"Go, go, go!" Jack shouted as he made a forward motion with his arm. "Teal'c, point, Carter, Reeves, Phillips, cover fire. Torecetti and Wiley, stay with us. Daniel, DHD."
Daniel gave a short nod and one last look to the others before he sprinted to the DHD. He punched the symbols and pushed down on the crystal, sending the GDO code as soon as the wormhole opened. Crouched down by the pedestal, waiting for the others, his heart pounded as he held his weapon at the ready and watched as his teammates came running towards him, military personnel surrounding two civilian scientists.
Teal'c turned, sending staff weapon fire towards the natives who were following them. Arrows, spears, and the high pitched screaming of the natives filled the air. Reaching the dais, Teal'c waved Doctors Torecetti and Wiley through, still providing cover fire. Reeves fell with an arrow in his back. Jack reached the young soldier, reaching down to pull him up, but dropped him as an arrow found Jack's arm. Daniel saw Reeves nod and gain his feet, but he couldn't keep up and stumbled once again. Daniel took two steps away from the DHD, watching in horror as the natives surrounded Reeves, waving their spears and clubs in the air. He saw a club come down towards the young soldier's head.
"Jack!" Daniel pleaded as Jack took aim and took out one of the natives. The man fell only to be replaced by another while a few advanced on the Stargate. "We have to save him. They'll kill him."
"He's already dead." Jack yelled back, grabbing Daniel and pushing him through the Gate after Carter and Phillips.
The briefing room was silent. Daniel looked at his hands, twisting a pen in his fingers, noticing he'd written Ben Reeves' name on the pad of paper. The reports had been given--all except Jack's; Jack, who was currently in the clutches of Fraiser and Warner. Going over the mission hadn't helped Daniel truly understand what had gone wrong. All he knew was that Reeves was dead, that a man with a promising career had been cut down in his prime.
"Doctor Jackson," General Hammond's quiet voice roused Daniel out of his thoughts, "do you have any theories on what may have caused the natives to turn on SG-14?"
Daniel looked up, across the table at Torecetti and Wiley who sat in what appeared to be shock. From their reports, nothing had prepared them for the Losians turning against them. "Doctor Wiley's initial report shows no indication that the Losians would have any desire to attack. SG-1's first contact with them three months ago was friendly. At this point I can only speculate on the cause."
"And Lieutenant Reeves death?"
Staring at his paper once more as Hammond asked his question, Daniel struggled with his reply, "There was nothing more anyone could have done, sir. When Ben fell the Losians surrounded him immediately. He was dead before we left the planet."
"SG-1 and SG-14, dismissed. I will speak with Colonel O'Neill when Doctor Fraiser says he's up to it."
Daniel stayed seated as the others stood amid a flurry of scraping chairs and gathered papers.
"Jack couldn't save him," Daniel said folding his hands and looking at Hammond. "He tried, but we were too heavily out-numbered."
"No one has accused Colonel O'Neill of not doing his duty, son." The general stood up and walked to Daniel's chair.
Pausing, putting his index finger in the air before resting it on his lips, Daniel needed Hammond to understand his concern. "I know, sir. But it seems that there is no reason Ben Reeves is dead. I know it's not Jack's fault. Not anyone's fault really." He fell silent before pulling his notepad closer, unable to say the other words aloud... 'except maybe my own.'
"Janet?" Daniel asked as he saw Fraiser approaching. He could see curtains pulled around a bed in the back of the infirmary. Sam and Teal'c waited beside him.
"Colonel O'Neill is sleeping right now. He's going to be fine but the removal of the arrow was painful." She looked at all of them in turn. "Barring any complications, I'll release him in the morning."
Daniel automatically glanced at his watch, trying to remember what time it was on Earth. A rumble in his stomach reminded him it was time for some sort of meal. He just had no idea which one. "Twenty one hundred," he murmured, more to himself than the others.
"We can go get something to eat," Sam said placing her hand on his arm.
"Go eat something and come back in an hour. I'll let see the colonel then." Janet smiled to reassure them.
"I need to write my report," Daniel said as they walked off trying to think of something to do to keep his mind off the fact that Jack could have been the one killed and that Reeves was dead because of some error in judgment or translation. Already planning the time until he could take Jack home in the morning, Daniel followed Sam and Teal'c towards the commissary. He rubbed at his eyes under his glasses, hating the gritty feeling that meant he was exhausted. His stomach rumbled again and he wondered at the unreality of being hungry when he'd seen a man brutally killed before his eyes less than three hours before.
