"No, No, No.." the words ran through his mind like a mantra as Colonel Jack O'Neill knelt in the dirt, his head in his hands, tear tracks staining his cheeks. He slowly raised his head and looked again at the terrible sight before him.
He was kneeling in the corner of a crumbling structure, the two walls either side of him the only ones left standing. The opposite two walls and most of the roof was just a pile of rubble about six feet from where he knelt. The structure was so unstable it was entirely possible the remainder would collapse, but Jack did not move. He half-hoped the other section would come down and put him out of his misery.
Only a few minutes earlier the structure had been whole, well as whole as it had been for the last thousand years, according to Dr Daniel Jackson, and when it came to archaeology it made no sense to argue with the expert.
Daniel had been across the other side of the room studying the only wall with any writing on it. As usual in such circumstances, Daniel was in a world of his own, fingers tracing lines that were no more than squiggles to Jack, head darting from the wall to the notebook in his hand where he was scribbling furiously. He absently kept pushing his glasses back up his nose and even though Jack couldn't see his face properly from his vantage point leaning against the pedestal in the centre of the room, Jack knew precisely the way his nose would crinkle and his eyes would squint as he did so. Jack knew everything about Daniel; he spent his days watching the man like a hawk. Originally it had been simply his job, to protect the team's civilian archaeologist. Then he watched his friend's back because that's what friends do.
Things had not been the same between them since he'd ruined everything with his stupid confession. He'd misjudged Daniel badly and it had destroyed the most important friendship in his life. He knew it was mostly his fault because after Daniel had eventually come to terms with Jack's revelation, he had tried to rebuild the friendship. It was Jack who couldn't do it, not because he didn't care about Daniel any more but because he cared too much. He couldn't face the shock and disdain he'd seen in Daniel's face that day. He couldn't face the pain as his heart had broken so he'd walled it up the way he had when Charlie died and he hid.
He knew he was hurting the others; not least Daniel, but he couldn't help it. The only alternative he could see would be to retire and even though it cut him to the core to be so near to Daniel, the idea of him not being in Jack's life, not seeing him virtually every day was like a knife twisting in his gut and he took the lesser of two evils.
He could still remember that day like it was yesterday, though it had in fact been over two months ago now. He had long since recognised his own attraction to Daniel Jackson but for a time had considered it just physical and it had only gradually dawned on him that what he felt for the man went far beyond the physical. Oh, he did think the man was beautiful with a quite delectable body. It still made him smile when he remembered that day about six months earlier when he clued into the fact that Daniel was no longer the skinny geek he had first met but was now a well-built graceful man. The last few years of active service had certainly done his physique no harm whatsoever. However, there was much more to the emotion that all too often overwhelmed him whenever Daniel was at risk or hurt; he knew that feeling only too well. Love. It hit him squarely between the eyes, when once again Daniel almost died and Jack had spent thirty-six hours by his bedside praying he would wake up.
When he finally did, Jack promised himself that once Daniel was fit and well, he would tell him the truth. Jack knew that Daniel cared for him as a friend, his best friend and he was sure that whether or not Daniel could ever return his feelings, he would never decry Jack for telling him, and certainly not for feeling it.
So, two weeks later Jack had taken Daniel home, settled him on the couch in Jack's own house. Janet had only let him out early on the understanding that he wouldn't be left on his own, in his apartment and Jack had been only too happy to agree to Daniel's wide-eyed request that he stay with Jack for a couple of days. Jack thought this would be the ideal opportunity and so he took it.
When Daniel was comfortable with a cup of coffee, which Janet wouldn't have liked had she known, Jack told Daniel there was something he wished to talk about. Daniel had pretended surprise at the very idea that Jack would want to talk. Talking and Jack O'Neill weren't comfortable at the best of times, and when Jack went on to ask him not to joke because it was important, Daniel looked nervous.
"Is this going to the usual lecture? Jack, you know I never meant that to happen," Daniel began but Jack interrupted.
"No, no this is nothing to do with work, Daniel."
Daniel relaxed a little and asked, "Well what then?"
"I want to tell you.... This is difficult. It was so clear in my head but actually saying the words to you..."
"Whatever it is Jack, you can tell me, you know that," Daniel said softly.
Jack took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Daniel, you and I have been friends for a long time, close friends, but I've come to realise there's more to it than that for me. It took me a while to realise that my feelings have... changed." Daniel sat forward at that, looking worried and Jack plunged on quickly, "I've fallen for you Danny, I love you."
Daniel's mouth fell open and he flushed a bright red before the entire colour drained from his skin until it looked like tissue paper. He shot up; a little unsteady on his feet but when Jack moved to steady him; he backed away along the couch.
Jack dropped his hands and felt his heart beating so hard in his chest that he was sure his ribs couldn't contain it. His head was pounding and he couldn't seem to catch his breath. Daniel just stared at him as if he had never seen him before then without a word, he turned and stumbled to Jack's door and left, leaving the door hanging open behind him.
Jack knew he should go after him, he didn't have his car and he was weak but somehow Jack's legs would not work and he collapsed like a puppet with cut strings.
He could never remember the next few hours. He came to himself to find it was twilight and his front door was still open. It was as if he had been frozen during those missing hours. His heart certainly was. It was so heavy in his chest he could feel the pain all the way through to his back. He felt like he wanted to cry but he couldn't, even his tears were frozen.
Whatever he had expected from Daniel, it hadn't been that he would run, scared from his best friend. Oh god, what have I done? He can't even bear to be near me any more. Oh, Daniel, I had at least expected to keep your respect and your friendship. Not this, not this. What have I done? What have I done?
When he calmed down he realised he didn't even know if Daniel was all right and he took his courage in his hands and telephoned. Daniel didn't answer, his machine came on. He didn't want to ring the mountain, he would have to explain to Doc Fraiser that he had let Daniel go and she would want an explanation.
He couldn't contact the SGC. Daniel wasn't answering his phone. Feeling he had little choice Jack got up and grabbing his keys, walked out his door, closing it behind him.
He drove over to Daniel's apartment block and parked down the road. From where he parked, he could see Daniel's window high on the eighth floor, and to his great relief, the lights were on. He was about to drive away, knowing that Daniel was safe at home, but as he took one last glance he saw Daniel come out onto his balcony. For a moment he froze, memories of that balcony and Daniel, crowding in on him, but then he saw Daniel just standing, looking out over the city. Probably trying to forget the man he used to call friend, Jack thought sadly.
He watched a second longer then turned away and drove back home.
That night was torture for Jack. He'd made a terrible mistake opening himself up like that to Daniel. He'd pushed away the only person he had really let get close to him since his son died and his marriage crumbled. Why hadn't he kept his feelings to himself? Whatever possessed him to tell Daniel? The questions ran round and round in his mind poisoning his reason. He even went through a phase when he blamed Daniel. After all, if Daniel hadn't been so damned attractive, so damned considerate, so damned clever, so damned passionate, so damned everything drawing him like a moth to a flame, Jack would never have fallen for him. But that passed with the revelation that Daniel wasn't even aware of how perfect he was. No, the problem was all Jack's and he had to handle it himself.
And handle it he did. He came to a simple decision. He had allowed someone near, too near and now he was in pain because of it. The pain would not go, but he could handle pain, he'd had plenty of practice. But he wouldn't go looking for it. He would close the door and never allow anybody in again. He would even close the door to Daniel. Daniel had pulled away and it would be easier if he stayed away.
It hadn't been easy but he had pulled the cloak of indifference around himself and hidden behind it. He had been the perfect soldier, the perfect team leader.
The first day back after that fateful weekend had been difficult. Everyone tried to draw out the other Jack O'Neill, the one with the snarky remarks, the one with the snide one-liners, the one who acted dumb especially around scientists. But that Jack stayed hidden. Jack knew they were puzzled, even Daniel, who obviously knew what was behind the change in his attitude; he'd been grateful that when he and Daniel had first encountered each other Daniel had acted perfectly normally towards him. There was no sign of any nervous reaction, none of the panic Daniel had displayed at Jack's house that night. For all Daniel showed, the whole incident may never have happened, and that suited Jack perfectly.
But each day got more difficult. It was clear Carter was worried, but as a subordinate, she was in no position to question him. Teal'c tried to get him to attempt kel'no'reem, presumably thinking he had some personal problems, more accurate than he knew, of course, but not something Jack would ever admit. Teal'c watched carefully but did not attempt to push him any further. Even the General, who was clearly concerned, had no reason to reproach him; Colonel O'Neill was the perfect officer. General Hammond missed Jack.
