better strategy, and he untucked his injured foot because that strategy was backfiring, and the goddamn thing was going to make him vomit again. The Jaffa on his ass got up and told the other three to pick Daniel up and carry him to the ship. They were speaking a slightly different dialect, so Daniel wasn’t sure he’d heard them correctly, but he’d understood enough. He’d also caught “our god” and “our lord” and shit, that got old.
His wrists had already been bound while he’d been unconscious and that was apparently secure enough for them since he was unable to walk. The biggest Jaffa hauled him to his feet, then threw him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Daniel tightened his stomach muscles, grit his teeth, and squeezed his eyes shut as the movement brought every pain back in overwhelming fashion. Tears welled up, but they dried so after as the thought of letting them see stiffened his resolve. Not one goddamn sound, Jackson. Screams were one thing. Crying, silent or not, was another.
One hundred yards or so behind him, Daniel thought he heard the familiar whoosh of the gate’s wormhole, but wasn’t sure. The pounding in his head was making hearing problematic. However, he was sure when he heard another whooshing sound – only this one was high-pitched and mechanized and very, very familiar.
“Yay, but please don’t hit us, please don’t hit us,” he said in a mantra. He’d had a chance in the past to see the missile from a UAV test fired and he though he hadn’t been all that grateful then, he was now. Except for the fact that it might hit them. Hopefully, it was aimed at the probable Jaffa contingent at the gate. Despite the pain, he craned his head around to see, looking upside-down, and thought he saw a trail of smoke climbing into the sky.
“Uh, you might want to run,” Daniel said, speaking in the Goa’uld dialect he knew very well. The Jaffa behind him blinked at him, partly in surprise at his use of the language, and partly wondering why this human was daring to speak to them. “Tau’ri missile,” he further emphasized. They still didn’t react – until the missile came down in a thundering explosion that shook the ground and scared the shit out of his kidnappers.
The explosion did what Daniel’s warning did not: It made them panic. He was unceremoniously dropped, and he cried out in pain, wishing he had a weapon to strike out with. He’d lost his sidearm down the crevasse, but he’d left his combat knife in his pack. The damn thing had been in the way. With a self-berating sigh, Daniel silently vowed that he’d never do that again. One of the Jaffa had taken it, though, and tossed the pack aside. It was still around somewhere. And useless. Well, maybe not … Stop woolgathering you idiot. Just because you have a headache and can’t think clearly …
Around him, the Jaffa were shouting, and he decided to take advantage. He tried getting to his feet, but his head prevented it with a nasty case of vertigo. He hadn’t done anything more than push to a knee, but now he was on his stomach. His ribs hurt but he could still breathe, telling him that they were probably just bruised. His ankle was severely broken, however. It hadn’t been, but the Jaffa had changed that during the torture. If he was very lucky, he wouldn’t have a limp when it healed. Of course, he had to get home first.
His attention was drawn to the sound of the second missile and all he could do was lie on his belly, cover his head, and pray the damn thing wasn’t heading for his position. When the ground shook to the east of his position, he was thankful because it was away from where the stargate stood. Breathing a sigh of relief, he began to crawl toward it. There was no way in hell he’d wait for the rescue teams to come find him. When he crawled over a sharp stone, he ended up cutting his tack vest. With a thought, he ran the rope around his wrists against the sharp side and managed to cut one segment. He then picked up the rock and tossed it aside, then worked the binding off. There was no way he was risking cutting one of his wrists open. He gently rubbed his wrists, wincing at the bruised skin, abraded in a few places. It stung badly, but he was able to move better. It was a snail’s pace, given the ever-increasing pain in his head and the extreme throbbing in his ankle and foot, but at least he was moving.
Since the Jaffa weren’t coming after him, he knew they’d hi-tailed it back to whatever vehicle had dropped them off. Unfortunately, it didn’t mean they were gone. They were going back to report and either get reinforcements or leave. The latter wasn’t likely. Snakeheads didn’t leave unless they were outnumbered. Until the Tau’ri had ships, that wasn’t going to happen. Right now, his rescuers didn’t have long and neither did he. He tried to speed things up, but the pain was blinding him. Going faster was not an option.
He slowly pushed his right foot into the ground, propelling himself forward with assistance from his forearms. Slow and steady wins the race, right Jackson? He stifled a laugh because it would cause pain, but it was clear that he was far beyond tired. Where was that second wind that some people talk about? He’d felt that once, a long time ago during a dig in Guatemala. Running from bandits was never fun. Funny how he was still doing it.
Daniel had only crawled fifteen feet by the time he’d heard voices and boot heels on stone. He tried to focus but that was a useless effort. He only saw blurry figures running in many directions. One of them was in his. He wanted to yell but his radio crackled, reminding him that he didn’t need to.
“SG-1 Leader to Daniel Jackson, come in, over.”
Jack’s voice: irritated, angry, and very controlled. It never sounded so good. Closing his eyes, Daniel turned over and keyed his radio. “Hundred yards, south-southwest.” His throat was dry and his voice ragged and he wished his canteen wasn’t as lost as his glasses. “I need water. And a stretcher.”
“On our way,” Jack replied.
Daniel reached up and waved, or tried to, hoping they would see him, but he had to stop the motion almost immediately. Pain shot through his chest, over his shoulder, his neck, and combined with the headache he already had, making it worse. He rolled over, his forehead hitting the dirt, and waited for the vomiting to start. He took deep breaths to try and forestall it, and it sort of seemed to work, but now black spots and white squiggly lines were dancing in front of his eyes. He froze, knowing that if he moved again, he’d black out. He thought he heard familiar voices, but they were muffled, as if his ears were blocked. He looked up and thought he saw Teal’c. His peripheral vision told him someone flanked left, parallel to him, and his heart soared with gratitude, then panic, when he recognized the running gait: Jason.
He smiled with giddiness but didn’t dare laugh. My boyfriends have come to rescue me. “Idiot,” he mumbled to himself. “You’re worse off than you thought.”
Teal’c was soon beside him, kneeling on one knee. “Are you injured, Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel couldn’t help it. “No, I’m fine. I’m just resting. How’re you?”
“I am fine,” Teal’c grinned, but his eyes communicated his worry. “You are not fine.”
Daniel grimaced. “No. Get me the hell out of here before those Jaffa come back.”
“That would seem wise,” Teal’c agreed as he holstered his zat and bent over, reaching between Daniel’s legs, and grabbing hold of a wrist. His intention was to pick him up in a fireman’s carry, but Daniel grabbed the arm between his legs to stall him.
“Careful. Bruised ribs, bad ankle. Concussion. If you run with me over your shoulder … I’m gonna pass out.”
Teal’c pressed his lips together. “I will be as careful as I can. We cannot wait for a stretcher.”
“Okay,” Daniel said and grit his teeth as Teal’c picked him up. Jesus, the man was strong and … everything happened rather quickly after that, yet it seemed like an eternity. The pain in his ankle was relegated to second place as the pounding in his head vied with his ribs for First Place. As the pain grew worse and dizziness returned, Daniel was sure that he’d pass before they got to the ‘gate. Perhaps it would be for the best, but he tried to fight it anyway, concentrating on his breathing as Teal’c had taught him to do a few years ago.
As Teal’c closed in on the ‘gate, Daniel’s caught movement to their left: the blurry image of a Jaffa getting up from the ground. He held a staff weapon, aiming it to fire, and though Daniel judged him to be about thirty yards away, he didn’t want to take the chance.
“Teal’c, to your left!”
“I see him,” Teal’c answered, but he didn’t stop. “Can you reach my zatnikatel?”
“Already on it,” Daniel said, reaching down between them toward Teal’c’s thigh.
“Be careful,” Teal’c said, trying not to lose his grip.
“Understood,” Daniel replied as he plucked the zat from the holster, then brought it up behind Teal’c’s hip, aimed, and fired repeatedly. Blind. Even if he’d had a clear line of sight, his blurred vision would yield nothing.
In his peripheral vision, Teal’c knew that Daniel hadn’t hit his target and at that moment, Daniel lost his grip on the weapon. “O’Neill! Major Carter!”
“Got him!” Jason called out, closing in behind them. He fired his P90 one-handed as he reached down to scoop up the zat Daniel had dropped. “Keep going!”
They passed the DHD, and Griff was there, having already dialed home. “We are there, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c told him as he ran up the steps and through the event horizon. Upon reaching the other side, Teal’c had to drop low to evade incoming Jaffa fire but he didn’t stop until he was down the ramp. A medical gurney was waiting to the left and he quickly deposited Daniel onto it.
“Thanks,” Daniel grimaced tightly.
“Injuries?” Janet asked.
“Broken ankle, concussion, ribs maybe.”
A corpsman was already inserting a needle into his arm as Daniel looked toward the ramp, waiting for Jack and the others to materialize. His heart was in his throat for ten seconds, then they were through—diving in. “Thank god,” he said.
“Can’t leave you alone for a minute, can I?” Jack said, coming over to check on him. He ran his hand through Daniel’s hair in a gesture of reassurance but pulled it back with a wince. Blood was on his fingers and he tilted a bit to look. His head wound had probably started leaking. “Ah. Crap. Doc, head’s bleeding.”
“Yeah, sorry,” Daniel replied, eyes beginning to close. “Could someone get the lights ‘cause I’m gonna puke and dance—” He passed out.
Janet gave Jack a reassuring look. “It’s the pain, Colonel.” She turned and ordered her corpsmen to get Daniel to the infirmary and was on their heels as they complied.
“Well done, people,” Hammond said as Jack walked over to him, brushing off the dusty debris from the ground explosions.
“Piece of cake, sir. We brought our boy home.”
“You did indeed. After Doctor Fraiser’s given us medical clearance, we’ll need to debrief him. In the meantime, I’ll need your informal report in an hour.”
Jason came up alongside as they made their way out of the gateroom and toward the elevator. “Don’t let Daniel hear you calling him ‘boy’ or you’ll catch seven kinds of hell.”
Jack nodded. “At least I’ll be able to catch hell for it.”
“Ha, you’ll be grateful for about two seconds,” Jason said, allowing himself a sigh of relief.
Daniel opened his eyes slowly and found his left leg in traction, held up at the calf with his foot in a cushioned, toeless boot. He looked around, trying to focus and realized that he was in one of the private rooms. No doubt Janet’s doing. Jack wouldn’t be prone to career-ending PDAs but there was no telling what Jason would do.
Daniel sighed, wishing they were around. His throat was dry. Looking down, he found the usual IV, but when he tried to turn his head, an immobilization collar prevented it. His eyes widened with alarm just as Janet entered the room.
“Nice to see you’re awake. How’re you feeling?”
“Don’t know yet,” Daniel replied. “Why’s this collar on my neck?”
“Don’t worry, Daniel. Your neck is fine. But you’ve got some swelling on the back of your head from the deep cut there and I don’t want it pressing against a pillow.”
“Brain swelling?” Daniel asked, alarmed.
“Oh no. If that were the case, you’d be in a coma.”
He winced. “So just …” He tried to reach back but she stopped him.
“‘Fraid so,” she nodded, “It’ll heal within a week. Your ribs and ankle will take a lot longer.”
“Broken?” Daniel asked.
“Your ankle is, and the muscles over four of the ribs on your left side are severely bruised. You’re lucky.”
“I don’t feel that way right now.” He closed his eyes as a sharp pain glanced off between his brows and zipped around to the top and back of his head. “Could I get some sunglasses? Or maybe you could dim the lights?”
“From one to ten, 225.”
She turned the overheads off. “Better?”
“Thanks,” he said, sighing with relief.
“Here,” she said, and pressed a button attached to his IV. “For the pain,” she said, holding it up for him to see. “It’s in tiny doses. Don’t overdo.”
