Friendship's Grace

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - January 4-14, 2004
Spoilers:  Grace; and teensy ones for several others including The Other Side, Scorched Earth, Legacy, Red Sky, Memento, Avenger 2.0, Evolution Parts 1 & 2
Size:  88kb
Written:  January 9,11-12,14,16,26, 2004  Revised Slightly: January 27, 2004 Revised for consistency:  February 27, 2007 Tweaked: April 11, 2008
Summary:  As Jack pulls away from Daniel, Sam comes to a painful realization, one that jeopardizes the trio's friendship.  Will this be the end of SG-1?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic, “Messages of a Friendship”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Drdjlover, StarShadow, Claudia!

Friendship's Grace
by Orrymain

“Jack, if you're angry about something, why don't you just tell me instead of beating that rug to death?”

“I am *not* beating the rug.  I'm cleaning it!” Jack corrected fervently.

“Okay,” Daniel said, watching Jack continue to viciously swat away at the small rectangular bathroom rug he had taken outside twenty minutes before.

Jack had been upset about something from almost the moment he had returned from his assignment with SG-3.  He'd been gone less than twenty-four hours, but the mission had begun yesterday afternoon and ended mid-morning today.  None of the other members of SG-1 had been needed on the mission, so they had stayed behind to attend to other duties.

The older man was snippy from the moment he had returned through the Stargate, but the more hours that passed, the more upset and antagonistic he had become.

Daniel sighed.  He had tried to coax his husband into explaining whatever was wrong, but the older man had finished out the rest of the day at the SGC and the beginning of their evening being as silent as a clam.

“Jack?”

“Daniel, I'm busy.  Can't you see that?”

“Daniel,” the younger man repeated softly, as he turned and walked into the house.

“Grrrrr,” Bijou and Katie each growled.

“What?  *What*?  I didn't say anything, just that I was busy.”  Jack groaned as the beagles continued to frown in his direction.  “Oh, for crying out loud, it's his name!” he rationalized, then took a mighty swat at the rug, nearly knocking it off the line from which it hung.

The two beagles growled again and then went to the patio door and barked.  Within a minute, Daniel let them in, noticing Jack was still exerting his venom on the small rug.

====

“Jack, this may be a stupid question,” Daniel began the next morning.  “But are we driving in together or taking our own cars?”

“It's a truck, Daniel, *not* a car.”

“Right.  See you at the SGC,” Daniel responded as he turned and exited the house.

As he drove to Cheyenne Mountain, Daniel declared, **You have twenty-four more hours to wallow in whatever you are wallowing in, Jack, and then I'm going to force it out of you.  You hear that ... *colonel*?**

Of course, the archaeologist didn't know whether or not Jack could hear his question, but he was frustrated and found himself continuing to talk to his absent lover.  He simply couldn't understand why Jack was being so nasty, nor why he was shutting the younger man out.

The next thing Daniel knew, a siren and blinking lights were flashing behind him. Swearing in Abydonian, he looked at his speedometer and cursed some more, realizing that he had going twenty miles over the speed limit in his Silver Fox.  It also meant he was going to be late for the 9 a.m. briefing with General Hammond.

~Great.  Just ... peachy,~ Daniel thought, pulling over to the side of the road as he mimicked his husband.

====

Jack, who had left the house several minutes after his lover, was so focused on what was bugging him that he never saw the 1999 Shelby-American pulled over at the side of the road, so when he walked into Daniel's office after arriving at the SGC, he was surprised to see his husband wasn't there.  What's more, he could tell Daniel hadn't arrived at the Mountain yet.

The colonel waited, his impatience fueling his snippiness.

Roughly ten minutes later, Daniel walked in, slamming the door behind him.

“WHERE THE BLAZES HAVE YOU BEEN?” Jack yelled, surprising the younger man, though one could never tell from his non-reaction to Jack's presence.

Daniel rolled his eyes, answering, “Jack, I'm not in the mood.  I was detained, okay?”

“You left before I did!”

“I got a ticket, okay?”

“A ticket?  For what?”

Daniel threw his jacket onto the cot and answered, “What do you think I got a ticket for?”

“Oh, I don't know ... being annoying?  Aggravating?  Asking a thousand-and-one questions?”

“Okay, Jack, whatever your problem is, you're on notice.  You're going to tell me tonight when we get home, no matter what, so be ... cantankerous all day if you want, but tonight, it's truth time!  Got that?”

Jack scowled, “You didn't answer my question!”

“Speeding,” Daniel said, trying to ignore Jack as he checked his desk for a file he needed to take with him to the briefing.

“How much?”

Daniel sighed, “Twenty miles over.”

“DANIEL, YOU HAD BETTER BE FRIGGIN' EXAGGERATING!”

“Jack, get out of my office ... *now*!”

“Daniel ...”

Daniel walked by Jack to the door, pulled it open and while holding it, spoke, “Don't let it hit your butt on the way out.  *Now*, Jack!”

Observing his lover's intense stare, Jack knew Daniel meant business.  Angrier than he had been since returning from his last mission, Jack pushed some papers off of Daniel's desk, and walked out, brushing by Daniel, just touching his shoulder enough to jar him slightly.  Daniel slammed the door as he desperately wanted to strangle the man he loved!

As Jack headed for his office, he internally swore at his lover.  After banging his fist against the elevator door, he leaned back against the wall, sighing.

~Don't you know I need you, Danny?  Geez, I'd die if something happened to you!  Speeding.  Friggin' speeding!  I am *so* going to kill you tonight myself!~

====

The briefing had been postponed when General Hammond had an urgent phone call, so Jack and Daniel each went about their duties.  Separately, the two had heard some alarming news, but it wasn't until later in the day that they met up again in the elevator, each headed for different locations, and were able to discuss the news.

“You hear about Sam?”

“Yeah,” Jack admitted reluctantly.

“It doesn't sound good.”

Jack was still angry and, in a frustrated tone, responded, “Eighteen hours past due for contact?  Yeah, I'd say something went wrong.”

~Not quite the grizzly, but close.~  Daniel stood uncomfortably near his spouse, wondering when Jack would finally confide in him.  After a pause, he decided to forge ahead with the latest developments, “Well, anyways, I put together a list of planets with Stargates in range of the Prometheus' route.  General Hammond has agreed to send SG teams to all of them, including us.”

“Why?”

Daniel stared at Jack, disbelieving the question, and answered, “Well, if something went wrong there's a chance they could make to a planet with a Gate.”

“At which time they would gate home, wouldn't they?”

“Well, when the hyperdrive failed on the Prometheus' maiden voyage, we were nearly stranded on P3X-744 because they didn't know where the Stargate was.”

“Sounds like a long shot,” Jack responded, not really buying into Daniel's rationale.

“Well, unfortunately the Tok'ra are unable to send a ship at this time.  They promised to retrace the route of the Prometheus as soon as they can, but, you know, visiting these planets is ...”

“What?” Jack asked, out of patience.  “Is what?”

“Is something!” Daniel answered soundly, staring at Jack in total shock at the behavior he was witnessing.

“Yeah,” the colonel said calmly, exiting the elevator without saying another word.

Daniel watched astonished.  Something was wrong, and he was going to have to figure it out soon.  His husband was jumping all over the younger man for nothing, and it was going to have to stop soon, but first, they had to try and find Sam and bring her home.

The young man was very worried about his friend.  He loved Sam; she was family.  His trust for her was great, much more so than for most other people.  Over the years, she'd helped him in so many ways, not the least of which was “the game” of being the decoy as Jack and Daniel had hidden in plain sight.

While Jack had been on his rescue mission, Sam had jumped at the chance to go on a scientific exploration to check out a nebula-like gas formation.  She had boarded the Prometheus, Earth's top-secret spacecraft, needing only a couple of hours to complete her testing.

Unfortunately, something had happened, and the Prometheus had not responded to any hails or made any contact in over eighteen hours.

====

The various SG teams continued to search for the crew of the spaceship over the next few days.  Jack hadn't gone home, and Daniel had gone only to make sure the beagles were okay.  Their neighbor, Mrs. Valissi, had agreed to check in on the loveable dogs so that they had some quality play time with a human being, and to let them know Jack and Daniel hadn't abandoned them.

For the most part, Jack had avoided Daniel, and when he couldn't, he continued to be argumentative and snippy.  Worried about Sam, Daniel let it pass, but with each confrontation, resolved to settle the matter as soon as Sam returned.

After they had searched the seventh planet, Jack went to the locker room to change.

Teal'c followed his commanding officer, trying to be supportive of the man he considered a brother.  The Jaffa reminded his friend how Sam had worried about him the year before when Jack had been “lost” for a time.

Jack heard his friend out and politely thanked him, but more or less ignored the Jaffa, saying, “Look, Teal'c, I know what you're trying to do, and I appreciate it.”

