Conundrum

 “I’m telling you, Daniel, The Simpsons is the greatest thing on TV.”

“Jack, it’s a cartoon,” Daniel retorted, picking up his pace in a futile endeavor to escape.

“And your point is?” Jack asked, matching Daniel’s stride with little effort.

“Jack, I really don’t want to get into this right now,” Daniel sighed, rounding another corner.  God, I didn’t know this place had so many corridors.

“Excuse me?  Since when did you not want to debate something?” Jack asked incredulously.

“Debate?” Daniel said, stopping in mid-stride.

“Ow!  Damn it, warn a guy when you’re going to do that,” Jack grumbled, massaging his wrenched neck.

“Sorry, but when did we ever debate anything?” Daniel queried.

“We’re debating now,” Jack said.

“No, we’re arguing,” Daniel corrected.

“That’s what debating is about,” Jack retorted.

Daniel stared at Jack, shook his head and resumed walking.

“Hey, don’t walk away from me,” Jack called, catching up to his teammate.

“Debating isn’t arguing,” Daniel sighed, still walking.  “Debating is where two parties state opposing opinions and provide evidence to support said opinions.”

“I can do that,” Jack said.

“Well, I can’t,” Daniel replied.

“What do you mean you can’t?”

“Because I have never seen an episode of The Simpsons,” Daniel mumbled.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jack said, snagging Daniel’s elbow and pulling him to an abrupt stop.

“Jack, I know what you’re going to say, and I admit it, I’m an ungrateful wretch,” Daniel said.

“You haven’t watched any of the tapes I’ve given you?” Jack asked incredulously.

Daniel took a deep breath, blew out his cheeks, and said, “No.”

“That settles it; I’m coming over tonight and we’ll watch them together,” Jack said emphatically.

“Uh, no, we won’t,” Daniel said, pursing his lips and furrowing his brow.

“Why, you got a date or something?”

“No, nothing like that,” Daniel said, smiling quickly.

“What’s the problem then?  Oh, you didn’t?”  Jack said, shaking his head at the younger man’s guilty look.

Daniel sighed and shrugged.  “There was this week-long marathon on Ancient Civilizations and—”

“A week?  You taped over all of them?”  Jack cried indignantly.  “How the hell did you manage that?”

“You know Mrs. MacGyver next door?”

“That sweet old lady who likes to bake for you?” Jack growled.

“She likes to do things for people,” Daniel said, “like change VCR tapes.  Oh, look, there’s the elevator,” he said jogging to the nearest escape.

“This conversation isn’t over,” Jack warned as he caught up to his prey.

They elevator doors slid open to reveal Major Samantha Carter.

“Colonel, Daniel,” she greeted.

“Carter.”

“Hi, Sam.  Oh, I forgot something,” Daniel said.  “I’ll catch up with you guys later.”

“I’ll wait for Daniel,” Jack said to Sam, pushing the button to send the elevator on its way.

“Yes, sir,” Sam said, puzzled.

“Jack, I’m sorry about the tapes.  It was rude and thoughtless, but I’m not trying to avoid you.  I really did forget something,” Daniel explained.

That’s not it,” Jack said, waving his hand.  “It’s Carter.”

“Sam?”

“I always seem to get stuck in elevators with her,” Jack murmured.

“What are you saying?” Daniel asked in confusion.

“I don’t know.  She makes me nervous or something,” Jack shrugged.

“Nervous?  What do you mean nervous?” Daniel pressed.

“Don’t you have something to get?” Jack asked, trying to avoid the inquisition.

“It was only a pen,” Daniel shrugged.

“A pen?   You were trying to get away from me,” Jack scowled.

“It’s my favorite pen,” Daniel said defensively, “but we’re talking about you and Sam now.”

“Don’t say that,” Jack grumbled.

“Say what?  You and Sam?”

“Yes, that,” Jack muttered.  “It makes us sound like an item or something.”

Daniel stared at his friend in genuine puzzlement.

“Am I missing something here?  Did something happen while I was …?” Daniel said, waving his hand up in the air.

