A Dish Best Served Cold by Sunraven
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Category: Other Male/Other Male, Jack/Daniel
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Humor
Rated: Mature
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Another K & R alternate universe story. Daniel's POV. Bray gets kidnapped by an old enemy, who plans on torturing the former Mossad assassin for a very long time, then plans to kill him. Bray's new lover, Harry Maybourne, asks Jack, Daniel and his K & R team to go with him to get the Master Assassin back.

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Author's Chapter Notes:
A little Bra'tak whumping, but no horrible details. The author's too soft-hearted for that.
It is moments like these that make me wonder why I ever left Egypt, or why I fell head-over-heels for a certain retired Air Force Colonel.

I stood in our home in Colorado Springs, shaking with anger and holding my rare first edition of Syrteps' 'Ancient Egypt.' A very damp, and as a result, a very ruined first edition.

"Jack, how did this book get wet?" Holding on to my temper was taking all I had. Jack treated my rare books and artifacts like they were the latest Tom Clancy paperback. No, on second thought, Jack treated his Clancy books better than my stuff.

He was watching hockey on television, a beer in his hand and an open bag of potato chips in his lap.

Jack must have heard something in my voice. He looked up at me, and at the same time, turned down the sound on the game.

"What book?"

Like you *can't* see the wrinkled thing I'm holding in my hand, the one that USED to be a priceless first edition before you got your fucking hands on it?

I shoved out my hand, pushing the now smelly book under his nose. "This one. The one that was in my study, which you are not supposed to enter."

"Oh, that one." He grabbed a fist full of chips and shoved them into his mouth, then gulped down some beer. For a second I wanted to shove that brown bottle up his ass, and tie the bag over his head. I know, I know. I'm a real shit sometimes. But damn it, that book had belonged to my parents!

He looked up at me, brown eyes guileless. "I walked by your office this morning and saw that you'd forgotten to water your plants again, so I did it for you. That one on the top of the shelf is a little high, so I used that book to stand on so I could reach it. I guess I spilled a little water on it."

"God damn it, Jack, this is, I mean was, a priceless first edition! Further more, it belonged to my parents! You've destroyed it because you were too lazy to get a step stool. It's irreplaceable."

"I didn't mean to do it, Daniel."

Now he looked like a puppy who's been scolded for making a mess. If I wasn't so upset over the loss of this book, I would have caved. It's just that I have so few things that belonged to them, and he treats my stuff so casually sometimes.

I didn't trust myself right then, so I just turned around and left both the room and the house. I didn't come back for three days.

Hey, don't look at me like that. I didn't fly back to Egypt, or anything. I just went to Teal'c's house that he shared with Sam, Janet and little Ray. I even gave Jan permission to call Jack just so he wouldn't worry. I'm not a total asshole.



There are times when I can't imagine how I ever lived thirty-eight years without Jack in my life.

I came back after an absence of three days, finally ready to talk more rationally to him about why he needed to keep away from the things in my study.

As soon as I walked in the door after using my key, Jack was there. He stood in the foyer, his shoulders hunched up and his hands shoved into his jeans. I noticed he had huge dark circles under his brown eyes and a look in them like he thought I was coming back to get my stuff and leave him. I hadn't talked to him in the entire time I was away.

"Jack."

"Hey, Daniel."

"I..."

"I..."

We both smiled, and I nodded for him to go first.

"I missed you."

"I... I missed you too, Jack. A lot."

His face lit up and he moved over close to me. "Yeah? I wasn't sure if you were going to come back or not, after I screwed up so bad with your parents' book."

That was a Jack O'Neill apology, in all its inadequate glory.

"I considered leaving, or rather, not coming back. You don't seem to realize how little I have left of my parents." The hurt on his face made me hurry on. "But, I realized that the book didn't mean as much to me as you do. My love for you isn't something that I could get over easily; or ever, for that matter. It's way too late for me when it comes to you."

"I love you too, Danny."

He looked like he wanted to take me in his arms, but was afraid I'd reject him. Suddenly the three days away, not feeling his strong arms and his sexy body, or laughing at a private joke, all of it, it hit me hard. I held my arms out. "Do I get a hello kiss?"

I tell you, Jack was almost scary in his intensity when he pulled me into his arms and kissed me. He held me tightly, yet at the same time like I was something very precious and breakable. The hunger in his kiss, the need for reassurance that I wasn't going to leave him, well, it nailed me like the proverbial ton of bricks as I breathed in his familiar scent. The smell of Jack that followed me into sleep at night, making me feel safer than I had ever experienced before. The scent I needed so much that I had snuck out with one of his dirty tee shirts concealed inside my shirt when I left. I wore it every night I was away, unable to sleep if I didn't.

When he finally pulled his lips away so we could breathe, he whispered, "I am so sorry for ruining your parents' book. I should have been more careful."

"Yes you should have. I need to show you which books are valuable and sentimental. I'm going to separate them from the every-day-use books. Maybe I should have them in an enclosed case to protect them even further. It wasn't entirely your fault."

"Then you forgive me?"

"Of course. We'll just have to set some rules up, that sort of thing, for the future."

The smile that came over his face as he stepped away made me catch my breath. I knew that I was the only one Jack smiled like that for, and my love for this irascible and wonderful man just filled me up to bursting.

"I got a surprise for you!"

"A surprise?"

"Yeah. Come on."

Grabbing my hand, he dragged me into my study. Once there, I just stared around in shock.

"Ya like it?" He asked me in a very nervous voice.

"You did all of this in three days?"

"Well, I had a little help from the guys, and a few hired people to take care of the lighting, the humidity controls, and the fish tank."

He had completely renovated my study. Three walls were covered with well-built bookshelves. One wall had a glassed in set of shelves, in which sat all my artifacts, rare books, scrolls, and my parents' other things. My workaday books were in the shelves next to the desk. The fourth wall was comprised of a huge thin wall-sized tropical fish tank. Jack didn't like my fish. He usually teased me mercilessly about them. Not only were all of the old ones in there, there were also some really neat-looking new ones, from all over the world.

