FRIENDLY REMINDER
By Carlyn

 

“Son of a bitch,” Jack O’Neill swore under his breath.

Following silently as they made their way down the hall from the briefing room, Teal’c increased the length of his measured steps to keep up with O’Neill, whose irritation caused him to walk faster than normal.

Stopping at the elevator, O’Neill viciously swiped his card through the secure reader. Unruffled, Teal’c narrowed his eyes and looked away in the equivalent of a Jaffa eye roll.

O’Neill pushed his way into the car before the doors were fully opened, punching the button for his floor with far more force than was necessary.

“Jack!”

As Teal’c entered the elevator, he paused to watch an obviously disturbed DanielJackson barreling down the hall towards them. The Jaffa was momentarily unblanced when O’Neill reached out and grabbed the front of his T-shirt, yanking the former first prime into the elevator behind him.

“Jack, wait!”

Skidding to a halt in front of the elevators doors, Daniel caught just a glimpse of Jack’s dark glower as the doors closed between them. He slapped the elevator with the palm of his hand. “Damn it!” Balling the hand into a fist, he swung it impotently at his side.

Spinning on his heel to return to the briefing room, Daniel nearly trampled on Samantha Carter, who had come up beside him. He reached out awkwardly to stead her, mumbling an apology.

“Daniel, are you all right?” Sam gazed steadily into blue eyes that refused to make contact.

“No.” Folding his arms across his chest, Daniel lowered his head. “Look, Sam I’m sorry. I know I said I’d go to the commissary with you for coffee, but I’m not very good company right now.” He glanced up, grinning apologetically, then jammed his hands in his pockets, and walked off.

Eyeing the retreating back, a mixture of sadness and anger marring her features, Sam muttered an unladylike expletive.

Falling heavily with her back against the wall, Sam slapped the concrete in frustration, and tried to puzzle out her friends’ behavior.

‘General Hammond had to have notice the increased tension. The colonel and Daniel glared daggers at each other the whole briefing.’ Sam sighed, and closed her eyes wearily. ‘It’s not like it’s the first time, either. This strain between them began months ago, on Euronda. I don’t know why the colonel had to make it personal. That whole incident could have ended them... before I even realized they were a couple.’ Allowing herself a small smile at her memory of that little discovery, Sam remembered also that the news had been very welcome considering the circumstances.

‘Damn Anise and her damn Atoneek armbands. The colonel and I both expressed sentiments that neither of us felt.’ Sam paused, pulling a face. ‘Okay, maybe we do care about each other, but as teammates, not ...’ Sam shuddered, unable to even bring herself to think the word. ‘He would never have expressed himself so badly if he hadn’t been on a hormone-driven high. It took a lot of talking out, but I’m glad we were able to finally give a name to our feelings: Mutual respect and affinity... not love.’ Sam nodded sharply, reaffirming theconclusion they had reached following their acquittal of the charge that they were Zatarcs.

Her satisfaction was short-lived. Slumping miserably against the wall, Sam frowned thoughtfully. ‘Poor Daniel. How it must have hurt him to learn what happened on Apophis’s ship. But I’m glad I just dropped over to the colonel’s unannounced that morning. If I hadn’t overheard their conversation, I might never have learned that the colonel and Daniel are in love.’  The warmth the thought infused in her heart was advertised by the flushed pink glow of her cheeks. ‘Sure it was awkward for me when the colonel caught me lurking in the bushes – and I’m sure for them as well – but the important thing is the three of us were able to talk that whole incident through. I couldn’t bear it if my relationship with either of them was damaged because of a simple misunderstanding.’

Sam’s features twisted into a scowl. ‘Like what happened during those time loops’. Sam shook her head angrily, peeved at what could only be called stupidity on the colonel’s part. ‘He kissed me out of sheer boredom. A confession like that might have hurt my feelings – if I wasn’t so damned relieved to hear it.’ Sam frowned sadly. ‘Unfortunately, Daniel was not so easily mollified.’ Another thought occurred, lifting the corners of her lips in a devilish grin. ‘Wish I could have been there when the colonel did his penance for that one.’

A reminder of her surroundings, in the form of Majors Smith and O’Bryan, who eyed her curiously as they approached, instantly squelched Sam’s amusement. Nodding curtly, she stared the officers down, challenging them to comment on her apparent idleness. Watching after them as they passed, picking up the pace when she skewered them with her unfriendly glare, Sam resumed her musings.

‘Where was I? Right, the colonel’s penance.’ Sam blew out a frustrated breath. ‘You would have thought, after Daniel gave him the silent treatment for a week that the colonel would have learned his lesson about taking his archeologist for granted. But no, apparently the man is vying for the world’s record in bullheadedness. 

