"And once again, trees."
Daniel ran his hand through his hair and resettled his boonie. "These are different than what we usually gate into." He took two steps forward, toward the edge of clearing, and stopped at Jack's unmistakable gesture. "They're more Mediterranean, less lower British Columbia."
He shrugged and returned to Jack's side. "Just making an observation."
Both men winced.
"I thought you were going to teach her how to swear," Daniel muttered as they walked back to the gate platform.
Jack shrugged. "It didn't take." Stepping up onto the circle of dressed rock supporting both the gate and the DHD, he raised his voice. "What'd you find, Carter?"
"Sir, this is incredible! The MALP wasn't malfunctioning. This planet is… is…"
Daniel didn't think he'd ever seen Sam so worked up she had to actually search for words. "Is?" he prompted.
"Is *loaded* with naquadah! And trinium! It's like…" Her sudden smile lit up the clearing. "…like a coating of delicious topsoil over a chewy naquadah center!"
All three men blinked. Jack recovered first. "That's great news, Carter. I think you've even got Teal'c excited."
Standing behind Sam, staff weapon resting on his shoulder, Teal'c raised the expected eyebrow but his gaze flickered just for an instant down onto the woman in front of him.
Not for the first time, Daniel wondered just how much innuendo the Jaffa understood. And if there was some…
Jerked out from his speculations, he blinked at Jack. "What?"
"UAV showed people…?"
"About three kilometers that way." He pointed straight out from the gate fully aware that Jack not only knew exactly where the UAV had spotted the buildings but what terrain they were expected to cover and how long it would take them to do it. The question was just Jack's way of keeping him focused on the task at hand. He'd already had the lecture.
~ "Because once we start moving though unknown territory, we've got to all be thinking about the same thi… Jesus, DANIEL!"
He worked his hand a little further into Jack's jeans with zero intention of spending their Sunday afternoon talking about work. "You were complaining about my focus, Colonel?"
"Must've been some other… fuck… guy." ~
Oops. That time he hadn't even heard the question. "Sorry, I was just…"
He turned as Jack did, to see half a dozen men come out of the trees. Three of them were carrying heavy spears, two of them shorter, lighter spears that were probably javelins, and the last man appeared to be unarmed except for the long dagger worn on his belt. The men with the spears were in short chitons that ended about two inches above their knees and high sandals that ended about two inches below. The man with the dagger wore the reverse; a long chiton, short sandals and an over-tunic dyed a deep sage green. Greens were not hard dyes to come by and matched the tech level of the weaponry.
Green tunic yelled something.
He pulled out his tape recorder and pointed the microphone across the clearing. "A variation on classical Greek."
"How much variation?"
"Not sure yet but it's miles away from the Erasmian pronunciation."
"Whatever. Can you talk to them?"
"I'd like to hear a little more first."
That turned out to be no problem as Green Tunic kept up a steady monologue during his approach.
Behind him, Daniel heard Teal'c's staff weapon charge.
"Jack, they believe they've got us out-numbered and out-weaponed." Twenty-three languages and he still had to make up words. He'd been hanging out with the military too long. "Teal'c's carrying the only thing they recognize as a threat. And there's only one of him."
"One will be enough."
"Easy there, big guy. Let Daniel talk to them first. Daniel..."
"I've got it." He stepped forward, meeting Green Tunic just before he reached the platform. When a spear slanted down blocking his way, he pushed it aside with the back of his forearm. "We are travelers from a distant place." Basically it was Classical Greece by way of what sounded like a northern dialect. As long as he remembered not to enunciate too clearly for the first while, he should be fine. A little mumbling could be a useful tool in covering pronunciation differences. "We come in peace."
Green tunic's eyes widened. "You speak the God-tongue." The palm of his left hand rose to touch his breast. "Welcome to Iapetus' Garden."
Both hands resting on his P-90, secure in the knowledge that Teal'c was watching the perimeter, Jack kept his attention on the welcoming committee and replayed Daniel moving the spear out of his way. Back straight, head held high, eyes locked on the man in front of him, not even looking at the spear carrier as he effectively dismissed him -- an elegant arrogance Jack found incredibly sexy. Kind of a pity he didn't get to see it more often.
One of the spear carriers appeared suddenly at his side, probably hoping to provoke a reaction. Jack moved his head just enough to give him a broad and totally insincere smile. Hey, he'd been provoked by the best and this guy wasn't even in the top ten.
When Spear-carrier-guy started frowning in the direction of his chest, he glanced down hoping he hadn't spilled some of his last pre-mission coffee. //And me stuck here without tonic water to take out the stain.// Good, no spills. Spear-carrier-guy seemed fascinated by his dog tags, just barely visible between t-shirt and shirt.
Green-dress-guy turned when Daniel did, barked a question to Spear-carrier-guy and seemed confused by his answer.
"Jack, let him get a good look at your dog tags."
"I don't know but they seem important. Sam, you too."
As Jack tugged the chain free of his clothes and Spear-carrier-guy leaned in for a closer look, Daniel started what he assumed was an explanation. "What are you telling him?" he asked at the first pause for breath.
"Well since *dog tags* doesn't mean anything to him, I told him they were for identification."
Spear-carrier-guy said something to Green-dress-guy, who laughed and nodded, clapping Daniel on the arm. The dialogue continued for another forty minutes -- the last five or so including a fair bit of arm waving on Daniel's part -- then Daniel stepped back up onto the platform, motioning them into a huddle.
"Okay, its basically a classical Greek dialect but evolved enough so that I'm missing about one word in ten. I don't think that's a problem since context is filling in what I miss. Demetrois says I'm going to have to talk to a man named Grigorois, who he refers to a Iapetus' Voice which sounds like a priest's title to me. He's the interpreter of Iapetus' Rules -- a set of, well, *rules* Iapetus left to deal with travelers through the gate although, before the MALP came through, the gate hasn't been activated in centuries. Iapetus was a Titan by the way, not a exactly a god."
"One of the Teen Titans?"
Daniel flashed his ought to be patented 'don't be an ass, Jack' expression and continued. "They've been watching the gate since the MALP and now they'd like to take me and one of my dowlus to the ritual meeting with Grigorois."
"What's a dowlus?" Carter asked before Jack got the chance.
"I don't know." Daniel's eyebrows made an apologetic appearance above the edge of his glasses. "It's one of the words I'm not getting but I think it means companion since it seems to only refer to either you or Jack. Teal'c has been identified as my… well, man at arms comes closest."
Jack glanced up at the Jaffa. "Body guard?"
"Why only one of us?"
"I get the impression Grigorois doesn't care much for strangers. Since I speak the God-tongue, the Rules say he has to see me but…"
"Four's a crowd."
"Yeah. But those same rules ensure my safety so…"
Jack rubbed a hand back over his head, and shot Carter a look. "Tasty naquadah center, huh?"
"It's the most we've ever found in one place, sir."
The look moved to Daniel. "And no sign of Gou'ald?"
"Not since Iapetus dropped them off."
"Sir, this could go a long way to getting Washington off General Hammond's back."
"I'm aware of that Carter. All right. You and Teal'c go back, fill Hammond in, let them know they'll need a couple classical Greek speakers in the next group. Daniel, give Carter what you've got taped." He watched as Daniel handed over the mini-tape, running through all possible scenarios. "Since tipping our hands on the weapons is a bad idea, anyone got anything with them -- anything regs'll let them give up -- that Daniel can use to convince them to open trade talks?"
"I've got a roll of duct tape in my pack, sir."
"Duct tape?" When his 2IC nodded, Jack sighed. "You been watching Canadian TV again, Carter?"
"Never mind, hand it over."
"Sorry you don't get stay, Sam," Daniel said as she knelt to rummage through her pack.
"That's okay, Daniel. I left home in such a hurry this morning, there's still frozen waffles sitting in the toaster. I hate to think of what they'd evolve into if I took too long to get back."
"I was not aware frozen waffles were a life form. I am still not convinced they are a food."
Sam snickered as she straightened and tossed over the tape, realized she was snickering, and stopped, the tips of her ears slightly pink.
Jack frowned thoughtfully. Carter, Teal'c, frozen waffles. Carter, Teal'c, breakfast…? Nah. He'd have noticed if something was going on between his second and his ersatz brother. "All right, dial it up and head on home. If there's no SitRep in twelve, there'll definitely be one in twenty-four. If not send in the Marines."
"Because nothing says, 'Hi, lets make a deal' like SG-3."
"Hey, I have no objection to being rescued but can they make sure we need rescue this time before they come in with guns blazing?"
"It was an honest mistake and that snowman was the only casualty," he pointed out as Carter walked over to the DHD and began dialing. Spear-carrier-guy and his friends leapt back as the gate activated, and Green-dress-guy called out something…"
"God-water," Daniel translated.
"Close enough." Jack watched as half his team returned to Earth, waited until the gate shut down, then turned to see Green-dress-guy murmuring at Daniel.
"I swear to god, Daniel, if he's propositioning you, I'll..."
"Then why the blush?"
The younger man shot him a heated look. "He's just a little surprised I didn't chose Sam. Figured she'd be my koite-dowlas. My bed-companion."
Jack snorted and gave Green-dress-guy his best "I don't think so" expression. Frowned when Green-dress-guy laughed and asked, "What's so funny?"
"He says I let you get away with too much."
"Yeah? Well, you can tell him…" When Daniel raised a cautioning hand, along with two cautioning eyebrows, Jack bit off the rest of the sentence. "Fine. Let's go."
The walk was pleasant enough. Daniel and Green-dress-guy talked the entire three klicks but that was pretty much a given with Daniel anyway and Jack enjoyed listening to the sound of his voice even when he didn't understand a word he was saying. Which happened fairly frequently regardless of the language.
When they arrived at the buildings the UAV had spotted it was obvious these people had never faced a serious enemy. He'd be hard put to defend the sprawling complex from a determined group of Girl Scouts. Everything was pink stucco and wide louvered windows and gardens blurring the edges between inside and out.
Spear-carrier-guy and his friends peeled off when they reached the complex but Green-dress-guy only stopped to speak to an attractive young woman wearing another one of those short belted dress things. She was barefoot but wearing a complicated necklace so he couldn't quite tell if she was the maid or a daughter. Hell, maybe Green-dress-guy had married someone half his age. He wasn't bad looking in a 'hey I'm wearing a dress' kind of way.
Conversation over, the girl bowed -- maid then -- and Green-dress-guy lead them along a broad, tiled corridor to a room. He waved Daniel inside, said something that stiffened Daniel's shoulders, and disappeared.
Jack held Daniel back with a light touch and went into the room first. Big bed. Low tables. Cushions but no chairs. An interior door that lead to the biggest damn inset tub he'd ever seen. Sweet. And safe.
"Okay, Daniel. It's clear." Still holding his weapon, he dropped down onto the edge of the bed and watched the younger man walk into the room. "So, what did Green-dress-guy say that upset you? Please tell me it doesn't have to do with public sex on an altar because as much as I love you, that's where I draw the line."
And oh crap, Daniel didn't smile so it had to be bad.
Jack stood up again. "What?"
"Dowlus doesn't mean companion. I mistranslated."
"So you got a word wrong. Big whoop. You know what it means now?"