“Look, can we not talk about this right now?” Jack said, pressing the elevator button.

“No, no, this is important,” Daniel said seriously.  “Jack, is there something going on between you and Sam?”

“No!  And would you keep your voice down,” Jack hissed.

“My voice is down,” Daniel said.   “You’re the one yelling.”

“I’m not yelling,” Jack murmured.

“Not now,” Daniel agreed.

“Daniel,” Jack said, exasperated.

“Jack,” Daniel replied in equal exasperation.

The elevator doors slid open, revealing an empty compartment.

Jack checked the corridor then grabbed Daniel by the forearm.  “Okay, get in here,” he said, tugging his teammate into the elevator.

“Where are we going?” Daniel asked as the elevator began to descend.

“Nowhere,” Jack said, pressing the emergency stop.

“Um, why did you—”

“Do you want to talk about Carter or not?” Jack interrupted.

“I’m listening,” Daniel said, concern and curiosity evident in his eyes.

Jack licked his lips nervously and said, “I think she likes me.”

“I take it you mean ‘like’ as in …”

“Let’s get naked and do it,” Jack said with a worried grimace.

“I can’t believe you just said that,” Daniel said in shock.  “Never mind the whole against regulations thing, but does the name Pete Shanahan ring any bells?”

“Of course it does,” Jack replied.

“Well then,” Daniel prompted.

“I still get this feeling when we’re alone that she’s, I don’t know, trying to tell me something.”

“That she wants to have sex with you?” Daniel suggested trying not to smile.

“Is that so far beyond the realm of possibility?” Jack countered, slightly miffed.

“I’m sorry, Jack, but I just don’t see it.  My God, why would she want you?  I mean, not that you’re not an attractive man,” Daniel said hastily, “but other than your jobs, what do you have in common?”

“Haven’t you heard ‘opposites attract’?” Jack said.

“Jack, there are opposites and then there are, well, you and Sam.  No offense, but why do you think she’s even interested?  She’s always turned down your fishing trips, hasn’t she?”

“That’s different,” Jack said, “and besides, I invite everyone fishing.”

“Yeah, right,” Daniel muttered.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jack challenged.

“Once, Jack.  You asked me once and I had just had my appendix out.  I could barely sit up, never mind get out of bed,” Daniel replied.

“Only once?” Jack frowned.  “I’ve only invited you once?”

“Yes,” Daniel said, looking mildly put out.

“So, do you want to go fishing next weekend?”

“No, but thanks for asking,” Daniel said.

“Argh, why do I bother?” Jack groused, as he reached across Daniel and pressed the elevator button.

“Jack.”

“What?”

“You don’t have to get testy, and we’re not moving,” Daniel replied.

“I’m not testy and what do you mean we’re not moving?” Jack said, slamming the button.

“That’s what I mean,” Daniel said.  “The total absence of movement.”

Jack turned and gave Daniel a suspicious look.

“Don’t look at me,” Daniel said, holding up his hands.  “I can’t do that stuff anymore.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack grumbled, snatching the emergency phone.  “Hello, this—I don’t believe this.”

“What?”

“An answering machine.  I’ve got a stupid answering machine.  Yadda, yadda, get to the damn beep,” Jack growled.

“Jack, you’re taking this way too personally,” Daniel said.

“I’m not—well, it’s about time,” Jack roared into the phone.  “This is Colonel O’Neill.  Dr. Jackson and I are stuck in this damn elevator.  Fix it!” he shouted, slamming the phone down.

Daniel flinched at the sound.  “Okay, we’re doomed,” he murmured to himself.

Jack glared at his fellow prisoner and then slumped against the wall.  “Well, it could be worse.  You could be Carter.”

“Maybe,” Daniel said, looking thoughtful.

“Maybe?  Maybe what?”

“Well, maybe I’m gay and I have the hots for you.  Ever think of that?” Daniel asked, arching his eyebrows.

“Hell, no!  Why would I think that?”

“I don’t know,” Daniel shrugged.  “Why do you think Sam’s interested?” he asked, sidling over.  “Does she get into your space?” he asked quietly, nudging closer to Jack.