"Wow." I walked over to the rare items shelves. The first thing I spied in there was the Syrteps, which looked like it was almost as good as new. The second thing I saw was a large wrapped package I've never seen before.

I opened up the glass door, took out the Syrteps, turned it over and opened it up to the page with my Father's signature on it. The signature was a bit more faded, but I could still read it clearly. I opened the book and the pages didn't stick together, or look too distorted from water damage.

"How did you do this, Jack?"

"Sam got on the internet and contacted a firm that's expert in restoring antiques. They had me fed-ex the book to them, and used some kind of process for drying the water out of it without damaging it. The President was like you, he told me in way too much detail what they were going to do with it. It looks pretty good, doesn't it? It's still damaged, but not as much."

"I'm, um, I'm overwhelmed that you would do all this for me, Jack. Thank you. The book is almost as good as new."

"I got ya something, Danny." Jack nodded at the wrapped package. The wrapping paper was gold with silver pyramids on it. "Open it."

I did, it was an antique book of some kind, from the feel of it. Once the wrapping paper was pulled off, my hands started shaking when I realized what it was that I held. It was a copy of 'The Book of the Dead', one of the original Egyptian papyrus versions bound in camel skin. This book was several thousand years old, and had been copied by a priest of Osiris from the original tablet. Papyrus lasts a surprisingly long time, but even so, there are only seven copies of this left in the world. At least I had thought there were only seven copies. What I was holding was an eighth copy, an unknown one.

"Where on earth did you get this, Jack? There are only seven more of these in existence, all of them in museums."

"I asked Bray to find me something Egyptian and rare for you for your birthday, but after I almost wrecked your dad's book, I figured I would give it to you now to make up for my being so dumb. He got it from one of his buddies in Egypt."

"We really should return this to the Egyptians, it's a masterpiece and belongs in a museum."

"You mean you don't like it?"

The insecurity in his voice brought my eyes up to my lover. I gently put the book back down on the shelf and closed the glass door, turned to Jack, and pulled him to me.

"It's the most wonderful thing I've ever seen in my life, Jack. Thank you." I kissed him gently, and afterwards said, as I stared into his warm brown eyes, "I love you so much Jack O'Neill, and this, what you did to make up to me, just makes me realize how much."

"Are you going to give the book to a museum?"

"Calling that just a book is sacrilege, Jack. And are you kidding about turning it in? I'm only human. I'll will it to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Egypt when I die. But before that, I'll have a special display stand built for it, and we'll keep it here where I can touch it, look at it and read it."

"Sweet! Oh, I also set up with Jan to have Cassie come over and feed your fish when we're on jobs, especially now that you've got a whole wall full of damned expensive ones. Don't want any of the buggers to die."

"That's beautiful too, Jack. How much did all this cost you?"

"A lot. But not any way near how much you're worth to me, Danny. I know I screw up a lot, but I don't know what I'd do if you left me. You're so much a part of me, of my life, that the thought of a life without you there to brighten it up about scares the piss outta me."

I was surprised at his admission. Jack didn't admit to fear easily, or to many other emotions. "The same goes for me, Jack. Even without all of this, I wouldn't leave you. I'm afraid you're stuck with me for good, O'Neill."

He hugged me hard enough to risk a few ribs, finally whispering in my ear, "I want to make love to you, Danny."

His words and the hungry tone in his voice caused me to fill up to exquisite hardness almost instantly. I rubbed my erection against him, letting him know how keen I was. "Yes. I want you too, Jack. Let's make love here, right now!" I pulled his shirt from his pants, suddenly not able to bear being apart from him for even the time it would take to go to the bedroom.

Now his face took on a look of horror. "What? With all those damned fish watching? No way!"

Laughing, I let him lead me into the bedroom, my heart so full it almost burst.



The next day, I was in my study reading the Book of the Dead, or rather worshipping it, really, when I heard the phone ring. Jack's voice answered, then quieted down to the occasional grunt.

A few minutes after that, he stood in my doorway. The expression on his face filled me with alarm.

"What is it?"

"That was Harry. Bray's been kidnapped."

"How? You told me that Bray's the best there is."

"He is, but it does happen sometimes, even to the best of us. Harry notified the Israeli Mossad contact that Bray gave him when they started dating, in case something like this ever happened. They think it's an old enemy that did it. They're sending one of their guys to Kuwait who's familiar with the situation and the history."

"Then we're heading for the Middle East."

"Yeah. He was nabbed right off the street while he and Harry were visiting Bray's friends in Kuwait. I'll call Sam and let her know what we're going to need, and to get T on board. T knows all of Bray's men, and he can get the best of them out to meet us. All of them are retired Special Forces guys from various countries, so we'll have a good incursion team. You'd better go pack, Daniel."

"I'll pack for you, too. Is Harry still in Kuwait?"

"Yeah. He's setting up the command station now. Though if the person who got Bray is the guy the Mossad thinks he is, we'll have to go in for him. This won't be a negotiation situation."

I got up, hugged him tightly for a second, and headed into our bedroom to pack.

When we arrived at the hotel in Kuwait, I was shocked at how bad Harry Maybourne looked. He hadn't shaved for a while, and his hair and beard looked scraggily and unkempt. His blue eyes were red-rimmed and dark with worry.

"Harry." Jack moved over to his friend and hugged him tightly. Selfish bastard that I am, I actually felt a twinge of jealousy at how close they obviously were. There weren't many people Jack cared for and felt comfortable enough with to give them his patented O'Neill full body hug.

Jack led his old friend over to the couch, his arm still around Harry's shoulders. My gut twisted a little that he hadn't even bothered to let me say hello to Harry, so I said aloud, "I'll just put our bags into our room, Jack."

"Thanks, Daniel." He didn't even look up at me when he said it. He and Harry just continued to talk quietly as though I wasn't even here. I took our stuff into the only empty bedroom and put them on one of the chairs. I sat down on the bed, trying to stop myself from being so insecure when it comes to Jack.