Daniel was the one who really made it hard. He had obviously decided to put the whole debacle behind him and he seemed to want to revive their friendship. He tried on numerous occasions to get Jack to open up. Jack had stopped dropping into his office so Daniel dropped in on Jack. He invited Jack for lunch in the commissary, for coffee in his office where Daniel could make much better coffee than the commissary. He'd hinted at resuming their Friday nights of take-out and TV sports at Jack's house. He'd even suggested going to the Opera one Saturday night. Every time Jack had refused, politely but he still said no.
Daniel was clearly frustrated and somewhere at the back of his mind, Jack recognised that Daniel was hurting too. But that was not Jack's concern any longer.
Eventually, after a few weeks even Daniel had given up.
The missions had settled back into a routine but the team was no longer the happy little band, traipsing the universe. The banter that they had happily complained about for years was now sadly missed, but they managed to work together well enough to get the job done. The Colonel was still much more in evidence than Jack, but occasionally he would relax enough to stop patrolling; or threat assessing and just watch.
Sometimes he was sorely tempted when he was accompanying Daniel, to relax that inch too far and he had to pull himself up. That had happened again this morning he recalled now. He had sent Teal'c off with Carter to the foothills about three hours walk away from the structure that Daniel wanted to study. The Major had the usual soil samples to take, and Teal'c was always better at helping her with that task and that meant Jack could watch Daniel. He really did watch Daniel. He watched the way he walked, the way the muscles in his legs moved, the way his BDU's stretched when he leaned over to brush at something on the lower wall. He watched the way the sun caught his glasses as it hit just right, through a break in the wall. The way that same sunray turned the pale brown hair golden for a second.
Sorely tempted by that vision Jack had moved his position; there wasn't really any need to stand guard at the entrance. Other than the four of them, the place was deserted. The UAV had flown a thorough search pattern and other than this structure, there was nothing and no one. Secure in their safety Jack moved further into the structure and watched Daniel work.
Jack remembered all too clearly what happened. He could still feel the sensations and hear the sounds. He knew he would always remember them in his dreams for the rest of his life, those sounds, and those vibrations. They would haunt him.
Daniel had been so excited about one of the squiggles and turned around to say something. Jack stood up straighter, drawn by the light in Daniel's eyes. He tried to squash such reactions but he couldn't always do so. Jack stepped around the pedestal and leaned back against it, as he did so he felt something move under his left hand on the edge of the pedestal. There was a whoosh of air and whatever Daniel had been saying was cut off as he yelled, "NO!" and leapt forward. Jack was vaguely aware of movement over his head but he didn't have time to register what was happening, as suddenly he felt Daniel's hands pushing against his chest with enough force to propel him backwards. He lost his balance and tumbled to the floor with a thud, jarring his spine and hitting his head.
The next few seconds seemed to pass in slow motion. Daniel appeared frozen standing by the pedestal, his eyes, bluer and wider than usual locked onto Jack's. It was as if he was about to move toward Jack but that odd grinding noise grew in volume and the whole structure was vibrating. Daniel struggled to maintain his balance and at the same time he must have sensed something, for he began to raise an arm over his head. Then with a strange combination of slow motion and impossible speed, Daniel was lost from sight as the roof came down in huge slabs amidst clouds of dust and debris.
Jack made to move forward calling for Daniel when, with a tremendous noise and shaking, the walls opposite collapsed on top of the pile of debris.
Jack heard a terrible howling sound and only realised it was him when the noise stopped as he had to gasp for breath. He fell to his knees, dropping his head to rest on the filthy floor, his tears washing the dust away.
When he could finally think again his first thought was why? Why did he do that? Why did risk his life like that? Not for me, please god, someone tell me he didn't do that for me. No, no he didn't do it on purpose. That's Daniel, always putting others before himself.
Oh, god, that was Daniel. No, No, NO! Daniel, DANIEL! No, no, no ....
Jack finally came to himself enough to move. He looked at his watch and was shocked to see that only a few minutes had passed; it had seemed like a lifetime. He reached for his radio to try and contact Carter and Teal'c, but found it was damaged. Like the rest of his life. Not that it really mattered; nothing mattered any more. Except bringing Daniel home. There was no way he was going to leave him under there.
The others weren't due back for about another four hours but he would do what he could. He moved stiffly over to the pile of rubble and began digging.
Daniel sat against the wall exhausted. He'd been trying for a while to move the rubble blocking the entrance to his hole in the ground, literally, but he seemed to have made little progress. It was hard to tell because it was totally dark and he was trying to conserve what little power was left in his torch batteries, just flicking it on occasionally for a quick look.
At first he couldn't bear the total dark and had the light on before he realised his mistake. He still hated the feeling of hopelessness that flowed over him as he languished alone in the dark, feeling the walls closing in on him and the breath being sucked from his lungs, but at least he knew that light was still a possibility. He dreaded the time when the batteries would fade and he could no longer anticipate the gift of light. They always say you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
The same could be said of Jack, he thought morosely. The man had offered Daniel a gift; the gift of himself and Daniel had been too stunned, too overwhelmed by the offer, and even more overwhelmed by the feelings that it engendered in him so he had run; actually and figuratively. By the time Daniel acknowledged his own feelings and why he had reacted the way he did, it was too late. Jack had closed in on himself like the proverbial clam, hurt and maybe embarrassed at opening up like that, only to have it thrown back in his face.
Daniel could understand it and couldn't blame Jack for his reaction. Daniel had waited too long to tell Jack that he reciprocated the older man's declaration of love and desire and now the barriers were up. It was like seeing the man he had first met all those years ago when they travelled together to Abydos; the perfect tin-pot soldier, precise, efficient and oh so cold.
Sam and Teal'c had obviously noticed and asked him what had happened; did he know? He couldn't tell them and so he resorted to lying, knowing they would see through him; he didn't lie well especially not to those who knew him well. He just hoped they would understand.
He should have known better. They approached him one night and told him that; in Teal'c's words 'Your lies are very transparent DanielJackson' and in Sam's 'Spill it, Daniel'.
All he could tell them was the truth, that he did know but it was not his secret to divulge. They weren't happy but they understood enough not to press him.
That had been about two months ago; two months during which nothing had changed; no that wasn't true. For him at least it was worse. The eyes that had been opened by Jack couldn't be closed and Daniel's revelation was proving painful. He was paying the price for his over-reaction to Jack's declaration. He knew Jack was in pain too, but if only he would take down his walls, they could clear up this misunderstanding. Trouble was he had stung Jack and now he wasn't willing to risk it again. He was hurting too much to see Daniel's own revelation.
Not that Daniel hadn't tried to breach those walls; but like the good solider he was, Jack had bulwarks and a second line of defence. His intractability. Daniel had tried everything he could think of to break through. Dropped in on the man unexpectedly, invited him in, invited him out. Whatever he tried was greeted with a polite refusal.
On missions if ever Daniel tried to talk about anything other than work-related topics Jack would forestall him, 'I've decided it's best to keep my personal and work lives separate', or more recently just a raised hand and 'Ack, Daniel is this SGC related?' Yesterday he had actually left Daniel speechless with 'Dr. Jackson please return to your artefacts.'
Daniel never thought he would miss him so much; the snarky, irreverent, wisecracking dumb-ass Jack O'Neill. What he wouldn't give to get back the man he had come to realise he loved with every fibre of his being. He was desperate; he longed to tell Jack; to show Jack how much he cared. He found it hard to believe now that he had never understood his own feelings until Jack had made him face up to them.
This whole ridiculous situation probably contributed to his being trapped in this hellhole, and he probably would never get out. Once again it was too late. In a fit of anger, and yes, frustrated fear too, he promised himself that if he ever did get out he would tell him. Fuck it with telling him; I'm going to show him so he won't have any doubts. I'm going to kiss the shit out of him.
Daniel gave up trying to dig his way out; it was hopeless. The whole roof had come down at least and who knew how much else. He tried not to think about the possibility that Jack was lying hurt up there too. Or worse. He'd tried his radio when he first came to after falling through the floor with the pedestal. It was hit by a gigantic slab from above. It probably saved his life hitting the pedestal like that; he could never have survived otherwise.
Thinking of that brought his mind back to those few minutes before this disaster had befallen him. He'd deciphered a few of the glyphs; enough to know there was a specific purpose to the pedestal. Whatever it was, Jack had accidentally engaged the mechanism. The glyphs seemed to suggest that there was some kind of test involving the weight of truth. He didn't have enough time to work out what exactly but when he'd seen the movement under Jack's hand and felt that slight vibration, he knew that Jack had disturbed something. He'd spent enough time in temples and tombs both on Earth and out here to know it meant trouble, usually with a capital T.