“What the hell are you doing?  Get on your own side,” Jack said, backing up.

“No place to run, Jack,” Daniel whispered, batting his eyelashes.

“Daniel, unless you want to eat through a straw, cut it out, right now,” Jack warned.

“My heart, Jack?  I’ll cut out my heart for you,” Daniel crooned.  “Anything to feel your big, strong—oh, God, I can’t do it anymore,” he choked as he burst out laughing.

“Jackson, you are an asshole,” Jack said, smiling in spite of himself.

“Had you going, didn’t I?” Daniel snickered.

“No,” Jack denied, “but you gave me an idea.  If Carter thinks I’m gay she’d drop me like a hot potato, right?”

“Jack, listen to yourself,” Daniel said.  “Sam is in love with Pete.  General Hammond even gave her permission to tell him about the SGC.  You think she’d risk that information with someone she just wanted to have a  fling with?  What does that say about her?”

“I don’t follow,” Jack said.

“Even if there was no Pete, do you really think Sam would risk her career or yours for a relationship?  And to be honest, I don’t see that there’s anything going on between you two.”

 “I never said there was anything going on,” Jack retorted.  “I’m just saying I’m uncomfortable when I’m alone with her.  I can’t explain it, but there’s something not right,” he said helplessly.

“You’re really serious?” Daniel said, his voice soft.

“You think I’d make something like this up?” Jack wondered.

“No, no, of course not,” Daniel said.

“Crap, Daniel, what do I do?” Jack implored.  “If she’s interested in me this could jeopardize the whole team.”

Daniel was saved from providing an inadequate answer by the ringing of the phone.  He snatched it up.

“Hellooo?  Yes, Sergeant Siler.  Jack and I are stuck—”

“Siler, get your ass down here!” Jack bellowed.

“Uh, yes, thank you for your concern.  He can be like a caged animal,” Daniel agreed in a low murmur.

“Give me that,” Jack said, grabbing for the phone.

Daniel swatted the offending hand away, frowned and held up a finger, indicating Jack to listen.

“Emergency button?” Daniel said.  “No why would we press the emergency button?  I see.  A memo?  A memo stating that the emergency buttons were on the fritz and under no circumstances to touch them.  Uh, no, I don’t remember that one.  Uh, Jack, did you get a memo?” Daniel asked.  “No, no, I don’t think he did,” Daniel said in response to Jack’s pantomime of what he thought of memos.  “You know, I may have inadvertently backed into it or something.  That must have been what happened.  So, um, how long before—two-two hours?”

“What?” Jack cried.  “Blast the damn thing open!  Give me that!” Jack snapped and grabbed the phone out of Daniel’s hand.  “Siler!  Get your ass … Siler?”  Jack’s chin dropped to his chest, the phone still clutched in his hand.

“Hung up on you, did he?” Daniel guessed.

“I want his name in the Christmas draw,” Jack muttered.

“Maybe it was a joke and we’ll be out of here in a few minutes,” Daniel reasoned.  “You know what a funny guy Siler can be.”

“Are you trying to make me feel better?” Jack asked, looking up.

“Is it working?” Daniel asked, raising his eyebrows.

Jack stared at his teammate and chuckled.  “Yeah,” he said, patting the side of Daniel’s face, “it’s working.”

Daniel smiled and slid down to the floor, placing his notebook beside him.

“Might as well get comfortable,” he said, gesturing to Jack to follow suit.

Jack sat opposite to Daniel, his legs splayed out in front.

“So, you think I’m nuts?”  Jack asked.

Daniel frowned and pursed his lips.  “Is that a rhetorical question?”

“No,” Jack said, smiling and shaking his head.

“You’re talking about Sam?”

Jack nodded in response.

“Okay,” Daniel said slowly.  “Let’s say there is something to your, um, concerns.  When did you start to feel uncomfortable around her?”

“After Anise stuck my head in that damn lie detector,” Jack said.

“That-that was three years ago,” Daniel said incredulously.

“And that’s when it started,” Jack sighed.  “I think.”

