"Hey Jack! Wait up!" Daniel called loudly down the hall. Good timing had made him catch a glimpse of the older man as he shuffled past Daniel's office. SG1 had been off for almost two weeks to prepare for the annual fitness and training tests and Jack was bored. Fortunately so for Daniel, who was more than a little nervous about the tests next week, even though Sam emphatically assured him he wouldn't have a problem this year. He still hadn't figured out what she meant by that.
"Daniel? Whatcha want?" Jack said easily, turning his whole body to greet Daniel as he trotted toward him.
"Well, to be honest, I'm slightly concerned about next week's tests. I was kind of hoping you wouldn't mind giving me a quick refresher later on? Maybe a little hand to hand, since that seems to be my greatest weakness," Daniel explained quickly. "I'd ask Teal'c, but, well...I think it goes without saying we'd be a more even match-up."
"Hmmm, ya think?" Jack drawled. "I'd be willing to bet I can take you out in under ten minutes."
Daniel's hackles raised. Jack might just as well have called him a wimp! Damnit, Daniel suddenly wanted to make Jack eat that grin. "Ten minutes?" he indignantly retorted. "Give me a little credit, Jack. No, actually, give me a lot of credit! I could take you down in under ten minutes...maybe even under five!"
"You're on, bookboy! Meet you in the gym in half an hour," Jack laughed.
Daniel stalked back to his office and slammed the door. Jack was just trying to ruffle his feathers and it was working all too well. Damn that man anyway. How did he always manage to do that? Not this time. Daniel wouldn't let Jack's overconfidence cause him to doubt his own skills. Sam thought he would be all right this year, so why shouldn't he take her word for it?
God, had he really said less than five minutes? What an idiot.
Jack tightened his shoelaces. What had he got himself into? Daniel had no idea he'd thrown his back out this morning, but he'd sure as hell find out the instant they started grappling. Why, why, why did Jack always shove his foot down his throat? The words just flew out when it came to Daniel. What was it about that kid that made Jack want to act like a child? Want to? It was pretty well confirmed Jack's adolescent tendencies were brought to the surface.
Now he was in it, but good. He had ten minutes to get rid of the stiffest back he'd ever suffered from. Jack laughed derisively. Right. No, he'd have to think of another way out of this. Jack was pretty sure he could last five minutes. It really wasn't that long.
Jack slowly straightened up, unable to prevent the hiss of pain and his hands from clasping desperately at his back. Five minutes. He could do that.
"O'Neill, are you unwell?"
Fantastic. Teal'c had impeccable timing as usual. Jack wiped his face clean and dropped his hands instantly. No way could he let it get out he was less than par. Daniel would certainly find out.
"Oh, hi Teal'c. Unwell? I don't know what would give you that idea. In fact, I'm just on my way for a little one on one with Daniel. Does that sound like something an unwell person would do?"
Good. Don't lay it on too thick, O'Neill. Crap. Jack wanted to kick himself. He would if it wouldn't cause his back even more agony.
"It does not," Teal'c agreed calmly and raised his right eyebrow.
Damn. The cat was so out of the bag. At least Teal'c didn't have a big mouth like...
"Hey, Jack. I couldn't help but overhear. You and Daniel doing hand to hand?"
Ferretti. Shit.
"Yeah, he asked me to help him get ready for the testing. I took pity on the kid," Jack said nonchalantly.
That was good. Played it down as much as he already talked it up with Teal'c.
"Have you actually looked at Daniel lately, Jack? He's not bad. He might give you more trouble than you'd think," Ferretti commented.
"Are you kidding? I'll take him."
Jack's mouth cursed him again. What was wrong with him?
"I'm sure you will, Jack."
Jack couldn't tell if Ferretti was being facetious or not. Damnit. Why couldn't he just keep his goddamn mouth shut? Ferretti smirked at him and left the locker room as if he was on a mission. Jack rubbed his face and sighed, forgetting Teal'c still stood with him. Well, the Jaffa already knew he was bluffing big time, what difference did it make?