~No more.~  Daniel had heard the entire conversation from the doorway and had reached his limit with his partner.  When the Jaffa exited, he entered, ordering, “Okay, Jack, your office ... now.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me!  Now, Jack,” Daniel repeated, then turned and headed for the colonel's office.

====

After Jack changed his clothes, he went to his office, where Daniel was waiting.

Daniel's arms were folded as he stared at Jack.  In fact, that's all he did -- stared and stared -- and then, finally, he made sure Jack had locked the doors. Daniel had already turned off the cameras.

“Okay, Jack. I've had enough.  We're all worried about Sam, and it really bugs me that we have to be here arguing when we should be investing all of our energy into getting her home, but WHAT IN NETU IS FREAKIN' WRONG WITH YOU?”

“I don't know what you mean,” Jack spoke nonchalantly as he walked to his desk and sat down in his chair as he answered.

Daniel walked to the desk, leaning forward, his hands pressing hard against the edges as he spoke, “Jack, Teal'c thinks there's something going on between you and Sam.  You know that, right?”

“He does not.”

“You just let him think it.”

“I did not.  I just ... I wasn't even paying attention.”

“I know that, Jack, which is why we're here.  Now tell me what has you so steamed lately.”

“Danny,” Jack lamented as he put his elbows on his desk, his hands in his face, rubbing slightly.

Daniel smiled, remarking, “Well, at least I'm Danny again.”

“What?” Jack looked up in surprise.  “Geez, Danny, have I been that bad?”

The younger man flashed another smile, moving over behind his lover, massaging his shoulders as he confirmed, “Yes, you have.  Come on, Jack, why are you so upset?”

“Lately, it's just recently ...”

“Jack, it's not us, is it?” Daniel asked, a bit of fear in his voice.

“Gawd, no, Angel.”  Jack turned, for the first time realizing just how much he had tuned Daniel out.  He reached up and took Daniel's hands and then he stood to face him.  With complete love and devotion, Jack kissed his spouse.  “Well?”

“Hmm, not about us,” Daniel sighed happily, the kiss answering any and all concerns in that department.

“Not exactly.”

“What?” Daniel's concern returned.

“Not us us, but SG-1 us.”

“Jack, talk English!” the confused linguist demanded.

“Danny, we're ... geez, it seems like more and more we're all ... separating.  I go on some rescue mission, you're off on an archaeology dig, Teal'c is training recruits, and Carter is playing with her doohickeys.  Even when we're on missions, we seem split more than we're together anymore.  It feels wrong, Danny, but I don't know how to fix it either.”

“Jack, it's ... it can't stay how it was forever.”

“Why not?”

“For one thing, you'll be retiring in a couple of years, and I'll be quitting, so we won't even be here.  And, well, as for how things are right now, you can't expect Sam and Teal'c to sit around doing nothing while we're off doing whatever, especially when both of them are eager to move forward with their own careers or interests.”

“I miss it, Danny ... how we were.”

“So do I, but you're the one who's been saying recently that Sam might be ready for another promotion, and Teal'c, we've known for a long time that while he wants to continue the fight with the Goa'uld, that he wants his life to be about more than a war.  He loves helping you with the training.  We just ... Jack, we all have more demands on us now.  The SGC is still growing, and we've all taken on additional duties.  We just can't be exploring planets anymore, no matter how much we wish we could.”

“That sounds funny coming from you.”

“I didn't say I liked it.  I only said that I'm aware that's how it is now.”

“We're SG-1 ... ONE ... O - N - E, the big ones as in numero uno, the leaders ... so WHY can't we do what we started out to do?”

“Because we are SG-1.  Jack, you're the general's second, and while I know you try to make that out like it's not a big deal, you work VERY hard to keep this place in shape, and I have my department and we're still short on the civilians on that side, so you know the demands on me.  And Sam is the head of her group and everyone wants her to solve everything.  And you know Teal'c is loving what he does now.”

Jack sighed, “Have I ever told you how annoying it is when you're right all the time?”

“Every other day,” Daniel smiled.

“She could be hurt.”

Jack turned and walked to a shelf.  He picked up the model plane Daniel had given him on their first anniversary as a couple, and suddenly Daniel understood what else was behind this.

“That's it, isn't it ... that Sam could be hurt.”

“You almost died, Danny ... in that hellhole of a jungle.  They tortured you.  Two more seconds and ...,” Jack paused, not wanting to continue the thought, so he changed his words a bit, “We almost missed our wedding.”

Daniel closed the gap and cupped Jack's face, “Jack, I'm safe.  I'm here.”

“But you shouldn't have been there without a team, Daniel ... without SG-1 ... without me.”

“Jack, you know how that went down, and ...”

“SG-1 should be together.”

“I agree.  Tell Hammond.”

Jack shrugged, “I can't, and you know it.  Geez, Danny, everything's changing.  We ... you and me ... we feel right ... righter than right, perfect,” Jack swooned, but then turned back to a darker tone, “but all this separation, all of us going on different missions, it doesn't feel good.  I guess you're right, but what bothers me is that I think it'll only get worse.  I don't like it.”

“Neither do I.”

Jack scooped Daniel up into his arms, “Geez, why did I push you away?  You're the only one who makes me feel alive.”

“Because you're scared, Jack, and that's okay.  To be honest, I'm a little scared, too.”

Daniel sighed, his hands gently rubbing along Jack's upper arms, and then he smiled, a decision suddenly made, “Maybe it's time, Jack.  One more year, and then we go.  We make sure Sam and Teal'c are set first, and hopefully, we'll have found the Lost City by then, too.”

“And if we haven't?”

“Doesn't matter.  It's time to move on with our lives.”

Jack smiled.  He had wanted to retire for the longest time, but Daniel had always felt they should continue.

“You sure, Danny?  I mean, you've always said ...”

“Jack, I love you, and I feel what you feel, so yes, I'm serious.  No matter what, one more year and then it's ... just us.”

“Danny, this isn't just us ... talking again, is it?”

“No.  Let's ... let's really start planning.  You're right.  It's not the same anymore.  We need to keep doing our jobs, but it's time for us to start thinking about ourselves a little, and to make sure that our friends are in the best position they can be at.”

“We get Carter ready for a permanent command, and Teal'c for the Alpha Site.”

Daniel nodded, “And we start to prepare ourselves.  We always tend to put things off.  We can't do that anymore if we're serious.”

“Okay, then I need to meet with Hammond and try to make sure these separate assignments make more sense, if that's possible.”

“I wouldn't count on that.”

“I love you, Danny.  I'm sorry I've been so ... whatever I've been.”

“It's okay.  I understand now, and I love you, too.”

The klaxons sounded, interrupting Jack's and Daniel's kiss of reunification.

“Bad timing.”

Daniel sighed, “Definitely, but we'd better see if SG-2 had any luck.”

“Let's go.”

====

“That was a close one,” Daniel said to Jack who was playing with a small artifact in the young man's office.

“Yeah, too close.  She got lucky.  Do you believe that story of hers?”

“You mean the hallucinations?”

“Whatever.”

“Sure.  The mind is much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.  Sam called on versions of us to help get her through ... to survive.”

“She didn't think about me!”

“Feeling left out?” Daniel walked to his spouse and kissed him, happy Jack had automatically closed and locked the door upon entering.

“I am her CO.  You would have thought I'd fit in there somewhere!”

“And you achieved your knowledge about nebulas ... when?”

“When I watched Star Trek II,” Jack retorted, “Kirk and Khan battled in and around a nebula.”

“Well, this wasn't a nebula exactly, and it wasn't science fiction, it was real life.”

“Yeah, yeah.  So, how long until we get out of here?”

“Give me an hour.  I need to finish this report.”

“Okay,” Jack headed for the door.  “She called me 'Jack.”

“What?”

“When Carter woke up, she called me 'Jack' and then she thanked me.  I don't get it.”

“Jack, she was knocked unconscious for hours and stranded for four days in that anomaly.  I think a bit of confusion on Sam's part is to be expected.”

Jack shrugged, “See you in an hour,” and walked out of Daniel's office.

====

“Hey, Sam, welcome back,” Daniel smiled, entering Sam's lab.

“Thanks,” the blonde said cautiously, after being cleared again for active duty after a few days rest.

“You okay?  You seem a little ...” Daniel shrugged.

“Daniel, we need to talk.  I should have called you at home, but I've been putting this off.”

“Okay,” Daniel said innocently, taking a seat on a stool.

Sam closed the door to her lab and turned off the camera.  Daniel thought that was unusual for her, but he didn't say anything.  He watched her pace around nervously.  She rambled on about the nebula and the hallucinations, her hands fidgeting and waving in the air frequently to accent her words.

Sam reviewed the reason for her mission and how she had modified the hyperdrive to make a single jump inside the gas cloud to prevent the Promethesus from being tracked, and that's when she had been knocked out, her head banging against the corridor wall.

Sam talked about seeing the little girl and not knowing who she was.  She mentioned Teal'c, adding that now she realized he was her protector, urging her to remain alert and focused.

