YENTA

Jamming his shoulders more firmly into the rock wall, Jack wrapped his arms around his midsection and pulled his knees to his body for warmth. Curled in on himself at Jack’s side, Daniel snored barely audibly, his full lips, gently parted in repose, once again a rosy pink.

Thankful that they at least had light, if not heat, Jack watched the opening of their cave for any sign of movement. He hoped that the next living thing he saw would be Carter or Teal’c. That would be the only way he’d know for sure they’d survived the flash flood that had plowed through their campsite earlier that morning, separating him from his teammates and his gear, including his tac vest and weapons. ‘Hell of a time to be taking a piss,’ he internally chastised himself.

Jack glanced down at the slumbering form of his archaeologist. At least Daniel was safe. After half a day of frantic worry, he’d encountered the younger man wandering god knew how far from their previous location. He was wet to the bone and so cold that his lips had taken on a bluish tint. He’d also acquired some cuts on his hands grasping at passing trees in a desperate attempt to keep from being cast too far afield, and a nasty scrape on his right cheek, but was, Jack was grateful to learn, otherwise no worse off for being swept away in the raging water.

With no equipment and the landscape now thoroughly unrecognizable, it was impossible to tell how far they’d been tossed downstream. The sun had finally come out late in the day, and they were able, at least, to determine in which direction they’d find the Stargate. But even as they made their slow, slogging way, the sun set, and Daniel began to flag. As the night air grew chillier, he started to shiver, the shuddering eventually reaching a point where Jack could detect the faint chatter of his teeth.

As though the two were on some sort of cosmic see-saw, this world’s insanely huge moon rose at almost the same rate the sun went down, illuminating the ruined landscape with a ghostly white light. Spying this wide crag in the surface of a nearby hillock, Jack had guided them over the fallen trees and flood debris, instructed Daniel to wait outside while he made sure the cave was unoccupied, and, bringing the younger man inside, had bedded his civilian down for the night. 

Jack's face contracted in a responsive wince. Bedded. That was an interesting choice of words, considering he’d told Daniel just a week ago, when the younger man had confessed an attraction for him, that he didn’t think he could ‘do it with a man.’ Not that Daniel was just any man. Daniel was beautiful, inside and out, with a brain as big as Einstein’s and a heart as big as Mother Teresa’s. There was no denying the attraction was mutual – and to his credit, Jack hadn’t denied it. But feeling something for a man, even one as incredible as Daniel, and doing something about it – well, those were two entirely different things.

Daniel had said he understood – of course he had – and assured Jack that nothing had to change between them. Immensely relieved at first, Jack had spent the last week wishing he hadn’t rejected Daniel’s proposition quite so quickly.

Drawing a deep breath, intending to let it out in a disappointed sigh at his spineless inaction, Jack instead exhaled a mighty gust, his nostrils twitching, his nose wrinkling in objection to the lingering musky odor deposited by whatever critter had formerly inhabited their little hideaway. The moon sent fingers of light into all but the deepest shadows of the small cave, and, upon inspection, Jack had found strands of long reddish hair of a course texture similar to a horse’s mane, snagged on the rough edges of the rock wall. It would have made a great accelerant for a cozy fire – had either of them had a lighter. There hadn’t been enough of the stuff to make a blanket, so he’d had to snuggle down close to Daniel to stay warm. Not the worst of fates, but it was a tad awkward given recent events.

Jack sighed again. Unwinding his arms, he brought a hand up to his face, pinching his nose against the stench. “Damn, I swear that smell is getting stronger,” he muttered into his palm.

While he held his breath, trying to keep the foul odor from creeping further into his sinuses, Jack’s black ops trained ears detected what experience interpreted as slow, shuffling footsteps a short distance from the cave entrance. Instantly, the hairs on the back of his neck came to attention.

“Shit.”

Scrambling, Jack hoisted himself to his feet and wrapped a hand around Daniel’s shoulder. “Daniel, wake up,” he hissed. “We’re about to have company.”

His left eye still tightly clenched, Daniel squinted lazily over his right shoulder, seemingly unalarmed to find his team leader squatting over him. His lips parted, the broad tip of a moist, pink tongue poking out to slowly swipe his bottom lip.

Jack silently cursed whoever or whatever was about to interrupt them. Daniel was superbly adorable when he was dragging himself to full consciousness. Watching him wake was one of Jack’s guilty pleasures, and something that he preferred not be hurried.

