Divide & Conquer / Window of Opportunity
D & C
Daniel knelt behind his desk and bent over, searching for the pen that had rolled off the desk. If it had been one of the standard government-issued pens, he would’ve grabbed another from the center drawer, but this one had been a present from Jack. He didn’t get many of them. This one was remarkably special because Jack had given it to him a few weeks back, after that cluster of an incident created by Anise/Freya. The pen was an extra-fine fountain. They were expensive. More importantly, they were great for journal writing and cartography. Not exactly known for the latter, Daniel preferred it.
After retrieving the pen, he mildly bumped his head against his chair as he pushed off the floor to stand up . . .
And found Jack and Sam standing nearby.
“Uh, hi guys.” They looked uncomfortable. “What’s, uh, up?”
Sam still looked as if she’d been crying, even though the redness around her eyes had gone. It was the intense emotion he read there, though he admitted to himself that he could be seeing something that wasn’t there. Knowledge was sometimes misleading.
“We need to talk to you,” Sam began. She and Jack exchanged uncomfortable looks.
Daniel found himself waggling his pen and set it on the table. You don’t waggle fountain pens. Ever. He eyed his friends, ran through several reasons why they’d be acting this way and sighed. “No, you don’t. I get it. You care about each other. Duh. Move on.”
“Are you sure?” Jack asked.
Daniel probed his cheek with his tongue. “Is there something else that happened?”
“No,” Sam said, fidgeting. “Not since P3X-234.”
“And?” This was getting ridiculous.
“And I was talking to Teal’c about what happened there. And I inadvertently insinuated that the Colonel wasn’t interested in me because he . . . had you.”
“You know about . . .” Daniel said to her. He looked at Jack, who winced.
“I had to let her know that she and I were back to what we’d been before Thor showed up.”
“Friends,” Sam said.
“Co-workers,” Jack added.
“Okay. So, let me get this straight—”
“No pun intended,” Jack said, making Sam grin.
Daniel glared at him as he went on. “Teal’c knows. And he’s . . .?”
“Confused,” Sam said.
“Angry,” Jack added.
“He’s probably going to question you,” Jack said.
“Indeed,” Teal’c said at the door.
“Hold it! Hold it! Hold it!” Daniel said, his anger suddenly raised like a monster from the depths. He pointed at Jack and Sam. “You two. Can it.” He pointed to Teal’c. “There’s no need for a conversation.” He paused, watching all three of them adopt varying degrees of consternation on their faces. “So, you two,” Daniel said, gesturing between Sam and Teal’c, “now know. There isn’t anything more to talk about. Jack and I have our issues, but that isn’t going to affect the team.” He paused, looking directly at Jack with a meaningful expression. “From now on.” He waved at all three of them. “Now, can you guys go find something better to do so I can get back to work?” Daniel felt his face heating up and schooled himself to stop it.
Jack and Sam left the room but Teal’c lingered in the doorway. He opened his mouth but Daniel said, not even looking at him, “Nope. Not talking about it. Unless you’d like me to go on about Drey’auc and Shon’auc?”
Teal’c blinked. “I do not.” He bowed, allowed a slight curve upward of his mouth, and left.
“Good grief,” Daniel said and went back to work.
Window of Opportunity
Daniel and Jack were sitting on Jack’s bed, backs against the headboard, watching the TV Jack had bought for his bedroom. On the screen was Jaws.
“I, um . . .” Jack began. “Should I tell you about all that happened during the endless time loops?”
Daniel pointed the remote at the TV and muted the movie. He turned slightly to give Jack his attention. “Do you need to?”
“I . . . think so.”
“Did something bad happen? Aside from Groundhog Day revisited?”
“Depends on your definition of bad,” Jack said.
“Don’t do that. You know what I mean.”
Jack swallowed. “I’m feeling guilty. If I share why, is that mean of me, or cluelessly thoughtful?”
Daniel shook his head. “Guilt that you betrayed us? Or guilt that you did something that doesn’t affect us?”
Jack made a face. “Both. Pretty much.”
Daniel had already considered just how long it would’ve taken for he himself to lose it and start . . . misbehaving. After the fiftieth loop or so, he’d have done anything to break the monotony. He gave Jack a look and sighed. “You sure you want to . . . unburden yourself?”
“It’s selfish,” Jack said, looking rather bleak. “I get that.”
“So you feel bad. And you want me to be . . . angry? Feel just as bad?”
Jack shrugged. “I don’t know. So I’m asking you. What should I do?”
“Go to confession?” Daniel glibly suggested.
“Daniel,” Jack said, glowering.
“I don’t know if I want to know,” Daniel told him. “Do I need to know? Doubtful. Should I indulge you in your quest for honesty?” He paused a beat or two. “Maybe. Probably.”
“After the loops went past a seventy or something, I started to lose patience. Frustration was high. So one time, I marched into the control room where Hammond, Carter, and others were discussing the loop issue, and I handed Hammond a sheet of paper. My resignation. Then I promptly kissed Carter.”
Daniel made a face and closed his eyes. “Explains that creepy look in the mess hall after it all ended.”
“Creepy look?” Jack protested.
“When I asked you if you did anything without worrying about consequences. The I know something and you don’t look. It’s aggravatingly gross, given the circumstances.”
“I did the exact same thing with you,” Jack said, the same smile running across his face as the one in the mess hall.
Daniel turned fully, sitting up straight. “Explain.”
“We were in the briefing room. You and Carter were giving the presentation about . . . whatever . . . and I got up, handed Hammond my resignation, then grabbed you and kissed you. The next time loop, I grabbed your hand and led you out of the briefing room.” Jack grinned.
“And?” Daniel asked, a slight smile on his face.
“Had marathon sex in a storage closet down the hall.” He winked at Daniel. “The one that locks from the inside. Did that a few times before I got the timing right.”
“Timing?” Daniel asked.
“Imagine getting to the edge and then bam! The loop starts over.”
Daniel grimaced. “Right.”
“I ended up in the brig at the end of a few loops.”
Daniel blinked. “Why?” he drawled.
The rare Bad Boy smile crossed Jack’s face. “I locked Hammond out of his office, managed to get the President on the horn, then told him what I thought of him and his policies and suggested what he could do with them.” Daniel covered his mouth, grinning. Jack added, “Teal’c joined in. First time I’d seen him both embarrassed and smug at the same time. If only we’d had the time to tase Kinsey when he inevitably showed up.”
Daniel grinned. “And the reason for the other times you got locked up?”
“Similar mischief,” Jack said. “Best one of the lot was locking Hammond out of his office so you and I could . . .”
“I went along with that? Cold?” Daniel asked, brows raised. “I mean, without any knowledge of the time loops?”
“Yep. Hardly surprising.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“You kidding? You’re the one who first suggested that I could do anything and not worry about the consequences.”
“Wait. I said that yesterday when it was all over.”
“No, you first suggested it during loop number who-gives-a-flying-fuck. After that, I kissed Carter. Then you. Then we went way past that.”
Daniel stared at Jack for about five seconds, a dirty look slowly crossed his face. “Sam said we were stuck for about three months.”
“Imagine how many ten-hour loops that is,” Jack sighed.
Daniel did the math. “216.” Jack blinked at him. “Ninety days. Multiply that by twenty-four hours per day. That’s 2,160 hours. Divide by ten-hour cycles. That’s 216 loops.” Jack jogged his brows as he stared off, clearly thinking about them. “So just how much of that was mischief-making versus needing to learn how to get us out of that mess?”
Jack grinned, took Daniel’s hand, and brought it under the sheets. “Would you like some reenactments?”
Daniel smiled. “Try me.”