“I remember Teal'c kept telling me that I had to stay awake or I'd die.  And you, well, you were my motivator, urging me take new directions, to seize the moment and not let the opportunity to study the gas cloud slip by.”

“Seize the moment?”

“Yes, that's what you said, and that it was important for me to check it out ... the gas cloud.  You kept after me to broaden my horizons, to do more than run system checks 24/7.”

“What about the little girl?”

“Play with me.”

“Excuse me?”

“That's what she wanted, for me to play with her.  Daniel, somehow, that little girl was me, too, the little girl me who didn't want to study quite as much as I did, who wants to have ... fun.”

“Makes sense.  I've learned that myself, thanks to Jack.”

“Jack,” Sam said softly.

Daniel perked up at the use of the first name.  He'd actually been working on trying to get the two to use first names, but old habits had been hard to break.

Sam continued walking as she talked, her voice a tad strained and hesitant, and more and more she was avoiding looking at Daniel.

“Sam, if your worried about the hallucinations being in the report, I wouldn't.  I mean, look at my history,” Daniel smiled.

“The thing is, I didn't put everything in the report.”

“You didn't?”

“No, I didn't.  My father was there, too.  I mean, I envisioned him.”

“And?”

“He wanted to know if I was happy.”

“Oh.  And?”

“And when I said I was, he argued with me.  His exact words were, 'You're content.  You're satisfied. You're in control.”

Daniel fidgeted slightly with the seat he was sitting on.

“Aren't you happy?  I mean, I thought you were.  The mystery boyfriend, and all of that.”

Sam shrugged and nervously paced some more as she spoke, “Dad told me it was time to let go of the things that were preventing me from finding happiness.”

Sam sighed and turned to face Daniel, “And Dad was right.  Daniel, this is hard, really hard, but I have to tell you the truth.”

“Sam, what is it?”

“The colonel was there, too.  I mean, I imagined him ... there.”

“Oh?”

Sam gulped and considered requesting a transfer to Elmendorf rather than go through what she was about to, but she knew there would be no escape from the truth, and if she really wanted to move forward, she had to take care of the past.

“Gawd, Daniel.  I love you guys.  You know that.”

“We love you, too.  Sam, what's wrong?” Daniel rose and walked over to the anxious blonde.

“Daniel, do you remember a long time ago, years even, I admitted to you that when we first met, I had sort of ... gawd, a crush on you?”

Daniel smiled, “Yeah, but you got over it.”

“Yeah, I did.  And I had a sort of ... crush on the colonel, too.”

“That's not unusual.  He's your CO, someone to look up to, and besides, he's gorgeous,” Daniel winked.

Sam turned, her breathing becoming a bit more labored.

“What's eating at you?”

“This is so hard,” the Air Force major mumbled, staring at a wall.

“Sam?”

“Daniel, I ... I swear to you I've never tried to interfere.  I don't even think I've realized this on a conscious level. I think it was just ... there, controlling me, but not available for daily review.”

Daniel shook his head blankly, totally clueless.

“Let me tell you about the vision on the Prometheus.  You see, I was feeling down, and I was tired, and the colonel came to give me a sort of ... pep talk.  I remember he said that's what friends were for, and I ... I asked if that's what we were ... friends.”

Daniel stood still, his heart suddenly beating a bit faster.  His eyes never left Sam's, needing to see every emotion and expression in them.

“He said he was my imagination and we had to be honest, so I was.”

//Flashback - Sam's conversation with Jack on the Prometheus//
“What if I quit the Air Force?  Would that change anything or is it just an excuse?”

“I would never ask you to give up your career,” Jack said matter-of-factly.

“Because you don't feel anything for me?”

“Carter!” Jack said, a warning in his voice.

“I'd let you go right now if I knew,” Sam replied, almost desperately.

“That easy?”

“I didn't say it would be easy.”

“Then what's stopping you if you really want to know?”

“I'm trying.”

“Maybe it's not me that's the problem here.  Let's face it.  I'm not that complex.”

“Me?” Sam asked, the truth finally beginning to sink in.

“Sam, I'm a safe bet.”

“As long as I'm thinking about you, setting my sights on what I think is unobtainable, there's no chance of being hurt by someone else.”

“Jacob was right,” Jack acknowledged, “You deserve more.  I will always be there for you, no matter what.  Believe me.”
//End of Flashback//

Daniel stood quietly, his arms now folded.

“Daniel, say something.”

“What do you want me to say?  Actually, what exactly is it you are saying to me?”

Sam sighed, “Daniel, I think I've had this ... inward, slightly romantic, little ... crush on the colonel from the beginning, and even though I knew there could never be anything, I've ... well, I've sort of kept him in my hip pocket, using him to keep me from getting involved ... I mean really involved with someone else.”

“Martouf?  Narim?  Orlin?”

“Daniel, I ... I don't know.  I never let myself get really close to any of them.  I used Jolinar as an excuse, and ... somewhere deep inside, I kept thinking ...”

“That you had Jack?”

“Not exactly.  Daniel, I told you, and you have to believe me.  It wasn't a conscious act or feeling.  I would never hurt you.”

“I feel like such a fool.  I knew it.  How many times have I said it?  Gawd,” Daniel threw out his hands as he turned and walked to the other side of the room, “You're in love with him?  Is that what you're saying?”

“No!  No, Daniel, I'm not.  I've never been in love with him ... or anyone, not really.  But I used his rank and closeness to keep me safe.”

“Keep you SAFE?”

“From being hurt.”

“And what about this boyfriend of yours?”

“It's the same thing.  I've kept him at a distance.  I don't really know how I feel about him now.  I need to think about that some more.”

Daniel shook his head, not knowing what to say.

“Look, Daniel, I need to say this again.  I have never done or said anything consciously to betray your trust.  I realize now what's been happening, the safety mechanism I enabled using the colonel, but I've never done anything or ...”

“Right.  What about the game, Sam?  All those touches and smiles?  The ... oh gawd, the feelings?”

“They don't mean anything now, like they didn't when they happened.  I swear.”

“You're lying, Sam, if not to me, then to yourself.  Did you even listen to that conversation you just told me about?  Gawd, you nearly offered to resign, and even when Jack said no, you had him pledge some ... some unending loyalty to you.  Who are you trying to convince anyway?”

“No one, Daniel.  It's the truth!”

For the first time in a long time, Daniel was becoming unglued.  He had thought his world was finally settled, and now, here was someone he trusted more than most in the universe, and she was telling him that his reality wasn't as secure as he thought.  All he heard at this point was the lie; all he felt was the betrayal; and all he wanted to do was lash out and fight for what was his ... Jack!

“I can't believe a word you say anymore,” Daniel spoke angrily.  “Are you so desperate that you need to go after someone else's husband? Leave Jack alone, Sam.  Go find someone else to stab in the back.  You make me sick!”

Daniel turned his back on Sam, his breathing becoming more labored to match his anger.

“Stop it, Daniel!  I'm telling you this because you're my friend, and I thought you'd understand and respect me for telling you the truth.  It's what you say you want, but now I ... I wish I hadn't bothered.  You're acting like a child, hearing only what you want to.  Geez, Daniel, you're acting as if I'm having some back-room affair with Jack.”

“That's Colonel O'Neill to you, Major,” Daniel said turning around, his eyes on fire with rage.  “You've taken enough liberties with MY husband, don't you think?”

“Will you please make up your mind, Daniel!  You've both been telling me to call him Jack for ages.”

“Which you've refused to do until now, NOW when you suddenly admit you've got feelings for him!”

“No, Daniel, I don't ... not in that way.  Daniel, I'm not a threat to you.  Why are you so worried?

“I am NOT worried.  I was wrong, okay?  You're in the military, so you need to retain that discipline.  That's what Jack says, so ... remember, Major, he's your commanding officer.”

“He's told me to call him Jack outside work.  What we call ourselves is up to us.  You can't make decisions like that for him.  You're acting like he's some ... possession.  You might be married to him, but you don't own him.”

“Oh, he's mine all right, lock, stock and barrel.  Just as I'm his, and he'll tell you just that.  Listen to you, to what you've said.  This new independence of yours, it certainly seems convenient to your revelation.  But I don't care what you think, Sam, not anymore.

“Jack is mine.  He loves me, and he wants me ... in every way a person wants another.  You could strip off in front of him, Sam, and do a belly dance.  It wouldn't affect him in the slightest.  Gawd, you are so full of yourself, it's unbelievable.”

“Me?  Daniel, aren't you the one who won't let this go?”

“What did you expect, Sam?  That you could stand there and calmly tell me you're in love with MY husband, that you intend to call him Jack now, but oh, wait, it doesn't mean anything?  Isn't that what you're saying, Sam?  'Don't mind me, Daniel, I want Jack, but of course, I won't do anything to hurt you.  I'd never do that, and while we continue to play the game, don't worry, I don't mean to look at him that way.  It doesn't mean anything, Daniel.  It's only a game.  GAWD!”