“Come on, Daniel,” he growled again, expelling a bit of his irritation in the command. “I need you awake. Now.” Keeping one eye on the doorway, Jack roughly jostled his sleepy archaeologist, until Daniel swung a clumsy hand at him.

“’m up, ’m up,” Daniel moaned, clearly unhappy to be so. Shoving against the packed dirt with his palms, he fell back against Jack’s side. “Is it Teal’c and Sam?” he asked around a yawn, struggling to get to his knees.

“Let’s hope so.” Standing, Jack twisted a fist in the collar of Daniel’s jacket and yanked, assisting Daniel’s attempt at getting upright. Propping the younger man against the rock wall, he scanned the area for a weapon. Diving for the floor, he came back up with two melon-sized rocks, shoving one into Daniel's side. “Here, take this, just in case.”

Blinking, Daniel grabbed at the rock, its bulk between his hands seeming to bring him to full life. “You think the owner of this cave has come back?” He shuffled his feet further apart, giving himself a wide base before he pushed off the wall with his elbow to stand tall next to Jack.

“Could be. On a day like this I would have expected to find him home already. Figures he's the type who prefers walks in the rain to cozying up by a warm fire.”

The shambling steps grew closer and Jack knew the second Daniel heard them, too. The archaeologist stiffened, moving instinctively closer to his companion.

The sour stench intensified and just when he thought that alone might do them in, a shadow crossed the cave entrance, plunging them into near darkness.

Ducking its head through the opening, a being not Teal’c or Sam, sporting a rust-colored fur overcoat, unfurled its stooped body, allowing the light to creep back in around it. At least a foot taller than Teal’c, and nearly twice as broad at the shoulders, the creature startled visibly, and gaped at them through wide-opened dark eyes. Its prominent nostrils dilated and lips pulled back to show an impressive collection of ragged teeth. Rather than charging them, the being stumbled back a step, huge head tipping one way then the other as it scrutinized the intruders. Hands, amazingly like their own, though with longer and much sharper fingernails, tugged against each other at the creature’s chest level, setting pendulous hairy tendrils swinging from the bulky forearms.

Jack hefted his rock, testing its weight in his hands. “I’m gonna maneuver it away from the entrance,” he whispered to Daniel. “When the way is clear, I want you to run like hell out of here. You got it?”

A soft gasp sounded just behind his left ear, sending a hideously inopportune jolt to his groin. “I’m not going to leave you to face this thing alone, Jack,” Daniel breathed against his neck.

Wanting to get Daniel to safety more than he’d wanted just about anything in his life, Jack shook off his discomfiture and, taking a small step closer to the younger man, snapped under his breath, “Just for once, do what I tell you, Daniel. Please.” He chanced taking his eye off the giant red threat just long enough to glance over his shoulder into pain-filled, reluctantly obedient blue eyes. Pulling a tight smile, Jack nodded his thanks and turned back to the furry barrier between them and their escape route.

He took a quick step forward, hoping the beast would be surprised into a backward shuffle, but instead, the creature matched his move, its giant stride bringing him within its reach. A furry arm shot out, wrapping itself around his midsection, capturing his arms and pinning them to his sides. The rock dropped harmlessly with a solid thud against the dirt floor.

“Jack!” Daniel’s frantic cry ricocheted around the cave.

“Daniel, get out now!” Jack ordered again. Swinging a foot, he connected with a muscular leg, the impact solid enough to jar his own. The beast pulled him closer and, as his neck moved towards those razor-like teeth, Jack silently prayed that Daniel had listened to him and made his getaway. That large, vaguely monkey-like snout burrowed against the side of his head and Jack struggled with all he had to break the thing’s hold before it buried those fangs in him.

Cringing against the expected pain of that first bite, Jack unclenched his face, his mouth dropping open in surprise, when the creature instead nuzzled his temple, its hot, dank breath puffing against his cheek. Tipping him slightly to his left, the beast rubbed its hairy cheek against the top of his head, shifting Jack around to get his jaw and neck in on the action.

“Jack?” Daniel’s quiet voice reached him through the fur.

Blowing some of the hair out of his eyes, Jack just caught a glimpse of his friend, still pressed against the rock wall, his own weapon on the ground at his feet. “Daniel, I told you to get out,” he growled automatically, terrified that Daniel’s life could still be in danger.

“I don’t think it’s gonna hurt us, Jack,” Daniel ventured. “It had the perfect opportunity to kill you, but it didn’t.”

