Summary: Jack is frozen in time for sixty years to be revived by a curious and frustrated archaeologist. Jack has a lot of readjusting to do and Daniel is there to help him
Jack got into bed and tried to relax. Breathing out he slipped his hands under his head and stared through the dark at the shadowy ceiling. Daniel had given him more than he had a right to expect and Jack had got out of his room as quickly as he could. Feeling guilty, he turned over and stared at the wall instead. He couldn't say anything to Daniel about his feelings. It was bad enough that he had feelings and that the military would imprison him for doing as much as he and Daniel had done tonight. What would happen to him if he admitted just how much he felt for Daniel? More than that, what would happen to Daniel if word got out?
Sighing, Jack knew he should pull back, not let this go any further. It was too dangerous for Daniel and in any case, Jack was just being over indulgent. He should look for sex elsewhere, with someone who didn't matter. He could pay for it. He had a lot of back pay to spend.
Jack closed his eyes. He knew he'd left Daniel hanging. He had a feeling he'd made a bad decision.
"How's it going?"
"Strangely, Janet," Sam Carter said peering into Doctor Fraiser's microscope.
"Oh?" Janet responded sipping at her coffee.
"The colonel and Daniel seemed to hit it off really well and then last week I noticed they'd almost stopped speaking to each other."
"And don't ask me why because I have absolutely no idea," Sam smiled. She knew the signs. Janet Fraiser was a damned good doctor and she was never off duty. Having said very little about the situation Sam knew Janet had already latched on to her comments. The very little she'd said had proved to be too much.
"So do tell," grinned Janet.
"There's nothing to tell, Janet!"
"Well let me know when there's nothing else to tell," the doctor laughed.
George Hammond sat at his desk, a pile of paperwork threatening to outgrow the height of Mount Everest. There was a reason for all the files though. He was thinking of reorganising the SGC. So far, all his teams counted up to seven with a mix of men and women in each and he was seriously considering whether that high number of people on every team was necessary. If he reduced the number of staff on each team, he could get himself additional teams. The math was simple but selecting the right personnel for the smaller teams was not so easy.
Hammond sighed and dropped his pen on his blotter. Jack O'Neill would make a good team leader. He'd been with the SGC for four months now, had undergone extensive training on and offworld with other teams and had already proved he could do the job. Hammond nodded to himself. He'd made his decision.
Just then, there was a tap on his closed office door. "Enter," he called and closed the lid of his laptop. "Colonel, come in and take a seat," he said to Jack.
As Jack settled himself in the chair across from Hammond's, Hammond tried to suppress a smile. Jack had that slightly unruly look about him, though Hammond could still see the authority the colonel needed to be a team commander.
"Jack, I've come to a decision," Hammond announced without preamble.
Jack chewed his lip. Was he being retired?
"I've decided to reorganise the SG teams, all to four personnel for each. I want to establish a premier first contact team, which I am going to designate SG-1. I want you to command it, colonel."
"Wow," Jack breathed and then remembered to whom he was speaking. "Yes, sir, thank you, sir."
"Good," Hammond smiled and standing, offered his hand.
Jack sprang to his feet and shook the general's hand. Then frowned. "Sir? Do I have the authority to select my own team?"
Hammond smiled. He understood how important it was to have a team that gelled. Lives were at stake so trust and capability mattered.
Jack nodded. "I'd like Captain Carter and Daniel Jackson on my team, sir."
"And what about Green or Blake? I want all SG teams to have four members."
"Yes, sir. I have no preferences at the moment. Is there any chance SG-1 can be three rather than four?"
Hammond thought. "I want teams of four, colonel but if you want to make your own selection I'll give you a month."
"Thank you, sir. I appreciate your confidence in me."
"You're welcome, son."
"Err, general? I'm old enough to be your father, not your son but I'm grateful for the sentiment."
Hammond laughed as Jack left his office. The man had a smart mouth but he compensated for it by having a smarter brain.
Jack hummed tunelessly as he strolled the corridors of the SGC. He stopped when he thought of dropping in to Daniel's office. He'd tried to keep his distance to the point where he'd moved out of Daniel's apartment and bought himself a house but he missed Daniel's proximity when he'd shared Daniel's space.
Jack had enjoyed being with Daniel, and allowing himself to fanaticise about Daniel's body, about Daniel's mouth enclosing his sensitised cock. Jack's mind had reprised that episode in the Denver motel several times but he knew distance was the safest way to go. He couldn't be near Daniel during their leisure moments and not want to show him how he felt. Everything seemed to be turning into a mess.
"Ah, there you are, colonel."
Jack halted as the diminutive Doctor Fraiser stood in front of him, barring his way. She looked up at him with those great big brown eyes. Jack noticed they were narrowed. It didn't bode well.
"Colonel O'Neill, I need you to accompany me to the briefing room."
Jack waited for a moment but she didn't offer an explanation. Frowning, he nodded and walked beside her, his ears aware of the brisk tapping of her heels on the concrete floor.
"Gonna tell me what's goin' on?" he asked not really expecting an answer.
"When we get to the briefing room, colonel."
She carried a large file under her arm. Her expression was set in a serious picture of efficiency and concern. Jack was right. This didn't bode well at all.
When they arrived in the briefing room, Hammond was already seated, as were Captain Carter and Daniel. Jack took his seat next to Daniel and waited.
"I see Doctor Fraiser found you eventually, colonel," Hammond said.
"I was only walking along the..."
Hammond ignored him. "I believe the doctor has some information about your medical record, colonel and as it might tell us a little more about the aliens you met in the cave, I wanted Doctor Jackson and Captain Carter to be here too."
Jack looked from the general around the table at the others. They didn't seem to know what was going on either. Carter was ready with pen poised to take notes and Daniel was looking at him and frowning. Jack shrugged.
Hammond nodded to his chief medical officer. "Doctor Fraiser?"
"Yes, sir," Fraiser said and flipped open the large file she'd been carrying when she'd found Jack. "This is Colonel's O'Neill's medical file."
Jack stared at the thickness of the notes. Someone had been writing about him and it looked like a novel.
"When the colonel first came to the SGC I ran a comprehensive range of tests including blood samples and DNA."
Jack raised a finger. "What's DNA?"
"Deoxyribonucleic acid," Fraiser answered.
"Well that explains everything," Jack growled.
"It contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses."
Jack looked at Daniel hoping for a sensible explanation but there wasn't a chance as Fraiser continued.
"There was some blood left behind in the cave after your aliens escaped, colonel. Can you confirm if any of the aliens were injured before they left?"
Jack thought for a moment. "Things were pretty hectic, doc and there was a lot of weapons fire but come to think of it, I do remember seeing two of the aliens standing together before they went all glowy. One of them had a red stain on his white outfit and he wasn't looking so good. Maybe he was caught in the crossfire."
Fraiser smiled. "General, I have the confirmation I need."
Hammond nodded and looked at Jack. Jack returned the look. He wanted to know what the hell this was all about but he daren't voice his frustration. It would make him insubordinate and he didn't want to lose his SG-1 command before he'd started.
"Sir?" he prompted instead.
"Colonel, there is a marker in your DNA that is the same as the injured alien's."
"You're saying I'm an alien?" Jack asked, fearful of the doctor's response.
"No, sir. I'm just saying you share a very unusual and non-human marker."
"See! Non-human. Alien. It's the same thing!"
"Not quite, colonel. You have a set of genes that doesn't belong to humans. You have the same set of genes as the aliens. I don't know what that means yet, except I can assure you that you are human in every respect except for these genes."
Jack leaned in to Daniel. "Jeans? What's she saying?"
"Not blue denim jeans, Jack, genes. DNA is in your blood, in your body and carries the information that makes you a man and not a mouse. Mice have DNA too, which makes them mice not men."
Jack frowned. Was he a man, a mouse or an alien? Shaking his head, he looked back at Doctor Fraiser. "And all this means?"
"I'm not sure, sir."
"I think I know who the aliens are," Daniel stated and everyone turned to look at him.
"You do?" Hammond asked.
Daniel nodded. "Yes, sir. I think they're the Ancients, the builders of roads, the makers of the Stargate."
"Our particular 'gate or all 'gates?" Hammond checked.
"All of them, general."
"And you think Colonel O'Neill is one of these...Ancients?"
"No, sir, I don't but the Ancients have been around in the galaxy for a very long while. Isn't it possible there might have been interbreeding? Isn't it possible that Jack has just inherited this set of genes by accident?"
"Interbreeding?" Jack was not happy. He'd heard of breeding programmes run by the Nazis. The thought of that kind of manipulation affecting him personally was not what he wanted to hear.
"Sorry, Jack. I didn't mean it to sound quite as clinical as that. I just meant that over eons of time, there might have been the small possibility that Ancients and Humans had 'relations'.
"Relations, huh? Cute!"
"I only found out about this link yesterday. I was checking through my records when I made the connection, hence it's taken this long to report it," Fraiser said ignoring the exchange between Jack and Daniel.
"Have you any observations, captain?" Hammond asked.
"Not at the moment, sir," Sam said.
"My initial thoughts are in connection with the Ancients, sir. I'd like to spend some time with Jack and go over the information he gave us about the aliens in the cave."
"You have forty-eight hours, doctor and then I want SG-1 offworld and on a mission."
When Hammond had dismissed everyone and Carter and Janet had left together, Jack grabbed Daniel's arm and held him back.
"Tell me I'm not an alien," Jack hissed.
"You're not an alien, Jack."
"Then what the hell am I?"
"I thought you were a man who was interested in me. Seems I got that wrong," Daniel hissed back.
"I don't have anything else to say, Jack. Be in my office in one hour and we'll get on with the research."
It was too late. Daniel had left the briefing room. Jack swallowed hard and dropped his head to stare at his highly polished boots. He knew it had been a mistake. He should have been a man and followed his heart. Instead, he'd pushed Daniel away and what had it gained him? "Nothing," Jack said aloud, "Fucking nothing."
An hour later, Jack rapped his knuckles against the doorframe of Daniel's open office door.
"Hey," he said carefully and stood in the doorway, reluctant to have Daniel hiss at him again.
Daniel didn't look away from his computer screen. "Take a seat, Jack. I'll be with you in just a moment."
"Wish you would," Jack muttered and poked at a small silver box.
Daniel frowned. What had Jack said then? Blinking, he dismissed it convinced he was hearing things.
"Okay," Daniel said firmly. "This is what I know so far."
Jack's eyebrows rose in surprise. Daniel was obviously not in the mood for small talk.
"Sure, whatever," Jack said and folded his arms.
Daniel knew the signs. Jack had adopted a defensive posture.
"Sorry," Daniel said and tried to smile.
"What's with you?" Jack asked quietly, aware that Daniel's office door was wide open to any eavesdropper in the vicinity.
"There's nothing with me," Daniel retorted, "Except..."
"Except what?" Jack asked quickly, grateful for even this small hint.
Daniel took a breath and let it out slowly. "It's personal," he said and shuffled some papers on his desk.
"Personal? What does that mean?"
"What I said. Just leave it, Jack, we've got work to do and only two days in which to do it."
"Well I'm not gonna co-operate until you tell me what's eating you," Jack stated firmly.
"We can't talk here," Daniel whispered.
"Okay, let's take a trip up top and you can explain it to me," Jack suggested and stared at Daniel daring him to disagree.
"Alright, alright," Daniel ground out, "But not for long. We've got..."
"Work to do," Jack finished for him grinning broadly.
They walked towards the wooded area on top of the mountain, to the same place they'd been when Jack first arrived at the SGC. This time they were without the security contingent. They were alone.
"So what's up, Daniel?" Jack asked not wishing to waste any time on preliminaries.
"You and I shared something very intimate in Denver and since then you've said nothing about it or anything about us. I don't understand why and I'm confused because of it. I don't expect you to have any feelings for me as such but I do expect you to have the courtesy of not ignoring me. I feel like I've done something wrong and you're punishing me for it," Daniel said breathlessly. It had all come out at a million miles an hour.
"Whoa," Jack said lifting his hands as if to hold back Daniel's confession. "I know what we shared, Daniel. I was there, remember?"
Daniel glowered at him.
"I'm sorry you misunderstood me," Jack went on. "I realised that we were getting..."
"Too close?" Daniel snapped.
"No. I meant we were getting very close and it scared me. I hadn't planned for any of this to happen and I thought maybe it was just the booze egging me on to suggest what I did and for us to...do what we did."
"And was it?"
"No, Daniel. I was confused and not ready for what we did, not really. I thought I was but I wasn't. I thought I could just throw over my 1940s attitude but I couldn't. I made a mistake, Daniel and I'm so sorry."
"A mistake! You made a mistake?" Daniel said fiercely. "I was a mistake!"
"Yes. No. I don't know!"
"Do you like me at all, Jack?"
"Of course I do. I've always liked you but right now, I don't like myself," Jack retorted. "I did a bad thing, Daniel. I let you believe it was what I wanted. Well it was except it wasn't. I wanted sex but I didn't expect to..."
Jack couldn't finish. He couldn't bring himself to tell Daniel the truth.
"Didn't expect to what? Not like it? Like it too much? Hate me for it? What, Jack? What?" Daniel's tone sounded desperate.
Jack shook his head. He'd said too much already.
Daniel stared at Jack for a moment, waiting. When no further explanation was forthcoming, he turned and walked away.
Jack watched him go. How was he supposed to pull himself into the twenty first century and be gay? He liked Daniel far more than he was supposed to, he cared for him very much but he couldn't bring himself to say so or to show it. Jack was at an impasse and he didn't know what to do about it.
When Jack got back to Daniel's office, he wasn't surprised to find him sitting at his computer.
"Can we work now?" Daniel asked flatly, turning around to look at Jack from his swivel chair.
"Sure," Jack shrugged. "Daniel, I just wanted to say..."
"You've said enough." Daniel's tone was clear. Shut the fuck up, Jack.
For the next two hours, Daniel asked questions about Jack's time in the cave and Jack answered them. Neither of them wanted this, they would have both preferred to be as far away from each other as possible.
"I need some thinking time, Jack so why don't you leave and I'll call you if I need to speak to you again," Daniel said, his voice as flat and unemotional as he could make it.
Jack opened his mouth to say something and then thought better of it. He slid off his chair and strode to the door. "I'm sorry," he said over his shoulder.
Pursing his lips, Daniel growled and threw his pen at the wall. He'd been stupid and naive to believe Jack had any feelings for him but it was okay now. He would do his work, preserve his professionalism and try not to care. It would be for the best.
Jack walked through the SGC halls and hated himself for what he'd done to Daniel. He wished he could make up for it but he knew now Daniel had closed down any emotional path Jack might want to travel. They would have to push everything that mattered away and learn to work together on a professional and objective level.
Sighing, Jack was bored and frustrated. He needed to find someone to annoy and his first thought was Captain Samantha Carter. Leaving the elevator, he plastered an evil grin on his face and made for Carter's lab.
"Please don't touch that, sir," Sam said plaintively.
"Why?" Jack asked pushing a small block of something with his index finger.
"Because it's liable to explode."
Jack moved his hand away at lightening speed. He didn't want to end up in little bits all over her lab floor.
Pushing back her safety visor, Carter smiled. "What can I do for you, colonel?"
"Oh I was just interested. Just wanted to know what you do here," he said mustering as much enthusiasm as he could.
"I experiment," she explained waving her momentarily doused blowlamp at him.
"I can see that," Jack breathed. A woman with a blowlamp in her hand was not a person to argue with. Pulling up a stool, Jack leaned on the lab bench and stared at her.
Sam felt disconcerted. "Sir?"
"Carry on, Carter, don't mind me. I'm here to learn."
"Yes, sir," Sam frowned.
"Is that the Z.P.M.? That thing you found with me in the cave?"
Jack was pointing at a large fluted cylinder, its dull surface looking like frosted glass.
"Yes, sir. It was emitting a light and we measured massive energy levels from it, then about three days after we found it, it went dead."
"Shame," Jack murmured taking a closer look. "Can I touch it?"
"Yes, colonel. It's completely shut down. It doesn't work anymore."
Jack traced the edges of the Z.P.M.'s faceted surface. It felt cold. He didn't know what to expect but he thought it would be warm, as though heated by residual power.
"What is it, sir?" Carter asked looking up from her part-welder something or other.
"Look!" Jack declared standing well back from the now glowing and pulsating Z.P.M.
"What did you do?" Carter asked accusingly.
"I didn't do anything. I touched it and it lit up."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure I'm sure!" Jack's voice sounded as incredulous as Carter's.
Carter pulled at a small cart laden with sensitive electronic measuring equipment while Jack stared at his fingers. He looked for the sudden appearance of any sign of alien appendages, checked for glowing at his fingertips and expected them to have morphed into match heads.
"I need to call Daniel," Carter said snatching up the phone.
Jack sat tight and said nothing. He wondered if Daniel would punch him on the nose when he got to Carter's lab.
"It has to do with Jack's genes," Daniel said emphatically.
"What makes you say that?" Sam asked. "Where's your evidence?"
"Jack has the Ancient gene and he touched an Ancient artefact. The effect of one on the other has to be more than just co-incidence."
"That's not exactly evidence," Sam pressed.
"Not in your sense, Sam but what about instinct? What about gut feeling?"
"Well, I don't know," she countered weakly.
"Got any better suggestions?" Daniel asked.
She shook her head.
Jack watched the exchange between them. It was like tennis and he concluded that it was game, set and match to Daniel.
Two hours later the fledgling SG-1 gathered around the briefing room table awaiting the appearance of General Hammond. Sam and Daniel talked excitedly, still trying to develop various theories as to why Jack had made the Z.P.M. work again. Jack sat in silence. Apart from checking his health, neither had spoken to him. Doc Fraiser had given him a quick exam and she was sitting alongside Jack at the table. When Hammond appeared, Jack, Carter and Fraiser stood to attention. Daniel remained seated. By the time he realised he should have stood too, Hammond had told them to be at ease and they all sat down again.
"Well, people. What's the news?"
"Sir?" Carter began. "Colonel O'Neill managed to reactivate the Z.P.M. I've checked the output and it's as great as it was when we found it. Its power has not reduced at all."
"General, I think Jack's ability to switch it on and make it work is because of his Ancient gene."
"The colonel seems no worse for the experience, sir," Fraiser said. "I've checked him over and he's in perfect health."
Hammond nodded at the useful summarised version of everyone's observations. "Colonel?" he asked.
"Have you anything to add?"
"Not really, sir. I touched the Z.P.M. It switched on. That's all I know."
"Where do we go from here?" Hammond asked the gathering.
"It would be very useful if we could actually find Methuselah, general." Daniel glanced at Jack as though looking for his agreement.
Jack didn't respond. He was tired, depressed, and felt like the subject of some crazy experiment where he had no say in what happened to him.
"What are the chances of finding this alien, Doctor Jackson?"
"After speaking with Jack earlier, I've found some references to Methuselah outside of the Bible, in some texts from Babylon and from PT1 29W. We went there last year. I think there's a possibility of finding a 'gate address but I have to do some detailed translation work first."
"While Daniel's doing that I'd like to go back to the cave system and take another look. I might have missed something before," added Sam.
"And what about you, colonel? Have you got any suggestions?"
Daniel looked at him and frowned. Jack wasn't sounding himself and he could guess why. They had to talk.
Daniel sat in his office thinking about Jack, and what might be going through his mind. Their discussion about feelings hadn't really uncovered very much except that Jack had no intention of making any commitment to Daniel. Daniel was trying to accept this, trying to see it from Jack's point of view.
The man was out of his time, was still adjusting. He had never admitted to being gay so maybe he was just a bit confused, needing a friend, needing support so he'd looked to Daniel. Then there were the regulations about fraternisation and the total ban on gay relationships. Any feelings Jack might have for Daniel, were warring with his loyalty to the service.
"That's understandable," Daniel mumbled aloud and shoved his computer mouse to clear the screensaver.
Daniel pursed his lips. Jack was very good at silent stalking.
"Nothing," Daniel said and pushed away from his computer. "What do you want, Jack? I'm busy."
"It's nearly midnight, Daniel."
"You should be at home, sleeping."
"I can sleep here if I want," Daniel threw back.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that little room of yours," Jack said jerking a thumb over his shoulder in the general direction of Daniel's SGC bolthole.
"Shouldn't you be off duty?" Daniel asked shifting some books from one counter top to another and then flipping the uppermost book open with an irritated flick of his fingers.
Jack reached around Daniel, took his hand away and snapped the book shut. "We have stuff we should deal with."
Daniel turned to Jack with a cynical look and a snorting laugh. "Stuff?"
"I don't think I explained myself very well," Jack said in a conciliatory tone.
"Well, I think you did. You said we'd made a mistake, that I was the mistake. You were crystal clear, Jack. There's no more to be said."
"I think there is. Come with me."
"Here," said Jack, his voice strong and authoritative as he pointed to the bolthole. He would not brook any resistance from Daniel. He needed to put things right and could only do it in his own way.
Daniel closed the door of his tiny room and stared at Jack through the dim light of the bedside lamp. He was standing with his hands in his pockets at the other end, not much more than seven feet away from Daniel.
Daniel waited, his arms folded across his chest in a self-hug posture. He was expecting the worst.
Jack cleared his throat, his eyes roving around the room and patently avoiding eye contact with Daniel until at last, he chose to speak.