Jack loves me. I know that. Why I should suddenly become a jealous bundle of insecurities when he tries to comfort an old lover is beyond me. Maybe I just should have stayed in Colorado with Sam and Janet and the other non-combatants. Retrieving Bray is obviously going to be a major commando operation, and a civilian like me would probably be looked on as just extra deadwood. Just someone who is in the way.

"Daniel?"

I looked up at Jack, standing in the doorway. "Yes?"

"What'cha doing in there? Come on out and say hi to Harry."

"Jack, do you think that I'm going to be in your way when you go to retrieve Bray? Maybe I shouldn't have come."

He walked over to me. "You're here because I might need your expertise, Daniel. Not to mention that I'd both miss and worry the hell about you if you weren't with me. But one thing you aren't, is in the way. You've become a pretty good soldier since we've been together, and I'm proud to have you watching my six."

I could see it in his brown eyes, Jack was telling the truth as he saw it. My heart lifted at his obvious need for me as well as his confidence in my abilities, and I stood up in front of him.

"Sorry if I seem insecure or something. You guys are just so good at what you do that I feel a little intimidated is all."

He gently grabbed the nape of my neck and massaged a little. "How do you think I feel about working with you, Danny? I don't even speak my own language all that well, and you speak better'n me in twenty-three of em. What is really going to be valuable, I think, is your understanding of the Muslim and Arab mindset. The guy they think did it is both."

Harry was still sitting on the sofa where Jack had left him. My heart lurched in sympathy as I thought how I would feel if it had been my lover who had been kidnapped. I walked over and sat down beside him.

"I'll make some coffee." Jack said as he disappeared into the kitchenette.

"Harry, I'm so sorry about Bray."

Pain-filled blue eyes looked up at me. "I should have figured something like this would happen. I was too fucking happy. Of course it would be taken away from me. That's the sad story of my entire sorry life."

"I know what you mean. I've lost so many people in my life, and I'm in constant fear that Jack will be taken away from me too."

"Nah. They'd have to kill him to keep him from coming back to ya, kid."

"Bray's the same way, Harry. He's a tough, seasoned pro, and he won't go down easily. From the things he said when we've talked recently, he'd never leave you either."

"This time he might not have a choice. If the Mossad is right about who grabbed him, he..." His voice died.

"Daniel's right, Harry. Don't write Bray off too fast. He's a tough old bastard, and he's been in worst situations than this one, and lived to tell the tales to any sorry sucker who would listen."

T walked into the room just in time to hear Jack, an Arab man following him.

"O'Neill is correct, Maybourne. Bray has indeed been in much worst circumstances, and lived to brag about it. I know that well, as I shared a few of those occurrences with him in the past." The big man turned and indicated the Arab. "This is Abraham, one of Bray's colleagues from the Mossad. He has come here to assist us in this situation."

"You're Israeli?" I asked, surprised. The man was dressed as a Muslim, and looked the part, too.

Abraham grinned, taking at least ten years off his late middle-aged face, and spoke in a cultured American accent. "Yes, Doctor Jackson. It pleases me greatly that you, with all your wisdom and experience with the Middle East, could not see through my cover."

"I saw through it." Jack mumbled, glaring as though he didn't like the way the Israeli was looking at me.

Deep brown eyes turned to the retired Colonel. "But you knew I was coming, Colonel. Was I as transparent as all that?"

"Yeah, Jack." I protested. I mean, fair is fair, and I didn't think Jack had had a clue either. "You didn't know he was Israeli either!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!"

"Did too."

"Did not."

Jack shrugged. "Okay, maybe I suspected, but wasn't sure. Now, are you gonna tell us who you think did this, and why now, after Bray's retirement?"

I gestured for Abraham to sit down in one of the hotel chairs. He nodded his thanks to me, and did.

"Bray is very good at what he does, he has been the best infiltrator and assassin the Mossad has ever had, for many years. One gains a certain notoriety when one is as good as he is."

"Is? I thought he was retired." I was a little surprised at the Israeli's assessment using the current tense. The retired Bray had always been really nice to me, and gentle, believe it or not. It had been hard to think of him as a cold-blooded killer, even when I'd seen him kill people on our jobs.

"Retirement does not dull a man like Bray's skills. He left the job because he grew tired of the killing, not because he was slowing down. Also, other assassins, some paid mercenaries, came gunning for him over the last few years he worked for us. It was getting rather annoying towards the end."

"You mean kinda like the old American west, and the gunfighters? If one got to be too good, others would come just for the notoriety of killing a Billy the Kid, or a Bat Masterson."

Jack likes reading about the wild west. Sometimes I suspect that he sees himself as a peacekeeper like those historical police legends. I think he would make a really hot Wyatt Earp, myself. Would that make me Doc Holliday, then?

"Exactly, Colonel. That is why, when Bray retired from the Mossad, we faked his death. That way very few people would know he still lived."

"Somebody did, though." Harry mumbled.

"Yes, Harry, and it makes us wonder how this person found out about him being alive."

"Maybe you have a security breach."

"We thought of that first, Colonel O'Neill. There were only three people who knew that Bray was still alive in the Mossad, people whom he trusted implicitly. Two of those people are dead, both of them killed in the line of duty. Both were killed suddenly, with no capture or torturing for information before their deaths."

"Then I guess that narrows down your suspects." Jack said. "The third man must have spilled it."

"That is not possible, Colonel."

I said, "You were the third man."

Abraham grinned at me again. "Yes. Bray is my half brother, the son of my Mother, and we would die before we would betray each other. Your vaunted intelligence is showing, Doctor. My compliments."

I could feel my face heat up at the praise. I could also feel my lover's brown laser glare boring a hole through my face. I swear Jack would be jealous of a baseball bat if I smiled at it. Oh, Jackson, face it. You love Jack being jealous, it makes you hot.

"Call me Daniel."

