An SGComedy of Errors
Bathed in the blue glow of an active wormhole, the four members of SG-1 stepped out into a deserted chamber. As the stargate cut off behind them, the team spread out, taking in featureless stone walls and dark gaping archways cautiously.
“Okay, kids, keep yours eyes peeled,” Jack said, ranging the light of his P-90 into dim corners. “Uh, so is it animal, mineral or vegetable?”
Teal’c spared him a raised-brow glance. “O’Neill, how could an Ancient shielding device be animal or vegetable?”
“Hey, we only have Tok’ra intel to say it’s here at all. I’m not ruling anything out.”
“I think it’s a safe bet that it’s mineral, sir,” Carter said, her delivery so deadpan Jack felt a glow of pride at how much the ultra proper major had learned under his expert ‘smart-ass’ tutelage.
With nothing obvious to be seen, Carter knelt and unloaded equipment from her backpack, Daniel hunkering down beside her. While Teal’c made cursory checks down the empty branching hallways, Daniel helped Carter sling an instrument satchel, loaded with the usual incomprehensible bells and whistles, from a strap over her left shoulder, the readouts visible from a display at her hip. Jack watched as she turned it on and aimed a connected hand-held sensor out in front of her.
No bells or whistles resulted from this action.
Carter frowned in disappointment.
Jack sighed and asked her, “Explain to me again why we’re wasting our time here if it’s not a big honkin’ space gun?”
“As I outlined in the briefing—”
Carter and Daniel exchanged a long-suffering look, then pointedly ignored him, turning their attention to the stone walls. With nothing better to do in the empty chamber, Jack watched as each of his Science Twins approached their job according to his or her personality.
Daniel walked slowly closer and closer to the wall, giving it a thorough visual inspection before finally reaching out with a tentative hand. His touch was almost a caress as the archeologist noted elements not obvious to any other observer.
Carter on the other hand strode boldly up and rapped the wall sharply with a knuckle. Barely even looking at the physical structure itself, her eyes were glued to her instruments, and she moved on immediately when it proved itself of no worth.
Daniel coaxed information out, Carter demanded it. Between the two there wasn’t a hell of a lot that got by them of scientific worth. Add Teal’c’s and Jack’s own obsessive and perpetual threat assessment, and there wasn’t a hell of a lot that got past his team, period.
However, whether coaxing or demanding, by the looks of their frowns neither of his geeks seemed to like the responses they were getting from this particular location.
Bored, Jack wandered away toward Teal’c, who stood at one of the four archways. He called out to the pair behind him, “It’s smaller than a breadbox, though, right?”
Jack heard a sigh.
“Don’t be giving each other those looks,” he warned.
There was silence as Jack knew the Wonder Twins were double checking to be sure he hadn’t actually been watching them.
“Jack,” Daniel stated. “Sam was quite clear at the briefing—”
“Yeah, the good major was quite clear for two hours and thirteen minutes.”
“To be fair, part of that presentation was mine.”
“Whatever. You two are interchangeable.” There was a pause. “Hey, what’d I say about those looks?”
There was another sigh from Daniel, then Carter came into view, suppressing the last trace of a grin as she aimed her sensor down the dark hallway.
Coming up on Jack’s other side, Daniel was scowling accusingly at the featureless stone wall. “This place doesn’t really seem Ancient. It just doesn’t seem…”
“Cool enough?” Jack suggested.
Daniel raised his brows, then conceded, “Yeah. Less Ancient outpost, more low-end storage cellar. These walls just aren’t quite what I’d expect to see.”
“How so, Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked.
“Well, there *is* nothing to see. They’re totally bare.”
“Kind of like that pyramid on Abydos?” Jack asked.
“Uh, yeah, in a way,” Daniel conceded, looking surprised that Jack had remembered such a geeky detail. “But not a ceremonial bareness, a utilitarian bareness.”
“How the hell can you tell the difference? A blank stone wall is a blank stone wall.”
“Just an impression, Jack,” Daniel said, crossing his arms defensively.
Jack gave a sigh of his own.
“Daniel Jackson’s impressions are usually correct, O’Neill.”
“Okay, okay, big guy,” Jack said. “Let’s not fight over him.”
Daniel directed a red-faced glare at his CO as Carter once again hid a grin, this time from her science twin. Glancing at her in sudden suspicion, Daniel went on the offensive. “Wouldn’t it make more sense for you guys to fight over Sam?”
“Ah, ah!” Jack chided. “No sexism in our modern fighting force, now.”
Carter, trying valiantly to return her teammates to the matter at hand, announced, “Sir, I’m getting absolutely no readings of the kind we’d expect to see emitted from a devise such as the Tok’ra described.”
Carter shrugged. “I’ll keep an eye on the readouts, but a visual survey may be our only choice.”
Jack propped an elbow on his P-90 and scrubbed at his face, considering the pros and cons of splitting up. They’d been given three hours for this mission, and those dark hallways stretched out of sight to every side. “Teal’c?”
“I see no sign of current or recent jaffa or Goa’uld activity.”
Jack came to his decision with a deep breath. “Okay. Four corridors, four of us. Pick your favorite direction and let’s move out.”
Carter took the hallway opposite the stargate, Daniel and Teal’c the ones branching off to either side of her, Jack himself taking the corridor that angled off toward the back of the chamber.
It couldn’t have been more than sixty uneventful seconds later that Jack’s radio crackled to life.
“What was that?” came Daniel’s voice, using the deliberately casual tone that indicated something potentially serious.
“What was what?” Jack responded.
“I saw it too, sir,” Carter said. “There was a flash of white light. It didn’t really illuminate anything though, just kind of blinded me for a second.”
“I also witnessed this occurrence.”
“Well, there was nothing here,” Jack said. “Any ideas? Carter?”
“If this is some kind of repository of Ancient technology, there could be any number of devices in operation.”
“Could it be this fancy shield activating?”
“Possibly,” she conceded after a moment, “but I’m still not getting any readings.”
“Teal’c, any of this ring a bell with you?”
“Negative, O’Neill. No bells have been rung with me.”
Jack considered in silence for a moment, then decided to err on the side of safety. “Regroup at dispersion point,” he ordered. “We’re leaving.”
“But, Jack, I’d like to look a little more and see if—”
There was no answer, but equally there were no further arguments, and Jack knew the archeologist was returning.
Jack reached the stargate at a jog, eyeing his team as they simultaneously entered the chamber from their respective hallways. No one looked harmed or impaired in any way. Well, Daniel looked a little pissy, but that was no surprise.
As Carter knelt to repack her equipment, Jack relaxed his jog to a casual stroll and called to SG-1’s jaffa, “Hey, T, how much you wanna bet we’re gonna bounce off an invisible force field when we try to dial out?”
Teal’c cocked his head in solemn consideration. “If I accept this wager, and there is no force field, how may I expect to profit?”
From across the room Daniel smirked as he said, “‘Force field’, Jack? I thought you hated sci-fi.” Nevertheless, he approached the DHD cautiously, one hand raised as if half expecting to run into an unseen wall.
Jack ignored the archeologist, answering Teal’c, “Well, you’d profit from the experience.”
Teal’c raised a brow, then sketched a half-bow. “I decline to gamble with you, O’Neill.”
Daniel made contact with the DHD, and with a shrug began punching in symbols.
Hefting her bag, Carter joined Jack, their shoulders brushing together. “You would’ve won, Teal’c,” she said.
“I believe I profit from the experience regardless of O’Neill’s speculation,” Teal’c stated with dignity.
Carter grinned and nudged Jack’s shoulder as the wormhole engaged. Jack glanced over at her in surprise, wondering at the chummy gesture from the typically staid woman. Daniel turned to them, a smile fading and his eyes narrowing as he took in their unusually intimate posture.
For a moment the three seemed frozen into some kind of strange tableau. Then Carter moved away, gathering leftover equipment with Teal’c’s help, and Daniel turned to the wormhole, keying in SG-1’s IDC on his wrist-mounted transmitter and Jack was left wondering if he’d imagined the whole awkward scenario. And even if he hadn’t imagined it, he was damned if he knew what it could’ve possibly meant anyhow.
SG-1 entered the wormhole and stepped out onto Earth.
General Hammond stood at the foot of the ramp. “You’ve aborted your mission early, colonel,” he stated.
“Yes, sir. Carter’s force field finder found squat.”
Carter cleared her throat. “There were no readings conversant with those such a shield technology would be expected to produce, sir.”
“Like I said, squat.”
“There was an odd flash of light, though,” Daniel added. “It didn’t seem to affect anything, but we came back anyhow.”
“Any need for an immediate debrief, colonel?” Hammond asked.
“Then we’ll convene tomorrow morning at 0900 hours. Please proceed with your usual post-mission physicals.”
Daniel sat on an infirmary bed, swinging his legs, bored out of his skull as usual.
These post-mission exams took so long and they were so unnecessary. Well, unnecessary 99% of the time. That last percent was usually a doozy, of course, but still. It was boring. He’d tried keeping folded up articles and reports in a pocket to read at just these downtimes, but Janet outlawed them. Seemed he became so involved in his reading that he neglected the CMO’s tiresome medical questions.
At the next bed over, Teal’c had finished his check up, first as usual. Not surprising as the jaffa’s exams always went much faster than his teammates’. However, instead of his customary nod of acknowledgement as he passed by on his way out, Teal’c approached Daniel, standing so close his arm brushed against the archeologist’s leg.
“I trust your physical will find you in excellent health, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said, the remark delivered as statement rather than question.
Teal’c had a gleam in his eye that Daniel usually associated with the jaffa’s dry humor, but in this case the archeologist was at a loss to understand the joke.
“Uh, yeah, as far as I know, Teal’c.”
The jaffa nodded with a small smile. “Then I shall see you,” he paused, then finished as if it were a punchline, “…in the showers.”
And he turned and left before Daniel managed to get his mouth working enough to respond.
If that was a joke it was even worse than the Seth-animal-nose-dripping one.
Delayed by a young airman’s question regarding the differences between Earthly martial arts and the jaffa discipline of Mastaba, by the time Teal’c was finished with his shower, O’Neill had caught up with him. They stood at their lockers, dressing.
O’Neill tugged his boot laces tight and glanced up at Teal’c. “Bet you wish these were co-ed showers, eh, T?”
Teal’c paused in the act of pulling on his shirt and quickly ran O’Neill’s comment through his internal sarcasm and humor detector. Virtually all of O’Neill’s non-military speech, and sometime even the military, needed interpretation, frequently at a later time with Daniel Jackson’s help. The jaffa believed he had all ‘Wizard of Oz’ references accounted for, but most of the hundreds of similes, figures of speech, allegories, illusions, metaphors, et cetera, still eluded the straight forward jaffa.
Silently admitting defeat, Teal’c asked his expectant team leader, “With whom would I wish to be educated? I believe I am already sufficiently familiar with the cleansing apparatus.”
O’Neill merely chuckled, nudged Daniel Jackson, who had come up beside him, then closed his locker and sauntered out of the room, leaving both Teal’c and Daniel Jackson staring quizzically after him.
“What was that about?” Daniel Jackson asked, dropping his robe and pulling clean clothes out of his own locker.
“O’Neill suggested I would prefer the cleaning stations to be…co-ed?”
Daniel Jackson frowned as he dressed. “Co-educational in this context would basically mean men and women sharing facilities.” He considered a moment more, then shrugged, joining Teal’c in dismissing O’Neill’s humor as essentially incomprehensible. “I think I like the ‘cleaning stations’ just as they are. I don’t need any more competition than I already have.” The archeologist buttoned his shirt, looking up at Teal’c with an expectant expression on his face not unlike O’Neill’s of a moment ago.
Again Teal’c paused and considered. However, having no more success interpreting this comment than O’Neill’s, the jaffa merely gave a half bow in response. As he had finished dressing, Teal’c closed his locker and proceeded to the exit.
“Hey,” Daniel Jackson called. “What’s your hurry?”
“My schedule calls for me to be at a new recruit orientation at 1400 hours.”
The archeologist sighed. “Okay, but I’ll see you later,” he stated firmly.
For yet a third time Teal’c paused. He thought over any appointment he may have made with Daniel Jackson, recalled none, decided the archeologist was speaking generally, and settled for another half bow, responding, “I am certain I will indeed see you again, Daniel Jackson.”
His teammate’s smile, the Daniel Jackson equivalent of O’Neill’s chuckle, seemed to follow Teal’c as he left the room.
No matter how much he learned of Tau’ri ways, they still managed to confound him on a regular basis.
Sam waited patiently at the door of the locker room, giving the boys first turn at the showers today. Okay, not so patiently maybe, but unfortunately it was her turn to go second. Suiting up for a mission was often a full-team affair for SG-1, but the post-mission showers were another story. The first teammate to come out was the colonel and Sam straightened automatically.
He accompanied his response of “Major” with a slow smile, then seemed to wait expectantly.
“Uh, how was your shower?” Sam said. Oh god, had she really just asked that? “I mean, uh, was the water warm enough?” Holy Hannah, what nonsense was coming out of her mouth?
Her CO’s smile grew. “As peachy as it could be under the circumstances.”
Blessedly, the colonel’s expression turned serious as he changed mental gears and cocked his head back toward the locker room. “Notice anything unusual with Daniel and Teal’c?”
“…No, I don’t think so…”
“They seemed…quiet, if you know what I mean.”
Sam hadn’t the slightest idea of what he meant and only shook her head silently.
Colonel O’Neill shrugged. “Oh well, they’ll work it out and there’ll be joy in Mudville tonight, eh?” He patted her arm and strolled away.
Sometimes Sam felt as clueless as Teal’c when it came to her team leader.
Afternoon had passed into evening and Jack still sat in his office, pushing paperwork half-heartedly about. He did the minimum necessary to keep Hammond from kicking his lazy ass out of the command’s 2IC position, but he sure didn’t have to be enthusiastic about it.
Daniel stepped into the office and eyed the papers and folders spread out over the desktop. “Aren’t we industrious.”
“I always find time for my Fantasy Hockey Team.”
Thick brows rose up Daniel’s forehead. “Your fantasy, hmm? What other fantasies have you got going?”
Jack’s own brows joined Daniel’s. “…Well, there’s the naked skydiving one, but Mary Steenburgen keeps saying no.”
Daniel propped his hands on the desk and leaned over, Jack involuntarily leaning back in concert.
“Well, maybe you should ask someone else,” the archeologist said, as if this was the most reasonable thing in the world.
Jack stared, trying, and failing, to get the joke. “Yeeeah,” he finally said, “maybe I’ll do that, but until then I’ve got to go deliver my mission report and then head on home.”
Daniel backed off with a shrug. “Fine.”
Jack came around the desk and reached to open the door for both of them. He was about to ask if Daniel needed anything in particular from him, when the younger man put a hand on his shoulder. Jack looked over, startled. Daniel didn’t often initiate physical contact.
“Just one thing before you go,” Daniel said, and promptly snaked his hand to the nape of Jack’s neck, pulling their lips together.
For a moment Jack lost himself in the kiss, lost himself in the sheer physical sensation, the pleasure, the intimacy of being kissed. God, when was the last time? Not the awkward consolation smooch he’d given that long-haired alternate-reality Carter, but the last real kiss... Kynthia? No, that was drug induced. Christ, Sara?
Then Daniel’s tongue insinuated itself between Jack’s lips and flicked at his teeth, and Jack came to, rearing his head back so suddenly he whacked it on the door behind him.
The two men stared at each other, both breathing harder than just standing in an office would account for. Jack held himself stock-still in the archeologist’s embrace, taking in Daniel’s dilated pupils, his kiss-softened lips and expectant gaze.
“Did you hit your head today and not tell anyone?”
Daniel blinked. “Jack, are you mad at me?”
“Not yet, but I will be if you keep this up.”
“Keep what up?”
“Um, this?” Jack gestured at the hand Daniel still held possessively cradling Jack’s head.
Daniel’s formidable brows lowered and he pursed his lips as he released Jack with an irritated huff. “Fine. Play your little game and go home then. I hope you have a good time, *alone*.”
He reached past Jack and wrenched the door open, forcing Jack to jump aside or be hit by the wide-flung door. Then Jack was left standing in the doorway, staring in stupefaction as the archeologist stalked away down the corridor.
On auto-pilot he turned back to his desk, gathered his things and left the office, barely registering his surroundings.
*What in the flying fuck…?*
Jack knew Daniel was a good-looking man. You don’t spend almost twenty-five years in the military and not consider the sexual possibilities all around you, in the field as well as the locker room. And he knew he wasn’t a solid zero on the Kinsey Scale (Alfred, that is, not Senator). No, homosexuality was not repugnant or necessarily unthinkable to him. But Jack had never pursued any kind of relationship with a man before, be it romance or merely fuck-buddy. It had simply never been worth the risk.
He was pretty sure he wasn’t sending out those kinds of vibes, and he’d never noticed the slightest vibe in that regard from Daniel…
Jack dropped his mission report off with the general’s secretary and headed out of the mountain for the night, still on auto-pilot. At one point Carter passed him in the hallway, calling out, “Sorry, colonel, I’ll be working later than I thought, all right?” If that was supposed to mean something special, Jack couldn’t think what and only grunted distractedly in acknowledgment as he entered the elevator, still puzzling over Daniel’s behavior.
God knows Jack worked hard enough just to keep a friendship with SG-1’s archeologist on an even keel. Ethical considerations of a romance with a teammate aside, the thought of the effort he’d need to expend to sustain a sexual relationship with Dr. Daniel Jackson was daunting to say the least.
He didn’t think he’d survive it.
Daniel looked up from his translation notes to see Sam strolling through the open door of his office. He adjusted his slipping glasses. “Who’s there?” he asked promptly.
Sam threw him a mock glare, perching beside him on a stool. Then she sighed, and answered reluctantly, “Insecure.”
Daniel frowned in surprise. Sam, insecure? He’d always considered her to be self-confidence incarnate. And not Jack’s blustery version, either, but a more rock-solid variety. Obediently he asked “Insecure, who?”
She sighed again, waving a hand to dispense with the knock-knock joke. “Just…something seems off with Teal’c today. Have you noticed anything?”
Daniel thought of the way Teal’c had brushed against him after his medical, although why Teal’c being ‘off’ would make Sam feel insecure was beyond him. “Well, he did seem a little odd in the infirmary. A little…friendlier than usual?”
“Friendlier? With me he’s being the opposite. Not unfriendly really, but distant.”
“Distant,” he repeated blankly. “Isn’t he usually that way?”
Sam laughed. “Um, *no*, Daniel, he isn’t,” she said in a teasing scold
“…Oh.” Daniel fell into a confused silence, confining himself to peering at his friend sidelong.
Sam bit her lip, thinking, then seemed to come to some decision. “Maybe he just needs a little space. You know, some ‘guy time.’” She nodded with satisfaction, slapped her hands to her thighs and jumped off the stool. “Thanks for listening, Daniel.” She smiled at him and walked out of the room.
“Uh, you’re welcome…?”
Jack breezed in the door at that moment. “Well, anytime, Daniel, what’re you thanking me for?”
“I wasn’t, Sam was—”
“Come on, let’s go eat.”
“I’ve got some—”
“Yeah, you can thank me again later.” Jack plucked the pen out of Daniel’s hand and tossed it to the desk, pulling him off his chair.
“Jack, you’re a real—”
“I’ve heard that,” Jack said brightly. “Now, let’s eat.”
And with a sigh, Daniel let himself be dragged from his office.
Hands clasped comfortably behind his back, Teal’c paced the corridors under Cheyenne Mountain slowly, observing the facility winding down for the night around him. He had begun this habit shortly after being allowed free rein of the complex and had continued it to the present day, finding it immensely helpful. Not only to, as O’Neill phrased it, ‘chill out’ at the end of the day, but to connect on an informal basis with Tau’ri who otherwise might avoid the imposing jaffa.
He’d begun as usual on level 28, and on level 19, he encountered Major Carter leaving her lab.
“Hi, Teal’c. On your evening constitutional?”
“Indeed. Are you returning to your residence at this time?”
“Yep. You know the colonel: I’m only allowed to play in my lab for so long before he kicks me out. Trying to beat him to it tonight.”
“Most wise, Major Carter.”
“Although I might’ve been safe come to think of it. I think he and Daniel had plans this evening. And you know how distracted those two get once they’re together.”