‘I understand the colonel’s irritation at Daniel. If Daniel hadn’t reached Lotan before that naquadah bomb exploded... he would be dead.  And no matter how right the colonel felt his actions were he would never have forgiven himself for killing Daniel.’

Her vision blurred slightly as angry tears welled up. ‘Daniel may have returned from the Lotan’s ship unscathed. But unless Teal’c and I can knock a little sense into them, Daniel and the colonel could still be terribly hurt by the fallout of this mission.’

Inhaling deeply, Sam straightened determinedly, quickly rubbed her fingers under her eyes, and went is search of Daniel.

*****

The elevator ride and subsequent stalk to the gym had been filled with silence. When O’Neill suggested exercise to ‘work off his anger,’ Teal’c had readily agreed.

As he followed O’Neill into the weight room, Teal’c cast an irritated eye in the direction of the two members of SG-5 and a civilian scientist who were in the room. Stepping away from his commander, Teal’c surreptitiously asked the men to give them some privacy. When Major Clarke protested, Teal’c glared at all three, his lips turning up in a slight self-satisfied smile, when the men fled the room.

Turning back to O’Neill, Teal’c was not surprised to find his team leader was oblivious to his actions. Considering his next move, he walked over to the selection of dumbbells and, choosing the heaviest available pair, went back and stood close to the weight bench that O’Neill was seated on.

As he began his workout, Teal’c let his thoughts wander, cognizant, even in that seemingly inattentive state, of O’Neill’s movements.

‘For as long as I have known them, O’Neill and Daniel Jackson have bickered like women, though Major Carter assures me that, given the diverseness of their backgrounds and philosophical beliefs, it is not unexpected that they should clash on a regular basis. It seems lately, however, that they are fighting incessantly. Their current disagreement over Daniel Jackson’s interpretation of O’Neill’s directive to give him another option in dealing with the Enkaran/Gadmeer conflict is but the latest.’ 

The dumbbells in his hands bobbed in and out of his peripheral vision, yet the slow, measured movement of his arms as he hefted them barely registered in Teal’c’s consciousness. ‘I still do not understand how O’Neill could have been unaware of his feelings for Daniel Jackson. The change in O’Neill’s demeanor as he observed Daniel Jackson in the days immediately following our friend’s emergency appendectomy was as evident as a flame in pitch darkness. The initial fear was to be expected. However, when O’Neill’s aspect began fluctuating between longing and regret, it was my duty to make O’Neill aware of this transition and offer my theory concerning its cause. It is fortunate that O’Neill had been drinking so heavily at the time, otherwise I do not believe he would have, as I have heard it described, spilled his guts.

‘As surprised as I was that O’Neill heeded my advice to confess his feelings to Daniel Jackson, considering his military’s restriction against such a union, I cannot say that I was surprised to learn that Daniel Jackson feels the same for O’Neill.

‘They have admitted that they are in love, yet they so often act as though it is not true.  I do not understand.’ The dumbbells ceased their bobbing. ‘And now their behavior is threatening to end a relationship that has yet to truly begin. True love is such a rare gift – again it falls to me to make them aware.’

Teal’c came out of his musings and set his dumbbells down on the floor just as O’Neill reclined on the weight bench. Stepping to the head of the bench, Teal’c looked down into his team leader’s eyes. “Would you like me to spot you, O’Neill?”

Jack looked up, seemingly startled at Teal’c’s presence. “Yeah, thanks, T,” he said distractedly, lying under the barbell which was already resting in the uprights.

Teal’c’s brows rose in alarm at the way O’Neill snatched the bar and lowered it shakily to his chest. ‘O’Neill’s vexation with Daniel Jackson, combined with his distractedness, will cause him harm.’ When O’Neill lifted the bar, Teal’c placed his hands next to O’Neill’s and held the bar aloft.

“T, I need to do a couple more reps, big guy.”

“I do not think that advisable, O’Neill. Not in your current state of mind.”

O’Neill let go of the bar, trusting Teal’c to hold it, and sat up. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Teal’c placed the barbell back in its resting place. “Your mind is not on what you are doing, O’Neill. I cannot allow you to lift weights under such circumstances. It is not safe.” Undeterred by Jack’s dangerous glare, Teal’c offered a solution. “Perhaps if you were to discuss what it is that bothers you, O’Neill, you would clear your mind enough to continue.”

Jack sneered. “What, no Kel’No’Reem?”