Daniel shook his head, puzzled.  “I don’t remember anything—”

“It wasn’t in the report,” Jack interrupted.  “We agreed to keep it in the room.”

“We?”

“Me, Fraiser, Carter, Anise, and Freya, of course,” Jack said.  “That stupid machine said we were lying about what happened when our armbands failed and Carter was trapped on the other side of the force field.”

“What do you mean ‘lying’?”  Daniel frowned.

“Carter pointed it out.  She said I lied about what I was feeling at the time.  She was right.  I wasn’t going to leave her there to die.  I’d rather have died than lose her.  I cared for her more than I should,” Jack admitted quietly.

“Jack, that doesn’t mean anything,” Daniel said.  “You wouldn’t have left me or Teal’c either.  That doesn’t mean you’re in love with us.  Does it?” he asked with mock fear.

Jack snickered and shook his head.  “I know what you’re trying to do, Daniel, and I appreciate it, but I did leave you to die on Klorel’s ship.”

“That’s not the same thing at all,” Daniel argued.  “You left me because we were all going to die, but you still had a chance to save Earth.  Besides, I told you to leave.  Not that you ever listen to me,” he added as an afterthought.

Jack opened his mouth to protest when he saw the small smile on his friend’s lips.  He smiled in return and drummed his fingers restlessly on the floor.  “Well, you’re right about one thing.  I wouldn’t have left you or Teal’c.”

“So what you’re saying is because Sam’s a woman, your feelings must have been sexual?” Daniel asked.

Jack shrugged but didn’t say anything.

“Did Sam admit she had similar feelings for you?” Daniel asked.

“Not in so many words,” Jack said.

“Right,” Daniel said thoughtfully.  “Whose idea was it to keep it in the room?”

“Carter’s.”

“Okay, I may be way out on limb here,” Daniel said leaning forward, “but maybe Sam was confusing admiration for a commanding officer for something else.  A little harmless fantasy, perhaps?” 

“Bit of a stretch, isn’t it?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know.  God knows our sex lives suck, with the exception of Teal’c, of course.”  Daniel replied, picking up his notebook.

“Hey, hey, you’re not thinking of writing any of this down, are you?” Jack asked in dismay.

Daniel smiled, ripped out a page and scrunched it into a tight ball, placed it between his legs and flicked it over to Jack.

“I remember this,” Jack smiled as he flicked the paper ball back to Daniel.

“Think about it,” Daniel said.  “I don’t pretend to understand women, but if you were in Sam’s place, the only man on a female team, wouldn’t you sort of be interested in the leader and want her attention?”

“Not the same thing; guys are pigs,” Jack said, concentrating on his next shot.

“Speak for yourself,” Daniel retorted.

Jack chuckled and flicked his shot.  “Seriously, practically every guy, alien or otherwise, falls for her.  She’s like the female version of you.”

“You’re one to talk, and I never had sex,” Daniel countered.  “Hathor doesn’t count, and thankfully I don’t remember, and Shyla, well, I wasn’t exactly myself,” he grimaced.

“Fair enough.  Kynthia doesn’t count because I was drugged, and Laira, well, she counts, but I never thought I’d see home again,” Jack said.

They flicked the paper ball back and forth a few more times, lost in their own thoughts.

“You’re right that Sam’s had a lot of admirers,” Daniel said, “but do you think she’s had sex with anyone, other than Pete?”

“I try not to think about that,” Jack scowled.  “I have my own problems.  I just realized I’ve only had one relationship in the last seven years.”

“I’ve had nothing,” Daniel said glumly, “although, technically, I’ve only been alone for four years.”

Jack could see Daniel recede into his past: the hurt of losing Sha’re to Apophis, and the guilt at not saving her.  I’m not going to let you do it, Danny.

 “So much for being gigolos when we retire,” Jack quipped, trying to lighten the mood.

Daniel looked up and smiled.  “Yeah, you in your electric scooter and me in my walker.”

“Now there’s an image,” Jack laughed, throwing the paper ball at Daniel’s face.

“Back to reality,” Daniel said, snatching the paper ball from the air.  “This thing with you and Sam.”