Teal’c considered, one brow raised. “Indeed,” he conceded, “their conversations are frequently intense.”
“Yeah, right, their *conversations*,” Major Carter said with a grin.
Brow rising higher yet, Teal’c waited a moment to see if the major had anything to add, then gave a small bow. “Good night, Major Carter.”
“See you tomorrow, Teal’c.”
Three levels higher Teal’c still had not managed to decipher his teammate’s comment.
Rounding a corner, the jaffa came across O’Neill.
“Hey, T, calling it a night?”
Finally, a phrase with which he was familiar. “Yes, O’Neill, I am indeed calling it a night.”
“So, what’s the plan?”
“I have none, however I believe Major Carter mentioned that Daniel Jackson and yourself had plans?”
“What? Why would Daniel and I being doing anything on a weeknight? And why would she remember someone else’s plans anyhow? Must be a chick thing. Uh, don’t tell her I said that. But, no, I meant you and Carter.”
“Equally, I do not believe the major and I would have an engagement either.”
O’Neill frowned, then his countenance cleared with a smirk. “Had words, did you?” He slapped Teal’c on the back. “Take it from the pro: don’t let it fester. Go admit you were wrong.”
Teal’c floundered, his grip on the conversation lost, O’Neill’s convoluted words tipping over from merely confusing to completely incomprehensible. “O’Neill, I am unsure—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you weren’t really wrong. In fact, you probably didn’t even know there was anything to be wrong about. Trust me, there was and you were.” He slapped Teal’c’s back again and continued off down the hallway, calling back over his shoulder, “Don’t fight it, just take it like a man. Or a jaffa, as the case may be.”
Then he was gone around a corner.
Teal’c stood a moment longer, then unclasped his hands and set off at a faster pace to his quarters. He did not think it wise to risk further conversation with his teammates or indeed any Tau’ri at this time.
At 1800 hours, Sam and her two lab assistants went through what had become their customary evening ritual: Sam dismissing them for the night, Kerry and Rich insisting that they could work a little longer, Sam insisting they go home, the pair insisting that then Sam should go home too, and Sam finally ending up ordering them to leave, with a seriousness that was only partially feigned. Like Daniel, Sam tended to work better alone, and she relished the solitude their departure left in the lab.
Alone until Daniel popped his head around her doorway at least. “How’s the fixing of the Force Field Finder going?” He smirked as he strolled in, hands in pockets.
Sam grimaced at the colonel’s off-hand christening of her highly technical and precise equipment. “The Gradient Frequency Resonance Dispersion detector,” she emphasized with a disapproving scowl, “is now, and always was, working within accepted parameters.” Then she deflated with a tired grin and a shrug. “Either it just can’t detect what’s on P9S-098 or there’s nothing there to detect.”
“Need any brain-storming from a tech-unsavvy archeologist?”
“Usually yes, but I don’t think it would help in this case. Kerry, Rich and I stormed about as much as we possibly could. Mysterious white flashes aside, unless the Tok’ra give us something else to go on, I think we’re pretty much dead in the water on this one.”
“So…why’re you still here working?”
“Why indeed, Major Carter?” came Teal’c voice from behind her.
Teal’c had approached silently, using the lab’s other door, but Sam wasn’t surprised when he spoke. Ever since Jolinar, the jaffa could never truly sneak up on her. She could sense the prim’ta within him. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a nasty sensation. She wasn’t sure why the awareness of a Goa’uld that was so damn creepy in all other situations could be so comforting in her teammate. Creepy even with the Tok’ra, her dad included. Must be the knowledge that the personality, the man associated with this particular Goa’uld, ‘Junior’ to be precise, was in firm control, not the other way around.
“Hi, Teal’c,” she said.
She started to turn, swiveling around on her workbench stool, then paused with a wince at a kink in her neck. “Ow.” She reached up, intending to rub at her neck, when Teal’c fingers were suddenly there, massaging the tight muscles like an expert masseuse. She stiffened in surprise, but almost immediately melted with a groan of pleasure.
“Oh my god, Teal’c, where did you learn this?”
Daniel gave an inscrutable look to Teal’c over her head, then Sam had to close her eyes as Teal’c kneaded an especially knotty spot.
“I believe, Major Carter,” Teal’c’s deep voice rumbled behind her, “that experience is the best teacher.”
It was as if the jaffa knew every knot of tension, and exactly where to apply pressure, as if this was something he did every night. She almost wished it was, it felt so good. Unfortunately it could be compromising to be seen like this. She was an officer and, more damningly, a woman, and as much as she enjoyed this, she couldn’t accept the attention from a male comrade regardless of innocence. Thank goodness Daniel was here as chaperone. She opened her eyes to find Daniel had left without a word. She felt a blush overwhelm her fair skin.
“Where’s Daniel?” she blurted out.
“I believe he considered himself to be of more use elsewhere.”
For the second time in one day Sam began babbling at a teammate, her schoolgirl-blush deepening. “Must be this stupid stool, I could’ve sworn I got them to exchange it last week, but maybe someone snuck it back in here…”
“You have not yet answered Daniel Jackson’s question.”
What? She reviewed the conversation, shivering as strong hands manipulated her shoulder blades. Oh yeah. “I guess I don’t really need to be here…”
“Perhaps what is really required is sustenance.”
Sam gave an unladylike snort. It had taken her a long time to realize Teal’c’s speech was at its most unnecessarily convoluted when he was being playful. “Are you asking me out to dinner?”
“Technically *you* will be taking *me* out to dinner as you will be doing the driving,” Teal’c said with what could only be interpreted as smugness. “However, I should be honored to accompany you and make use my card of monetary credit to purchase this dinner.”
“All right, I accept your invitation,” Sam said, laughing and shrugging her now pain-free shoulders. “Let me get my stuff together and we’ll go.”
Jack lounged on his couch, nursing a last beer, the remains of his frozen dinner tossed on the kitchen counter. He was alone, as Daniel predicted. Of course that was hardly surprising for a weeknight. He sat there, taking an occasional swig, doing his best not to think about what just happened with Daniel back at the mountain. Jack was an expert at not thinking about stuff he didn’t want to. He’d worry about it tomorrow. Yeah, as god was his witness. He shook his head and drained the last of his beer. Good lord, reduced to channeling Scarlet O’Hara…
There was a knock at the door and he almost groaned out loud. Ten to one it was Daniel. But when he checked out the window, he saw Carter.
Once he’d opened the door she flashed him an apologetic smile. “Jack, sorry, I couldn’t find my key.”
“…Key?” He’d given a key to Daniel way back when, but had he given one to Carter? Wait a minute, did she just call him ‘Jack’?
Carter walked through the living room like she owned the place, divesting herself of purse, coat and scarf as she went. She walked on into the kitchen and wrinkled her nose at the frozen dinner tray. “What on earth did you have for dinner, colonel?”
There was a teasing quality to her voice Jack had never heard directed at himself before. He shrugged. “You know me and dinner, major. We haven’t got along in years.”
“And what about you and cleaning up the kitchen?”
“Not on speaking terms either.”
Skeptical blond brows rose. “Are you implying you need a wife to take care of you, sir?”
“Because I can think of things a lot more fun to do with a wife than expecting her to cook and clean.”
Shocked, but trying not to show it, Jack conceded, “Uh, yeah, I guess, if you’re in to that kind of thing…”
“Uh, yeah, I am into that kind of thing,” she confirmed softly.
Then she closed the distance between them.
He could’ve stopped her.
Could’ve stopped the kiss she was obviously planning to deliver. The kiss she was broadcasting on all frequencies.
He knew her left hand would cup his cheek just…*there.*
And her right hand would wind itself in his shirt front just like…*that.*
And her soft lips would press against his own just…precisely…like…*so.*
He didn’t stop her.
He let it happen.
For the second time in one day he held himself stock still in the embrace of a teammate. And when Sam’s tongue insinuated itself into his mouth, he didn’t protest as he had with Daniel. He accepted it. It wasn’t that her technique was really any better than Daniel’s. It was simply more expected. Something he’d wondered about; yes, even fantasized about on certain lonely nights.
A small part of his brain made a last ditch effort to be rational. (A really small part admittedly, but whatcha gonna do?) Really, what were the odds of both Daniel and Sam coming on to him on the same day? Had they drawn straws? And if so, who’d gotten the short one?
He pulled up for air, managing to gasp, “What is this, kiss the colonel day?”
“Oh, I hope so,” Sam sighed and dived in for more.
The attraction had been there too long to be denied; released at last it was uncontrollable. Jack stopped trying. This meant the end of SG-1 as he knew it, but he’d always known he wouldn’t fight it if Sam decided to pursue a relationship.
So he let her fingers warm his skin, let her scent fill his nostrils, let her tongue fill his mouth…
Let his blood rush down to his groin.
Dinner was just a quick bite at a Jack’s favorite diner, but Daniel enjoyed himself. It’d been awhile since he and Jack had hung out, just the two of them, and Jack seemed unusually tolerant of Daniel’s rambling digressions on why the fact that the Greek symbol ‘nabla,’ which was inscribed all over the smooth rock faces of PX3-466, and is more accurately referred to as ‘atled,’ which is of course ‘delta’ spelled backwards, should be considered just as important to the SGC as any mere weapons cache.
After dinner Jack insisted on coming into Daniel’s apartment for a nightcap.
Daniel went to the fridge for the supply of beer he kept there for Jack, but found it empty. “Funny, I thought I had a full six-pack in here for you.”
“I polished if off last week, remember?” Jack called from the living room.
Daniel, certain Jack hadn’t been over in several weeks, shrugged it off. “Um, not really. Want some wine, then?”
Coming into the living room, Daniel deposited Jack’s glass of merlot on the coffee table where the older man sat at one end of the couch. Daniel stationed himself at the other end and renewed his discussion of the nabla inscriptions. “Sorry to be ‘harping’ on the subject, which is actually a very tiresome pun which I won’t insult you by explaining, but the anadelta, which of course means upside-down delta, and might interest Sam more than you for mathematical reasons, is…” He trailed off.
Swirling his wine idly, Jack wasn’t paying attention anymore. Yes, Daniel could tell Jack’s faux inattention from the real thing.
“Um, something wrong, Jack?”
Jack eyed him as if calculating the next move in a game. “Okay, Daniel, I give up.” He put his wine down. “You win.”
“I—I do? I win what?”
“You tell me.”
“Why are you mad?”
“I—I’m not mad, Jack. I don’t know what you mean.”
“Come on, I said you win. Don’t make me crawl.” Jack slid smoothly down the couch until he sat right next to Daniel, twisting sideways to face him fully. “My patience will only stretch so far and you know what will happen then.”
Daniel could only shake his head mutely.
Jack tilted his head, his scarred brow raised in speculation. “Unless that’s what you want.” Without warning, he placed his hands to either side of Daniel’s face, coming so close that Daniel could see his own stunned features reflected in Jack’s deep brown eyes.
Expression softening, the older man whispered, “Aw, Danny. All you had to do was ask.”
He closed the final distance, pulling Daniel’s head forward and fastening their lips together.
Teal’c stood in the refuge of his quarters and contemplated the placement of his kel’no’reem candles.
They were situated in a cirna’an pattern, intended to promote healing in a time of emotional stress. And while he had considered just this configuration recently as thoughts of Cronus plagued him, he had no memory of placing them so. He walked around to view the candles from the other side.
The pattern was not quite correct. However, he was unsure if this resulted from a deficiency of proper candles, or a lack of skill in the person placing them. If the latter, Teal’c suspected Mrs. Lockhart as the culprit. Mrs. Lockhart was the member of the base’s housekeeping staff who assisted him in the upkeep of his rooms. Upon the commencement of their association, he had explained the purpose of kel’no’reem and the candles’ aid in achieving proper mental health. He had found the middle-aged grandmother an astute and perceptive student of the art, however he had never known her to disturb any of his belongings, nor did he recall demonstrating this particular formation.
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts and he called out, “Enter.”
Daniel Jackson slipped in the room, closing and locking the door behind him. “Hey,” he said softly, then sat in the room’s only chair with a sigh and began untying his boots.
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c stated, nonplused. His teammate was always welcome in the jaffa’s quarters and sometimes even joined in kel’no’reem, but he usually waited for an invitation, or at least made arrangements ahead of time. Was this what he had referred to in the locker room?
Boots thudded to the floor one after another as the archeologist grumbled, “I’ll never understand why we have to wear such heavy boots on base…” He looked up at Teal’c and smiled. “So, you mind if I drop in for a minute?”
Teal’c looked to the removed footwear as socks joined the pile, doubting the archeologist’s time estimate. Something in the other man’s smile clouded the jaffa’s mind and, without remembering he had just passed both their remaining teammates in the hallway leaving for the night, he asked, “Will O’Neill and Major Carter be joining us?”
“Oh, I think they have plans of their own, don’t you?”
Again Daniel Jackson’s face held an atypical smile. He began unbuttoning his outer shirt.
Teal’c attempted to rally and speak coherently. “I believe they do not. In fact the major thought yourself and O’Neill to have plans.”
Daniel Jackson snorted, removing the shirt. “Probably some physical training Jack thought up to torture me with. Thank god I made it in here in time; he knows better than to interrupt us in your quarters.”
Teal’c was quite confident that O’Neill knew no such thing, but continued stubbornly on, “…and O’Neill thought Major Carter and I…” only to trail off, staring blankly as Daniel Jackson stood and stripped his black t-shirt off over his head.
“Is he still on that co-ed joke? He doesn’t know when to quit.” Bare chest smooth and glowing in the few candles already lit, Daniel Jackson walked up to Teal’c. “Guess I don’t know when to quit either,” he observed, and wrapped his arms around the jaffa, pressing his half-naked body close.
After 95 years of training and experience, Teal’c liked to think he was prepared for any attack. However an attack from Daniel Jackson in the form of a hug was one for which even a century of experience had not readied him.
He had two possible recourses. The first, to return the embrace. The second, to spurn it.
He did not wish to spurn it.
However, returning it… Did the young scholar truly propose an intimate relationship between the two of them? Or was this a form of innocent brotherhood Teal’c had not yet witnessed among the Tau’ri?
The jaffa withdrew to arm’s length. “Daniel Jackson. This is…surprising.”
“I know, but I promise to be quiet. No one knows I’m here.” The archeologist frowned at his teammate. “I’m not *always* noisy you know.”
Teal’c felt his usual expressionless mask slipping, and he looked intently at the other’s upturned face, searching for clues to this new Tau’ri riddle.
Daniel’s frown cleared and he stared up at Teal’c as if at a work of art. He cupped a hand to the jaffa’s cheek. “When you look like that, you are so beautiful,” he whispered.
Teal’c stiffened with shock. In his many years he had been called a number of things, some complimentary, some not, but never had he been called beautiful. Not by his mother, not by his wife, and certainly not by a brother-in-arms.
Daniel gazed at him with a look the archeologist usually reserved for precious glyphs and inscriptions. That such an expression should be directed at Teal’c…
Unnerved, the jaffa failed to react as the young man again closed the distance between them and pressed their lips together in a kiss that began slow and gentle, but soon intensified. With no conscious decision made, Teal’c found himself returning the kiss, and when Daniel’s tongue flicked against his own, Teal’c embraced the other man, pulling him so close that he was unsure from whom the resulting moan issued.
By the time Sam and Teal’c left the bistro it was after 2200 hours: pretty late to be taking the jaffa back to the mountain.
“Teal’c, would you like to bunk down at my place tonight?” Sam asked, thinking she could set Teal’c up on the living room couch.
Teal’c answered in a good-natured rumble, “Bunking down with you would be eminently satisfactory, Major Carter.”
Sam grinned, unsure if Teal’c understood the double-entendre he’d just made, but enjoying the humor either way. The jaffa had been like this all evening. Easy-going, talkative even. Well, talkative for Teal’c anyway.
Fighting her way through a downtown intersection that was busy even at this time of night, Sam’s cell phone went off. She answered it without checking the caller-ID. “Carter.”
“Major.” It was Colonel O’Neill. “I thought we were meeting at Louie’s.” And he didn’t sound happy.
“We were?” Sam’s mind raced. Damn, she didn’t remember making any arrangements with him. “I’m sorry, sir, I guess I forgot.”
There was a long pause. “You forgot,” he stated.
“Teal’c needed some fresh air and I took him to that bistro on Fourth.” There was no response. “Um, well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow morning, sir.”
After a pause so long Sam wondered if the connection had been dropped, the colonel finally said, “All right,” and terminated the call. His voice sounded strange, but with the traffic noise, Sam couldn’t be sure.
She sighed as she returned the phone to its pouch. “Great, Carter,” she muttered. “Way to piss off the boss.”
Unperturbed, Teal’c said, “Do not concern yourself with O’Neill, Major Carter. He will understand our need for time alone.”
“Uh, I guess so, Teal’c.”
When they arrived at Sam’s bungalow, she placed a couple afghans on the arm of the living room couch, then excused herself to the bathroom, cleaning up and changing into the extra-large flannel nightshirt she wore to sleep. She came out to check on Teal’c before going to bed and was surprised to find him standing at the front window, gazing out at the dark street.
“Uh, Teal’c? Do you need anything else?”
He turned and Sam’s breath caught in her throat. What was it about the way he looked at her? Not a specific expression so much as a softening of his features, making him seem so much more human. His black eyes glittered with a depth of emotion Sam had never seen in him. She didn’t always think of him as a man, as a sexual being that is. A comrade in arms, of course, a friend, absolutely, but a potential romantic partner…? How many times had they shared a tiny tent? And Teal’c had always been a perfect gentleman, practically to the point of emasculation.
But maybe she was just reading too much into a simple look—
“Samantha, I wish to make love,” he stated.
Uh, no, she was reading it correctly, all right.
Sam cleared her throat. “Teal’c…this is very sudden.”
Teal’c’s brow rose with amusement. “Daniel Jackson has explained the concept of ‘cherche la femme’ and the necessity of renewing the chase.”
Sam’s brow rose in turn. Teal’c speaking French was unusual to say the least. And, undeniably, a bit thrilling…
She shook her head to clear it. “Teal’c, how are you and Dray’ac doing?”
“Ah,” he said, as if this answered some question he’d been pondering. He smiled and walked to her. “Dray’ac and I function as husband and wife in conjunction to Ry’ac, but in no other sense. This has not changed.”
Teal’c approached, his eyes like pools of jet, deep with decades of experience, and Sam took a breath, trying to use that big brain she was so damn proud of, trying not to be swamped by emotion like some foolish schoolgirl.
Of course she had considered all three of her teammates’ romantic potential. She was, after all, as she often smugly observed to Janet, working with the three best looking men in the SGC. But both Daniel and Teal’c had initially been quite emphatically married, and the colonel, all Antarctica sidearm jokes aside, obviously still very much in love with his ex-wife. In fact as Colonel O’Neill lay dying in Antarctica, Sam had filled in for Sara and it was hardly a romantic moment. She had felt only sorrow that she couldn’t save him and gratitude that the role-playing was at least one small thing she could do.
Besides, in the beginning Sam was too preoccupied with a battle for respect, as a scientist and a woman officer. And considering Jonas ‘Lunatic-Fringe’ Hanson, her track record on boyfriends left something to be desired. So she’d put carnal considerations out of her mind.
Teal’c and Daniel she’d designated to the role of siblings. Big and little brothers to share the hardships and joys of this unusual life they led, without the complication of romance. As for the colonel, she called him ‘sir’ and he called her ‘Carter’ and they kept their relationship on a simple superior/subordinate level.
Seeing Teal’c’s dark eyes fixed on her now, she was forcibly reminded of the sheer maleness of the jaffa and her sensible view of her ‘big brother’ began to fray around the edges.
Still, the colonel had always been the logical man to pursue, if pursue a man she must. Teal’c was an alien, hardly husband material. No friends, family or influence on Earth. A match-maker’s nightmare. She had to think of her future, right? To an ambitious Air Force officer, a relationship with a man meant marriage, and marriage meant a collaboration to further the partners’ respective careers. Nothing more. No room for base emotion, or, heaven forbid, *love,* in such an exacting equation as her life plan.
After all, there was no such thing as a ‘private life’ for a female officer. Everything reflected on a woman, infinitely more so than a man. Such was the wisdom of her fellow women officers. They warned of the risks of poor associations. Even Janet admitted that while the standards female officers were held to were offensive, no amount of railing at ‘this man’s army’ would change that, at least not in their lifetimes.