He'd reacted instinctively when he'd thrown himself at Jack, but he was honest enough to admit that he'd have done exactly the same thing even if he'd had time to think. The idea of just standing there and watching Jack get hurt or more likely killed was impossible. He could, of course, imagine Jack's reaction to what he'd done. Strike that, he could imagine the reaction of the man Jack used to be. The Colonel, well that was different. He found that man much harder to read.
He remembered the instant frozen in time when his and Jack's eyes met and for that instant it was Jack looking back at him, not the Colonel. Daniel smiled at that, he could imagine Jack yelling at him, cursing him for his stupidity, and reminding him that he could look after himself, for crying out loud! Remembering that Jack also made Daniel realise that no matter how the older man now tried to hide it, Jack still cared for him and he would be beside himself up there amongst the rubble. It was practically impossible for Jack to have any idea he was still alive, trapped down in this hole.
No, let's be accurate here. This must be some sort of cellar or maybe an underground room. It could even be some part of the mechanism involved in whatever ceremony took place above. During the few sweeps of the torch he allowed himself, he'd noted that what he could see beyond the debris were actually portions of wall formed from close fitting slabs of rock. There could be any number of explanations for a room down here, but the main point was if it were a room then there had to be a way out. He just prayed it wasn't buried under all the rubble.
Jack worked mechanically, pulling chunks of debris out of the pile and making a new pile as far as he could throw it. He was exhausted, working only on adrenaline and guilt. He was swamped with guilt now and felt he deserved it.
He couldn't understand now what he'd been thinking for the past two months; or, in fact, if he'd been thinking at all. There was nothing else to do but think while he was working. He furiously pushed away the picture of the roof crashing down on Daniel and instead, his mind drifted back to the fateful day when he told Daniel how he felt and then on to his own behaviour when Daniel had run scared. Panicked and run. He'd wasted the last two months of Daniel's life, shoving the man away when all he wanted to do was take him in his arms.
Hindsight was wonderful. Why could he now see clearly that Daniel had regretted his impulsive reaction that night? Why could he now see that Daniel was trying to show Jack that he did care?
So he dug. It was all he could do now, find Daniel and take him home. Part of him knew he should have returned to the Stargate and asked for help. He'd probably have reached the Gate before Carter and Teal'c returned. He couldn't be absolutely certain when they would return but as he'd missed a check in with them they'd have begun the return journey immediately, though it would still take them some time to get back. If he went to the Gate he could get manpower and probably some technical assistance with the retrieval. Jack didn't want that, didn't want anyone disturbing things. No, it was his responsibility to bring Daniel home. The only help he would accept would be from Carter and Teal'c.
Daniel used the torch to reach one portion of the wall, clearly visible just to the right of the pile of debris that had fallen from above. He'd decided his starting point should be from as near to the debris as he could get and he would then follow the wall around by touch, hoping to find something. He also listened very carefully just in case there was someone looking for him. Jack, if he wasn't badly injured, or Sam and Teal'c though it might be too soon for them to have returned yet. He still doubted they would expect him to have survived, but he grinned as he remembered his reputation as the comeback kid; another notch to his bow. How many was that? Even he had lost count.
He moved slowly, keeping his left hand on the wall and his right hand out in front. His eyes had become a little used to the total dark but it just seemed more like a total charcoal now. He walked stiffly as his back was at least badly bruised, as was his right hip. He was grateful to have not been more badly injured considering the depth of his fall. He could not gauge it accurately, but when he panned his torch upwards the light was lost in a dusty haze, so it had to be a fair height. A couple of times he wondered if he had concussion because he had difficulty concentrating on one line of thought without drifting off onto another. However, he decided that considering what he had gone through, a certain lack of coherent thought was to be expected and as he didn't have a headache he guessed he was all right.
He kept walking but found nothing. No shelves, no alcoves, no wall hangings, no furniture lining the wall, and certainly no door. He wasn't sure how much farther he had to walk until he reached the pile of debris again, but he was fast beginning to panic. If the only way out was now buried under tons of rubble he would never get out, he really would die down here.
Wait, what's that? The texture of the wall changed. It was smoother, and the blocks felt smaller. He felt carefully, running his fingers along and he felt protuberances. He traced them with his fingertips. Needing to be sure he pulled out his precious torch; just a quick look. Yes! He was right. It was a panel divided into squares and in each square was a glyph. He shifted the torch to the right and he was so relieved when he saw the door inset into the wall, that he felt faint. He took a few deep breaths to get hold of himself and then moved to the door.
Oh, it couldn't be easy could it? No, of course not.
There was no door handle.
Jack had to stop; he was dizzy with exhaustion and he needed some water. He'd had some in his pack. Where the hell was his pack? Sorry Danny, won't be a moment. Can't keep digging if I don't get some water. Jack didn't bother to get to his feet, just dragged himself along the floor to where he could see the handle of a pack. When it was within reach he pulled it over and opened it. He grabbed the flask from inside and gulped down some water. As he moved to put the flask back on top of the pack he realised it was not his. It was Daniel's pack.
For a second Jack's hand froze on the flap before he shakily delved inside to gently touch the leather bound book; Daniel's journal. Jack's hand was still shaking as he reached to open the book. The flyleaf identified it as volume nineteen and Jack flipped the pages. It dropped open and Jack slowly read Daniel's precise writing. It was from a mission about four months earlier.
Jack was in a particularly irascible mood today, and it really wasn't a good day for me to want extra time in the cave, but I managed to get him to agree by flashing that smile I know gets him every time. He boasts he knows me so well and he does, but he never seems to realise that I know him just as well, and I know when it's safe to, as he would say, get round him. As a last resort I held the 'glance' in reserve.
"Daniel Jackson, you bastard!" Jack laughed softly, remembering that particular mission and how bored he'd been, till Daniel had persuaded him to help with the packing of the items he'd found so that he could carry on deciphering the strange markings. He actually enjoyed the work because Daniel had kept up a running commentary and they'd traded insults over the suitability of cave living. He remembered Daniel telling a crude joke about sex and cavemen that had seemed even funnier because it was Daniel telling it.
Jack glanced back down at the page.
Jack actually turned out to be quite a good assistant. Had to keep him entertained though or he might have ducked out on me. Told him that old joke about the stalagmite, don't know why he found it so funny that I know rude jokes. He always forgets that I'm an anthropologist too. I must know more jokes from more cultures than he ever could.
"Oh, Daniel, there was always so much more to you than I gave you credit for, wasn't there." Jack sighed, closing the journal. He didn't think Daniel would mind if he kept this one journal.
Jack slowly dragged himself back to the pile of debris and continued to pull out the smaller pieces of stone as he used his cap to scoop up piles of dust and smaller debris. He must have worked for about fifteen minutes when he uncovered the huge slab of stone. It was about ten centimetres thick and from the portion he could see, Jack reckoned it must have been about three metres square. There was no way he could move that on his own. He looked around for something to use as leverage but there was nothing long enough or thick enough. He would definitely need help.
He wondered where Carter and Teal'c were.
Daniel was frustrated. He'd finally found the door out of the hellhole and now he couldn't open the damn thing. Think, Daniel. Use that much vaunted brain of yours. He absently tapped his finger against the torch in his hand. He'd never been able to sit quietly; it used to annoy the hell out of Jack.
Jack. God I hope he is all right. No, don't drift, just concentrate. He was so damned tired he couldn't think straight. Perhaps he was also beginning to suffer from anoxia. He'd been down here for quite some time, and it was entirely possible the oxygen was running out.
Of course! The glyphs. He carefully felt all around the edges of the door; it wasn't much different in size and shape from any ordinary Earth door, perhaps slightly wider. The only other thing that he'd found anywhere, were the glyphs. He ran his hands over them again letting his fingers do their work. He'd long ago learned that his fingers could tell him almost as much as his eyes. The glyphs were convex, not concave which was rather unusual. However, it made them even easier to get a feel for.
He repeatedly traced each glyph trying to see it in his mind's eye, comparing each one with those he'd deciphered above in the pedestal room. He went back to the first one and traced it more slowly; yes he acknowledged it was the same. This one represented truth. He moved onto the second one and though it seemed familiar he couldn't quite bring that one to mind. He decided to come back to it and moved onto the third one, again moving his fingers slowly with his eyes tightly closed, recalling the scene in the room above. Unwittingly, his memory slipped back to how he felt at that moment and he vividly recalled being aware of Jack's eyes on him, boring into his back. He had longed to turn round but was afraid of what he might see if he did, so he'd concentrated on the drawings before him. He did so again now, concentrating on what his fingers were tracing. That's it. Faith, the third glyph represented faith.