A few moments of silence, then he heard Janet say, “You gave us quite a scare.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He wished he could see her, but she had to come right up to his bedside.
“Not your fault,” she said, brushing back his hair from his forehead. She mopped his brow.
“Am I sweating?”
“A little. I think it was the lights, but you have a bit of an infection in your ankle. In twenty-four hours, the IV should bring it down.”
“Antibiotics?” he asked. She nodded. “How long am I gonna be out of commission?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“Six to eight weeks.”
“Shit,” he said, staring at the ceiling. “I fucking hate the Goa’uld. And Jack’s gonna be pissed.”
She smiled tenderly at him. “He knows and he’s fine. I gave him and the General a report on your injuries.”
“He knows, too.”
Daniel sighed. “Good.” She frowned at the readout machine. “What?”
“Temp’s gone up a degree. Damn infection.” She left the room and called for someone. Two nurses showed up. “Get me another bag of epee and increase the antibiotic drip.” Turning to Daniel, she added, “Don’t worry. We have it handled. As for your recovery, you’ll be on medical leave. You’re not going to be on light duty.”
“Oh come on, Janet,” he complained. “I have to do something or I’ll go insane.”
She grinned. “I think the General is going to authorize a network hook-up on your laptop so you can work from home. But that’s not going to happen until you’re able to walk around. That’s not happening for a few days.”
Daniel growled, then cleared his throat, twice. “Could I have some water?” She nodded and poured him some ice water from the plastic jug on the nearby table and he sighed with relief. “Thank god it’s not ice chips.”
“No chips,” she grinned, then held her index finger in front of his face. “Follow with your eyes, tell me if you get any pain or dizziness,” she said as she moved her hand slowly forward, going from right to left and back to center. “Yes,” he sighed, his voice tight. “Fuck.”
“That’s the concussion, and it’s expected,” she said with a hand on his shoulder. “Nurse,” she said, and the woman went on the other side of the bed, near Daniel’s head. She had something in her hand. Janet reached under his neck and undid his collar, but she held him there as the nurse placed a roll there. “Now,” Janet said. “Follow my finger very slowly,” she said, and watched his eyes. Daniel’s head swam and it was obvious in the dilation and movement of his eyes. “Okay.” She sighed. “Inner ear. We can’t get that fixed until the swelling goes down. Then we’ll get someone from physical therapy to tip you upside down. Sort of.”
“What?” Daniel asked.
“Haven’t you ever had an inner ear issue? With your allergies?”
“Not that bad,” he said. “Especially since the medicine you had me on, they’ve been managed. Maybe it’s the concussion causing it.”
“No maybe about it. It is. But as I said, we have to wait until the swelling goes down. Nurse?” The did the procedure again and the collar was put back on. “If it doesn’t clear up in forty-eight hours, you’ll be staying here until it does.”
Daniel didn’t say anything. He simply closed his eyes. “Food?”
“Barely tolerable,” she teased.
“Janet,” he scolded.
“Anything you’d like, within dietary reason.”
He managed a grin. “So, no surf ‘n turf?”
“Not in here,” she winked. “You’ll make the staff jealous.”
Staring at the sling holding his leg up, he swallowed and reached under the blanket to his groin. No catheter. “Thank Christ.”
“Oh yeah. Besides …” She moved to a supply locker and pulled out a few pillows. Moving to the end of his bed, she carefully removed the sling and propped his leg up instead. “There. This’ll be easier.”
“For?” he asked.
“No catheter means you get the pan or the walk.”
“The walk, Janet. Even if I have to crawl.”
She stared at him very seriously. “If you promise not to do that, I’ll leave a walker for you to use. But call a nurse or corpsman to help.”
“Promise.” He sighed. “Thanks for not putting in a catheter. The muscles are a bitch to retrain.” He focused his attention on his foot. “How is it, really?”
“Broken in four places and the tendons are ripped. If you’re healed in less than eight weeks, I’ll be very surprised.”
“I have to be.”
“You may not be.”
“But I have to be. Jason’s birthday is in six weeks. I made plans.”
“Which reminds me, Daniel. Don’t overdo when you get home, or you’ll have a setback. And I mean your ankle. You won’t be able to do anything too strenuous for a while. If you get my meaning.”
Daniel swallowed down the blush of embarrassment. “I kind of figured that out.” Changing the subject slightly, he asked, “Can I at least have visitors till I get out of here?”
“Of course, you can,” Janet answered and glanced at the doorway. “In fact, you have a horde out there waiting to see you.”
“A horde?” he asked, his face full of surprise.
“Your teammates, Jason, and General Hammond.”
Daniel made a face. “Hammond wants a report, doesn’t he?”
“I’m afraid so. Think you can handle it? Takes concentration and your head won’t want that.”
“I’m a bit slow.”
“That’s to be expected with any head injury and I’ve already told the General not to press you. If you’d like, I can bring your recorder.”
“No, my head’s not that bad.” He sighed, staring at the door. “You’re not going to restrict my visits with Jack and Jason, are you?”
She shook her head, then grinned. “No, no reason to. Besides, they’d find a way in here anyway.”
Daniel grinned. “The one advantage of the infirmary.”
She narrowed her eyes at him with mock-severity. “A very narrow advantage.”
With a smile, she headed for the door. “I’ll send the General in first.”
He nodded, but wished Hammond could have left the questioning till tomorrow.
Outside the room, Janet came face-to-face with five worried people.
“How’s he doing, Doctor?” Hammond asked.
“He’s got a little swelling on the back of his head from the laceration, which caused the concussion he sustained. Four of his ribs are bruised and that field vest he wore probably saved them from being broken. His left ankle, however, is severely broken. Daniel’s going to be out of commission for eight weeks, at least. If he’s lucky.”
The General nodded. “May I see him? I need to get his mission statement.”
“Yes, sir. But with his concussion, don’t press too much. Plus, he’s just been given some pain medication, so his thought processes are slowed.”
“Understood,” Hammond replied, then strode into Daniel’s room, followed by Jack.
Turning to Jason, Sam, and Teal’c, Janet added, “After the General’s finished, you can go in, but don’t stay too long.” She placed her hand on Jason’s arm and gave him one of her gentle smiles. “He’s going to be fine.”
“Thanks, Janet,” Jason said softly, and after she walked down the hall, heading toward her office, he turned to Sam and Teal’c. “You guys, uh, should probably go in first. I’ll wait.”
Sam frowned at him. “Why?” She glanced around to make sure she wouldn’t be overheard. “He’ll want to see you first.”
Jason crossed his arms and leaned against the wall opposite the door. “No. I’ll just wait and …” He suddenly looked around, feeling the urge to leave.
“Don’t,” Sam said, recognizing the flight response. She’d seen it many times before, with the Colonel, Teal’c, herself, Daniel. Now Jason. They all cared deeply for each other and hated to see each other hurt. The pain and worry would come after they knew the person they cared about was okay, and then came the desperate need to run like hell, to deny the emotions because they hurt so much and didn’t want to have them repeated. “Don’t hurt him by running away.”
Jason blinked at her, hating how she had just as much experience as he did and that she’d call him on it instead of ignoring it as Jack would do. “It’s hard,” he said to them both. “I don’t know what I’d do if …” He swallowed, hard, then gestured at the door. “Just go in and see him first. I promise I’ll stay here.”
Sam held up her hand, pinky crooked. “Pinky swear?”
He started laughing and grabbed her pinky with his own. “Swear.” After he let go, he asked, “But tell me. When did we turn twelve?”
She snorted. “Made you laugh, didn’t it?”
Jason chuckled as he nodded. “Nice, Sam.”
“I thought so,” she grinned broadly.
Jason looked over at Teal’c. “She ever do that to you?”
Teal’c looked at Sam, then lifted his chin. “Fortunately, no.”
“Well at least now you know what it means,” she grinned.
“Indeed,” Jason and Teal’c said together, making her bark out a laugh before covering her mouth.
The moment Jack entered the room, Daniel was filled with guilt and relief. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“Forget it,” Jack replied as he circled the bed and stood on the right side, opposite Hammond.
“Doctor Jackson,” Hammond greeted.
“Thanks for the rescue, sir,” Daniel told him with a wan smile.
“You’re welcome,” Hammond said with a thin-lipped smile.
“Daniel, what the hell happened?”
Hammond glanced at Jack, throwing him an admonishing look. “Major Caruthers gave us his report, Doctor Jackson, and Doctor Fraiser explained your injuries. Now, I’d love to wait until you’re feeling better, but I’m afraid I can’t. I need to know what happened.”
“You might need these,” Jack said as he pulled Daniel’s spare pair of glasses from his chest pocket and set them on his stomach.
“Thanks, Jack,” Daniel replied, touching them but not picking them up. He sighed and grimaced slightly. “Okay, where should I start?”
“Why SG-11 left you behind,” Jack snapped, evidently still angry.
“Colonel,” Hammond said, sighing. He looked at Daniel. “How did get separated from SG-11?”
Daniel closed his eyes as he felt irritated by the tone. “I didn’t trip and fall, sir.”
“I didn’t think you did, Doctor, but a preliminary report must be filed.”
“Besides, you’re not a clumsy idiot,” Jack added.
Daniel smirked at him. “Thanks.”
“Okay, so, Major Caruthers and his team were heading toward the gate. I was right behind them and …” He furrowed his brow, thinking back. When he spoke again, his sentences were short and carefully pronounced, as if he was describing a scene in his head that he could just barely make out. “I veered. To my right. To avoid the edge of this fissure. Two staff weapon blasts exploded on my right, then two more right behind me. The ground shook, I lost my balance and …” He looked up at Hammond. “I didn’t trip, but I did fall, right into the fissure.”
Hammond nodded sympathetically. “And then?”
“I don’t remember falling in the crevasse. Just what happened after I woke up. I was upside-down, hanging by my ankle which somehow got caught in a mass of roots. I had no idea how long I was out, but I figured you guys would start a search. So, I called out for help, hoping you were nearby.” He flashed a brief, painful smile. “The Jaffa got there first. Pulled me out. Broke my ankle trying to question me. My ankle, I think, had only been fractured or sprained, but after that. Fuckers.” He blushed. “Sorry, sir. I started puking. They decided to haul me off to their master since I wouldn’t tell them anything, but your little missile show put a stop to that.”
“Did you recognize which Goa’uld they served?” Hammond asked.
Daniel shook his head. “They had a symbol on their foreheads that sort of resembled a fleur de lis, but I can’t be sure because my glasses were missing. And they used a slightly different Goa’uld dialect. I caught one word in … five or six.”
“Perhaps Teal’c could help you identify them,” Hammond suggested.
“I’ll tell him about it, see what we can figure out.”
Hammond nodded, then let out a sigh and patted Daniel’s shoulder. “Glad to have you back, Doctor Jackson.”
“Thank you, sir,” Daniel answered, thinking of what he’d be doing the next eight weeks. “Janet said I could get a network hook-up at home?”
“That’s right,” Hammond replied with a sympathetic grin. “I know you hate being away from your work for an extended period of time, and quite frankly, we can’t do without your expertise. The work won’t be the same and it’ll be on a limited basis, but it’s all we can do until the Doctor clears you for light duty.”
“It’s appreciated, sir.”
“I’ll take my leave now,” Hammond told him as he headed for the door. “If you need anything …”
“I’ll tell Jack. Thanks again, sir,” Daniel answered.
The moment Hammond was gone, he barely had a few seconds alone with Jack before Sam and Teal’c came in. He smiled at his teammates, but was puzzled by Jason’s absence. “Where’s Jason?”
“Waiting outside,” Sam said.
“Why?” Daniel drawled, a frown appearing on his face.