But really, he thought an hour later as he stood with a full stomach by Jack's bed watching him sleep peacefully, he was glad it hadn't been Jack. He wondered if that made him a terrible person.
He heard Sam clear her throat and Teal'c shift his position.
"We'll be back later, Jack," Daniel said squeezing Jack's unresponsive fingers because there was nothing more to do in the infirmary; and reports needed to be written because, despite the fact that lives were saved, lives were lost.
"Good morning, Doctor Jackson."
"Good morning, sir." Daniel followed Hammond into his office.
"Have a seat." The general smiled at him and poured a cup of coffee, handing it to Daniel before pouring one for himself.
"Thank you." Daniel held up his coffee cup and took an appreciative sip.
"I'm guessing you didn't find your way home last night," Hammond said, taking a sip from his own cup.
"No, sir." Daniel put the cup on the desk and pulled out a file folder from the stack on his lap. "This is my report of yesterday's mission. I interviewed SG-14 and also consulted Teal'c and Sam for their recollections of the events on the planet." He leaned forward, holding out the report for Hammond. When the general took it and looked at him, Daniel continued."I thought perhaps there was a mistake in the translations my staff and I did before the mission. A mis-spoken word or a misplaced accent could have implications for the success or failure of said mission. But SG-1 had no trouble communicating on our first contact with them and, as I stated in yesterday's de-briefing, we had no reason to believe they weren't friendly. The surviving members of SG-14 reported that the presence of SG-1 was requested by the local shaman, that at the time we returned to the planet the mission was still going well." Daniel pushed his glasses up on his nose. "I have no proof of my theory, sir, it's only what I was able to gather from my analysis of the mission tapes and my interviews, but I believe SG-1 and SG-14 were being set up for a kidnapping, most likely by some bounty hunters. Doctor Wiley reported that the High Chief of the Warrior Clan and the Shaman disappeared from the village every evening SG-14 was on the planet, although we saw no such behavior when we were there. When he asked some of the villagers about it, they believed the behavior was strange. They reported seeing a stranger in the forest--someone they believed was not from any of their clans."
"You saw no indication of Goa'uld or Jaffa on the planet?" Hammond commented.
"No, we didn't. But we know there is a bounty on SG-1's heads. The younger warriors in the clan were blinded by their greed, and not willing to wait for the signal from their leader. Jack ordered us to leave. And they saw their bounty getting away. That's what caused the chase."
"I think they were overcome with the thrill of the hunt and their anger. They didn't stop to think that Reeves was more valuable alive."
"Your recommendation, Doctor Jackson?"
"I believe whoever wanted us has left the planet, most likely in disgust. I'm not sure the Losians will be trusted by them again. I think we need to know for certain if Reeves was taken prisoner by our unknown bounty hunter or if the Losians did indeed kill him." Daniel leaned back awaiting Hammond's decision. Knowing it hadn't been anyone's fault didn't make the results any easier to bear.
"SG-3 will return to the planet," the general announced, raising a hand as Daniel opened his mouth to speak, "once we send a MALP and a UAV through to see what information we can gather that way." Hammond paused, looking right in Daniel's eyes. "Doctor Jackson..."
"I'll be ready to go with them, sir, as soon as you give the order." Daniel stood, knowing he was the best chance at communicating with the Losians. "General, I'd like to check in on Jack before I go. He was sleeping earlier."
"Yes," Hammond answered, already picking up his phone.
Daniel walked towards the door, turning when Hammond called his name.
Raising his eyebrows, Daniel waited. "I'd like to thank you for all your hard work on analyzing the mission, son. Good job."
"Thank you, sir." Daniel ducked his head, hearing Hammond ordering a MALP and UAV as he left the office.
"Hey," Jack said his voice still hoarse with sleep. Daniel stood still while Jack gave him a quick once over glance.
"Hey yourself." Daniel forced a smile to his face, knowing there was no way Jack was going to like what Daniel had to tell him. He settled for avoiding the issue for the moment, "So, uh, how's the arm?"
Jack shifted in bed, turning his head to look at the bandages. He shrugged with his other shoulder. "Okay. Doc says it'll be good as new in a few weeks."
"Ah, that's good then."
"So, did she spring me yet?" Jack asked a tad too eagerly.