Daniel was almost red in the face.  He reached over and grabbed a glass that was on the table and threw it against the wall, needing a release.  Sam flinched as she heard the glass shatter against the wall.

Daniel couldn't remember ever feeling this angry, not outwardly, but he couldn't hold it in.  He felt like he was being suffocated.  His love for Jack was everything to him now.  Sam was threatening that in so many ways.  He had to protect Jack, and their plans for their future together.  Logic and calm had fled the young man; all he had now was the fierce need to close the circle, to surround his lover with a shield strong enough to keep Sam away.

Sam had endured all she could take, too.  She had thought she was doing something good, being honest, sharing her feelings with someone she trusted, but now, she wasn't sure whether or not she wanted anything to do with Daniel anymore either.  She was furious at being interrogated and made to feel like some sleazy girl going after someone else's man.  The gloves had come off and no way was she going to just sit and take it.

“I'm going to say this one more time.  Keep your hands and your thoughts to yourself.  You go anywhere near him and you can kiss this friendship goodbye, whatever's left of it.  Right now, I don't even want to look at you.  I trusted you, Sam.  I trusted you with the most important part of my life and you've thrown it back in my face.”

Daniel felt himself becoming a bit sentimental, but he wasn't ready for that.  He needed to make sure she understood that this was non-negotiable - Jack was his.

“There's nothing you've got that he wants, Baby,” Daniel spoke with a sarcastic flare, “so don't even bother to flaunt it at him.  HE'S MARRIED!”

“It's not a real marriage!" Sam shouted, “It's just some convenience for two people who ... oh gawd, Daniel.”

The minute she said the words Sam wished she could cut her own tongue out.  She hadn't meant it, not at all, but Daniel had gotten so angry with her that she had gotten angry back.

“What did you say?” Daniel's eyes had narrowed, and his voice was dangerously low.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean it.  Of course, it's real.  You just made me so angry, Daniel.  Please let's not do this.  It's not worth ruining our friendship over.”

Daniel shook his head, pacing the room himself now.  He was trying desperately not to speak rashly.  Sam had just pushed both of them to the limit.  If they spoke much more, there might not be any way of repairing the damage.

Suddenly he stopped and looked at Sam, asking pointedly, “Why tell me?”

“Because you're my friend, and you deserve to know the truth, and so does the colonel.  I'll ... I'll tell him this afternoon.”

“No, you won't!” Daniel's eyes glared sharply at Sam.

“What?”

“He'll feel guilty.  He'll feel ... obligated to try and make you feel better.  Don't tell him.”

“I have to.”

“Why?  So you'll feel better?”

“No, of course not.  Daniel, he's my friend, too.”

“Jack.”

Sam stared at Daniel, unsure of his meaning.

“When you woke up in the infirmary, you called him by name, not by rank.”

“I was unconscious.”

“You woke up.”

“Daniel ...”

“Just stop it, Sam.  What is it with you anyway?  Why do you always seem to want what I have?”

“Not that again.  I apologized already for letting anyone think that what I accomplished diminished your contribution.”

“DIMINISHED MY CONTRIBUTION?  I opened the Stargate, Sam.  Me!  Not Catherine!  Not Jack!  And not you!  Diminish?  Gawd!”

“We've already gone over this ...”

“Sorry, if you're bored!”

Sam became more exasperated, “Do we really have to go here?”

“Yes, we do, because it's all connected.  You've spent years trying to compete with me.  I have no idea why you feel you have to, but you seem to have this inbred streak in you that makes you have to be the best at everything.  Well. I've got news for you, you're not.  You're a smart woman, Sam, and I give you credit for your scientific knowledge and skill with technology, but I opened the Stargate *without* your help.”

Daniel walked closer to her, his eyes still angry, but his voice was calm, almost eerily so, “... A fact I might add, that you conveniently seem to forget when we're in official company.  How many times, Sam, has it been me who has come up with ninety percent of the answer, figured out the why and the essence of what needs to be done?  You stroll in, deduce the missing ten percent, and then take all the credit.

“I've never fought back, not ever.  I've never corrected a mission report.  I've never butted in when the general asked how we solved a crisis.  I've let you, Sam, just waiting for that one time that you said, 'but it was Daniel's idea' but no, it never happens.  Fine, Sam, you want the credit for the missions, you got it. I bow to your superior intellect!”

“Now you're just being ridiculous and condescending,” Sam said, surprisingly softly, but she was feeling the sting of Daniel's words, and they were a bit too close to home for the woman who prided herself on her skills and abilities.

“Am I?  Don't forget Sam that without me, you wouldn't have the gate addresses to put into your little computer.  Remember, Captain Doctor,” Daniel reverted back in time, “I'm not even into astrophysics but I'm the one who figured out about the stellar drift when we were in the Cartouche.  If it wasn't for me, you'd still be sitting there twiddling your thumbs, trying to figure out how to open the gate, and you sure in Netu wouldn't be exploring worlds.”

Sam was stunned.  She didn't know this man, not even when he had been suffering from the effects of the sarcophagus had he been this spiteful towards her.

“What? You're shocked that I can say things like this to you?  So sorry, but you've finally found the right button to push.  I'm sick and tired of the power games that get played on this base. The one thing that I trust in, that I love and that keeps me going, is Jack.  Do you understand that, Sam?”

Daniel was getting emotional now, his anger taking him towards a deeply emotional, inner truth, “He's everything that means anything to me.  He's my world, and now, after all these years, you're telling me that the game wasn't a game.  You want him, Sam?  *Tough luck*.  You don't know me, not when it comes to fighting for the one thing that means life to me.”

Daniel walked as close to Sam as he could.  In fact, it frightened her just a little, “I'm sorry, Sam, for you, because you see, there's nothing for you.  Jack and I belong to each other; we're ... invested in each other one-hundred percent.  There's nothing left over for you to claim.”

“I'm not trying to claim anything,” Sam said, feeling drained from the conversation.

“You can't have him, Sam!”

“I don't want him.  I was just trying to be honest, that's all.”

“Well, you can put your honesty where you put your friendship which apparently is WAY down on your list of priorities.  Jack is mine, and he's going to stay mine.”

“Daniel, you're losing the focus here.  We should be centered on the ...”

“Gawd, this isn't a freakin' science experiment, Sam.  This is emotion, or don't you know what that is?  Let me make it clear again.  Jack is mine.  He'd never leave me for you, and I wouldn't let him if he tried.  If you try and come between us, you'll be sorry.”

Sam was stunned, being totally unprepared for Daniel's reaction.  “For goodness sake, Daniel, I was only trying to tell you how I feel.  I've been lying to myself for too long now, and I'm sorry, but I just can't do it anymore.”

“So you have to clear your conscience?  Who gains, Sam?  Me?  I don't think so.  Jack?  Gawd, no.  You?  You feel better now?  Your conscience clear?  Gawd,” Daniel turned away again, furious with Sam, his anger rising in the form of a pounding head, rapid pulse, and a blood pressure that he was sure was through the roof.  “Are you sure you're being honest?  Maybe you just want to say you warned me first.  Maybe you just want Jack.”

“For crying out loud, Daniel, I wanted to speak to you first because I love you, not because I want to hurt you, but I have to start thinking of myself.  I have to tell Jack how I feel.”

“Jack?  You have to tell *Jack*?”

“Daniel ... fine ... I have to tell the colonel how I feel.”

“He doesn't feel the same way Sam, and no matter how much you mimic him, that won't change.  He's married remember? *To me*!  You're just going to make him feel guilty, and I can't let you do that.”
 
“I have to.  He has to know the truth.”
 
“The truth?  I don't think you even know the definition of the word any more.  Why does he have to know the truth?  Please explain it to me. You say that you need to tell him because he has the right to know. You've had some great epiphany and you think Jack should know all about it.  Is it because, in your mind you think there's the tiniest chance that he feels the same way, and if that's the case, then he should have all the facts and be able to make an informed decision?”

“Daniel ...”

“No, Sam.  I don't want to hear any more, and I don't want you to tell Jack,” Daniel walked into Sam's personal space.  “I mean it, Sam.  Do NOT tell Jack.”  Backing away, Daniel said, “I have to go.”

“Daniel, please,” Sam turned, calling out to her friend who was by the closed door.

Daniel paused, but only for a moment, before he opened the door and walked out.
 
====

“Okay, Campers, let's map this out,” Jack said as he sat down with his team to review their upcoming mission to PR9-44J.

Jack was surprised at the silence that filled the room.  This was to a be a scientific mission, with a little something for both Sam and Daniel so he had anticipated being bored stiff by their rampant prattling during the session, but neither were saying a word.

Daniel was playing with his pen, twirling it around in his hand.  He was staring intently at the SGC logo, from what Jack could see.  Sam was playing with the edges of the report, moving her thumb as if the pages were a deck of cards.