In fact, just checking Teal’c out of the mountain this evening and keeping him out all night was dangerous. The rumor mill was vicious. It could chew you up and spit you out, your reputation, and chances for advancement, in ruins.
So Sam took a breath and mentally quashed her libido.
Teal’c came to a halt in front of her, standing so close their shirt fronts touched. “Samantha, your eyes call to mind the sky I witnessed on Chulak once as a young man.”
His low voice vibrated through her breast, deep down to her core.
“It was high noon on a day of such peace and warmth that I wondered how pain or fear could exist in the face of such perfection.”
He ran a gentle finger along her cheek up to her temple leaving a track of heat behind.
*Ah, damn it.*
Reason fled, and when he bent down to kiss her, she rose to meet him.
Jack fell back on his bed, stripped of his clothes at the capable hands of his 2IC. In fact she seemed to have somehow stripped them both simultaneously and when she climbed up his body, nude and kissing and rubbing as she went, he could only moan helplessly, too enthralled by her ministrations to consider doing any touching himself.
He thought he couldn’t get any harder, but realized he was wrong when a hot moist tongue slid up his dick, two taut-nippled breasts trailing behind along his sensitive inner thighs.
Shit! Jack was almost afraid to touch her, afraid of breaking whatever spell was making this happen, but he grabbed at her shoulders now with a choked cry. He wasn’t going to last if she kept that up.
Sam didn’t disappear at his touch. She merely sat up with a not very respectful giggle. Scooting forward until she straddled his groin, she rubbed her pussy full-length along his stiff cock, the warm wetness there slipping and sliding.
She eased up his body, his belly, his chest, her trailing essence claiming him, marking him, his hair matted and damp in her wake.
He couldn’t believe this was real, that he finally had permission to look at all that smooth alabaster skin. He squirmed and gasped, speechless.
Of course he wasn’t a big talker in bed even under less bizarre circumstances.
Sam smiled down at him, stroking his jaw with a look so open Jack’s breath caught. Then she moved farther up yet and letting him nuzzle her generous triangle of blonde fur. He breathed deep, relishing the feminine scent he had only caught hints of before.
She sighed, riding higher and Jack ran his tongue along her intimate flesh, teasing soon graduating to eager laps and, her fingers fisted in his hair, she arched like a cat, hips thrusting. Jack lapped deeper, and she cried, “Oh god, Jack,” riding his tongue, thighs trembling with effort to either side of his head.
Eventually, with a sigh, Sam collapsed down, curling to reach his face, licking him clean, her tongue dominating his mouth, sharing the taste of her own sweetness.
Holding his gaze, Sam eased back down his body until he groaned with need. Her delicate fingers took his stiff cock, holding it upright and steady as she slowly impaled herself on him.
He arched his back, crying out in shock as she buried him to the hilt. He closed his eyes, giving himself over to his other senses, smelling the sharp citrus of her shampoo mixed now with clean sweat, hearing her rhythmic sighs as she rode his ever hardening length, feeling the feathery touch of fingertips on his nipples, teasing them into pebble-like hardness, alternating with soft tugs on his chest hairs.
Jack opened his eyes and found her face flushed, eyes fastened on his, hair sweat-darkened. He felt he had never seen her so beautiful and he slipped his arms between hers and took her breasts in cupped hands, gently squeezing and rolling her nipples between thumbs and forefingers. She rolled her head back, letting out a moan, grinding down hard as Jack rose to meet her.
“Jack, my love.”
His voice broke and Sam fell forward, grasping Jack’s face, kissing as she increased the speed and strength of her rhythm.
And when she thrust her tongue deep within his mouth, Jack thrust his cock up in counterpoint, deep within her. Then she jerked, stiffening, convulsing, and Jack followed her, straining upward as she ground downward and the two of them clutched at one another, drawing out the kiss as long as possible even as they cried out, seemingly in one voice.
An indeterminate time later they lay cuddled together, limp and spent.
“Thank you, Major Carter,” Jack whispered drowsily.
There was a soft laugh. “No, thank *you,* Colonel O’Neill.”
Daniel was overwhelmed.
That kiss, that eternity of a kiss which lasted until his very thoughts were sucked away along with his breath…
Jack’s kiss, *Jack’s mouth.*
Jack moved on, lips and tongue traveling, Daniel’s skin alive and burning everywhere Jack had visited: Daniel’s face, his throat, his collarbone, his navel, wait, wasn’t he wearing a shirt?…oh, the shirt was gone, when did that happen?...and now the jeans and boxers were gone and oh god the man’s hands were everywhere…
Daniel was pulled up, guided to his bedroom. He began to object and got a mouthful of Jack’s tongue, Jack’s tongue which touched and flicked and caressed and sweet god how did he know what that did to Daniel?
Daniel was overwhelmed.
With sexual attention, yes, but more than that.
With kindness, gentleness, respect.
Daniel knew, despite his own harping on the subject while on a sarcophagus high, that Jack truly did respect him. Daniel wouldn’t have been on the team, wouldn’t have been listened to, however impatiently on occasion. Jack was all about actions, not words. He didn’t tell you things, he showed you. So yes, Daniel knew intellectually that Jack respected him, but to have that respect, that consideration, physically manifested all over his naked body…
He groaned, feeling his control slipping away from him.
He tried to hide, but Jack wasn’t making that easy. His commanding officer pursued him with preternatural skill, reading him like a field maneuvers manual. Everywhere Daniel tried to maintain his walls, his barriers, Jack was there first. Daniel ducked his head in hunched shoulders, but Jack’s nipping teeth found the sensitive edges of his ears and drew him unwillingly out, like a turtle from its shell. Daniel shifted his chest away, but Jack’s tongue found his nipples, licking and twiddling until Daniel lay gasping and splayed, stretched out and helpless as a sacrifice on an altar.
Jack found places that hadn’t been touched since Shau’ri, places Daniel didn’t think would ever be touched again. And not just physically, but emotionally.
“Shh, everything’s okay,” Jack murmured in Daniel’s ear. “I got you, baby.”
Why was Jack calling him baby? And why did Jack calling him baby warm him rather than annoy him?
The massage, if you could call it that when tongue and lips joined fingers, continued until Daniel was limp everywhere with contentment. Everywhere, with one important exception. An exception that Jack enveloped with his warm mouth without warning, making Daniel rear up with a cry, arching from head to heels, like a tight drawn bow.
Jack belatedly grabbed the archeologist’s hips, withdrawing with a choked splutter, then chuckling. “My, you are in a mood, aren’t you?”
And the tongue returned, soothing and provoking, calming and irritating.
The military man suppressed Daniel’s objections as if suppressing lines of hostile fire, reducing the archeologist to gasps and groans.
Then Daniel felt his legs folded up by sure hands and there was a slickness at his asshole and, with infinite tenderness, a gradually increasing pressure and suddenly a fullness he’d never known, never imagined.
Daniel was overwhelmed.
It was almost too much. Jack was the most important person in his life, the most important since his parents. In some ways more important than Shau’ri. It was Jack he turned to when in trouble, when he needed advice, guidance; the first person he thought of, best friend, hero, big brother, and father figure all rolled up into one. The man was in his face, in his mind, and now in his body—god, *inside his very body,* causing such exquisite pain, such exquisite pleasure—
Daniel writhed, breath coming in sobs.
He felt Jack had pierced his very soul, torn his defenses from him, laid him open like a fillet, and forced joy upon him; the capacity for joy Daniel had kept tamped down, hidden under layers of strata like the dusty deposits of a thousand years turned to rock, and now shattered…
And Daniel shattered.
Jack thrust so hard and so deep that Daniel splintered, broke apart, come exploding out of him as Jack burst within him, the older man’s essence pouring in, and Daniel’s own orgasm rolling on, come long spent, but waves of sensation crashing over him so intense it seemed more pain than pleasure, and he was almost glad when Jack slowed to a stop, the two men panting in a tight embrace, his awareness fading save for the conviction that he was held safe in loving arms as he slept.
Teal’c shivered with astonishment as much as arousal.
Daniel Jackson ran a tongue along the jaffa’s jaw up to his ear, nuzzling and nipping softly and Teal’c quieted a moan with difficulty.
Daniel paused his nuzzling long enough to hold Teal’c’s face gently, a teasing smile playing on his soft lips. “Tel ma te, ona cre’on,” he said.
A lovers’ greeting? Addressed to his love? To *Teal’c*?
Teal’c let Daniel’s hands guide him into another deep kiss.
“Are you feeling lore’em, my love?” Daniel murmured directly into Teal’c’s mouth.
The Goa’uld word ‘lore’em’ had no direct English translation: dreamy thoughtfulness, perhaps; pensive, but with dispirited overtones.
Lips caressing and vibrating against the sensitive skin of Teal’c’s throat, Daniel spoke in the jaffa’s native tongue: *Be calm, my warrior. Let another bear your burdens for a time. Let me tend to your needs.*
‘Calm’ was not an adjective of which Teal’c felt capable at this time, as he absorbed the soft words straight through his tingling skin and the archeologist’s sure fingers began unfastening the jaffa’s pants.
Daniel guided the clothes down, leaving nothing in their wake but Teal’c himself, his bare, brown skin, his full manhood, jutting high, but effectively impotent in the face of Daniel’s domineering control of Teal’c’s body. Kneeling, Daniel stroked and teased the stiff staff with his hands, then, standing up, drew the jaffa’s shirt up and off.
With a kiss, Daniel turned away to Teal’c’s bureau and pulled the tal shak kek from a top drawer. How the archeologist knew the wrap was there Teal’c could not guess. Its purpose was to enshroud the prim’ta pouch, rendering the larvae powerless to cause mischief during a sexual coupling. Teal’c still had the wrap at hand, unused after all these years with the Tau’ri, available for sexual encounters which had never occurred. Regardless, Daniel wrapped the long silken cloth around and around Teal’c’s abdomen.
With the tal shak kek tied off, Daniel quickly dropped his own pants, and, both naked, the two men embraced, erect penises clashing and rubbing.
Teal’c was no stranger to the concept or physical enactment of masculine sex. He’d enjoyed many rough encounters with peers as well as punitive or appreciative encounters with superiors seeking to demonstrate that superiority.
Teal’c himself as first prime had fulfilled such disciplinary office as expected of him, executing his duty with no cruelty, but a dispassionate efficiency designed for the sexual enjoyment of all parties.
In the beginning of his time here on Earth he had wondered if the Tau’ri had similar ways. Indeed, if O’Neill had sought to stake his dominance, Teal’c would have submitted willingly. Teal’c was certain O’Neill would have been as fair and considerate as Bra’tac had been in Teal’c’s younger years, and as Teal’c himself was when first prime. In fact, Teal’c expected all three subordinate members of SG-1 to receive proof positive of O’Neill’s authority, but he soon realized this was not the Tau’ri way. A disappointing reality, as sexual intercourse with his energetic team leader would have been most welcome. Teal’c accepted this, but unfortunately it was indicative of Tau’ri close-mindedness on sexual matters in general, which even more unfortunately for Teal’c, led directly to a lack of opportunities among his fellow soldiers, female as well as male in the case of this world’s military force.
These and other Tau’ri mores were patiently explained to him by Daniel Jackson in the early days of his time with the SGC. Teal’c was grateful. Daniel Jackson had explained with no euphemisms, no confusing figures of speech, speaking clearly and unambiguously, albeit blushingly at times. All this to a man who had participated in the kidnapping and enslavement of his wife…and who later was solely responsible for her death.
Daniel slid back down Teal’c’s body, past the silk wrap. He took Teal’c’s eager manhood in his mouth and Teal’c fisted his hands at his sides, groaning as he resisted thrusting into that warm orifice. Daniel sucked and probed with tongue and teeth. Finishing with a last long suck that brought Teal’c to his toes, Daniel stood and took Teal’c’s face gently in his hands.
“On your bed,” Daniel ordered, his voice soft, but uncompromising.
Teal’c complied without a second thought, and when he climbed onto the bunk and Daniel commanded, “On your face, ona cre’on,” Teal’c obeyed again, instinctively pulling his legs up, submitting to this man he had so wronged. To whom he owed so much and who now spoke to him with such sympathy and understanding that he could only huddle on the blankets, muscles twitching.
Sweat trickled down the skin of his flanks to be promptly lapped up by Daniel’s tongue, and Teal’c could no longer pretend that his muscles were merely twitching: he was trembling, pure and simple.
The bed shifted directly behind him and Daniel Jackson’s talented tongue licked a long slow stroke from testicles to anus. Teal’c bit down hard on a pillow, face pressed to muffle the hoarse cry torn from him.
He heard Daniel spit and knew the archeologist was coating his own manhood. Jaffa did not use lubrication when engaging in penetrative sex, and when Daniel pressed his stiff penis to Teal’c’s entrance, he was not gentle. The archeologist rammed in immediately, burying himself in a few hard strokes, his own cries joining Teal’c’s.
The young Tau’ri was rough and aggressive, the pace he set demanding.
And Teal’c loved it.
He craved it, ached for it, had gone so long without it. Such was the ‘love’ of jaffa soldiers.
Daniel was human and therefore not as strong as even the weakest of Teal’c old comrades, but what he lacked in strength he made up for with the sheer precision of his efforts.
Teal’c had not felt so vulnerable, so aroused, in many a long year. Even his time with Dray’ac did not compare, their relationship one of commitment, honor, and enjoyable sex, but not heartfelt passion or love on either of their parts.
Daniel shoved inward repeatedly, hard and deep, filling Teal’c, inundating him. Kindness replacing hate, love replacing pain, forgiveness replacing guilt, the young scholar’s bright soul flooding Teal’c’s spirit even as his physical organ filled Teal’c’s body.
Teal’c felt Daniel as if he were an inexorable force, a force of light displacing all dark in its path, Teal’c himself releasing his toxic burden of guilt with every gasp and moan.
Daniel murmured in Teal’c’s ear, words gentle even as his body was brutal, voice becoming strained as his tempo increased. Goa’uld and English muddled in the linguist’s passion, eventually reduced to ragged gasps of no language Teal’c knew, then the jaffa’s keening groan drowned out even this.
A fluttering began deep within Teal’c’s being, a flicker that sparked to a roaring conflagration within moments and he realized with something akin to panic that this would be an orgasm unlike any he’d experienced or imagined before: a rolling inferno consuming all in its wake, and he teetered in its path, denying it, holding to his tattered control…
Then Daniel reached down and seized Teal’c’s rigid manhood, his grip sure and tight and uncompromising, and Teal’c surrendered, let the fire burst across him, through him, his seed surging out of him as Daniel’s surged within, his body shuddering from the heat and flame, dimly aware of a bite at his shoulder as Daniel muffled his howl of release, Teal’c’s own hoarse scream absorbed by his sweat-soaked pillow.
Then he drowsed as Daniel soothed him, withdrew from him, turned him on his side and drew a blanket over their cooling bodies, the linguist’s store of endearments reduced to a sleepy repetitious murmur of ‘ona cre’on,’ and Teal’c slipped into a twilight state of contentment as Daniel snored softly behind him.
If Sam didn’t let Teal’c take her to bed, nothing could happen, right?
She panted in the jaffa’s strong embrace, her rational brain trying to make itself heard.
Nice girls don’t just jump in the sack with men at the drop of a hat, not even men they’d known and worked with for years. She tried to pull back, but Teal’c’s warm fingers slid up under her nightshirt to stroke her underarms and she shivered at the ticklish touch.
How did he know what that did to her?
Nice girls don’t like to have their armpits touched. It’s nasty and coarse and Sam lifted her arms, gripping Teal’c’s shoulders, giving him more room to operate.
He smiled softly, ranging his skittering touch alongside her breasts, then tiddling and squeezing at her nipples. The sensitive flesh hardened and Sam bit her lip to hold in a moan.
Nice girls don’t moan. She should be talking, right? About ground rules and expectations and relationships… It was the logical thing for two adults to do.
After all, nice girls like nice gentlemen who treat them right and keep them up on a pedestal—
Teal’c ripped the flannel shirt open, buttons flying, and fastened his lips to her right nipple, sucking hard, and Sam flung her head back, letting the moan burst out.
No, nice girls certainly don’t do any of those vulgar things.
And nice girls don’t play with chemistry sets or oily machines or take car engines apart to see how they work, and they certainly don’t do those things better than their would-be boyfriends, and they definitely don’t drive motorcycles with 160 horsepower engines thrumming and vibrating between their legs.
But right now she wasn’t a nice girl.
“Ah, Samantha, ona calak…” The deep voice thrummed through her, right down to her crotch, leaving it warm and tingling.
No, right now she wasn’t nice, she was simply Samantha.
And Teal’c wasn’t a nice gentleman. He was downright dangerous in fact. He was big and he was strong; he was unpredictable and he could do a considerable amount of damage if he had a mind to.
Sam shuddered as Teal’c fastened his mouth to her other breast, tongue, teeth and lips working in concert.
When Teal’c paused long enough to pull his own clothes off, Sam saw he wore a silken cloth wrapped snug around his larval pouch, apparently protecting her from the juvenile, but still treacherous Goa’uld within. Confident bastard, wasn’t he? But her self-righteous snipe was cut off, turned into another moan as he drew her back to him, pressing powerful lips to the pulse point of her throat. Besides, he wasn’t exactly *over*-confident, now was he? He had her right where he wanted her: groaning with her head lolling back, and as he jerked her panties off with one smooth sweep, Sam couldn’t begin to articulate an objection.
His hands locked under her butt, Teal’c picked Sam up as if she were a child, and backed her up against a wall, the textured paint cool against her over-heated back.
Sam was no lightweight, she knew that. She was tall for a woman and years of physical activity had left her proud of her compact muscles, but in Teal’c’s arms she felt as light and powerless as a feather, releasing the last vestige of ‘Major Carter,’ the last vestige of control.
He held her high, her wet cunt poised just above his ready cock and she squirmed, willing him to drop her down, desperate to feel all of him, all he had to offer.
He was big; god, he was big.
But Sam was ready; god, she was ready.
And when he impaled her, when he thrust up as he let her plunge down, she slipped onto him like she belonged there, legs wrapping tight around his waist, shuddering as he crowded her from the inside out, pleasure rippling through her body, until the last thoughts of career goals were pushed out and good riddance.
With Sam leaning back against the wall, mounted on his cock, Teal’c’s large capable hands were free, and he took full advantage. The ridiculously practical flannel nightshirt was long gone and her supersensitive skin lay exposed and available to every little whim, and the jaffa’s little whims seemed to produce large effects.
He stroked and flitted and pinched his fingers over every inch of flesh until she sat pinned against the wall, her arms up in brazen surrender.
The thought flitted across Sam’s physicist’s mind, to wonder at the ratio of cause and effect for such large hands to wield such a precise touch, then Teal’c bent, gathered up a breast, took a hardened nipple between his teeth and rational thought once again flew away.
His hands returned to her head and he guided her into a kiss, his tongue diving deep and possessively into her mouth.
All too soon Teal’c’s hips began to thrust and Sam tightened her gripping legs, grinding herself against him. The two groaned in concert as Sam was gradually jerked up the wall, each thrust driving her higher and closer to completion. Then, releasing her mouth with a grunt that was almost a snarl, Teal’c gripped her shoulders, wrapping his hands around from behind, wrenching her down hard as he rammed up, crying hoarsely in his native tongue, his head thrown back. As he swelled and burst inside of her, Sam arched, screaming his name, breasts pressed hard against his chest, pleasure rebounding, expanding through her body, leaving her shuddering and gyrating on the white-hot point of his cock.
A panting eternity later, his softening cock still in her cunt, Teal’c cradled Sam tenderly against him, carrying her into the bedroom, her head resting on his shoulder. They climbed into the bed, nestling together. Sam peered up at him after a moment, but his eyes were closed. She shrugged, snuggling down with a smile. Seemed men were men all the galaxy over: even jaffa dozed off immediately after lovemaking.
As she herself began to drift off, she wondered sleepily what that phrase Teal’c had used meant, when he had called her *ona calak.* Maybe later she could ask Daniel—uh, on second thought, maybe she would try to figure that particular factoid out on her own.
Secure in the strong and warm embrace of her teammate, Sam’s smile faded as sleep overtook her.
The next morning, as Jack leaned over to sign in at the Mountain’s upper level guard station, he heard a low voice off to his side.