“There is no ‘thing’,” Jack stressed.

“You brought it up,” Daniel reminded.  “Anyhow, Sam’s been through a lot, too.  She jokes about her ‘black widow’ status, but each one of those losses has really hurt her.”

“I know,” Jack replied.

“And most of them happened after the zatarc incident,” Daniel added.

“What’s your point?”

“Well, don’t shoot the messenger, but you seem to be saying that Sam showed an interest in all those other guys because she couldn’t have you,” Daniel theorized, biting the inside of his cheek.

“I don’t think I like your tone,” Jack said, his eyes narrowing.

“Okay, let’s say she was interested,” Daniel conceded.

“Was?”

“Bear with me, Jack.  Maybe she just wanted a little harmless flirtation.  You’re both military; she knows nothing can come of it,” Daniel theorized.

“You’re saying I’m a safe bet.”

 “You are, unless …” Daniel frowned.

“Unless what?  What are you looking at me like that for?” Jack grumbled.

“Well, you said this whole ‘thing’ started three years ago.”

“”So?” Jack agreed, his eyes narrowing.

“How many times have you asked her to go fishing since then?” Daniel queried.

“I’d rather not talk about that,” Jack said, studying his fingernails.

“You liked it,” Daniel said, comprehension dawning on his face.

“What the hell are you saying?”

“Jack, isn’t it obvious?” Daniel smiled.  “You’ve been flirting with her. Wait, wait, wait, hear me out,” he soothed, holding up his hand.  “I’m not saying you consciously pursued anything, but maybe subconsciously you got a little thrill from the possibility that Sam found or finds you attractive.”

“Keep digging that hole, Daniel,” Jack grumbled.

“It’s your hole,” Daniel corrected.

“Ah, crap,” Jack sighed and bumped his head against the wall a few times.

“It’s not the end of the world, Jack.  If Teal’c and I haven’t noticed anything, I mean, what’s to notice?”

“With all due respect, Daniel, you can be a little clueless,” Jack said affectionately.

“About me, yes,” Daniel agreed,” but not about people I care about.”

Jack’s eyes widened at the sentiment and he smiled.  “Thanks.”

“Don’t let it go to your head,” Daniel said dismissively.  “I noticed the fishing trip things, of course, but I just figured you were threatening her like you do with Teal’c.”

“He hated it that much?” Jack asked, looking hurt.

“It was the bugs,” Daniel said gently, “and the fact that there weren’t any fish.”

“There are fish; I’ll prove it to you sometime,” Jack declared.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Daniel replied.

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Cool,” Jack said.  “When?”

“When?  Um, uh, sometime … down the road, but back to you and Sam,” Daniel said quickly.  “If these feelings, or whatever you want to call them, have been around for a few years … actually, it has to be longer than that because according to you, you admitted to feeling more for her than you should three years ago,” Daniel said, his face radiating interest.  “So that means there was something already there.  Just how long have you liked Sam?”

“For crying out loud, I don’t like Carter,” Jack retorted.  “I mean, I like her, but I don’t ‘like’ her; she’s not even my type.”

“Yes, well, we won’t get into that,” Daniel murmured, “however,” he said, holding up his index finger, “if you don’t have ‘feelings’ for Sam then why did you say you did, or at least intimate it, three years ago?”

“I don’t know.  Carter said I did and it seemed the right thing to say at the time, and that stupid machine confirmed it,” Jack said, feeling frazzled.

“Stupid machine is right.  They don’t use it anymore for a reason,” Daniel said.

“Are you trying to make me feel better or worse?” Jack asked.

“I’m trying to understand why you said what you said,” Daniel explained.

“Because I’m an idiot?” Jack suggested.

“No, besides that,” Daniel said, easily evading a paper ball aimed at his face.

“We need another piece of paper,” Jack groused.  “That one’s lost its mojo.”

“You think this stuff grows on trees?” Daniel replied, carefully removing a sheet from his notebook.

“Ha, ha, don’t give up your day job,” Jack muttered.

“How do you get your hair like that?” Daniel asked.