It was Daniel's turn to shrug. "She said she'd let you out barring any complications. She won't let you out of here until she checks you out herself, you know that."
Jack found the call button, pushing it three times in his impatience.
"They hate it when you do that you know," Daniel pointed out in what he thought was a reasonable tone. He tried checking his watch without Jack catching him at it.
"Have an appointment, Daniel?" Jack was watching him, his eyebrows raised and a small smile on his face.
"Uh, well, yeah, sort of," Daniel muttered. He looked up to see Sam coming towards Jack's bed.
"Oh good, Daniel, here you are. General Hammond said we have a go with SG-3 in twenty minutes."
"A go? Where are you going?" Jack turned to his side, pushing himself up on the bed and cursing under his breath when Daniel put a hand on his shoulder. "Daniel? What are you up to?"
"I presented an analysis of the mission to General Hammond. I recommended that we return to Losia to reopen negotiations."
"What the hell! Are you out of your mind? They killed one of our people, Daniel," Jack yelled which brought Janet and one of her nurses heading towards the bed at a half run.
"I believe some of them were bribed to deliver us to a bounty hunter," Daniel explained, keeping his voice calm. He knew this was something that had to be done. "And we need to see if Reeves was taken from the planet or if he was truly killed."
"Sir, Daniel is our best chance of negotiating and communicating." Sam tried sounding reasonable, something that seemed to just make Jack angrier.
"We tried communication. They nearly took our heads off." Jack shook off the nurse's arm.
"Sir, I want you to calm down. Daniel, Sam, out of here," Janet ordered.
"This is one of your stupider ideas, Daniel. I gotta' give you that," Jack said, nearly spitting the words in a low voice.
"It's what I need to do." Daniel started to reach out to touch Jack's arm, but pulled his hand back putting it in his pocket. "This is my job."
"Sir?" The nurse's soft whisper made Jack turn his head. "If you're in pain, Doctor Warner has ordered medication. I can get some for you."
"No, no, I'm good," Jack whispered back. "What time is it?"
"0300," she answered, checking her watch before smiling at him. "If you need anything, sir, let me know." She replaced the call button on his pillow, allowing him easy access to it.
For a brief moment, Jack was tempted to take the joy juice. He knew from experience it would knock him out for awhile, let him sleep. Jack rubbed at his eyes, tired and yet unable to rest. He shifted his injured arm, wondering if anyone would mind if he took an unauthorized stroll down to the Gateroom.
He hated being in the infirmary at night. During the day there was light and visitors, but at night, well...nights were just too long when you couldn't sleep, when you were worrying yourself sick over some idiotic stunt that one Doctor Daniel Jackson insisted on carrying out.
Closing his eyes didn't work--the images of Reeves falling, his hand slipping out of Jack's, imprinted themselves on the back of Jack's eyelids. He'd known in a way the others hadn't that Reeves was dead. Oh not because he'd seen a mortal wound, but because he'd seen the pure look of killers, of mob mentality in the warriors that had surrounded them. His stomach twisted and Jack swallowed down the nausea. God forgive him, but all he'd kept thinking was thank God it's not me, thank God it's not my team. He was tired, oh so very tired of fear. He could feel tears prickling his eyes, his nose burning with salt water, and it made him angry.
Damn, he must be getting soft if Fraiser could sneak up on him.
"Yeah, Doc?" He didn't like how hoarse his voice was.
"Maggie says you haven't slept." Fraiser was speaking quietly, her hands smoothing the sheets over him. "Rest is the best medicine for you right now."
"I know." Jack wished she would go away, but Fraiser had the tenacity of a terrier, she and Daniel vying for first place in that category. "Has there been..." he let the words trail off.
"No word, sir." Fraiser busied herself with his chart. "General Hammond has given orders that you are to be informed when they return."
"When am I getting out of here?" Jack asked. He sighed as she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"If all goes well, I'll see about releasing you later today." She rubbed his arm gently. "Sir, try to get some sleep. You're hurting your own recovery. I can give you something if you'd like." She paused as if she was waiting for him to answer. He heard her sigh and suddenly Jack wanted nothing more than to escape from memory and worry.
"Yeah, Doc," he heard himself say, "I'd appreciate it."
She left but returned a few moments later, and he wondered why she didn't give the job to someone else. Then he saw her pull a chair close to his bed and sit down. He closed his eyes, listening as Fraiser spoke softly telling him about Cassie's latest adventures. The happy juice she'd injected into his IV didn't take long to begin to relax him. It was good to forget for awhile.