Jack groaned, suddenly realizing something. Ferretti had a well know penchant for gambling. No doubt he was already spreading the word on this prime opportunity for a little sport. Jack was so scre...wait a minute!
Inspiration struck just when things looked their grimmest.
Daniel walked into the gym, mildly surprised at the number of people working out. Apparently he wasn't the only one concerned. It was pretty odd to see more than two or three people in the room at one time. He glanced around self-consciously. As if it wasn't bad enough he was going to get humiliated by Jack, now he'd have to endure it under the scrutiny of an audience.
He sighed and crossed the room to the mats, where Jack stood at the ready. Jack bounced from foot to foot, rotating his arms flamboyantly. Daniel cursed under his breath. Jack was up to something, he just knew it. Cocky son of a-
"Daniel Jackson."
Teal'c's booming voice stopped him and he pivoted toward his large friend. "Teal'c?"
"Daniel Jackson, I must make you aware of something. Please accompany me into the hallway."
Daniel was perplexed. What was this all about? His suspicions raised even further when Teal'c motioned for Sam to join them.
Jack let go his act the instant Daniel's back turned. Damn, the drugs Doc Fraiser had given him were not working. His back was one enflamed mass of tenderness. Of even more concern to him was Teal'c. His Jaffa friend wouldn't rat him out, would he? Jack grimaced. Dang skippy he would. If Teal'c was concerned at all, he'd feel it his responsibility.
His teammates reentered the gym after a few minutes. Daniel's shoulders slumped dejectedly and his head hung low. Jack grinned. Maybe Teal'c hadn't ruined anything for him after all. Carter's involvement was still puzzling and Jack watched her inconspicuously walk over to Ferretti.
"Ready, Jack?" Daniel asked in a subdued voice as he stepped onto the mat.
Jack wanted to laugh. His plan might just work after all. A tremendously painful back spasm rippled through him, and he tried not to let it show. He couldn't let anyone think he wouldn't win this.
"As I'll ever be. Ready to go down?" Jack taunted. Five minutes. He could do it.
"'Bout as ready as you are, Jack," Daniel whispered and winked at him.
What the?? Jack gaped at the younger man. Daniel took advantage and lunged at Jack, head lowered as he rammed into Jack's stomach. The move no doubt looked impressive for the crowd, but Jack felt no pain as he went down. Daniel somehow managed to cushion his landing.
Daniel knew! Damnit, now Jack was irritated. What fun was this going to be? He leapt back to his feet, pushing past the pain. Now way was he going to let Daniel take it easy on him! Jack rushed at the younger man, fists flying. He was pleased when he heard the smack of skin on skin as Daniel doubled over.
Jack moved to grab Daniel in a headlock, but the archaeologist wiggled out of his way, sneaked around him and pinned his arms behind his back. Daniel leaned into Jack's ear and Jack heard the younger man take in a breath in preparation to speak.
Before Daniel had the chance, Jack slammed his head into Daniel's face. The younger man released Jack's arms with a grunt and clutched at his nose. Jack took the moment to look around the gym. As he suspected, Feretti had spread the word and was standing in the center of the large crowd with a telltale sheet of paper in his hands. Teal'c and Carter flanked either side of him, large smiles the predominant feature on their faces. Teal'c nodded at him.
Jack furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, wondering again what went on in the hall. More than just telling Daniel he was hurt, he was sure. His thoughts ended abruptly when he felt something heavy slam into the back of his legs. Again he was down on the mat. Daniel quickly placed himself over Jack's chest and flashed him a look telling him to stay down. Hell, no! Something was up, and whatever it was, Jack was sure he wouldn't like it.
Flipping Daniel off easily, Jack scrambled to his feet. Shit, they weren't going at it very hard and already he was breathless and sweaty. He ripped off his shirt and flung it away. The action was rewarded with howls of approval from the female contingent. Jack unconsciously flexed his pecs in response.