“Yet,” Jack’s cynical persona added, not nearly as trusting as Daniel.

“No,” Daniel insisted a little more boldly, taking a small step closer. “If it was going to kill you, it would have already.”

While they argued the point, Jack’s captor continued to scrape its face and head against him. The critter’s pungent body odor wrapped around Jack, clinging to his clothing and hair as powerfully as the arm around his middle. On the verge of choking on the fumes, Jack coughed.

“Daniel, any clue what it’s doing?” he asked, hoping Daniel’s anthropological experience might include deciphering body language in animals.

“He fits the description of the Yeti on Earth,” Daniel suggested.

“What? Like Bigfoot?”

“Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, Chuchunaa in Russia, Sasquatch–”

“Daniel.”

Arresting his nervous litany, Daniel tendered a chagrined smirk. “Sorry. I’ve studied the myth, of course, but not in depth. This one’s not as tall as I would have expected, based on what I’ve read. Maybe he’s…” Lifting a curious brow, Daniel bent at the waist to peer beyond Jack’s flailing feet.

“Daniel!”

Daniel shot upright, his cheeks flaring hotly pink, and flailed a hand at the area just investigated. “Uh, yeah, it’s a he. Definitely, a… he. Um, he could be an adolescent. It probably wasn’t that long ago he was part of a clan or at least had a parent looking after him. Of course, none of the reported sightings give us any kind of clear idea about the Yeti’s family life–”

“Who cares what kind of family life he’s had? I’m not planning to adopt him. Though, I’m seriously concerned he’s thinking of keeping me,” Jack bleated as the monster began another cycle of rubbings.

“That looks like scent marking,” Daniel proposed. “Cats sometimes do it to their humans.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not exactly Old Spice he’s wearing, if you know what I mean.”

“It could be worse,” Daniel shrugged. “At least he’s not biting your head off. Animals scent mark to claim territory and strengthen kinship bonds. I think he likes you,” he concluded with a broad grin.

“Swell,” Jack grumped. "Can you help me here, please? Get old Yeti-boy to put me down?”

Daniel’s mouth snapped audibly shut. “Um,” he said after a moment, “any idea how I might do that? I’m not sure talking to him is gonna work.”

Jack groaned as the Yeti hugged him tighter. “Since when do you believe talking won’t work? You’re always yammering about how we shouldn’t just go in, guns blazing, until we try to communicate–”

“Well, that only works when the person… or creature, you’re trying to communicate with understands wha–”

Daniel’s passion carried him incautiously close and a long, fuzzy arm snaked out, capturing him around the waist and reeling him in against the Yeti’s chest. He’d managed to keep one arm free of the constraint, and he shoved it against the thing’s shoulder, trying to distance himself from that massive head. Undeterred, the creature began to rub itself against Daniel, covering his face with the furred cheek.

“Ugh, god,” Daniel sputtered when his face was finally exposed, “you weren’t kidding about the smell. It’s much worse up close.” Unwinding his fingers from the red tresses, he swiped his palm across his cheek, in the same movement righting his glasses, which the Yeti's caress had bumped askew.

The creature moved in for another round and Jack aimed his chin at Daniel’s face. “Why don’t you put those away before he knocks them off and steps on them?” he directed. 

Pushing against the hairy chest, attempting to avoid another scent bath, Daniel shot Jack a pained glance, and pulled the hand back, snatching off his glasses just as the giant mop of hair again covered his face.

Daniel sputtered and writhed in the thing’s hold. Managing finally to get his glasses in the outside pocket of his pant’s leg, he twisted to catch a clean breath. “Puh, this is worse than wet mastadge.”

“That camel thing on Abydos? How do you know what they smell like wet?”

“Skaara and I took one out exploring once and came across an oasis,” Daniel panted. “The mastadge decided he wanted a bath. We walked back home. Neither of us could bear to be that close to him.”

Remembering Daniel’s initial encounter with the Abydonian pack animal, Jack chortled, “I think this guy likes you almost as much as your first mastadge did.” All humor quickly fled as the creature again singled Jack out for attention.

Daniel chuffed a snicker of his own. “Looks like you’re still his favorite, though,” he laughed lightly as his friend nearly disappeared beneath the rusty tresses.

Squinting a sneer in Daniel’s direction, Jack growled a muffled, “Damn it. Now what do we do?”

Abruptly, the Yeti drew back. Straightening to his full height, he tossed his head back and emitted a series of guttural howls, the sound reverberating in his massive chest.