“I do not believe that particular activity would be beneficial in this case. However, talking might help.” Teal’c’s expression was maddeningly bland.

Scrutinizing his Jaffa friend for a moment, Jack finally jumped from the bench. “The man is impossible! He knows we’re gonna blow up the ship and he makes a beeline for it.” Agitated pacing pronounced the rant. “To talk to the robot for crying out loud! Get him to see the Enkarans’ point of view. Make him ‘sympathetic to their plight.’” Jack’s fingers drew quotes marks around the words as they left his lips.

“Daniel Jackson was successful in his endeavor, O’Neill.”

The pacing faltered, and Jack turned disturbed eyes on Teal’c. “Yeah, but what if he wasn’t? He could have gotten himself killed.” Jack whirled and paced some more. “He’s gotta stop going off thinking outside the box all the time. Learn to accept orders to the letter and not the spirit.”

“You have often spoken of Daniel Jackson’s ability to find imaginative solutions as a positive trait. Do you no longer believe this to be true, O’Neill?”

The matter-of-fact manner of the question stopped Jack in his tracks. Gaping at Teal’c a second as the words registered, Jack shook his head emphatically

“No. No.” Returning to the bench, he sat heavily. “Daniel has a brilliant mind. And his ability to think laterally has saved our asses more times than I can count.” Jack leaned over and scrubbed roughly at his hair. “But sometimes he gets all fired up, and then he latches onto a viewpoint, and he’s like a pit bull refusing to let the thing go no matter how contrary his opinion is to everyone else’s.”

“Was it not Daniel Jackson’s passion which first attracted you to him?”

Jack looked up, discomfited by the quiet confidence with which Teal’c asked such a personal question. He glanced around the room to assure himself that no one else was around.

“Actually, no...” He cocked his head in thought. “Well, yeah, but... it was more than... it was the whole...”

“You are babbling, O’Neill.”

Jack took his head in his hands. “I know. This is what he does to me.”

“Perhaps you should consider why it is that Daniel Jackson affects you so profoundly.” Teal’c’s voice had taken on that low, ominous quality which usually suggested to the hearer that he’d be wise to follow Teal’c’s suggestion. 

As O’Neill looked up, his mouth wide open in astonishment, Teal’c glared down at him, his eyebrow cocked in that ‘I’m not kidding’ manner.

“I will wait for you outside.” Teal’c dipped his head in O’Neill’s direction and walked slowly to the exit, stopping just outside the door to prevent others from entering.

Jack watched Teal’c walk away with a mixture of irritation and awe. Teal’c had just given him an order equivalent to the one scolding parents often gave their recalcitrant children -‘Sit there and think about what you’ve done.’

Jack rubbed his hands over his face then scrubbed them roughly across his scalp. ‘Consider Daniel’s effect on me he says.’

“He makes me fucking crazy,” Jack concluded.

‘Yeah, but why?’ his inner voice asked. Jack wanted to tell the voice to shut the hell up, but it appeared that the voice was in cahoots with Teal’c and, while he could beat his voice back easily enough, a perturbed Jaffa was another matter altogether. Under protest, spoken only to the voice in his head, Jack mused as ordered.

‘Teal’c was right about one thing - Daniel’s lateral thinking is a godsend. Who else would have thought to argue with Lotan that his mission to protect the Gadmeer included protecting their honor? Only Daniel could have made the Gadmeer messenger see such a divergent viewpoint.’

Jack huffed out a small laugh. “Probably talked at him until he gave in.”

‘Daniel’s solution to everything is talking, his mouth constantly going, spewing words so eloquently and at such a pace that the listener is probably dazzled more by the presentation than the words themselves. It’s how I often feel when Daniel assails me with one of his incredible theories.’

Closing his eyes, Jack could see those lips moving now, ‘...gracefully enunciating every syllable, tongue protruding occasionally to anoint their passage, that quick timid smile offered to emphasize a point.’

Jack flinched instinctively as Daniel’s equally articulate hands moved into his mental image. ‘Daniel speaks volumes with those hands of his, using them so effectively to convey his emotional message – flailing in frustration or clenched tightly in anger.’ Jack touched the outer part of his chin. ‘Or moving ever so lightly along my jaw line preceding those incredibly mobile lips which frequently follow close behind.’  Jack’s head tipped back, allowing his phantom lover access to his neck.

His eyes flying open, Jack quickly scanned the room, fearful that someone had slipped in while he was lost in thought. The door opened, and Teal’c looked in.

“Ah,” Jack wagged his fingers at the Jaffa who simply nodded and closed the door again. Teal’c was standing guard – to keep others out or to keep him in? ‘Probably both.’