"Thank you, Daniel. I know that Bray has been working for you often here in the Arab States, Colonel O'Neill. The only thing I can think of is that the person saw him during one of those missions, or recognized his technique."

Now Jack looked thoughtful. "That could be. He's done a lot of work for me, and not secretly. Who do you think did the snatch?"

The Israeli sobered, his dark eyes concerned. "The kidnapping has the signature of one of the most hated and feared men in the Middle East. One who Bray has crossed several times in his career. He took out this man's brother, who was a terrorist with a splinter cell of the Arab Liberation Front. Abdul Sarcosa Talim was responsible for killing many innocent Israelis, women and children as well as men, in random terrorist acts. He was well hidden deep in the Muslim world, though. It took Bray three years to mark him and take him out. Talim's brother, Mohammed, himself a terrorist assassin with the Palestine Liberation Army, vowed that he would get Bray, if it took the rest of his life. Talim always leaves a signature at his kills to identify them as his."

"Signature?"

"Yes, Daniel. He always leaves a page from the Koran on the site of his kill."

I looked over at Harry.

"I was on the phone with my staff, and Bray decided to take a stroll down to the village soukal to visit with some friends. I was supposed to join him later. I wish to God I'd been there!"

Abraham shook his head sadly. "You would have been killed if you had been, Harry, or taken to add to Bray's torture. His love for you is great, and Talim would have used you against him if you had been present."

"Yeah, maybe. When I got to the site of the snatch, one of the villagers had found a bloodied page from the Koran, along with four dead bodies and a lot of blood. My brother didn't go easy."

"So tell me why you think that Bray is even still alive, Abraham?" Jack asked, at the same time reaching over and patting Harry's knee reassuringly.

"Because Talim has promised in the past that he would pleasure himself by torturing and breaking Bray before killing him." Abraham shook his head. "My brother will not be an easy man to break. It will take time. Which is why I think there is still hope." He shrugged. "As it is, I will not stop from my search until I see my brother alive, or view his lifeless body. If he is dead, then I will not rest until I dance on the bones of the man who killed him."

I almost shivered at the hatred in the Israeli's voice, glad I wasn't his enemy. He was a lot like Bray. It made me again realize that Bray always kept his natural ferocity inside when he talked with me. I had never been afraid of Jack's friend, even though I knew what he could do.

"Jack, we have to go in and get Bray." Harry looked at his old friend, his eyes pleading his case.

"I know." Jack looked at Abraham. "Does the Mossad have any idea where Bray is being held?"

"We know of Talim's three hideouts, which he doesn't know that the Mossad is aware of, as far as our intelligence says. They are all around and on the outskirts of this city, which Talim pretty much controls with an iron fist. I would suggest, Colonel, if you have enough trained men, that we hit all three houses at the same time. We're bound to find him in one of them."

"Why? Why in the hell would this terrorist keep Bray in one of his own hideouts? That would be idiotic, and he doesn't sound that stupid."

Abraham looked over at Harry after his brother's lover made that snarky comment, his eyes filled with compassion and a mirroring worry for Bray. "He is far from stupid, but we are very lucky in this case that he is extremely arrogant about his own invincibility. Coupled with his religious fanaticism, the combination will lead us to Bray. One of our deep undercover operatives has passed the Mossad the location of Talim's safe houses. Our man is still there with the PLA, and we would know if they had changed the locations."

"What if this Talim has blown your man's cover, and is sending false information?" Jack asked.

"The PLA is not subtle like our two governments when it discovers treachery, Colonel. They consider it a betrayal of their God. They torture and execute the suspected person, usually before they've even confirmed his guilt or innocence. It acts as a deterrent to other spies in there midst."

I agreed with that assessment. "He's right, Jack. These Islamic terrorist groups continue existing only because of their ruthless attitude towards detractors and their aggressive brainwashing techniques of their loyal followers. It takes that to convince most people to die for a cause, even a supposed holy one."

Jack thought about that for a bit. "Harry, if you don't object, I think I should command the overall operation."

My lover was in what I always thought of as "Special Forces Colonel" mode as he glanced over at Harry with cold dark eyes. The gaze moved to Abraham and T. "You three are too close to Bray to command it. But Abraham, T, I want you to command the other two incursion teams. Harry will be my second for the third team. I want at least five, no, make it six trained guys per team. Two shooters and weapons experts, one explosives expert, one break-in artist, one expert on Muslim extremist groups, and one electronics guy. How long will it take to assemble the three teams?"

"I have contacted ten of Bray's best people, O'Neill. They will be arriving through the night and into tomorrow. They all have most of these skills, and can play any part on a infiltration team."

"I've contacted my guys in Guatemala. Four of my best will be here during the same time frame. They can do it all, too, Jack, though none of them are experts on the Muslims."

"I have taken the liberty of calling in my entire covert operations team, two of who are experts on Muslim terrorists. That will be one for each team, including myself. There are three of them, and they will be here tonight."

"Daniel's my team expert, but I'm assuming your guys can do all the other stuff, too?"

"Yes, of course. But is it wise to take a civilian with so little field experience along, Colonel? I mean no offense, Daniel."

"None taken." I lied. His comment had pissed the hell out of me. If he even imagined that I would allow myself to be quietly left behind to worry, well, no way. Jack wanted and trusted me to be there, and that was all I needed to know.

Jack's now almost black eyes blazed at Abraham. In the ten months we'd been together, I'd only seen that furious expression of his twice before. It scared the shit out of me both times, and the recipients of that look are all dead now.

"You're way out of line with that comment, Mister! Remember, Daniel's been trained by T, Bray, and ME. He may be new at it, but there isn't anyone who knows more about these terrorist groups and their histories. He has a perspective that none of us old soldiers have got, and that viewpoint has saved my team's asses more than once in the time he's been with us."

"I agree with O'Neill, Abraham. Daniel is a worthy team member, despite his lack of martial experience."

"Me, too, Abraham. I've seen the kid in action, and he's smarter than all of us put together. He goes."