Daniel rolled his eyes and wiped the blood from his nose. Jack was glad to see Daniel sweating as well. The younger man apparently didn't want to be outdone. Jack watched in amusement as Daniel whipped off his shirt and tossed it aside. Daniel's show of manliness was greeted with howls from both genders and Jack laughed at the flush spreading across the archaeologist's face.
Daniel didn't seem to think it funny, however, and slammed into Jack again. Jack felt the archaeologist's arms circle his waist and his legs flew out from under him. Daniel rotated them in mid air, taking the brunt of the fall.
"Damnit, Jack, will you just listen to me?" Daniel whispered in his ear, covering his words in the jumble of arms and legs. "Stop being so pig headed and play along. Trust us."
Jack paused and looked at Carter and Teal'c. Carter glanced surreptitiously at her watch and flashed him her index finger.
Teal'c hadn't sold him out.
Daniel felt Jack relax above him and allowed the older man to roll off him. He caught Jack's eyes and saw his friend now understood, or at least was willing to accept Teal'c's plan.
Jack nodded slightly at him and Daniel knew this was the last round. He tried not to smile as he quickly moved to take Jack's knees from under him. Jack went down easily, flipped on his back and Daniel crawled on top of him again. Jack made it look as though he was struggling to rise.
"Time!" Daniel heard someone call out, and he rolled off Jack immediately.
"You okay?" he whispered to Jack, still a little afraid he'd further injured Jack's back.
"Great, I think. What's going on?"
"You'll see."
Daniel moved to his knees with a triumphant grin on his face, playing the crowd for all he was worth. Shocked faces gawked at him, rapidly turning into scowls as they reached for their wallets.
Daniel plastered a confused look on his face as the money was passed to Feretti for distribution. He shot a hurt look at Jack, visually chiding him for his shenanigans.
"You opened this up for betting, Jack?"
"Well, you know," Jack mumbled in mock embarrassment at his defeat. "I couldn't resist. Ferretti seemed to think it was a good idea."
Daniel attempted to look betrayed as he addressed Ferretti. "Didn't anyone bet on me?" he begged piteously.
"Well, actually Daniel, two did. Teal'c and Carter...what the hell?" Realization dawned on Ferretti's face. "You fixed it! Goddamn, you fixed the fight!"
Carter grinned at Ferretti cheekily as she audaciously flipped through the wad of cash in her hand. "Why Major, what gives you that impression?"
Teal'c joined her, both of them dividing the money and handing half to Daniel and Jack. "Major Ferretti, is it not common practice for fights to be rigged in this manner? Perhaps you should have considered the possibility before recommending everyone to place their money on O'Neill."
Ferretti scowled as Jack chimed in, "I do have to thank you, Lou. You spread the world like a brush fire. All we had to do was convince you I couldn't possibly lose to Daniel, and it seems Teal'c did a fine job of that. I'm surprised you didn't figure it out earlier."
"Really. I mean, is it so far out of the scope of possibility that I might just be able to win?" Daniel added his two cents. "I'm hurt, Ferretti. I really am."
"You know, Daniel, I do have to admit you did a fine job. I hardly felt a thing. Very impressive," Jack clapped Daniel's shoulders, a wince of pain flashing across his face. "I think you'll do just fine next week."
"What? What?" Ferretti asked.
"I threw my back out this morning, Lou. There was no way I could win. So I figured I might as well profit from my loss, right? I didn't expect to split it four ways, but hell, we're a team," Jack said jokingly. "Besides, we made more than I actually thought we would. Still managed a tidy profit."
Ferretti sputtered in irritation, "You know my reputation's shot now, don't you Jack?"
Daniel grinned at the other man's offended tone. "Well, they say all's fair in love and war, Ferretti. Maybe we should add gambling to that clich."
Jack added insult to Ferretti's injury, "What do you say guys? A quick trip to the infirmary for Daniel's nose - sorry about that by the way - and my back, and then we'll hit the town, compliments of the fine men and women of the SGC."
Daniel chuckled as they left the gym, much more confident than when he first arrived.
The End

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  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.