“Wow, you feel that?” Daniel asked, genuinely fascinated. Eyes wide in wonder, he flattened his palm against the creature’s sternum to maximize the experience.

“Yeah,” Jack said with exaggerated excitement. “It’s just like one of those cheap motel vibrating beds.” His snarky response had the desired effect as Daniel turned his focus from his tactile observations to his team leader. “What’s it mean?” Jack asked once he had Daniel back.

Daniel had to raise his voice to be heard over the bellowing creature. “I don’t know. It could be some sort of social vocalization – a call to gather the clan, maybe, or a mating cry.”

Jack’s face screwed up in distaste. “Oh, I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but I’m thinking the mating cry is the better option just now.”

“Probably wouldn’t be helpful to have a whole group of Yetis join us in this cave,” Daniel agreed soberly.

As quickly as they’d begun, the howls stopped. Adjusting his grip slightly, the Yeti hugged the men to him in the center of his chest. Pressing them together, he maneuvered them up and down, rubbing them firmly against one another.

“Whoa, what the hell is this, now?” Jack yelped, startled when Daniel’s shoulder glided upward along his ribcage.

“I have no idea,” Daniel confessed, equally alarmed. He tried moving his arm out of the way so that his elbow wouldn’t dig into Jack’s hipbone on the way back down, but the Yeti held him solidly in place.

After a few passes, the creature separated them, and, hoping it was distracted, Daniel flailed at the grip around his midsection, wrapping his hand around the first digit it encountered. He tugged for all he was worth, and squirmed, but succeeded only in shifting his position before the massive paw tightened.

“Uhn, I can’t get loose,” he reported with a snort of aggravation.

“It’s okay,” Jack soothed. “Guess we’re gonna have to just ride it out.” He sighed resignedly, grunting when their captor again crashed their bodies together.

Jack noticed two things when the Yeti once more rubbed Daniel against him. The first was that Daniel’s new position brought them pretty much face to face, the sharp angles of the archaeologist’s shoulder and elbow giving way to the smoother planes of his breastbone and tummy. The second was, he really, really liked this – and not just because his muscles were starting to complain about being jabbed with Daniel’s bony frame.

Against his better judgment, Jack closed his eyes and marveled at the diverse textures of Daniel’s physique, soft and supple in some places, unyieldingly firm in others. Silently reveling in the feel of Daniel’s chest snug against his, Jack leaned into the spot behind Daniel’s ear and took a discreet whiff. As overpowering as the Yeti’s scent was on his friend, still Jack detected a hint of the fragrance that was uniquely Daniel’s  – strong coffee, century’s old mildewy documents and the spicy body wash Fraiser had put in his stocking last Christmas.

Lost in his explorations, he barked a strangled cry when the Yeti’s manhandling caused his groin to clash violently with Daniel’s.

“Jack? You okay?” Daniel asked anxiously, clearly oblivious to Jack’s preoccupation.

“Yeah, fine,” Jack squeaked into Daniel’s shoulder. His breath caught in his throat as he realized his pants were a lot tighter than they’d been a minute ago.

“You’re sure?”

The Yeti moved them together again and Daniel’s concerned query ended in a stunned gasp.

Jack cringed, knowing from Daniel’s reaction that his friend had detected the change in his status.

“Jack?”

Face flaming, Jack pulled back, zeroing his gaze in on two large, round blue eyes. “Um,” he managed before the Yeti repeated the move. Eyes slamming shut, Jack wheezed out a pained groan.

Suddenly, Daniel was taken away, the loss as acute as if someone had hacked off a limb. His eyes flew open and immediately Jack was assailed by a sense of disorientation. Instinctively kicking out, his world turned nearly upside down as the creature awkwardly tucked him against his side. Recovering quickly, Jack noted that Daniel was in a similar position on the Yeti’s other side.

“What’s going on?” Jack rasped out, clutching a handful of hair as the beast began to move towards the rear of the cave.

“I don’t know,” Daniel whispered back. “Whatever that little ritual was, it appears its over.”

Reaching the spot where the men had settled earlier, the Yeti turned his back to the wall and carefully dropped to the dirt floor. Scooting forward, he reclined until just his head rested against the stone. Pulling a deep breath, the Yeti sighed with purpose and drew his arms together, dragging Jack and Daniel across his body until they lay in a tangled heap on his chest. He sighed again; his torso slumped in relaxation, but his grip remained firm. Almost immediately, the creature fell into an easy doze.