He moved onto the fourth glyph, tracing carefully. This one was more complicated and was obviously a combination of two glyphs, he knew this; dammit, what was it? His fingers moved around, down across and then up, this was so familiar. What was it? Of course. Proof.
That left only one to translate; the second one. He should know it; there was a pattern to this if only he could bring it into focus. Truth, the missing glyph, faith and finally proof; his fingers moved back to the second glyph.
He had come to understand that this was no ordinary door mechanism, it was all part of a - test? Whatever that pedestal controlled, one couldn't leave this room unless one had learned something, something that enabled the right choice of sequence, or maybe just the one correct glyph to open this door. Presumably, you pressed the correct one and you got out; what would happen if you chose the incorrect one, well that was the question wasn't it?
Jack heard something. He stopped digging, waited for the debris to stop sliding and listened carefully. He could hear someone calling. For a breathless second Jack thought it was Daniel, before he reminded himself that was impossible. He forced himself to listen to the voice, the distant voice. It was Carter. At last they'd returned.
The voice came nearer. "Colonel, Daniel where are you? Colonel O'Neill?"
"O'Neill, DanielJackson!" the deep voice of Teal'c suddenly filled the air.
Jack called out and was shocked to hear his voice, hoarse and crackly. "In here."
Teal'c and Carter appeared in the large gap where the north wall had stood. They climbed up on the pile of rubble and surveyed the scene, horror and shock on Sam's face, disbelief and concern showing on the face of the normally stoic Jaffa They hurried forward when they saw the Colonel half-sprawled on the opposite edge of the huge pile of rubble.
"Sir, are you all right?" Sam glanced around quickly, "Where's Daniel?"
Jack's face said more than words ever could. "No!" Sam said jumping off the pile to land at Jack's side.
Teal'c jumped down gracefully turning to Jack. "O'Neill, what happened here?"
"I...I don't know exactly. I was standing in the middle of the room near some sort of high altar and D...Daniel was over by that... where that wall used to be," he said, pointing in the general direction of the north wall. "He turned to tell me something, he was so excited, then suddenly he shouted something and leapt at me knocking me out of the way. Then.... Then it all came down, the roof and then the walls." Jack looked up, eyes bleak and lost, "he's under here somewhere."
Sam looked at him and then over at the pile of rubble. She didn't need to say it. She glanced up at Teal'c, the message in her eyes clear to him. The Colonel was in shock. Daniel had saved him at the cost of his own life. Even the seemingly invulnerable Daniel Jackson couldn't have survived this time; and it could destroy the Colonel. Anyone who knew him, really knew him, understood how close he and Daniel were; had been. The recent estrangement couldn't hide the fact that there was an undeniable link between the two men that even their own dissent could not break.
"O'Neill, when did this occur?"
"About three hours ago, I think." Jack answered slowly.
"Three hours! Sir, did you go for help? I mean I understand you couldn't contact us, but you could've gone to the Gate for help."
"No, I had to do it. Danny is my responsibility. I have to take him home. You can help now you've come." Jack sounded distracted.
"Don't want to disturb him. It's not fair, he should at least rest in peace now, don'tcha think?"
Sam felt the tears slide down her cheeks and her breath hitched in her chest. She looked at Teal'c who was sombrely watching Jack.
"I understand your desires O'Neill, but would it not be better to retrieve DanielJackson as quickly as possible so we may return home with him?"
Jack didn't answer just brushed his hand absently through his hair as he rocked backwards and forwards. "I've been trying to find a way to move this fucking slab," he said angrily, "but I can't find anything to use as a lever. Perhaps we can manage it together. Come on Carter, you're the smart one. Any suggestions?"
"Why don't you just carry on for now and I talk it over with Teal'c, see if we can't come up with something."
Jack nodded absently and carried on working, carefully moving pieces of debris.
Sam and Teal'c moved away slightly so they could talk quietly. "I've never seen him like this Teal'c, he's ..." she hesitated, took a breath and continued, "He's lost it. Whatever happened here was just too much for him." She shook her head in puzzlement. He had been through so much; this must have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
"I believe it has much to do with his unresolved relationship with DanielJackson." Teal'c remarked carefully.
"The bottom line is that the Colonel is obviously in deep shock, for all we know he's hurt. He did say that Daniel knocked him out of the way. Maybe he even has concussion. We've got to get him back to Janet and soon." She glanced again at the Colonel who hadn't moved. "And whether he likes it or not we need help to recover Daniel," she added softly.
Daniel resorted to one quick flick on of the torch while he took a good look at the glyph just to ensure that he really did have the correct shape in his mind's eye. As he studied it he saw his error. One small line crossed another, as did a diagonal. Where they crossed the short line was lost amongst the others and that hadn't properly registered when he had traced it with his fingers. He quickly flicked off the torch and thought about this different shape. A short time later he knew he had it. It also fit in perfectly with the other words; this glyph meant belief.
So now he had truth, belief, faith and proof. Now he had to work out what to do next. It could be that he needed to choose just one glyph, or a sequence or maybe a combination. The problem arose around what would happen if he chose the wrong one. Would the door simply stay closed or would there be some kind of retribution for the error? He decided the odds were it would just stay closed. After all, you were still trapped in this room. If the punishment for failure was death it would not be a pleasant way to go.
What the hell, either way I'm dead.
He considered the problem carefully in case he only got the one chance. Even if the door merely stayed closed it was unlikely he would be able to keep on trying; that would be too easy. That way the correct glyph could be hit by chance. No, it was more likely he'd have one chance only.
Truth, belief, faith, proof; the words repeated in his mind like a mantra. What was the answer? Was it a riddle, or simple deduction? He was sure the answer lay in the purpose of the pedestal room above. How can I deduce the right answer if I don't even know the question?
He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his face. Then he remembered the words he'd turned to repeat to Jack but had never had chance to say; the weight of truth. That was it, of course, the point of the pedestal room; to make the supplicant face the truth, however painful it might be.
Carter reluctantly headed out towards the Stargate. She would've liked to bring the Colonel with her but he flatly refused to leave and being her superior officer, there was no way she could force him. Teal'c had suggested that he stay with O'Neill and that she return to the Gate to request help. She had little choice, having no wish to refuse Teal'c's request to stay and help.
She turned back; the remains of the huge structure on the ridge filled the landscape. Funny, she thought, it hadn't seemed that big when I first saw it. Now in ruins it looked even larger. She shrugged and continued on.
Teal'c watched MajorCarter head out, knowing she was not happy with leaving the Colonel behind, but he knew that O'Neill was unable to leave while the man he cared so much about was missing.
Teal'c had no illusions about the real situation between the two men, he had watched them for a long time and often wondered when one or both of them would finally acknowledge the truth from which they were both hiding; even though DanielJackson had never admitted the truth to them when they pressed him for an answer, saying it was O'Neill's secret, Teal'c had understood at least some of what must have happened. He had watched unhappily as things had gone so terribly wrong but he knew that nothing he, or anyone else, could say, would change things. DanielJackson was doing everything he knew how to bridge the gap, but until O'Neill accepted at least DanielJackson's friendship again, neither man would be content. He was still unsure how much DanielJackson was really offering to O'Neill, as undoubtedly was O'Neill himself. In fact, he wondered if even DanielJackson knew the answer to that question.
Obviously, O'Neill believed he would never again get any kind of answer from his one-time best friend, but Teal'c would not believe that he was really gone until he saw the body. DanielJackson had beaten the odds on more occasions than would normally be thought humanly possible. Teal'c would need proof.
He turned from his musings and moved to help O'Neill. There was little they could do except move the debris by hand until MajorCarter returned with help.
If it helped O'Neill to keep trying; then help he would receive.
Daniel had come to a decision. He just hoped he was right. He was so tired, thirsty and hungry that he couldn't be sure of anything anymore. He would have to go on trust. He smiled at that, almost surprised that it wasn't one of the glyphs, it fit the pattern so aptly. He'd decided that proof was definitely incorrect. Of the other words, truth led to belief and belief of truth without proof was faith. Proof negated the whole point of faith. God, when I first worked that out it was so obvious, now I'm just confused. No time to second guess, I've got to get out of here. He was going dizzy and he wondered again about the lack of oxygen.