"Yes. Koite does mean bed but dowlus means…"
The corner of Daniel's mouth was twitching. A little confused, Jack walked over and took him by the shoulders. "What?"
"Slave." Jack's eyes narrowed as the son-of-a-bitch he adored started to snicker. "They think you're my bed-slave."
"Well, you've got to admit, it's funny in context."
"And what context would that be, Daniel?"
"You. Me. Uh, sex…" Daniel watched Jack pace and came to the conclusion that the other man wasn't quite as amused by the whole bed-slave concept. Since it wasn't going to go away, he forced himself to stop snickering and decided to try the rational approach. "You've spent your entire adult life taking orders from people you usually didn't like and often didn’t respect -- would it kill you to spend twenty-four hours taking orders from me?"
Okay. Should've seen *that* coming. "Look, under Iapetus' Rules, I'm safe because I speak the God-tongue. You're safe because you're mine. If you're not mine, at best you're a threat and at worst you're an enemy and either way, you're not welcome here. If I tell them I screwed up the translation and you're not my slave you're Colonel Jack O'Neill, Tauri hero and leader of our merry band, they'll tell me they're very sorry but according to the rules you have to die. But hey, that's the way you want to play it, I can walk you to the gate right now, before they get the spears back out, and do this whole first contact thing by myself."
That stopped the pacing just like he'd known it would as Jack turned to face him in full protective mode.
"Not going to happen, Daniel. I go, you go. No arguments."
"If we go, we insult Grigorois. No trade talks. No naquadah."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "You're the idealist, shouldn't you be hitting the anti-slavery rant right about now?"
"I'd love to know just when you got idealist and idiot confused, Jack." He folded his arms. "Yes, slavery is wrong. Very wrong. Never right. But how far am I going to get screaming my opinion at these people?"
"Funny, you never seem to ask that when you're screaming your opinion at me."
Daniel gave that comment the attention it deserved and ignored it. "My job is to open communications, to build a point of trust. Once that trust has been established and they're actually willing to listen to us, *then* we can start teaching personal freedom and the dignity of the individual. You should know better than anyone that knee-jerk reactions just piss people off."
Oops. Jack's quiet voice. So maybe he'd slid from rational into personal with that last bit. He took a step forward and laid his hand on Jack's arm. "I'm sorry I mistranslated dowlus. I'm sorry I got us into this. I wish I could see a way to get us out of it without forcing you to chose between your dignity and a Gou'ald-free planet full of naquadah, but I can't."
"My dignity or a Gou'ald-free planet full of naquadah?"
"Yes." Daniel could almost see him thinking about it. Five years of working with Jack had given him a whole new respect for people who worked in binary. Jack worked best in ones and zeros. Either/or. Life or death. Do or die. Yes or no. Responsible for a minimum of three lives beside his own, he just didn't do well with *maybe* or *perhaps* or *I don't know what it says yet but if you’d fucking go away and stop glaring at my back for a few hours I'll try and find out*.
"And that's the way you'll write it on the mission report?"
"Word for word. I promise you…" Hand on his heart. "…the only thing anyone will ever know is that once again Colonel O'Neill put the mission before his personal comfort."
"Wait a minute… personal comfort?"
Oops, probably shouldn't have gone there. "Uh, Demetrois mentioned that we'd need to change into the proper clothing before the ritual feast."
"Damnit Daniel, I don't care if it's two planets full of naquadah, I'm not wearing a fucking dress."
"All right, fine." Daniel took a step closer, well within Jack's personal space. "But if you don't change clothes, you can't leave this room and if you can't leave this room, you accompany me to dinner and if…"
"I get it. I wear the dress or I send you out on your own which we both know is not going to happen."
"So, look on the bright side." One step closer and he was going to bump up against Jack's weapon, and not his fun weapon either -- the paranoid bastard hadn't put down his P-90 when they took off their packs. "Since you sent Sam and Teal'c home, this whole bed-slave thing kind of negates the no-sex-on-missions rule."
"Ya think?" Jack's expression had picked up a distinctly speculative cast as brown eyes slid past Daniel to stare the bed.
"Of course there'll still be some rules you'll have to follow," he purred -- and grinned as Jack's gaze snapped back to his face so fast his eyes should've gotten whiplash.
Unfortunately, before he could continue, someone rapped on the door. They turned together, Jack taking a step forward, Daniel taking one back, putting him just behind Jack's right shoulder where, if it came to it, he'd have a clear shot with his sidearm.
//Maybe Jack's not the only paranoid bastard in the room.// He'd definitely been spending too much time hanging out with the military if he could fall into a 'best defensive position' without even thinking.
"Erchomai." The Greek for come. A little arrogant but in a slave culture with no idea of who was on the other side of the door better to be safe than sorry.
The girl they'd seen earlier in the corridor pushed her way into the room, her arms overflowing with fabric, a pair of sandals dangling off one finger. Behind her, Demetrois smiled as he looked from Jack to Daniel.
"Tell your slave you are in no danger here, Daniel. He seems ready for a fight."
Daniel laid his hand on Jack's arm, noted the tension in the muscles and squeezed a little in warning. "Protection is one of his duties and he takes that duty seriously."
"So I see. And I imagine that taking him to your bed only increased that tendency in him."
//You have no idea.//
Something of the thought must have shown on his face because Demetrois burst out laughing. "Never let them forget who is master, Daniel, or even the best slave will run you ragged." Still smiling, he added, "My brother Avertos is much your height so I have borrowed clothing of his that you may be properly dressed for this evening's festivities and brought Mina to show your slave how to operate the bath. He may not speak the God-tongue but Mina has never had trouble making her wishes known."
Mina set the clothing on the bed, tossed a heavy fall of dark hair back off her face, gave Jack a clearly disapproving once over, and then dropped her chin and smiled prettily up at Daniel. "Shall I show him now, Master? Or would you rather I preformed the duty myself?"
Full breasts pressed against the light fabric of her tunic and, for all her downcast eyes, her expression held a blatant invitation. Slavery didn't seem to rest too heavily on softly rounded shoulders but then, Daniel reminded himself, it was probably all she'd ever known. Sympathy softened his voice as he said, "You may show him, Mina. Thank you."
She flounced, there could really be no other word for it, toward the bathroom.
"Jack." He tugged a stiff and unyielding Jack around to face him and switched back to English. "Mina's here to show you how to run the bath. Try not to terrify her."
"While she shows me how to run the bath?"
"I guess it's something you're expected to do for me and Demetrois didn't want you confused by the plumbing."
"It's not like you haven't run baths for me before," Daniel pointed out in his most reasonable tone.
Jack looked at Demetrois, who was frowning slightly, looked toward the bathroom, looked back at Daniel, and sighed. "Oh fer cryin' out loud," he muttered, set his weapon down carefully by his pack and followed Mina.
"He calls you by your name?" Demetrois asked quietly when they were alone.
And oops again. Even without knowing English, Demetrois would recognize his name in the flow of words. "Only when we're alone."
And he was so looking forward to discussing the implications of *that* with his reluctant koite-dowlus.
For a people who still used spears as their primary weapons, they had some complicated plumbing.
Jack watched Mina turn knobs, pull levers and wave toward a shelf of bath supplies all at top speed. Then she turned, gave him a snotty look and said something that even he could translate into "I was told to show you so I showed you. If you're too stupid to pick it up -- not my problem."
Hell, he could fly a F15, how hard could a bathtub be? Even one that looked like it could sleep six.
With little miss flaunt her titties giving him a "you're going to screw this up and then he's all mine" look, he pulled, pushed, and eventually got a rising level of steaming water. Daniel preferred cooler water -- probably something to do with that whole desert thing. An attempt at an actual explanation had degenerated into moaning PDQ and rather a lot of water over the side of the tub. Not one of his better interrogations as far as acquiring information was concerned although he'd certainly found "ohfuckJackyesrightTHERE!" to be useful.
Personally, he liked water hot enough to cook lobster in.
But this was Daniel's bath so he adjusted the temperature.
Mina jerked her thumb toward the bottles of oil.
"Yeah, I get it." Apparently she thought he'd never run a bath before. Second bottle he picked up was perfect -- vanilla with just a hint of cinnamon.
A small hand grabbed his wrist, yanked the bottle up to her nose, took a disapproving sniff, and rolled her eyes.
//Forget it, kid. Spice under an innocent camouflage pretty much defines Daniel.// Bed-slave. He'd just *bet* that was a mistranslation!
As he poured the oil into the water, Mina sulked her way to an open cupboard and began doing the Vanna White thing with some big fluffy towels. Sweet. That whole slave thing aside, he appreciated a culture that invented terry cloth before automatic weapons.
"We done here?" he asked as she glared up at him.
Apparently not. With one finger twirled in her necklace -- which *was* a lot like a fancy set dog of tags now he got a closer look so he supposed that part of the misunderstanding hadn't been Daniel's fault -- she raked a disdainful gaze over him, ran her free hand down her body, and snapped something that sounded uncomplimentary. Just to make sure he got it, she did a remarkably good impression of an old man, pointed at him, mimed a fairly explicit sexual act, tossed her hair, and snorted.
She thought he was too fucking old?
"You challenging me, little girl?"
His tone got through even though she couldn't understand the words. Her eyes narrowed.
Jack nodded. "Bring it on."
He scowled after her swaying ass as she sauntered from the bathroom in answer to Green-dress-guy's summons, then bent down to check the water. When he looked up again, Daniel was standing in the doorway.
"We've got an hour or so until the gong rings for the ritual feast. Lots of time to get ready."
"Good." Jack jerked his head toward the gently steaming bath. "Knock yourself out."
"I think you're supposed to undress me first."
Jack could hear the tease in Daniel's voice, see it in the way the laughter was dancing just below the surface of his eyes.
Too fucking old? //I don't think so.//
He crossed the room and dropped gracefully to his knees at Daniel's feet. Crap! Those tiles were hard. He'd pay for it later but it was worth it to hear the catch in Daniel's voice.
"Jack? What are you doing?"
//Cursing out the person who told you to double tie your laces. Oh wait; that was me.// "Undressing you for the bath."
Two fingers slid under his chin and lifted his head. Jesus! The expression on Daniel's face got him hard so fast it was a damned good thing he was already on his knees. Gleaming blue eyes searched his face for a moment then full lips drew back in what Jack could only describe as a predatory smile.
Oops. Might've bitten off more than he could chew here.
Long fingers left his chin, slid over his cheek in a slow caress and settled in his hair.
With the second boot off it was, unfortunately, time to stop the game. Just because Green-dress-guy and friends were fashion challenged, didn't mean they weren't dangerous. Before he could speak, Daniel murmured, "The outer door is barred and even if it wasn't, we're here under god-rite. We're perfectly safe."
Damn. Doing that 'I know you so well I can read your mind' thing again. The question became: could he trust Daniel's assessment of the situation?
"You know you can trust me not to take stupid risks… in this kind of a situation anyway," he added before Jack could say pretty much exactly that. "And we're less likely to be interrupted here," continued the occasionally frightening Dr. Jackson, "than we would be at home."