Arranged with his back against the creature’s chest, Jack writhed, hoping to loosen its hold. Hampered by the fact that Daniel had wound up nearly face down on top of him – the physical position more of a concern than Daniel's weight – Jack finally gave up with a groan of surrender.

“Looks like we’re down for the night,” he quipped without humor.

Lying snug against his side, a leg thrown over Jack’s thighs and his cheek nestled in the hollow beneath his friend’s collarbone, Daniel nodded faintly. “That’s my guess,” he concurred. He awkwardly waved his free arm just over Jack’s midsection, obviously unsure what to do with it.

“Its okay, Daniel,” Jack said quietly. “Put the arm around me and be done with it.”

Daniel let out a gushing breath and arranged his arm so that it rested across Jack’s chest, his palm cupping the opposite shoulder. “Is this okay?”

Jack flashed a crooked grin. “Actually, it’s kinda nice.”

Lifting his head as much as the Yeti’s hold on him comfortably allowed, Daniel quirked a surprised brow at Jack’s declaration.

Jack recognized the strain it was putting on the younger man’s neck to hold his head up, and jerked his chin downward, gesturing Daniel back onto his pillow. “We may as well get some sleep,” he suggested. “I think we’re safe here, for now.”

Daniel consented without argument and Jack smiled contentedly. Closing his eyes, he shifted a leg and was immediately reminded that the Yeti was not the only thing holding him in place. Unable to help himself, Jack concentrated on the contours of the undeniably masculine body lying so close to his, taking meticulous inventory of all the places he and Daniel touched. Survey complete, he concluded that he and Daniel fit very well together.

There were no soft rumbles which usually heralded Daniel’s passage into slumber, however; the younger man was so still that Jack wondered if his friend had indeed drifted off. Peeling open his right eye, he cocked his head slightly, trying to determine whether Daniel was asleep. That slight movement was enough to bring Daniel’s head up again, the muted moonlight emphasizing his anxious squint.

Jack stared back for a moment, basking in the concern – and, yes, love – that poured from those incredible eyes.

“I am such a fool, Daniel,” Jack announced sotto voce. Daniel merely blinked in response, so he pressed on. “I don’t know if it was my own fear, or the military mindset I adopted so many years ago…” Chuffing out a snort of disgust at his apparent need to prevaricate even now, Jack forced a heavy breath. “I was obviously wrong in thinking I couldn’t be aroused by you,” he admitted point blank.

Daniel ducked his head, but not before Jack spied a flash of teeth. Trusting he’d caught a pleased smile and not a grimace of regret, Jack pulled a satisfied grin of his own. “I’m not sure what it means; I can’t promise this will actually go anywhere, but I want to try.”

Lifting his face into view again, Daniel banked his elation somewhat and found Jack’s gaze, holding it steadily. “Well, we both know what happens when you want something.”

“Yeah,” the older man scoffed mildly, “you ignore my wish to get you the hell to safety and let the big stinky monster capture you too.” Daniel opened his mouth to protest, but Jack neatly parried the attempt. “This time, though,” he conceded with a wry grin, “I’m glad you ignored what I wanted.”

Daniel’s short bark of laughter or, perhaps the events occurring in his fuzzy head, caused the Yeti to twitch violently. The beast twisted, his right arm jerking towards his massive shoulders. The movement lifted Daniel a bit, depositing him more squarely on Jack’s chest.

Wincing as the weight on him increased, Jack felt his contracted features draw out and broaden into a grateful smile when his eyes lit on a set of full lips, pursed in consternation, hovering just over his own. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth – though use of that particular cliché usually made him cringe – Jack surged upward and captured that tempting mouth.

Unexpectedly, Daniel tensed, every lean muscle flexed as though preparing for flight. But in the span of a heartbeat, his body relaxed into the older man’s and Jack grinned around their kiss, quietly proud that the action had been so unpredictable as to stun his anthropologically astute friend.

Perhaps sensing the source of Jack’s smugness, Daniel pressed their mouths together with increased fervor, his mobile lips nipping expertly, seemingly intent on sculpting the other man’s mouth to a form more conducive to the on-going activity. Repaying Jack’s astonishing move with one of his own, Daniel parted his lips and, with that talented tongue, so adeptly employed for languages and lectures, took a swipe at Jack’s mouth, tapping against his teeth like a fleshy fist knocking at a door.