“Like what?”

“Like that,” Daniel said, poking his fingers up through his hair.

“I don’t know.  I wash it, go like this,” Jack said, scrubbing his hair, “and then it dries.  Why?”

“It’s, uh, very you,” Daniel said.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“We’re not accomplishing anything here, are we?” Jack sighed, flicking the new paper ball to Daniel.

“I think if Sam heard what we’ve been saying she’d kick both our butts through the Stargate, minus a GDO,” Daniel replied.

“I can’t believe you called her a flirt,” Jack said, shaking his head.

“You started it,” Daniel retorted, “and I called you both flirts.”

“I don’t recall you jumping to her defense when I said she attracted all and sundry males,” Jack countered.

“That’s because she does,” Daniel said reasonably, “but that’s beside the point.  The point is, you basically admitted you’ve been flirting with her ever since she suggested you both had feelings for each other.”

“For crying out loud, you make it sound like a bad soap opera,” Jack grumbled.

“It is what it is,” Daniel said matter of fact.

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” Daniel smiled.  “I just like the sound of it: it is what it is.  Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?”

“What’s taking Siler so long; I have to pee,” Jack grumbled.

“I need some coffee,” Daniel sighed, closing his eyes and resting his head against the wall.

The two men sat in glum silence until Jack hit Daniel with a paper ball.

“You’re supposed to be helping me,” Jack groused.

“I’ve been trying, but you keep shooting me down,” Daniel said.

“Well, try again,” Jack said, waving his hand listlessly.

Daniel stared at Jack, gauging the older man’s sincerity.

“Please?” Jack said.

“Okay, let’s review.  Three years ago you admitted, in front of witnesses, that you cared for Sam more than you should, and that you would rather have died then lose her,” Daniel summarized.

“Right,” Jack agreed, wincing.

“But, neither of you had nor have done anything inappropriate before or since, right?”

“Right again,” Jack said.

“Then what is the problem?” Daniel asked, trying to quell his agitation.

“The problem is I think Carter wants to do something,” Jack said.

“Okay, and you think this because lately she seems to be on the verge of trying to tell you something,” Daniel said.

“Yes.”

“But she doesn’t say anything because?” Daniel prompted.

“I cut her off,” Jack said.

“Why?”  Daniel asked.

“Obviously because I don’t want to hear what she has to say,” Jack said testily.

“Jack, you are giving me a headache,” Daniel groused, rubbing his temples.

“You think you’ve got a headache?  I’ve been worrying about this for months,” Jack countered.

“Months?  Not years?” Daniel queried.

“No, it’s just been this past year,” Jack admitted.

“Since I came back?” Daniel asked in surprise.

“If you think she’s jealous of you, you can dismiss that thought right now,” Jack scowled.

“Just a thought,” Daniel snickered.

“And stay on your own side,” Jack warned.

“I’ll be good,” Daniel smiled, “as hard as it may be.”

“Can we get back to the point?” Jack demanded.

“What do you think I’ve been trying to do,” Daniel muttered.  “Okay, so we’re talking about months.”

“Maybe a year … and a bit,” Jack added, waving his hand.  “It comes and goes.”

“Right.  Okay.  I know Sam hasn’t had an easy time the last couple of years.  She had a really hard time dealing with my, uh, death,” Daniel explained.

“We all did,” Jack clarified.

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged quickly, “and I’m sorry.  Anyway, not long after losing me, she thought she lost you on that planet with Maybourne.  According to Teal’c and Dr. Lee, she was really strung out and the idea of another loss was almost too much for her to bear.”

“Yeah, but I came back, and you came back, too,” Jack said.

“And now she’s lost Janet.  We’ve lost Janet,” Daniel corrected.

Both men sat in subdued silence as they thought of their fallen comrade and friend, and the ache in their hearts that her death had wrought.

“You almost died that day, too, if it wasn’t for that vest,” Daniel said.  “I think Sam is afraid of losing another person she cares about without having told them what they mean to her.  I think that’s something we all share.”

Jack couldn’t argue with that; there were a lot of things he had never said to people he cared about.