And whose fault was that? *He* wasn't the guy who'd given Carter and Teal'c spare keys to both the house and the loft and he *certainly* wasn't the guy who encouraged them to drop by. Granted, they were interchangeably numbers two and three on the list of most important people in his life but there were some things he just didn't want to explain to Teal'c and a hell of a lot more things he didn't want to explain to Carter who'd had a significantly more sheltered life than the First Prime of Apophis. One 'Holy Hannah!' at the wrong moment and he might never get it up again.
The low purr in Daniel's voice sent all remaining brain cells south. Too old? He had a woody he could pound nails with. Something little miss flaunt her titties would never be able to manage.
"…finish undressing me."
He started to stand but Daniel's fingers tightened in his hair.
"Did I give you permission to rise?"
Not an angry question, a curious question. As though he *knew* Jack wouldn't stand without permission so clearly he must have forgotten giving it.
Jesus. No real surprise when libido beat the crap out of ego. If he rose any higher he'd be peeking out from behind his belt. Which was a little strange because he'd certainly been on his knees in front of Daniel before doing things that should have been a lot more arousing than chastely undressing him.
It was a stretch to reach the upper half of Daniel's body. The lower half of Daniel's body on the other hand… No question that the other man was as into this as he was; the inarguable evidence nearly smacked him in the face.
He was still fully dressed. His boots were still tied for fuck's sake. So why, he wondered as Daniel walked past him and lowered himself down into the water, did he feel so exposed? And why was he getting off on it?
"Get undressed, Jack. Given the size of this thing, you're going to have to get in here in order to wash me."
Yes! His knees were giving him high holy hell but he was on his feet and undressed in record time. Wet, naked Daniel. It didn't get any better than that. He grabbed the bottle of oil on the way by…
…and was pointed toward the soap and a sponge when he arrived.
Sprawled along one of the end benches, Daniel watched Jack standing in water up to his waist, his erection bobbing in the gentle currents, his gaze locked incredulously on the soap and the sponge. He was clearly just realizing that "You're going to have to get in here in order to wash me" was *not* a euphemism for "You're going to have to get in here in order to fuck me."
Which was sort of too bad because the sight of Jack voluntarily going to his knees -- for other than the usual reason -- had practically caused spontaneous ejaculation. But no matter how much he wanted to explore the possibilities, he had to keep this light. Had to keep Jack willing to play. If he could get into the idea of his slavery as a game between the two of them, it would make things a hell of a lot easier when they had to leave the room.
Might even keep the stubborn s.o.b. alive.
He ran one finger up the underside of his own cock, smiled as Jack's eyes locked on the motion, and purred, "The concept of washing too difficult for you?"
Jack looked mutinous for an instant, then, teeth clenched, he jerked around toward the soap and sponge.
Daniel didn't know what Mina had done or said to put Jack in one of his "Oh yeah? I'll show you." moods but he'd have to figure out a way to thank her that didn't include either of them being naked. He had a suspicion Demetrois would be willing to give her up and boy was *that* something he didn't want to explain back at the SGC.
Although, slavery in Classical Greek had been pretty much as good as it got as far as the owning of another human being went. Plato mentioned five in his will, Aristotle more than fourteen, and Theophrastus, seven. In fact, for the entire Classical period…
Even through a haze of frustrated lust, Jack knew the signs -- Daniel's train of thought had derailed and he was off on a mental tangent. Carter called him The King of Lateral Thinking and that was all very well when the two of them were on a caffeine and junk food, problem solving binge but right at the moment…
Fortunately, over the years, he'd learned a number of ways to force Daniel to focus. He loaded up a sponge with soft soap, waded over to the side of his reclining archeologist, grasped the bobbing penis lightly in his left hand straightening it so that the head was just out of the water, and rubbed the sponge over the exposed glans in fast, light circles.
//Oh yeah, he's focused now.// Maintaining the famed Jack O'Neill poker face, he proceeded to very thoroughly soap Daniel up paying particular attention to body parts not specifically associated with erotic activity.
"Jack, what are you doING!"
Okay, so the backs of Daniel's knees were a little more specific than most. "You told me to wash you. I'm doing what I was told." His own arousal had eased back to a pleasant burn as he concentrated on bringing Daniel's to the boil by touching everything but the one… two… okay, maybe three places that would instantly send the younger man up and over the edge. Which is not to say *he* wasn't reacting to soaping up all that sleek golden skin but it was more important that he regain control of whatever the hell was happening here.
As he rubbed the sponge along the curve of Daniel's hip, strong fingers closed around his wrist.
"Let out about eight inches of water."
"That wasn't a question, Jack. There's no need for you to say anything. Just *keep* doing what you're told."
The low growl in Daniel's voice made promises that went straight to Jack's groin. As the water drained down to mid thigh, baring him to Daniel's heated gaze, cock and balls picked up weight until they hung heavy and *obvious* between his legs.
Sitting on the edge of the bench, still covered by the water, Daniel stared at him for a long moment, his breathing visibly labored. "Turn around. Brace yourself against the side of the bath."
His body obeyed before his brain caught up.
No need for him to say anything…
Just keep doing what he was told…
He'd barely gotten a grip on the edge of the tile, when a hard, hot body plastered itself against him, when two slick fingers pushed between the crack of his ass and plunged inside, when sharp teeth closed on the curve between shoulder and neck. Jack spread his legs and arched his back, pushing the fingers deeper.
A brush against his prostate. He was breathing in short, shuddering gasps, head bowed.
Then the fingers were gone. Strong hands gripped his hips and blunt head of Daniel's cock pushed against him, paused, and buried itself in his body, balls deep. No resistance… he'd never been so… FUCK!
The world contracted to Daniel's cock pounding into his ass, scraping past his prostate with every stroke. Someone was whimpering. Had to be him because Daniel was chanting his name.
Then his name became an incoherent growl, the teeth were back in his shoulder, and he could feel the sudden explosion of liquid heat deep inside. Every pulse. Every twitch. By the time Daniel collapsed against him, his legs were trembling and his cock was so hard it hurt.
"What…?" Question panted by his left ear.
"Don't make me beg…"
"Maybe… I want you… to beg."
And that was enough throw him over the edge. No choice but to trust Daniel to catch him.
He'd started this on a dare.
He had no idea where it would end up.
"Look, Jack, I'm sorry but you can't wear your briefs under the chiton."
"Why the hell not?"
Daniel shot him the campiest look he could manage, placed one hand over his heart and said, "Panty lines."
Jack blinked, stared, snickered, and hallelujah, started to laugh.
Show Jack the humorous side of the situation and he became much more flexible about processing new information. Fuck him first and he became positively mellow about doing amazingly unJack-like things. Although judicious use of these two facts had netted him evenings with foreign films and an afternoon at the museum's "Angels, Icons, and Artifacts of the Vatican" exhibit, this was the first time he'd been able to use the later knowledge in the field. Daniel had a sudden vision of doing Jack up against a temple wall and then sending him off to ask General Hammond for permission to do a full site survey.
He grinned as the briefs went sailing onto the bed and bent to lace his sandals. When he straightened, Jack was staring at him and shaking his head. "What?"
"It's not fair. You've got the great legs and you're covered. I'm all hair and scar tissue and hey, look at me."
So Daniel looked. Jack's chiton was a deep cream, a rough silk that emphasized rather than softened the hard planes and angles of the man who wore it. Essentially, a long belted t-shirt, the neckline cut square across his chest just under his collar bone, it cinched around his waist with a broad blue leather belt, and ended just above scarred knees. The short sandals were also blue leather as were the two thick wrist bands. As he was also in cream and blue, long cream under-tunic with a blue overdrape that was almost but not quite a toga, the symbolism was obvious. Jack was his.
"Damn." Good thing he'd taken the edge off in the bath. "I'm going to have to check with Demetrois about the amount of koite-dowlus fondling allowed over dinner."
"No fondling at the dinner table, Daniel, it's unsanitary." But Jack's cheeks were flushed slightly -- pleased with the compliment. Daniel'd learned the hard way to read Jack's minimal reactions as well as those of the more exuberant Spacemonkey variety. "I don't know if you've noticed but that outfit you're wearing clings."
Actually, he had. His silk was a lot finer and flowed over his body like water, whispering secrets against his skin every time he moved. "Given that their festival clothing is distinctly sensual, I'm assuming that we won't be discussing business tonight." Two layers of silk caressed him as he moved -- its touch a distraction. "Given the depth and clarity of the blue, I'm assuming their tech level is higher than I first thought or Iapetus' Garden has a natural blue dye better than anything back home."
Jack head had come up at "tech level", his interest obviously piqued. "How do we find out?"
"I compliment them on the color. I ask how they do it." Daniel grinned at Jack's obvious disappointment. He'd probably been looking forward to a bit of skulking around. "Then I ask about silk making. I'm curious to know if Iapetus imported silk worms from the Orient or his people discovered a local equivalent."
"I though silk worms could only live on mulberry leaves?"
"Good point. Increases the odds for a local equivalent." He picked up his tape recorder, shifted it from hand to hand, and set it back into his pack. As much as he wanted to get more of the language on tape, there just wasn't anyway he could unobtrusively carry the recorder. "These things need pockets."
"Tell me about it." Jack had his knife in one hand, a belt in the other, and was busy trying to affix them both to an upper thigh.
"How very Boris and Natasha of you." Daniel watched for a moment longer then felt compelled to add, "It's not going to work."
"And I'm assuming it would be highly insulting for my slave to be armed at a ritual feast."
"Your safety is my responsibility…"
"Then you'll just have to improvise." Interesting that the protest had been about the lack of weapons not the slavery. Of course where weapons were involved Jack did have a tendency to get a little fixated.
"I'm taking the knife or…"
"Or nothing and you're not taking the knife. For pity's sake, Jack, you suffocated a Jaffa with a leather boot on PXC 1Y7. A boot. Singular. You, a boot, and a dead Jaffa with said boot stuffed half-way into his left lung. Eating utensils and food ought to give you an almost infinite number of possibilities. Maybe if you get very lucky, you can beat someone to death with a cheese log."
Before Jack could respond, a deep, resonant sound filled all the open spaces in the room.
"That's the gong. We have to go. Remember, stay behind my left shoulder unless I specifically send you somewhere else. They won't know what I'm saying to you so I'll be able to cue you as needed." He crossed to the door and waited, pointedly.
It took a Jack a moment, then he sighed, tossed the knife into his pack, stomped across the room, and opened the door. Daniel swept past him and out into the broad corridor, in no way acknowledging the service. Best to begin as they'd need to go on. He felt more than heard Jack fall into step behind him but about six strides from their room, he certainly heard the deep sigh.
"I'm dangling' here, Daniel."
"You get used to it." His robes on Abydos had been one hell of a lot rougher on the anatomy. The corridor they were following was almost more a medieval cloister than anything he'd recognize as Classical Greek but that was hardly surprising -- these people were 2,200 years from Pericles and cultures evolved.
"What do you suppose these clasp things on the belt and wrist guards are for?"
Daniel paused and turned just enough to give Jack the full effect of both eyebrows.
Daniel sighed. He loved the man dearly but damn, he could be unobservant at times. "Cross your wrists behind your back."
Sighing in turn, Jack did as he was told.