"The reason why our episode of comparing notes was a mistake was because I realised I had strong feelings...for you. These feelings scared the crap outta me so I stepped back, tried to put some distance between us. Well I soon learned that was the real mistake. You have to understand, Daniel, I'm not used to such strong emotions. When I met Sara she was...sweet and nice and...convenient. She was female and I knew I could have a normal relationship with her but all the while, I sensed there was a very large hole in my life. I just didn't know what it was until now."
"Are you saying you've just discovered you prefer men to women?" Daniel asked carefully. He didn't want to put words into Jack's mouth but he needed to be sure he understood what Jack was trying to say.
"No, I'm not saying that," Jack went on slowly. "I think I'm saying that I prefer you to anyone else I've met. Not that I've met many people. Everyone I knew is dead so I don't have a big choice in these things."
"So what do you want to do about...everything?"
"I don't know, Daniel. I'm still reeling from being one hundred years of age and getting used to seeing people with pink hair out on the streets. When I last looked, Glenn Miller had the most popular band around, now it seems you have to be a screaming banshee to sell records."
"You've had a lot of changes to deal with, I understand that."
"The biggest change is finding my dick keeps pointing to a man instead of a woman," Jack commented with a lopsided grin.
"Maybe we should just take it one step at a time. There's no rush. You know where to find me if you need me." Daniel gave Jack a rare smile. "I'm not going anywhere."
Daniel worked hard over the next three days studying everything he could find on Methuselah including the scripts, pictograms and glyphs from P2X 595. He was quite sure that Methuselah was an Ancient. It was just a matter of pinning down where the alien had his base. That was proving to be illusive.
This research mattered to Daniel, more so than usual. It had a direct bearing on Jack and the strange gene he was carrying. Daniel knew Jack would want answers and he was doing his utmost to find them.
By the fourth morning, Daniel was feeling dog tired and with a splitting headache as a result. He'd worked non-stop on this project, hardly sleeping, eating or leaving his office.
Somehow, the need to prove to Jack that everything between them was good was driving Daniel to produce results. It was a part of that desire for Jack's approval.
Jack swung by around nine thirty that morning carrying two disposable cups brimming with hot coffee.
"Thought you might appreciate this," he smiled thrusting the drink under Daniel's nose. "I brought this as well," he said smugly and produced a small cardboard box. Lifting the lid, he wafted the scent of the contents in front of Daniel.
"Oooh, walnut and cinnamon bagels," he breathed in appreciation.
Jack smiled encouragingly. "Eat!"
Jack watched Daniel consume the bagels and drink his coffee. He wanted to make sure Daniel didn't collapse through lack of sustenance but what he'd brought wouldn't immediately cure the dark circles or the bloodshot hue of his otherwise brilliantly blue eyes.
"Have you slept at all?" Jack enquired, his eyes narrowing as he continued to take in the haggard look of Daniel's face.
"Um...sure," Daniel nodded quickly.
"When? Err, well yesterday, maybe, or was it the day before?"
"Daniel!" Jack admonished. "Stop what you're doing and get some rest."
"But it's the middle of the morning, Jack! I don't sleep during working hours."
"You don't seem to sleep at all, Daniel." Jack rested his hands on Daniel's shoulders and looked at him closely. "You look like crap."
"Thanks, Jack," Daniel smiled weakly.
"And if you look like crap, the chances are you feel like crap so why don't you get some shuteye. Just a couple of hours will help and I promise no one will complain that you're sleeping on the job. I'll shoot them if they do."
Daniel was going to protest but as he felt Jack's hands tighten on his shoulders, he knew there was no point.
"C'mon, Daniel. Just a few hours, huh?" Jack's voice was low and sexy and Daniel sucked in a breath. This wasn't fair.
"D'ya want me to tuck you in?" Jack asked his mouth twitching a smile.
"Very funny, Jack," Daniel muttered as he unlaced his boots and kicked them off. They landed on the floor with two thuds. He stripped off his clothes to his underwear, stretched out, and sighed. He had to admit it felt good to lie down, just for a few moments. It felt even better as Jack pulled a blanket over his body and was immensely pleasurable to have Jack's hands touch him as Jack helped to settle him.
He closed his eyes.
"Night, Daniel," Jack whispered and touched Daniel's lips with his fingers. Daniel was already asleep.
When Daniel woke, he was aware of a figure in the room with him. Squinting without his glasses, he knew it must be Jack.
"Hey," he said thick-voiced as he propped himself up on his elbows.
"Did you sleep?"
"Yeah," Daniel said and stared through the gloom. There was no illumination in the room except for a thin slice of light from the barely open door.
"Good," Jack said and Daniel could hear the smile in his voice.
There were a few moments of silence before Daniel heard the rustle of Jack's BDUs. Then he felt Jack's hand on his thigh, rubbing gently in a 'take your time and wake up slowly' kind of way. It had the effect of waking Daniel immediately and he felt the tingles of arousal heat his body.
"You should stop doing that," Daniel frowned, "Or I'm gonna embarrass myself with a hard on."
"Do you want a hard on?" Jack asked seductively, "Because if you do, I can give you one to match mine."
Daniel's head dropped back and he sighed. The thought of Jack touching him, feeling his body and giving him pleasure was more than he could have hoped for.
Jack took Daniel's absence of denial as confirmation that he wanted more so Jack continued to stroke Daniel's thigh.
Daniel flopped back on the bed and spread his legs allowing Jack to touch him. Jack kept his hand above the blanket and intensified his contact, stroking one thigh before moving to feel the other. Each time he moved his hand, his fingers stretched closer to Daniel's cock and balls though never quite touching them. These teasing movements made Daniel lift his hips in the hope that Jack would touch him where he wanted it most - on his cock. Jack didn't seem ready to give him that just yet.
The only sound in the dark silence of Daniel's room was his panting breaths and the muffled creak of the bed frame. Jack's firm touch had Daniel moving his hips and moaning.
"My cock, Jack...touch my cock," Daniel pleaded, determined not to lay a hand on himself but hanging on and straining for Jack's contact. "Do it soon. I can't wait much longer...need you, need you."
At last, Jack's hand came to rest on Daniel's erection and he felt the rush of exhilaration rocket through his body. This was Jack touching him. Jack focusing on him and pushing him towards a level of pleasure and excitement he felt he could only experience with Jack.
Jack's skilled and clever hand caressed Daniel's cock through the blanket and the feeling was erotic and seductive. Being touched with that layer of fabric between Jack's hand and his hardened flesh suggested to Daniel, furtiveness, secrecy, sinning and the promise of acute physical enjoyment.
Daniel gazed at Jack and saw a serious look on his face as he concentrated on feeling Daniel's cock. The roughness of the fabric gave Daniel a mix of pleasure and pain as Jack stroked it against his skin. How did he know? How did Jack know this was what Daniel liked?
Daniel closed his eyes so that he could indulge in the sensations Jack was creating. After their talk, he thought Jack was going to take things slow but obviously, Jack didn't want to wait. He wanted Daniel now and Daniel was ready, oh so ready for his touch.
Heated and perspiring, Daniel pushed down his boxers with the blanket to expose himself for Jack's pleasure, though in truth it was for Daniel's pleasure that he removed the blanket. Jack's hand was strong and firm on Daniel, caressing him, stroking his cock until he thought he was going to scream.
Daniel gasped and moaned. The joy of feeling another man's hand on him was overwhelming. He didn't deserve this, didn't merit this kind of pleasure but Jack was steadfast, working him right to the edge of his being. Daniel's mouth dropped open as he dragged in ragged breaths. He was so close, so near to coming and still Jack stroked his cock with intent.
"Oh God, Jack!"
Daniel arched his back and then thrust his hips into Jack's grip again, and again. Daniel could no longer articulate the sensations ripping through him. All he could do was grunt and pant. So close, so very close. Jack was squeezing and twisting, pulling and stroking to draw out Daniel's completion.
Jack's expert hand worked Daniel harder and faster until suddenly, Daniel cried out as his orgasm hit. With one last masterful stroke, Jack had made Daniel come.
Daniel's eyes flew open as his cock emptied, the warm wet evidence splattering his abdomen. His hair was damp and stuck to his forehead and temples. His breathing was fast and his body quivered.
There was silence.
Daniel's voice sounded loud in his ears and strangely unlike himself. His limp cock lay in his sticky grip. It was the first time he'd had a wet dream for years. What a fool! He should have known that Jack would not have done this, would not have stolen into his room and jerked him off.
Daniel sighed. A fool indeed...
Later that day Daniel joined the rest of his team at the briefing room table. Waiting for General Hammond, he glanced at Jack and Sam. Could they know what he'd done earlier? Would Jack sense his guilt? He didn't look at either of them knowing that Jack in particular would probably be able to read his mind. Instead, he studied his notes regarding the search for Methuselah.
Jack wondered why Daniel was so quiet, sitting there in the seat opposite him and reading. Jack had noticed that. If Daniel had something on his mind he would bury himself in his notes, hide his feelings under the cover of academic research.
"Everything okay?" Jack asked quietly.
Daniel jerked his head up and looked around as though something had happened that he was unaware of. "Huh? Oh. I'm fine, just fine," he said and gave that telltale nervous smile that looked more like a grimace.
Jack wasn't able to pursue his enquiry because at that moment General Hammond entered the briefing room.
"At ease," Hammond said at the sound of scraping chairs. "Do we have anything further on Methuselah?"
"Well, sir," Carter jumped in keen to share her findings, "We took a look at the cave again only this time we went further in to the system itself. We've found some alien technology that could be some kind video recorder."
Jack looked up from his doodling. "Could be?"
"Well I only meant as an approximation of what we think we've found," Carter qualified.
Jack nodded sagely and then glanced at Daniel. "What's a video recorder?"
"It records movement and sound and can be played back at a later date," Daniel said succinctly. "Have you been able to play it back, Sam?"
"Yes," she nodded enthusiastically. "We've surmised the recording covers the last hour or so before the Goa'uld attack. It shows the colonel's arrival too."
With that, Sam clicked the remote control for the projector and a full colour image with sound appeared on the screen.
They all watched as Methuselah and his colleagues stood over a large static piece of equipment apparently studying something. After a while, the aliens spread out around the space they were in and continued working on what appeared to be individual projects. Only Methuselah remained where he was.
He appeared to be communing with something or someone that was not there. His eyes hooded and rolled back in his head. He held out his arms, his fingers splayed as though making something happen just by the power of his body and the will of his mind.
Then Jack's profile came into view. He staggered and choked out the word 'help' before crumpling to the ground, coughing and wheezing.
Daniel stared at the images. It was clear Jack had been more significantly injured than he'd reported. Smeared blood covered one side of his face, a gash down his forehead and through his brow line the source. He had limped into frame his right leg dragging, his thigh soaked in dark blood, the fabric of his trousers torn open to reveal a deep wound.
"Jack, you were badly injured," Daniel hissed.
"I toldja I was," Jack remarked rather defensively.
"You did but you didn't say you were that bad."
"I don't remember being that bad, Daniel."
The recording showed Jack slumped on his side on the floor with Methuselah standing over him. There was a hurried conversation between him and his colleagues and some kind of incantation was made over Jack's bloodied body.
Moments later the group surrounding Jack nodded in silent agreement and Methuselah placed his hand over Jack's various injuries, healing them one at a time. Jack was out cold during this process and only came round as Methuselah was finishing his healing process on Jack's leg.
Then there was the sound of weapons fire. It was Goa'uld weapons fire and Methuselah's people scattered leaving Jack still on the floor, confused and frightened. Methuselah pulled him upright and smiled at him.
Daniel watched with intense interest as Methuselah gently pushed Jack backwards against the cave wall. It was then that the freezing process began locking Jack into cryogenic suspension for the next sixty years.
Daniel heard a faint groan from Jack. He too had been watching his incarceration with deep interest.
When Carter stopped the recording, Hammond checked on Jack and then turned his attention to Daniel. "Doctor Jackson? What can you add?"
"I've finished the translation of the script from P2X 595. It tells of a race of people who visited the planet but lived apart from the indigenous population. This group of aliens was far more advanced and did not share their technology with the inhabitants. The problem came when some of the locals decided to move on Methuselah's people and take the technology for themselves.
"The story goes that the people failed to fully understand the power and range of the technology and managed to destroy their civilisation as competing groups vied for ownership. The few survivors believed the destruction of their civilisation was the fault of the incomers. Methuselah tried to make things right, to mend the mistakes but it was too late."
"Why didn't they just use their technology to defend themselves or even leave the planet?" Carter asked and frowned as she thought about all that power with so little knowledge.
Daniel nodded and continued, "According to the writings, Methuselah took responsibility for the mess, remaining on the planet as a kind of penitence. He apparently destroyed what was left of his technology. There are some pictures in the scripts, well sketches really showing a very old man, ancient old sitting in a cave like a hermit."
"So what happened to him?" Jack asked.
"He remains there still, no longer alive but as a statue, lifeless but whole."
The meeting fell silent for a few moments as each person around the table tried to imagine what that would mean. Lifeless but whole was a hard concept to understand.
"Do you think he was frozen like I was?" Jack pressed.
"The scripts are at least five thousand years old, Jack. We know you met Methuselah four months ago."
"He could have been frozen in between times and come back to life just before I saw him in the cave," Jack suggested reasonably.
Daniel shrugged. He had no answer to that for the time being. "The only way we're going to know for sure is if we visit P2X 595 and find Methuselah's statue or cryogenic suspension unit, general."
"All right, Doctor Jackson. Colonel? You and your team have a go. You 'gate out at oh eight hundred tomorrow morning."
Jack grinned and Daniel smacked his file emphatically on the tabletop as he stood up. They looked at each other. This was their first mission as SG-1.
Jack was sitting in his living room in the dark and quiet. When he'd arrived home from the SGC he hadn't bothered to switch on a light, it was still early evening bright at that point. Now, two hours on it was sunset outside and shadowy dark inside.
He nursed an empty beer bottle in his lap and couldn't be bothered to get out of his chair to fetch another one. He'd been thinking, mostly about Daniel but also about his first mission as team leader.
The practice of treating each member of his team equally and within military command parameters was going to be a challenge. He liked Daniel very much, felt emotionally invested in him and Carter was a women. Jack wasn't used to commanding women. In his day, there were few women in the services and he'd never had the experience of leading any of them.
He wasn't entirely happy with Carter on his team. She was good at what she knew, there was no doubt about that but Jack always felt she was speaking a foreign language to him. He was used to earthy, good hearted ordinary men, not tall willowy blondes with a command of technology that he still didn't understand.
Jack thought further about Sam Carter. She was very attractive. She had a good body and a way of standing that had Jack looking at her surreptitiously. The thing was, although she was attractive to look at, that fact did nothing for him.
That's what he'd been thinking about for the last few hours as the sun went down, how he felt about Daniel and what it was about the man that Jack found so interesting, so undeniably intriguing. The truth was, Jack had already surrendered, already given himself up to the possibility of getting very, very involved with Daniel. He just needed to think through how that could happen without a court martial.
Here he was, a man of the first half of the twentieth century, with its heterosexual norms and expectations, attracted to another man. All right, Jack had had that summer fling with Bobby Grant, thought he'd got it out of his system and now, having had that episode with Daniel in Denver, all those adolescent feelings came flooding back. Jack was beginning to learn that perhaps these feelings were not adolescent after all but a part of who he really was.
Daniel had shown him that. Now Jack decided he should reciprocate but their offworld mission had to take priority. Jack had considered turning up at Daniel's apartment tonight intent on sex but the mission priority was more important now. Like a terrier, Jack worried away at the possibility that sex with Daniel was likely to affect his ability to command. He had no idea how he would react. He'd never had an affair with a man under his leadership before. Damn it! He'd never even had an affair with a man, period.
Jack had never had penetrative sex either. That brief liaison with Bobby Grant had been experimental, tentative rather than full on involvement. They hadn't had anal sex with each other and though Jack thought he knew the theory, the practical scared him a little. Would it hurt? Would it change him in some way?
Jack wondered what Bobby might be doing now, and then he checked himself. Bobby would be laying in the ground somewhere, with a headstone marking the spot. Jack would never know if Bobby had chosen to be with a man or a woman, or what he'd made of his life.
Daniel had encouraged Jack to read up on the world events that had happened during his sixty years of incarceration and he'd tried to study domestic changes too. It made his head ache.
Sighing, Jack hauled himself out of his chair and headed for the kitchen. He should eat though he didn't have any appetite. He decided that in future, he would insist that his team spent the night before an offworld mission on base. Feeling peculiarly isolated from the SGC, Jack felt it had to be better to be immersed in the atmosphere and paraphernalia of the base before going to another planet. It offered continuity and consistency. He liked that.
His mind spun sideways again. He liked Daniel too and he knew he would have to do something about it, something between the bed sheets and he promised himself that he and Daniel would do just that, as soon as possible.
"You know you only have a few weeks left to select a fourth, Jack," Hammond said in a low tone as Jack waited for Daniel to arrive at the 'gate ramp. Carter was already there checking over the equipment on the M.A.L.P.
"Yes, sir, I know," Jack nodded. He'd been through dozens of personnel files looking for a suitable candidate but so far he'd drawn a blank. He wanted to get this mission over and done with first. He figured it would give him a good idea of the kinds of qualities and skills needed to fill the role of the fourth person on the team. Jack thought he already knew what kind of person he wanted but he just hadn't found him. Of course, he thought idly, it could be a her and his eyes narrowed at the thought. The notion of women in combat was still an anathema to him.
At last, Daniel arrived, breathless and still trying to shoulder his backpack.
"You're late," Jack commented.
"Have you left yet?" Daniel retorted.
"Then I'm not late."
Jack shook his head and grinned.
The Stargate began to spin and all of Jack's senses were on alert. He found this part of an offworld mission exciting and uncertain, all at the same time. The noise, vibrations, steam and lights promised so much but there was never any real guarantee about what they would be stepping into.
When the wormhole had settled, Jack glanced back at General Hammond, who had retreated to the control room overlooking the 'gate. Hammond leaned in to the microphone and declared that Jack and his team had a go.
Nodding and then pulling down the peak on his cap, Jack led the way through the event horizon with Sam and Daniel flanking him. In a moment, they were gone, no longer on Earth but stepping through to the surface of another planet.
Jack already had his P90 up against his shoulder and his finger on the trigger. Using the beam of light fixed on the gun, he swept the immediate area around the 'gate. "Why have we 'gated to a planet that's in the middle of the night?" he hissed.
"The information from the M.A.L.P. confirmed that our departure time should have coincided with midday here. I don't know what went wrong, sir," Sam said frowning.
"Have we got any way of calculating the real time?" Jack asked irritated. This was not a good start for his first command in sixty years.
"Not really, colonel," Sam said shaking her head. "Without knowing the passage of the stars and moon," she looked up at the night sky, "I mean moons, it's hard to tell."
All three of them looked up and stared at the moonscape. One huge silver moon dominated the sky and looked close enough to be touched with an outstretched hand. The other was much smaller and hung in the starry black like a brooding red-veined eye. It made Jack shudder.
"Do we know when it will be sunrise?" Daniel asked anxiously.
"Well..." Sam began.
"Daniel? Do you mean nautical, civilian or astronomical?" Jack enquired his eyes sweeping the perimeter of the Stargate continuously.
"There's more than one kind, y'know," Jack went on.
"I just meant when is it likely to get light?"
"Ah," Jack nodded, "You mean astronomical. It's the most commonly applied," he said and smiled.
Daniel had no idea why Jack had gone off on this tangent, it held no helpful information at all but somehow it made Daniel feel better.
"Colonel? I think we're just about to experience sunrise," Sam said with a note of alarm in her voice.
As Jack and Daniel turned to look in the direction Sam had pointed, they could see a brilliantly white spot of light on the horizon, piercing the blackness of the night like a laser.
Jack spun around to look at the moons. The huge silver moon was sinking slowly down past the horizon. The small bloodshot one seemed to remain in the place where he'd first seen it.
Jack didn't like this planet. He hadn't seen too many, well two on missions including this one and the other where he was training. There was something about this place that made him feel uncomfortable. He didn't know what it was, he just knew he knew it.
Within ten minutes, the sun was up and the large moon was just a ghostly disc in the sky. The blood red moon was fainter but still making a clearly defined image.
Forced to put on his sunglasses, Jack could now get a better look at their immediate surroundings. There were a few trees dotting the landscape but the big surprise was that the Stargate was located in what looked like a park. The grass around the 'gate was tended, being cut short like a velvet blanket. A pathway leading away from the steps of the 'gate, meandered between distant trees. On either side of the steps were large urns, overflowing with brightly coloured flowers. Next to the DHD was a green park bench facing away from the huge stone ring.
"Whaddya make of it, Daniel?" Jack asked as he watched Sam studying a hand held doohickey.
"It looks like we're in a local park," Daniel commented reading a little metal plaque fixed to the bench back.
"I got that," Jack said irritably. "What else do we have here?"
Daniel scanned the outer edges of the park. "There are buildings over there," he said indicating a line of rooftops, "So there's habitation. Having a park means some kind of communal usage. Call it a public facility if you will. I mean look at the place. There's no litter, no graffiti..."
"Yeah, not even a dog turd," Jack muttered.