“I think he’s worried about showing too much emotion in front of us,” Sam said, not bothering to mention the problem Jason had almost created.
Daniel didn’t get it. “That’s absurd. What’s really going on?”
Sam cleared her throat as she glanced at Jack and Teal’c. “Could you both keep Jason company for a moment?”
Jack frowned and looked at Daniel for clarification, but when he received a shrug, he sighed and headed for the door with Teal’c. After the two of them stepped out of the room, Sam gave Daniel a grim smile.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“I didn’t want to say anything in front of the Colonel,” Sam said hesitantly.
“Because Jason admitted something to me and Teal’c only because I guessed.”
“Sam,” Daniel said impatiently. “Whatever it is he admitted, Jack would probably know about it anyway.”
Sam made a face. “Maybe. But you know how people keep secrets, even in relationships. Particularly people like the Colonel and Jason.”
“Just spit it out,” Daniel told her.
“Jason’s afraid to see you.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open with shock. “What? Why?”
“You know when someone we love gets in trouble and that scares the crap out of us because we’re afraid of losing them?”
“Yeah,” Daniel said, frowning.
“And you know how we sometimes run away to avoid feeling that kind of pain?”
Daniel sighed heavily and closed his eyes. “He’s so … I can’t believe he’d even want to do that.”
“Me neither, but I recognized his body language, Daniel, and told him to not even go there.”
Looking at her, Daniel reached out, offering his hand, and she took it. “Thanks. I wish you hadn’t been able to read him correctly.”
“Because then he wouldn’t be feeling that way.”
She smiled thinly. “Oh. Me too. But it is what it is.”
“Yeah,” he said, sighing again. “Okay, this shit’s gotta be straightened out first or I’ll get even more stressed out.”
“Meaning you want us to come back later?” she asked, brow arched.
“It’s not a problem,” she said, laying her hand on his arm. “We get it. Me and Teal’c, I mean.”
Daniel nodded. “Come back later?”
“Bring your chess board,” he added with a grin.
“Feel like getting beat?”
“Sure, why not,” he replied drily.
She smiled and bent over to kiss his cheek. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Me too,” he answered with an embarrassed smile. When she started for the door, he said, “Tell Teal’c I’m sorry. I just need to straighten this shit out first.”
“He knows, Daniel,” she said, then smiled. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Me, too. Although my foot disagrees.” To his satisfaction, she opened the door and kept it open as she pointed inside the room. “He wants you both. Teal’c, we’ll see him later.”
When Jason appeared, frowning at her as he stepped into the room, Sam held the door open until Jack entered the room too, then gave Daniel a nod before she shut the door, leaving them alone.
Daniel sighed, his focus on Jason. “I’m fine, see?”
Jason lost the confusion on his face and traded it for a grimace as he stood at the foot of Daniel’s bed. “She told you.”
“What’s going on?” Jack asked.
Daniel lifted his brows. “Jason?”
“I wasn’t going to–” Jason began.
“Don’t!” Daniel said, warning him not to lie. “Ow,” he said, holding his head. “Don’t make me yell at you.”
“What?” Jack asked angrily.
With a hard swallow, Jason crossed his arms defensively. “I got scared, Jack.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, expectantly. “So was I. And?”
“And I … thought about bailing.”
Jack stared at him. “Be more specific.”
“On …” Jason gestured between himself and Daniel. “Us.”
“Permanently?” Jack asked, stunned. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“Okay, okay!” Jason said, scowling. “I fucked up. But goddamn it, I got scared. I know our jobs are dangerous and I’ve never had a problem with that. But I’ve never had someone I love out there and in trouble.”
“But you said you’ve loved me for a long time,” Daniel protested. “You didn’t bail on me then.”
“We weren’t together then,” Jason said. “So, for just a moment, I panicked. I’m over it now.”
“The fuck you are,” Daniel said, pinching his nose. “Sam stopped you. Goddammit, Jason. I know you’re prone to …” Tears came to his eyes, despite his trying to hold them back. “Why would you do that to me?”
Jason grabbed his hand, his own eyes filling up. “I’m sorry. I won’t, not again. Sam sort of scared it out of me. I think. I don’t know. I just … had that moment. It’s gone now. I promise.”
Jack stood across from him, anger suffusing his face. His knuckles were white as he gripped the railing. “If it wouldn’t hurt him, I’d fucking deck you right now,” he whispered.
Daniel looked up at him. “That won’t help.”
“It’ll help me,” Jack said, continuing to keep his voice down. “I don’t fucking care what it would cost. You need a serious ass-kicking right now.”
“Jack,” Daniel said quietly, his voice thick. “Look at my face.” Jack did, taking in the watery eyes. “Look at Jason’s.” He did. Briefly. “I think my reaction is all the ass-kicking he needs. I can tell. Now I need you to chill.” Jack didn’t seem to be listening, so he raised his voice. “Calm the fuck down.”
Jack ground his teeth but he finally nodded and looked directly at Jason. “Given what happened earlier, you’d be hurting me, too. Or aren’t you aware of that?”
Daniel gave Jack a look of surprise, then Jason. “What? What happened?”
“Nothing. But I lectured him about thinking the worst.”
“And yet you went all spazzy on me anyway?” Daniel asked, raising his brows at Jason.
“Well, he kinda side-tracked everything.”
“How’s that?” Daniel asked.
“He kissed me.”
Daniel’s brows went up.
“You kissed me back.”
Daniel sensed a ‘but’ was attached. “But?” he asked.
“No ‘but’,” Jason replied, glancing at Jack and clearing his throat. “It’s just that we were … in his office at the time.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open for a few seconds before he snapped it shut and grinned at them. “Well I hope you two weren’t screwing around in there. That’s better left to my office. Scent doesn’t gather there.” They didn’t reply. In fact, they looked surprised, and maybe a little guilty? Daniel tried to figure out what was going on as he looked from one man to the other. So they kissed. What was the big deal?
It suddenly hit him that Jason had mentioned the kiss as if it had been some sort of taboo. Which meant that neither of them had been together yet, without his presence. Why the hell not? He had planned to be offworld for a while. Had they planned on jerking off that whole time?
“Oh my god. What is wrong with you two? Don’t you guys like each other?”
Both of them were surprised. “We like each other fine,” Jason said. “Why?”
“You haven’t been together at all since I’ve been gone?”
Jack cleared his throat. “Well … no.”
“It’s only that …” Jason began, then trailed off at the frown on Daniel’s face. “I know you think we should, but it just feels …”
Daniel rolled his eyes and brought his fingers to the bridge of his nose. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“What?” Jack asked.
“Did it feel like cheating when you kissed?”
“I wanted to do more than that and if we’d had …” Jason said, trailing off.
Jack added, “And if we weren’t in my office.”
Jason swallowed. “We talked about it,” he admitted, cautiously looking at Jack. “Decided it was kind of dumb.”
Jack took a slow breath. “What he said.”
Daniel sighed with frustration. Nothing he could say or do would make them fall in love. Jason was halfway there, and he knew damn well that Jack was attracted to him. So what the hell was the problem? The only answer he could think of was that he was the problem. He stared at the ceiling. Maybe they needed scaring. But that idea could backfire spectacularly. But what if it did? That would mean they weren’t meant to be together and he’d have been saved future suffering. What the hell had he been thinking, expecting them to feel the same? Hell of a thing to come home to, he mused sourly. “Leave. I’d like to be alone.”
“Excuse me?” Jack asked, frowning deeply. He was confused and when he looked at Jason, he saw the same look. “Why? What’d we do?”
“Nothing,” Daniel said. “That’s the problem.” He refused to look at them. “I need to get used to the idea and come to grips.”
“Daniel, what the fuck are you talking about?” Jason asked.
“What he said,” Jack repeated.
Daniel blinked at them both. “Shit, did all that worry scramble your brains? It’s too much. I overstepped. I asked too much of you. So. We’re done.” When their eyes went wide, he added, “As a threesome? Hello?” When their surprised increased, Daniel’s confusion intensified into a scowl. “Well? What’s the problem? You don’t want to be together when I’m not around so there’s no point in having a three-way relationship. You should be relieved, not shocked, so now I’m the one who’s confused and wanting to know what the hell is going on.”
Jason sighed as he and Jack exchanged long looks of understanding. “It isn’t that we don’t want to be together, Daniel,” he told him.
“You feel like you’re cheating, yes, yes,” Daniel said. “I thought I’d fixed that.” When they looked embarrassed, he closed his eyes. “I’m in love with a pair of idiots.” When they threw him admonishing scowls, he didn’t bat an eye. “Seriously, permission was implicit when I used the word relationship. As a couple or a trio, the same rules apply.” He paused, then sighed regretfully. “I thought you knew what it meant to have a three-way relationship.”
“Daniel,” Jack started. “I’ve learned to never assume anything where you’re involved.”
Daniel blinked at him. “You can’t be serious,” he stated.
“Yeah, I am.”
“You’re doing it now. And you have no basis for making that assumption. Do you guys want this relationship?” he asked seriously. When his lovers exchanged glances, he added, “I mean being with me, with each other, no restrictions, the whole goddamn nine yards.” He grew exasperated. “I’m so tired of repeating myself. Please leave.”
Jason grabbed his hand. “You know I love you, right?” Daniel closed his eyes and refused to respond. Jason felt his throat burn with that effort to hold back emotion. The stress inside from nearly losing Daniel forced his eyes to water. “What am I supposed to do? I can love Jack. I can be with him. But he’s just—”
“Don’t put this on me,” Jack said, showing emotion for the first time. “Don’t you dare.”
“Then what?” Daniel asked, not looking at him either.
“I don’t know how to let go,” Jack said. “How to do what you ask. It took me a while to admit I loved you. To let you know.”
“It better not take another five goddamn years,” Daniel said, pinching his bridge again. “You’re making my headache worse. Seriously. You two? Please leave. Go work this out.”
After they left him alone, Daniel sighed, wishing they could’ve worked things out beforehand. He’d hoped it would have worked while he was gone. But right now, he had a massive headache because he was upset. And sad. He could lose them. Lose Jack, anyway. Jason … well, he was right. It was all up to Jack, whether the man admitted it or not.
In the elevator, Jason stood next to Jack feeling a mixture of emotion. At almost 1:30 in the morning, he was damn tired, and while was thinking about going to his quarters, he was also thinking about Jack going to his. And he wanted to stop him. Or rather, he wanted Jack to join him. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to want, but there were no cameras in the personnel quarters. This early in the morning, there weren’t many SFs prowling the corridors. Although there’d be a record of Jack entering and leaving, by way of the corridor security camera. Or vice versa. If he were allowed entry.
“What’re you thinking about so deeply?” Jack asked.
Jason realized he’d been staring at the line in the door and he blinked a few times before looking up and settling his gaze on Jack’s face. “You, actually.” When Jack lifted his scarred brow, he added, “Wondering how safe it is, at this time of night, to ask you into my quarters.” When Jack looked both amused and surprised, Jason continued on. “I mean, if it were during the day, no one would question your presence in my quarters for an hour … or so. But in the middle of the night, security might be looking and wondering and …” He made a face, then sighed. “Probably not a good idea.”
Jack gave him a shrug as they left the elevator on Level 25 and didn’t say much of anything else. He was too busy considering Jason’s offer. In fact, since leaving Daniel’s infirmary room, he’d been thinking about that moment they’d shared in his office. The closer they got to Jason’s quarters, which were around the corner from his own, he was beginning to think up pretty good answers just in case there were any questions.
When Jason turned the corner, Jack stayed behind, pausing. He stared in that direction for a long time, then headed that way. He found Jason waiting, the door knob in his hand, the door open. He walked in before Jack got there, leaving the door open. He could either walk in or he could stand in the doorway and look stupid. Jason was going to leave it up to him.