Bracing one hand against a shoulder, Daniel reached back and yanked both wrists hard against the belt and the small of Jack's back. Then he waited just long enough for the other man to realize he was well and truly bound before sliding his hand along the clasps and releasing them. "Easy in, easy out. But you can't work the release yourself."
"How did you…" Jack's eyes looked a little wild.
"It's my job to notice the cultural details," Daniel pointed out, deciding he quite liked that aroused/surprised expression on Jack's face. Wished he had time to explore the hint of something deeper he'd sensed during the other man's brief struggle against the bindings and the answering reaction that had provoked in him. "Jack, while we're in there…" He nodded toward the complex's central courtyard where it seemed most of the household had already assembled, deciding now was the best time to inform Jack of this particular mission protocol -- while he was still a little off balance. "…in fact, while we're with any of the locals, you'll have to call me master."
Great. He was going out to dinner in bondage gear and a dress. This was clearly going to result in another one of those selective mission reports. It wasn't that he'd never written one before Daniel -- Special Ops required a certain ability to select exactly which facts were to be preserved -- but he'd written one hell of a lot more of them after Daniel.
//You'll have to call me master? Nice try Danny-boy but if they don't understand English I could call you pork-chop and they'd never know the difference.// Actually, Jack had a few stronger and more descriptive phrases in mind after that stunt Daniel'd pulled with wrist bands.
And his reaction to said stunt? To so suddenly being at Daniel's mercy? To suddenly being made aware the clothing he wore was designed to reinforce Daniel's possession?
He was blaming the dangling. And the friction.
//You'll have to call me master.// Not asking. Telling. One hundred percent certain he'd be obeyed. Jack remembered the look on Daniel's face when he'd first gone to his knees…
//Get your mind out from under your dress, O'Neill, and start doing your job.//
They were entering a central courtyard about ten meters square, accessible from the building but with no direct outside entrance. An attack would have to come through the building… or over the roof. The center of the courtyard was an open square about four meters by four, the rest roofed in a heavy trellis nearly hidden under grape vines. The trellis looked like it could hold a man's weight and the posts along the inner edges were easily climbable.
Having noted an emergency exit, Jack turned his attention to the possible reasons they might need one. Besides him and Daniel, there were twenty-two people in the courtyard. Eleven in the formal wear, eleven in the mini's. Although there were six people visibly older than he was, all six were dressed like Daniel. He was, by a significant percentage, the oldest dowlus. Four of the pairs were male/female. Three female/male. Two female/female. Three male/male. It was like a freakin' focus group on human sexuality.
None of the twenty-two looked dangerous. None of them were visibly armed. Although a couple of the mini-skirted crowd were heavily muscled, they were more gym queen than body guard. Decorative but not especially useful. He was confident he could take out anyone in the courtyard, singly or collectively -- an important ego boost for a guy in a dress
Green-dress-guy, who'd become White-under-thing-dark-green-over-thing-guy -- fuck it; Jack decided he'd better just call him Demetrois -- walked over to Daniel with both hands held out. Jack caught the enthusiastic "Daniel" made a mental note to object to the level of enthusiasm later, and stopped listening. Little miss flaunt her titties had been replaced behind Demetrois' left shoulder by a slightly older woman with a lot less bust and significantly greater serenity…
…who was covertly watching Daniel. He caught her eye -- hey, he invented covertly watching Daniel -- and flashed her his best "mine; hands off" smile. So far, pretty much the entire galaxy was batting one hundred at wanting to get into Daniel's pants. Which Jack found significantly less disturbing when Daniel was actually wearing pants.
He followed quietly as Daniel was introduced to the rest of the guests. One of the older men was wearing small, round, wire frame glasses which explained why Daniel's had caused no comment. He remembered reading that Galileo had worn glasses which on a direct to Earth equivalent time line would put their tech level at around 1600 and that meant telescopes and gunpowder at least. Except that they'd only recognized Teal'c's staff weapon as dangerous and then only because it looked like a spear.
Glasses, plumbing, towels… comfort tech but no weapons tech. If they'd managed to come up with big screen TV and a decent satellite package, he could really start to like this place. Well, except for the slavery thing of course. He moved his hands pointedly away from his belt.
A young man offered him a fluted, glass goblet of wine, startling him slightly.
"You're to taste it," Daniel explained quietly. "It's a ritual gesture of good faith, so that I know they're not trying to poison me."
Jack stared down into the pale liquid. "What about slow acting poisons? Two part poisons? Tasteless poisons… "
"What part of ritual gesture of good faith did you not understand?
About to lift the goblet to his mouth, he paused. "What happens if they're just trying to poison me?"
"Then I'll be very annoyed," Daniel said testily. "Just drink it before people start thinking my slave's getting uppity."
Definitely alcoholic. The mouthful of liquid fizzed across his tongue. No numbness. No bitterness. No off taste. As he handed Daniel the goblet, he murmured, "Tastes like Baby Duck. You're going to hate it."
He didn't have to add, 'go easy on it'. After the debacle on P87 99J, SG-1 knew better than to over-indulge in the local joy juice. Although who knew Teal'c could sing…
God, he hated cocktail parties. On the upside, the whole slave thing meant no one was talking to him. On the downside, inane conversations were clearly inane in any language.
He wasn't paying much attention so he missed the point when he became the topic of discussion. He realized it about the time soft fingers closed around his left arm and squeezed appreciatively. Like they were checking out the merchandize.
If the pasty-faced, newt-like goomba pawing at him was surprised by his lip curling, he was going to be positively astonished when his fist connected.
Then strong fingers closed around his wrist and a quiet voice said, "No, Jack." Said it in at the same tone of voice as *Let out about eight inches of water.* and *Brace yourself against the side of the bath.*
He could break Daniel's grip in a heartbeat. Could. Didn't. But he didn't relax until Daniel murmured something that sounded distinctly possessive and Newt-guy backed away. He stayed a lot closer to Daniel after that; not even for naquadah was he getting fondled by newts.
The sky through the trellis had begun to grow dark when an elderly woman entered the courtyard followed by a buff young man of that indeterminate more-muscles-than-brains age.
The crowd fell silent as she walked to the center of the courtyard and struck a pose by the edge of the circular fire pit. She raised her arms, said something authoritative, and lowered her arms as multi-colored flames leapt up waist high. It was nicely done, Jack acknowledged silently as Demetrois lead Daniel across the courtyard toward her. He hadn't seen her drop anything into the pit and since no one else had been close enough, he was betting on a pilot light and some kind of natural gas feed from below.
He hadn't bought the whole mental fire lighting thing the first time around no matter how earnestly Daniel had tried to sell the concept.
The old woman seemed pleased to meet their visitor from beyond the God-water although her gaze kept drifting past Daniel's shoulder to focus on…
//Me.// The interest in her gaze was palpable and Jack began to feel a bit like a blue plate special. Something of that realization must've shown on his face because the old lady's sudden smile could have gotten her arrested in at least six states.
"Noula is Grigorois' mother, Daniel. He seldom leaves the temple so she's his primary contact with the outside world. If you want things to go well with Grigorois it is vitally important that Noula like you." Demetrois ran a hand through his hair and sighed dramatically. "About two years ago, she took an objection to something my wife said and for the next six months it was like living in Tartarus. Cost me enough wine to float a bireme before she forgave us."
Daniel grinned at Demetrois' long suffering tone. For all his warnings and complaints, he was clearly fond of Noula and Daniel could see why. She had the look of a woman who was happy with who and what she was. She might be a bit demanding but she didn't look mean. She looked… she was looking at Jack! Again.
Demetrois' followed Daniel's line of sight. "I'll see to it that she knows you have only the one slave with you and that he doesn't speak the God-tongue. That might be enough to keep her from making you an offer for him but I wouldn't count on it." He paused and glanced back at Jack. "You're not interested in selling?"
"You mean, sell Jack?" When Demetrois' acknowledged that was exactly what he meant, Daniel grinned. "There are times I've been tempted, but no."
"I didn't think so. And anyone with eyes can see that without your hand on the bindings, he'd be more trouble than he was worth. Some of them are like that; one master and one master only."
Jack would have given his right nut to know what Demetrois' had just said to Daniel. The heated, speculative look Daniel had shot him brought back the whole friction problem in a big way.
As Demetrois hurried off to break up an argument, Daniel stepped back and gave what was, for Daniel, a fairly straight forward report -- his briefing room tone totally at odds with his "I'm going to fuck you until you scream" expression. The combination was making it hard for Jack to concentrate but the gist of it seemed to be: Demetrois ran the holding that supported the temple. Most of the people at the party were part of his extended family. Grigorois and the Rules were in the temple. Grigorois was a bit of a mama's boy and if Grigorois' mother, Noula, liked them, the naquadah was theirs.
"This holding is essentially self-sufficient but all the surrounding city-states send a yearly tithe to the Keeper of the Rules. Since there hasn't been anyone through the gate in centuries, tonight is an adaptation of the ritual feast they throw when each of the tithes arrive. Life's pretty easy here and I get the impression they like to party."
The subject matter was pretty much same old, same old but the heat between them was still heading for the point where brain cells would start to fry. Jack knew that cultural information often got Daniel excited but it usually didn't spill over and excite *him*. More likely to spill over and bludgeon him into a stupor. There was clearly some subtext happening here he wasn't quite getting.
"The silk is a local equivalent," Daniel continued. "So is the blue dye. The blue leather you're wearing, isn't dyed. There's a very large local bird called a harhass with blue skin that darkens when it's tanned."
Yeah. Yeah. Yadda. Wait a minute. Party… Leather… Jack glanced around the courtyard and noticed that only the slaves who were attending with their… their... people dressed like Daniel, were in the wristband/belt combo. The slaves currently setting up large cushions, small tables and food, were conspicuously not wearing either.
He spotted Mina in the crowd and noticed her shooting 'if looks could kill they'd be wiping you up with a sponge' sort of expression toward everyone in the wristband and belt crowd. So it wasn't just Daniel she wanted, bed slave was a step up from general serving…
Somehow oops just didn't seem weighty enough for this realization.
Party. Leather. Bondage. Bed slave. "Da…"
Emphatically raised eyebrows cut him off and he was suddenly aware that Daniel had been quietly watching him while he put two and two together.
"Do you trust me, Jack?"
With his life. But with his virtue… Aw, fuck. He'd pretty much given that over to Daniel the first time they met, even if it had taken them both another four years to notice. And Daniel was clearly still waiting for an answer.
"Yes." Steel bands tightened around his chest. "I trust you." And the bands inexplicably loosened. He felt strangely light. "But I'm too damned old to do the orgy thing."
"Don't worry." The heat in Daniel's eyes cranked up a notch. Heat enough to bring out a fine prickling of sweat all over his skin. "I won't allow anything you can't handle."
And that light feeling became a light-headed feeling that continued while Daniel was shown to a place of honor, while he was shown to his place of service, while he fed Daniel bits off the platters of food left on the small table by Daniel's pile of blue and cream cushions, while he listened to the endless drone of men and women speaking a language he didn't understand, while he listened to Daniel reply. Actually, he had a moment of clarity when he saw that everyone's cushions matched their clothes. //Jeez, how gay is that?// And he was asking as a guy who'd shopped at Ikea *before* he hooked up with Daniel.