Right, okay, don't want proof. Faith, that's the one. Why? Dammit can't remember why. I just know it's the solution. Press it.
Shakily his hand reached out and pressed the glyph. There was a whisper of sound and the door began to move slowly into the wall on the right hand side. As soon as it was wide enough Daniel slipped through. He found himself in a long narrow, dark passageway. He was grateful he still had the torch as he moved cautiously forward.
He aimed the torch down the centre of the passageway, intending to get an idea of his surroundings in his mind before turning off the torch. However, not too far distant he saw the beginning of a flight of steps going up. He hurried forward almost stumbling in his haste, due to his weakened condition.
He took a breath to calm himself and slowly climbed the stairs. As he climbed he gradually came to realise the light was increasing gradually. He switched off the torch and though it was still pretty dark compared to where he had been it was wonderful. He quickened his step, trusting that at last he was going to be free.
It still took longer than he had expected to finally reach the top of the steps. He had needed to rest at one stage, his legs becoming shaky at the exertion. He climbed again, a little slower to conserve what little energy he had left. He paused when he thought he saw light, real light ahead as if someone had just opened a door. He finally reached the opening, for that was all it was, a square opening at the head of the stairs.
He walked cautiously towards the opening not knowing where he was and what he might find. Wherever he had emerged it couldn't possibly be anywhere near the pedestal room, the whole structure must have come down, or at least most of it. That thought brought back to him the danger that Jack had been in and he hoped that he was all right, wherever he was. Daniel wondered if there had been enough time for Sam and Teal'c to have returned yet from their trip and to have taken Jack back through the Gate. Even as he thought that he realised that if Jack and the others had gone then he no longer had a GDO. His had been in his pack that had been in the pedestal room and the odds of that surviving would be remote he guessed.
First things first, he needed to see where he was and then plan accordingly.
He moved out into the light and had to squint against the brightness after being in the dark for so long. He raised a hand to shield his eyes as he carefully opened them. At first he couldn't see anything; it was all just a too-bright glare. He waited as his eyes adjusted and he saw he really was outside. He could see for miles, a great vista lay out before him. The long grass waving in the slight breeze, the great trees shading the valley below through which the river meandered gently, and there just off to the left stood the great stone ring. The Stargate.
Daniel took another step forward and then swung to look behind him at the hill he knew must rise above him. As he looked he realised that he was actually standing about half way up and there was the ridge above him. And atop the ridge was the huge structure. He'd pondered for days what exactly the structure had originally been for it was so huge. It could have been a palace, a temple, a barracks, or some sort of official building like a town hall, civic centre or even a library. Even now he was not really sure what it was. Over the last couple of days they had searched many rooms and found little in the way of writings, the pedestal room had been a major find and while it did have religious connotations it wasn't enough for Daniel to categorically decide it was a temple.
Now he would probably never know. Even from his vantage point below he could see the tremendous damage to this side of the structure. Daniel felt as if a hand clutched at his heart as he contemplated Jack's fate. He wanted to hurry up the hill but he was afraid of what he might find; afraid Jack might be alone up there, hurt and grieving.
"O'Neill, you cannot continue in this manner. You are exhausted. Even with my assistance we cannot raise the slab, and there are most likely others beneath this one. We must wait until help arrives from the SGC."
"No, I can't abandon him. I did that once, I see that now." Jack's voice was gruff; "it was difficult enough when I was forced to leave him when we were on a mission. I never forgave myself for leaving him on Apophis' ship you know." Teal'c raised an eyebrow at that admission, but kept silent. "But this was different; I just turned my back on him when all he wanted was to remain my friend. I was afraid."
"Afraid? Of what were you afraid?" the deep voice uncharacteristically quiet.
"Myself." Jack whispered.
"I see," and he did. Teal'c had much more emotional experience than his demeanour would suggest. He understood the fear of commitment only too well; particularly in the circumstances which confronted a military man such as O'Neill. He also expected that O'Neill had never experienced such feelings before. He was unaware of the experience, or otherwise, in such matters of DanielJackson, but judging from the recent estrangement and attempted reconciliation it was possible that any approach from O'Neill had been received badly by DanielJackson. Then in turn O'Neill had reacted badly. In his own words, he had abandoned DanielJackson.
"Stop now. Rest. We will recover DanielJackson," Teal'c would not mention his own feelings of restrained hope to O'Neill as he would once have done. The man was not in a fit mental state. "You need not fear that the employment of technology would result in DanielJackson not receiving the respect he is due." Teal'c almost lifted Jack and helped him move to the far side of what was left of the room. "I will retrieve some water for you." Teal'c remarked moving off to retrieve his pack.
As Daniel approached the ridge he saw that most of the roof was gone and a large portion of the walls, but it was clear that the rear half of the room was still standing. He quickened his pace; he'd shoved Jack in that direction from the pedestal in the centre of the room. Perhaps Jack was safe after all, though he could still be hurt.
As he reached the rubble that was all that remained of the collapsed wall he heard voices; voices he recognised. Jack and Teal'c. Relief swept over him and he opened his mouth to shout a greeting, when he overhead what Jack was saying. For a moment he hardly recognised it as Jack for the pain in his voice, 'this was different; I just turned my back on him when all he wanted was to remain my friend. I was afraid.' Daniel froze and couldn't help listening. 'Afraid? Of what were you afraid?' Teal'c queried, and Daniel shivered when Jack replied in a forlorn voice 'myself'.
He slowly climbed over the rubble, delighted that Jack was alive and clearly not too seriously hurt, but afraid of what may have happened to his spirit. Daniel had inadvertently hurt the man he loved far more than he had realised and he couldn't seem to find a way to make up for it. As he was almost at the top he heard Teal'c still talking trying to convince Jack to rest while help arrived. Help that apparently was meant to retrieve his body. That must be where Sam had gone, for help.
Daniel topped the pile of rubble and stood looking into the remains of the room. Jack was huddled in one corner; head down on his chest, his arms wrapped around him, in a posture that reminded Daniel of himself. Teal'c was sitting on his haunches off to one side searching through his pack, when he abruptly straightened his back and kept perfectly still. Then he slowly rose to his feet in a fluid motion turning as he straightened. He looked at Daniel, who was surprised to realise that Teal'c was not surprised to see him. Teal'c held Daniel's eyes for a moment before swiftly flicking his eyes over Daniel's body noting the obvious bruising, lacerations and torn clothing, before flicking his eyes in Jack's direction.
Daniel followed Teal'c eyes and understood what Teal'c was trying to say. He nodded to Teal'c and moved forward slowly and carefully, knowing he had to be careful how he approached Jack in his unstable condition.
When he was only about a metre away some sixth sense must have invaded Jack's consciousness for he lifted his head and looked straight at Daniel. Daniel reacted with a simple smile to which Jack responded by jumping to his feet and staggering back against the wall, eyes wide and his face white with shock. "I...I...I'm sorry, it wasn't supposed to be like.... "
"Jack, it's all right..."
"No, no it isn't. You shouldn't have died. I should've protected you; you shouldn't have done that for me. I'm so sorry." Jack closed his eyes tears sliding down his face, as he leaned his head back against the wall.
"Jack, listen to me. Look at me. Jack!" Jack's eyes snapped open and he stood up from the wall, automatically reacting to the yell. "Jack, I'm alive."
"Alive?" Jack still didn't seem to quite believe it. He moved forward stiffly until he was face to face with Daniel. He looked at him and shakily lifted a hand to touch his cheek. As soon as he made contact he threw his arms around Daniel and pulled him into a hug so tight that Daniel thought his ribs would break.
Teal'c had never moved from his spot over by the other wall and simply watched quietly with an enigmatic expression.
"Daniel, Daniel, Daniel." It seemed to be all Jack could say, over and over, and Daniel just stood there letting it all wash over him, revelling in the touch of his friend, the touch he thought was lost to him.
Jack could hardly believe it. Daniel was here, alive, in his arms. He didn't understand how, he didn't care how; all that mattered was that Daniel was here - In his arms. It felt wonderful just to be able to feel his solid warmth, feel his heart beating against Jack's own, and feel Daniel's breath ghosting past his ear as he murmured comfort. Jack knew he too was murmuring nonsense to Daniel but the words he really wanted to say were locked in his heart, walled up with fear and loss. He knew he would be able to release them soon when the time and place were right. He could do it now; he had faced his greatest fear when he believed he had lost Daniel and everything else paled into insignificance.
Daniel loosened his grip and Jack pulled back to look into his eyes. Daniel smiled at Jack and he gave a watery smile back.