He walked over to the bedside table and took off his watch, trying to concentrate on getting ready for bed instead of the sounds, or lack of them, behind him. When the door closed, there was a second of panic, of disappointment, and he looked over his shoulder. Jack was standing there, several feet away, with his hands in his pockets. He turned to face him and swallowed, then pulled both his fatigue shirt and t-shirt off over his head and tossed them on the chair next to his desk. He began to unbutton his trousers, much more slowly. He realized that Jack was staring at his chest. Most men he was intimate with did that. Even Daniel. It was the only thing he was rather vain about. Maintaining his muscle size and tone, and he enjoyed being looked at.
Jack walked over and cupped his left pec, thumbing the hard nipple. Jason pulled Jack’s shirt up, then pulled his t-shirt from his pants. Jack crossed his arms and pulled them off like Jason had, and tossed them on top of the others. He stared into Jason’s dark eyes while he opened his trousers. Jason stepped into his space and slid his hand into Jack’s briefs the same time he gripped him by the neck and kissed him, tongue probing for Jack’s to come out and play.
Jack copied him, but then he pushed his hand away, stepped back and asked, “Pants on or off?”
“Off,” Jason said. They took that awkward moment to sit down and remove their boots, then the trousers came off, the briefs came off, and Jason laid across his bed.
Jack followed him and lay over him, hand cupping his pec once more before he pinched the nipple, then bent down to tease it between his teeth, suck, then pull it before letting go. “Does this feel like we’re cheating?”
Jason shook his head. “It feels like we’re following an order.”
Jack cracked a grin. The first one in hours. “Yeah. It does.”
“Does it count?” Jason asked. He swallowed, then reached in his side table drawer to pull out a small tube of lube.
“Sure, why not?” Jack answered, lowering himself on top of him. “What was that thing you said earlier? About me lying over your back. You want me to take you that way?”
Jason swallowed. “Yes. But not right now.” He spread his legs and Jack grinned a little, then spread them even more with his hands before moving down slightly and bending over to take his cock in his mouth. Jason inhaled sharply, and Jack dropped him from his mouth. “From this moment, we go silent.”
Jason nodded, then he rolled them over and with his mouth watering, he attacked Jack, swallowing the head and half the shaft of his wonderful cock.
“Shit,” Jack whispered, contradicting himself and grimacing because the act and pleasure were so acute, he’d come within minutes if he didn’t do something. He turned them over again, making Jason laugh.
“Shhh,” he said.
Goosebumps rose over his naked skin as Jack crawled over him, his dog tags hanging down from his neck. His own lay between his pecs and he smiled with curiosity when Jack stared at them before letting his eyes roam over his body. This was possibly the sexiest he’d ever seen Jack O’Neill.
“Nice,” Jack said, then bent down to take a nipple between his teeth, worrying it as he sucked. When Jason gasped and shuddered, he did the other one, then grabbed the lube. “We don’t have all night. Or an hour. Agree?”
“Agreed,” Jason said. “We can take our time at your place or Daniel’s, but not now.”
“Okay. And from now, we go silent. Yes?”
Jason nodded mutely and turned over. Jack knelt between his legs and spread lube over his hole. Jason hissed from the sensitivity and clutched his pillow and groaned into it. Jack’s fingers went inside him, and he bucked, riding them eagerly.
Jack leaned over and hissed into his ear, “Hot.” He pulled back but kept his fingers in Jason, who gripped his pillow harder. He rode Jack’s fingers, thrusting into the mattress.
“Fuck me,” he whispered, and raised his ass, enticing him.
“Fuck, you’re good at that,” Jack said, again breaking his own rule. He removed his fingers and slicked up his cock.
“Shit,” Jason hissed, hating the rough wool blanket. Damn standard issue. He rolled away and gestured, and as soon as the blanket and top sheet was pulled back, he got back down, holding himself up on his elbows.
“Down,” Jack whispered, and roughly pushed, then lay over him, took Jason’s hands, and pinned them over his head. Like he’d done with Daniel. Only this time, he had something in mind. “Want me?” he whispered in Jason’s ear as he rode between his cheeks.
Jason did, and underneath, his cock swelled. Jack rubbed between his cheeks and then held Jason’s hands to the mattress as he settled on top of him and thrust inside of him. He groaned and bit the pillow, hating that he had to be quiet. Jack moved against him, a perfect fit.
“That’s it, baby,” Jack said, sliding his hands underneath to grab his pecs. “Hold on, now,” he whispered in Jason’s ear. He began to thrust in hard, even strokes, not bothering to start slow. Even like this, he was able to go fast and he spread his knees, forcing Jason’s apart. He heard Jason mouth, ‘Yes’ more than a few times and he tried to make it rougher without the accompanying sounds. The slapping wasn’t a sharp, high sound. It was soft, deep, and he slid his hands underneath and wrapped his arms around his chest as he pounded in short, hard strokes. Fast. He was so damn fast.
Jason was in heaven. Drool wet the sheet as he gave himself up to Jack. He told him ‘yes’ a thousand times and it intensified so much, he was wishing it would last forever. But when Jack slid a hand down and grabbed his cock, he slapped Jack’s hand away and grabbed his cock himself as he pushed his body back. “Take my shoulders and fuck me hard.”
“Yeah, that’s it, baby,” Jack whispered. He kept whispering the words until he was demanding that Jason come.
“Fuck me,” Jason mouthed, and his free hand white-knuckled the sheet as his mouth fell open and he came hard. He buried his face in the mattress and yelled.
“Jesus,” Jack hissed, and he kept going and going until the tightness around his cock pulled the orgasm from him. He collapsed on top of Jason while grabbing a pillow and calling into it himself. He kept thrusting forward in jerking spasms of intense pleasure.
When the afterglow began to subside, and they slowly pulled apart, Jason turned over and looked into his lover’s eyes. He could have told Jack then and there that he loved him, but it might have been the afterglow talking. Maybe. But nothing was really needed to be said. Jack leaned over and kissed him, then gathered his things and got dressed. Another kiss and a long look between them. There was a sense of ease between them and an acknowledgement that this relationship thing just might work.
. . .
Only five hours later, tired but awake, both men met up, then made their way back to the infirmary to check on Daniel. They found him just as sleepy-eyed.
“Had breakfast yet?” Daniel asked them.
“About to go mainline some coffee,” Jason said sleepily.
“Want us to grab you some?” Jack asked.
“Hell yes. Please.” It was then that he realized there was something different about his lovers. At first, he thought it might be the pain meds, but the longer he observed them, the more he realized that the tension between them had gone. “What’s different about you two?”
“What?” Jason asked as he walked around the bed and sat on the doctor’s stool.
“Nothing, why?” Jack said, doing the same instead of taking the visitor’s chair. Why the hell were these chairs always lower than the beds?
“You’re acting different.”
Jason and Jack exchanged looks across the bed. “Different than what?” Jack asked Daniel.
“I don’t know. Relaxed.”
Jason cleared his throat. “Oh. Right. Well. No reason to beat around the bush.” He got up and looked around, then looked at Jack, who nodded. “We fucked.”
Daniel’s brows rose slightly as he looked back and forth between them. “No shit?”
“No shit,” Jack answered with the barest of smiles.
“My room,” Jason said.
“And,” Jason drawled as he touched Daniel’s forearm, sliding his hand over the skin in a gesture purposely meant as a caress. “We’re fine,” he finished.
Daniel slapped him. “Fine?”
“We’re fine,” Jack said, giving Jason a secretive smile.
Jason clasped his fingers in Daniel’s, then raised his hand to his lips and kissed his fingers. “Really,” he added. He looked across at Jack, then seductively nibbled at Daniel’s fingers.
“Don’t even start,” Jack warned.
Jason grinned devilishly and Daniel pulled his hand away. “Asshole.”
“What?” Jason asked, brows raised.
“I’m on pain meds. Which means if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll get me hard and I won’t be able to do anything about it.”
Jason smiled, the wicked look refusing to leave. “Jack could always cover the door.”
“Why am I the one covering the door?” Jack objected.
“Because I’ll be the one going down on him,” Jason said back, as if the answer were obvious.
“No, I think you’ll be covering the door.”
“No, you will.”
“Shut the fuck up, the two of you,” Daniel sighed, but a smile was all over his face. “I’m not getting any fringe benefits in the infirmary so you’ll just have to wait till I get home.”
Jack stared back, his gaze penetrating. He then reached up and laid his hand on top of Daniel’s covered leg, just above the knee. He didn’t move it, not one millimeter. He just set it there. Then smiled.
“Fucking asshole,” Daniel said, closing his eyes as the warmth of Jack’s hand seemed to flow rapidly up his leg and into his dick.
Jack cleared his throat and gave Daniel a more sober look. “Seriously though?” Jack said. “We really are just fine.” He got a nod from Daniel. “We’re so fine that all I want to do right now is—”
Janet walked in.
“Have some breakfast,” he finished, and dragged Jason with him. “We’ll be back with coffee.”
Three days later….
Daniel lay there impatiently, wishing Janet would hurry up. The only thing that kept him from pulling his hair out was imagining Jack and Jason and what they’d been doing over the last three days. Well, he knew about the first time. He knew about the second time. He just knew they’d been doing something last night. He looked forward to being able to watch them do it at home. Finally.
Janet came in during one of his fantasies and he cleared his throat. “Janet, when?” he asked, trying not to pout.
Janet rolled her eyes. “If you keep nagging me, you’ll be here another two days just because.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
Janet raised a brow at him as she checked the pneumatic cast on his lower leg and adjusted the cloth boot that had been placed over it to protect his toes.
“Right,” Daniel sighed.
“This afternoon,” she answered after a long silent minute.
“Shut up,” he groused, until he realized she looked serious. “Wait. Really?”
“Really,” she smiled. “After the bloodwork comes back. It’ll be a while since we have returning teams whose bloodwork needs to be done before yours.”
He laid his head back and stared at the ceiling. “Oh, hallelujah.”
She grinned. “In the meantime, you can march yourself down the hall for a bath.”
“Finally!” he said, pushing himself up.
Before he could swing his legs off the bed, she pointed at his foot. “No. I’ll call a corpsman to wheel you down there.”
“No, please,” Daniel groaned. “Call Jack and Jason. Jack or Jason.” When she smirked at him, he said, “No monkey business, I swear. And no offense, but I trust either of them a lot more.”
“Meaning what?” she frowned.
“Meaning that they’ll be extra careful compared to someone …” He lowered his voice to a whisper, even though it was unnecessary. “… I’m not involved with.”
She narrowed her eyes, thinking it over. “If they’re available, fine, they can help. But you don’t need both of them.”
“Maybe not, but it’ll be easier than having them fight over the job.”
She raised her brow at him. “They’re competing?”
“No, not over everything, but over that? Oh yeah, they would. They’re doing it to wind me up.”
Janet let out a short, disparaging laugh, and threw him an apologetic look. “Sorry, but you know that’s how they let off stress and tension.”
“One of the ways,” he said in a dry undertone.
“Nothing. Trust me. It’s easier to just call both.”
Chuckling, she walked toward the door. “Just wait here, Daniel. I’ll go get the caretakers.”
“Hardy har har,” he said just as the door opened and Jack and Jason nearly mowed her down.
“Shit, sorry, Janet,” Jason said, hand on her arm.
“I was just going to call you two,” she said, mostly to Jack. “He’ll be released this afternoon. I’m waiting on blood work, but it’s not a deciding factor. Right now, he wants a bath, and doesn’t want to wait till he gets home so one of you gentlemen gets the honor in assisting him.” She gave them both a stern look. “Assisting him. No fighting. No funny business.” When they gave her interesting looks which she fully interpreted as dirty, she shook her head. “Don’t remove his cast and don’t excite him. In any way.”