My face was heating up with all the praise, but all eyes were on Jack and Abraham, so no one noticed. Both men were experienced covert ops field commanders, and I could tell that both of them were also not used to having their orders questioned. I wouldn't be surprised if both were also stubborn as posts, since I already knew that Jack was. Bray was the same, so it stood to reason that Abraham was, too.

"Very well. But if having an inexperienced operative along results in getting my brother or anyone on my team killed, O'Neill, you will have to deal with *me*."

Jack's eyes narrowed. "Are you threatening me or Daniel, asshole?"

"I am a Colonel in the Israeli Secret Service, Colonel O'Neill, and you will address me with the proper respect, or I will be forced to cut out your tongue."

"You and what army? Your precious Mossad? The ones who let Bray be kidnapped in the first place?"

I figured it was time to drench the testosterone being emitted, in order to dilute the concentration back to what was the usual high normal for professional soldiers like these. This wasn't helping us get Bray back, and that's what we had to focus our energy on.

"Um... Jack, Abraham, I think we're forgetting why we're all here. The important thing is to get Bray back to us alive. We are all professionals, and I expect that everyone will do their best. We all love him, Abraham, don't forget that. If I thought for a second that I would be a liability, I would excuse myself. But Jack's right, I'm different from you, all of you, and I see things differently as well. We are going to need all the help we can get to pull this job off and to get Bray back safe."

Jack turned to Daniel and smiled. "You got it right, Daniel. Thanks." He turned back to Abraham. "Now do you see why we need him in this, Abraham?"

The Mossad agent nodded. "I do, and I apologize to you all, especially to Daniel. I will cooperate, as will my team." He eyed Jack, a bit of amusement in the dark eyes. "And I will not cut out your tongue, O'Neill. Today."

Oops. My lover was glaring again. Fortunately, I had lots of experience with distracting him. "Jack, who is going to coordinate setting up places to stay and such for the people flying in?"

Harry spoke up. "Let me do that, Jack. With T's help, we can rent a warehouse or something for the duration. I can order anything we need from my contacts. It will keep my mind off of... things."

Left unsaid but understood was that those things were the torture and possible killing of a man all of us cared for.

"Job's yours, then, Harry. T, set him up with Sam's number too, she might think of other things we might need as well. Okay, let's get some sleep, and T and Abraham, I want the satellite recon shots on these three places ready for us when we get up tomorrow. Harry, I want the list and arrival times for all the stuff we'll need. Abraham, can you pull some strings in the Mossad and get us the files on this Talim and his brother, and Bray's mission to take him out?"

"Those files are classified, Colonel O'Neill."

"Yeah, and...?"

"They will be faxed here by tomorrow morning as well. Whether my Mossad colleagues agree or not."

Jack grinned, all animosity gone into the black hole of macho warrior camaraderie. "That's the spirit. Let's order something to eat, then hit the sack. The jet lag is killing me about now."

I slipped into bed to find that Jack was already there and lying curled up on his side; He had warmed up the coarse cotton sheets nicely.

I moved over to him, plastering my front to the back of his body.

"Jack?"

"Mmmmm?"

He was already partially asleep. The jet lag was getting harder for him to take as each year passed, he'd told me recently. Still, I found I was disappointed. I'd had designs on Jack's butt.

I kissed his neck under his silver hair, finally moving over to his ear. When I licked behind his ear, he shivered. I had to grin at that. It worked every time. I know I'm a selfish bastard, but I wanted to make love to him, especially after seeing how bad off Harry was. Every mission was dangerous, but this one was going to be even more so than usual. This might be the last chance we would get for a while.

"Daaannnieeellll. I've got jet lag, guy."

"So you didn't like it?" I licked him again, adding a bit of a nibble at the end. The resulting shiver was very gratifying.

Jack turned over and mumbled as he took my hand and put it between his legs. He was totally hard and ready for me. "God save me from younger men on caffeine highs."

I kissed him deeply, pulling on his bottom lip with my teeth before I released him.

"Men?"

He shifted to move on top of me, kissing me deeply. When he finally released my lips, he murmured, "One man. Always."

"Me too, Jack." I ran my hand over his underwear-covered butt. "Can I come in to play?"

"Yeah, cause I don't have enough energy to top."

I kissed him again, then pulled the Astroglide that I had ready over. "You'll get more pep real soon, lover. Right when I stick my hard cock inside that sexy ass of yours and start fucking you till you scream!"

"I love it when you talk dirty like that, Daniel. It makes me hotter than a fucking furnace! Do it some more."

Jack growled this at me while he moved onto his side, pulling his leg up to give me better access.

"No, Jack. On your hands and knees, not your sides. I want to fuck you with my tongue first. I want to taste your ass, and bury my tongue inside you so deep that you're screaming for me to fuck you. Begging me to do you."

One thing my macho lover was nuts about, and that was rim jobs. He hadn't had many before we got together, but I love both getting and giving them. Needless to say, Jack ended up wanting them a lot. He even managed after a while to relax enough with me do me as well. All that I can say about that is my Jack has a very talented tongue, once he finally decides to put it to more than the usual uses.

I nosed between his cheeks, licking and biting them as I spread him. Jack smelled clean, since we'd showered right after we got to the hotel. There was also my lover's very personal scent, strongest right here and near his balls. I swear it was like a musk dripping with aphrodisiacs, to judge by the effect it always had on me. I pulled at his kinky hair with my lips, finally letting my tongue meander around the tight pucker for a bit.

"Danny..." The threat laced in his growl nearly brought a smile to my lips. Colonel O'Neill, RET., wanted me to get on with my business, and didn't appreciate the teasing at all. I finally touched my tongue to his hole, again teasing the tight muscles until they were quivering under my onslaught. When I moved forward, piercing Jack, he groaned and shook under me. What an incredible rush, knowing I could get this sort of reaction out of such a tough man who prided himself on his ability to hold up through anything. Torture, hardship, one of my lectures, well, those Jack O'Neill could take without flinching. My tongue up his ass, now, just a few swipes and he was a puddle of quivering retired military goo. After a thorough, and judging from the moans, an intensely pleasurable reaming out, it was time for me to get to the serious stuff.