“Hey, Jack…and Sam.”
He glanced up, startled to find Daniel watching with a scowl as Jack and Sam worked their way through security.
They had woken up late, rushed through their showers and drove in together. Jack had let Sam natter on about the mysterious missing force field, still too stunned at the lightening fast change in his life to string a coherent sentence together.
Sam finished signing in and the two of them walked over to Daniel.
Daniel had a look on his face that Jack had trouble placing at first. Probably because he had never imagined such an expression would be aimed at him by the archeologist. An expression that could almost be mistaken for jealousy if he didn’t know such a thing was crazy.
“And what were you two doing so early this fine morning?” Daniel asked loudly, cold blue eyes shifting back and forth between the two of them.
Jack opened his mouth to respond but it was just as well Sam beat him to it; what the hell could he really say?
Sam laughed, then chided softly, “*Daniel!*” looking around. “What do you *think*?” They all stood close together and Sam continued quietly, “Late nights make for late mornings. We barely made it out of bed in time to get here for the briefing.”
Jack stared at her. He couldn’t believe how frank she was being.
Apparently neither could Daniel.
The archeologist rounded on Jack, his face reddening. “You goddamn son of a bitch,” he hissed. “You couldn’t have told me to my face last night? You had to sneak around behind my back? And you, Sam, I would’ve expected better from you.”
Sam’s playful smile had vanished and she stared at her fellow scientist in alarm. “Daniel, what are you talking about? Did you and Teal’c have a fight?”
“Jack, you are one sorry—” Then Daniel did a double take back to Sam. “Wh-what? Why would Teal’c and I…? What are you talking about?”
Sam shook her head helplessly. “Daniel, I just don’t understand why you’re so upset.”
“You don’t understand why…?” Daniel’s outraged glare pinned them for a second longer, then suddenly dissolved into an expression of hurt and disappointment so deep that Jack’s post-coital high evaporated completely. A second later Daniel had spun around and taken off down into the bowels of the mountain.
This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted to pursue a relationship with Carter. Well, not this exactly. He didn’t expect actual jealously from anyone, but resentment over perceived favoritism… Something like this could tear a team apart and SG-1 was too important for that, both as a team and as…his family. He was prepared to lose those closest to him on a field of battle, but not because of a selfish pursuit of pleasure.
Jack and Carter rode the elevator down in silence, Carter looking as bewildered as Daniel had looked hurt.
She stopped the elevator on Level 21. “I—I think I’ll go talk to Janet. Maybe she knows what’s going on with Daniel.”
Alone in the elevator car, Jack scrubbed at his face with a groan and considered his options.
One: Do nothing. Ignore the whole situation and maybe they’d both come to their senses. Well, it *could* be that easy…
Two: Let Carter and Daniel fight it out. Jack was thinking a big tub of mud and a video camera…
He groaned louder and banged his head on the wall. Okay, seriously.
Three: Confront Carter. Was she really willing to give up her position with the SGC possibly, her spot on SG-1 definitely for a relationship with Jack? They were in the same chain of command, something the Air Force would never allow. Jack had no desire either to lie or give up his position.
Or four: Decide which one of his two geeks he wanted. Let the other one go, then be left with a glorified fuck-buddy and an SG-1 consisting Teal’c and himself, because neither Carter nor Daniel would stay if the other left under those circumstances.
He banged his head one last time before the doors opened.
Why had they both picked the same day to apparently fall in love with him? Jack was as self-confident as the next smartass Air Force colonel, but even he knew that this stretched the realm of possibility way past the breaking point.
Had the two of them accidentally drunk Love Potion No. 9? Or was it he himself who’d had some kind of … spell of irresistibility cast over him?
Crap, he’d better keep his distance from Teal’c.
Daniel woke to a tickly nose and the smell of coffee. He rubbed at his face with a sleep-clumsy hand, and a deep chuckle sounded inches from his ear. Bleary blinking revealed a smirking Jack reclining beside him in his bed, waving a steaming mug back and forth under his nose.
“The one and only.”
Daniel began to slide up to sit against the headboard, then stopped when he realized he was still naked under the sheet. He saw Jack wore a t-shirt and boxers, and almost demanded that the other man leave the room so he could change when he realized how ridiculous that would sound considering what they’d been up to last night. He continued to slide up, carefully keeping the sheet in place. He took the mug and downed a grateful gulp.
“Thank you for last night,” Jack said. “I loved the game.”
“Game?” Daniel felt a chill and gripped his mug tighter.
Jack quirked a brow. “Seduce the Shy Archeologist? One of my favorites.”
“I—a game? You—I—you think that was a game?”
Not in the least repentant, Jack only smiled, his brown eyes alert, but warm. “Are we still playing, love?”
Daniel shook his head in confusion, then asked inanely, “What time is it?”
“Um, oh-eight… Eight-fifty a.m.? Don’t we have a debrief to go to at nine?”
It was Jack’s turn to shake his head, albeit in concern, not confusion. “We’re not leaving until you tell me what’s up with you.”
“But the debrief…?”
“I postponed it to let you sleep a little longer.”
“You let me sleep late? Now I know something’s odd.”
“What exactly is odd?”
“Um…” Daniel swept his hand down and around, generally indicating their respective states of undress and the unspoken reasons therefore, his brows rising in a ‘duh’ expression.
Jack just stared, his own brows lowering. “What?”
Just then, there was crash and a shuddering bang from the living room, followed immediately by Sam’s voice rising in an uncharacteristic shrill, “Teal’c! If you’d just tell me what’s wrong—”
Jack said, “What the hell—?”
The bedroom door flew open with a shuddering bang of its own and Teal’c stalked into the room, trailed by Sam. Jack jumped up and placed himself between the glowering jaffa and the bed. Daniel, coffee dregs sloshing, clutched the bed sheets tighter like some kind of ridiculous Harlequin romance heroine.
“O’Neill, explain yourself,” Teal’c growled.
After a short silence, came Jack’s deceptive drawl, “No, actually, I’m thinking maybe you should explain yourself, Teal’c.”
“Have you engaged Daniel Jackson in sexual intercourse?” the jaffa demanded.
Daniel gaped as Jack’s back straightened.
“Not that it’s any business of yours,” Jack said, “but, yes.”
Sinking lower, Daniel pulled up his sheet, then noticed a wet coffee splash had adhered to his crotch, leaving nothing to the imagination.
“Then you leave me no choice,” Teal’c stated. “O’Neill, I call you out for kra’noc.”
“For craw what?” Jack asked.
Daniel paused in his distracted plucking at the sheet. “Kra’noc is a traditional jaffa duel to restore honor.”
“Why?” Jack drawled to Teal’c.
“You have violated the honor of my ona calak.”
Daniel, automatically in linguist mode, responded, “‘Ona calak:’ literally ‘my true soul.’ A loved one, not spouse, but in some ways deeper than that. You see it’s actually quite fascinating—”
“And who is this oma cowlick?” Jack demanded.
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.
“Yes?” Daniel answered vaguely, trying without success to shift the wet patch on the tight-stretched sheet off his crotch. As fascinating as all this was, Daniel was beginning to wonder if he could get them to move it to the living room long enough for him to get dressed. He suddenly realized everyone was staring at him. “What?”
Teal’c spoke, his words sad and slow, “Ona calak, that you consider this a subject of no consequence pains me more than I thought possible.”
“Ona calak?” Daniel sputtered. “Ona calak, me?”
“Ona calak, him?” Sam sputtered in turn, apparently as stunned as Daniel.
The archeologist shook his head weakly. “You consider me…? You believe that I’m your…*ona calak*?”
“I neither consider nor believe,” Teal’c said firmly. “I know this to be true. You are my soul.”
Sam stared wide-eyed at Teal’c. “And when were you planning to tell me?”
Jack frowned at Daniel. “And me?”
“Is this why you were so weird last night?” Jack demanded. “Trying to tell me it was over, but couldn’t get up the nerve?”
“I—what? What was over?”
Teal’c said to Jack, “You have had other assignations with Daniel Jackson?”
“That would be a big yes.”
“No!” Daniel shouted. “That would be a big no! A big, big no!”
Jack looked at him in disbelief. “You can sit there and deny…?”
Teal’c’s glowered deepened. “Your falseness is indeed surprising, Daniel Jackson.”
“Damn straight,” Jack said.
“As is yours against your true love, O’Neill,” Teal’c continued.
“Huh? My true what?”
Sam stood arms akimbo, blue eyes narrowed at her male teammates. “Um, hello? Does anyone remember me?”
Daniel, numb with confusion at this point, raised a finger without looking up. “Uh yeah, Sam, I sure do.” He juggled sheet and mug, wishing he had his glasses, his clothes and a body not sticky with fresh coffee and old semen.
With an accusatory glare, Sam said, “Daniel, this is not what I meant when I said Teal’c needed more guy time.”
“But I didn’t—I had nothing to do with—”
Teal’c interrupted him, emotion making his normally stoic voice harsh, “Daniel Jackson, you pledged yourself to me.”
Bewildered, Jack said, “Danny, you swore you loved me.”
“You too? Sam, did I plight my troth to you as well?”
Sam folded her arms, focusing her glare on Teal’c. “No, but Teal’c sure did.”
Teal’c looked nonplussed for the first time. “Your words make no sense.”
“Look who’s talking,” Daniel muttered.
“Major Carter, I have done no such thing,” Teal’c stated.
Daniel raised his brows. “Now who’s the false one?”
Gesturing at Sam, Jack said to Teal’c, “Well, looks like you already got yourself a honey, why do you need mine?”
“On the contrary, O’Neill, it is you who have a…honey, in the person of Samantha Carter.”
“Right, just play Hot Potato with me, why don’t you?” Sam spat, her folded arms tightening.
“Carter? My honey?” Jack said, apparently scandalized by the idea. “That’s against regs!”
“Oh and fucking me wasn’t?” Daniel asked, quite reasonably he thought.
All three of his teammates rounded on him and Daniel decided being glared at by three angry soldiers while sitting naked in a bed was not conducive to a high comfort level.
Teal’c sat cross-legged, deep in kel’no’reem, at peace with the Universe in way he sometimes pitied the Tau’ri could not know. Daniel Jackson was on the bunk, still asleep, a poor substitute to meditation to Teal’c’s mind.
Teal’c let his thoughts roam through his long memory, events arising in stark relief, no distracting emotion attached. Old defeats reviewed without grief, victories analyzed without pride; complex events broken down into easily analyzed elements. He thought of Daniel Jackson, just the man as he was, images shorn of the emotion his alert mind imbued. Teal’c reviewed past actions and attitudes of SG-1’s archeologist, the scholar a grown man by Tau’ri standards, yet still so young to the long-lived jaffa, and Teal’c could not reconcile the events of last night in any rational way. This led him to only one possible conclusion, and, hearing a snuffle from the man who lay on his bed, Teal’c began to ascend through the seven levels of kel-no-reem to full wakefulness.
When he opened his eyes, he found Daniel Jackson regarding him with a sleepy smile from the bed.
“I’m almost sorry how noisy we get,” the linguist remarked, “or we could do more this morning.”
“Okay, okay. How noisy *I* get.” The young man slipped down to join Teal’c on the floor, sitting cross-legged across from him, the knees of the nude men touching. Daniel leaned forward to run his hands up Teal’c’s thighs. “We could have a little pre-debrief of our own, hmm?”
With an effort Teal’c ignored the way the scholar’s skin glowed in the warm candlelight and said firmly, “Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel looked at him with a quizzical smile. “Yes, Teal’c?”
The name ‘Teal’c’ was emphasized playfully and Teal’c suspected he knew the endearment the archeologist had expected the jaffa to employ.
“Do you recall our first assignation?” Teal’c asked.
Daniel’s smile softened, and he strengthened his grip on Teal’c’s thighs. “Oh yeah, I believe I have a vague recollection of that particular event.”
“I do not.”
Daniel Jackson’s smile faded as his puzzlement grew. “What do you mean?”
In a gentle voice, Teal’c said, “I believe I am not the Teal’c you know and you are not the Daniel Jackson I know.”
Thick, skeptical brows rose as the archeologist drew out the word, “Why?”
“Daniel Jackson, I have no memories of a sexual relationship with you. Yet you do. Let us stipulate that neither one of us has experienced mind alternation or brain damage.”
Daniel stared wide-eyed. “No brain damage…” he said blankly. “That’s good…”
Teal’c nodded. “Indeed,” he agreed. “Last evening O’Neill and Major Carter both made remarks I did not comprehend at the time but now do. I believe an alternate reality of a similar nature to our past experiences to be at work here.”
Still staring, Daniel Jackson’s face expressed dawning understanding, followed by the inevitable, but unfortunate, guilt.
“That means that-that…in your, uh, reality you and I aren’t, we aren’t…?”
“No, Daniel Jackson.”
“Oh god, um, right, of course not.” Daniel Jackson scrunched his head down, obscuring the blush that flamed across his features. He suddenly noticed where his hands were and snatched them off Teal’c’s thighs as if burned. “God, I’m sorry, Teal’c – Teal’c – Te—your name is Teal’c isn’t it?”
It took all Teal’c’s powers to suppress a smile. “It is, Daniel Jackson.”
“Yeah, yeah, I must have said that at some point, amid all the other, uh, *things,* that I said.” He gulped in a deep breath and wrapped his arms around his chest. “Oh crap, Teal’c, I didn’t mean to—if I’d realized I wouldn’t have—oh god!”
Teal’c laid a hand on the young man’s arm. “Daniel, I could have stopped you at any point. I did not understand until kel-no-reem. I do not regret the actions taken in this room last night.”
Daniel Jackson’s self-hug loosened, and although he did not look up, he listened almost unwillingly to the jaffa.
Continuing, Teal’c said, “I do not know the circumstances that led to this relationship or if it is advisable for any reality save your own, but I do believe the Teal’c of your world to be a very fortunate man.”
Daniel Jackson blinked rapidly, but he met the jaffa’s eyes. “Thank you, Teal’c.”
They sat in silence a moment, Teal’c letting the other man come to terms with the situation.
As they sat Teal’c found himself wondering how this man and his own counterpart came together. He believed he had the trust of ‘his own’ Daniel Jackson, but to have taken that hard-won friendship to such a level…
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c ventured.
“In my reality, there are…actions I have taken, that have caused great pain and loss to Daniel Jackson…”
Daniel smiled sadly and took Teal’c’s hand. “Yes, I think it’s the same with us. Shau’ri’s abduction, her selection as Ammonet’s host, her death at his staff to save my life. My Teal’c takes responsibility for his actions.”
“How…?” Uncharacteristically, Teal’c choked at the question.
“It wasn’t easy, but I forgave him. You and your Daniel may not desire a relationship like ours, but if he’s anything like me, I know he’s truly forgiven you.”
Not trusting himself to speak, Teal’c sketched a bow, and they sat holding hands for a time, once again comfortable with one another.
“So am I in your world or are you in mine?” Daniel Jackson finally asked.
“I believe not in mine,” Teal’c said. “I was certain last night that I had not placed my kel-no-reem candles in a cirna’an pattern but did not understand the significance.”
“Well, we did that a couple days ago. I mean my Teal’c and me.” Daniel Jackson looked critically at the remaining placement. “This doesn’t look right, though. I know I went out and bought Teal’c all the proper candles.” Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “That tile from ’479 that looked like blue Delft. It was moved in my office, but I put it down to Jack using it as a coaster. That means neither one of us are where we belong. So, how do we get home? Sam! We need to talk to Sam!”
He jumped to his feet and rushed to the door.
Hand on the knob, he half-turned back. “Yes, Teal’c?”
“Oh yeah.” He looked blankly from his own bare body to where Teal’c sat wearing nothing but the tal shak kek. “Um, maybe you should dress too.”
Five minutes later found them, properly clothed, stepping out of Teal’c’s quarters to encounter O’Neill and Major Carter in the hallway. The other half of SG-1 took in Daniel Jackson’s flushed face and the aura of satisfaction that Teal’c knew he projected and looked askance at each other as if worried.
O’Neill cleared his throat. “You two kel-no-reeming together this early in the morning?”
Daniel Jackson pursed his lips. “Um…”
“No, O’Neill,” Teal’c stated. “Daniel Jackson and I engaged in sexual intercourse together. Only I engaged in kel’no’reem.”
As the archeologist groaned, both Air Force officers stared in shocked disbelief at their teammates.
Major Carter fixed Daniel Jackson with an outraged eye and demanded, “How could you do this to the colonel!?” as O’Neill hissed simultaneously to Teal’c, “How could you do this to Carter!?”
Then the two officers spun toward one another in confusion, speaking simultaneously again: “What!?”
Sam had been trying all morning to have The Talk with Teal’c. But it just seemed so tiresome compared to the warm afterglow she felt relaxing her body, and the serenity filling Teal’c’s dark eyes. So she let it go and just enjoyed the companionship of her quiet teammate as they drove to the Mountain. After downing a couple muffins at the commissary, they went to the briefing room to find the colonel and Daniel.
Colonel O’Neill looked from Sam to Teal’c and back, eyes emotionless.
A chill warning tightened in Sam’s belly.
Daniel looked up from pouring a cup of coffee. “Hey guys, how was your evening?”
“Our evening went quite well, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.
“Did it now,” the colonel said softly. “How was the bistro?”
Daniel gave Sam a sly sidelong glance as he handed the coffee to Colonel O’Neill. “Ah, Bistro Forza, the traditional jaffa fueling station. And how did Teal’c’s stamina hold out?”
Sam reddened. She couldn’t believe Daniel could be so crude. Daniel looked to the colonel with a conspiratorial smile. A smile that faded immediately when he saw that while Colonel O’Neill was also reddening, it wasn’t with embarrassment.
The colonel stepped suddenly to Teal’c, grabbing the jaffa’s shirt-front in his left hand, and raising his other hand threateningly. A threat distinctly spoiled by the coffee cup he had apparently forgotten he still held in that hand.
Teal’c seized Jack’s left wrist, but otherwise stood perfectly still, his face unreadable. “O’Neill, are you threatening me with a coffee mug?”
Stunned, Sam said, “Colonel…”
“Uh, guys—?” Daniel began.
“Are you screwing around with my girl?” the colonel demanded.
Before Teal’c could answer, Sam felt a surge of anger and stepped between the two men, facing her CO. “Excuse me, colonel, are you referring to me?”
Her CO barely acknowledged her with a flick of his stony eyes before re-fixing on Teal’c. “Of course I am, Sam.”
“My name is Major Carter and I am not your girl. Or anyone’s.”
Teal’c’s voice rumbled behind her back. “Samantha…”
“No offence, Teal’c, but it takes more than one night to build that kind of relationship.”
“Samantha, we have had many more than one night together.”
Sam wished she could turn to see a clue on even so closed a face as Teal’c’s, but Colonel O’Neill didn’t back off and she was locked into position.
“Together?” Jack repeated. “Together in what way?”
“Together engaging in frequent sexual intercourse.”
“Son of a—shit!” As the colonel jerked his arm back to throw a punch, scalding hot coffee sloshed over his hand and he dropped both the mug and his hold on Teal’c’s shirt, shaking his burned hand and swearing.
Daniel took the opportunity to swoop in, wrapping the colonel’s reddened hand in his bandana. “Jack! Leave the coffee-fu to the experts.”
Colonel O’Neill glared at the archeologist. “Daniel, you knew about this?”
“Oh, so you and Teal’c ended it amicably. Well, I warn you, I’m not feeling amicable.” He redirected his glare at Teal’c.
Frowning, Daniel said, “Teal’c and I ended what amicably? Jack, you’re not making sense.”
“*I’m* not making sense?” the colonel demanded. “You’re the one who’s not making sense. Sam, everything we’ve shared—you can’t just sweep it aside as if it doesn’t mean anything.”
With a look of naked desperation she never would’ve associated with the colonel in a million years, Jack slid his good hand up into Sam’s hair, and drew her close, kissing her on the lips. He released her and whispered, “Tell me that doesn’t mean anything, Sam.”
Yes, it meant something: it was damn nice. But how could it mean what the colonel apparently wanted it to mean? Sam shook her head in bewilderment.
Teal’c made to start forward, but Daniel blocked him. “Um, I’m thinking everyone should just dial down the testosterone a notch or two,” he said.
Sam finally caught her breath. “Colonel—” she began forcefully.