"Daniel," Sam pointed to the bodies hung from the trees. They'd seen them from the video feed the MALP sent back but at the time they hadn't been able to determine the identities of the men in question.
Daniel nodded. The Shaman and the head of the Warrior Clan had been killed, most likely an order from the elders of the village.
"Doctor Jackson, we want you to stay here until we determine if the area is secure," Colonel Quentin of SG-3 ordered. He motioned for his team to move out leaving Teal'c and Sam alone with Daniel.
They needed to remain alert, and Daniel wondered if the bounty hunter or hunters had left or been found. He scanned the forest, looking for more bodies hung from the trees. Spying one, he took off towards it, realizing this man was dressed differently from the rest. He had only taken a few steps before Teal'c blocked his path.
"You will not, Daniel Jackson," his friend warned.
"I think I found our bounty hunter. Or whoever was behind everything," Daniel explained, pointing.
"Do you recognize the mark, Teal'c?" he asked as they came to the body. Although the man was not Jaffa and bore no tattoo on his forehead, his right hand was tattooed with an intricate spiral.
"I do not, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel heard Sam radio for Colonel Quentin while he busied himself filming the tattoo. Curiouser and curiouser as Jack would say. He thought of Jack's anger when he'd said he'd be accompanying SG-3 on this mission. He wasn't sure if it was due to Jack's medical condition or yet another example of Jack thinking Daniel wasn't able to hold his own. He took a deep breath, reminding himself to focus on the mission at hand. There would be time to deal with Jack later.
"Daniel," Sam whispered in his ear, and he lowered the camera seeing the green clad members of the Hunting Clan coming out of hiding places--a group of them herding SG-3 towards them.
Daniel scanned the group of hunters, finding the leader easily by the ritual scars on his face and shoulders.
"Shelquirin," Daniel said holding out his hands in greeting.
"Your clan returns to us?" Shelquirin asked. Daniel was aware of Colonel Quentin standing still and said a silent prayer of thanks that the man hadn't ordered his team to shoot.
"We return." Daniel motioned to SG-3. "They are part of my clan too." At his words, Shelquirin gave a signal to those surrounding the Marines and they stepped back.
"Tullosia would wish to see you," Shelquirin said. His dark eyes followed Daniel's to the hanging bodies. "We have punished those who broke hospitality. This one," Shelquirin pushed against the body with his hunting spear, "spun lies. Our Shaman was blinded by his greed for power. Tullosia wishes to recompense your clan for their loss."
"Doctor Jackson?" Quentin asked.
Daniel turned his attention to the colonel, forgetting for a moment the conversation had taken place in the native language of the Losians. "Oh, Tullosia is the leader of the village. They are sorry for what happened. It wasn't the wish of the ruling clan."
Quentin stared at Daniel a long moment until he finally nodded. "Trent, Espinoza, you have the Stargate. Give us twelve hours and no more," he added.
"Yes sir." The two Marines nodded and went off to their posts.
"My clan will be happy to meet with yours," Daniel said, smiling at Shelquirin. He took a deep breath and began following the hunter through the forest.
"Tullosia wants to release Reeves' body to us. He apologizes that they didn't know the customs of our people in preparing a body," Daniel explained to Quentin and the others. It was obvious that a blow to the head had killed the young soldier. "He also says that the men responsible for the death of one under the hospitality of Tullosia have been duly punished."
"Punished?" Sam asked.
Daniel swallowed hard and pointed to a structure on the outskirts of the village. "They were killed the same way they killed Reeves."
"Oh," Sam whispered.
"Tullosia hopes that our clan will forgive his people and wishes us to accept his gift." Daniel continued, translating at further speech from the leader.
"Doctor Jackson?" Quentin asked as two young men bound with ropes were brought forward.
"Um, well," Daniel looked at the colonel while Tullosia waited expectantly. "That would be our gift. Tullosia apologizes because they are young warriors and not well trained, but they are quick learners. And they do not eat much."
"We can't take people back with us, Daniel," Sam pointed out, her wide eyes betraying her shock.
"Yes, I know that, Sam," Daniel murmured.
"Tell him we can't take them," Colonel Quentin ordered, all the while keeping a smile on his face.
Daniel nodded, trying to think of the best way to break the news to Tullosia while avoiding insulting his people. "We are greatly honored. Greatly honored by your magnificent gift. But your warriors would not be happy in our clan. Our clan is very large and they would be lost. We would not wish your gift to be so unhappy."