Seasoned soldier that he was, Jack refused to be caught off guard. Responding automatically to the request for entry, he widened the gap between his lips. As Daniel’s tongue slid over his teeth, Jack’s own tongue rose to meet it, making up for the fact that the men were presently incapable of much mobility by entwining itself with the caller in a steamy representative embrace.

Daniel moaned, the sound transmitted through their lip-lock to vibrate in Jack’s head. Something slithered along his neck and Jack remembered Daniel had an arm free just as Daniel’s hand cupped the back of his head, pulling him in even closer. Obviously well over the initial shock of his kiss, Daniel plied Jack with enthusiastic attention, lips and tongue gliding seductively over and through the older man’s mouth.

Cursing fate that it had apparently been far too long since anyone had given Daniel this kind of encouragement, Jack simultaneously sent out a silent thank you that he had been chosen for the honor of reacquainting his friend with the concept of genuine affection.

Enjoying himself immensely, Jack nevertheless reluctantly decided that, now that this connection had been made, it was far more important that they prepare themselves for an escape attempt in the morning.

‘Sometimes it sucks being the colonel,’ he concluded.

Turning his head just far enough to separate his mouth from Daniel’s, Jack garbled the younger man’s name. Digging his fingers into the back of Jack’s head, Daniel moaned again, harshly this time, a clear expression of frustration rather than contentment.

“Daniel,” Jack barked softly, no less commanding for the necessary lack of volume.

Lifting his head with an aggrieved grunt, Daniel knotted his brow in protest, his kiss-swollen lips jutting in a distinctly sultry pout.

Pacifying the sulk with a quick buss, Jack tendered a playful grin. “I would like nothing more than to spend the night playing tonsil hockey with you, but it seems apparent this guy isn’t going to let us go willingly.”

“He’s gotta put one of us down sometime,” Daniel argued, “to eat or… something.”

“Yeah, well, if that someone is me, I’m not going anywhere without you.” Jack asserted, earnest eyes emphasizing the avowal.

An acknowledging smile tipping up the corners of his mouth, Daniel agreed just as vehemently, “I’m not going without you, either.”

“Right.” Jack’s head bobbed in a firm nod. He never doubted that Daniel would refuse to leave him as well. “So, the best thing we can do right now is get some sleep. He’s not the most comfortable mattress – I think his collarbone is digging into my upper back – but, at least he’s warm.”

Daniel squirmed in the creature’s iron hold and managed to situate himself more snuggly on Jack’s chest. He put his head down on the older man’s shoulder, his brow nestled in the crook beneath Jack’s jaw. Pulling a large draft of air, he expelled a calming breath against Jack’s neck. “My bed is very comfy,” he sighed happily.

Discerning a stirring on the back of his neck, Jack realized that, though Daniel’s warm breath had sent a thrill through him, the sensation was actually Daniel’s hand, which the younger man had insinuated beneath Jack’s shoulder blades, protecting them from the Yeti’s prominent clavicle.

Jack canted his head slightly and peered into the small slice of Daniel’s face that was still within his field of vision. Finding the vibrant blue eye sealed behind its lid, the long lashes executing a tantalizingly little quiver, Jack let his head fall back with an exasperated thump, wishing he could kiss them into stillness.

“Good night, Jack.”

Because of his position, Daniel’s lips ghosted across Jack’s Adam’s apple as he spoke, and it took every ounce of discipline Jack possessed to suppress the resultant shudder of pleasure which, he feared, if he let it overtake him, would tear him limb from limb.

His bottom lip caught between his teeth, Jack grunted a soft reply. Shortly thereafter, the tuneful low growl of Daniel’s quiet snoring wafted against his neck before drifting into the night.

Sighing deeply, Jack relaxed into his furry bed and, the calming sounds of Daniel’s slumber lulling him, slipped into a restless sleep.

*****

“Colonel!”

Snapping out of a particularly gratifying dream, Jack yanked his eyes open. His military training taking over, he was immediately aware of his situation. Raising his head, he angled his ear to the break in the rock surrounding them, hoping, for a number of reasons, that Carter’s hail had not been just a feature of his nocturnal fantasy. Outside, the planet’s sun had reasserted itself. Clearly situated directly across from the cave’s entrance, it reached in to lighten even those corners the massive moon’s glow had been unable to illuminate the night before.

“Daniel Jackson!”