“Jack, I think she just wants to tell you how much she admires you as a CO, and she’s honored to serve with you.”

“Ya think?” Jack asked, hope flaring in his dark eyes.

“Sam loves her work, and I know she loves us, all of us,” Daniel said.  “The military is her life, and she wouldn’t risk losing that. You know I’m not one for military regulations, but she is, and so are you for that matter, and they are rather specific in regard to relationships.  Sam is no way near retiring, and even if you are, or were, you’re no Pete Shanahan,” Daniel said shrugging.

“You were doing okay there for awhile,” Jack grumbled.

“The question you have to ask yourself, Jack, is do you want something more with Sam?”

“Crap,” Jack murmured, banging his head against the wall.

“Is that a ‘yes’?” Daniel asked gently.

“No,” Jack said, shaking his head, “it’s an ‘I’ve been an ass again’”.

“We should do what we’re good at.”  .

Jack glared at Daniel, but didn’t rise to the bait.

“So, how big of an ass?” Daniel asked

“I’ll let you know after I talk to Carter.”

“You’re really going to bring it up?” Daniel asked.

“I’ll ask about Pete,” Jack said.  “After all, he is ‘hum-worthy’,” he said, arching his eyebrows.

“It’s a start,” Daniel agreed.

“But not in a damn elevator,” Jack emphasized.

“You haven’t really answered my question though,” Daniel said carefully.

“You noticed, huh?” Jack said with a small smile.  “Fair enough.”

 Jack took a deep breath, scrubbed his hair and said, “I won’t deny I’ve enjoyed, and maybe even encouraged, a bit of flirting, but it’s the old adage of a dog chasing cars: it wouldn’t know what the hell to do with one if it caught it.  Crap, I’ve got more in common with you than Carter, for crying out loud.”

“Me?  Jack, we disagree on just about everything,” Daniel said.

“Yeah, but we’ve already established that we agree on that,” Jack said sagely.

“Okay,” Daniel said skeptically.

“And we’re both guys,” Jack declared.

“My God, we might as well send out the wedding invitations now,” Daniel said.

“Ass,” Jack laughed, throwing two scrunched up balls at Daniel.

“Hey, we’re moving!” Daniel said, bracing himself as the elevator lurched.

“Hallelujah,” Jack said, standing up.  He reached down and hauled Daniel to his feet, clasping onto his hand for longer than necessary.  “Thanks,” he said, his dark eyes radiating sincerity and gratitude.

“Glad I could help,” Daniel replied, squeezing Jack’s hand before releasing it.

They stood side by side as the elevator doors whooshed open to reveal a concerned Carter, a bemused Teal’c, and a somewhat nervous Siler.

“Sparky!” Jack cried.  “Good  job!” he enthused, clapping the startled sergeant firmly on the back.

“Thank you, sir,” Siler said tentatively

 “I really need a—” Daniel stopped in mid-sentence as Teal’c held out a large steaming mug of coffee.

“For me?  Teal’c, I’m-I’m, thank you,” Daniel said, accepting the mug and taking a deep swallow.

“If nobody wants the elevator, Colonel, I’ll take it for a test run,” Siler said as he slipped into the empty compartment.

“It’s all yours, Sparky,” Jack said, pressing the button and waving goodbye to Siler as the doors closed. “And I’ll see you kids later.  I’d love to stay and chat, but nature calls.”

“Of course, sir,” Sam said, smiling.

“O’Neill appears very relaxed considering his recent confinement,” Teal’c observed.

“What did you two talk about?” Sam asked, looking at Daniel.

“Oh, stuff.  Guy stuff, mostly,” Daniel said.

“Guy stuff?” Sam snickered.

“It was either that or The Simpsons,” Daniel said giving a shudder.

                                    ********

“Daniel, come on!  I’m freezing my ass off out here!”

“Sorry, Jack, but I was in the middle of saving a document,” Daniel said as he unlocked his front door.  “Why didn’t you call?”

“I did, but someone’s phone is off the hook … again,” Jack said, staring pointedly at Daniel as he brushed by him.