“And the estrogen, Sam!” Daniel ordered.
An SF entered the room tentatively. “Sir? Do you need assistance?”
It was unclear who he was asking, but Daniel answered: “Yes, we’d like a little privacy, if you don’t mind. Could you please keep everyone out of here for a few minutes?”
It was a testament to the respect in which Daniel was held that this decidedly non-military request was given the force of an order and obeyed promptly.
When the airman withdrew, Daniel eyed each of his team members in turn. “Okay, guys, what the hell is going on?” He was answered by silence. “Jack, you’ve never objected to Sam and Teal’c before, why now?”
“There *is* no Sam and Teal’c,” the colonel ground out. “Sam and I have been together for almost as long as you and Teal’c.”
“On the contrary, O’Neill,” Teal’c stated, “there is no Daniel Jackson and I. It is Samantha with whom I have shared my life and love.”
“Teal’c’s right,” Daniel said. “He and Sam are in love. Where did you get the idea that Teal’c and I—”
“The fuck, Teal’c’s right,” Colonel O’Neill snarled. “You don’t think I know my own life?”
“Jack, yelling obscenities at me is not going to help,” Daniel said with the prissy-professor expression he knew full well drove the colonel up the wall.
“Daniel, so help me, if you don’t back off—”
“O’Neill! In fact it is you who will back off or I will be forced to take action.”
“Oh yeah? You and what jaffa army?”
“Enough!” Sam shouted.
She had let the conversation flow passively around her for too long. This was the worst stereotype of why women were kept out of the military: the men would turn on each other and fight over their female comrades. Well, SG-1 was too important to her, and to the world, to let it go down, not in heroic flames, but pathetic infighting and macho posturing. She didn’t understand how this triangle started, but it damn well was ending here and now.
“As of right now, there is no Sam and anybody,” she stated. “And frankly the way you guys are acting, there never will be a Sam and anybody.”
Teal’c and her CO straightened like sloppy cadets being reamed out by a drill sergeant, guilty eyes avoiding hers. Even Daniel looked abashed.
“Okay, no more caveman antics, understand?”
Daniel snorted and returned Teal’c and Colonel O’Neill’s glares unrepentant.
“Now,” Sam stated, “you three will explain to me, yes, you too, Daniel, why you seem to think I can be claimed like a ring toss prize, and you will *all,*” and she finished through gritted teeth, “keep—it—civil.”
By the time Jack got to the briefing room, Carter and Daniel were arriving too, from separate directions. Teal’c was already inside and the four of them stood around the table in an awkward silence.
Daniel had his arms crossed defensively, while Carter still had a bewildered air about her. Teal’c looked from teammate to teammate, a frown growing.
“Hey, guys,” Jack said brightly.
His words fell flat under the coolly unimpressed stare Daniel gave him. The archeologist’s gaze darted briefly to Carter, then lowered again.
Teal’c watched this exchange then turned to Jack and asked abruptly, “O’Neill, have you betrayed Daniel Jackson with Major Carter?”
Jack felt like he’d been sucker-punched and could only yammer stupidly, “I—I—”
Carter blanched. “Betrayed Daniel? Teal’c, what do you mean?”
“O’Neill and Daniel Jackson have been lovers for over a year now.”
“*Thank you,*” Daniel huffed. His pissy glare was back, but the tightly wrapped arms told the full story.
Finding his voice, Jack yelled, “Hey, I think I’d remember having sex with Daniel for a year!”
“You bet your ass you would,” Daniel muttered.
“Yes, absolutely impossible,” Carter confirmed.
“*Thank you,*” Jack said with a pissy glare of his own.
“Jack and I have been in a relationship for a year,” she concluded.
“Whoa, whoa! Timeout!” Jack shouted. “I haven’t been in a relationship with anyone but my own right hand for a damn sight longer than a year.”
He paused and looked hard at his team, studying the three familiar faces. Carter took a breath to speak, but Jack raised a finger and the others froze at his sudden alertness.
Yes, these faces were familiar on the surface, but they seemed to hold memories and emotions that just…didn’t… “Daniel, did you touch anything you weren’t supposed to yesterday?”
“You mean something like—”
“The mirror!” Carter said.
“Mirror?” Jack repeated.
Carter waved her hands enthusiastically. “Yes, the mirror on P3R-233!”
“When I went through to that alternate Earth?” Daniel asked in growing excitement. “Meaning that we’re not exactly who we think we are?”
“Right,” Carter confirmed. “That white flash! It must have happened then. And you—” She turned to Jack, realization widening her eyes. “You’re not…not who I…”
Jack gave a weak smile and a little wave. “Uh…pleased to meet you?”
“I hate alternate realities,” Daniel muttered.
Jack was still staring at Sam, thunderstruck at the revelations of his Wonder Geeks. “But—so he—he’s not—” He turned to Daniel and pointed with ludicrous accusation. “Who are you?”
“Who am I? Um, I think I’m the guy you just fucked.”
“So you and I aren’t—I mean, you and him don’t—don’t—”
“Sleep together?” Daniel asked with exaggerated delicacy. “No.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I—I didn’t realize at first…” he said, a lame excuse even to his own ears. “I feel like a slut.” He looked down at the coffee and come-stained sheet covering him. “Oh god, I am a slut.”
Jack took a deep breath and raked a hand through his hair. “Well, I wish I could say I’m sorry this happened, but…” He sat on the edge of the bed and gave a rueful smile. “Don’t tell my Daniel.”
Daniel crossed his arms and sat up as high as he dared. “I may tell your Daniel you doubted him. *Both* your Daniels,” he amended, including the stunned-silent Teal’c in his cool gaze.
As Jack sputtered, Daniel shared a conspiratorial smile with Sam.
“Goddamn it,” Jack finally barked out. “You wanted it as much as I did!”
“May I point out how hard it is to raise an objection when someone’s tongue is halfway down your throat?”
“Holy crap, Teal’c!” O’Neill said when he had recovered his voice. “Are you saying Daniel just accidentally fu—”
“Jack!” Daniel Jackson interrupted. “Can we keep this discussion *above* the belt, please?”
“Still, though,” Major Carter said, looking back and forth from Daniel Jackson to Teal’c. “I mean, Holy Hannah, you two are taking this so calmly!”
Teal’c stood at ease, his hands clasped behind his back. “Lovemaking with Daniel Jackson is not a matter for shame.” As the archeologist blushed, Teal’c looked pointedly at O’Neill. “And I will hear no more on the subject.”
O’Neill gave an innocent shrug, then elbowed Daniel Jackson in the ribs, saying in a loud whisper, “Way to go, Dannyboy. Didn’t know you had it in you.”
Even Teal’c had to roll his eyes at that.
Her two macho would-be suitors stood fidgeting, looking more and more like naughty school boys, and Sam herself was having trouble processing the conclusion she and Daniel had just reached. “Um, so I’m not really either of your girlfriends, or anyone’s girlfriend, when you get right down to it…”
“Samantha…” Teal’c said in a stricken rumble. “Major Carter…no words suffice to express my regret at…” He trailed off, atypically at a loss for words.
“Yeah, you better regret it,” Colonel O’Neill muttered.
“Jack, what did Sam just say about being civil?” Daniel demanded.
The colonel glowered. “Teacher’s pet.”
“Always,” Daniel confirmed.
Colonel O’Neill peered guiltily at Sam. “Um, I guess I’m sorry too. I, uh, well, I’m sorry I called you my girl.”
Sam arched a brow. “You better be sure *she* doesn’t hear you call her that or I’m thinking she’s going to be your ex-girl.”
The colonel cleared his throat. “Yeah.”
“Major Carter,” Teal’c began, regaining his composure, his back straight as a rod, readying himself for well-deserved punishment. “I fear that I have caused you pain. Inadvertently perhaps. Nevertheless, in my eagerness to couple—”
Daniel let out a cough that sounded suspiciously like a snicker. Colonel O’Neill fixed Teal’c with an aggrieved stare.
The jaffa ignored them and continued. “If I caused you pain, Major Carter, I wish to make amends—”
“Teal’c.” Sam cut him off with a gentle smile, then continued in her best Teal’c-speak: “I assure you, ‘pain’ is not the verb I would use to describe the sensations produced by last night’s ‘coupling.’”
As Jack fidgeted, Teal’c looked over his teammates and said, somewhat doubtfully, “As our pasts are divergent, there can be no ill will resulting from any actions taken.”
“…That’s one way to look at it,” Carter said slowly, not meeting Jack’s eyes.
“Uh huh,” Jack said with an enthusiastic nod. “And that’s the right way to look at it, right?”
The only response was a direct hit with another Daniel-scowl. “‘Did I touch something?’” the archeologist repeated in delayed reaction to Jack’s earlier comment. “And just neglected to mention it? No, of course not. You can’t pin this on me, Jack.”
“Hey! I didn’t mean it literally!”
Carter, still playing the peace-maker through her shock, overrode them. “So if it wasn’t a mirror…”
“Was it something similar?” Teal’c asked.
Jack shook his head. “There was nothing similar to anything but dirt and dust in that dump.”
“Nothing we saw…” Daniel said.
Jack continued shaking his head. “I’m telling you, there was nothing but dirt and dust there.”
“Jack,” Daniel said, “if you have nothing significant to contribute to the conversation, butt out.”
His CO raised a brow. “So, a Daniel’s a Daniel no matter what universe you belong to. In fact, a Daniel by any other name, would—”
“Jack, if you tell me I smell sweet, I’ll castrate you.”
“…Would be as pissy, then,” Jack finished quickly, folding his hands protectively at his groin.
Grinning even as she stayed on topic, Sam said, “But what does a mirror-like effect have to do with Ancient shielding technology?”
“I’m betting, nothing,” O’Neill stated.
“A ruse?” Teal’c ventured.
“Sir,” Major Carter said, “I know you always suspect the Tok’ra of being underhanded, but—”
O’Neill interrupted. “Do I? And do you really know that about *me*?”
Daniel Jackson raised his hands. “Look, we may be from different realities, but we’re still SG-1.”
Teal’c nodded with satisfaction. “Indeed.”
“And despite our differences—” Daniel Jackson began.
“And our similarities…” Sam continued.
“There will always be trust between us,” Teal’c concluded.
Colonel O’Neill slapped his good hand down on the briefing table. “Damn straight! All for one and one for all and all that crap now what the hell are we going to do?”
Twelve people in four realities turned to look at four Samantha Carters, all four of whom shrugged.
“Do you think I could get dressed for the rest of this conversation?” Daniel asked.
Bathed in the blue glow of an active wormhole, the four members of SG-1 stepped out into the deserted chamber on P9S-098.
This time when the wormhole disgorged Jack’s team, it was a much less cohesive group. Awkward strangers masked with the fašade of close comrades. Of course, this wasn’t really ‘his’ team, but the strained politeness between Carter and Daniel was painful to hear compared to their usual easy chatter, and there was a lingering disapproval from Teal’c that Jack couldn’t be sure he wasn’t imagining.
Jack needed to get this group, *his* group, his *team* damn it, back on track and in synch.
He adjusted his cap and slouched casually over his P-90. “So, where do we go? Do we stay together? Or do we spilt up and go back to where we were last time?”
“Well…” Carter glanced to her fellow scientist, the man she usually turned to whenever thorny ideas needed to be bounced around.
Daniel stood close to Teal’c, looking pointedly at the stony floor.
After they had debriefed the general, minus certain sexual details, Frasier had run a DNA test by the unnecessarily complicated name of Chromatic Situational Resonance. It showed Jack to be in his proper reality, but the three other team members not, although Daniel’s and Teal’c’s showed ‘resonances’ that were identical to each other. Carter guessed that they were from the same reality. That meant they were dealing with three realities here.
Three realities, and a team divided into two separate camps…
And Carter… Christ, who knew what she was thinking? She’d been in shock initially, with the realization that she’d inadvertently had sex with a stranger. They’d had no privacy to talk things out, not that Jack wanted to do the talking thing in the slightest. In the briefing room and the infirmary, Jack confined himself to looks that he hoped were supportive and not just goofy. It truly hadn’t been her fault, and Jack couldn’t even say he regretted it. Not really. Especially not now that it looked like there would be no lasting consequences, he concluded, guilty at the selfish thought even in the privacy of his own head.
Pushing her own concerns aside, Carter’s inner geek had taken over and she was functioning at least on the surface as a competent scientist and Air Force officer. She was meeting Jack’s eyes again.
Daniel, however, was still in a funk.
“Daniel, what do you think?” Jack prompted the recalcitrant archeologist. Probably the first time he’d ever asked that out loud. He’d never needed to before.
Teal’c looked approvingly at Jack, then, along with Carter, turned expectantly to Daniel.
The archeologist held to the same pissy silence he’d been maintaining all morning for a moment, then let it out with a huff of exasperation. He folded one arm over, propped the other up on it, and tapped a pensive finger to his lips.
Jack gave an inward sigh of relief.
Dr. Jackson was back in the building. Which ever Dr. Jackson it was.
“Okay,” Daniel began, “whatever we decide, stay together, split up, whatever, it’s likely the other teams, however many there are, will come to the same decision, simply because they’re us too.”
“So we’re talking about three teams, right?” Jack said. “Three SG-1s.”
“No, not necessarily, sir,” Carter said.
“*At least* three,” Daniel said, “Not *just* three.”
Jack nodded as if he was actually interested in all the geek-talk and sauntered to Teal’c, trying to shift the team dynamics out of stalemate.
“So stick together this time, Teal’c?” Jack asked, despite having already made a decision.
Teal’c contemplated a moment, then nodded. “Advisable.” The jaffa stepped in turn toward Carter, Jack following, effectively leaving Daniel stranded alone.
Daniel stood stubbornly beside the DHD for a moment, then sighed and went to Carter who struggled with her equipment.
“Need a hand?” he offered.
Carter looked up at him cautiously. “Yes…”
“So which hallway?” On this question Jack really didn’t have a clue. He doubted there was a right or wrong answer, he was just trying to keep his kids talking and interacting. But Daniel surprised him with a firmly stated opinion.
“Why?” Carter asked.
“If Jack didn’t change at all, and Teal’c and I, uh, came together as it were, then that seems to imply that Sam was at the epicenter of the phenomenon.”
Carter nodded and smiled up Daniel. “That’s as good a working hypothesis as any.”
Daniel smiled back. Jack hoped all was forgiven until Daniel leveled a cold glance on him. No, Carter was forgiven; Jack was still persona non grata.
“Let’s go then,” Jack ordered.
The team took off down Carter’s hall, the middle way opposite the ‘gate. Teal’c took point and the science twins came next, both peering at Carter’s modified Force Field Finder. Jack had yet to christen this new iteration, though he was leaning toward the What The Fuck Finder. His 2IC had broadened its inputs to receive a wider range of blah, blah, blah in an effort to capture the emissions typical in yadda, yadda, yadda. Jack shook his head and checked his watch.
“Okay, this is about when you guys saw the light last time. Has the WTF Detector dinged?”
Daniel shot him a narrowed eyed glare – oh yeah, not forgiven – but Carter said, “As a matter of fact…”
She turned from side to side, growing more excited, aiming her handheld receiver about, trying to narrow down the direction the signals were coming from. “Yes, definite neutrino emissions of the type association with the mirror!”
Daniel eyed their general environs nervously. “Has it gone off again?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Carter said. “The dampening field we added seems to be doing its job.”
“So where is it?” Jack asked.
Carter stepped along the corridor, waving the receiver over featureless stones, back-stepped a bit, waved some more, then stopped and announced, “The readings are coming from behind this wall.”
Jack and Teal’c checked along the hallway, forward and backward: no doors.
“A secret door, perhaps?” Teal’c suggested.
Carter looked to Daniel and cocked her head at the wall. “Daniel?”
Jack rolled his eyes and muttered, “Christ, why do I feel like I’m living out a Dungeons ’n’ Dragons game?”
Daniel stepped forward, running his fingers over the stonework seams, nose practically touching he was looking so closely.
Carter raised her brows at Jack, lips twitching. “Sir? You played D&D?”
“Hell, no,” Jack denied with as much dignity as he could muster. This woman may have witnessed him at his most vulnerable last night, but there are some things just too personal to share…or maybe too embarrassing.
Damn, though, Jack appreciated Carter’s attempt at their normally easy camaraderie, and Daniel’s slight smile as he pretended to ignore them showed he was making an effort too.
There was a soft snick. “Got it,” Daniel said, then sneezed as dust drifted down. The seemingly archaic stone fašade slid smoothly aside revealing an entryway. Within, recessed lights sparked as they lit and high-tech white walls gleamed.
“Okay, now that’s more like it,” Jack announced. “Hold up, Daniel. T?”
Once Teal’c had slipped past the impatient Daniel, given the place a once over and motioned the others in, he stationed himself to guard the entrance.
Carter flew into veritable ecstasy at the sight of a whole wall of the molded asymmetrical instrumentation the Ancients favored.
“Don’t touch anything we don’t know what it is, kids,” Jack warned.
“That’s how we learn what it is, Jack,” Daniel snarked, but he kept his hands to himself.
Carter flitted from station to station, Daniel trailing and translating half a beat behind her continuing exploration. The astrophysicist was working herself up to a near orgasm over some fiddly bits that she seemed sure would cure the common cold or solve world hunger or some such damn thing.
Looking at her animated face and remembering the real orgasm he’d witnessed, make that *caused,* less than twelve hours ago, Jack shifted his stance, willing a flush down, stamping his legs as unobtrusively as possible.
She wasn’t a beautiful woman he’d just made love to the night before. She was a soldier, his 2IC, and nothing more.
“Here, here! This is it, I’m sure!”
Carter had moved into an alcove and was gesturing at a panel of incomprehensible pseudo-plastic, all but hopping from foot to foot in excitement.
“So this was Christmas at the Carters’, eh?” Jack muttered to himself. He raised his voice: “Okay, you geeks work on that, I’m going to finish sweeping the chamber.”
He’d just noticed another entryway off the back end of the room and left his two scientists yammering simultaneously behind him. Peeking through the doorway, he found only a small empty chamber.
Behind him, Daniel said, “Um, Sam? Are you sure…?”
“Absolutely,” came the chirpy reply. “This’ll just give us a readout of the last activation and then—”
When Jack turned back to see what the scientists were up to, he heard a kind of muffled thump, almost like a mini-sonic boom, if such a thing was possible.
He saw Carter and Daniel stumbling out of the alcove looking shell-shocked and registered a sudden presence beside him. Jumping back with a shouted, “Whoa!” he raised his P-90 at what at first seemed to be a mirror image of himself. Make that three mirror images of himself. Except they weren’t mirror images and their identical shouts of alarm echoed along with his own in the antiseptic white room.
Jack and his three doubles aimed their weapons in indecision, the four P-90s wavering among the four identical targets. He noticed the others seemed a bit slower, disoriented, and Jack spared a glance at Carter and Daniel. He was seeing double – crap, triple – crap, make that quadruple.
“Carter,” he called, “I’m thinking this is not really an improvement.”
He looked over the four identical copies of his 2IC.
“Um…” The closest Carter glanced at the other three. “Yes, sir?” she responded hesitantly.
Four Teal’cs came into view behind the four Daniels, two of whom were cleaning their glasses as if clean glasses could possibly help this mess. The Teal’cs eyed one another cautiously, but made no hostile moves.
Jack released one hand from his P-90. “Okay, everybody, let’s just calm down.”
Another O’Neill said, “Hey, you’re the one waving his gun around.”
“Well, I’m not waving it anymore, so everybody just take it easy, capiche?”
The other three looked doubtful, but lowered their guns along with him.
“Okay,” Jack stated. “Now I at least was supposed to be in my original reality.”
“Same here,” one O’Neill said.
“Me, too,” another added, and the third nodded in agreement.
Jack said, “Well, I didn’t see any white flash thingy just now, either. Can any of you say that?”
More doubtful looks from his copies. “Maybe…” one drawled, crossing his arms.
“Oh, for—look, who else didn’t see the light?” he demanded of the room at large. One each of the Carters, Daniels and Teal’cs raised tentative hands. “Okay, you guys must be my team.”
The Daniel pushed up his glasses. “Um…”
“We’re not actually your team, sir,” the hand-raised Carter observed. “Your original team.”
“My most recent team, then,” Jack amended.
“All of whom don’t really belong to you,” another O’Neill said.