"It also means that this society values well kept urban open spaces. That implies there is a good level of organisation to maintain it."
"Civic pride, huh?" Jack added.
"Yeah," Daniel nodded.
"Carter? Whaddya got?"
"Levels of industrial pollutants are similar to mid twentieth century America, sir."
"A home from home," Jack grimaced. The park reminded him of the one where he'd taught Charlie how to ride his bicycle. There was something very familiar about it, except his didn't have a very large Stargate slap bang in the middle of it. Jack's local park had a war memorial at its centre. He didn't say anything about the similarity because he knew he was always referring to his own time and memories and he thought he must sound like a broken record.
"Are there any clues about Methuselah in the vicinity?" Jack asked to either member of his team able to give him an answer.
"No, sir," Sam answered, not that Jack expected her to say anything else. Her attention focused on the scientific analysis of the environment.
Daniel, on the other hand, was still looking at the metal plaque on the bench.
Jack strode over the grass to join him. "What's so interesting, Daniel?"
Daniel drew his index finger over the smooth surface of the little sign. "Look what it says here."
"Methuselah made me," Jack read aloud slowly. "Methuselah made me? What the hell does that mean?"
"I have no idea," Daniel replied shaking his head.
Leading his team, Jack made towards the edge of the park and the buildings beyond. The three SG-1 members stood by the park railings and stared across the street to a row of timber-clad houses, each in their own tidy plots with pretty, front gardens.
Jack blinked. This row of houses was exactly the same as the row of houses where he and Sara had first lived after their wedding. Charlie had been born in a house like these, had spent his first eight years in a house like these. Jack scanned the mailboxes, each painted red and planted by the front gates. There were house numbers painted in white on the side of every one. He saw number 385. That was the number of his house.
Looking up at the porch, he could see the number repeated on a wooden sign suspended from the porch roof by a short pair of chains. Jack remembered teetering on a chair to reach up and hang the sign, Sara below him holding on to the back of it, giggling as she tried to steady Jack's weight.
His eyes widened as he held his breath taking in the details of the house. He saw the little box on the porch step, the one he'd made to hold the glass milk bottles delivered by Jan Lemann. Jack choked when he saw the blue and green silk scarf that Sara often wore, draped over the old rocker by the front door.
"Jack?" Daniel asked concerned.
"This was my house until 1942. Sara and I lived here when Charlie was little."
"You mean it looks like your house?" Daniel checked glancing around the porch.
"No! This is my house," Jack gasped and went through the front gate and up the two steps to the wooden deck of the porch. "This is Sara's scarf, the one I got her when I was in Spain in thirty-six."
"You fought in the Spanish civil war?" Daniel asked quickly.
"No, I was on a covert mission just before war broke out," Jack replied distractedly. "None of this makes sense. This is a perfect replica of my house," he declared pulling off his cap and scrubbing his fingers through his hair.
"On the outside maybe," Daniel said thoughtfully. "We should take a look inside."
"Yeah," Jack muttered grim faced. He knew he didn't like this planet. Everything was wrong about it, off somehow. Putting on his cap, back to front this time with the peak folded upwards, he nodded to Sam.
Carefully turning the doorknob, he pushed the door open. Shouldering his P90, Jack entered the house very carefully. Sam followed quickly, her weapon trained on the hallway, her finger on the trigger. Daniel entered last having taken a precautionary glance over his shoulder before he did. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled. He had the feeling they were being watched.
Jack indicated that Sam should continue along the hallway to the kitchen that stretched the width of the house at the back, while he went into the living room at the front of the house.
Everything was laid out perfectly. Jack saw his armchair by the fireside and Sara's opposite his. The small semi-circular table was in its usual place under the window and sporting the white lace runner that Sara had always insisted on putting there to protect its varnished surface when she placed a vase of flowers on it.
There was the small bookcase Jack had made to accommodate her recipe books and his books on astronomy. Charlie's books were there too. The square of carpet in the centre of the room, bordered by dark varnished floorboards still had that little ruck by the fireplace. Then Jack heard it. The mantel clock was ticking. The sound made him shiver.
He saw the radio on the sideboard opposite the fireplace, its large wooden box devoid of even one speck of dust.
Shaking himself, he knew he was distracted by the painful familiarity of the room. He was allowing himself and the rest of his team to be vulnerable when he should be alert and open to any threat that might present itself. The room was empty of Sara and Charlie. It was empty of anyone except Jack. He should move on and check out the rest of the house.
He met Daniel and Sam in the hallway. "Kitchen's clear, sir," she whispered.
"So's the living room," Jack whispered back. "There are two bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs, big one at the front and small one at the back next to the bathroom. I'll take the one at the front. Carter, take the back bedroom, Daniel check out the bathroom."
Quietly, Jack took point and crept up the wooden stairs turning along the landing to scope the front bedroom. He peered around the door into the room he and Sara had shared. The double bed was made and tidy with its oh so familiar pink satin comforter.
Sara's dressing table, complete with her brush and comb set and a small bottle of scent sat under the window. The silver locket and chain that Jack had given her when she told him she was expecting Charlie, hung over the corner of the upright mirror on the table. Sara had never kept the locket in her jewellery box saying she liked to keep it over the mirror where she could look at it even if she wasn't wearing it.
Jack picked up the locket and opened it to see two tiny photographs, one in each half of the locket. There was the head and shoulders picture of Jack, in his uniform, the other of Sara, smiling with her red lips and loving blue eyes.
His chest tightened. They'd been happy then. He remembered how excited Sara had been when they'd first looked at the house, deciding to buy it on the spot. Jack's lower jaw worked, it was as if this whole thing was some cosmic joke and he was the butt of it.
Sam and Daniel were waiting for him at the top of the stairs. "Bathroom and back bedroom are clear, sir," Sam said.
"Okay, we'll go back downstairs to the kitchen and consider what we've got here," Jack said flatly. As he heard the sound of Daniel and Sam's footsteps reverberating down the wooden stairs, Jack took a quick look at the other two rooms. The small bathroom was how he expected to find it. Jack had to take a deep breath before he went into the small bedroom. It had been Charlie's.
Jack let out a strangled choke. Everything that he remembered about Charlie's room was there. His toys, the wooden plane Jack had made for him still hung from the ceiling. Charlie's bed was made and tidy. Sara had always insisted their son do his chores before being allowed to play and that included keeping his room in order. There was a half-finished jigsaw on the table and an open book on the floor.
Jack swept a hand over his tear-laden eyes before retreating from the room.
"So whadda we know?" Jack asked joining Sam and Daniel in the kitchen.
He glanced around, its blue linoleum with the black splodges pristine clean. He'd wanted plain green but Sara had won that argument easily. He sat down at the scrubbed wooden table running his fingertips over the smooth surface. He'd always done that. It was a running joke between himself and Sara. He had always complained about the gritty feel of salt crystals and she always said she'd cleaned the surface and dared him to find anything wrong with it.
If he won, he got to choose where in the house to make love to her. If she won, she chose how he would do that. Of course, their options were limited because of Charlie but sometimes if the boy was going to a sleepover at Gary Ringling's house Sara would deliberately sprinkle salt on the table for Jack to find.
It was Sara's way of telling Jack that she wanted him. Over the years, the salt cellar remained on the shelf, its crystals never spilling on to the table top. That was when Ed Landen began calling more frequently. Jack wondered now why he, Jack, had never made the link.
"The place is absolutely of its time," Daniel said.
"Actually it's of absolutely of my time," Jack muttered and though it was for him, it must have seemed like a museum piece to the other members of his team.
"Colonel? Is there anything out of place or anything missing or in addition to what you remember?" Sam asked.
"It's all perfect," Jack replied. "Too perfect, except..."
Glancing up at the shelf next to the window, he frowned. "Hang on," he said slowly. "There's something missing."
With that, he got up and pushing back his chair, almost ran out of the kitchen. Daniel steadied it as he followed. Jack had nearly tipped it over in his haste.
Now standing in the living room, Jack stared at the radio on the sideboard. Pointing at it, he waved his hand. "This was never in the living room," he said emphatically, "It was always in the kitchen. Sara listened to it constantly."
"Glenn Miller?" Daniel enquired.
Jack nodded and then frowned. "Why is it in here and not in the kitchen where it's supposed to be?" he asked to no one in particular.
Sam stepped forward and took off her backpack. Pulling out her little handheld device, she moved it up and down in front of the radio.
"I'm getting a high level E.M. reading," she said turning to look at Jack.
"And that means?"
"I don't think this is a radio at all," she went on, "I think it's a hologram emitter."
"That can't be right," Daniel put in. "If this place was a hologram we could just walk straight through the walls."
Sam nodded. "Okay, call it a solid imager. I think this device is actually creating what we see here. I know everything is solid and feels real but I don't think it is. This place is an elaborate fabrication."
"Ya think?" Jack shot back. "Of course it is! The question is who did this and why."
"Methuselah!" Daniel said enthusiastically.
"What?" Jack asked.
"Methuselah made me," Daniel said, eyebrows raised and with a look of excitement on his face.
"So this whole joke is played by Methuselah?" Jack growled. "That's not funny."
"Maybe Methuselah created a familiar place to make you feel secure here."
"And maybe the crazy old man just wants to test my sanity!" Jack threw back.
Daniel knew there was no point in discussing Methuselah's motives for recreating Jack's house. Jack was suspicious and angered by it.
"If all of this is just fancy packaging, how do we unwrap it and find out what's really here?" Jack asked.
"Excuse me, sir," Sam said with a small roll of fabric in her hand. When she spread it out on the mantel Jack could see it contained a number of small instruments. It looked like the sort of thing a cat burglar would use.
Carefully Sam unfastened the tiny screws that held the wooden box of the radio in place. While she did this, Jack sat down in what looked like his armchair. He pulled off his cap again and twisted it in his hands.
"Remind me about the thing you found, Daniel, the story of the people here and Methuselah."
"Um well, Methuselah came here to this planet but refused to allow the people to have anything to do with his technology. They decided to take it anyway, destroyed themselves and Methuselah stayed on as his self-imposed punishment."
Suddenly several things happened at once. The room in which they were began to wobble, or at least whatever was generating the room seemed to falter. Patches of the walls and floors flickered and disappeared, revealing stone and rock surfaces. An ear-splitting whine came from nowhere but was piercingly uncomfortable enough to force all three SG-1 members to clap their hands over their ears.
Sam had shoved the inner workings of the now dismantled radio between her knees so that she could cover her ears. It was the only thing she could think of doing to avoid dropping and smashing the device on the floor, assuming the floor remained.
Their surroundings were now flashing and flickering, alternating between the living room and what looked like a dark cave.
The ground beneath Daniel's feet switched from the smooth floor of the house to the uneven and loose surface of rock. Swaying he reached out but there was nothing he could grab to steady himself. Jack was already on his butt, his armchair having disappeared.
Then the noise and movement stopped. They were in almost total darkness in a large cave. Daniel detected a dank smell typical of subterranean caverns where a lack of airflow generated a damp stagnant odour.
"Crap," Jack cursed as he got to his feet brushing wet, cave detritus from his backside. "Carter? Daniel? You two okay?"
"Yes, sir," Sam replied releasing the electronic device that had masqueraded as a radio from between her legs.
A choking sneezing sound told Jack that Daniel was all right albeit suffering from the fine cloud of stone dust now settling on the cave floor.
"What the hell happened, captain?"
"I'm not sure, sir. One minute I was studying the inner workings of your radio and the next minute the integrity of the fabrication field was breaking down."
"You must have touched something," Jack growled fetching his flashlight out of his backpack.
"I don't think so," Sam replied.
"Well how d'ya explain our current situation, captain?"
"I'm sorry, sir, I can't."
"Daniel? Any suggestions?"
"Only that we're in a cave. This is where we must have 'gated to all along."
"So the Stargate and the DHD are somewhere in this cave or nearby?"
"Possibly," Daniel said chewing his lip. He certainly hoped so.
"Well we need to check out this cave and find the Stargate. Locating the 'gate and DHD is the priority," Jack said already sweeping the walls with his flashlight to find an exit. He found a gap in the rock at either end of the cave. One had to be the equivalent of the front door of the house, which implied the Stargate should be beyond it. The problem was, during the morphing of the house into the cave he was completely disoriented and he really didn't know which way was up. They would have to search beyond both exits to be sure of finding their way out and home.
Jack wasn't forgetting about the mission. They were there to try and find Methuselah if he was still alive but Jack had to balance that with his priority of finding the 'gate. It would be no good locating Methuselah if after, they couldn't get back to Earth.
He didn't want to split his team either. Memories of that disastrous mission with Polanski and the ravenous dogs had Jack wanting to keep everyone together but Sam's technical skills would be better used if she continued her research on the radio device. He could choose to take one cave exit while Daniel took the other. It would cut down the time needed to reconnoitre the cave and its environs and they might even find Methuselah's petrified body.
If they couldn't find a way out then whatever Carter could do with that device might be their only chance. Jack looked at her. She was very capable with a weapon, she had self-defence training and he was sure she could look after herself. Jack believed with an unshakable certainty that his job in these circumstances was to command the strong and protect those who needed it.
"Carter? Do what you can with that device. We might need it to get outta here. Daniel, you're with me."
Gratefully Daniel fell into step alongside Jack. He'd rather be doing something than nothing, even if it meant trailing through yet another system of caves.
"Methuselah likes his caves," Jack muttered resentfully and Daniel nodded. He and Jack had been thinking the same thing.
They walked on through the exit and arrived in a very large cavern indeed. Daniel trained his flashlight towards the roof of the cave but couldn't see it. Jack swept his light sideways and to his front but there were no walls close enough to see.
"Either this is one humungous cave or there's somethin' weird goin' on...again!" Jack was beginning to get angry. So far, this mission had turned out to be a visit to his past. There was little to go on, if anything, that identified Methuselah's location. The 'gate was nowhere to be found and...
"Hey!" Daniel said suddenly. "Over there."
Daniel's flashlight had picked out a peculiar shape off to their left. As he and Jack approached the shadowy outline, it became clear it was a seated figure, much larger in scale than a human was.
Jack's arm shot out and halted Daniel's forward momentum. "Wait up, Daniel. This could be an exploding statue for all we know."
"I think its Methuselah," Daniel answered and for a moment, Jack's hand on him drove out all thoughts of their current situation. Daniel's mind spun back to Denver and Jack's touch on him then. Daniel's breathing increased and he felt heat bloom in his cheeks. This was the first time Jack had touched him since and the sensation overshadowed where they were now and what they doing. Just for a moment, just one moment Daniel thought, a touch was all he wanted even for a single second before the contact would be broken.
But it wasn't broken. Jack continued to hold Daniel's arm gently pulling him to turn around. "You have to learn to curb your enthusiasm," Jack said and the heat in Daniel's cheeks flamed anew. "We have to be careful, you have to be careful," Jack insisted. "We can't afford to lose you on a mission, Daniel."
Daniel took a breath and Jack could see the storm brewing. Just as he let go of Daniel's arm and took a step back, it broke over him.
"Why, you patronising bastard, Jack! I've been on dozens of offworld missions and what? Let me think. This is your second mission? Who's kidding who here?"
"It's my responsibility to look out for a civilian, any civilian on my team so don't slam me for doing my job!"
"There are ways and ways of doing that, Jack. I don't like being treated like a weak man who needs protecting!" Daniel took another deep breath trying to calm himself. "Fine, you do your job but for God's sake let me do mine!"
Then something happened that wasn't supposed to. It was against everything that Jack knew and understood. He grabbed Daniel by the shoulders and pulled him close. Before Daniel could do anything to stop him, Jack was kissing him.
It was inappropriate and unacceptable for a man in the uniform of a United States colonel to be doing this. They were on a mission. Jack was the officer in command but he couldn't help it. He had to kiss Daniel, had to show him how much he cared.
The kiss could have reached passionate proportions very quickly and Jack knew he would not have the self-control to stop it so having kissed him, Jack placed Daniel a step backwards and out of his arms.
Daniel could just see Jack's expression in the dark of the cavern partially illuminated by Daniel's flashlight. Jack looked confused but more than that, he was appealing to Daniel to understand. He ought to say sorry but he couldn't. Jack wasn't sorry.
Daniel hesitated. He wanted to reciprocate, to kiss Jack but he could sense the moment was over.
"We should get back to Methuselah," Jack said reluctance clearly sounding in his voice.
"Yeah," Daniel nodded and turned again to look at the giant statue, "But you have to let me get closer. There might be writings or symbols."
"Sure, go ahead. Just don't make any sudden moves, okay?"
Daniel gave Jack a small smile and moved towards the seated stone figure. "Jack, train your flashlight at the head. I'll do the same. We need all the light we can get because I don't want to miss anything."
They shone their lights on the face of the giant statue, which was at least twenty-five feet above them. Jack growled.
"What?" Daniel whispered.
"That's Methuselah alright. I recognise the long nose, tight mouth and mean eyes," Jack muttered.
Blinking, Daniel strained to see the details on the statue. He couldn't see anything tight or mean about it but rather the form of an elderly man still holding himself with strength and grace.
Their tracing lights moved down the monument. Methuselah was sitting, his arms resting on the frame of what could only be described as a throne, his hands curling over the ends. He wore long ankle length robes. Only his toes peeked out from underneath. The plinth was plain, just a large smooth cube on which he sat.
Daniel's light illuminated the left hand side of the plinth, Jack's the right side. The reflection of metal flashed and died, and Daniel moved closer to find the source. He found a little plaque fastened to the front face of the plinth. It read, 'Methuselah is me'.
"Ah...Jack? Look at this."
Jack leaned in to see what it was that had taken Daniel's attention. "Yeah, and? It's the same plaque that was on the park bench."
"No, it isn't. The wording is different on this one."
"Are you sure?" Jack asked peering at the sign more closely.
"Yes," Daniel said sounding a little irritated. Words were his job. Words were what he did. Of course, he was sure.
"Looks the same to me," Jack muttered drawing his fingertip across the metal.
Light flooded the cavern. Jack straightened up and wheeled around, his P90 at his shoulder.
Daniel glanced between Jack and the metal plaque and wondered if it was that Ancient gene of Jack's that had caused the illumination of the cavern. Looking up, Daniel checked for spotlights but there were none. He couldn't make out where the light was coming from. It was just there wholly dispelling the darkness.
Once Jack was satisfied there wasn't an immediate hostile threat he grabbed his radio and called Sam. "Carter? Anything happening where you are?"
"No, sir," she replied.
"Well leave the cave and come through to the cavern next door. You're gonna like this."
Sam passed through the cave exit and was standing next to Jack and Daniel within a minute of Jack's order. Craning her neck, she was already doing the same as Daniel and trying to find a source for the light.
"Sam, when Jack touched that metal plaque all the lights came on. It has to be something to do with his Ancient gene," Daniel informed her excitedly.
"Well having seen the colonel restart the Z.P.M. in my lab, I think I have to agree with your assumption, Daniel."
"When you've quite finished talking about me," Jack growled, "We need to figure out what's goin' on here."
Neither Daniel nor Sam had a chance to answer him because at that moment a glowing light appeared beside the statue. Now Sam had her weapon trained on the phenomenon just as Jack did.
Within a second, the glow had dissipated and in its place stood a tall elderly man dressed in ankle length robes.
Jack took a risk and raised his head from his gun sight. "Methuselah?"
"Yes," said the man, "I am Methuselah."
"You're supposed to be dead," Daniel observed.
"You should know, Doctor Jackson, that not all histories are accurate."
"You...you know my name?"
"Yes, I do. I know all three of you. I know what you do, how you think, your hopes and desires, your fears and insecurities."
Jack frowned. "Forget the psychobabble, Methuselah. Just tell us how to get outta here, oh and before you do that, you could explain why you froze me for sixty years!"
"Colonel O'Neill." Methuselah smiled but his voice was dispassionate. "I apologise for doing that but you were in grave danger. I had no choice but to try and preserve your life."
"But you didn't come back and release me. You just left me and I woke up in a time that isn't mine!"
"Yes, I apologise for that too. You must understand, colonel I had to deal with events that forced me to leave you where you were. It was not my intention."
"You stole my life!" yelled Jack, his eyes boring into Methuselah's.
"Stay outta this, Daniel," Jack said angrily, "This is between him and me. You made me miss my son living and dying. If I'd been there for him, he might have survived! My wife believed I was dead or worse, that I'd gone A.W.O.L. and all you can say is you were too busy doin' somethin' else to revive me."
"As I have explained to you, Colonel O'Neill, I did what I had to do to save you."
"You could have let me fight!" Jack's anger was about to spill over. The injustice of his loss of years was overwhelming his mind. If he could, he would demand those years back but he knew that wasn't possible...at least that's what he thought but he had no evidence one way or the other.
"Send me back," he demanded. "Send me back and let me have the life that was mine and my son's."
"I can't do that," Methuselah said quietly.
"You can't or you won't?" Jack snarled.
"I cannot alter time."
"No, but you can mess up mine."
"It was not part of my plan to leave you for so long, colonel. I can only apologise again for my oversight."
"Oversight? Oversight!" Jack turned away. He was seething now and wanted to lash out but he suspected Methuselah would stop him before his fist could make contact. Jack could always shoot him though.
After a moment, Jack turned back. "Am I like you?" He had to ask the question. Was he an alien?