“Dang,” Jack said with a grin aimed solely at her.
“Use the physical therapy shower. It has plenty of grab bars.” Janet then lowered her voice. “And I repeat, no excitement. Capiche?”
“Gotcha,” Jason replied.
Janet nodded with satisfaction, then pointed at the crutches propped by the bed. “He’ll use those. He’s taking them home.” With that, she left the men alone.
When Jason retrieved the crutches and handed them over, Daniel snorted at the dirty look on his face. “If you two keep torturing me, I’ll be going home alone.”
“Yeah, about that …” Jack said enigmatically.
“What?” Daniel asked, pausing mid-step.
“Let’s get you in the bath first.”
“I hope that’s not a sign of things to come,” Daniel smirked.
“What?” Jack asked, puzzled.
“When I want an explanation, you’ll give me the song and dance.”
“It’s not a song and dance. It’s a ‘wait till we’re alone’. The PT bath is the perfect place for that. Ironically.”
Daniel didn’t know what to make of that, but he accepted it anyway and let it go. After they reached the physical therapy bathing room and Jason locked the door, Daniel sat on a bench and began to take off his scrubs shirt. With it halfway off his body, he noted that Jack and Jason were also taking off their clothes and he paused. “What’re you guys doing?”
“What?” Jack said. “We’re not getting our clothes wet.”
“It’s a bath, not a shower,” Daniel told them.
“Just in case,” Jason said.
After removing his shirt, he inched off his scrub pants, lifting one buttock, then the other. He looked down at the rib wrap just as Jason walked over to help him remove it. If he weren’t very sore and filled with pain meds, he’d have taken the time to admire Jason’s, and Jack’s, nudity. It was okay to feel that way right now, but he knew that if he felt this way at home, he was going to get grouchy.
As they helped him to stand, Daniel looked over at the therapy tub and shook his head. “Fuck it. We’re all getting wet and I’m not getting in that thing. Help me to the shower, would you?”
“Done,” Jack said with a nod of agreement. “What if we weren’t here?”
“Then a corpsman would be helping me,” Daniel said, grimacing.
“Oh, hell no,” Jason said.
“Yes, so do me a favor and don’t fight,” Daniel said as they guided him to the open shower. Taking hold of the grab bars bolted to the wall, he waited as Jack turned on the water and adjusted the nozzle, then he tilted his head back and sighed with relief as the hot water cascaded over his dirty hair and down his back. “Finally.”
“No shit, huh?” Jason said, grinning at Jack. They both understood exactly what Daniel was feeling. However, his–and Jack’s–grins vanished the moment Daniel turned his back to them and they caught their first glimpse of the black and blue bruises that decorated his back and buttocks.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Jack swore harshly. Jason echoed his sentiments, but without the religious nonsense.
Daniel looked over his shoulder, frowning. “What?”
“You’re black and blue,” Jason said, scowling as he reached out to touch his lover’s skin.
Daniel grimaced. “I haven’t been able to look, obviously, or I would’ve warned you.” He understood their concern as they inspected him, but he very quickly had to stop them. The touch of their hands was wonderful, but he was in no mood to get aroused. If they kept doing it, that time-honored response from his dick would arrive, ignoring the rest of his body’s complaints. Clearing his throat, he pushed off their hands. “Thanks for the inspection, but that’s enough.”
“Sorry,” Jason said. “Did we hurt you?”
“No,” Daniel smirked at him. “You’ll get me hard. I’m not at home, where it wouldn’t matter.” When they grinned at him, he cleared his throat and ignored them. “The bruises look worse than they feel, except for the ones around my ribs.”
“I remember how that goes,” Jack said, “but we’re gonna have to touch you to get you washed and out of here.” When Daniel rolled his eyes, he threw a sarcastic grin. “I’m sure we’ll be able to do this without waking up your dick.”
“I’m sure,” Daniel said back with equal sarcasm. “Just be careful, okay? And let’s get this over with as fast as possible.”
Once they started, it really was quick and efficient, but Daniel felt a few twitches of arousal anyway. How could he not? These were his lovers touching him, not some unfamiliar corpsmen–although he wouldn’t have allowed anyone to touch him as thoroughly as Jason and Jack were doing. He knew they didn’t mean to affect him, especially after his obvious request. In an effort to take his mind off it, he turned his attention to the other emotions filling his mind.
“I feel so fucking useless.”
“Don’t even go there,” Jack scolded gently as they finished their washing. “You’ll be right as rain in no time and wishing for the time off you’re about to get.”
Daniel sighed heavily. “Doesn’t keep me from feeling like shit right now. I’ll be spending this so-called time off hobbling about under medical scrutiny.”
“I know you’re frustrated, Daniel,” Jason responded, his tone serious. “But better frustrated than dead.”
Daniel looked at him and felt like a complete shit. He reached up to cup Jason’s jaw. “I’m sorry I worried you.” He glanced at Jack, eyes asking for forgiveness.
“Don’t go there either,” Jack said, brows furrowing. “This kind of crap is going to happen and we all know that. We just deal.”
“Ever the pragmatist,” Daniel nodded. As much pain as he was in, he would rather be injured than go through the stress of worry. With a deep breath, he refrained from further complaint and let his lovers take care of him. After a few minutes, he finally noticed something different going on between Jason and Jack. There was a subtle but noticeable affection. The last three days had made a remarkable improvement. He smiled to himself. One good fuck. That’s all it took. Well, a few kisses to warm them up and a good scare or two and …
As they walked over to the lockers to dry off and get dressed, Jack reached out and caught a drop of water from Jason’s chin. Jason stared back at him and the two men shared a look that made Daniel smile. They were teasing each other, and it filled his heart with a mixture of relief and love. He’d been so worried, and then worry over him seems to have done the trick.
That part, he had to admit, was annoying. For the billionth time, he asked himself why it took a catastrophe to get them to like each other, never mind get together. He’d had a feeling that they would have come around on their own, eventually, because he’d seen their mutual respect, their mutual attraction. But that feeling that they were cheating was just beyond tolerable. Jack was a bit reluctant; he didn’t like having ideas handed to him unless they were work-related. He preferred to work things out on his own. This time, however, he seemed to be doing a little of both and Daniel couldn’t be prouder of him. Although he’d never say it, not if he wanted Jack to keep moving forward.
Jason suddenly made a growling noise, knocking Daniel out of his thoughts, and he looked over to see Jack grinning his head off. “What’re you doing?” he asked him.
“Teasing me,” Jason said with mock-annoyance.
“I’m getting dressed,” Jack said, as if that explained everything.
“Slowly, while looking at me,” Jason clarified.
Daniel chuckled as he set his towel aside. “Get finished, would you, then help me get dressed?”
They quickly complied and after Daniel had his infirmary scrubs back on and his crutches positioned under his arms, he let out a pleased sigh.
Jack grinned. “Feel better?”
“You’re welcome,” Jason added, opening the door.
“Only one thing is missing.”
“What?” Jack asked.
Daniel sighed with amusement and moved ahead of them down the corridor. “Think about it. I’m sure it’ll come to you.”
After Jack and Jason left him alone, Daniel succumbed to the sleep demanded by his physical exertion and the pain meds. A few hours later, he was awakened by Sam, who entered his room with a wheelchair.
“Hey you,” she said, grinning like a satisfied cat. “Guess what? You’re getting sprung and I get to take you home.”
“No shit?” he asked in surprise as he pushed himself up, then glared at the I.V. as it caught on the arm of the bed.
Daniel carefully lifted the I.V. as he swung his legs over the side in order to sit up and look at her. “I thought you had some experiments to run.”
“I do, but I need a break and I’d like to see you home.” She smiled at him, displaying her slight worry behind her green eyes.
“Thanks,” he said, smiling back. “I’ll be fine, you know.”
She chuckled. “You sound like the Colonel.”
Daniel groaned. “Don’t let him hear you say that. You know how he is about his own catchwords.”
She smiled. “That a nice way of saying he hates his own clichés?”
Daniel started to laugh but his ribs painfully cut him off. When Sam frowned with worry, he automatically held up a hand. “Don’t worry, I’m fine. Just can’t laugh too hard yet, that’s all.”
She smiled worriedly. “At least you can laugh.”
There was a moment when her eyes misted, and Daniel’s grew round in response. “Don’t do that. You’ll get me all weepy and then we’ll both be embarrassed because someone will walk in. They always walk in.”
Sam smiled, then chuckled softly and nodded. “You’re right. They do.” Sniffing, she added, “Can’t have that, can we?”
“Hell no. So …”
“So,” she said, clapping her hands together. “Let’s get you outta here.”
“Sounds damn good to me but I have to wait.” He lifted his arm to remind her about the I.V.
“Right. Well, once that’s done, we’ll stop by your office, get your laptop and whatever else you want to take home. Then we’ll stop by your locker and get your coat. You don’t need it, since it’s warm out, but I figured you wouldn’t want to go home wearing just the scrubs and slippers.”
Daniel made a face. “Good call.”
She grimaced at the cast on his lower leg. “Guess you’re gonna be wearing split scrubs for a while. Unless you prefer shorts.”
Daniel loved the idea, but had no wish to destroy his own clothes. “Depends on whether or not I can get them on over the cast.”
At that moment, Janet walked in carrying a small brown bag and both Sam and Daniel exchanged grins at her sudden appearance. “What?” Janet asked.
“Nothing,” Daniel said quickly. “I was just wondering where my painkillers were.”
Janet eyed him, then Sam. “Ah huh,” she said doubtfully as she handed Sam the bag. Pulling over one of the medical trays, she began to remove his I.V. After pressing the cotton ball on his arm, she tilted her head and looked carefully into his eyes, then took out her penlight and blinded him with a quick test.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“Making sure the concussion is healing.”
“You can tell by blinding me?”
She grinned and pointed at her own eyes, fingers moving back and forth. “Equal and reactive.”
“Right.” He frowned then, having expected Jack and Jason to show up, and now that he was leaving, their absence was more keenly felt. “Have you seen Jack and Jason?”
“They’re in a meeting with the General,” Sam said quickly. “Going over future missions.”
Daniel said nothing else as his feet touched the floor and they guided him into the wheelchair. Janet told him she’d check on him the next day, and Daniel nodded mutely. When the two women gave him worried looks, he smiled with reassurance, but he did not feel it. In his office, as Sam gathered up his computer and the few books and CDs he wanted, he said very little. It bothered him more than he’d thought it would that Jack and Jason weren’t there to see him home. He knew it was a stupid, sulky thing to feel, but he couldn’t seem to get rid of it.
Leaving the base in Sam’s car, the feeling only intensified because he knew he’d be going home to an empty house. Five minutes later, however, it suddenly occurred to him that Sam had been just as quiet. He looked over, almost happy to have something else to think about.
She glanced at him, surprised, then smirked at him. “You’re one to talk.”
“Yeah, but I’m not usually and neither are you. Anything on your mind?” She shook her head diffidently, raising his curiosity. “You’re sure?” he pushed.
When she didn’t answer, he suddenly wondered if her silence had anything to do with his asking after Jack and Jason. They hadn’t talked much after his birthday, after the revelation about Jack. Was she still mad perhaps?
“Mind if I ask you something?”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Why do people preface subjects with that question?”
“Because it’s habit,” Daniel shrugged, giving her a sidelong look. “Okay, here it is. Are you okay about Jack?”
Sam did a double-take. “About … what do you mean?”
“What we told you on my birthday, Sam,” Daniel clarified.
“Oh,” Sam replied. “That.”