When I put a lubed finger in him, my hot lover almost screamed, clenching me and pulling me deeper so that I was touching his sweet spot. His sounds heated my blood, but I wasn't sure he was relaxed enough yet for me to breach him with anything bigger than a finger or two.

"Energetic yet?"

"Mmmm. More."

Well, down to uni-syllables. That was a good sign. It had taken Jack a while to really get into being bottom. I'd concentrated on making it extra good for him every time we did it, and after a while, he'd started relaxing more. It wasn't long after that, that he began liking it as much as I did. He was so overtly alpha that he would always prefer to be top. Lately, though, he did seem perfectly happy to compromise the other way if I was in the mood, like tonight.

My mood was really weird tonight. I wanted to be rough with my Colonel, to let him know that he was mine, now and forever. Suddenly I couldn't wait. I didn't bother with a second finger. The next thing that got buried in Jack's sexy ass was my swollen and lubed cock, and I didn't give him much warning. Didn't give him much time to get used to me as I pushed in, either.

"Shit! Warn a guy, will ya?"

"Shut up and let me fuck you, O'Neill."

Surprisingly enough, he did. No sound came out of him for the next few minutes except groans of pleasure or small grunts of discomfort at the rough riding he was getting. Both noises just turned me on even more, and I couldn't hold myself back from pounding into him with all the strength I had in me. Only when I felt myself losing it did I reach around him and took his cock into my hand. Instead of a nice easy jerk-off, I tightened my hand around him mercilessly; pulled up hard and stroked down just as hard. The brutal friction had him shaking like a leaf, and he bit into his pillow in order not to have every man in the other room hear his shout as he came in my hand. Only as his muscles clamped down like a vise on my oversensitive dick did I let myself go. I came forcefully, spilling myself into my lover, claiming him once again as mine. I greyed-out from the intensity of the orgasm, and found, when I came back to awareness, that I had bitten into Jack's shoulder like he had his pillow. The mark looked red and painful, and I kissed it and hung onto Jack desperately for a few more seconds. I slipped out of my lover as my cock softened, finally rolling over on my back, at the same time pulling Jack over to me.

"Sorry, babe, I didn't mean to bite so hard."

"Babe? You're really full of yourself tonight."

I grinned, amused by the fond tone of his voice. "Yeah. Babe. As in you're a real one, and you're all mine. Even if you do manage to goad tough guys into wanting to cut out your tongue way too often."

He smiled, reaching over to take my hand. "So that was what this was all about, eh? Well, I am yours, Danny. Forever. Thank you for reminding me so roughly that I won't forget that fact for a few days. With what we'll be facing over the next couple of days, I think I'll need to remember just how much you love me, and me, you."

"You're welcome." I said, sleepiness overcoming me finally. I snuggled into his arms, rooting my nose into his neck and wiggling around until we were both comfortable. "Mmmmm. Love you lots, Jack."

"Love ya too, Danny."



I translated Abraham's reports, which were written in Hebrew of course, as I read them out loud to my captive audience. Not many interpreters can do this, and I was proud that the English that came out was understandable and somewhat grammatically correct.

"...so, after almost three years of hunting, this scourge of evil has been neutralized. I predict that there will be reprisals by our enemies once the news of Talim's death becomes public. I left no sign that we were behind this, however enough of them know my style to be able to connect this with the Mossad. I recommend that Israel increase security around important sites and people, at least for a while. Talim's brother is another concern. I suggest that we take him out as well, or he will be forever dogging our tracks. He is known to be quite stubborn about letting go of a grudge. Signed in my hand, Bra'tac Jasallom."

Jack frowned. "Boy was Bray right on that one. This guy must have waited and watched for years to snag him."

"That much is obvious, O'Neill." Abraham turned and bowed to me. "That was the finest unrehearsed translation I have heard in a long while, Daniel. Thank you."

"Um, you're welcome, Abraham. I..."

Jack butted into my conversation with Bray's brother. For some reason, he seemed pretty threatened by Abraham and his dealings with me. I guess insecurity went both ways between us.

"Okay, guys, we need to head out to our new base of operations. Harry's got the teams set up and outfitted for the missions. From there, we'll all head out to our assigned safehouses."

My lover headed for the door, turning before he opened it to look at me. "Coming, Daniel?"

I went to get our cases out of the room. "Um Jack, I've packed our stuff, be right out."

"Come on, Danny, get a move on. We've got some terrorist butt to kick!"

I smiled and handed him a suitcase. "I just love it when you talk dirty." Couldn't resist that.

He grinned back, holding the door open for me. "Copycat. Come on."

The warehouse we drove to was set up like an army command post, or something I imagined a command post would look like. State of the art communications systems, satellite links and electronic maps, all that type of stuff, littered the place. Power cables snaked across the floor everywhere as traps for the careless.

"Wow. This place looks like it used to be some kind of a storage area. How'd Harry do all of this in only a day? Just buying the equipment would have been a mind-boggling obstacle."

Harry heard my comment as he walked up to us, and a look of pride filled his sad face for a bit. "One of Bray's guys is a scrounge."

"A scrounge?" I glanced at Jack, then back at Harry.

"That's a guy who knows how to get anything anywhere, Daniel." Jack nodded at Harry. "You've done real good here, Harry. My compliments."

The other man's eyes lit up at the comment, much more so than it had for my compliment. "Thanks, Jack. Coming from you, that's a real compliment. Daniel, Jack was one hell of a scrounge when he was still a Lieutenant. He could find a bottle of vodka in the middle of the Sahara desert, if he needed it to get the job done."

I looked at my lover, enjoying this bit of information about a younger O'Neill. "Is that so? And here I thought that all you could do was shoot people, and tell everyone what to do."