Before Jack could respond one of the Daniels said, “I’m not sure this is the best place for this discussion, Jack…sss.” He added the ‘s’ belatedly, trying to make the name plural and ending up sounding like a snake.
Jack waved his hand. “All right, whatever. So we go back to the SGC and figure it out there.” He looked expectantly at his counterparts.
One shrugged. “Doesn’t look like much choice.”
Various Carters and Teal’cs nodded.
“Let’s blow this joint, then,” Jack said, going for matter of fact and hoping he succeeded.
Five minutes later the SGC’s wormhole disgorged SG-1…and disgorged, and disgorged, and…
General Hammond stood stiffly at the base of the ramp looking over his four identical flagship teams with concern, but not, Jack was peeved to note, surprise. “Problems, colonel?” he inquired, eyes flitting from O’Neill to O’Neill.
Jack raised a finger. “We’re pretty sure I’m the real Jack O’Neill.”
“No,” another O’Neill contradicted. “*He* thinks he’s the real O’Neill.”
“Oh, for crying out loud,” a third groaned. “He’s just the O’Neill from this reality! He’s not the *real* O’Neill!”
Hammond raised his hands as Jack bristled. “Gentlemen, please. I’d like everyone to proceed to the infirmary. Dr. Frasier can run a DNA test on all of you.”
“Sir?” Jack said. “I think running that resident cinematic test on just we four colonels may be enough to sort ourselves out.”
“Very well, please proceed.”
SG-1 personnel convened in the briefing room, coming from the infirmary in ones and twos. Conversation was sparse and strained. Not surprising, Jack reflected as he lounged in faux-nonchalance at the foot of the table: one didn’t know if one was speaking to a perfect stranger or a long-time teammate …or a lover, apparently. There were at least two couples here, one O’Neill and Carter, one O’Neill and Daniel. And Carter had implied something about her Daniel and Teal’c…
Christ, he’d need a score card.
He’d lost track of even which ones were his most recent team. Will the Carter I had sex with last night please stand up? Uh, might not go over so well.
The room was already getting crowded. All four Carters sat at the table, a Teal’c and O’Neill flanking the head, with a Daniel between the two Carters on one side, and on the other side two Carters in a row, ending with an O’Neill sitting closest to Jack. Near the window, stood the other two Teal’cs, a Daniel and an O’Neill. The last Teal’c stood near the stairs.
General Hammond and Dr. Frasier came in, along with the last two straggling SG-1 members: a pair of Daniels of course. In contrast to the taciturnity of the others they seemed to be completely at ease.
“But an amateur won’t know what to ignore and what to use,” one expounded, arms gesturing wildly. “You literally have to already know Egyptology to be able to use Budge without embarrassing the hell out of yourself.”
Hammond stationed himself at the head of the table. “Doctors Jackson…?” he called.
The two late-comers looked over and exhibited the usual Daniel Jackson surprise at the existence of other living creatures not fascinated by his, or *their* in this case, current passion.
“Please…make yourselves comfortable,” Hammond directed.
All the chairs were taken, so the two stood near Jack. The seated Teal’c stood and offered Frasier his seat. She sank into it, clutching the lab results to her chest like a shield. She’d been overwhelmed in the infirmary with the influx of identical patients and didn’t seem to be any more at ease now.
“Dr. Frasier, would you care to share the lab results with us?” the general prompted.
Jack straightened from his slouch. “Will the real Jonathan O’Neill please stand up.”
“Hey, what’d I say about this ‘real’ thing?”
Hammond frowned at both offending O’Neill. “Colonel…”
Frasier hurriedly spoke up. “The Colonel O’Neill who submitted the third blood sample—”
Jack lifted his hand. “That would be me.”
“Is the Colonel O’Neill from this…universe.”
“Yes!” Jack crowed, fists raised to either side of his head. A bit over the top maybe, but the resultant scowls from the other O’Neills were priceless.
“This reality,” a Carter corrected Frasier.
“Here,” Frasier finished.
Hammond eyed Jack’s childish display with typical forbearance, an expression on his long suffering face which plainly said, yes, of course, *that’s* my 2IC. Out loud he said, “Gentlemen, um, you other three colonels, I would ask that for the duration of this…emergency, you would respect the Colonel O’Neill of this command as senior officer.”
Jack beamed cheerfully at his counterparts, who ignored him, voicing three unenthusiastic ‘yes, sirs’ to the general.
Hammond looked over the assembled personnel, the SGC’s best and brightest times four. “Suggestions?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” a Carter said.
“A few,” added another.
“And questions,” a Daniel said.
“More than a few,” muttered Jack.
“Such as,” the Daniel continued, “are these four the only realities affected?”
The first Carter nodded. “I believe so.”
“Yes,” continued another Carter, “the mechanism I triggered—”
“We all triggered,” a third Carter amended.
The second Carter flashed a grin. “Yes, it emitted a quantum wave conversant with the static version we previously found within the mirror’s confines.”
“Yadda,” Jack and another O’Neill griped simultaneously, then glared at each other.
A Daniel said, “It might help if we knew which System Lord set us up.”
“But the vector’s narrow foci encoded its effect,” the first Carter said as if this explained everything.
“Of course!” Carter number four enthused, apparently under the illusion that it really did explain everything. “And therefore enforced a localized manifestation.”
“Can we even be sure anyone at all set us up?” one of the Daniels standing at the foot of the table asked.
The Teal’c who’d given up his seat to Frasier observed, “A ‘set-up’ seems likely, but the identity of the party or parties remains unclear.”
At the head of the table, a suffering Dr. Frasier followed the flying ball of conversation, eye strain and a crick in the neck in her near future.
The Daniel participating in the technical conversation nodded to the Carter who’d last spoken. “Local to such an extent that the initial auto-triggered episode failed to include any of the Jacks.”
“The Tok’ra?” a Daniel queried. It took Jack a second to realize he was referring to the question of a possible set up.
“I don’t think so,” another Daniel stated.
“You don’t want to think so,” Jack muttered.
“Sir!” Frasier fairly burst out to the general. “I think I would be of best use reviewing my notes on entropic cascade failure. We may need some counter-measures or…something,” she finished lamely.
“Very good, doctor,” the general said to Frasier, who wasted no time sprinting for the stairs. Hammond gazed at her escape with ill-concealed jealousy. Jack could practically see the headache forming under the bald pate of his superior as the geekfest whirled around him. Welcome to my world, sir, he thought.
“So,” the Daniel who’d been complaining about Budge said, “while there may be other realities affected over all, we four are so close in terms of timeline—”
“That we triggered the device exactly simultaneously,” another finished up.
A Carter jumped in excitedly, “And not just the first time, but the second time as well.”
“Fascinating, that our realities must be so close,” another Carter mused.
“Yeah,” a Daniel said. “None of this ‘Teal’c still Apophis’ first prime’ or ‘me still in Egypt’ stuff.”
“Yes, with Daniel in his *proper* place,” a Carter said with a smile at her several surrogate little brothers, “and having opened the stargate in a timely fashion, our four timelines seem virtually identical.”
“Yeah, virtually,” Jack said under his breath, trying again to figure out which of the four Carters he’d made love to last night. Let’s see she was blonde, blue-eyed, about yay high… He caught sight of another O’Neill watching him watching the Carters, a cold glitter in his eyes that Jack had seen staring back at himself from the bathroom mirror after particularly rough missions. Crap, he’d have to step carefully.
One of the Teal’cs was speaking. “As to which Gou’ald is responsible, I believe Heru'ur most likely.”
A Daniel nodded. “Right, to have fed the Tok’ra false information it would have to have been a fairly influential System Lord.”
An O’Neill entered the fray: “But what the hell was the point of shuffling SG-1s?”
The Daniel shrugged. “To get rid of us with no muss or fuss, and throw doubt on the Tok’ra?”
“Yes,” a Carter agreed. “He must have thought he’d be sending us away to die of cascade failure in some other reality.”
The Teal’cs nodded and one said, “However Heru’ur is not…tech-savvy, and may not have understood there were alternate versions of himself with the same plan.”
“So instead of the team in his reality disappearing, he just swapped the SG-1 chess pieces, huh?” an O’Neill said.
“Yeah,” Jack drawled, “ol’ Heru’ur’s not the greenest leaf on the Gou’ald family tree.”
In the nonplussed silence that greeted what Jack thought was a highly pertinent encapsulation, General Hammond jumped in. “People, we’ve got a working theory of how this situation came about. Now, do we know how to rectify it?”
The Carters looked at each other. “Well, reviewing the detector’s readings…” began one.
“And our new observations of the Ancient mechanism…” a second looked to a nearby Daniel who nodded.
“And learning from our mistakes of the last trip,” a third muttered quickly.
“I think we should be able to override Heru’ur’s auto-trigger, and reverse the quantum wave, restoring all sub-atomic particles—”
“And the entities they inform,” the second added reassuringly, raising a hand and wiggling her fingers to indicate she meant the entities comprising the four SG-1 teams.
“To their proper realities,” the fourth Carter concluded.
After a pause, an O’Neill observed brightly, “Third time’s the charm.”
“All right,” Hammond said, looking like that bottle of whiskey Jack knew he kept locked in the bottom drawer of his desk was sounding pretty damn good right about now. “Now the question remains of which teams belong together.”
Jack spoke up. “General, I think I know a fast way to sort us out, but we need a little alone time, if you don’t mind.”
Hammond tilted his head in consideration, then gave a curt nod, coming to the kind of quick decision that was the hallmark of his command. “As you say, colonel. Keep me posted.” The general got up, signaling the attending SFs to follow as he left the room.
Jack walked around to stand at the head of the table. The other seatless members gathered loosely at the foot of the table and along the sides.
When the four SG-1s were alone, fifteen pairs of eyes fastened on Jack, some of those eyes distinctly skeptical, especially the brown ones.
“Okay, *my* SG-1 come up here.”
Fifteen SG-1 members glanced uncertainly at one another.
The O’Neill seated near the head of the table leaned back in his chair and drawled, “Oh, I’m so glad they put the *smart* one in charge.”
Jack glared down smirks from the remaining two O’Neills. “Look, I think the easiest way to sort us out is through our, shall we say, interpersonal relationships…”
“Or to put it more delicately, who’s screwing whom?” the same obnoxious O’Neill offered.
Jack refused to be baited and looked down his nose at the offending colonel. “Or in the case of my SG-1, who *isn’t* screwing whom.”
Skepticism still reigned, and Jack huffed impatiently. “Okay, I don’t know the full lay of the land here, but there seems to be some extra-curricular activity going on with some of the teams, some of which I…uh…experienced.”
One of the Daniels folded his arms and raised his brows. “Some of which you only wish you’d experienced.”
The particularly obnoxious O’Neill looked over and said, “Danny?”
Their eyes fastened together hopefully. “Jack?”
“Bingo.” Jack waved a hand. “I think that’s exactly how we’re going to sort ourselves out.” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Okay then. The SG-1 that’s never had sex with each other, over here.”
Still more uncertain glances.
“Uh, Jack?” one of the Daniels said, half-raising a hand. “I’m not sure that works anymore.”
“Could you define ‘sex’?” another Daniel asked.
“Oh, for crying out loud.” Apparently Jack wasn’t the only who’d been treated to Love, Alternative Reality Style. “Okay, the team that up until yesterday never had sex with each other, raise your hands.”
A Daniel, Carter and Teal’c raised their hands.
It was the ‘Budge’ Daniel. Of course it was, Jack thought, with an expression he was sure mirrored Hammond’s from earlier. Of course his Daniel would be railing at Budge during an inter-dimensional crisis. And his Carter, the one who’d all but wet herself over enforced local manifests or whatever the hell. His Teal’c…as humorless as all the others he was sure. Whatever. They were his team.
He waved his hands in a ‘shooing’ motion. “Right, the rest of you work it out amongst yourselves.”
One of the other Carters asked, “How can you be sure none of you ever…you know.”
Jack’s team looked at one another.
“We’re sure,” they all answered simultaneously.
While the others milled about like strangers at a cocktail party, Jack pulled his four over to a corner, gauging their ‘hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar’ expressions.
“So I take it we all, uh…?” He gestured vaguely at his crotch and received three mute nods from three faces sporting various shades of red.
“Damn, we’re easy,” he muttered. He debated the wisdom of keeping their temporary sweethearts secret and reluctantly decided honesty to be the best policy. “I, uh, kinda spent some quality time with one of the Carters,” he offered.
Carter’s blush deepened, but all she said was “Teal’c.”
Daniel raised a finger. “Jack.”
And Jack just knew which of his obnoxious doubles it must have been. He turned to the fourth member of SG-1. “Teal’c, I’d’ve expected you at least to have been immune to all this…stuff.”
“I was not.”
“Was it really…?”
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c confirmed.
Daniel looked from Teal’c to Jack and back, in an apparent quandary between staring at the jaffa with amazement and the colonel with indignation.
“What the hell happened?” Jack demanded before he could stop himself.
Teal’c regarded his youngest teammate for a long moment as Daniel returned his measuring look with open-mouthed trepidation.
“Yes,” the jaffa finally responded.
Daniel snapped his mouth shut and dropped his eyes.
Jack sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, well, I guess I have some experience on that score too. That Daniel I ended up with was a pushy little—”
“Jack…” Daniel’s warning was clear.
Jack shrugged. “You’re not a bad kisser.”
Daniel’s back straightened and he glared at his CO. “Neither are you,” he snapped.
“Hear, hear,” Carter muttered. At a surprised from glance Jack, she cleared her throat. “I mean, I think we were all seduced.”
“By the people who knew us best,” Daniel agreed.
“Without warning,” Teal’c added.
“And pretty damn aggressively, too,” Jack mused thoughtfully, before coming back to himself at Carter’s wide-eyed stare.
“All right, enough,” he announced. “Look, it wasn’t us.” He received three uncomprehending stares. “It wasn’t *us,*” he repeated, flapping his hand between them. “I mean no one on this team had sex with anyone else on this team, okay?” With a challenging glare, he decreed, “So no more weirdness.”
Daniel raised his thick brows. “Jack, you can’t just order us not to feel odd about this.”
“Yes, I can and I am: you are not to feel odd about this,” he pronounced. “Look, we’re the normal ones.”
“Yes, Daniel, we are. And that’s an order too.”
Daniel sighed, rolling his eyes. Carter stared at the floor. Teal’c looked stolidly into the distance.
Jack, grasping at straws to keep them talking, said to Carter, “Wait, I’m not a bad kisser? I thought you were with Teal’c.”
Carter glanced at the jaffa. “Yes, um, Teal’c’s a pretty good kisser too.”
“Well, now that we’ve established that—”
“Wait,” Daniel said, “what about Sam?”
Jack shrugged. “Uh, not bad. You know…”
“For a girl?” Daniel asked.
His teammates stared at him with disbelief, but when his twitching lips betrayed his innocent expression, Carter gave him a hard punch to the shoulder.
“Ow,” Daniel said with an exaggerated whine.
Unrepentant, Carter inquired, “Sorry, don’t I hit like a girl too?”
With even Teal’c showing that softened expression that passed for a smile, Jack gave an inward nod of satisfaction. This was more like it. His team was starting to act like a team again instead of a group of awkward strangers.
He gave Daniel and Teal’c each a clap on the shoulder, nodded to Carter, then turned his attention to the other SG-1s clustered throughout the room.
The closest group had a very chummy O’Neill and Daniel. Guess who, Jack groused internally, watching Colonel Obnoxious and his civilian consultant rub shoulders so hard Jack expected to see smoke curling up from the friction.
The next group had a Carter and Teal’c who were practically sitting in one another’s laps. This was the SG-1 he knew the least of, as none of its members had ended up in Jack’s reality.
The last group was a regular love-fest, with the Teal’c and Daniel standing close enough to start slow-dancing, and the O’Neill and Carter—bingo, again. There was his erstwhile lover, holding hands with her CO, discreetly of course, where the security cameras couldn’t see. Her face was lit up just like it had been last night when—
The O’Neill sensed his gaze and shot him a hostile look that threatened to laser Jack straight between the eyes.
Jack cleared his throat loudly, turning his gaze to include the whole room. “Hey, troops, we all worked out now?”
He received nods from the other three COs.
“Hold on a sec.” He ducked into Hammond’s office and grabbed a roll of masking tape and a black marker from a shelf.
“Okay, I’m designating my team ‘A’ and—”
“The ‘A-Team’?” Colonel Obnoxious drawled. “How original.”
“Team A,” Jack ground out. “You’re Team B,” he continued.
Obnoxious gave a disinterested shrug and muttered, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Jack pointed to Colonel Neutral of the ‘Carter ‘n’ Teal’c’ team. “Team C,” he declared.
Lastly he pointed at Colonel Hostile of the Love Boat team. “Team D.”
He wrote a big letter ‘A’ on the tape, tore off the strip and slapped it onto his own BDU shirt. “Pass it around,” he ordered, handed it off to his own Carter.
As the others set to work labeling themselves, Jack decided to meet Colonel Hostile head-on. He looked blandly at the CO of Team D and asked, “So, does Hammond suspect?”
Hostile met his bland look and raised him a shit-eating grin. “Don’t think much of us, do ya?” he asked, crossing his arms in a pseudo-slouch that Jack had been using to put enemies off their guard for years.
Carter-D placed a placating hand on her O’Neill’s arm, giving Jack a smile that was somehow warm and reproving at the same time. “We have permission to pursue a relationship off-base,” she explained.
More scandalized than chastised, Jack repeated, “Permission? You guys actually walked into Hammond’s office and asked him if you could…” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “make whoopy?”
This time Carter-D joined her CO in a glare.
“Look, buddy,” O’Neill-D grated out, “our personal life is none of your business.”
Jack raised a finger. “No, actually it *is* my business, because *your* personal life has suddenly become *my* personal life, and the rest of my team’s.”
“We needed permission to pursue a *relationship,*” Carter-D corrected primly. “Not to make whoopy.”
“Riiight,” Jack said, drawing out the word solemnly. Jack looked at Hostile and they shared a smirk that the other man couldn’t seem to resist.
Carter-D turned to her O’Neill sharply, suspicion pursing her lips.
Daniel-D waded in with the pedantic observation, “Jack, uh, ‘A,’ you know there’s more to a relationship than making whoopy, as much fun as that is. I mean, it’s not like we’re fooling around on *missions.*”
As unable to resist teasing a pedantic Daniel as Jack himself, O’Neill-D cleared his throat and looked up at the ceiling in exaggerated innocence.
“It was your rule!”
Daniel-D gave his CO’s innocuous countenance a vintage Jackson glare as Team D’s Carter, recovered from her snit, grinned and shook her head at her fellow scientist.
Part admiration, part disbelief, Jack asked them, “When the hell do you guys have time for missions anyway?”
Before the Ds could answer, Jack’s own Teal’c said, “To have come this far in the fight against the Goa’uld, Team D must be at least as effective as ourselves.”
Right, this was the Daniel who got into Teal’c’s pants. Jack looked the apparently unassuming archeologist over, while Teal’c-D looked Teal’c-A over with something less than enthusiasm. Uh oh, big guy, better watch your back.
“Well, sir,” Carter-D began with a guileless smile, “Dr. Frasier may be interested to learn that we had time to devise an anti-quantum regimen to counteract cascade failure.”
“Really?” Carter-A asked, clearly impressed.
“With the Asgard’s help,” the D Team Carter clarified.
Knowing them, they probably jumped in the sack with Thor. Jack kept this observation to himself.
The C Team Carter chimed in, looking pointedly at Jack’s 2IC as she observed, “I’m sure we have *many* things to share.”
Jack just managed not to wince. Double uh oh. The Carter whose Teal’c strayed to the A Team Carter. Cat fight alert.
Carter-A plastered a game smile on her face and lobbed it at her unintentional rival. Teal’c-C aimed an intent stare at the empty far wall, probably thinking a nice little Goa’uld invasion would be just the thing right about now. Meanwhile, the Cs’ Colonel Neutral slouched comfortably against the wall, taking in the afternoon’s entertainment.
Before Carter-C could respond, Team A’s Daniel leaped into the breach to deflect attention from his teammate: “Definitely we need to share information, and compare our timelines too.”
Colonel Obnoxious of the Bs brightened up. “Yeah, let’s compare timelines! Show me yours first?”
As Daniel and his B counterpart both rolled their eyes, Jack found himself bristling. He knew he was being territorial, but he didn’t want any other iteration of himself messing around with his people.