Then the talking stopped and the party started. It was time for the slaves to be fed by their m… by the people dressed like Daniel.
Although Daniel'd had only three glasses of wine, the intake overall had been impressive and there was definitely a fair bit of koite-dowlus fondling beginning. Jack was ready to suggest they call it a night except that a constant parade of party goers kept landing on Daniel's cushions and Daniel apparently found every one of them fascinating.
He was beginning to feel just a little ignored. And after the whole 'do you trust me' thing he'd expected… his mind shied away from what he'd expected and settled on the safer subject of dinner. Oh sure, he was being fed but the motion was almost absent-minded. Pick a bit of fruit or vegetable off the platter, poke it in the general direction of Jack's mouth, keep talking to Achilles or Odysseus or whatever the hell these people were called. Next time it happened the elderly man in glasses was just leaving, his slave hoisting him up onto his feet and helping him waddle away. Jack closed his lips around the piece of melon and then leaned forward enough to close them around Daniel's fingers as well.
The way Daniel turned his head, oh so very slowly toward him, was the hottest thing he'd ever seen and he gave those fingers everything he had. //Ignore me, will you Danny-boy. I don't think so.// He locked his eyes on Daniel's, ignoring the NC-17 action going on across the courtyard. When Daniel finally pulled his fingers free, he grinned in triumph. The folds of silk were unable to entirely hide the younger man's reaction.
Yep, they'd be leaving the party now…
Daniel's name the only thing Jack understood in the cheerful monologue, the elderly woman dropped down onto the blue and cream cushions and settled in like she was planning to stay for a while.
Daniel shifted on the cushions and managed to return Noula's greeting in a voice that didn't sound like he'd just been given a virtual blow-job. The silk sliding over his erection was exquisite torture. //You don't want to be ignored, Jack. Not a problem.// He laughed, admitted that the tiny, sugared berries had been the best he'd ever eaten, and began to absently draw damp circles on the inside of Jack's knee.
He didn't have to look at the other man, he could feel his reaction in the suddenly tensed muscles, knew Jack was wondering how far Daniel would take this as he stared across the courtyard at… Daniel wasn't entirely certain what was going on across the courtyard but it seemed to involve three… oops, no five legs and at least one pair was double jointed. Legs usually came in even numbers but he had no idea where the sixth had gotten to. They'd clearly traded Classical Greece for Imperial Rome sometime just after dessert. Cheeks flushed, he looked away.
As Noula told him how pleased she was that the first visitor through the God-water in centuries would seeing *her* son, he slipped his fingers into his mouth, got them good and wet, and began drawing circles a little higher on Jack's thigh.
The son of a bitch wasn't even looking at him. He was carrying on a conversation and petting him like some kind of…
The move was instinctual. His hand was around Daniel's wrist before he thought about moving it.
Daniel murmured what was obviously an apology and turned again to face him. His eyes were smoldering. "Would you prefer to be bound?"
Would he prefer to be bound?
"You're kidding me?"
Oh fuck. He knew that expression; had never seen it under these particular circumstances but Daniel wasn't kidding. Even a little. Jack had a sudden vision of what it would be like spread out on those cushions with his arms bound behind his back. Well, that settled it. Four and a half hours was definitely sufficient recovery time.
He removed his hand from around Daniel's wrist and kept them both out where Daniel could see them.
After a moment, the fingers started tracing new circles on his thigh.
"My, he's a feisty one, isn't he?" Noula's eyes sparkled as she glanced up at Jack. "I liked him from the moment I saw first saw him. It's so nice to see a real man in wrist bands instead of all these pretty boys."
"You seem to have arrived with a…" Daniel paused, wondering if his vocabulary was up to the description.
"Oh, Corus." Noula dismissed him with an airy wave of one plump hand. "He's lovely but he's lived such a sheltered life. Cosseted and indulged. Sometimes I long for someone with a few rough edges."
Daniel watched in amazement as her hand settled across from his on Jack's other leg.
"I could make you a very good offer for your Jack."
Impossible not to grin as Jack started at the sound of his name. "She wants to buy you," he murmured in English.
"Yeah? Well, tell her to stop fondling the merchandise!"
"He says he's not worthy," Daniel translated as Jack's breathing began to quicken.
"Please, dear boy, I'll be the judge of that."
"She's under the edge of the dress!"
"We need to make her happy, Jack. Think of the naquadah." He held Jack's gaze with his and just as arousal began to shade into panic, switched back to Greek and said in a tone that allowed no argument. "I'm afraid he's not for sale, Noula."
She took it well, pulling her hand out from under the chiton and folding both of them back in her lap with a little pout. "No, I don't suppose he is. And if he was, I'd have to take you as well, wouldn't I?"
"I'm not for sale either."
"Of course you aren't, dear. Best take him back to your room before he…"
The pause was more than deliberate, it was arch.
Daniel couldn't help laughing. He kissed the hand she offered, stood, and beckoned to Jack. "Come on. We've been dismissed."
Standing was not easy in his condition and in his… outfit but somehow Jack managed it. Walking back to the room wasn't especially fun either, not with Daniel walking a breath behind him, his hand burning against the small of his back right above where his arms would have been bound…
He couldn’t get that image out of his head.
As the door closed behind them, he pulled away, determined to regain some kind of control. Whirling around, he jabbed a finger toward Daniel's chest and snarled, "You let me get felt up by a dirty old lady!"
"I could have offered you to everyone in the room." Daniel's smile licked at his skin and went straight to his cock. "But I promised there'd be nothing you couldn't handle."
And then again, control was for uniforms. Not for naked under dresses. Not for so hard he hurt. Not for the dark, unexpected places Daniel's smile found its way into. A half a heartbeat later he was on his knees, all thought of control gone as he sucked Daniel into his mouth through wet silk.
Not enough. Never enough.
Strong fingers threaded through his hair and forced his head away. An almost familiar voice growled, "Don't move."
He shifted his weight a little as Daniel walked around him, silk robe caressing his cheek. He fought to control his breathing as silk pooled over his lower legs and his sandals were removed. He swallowed hard as his only article of clothing was pulled roughly out from behind the belt and dragged over his head.
His cock jerked as a silken voice purred into his ear. "Put your arms behind your back."
Far, far too late to say no.
As the bindings snapped into place, he closed his eyes. He'd never been so aware of his body. Every inch of skin. Every nerve ending. Every breath. It was almost as if, in some weird way, being bound was freeing him to feel.
"Open your eyes and stand up."
It was awkward with his hands behind his back, but he managed.
Daniel walked around him. Slowly.
Jack was hyper-aware of Daniel's gaze moving over his cock, his ass, his nipples. Hell, he was hyper-aware of Daniel's gaze on the back of his elbows. When long fingers closed around his balls, testing their weight, he dragged his tongue over dry lips and moaned a name.
"Shhh." A strong mouth against his, swallowing the moans he couldn't stop making. "I didn't give you permission to speak."
He could feel need rolling off him like smoke and he bucked up into Daniel's hand, muscles straining against the bindings.
A smile against his lips, a rough-edged laugh, a steadying hand against his hip as he began to over balance, and Daniel pulled far enough away for him to see the heat blazing from eyes so dilated the blue was a narrow ring around the black.
"You are so beautiful like this, Jack, but I think we'd better not over do it this first time."
The first cool stroke of lube along heated skin very nearly sent him over the edge but a soft "Don't come.", barely audible over the blood pounding in his skull, was enough to regain him a fingernail grip on his control.
~"…would it kill you to spend twenty-four hours taking orders from me?"~
Jesus. It just might.
And then Daniel reached behind him and slid his hand along the clasps. Stepped back, and slid the silk off his body. Laid back on the bed and smiled. Gave one last order, "Come here."
Daniel woke to the familiar and irritating sound of a bird greeting the morning with enthusiasm. It was the essentially same noise that had pulled him from sleep too many mornings in the field and, as far as he was concerned, it ranked right up there with the sound a squad of angry Jaffa made coming through the gate. Although in this instance, the Jaffa would probably be more melodic.
It took him a moment, but he finally figured out how to open his eyes.
//Oh give me a break; it's barely dawn.// In fact, it wasn't quite six thirty since Colonel I’m Awake and Too Fucking Cheerful Every Morning at 0630 O'Neill was still snoring. Propping himself up on one elbow, Daniel scrubbed a hand over his face and peered down at Jack.
The only good thing about those damned birds was that since they *didn't* wake Jack, they gave him a chance to watch Jack sleep. Gave him a chance to re-familiarize himself with the language of his beloved's face. Gave him a chance to think words like "beloved" and "beautiful" and "I need you like I need air" and all the other words that guys just didn't do so well with when the other guy was staring back at them.
Funny thing, Jack was actually a lot better at those words then he was. He could say them in more languages but Jack actually said them. To him. Under that hard-ass exterior, Jack was a romantic. And under that… under that was a man who desperately needed a safe place to lose control. Colonel O'Neill made life and death decisions every day. Sometimes for whole civilizations. Sometimes as specific as "You live. You die". Behind the masks he'd constructed to distance himself from his responsibilities, his mind was always working; figuring the best way out of a worst case scenario *before* that scenario bit his people in the ass. Those who took Jack at face value got one hell of a shock when the mask dropped.
Daniel was more honored than he could say to be the safe place Jack could lose control in and he was going to STRANGLE THAT FUCKING BIRD! With the discordant melody corkscrewing through his skull, he gave up on starting the day with a reflective moment and, wincing slightly -- lose control *in* had been the operative preposition -- got out of bed. He needed another three hours sleep but he'd settle for a piss and a coffee.
First to the bell-pull by the door. As Demetrois explained it, a single tug would bring…
"You rang, Master?"
Something about that struck him as funny but he wasn't up to figuring out what -- although apparently the boy found it funny too because he was smiling broadly. Coffee first. Then the bathroom. Cross cultural humor a distant third. "A carafe of boiling water, please."
He was halfway to the bathroom before he realized just what exactly the young slave had been smiling at. There was an impressive love bite just to the left of his navel. He traced it with his thumb, hoped it would fade enough to be lied about before Janet saw it, and achieved a full body blush as the other shoe dropped.
//Naked, Daniel. You're naked. You held a brief conversation with a strange teenager while completely starkers.// Jack was right. He shouldn't be allowed any kind of human contact before his first cup of coffee. Some mornings, his second.
He was crouched by his pack digging for the pack of freeze dried instant he *knew* was in there when he heard the door open. //Oops! Still naked, Daniel!// Scooping a piece of last night's discarded clothing up off the floor, he spun around.
And oops again. Mina.
Until that exact moment, Daniel realized he'd never truly understood what it meant to describe someone as looking like the cat that ate the canary. When Mina's eyes flicked down and she smiled, he gave serious thought to prayer -- even considering what he knew about the Gou'ald and human theology.
Taking a step toward him, she held out a covered carafe on a small wooden tray. "Your hot water, Master."
Yes. Hot water. Coffee. Coffee would make this right. He reached for the tray, realized an instant too late that this significantly rearranged the piece of clothing he was holding in front of his crotch, and almost dropped the tray.