The brown eyes of my lover smiled along with the grin on his face. "Not everyone, Daniel. To this day, you've never done what I told you to do unless it suited you to do it."

"It keeps you on your toes, O'Neill." I was smiling back, couldn't help it, really. Jack could really uplift my spirits, even when we were going into battle.

Three people came through the door and over to us, or to Abraham, actually. It was like they didn't see anyone else but the Israeli. One of them was a striking auburn-haired woman, the only female in the place. She would have been gorgeous, if it hadn't been for the cold look on her face and in her black eyes. The other two men were identical twins apparently, as dark-skinned as Teal'c, but had Arab features. They were also blondes, which was a rather odd look for what I assumed to be Israelis. They wouldn't be able to go under cover in the Arab world, with that color of hair.

"This is your team, Abraham?" Jack, who never missed anything when he was in soldier mode, nodded at the three young people.

"Yes. Please let me introduce everyone to you." He motioned towards the woman. "Shada Nicolest, scrounge, communications and Muslim expert, and my daughter."

The grim face flushed a bit as he said that she was his daughter, but she mostly kept her composure. Shada just nodded at them all. She looked about twenty-two or so. They all did, as a matter of fact. Her eyes didn't look young, though. They looked as old as Bray's. They were the eyes of a born killer.

Abraham gestured at the twins. "These two pretty boys are my explosives and weapons experts, Rhami and Thami Bhadanamek. All of you, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill, Colonel Harry Maybourne, and Dr. Daniel Jackson, formerly of Beirut University."

The three Mossad members saluted Jack and Harry. Daniel could see Jack almost return the salute, then stop, looked at his hand, and said gruffly, "We're both retired now. Call me Jack and him Harry."

One of the twins, I have no idea which one, narrowed his eyes and stared at me for a bit. Finally he said, "You were the Chair of the Egyptian Archeology department, weren't you?"

"Yes I was. Did you attend Beirut University?"

"No, but I took out someone who worked there, so I spent a lot of time just hanging around the place."

"Um, really?" I didn't have a clue how to respond to *that* comment, since it was obvious that "took out" didn't mean dating in this case. I might be a linguist, but sometimes even I experience a loss for words.

"Haven't you heard the saying, "loose lips sink ships?"" Jack growled. "There's such a thing as too much information."

Shada elbowed the twin who had spoken in the ribs. In Hebrew she dressed him down, using quite pungent words.

Jack moved closer to me and asked quietly. "What's she saying?"

"She's telling him to stop teasing, she calls me the professor; Says that he's out of line and should show respect to someone that Abraham obviously admires and respects."

"Oh." Jack shot a glare at the now grinning young man and poked his thumb in Shada's direction. "What she said." I don't think he liked the comment that Abraham admires me, though, judging from the glare in his eyes.

My lover enjoyed teasing me like crazy, but woe unto anyone else who did it. Did I mention before just how possessive Jack O'Neill is? And why is it, anyway, that every alpha male and his brother just has to engage in a teasing bout with Dr. Daniel Jackson when they first meet me? Is it my face? Sheesh! Talk about no respect.

Harry broke the following silence. "I want you to meet my guys, and you already know Bray's team."

Harry's people are obviously American expatriates, probably ex-Special Forces, from the collective look of them. They look tough and very competent, like they can get the job done. Bray's people come from lots of countries, but they have the same overall feel to them. All these men and woman have the same look my Jack has. I can feel my confidence in our success increase as I stand here. We will get Bray back alive. These people won't have it any other way.

After taking one more look around at the infiltration teams, I whispered to Jack, "I don't think I've ever seen so many tough-looking guys in the same place before."

"Guys and woman, Daniel, and from what I see, she's the toughest of the whole bunch of 'em. The look in her eyes reminds me of Sam's cousin Betty, you know, the Marine Sergeant Major. This kid's kind of young to look like that, though."

"Yes, she certainly looks like she's had a tough life. Growing up in Israel isn't easy, with it being a war zone all the time."

"Jack, Daniel, come on! We need to see the maps of where we're going to go in."

We followed Harry's voice over to where a bunch of satellite maps were spread out on a table. He had moved over there, and was looking at one of them.

"Okay, Harry, what is it we're looking at here?"

"This map here, Jack, is a street map around our target inside the city."

I looked at the map for a bit, but Harry and Jack quickly got immersed into a deep military discussion, and I decided to wander around and wait until they were ready to explain themselves. I came up to Shada, who had just finished her briefing.

"Thank you for saving my dignity back there, Shada."

She grinned up at me, her cold brown eyes softening a bit. "Abraham likes you. It's better I stop them from teasing before he has to. We need them healthy for the raid."

"Um, yes, we do. Abraham's very wise."

Jack called me over and briefed me on the plan for our team.

"Daniel, you'll be sticking near me when we go in. Harry, you'll have point with Machim, and Sevra and Torentino will take the back door. We'll go in fast and simultaneously at 0200, when the guards are at their sleepiest, hopefully. Silencers will keep the noise to a minimum while we take 'em out. If they follow standard terrorist practices, there'll be a trap door in the floor concealed under a rug or a pallet. Daniel, once we have the trap door open, you'll speak to any guards in the room below in Arabic, try to lull the guards into thinking you're their buddy."

"What if they don't speak Arabic?"

"Then we drop a gas grenade down there and put them out. We can't shoot down there without risking Bray. If you can lull them out and away from Bray, we'll take them out then. Okay?"

"Are we sure Bray will be in this safehouse?"

"No. But all three teams will be going in with the assumption that he's in their target house. That way we'll have the best chance of getting him out safely."

"That makes sense. After we have Bray, what next?"

"We beat ass out of there, and get Bray to a hidden airfield on the southern expanse and fly him out to Saudi Arabia in a stealth chopper."

I looked apologetically at Harry. "What if he can't walk, Jack? Should we bring a portable stretcher just in case? Sorry Harry."

"No problem, Daniel. That's a good idea, Jack. That way we can take him out if he's been hurt too bad by the bastards."