"We must repay you." Tullosia said. " We will give you our best wine. It is the only other thing we have of great value."
Daniel bowed and watched as one of Tullosia's servants scurried away to do his leader's bidding.
"Daniel Jackson, is our refusal of their gift acceptable to them?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes, but they are insisting we take something. They are giving us wine. We can't refuse this gift too," Daniel said, looking at all of them. "We can't appear rude or ungrateful."
Tullosia clapped his hands as a group of men carrying a basket of wineskins. "You will enjoy this wine. It is the best of all of Losia." He took one of the wineskins, breaking the seal and handing it to Daniel. "Taste."
Daniel took a quick glance at his teammates and Quentin before holding the wine to his mouth. His eyes watered at the strength of it, and praying he could swallow with coughing, he drank some and gave Tullosia a smile.
"Is this acceptable?" the leader asked, motioning for Daniel to drink some more.
"Yes, most acceptable," Daniel replied.
He squinted up at the sun. "It is necessary for us to return to our clan, Tullosia," Daniel continued and bowed again, feeling dizzy. Tullosia laughed and hit him on the shoulder and all Daniel could think was maybe Jack had been right and he had been wrong as he struggled to keep his balance.
"All fixed up, Doctor Jackson," Janet Fraiser said as she put the last stitch in the gash above Daniel's eyebrow.
Daniel attempted to scowl at her but it just made his headache worse. Evidently Losian wine had quite a kick to it. He didn't remember walking into the tree on the way back to the Gate, but he was regretting the half wineskin Tullosia had encouraged him to drink.
"Nice black eye, Daniel," Sam commented as she came to stand by his bed.
"Thanks, Sam," Daniel muttered. He was feeling stupid enough without any comments on his current condition from the peanut gallery. "Just drive me home, please?"
"I want someone watching you, Daniel," Janet said.
"I'll drive you to the Colonel's house," Sam answered, a tad too eagerly for Daniel's taste. He could almost sense that she wanted to see the fireworks when Jack caught sight of Daniel's black eye and stitches. Sometimes they were so like siblings it scared Daniel half to death. With friends like these who needed enemies?
He was bored, Jack decided. Bored with a capital B. Bored and achy and he couldn't sleep no matter how hard he tried despite the medications Doc Fraiser had him taking. He wasn't worried about Daniel. He knew Daniel was a grown man and more than capable of taking care of himself. He knew Hammond wouldn't have allowed the mission unless...
Shit, who was he kidding? He was scared witless thinking of Daniel back on that planet. The minute Jack closed his eyes for any longer than a few seconds his imagination took over and all he could see was Daniel in place of Reeves, falling under the clubs of the warriors. Maybe he was getting too old for going through the Stargate; too old for the adrenaline rush, the running and the damn fear that this time he or one of his team wasn't going to make it back alive.
Jack grunted as he got up from the couch. Aches and pains he'd not felt yesterday were making themselves well known today. The sound of a car pulling in his driveway caught his attention as he walked towards the open doors on his deck. The hum of the engine stopped and gave way to slamming car doors and was quickly replaced by voices. Voices that were very familiar to him. Voices raised in argument.
"Sam, I told you, I can make it to the house without your help."
"And Janet said you need someone to watch you."
"I know. I can look in the mirror for that."
"I think the colonel needs to know what Janet said. And I don't think you'll tell him."
Breathing through his mouth, trying to get in a deeper gulp of air to take away the lightheadedness, Jack made his way to one of the deck chairs, sinking down in it as though he hadn't a care in the world. He'd known the mission would go wrong; he'd felt it and knew his words wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference to Daniel. His words never did it seemed.
Jack looked up as Carter climbed the deck stairs followed by Daniel. She was blocking Jack's view but at least he hadn't heard the thump of crutches as Daniel made his way up to the deck.
"Home already?" Jack wondered if he sounded like he didn't care; because that was the effect he really was going for.
"Hey, Jack," Daniel muttered, brushing past Jack's chair and going into the kitchen without another word. The fleeting glimpse was enough for Jack to spy the quite spectacular black eye Daniel was sporting.
"Daniel had a slight...accident," Carter informed him. "Minor concussion. That's why Janet wanted someone to watch him." She shifted on her feet as if she wanted to say more but bit her lower lip instead.
"Carter?" Jack prompted.