Only Teal'c seemed normal, studying the gathered information and stating, “There doesn't seem to be a need for concern, O'Neill.  This planet seems primitive.”

Jack's gaze went back and forth from his lover to his 2IC and he coughed lightly, “That's right, Teal'c.  The locals are the basic sort, Andy and Barney at the worst.”

Teal'c raised an eyebrow in question.

“You know, Andy Taylor and his deputy, Barney Fife?  Mayberry?  Forget it, Teal'c.  Point is, it's a quiet bunch with simple laws from what SG-7 reports, but the planet is full of ...”  Jack paused purposefully, his focus going back and forth between the so-called science twins.  “... rocks and energy doohickeys.”  He eyed Daniel, who still hadn't looked up or said anything.  He looked to Sam who also was doing nothing but staring at the front page of the report.  “Okay, what's going on?”

No one moved.  Teal'c, however, exchanged a glance with Jack, and then both took turns looking at the two uncharacteristically quiet members of SG-1.

“Daniel?” Jack asked.

“What?” Daniel responded.

“Why so quiet?” the colonel prodded.

Daniel looked across at Sam and shrugged as he spoke, “Nothing to say, I guess.”

Jack looked at his second-in-command and prompted, “Carter?  No comments?”

“It's pretty straight forward, Sir.”

“Sir,” Daniel laughed.

“Daniel.  You have something you want to share with the rest of the class?”

“I don't think so, Jack.  There's nothing I've heard about lately that's worth discussing -- only some myths, lies and fairytales.”

“Oh, sure,” Sam mumbled.  “Let's not speak because the genius Doctor Jackson has decreed silence.”

“I'd love to have a bit of silence just about now.  Not going to happen though, is it Sam?”

Jack frowned at the sarcastic tone in Daniel's voice.  Something was obviously wrong.  He couldn't ever recall hearing Daniel and Sam speaking in such tones to the other, and the looks in both of their eyes disturbed the leader of SG-1 tremendously.

“Okay, listen, we aren't going anywhere if I can't be one-hundred percent confident that my team is functioning, and in all honesty, right now, I can't say that.  Now, would one or both of you mind telling me what the problem is?”

“It's nothing, Jack.  Just a little ... difference of opinion.  But it's okay.  We'll be fine.  Won't we, Sam?”

“Sure, Daniel,” the major spoke unconvincingly.

“Fine.  Carter, meet me in my office in fifteen.  Daniel, Hammond wants that preliminary outline for the Crunija mission before we leave, so let me know when that's done.  Teal'c, boxing at 1200?”

“As you wish, O'Neill.”

“Dismissed,” Jack said as he rose and walked out, wondering if that had been the first time since the formation of SG-1 that he had ever spoken that formally during a meeting.

====

Sam glanced at Daniel and then hurried out of the meeting room where they had gathered.

“DanielJackson, are you sure you are all right?” the Chulakian inquired.

“I'm fine, Teal'c, but I need to catch up with Sam.  Excuse me.”  Daniel walked briskly out of the room, moving to a half-jog pace to catch up with the major at the elevator.  “Sam, wait up.”

“Daniel, the colonel is expecting me.”

“The colonel is expecting his 2IC, and that is exactly who had better show up.  Don't tell him, Sam.”

“Daniel, he has a right to know, and I need to tell him.  I can't keep this secret from him or it'll ... it'll become a secret.”

“He doesn't need the guilt trip or the responsibility for you.  We're getting out, Sam.  Just another year.  He doesn't need this now, to be worried about you more than he already does.”

“Daniel, why can't you understand?  It's not a big deal.”

“Sam,” the elevator doors opened, and Sam backed into it.

“The colonel is expecting me.”

“Don't tell him.  I'm warning you, Sam,” Daniel said with his voice slightly raised.

When the doors closed, Daniel banged his right hand against it, “I'm such a fool.  Gawd!”

The anguish Daniel was feeling was difficult to put into words.  He was scared of losing his world, only he couldn't really admit that yet.  What he did realize, however, was that Jack's natural tendency to put his team first and himself second made this situation with Sam very difficult.

Jack would begin to second guess himself and his orders, and Daniel was afraid it would lead to a tragic result.  At the same time, Daniel simply felt like the classic fool, having allowed Sam to “toy” with his husband for years.  He wasn't worried about losing Jack, but at the same time, his defense mechanisms were at an all-time high.  No one would take Daniel's happiness from him now.  He had worked too long and hard to finally be happy.  He wouldn't allow anyone to interfere, not even Sam!

====

“Sounds pretty routine, Carter.”

“Yes, Sir, it is, but we have the chance to learn more about this particular variation.  It could help us enhance the naquadah capacity in the future.  So, it's routine, but actually, very exciting ... Sir.”

“So, Carter,” Jack leaned back in his chair, “why didn't you say all of this in the briefing?”

“Sir, I need to come clean about something.”

“Is this something why Daniel was equally ... chatty ... during the briefing?” Jack smirked with confidence.

“Yes, Sir.  Colonel, this isn't easy for me, but I feel you have a right to know, and I need for you to understand that I truly wasn't aware of it.  It didn't affect anything.”

Jack leaned forward and nodded.

“Um, Sir ...” Sam nodded toward the standard surveillance equipment that adorned Jack's office.

Jack reached into his drawer and used the remote device Sam had gifted him with one holiday season to turn off the recording equipment.

Sam sighed, and as she had done with Daniel, she explained to her CO about her conversation with him on the ship.  When she was done, Jack was doodling nervously on a pad of yellow paper while avoiding making eye contact.

“So, Carter, that's why you called me Jack when you woke up?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I see.”

“Sir, there's nothing.  I mean, you were an excuse and I've only just realized it, and the thing is ...”

At that moment, Daniel knocked quickly on the door a couple of times, and then entered, not waiting to be invited in.  He stood at the door, looking at Jack and then at Sam, and back at Jack.

“You told him, didn't you?”

“Daniel,” Sam said.

“I asked you not to, but you had to do it.”

Jack stood and walked over to his husband, “Daniel, it's no big deal.  So, she had a little crush.  It's over now.  No harm.”

“No harm?  Gawd, Jack, she made a fool out of me.”

“Daniel, she didn't even know what she was doing.  It's okay.”

“She always knows what she's doing; it's one of her qualities.  I begged her not to tell you.  She was fully aware of what it was doing to me, of how I felt about it, but obviously my feelings and wishes don't matter enough for her to keep her mouth shut.  I'm sorry, but I've got every right to be angry.”

“Daniel ...”

“Even is she's telling the entire truth, Jack, which I doubt, I asked her to respect my wishes.  You're my husband, not hers, but that doesn't seem to mean anything to her, and I can't forgive that.  She's ignored everything I said.  I want you to tell her to leave Jack.”

“Can't we just talk it all out?  If we don't, it'll be left to fester and the problems between you guys will just get worse.”

“Jack ...” Daniel spoke with his eyes, and Jack heard him, but the older man's heart ached for Daniel and the pain he was in.

“Daniel, please, you have to know that we can all get through this, if we talk.  That's your niche ... talking.  It might take a while, but you know I love you, so what we have to do is ... work it out.  Please, for the future of SG-1, you have to believe that everything's going to be okay.”

“No, it's not,” Daniel said, turning to stare at Sam.  “There's more isn't there?  I know it.  I can feel it.  You haven't told us everything, Sam, so now that you've just had to make yourself feel better, why not say it all?”

When Sam looked down, Jack reared his head back slightly in surprise.  It seemed Daniel was right, again.

“Carter?”

Sam stood and faced her friends, at least she hoped they were still her friends.  Gathering up all her courage, she spoke swiftly, “I imagined you kissed me, Sir.”

“Excuse me, Carter?”

“On the ship, Sir, when I was talking with you, I imagined that we kissed.”

“Wait a minute,” Jack chuckled, “You were hallucinating, talking to an imaginary me and while doing that you imagined kissing the imaginary me.  Is that about right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Sweet!”

After Daniel swatted Jack on the arm, Jack expressed, “Ouch.  That hurt, Danny.”

“That's not all that's going to hurt if you don't be quiet.”

Jack stared at Daniel in surprise.

“You had to tell him, Sam, didn't you?  I asked you not to, but you did, and now, gawd, now you admit you wanted to kiss him?”

“That's not what I said.”

“I don't FREAKIN' care what you said.  It must have been somewhere in your subconscious, for it to have happened at all.  I've had enough of this.  Get out!”

“Daniel,” Jack said, earning a warning stare that he didn't care to deal with further, so Jack looked at Sam and motioned for her to leave.

“I'll ... talk to you soon, Daniel.”

Daniel said nothing but stared at her without flinching.  She approached them and was about to ask them to move since they were blocking the door when he suddenly moved forward, grabbing Jack's hand and pulling him with him, as if wanting to make sure Sam couldn't get too close to the older man.  Sam sighed, but walked out without uttering a sound.