“Oops,” Daniel said.  “I must have, um, jarred it.”

“Yeah, right.  Have you eaten yet?”

“No, I—”

“Good, ‘cause I ordered pizza.  It should be here in fifteen minutes.  Still got beer?”

“Yes, I—”

“Doesn’t matter.  I’ve got some in my truck anyhow.”

“Jack?”

“What?”

“Why are you here?” Daniel asked in puzzlement.

Jack looked at Daniel, smiled and waggled his eyebrows.

Daniel’s eyes widened.  “You talked to Sam!”

Jack’s smiled widened into a grin.

“Daniel, she is so head over heels over Pete, I don’t know what you were so worried about,” Jack said, going to the fridge and snagging a beer.  “You really should learn to relax more.  You want one?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder.

“Sure, why not,” Daniel said amused by his friend’s demeanor.  “So, did you talk about, you know?”

“Yep,” Jack said, uncapping a beer and handing it to Daniel.

“And?”

“And we both admitted we cared for each other, but only in a professional friendship-type of way.  Plus, we may have harmlessly flirted, but it was just a game,” Jack admitted, blushing slightly.

“The stuff she was trying to tell you?”

“Exactly what you said,” Jack replied.

“So, you’re okay with all that?” Daniel asked sincerely.

“Danny boy, I feel reborn,” Jack exulted, hugging the younger man impulsively, “and now I can tease the crap out of Carter with Shanahan,” he grinned.

“This calls for a celebration,” Daniel said, going into the living-room and popping a tape into the VCR.

“Daniel, tell me you are not going to burst my bubble with some boring documentary on … The Simpsons?” Jack said incredulously as the opening credits for his favorite show appeared.

“You know those tapes you gave me?” Daniel said.

“The ones you taped over,” Jack said.

“Allegedly taped over,” Daniel corrected.

“Those are the same tapes?” Jack asked.

“Yep.”

“Then why did you tell me—”

“It seemed the thing to say at the time,” Daniel finished.

“You know, you’re getting flakier all the time,” Jack said, shaking his head.  “It must be that ascension thing.”

“Or the descension,” Daniel suggested.  “Look at us: we’re sitting in my house drinking beer, waiting for pizza, and we’re about to watch The Simpsons.”

“Yeah, how about that,” Jack grinned as he tipped his bottle up.

“My God, I’m turning into you,” Daniel said in mock horror.

“Jesus, Daniel,” Jack griped as he sputtered and choked on his beer.

“Watch the rug!” Daniel exclaimed.

“Your rug is fine,” Jack said, “but my shirt isn’t.”

“I’ll get a dishcloth,” Daniel said, trying not to laugh.

“Get me another beer while you’re at it; I’m wearing half of this one,” Jack called out.

“You barely spilled a mouthful,” Daniel retorted.

“Hey, Daniel, hurry up!  You’ll love this one.  It’s got Bleeding Gums Murphy in it,” Jack yelled.

Daniel winced at the name and shook his head.  “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” he murmured.

Daniel grabbed another beer and returned to the living-room to see a jubilant Jack sitting on the couch, and he knew exactly what he’d gotten himself into.

“What are you grinning at?” Jack asked.

“Nothing.  Everything,” Daniel said, giving Jack his beer.

“Flakier all the time,” Jack mused, his eyes twinkling.  “Sit right here,” he said, patting the seat beside him.  “You are in for a treat.”

Daniel sat next to Jack and took a deep breath as his friend pressed the ‘play’ button.

“Relax,” Jack said, nudging Daniel with his elbow, “we won’t do it all in one sitting.  You have to absorb what you see to get the full effect.”

“Small mercies,” Daniel murmured, sipping his beer.  He noticed Jack look at him sideways.  He glanced up, all wide-eyed innocence.  “What?”

“Nothing,” Jack said, “and everything,” he added with a smile.

Daniel smiled and held out his bottle.  They clinked bottles to understanding and friendship.  They both knew no matter how bad things got, or how bizarre, they would always have each other, and that was indeed worth celebrating.

 

The end

 

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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.