"How are you feeling, sir?"
Somehow Jack didn't think that was what she wanted to say but for now he was willing to let the issue drop. He got to his feet and glanced into the kitchen where he could see Daniel standing at the counter, drinking a bottle of water. "Better," he said, switching his attention back to her.
"That's good," she answered, staring at her feet. She fiddled with her car keys. "Well, I'd better be going."
He could see her straining to see in the kitchen and he wondered what had happened between her and Daniel to have made her so uncomfortable, but he was too afraid to ask so he settled for waving his hand at Sam's retreating back and watching her walk to her car.
Leaning against the railing, Jack looked up into the beginning cobalt blue twilight; fear, confusion, frustration, and anger all competing for his attention. He watched Daniel, who was still standing at the counter, although the water bottle was lying on its side. His partner's arms were braced on the smooth surface and his head hung down between his outstretched arms.
Jack pushed away from the railing and entered the house.
"So, Daniel, what's up?" Joking had always been Jack's best way to deal with the hardest emotions. At his words Daniel raised his head and Jack finally got a full look at the extent of the damage. The skin around Daniel's left eye was a blend of purples, blues, and near blacks along with a few stitches, no more than five Jack estimated, formed a neat black line above his eyebrow. A scrape marred the other cheek.
Daniel shrugged. "Losian wine was a little stronger than..."
"Wine?" Jack couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You know sometimes for being a genius you're pretty damn stupid."
Daniel frowned and then raised his eyebrows, well he tried to anyway. Jack found a perverse pleasure in seeing the fleeting grimace of pain at the movement. "Excuse me? What the *hell* are you talking about?"
"They killed one of our people, Daniel. That's what the *hell* I'm talking about." Jack didn't care how loud he was getting, even if Daniel did have a concussion. "And then you go back and play nice nice with the natives. The fucking natives who killed Reeves by *smashing in his skull.*"
"The natives who punished their own." Daniel's voice went very quiet. "It was the shaman and the leader of the Warrior Clan. It wasn't all of them."
"You didn't fucking know that when you stepped through the Gate. You didn't know what the hell you were stepping into." Jack was on a roll, the anger taking over. "That's always your way. Let's go make friends, so what if they shoot at us later, or decide we'd make a nice snack. Well you know what Daniel? Sometimes the natives aren't nice, sometimes they are the enemy. Haven't you learned anything after all these years? Do you have some type of death wish I don't know about?"
"And sometimes they aren't the enemy." Daniel yelled back, his voice matching Jack's in volume. "Yeah, you know what, Jack? I am learning something. I'm learning what a pompous ass, what a big shit you can be. And what about you? Haven't *you* learned anything? I always thought the dumb act was just that--an act. Maybe I've been wrong."
"How long is it going to be until you get yourself killed? Oh wait, I forgot. You've already done that. Gone off to la la land with Oma. You want to leave? Trying to get a return ticket?" Jack slammed his hand onto the counter, letting out a curse when the pain spiked from his palm all the way to his shoulder.
"Maybe I should have let all those people die. Let you and Sam and Teal'c die too. Is that what you want? For me to stand back? Fine." Daniel pushed past Jack, bumping into him with his body. "I'll stand back. Keep myself safe, starting now. I'll see you on base tomorrow."
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Jack grabbed at Daniel's arm, not a very effective maneuver considering he didn't have full strength back in his injured arm yet.
"I think I'm going home," Daniel said. "No, correction; I know I'm going home."
"Doc said someone was supposed to watch you." Jack took a step towards him.
"Then I'll call Sam," Daniel opened the door. "I'm not going to stop being who I am." He left, slamming the door. Jack felt the air of its closing brush his face.
"Stubborn idiot," Jack yelled at his door. When was Daniel ever going to learn to stop putting his life in danger? Did he value his own life so little that he would continue to take the risks? Stubborn and selfish, Jack amended in his mind. The anger felt good, a way to let out the fear and worry. Jack sat down on the closest chair, out of breath. He was right this time, he knew it. He just wished Daniel did too.
"Stupid, stubborn..." Daniel muttered as he walked. He kicked at a stone in his path. He clenched his hands into fists and could feel the headache that had been starting to go away start throbbing again. He heard a rumble of thunder and looked up to realize the stars and moon were hidden by clouds.