Daniel faced the wall on the opposite side of the door, his arms folded tightly around himself.  Jack walked up to him, wrapping his arms around his husband's waist.

“Danny, it's nothing.  Why are you so upset?”

“Gawd, Jack, all those ... those moments, it was real for her.  I feel like an idiot for ... giving her permission to ... to do all of that with you.”

“No, didn't you hear her?  She wasn't even aware of what she felt or was doing, and she's been too good of a friend to us both to think it's all been a lie.”

“But it has, Jack,” Daniel turned and faced his spouse, “Don't you see?  She wants you.”

“No, she doesn't, but even if she did, I'm already taken, just in case you've forgotten.”

“Jack ... gawd.”

Jack pulled Daniel into a hug.

“She's supposed to be my friend,” Danny said as he let his husband hold him.

“She is, Danny.  She loves you.”

“She loves you, and it's not right.”

“Look, maybe you just need to put some distance between you and this little ... revelation.  It'll be fine.  No big deal.”

Daniel said nothing as Jack held him.  He was angry and hurt, but it was his battle, not Jack's.  He had a reason for not wanting Sam to reveal her feelings, and now he was worried about Jack, too.

“Danny?  Come on, what are you thinking about?”

Daniel pulled back and shook his head.

“No secrets, remember?”

“You're going to worry about her.  I mean, more now.  She's going to be a distraction that we don't need.”

“I'm not sure I know what you mean.”

“Jack, you've already been worried about us ... surviving this next year, and you want Sam and Teal'c ready to meet their future, a future beyond SG-1, and now ... now you're going to be more focused on making sure that nothing ... weird is happening.  Oh, never mind.  I don't know how to explain it, and please don't remind me I'm a linguist,” Daniel said, walking away.  “I have to finish that report.”

====

“Sir, do you have a moment?”

“Come on in, Jack.”

“General, I'd like to request a delay in the mission to PR9-44J.”

“Why, Colonel?”

Jack coughed, “Slight problem in adjusting the scientific perimeters of the ... doohickeys.”

“The doohickeys?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You're hedging, Jack.”

Jack said nothing.

“Colonel?”

“Was that a question, Sir?”

“Do you want it to be?”

“Frankly ... no.”

The general paused as he relaxed back into his chair and questioned, “How long?”

“I'm ... not sure, Sir.  Those ... doohickeys are a bit ... volatile at the moment.”

“Okay, Jack.  Keep me apprised of the situation.”

“Thank you, General,” Jack acknowledged and then headed for the door.

“Jack?”

“Sir?”

“Those ... doohickeys are very valuable.  Handle with care.”

“Always, Sir,” Jack responded with smile before exiting his commander's office.

====

“Daniel, let it go.  Carter's a woman, as you only recently pointed out to me when we sent her to that Spa.”

“Don't remind me,” Daniel flinched.

Jack groaned.  He had tried all day to get through to his lover, to get him to not be so upset at the crush that Sam had admitted to, but Daniel couldn't.  He walked to his soulmate and put his hands on the young man's face.  Jack smiled, and leaned in for a kiss.

“Why can't you let it go?  You're normally the first one to preach understanding in situations like this.”

"I knew it, Jack.  I kept telling myself no, that I was being ridiculous,  but all those times she played the game so well, she was really after you."

“Angel, Carter doesn't want me, not really.  She said it; I was safe.”

“She kissed you.”

“In her imagination, or to be more exact, in her hallucination's imagination.  It doesn't mean anything.”

Daniel shook his head, saying, “I'm going to take the girls for a walk.  Are you coming with us?”

Jack looked straight into Daniel's eyes, “Angel, I'll always be with you.  I'll get the harnesses.”

====

The next day, Daniel was working on some translations when Sam entered his office, closing the door behind her.

“We need to talk.”

“Why?”

“Because you're my friend, and I don't like what's happening.”

“It's not my fault.”

“Daniel, what I'm guilty of is trusting you to handle the truth.”

“No, Sam, what you're guilty of is hiding behind the concept of honesty. You want to make yourself better by sharing this ... truth.  Why?  What was the point?”

“I thought you should know, both of you.”

“Fine, we know, now if you don't mind, I have work to do.”

“Daniel, I do mind.  We need to work this out if we want to continue working together as a team.”

“That's it, isn't it?” Daniel rose and walked to within two feet of Sam, “You're afraid the general will break us up!  Well, maybe that's for the best.”

“You don't mean that.”

“Yes, I think I do.  I'm tired of you always competing with me.  I don't need to win, Sam, but I do expect to have respect from the people on my own team.  I've earned it.”

“Yes, you have, but I've always had respect for you.”

“Have you?  I didn't hear you telling Jack he was wrong to tell me to shut up on Euronda.  I didn't see you standing up for your beliefs when Jack was ready to blow up the Gadmeer, using a bomb *you* created!  I didn't feel you holding them back from locking me up in a cell when everyone, including you, thought I was a nutcase!”

“Daniel, that's not fair!”

“Fair?  Was it fair for you to let the bigwigs gush over *your* accomplishments in opening the Stargate and building the program up? Or how about on ...”

“You're wrong, about all of it!  I'm not perfect, and I don't pretend to be.”

“But you'd like to be, and you don't care who you step on to try and get there, do you?”

Sam cocked her head in shock, “I do care.”

“Then why did I almost die ... again ... during a torrential storm on  P3L-997?  Could it be because you didn't follow all the safety protocols -- AGAIN ... in your quest to get there first ... just like on K'tau?”

“I didn't create the virus.”

“No, but you didn't do all the testing you should have, did you?”

Sam hesitated.  She didn't want to answer that.

“I could have died, Sam.  And I suppose if I had you would have been there to comfort Jack, just like you did for me when I thought he was dead last year?  Gawd, Sam, you don't even know what the truth is!  Get out, and leave me alone.”

“It was only a little crush, Daniel, and it was a long time ago.  Nothing could happen with Jack ... I mean the colonel and I.”

Daniel was seething, “You're right, Sam.  Nothing could happen because you don't have what it takes.”

“What do you mean?”

“I'll show you,” Daniel opened the door and walked out.  Turning back, “Well?  You too afraid to see the truth?”

Sam didn't know what Daniel was planning, so she blindly followed, quickly realizing they were heading for Jack's office.

“Daniel, I'm sure he's busy.”

“Never for me,” Daniel said a bit arrogantly as he opened the door without knocking, reaching out and pulling Sam inside the office.

“Hey, what's going on?” Jack said, seeing his 2IC practically falling into the room.

Daniel closed the door, locking it dramatically.  He walked to Jack's desk, opened the drawer and turned off the recording devices.  He took Jack's hand and pulled him over towards the door, wanting to make sure Sam couldn't leave.

“Daniel, what the blazes is going on?”

“Shut up, Jack,” he said looking over to Sam.  “Watch and learn why you can never have him!”

“What the ...?” Jack had twisted to look at Sam, but Daniel's hand reached to his face, turning him towards the younger man again.

Then Daniel kissed Jack, catching the older man totally by surprise.  The kiss was demanding, possessive, and full of hunger, and it led to another.  In fact, Daniel used his best kiss to get Jack's full attention, knowing that otherwise, Jack would rebel against the intimacy in front of his 2IC.

But both Jack and Daniel had a shared weakness.  Each had a special style, a certain kiss that instantly turned the other to a mass of quivering jelly, and after the first two kisses, Daniel used the “Danny Special” to show Sam just how much Jack was his.

Sam had never witnessed their passion before.  Over the years, they'd shielded her, and all their friends, from the power of their relationship in a physical sense, not wanting to risk careers or make people feel uncomfortable.  Their wedding was the most anyone had seen, so this was a real eye opener for the blonde major.

Feeling like a voyeur but being unable to move at first, Sam's eyes were wide as Daniel's and Jack's arms wrapped around each other.  She heard the soft moans coming from their throats.

“Mine.  All mine,” Daniel gasped between kisses.

His hands were at Jack's back, slowly pulling up Jack's green jacket.  His lover wasn't wearing a tee shirt this day, so as soon as he moved the material, he began to caress Jack's lower back, slowly moving his hands downward.

Their lips were like suction cups glued together, their tongues dancing wildly.  Daniel was possessed, and Jack was totally lost in being the possession of the possessed.

Sam watched, wanting to look away.

“I should go,” she tried to move towards the door, but Daniel held Jack in place, continuing to devour him in front of Sam.

Sam had nowhere to run, and she found herself locked on to Daniel's roaming hands, her eyes widening as she saw them reach down inside the back of Jack's BDUs.  She could see the impressions of his movements, the caressing, rubbing and pressing as he shoved Jack into him for a moment.

“Geez, Danny, what you do to me,” Jack said, having totally forgotten where they were and what was happening.

Sam watched Daniel's hands move back up to Jack's back and saw the shivering from the touch on Jack's skin.  She really didn't want to be there.  She didn't want this show going on in front of her, but she had no choice.