"It would be best if we all returned to the SGC with all possible haste, O'Neill. DanielJackson is injured as I believe are you."
"I'm fine." Daniel replied quickly.
"Of course, you are," Jack replied, surprised that his voice sounded so normal again. "You almost died, again, and as usual you're fine."
"No less fine than you, Jack. That was quite a crack you took."
"Crack?" Jack was puzzled.
"When I knocked you away, you hit your head as you fell. That's the last thing I remember before falling through." He explained how part of the roof had slammed into the pedestal taking it, and him, into the underground room.
"Wonder how many of your nine lives you've got left now, Daniel."
"About the same number as you Jack," he replied with a grin.
"Sure," Jack smiled wryly, "but I think Teal'c is right. We should both get checked out. You took quite a fall and though you feel...fine, I think we ought to let Janet take a look at us."
Daniel nodded, grinning as they moved out to Jack grumbling, "Oh, yeah I'm so looking forward to tests, scans and needles, and more tests, scans and needles ..."
Jack thought he heard voices, distant as if through water. He realised he heard other sounds, familiar sounds. Oh not again, what happened this time? He couldn't remember. What disaster had resulted in him being in the infirmary yet again? He tried to recall but the last clear memory he had was of watching Daniel in the.... Daniel? Pain flared through his chest as he remembered the roof crashing down, on Daniel.
Then he heard the voice, "Now, Daniel it's no use arguing with me, you can get out of that bed when I say and not before."
Janet Fraiser talking to Daniel. Jack opened his eyes and blinked against the harsh light, turning his head to the sound of the voice. "I know you're concerned for the Colonel but he'll be fine. You know he's got concussion, he'll wake shortly," she continued.
"Doc?" Jack croaked.
"Jack!" Daniel exclaimed sitting up and peering round the doctor as she turned from his bed.
"Ah, there you are Colonel, about time you woke up." She gave him some ice chips as he managed to look past her and see Daniel lying in the next bed, smiling at him, blue eye sparkling. "How do you feel?" When he didn't answer she repeated the question, slightly more concerned, and added. "What is your name?"
Jack dragged his attention back to the Doc. "I'm all right. I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill, you're Doc. Fraiser, and that," he added with a grin, "is Daniel Jackson who I am pleased to see is, as usual, fine."
"Yes, well I'll be the judge of that. When Teal'c and Sam found you, both of you were unconscious with no apparent reason. They didn't know how long you had been unconscious for and they were unable to wake either of you. I discovered you had concussion but I still don't know what happened to Daniel."
"What are you talking about? When they found us? No injuries? What about the collapse, Daniel being trapped underground? I was exhausted from digging but I certainly wasn't unconscious." Jack was trying to sit up but Fraiser pushed him back down.
"See, I told you. They wouldn't believe me Jack, said it must be concussion." Daniel said, with a touch of satisfaction.
Fraiser stood between the two beds and looked from one to the other in confusion.
"Let me get this straight. You both say the building collapsed, Daniel was trapped underground. Colonel, you tried to dig him out but he found his own way out." They both nodded. "So how did you get back here?"
"Before Daniel got out, Teal'c and Carter found me. Carter went for help while Teal'c helped me dig. Daniel..." Jack's voice faltered as he remembered the shock of Daniel's sudden appearance. "I'd thought Daniel was dead under the rubble and it was a bit of shock when he climbed into that room." He glanced over at Daniel and gave a wan smile.
Daniel held his gaze before he continued. "We gathered our stuff and walked back to the Gate, Sam was in the process of getting the supplies organised."
"So you walked back through?"
Jack frowned and glanced over at Daniel, "I don't seem to remember actually coming through. I...I stood on the steps of the Gate, I looked towards the ridge where the structure stood and..."
"And?" Doc Fraiser prodded.
"I don't know." Jack looked mystified. "Daniel?"
"I remember walking over to the DHD and dialling but that's all. I don't remember walking through."
"That's because you didn't. You were both carried back, unconscious, about six hours ago."
Hammond was not a happy man. He didn't like puzzles, especially puzzles that involved SG1. He had just spent thirty minutes with Major Carter and Teal'c taking a preliminary debrief. From their point of view it had been a fairly innocuous mission. They'd gone through the Gate and, of necessity; the Colonel had split the team. Carter and Teal'c had gone to collect the soil and ore samples while the Colonel and Dr Jackson had gone to investigate the structure. Dr Jackson hadn't been happy that he had not been allotted more time for his investigation but they were due to ship out again in thirty-six hours to celebrate the successful negotiations in PX4 766 and they were only allowed twelve hours for this mission.
Hammond had been slightly surprised at the division of team, considering the recent problems between O'Neill and Jackson. However, O'Neill was nothing if not the consummate officer and if that had been the best solution in their limited time then he would have taken it.
Carter reported that she and Teal'c had carried out their mission and begun their return journey to the structure. The Colonel had missed a check-in with them so they had attempted contact but had not been able to raise either the Colonel or Dr. Jackson. They had then doubled their pace and returned to the structure as soon as they were able.
They searched the rooms and finally found both men lying virtually in each others arms, unconscious, in the central room. There was no apparent cause for their condition but they were unable to awaken them.
They had requested help from the SGC and both men had been carried back and taken to the Infirmary.
The report was of little help beyond the obvious fact that they had no idea what had happened. Dr. Fraiser had reported that the Colonel did have a minor injury to the back of his skull and some bruising on his back. She diagnosed a minor concussion. Dr. Jackson had no sign of injury and had in fact regained consciousness about forty-five minutes earlier. Apparently he had a different version of events from the other half of SG1 but Hammond had decided to wait for the Colonel to return to consciousness before he discussed the situation with the good doctor. Dr. Fraiser was of the opinion that he should awaken soon, in normal circumstances. Whatever the hell that meant in this place.
Just then his telephone rang. "Sir," Dr. Fraiser said briskly, "the Colonel is awake. His story corroborates Daniel's."
"I see. You already reported that Dr. Jackson's condition was stable, how is the Colonel?"
"He says he feels fine, not even a headache. He does have quite a bit of bruising to his back but he says he's had worse in the gym." Hammond smiled at the asperity in the doctor's voice; he could just imagine how O'Neill had imparted that bit of information.
"Are they fit to be released to attend a briefing?"
"Ask them to report to the briefing room in thirty minutes please, doctor."
Hammond entered the briefing room to find SG1 already gathered around the coffee pot. The General smiled as he watched Daniel refill his mug, Jack shook his head remarking, "Daniel, Daniel you're already jittery enough."
"That's not from the coffee, that's from listening to you ragging Janet," Daniel replied with a grin.
Hammond was interested to note the more relaxed attitude between the two men; it was almost as if the clock had gone back three months.
Jack noted Hammond's presence and moved down the room to take his seat at the table. Daniel followed and sat next to him, another reminder of better times. Carter and Teal'c sat opposite.
"Well," Hammond began, "we have an unusual situation here in that each pair of you has a different conception of your last mission. You each know what the others reported. Does anyone have any conclusions?"
Carter spoke up first, "Only that there were no emissions on that planet, other than the trace of naquada there were no readings at all. The ore I collected was low grade and not particularly abundant. I wouldn't even recommend that the planet would be worth mining, sir."
"So that brings us back to the structure." Hammond turned his attention to Jack and Daniel.
Jack shrugged, "I can't tell you much more than you already know. We worked our way through the various rooms, most of them pretty boring, ending up in that central room where there was some kind of altar. I watched Daniel make notes of the squiggles there, Daniel turned to tell me something, I moved and I placed my hand on the altar thingy." He glanced over at Daniel giving the archaeologist a lop-sided grin. "For once it wasn't something Daniel touched that he shouldn't have. All hell breaks loose, Daniel shoves me outta the way and the roof caves, then the walls." Jack's head dropped, he couldn't meet Daniel's eyes and say this; it still hurt too much. "I believed Daniel had died. There was just so much ... it all came crashing down, there was no way he could've survived that. Not even Daniel," he added with a touch of irony.
Daniel swallowed, affected by Jack's obvious distress at the memory. He remembered how he'd felt trapped in that room wondering what had happened to Jack. At least he'd had hope, he believed that Jack was alive, possibly hurt but he'd never really believed he was dead. Jack had no such luxury, he'd been certain that Daniel was dead.
Daniel came back to the present as Jack went on, "... and I don't know how long I dug for but I was exhausted when Teal'c and Carter arrived. I gotta admit I was pretty much of an emotional wreck by then. Carter was annoyed that I hadn't gone for help."