Inwardly, Daniel cringed. It didn’t sound like she was okay. “I’m sorry.” It was all he could think of to say.
“About?” she asked, frowning.
“Putting you in a position to keep your mouth shut. Goes against your oath, I suppose.”
Her frown turned into a scowl. “Now hold on, Daniel. Don’t do that.”
“Take on unnecessary guilt.” She sighed with heavy impatience. “I swear, sometimes you take on guilt like a martyr. Stop it.”
He blinked at her. “You think I’m martyring myself?”
“Well come on,” she said with exasperation. “Don’t you? You blame yourself for Shau’re, thinking it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t unblocked the gate. But Apophis or someone else could have easily come by ship. You blame yourself for everything else that happens around you but none of it is your fault.”
Daniel frowned and looked away, wondering how the hell the subject got turned back on him. He then realized that Sam may have subconsciously–or consciously–turned the subject away from her. He let out a deep sigh and turned his gaze back to her. “Fair enough. But we’re not talking about me, Sam. We’re talking about your feelings about Jack and me. And Jason.”
“Seemed to go hand in hand,” she said, loosening the knot between her brows. “Just don’t feel guilty about my reservations, okay?”
“You have reservations?” he asked, eyes widening.
“Okay, I promise. Your turn.”
Sam twisted her mouth, eyes on the road. “I’m … already used to the idea, Daniel. Truth is, I suspected … something. I just didn’t know what.” At his raised brows, she shook her head. “Not a relationship. Just feelings, and long before you got together.”
“And the reservations?” he asked warily.
“Worry that all of you will be found out. Teal’c worries too.”
Daniel nodded. “We’re careful, Sam.”
“Be a bit more, okay?”
He nodded soberly, then thought of something else and had to ask. “I do have a right to worry too.”
“Putting you in a position to keep the secret. It’s why we, especially Jack, weren’t thrilled about telling you. Teal’c is one thing, but you’re another because of the Air Force. That’s what I meant by oath. They’re real bastards about DADT. Don’t they realize … um, sorry. Was about to go off on a rant.”
“Don’t worry. It’s a secret I can easily keep.”
“And what about others?” he asked, thinking carefully.
“What do you mean?”
“There’ll be situations that come up where someone, usually a group because it’s almost always a group, says something homophobic. You know I’ll say something, but what about you? I hate–”
“Stop right there, Daniel. I don’t tolerate bigotry of any kind, same as you. I correct people if they screw up and say the wrong thing. You’ve never been around to hear it, so you don’t know, but trust me. I won’t be suspected of harboring gay men in my basement.” She turned a sarcastic smile on him and he grinned back.
“Point taken.” When she looked back to the road, he added, “So we’re good then?”
She gave him a half-smile. “He’s iffy.”
“Iffy?” Daniel asked, eyes widening again.
She snorted and began to giggle. “You really need to chill, Daniel. He’s handling it fine. He’s not used to it, but he’s old enough and wise enough to be able to handle having gay or bisexual friends.” She suddenly pigsnorted.
“Actually, I think he’s confused about the gay part. He said in Jaffa society, bisexuality is common among warriors. But being gay is not.”
It was Daniel’s turn to snort. “That he’s aware of.”
Sam grinned. “True. Sometimes people see only what they want to see.”
Daniel sighed, losing his humor. Her words reminded him of something else. “I accept that you’re okay about this, but what about when you’re at my place or Jack’s and …”
“And?” she asked, brow raised.
“PDAs,” he said, clearing his throat. “Are you okay with it?”
Sam blushed and cleared her throat as well. “Well, I’m not used to it, but I will get there. Just give me time. You know how I am about regular public displays of affection. Between straight people, I mean.”
He smiled in remembrance. “Yeah, you were that way in front of Shau’re and me.”
She tossed up her hand. “There you go.”
“But where Jack’s concerned … Sam, um, you had feelings for him.” When she kept her eyes fixed on the road as the blush deepened, Daniel reached out and took one of her hands from the steering wheel. “Are you still in love with him?”
She turned sharply, staring at him, then stared back at the road in a panic, as if she were in danger of getting into an accident.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in love with the Colonel, Daniel.”
“But you’re not sure?”
She paused, chewing at her lip again. “To tell you the truth, I thought I had been till this last year. But I realized that I wasn’t. I love him, yes. And wouldn’t have minded a relationship with him. But it’s different now. Because of you.”
“But I thought–”
“No, I don’t mean that. It was his bizarre behavior after we came back from that tropical planet where we took Thor. How he behaved toward me while we were there. After we came home, there were times when I really didn’t like him very much.”
“Has he ever explained himself or apologized?” Daniel had to ask.
“Sort of. I get a little ticked off sometimes, but I let it go. I have to.”
“Just so you know, you didn’t do anything wrong. Jack was probably …” Daniel paused, chewing at his lip. “He’s bisexual, Sam. It seems like it’s impossible for him not to flirt. Back then, I also think he was having a hard time making a decision about his feelings.”
It was Daniel’s turn to blush and he tried to fight it down. “No.”
“I think what confuses me most is what happened on that ice planet. He didn’t remember who he was, and yet he was attracted to me, not you.”
“That was because he was still repressing his feelings. His subconscious reverted to a fallback position and he still saw me as someone to stay away from.” Daniel paused, remembering the hurt of that estrangement. “I need to ask you a very personal question.”
She glanced at him, her guard up. “Okay,” she said slowly.
“While we were down in that place, did you and Jack ever …?”
Sam’s blush turned beet red and she averted her gaze, suddenly intent on watching the road and the sideview mirror. “No. No, Daniel, we never did.”
Daniel tried not to feel happy and relieved about the answer but he was. “Can I ask why not?”
The air grew tense with the silence as Sam clenched her jaw and thought about her answer. “Honestly. Two reasons. One, we never found a private place.” She glanced at Daniel as her cheeks reddened again but forced her eye on the road. “Two, if we’d stayed down there much longer, however, I’m quite sure that we would have.” She cleared her throat. “Those feelings, and the Colonel’s, were what confused me later. I didn’t know what was part of Jonah or what was part of the real Colonel O’Neill.”
“Yeah, I can see how you’d have been confused.”
He frowned, staring at her. “Why? For having feelings for someone? No one should ever be sorry for that.”
She felt the tension inside her ebb away. “It took me a while, Daniel, but over time, my romantic feelings for him went away, and part of it was because of his treatment of you. I was so mad.”
Daniel nodded. “So was I.”
“Tell me something?” Sam asked, and Daniel knew that given the subject, it would remain personal.
She considered her words for a moment. “What caused the turnaround in his feelings, making him see you as someone he loves?”
“Jason,” Daniel said simply.
Sam’s brows shot up. “Jason? How?”
“It was a case of the ‘grass is always greener’.”
“He saw me and Jason having dinner at that Mexican restaurant I like. He said it was because he saw me laughing, that it was Jason who was making me laugh. Jack said he couldn’t remember ever seeing me laugh like that, not even when we were friends.”
Sam jogged her brows. “I can see his point. Until you started going with Jason, you hardly ever laughed.”
“None of us did, Sam,” Daniel pointed out.
“What changed that?” she asked as she stared out at the road, raising the question more to herself than to Daniel.
Daniel gave her a lop-sided grin, one that always preceded a wry answer. “Don’t blush.”
“I won’t blush.”
Sam coughed and her hand flew out automatically, the back of it slapping him across the chest. “Daniel!” She blushed. To high heaven.
“What?” he grinned. “You’re blushing! You know what happens when frustration gets lifted, whether it’s personal, sexual, or professional.”
Sam had to admit he was right and she returned the wry smirk as her blush kept going and going. “Bastard.”
“Sam!” he said, faking outrage.
“So, Jason?” she asked, side-stepping.
“Jack was jealous. And after he admitted to himself why, he came over and we talked. Sort of.”
“We, uh, sorted things out.”
“What’s that mean? Or should I ask?”
“We fought,” he said simply. “I was so mad. He had to see me with someone else before he pulled his head out of his ass. And it was …” He snapped his fingers. “Like a switch flipped. He didn’t take ages to figure it out. Just. Snap. And so I told him he needed to earn my respect and my trust.”
“When was this?” she asked, frowning as she tried to remember when Jack’s regular attitude toward Daniel had changed.
“During the infirmary renovations, when we were on stand-down.”
“Oh.” She paused, still frowning. “And he changed, just like that?”
“Yeah. But as far earning my trust back and us getting together? No, not just like that.” He paused this time, considering his answer. “Took two months. Everything had to be re-earned.” He was going to explain further but a sharp throbbing distracted him, and he winced.
“You okay?” she asked, looking at her watch before taking a right onto another road.
“I’m okay, Sam. Just the pain pills wearing off. Are you late for something?” he asked.
“You’ve been looking at your watch all the way home.”
“Nervous, I guess.”
“Why, got a hot date?” he asked, kidding.
“Um, no. Janet’s trying to set me up but I’m not all that interested. I hate blind dates. There were really only two other guys I liked. Had feelings for. One was Martouf.”
She nodded. “The other was Ambassador Faxon. I really liked him.”
“Oh damn,” Daniel said. “I’m sorry he was lost, too. Hell, they both were, in a way.”
She nodded. She took a deep breath and tried on her happy face. “But, life moves on and Janet’s been trying. She can be really pushy about it sometimes.”
He smiled at her and nodded. She checked her watch again, then gave him a guilt look. Something was going on and as they took the turn to his house, it suddenly occurred to him that Sam wasn’t driving very fast, yet she was acting as if she was in a hurry. Normally, she drove like a bat out of hell, especially when she was on her motorcycle. There were times where she’d driven him home in less time than he’d ever made it himself, and that included that time he was on the back of her bike–an experience he wasn’t too interested in repeating.
He was about to ask her what was up when his house came within view. Vehicles were parked out front, one of them hers, and he immediately recognized the others. Raising a brow, he threw her a rebuking look. “I thought I was going home alone.”
“You can’t seriously believe we’d leave you on your own,” she said as she parked the Jeep in the driveway.
He sighed, blaming the medication on his lack of clear thought. “I did expect a visit or two. Why am I getting the feeling that this is more than that?”
“Because it is,” she said, remaining vague.
“I’m getting that,” he said irritably, eyeing her silver-blue sports car. “Who drove your car?”
That surprised him since he’d had the feeling that Teal’c didn’t really like her car. He then grinned to himself as she moved around and helped him out. Teal’c’s reservations were more likely about her driving than the car. Taking the crutches from her, he winced again as the cast softly bumped the concrete.
“Let’s go inside and I’ll grab some water for your pain meds.”
“Given how long you took to get here, I might need two,” he said, pretending to glower, and knowing she wasn’t buying it. He was already sweating and figured he looked a bit pale. The worried look on her face confirmed it.
“Sorry about the surprise,” she said, grabbing his things out of the backseat.
“It’s okay,” he said, and though he was still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the fact that people were in his house without his presence, he couldn’t be mad. He certainly preferred taking care of himself, and the others knew that so that explained the deception, but this time, he really didn’t mind. Hopping about on one foot hadn’t been something he’d been looking forward to and having someone there to help mitigate that slightly would be a relief, not a burden.
At the disbelieving look on her face, he shot her an annoyed look. “I mean it, I’m fine. I’m relieved, actually.” Jerking his chin at the house as they started for the door, he asked, “Who’s here?”
“Just your friends,” she said with a shy grin.
“You guys didn’t need to hide the welcome home. So why exactly was I kept in the dark about the well-meaning home invasion?”
“Well, because it’s more than that,” she began, cautiously. “They’ve been redecorating. Grab bars in the bathroom and a few other things.