Drop the tray. No water. No coffee. He dropped the cloth instead.
"Let me get that for you, Master." Dropped gracefully to her knees.
Daniel stumbled backwards and came up hard against his pack. "Please, there's uh, no need…"
"I don't mind, Mas…"
A large hand closed around her bicep and lifted her back onto her feet. A familiar voice drawled, "I don't think so.", as Jack turned her toward to the door and gave her a not especially gentle shove toward it. "Out."
Mina made a gesture impossible to misinterpret. Jack made one back.
Since they seemed to be communicating fine without him, Daniel set the tray carefully on the floor, found the package of freeze dried, and dumped it into the carafe. //Shaken, not stirred…// Sitting cross-legged, he pulled the mug out of his mess kit, and poured. As coffee went, it was crap but it was caffienated crap, and that was, as they said, good enough for government work.
"You're a man of contradictions, Daniel."
He swallowed, savored, and looked up. "What?"
"Last night you were all 'ask how high on the way up'…"
"Hey, you figured out how high just fine without any instructions from me."
Lip curled, Jack ignored him. "…and this morning I have to rescue you from little miss flaunt her titties."
Daniel coughed and would have choked except he had no intention of wasting a drop of even truly bad coffee. "Who?"
"Her." Jack jerked his head toward the door. "Next time try saying *no*. And, maybe, just maybe, if it's not too much trouble, you could try putting some pants on. You keep waving your dick at her, she's bound to get the wrong idea."
"Fierce talk…" Another swallow. He could feel neurons beginning to fire. "…especially considering the Something About Mary thing you've got going with your hair."
"Conflict drives change and these people have had almost nothing in the way of conflict since they arrived. The soil is fertile, there's plenty of water, and the weather has been remarkably stable -- and we remove man against nature from the equation. The planet's large, apparently most of it is as pleasant as the area around the gate and, even after two thousand years, the population is still fairly small -- and we remove man against man from the equation. So what we have left, is…"
"Man against snakehead," Jack interrupted as the path they were following ended in a four meter high hedge and a heavy wooden gate. After a quiet breakfast, Demetrois and most of his household had escorted them to the beginning of the path and sent them on their way without the rousing chorus of "Yellow Brick Road" that Jack had requested. "Though given the lack of Gou'ald, I'm guessing Echinacea…
"…didn't tell his pals about that tasty naquadah center."
About to ring the bell suspended over the gate, Daniel paused and glanced back at Jack. "Sam's going to regret that comment for the rest of her life, isn't she?"
"You have to ask?"
"Not really, no."
The sound of the bell flushed half a dozen small birds out of the hedge and caused Noula's beefcake from the night before to suddenly appear on the other side of the gate. Jack's fingers tightened around his P-90 -- they'd left their packs but he'd insisted all weapons go with. He was *not* leaving them lying around in an unsecured bedroom. Aside from all the sound military reasons, Mina'd probably be pointing one of them at him when they got back.
"Looks like they're expecting us," he growled. Daniel shot him a look that could only be interpreted as "Well, duh." So he had a small habit of stating the obvious; it was self-defense, totally in reaction to Carter and Daniel continually stating the blatantly obscure.
Beefcake-guy was out of his party clothes; still in a dress but no wristband and belt combo. He didn’t look especially happy to see them. As Daniel walked past him into the temple grounds and out of his line of sight, he shot Jack a look that clearly asked, *What the hell do they all see in you?*
//Jesus, you learn that look from Mina? It's a good thing I'm not the sensitive type.//
Leaving Beefcake-guy to close the gate, he fell in behind Daniel's left shoulder, close enough to hear the other man gasp as the temple came into sight. Big ugly, wooden tower -- five, maybe six stories high. The windows had been set in such a peculiar pattern it was impossible to get an accurate count. It was obviously old and looked as though a strong wind might blow it over. Given the heavy guy ropes angling out from the upper corners, he wasn't the only one to think so. >From Daniel's reaction, Jack guessed it wasn't Classical Greek. In fact, given the faint sputtering noises coming from his indignant archeologist, it probably wasn't even classical Greektown.
Before Daniel managed to vocalize, a door in one of the buildings tucked in behind the tower opened and a short, fat, pale man hurried out. He wore his dark hair in a familiar floppy academic style, had large round glasses, a smudge of ink on his cheek, and one sandal tied together with a piece of string.
Jack covered his mouth and coughed. "Geek!"
Three hours later, he was leaning against a low wall in the garden, watching Daniel and Grigorois sitting at a small table drinking the local equivalent of lemonade, and listening to them talk. Well, listening to the noises they were making. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been so bored. Drone of voices, drone of bees -- give him a lawn chair and a beer and he'd happily have a nap but no, he was dowlus and had to remain alert to Daniels every whim. At least the koite part didn't seem to be coming into it today.
Elbows on the wall, he fiddled a bit of loose masonry out from between two bricks, actually bored enough for self reflection. Should he be worried about how into that whole slave thing he'd gotten last night? How into it they'd *both* gotten.
//You wanted to see more of Daniel's arrogant side, Jack. Be careful what you wish for.//
He watched a small, gerbil-like animal poked a black nose and trembling whiskers out from a hole at the base of the wall, and found himself smiling down at it in a distinctly mellow way.
After the most intense release he could ever remember experiencing, he'd fallen into the deepest sleep he'd had in ages. Oh sure, he always slept better when Daniel was with him but not like that, not like all the hundreds of bits and pieces that continually poked at him had been pounded flat. He'd woken up this morning worried that it -- whatever the hell it had been -- might have changed things between him and Daniel and had been happy to find out that it hadn't. Back in uniforms, in the bright light of day, they were still… them.
And if he put on the wristbands and belt again? Good question. He dug at the masonry a little harder and had his train of thought suddenly derailed when the brick popped out of the wall and crashed down right where the gerbil had been.
Reaching out with the side of his boot, he carefully flipped the brick over. No squashed gerbil. But the bottom of the brick was damp.
"Daniel. How's it going with Sandal-string-guy?"
"Great." Daniel glanced down at the stain on the brick and clearly thought better of asking. "Grigorois is as much an archivist as a priest, there's very little about the history of this place he doesn't know. Iapetus brought his ancestors here to mine the god-ore, took half a dozen loads away, and never came back. Eventually, they stopped mining and started creating a civilization but the temple was built as a replica of those early mine shafts. Hence the architectural…"
"Yeah. Given the amount of naquadah, this planet is extremely low in other ores. They've made some impressive technological advances with ceramics but he's fascinated by our metal. I'm fairly certain we'll be able to come to a trade agreement but he's cautious and wants to make sure that trading with us is covered by the Rules. He wants know everything about our world."
Daniel's eyebrows made an appearance over the edge of his glasses. "I thought I'd leave out Barney, Euro-Disney, and American beer."
"Hey! Americans do not diss American beer!"
"It's piss in a can, Jack, but the point is, Grigorois wants us to stay one more night."
He could feel the leather around his wrists. "Another feast?"
"No." Something in Daniel's voice was as much reassurance as denial, like he knew what Jack was thinking. "Just him and me, talking."
Disappointed or relieved? Jack wasn't sure how he felt.
Two hours later he found himself staring into the tiny monitor on the MALP listening to Teal'c explain about the late Iapetus. Very minor system lord. Got his hands on some naquadah, got too big for his britches, and was taken out with extreme prejudice. Extreme enough that there were no pieces big enough for the other snakeheads to interrogate about exactly *where* the naquadah had come from.
"Well, now we know."
"That does seem likely, O'Neill."
Jack squinted at the monitor. "Uh, Teal'c, is your tongue purple?"
"It is O'Neill."
He thought he heard a quiet "oops" from Carter in the background.
"Major Carter has introduced me to a new food item," Teal'c continued. "I believe they are called pixie sticks."
Oh great, a Jaffa on a sugar high and he'd missed it.
Wait a minute; how had Carter convinced Teal'c to consume processed sugar? And purple processed sugar at that? Carter, Teal'c, and *pixie sticks*? //Jesus, Jack, don't even think of going there…//
General Hammond was all in favor of them staying an extra day but then the general had always been as lenient as his position allowed as far as Daniel was concerned -- although incipient access to a planet full of naquadah sure as hell didn't hurt.
By the time he got back to the temple, the sun was low in the sky and Daniel was waiting for him at the gate. "Miss me?"
He liked the way Daniel fell so naturally into step beside him, matching his stride, fingers sketching words in the air as he spoke. "Just thought I should give you a heads up. Noula has had our packs moved into the temple residence. She wants us to stay here tonight. Well, technically, she wants you to stay here tonight but I explained we're a package deal."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Twenty three languages and the words military protocol aren't in any of them. What if the general had given us a no on the extension?"
Daniel snorted as he guided them around the tower to the complex of buildings actually in use. "We have an opportunity to build a trade alliance that will quite possibly supply all the naquadah we'll ever need; I'm guessing the Joint Chiefs shot their collective wad at the thought."
"And thank you so much for *that* image."
"Any time." He paused on a small patio and turned to grin at Jack. "I'm just hoping they don't find out about Noula's little fixation or they'd sell her your saggy ass in a minute."
On cue, strong fingers closed around a good chunk of his left buttock. "She's standing behind me, isn't she?"
"Yes, she is."
"I've got bruises! I'm not kidding, Daniel, that old woman has a grip on her like Teal'c!"
"Teal'c's been grabbing your ass?" Sitting on the edge of the bed, Daniel looked up from scribbling his impressions of the afternoon in the notebook he always carried. "Is there something you want to tell me, Jack?"
"No, I'm serious -- if there's something going on between you and Teal'c, I really think I ought to know. If nothing else, I'd like a chance at parity."
Jack stopped trying to get a look at his own ass and froze, one hand holding up his pants, the other flung out for balance. "Parity?"
"It means equality…"
"I know what *it* means, Daniel! What the hell do you mean?"
"Well, if you're screwing around with Teal'c…"
"I am *not* screwing around with Teal'c!"
"…then I think I should get a shot at Sam," Daniel finished calmly. He wrapped the elastic band around the edge of his notebook, shoved his pencil under the loop, set the whole thing aside, finally met Jack's gaze, and promptly lost it. "Oh fuck… Jack, your face… I wish you could see…" He was laughing so hard he could barely get the words out. "And the whole injured dignity thing… it'd would work so much better… if your ass wasn't hanging… out of your pants. Oh god…"
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Why do I put up with you?"
Collapsed on the bed, Daniel waved a trembling hand in Jack's general direction and gasped. "Because I can suck a potato through a tail pipe?"
"Jesus, Daniel, you're not going near Carter with that mouth!"
It took two tries but Daniel somehow managed to stand and stagger over to his affronted love. "Because you can't live without me?"
"Because I can't live without you?"
"Because without me…" Stepping behind Jack, he hooked his fingers through the other man's waistband and dropped to his knees, taking the pants down with him. "…who'd you have to look at your bruises?" Wrapping his hands around lean thighs, he closed his teeth on a curve of flesh and sucked hard.
"God DAMN IT!"
"You're right, Jack, you do have a bruise back here."
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Marking what's mine. Checking for property damage." He ducked his head and ran just the tip of his tongue between the furred cleft. "Reminding you that I own your ass."