Above him, Daniel startled, Teal’c’s sonorous bass apparently reaching him through Morpheus’s mind-fogging influence.

“Daniel!” Jack called in a coarse whisper. “Come on, wake up.”

Silently, Daniel’s head popped up into Jack’s line of sight. Still clouded by drowsiness, the twin azure orbs cleared quickly, widening in recognition when they fell on Jack’s face.

The information delivered in a quiet rush, Jack reported, “Carter and Teal’c are outside.”

Automatically, Daniel’s head twisted, his taut features evidence that the move had been in vain. Jack shifted, making a show of looking around Daniel and the younger man laid his head back down.

Eyes fixed on the cave entrance, Jack asked from the side of his mouth, his tone low and hushed, “What do we do? Is Bigfoot gonna get pissed if we yell for them?”

“I have no idea how he might react.” Pulling away from Jack, Daniel snuck a peek at the furred face of their host. “But, he’s not shown any sign of aggression, just, uh, possessiveness.”

“Yeah, that’s what’s got me worried. How’s he gonna react when Teal’c and Carter come in here to rescue us?”

“O’Neill!” Teal’c’s deep voice again pierced the morning calm, though the resonant tones echoed at a noticeably lower volume.

“Shit,” Jack growled. “They’re moving away from us. We’re gonna have to chance it.” Drawing a lungful of air, giving no indication of the effort required to counter Daniel’s not inconsiderable weight, Jack let loose a full-throated yell. “Carter! Teal’c! Cave!”

Waking with a startled grunt, the Yeti lifted his head, his eyes training unfailingly on the cave entrance. Nostrils wide, the creature lurched to his feet, once again tucking his prizes against his sides as he rose.

As Daniel was ripped from him, Jack felt as though someone had taken a fist to his jaw, the sense of loss like a physical blow severe enough to fell him. It took him a moment to realize the impact had been actual, a telltale sting on his chin making itself known as a glance at Daniel revealed a pained expression and a palm pressed to his left brow.

“You okay?” Jack gasped anxiously, his alarm easing when the hand fell away, uncovering an intensely squinted eye topped by a prominent red mark.

“No permanent damage,” Daniel assured him. “I did discover, though, that that rock- solid, square-jawed thing you’ve got going isn’t just for show.” Digging the heel of his hand into his brow, he rubbed vigorously. “Any sign of Sam and Teal’c?”

The rustle of greenery and distinctive stomp of military footwear served as his answer.

“Sir?” Carter called as she rounded the opening. Weapon held self-assuredly before her, she froze, her feet firmly planted, as her CO and their archaeologist came into view. Entering behind her, Teal’c moved cautiously to the major’s right, lowering his staff weapon only to the point where the bulbous end would fire over the head of his teammates’ captor.

Shambling backward a step, the Yeti tightened his grip, squeezing the men against his chest.

Straining against the increased pressure, Daniel extended his free hand. “Don’t shoot,” he pleaded instinctively, waving them off. “He hasn’t done anything that can be considered hostile.”

Sam’s brows disappeared beneath her bangs. “Colonel?” she inquired, clearly not willing, in this case, to take direction from Daniel.

“Back off, Major,” Jack commanded, the directive loosing none of its authority for having been grunted at her. “Daniel’s right. Other than being a little too enthusiastic about our company, the big guy appears basically harmless.”

Lowering his staff without further prompt, Teal’c favored the creature with his Sphinx-like brand of scrutiny. “This creature appears more frightened than dangerous.”

“Right now, we think his biggest worry is that you guys are gonna try to take us away from him.”

“Has this being claimed you as prisoners, O’Neill?” Teal’c’s dark eyes narrowed minutely, his expressionless glare taking on an unfriendly bent.

“No. No, he just… he seems to… like us, is all.”

Mouth dropping open, Sam shared a faintly amused look with Teal’c before taking a small step in their direction. “He thinks of you as pets?”

“There’s no way to determine exactly how he views us,” Daniel clarified, derailing the thought when Jack raised a brow at him, “but the bottom line is, he doesn’t appear to be inclined to let us out of his sight. It’s like he’s a two-year-old and we’re some kind of fascinating treasure he’s picked up in his adventures.”

Blue eyes widening with apparent inspiration, Sam quirked a mysterious grin. “Maybe we can get him interested in another treasure,” she suggested. “If he really is like a child, then he might be willing to trade. All we need is something large and shiny that’ll captivate his attention.”