He raised a brow. “What’s a few other things?” He looked at his front door and it immediately came to him that what she meant was that someone was going to be living with him: namely a nurse or corpsman. He refused to believe that, however, but to confirm it, he turned around swiftly to look at the street, unbalancing himself in the process. Sam quickly put an arm around his waist, saving him. “Who else is here?” he asked, searching for another vehicle.
She frowned. “No one, Daniel. Just the Colonel, Jason, and Teal’c.”
He looked at her, peering closely into her blue-green eyes. “Then why are you acting as if there is?”
She blushed a little and gestured a nod at the house. “They’re just moving furniture to help you get around. I didn’t say anything because I know how I’d feel if I came home and found people redecorating.”
Daniel made a face and thought of Orlin. “Actually, I know exactly how you’d feel, only that happened while you were in your house. I think maybe that’s worse.”
She jogged her brows and led him to the door. “Point is, they’re not doing it just to leave you more room.”
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t really see the point when I’m here by myself.”
“You’re not going to be by yourself,” Jack said from the door.
Daniel quickly swallowed the instant surge of relief at seeing the man. “What’s that mean exactly?” he asked, but as he crossed the threshold, the question became more complicated. Inside, he found his furniture hadn’t just been rearranged. His sofa had been replaced with a larger, wider one. He shot Sam a sour look. “Is this why you were so nervous?”
She cleared her throat. “I’ll get you some water,” and she moved away to leave Jack with the fallout.
Daniel eyed him. “Where’s my sofa?”
“I took it to the dump,” Jack answered straight-faced.
Daniel stared impatiently. “Liar.”
Jack gave him a lop-sided, sarcastic grin. “It’s in storage, Daniel, unless you decide you want the other one back after your ankle’s healed. Frankly, I like this one better. Yours was getting ratty.”
Daniel sighed and rolled his eyes again. “No, it wasn’t. You just wanted an excuse to buy a new one.” Jack gave him another lop-sided grin and decided not to answer that because it was partly true.
Heading over to the sofa, he gave it a cursory inspection. It was burgundy-brown in color, with soft, thick cushions, much nicer than his old ones. He reluctantly conceded that for once, Jack had made a good choice. The comfort, however, was forgotten when his ankle sent out a rather painful complaint and he suddenly wasn’t so concerned with decorating issues any more.
He levered himself down on the cushion, grimacing as he asked, “Where’s Jason?” The answer was preempted when Jack began fluffing regular pillows and placing them over the armrest. “Jack, I can do this myself—”
“Shut up, Daniel,” Jack replied curtly, then looked up. “Carter—” he began to call, but she was there already with a tall glass of water and a bottle of medicine. Taking the bottle from her, he dispensed two pills and held them out. “Take your medicine.”
Daniel snorted, tossed the pills in his mouth, and took the proffered glass of water. He looked away, letting his eyes focus on his stereo as he swallowed the large pills. He hated large pills and they sometimes made him gag when his stomach was having a bit of a fit. The last three days qualified so having something else to focus on—something besides the concerned faces of his friends—was key to not chucking them back up.
With a sigh, he handed Sam the half-empty glass. “Thanks,” he said, and leaned back against the pillows. Immediately making a face because they weren’t adjusted correctly, he sat forward and tried to twist around to adjust them, but that was not a good idea, his ribs said. “Shit.” Jack and Sam rescued him, fussing for him.
“For god’s sake, will you two just …” He broke off as a bolt of pain coursed through his leg and he gripped the sofa back much more tightly.
“Lay back, dammit,” Jack growled softly.
“Yeah, yeah,” Daniel groused, “but I could have done this mys—”
“I win,” Jason said, interrupting, as he appeared at the back of the couch, looking down. Behind him stood Teal’c.
Daniel looked up, words left hanging in the air, and saw the deep concern and smudges of sleeplessness under his lover’s eyes. Glancing at Jack, he saw the same thing and hated himself for not noticing before. Letting go of his vice grip on the arm of the couch, he reached over his head. “Get over here.” Jason bounded over the couch like an Olympic hurdler and plopped down. “Jackrabbit. Did you have a bet?” Daniel asked, though it wasn’t the first question on his mind. This one just seemed simpler and a lot less private, given the company.
Jason smirked at Jack, then softened the look for Daniel. “He thought you’d wait at least ten minutes before declaring your independence. I said it would take you less than five.”
Daniel rolled his eyes again as he looked over at Jack, now sitting on the coffee table across from him. “You can’t resist, can you?”
“Nope,” Jack said simply.
Daniel was tempted to grab them both, to reward them with deep, welcoming kisses instead of arguing or even thanking them. But the sight of Teal’c behind Jason stopped him and he instead smiled at his Jaffa friend before shooting both him and Jason with a puzzled look. “So what were you two up to when I came in?”
“Installing grab bars in the bathroom,” Jason replied.
“They will hold your weight, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c replied. “You should find them useful.”
Daniel let go of Jason and held out his hand to Teal’c, who reached over and took it. “Thanks.”
“There is no need,” Teal’c replied, emotion in his eyes.
“There is. For saving my ass, for helping out here, for everything.”
“Again, there is no need,” Teal’c said much more firmly.
Sam felt a lump rise in her throat as she nodded agreement, feeling the same. The spreading silence in the room, however, made her keenly aware that perhaps there were two too many people here. Observing the way Jack and Jason looked at Daniel, she couldn’t help but feel extremely envious. It was a feeling she wasn’t all that thrilled with, either. “We should go, Teal’c. Let Daniel get some rest.” She then shot Jack and Jason a firm look. “Providing you two will let him get any.”
Jack frowned, wondering if his conflicted feelings were showing. It probably wasn’t a good idea to be thinking of taking Daniel to bed, but it was that or fuss over him, something he knew Daniel would resist. It was simply that he needed to do something, to show his care. He didn’t think words would suffice. Focusing his frown on Sam, he asked, “What’s that mean exactly?”
“It means ‘don’t hover’, sir.”
“Don’t worry, Sam,” Jason said, nodding at her. “He’ll get his rest.”
Teal’c slightly increased the pressure on Daniel’s hand, using that to suffice as a hug. “If you need anything, Daniel Jackson.”
“Thanks,” Daniel replied, squeezing back.
Sam went for the door, opening it to give Teal’c a more obvious hint. “We’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
Daniel angled his head back so he could look at her. “Thanks.”
Looking between Jack and Jason, then back to Daniel, she winked at him. “Call me if you need a referee.”
Daniel smiled, “I will.”
After they left, Daniel gave his lovers a long look as a concerned frown appeared. “You two need some sleep.”
“Yes, and we’ll get it now,” Jason said.
Daniel sighed. “I need something more than that. Fuck.”
Jack exchanged quick looks with Jason and immediately shook his head. “Don’t,” he said, leaning forward to take Daniel’s hand. “We can wait.”
Jason threw him a dirty look, but he agreed with him. Coming round to kneel between them, he placed his hand over their clasped ones. “We can.”
“It’s not fair,” Daniel replied, closing his eyes. He suddenly felt warm, but not just from the side-effects from the painkillers.
Jack moved, exchanging his seat on the coffee table to the edge of the sofa next to him. “No, it’s not, but it’s just the way it is.”
Guiltily, Daniel made a face without opening his eyes. “At least you two can.”
And there it was. The simple admission of what was at the core of his irritation. Not the hovering, not the fussing, not the lack of sleep.
Jason sighed and exchanged a shake of the head with Jack. “So can you,” he told Daniel. “A little.”
“Just not the usual stuff,” Jack shrugged. “Fucking isn’t all there is to sex.”
Daniel shook his head. “No, but it feels undone to me to leave it out.”
“Daniel,” Jason rebuked. “You know your restrictions. Besides, the last thing you need is Janet breathing down your neck.”
Jack smirked. “No pun intended.”
Daniel started to laugh but it was abruptly cut off by a yawn. “Shit.”
Jason sighed. “Time for bed.” When Jack threw him a knowing, dirty look, he added, “I meant for Daniel, wise ass.” The friendly sparring words caused Daniel to laugh, though the pain made it short-lived.
“I’m on the couch. May as well stay here,” he informed them.
“No,” Jack said, shaking his head as he got up and bent over, one arm going around Daniel’s waist as he pulled him up, forcing Daniel to his feet.
On Daniel’s other side, Jason was there, and between them, they made it clear that putting up a fight was not an option. Daniel sighed, not having the energy to argue. He partially blamed the pills, but that didn’t keep him from forming complaints in his head, ready to let loose at a moment’s notice.
By the time they made it to the bedroom, however, all thoughts of arguing left him. He was exhausted, cranky, and wanting to lie down. The fact that he remained silent about it told his lovers all they needed to know. There was just one thing that caused him to even want to voice a complaint.
His bed was gone.
He slapped away his lover’s attempts to remove his clothes and scowled at the new, much larger, bed. “Why do I have a new bed?”
“Because the old one was too small,” Jack said.
“No it wasn’t,” Daniel said irritably.
“It was when you consider that it didn’t fit three people comfortably,” Jason said as he and Jack guided Daniel to the bed. “Now, stop bitching and let us help you get your clothes off.”
Daniel’s leg was throbbing and he petulantly grunted and moaned as they helped him change into a t-shirt and boxers. Heat suffused his cheeks during the process; he hated being changed by them. It was one thing for nurses to do it, but quite another for them. Perhaps it was simply something he wasn’t used to having them do for him, but it still smacked of weakness on his part, however irrational that feeling was.
Finally under the covers, the next blushing moment came when Jack and Jason stripped down and joined him, framing his body with theirs. “Thanks for the company, but I don’t need you to see me to sleep,” he said, his tone as weak as the argument.
“Shut up, Daniel,” Jack said, repeating his annoyance. “We need to be here. For us, not you.”
“How selfless of you,” Daniel grumbled sarcastically, but he was in no mood to fight. They were, in fact, a boon to his self-esteem, so he reached to touch them, his hands telegraphing his acceptance of their presence. The heat from their bodies relaxed him further and with assistance from the painkillers, his eyelids began to droop. Turning his head to the left, toward Jason, the sunlight through the closed blinds reminded him that it was only late afternoon.
“Aren’t you guys due back at the mountain?”
“Nope,” Jack replied as he clasped Jason’s hand and entwined their fingers.
“Why?” Daniel asked, blinking his eyes open. Jack’s answer had bred curiosity.
“We talked with Hammond,” Jack replied, pushing up on an elbow just as Jason did the same. “We both get to keep you company, especially since one of us staying here might just raise the wrong sort of questions. So, we convinced Hammond that two of us would be needed to help you since we tend to go offworld at different times. We got you a new sofa in case you need to crash there, but mostly for one of us. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Plus, there’s another bed installed in your study. Both are ostensibly for me and Jason to sleep on.”
Daniel lifted a corner of his mouth. “But in reality …” He left the statement unfinished because he didn’t need an answer, not with that answer lying underneath him and framed beside him. “So, what you’re saying is that you two actually have permission to live with me.” He hadn’t meant to frame it that way, but when they confirmed the words with a nod, his mouth dropped open. “You’re serious?”
“Honestly, Hammond wasn’t too keen on the idea,” Jason informed him seriously. “But we managed to convince him that if we were here to help, instead of using up time running back and forth between our places and yours, you’d get better faster and SG-1 would be back on full time rotation. More importantly, we need to be here to help because we all know how impatient you are when you’re not one hundred percent.”
Daniel stared at Jack in surprise, picking out only one of the things Jason had said. “We’re on stand-down?”
“Abbreviated stand-down,” Jack corrected with a shrug. “No first contact missions. We’re available for back-up and rescue and that’s all.”
Daniel closed his eyes and sighed heavily. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
“Medicine’s taking effect,” Jason joked.