"No, you are not, though you share some of our characteristics."
"I cannot say, colonel. I do not know."
"What characteristics do you have?" Daniel interjected before Jack boiled over.
"My race has many."
"And what are they?" Jack growled.
"I cannot tell you. The Others would not approve."
Jack glared at Methuselah. "Others?"
"No, Jack," Daniel said. "The Others. Do you mean others like you?"
Methuselah nodded slowly.
"Are you the Ancients?" Daniel asked the intensity of knowledge about to be gained, etched on his face.
"To you perhaps," Methuselah smiled. "We are known as the Altera in my home galaxy."
"What about the story that you landed on this planet and destroyed it?"
"No, the story is just that, a story. There is no basis for it except in my imagination. It was supposed to encourage curious races not to come here."
"Didn't work," Jack shrugged. "Are you going to explain why I share characteristics with you or are you gonna leave me to guess?"
"I told you, I don't know but I did know you were like us when you staggered into my base. That is why I had to preserve your life. You are an important link between my people and yours."
"In what way?" Daniel asked quickly. "In what way is Jack important?"
"Doctor Jackson," Methuselah said with a sigh, "Only you know that."
Methuselah ran his hands over his thighs as though straightening out his robes.
"I came here to show you where the Stargate is but it is too late. I cannot stay any longer. I must leave. Now!"
There was urgency in Methuselah's voice that Jack didn't like.
Methuselah turned into a glowy cloud and disappeared just as a low zinging sound filled the cavern. Daniel leapt out of the way as a set of large rings dropped from nowhere.
Sam and Jack trained their weapons on the rings as Daniel went for his handgun. Just before the rings retreated, Jack could see four closely grouped heavily armoured men in large helmets, the eye detail on them pulsing red.
At the same time, the vast cavern space morphed into a rocky cave. The Stargate was revealed, along with the DHD. Methuselah's statue remained. At the sight of the soldiers and their staff weapons pointing at them, Jack grabbed Sam's arm and dragged her and himself behind the statue. Daniel dived headlong for the monument too.
All three of them hardly dared breathe as they hid themselves. Jack knew they wouldn't be able to stay unnoticed for long. He would have to take action. Now crouched behind its sparse protection, Jack peered slowly around the corner of the plinth.
Just inches from his nose, Jack heard and smelled the snap and fizz of a staff weapon.
Jack stepped out from behind the plinth with his hands up. His P90 dangled by its strap from his shoulder. He wasn't crazy enough to deliver himself up to the enemy so readily though. He was hoping Carter and Daniel would attack the Jaffa and take them by surprise.
Sam waved and gesticulated at Daniel, trying to tell him to shuffle to the other end of the plinth. She knew the Jaffa would be on them fast. At that moment, Jack was talking to them and gradually edging away from the statue. His idea of being a distraction would be short-lived. The Jaffa weren't stupid and wouldn't be fooled for very long. Sam just hoped that the element of surprise might give them the edge.
"See, like I said to Glenn...do ya know Glenn? I'm talkin' Glenn Miller. Anyways, I was sayin' to him just the other day, Glenn I said, String of Pearls is a great song. Of course, I like In the Mood best because it's got a really great swing beat to it."
As Jack continued to speak in the hope of confusing the Jaffa, Daniel held his weapon and glanced at Sam who was ready and waiting for his signal that he understood her strategy. He nodded and sprang out from behind Methuselah's statue.
Suddenly gunfire slashed through the silence of the cavern as Sam let rip with her P90 and Daniel fired his gun. Already disarmed, Jack lifted his arm and jammed his elbow into the throat of the nearest Jaffa, driving him backwards until he hit the floor sprawling and helpless.
The three other Jaffa wheeled around. Sam strafed one of them with her P90 until he was dead. Daniel took on another, firing until the clip was exhausted. He knew he was in trouble. By the time he rearmed his gun the Jaffa aiming at him would probably have killed him. Daniel was without a means of defence.
The staff weapon fired, knocked Daniel backwards and he crumpled to the ground several yards further back than where he originally stood. Clutching his waist, Daniel fell unconscious, blood seeping from the blackened and smoking wound.
The Jaffa who had shot Daniel was dead before he could take stock. Jack made sure of that. He'd seen Daniel fly backwards having been shot and violent anger shook Jack's body. Lashing out, he'd snapped the Jaffa's neck. Jack stumbled towards Daniel and dropped to his knees. He didn't know where he could touch Daniel without causing him more pain.
Jack could hear Sam still in combat with the remaining Jaffa. He glanced over his shoulder once and made the decision she could manage by herself.
Turning back to Daniel the smell of cauterised flesh made Jack heave but he forced himself to look, to check Daniel for any more injuries. If Jack had known this was going to be the result of his ruse, he wouldn't have done it. He had to get Daniel back home and fast.
Daniel croaked and then coughed. "Jack?" he said his eyes closed and his breathing laboured.
"Its okay, Daniel, I'm here," Jack whispered and glanced over his shoulder at Sam. She had finished off the last soldier and was staring at his body wild eyed and panting.
"Carter, dial the 'gate!" yelled Jack.
Sam responded immediately and was punching the glyphs on the DHD and looking up at the Stargate, willing it to spin more quickly.
Then Jack did something that he could never have predicted, could never have suspected himself capable of but he knew inexplicably that he could save Daniel. He held his hand over Daniel's wound, just a millimetre away from his burnt flesh. Jack felt his body heat up, particularly his arm. He could feel the heat build in his hand. Concentrating hard, Jack attempted to heal Daniel's injury.
Daniel was unconscious again and unaware of what Jack was doing.
After a few moments, Jack opened his eyes and looked at Daniel's body. It was intact without even a scratch.
Daniel gasped in a breath and his eyes flew open. "Jack?" he croaked.
"How do you feel?" Jack asked anxiously. He was worried that what he'd done might have some hidden negative effect on Daniel.
"Great...considering I took a staff blast."
"I don't think so," Jack lied, "You just got a glancing blow and it must have knocked you out for a few seconds."
"But what about this hole in my jacket?" Daniel asked feeling his skin through the charred opening in the fabric.
"Maybe the blunt end just caught it." Jack grabbed Daniel's hand and arm, helping him up.
The sound of the wormhole forming stopped Daniel from asking any further questions.
Sam turned to Jack. "Sir?"
"Go!" Jack insisted while still holding Daniel by the arm. "Sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, Jack," Daniel answered but his brain was trying to make all the pieces fit.
After SG1's visit to the infirmary for the usual tests and checks, the three members went their separate ways. Sam disappeared into her lab, Daniel went to his office to research Methuselah some more and Jack hid in his room that doubled as an office and a sanctuary.
Jack almost ran the last few yards to his office door, flying through it to close it with a bang. Slumping into a chair, he propped his arms on the desk and rested his head, his thoughts racing to recapture the events in Methuselah's cave.
In a nutshell, Jack had healed Daniel of his wounds. He knew that to be true, after all, Daniel was down the hall in his office but how had it happened? Step-by-step, Jack recounted the events of those few minutes. Had anything happened to him that would have given him the power to heal Daniel? Had Methuselah imbued him with the capacity to perform such a miracle?
Jack lifted his head. Miracle! He'd made a miracle happen but that wasn't possible. As far as Jack knew there was only one person who could do that and Jack was absolutely sure he wasn't the son of God. There had to be another explanation.
Jack remembered the decision to try to help Daniel but he couldn't for the life of him, figure out how he had come to that decision. It was like an unconscious action with very little in the way of intellectual reasoning to drive it. Jack just knew what he had to do – it was as simple as that, though he didn't know how he knew it.
Was his newly discovered ability connected to the Ancient gene he had? Jack needed to find out but without actually admitting what he'd done to Daniel, he had no idea how he could get to the truth.
Then there was Jack's deliberate lie to Daniel. Why had he done that? He grimaced. It was panic. Jack had panicked, unable to understand how he had performed what was apparently a miracle.
Jack sighed. Perhaps what had happened was a one off, an aberration, an event contributed to by the environment or some other alien influence. He hoped that the responsibility for Daniel's survival was not his but he knew he was denying the reality of his own actions.
For the time being, Jack would keep the secret of his ability to himself though he knew, inevitably, he would have to fess up.
"Good early evening," Jack announced making a show of looking at his watch.
Daniel looked up from a large map spread out across his desk. "What's the significance of it being early evening, Jack?" he asked folding the large sheet of paper.
"It's time to go home," Jack said but he looked away, glancing around him and not focusing on anything in particular.
Daniel's brow contracted. "But..."
Jack interrupted smiling. "We've got three days off now, so stop working." Then he dipped his head. "Got any plans?" he asked hopefully.
"I don't know. Have you got any?" Daniel replied carefully.
"I might," grinned Jack sliding his hands into his pockets.
Jack heard the disappointment in Daniel's voice and hurriedly spoke again. "Was just wonderin' if you wanted to come over, y'know, for dinner."
"Is this a team night?"
"No. Unless you want it to be," Jack added quickly.
"Well it's up to you obviously."
"Okay. How about you, and I mean just you, come over around seven."
Daniel smiled and nodded. "Shall I bring dessert?" He had his own idea about what he'd like to consume after dinner and it wasn't ice cream.
Jack checked the contents of his oven and then grabbed a beer from the fridge. For years Sara had always done the cooking, looked after the house and dealt with all those other wifely things but now Jack was having to do it all for himself. His home cooked menu was pretty limited but he was gradually learning to widen his palate. Most of his military experience had been in Europe, which was where he'd tried different kinds of food. He'd never had the opportunity to try Chinese or Indian cuisine but how easy it was now.
Jack had latched on to the idea of calling for a takeout very quickly, first because it meant he didn't have to cook and second because he could try different dishes from different countries. Maybe this was one good thing about being propelled into the twenty first century. Besides the Stargate programme, the other good thing was knowing Daniel.
Knowing Daniel focused Jack's mind. He wanted to know Daniel inside and out. When Jack thought about the inside part, his stomach suddenly felt like it had a butterfly trapped in it. Those funny little rippling sensations made Jack's heart beat faster and his mouth go dry.
It was all to do with penetrative sex and being inside Daniel. Jack wasn't sure he could do that, wasn't clear he could have Daniel do that to him either. That summer with Bobby Grant had never gone as far as he was contemplating now. Shaking his head, Jack yanked open a cabinet door and pulled out two plates with his free hand, dropping them gently on the kitchen table with a clinking sound.
Jack didn't know anything about sliding his cock into another man's ass, knew nothing about how. He stared at the pale blue plates. He wasn't sure he could do it. Jack wasn't even sure if he wanted to.
When the doorbell went, he jumped, his beer threatening to throw itself out of the neck of the bottle. Daniel was on the doorstep.
Daniel smiled and held up a bottle of wine and Jack stepped back to let him enter. As he walked past it was obvious to Daniel that Jack was preoccupied.
Jack led Daniel into the kitchen and took the wine from him. "Beer?" he offered.
"No thanks, I prefer wine," Daniel smiled nodding at the bottle on the counter.
"Right," Jack breathed and sprang into action, pulling open a drawer and rifling through the cutlery to find a corkscrew.
Once open, Jack poured the dark red liquid into a glass and thrust it at Daniel.
"Are you nervous about something?" Daniel asked sipping his wine.
"Me? Nah," Jack said shaking his head vigorously. "Hope you like roast beef," he added glancing anxiously at the cooker.
Daniel smiled again. Jack was nervous and Daniel thought he knew why. Jack was nervous about the dinner. "Love it," Daniel laughed and hoped he could inject some confidence into his host.
It wasn't long before Jack relaxed, he and Daniel taking advantage of the wine and beer as the dinner cooked. With a couple of saucepans boiling potatoes and green beans, the men sat opposite each other at the kitchen table and talked.
"You're getting to be a good cook, Jack," Daniel announced dabbing the napkin at the corners of his mouth.
"You mean better than those MRE things we use offworld?" Jack asked slightly offended. "I'm good with camp type food."
"Sure you are," Daniel smiled remembering Jack's first attempt at producing a meal from the vacuum-sealed field rations. Daniel had just chewed on a power bar instead.
"It wasn't my fault!" Jack protested. "I'm used to stuff in cans or dried in a packet."
"Never mind, your roast beef was wonderful," Daniel said, "And the mashed potatoes weren't lumpy at all."
"Yes they were," frowned Jack, "So don't lie, Daniel. It doesn't suit you."
Shrugging, Daniel held up his hands in a gesture of admission. "Okay you got me but I didn't mind the lumps, not really."
They looked at each other and grinned.
With the cleaning up in the kitchen done, Jack slumped into an armchair and Daniel sprawled on the sofa.
Jack watched him for a few moments. He looked relaxed and attractive, stretched out with one leg along the sofa cushions, the other at an angle on the floor.
"You said you were gonna bring dessert," Jack said looking hopeful. "I don't remember seeing what you brought."
Daniel smiled and got up from his reclining position. Crossing the carpet to stand over Jack still in his chair, Daniel was smiling.
"What?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"I brought dessert. You're looking at it."
Confused, Jack frowned. "I'm looking at you."
"Exactly," Daniel nodded emphatically, "I'm your dessert!"
Daniel dropped to his knees and nestled himself between Jack's thighs.
"I know you said you wanted to take it easy, a step at a time but if I don't get to kiss you I'm going to burst."
Jack grinned. "Be my guest."
Daniel reached out his hands and placing them gently on Jack's face, pulled him forward.
Their lips met and Jack was surprised at how soft and mobile Daniel's mouth was. Kissing Daniel was very different from kissing Sara. Daniel's kiss was firm and strong, his lips bigger than Sara's. Jack moaned with pleasure. This was the first time they'd actually kissed properly. The kiss in Methuselah's cave wasn't the same. The last time they'd been this close was in Denver and Jack had concentrated on kissing another part of Daniel's anatomy.
As they kissed, Daniel pressed against Jack's groin feeling fire lick around his cock and balls. Jack pressed back. He was already hard.
Breaking off from Daniel's kisses and gasping, it was Jack's turn to hold Daniel's face in his hands. "Can we do this in bed?"
"Wherever you want, Jack," Daniel smiled.
Jack walked to his bedroom with Daniel following. He didn't feel he could hold Daniel's hand to lead him, it just felt strange. To him it wasn't a manly thing to do. Jack knew he had a lot to learn about his own feelings and attitudes to being intimate with another man. He also had a lot of unlearning to do.
Once in the bedroom, Jack wasn't sure what he should do, so going with the universal precursor to having sex, he turned his back on Daniel and took off his clothes. Coughing, he took a breath. He'd have to turn around to face Daniel and let him take a good look.
Daniel was already naked. "Oh God," he murmured under his breath.
Jack spun around. "What? What's the matter?" he asked anxiously.
"There's nothing the matter, Jack. It's just you. God, you look good!"
"I do?" Jack said smiling. "I'm afraid I'm a bit battered and worn. Looking good wasn't something I'd thought about."
"Believe me, Jack, you look very good," Daniel said seriously and slowly advanced on him.
"Not as good as you," Jack breathed, his eyes roving over Daniel's firm body.
Daniel kissed Jack as he let his hands sweep over Jack's shoulders and back. Their chests touched and Jack dropped his hands to Daniel's buttocks and squeezed. Pulling Daniel to him, he pressed their groins together. They both groaned loudly.
When Daniel echoed Jack's hands and placed his own on Jack's buttocks, Jack unexpectedly froze.
"What's the matter?" Daniel asked letting go immediately.
"I...I've never done this before. I don't know how," Jack said with chagrin. It was embarrassing that his knowledge was so limited.
"I'll show you. Don't worry about it, Jack. You'll soon get the hang of it."
"There's more to it than that."
"What? What is it?" Daniel asked stepping back slightly as Jack released his hold on Daniel.
"I was brought up to believe that all traffic was one way – out, not in."
Daniel smiled. "Thousands of gay men will tell you differently, Jack."
"Yeah, I get that but..." He broke off and pulled a grimace. "What about being...you don't know how hard this is for me to actually say."
Daniel ran his fingers reassuringly down Jack's arm. "Try, Jack. It'll be okay."
"Being clean matters," Jack blurted, his face flushing a little.
"Ah," Daniel nodded understanding Jack's concern. "How do you feel right now? Do you feel full, like you need to go or do you feel empty?"
Jack thought for a moment. "I don't know," he blinked. Daniel's question had thrown him. He wasn't expecting to make a judgment about the current state of his bowel.
"When did you last go?"
Jack thought again. "This morning," he said feeling foolish in the extreme. This was not the kind of conversation he'd envisaged with a naked Daniel in his bedroom.
"Okay, that's fine," Daniel nodded. "Would it make you feel better if we took a shower? I'll wash you and you can wash me. How about that?"
"I don't know if I even want to go that far, actually fucking you or having you fuck me," Jack replied thoughtfully.
"That's okay too, Jack. We'll do what you feel comfortable with."
Daniel leaned in to kiss Jack but Jack pulled back. "Wait! We should shower anyway. I might change my mind," he grinned waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
They had to squeeze into Jack's shower cubicle. It wasn't designed to take two large men intent on using every inch of space in it. With warm water flowing, Daniel soaped the washcloth and started to wash Jack's body. He paid special attention to Jack's nipples and smiled when he heard Jack gasp seeing his eyes close in a reverie of pleasure.
Daniel worked his way down Jack's body with the cloth, concentrating on washing Jack's cock and balls. It only took seconds for Jack's erection to revive, which pleased Daniel immensely. Jack was proving to be a very responsive partner.
Turning him around slowly, Daniel soaped Jack's back, running the cloth slowly down Jack's spine, moving over the contours of the dip in his lower back and sweeping over the curve of his buttocks.
Jack held his breath as Daniel drew his washclothed finger in between Jack's buttocks. The sensation of Daniel touching his asshole made Jack twitch.
"Okay?" Daniel asked, the shower water spluttering from his lips. He slowed his moving finger but left it gentling against Jack's flesh.
Jack nodded. He couldn't speak for a moment. He was fully occupied with enjoying Daniel's touch against him.
Daniel set up a rhythmic rubbing movement against Jack's ass. It felt so good that Jack planted his hands against the tiles and pushed his hips back hoping Daniel would get the hint to continue. Moaning, Jack began to wonder why he'd been so unsure about this. Daniel's touch was gentle and easy. Jack knew now that Daniel cared for him. Someone who didn't, couldn't make it feel this good.
Jack's head was spinning and with each moment, his confidence rose. With effort, he looked over his shoulder at Daniel and smiled. "It's my turn with the washcloth."
Taking the rinsed washcloth from Daniel, Jack rubbed the soap bar on it and proceeded to run it over Daniel's chest. Having learned how much he enjoyed Daniel's attention to his nipples, Jack returned the compliment and did the same to Daniel's. Watching Daniel's eyes roll back in his head, made Jack's cock jerk.
Jack did what he hoped would excite Daniel though without a mental route map he struggled to be sure. After a few moments, Jack ceased his ministrations and sighed.
"Daniel, it would help if I could see what I'm doing."
Turning, Daniel looked at Jack. "Didn't you ever do this with Sara?"
"No!" Jack said defensively. "We didn't have that kind of relationship. We were pretty...ordinary when it came to sex. We did it the way all couples do it."
"Not all couples limited themselves to vaginal intercourse, Jack."
"Really? I didn't know that."
"It's a sure fire way to avoid pregnancy."
"Ah," Jack nodded. "I didn't know that either."
Jack felt stupid. He knew nothing about anything and he hated it. He was forty years old and he should know these things, except he was actually one hundred years old and he still didn't know anything.
"Let's get dried and go back to your bed," Daniel smiled rubbing Jack's shoulder.
"What are you doing, Daniel?" Jack asked in surprise as Daniel crawled across the bed on his hands and knees.
"You wanted to see what you're doing, Jack. I'm just showing you."
Jack looked wide-eyed as Daniel settled himself in the middle of the bed, still on his hands and knees. Jack stared at him and wanted to laugh. Daniel had taken Jack's need to study anatomy literally.
"Take your time and look your fill, Jack. You can touch if you want."
Jack could detect the smile in Daniel's voice. He took a deep breath and crawled on to the bed up behind Daniel.
"Take a good look, Jack," Daniel breathed, the idea of exhibitionism sending him a thrill of excitement.
Jack's mouth parted as he looked at Daniel's rounded buttocks. Jack could see the tight puckered flesh of Daniel's asshole and it excited him. Tentatively Jack drew his fingertip over Daniel's ass and watched it wink at him.
"Did you do that or did I?" Jack laughed.
"You did it and I replied," Daniel smiled. "Do it again."
Jack obliged and repeated his action only this time his fingertip travelled slowly along Daniel's perineum. With an open hand, he continued to Daniel's balls, palming them gently. Daniel groaned and collapsed his arms and shoulders, burying his head in the pillow.
Jack realised that Daniel's skin was hairless. He'd shaved the area between his buttocks and around his asshole. This was something Jack could never have expected but he found it very pleasing nonetheless. He had a clear and uninterrupted view of Daniel's most intimate area and Jack was intrigued by it. Did all men who have sex with men do this? Was Daniel unusual in his grooming habits?
Smiling, Jack knew he had a growing list of questions but he would save it until later. Right now, he just wanted to enjoy the feast Daniel had presented to him.