“Don’t suppose you’ve got a mirror ball in your pack,” Jack quipped sarcastically.

“No, sir,” Sam admitted, ignoring the bite of his comment, “but I might have something just as good. Teal’c, help me with this pack.” Turning her back to their Jaffa teammate, Sam waited until he’d unclipped the bag before spinning and, letting her weapon dangle from her vest, took it from him. “If you’ll remember, Colonel, when Teal’c and I came back to camp last night, I told you I’d found a crop of blue diamond-like rocks.” Suddenly her attention shifted to Daniel. “At first, I thought we’d encountered another colony of those crystalline beings, like we found on P3X-562, but there’s no detectable energy coming from these.”

“Carter.”

Shrugging an apology, Sam reached into her pack and extracted a large piece of blue rock inlaid with glass-like chips that caught the sunlight and tossed it in sparkling flecks across the cave walls.

Emitting an unmistakable ‘ooh’ of interest, the creature took a hesitant step forward.

“Hold it up so he can get a good look at it,” Jack suggested, coughing out a protest when the Yeti jerked him around in his excitement.

Clearly intrigued by the light show, the Yeti shambled forward a few steps, retreating a pace when Sam moved towards him. Finally, holding his ground, he bounced excitedly, oblivious to the discomfort such jarring was causing his passengers.

“Carter, will you just give it to him already?” Jack snapped irritably.

“Wait,” Daniel overrode the order. “Sam, you need to toss the crystal up, towards his face, so he has to use both hands to catch it.”

“Okay,” Sam acknowledged. “Are you ready?”

“Jack, you all right?” Daniel inquired breathlessly, patently concerned that the Yeti’s treatment was harming the older man. “You gonna be able to run?”

“Just get him to let us go and you’ll see how fast I can move,” Jack returned boldly.

Counting to three, Sam threw the crystal into the air, its high arc taking it above and just before the Yeti’s startled gaze. Loosing his grip on the men, the creature dropped them unceremoniously in the dirt. Sending out his long arms, the Yeti snatched at Sam’s gleaming gift, and, wrapping his huge paws around it, tugged it down to his chest.

Taking no time to appreciate the intricacies of the operation, Jack and Daniel scrambled forward the moment they hit the ground. Scuttling on all fours to their teammates, who stepped forward to assist them to their feet, they ran as fast as their abused muscles would carry them, until the sight of the cave had been lost with distance.

Calling the mad dash to a stumbling halt, Jack bent over, planting his hands on his knees to support his upper body. “How you doing, Daniel” he gasped over his shoulder.

Dropping to the ground, Daniel flapped a weary hand. “Just gimme a minute to catch my breath and I’m good to go.”

“Sure,” Jack agreed. “Teal’c, how about you take point. Carter, you can cover our six–”

“Sir!” Sam leapt on his orders, apprehension bugging her features. “If it’s all the same to you, Colonel, I’d rather not walk down wind of you.” Her distress turned to embarrassment in the face of his ill-humored glare. “I didn’t want to say anything in the cave, sir, but that thing was really rank and you and Daniel did spend the night with it…” Clearly figuring she could only dig herself deeper in the hole she’d stepped into, Sam snapped her mouth shut.

Casting a glance at Teal’c, whose slightly wrinkled nose confirmed Carter’s assessment, Jack offered Daniel a hand up and, once he had his linguist on his feet again, extended the hand to Carter.

“Fine. Gimme your weapon and Daniel and I will take up the rear. You can walk up there with Teal’c.”

Flashing an apologetic grimace, Sam unclipped her P-90, handed it over, and quickly moved to the Jaffa’s side. Spinning back in the direction they had been headed, the two of them set a constant but easy march back to the gate.

*****

At Hammond’s insistence, Jack and Daniel took a long, hot shower and, after a cursory medical exam, they appeared in the briefing room, damp and tired, to relate their tale to an openly amused base commander.

Released from duty for a few days, Jack took Daniel back to his place. Snuggled together on the couch, they wasted no time picking up where they’d left off the night before.  Treating Daniel’s nubile lips to a thorough ravishing, Jack leaned back and smiled into appreciative blue eyes. “You know, I think maybe I can do this relationship thing after all.”

Chuffing a small laugh, Daniel grinned. “And all it took to get us together was a little overzealous attention from an alien Bigfoot.”

“Yeah,” Jack concurred, an impish gleam flaring in his dark eyes. “Who’da guessed the Yeti would become our Yenta?”

 

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