“Fuck you,” Daniel murmured, knowing Jason was right despite his flippant comment.
“I wish,” Jason replied, then his fingers were on Daniel’s chin, turning his face toward him as he leaned over to kiss him. It started out light, but the soft touch of his lips awakened Daniel’s sleepy arousal. He reached up and threaded his fingers through Jason’s hair, pulling at him as he opened his mouth and deepened the kiss.
He felt Jack’s hand on his belly and with his free hand, he clasped it, then broke off Jason’s kiss to turn and receive one from Jack. “Come here,” he requested softly. Jack leaned over, almost tentatively, his eyes focused on Daniel’s, then he was abruptly seized by the hair as Daniel telegraphed his emotions with another deep kiss.
Despite the effects of the painkiller, Daniel felt himself growing hard and he let go of Jason to lead Jack’s hand there. Groaning softly into his mouth, Jack briefly touched his balls and the base of his cock before withdrawing his hand as well as the kiss.
“Careful,” he said, licking his lips.
Daniel returned the groan with one of sympathy, remembering that they couldn’t do what they liked. Still, he wanted something and it didn’t necessarily involve him. “I won’t be able to have sex, but you–” His words were stalled by Jack’s finger over his lips.
“I was serious earlier. Jason and I decided that if you have to wait …”
“Then we should wait, too,” Jason finished.
“No,” Daniel said in a defiant tone, and while his words were soft but resolved, his actions put on emphasis. Letting go of them, he moved his hands down to their groins, smugly satisfied when they allowed him to touch them. “What if I told you that it would turn me on to watch you?”
They stared down at him, then at each other, their mouths open as the shock of arousal hit them, created not just by Daniel’s hands but also by the idea he’d just suggested.
“How’s that fair?” Jason asked, but his cheeks were flushed and he swallowed as he stared at the movement under the covers on Jack’s side of the bed.
“How’s it fair to punish each other because I’m injured?” Daniel countered. He firmed his grip of both groins in the ensuing silence.
“Punishing?” Jack managed as he cleared his throat. He was very quickly losing his resolve and he knew damn well that he wanted to, and that he’d let Daniel lead him there as if to absolve himself of responsibility.
“Punishing,” Daniel said, then looked at Jason with such need that he received a brief kiss before he continued. “You want to,” he whispered. “You know I’m right.”
Jason met Jack’s gaze and Jack’s dilated pupils only made his own flare. “I hate it when he’s right.”
“Hate’s a strong word,” Jack said, swallowing.
“How about a compromise?” Jason asked him, smiling mischievously.
“What’d you have in mind?” Jack replied, returning the expression.
“Meet my hand,” Jason said as he reached for Daniel’s erection.
Daniel gasped and closed his eyes as Jack obliged, and between them, they began to work him steadily. Kisses suddenly rained down upon his face, neck, and chest before Jack claimed his mouth, stealing the sounds escaping his lips. The swell of his cock increased with the caressing, rhythmic motion of fingers and palms.
“I’ve missed you,” Jason whispered over his neck and clavicle, licking at the rise of flesh over bone and enjoying the groaning response released into Jack’s continued kiss. “Don’t make us worry like that again,” he added, then caught a bit of flesh between his teeth and bit him just this side of pain in order to both stoke erotic fires and punish emotional fears. “If you ever do that ag–”
His words were cut off by a kiss, but not by Daniel. Jack’s tongue was ardent and demanding, and with Daniel’s hand wrapped around his cock again, Jason couldn’t help but forget what his own was doing. Jack’s hand, however, reminded him, and with a firmer grip, he seized the opportunity to get Daniel off. Not just to please him, not just to demonstrate his love and worry, but so that he could selfishly concede to Daniel’s. “Fuck me,” he whispered, breaking off.
“Yes,” Daniel said, resisting the urge to lift his hips in time with their hands. His leg was hurting so he compensated by letting his hands do as much work as his conflicted brain would allow. Damn them for their distractions.
“Let’s take care of him first,” Jack replied, increasing the speed of his hand.
“No,” Daniel said, getting a better idea. “I want to get off watching you.”
“I have an even better idea,” Jason said, and he kept his grip on Daniel’s cock but slowed down the caresses. “Jack? I go down, you inside me.”
The action paused as his lovers looked down at him, considering the request.
“Stay there,” Jack said slowly, seriously.
“I won’t move,” Daniel replied, and though his hands contradicted him, the rest of his body remained still.
“We’re serious,” Jason said, echoing Jack’s concern as he pulled Daniel’s face toward him. He kissed Daniel, hard, pressing his head deep into the pillow. Daniel moaned loudly, his hand stroking Jason more fervently, intent on getting him to the point where Jason would do anything he asked. When Jason broke their kiss, panting, he begged, “Please.”
Jason was about to answer but Jack grunted, “Fuck it,” and seized his mouth again. The kiss, and Jack’s deft, sweet tongue amped up his desire. He’d do whatever they wanted now as long as that didn’t stop.
“Yes,” Daniel whispered, watching them, but a moment later, they surprised him as their kisses were turned on him, on his body. Jason made for one nipple, Jack for the other, and Daniel panted faster as his hands were forced to release their prizes. Threading through his lovers’ hair, he let out a gasp of delight. “God.”
His lovers’ mouths caressed him thoroughly, finding new areas of exploration, including kissing every bruise along his body. When their lips reached his belly, Jack paused and looked up.
“Don’t move,” he warned, then his lovers descended their mouths on his cock.
Daniel cried out, roughly clutching at the bedding to keep from thrusting and writhing. Cursing, he let his head drop back, panting heavily as they licked and sucked, doing everything but taking him down their throats. Soon, it was maddeningly frustrating. “Fuck what I said, just get me off.” In response, their hands did everything but. They reached up to tweak his nipples, rub his chest, caress his abdomen, taunt his thighs, and gently massage his balls. By the time Jason’s mouth hovered near the head of his cock, Daniel was trembling. “Fucking please.”
“Freeze,” Jack reminded him as he wrapped his hand around the shaft and held it up for Jason eager mouth.
“Oh god, yes,” Daniel gasped as he went rigid, watching as Jason engulfed the part of his cock above Jack’s hand. He made love to it, sucking, licking, toying with the head, and watching it swell and leak. Daniel began to whine between the shortened panting breath, murmuring “please, please” each time Jason’s sucking increased in speed and pressure.
He didn’t register what Jack was doing until he felt two slick fingers sliding past his balls. “Oh shit,” he gasped, eyes wide. “Jack,” he begged unnecessarily, whining slightly when the fingertips touched the puckered entrance. “Do it,” he said as his legs were slowly and gently pried apart, then he let out a cry of arousal as Jack abruptly pushed two fingers inside and began to thrust.
Daniel closed his eyes and tossed his head back, straining almost painfully so that he wouldn’t move his leg. It was so difficult, but at the same time, this was new, different, and something he needed to achieve. A kink was created, and it was all he could do to keep it that way when Jack’s fingers curled and touched the little gland that shot signals into his dick. The effort to remain still seemed to accentuate the shudders and convulsions until Daniel lifted his head, chin on his chest, and breathed, “Jesus, that’s it!”
Between Jason’s sucking and Jack’s twisting, tantalizing thrusts, Daniel could no longer hold back his orgasm. He reached for them, grabbing hands and arms as he came, hard, spilling quickly down Jason’s throat. Jack pulled more out of him by his caresses and Jason’s sucking mouth did the same, but soon they had to let go before Daniel’s twitching body interfered with his control.
Lying back, gasping, he couldn’t believe how much he was still aroused. This fact was made more apparent as they took turns kissing him, bringing him down from orbit. His cock remained at half-mast and when they realized it, he felt their smiles against his face.
“He still wants more,” Jason said, nibbling at his ear.
“I believe you owe me a show,” Daniel said, shrugging his shoulder and pulling his head away when Jason’s nibbles began to tickle.
“I believe he’s right,” Jack said, leaning across to kiss his dark-haired lover, and he followed that movement with his body. Moving around the bed, he pushed Jason onto his back and into the mattress, thrusting his hips to rub their cocks together.
“Yes,” Jason said between kisses, and just as he began to think about searching for the lube, he felt the tube pressed into his hand by Daniel. With a smile against Jack’s lips, he flipped open the cap and squeezed a bunch onto his fingers. “Here goes,” he warned Jack as his fingers and palm began to work the slick substance onto Jack’s dick. The cool gel did nothing to lessen Jack’s erection. “Want me?” he asked, spreading his legs and raising his knees.
Jack unerringly zeroed the head of his cock and without further foreplay, he pushed and entered in one long, slow stroke. Smiling wolfishly at Jason’s head-tossing gasp, he asked, “That answer your question or do you need more?” When Jason simply closed his eyes, Jack made a growling sound and very quickly pulled his hips back and snapped them down.
Jason let out a satisfied gulp. “Yes,” he said, laughing softly.
Jack groaned from the heat surrounding him, and he knew that the foreplay with Daniel would only shorten his time with Jason. He made a mental note to make up for it later, and given the response from Jason’s body, he knew that he probably felt the same.
“Let’s not waste time,” he said in a whisper as he leaned down, kissing him lightly as he stared into his eyes. A warning. “Here goes. Ready?”
“Do it,” Jason whispered back, keeping his eyes locked on Jack’s as the quick, hard thrusts began. Encouragements filled the air as one slamming thrust after another plunged the two of them toward eventual release. It was intense and mind blowing, and Jason took Jack’s hands in his, locking their fingers together over his head.
Next to them, Daniel watched, amazed at their speed and how hard Jack’s thrusts were. What was even more amazing was when Jack pulled out and Jason flipped over. He grabbed the headboard and dropped his head down as Jack grabbed his shoulders and returned to the hard pounding. “Fuck me!” Jason growled.
“Holy shit,” Daniel whispered, his hand stroking his cock like a Pavlovian response. This was hot. A new kink. They were … rough with each other. Jason spread his knees and Jack’s hands moved to his hips without stopping their rhythm. Rhythm? It wasn’t a rhythm. It was a desperation bordering on mania.
Observing them, pleased to see how they responded to each other, Daniel could only pray he healed quickly. This wasn’t going to be a one-off event, and next time, while he watched, he’d be doing a hell of a lot more than just lying there with his hand on his cock. His cock was hard again and …
“Yes!” Jason cried out, and Daniel knew the sound. He was close.
“Fuck,” Jack followed, and it was a strangled sound. Daniel knew that sound too.
“Yes!” he said, his tone demanding. “Fuck him hard!”
Jason gasped and came at the sound of Daniel’s voice and Jack followed. Seeing them do it, Daniel threw his head back, spilling the pleasure out over his fist as he stilled his hand under the mushroomed head. He let the pleasure ride itself out. His conscious awareness drifted, and hands caressed him, kisses greeted him, and a framing warm returned against his body. He smiled, unaware that their breathing had already slowed, that perhaps they were already asleep. He hadn’t realized that he already was.
Jack, meanwhile, took Jason’s hand in his as they watched Daniel fall asleep. Like Daniel, he was also at peace, but there was a thrumming in his body that had nothing to do with his injured lover. It was all down to Jason.
Jason watched him, taking a deep breath, and enjoying the smell of sex like a treasured fragrance. His arm was draped over Daniel’s waist and he moved it slightly to touch Jack’s fingers. “I love you, Jack,” he said, then let his eyes drift closed, feeling sated and content.
All things considered, Jack was somewhat shocked by the words, but not so much that Jason had said them but more about the fact that they brought out the need for him to say them back. Not knowing if Jason heard, he reached across Daniel to touch thick silky, black hair. “Me too, Jason.”
He smiled to himself as he joined his lovers in sleep, wondering why he had ever thought that loving two people would be so difficult.