Harry's eyes glowed rather malevolently right then. I am really glad he's not looking at me like that. I'd want to crawl behind Jack and hide if he was. Harry Maybourne could be a very dangerous man.

"Yeah, that's good, Harry. Make sure all three teams have one of the collapsible kind of stretchers with them. We might have to drag him out of the house if he isn't mobile, but once we're away from it, we'll transfer him to the stretcher and run to the rendezvous points. It'll be faster that way."

Jack raised his voice. "Okay, everyone. Time to get some rest for those of us who don't have far to go, you others, check your weapons, and get ready. You all know when you're scheduled to leave. Good luck, and bring Bray back alive."

I felt a lump in my throat from pride when all of those tough soldiers saluted Jack after his speech. My love would have made a great general. Apparently, our team would leave last, about midnight, since our target was close. All of the attacks would take place at the same time, so that word wouldn't get out about the raids.

I went over to a pallet, sat down, and started writing in my journal. Jack was talking animatedly with Harry, hugging him at the end of his speech. Harry looked really old right then, yet I wondered if I could hold up that well if it had been Jack who had been taken.

Finally Jack finished all his preparations and coaching, and finally came up to me where I was still writing. "You might want to try to get some shut-eye, Danny. It's going to be a long night."

I smiled, put aside my book, and lay down on the pallet. He kicked his bedding closer to mine, and he folded down beside me. I moved into his arms, snuggling closely, not caring who saw us for once.

"You would have made a great general, Jack, you know that?"

I felt him kiss the top of my head and rub his nose in my hair, sniffing my scent deeply. "Yeah, maybe. But I wouldn't be able to acknowledge that I had you, if I was still in the Air Force. I don't regret retiring, especially when I wake up in the morning with you snoring next to me." His arms tightened around me. "Now go to sleep, you. I'm tired, since you kept me awake half the night last night, and we've got a busy time ahead of us."

I breathed in his smell, kissed his neck, and murmured, "'kay. Sleep well, Jack."

"You too, Danny."

"Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"I don't snore!"

I felt his smile as he kissed my hair again. "Like a buzz saw, Danny, like a buzz saw. Go to sleep."

I did, finally, fall asleep, lying safe in my lover's arms.



Harry signaled for Jack and I to move up to him from where we hid in the shadows of a house. We did, and once we were all together, Harry started to work on the lock of the wooden door. It didn't take Jack's talented friend long before the lock snicked open, and we opened the door slowly. Saul Machim, one of Bray's most trusted men, had sprayed the hinges and the lock with a lubricant before we'd started breaking in.

There was only a dim light in the front room of the two-story house, and two men were sleeping on the floor there. Another, this one apparently the on-duty guard, sat dozing in a chair that faced the door.

Harry, Jack and Machim shot one silenced bullet each through the heads of the sleepers. I fought down a feeling of guilt at taking lives in such a dishonorable way, but knew that if we didn't kill them, then they could raise the alarm after we got away.

Jack's signal told Harry to go into the left-most room and Machim to go to the room on the right. The quiet clicks of their rifles told me that several more people died that night in those rooms.

We met up with Sevra and Torentino midway through the house, and Jack signaled the three younger men to go and take out the people upstairs. I found the trapdoor beneath a carpet in the kitchen, and let Jack and Harry know about it. They joined me, Jack nodded, and I opened the trapdoor.

Someone spoke up at us in Arabic. I responded in that same language. A large man came up to the ladder and tried to see us. Harry shot him, and he dropped like a stone. A flashlight pointed around the lower room told us that there were no other guards. It was time to climb down into the makeshift prison.

Something hung from the ceiling, and I felt the gorge rise in my throat when I realized that it was Bray. He'd been hung on a ceiling hook by ropes binding his wrists.

"Shit! Let's get him down, Jack." Harry's anguished voice broke my stupor, and I moved in to help get the battered man down from there.

A groan came from Bray's beat-up mouth, and he opened swollen eyelids to see the face of his lover.

Believe it or not, this tortured man actually grinned at us!

"What took you so long, O'Neill?"

Jack smiled. "We had a few things to do that were more important than rescuing your old scrawny butt, Bray!"

Jack took Bray's weight on his shoulders, and helped him climb the ladder behind us. Harry, once he was out, turned and grabbed his lover to help lift him out of his prison. Once we got the entire team back together, all of us left that house of death behind.

The rest of the flight out of Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia was rather surrealistic. Bray had been damaged pretty badly by the torture he'd undergone. But as he lay there on his gurney, Harry holding tight to his unbroken hand and stroking his lover's face gently, I could tell that our friend was going to be okay.

We picked up the other two teams at their rendezvous sites, and Abraham came quickly over to see his brother.

"Bra'tac."

The older man smiled through cracked lips. "Abraham. Shada. Did you get the bastard?"

Shada smiled, one of the most blood-thirsty smiles I've ever seen on a woman's face. On anyone's face, for that matter.

"Yes, Uncle Bra'tac. I cut his throat before he even knew I was there. I brought you a present." She tossed a clear sealed baggie onto her Uncle's blanket-wrapped belly. Was that what I thought it was? Yes.

On Bray's blanket was a baggie that contained a man's severed genitals. Talim's, I assumed. All of a sudden I didn't feel so well, and I turned away from the gruesome trophy.

"Hey, you okay?" I felt Jack's hand on my neck and the concern in his voice.

"Did Shada actually cut Talim's privates off?"

Responding to the horror in my voice, Jack started massaging my neck. "That's an ancient middle eastern tradition, nasty as it is. It's specially restricted to only blood or family enemies. Her hatred must be really bad for her to do that."

"I'm glad we're going home, Jack. And I'm glad Bray's coming home safe."

"Me too, babe, me too." He sounded really tired, and I put my arm around him tightly. Together we faced out into the graying darkness, ignoring the gruesome scene behind us.

So our stealth helicopter met the sun as we headed for sanctuary in the desert dawn.
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