More comfortable now that he knew he’d be undisturbed, Jack settled back on the weight bench and closed his eyes to continue his musings.

‘Teal’c spoke of Daniel’s passion.’ Jack’s lips automatically turned up at the corners. ‘I don’t know anyone – women included, as sexist as that sounds – who gets as worked up as Daniel does about everything. The man gets downright giddy over extra fine point markers, for crying out loud.’ Jack shook his head at the memory.

‘I sort of understand Daniel’s enthusiasm for meeting people of a previously unknown culture. But he’s equally excited by the prospect of spending an evening pouring through the time worn pages of some dusty old tome.’ Jack’s mouth quirked into a rakish smile. ‘Or running his hands over the time worn body of a dusty old Colonel.

‘Passion. Yeah, I’m particularly enamored of Daniel’s passion – which Daniel best expresses in his eyes: it shows in the way his eyes gleam in the first stages of a discovery; or the way they spark blue fire when he vehemently defends his convictions in the face of armed military opposition.

‘But I especially like the way Daniel’s eyes convey that other kind of passion – heavy-lidded, thin border of blue surrounding a lust-dilated pupil, focused entirely on me.

‘Oh yeah. I love Daniel’s passion.’

Jack sat up abruptly, blinking rapidly. Rising from the bench, he walked quickly to the exit, passing Teal’c without a glance.

Teal’c watched him go, his lips raised in a self-satisfied grin.

*****

Expecting to find Daniel ranting in his office, Sam was not surprised to hear her friend’s voice as she approached. She leaned against the doorframe and poked her head inside.

“Daniel?”

Stopping mid-pace, Daniel glared at the door. “I told you, Sam, I’m not the best person to be around right now.”

Sam stepped fully into the room. “Daniel, I know you’re angry.”

“Angry? No, angry doesn’t begin to cover it,” Daniel replied, raising his left hand, index finger standing in admonishment.

“I understand. The colonel could have been a little more diplomatic ...”

Whirling in her direction, Daniel stomped his foot, on the verge of a genuine hissy fit. “I’m an adult, damn it. The way he described what happened you’d think I was an errant 2-year-old who wandered off in the mall.”

Sam grimaced in sympathy. “I’m sure General Hammond knew the Colonel’s version of events was hyperbolical.”

Narrowing his eyes, Daniel glared at her. “Not the point,” he snapped.

Unable to bear the sorrow it caused her, Sam looked away from the hurt and embarrassment in her friend’s eyes. “Right, sorry.”

Daniel sighed, his anger tempered by her unwarranted contriteness. “No, I’m sorry Sam.” Shrugging, he laughed humorlessly. “I did warn you not to come in here,” he said, slumping heavily into his chair.

Sam smiled and walked over to place her hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Can I just make an observation?”

Leaning back in the chair to meet her eyes, Daniel shook his head and raised his hands in a ‘why not’ gesture.

“Okay.” Sam crossed the room and spun on her toes, adopting the same enthusiastic teacher stance she used to irritate the colonel during their briefings.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you once tell me that the colonel’s persistence in ensuring the safety and well being of those under his command was one of the things you admire most about him?”

Daniel scowled at her suspiciously, his bottom lip poking out slightly. “Maybe.”

Raising her eyebrows, Sam tipped her head slightly. “So?”

Daniel shot out of the chair to begin pacing again.

“He treats me like a child... always hovering over me, dragging me off to lunch in the middle of a translation, sometimes literally dragging...” Daniel’s hands danced furiously, punctuating his argument with quick jabs of his long fingers.

“Or how about on missions, huh?”  Stopping his pacing, Daniel stood at attention and tapped his watch a lá O’Neill. “‘Time to go to bed, Daniel.’”

Sam lowered her head to hide her grin. When she glanced up, she found Daniel had sat down again, apparently worn out from his tirade.

Stepping over and leaning her backside against Daniel’s desk, Sam reached down and took one of Daniel’s hands in both of hers. “That’s all part of keeping you well.” Sam shrugged when Daniel looked up at her wearily. “Admittedly, he’s a little overzealous at times...”

“A little?” Daniel rubbed his temple with his free hand, massaging the ache that had settled there during the briefing and still refused to be evicted.

“Okay, a lot,” Sam conceded, “But, Daniel, you know it’s because he cares.” Shifting uncomfortably, Sam smiled apologetically, her eyes skirting over his as though unsure whether contact would be welcome. “And because that’s what you need.”

When Daniel looked sharply at her, Sam shrugged again. “Well, you do tend to get caught up in things, lose track of time...”