Just great. This is just peachy keen, he thought. He sniffed, smelling the damp that meant approaching rain. A loud thunder clap startled him. He looked at his surroundings, wondering just how far he'd walked. Eight blocks from home he calculated when he read the sign at the next cross street. A drop of rain trickled down his neck, giving him fair warning. And then the deluge broke loose. He ran the rest of the way home, even though he was drenched within minutes.
Fumbling with the key at his house, he was just relieved he hadn't left it at Jack's. Kicking off his shoes in the entry way, Daniel grabbed a towel from the bathroom, drying his hair. He didn't think it would be such a great idea to take a shower in a thunderstorm. A macabre image of himself lying electrocuted in the shower stall with Jack standing over him yelling at him and saying 'I told you so', flared the anger again. Daniel pulled off his shirt, his pants, and made a half-hearted attempt to dry his body. Now that he was home the headache seemed to be even more pronounced. He walked into the kitchen, wrapped only in the damp towel, and searched for a bottle of aspirin he knew was somewhere. Coffee, coffee would be good too. He pulled the coffee canister towards him, the thought of the hot brew an overwhelming urge. He opened it, looking at it in surprise when he discovered it was empty. Sighing, and suddenly too tired to do anything about it, he filled a glass from the tap and gave up the search for aspirin or coffee. All he wanted now was to sleep and forget about everything. He walked into his small living room, flicking on the TV with the remote, and stretched out on the sofa. He pulled a throw over himself and listened to some TV chef telling him how to make a meal with ingredients Daniel probably wouldn't be able to find in the supermarket. He closed his eyes. He'd go to bed in a few minutes, as soon as he got warmed up a little bit and his head stopped hurting quite so much.
He woke up to an infomercial--some aging actor extolling the virtues of a mattress he could move up and down. Daniel groaned as he turned onto his side. His neck hurt from the angle he'd been sleeping, his left arm was all pins and needles from having it flung above his head. His mouth was gummy and his sinuses hurt. He pushed himself off the sofa and stood hunched over like an old man. Shuffling towards his bedroom, Daniel gave a longing look towards the shower. A pair of sweat pants and an old T-shirt were crumpled in the laundry basket in the hall. Bending over, bracing his hand on the wall, Daniel was relieved that there was no dizziness, so grabbing the clothing and giving it a sniff, he decided it was wearable. Going into the bathroom, he turned on the taps in his shower, letting the water warm while he brushed his teeth.
He stepped into the shower a few minutes later, letting out a groan of relief when the hot water hit the tight muscles in his shoulders and upper back. Memories of the argument with Jack flooded his brain as he stood under the spray. Stubborn, they were both stubborn, but still Daniel felt a twinge of guilt at his response to Jack's reaction. The realization came to him as he was soaping his hands--Jack was afraid, not that the other man would ever admit it, but his reaction had been fear, not anger.
"Ah, crap," Daniel muttered. Jack wasn't stupid and stubborn, *he* was. Now he had to figure out how to deal with it.
Daniel wasn't the stubborn idiot, Jack decided. *He* was. With a capital 'S' and a capital 'I'. Up in lights maybe. He should have known trying to sleep was going to be an absolutely useless endeavor. Jack looked at the nearly full coffee pot and sighed. He took two steps towards the phone lying on the kitchen table and paused before retreating back to the counter.
"Crap," Jack muttered. He rubbed at his face. Daniel had been doing what they expected him to do, what he got paid the big bucks for. He thought back to Sara--to all those times she'd said goodbye and never knew if her husband would be coming home to her and their son. All the years they'd been married and she'd never, not even once, told him to stop doing what he was trained to do. He was sure there were lots of times Sara had been scared to death when he was gone, but she'd never shown her fear to him. A memory of a small counted cross stitch picture someone had given them as a wedding present came to mind. It was a picture of a sailing ship in a storm and at the bottom had been the words, "A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
Grabbing his keys from the hook by the door, Jack went outside, shivering slightly at the cooler air. The Avalanche was still wet from the earlier storm. He got in, started the engine, and turned the heat on as he pulled out the driveway, ignoring the ache in his arm. He was halfway to Daniel's house when he realized Daniel didn't have a car when he'd stormed out hours ago. A twist in his gut made Jack curse at the traffic light that turned red as he approached.
The house was dark except for a light in the bedroom. Jack could only hope Daniel wasn't suffering any ill effects from the earlier argument. Somehow he doubted that an angry Daniel had taken the time to call Carter or a cab to get home. Jack used his key to enter the house. The TV was on and Jack could Daniel moving around in the bedroom or bathroom--he wasn't sure which.