Curious about Daniel's anatomy, Jack's fingers played Daniel's skin repeatedly, drawing them across Daniel's asshole. Jack remembered using a searching finger to find Bobby Grant's, though he only ever had the confidence to push a fingertip into Bobby's entrance, just to the first knuckle. Now, with Daniel's permission and encouragement, Jack could go as far as he wanted, as far as he felt comfortable.
"Jack," came Daniel's muffled voice from the depths of the pillow, "If you want to finger me, you have to use lubrication. There's a small tube in my jeans pocket."
Immediately, Jack rolled off the bed and found the pile of Daniel's discarded clothes on the floor. Grabbing up the blue denim, Jack squeezed at the fabric to locate which pocket and found a small tube of lubricating gel.
Scrambling back on the bed Jack made a mental note to go shopping for supplies at the first possible opportunity.
"Okay," breathed Daniel, "Now put some on your fingers and spread it over my asshole as well. Never be tempted to go for a dry entry, Jack."
While Daniel was speaking, Jack was doing his best to get the cap off the tube. His hands were shaking with excitement and anticipation. He squeezed rather a lot of gel from the tube but he had no idea how much was too much so with a very large blob on his finger he wiped the excess over Daniel's ass.
Daniel groaned enthusiastically and Jack knew he must have been doing something right. Jack was ready, he wanted to go further than he had with Bobby Grant, and gently, carefully he pushed the full length of his finger into Daniel's asshole.
Daniel grunted, then groaned and then panted. Jack's curious finger had electrified Daniel's body. "Move it, let me feel you working me, Jack," he breathed thrusting his hips up and back to make sure Jack's finger was as deeply inside him as he could encourage Jack to make it.
Jack's breath hitched. Daniel felt tight and giving all at the same time. His excitement mounted as he dipped his finger in and out of Daniel's body, pushing as high as he could when Daniel's hips canted to pull him in.
Jack could see Daniel's balls swinging between his thighs. Daniel was tugging on his cock as Jack fingered him and the sight gave Jack that butterfly in his stomach feeling again.
"Jack, pull out and push two fingers in. Use the lube. Do it quick!"
Doing as Daniel asked him, Jack covered his fingers in lube again and slid two back inside Daniel. Jack touched himself, caressed his hardened cock and began to stroke with his free hand. Moaning, he knew one thing for certain, he wanted to be inside Daniel properly. He wanted to put his cock into Daniel's ass and fuck him.
"Daniel, I want to..."
"Fuck me?" Daniel finished Jack's sentence for him. "Spread some lube on your cock, all the way down and then push in," he panted. If Jack took more than two seconds to do this, Daniel was going to scream. He wanted Jack, all of him and he wanted him now!
Jack shuffled closer and holding his cock, rested the head against Daniel's ass. Hesitating for a moment, Jack closed his eyes. Should he be doing this? There were so many reasons why he shouldn't. His loyalty to his USAF uniform, being with a man and reaching one hundred years of age were just a few but there was one clear and perfect reason for doing this and that was Daniel. Jack cared for Daniel very much and found him incredibly attractive. Jack knew he could deny Daniel nothing.
Jack pushed forward, surprised at how easily his cock slid into Daniel's body. Planting his hands on Daniel's hips, Jack began to thrust, filling and withdrawing, filling and withdrawing. Jack had never experienced anything like this before, had never imagined just how erotic and exciting it could be to enter another man and fuck him.
Jack set up a strong hard rhythm. The red mist of desire and lust was overwhelming his mind and body and driving him on. He was closer to orgasm than he expected to be. Daniel's vocalising of his own pleasure was pushing Jack to the edge and all he wanted to do now was fly.
"Don't come yet, Daniel," Jack choked, "Not yet. I want to do that, I want to make you spill your load. Save it for me!"
"You're good, Jack, soooo good!" Daniel said, chanting the words like a sexual mantra.
Jack heard and came.
Jack collapsed over Daniel's back for a few moments, his head spinning and his body tingling. Then, as if he'd been shocked Jack roused himself and, pulling out of Daniel before he was even soft, he grabbed Daniel's hips and roughly turned him over onto his back.
Before Daniel knew what was happening Jack was on him, swallowing his cock in one hungry move, sucking hard while palming his balls. Daniel's hips jerked in response.
"Jack, if you want I can..."
Jack pulled off him for a moment. "No. Maybe next time, okay?" then went back to sucking at Daniel's cock.
The flat of Jack's tongue rasped against the underneath of Daniel's cock, massaging it to a level of hypersensitivity that made Daniel pant fast and hard. His eyes rolled back in his head and his jaw slackened. Suddenly he was coming, Jack swallowing everything.
As his balls emptied, Daniel sent out a yell of completion, his spine stiffening and his hips thrusting upwards. When he was done, he lifted Jack's mouth carefully off his softening cock and fell back against the mattress.
"God, Jack," Daniel moaned and relaxed.
Jack settled beside him and they lay together, Daniel with his hand planted on Jack's thigh and Jack playing the back of his hand on the side of Daniel's knee.
Daniel had wanted to quiz Jack about the mystery of Methuselah's cavern and the strange charred hole in his jacket but now he felt too relaxed and too sated to even remember what it was he wanted to ask Jack.
Jack woke about two hours later to find them wrapped together arms and legs interlocked, bed covers awry. Sighing, Jack liked this and felt more relaxed than he could ever remember. He and Sara were never like this. After they made love, Sara would tidy the bed and make him put on his pyjamas. It was all to do with being normal, and secure in the knowledge that if Charlie came into their bedroom there would be no clues as to what they had done together.
Right at this moment, if anyone saw the state of Jack's bed with Daniel snoring gently beside him, there would be no doubt about what they'd done. Jack felt pride and love for Daniel. Strangely, this felt a much more normal relationship than the one he'd had with Sara as far as he was concerned.
There was so much to think about. First, he was breaking all the military rules. Second, he was breaking all of his cultural rules but he considered those rules were based in the 1940s. He was making new rules in the twenty first century. And there was the issue of age. He might feel like a forty year old but he was in fact, one hundred years old.
Jack sighed again. It just made his head hurt.
When Daniel stirred a few minutes later, they embraced and held tight.
"Jack?" Daniel yawned, "Are you getting hard again?"
"Yes you, Jack!"
"Okay, okay, maybe there's just a little bit of interest goin' on."
Daniel laughed and planted a long slow kiss on Jack's very accommodating lips. "How was it for you? I never got the chance to ask. You fell asleep."
"So did you," Jack answered quickly.
"So, how was it?"
"I have to admit it, Daniel, I was nervous but you made it easy for me. It was the best thing I've ever done. You were the best thing I've ever done!"
"I just wondered because when I offered to return the favour, you turned me down."
"I didn't turn you down per se, Daniel. I just didn't think I could cope with yet another first so soon after the first...first."
"Are you saying you want me to be inside you?" Daniel asked earnestly.
"Oh yeah," Jack breathed enthusiastically.
Daniel nodded emphatically. "Good."
"I think I'd like coffee and toast first though."
"Jack, you had roast beef not long ago."
"That was hours ago, Daniel. Besides, if I'm gonna have more sex tonight than I've ever had in my life, I need sustenance," Jack chuckled swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. "Want some?"
Daniel kissed along Jack's shoulder and smiled against his warm skin. "Yes please."
"I mean do you want coffee and toast, Daniel!"
Daniel sat at the kitchen table happily munching on a slice of toast while Jack leaned back against the counter and watched him.
"You know, for someone who appears to live on fresh air, you manage to fill your face very efficiently," Jack observed.
Daniel snorted. "I'm not a monk, Jack. I enjoy food and wine, and sex. It's just sometimes my work consumes my concentration."
"Yeah, I noticed."
Then Daniel's expression turned serious. "I know you know this, but I have to say it anyway. We have to be careful, Jack. If you're caught having a relationship with me, you could end up in a military prison."
Jack took a thoughtful breath and nodded. "I know. I have thought about it, Daniel. We should make some rules for ourselves, like no sex during missions. We should ration it so we're not together too often."
"It hurts me to say it but you're right. It would be the best thing in the world if we could be together properly but I understand what you mean. I'll go along with whatever you decide, Jack."
Jack detected the tone of sadness in Daniel's voice but knew Daniel would never do anything to make either of them vulnerable to discovery.
"I guess this means you should leave, Daniel. It wouldn't look right if you stayed over."
Daniel put down his half-eaten toast and sighed. "I'll go but you know it's not what I'd choose."
"I know. It's not what I'd choose either," Jack said quietly and then tried to smile. "Gimme a toasty kiss before you go though."
Daniel dipped his head for a moment. Jack could be hard-bitten and focussed and sometimes he could be an utter sap. Looking up, Daniel gave Jack a broad smile and kissed him full on the lips. "I think I love you, Jack O'Neill," he whispered drawing back.
Jack blinked. What could he say except return the sentiment but he didn't. He needed some time to think it all through. He knew what his gut was telling him but he just had to wait a little while for his brain to catch up.
In the end, Jack said nothing but held Daniel with an intense gaze, trying to transmit his feelings without actually saying so.
Daniel looked at him, trying to read the message in those brown eyes but his currency was words and Jack had given him nothing but small change. Uncertain of what it was that kept Jack silent, Daniel picked up his jacket and made to leave.
Opening the front door, Jack watched Daniel walk out into the night and towards his car. As he drove away, Jack surveyed the quiet street and frowned. He'd spotted a black van parked further down the street. It had tinted windows.
Jack closed the front door and stepped back into the hallway. As he stacked the toast plates and the empty coffee cups on the drainer, he couldn't help thinking about that vehicle outside.
Thirty minutes later Jack turned over in bed and growled. There was something in the back of his mind that was keeping him awake, and it was all to do with that damned black van.
Getting up again, Jack dressed and slipped out of the back door. Moving silently around the side of his house under cover of the thick shrubbery that he was now glad he hadn't pruned, he made his way to the back of his truck and waited. Then he peered slowly around it, edged his way along the side of the vehicle, and crouched low.
The black van was gone. Standing up Jack pursued his lips. He was so sure there was something suspicious about it. Maybe having advanced his relationship with Daniel to sex and toast had made him a little paranoid.
Back in the house, Jack made his way back to bed. His eyes flicked over the phone on the table as he passed by. Maybe he should call Daniel and check he was okay, that he was back in his apartment and safe. Then again, maybe he should stop nursemaiding the man and let him sleep.
When the phone went at five thirty, Jack started awake. He stretched out and fumbled with it without opening his eyes.
"O'Neill," he grunted.
"Be at Laser Quest, 1605 North Academy Boulevard at two thirty this afternoon."
"What?" Jack coughed not understanding.
The voice repeated. "Laser Quest, two thirty, North Academy Boulevard and don't be late."
"Who is this?" Jack asked rapidly getting angry. He did not need an unsolicited sales call at whatever time of the pre-dawn this was.
"When you call Daniel Jackson's apartment and find that he doesn't answer, remember Laser Quest. Come alone. Do not bring backup. If you do, we will know. Do not involve the SGC."
"Who is this? What's this about?" Jack demanded to know, fully awake and fully concerned.
"Laser Quest," the voice said for a final time and the line went dead.
Jack sat up in bed, his heart beating loudly in his chest. Snatching up the phone, he called Daniel. He could hear it ringing and ringing and ringing. Daniel wasn't there.
Jack put his head in his hands and tried to outthink the rising panic. He'd had an anonymous call to go to somewhere he'd never heard of, for a reason that wasn't explained. The only real piece of information he had was that Daniel hadn't picked up, just as the caller had predicted.
Jack drove his truck through the sparse early morning traffic towards Daniel's apartment building. Leaving his truck haphazardly parked, Jack leaped out and raced into the entrance hall patting his pockets to find the spare key Daniel had given him, just in case of emergencies. As far as Jack knew, this was an emergency.
Letting himself in, Jack roamed through Daniel's apartment. The place was empty. Next, Jack called the SGC. Daniel wasn't there either. At the run, he went back to his truck. Scanning the parking lot, he spotted Daniel's car and his heart soared. Maybe Daniel had fallen asleep where he sat, not even bothering to get out of the car.
"That's just crazy," Jack muttered under his breath but he checked it just the same. It was empty but he saw something glitter in the dim light. Trying the door handle, Jack found the car was unlocked. Inside, still hanging from the ignition, was Daniel's bunch of keys.
Daniel would never leave his keys in his unlocked car. Something was definitely wrong.
All the very worst scenarios started to spin in Jack's mind. He searched the car for blood deposits, any evidence of a struggle, any clue that would tell him what had happened to Daniel. There was nothing. It was as if Daniel had just got out of his car and forgotten to take the keys.
Jack checked the glove compartment. Daniel was a very tidy person. There was only a street map of Colorado Springs and a half-eaten box of breath mints.
Locking the car, Jack leaned against the driver's door and thought. He was sure Daniel had been taken, kidnapped but he couldn't figure out why, unless it was to do with the SGC. Maybe someone had got wind of the Stargate and thought they could extract information about it. There were plenty of SGC personnel to choose from, so why Daniel in particular?
Jack knew he should report this to Hammond. He was going against his instinct and military regulations if he kept quiet. What did the caller say? Do not bring backup. If you do, we will know. Do not involve the SGC. Jack tried to analyse what had been said. The caller knew about the existence of the SGC already. Was there anything significant about the collective 'we'? Jack was sure of it. This wasn't just one crazy bastard playing games, this could be a whole stack of crazy bastards playing games.
Laser Quest at two thirty this afternoon. The caller didn't have a military background or was currently in the military. If he were, he would have used the twenty-four clock and told Jack to be there at fourteen thirty hours.
So what could Jack surmise so far? Daniel wasn't where he was supposed to be. He'd been snatched from his car without warning otherwise he would have locked it. He was being held somewhere Jack was convinced of that, but where? This Laser Quest place was the only location he knew of so that would have to be his starting point. Apart from anything else, that's where he'd been told to go.
He should call General Hammond.
Back at his house, Jack was sitting in his favourite armchair and staring at the coffee table. He should call General Hammond. He'd been warned not to, although any danger to Daniel had not been vocalised. The caller hadn't bothered to give a crude warning or description about what would happen to Daniel if Jack brought reinforcements, the veiled threat was enough.
Jack picked up the phone. He should call General Hammond. Then he put it down again, picked it up then put it down again. If he told the general, the general would want to send in the whole United States Air Force. Even if he agreed to Jack doing this alone, there was another good reason not to call the general. What if his phone was tapped? He remembered Carter droning on about surveillance techniques including electronic methods. The caller had warned Jack they would know if he had backup. He couldn't call General Hammond.
Jack snapped the clip forcibly into the grip of his handgun. It was time.
It took nearly an hour for Jack to find Laser Quest. He still wasn't sure what the place was supposed to be so had allowed plenty of time to scope it out before he crossed the threshold.
Jack found a diner two blocks away and took a table near the window. When the waitress brought his coffee he asked her the one question burning in his mind.
"What's Laser Quest?"
"Laser Quest?" the young woman said. "Don't you know?" she asked incredulously.
"That's why I'm askin'," Jack growled back.
"Well," she went on not particularly bothered by Jack's attitude, "You go and get yourself a laser gun and shoot people and do your best not to get shot."
"Shooting?" Jack blinked. Was it possible that twenty first century America had organised, shooting people leisure facilities? How did that work and why hadn't Daniel ever mentioned it?
"Yeah, with laser guns! They don't hurt."
"So, no one set outs to kill, kill people?"
"Where have you been granddad? Have you been asleep for the last fifty years?" the girl laughed.
"Sixty, actually," Jack replied sourly. "So this place is like an adventure? You go and pretend to pit your wits and skills against others?"
"There's no pretend about it, granddad," the waitress quipped. "It's a very serious business."
"Yeah, I know," muttered Jack. It could prove very serious for Daniel.
"So," thought Jack as he walked towards the Laser Quest building, "This is like a training facility. I can do that."
He was still wondering if Daniel was held in the building or elsewhere. The only way he'd find out was to go in and see what was in store for him.
Stepping into Laser Quest, Jack headed for the man behind the counter.
"Thirty minutes, sir?" the man asked.
"Errr, yeah, I guess so," Jack replied warily. He had no idea to what the thirty minutes referred. Was that the time he would have to wait for something to happen?
"That's twenty dollars, sir," the man said.
Jack plunged a hand into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Handing over a crisp twenty, Jack waited.
The man behind the counter frowned as he stared at Jack. "Ah, sir? Is this your first time at Laser Quest?"
"Let me show you the ropes."
Following the man, Jack was lead into a long narrow room, where strange looking limp waistcoats hung from hooks on the wall. The man picked up one and held it out for Jack. Jack just stood there, unmoved and waiting. He was sick of being patronised and treated like someone who'd been on another planet for fifty years. Well he hadn't – been on another planet at least, though he had been in nowhere land for way too long.
The man took Jack's silent and slightly hostile hint and helped Jack into the vest, fastening it at the back. There was an octagonal metal breastplate in the centre of the garment.
"The battery unit is in here," the man was saying poking at the plate, "and the plate holds sensors that light up when you've been hit. This," he went on smiling, "Is your laser gun." He held up a large black plastic gun. It looked more like a compact machine gun in shape and size. It had a black curly expandable cable attached to the handle at one end and to the breastplate at the other.
"This gun is a little more shocking than the usual," the man grinned. He took another vest from its hook and pointed Jack's laser gun at the breastplate and immediately the small lights on it were illuminated. Next, he took the laser from the spare set and pointed it at Jack's own plate upon which the blank lights became blazing little pinpoints.
"You have six lives before you have to reload and start again. There's the reset button," the man explained pointing to a little red protrusion on the side of the gun. "It'll take five seconds to reboot, so you'd better take cover while that's happening."
Jack nodded. That made sense. Reloading made any fighter vulnerable to assault from another.
"There are two settings on your gun. If you get hit by an opponent using the low level setting you'll feel a little tingle through the handle of your gun. If they rack up the setting you'll get a real poke."
"An electric shock?" Jack asked in surprise.
"Sure. This isn't kiddie Laser Quest y'know. Your colleagues have hired this place for their exclusive use. There are no rules, no holds barred. You're playing with the big boys now, sir. Just remember, when you get hit, and you will, it's gonna hurt so I advise you to be on the offensive as early in the game as possible. Oh and if you need to fall back, y'know lick your wounds, there's always the Home Zone. You get one minute of peace and quiet."
"But this whole electric shock thing is only for thirty minutes, right?" Jack checked with alarm.
"Well, the thirty minutes can stretch into a few hours. It depends on when your colleagues want to finish you," the man replied with a sinister grin.
Jack pulled at the vest. "How do I get this off?"
"You don't unless your opponent decides to have mercy on you."
The man left Jack alone in the dressing room. Looking around, Jack could see four spaces where vests had already been removed. He was facing four opponents. As he walked slowly towards the door marked Home Zone, he saw a large sign above the door, the lettering spot lit by a beam of UV light.
Players' Code, it read and Jack glanced at each of the rules, smiling ruefully as he looked at them in.
I will not run, climb or jump.
I will not sit, kneel or lie down.
I will not cover any sensors.
I will not use offensive language.
I will not make physical contact with other players.
I will play fair, play smart and give it my all!
"I don't think rules are likely to apply," Jack said aloud grimly. He passed into the Home Zone area to find it lit by a bright acid green glow. He looked around him. There was a tall freestanding wall in the centre of the room and that was it. There were six doors in the walls surrounding the room, each with a different picture on them. There was one with a medieval castle and one with a tree. Another showed what looked to be a cave and one that Jack thought was a moonscape though it could just as easily have been the outline of Monument Valley. Of the remaining two, one had the picture of a car and the last a rocket ship. The image of the ship reminded Jack of Flash Gordon's in the 1930s comic strip, the comic strip he read with great interest in his late twenties and thirties.
Jack concluded these depicted different zones, different scenarios in which to be electrocuted. He surveyed the six pictures, he knew he would have to choose one but which? Jack didn't feel he had the imagination to get involved in his environment so closely, this was more Daniel's field.
And then he thought. Daniel.
Jack was doing this for Daniel. There was the security of the SGC of course, but essentially, this was about Daniel and his survival. Then Jack glanced at the pictures again. Which one would Daniel choose? Was he being held behind one of these doors?
The medieval castle might be of interest to the archaeologist in Daniel but Jack's gaze kept coming back to the rocket ship. It was the only image that suggested the future, other planets and travelling to the stars. It said Stargate to Jack and probably did to Daniel too. Maybe Jack should take this door, the one with the space rocket.
He glanced at the laser gun in his hand. It was very lightweight. His breastplate blinked with those little lights telling him his gun was live. Moving towards the door with the rocket ship on it, Jack sensed the dimming of the acid green glow to a defused darker green. The room was slowly darkening. His minute must be almost up. Now he understood why he couldn't just stay in the Home Zone and remain safe. Being in complete darkness would be of no real benefit at all.
Jack slowly pushed open the door just enough to get sight of what was beyond. The room was large and circular, as though inside an actual rocket ship. Jack could see navigation equipment, knobs and buttons, the kind of thing any kid would love. There was a metal ladder stretching upwards with a short metal gangway to each of the two floors above.
He should climb to the top of the ladder. It was always better to look down on the enemy, rather than have the enemy looking down on him.