"Why had you not done so?" Teal'c spoke for the first time.
"I had this need to..." he hesitated glancing over at Daniel again, and gave a rueful grin, "seems a bit weird now in the light of day, but at the time it was essential that I bring Daniel home without help from anyone else, outside of SG1 that is."
Daniel understood what Jack wasn't, couldn't, say in this company. Daniel met Jack's gaze trying to show his understanding. Hammond interrupted his train of thought.
"And you, Dr. Jackson, does your recollection differ at all from the Colonel's up until the time you fell through when the roof collapsed?"
"No, sir. I saw Jack accidentally depress the ...lever and I realised the danger."
"How?" Hammond queried.
"How did you recognise the danger?"
"I...I don't know, I just did. I knew I had to get Jack away from the pedestal." Daniel frowned realising that he'd never questioned that fact; it had never even occurred to him to do so. He shook his head, trying to clear the confusion that was settling there. "I must have been knocked out for a few minutes because when I came to, it was quiet and the dust had settled."
"Did you have an allergy attack?" the General queried.
"No, I didn't." That was something else that he'd never questioned. "I tried to dig my way out but soon realised that would be impossible, so I felt my way around looking for an exit. It seemed obvious, after a little thought that I had fallen through to an underground room so there should be an exit."
"Did you say 'felt your way'?" Sam asked.
"Yes, I was in total darkness. I had my torch but I didn't know how long I would be down there for, or how long my batteries would last so I had to conserve them. I felt around and finally found a door. There were some glyphs by the door that I worked out were a test of some kind to exit. I thought the whole procedure was leading to gaining exit from that room. I deciphered the glyphs, deduced the correct one to press and climbed out ...the back way, I suppose."
"You make it sound so easy," Sam commented.
"Do I? It didn't seem that way at the time. Took quite a while to work out, in fact I think I was running out of air. Couldn't seem to think straight. Wasn't even sure that I had the correct answer, but seeing as the alternative was to die down there I took the risk."
"What was the correct answer DanielJackson?"
"Faith," he replied quietly.
Jack drove down the mountain wondering if he should have waited for Daniel. After the briefing had finally wound down, when it became clear that whatever had happened to them on that planet was likely to remain a mystery, Daniel had headed off to his office. Apparently he wanted to get his report down on paper as soon as he could. Jack almost followed him thinking that was only an excuse because Daniel didn't want to talk to him, but he decided that was just being paranoid. There was no reason why Daniel would want to avoid him, in fact probably the opposite. Jack had this feeling all through the briefing that Daniel was keeping things back. He kept glancing at Jack over his glasses, making Jack wonder if someone had turned up the heat. One time he took his glasses off to rub a hand over his eyes and he glanced at Jack from under his eyelashes and Jack felt sure that every single one of his blood cells headed south, he felt so light-headed. God, I have to control this. Can't let it control me.
He had tried to concentrate on what Daniel was saying, explaining all that he had gone through to get out of that room but he found his mind kept wandering until it was only the sound of Daniel's voice he listened to. He was just so happy to know that he would still be able to sit here at this table and be bored by having to listen to Daniel's presentations. He understood enough to know that Daniel had realised he needed faith to escape. Faith in what? It didn't really matter; all that mattered was they were both here, safe, alive. He didn't even care if it was all a lesson, as Daniel seemed to think, or just a dream; he felt like he had awakened from a nightmare.
Eventually, Jack decided it would probably be best if he headed home. Hammond was in no rush for his report, said to have it in by Monday, and as it was Friday the General told them not to report in again until Monday morning. Jack planned to go home, get himself under control, shower, eat and try to rest. Watch some TV or maybe listen to some music. Tomorrow he was going to see Daniel and get things sorted, once and for all. He wanted his friend back.
Daniel felt better now that he had it all down on paper. He needed to get it out of his head, clear the decks, he thought with a laugh. Jack would be insulted by that - what the hell, Danny; we're not in the damned Navy.
Jack? Now he could go and see Jack. He wasn't sure he wanted to discuss this on base though. He was sure he could persuade Jack to go with him to his apartment or even Jack's place. He picked up the phone and rang Jack's office. No reply. He frowned. He glanced up at the clock and was shocked to find out it was after nine. Well that explained that, Jack would've gone home hours ago, especially as the General had given them all down time. He picked up the receiver again, intending to ring Jack at home but stopped mid-dial. Instead he replaced the receiver, grabbed his bag and jacket and headed out.
Jack felt better, not great, but better. He'd been unable to watch TV; even sports couldn't engage his interest this night. He put on some music; let it fill the silence in his empty house. He still felt unsettled, but knew that wouldn't change until he'd seen Daniel. He'd debated ringing to see if he was home yet but decided that this was something he needed to do face-to-face and if he rang Daniel and he was home, the man would start asking questions. He always did, he was just plain curious, about anything and everything. He had this inbuilt need to question.
Jack smiled at the idea, wondering what sort of questions he would ask between the sheets. Would he ask if Jack liked to kiss? If he liked being sucked off? Would he ask in that polite way of his, or would he use crude words? What would it be like if he spoke in another language? Would he do that as he climaxed, screaming out in another language? Or would he scream out Jack's name as he came. Oh, god I'm hard just thinking about that. Daniel Jackson screaming my name as I thrust into him....Oh god.
Here I am fantasising about sex with Daniel. It's hardly new though is it? I've been jerking off to fantasies of Danny for so long I already think I know what he would look like as he climaxed in my arms.
The sudden knock at the door disturbed his reverie and he got to his feet reluctantly, and not a little uncomfortably. Damnation, what a time for a caller. Who the hell could this be? Shit, it's probably one of the neighbours complaining about the music being too loud.
He opened the door irritably, and was stunned to see Daniel standing there, with a hesitant grin on his face. At least the shock put paid to his erection. He hardly wanted Daniel to see him in such a state; wouldn't exactly help his argument.
"Hi, Jack, erm, sorry it's a bit late but I didn't think you'd mind. I think we need to talk." He made it sound like a question.
Jack's heart was beating fast, this was what he wanted but now he was afraid. "Yeah, sure come on in."
Jack led the way through to the sitting room. "D'ya want a beer or something?"
"Yeah, beer would be fine." He didn't really like beer but he felt he might need the assistance of the alcohol. It was all right having this conversation in your head, quite another having it with Jack. "I, er thought we should talk about what we ...I didn't put in the report."
Jack came back from the kitchen carrying the two beers, he placed Daniel's down on the coffee table in front of him and took a swig from his own before answering, "I didn't exactly turn in a full report either."
Daniel raised his eyebrows waiting. If Jack wanted to open up he certainly wasn't going to stop him, but either way they were going to talk about this.
Jack took another long swig. "I still don't really know what happened back there, but I do know I'm glad it happened."
"What?" Daniel asked, whatever he'd expected, it wasn't that.
"Yeah." Jack confirmed moving to sit in the chair opposite Daniel. For a moment Jack looked at the bottle in his hands before raising his eyes and Daniel sucked in his breath at the depth of emotion he saw there. "It was hard Daniel, damned hard to face what my life would be like without you but it made me realise I had been so close to already living it. I had shut you out so completely that my life was already empty; I was just going through the motions. I was dead inside and it took the fear of thinking that you had died to make me realise it."
Daniel made as if to speak and Jack stopped him. "Please just let me say this first. I'm not sure how you feel about me anymore but if you still want to be my friend I would really appreciate that. I know I...I said too much before, and while I can't, I won't, take that back, I can control it, and I'll never mention it again. Your friendship is more important to me than anything Daniel. I want, I need that back."
Daniel sat forward on the sofa and smiled gently. "You never lost it Jack. I may have stopped thrusting it in your face but it was always there. I'm the one who wants you back, Jack." Jack closed his eyes for a moment in relief.
"You can mention it again too, if you still want," Daniel said softly.
Jack's head snapped up at that. "What?"
Daniel stood and moved over in front of Jack. "You said that the experience had made you realise what you wanted, you needed? Well that's what happened to me too. It showed me I needed faith. Faith in what I want, what I need, what we have. Trust, friendship ...love."
Jack stood to face Daniel, his mind racing, and his blood pulsing. "Love?"
Daniel grabbed Jack by the shoulders and pulled him close, "Love," he answered as he closed the gap and pressed his mouth to Jack's. This was no soft kiss, this was hard and possessive and Daniel's tongue pushed at Jack to open, which he did so willingly. Daniel's tongue sought to touch and taste every surface in Jack's mouth and the older man moaned his appreciation.