Head cocked he studied the other cheek, picked his spot, and bit down again. When he pulled back the bruises were perfectly symmetrical.
"It was supposed to. You're going to feel them all night. You sit down, your ass is going to remind you that you're mine. Noula grabs you, same thing. But in case that's not enough…" He licked deep this time, teased his tongue around the edge of the hole, waited for the moan, then spread Jack's cheeks and thrust inside.
As soon as he felt Jack's thighs start to tremble, he took one last lick, balls to base of spine, thought very, very hard about Polynesian declensions, and stood. He wasn't exactly comfortable but he could manage. "Rather than have you bored all through dinner," he purred against Jack's ear, "I want you thinking about *that*. I want you so hot that Noula's going to offer me *anything* just to get her hands on you. Now tuck in and zip up or we're going to be late. Mustn't upset our hosts, not with all that naquadah hanging in the balance."
Jack twisted around and stared at him in disbelief. "You… you… you're a…"
"I believe the word you're looking for is *Master*," Daniel told him grinning evilly.
To give credit where credit was due, Jack had to admit he wasn't bored during dinner. Horny. Yes. Heated. Yes. More than a little nervous about the way Noula was watching him from under half lowered lids and licking her lips. Definitely. But bored? No.
He had a case of balls so blue they'd crossed the line to indigo and since there wasn't anything around to actually threat assess, he spent his time happily working out ways to accomplish his new mission objective: making Dr. Jackson scream.
Which did enough for his state of mind that when Noula finished eating and mentioned his name twice in an animated dialogue with Daniel, he didn't panic and run from the room.
Daniel smiled and shook his head -- which apparently didn't mean no, it meant yes; who knew? -- and turned on his chair to face Jack. "She'd like you to escort her to her suite."
"What's wrong with Beefcake-guy?" He'd just left the room and hadn't looked happy about it.
"She's sent Corus off with a message for Demetrois. She's promised to behave."
Jack stared at his usually perceptive archeologist in disbelief. "And you *believe* her?"
"Oh come on, Jack, she's old and unsure of her footing and she doesn't like to walk alone after dark. Grigorois and I may be talking for hours and you could use a chance to stretch your legs."
"It's not my legs that concern me," he muttered, setting the tray of Daniel's leftovers -- his dinner -- aside. "I'm stopping by the room first and getting my weapon."
"No, you're not."
"Fine." He got to his feet. "But she knows…"
"That you're mine and I don't share." Daniel's smile picked up an edge that he flashed across the table at Noula. "She knows."
Noula laid one plump hand against her breast and murmured something probably intended to be reassuring as Jack walked around the table to her side. He wasn't buying it for a moment but Daniel, the susceptible little shit, was lapping it up. He held out his hand to help her from her chair and the look she gave him made him suddenly realize he was naked under his clothes.
//And this is news?//
He'd just never been made so aware of it before.
She patted his cheek with soft fingers and made a smiling observation.
"She says you're beautiful when you blush," Daniel translated and then, as Noula laid her hand on Jack's arm and began leading the way from the room, he quietly added something else.
"Ah…" meaning "That's the suckiest thing I've ever heard." was pretty much the same sound in either language. As Noula made it and looked up at him with a sappy expression, Jack half turned to find Daniel watching him -- blue eyes gleaming, lips slightly parted, right fist over his heart.
"I told her you were the most precious thing I owned and she should take care of you."
Jack felt his own expression get distinctly sappy. Oh yeah. Daniel *so* owned him.
Noula behaved herself until they got to the door of her suite and she could take her hand off his supporting arm. It found another part of his anatomy fairly quickly, landed right on one of Daniel's bruises, and he yelped.
She laughed and, after a moment, he found himself laughing with her. She just seemed so cheerful about that whole casual abuse thing it seemed churlish not to.
"Jack." She held up the first finger of her right hand. "Daniel." Now the first finger of her left. Oh, he got it. One was him, one was Daniel. She linked them together and made a show of not being able to pull them apart.
He began to nod, remembered, and shook his head.
"Ah." meaning both "Yes." and "Good." also the same sound in either language.
And now she could only be saying, "Take care of him."
So he said, "Always."
Smiling, she got in one last grope and went into her rooms.
Jack turned and came face to face with Beefcake-guy -- who didn't look happy. Lips curled back off perfect teeth -- apparently bed slaves had a dental plan -- he growled pretty much the same thing Mina kept growling, and charged.
After taking him down as gently as possible -- one bounce, no screaming -- Jack returned to the dining room.
Daniel and Sandal-string-guy would have talked all night, covering the table with books and notes and sketches had the other dowlus -- a skinny kid with a prominent Adam's apple -- not bent down and murmured something inaudible in Sandal-string-guy's ear.
Immediate excuses were made and he found himself following Daniel back to their room PDQ. "So, Adams-apple-guy make him an offer he couldn't refuse? Your buddy a little dowlus whipped is he?"
"Not exactly, Vasilis just reminded him that his mother wanted him in bed by midnight."
"Eww. Dowlus whipped would be better."
"Oh sure…" Daniel stepped over the threshold, and turned, one eyebrow raised, as Jack closed the door. "…*you'd* think so."
Just for an instant, Jack saw the Daniel who'd had him naked and bound and his cock throbbed inside the suddenly confining front of his pants. Then Daniel smiled and he saw the man who teased him during briefings, who watched Saturday morning cartoons sprawled half dressed on his couch, who fell asleep holding two of his fingers, who'd learned the difference between offside and icing…
His heart was pounding so hard his whole body was vibrating. "Daniel…"
The blue eyes gentled. "What's wrong?"
He nodded toward the wristbands and belt lying by his pack. The clothing they'd borrowed for the feast had been left behind but these, these had come with.
"It's not complicated, Jack." Long fingers cupped his face, cool against heated skin. "It's just *us*. Me. You. Archeologist. Colonel. Scholar. Soldier. Master. Slave. Lovers. Friends. We've only just begun to discover all the things we can be together."
Daniel's mouth touched his lightly at first, then it grew demanding. Devouring. Jack threaded his fingers through the short hair, spent the moment he always spent wishing he'd been able to thread his fingers through the long, and gave back as good as he got. Tongues, teeth… oxygen deprivation.
When they finally broke apart he said, "Us."
Daniel nodded, his mouth swollen and wet. "Yeah."
"We've only just begun…"
"Don't be such a big baby, I'll kiss it bet… JACK!"
Daniel was not a small man -- he had, in fact, been bulking up over the last couple of years -- but Jack managed to get him up onto his shoulder and over to the bed. Unfortunately, as he shifted his hold, Daniel got an arm wrapped back around his waist and they went down together.
"I should never have taught you to fight," he growled as strong legs wrapped around his body and flipped him sideways.
"I should never have let you win so often!"
He twisted his shoulders, throwing off Daniel's grip and continued the motion around and into a pin. Daniel got an elbow against his sternum, a hand wrapped around his wrist, and almost pinned *him*. Almost being the definitive word. "I never taught you that last move," he panted into a sweaty curve of neck.
Daniel struggled against the hold, couldn't break it, and relaxed, his body suddenly pliant and welcoming. "Sam did. You were teaching me how to fight. She was teaching me how to beat you."
"In your dreams, Spacemonkey."
"Every night, Flyboy."
He rose up on one arm, gently pulled Daniel's glasses off his face, and carefully set them aside. Stroking that lush lower lip with his finger, he murmured, "Too many clothes on here. First one naked gets to call it!"
He won, of course; he always won that particular game. But it didn't matter because there was laughing and the familiar touch of strong hands and long legs and sleek skin and more laughing and he hadn't forgotten he was planning to make Daniel scream but for now it was just as good to see him smile and collapse in mutual completion and then smack him hard enough to make him yelp after he dragged a finger through the puddle on his stomach muttering, "What's gray and comes in quarts?"
Because that was them too.
Later, when he pulled his fingers from Daniel's loosened grip, rolled over, and caught sight of the wristbands illuminated in a spill of moonlight from the window, he thought of all the possible Daniels and all the possible Jacks.
"Us," he acknowledged quietly. And went to sleep.
The biggest problem Daniel had with mornings was that they kept coming. He'd no sooner dealt with one than another shoved itself into his life.
"Come on, Daniel, up and at 'em."
"Been there, done that, taking the t-shirt home to Carter. I made you coffee."
He pulled the pillow off his face and cracked one eye. "You poured my freeze dried into hot tap water again?"
"That stuff tastes like liquid shit. In fact, it tastes worse than shit because shit isn't supposed to taste like coffee."
"Fine. I'll dump it down the crapper."
"No!" Throwing the covers aside, he sat up and held out both hands. "Gimme!" And the good news was, the tap water was really, really hot. The bad news was freeze dried coffee in tap water tasted like liquid shit regardless. He swallowed and looked up to find Jack watching him. "What?"
"You can quit any time?"
"Trust me, I'm giving it some serious thought." Another swallow. Either his taste buds had gone numb or… actually, he didn't want to consider the alternative. Since he now seemed capable of gross motor function, he took another drink, got up and headed for the bathroom. Paused in the doorway and turned. "My CO got fucked in Iapetus' Garden and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?"
Damp hair spiked as Jack yanked his own shirt down over his head. "What?"
"You said you were getting Carter the t-shirt."
"I was thinking more along the lines of 'My CO had to listen to three days of cultural crap in a language he didn't understand and ended up kicking his archeologist's ass back to the gate'."
The bath helped and he felt almost human as he pulled on his clothes. By the time Corus appeared at their door, he was actually able to greet the man with a smile.
"My Master's son would like to see you in the sanctuary. I am to escort you."
"What's he want?" Jack demanded before Daniel could say anything.
Daniel translated and Jack frowned. "Escort us? We know the way."
"He's taking us to the sanctuary, Jack." Daniel picked up his jacket, decided the morning was too warm to need it and dropped it on the end of the bed while he rummaged in his pack. "Everything inside the hedge is considered the temple but the sanctuary refers specifically to the old wooden tower."
"No? No, what?"
"That thing's two thousand years old, Daniel. And it's made of wood. Call me crazy but it says death trap to me and so, no."
"No, we're not going inside."
Daniel straightened, one hand holding Sam's roll of duct tape, the other pushing his glasses back up his nose. "Okay, first, it's a free standing religious artifact, not a death trap. Second, I spent most of yesterday convincing Grigorois to let me inside. And third, it would be consider an…"
"…insult to decline the invitation. We piss off our hosts, we don't get access to the naquadah."
Arms folded, duct tape dangling off one finger, Daniel waited for the corollary.
"Fine. We go in. But we go carefully and you don't touch anything."
Jack snorted, then he grinned. "Oh stop sucking up, Daniel. You knew that was how it would go down. But I appreciate your maintaining the illusion that I'm in command here."
Corus looked confused and Daniel had to admit he had grounds. Even without being able to understand the language, he and Jack had obviously not been speaking as master and slave. //Hey, that's for private moments, Beefcake-boy.// Wondering if he should be worried about how much his mental voice had started sounding like Jack, he gestured toward the corridor and said in Greek, "Go ahead, Corus. We'll follow."
"He doesn't like me, you know."