Daniel’s gaze softened gradually as he slowly accepted the truth of her words. Slumping in his chair, he snarled disagreeably, “Well he doesn’t have to get so damn much pleasure out of it.”

“Out of what? Taking care of you?”

Daniel blinked at the blatant astonishment in Sam’s tone, the sincerity of her belief in Jack’s altruistic motives clearly evident in the openness of her gaze.

As he considered Sam’s expression of faith in the purity of Jack’s motives, Daniel’s eyes began to take on a faraway aspect. ‘Maybe I’ve been misreading things...’

Recognizing that vacant stare, Sam smiled - Daniel was looking inward, like any good scientist, weighing her words carefully against the facts in evidence, testing the strength of her theory.

“Why don’t I leave you alone for awhile,” Sam said softly. “Think about what I said.” Receiving a nod in response, Sam gently squeezed Daniel’s hand and left him to his deliberations.

‘Think about what I said...’ Sam’s parting words echoed in Daniel’s mind. Always ready to consider another’s viewpoint, Daniel settled back, fingers absently rubbing his bottom lip, and pondered Sam’s take on Jack’s behavior. ‘Jack is taking care of me.

‘Okay, I suppose it is possible that what appears to me, on the receiving end, to be bullying, could, to someone else who knows Jack, be seen as caring.’ Closing his eyes, Daniel envisioned Jack in full-out Colonel mode – shouting orders, glaring darkly – and smirked. ‘Many a raw recruit has wilted under that harsh piercing gaze.’

Looking deeper, Daniel started slightly when he encountered more in that unyielding stare – concern. Daniel’s surprised eyes flittered open. ‘Huh. Apparently, even the stiff military commander persona has a soft side. I never realized.’

“I guess I just needed someone to point it out to me.”

Daniel’s eyelids slid lazily down, and he experienced a transfusion of warmth as he dwelled on Jack’s eyes – ‘those fathomless chocolate-colored orbs, so dark and penetrating. I’d swear sometimes they can see right through to my core, so deeply it seems he’s looking into my soul.’ 

Daniel shuddered with pleasure. Having been on the receiving end of that look, the memory brought forth the same pleasurable sensations he’d experienced before. Pulling back mentally, Daniel smiled at the distinguished crinkles in the outside corners of Jack’s eyes. ‘Those laugh lines appear every time he smiles.

‘God, that smile... that mouth. Jack’s lips are a little on the thin side, but he uses them to full advantage, expressing displeasure or delight equally as well with just a quirk of his tightly drawn mouth.’

Daniel’s breath caught in his throat as he expanded his musings to the other things Jack could do with that mouth. 

In his mind, Daniel reached up to stroke a finger over Jack’s lips. A strong hand enclosed his and pulled it away. Daniel’s gaze fell upon the hand – so well known to him. ‘That hand and its twin have held me up, steady and secure, as I made my way, limping, back to the Stargate after some offworld mishap, then, with gentleness and consideration for my discomfort, safely lowered me to the couch where I could rest.

‘Such powerful, manly hands, capable also of such tenderness, caressing me lovingly, with such care...’ 

Daniel swallowed hard, but the lump in his throat refused to descend. Propelling himself out of his chair, he ran out of his office to the elevator down the hall.

Watching Daniel’s office from around the corner, out of sight of its occupant, Sam smiled contentedly as Daniel darted from the room and raced past her. Humming happily, she turned and headed back to her lab. Her work here was done.

*****

Waiting impatiently for the elevator, Jack fidgeted with his shirt tail. When the elevator doors finally opened, he turned, coming face to face with Daniel, who had just lifted his head from his contemplation of the elevator’s floor.

As their eyes met, they stood, frozen, until the doors started to close again. From inside the car, Daniel reached out to block the door with his hand at the same time Jack caught it from the hallway. They ended up hand in hand, leaning close, each feeling the other’s breath on his cheek. Glancing up together, they gazed into each other’s eyes briefly before Jack hopped into the elevator with Daniel.

“We need to talk,” they said together as soon as the doors were closed, both grinning at the rightness of it.

 “Dinner?” Jack ventured.

“You’re buying?” Daniel’s bottom lip disappeared between his nervously chewing teeth.

“Sure.” Turning to punch the button for Level 25 and their locker room, Jack forcefully exhaled a silent breath.

As the elevator descended, Jack made a mental note to take Teal’c to dinner some time soon, unaware that Daniel was having similar thoughts about Sam.

It was the least they could do to thank their teammates for the friendly reminder of what was really important.

 

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