When they finally broke apart to draw in air, Daniel gasped, "I promised myself if ever I got out of the damned room I'd kiss the shit out of you. I keep my promises." He leaned back in for another kiss, but this time he was met half way and Jack took his mouth and Daniel let him explore. His heart was pounding in his chest and his nerves felt like they wanted to jump out of his skin.
Jack pulled back and for a moment Daniel felt abandoned, till he felt Jack's lips suckling on his neck as his hand pulled Daniel's collar out of the way. Daniel arched his neck to give Jack better access as he pulled at Jack's shirt lifting it from his jeans. He slid his hands inside and up over Jack's back, pulling the man closer until he could feel Jack's erection pressing against his hip. Jack moved his lips lower into the hollow at the base of Daniel's throat and Daniel moaned at the exquisite feeling. Jack's hands were busy undoing Daniel's shirt and when he had difficulty with one of the buttons he snarled and yanked at it until the shirt tore. Daniel laughed at the other man's impatience and Jack pulled back to look at his face.
What he saw shot straight to his groin. He had dreamed of Daniel in his arms but he had never imagined him like this. Face flushed with excitement, eyes gleaming almost black with passion and a smile on his lips that was almost feral. Any doubts he could have had that Daniel wanted him, flew away into the night.
"You want more of an invitation?" Daniel asked huskily.
In answer Jack swooped and took one of Daniel's nipples in his teeth and Daniel gasped digging his nails into Jack's back. He dragged his hands down until he reached Jack's jeans and he slid one hand inside and over his ass. He squeezed and kneaded the firm muscle and Jack moaned his desire, the puffs of air brushing over Daniel's nipple making him moan in return.
Jack wanted Daniel beneath him and he turned the man in his arms and manoeuvred him back to the sofa. As Daniel felt the edge of sofa behind him he laughed as Jack pushed him down, holding on and bringing Jack with him. Jack laughed too, getting Daniel just where he wanted him. He returned his attention to Daniel's mouth and took him in a bruising kiss, tongues duelling, and neither man caring who won.
"Too many clothes, Danny," Jack said hoarsely, tugging at the buckle of Daniel's belt.
"Yeah, I noticed," replied Daniel, his hands going to the button of Jack's jeans. In a flurry of hands, squirming and lifted bodies both men were soon naked; Jack sprawled over Daniel on the sofa.
Jack seemed in less of a rush now as he slowed his movements to trace the contours of Daniel's body, his lips following his hands down the younger man's chest to his stomach. Daniel arched beneath him as Jack licked and nipped around his navel as his hands moved to caress the Daniel's hips. Daniel's fingers found their way into Jack's hair, revelling in the soft texture.
Daniel leaned up to reach for Jack's back just as the older man rose from the enjoyment of Daniel's stomach and began to lick down to his groin. Daniel's hand stilled for a moment as he watched, the sight of Jack O'Neill's head hovering over his cock was a wonder to behold. He shivered at the idea that Jack might swallow him whole and as if he had read Daniel's mind, Jack swooped and licked the tip of his penis. Daniel bucked and yelled "Jack!" before collapsing back on the sofa gasping as Jack laughed looking up at Daniel. The older man licked the underside of the shaft and swiped his tongue across his balls before returning to lick along the length of his cock and back to the tip.
He stole a quick look at Daniel above him and smiled as Daniel tossed his head from to side, moaning. Jack kept a light touch on each flank as he leaned down and took Daniel in his mouth, licking and sucking. Daniel bucked and Jack kept a grip on his hips to keep Daniel from thrusting and choking him. As Daniel calmed slightly, Jack slipped one hand from his hip down to his inner thigh and massaged up and under Daniel's balls to his perineum.
Daniel had never felt like this. He didn't even realise he was capable of such feelings; the sensations Jack was creating in him were awesome. He had been sucked off before but never with such expertise. He wanted to call to Jack but he couldn't form any words. The speechless linguist; Jack would be proud of himself. Daniel wanted to touch Jack but he felt like a rag doll, putty in the hands of an expert. Who knew? Then even the power of thought deserted him as Jack took him to realms he'd never dreamt of, as he experienced the most powerful climax of his life.
Jack sensed that Daniel was close and moved his fingers towards his anus and stroked along the cleft, pushing slightly at the same time as he gently ran his teeth along the length of his cock. Then Jack sucked as he felt Daniel's balls draw up and Daniel shot his load down Jack's throat.
Jack's dream was fulfilled as he heard Daniel screaming his name.
When Daniel could think clearly again he realised Jack was lying alongside him, caressing his stomach. "Hi," he said.
"Hi yourself," Jack grinned.
"That was awesome." Daniel leaned over and kissed Jack, tasting himself on Jack's tongue. That, along with the reminder jabbing against his thigh, prompted Daniel to slip his hand between them and stroke Jack. "Do you have any plans for this?" he asked with a grin.
"Well," Jack said huskily, "I do have a fantasy that I would love to fulfil, but I don't know how you would feel about it."
"Careful what you say Danny, you don't know what I want."
"I think I can guess, and I said anything. I've thought of nothing else but being with you since I realised I loved you. I want to be as close to you as I can; I want you inside of me, Jack."
Jack could hardly believe it. A couple of hours ago he was grateful that he could be friends with Daniel again; never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that Daniel would ask this of him. Jack pulled Daniel to him and kissed him till both their heads were spinning.
"We need something to use, just a second." Jack jumped up and taking the stairs two at a time headed for his bathroom. He returned carrying a small bottle. "Massage oil." He lay back down with Daniel and kissed him slowly, passion tempered with sensitivity. Daniel wrapped his arms around Jack and returned the kiss with interest. Jack again travelled down the younger man's body with kisses, licks and nips until he reached his groin when he slipped his hand underneath and began gentle massage. "Turn over, Danny."
"I'd like to see you, Jack."
"While I prepare you, but it will be easier the first time if you are on your stomach. Trust me, this way will be better for now." Daniel nodded, watching Jack as he pulled Daniel towards him a little. He opened his legs wider at Jack's nudging. Jack opened the bottle and poured a little of the oil onto his fingers and then he gently stroked along the cleft massaging the oil into the surrounding area. Then he pushed one finger into the opening. Daniel bucked and moaned at the sensation but quickly settled as Jack pressed in and out with his finger.
"More, Jack, that feels so..."
Jack smiled and gently added a second finger, repeating the in and out motions and then scissoring his fingers and opening Daniel wider. He continued the gentle ministrations watching carefully for any sign of discomfort or distress. It was obvious that Daniel was caught up in the sensations, moaning and squirming. Jack finally added a third finger pushing and twisting, he angled his fingers a little feeling for that special spot. He knew he had found it when Daniel gasped and arched off the sofa.
"Are you ready, Danny?"
"Mmmm," was the only reply Jack got.
"Roll over." Jack touched Daniel on one hip and Daniel rolled onto his stomach. Jack quickly slicked up his cock and positioned himself. "Relax Danny, relax." He pressed in gently, "Breathe, Danny, just breathe." Jack lifted Daniel's hips slightly to get a better angle and then he pressed slowly and firmly and entered the tight passage. Jack took a breath himself at the pressure and waited as Daniel gasped a breath.
Daniel felt the first pressure, knowing it would be difficult. He felt the burning of his muscles as they stretched and he forced himself to relax. He heard Jack telling him to breath and he did as he was asked. He felt Jack move again pressing forward and with the slight pain came the pleasure of feeling Jack deep inside. He relaxed and Jack slipped further inside in one smooth movement. "Oh, Daniel, you feel so wonderful. It's like coming home."
"Well, don't get too comfortable."
Jack laughed and began a slow slide, in and out and as he got a rhythm going, he angled for the prostate. He felt Daniel shiver and knew he had hit it; he repeated the movement a little harder and Daniel moaned. "Jack, oh god, Jack, again please."
Jack smiled and picked up the pace thrusting in again and again, remembering his daydream from earlier in the evening. He would never feel this again he knew, this was the first time and no matter how many other times he and Daniel made love he would always remember this. "I'm gonna come Danny, I can't hold back ... Daniel, Daniel!"
Even as he called out his lover's name he heard his own name from Daniel's lips, not screamed as he had imagined, but moaned deep and long. A sound that drove deep into his heart and soul, much deeper than a scream ever could.
|Genres:||Angst, Drama, First Time|
|Summary:||Can Daniel work a miracle twice and break down Jack's barriers?
Author's Chapter Notes:
Lots and lots of angst and a distraught Jack
Thanks to my Beta, Gateroller!
Thanks to my Beta, Gateroller!