Jack found it awkward to climb with the laser gun in his hand, there was nowhere specific to put it, so out of desperation he jammed the barrel between his chest and the breastplate. He decided to go right to the top. He wanted to check the highest floor first and then work his way down thus eliminating the possibility of opponents.
When he reached the top floor, there was very little to see. The walls were plain and smooth, the floor made up of metal grilled plates. He could squint through the holes and see to the floor below. This floor was circular with a space at its centre for the ladder. Leaning over the shiny chrome railing, Jack took a quick glance at the lowest floor. All he could was a small area around the ladder. Being this high wasn't necessarily that useful.
Frowning, he suddenly saw movement down below. Smoke or mist was blooming silently across the floor. If it continued, Jack knew he wouldn't be able to see anyone creeping about or aiming a laser gun at him. Damn!
Examining the top floor it was clear to Jack it was absent of people, so he moved down the ladder to the middle floor. Here he found three pods placed around the circular wall. Gingerly he opened one. It was empty. He checked the other two. They were vacant as well. The pods reminded Jack of upright coffins and he shuddered. He didn't like the reference.
Anxiously he glanced over the railing at the bottom level. The smoke or mist or whatever it was had covered the floor. It could be as much as thigh deep. Jack debated what he should do. He could take refuge in one of the pods and wait to find out if his opponents entered the space ship. He could hide out until one of them chose to check the contents of the pods, then he could come out firing.
On the other hand, anything could be happening and he wouldn't know. He wouldn't know if Daniel was with whoever it was, whether they might rig something to catch Jack out, trip him up or just kill him.
How about that kill thing? If they'd wanted Jack dead they could have done it from the moment he got that sinister call right through until now. If they didn't want him dead, what the hell did they want?
Jack felt his left side just above his waist. At least he still had his gun, a real weapon he could use if he had to.
Jack sighed. There was no point in staying near the pods. He needed to defend the entrance so once again he descended the ladder to the bottom. By now, the lowest area was filling with the misty stuff and it was wafting around his hips. There was an acrid scent to the mist. Jack was sure it wasn't smoke as in the result of something burning so it had to be something else. Maybe it was an effect used by Laser Quest to excite and scare its customers. Whatever it was, it wouldn't take long to conceal the entrance.
Just then, the green glow began to change colour or perhaps there were other coloured lights being added to the green. The mist now had a purple backlight, the walls still being green and the ladder now illuminated in a cold blue. Something was about to happen, Jack thought but there was nowhere to hide, only in one of those pods.
The door of the entrance cracked open a little disturbing the mist and making it chase in clouds around the room. A man entered, dressed all in black with a balaclava that hid his face. He held the laser gun steady and began moving it to follow the direction of his eyes, as he swept his sight and his weapon around the room.
Slowly, the man advanced towards the ladder. Jack sprang from his position on the floor lying beneath the surface of the mist, and on his knees aimed his laser gun at the man's breastplate and squeezed the trigger button.
The man in black stiffened then his arms and legs flailed uncoordinated. He grunted and then let out a strangled and muffled cry before falling into the mist.
Jack waited, his laser gun trained on the place where the man had collapsed. When, after a few seconds, the man did not reappear from the fog, Jack shuffled closer and stuck out the toe of his boot, feeling for the body. He found it quickly and reached down to haul him up. The man was a dead weight, literally. Jack dragged him back towards the ladder and propped him there. The stranger was in a seated position, his torso at a sideways lean.
Jack held on to a handful of the man's vest and pulled off the balaclava. His still open eyes stared lifelessly at the door. Jack pressed a couple of fingertips against the side of his neck to check his vitals. There weren't any.
Jack could see entry and exit burns where the man had sustained a life-ending electric shock. Jack had already figured there must be some metal in the handle of the laser gun because the assistant had told him a hit meant getting a tingle in his hand. The hand of Jack's opponent was burned and blackened, and his metal breastplate had melted into his chest having burned through his clothing. His hair was singed and Jack could smell ozone and burned flesh. The man was not a pretty sight.
Jack stared wide-eyed at his victim. Whatever these laser guns were packing, it wasn't just a little tingle as the man who took his money had explained. Then Jack stared at his laser gun. This was a one-off deal. Get hit once and he would be out of it permanently.
Sighing he gave a lopsided grin. He'd broken two of the rules already. He'd laid on the floor and kneeled to look at the dead man.
Jack's next thought was about what to do next. Should he hole up in the mist and wait for another bad guy to come through the door, or leave the space rocket and try another room? Perhaps it was time he took the fight to his enemy instead of waiting in case the next one had more luck and picked him off.
Heading for the door still open from the man in black's entrance, Jack flattened himself again the curved wall and took a quick look outside. The Home Zone was quiet and apparently empty. He took advantage and retreated into the room to study the pictures on the doors again.
Where would someone hold a prisoner? Jack figured the medieval castle was the obvious answer. Feeling buoyed by the effective strength of his laser gun, Jack pushed open the door to the castle.
The floor was decorated with fake stone slabs. Right in front of him, Jack saw a wall with a large opening guarded by a portcullis. Carefully he stretched out a hand and felt the bars of the gate. They weren't made of metal but felt more like airbrushed silver plastic piping.
"Breakable," Jack considered nodding to himself. He looked for a mechanism, handle, or something that would draw the portcullis upwards and give him entry to the larger part of the room. Above was a battlement. That would be a good place to get to if he could find a way in.
The lighting was different in the castle room. It wasn't that bright acid green like the space ship. There was a yellowish hue to this scenario and the battlements were backlit by an orange glow, as though it was sunset. So far, at least there was no mist pluming across the floor.
Jack's impatience grew. He couldn't find anything to release the portcullis. He stalked between the wall of the room and the walls of the castle. The fort backed on to the fourth wall of the room so there was no way to gain access anywhere around it except from the front. Each of the walls of the castle had an artistically painted arch over a fake wooden door.
Having checked both narrow routes to either side of the castle walls, Jack came back to the gate and stared, threatening the painted plastic piping construction to stop him getting through. Jack banged the side of his arm hard against it venting his frustration. Then the gate rose. Jack dropped to his knees and rolled underneath it. He didn't want to wait for it to clear his head and he didn't want it to drop on him before he could get through the entryway.
Once inside Jack jumped up and smacked the portcullis with his fist and much to his surprise, it dropped to guard the entry to his side of the room. He smiled. He was beginning to like this place. All the walls sported that fake painted stone look and there was a single armoured knight in one corner. Jack walked as silently as possible to the knight and rapped his knuckles on the helmet. It was all made of plastic. He lifted the visor and peered inside. All he could see was blackness. The interior of the helmet and neck of the armour was painted black. There was nothing to see.
On the other side of the portcullis was a set of steps running up the wall to the battlements. Jack took them two at a time and gained the top of the castle. He glanced to either side of him, once at the door into the space in front of the gate and once to the largest part of the room within the castle itself. The battlements stretched all the way along the walls. It was the equivalent of the floor above the mist-filled level of the rocket ship.
Jack felt much more confident in the castle than he had in the ship. He had a really good view of anyone coming through the door and trying to get past the portcullis plus he could see into the centre of the castle, which had a freestanding cross of walls. They were like four booths planted in the middle of the fort, places offering some cover.
The only disappointment for Jack was that Daniel wasn't to be seen anywhere in this arena. He was half expecting to discover Daniel tied up and sitting in a corner but there was no one.
Assuming that the enemy had scoped the Laser Quest layout before he had, Jack knew they would be reluctant to enter the castle through the door. There was no mist and the lighting was still at a very acceptable level. Anyone coming through would be a sitting duck.
Jack waited, occasionally walking the battlements on all four sides, even though the fourth wall opposite the one with the portcullis was against the back wall and gave no outlook at all.
Glancing at his watch, Jack could see he'd already been in the castle for nearly twenty minutes. Reluctantly he wondered if he'd chosen the wrong arena. He'd been ready for action, his senses marshalled to react at any event but nothing had happened.
Now after such a long wait, his nerves were stretched to breaking point but he would continue waiting, as patiently as his mind and body would allow. Jack continued to patrol the battlements, until with a sudden unbidden thought he stopped walking.
Those two doors! The ones on either of the sidewalls! Why hadn't he considered those? It was easy. He'd assumed they were fake doors.
Jack made to step down from the battlements to double check his assumption but he hesitated. Even if they were real, he couldn't observe them both and survey the door into the castle arena at the same time. In fact, he could only see one individual door from one battlement. He could not see them all at once.
"So that's where you're gonna come from," Jack muttered darkly.
He knew he was in trouble. Anyone could come through one of those side doors while he was alternating his watch on the other two. The only good thing was that entry into the castle was only possible through the portcullis gate, so Jack would be alerted to the sound of efforts to open it.
Jack turned his back on the main door for a moment to stare at the armoured knight. He could see it still located at the centre of the back wall. He suddenly felt a chill skitter down his spine. What if someone was hiding inside the knight? Sure, he'd checked the armour and had looked inside through the neck of the chest plate but that's all he'd done. He should have kicked it over, waited to see if it got up and fought back. No, there wasn't anyone hiding inside, he would have known, would have sensed it. In any case, if there were someone inside he'd have to be pretty short, because there was no head inside the helmet and no head hiding below the collar of the armour.
Jack turned again and checked the main entrance. Nothing. As soon as he had that thought, the lighting changed, growing dimmer, the orange of the pretend sunset moving to a dark red and the yellowish hue changing to dark blue.
Something was about to happen, just as it had in the space rocket when the lights there had altered.
Adrenalin coursed through Jack's body. He was ready for the flight or fight response. Holding his breath, he listened hard for the slightest creak or footfall. Hearing nothing, he ran the four sides of the battlements glancing at each of the doors as he passed. He knew he couldn't keep that up for very long so stopped again to listen.
Jack thought he heard the 'snick' of a door opening but which one! His eyes darted around, desperate to pick up the slightest difference in the shadows or any movement but his range was limited to the battlements. He thought he heard another sound but he couldn't discern what it was or from which direction.
He moved silently to the battlement along the back wall. At least there, he knew nothing could come at him from behind. Still his eyes worked the arena, his ears straining to hear even the breath of a mouse.
While he did this, Jack was still thinking though. What if the situation was reversed and he was the hunter, trying to outfox and outmanoeuvre the enemy who was standing in his position on the battlements? What would he do?
The lights continued to dim.
Then everything fell into place and Jack knew he had a problem. If he was going to attack him, he'd deploy at least two men, or even three, commanding them to acquire the target by using each of the three doors at the same time. It would be a synchronised assault designed to confuse with a more than fifty-fifty chance of succeeding.
Jack was going to have to face a minimum of two, maybe three men and he knew right then, he could not win.
Sure enough, a second later, Jack heard two doors click open, the third already unfastened. It didn't matter where he chose to make his stand, it would only be a matter of time before he was caught...or worse.
There was one other possibility. He could retreat to the Home Zone.
As quickly as he could, Jack leaped down the steps to ground level. Once there he flattened up against the wall containing the portcullis and waited.
The gate began to lift. A man dressed like the one in the rocket ship rolled underneath it. As he got to his feet, Jack aimed his laser gun and hit the trigger button.
Glancing at the slightly smoking figure of his second vanquished foe, Jack grimaced. "Two down and a few more to go," he muttered taking off through the open door and out of the castle arena.
One step into the Home Zone and Jack felt a hot painful tingle spread through his hand.
Another masked man was at his side.
"Hey, you're not supposed to be in the Home Zone!" Jack complained loudly. "That's..."
The man touched Jack's breastplate with the open end of his laser gun, Jack felt the heated shock of electricity overwhelm his body and he fell to the floor, twitching.
When Jack woke, he was suddenly aware of how much his body ached. Then he realised he wasn't in the Home Zone or the castle. Wherever he was, it was dark and silent. He was on the floor and surprised to find he wasn't tied or restrained in any way.
Jack lay where he was for a moment not wanting to make it obvious he had regained consciousness. He took a deep breath through his nose to pick up any aromas, scents or downright nasty smells. All he could detect was a damp musty odour...and something else, like apple shampoo.
"Oh thank, God, Jack. Are you okay?"
"Been better," Jack grumbled and pushed himself to sit up and then grimaced. He shouldn't be complaining about his own situation, he should be happy and relieved that Daniel was alive. "Glad you're okay," Jack said and tried to smile.
Carefully surveying his environment for a moment, Jack was aware of Daniel crouching close by with some lengths of something black and solid partially obscuring him.
Then Jack realised. They were being held in adjacent cells and the black solid lines were metal bars. It reminded him of something out of a cowboy film. The only light was a faint orange glow from a street lamp through a tiny window high up in Daniel's cell.
"How about you?" Jack asked staggering to his feet and stumbling towards Daniel, gripping the bars to hold himself up.
"I'm fine," Daniel replied, "But you sound a little rough. Have you been in a fight?"
Daniel stretched his arm out and managed to fit it between the bars as far as his elbow to examine Jack's face, touching it gently with questing fingertips and very glad to feel Jack lean into his contact.
"That's 'cos I have, Daniel," he said. "I feel like I've been ten rounds with Jersey Joe Walcott."
"Jersey Joe..." Jack groaned and rolled his eyes. "He's the world heavyweight boxing champion. At least he was the last time I looked."
"Think the line up has moved on since then, Jack."
"Of course it has," declared Jack tugging at the bars and then studying the door. Some kind of electronic key lock held the bolt in place on the outside. Jack knew this much because he was familiar with similar security devices within the SGC. Randomly jabbing his index finger across the numbered keys, Jack wondered if his special ability might help spring them from jail but to no avail.
"You're wasting you time, Jack," Daniel said, "I've already tried that."
Jack frowned. "So what happened?"
Daniel's eyebrows rose. "I could ask the same about you, Jack."
"I asked first," said Jack his eyes narrowing.
Daniel took the hint. "Well, I left your place and drove back to my apartment then after I'd parked my car I got out and succumbed to the old chloroform over the mouth trick."
"I don't think you're taking this very seriously, Daniel," Jack growled.
"I am, Jack, believe me," Daniel nodded vigorously.
"Didn't you notice the big black van outside my house when you left?"
Daniel looked surprised. "No."
"It was parked in the street, a few yards up on the other side. It had black windows."
"There was nothing there when I left, Jack. I'd remember seeing something like that."
Jack fell silent in contemplation. Why was the van there after Daniel had left and not before?
Then Jack looked up. "Any idea what they want?"
"Not a clue, Jack, sorry. All I know is, they grabbed me, I lost consciousness and woke up here." Daniel blinked. "How did you know I was here, Jack?"
"I didn't. I got a phone call telling me to go to some Laser place. I played kill the enemy, got an electric shock and woke up next to you. Where do you think we are, Daniel?"
"Hard to say but I think I know who took us."
Jack was thinking about that too.
"NID?" Jack asked.
"Yeah," Daniel nodded slowly. "How come you know about the NID?"
"You don't have to sound so surprised," Jack groused, "I do read some memos!"
Daniel grinned. It didn't matter what kind of fix they were in, Daniel felt better for knowing Jack was with him.
"Don't suppose you've got a weapon," Jack asked, "They've taken mine".
Daniel just shook his head. "I was on my way to a very pleasant evening with my friend," he said and quirked a smile at Jack. "Bringing a weapon was not my first priority when I left my apartment."
"You did bring a weapon, Daniel, just not one that could do damage to an enemy."
"Jack!" Daniel laughed and jabbed Jack with a finger through the bars.
They both quietened when they heard the door open. At last, thought Jack, some action but first he wanted to know why they had been kidnapped and what the purpose of the Laser charade was about. Most of all, he wanted to find a way to escape.
"Good evening, gentlemen," said a short slim man dressed in a black suit accompanied by another who stood quietly behind him.
Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed. "It is the NID, Jack. I recognise the uniform."
"Yeah," Jack nodded, "I was guessin' somethin' like that."
"Very good, Doctor Jackson. You are very astute in your assumption."
"Not an assumption, just based on experience," Daniel muttered.
"Look, these niceties are all very...nice," said Jack standing up and rattling the door of his cell, "but boring."
The man in the black suit sidled over to Jack's cell, standing close to the door. Jack stared at the little man from his greater height. However, the agent's accomplice seemed to be unmoved by Jack's attempt to intimidate his boss. It might have had something to do with the fact that the second man was very large and was almost as wide as he was tall, all muscle and no neck.
Jack's gaze tracked beyond the black suit's shoulder to his colleague. He wondered if he could get out of his cell and overpower no-neck. He decided probably not, though he was prepared to try.
"Patience, colonel," Black Suit said smoothly. Taking another step forward, he looked up and glared into Jack's eyes. "You've got something you're not telling us about," he said enigmatically.
Jack frowned in denial but his stomach did a flip. Did this guy know about what he and Daniel had done last night? Was that what this whole thing was about?
"You've got something you're not telling us about," grunted Jack. "Would you care to explain the Laser joke?"
"Ah yes, that. I wanted to see how you'd react, colonel, and your abilities completely out performed my expectations."
"Really?" Jack grinned. He hoped his smile would fool the man into thinking he was a dumbass with a needy ego. Jack knew Black Suit knew something and he was more afraid of Daniel knowing it than the enemy. He didn't care if the enemy didn't like him but he cared a lot that Daniel did.
"I understand Doctor Jackson sustained a significant injury during your last mission, Colonel O'Neill and somehow having been hit by a Jaffa staff weapon he came back to the SGC restored." Black Suit sucked his teeth, and added with raised eyebrows, "Fully healed in fact."
Jack thought for a moment. It was obvious where the conversation was going. Figuring honesty might work better than evasion he nodded. "Yes, Doctor Jackson was injured and yes, he recovered. What's your point?"
"My point," Black Suit continued, "Is that his wounds were healed...by you, colonel."
Daniel's mouth dropped open. This was the first time he'd heard any comment that made sense about his so-called glancing blow from that Jaffa in Methuselah's cavern.
"I might be capable of a lot of things but I can't walk on water and I don't have a clue what you're talking about," Jack snapped.
"So you don't deny Doctor Jackson was wounded," Black Suit smiled and turning away from Jack, moved to Daniel's cell door.
Jack took the opportunity to assess No-neck, checking for an obvious weapon but the man's meaty fists were empty. Jack concluded the suit was well tailored enough to accommodate a shoulder holster because if that's what he had, it wasn't showing under his jacket.
"Where did the Jaffa weapon hit you, Doctor Jackson?" Black Suit asked but Daniel said nothing. Black Suit's eyes narrowed. "Are you sure you don't want to tell me?" There was a veiled threat in his voice, a promise of malice if Daniel didn't co-operate.
Still Daniel made no response except to lift his head and return a look of resistance. However, his mind was speeding through a gamut of possibilities. The damage to his jacket and t-shirt was commensurate with a staff weapon blast. He remembered being flung backwards from a blow of some kind. Being shot by a Jaffa staff blast made perfect sense but if it was true, why had Jack lied about it? More to the point, why did he have no injury to show for it?
These rapid thoughts did not show on Daniel's face. He worked hard to keep his expression unchanging.
Black Suit's smile disappeared and he indicated something to No-neck without speaking a word. In response, No-neck released Daniel's cell door and stepped in. Pinning Daniel's arms as he stood at Daniel's back, No-neck's expression remained impassive.
"Hey!" Jack started. He had no way of helping Daniel, of protecting him and again, he shook his cell door before moving to the bars separating their two cells..
"Please remain calm, colonel," Black Suit said in a controlled tone. "You'll get your chance soon enough."
"Chance for what?" Jack growled. "What are you up to?"
Black Suit breathed a soft silky laugh. "You'll see," then his attention was entirely on Daniel. "I'll ask you once more, Doctor Jackson. Where were you hit?"
Daniel frowned and refused to look at Black Suit while trying to shrug off No-neck who just tightened his grip and generated a wave of pain through Daniel's shoulder blades. Black Suit sighed as though dealing with an errant schoolboy who would not confess to an obvious misdemeanour.
Suddenly Black Suit moved gripping Daniel's shirt and pulling at it so firmly that all the buttons popped as Daniel's chest was bared.
"Bastard!" snarled Jack loudly but Black Suit and No-neck ignored him.
Black Suit slowly raised his hand and stroked Daniel's skin. Daniel pulled in his muscles trying to avoid the contact but without effect. Black Suit continued to touch Daniel's chest, flicking a lazy fingertip against a nipple.
Jack rolled his eyes. He'd experienced this kind of intimidation himself though this time, he kept his affronted responses in check. He'd done his angry bull act but it had made no impression. He figured his role should be to support Daniel.
"Ignore it, Daniel, don't let him get to you," Jack said clearly. "He's just trying to faze you."
Black Suit's eyes flickered. Daniel could see Jack's words had annoyed him.
"That's enough, colonel," Black Suit grunted and Jack smiled. Now he knew how to undermine Black Suit's authority. He just had to second-guess what the goon was going to do and why, and then articulate it first, except that would necessitate Jack being a mind reader so maybe it was a flawed plan.
Black Suit tuned out Jack's presence to concentrate on Daniel's chest. "For someone who had a serious injury just a few days ago, your body looks remarkably free of scars and marks, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel couldn't respond. He didn't remember ever having a serious injury.
"And your point is?" chimed in Jack.
"Shut up, colonel. You'll have plenty of opportunity to do your thing in just a moment."