Then, she saw Daniel's hands going to Jack's waist, and she could see the bulging.  She felt embarrassed for all of them.

“Daniel please.  Let me go!” Sam begged, on the verge of tears for the situation which she knew she was mostly responsible for.

Daniel backed away from Jack slightly.  It was like releasing the older man from a spell.

“Geez, Danny, what's going on?”

“He's mine, Sam.  You can't do anything for him.  And that ... that's the truth,” Daniel spoke, looking pale and himself on the edge of hyperventilating from having done what he just had in front of Sam.

Daniel turned and walked out, leaving a stunned Jack with a flustered and emotional 2IC.

“I'm so sorry, Sir,” Sam spoke unable to actually stop a few tears.

Jack started to walk towards her in an attempt to comfort, but stopped, fearing Daniel would return and assume something that wasn't.

“Carter, I don't know what made Daniel do that, and for my part, I apologize because it was out of line.  But honestly, when he does that, I sort of ... I zone out.  Uh, look, is there something else I don't know?”

“Not that I'm aware of, Sir.”

“You'd better go, Carter.  I don't want him getting more upset.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam practically ran out of the office.

Jack moved to the sofa and sat down.  He reached for his wallet and took out the velvet pouch that held his wedding ring.  There was something more going on, and he had to get it under control and fast or SG-1 would be nothing but a memory soon.

He knew that eventually he could get through to Daniel, that something was causing this rift that Daniel just couldn't see at the moment, but he also knew that Hammond's understanding for Jack's troubles with his team could only extend so far and for so long, and the clock was ticking on that understanding.

Outside, in one of his favorite spots to walk with Jack during breaks, Daniel stood silently and shook his head as he self-hugged.  He felt embarrassed, even guilty for what he had done, and yet, he surprised himself when he admitted that he'd do it again.  Jack was his husband, and he knew what was best for him, not Sam ... and what was best for Jack was Daniel.  He would fight to keep Jack alive, no matter what!

====

Jack was searching the house for his husband.  He hadn't seen him after the incident in his office.  The Shelby-American silver car was in the driveway, though, so Jack knew he was home.  Stopping briefly to greet the dogs who met him at the door, Jack looked for Daniel, finding him on the roof deck, standing still as a statue, self-hugging staring out over their backyard.

“Danny, you shouldn't have done that.  It went too far.”

Daniel smirked defensively, “Why?  Was she embarrassed?  Well, too bad.  She made a mockery out of us.”

“No, she didn't.  She just got carried away on that ship.  Nothing happened, and you know it.  Danny, what's going on?  Come on, Love.  There has to be more to this than some silly hallucination.”

“She's in love with you!”

“No, she's not, and you know that, too.  She was being honest, Daniel... admitting that for a second in time she wondered.  She's never been anything less than a great friend to both of us.”

“Stop defending her.”

“I'm not trying to defend her.  I'm trying to find out why you're obsessed with this.  Talk to me.”

Daniel turned and walked down the ladder that led to the roof deck where Jack had found him.

“Oh, Danny,” Jack lamented, resolving to get this problem handled the next day.

====

Jack whistled down the hallway, spotting the person he wanted, “Siler, a moment of your time, please!”

Sergeant Siler excused himself from the personnel he was talking with and walked over to Jack, who put his arm around him and led him towards a room.

“Sergeant, what I want to know is ... is it possible to ...”

Jack smiled, listening to the answer and then set off in search of his prey.

====

“Airman,” Jack called out.

“Colonel, Sir,” the airman approached, snapped to, and saluted.

“Find Doctor Jackson and give him this.  Tell him it's vital, and Airman, under no circumstances are you to give this to anyone but Doctor Jackson.  Capiche?”

“Yes, Sir,” the airman said sharply, saluting again and then moving off to follow his orders.

“Okay, next,” Jack rubbed his hands together as he headed for Teal'c's quarters.

====

“You ready, T?”

Teal'c nodded as he stood near the door.

“And you understand what you have to do?”

“I am to keep DanielJackson from leaving.”

“And from saying a word.  Not a word, Teal'c.  Remember, SG-1's future depends on this little plan succeeding.”

Teal'c smiled as he bowed his head in acknowledgement.

“I think he's coming,” Jack stated as he moved away from the experimental lab door.

Daniel walked down the hallway.  He said hello to Sergeant Siler who was working on what appeared to be a fuse box.  Siler gave Daniel a funny grin in response, but Daniel didn't think much of it at the moment.

Entering a moderately-sized lab room, one used sparingly for the most dangerous of experiments, Daniel called out, “Jack?  Are you in here?”

“Over here, Daniel!” Jack said from behind a row of tall shelves filled with equipment.

Daniel tried to peer through the objects to see his lover, but couldn't,  so he followed the sound of the voice, and then, just as he reached Jack and started to talk, he felt a presence behind him.  He twisted around, “Oh, hi, Teal'c.”

“DanielJackson, I apologize.”

“For what?”

“For what he's about to do,” Jack said, his voice drawing Daniel to face him again.

“I don't mmmm.”

“Sorry, Daniel.  Teal'c, not a sound.”

Holding Daniel securely, with one hand covering his mouth, Teal'c moved back into the corner of the room.  Within seconds, Sam walked in.

“Colonel O'Neill?”

“Back here, Carter!”

Daniel's eyes widened, but he couldn't fight the big Jaffa.

When Sam stood in front of Jack, the older man went into command mode.

“Carter, what are these?” Jack pointed to the silver adornments on his jacket.

“Wings, Sir.”

“Thank you.  Major, ATTEN...TION!”

Sam immediately snapped to.

“This is an order, Major.  You are to stay at attention until I say otherwise or face disciplinary action.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir!” Sam answered quickly and smartly!

“Eyes front, Major.”

“Yes, Sir!”

Jack walked in front of Daniel and Teal'c, “Okay, Big Guy, take a hike.”

“You wish me to go for a hike, O'Neill.”

“No, it's just an expression.  You can go.  Thanks.”

Teal'c apologized again to Daniel and then released him, heading quickly to the doors.

Daniel's eyes were dark with anger, but before he could unleash his wrath, he saw the special crash doors closing.

“Jack, the doors,” Daniel started to move towards them, but Jack raised his arms, leaving them outstretched as they touched Daniel's shoulders.

“Jack, they're closing.”

“I know,” Jack said, as the swish of the doors sealing was heard.

“What's going on, Jack?”

“One moment,” Jack waited, listening for another noise.

Hearing a slight burst, Jack said, “Ah, there we go.”

“Jack!”

“Major Carter, at ease.  Do ... whatever you want to do.”

“I want to leave, Sir.”

“Except for that.”

“Well, I'm leaving,” Daniel said, walking over and pressing the button that controlled the doors.

Nothing happened.  Daniel turned and looked at his husband coldly.

“They won't open, Danny, not for you and not for the whiz kid over here.  I've made sure of that.”

“The grin,” Daniel lamented.

“Grin?”

“You got Sergeant Siler to do something to the doors!”

Jack smiled, “Now would I do that?”

“Yes!” Sam and Daniel spoke in unison.

“Okay, listen up you two.  We need to get this ... whatever it is straightened out, and now.”

“But, Sir ...”

“Carter, if we don't, you'll find yourself on SG-7.  Do you want that?”

“Not really, Sir.”

“Well, neither do I, and before you get your shackles up, Dr. Jackson, you're not going anywhere.  We're a team.  I mean ... oh, you know what I mean.  You really want Carter off of SG-1?  And I suggest you think seriously about that, because I can't stall Hammond much longer. She'll be gone, Danny ... for real.  So, consider your answer carefully before you speak.  We either work this out, here and now, or SG-1 is about to change forever.”

Daniel sighed, his arms folded.  He was breathing heavily from the emotion, “Fine.  Whatever,” he turned and walked to a chair and sat on it.

“Okay, who wants to go first?”

Sam walked over and sat down on a chair on the other side of the room, but neither she nor Daniel spoke a word.

“Come on you two.  We're a team.  I can't do this alone.”

“She made a fool out of me.”

“I did not, Daniel.  I trusted you to understand a truth, a truth that was difficult for me to tell.  Don't you know I feel like an idiot for even harboring the thoughts I did, even if they were buried in the back of my brain?”

“And that's just it, Sam,” Daniel stood up and walked a few steps, “If it's there, if it's part of you then it's not just some subconscious thought.”

“I am not in love with Colonel O'Neill!”

“I didn't say you were!”

“Not in here, but you have before, and you're wrong, Daniel.  I may not know for certain how I feel about everything or everyone, but I do know that I've never known what you have.  Daniel,” Sam stood and closed the gap between her and her friend, “Gawd, Daniel, I was at your wedding.  You didn't need to show me anything in the colonel's office yesterday, because I saw everything I needed to see in November.  There's so much love between you two.  No one could come between that.”

Daniel blinked, “But what about before?”