“I think you’ve shared enough with Colonel Cupcake here already,” Jack said.
Jack gave a guilty start when he realized he’d made Daniel blush, but Obnoxious just rubbed him the wrong way.
Daniel-B responded by reeling a spate of German out to the room in general.
Now, Daniel only used German when deeply drunk and feeling the need to be deeply crude. And the remark, whatever it was, caused Daniel-A’s blush to deepen. However, the archeologist had a sly smile as he glanced sidelong at Jack, and the other two Daniels snickered, joining in the covert observation of Jack.
“Okay,” Jack stated, straightening up with as much dignity as he could muster. “First rule: English only.”
Daniel-B raised his brows, giving him a cool stare. Colonel Obnoxious just shrugged and grinned.
Jack ignored both of them. “Next rule: for the remainder of this mission everyone will keep their pants on and their tongues to themselves, understood?”
There were quite a number of glares and mutterings, but Daniel-B’s voice rose above the others with a deceptively casual, “Why?”
“Because this is a military base,” Jack said.
“*We* are not part of this military.”
“Yeah, but *we* are,” Jack ground out, gesturing at his own team. “And *you* reflect back on *us,* get it?”
The icy blue gaze didn’t flicker, but Obnoxious, his grin gone thank god, put a hand on his archeologist’s shoulder. “Danny, he’s right. Now back off.”
Daniel-B gave a tiny shrug.
Hoping that was over, Jack opened his mouth to continue the brief when Daniel-B suddenly observed, “You know, only men who suppress their homosexual tendencies are hostile to the concept.”
“Goddamn it, I do not want to have sex with you!” Jack thundered.
“Not under these circumstances, no,” the little prick obversed.
Struggling to keep a straight face, Obnoxious raised a finger at his supposed subordinate. “Drop it now or I’m hiding your espresso machine when we get back.”
“Fine.” Daniel-D crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair with a thump.
Out of the corner of Jack’s eye he saw the once more grinning Colonel Obnoxious Cupcake wink at Daniel-A, who returned a smile that looked too damn friendly for Jack’s liking.
“If everybody’s finished with the snark and the one-upmanship?” Jack demanded. After a sullen silence, he continued, “All right, so Carters, you think you can figure out something soon?”
The four astrophysicists exchanged a look. “I think a couple hours…?” Carter-A queried.
“Yes, three at the most,” B confirmed.
“I know it’s asking a lot,” Jack said. “After all, we only just figured out what was going on at oh-nine-hundred this morning.”
“On the contrary, O’Neill,” Jack’s own Teal’c said. “I realized during kel’no’reem at approximately oh-seven-hundred hours.”
“Well, the rest of us mere humans weren’t so quick.”
Teal’c bowed indulgently. “Perhaps Daniel Jackson’s presence stimulated my cognitive functions.”
That resulted in all four Daniels blushing and Teal’c-D delivering a stare forbidding enough to fry Junior in Teal’c’s pouch.
“Okaaay, so, let’s get going and get these nice people back where they belong.” A thought occurred to Jack and he asked the Carters, “Hey, is there a reason why we all ended up here in the ‘A’ reality?”
His Carter shrugged. “Just coincidence I think. Sam-D was just a nanosecond faster than the rest of us.”
Jack and Carter-D shared a smirk, much to the renewed hostility of Colonel Hostile.
Jack and his three counterparts clustered in a corner of the shooting range suit-up lobby. They’d been doing the ‘geek-wait’ thing for a while now. That waiting game so familiar to Jack: waiting for Carter or Daniel or both to come up with something brilliant to save the SGC’s collective asses.
After indulging in what Daniel would no doubt refer to as a pissing match out on the shooting range (results inconclusive, their scores were identical), they sat around now at loose ends.
“How about those Avalanches?”
“Nice to know some things are a constant in any universe.”
One of the Daniels stuck his head in the doorway. “Oh there you guys are.” It was Daniel-C and when he came over he said with a smile, “That’s a good hand.”
“Four jacks, it’s a good hand. But wait, I used to know this. What beats four jacks?”
“Nothing, Daniel,” O’Neill-C said. “Four Jacks beat you.”
The four O’Neills smirked.
Daniel pursed his lips. “Uh huh. Funny, I hear four Teal’cs beat the crap out of four Jacks.”
None of them chose to answer and Daniel said, “I take it the pissing match was a draw?”
“Daniel, do you want something?”
The archeologist bounced on the balls of his feet a second, then turned to go, calling over his shoulder as he left the room, “The Sams say another hour tops and we’ll be ready to go.”
Jack glanced over at Obnoxious. “So, I doubt your Daniel’s any easier to get along with than mine, and I couldn’t help wondering…is he worth the trouble?”
“Oh, fuck, yeah.”
“Okaaay. And you never considered Carter?”
“Never?” Hostile asked in disbelief.
“I’m not saying Carter’s not worth the trouble,” Obnoxious said. “But the cost to her career, and the command structure of SG-1? It’s just too high a price.”
“Don’t look at me,” Colonel Neutral said. “I kissed that long-haired AU Carter, that’s it.”
“That’s when I knew,” Hostile said.
Jack remembered that kiss, the intense sadness, disappointment and resignation in the alternate Carter’s eyes. It wasn’t remotely a turn-on, and in fact, if anything, it renewed his determination to keep romance out of SG-1.
Hostile had turned accusing eyes on Jack.
“Hey, I’m with him,” Jack said, pointing at O’Neill-C. “That was it for me too. Until yesterday.”
“Nobody asked you to jump my girl.”
“Oh, the jumping was all hers,” Jack assured him. “You’re just jealous that Teal’c-C got to my Carter before you did.”
“That I won’t even dignify with a response.”
Which Jack took to mean he was right.
Daniel and his three counterparts had helped the Sams as much as they could, and when they’d informed the Jacks of the current timetable, they convened in Daniel’s office.
Setting a delicate marl clay pot he’d been examining aside, Daniel-B suddenly pinned Daniel with an intense stare. “Why did you do it?”
“You went from zero to full penetration in one night. Why?”
“So did Teal’c,” Daniel said, arms moving automatically to their defensive self-hug.
Daniel-D snorted. “Teal’c’s had plenty of experience bottoming, believe me.”
“I’m not trying to start a fight,” Daniel-B said softening his tone. “I just want to know.”
Daniels C and D looked on with sympathy and curiosity. True, there was no anger in Daniel-B’s face. And if he couldn’t bare his soul to these particular three men, to whom could he?
Daniel didn’t try to hide his blush. He kept his head high and explained, “Jack…is important to me.” He glanced around and the others all nodded. “I…love him. Not *in* love, mind you, but…I’ve been alone so long. If he wanted to try a relationship… He’s the one with everything to lose.” He paused, then said simply, “I wouldn’t let him down. Yes, it happened so fast, I should’ve realized something was off. I know he’d never move that fast in, uh, *real life,* but, well, he tells me I can talk an Abydonian into buying sand, but he can be pretty damn persuasive himself.”
Daniel-B nodded slowly, a private smile on his lips.
“He really loves you,” Daniel said, facing B fully.
B glanced back sidelong, the smile growing. “Yeah.”
“I’m not sure I could take that intensity, but I admire you for taking what you want, what you deserve.”
“Both of you,” he added, including Daniel-D. D nodded and Daniel thought how much more confident these two were, Daniels B and D. D especially: the guy had seduced Teal’c, you don’t get much more self-confident than that.
Would being in love give Daniel that same self-confidence? The confidence he remembered from his year on Abydos with Shau’ri? Perhaps he would never know.
Daniel-C was watching Daniel as if reading, and sharing, his thoughts. With a brisk supportive nod to B and D, the C-Team archeologist stated, “Yes, you guys deserve your happiness,” but a note of sadness was plain in his voice.
Daniel-D looked A and C over with sympathy. “Are you guys ever lonely?”
“SG-1 is my family,” Daniel said stoutly.
“Yes, and Janet and Cassie and even Hammond,” C agreed.
“No, I mean romantically, are you ever lonely?”
Daniel and his C counterpart looked at one another and answered simultaneously: “All the time.”
Teal’c and his three counterparts sat at a central table in the SGC commissary, the walls around them as crowded with personnel as the walls of a middle school mixer were with wallflowers.
Teal’c allowed himself an inner satisfaction at the correct use of one of O’Neill’s favorite metaphors.
The wall-hugging SGC Tau’ri were justifiably cautious of the four jaffa warriors who sat in silence, eyes glittering as they looked one another over, steadily eating their way through the impressive quantity of food spread out over their tabletop.
After the mountain of mashed potatoes, the tureen of gravy, the stack of steaks, the mound of green beans, the four loaves of garlic toast and four gallons of apple-grape mixed with mango juice had been consumed, Teal’c-D wiped his mouth, sat back in his chair and stated without preamble to Teal’c, “Upon reflection, I do not believe kra’noc to be called for in this situation.”
The surrounding personnel edged their tables further away and several yards of empty space now separated the jaffa from the rest of the room’s occupants.
Teal’c raised a brow. “No Daniel Jackson, regardless of reality, would consciously betray his calak. The Daniel Jackson of my reality told me of your accusations. It is possible you do not deserve the honor of your cre’on’s love. The fact that you doubt him disturbs me.” He leaned forward an inch, his voice deepening. “Perhaps kra’noc is called for after all.”
The Tau’ri cowered further to the walls, many dropping their eating utensils and fleeing for the exit with undue haste.
Teal’c-D froze, stunned by Teal’c’s words. A moment passed as the D-reality jaffa thought deeply, B and C observing without interference.
Then Teal’c-D drew himself up with hollow dignity. “Kra’noc is not called for. One must have had honor in the first place in order to restore it. I have shown myself to possess none.”
The four lapsed into silence again, as another rushed exodus fled the room, the few remaining Tau’ri sitting frozen in indecision.
Teal’c-C inclined his head in a small bow, and said, “I myself felt a moment of doubt and jealousy regarding my love Samantha. These emotions are detestable and unworthy, but perhaps inevitable to sentient beings. If Teal’c-D be judged without honor, then I must also.”
More silence, broken only by the furtive shuffling of humans edging towards the door.
Teal’c-B spoke with slow deliberation: “Romantic entanglements may lead to great weaknesses.” Then he concluded decisively, “Yet they may also lead to great strengths.”
Teal’c studied his D counterpart. Finally seeing what he desired in the depths of the other jaffa’s eyes, Teal’c bowed low over the table. “Kra’noc is indeed not called for.”
The other three nodded in turn, satisfied, and the four jaffa continued to sit in the commissary, empty of personnel now save for themselves.
Sam and her three counterparts perched on stools in her lab, the technical chatter dying down now that they’d hammered out a procedure and the other lab techs had gone. Sam herself sat at her laptop typing out a quick proposal to present to the general before they returned to the planet.
“It’s not logical, but I can’t get over this feeling of jealousy, even though I know full-well Teal’c must have been the aggressor.”
Sam looked up over her screen, startled, and found Sam-C spinning a disc of watch-glass on the workbench like a top, only looking up when Sam did.
“If love was a matter of logic, they’d give out degrees in it,” Sam-D said, her smile rueful.
“I know.” Sam-C waved the glass in dismissal.
“If I had known,” Sam began, “I mean if I knew he was with someone else… Well, obviously, if *he* knew he was with someone else…” She paused, flustered, but the other women had nothing but sympathetic smiles. “I thought Teal’c was proposing a new relationship, and,” she cleared her throat, “obviously I was interested…”
“It’s okay, obviously I was interested too,” Sam-C said.
They all laughed. Sam-C slapped the watch-glass down firmly. “Ugh—” She shook herself. “I’ll get over it eventually,” she declared. “But what about your Teal’c? Are you still interested?”
“Well…back to logic: I know it sounds cold, but is a relationship with an alien the best move for your career?”
The C-Team astrophysicist gave Sam a compassionate smile, touching her lightly on the hand. “I know. The same thoughts passed through my head at first. No, it’s probably not the best thing for my career. Would I give him up because of that? Not for all the oak leaf insignias the Air Force owns.”
Not sure if she could make that same decision, the smile Sam returned was a little sad. Then she glanced at Sam-D, and continued, “Plus, I always kind of thought the colonel and I might… Well, there was that whole zatarc thing.”
Sam-B held up a hand. “Whoa, don’t base any wedding invitations on that. The colonel cares for *all* of his team more than he should. And after watching him and Daniel knock heads for a year, I think I’m safer sticking with my career.”
“Safer maybe, but I wouldn’t trade my relationship with Jack for anything,” Sam-D said.
Sam peered over the laptop screen at the D Team astrophysicist. “Your Jack was willing to fight Teal’c for you. Uh, not sure he would have won, but…”
They laughed again, somewhat guiltily this time.
“How are you doing though?” Sam-C asked D. “Maybe it’s sexist, but it’s one thing for the guys to go bed-hopping. It must’ve been a heck of a shock for you.”
Picking up the watch-glass in turn and rolling it like a wheel on the bench, Sam-D said, “I know I have nothing to feel guilty about, *logically.*” They all grinned and she shrugged. “Like C says, I’ll get over it. Oh, and your colonel was a perfect gentleman,” she assured Sam. “Or at least as much of a gentleman as any Jack O’Neill can be.” More guilty laughter as they checked the doorway. “He kept throwing me these goofy looks that he probably thought were supportive.”
“How’s your Jack taking it?”
“He’ll come to terms. I don’t need a zatarc to know that.”
“Damn straight we don’t need a zatarc, Carter,” Colonel O’Neill stated as he suddenly strode through the doorway. “Why would we?”
Four guilty starts greeted him, followed by an exchange of sly smiles. As a suspicious frown descended over his face, Sam, seeing it was Team A’s colonel, answered for the group: “Oh, we were just agreeing that we don’t need a zatarc to understand our true feelings, sir.”
The colonel winced, his frown deepening. “Yeah…feelings… Uh, so about this mission, we ready to rock’n’roll?”
“Yes, sir. I’m printing out the proposal right now.”
“Then as far as I’m concerned, we have a go.” He turned tail and strode back out the doorway even faster than he’d come in.
As the Sams made ready to leave, Sam-B whispered, “I suspect it was Colonel O’Neill, in the Isolation Room, with the Zatarc…”
They all recognized the ‘Clue’ reference and only just managed to bring their unprofessional giggling under control before they exited the room.
Bathed in the blue glow of an active wormhole, sixteen members of four SG-1s stepped out into P9S-098’s deserted chamber.
The wormhole cut out and Jack lost count, finally giving up and calling out, “So, is everyone here?”
His counterparts gave him sarcastic looks which he took to mean ‘yes.’
While the Teal’cs and a couple of the O’Neills ranged out to check the archways for signs of possible hostiles, the Carters and Daniels hunkered down to unship some of the equipment from their backpacks. Not the big WTF Detector this time, they knew where the thing was now, just a few small sensors, a laptop or two, and the dampening field generator.
Daniel-A stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Too bad you guys have to go so soon. We never got the chance to exchange any information.”
“You heard Janet,” one of the Carters said. “The presence of so many doppelgangers is speeding the entropic cascade exponentially, even with the D’s Asgard regimen.”
“Yeah, still though,” he said, “if we’d known what was going on last night we could’ve talked instead of…um…doing what we…um…” He trailed off, apparently trapped in a sentence with no escape.
“You wanted to talk?” Colonel Obnoxious asked in exaggerated disbelief.
Daniel-C crossed his arms. “What *you* did, you mean. No one tried to have sex with *me.*”
Teal’c-D approached him. “With your permission, Daniel Jackson.” It wasn’t clear which Daniel Jackson he meant, but he didn’t exactly wait for permission anyhow. He enveloped the smaller man, pulling Team C’s archeologist into a kiss, as various grinning Carters filed past them.
“Hey, what’d I say?” Jack called.
“You said no tongue, Jack,” Daniel-A observed. “You didn’t say no kissing.”
An involuntary look at the kissing men’s cheeks made it quite clear that tongues were indeed in play. “Damn it.”
“Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.”
“Ew,” Jack stated, though his heart wasn’t really in it.
Teal’c-D’s Daniel stood to one side looking indulgent, but tolerance changed to irritation the longer the kiss continued. He said something loudly in Goa’uld that had the other Daniels smirking and the Teal’cs raising their brows. Finally, arms akimbo, he shouted at his teammate, “Come on, Teal’c, you’re going to put him into cardiac arrest.”
With a moist smack Jack pretended he didn’t hear, Teal’c released the dazed Daniel, helping to hold him upright as he straightened his glasses.
“Hey!” Jack called brightly. “If it’s not too much trouble, maybe we could complete the mission now, whadya think?”
Teal’c-D appeared to give this serious thought, eventually giving a bow in solemn agreement.
“Okay then,” Jack growled. “O’Neills and Teal’cs, pair off and take perimeter. There’s no telling if whoever the hell set us up may come back to check on their body snatcher routine. We need to give the Science Octuplets as much space and time as possible. Daniels, you guys back the Carters up. And, uh, do that thing you guys do.”
Four sets of thick brows lowered in suspicious confusion. “Thing?” Daniel-A asked for them all.
Colonel Hostile waved a hand. “You know, that science twin thing you geeks do.”
“Yeah,” the B O’Neill said. “That bouncing ideas off each other deal.”
The Carters grinned. “Okay, sirs, I think we understand,” Carter-C said, nudging her still-frowning Daniel.
“Hell,” O’Neill-C said, “between the eight of you, you might think about solving world hunger while you’re at it.”
As the herd of geeks took off toward the Ancient lab down Carter’s original hallway, Jack said, “The rest of us, let’s try and see if we can make it to the end of the hallways for once.”
It didn’t take long for their reconnaissance to discover all four hallways linked to an outer circle of corridor, the whole complex a blind with no obvious exits to the surface or purpose other than to house the lab.
Jack assigned one hall each to the four O’Neill-Teal’c pairs, he and his Teal’c taking the one containing the lab. He sent Teal’c down toward the stargate chamber while he peeked in on the scientists. He’d just caught a brief glimpse of a couple of the Carters wiring up a laptop interface to the Ancient consol while the Daniels argued over an obscure point of translation when the sound of a wormhole engaging echoed down the hallway behind him and just like that the mission went to hell.
“Daniels,” he called. “Watch the Carters’ sixes!”
Jack started toward the ‘gate chamber at a run, a chorus of “Right, Jack”s behind him. He skidded to a halt beside Teal’c and peered out from the concealing shadows of the archway.
There were an uncomfortably large number of sticky, watery fwumps as jaffa after jaffa exited the ‘gate. When it finally shut down, there were at least twenty Gou’ald soldiers standing at attention in the chamber.
Their foreheads sported hawk-wing symbols and Jack whispered to Teal’c, “Heru-ur’s guys, huh? Good call, T.”
He took Teal’c’s raised brow to mean it wasn’t this particular Teal’c who’d made that comment. Whatever.
The majority of the soldiers gathered to receive instructions from their lieutenant, an ugly dude with a scar running down one cheek, while four other jaffa stood apart from the rest, each keeping their eyes on the dark archways in which the SG-1s hid.
Teal’c translated softly in Jack’s ear: “They are instructed to find and kill any Tau’ri in the complex, as well as destroy any mechanisms or machinery they encounter.”
Jack backed up, inserted his earpiece and triggered his radio. “You guys catching this?” he whispered.
Through the earpiece, his own voice came back times three: “Yeah.” “Roger that.” “Who the hell invited these guys?”
“Okay,” Jack said, “we need to give the geeks some time. Cs, draw them to your position on my mark. Everybody else, open fire when I do.”
Again came the acknowledgements, reluctant to grant Jack command status but prompt. An O’Neill is stubborn, but orders is orders.
At a last word from Ugly-Scar the Lieutenant, the jaffa split into four groups and started toward the four hallways. When the groups came close, Jack triggered his radio. From the hallway branching off behind the ‘gate, came a scraping thump, loud enough to attract all the soldiers’ attention, but not so threatening as to start them shooting. Jack knew it was Colonel Neutral scraping the butt of his P-90 on the stone wall.
All the jaffa halted, some half-turning back, unsure. Even the three guards covering the other archways were distracted and the lieutenant walked over to investigate.
Jack raised his own P-90, and took careful aim. “Now, Teal’c,” he ordered quietly.