"Daniel?" he called out, not wanting to startle Daniel and also not wanting to risk getting a fist in the face if his lover thought an intruder was in his home.
"Jack?" The reply was muffled.
Jack headed to the bedroom to find Daniel sitting on his bed with a towel over his head. Taking the towel in his hands, Jack began drying the short strands slowly.
"So," Jack began, pausing when he saw Daniel's body stiffen.
"What are you doing here?" Daniel asked. Jack tried to figure out the emotion behind the words but wasn't quite able to. Daniel wasn't looking at him, making reading his thoughts and emotions even harder.
"Oh I was out for a drive. Thought I'd drop by." Jack bit the inside of his cheek after his comment.
"I'm fine as you can see."
Ah, so it was still a pissed off Daniel he was dealing with. "Uh huh."
"So," Daniel drew out the word, his breath puffing on Jack's hand.
"Dan..." Jack started only to hear Daniel begin with, "Ja..."
"You go..." Jack dropped the towel and looked down at Daniel who tilted his head back.
"Stub..." Jack felt his mouth twitch at the absurdity of the continued stereo speak.
The corner of Daniel's mouth quirked up in a small smile.
Jack lifted one hand, brushing his thumb over the bruise darkening Daniel's cheek. "Tree, huh?"
"Tree, wine with a huge kick in it," Daniel murmured, turning his head slightly into Jack's touch.
"Stubborn idiot," Jack whispered, moving to straddle Daniel's legs.
"Takes one to know one."
Daniel reached up, grabbing at Jack's sweatshirt. They fell back onto the bed with an 'oomph.' Daniel slid his hands under Jack's shirt moving them downwards and pulling at the waistband of his sweatpants. "And I know you..."
"Wait, wait," Jack mumbled in between trying to kiss Daniel and pull down his partner's sweats.
"On your stomach," Daniel ordered, squirming out from under Jack and winding up straddling Jack's back.
Jack wriggled a bit, adjusting his position and feeling the hard press of Daniel's body against his. He felt air hit his ass as Daniel pulled his sweatpants down around his knees.
"Your hands are cold," Jack complained as one cool hand rested on his lower back.
"Sorry." Daniel leaned forward and breathed the word against Jack's nape.
"You are *so* not," Jack said, shivering as more breath hit the sweat on his exposed neck. He heard the sound of a flip-top being pushed back and then skin on skin as Daniel used the lube on himself. Daniel's hands were back on him then and Jack arched his back slightly as Daniel spread his ass cheeks and pushed two fingers inside.
"Hard and fast, slow and easy?"
"Just do it," Jack said beyond caring at this point. He needed Daniel now. He swore he heard Daniel chuckle before pushing his cock inside him. Jack rocked back and Daniel's fingers dug into his hips. Heat coursed through him and he couldn't hold back. Jack came, shudders shaking his body. He could hear Daniel grunting and feel the spatter of sweat drip onto his back where Daniel had pushed up his sweatshirt. Daniel's breathing changed to a rougher rhythm as if he'd been running and was trying to catch his breath. Jack felt his muscles clench tighter around Daniel's cock and then his body fill with the warmth of Daniel's semen. Daniel leaned forward, touching his forehead to Jack's back, his breath hot and moist on Jack's skin.
"Thank you," he whispered.
They lay there for a few minutes, both breathing hard, and then Daniel pulled out of him. Jack felt a momentary loss but then Daniel shifted, a knee hitting Jack in the small of his back and they were side by side on a bed Jack really had to talk to Daniel about.
"About earlier," Jack said, looking up at the ceiling instead of Daniel's head where it rested on his shoulder.
"It's over." Daniel answered. He sounded content and sated and drowsy.
"Damn it. I'm trying to share here," Jack responded, but he knew Daniel didn't believe the grumble for a moment.
"I...look, when you left and came back and then...I...Ships, Daniel." Jack threw an arm over his eyes. That went well, *not*.
"Ships, Jack?" Daniel asked, yawning.
"Ships, harbors, all that kind of stuff." He removed his arm from his eyes and touched a finger to Daniel's black eye once more.
"I love you too," Daniel said and turned on his side, squirming a bit until he managed to smash his face into Jack's neck.
"Ditto," Jack said and smiled. Oh yeah...this was what love was all about.
|Summary:||An off-world incident causes friction between the guys.|