Jack's eyebrows rose in question.
Black Suit ignored him because he was much more interested in making a closer inspection of Daniel's chest.
No matter what Jack had said Daniel was finding Black Suit's focus on him rather disconcerting. He didn't mind a man taking a close interest in his body when he wanted it but not like this. There was something very unsavoury about the way the NID man was looking at him.
While Black Suit inspected Daniel for non-existent scars, Daniel was trying to think of a way of escaping and taking Jack with him. He'd undergone self-defence training at the SGC and now he had to remember what he'd been taught.
For a moment, Daniel dropped his head then looked up, staring straight over Black Suit's head to the door out of the room. It had to be unlocked. Black Suit and No-neck would not have locked themselves inside the room with the cells. That made no sense at all.
Jack followed the direction of Daniel's gaze and saw the door. He rapidly came to the same conclusion as Daniel. Though being inside an electronically locked cell, Jack was still thinking about a way of escaping it.
Daniel made his move without any warning.
Still in the grip of No-neck, Daniel used the only weapon he had – his head. With a fast backward movement, Daniel head-butted his captor and knocked him out. As he fell and lost his hold, Daniel lunged at Black Suit but Black Suit who had faster responses, side stepped Daniel.
"You'd better stop right there!" Black Suit yelled and just a split second after Daniel heard his warning he also heard the familiar click of a safety catch being released from a gun.
Daniel had to make up his mind, should he keep running or stop. He chose the latter. When he slowly turned around with his hands up he saw Black Suit aiming Jack's gun at...Jack.
Black Suit gave Daniel a smug smile. "Your choice," he said looking straight at Daniel but with his weapon still aimed at Jack.
"Daniel, what were you thinking?" Jack groaned.
"I was thinking of getting us out of here," Daniel replied through gritted teeth.
"Now, now, gentlemen, no falling out, please." Black Suit's smug expression had gone and now he looked deadly serious. He moved Jack's gun to train it on Daniel. "I have plans to execute," he said in a tone that made it clear he would have no compunction in shooting Daniel. "Now, Doctor Jackson, I asked you before if you could explain how your staff weapon injury so miraculously disappeared without leaving a mark. Are you going to tell me, or shall I ask Colonel O'Neill?"
Jack watched Daniel's expression, not so much looking for a yes or no response but for some kind of recognition that Daniel had worked out Jack had lied to him.
"Look, just give me some explanation as to why you made me do that whole Laser thing and maybe we can reach an agreement," Jack drawled hoping to distract Black Suit and buy enough time to think up a plan.
"Jack?" Daniel queried anxiously. Surely, Jack wasn't going to agree to give away SGC secrets.
"I think you'd better leave, Doctor Jackson," Black Suit said waving Jack's gun in the direction of the exit.
Daniel frowned in confusion.
"I don't have a problem with you, just with the colonel, so why don't you walk to the door and leave?"
"I'm not going anywhere without Jack," Daniel declared resolutely.
"Do what he says, Daniel," Jack insisted. "I'll be okay."
"Daniel, just get the fuck outta here!"
Daniel was very unhappy indeed. He did not want to leave Jack, he wanted to stay, to face this together but if he left now, he could raise the alarm and get help.
Nodding with reluctance, Daniel turned his back and took a step towards the door. He was uneasy though, it didn't make sense. There had to be more to it, he just couldn't figure out what.
Jack watched Daniel's slow progress to freedom. Why didn't he move and get out as fast as he could? Then something happened that turned Jack's emotions inside out.
Black Suit straightened his gun arm and pointed Jack's weapon at Daniel. With a grin, he shot Daniel in the back. "Oh, I forgot to say, Doctor Jackson. I changed my mind."
Jack grabbed the bars of his cell door and shook it violently. "Let me out, you bastard!" he bellowed. "What the hell did you do that for?"
Black Suit was still smiling. "Let's call it an experiment, colonel."
"What!" Jack yelled still doing his best to get out of his cell.
"Listen to me carefully," Black Suit went on glancing at Daniel who was on his front and gulping air like a landed fish. "I am going to release you for a few moments. You will not try to kill me or harm me in anyway. You will not attempt an escape and you will co-operate. Is that clear?"
Jack stopped his noisy protest and stilled his actions. Glaring at Black Suit, Jack took a steadying breath, dragging his gaze from Daniel to the man who held all the cards. Nodding curtly, Jack promised himself he would do all the things Black Suit had told him not to, just as soon as he got the opportunity.
"Whaddya want?" Jack grunted his eyes flicking to Daniel again. He looked in bad shape. The pain and shock of Black Suit's sudden assault had drained his colour and now he was sweating and shivering at the same time.
"You're going to heal him, colonel."
It was a simple statement. Jack's eyes narrowed. "How the hell d'ya suppose I can do that?"
"Oh, I know you can do it, colonel. I just want to see you do it."
This was crazy. If Jack refused to co-operate, his secret would be safe and so would he. If he helped Daniel, at least Daniel would be whole again and without pain but where would that leave them both? Jack could work it out easily. He would be held for the rest of his life like a guinea pig and Daniel would probably be disposed of, not deemed important enough to remain alive. He would be a witness to all of this plus he would carry the knowledge of Jack's ability. That would be enough to shut him up terminally.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, asshole so why don't you get Daniel some help before I beat the crap outta ya for murder!"
Black Suit sighed melodramatically and rolled his eyes. "Colonel, you are missing the point. If you don't demonstrate your healing power, your friend here is gonna die. Do you really want his death on your conscience when you can avoid it?"
Jack looked at Daniel again. His mouth was a tight thin line, a sign that he was struggling to hold back the extent of his pain and distress. He couldn't communicate verbally; that would take too much effort but he could make his point just the same. Jack saw him mouth the word, 'no'.
Jack was thinking fast. Could Daniel accurately assess his own condition as not being critical or was he just doing it to protect Jack? Was Daniel willing to sacrifice his own life to save Jack's? The realisation formed a tight knot in his stomach. Daniel was invested in Jack and Jack knew what he had to do.
"Okay, "he growled. "Lemme out."
"Jack," Daniel warned weakly.
"It's okay, Daniel. Just let me do what I have to."
Daniel's eyes fluttered closed. He was unconscious
"If he dies, I'll choke the hell outta ya," Jack threatened through gritted teeth as Black Suit unlocked his cell door.
Black Suit prodded Jack in the back with his own gun. It just served to intensify Jack's determination for payback.
As soon as he was clear of the cell doorway, he was at Daniel's side. On his knees, Jack laid a palm against Daniel's face and tried to gauge his condition.
"Don't bother with an assessment, colonel. Just do your thing," Black Suit said airily.
Jack threw him a poisonous look and then turned his full concentration back to Daniel. Holding his hand just above the bloody patch on Daniel's shirt, Jack closed his eyes. He felt that same heat build through his arm and hand as he had the first time, and after a few moments when it had dissipated, Jack opened his eyes again and inspected Daniel's wound. Lifting Daniel's shirt, Jack could see his injury was gone and his skin was smooth and unmarked.
Still on his knees, Jack looked over his shoulder at Black Suit who was standing close by, the business end of Jack's gun still trained on him.
Black Suit was wearing a satisfied smile. "So, colonel, you have powers as good as Superman's but a little more useful. You did realise that when you killed my operatives with that fatal dose of electricity from your laser gun, you had the capacity to increase the charge ten-fold. You're a very interesting man, Colonel O'Neill."
"Really," Jack said flatly. Straightening up, he thought it strange that Daniel hadn't revived. He'd checked for a pulse and knew that Daniel was alive. Maybe it would take a while for him to regain consciousness.
Jack stepped away from him and once again glared at Black Suit. "So now what?"
"Well, I think you deserve a trip to Area Fifty-One don't you, colonel? I know our scientists will be very keen to interview you."
"You mean do a whole load of tests on me and never let me see the light of day again," Jack said with feeling. "And what about, Daniel? What're ya gonna do with him?"
"He's a useful resource. Just think about it. Couple the man with the power to the man who's had first hand experience and our scientists will think it's the fourth of July, Memorial Day and their birthdays rolled into one."
Black Suit fell silent for a moment looking pensive. Jack waited. There would be more. With goons like him, there was always more.
"Oh yes," Black Suit said thoughtfully, "There's something else and it has to do with coupling. I know what you and he did together, colonel. We have it all recorded"
"In a black van?" Jack asked, eyes narrowed and wishing he'd investigated the damn vehicle when he'd seen it.
"Therefore, if you have any reluctance in doing as I say I will make sure a copy of that recording finds its way to your C.O's in tray. What do you think, Colonel O'Neill? Will an officer," Black Suit went on giving Jack a supercilious look, "Survive in Leavenworth with your kind of preferences?"
Jack sensed it wasn't a question. It was already a done deal. He knew he wouldn't survive because Black Suit would make it so.
During this acid exchange, Daniel listened. He'd regained consciousness as Jack was healing him but he'd decided to stay quiet in the hope of finding even the smallest opportunity to improve his and Jack's chances of escaping their situation.
Daniel opened his eyes a crack, just enough to work out who was standing where. He saw Jack shifting his position, his feet gradually edging sideways and taking Black Suit with him. Jack had effectively manoeuvred Black Suit to stand closer to Daniel.
Closing his eyes, Daniel wondered if Jack was aware that he was awake and waiting. He lifted his eyelids just a sliver and noticed No-Neck stirring, his large sprawled body contracting as he attempted to sit up. Daniel knew. He had to take action now or miss the best chance they were likely to get.
Jack raised his head a little and stuck out his chin. He did not react well to threats and he had to find a way of ending this pointless exchange with Black Suit. No-Neck was sitting up on the cell floor and rubbing his bruised and rapidly swelling forehead.
Something needed to happen and right now. And it did. Daniel, still on his side, shot out his hand, grabbed Black Suit around the ankle and yanked hard. Black Suit lost his footing crashing to the floor and finding Daniel on top of him. Daniel was quick enough and clever enough to wrest Jack's gun from his grip, which had momentarily slackened with the shock of Daniel's attack.
At the same time, Jack flung himself at No-Neck. He took advantage of the man being still on the floor. No-Neck struggled and managed to land a punch on Jack's cheek. Jack wasn't going to be outdone. As soon as he'd pinned No-Neck so that he was unable to move, Jack plunged his hand inside the huge man's suit jacket to locate his firearm.
Smiling, Jack lifted the safety and held the gun at No-Neck's temple. Jack shook his head slowly sending a clear message that if No-Neck tried anything, he'd be dead.
Meanwhile, Daniel had subdued Black Suit, and now stood over him, his boot pinning Black Suit's wrist to the floor and with Jack's gun pointing squarely at his chest.
"Remember when you shot me," Daniel was saying, "and then you told me you'd changed your mind? Well, when I was lying on the floor with my eyes closed I decided that I wasn't going to stay there any longer. Y'know why? Because I changed my mind! And y'know something else? When an SGC team gets here, you're going to be taken into custody so far from your NID office that no one will know where you are!"
Jack grinned broadly.
"According to General Hammond it is assumed you were very badly injured, Daniel, so how can you be uninjured now?"
"Jack," Daniel stated succinctly.
"What did he do?"
"He healed me, Janet."
"Now just a minute, Daniel," Janet frowned again, "That's not funny."
"I'm not being funny. I think Jack's ability to heal is connected to the Ancients' gene."
"Then I should be examining Colonel O'Neill as well," said Janet with a look in her eye that dared Daniel to disagree with her.
Turning away from Daniel's infirmary bed and hugging her clipboard, Janet looked at Jack in the next bed. "Well, colonel? What's your explanation?"
Jack shrugged. "I dunno, doc. All I know is, I held my hand over Daniel's wound and he healed. What can I say, except this is the second time."
Janet fixed him with a frown. "You've done it before?" Her eyes narrowed. She hated being kept out of the medical loop. "I need to do some tests."
Jack groaned. Daniel grinned.
It took three days and a lot of complaining for Jack to persuade Janet to let him and Daniel out of the infirmary. Sam had called in at least twice a day to keep them up to date with news, though apart from her work on the Z.P.M. and several smaller projects lined up in her lab there wasn't much else to tell.
"Has General Hammond said anything about selecting our fourth, sir?" she asked sitting down between Jack and Daniel's beds.
"Yes, captain and it's on my to-do list."
Sam gave her C.O. a nervous smile and said nothing more on the subject. Judging by his grumpy tone, she guessed the colonel had probably come under heavy pressure to make a decision during the time he'd been stuck in the infirmary.
Jack was hoping that once he was discharged from the infirmary he'd be able to go home but General Hammond had other ideas.
"It seems we've had a leak," Hammond said quietly. "Detailed information about our operations here has found its way to the NID and possibly beyond. For that reason, I don't want any more connections made about your...ability. It has already made you and the SGC vulnerable and I won't have it happen again."
Jack thought hard. How would the NID know about his healing power? He considered the possibility that someone had accessed his medical records. The fact that he had the weird gene might have been enough to attract the very curious. Not only that, it was common knowledge that Jack was old...really old. That on its own would interest the NID.
"No, sir," Jack replied slowly. Was that a falling shoe he could hear about to slap him on the head?
"At least with the arrest of those rogue NID agents we have stopped the leak for the time being and I'd like to keep it that way. With those agents out of the picture, there is no one to confirm your powers first hand. I don't want anyone else knowing about it, colonel."
"But if I can...do what I do, that would be a good thing, right? I could take care of SGC casualties."
"And send yourself on a one-way trip to Area Fifty One for sure – or worse. Do you really want to be a guinea pig? They would never let you go, colonel, you must know that. You'd be a permanent test subject, an object of curiosity and desire. I couldn't protect you from that. If they asked and I refused to send you, they'd take you anyway. They've tried to do it once and at some point they'll try it again. Your recent experience is a salutary lesson for us all, colonel."
Jack sat in silence for a few moments. Hammond's picture did not make comfortable viewing, made worse because Jack had seen Daniel almost killed in order to make him demonstrate his ability.
"I suggest you say nothing more about this. You would be well advised to keep your ability under wraps, colonel."
"You mean not use it? What about the other SG teams? I could save lives!" Jack said again. He was prepared to offer himself and run the risk rather than stand by and watch good men die because he should protect his own personal safety first.
"Jack," Hammond said kindly. "I understand your concern and your wish to help but I cannot allow you and your ability to fall into the wrong hands again. I'm sorry, Colonel O'Neill," he went on his tone switching from concerned father figure to stern commanding officer.
"Is that an order, sir?" Jack asked, a suggestion of barely muted defiance lacing his voice.
"I can make it an order," Hammond nodded, "Though for now I would much rather keep it a gentlemen's agreement."
"Yes, sir," Jack nodded in defeat. He liked General Hammond and understood the man was just trying to protect him. Jack hoped his agreement to Hammond's suggestion would not have to be tested. What if he was standing at the base of the ramp and saw injured men staggering through the 'gate. What if he saw Daniel injured and near to death? Could he stand by and do nothing?
The shoe dropped and landed hard. He hated moral dilemmas.
"Ya feelin' okay?" Jack asked close to Daniel's ear as they shuffled along the commissary line.
The effect was to make the plate of salad and dish of ice cream on Daniel's tray begin to slide as he started at Jack's words. "Jack, you did that deliberately!"
"Me? Do what deliberately?"
Daniel frowned. Jack grinned.
"You're stalking. This is not the place to be honing those kinds of skills. I could have dropped my tray."
"Proving I can do silent stalking and you can't," Jack smiled smugly.
"Very funny," Daniel growled and moved away from Jack to seek out an empty table.
Jack arrived a minute later with a coffee cup in his hand and sat down across the table from Daniel.
"What do you want, Jack?"
Jack studied Daniel's face and noted the frown and the tight mouth.
"Have I done or said anything to offend you?" Jack asked loftily.
Daniel glanced around. The commissary was almost empty. Then he dropped his voice to growl, "You lied to me."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "About?"
Daniel sighed. "You know what, Jack. Why didn't you tell me the truth at the time? Why didn't you tell me the truth at any time? Don't you trust me?"
Jack felt the sharpness of Daniel's words like knives to his breast. "We shouldn't be talking about this, here," Jack growled back. "Why don't I come over to your place tonight and then we can talk."
"The last time we got together one of us got kidnapped," Daniel muttered.
"We could meet in a motel?"
"Changing the venue at the last moment is standard Spy School stuff, Daniel. It's Cloak and Dagger 101, even in my day. Would that make you feel more comfortable?"
"Well, what would make you feel more comfortable?" Jack pushed down his growing irritation. It was like trying to date a reluctant virgin.
"The truth, Jack," Daniel scowled.
"For cryin' out loud, that's what I'm offering, Daniel!"
"No, you were hoping for..." He couldn't say it in their present situation.
Jack blinked and watched in surprise as Daniel left his food and headed towards the commissary exit.
"Later," Jack called for the benefit of the staff. It was obvious Daniel felt very strongly about Jack's lack of candour. He had to make it right.
Jack peered around the door and saw Daniel frowning at a large stone tablet. His office was in darkness save the table lamp focusing a strong light on the object.
"Come to confess?" Daniel asked without even looking up.
"Look," Jack began stepping into the office and closing the door, "Everything happened so quickly. I chose to keep quiet because I didn't know what to do or what to think. As far as I know there's only one guy who can heal people just by thinking about it. I was a little...confused, Daniel. I needed time to think."
Daniel made no response. He continued studying the tablet.
Except he wasn't really. He was trying to focus on his feelings. He was upset with Jack for not telling him the truth to begin with. He was uneasy that Jack had healed him twice. What if it happened again and Jack wasn't around to save him? More to the point, what if it happened again and Jack was there to save him? Would Jack hover just in case? Before he knew all of this, Daniel had always been prepared to take his chances, just like everyone else in the SGC but now, knowing Jack, Daniel would never be allowed to take a risk again in case Jack wasn't there to look out for him. The whole thing just got more confusing the more Daniel thought about it.
"Okay, Jack, I understand that. Now here's something I need you to understand. You have to let me do my job and take the risks that go with it. I don't want you exercising your team leader/commanding officer role to stop me from going offworld, excavating an archaeological site or from crossing the road."
"Right," Jack said cocking his head.
"Right? You're agreeing?"
"Sure. I can't stand over you each time you breathe. I know that. I know I can be dumb sometimes but I'm not stupid, Daniel. There's just one thing though, if we're on a mission and you get hurt, I'm not gonna stand by and let you die."
"That's comforting, Jack, thank you. Just tell me what I'm supposed to do if you're dying?"
"Call the doc, I guess," Jack said shrugging and then letting out a gust of air. "This is more difficult than I thought."
"Caring for someone you work with."
"Ah," Daniel nodded.
The conundrum of what Jack would do if faced with the choice of healing or keeping schtum kept him awake. The other thing that kept him awake was the one question that no one could answer for him. Had he always had the Ancient gene or did Methuselah give it to him? Jack didn't understand genes, or DNA or anything like that. The discovery of DNA didn't happen until after he'd been frozen so why would he know about it?
The fact still remained that Jack didn't know if Methuselah had given him this...ability, this power. Black Suit had told him he had the power to enhance electricity to become a very scary weapon. How did Black Suit know that?
Jack remembered Doctor Fraiser putting him through a whole battery of tests and he recalled how her already large eyes had widened when she'd switched on some equipment or other and it had beeped and winked like it was on something. Jack should have guessed it was an abnormal response when the machine gave off a small plume of white smoke before it stopped working. Fraiser had written down lots of notes at that point. If his theory was right and the NID had lifted his medical records, they could have made some accurate assumptions about his capacity to turn electricity into an offensive weapon.
With all that had happened during Daniel's kidnap and his own quest to find him, plus General Hammond's warning, Jack was beginning to think that his abilities had a real downside. Focusing on this, Jack also became convinced that it must have been Methuselah's fault, that the alien had given him this gene just to mess with his life.
Jack sighed loudly and sat up. He grabbed his clock and stared at it. The LED lights glowed two am. He rested his head in his hands. There were so many things in his life he wished he could reverse, though only one thing he was glad he couldn't. Daniel had been the one constant, the only element in his otherwise very confusing current life that he could rely on and for which he was very thankful. If he could get some answers about his touch-and-burn, and touch-and-heal powers, he would move on and really start to enjoy his life.
Jack leaned sideways and hitched up his feet at the same time, lying on his side with his knees drawn up. His head hurt.
A moment or two later, a strange glowy light filled Jack's bedroom and when it had dissipated an old man in ankle length robes stood at the foot of his bed.
"Am I lookin' at Santa or is it Methuselah?"
"Yes, it is I, Methuselah."
"And why are you here?" Jack asked sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.
"I'm afraid I had a rather hurried departure from our last meeting. I felt obliged to give you the opportunity to ask your questions."
"I asked my questions and you told me there was nothing you could do to give me my life back, resurrect my dead son or stop Glenn Miller from dying in a plane crash!"
"I do not recall your anger stretching to anyone called Glenn Miller," Methuselah replied, his green eyes glinting in the light of Jack's side lamp.
"Bad example," muttered Jack. "So whaddya doin' here?"
"I think you need to talk."
"No, I don't need talk. I just need to shoot ya!"
Methuselah smiled. "You could try, colonel."