They stepped into the corridor together since there was no one around to see Jack walking by his side.
"Who? Corus?" When Jack nodded, Daniel shrugged. "He's afraid you're going to replace him in Noula's affections."
"Affections? Daniel, she *owns* him."
He turned just enough to give Jack one eyebrow over the edge of his glasses.
Jack flushed. "You and me; not the same thing."
"You're saying you're *not* mine?"
"I'm saying…" He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "So, what's the duct tape for? You expecting this thing to fall down?"
Gracious in victory, Daniel let the change of subject stand. "I mentioned it to Grigorois and he wanted to see it so I thought I'd bring it along."
"And just in case this thing falls down…"
"…we'll have it."
It took Corus a moment to get the door open and he ended up having to put his shoulder to the wood, lifting and shoving simultaneously.
"Gym queen," Jack sneered.
"What? He can't understand me."
"That's no reason to be…Oh my." Daniel's eyes widened as he stepped over the threshold.
Jack grinned at the expression of archeological lust on Daniel's face and leaned forward to purr, "Is it everything you dreamed of?" into his ear.
"It's incredible. For a wooden structure this old to still be in one piece and usable… Jack, look, you can still see the adze marks on the beam."
"They put advertising on the beams?"
"Not ads, *adze*! It's a tool for cutting away the surface of wood, like an axe with a curved blade and here, look no nails, pegs. Square pegs. This building is…"
"A tinderbox. They've been oiling the surfaces but underneath…" Jack drew his thumbnail along the nearest board. "…the wood is bone dry and crumbling."
Daniel stared, appalled at the line of paler wood showing along the scratch. "Don't touch anything!"
Raising both hands, Jack backed away from the wall. //Isn't that my line?// Not that Daniel -- or Carter for that matter -- ever paid any attention to him. "I don't see your geek buddy." Or anything else for that matter. Except for the stairs running up and around a central post -- and calling them stairs was stretching the definition of stairs -- the square chamber was empty of everything but dust.
As Daniel babbled something to Beefcake-guy, he amused himself by flapping his hand around in a beam of sunlight that poured in through one of the small square windows.
"Grigorois says we're to wait for him on the observation platform."
Jack looked up. Way up. The stairs rose three, maybe four uninterrupted flights to a platform and a… he squinted… a trap door. "How cliché would it be for me to mention that I've got a bad feeling about this," he muttered as he began to climb behind Beefcake-guy and Daniel. An ancient hunk of wood creaked alarmingly under foot. "A *really* bad feeling."
The stairs continued to protest but they reached the platform without incident. Beefcake-guy stood aside and indicated they should go through the trapdoor.
As Daniel stepped forward, Jack grabbed his arm. "No. I take point."
"Not negotiable, Daniel." He hated to dim the light of discovery in the other man's eyes but, frankly, tough. Some things were more important. Things like keeping his kids alive.
The observation platform -- attic -- was essentially empty. The broad boards that made up the floor had shrunk to leave a disturbing amount of space between them but looked safe enough. //If any part of this thing can be called safe.// Sunlight spilled in through three windows in each wall. Seeing something glint in one of the corners, he made his way carefully over to pick it up. A small, empty bottle with a glass stopper. Might have held perfume once. Forgotten, not threatening. He half expected to find a crumpled cigarette package and a couple of used condoms.
"It's clear. Come on up."
"Jack, this is incredible!"
So far, the only incredible thing Jack had seen was the expression on Daniel's face. Hands in his pockets, he watched indulgently as Daniel moved from window to window.
"You can see the whole settlement from up here! You can see the gate! This building was probably designed initially as a watch tower but the original purpose was lost. Or adapted. And look, here…"
Jack walked over and looked. "Some guy carved his initials in the frame. It's just graffiti, Daniel."
"He carved his initials twenty-two hundred years ago!"
"So it's old graffiti."
A hollow boom, followed by the unmistakable sound of a bolt sliding home, spun them both around.
"Corus?" Daniel's brows drew in as Corus replied. From the sound of his voice, it was obvious the dowlus was going back down the stairs. "I think he said you can't have her and that we'd help him prove himself."
"I'm not helping him prove anything but how high he can fucking bounce," Jack growled. Standing opposite the hinges, he stomped down hard.
The loud crack was almost hidden in the hollow boom.
"I see it." One of the floor boards had split. "So, no more stomping."
"Not unless you've learned to fly since the last time we did the Rapunzel thing." Crossing to the window that looked out over the temple complex, Daniel peered down at the red tile roof. "This is probably just some kind of misunderstanding and I'd rather not have to wake everyone up. "
Halfway to Daniel side, Jack froze, head cocked. He sniffed, bent down, and sniffed again. He straightened to see Daniel staring at him, an obvious question in his gaze. So he answered it. "Smoke."
"Right." Daniel turned back to the window. "Let's make some noise."
People began to pour out of the buildings as smoke began to pour out of the tower. Unfortunately, the smoke seemed to be moving a little faster.
"The lower level's on fire!" Daniel coughed, drawing his head back inside. "They can't get to us!"
Wiping streaming eyes, Jack leaned out the window, ignoring the screams from below he couldn't understand. "The guy ropes! We'll slide down the guy ropes!" They were a dangerous distance from the windows but there was enough slack he thought he could pull them closer. "Daniel, take off your belt."
"We'll slide down our belts!"
He turned to see Daniel staring at him in confusion, belt dangling from his outstretched hand. "We pull the ropes in closer with the belts."
"Then what do we slide down?"
"Hand over hand."
"Too slow!" As he buckled their belts together, Jack could almost see Daniel thinking. "The duct tape."
His turn. "What?"
"It'll be strong enough if we use enough layers."
"Points for ingenuity, Daniel, but slide and sticky don't mix."
"Got that covered." He reached into his pocket and as Jack watched, growing more and more amused, pulled out the stub of a pencil, two crumpled tissues, half a power bar, his anti-histamines, a rock, a leaf, a broken elastic, a snail shell, and an insect casing.
"And you're what, seven?"
He dug a little deeper and held up a tube of lube, grinning triumphantly. "Seventeen at least."
By the time Jack got the guy ropes caught and yanked close -- gouging two thousand year old wood had become of minor importance -- smoke had filled the upper level. Coughing and choking, Daniel handed him a thick strip of duct tape about three feet long.
"The ends are still sticky, so wrap them around your hands. I've spread the lube very thickly over the middle section."
"Way to go, MacGyver." Daniel's eyes were red and running, his nose was dribbling snot all the way down to his chin, and the smoke had laid a grimy patina over every inch of exposed skin. Jack reached out and rubbed his thumb along the other man's jaw. "Daniel, if this doesn't work…"
"Well, I'd suggest an alternative but we're out of lube." Eyes and smile said something else entirely. "I don't want to rush you, Jack, but the floor's starting to burn."
"Vested self interest. You're younger and I'd rather you were on the bottom *at* the bottom."
"You don't think my idea'll work," Daniel muttered as he crammed his shoulders through the window.
"You'll also bounce higher if it doesn’t and I'll still have the belts."
"I love you too, get your hand off my ass."
"Then haul it!"
The moment Daniel was on the rope and sliding, Jack wrapped one end of the duct tape around his left hand and pushed through the window. Balanced precariously on the edge of a burning building, Daniel's weight beginning to pull the belts out from their anchor, he realized they had no time to wonder if the rope could hold them both. As the belts ripped free and the rope began to move back out of reach, he flipped the other end of the tape up and over, grabbed, and jumped.
The tape ripped just before his feet touched the ground and he landed on his ass in the exact spot Daniel had rolled out of an instant before. He allowed momentum to roll him hard against the other man's body and gasped, "You okay?"
"I'm good." He winced as the rope burned through and hit the ground beside them with a nasty sounding slap. "Good idea with the lube."
"Thanks. Although it occurred to me on the way down that we could have just turned the tape over. It's not sticky on the other side."
Jack rolled up on one elbow and smiled down at Daniel who was smiling back. The big, heart-stopping smile that only he ever got to see. The one language Daniel spoke only for him. "So you're saying you *wasted* perfectly good lube?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
"...and you convinced an entire planet of people that Colonel O'Neill is...was your slave?"
"Not an entire planet," Daniel protested, a little concerned about the vein pulsing in General Hammond's temple. "Just a couple of dozen people around the gate. According to Iapetus' Rules, if you don't speak the God-tongue, you're a slave or an enemy and their entire culture is based around these rules so unless we wanted to start dismantling their culture right off the bat, we didn't have much choice." And they'd pretty much left the koite part out of the mission report.
"I can see that, Dr. Jackson. I think you... both of you," he amended glancing across the briefing table at Jack, "made the best of an awkward situation. Trade talks have been opened, we have access to a great deal of raw naquadah, and the Pentagon is thrilled."
"That's what it's all about, sir, thrilling the Pentagon."
General Hammond glanced once again at Jack then turned his attention pointedly toward Daniel. "This Noula who seemed so interested in Colonel O'Neill; how much was she offering?"
"But weren't they devastated about their sanctuary burning down?" Sam asked as SG-1 walked out of the mountain and across the parking lot.
"Not exactly devastated," Daniel told her. "Apparently everyone hated the building. They knew it was fire trap and they were continually having to chase thrill-seeking teenagers out of if but it was so historically significant they couldn't tear it down."
"In short," Jack added, "they were thrilled about the whole pile of ash thing."
"The two of you are most fortunate," Teal'c observed.
"Hey!" Walking backwards, Jack glared at the Jaffa. "*We* didn't burn it down."
"I'm still amazed you didn't turn in Corus." As they reached her parking spot, Sam dug into her pockets for her keys. "I mean, he did try to kill you."
"He wanted to rescue us, Sam. To prove himself. He just didn’t realize the tower would burn so quickly." Daniel looked for his Volvo, realized he'd carpooled in four days ago with Jack, and headed around Sam's car toward the truck.
"I'm surprised you went along with that, Sir."
Daniel began to protest that it had been Jack's idea, took one look at Jack's face, and stopped. Apparently that whole hard-ass-colonel thing needed regular maintenance.
"Well, you know Daniel; he can be very persuasive. We'll see you tomorrow, Carter."
"Yes, Sir." She slid in behind the wheel. "Good night."
When Teal'c opened the passenger side door of Sam's car, Daniel mouthed *what's up with them?* across the hood of the truck, and received a shrug in return. "Uh, Teal'c?"
"Major Carter has agreed to assist me in purchasing a gift for Doctor Fraiser's natal day."
The two men watched Teal'c fold himself into a too small bucket seat, watched the major and the Jaffa drive away, exchanged speaking glances, and simultaneously climbed into Jack's truck. The doors slammed on a single note.
"It's like he knew what I was going to ask," Daniel murmured, settling his backpack between his feet.
"Tell you later."
They drove in silence for a while, then Jack began drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. "Interesting trip."
Daniel cocked his head and studied Jack's profile, wondering at the flush of color on the other man's cheek. "Uh huh."
"You know what I never did?"
"I never called you master."
Ah. Bending forward Daniel pulled Noula's parting gift out of his pack, laying the wristbands and belt on the seat between them. "We'll have to work on that…
"…uh, Jack, you just drove through a stop sign."
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