“I swear.  Aside from those very early feelings, that schoolgirl-like crush after Abydos, I've never thought about the colonel that way.  And remember, I knew about you two a long time ago.  Do you really think so little of me that you'd think I would have lied about something like this for so many years?  Daniel?”

“Oh gawd,” Daniel turned around.  He didn't want to look at Sam anymore because suddenly he wasn't seeing her, but himself.  “Gawd,” he repeated.

Jack didn't like the tone, the fragility of it.  Considering the subject, it didn't matter what Sam saw or not, so he went to his husband, and held him, “Danny, it's okay.  I love you.  You know that.”

Daniel took a deep breath as he leaned in to Jack, “I don't want to lose you.”

“You can't.  It's an impossibility,” Jack smiled and pulled back to make eye contact, “Danny, you're my life.  I love you.  There's no one who could come between us.”

“The game, Jack.  I hate the game.  I've always hated it.”

Jack paused only for a moment, his mind reeling.  He had never fully understood the toll that their game of deceit had played on his lover.  From the beginning, Daniel hadn't liked it, watching Jack and Sam tease and flirt as they misled the world into thinking there was a romantic relationship between them, but the younger man had gone along because it was necessary.

The colonel hit himself mentally, remembering time after time over the years when some crazy something had happened that had caused Daniel to wonder if there had been something more between Jack and Sam, including all those alternate realities.

Jack was the jealous type, and he had to admit, so was Daniel, the only difference was that Daniel kept his green-eyed monster under control much better than Jack ever had.  Still, having to be the “best friend“ and hearing years worth of stories about his husband and a good friend had been difficult, and only now did Jack realize just how hard it had been.

The amazing thing was that his realization made Jack love Daniel even more, knowing that he would be willing to go along with something he hated so much, something that often hurt him emotionally, just to protect Jack's career.

“I know, Love, but soon, we won't have to play anymore.  I get it now.  It is the game, isn't it?”

“We're married, Jack.  It's not fair.  It's just not fair.”

Daniel felt drained.  He realized himself that his anger and frustration was more over the need to have Sam be a decoy than her recent revelation.  The game had been costly.  He knew Jack loved him, but that didn't lessen the hurt or frustration he felt over the never ending SGC gossip mill that still continued to yammer on about Jack and Sam.

“And that's not Carter's fault, is it?”

“I didn't want her to tell you.”

“Because I'd worry.”

“And get distracted and maybe get killed.  Jack ... I can't lose you ... not now.  Gawd, not now.”

Daniel's worst fear was losing his long-sought happiness.  The last few months he had finally admitted that he was truly happy ... for the first time since his parent's death, life was good.  He smiled more, laughed more, and was more relaxed with everyone.  He felt as if he had finally lost the decades worth of baggage that he had carried with him.

Protecting Jack, and their life together, was now Daniel's biggest priority.  Anything that could interfere with Jack's safety was of concern, and Daniel had been afraid that Sam's “news” might mean that Jack would make decisions or do things he wouldn't normally, putting himself in harm's way on missions.

Jack kissed Daniel's forehead, and then turned him so that both were facing Sam.  Jack's arm went tightly around Daniel's waist, keeping him as close to him as he could.  In response, Daniel moved his arm up to Jack's waist, and then he couldn't help himself ... he rested his head against Jack's shoulder for a few seconds as Jack did a loving squeeze.

Jack got it now.  They just needed to review to make sure everyone was on the same page, and then repair the leak in their SG-1 boat.

“Okay ... Carter ... this ... crush.  It's history?  Over?  Went with the wind, correct?”

“Yes, Sir.  A long time ago actually.”

“And why, Carter, do you think you suddenly had this ... realization?”

Sam sighed, “Because I think I'm finally realizing that I want more.  Colonel, SG-1 has been my family for the past seven years.  Dad and Mark ... I don't see them, not like I do all of you.  For a long time, the four of us ... well, we were like the Four Musketeers.  But now, well, Teal'c has Ishta and is off training when we aren't on missions, and the two of you ... are the two of you.  And the thing is, since the wedding, I've seen a glimpse of who the two of you really are.”

Sam held her hands in front of her, even with her waist, tapping them together with the tips of her fingers.  She turned around slowly to try and get her thoughts together.

“Sir.  Daniel.  At the wedding, one of the things you said was that even your closest friends really didn't know you because you weren't free to be yourselves around us.  I watched you two that day and you're right.  The men who pledged their love in front of all of us, they aren't the ones I know, not on a day to day basis.  But I want to know them, and I want to know what that kind of love is like.

“The two of you share something so wonderful, so real that it almost scares me, but in a good way.  Colonel, do you remember years ago when I told you that I had figured out about you and Daniel?”

“Of course, I do.”

“Sir, there was a moment at my house that I'll never forget.  Daniel, you were feeling bad about my telling you.”

“No, I felt bad that I was so weak that you had to tell me.”

“Danny, we talked about that.”

“I know.  I'm just keeping the record straight.”

“Okay, so, you felt bad, and Colonel, you reached across the sofa and took Daniel's hand, just trying to make him feel better.  You were a few feet apart, just holding hands, but staring into each other's eyes, and I'm not kidding, I shivered.  It was like an electrical spark igniting.  I was stunned because even though I knew about the two of you, I hadn't ... felt it, not like that.  And frankly, that's what the wedding was for me ... a giant electrical spark.  Your love is so strong and alive.  It makes me want to find that same feeling ... with someone.”

“But first you had to face your fears,” Daniel said softly, not looking at anyone.

“Yes, I think so.  My entire life I've concentrated on one thing -- my career.  In November, I finally started to understand that there was more to life than a career, and I think maybe I'd like to try and find it, if I can.”

“You aren't in love with him?”

“No, Daniel, and it wouldn't matter if I were, would it?”

“No, it wouldn't,” Daniel finally smiled as Jack again squeezed him gently for a second and also placed a kiss on his temple.

“Daniel, I wouldn't hurt you like that.  The game ... that's all it's ever been to me ... a game.  But in my subconscious mind, I played another game, too, one of deception, but the only one I was deceiving was myself.  Can you understand that?”

“I'm sorry, Sam.  I guess I didn't listen very well.  It's just ... I finally have everything I've wanted and ...,” Daniel paused and looked at Jack who smiled, “I'll move Heaven and Earth to hold on to it, and ... and to  protect it.”

“I'm the one who's sorry for not being strong enough to know my own mind and live my life full of courage, like you do.”

“I don't know that I'm ... courageous.”

“Yes, you are, and so are you, Colonel.  You are two of the bravest people I know, and I'm proud to know you, and even prouder to call you family.  And Daniel, what I said the other day ... you know, about the marriage?  That was just anger.  You know I didn't mean that.  Your wedding was the most beautiful, wonderful event I've ever witnessed.  It was sacred, Daniel.  And that is the truth!”

“Ah, Sam,” Daniel moved to his friend and held her, “Gawd, I'm sorry.”

“Me, too.”

“Okay, okay.  Love fest over.  Everyone okay now?” Jack pretended to bellow.

“No,” Daniel said, walking up to his husband and kissing him, “Thank you, Jack, for always knowing the right thing to do.”

“That's me, your personal Mr. Fix-It,” Jack grinned.  “When we get home, we're going to talk some more about those fears of yours.”

Daniel nodded, and then Jack looked at his 2IC again.

“Major, for the record, not that it needs to be said, but I'm going to say it anyway.  I love this looney tune of mine.  There's no one or nothing in creation that could get me away from him.  He's mine, and he's stuck with me.”

Jack looked back to Daniel, holding him again, gazing into his eyes, “You never need to worry.  We're forever, and tonight, we're going to start making our plans for the future, too.  We'll be okay.  I love you, Danny, only you.”

“I love you, too,” Daniel leaned in to Jack and they began to kiss.

Sam coughed, “You see ... that's what happened that night in my house.  You forgot I was there.”

Jack and Daniel laughed.

“It's easy to get lost in Daniel.”

“Jack, stop,” Daniel said softly.

“You're doing it again,” Sam said, seeing her two friends with their eyes glued to each other's.

“Sorry, Major,” Jack said with a smile.

“We good to go, SG-1?”

“Good to go, Sir.”

“Daniel?”

“Definitely.”

“Good.  So ... a little three-handed poker anyone?” Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a deck of cards.

“Jack, why don't we go to my office or somewhere?”

Jack coughed as he sat down on the table and began to shuffle the cards, “Because Siler won't be opening that door for another four hours.”

“FOUR HOURS?” Sam and Daniel both asked loudly at the same time.

“Who knew you two would make up so quickly?” Jack shrugged.  “You're both normally more ... stubborn.”

Daniel closed his eyes and shook his head.  Sam looked down, a smile of “Some things will never change“ on her face.  

“Poker?” Jack asked again.

Sam and Daniel exchanged a glance before going over to the table and sitting down.  As Jack shuffled and called out the rules, Sam and Daniel smiled at each other, happy to have their family whole again.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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