"Yeah, yeah, very funny," Jack growled. Methuselah's presence was generating two kinds of feelings for Jack. First, he was still angry and frustrated with the alien but knew perfectly well if he attempted to shoot Methuselah it wouldn't get him anywhere. Second, Jack hated to admit it but he was relieved to see the old fella. Now perhaps he could get some answers.
"Did you give me our shared characteristic or have I always had it?" Jack asked and impressed himself with how succinct he could be.
Much to Jack's frustration, Methuselah didn't respond right away. "Well?" Jack grunted.
"You have inherited your gene from a long line of other humans, colonel."
"You mean my father or my mother had it?"
"I believe it was your grandmother's second cousin," Methuselah replied airily.
Jack worried at his lower lip. "Am I the only one?"
"So who are they?"
"I cannot tell you."
Jack's frown deepened. "You can't or you won't?"
"I cannot. There is no reason to assume you are the only one, colonel and that is based on the billions of humans inhabiting this planet."
"So you're sayin' the bigger the population, the better the chance of more than one person having this gene?"
Methuselah cocked his head. "Precisely."
"You know I can't use it," Jack went on. "It's already nearly cost Daniel his life. I wish I didn't have it."
"But you do and you must learn how to use it."
Jack glared at him. "I just knew you'd say somethin' like that. In the meantime, I can light up Times Square and do a little more than apply a Band Aid."
"These abilities are important, colonel. It may lead to the deliverance of this planet when Earth is in desperate need."
"Oh yeah? And when's that gonna be?"
"I cannot say."
"Didn't think you could."
Jack remained seated on his bed, thinking. There was so much to think about and he wanted to use his time with Methuselah well. He had a feeling the alien might flit at any moment.
"I suppose I should thank you for saving my life, even if you did forget to come back and unfreeze me."
"As I explained before, colonel, it was not my intention to leave you. It was just a temporary action designed to preserve your life."
"And what about those other folks with you, including Hedy Lamarr? Who are they?"
"They are like me."
"And what do they do, exactly?"
"We are a small faction that believes humans have great potential. We have broken a few rules in order to interact with you. We have also declared ourselves enemies of the Goa'uld. This means we have alienated ourselves from The Others and risk their retribution."
"So you're outlaws."
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
"Y'know, if we worked together, as allies, we could kick Goa'uld ass until there isn't any left to kick."
"If we intervened in any way, The Others would know and come for us."
Jack gave a snort of derision. "You've already intervened!"
Methuselah remained silent, though raised his eyebrows and smiled.
"You must understand, colonel, my group has to pick its battles carefully. You just happened to stumble on something that was none of your business but as a result you would have forfeited your life had I not intervened."
"So that's it then. You came, you saw, you confused and now you're leaving again."
Jack nodded. "Huh."
"Before I go I have something for you," Methuselah said and plunging his hand deep inside his robes, pulled out a misshapen sooty black item of plastic.
Jack turned it over in his hand. "What is it?"
"I believe you call it an audio tape."
"I do?" Jack muttered wondering what it might have been.
"Yes. I retrieved it from a man in a black suit. He was sitting in a four-wheel vehicle outside your house, colonel."
Then the penny dropped. Jack had worked out that this melted piece of plastic represented the recording of him and Daniel in bed together. "Thanks," he said appreciatively.
Methuselah smiled again. He liked Jack O'Neill even though he was not supposed to. He was not allowed favourites though he knew of one other in his group who favoured Daniel Jackson but Oma Desala would never admit that.
"Just tell me one more thing," Jack was saying but Methuselah had to leave. He could sense the approach of The Others. He should go before he was discovered.
Jack squinted as Methuselah turned into a glowy white cloud and disappeared, his question already formed and articulated. "How old are you?"
It was too late. Jack was once again alone in his bedroom.
A week later, Daniel stood in the centre of Jack's living room, his arms folded across his chest and a grin on his face.
"Well? Go on, open it!" Daniel laughed.
Jack's gaze slid from Daniel to the large box on the coffee table. With narrowed eyes, Jack just stared at it. He couldn't discern what was in it. It was neatly wrapped in colourful paper and included with the mystery of the big box was an additional small slim square present placed on top of it.
"It's not a booby trap is it?" Jack asked suspiciously.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Of course not."
Jack picked up the small square package and flipped it between his fingers. There was no clue as to its identity. "Which one should I open first, Daniel?"
Daniel's grin grew wider. "The big one, I think," he said sitting down on the edge of the sofa.
Jack threw Daniel a lopsided grin and pounced on the box, tearing at the wrapping until its base was surrounded by torn uneven strips of paper like a special dessert decorated with haphazard streams of cream.
Looking around, Jack needed something to cut the tape securely holding the box flaps. Daniel handed him his car keys and Jack used the serrated edge of the ignition key to cut through the tape. He leaned his head sideways to read the print on the side of the box and trying to make out the pictures, he glanced at Daniel for help. "What is it, exactly?"
Laughing, Daniel stood up and in one stride was beside Jack and pointing. "It's a CD player, combined with a digital radio and alarm clock."
"A CD player?" asked Jack confused. "I thought a thing like that was just for cars, y'know, like you've got in yours."
"No, CD players come in all shapes and sizes and are used in a variety of different locations and situations, Jack."
"Right," Jack nodded thoughtfully. "So how does it work? Do I have to plug it in?"
Jack still felt the thrill of excitement when he saw all those electrical sockets at the SGC. In his old house, the one he'd shared with Sara, there was only one in each room and two in the kitchen. He continued to marvel at the fact that most places, homes, apartments like Daniel's, the SGC, had so many.
"I guess you could put it in your bedroom or in here, if you want," Daniel was saying. "You don't have to use the alarm on it."
Jack blinked. "How about here?" he said moving some fishing magazines off a wooden chest against the wall.
"Sure," Daniel smiled and helped Jack get the player out of the box.
A few moments later, it took pride of place on the wooden chest and Jack, with hands on hips, stood back to admire it. Daniel laughed. A very large plastic bag, some smaller ones, polystyrene packing and the now empty cardboard box littered the carpet. He could imagine Jack's enthusiasm at Christmas time.
"You'd better open the little one, Jack," Daniel prompted and Jack spun around looking for it.
When he'd finished shifting the packaging debris with his foot he swiped up the gift from the floor and tore off the wrapping paper. "Wow! Glenn Miller's Greatest Hits, huh? That's great, Daniel. Thanks."
Jack took a few moments to read the list of songs and to look at the picture of a bespectacled man in a wartime uniform. "Whoa!"
Daniel looked up quickly at Jack's sudden shock. "What is it?"
Jack shook his head. "Did they ever find him?" he whispered.
"I'm sorry, Jack but no."
When Daniel had encouraged Jack to research all those missing decades of history, one of the first things Jack had wanted to do was to follow Glenn Miller's career. It was with profound shock and sadness that he'd discovered Miller had gone missing in action over the English Channel in 1944.
"At least there are still plenty of recordings of his music, Jack," Daniel said running his fingertips over the CD case in Jack's hand. "Wanna play it now?" he asked.
"Oh yeah," Jack breathed. He thought he would never hear Glenn Miller's music again. He didn't have any records to call on but now, thanks to Daniel, he could listen to his favourite band leader as often as he wanted.
"This is what you do," Daniel said and patiently showed Jack how to load the CD, and which buttons to press on the player's remote.
The gentle strains of Moonlight Serenade filled Jack's living room. Jack looked at Daniel. "Do you dance?"
Jack moved forward and held his arms out. "Dance with me, Daniel," he said quietly.
Daniel stepped into Jack's arms and took a breath as Jack embraced him. Together they swayed to the music, Jack with his hand at the nape of Daniel's neck, his fingertips stroking the back of Daniel's head. So many things had happened in such a very short space of time and Jack tightened his grip on Daniel as he thought about them.
Jack had been on his way to see his wife and son and then a quirk of fate had frozen him for sixty years. He had missed so much during that time, his wife moving on, his son dying during his duty to his country. There had been world events he still didn't know about, no matter how Daniel encouraged him to learn about them.
Jack had woken in a different time, a different age where technology dominated people's lives and where people's lives were played out under different codes of behaviour.
He had made love with a man for the first time, had travelled across the universe and found that though things were so different, they were still the same. It was a confusing time for Jack and he knew he was still adjusting.
The biggest and best adjustment concerned Daniel. Jack would never have believed he was capable of embarking on an affair with another man though somewhere in the back of his mind he'd always known he was capable of it and it had taken Daniel to prove it to him.
Now here he was, Jack O'Neill, still a colonel, still serving his country and standing in the arms of a man and dancing with him. Although he was a hundred years old and to him, as old as Methuselah himself, Jack felt fit and able. This was the best gift of all. He had lost sixty years but gained a future with Daniel. He would use his borrowed time to forge a new kind of relationship, one that made his breathing faster and his heart beat louder.
Slowly, a fingertip stroked warm skin, seeking out the soft giving flesh between a pair of long thighs, Daniel's lips brushed Jack's, resting for a moment at the curve between neck and shoulder as the touch of his hand caressed Jack's balls.
As Jack's balls moved under Daniel's fingers, Jack shivered with pleasure. Never in his life had he experienced such seductive contact with the promise of so much more. Now prepared to let Daniel do anything, Jack closed his eyes and moaned.
Daniel's hand moved over Jack's cock, caressing his hard erection, squeezing his heated flesh and pulling from it one wave of pleasure after another.
"God, you're good at this," Jack panted, lifting his hips to gain more contact.
"I'm only as good as the man in my arms," Daniel smiled. "Your responses tell me what to do, Jack."
"I can tell you what to do, Daniel," Jack gasped. "Do me!"
"All the way?"
"All the way, Daniel."
Daniel bent to his task of bringing Jack to the edge and then letting him sink back. Jack could feel the surging and ebbing tides rush through his body, every action Daniel took making the flow of surge and ebb shift closer together. Daniel applied every technique he knew to give Jack the exquisite pleasure he knew he deserved.
Daniel paid attention to every inch of Jack's body, drawing his tongue over heated flesh, sucking Jack's erection and caressing his balls. Suckling his nipples made Jack shudder and quiver.
"I'm not gonna last much longer," panted Jack. "Ya gotta put me out of my misery."
"I hope I'm not making you miserable, Jack. I was hoping for better than that," Daniel replied trying to keep his voice serious, though the chuckle in it gave away his intention.
"Fer cryin' out loud!" Jack exclaimed. "C'mon, Daniel. Don't keep me dangling."
"Okay," Daniel breathed, taking up the tube of lubricating gel. "On your side, Jack," he said firmly.
"No, a first time is better on your side."
Jack remained on his back and looked up at Daniel who was propped on his elbow alongside Jack.
"But when I...when we..."
"When you fucked me? Is that what you're trying to say?"
"Well, yeah," Jack nodded but his enthusiasm wasn't in it.
Daniel stroked Jack's cheek. "What's the matter?"
"The F word. It doesn't sound right for what we're doing."
"How about making love? How does that work for you, Jack?"
Jack grinned. "Works fine," he growled pulling Daniel down to his lips.
Daniel held his already lubricated fingers out and away from Jack. It was harder than he thought not to want to touch Jack, until Jack grabbed his wrist and turned them over. Now Daniel was on his back with Jack above him, straddling his hips.
"I thought you wanted all the way, Jack."
"I do," said Jack quirking an evil grin.
"Well I can't do it while I'm on my back."
"No, maybe you can't but I can do this."
Jack settled his buttocks over Daniel's cock and began to rock back and forth slowly and gently.
"God, Jack! I'm gonna come before I should."
Jack smiled. "Now that wouldn't do, would it?"
"Jaaaack," Daniel pleaded.
"Okay, already," Jack said clucking his teeth and then he seemed to stop in mid-thought.
Daniel noticed the slight out of focus look in Jack's eyes and lifted his head off the pillow. "Are you okay?" he asked gently.
Jack blinked and turned his attention back to Daniel. "I'm more than okay thanks, Daniel. I've just realised what I'm doing."
"I'm in bed with a man, rubbing my ass against his cock and loving it. This is not what I expected!"
"Expected in a good way or a bad way?" Daniel asked carefully.
A broad grin split Jack's face. "Good, Daniel. Very good!"
Daniel breathed out a sigh of relief. For a moment, he thought Jack might change his mind. Before he could gather his thoughts, Jack was on him again and kissing him with intense passion and need.
"You're doing it again," Daniel mumbled around Jack's lips. "If you want me inside you, you're gonna have to stop this."
Smiling, Jack pushed away from Daniel and turned onto his side, facing Daniel. "Okay," he purred. "I'm all yours," and Daniel's eyes rolled back in his head.
Asking Jack again, Daniel breathed, "Turn over."
This time Jack did as he was asked and settled onto his side, drawing up his knees a little and pushing his hips backwards. He wanted this.
Now Daniel could use his lubricated fingers, at first carefully rubbing at Jack's anus, teasing the tight ring of muscle before slipping in a finger.
Jack moaned. This was a sensation he could never have predicted but one that he never wanted to be without again. Daniel's touch ignited feelings in Jack for which he was unprepared. He thought he might feel revulsion for this intrusion, for the nature and intent of such an action but instead felt great emotional integrity. What was happening to him now at Daniel's hands felt good and right, whole and pure. Jack was in love.
Daniel continued to prepare Jack, gently stretching him, encouraging him to relax. By now Jack's head was spinning. Daniel moved up close behind him, the time was right. Jack was ready.
"I'm gonna be inside you, Jack. There'll be a small push, a second of resistance then I'll slide in. If you're uncomfortable or you feel any pain, say so and I'll stop."
Jack nodded. He couldn't speak. He was beginning to tense up.
"Relax," crooned Daniel in Jack's ear as he lined himself up, the head of his cock pressing gently against Jack's body.
Jack could feel Daniel push and sucked his lip in anticipation. Daniel was right, his body resisted for a fleeting moment before Daniel breached him. Daniel was slow and careful but Jack could feel just a slight burn as Daniel continued to push. The sensation died away quickly and when Jack felt Daniel positioned close behind him, he sighed with relief and shuddered with excitement.
"Okay?" Daniel whispered.
"Okay," Jack rasped.
Daniel slipped his arm under Jack's and gripped his shoulder in front. Slowly Daniel began to move his hips, thrusting deep inside Jack's body.
Jack groaned and panted through the sensations, his mouth dropping open in concentration.
As Daniel moved balls deep inside Jack, Jack gradually shifted and turned onto his front with each forward push from Daniel.
"I wanna be on my hands and knees, Daniel," Jack breathed.
Daniel withdrew and waited for Jack to reposition himself. Jack growled, "C'mon, Daniel," as he settled himself, pushing up his backside and swaying. He felt wanton and sexy and his ass wanted Daniel's cock.
Grinning, Daniel lined himself up and slid back inside Jack's body. Gripping Jack's hips, Daniel began to move again using long deep slow thrusts, his movements accompanied by Jack's laboured breathing, grunts and gasps.
Daniel angled his hips and pushed, making Jack yell out in surprise. Daniel had brushed Jack's prostate and Jack could see stars as his body absorbed the flash of intense pleasure from the contact.
The low swirling build of Daniel's orgasm had him pumping faster and faster. By now, Daniel's momentum had collapsed Jack's arms and with his head buried in the pillows, Jack reached for his cock and stroked fast. The stimulation of Daniel's impending completion was driving Jack towards his own, closer and closer to the edge as Daniel rasped out a warning, "Close, Jack. Very close."
At that moment, Daniel's forceful rhythm began to break down. With shorter stuttering thrusts, he was a heartbeat away from coming. Meanwhile Jack had stroked himself to the threshold of release. "Now, Danny!" he panted, his hand pulling and squeezing.
With one final push, Daniel came, emptying himself high up inside Jack. Shakily, Daniel held himself in place while Jack came and once finished, they collapsed onto the mattress, breathing hard and laughing at the same time.
"Wow," Jack murmured in awe.
"Yeah," Daniel smiled back.
"That was amazing," Jack went on. "I never knew it could be like that. Don't think I'll ever bother having sex with a woman ever again!"
"Were you thinking you might?" Daniel asked quickly, his party balloon beginning to deflate.
"No, not really," Jack replied and rolled over on his front to kiss Daniel on the lips. "I've got all the sex I can handle right here," he whispered against Daniel's mouth.
Daniel returned Jack's kiss. "I'm glad."
Jack moved to lie on his back again. "Am I gonna be able to sit down tomorrow?" he asked as he slid his hands under his head.
"How many more times you want to do this tonight, Jack."
Jack lowered himself carefully into his seat at Hammond's briefing table. Daniel had been correct. Lots of sex meant a sore ass. He debated silently in his brain. Did he want lots of sex or the ability to sit down without thinking about it? He grinned already knowing the answer.
"What?" Daniel asked as he dropped his briefing folder onto the table's smooth surface with a slapping sound and took his seat next to Jack.
"Nuthin'," Jack whispered and grinned some more.
Sam slid into a seat opposite Daniel and Jack just a few seconds before General Hammond appeared.
"Good morning, people," he said without a smile. "I've called you here for an emergency briefing. We've received a message from Abydos concerning a Goa'uld incursion. It appears that two of the Abydonians have been taken."
Daniel stiffened. "Taken? Who?"
"Kasuf said his children were kidnapped."
"Shau'ri and Skaara?" Daniel asked with concern.
"I assume so, Doctor Jackson," Hammond nodded.
"We've got to do something. We have to go after them," Daniel announced urgently. He was halfway out of his chair before Jack could grab his sleeve and pull him to sit down again.
"Just slow down a little, Doctor," Hammond demanded. "You will go to the address Kasuf gave us. He calls it Chulak. Apparently he managed to see the gate address used by the Goa'uld. Gentlemen, and lady," Hammond went on nodding to Sam. "I want you to scope out the place and gather Intel regarding the Goa'uld. If this appears to be a base of operations I want to know as much as possible."
"What about Shau'ri and Skaara?" Daniel put in.
"This is not a rescue mission, Doctor Jackson," Hammond said firmly.
Hammond turned his watery blue eyes on Jack for support. "Colonel?"
"Listen, Daniel. We can't mount a search and rescue with just the three of us. We need to see how the land lies first. In any case, it's possible your people haven't survived."
Daniel opened his mouth to protest but shut it again quickly at Jack's look. He was being told not to pursue the issue in front of the general.
In the locker room as they geared up, Daniel's frown was obvious even to Jack.
"We'll learn what we can, Daniel," he said trying to be conciliatory though deep down he wondered if Daniel still had a hankering for the woman, Shau'ri. Was he, Jack, just a convenient lay for Daniel until he could find her again? Jack shook his head. He should stop thinking and remember just how good he felt about Daniel. He shouldn't allow these doubts to undermine their growing relationship.
"But between us we could at least try and find them. Then we'd know for sure."
"I've got my orders, Daniel," Jack said closing his locker door with a metallic clang.
"I know you do, Jack but if we just happen to discover they're still alive, that there's a chance of saving them, we have to try."
Jack studied Daniel's expression. His blue eyes telegraphed his desire to save the people he knew and Jack was sure he wouldn't accept no for an answer if it were possible. What if this Skaara kid had been Charlie? What would Jack do then?
"Let's play it by ear, okay?" he said patting Daniel on the shoulder.
"Sure, Jack, of course," Daniel said nodding quickly.
Jack lowered his voice to a whisper. "I want you to know that I love you, that I'm in love with you. I'm gonna do my job to the best of my ability and I'll follow orders because that's my job too but being with you makes me more of a man than just my job. I won't promise I can help your friends but if the opportunity arises I'll do my best with that as well."
"Oh, Jack," Daniel sighed and took a step towards Jack, who promptly took a step backwards.
"Not here," Jack hissed.
"Save it, Daniel. Save it for me."
As they stood at the base of the 'gate ramp, Hammond took Jack aside. "You still haven't made a decision about your fourth, colonel."
Jack looked at the General and nodded.
"I expect you to make your decision by the time you return. Otherwise I will impose a fourth on you."
"Yes, sir," Jack replied smartly.
As the 'gate began to spin Jack watched it. He'd been given a list of actions. Gather Intel, save Daniel's friends and select a fourth member for his team. He knew how to do the first, wasn't sure about the second and had no idea about the third. What he was certain of, however, were his feelings for Daniel. Fate had thrown them together. As far as Jack was concerned, it was a galactic joke that Methuselah had stolen his life and his times but a heaven sent opportunity to make something of his future.
When Daniel had woken him in that cave, Jack was a married man with a child. He was looking forward to the end of the war and a life outside the military. Now he was involved in a homosexual relationship with his friend and team member and with a chronological age that under other circumstances would have dictated a nurse and an oxygen cylinder.
Jack didn't feel like a hundred year old man. He wasn't Methuselah, literally or figuratively but he knew he was different. He was different because he should no longer be alive but more than that, he was different because he was in love with a man, with Daniel. All that he had been was no more and all that he could be was invested in his lover.
Shaking his head again, Jack hoisted his backpack higher on his shoulders. Daniel stood beside him zipping up his utility vest. Sam Carter stood the other side of Daniel, her large blue eyes watching the event horizon forming.
Jack smiled. He was the commander of the strangest group of explorers in Earth's history. His team was made up of a hundred year old colonel, a passionate and intense civilian and a very clever woman. He smiled and then rolled his eyes. All he needed was an alien and his team would be complete....