As Teal’c blasted the guard closest to them with his staff, Jack squeezed his trigger and the lieutenant went down.
Then bullets and energy blasts poured from the other three hallways and the jaffa scattered in the fiery chaos.
Like every fire fight, this one took on a life of its own, ruled only by fate and happenchance. It started as a slaughter of hopelessly exposed jaffa soldiers, bodies collecting on red-drenched flagstones.
Now it segued to two separate surviving jaffa camps holding their own: one at the ‘gate using it for cover, pinning down the Cs in the back-most hallway with a relentless flow of blistering flame, and a second group crouched in a sheltered angle of wall between Jack’s archway and the Bs’ to the right.
Jack and Teal’c couldn’t get a proper angle to connect a shot, and the other counterparts who could have were occupied by the jaffa group at the ‘gate.
The radio signaled in Jack’s ear, warning him as two Carter and Daniel pairs joined him from behind, weapons at-ready.
“We figured four Sams and Daniels were enough to handle the device,” one of the Daniels shouted breathlessly above the noise of weapons-fire.
There was a shout of Goa’uld from the ‘gate chamber and Jack swung back in time to see the five jaffa at the wall had rushed the B hallway.
“Damn it!” Jack triggered his radio. “Team D! Do whatever you have to do, but neutralize those jaffa at the ‘gate! Now! We need back up for the Bs!”
Then at Jack’s signal, he and his group swung out into the chamber and pelted to Team B’s hallway.
They skidded around the corner, finding they were too late to join the fight. Three of the jaffa had gone, Jack could hear them pounding further down the corridor in the distance. The other two jaffa were down and out.
Unfortunately, the Bs were down too. Teal’c-B leaned against a wall, attempting to pull himself up, blood running down one arm. Colonel Obnoxious lay moaning dramatically on the floor, holding his head.
Jack keyed his radio. “Heads up, everyone! Three hostiles have penetrated the perimeter. Repeat, three jaffa loose somewhere down the goddamn back hallway. Daniels and Carters in the lab, watch yourselves, we’re on our way.”
“Trouble, A-Team?” came an O’Neill’s voice from behind.
The C and D O’Neills and Teal’cs sauntered up, picking their way through the litter of downed Heru-ur soldiers. They’d obviously neutralized the jaffa at the ‘gate, as ordered.
“The Bs let three jaffa past them,” Jack explained.
“Hey, we got two of them,” Obnoxious groused from the floor. “I’d like to see you do better, Colonel Smith.”
Jack frowned. ‘Colonel Smith?’ That was the best nickname Colonel Cupcake could come up with? Then he realized it was a reference to Colonel Hannibal Smith of ‘The A-Team’ and his scowl darkened.
Obnoxious was sitting up, one of the Daniels griping the officer’s head like a vice to gauge the seriousness of a bleeding gash to the temple. Not serious at all, Jack was certain from the way Obnoxious was bitching under his breath. When the Daniel tried to clean the blood up, O’Neill-B slapped his hand away. “Jeez, Danny, enough, I’m okay!”
Jack realized it was the B Daniel fussing over his colonel. As Daniel-B stood up, his jaw set with irritation, Jack’s own Carter-A helped Obnoxious to his feet.
“Do you want a bandage, sir?” she asked.
Obnoxious shook his head, then winced. “Nah, it can wait for the infirmary. Take care of Teal’c.”
But Daniel-A and Carter-B had just finishing wrapping up Team B’s jaffa, and he climbed to his feet, holding his arm carefully.
Carter-A said, “Looks like you have a cut yourself, sir.”
It took Jack a second to realize she meant him, and he touched his cheek, only just aware of the pain.
“What? Is he okay?” Daniel-B rounded his concerned frown on Jack.
“It’s nothing,” Jack said. “Probably a ricocheting stone flake. You’re fretting over the wrong guy.”
“I don’t want to see *any* Jack O’Neill hurt, not even the ones who are assholes.”
Colonel Neutral grinned. “Take my word for it, Dannyboy. We’re all assholes.”
Daniel-B crossed his arms, sharing an inscrutable look with Jack’s own Daniel. “So I’m coming to understand,” he said.
Doing a piss-poor job of suppressing a smile, Jack’s Carter said, “Sir, are you sure you don’t want me to—”
“Yes, Carter, I’m sure,” he barked.
The blonde officer’s smile only grew, and she joined in with the inscrutable look of her fellow geeks.
Jack shook his head, then looked over at Teal’c-B. “T, you ready to ride?”
Brow cocked, the jaffa responded, “If such an activity is deemed necessary, I am, O’Neill-A.”
“Come on, then, we need to check on the lab.”
There was no sign of enemy jaffa in the hall, and when they arrived at the lab the two Daniels guarding the open door confirmed there’d been no trouble.
As the others filed into the room and various Teal’cs took over guard duty, Jack looked to the two Carters at the consol in the alcove. They hovered over the instruments, staring and muttering, but not really doing anything.
“So, Carter,” he asked no one in particular. “It doesn’t matter who trips the switch, right?”
“Right, sir,” one of the two astrophysicists at the consol answered. “We’ve rigged it to send anyone in its sphere of influence—”
“It’s actually more of a cone-like shape,” the other Carter observed, “which is interesting because it explains how—”
“Ack!” Jack cried, flapping his hands desperately.
“Uh, right,” the first continued. “So basically, as long as you’re in its cone of influence, which definitely includes this hallway, it will detect an entity’s chromatic resonance and align it to its proper reality.”
“Go on, push the button then,” Jack ordered.
“No, wait,” Daniel-D said. “We can’t leave Team A alone, they’ll be out-numbered.”
“There’s only a few,” Jack growled. “We can handle ‘em. Go while the going’s good.”
“But what about the jaffa in other the realities?” Carter-A asked.
Teal’c-C said, “I do not think they will be there.”
“That’s true,” a Daniel said. “As far as the other Heru-urs are concerned, their SG-1s are gone. They’ll have checked out the chambers and left empty handed by now.”
Carter-A bit her lip. “Still though…”
Teal’c-C smiled. “Do not fear for our safety, Samantha Carter,” he rumbled.
Once again Jack’s prohibition against kissing was broken as his 2IC went up to her tiptoes, giving the jaffa a quick peck on the cheek and a brilliant smile. “I won’t,” she said.
Jack gripped his P-90 and said, “All righty then. I’m setting a reduced perimeter.”
“Just this hallway?” Hostile asked.
With acknowledging nods that were goodbyes as well, the C and D O’Neill and Teal’c pairs left the lab.
Daniel-D looked as torn as Carter-A had been and he touched Teal’c-A’s arm tentatively. “You sure you’ll be ok without us?”
“We will prevail in this instance,” Teal’c stated, then continued in lower tones, “However, your presence with be missed, Daniel Jackson.”
At Daniel-D’s smile, Teal’c gave a small bow.
“So this is it,” Jack’s own Daniel said to Colonel Obnoxious. The archeologist made to shake hands, but, obnoxious to the end, the B Team’s CO gave him a squeeze to the nape of the neck.
“Take care of yourself, Danny,” he ordered.
Daniel reddened, but returned a pleased smile. “Okay, Jack. You too.”
Jack raised a brow at Obnoxious. “Scarecrow, I think I’m gonna miss you most of all…”
“Wish I could say the feelings mutual.”
Just then they heard weapons’ fire in hallway, and the remaining other-reality O’Neills and Teal’cs raced from the room.
Over the radio, an O’Neill shouted, “Here they come!”
“Team A, take cover!” Jack yelled. “Carter! Throw the damn switch!”
Jack didn’t even know which Carter it was at the consol any more, but when he looked, she stood staring back at him, a stricken expression on her beautiful face and he realized it was D.
For a moment all he could think was that he’d never gotten a last kiss from her. ‘Goodbye,’ he mouthed.
She rallied, gave him a tight smile and threw the switch.
Again came the odd thumping noise and then his SG-1 was alone once more.
Alone if you didn’t court the three jaffa bursting through the open doorway that is.
A staff bolt shot over Jack’s ducking head and struck the alcove behind him. Then SG-1 returned fire and the jaffa went down quickly, so quickly that Jack stood up, shaking his cap out and preparing a quip about anticlimaxes.
However, a sizzling explosion came from the blasted machinery behind him, spoiling his delivery.
As her linked laptop flared and smoked, Carter made to run toward the flaming console, but Daniel grabbed her, holding her back.
“Uh, Jack,” he began, “I think…”
“Yeah,” Jack confirmed. “A strategic retreat is in order.”
“Maybe at a dead run?” Daniel suggested.
“Advisable,” Teal’c agreed.
Carter dithered, speechless with dismay as sparks flew from the ruined equipment, spreading around the Ancient laboratory, blazing from consol to consol.
“I’ll find you another playpen, Carter!” Jack shouted as the high-pitched hum of overloading circuitry filled the room. “Let’s move!”
And as Jack and his team ran from the increasingly loud explosions, he had no doubts. Of course they would reach the ‘gate in time. They were his team, *his* by god, and he treasured every one of them.
Every techno-babbling, flaky, humorless one of them.
Empty Chinese takeout boxes littered Jack’s coffee table, mute evidence of the appetite and exhaustion of SG-1 as the team likewise littered the floor of Jack’s living room. Teal’c sat cross-legged at one end of the table, the slight slump of his posture only noticeable to those who knew him well. Jack and Daniel lounged back again the couch, long legs stretched out under the table. Opposite them, Carter lay curled up on a thick rug, cushy stool and pillows propping her up.
Daniel, who’d just delivered his teammates fresh-brewed coffee, peered over the rim of his mug and observed with deceptive mildness, “This has been an odd 48 hours.”
Conversation had been desultory so far, with no mention made of what Jack considered to be the elephant in the room. And no mention would be made if Jack had anything to do—
“So now we know what having sex with each other would be like.”
“Damn it, Daniel! I repeat, none of us made whoopy with each other. Case closed.”
“Well, I think Daniel’s right, sir,” Carter said. “We can’t just ignore it.”
“A thing must be acknowledged, O’Neill, before it can be conquered,” Teal’c said.
Jack ran an exasperated hand through his hair. “Okay. So talk.”
Carter and Teal’c looked nonplussed, but Daniel sat up a bit, willing as always to talk. “Well, I did notice,” he began, “that in the two realities where I was in a relationship, those relationships were…”
“A little fruity?” Jack hazarded.
“Homosexual in nature.”
“Ah.” Jack paused to consider. “I noticed that too,” he concluded brightly.
“Probably doesn’t mean anything.”
“No, of course not.”
“I mean, infinite possibilities and all that.”
Everyone held their coffee in silence for a moment.
Daniel looked to Carter. “Sam, do you think there’s a reality where you and I…?”
She gave him a warm smile. “Oh, yes, Daniel, I’m sure of it.” Silence again as Carter sipped her coffee. When she looked up at Daniel again her smile had turned mischievous. “So, how’d you like the two alpha males fighting over you?”
Daniel scowled. “Oh, I loved it. Just what I dreamt of as a young girl in my pretty pink bedroom.”
Teal’c raised a brow at the archeologist. “I did not realize pink was a favorite color of yours, Daniel Jackson.”
Jack choked a laugh off into a painful snort.
“That was sarcasm, Teal’c,” Daniel ground out, his narrowed eyes fixed on Jack.
Jack cleared his throat. “Well, couldn’t’ve been as bad as the cat fight we had going on here.”
“Jack, I talked to Daniel-B. It was not a cat fight.”
“Well, yeah, he would say that.”
“Are you implying that Sam and I should be fighting over you?”
Hands raised in innocence, Jack said, “Daniel, you’re that one who brought all this up.”
“Is it so odd to think that there’s some part of you that’s willing to fight Teal’c for me?”
“Not me, Daniel,” Jack growled. “And I still don’t understand why you jumped into bed with him so quickly.”
“You were just so insistent, Jack.”
“It wasn’t me, it was Colonel Cupcake.”
“But he looked like you, Jack. Exactly like you. All over.”
“I get the picture, Daniel.”
“Really? You do?”
“Okay, you win, Daniel.”
“Funny, that’s just what the other Jack said.”
“Drop it, Daniel.”
“I just want to be clear about what I won. Hey, remember when I said I wanted to go back P4S-227 to document the carving on that stelae and you did your Marlon Brando-Streetcar Named Desire imitation, ignoring correct pronunciation of course, and told me to forget about it?”
“Don’t push your luck, Daniel.”
“Jack, you know that little sound you make when you…you know?”
“You know the one, when you’re almost there, but not quite—”
“Daniel! I’m warning you!”
“Warning me about what, Jack? I was just asking you about—”
“Okay! I’ll talk to the general.”
“Thank you for your generosity.”
Jack gave him a glare a lesser man would have run from. “You know there’s not a court in the country that would convict me. I never want to hear about this again.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind discussing it, from time to time. It’s just fascinating to compare…” The archeologist took a second look at Jack’s expression. “But maybe only when absolutely necessary,” he finished quickly, diving back into his coffee.
Judging the evening’s installment of ‘The Jack and Daniel Show’ to be over, Teal’c set his empty cup on the table. “I do not understand why homosexuality is censured by the Tau’ri. I would view a relationship with Daniel Jackson as equally honorable as one with Major Carter.”
He gave a half bow, his two young teammates looking pleased even as they blushed. “My counterparts chose well for the realities they inhabit.”
“Exactly,” Jack jumped in. “For their realities. Not ours.”
“Really?” Daniel mused. “Seems I heard you did some quick bed jumping of your own, Jack.”
Jack shrugged, forcing himself to meet Carter’s inquisitive eyes. “Hey, I wasn’t the one talking about my reproductive organs the first time we met.”
Carter’s blush deepened as Daniel hid a smile behind his mug. Then she looked up again resolutely. “Sir, I won’t pretend I haven’t done a little late night thinking about you,” she said. “Each of you,” she amended including Daniel and Teal’c in her steady gaze.
Jack wondered if her ‘late night thinking’ involved the use of lube and tissues the way *his* late night thinking did.
“And I can see why Sams C and D made their choices. But…I think I agree with the colonel. Their solutions aren’t necessarily our solutions.”
Nodding, Jack remained silent until Carter prompted, “Your turn, Colonel.”
He shrugged again, trying for nonchalance. “I’m not sorry it happened,” he said, unable to keep a certain amount of defiance out of his voice. “But I don’t want it to happen again.” He wiped crumbs off the table methodically. “I, uh, I like us the way we are.”
“As do I,” Teal’c rumbled.
“Me, too,” Carter agreed with a soft smile.
Daniel nodded. “Me, four.”
Again they contemplated their coffee in quiet, until Daniel said, “At least in the other realities the Ancient chamber will be intact. Maybe we’ll see them all again some day.”
Carter shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’m afraid the staff-blast energy will have followed the open quantum pathway after the other SG-1s. When they reached their own realities, the blast would’ve been a few seconds behind them. I’m sure they all made it out of their chambers in time, but the chain reaction would’ve taken out the room the same as in our reality.”
“So we’re on our own,” Daniel said quietly.
Jack gave a decisive nod. “Same as always.”
A pensive stillness fell. Time passed and the fire died down, and the four teammates contemplated one another in silence.
Sam looked at Teal’c, and envied her non-conformist counterpart, tossing aside caution and propriety in pursuit of a love as pure and powerful as the man himself…
…as Teal’c looked at Daniel, his features a stone-like mask as he speculated on exactly what expression his face had held when Daniel Jackson had called him beautiful…
…as Daniel looked at Jack, wondering if he was taking the coward’s way out in giving up without a fight a love that could hold so much joy along with the pain of lowering his protective walls…
…as Jack looked at Sam, allowing rules and regulations to flow away, as immaterial as water, allowing himself to see her simply as a beautiful and desirable woman, for the last time.
Jack and Daniel lay in mussed sheets, naked limbs tangled as their breathing returned to normal.
“So?” Daniel said.
“So how do we compare?”
“I want to know.”
“He was very sweet, very shy—”
“Shy? You want shy?”
Daniel pulled away, trying to get his legs out from between his CO’s, but Jack anticipated him, pinning him down on the bed.
“…Shy until I warmed him up,” Jack amplified, demonstrating with a tug of his teeth on his partner’s pouting lip followed by a slow, deep kiss.
“And you want me to warm you up?” Daniel eventually asked, licking his kiss-reddened lips.
Jack didn’t need to answer, letting the younger man flip them over and pin him to the mattress in turn. Daniel then leisurely worked his way down to Jack’s groin.
“Oh, yeah,” Jack groaned quietly. “Definitely worth the trouble.”
“Are you jealous, Samantha?”
The words vibrated through their bare skin as Sam lay nestled in Teal’c’s arms, the glow from his kel’no’reem candles transforming the dull gray walls of the jaffa’s quarters into the sheltering cave-like retreat Sam considered it to be.
“Yes,” she answered in some surprise. “Still! And it’s ticking me off.”
The big man rumbled in amusement. “This merely confirms your love for me,” he stated.
She twisted around to look up at him in irritation, then unknowingly echoed her counterpart: “Confident bastard, aren’t you?”
“Indeed,” he confirmed. “I consider it a testament of my love for you that Samantha-A responded as she did.” His strong hand cupped his lover’s cheek and he nuzzled her neck.
“Oh, that’s what you consider it? Well, there might be another interpretation of that particular—mrph…”
Teal’c’s lips had traveled to her own, effectively silencing her, and Sam felt a familiar, and pleasurable, stirring from within as her own kisses were drawn from her.
Coming up for air one last time, she observed, “On second thought, I think your interpretation contains a certain merit.”
The litter of Chinese takeout boxes on Jack’s coffee table was much the same as in another reality, but the two intertwined couples occupying the floor space in front of the fire was not.
Teal’c sat somewhat stiffly up again an ottoman, Daniel facing him, straddling his lap. “Nevertheless,” the jaffa said, “I am perturbed that a man possessing your powers of observation could fail to perceive the reality behind surface appearances.”
Before Daniel could respond, Jack peered up over Sam’s head as the two officers lay together. “Oh my god, Teal’c, are you…pouting?”
“You should talk, Colonel O’Neill,” Sam said, releasing Jack with a disapproving frown.
“Look, Teal’c,” Daniel said. “Both you and Jack have a right to be, uh, a little miffed, but—”
“‘A little miffed!’” Jack shouted. “Our significant others jump in the sack with the first pretty faces they see...”
“Jack!” Daniel glared.
Sam looked her lover over incredulously. “‘Pretty face’? I suggest you look in the mirror, flyboy, and get back to me sometime.” She crossed her arms and lay back, staring pointedly at the ceiling.
“Hey! I resemble that remark!”
“You resemble something, all right,” Sam muttered.
“Friends and teammates,” Daniel called, his voice rising above Jack’s sputter. “I would like to point out that the love Sam and I hold for our respective warriors is the very reason that we strayed to your counterparts.”
Teal’c cocked a brow in the resulting silence. “Your reasoning, Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel’s expression softened and he cupped the stern face of his beloved. “He seemed so lost. I could never let my calak suffer alone.”
Teal’c’s harshness dissolved as Daniel brought their lips together. The jaffa threaded his fingers through Daniel’s hair, clutching the archeologist with a desperation he couldn’t hide. When their kiss ended he observed with a low-pitched breathlessness not normally associated with the stoic jaffa, “Your reasoning is perceptive as always, ona cre’on.”
“I told you there’d be joy in Mudville tonight,” Jack murmured in Sam’s ear.
“You told *me*?”
“Well, I told some beautiful lady who looked a lot like you…”
Sam rolled back to face him, stroking a delicate finger along his scarred eyebrow. “Daniel’s right. That Jack was so lonely, sitting there with his beer and his frozen dinner… How could I not love him?”
Jack shrugged, but when Sam’s hand passed over his cheek, he drew her palm to his lips and kissed it. Sam surged up, flattened her lover out to sit astraddle him and leaned down, kissing him thoroughly.
Beside them, Teal’c glanced over at their tangled forms and then at his own panting lover and calmly observed, “Team A may be a formidable power in the fight against the Goa’uld of their reality. However their teambuilding nights cannot be as enjoyable as our own.”
|Category:||Jack/Daniel, Jack/Sam, Daniel/Teal'c, Teal'c/Sam|
|Genres:||First Time, Humor, Team|
|Summary:||Gen meets Slash meets Ship in this comedy of mistaken identities.|
Warning: there's both slash and het in here; skim as desired.